Monday, September 25, 2023

A Voice Out of Poverty by Jillian Haslam (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT ADULT title


A Voice Out of Poverty

ADULT title


Jillian Haslam




GENRE: Memoir






A woman’s ascent from devastating poverty and childhood trauma to international standing as a prominent advocate for the poor and helpless.


As a young girl, Jillian Haslam saved a life. Herself tiny and aching from malnutrition, she stood for hours at a tea shop, begging for a ladle of milk to try and prevent her newborn sister from dying of starvation.


From the slums of Calcutta to the executive floors of a global bank, A Voice out of Poverty offers an unflinching look at one woman’s journey from destitution to success.


Throughout, Haslam demonstrates an inexhaustible drive to rise above adversity and find beacons of positivity in impossible circumstances. But her rise doesn’t stop at the top; she returns to her roots again and again to extend a hand to those left in the impoverished communities that she so narrowly escaped.


British by ancestry and born in India after its independence, Haslam and her family suffered degradation and prejudice. They were forced to live on the streets, flee danger in the middle of the night, and face persistent abuse and starvation.


This treacherous environment is the backdrop of an unlikely story of resilience and an unshakable family bond. From squalor and powerlessness, Haslam finds countless moments of grace, community, gratitude, and love.


A Voice out of Poverty is a raw and inspiring memoir that shows how beauty can be found in improbable places, and how “success” is not just the act of making it through. Rather, it is the act of reaching back to bring others with you.


Goodreads link






A bristly, grey rat jutted its head through a wide crack in the peeling stucco wall, its long tail draped behind and hidden. It squinted its beady eyes and sniffed the air, as a light drizzle started to dampen the ground.


A few feet away, an older homeless woman, sitting under a precarious building canopy, shifted her eyes towards the rat, without moving her head. A stray dog nestled next to her, one of three gathered snuggly around her, bared its teeth, and growled at the rodent, without rising.


The woman swiveled her head in the rat’s direction and shooed it away with a claw-like hand slicing the air. The rat withdrew, vanishing inside the wall. The dog returned its head to rest on its paws and closed its eyes.


The drizzle turned into a light rain.


My mother and I took in the rat scene side by side as we ambled down the street. My eyes remained riveted on the homeless woman. I wondered if she had a family or young children like me. Then, the noisy “pop-pop” of a Vespa flew near my eyes and broke my concentration, causing me to pull my head back abruptly. I gripped my mother’s hand as tightly as I could.


The rain was now steady but not enough to flood the crowded streets or inhibit the pace of the fast-moving foot and vehicle traffic. I looked up to see an old man pulling a rickshaw coming towards us. I stared at him. His emaciated body looked as if his skin could peel off in thin layers, like a stale onion. He stared at me, sharing his single black tooth. I held my stare.


The rickshaw puller veered off the line of his path, forcing a dilapidated scooter that packed an entire family to swerve near us. The scooter splashed mud onto my legs and dress, and I started to cry. My only proper dress was drenched with filth. I now would have to undress to underclothes while it got washed. My mother stopped and crouched in front of me. I didn’t hide my disgust.


Buy links



AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Jillian Haslam was born in 1970 and raised primarily in the slums of Calcutta. Despite the severe devastation of her family’s living circumstances, she completed her education and landed her first major employment as a personal assistant to the CEO at Bank of America in India.


Jillian rose through the ranks, and Bank of America appointed her president of its Charity and Diversity Network in India, where she spearheaded charitable work in four different cities. This led her to receive three philanthropic awards from Bank of America: the Star Recognition award, the Service Excellence award, and The Individual Achievement award.


In 2011, she published the first version of her memoir, Indian. English, which chronicles her life growing up amid dreadful poverty, abuse, and tragedy. The book sold over 150,000 copies, mostly while she was on the speaking circuit. Her story also incited interest from Hollywood and British film directors and producers, leading to the development of a feature film.


Charitable giving became Jillian’s life work. In 2012, she received the first runner up award for The Asian Woman of the Year in the “Social and Humanitarian” category. In early 2015, The Telegraph of Calcutta presented Jillian with the True Legend award for her exceptional contribution to social and humanitarian causes. In mid-2015, she was recognized as a finalist for the Role Model of the Year award for her work delivering speeches in educational institutes across the UK. In late 2016, she received an award for Excellence in Humanitarianism. And, in 2017, she received her greatest accolade, the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award.


Jillian became a speaker in demand and is a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM). She has delivered several TEDx talks, among other prestigious speaking engagements, on various topics that flow from her life story. Jillian speaks on topics that include entrepreneurialism, the power of the mind, and human resilience.


She has also been featured on various TV networks, including Channel 5 and the BBC, and a wide range of print media, including The Independent, The Pioneer, The Times, The Telegraph, The Metro, Gulf News, and other major media outlets. Jillian’s charitable work continues under the auspices of the Remedia Trust where she oversees several separate charities: Ageing Smiles (for the elderly poor), Happy Hearts (for children), Empowering Girls (for teaching various workable skills), India’s Disabled (for building a mobile medical unit), E3 Growth (focused on education, employment, and employability), and the Mother Teresa Project (for women and single mothers).


Jillian currently lives in London with her husband.


Connect with her here:



Facebook: Indian English The Movie





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The tour dates can be found here


My review:


4.5 stars


A Voice Out of Poverty by Jillian Haslam is a sobering yet ultimately inspirational memoir that details the author’s extremely humble beginnings and the factors that made her into the success and role model that she has become. 

This is a distressing and eye-opening insight into the harshness of life in a poverty-stricken country combined with the reminder that we can be inordinately cruel to one another or we can rise above ourselves and learn to extend kindness in a multitude of ways. 

There are a few areas that I would have liked to have had more clarity on, and those who are sensitive to mentions of abuse of all kinds should read with caution, but I am reminded of one of my favorite axioms…that we are who we are because of what we have experienced, and we can regret what has happened, but if it hadn’t, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. 

The author is a very strong person, honed by a crucible of unimaginable experiences, and I think that every person who reads her saga cannot help but be changed for the better by learning from her example. 

The following quotes from the book say it best…

“This book is about prejudice and the sadness and suffering it causes. But it is, above all, about resilience and finding the mental strength to get back up every time the rug of life is pulled from under your feet.”

“My parents repeatedly extolled the value of gratitude, that we should be grateful for everything we had, for life was a blessing, no matter how sad the conditions or how prevalent the abuse and daily suffering.”

A copy of this title was provided for review

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Eight Years Gone by Cate Beauman (Author's note, Spotlight, Excerpt, Review and GIVEAWAY) ADULT title


Cate Beauman’s Eight Years Gone Release Celebration!


A note from the author:

I’m so excited to share this new story with you! I love that Eight Years Gone feels a little different from my other titles on the market.


For over a decade, I’ve been a Romantic Suspense girl, but the last year has brought tons of changes to my personal life. I’d say it’s entirely unrecognizable from twelve months ago.


My husband and I are officially empty-nesters (which I don’t love). We sold almost everything we owned and moved into a 320-sq. ft. tiny house in an entirely different state. My husband completely changed his career. And those are just a few of the wild and whacky shenanigans that shook up my life as I’ve known it for the last twenty-plus years.


But change can be good. It allows us to grow and explore new things—including different aspects of ourselves. Through this new beginning, I’ve discovered that I’m ready to hang up my Romantic Suspense hat—at least for a little while—and focus on Contemporary Romance.


And with that revelation, ideas for Jagger and Grace’s steamy second-chance romance started playing through my mind. Their undeniable connection and chemistry made it so fun to weave their story together.


I hope you’ll love Eight Years Gone as much as I enjoyed telling it.


Here’s to embracing new beginning




ADULT title


Cate Beauman

RELEASE DATE: September 20, 2023




A steamy second chance…

Jagger Tennyson never had it easy, but that all changes when Dr. Steven Evans knocks on his front door. Leaving poverty and hopelessness behind, Jagger creates a life he’s been too afraid to dream of. But tragedy strikes late one night, and everything falls apart. Jagger is forced to walk away, leaving the woman he loves. 


Grace Evans grew up with wealth and privilege, but she’s no stranger to loss and pain. When she meets the gorgeous boy from the wrong side of the tracks, everything changes for the better. Grace has never loved anyone the way she loves Jagger. But he vanishes on the night that nearly destroys her.


Eight years later, Jagger comes home, and nothing is how it was supposed to be. Dreams were shattered, and trust was broken, but he wants to make things right. He’ll do whatever it takes to fight for Grace, but proving he still loves her won’t be easy.


When tragedy befalls Grace again, Jagger can help her pick up the pieces. But can Grace forgive the past?





     Jagger settled his sunglasses in place as he stepped out of the shop’s short alleyway. He passed Simplicity’s storefront as Grace opened the big glass doors in anticipation of the day’s patrons.

     She paused with her hand on the Open sign as their eyes met. Then she turned away, heading farther into the shop.

     “Damn,” he muttered as he kept his pace steady on his walk down the pretty tree-lined stretch of Main Street, barely paying attention to the fall flowers decorating window boxes or the fact that a few of the stores along the block had changed hands since the last time he’d been there.

     He exhaled a long, frustrated breath because the last twenty minutes had gone far worse than he’d expected. Cornering Grace had been a bit of a dick move, but he hadn’t known what else to do, especially after she’d locked him out.

     This entire situation was boggy ground. Everything about the present was new territory.

     Clenching his jaw, he flared his nostrils, remembering how Grace had looked at him while he followed her around the store—hostility and poorly guarded vulnerability. That was new, too, and he didn’t like it.

     He’d watched her. When he pulled up at an empty spot by the coffee shop, he hadn’t realized she would be sitting by the window with Christy.

     Initially, he’d planned to walk over to Maggie’s place and find Grace there, but he’d stared across the street instead, studying how easily Grace talked and laughed with her longtime best friend.

     It was a shame when that had changed. He’d known the exact moment when she spotted him—when her eyes had grown huge with shock and her shoulders stiff with tension.

     “Damn,” he said again because things used to be so easy between them. He and Grace had spent long stretches of each day together for the better part of five years.

     Occasionally, they had argued or pissed each other off, but they’d never been able to stay mad at each other for long. Laughter and fun had always followed apologies and hugs—or a hell of a bout of sweaty makeup sex.

     Clearly, those days were over. But he rubbed at the back of his neck because even as he thought it, he knew it wasn’t that simple. He’d seen the flash of desire in her eyes—had heard the breathiness in her voice after he’d touched her. Time had passed—years—but there was still something between them.

     They needed to have a conversation, even if Grace wasn’t necessarily excited about the idea.

     Is there really anything we need to say?

     He shook his head as her last words to him stung. There was plenty to talk about because Grace had her hands full. When he’d left her behind, her life was supposed to have been better for it. She was supposed to have capitalized on her opportunities and made her dreams come true.





I love listening to music any time I write. I find that the right song at the right moment helps me lock into my flow state. And that’s where the magic happens! These were the songs that spoke to me as I told Grace and Jagger’s story:


·       "Wonderstruck" by Jane & The Boys

·       "18" by One Direction

·       "Longer Than I Thought" by Loote ft. Joe Jonas

·       "Ghost Story" by Carrie Underwood

·       "Hard Sometimes" by Ruel

·       "Butter" by BTS

·       "For Tonight" by Giveon

·      "My Rose" (Luca Edit) by Luca and Emma Castellino

·       "Anyone" by Justin Bieber


Enjoy the Eight Years Gone soundtrack at this Spotify link





About Cate Beauman

Cate Beauman is the multi-award-winning, international bestselling author of The Bodyguards of L.A. County series and the Carter Island Novels. She is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense and contemporary stories.


Cate’s novels have been named Readers’ Favorite Five Star books and have won the Booksellers’ Best Award, Maggie Award for Excellence, the Holt Medallion Award, two-time Aspen Gold Medal, two-time Readers’ Favorite International Gold Medal, three-time Readers’ Favorite International Silver Medal, and the Readers’ Crown Award.


Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband and their St. Bernard, Jack.







Amazon Author Page





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My review:

I'm a little behind in my reading, but thus far, I'm engrossed in the story. The characters are compelling, and I was able to connect with them right away, and sympathize with them for the challenges they have faced. Full review to follow.


Monday, September 11, 2023

A Fall of Light by L.J. Greene (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT ADULT title


A Fall of Light


LJ Greene



GENRE:  Contemporary M/M Romance





LJ Greene brings to life one of her most compelling characters: the sensitive, eccentric, bass guitarist, Greg Van de Meer. A Fall of Light weaves together the strands of Greg’s private and public lives—a shattering personal history, a love affair with potentially disastrous consequences, and family bonds that are stretched to their breaking point.



It’s been fifteen years since Greg was outed by his fundamentalist father at age sixteen and sent from home, with devastating consequences for both he and his younger brother, Asher. Now unlaid ghosts from the past are stirring. With his band’s success on the world stage, Greg’s life takes a complicated turn when he develops a friendship with Louis Angel, an ex-Marine with a secret of his own, and finds himself facing familiar threats from an unexpected source.


Strained loyalties, a private affair, and Greg’s own guarded history collide dangerously until a visit from an old foe forces him to confront past wounds and present beliefs. Allegiances are called into question and he must decide whether the secrets he’s fighting to protect are worth the life he’s finally ready to have.






He’d forgotten. Not just what it felt like to be touched by a man, but how much a part of him those desires truly were. He’d spent so much of his life in wary vigilance, rarely being able to fully enjoy his sexuality or even the fruits of his life. And he’d had so many blessings, but he was always wary. It was exhausting to be so wary.

He closed his eyes, and just for a moment, let himself imagine what it would be like to surrender to another person’s care. No, to Louis’s care, specifically; not some other’s. To Louis’s willingness to take care of him, to lean on him, as he seemed to want Greg to do. To be himself—fully himself—and to trust Louis to accept him, warts and all.

Louis’s face was now turned away, half buried in the white mounds of his pillow, his sleep-warm arms clutching it.

I’m afraid, he explained to him, in his thoughts. I’m afraid I’m going to fall . . . to get used to this, he corrected himself firmly, and you’re going to decide that being with a man—or being with me—isn’t what you imagined it to be. “I told you,” he whispered softly aloud, “I’m not a casual person. And I’m afraid that I won’t be able to be casual about you.”

A soft snore was his only answer. He leaned over, breathing in the musky sweetness of that firm, smooth shoulder, and pressed a small, loving kiss there.

 Buy links:







AUTHOR Bio and Links:




LJ Greene is a self-professed obsessive multi-tasker who writes boring stuff by day and lets her inner romantic fly by night.  This California native is married to the most amazing man and has two beautiful children, now old enough to read her books but still not interested because of the ew, gross factor. She’s an avid reader of all genres with an embarrassingly large ebook collection, and a weird penchant for reading the acknowledgements at the end of a novel.  She’s also a music lover with no apparent musical talent, a travel enthusiast, and a cheese connoisseur.



Twitter: @authorljgreene



 a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here



My review:

3.75 stars


“A Fall of Light” by L.J. Greene follows the evolution of the relationship that develops between a rock star with a troubled past and the man who is supposed to make sure he is safe. In addition to the stresses of being in the closet, there are also dangers from the past that threaten to undermine everything these two are building together.


This adult contemporary gay romance provides encouragement and inspiration for those who have to fight to overcome dysfunctional families and censure from those who should support them. I love that these two find a way to get past their insecurities and learn to trust each other, even as I cringe at the betrayal and emotional blackmail that is all too familiar to those of us who deal with toxic people. I was able to relate to the characters easily and became invested in their journey, and I like the fact that some of the others in the band seem to be destined to get their lives featured as well. I hope to see this couple featured again some time, so we can catch up on what they’re doing.


A copy of this title was provided for review