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!

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

Welcome to some of my June reading thoughts!

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

 

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

 

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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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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