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.

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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.

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.

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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?

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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.”

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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?

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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.

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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!

August #BookReviews @maeClair1 @jacqbiggar @WillieNelson @LisaWellsauthor @teagangeneviene @sashawrites

What a great month of reading I had! I am super excited to share my thoughts on the books I devoured!

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I am a huge fan of Mae Clair’s writing and thought I had read everything she’d written until I ran across this book. And I’m glad I did!

Caithelden Breckwood is a tortured soul, carrying the weight of guilt for the death of his best friend. But they were only kids and all because of his family wealth and family name. Now he’s an adult with a set of steel bars around his heart and a new last name leaving behind all association to the Breckwood family. The only one he lets in is his young son, Derrick. He’s fiercely protective, determined that what happened to him will not ever happen to his son.

However, when he is hired as a Private Investigator to get to the bottom of who and what is sabotaging Stone Willow Lodge, he comes face-to-face with his past including the one woman he has always loved. Veronica is not prepared to face Caith again. The wound he left on her heart is permanent. As the events that occur at the lodge escalate into an all-out attack, Caith and Veronica are swept into a nail-biting journey that also finds them still deeply attracted to each other and often winding up in each other’s beds. The child, Derrick, plays a big part in helping each of the adults in this story heal and forgive.

I loved all of the characters, but especially Caithelden’s mother, Morgana, who is fascinated by myth and magic. The family drama that unfolds is believable as personalities clash and old issues arise. I rooted for Caith and Veronica all the way. That kind of love cannot be denied. The book came to a more than satisfactory conclusion. If you love a good mystery mixed with a steamy romance, you will love this book. I highly recommend it! 

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I enjoyed catching back up with the characters I met in other Wounded Hearts books. It was like visiting old friends. The always tough SAC agent, Amanda Rhinehart, is seven months pregnant as a result of an illicit affair with a previous member of her team, Adam O’Connor. Adam has no idea she is pregnant or even where she is. At the end of the last book, she left Texas. But as circumstances arise that force Amanda to seek out Adam and other team members, for their own safety, there is no avoiding the fact that she is pregnant with his child.

The author did a great job of layering this story with high-profile drug cases as well as the complex personalities of the characters. No doubt this pregnancy has softened Amanda and cracked her hard exterior, yet she refuses to let Adam in or even admit to him the baby is his. They are both denying their love and it takes some pretty drastic measures to get past the barriers they’ve put in place. The other characters in the story, Maggie, Frank, Cameron, Emily, and a new character, Brianne, all play important roles. The jury is still out on Cameron. One minute he seems like a good guy and the next he’s evasive and hard to read. I look forward to more with him. To me, the story came to an abrupt end. I would like to have seen the reunion with Adam and Amanda rather than being told about it. But that is my only critique. If you like layered characters and plots, you will enjoy this book! It’s a quick easy read.

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If I could give this book ten stars, I would. I loved Willie before I read this book, but I love and respect him even more after reading it. As the title suggests, this is a compilation of letters from Willie – Letters were written not only to people living but many who have passed on. He even wrote a letter to his famous guitar, Trigger, to his audiences, his children, and to his heroes. The book is like a chronological recap of his life from early childhood in Abbott, Texas to today, dealing with the pandemic, politics, climate change, and a plethora of other immediate issues. But through it all, he is positive and upbeat. He lists Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code in a letter to Gene Autry (a boyhood hero). This code is one we would all benefit from if we lived by it.

One of my favorite passages in the book is in the chapter he wrote about all the frequent rumors that circulate about his death. He says: “The question is not: Which one of us is going to die tomorrow? The question is: What am I going to do today? Remember my song, “Three Days,” which helped kick off this book? There are only three days – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And there’s only one of those we can do anything about. So let’s go earn our day. Let’s do our best to enjoy life on this side of the dirt.” Such words of wisdom.

There is also a chapter on the Power of Positive Thinking that I found uplifting. Visualization and positive thinking are the keys to a happy productive life. I believe it! Included with these letters and chapters are many song lyrics scattered throughout the book. I highly recommend this for anyone seeking self-improvement or if you just love Willie!

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With a hexed small town named Knotty, a sexy neighbor named Jason, and an inherited haunted house, I knew I was in for a real treat with this story. Remington never planned to return to the place where she grew up in an orphanage, but when her best friend, Beth, dies and she inherits a house, how can she stay away?

It mattered not that the two friends hadn’t spoken in years. The bond remained. And when Beth makes herself visible to Remington, the story ramps up. Armed with a book of spells, Remington embarks on the journey to becoming a full-fledged spell-casting witch. Ever seen a dog that meows? Perhaps some of the spells need a little tweaking.

This author has such a knack for writing quirky, steamy stories, and this one is the best I’ve read so far. The characters are charming, if not a bit eccentric. The ghosts that roam about are entertaining at the least. But the sparks that fly between Remington and Jason literally turn into visible streams. The story takes a dizzying array of twists and turns, with a surprise ending that I could not have predicted. There is a good bit of humor in this story and I laughed out loud more than once. If you want a sexy easy read that will entertain and distract you, this story is for you.

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This was such a realistic story. The author obviously has some first-hand insight into the ruthless cutthroat world of the music business.

Krystal King has grown up on the stage and in the spotlight, with a father who was a country music giant. She, her sister, and her brother make up The Three Kings and produce hit after hit. But Krystal is broken inside, while outwardly, she’s tough as leather. And when a newcomer is brought in after winning a talent show, she is not happy about being forced to allow him to record a song (her song) that means the world to her. But the record label insists. And not only insists that she give him the song to record, but that her sister will sing the duet with him, not her. The hurt and betrayal go deep. But Emmy Lou, Krystal’s twin sister understands and fakes a sore throat, forcing them to let Krystal sing with Jace Black. Krystal wants to hate him and tries to find every reason to do so.


But Jace is a gentleman through and through. And he’s overwhelmed at the opportunity he’s been given to work with his idols, having signed a contract to open shows for them. He’s finally out of the oilfields and living his dream. Now he can make a better life for himself and his little sister whom he takes care of. Neither Krystal nor Jace are prepared for the intensity of the chemistry between them.


Krystal suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a man whom everyone thought was a family friend (even called him uncle). And although it’s been years, the deep scars have never healed. Krystal is convinced she is so flawed no one can ever love her. Jace is determined to prove her wrong.
Her resistance is strong, but he is stronger.


This is such a good story with a realistic view into the world of stardom, life on the road, and a family that survives whatever is thrown at them. The characters are believable and the world-building is great. If you love a highly charged romance with lots of obstacles, this book is for you, and especially if you are also a music fan!

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This book is the first installment in a series of monthly novelettes from this author and I found myself immediately drawn into Emlyn’s world. The author did a great job of setting the scene. Emlyn is gifted but must keep her gift hidden or face banishment from a strict religious community ruled by the brethren. Women have no value except for childbearing and serving.
Only her mentor knows of Emlyn’s gift and is helping her develop and grow under the ruse of teaching her to read and cipher numbers. This segment of the story is told from Emlyn’s point of view so we see her encounter with a large white wolf through her eyes, as well as the ghosts that appear before her.
The author leaves lots of teasers and foreboding of things to come. “Winter is coming,” is a phrase that echos in Emlyn’s mind. Preparations must be made.
I look forward to the next segment of Emlyn’s journey.

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The world-building in this segment of this series is fantastic. The way the author describes the village, the inn, the characters, and the landscape, I am there. I could smell the biscuit the cook gave to Emlyn while her father bartered for her. And what a shock for the child to realize he wanted to get rid of her. At first, I hated him for that, but given the restrictive and zealous religion they are bound under, he actually wanted to protect her. After all, she must be a witch if she can see spirits. Emlyn’s home life is torturous with a sister who is hateful and spiteful and a brother-in-law she is terrified to be alone with. This segment of the story gave us a deeper look at the fantasy world and its inhabitants. I particularly loved seeing more of Zasha and her companion, Tajin. Emlyn is a mere child, but she is an open channel to the spirit world. I have no idea what will become of her, but I will keep reading to find out! This story is addicting. Each segment is a quick easy read and well-written.

June #BookReviews Part 1 @dlfinnauthor @kim_redford @LizCroweAuthor @lcarrollbradd @dalia_dupris

Welcome to some of my June reading thoughts!

It was such a pleasure to read the newest release from D.L. Finn!

It’s 1969, and twelve-year-old Daniel Burns is camping in the redwood forest with his family. Danny wants to listen to his music and read, but his family has other plans. S’mores around the campfire and stories end their first day. The family is sleeping soundly in their secluded tent when Danny wakes up and finds his sister, Colette, is missing. Assuming she went to use the outhouse, he goes after her. When he finds his sister, they discover there is a thin veil between reality and fantasy. Two bonus short stories offer a glimpse into the magical world that finds Danny and Colette. These hidden beings not only share our world but have a role in protecting their forest.

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MY REVIEW:

I have enjoyed everything I’ve read from this author and this book is no exception. The author has a unique talent for making you stop and think, “What if?” In this book about the tree fairies and the ancient Redwood trees, we find an ordinary family with an extraordinary connection to nature on a camping trip. What happens to the children first, then to the adults is both heartwarming and magical. The family is given a mission to save the beautiful Redwood forest from destruction. Then the author takes us years ahead and we find the two children, Daniel and Colette grown, married, and with children of their own. The tree fairies visit again and the connection is forged between the human and fairy families, and the Wise Trees who speak to the fairies. The two following short stories, are in two different fairies’ POV and are delightful as well. This book is classified as a Middle School level, but at almost seventy, I thoroughly enjoyed it, so it is a wonderful read for all ages! If you love magic, nature, and fantasy all combined into a lovely heartwarming story, you will love this book! I highly recommend it.

Violet Ashwood arrives in Wildcat Bluff County with one agenda: convince the hunky Mr. July from the Wildcat Bluff Fire Rescue’s annual benefit calendar to be the face–and body–of her new lonely hearts online dating service. She didn’t count on his firm refusal, nor did she count on seeing him again. Until she discovers he’s her new landlord.

Kemp Lander, aka Mr. July, wants nothing to do with Violet’s schemes to make him a model for her Cowboy Chat Corral, particularly once he finds out she fudged the truth on her rental contract by claiming she was a cowgirl. He’s got enough problems trying to keep trespassers off his ranch and doesn’t need the distraction of his sexy renter.

All Violet and Kemp want is to save their livelihoods and have their lifelong dreams realized. But it’ll take joining forces and discovering they’re better together to finally meet their goals.

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MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own thoughts. What’s not to love? A rugged handsome cowboy who is also a firefighter sets the tone for this smoking sexy read. When Violet Ashford comes across a calendar from Wildcat Bluff County, Texas that features its volunteer firefighters, she is enthralled with Mr. July. He would make the perfect face for the new online dating site she is developing. But she has to meet him. She puts her life in San Antonio on hold and responds to an ad to work as a cowgirl in Wildcat Bluff County. This is the perfect opportunity to meet Mr. July and approach him about being her model for the site. What a surprise when she finds it is Mr. July (Kemp Lander) himself who has hired her to work on his ranch. Violet knows nothing about being a cowgirl, but she’s a fast learner and determined. The sparks fly between Violet and Kemp but with trespassers digging holes all over Hallelujah Ranch looking for hidden bootlegger gold, and Violet learning how to be a cowgirl, there is no time to explore the sparks. One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the tertiary characters. Bertha, who runs a gourmet chocolate shop, Cousin Lester, The Buick Brigade, Sydney Steele, the other firefighters, the radio DJ and many more helped add layers and dimensions to this story. So, it’s not just a romance. It’s much deeper. Add Fernando the wonder bull and his love, Daisy Mae, and you’ve got all the makings of a busy and engaging read. Also, the added layer of the history of the Hallelujah Ranch and the hidden speakeasy along with the mystery of Lady Mauve was fun. So, anyone who is looking for a hot sexy romance with lots of layers will enjoy this story as much as I did!

When Emerson Tyler’s unrequited high school crush crashed into her first group meeting of the DSN’s social media department, it was strange, to say the least. When she learned that her crush wasn’t as “unrequited” as she’d always believed, things got even stranger. On the day Bryce Nordlinger had crushed her teenaged heart—not to mention ruined her reputation in order to save his lady-killer status—she’d sworn that she’d never trust him or any man ever again. And she had no intention of breaking that oath, no matter how much more tempting he’d become as a grown-up NHL star.
Bryce had always wanted Em to be more than the smart, snarky high school girl who helped him with his terrible English essays. But he’d been busy burnishing his rep as future jock stud, and when his fellow hockey bros caught him skating with her alone in a deserted rink, he’d chosen the easiest path—one that left her hurt in a way he never thought he’d be able to heal. His complete shock at seeing her all grown up and more beautiful than ever in the meeting room at DSN morphed into a steel-plated resolve. He would win her back and make up for the mess he’d made of her high school senior year while dragging the once-proud Detroit hockey program out of the dumpster fire and back to prominence at the same time. 

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MY REVIEW:

I received a PDF in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.
A second chance love story. National Hockey League star, Bryce, returns to his hometown when he’s traded in the league. A chance encounter with an old high school flame sets this story in motion. But it takes more than one encounter to repair the damage Bryce inflicted on Emerson’s heart. He has to work hard to earn his way in, to her forgiveness and to her love. I received this book as a gift and although it was a bit confusing at times, by the end, it worked itself out. The author did a good job of combining sports and romance. This book is Steamy and the language is foul. I do not find either of those offensive but some readers might. I enjoyed tagging along with Bryce and Emerson for the ride!

 

A visit to the coastal Oregon town where her brother is a lighthouse keeper opens Gala Pedersdotter to the wider world. So much so that she dreads returning to the family dairy farm in the eastern part of the state. She’d rather while away the summer on friendly outings in the company of two attentive loggers, Hal and Bork. Her secret wish is that roguish Hal will ask to court her.
Instead, she’s surprised by Bork’s fervent request to act as his pretend fiancée during his parents’ upcoming week-long visit. Of course, she agrees to help out this quiet man with his dilemma. When her decision threatens the balance among the friends, Gala is torn between Hal, who has suddenly shown interest and fulfilling her promise to Bork.

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MY REVIEW:

I received this novella as part of a contest entry. I struggled with the first part of the book. The author did a lot of “telling” in narrative form. There was no action and little dialogue. But as Gala’s friendship with Hal and Bork developed and her attraction to Hal grew, the dynamics of the story picked up. A pretend engagement for the sake of Bork’s parents who were coming for a visit seemed simple enough. But nothing is ever as simple as it appears. I won’t leave a spoiler for the story but by mid-story, my attention was captured and I had to see what Gala would choose. The story has a satisfactory conclusion.

 

Rebecca Layton returns to her beachside hometown of Sunnyville, California, determined to explore the possibility of rekindling her past relationship with the love of her life, Raymond Colton. She’s devastated to discover that he has moved on and is now engaged.
Raymond Colton harbors resentment towards Rebecca for abandoning him to pursue her dreams of life in the big city. Now she’s back and more beautiful than ever. But Raymond’s heart has been broken more than once and risking more heartache with Rebecca isn’t a gamble he’s willing to take.
When Rebecca agrees to use her marketing expertise to help Raymond’s father salvage his failing family business–Colton’s Ice Creamery–she and Raymond are thrown together, and old flames are ignited. Can they heal the wounds from their past and embrace the possibility of a brighter tomorrow?

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MY REVIEW:

This is a novella I received in exchange for a fair and honest review. It was a quick, entertaining read. It is a romance set in a small town with unrequited love between two adults that began as teenagers. But there are lots of obstacles in the way that prevent them from finding the courage to revisit the flame that sparked so many years ago. There’s a lot of water under the bridge. I loved the plot. I loved the characters and this novella has a satisfying ending.

May #BookReviews Part 1 – @LBroday @lisawellsauthor @1rburkey @CalebPirtle @CW_Hawes @jamesrcallan @virgilante

I have had SUCH a great month of eclectic reading! I’m happy to share my thoughts on these books but it is going to take two posts to share them all. Please keep in mind I only share four and five star review reads.

Deacon Brannock is determined to make a name for himself and the saloon he’s worked his whole life to afford. He was prepared for life in the Wild West, but he hadn’t counted on Grace Legend…

Grace has always fought hard for what she believes in, and after her best friend is killed at the hands of her drunk and angry husband, that includes keeping alcohol out of her town. When the owner of the new saloon turns out to be a kind and considerate man, she can’t help but wonder if they could have a future together…if they weren’t on opposite sides of every issue.

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MY REVIEW:

I first met Grace Legend in book 2 of the Men of Legend Series. She was a baby, but a precocious one and soon had the calloused cowboys on the huge Lone Star Ranch wrapped around her little finger. In this book, she is all grown up and forging a life for herself. She’s ambitious and sassy. She joins a Women’s Temperance Movement and marches with other women into the notorious Hell’s Half Acre in Fort Worth, known for the danger that lurks there. However, she isn’t prepared for the handsome and kind owner she finds at the Three Deuces saloon. And when they smash his whiskey barrels, destroying his livelihood, things heat up. Deacon Brannock has gone through hell and back to establish his business and just when things are running smoothly, here come these women determined to destroy him. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Grace Legend’s father, the great Houston Legend, forces her to go to the saloon and clean up the mess she helped the women make. Then Houston replenishes Deacon’s whiskey supply. The tension been Grace and Deacon is so thick you can’t cut it with a sharp knife. It is highly unlikely that the two could ever be civil to each other, much less fall in love. This story is filled with such powerful imagery. Broday has depicted life in the rough and rowdy town of Fort Worth, Texas in the late 1880s perfectly. She uses all of the senses to bring the scenes to life. The characters are well-developed and layered, each with their own bag of secrets. If you love western romance, you are going to love this new book! I highly recommend it.

Librarian Kinley Foster wants to write erotic romance—the steamy, sexy, curl-your-toes kind of stuff. The problem? She desperately needs a little erotic inspiration. And at a romance convention in Vegas, she finds it…or rather him.

Literary agent Ian Thompson is a professional. Mentoring an aspiring author is one thing, giving her a thoroughly satisfying sexy education is quite another. Especially when she’s as stunning and deliciously curvaceous as Kinley. Yet Ian can’t help himself when Kinley makes him a wager he can’t resist. A wager that will tempt Ian to cross every professional—and every sensual—boundary in the book…

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MY REVIEW:

Steamy with a Capital S!!! This was such a fun book to read and I immediately fell in love with both characters. Kinley Foster has an older brother, so grew up around all of his friends. She’s had a major crush on his friend, Ian Thompson, since she can remember. But he rejected her and she’s never forgotten. Now she’s an aspiring author, writing steamy romance and heading to Las Vegas for a conference where she hopes to land a literary agent. To her surprise, the man she hasn’t seen in ten years who picks her up at the airport is none other than Ian Thompson. He’s every bit as handsome as she remembers. One debacle leads to another and she has to share a hotel suite with him. What a surprise to find that Ian Thompson is actually the acclaimed literary agent, I. Hartley. Kinley is in over her head after an indecent proposal from Thompson where he promises to teach her what she needs to know to write steamy romance. This is an off-the-charts steamy romance with a little light BDSM and a lot of hot sex with a series of missteps and mishaps. I won’t leave a spoiler, but I will say I enjoyed this light read. It’s a great way to escape from reality!

One photograph – A single image – A lonely boat on the edge of the sea.
Is it adrift? – Was it abandoned? – Did it wash ashore? – Was anyone aboard?
Did someone leave it behind? – Is anyone coming back? – Who knows.
The sea has washed the footprints away.
Look at the vessel and think: “If that old boat could talk, what stories it would tell.”
Wonder no longer. Twelve members of Underground Authors all gazed upon the same image.
And to each, the photograph told a different story. Same boat. Same image. Different genres. From mystery and technothriller to romance and magical realism, from horror and historical fiction to fantasy and suspense with a little paranormal thrown in for good measure. These stories are presented in Beyond The Sea and are the handiwork of award-winning authors. The stories are all different as the boat had more than one secret to tell. It had a dozen.

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MY REVIEW:

This is a compilation of short stories from twelve different authors. Each story is unique and the twelve together cover a diverse compilation of genres. There is everything from mystery to apocalyptic to historical and suspense. While I enjoyed them all, there were a few that really stood out to me, as a reader. C.W. Hawes wrote a compelling short story that I didn’t want to come to an end. His words came alive and I joined in with the characters in a hair-raising survival journey in a post-apocalyptic world. Great world-building and great writing! The Breakfield and Burkey writing duo wrote an inspiring tale about taking that proverbial leap of faith not knowing if it will end all the hopes, dreams, and goals of two ambitious young ladies. James R. Callan offers a nail-biting tale about an unexpected kidnapping and daring escape. Linda Pirtle took me on a mystery-solving journey while Kelly Marshall left me with goosebumps from her chilling tale of revenge. The theme of all of these stories is the boat you see on the cover. That is the common thread. It’s so amazing to me how any group of people can view one photo and all see a different story in it. Again, while I enjoyed each story, these are just a few that stood out to me. If you are looking for entertaining diversity, this compilation of short stories is perfect as there is something for everyone! I highly recommend this book to all readers of all genres! And as a result of this book, I will be exploring other work by these authors.

Lizzie and the hat are back in action, only this time they’re up against the most tragic monster of all, a werewolf.

This adventure is more like hunting an animal, and the werewolf is unlikely to come to any of their musical performances. This puts Lizzie out in the dark corners and wooded areas of the city. It may be more beneficial to get the monster to hunt Lizzie than to stalk him on his own turf. All she has to do is be quicker on the trigger than the wolf is on his feet.

At the same time, the police think they’re after a serial killer. Lizzie tries to keep them alive while also keeping them out of her way. As the body count rises, so do the pressures. It doesn’t help that people are blaming Lizzie and the hat for the killings. This involves an urban myth about them that the locals call Hellpox.

Pull on your boogie shoes and join the hunt. Designed as an afternoon read, this one is tons of supernatural fun.

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MY REVIEW:


This story, which is book 4 in The Hat series, is multi-layered. Lizzie St. Laurent and her magical sidekick, The Hat (a creature from another dimension) find themselves entrenched in a futile search for a killer. Not only a killer, but one who devours its victims, leaving behind only a few small body pieces and rivers of blood. This quickly earns him the nickname of “Sausage Maker” from the media. While Lizzie and The Hat normally hunt down vampires and ghouls, this one is different and The Hat tries to talk Lizzie out of pursuing it. The other plot unfolding in the story is police sergeant, Joe Yoder, who is grieving the death of his wife. He keeps a pomander drenched in her perfume (Emeraude) and smells it when he needs to feel her near or wants to communicate with her, which he does quite often. When he’s assigned to the murder cases, he’s at a loss. This doesn’t seem like anything human. Yet, what else could it be? Everyone knows werewolves and vampires don’t really exist, even if all of the killings do occur on the full moon. One of the things I’ve loved in each of The Hat books is the banter back and forth between Lizzie and The Hat. It adds a nice helping of humor to an otherwise dark story. The Hat loves surfing the internet and spending money. The Hat is also the manager for the band, Lizzie and the Pythons, where he plays the stand-up bass through Lizzie’s fingers. In this book, we get a closer look at some of the other band members. Lizzie fears one of them could be the murderer. The way this book concludes, we get to see a softer more vulnerable side of Lizzie that’s not been shown before. This is an entertaining read with fabulous world-building and engaging characters. I highly recommend this and the other books in The Hat series. Also, it’s worth noting that you do not have to read the previous books before this one. It works well as a standalone

PART 2 OF MY MAY REVIEWS COMING UP!