September Book Reviews @stacitroilo @maeclair1 @brendawhitesid2 @Sandra_Cox @maurabeth2014

I normally wait until the end of the month to share my book reviews, but these wouldn’t wait! Enjoy!

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PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

Hang onto your hat with this one, folks!
This story, written in dual timelines is hands-down one of the best books of the year so far!
I struggled at the beginning to keep all the characters from each timeline straight, but as the authors so effectively established each one, it became easy.
I love all the characters. Even the tertiary characters are bigger than life.
The relationship between Aiden and his Gran (Julia) is so special, not just because she raised him. They share something deeper than just family blood. They share gifts passed down through their lineage. But their banter is endearing. I almost laughed out loud when she drugged him with her special herbal tea.
The strong female characters in this story are unique and capable. Greer may be my favorite. Not only is she a talented writer and editor, but she’s also got flaws that make her believable. And that could be said about each character in this story.
Aiden is a non-believer in anything related to the spirit realm. So it was fun watching things unfold to challenge him at every turn.
From seances in the late 1800s to modern-day seances, this story encompasses it all. Some so-called spiritualists were no more than good magicians, while others truly possessed the gift of mediumship. Since I am a true believer in supernatural gifts, I found all of this believable.
I cannot fail to mention Aiden’s faithful dog, Levi. He is as much a character in the story as the humans and is entirely devoted to his master. So, I loved it when he saved the day.
If you love deeply intertwined family stories mixed with paranormal occurrences and a tantalizing mystery, you are going to enjoy this story from these two authors. I’ve been a fan of both of their writings for many years, but the two of them co-authoring this book have taken storytelling to an entirely new level. This is the must-read book of 2022!

 

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

I enjoyed this book so much. The author speaks my language. Elidor is an empath. She’s struggled throughout her entire life with how to manage that gift and not let it overwhelm her. She’s also an archaeologist and a good one. She’s traveled the world participating in digs. But this one, in New Mexico, changes her life. Bordering the Mescalero Indian Reservation, she and her partner, Cam make a discovery that will affect the future of the Mescalero Indians and their way of life. What to do? She’s developed a close kinship with a Mescalero elder, Juanita, who is teaching her how to manage her gift as an empath. Then Cam falls off the mountain and dies. Now Elidor is the only one who knows the location of the burial site and the massive accumulation of wealth it holds. She makes a choice that puts her life in danger. Greed can cause men to do unspeakable things. I cheered for Elidor when she made the decision to return home to Joshua, which is a fictitious town patterned after Jerome, Arizona. If you’ve never visited this place, put it on your bucket list, and don’t miss the kaleidoscope store. The author did a fabulous job of describing it. But I digress. I loved Elidor’s family and the hippie community that is bonded together in this quaint town. And while she knew it was always a possibility, she’d not prepared to cross paths with her one true love, Julien, whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years. He is an accomplished journalist turned author and has also traveled the world. Will they be able to renew their relationship? Will Elidor give up her secret? So many questions! You’ll have to read the book to find the answers. While this is book 3 in a series, is it a complete standalone You do not have to read the others before this one. If you are a fan of complex characters and a compelling storyline, you are going to love this book. I highly recommend it!

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

The cover for this story is the first thing that drew me. It’s gorgeous! I’ll Be Right Back is a short read that portrays a weak man’s obsession with a woman and the ultimate betrayal. Maura Beth Brennan has a distinctive writing style that pulls the reader into the story. She sets the scene, then follows through with the psychological aspects of both characters. Money isn’t everything, and love is truly blind. A short but good read!

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

A sheriff with amber eyes and lean hard muscles, a spunky southern girl, and a small Montana town makes the perfect combination for an intriguing story. Oh, but wait! Let’s add in the fact that the hunky sheriff is a shapeshifter who is determined to keep his inner wolf a secret. But when the people he loves are threatened by a powerful evil force, he has no choice. This story kept me involved from the beginning to the end. While I felt it was predictable as far as the romance part, it is a super entertaining read, and a great way to escape into another world for a while. This author does a great job of creating the characters. I could visualize them all and had a few favorites I immediately related to. Rose, Quinn, Jesse, and Adam, although tertiary characters, all play a big part in the unfolding of the story. If you are looking for a different kind of small-town romance story, there is no doubt you will enjoy this one. It’s a great escape!

August #BookReviews – @DWallacePeach @TPolen6 @StaciTroilo @JillWeatherholt

I read some AMAZING books in August, aside from the ones I’ve already posted through Lone Star Literary Blogging and NetGalley. I’m excited to share these additional reviews with you!

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Purchase Link

MY REVIEW:

This story gripped me from page one. A Necromancer is summoned by the King of Verdane. His beloved wife is dying in childbirth. Barus, with a severely crippled, bent, and gnarled body, is the Necromancer. He overhears the queen begging the king to save the life of the child and let her go. But in his grief, the king cannot make that choice, so both mother and child die. But Barus has already fallen in love with the beautiful child, and in the midst of the chaos surrounding the queen’s death, he steals the baby’s lifeless body, takes her to his thatched hut, and through the use of his knowledge and abilities, returns the child’s life. Never was a little girl loved more than Aster. Barus teaches her the healing art, and she grows into a beautiful and happy young woman who can communicate with dragons. So, when the king eventually comes to claim his only heir, things begin a slippery and deadly downhill slide.

Stephen Spielberg once gave writing advice to authors, telling them to put their characters up a tree and throw rocks at them. This author, D. Wallace Peach, did that in spades in this story. The unimaginable torture and hardships Aster went through were enough to have me biting my fingernails and holding my breath.

Captured and placed in a cage to freeze to death overnight, it appears all is lost. That is until young Jareh decides to disobey his powerful father and help her escape. The journey that one single action took them on was long, cold, and treacherous.

I won’t spoil the story by giving away too much. I’ll just say I was mesmerized as it all unfolded, leaving me gasping for breath more than once.

If you are a fan of epic fantasy that includes herbal healing, magic, dragons, corruption, and greed, you are sure to love this book! I highly recommend it!

 

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

This YA Dystopian book gripped me from the beginning to the end. As a young boy, Asher Solomon has to run with his two sisters to escape being taken by The Colony soldiers. At first, he is sure it’s only a drill. After all, their father has insisted they be prepared for the one unavoidable time it would be real. And that time arrives at the start of the story. But when Asher’s sister is injured while escaping, he’s forced to leave them in a cave, promising to return for them.


The world-building in this story is phenomenal. The author did a fabulous job of creating believable characters in nail-biting situations of survival. Oh, and they are all teenagers.


The Colony has figured out a way to harvest highly sought-after, desirable genes from children in order to create a perfect society of beautiful people free of all disease. Of course, that kind of perfection comes at a price. The price of human life.


Children, referred to as outliers, are ripped from their families and taken to harvesting centers.
Asher joins a group of teenagers, Insurgents, whose mission is to rescue these children.
While Asher and his group may be young, they are wise and capable way beyond their years. There are a lot of characters in this story, but besides Asher, I loved Noah, Brynn, and Paige. They are the backbone and strength of the Insurgents.


But there are secrets. And when they are revealed, change everything Asher ever believed about his parents and his life, and have the potential to destroy everyone he loves.
This story concludes with somewhat of a happy ending mixed with a cliffhanger. I could see this entire story unfold as a movie and would be thrilled for the author if it were to be developed as a major film. If you are a fan of gripping dystopian stories where survival is tenuous, you will love this book.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

This is a book that is so real, you can imagine Vanessa and Royce Keller being your next-door neighbors. Royce Keller is an esteemed doctor. Vanessa spends her time helping raise money for charities. Then there are three children, all teenagers.


Somewhere along the way to building a busy, successful medical career as Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Keller lost touch with his wife and children. That is until tragedy strikes.

When his teenage daughter, Hope, is brought into the emergency room, a victim of a motorcycle accident, he doesn’t recognize her. He goes against all medical protocol by treating her and then, in a frantic attempt to save her waning life, gives a blood transfusion directly from his vein to hers. After all, she is his daughter, and their blood should be a match. The result is Hope’s death. The reason—severe trauma wounds and a blood mismatch. The first of many secrets is revealed. Hope is not his child.


And that’s just where the story starts.

The family undergoes such an emotional rollercoaster from the first page of this book until the end. It is a character-driven story, and those are my favorites. While, at times, I wanted to shake both Royce and Vanessa, what they went through on their journey to redemption is relatable and believable. The two remaining children were often stronger than their parents as layer after layer of trust had to be rebuilt.

And did you know it is possible for twins to have different fathers? I didn’t until I read this book. It is called heteropaternal superfecundation.

This is family drama at its best. If you are a fan of deep psychological wounds, healing, and acceptance, you will enjoy this story as much as I did! I highly recommend it!

 

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

I received this book as a gift and found it to be a refreshingly light read. Several things appealed to me, such as the small town setting where everyone knows everyone, a single dad raising a little girl, who is also a paramedic and dashingly handsome, and a big city lawyer who has given up on love and God.
Faith is woven throughout the story, but it’s done in a tasteful way so that it doesn’t come across as preachy.
One of my favorite characters in the story is Rebecca, a precocious little girl who adores her father. While the plot and storyline are predictable, I enjoyed the light-hearted read, and it left me feeling hopeful. I am a sucker for a happy ending. Especially one where all the characters come out winners. This author writes from the heart, and that is obvious in this story. If you love Christian-based clean, and wholesome romances, you’ll enjoy this book.

Book #Reviews! @JoanHallWrites @harmony_kent @WendyWrites1 @judypost

I have had a month of fabulous reading and want to share the cream of the crop!

Blurb:

Bounty hunters come to Muddy River to capture its amiable bartender, Derek Fang, Raven Black, a demon and the town’s enforcer, warns them off because the vampire hasn’t committed any crime. But a succubus who was Derek’s lover centuries ago has finally found him and wants him back–enough to pay big money to whoever brings him to her–alive.

MY REVIEW:

This is book 5 in the Muddy River Mystery series and although I haven’t read the other books in the series, I was not at all lost reading this segment of the story. Muddy River is a town inhabited solely by supernatural characters. Vampires, Witches, Werewolves, Shapeshifters, and Demons make up the population. In this segment of the story, Derek, a Vampire is hunted by a succubus who wants him back as her plaything and will stop at nothing to get him. I love how the town comes together to protect one of their own. I won’t give away the plot but will say the story is a page-turner and a quick read. If you love paranormal activity, believable characters, and plenty of action, you will love this story! Great world-building!

Blurb:

When celebrated international purse designer, Katherine Watson, hosts a gala for her Purse-onality Museum, she never expected the next day’s headline to read: ‘Murder at the Gala Premiere.’ But after a dead body is found during the event, that’s exactly what happened. Working to solve the murder, Katherine matches wits with local cop Jason Holmes and his K-9 partner, Hobbs. Although Holmes and Watson disagree often, they discover an undeniable attraction building between them. But they’ll have to put their feelings on hold and focus on solving the murder, before Katherine becomes the killer’s next knock off.

MY REVIEW:

This story is a well-written whodunit mystery that also includes some fascinating history about purses. When Katherine, a world-famous purse designer, comes back to her hometown of Bayside to establish a purse museum in their old victorian family home, things could not go more awry. Her best friend, the mayor of the small town, is murdered at the museum’s opening gala. The list of suspects is long and Katherine doesn’t trust the police to find the real murderer. So, she begins her own investigation which leads her into danger more than once. Policeman, Jason and his K-9 Hobbs become an integral part of the story along with many other characters. I loved Katherine’s eccentric mother, Moonjava. She embodied the sixties hippy image and although she came across as being flighty, when it counted the most, she stepped up to the plate. Katherine’s grandmother was another unforgettable character. So who murdered Brenda? Her husband, Russ? A pushy reporter? Someone on the City Council? A crime novelist? The list grows as Katherine digs deeper into discovering the identity of the killer. If you love a cozy mystery with bits of humor thrown in, you will enjoy this story. The author did a great job of keeping the identity of the murderer hidden until the end of the book.

Blurb:

Dream home or damned home?

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees with the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.

MY REVIEW:

I thoroughly enjoyed this short story and wanted it to continue. It all starts with a beautiful one-hundred-year-old Victorian home in a small town in northern New Mexico. I fell in love with the town, the people, and the house in this introduction to the Madeira Legends series. This close-knit community has everything you’d expect to find in a small town, from friendly neighbors, to children who play on the streets until after dark, to mystery and intrigue. And the house is the center of attention.
Ruth Hazleton and her husband Lee move to Madeira after Lee lands the job as Chief of Police. I really related to Ruth’s character. She is friendly, outgoing, and caring. She is the lady that bakes cookies for the neighborhood children, organizes Easter egg hunts, and decorates for every holiday. Set in the sixties, the author weaves historical events throughout this short story, from the Kennedy assassinations to the first Apollo landing on the moon and the break-up of The Beatles. She makes the story believable along with the characters and the mystery surrounding the old house. Could the house truly be cursed? I cannot wait to find out! I enjoyed that the author put the first chapter from the first novel in the series at the end of this short story. It whets my appetite for more. I highly recommend this if you love a good mystery set in a believable small town with unforgettable characters.

Blurb:

It’s so remote out here. Anything could happen …

A missed phone call in the night is all it takes.

When Carole’s 18-year-old son goes missing, she breaks into Jayden’s laptop to try to understand his life.

All too soon, Carole discovers just how little she knew her boy.

And when one lead after another dead-ends, the distraught mother has to face the unthinkable.

Sucked into a sticky web of deceit and lies, nothing is as it seems.

When your life turns inside out and upside down, who would you trust?

MY REVIEW:

Talk about a nail-biter! This story begins with some backstory that is essential to what happens as the main story begins. Carole lost her husband, Harvey, to cancer. That left only her and their son, Jayden. As the story begins, Carole is texting with eighteen-year-old Jayden about when he’ll be home. Even though he’s of age, she still worries. After all, he is her entire world. She makes the mistake of taking sleeping pills with wine before going to bed that night. She missed the calls and frantic text from her son. And, he never made it home. Guilt-ridden and terrified, she searches everywhere for him and comes up empty-handed. Finally, she involves law enforcement. The author not only shows this mother’s terror, but she also places you right inside it with her. I sat with Carole as she scrolls through page after page of social media looking for any clues as to where Jayden might be. As she continues her frantic search, she is mortified to realize she knows little of her son’s life. She’s been so locked into her years of grief that she’s shut him out. I won’t go into details, but over a period of five days, Carole moves from one horrific moment and event to the next. The only thing keeping her going is her favorite Macchiato coffee and knowing in her heart that her son is still alive somewhere. I was on the edge of my seat through this entire story and devoured it as fast as possible just to find out what happened. Talk about a shock! If you love a psychological roller-coaster and don’t have a weak heart, I highly recommend this story! While the numerous scenes of Carole sitting at her table and making yet another coffee became repetitious, it was not enough to deter me from finding out the ending to this tale. It depicts a parent’s worst nightmare in a visual and emotive way.

I only post 4 and 5 star reviews. I highly recommend any or ALL of these books!

Guess what Authors – Not everyone is going to love your book!

I heard you gasp. But I also saw you nodding your heads. We all know this, right?

We’ve all had it happen – that moment when a scathing review shows up. Famous mainstream authors like Tom Clancy and James Patterson get one-star reviews. Stephen King’s novel, The Stand has almost 5,000 reviews and yes, some of those are one-star ratings. That is proof that not everyone is going to like your book.

We spend days, weeks, months and sometimes years toiling over a story. Then with great enthusiasm we send it out into the world. I often compare it to giving birth. That baby is the most precious and wonderful thing to its mother. That baby is beautiful.

So, what do you think happens when someone comes along and says to that mother, “You have an ugly baby?” First off, the mother is going to feel protective, then secondly she is maybe going to feel a little hurt.

It’s the same way with our books. Our first reaction to criticism of our books is to defend and protect it. The second normal reaction is to feel hurt and maybe even a little beat down.

Sound familiar?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and while to most of us, it would seem mean or maybe even cruel to tell a mother her baby is ugly, it can represent that one person’s truth. And shouldn’t everyone stand in their truth? Maybe the baby is indeed ugly, and after all, don’t we promote freedom of speech?

Where is protocol for these situations? Or is there any?

A review with a low mark doesn’t bother me. I’ve given plenty of them. But when someone goes beyond leaving a review and chooses to trash our work publicly it changes the dynamics. And it is entirely up to us, as the creator of that work, how we respond. That is when it turns into the ugly baby scenario.

One thing I know for certain, is that you never engage in a debate about your work. You would be bringing yourself down to their level, opening yourself up to further criticism and making a mountain out of a mole hill.

In my opinion, the best option for any author in that situation is to take the high road. Look closely at the criticism. Maybe you can learn something from it. Maybe what you learn is that person simply doesn’t understand your story or doesn’t like your style of writing. Or maybe you learn that person, even though they don’t know you, don’t like you, or is jealous of you, and it has nothing to do with your writing. Or maybe they have a legitimate criticism about your writing but choose to express it in a harsh way. Whatever the answer is, the best solution for every author is to learn whatever lesson can be had and move on, always striving to be better and staying professional.

Remember when you put your work out to the world, you’re putting yourself out along with it, so developing a bit of thick skin might be helpful.

Don’t hold on to criticism. Don’t let it stop you from creating. Don’t let it destroy your confidence or your creativity.

We live in a society where many seem to believe that everyone who doesn’t think exactly like them is either ignorant and uninformed or plain stupid. The new normal is to discredit anyone who doesn’t see things your way. Please, never let yourself fall into that category. Everyone doesn’t read through the same eyes. Everyone doesn’t understand the same way you do. And everyone doesn’t have the same moral compass that you do. And none of that makes them wrong and you right or vice-versa.

Don’t stress over things you cannot change. Focus your precious energy on the things you CAN change!

Have you experienced the “you’ve got an ugly baby syndrome?” What did you do? Let’s learn from each other. This is a safe and open forum. Let’s talk!

January #BookReviews – Only 4 and 5 Star #Bridgerton @OverbeckRandy @ParrisAfton @WendyJayneScott @sasspip

I read eight books in the month of January, but I am only listing the ones that I gave either a four or five star review. These are all GREAT books and I highly recommend them!

I’m going to start with the Five-Star Reviews first.

The Brigands (The Texicans Book 1) by Parris Afton Bonds

MY THOUGHTS:

This story is an amazingly accurate historical portrayal of the events that lead to Texas (Tejas) winning independence from Mexico, and includes two sizzling yet seemingly impossible love affairs. Two women arriving at the port of Matamoros, each unaware of the other and each with different motives wind up with their lives thrust into an intricately woven web of power, struggle, and deceit. Ms. Bonds did an outstanding job of layering this story with intense conflict and emotion as each woman fought against the power of all-consuming love. Fiona and Rafaela are two characters I won’t soon forget, not to mention the handsome, yet deadly Baron who possesses a black heart and deadly will. Add in the Irish Gypsy Traveler and you have four people tied together by unpredictable circumstances and eventually undeniable love.

Blood on the Chesapeake” by Randy Overbeck

MY THOUGHTS:

This story grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go until the last. Overbeck touches on so many different facets in this book from the civil rights unrest in the 60s to a murder cover-up as a suicide set in a high school. Throw in a ghost that will not leave the new coach, Darrell Henshaw, alone and you’ve got a great combination for a story. Coach Henshaw can communicate with the ghost, but it is not something he welcomes or wants. The author took me on a riveting journey through the process of solving the murder/suicide and exacting revenge. And, there is a blossoming love story thrown in the midst of it all. I love how the author accurately depicts attitudes and beliefs and how he brings the beautiful setting of the bay to life in vivid color. I highly recommend it for any reader who likes a well-paced, well-written murder/mystery with twists!

Sleighed – A Christmas Tale” by WJ Scott

MY THOUGHTS:

In this Christmas children’s story, a new elf in Santa’s workshop learns a valuable lesson. Always remember to clean the fairy dust off before leaving the workshop. Tinsel, the elf, has quite the adventure when he forgets that bit of advice. It is a short read that young and old alike will enjoy! I highly recommend it!

“Sizzling Sunset – Book 5 of the Royal Command Series” by Sarah Stuart

MY REVIEW:

If you have read the other four books in the Royal Command Family Saga, you are going to appreciate the way Ms. Stuart wraps up this saga. This segment of the series focuses on Greta Marsh, the teenaged daughter of the Diamond Superstar, Michael Marsh. When Michael and Greta’s stepmother go on an extensive concert tour in the U.S., little do they know the young boy and his sister whom they rescue will be Greta’s true love. What I like most about this story is the way it comes in a full circle. What I mean by that is in book one, Michael is poor and has a dream of making it big on stage. Elspeth, born of money and heritage, falls hopelessly in love with Michael and helps make his dreams come true. In this book, Greta falls in love with an impoverished boy, just as her mother had done. Another thing I loved about this story segment is that the royal jewels from the diary of Margaret Tudor which was passed down through generations were woven into Greta’s wedding bouquet. A perfect ending to a high drama saga. Ms. Stuart has a talent for pulling out all the stops in her storytelling.

“The Duke and I (Book 2 of the Bridgerton series” by Julia Quinn

MY THOUGHTS:

I seldom read a mainstream book anymore. My go-to are Indie Authors. But my daughters became obsessed with the Netflix series and insisted I watch it, then we wanted to read the books. Almost always the book is better than the show, but in this case, I found the show to be better than the book. While the story premise was the same, the characters were not and the situations were not. It would probably be better to read the book before watching the series. It is a well-written multi-dimensional story about the ultimate game of pretense.