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.