Reviews, Interviews, New Releases
Vol 6 Issue 7
Celebrate Diversity with 16 authors page 26
turn the page c
in this issue
September October 2016
Celebrate diversity with 16 authors who express their thoughts on its importance including:
Casi McLean, Cj Fosdick, Clair Gem, Greg R. Fishbone, Houston Havens, J Martialay, Jeanne St.James, JoAn Watson Martin, Kayelle Allen, Laura Strickland, Marilee Brothers, Nicole Morgan, Rose Anderson, Susan Fox, Troon Harrison, and Shelley Adina . . . Page 26 Reviews
Roberta’s Ramblings - Mystery . . . Page 7 BECAUSE I’M WATCHING by Christina Dodd . . . . . . . . . . . Page 9 Shannon’s Space - YA . . . . . . . . . . Page 10 Eclectic Express - Variety . . . . . . . Page 24
RE Mullins - Paranormal . . . . . . Page 4 Christina Dodd - Mystery . . . . . Page 8 Sam Newsome Fiction . . . . . . Page 14 Julie Wetzel - Paranormal . . . . Page 17 John DeDakis - Mystery . . . . . Page 20 Barbara Barret - Romance . . . . Page 22
A VAMPIRE TO BE RECKONED WITH by RE Mullins . . . Page 4 A NEW YORK MINUTE by Ember Leigh . . . Page 6 JOE PEAS by Sam Newsome . . . Page 16 KINDLING FLAMES: BLAZING MOON by Julie Wetzel . . . Page 19 BULLETT IN THE CHAMBER by John DeDakis . . . Page 21 KEEPING IT CASUAL by Barbara Barrett . . . Page 23
READ, PONDER, REPEAT
New Releases Everywhere
© 2016 The Book Breeze Page 2
Long Shadows Grace DeLuca 2nd Edition
Global Silver Best Mystery Fiction 2014
A disastrous time for the wealthy Petroni family. Tony, the eldest son of tycoon Frank and his wife, Maria, dies in a suspicious auto accident and soon afterward his widow and three-year-old daughter, Lisa, disappear without a trace. For twenty years fear and unanswered questions haunt the inhabitants of La Casa, the family mansion, until… 1977- the year two strangers arrive at the mansion. The presence of Maria's newly appointed secretary and a young woman claiming she is Frank and Maria’s long-lost granddaughter revives past mysteries and fears. Suddenly hidden secrets surface, envy and jealousy erupt, and death once more stalks La Casa, threatening everyone in the mansion. Long Shadows is a novel of intrigue and danger, with unexpected twists and turns.
The CEO Came DOA (Debut, September 2016)
Lee Alvarez takes a job ferreting out the saboteur of a start-up company's Initial Public Offering in the heart of Silicon Valley. Little does she know early one morning she will find the CEO hanging by the neck in the boardroom wearing nothing but his baby blue boxer shorts. Was it suicide? Was it murder by one of the many people who loathed the man on sight, such as his business partner? Or maybe one of the many women in his life, including his famous rock singer ex-? The bodies start piling up while Lee is planning her very own Christmas wedding. Ho, ho, ho.
© 2016The Book Breeze Page 3
RE Mullins, Paranormal Author
Though RE Mullins has resided in Oklahoma, Michigan, and Colorado, she spent the majority of her life in the beautiful southwestern portion of Missouri. It was there she earned her BA at MSSC in Joplin, MO. During the time spent surrounded by blood samples as a phlebotomist and an assistant instructor at Ozark Tech’s Continuing Education Course in phlebotomy that RE was, somehow, inspired to start her first vampire romance.
Tell us about your new release. A VAMPIRE TO BE RECKONED WITH is the third book in the: Blautsaugers of Amber Heights series. The series deals with the Blautsaugers, a powerful vampire family, though each book features a different family member. In A VAMPIRE TO BE RECKONED WITH we get Metta’s story. The youngest daughter might appear to be the birdbrain of the family but she’s got hidden depths and is hiding some dangerous secrets.
Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out? Oh, my yes, in my debut novel IT’S A WONDERFUL UNDEAD LIFE I describe my character, Cailey as she deals with her need for blood after being bitten by a vampire. Terrified and not sure what is happening to her, she finds herself driven to suck the bloody juices from the raw red meat in her refrigerator.
How important is setting to your story? Those who know me will recognize various descriptions of different locations in my books. Grand Falls on Shoal Creek, Low Water Bridge, and the Greenway Trail to name a few of them. Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life? No they aren’t—though several relatives don’t seem to believe me. I happen to like my brother-in-law’s name, Rassey. So I asked for and got permission to use it for one of my characters. Now I can’t convince Rassey that I’m not writing about him. However, as far as I know, he isn’t a vampire. I will also admit to once, blush-blush, naming a bad guy after an ex before killing him off with great gusto.
Do you people watch for character inspiration? Long before I put ink to paper; I’ve always been an avid ‘people watcher’. In fact, I think I started people watching from the moment I was born.
Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet? I’ve several ‘book boyfriends’ that I’d give my eyeteeth to meet. However, fantasy is fantasy and I doubt they’d be all that dewy in real life.
What do you hope readers take away from your work? My fondest hope is that my readers will find a bit of humor, a bit of gross-out factor, and a little toe-curling romance. I want them to be able to escape, if only for a little while, in the fantasy world I’ve created.
Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals? I have a tiny office set up with a long craft table. Every inch of its surface is covered by things I consider vital to the writing process—mainly my coffee carafe and cup warmer. There’s a window which overlooks a field where deer often graze. Right beyond that is a football-field-sized pond, where I’ve seen a Great White Egret, Great Blue Heron, countless Canada Geese, and several beaver. All this wildlife has led to my FB posts which I call: View From My Writing Window.
A VAMPIRE TO BE RECKONED WITH by RE Mullins
It was him. After a hiatus of ninety-eight years and giving up hope, he now stood a few feet behind her, having apparently appeared out of nowhere. Her heart stalled, she wheezed from shock, and stared into a face she’d never thought to see again. The wretched witch had been right and her blast from the past had arrived.
The sight of her old field master set off a myriad of emotions, brutally ripping through her defenses. She stumbled through the mental minefield and each misstep sent more explosions surging through her. Hell, she’d rather face Mateo Osvaldo and his entire Toltec army than her former Orcus Master, Lucas O’Cuinn.
One errant thought kept circling back through the jumble. Why couldn’t this meeting have happened when she wasn’t looking like a drowned rat—make that a frozen, drowned rat. “Metta,” he said her name softly, almost caressingly.
She refused to acknowledge the split second of elation the
© 2016 The Book Breeze Page 4
STUMBLE STONES: A Novel By Marilyn Baron
sight of him gave her. Instead she took refuge in anger as
it chased at the heels of joy, clinging to the bitter resentment the long years had taught her. Of course, where he was concerned such conflicted feelings were nothing new. Their relationship had been a constant push-pull series of emotional knots.
Spicy Romantic Suspense Released Aug 19 by The Wild Rose Press in print and ebook
In his larger-than-life way, he’d been both her hero and enemy. Damn him. What was he doing there?
“Lucas O’Cuinn,” any effort to sound tough was ruined by her chattering teeth. She hoped he didn’t see the wave of hurt, guilt, and fear crushing in on her with all the raw energy and destructive force of a collapsing dam.
His eyes flashed when she’d said his name, and the sound of it hung in the air between them. When he finally spoke, however, he sounded maddeningly calm—his nod so genial they might have been nothing more than chance acquaintances passing in the park. “I go by Luke Quinn now.” He shrugged off her questioning look, “it’s simpler. More in keeping with the times.”
Run, her mind shouted when his gaze narrowed, his expression shifting into one that didn’t bode well for her. But it was too late to flee. The little bit of good sense she had left was extinguished by emotional flood waters, and the rampaging waves ruthlessly obliterated each coherent thought in its path. Maybe that’s why she suddenly dropped her hands to her sides in a defeated manner. Pure instinct took over when he got within striking range, and she drove her fist into his gut, surprising them both. He grunted as air shot out of his lungs, doubling his body over as he tried to catch his breath.
Her natural predisposition rushed into play, insisting she take advantage of his forward momentum and bent over posture. Almost by rote, she thrust her shoulder into his chest, at the same time grabbing his extended arm. Her knees bent forward as she seamlessly rolled him up and off her hip.
Much like that first time, his feet left the ground, and he went flying.
Connect with author at: http://remullins.blogspot.com
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/REMullinsauthor/
She also posts the 20th of each month at: http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com/
Stumble Stones is a multilayered, dark and humorous Romancing the Stone-style suspense about a cache of priceless diamonds hidden in World War II that sparks a hasty wedding on the high seas and a dangerous chase through Europe that holds the key to an unsolved mystery and a promise of lost love. www.marilynbaron.com WOUNDED AT WORK Mitzi Pool Bridges Contemporary Romance Released Aug 20
FBI Agent Matthew Montgomery is handed a serial killer case on the same day his worthless cousin files suit for half of the sizable Montgomery Trust. His brothers, fellow retired SEALs, dig in to help find the proof needed to thwart Matt’s cousin. Ex-Army Carrie Sullivan is a PI in the brothers’ investigative firm. She goes undercover in a missing woman case that collides with the one Matt is investigating. He wants her to back off, as she fits the profile of the serial killer’s victims. Somehow, their feelings for each other have changed from friendship to something more intense, but they have to get past obstacles, real and imagined, as they find themselves falling in love amidst a storm of evil. When Carrie is taken, she wonders if she will survive long enough to overcome the wide divide between their backgrounds to make a life together, and Matt is determined to do everything in his power to give them a chance to try
© 2016The Book Breeze Page 5
A NEW YORK MINUTE by Ember Leigh
Filming on location in Hawaii would be Paige’s dream, if only it didn’t involve hosting alongside her professional arch nemesis—Josh Lambert, the sexiest man she’s ever sworn to hate. “I…I wanted to see you. That was it.” Josh picked at something on the comforter, eyes darting between her face and the bed.
trailing down the side of her face, over the dip in her neck, making swirls in the area between her breasts.
“I’m a good actress.” She could barely control her breathing to keep her voice even. This man affected her in ways she hadn’t felt in far too long. “If I couldn’t convince you, I wouldn’t be a professional.”
“Cute.” Something in the air shifted between them. Electricity snapped. This was no business ploy.
Suddenly their lips were together, though she didn’t know who moved in first. Josh pinned her to the bed, one kiss melting into a hundred more. His mouth devoured her. The scent of him descended upon her, a mixture of cologne and the outdoors and man she hadn’t expected would be so pleasing. He clutched at her desperately—her hips, her waist, the small of her back, like he was afraid she would disappear beneath him. His hard-on nudged her low hip, and her pussy clenched in response.
He quieted her stubbornness with a kiss so tender yet passionate that a new round of shivers erupted within her. Holy crap, I’m in trouble.
“Josh.” The feel of his body made her both dizzy and delirious with satisfaction. Excitement roiled beneath the surface of her skin. Dear God, you wanted this so much, Paige. “I’ve wanted this to happen since the day I met you,” he whispered in her ear, sending shivers up and down her spine.
“So have I,” she admitted, too quickly for her own taste. He laughed, deep and gravelly. His green eyes sparkled— the mask of his professional façade had completely fallen away. She loved this real Josh above her. He was so boyish yet mature, hard-bodied yet gentle.
“But Paige, I thought you hated me.”
“What makes you think I still don’t?” She placed tiny kisses up and down the sides of his neck. Kissing him removed the veneer of his professional side, allowed her to peer behind the curtain to the soft core inside. A regular guy with power, a west coast boy with dreams. Wiping away the Hollywood lacquer revealed something even more attractive beneath.
“Well, this certainly doesn’t look like you hate me,” he whispered, fingertips
“So I won’t wake up tomorrow and think this was a dream, then.” His fingertips crept beneath the fabric of her bathing suit top, so slowly she could scream. He was going slow for a reason—teasing her, maybe, but also to make sure she really wanted it.
This was the only thing she wanted right now.
The warmth of his palm grazed her breast. Their eyes met, his gaze glinting with both tenderness and something animalistic. It was something she could imagine in her own eyes, a certain brand of pleasure from having finally given into something deeply pleasurable and forbidden.
His fingertips rolled back and forth across her nipple and he caught her mouth on a gasp. Their tongues met tenderly. The feel of his body pressed against hers, his hands all over her, drove her crazier than any man had ever done before. And he hadn’t even taken off his shirt. The heat between her legs ached for release.
“I could spend all day in here with you.” His other hand snaked around the small of her back and yanked her toward him, eliciting a gasp and a giggle. “All week, all month.”
“And what would we do in here for a full month?” Her voice wavered as his hand made a slow crawl up her thigh. “We wouldn’t have enough food to last us a week.”
His fingers tiptoed toward her bathing suit bottoms. “That’s why there’s room service.”
© 2016 The Book Breeze Page 6
Roberta’s Ramblings by Roberta Rogow
In DEAD END STREET, by Sheila Connolly (Berkley, 2016, $7.99) the staid world of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society is rocked by 21st Century social issues when its president, Nell Pratt, discovers that the society owns property in one of the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia. A visit to the site leads to a shooting and a death. The Philadephia police are ready to chalk the incident up to local gang-bangers having their usual fun and games, but Nell thinks there's more to it, and won't stop looking until she finds some answers. At the same time, she's concerned about the use of the property, and how to make her organization more relevant to the parts of Philadelphia that do not have access to cultural beacons like the Museum of Fine Arts. The answer to both questions may lie with the community itself. A good addition to an intriguing series.
It's family that causes the upset in Mary Dahein's Bed-andBreakfast Mystery HERE COMES THE BRIBE (William Morris, 2016, $23.99). Judith McGonigle Flynn is trying to stage a wedding at Hillside Manor, but everything that can go wrong is. The father of the bride insists that Judith is his long-lost mother. The bride and groom act as if they barely know each other. The mother of the groom is in thrall to a collection of oddballs. The officiants are vague about their religious affiliation. Then the mother of the bride is found dead. Not only that, but there's someone trying to buy up all the houses in the neighborhood at rock-bottom prices, with the hint of a major condominium development in the works. Judith's in-laws insist on helping out with the investigation, as family relations get stranger and stranger. It's a wild ride in the California sunshine, with a twist at the end that will have every reader gasping with laughter.
From California to Colorado, with THE READAHOLICS AND THE GOTHIC GALA, by Laura DiSilverio (Obsidian 2016, $7.99). AmyFaye Johnson's reading club, the Readaholics, is reading Rebecca, the classic mystery by Daphne DuMaurier, so it's only natural that they sponsor the Celebration of Gothic Novels in their town of Heaven, CO. Three major authors are appearing, including one who has a connection to a member of the club, one who may have stolen her prize-winning book from an aspiring fan, and one whose love life has become very complicated. When a stranger turns up dead at the costume party that was supposed to
be the high point of the weekend, things get murkier than the most tangled web spun by a romance novelist. The Readaholics pool their resources, as they try to uncover the identity of the dead man and his connection to one or another of the three writers. There are digs at the arcane world of mystery writers, as well as small-town politics, gossipy neighbors, conspiracy fans, and the Colorado landscape. The solution to the mystery leads to repercussions for all concerned, and the promise that the next book the Readaholics will tackle will be something more straightforward... like a spy thriller!
It's across the country to New England, where Sarah Winston runs garage sales, in Sherry Harris's ALL MURDERS FINAL! (Kensington, 2016, $7.99) With winter coming on, Sarah thought that an on-line “virtual garage sale” web site might be a way for her to continue to re-cycle other peoples' stuff during the inclement weather. Alas, it's not working as well as she planned. Buyers are not coming through with money, sellers are misrepresenting their goods, and a cleaning woman who adversided on the web site may be involved in a string of local robberies. Then she discovers one of the leading citizens of the town dead, with the very tablecloth she wanted to buy stuffed in the dead woman's mouth! Things get even odder as Sarah finds herself the target of a stalker. She hates to bring her ex-husband into the matter, but when she's accused of stealing a car, things really get serious. Sarah's love life gets even more tangled than the local political scene, as she discovers more about the dead woman than she really wanted to know. Motives abound, but the killer is someone no one even suspected. Tips on running a garage sale are included.
Finally, a not-so-cozy mystery in Washington DC: STABBING IN THE SENATE, by Colleen J. Shogan (Camel Press, 2016. $13.95) Kit Marshall finds her boss, Senator Lansford, in his office, impaled by one of his own desk ornaments. When she pulls the object out of the body, she leaves her own fingerprints and DNA on it, and is immediately accused of his murder. Now she has to prove her innocence, which means finding out who did kill the senator, who tended to make enemies in his own party as well as with the Opposition. It's a fascinating look at the back-stage world of Big Government, as Kit and her friend Meg search for clues in high and low places. Is this murder purely political, or does the answer to the mystery lie closer to home? And what happens when the murderer is finally unmasked? Kit risks her career and her personal happiness to find out. A resourceful heroine, and a glimpse behind the scenes, even more pertinent in this year of political turmoil.
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New York Times bestselling author
Thank you to Book Breeze for this opportunity to talk about BECAUSE I'M WATCHING and share some interesting into the insights creation and writing process of my newest thriller.
Tell us about your new release.
Veteran Jacob Denisov is dealing with the worst kind of PTSD — he blames himself for the loss of the soldiers under his command. He lives alone in his small, darkened home, sleepless and starving, waiting for the moment when he gathers the courage to kill himself. When neighbor Madeline Hewitson drives her car through the front wall of his house, she breaks his house—and his life—wide open.
She is “Mad Maddie,” the survivor of a college dorm massacre, a woman accused of her lover’s murder, and tormented by a killer only she can see. Dealing with construction and forced to see the world outside his home, Jacob watches Maddie, recognizes a kindred spirit and wonders—is this truly madness, or has is she the victim of cruel abuse? When Maddie's imaginary killer takes form, will she be strong enough to triumph, or is the assassin she fears no more than a shadow, an illusion ... that watches? What led you to write this book?
A lot of reviews flatter Virtue Falls by using the word, "Hitchcockian" to describe the books, and in this case, that's spot on. BECAUSE I'M WATCHING is a mashup of Hitchcock's classic movie Gaslight, about a woman who sees and hears things that aren't real — or are they? And Rear Window about a man trapped in his house by an injury, watching his neighbors and learning dangerous secrets. I updated the plots and gave them a twist — actually, several — and then sat down to the hard work of fulfilling my vision of the story.
How important is setting to your story?
Creating the town of Virtue Falls, was a challenge from my editor. She said, "Make the town the character." I live in Washington state where tourists visit to view the most gorgeous mountains, seashores, and forests the world contains. As a bonus, the state is a magnet for intriguing eccentrics. So the town is located on Washington's wild and stunning Olympic Peninsula, and I hope Virtue Falls becomes so popular every reader in the world drives up and down the Washington coast looking for the Oceanview Cafe. Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share?
I don't know that you'd call it a quirk, exactly. But I do have a stone circle in my yard. http://www.christinadodd.com/stone-circle-rocks/ I guess you could say I would fit in among the other Virtue Falls eccentrics.
Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life? Do you people watch for character inspiration?
Ha! When a reader asked this question, I wrote an article: How Many Of My Characters Have Traits Or Personalities Of Real People I Know. The short answer: Real people have moments where they’re brilliant, anguished, fascinating, tormented, humorous, aroused, glamorous, but for the most part, we’re all sort of, don’t take this wrong … we’re boring. I write suspense. I write romance. In my characters I want mystique! Excitement! Adventure! Angst! In other words, no matter what story I’m writing, I need to sell books. So I don’t model my characters on real people. I have a rule against boring my readers into a coma. You can read the whole article here: http://www.christinadodd.com/christina-dodd-how-many-ofyour-characters-have-traits-or-personalities-of-real-peopleyou-know/ Which book impacted you as a teenager?
Lord of the Rings. Yes, I'm one of those people. I love quests, adventures, different worlds, the hero's journey. My husband and I named our daughters after the female characters. When my youngest was in college, the movies came out and she was accused of changing her name …
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from someone who was unclear that the book had, in fact, come first.
Do you read the same genre you write? What are you reading now?
I read suspense, romance, fantasy, paranormal and mystery. Right now I've got a couple of books going: BRAIN RULES by John Medina, a fascinating compilation of brain studies and principles you can use to get the most out of your mind, and SHADOW RIDER by Christine Feehan, which is a sexy romp. The standout suspense from the last year was, for me, Gregg Hurwitz's ORPHAN X. Highly recommended and it's the first of a series. Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out?
I'm writing THE WOMAN WHO COULDN'T SCREAM: Virtue Falls #4, and the climax is creepy and terrifying. To complete it, I had to write, then run away to a different, less traumatic scene, then go back, write more, edit, run away again… There's a bonus excerpt of THE WOMAN WHO COULDN'T SCREAM at the end of BECAUSE I'M WATCHING. Before my editor read BECAUSE I'M WATCHING, she asked what I thought of it, and I said it was brilliant. Which is the worst kind of self-aggrandizement, but Jacob and Maddie both suffer such mental anguish and yet they are so funny and, in the end, they save each other.
I love these characters, and I believe BECAUSE I'M WATCHING is the best thing I've ever written and I'm so excited to put it into readers' hands and carry them into twisted labyrinth of revenge, guilt … and eventually murder.
What social media do you participate in?
To help readers, I made a list of best ways to get my book news: —My mailing list: I always always always tell about book sales & new releases + I'm open, friendly, chatty. http://christinadodd.com
—Bookbub: For readers who don't have time for chatty but simply want a brief notice about new releases. Bookbub always sends. https://www.bookbub.com/authors/christina-dodd
—Goodreads: Sends a monthly notice and highlights the authors readers follow. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12695.Christina _Dodd
—Amazon: Amazon sends notices about new releases AND reprints…sporadically. https://www.amazon.com/ChristinaDodd/e/B001H6TZG6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
— Facebook is, sadly, no longer good for book news. :(
REVIEW BECAUSE I’M WATCHING By Christina Dodd
Suspense with romantic elements Released 2016 by St Martin’s Press
The survivor of a college dorm massacre, a woman accused of her lover's murder, Madeline Hewitson is haunted by ghosts and tormented by a killer only she can see. At night, she works, writing and drawing the monster that slithers through her imagination, and living in fear of those moments when the doors of her mind unhinge and her nightmare lives in the daylight.
A seasoned military veteran, Jacob Denisov lives alone in his small, darkened home, sleepless, starving, and angry. Every day he lives with guilt. When neighbor Madeline Hewitson drives her car through the front wall of his house, she breaks his house--and his life--wide open. Jacob had given up and was simply waiting for death to find him. But with his home ripped open by Maddie’s car and no interest in leaving his chair while the workmen repaired the damage he began to watch Maddie across the street. He found a spark of his old self in watching Maddie fight back against her demons with everything she had. His protective instincts were triggered as the odd things that were happening to Maddie began to look like they originated from an outside source and not Maddie as everyone believed. Called heartbreaking, funny and terrifying this book lives up to the hype with page turning action, compelling characters and a backstory that perfectly seasons the story. It’s easy to see why Ms. Dodd is a New York Times Best Selling Author.
© 2016 The Book Breeze Page 9
YA Reviews by Shannon Kennedy MURDER IN AN IRISH VILLAGE by Carlene O’Connor Kensington, February 2016 ~ 4½ Stars
A little slice of Heaven on the Emerald Isle…
In the small village of Kilbane, County Cork, Ireland, Naomi’s Bistro has always been a warm and welcoming spot to visit with neighbors, enjoy some brown bread and tea, and get the local gossip. Nowadays twenty-two-year-old Siobhán O’Sullivan runs the family bistro named for her mother, along with her five siblings, after the death of their parents in a car crash almost a year ago.
It’s been a rough year for the O’Sullivans, but it’s about to get rougher. One morning, as they’re opening the bistro, they discover a man seated at a table, dressed in a suit as if for his own funeral, a pair of hot pink barber scissors protruding from his chest.
With the local garda suspecting the O’Sullivans, and their business in danger of being shunned—murder tends to spoil the appetite—it’s up to feisty redheaded Siobhán to solve the crime and save her beloved brood.
Twenty-two year old, Siobhan O’Sullivan manages her grieving family of five siblings and the bistro they inherited from their parents with determination and brilliance. She has enough to do keeping the “O’Sullivan Six” as they’re known in the small village of Kilbane on track when the anniversary of the tragic traffic accident that killed her mum and da approaches. She doesn’t need Niall Murphy, a known troublemaker returning to create havoc. And she really doesn’t need him demanding money from her to clear his brother’s name since he was tried and incarcerated for causing her parents’ deaths.
Niall claims to have proof that someone else caused the deadly accident. Siobhan doesn’t believe a word he says – he must be lying – his lips are moving. Then, he ends up dead in her bistro, a pair of scissors in his chest. Of course, she didn’t kill him, but she’s determined to discover who did and clear the O’Sullivan name. It doesn’t help that her oldest brother, James is a prime suspect since he and Niall argued at the pub. As Siobhan points out to the local police or garda officer, Macdara Flannery, other people fought with the victim.
In this debut novel, Ms. O’Connor describes the setting consistently and beautifully until the details pervade the story from the language to the food. Siobhan is famous for her “brown bread” not to be confused with “brown” or “wheat” bread in the U.S. Because the author didn’t explain the differences, I had to “google” the details but it looks like it would be fun to make and have with a cuppa tea since actually traveling to Kilbane is more a fantasy than a possibility.
The ensemble cast of characters delightfully enlivens the story especially when ten year old Cieran shares that they have a list of suspects back on the whiteboard in the kitchen and their neighbors promptly begin to reveal their alibis for the night in question. Siobhan suspects someone lies, but who? The suspense builds and Macdara warns her to be careful especially when the killer comes after her. Of course, she can’t back down, but readers will root for her since she’s stubborn not stupid. Siobhan needs the truth and readers will want her to discover it too. No, that truth won’t bring back her parents, but it will provide much needed answers. Finding a killer isn’t her only concern since her landlady uses the fact that a murder victim was found in the bistro to try and cancel the lease. Hmmm, what if she’s the killer and is all an elaborate, vicious scheme to steal the O’Sullivan’s livelihood.
Readers will undoubtedly make a strong connection with these characters that are well-drawn for the most part. Occasionally, it becomes difficult to keep the siblings straight which are where more physical descriptions would help. It takes too long for us to learn what they look like and at times two of the girls sound too much alike. Yet, these are minor errors in a debut novel. Ms. O’Connor delivers a terrific story with a well-designed setting that never lets us forget where we are and hopefully she’ll return readers to the village of Kilbane for another visit very soon. DRAGONS OF FROST AND FIRE by Susan Brown Create Space Publishing, June 2015 ~ 4½ Stars Blurb:
“I know she’s still alive!” A year ago her mother disappeared in an Alaskan blizzard, but Kit Soriano refuses to give up. Against all logic, propelled by recurring dreams of ice-white dragons and a magical silver knife, Kit journeys to the wilderness town of Silver Claw where her mother vanished. She’s clearly not
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welcome, but her knife throbs with heat and her dreams show the impossible – mythical dragons are guarding her sleeping mother. Desperate, Kit has no choice but to rely on Dai, who knows more than he says about the wild magic rippling beneath the surface of the town. She wants to trust him. But is he her friend or an enemy? If she’s wrong, will she too be lost forever in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness? Review:
In this YA fantasy, sixteen-year-old Kit Soriano travels with her father to a small town in Alaska to discover what happened to her mother. Even though everyone around Kit insists that Dr. Nora Soriano noted for her studies in genetics must be dead, killed in a harsh winter storm, Kit knows better. Haunted by dreams and inspired by a family heirloom, a dragon-shaped knife, she plans to find her missing mother regardless of any roadblocks. She hasn’t counted on fighting the entire town of Silver Claw, Alaska, much less her own father who thinks she needs closure, not answers. Kit sets out to solve the mystery beginning in the town library where the elderly librarian thwarts all of Kit’s research attempts. She also must deal with Dai, a “hot” guy who acts as a local guide, but she thinks of him more as a local spy. She must avoid him in order to determine what happened to her mother, however he is so…..cute! This is a well-plotted story with carefully crafted characters. A discerning reader may catch onto all the clues provided, but it is much more fun to journey along with Kit and allow her to share the conclusions she draws. Her arguments with Dai and the other teens are realistic, but it would be nice to learn more about what happens to some of the supporting cast. What happens to Kirsti? The clues are carefully put in place, but we need to know if she achieves what she most desires.
The setting showcases the story too, effectively describing the solitude of native Alaska. More sensory details would have added depth but Ms. Brown has a deft touch with sounds as well as sights in this short (147 page) novel. One can really hear the ice falling off the glaciers near Silver Claw. The point of view remains with Kit, but would have been stronger with Dai’s input. Still, Ms. Brown, a skilled writer who honed her craft writing for Scholastic has penned an intriguing story that will enthrall readers. She leaves the story open for a sequel or even a series where we can discover and share more of Kit’s adventures, hopefully with Dai. Meanwhile, I’m off to find another of her “Dragon” tales.
DRAGONS OF DESERT AND DUST by Susan Brown Create Space Publishing, December 2015 ~ 4½ Stars
Blurb: A boy with the Heart of a Dragon… Fourteen-year-old Angel Cerillos is stuck living with foster parents at a
second-rate desert motel while his mother is in the hospital. Despite threats from a local rancher and his greedy foster father, Angel is determined to scour the harsh desert for turquoise nuggets that could pay for his mom’s care. Without them, all he has of value is a carved, two-headed turquoise serpent, left to him by his mysterious father. It’s a hard life. But the desert spirits are awakening, and the mythic power of his dragon talisman spins Angel into terrifying danger. Review:
Fourteen-year-old, foster child, Angel Cerillos lives at the local motel where he cleans rooms and scrubs toilets as part of his daily chores. The nearby desert calls to him and he escapes into it whenever possible determined to understand its mysteries. The call of the desert helps him come to terms with an ailing mother stuck in a hospital and an absentee father. His foster parents don’t make up for Angel’s emotional loss. His foster mother, Treece, is an enabler who teaches Angel how to steal sodas from the motel office. His foster father, Gary, physically and emotionally abuses Treece and Angel. It makes one wonder how this obviously dysfunctional couple managed to meet the state requirements for taking in a needy child or if there are any such laws in Arizona.
Like many children of single parents, Angel is older than his years. Celsa Reyna, one of his classmates tells him how valuable turquoise stones are and he decides that if he finds enough, he’ll be able to have sufficient money for his mother’s medical bills. With plenty of funds, she could even be cured. This provides more motivation to flee to the desert whenever possible. Warned to be careful of the neighboring rancher and his cowhands, Angel attempts to be discreet. He has to look out for more than two-legged dangers; there are other predators in the desert. Physical dangers aren’t all Angel worries about – he also confronts psychological ones and his dreams intensify, apparently teaching him new skills or has he always had them? Dream-walking? Talking to snakes? Visions? Why is his amulet so important? Why does his mother ask if he’s turning blue when he finally has an opportunity to visit her? What is going on?
Angel’s drive to save his mother propels the story forward. He and Celsa are two of most clearly drawn, welldeveloped characters which makes the disparity between them and the adults even more glaring. Angel’s caseworker doesn’t “notice” what is directly in front of her, i.e. the abuse the boy suffers and doesn’t talk to him alone even when she thinks there might be a problem with Gary. Local rancher, John Hydemann accepts all of Gary’s stories far too easily. This guy has a kid who appeared out of nowhere – didn’t the caseworker interview the neighbors before placing Angel at the local motel?
What is wrong with these adults? Shouldn’t they be more discerning? How will the kids in the story and readers of the book learn not to judge by appearances if every adult suffers from the same character defect? Still, as Angel grows throughout the story, he does learn a few life Continued on page 12
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YA Reviews by Shannon Kennedy Continued from page 11
lessons even if the adults in his world remain static. Ms. Brown has a gift for creating a believable world where shapeshifting dragons fly and a boy becoming a man discovers there is more than one kind of talent when he faces maturity. The choices he makes today will guide him down more than one kind of path, but he still needs stronger mentors to lead him.
training as an Air Master. At the age of 20, after the deathof her mother, Giselle is ready to support herself by winning shooting contests. Yes, she can control where the bullets go since she rules the Air and its elements.
FROM A HIGH TOWER by Mercedes Lackey DAW, June 2016 ~ 4 Stars
One of the elements from the “Rapunzel” fairytale is the fact that Giselle’s hair grows so quickly and she frequently cuts it, storing away the extra lengths. She isn’t sure if she actually believes what her mother said, that the rapid growth is a side-effect of her magick. It’s difficult to accept this since none of the Air Masters in the previous books in the series had similar characteristics and Giselle continues to deal with her “hair” issue as an adult.
While this is a companion to Ms. Brown’s Dragons of Frost and Fire, these are single title releases. Hopefully, the next book will link these characters as well as the dragons, hint, hint, hint!
From a High Tower is the newest adventure in Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, featuring a retelling of Rapunzel’s not-sohappily-ever-after ending. Review:
Book 11 in the Elemental Masters series showcases the “Rapunzel” fairytale detailing the adventures of Giselle, a born Air Master who is adopted as an infant by an Earth Master that some people label a witch. At 14, Giselle lives in a high tower, once part of an old abbey or convent. While she doesn’t have human companionship at times, she does have the sylphs – tiny winged women who offer conversation and friendship. This means Giselle doesn’t feel too lonely when her mother leaves to buy winter supplies in a distant town. It seems unlikely that before leaving, she didn’t warn Giselle there are more dangers than tramps and gypsies in the surrounding Black Forest and this becomes the first “bump” in the story.
The arrival of a charming young man, Johann Schmidt fascinates Giselle and she begins to realize how much she misses knowing her peers and having admirers. When he wants to visit her in the tower, the “Rapunzel” effect takes place although she doesn’t use her hair as a rope, but one that Johann provides. Again, she doesn’t question why he would bring a rope with him – it seems a contrivance – but he has an ulterior motive, one she is too innocent and naïve to suspect. Once he arrives in her room, he attempts to assault her and she comes into her own, calling up a powerful storm to defend herself until her mother arrives in time to help save her. This event launches Giselle’s
It seems as if she can and does cope with any problems that arise during her adventures. Yet, another of the flaws in the story is the fact that she has a hidden enemy who is out of sight during the majority of the book. Instead of paying attention to this and the occasional feeling that someone stalks her, Giselle works at a traveling Wild West Show from America now touring Germany, honing her craft as a sharpshooter and an Air Master.
The well-developed, ensemble cast includes Rosamund, an Earth Master from the previous book, Blood Red, a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.” At the end of that story, we left her going to work as a “Hunt Master” who patrols the nasty sections of the Black Forest and takes care of any threats such as evil vampires, witches, bad werewolves, trolls and shapeshifters. Rosamund is perfectly capable of dealing with a crew of actors who are magical amateurs putting on a Wild West Show and she opts to go along to get along, hopefully protecting them from things that go bump in the proverbial night.
Each character has a story and Ms. Lackey provides good descriptions to make them come alive for the reader. Despite the great setting, and excellent dialogue, there are still plot-holes and missing details that may baffle readers. One would think that Giselle’s mother would have taught her adopted daughter not to judge by appearances. These early mistakes from childhood create ongoing problems throughout the book and all of these loose ends aren’t resolved, leaving readers who follow the series to wonder what will happen next. An extremely skilled writer, Ms. Lackey ensures that the story flows and the pace never dulls. Perhaps, she will answer the questions raised in this book in the next Elemental Masters novel, or pardon the pun, they may be left up in the air. Readers can only wait and see. Of course, we’ll also have to wait to see which classic fairytale will be co-opted and retold in Ms. Lackey’s distinctive style.
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THINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN by Mitchell Kriegman Thomas Dunne Books, November 2015 ~ 5 Stars
Cso not happening. Clarissa hastily introduces them to her favorite barista, a hot guy named Nick who happens to be filling in for the coffee stand’s owner, a friend on deployment in Afghanistan.
Blurb: A complete re-imagining of the 1990s television hit Clarissa Explains it All as 20-something Clarissa tries to navigate the unemployment line, mompreneurs and the collision of two people in love.
She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen and let television audiences everywhere know it. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads.
After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made - her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers? All of Clarissa's charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they've evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can't explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents' divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, "To-Flue Glue," and then there's Sam. Where's Sam anyway?
This makes Nick even more engaging as an appropriate love interest, especially when he jumps in and plays the part of Clarissa’s new “boy-toy” which includes going to dinner with her parents. Problems arise because he actually has a “real” girlfriend, a rough, tough “rocker girl” that Clarissa just knows is all wrong for him, but he apparently doesn’t understand that. Her friends encourage her to follow up with him and see if that relationship will last. She does. This doesn’t seem a very intelligent choice. How does she know the rocker won’t assault her?
As a character, Clarissa comes across as sweet, naïve and charming with zip in the way of self-preservation. It’s beyond time for her to grow up. At her age she should start judging situations for herself, make decisions and follow through. She’s able to do this with her ex, so why not with Nick? She also needs to stand up to her folks, not find herself locked into attending the wedding of her worst enemy from high school.
Of course, this does allow her to reconnect with Nick, her supposed boyfriend who agrees to attend that wedding with her. This creates even more problems and a reasonable person would cut the ties to Nick, but not Clarissa. Yes, he’s a decent person, but he’s also a wuss and it makes the reader wonder what Clarissa sees in such a spineless wonder. Yes, he’s hot - but, but, but, when will she be adult enough to stop judging by appearances?
Things I Can't Explain is about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties. It is an entertaining and must-read sequel to all fans of Mitchell Kriegman's Nickelodeon TV show, Clarissa Explains It All.
A hero, whether male or female, ought to have some basic courage, integrity and honor either at the beginning of the story, but definitely by the end of the quest. Clarissa keeps making the same mistakes again and again until the reader wonders what it will take for her to learn the definition of insanity, i.e. making the same choices repeatedly and expecting different results. She’s the proverbial train-wreck of a character and it’s a sign of Mitchell Kriegman’s fabulous writing that the reader can’t look away or put down the book even when there are times that Clarissa could only benefit from a “Gibbs” slap to the back of the head to get her brain functioning.
Clarissa definitely has issues. That’s even more obvious when her parents, yes together, arrive for a surprise visit. One would think it might last longer than a few hours since they’ve traveled from home to New York City, but it’s not. They want to meet her boyfriend, yes the stalker and that’s
She is such a well-drawn character that most readers will want to help her deal with life and adversity, to yell at her – “Come on, it doesn’t have to be that impossible. Cope, girl, cope!” With great characters, terrific dialogue and an extremely effective stream of consciousness, this story will engage and entertain readers. Despite her issues, we will want even more time with Clarissa whether she can explain it all – or not!
Review: Clarissa Darling, a character made famous in the television sitcom, Clarissa Explains It All, returns in this New Adult novel trying to deal with life as a ‘wanta-be’ grownup. It really isn’t working for her since her parents separated, her brilliant, younger brother disgraced himself ending up in prison after ripping off the Russian mob, her newspaper job died with the economy and her ex-boyfriend has become her stalker while her childhood BFF, Sam has vanished perhaps to the wilds of the world’s oceans – it’s never quite clear.
How can she explain anything to anyone when she doesn’t understand it herself? Or is that meant to be the humor in these continuous, tumultuous times? In addition to being unable to judge people and situations to her own detriment, Clarissa seems determined to “hook up” with guys who are emotionally unavailable. Again, it’s beyond time for her to take steps and grow up, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
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Sam Newsome was raised on a farm in rural King, North Carolina. During his childhood on the farm, he learned to appreciate nature and family. He developed the work ethic that continues to benefit him. He received a bachelor of arts in American history with premedical courses from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1971. He received his Medical degree from Bowman Gray Medical School (now Wake Forest University Medical School) in 1975. The patience and perseverance learned from his parents during his youth on the farm were valuable contributions to Dr. Newsome’s educational success.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Betty Jo, in 1971 and they have resided in King since 1978. They have two children. Carlton lives in Raleigh and shares a love of words, while Justin, an engineer at B/E Aerospace, resides in WinstonSalem.
Tell us about your new release. My new novel, JOE PEAS, explores the relationship of an itinerant Italian house painter with Dr. James King, a family physician in the small town of King’s Mill, North Carolina. Joe has led a colorful life as a rugged individual, while Doc leads a life filled with conformity.
see folks fighting severe illnesses who have led remarkable, vibrant lives.
Noted geriatrician, Dr. Kenneth Brummel Smith speaks of the past reputations nursing homes have had (some deservedly) of being ”snake pits.” The nursing home in my story mirrors my experience of a caring compassionate atmosphere.
They initially meet in a doctor-patient relationship, but then develop a bond that deepens when Joe breaks his hip and rehabs in Doc’s long-term care facility.
While he is in rehabilitation, he shares in the lives and struggles of other residents and begins to understand the meaning of friends and family. He helps with their problems and has a unique plan to help Doc.
What led you to write this book? My first novel, JACKIE, was well received. Since then I’ve been listening more closely to my patients. They have led rich lives and have wonderful stories to tell. They were inspirational in developing the characters in my new story. The new story enabled me to put some color into life in long-term care. It also allowed me to provide some health education.
Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book? Research was largely getting up every morning and going to work. The bulk of the story occurs in the life and practice of a family doctor. Not much research is needed there. Parts of the book: World War II, the art world, legal affairs did require some time online and some friendly advice.
How important is the setting of your story? I’ve spent my medical career in family medicine. I treat patients in my office, hospital, as well as in long-term care. I chose to highlight long-term care in this story because it is so misunderstood by most people. In long-term care, I see folks fighting severe illnesses who have led remarkable, vibrant lives.
Which is more important, character or setting? My story is character driven. I wrote four character studies and introduced them into the story and to each other in the setting of a nursing home. Some have their story is revealed before a nursing home admission and others are revealed by their interactions with other residents and staff.
Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life? Yes! There are several aspects of my patients seen in the characters of JOE PEAS. For some of these I had to elaborate a bit. For others I had to tone down their stories since a true account would be asking my readers to suspend believability.
Do you people watch for character inspiration? My profession as a physician is people watching. Sure, I watch people in the supermarket or at a movie. But people talk to me in the office in a one-to-one basis.
Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to share? My favorite characters are usually in the book I’m currently reading. Right now I’m deeply involved in Gresham’s Sycamore Row, sharing life of attorney Jake Brigance of Clanton, Mississippi as he unravels the estate of Seth Hubbard while fending off new and previous obstacles. I’m actually listening to this as an audiobook and with all the deep-south accents I can actually smell the magnolias. I spent many years sharing the life of Roland Deshane of middle earth and multiple alternate realities created by Stephen King in the Dark Tower series. The seven-book odyssey and his multiple other books with references to middle earth caught my attention for years on end. I’ve heard King say of himself that he writes by the pound rather than the word, and while that may be true, he certainly
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entertains and shows a broad span of literary inspiration from Sir Walter Scott to T.S. Elliot.
I feel a traitor to small presses everywhere to admit to such “popular” tastes, but how can you argue with success?
What do you hope readers take away from your work? First, I want the reader to be entertained. That has to beevery author’s first goal. If they can’t slog through your book, they won’t get any of your other messages. I want my writing to deliver a celebration of the values of family, friendship faith and healing. I want to present my view that individualism has value while conformity is not always positive. My characters overcome obstacles and have positive outcomes. I have woven a significant amount of health education into JOE PEAS. I think it actually helps the story.
Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share? Quirks! I have no quirks. Everything I do is logical and reasoned. Now everyone around me—WOW—they have quirks, but not me. OK, maybe I have one or two small oddities. Once an idea occurs to me I become obsessed. I can’t put it away in some dustbin the back of my mind till I’ve put it on a page.
What do you do when you are not writing? First, I’m a doctor. I’ve worked years to gain the confidence and trust of my patients, and have been lucky enough to treat the same patients for forty years. I still do my office practice, hospital and nursing home rounds daily. Which book impacted you as a teenager? I remember early on reading the Hardy boy books. I love Jesse Stuart’s Hie to the Hunter. Then I became engrossed in James Finemore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. I also began to read science fiction in the form of H. G. Well, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur Clark.
Do you read the genre you write? There are so many great new books and there are so many classics I never read when I had the chance. Yes, I read books in my genre. But I try not to limit it.
What is #1 on your bucket list? At one time it was actually writing a book. Now it’s writing a book that will make a profit.
Have you ever written a scene that “creeped you out?” Read my first novel, JACKIE. That book was published in October 2013. There is a scene (you’ll know when you read it) that is so prophetic it’s scary. Do you have a recurring theme to your books? I think that to be a writer, you should have a message. I would love to write a great spy story with guns and explosions and all grades of violence, but that’s not where I live. I’m not a Clancy or a Ludlum or even a Cussler. I’m a family doc who has spent years listening to my patients. I hear their complaints and share their problems. The theme of my story is not dystopic, but present a positive outlook for human nature. Most of my characters change and evolve to positive outcomes. I also hear their stories.When those stories inspire a tale that benefits the reader, I have achieved my goal.
What’s next? I’m thinking of writing a story based on the North Carolina outer banks involving a smattering of history and a lot of modern day discoveries of hidden treasures. I plan to focus on elementary school age as my audience. There’s nothing more than a few notes yet, just thoughts. As for questions I would like to be asked—Why do you write? I think that’s a fair question. After all, with the advent of the small and independent press industry in addition to the traditional publishing venues, the printed word is more prolific than ever. Almost every day one of my patients will ask me about my books and say, “I’ve written one too.” With so much verbiage already out there, why write? I write to record positive stories inspired by my patients and encounters with a small amount of my own point of view. Hopefully, I present an uplifting message. I write because it gives me satisfaction to fashion a story similar to the way a carpenter builds a house. In short, I write because I must.
WAITING FOR THE LAIRD By Willa Blair Spicy Contemporary Light Paranormal Romance
Released October 19 by The Wild Rose Press
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IF THE SHOE FITS By Shirley Mccoy Spicy Paranormal Romance
Released July 15 by The Wild Rose Press
BOOK EXCERPT JOE PEAS by Sam Newsome
John’s days were maddeningly routine. All the day’s activities were scheduled so staff could cram in every resident’s care in the allotted time. In the hours following 6:00 a.m. breakfast was served to the patients able to eat, then vital signs were taken, and baths were given. The TV was always turned to the same station, and invariably blasted the same stale routine of situation comedy reruns and the same diet of News Six talking heads delivering a rehash of yesterday’s news. With the exception of weather reports, John had never been interested in TV before his illness. Now the antics of Andy Taylor, the Mayberry Sheriff, and Barney Fife, his deputy, were his daily fare. But pictures and sound couldn’t compare to the fresh air and sunshine he had lived in all his life.
In John’s room at night, the hours dragged by like eternity. Even though John was awake, he had almost no ability to express himself to the outside world, but he could still think. And he thought a lot. In the stillness of the night, the pump of his feeding device hummed, and the clock on the wall measured the seconds with an audible “tick, tick, tick.”
The nightly routine of the Center was hushed and subdued. The staff was reduced to a fraction of the day shift. During these hours, the staff moved quietly about and spoke with hushed voices. Occasionally the quiet was broken by a laugh or some problem with another patient. John wished he knew what they had to laugh about. The hall lights were dimmed, and John’s room was only illuminated by a small night-light. The atmosphere gave John time to think as he never had thought before.
He thought about all the things he had loved in his life and now missed. He thought about his tractor. He had bought the old John Deere used and tended it with more care than he had ever given to his children. When he concentrated really hard, he could hear that first cylinder explode with compression as he turned the ignition. The pow-clunk-clunk would repeat itself as he prayed for the tractor to start one more time. Then he would hear the second cylinder fire with pow-pow-clunk as the third cylinder decided whether or not to join the party. Finally, the third cylinder would join the
rhythm, and he would once again hear the familiar John Deere three-cylinder serenade that he so loved. He could hear that characteristic pow-pow-pow that he had taken for granted for so long but now cherished. In his mind, he would start his John Deere and hear its soothing cacophony of sound any time the room was quiet enough to think, which was most of the time.
Once John could hear the tractor running, he empowered his other senses. He could turn off the offensive smells around him and bring back those farm odors he remembered so fondly. The repulsive smell of antiseptics and excrement and even his own feartriggered sweat could be abolished. He could replace the unpleasantness with musty barn odors, which were just as organic, but welcoming. His favorite aroma was that of a newly turned field. God, how he loved the feel of the powerful tractor as it pulled the plow, creating long straight furrows that released the essence of the new earth into his nostrils. Nature’s mixture of farm odors was the most potent perfume he could imagine. He could even feel the moist soil squishing between his bare toes.with musty barn odors, which were just as organic, but welcoming. His favorite aroma was that of a newly turned field. God, how he loved the feel of the powerful tractor as it pulled the plow, creating long straight furrows that released the essence of the new earth into his nostrils. Nature’s mixture of farm odors was the most potent perfume he could imagine. He could even feel the moist soil squishing between his bare toes.
He thought about his family. He didn’t blame his children for leaving, but his main regret was that they had not shared his love of the land. Did he love his family? Probably not. At least not the way the nursing staff seemed to love their families. Alma had stood by him even though he had treated her like slave labor. He couldn’t blame her for her new behaviors. She had done his bidding without complaint for many years and had suffered the hard life of a farmer’s wife through the many bad times and too few good ones. No, he really had never loved her as he loved the land and his farm. He didn’t have that in him, and now it was too late. Soon he would be a part of the land. He would return to the earth as all men inevitably return to the soil. He was ready, and as far as he was concerned, the sooner the better.
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Fantasy/Paranormal Author JULIE WETZEL
Originally from Ohio, Julie always dreamed of a job in science. Either shooting for the stars or delving into the mysteries of volcanoes. But, life never leads where you expect. In 2007, she moved to Mississippi to be with her significant other.
Now a mother of a hyperactive red headed boy, what time she’s not chasing down dirty socks and unsticking toys from the ceiling is spent crafting worlds readers can get lost in. Julie is a self-proclaimed bibliophile and lover of big words. She likes hiking, frogs, interesting earrings, and a plethora of other fun things.
Tell us about your books. I currently have two series that I’m working on. The first is the Kindling Flames series. It’s a paranormal romance that follows Darien Ritter, the master vampire of Brenton, and his personal assistant, Victoria Westernly. Darien has been living outside the paranormal world for a while, but gets pulled back in when something start setting the city on fire. Now he has to find a way to get the supernatural beings of the city to work together to save their home and poor Victoria gets to come along for the ride.
The second series is a contemporary fantasy series called The Dragons of Eternity. This follows members of an organization that’s set up to protect and police dragon shifters. When dragon citizens start disappearing, Eternity sends its finest agents to investigate. Each book follows a different agent as they find new piece to the puzzle while attempting to stay out of trouble.
What led you to write this book? I started writing books when my sister joined the US Navy. In 2011, she was sent out on the maiden deployment of the USS George H W Bush. While they were out at sea, they entered into a combat zone that limited their contact with the outside world. They could get emails, but they could not get online for entertainment. Desperate for something to do, she emailed me and asked me to download some of her favorite fanfictions and send them to her. After reading through several of the strange mash-ups she requested, I decided that I could do better and started writing her a vampire story. The dragons came later, but for the same reasons.
How important is setting to your story? Since these books were original made to distract the audience from a tough situation they were trapped in, I tried to place them in a generic world the readers could connect with them. Something close to what they might find in their
hometown or closet small city. There were a few times where I put them in locations that would pull the reader to new places, but most of the time I wanted it to be an easy read that let the reader escape.
Which is more important characters or setting? This is a hard question to answer because for every genera there is a different answer. For what I write, contemporary fantasy and paranormal fiction, I would have to say that characters are more important. You can have a really wellbuild world, but if your characters fall flat, the story falls flat. But on the other hand, if you do something like high fantasy or scify, a well-built world with less exciting characters and still have an enjoyable read. Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life? Yes. Several of the side characters in my dragon novel are representations of a few of my real life friends. They asked to be put in a novel, I so I wrote them all into minor roles, And killed a few that ticked me off. Do you people watch for character inspiration? Yes. I love to sit at the coffee shop and listen as people pass by. It’s amazing what people will say in a crowded room
Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet? There are a lot of characters from books that I think would be fun to meet, but I’m sure it would be like meeting movie stars. They may be really nice people, but they aren’t the people you think they are. It’d much rather admire them from far then have my idealized vision of them ruined by real life.
What do you hope readers take away from your work? I write to entertain. My whole reason for writing was to give my sister a distraction. More than once my books have been called ‘popcorn books’ or ‘something you can shut your brain off and enjoy’ and I’m fine with that. Unlike some authors, I don’t go into a book looking to deliver a message. If my audience found a moment of pleasure or escape in their read, then my work was done right. Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share? An interesting quirk? I don’t think I’m that interesting, but if you were to ask my friends, they would tell you that I’m a well of useless knowledge. No matter what the subject, I
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can usually come up with some tidbit of information that has very little relevance in real life. It’s helped in my writing when I needed to flesh out a character or add something interesting to a scene.
What’s next for you? I’ve got a lot of stuff coming down the pipe.
What is #1 on your bucket list? The first thing on my bucket list is to visit all of the Continental United States. Thanks to last summer’s vacation and this year’s trip to Denver, I’m much closer to my goal. I have now visited thirty-six of the forty-eight states. Next summer I hope to clear the remaining New England Stated before heading to the west coast and mountain states.
As to new projects, I have four things that I’m actively working on.
Which book impacted you as a teenager? I read a lot of fantasy as a teenager. I think the books that stuck with me the most were the Pren novels and Peirs Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series.
Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals? I love to go down to my local coffee shop to people watch and write. They are set up in an old house which gives the place great atmosphere. But I can only write in the backroom because of the windows. They don’t have proper curtains and the sun burns! Well, okay, no, the sun doesn’t burn, but it does reflect of my screen making it unpleasant to look at. What social media do you participate in? I spend a lot of time on social media. You can find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JulieWetzelAuthor/ ) Twitter (https://twitter.com/JulieKWetzel ) Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/wetzeljulie/ )
HAUNTING HIGHLAND HOUSE By Kathryn Hills Spicy Fantasy Romance / Time Travel Released October 19 by The Wild Rose Press
Living in a haunted house and uncovering a gateway in time were not in the job description when Samantha Merrill agreed to be the property manager of Highland House. Old photos of the reclusive master of the manor captivate her, yet she’s terrified when he appears out of nowhere. How can Robert Pennington be making love to her by the parlor fireplace when he died over a century ago?
Robert Pennington is a powerful industrialist charged with caring for an ailing father, a meddling mother, and two wayward siblings. Weary of his burdens, he longs for change. Is he ready for a woman from the future?
I’ve got two projects that are just wrapping up and should be available in the very near future. Those would be the audio edition of Kindling Flames: Flying Sparks and the ebook of Kindling Flames: Flaming Moon. The audio book will hit the mark within the next few weeks and the ebooks of Flaming moon will hit in the first week or two of October.
First is the Final book in the Dragons of Eternity series. For the Kingdom of Dragons will tie up all the loose ends from the first books.
Next will be the last in the Kindling Flames books. I’m not going to go into detail as to what this book is about yet because I haven’t fully plotted it out yet and my current description gives away the whole ending of the series.
After that is a retelling of a beloved fairy tale. A while back I had this great idea for book about a merman that gets cured and has to live on land until he can break the spell, but gave it up when someone pointed out I’d gender bent The Little Mermaid. Recently my publisher has ask for revisioning of fairy tales, so I pulled this back out and have been fiddling with it in the down time. The last project is new story line. I have two books planned for this one. They follow a woman who accidently signed up as a part time soul reaper and was sent a deamon to help her learn her new job. And yes, I do tend to work on all of them at once. I pick the one that speaks to me the most and that changes from day to day.
RED CURTAINS By Leanna Sain
Mild Romantic Mystery Released Sept 30 by The Wild Rose Press
Cleo Davis, a senior art major at the Savannah College of Art and Design, needs a model for her art project or she’s not going to graduate. Lily TelfairGordon, a homeless woman who has witnessed a murder and discovered a bag of counterfeit money in the garbage, needs someone to trust who can help her. Jonas Holmes, a reporter for the local paper, is trying to find out why bodies of homeless men keep showing up in the Savannah River. The unlikely trio find each other, but will they find the answers they need before it’s too late?
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KINDLING FLAMES: BLAZING MOON by Julie Wetzel
“What happened?” Elliot asked.
Phelan looked over to the tall vampire leaning against the jam for the pocket door between the entertainment room and the living room. Zak was wrapped around his legs chomping on his pants while his tentacles wiggling out over the floor. “She fell down and hit her head on a rock,” Phelan answered.
“I can see that,” Elliot said unfolding his arms and standing up from the wall. He shook his leg trying to dislodge the fay. It worked for a moment, but as soon as he stopped moving Zak was back on his cuff. “What I meant was, what happened with you?” He waved his hand towards the pair of werewolves.
Zak’s ends pulled back and he wobbled after the vampire trying to get another hold on the man’s cuff.
Stopping behind the couch, Elliot rested his hand on its back and looked down at Karl and the unconscious girl. “Do you need us for anything?” he asked the medic.
“I’ve got this,” Karl said as he lifted the ice pack up to look at the bump on the woman’s head. “I’ll let you know when she wakes up.”
Phelan looked down at his naked chest before glancing over to Rupert and his ruined coat. There was a tension in the Alpha’s shoulders that told Phelan the man was watching the lesser wolf closely, ready for something to happen. Phelan let out a sigh and opened his mouth to admit what he’d done, but Rupert spoke before he could. “We need help.” Rupert turned to look at Elliot. “But I would like to keep the vampires out of this.”
Elliot stood up straighter. “Would you like to discuss this personally?” “Please,” Rupert answered.
“Very well,” Elliot said. Pushing Zak back with his foot, he stepped away from the wall carefully so he wouldn’t tread on Zak’s delicate bits.
Phelan glanced between the two powerful men as Elliot considered Rupert.
Disengaging Zak’s teeth from his pants again, Eliot picked up the fay and set him on the girl’s legs. “Stay in case Karl needs you,” he ordered.
Zak sneezed at him but shook himself into dog form before lying down.
Elliot patted the back of the couch glad to be free of the little fay’s teeth for a while. He glanced down at the chewed cuff of his pants before turned to face Rupert and Phelan. “If you like, we can discuss this in the kitchen,” he suggested, getting his mind back to where it needed to be. Rupert nodded and started across the living room.
Phelan looked down at the injured woman before turning to join his Alpha and Elliot in the kitchen. He wanted to stay and make sure the girl was okay, but he had a lot of explaining to do. The bad part was, he wasn’t sure he could explain what had happened.
FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN
The Novels of Ravenwood, Book One
By Judith Sterling
Historical Romance / Released Sept 30 by The Wild Rose Press
How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride? Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own. William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.
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Tell us about your new
release. BULLET IN THE CHAMBER begins on Lark Chadwick’s first day as a White House correspondent for the Associated Press. When the Executive Mansion is attacked, Lark is thrust into a deadline-aminute thriller. The president is missing, the first lady’s life is at risk, and the man Lark loves disappears.
What led you to write this book? I try to write what I know. I covered the White House for the last three years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, so a political and journalistic backdrop is always important to me. But BULLET IN THE CHAMBER is personal, too. I write about the heroin overdose that killed my 22-year-old son Stephen in 2011. Writing about that as fiction was extremely cathartic, but I also hope it will help destigmatize the scourge of heroin addiction that is killing so many of our young people every day.
What do you hope readers take away from your work? First, I simply hope they come away feeling satisfied they were immersed in an intense story. I also want them to feel a personal connection to Lark, my protagonist. That includes being able to feel empathy for her grief. Also, it’s very important to me – especially in this hyperpolarized election year – that people come away with a better understanding of how hard journalists work to be fair and accurate. In my experience, it’s the people who have never set foot in a newsroom who seem so certain that journalists have an “agenda.”
How important is setting to your story? I think it’s very important, especially a setting that may be unattainable to most readers. BULLET IN THE CHAMBER takes the reader behind the scenes at the White House. I believe setting is also important to people who have a personal connection to a place, but who may not live there any more. I suppose that’s why my first two novels were set in south central Wisconsin: I haven’t lived there since 1983, but the longer I’m away, the larger its memory looms in my subconscious.
Which is more important, characters or setting? The two go hand in hand because they have an effect on each other. But, if you were to hold a gun to my head and force me to choose, I’d have to say that, for me, character is more important. That’s because a good story is a good story no matter where it’s set. People – and what makes them tick – are fascinating to me. It’s a bottomless well of inspiration. Also….I often fictionalize my settings for the sake of plot. For instance, in my third novel, Troubled Water, the setting is based on Columbus, Georgia. But, because I needed a particularly dramatic location for the climax scene, I changed the name of the city from Columbus to Columbia so that sticklers for detail wouldn’t be able to accuse me of getting my setting wrong.
What are you reading now? I just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote Eat, Pray, Love.
Big Magic is an amazing and practical book that examines creativity. It’s relevant for people of any age or ability and certainly takes the pressure off anyone who feels they’re “not good enough” to create. What social media do you participate in? Mostly Facebook. It’s very dynamic and effective. I’m on Twitter, but not regularly. Obviously, I’ll never be my party’s nominee for president.
What’s next for you? I have lots of irons in the fire. I lead writing workshops around the country – and sometimes abroad -- for struggling and/or aspiring writers. I expect my speaking schedule to intensify with the publication of Bullet in the Chamber. I’m also working with voiceover artist Suzanne Cerreta to make Bullet into an audio book. It’s spooky when the voice I had in my head when I was writing Lark’s character became manifest in my headphones when I was auditioning narrators for the role. Suzanne “gets” Lark and makes her come alive as an engaging character. In addition, I’m collaborating with journalist Jenna Bourne (a former CNN intern and now a reporter at WJAX-TV in Jacksonville, Florida). We’re working to make my novels into a television series. Oh! Eventually, I’ll start work on novel #5 in the Lark Chadwick series.
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BULLETT IN THE CHAMBER by John DeDakis
Doug and I were stuck in D.C.’s formidable rush-hour traffic. We had plenty of time to talk.
I got the ball rolling by holding a pretend microphone to my mouth: “If you’re just joining us, let’s return to our conversation between Doug Mitchell and Lark Chadwick where we left it last night at Shotzie’s Pub. As you may remember, Doug has just told Lark that he reeeally likes her. But then he conveniently – and indelicately – chickened out of the conversation because he had to – in his words – ‘take a leak.’ Let’s pick things up from there, shall we?” I turned to Doug and held the “microphone” out to him.
At last Doug relaxed and seemed to begin to warm to my approach. He coughed self-consciously. “Of course, Lark.” He turned to look at me. “May I call you ‘Lark’?” “I’ll allow it.”
“As I was saying. I’ve grown tired of the Catch-and-Release game because I’ve come to realize that it’s shallow and selfish. Since I met you, I’ve simply lost interest in anyone else.”
“And why is that?” I asked, tossing my hair coquettishly and batting my eyes. “Use both sides of the page, if necessary.”
His jaw tightened and he gripped the steering wheel in both hands at the ten and two position – even though we were at a dead stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
He turned serious for a moment. “I think it’s because you’re so . . . ” he paused, groping for the right word. “You’re so smart. You’re brave. And you’re, just, well, fun to be around. Hearing you laugh gives me a contact high.”
“I forget,” he mumbled.
“Shall I go on?”
“Mr. Mitchell? You were saying?”
“No you don’t, you liar.” I poked him playfully on the shoulder.
His face remained sphinx-like as he glowered out the windshield and studied the writing on the back of a panel truck advertising plumbing services.
“Alright,” I sighed. “Let me prime the pump a little. For the record, I reeeally like you, too, Mr. Mitchell.”
His features relaxed and he took his eyes off the back of the panel truck long enough to throw me a furtive glance. “What? Am I supposed to say more?” I nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“I’ve already said my piece,” he grumped.
“Okay. Then let me ask a follow-up, Mr. President. You were telling me about the charming practice of ‘catch and release’ and how the thrill of the hunt and conquest protects you from having your heart broken.” “Geez.” He scratched his head. “Did I say that?”
“Yes. But you’d been drinking, which explains your plea of temporary amnesia.”
“However,” I continued, “if I remember correctly, you said that I’m different and that you’re no longer interested in playing that chivalrous – or should I say childish -- little game any more. Could you elaborate, please?”
I felt myself blush.
“Please do. Take as much time and as many words as you’d like.”
“Nah. I think I’ll leave it there.” He grinned impishly. “Noooooo!” I whined.
He laughed. “Nope. My turn. Let me ask you: why do you reeeally like me?” I scowled, not wanting to be put on the spot when being on the pedestal felt so much better.
“Okay,” I sighed. “First,” I opened my left hand and with the forefinger of my other hand began ticking off his positive attributes. “You’re easy on the eyes. But, yes, I know, that’s superficial and it shouldn’t count. But it does. Whatever.”
I was feeling flustered. And when I feel flustered, I yammer. And when I yammer, I feel like a fool – which makes me keep yammering. Pathetic. “Two,” I said, “you’re good at what you do and you’re smart.” “That’s two and three,” he corrected.
“Whatever. Four: I like being with you.” I paused. “And . . . .” “Go on,” he prompted.
“As I remember, you’re a pretty good kisser.”
“It needn’t stop there,” he said, eyebrows bouncing suggestively.
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Barbara Barrett spent her professional career as a human resources analyst for Iowa state government, and that training has stayed with her in her writing of contemporary romance fiction. Now retired, Barbara spends her winters basking in the Florida sunshine and returns to her home state of Iowa in the summer to “stay cool.” Married to the man she met her senior year at the University of Iowa, they have two grown children and eight grandchildren. Keeping It Casual is her seventh romance novel published by The Wild Rose Press and her third and final one in the “Matchmaking Motor Coach Series.” Her previous works include: And HE COOKS TOO, DRIVEN TO MATRIMONY, SAVED BY THE SALSA, THE SLEEPOVER CLAUSE, TOUGH ENOUGH TO TANGO and SEDUCTION ON WHEELS.
Tell us about your new release. Alexandra Appleby agrees to play Geoff McKenna’s new love interest to convince his current girlfriend, who’s pushing for marriage, to dump him in return for his help in getting her stepsister to lease her luxury motor coach to Alex’s client. Since this is just an act, Alex and Geoff agree to keep things casual, but doggone it if love doesn’t stifle their plans. (Did you follow all that? Blurbs and tag lines are not my forte.)
What led you to write this book? This is the third and final book in the “Matchmaking Motor Coach” series, a modern-day Midwestern take on the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” but this telling stops at three. At least for now. The three McKenna brothers own and operate a motor coach customization company in Burlington, Iowa. The first book is a fish-outof-water tale about an unemployed interior decorator from Los Angeles who finds herself hiding out from an angry client in this small Iowa city and eventually falls for the youngest brother. The second book is a road trip involving the oldest brother and the divorced, harried mother of a teenager, who has purchased the motor coach to take on the road for her upcoming concert tour. She is also the half-sister of the heroine in the first book.
As I was finishing the first draft of the second book, when the two have made their way back to Los Angeles, the daughter of their mother’s third husband (still with me?), their stepsister, suddenly makes an appearance. Until then, I wasn’t sure what to do about the third book, because I’d already given the middle brother a girlfriend, who was there in the first two books. Then it came to me; this stepsister would somehow break them up in the third book. But I had to give both her and the brother compelling reasons for ditching the girlfriend in order to portray them in the best light. To accomplish that, the girlfriend had to morph from an understanding companion in the first two books to a demanding harridan who wants more than the brother can give.
Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book? Readers have known since the first book that Geoff has multiple sclerosis, but it isn’t until this third book, which features him, that his fears about his future and how it might
affect his relationship with a woman are discussed in depth. Years ago, one of my bosses also suffered from MS, and I received some of my initial information about the condition from her. She told me that the warmer months of the year, particularly if they were also humid, made things worse. For that reason, all three books take place in late spring to late summer. At my high school class reunion last year, I learned that one of our classmates also had MS. I contacted her and asked if she’d be willing to review the book before it was it was finalized to ensure credibility. She readily accepted my request and was quite taken with how I had presented not only Geoff’s situations but also that of a friend who has a much more severe case of MS. I so appreciated her input, I named a character in the book, a nurse (Tresa), for her and listed her in the dedication.
How important is setting to your story? The setting, this town on the Mississippi River, initiates the story. It is latey spring and heavy winter snows have caused the river to overflow its banks, flooding the downtown area and lower, flatter farmland in Illinois on the other side. Geoff returns to the garage where their company is located after a night helping sandbag to hold back the flood waters. He is exhausted, having exacerbated his condition. When his girlfriend discovers this, she uses his condition as her entrée to moving in with him to monitor his health. Until this point, Geoff has enjoyed dating her on a steady but not constant basis, but her accelerated interest in his health warns him that he has taken their relationship for granted too long and it’s time to call it quits.
What do you hope readers take away from your work? Above all, I want readers to take hope and optimism away from my work by the way I show everyday people overcoming their fears and mistakes to lead more meaningful lives. Although I’ve only written one romantic comedy to date, I also hope my sense of humor comes through in all my books and causes readers to smile and laugh.
Which book impacted you as a teenager? Exodus by Leon Uris. First impact: it was the longest book I’d ever read, but I kept with it and felt pretty good about myself for finishing it. Other than the classics I’d been
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assigned in school, this was the most “adult” book I’d come across, and I don’t mean “adult” in a sexual way, although I think there was some of that in there as well, but in a conceptual, intellectual and emotional way. I learned I could handle grown-up subject matter like this. It also whetted my appetite to study history in more depth; a few years later, American history became my major in college. Second impact: The book was both encouraging, because of the great hope of beginning a new Jewish nation, but also quite alarming and depressing to learn why that was necessary and the difficulties faced by those involved. It was also history that had occurred in my lifetime, although I was just a baby (and now I’ve revealed my age, although you’ll have to do some quick math and historical research to figure it out). Do you have a reoccurring theme to your books? I didn’t realize this or set out to deliberately focus on this theme, but I tend to include a close family member whose influence on the main character sets up the conflict or acts as their sounding board. In this book, Alex sacrifices her career goal and puts up with the demands of a narcissistic client to protect her father’s reputation. In the first book in the series, the heroine runs away from a difficult situation in LA to hide out in Burlington rather than let down her
mother. In the second book, the heroine has allowed her mother (same one as in the first book) to determine how she’ll get back on her feet after her cheating husband absconds with most of their money. On the positive side, in each of these three books, the siblings have each other to turn to for advice and comfort. What are you reading now? just finished reading Some Luck by Jane Smiley for my book club. This is the first part of her trilogy about an Iowa farm family that spans a century. The book really resonated with me because it begins in 1920 in the POV of one of the main characters when he is an infant. My dad was born that same year. I don’t know a lot about that period in his life, but the book supplied numerous details about the weather and food and events, etc. that could have happened to him. Smiley’s approach is a series of year by year anecdotes about the family as they adjust to the changes in rural life following World War I, into the Depression, through World War II, and into the post-war years, when I was born. Since my degrees are in American history, this approach appealed to me, although I can’t see following it myself in a future book. A lot of work! I can’t wait to read the second installment when I find some “down” time, which does not exist, so I’ll just have to make time.
KEEPING IT CASUAL by Barbara Barrett
Around a hundred miles, he turned onto I-29 to go north. He pulled off at the first exit and headed for a fast food place. This had been fun. Best time he’d had in days. He sat back and slapped his thighs. Alex returned an “I-told-you-so” look. In response, without giving it further thought, he gripped her shoulders, brought her toward him, and kissed her. When he released her, she breathed out, “That was unexpected.” “For me, too. But not at all unpleasant.” She remained only inches away, her breath grazing his face. Her eyes didn’t leave his. Without uttering a word, she invited him to return to the scene of the crime. So he did. Big time. When she didn’t back away, he increased the pressure on her mouth, drew her closer, his arms encasing her, his right hand massaging her back. His left hand remained at her waist, awaiting its destination. Though spontaneous—yeah, there’d been some kind of vibes going on since Pella, but it wasn’t like they’d been flirting or engaged in more serous sexual byplay— neither seemed shocked nor turned off by their actions. It was like they’d both been waiting for some sign from the other since the day they first met.
When had he last made out in a car? Not since college. Maybe even high school. Forgotten how the intimacy of front seat lip lock could give a guy such guilty pleasure. Could send his insides into overdrive, even in broad daylight. Broad daylight. Right. Get control of yourself, man. Alex beat him to the punch, shifted back in her seat. “Should I, uh, read anything more into it than a thank you for having you drive?” He didn’t know. The thought had hit him and he acted on it. So why was he feeling so gobsmacked rather than just pleased? Gobsmacked? Had he ever used that term before? “Started out as pure joy. Turned into something else the second time.” “I’ll say. Got a name for that something else?” “What do you want me to say? That I’ve got the hots for your body?” One brow arched. “Do you?” “Don’t suppose you’d buy that I was just bored from being confined in this car?” “If that’s what it was. I’m all for living in the moment, grabbing your pleasure as you can. But you’ll let me know if you decide there was more to it than that? A girl likes to be prepared for these onslaughts.”
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Eclectic Express Reviews
WILDER HEARTS A Western Hearts Novel Book 2 By Lilly Gayle Historical Romance Released May 6, 2016 by Glass Slipper Press
BULLET IN THE CHAMBER Lark Chadwich Mysteries John DeDakis
Mystery/Thriller Released Oct 1, 2016 by Strategic Media Books Review by Heather Haven
BULLET IN THE CHAMBER is a noteworthy novel on many levels. To quote the author’s own words, ‘a lot of this novel is autobiographical, yet heavily fictionalized, too.’ It is easy to tell it was a painful book for Mr. DeDakis to write. The sorrow one feels for the loss of a loved one, a young life cut needlessly short, permeates the piece. The interwoven sorrow gives this story a depth it might have lacked as merely a mystery/thriller. Without giving the plot away, the story revolves around a young, up and coming news reporter, Lark Chadwick, the newest White House Correspondent for the Associated Press. She is nervous and hopes to be worthy of this prestigious job. The fact that Lark’s immediate supervisor has a grudge against her only fuels her determination to do a good job. She is tested at every turn.
When there is a drone attack on the White House within minutes of her stepping within its walls, the reader is off and running side-by-side with Lark. In this fast-paced novel, there is no rank from President of the United States on down, not any place in Washington that is safe. Betrayal and death lurk everywhere.
What makes BULLET IN THE CHAMBER work so well is the authenticity of the narration and the ‘been there, done that’ attitude coming from the author’s pen.
This is a fast-paced thriller that rings true. From the gritty, yet idealistic characters, harrowing situations, to the established protocols in place for dealing with it all, it comes across as real. But the human side is never forgotten. Keeping pace with the thrills is the ever constant hurt and loss.
If you want a sense of how news stories are developed out of the White House, read BULLET IN THE CHAMBER. You’re going to feel like you’ve been there and done that.
Ellie Wilder has pluck and a passion for writing about outlaws. When Ellie decides to leave her grandfather’s home and follow her father out west with her younger sister her path crosses with Jake the Snake. Jake is an alleged a member of Billy the Kid’s gang. When they arrived in town they find there have been numerous murders.
I really enjoyed the story between Jake and Ellie as misconceptions slipped away and emotions grew. My only complaint is that the author appears to have fallen in love with her research. There were large info dumps about Billy the Kid and the members of his gang. Yes, Jake rode with them briefly but that really wasn’t his story and the backstory seemed out of place. Then at the end of the book came speculation about Jack the Ripper, again too much of a distraction for my taste. With that aside, this is a good historical romance with vivid details of time and place and a captivating mystery. ACCIDENTAL WINGS OF DRAGONS Dragons of Eternity By Julie Wetzel Paranormal Released June 9, 2015 by Crimson Tree Publishing
Michael Duncan is investigating the disappearance of several dragons. Captured and kissed his life is turned upside down as he finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit while he unexpectedly begins to transform into a dragon.
I was intrigued by the idea that someone accidently becomes a dragon and since the book was offered free on FB I scooped it up. I really enjoyed the adventure. In fact, I so enjoyed the book that I contacted the author for an interview, which you can read on page 17. ACCIDENTIAL WINGS OF DRAGONS is the first of 4 books in the series and if you are as much of a fan of dragons as I am I recommend giving this book a read.
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SHATTERED SPIRITS Jeff Resnick Mysteries #7 By L.L. Bartlett Mystery Released July 21, 2016 by Polaris Press
While riding his new racing bike, Jeff is hit by an SUV, an accident which has a cascade effect on his life. He loses his job to a replacement, his girlfriend pressures him to move in, his bank accounts are hacked, and a restless spirit begs for his help—all in less than a week. But it’s soon apparent that his so-called random accident is anything but, and the murder of a close friend has a hobbled Jeff on the run. Can he discover who’s out to destroy his life—and threaten those he loves most?
I have loved this series since Murder on the Mind came out in 2008. In the first book we meet Jeff an everyday guy who works as an insurance investigator who is mugged and severely beaten. The head trauma triggers abilities to sense what others cannot and leads him to one mystery after another. What I love about the series is the complexity of the characters and storylines. Bartlett once again delivers a fascinating plot in SHATTERED SPIRITS as seemingly unrelated incidents collide in an exciting and surprising ending. Bartlett is also known as Lorna Barnett and the Booktown Mysteries and Lorraine Bartlett and the Victoria Square Mysteries. KITTY SAVES THE WORLD A Kitty Norville Novel By Carrie Vaughn Paranormal Released Aug 4, 2015 by Tor Books
KITTY SAVES THE WORLD is the final installment and a worthy conclusion to the Kitty Norville series.
Dux Bellorum begins his end game and Kitty rallies every resource she has to battle back as all hell breaks loose.
I have been a fan of the series and while there have been some books I liked better than others this one, this last one is GREAT. I usually judge a book by how many times I put it down. I started reading this book in the morning and didn’t stop until I read the last page with a sigh. Yeah, it’s that good.
Thank you Ms. Vaughn for a wonderful adventure with compelling characters and abundant surprises.
BECAUSE I’M WATCHING By Christina Dodd Mystery/Thriller Released Sept 6 by St. Martin’s Press AN ASHY AFFAIR By Lynn Shurr Spicy Contemporary Romance Released Sept 28 by The Wild Rose Press
TOO HARD TO FORGET By Amanda Balfour Mild Historical Romance Released Sept 21 by The Wild Rose Press
MY LAW MAN Slip in Time series By DeeDee Lane Spicy Western Time Travel Romance Released July 8 by The Wild Rose Press THE GIRL IN THE PAINTING By Rachael Richey Spicy Women’s Fiction/Romance Released July 29 by The Wild Rose Press DECEPTIVE PEOPLE Kristen Echo Spicy Romantic Suspense Released Aug 16 by author
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C E L E B R A T E
D I V E R S I T Y
Though we all love, hurt, and bleed the same, it is embracing our diversity that unites humanity. - Casi McLean
A ghost town buried beneath Atlanta's manmade Lake Lanier reportedly lures victims to a watery grave. But when Lacey Montgomery hurtles into the icy depths trying to escape a nefarious stalker, she awakens in the arms of a stranger, in a forgotten town––34 years before she was born.
Bobby Reynolds is smitten the moment the storm-ravaged woman opens her eyes and, despite Lacey's protest, their passion swirls fire and ice into a stream of sweltering desire. In a town destined for extinction, Lacey must battle the wrath of bootleggers and ominous twists of fate to find the key to a mysterious portal before time rips them apart. Will they survive, or are their star-crossed spirits destined to wander forever through a ghost town hidden beneath the lake. When I talk about a sports team that represents all of Earth, readers often ask whether there are any players like them. When I can say yes, it's a powerful thing for them, and also for me. - Greg R. Fishbone
Thirteen-year-old Tyler Sato has lied, cheated, and scammed his way into the Galaxy Games. Now, on the eve of the galaxy-spanning sports tournament, Tyler's past is catching up ...with a vengeance!
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As a multi-published author of several genres, I can’t imagine expressing my creativity without embracing diversity—perhaps because I grew up in a very small town, with socially reclusive parents. The key word is understanding. Without taking the extra effort to understand how people of different races, cultures, religious affiliations, those with disabilities, or different sexual orientations view the world—the very same world we share with them—we have no potential to grow as individuals. Only through understanding can acceptance—and ultimate human harmony—be achieved. - Claire Gem The Phoenix Syndrome
A scientific research tech turns forty, finds out her 20year marriage is over, and gets bitten by a drug-testing mouse all on the same day. She goes a little crazy, taking off to chase an old dream of a music career, along with a new crush: the drummer of a heavy metal band. But reality bites back—the lab mice are going deaf.
A Taming Season
A scarred young widow heads out of Manhattan to reboot her life, heading to her family’s lake cottage. What she finds is a crumbling shack. The playboy resort owner next door offers to help in the hopes he can convince her to sell the property as well as to score yet another summer fling. The widow is tempted. But what exactly is the relationship between him and the exotic bartender with the Jamaican accent?
A Jewish, psychic interior designer reluctantly agrees to renovate a handsome Italian investor’s abandoned hotel on a lake with a sinister history. Loch Sheldrake, in upstate New York’s Borscht Belt, is rumored to have been the Mafia’s body dumping ground at one time.
Respect and appreciation for diversity must be a priority for the future of our country and the world. Studies have shown that tolerance for cultural diversity, so important in all aspects, is an important benefit of learning languages. - Judy Martialay • Gives children 6-10 a fun and early start learning Spanish. • Easy to use—whether or not you speak Spanish. • Free downloadable audio at website.
Pete the Pilot whisks the children away to Mexico. Aboard the plane, readers learn some basic Spanish. Then they learn more Spanish when they meet Panchito, a Mexican jumping bean, and follow him on his adventures.
Back at home, children can practice Spanish with friends and family. Activities include: • Performing a skit with friends. • Learning about the culture of Mexico. • Singing a catchy piñata song. • Making a traditional Mexican mask with dried beans
“Child-focused and friendly”
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Diversity in a book can be a reflection the reader needs to see, to understand he/she can be a hero, too. - Cj Fosdick
Self-determined Jessica Brewster is wary of any emotional relationship, after being betrayed in a bet.When the beloved grandmother who raised her dies, she inherits a mysterious teacup which when rubbed transports her back to 1886 in Old Fort Laramie, switching places with a look-alike married ancestor with a precocious young daughter.
Can she pull off the charade and find a way back, or will conscience and her twenty-first century “slips” expose her identity? As true love—and a gypsy— derail her plans, her ancestor’s brother shows up with his own dark secret. Is her future in the past? Her decision could save her legacy…and her life.
A Golden Quill finalist and Top 10 Finisher for Author and Book in a P & E Reader’s Poll. Available for $2.99 at Amazon, http://amzn.to/2aFyAdD Nook, Wild Rose Press, and most on line outlets. Check out http://cjfosdick.com for blogs, reviews, and free newsletter info. Even though I write fiction with a touch of fantasy, I strongly believe it must reflect society. All my books have strong Hispanic characters and the Soul Seeker series features a recently outof-the-closet gay man. - Marilee Brothers
Twenty-two year old Honor Melanie (Mel) Sullivan has an affliction. Due to childhood trauma and inappropriate social behavior, she is diagnosed with Aspergers, a form of autism. But, Mel knows Aspergers is not her true affliction. She prefers not to gaze into a person’s eyes because she is a soul reader, and what she sees can be frightening. It can also get Mel into trouble. After a brush with the law, Mel leaves her family home in Southern California and travels to Oregon where she meets Harley-Davidson riding William McCarty (Billy the Kid) and stumbles upon a human trafficking/baby-selling scheme involving a foreign girl from Kazakhstan, and others. Even though Mel's life is in danger, she won't stop until she finds the answers that will help those unable to help themselves
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Diversity teaches our youth that everyone should be accepted and included as they are, no matter one's color, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference. - Jeanne St. James
What could be better than waking up next to a hot guy? Waking up sandwiched between two of them.
Quinn Preston, a financial analyst, is not happy when her friends dare her to pick up a handsome stranger at a wedding reception. What better reason to give up men when her previous long-term relationship had not only been lackluster in the bedroom but he had cheated?
Logan Reed, a successful business owner, can’t believe that he’s attracted to the woman in the ugly, Pepto-Bismol pink bridesmaid dress. And to boot, she’s more than tipsy. After turning down her invitation for a one-night stand, he finds her in the parking lot too impaired to drive. He rescues her and takes her home. His home. The next morning Quinn’s conservative life turns on its ear when Logan introduces her to pleasures she never even considered before. And to make things more complicated, Logan already has a lover. Tyson White, ex-pro football player, is completely in love with Logan. He has mixed emotions when Logan brings home Quinn. But the dares keep coming...
If children only read books about their life, how would they even know other children's lives are different? When we grow up in a familiar culture, only a story can open our eyes. - JoAn Watson Martin
Two eleven-year-old girls, Sarah Sue, white, and Princetta, black, live in a South Alabama town, during World War II. Sarah Sue has no awareness of people living in difficult circumstances until she becomes friends with Princetta, the daughter of their black cook. Sarah Sue has the same intolerances of the times as she realizes it is not suitable to have a colored girl for a friend. Sarah Sue dares anything for fun, instigating escapades that get both girls into trouble. Tension mounts as prejudice and bigotry intrude on their lives. When Sarah Sue recognizes the skewed injustices, she feels compelled to question the status quo. Eventually she comes to know, “Not as much separates blacks and whites as we thought.”
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Diversity in characters, story line, and genre is what will intrigue readers into buying your books. This variety, if learned well by the author, is what will keep the readers coming back and giving you 5 Star reviews with a good possibility of having the title of Bestseller to hang over your name. - Houston Havens
Top psychic spy Fay Avalon saw too much on her latest mind traveling mission and is now on the run from her post-catastrophic dystopian government, searching for the truth and proof. She escapes but is shot down, landing in the arms of the enemy.
In Drakker and Arlo’s world, women are so rare the men have accepted a polyandrous lifestyle. When the brothers stumble upon Fay unconscious in the wreckage of an aircraft, they are immediately attracted to her. Arlo wants to keep her, but Drakker knows they can’t. They must take her to their brother Logan Abán, leader of their people.
Logan struggles with trusting anyone, even himself. When a beautiful, intelligent, and intriguing woman falls into their laps, his denied desires for intimacy challenge his need to trust the spy. He’s frustrated by romantic Arlo’s claims of her innocence. Even when pragmatic and dominating Drakker defends her as well, Logan refuses to trust his gut.
Can one woman satisfy the diverse desires of three men? Will Logan’s fears be realized by betrayal? Is Fay to be sentenced to death as a spy, suffer a fate worse than death by being returned to her government as a traitor, or will she find a new life and love as the wife of three sexy brothers?
Diversity: If we were all the same, how boring life would be! - Susan Fox
It’s Christmas in the cozy Western town of Caribou Crossing, the season for homecoming, forgiveness, and—just maybe—the gift of a fresh start…
As the holidays approach, the air is filled with the festive sounds of bells chiming and carolers singing. Maribeth Scott loves Christmas, but she’s pretty sure that after years of waiting, Santa isn’t finally going to gift her with Mr. Right. In fact, the only thing she truly wants for Christmas is a baby to love. At thirty-nine, she’s determined to become a mother and she will make it happen, even if she has to do it on her own.
When Mo Kincaid returns to the rustic town after almost twenty years away, he’s seeking redemption from his checkered past. The last thing on his mind is romance, and he’s certain he doesn’t deserve it. But now there’s irresistible Maribeth, showing him the true spirit of Christmas and winning his heart. For the first time in Mo’s life, the future looks bright. Only one thing stands between them: Maribeth’s deep desire for a child and Mo’s conviction that he’s too flawed to be a father. Is his world-weary heart ready to take the ultimate leap of faith?
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I think we all need to learn to embrace the diversity that makes us who we are, who are neighbors are, and who society has made us become. - Nicole Morgan
Terry Reynolds runs his family’s cattle ranch in Antonito, Colorado. Born and raised on the one-hundred-plus acre property, it’s the only life he knows. Much to his matchmaking mother’s dismay, it’s the only thing in his life he truly cares for.
Andie Donahue has just moved to Antonito after inheriting a small two-bedroom cabin from her late aunt. She wants a new start and decides this is her chance. After discovering a dating site has matched her to a handsome cowboy in the same town, she wastes no time sending the hunk a message. Terry has no clue why some strange woman has shown up at his ranch, or what the heck she’s talking about. After running the adorable brunette off, he finds out the truth. Now he’s faced with making amends for his mother’s meddling. But did he just blow the best chance he had for love right out of the water? And worse…what does he do now?
Diversity: Loving hearts know no boundaries. - Rose Anderson
Bound by limits dictated by society, Art Historian Nicolas Halstead lived a guarded life until a tempest in the form of Elenora Schwaab blew into his world. At first Nicolas can’t decide if the audacious American is simply mad or plotting blackmail for not only does she declare knowledge of his homosexuality, she offers him a marriage proposal. After Ellie tells him of a previously unknown work of Leonardo da Vinci, a book of erotic love poems and sketches dedicated to the artist’s long-time lover Salai, Nicolas joins her in a race to save the book from destruction. Along the way they encounter Historian Luca Franco and discover a comfortable compatibility that comes to redefine their long-held notions of love. The trio embarks on an adventure of sensual discovery, intrigue, and danger. Little do they know Leonardo da Vinci’s book is far more than meets the eye.
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Diversity in scifi is more than featuring different colored characters. It means showing gender fluidity, the culture of aliens and non-white humans, and the way in which they interact in a futuristic setting. It's my belief the genre should offer hope for the future. - Kayelle Allen
Two enemy warriors: one human, one immortal.
Different in belief, alike in spirit, marooned together on an alien world.
Diversity: The threads of the heart weave together all colors into a beautiful tapestry. - Laura Strickland Newly returned home to Lobster Cove from the War Between the States, blacksmith Douglas Grier can’t forget the horrors he’s witnessed or the beautiful young woman he helped break free from her shackles one dark night after her master’s plantation burned. He wishes he had at least asked her name, even though she and her family disappeared into the darkness and Douglas has no expectation of seeing her again.
Josie Freeman can’t remember the last time she felt safe. Even though she and her family are freed, they’re being pursued by slave hunters hired by their former owner. When their ship is damaged on the way to Nova Scotia , Josie is thrown into contact with the one man she never expected…the very man she had wanted to see. But will her past catch up with her before Douglas can free her heart? © 2016 The Book Breeze Page 32
Fiction leads us over the boundaries of race, ethnicity, and gender into our shared humanity. - Troon Harrison
When her mother dies, Rose is left feeling completely alone in the world, but the promise of a new friendship arrives on an English ship. Fireway, a red stallion, has made the long trip to North America and Rose falls in love with his beauty instantly.
The horse is headed on a westward expedition to the Red River Valley-the same place where Rose's father is rumored to be. Together, Rose and Fireaway make the journey. But bear attacks, roaring rapids, and other adventures are waiting at every turn. Set in 1800s Canada, this novel pairs the historical adventure of Dear America with the allure of all things equestrian in a package that's sure to please young readers.
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