September Book Reviews @stacitroilo @maeclair1 @brendawhitesid2 @Sandra_Cox @maurabeth2014

I normally wait until the end of the month to share my book reviews, but these wouldn’t wait! Enjoy!

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MY REVIEW:

Hang onto your hat with this one, folks!
This story, written in dual timelines is hands-down one of the best books of the year so far!
I struggled at the beginning to keep all the characters from each timeline straight, but as the authors so effectively established each one, it became easy.
I love all the characters. Even the tertiary characters are bigger than life.
The relationship between Aiden and his Gran (Julia) is so special, not just because she raised him. They share something deeper than just family blood. They share gifts passed down through their lineage. But their banter is endearing. I almost laughed out loud when she drugged him with her special herbal tea.
The strong female characters in this story are unique and capable. Greer may be my favorite. Not only is she a talented writer and editor, but she’s also got flaws that make her believable. And that could be said about each character in this story.
Aiden is a non-believer in anything related to the spirit realm. So it was fun watching things unfold to challenge him at every turn.
From seances in the late 1800s to modern-day seances, this story encompasses it all. Some so-called spiritualists were no more than good magicians, while others truly possessed the gift of mediumship. Since I am a true believer in supernatural gifts, I found all of this believable.
I cannot fail to mention Aiden’s faithful dog, Levi. He is as much a character in the story as the humans and is entirely devoted to his master. So, I loved it when he saved the day.
If you love deeply intertwined family stories mixed with paranormal occurrences and a tantalizing mystery, you are going to enjoy this story from these two authors. I’ve been a fan of both of their writings for many years, but the two of them co-authoring this book have taken storytelling to an entirely new level. This is the must-read book of 2022!

 

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MY REVIEW:

I enjoyed this book so much. The author speaks my language. Elidor is an empath. She’s struggled throughout her entire life with how to manage that gift and not let it overwhelm her. She’s also an archaeologist and a good one. She’s traveled the world participating in digs. But this one, in New Mexico, changes her life. Bordering the Mescalero Indian Reservation, she and her partner, Cam make a discovery that will affect the future of the Mescalero Indians and their way of life. What to do? She’s developed a close kinship with a Mescalero elder, Juanita, who is teaching her how to manage her gift as an empath. Then Cam falls off the mountain and dies. Now Elidor is the only one who knows the location of the burial site and the massive accumulation of wealth it holds. She makes a choice that puts her life in danger. Greed can cause men to do unspeakable things. I cheered for Elidor when she made the decision to return home to Joshua, which is a fictitious town patterned after Jerome, Arizona. If you’ve never visited this place, put it on your bucket list, and don’t miss the kaleidoscope store. The author did a fabulous job of describing it. But I digress. I loved Elidor’s family and the hippie community that is bonded together in this quaint town. And while she knew it was always a possibility, she’d not prepared to cross paths with her one true love, Julien, whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years. He is an accomplished journalist turned author and has also traveled the world. Will they be able to renew their relationship? Will Elidor give up her secret? So many questions! You’ll have to read the book to find the answers. While this is book 3 in a series, is it a complete standalone You do not have to read the others before this one. If you are a fan of complex characters and a compelling storyline, you are going to love this book. I highly recommend it!

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MY REVIEW:

The cover for this story is the first thing that drew me. It’s gorgeous! I’ll Be Right Back is a short read that portrays a weak man’s obsession with a woman and the ultimate betrayal. Maura Beth Brennan has a distinctive writing style that pulls the reader into the story. She sets the scene, then follows through with the psychological aspects of both characters. Money isn’t everything, and love is truly blind. A short but good read!

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MY REVIEW:

A sheriff with amber eyes and lean hard muscles, a spunky southern girl, and a small Montana town makes the perfect combination for an intriguing story. Oh, but wait! Let’s add in the fact that the hunky sheriff is a shapeshifter who is determined to keep his inner wolf a secret. But when the people he loves are threatened by a powerful evil force, he has no choice. This story kept me involved from the beginning to the end. While I felt it was predictable as far as the romance part, it is a super entertaining read, and a great way to escape into another world for a while. This author does a great job of creating the characters. I could visualize them all and had a few favorites I immediately related to. Rose, Quinn, Jesse, and Adam, although tertiary characters, all play a big part in the unfolding of the story. If you are looking for a different kind of small-town romance story, there is no doubt you will enjoy this one. It’s a great escape!

August #BookReviews – @DWallacePeach @TPolen6 @StaciTroilo @JillWeatherholt

I read some AMAZING books in August, aside from the ones I’ve already posted through Lone Star Literary Blogging and NetGalley. I’m excited to share these additional reviews with you!

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MY REVIEW:

This story gripped me from page one. A Necromancer is summoned by the King of Verdane. His beloved wife is dying in childbirth. Barus, with a severely crippled, bent, and gnarled body, is the Necromancer. He overhears the queen begging the king to save the life of the child and let her go. But in his grief, the king cannot make that choice, so both mother and child die. But Barus has already fallen in love with the beautiful child, and in the midst of the chaos surrounding the queen’s death, he steals the baby’s lifeless body, takes her to his thatched hut, and through the use of his knowledge and abilities, returns the child’s life. Never was a little girl loved more than Aster. Barus teaches her the healing art, and she grows into a beautiful and happy young woman who can communicate with dragons. So, when the king eventually comes to claim his only heir, things begin a slippery and deadly downhill slide.

Stephen Spielberg once gave writing advice to authors, telling them to put their characters up a tree and throw rocks at them. This author, D. Wallace Peach, did that in spades in this story. The unimaginable torture and hardships Aster went through were enough to have me biting my fingernails and holding my breath.

Captured and placed in a cage to freeze to death overnight, it appears all is lost. That is until young Jareh decides to disobey his powerful father and help her escape. The journey that one single action took them on was long, cold, and treacherous.

I won’t spoil the story by giving away too much. I’ll just say I was mesmerized as it all unfolded, leaving me gasping for breath more than once.

If you are a fan of epic fantasy that includes herbal healing, magic, dragons, corruption, and greed, you are sure to love this book! I highly recommend it!

 

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MY REVIEW:

This YA Dystopian book gripped me from the beginning to the end. As a young boy, Asher Solomon has to run with his two sisters to escape being taken by The Colony soldiers. At first, he is sure it’s only a drill. After all, their father has insisted they be prepared for the one unavoidable time it would be real. And that time arrives at the start of the story. But when Asher’s sister is injured while escaping, he’s forced to leave them in a cave, promising to return for them.


The world-building in this story is phenomenal. The author did a fabulous job of creating believable characters in nail-biting situations of survival. Oh, and they are all teenagers.


The Colony has figured out a way to harvest highly sought-after, desirable genes from children in order to create a perfect society of beautiful people free of all disease. Of course, that kind of perfection comes at a price. The price of human life.


Children, referred to as outliers, are ripped from their families and taken to harvesting centers.
Asher joins a group of teenagers, Insurgents, whose mission is to rescue these children.
While Asher and his group may be young, they are wise and capable way beyond their years. There are a lot of characters in this story, but besides Asher, I loved Noah, Brynn, and Paige. They are the backbone and strength of the Insurgents.


But there are secrets. And when they are revealed, change everything Asher ever believed about his parents and his life, and have the potential to destroy everyone he loves.
This story concludes with somewhat of a happy ending mixed with a cliffhanger. I could see this entire story unfold as a movie and would be thrilled for the author if it were to be developed as a major film. If you are a fan of gripping dystopian stories where survival is tenuous, you will love this book.

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MY REVIEW:

This is a book that is so real, you can imagine Vanessa and Royce Keller being your next-door neighbors. Royce Keller is an esteemed doctor. Vanessa spends her time helping raise money for charities. Then there are three children, all teenagers.


Somewhere along the way to building a busy, successful medical career as Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Keller lost touch with his wife and children. That is until tragedy strikes.

When his teenage daughter, Hope, is brought into the emergency room, a victim of a motorcycle accident, he doesn’t recognize her. He goes against all medical protocol by treating her and then, in a frantic attempt to save her waning life, gives a blood transfusion directly from his vein to hers. After all, she is his daughter, and their blood should be a match. The result is Hope’s death. The reason—severe trauma wounds and a blood mismatch. The first of many secrets is revealed. Hope is not his child.


And that’s just where the story starts.

The family undergoes such an emotional rollercoaster from the first page of this book until the end. It is a character-driven story, and those are my favorites. While, at times, I wanted to shake both Royce and Vanessa, what they went through on their journey to redemption is relatable and believable. The two remaining children were often stronger than their parents as layer after layer of trust had to be rebuilt.

And did you know it is possible for twins to have different fathers? I didn’t until I read this book. It is called heteropaternal superfecundation.

This is family drama at its best. If you are a fan of deep psychological wounds, healing, and acceptance, you will enjoy this story as much as I did! I highly recommend it!

 

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MY REVIEW:

I received this book as a gift and found it to be a refreshingly light read. Several things appealed to me, such as the small town setting where everyone knows everyone, a single dad raising a little girl, who is also a paramedic and dashingly handsome, and a big city lawyer who has given up on love and God.
Faith is woven throughout the story, but it’s done in a tasteful way so that it doesn’t come across as preachy.
One of my favorite characters in the story is Rebecca, a precocious little girl who adores her father. While the plot and storyline are predictable, I enjoyed the light-hearted read, and it left me feeling hopeful. I am a sucker for a happy ending. Especially one where all the characters come out winners. This author writes from the heart, and that is obvious in this story. If you love Christian-based clean, and wholesome romances, you’ll enjoy this book.

June #BookReviews @dlfinnauthor @DAntion @TeaganGeneviene @harmony_kent @CharlieDaniels @pat_garcia

I’ve had a wonderful month of reading outside the NetGalley and Lone Star Literary books I already reviewed.

I only share 4 and 5-star reviews. Reviews are strictly my own opinions.

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Book Cover for Life and Soul
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MY REVIEW:

Poetry is not meant to simply be read, it is meant to be savored. It is the truest and most raw form of emotions expressed. In this beautiful collection, the author takes the reader through a journey of loneliness, seeking, and finding.
The journey is honest.
Alone in a crowd, an empty life, and deep longing fill the first section of Life and Soul. This stanza expresses it perfectly, “Sitting at a crowded table. Good food, good friends, good wine. And still, a silent tear escapes the corner of my eye…”
The seeking and wisdom in the second portion of the book grabbed at my heart. “All paths and all ways lead to luminous light…” And this, “Love yourself ‘fore another. Believe in yourself. Only then can you love all.”
The Brief Soul collection of poetry brings a short reprieve and understanding. Then it flows into Friendly Soul. I think my favorite in this segment is “True Friend.” “Friendship does not measure nor count the give and take…” Then the joy of finding that one, THE ONE is expressed in joy and gratitude and pure love. In the poem “Bridge,” this line grabbed me, “Through still waters that run deep, love has built a bridge between your soul and mine…”
In the final section of the book, “The Soul,” you will find an eclectic variety of poems expressing a gamut of emotions and experiences. If you appreciate well-written emotive poetry, I can highly recommend this collection from Harmony Kent!

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MY REVIEW:

Deep in a California forest, a grieving widow has not only lost her husband but her loyal canine of many years. She is existing in isolation, close to ending it all and joining Rob in death.

Andrea Burr has lived in the forest for so long, that it’s quite comfortable to her, even with bears rummaging through her garbage. She’s a crack shot with a gun and can take care of the generator and necessary wood supply. She prides herself on her independence.
But things change quickly. First, a dog shows up and she happily takes him in and feeds him. Then next a cat with a rat on her back shows up and Drea takes them in as well. And just in time, because she desperately needs a purpose and company. But imagine her shock when she realizes these animals can talk. Oh, and they can use the bathroom and flush the toilet. But it is what they reveal that is both fascinating and horrifying. And that’s just the beginning.

A serial killer is on the prowl and his victims are widows. Andrea is in his crosshairs and he begins to toy with her. Luckily, her late husband’s best friend, Adam, is a policeman. He tries his best to protect her. But it’s Andrea who takes down the killer. Now, it’s over and she can relax.
Wrong! Next comes a crazed lunatic, then aliens.

There are so many complex layers to this story and the author did a superb job of weaving them all together, including a little light romance. This sentence from the book sums it up perfectly: “Ghosts, aliens, serial killers, crazy men trying to take over the world—life won’t be dull around you, Drea.”

If you are a lover of animals, enjoy tense nail-biting suspense, and happy endings, this book is a must-read for you. It is so well-written and gripping. A page-turner for sure!

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MY REVIEW:

We see performers on stage and think what amazing lives they must lead, but as Charlie Daniels shows in this book, it’s never as it seems.
The memoir starts with Charlie’s birth when a bureaucratic mixup put an s at the end of Daniel, therefore changing the family name forever. His parents were LaRue and William Daniel. But the world would know Charlie as Charlie Daniels.
I loved the depiction of his carefree growing-up years as an only child. While he states his father was an alcoholic, the man worked hard and taught Charlie to work hard.
Throughout this memoir, Charlie Daniels shows us the ebb and flow of trying to get established in the world of music. He had several bands before ever settling on The Charlie Daniels Band (CBD) which the world came to know quite well. He was often broke, but he had a fire burning inside that pushed him to keep trying.
Then when the dam broke open, it broke big and the CDB was off and running. And run hard, they did. One of the things that impressed me in this memoir is the strength and determination Charlie had to rise above all the odds and do it with integrity. Honesty was of utmost importance to the man and he demanded it from the people who worked for him.
His love for his wife and child surpassed everything else and that shines through in the writing. Charlie Daniels rubbed elbows with the most elite in Nashville, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and New York City, but he never changed. He had a burning passion for the music he loved.
He sums it up in this excerpt: “If you don’t have a fire in your belly and a heart so full of desire that you can’t imagine your life without a career in music, don’t even put your foot on the path because you are going to get your heart broken.”
He spent an entire lifetime in the music business. At the age of seventy-one, he was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. Then nine years later, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I think the biggest thing I took away from this beautifully written memoir is the importance of falling down, getting back up, and digging out. As someone once said, it’s not the number of times you fall down that counts, it’s the number of times you get back up. That describes Charlie Daniels. If you are a fan of Southern rock music, you will definitely enjoy this memoir.

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MY REVIEW:

What an epic conclusion to Emlyn’s journey. I’ve followed this saga from book 1 through to the ending.
I’m not sure where to start. I loved everything about this final chapter of the Dead of Winter saga. The author wrapped it up perfectly.
The emotions and insecurities Emlyn felt, despite her amazing accomplishments, made the story realistic. And it was great to be reminded she is only twelve years old, although her abilities far exceed what any normal adult could do.
I won’t leave any spoilers. So much happened in this final episode. I loved the part the goddess Coventina played. Despite her fierce demeanor, her compassion and care for young Emlyn are shown. As the story unfolds and concludes, we are taken along for an intense nail-biting battle against the King of the Nightwalkers. Then the Veil must be repaired so that the dead can return once more to their world and the living world could be safe once again. I think my favorite scene was with Emlyn and Coventina flying. I could almost feel it through the words.
So much happened in this episode, I found myself breathless. What a way to end a saga! I give this author kudos for such a huge undertaking with this series. 

Knuckleheads book cover
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MY REVIEW:

I have always been fascinated by the dream world and the mystery that surrounds it. But lucid dreaming holds an even greater intrigue. Is it truly possible for someone to purposefully travel in dreams? In this book, Zach finds out. This coming-of-age tale is told from Zach’s point of view in a conversation with his daughter, Abbie.
The conversation begins following Zach’s retirement party and takes the reader back through his growing-up years in Pittsburg, Pa., and his attempt to explore and understand his paranormal ability of lucid dreaming. His best friend, Billy, has psychic abilities. He can’t always know details, but he knows outcomes. The lengths Billy will go to to protect Zach touched me. Both Zach and Billy are particular about whom they confide in and Zach’s father becomes their go-to person. I loved how the father respected the boys’ abilities but also how he tried to help them learn how to use and control them.
The setting, the sixties, is a wonderful era; Pre-computers, pre-cellphones, pre-TV as we know them. The author did a fabulous job of bringing me into this time period with his descriptions and wonderments. The bowling alley belonging to Zach’s father is the setting for a lot of the scenes, with manual pin-setting and maintenance of the lanes. The two boys had so many lessons to learn and I loved that both of them were hard-working and conscientious (something today’s youth could use). The mention of a transistor radio certainly took me back in time, as well as eight-track players and manual transmissions in cars. And while the unusual formatting of the conversation between Zach and Abbie was slightly off-putting at first, once I got into the flow of the story, it disappeared into the background. A great journey backward through the eyes of Zach, but with a paranormal twist. I enjoyed this story!

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MY REVIEW:

This is a super short read (thirty minutes) that left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Tessie has never been married and she’s turning sixty-five. She’s always dreamed of living in a big house full of children with a man who adores her. But it’s only a dream.
Or is it?
Surprises are just around the corner for Tessie. This book encourages people to never give up on a dream or on love!

That’s it for me this month. I hope you found something that grabbed your attention. 

May #BookReviews! @JoanHallWrites @peggy_jaeger @YouAreTheExpert @WendyJayneScott @bmellor1 @SuePerkinsAuthr @Ash_Capes @DweomingWell

I don’t have a lot of books to share as I’ve already shared several throughout the month, but the ones I do have to share with you are fantastic reads!! I only post four and five star reviews.

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MY REVIEW:

Julie Williams is someone I immediately admired. She’s survived a lifetime of mental and physical abuse from her mother, and now her mother has passed away in a nursing home. Despite a tumultuous childhood, Julie is a well-adjusted, loving mother and wife with a stable home and loving husband. She owns a coffee shop in a small town.
When a stranger steps off the Amtrak train and stands on the platform for a long period of time staring at her coffee shop, she can’t help but feel uneasy.
As it turns out, this stranger changes her life and everything she’s been led to believe about her life up to that point. The author did a fabulous job of building up to the big reveal. I love all the characters in the story, from the hotel owner to the genealogist, and how the small-town gossip mill doesn’t let anything remain a secret for too long.
This is a short read, just under a hundred pages, and has a satisfying ending that left me feeling that there is justice in the world. I highly recommend this entertaining read for anyone who enjoys small-town family drama.

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MY REVIEW:

The book title alone was enough to send me to hit the purchase button, but the story premise sealed the deal. I’ve enjoyed other books by this author so knew I was in for a well-written story.
The good sheriff of Renewal, Oklahoma, has fought for a place in life since he was born. Rejected by society as a half-breed, Cal had two choices. He chose to stand up and fight. And now he’s determined to keep his town safe. However, when Silvestra Coeltrain arrives for a visit, the quiet little town is turned on its ear.
Cal is immediately attracted to Silvestra when called out to investigate a cow’s death. And it’s more than just a normal attraction. Mystery and intrigue surround the Italian beauty. But she’s married. So, that puts her off-limits to Cal, yet the attraction cannot be denied.
As the author lets the story unfold one delicious layer at a time, all is not as it seems. Silvestra’s psychic abilities are strong, and she’s worked with police to solve high-profile crimes for many years. A trip into Oklahoma City to do some research uncovers more than Cal imagined. But cows are still dying, and now Silvestra’s life is in danger.
This is an entertaining story, and I got lost in the lives of these small-town Oklahoma characters. The author did a superb job at letting the story flow into a climactic unfolding. I had to know the answers! The story has a satisfying and exciting ending.

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I’ve been a fan of Annette Rochelle Aben’s poetry for quite a few years, and when I saw she had published a book of flash fiction, I knew I was in for a treat. And a treat it is! Anyone who is an author knows what a challenge it is to write a story in 99 words. The writing has to be concise and tight, and that is exactly what Ms. Aben managed to do. I found stories with humor, satire, wisdom, the complexity of the human mind, and family. A few stood out to me personally as favorites. “Advancement” is so insightful about a strong woman, as is “Eyes Forward.” “Bedfellows” is such a realistic story about a girl with too many brothers and an abusive father. “Cash For Cars” moved me. “Drops In The Bucket” relates the daily grind cycle in which rewards are small. I’d venture to say there is a story for everyone in this collection. It’s a quick, easy read and is so well-written. I highly recommend this book.

 

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MY REVIEW:

This is a fantastic collaboration of seven talented authors from New Zealand and Australia, with the common theme of fantasy running through the stories. Some are excerpts from longer stories, and some are either background or spin-off stories about characters in other novels. But the one thing they all have in common is that they are well-written and compelling. It’s hard to pick favorites. But one of the stories that really stood out was “Vision-Maker” by Wendy Scott. A Shaman for a tribe of pygmies gives birth to a child who is malformed. As per tribe tradition, the baby must be sacrificed to the spirits. However, as Necia prepared to leave the child for a sure death in the elements, she is given a vision in which the child was a golden girl with perfectly formed limbs and the spirit of a warrior. After that, she could not let the child die as a sacrifice to the gods. I won’t tell you what happened, but this story tugged at every heartstring I have. I also loved “The Toad Lord” by Kirsty Anderson. A talking frog, a magic ball, and a deep well make for an intriguing tale. The “Changeling” stories by Belinda Mellor also grabbed me and left me wanting more. If you are looking for stories that will entertain, warm the heart and make you believe in the power of magic, this collection is for you! I highly recommend it!

That’s it. Hope you see something here you like! 

April #BookReviews @linneatanner @teagangeneviene @RobertaEaton17 @harmony_kent @ColleenChesebro @Marjorie_Mallon @mhurdle112

Most of my book reviews for April have either been for Lone Star Literary Blog Tours or NetGalley, and already posted, but I do have three more to add.

Courtesy Pixabay

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MY REVIEW:

This is a well-written short story incorporating ancient Roman history with fiction. The author did a great job of writing a fictitious account of what could have actually happened. The story begins when two young aristocrats are contemplating their futures. Lucius Antonius is sure of a high-ranking position under Augustus Caeser.
To his surprise, when he is summoned to meet with Augustus, he finds himself forced into a position of either forsaking his family or facing sure death. The father of young Lucius is accused of being a traitor and Augustus issues the order that Lucius must assist in his father’s forced suicide.
The young man is torn between his love for his father and fear of Augustus if he doesn’t obey.
I enjoyed the bit of romance between Lucius and his slave, Brigata. The story shows the great contrast between slaves and noblemen and the big lesson Lucius learns.
While my heart broke for all the injustice being doled out by Caesar, I enjoyed the growth in Lucius as he had to make hard choices. The story depicts the time period perfectly.

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MY REVIEW:

This thirteenth segment of the Dead of Winter series is heart-stopping! Battles are raging. Arawan has amassed a huge army of the dead and the fingers of grayness are creeping closer and closer to Pergesca. But Goddesses are appearing in this part of the story and it leaves me hopeful that together with their combined powers, they might defeat the king of the nightwalkers. Coventina was introduced in this part of the story and although tiny, she is mighty and fierce. Emlyn’s confidence in her own abilities is growing by leaps and bounds. She is experimenting with different pieces of magic and is surprising herself when the results are astounding. Then the goddess Deae Matres embeds the emblem of the society of the Deae Matres, the five-petal flower, into Emlyn’s skin. That makes her the youngest ever to bear the mark of the society.
We see in this segment of the story just how deeply attached Emlyn has become to all of her friends. She cannot bear the thought of losing any of them in the fierce battle.
Then we get to see Thyrus, The Listener show back up in the form of a dragon. Emlyn’s affection for him is touching. The battles rage and Emlyn is in grave danger when the story comes to an end. I cannot wait for the conclusion!

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MY REVIEW:

Poetry Treasures is an apt title for this unique collection and collaboration of poetry. It is an eclectic and talented group of poets who have come together to contribute to this anthology, and while writing styles are different, each poem is to be savored. Reading this collection also gave me the opportunity to meet some new authors, such as Elizabeth Merry, Jules Paige, and D. Avery. At the same time, I enjoyed poems from authors that I know and follow, Robbie Cheadle, Colleen Cheseboro, Miriam Hurdle, M.J. Mallon, and Harmony Kent. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Each poem deals with relationships in some way, as that is the overarching theme.

M.J. Mallon’s poem, “No Holidays for Writers,” struck a chord with me. Here’s one small example, “Goading, grinning, “Edits to do!” My evil editor winks. Tormenting me…with spelling games confuse and contest…”
Then there’s this one from Lynda McKinney Lambert. “I heard the roar of Harley Thunder. The warrior in black leathers returned home.”
I loved all of the poems. So, if you want something with variety and are a lover of deeply expressed poetry, this would be a great book for you!

That’s it for me for April. If you missed any of my other reviews for the month, here you go.

https://jansikesblog.com/2022/04/21/bookreview-the-catch-heartofafrica-bookblogtour-lonestarlit/

https://jansikesblog.com/2022/04/09/bookreview-summer-nights-with-a-cowboy-_caitlincrews-netgalley/

https://jansikesblog.com/2022/04/08/the-bones-of-amoret-newrelease-herbertwriter-lonestarlit/

Books I loved! March #BookReviews @stacitroilo @virgilante @hmkindt @wendyjaynescott @LBroday

March was a super busy month for me, but I still managed to read some GREAT books!

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MY REVIEW:

This is the third installment in the Keystone Couple novellas and it was great to see some of the characters from the first two books make cameos, especially Rick and Romy.
Elena is a wedding planner. She lives on her family’s vineyard in a huge house that fits all of them. And while her job is to help happy couples unite in marriage, she is closed off as far as any future love for herself. The author cleverly threw in just enough backstory to understand Elena’s cynicism that stems back to her high school days ten years ago. Aaron is a policeman and is Rick, Elena’s cousin’s, best friend. He’s always wanted to date Elena, but after the high school fiasco, never had the nerve. Instead, he settled for a narcissistic self-centered woman I enjoyed loathing. The minute Heather shows up in the story, I wanted to slug her. Unfortunately, Elena did, which ended up with her in Aaron’s handcuffs.
My favorite part of the story was how the author showed Elena’s big heart with a more than generous gift to Aaron’s sister who is suffering her own tragedy. With so many obstacles standing in their way, it looked impossible that Aaron and Elena would ever get together. This is a great romance and a short read and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes humor, tragedy and some despicable characters all rolled into one story.

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MY REVIEW:

Anytime I pick up a book from C.S. Boyack, I know I am in for a treat. This book did not disappoint. Book #5 in The Hat series is different. Lizzie and The Hat are on a unique sort of quest, one that involves hunting a human killer instead of zombies, ghouls, or even werewolves. A coven of witches is in danger. One has already been killed and no one is safe. They hire Lizzie and The Hat to find the killer.
The story takes several unexpected turns. It was good to see the regular band members from Lizzie and The Pythons. And I enjoyed the relevant path the band took to get more exposure. It’s true to life. Every band needs a promo video and let’s not forget T-shirts to sell. I’d like to have one of those T-shirts. (hint, hint, Boyack)
I loved the new characters Boyack introduced. Cyrus, Dash, and Destiny all added so much to the story and I absolutely loved the witchcraft part of the story. I’d be remiss not to mention the “creatures” that come into this story. Noodles is straight-out fantasy, and even though his physical appearance is frightening, he has a heart of gold like any devoted pet. I had never heard of Bog Trogs or ambergris. Those were new to me.
Another thing I love is Boyack’s easy way of slipping in things from previous books, like this: “The little black fox trotted past revelers dressed as a cluster of root monsters…” And this, when Cyrus is giving Dash a journal: “This one is an Experimental Notebook…”
Anyone familiar with Boyack’s previous works will recognize these clever insertions.
The magic is over the top in this book. I won’t leave any spoilers, but let’s just say I was on the edge of my seat a couple of times. Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Excitement…all words I would use to describe this latest book from Boyack. I highly recommend it!

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MY REVIEW:

This book is a spinoff from the Eternal Artifacts series and I absolutely loved it. It is YA fantasy at its best!
The story begins with Catron and her father, who is a glassblower. Catron is his helper but has dreams of something better, something more exciting and adventurous than glassblowing. So, when Dawkins, a member of King Mo’s elite guard, shows up with claims that Catron has been chosen to learn at the Vradian Academy, she has mixed emotions of excitement and fear, as well as sadness about leaving her father.
From the start, I fell in love with this character. As other characters arrive in the story, also students of the academy, we start to see relationships form and bonds built. It seems that none of them chose to attend the academy. Through various circumstances, it was forced. This almost immediately gives all of them a common bond. And when lives are threatened, they are able to work together using their individual talents.
This author does a fantastic job of writing from a teenager’s point of view. The thoughts, words, and actions are believable and well portrayed throughout the story.
If you love a story with tons of adventure, magic, and teenage drama, this is a book you will love. And it is not limited to the YA category. Without any doubt, adults would enjoy this escape into fantasy as well. I highly recommend it!

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MY REVIEW:

This book wraps up the unforgettable Lone Star Ranch stories. Crockett Legend fell in love with Paisley Malone when they were just kids. But a family feud tore them apart and to add salt to the wound, Crockett, who is now a judge, had sentenced Paisley’s brother to prison for crimes he’d committed. Then the brother died. There is no way they will ever be able to get past the bitterness. Or is there?
Only Linda Broday could craft a story so compelling out of such broken pieces. Evil abounds in this story. Hatred and spite take center stage.
Love is a powerful healer, though and a healer, Paisley is. When the Lone Star Ranch needs a nurse to tend to injured and sick, it’s the perfect way for Crockett to keep Paisley safe, and to work on trying to mend their fences.
Add in a hilarious talking parrot and you’ve got quite a complex and intriguing story. I love the way Broday works the characters through all obstacles. When any happy outcome seems impossible, she finds a way to bring back together what is shattered. A great historical western romance that I highly recommend. It is the perfect wrap-up to the Lone Star series and while I shed a few tears at some of the events, I closed the book with a happy heart.

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MY REVIEW:

This book contains 31 different writing prompts based on mythical creatures such as unicorns and mermaids. Each prompt is designed to spark the imagination of a child (or adult) who is wanting to write a fantasy story. The colorful illustrations are a delight and lend to the prompt suggestions. For example, one prompt asks the budding author to describe where dragons live while another gives a what-if scenario. What if you are gifted a magical pair of ballerina slippers that transforms you into a dancing fairy, but you mix them up with your regular shoes. If you have a budding author in your family, this book of prompts is the perfect gift. My granddaughter who loves to read and to write will be getting this book for her birthday this year.

That’s it from me. I hope you saw something here that piqued your interest!

January #BookReviews! @NLBadger @TalesOfWhoa @DavidGrann @DarleneLF @SharonSala1 @colleenhoover @LBroday @teagangeneviene

I’ve had another month of some amazing reads! I only post 4 and 5-star reviews.

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MY REVIEW:

I bought this book because of the setting. The Isle of Skye is fascinating to me and any story set there attracts me. And I was not disappointed. It is a love story like none other and a wonderful prequel to the Clan of Dragons series.
The improbability of a huge black dragon and tiny woodland fairy falling in love is huge. But that’s exactly what happens in this story. Duff is a dragon. Robina is a tiny fairy. But when using her magic, they are able to shift into human form, and they fall deeply and eternally in love. Robina tries to return to her fairy home after making love to Duff but finds her heart is empty and torn. Then when her mother reveals a huge dark secret, it sets Robina free. I loved everything about this story from the powerful, but lonely dragon to the tiny and magical fairy. I look forward to the rest of this series.

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MY REVIEW:

Wow! I read this book in one sitting. I had to find the answers to Brad and Cara’s disappearance. But then when I did, I reeled with the shock of the truth. This story has all the things to keep a reader engaged. A missing twin brother, a haunted forest, rumors galore, and people turning up dead who dare to share any information. This author created a creepy and sinister atmosphere that transported me directly into that thick and dark forest along with Dan and his father, as they embarked on a mission to find out what had happened to Brad and Cara ten years earlier. Throw an ancient and evil alien into the mix and you have adventure galore! The twist the story took at the end had me gasping. The characters are multi-dimensional, the writing superb and the story gripping. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great tale!

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MY REVIEW:

I have to be honest, it took me a couple of tries to finally get into this book enough to read it. And when I did, I couldn’t believe the horrors that were inflicted on the Osage Indian tribe. When the United States government forced the tribe onto reservation land in Oklahoma, they had no idea they were forcing them onto huge oil deposits. Once it was discovered in the early 1900s, the Osage became the richest Indian tribe in North America. But because of the way the government still viewed Indians, they were not given control of their money. Instead, they assigned guardians. The story is based around one Osage woman’s family. Mollie Burkhurt had two sisters and a mother. The story begins with the murder of her younger sister, Anna. A single bullet to the back of the head. Then over time, other murders occurred until the only member left of her family was Mollie herself. There was now a total of 24 Osage murders and not one case solved. J. Edgar Hoover had just taken over the newly formed Federal Bureau of Investigation. When the huge number of murders gained his attention, he recruited Tom White, a former Texas Ranger to head the investigation. It took several years, but the corruption at every level of government was exposed along with the man behind all the murders. The motive was money and control. This is not an easy story to read and in fact, I found it quite tedious at times, but it recounts a time in American history that deserves to be told. Kudos to David Grann for telling it in such precise detail. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into research for this exposé. And I have heard they are in the process of making this story into a movie.

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MY REVIEW:

What a fun read! Carly is laser-focused on making her summertime business a success. When she’s not serving her delicious ice cream to patrons, she’s creating new flavors to tempt their palates. And what a great location! Her ice cream hut sits on the beach in Southern California, and long lines are common. She has no time or interest in love. She tried it once and got burned. Never again. The humiliation of the broken engagement still stings, even after a year. She wasn’t good enough for Declan (or so his mother proclaimed.) The story opens with Carly bartending at a bachelorette party as a favor to a friend. She’s anxious to try out her new alcohol/ice cream concoctions, which are an instant hit. The male strippers hired for the party are dressed as firemen. So, it’s no wonder Carly had her doubts when real firefighters showed up. Sparks flew, but she would never date a fireman again. Her father and brother are both firemen. It’s too dangerous. No, never a fireman. But when circumstances throw her and Noah together in a fake boyfriend, girlfriend scenario, neither are prepared to fall in love. This is a quick read with fantastic scenery and delicious ice cream melting under the spell of Noah Blaze.

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MY REVIEW:

This book is different from anything I’ve ever read. Occasionally, I thought to myself, “this is too far-fetched to be believable,” then the next thought I’d have would send me deeper into the story. Is it possible for two people to die at the same time and switch bodies when one is resuscitated? Maybe. But I’ll start from the romance aspect of the story. Leeds had money. He didn’t need to work, but he loved music so took a gig playing bass in a band that he hated their music. When they land a job playing a wedding, Leeds’ life changes forever. The sister of the bride captivates him completely. Layla is fresh, honest, uninhibited, and pushes every boundary. Months into their relationship, an incident changes both of them forever. So, when Leeds decides to go back to where their love first bloomed, at the house where the wedding had been, weird and unexplained things begin to happen. He wants so desperately to salvage the love he has for Layla, but she’s changed. She’s not the same girl and he grows farther away from her. Enters Willow. Willow is a ghost trapped in a realm she cannot get out of. But there’s something hauntingly familiar about Willow and when she takes over Layla’s body so she can communicate with Leeds, he feels the old spark he used to feel for Layla. I won’t spoil how all of this got worked out, but it is intense and I might have caught myself holding my breath a time or two. Different? YES! But a great story I couldn’t stop reading! If you like stretching your mind beyond all your normal limits and boundaries, this might be the story for you!

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MY REVIEW:

Lily Catherine Brownfield has suffered so much in her young life. As the book opens, she is in the hospital recovering from a horrible car crash that leaves her disfigured. Her shallow fiance takes one look at her face and immediately turns away in disgust. When she gave him back the ring, I wanted her to stuff it down his arrogant throat. She’s recuperating in her beach cottage when a newspaper blows across the pristine sand. She chases it until she retrieves the trash. But then her curiosity is piqued when she sees the newspaper is from Oklahoma, and for the lack of anything better to do, she puts it back together and reads it. But it’s a classified ad that draws her attention. A cook is wanted for a three-month round-up on an Oklahoma ranch. Maybe this is exactly what Lily needs, to get away from the awful memories of the car crash and breakup. She makes a call without realizing it’s the middle of the night two time zones over. A sleepy male voice answers and she inquires about the job. He hires her sight unseen. Case Longren just needs someone to cook for the cowboys during round-up. He’s beyond shocked when beautiful blonde-haired Lily arrives to fill the position. It is inevitable that the two of them get together, but it’s a long road. Lily’s mistrust of all men keeps him at arm’s length. After all, how could anyone look at the horrible scar on her face and not be disgusted? She is every time she looks in the mirror. To say it took some work to break through her icy barriers is an understatement. But with a lot of help from mother nature and near-death close calls, she begins to melt. I loved Lily’s father and brothers. They were all such unique characters. This is a fun read and satisfying love story with a great ending.

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MY REVIEW:

It’s been a while since I posted a review of one of my sister’s books, but this story captured my heart from the first page. Sam Legend Jr is a conflicted man. He’s left his prestigious family and is living like a hermit in a primitive dwelling. His only passion left in life is making knives. That is until Cheyenne Ronan bursts into the dwelling and threatens his life. The attraction between the two is a slow burn and it takes a while for Sam to forgive himself for the death of his wife and accept a new love. There is lots of action and lots of memorable characters in this story. Watching it unfold is like watching a flower open under the sun. If you love romance set in the 1800s, you will love this story. If you love flawed characters, you will love this story, as both Sam and Cheyenne have their secrets. I highly recommend it to anyone who just loves a well-written and compelling character-driven story!

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MY REVIEW:

Another compelling installment in Emlyn’s journey! This segment of the story begins on a slower note with Gethin and the gift of a powerful sword. Then it moves swiftly back to Pergesca where we left Emlyn, Osabide, and Zasha in Journey 10. Throughout this segment, perhaps more so than the others, Emlyn grows stronger and more confident in her powers. I loved the introduction of new characters, as well as the reuniting of the old. When Zasha goes before the High Council of The Deae Matres to warn of the dangers coming, I was somewhat surprised by the political structure of the council. I had expected it to be made up of people like the Deae Matres we have been traveling with through these novelettes. Not the case. Just that scenario brings a touch of reality into this fantasy story and I can see the resemblance of our government. What I love most about Journey 11 is the way the author brought me into the story through her excellent descriptive scenes. The clothes they wore, the food that ate, the way the city appeared—I was there! I also love how Emlyn creates and holds a portal with little help from Luce. A great part of the story!!

That’s it for this month. I hope you found a book you cannot pass up!

December #BookReviews @JacqBiggar @Virgilante @vickyburkholder @YvetteMCalleiro @teagangeneviene @DanDwayneSpenc1

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I have had a wonderful month of reading and discovered two new authors. To me, that is part of the joy of reading, to explore. All reviews are strictly my own opinion. I only post 4 and 5 Star reviews.

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MY REVIEW:

A wonderful holiday story that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. Grace Donovan has moved with her six-year-old daughter, Cassie, to a new town. She is hopeful her daughter, who has Leukemia, can participate in a trial treatment program. What she hasn’t bargained for is the kindhearted school principal that sets her heart racing. Widowed, Grace has not considered falling in love again.
But Cassie wants to see her mother happy and her Christmas wish is for someone to make her mother smile again. Well, and she also wants a puppy.
I loved all the characters from Avery, who quickly befriends Cassie, to Kyle the handsome school principal, and his twin brother, Keith. They are all realistic and believable.
This story has all the elements to create a wonderful holiday tale. From children to puppies, a sleigh ride, and a romance, it has it all. This is a short two-hour read and well worth the time. Jacquie Biggar is a talented writer and has the ability to draw the reader into the story with the characters. I highly recommend this story for any time of year, but especially around the holidays.

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MY REVIEW:

This is the final book in The Lanternfish Series, and I have to say it is an epic adventure from beginning to end. In this segment of the series, we see James Cutler go into debt to refurbish The Lanternfish and put her into service to help put an end to the horrible war between the Hollish and Prelonians. Only this time, his journey takes him from the high seas to a land war with adventures and mind-boggling risks galore. We see all of our favorite characters, Fala, Dan, Serang, Mal, Mule, Biscuit Bill, the Root Monsters, and the Palumbos play important roles in this part of the story. There is non-stop action from the time the Lanternfish sets sail until James returns to his home and wife. The author did a great job of wrapping up all the loose ends for each of the many characters, including the Root Monsters. While I enjoyed all the adventure, the final wrap-up, and many happy endings had me smiling through a tear or two, especially with the lovable Root Monsters. If you love fantasy, action, a little magic, and a whole lot of realism, you will enjoy this entire series. I do highly recommend you start with book 1 and work your way through the trilogy to fully understand the final segment. Kudos to the author for this tremendous undertaking!

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MY REVIEW:

This is a very short read and highly entertaining. A theater constructed in 1917 was repurposed and turned into a college in Shreveport, Louisiana. Professor Aston Ross Goldsmith taught in the English department. Everyone had left the building for Christmas break. Professor Goldsmith was packing up to leave when the floor suddenly gave away under him and he fell into a sealed vault with a skeleton and a diary. Convinced he was hallucinating having received a concussion from the fall, he couldn’t believe the ghost of the skeleton was conversing with him. What a mystery that unfolded. I won’t leave any spoilers, but let’s just say the good professor’s Christmas was certainly not dull. 

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MY REVIEW:

Gisele is a warm and caring young woman who has moved to the Gingerbread Lodge nestled in the Pennsylvania mountains to help her aging aunt run the business. Even though Gisele’s mother (her Aunt Minerva’s sister) is disappointed that Gisele doesn’t want to remain a part of their hugely successful hotel empire, Gisele wants more meaning from life. And she loves her aunt, as well as the lodge where she spent many of her growing-up summers. This story reunites Gisele with a teenage sweetheart and despite the difficulties and obstacles they face, they know it’s fate that has thrown them back together. This is a heart-warming story that is just perfect for the holiday season. It combines all the elements of a gorgeous old lodge, loving aunt, long-lost love, a snowstorm, and a reunited family. If you are looking for a lighthearted read with a warm fuzzy ending, this is perfect for you. I could smell all the delicious cookies both Aunt Minerva and Giselle baked.

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MY REVIEW:

A YA novel that every teenage girl should read! Cecilia (CiCi) is on top of the world. It’s her junior year in high school. She’s co-captain of the cheerleading squad, dates the hottest guy in school, Ryan, has a constant BFF, Dee, and lives with her mother in an upscale house. She has everything any young girl could want. Her world falls apart when her mother remarries. Now with a step-dad and step-sister, things change rapidly. The most compelling part of this story is the way CiCi attempts to deal with the horrors that are inflicted on her. The author did a fabulous job of staying in a teenager’s point of view, but at the same time giving CiCi some good coping skills and insights. I do not want to spoil this story for the reader, but it does deserve a warning as it deals with forced rape. What I took away from the novel is a deep sadness that rape happens way too often to teenage girls and that so often, they are terrified to say anything, afraid no one will believe them. The story has a warm and satisfying ending with immense character growth. Kudos to this author for tackling such a sensitive topic in an honest and tactful way. I highly recommend this book!

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MY REVIEW:

Journey 9 begins with Haldis leaving Emlyn, Zasha, and Osabide trapped in a different realm within the lost library. There are floating doors to choose from and each holds danger as well as magical possibilities. The urgent mission is to restore Zasha back to herself and release her from the grips of Fotia, another life from centuries past. Thyrus the dragon is only one of the Listeners the trio meets in this realm. And it is Thyrus who restores Zasha back to her current self. At times, he seems helpful and other times he grows vicious. What I enjoy the most is watching Emlyn grow in confidence and strength throughout this journey. She is a far cry from the girl we met in Journey 1. In the meantime, the army of the dead is amassing and danger lurks around every corner. Magical and fantasy are words I would use to describe these journeys. I found more typos in this segment of the story than any of the others, but still not enough to keep me from turning the pages.

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MY REVIEW:

In this segment of the Journey, Emlyn, Zasha, and Osabide face intensely unimaginable adventures, from the shocking death of Haldis to being separated from the rest of their party. The responsibility now lies completely with these three to rebuild the veil. Hallr, the King of the Dead, passes the third and missing staff to Emlyn and what a personality change he undergoes. With Emlyn’s guidance, the three pass through the painting of Pergesca on the wall inside the library, and into the realm of the dead where they are met by a giant venomous snake. Thyrus, the dragon comes to their rescue, but there are some very tense moments. Emlyn is overwhelmed by the city of Pergesca once they arrive. It is beyond anything she’s imagined. She enjoys the food that is different from anything she’s ever had. She’s never seen a restaurant. I am worried for Zasha as she left Osabide and Emlyn to go to the hall of the Daes Matres, but she hasn’t returned. I can’t wait to see what adventures await these three next. And what a gorgeous cover this book has! As others have said, I do recommend that you start with Journey 1 if you decide to read this fantasy. Otherwise, you will be lost.

That’s it. I hope you found something new to pique your interest!

November #BookReviews! @bsmithnovelist @Sandra_Cox @teagangeneviene @JacqBiggar @michaelsvoice_2

Welcome to my November Book Reviews! I hope you find something new that you can’t resist! 🙂 I only post 4 or 5-star reviews, and all reviews are strictly my own opinions.

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MY REVIEW:

This post-apocalyptic book is like reading a diary. I had to keep reminding myself it is fiction. The author did a great job of drawing me into the story and into the struggle for survival after a devastating EMP. Whether it came from the sun or a radioactive blast, there was no way to know. But for Bea Crenshaw and her four grandchildren, it all came down to basic survival. When the EMP fries electric grids, a tremendous train wreck that releases chemical toxins begins this harrowing tale. The after-effects grow direr with each day that passes. Vehicles are rendered useless. There is no running water, no gas to cook with and no way to flush toilets. At first, Bea and her grandchildren are sure their lives will return to normal within a few days – surely government aid is on the way. However, as the days turn into months, it becomes apparent no help will arrive—EVER. Bea is more prepared than most. She’s been stockpiling food and essentials for years, in a house she’s kept a secret from everyone, including her husband. Continuing to keep it a secret becomes a matter of life and death. Looting takes place in every store within the first few days. As time passes, people are killed over a drink of water. Carrying arms becomes normality. The intensity builds throughout the story, as Bea and her grandchildren cope with this life-altering event. Bea’s husband, Hank, and the children’s parents had gone to Waco for a football game. So, the unanswered question as to what happened to them grates on frayed nerves as weeks turned into months with no return and no word. Bea is nothing short of a superhero in this book. While dealing with an illness and caring for the grandchildren, she brings the neighborhood together to work for a common goal—that of survival. Her stockpiles in the secret house save lives, that is until thugs break in and steal what they can. A grandchild dies because of no medical care. Bea never quite recovers from that blow. Then a stroke renders her helpless. This book is not a heart-warming feel-good story. It caused me some worry and sleepless nights, but I feel the message is not far off the target. Would you be able to survive in an apocalypse? This book might give you some ideas. I highly recommend it!

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MY REVIEW:

Silverhills is not just a story, it’s a saga—a legacy.
Brandon Wade is a Texas rancher. He raises Longhorn cattle and has earned a reputation as a tough no-nonsense businessman as well as a ladies’ man. He and his crew are on a cattle drive when a young boy wearing a six-shooter rides into their camp atop a wild back stallion. He’s looking for work. Only Alex O’Malley isn’t a boy at all. And she’s desperate to keep that hidden. She’s running from something that terrifies her more than rattlesnakes and scorpions. It takes a little while for Wade to realize Alex is not a boy, and he swears to protect her, although she makes it clear she can take care of herself. She has an Irish temper to match her auburn hair. She can rope, ride and shoot as well as or better than any man on the payroll. That is until she’s captured by ruthless Comancheros. Wade will stop at nothing to rescue her. As much as he wants to ignore it, the feelings he’s developing for Alex go beyond duty and honor. And that’s just the beginning of the story. The author did a superb job of describing settings, life on a Texas ranch, and working with animals. Silverhills is the ranch, but it is so much more. It’s an entire self-sufficient community. I loved all of the side characters, especially Jeff, Cookie, and Maria. The obstacles both Alex and Brandon Wade must overcome are daunting and seemingly impossible. The author did a great job of keeping Alex’s secret until the last quarter of the book. But the story has more than a satisfying conclusion. From the plains of Kansas to Texas and on into Mexico, the characters cover a lot of territories. This is an action-packed nail-biting western drama with just the right touch of romance to satisfy any western romance reader!

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MY REVIEW:

I first heard of Michael A. Kroll when he interviewed my late husband, Rick Sikes, for a magazine article he was writing about inmates in Leavenworth Prison. So, when I saw Kroll had written a book, I grabbed it, and am I glad I did. This story goes deep into some very big social issues but does it in such a way that it is entertaining, yet while being brutally honest. The story begins with a traffic catastrophe on a bridge. Cars and people are stuck for hours. The main character, Harrison Ovitz, is an observer. He takes notice of each vehicle and person around him. Next to him is a pickup with a janitorial advertisement on the door. A black man sits in that pickup holding his phone to his ear but never speaking. When the man suddenly exits the pickup, Harrison makes eye contact with him, then locks his car door. That simple act of fear is reflected in the man’s eyes as he calmly walks to the edge of the bridge and hurls himself off. That sets the story in motion. People flock to the side of the bridge to try and get a glimpse of the man, but the deep black waters have swallowed him up. Harrison looks in the pickup and finds a small dog curled up on the seat asleep next to a suicide note. Over the next few days, while taking care of the little dog, Harrison is haunted by what he witnessed, the way the man’s eyes locked with his, and the horror that followed. It sends him on a mission. He is obsessed with discovering why Joshua Jeppards committed suicide. I do not want to leave any spoilers here. But I do want to express my thoughts about this story. It is well-written, as I would expect from a journalist, and it addresses some raw social issues such as sexual child abuse and racism. It also exposes an unspeakable incident that is a huge blight on American history which has all but been swept under the rug. I did not know about the tragedy that took place at Port Chicago, a Naval port in 1944. I do now, thanks to Kroll’s story. If you enjoy a story that deals with real issues, the human psyche, and raw honesty, you will enjoy this book. I do highly recommend it!

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MY REVIEW:

This segment of Emlyn’s journey is broken into two parts. We get a closer look at Haldis, The Watcher, and see her backstory. We also see that she is getting very old and tired, but her connection to the Lost Library is permanent and cannot be changed. She gives us a deeper look into the original powers and magic of the Daes Matres.
Emlyn and the Daes Matres are trapped in the Realm of the Dead and are unable to find the rip in the veil to return to the land of the living. Everything is dark and gray. The setting is creepy and energy levels are low. The group continues their search for the Lost Library and finds what only appears to be remnants of ruins long decayed. The omniscient POV the author writes in, also allows us to see through Arawan’s eyes for a short minute. This gives more insight into his character. This segment ends with tension and I am eagerly looking forward to what’s next.

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MY REVIEW:

This may be my favorite part of the story so far. When the Daes Matres finally discover the Lost Library, the author’s description is stunning. I can picture the ancient walls, levels, and rows of books, rooms that appear as though they are still in use, although it’s now been buried for hundreds of years. But the possession of Zasha by a former reincarnation of herself is a fascinating concept. We think of reincarnation only in terms of karmic debt or unfinished business, but Fotia fully possesses Zasha, even changing her physical appearance.
Emlyn’s experience with the magic of the ancient staff is another favorite scene in this part of the story. Much is revealed about Emlyn and Osabide as well as Zasha here. Now, to see what they do with this new knowledge!
The author has a unique way of drawing the reader into the story and feeling each character’s personality. I’m looking forward to the next segment.

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MY REVIEW:

A wonderful holiday story that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. Grace Donovan has moved with her six-year-old daughter, Cassie, to a new town. She is hopeful her daughter, who has Leukemia, can participate in a trial treatment program. What she hasn’t bargained for is the kindhearted school principal that sets her heart racing. Widowed, Grace has not considered falling in love again.
But Cassie wants to see her mother happy and her Christmas wish is for someone to make her mother smile again. Well, and she also wants a puppy.
I loved all the characters from Avery, who quickly befriends Cassie, to Kyle the handsome school principal, and his twin brother, Keith. They are all realistic and believable.
This story has all the elements to create a wonderful holiday tale. From children to puppies, a sleigh ride, and a romance, it has it all. This is a short two-hour read and well worth the time. Jacquie Biggar is a talented writer and has the ability to draw the reader into the story with the characters. I highly recommend this story for any time of year, but especially around the holidays!

October #BookReviews @shannonsmyers @maeclair1 @teagangeneviene @virgilante @sgc58 @1rburkey @TPolen6

I had quite a busy month of reading and I am happy to share my 4 and 5-star reviews on some fabulous books! Because I have so many, I won’t be sharing the blurbs but will have purchase links if you want to know more.

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MY REVIEW:

I don’t know what this author’s experience is with motorcycle clubs, but she got it right. They live by a code that normal people cannot understand. Their definition of justice is often dealt with raw violence and Myers depicts that perfectly in this book. Jamie Quinn didn’t stand a chance in hell for any kind of a decent life. His father made sure of that. And when he finally got rid of the monster he called Dad, he felt no remorse. In fact, quite the opposite. But his father had introduced him to the Silent Phoenix motorcycle club. And when there was no other place to turn, Jamie turned to the club. Before long, he earned a reputation that no one dared challenge. He could kill without any remorse…and he did. Celia was seventeen, a straight-A student, growing up in a wealthy country-club family. But her father had a drug habit and it cost Celia everything. When the MC took Celia to pay her father’s debt to the club, her entire world came undone. And while the big biker took her virginity, she found herself strangely attracted to him. She saw kindness in his eyes. And Jamie couldn’t get Celia out of his mind no matter what he tried. But she was just a kid. A kid that wound up pregnant with his child. This story is fast-paced, violent, raw, and gritty. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Then came the ending and I literally gasped. Do not expect a resolution in this story. It ends with a gut-wrenching cliffhanger. I am invested in these characters, so I have no choice but to get the next segment of Silent Phoenix MC. If you are not squeamish about violence, rape, profanity, and drugs, you will love this story! The only reason I am not giving this book five stars is because of the ending. I needed a resolution and felt cheated.
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MY REVIEW:


This book is a solid adventure, from one story to the next. While each is different and eclectic, one common thread is woven throughout, and that is Mae Clair’s distinctive writing voice. It is hard to pick favorites, but for me, a few stood out on a personal level.
Kin-Slayer was a mixture of family drama and a mythical creature. I was not prepared for the gut-wrenching ending. The author did a fabulous job of showing the emotions of a tortured soul.
Desert White was probably my favorite. Suicide is not always the answer, as Micah had imagined. The redemption in this story left me smiling. Here is an example of the descriptive prose from that short story: “But in the desert—with life ebbing from his veins, the bloated moon a silent observer overhead—he’d been seized by a violent desire to live.”
Miss Lily Makes a Wish had me chuckling. To watch this frail old lady command an entire army of genies was nothing short of brilliant writing!
I’d be remiss not to mention Father’s Day. That story tore at my heart and left me astounded. If you are looking for entertaining stories that take you off the beaten path, you are going to love this book from Mae Clair! I highly recommend it!
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MY REVIEW:


As Emlyn’s journey continues, and the story unfolds, we get to see more about the characters with who she is traveling. In this segment, we learn a bit more about Haldis, the Watcher, and the Spirits of the Dead who can move between the veils. We also get a glimpse at Emlyn’s brother and his determination to remain with the status quo. But he gets a well-deserved admonition.
One of my favorite scenes in this segment was with Elder Pwyll’s encounter with the dead.
Mairead’s knowledge of history is revealed in her interaction with the dead king.
It becomes evident that the rip in the veil between the living world and the dead is growing larger as numbers of spirits move between them.
We also get to see Mercedes in action with her unique ability to diffuse any situation.
But the deeper look into the character Boabhan is the most significant part of this story and it leaves me wanting to know more about her. I appreciate her kindness toward Emlyn.
The gripping scene at the waterfall left me speechless. The mystery of the rune is solved! I’m ready for the next segment as I know there are more heart-stopping moments coming!
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MY REVIEW:


This segment of The Dead of Winter series begins with heart-stopping action and tension! Arawn appears out of the waterfall on the back of a huge black-winged creature and grabs Boabhan with its huge talons. Emlyn attempts to save her only to be swept up in the air.
Their companions fight to save the two.
I have to say this is my favorite segment so far. What is revealed about Boabhan and Arawn is chilling and horrific. And Emlyn is witness to it all in her dreams. It leaves them both shaken.
Emlyn relies more and more on her mentor Osabide as this story unfolds. But I love the way each of the Daes Matres has taken the child under their wings to teach her as well as protect her.
The events that unfold at the ancient dwelling where they seek shelter moves the story forward in a big way. Emlyn gets new colorful clothes, something she’s never had. And she learns more about the silvery-haired man and wolf. A new rune enters the story in this segment.
The depth at which we are seeing these characters is a testimony to this writer’s ability to show them. And the ending left me wanting to reach for the next part of this journey!
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MY REVIEW:


I have read several books by this author and each one is unique and entertaining. The Yak Guy Project had me hooked from page one. When Ted wakes up in a desert, in an alternate reality, he’s sure he’s done for. That is until a talking Yak rescues him. The journey this man embarks on is full of insane situations. It is obvious that Ted has been shot and most likely died in his other world.
And, the ultimate goal now is for Ted to grow from a disgusting selfish parasitic person into a caring and more spiritual man. The Major Arcana from the Tarot cards comes into play with various situations and characters Ted encounters.
One of my favorite characters (besides the talking Yak) was Snark. I also love how throughout the story there is an admonition to always watch out for the lions. Somehow this translates into an ironic paradox that I could relate to. Sort of like watching out for the sharks (the human ones).
The author’s description of the land, the people, the animals, and most of all the interactions between them take the reader right into the story with them.
The need to survive is strong and Ted will do anything for another chance to live. I enjoyed this dystopian story with all its nuances. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to be entertained!
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MY REVIEW:


This book is one the reader must sit back and savor. It consists of images combined with a variety of syllabic poetry styles from simple Haiku to complex butterfly cinquain. Each is beautifully done. The author shares her unique perspectives in such a way that the reader is swept up into the scene. The first poem, “Washed Up,” is a great example, filled with stark reality, then hope. My all-time favorite poem is “Our Legacy.”
Writers
seek to inspire
those of us not yet great
to leave behind a legacy
of worth.
Fame and fortune are not required
if we are remembered
for our acts of
kindness.
As a writer myself, that one really hit home. “Silver Lining to Isolation” was another one that hit home as relevant and timely. “Life’s Progression” brings the entire circle of life to completion.
I love this line, “Wrinkles mark passing time…”
The flash fiction stories inserted following the poetry are poignant recollections of childhood and other life events. Every story, every poem, every line is well-written and powerful. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a unique perspective on life
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MY REVIEW:


I met Jacob and Petra in the first Enigma Series Book and their attraction was strong. So, with this short story, we got to travel into the future and see the couple happily married and with a child. I loved their devotion not only to each other but to the child. Christmas is coming and both Jacob and Petra strive to get the most unusual gift possible for each other and then keep it a secret. But this year, the secret gift Petra has to offer is one that not only surprises but stuns Jacob. This is a heartwarming story of family, love, and miracles. It’s a short and satisfying read!
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MY REVIEW:

This is the perfect read for the spooky Halloween season! Cain is a seventeen-year-old teenager who feels a heavy responsibility for his family after his father’s death. I love this character’s respect for his mother and attentiveness to his little sister. He and his best friend, Finn, love to hang out, play video games and talk about things that interest them, mainly playing soccer and girls. When Cain’s mother gets a great deal on a new house and they move in, things begin to change. At first, Cain is convinced he’s getting forgetful when the door leading up to the attic is open without explanation. But it’s no coincidence. Sarah is a teenage girl who met her demise in the house when it was under construction. The things that unfold with her story bring out empathy for what happened to her and Cain is motivated to help her. But Sarah is bent on revenge. She uses Cain to occupy his body, then to suck his energy out so she can use it to exact her form of justice against the boys who lured her to the house, then buried her alive when they thought she was dead. This is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat, holding your breath kind of story. I don’t want to leave any spoilers, but the level the anger and evil escalate to is off the charts. If you like a good horror story, this book is for you. It is rated YA, but any adult fan of this genre will enjoy it! The author left the ending open for a sequel.