Indie Books I’ve Read

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INDIE BOOKS I’VE READ AND REVIEWED– THAT EARNED 4 OR 5 STARS:

(Non-fiction, YA and Children’s reviews below)

ADULT FICTION/POETRY:

‘Til Death Do Us Part

By Jan Sikes

This is the final book in the fictionalized true-story of Luke and Darlina Stone. The story continues where it left off in “Home at Last” for Luke and Darlina. The remarkable journey of this couple comes full circle when music reenters their lives. I loved that Darlina (and their daughter) joined Luke on stage. It was beautiful to read the process of this couple creating music together. I felt every emotion reading “’Til Death Do Us Part”, especially knowing it’s the real story of the author– and it was the last book. I was heartbroken watching the decline of Luke’s health, but was amazed, again, at how strong their love was. When I hear an owl hoot at night it will always remind me of this couple’s unwavering love. A beautifully written series I highly recommend.

Home at Last

By Jan Sikes

The story continues for Darlina and Luke after he is released from 15 years in prison. It is their happily ever after in this fictionalized true-story, but with reality thrown in. It shows Luke’s adjustment to being back home, along with their financial struggles. But, it’s more than that. It is the weaving together of a new family, a new chance at life, and what is the single most important aspect of this story–a timeless love. It’s a tale that shows the reader what is important in life, and this couple focuses on that no matter what life throws at them. They are survivors. “Home at Last” is well-written, full of insight and emotions. I’m continuing the journey with the next book, “‘Til Death do us Part”. I highly recommend this series.

The Convict and the Rose (Flowers and Stone #2 )

by Jan Sikes

I have been looking forward to reading the second book of this series. The fictionalized true-story continues for Luke and Darlina after he goes to prison–for a crime he didn’t commit. The couple decides Darlina should go on with her life, while Luke deals with prison in his usual rebellious fashion. They go through changes and grow–which keeps you turning the page long into the night to see what happens next. The process of how Luke and Darlina handle this situation is captivating to read. I not only found the physical changes in their lives compelling, but the spiritual process amazing.  It’s a book that shows us to never give up and how to make the best of a bad situation while at the same time it’s about a love that can overcome anything. It is beautifully written and I’ll be continuing this journey in the next book. I highly recommend this if you are a fan of love –or like reading about change and the strength of what the human spirit can overcome.

She Marches Through Fire (November Snow Book 3) 

by A.M. Manay

I was excited to read the final book of this amazing series—it was hard to put down. The story continues where book two left off. November finds her strength as a vampire emotionally and physically. I love how she softens the edges of some of the harder characters in this story. The idea of Eden hidden within our world was one of the many gems Ms. Manay offered us. Some of the surprise directions the story took were satisfying to read, and sad at the same time. I hope there is more ahead for these characters. This is a series I highly recommend to everyone who loves a well-told story and the paranormal. If I could give it more than five stars, I would!

She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2) 

by A.M. Manay

This second book of the November Snow series “She Lights Up the Dark” is on equal ground with the first book—which I loved. The story continues where the first one ended and November is now a vampire in a world with other vampires, fairies, and werewolves. She’s a baby in her new form and doesn’t have the support she needs, at first.  She’s separated from her maker and is thrust into the world of her enemies. Ms. Manay gives us characters we can love and care about. It’s well written with attention to detail–with lots of new twists added in. I love how it is set in the Bay Area where I grew up, so I know all the areas the book is describing so well. This ended with another cliffhanger and I cannot wait to read the third book in this series. I highly recommend November Snow books for all who love fantasy and the paranormal.

Mirror, Mirror 

by Jessica Jesinghaus

“Mirror, Mirror” is a murder mystery with romance, and the paranormal. Sam is a journalist who suffers a devastating loss. During this time, she meets Patrick, buys a new house, and takes the dresser that used to belong to a murdered relative. As romance blooms with Patrick, a serial killer continues his quest, too. Sam is offered some insight and help from beyond–through the mirror on her dresser. Sam hopes this will solve not only the family murder, but the current ones, too. It is a page turner with a couple of twists along the way. It was a hard book to put down, because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I will be reading more by this author.

Unseen Motives (Driscoll Lake Series Book 1)

byJoan Hall

“Unseen Motives” is a mystery set in a small town. Stephanie is a successful author who comes back to her hometown after her aunt’s death. She hadn’t been there since her and her mother left after the murder/suicide her father was involved in. Now, she finds out what she thought was true, may not be. The characters are well written and the small town was charming. I could easily see myself living in the house Stephanie was staying in. There’s a bit of romance, rekindled friendships, and small-town gossip- along with the mystery. Although, I was able to figure out who the killer was—there was still an element of surprise I hadn’t expected. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!

Finding Katie

by Harmony Kent

“Finding Katie” is a beautifully written story about a difficult subject. Katie’s a seventeen-year-old girl who cuts herself to deal with childhood abuse and flashbacks. Being written in first-person present really pulled me into the story and I found it a hard book to put down. Katie ends up in a mental institute after she cuts herself too deeply. Although this isn’t light reading, I found a glimmer of hope when a nurse stepped in to help this young woman. I rooted for Katie and felt her pain as she opened-up to herself. This may have been a fictional tale, but this is a reality for some children. I finished this with a little more understanding of the people who pull others out of that darkness created by their loved ones. I highly recommend this psychological thriller.

By Staci Troilo
“Bleeding Heart” is a book that has a little bit of everything: history, culture, magic, romance, mystery, and action. The characters are strongly written and include four sisters who lost their father and a group of ‘brothers’ whose job it is to protect them. Gianni is one of the brothers who shows up at the architectural firm the sisters own and meets Frankie, the oldest sister. They’re passionately drawn to each other as he tries to protect her without her knowing and she unwillingly accepts his offer of help when she finds her car tires slashed. Then, there are the secrets. The brothers carry knives that provide them with powers, the sisters don’t know they are descendants of the Medici family or someone wants these Medici descendant’s dead. There’s plenty of action that makes it a page turner as well as details of Italian culture. I especially loved when they were at mass, cooking or interacting like brothers and sisters do. Ms. Troilo wrote an action-packed book that I fully enjoyed. I look forward to reading the rest of the series to see where the story goes.
by Michelle Abbott
This is a story that follows eighteen-year-old Pia. She is on a family vacation before she heads off to college. Pia quickly ends up meeting a local young man, Trey – who she doesn’t trust. They develop a friendship and steamy romance during her vacation. Their story is told first through Pia’s point of view and then finishes with Trey’s perspective. This makes for a deeper understanding of a book that is not only about a relationship, but touches on mental health issues and death. There was a stark contrast between how well Pia’s family got along and Trey’s family issues. I was rooting for Trey to overcome his impossible situation and Pia to recognize it. I loved the setting at the ocean and could see myself taking the same vacation. This is a story I enjoyed and look forward to reading more from Ms. Abbott.
When Mr. Burns Dies: Behind the Tentacles Conspiracy 
by R Kimbrell

“When Mr. Burns Dies: Behind the Tentacles Conspiracy” is a very well written and interesting conspiracy tale. It has strong main characters: Mr. Burns whose power seems to have consumed his humanity, and the young man Edgar who is Mr. Burns underling. It delves into classified programs and keeping them secret – at all costs. There’s payback and unforeseen results. The story line and characters kept my interest throughout. It was unnerving thinking this isn’t too far from the truth. I’ve always enjoyed a good conspiracy story- and Mr. Kimbrell provided that.

 

Myth and Magic

By Mae Clair

“Myth and Magic” is set in a small town. Unexplained things are happening at the Stone Willow Lodge. There is a mystery to be solved, as well as past emotions to be dealt with. Veronica (Ron) runs the lodge for the town’s rich family, the Breckwoods. Caith, the estranged son, is hired to find out what is going on at the lodge, as his past continues to haunt him. The relationship between Veronica and Caith is carried over from their childhood with both passion and hurt.  The mystery of who is trying to ruin the lodge takes center stage and propels the story, while the characters held my interest with their intricate relationships. There’s drama, intrigue, mystery, romance, miscommunication, family bonds, and love. Ms. Clair kept me hooked from the first page to the last. A very enjoyable read!

Discovery: Poetry and Art

By Rick and Jan Sikes.

This is a collection of poems and drawings from a husband and wife. Yet, it is so much more than a simple book filled with words and pictures. It is teeming with feelings from a forced separation of incarceration –  that is beautifully written. Rick found his freedom in writing. Injustice is weaved into his poems. It strongly comes through in the poem: “Name of Justice”. It was a chilling narrative of mob hatred: “The madness shouted, ‘More, more!’”. There is an undercurrent of humor- as well as love, too. “Just Love” shows a loving sentiment “You and I hand in hand, always together”. The artwork was equally amazing, especially the fact it was created by dots. “Willy Nelson” and the “‘Steam Train’ Maury Graham – The Hobo King” stood out to me, but I enjoyed them all. The book finished with poetry by his wife, Jan. “Leavenworth and You” spoke of promise, love, and hope. The line summed it up for me: “Our dreams took shape as boldly we spoke them” showing not even prison bars could separate their feelings for each other. “Discovery” was a journey into a bad situation with love shining through. This is a book that will stay with me, and I highly recommend it.

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II

by C.S. Boyack

This is a collection of short stories and micro-fiction that includes: science fiction, horror, and other genres. Mr. Boyack pulled me right into each story– quickly and completely. “Fever” was a thought provoking story about losing ourselves– in our daily lives. “Magpies” was chilling. I came away from this tale with an understanding of how a cow might feel. I loved “Angels” for so many reasons, including hope in the darkest of situations. “Holo-Barkers” was amusing and a bit too on target for the future. But, I believe it was the revenge story I might have enjoyed the most (maybe a bit too much), “Practical Geology”. I thought reading a collection of stories would make it easy to put the book down at night, but that wasn’t the case. I kept reading…just one more story. If you like short story collections with interesting twists and plots you will enjoy “The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack II”. I know I did!

Acts Beyond Redemption (Unintended Consequences Book 1) 

by Suzanne Burke

Acts Beyond Redemption has it all. It’s a thrilling psychological adventure with a conspiracy thrown in. The characters are so intriguing it was hard to put down, as Ms. Burke takes the reader into the minds of FBI agents and serial killers. I was kept guessing who was doing what the whole book. I like when a story is unpredictable and at the same time draws you in, so you don’t want to put it down. The murders are brutal and aren’t for the gentle of heart—which I am not. Shelia is a complex and interesting character as is her law-abiding counterpart Trish. Although the story takes you back and forth through time, it only adds depth to the story. I was relieved when I finished the book to find that the second installment of this series was out, so I can find out what happens next. This is a well written book that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend if you like a fast-paced thriller, that makes you think.

Murder on Tyneside 

by Eileen Thornton

I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie and Miss Marple–and “Murder on Tyneside” falls right into that category! It was a fun, British whodunit with Agnes Lockwood on a holiday. Of course, things begin to happen around her, and she helps the police with their investigation. A friendship is rekindled with Chief Inspector Alan Johnson, and a romance starts to bloom. This has the feel of a classic mystery, with a modern flare. I hope Ms. Thornton gives us more widow Agnes in future books.

Pregnant Future: No One Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring

by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

This was a detailed, interesting, and sometimes heartbreaking journey of a young Nigerian woman, Tina. I learned about the culture through Tina’s journey. She leaves her home to go to Rome to get an education in music. The author’s immersion of the character into a new place, with no support, keeps the reader turning the pages to see what will happen next. She was an intelligent woman who made some bad decisions and survived bad people, but always moved on with determination. Tina’s strength was picking herself up—no matter what the situation. “Pregnant Future” is a moving story that shows what the human spirit can overcome.

The Unholy: A Novel

By Paul Deblassie III

“The Unholy: A Novel” pulled me right in on the first page with a battle between a mother and a dark-caped man. The woman loses, but later her orphaned daughter finds her way back to the town where it happened, working as a therapist in a psychiatric hospital. She is drawn into the battle of good and evil, veiled in religion. The southwest setting was very detailed and interesting, but what kept me reading late into the night, was Claire’s place in this fight– filled with Native American lore, evil, and love. I enjoyed this psychological thriller with medicine women, and malevolent church officials engaged in a deadly struggle.

Papala Skies

By Stephen Geez
“Papala Skies” is an amazingly well told story about a young girl, Rochelle. She loses her mother at thirteen years old. She is whisked off to Hawaii and welcomed into a Hawaiian family and their traditions, but decides she wants to go back home to go to school and then college– with her father’s blessings. She grows into a capable young woman in Chicago, but keeps finding herself being drawn back to Hawaii. There is love, intrigue, and adventure along with a very detailed glimpse into the Hawaiian culture. The characters are strong and draw you into the narrative that is even stronger with several layers. I was invested in this tale. I recommend it to all who want to learn more about, not only Hawaiian legends, but about the strength of a young woman.

In the Arms of the Enemy

By Patrica A. Guthrie

“In the Arms of the Enemy” has romance and a murder to solve. I immediately liked the main character, Maggie, who is a horse trainer. She finds herself in circumstances beyond her control, with deception, mystery, and love. The setting on a ranch gives so much depth to the story. I loved the horse theme and love interest, “Adam”, who attempts to hide who he is. Not only was it a fun romance, but the detective work and horse training made it a page turner–and quick read. This is for not only romance readers, but horse lovers, and those who like a good old-fashioned mystery.

Circus Tarot

by Charles W. Jones

This was a clever and interesting horror story. I kind of felt like I fell down the rabbit hole, which I saw this was inspired by– that certainly described the story line. There were some very gruesome details that I didn’t linger too long in, but they fit the story. That is just something I do when I read horror (or any genre) but I am still a huge fan of it. I loved the idea of going into the cards and how all those characters interacted with each other. Of course, not being a fan of clowns, that made it even more terrifying for me. I am not sure I got to know the main couple well enough before their journey began, but over the book I saw more sides to them. “Circus Tarot” is a ‘terrifying’ read for those who love a good story-driven horror tale.

She Dies at the End (November Snow Book 1)

by A.M. Manay​

Ms. Manay wrote an amazing paranormal adventure. November Snow has the ability to see the future and works in a traveling carnival with her mother. Here enters vampires and fairies, and she is thrust into a world she has already seen. I loved the well-rounded characters, beautiful descriptions and depth of the story. I found myself enmeshed in a world, that I did not want to leave. I read late into the night, and finished the book during a power outage– on a dark and stormy evening. When the author described the landscape, I slowed down and read it, instead of skipping by it to get to the “good” parts. It helped that I was born and raised where the story took place, but Ms. Manay had a way of making what I had seen daily, seem new to me. I have found an author I will be reading all her books! I am very excited to see what happens to November Snow next. I highly recommend this if you are a fan of vampires, werewolves, fairies, psychics, or just love a great fantasy story.

Milele Safari: An Eternal Journey

By Jan Hawke

I admit, I was nervous when I started reading “Milele Safari” knowing rape and genocide were part of the story. I was worried it would be difficult to read, and parts of it were. But, I found myself quickly taken in by the story and strong characters, especially Sophie. She was a compelling character that I was rooting for.  Ms. Hawke brought history, events, and Africa into a fictional story in a unique way. It was a clever approach to tell a story through many points of view (including a panther) to get a full picture of complicated events. I found myself learning, as well as being entertained. It is a book that requires a little more focus to read, but it is well worth it!​

Passion & Struggle (The Genesis Saga Book 1) 

by John Fioravant

Mr. Fioravant wrote a thought provoking science fiction story set in the year 2796. There is a lot of detail in the beginning of the story, that slowed me down at first. Although, once I got into the story, I was hooked. I found some chilling parallels with the story line and what is happening in our own world. Genesis is a tropical planet that humans inhabited after they had to leave Earth when a virus got out of control. Earth was left to evolve in new ways. A common enemy united both planets for a past war. This led to Genesis trying a new form of government modeling after Earth. Implementing government reform does not go well, because Genesis is a society evenly split between religion and science/warrior classes. But, “Passion & Struggle” is about more than politics, war and religion. There is romance, adventure, hidden agendas, friendships, enemies and intrigue. The relationship between Earth and Genesis is fascinating within itself, but it’s the people that kept my attention. When I got to the last page, I wanted the story to continue and luckily it does! I will be reading the rest of the series!

The Heart’s Journey Home 
by Natalie Ducey

“The Heart’s Journey Home” is a beautiful book of poetry. I could feel the emotion written through the words. A few poems stood out to me for different reason. Winter’s Gift: “The snowflakes will melt, Join together again, Return to the heavens, Another journey begins…” I loved that idea and imagery. Caged Bird Sing: “You have seen the darkness, Yet, here you are…” made me feel hope for the future. Heart’s Journey Home: “Believe in yourself and the beauty within, Embrace your future, Have faith, Your heart will guide you again…” was a wonderful message of hope. The Old Oak Tree was a beautiful story and my one of my favorites: “He is no longer a stranger, Every day you stop to say hello, Stories of life and love, Under the shade of the oak…”. If you like poetry with a lot of emotion you will enjoy this collection of poems. I know I did.

A Perilous Thirst 
by Rhani D’Chae

“A Perilous Thirst” is a well-written short story about a gay vampire. It is uniquely written. As the reader, you are being directly spoken to, as if you are his next victim. The vampire explains his life, to a young man he meets in a bar at the beginning of the Aids epidemic. He is honest about his concerns, and what his plans are for this very drunk man, who has no voice in this story. It is deep, honest, and amusing at times. I look forward to reading more from this author!

Animal Tales

By Kevin Cooper

“Animals Tales” is a delightful mixture of poems and short stories about pets. One poem brought a smile to my face. A Source of Joy: “Paws at the ready—Anticipating—Movement on the screen…”. I could easily relate to a computer screen being under attack!  Some of the work focused on the author’s cats. I enjoyed, and connected to that part of the book. I really appreciated reading through the animal’s eyes, in some of the pieces. There was a short story, though, that really moved me. A Life for a Life that was about dog abuse. It was painful to read parts of it, yet, there was a lot of hope in the tale, too. This collection of short stories and poems is for anyone who is a pet owner or just loves animals.

Next Therapist Please

By Laurie Fenkelstein

“Next Therapist Please” is a charming, heart-felt tale about a woman’s journey through past therapy sessions and her interaction in the present. It touches on important subjects including: OCD, anxiety, depression, and Tourette’s that educate the reader, without taking away from entertaining, at the same time. Janie has endured living with several disorders, and has seen many therapists over the years– along with suffering a huge personal loss. Ms. Fenkelstein, manages to tell this story delicately, with humor and light romance. I love the setting on a small island off California’s southern coast where Janie lives. I enjoyed Janie’s friendships, and budding painting career. Although, this book talks about some heavy subjects, it still has humor and romance, that a reader can get lost in.

Into Autumn

by Larry Landgraf

Mr. Landgraf wrote a thoughtful, survival adventure—with a touch of romance. The two main characters, Lars and Eileen, find themselves in a world that has gone crazy, after the stock market crashes. Their world becomes a place where one needs to know how to exist, without any modern conveniences. The fact that this is a possibility for our future, makes it a chilling read. “Into Autumn” was authentically set in Texas, with flawed characters. There were things I read, that shocked me. Mr. Landgraf provides a lot of detail, that gives the reader an understanding of what Lars and Eileen needed to do to survive.  Sometimes, though, I felt there was a bit more information than I needed, but that did not take away from the story for me. I look forward to the next book in the series!​

Finding Gina

By Lizzie Chantree​

Ms. Chantree, wrote a charming romance, sprinkled with mystery. Gina travels in her unique campervan, that she lives in. She ends up living in the middle of a flower- covered meadow and making new friends. I enjoyed the relationships she made– while following her mysterious list. She was out to right the wrongs she believed had been done. I was curious how this was all going to turn out. It kept me reading long into the night. I found myself introduced to new words that I had to look up (which I enjoyed!) and finding some structural issues—which did not take away from the story, for me. I cared about Gina and her new friends. I could easily see myself sitting in the coffeehouse, enjoying my hot beverage and watching the story unfold. Sweet tale, that was interesting, and relaxing to read.​

A Thousand Yesteryears (Point Pleasant)

by Mae Clair

“A Thousand Yesteryears (Point Pleasant)” is an amazingly well-written paranormal thriller. After Eva Parrish leaves her hometown with her family, (after a tragic incident) she returns after her aunt dies. She finds herself not only dealing with the estate, but with someone who doesn’t want her there. The past still haunts Eva, and the rest of the town. Eva is thrust into a mystery that spans over two decades. She is helped by an unlikely friend, and a family from her childhood. Ms. Clair not only focuses the story on the Mothman legend of Point Pleasant, but give her readers, a mystery, romance, murder, and redemption.  I loved, not only the characters, but the depth, and surprise that went along with the main story. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, and have preordered the third book. It only took one book to become a fan of this author. I highly recommend this book–if you love mystery with a paranormal twist.​

Haunted Hearts – #1: A Lana Malloy Paranormal Mystery

By Kim Cox

Ms. Cox has written a charming light-hearted story. Lana is a new detective who gets a little help from ghosts, and her best friend the police officer. Plus, there is a love interest and a mystery. It is a good book to escape into, with interesting characters and an entertaining story. This is the first book of the series, I look forward to see how Lana’s relationship and career progresses. I hope Lucy the ghost makes lots of visits, too.​

Jazz Baby

By Beem Weeks

I get excited when I come across a novel that completely draws me in.  Mr. Weeks, wrote one of these books. It’s a historical fiction set in the roaring twenties in Mississippi and New Orleans. It is told from young teenager Emily Ann’s perspective. Born into a poor family, Emily Ann (or Baby as she was called) had a dream of becoming a jazz singer. She would do anything to achieve this and unfortunately, others preyed on her stubborn- innocence. It was painful to read what she endured, while her lack of emotion seemed to be what got her through it. Many times, I found my motherly side thinking, no please don’t do that, but this character was determined to do things her way. The story, through beautifully written words, shows the reader the darker side of prohibition, poverty, and poor parenting. I highly recommend this book.​

Raven’s Peak (World on Fire Book 1) 

by Lincoln Cole

Mr. Cole has written a fast-paced adventure with amazingly well written characters. I loved not only the interaction between Abigail and Haatim, but the humor mixed in with the horror and supernatural elements. The prologue’s images were chilling. The descriptions were so well written, I would slow down to enjoy them. If you like good vs evil, demons, hunters and a conspiracy (which I do!) this story covers it all– and a lot more. I read this book in two sittings. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series, and other books by this author!​

Novy’s Son: The Selfish Genius 

by Karen Ingalls

Although this book is fiction, it is based on Ms. Ingalls father. It is a book I will unlikely forget. The story starts off with Murray Clark’s childhood on an orange ranch, in Southern California in the 1920s. I enjoyed how detailed the history was through Murray’s eyes. I was completely involved in how Murray became the man he did. Murray’s actions (and his lack of responsibility for them) reminded me of men I grew up with. I saw the similar acting out in my own home as a child. It was amazing just how well Ms. Ingalls captured this in her book and the complex family relationships. Murray’s interaction with not only his parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, daughters and women, but most importantly—himself was riveting. I experienced many emotions reading this: both good and bad and sometimes uncomfortable, but only because I was so invested. I would agree Murray was a selfish-genius, yet part of me felt sorry for him and everyone around him. I wanted him to change– unfortunately, he always got in the way of that. This is a well written, fascinating read that I highly recommend.​

Flowers and Stone

Jan Sikes​

I enjoy a good romance novel and this is just that—except it is based on the author’s own story. I loved the details of her lifestyle. Ms. Sikes took her readers into her world of country music, go-go dancing and some drama to go along with it. It is a world I am not familiar with and it was interesting to read about. I had no idea what was coming next in the story or how it would all turn out. It was raw and honest. I enjoyed it and think anyone who loves country music, the power of love, or the depth of relationships will like “Flowers and Stone”.​

The Battle For Brisingamen 
by Harmony Kent

I love a good fantasy book, especially one that contains: elves, dwarves, vampires, werewolves and dragons like this one does. “The Battle for Brisingamen” starts with two main characters and what I thought was a love story. It quickly went from that to an adventure that never lets up. Ms. Kent takes us into a magical world that is hidden from most humans or Doggerland. The story line draws us into a battle while questing for Brisingamen through several points of view. I really had to focus to keep track of everything going on, but it was worth the effort. I really enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more from this author.​

RAVE SOUP FOR THE WRITER’S SOUL Anthology Kindle Edition

by Nonnie Jules (Author), Harmony Kent  (Author), Marlena Hand (Author), Nicholas Rossis (Author), Beem Weeks  (Author), Bruce A. Borders (Author), John Fioravanti (Author), Michelle Abbott (Author), Various Other Authors (Author)

 

“Rave Soup for the Writer’s Soul“ is a healing anthology that is inspiring. I found myself taking a journey through many pairs of eyes and enjoying every moment of it.  Every emotion was covered as you read the beautiful poetry through all the stories. Each author had their particular spice to add to this soup.  I found myself pausing to breath it all in.  This is a book I will be sharing and going back to more than once.​

Trafficking (Powell #1)

by Bill Ward​

“Trafficking” is a thriller based on a subject I find hard to believe still exists today: the sex trade. The story follows a young girl, Afina, who comes to England for a job– but it wasn’t what she expected. I wasn’t completely sure I’d be able to read on after her first brutal experience, but I soon found out she doesn’t give up, and gets some help from a man determined to get justice for his own daughter. A relationship blooms between them, that brings a lighter touch to the dark world they end up in. Although, Mr. Ward wrote about a difficult subject matter to read, the book ended up pulling me in and riding the adventure until the very last page. If you like suspense packed with action, and an adult theme, you will enjoy this book.​

My Grl

by John W. Howell​

“My GRL” by John Howell is not your average thriller novel. Written in first-person present it reminded me of an old-time detective novel, but there was nothing old fashioned about it. Main character, John Cannon takes some time off from work and finds himself (and his boat, My GRL) enmeshed in a plot—he can’t walk away from. I enjoyed John Cannon as your average guy trying to figure it all out, with the odds against him. The best part of the story for me was his sense of humor throughout the book. There were many unexpected twists in the book and Mr. Howell wrote a book that kept me up way into the night just to see what would happen next. If you are looking for a thriller (that isn’t typical) this would be your book.​

Neon Houses

by Linda C. Mims​

“Neon Houses” is a well-written story set in the future, but it has all the problems of the present, that make it relatable. Noel, who lives in the “good” part of new Chicago, but works in the “bad” part– or in the gang territories, heard someone die in her head. She has a gift she’s kept hidden, but it is now guiding her investigation into a young girl’s death. The line between good and bad isn’t so clearly defined, and that makes for well-rounded characters and story-line. Not only does Ms. Mims, comment on social issues, but adds other elements that make this an unusual futuristic story, that keeps your interest until the end. I enjoyed knowing where Noel’s “gift” came from and how she easily interacted in both “worlds”. I will be reading the next book in this series. I highly recommend this book if you like, not only social commentary, but a unique adventure set in the future!​

Dead Broke (Lana Denae Mystery Series Book 1)

by Bruce Borders​

“Dead Broke” is a murder mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end. Detective Lana Denae works alone after her partner died. She quickly connects two open cases. How did a woman get shot in a locked room? Why were people jumping to their death off a local bridge? Lana teams up with other detectives and finds clues that don’t take her where she expected to go. Mr. Borders wrote an enjoyable read that is for those who enjoy an interesting whodunit.​

 

ADULT NON-FICTION:

There is a Reaper

By Michael Lynes

“There is a Reaper” isn’t an easy read, but it is an amazing read. The reader is introduced to the Lynes family, and young Christopher. I was drawn into their world, and then continued on the journey of Christopher’s illness. The interaction of the family was their strength, but it was the wisdom and spirit of Christopher that will continue to linger in my heart. I felt a deep sadness reading about Christopher’s battle with a rare form of Leukemia. Yet, I was inspired by the faith that carried the family through this experience. In addition, this was skillfully written and had poetic descriptions mixed in. “There is a Reaper” is a reminder of what family and love are capable of.  I highly recommend this inspiring book for anyone who has experienced tragedy– or hasn’t.

Letting Go into Perfect Love, Discovering the Extraordinary After Abuse 

by Gwendolyn M. Plano

For such a difficult subject to write about (and read) I found myself inspired by the time I finished Letting Go Into Perfect Love, Discovering the Extraordinary After Abuse. Ms. Plano takes her readers through her pain and disappointments in life. The abuse she suffered at the hands of the person who should have held her up in love, could have made her cold or give up. She did neither of those things. Instead, her faith and hope only increased. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has been a victim of abuse or anyone who needs to be uplifted by strength, hope and faith.​

With Angel’s Wings

by Stephanie A. Collins​

“With Angel’s Wings” is a beautiful memoir that is written like fiction, but it isn’t. Laura marries her high school sweet heart and realizes her mistake, but tries to make it work. They soon add two little girls to this family. I love Laura’s honesty and her devotion to her children, who both end up having special needs. That would be a story within itself, but it wasn’t that simple. After her second child was born, she faced challenges that no mother should–with no emotional support from her husband. Through all the stays at the hospital, surgeries and ER visits she finds support in a new place, that included unconditional love. I found myself feeling every emotion with Laura as I read: anxiety, fear, worry, concern, frustration, strength, joy, and love. I stayed up late into the night reading, because I couldn’t put “With Angel’s Wings” down. I was emotionally invested in the story of Laura and her family. I highly recommend this amazing yet, painfully honest memoir.​

Not Really Gone

by Blaire Sharpe​

I admit, I don’t usually read memoirs so I was hesitant to read, “Not Really Gone”. This book actually surprised me and I could hardly put it down. It read like a good novel, but was it painfully real. The best part of this memoir was the tribute to the grandmother. The person that was always there and quietly taught the true meaning of love and sacrifice, but the book went even deeper. The author takes you into her life and doesn’t hold back with the painful truth of being raised in an alcoholic family. It beautifully bridges words on the kindle into visual reality. Anyone who came from an alcoholic household, or any type of addiction, will relate to this. However, a bad childhood is not necessary to appreciate this book which promotes hope– in a hopeless situation.

The Good Mommies’ Guide To Raising (Almost) Perfect Daughters: 100 Tips On Raising Daughters Everyone Can’t Help But Love!

By Nonnie Jules

“The Good Mommies’ Guide To Raising (Almost) Perfect Daughters: 100 Tips On Raising Daughters Everyone Can’t Help But Love!” is book full of common sense for parents. Even though my daughters are in their late twenties and early thirties, I still enjoyed this short but pointed read. I liked how the text is broken up into one hundred short ideas– covering every subject you could think of when raising teenage girls. I admired that the author, Nonnie Jules, walked in her faith the whole journey. Although, you don’t have to have the same belief system or faith to read this book to appreciate the insight from a loving mother. What stood out to me was being present raising your girls with unconditional love, and teaching them to be responsible and caring human beings not only for others, but themselves.

Our Lady of Victory: The Saga Of An African-American Catholic Community

by Shirley Harris Slaughter

I love history and what we can learn from it.”Our Lady of Victory: The Saga of an African-American Catholic Community by Shirley Harris Slaughter is exactly that–history we can learn from.

Ms. Slaughter has written a fascinating reflection not only of the Catholic Church, but racial issues within it and the surrounding community in Detroit. Not only did the author show the Church through her own family’s history, but the book covered many well-documented backgrounds from the parishioners that attended the Church, the Priests and Nuns. Included were pictures giving the reader a full insight as to what happened in the rise and fall of this parish.

Ms. Slaughter showed us a past in which we can improve upon. Our Lady of Victory: The Saga of an African-American Catholic Community”fills a void in history that I was unaware was missing. For anyone who has an interest in history, religion or the African-American experience. I highly recommend this book.​

Crazy! Hot! And on the Edge!

by Shirley Harris Slaughter​

Ms. Harris-Slaughter wrote a self-help book that I immediately connected to—in fact I read it in one sitting. Although, written from (and for) a woman’s point of view, I think their loved ones would benefit from reading it, too. It is an honest and insightful examination into chronic illnesses and the author’s battle to regain her health through: self-reflection, alternative and traditional medicine. Having gone on the same quest as the author, I was reminded of the importance of taking care of myself during stressful times—or because of them. I applauded her openness in writing about this subject and her wisdom in challenging what her doctors were prescribing for her. It is important we all take control of our health and she gives examples to get the reader started, including eating healthy. This book is for anyone who is struggling with their health or is already started on the path to health. The message I took away was, never give up!​

YA:

The One Enlightened: Chronicles of the Diasodz, Book 2 

by Yvette M Calleiro

I admit I haven’t read the first book of the series, and was worried I would be lost—I was not. Ms. Calleiro wrote a wonderful book filled with fantasy, romance and adventure. It drew me right in. I spent many late nights reading (just one more chapter) to find out what was going to happen to Sophia next. I loved learning about the Diasodz culture along with Sophia. There was a lot of new age and Biblical references, that were blended together, and made a nice addition to the story. I am always excited to find a book that completely immerses me in the story with good writing– and this was one of those books. I cannot wait to go back and read the first book, and then continue the journey with Sophia in books #3 and #4.​

Vampire Island (Hunter Series Book 1) 
by Sandra Cox

Vampire Island is an action- packed YA book. I could easily relate to Zoe who is a girly- girl who hid her intelligence under her fashion statement. Ms. Cox quickly lets you know Zoe suffered a huge loss with her parents’ sudden death. Zoe’s adventure begins with her going to live with her uncle, who immediately tells this seventeen-year-old not to go out into the dark. Of course, she questions this and the mystery begins. I couldn’t put the book down after that. I look forward to the next book in the series. I recommend this for anyone who loves a good supernatural mystery from a teenager’s point of view, or just loves a good action adventure– on a tropical island.​

Makai Queen (Makai #1)

By Tara Fairfield

Ms. Fairfield gives us an interesting YA Christian fantasy– under the sea.  Tessa’s life changes when she is taken to this new world. She accepts this all easily, and only wants to reassure her family she is OK. There are interactions with sharks, squid, dolphins, sea lion, sea horses and more. There is, also, Hawaiian lore and language which add depth to the story. Descriptions take the reader into the story along with the budding new relationships, as Tessa grows and learns

CHILDREN:

Suzy Has A Secret

by S. Jackson and  A. Raymond

“Suzy Has A Secret” deals with a subject that we (as parents, grandparents and caretakers) do not like to think about—but we must.  The subject matter is about inappropriate touching of children by trusted adults. The text is handled delicately and assures the child it is safe to speak up. The pictures are cute and welcoming making it feel like any other children’s book. “Suzy Has A Secret” is a book you can sit with a young child and read about a threatening situation, in a non-threatening manner. It will open the door for more communication. I like the note to the adults after the story with more detailed information. I highly recommend this for those with young children. Although, I purchased this for my Kindle, I’m adding the paperback to my book collection– for my grand-kids.

 Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday (Book Seven of Shadow and Friends Series 7) 
by S Jackson, A Raymond, M Schmidt

This is a book that you can read with your child – and both enjoy it. I first read it alone and found I enjoyed learning about Ellsworth’s history. Then, I read it to my seven-year-old granddaughter. She loved the animal illustrations and the party they threw to celebrate the town’s birthday. She particularly liked the dog illustrations, but laughed out loud at the squirrel at the end. “Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday” is educational and entertaining. My granddaughter and I appreciated the history, story and animals. Although, I have the Kindle copy, I’m going to add the paperback to my grandchildren’s book collection. I recommend this book.

The Big Cheese Festival

by S. Jackson, A. Raymond​

“The Big Cheese Festival” is a sweet children’s book–with a lesson to teach. Stubby Mouse has a smaller tail than the other mice. He’s excited about attending a dance with his friends, but his brother’s friend makes fun of his tail size. Although, his brother defends him, Stubby feels like no one likes him. Enter a new friend, and Stubbys’s response to the bully. It’s filled with charming illustrations that make it come to life. “The Big Cheese Festival” is a book I’ll be reading to my grandchildren – the old-fashioned way – with the paperback in hand. It is a subject that needs to be brought up to children. This book is a way to do it and get the conversation going about bullying!​

Mr. Grumpy Lizard meets the Giggling Girls

by Joyce Shaughnessy​

I love the fact “Mr. Grumpy Lizard Meets the Giggling Girls” was inspired by the author’s four granddaughters, and illustrated by her husband—it was a family effort. Great details of the characters which included: Mr. Grumpy Lizard’s “black and white polka-dot bow tie”, and his monocle – or Little Miss Hattie Human whose “frilly pink dress flew up almost over her head, showing a great many pink and white lacy petticoats.” brought this story to life. It is an endearing story of Queen Craggy Crocodile summoning the four giggling human girls to tea– via Mr. Grumpy Lizard. They quickly accepted. Soon, they left to find out what was behind the request. Ms. Shaughnessy wrote a wonderful children’s book that promotes happiness and joy. This is a book I will enjoy reading to my own grandchildren!

Sammy Meets Grandma ( Sammy the dog book 3)

by Lynn Miclea​

“Sammy Meets Grandma” is a sweet tale, told through a rescue dog named Sammy’s point of view. It is a short chapter book with black and white illustrations that bring Sammy to life. I loved seeing a car ride through the innocence of a dog. I always thought dogs believed slobbering on the windows looked good—Sammy confirmed that! The end of this drive was a visit to see Grandma. Sammy’s intention was always to do good and bring joy. Although, like the car windows, opinions of what brings happiness—varies sometimes. The most important thing in this book is the happiness this dog brings to people who need it. How simply sitting next to someone is all they need. I was touched how much a dog’s visit can uplift someone’s day. Ms. Miclea wrote a book that I will be sharing with my grandchildren. I can read it to them or it is a book they can read to themselves. It’s a feel-good book with an important message of kindness and love for kids, but adults can appreciate that, too!​

Flame and Hope: An African Adventure (Fauna Park Tales Book 1) 

by Maretha Botha​

Flame and Hope is a children’s book set in South Africa. Ms. Botha tells this story through Flame the dog and Hope the bird’s prospective. Although it is intended for children, (and I will be buying a book for my grandchildren) adults can enjoy it, too. It is a world seen through animal’s eyes. I was struck by their commitment to get along, follow rules, honor their word, and take care of each other. There are beautiful illustrations throughout and descriptions of the landscape. It is deep and thoughtful with the realities of life, but there is hope, too. I look forward to reading more from this author and other books in this series.​

Hieroglyph (TC’s Adventures Book 1)

WJ Scott​

“Hieroglyph” is an award-winning action-filled YA book and I can see why. Thirteen-year-old T.C. flawlessly takes us between modern Australia and Ancient Egypt with her special talent. Both ongoing stories are compelling. The attention to detail, imagery, and history make this a very special story. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Scott’s books, especially the next book in this series! I highly recommend!​

The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman

by Robin Gregory​

Although the book title hasn’t been easy for me to remember, “The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman”, I won’t forget this incredible story anytime soon. The characters were beautifully written and I grew to love Moojie Littleman more with each page I read. The use of metaphors was unique as well as the beautifully written prose. This tale was set in the past, but it had a new age wisdom that worked well with an unwilling hero who had so many things working against him from the day he was born. I am usually in a hurry when reading to see what happens next. This story, though, had me slowing down to re-read what I just read and appreciate it. I recommend this well-written, magical, coming of age book– not only for children, but adults, too!​

The Cat who wanted a Dog

by Micki Peluso​

This is a children’s book based on a true story about a cat named Toby. What is unique about this book is you can color in it, too–so it is worth buying in print form just for that. I got this to read to my grandchildren ages ranging from: eight to one and a half years old. I sat down individually with each of them starting with my six-year-old granddaughter, who is just starting to read and loves cats and dogs. This was the perfect story for her, plus the bonus she could color in it after! She had the crayons out the minute we finished reading. Everyone else got to enjoy her coloring, including her eight-year-old brother. He listened quietly and asked a lot of questions about the animals. He was very engaged in the tale of Toby. Although, he passed on the coloring portion he liked the story. The youngest, at one in a half, could not sit through the story, but was more than ready to color and loved the pictures of the cat and dog. She is usually being told not to color in books, so a nice addition for her! What an endearing story, that we could all relate to no matter what our age! I will be reading this many times to my grand-kids, and it will be a little different each time as the coloring continues.​

Walker the Goose: The Search for a Family

Suzanne Blumer​

This is a heartwarming tale for young children based on a real goose. I bought it to read to my grand-kids who range in ages from: eight to one in a half years old. The six-year-old, who is just starting to read, sat quietly through the whole story. She was completely engaged in the beautiful artwork and the rhyming words weaved into the story. She was pleased with the outcome of the story. The eight-year-old (who can read and I wasn’t sure if he would be “too old” for it) insisted I read it to him. He declared at the end how much he liked it. The youngest grandchild loved the pictures, but was too young to sit through the story. It is a book I will be pulling out to read to them again. This was enthusiastically given approval by not only the children, but grandma, too. Beautifully done!

Wizard of Dreams

by Robin Chambers

I didn’t know what to expect when I first started reading “Wizard of Dreams”.  I thought it might be another typical children’s fantasy, but boy was I wrong! Half way through the book I found myself completely drawn into the story– to the point I didn’t want to put it down! The story line focuses on a young boy, Gordon and his “Imaginary” friend, Zack. From a typical school day where Gordon finds ways to calm the class bully, to wild adventures in his dreams, this book combines whimsical fantasy with some rather harsh realities of life. I love how Mr. Chambers blends together history, magic, and reality to create an incredible story. I can’t wait to see what is next for Gordon and his side kick, Zack. I highly recommend this book for not only children, but adults too.