September #BookReviews – @jodithomas @sasspip @teagangeneviene @McConaughey

I didn’t read as many books this month as I normally do, but I did manage to finish my current WIP, so I call that a win. Here are the books I did read!

Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendent of Ransom Canyon’s founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O’Grady…or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.

Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand’s son. But one night, one wrong decision will set his life on a course even he hadn’t imagined.

Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn’t plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just stay long enough to learn the town’s weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car’s pedals, isn’t prepared for what he encounters.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

Ransom Canyon by Jodi Thomas embodies the very essence of the heart of Texas. Staten Kirkland owns a ranch in the panhandle that includes the deep canyon where a hundred years ago, Spanish and Anglo traders negotiated with the Comanches for the return of hostages. The author does a great job of describing the setting, from the smells to the sights and sounds

But the way Thomas wrote this story reminds me of watching a spider weave an intricate web, one thin strand at a time. Each chapter is written from a major character’s point of view, and each character in the story has major life events happening simultaneously.

Quinn has loved Staten Kirkland since they were in school together twenty years ago. But Staten’s heart is closed after the death of his wife, followed by the untimely death of his son. Quinn owns a lavender farm and while she is an accomplished pianist, refuses to use her talent and it is shocking to find out why. Perhaps one of the most interesting characters in the story is Yancy Grey. He’s spent most of his adult life in and out of prison. Now he wants to be normal and has landed in Crossroads, Texas to start anew. No one has to know his past. When a retirement community hires him to fix up their dilapidated cottages, it is a huge turning point for him. Of all the characters, I found myself rooting the most for him. He was a good man, he just needed a chance to prove it.

As the story unfolds, Quinn and Staten have fallen into a comfortable routine that doesn’t have any requirements or promises. While they are lovers, they are first and foremost friends. What happens to shake them both out of their comfort zones is perfect. I won’t leave any spoilers, I will just say it is a piece of the web that is beautifully woven.

Lauren is just turning sixteen and being the daughter of the small town’s Sheriff has disadvantages. She is a beautiful girl and I loved her part of the story, as I did Lucas Reyes, an ambitious young man determined to make a good life for himself.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s so easy to picture it as a movie or a TV series, and I can guarantee it would be one I would binge-watch. If you love stories that are layered and multi-dimensional, as well as beautifully written, you will love Ransom Canyon! I highly recommend it! 

Ralph Thyme, an addicted gambler and his wealthy grandmother’s only acknowledged heir, discovers he has an elder sister, Olivia, who was sold at birth. Suppose Olivia discovers her true identity and claims half the inheritance he craves? How far will he go to eliminate the threat?
Olivia escaped childhood sexual abuse. Despite horrific memories, nightmares, and fear, she is determined to save a stranger’s little girl from the same fate, and the solution she offers takes all her courage… and then some.DCI Croft investigates a heinous case of rape, murder, and mutilation. Next to die, are a private detective and his pretty daughter… and then another woman… and another. Can DCI Croft identify and capture a psychopathic killer hell-bent on eliminating anyone who stands in his way before he murders his sister… or is it already too late for Olivia?

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:


This story is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. It is a thriller and it’s intense. While it is totally fiction, it is also chillingly realistic. Ralph Thyme is only twenty, but an addicted gambler and sole heir to his grandmother’s large estate. At least that’s what he thought until he finds a diary entry written in his grandfather’s hand. He has a sister. Now, he must find her and eliminate her, because he will not share the inheritance with anyone. That is his motivation to begin a killing spree. Unfortunately for many victims, he keeps killing the wrong Olivia.
DCI Gerald Croft is working overtime to catch this killer, but unfortunately, he keeps arresting the wrong men.
The story unfolds multiple plots simultaneously. Sophia suffered child sexual abuse at the hands of her parents from the time she was a baby. She’s so damaged, she cannot tolerate a man being near her. But when she sees the same terrified and desperate look in the eyes of Mark Nicholl’s child, she cannot stand idly by and let the little girl suffer the same abuse that she did.
DCI Croft has a difficult family situation, with a special needs child. He is torn between family and work.
Ralph Thyme discovers, once he’s killed his first victim, that he enjoys it and even craves it. The author did a superb job of letting us inside his demented psyche.
She also included BDSM, an interracial marriage, pedophiles, and graphic violence in the story. As I said, it is not for the faint of heart, but if you like a good thriller that will keep you turning pages, you will enjoy this cat and mouse chase between the killer and the detective. The book has a satisfying conclusion.

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.
 
Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges—how to get relative with the inevitable—you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

Often, when we think of celebrities, we see them as living privileged jaded lives. In Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey shows us how he started out in life at the bottom of the pile. Born into a highly dysfunctional family, he describes one scene he remembers when his mother and father got into a knock-down-drag-out fight in the kitchen, then wound up making love on the kitchen floor. They were divorced twice and married three times (the same two people). But Matthew learned what love looked like and what it didn’t. Of course, we know his somewhat Cinderella story and rise to fame and fortune, but what impressed me the most throughout this book was his incessant need and quest for spiritual enlightenment. He went to extremes to follow dreams (literal and perceived). The things he realized along the way are shared in a raw and honest way. Tidbits of wisdom mixed with common sense make this book more than a memoir or biography. It’s hard to define it. Is it a self-help book? Maybe. Is it a man’s journey from poverty to fortune? For Sure. Is it a roadmap for finding all the greenlights? I’d say so. But most of all, I’d say this is a book of raw and uninhibited inspiring honesty. That’s what I felt the most.

Here’s one of my favorite passages found on page 259: “An honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind, and when we lie down on ours at night, no matter who’s in our bed, we all sleep alone.” Truth! And this one: “We all have scars, we’ll get more. So rather than struggle against time and waste it, let’s dance with time and redeem it.”
This book is filled with stories, memories, confessions, life lessons, and spiritual wisdom. It gives lots of food for thought. I enjoyed it!

The Fever Field is a burial ground that is far older than the inhabitants of the Flowing Lands realize. We first saw it in the prologue of Journey 1, Forlorn Peak. Now we learn more about the place where ancient evil was buried and forgotten, until that moment in the prologue when it broke free.
On the cover of Journey 3, The Fever Field, Emlyn has turned to look toward Zasha. Much of this third installment is told from Zasha’s point of view. We’ll get better acquainted with the sisters in the Society of Deae Matres who traveled with Zasha. Also, we meet a tall, intriguing north-man and the most mysterious adherent of the Deae Matres.
The youngest of all the Society, Zasha encounters some resistance from the other sisters traveling with her. She also runs into trouble of her own.
Meanwhile, Emlyn’s uncertain situation with her family combines with the threat posed by the Brethren of Un’Naf. What is the greater danger, her loved ones, or the fanatics? In Journey 3, Emlyn’s circumstances reach a tipping point. There seems to be no good choice for her. How can she survive?

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:


In this installment of Emlyn’s journey, she manages to barely escape what would be a sure death at the hands of the Brethren. With the help of the silver-haired entity from her dreams, she makes it to the camp of Deae Matres. We learn more about the mission of the Deae Matres and more about Zasha. She is such a free spirit and deep thinker and she doesn’t hesitate to stand up to the older women. The fever field is an ancient burial ground and I am intrigued to know more about it and the purpose it serves in the story. There are lots of teasers in this part of the story.

Previously, Journey 3, The Fever Field left Emlyn on the run. Will the Society of Deae Matres be willing to help? After all, in Journey 1, they rejected her father’s plea to take her away. Journey 4, The Old Road features Boabhan, the Society’s most enigmatic adherent. Emlyn finds herself in another kind of danger when the archvillain from the prologue of Journey 1, Forlorn Peak returns to the story in this installment. Plus, she still has not outrun the Brethren. Meanwhile, Emlyn isn’t the only one at risk. This Journey finds many of our friends in harm’s way. This Journey is notably longer than the others. Some parts of the story needed to be told together, in one volume. Come, be a part of the Journeys of Dead of Winter.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

In this fourth installment of the series, we learn more about some of the Deae Matres characters. I particularly liked Boabhan, always dressed in green and eyes sensitive to sunlight. While at times, she appears fragile, at other times, she has unimaginable strength. Add that she is a shapeshifter, and you have a fascinating character. Danger lurks both in this world and beyond the veil. In this segment, Emlyn comes face-to-face with Arawn, Mythical King of Hell, and he is terrifying. But she is safe with the Deae Matres and is experiencing unknown freedom for the first time in her thirteen years. As the story unfolds, we learn more about the mysterious staff and rune symbols as well as each member of the traveling party. I am looking forward to the next segments and going deeper into the story!

Shadows of Pecan Hollow – #DebutNovel @CaroFrostWrites @NetGalley @williammorrowbooks

I received this book complements of NetGalley and the publisher, William Morrow and Custom House.

The blurb for this book drew me in and it was promoted as “Paper Moon meets Badlands.” I have to add my own spin on that. To me, it was more like “Where The Crawdads Sing” meets John Steinbeck.

I’ve read a lot of books this year and this one is landing at the top of my “best books” ever list! I don’t think I’ve met such horribly flawed characters.

A baby girl without a name, unwanted, discarded at birth like a piece of garbage, who never knows acceptance or love through the many foster homes is the main character. “The policeman who had found her as an infant had supposedly named her Katherine, but the only time she heard her name spoken was when a teacher called roll or a social worker handed her off to a new foster family.

At thirteen, she ran. She has one tiny piece of paper that tells her of an aunt who lives in Pecan Hollow and that’s where she blindly heads. Starving, she steals food from a gas station, then attempts to steal a bag of food from a Mustang parked outside when she gets caught. Instead of Manny turning her over to the authorities, he takes her in. She struggles when he asks her name and finally tells him it’s Kit. He feeds her. He grooms her for his wants and needs. Like in Paper Moon, she distracts the victims while Manny steals. She finally knows what it feels like to be loved, wanted, and useful.

But Manny’s petty theft escapades soon escalate to more and they became known as the Texaco Twosome for the string of armed robberies across the state. As Kit grows and develops into a teenager, her infatuation for Manny grows. He has not made any sexual advances toward her, and that is his one redeeming quality.

That eventually changes and Kit gets pregnant. Manny insists on an abortion. I don’t want to reveal too much about this story, but Manny gets caught in an armed robbery while Kit escapes. She arrives in Pecan Hollow at her aunt’s house with nothing but a baby inside her. It’s here she puts down roots.

Kit is tough. And her daughter, Charlie, refers to her mom as “bat-shit crazy.” Kit cannot feel pain. She only knows she is wounded when blood flows. But the pain that rests in her heart makes up for the lack of physical pain.

This story is well-written, gripping and I absolutely devoured it. The plot twists and thriller ending left me reeling. Kudos to this author for such a tremendous debut novel. While Caroline Frost is a new author to me, I can promise I will be reading everything she writes! She’s that good!

The book is set for release in February, 2022 but is available now for pre-order.

I might add that this author doesn’t have a lot of followers on Twitter, but seems to really appreciate each one, so you might consider following her.

Caroline Frost on Twitter

Colleen’s #Book #Reviews: “Flowers & Stone,” “The Convict & the Rose,” and “Home, At Last” by Jan Sikes, @JanSikes3

The story that catapulted me into the writing world is featured today on Colleen Chesebro’s blog site! I am deeply grateful for the beautiful reviews! Please stop by and leave a comment and share!!

#WednesdayWonders – Tiger’s Eye #Gemstones

I am super excited to share another favorite stone with you today!

Photo by Jan Sikes

This is a stone I have loved all my life — even before I knew its name.

In my humble opinion, the Tiger’s Eye is one of the most gorgeous stones on earth. Rick made himself a ring with it about 40 years ago and I have a bracelet that I wear often. It is so versatile and has such amazing properties.

There are several varieties of Tiger’s Eye but the most common is brown. There is also yellow, red, and blue Tiger’s Eye.

This stone brings courage, calmness, dispels negativity, balances yin and yang in the brain, and increases intuition. It is a stone of the mind, not the body.

It encourages new beginnings (courage) which can lead to success and possibly wealth. I combine this stone in a grouping with jade, citrine, and aventurine to draw creativity and help channel it.

Tiger’s Eye has been nicknamed the Shapeshifter and invites the wearer to embrace their inner strength, personal willpower, and to call on the powers of protection. Traditionally the Tiger Eye Gemstone was carried as a protective amulet against the forces of evil. It was said to ward off curses and to keep the wearer safe from ill-wishes. But beyond the powers of protection, the Tiger Eye comes with a whole host of healing properties.

The root chakra, sacral and solar plexus chakras all work in harmony with this stone to balance and recharge. Tiger’s Eye is an amazing amulet for dispelling fear, weaving in higher levels of protection, and bringing positive powers of transformation into everyday life.

I would be willing that most of you have at least one Tiger’s Eye either in a piece of jewelry or as a single stone. Give me your thoughts!

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Authors in the Sun – #Romance #Revenge – A Broken Promise – A Hunger by Jan Sikes

When I worked on radio in the south of Spain I presented and recorded four series of Authors in the Sun showcasing local writers and their short …

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Authors in the Sun – #Romance #Revenge – A Broken Promise – A Hunger by Jan Sikes

Book Festival – Lubbock, Texas

It’s so refreshing in these crazy times to do something normal, like attend a book festival. I will be out of pocket all weekend participating in the Lubbock Book Festival.

So if you are anywhere near Lubbock, stop in and see us!!

It’s going to be a good time.

Comments are closed and I will catch up with you all when I return.

#WednesdayWonders – Unakite #gemstones

Welcome to another Wednesday of Wonders from the world of gemstones!

Created in Canva photo by Jan Sikes

The first stone that I ever purchased for the sole purpose of working with its metaphysical properties, was a Unakite.

I was in a little metaphysical store in Shreveport, Louisiana with my best friend and spotted it. Each stone had a small card attached explaining the properties. The words that caught my eye were “Anti-Aging Stone.” Sold!!

After I bought it and did some more research, I discovered this little stone helps draw negative energy away from the heart chakra and lifts spirits when feeling down. It is from the Jasper family and resonates with the frequency of love, compassion, and kindness. It is a stone dedicated to balancing the emotional body.

An amalgamation of Red Jasper, pink Feldspar, and green Epidote, Unakite is solidly bound together and is said to symbolize “what comes together belongs together.” It forms in dense, opaque masses as a granite rock and ranges in color from pistachio to moss green interlaced with areas of pink, peach, or light red. It is named for the Unaka Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, USA, where it was first found, but is also found in pebbles and boulders in glacial drifts around the Great Lakes, as well as Zimbabwe and Switzerland.

Unakite Jasper fosters healthy relationships through balanced emotions. It encourages harmonious partnerships, both in love and in business, and is especially helpful for working closely with a relative or friend where positive personal interactions are vital.

It’s a wonderful little stone to work with and carry with you. Often, I put it in my filtered water container to make tonic water.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you have a Unakite in your collection?

Monday #Motivation #Meditation #RuneReading #DragonCard

Created in Canva by Jan Sikes

Welcome to the start of another week. With so much heartache in the world, it’s impossible not to feel it. But as with every post, I strive to find something positive to uplift. I ran across this quote in one of my journals recently. I don’t remember when I wrote it, but I do remember the profound realization of what freedom truly is, and we ALL have it regardless of outside circumstances! So, the meditation I’m sharing today is all about tuning into positive loving energy.

This is my second attempt at doing a Rune Cast and I felt a little more comfortable with it. I burned the Palo Santo Wood and Sweetgrass to cleanse the area from anything my ego might try to interject. I used the runes I made this time.

Photo by Jan Sikes 9-20-21

The rune in the past position is Kenaz. It represents a torch, beacon or fire. On a metaphysical level, this represents the light of knowledge or enlightenment. It can indicate a breakthrough of some sort. Perhaps seeing a situation in a different light and in a gentle way. It is the rune of the artist and craftsman and is useful when creativity is needed. It also governs the technical aspect of magic. Some say it can represent a fresh start.

How strange that the blank rune WYRD has shown up so early in the readings. 🙂 The Universe is challenging me. So here goes. WYRD is a relative to the word karma and takes its meaning from the runes surrounding it. It operates on a completely separate dimension than the other runes and can often indicate in a reading that the situation is in God’s hands. It shows that what is destined to be cannot be avoided.

The third rune is Ingwaz and represents the male aspect of Mother Earth. When found in the outcome position of a rune reading, it indicates a successful outcome. Whatever is propelling you forward at the moment, Ingwaz is acknowledging and confirming that the energy behind it is potent and heading for substantial results. It is a very positive rune.

My takeaway:

Perhaps we are given the opportunity to see a situation or creative project in a new light, understanding that destiny and Karma come into play throughout life and that part is totally out of our control. With Ingwaz in the outcome position, what is coming is all good!

And the Dragon Card confirms that message!

Also, just a reminder to all the gemstone lovers, tonight is a powerful full moon and there is no better way to charge your stones than putting them out under the moon’s rays!

#NewRelease – Cherry Red – @DarleneLF @WildRosePress

I am super excited to turn my blog over to a fellow Wild Rose Press author, Darlene Fredette! Her new book, Cherry Red, is an inspirational romance. But I’ll let Darlene tell you about it.

Thank you, Jan, for letting me take over your blog site today to share the news about my new romance.

In my story, Cherry Red, the heroine, Carly Redd, creates new flavours of ice cream. While going to college, she worked as a bartender. She blended her knowledge of ice cream and alcohol and came up with several favourites for her adult customers.

Here’s the recipe for her Red Wine Float.

Add three maraschino cherries to the bottom of a large fancy glass.

Add two large scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Add three more cherries.

Fill the glass with red wine about an inch from the top.

Add another small scoop of ice cream.

Stick a straw in the drink and top with red sugar sprinkles and more cherries.

Serve immediately.

Blurb:

This summer, ice cream entrepreneur Carly Redd’s only focus is expanding her business—until she’s coerced into attending her ex’s engagement party. Showing up without a date is unthinkable. She reluctantly agrees to be escorted by her brother’s co-worker, although doing so breaks her rule of not dating firefighters.

The daughter of the town’s fire chief should wear a Do Not Touch sign, but firefighter Noah Harding’s interest blazed the moment he saw Carly. Agreeing to be her fake boyfriend is a no-brainer, but convincing Carly to trust him with her heart is harder than extinguishing a fire.

Overstepping the platonic-only rule is as dangerous as fire and ice swirling into a tempting combustion.

Excerpt:

“This might seem like a strange question, especially since we’ve just met, but would you be interested in going out for a coffee? Or an ice cream?” Noah rested an arm on the bar.

Carly glanced down at her jeans and black T-shirt embroidered with the company name and logo…a cluster of red cherries. In a room full of women all dolled up in fancy—and some a bit scanty—dresses, why would this incredibly handsome man ask her on a date? “I appreciate the offer, but I’m not interested…”

Noah raised a brow. “I know you like ice cream, so is it the coffee, or me?”

“What? No. I mean, yes.” She took a second to collect her scrambled thoughts. “I like coffee. I just don’t hang out with firefighters.” Not that he was a real firefighter. Did impersonators count in her rules of men to avoid? She never dated a stripper, but she wasn’t sure she could have a relationship with a guy who was paid to take off his clothes and have other women fawn over him. Not that the guy asked her on a date…just a simple coffee. His frown made her feel badly. “I’m sorry. It’s nothing personal.”

“Burnt in the past? No pun intended.” He smiled.

She couldn’t help but smile back. “Something like that.”

Buy Links:

This link will bring you to my website which has links to all distributing sites for my books.

Universal Purchase Link: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/2021/04/my-books-purchase-links.html

Social Media Links:

Author Web Site: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/

Blog: http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Fredette/e/B005NAF660/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarleneLF

Author Bio:

Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short, and the winters are too long. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador.

#WednesdayWonders – #Gemstones – #Amethyst

Happy Wednesday! Since I took down my Facebook passion page, I decided to share some of my passions here on my blog.

Photo by Jan Sikes – A tiny portion of my gemstone collection

I love rocks!

Since I can remember, I’ve been a collector. When we’d go on family vacations, I always came home with a pile of rocks, much to my parent’s dismay.

But for me, that love tripled shortly after Rick passed away.

After his death, and my decision to leave our home, I started the process of packing. Then about six months later, I moved into a new house and started the unpacking process.

I had (have) lots of Rick’s paintings. As I was deciding which ones I wanted to hang in my new house, I opened all of the boxes and pulled them out. Then as I made my choices and returned them to their packing boxes, there was one box that the painting wouldn’t fit back into. Puzzled, I turned the box upside down, and lo and behold, this fell out.

Photo by Jan Sikes 2010

Now, keep in mind, I put every single item in each box (well, with the help of a bit of vodka and cranberry juice). But I swear I had never seen this Amethyst Crystal before the day it fell out of the box. So, I viewed it as a Spirit gift and wanted to learn everything I could about it.

Amethyst works as a natural tranquilizer, activates spiritual awareness, aids in sobriety, helps combat insomnia, boosts the immune system, enhances brain function, and guards against psychic attacks.

That’s the short version.

Amethysts are reported to open a person’s third eye. The third eye is considered to be a source of power and wisdom.

Crystal practitioners believe a person can use amethysts to enhance or sharpen spiritual visions and enlightenment. These are scientifically unproven claims.

Metaphysical crystal practitioners may also believe that amethyst geodes or crystals placed in your home will absorb negative energy and create an air of tranquility in the space. For that reason, Amethysts are often used to aid in the passing from this life into the next.

Plus, they claim that amethysts help block electromagnetic frequencies and “geopathic stress” that can foster negativity. This is said to occur when human-made objects disrupt the earth’s natural energy

If you’d like to try out the reported healing benefits of amethysts for yourself, here are a few ways you can incorporate them into your life:

  • Carry a small amethyst crystal in your pocket or purse.
  • Wear jewelry made from amethysts, such as a necklace, bracelet, or ring.
  • Place amethyst crystals or geodes in your home.

Not only is Amethyst a beautiful stone, but carries some amazing properties. It was the beginning of a fun and never-ending journey of collecting in and learning about all kinds of gemstones and incorporating them into daily life.

I look forward to sharing others with you.

Do you have a gemstone you are drawn to? I’d love to hear from you.