Knuckleheads #NewRelease @DAntion

If you have followed Dan Antion on his fabulous blog, then you are already acquainted with this man. But now, he’s releasing his debut novel, Knuckleheads, and I am thrilled to host him here today on his Book Blog Tour!

Thank you so much, Jan, for inviting me to share your blog space and introduce my debut novel Knuckleheads, Book 1 in the Dreamer’s Alliance Series.

Knuckleheads is the childhood story of the two main characters in this paranormal series. The story is being told by the recently retired Zach Amstead to his adult daughter, Abbie, the day after his retirement party.

Jan, you’ve asked me to talk a little about Zach’s wife, since this is the only book in which she is featured, albeit as a child. Zach explains early in the book, that his wife, Veronica, has been gone for about 15 years. The only things we learn about Ronnie (Veronica’s nickname) are shared in retrospect during the conversation.  

Perhaps an excerpt will help. This is from a classroom scene Zach is describing. Abbie interrupts periodically. In the book, Abbie’s interruptions are set off in a paragraph style that is hard to replicate in WordPress. To help with that, I’ve highlighted them in blue for this post.

“Mrs. Coleman handed those of us in the first row a stack of worksheets. We knew to take one and pass the rest back. I couldn’t resist sniffing the remnants of the ditto-machine fluid as I handed them to the girl behind me, Veronica Bailey. Ronnie giggled and sniffed the papers, too.” Then Mrs. Coleman said, ‘Miss Bailey, please don’t encourage Mr. Amstead.'”

Abbie gave me a wide-eyed look. “Mom got in trouble?”

“Your mom was a bit of a tomboy. She didn’t mind getting yelled at, a little. She never did anything that was bad enough to get punished for, but she liked to laugh, so she looked for the things in life that were funny.”


Ronnie and Zach are friends throughout the book. They were in separate schools for a while and then reunite in high school, toward the end of the book. Once they were back in the same school, they became closer, but not boyfriend/girlfriend. In the excerpt below, Zach’s friend, Billy, is giving Zach a ride home and letting him drive, as practice for his upcoming driver’s test. Ronnie asks for a ride to her house.

I let Ronnie sit in the front so she could give Billy directions. When we reached her house, I got out, so I could switch to the front. Billy was getting out to let me drive.

Ronnie leaned over to me and whispered, “Something else is bothering Billy.”

I knew that as well, but I smiled and whispered that I’d try to find out.

Billy yelled over, “If you two want to kiss goodbye, I promise I won’t look.” I looked at Ronnie, but she laughed and turned away. “Maybe some other time, Zach.”

While not boyfriend and girlfriend during the story, the affection seems to be building and Zach certainly had an interest. In this last excerpt, that fact is noticed by Abbie.

Ronnie walked away. I followed her. She thanked me for what I said but mentioned that it was never a good idea to embarrass Ron. I started to explain, but she stopped me and said, “I know, you can’t help yourself. You can’t let these things go, even though you know you can’t change his mind. That’s what I love about you, Zach.”

Abbie smiled softly, then started laughing. “Lemmie guess, you were all excited at the thought that mom loved you.”

I grinned. “Well, yeah, a little.”

I hope these excerpts give a little insight into the character of Veronica Bailey and how much she meant to Zach and Abbie.

Thanks again, Jan, for the chance to share a little from my book. I hope your followers enjoy it.

PURCHASE LINK

BOOK BLURB:

Zach and Billy didn’t ask for the paranormal powers that were beyond their capacity to understand or control. Zach, interacting with his lucid dreams, and Billy, “gifted “with shadowy glimpses of the future struggle to make sense of the world around them. Adults in authority in the nineteen sixties have no time for what they consider mental outliers of the baby-boom.   The boys are institutionalized, marginalized, and ignored.  Zach’s father learns of the challenges they face as children and knows the dangers they will face as adults. With no way to comprehend how these boys perceive and move within their world, he must find a way to guide them. 

Knuckleheads Kindle Edition

Knuckleheads Paperback

About The Author:

Dan Antion was born outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up and attended college in
the area around western Pennsylvania. Dan has written and published the popular No Facilities
blog since 2011. A lifelong interest in writing became a reality after he retired from a successful
A 42-year-long career in information management.
Knuckleheads, published in June 2022, is the first book in the Dreamer’s Alliance Series. This
story introduces the main characters in this series, in which the next two books will follow in
the late summer and early winter of 2022.
Dan lives in Connecticut with his wife, a few pets, and all the wildlife they can feed.

Author, Dan Antion

Dan’s Author Page on Amazon

The Dreamer’s Alliance Series Blurb:

The Dreamer’s Alliance series chronicles the challenges and dangers faced by two men who have been gifted with paranormal abilities. From their struggles to understand and control these powers through their battle with the attempts of corrupt authorities to exploit them.

A Voice In the Silence – #NewRelease @dlfinnauthor

I am super happy to bring you a brand new book release from my longtime friend and fellow Story Empire contributor, D.L. Finn! Not only is she a poet extraordinaire, but a fabulous children’s story and novel author.

I will be sharing my review of this wonderful story a little later this month. But for now, I’ll turn it over to D.L. and let her tell you about her newest book release.

Thank you, Jan, for having me on your beautiful blog to celebrate the release of A Voice in the Silence.

Do you believe in ghosts? The possibility that there are some souls who just haven’t moved on because they have some unfinished business, or perhaps they just want to hang around and make sure everyone is okay?

Unfortunately, most of us can’t sit down and talk with these lingering spirits, but they do have ways to let us know they are here with us. They might move stuff around, a song that had meaning to you comes on, or you feel the spirit there next to you. There is that unmistakable cold spot they bring with them, and visitations in dreams. The most important message that often comes through is they want you to know they are there with you and they love you.

Then there are those who are gifted, like mediums. They can pass a vague message along to you from the other side. But what if you could directly communicate with your loved one? Would it be a normal conversation like you used to have with them, or would it be something different since they have changed? This communication ends up much like traveling to a different country where they speak a language you are unfamiliar with. The other side seems to have a language of its own.

So getting a message from the spiritual realm might take a bit of translating. Or at least that’s what Drea is about to learn from some very unlikely translators in A Voice in the Silence.

Fun Finn Facts

  1. After sitting at the desk writing, I need to exercise by walking in the forest or doing my stretches.
  2. Our dog Sara, and either my kitties Rupert or Zuzu, are my computer companions.
PURCHASE LINK

Blurb

Drea Burr has experienced more than her share of loss when a stray dog, cat, and rat enter her life. Although the animals start to mend her broken heart, there is something very unusual about them. During a snowstorm, Drea discovers a chilling set of footprints leading to her front window. Both the police and a ghostly messenger warn her about a killer stalking widows. Help comes from her late husband’s best friend, Adam Hale. As the two try to discover answers, more questions arise— about a killer, ghosts, and animals experimented on in a lab.

Can Drea and Adam survive the threats coming from so many directions and save themselves and the animals they’ve grown to love? Or will more tragedy destroy her second chance at happiness? Find out in this thrilling, cozy paranormal adventure.

Excerpt

The fading day’s dull orange glow filled the void in Drea’s attention usually occupied by the TV and computer. The landscape held no movement, not even the expected high winds that had caused her power to be shut off to prevent forest fires. A surge shot through her body in the same uncomfortable fashion that the flu had done last week. But it wasn’t a virus relapse—it was a warning that someone, or something, was watching her. 

Perhaps it was a wild animal. A deer, or even . . . “Rob, is that you?” She held her breath, waiting for a sign. Finally, she blew out the empty hope when she couldn’t keep it in anymore. Two years of this had worn her down.

The cold gun on her lap offered no protection against the dark thoughts that took her to a place that was getting harder to climb out of. She pulled her sweater tightly around her and scrutinized the tree-lined driveway that led to the curvy country road. She shifted her weight in the yellow-and-white lounge chair and studied the weapon in her hand.

“You understand, don’t you?”

The .45 pistol her husband had bought her for protection ten years ago had become her confidant when she tired of talking to ghosts. Today, though, it carried the heavy weight of her existence.

“It’s too much. Just too much loss. I’m so alone, and to top it off, Robbie’s so far away.” Her throat tightened. She sipped some water and took a deep breath. “I must disappoint you, even thinking about using this gun on myself, Rob. It would devastate Robbie if I—”

Drea’s shoulders slumped, and her head followed when her glance caught a prominent headline in the morning paper she had retrieved from the end of the driveway. An unidentified woman’s body had been found, and a killer was on the loose. She used the gun to cover the fearful headline, even though her chances of being murdered by a serial killer were slim to none.

She shook her head. What she needed to focus on was her relationship with her son. They used to be so close, before he met that woman. Now he barely called his mother to check on her after his father died or when her beloved pets passed. This morning had brought an unwelcome text from him.

Tammy isn’t feeling well. It wouldn’t be a good time to visit right now. Sorry, Mom. I’ll talk to you soon. Love you.

“I hope he wakes up someday, Rob. That woman is toxic. Of course, you saw through her the first time you met her. I should have listened to you. Do you hear that, Rob? It’s me admitting I’m wrong, which we both know hardly ever happens.”

Amazon Purchase Link US
Amazon Purchase Link UK

Author, D.L. Finn

Author Bio

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

D.L. Finn blog

Author Amazon Page

#NewRelease – From Brick and Darkness by @JLS_author @wildrosepress

I am thrilled to introduce a new author to you today. J.L Sullivan is a fellow Wild Rose Press Author, and this is his debut novel. I’ll let him tell you about it.

Welcome, J.L.!

PURCHASE LINK

Thank you for the warm welcome, Jan!

I love cities. The bigger, the better. A city creates adventure around every corner. I’ve traveled to New York City several times and never experienced the same trip twice. For my wife’s birthday, we took a train to Chicago for a long weekend. We did all the tourist requirements, but the best part was when we accidentally stumbled into a tiki bar we found around the back of a building that served insanely indulgent—and often aflame—cocktails. That “accident” became the most memorable part of the trip.

So when I wrote From Brick & Darkness, it was important to me to set it in the right city, with all of the excitement—and uncertainty—that accompanies an urban setting. Where else could you find a hundred-year-old apartment building with an abandoned cellar down the street from a comic book store owned by an eccentric storyteller?

I’ve lived most of my adult life in St. Louis, and have always appreciated its nooks and crannies. It has vibrant neighborhoods clustered beneath luxury high rises that sit next to abandoned buildings. The juxtaposition was the perfect setting for a dark novel about djinn.

And like my protagonist Bax, St. Louis has more to offer than it appears, has made some questionable decisions, and in the end, will need to rely on friends to surmount some of its greatest challenges. Telling Bax’s story in my hometown made perfect sense.

I hope you enjoy going on Bax’s journey in St. Louis as he learns you may not always want what you wish for.

Courtesy Wild Rose Press

BOOK BLURB:

Bax always fantasized something remarkable would happen in his life. So when a decrepit man with glowing purple eyes offers him a ring intended for his estranged father, Bax accepts.

The ring speaks to Bax in a dream, tempting him with a vision of a powerful djinn. Desperate to make his fantasies a reality, Bax unleashes a creature called Ifrit, but soon learns this djinn isn’t what the ring led him to believe. Feeding off the depths of his subconscious, the sinister demon fulfills what he thinks Bax wants by manipulating, threatening, and murdering. With everyone he loves in danger and a trail of crimes pointing back at him, Bax must scramble to solve the puzzle that will banish Ifrit forever.

EXCERPT:

Neck bones popped as his head rotated toward me, his face eclipsing the rays of the streetlight. His irises were dull purple, glazed over with a foggy film, and deep-set wrinkles radiated from the corners of his eyes like arrows drawing attention to them.

A shudder caused the keys to slip from my hand and clank on the ground. My face burned with shame that the poor man’s appearance had startled me. My rudeness would have disappointed Mom.

“I’m sorry, but really—” I snagged my keys.

His hand slithered out of the brick-colored sleeve as his arm rose, trembling as he strained to hold the weight of his own limb. Gloved in loose, veiny skin, his skeleton hand had yellowed fingernails so overgrown they grew in on themselves like curly birthday ribbons. As his fingers unfurled, he revealed a ring nestled in his palm.

It was large. Too large. The ring resembled the toy jewelry Jason’s sister played with or something from a Halloween costume. Grimy gold with a single dull purplish jewel that matched his eyes.

His hand trembled under the heaviness of the ring. “Take it.”

Shifting my backpack to my other shoulder, I took it. “What is this?”

The corners of his thin lips curled into a grin as a gust of warm, dry wind cut through the chilly October night and swirled around me.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Brick-Darkness-J-L-Sullivan-ebook/dp/B09THQ24TC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2QI1IHMS3OVJV&keywords=from+brick+and+darkness+sullivan&qid=1646400481&sprefix=from+brick+and+darkness%2Caps%2C81&sr=8-1

BN.com: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/from-brick-darkness-j-l-sullivan/1141068076?ean=9781509240081

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60508978

Bookbub:https://www.bookbub.com/books/from-brick-darkness-by-j-l-sullivan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J. L. Sullivan writes young adult stories inspired by gritty urban environments and the tales that percolate within abandoned buildings and desolate alleys. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Princess Penelope Picklesworth.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Website: www.jlsullivan.net

Twitter: @jls_author

Instagram: @JLS_author

Facebook: @jlsullivanauthor

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

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

Courtesy Pixabay

PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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!

Created in Canva
PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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.

Created in Canva
PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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!

Wreck of the Lanternfish – #NewRelease from C.S. Boyack! @virgilante

I am SO excited to share my blog space with C.S. Boyack today! He has a brand new release, the final book in the epic high-seas fantasy trilogy. I have read both the Voyage of The Lanternfish and the HMS Lanternfish and highly recommend them! I am currently knee-deep into the Wreck of The Lanternfish and again, highly recommend this entire series! I also recommend you start with book 1, then devour the entire series! Think of it as binge-watching a riveting Netflix series. 🙂 Seriously, these three books would make a fabulous Netflix series. Maybe someday!

PURCHASE LINK

Thank you for letting me borrow your space today, Jan. I have a new book out called Wreck of the Lanternfish. This is the concluding volume of the Lanternfish Trilogy. Unlike my other series, this one almost has to be read in order.

Today, I want to talk about one of the more popular characters in the books. Serang has evolved into a co-main character. She was raised in a monastery system by monks who taught her to read and write, and also fight like a Kung Fu master.

She found herself in charge of a disgraced army of warriors from the country of Giapon. In the last volume, they were inserted into the war between Hollish and Prelonia with the sole mission of finding the mysterious Fulminites and destroying them if possible.

The Fulminites are no pushovers, their members make up the Black Assassins as well as the exploding monks. They are the real power behind the Hollish throne and the driving force behind the war.

Serang’s warriors are mistrusted by both sides, including the one they’re supporting. They’re so different than anything this continent has seen. From their Eastern features and dress, to their way of fighting and warfare. This part of the world has never seen anything like them.

To fulfill her captain’s orders, Serang will have to cross the wilderness and avoid anyone who might mistrust or betray them. She’s also going to have to face the ghosts of her own past, of the purging of the temple system that made her an outlaw in the first place.

Perform your morning meditations and stretches. Sharpen up your guandao, and join Serang as she hunts the Fulminites in ‘Wreck of the Lanternfish.’

Wreck of the Lanternfish purchase link

Trilogy link

PURCHASE LINK

Blurb:

James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious pirate Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.

A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.

He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war, if he’s not already too late.

James will have to merge the skills of commander and con man into something new to make this work. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.

Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercenary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by both sides of the war, she appears as a third combatant on the battlefield. She may eliminate the mysterious order, only to succumb to the demons of her own tragic past.

Strap on your swords and hoist the colors one more time as the thrilling Lanternfish Trilogy comes to an end.

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#NewRelease – Things Old and Forgotten @maeclair1 #ShortStories

I became a fan of Mae Clair’s writing with the first book I read. She is not only a talented storyteller but a friend and fellow blogger at Story Empire. I am super thrilled that she has released this new collection of short stories! I’ll let her tell you about it!

And because I am letting Mae Clair have my blog today, there will not be a Wednesday Wonder until next week. 🙂

Hi, Jan. Thanks for hosting me today and allowing me to share my newest release with your readers. Things Old and Forgotten is a collection of short fiction that includes stories in several genres—magical realism, fantasy, speculative, even two that touch on mild horror.

When I was in tenth grade, my English teacher gave me his Lord of the Rings book collection to read, and an entire new realm unfolded before my eyes. Prior to that I’d been reading mostly science-fiction, but the discovery of epic fantasy was unlike anything I’d encountered before. I was hooked and spent the next decade devouring books of wizardry, magical artifacts, and enchanted realms. To this day, I still love a good epic fantasy or sword-and-sorcery novel. When it came time to put together my collection of stories for Things Old and Forgotten, I couldn’t resist including a few fantasy tales. Below is the opening from Kin-Slayer, one of the fantasy tales included in my collection.

I will permit the ghosts their share.

****

I remember the ocean, glittering with a thousand faceted eyes, sunlight bright as diamonds on the surface. The scent of salt heavy in the air as it twined with the black smoke of cooking fires and the reek of fish left to dry beneath the sun. My home was nestled in a simple village. Small and secluded, Ceadon squatted on a bluff overlooking the water, her nexus a ragged sphere of thatch-roofed hovels.

She was a giddy perch, erected high on a pinnacle of wind-blasted rock. As children, E’ana and I often sat on the edge, watching the tide roll from shore as it carried our father and the other fishermen from sight. In the evening, we would meet them on the beach, anxious to ogle the day’s catch—seaweed-draped pots brimming with lobster and crab, nets so heavy they hugged the sand as the men unloaded a bounty of bluefish and tuna.

It was a modest life, fitting and welcome in those idyllic days of childhood. But childhood, like all things, fades with the passing of time.

At fifteen, E’ana was chosen as a First Daughter, one of the select betrothed to the Leviathan. Though I found the prospect disquieting, E’ana trembled with excitement. She slept little that night, tossing and turning.

I could stand her restlessness no longer. “You’ll make a fine bride, E’ana.”

She twisted in her bed to face me. “I wondered if you were awake.” Her voice sounded watery, as though she’d been crying. A black nebula of hair tumbled over her shoulders. “What if he doesn’t choose me? Atalayah, it would destroy Father if I were passed over! He was so proud of me today.”

Beyond the walls of the hut, wind played over the dunes, conjuring sand into fleeting demons. Wind can sound like water when it chooses—merciless, powerful. It made me think of dried fish heads twined with kelp and hung from doorways as protection against gales. Of the Elders huddled in their shacks. They feared the wind almost as much as the denizens of the deep, but there was no sky god to placate and bribe with virgin flesh as they did with the sea.

“It isn’t a failure to be passed over, E’ana. Many of the First Daughters have lasted as long as three seasons. The matrons speak of a few who survived all five and were permitted to marry.”

“What men would have them?”

My anger flared. “Better to wed flesh than die in the sea!”

“Atalayah!”    

“I’m sorry. That was jealousy speaking.”

The lie appeared to pacify her.

“And what have you to be jealous of, sister? You may never be a First Daughter, but you are a First Sword. One would be hard-pressed to name the greater honor.”

“As you say.” I had no further words, knowing they would fall on deaf ears. In time, I heard the evenness of her breathing, signaling sleep. Inwardly, I seethed. Didn’t she realize the luxuries of a First Daughter—the finest fish of the day’s catch, the best seat at village festivals, even the perfumed silks imported from the south—were simply bribes to soften the blow? The Elders told her she was destined for immortality, but she was an offering, nothing more. The Leviathan might protect us from sea dragons and merrows, but its cost of tribute was too high.

The sky had grayed with dawn before I found the peace to sleep.


BOOK BLURB:

A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.


Thanks again for hosting me, Jan. In honor of my love for autumn—a fantastic time to curl up with a book—Things Old and Forgotten will be on sale for .99c through October 31st.

PURCHASE LINKS:

US
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HP4Q6QC/r 

UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HP4Q6QC/ 

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

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

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

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

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

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

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:


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

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

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:


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

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

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

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

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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! 

PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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.