Executive Editor: Katy Nielsen
Copy Editors: Julie York, Marc Joseph, Penny Baker
Special Publications Editors: Sarah McEachron, Ryan Jo Summers
Laura Trujillo, Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick
S.L. Carpenter, Paul Stans ﬁeld,Tamara Cribley, Julie L. York
Transcription: Ralph Conley
Elle J. Rossi, Rachel Rossano
RONE Awards Coordinator:
Reviewers* Chelsea Anderson, Belinda Wilson, Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick, Tricia Hill, Viola Robbins, Emerson Matthews, Sarah E. McEachron, Roslynn Ernst, Victoria Zumbrum, Austen Grace, Joan Lai, Cara Cieslak, Jennifer Shepherd, Sadie Wilson, Annalee Stilove, Simone Dober, Leah Neale, Rika Chandra, Valerie Vicars, Stephanie Bell, Amy Rubottom, Heather Kroll, Moira Wolf, Chelsea Greer
*Please note, ALL InD’tale staff are required at times to read and review books.
Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. All books and material reviewed by InD’tale have been read by the stated reviewer and are the opinions of that reader.
Imagine someone coming up with a new idea, writing the book, then editing, proofing, publishing, and promoting it in just 30 days time… and doing that every single month of the year! That’s what publishing a magazine is. It is also fun, crazy, stressful, and always exciting.
It’s hard to even imagine finding new and interesting people and articles monthly, organizing, uploading over 70 book submissions, sending them to reviewers, having them read and review, then send back their professional reviews, editing EVERYTHING, not once, but three times, then, putting it all together, formatting everything into a magazine, and sending it all over the world every 30 days. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the graphic art work, and creative considerations, social media marketing… Man, the list goes on!
Gosh, it’s always a surprise when I find myself getting ready for another month, especially in February. Those three days we miss seem like a week - at least! And, it always gives our staff an extra punch to get us going because we still have the regular deadlines in spite of the shortened time period.
I’m often reminded of that old “Lou Grant” TV show I watched as a kid, (totally dating myself). It took place in a newspaper office where everyone was always frantically running around while the boss (Lou) shouted “I need your article, now!” I just never realized how true to life that can be!
All that to help you understand what an incredible bunch of people we have here at InD’tale. For every single one, this is a labor of love, one which they often do for no more than the satisfaction it brings helping people find great books and/or to write great stories. So, if you happen to get the opportunity to interact with any one of them, please take a minute to thank them. They are amazing people, and would be delighted to know someone noticed.
Paul was born and raised in New Jersey, and works as a ﬁeld archaeologist. When he's not digging in the dirt, he enjoys writing, especially horror tales. He's had stories published in numerous magazines. He also has stories in three horror anthologies which are currently available--"Undead Living","Coming Back" and "Creature Stew". He enjoys tennis, craft beer, and stories told from the perspective of claustrophobic tapeworms.
Julie L. York
Julie is an author, editor, and momthough not always in that order. She also teaches English to adult and incarcerated students. She was was born and raised in the East Bay Area, California, graduated with a B.A. in English, minoring in Business Computers... got married and had children. Then she completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Media Design. Oh, and did she mention she is a voracious reader? Thanks to iBooks and the Kindle App, Julie has consumed thousands of eBooks and claims reading is her ﬁrst love.
Sarah McEachron Jason Hamilton
A reader of over 30 years, a reviewer of almost a decade, and an InD’tale magazine staff member of ﬁve years, Sarah knows books will always be part of her world. This was especially true during college when she spent more time working on a book of her own than paying attention to Stats. Sarah has lived all over the world and the U.S. as both a military brat and military spouse. Along with working part-time, she homeschools, and juggles daily life with her handsome husband and three cute kids in between chapters.
Jason Hamilton is the Content Manager for Kindlepreneur and a mythic fantasy author. He loves mythology, history, and geek culture. When he's not writing, his favorite hobbies include hiking, chilling with his wife, spouting nonsense words at his baby daughter, and developing his website: MythBank.
A lifetime Californian, Scott Carpenter lives the ordinary life of a husband and father. Humor has always played a large role in his life, and he enjoys making people smile. His stories range from the outright absurd to the deeply poignant, and his mastery of the short story format is undeniable. If asked, he'll describe himself as just another guy. His many fans will tell you that his writing paints quite a different picture.
Tamara Cribley is a self-professed formatting junkie who believes beautiful books don't happen by chance. Having worked as a Commercial Photographer, Graphic Artist, and Art Director, Tamara’s unique skills enable her to put together classy and professional books that keep the reader focused on the story. She resides in Colorado where she gives back to her community by being an active Search and Rescue volunteer, and in her free time enjoys reading, gardening, and exploring with the dog.
Obviously I love to read and will read almost anything I get my hands on. Admittedly, however, mysteries weren’t at the top of my list… Until I read a C.J. Archer book. And then I was hooked! Every story has such warm and wonderful, often quirky, characters who get in all kinds of sticky situations as they try to live and love their lives. Whether it is cozy, suspenseful, or fantastical, each book carries that little bit of magic that makes reading an absolute delight!
That’s why I was so excited to get to speak with the genius behind all the fun. CJ is an Aussie, born and raised, with a soft-spoken but very kind and enjoyable manner that lends itself to the wonderful characters she creates. She’s fanciful yet pragmatic, logical yet optimistic, and she is all kinds of fun when chatting about stories, and mysteries, books, and life!
Mysteries - Cozy, Suspenseful, Heartwarming… Magical!
InD: Isn’t it amazing the ways readers 4ind authors? I discovered your work and fell in love with it because of your After The Rift series, but it is one of your lesser known works. What is your biggest seller?
CJA: The Glass and Steele series, which begins with “The Watchmaker’s Daughter”, has been my biggest selling series ever since its launch in 2016. The spin off, The Glass Library series, which begins with “The Librarian of Crooked Lane”, has done very well so far too. I’m thrilled with the reader response to it.
InD: Were you born and raised in Australia?
CJA: Yes, I was born in Darwin in the Northern Territory, then moved to a small town in north-west Queensland where it’s hot and dry. I’ve lived in Melbourne, Victoria, for a long time now, however.
InD: What was it like growing up in Queensland?
CJA: It was great. We played outside all day and returned home at dinner time. I lived in a small town where everyone knew everybody, and as kids, you could go on your bicycles and ride around town and feel safe. We would always Oind something to do, like Oinding tadpoles, playing in the creek, or going to the town pool.
I think part of the reason why I’m a writer is because we lived so far from everything. To get anywhere, it would take hours in the car. I would get car sick, so I couldn't read for long periods of time, so I’d close my eyes and dream up stories. I think the ability to let my mind wander for hours, making up stories, carried into my adult life.
InD: For some Americans (myself included), when we talk about anywhere in Australia, other than the big cities, or if an Australian says “out in the bush”, the 4irst thing that we think of are all of scary things, like all the poisonous snakes, spiders, and the crocodiles. Is that true?
CJA: There are plenty of scary creatures here, yes. InD: So as a child growing up there, do they teach you how to stay alive?
CJA: [laughing] We were taught what spiders to stay away from. For instance, with the redbacks, we knew to look for a small black spider with a red stripe on its
back. You don't go anywhere near those. And we were taught to stay away from all snakes. You learn to avoid them when you're growing up in the bush. But we have snakes here in suburban Melbourne, too. A few years ago, we had a brown snake in our backyard. Brown snakes are one of the deadliest snakes in the world.
InD: What did you do?
CJA: Snakes usually won’t hurt you unless you bother them, so if you stay away, it's not going to come up and attack you. When we saw the one in our backyard, we actually called a snake catcher because our kids were little and often played out there, and we’re surrounded by other houses with little kids. If you’re out in the bush, though, you would just let it go if it’s not endangering anyone.
InD: Do you see a lot of poisonous things?
CJA: I wouldn't say a lot. It’s not an everyday occurrence here in Melbourne. Maybe in the bush it is. I’m more worried about crocodiles than snakes when I’m up north, though. Crocodiles will live through an apocalypse. [both laughing]
InD: Did you have any brothers and sisters growing up?
CJA: I have an older brother and we’re pretty close in age. He is just 19 months older, and we got along really well growing up. He’s easy-going, nothing fazes him. My parents divorced when I was 10, so he was also very protective of me.
InD: What were you like as a child?
CJA: I was very shy. I was Oine around people I knew, an growing up in a small town, I knew almost everyone, so I don't think I realized how shy I was until we moved. We went from a small town to a big city when I was about 12 years old. I didn’t know anyone in my new school, and it was then I realized how extremely shy I was. I still have that shyness, but you learn to hide it much better as an adult. I learned to be more chatty, but people don't have any idea what's going on inside.
InD: That is so true. I have started to joke the last few years that I am a very high functioning introvert. I am really very friendly and I love people, but they don't understand how much energy it takes to talk to someone I don’t know.
CJA: Exactly! It takes energy and it can be tiring. I am the sort of person that, if I have two functions in a day, I am exhausted, so I try to avoid over-committing socially.
InD: I completely understand! did you read a lot as a child?
CJA: Oh yes. I was that cliché kid. I was reading with the torch under the bedcovers. I loved the Trixie Belden series when I was little. I was reading those as soon as they released them. I think I lost my way a little bit as a teenager because, when I look back at high school, I was just reading the books on the school curriculum.
InD: Did you enjoy writing or just reading?
CJA: Back then, I was just a reader, but when I did start writing, I wrote some really bad poetry. Then in my later teens and early 20s, I got on to short story writing. I sent a few of them off to magazines and some got published in women’s magazines here in Australia and the UK. I cut my teeth on short stories. InD: What was your life like as a teenager?
CJA: One of the problems for an introvert is that you don't join things. If I would have been more brave, I would have tried things. I was such an anxious teenager and really gawky. It took a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin. Because I was so shy, I didn't join anything.
InD: What career did you want to go into?
CJA: I went through a stage where I wanted to be a marine biologist, but I don't like science [laughing]. By my late teens, I knew I wanted to be a writer but didn't know how to go about becoming one. There were no courses or no real internet where you could Google how to be a writer, so I thought, “I am just going to put pen to paper."
InD: So, you wrote some small stuff that went into magazines; where did it go from there?
CJA: In my early to mid-20s, I started writing novels. I didn't have any lessons or guidance, so I didn't know what I was doing, but I was a fast writer, so I would just write and write and write. I knew, at the time, the stories weren’t ready, but I couldn’t Oigure out how to Oix them. Then I found a writers group in Melbourne and met some wonderful authors there, both published and aspiring.
Some of us started a critique group to dive deeper into the craft. I learned a lot from them and we still catch up when we can. I also attended writing conferences here in Australia, and read all the articles I could Oind about novel writing. With the information I learned, and lots of practice, I Oigured out how to craft a story. I also learned more about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
InD: Did you have a day job at that time?
CJA: Yeah, for sure. At University, I did a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Geography, but I realized by the end
of the course that it wasn’t an area I wanted to pursue professionally. I then went on to do a graduate diploma in library studies. After graduating from that, I went to work at a legal library.
InD: Why geography?
CJA: I don't know. My father was a geologist and I feel like I was inOluenced by his love of earth science. Maybe my childhood growing up in the Queensland bush had something to do with it, too. But I wasn't really science-y. The geography was like a bridge between the sciences and the arts degree, and it incorporated environmental studies which was becoming more prominent in the early 90s.
Looking back now, I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do. I have children now, a 19-year-old and an almost 17year-old, and they are trying to Oigure out what they want to do. I tell them “It’s okay if you don't know and if you need to change courses, it’s Oine. Don't stress, you’ll Oind your path.” I try to let them know it’s okay to Oigure it out as you go, and that things will work out in the end.
InD: You have done beautifully well and you were the same way at their age. You didn't know at 4irst and had to kind of 4igure it out.
CJA: I feel like I didn’t hit my stride until I was about 40.
InD: Working in a library sounds wonderful, but you were working in a law library, and that just sounds about as dull as it could be (sorry).
CJA: I think maybe the labor market was really off at the time. It was hard to get a job, so I took what I could get. I quickly realized, though, that the law library wasn’t for me. Then the library got new software, and I was the one who implemented the software and I found I liked being involved in that side of it. When the software company had an opening they asked if I wanted the job. I said yes.
It was a very small company and I learned to do everything because there were only four of us. I was the Oirst line of support, and I also wrote the manuals
and trained new users sometimes. I was never the technical engineer or anything like that. I was writing my stories at night at that time.
InD: Were you writing at night to get into the business? Or were you just writing because you loved it and it was something to do?
CJA: At Oirst, it was the love of writing. As I got older, I started to think about being published. But I was still obsessed with the process of writing, the storytelling side of it. It even got to the point that, during the day, I would put my work aside when the boss wasn’t looking, and I would pull out my stories and edit them. I did more and more of that as the years progressed. I hope my old bosses don’t read this!
InD: How did you work that all in when you had children?
CJA: I wrote when they went to bed. With one kid it was fairly easy, she would go to bed early and then I would write. I worked part-time when I just had the one child and continued to write part-time when she slept, but when the second child came along, I stopped work altogether and became a full-time mum for a couple of years... but I was still writing while they were sleeping. Once my second child was old enough to go to prep (it would be like your preschool), in 2011, selfpublishing was becoming a viable path for authors.
I should backtrack for just a minute. I had a US-based agent for a couple of years from 2006 to 2008, but when the GFC hit in 2008, she said the publishing houses weren’t buying much from unknown, unpublished writers, they're sticking to what they know, so I sort of gave up trying to get published for a while. The agent and I parted ways but she really helped me hone my craft. She edited a few of my novels that she was shopping around, which meant they were really polished. Then near the end of 2010 with indie publishing becoming more viable, I said to my husband that I want to give it a shot and use a few hundred dollars to get editing and a book cover, then give it a red-hot go for
a year. With those polished novels, I felt it was the right time. With our second child starting school, I was supposed to go back to part-time work. But I told my husband if I wasn’t earning enough from my writing to replace a part-time job’s income by the end of the school year, I would apply for work. I just wanted to give myself that year in a last-ditch effort to make my writing pay something for all those years of effort. He was like, “Okay, no worries.” and was totally supportive. I never had to apply for a job.
InD: What was the 4irst book that actually published?
CJA: “Redemption”. It’s still out there. It’s set in the 1880s and it was one of the manuscripts my agent was shopping around. There were a couple others I could have gone with, but that novel was probably the most polished and put together. I felt it was my strongest book. If I were to read it now, I’d probably cringe [laughing].
InD: You said that you were into Trixie Belden as a child. Your books are Mysteries, though, and very many of them are historically based, so what drew you to that Historical Mystery genre?
CJA: I can’t write a book without a mystery element. Even when I
wrote Historical Romance, I had to have a mystery. It doesn't feel right to me otherwise! I think sometime in my early 20s, I picked up an Historical novel and just loved it. Historical is a more natural Oit for me and you write what you love, don't you?
I still enjoy Contemporary novels, but with Historical novels, there's a lot more scope to play with, as an author, more reasons for conOlict between characters. For example, during the Victorian period they were very straightlaced, so you can throw in a romantic element where they can't express their sexuality immediately. As an author, you can draw out that push-pull of romantic conOlict and it’s completely normal for that time period. It’s a lot of fun to write, too!
InD: One of the things I admire about your writing most is the fact that you can balance a Mystery with a Romance, and even a magical element in a story so well! And, one does not completely overwhelm any of the others at any point. Another thing is, your gift with characterizations. In my opinion, those two amazing strengths set you apart from other authors. Do you intentionally incorporate those aspects when you go into a book? Or do you start writing and it just comes out?
CJA: I am mostly a plotter, although my plots change as I go. I do start with the hero or heroine’s
romantic conOlict and what the core romance is about. I know at least part of their general backstory, as well as the core mystery and the fantasy element, if it’s a fantasy. Sometimes those things come at once, and are very clear, other times they’re vague and need Oleshing out before I start writing. I might get an idea for a fantasy plot Oirst, which is what happened with “The Watchmaker's Daughter”. I had an idea where the hero needed his watch to survive, and the rest developed from that initial idea. InD: That is the genius in it because where did an idea like that come from?
CJA: I don't know. It just comes. With that series, I had the title very early in the process and the idea of a man needing his watch to survive. From there, it’s just a series of questions: How do I tie in the title “The Watchmaker’s Daughter” with the mysterious man and his watch? Who is the daughter and why is she important to the story, and the man? What are the magic rules of the world?
InD: Do you sit back in your chair sometimes and close your eyes like you did as a child and start imagining?
CJA: Absolutely. Sometimes I'll close my eyes in my ofOice and have a little think, but some of my best ideas come as I write. I have to write myself into the zone and then my Oingers just Oly over the keyboard. Things are going on in the outside world, but I'm so
immersed in the story, I don't realize it. My best ideas come in those moments. It might be the second chapter or so and a character will pop up, so you start writing them and they end up adding a whole new dimension to the story.
At other times, I may dive deep into the main character's backstory and discover something that has happened to her, but it's not until I’m writing that I discover it. That’s why I say that I'm a plotter, but also a pantser, because my plots are very Oluid. I drill down into them as I go along which expands the story’s scope. I don’t stress too much at the start if the initial plot is looking thin, because I know it will become clearer as I write myself into the story.
InD: It is always interesting talking to authors. Many just sit down and start writing and it just goes from there. I truly stand all amazed because I have no idea how that happens! Then there are others who literally plot every single scene - or part - post it all on a board and then follow exactly what they plotted out.
And then there are people like you, who have the basic plot, then allow it to take them where it wills. It is very authorspeci4ic in a lot of ways, but it still amazes me, and I love hearing your story!
CJA: Something I've learned over the years is that you become more open to the ideas coming at you.
When you open your mind, you see potential plots and characters in everyday things around you. I Oirmly believe that as I’ve become a more experienced writer, I’ve learned to be more aware of ideas when they present themselves. You have to learn to keep your mind open to receiving the input in all sorts of places. InD: The mystery side of writing has always been interesting to me. You said you 4irst think of a plot, so when you 4inally sit down and start writing that idea, do you know who the villain is and what is going to happen?
CJA: If you looked at a plot of my book before it’s written (because when I Oinish one book of the series, I plot the next one straight away) the main points are centered around the mystery. Overall, the plot outline could be something as simple as eight bullet points or as involved as 20, but they’re almost always the mystery element. I add in other elements if they’re important and I know what they’ll be at the start. Let's say there is an important relationship point that has to be in book two, for example, I'll put that in my plot chart so I don't forget to include it. Sometimes, I know the characters’ personalities when I begin, but it’s usually not in any great detail unless it’s an integral part of the story, like a shy heroine. Most of the time, though, I don't know what the characters are like until I meet them when I start writing.
InD: What about the magical elements? Because you often have those in your stories, too. CJA: I will have some of the broad strokes of the magic rules, but a lot of them will come to me as I write.
InD: I guess in your Glass and Steele series, the magic is very understated and a very small part of the overall story. The little talent the heroine has in magic affects the plot, but the story is not really focused on the magic as much as the mystery. I think it's interesting because if most authors authors use magic, it’s usually a much larger point in the book. Your books are wonderful in that the mystery and the relationships of the characters are the focus, and the magic is just a quiet part of the very fabric.
CJA: Even for my books set in a fantasy world, the magic is really light and that’s because I’m not a huge Fantasy reader. I’m not interested in books with dragons, for example. Somehow, I think I’ve tapped into an audience that appreciates similar stories to me. Stories with a bit of everything, but with no element overwhelming the others. It makes it difOicult to describe to people, though. I usually say I write historical fantasy mystery
with romance, which is a mouthful, and more recently I added historical cozy mysteries with a romantic element which don’t have any fantasy.
InD: I think you hit the nail on the head. I think it is that balance of the mystery, relationships, and sometimes magic that makes the books just delightful.
CJA: I think my books appeal to a mainstream audience who are looking for something unique, but not too different. I read all genres, from Literary to Romance to Mystery and everything in between, so I just write what I want to read.
As authors we sometimes hear the words, “Stay in your lane”, write to an audience and write what they want. I've never stayed in my lane, I write where my muse take me. That advice may work for some authors, but it doesn't work for everyone. I’d quickly get bored if I had to write the same thing over and over.
InD: I think sometimes an author can get stuck in a lane and that’s when it gets boring to readers. I like Mysteries but only for so long, then I want something different. That’s what you tapped into so well, you are combining different genre elements into your books and that keeps people interested.
CJA: It’s interesting you say that because I do hear readers who have been with me for years say that very thing. At Oirst, I didn't know if anyone would like my genre-blending books, but they seem to. I think if you change from a genre you have been successful in, there are certain elements you still have to put into your stories to satisfy your core readers. For me, I like a mystery element and a romantic element, so those are my promises to the reader. You'll get romance and mystery with humor and quirky characters, and I'm not going to kill off the hero or heroine. It's not a conscious thing, it’s just what I like and want to read, so that's what I write.
InD: So, there are basics every reader will know they are getting from you
within the wide perimeter of interesting stories. The other thing I absolutely admire you for is your characterizations. In every book I've read of yours, the characters are the stars. I love the mystery, but it’s the warm and quirky personalities that readers can really connect with so well. Do you put a lot of work into trying to understand your characters?
CJA: The hero or heroine will generally come to me as I write them. That is not a conscious thing, it is based on their backstory or personalities. For instance, if I want a shy heroine, I will be conscious of developing her that way. You can have a lot more fun with the secondary characters than you can with your hero or heroine, though, so I will generally pick one or two characters in a series and go over the top with them. I have a lot of readers of the Glass and Steele series who love Willie, the hero’s cousin. She’s their favorite. I modeled her on the Doris Day character in the movie “Calamity Jane”. She’s over the top. She comes across as loud and abrasive, but she’s actually very loving, loyal, and funny underneath her crusty shell. I love writing her! I consciously created that character, but she developed even further than I intended. You do have to be careful you don't go too over the top, but you can use those secondary characters to balance the other more serious characters. I can create a lot of fun interaction with Willie and that’s where the humor in the stories comes from and it’s probably my favorite part to write. In the Ministry of Curiosity series, there's a secondary character who is a real dick. He’s lazy, a drunk with a wicked sense of humor, and he doesn’t hold back. He was such fun to write. You can’t do those things with your main characters, but you can really unleash your inner demon with your secondary characters. InD: You seem to prefer series versus standalones. Why?
CJA: I do. I would like to write standalones again, but I don't think my brain works that way anymore. I just seem to come up with series ideas.
InD: I am not complaining because I love your series, but it is very noticeable that almost all of your books end up in a series. Still, one could read most of your books singly and be happy. They do work well by themselves. I don't see a lot of big clif4hangers or storylines that make it impossible without continuing. One just wants to continue because the characters and stories are so good!
CJA: I don't write clifOhangers because I don't like to read them. I think I have one in book Oive of the After The Rift series because it was so long it had to continue into book six, but I have a pet peeve with clifOhangers. It’s probably a Mystery book thing. Generally, Mysteries conclude at the end of every book. You have other arcs that continue over a series, like the romantic arc or a family issue, but each book must solve the mystery by the end.
InD: Have there been any series that have been a particular challenge for you to write?
CJA: My Freak House series are nine books split up into three trilogies, so you need a book arc, then a trilogy arc, and then a nine book arc. That was so hard to do! Never, ever again! I'm happy to do an arc in each book with an
overall series arc, but adding in the three trilogy arcs made it complicated. Each trilogy follows a different romantic couple, which was another layer of difOiculty. It was a bit of a juggling act in the end.
InD: What made you decide to do a trilogy, a trilogy, and a trilogy in one series?
CJA: I have no idea. If I went back to read that series now, I know I would just cringe at the mistakes I made, but the third trilogy in that series, I absolutely loved. It was my favorite of all three.
InD: Which series was the easiest to write?
CJA: That would be the Cleopatra Fox mysteries, my ongoing cozy historical mystery series. I released book Oive in December, and books six is available to preorder.
InD: Why do you think those were so easy?
CJA: I think it is because they follow the structure of a Cozy Mystery, whereas the others are more go with the Olow. Other than that, I don't really know, but I love how they just Oly off my Oingers. I really love the heroine, too, so that might be a factor. The last couple of heroines I have written have been shy to start with, but Cleo Fox is a bit more ballsy.
InD: Are there certain moral themes you naturally include in your stories?
CJA: I don't know. I don’t
consciously think about them, before or after writing. In the historical time periods, if someone was born into poverty, they generally stayed there, but I like to have a character who Oights against that and rises out of it, so maybe that’s a theme. Also, I want justice to be served and the bad guys to get their comeuppance. InD: What about YOUR love story? I know you’re married, but how did it come about?
CJA: Yes, I’m married and we just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. I was in my mid-20s when I went on a tour overseas. I met a female cousin of his, who happened to be in the tour group, and we became friends, so when we got back to Australia, she was having a party and invited me, so I went. He was there, and that was how we met.
InD: What was your 4irst impression of him?
CJA: Talkative. I think shy people appreciate others who are chatty because they can keep the conversation going. He’d been on a tour like the one I went on, so we visited a lot of the same places and we talked about that. Then, several months later, his cousin and I were catching up again, and he happened to be at the same bar with his mates, and we talked some more. The next day he asked his cousin for my phone number and we started dating.
InD: And the rest is 22 years of history, which is wonderful!
CJA: Yeah, we are from very different backgrounds. He comes from an Italian background with a big loud family, and I come from a very quiet, small Aussie family, so it was a bit of a culture shock for me. I have 4 cousins and he has…
I’m not sure, but a lot [laughing]
InD: Does he read your books?
CJA: He has read three of them, but he’s not much of a reader. I think I actually like the fact that he doesn't read them, otherwise it might affect what I write. My kids haven’t read them either. My daughter is 19 and my son is nearly 17, and they’re not big readers. My daughter isn’t creative, and isn’t really into Oiction.
My son and I are more alike. He likes Oiction in all forms. We’ll watch a movie or series together and discuss it enthusiastically, so he deOinitely has that storytelling streak in him that I have.
InD: Did your career grow slowly or did it take off all at once?
CJA: From 2011 until 2016, my income doubled every year. Then "The Watchmaker's Daughter" came out, and that's when everything exploded.
InD: What was your family's reaction when it exploded?
CJA: I didn't really talk about it much with my extended family. They knew that I wrote, but they don't understand publishing at all, and they don't understand the
difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing, so they had no idea, at that time, what I was doing. But, as I progressed and they realized I was not going back to work, I talked about it more and more. Then of course, I was hitting the USA Today Bestselling list and I posted that on Facebook. My family follows me on Facebook so they saw it, but I'm not the sort of person that talks about it unless they bring it up.
InD: Do your mom, dad, and brother read your books? Or were they oblivious up until that point?
CJA: I give my mum and dad paperbacks so they’ve read the Glass and Steele series and the Cleopatra Fox mysteries. I don't think my brother has read them. My entire family are really supportive. Even when I was struggling to earn money from writing before 2011, my parents said, “Do it, if you love it.” No one ever told me it was a waste of time.
Even when I Oirst started out, no one said I should get a proper job or that's a nice little hobby you have there. I’ve heard a few other female authors say their husbands told them to get a “real” job when their writing wasn’t earning much money, and that makes me feel so sad for them. Having your partner’s support is so important. InD: One of the reasons I asked is because it is so wonderful to
hear that a husband is very supportive of his wife, even though he's not into reading himself. I think that is wonderful. What do you enjoy doing, when you are not writing?
CJA: I enjoy reading and watching TV. We enjoy traveling, both in Australia and overseas. Writing is my hobby, as well as my job; I Oind it hard to switch off. I don't know if that's good for me or not. Even when I go on holidays, I'm still answering emails or readers' messages. I Oind it very hard not to take my laptop with me wherever I go.
InD: So, what are your favorite TV shows?
CJA: I have so many! Anything historical, especially if it has a mystery too.
InD: When you travel, where are your favorite places to go?
CJA: I’ve been to Europe three times now, so deOinitely Europe, especially the United Kingdom. I think I love the UK because there's a familiarity with the language and culture, but it’s also quite different. There are so many interesting and beautiful places packed into a tiny area. I’ve always enjoyed historical places, especially ancient Roman ruins and places like that, so Rome is also a favorite city.
InD: Do you take your kids with you?
CJA: Yes, even the 19-year-old! She’s not too old to go away with mum and dad if we’re paying [both chuckling] We went to Europe about 4 years ago. My youngest was 12 then, and he would say “Not another ruin or cathedral!” But he looks back now and still talks about the sites we saw and how much they loved it, and wants to go again. He’s going through his Oinal two years of school, however, and it’s a bit of an effort traveling from Australia to Europe or the United States. You can't go for a week, it's not worth it because it’s such a long and exhausting Olight. You need to go for 3 weeks minimum. But taking three weeks out of his high schooling would be extremely hard. Our long summer break is from December through to January. That's when we went to Europe 4 years ago, but it was cold and we missed our summer that year so we want to go at a different time of year next time.
InD: Okay, let's do some favorites! What is your favorite food?
CJA: When I was younger, I was such a fussy eater, but now I will try anything, so I don't know if I actually have a favorite food. My mother-in-law cooks traditional Italian lasagnas and meatballs which are delicious, so I guess I would say those.
InD: What about desserts?
CJA: I don't have much of a sweet tooth anymore, but I do love chocolate especially dark chocolate.
InD: What is your favorite color?
CJA: I love red, even though it doesn’t look good on me, but I like to have a hint of red here and there in the house. I have a Oiery red vase in the lounge room which I love.
InD: Why do you think red?
CJA: I don’t know. It’s a bold colour, which is probably why I only like hints of it. A little bit of boldness, but not too much.
InD: What is your favorite time of day?
CJA: I’m not a morning person. I’m quite fond of 5:00 in the afternoon because I have that time to myself. That’s when I’ll reread what I’ve written during the day. I usually stop writing and take a break around 3:30, then at 5:00 I’ll sit with a drink and reread what I wrote. I’m trying to cut down on gin and tonic, so it might be mineral water nowadays. [both chuckling]
If it is a warm day I'll sit outside under the umbrella by the pool, or if it's a bit fresh, I'll sit in my comfy chair. I love writing and editing; it doesn’t feel like work to me.
InD: Where is your favorite place to be?
CJA: Probably down by the pool, on a nice day, or up by my study in the wing-back chair in my ofOice. InD: Okay, last question, what is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Professional, personal, or even both?
CJA: I used to have a little sticky note that said, “Just go there.” I can’t remember where I Oirst saw it or who said it. It basically means don't be afraid. In writing, don't be afraid to take your character into a dark corner or a place where you think you can't write them out of, just go there and see what happens. It might be painful for the character, but the story will be better for it. The saying works in life as well. That bolder side of me telling the shy me to just get out there, be a bit braver and do things even if they’re scary. So it works on both levels.
InD: I think that is absolutely perfect!
Who did it?
What’s crawling on the ceiling?
Where are my car keys?
How many cookies are too many?
When will this Antique Roadshow marathon be over?
All the mysteries of life hang over us and creep into our lives nearly everyday, and when they do, they make us ask questions like the ones above.
Could that be one of the reasons we are so fascinated by the “whodunit” books, movies, and those damn reality shows that pick apart all the true-life crimes and reveal the psychopathic killer at the very end?
I think everyone probably has a secret wish to solve mysteries. If others can’t Oigure it out, maybe you’re the one person that can. It’s that inner sleuth which lurks inside so many of us.
Murder mysteries have always intrigued me. With all our new technology, the advances in DNA testing, and the whole Oield of forensics, it’s becoming easier to get
the facts and evidence on so many crimes, and we all look to people like Dexter (you know, the serial killing forensics ofOicer) to answer those annoying questions about the single hair or drop of sweat left at the scene. In so many novels and television shows, crime scene investigators will walk into a crime scene and tear everything apart, Oinding Oingerprints, nail clippings, blood splatter, hair Oibers, cigarette butts, and pretty much everything else that falls into the category of “clue”. You can commit what you think is the perfect crime and still get caught because you had to pee, and stupidly wrote your name in the snow a mile away from the actual scene. (DNA match to the residue from the sneeze over the murder weapon.)
No crime is perfect.
Today’s novels and shows make us realize and appreciate all the work Agatha Christie’s characters did when it came to solving the impossible crime. Everyday, we become Hercule Poirot (with or without the accent), Miss Marple, or the Beresfords (Tommy and Tuppence). Purists (and occasional violin fans) become Sherlock Holmes when approaching a mysterious event.
Example: You’re in an elevator, it’s crowded, and something foul circulates through the air as you are heading up to the 32nd Oloor. You gaze around the elevator and Oind yourself analyzing your fellow passengers.
Could it be the tall guy in the sweatsuit with his headphones playing loud enough for almost everyone in the tiny space to hear, and not realizing he had done it? Or maybe it was the mousy woman with her nose buried in a book. She looks very uptight and stressed, and you can detect the scent of coffee, with extra French vanilla cream. Perhaps being surrounded by so many people has over stressed her, with gaseous results? Or maybe it was the guy with the inner voice —the one narrating this scene?
Yeah, I’m sorry, it was me! Darn burritos. Anyway, getting back to my topic, it seems mysteries have always intrigued people, whether in tales told around a Oire, in books, or in any of today’s media. Throughout history we’ve relied on the greatest minds to solve so many of them. A lot of the time, common sense, and some moments of thought, have revealed the answers.
Bigfoot is an ongoing mystery who has millions of articles, books, television shows, and movies devoted to him. Personally, I think he is the greatest Hide and Seek player in history. He comes down from his mountain forests, every now and then, to buy lottery tickets and chili cheese Fritos from random gas stations, then vanishes again. I’m convinced that if his Mega Lotto numbers hit, his identity will Oinally be revealed.
It's puzzling that with the insanely precise cameras and the incredible technology out there, all we have seen is blurry and grainy photos and shadowy movies, or vague images of something walking in the forest. So many books play on this kind of theme, the writers brilliantly keep us guessing what will happen next. That's why we dread it when they build up to a climax, almost ready to reveal the villain, only to make us wait and turn another page. Why can't everything be revealed, before it becomes three o’clock in the morning, and I have to go to work?
The reader’s curse—"Just one more chapter!"— deOinitely applies to Mysteries.
I could go on all day with the many mysteries of life, and then, of course, there's all the ones in our history. The Pyramids, Egypt: Personally, I think it was alien kids’ Legos that their parents stepped on and tossed into the sand so they wouldn’t hurt their feet again on their way to the bathroom.
The Bermuda Triangle: That’s always been one of my favorite mysteries. Over time, the planes that were lost and the oddities that surround the area have always intrigued me. It seems like a perfect storm of weather, gravitational pull, and perhaps the Earth’s electric pulses, causing chaos. One day we will Oind out it is just a bunch of coincidences.
Then there are the Zodiac letters, with messages from
a twisted mind, only one has been solved. It makes those Sudoku masterminds scratch their heads. Maybe it was just a prank and they were random messages and letter combinations meaning something completely mundane. It could be a grocery list for all we know.
Not to take away anything from Bigfoot, but I have to mention the Loch Ness Monster. She suffers from the same issue that Bigfoot does. No good photos. Bummer, I would really like to see what this is.
Then there’s Stonehenge, a group of stones arranged in an odd pattern, that just happens to align with the sun. Maybe this was a giant troll’s child playing with blocks, who got bored and knocked them over as he walked away.
Atlantis is another interesting mystery. This could well have been a lesson in not believing your real estate agent when he says he has the perfect island property. Here’s an elaborate and amazing city, and the next thing you know, it sinks. Who would have thought that might happen?
There are so many mysteries we haven’t yet solved. D.B Cooper, extraterrestrials (I blame them for most things, because I think they do stuff and then laugh as we try to Oigure it out), disappearances, anomalies, mystic powers, and who was the Oirst person to crack open an oyster, slurp out the mucus-like glob in the middle and say “Yummy”? I’d like a word or two with him.
Ghosts and the “other side” have been one of the greatest mysteries for so many of us. Many people believe in spirits, but it is another thing to see one. Ghost stories tend to be darker, more sinister, and pretty scary.
I could make a list of all the mysteries listed on Google and give opinions (and make jokes) about most of them for a long time. There are so many books which delve into these things with great detail and mountains of research. Most of my research revolves around the mysterious effects of cookies and burritos on the human body.
The thing is, mysteries continue to intrigue us. The people who write them try to delve deep into this unknown, and the results make us think - and sometimes even question ourselves.
So I have to ask... do we really want to know who did it? Do we really want to know why? How about where it all happened? Was it the butler, with the candlestick, in the library? Get a clue.
The Ultimate Guide To POVBy: Jason Hamilton
The Ultimate Guide to Point of View by Jason Hamilton
If you're interested in writing, you've probably heard the term "point of view" thrown around a lot. But what exactly is point of view, and why is it so important in writing? Point of view, or POV, refers to the perspective from which a story is told. This means that the events of the story are seen and narrated through the eyes of a speciOic character, or sometimes even an outside observer.
But, why is POV important?
The choice of POV can have a big impact on how the reader perceives the story, and can even affect the way the reader connects with the characters. That's why it's important to carefully consider which point of view is the best Oit for your story.
In this guide, we'll be taking a closer look at the different types of point of view and how to choose the right one for your story.
There are multiple POVs you can choose to write in:
• First person
• Second person
• Third person limited
• Third person omniscient
• Fourth person (yes, this is a thing)
Let’s walk through each of these one by one.
1. First Person Point of View
First person point of view is a narrative mode in which the story is told from the perspective of a character using the pronouns "I", “me”, “mine”, etc. This means the events of the story are seen and narrated through the eyes of one character, and the reader is able to experience the story through their perspective.
Here are some examples of sentences written in Oirst person point of view:
• “I walked into the room and saw a strange man standing by the window.”
• “I decided to go for a hike in the mountains, even though it was raining.”
• “I couldn't believe what I was hearing - my best friend had betrayed me.”
You’ll see this type of writing all over Oiction, and certain types of nonOiction. See this example from "The Catcher in the Rye", by J. D. Salinger:
“If you really want to hear about it, the Oirst thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David
CopperOield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
In these examples, the story is being narrated by the character using Oirst person pronouns, allowing the reader to experience the events through their perspective.
It allows the reader to experience the story directly through the eyes of the narrator. Creates a strong sense of connection and intimacy. Provides a unique perspective and voice for the narration.
Great for introspective or self-reOlective stories. Can provide authority in nonOiction writing.
It can be limiting, as the reader is only able to see and experience what the narrator can see and experience. Can result in an unreliable narrator, where the reader cannot trust the narration based on the narrator’s bias (this is sometimes a good thing).
No objectivity or detachment.
It’s easy to fall into telling instead of showing.
2. Second Person Point of View
Second person point of view is a narrative mode in which the story is told from the perspective of "you". This means the narrator addresses the reader directly as "you" and describes the events of the story as if they are happening to the reader instead of the character. While uncommon in Oiction, you will see it in choose your own adventure novels, self-help books, or video game writing. Here are three examples of second person point of view:
• “You Oind yourself standing at the entrance of a dark, spooky cave. Do you…”
• "You can improve your conOidence by setting small, achievable goals."
• “You are a brave knight on a quest to defeat the evil sorcerer who has taken over the kingdom. You approach a fork in the road, and you see a sign that says…”
Usually, second person point of view is used in nonOiction or choose your own adventure books, but you will occasionally see it in Oiction, as with this popular example of "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas", by Tom Robbins:
"‘This is the worst day of my life,' you say, as you drop a salted peanut into your double martini—on better days, you drink white wine—and watch it sink. It spirals downward more slowly, more gracefully, than your own plunging fortunes, the pretty little gin bubbles that gather around the peanut a marked contrast to the lumps and burrs and stinging things that are attaching themselves to your heart."
It can be used to give the reader a sense of agency and control over the events of the story, such as in a choose your own adventure novel or video game.
It can create intimacy, connecting and talking directly to the reader.
It can make your book stand out.
It can result in a strong narrative voice.
It can be a little disconcerting in Oiction, use sparingly. Readers aren’t used to experiencing it outside of self-help books.
Because the narrator is addressing the reader directly as "you", the narrator's options for describing the events of the story are somewhat limited.
3. Third Person Limited Point of View
Third person limited point of view is a narrative mode in
which the story is told from the perspective of one character at a time, using third-person pronouns such as "he" or "she". It is one of the most common point of view techniques that authors use. The narrator only has access to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of this one character, and the reader is only able to see and understand the events of the story through their eyes. Here are three examples of third person limited point of view in action:
• “Alice walked down the street, her mind racing. She couldn't believe what had happened, she just couldn’t.”
• “Bob stared at the blank piece of paper in front of him, his heart pounding. Why couldn’t he write this novel like all the others?.”
• “Carol sat at her desk, her eyes glued to the computer screen.”
Third person limited, together with Oirst person, is the most common in literature. Here is one example from Orson Scott Card’s "Ender’s Game":
"But Ender knew, even as he thought it, that Peter wouldn’t leave him alone. There was something in Peter’s eyes, when he was in his mad mood, and whenever Ender saw that look, that glint, he knew that the one thing Peter would not do was leave him alone. I’m practicing piano, Ender. Come turn the pages for me. Oh, is the monitor boy too busy to help his brother? Is he too smart? Got to go kill some buggers, astronaut?"
It allows the narrator to focus on a single character at a time and explore that character's thoughts, feelings, and experiences in depth.
It is not tied to one character for the whole novel, and can jump from one to another in a scene break. It is easier for readers to understand.
Can maintain the mystery by not showing everything that everyone is thinking or experiencing in a scene, but provides more freedom than Oirst person. The narrative is more objective.
When compared to Oirst person, it can be harder to establish a strong personal connection between the reader and the characters.
It is harder to have a distinct voice.
4. Third Person Omniscient Point of View
Third person omniscient is a point of view in which the narrator is able to reveal the thoughts and feelings of all characters in the story all of the time. This allows for a broader view of the story and a more expansive understanding of the world and characters. In third person omniscient, the narrator is often referred to using pronouns such as "he", "she", "they", and "them", and is able to move freely between different characters and locations.
Here are three examples of third person omniscient point of view in action:
"Samantha stood at the edge of the cliff, gazing out at the ocean below. Little did she know that a storm was coming, one that would change her life forever."
"John sat at his desk, staring at the blank piece of paper in front of him. He knew he had to complete this assignment soon, but all he wanted was to be with Rebecca. She wanted the same, though she wouldn’t admit it.."
"The sun was setting on the small town of Willow Creek, casting a warm glow over the houses and trees. But little did they know that a dark secret was lurking in the shadows, one that would soon be revealed."
One of the more famous examples of third person omniscient is in Frank Herbert’s "Dune":
Damn that Jessica! the Reverend Mother thought. If only she'd borne us a girl as she was ordered to do!
Jessica stopped three paces from the chair, dropped a small curtsy, a gentle Zlick of left hand along the line of her skirt. Paul gave the short bow his dancing master had taught— the one used "when in doubt of another's station."
The nuances of Paul's greeting were not lost on the Reverend Mother. She said: "He's a cautious one, Jessica."
Jessica's hand went to Paul's shoulder, tightened there. For a heartbeat, fear pulsed through her palm. Then she had herself under control. "Thus he has been taught, Your Reverence.”
What does she fear? Paul wondered.
Third person omniscient point of view allows the
narrator to provide a more comprehensive view of the story and its characters.
It allows for the use of dramatic irony, where the narrator and the readers know something other characters do not, and creates a sense of tension and suspense.
The narrator can be part of the story, as they are in J. R. R. Tolkien’s "The Hobbit".
It comes with a lot of freedom in what the narrator can say/do.
It can limit the intimacy between the reader and the characters, and can undermine the credibility of the story by making it difOicult for the reader to follow along.
It often leads to a lot of telling instead of showing. “Head-hopping,” or rapidly switching from one character perspective to another, can be disconcerting and throw the reader out of the story.
There is almost too much freedom, stiOling creativity. Sometimes limits can actually help you be more creative in your writing.
5. Fourth Person Point of View
Fourth person point of view is a type of storytelling perspective in which the narrator refers to themselves using "we" and "us". This point of view is less commonly used, but can give the impression that the narrator is speaking on behalf of a group of people, rather than as an individual. It is therefore an effective tool in motivational speeches.
Here are some examples of fourth person point of view in action:
"We live in a world where technology has advanced far beyond what we ever thought possible. We are connected to each other and to the world around us in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago."
“We set off early in the morning, full of excitement and anticipation. The journey was long and difZicult, but we were determined to make it to our destination.”
While not common for the entirety of a novel, you will often see fourth person point of view in certain parts of a larger book, especially in Oirst person point of view books. For example, see this quote from "Weightless", by Sarah Bannan:
“We shifted on the bleachers. Wiped the sweat from the backs of our necks, let out breaths that lifted our bangs from our faces. We tried to cool down however we could.”
It’s unique, and it expands the possibilities you have in your novel. Using it in key moments (such as a character’s speech), can be useful.
It expands your possibilities, giving you another arrow in your storytelling quiver
Using it for the entire piece will be jarring for readers, can make it difOicult to identify with readers, and it limits your publishing options.
It’s harder to identify with characters.
Which will you use?
The choice of point of view in writing can impact the reader's perception of the story and their connection with the characters, so it’s very important. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is important for writers to carefully consider which POV is best for their story.
Hopefully this guide was helpful in making your decision.
If you’re looking to learn more on point of view or a variety of other subjects, I recommend checking out kindlepreneur.com, one of the Internet’s best resources on learning to write, self-publish, and market your books.
Entertain and Surprise Me!
Certain genres have gained or lost popularity over the years, certain trends have brought a particular kind of book forward at one time or another, but in the process, I can often feel like I’ve been there, read that.
While most of us will always enjoy certain types of books—for me, it will be Regency and Victorian Romance, Paranormal Romance, and Cozy Mysteries of all kinds—after a while, we have certain expectations for those books, and very few new ones tend to stand out from the crowd. The sudden surge of newer sub-genres have brought some interest, but even these book waves require certain factors to stand out.
For example, the LITRPG genre, in which the main character Oinds themselves either through death or some sort of VR tech, living inside a video game or video game-like world, has become a recent trend in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. The idea of a character getting a second chance at life in a game/world that measures success through levels and skills appeals to game-loving types.
However, after a couple of years reading these books, one becomes more picky. It’s no longer enough for the main character to Oight a bunch of monsters, level up and defeat the big bad. Instead, they must do something else too, establish a guild, build and defend a town, or something equally creative to balance the Oighting. Some readers aren’t as critical and can easily look at and appreciate the continuance of a simple plot.
However, some of the most successful and reader-favorite books are not the most technically well-written, so why would a book that is more simply written stand out in a crowd of more eloquently prosed novels?
In a nutshell, an amazing book today which makes most readers rave about it or reread it should be like my husband, so interesting, I married him to keep him from getting away!
What makes a book so interesting?
As a reader of almost three decades, and a reviewer of almost a third of those years, I admit to becoming a bit more critical and jaded about new books
First, such a book needs to be clever. The characters can be obviously Olawed, but they can never be wishy-washy. For example, love triangles are common in Romance books, but not if one of the characters is playing with the other two instead of simply needing to decide. Cheating is never romantic. Taking the time to build a relationship with the Hero or Heroine is both clever and sexy.By: Sarah McEachron
Plots also need a twist that makes sense. Mysteries need realistic but have smart solutions, Sci-Fi tech and Fantasy magic need to be believable. Historical novels need to Oit the time period and Suspense/Thrillers need to walk the emotion edge of tension, without repulsion. Action books need interesting Oighting styles, intelligent battle plans, and reasonable danger.
All of them need aspects that may not have been explored in quite the same way before.
Second, the book needs to be entertaining. For example, pretty
much every genre can have a touch of humor somewhere. Even the darkest Fantasy and the most suspenseful Thrillers can add a bit of dark humor that will make the reader smirk at the “gotcha” moment. For lighter stories, such as Historical and Contemporary Romances, humor makes the characters more interesting. It gives a character depth to have a clear sense of humor or a keen sense of the absurd, and adds to the believability that would make the signiOicant other fall in love. A handsome face or beautiful eyes can only go so far if conversation is Olat.
Third, a book needs to make a reader blush or bite. No matter the genre, a romantic relationship adds to the addict-ability. This doesn’t mean the story needs Oive steam sex or gruesome bits. It means that at some point in any relationship, the characters make one go Awww, or WOW, or Eeeeh, basically make that heart thump or jump. If there are no sparks, no sizzle, no moment of ‘these characters are made for each other’ (especially true in Romance) then it’s a crush, which means no long-term interest.
Book Boyfriends come from a reader falling so much for a character, they wish they were real. The kind of magnetism these characters possess bring readers, myself included, back to the series again and again, no matter what genre we are reading. And, like my husband sometimes, it’s because the character’s too darn sweet, but sometimes it’s because they are the boss taking charge and getting things done.
Finally, the book needs to surprise the reader! Many authors develop a formula for their books that fans like. For example, a Contemporary series about a small town where each book follows a different brother or girl or mystery or murder. Perhaps a Mystery author gets into a groove where the detective solves all the mysteries through clues and interviews, and a keen eye then presents their Oindings to all the suspects, like Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. These formulas are fun and satisfying. In everyday life, they even bring a smile to the reader’s face. But, if readers are going to rave about it, the book needs to be the Oirst Date Night after having a baby. Something longed for and exciting, even if it’s short! The
reader knows what they are getting with a formula and generally wants exactly that, but if the books in a series are going to rate high, they need to either create a new plot idea or have some sort of extra twist to make it stand out, despite the pattern and formula.
For example, one of my favorite series involves a group of friends in the 1920s. They are 'Bright Young Things' who solve mysteries by mostly interviewing suspects, and then using intuition to trick the criminal into confessing. There are no clear lines of clues, and half the time I have no idea where the author is going with the mystery until it’s all revealed. However, the emotions and friendships between the characters are so engrossing, I ignore all the Olaws in the logic, the simple writing, and the formula, and read the pre-
ordered books as soon as they hit my Kindle at midnight!
Finding a book that is clever, funny, blush worthy, and surprising is a lot like kissing a lot of frogs in search of an enchanted prince. Thankfully reviewers help speed up the process for readers by going through the latest releases and giving readers a
heads up about what they might discover inside the pages.
But, like a fairy tale, sorting the good books from the amazing ones is worth it, in the end. Readers shouldn’t expect to get the prince on the Oirst try, but once the good ones are found, all those frogs will be worth it!
Rising Star Spotlight
Breakfield & Burkey
Have you ever wished for someone to help you write a book? Have you ever wondered how hard or easy it would be to have a writing partner? How do you 9ind one and how do two completely different people actually succeed at writing award winning books? Well, just talk to Rox Burkey and Charles Break9ield! They’ve been doing just that and producing some of the most tightly written and readable stories on the market today!
Before becoming co-authors, you spent decades working in information systems and technology. What is that? Tell us about it, so we understand!
We have both worked for leading manufacturers in the telecom industry. For example, one company provided equipment to AT&T, Verizon, Telus, British Telecom, and businesses worldwide. Communications evolved to uniOied communications, which opened the doors to the most common device uses like mobile phones and laptops that communicate around and through the Internet.
Information systems, think of it as data—shared far and wide. The content might be Oinancial details, air travel tickets, inventories, payrolls, images like photos, and my least favorite, the IRS. Governments, all sizes of
businesses, and individuals handle an enormous amount of data. Over time, the amount of data expanded, especially with the advent of social media. Data sources, like your bank, can work with a company to handle payroll or bill paying. Years ago, paper copies made up the information of customers, sales, etc. Data records kept by a business maintained security through isolation, yet it often took weeks for a person to gain a copy of something. That is not the case in our digital world. Records today are digitized, with data lakes holding vast amounts of information. Security is the most critical aspect of data handling today. Individuals want their health status, wealth, relationships, and hundreds of other elements shared only by permission. The obligation to tag or mark
information as private requires continual changes to data sources to maintain.
Our professional careers center on helping a myriad of enterprises understand how to meet the demands of their customers for data access to conduct business and maintain privacy. We have worked across the technology spectrum with changes that once occurred annually to nearly immediately. Think about how patient you are when you want an answer from your credit card provider—another information system.
Is that the career you dreamed of as a child? If not, what was your dream?
Rox: I originally wanted to design clothing and ran a small business around that for a short time. During early college years, I began working for a payroll organization automating weekly payrolls to thousands upon thousands of workers. That marked the beginning of my curiosity with technology and information systems. I learned about a variety of businesses and helped shaped many business operations.
I married, my children arrived, and life changed. My family was priority one. I also enjoyed my work, learning more each day. We had set goals that needed a two-income family. Soon I realized the future was in technology. If I was to Oind my place in this arena, I required more education. I decided that returning to college and Oinishing my education, even with my young family, was critical to succeed in the technology arena. It was a tough life/work balance for several years.
Charles: At one point, I wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps as a Oighter pilot. The dream turned to ashes with a vision check. Without perfect eyesight at that time, it was a non-starter for acceptance to the Air Force Academy. After two years in college, I struck out into the business world.
I launched my comic and book distribution company. Once it grew beyond the usual cigar box accounting methods, I knew I had to computerize all the customer records. The sales volume made it clear I needed to match their orders to the incoming products. I stepped into the world of digital processing and never looked back.
What were you like as a child?
Rox: I loved playing outside in our small-town
neighborhood. Baseball was the best. I played catcher for a couple of years as my brother and the other boys didn’t want me on their team because I was short. I could catch and throw the ball fairly accurately, so they let me play.
I ran around with the other kids enjoying each season of the year. In Spring, we planted Olowers and picked weeds. Summer, we’d grab raspberries from the neighbors’ bushes - covertly of course. Fall, we raked leaves and messed them up with jumping and extensive trick-or-treating. Winter required snowmen and forts with freezing Oights for territory.
I recall borrowing paint from the garage to make the swing set pretty. I got in trouble for instigating the event because my girlfriends and I had more enamel on us than the swing set. It looked great. Mom solved my curiosity by getting me into Brownies and later Girl Scouts. I earned every badge and learned so many items I still use today.
Charles: I grew up with my two brothers on Air Force bases across the United States and Europe. I didn’t know people didn’t live out of packing boxes until I was thirteen.
My parents taught me to live honorably and the meaning of that word early. As the oldest, I helped my brothers during each move. We also learned how to shoot competitively, winning recognition and trophies while living in Europe.
I was fascinated by World War II history and built every battleship, armored personnel carrier, and airplane model I could get my hands on. Growing up in a weapons-oriented household, my favorite artifact from that time is the Panzer mark VI (Tiger Tank) that still sits on my desk today. I also read every World War II book I can Oind with authors from commentary on the moral high ground for honorable people, which is at the heart of the R-Group.
After so long in the technology 4ields, what prompted you to write books?
When we worked at the same technology manufacturer, leadership requested we contribute to technical manuals. At the same time, Rox got asked by a publisher to create non-Oiction books. We delivered two non-Oiction titles. Sadly, quadrupling changes in the information age, they became outdated weeks following their release. But the ah-ha moment had arrived—we discovered we could write together.
When those non-Oiction books sold minimal copies, Charles said he didn’t want to spend the time writing technical books with all the real-time experience through work. A few months later, Rox sent a start to what became the Oirst Oiction book in the Enigma Series for Charles’ review. The clincher for the deal to write Oiction was when she said; we use the technology we know, add fun story elements, and create evil characters from those personalities who annoy us and kill them.
We enjoy writing the technothrillers, which includes new capabilities in our connected world. The backstories fans have asked about, readers can Oind as ebook short stories.
How is writing books different or the same as Tech?
We enjoy learning the latest on-the-edge capabilities of an application, cloud networking, security, and artiOicial intelligence usage in our jobs. Through our work, we often see things before they get released to individuals or businesses.
Writing Oictional stories allows us to take digitally connected capabilities and apply them to contemporary situations. We create characters to interact between our covers with lives, dreams, loves, and ambitions—good and evil. The characters are Oictional (mainly), but the technology is accurate. For example, we take a simple statement like changing your passwords often, making them different across your applications. A statement like that feels like a lecture. Folks, especially those under 20, nod and walk away.
If we take the storytelling posture and show the results of what occurs when someone hacks into your bank account, your social media, or your laptop, an ahha moment happens.
Some anonymous hacker controls you. A cyber creep owns your bank account numbers, credit card numbers, health history, and more. With a story of a character experiencing this situation, readers start making suitable changes to avoid a similar situation.
How did you acquire a writing partner?
As noted above, we have written together for more than 15 years. We wrote dozens of white papers, technical pieces for manuals, and the non-Oictional
work that was stale shortly after release. We found an electronic ability to maintain our story details, like characters, locations, and even chapter titles, to intrigue readers.
Together we deliver a better story than if we write independently. We can bounce plot ideas between conversations; wow, what do you think of this cloud provider’s applications or their security?
Our stories sound like one voice. Our collaborative ability is the magic we deliver as co-authors.
Is that relationship personal or strictly professional?
Rox: Our relationship is personal and professional— we are best friends. I hired Charles to work at my company many moons ago. I became the godmother to his youngest daughter when I got the insurance company to accept Charles’ claim for his daughter’s hospital costs.
The corporate/political winds did not favor either of us for long. I wound up as contract support for two government agencies and helped Charles relocate to a position with a different government agency. Charles relocated again and helped hire me into a well-known high-tech telecom company. There we worked together, delving into business problems for organizations worldwide. The shifts in technology drivers resulted in job changes which sent us into different tech roles, primarily to grow our professional careers.
Our writing partnership grew and was a signiOicant outlet for work changes. Our LLC partnership got established in 2014. Our families are very close. The rest is history in the making, as they say!
What is the process when writing with a coauthor?
We begin each story by identifying a problem or threat by technology. Funny, but often months after a book gets released, we Oind headlines that amount to the theme. Next, we outline the direction we want to take the tale, along with the top protagonists and antagonists. We rough out a few chapters, each leading the charge on one or another. Then we share the drafts to polish and gain a single voice.
One key element is ensuring each story can stand independently, but they are richer within the series.
We use our patent pending writing technique entitled Literary Badminton. The process begins with the four most terrifying words in our vocabulary; “I have an idea…” The words can occur almost any time of day, though frequently upon waking.
One of us begins writing on that idea or chapter and then bats it over to the other via email. This iterative process continues until we have a highly polished character or chapter module that gets bolted into the current story.
What are the pros and cons of having one?
The pros include the gender perspectives of the character in dialogue or actions. For instance, “Charles, no female on the planet would say that! Here let me modify it.” In contrast, the challenge might be, “Rox, that’s too wimpy for any male to state. It needs masculine words like bulldozer, pipe-wrench, and twoton trucks.”
The cons remain version control while the manuscript gets batted back and forth using Literary Badminton. Regardless of our care in renaming Oiles with dates, we have been caught missing something. We learn this during reviews.
If a version is lost or the wrong one is updated, each of us thinks the other has gone insane until the problem gets rectiOied. These can be, um, tense discussions while the manuscript gets repaired.
What is the biggest thing you have learned on your journey?
We know one thing above all; trust in one another is vital even when we disagree. Promises are made and kept. We conduct honest communications when needed, even multiple times on a given day. We share a sense of pride in our storytelling efforts and deliver our best. We have improved over time, and will continue to do so. Business partners and friends—we Oind that a positive from any perspective. What dreams do you still hope to accomplish?
We are still aiming at the stars and hope one day to see their work on the silver screen. After our years of writing together, it would be most gratifying to have people point to us and call us overnight sensations. We don’t want to get called late to the table.
A Lighter Look At Oscar Writing
The Academy Awards, commonly known as the Oscars, are scheduled to be presented on March 12, 2023. Let’s discuss them a little, as they pertain to writing, and give you some fun facts!
The average Oscar viewer is arguably most interested in the 'Big 6' awards—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Supporting Actor.
However, as a writer, and in a magazine devoted to writing, I think it’s appropriate to focus on the Oscars for writing. Since the Oirst Awards for movies released in 1927-28, there have been many changes. Initially, there was just one per Award ceremony for 'Writing'. At points in the Academy’s history, there was one for 'Best Story', or for those who didn’t actually write the screenplay. (This was discontinued after 1956.)
The modern Awards are for Best Original Screenplay, for those the writer(s) who create wholly on their
own, and for Best Adapted Screenplay, which is based on a previous work, usually a short story, novel, or play. Now, let’s talk about some Oscar writing fun facts.
Frances Marion was the Oirst woman to win an Adapted Screenplay Oscar way back in 1930, as she shared the credit for “The Big House”. Ms. Marion was also one of the more proliOic scribes. She totaled 300 screenplays, of which, 130 were Oilmed, which is extremely impressive, given Hollywood’s history of sexism.
Larry McMurtry holds a weird screenwriting distinction. To date, he’s the only person who both adapted another person’s work which won for 2005's “Brokeback Mountain”, co-written with Diana Ossana,By: Paul Stansﬁeld
based on Annie Proulx’s book, and has also had someone else win the Oscar for adapting his own book. James L. Brooks won in 1983 for adapting McMurtry’s 1975 novel, “Terms of Endearment”.
Emma Thompson is the only person to both win an Oscar for acting—Best Actress for 1992’s “Howard’s End”*—and for Adapted Screenplay for 1995’s “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen. Several others were close, though. Among them:
Billy Bob Thorton, who won for adapting 1996’s “Slingblade” while being nominated for Best Actor for the same movie, and was nominated again for Best Supporting Actor for 1998’s “A Simple Plan”.
Sir Alec Guinness won Best Actor for 1957’s “Bridge on the River Kwai” and was nominated for adapting 1958’s “The Horse’s Mouth”.
Ruth Gordon—the old lady from “Harold and Maude” and the two "Any Which Way" Clint Eastwood movies —won Best Supporting Actress for 1968’s “Rosemary’s Baby” and was nominated, with her husband, three times for Best Original Screenplay for 1947’s “A Double Life”, 1949’s “Adam’s Rib”, and 1952’s “Pat and Mike”.
John Huston was nominated seven times for Adapted and Original Screenplays—winning for 1949’s “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”—and nominated once for Best Supporting Actor for 1964’s “The Cardinal”.
He also was nominated Oive times for Best Director, and won once, for “Sierra Madre".
It’s not uncommon for Oscar nominees to adapt their own plays or musicals for the screen, but it’s much rarer for authors to adapt their own novels, and of those, most of them work with someone else, usually the director, to Oinish the screenplay. To date, only four people have adapted their own books, by themselves, and won the Academy Award:
William Peter Blatty, for 1973’s “The Exorcist”, novel written in 1971.
Michael Blake, for 1990’s “Dances With Wolves”, novel written in 1988.
John Irving, for 1999’s “The Cider House Rules” from his 1985 novel.
Emma Donahue, who’s 2010 novel “Room” won in 2015.
James Kennaway, for 1960’s “Tunes of Glory”; Michael Tolkien, for 1992’s “The Player”; and Scott Smith, for 1998’s “A Simple Plan” were nominated.
You could also make a case for Nicholas Meyer for 1976’s nominated “The Seven-Per Cent Solution”, but he was using Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters.
Finally, Pierre Boulle was credited with the win for adapting 1957’s “Bridge on the River Kwai” from his own novel, but Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman
actually wrote the screenplay, Boulle was just the front during the Red Scare days.
Back in the very early days of the Awards, there were different rules for numbers of nominees. In 1928-1929, there were 11 writing based nominees, of which, four were written by one man, Elliot J. Clawson (“The Cop”, “The Leatherneck”, “Sal of Singapore”, and “Skyscraper”) Even with all these chances, though, he didn’t win.
Only two comic books (aka graphic novels) have been nominated for an Oscar; 2001’s “Ghost World” by Daniel Clowes, screenplay by Clowes and Terry Zwigoff; and 2017’s “Logan” by Mark Miller and Steve McNiven, screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green.
Woody Allen holds the record for most writing nominations, and it’s not even close. He’s been nominated 16 times, all for original screenplays. He also holds the record for most wins of Best Original Screenplay, with three. Additionally, he was nominated as Director seven times (one win), and for Best Actor once, didn’t win. He qualiOies as an *almost* for #3 on this list.
Paddy Chayefesky and Billy Wilder also won three writing Oscars total, some were Best Adapted Screenplay and some were Best Original Screenplay.
2020’s “Borat Subsequent MovieOilm” holds the record for most writers for a nominated screenplay. It took eight writers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, and Lee Kern.
Mario Puzo actually got two adapted screenplay Oscars (with Francis Ford Coppola) for one book, since “The Godfather” novel was used for 1972’s movie and partially for 1974’s “Godfather 2”, which also required some new material. Finally, and this may be my favorite bit of writing trivia, a non-existent person once received a nomination. In 2002’s “Adaptation”, a meta-tale of Charlie Kaufman adapting a book into a screenplay, one of the main characters is Charlie’s twin brother, Donald. The screenplay is credited to both, only Charlie actually exists.
* At the risk of being juvenile, this had to also be one of the easiest, if not the easiest movie titles to turn into its porn parody name, with absolutely no changes necessary.
Does The Idea of Book Marketing Make you Anxious?
A big part of your pitch to publishers is demonstrating that you have an established audience. As an independent author, marketing falls squarely on your shoulders.
Many resources are available to help you learn marketing strategy, create paid advertising, and build an audience. Some are step-by-step, some conceptual, and some are done-for-you paid services. How you approach marketing will vary based on your audience, budget, experience, goals, and your motivation for the task.
As with many aspects of self-publishing, you'll hear many absolutes when researching a topic. You must do ‘X’ to be successful or ‘Follow my step-by-step best seller process’, and some of them may be very successful or helpful, but self-publishing can be a very personal journey, and your goals may not mirror those of the people giving advice.
Investing time or money into something that isn’t a good Oit for you and doesn’t produce the expected results can be pretty defeating. If you’re at the very beginning of your publishing journey, start with some introspection:
How are you most comfortable engaging with people in general? Are you a storyteller who thrives in front of a live audience? Is social media more your jam? Is there a particular platform (or two) that you’re on daily? Do you engage in online forums or groups? Perhaps you’re really good at direct sales.
Find one thing you’re good at, and that you enjoy. That’s where you’ll begin building your foundation. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t move out of your comfort zone or expand into different platforms or spaces. You should… once you’ve developed consistent and repeatable strategies. And it’s easiestBy: Tamara Cribley
One of the most intimidating responsibilities for authors is marketing. We think of it as a task solely for independent authors, but even traditionally published authors have at least some degree of responsibility for marketing.
to build that in an environment where you’re already comfortable and thriving.
Building an audience is much more than hawking your book. Chances are, once someone buys your book, they won’t buy the same book over and over, but creating a relationship between reader and author by engaging them with content can lead to future sales. Readers who like you and the content you produce are much more likely to share and continue sharing within their circles. Even if you have only one book, creating (non-salesy) content about you and your book can pay off as you build your audience.
Before we dive into content, let’s talk strategy. Effective marketing requires consistency. We live in a society of information overload: media, emails, newsletters, advertising, social media, social networks… and so much more. Trying to stand out among the chaos is like whispering in a crowded stadium and expecting to be invited on stage. To get to that stage, you need to catch their attention and be memorable. Consistency and repetition make you memorable, and what makes you unique helps you stand out.
Why are consistency and repetition important? Because, among the information overload, the things we remember are things we see and experience over and over. Many proliOic authors post daily or several times a day to stay at the top of readers’ social feeds. That requires a great deal of time and effort. If you have family, hobbies, a full-time job, or all the above, chances are you don’t have time to be so proliOic. What do you have time for? Realistically.
Can you reliably post on your Facebook author page twice a week? If social media isn’t your jam, but you go to a weekly meetup where people get together to hike and socialize, can you Oind a way to create regular engagement there? Maybe you can bring book-
inspired snacks to share with everyone each week or share the ‘gossip’ about what your main character would be doing this weekend if he was in your circle of friends.
Have you ever created backstories for interesting people you encounter in your daily life? What if they lived in your books? If you’re the direct sales type, can you go out each month and talk to independent bookstores or gift shops which might be interested in carrying your book? Maybe you can collaborate on book events with a twist—create a craft project or a signature cocktail. Get creative, so stores see how your book appeals to their customers.
Whatever the plan is, it needs to get you in front of your audience often enough to remember you’re there.
So, how does one rise above the chaos, especially when starting? What makes you unique? Maybe you’re quirky, creative, and artistic. Are you a grandmotherly type who gives excellent advice over a home-cooked meal? Are you exceptional at Oinding obscure facts people Oind fascinating? What draws your circle of friends and family to you?
Use that. Use what comes naturally to you and Oind a way to leverage it to build content for your written world. That sounds easy, but it might take some creative thinking before you develop a plan that both resonates with you, and that you can reproduce consistently.
Creating content is generally reserved for those posting on social media or who might have newsletters, so most of what I’ll talk about here will
relate to that type of engagement, but if you have a great platform elsewhere to share content regularly, do it!
Asking friends and family to buy your book can be just as uncomfortable as being asked to buy the book. It’s a relatively ineffective tool, especially if they’re not your target audience. While they might be rooting for your success, they’re not likely to be engaged or sharing over the long term. You need to build your audience, aka, the people who will read and love your writing for what it is.
At a very high level, content might be about three things: You and what inspires you to write; The story, characters, and setting of your writing; And writerly things.
I generally think of ‘writerly things’ as being memes. Maybe about writer’s block or word count… as a writer, you’ve seen them, you know what I’m talking about. Of the three, I think these are great added content that many readers (and perhaps aspiring writers) can relate to, but they don’t generate book sales or increase the audience for your book.
Share you. Through technology and social media, fans and creators can connect in ways that weren’t possible in the past. In days of yore, you might have written a letter to your favorite author and received a form letter back, maybe with a signed bookmark. Today, @madeupname, with 1.4 Million TikTok followers, might stitch your BookTok video. Readers like to engage with authors. Getting to know you and what inspires you, is appealing. It lets readers feel like they have the inside track. They get bragging rights… so don’t be afraid to share what makes you tick and inspires you to write.
And that thing which makes you unique, use it when you share about yourself. Are you a foodie who writes Historical Oiction? Talk about delicacies we Oind strange today. Do you write Contemporary Oiction with a strong female lead? What is it about strong women that inspires you? Are you an indigenous author? Share your culture and language. Do you write on controversial or sensitive topics? What makes them important to you, and how do they show up in your life?
Share your literary world. Go beyond what is in the book. Who are your characters? Do you celebrate their birthdays, share their favorite foods, and mock their pet peeves? Have you used real places in your book, or perhaps real places inspire them? Share interesting facts and photographs from them. Do you write Science Fiction? What’s the real or conceptual science behind happenings in your book? Share the story behind the story.
You’ve done some introspection, picked your platform, and embraced what makes you unique. Your creative juices are Olowing, and you have great ideas for content. You know what you can realistically accomplish on the regular.
Now, make a plan.
Whether sitting down once a week to create and post your content, or writing a month’s worth in one day and then using a scheduling tool to share it, make a plan. You have created a manageable and repeatable strategy that Oits you and your goals.
What if it doesn’t work? Most marketing and engagement strategies take time, and sometimes they require tweaking. Maybe you need to change your content a bit and add some variety. You might need to broaden your reach to Oind your ideal audience. Join me next month for ways to review and build upon the foundation you have started. Regardless of the path that gets you there, your genuine, authentic self will resonate with the right audience. Your job is to Oind them.
You’re invited to join the Professional Indie Publishing Roundtable. If you’d like to be part of the conversation with industry pros and other independent authors, join me for periodic virtual meetings each month. Be part of the conversation, ask questions, and share your experiences, challenges, and successes. Visit www.DeliberatePage.com/Roundtable to sign up for meeting access details and information.
***Heading into her no-work days, Yana’s attacks have intensiﬁed, but being watched over by Donal and the Guardian has allowed them to instantly heal her unseen – but deﬁnitely felt – wounds. Astonished by her intuitive knowledge of what to do and when to do it, the Guardian’s questioning of Donal and Yana’s activities as Spirits has come into play. With little working as it should, all anyone can hope is that the Laws are ﬁxed. Soon.***
Having spent the night watching over Yana, Donal glanced at the light beginning to glow through small gaps in the shades. Running a hand down his face, he didn’t need to see the Guardian’s look in order to answer it. “I’m not comfortable leaving her,” he said. “The attacks come at all hours and don’t make much sense in what they are or where they’re coming from.”
“While this is true, the fact that we cannot see them coming until they hit should worry you more than when or where she will be hit,” the Guardian
countered, still sitting stoically in the chair next to a sleeping Yana.
“I’ll give you that, grudgingly,” Donal answered. Taking a side-eyed view of the Guardian, he commented, “I really wish, for once, that something akin to tired, or even as small as sleepy, would cross your visage.”
“Unlikely. I do not get tired,” the Guardian answered.
“I’m going to tell Emme that you lied,” Donal teased. “There is no way you don’t need some kind of rest.”
“I did not say I did not need rest. I said I do not get tired.”
“Now you know you’re going to have to explain that. Every being gets tired,” Donal held his hand up to stop the response, “except AIs. Those buggers, whether mechanical or elemental, never stop. I don’t know how they do it.”
“They are built that way,” the Guardian said with a shrug.
“You truly want an answer?”
“First of all, I make sure that I rest and reenergize long before I physically require it, to avoid looking like you do right now. And secondly,” he pulled a hand sized device from somewhere with a twist of his left wrist, “I have one of these.”
“What is that?” Donal asked, desperately trying to withhold from grabbing it and tearing it apart to see how it worked.
“It is a recharger,” the Guardian said, Olicking it back into non-existence.
“Wait, you plug yourself into that?” Donal snickered. “Are you certain you’re not an AI in a Spirit form?” Donal watched closely, waiting for a reaction to his teasing. “Really? Not one reaction? Come now, that’s an amusing thought.” He paused, “Actually, that’s an amazing thought. Why didn’t Yana and I think of that before and try it out?” he Oinished, muttering to himself.
“You do realize, one day, that you will have to confess all you did, whether Spirit, Mortal, or Incorrupt, in order to Progress?” the Guardian asked, raised eyebrow the only hint stating his unease at one day knowing all the two of them had managed to get away with for so long.
Donal waved him off. “Ppfftt, we have way larger issues to tackle than what Yana and I may or may not have... accomplished... as Spirits.”
The Guardian did not answer, and though uneasy at the black eyed gaze, Donal refused to look directly at him or shrink away. Instead, he stared through the shade’s gap, noting that the sun was fully above the horizon. “If you tell Kit to come over, will she listen? And come?”
A small smirk played at his lips. “She is terriOied of me,” the Guardian said. “She will do whatever I tell her to do.”
Turning to see if that was whole truth, Donal quipped, “Those eyes would terrify any Mortal in their right minds.”
“Which is why most only hear or sense my presence, but do not see,” he answered. “Kit is most... unusual. I have not had to say much to her, regardless. She has studied and learned her lessons well, for a Mortal, and her belief is solid for one so young.”
“I’m glad she listened, and is so attuned,” Donal said somberly. “I can’t imagine Yana going through this with no understanding because her hearing and sensing have been...”
“Destroyed?” the Guardian offered.
“Manipulated is what I was going to say. Do you know something I don’t? Stop. Don’t answer, of course you know things I don’t, but with Yana, everything
that I don’t?” Donal asked.
“Much of the Mortal systems, and a few elements, that allow for hearing, sensing, occasionally seeing, but most importantly, feeling what my words and presences bring, have not been manipulated. They are,” he hesitated, “missing.”
“Missing? As in not there at all? Gone?”
With a shrug, the Guardian answered, “More like… removed.”
“What... removed... but... I...” Donal sputtered. Sitting forward, the Guardian said, “Don’t ask how, I do not know. Many things are possible to do to a Mortal form. It is the most highly manipulative form there is, you know that.” He paused. “But you did not
“Those eyes would terrify any Mortal in their right minds.”
know that it was designed that way so that it would be the hardest part of the Path, the form that guides, and challenges, and weighs the most on the Path of Progress. Mortals are allowed to do all sorts of madness to their forms, to see what they will do to themselves and others when they cannot remember who they were.”
He sat back, drawing sigils into the arms of the chair again. “Removal is possible. However, it must be the Mortal’s choice. It cannot be done for them.”
“Except it has.” Donal motioned to Yana. “There’s no way she would do that to herself.”
“She did not. At Ebbe’s request, I went into her form’s past, from birth to now. There is nothing at all telling me that this was her choice. So yes, it has been done,
Donal called up a portal, leaving a copy of his timepiece next to Yana’s bedside, a link to her location. He hoped it would be enough for him to get back, without a portal landing him inside the sun, or one of the moons instead.
Tingling the length of her Oinger woke Yana from a dreamless, restless, sleep. Stretching, and still feeling the ache of healing muscles all over, her left hand was getting heavy. Groaning, and making a futile attempt to roll over by grabbing at her headrail, she couldn’t stand the weight anymore, and chucked the heavy whatever-it-was, aiming at the gap between her shades.
Kit’s terriOied eyes met Yana’s as they both screamed at each other.
“What are you doing here?” Yana yelled, recovering faster from her fright than Kit.
Mouth opening and closing a few times while grasping the door frame, Kit’s voice quavered. “The Guardian told me you needed me to come over, so I did. The entrance was not locked.”
“I... wait, yes it was. I remember locking it before crashing in bed,” Yana answered. Standing back up, having stumbled back into the bed, she said, “I don’t need... what in cold ochu now?” she said, Olicking her right hand a bit at the numbness creeping up from her Oingertips.
“Don’t wave that around!” Kit shouted, launching herself from the door frame to grab Yana’s right hand and hold it steady. “How can you be so careless with that?”
“Just like it shouldn’t be possible for portals, elements, and communications to go crazy and decide not to function,” Donal said with a snort. “Indeed.” After a few minutes, the Guardian stood. “I send a thought to Kit so that she comes over here within a short time.” Black eyes stared directly into blue-green ones. “We must go. The knowledge I have of the other Guardian has a shortened time where we may act on it. As alil of the Leveler, you have the rights and ability to tap into her, should we need it.”
“If what you think you know is true, we’ll need it,” Donal answered.
With a curt nod, the Guardian’s gaze drifted, eyes half closed, telling Kit she was needed at Yana’s.
“With what? I don’t see anything!” Yana was losing her limited patience.
Kit looked up curiously. “Really? Still? But...” Kit trailed off. Standing up straighter but still holding onto her wrist, she continued, “If you can’t see anything... but you looked down, you had to notice something.”
“I didn’t say I didn’t notice anything, I said I don’t see anything. When I woke up, there was something heavy weighing against my left hand’s Oingers, and it kept getting heavier the longer I was awake, so I rolled halfway over, saw the gap of light from the shades, and,” Yana paused. She’d never told anyone about her zings. “My whole life, when I need to hear something, pay attention to something, or do something, I kinda get this…” she waved her free hand
When I woke up, there was something heavy weighing against my left hand’s ﬁngers, and it kept getting heavier the longer I was awake
behind her head, “zing back here. It’s not something I hear, but more like something I feel. No, not feel… sense.”
Heaving a breath out, she continues, “It’s just there, and I know it’s there.”
Kit’s eyes rounded. “Like… a presence?”
Yana considered, then shook her head. “No, because no one’s there. It’s not like when you get a Progression tinge from the Guardian. It’s just something that’s there. I know that really sounds lame.”
Kit tilted her head. “I’ve never heard anyone talk about zings or pushes, not like that, but it doesn’t mean the Guardian isn’t the one behind it, or something.”
“Yeah, or something.” Looking down, Yana continued, “Can you let go of my hand now? I need to toss this.”
“Yeah, just toss it up. I guess someone in the Hereafter knows what to do with it,” Yana said, closing her Oist slightly and then Olicking her Oingers upward.
“Or what you just tossed knows what to do by itself,” Kit murmured. “You know, there are Teachers in the past who talked about elements and mixes kind of being autonomous.”
“I remember, but there’s nothing speciOic and a lot of those time period writings were destroyed in the wars.” Heading into the bathroom to clean up and empty out, she called over her shoulder, “You don’t need to stay. I am Oine.”
Closing the door on Kit’s arguments, Yana turned the water on to further drown her out. As she stepped in, both hands began to buzz. Sighing resignedly, she waited a few clicks for the balls to form, the weight to increase, made sure they were pulsing and then Olicked her wrists sideways. Looking up, she whispered, “Can I please enjoy the water now?”
In answer, she tossed several more handfuls of whatever-it-was-es in the direction of the sun before the tingling and zinging ceased. * * * *
Standing in front of a seemingly endless hallway wall, Ebbe glanced in consternation at Emme. “There is no way there is a door anywhere here.”
“There has to be. The mapping Yana showed us said so,” Emme countered.
“What if she was wrong?” Ebbe asked, hand sweeping sideways, feeling for the barest crease demarcating a hidden door. “What if...”
Grabbing Emme to his chest as he threw himself backward, he held one arm out to protect her from being crushed by his weight as he rolled them both away from the Olaming orb aiming for his head... which was now engulOing the area where they’d been standing.
Coming to a sliding halt with Emme wrapped in both his arms, they looked back at the endless hallway, crackling and exploding.
“Blue Olames. Huh. Who would have thought?” Emme said lightly, tapping Ebbe to release her. Standing and attempting to swipe the debris and wrinkles from her attire at digniOiedly at possible, she side-eyed Ebbe.
“What was that about her being wrong?”
Mouth open, Ebbe stood, ignoring the mess his godly attire was in. “How?”
“How did she do this? Or how did she know to do this, right now?” Emme asked, auburn eyebrow raised.
“Either. Both. She can’t hear us, can’t see us, so how would she know...” he trailed off.
“Dearest,” Emme half snorted, half laughed, “even with all our knowledge, how much does anyone truly know about what the Leveler can and cannot do from instinct, simply because of being the Leveler? We may not have gifted and blessed Yana with everything she
“Blue ﬂames. Huh. Who would have thought?” Emme said lightly, tapping Ebbe to release her.
needs to do this work, be this being, but what if she already has it, or has access to it, just because of who she is?”
“You mean what she is.”
“No, I mean who she is. Leveler is not a simple title, it’s the name of a being, as well,” Emme answered, her posture hinting that arguing would be hazardous to his health.
Walking to the still Olaming, but not hot, walls, Ebbe poked at it. It wobbled and cracked under his light touch. He tilted his head slightly, brows knitted, placed his palm on it, and shoved. As the walls tumbled down in heaps, he stepped backward, looking in both directions of the endless hallway, and saw... ends, within ten of his paces away. “Do you...”
“I do indeed,” Emme said in awe. Touching the heaps with her toes, not daring to use her hands, she watched them lift, separate into their elemental make-ups, and leave. She sucked in a breath. “Illusion,” she hissed.
“Sorcery is against the Laws,” Ebbe whispered helplessly.
“Apparently not,” Emme answered quietly. Behind the smoldering heaps… A door.
Glossery of Names and Terms
Alil–AH leel (husband)
Alili–AH leelee (wife)
Ama-(Ah mah) - mom
Concilium–cohn SIL eeyum (a council of high gods/goddesses who guide others on the Path of Progression and oversee much of the running of the Hereafter)
Corrupt–the dead whose Mortal life choices and doings align them with evil and the Demons
Datter-(daa tr) - daughter
Deisos–DEE sohs (after death “paradise”)
Deisos Teacher(s)–Mortals spiritually and higher skilled than Oracles, rarer too, few known, can talk to/see Ebbe/Emme when allowed
Donal–DOH nul (male protagonist)
Ebbe–EH beh (Cycle God)
Emme–EH mee (Cycle Goddess)
Gods/Goddesses–those who were Incorrupt, then passed their various tests and trials in Deisos, allowing their ascension to godhood on the Path of Progression; god(s) is often gender neutral, as they are equals, but lazy, and the word is shorter to write/ say
Ochuroma–O schu ROH mah (after death
“hell”)Hereafter–the life continuation along the Path of Progression that occurs after Mortal existence endsIncorrupt–the dead whose Mortal life choices and doings align them with the gods/ goddessesGuardian–a guide, helper, from Deisos, who assists Mortals
Oracles–Mortal version of prophets, seers who can talk to/see the Incorrupt, Guardians, Void - realm of the Demons (devoid of light)
Yana–YAH nuh (female protagonist)
“Sorcery is against the Laws,” Ebbe whispered helplessly.
Guide to Our Reviews and Ratings:
Our rating system is the standard 5 star rating system:
5 = exceptional
4 = excellent
3 = good
2 = fair
1 = poor
CNF = If the problems in a book are such that a reviewer is unable to finish it, the book will be given to another reviewer to read. If both reviewers are unable to finish the book, it will receive the rating of “CNF” or “Could Not Finish”
We also rate the "Steam" or sex factor so readers can enjoy whatever level they are most comfortable with. The criteria is as follows:
1 Steam Kettle = Nothing but kisses
2 Steam Kettles = Passionate kissing,
3 Steam Kettles = Sex but the door is closed
4 Steam Kettles = Slightly steamy sex with some description
5 Steam Kettles = Steamy sex with somewhat graphic description
Those books receiving a 4.5 or a 5 star review will also be awarded the "Crowned Heart" for excellence. This symbol will be seen beside the review in the magazine.
A Love that’s Worth the Risk (Men of Valor, Book #3)Laura Landon
the brevity of the story didn’t allow for the full immersion needed for a satisfying read. Nevertheless, those readers who are fans of slowly-told romance might truly enjoy the experience!Chelsea Greer
Jack believes his wife, Annie, to be dead, and has struggled to cope with her loss. However, when he receives a cryptic note telling him everything he believed was a lie, Jack Oinds himself facing the impossible: Annie is alive. But when he Oinds her, she isn’t the same woman he used to know. Now Jack must discover the truth about Annie’s disappearance and help her face the world again, and Major Jack Washburn won’t stop Oighting until his family is safe, and love prevails.
In this historical romance, the reader will be taken to a world of drama and danger, where love and duty may not be enough. A harrowing tale of love and valor, “A Love that’s Worth the Risk” is told from alternating perspectives of Jack and Annie, and takes readers on a surprising journey of two lost souls trying to Oind each other again, while exploring themes such as loss and addiction. The drawbacks of this story are repetitive dialogue, the seemingly dragging plot that then races ahead at the end, and the lack of character development for both Jack and Annie. This story is short and sweet, which could leave a reader unsatisOied by the end, as
Iseabail Spalding’s evil uncle is telling all of Scotland she’s a witch, and is forcing her to marry an abusive man. Of course, her response is to escape from his grasp. Iseabail makes her way to London, hoping to Oind a more suitable and kinder husband. This is where she meets the biggest scoundrel of them all, Reuben Bates. Reuben, a well-known businessman, wants to be in the aristocracy, a goal which can only be achieved by marrying into it. When Reuben discovers Iseabail’s secret, he uses blackmail to his advantage. However, what the two didn’t realize was how much attraction they have between them. The question remaining is whether they will succeed in their own lives or fail because of their unplanned connection.
Everything about this book screams fantastic enemies-to-
lovers, mixing in steamy romance, enlightening historical contexts and of course a relatable, stubborn protagonist. This book is the opposite of cliché – Iseabail does everything she can to get herself out of the situations she’s in and never gives off the feeling she’s a weak damsel in distress. Reuben, unfortunately, is not likable until well-into the book, making it less fun to read about; however, he eventually does grow on the readers. The story also has perfect plot progression, allowing one to see the character’s depth and development and become slowly entranced into the protagonist’s romance. There are moments that one may Oind slow and less engaging, but the rest of the book has plenty of scenes to keep readers entranced by the romantic connection of Iseabail and Reuben. This is a must-read for readers who enjoy strong heroines and attractive historical romances.Austen Grace
The Heart of a Lyon (The Lyon's Den Connected World)Anna St. Claire
After the death of his father, Henry Stanton, the Earl of Egerton Oinds himself indulging in games of chance and liquor to drown out
his guilt. He has little time for marriage or getting involved in other people’s problems, especially if the Black Widow of Whitehall is involved. But when his brother is nearly killed and the girl he grew up with is targeted by the worst sort of man, Henry Oinds himself considering a fake engagement as the only way forward. Lady Olivia Dawson has always hoped to marry for love, and Henry is one man she’s never forgotten. But her father’s Oinancial problems threaten her future, and her only hope of escape is convincing Henry that a true marriage is the answer to both their problems. As their mother’s scheme for their children and a mysterious foe threatens danger, arrangements at The Lyon’s Den could be the risk needed to assure all their futures.
When a lady needs a hero, Henry Stanton is the man to save her. In this story, a childhood friend turns romantic – but not until after some danger and meddling schemes push it forward. Readers looking for complexity or surprise should look elsewhere, but fans of attraction turned to love, dashing heroes, loyal families, crazy villains, and only a handful of minor conOlicts will Oind this book a perfect Oit. A quick read, this story can be read as a standalone in the Lyon’s Den Connected World, and makes two childhood friends into sweethearts so enticing, that a lazy afternoon read can easily be a lovely one!Sarah E Bradley
Master of Dawn: A Medieval Romance
characters with multi-faceted perspectives. Both start from a point of duty but together build a lasting foundation of honesty, respect, trust, and love. Life in England during the Middle Ages springs to life in this intriguing story Oilled with emotional upheaval as women wait for men to return home. Readers will enjoy the antics of Lorica’s dogs and the banter between knights loyal to the death. This makes a delightful read for fans of historical tales of Lords and Ladies who thrive as they give their best every day. Keep the tissue box close by!Simone Dober
Sir Galen Burleson, a warrior who’s survived many battles, is the sole heir to Tadcaster. The secrets kept by his father remain hidden until his imminent death, when Galen’s father enters into an agreement for his son to marry a wealthy heiress. Lady Lorica de la Beauvriere, the eldest daughter of Everard, owner of St. Nicholas Court, was born beautiful, then educated to fulOill her duty to marry well. Galen and Lorica meet at her father’s estate during a victory feast after the families joined forces in battle. The pair decidedly clash. Galen is taken with her stunning looks, while her residual anger with his rude behavior haunts her long after the feast. Lorica learns of her arranged marriage to fulOill family duty. The unsuspecting couple discovers they have more in common than imagined.
Descriptions of battles, feasts, and events are highlighted with passionate injections of colors and sound, making the pages come alive as Kathryn LeVeque depicts the practical process in Medieval times of securing title, wealth, property, and position through family alliances. Lorica and Galen are three-dimensional
Knight of Destiny (Sisterhood of Secrets #5)
Sir Aaron Kirkwood has longed to be a success and make his mark on the world. When a timely intervention earns him a knighthood, and with his good looks giving him an edge, he’s certain his destiny is waiting for him, beginning with turning a failing local theater into a gentlemen’s club. Unfortunately, he didn’t count on the lovely and tempting Miss Louisa Dunston. A family secret haunts Louisa, making her doubt she will ever be
loved. Determined to hide this pain, she Olaunts her beauty to get what she wants, in this case, to preserve the local theater and keep it from the clutches of the arrogant knight who is attempting to buy it. Both are certain the other is targeting the theater for selOish ends, yet a simple Olirtation to win quickly turns into something more.
When two vain Olirts compete, sparks are inevitable. Passion is ignited almost from the beginning as Sir Aaron and Miss Louisa collide over the theater. The story unfolds quickly, with two very passionate and emotional characters that are very alike, and inspire strong feelings in the reader. Faults are fully addressed in these characters, who tend toward vanity, arrogance, condescension, and more, with little willing improvement. Yet their very Olaws being reOlected in each other have the unusual effect of increasing the attraction they feel, despite their differences of opinion and approach to the future. As a result, the reader is engaged from the beginning, and will Oind themselves immersed in this hate-to-love couple that brims with desire from start to Oinish.Sarah E Bradley
The Convenient Engagement (The De Petras Saga Book 5)Emily E. K. Murdoch
Sapphire is the youngest of the De Petras family and is still protected and treated like a child. She has a disability that does not stop her. No one in her family will take her seriously and she believes the only way they will is if she becomes engaged. So, she devises a plan for her best friend, James, the Earl of Maltravers to propose to her. James has been in love with Sapphire for years but has not found the courage to tell Sapphire of his real feelings. When Sapphire proposes the plan, he thinks this is Oinally his chance to prove and show how he really feels. What happens when this plan backOires on them both?
“The Convenient Engagement” is book 5 in the De Petras Saga and can be read as a standalone, but would be so much more enjoyable if the books are read in order. The reader is pulled in from the very beginning, and the tale’s grip will not let up until the end. This is a beautiful story about two friends who grew up together, and wind up falling in love. The reader will love the De Petras family, especially Sapphire and James, the main characters. Despite Sapphire’s disability, she does not let it stop her from what she
wants. Her personality is so outgoing and fun, and James is shy and unsure of himself. Both are complete opposites of one another, but Oit so well together. The reader will enjoy watching the interaction between them as they struggle with their feelings for one another, which are heartfelt, and the chemistry and sparks grow in a realistic way.Victoria Zumbrum
Meant for the Marquess (Second Sons of London #7)
Julia Oinds herself on her own in the world, forced to seek employment after her father, Lord Tilton, passed, and left his estate to his eldest son. Despite the cruelty of her half-brother’s actions, Julia accepts her fate and becomes a governess at Woodbridge. She is treated fairly there, teaches two young boys, and enjoys her life. However, when Lord Devin comes to visit Woodbridge after a career ending incident at war, Julia is faced with a new dilemma that could ruin her reputation and sully the good life she has been able to build.
When it comes to romance, “Meant for the Marquess” is as steamy and suspenseful as they
get. The plot progression is steady, with each chapter ending just as a new revelation unfolds. Notably, each chapter is read from alternating perspectives between Julia and Lord Devin. The open window into both of their minds creates suspense as readers wait for the two to Oinally Oind companionship in each other, and learn to accept love from one another. Julia is portrayed as a strong-willed woman, and it is satisfying to watch Lord Devin squirm as she continues to deOlect his advances. However, it is equally satisfying to see Julia be viewed as a lady and slowly begin entering Polite Society as the equal she was before her halfbrother banished her. Alexa Aston produced a fantastic story that goes beyond romance and focuses on Julia’s fall from Polite Society, and her long awaited return.
make up for her father’s shortcomings, when her father sells her to Lord Rawden in a marriage agreement. Lord Rawden claims to never Oind love and preferred not to take a wife, while Patience only dreams of marrying once she found love. Now the two must learn to navigate their new situation, but Lord Rawden hides a secret threat lurking around that may endanger him or his new countess.
“The Accidental Groom” begins strong, with Lord Rawden swooping in to offer support for Miss Patience and her family as she struggles to buy groceries and household supplies. This sets the tone for how Patience feels about Lord Rawden, while also incorporating the situation that the Wallace family is in as well. From there, the story picks up speed fairly quickly; however, the middle slows down quite a bit, and the focus is largely on Patience struggling to accept her union and learning about marital duties. The threat that looms over Lord Rawden is known early on, but it does not come alive until the end of the novel. Overall, Barbara Devlin created a story full of struggle, passion, and fear that intertwine with an accidental love.
The Accidental Groom (Mad Matchmaking Men of Waterloo #2)
Miss Patience Wallace is the daughter of General Wallace, who lost his reputation and fell to gambling and drinking. Since her mother passed, Patience is left to
Valued by the Viscount (Second Sons of Lond Book 6)
As Lady Vanessa Hughes prepares for her come-out, her brother betroths her to Lord Hockley, who physically and verbally abuses her. Lord Hockley then deserts Vanessa to the country, and when he dies, she is moved to the dower house. Vanessa’s stepson later tells her she must vacate the house. So, Vanessa angrily goes to her husband’s grave, not knowing what to do. Luckily, she meets Lady Danbury at the gravesite. Lady Danbury is planning a house party to which she invites Vanessa and Reed Davenport, Viscount Boxling. When Reed and Vanessa meet, there is instant attraction. Vanessa, though, doesn’t think she’s worthy of Reed, especially since she has nothing to bring to the relationship. Reed must convince Vanessa she is worthy of him while Oighting off the other men at the party who also want her.
Ms. Alexa Aston writes a highly poignant Georgian novel that deOinitely will make anyone cry. Readers will immediately sympathize with the characters. The story, however, feels jarring, and there are big time gaps
throughout. The villains never get punished and are unceremoniously dropped from the book. Even though the book can stand alone, it might help to read the other books in the series just to understand the relationships of the minor characters. Vanessa, the unconOident heroine, doesn’t show much gumption when dealing with others. Even when Vanessa interacts with Reed, who is a wonderful hero and will do anything to protect her, she still seems a bit afraid of him even though he doesn’t do anything to scare her. The book is still an interesting tale that is a pleasantly amusing read!Roslynn Ernst
Daring Done Right
between them years before. Xavier, Viscount Flint, made his mark with outrageous wagers which he won, often forgetting the people who counted on his existence. A dare in Bristol, orchestrated by the defeated scoundrel, Clarington, puts both Xavier and Sarah in the crosshairs of society's ridged mores if he talks. The unsuspecting pair discovers they are alike in many ways, the keenest of which is their belief in one another more than themselves. The sparks between them get fanned by respect and need, plus the promise of passion.Charlie Lane gives readers a delightful stand-alone story of two people who believe themselves undeserving of a chance. The layers of guilt, insecurity, and fear of failure get shed when they try to help one another. Individually, these two people care for others more than themselves. Through this lens, discover they are much more alike than at odds. The character development is superb enough to want to join their journey. The banter delightfully carries forward with realistic dialogue and believable situations. Lastly, the passion simmers enough to keep the pages turning, with pauses for sighs of encouragement. Fans of spicy Victorian Historical Romance tales will undoubtedly become immersed in this book and the rest of this series.
Lady Sarah is making ‘dares’ with the Ton members to support a poorly funded hospital. Each bet becomes increasingly dangerous, yet, disguised, along with two friends, she remains incognito and repeatedly wins. Sarah’s activities, however, gain the attention of a gentleman known as the Dare King, and he tags her as his Dare Queen. When the Dare King’s identity is revealed, Sarah is stunned because of a falling outSimone Dober
Shadows We Carry: A Novel Meryl Ain
Fraternal twins, Jo-Jo and Bronka Lubinski are coming of age in the tumultuous 1960s. Studying at a New York City college, they live at home with their parents. Their father is a Holocaust survivor who has always kept his family close and his emotions buried. Their mom gave up being a nursing for marriage. With that example, both women are seeking to discover who they are in an era of women’s rights. Jo-Jo is forced to redeOine her terms, while Bronka continues to dream of a husband and family even as she pursues a career in journalism. The tug between news reporting and Oinding the right Jewish young man continues as she is Oinally given her chance to report on neo-Nazis on Long Island. It’s a story that will change the trajectory of her life.
“Shadows We Carry” is a moving tale of womanhood, Jewish identity, and family! The story is a sequel to “The Takeaway Men,” but can be read on its own. While both sisters are the focus at the beginning of the book, it isn’t long before Bronka’s voice and journey are the main drivers. Those of Jewish descent will likely feel an emotional connection to the Lubinskis. For non-Jewish
readers, there are various Yiddish/Hebrew expressions sprinkled in the text for which a glossary is provided at the back. The pace felt slow at the start with Bronka pining over the boy who won’t commit. The emotional tension shoots up when the Neo Nazi storyline enters, and Bronka develops as a character. Points of view could have been smoother. Overall, “Shadows We Carry” is a keeper for any bookshelf!
The Highlander and the Lady of Misrule (The Queen’s Highlanders Book 2)
mother died a traitor. However, Lucy’s sunny disposition and care for the needy is at odds with that assessment. When the original Lord of Misrule is poisoned, Queen Elizabeth selects Lucy to replace him, placing her in danger as well. Greer wants to keep everyone safe, but the culprit is closer than they realize. This story is peppered with snippets from documents written about events occurring near that time in history. The information adds insight and depth to the historical aspects of this tale, and lends credibility to the storytelling. The writing style Olows nicely and the pace is mostly steady, with a few slower sections. Nevertheless, the culprit stays on the periphery for much of the story, even though the author sprinkles multiple red herrings along the way. The denouement is somewhat believable and quite exciting. Greer is especially wellwritten, as his Scottish brogue practically leaps from the page. Life at court is portrayed with covert political gamesmanship and the ever-present watchful eyes of people hunting for secrets that they can parlay into gain. This is an intriguing story!
How to Marry a Viscount (The Cinderella Society Book 3)
Greer Buchanan, a Scottish soldier/envoy is sent to London to warn Queen Elizabeth of a plot to assassinate her during the twelve days of Christmas festivities. After being given erroneous directions, Greer ends up a few blocks from Whitehall Palace, where he comes to the aid of Lucy CranOield, a lady from the queen’s court, busy freeing dogs destined to Oight bears in the bear-baiting ring. She can’t stand to see cruelty, so she sets the dogs free. Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, she is often under scrutiny, as her
Tamsin Bell, daughter of the Duke of Chester, has been in love with Captain Henry Talbot, (Viscount Stirling) for years. Unfortunately, every time she has the courage to let him know, he disappears. He has loved her as well, but he has to stay ever-vigilant because his father, an Earl, has hired multiple people to attack him when he least expects it, as tests to keep him strong and aware, and as preparation for the time when he will inherit his father’s title. Meanwhile, Tamsin and three of her friends are part of the ‘Cinderella Society’. They use their gifts and strengths to help others and right wrongs and injustices. In this case, someone has stolen a poppet from Tamsin, and although it’s worthless Oinancially, it has deep sentimental value to her. She wants it back. Since Henry wants to keep Tamsin safe, he stations a guard to watch her home. Meanwhile, her father wants to marry her to a lecher. Tamsin really wants to marry Henry, but he is not cooperating for fear she will get injured during his father’s attacks.
The Cinderella Society adds interest to this story, as the author highlights their skills, intelligence, and inner core of strength.
Captain Talbot, recently discharged from the royal navy, has his own band of loyal friends, and has little interest in the ‘games’ or the inane conversations displayed at aristocratic events. Yet, he must be present if he is to keep Tamsin safe. The conOlicts are delineated clearly, and both protagonists are crafted fully. This book can be read as a stand-alone, yet is part of a larger series.
One of his most ardent fans, Lady Featherstone, is part of The Society of Sponsoring Ladies. With no daughters of their own, this Society of matrons sponsors worthy young ladies; thus, Lady Featherstone decides to rescue Prudence, facilitate her escape from Luckstone, and sponsor her for a season in London.
The Jilter (A Series of Worthy Young Ladies, Book 5)
Between the laughter, the lighthearted scenes (especially one particular dance!), and the entertaining dialogue, this book is a delight! Additionally, it also contains a shrouded mystery, while moderate tension adds gravitas and drives the storyline and the pace. The murder of Ryland’s father over the missing Lisbon Diamond is connected to the goings-on within this story, but readers must unravel how and why this is so. There is also an eleven-year-old character that adds a bit of levity to the serious parts, and is an especially welcome foil. The protagonists and the supporting characters provide a variety of believable as well as fanciful roles within this story. Ms. Archer deOines the conOlicts sufOiciently, and then delivers an appropriate conclusion that Oits the storyline.Carey Sullivan
Lady Prudence Landry, the only daughter of the Earl of Copeland, is an innocent who has been targeted by a deceitful man masquerading as Lord Luckstone. As a result, she and her father are barricaded in their home, because if they dare to leave, they are accosted by Luckstone, who has announced his fake engagement to Prudence in their small town.
Ambrose Thorpe, the Marquess of Ryland, is the leader of The Society for Advancing Criminal Knowledge (SACK) in London.
A Constant Blaze (Last Flame of Alba Book 2)
Malcolm MacHeth has been imprisoned by the King for twenty long years for seeking the crown for himself. Prison’s only real hardship for Malcolm is his inability to see his sons, Donald and Adam, and his daughter, GormOlaith, grow up. He also misses his wife, Halla, who is running his earldom in his absence. MacHeth hears his son Adam is unusual, a seer. When Donald goes to rescue his father and bring him home, he is betrayed by Fergus. Now both father and son are prisoners. Mairead, a woman who visits Malcolm MacHeth and gives him messages from the outside, helps him and Donald escape, but now she is in need of saving from her cruel husband! Halla hears of Mairead’s distress and formulates a plan to rescue her.
“A Constant Blaze” is a medieval saga about the MacHeth family and their cunning ways. Malcolm and Halla are very resilient characters to last twenty years apart and still share an everlasting love. It is endearing when they are shy about reuniting. Confusion comes when Malcolm is referred to with several different variations of his
last name. Adam’s wife has several versions of her Oirst name, so again, there is confusion. Ms. Lancaster does mention this in the preface, but it still takes extra concentration to keep everyone straight. The Oirst half of the story drags, but the second half Olows brilliantly. The secondary Oigures are well Oleshed out, making it easy to fall for Muiredach the harpist. A fun allegory steeped in family traditions, this is an entertaining read for those who love all things medieval!Belinda Wilson
unfounded rumors to reach Gilbert. Upon Gilbert’s return, he and Madelene are thrust together. His young nieces convince him to court her instead of shunning her. The Oly in the ointment? Hugh, who
admits to being in love with Madelene, and whose purpose in life is to see Madelene happy–with either Gilbert or himself. Hugh gives Gilbert an ultimatum that will either send her back to Gilbert–
Adam (Diamonds of the First Water Book 3)
Sydney Jane Baily
Courting Lady Yeardly (Willful Winterbournes Book 3)
After his wife, Madelene, gives birth to a stillborn son, Gilbert Winterbourne, Lord Yeardly spends the next three years in India, leaving his grieving wife behind. While focused on learning about tea in the hopes of setting up a tea house back home, Gilbert wants the unpleasantness of strong emotions to simply go away. He can’t deal with Madelene or her grief. Gilbert’s best friend, retired Major Hugh, steps in to comfort and watch over Madelene in Gilbert’s absence, causing
or to him. "Courting Lady Yeardly” is a wonderfully written tale of a second chance romance entangled in somewhat of a love triangle. Hugh’s love is unrequited, but he will do anything for Madelene and makes Gilbert aware of it. Gilbert is a problematic hero because he makes everything about himself. His speech is stilted and preachy. The information about tea is highly enlightening and gives a welcome break from the tension and angst which hold this story together. Madelene and Hugh are well-drawn characters. Madelene leans upon him when times are difOicult, and Gilbert is absent physically or emotionally. The emotions of each individual are validated and treated with care by Ms. Sookoo. A fascinating story that will keep readers engaged from the beginning. Bring tissues.Belinda Wilson
When Lord Adam Diamond sees a beautiful lady drop a package, he immediately catches up and returns it to her. Weeks later, Adam visits the home of some old family friends, the Beasley's. While there, he hears the most beautiful violen playing somewhere in the house and assumes it is Lord Beasley's daughter playing. Mrs. Alice Malcolm, is the governess teaching the Beasley's three girls. But, when not required, she enjoys relaxing by playing her violin. When Adam approaches Alice and talks with her, he realizes that the girl who is playing is the same girl who dropped that package weeks before. Even though Lady Beasley tells him that Alice is their governess, Adam is absolutely enchanted and soon Oinds himself falling for Alice and discovers he would do anything to make her his. But Alice holds a secret about who she really is, and if Adam Oinds out, it may not only destroy his trust in her, but ruin his standing in society.
An absolutely delightful offering by Ms. Sydney Bailey! Although the plot and some situations may stretch believability a bit, the
delightful characters and riveting story keep the reader thoroughly engaged. The characters are cleverly written and the circumstances are challenging indeed. Adam, the handsome hero, moves rather too quickly from wanting Alice to be his mistress to wanting her for his wife, which makes one skeptical of his motivations at Oirst but as the story progresses and they get to know each other better, things do smooth out. Unfortunately, some of the best parts are told rather than shown such as the reuniting of the couple with the Beasley family - an interesting situation to be sure! Still, the book succeeds in being a captivatingly creative and charming story indeed!Roslynn Ernst
distant but only to protect her from his dangerous life as a spy. After Edgemont’s death—which she later learns was an assassination—Nikolai Baranov is found in her hunting lodge and the adventure begins. She and Nikolai brave a blizzard, retrieve a key broach and the list of Napoleon’s supporters her husband was killed over. Patrice is left home sorting through Edgemont’s journal and letters he was never able to send when she discovers the Oinal key to the puzzle, the location of Napoleon’s supplies. But will Patrice and Nikolai solve the puzzle of their relationship?
The puzzles and story are an incredible page turning journey, full of suspense and mystery. Patrice is a strongly written feminine character and the heroine of her own story, who Oinds the adventure she craves.
Her love of solving puzzles and her quick thinking truly solve the great mystery and save the day, while Nikolai provides her safety and protection. Mystery, adventure, light romance, suspense, drama, and several puzzles, all wrapped up in one wonderful package for the reader to open and follow along. In the end, Patrice ends up with both the love and adventure she craves, even though she had resigned herself to being a cautious widow. While light in the romance department, “The Lady and the Spy” is a page turner with unexpected twists to solve until the very end!Amy Rubottom
The Lady and the Spy (The Ladies
of Sommer by the Sea, Book 2)
Ruth A Casie
Lady Patrice Montgomery Edgemont is done with men since both her husband and potential suitor were not who they appeared to be. Patrice and Lord Benedict Edgemont were friends and played games together as children, once married he became
(The Fielding's Series, Book 3)
becomes immersed in a deep and well-developed family who have struggled to function together after losing their parents, and trying to save the struggling family business. The reader is given an opportunity to see a unique perspectives on a familiar topic, which may also be a trigger for some - spousal abuse - in which the victim is the male partner. It is covered in a respectful and responsible way, and brings value to the story. “Stand” is worth reading, and it leaves a lasting impression.Valerie Vicars
through the trials planning a party, learning about permits, and Oinding an available venue, a subtle change begins. The tension rises along with the holiday spirit as Laura and Steve venture into the path of love.
This is a delightfully entertaining romance! Readers will engage with the characters quickly, and be eager to see their story play out. Steve is reluctant to be a part of planning for the event, but he’s volunteered by his wealthy clients to be Laura’s guide around town. It adds to his feelings that no one in town is really his friend; they simply see him as useful. He needs a vacation—now.
When Sam Fielding returns home for her sister, Thea's, wedding, she knows she is going to have to deal with all the things she ran away from two decades ago. Tyler Cavanaugh is a single father of two, struggling to give his children a stable life after their abusive and toxic mother returns. After an especially public and violent incident where his ex-wife assaults him, Tyler decides that the best thing for his kids is to visit his friend in New Mexico. The traumatic experiences have created a bond between Sam and Tyler’s daughter, Alyssa, and when she realizes they are all travelling the same way, she pleads for them to travel together. Torn between wanting to be there for Alyssa and wanting to get as far away from old memories as she can, Sam agrees. The past continues to haunt Sam and Tyler while also bringing them closer to each other, and creating a bond that neither can resist.
This is not a stand-alone book, and it takes a little bit to get a grip on the cast of characters if one has not read the prior books. Once the reader catches up, one
Christmas Island (Waverly Lake, Book Three)
Laura Crawford loves meeting people, which greatly helps in her job at The Learning Center for ASD. However, she’s suffering from a broken heart since her Oiancé ran away with a younger woman. When her job takes her to Waverly Lake, she’s happy for the break out of town, but her assignment means planning a fundraiser in two weeks. She has to learn about the area quickly. Enter Steve Albertson, hometown attorney and Laura’s reluctant local guide even though he was going to Florida. While struggling
Brokenhearted Laura is usually gregarious and intuitive, tending to make plans with feelings. The sweet part of the story is watching the pieces of Laura’s heart fall back in place while she’s sparring with Steve. When she’s called back to the ofOice, it feels like the end. The suspense over what happens next will make readers fear for the couple. However, they will love taking this journey with Laura and Steve and Oind themselves enjoying the happiest of holidays.Leah Neale
Alexander to rise up to be the man he knows he’s capable of being. A fresh spin on an independent woman instead of a totally dependent one is refreshing. Olivia as a strong female gives a subplot added substance of what each character endures. A quick read of a relationship with compromises, tenacity and love. Delightful!Viola Robbins
The Chosen One Deborah Camp
A wealthy real estate mogul is demanding that his son, Alexander Grant, settle down so he can take over as CEO of the family business. After having numerous failed engagements, Alexander’s father is now crafting a party to which he will invite three eligible women whom he has to choose from, and make one his bride –but another guest shows with an invitation, and takes him quite off guard. Alex has his sights set on the feisty journalist. If he can convince her to play along with the charade for a few months, he can take on the business and they can go their separate ways. However, when their hearts get involved, the charade is off – and so is the relationship. Can Alexander salvage one or the other in time? Ms. Camp and her creative story is a new take on an arranged marriage trope. While the plot moves swiftly, it’s well written and shares many family dynamics that get revealed like layers of an onion peeled off one layer at a time. Although this is not a likely modern scenario, readers will enjoy its conversion for current times, mostly to light a Oire under a son to settle down with a good woman. His father only wants
Protecting Her Heart: Rebecca (The Wishful Hearts Collection, Book 3)River Ford
her plans and nothing will stop her from helping the kids.
Growing up with wealthy, disinterested parents left her feeling empty and unloved. Finding love includes a safe husband who puts family Oirst. She fulOills one dream when she builds a youth center for at-risk kids in Chicago. Sean steps in as a neighborhood police ofOicer and community volunteer, very friendly and handsome. Rebecca has no interest in the ofOicer even though he is not shy about his feelings. But he is always in danger. He keeps reminding Rebecca he’s trained to face scary situations, but she won’t budge. Rebecca puts the kids Oirst, even when facing the ruthless Dreads. Danger is the name of the game, but is Sean really the one in the risky situation? Their differences make for a very entertaining romance.Leah Neale
A wish made at a teenage slumber party becomes a motto for Rebecca Watson. She cannot give her heart to one who readily puts himself in danger. The daughter of wealthy parents, Rebecca has missed one essential element of childhood—love. Now Rebecca’s dream is to provide a safe place for teens in a rough Chicago neighborhood to meet, study, and play sports. When she meets OfOicer Danger, a.k.a. Sean Thompson, there is attraction, but Rebecca refuses to accept it because of his hazardous job. Rebecca Oinds herself in trouble when she confronts the local gang leader Dreads. He is intent on destroying her dream, but Rebecca doesn’t give in. She has
Love on Paper (Love on Paper and Love on Film #1)
Mariana is an accomplished romance author whose own love life seems to take her novels as a ‘what not to do’ guide. After her engagement ends in a heartbreaking display of her ex
cheating on her, she is pushed by her family to heal her broken heart by getting away from it all. Mariana goes to a small town in the southeast part of England to help sell what she thought was an important part of her parents’ life: her father’s house. Thoughts of pain Oly away when she meets the kind actor, Sam, cast to play in a movie based on her book. Sam is more of a musician than an actor who can’t deny his attraction to the hurt romance author. Messy complications of miscommunication brew as their relationship develops in this contemporary romance. This modern tale takes a deep dive into the heart of a realistic messy romance. The story between Mariana and Sam has some relatable moments of misunderstanding that helps the reader really connect to the characters and events being portrayed. However, this realistic aspect becomes lost as the story tends to summarize a lot of the action that plays out on the page rather than allowing the reader to be part of it, which can cause some confusion as to what is happening at times. This, mixed with some character inconsistencies, cause the reader to wonder why some secondary characters are behaving the way they resulting in frustration. With a bit more attention to character development and active action scenes, this story will be one that will truly stay with readers long after the tale is Oinished!Annalee Stilove
natural Olow of the relationship that eventually develops between Jesse and Paige is done in a perfect slow burn way. That being said, the Oinancial situation with Paige’s father is a little predictable, and mixed with the stereotypical personality that Paige displays at times can be irritating and distracting. However, the romance and fun reality show helps pull the reader back in. Overall, this book is entertaining and charming, and will be remembered for years to come!
Paige’s whole life has been one of struggled luxury: the rich daughter dealing with the stressful fallout of her parents' secrets, and seemingly loveless marriage. Ever since his sister passed away, Jesse’s life has been dedicated to fulOilling her dreams, but now he feels it’s time for him to turn his focus on what he wants. Becoming a carpenter isn’t an easy task, but the apartment renovation reality TV show promises to put Jesse’s skills on the map, if he can secure a partner that is. When his old friend suggests his baby sister, Paige, Jesse jumps at the chance, but Paige isn’t so keen on being stuck in the same building as this man who can’t even pull out chairs for a lady. As Paige’s perfect life falls apart, she makes the decision to partner with Jesse, but neither expect their feelings to be renovated - along with the apartment.
This cute brother’s best friend romance will touch hearts and keep readers coming back for more! Readers are sure to be won over by the irresistible commitment Jesse has to the people who are important in his life. The comedic moments are written beautifully, and the
of dislike throughout most of the book, but one will quickly see her emotions change for him, leaving readers unsure of where or when this might have happened. Some of the characters names are switched when talking, which leads the reader astray from the story line in confusion, taking away from the excitement of the fantasy. Langley and Russell’s love story is one for the ages. With some content editing and character building, readers are sure to be drawn into love in this Oirst tale in The Bourbon Trail Series.Stephanie Bell
their lives – Ruairi will need to battle his own past and the family members who want nothing more than to take everything he holds dear.
Russell Carr is trapped inside a vintage purse until someone lets him out. When Langley Roberts opens the purse after walking into the old antique shop, she releases Russell—a bootlegger from a different time. However, that isn’t the only unusual thing about this mysterious man. Russell is a genie who can grant her three wishes. But the only thing Langley wishes is for Russell to disappear back to his old life, leaving her alone. When Russell explains to Langley how her wish of him leaving can only be granted after a woman falls in love with him – or if she falls in love with him – Langley starts helping Russ Oind dates, and researching his family tree in hopes to Oind a clue to breaking the curse. Will Langley help Russ Oind a way to free him of the witch’s curse through his family tree and send him back to his bootlegging? Or will she succumb to his charm and fall in love with him, having him stay in her time?
“Love Cursed” is compelling and intriguing with a witch curse and a genie thrown in, giving this paranormal/fantasy read a fairy tale ending. However, the love story between Langley and Russell seems rushed. Langley’s emotions towards Russell are one
Beer and Broomsticks
It has been seventeen years since the betrayal that ripped apart the relationship between Bridget O’Malley and Ruairi O’Conner and caused a divide that years of a family feud had not previously accomplished. For centuries, the two families have been embroiled in a battle for the O'Malley's magic, and now a prophecy is pulling the families together in a battle for their magic – and their lives. Can Bridget forgive the mistakes of a boy and learn to love the man who has never stopped loving her, even when she made it hard? To save their love – and
The reader is in for magic, love, and defying odds with this book! Ms. Cromer has woven a deeply intricate world with room for a multitude of stories for years to come. Bridget and Ruari have been in love since they Oirst met but have been at odds for the last seventeen years, and the reader can feel the romantic tension that both characters are Oighting. Sparks fairly sizzle from the pages when these two are together! This book is steamy while also keeping the focus on a good, strong storyline, and characters one cannot help falling in love with. Though “Beer and Broomsticks” is not the Oirst tale in The Unlucky Charms series, it is still easy to read and follow along with, and will no doubt leave a smile on readers’ faces – and using their ereaders as fans!
A Deal with Darkness (Eternal Night #2)
Alexis L. Menard
Isoldra Maan is a hound for Haalarcus, the Lord of Lost Souls. She is indebted to him and must
hunt souls for him, 250 to be exact. When a series of plagues begin to occur, Haalarcus offers Isoldra her freedom if she agrees to work with a watcher known as Evander. He is a divine raven Oigure of the God of Sun and Sand, Arran. Isoldra jumps at the chance to earn her freedom, and together, she and Evander attempt to uncover the heretic who is causing the plagues that threaten to destroy their world.
“A Deal with Darkness” is the second book of this series, however, it can be read as a standalone as it takes place before the events in the Oirst book. The beginning of the book starts out strong with a very rough and tough female lead character. The interactions between Isoldra and Haalarcus are entertaining and fun. The heat between the two is undeniable. There are a few twists in the plot of the story, some predictable and others are quite surprising. There are also quite a few moments in the story that are very graphic and gory, and the plot itself feels a little rushed at times. If the book were a bit longer, there would be room for more explanation of the events that occur. Without that, readers may become confused as the story progresses. Nevertheless, Ms. Menard knocks it out of the park with her character development and the spicy moments that occur between them. Readers who enjoy slow-burn enemies to lovers’ tropes are sure to love this dark fantasy!Jennifer Shepherd
I Dream of Demigods (The Law of Love Book 1)Alexa Sullivan
reality show. The Familiar Placement Agency matches Rowan with Lenti, named after the most beautiful of cloud formations. The adorable little feline familiar loves “cheese stuff”. Get it? Together with Tabitha, the three of them play ofOice detective while Rowan Oights to keep from falling in love with Alex. “I Dream of Demigods” is a rom-com debut which will have lovers of cheesy plot points reaching their paws out for the next one!Joan Lai
Rowan Baird is a witch with defective powers. Living a mundane life as Technical Writer at a large supernatural law Oirm in Portland, she endures her coworkers’ ridicule with the support of her best friend, and more talented witch, Tabitha. Alex Kouris is her new boss and IT director. On his Oirst day on the job, Alex and Ro succumb to their surprising attraction and share a kiss. The smooch doesn’t merely feel magical; it IS magical. Rowan coughs up a mysterious crystal, and suddenly she’s manifesting a multitude of extraordinary talents. Ro later learns that Alex is a Stygian demigod, a supernatural known for using their seductive charisma to charm victims into giving up their souls to Hades. Alex wants to break his contract with the Underworld, but will he be able to convince Ro that what they share is real chemistry, and not just Stygian deception?
This sweet paranormal is as fun as a laser pointer salesman in a cat café ! Prepare to stretch the imagination and shove aside disbelief. Witches, werewolves, and vampires populate a wacky world where spells can be googled and fae have their own trashy
Whiskey and Witches (Unlucky Charms #2)T.M. Cromer
The story starts with an accident involving the heroine, Roisin O’Malley, her son Aeden, and her sister Meg. Roisin and Aeden are saved by a mysterious man and Roisin has no idea who caused the accident or why. However Meg perished while Roisin was left horribly scarred and Aeden developed vocal damage. It is obvious that someone wants the sister’s magic to stop a prophecy involving the O’Malley and O’Connor families from coming true and Aeden is a key component. Unfortuantely, Aeden develops horrible nightmares after the accident which leads his father, Carrick, to determine any
reminder of the accident, including Roisin, will trigger night terrors. Carrick decides it is best if he convinces the world Roisin is dead and Meg survived. This does not allow Roisin to see Aeden, which breaks Roisin's heart and damages Carrick and Roisin’s relationship severely. Somehow Roisin must Oind who is behind the murder attempts in order to save her son and once again establish a relationship with him, even if her marriage does not survive.
This paranormal story takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions! The mysterious story line about the O’Malley family prophecy is beautifully played out and causes the reader to feel a need to Oigure out what happened. With that said, it may be very confusing to Oirst time readers, as the plot begins right in the middle of what seems like an overall story already in progress.This manifests in a lack of understanding of how the secret identity was successfully done, and what caused much of the events that propel the story. The second chance romance is also resolved in a way that feels somewhat abrupt and unrealistic. With a bit more time spent helping Oirst time readers understand the backstory and more attention spent on character development, both in understanding the motives of characters such a Ronan, and in the second chance romance aspect, this story is sure to win hearts all readers. Of course, those who have followed the series to this point will more than likely be absolutely delighted and aching for more!Annalee Stilove
The Necromancer’s Daughter
Aster is a stillborn infant from the king and queen of Verdane. She has been brought to life by a necromancer, Barus, who raises her as his own and teaches her the ways of a healer. Her life is the way it should be, however, once Aster gets older, she Oinds out everything she comes to know about her life is a lie. Aster’s real father comes back for her, but that is where the real adventure begins. Aster’s father explains to her how she is an heir to the throne of his kingdom, and if she doesn’t accept her role, then the kingdom is doomed to fall. Aster is torn between two worlds of a necromancer and a world who hunts and is against necromancers and the practice of magic. Aster’s father is near death, and the only way to save him – even though Aster might not want to – is to go to the kingdom and take her position. So what will Aster choose? Will she choose to stay with Barus, the necromancer who has brought her back to life, or her real father, the king, who is on the verge of death?
“The Necromancer’s Daughter” is set in a time where kings and
queens ruled. A time when the earth was not only inhabited by humans, but by dragons as well. Readers of fantasy and folklore Oiction will not walk away disappointed! With Oifty chapters making up the book, it’s a good length read with three hundred pages of action-packed adventure. The story is told by three different points of view, where D. Wallace Peach shows the readers how the characters are connected to each other, and how emotionally charged they are towards one another. The book has that life and death motility of how far a person would go to bring back their loved one, or what a person would do to save the person they adore. “The Necromancer’s Daughter” is a wonderful read that will take readers on an adventure without even leaving the house. Absolutely delightful.Stephanie Bell
her two sisters, and all the bad guys are in prison (if not dead). Oh, and cool accommodations in the heart of Las Vegas, courtesy of her grandfather, a powerful druid. But her strength is depleting. To increase it, she needs to drink blood from Teddy, but refuses for fear of forming dependency. When a job leads her to investigate the disappearance of the sun fae, it appears the prisoners are missing too, and Laney is bound and determined to Oind them all. Will she be able to do it? And will she overcome her fears to accept her true nature to save her family and Teddy?
Bad Girls Bite (Blood Fae Druid Book 2)S.L Choi
Mealaney Callaghan is a hybrid of vampire and blood fae, and things are seemingly good in her life. She has her boyfriend and black wolf, Teddy, a detective agency with
Intriguing, funny, and engaging, this fantasy story has all the right Olavors to tickle one’s taste buds. A sassy, stubborn, yet endearing heroine, quirky dysfunctional family members, and a man she loves but is afraid to trust. And of course, mystery upon mystery to solve. The plot is complex but so quirky and intriguing that the reader is happy to be pulled along for the ride. The characters are well-developed, and the realms are tangible. The reader may miss some plot development and backstories that may have been set in the previous book, however, it doesn't detract from the story which can be easily read as a standalone. “Bad Girls Bite” will have readers wanting to follow the series from the very beginning.Rika Chandra
Beguiled (Portals of Destiny Book 3)Elizabeth Rose
this story could be so much more. There is so much happening at once that the characters are porting from one location to another. With so many different threats and things happening, character development and relationship development simply don’t happen. This story has so much potential and room for love, adventure, and growth in a world Oilled with vivid descriptions and magical encounters. A more focused storyline and more time spent on relationships would allow the characters and plot to develop, and would give readers a chance to invest in both.Cara Cieslak
Zann has only one power— shapeshifting into a wolf. Without the aid of more powerful magic, Zann Oinds himself serving as hunter for Castle Mura. When the king in his ever-greedy search for new game sends Zann to hunt in the forests of Glint, it sets in motion events neither could have foreseen. Queen Lira Pentstone is hunting in the forest and shoots Zann in his wolf form. The two of them are suddenly thrown together and Oind themselves tricked into marriage by Lira’s father, Elric. There is little time to worry about that as a portal keeps opening, and someone is trying to kidnap Lira’s daughter. The new couple must learn to rely on each other and on their families if they want a chance to save their Queendoms and Kingdoms.
A fantasy romance with elves, magic, giants, dragons, and a world full of imagination. Unfortunately, the problems with this book start off fast and keep coming. Conversations feel stilted and forced, and Zann and Lira lack chemistry between them. With a unique plotline and a terriOically crafted fantasy world,
Murder for Hire
(The Murder, Book 2)
weapon–the infamous Sheturath–which is needed to kill their enemies, Lead Crow and Raynor. For Diana, family is everything, and her sister is still in the murder and, therefore, in mortal danger. Danger comes in the form of witches. werewolves, fae, angels, demons, and, of course, crow shifters.
A murder of crows is dangerous. A murder of crow shifters is lethal, especially if they have exiled you and put a price on your head–like they’ve done with Diana. The reader might feel the book begins in the middle of action without reading the Oirst book of the series, but can soon catch up. In the midst of a conOlicted romance, Diana has to keep her head on the prize–killing the enemy of her former murder. There’s also intrigue and possible sabotage from enemies within the murder to deal with. People in stressful situations often are attracted to each other, and so Diana and Sasha Oight to continue as professionals on a mission, but they lose that battle. Readers will enjoy nonstop action, bloody battles, and time out for a little romance.Leah Neale
SUSPENSE: Diana Van Doren and Sasha Sokolov are headed to Russia with their demon pal, running from a hoard of creatures. They’re stopped when a call for help comes from Diana’s former murder of crow shifters. However, what Diana wants most of all is the one thing she cannot have–to be a member of that murder. A murder in this case is a Olock of crows. Diana lives in exile, but she and Sasha possess a
the e-readers being used as a cooling fan. C.F. Francis has written a great book that has a lot going on within it. There are a few aspects of telling rather than showing, but that ultimately doesn’t take away from the story. A story that is thrilling, suspenseful, and one that is a must read for the cold nights.Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick
Secrets Unlocked (The James Gang)
Savannah Finch has had a rough life and it seems to be getting worse. Someone has been sending her a charm every year, and she has no idea who it could be. When she is attacked and ends up in some very deep water, she is washed up on shore and found by a savior. Police Detective Rick Wilcowski Oinds Savannah washed up on the beach, and is immediately drawn into a dangerous situation. Savannah has a hard time trusting people, but there is something about Detective Wilcowski that she is drawn to. Rick tries to Oight his feelings for Savannah, but the more time they spend together, the deeper his feelings become. When they’re thrown into a perilous situation, they must stick together to ensure their survival.
“Secrets Unlocked” is a great suspense with a lot of action and excitement. Savannah and Rick are two interesting characters and their dynamic is attentiongrabbing. There is intrigue and questions as to who is sending Savannah the charms, and then the story kicks up several notches and doesn’t let up until the last page. There is tension and some searing-hot action that will have
Charles BreakOield, Rox Burkey
Pliant Industries. This case tests the skills and grit of everyone involved!
There are multiple players and locations to track within this story, yet it is written in an engaging style. This story Olows beautifully! The plot involves themes that are happening now all over the world, making it relevant and credible. The pace is fast, as pieces of the ‘puzzle’ are found throughout and the tension ramps up as the story progresses. Expect challenges, danger, and technology throughout the telling, peppered with some laughter and tears. The leadership mantle of the R-Group is now in the hands of the next generation, and Gracie and JJ and their team have been trained well. There are moments of doubt, overconOidence, and introspection, yet these Olaws add depth and realism to this story. BreakOield and Burkey are still at the top of their game with this latest installment in the CATS/RGroup techno-thriller world!Carey Sullivan
Gracie Rodreguiz has Oinished graduate school and is working full-time for the World Bank, using it as a cover to manage RGroup resources around the world. Her graduate school roommate was Bailey, who asks Gracie and her team to help with a problem. The R-Group chooses to investigate by sending Gracie and Bailey as well as Jeff and Keith (their signiOicant others) on a cruise with Phillip Pliant, the CEO of Pliant Industries. It appears that Pliant is recycling plastic illegally, manufacturing single-use guns, and trafOicking youngsters; however, those who investigate him are either missing or dead. Pliant is dangerous and they all know it. With the help of her twin, JJ, Gracie and her team learn more than they want to know about
Deadly Deception (Six Points Security Book 6)
fans on the edge of her seat with her nail-biting action sequences, not knowing if Essie or her client will pull through. Romance readers and action fans alike get a little bit of both worlds in this James Bond-esque adventure. The author brings Essie and Russell Jackson to life time and time again, through turmoil and chaos, which seems to pull the two closer together. This is a wonderful read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats the whole way through!Stephanie Bell
Essie Jackson is coming from a divorce and learning to adjust to her civilian life. Her new job brings her face to face with her old mentor. However, she quickly realizes her old mentor isn’t who he seems to be. Now Essie is dodging bullets, and trying to stay alive. But that’s not all that Essie has to dodge. Russell Jackson is Essie’s ex-partner in work and life. When they are forced to work together again, not only to protect Essie’s life or her new client’s life, old feelings spark, making Essie rethink maybe she was quick to ending their relationship. How will this sizzling adventure end? Will it end in bloodshed, or will Essie and Russell reconcile their differences and defeat Essie’s old mentor and save her client’s life?
“Deadly Deception” is a romance with an action-packed adventure. Even though this is the sixth installment in this series, it can read as a stand-alone novel, with the backstory of Essie and Russell intertwined throughout the book. The story alternates between Essie and Russell’s characters, showing the readers the love the two still have for one another. However, this isn’t all about romance. Lori Sjoberg keeps her
Iconoclast (A Sean McPherson Novel Book Two)
interesting bunch, and it soon becomes apparent that one of them may be taking their fascination for murder off the pages and into the real world. Will Sean make it through?
Sean McPherson is back, and this time he’s facing a foe that isn’t going to go down easily. Laurie Buchanan has knocked it out of the park with this one. There is a lot going on, and the descriptions pull the reader right into the middle of the action. The plot moves briskly and is full of surprises. Gambino is a scary guy, and is portrayed well as someone who shouldn’t be messed with. The different personalities attending the writers retreat is a motley crew, and there is a constant question hanging around as to whether one of them is up to no good. “Iconoclast” is the second book in the Sean McPherson series, and another great offering from Ms. Buchanan. This is a series to add to the ereader and plan on staying up late for!
Still not fully dealing well with the loss of his partner, Sean McPherson has his eyes set on going back into law enforcement, and being with his Oiancé e, Emma Benton. At the Pines & Quill writers retreat in Bellingham Bay, they are looking at building their life together. Sean becomes a wrench in the works for the Gambino crime family who plan to use Bellingham to trafOic humans, drugs, and weapons. Gambino has every intention of making sure that Sean doesn’t stay a problem for long. The writers at the retreat are an
A Smuggler’s Last Song
Emma Grant has been appointed–or rather, threatened–into taking on a new project for her
grandfather, Richard Grant, who does not take no for an answer. His devious methods to convince Emma that her immediate assistance is mandatory only reinforces Emma’s wish that this will be the last time her grandfather will make such demands. Upon arriving in Paris, delivered by the luxury of a Grant family jet, Emma embarks on numerous endeavors. It’s not only assassins who want her dead, but family members line up for their shot at her, too. Eventually, Emma begins to realize her strengths and who she can trust. All the while, Emma sees her desire to return to normal life fading with each mortal combat.
“A Smuggler’s Last Song” puts a spin on the trope of the family member who doesn’t want the money with the strings attached. Emma is a fun character to follow around as she escapes her bizarre family. However, the numerous names involved with each scene begs the need for a diagram of who’s who, and bogs down the pacing this kind of story deserves. The romances Emma could have had would have made the story much more tantalizing and edgy. Unfortunately, readers may also Oind a delay in action due to the abundance of over-saturated details such as “caramel eyes” and “chocolate hair” to describe the onslaught of characters. For stories such as these, with neardeath experiences, readers want action. “A Smuggler’s Last Song” is a great kick-off to a series that has explosive potential.Moira Wolf
Indelible (A Sean McPherson Novel Book One)Laurie Buchanan
suspense is spot-on, and there are constant questions of whether or not Hughes will get the revenge he seeks. One warning is not to start this book if one intends to read just one chapter - it’s hard to put down and is a page turner worthy of the praise! An exciting read.
Sean McPherson is trying to put the past behind him. When his partner was shot and killed by a sniper, Sean found himself wounded in the line of duty and grieving. Going in a completely opposite direction, he takes a job at a writing retreat as a groundskeeper. What he doesn’t expect is for his past to follow him, and try to Oinish what was started. The sniper who took out his partner tracks Sean down at the retreat – and he wants revenge. With a cast of colorful characters at the retreat, the sniper, Sean isn’t Oinding his mission an easy one. Will this be the Oinal run for him? Or will he survive once again against the man who killed his partner, and almost killed him?
The Oirst book in the Sean McPherson series sets the scene, and does so very well indeed!
Sean is a troubled guy who has survivor’s guilt. He has done a complete one eighty with his career, but ultimately Oinds himself going back to his cop roots. The setting of a writers retreat is fun and will speak to the heart of writers who decide to delve into this novel. The
Alicia Stone is being sent on mandatory vacation time. Her coworkers have had enough of her changed attitude since the death of her husband, and her boss is giving her a month to deal with her grief. Alicia trades her ER nurse job in Seattle for her private, secluded country cabin in the mountains of New Mexico. Alicia gets settled in and then hikes to the spot where her phone can get reception, but on her way back, she’s sure she hears gunshots. Upon returning to her cabin, she Oinds a bleeding man on her porch, wielding a gun. Her nurse instincts kick in, and she swiftly aids the man who very likely is a criminal. If she can save him, she’ll send him on his way, however, his dangerous ways may Oind them Oirst.
Ms. Ryan turns a winter cabin into a safe oasis – as well as a place that attracts much danger! Alicia is strong willed, independent, intelligent, and down to earth. Her spunky personality makes her very likable. Rey/Nick is the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome, who oozes his sensual side, even while injured. They are both moths to Olame throughout this dramatic and suspenseful spicy romance. The dog that appears and always protects Alicia is an endearing character, which also draws tears. Although somewhat predictable, the plot and story are eloquently described. Readers will Oly through this book at a quick clip, as Ms. Ryan draws all in for a front row seat. Healing hearts and beautiful compromises build a meaningful relationship. A completely addicting read!Viola Robbins
Welcome to the tropics…
Where the weather isn’t the only thing that SIZZLES!!
Tag along with “The James Gang”, a Special Forces team who finds as much action off the battlefield as they do on it. What could be better than alpha males, strong women, warm tropical beaches, and romance? You’re about to find out.
I hope you enjoy the heat because things can get a little steamy here…
throughout the story, especially Marly, who is devastated and at a loss as to what really happened to her best friend, Rae. She struggles with memories and jealousy of her friend while readers will be rooting for her to Oigure things out and Oind happiness.Victoria Zumbrum
Marly in PiecesCathrina Constantine
Marly and Rae are best friends and have been through a lot together. Each is very jealous of the other, but they’re so close they consider themselves sisters. They love each other and Oight as sisters do, and even have made a blood vow. So when Marly discovers Rae in their secret spot, dead with her wrists slit, she cannot believe she committed suicide. Marly is devastated and thinks about all the events that led to this, but will she Oigure out what really happened to her friend? Or will it be another secret she has kept from Marly?
“Marly in Pieces” is a story addressing teens and their relationships that will draw the reader in from the very Oirst page. The story is beautifully written and told in pieces past and present, which the author has done a great job of combining. This story covers many sensitive issues that teens face in today’s society, such as sex, suicide, child abuse, shooting, and even teen pregnancy. This tale is an emotional roller coaster ride, Oilled with a lot of twists and turns that will have the reader guessing until the end. Cathrina Constantine has created very complex characters that struggle
Never Gonna Happen LindaKage
Peyton and York grew up together. Their mothers, having been friends for years, have their sights set on the pair falling in love as they get older. York does everything for Peyton. He takes her to school with him and looks after her since she has severe allergic reactions to a multitude of things. York is annoyed with Peyton the majority of the time, especially when he offers the most popular girl in school a ride and he tries to land a date with her while Peyton is listening in on their conversation from the backseat. Peyton and York have only tolerated each other up to this point, and falling in love has never been in the cards, or so they think.
“Never Gonna Happen” is a very fast-paced and fun young adult book following a blossoming
relationship of two very lovable characters. In this high school romance, there are twists and turns that are very unexpected and will keep readers wanting more. The pacing of the development of Peyton and York’s relationship is done incredibly well. The character development makes them very relatable and down to earth. The hardships that they face are very realistic, and readers will get a glimpse into how they handle some difOicult situations. The side characters are a blast, and will have readers laughing out loud. Ms. Kage does an amazing job of implementing suspense, romance, and realistic familial situations into a wellrounded young adult book.Jennifer Shepherd
The Bridge to Magic (The Sundered Web #1)
FANTASY: A universe bound by three worlds: one of gods, one of magic, and one of men. Elika, an orphan who wanders the streets of Terren, watches every day as more men and women take the bridge–the Bridge to Magic. Her entire life she has watched people give up their lives in Terren and face death as they perish crossing
the bridge, or make it to the Deadlands on the other side. Either option is death, and magic is to blame. When the blight comes, all of mankind will face it. When Elika comes to realize she has magic inside of her, she must decide whether she will risk her life on the bridge, or die trying to purge the magic from her soul.
“The Bridge to Magic” is a wonderful example of great world-building. The foundation of the world is laid out right from the beginning, while each chapter starts with a page from “History of Men, Gods, and Magic”, written by their Priest, Oderrin. These excerpts open a window into the world that was once alive and well before the Sundering War, and it gives insight into why every man, woman, and child, hates magic. However, when Elika begins to learn the true stories, she is exceedingly reluctant to accept them. It is frustrating to see that throughout the entire novel, even when the truth is right in front of her, she remains blinded and stubborn. It would be more satisfying to see extra growth in Elika and her beliefs by the end; however, there is still plenty of time for that given this is only the Oirst of the series. There is a battle of good and evil that stretches across these pages, and a gripping adventure waiting to discover what Elika Oinally decides.Sadie Wilson
Cursed (Morningstar Academy, Book One)L. R. W. Lee
make the different locations distinct and believable. There are a few points in the story where it drags from exposition, and the book ends on a clifOhanger. It is a gripping set up for the next installment of the series, and the overall plot will keep readers hooked from start to Oinish! There are enough differences in the genre to keep it refreshing and fun without straying too far from the usual tropes that readers have come to love.
This is a great book for lovers of young adult fantasy romances!Chelsea Andersen
FANTASY: Gladriel used to be the top warrior angel. Her task: protect the humans and save them from harm. When she kills a demon, something she shouldn’t have been able to do, she brings on the wrath of the other demons. Rather than letting the Almighty handle the situation, Gladriel takes things into her own hands and gets expelled from Heaven. She is sent to Morningstar Academy, a school for newly fallen angels, and her world is Olipped upside down. Now she is like the demons, forced to ruin the lives of the humans she once had to protect. She is determined to not comply with her new orders. Her only hope for a way out is her longtime friend, Kessien, who is trying everything in his power to reverse her sentence—and to do so before it costs her, her soul. Ms. Lee builds a rich world of angels and demons that readers will become absorbed in instantly! Gladriel is sassy and stubborn which might grate on some readers’ nerves while others will love her! She is a unique character that is refreshing in the YA genre, breaking the mold of the typical heroine. The world building is solid, and a lot of time is taken to
A Maiden of Snakes
Marchioness Lamberico wants nothing more than to conceive a child, but after three years of trying, she still Oinds herself without child. In desperation, she follows rumors to seek the help of Imelda, a powerful witch who agrees to help – with a caution that there will be consequences. When the baby girl is born with a snake wrapped around her neck, the Marchioness is very frightened. But all is forgotten as the snake disappears and the baby, Biancabella, leads a blessed life. Biancabella and the snake, her twin sister Samaritana, are
reunited in secret and meet for years, secretly training and growing their bond and gifts. When Biancabella meets and falls in love with the King of Naples, everything changes as Samaritana feels betrayed. When the sisters are separated, misfortune – rather than blessings – befall them. Until they can trust their bond again, they will constantly face trials and hardships.
This is a retelling of an Italian fairytale steeped in old Italy and fantasy. Marchioness Lamberico in the beginning is easy to relate to, and her struggles with decisions are well written and developed. However, when Biancabella enters as the main character, she is very naı̈ve, blinded by her goodness. Her twin sister, the snake, Samaritana, is very different. Her mission has always been to protect her sister, but Samaritana is jealous and controlling. The character development of the sisters is lacking in this fairytale. This is not a romantic love story, but a story of the love between two sisters. With more attention to the characters’ growth, this story could have evolved into a great tale of love and redemption.Cara Cieslak
Against the Pack
future – and survival. What relationships will survive and who they will each be afterwards will come down to time they don’t have.
Melender is facing a difOicult decision: leave home, her mother, and her boyfriend of several years to attend Harvard and become a doctor, or stay home and possibly fail to live up to her potential? When an emotionally charged walk with her mother on a rural road becomes a Oight against a pack of dogs, Melender is faced with a new, more immediate choice. Leave her injured mother on a narrow ledge and hike out of the ravine to Oind help, or stay and hope someone realizes they are missing in time. Within twentyfour hours, Melender and her friends each make some difOicult decisions that will affect their
A tense coming of age tale, “Against the Pack” shows the events of a single weekend from the rotating perspectives of Melender, and her friends, Wayne and Viney. Each of them are faced with tough choices about one another and their individual futures as the story continues. Readers will become engrossed in the teen’s thoughts and decisions as they race to save Melender and her mom, and come to terms with who they are and what they want. A light romance threads throughout the story, but the primary focus is on the individual friendships and family relationships they have, while Melender determines what she really wants in life. Agree or disagree with her Oinal decision, the journey she takes to get there is a wild and thrilling one readers won’t be able to put down!Sarah E Bradley
Letting Go (The De4iant Sisters Duet-Book 1)Jacquie Biggar
Renee and Izzy are sisters who lose both their parents. Renee has returned home in the wake of her mom’s passing to help, but it seems the only one who wants her there is her little brother, Benjamin. Izzy is still hurt from the Oirst time Renee left, and Simon, her one true love, has found love with someone else and is engaged. Renee is determined to stick it out and be there for her family – even though all she wants to do is run. But running is what she did in the past, and she knows it isn’t going to work this time. No one can heal unless they all start being honest and trusting one another.
**Trigger warning: this story deals with suicide and mental health.** The night Renee’s father committed suicide, she also lost trust in her true love, Simon, and ran away. When Renee returns upon her mother’s death, she is faced with so many feelings and the heartaches revolving around the people she loved and left. Renee, through therapy, has gained coping skills, but Oinds her sister, Izzy, has grown and found her own strengths while working to keep the family together in Renee’s absence. Simon and Renee’s instant chemistry when they reunite leaps off the page and straight to the heart. The story moves quickly, with the viewpoint switching between the different characters, making it harder to connect to the characters and invest in the story. A gripping plot with complex characters, the only thing missing is more—more of the story, more time with each character, and more of the chemistry when Renee and Simon collide.Cara Cieslak
The Gentleman in the Ash Tree (Allen Abbey Romances #1)Rosanne E. Lortz
the side characters is easily handled and explained while providing enough momentum to move the story along. Readers looking for a complete and simple romance with a bit of adventure thrown in should look no further than this book and its secret passages for a fun afternoon read!Sarah E Bradley
help, and perhaps the love she has always dreamed of.
Eloise Blackburn little expects to Oind a stranger up the old ash tree when she climbs it to rescue her sister’s kite – especially a suspicious man who claims a relationship with the neighboring Allen family, a relationship they’ve never mentioned. Except then the Allen’s come hunting down the stranger and her family instead of ousting the interloper, claiming Crispin Allen’s story is entirely plausible. Helping Crispin track down and claim his missing inheritance is just the sort of adventure Eloise never thought she’d embark on, but something about the cheeky man from the West Indies sparks something inside her that just might help them Oind something more than a missing trunk.
A sweet little novella, “The Gentleman in the Ash Tree” brings adventure, family drama, and a ton of delightful romance together in this short tale. While the story does not have the room to give any major character development, it does set the stage for Eloise to fall for Crispin, and for the pair to solve the mystery of Crispin’s missing inheritance in a realistic way. The conOlict with
The Dream of Love (The Book of Love)Meara Platt
Lady Remi is a delightful heroine! She is a spitOire with a genius for getting into one scrape after another. Her exuberant innocence and penchant for trouble are the perfect juxtaposition to Vicar Adam’s patience and calm demeanor. This is a novella, which doesn’t allow enough pages to Olesh out the setting and all characters, which may leave readers wishing for a longer book. Remi did tend to repeat the unfair situation with her father to Adam, which slowed down the action. Timing is also hard to follow occasionally. Otherwise, this is a creative, organic story, with good conOlict and characterization! Readers will absolutely want to spend a few hours with Remi and Adam, read their clean, humorous romance, and leave with a feeling of joy in their hearts!Emerson Matthews
HISTORICAL: Lady Remington, “Remi” HartOield has been sent away by her self-absorbed mother and dismissed by her demanding father. She has never known love in her life. It’s the one thing she dreams of feeling. If only there were someone—just one person—willing to show her real love. Meanwhile, Vicar Adam Carstairs is trying to avoid his past. Love hurt him seriously when he experienced his brother dying in his arms on the battleOield. Filled with guilt and hurt, Adam leaves his native Scotland home and travels to Wellesford, England, to be their vicar. Then Lady Remi’s overbearing father arranges a new—and unwanted—future for Remi, and she turns to Adam for
Seven Swans a SwimmingTwelve Days of Christmas, Book 6Emily E. K. Murdoch
HISTORICAL: Arabella Fitzroy is beside herself with the unfairness of it all! Her father insists she
spends the Christmas holiday with the family of her intended, the man she's been promised to almost since birth! The man she's never met, corresponded with, or even heard rumors about. Once she arrives at his family's estate, he shows himself to be rude, insufferable, secretive, and unwelcoming. Nathaniel Cartier has led a reclusive life on his family's estate, and isn't happy to have it disrupted by the talkative, nosy, red-headed city girl his father has chosen to be his bride. Hopefully his off-putting silent manner will encourage her to plead for release from their engagement. Swans, stolen kisses, and secret rendezvous swiftly set aside both their initial judgment of one another!
"Seven Swans a Swimming" is an enchanting holiday tale of love and romance. Not quite an enemies to lovers tale since the two main characters are complete strangers, but close. Readers may Oind the story either refreshingly sweet or remarkably oldfashioned. The main characters have an undeniable chemistry that gifts readers with the classic will they or won't they? The secondary characters, both human and fowl, wrap the story in a familiar plot with a small twist. Although there is no outright enemy to hate, readers will deOinitely feel the character's frustrations with having their choices taken or limited. Ms. Murdoch manages to give readers a singularly sweet story set during the holidays that is nicely wrapped with the shy sensibility of innocence, and tied up with a bow of enjoyable sensuality.Tonya Mathenia
Castle of Bones: A Medieval Romance (De Wolfe Pack)Kathyrn Le Veque
tale is dosed with slight romance and some humorous moments, making the book hard to put down, too. Hermes, the pragmatic, logical hero, isn’t perfect and does things that are a bit off-putting but still manages to be a wonderful guy. Catrine, the enigmatic heroine, is tragically misunderstood but not a horrible person. Ms. Le Veque really knows how to write a Gothic medieval tale Oilled with ghosts, curses, spooky places, and realistic characters that readers will absolutely relish in!Roslynn Ernst
HISTORICAL: Hermes de Norville wakes from a horrible dream where he sees a woman hanging over a cliff. Hermes then wanders aimlessly about, coming upon a village at the foot of a cursed place, known as Castle Draygon. Hermes drinks alone at a tavern until a beautiful woman, Lady Catrine de la Pare, also known as the “Angel of Death”, arrives asking the villagers for help. Hermes saves Catrine from them, and promises to Oind out the real reason why she causes so many to die. Hermes follows her to the keep and attempts to get answers but falls down a hill. When Hermes awakens in a healer’s cottage, hurt yet still willing to go back and Oind out the truth about Catrine and the palace, he ends up risking his life in the process too.
Utterly delightful! A frighteningly scary story that is spine-tingly marvelous! Many elements are jam-packed into this ever-moving story, yet it nonetheless manages to be satisfying and not lacking despite its short length. The instant attraction between the main characters happens very quickly, but amazingly, it does work. The fast-paced, mysterious
Eight Maids a Milking: A Regency Historical Romance Holiday TaleEmily E K Murdoch
HISTORICAL: Miss Katarina
“Kitty” Fitzroy is bored with all the Christmas season activities her family has planned. Kitty doesn’t want to even spend time with them, preferring to hang out in the cowshed watching the milkmaids milk the cows. When a family friend, Luke, arrives and brings his coachman, Isaac Emmett, Kitty is intrigued by him. Kitty enjoys talking with Isaac despite his arrogance and highhanded attitude. Kitty manages to
escape every event her family has planned just to spend time with Isaac. The more Kitty converses with Isaac, the harder she falls for him, and she decides she wants him as her husband. Isaac tries to maintain his distance from Kitty, but is losing the battle. Unfortunately, Isaac also has a secret. When Kitty Oinds out the truth, will it make her rethink everything about him?
What a fun little yuletide novella to deOinitely put even a Grinch into the Christmas spirit! Even though the novellas in the series can be read in any order, everything is happening at once, so there is some confusion about what is going on or what characters are with whom, especially since one of the siblings in the previous book is already with the family friend, so the placement of the stories seems off. The past isn’t really delved into, especially when it concerns the haughty hero, Isaac, making it hard to relate to him. Katarina, the Oiercely independent yet naı̈ve heroine lives in a fantasy land, and never realizes how much her world will change when she pursues Isaac. However, the story is a fanciful, interesting tale that readers will just delight in!Roslynn Ernst
Nevermore: A Medieval Romance (De Wolfe Pack)Kathryn Le Veque
HISTORICAL: Mariana de Allerston is a postulate in the infamous Whitby Abbey, not by choice but by her father’s decree. Declaring her willful and disobedient, he has placed her in the care of the Abbess, a woman whose soul is as black as the raven she keeps. Atreus de Norville, a powerful knight from the House of de Norville and kin to the House of de Wolfe, has secretly been meeting Mariana, determined to make her his wife. The time has Oinally come for them to escape. Mariana returns to the Abbey for her last night, but she is brought before the Abbess where she is condemned for being a child of Satan. Nothing Mariana does will dissuade the Abbess from a brutal punishment that will separate her from her beloved Atreus forever. Can Atreus and Mariana Oind happiness or is their love doomed to die in a watery grave?
“Nevermore” ratchets up the chills and thrills to deliver a gothic story with a spooky punch!
From the start, atmosphere pervades the story with a cloistered Abby perched on a cliff, a horriOic storm, ravens, and an
evil Mother Abbess. This story was Oirst published in the Halloween anthology, “Upon a Midnight Dreary”.
Characterization is light with an emphasis on plot and pacing. Mariana is not a heroine who waits to be rescued–she Oights for freedom with grit and desperation. Atreus is decisive in his choice and uncaring of the consequences. The ending comes fast, and readers may wish there was more of an epilogue focused on Mariana and Atreus.
“Nevermore” builds the stakes quickly—a spine-tingling tale that can’t be put down!Tricia Hill
Pipers Piping (The Twelve Days of Christmas Book 2)
Emily E K Murdoch
HISTORICAL: Seventeen-year-old Harmony Fitzroy might be shy when it comes to conversations, but when she sits down at a pianoforte her talent shines. So, it is with delight and trepidation that she accepts an invitation to take part in the Christmas Eve concert at the Assembly Rooms in Bath—her Oirst public performance! Visiting her music instructor, she meets David
Navarre, a piccolo player, whose talent leaves Harmony breathless. As Harmony spends time with David, she falls under his spell. He is everything she ever dreamed of in a suitor. He understands her and her passion for music. Soon she experiences passion of another kind, but reality interferes when she learns distressing news about her family. Furthermore, David refuses to discuss his family, leaving Harmony in despair. Can Christmas work its magic and bring these two young lovers together again?
“Eleven Pipers Piping” is a heartwarming holiday tale of love and romance that will charm readers! This novella is the second entry in the Twelve Days of Christmas series set around the Fitzroy family. Harmony Fitzroy is a pianist who comes from a close loving family where her musical talent has been allowed to develop. Harmony is quite shy and seems immature and too young at the start of the book, making it hard to get behind her as a heroine. David might be a few years older, but his secretiveness about his family is never satisfactorily explained. He shows no real growth by the end of the story. Music lovers will enjoy the musical details that are sprinkled throughout the story. “Eleven Pipers Piping” captures the holiday spirit with love, laughter, and romance!Tricia Hill
Nine Ladies Dancing (The Twelve Days of Christmas Book 4)Emily E. K. Murdoch
HISTORICAL: Taking a chance at unrequited love? Olivia Fitzroy is the eldest of twelve female Fitzroy cousins. When nearly the entire Fitzroy family descends upon the family home in Chalcroft for Christmas, the house is Oilled with boisterous noise and joyful reunions. Olivia is thankful that it is an all-family affair, except for one “interloper.” Olivia has a crush on her childhood friend, the new Lord Luke Kingsley, whose late father was her father’s best friend. That she believes her attraction is one-sided on her part makes his presence at the Christmas gathering unbearable. She hasn’t seen him since Easter. Surely if he returned her interest, he would have visited sooner! Olivia is so vexed by his presence that she puts up barriers in self defense, but she fears that her family, and perhaps Luke, can see through her feigned indifference.
Emily Murdoch’s charming holiday-themed romance authentically captures all the twinges and Olutters of uncertain love. Every Olush of self-doubt, each stolen glance of longing, and all the defensive snubs on Olivia’s
part, are minutely documented to allow the reader to experience that fresh terror of falling in love with one who appears unaffected. Yet Luke is not unaffected at all, as he relentlessly pursues Olivia throughout the Chalcroft household, in a predatory cat and mouse game that is as amusing as it is titillating. Miscommunication and jumping to unfounded conclusions continue to plague their relationship even once their feelings are revealed to each other, resulting in a pairing that is both parts lustful and tentative. This is certainly a stimulating addition to the Fitzroy family saga!Joan Lai
Ten Lords a Leaping (The Twelve Days of Christmas Book 3)
Emily E. K. Murdoch
HISTORICAL: Dr. Stuart
Walsingham has been courting Miss Caroline Fitzroy, stepdaughter of a wealthy and well-connected gentleman, for the better part of a year and has Oinally mustered up the courage to ask for her hand. The charming young doctor who has risen from poverty will need to work very hard to maintain Miss Fitzroy in
her comfortable lifestyle. That doesn’t matter to Caroline, however. She is deeply in love with Stuart. They can hardly keep their hands to themselves, and their courtship has been getting very steamy. On the night of the glorious engagement party thrown by Caroline’s Papa, a mysterious gentleman who was dancing with Stuart’s mother collapses and dies! When the stranger’s identity is revealed, Stuart discovers belatedly that he had an uncle – and now has a peerage. Stuart has become the new Earl of Cheshire!
Politics and privilege interfere with matters of the heart in this short English historical romance. The new engagement becomes uncertain once Stuart’s station is raised multifold levels above Caroline’s! The earldom confers not only status and inOluence, but Oinancial burden and social responsibility. Caroline may be supportive of Stuart’s new title, but his mother is outspoken in her desire for Stuart to marry someone who could bring more monetary stability to Cheshire. Stuart is torn, and Caroline is heartbroken. What is the solution to the lovers’ dilemma? In this straightforward conOlict between love and duty, the reader’s anguish on behalf of Caroline’s apparent reversal of fortune is abruptly mended by some shifts in luck and conscience. Perfect for fans of a happy ending!Joan Lai
romance will love this offering, and it’s a great way to kill an hour or so. The tension between the characters is intense, and there is searing heat between them.
“Twelve Drummers Drumming” is a great start to the series, and it will be exciting to read the other books to come. Download this to the e-reader and enjoy it with a nice cup of tea or favorite beverage.
Drumming (The Twelve Days of Christmas Book 1)Emily E. K. Murdoch
Captain Hugh Rotherham has come home from war, but he is nothing remotely like the man he was before he left. He is thrown when he sees Jemima Fitzroy, who is helping veterans returning from the war. Jemima is part of a family who don’t understand her and she puts her focus into her work with veterans. What neither of them expects is for their feelings to grow and become something more. Hugh wants to make sure that Jemima’s reputation remains intact, but it becomes increasingly difOicult when his passion for her becomes almost too much to bear. Jemima also has to be careful what her family Oinds out, because if they Oind out she has been seeing a man unchaperoned, she will Oind herself in a perilous situation.
Emily EK Murdoch has written a great little novella that can be read in one sitting. Jemima and Hugh are great characters that have a lot going on in their lives. Readers will be able to relate to them and enjoy going on the journey as they Oind love for one another. Fans of historicalLynn-Alexandria McKendrick
Miss Windermere Woos a Highlander - Windermeres in Love, Book 3
Lady Juliet Windermere, orphaned as a toddler, grows up amongst her many Dalhousie cousins, forming a special bond with her outgoing and dramatic cousin, Delilah. Spending a summer in Italy, she also forms a secret infatuation with their Scottish neighbor, Highlander Lord Rory Macbeth, Viscount Kilmuir. Sadly, his spurned proposal to her cousin puts a damper on her feelings. Although his suit was declined, everyone assumes he still carries a torch and plans to continue his pursuit. Thinking to purge her infatuation, Juliet offers to
compose a love poem for Rory to read to Delilah. Said endeavor requires them to spend time together. Sparks ignite and she woos him into a blazing love affair. Rory has no interest in pursuing her cousin once he becomes aware of Juliet, the warrior poet with emerald eyes and a passionate soul. Will he manage to win her heart, or will their Oling become a memory?
A rambunctious romp that will woo readers to quickly turn pages hoping for a breeze to cool them off! This tale is a delight of sexiness and humor. On second thought, maybe pages will be read slowly to savor the sensuous
details of two lovers with off the charts chemistry! The ensemble cast of cousins and bit players make brief appearances in a straightforward plot of seduction. Readers may yearn for the magical landscape of a Scottish fairy glen or hidden waterfall, especially if a strapping Highlander is included! Ms. Darling's trademark strong women and even stronger men–along with some downright sexy love scenes are deOinitely delivered in this Highland romance of another Windermere in love.Tonya Mathenia
Petrichor Blooms (The Halcyon Universe #2)
SCIENCE FICTION: Danya Xiang is raised as a member of the Greenjacket rebel organization, as well as her twin sister, Nox. Danya couldn’t be more different from her sister if she tried. While Nox is in the military and loves to go on missions, Danya prefers to work in food production, far away from the military. But when Nox becomes injured right before she is set to go out on a mission, she convinces her sister to trade places with her so that Nox can get the intel that she needs. After Danya reluctantly takes her sister’s place, things appear to be going smoothly. But after the Greenjacket army captures Amy Ediya, a university student, Danya and Amy decide to desert the army and go on their own quest to Oind Amy’s family.
“Petrichor Blooms” is a science Oiction story with some female/female romance thrown in. It is well-written and easy to read. The dialogue between the characters is enjoyable and humorous. Danya and Nox even share some unique abilities that will keep readers invested in how this story progresses. “Petrichor Blooms” is the second book in the series, and is written as a standalone. However, readers may Oind it a little difOicult to understand the world building without reading the Oirst book. At times, it can become a little confusing. While the pacing can be very slow at times, Ms. Briar does a good job of keeping the story engaging in this fun space adventure that will leave readers wanting more.Jennifer Shepherd
unique features, it successfully provides the reader with more backstory about Jax, and adds some hints to his past which will give lovers of this genre a little bit of something extra to chew on while they wait for the next in the “Jax Diamond Mysteries” series.Sarah E Bradley
Two of a Kind: The Beginning Jax Diamond Mysteries #4
Jax Diamond and his pint-sized puppy partner have solved many cases together, but their Oirst happened over the Christmas holidays during the 1920s, beginning with a robbery that goes wrong. Unable to forgive himself for a mistake in the line of duty, OfOicer Jax Diamond quits the force and attempts to Oind a new direction in his life. When a string of toy robberies trip Jax’s instincts, he Oinds himself investigating with a puppy sidekick. But broke, without a badge, and old enemies looking to get even, solving the crime and saving Christmas might take some real Christmas magic – along with some quick detective work.
When Jax and his longtime partner, Tim Murphy, begin the story with a simple lunch run that turns ominous. Set in the roaring twenties, this novella acts as a prequel to the series, with backstory on what launched Jax’s career as a P.I. as the focus. Romance is minimal in this tale with the mystery Oilling the story, and pulling the reader along. As a novella, the book is a quick and simple read with a straightforward mystery. While it lacks any major stand out or
Trip the Light Phantasmic (The Gothic Gwyn Mysteries, Book One)Judith Sterling
Gwyneth Camm has always preferred “serious” books to her great-aunt’s love of romance novels. But when she inherits her great-aunt’s house in Salem, Massachusetts, she discovers there might be more to her greataunt’s books when she falls asleep reading one of the gothic mystery novels the woman left behind. Transported into the story as the main character, Gwyneth quickly determines the only way home is to solve the mystery, but magic doesn’t come with a rulebook, and playing someone else’s role can have complications of it’s own.
An intriguing mix of gothic mystery and “Alice in Wonderland” like characteristics!
Gwyneth is lured to a book by a ghostly presence and Oinds herself
trapped in the story. While the majority of “Trip the Light Phantasmic” is about Gwyneth solving the mystery she is stuck in, there are hints of magic and mystery about the house she inherited at the beginning and end of the story. Additionally, there are some hints at a greater secret, perhaps tied to Gwyneth being transported into the book at the very end to be discovered in a later story. A side thread of romance teases the reader as Gwyneth Oinds herself attracted to one of the characters, but like real life readers, her book boyfriend is left behind when the story ends. Fortunately, this series has just begun, and promises more mystery, and possibly more romance for readers to enjoy!Sarah E Bradley
Dark River Rising: A Winston Radhauser Mystery Book #13
**Trigger warning: child abduction, child exploitation, sexual exploitation of a minor, death of a child**
When Ashland Detective Winston Radhauser gets called to the scene of a crime, little does he know an old case of his has come full circle. Det. Radhauser Oinds himself looking at the body of a young girl,
beaten to death and left in a dumpster, tossed out like garbage. Turns out, the victim is from an old abduction case that was never solved. Det. Radhauser's wants to Oind the answers to this tragic death and prosecute the offenders. Ava Cartwright is watching her body be found in a dumpster from above. As Ava learns to navigate the world of the spirits, she has one wish: to Oind her daughter and to make sure she is safe. Will Ava and Winston’s wishes come true?
Ms. Goldner has navigated the unsavory world of sexual and child exploitation with sensitivity, respect, and care for the victims involved, and has taken an extremely sensitive topic and woven an engaging story where readers will picture a small slice of this larger world. Readers will be rooting for Winston as he Oigures out Ava’s story. Some readers may Oind themselves longing to hear more from certain characters, as questions are left unanswered as the storyline surrounding some peripheral characters could have a stronger presence in the story. The author has done an incredible job of telling this tale from multiple sides and multiple characters by using the characters in a unique way. Readers will be moved to tears when reading the
last chapters of this compelling story, and will Oind satisfaction at how the story ends.Heather Kroll
The Mistress Murders (The Perfect Poison Murders Book 3)E.L. Johnson
HISTORICAL: Poppy Morton is a country girl raised by her aunt and uncle. Getting away from the embarrassment of confessing feelings for Constable Henry Dyngley, she heads for London. But she has other reasons - both to earn her own way as a companion and to Oind her mother whom she was told was dead. While in London working as a companion for Mistress Beatrice
Hayes, she meets other mistresses who are targeted Oirst by a cruel letter writer, and are then being murdered. Once constable Dyngley is put on the case, they work together again to solve the murders - including her own mother’s, whom she’d just barely met. Dyngley faces some competition for Poppy’s heart as Tom Harris, the procurer, Oinds her genteel and unique. Can Poppy and Dyngley Oind their happy ending in addition to solving the case? Poppy Morton is a wonderfully written character, full of innocence and spunk Oinding her own way in a complicated and new-to-her world. Poppy must decide for herself if she can reconcile the morality of working for a mistress rather than solely relying on her upbringing as a clergyman’s niece. Changing her values in life as she learns and grows in life experience like any young woman, she is learning people are much the same even if they have different stations in life along the way. While the mystery was reasonably obvious, the depth in friendships and characters is lovely and entertaining. The third in the series, this book stands well on its own, and the reader doesn’t feel left out not having read others of the series.Amy Rubottom
has given so many interesting and involved plot points, but has not been able to truly give them the time they need. The inconsistencies and rapid resolutions lessen the feeling of suspense that a story like this requires. Overall, the ideas and plot plans in this novella are intriguing, and would make for a great expanded universe.
the upper hand, the spreading chaos could trigger a great Flood to wash the world of wickedness. Which side will prevail?
Love Between Universes
Ahhn Po is Keeper of Globe Mirrors on Messarett, and is responsible for monitoring safety in the universe. Geyer Trew is a doctor on Earth, desperately trying to Oind a cure for a disease that is rapidly claiming lives. During her monitoring of the globe mirrors, Ahhn is alerted that a vaccine has been discovered. Seeking the vaccine and the man who created it, Ahhn travels to Earth. Geyer then travels back to Messarett with Ahhn to begin the process of discovering where the mystery plant that fuels the cure can be found. While working to prevent a war on her planet and save lives, Geyer and Ahhn discover that the hope for a cure requires them to work together–with her planet's greatest enemy. They may live universes apart, but the common thread of saving the people they care about brings them together across the universe.
This book is a novella which means that the reader can expect a story that is fulOilling but not lengthy, and unfortunately, this story tries to do too much in too little time. The characters are strong, and with more pages, it would allow the reader to fully immerse in their story. The authorValerie Vicars
Leviticus (Dictates of the Servators Book 1)
Servators, servants of the Maker, strive to maintain order against incursion by Breachers, who sow chaos. They wage a secret hightech war, vying to recruit the best young minds to further their causes. Leviticus Radix, a Computational Engineering student in his Oinal year at the prestigious Denmount Court of Learning, has caught the interest of both sides. Lev is a genius, and his facial recognition program could change the balance of power if it falls into the wrong hands. Dangerous decisions present themselves to Lev, his best friend Nico, Lev’s school rival Kade, and Kayla, the young Servator novice who was charged with vetting Lev. If Breachers gain
“Leviticus” is an alternative retelling of biblical history set in a technologically advanced antediluvian world. At times, one can stumble on descriptions of the complicated technology, perhaps serving to enhance the messianic stature of Lev’s eidetic memory and supercomputing pattern recognition. Lev, Nico, Kade, and Kayla are discovering their purposes, choosing their stance against good and evil, and shaking off the blinders of their childhoods. Their multiple points of view sometimes do not Olow in unison, but the narrative otherwise reads with unpretentious ease. Light on romance, the imaginative world building and sympathetic young protagonists are perfect for a Young Adult audience. The prophecy driven plot and cool gadgets will appeal to fans of Asimov, Herbert, and the Wachowskis. As Book One of a trilogy, “Leviticus” does not end with a Oirm conclusion, instead it entices with the promise of more to come.Joan Lai
Alien’s Gateway [Lost Brides and Alien Warriors]
pirates, her crew is now missing, and Elena Oinds herself on a slave ship about to be sold. Daegan is a Rhonar warrior, roaming the galaxy to rescue captured Terrans (humans) in order to secure a treaty between his species and earth, to Oind mates, and save his race from extinction. Daegan and his team board the slave ship, but before the rescue can take place they are discovered, and the ship is set to self-destruct. Elena and Daegan have to escape on a pod without his brethren. Will they be rescued? And has Daegan found his true mate?
Elena Rivera is a crew captain for the Oirst deep space vessel tasked with transporting earth’s scientists to create a colony on a new planet. Ambushed by space
With imaginative world-building, the premise and the story’s start are promising. It is fast-paced and packed with tension. There is a mystery, an escape, a rescue, and another escape which turns into yet another challenge as their
escape pod crashes and strands them on an unknown planet. A few more challenges ensue until Elena and Daegan are Oinally trapped in a cave. Then it turns into a completely different book. While they wait for rescue, courtesy of a messenger alien, the story turns into a full-on steamfest, which is both clinical and comical. It may have worked better if it were less of a rollercoaster ride and more of a gradual buildup with more dialogue. This would have made their relationship engaging and the characters believable. Nevertheless, this a short and easy read, with humorous moments that keep it lighthearted.Rika Chandra
(Lost in Time Book 2)
An independent young dermatologist, Jenne Lazaar, is visiting the Met in New York with her best friends, Emily and Gabriella. She is captivated by–
and then swept into–one of a trio of Allegretto’s paintings, straight into the turn of the 20th century! Landing amid the wreckage in Paris during the Exposition Universelle with no money or identiOication, Jenne must Oigure out how to get back to presentday New York. Xavier Doumaz works for the French police. He is suspicious of Jenee’s sudden appearance at a crime scene, with unconventional clothes and speech. His attraction to her is undeniable and clouds his judgment, but a deeper and more sinister plot is afoot. Will Jenee be able to solve the mystery and return home? Dare she bring the handsome Xavier into her conOidence?
The author paints a vivid picture of Paris in 1900, with the heroine landing in the middle of an historic moment during the Paris
exhibition. The research and attention to detail on the factual accounts and related events pull the reader in, weaving a magical spell of possibilities, including encounters with well-known artists of the time. It is an enthralling read that will certainly make the reader wish they could travel in time as well! The intricate plot lines may be a little confusing for readers at times if the preceding novel has not been read. The encounters feel a little contrived at times, as does the meeting with her benefactor so early on. Perhaps the story could have expanded on the friends’ relationships and plot lines and why these girls were chosen. Nevertheless, “Paris Time” is an enchanting walk through the past for fans of historical and time travel Oiction.Rika Chandra
on the grounds in the afterlife: a place that resembles Hell a whole lot more than Heaven. There, they must uncover the mystery of their deaths. How did they die? Why? And who is responsible? Trapped in Limbo, the students’ time is running out to uncover all of these truths before they are unjustly sent deep into the circles of Hell for the rest of eternity.
Homecoming (Villa Vista Duology Book 1)
Homecoming was supposed to be the best night of the students at Villa Vista High’s lives! Instead, it ends up being their last night alive. When tragedy strikes the school, the students are forced to remain
“Homecoming” is one of the most unique teen paranormal books on the shelves! From start to Oinish, it is driven by the large cast of characters. Each has been given the time and attention they deserve to become fully Oleshed out individuals. Mr. Winter nails the teen drama aspect while blending it with themes of morality and the afterlife. Unfortunately, there are moments where the novel doesn’t feel balanced. So much time is taken on the characters that it stalls the plot
from moving forward at a good pace. When the action happens, it comes in full force! This is a truly intriguing book!
The narration is provided by the author, and this adds a wonderful layer of connection to the words on the page. Mr. Winter is passionate about his work and proud of it, and it shows! His ability to create different voices and tones for the characters is wonderful. For the most part, all are easy to tell apart. Only on occasion do they blend together. Accents are incorporated when needed. The pacing is good, helping carry some of the slower parts of the book and making them more gripping. A few special effects are added in, and that adds to the overall quality of the production making it top notch! This is a great book for lovers of suspense and paranormal stories!Chelsea Andersen
(The Marylanders Book 2)Donna Hechler Porter
HISTORICAL: After time spent as a prisoner with the Indians, Miller Mackintosh has a festering wound and a broken spirit. Promises to the dead impale the living as
Mac’s promise to Thomas McQueen hinders his own life and his path toward Thomas’s wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Mac heal together, and Oind their way to the altar just in time for Mac’s Oirst wife, Janie, long thought dead, to return—pregnant. The church nulliOies their marriage, and Janie’s dying wish, that her twins be returned to their Indian father. This further tears Mac and Elizabeth apart. With the marriage nulliOied and Elizabeth pregnant with Mac’s child, the Indian who murdered Thomas attempts to kill John, Thomas’s son. Will Elizabeth Oind love again and save her family to Oind peace? The wonderfully written characters and the pain they endure during difOicult times are relatable. Both the main characters have had terrible
losses in their lives they need to overcome, and each responds to those losses differently.
Elizabeth’s steadfast faith slowly restores Mac’s own, and through both love and faith, they are able to piece each other back together, only to be separated by fate. At times in the beginning, the jumble of languages of English, French, Shawanese, and Gaelic makes the reading somewhat cumbersome, but it smooths out and is more comprehensible towards the end. There are slight hints of sexual violence, no details are shared. The historical references and behavior of the church are detailed and seem accurate. A true Christian writing where some prayers are answered, and some are left unanswered.Amy Rubottom