Sheila's Books Read

Sheila's bookshelf: read

The Best Intentions
Scotland's Melody
The Secret Society of Salzburg
Secret of the Sonnets
20-40-60-Minute Dinners: Meals to Match the Time You Have
Through the Wilderness: My Journey of Redemption and Healing in the American Wild
Secret Santa Claus Club: A Tool to Help Parents Unwrap the Secret of Santa
Mr. Pudgins
Revenge Never Rests
The Best Mistake
Meriden Park
More Inspirational Stories for Young Women
The Great Tree: A Christmas Fable
To Capture His Heart
The Call of the Sea
Livvy and the Enchanted Woodland
Come, Gentle Night
The Bad Boy Theory
Guide To Smart Wedding Planning: What You want to know and everything you haven't thought of yet.

Sheila's favorite books »

2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Sheila has read 4 books toward her goal of 100 books.

Friday, June 14, 2024

MIA: The Jack Bertolino Series By John Lansing-Crime Thriller Book Review

MIA by John Lansing Banner


The Jack Bertolino Series 

by John Lansing

May 20 - June 14, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Book Synopsis:

MIA by John Lansing

Mia, is the origin story of retired inspector Jack Bertolino as a young undercover, NYPD narco-busting detective and his relationship with Mia, his confidential informant.

Mia, a former Miss Colombia, has the kind of beauty that can make a grown man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. She’s a complex character, with a painful backstory, who signs on with Jack to help him infiltrate, and take down, a heavy hitter in the Colombian drug trade. Mia has ice water in her veins and is already responsible for delivering large amounts of cocaine, and millions of the cartels cash into the government’s coffers.

This is Jack and Mia’s story. How Mia became a confidential informant, her evolving relationship with Jack, and how the life and death case they break wide open becomes the prequel to The Devil’s Necktie.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: White Street Press/ Karen Hunter Publishing
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Number of Pages: 252
ISBN: 979-8-89456-000-7 (Print) | 979-8-89456-899-7 (Digital)
Series: The Jack Bertolino Series, Prequel
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.**** 

My Review

There are six novels in the Jack Bertolini series by Author John Lansing, the first of them, MIA  is a prequel so it's the perfect book to begin with. I dislike reading books out of order, so I'll now easily move on to reading the rest of the already-released series.

The story unfolds as a gripping thriller from the very beginning,  which immediately entangles readers in a web of suspense and intrigue.  A ruthless Mexican cartel is at the center of the plot. Jack Bertolini a NYPD narcotics detective is on a relentless mission to dismantle the criminal organization.  Mia, a former Miss Colombia who has dealt directly with the cartel emerges as a crucial informant in Jack's pursuit of justice; but trust between them is not easily found. 

Author John Lansing skillfully weaves a tale full of high-octane action, tangible tension, and gritty realism, all without excessive graphic violence. Lansing draws from his extensive background in both novel and television writing. The author creates a story that brims with dynamic characters who straddle the line between law and criminal. 

The dynamic between Jack and Mia proved to be the most interesting to me as the pages of the novel span five years. Jack will end up fulfilling a promise to MIA that keeps the action exciting for readers.

Whether you are a seasoned reader of the Jack Bertolini series or a newcomer like I was, MIA stands as a must-read prequel that leads seamlessly into the events of book one, The Devil's Necktie. MIA offers an intriguing crime thriller experience that I promise will lead to many sleepless nights and unexpected discoveries from the beginning to the final page.


Read an Excerpt:

Jack Bertolino’s early morning shower gave up the ghost long before he swiped his long-term pass to gain entry to the Staten Island Ferry. Once he landed in the City, he headed for Tango 23’s base of operations. There he picked up his NYPD plain-wrap sedan. The ninety-degree temperature, wetted by ninety-five degree humidity, made a mockery of the air conditioner in the Ford Crown Vic as it crawled through commuter traffic headed for LaGuardia. The air was thick, the stench of exhaust on the Grand Central Parkway overwhelmed as Jack dodged a pothole, rattled into the airport parking lot and came to an engine-clicking stop next to DEA agent Kenny Ortega’s government issue.

The joint narcotics task force case was in its sixth month. Jack had agreed to meet a few old friends and a new confidential informant who had arrived from Miami via Colombia. This CI claimed to be able to provide entry into the inner workings of Manuel Alvarez’s illicit drug operation.

Alvarez, a notorious Colombian trafficker, had been on Jack’s radar for more than a year. Alvarez was responsible for importing a thousand keys of cocaine into Miami on a monthly basis, and the poison

was dripping into New York City. Jack wanted Alvarez’s head on a pike.

At thirty-eight, Jack was already a lieutenant, the boss of the narco-rangers called Tango 23. His crew had great success shutting down drug and money-laundering cells in the five boroughs, piling millions of dollars of the cartel’s money into the city’s coffers.

Jack was a handsome, unpretentious man with thick dark hair he wore brushed back. Creases on his striking face were a roadmap of years exposed to the elements doing undercover narcotics work on the streets of New York City.

As he stepped out of the car, a hot gust of wind blew grit into Jack’s eyes and mouth. It also blasted the long hair of a young woman exiting the passenger side of Ortega’s vehicle, obscuring her face. The deafening sound of a wide-body jet thundered overhead as Jack spit and wiped his stinging eyes.

The woman hand-combed strands of blonde away from her face. When Jack’s vision cleared, he was momentarily stopped in his tracks. The woman was drop-dead gorgeous.

He nodded to Sal Traina, a member of the Tango group, and shook the hand of Mia Ferrero as Ortega made the introductions. Mia, an ex-Miss Colombia, was the confidential informant. Kenny Ortega, the Miami-based DEA agent, was Jack’s partner on the drug task force.

Nick Aprea, a detective from the LAPD narcotics division, had flown in from Los Angeles, where a large quantity of the illicit drugs ended up. He ducked low as he slid out of the back seat, wearing a black leather jacket in the New York heat, and led with a wolfish grin as he proffered a hand the size of a baseball glove. “Jack, good to be back in business.” Aprea was tall, hard, and took life as it came. He had arrived with serious skin in the game. A few years back, his partner had been gut-shot in an Alvarez–Delgado operation. Nick had put fifteen hundred keys of coke on the table, and his partner had been put in an early grave. When Jack invited him to the party, Nick jumped at the chance to deliver some retribution.

Mia signed on to the joint operation between the NYPD, Miami DEA, and LAPD to infiltrate Manuel Alvarez’s operation and help put away a

heavy hitter for the Colombian cartel. She was a proven commodity, already wealthy from delivering large quantities of cocaine and cash to the United States government’s coffers in their ongoing war on drugs. The Feds had a formula in place for paying informants. The bigger the bust, the larger the payoff. A nice way to fatten your wallet, an easy way to die.

Mia started playing Jack—who had a reputation of being a straight arrow—from the moment she touched down at LaGuardia Airport. She’d been summoned for a meeting downtown, organized to get a feel for the principals, define the case, and plan a strategy.

It was time to roll. Sal was sitting in the passenger seat of Jack’s car when Mia rapped on the window. Sal slid out, and Mia stepped in seconds before Jack pulled out of the lot.

“I hope you don’t mind. It was so crowded in the other car,” she said.

Jack wasn’t thrilled. “It’s okay,” he said, always careful when spending time with a CI. First of all, rules and parameters of the relationship had to be set in place, until the informant was proven trustworthy. Too many things could go wrong. Jack was career building and didn’t need any bullshit slowing him down. He had a line in the sand when dealing with informants, and although he always treated them with respect, sharing his personal life was a nonstarter.

Mia started talking rapid fire. Her English was lightly accented but flawless, and Jack chalked her excited banter to nerves.

“I wasn’t supposed to fly first class, but I used my frequent-flyer miles, and thank God because the plane was full, and I was in the air for so many hours. Should I call you Jack or Mr. Bertolino?”

“Lieutenant works.”

“Oh, very formal. It’s so hot in here,” Mia play-whined, and undid the second button on her blouse as she turned to face Jack. “Are you a by-the-numbers kind of guy?”

“Something like that.”

“I know a lot of Italians in Medellín. Not a formal one in the mix. Very sexy though, Italians in general, don’t you think?”


Jack kept his eyes trained on the traffic. “Never given it much thought.”

“Oh, I have. Very much so.”

Jack wasn’t going there. He hoped Mia would lose herself in the approaching view of the New York skyline and stop talking. Instead, she seemed content to stare at Jack who was growing increasingly uncomfortable, but didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with a woman who could break his case wide open.

“And the police in general, what do they call it? Mucho testosterone. You can’t hide it, Jack—I mean, Lieutenant.” Mia’s smile was sly, and Jack kept his eyes on the road, not wanting the conversation to get out of hand.

“Your nose,” she said knowingly, “that must have hurt.”

Jack had a bump on his otherwise straight Roman nose. It was a gift from a crack dealer named Trey, who he traded punches with outside the Red Hook projects in Brooklyn. Trey went to jail, and Jack had a reminder every morning when he shaved to keep his right fist higher and jab with his left.

“Do you like sex on the beach?” Jack hoped she was talking about the cocktail and didn’t respond. “What about sex in the car?” Mia said and ran a manicured nail down his thigh. “I love giving blow jobs, I mean, giving oral sex.”

Jack shot a look in the rearview mirror, tried to remain stoic, but he was getting hot under the collar. He was doing sixty and Kenny Ortega’s car was tight on his bumper. Jack glanced in the rearview again, and saw the men in the trailing car laughing.

He’d had enough. He signaled and pulled the wheel hard to the right, sending Mia sliding against the passenger door. As horns around him started blaring, he skidded to a tire-screeching stop on the shoulder of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway. He was followed by Ortega, Nick, and a few other smirking detectives in the second car.

Jack knew he’d been set up. He picked up the radio and raised Ortega. “Get this woman out of my car.”

Mia feigned being hurt. “Is it something I said?” Over the intercom, Ortega and his crew were howling. Mia jumped out of Jack’s car, her

face split into a sultry grin, and she winked. “Just having some fun, Lieutenant.”

Jack was the only one on the crew not laughing. He pulled back into traffic, riding solo, and dialed his home number.

Jeanine answered on the second ring. “Are you all right, Jack?”


“An afternoon call. It’s usually bad news.”

“Oh, no, not today. Just wanted to hear your voice.”

“Hmmm, okay... Good.” Jeannine could read Jack’s mood and wasn’t buying it.

Jack started to relax, the earth rotating back on its axis. “Actually, I just made a pickup at LaGuardia, had a moment.”

“Okay. Are you going to make it home for dinner?”

“Don’t wait on me. We have a TAC meeting, breaking in a new informant. You know how that goes.”

Jeannine knew all too well what that meant. And Jack was hit with the familiar chill on the other end of the line. “Okay, Jack. Your son’s asking what happened to his father.”

“Tell him I miss him.”

“Tell him yourself, Jack,” Jeannine said quietly before hanging up the phone.

Jack stifled his growing anger, fully aware that he was an absentee father. From his point of view, he was building a secure life for his family, and they all had to make sacrifices. It was a team effort. He knew he was being defensive, but he also knew what it took to rise through the ranks of the NYPD.

Jack snapped out of it when Kenny beeped his horn and rocketed past in the fast lane. He rolled his eyes, slightly amused as Mia, sitting in the back seat, nailed him with a look that was purely X-rated.


Excerpt from MIA by John Lansing. Copyright 2024 by John Lansing. Reproduced with permission from John Lansing. All rights reserved.



****Meet Author John Lansing****

John Lansing

John Lansing is the author of six thrillers featuring Jack Bertolino—The Devil’s Necktie, Blond Cargo, Dead Is Dead, The Fourth Gunman, 25 to Life, and MIA—as well as the true-crime non-fiction book Good Cop Bad Money, written with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. He has been a writer and supervising producer on Walker, Texas Ranger, the co-executive producer of the ABC series Scoundrels, and co-wrote two MOWs for CBS. The Devil’s Necktie is in development at Andria Litto’s Amuse Entertainment, with Barbara DeFina attached as a producer.

A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Find out more on:
BookBub - @JohnLansing
Instagram - @johnlansingauthor
Twitter - @jelansing
Facebook - @devilsnecktie



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Thursday, June 13, 2024

When the Ocean Roars: A Novel by Charlsie Estess- Contemporary Christian Romance Book Review

When the Ocean Roars JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for When the Ocean Roars 

by Charlsie Estess, 

hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

When the Ocean Roars

Title: When the Ocean Roars
Charlsie Estess
Iron Stream Media
Release Date:
June 11, 2024
Contemporary Christian Romance

****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

He needs to surrender. She needs to fight. Are they ready for their next battle?​ 

Weeks before the Ultimate Fighting World Championship, Keane “The Golden Lion” Temple lands in Japan for the battle of his professional life. The adored prizefighter is primed to take the win. And nothing has ever distracted him from victory in the ring. 

 But when his path collides with an intriguing woman, he gives in to impulse and asks her to spend his day off from training with him. Surely, he can keep his heart safe for one day. 

Ami Ono cannot pass on the invitation but also hides her full identity. As their extraordinary day bleeds into night, both realize one day won’t be enough. Then the excursion ends in disaster when Keane discovers who Ami is. They part ways, but compelling circumstances and an undeniable attraction draw them back together, driving their attraction―and her high-society family drama―to something more intense than Keane has ever faced. As the forbidden romance threatens to take down his principles in the knockout of his life, he struggles to honor his beliefs. Will The Golden Lion surrender his heart? Will Ami defy the domineering men in her life and accept it? Do they stand a chance against nature?

My Review

I find the theme of forbidden love intriguing. The story kicks off in Japan, where American boxer Keane Temple unexpectedly meets Japanese grad student Ami Ono. Keane is in Japan to compete for the World Champion Prizefighter title, while Ami crosses paths with him upon his arrival already knowing who he is.

The author skillfully presents the compelling chemistry between the characters, which kept me mesmerized. In any new relationship, there are hidden secrets, and Ami holds a significant one – she is actually the younger sister of Keane's upcoming championship opponent, cocky and rich Niko Ono.

The story's depiction of Japanese culture, both ancient and modern, was beautifully shown in vivid imagery in my mind. The dynamics within the Ono family comprised of six boys and Ami, are intense. Ami is challenging tradition with her career and choice of partner, and Keane wrestles with his tragic past and a promise he needs to fulfill to his dead mother. 

Through tested faith and struggles, Keane and Ami learn to trust and love each other. The wholesome romance illustrates a courtship brimming with tenderness and passion, along with great adversity and a devastating natural disaster.   

To find out if 'The Ocean Roars' finishes with a happy ending, you'll need to read this captivating story for yourself.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook | Bookshop

****Meet the Author Charlsie Estess****

Charlsie Estess

Charlsie Estess holds a master of business administration degree and worked in finance and strategic planning before becoming a writer. She is a member of ACFW and Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers and was an ACFW 2023 Genesis Finalist. She currently resides in Mississippi with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Charlsie at to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will win an Ocean Adventure Giveaway, including a woven beach bag, a print copy of When the Ocean Roars, & a ROAR T-Shirt!

When the Ocean Roars JustRead Tours blog giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight June 10, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on June 17, 2024. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

BOLD Rein in Your Mind, Reign in Your Career by Audrey D. Lloyd-Non Fiction Book Review

Bold: Rein in Your Mind, Reign in Your Career by Audrey D. Lloyd Banner


Rein in Your Mind, Reign in Your Career

by Audrey D. Lloyd


May 20 - June 14, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Book Synopsis:

Bold: Rein in Your Mind, Reign in Your Career by Audrey D. Lloyd

Bold: Rein in Your Mind, Reign in Your Career is a book about mindset, finding your authentic self, and stepping into your personal power. Leading with your true and authentic self, you significantly increase your chances of success. The search for personal understanding is timeless. Author Audrey D. Lloyd advances a compelling, strategic approach illuminating how to identify, value, honor, and capitalize on your special and unique gifts, talents, and capabilities. In Bold, Audrey D. Lloyd seeks to show that there is no single, defining event that will allow you to succeed. Instead, it is an accumulation of talents, choices, experiences, and actions that drive the true path to success that is unique to you.

In this book Audrey D. Lloyd shows you how to:

  • Tap into your true and authentic self
  • Understand vision (a mental image of what you desire), values (embodiment of your character), value (valuation and impact of your utility, experience, and talent), and how to be valued (to be recognized, compensated etc.)
  • Attain more engagement, power, joy, and success at work by shifting your mindset and taking the strategic path to self-actualization — to realize your full potential.

Bold is the quintessential blueprint for overcoming uncertainty, gaining confidence and clarity in your life and career.

If you are interested in self-discovery and living up to your full potential, Audrey D. Lloyd will show you how to unlock your bold.

 Book Details:

Genre: Non-Fiction

Published by: New Degree Press

Publication Date: February 26, 2022

Number of Pages: 300

ISBN: 9781637307427 (ISBN10: 163730742X)

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | BookBub

****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

 My Review

I'm constantly seeking ways to improve my life both at home and at work. The book "Bold" appears to address both areas effectively.  

When I first saw the Table of Contents, I was happy to find the book divided into three sections: 1. Unlock Your Bold - Rule Your Mind. 2. Cultivate Your Bold. 3. Rule Your Career. Each chapter in the book begins with a statement in bold letters starting with the phrase "When We Are Bold." For instance, the first chapter says, "When we are bold, we can identify the bold within ourselves." Chapter six begins with, "When we are bold, we leverage our unique, personal brilliance to achieve success," while chapter nine states, "When we are bold, we are intentional about our decisions."

Every chapter is highly motivating, making the reader feel as if the book was tailored specifically for them. The advice given is straightforward, easy to grasp, and simple to implement. 

It was so hard to pick a favorite chapter, but chapter five's discussion on BOLD Patterns stood out to me. The opening statement of this chapter, "When we are Bold, we take responsibility for our success and our own personal power," immediately resonated with me. 

 Author Audrey D. Lloyd outlines what the reader can expect in this chapter: - Understand the role mindset plays in your success. - Discuss the predictable pattern of manifesting success. - Explore how to leverage this new insight to catapult your success. This chapter proved to be a significant "aha" moment for me, particularly since these concepts are ones I teach my 2nd graders about using Mindset to achieve success at school. In fact, we focus on a different mindset each day at the start of the school day. I found myself wondering why I had never internalized this fantastic idea for my own benefit. 

I could continue praising this book over and over again, and how it has reshaped my thinking before the upcoming school year starts in August. My copy of BOLD is now filled with highlights, comments, ideas, and goals that I am excited to work on. I am confident that I will use BOLD as a roadmap to enhance both my personal life and my career as a teacher. 

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone seeking change and self-improvement. BOLD should also be your companion in achieving your goals.

Read an Excerpt:


I did not start out bold, but I was always strong. I have experienced great heights and understand the pain of searching to find a way out of the valley to escape being lost.

No single defining event motivated me to search for bold. An accumulation of feelings and prior experiences drove me to the realization that I was not living the life I really wanted. I was not where I wanted to be in my career.

Most of the companies where I’ve worked were good, some were great, and a few were exceptional. I learned fast and was never afraid of a challenge or hard work. Finding opportunities came easily to me. Yet, I did not use this to my full advantage. I was still allowing companies to select me versus playing a more active role in the selection process. At times, I accepted positions that were below my full ability. Looking back, I was passive, too compliant, overly nice, and willing to sacrifice my time, energy, and sleep. I knew all of this but did not do anything to change the outcome.

That all changed after I had a chance to review my notes from a reference check for a new position. I personally knew the references who provided input from over the last seven to fifteen years of my work history. Each reference was asked to provide short answers to specific questions about their prior experience working with me, my general character, and professional impact. I cannot recall exactly how the specific question was worded, but essentially it asked about my experience and expertise. I remember everything slowing down as my eyes met the line that one of my references provided anonymously, which read:

“Audrey is so talented, amazing, and passionate. I only wish she could find the opportunity that is right for her and deserving of her skills.”

Those words washed over me like Niagara Falls. The assessment provoked me.

While I have now achieved success beyond what I believed was possible, it took longer for me to get there. Looking back, I made all the right moves but often made them without fully understanding my own strengths. I had the right cards in my hands, I just didn’t always play them to my benefit.

I was the common denominator in this dilemma. I do not attribute any of my painful lessons or missteps to any person or company other than me. I take accountability for not prioritizing myself and seeking the right culture and environment for me. I am ultimately accountable for my success.

I read those words again, and that was when it hit me. When we hold ourselves accountable, we take back control.


To Be True

Some people are not aware of the importance of searching for and discovering their proper and true role in life.
—Chin-Ning Chu (Chu, 1994)

Choosing to leave the ranks of a full-time employee (FTE) to independently pursue organizational change management (OCM) consulting and executive coaching required careful consideration and considerable courage. I remember thinking, Before I make the final decision to leave a full-time job with benefits, I’d better speak with someone who can help me weigh my options. The representative from EAP (Employee Assistant Program) was laid back, casual, and unassuming.

“So, what’s going on?” she asked. Then she listened without making a sound as I spoke. I was listening as well. Then she calmly and empathetically said, “Maybe you just don’t want to do it.” She was so neutral in her response that I could not tell if her reply was a question or a comment. Either way, she was right. I did not want to do “it.” I did not want to play it safe anymore.

The lessons of the past taught me many valuable lessons about myself, the importance of company culture, making brave choices, and finding the proverbial “right room.” The decision to take my power back and become more aware of what I want and what is right for me was a significant turning point in my life. Like a baptism, I decided to give up the old to embrace the new. I changed the way I value myself, the way I have selectively designed my career, and the choices that define my world.

The good that came out of the experience is a clear understanding of who I am, what I value, and how critical engagement is for living and for work. What came out of this experience was the motivation for unlocking my “bold.” Self-appreciation and understanding underscores the belief that when you show up as your true and authentic self, you will almost guarantee your success.

Further on in the book, we will discuss the Bold Value Equation (BVE), a “needs analysis” that compares what you are willing to give and what you expect from an employer in exchange for your expertise, time, and value. These needs reflected the “season of my life,” which represented more mature goals and aspirations than my younger, less-confident self. I was no longer willing to sacrifice my time, health, and autonomy. Reaping financial rewards without making a meaningful contribution to the company was no longer enough, nor was it worth it if my skills, experience, and knowledge were not fully needed, leveraged, and appreciated. After all, we all have financial, emotional, social, and environmental needs that must be recognized and satisfied in the workplace—and we have the authority to make choices that are required in order for us to move ahead in life.


Moving Ahead

Life continues even after making big decisions. Taking accountability and making peace with our decisions frees us from the burden of thinking there must be a right or wrong. On the path to becoming bold, moments like these test our resolve, define our character, and show us who we really are in the moment of choice. We emerge stronger by recognizing and honoring our truth.

Insights like these—along with the teaching of my parents, hands-on experience in OCM, and executive coaching—led me to write this book. I have dedicated my career to helping individuals and organizations change and transform.

This book is written with you in mind. All throughout, I will make the case for why intentionally identifying and leveraging your bold creates a powerful competitive advantage, not by telling you what you need to be or do but by telling you how to do less of what you are currently doing.

As a certified International Coaching Federation (ICF) coach and global consultant with over twenty-five years working with some of the world’s best companies, I under- stand the issues and the significance of company culture as well as what is required for individuals to transform their lives. I have designed transformation strategies for some of the world’s largest companies and trained leaders globally on communication effectiveness and issues management, in addition to having the honor of spending hundreds of hours deeply listening to and coaching individuals around the world.

In these pages, I will share true stories along with lessons and insights I learned working in corporate America. I want to recognize that at times I am vague and do not offer the tantalizing details of conversations that occurred at many of the companies where I worked. I do this to honor the value of confidentiality and to illustrate the bold move of taking the high road and moving away from the drama, as rehashing, reliving, and rumination do not offer a path forward. In fact, reliving such negative and often toxic events steals our joy and weakens our power.

Many of the structured processes and frameworks that I have included are inspired by my work in OCM and coaching. I am giving you the best of both worlds, as I have sat in many of the same places where you may find yourself today. I am now able to look at things objectively through the lens of both the employee and the expert, and this duality allows me to be empathetic and honest.

As an executive coach, I spent hundreds of hours listening to the stories, aspirations, hurts, and triumphs of my clients. I heard joy, pain, pressure, and disappointment in their voices. I saw dreams and spirits on the brink of breaking. I witnessed breakthroughs, setbacks, and personal victories. In coaching I follow, encourage, and challenge each one of them to achieve the goals they have established.

You know yourself best. Understanding this is essential to understanding the difference between leading and being led. While the information and thinking shared in this book have resulted in positive change and success for many of my clients, I will always take the position that you are the leader in your life, and this book is most valuable when you use it as inspiration in customizing a strategy that best suits you. If you find the models and processes helpful, you can use them as is or as a guide. Ultimately, remember that your talent, passion, mindset, and actions are the most important ingredients for catalyzing your success.

I wrote this book for the following reasons:

  • I hope and trust that it will motivate you to explore and unlock your true potential.
  • I truly believe “bold” is a powerful concept that anyone can access and use to improve their career and life.
  • I wish this book existed earlier in my career.
  • The timing of the book and the topics covered coincide with the current needs of many individuals who are at a crossroads in their lives and in their careers. This book is a resource and tool for reflection and planning.

    Several factors are driving the need for a bold mindset:

  • In the face of an increasingly complex, turbulent, and uncertain future, there is a need to cement your focus, power, and the resolve that is required to succeed.
  • Given the accelerated and changing nature of work, you need to become more autonomous, independent, and confident in who you are and in the value you provide.
  • Understanding yourself at your core will enable you to learn, adapt, and evolve. This is the secret to sustaining “your bold.”

    We will discuss:

  • Why tapping into your true and authentic self is essential to your career and living your best life.
  • The importance of understanding your vision (a mental image of what you desire), values (embodiment of your character), value (valuation and impact of your utility, experience, and talent), and how you want to be valued (being recognized, compensated, etc.).
  • How you can use your bold to serve others.

    I kept the following four profiles in mind when writing this book:

  • Individuals who are tenured and who have mastered technical success but are in search of balance and greater fulfillment.
  • High performers on the cusp of unlocking their brilliance and attaining the next level of success, but their goal is often elusive, as “something” is standing in the way.
  • Middle managers who serve on the frontline of leadership but are often overlooked due to a lack of a personal strategy for promotion and success.
  • Individuals who are successful in getting a job but struggle to find the right lasting opportunity.

    I hope this book will help you:

  • See and appreciate your value and the bold in others.
  • Increase your confidence.
  • Own your choices and your career.

    Your Call to Adventure

    Nothing in life occurs by chance. I am guessing you may have found this book because you are searching for clarity, change, or direction. You sense from the cover that this is not your “typical” career book outlining exactly what you need to say or do. Perhaps you already own a few of those books, yet you are in search of more introspection. You are nuanced, after all, and the world is much too complex for rote advice.

    You are at a place in your life that requires individual and purposeful consideration and planning. The time has come for you to do the deep introspection that only you can lead.

    This book is simply a tool to inspire, illuminate, and affirm your personal strategy to live boldly.

    I hope you will accept my invitation to stay open and curious about learning about yourself. Come along with me to explore what is possible when you realize your bold. Everything in this book is simple to apply but not always easy to achieve.

    The difference between living boldly and ordinarily is like night and day. With a heightened level of awareness and commitment, you will start to see yourself and the world around you differently. Others will sense and see it too, but most importantly, you will experience it for yourself.


    Introduction to Bold Reflections

    Each chapter is carefully selected and arranged to help you grow and transform at your own pace. Use chapter takeaways and powerful questions to gather insight to develop your strategies and action plans.

    As you take on the challenge to bring forward the best version of yourself, reserve the time and find a quiet space to reflect. I recommend you keep a pen and notebook or voice-record app close by to record your thoughts and reflections at the end of each chapter.

    What do you hope to learn about yourself by reading this book?



    What intrigues you the most about your reaction to the introduction of bold? Why?



    Are you ready?




    Excerpt from Bold: Rein in Your Mind, Reign in Your Career by Audrey D. Lloyd. Copyright 2022 by Audrey D. Lloyd. Reproduced with permission from Audrey D. Lloyd. All rights reserved.



    Author Bio:

    Audrey D. Lloyd

    Audrey D. Lloyd, PCC, is a gifted ICF-credentialed executive coach, organizational change management and business transformation expert, speaker, inventor, futurist, and universal citizen. Drawing upon her extensive coaching and global experience, she presents compelling reasons to believe in oneself and how to take a strategic approach to unlocking our true brilliance, personal power, and joy.

    Catch Up With Audrey:
    Instagram - @bold_practitioner
    Twitter - @adlloyd


    Praise for Bold: Rein in Your Mind, Reign in Your Career:

    "Audrey’s book — indeed her philosophy — is a game changer, inspiring a fresh shift in how we conduct business and everyday interactions. This is a book that will continue to contribute to our ever-changing world through its timely and timeless content."
    ~ Liz S., Retired HR Executive

    "The Concepts in BOLD are tied directly to the Leadership Concepts of my program. I invited Audrey in to focus us on a few of the concepts. She WOWed over 70 students in two sessions! And they want more. I recommend everyone, no matter what you are doing, think you want to do get this book."

    ~ Kathleen B. Cashman-Walter, President - ICF New Jersey 

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    Monday, June 10, 2024

    The Concealed: Heir of Earth and Sky: Book 1 by S.K.Horton-YA Fantasy Book Review

     Book Synopsis

    Sometimes destiny is written. Hers was concealed.

    When Cate travels from Oregon to university in England, she expects her gravest dilemma to be finding coffee instead of tea, but she’s got bigger problems—much bigger. At Staton University, nothing is quite what it seems.
    Even her own identity.
    Unbeknownst to Cate, a prophecy deems her as destined to defeat a ruthless enemy in a magical land, placing a target squarely on her back. Now, someone on campus is stalking her, and a narrow escape sends her through a mysterious portal, assisted by two irresistible boys.
    Yet the fantastical new world is even more treacherous with rival kingdoms and imminent war.
    Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan, but what’s a girl to do? A fresh start was all she wanted—a few new friends in the dorms with a trusty latte in hand—not war, an estranged biological father who is king, or a star-crossed love straight out of Romeo and Juliet (hopefully without the dying part).
    As the battle looms, Cate must solve the mystery of the prophecy and decide who in her circle is trustworthy before the place she now calls home is destroyed.
     Don't miss this new Young Adult Romantic Fantasy from debut author SK Horton that's like Alice in Wonderland meets Love and Gelato.

    Book Details

    • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Aethon Books, LLC (June 11, 2024)
    • Genre:  YA Fantasy
    • Language ‏ : ‎ English
    • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 316 pages
    • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1949890945
    • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

    My Review

    The Concealed is a young adult fantasy romance novel written by debut author S.K. Horton. The story follows a normal but awkward girl named Cate.  She travels from Oregon to England for university, where she encounters two charming fellow students, Lucas and Daniel. It's hard to choose who you like more. She discovers from them that she is a princess in a kingdom accessed through a portal. This is every little girl's dream to become a Princess. The young men ultimately save her from a group known as "The Embers,"  who are determined to end her life due to her royal lineage and the prophecy she is destined to fulfill. 

    As Cate unravels her true identity, she becomes entangled in a love triangle. The book explores a detailed new world that I loved, filled with peculiar creatures and Cate's newfound role as a Princess. The novel has a well-paced plot, a fairytale atmosphere, a dashing prince, an intense battle, and a captivating magical realm. This novel promises to engage middle-grade and teenage readers or anyone who enjoys a good YA romance.

    ***Meet Author S.K. Horton***

    SK is a physician by day and reading-obsessed by night. She lives in sunny Arizona with her husband and two daughters where you might find her planning the next great family vacation, experimenting with a new recipe, or spending way too much on fancy coffee and tea.

    ~*~*~*~*Purchase The Concealed~*~*~*~*




    Friday, June 7, 2024

    The Light Beside the Sea: A Zodiac Mystery #5 By Connie Di Marco-Mystery Book Review

    The Light Beside the Sea by Connie di Marco Banner


    by Connie di Marco

    June 3-28, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

    Book Synopsis:

    The Light Beside the Sea by Connie di Marco

    The Zodiac Mysteries


    So many deaths . . . An elusive shaman, a creature of the underworld, Here to unleash evil? Or bring justice to the wronged?

    San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti has been haunted for years by the hit and run death of her fiancé, Michael Sefton. The driver of the vehicle was never apprehended. The lone witness to the accident spoke to no one and now is dead. Even the cold case detective assigned to the case died before any resolution was found. Every time Julia thought she might be getting close to an answer, each clue led only to a dead end.

    Michael, a graduate student, had just returned from an archeological dig in Guatemala when he was killed. But why did he mail his journal to Julia for safekeeping before his return home? What was he afraid of? Why did another graduate student fall to his death on that trip? And now, another man connected with that journey has been murdered closer to home. And the murderer hasn’t finished.

    When Julia finally finds the courage to delve into the journal Michael sent to her years before, she learns of the undercurrents, jealousies and anger between members of the group. She begins to understand the pressure and fear her fiancé was coping with and his suspicions of their University mentor who was most likely engaged in unethical and illegal behavior.

    But events soon take a darker turn when Julia finds a likeness of the Maya god Hunhau, god of death and the underworld, on her doorstep. A strange man covered with markings and tattoos keeps appearing to her but no one else seems to see him. With guidance from another professor she’s introduced to a world she never knew existed.

    Is the man she sees human? And is he under the sway of the Maya god of death?

    Will he unleash evil or is he here to right a wrong done to his people?

    Julia must move quickly or her death will be the next.

    Book Details:

    Genre: Traditional mystery
    Published by: Indie
    Publication Date: May 6, 2024
    Number of Pages:370 est
    ISBN: 979-8989009596 | eBook 9798989009589
    Series: The Zodiac Mysteries, Book 1  

              ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.**** 

     My Review

    This is the first book I've read from the Zodiac Mystery series, but this is the fifth book in the series. Even though it's the fifth book, I found that all the crucial information was given to follow along and enjoy the story.

     The series follows Julia Bonatti, who is an astrologer with a knack for solving mysteries. The story kicks off with an archaeological dig in Guatemala at the center. As the plot unfolds, there are several mysterious deaths of people associated with the archaeological dig, including the heartbreaking loss of Julia's fiancé, Michael, in a hit-and-run. With each new clue, Julia and her friend Maggie find themselves in increasing danger. 

    Connie Di Marco's storytelling skills shine as she weaves together a complex web of characters, multiple plotlines, and many suspects involved in the deaths. I also loved the addition of intriguing details about Mayan history and culture that added to the suspense. The ending is surprising in many shocking ways, making this compelling mystery a very quick read while readers connect the dots page by page. This was a very enjoyable mystery.

    Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    Rafael was silent on the drive along Market Street. He turned south at Van Ness and followed that wide boulevard until we reached the corner of Folsom and 21st. We were away from the fog in the western part of the city and the sun had dipped below the horizon. The dash lights cast his face in long shadows. I was starting to regret accepting his invitation but his curiosity was contagious. I wanted to know as much as I could about this collection of tiny bones and what it could mean. Mostly, why it was dumped on my doorstep and why was I seeing things no one else could see. “You seem to really know your way around the city,” I remarked. “Angelenos usually hate driving in San Francisco.”

    He turned his head and broke into a wide smile. “I grew up in the Mission. Long before it was a trendy place to live. It’s certainly changed a lot over the years, but I know the place like the back of my hand.” He pulled to the curb in front of a well-maintained rather plain two-story Victorian painted a soft blue. “This is the place. This lady’s name is Manuela. She has . . . certain talents.”

    “Do you think she’ll see us now?”

    “Yes,” he nodded. “I’ve known her most of my life. I planned to visit her on this trip to the city anyway.” He climbed out of the car and walked around to the passenger side, opening the door for me. I followed him up the long wooden stairway where he knocked and rang the bell. A lamp was lit at the front windows and through the curtain I could see a light burning at the end of a long hallway, a kitchen light. A few moments later, a figure appeared backlit by the light. The door opened to reveal a stout woman somewhere in her sixties, with a smiling round face and a mop of gray curly hair. She wore a long colorful dress with bright patterns of red, green and orange.

    Ay,” her smile became wider. “Mijo, how are you?” She spoke in heavily-accented English.

    “I’m fine, Doña Manuelita.” He leaned over and gave her a warm hug. “I hope it’s okay, I brought a friend who has some questions. This is Julia,” he said. “I’m hoping you can help her.”

    Si, si, of course, of course, come in.” We stepped inside the entryway. Manuela turned to me and took my hands in hers. She closed her eyes for a few moments as she held tight to my hands. “Si, okay,” she said. I felt as if I had just passed an inspection. She turned and without another word led us through an archway into a central room where the windows were covered with heavy drapes. She switched on a small lamp at a side table and sat down. She waved a hand to indicate we should sit and Rafael and I sat on either side of her.

    “Julia, show Manuela the talisman you received.”

    I pulled the narrow box out of my purse and pulled the top off. I pulled back the cloth covering and left the figure of bones resting in its bed. I pushed it across the table to Manuela. She moved it closer and gazed at it for a long moment. She held a hand above the bones without touching them. A faraway look came into her eyes. She sighed deeply then stood and reached for a heavy candleholder from the credenza. She lit the candle and turned off the lamp. Other than the flickering flame, the room was completely dark. Rafael sat silently, watching her. She placed her fingertips gently on the bones and leaned back in the chair, her eyes closed. Her breathing became heavier. I was reminded of Zora and the way she appeared when going into a trance state.

    “Aaahh,” she breathed a long sigh and began to tremble. She moaned and began to mumble in words I couldn’t make out. Then she uttered a long stream of words in a language I didn’t recognize, peppered with a few words in Spanish. After several minutes of this, she finally fell silent and opened her eyes, glancing first at Rafael and then at me. She spoke rapidly in Spanish to Rafael. He nodded in acknowledgment and turned to me.

    “Manuela says there is great danger. That someone has come here from far away. He is human, like a shaman, and he is in the sway of terrible forces we cannot understand. No harm is aimed at you. He is here to cure something, to right a wrong, like . . . lancing a boil. She doesn’t know what he intends to do but it has something to do with his culture, with righting a wrong against that culture. You must be very careful that you are not near those who have done wrong otherwise you would not be safe. Your death could also result.

    I took a deep breath. “Is that all she said?”

    “That’s the gist of it.”

    Manuela grasped my hand. “This,” she said, indicating the talisman, “is to tell you he is here. Bad things will happen.” She turned to Rafael. “You explain better to your friend.”

    “I will,” his face was quite serious. He turned to Manuela, “I’ll come back for a real visit. Tomorrow?”

    Her face lit up. “Si, come then.” She stood and turned the lamp back on, blowing out the candle. She made the sign of the cross on her breast and took my hands in hers once more. “Tenga cuidado, señorita.

    I had been present at psychic readings and seances, but there was something about this evening that chilled me to the bone. I followed Rafael out to the front door and turned to Manuela. “Gracias, Manuela.”

    She smiled widely, “De nada.”


    Excerpt from The Light Beside the Sea by Connie di Marco. Copyright 2024 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. All rights reserved.



    Author Bio:

    Connie di Marco

    Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti, a woman who never thought murder would be part of her practice. The Light Beside the Sea is the fifth novel in the series. Earlier books are The Madness of Mercury (Zodiac #1), All Signs Point to Murder (Zodiac #2), Tail of the Dragon (Zodiac #3), Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (an e-book prequel novella), and Serpent's Doom (Zodiac #4).

    Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover's Mysteries from Penguin Random House: A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge, Ladle to the Grave and A Clue in the Stew. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Visit her website at and X/Twitter@SnowflakeVT.

    Connie is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers Association (UK) and Sisters in Crime.

    You can learn more about the Zodiac Mysteries and read excerpts at:
    BookBub - @Connie_di_Marco
    Instagram - @Connie_di_Marco
    Twitter/X - @AskZodia
    Facebook -



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    Thursday, June 6, 2024

    By Any Other Name: A Regency Romance By Samantha Hastings-Regency Romance Book Review

     Book Synopsis

    When Peter Hathorn proposes to his childhood sweetheart, Jenny Monroe, the outcome is far from the happy ending he envisioned. Before she can give him an answer, Jenny falls desperately ill. He does all in his power to ensure her recovery, but something between them has changed. Determined to win Jenny’s hand, he proposes each time he sees her, never realizing that the woman he loves harbors a secret that makes it impossible for her to accept.

    After surviving the illness that claimed the lives of her parents, Jenny’s own life is changed in ways she never imagined possible. When her parentage is called into question, Jenny must delve into the truth of her identity—and what she discovers turns her entire world upside down. Although she learns to embrace an inner worth that defies social status, she knows it’s unrealistic to expect Peter to do the same. It’s time for them to leave behind their childish dreams of happily ever after.

    Book Details

    • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Covenant Communications (May 13, 2024)
    • Genre: Regency Romance
    • Language ‏ : ‎ English
    • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
    • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1524423548
    • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

    "By Any Other Name" is a novel that grabs readers' attention right from the start. It has compelling characters, a detailed setting, and intriguing relationship dynamics between the main characters. It's filled with both sorrowful events and moments of joy. 

    The story follows Jenny, a young woman facing challenges with the death of her parents, and Peter, her higher-class supportive friend and eventual fiance is also a bright light in her life. Peter's charming qualities not only attract Jenny but also appeal to readers. The book includes meaningful Shakespearean quotes and is structured into five sections—Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, along with an epilogue. I found the details about Jane Austen at the conclusion and the sources of the book's quotes particularly interesting. 

    By Any Other Name explores how one's social class can shape their life journey. Themes of illness, loss, adoption, and embracing life's uncertainties are skillfully woven into the story. Author Samatha Hastings writes flawed yet lovable characters that wrap around your heart and take you on a very satisfying journey.

    "By Any Other Name" is a captivating novel that grabs readers' attention through its compelling characters, detailed setting, and the relationship dynamics between the main characters. The plot follows Jenny, a young woman facing challenges, and Peter, her supportive friend who later becomes her fiancé. Peter's charming qualities not only attract Jenny but also appeal to the audience. The book includes meaningful Shakespearean quotes and is structured into five sections—Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, along with an epilogue. It also provides insights into Jane Austen and the origins of the quotes used. The novel explores how social class can impact one's life journey by intertwining themes of illness, grief, adoption, and embracing life's uncertainties. Samantha Hastings, known for her creation of flawed yet likable characters, presents another absorbing story that deeply connects with readers.

    ****Meet Author Samantha Hastings****

    Samantha Hastings met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, having tea parties, and chasing her four kids. She has degrees from Brigham Young University, University of North Texas, and University of Reading (UK). She writes cozy murder mysteries under Samantha Larsen.

    Learn more at or connect with her on social media: Twitter @HastingSamantha, Instagram @SamanthaHastingsAuthor, and Facebook @AuthorSamanthaHastings

    ~*~*~*~*Purchase By Any Other Name~*~*~*~*