Jan’s Top Ten Books from 2021 @CaroFrostWrites @bsmithnovelist @97_taylormoore @m_morganauthor @DWallacePeach @OverbeckRandy @colleenhoover @maeclair1 @joanhallwrites @michaelsvoice_2 @McConaughey

Choosing a Top Ten list was harder this year than ever before. I read 91 books in 2021, and believe me, choosing just ten took a while. The books listed here affected my life and they linger still. I hope you see something new that piques your interest!

The purchase links are on the images if you see one you want to grab.

And before I close out the year, I want to pay tribute to an author who passed away in 2021. Suzanne Burke was bold in her writing and delved deep into the psyche of twisted characters. But the book that changed me forever, was her memoir, EMPTY CHAIRS. The horrific abuse she suffered would destroy a lesser person, but not Sooz. She was a warrior.

May she rest in peace.

Photo from daughter, Amanda Jesson

Mountain Laurel Christmas On Tour – Day 9! #ShortStory #Christmas #FamilyDrama #Music

Climb in the wagon with me. We’re off to another stop on this short tour!

Today, I am so honored to be featured on Mae Clair‘s beautiful blog site!

I can’t exactly remember when I first became acquainted with Mae, but distinctly remember the first book I read of hers. The book was “A Thousand Yesteryears,” and is book one in the Point Pleasant series. Mae portrayed the mythical creature in this book, The Mothman, in such a way that I felt empathy for him. That book made me a fan of Mae’s and I have read almost everything she’s ever written. She is a master at writing mythology and legend into her stories along with a touch of romance. And when I read her Hode’s Hill Series with dual timelines, I was astounded. Her talent is unquestionably amazing.

Her latest release is Things Old and Forgotten. This book is made up of an eclectic group of short stories and is a great way to introduce yourself to this author if you haven’t already met her.

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!


She has an extensive catalog, which you can see HERE.

I highly suggest you pick up one of Mae’s books, then head on over to her blog where we are talking about my newest release, Mountain Laurel Christmas!

Leave a comment, share, and enter to win my Blog Tour Giveaway!

Mae Clair’s Blog Stop

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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.
PURCHASE LINK

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!
PURCHASE LINK

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!
PURCHASE LINK

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!
PURCHASE LINK

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!
PURCHASE LINK

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
PURCHASE LINK

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!
PURCHASE LINK

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:

Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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!

PURCHASE LINK

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.

PURCHASE LINK

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.

JAN’S 2020 TOP TEN LIST

Every year, I face the difficult task of choosing only ten books from the many I’ve read to go on this list. I think this year was the hardest so far, as I read so many great books. But, here we go. I’ve included purchase links in case one grabs your attention.

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In Search of McDoogal

Stardust

Perfectly Imperfect

Unwelcomed

No Pedigree

Treacherous Love

Some Recent #Reviews – @maeclair1 @pursoot @teagangeneviene @spolakoffauthor @maurabeth2014

It has been a while since I took the time to post some reviews for books I’ve read recently, so here we go!

If you want to hop over and purchase a copy of any of these books, simply click on the titles.

From the super talented author, Mae Clair – “In Search Of McDoogal.”

Quirky and Entertaining!

This short read from Mae Clair is funny and filled with quirky characters. When Brady mistakenly sells his girlfriend’s painting, her talisman, her treasure, (or so he is led to believe) he will move heaven and earth to get it back. He grabs his best friend, Declan, and the two set out to retrieve the painting before the girlfriend returns from out of town. The search almost reads like a “who’s on first” scenario, as they met dead-end after dead-end in a small town four hours away. The characters come to life and jump off the pages, from the love-struck Brady to the star-struck Dorie and a confused sheriff. I loved everything about this story. It is well-written, a quick easy read, and will make you laugh out loud! But my favorite part of Brady’s quest was his own discovery of how much he’d come to care for (no fall in love with) Vanessa. While the quest was to retrieve the dreadful painting, it accomplished so much more. If you’re looking for a lighthearted escape from life, this is a perfect choice! It is well-written and shows the diverse talent of this author! I highly recommend it!

From Author, S. Burke, “The Reckoning Squad.”

Full of Action!

This story gripped me and drew me in from the first sentence on the first page. Unimaginable tragedy strikes a young girl, Chastity, crippling her mentally for a long time. When she has to shoot and kill another classmate to save lives, she struggles to recover. Her desire to see justice served to those who deserve it send her on a path of becoming an FBI Agent once she graduates college. But, the unexpected offer to join an elite team appeals to her even more.
As the story unfolds, we see her bond strongly with her teammates as they face arduous training, with only a handful completing the training. But the bond cements itself as they begin to work cases and bring about justice in whatever way it takes.

When they’re assigned to an extremely high profile case and there is a breach, causing great loss of lives, things move into overdrive for Chaz (the name she shortened Chastity to after the school shooting) and other team members. The intricate web of deceit, murder, and high finance proves to be a challenge beyond anything they’ve imagined. These characters come to life at the hand of this talented author. I particularly loved the characters, Chaz and Zach, and the romantic tension between them. This story has everything any reader could want. It is a definite page-turner. I couldn’t wait to see the outcome. If you are a fan of fast-paced, deep stories, you’ll love this one! This story deserves to be made into a movie and I hope Ms. Burke has more in store for the characters going forward.

Suzanne Burke is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

From author Teagan Geneviene, “Brother Love – a Crossroad.”

An Imaginative Tale At a Crossroads!

This author serialized this story on her blog before publishing it, and I enjoyed following along then. But reading the story from start to finish was an entirely different experience. There are several things I love about this story. A girl who is ostracized because she happens to live in a house that sits at the crossroads and believed to be evil. A magpie, Jinx who can talk and sing is another aspect of the story I loved, But the tent revival setting and shenanigans that occurred captured me the most. This author took word prompts from her blog followers to include in each chapter of the story and that is such a unique idea. She also included some fun facts or educational information at the end of each chapter. This story is well-written. The only criticism I have for it is the way it ended abruptly. I would like to have had a more satisfying conclusion. Great story with an imagination that knows no bounds!

Teagan Geneviene is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

From Maura Beth Brennan, “Stardust.”

So Many Different Levels of Goodness!

I thoroughly enjoyed this short story. Maeve is a retired librarian and the children in the small town adore her. As a ritual, each year at Halloween, when the trick-or-treating is over, many children along with their parents gather in Maeve’s living room for stories and refreshments. Maeve is beloved by everyone despite her eccentricities such as riding her bicycle all over town. But, when she ventures out of her safety zone to visit a new supermarket, tragedy strikes in the most horrific way. Maeve is mugged by a group of thugs and would have met her death without the intervention of a young boy, Eddie. The two become best of friends as she helps him with his school lessons. That is until his older brother finds out, and makes threats he is known to carry out. Maeve is drawn to a chest left to her by her great-grandmother, where inside, she finds a shawl that she remembers being told was woven from stardust. That starts a series of magical events. I will not leave a spoiler for this story, but will say it is very well written and compelling with many different levels and layers of goodness! I highly recommend it.

Maura Beth Brennan is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

From author, Sam Polakoff – “Shaman.”

A Reincarnation Journey!

Dan Alston has spent a lifetime building a reputation – that of the last clean politician. He’s now serving in the U.S. Senate and represents his constituents with honesty and integrity. But things are not all rosy for the Senator. As his life starts to unravel, more and more strange occurrences – visions – voices and mystical possibilities unfold. This book gets off to a slow start and I was almost at 50% before the story grabbed me and wouldn’t let me rest until I reached the end. There are dual timelines and souls intertwined and reincarnated to learn lessons and for some, to seek revenge. The ultimate revenge to bring down the Senator and destroy the world at the same time is a huge undertaking for Maritza Coya and her accomplice. I won’t tell you what happens, as I do not want this review to be a spoiler. I’ll just say this is a journey from start to finish. While I am a believer in reincarnation, some parts of the scenario I found to be a bit unbelievable, but still entertaining. The last scene in the book left me confused. A wedding in Peru with both living and deceased people in attendance left me scratching my head. However, after contacting the author, it all became clear. The story came to a satisfying conclusion. If you are intrigued by reincarnation or mysticism, you will enjoy this book.

Sam Polakoff is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on these books. If any grabbed you, click on the title to purchase. I’m now reading a book by an author new to me, Linda Trout, and the title is “Tangled Promises.”

I’ll share my thoughts on this book later. What are you reading?

Jan Sikes Top-Ten Book List for 2019

AND THE WINNER IS!! I am ashamed to say that I almost forgot to draw a winner for this blog post, BUT, I saved myself at the last minute. 🙂 The winner of the $10 Amazon Gift card is Stephanie Ortiz Jenkins!! Stephanie watch your inbox! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It is always a challenge to pick just ten books from the many books I read each year. Because it was so difficult this year, I have listed a Bonus book and also some fabulous short stories. I hope you enjoy my Top Ten, and if you see a book that catches your interest, click on the purchase link and add it to your TBR list!

PURCHASE LINK: WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

PURCHASE LINK: THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO

PURCHASE LINK: WHATEVER IT TAKES

PURCHASE LINK: THE OUTLAW’S MAIL ORDER BRIDE

PURCHASE LINK: VOYAGE OF THE LANTERNFISH

PURCHASE LINK: END OF DAY

PURCHASE LINK: VANISHED

PURCHASE LINK: MEMOIR OF A MAD WOMAN

PURCHASE LINK: THE LOVE THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME

PURCHASE LINK: WHEN CAN I STOP RUNNING?

PURCHASE L INK: REFLECTIONS

PURCHASE LINKS: RAVE WRITER’S INT’S SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA) ANTHOLOGY VOL I

CASTE METAL

VISITORS: A SHORT STORY MYSTERY

RED EYES IN THE DARKNESS – A SHORT STORY

MEGAMAX

SLIMMER

And, last but not least, I will be giving away a $10 Amazon Gift card to some lucky person! Just leave a comment and share this post to be entered! MERRY CHRISTMAS!! HO! HO! HO!

I Got Caught!

The month of May is designated as National Get Caught Reading month!!

What a fantastic holiday month for readers and writers! I’ve been an avid reader since I could first make out words in the Dick and Jane primary readers. The image below is me when a story captivates me!

Image courtesy of Pexels

So, in honor of this fabulous month, I’m going to list some great books I’ve read recently!

Noemie’s Journey by Victoria Saccenti

Here is my review:

What I liked most about this book was the honest way the author portrayed the racial prejudice in the southern part of the United States in the 60s. Noemie Bellerose is a girl of mixed race and until her family moves to North Carolina, she has no idea that she is considered an outcast because of her race. With a mother of color and white father, she finds that she is not accepted in either community. But, the torture doesn’t end there. With the death of her mother, her father becomes an abusive alcoholic and does not hold back on the punches in his rages. He blames Noemie’s little brother, Gerry, for their mother’s death and often takes his rage out on the young boy. Noemie is a girl-driven. Driven to make a better life for her and her little brother, driven to get an education, and driven to look out for her father, even despite his abuse. But, when Richard Winters rides his Harley Davidson Chopper into the small North Carolina town, looking for refuge and escape from a heartache so big it forced him to run, things begin to change for Noemie. But, not just for Noemie, for Richard too. With a steel lock around his heart, he is sure nothing can get through, but Noemie does. The racial prejudice is horrific. The abuse Noemie suffers at the hands of her father and others in the small-town is horrific, but the love she finds with Richard is redeeming. I loved this story. I have to admit that I was almost ready to put the book down by the third chapter, as it got off to a slow start. But into the fourth chapter, I was hooked and couldn’t stop until I reached a satisfying conclusion. Steamy romance, racial prejudice, everlasting friendships, and steely determination drive this story.

If this sounds like your cup-of-tea, you won’t be disappointed!

End of Day (A Hode’s Hill Novel Book 2) by Mae Clair

My Review:

I have loved every Mae Clair book that I’ve read and this one is no exception! The way she intertwines the past and present to build the entire story is fantastic! When the empathic Jillian Cley crosses paths with Dante DeLuca who communicates with spirits in the other world, things are bound to get interesting. And they do. Jillian struggles to control her sensitivities and has a service dog, a Husky, who helps to ground her. There are a lot of characters in this story. But, I never had trouble keeping up with who was who and the role each played, even as the author switched back and forth between present day and the late seventeen-hundreds. As the reason for the curse is revealed, the plot gets thickened with a grave-robber and the release of monsters who had been held in the infamous Hode’s Hill cemetery. There are nail-biting scenes and I couldn’t put the book down. I had many late nights until I finished it. Suspenseful, engaging, compelling, other-worldly, and gripping are words I’d use to describe this story. My hat is off to this author for successfully writing in two different time periods effectively! This is a GREAT read if you love suspense, paranormal happenings, and relatable characters! I highly recommend it!

The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday

My review:

I fell in love with Clay Colby’s character in Broday’s Men of Legend Series when he was introduced in book two as a ranch hand. Even then, I wanted him to have a happy ending and to know more of his story. In this book, Linda Broday did more than give Clay a happy ending. She gave him an unforgettable story! A character also introduced in the Men of Legend Series, Talley Shannon was a fugitive. Along with several other women, they hid in a canyon and existed with the help of Luke Legend. They had escaped from a torturous insane asylum. Both Clay and Tally have deep wounds and scars and their journey to redemption is not an easy one. Broday keeps the reader on the edge of their seats as they follow along with bated breath, hoping and praying that the two will finally break through the walls of their hearts to be united as one. If you love the 1800s time period, plenty of action, tension, conflict and steamy romance, you will love this first book of the Mail Order Bride series!

I read two poetry books in April and loved them both! You don’t have to be a lover of poetry to enjoy these two intimate compilations.

Just her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of poetry. The author covers every subject from nature to the deepest part of the human psyche and soul. While I loved all of the poems, a few stood out to me personally like, “Splendor” where the beauty and aliveness of a spring day are expressed in flowing descriptive phrases. “The Journey” is deeply profound portraying the metaphor of life to that of a tiny bird struggling to ride out a storm. This author’s musings from the back of a Harley particularly captivated me. I went along for the ride! But, the section of the book, “The Emotions – Darkness and Light,” is hands-down my favorite section of the book. Each poem expresses life’s journey and the varying aspects of the dance. If you love well-written poetry that touches on every aspect of life and living, you will enjoy this book of poetry from D.L. Finn!

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude by Miriam Hurdle

My Review:

A fantastic collection of honest, heartfelt poetry that takes the readers on a journey through good times and bad. She writes about a health scare that could have easily ended her life. She weaves nature, family, love and faith through her writing. If you love REAL poetry – poetry that moves you, you will enjoy Miriam’s book!

And finally, a book that really opened my eyes to some of the unforgiving views about sexuality in the middle east.

The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name by Fiza Pathan

My Review:

The collection of short stories in this book from India-born author Fiza Pithan deals with a most delicate subject matter. Not only does it encompass stories of transgender people, but lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and asexual people. Two things about these stories struck me. #1 is that this author writes so well in a language that is not her native tongue. I commend her for the well-written stories. I did not spot even one typo throughout the book. The second thing I want to commend her for is the honesty and eye-opening reality of how people are tormented, tortured, ostracized and even killed in Mid-Eastern countries for their sexual preferences and/or differences. Reading these stories makes me truly glad I live in America. If you are looking for stories that, although are fiction, shed a light of truth on these issues, you will enjoy each of these!

Hopefully, you saw something here that caught your eye! It is quite a variety of genres, but I love reading all types of books.

So, grab one and let’s make May a month for memorable stories!

I’d love to know what I caught you reading! I just started on the first book of the Billy Battles trilogy by Ron Yates (Finding Billy Battles.)

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Jan’s Top Ten Books for 2018

I love to look back over the many books I’ve read throughout the year and put together a list of what, in my humble opinion, is the best of the best.

This year I read 37 books and let me tell you, it was no easy task coming up with only ten to put on this list.

I narrowed it down to the books that lingered with me long after the last word. I hope you enjoy my list and will find at least one new read to pick up!

As you can see, most of these authors are members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. It’s a great place to look for great books to read!

I have linked each box to the book on Amazon for your shopping convenience!