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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

 

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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.

Purchase Link

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.

#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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#NewRelease – Lunar Boogie – C.S. Boyack @virgilante

PURCHASE LINK

I am super excited to host C.S. Boyack on my blog today as he tells us a little more about his newest Lizzie and The Hat adventure, Lunar Boogie. You may have seen my review last week and if so, you know how much I enjoyed it!

One of the things I enjoy immensely in each of the Lizzie and The Hat books is the music. The songs Boyack chooses bring instant memories for me and it adds to the dimensional layers of the story. But, I’ll let him tell you more about it. Take it away, Mr. Boyack!

Thanks for having me over, Jan. I try to keep each tour post unique, and with your ties to music thought that might be a good topic here.

Lizzie and the Pythons are a cover band put together by Lizzie and the hat. The hat is a creature from another dimension who take the form of a hat. She wears him at all of her performances, because their symbiotic relationship allows him to play the upright bass using her hands and fingers.

Their band plays music people can party and dance to. It could be anything from rock and roll, blues, country, even a bit of glam rock on occasion.

I spend part of each evening surfing for music. When I first started, my memory was good enough for several hundred songs on a playlist I made. After that, I filtered them down into a specific playlist for this series. I wind up listening to that during my commutes and it inspires me.

These days, I discover a lot of obscure music that would work, but leaves me with an executive decision. Writing the books is a bit of a tightrope. Obscure songs are just as much fun, but might not relate to as many readers. Would any of you recognize the opening chords of “You Need Love,” by JD Simo? I doubt it, but you’re missing out. Hard to add that to a book and have it come across.

A title everyone recognizes will help set the mood for a scene at one of their gigs. It’s a party environment, fun, etc. It’s a nice contrast to killing monsters under the full moon. I have to be careful, though. Music is protected by Copyright. I can freely use titles, but not lyrics without purchasing a license. (Did that once, and it’s not worth it.) It gets a bit tricky, but I’ve been able to weave the titles into dialog and that seems to work.

The other trick came from selling the band. I did this in an earlier book, but won’t do it for every one as that would get boring. They have a five piece; bass, drums, guitar, piano, and saxophone. The saxophone player has a baritone and a tenor, and also plays harmonica.

You can see how some kick-ass music just won’t fit this band. Electric Light Orchestra or Styx were great, but the available instruments might not work. I did this by explaining that solos can be handled by other instruments, organs can be somewhat covered by a harmonica, background violins can be covered by soft saxophone, but it will sound a little different. A banjo might be covered by a guitar, etc. Otherwise, I’d have to give them a twenty-five piece band and most gigs wouldn’t pay enough to feed everyone. Many of them would be waiting around for the one song they’re needed on.

A smaller group allows for more intimacy as well. With an ongoing series, I need that. They feel more like a family, and I avoid character soup.

There is a lot more to these stories than playing with the band. The symbiotic relationship between Lizzie and the hat allows them to fight monsters. He has several special skills, but no appendages to do much with. She has free will along with the needed limbs. Together, they can accomplish great things. I’ll let the cover and blurb tell you about this specific book.

Here’s an example of what some of their music might sound like. Get ready to ROCK!

Blurb:

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.

http://mybook.to/LunarBoogie

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Rise of Gadreel – #NewRelease @VashtiQV @RRBC_Org

I am happy to share a new book release from fellow RRBC author, Vashti Quiroz-Vega!

Hi, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. I’m grateful to be a guest on Jan’s fabulous blog.

Which type of heroes do you like best in stories?

I prefer heroes who have flaws. Someone who is genuinely good but who has made mistakes, who has faced challenges and doubts, and who is sometimes vulnerable . . . a person who perhaps starts off ordinary, and as the story unfolds, becomes more apparent. I enjoy reading about heroes who are intelligent, selfless, kind, and courageous. They feel the fear and do what needs to be done anyway. I find the classic hero, who is perfect in every way and completely fearless, kind of boring. Gadreel is the type of hero I enjoy reading about.

Excerpt:

Sabina dismounted her horse and treaded up to the gate. She placed a hand on the stone wall and lurched back. “A witch cast a binding spell on this town.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“A magical binding is a hex that restrains people, preventing them from doing something.” Sabina placed both palms against the gate and closed her eyes briefly. “An effective sorcerer did not want the people of this town to leave.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.”

I rode past the gate into Warwick, and the others followed me.

We climbed off our mounts. I kissed my horse on its neck and told him to lead the others to water. They galloped away, and we ambled on. Every surface, every blade of grass and twig, grew long ice crystals. In the distance a low clinging fog concealed the homes at the top of the road. 

We continued toward the east of town and ran across a monastery. Blackened and charred walls crumbled under the weight of ashes. The ruins were still smoking, even in this frigid weather. We maneuvered the creaking threshold and came across the charred remains of several monks. One of them lay curled knee-to-nose, while another gripped his pectoral cross with both hands. Glass littered the floor where the windows had broken, and oil lamps lay blackened and twisted on the ground amid the corpses.

“Almost nothing escaped the bloody fire,” Golem said.

Dracúl banged his fist against a wall, almost knocking it down, and stormed out of the monastery. I followed him, and the others trailed behind.

“There’s a castle on the hill,” I said. “Let’s go there. Perhaps there’s someone who can tell us what happened here.”

Dracúl stared ahead, blood tears pooling in his eyes, and we moved on. 

More rotting bodies lay strewn on the streets as we made our way to the castle. Most had missing parts. Many of the corpses’ middles had a strange bowl-shaped appearance. Upon closer inspection, we realized that their organs had been removed. Their chests and abdomens caved in because they were hollow. 

“Why?” Golem whispered. 

There should have been a foul stench in the air, but the cold, dry winds somehow inhibited the release of the disgusting stink coming off the dead bodies. 

We knocked on doors and searched inside the dwellings. We passed the charred remains of a house. Upon investigation, we learned that the only edifices burned down were those that stored food and sheltered livestock, but this particular house was a regular family home. Why was it burned? Only its skeleton stood under the vibrant wintry sun. Sabina rushed inside, and before long, a scream pierced the air. We hurried in to find Sabina motionless with her hands covering her mouth. I steeled myself, went to her, and gasped at the gruesome scene. 

I hope the excerpt intrigued you. Please let me know in the comments below. Thanks again for the visit.

New Book Release – Mrs. Molony @virgilante

I am super excited to turn my blog over to C.S. Boyack’s personal assistant and robot girl, Lisa Burton, today and let her tell you about his brand new release – another Lizzie and The Hat adventure!

Oh my gosh, Jan. It’s so nice to be here. This is a place I always wanted to visit, and promo for this book is perfect. This is the third book in The Hat Series, and this time it involves the country music scene.

Lizzie and the hat are on the trail of two vampires. They’ve kidnapped this poor woman and are feeding off her like some kind of milk cow. Before joining the ranks of the undead, they were team ropers. Turns out old habits die hard.

The rodeo circuit, and country folks in general, aren’t immune to a good party. This provides a fertile hunting ground for these particular vampires. At a party, some country girl is always going to get a little too drunk, and wind up becoming one of their victims. If hunting is slow, they always have the woman at home.

Since Lizzie and the hat have a small cover band, it gives them access to various events where they do a little hunting themselves. This is no simple feat, because the rodeo circuit moves around. Vamps have to hole-up during the day, so they can’t realistically move too far.

The hat had to do a little research, and increase the playlist for Lizzie and The Pythons. Being a younger person, Lizzie wasn’t overly fond of country music and this leads to a bit of tension between them.

Fortunately, I set her up with some expanded wardrobe that allowed her to fit in as a country performer. This all happened somewhat casually in Viral Blues, which I played a part in.

I should tell you that Craig worked pretty hard to make sure people don’t have to read this series in order. There are little things that cross over, like the wardrobe stuff, but you really can go out of order without confusion.

I know you’re involved in the music business, so this should be a good topic for you. For each of his books, Craig sends me to spend time with Sean Harrington to create some promotional artwork. I know the stories and try to recreate scenes from the book. This one is a concert image from one of the musical appearances.

Your fans are welcome to use it as iPad screens, phone backgrounds, or whatever they like.

Now I’d better get to the links and such before Craig gets upset.

Blurb: Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exists? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.

Purchase your copy here: The Ballad of Mrs. Molony

Other stories in the series are:


The Hat
Viral Blues

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

BlogMy NovelsTwitterGoodreads | FacebookPinterestBookBub

Liars and Thieves – Book Launch @dwallacepeach

I am pleased to bring you a new book release from author, D. Wallace Peach! I’ll let her tell you about it!

Behind the Veil, the hordes gather, eager to savage the world. But Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, is untroubled by the shimmering wall that holds his beasts at bay. For if he cannot cleanse the land of life, the races will do it for him. All he needs is a spark to light the fire.

Three unlikely allies stand in his way.

A misfit elf plagued by failure—

When Elanalue Windthorn abandons her soldiers to hunt a goblin, she strays into forbidden territory.

A changeling who betrays his home—

Talin Raska is a talented liar, thief, and spy. He makes a fatal mistake—he falls for his mark.

A halfbreed goblin with deadly secrets—

Naj’ar is a loner with a talent he doesn’t understand and cannot control, one that threatens all he holds dear.

When the spark of Chaos ignites, miners go missing. But they won’t be the last to vanish. As the cycles of blame whirl through the Borderland, old animosities flare, accusations break bonds, and war looms.

Three outcasts, thrust into an alliance by fate, by oaths, and the churning gears of calamity, must learn the truth. For they hold the future of their world in their hands.

Liars and Thieves Global Purchase Linkhttp://a-fwd.com/asin=B08FGQ2W3Q

About the Author:

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rain forest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Author Links:

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982

Twitter: @dwallacepeach

Diana is also a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

New Release! HMS Lanternfish – C.S. Boyack @virgilante

I am super excited to share a new release with you from C.S. Boyack. In fact, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the second book in the Lanternfish Series because I loved book 1 SO much!

At any rate, I’m turning my blog over to Craig so he can tell you about his new book! By the way, don’t you just love this cover? I do!

Hi, Jan. Thanks for having me back here to talk about my newest book. This is my first attempt at a classic trilogy, and we’re dealing with book two here. It’s called HMS Lanternfish.

In the original book, Voyage of the Lanternfish, James started off making plans for the future with the woman he loves. The ruling power of his country mistook him for his father who was a notorious undercover operative. They kidnapped his lady friend and forced him to start a war if he wanted to save her.

Plans didn’t work out the way the rulers expected. James was a merchant sailor, so he commandeered a ship and took to piracy against his home country. That’s a nutshell version of the first book, but there’s a lot more to it.

HMS Lanternfish opens with their home continent at war from coast to coast. Odds are slim and chances are few, but Lanternfish is still one of the largest warships on the sea. Using a semi-official charter as a royal privateer, James and crew take Lanternfish to war.

Nothing is ever that simple, and they get blown off course. Since this is a fantasy tale, it allowed me to explore some exotic lands and that was part of the charm of the original tale. With war a long ways off, Lanternfish takes to actually being a privateer. They have two goals, acquire goods that might help with the war effort, and discover the secrets of the Fulminites, a religious order that seems to be made up of suicide bombers controlling the land battles in favor of their enemies. Of course, they have to make it back in time to make a difference.

HMS Lanternfish is filled with fantasy creatures, exotic lands and peoples, and a bit of humor fans of the first book enjoyed.

I’m running a special right now. HMS Lanternfish is temporarily priced at 99¢ in an attempt to get it off to a good start. From August 10 through August 14th, Voyage of the Lanternfish will be free. I’ll drop a cover and blurb if you’d like to join this crew.

***

Blurb: The Lanternfish crew completed their original mission, but got exposed to a more global problem. An entire continent is at war, headed up by a head-strong young king with dreams of power, and pushed from behind by a mysterious religious order known as the Fulminites.

Rather than let their country fall under the iron boot of conquest, James and his crew set sail once more to see what kind of muscle Lanternfish can lend to the war effort. Acting precariously under an unofficial charter as a privateer, even his allies aren’t always his friends.

HMS Lanternfish explores new worlds on its way to war, and drifts considerably off course. It features an international crew of characters, and for fans of the first book, the root monsters are back, too. Tall ships, a few con games, martial arts, and everything you loved about the original book is all returning.

Hoist the colors and wheel out the guns. Lanternfish is taking to the high seas once more.

HMS Lanternfish: 99¢ for a limited time.

Voyage of the Lanternfish: Free until Friday.

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

BlogMy NovelsTwitterGoodreads | FacebookPinterestBookBub