INDIE BOOKS I’VE READ AND REVIEWED–THAT EARNED 4 OR 5 STARS!
“Books That Changed Me”
Short Stories and Short Story Books
“BOOKS THAT CHANGED ME”
(Listed in no special order)
2019 FALL EDITION COMING SOON!
2019 SUMMER EDITION:
There is a Reaper By Michael Lynes
2019 SPRING EDITION:
2018 WINTER EDITION:
Jazz Baby By Beem Weeks
A Thousand Yesteryears (Point Pleasant) by Mae Clair
Hexborn (The Hexborn Chronicles Book 1) by A.M. Manay
Letting Go into Perfect Love, Discovering the Extraordinary After Abuse by Gwendolyn M. Plano
ADULT FICTION 4-5 star reviews:
This is an interesting book of Igbo Mythology that follows a young boy, Osondu and his mother, Gloria, after death. There are different journeys and lessons they learn in the afterlife. The first part focuses more on the son and the second part of the story his mother as they interact with other souls and gods along the way. I found it easier to connect with the mother’s journey than Osondu. I especially loved the places Gloria’s adventures took her to. Some parts left me thinking and wondering about our souls and my own beliefs about what is coming. I found it fascinating reading this perspective from Nigerian Igbo Myths and appreciated all the details that went into it. If you are a fan of myths and legends, you should enjoy this.
by Sandra Cox
When Brandon hired a new trail hand to help herd the Longhorns to market, no one knew it was a woman. I loved the characters and relationships. They were well developed and progressed at a natural rate. The fatherly role of Cookie, Brandon, and Alexandria/Alex or the friendships Alex developed were my favorites. The mystery of why Alex was in this situation kept me intrigued, and there were a few twists I didn’t expect because of that. The setting was detailed and beautifully described. I could imagine being back on the Chisholm Trail or Brandon’s ranch in Texas. My love of animals appreciated Alex’s devotion to her horse, dog, and cattle. I adored this romantic western adventure and highly recommend it!
I don’t usually pick middle-east military stories, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. What I found was a very detailed history of the Kurds that included Turkey, Syria, and Iraqi. Many POVs gave a complete picture of all the sides, which I appreciated, but it was a lot to keep track of, too. Getting into the heads of the Kurds in the characters Ismet, Dersim, and Hawre to see their side of things was fascinating and what I liked best in the story. When the Kurds found the twenty-year-old chemical weapons and their decision what to do next made sense–from their perspective and history. Then a secret special operative team was sent into three countries to find these weapons before they were used. I was happy with the conclusion of the book. It was an interesting and sometimes eye-opening read, that gave a lot of information to the reader.
by S Cox
This is the second western romance I’ve read by Ms. Cox. I loved “SilverHills” and had high expectations for this story. I was not disappointed and found it hard to put down. Ben avoided all attachments except for his eagle. But on his way to Mexico, he rescues Kate and ends up at her family’s ranch as a hand. He only agrees to stay a month but starts to find himself caring about this family and the ranch. The characters had my heart immediately. Kate’s strength and Ben’s honesty was a good blend, and I started rooting for them right away. Kate’s Uncle John T was a man of principles that ran his ranch and house fairly, while Kate’s friendship with Sarah was endearing. I appreciated Ben and his eagle’s connection. There was plenty of action with cattle rustlers and Kate’s friend was in a bad situation. The descriptions were stunning and put me right on this Texas ranch. I highly recommend this if you love a good western romance!
by Wendy Scott
This was set in ancient Egypt, but it reminded me of ancient Rome, too. A young girl Kalli was taken from her family for a test all girls go through once they reach puberty. Her life changed in horrible ways from that point. It was a cruel and brutal world she found herself a part of that forced strength from her. While I bonded and rooted for Kalli, there were other storylines giving a complete picture of her situation. After an animal was killed in the beginning, I almost put the story down. I didn’t though because it already invested me in it. My first thought was that person who did that needed to pay for that cruelty. I felt a lot of emotions reading this, which speaks well for Ms. Scott’s ability to tap into that. This is a full story that dives deeply into the dark side of humanity with betrayal, greed, power, slavery, and privilege. I will be reading the next installment to see what happens to Kalli next.
BY SANDRA COX
I read “Shardai (Cats of Catarau #1)” and loved it. So, I had very high expectations for this story and wasn’t disappointed! Makita died and was in a beautiful place but insisted on using a life to go back to her best friend, Bennie, the dog. He needed her was her only thought. I’m a huge fan of animals, especially cats, and Ms. Cox has a way of getting into a cat’s mind that makes me believe and root for them. A darker subject was introduced into this tale, a Pit Bull fighting-ring. My heart broke, thinking of all the pain and suffering these animals go through for greed and profit. Luckily the sadness balances out with the ingenuity of the animals, along with trust, and loyalty. It was a heartwarming story of a cat and her devotion to her animal family. If you love animals, especially cats and dogs, this novel is for you.
by Harmony Ken
“Fallout” is a post-apocalyptic story that left me thinking and then rethinking again. Set in space where humans settle after the earth becomes uninhabitable, a virus is released changing their way of life. My favorite character, Priya is alone and brutally attacked. Her strength and relationships with the other characters had me rooting for her, and I loved the pet she acquired. Told through several POVs, the reader gets a full picture of a complicated situation that I enjoyed. The characters are flawed and realistic. It surprised me how many times there was a new twist I wasn’t expecting. This is a glimpse into the human condition where power, lies, and manipulation have taken over society. Ms. Kent skillfully gives us a dark peek into a possible future in the hands of a cruel leader. This is a great science fiction read that I recommend.
I’ve never read a novel set 850,000 years ago. The details and obvious research were amazing, as was the story. Xhosa is a strong female in times when males rule the tribes. I loved her character and how she looked at the world through her senses, instinct, and duty. It repulsed me when they ate their kill without cooking it, but I had to remember they didn’t have control of fire yet. Ms. Murray takes the reader deep into that period, where I could easily imagine how it might have been living then. I was rooting for Xhosa and her tribe as they tried to survive other tribe’s attacks and nature. I loved the relationships that developed as they met up with others fleeing the same situation. I’m completely hooked on this moment in history and storyline. I will definitely read the rest of this series and highly recommend it.
I loved the first book, “The Contract” and was eagerly awaiting “The Choice.” The story continued where the first book left off with action, conspiracy, and romance weaved in just as skillfully. The characters are believable, and I found myself rooting for budding relationships. The theme of love winning over everything and personal sacrifice for the good of many balanced out the fear of greed and power. The details of life on a base added layers to the story, not only increased my knowledge but an appreciation of the research. Although it unnerved me how this plot could become a reality in the current political situation, it left me with hope, too. I recommend this well-written book but start with “The Contract” first, so you don’t miss out on anything! I look forward to the third installment.
“Soul Swallowers” follows Raze Anvrell who turns his back on his family and title after his commoner wife was murdered. He finds some peace working alongside a man who befriends him. But around Raze is political plotting, arranged marriages, slave trading, religious beliefs, and a witch. While I was captivated with Raze’s journey, I loved both Bel and Nellea’s stories. I connected with them both immediately and was rooting for their outcome. A unique aspect of this story was the swallowing of a soul stone or bringing a deceased person’s soul into your body. Having another person’s urges come out, such as fighting skills, empathy or cruelty, and blending that with their personality was fascinating. This is a well-written fantasy that’s infused with poetic descriptions, believable characters, and plenty of action. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series!
By S. Burke
“Whatever it Takes” has mystery, romance, death, Hollywood, and a cruel serial killer, which, when all put together creates an engaging read! Andi needs a change and leaves her police career in New York to work in LA for the actor, James Kincaid to investigate the death of his wife. I immediately saw a connection between them and loved it. Their working relationship felt very natural, and I enjoyed the obvious attraction they had for each other, even though they didn’t act on it. Andi’s relationships with James’ driver, personal assistant, and accountant, with their stories, brought an extra depth–along with mystery and darkness. Andi’s search uncovered so much more than an accident. It was great being able to see the evidence unfold and guide Andi down an unexpected path, surprisingly connecting LA and New York. This insight of being thrust into the life of the rich and famous met with the grit of a New York cop was the perfect fit. Ms. Burke is skilled in getting into the heads of her characters and pulling readers quickly into their world. This is a well-written exciting, suspenseful thriller that will keep you up reading late into the night. I highly recommend it.
by D.L. Cross
I’ve been looking forward to this release and was impressed from the first page. “The Gate” is the beginning of the Astral Conspiracy Series, and I found it was like reading a movie it was so vivid. The characters felt very real including my favorite, Landon Thorne. He had theories others made fun of until they realized he was right. I connected with him staying true to himself and not allowing others to force change. With so much action and urgency in the story, it was hard to put down. I found myself saying more than once: “They don’t have time for this!” There was plenty of history and research mixed into the story that added another level of intrigue. Ancient Alien Theories fascinate me, so I was thrilled to find an exciting story with that woven into it. I highly recommend this well-written book, especially if you love aliens, the what-if scenario, action, history, theories, and characters you can grow to love–and hate!
by Mary Adler
This is the second novel in the Oliver Wright Series set during World War ll in the Bay Area. I loved the first book, but I think I was drawn even deeper into this story. It’s 1944 and Oliver is tasked to protect a Polish speaker, Sophia. I liked the interaction between these two characters even though Sophia didn’t want Oliver as a bodyguard. As in the first book, I loved the relationship between Oliver with his dog, Harley, who had served in the war, too. Within that storyline is another narrative about a young girl trying to assist a friend’s dog Blue. I enjoyed seeing the world through Blue the dog’s perception and his devotion to the young girl helping him. This is not only a well-written story but well researched. I appreciated the attention to details and history that Ms. Adler infused into the story. What happened in Poland during the war is hard to accept and painfully real. It kept me awake late into the night thinking about human cruelty, apathy, and the brave heroes mixed in. “Shadowed by Death” can be read as a stand-alone or as a series. I highly recommend this book especially if you love mystery, suspense, action, history, and of course dogs.
by Sandra Cox
Shardai is a regal cat that ended up in the afterlife. He desperately wanted to get back to his human. This is a beautiful story of his rebirth as a feral kitten and journey. I fell in love with Shardai and was completely pulled into his world through his new, and old eyes. There were some heartbreaking moments, humor, and bravery. I was rooting for this cat and his new family. It’s a well-written page-turner that didn’t let up. I admit this had me teary-eyed at the end. If you love cats, you’ll appreciate this heartwarming story that can be for children or adults! I look forward to reading the rest of this series
by Staci Troilo
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Medici Series. “Tortured Soul” is the finale, and I was sad to see it come to an end. This book’s focus was on the final Brother, Coz, and Notaro sister, Toni, and their connection. The relationship felt very real with their baggage, especially Toni’s self-image issues. Watching the couple navigate from what was expected of them, to what they felt was intriguing. I enjoyed Coz’s development as his unique power revealed itself. The history and Italian culture mixed in with the action and romance made it hard to put down. This is a well-written steamy romantic-adventure that I suggest you read from the beginning, to fully enjoy the outcome. I highly recommend this book and series. I look forward to more from this author.
by Staci Troilo
The Medici Series continues with the focus on one of the brothers, Nico, and, Donni, a Notaro sister that the brothers are assigned to protect. I loved Nico’s inner struggle throughout the story especially when it came to Donni. Nico is the brother’s computer genius and more in his head than the others. The very question as to what was real or magic and his own will was intriguing. It was the perfect match for Donni and her willingness to go after what she wanted. The small details when the group ate or relaxed added another dimension to the story and wove the Italian culture throughout. This is a well-written exciting thriller and steamy romance. I’m heading off to read the final book and can’t wait to see how it all ends!
This is a historical fiction book based on the epic poem “The Song of Roland.” I read this poem in my literature class in college, so I knew the time frame and some of the history surrounding it, which helped me dive right in. Although I’m not a huge fan of war and battles, this story had my attention from the first chapter. It is well-written, and the attention to detail and history was outstanding. There’s plenty of power grabbing, gory battles, love, betrayal, murder, and honor. “The Silver Horn Echoes” is not my normal genre to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you love history, knights, war, political/religious intrigue, and bravery, you’ll enjoy this tale.
by Staci Troilo
This is the second book in the “Medici Protectorate” Series. It continues the story of the brothers whose job it is to protect the bloodline of the Medici family or the Notaro sisters. The focus in “Mind Control” is on Vinnie and Jo and the secrets they both have. Drawn to each other they let their fears get in the way, which only adds to their attraction. Their past keeps them from trusting and in Jo’s case makes her want to run away. I found myself rooting for them to get past themselves. With the enemy one step behind the group, Vinnie and Jo’s steamy romance takes over the story. There were some surprises I wasn’t expecting, which I always appreciate. I loved the Italian culture infused into the storyline along with the magic, family, relationships, betrayal and coming to terms with the past. I’m enjoying this series and can’t wait to read the next book. If you love a steamy romance, adventure, history, strong characters, and family, you’ll love this series, but start with book one and take the whole journey.
By A. M. Manay
“Unclean” is the second installment of the “Hexborn Chronicles,” and the storyline continues where the first book left off. I’ve come to adore the new relationship between Shiloh and Silas. I was sad they were apart, thanks to greed, corruption, power and some bad decisions. This left Shiloh finding her inner leader as she takes care of the people falling sick. Then things go from bad to worse, and Shiloh develops new friendships. Her determination pulled me further into this intriguing story that’s filled with magic, royalty, family, loyalty, and deception. Shiloh gains more knowledge of not only herself but how to maneuver within a bleak situation.
This is a well-written, fast-paced adventure with enough twists, making it hard to put down. Shiloh is at the heart of this tale and has quickly become one of my favorite characters with her strength and sense of justice, even though she is one of the “unclean.” Like I said about the first book, I’m captivated with the magical girl who has pink hair and eyes. Although this can be a stand-alone, I’d start with “Hexborn.” You don’t want to miss any of this tale. I highly recommend this YA book for all ages.
by Stephen Geez
A simple trip to an art gallery and a pen drawing changes the lives of Geoffrey and Phrekka. A friendship ensues over a picture of a young boy. Then an amazing journey begins to find the artist, Sara. What these two people discover is more than just an artist, it is also a journey of finding themselves, too. I loved the inner dialog and insecurities that made both characters incredibly real to me. The story was tender and painful as it unfolded. I was utterly taken in by the complicated relationships and spellbound as each detail was revealed. It is a unique story of love with some cruel realities of life thrown in. Beautifully written, this is a story I will remember.
by C.S. Boyack
I’ve read other stories and books by this author and have always been impressed by them. When I saw Mr. Boyack had a new book with pirates and magic, I couldn’t wait to read it. I was not disappointed. It’s full of adventure, magic, excitement, friendship, love, family and the best part the root monsters. The Lanternfish is a ship I’d want to sail on and carries people I’d like to get to know. I loved the pirates, the monsters and their relationships, but the captain’s quest to save the woman he loved had me hooked. This is a world I’d like to visit where I could meet root monsters. I highly recommend this high-seas fantasy.
This is the fourth book in the Four-Seasons Series and conclusion of the grid collapse. Robbie and Ronnie nobly set out to bring a united government back to the people of southern Texas. Both leave behind women and family they love, while they meet with new people from other areas /towns. I love the idea of trying to bring everyone together, instead of working against each other. One of the brothers is forced to carry this quest on alone. This part was truly heartbreaking, but also courageous, too. Relationships are tested, new ones forged, and signs of civilization emerge. Although it was sad to say goodbye to the people of Pleasant Valley, I found this an engaging read that made me wonder what if all the comforts were removed from my life and what would that future look like? Mr. Landgraf offered a very realistic view of that future. I recommend this series for those who enjoy an end of world scenarios, romance, family, survival skills and human nature.
by Mae Clair
Having read and loved “Cusp of Night” I’ve been waiting for the second book of the Hode Hill series. I enjoyed this book as much, if not more than the first one. The budding relationship between Jillian, a reclusive empath, and Dante, the wealthy artist who does seances, was the perfect fit. Several stories were going on and told from two different timelines. It was an ideal balance between now and then. Learning about Gabriel in 1799 and how it affects Jillian and the town now, made it hard to put the book down. As sweet as some of the relationships were, many parts were terrifying. Ms. Clair gave the reader a close-up look at human fear, greed, and cruelty. This beautifully-written paranormal thriller has it all including a powerful emerald, deadly church bells, murder, therapy dogs, grave robbing, monsters, relationships, love, and truth. I highly recommend this book and author!
“Atonement in Bloom” is the second book in the Atonement series and begins where “Atonement, Tennessee” left off. Ralda Lawton is settling into her new home, has friends and found supernatural beings, too. I loved the narrative going between Ralda and Lilith her cat. I appreciated seeing Atonement through the cat’s eyes. I’d like to think my cats are as observant as this calico. With Faes, glowing pigs, and failed magic mixed with mystery, a small town, a sudden appearing house, and a kidnapping–it was a hard story to put down. The relationship between Ralda and Bethany is endearing. They retained their memories from the first book, while others didn’t. Then help came from an unexpected ally, which added a new dynamic to their relationship. I loved the Tea Room where Ralda and her friends met. I could picture myself having a cup of tea there easily. This is an imaginative, fun read that I highly recommend, but I’d start with “Atonement, Tennessee” first if you haven’t read it, so you don’t miss anything.
If You Love Me, I’m Yours
This was a fun and lighthearted story about a girl named Maud stuck in a sensible life. She’s a teacher who loves to paint. Only her best friend Daisy backs her talent, not her sensible parents. This leads Maud to an art gallery opening after Daisy submits her painting. The night changes her life and leads her to a new friendship with Dot and a new love interest. I love the relationship she develops with Dot. It is changing as they both change within it. She also finds herself with two love interests and a few surprises along the way. The book’s title is how Maud expresses her talent by leaving gifts of her work for others to enjoy, which made me smile. It was fun being immersed into the world of art. I recommend this story especially if you like a good love story with friendship and self-growth mixed in–I know I enjoyed it.
Son of the Serpent (Fantasy Angels Series Book 2)
“Son of the Serpent” continues the Fantasy Angels Series with the son of Satan and Lilith, Dracul. I loved the first book and wasn’t disappointed in this story, in fact I think I enjoyed it even more. Familiar biblical people and events were interwoven into the story line perfectly. It’s told through two points of view: Dracul and Lilith. I sympathized with Dracul and his quest to be good and helpful, while coming from evil. Self-centered Lilith relished being cruel and malicious, while originating from good. It was a good balance of both sides. Familiar characters from the first book made appearances which I appreciated. The descriptions were vivid and well-written adding to the reality of Dracul’s journey. I highly recommend this book. Although you could read this as a stand-alone, I wouldn’t. Go back and enjoy this dark tale from the beginning.
by Teagan Geneivene
Ralda Lawton decides to start a new life. She places a low bid on a house that comes with its own cemetery and wins. She relocates into the small town and immediately meets her neighbors. The relationship she develops with her new friends, Lacy, Racine and Bethany remind me of some of my own friends. Then there is the two good-looking mysterious men she runs into Gwydion and Cael. Both hold her interest, curiosity and trigger her inner warning. My favorite character is Lilith her calico cat. I enjoy her POV throughout the story and insights into the humans and the non-humans. I love the magic, mystery, relationships, paranormal, a hint of romance and karma in this uniquely well-written story. I can’t wait to read the second book in this series and see what happens next in Atonement.
“Second Chance” is a story of anger, an accident, and the outcome of that. Guilt and having to go on is Chaun’s life now after a car accident but, strange things begin to happen around him. While his family deliberated on this strange situation, I found myself rooting for a good outcome to the circumstances that would have had me running for the hills. This book offers a new chance at life, along with the paranormal that is determined to ruin that. There is also relationships, family and forgiveness. The story had a very journal-like feel to it and I was surprised how long the family took to get to that aha-moment, but it was a unique tale with a refreshing result I didn’t see coming. As a bonus there was a hockey game included and I’m a big fan. This story is a reminder to “think before you speak” because in life you never know how fast things can change.
By Ronald Yates
In this final book “The Lost Years of Billy Battles” the story continues with Billy and his wife Katharina living in Chicago. It seemed like Billy had found some peace and happiness. But, that all changed when Billy and Katharina went to help out an old friend. I love the history incorporated into the story. I knew very little about this Mexican revolution, so that really held my interest. The relationship between Katharina and Billy is well done and I couldn’t help but root for them. I could easily picture each place the characters went and appreciated the time-period. I thoroughly enjoyed all three books and was sad to see the story come to an end. I will be looking for more from this author. I highly recommend this series especially if you like history and action combined.
This is a horror tale told from the past and modern times, with a bit of everything including: witches, hauntings, demons, romance, and mystery. I enjoyed the two timelines of the same town that met up at the end. There was the progression from when the town was formed by three families in one prospective. In the current timeline was Jess, a widow, and her two children who were new to this town. She buys a house where strange things begin to happen. In another point of view in the current timeline is Mason newly released from jail who grew up in the house Jess bought. Mr. Jones goes back and forth between the past and 2017 adding new information to explain the current events. I found the story line well thought out and interesting. The demon/beast was terrifying to me and nothing I’d want to ever run into. There were a couple of little editing issues that jarred me a moment when I was reading, but nothing that kept me from wanting to continue with this intriguing tale. I thought of “The Exorcist”, “Poltergeist” and other scary tales as I was reading. If you like a good scare with the history behind it, this book has it and more.
by Harmony Kent
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King so I couldn’t wait to read this after seeing the comparison. Although, “Pet Cemetery” isn’t one of my favorite Stephen King books, “The Glade” didn’t have in it what I disliked in Mr. King’s book but instead had the intrigue I did like. Helen and Geoff Wenstrop spent a holiday in a small village. They found some property, and against warnings not to purchase it, they did and built a house. Helen later goes there to die from cancer, but mysteriously recovers. I found myself reading late into the night to find out how Helen got to the point she did. I liked the story being told from two different time lines and eagerly awaited the moment they converged. The relationship between husband and wife was strained and a bit confusing–as were some of the other relationships. The landscape was its own character and added to the story. At times I found myself struggling to have much empathy for Helen and her decisions. But, there were many plot twists that I didn’t see coming after that. When the two story lines did meet up, I had many aha moments that changed my perspective of Helen and other characters while clearing the confusion. “The Glade” is a unique horror tale. I recommend this creepy story to those who love horror presented in a King-like fashion, with a bit of a romance thrown in.
By Michael Lynes
This is a fantasy about a young Greek demi-god Devcalion “Dev” and his sword, and closest friend, the Betrayer “Tray”. Although his father is Prometheus and uncle is Zeus, it starts out with Dev doing a normal human activity climbing half-dome, with his telepathic sword after several months of hiking. Dev runs into a relative during a fall, Hermes, who has a warning for him. This message changes Dev’s carefree life and leads him back to Mt. Olympus—or a place he hates. Here things happen quickly that could throw him into a task with someone he’d rather avoid. The characters pulled me into the story. I really enjoyed the relationship between Dev and Tray including their inner communications and battles. There were a lot of details, so you could easily imagine his god-filled world. I don’t want to give away any of the surprises in the story, but some of the descriptions had me wanting to take a long shower after reading them. This is a well-written story of a complicated relationship between not only a young man and his father and uncle, but someone who considers himself an outsider. Dev had to learn what he, and others, were capable of, besides learning what was important to him. If you love fantasy with lots of intrigue and plenty of action this is the book for you. I eagerly await the second book in this series.
By Mark Bierman
I knew the topic going into reading this fictional book: child trafficking. Mr. Bierman shows the reader the process, including how children are kidnapped from their families–or the worst when their families sell them into slavery. The poverty and greed that uses children…I have a hard time absorbing that and worried this would be a hard read for me, but it wasn’t. The storyline centers on two American men doing missionary work in Haiti. A young girl is kidnapped, and they start on a journey to find her. The story’s told through different characters, which held my interest as they became interwoven. The action is non-stop and I had a hard time putting it down. I was fully invested in the characters and had a range of emotions from joy to sadness. This is a book that can make you think about an unpleasant subject, while being a good fictional story that entertains. I can easily recommend “Vanished” especially if you love action and the depth of a thought-provoking subject put together.
by Mae Clair
“Cusp of Night” is a suspenseful story that has two timelines blending together beautifully. Maya moves to Hode Hill and sees a man attacked by what she believes is a monster, and at home she experiences strange events at 2:22 am. While all of this is taking place in modern times, the other timeline, set in the late 1800’s, explains the life of Lucinda who was born with blue skin. I love all the details Ms. Clair adds that enhance the story-line and characters including: the history of mediums and people with blue skin–which I’ve never heard of before. I’m already a fan of Ms. Clair and expected a lot from this book…I wasn’t disappointed. This is a stand-alone read, but I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series. A must-read for paranormal/thriller fans.
“The Master and the Maid” is a historical fiction novel set in Germany in the 1600s. I was impressed with the research and the amount of details Ms. Libricz had in the story. I remember nothing of the thirty-year war, but I do remember the battle between the Catholics and Protestants. Greed and power is a theme that makes certain characters, like Ralf, do horrible things. This includes murder, land grabbing and accusing the main character, Katarina of being a witch. There’s a love story mixed in, but there is also the existence of a baby whose mother was brutally killed. Katarina is secretly handed this baby right after being betrayed by her lover, Willie, who sold her to pay off his debts to Herr Tucher. With Katarina just wanting to go home, she finds a new love blooming between her and her master. That relationship and the one with her adopted daughter are my favorite parts of the story. But, there is so much going on around them that surviving becomes more important. The ending answered some questions, but it also left many others unanswered for the next book–which I will be reading.
By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano
“The Contract Between Heaven and Earth” is an action-packed thriller with a deeply spiritual side. The story starts off with a horrific event that involves children, but they were taken to a place of safety and peace–or Heaven. Watching them arrive are Peter and Teresa who share a special love. Then, an alert is sounded and soon the couple is sent to Earth with a contract to save humanity. They go into this agreement with no memory of who they were before becoming a human. Theresa is now Sarah in a bad domestic situation and surrounded by unsavory characters. Peter becomes Brad who finds himself in a war zone and on a long path to recovery. I love the strength of both characters and how they dealt with their new lives. Individually they were strong, but I love when they meet up through outside forces– and are immediately drawn to each other. This is a story that not only entertains and is exciting, but it also makes you think about coincidences. If you love a book with a lot of action, intrigue, a bit of romance, and thought provoking– this is the book for you. It is a perfect blend of insight and excitement that I highly recommend!
“Dog Bone Soup” is a story told through a boy’s eyes as he grows up in a desperately poor family in the 50’s with an abusive-alcoholic father. Shawn spends time surviving and taking care of his family’s needs, as well as finding time to enjoy life with his brother. I wondered what dog bone soup was and quickly found out it came from Shawn having to get dog bones at the butcher, so his family could eat. Ms. Stevens’ descriptions of the era really pulled me into the story. I loved the relationship between Shawn and his younger brother Willie and the creative ways they found to supply the family with food. It was sad how people treated them and the pride the family had–that ended up hurting them at times. Using an outhouse and having to bring water in each day when everyone else had indoor plumbing was made worse when the father made sure he had electricity for his TV. This was one of many examples of what four children had to endure from a selfish father and a mother struggling to care for her family. A beautifully written coming of age story that I can highly recommend!
by M.A. Adler
“In the Shadow of Lies” is an historical fiction set in the 1940s during World War ll. I loved all the carefully explored details that were weaved into the story–and it being set where I grew up was a bonus. I knew some of the information, but I learned a lot, too. Ms. Adler’s well-crafted writing easily got across the beliefs of those times. I was sad and disgusted how humans treated each other and unfortunately, some of those issues still linger. The characters were well-written and believable, and there were many story-lines going on, which was a bit confusing to keep track of–but not impossible. I normally would take a star off for any confusion, but the research, intriguing story-line, and thought-provoking emotions, brought it back up to a five star for me. I look forward to more from this author!
By Rhani D’Chae
“Shadow of the Drill” is a story that contains killers, strip clubs, sex, prostitution, torture and rapists. All the characters are bad, but well-written. I found myself wondering if I could find empathy in the main characters: Decker, Rudy and Charlene. As cruel as they were, and as brutal as their actions were, I quickly realized–yes, I could. I was invested in Decker’s relationship with Charlene and her strength to stay by his side fighting to be an equal. Rudy’s long-time friendship and loyalty to Decker was also explored with insight into their past and what event held them together. There were some parts that were so ruthless I had a hard time reading them, but at the same time they were completely honest for these characters. Even with the violence and dark story-line this was a book I couldn’t put down. If you love action with the reality of damaged human beings, this is a story for you.
“Ninja School Mum” is about a widowed mother named Skye who has been on the run for years to keep her son safe from her past. As an ex-spy she needed to keep her former life to herself. She ends up living in a quaint small town in an isolated cottage with her son. I found it interesting to learn her history and why she stayed separate from others yet making sure her son developed friendships. The relationships between adults and children were well-done, including Skye’s new friendship with Thea and her unexpected love interest, Zack. It seemed like she might have finally found a place for her son to grow up. What I expected to happen in this story and what did, were completely different when a twist offered a new insight. I love when a story surprises me, and this one did. If you enjoy a romance with humor, action, a strong female character, and surprises–you’ll love this book!
This paranormal story is the first book of a series and starts off in a small town in Florida with an invitation to a mysterious party. Linda has moved to Oasis, bought a book store, and started a new life. She goes to this party at End House with a group of friends. They didn’t find a party but a horror house where two of their friends go missing. The group is determined to find their friends and figure out what is going on in a town where people disappear or turn up dead with their blood drained. They find there’s a fight between good and evil, Linda and Shana have a hard time telling who is on which side or who is a vampire. I liked the developing relationships with Shana and Sam, Linda and Todd and others. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and I got a bit lost with some, especially in the beginning. But, I also got to know most of them as the story line progressed and secrets were revealed. The story is told through many points of view and moves forward at a good pace. I loved how the moody descriptions of the town added to the ambience of the book. If you enjoy vampire stories, you’ll like this book!
By Marcha A Fox
I jumped right into the seventh book of the Star Trails Tetralogy series and hoped I wouldn’t be completely lost not having read the previous books—I wasn’t! What I found was an amazingly well-written science fiction story set in the 1970’s with my new favorite character: Thyron the highly intelligent plant. I was immediately drawn into the story with the spaceship ending up on earth while a plant was hiding from authorities. Soon, the ships passengers: a young human girl, a robot, and Thyron ended up “contained” in area 51. An astrobiologist Gabe, is called in to help with the plant-life. Gabe soon finds out his sensitivity, helps him communicate with Thyron. This was my favorite part of the book. It was insightful and humorous with the relationship between human and plant. There’s also a lot of depth and research that makes this a fascinating journey with aliens, humans, plants and robots. The ending fueled my imagination. I’ll be reading the rest of this series and hope to explore and learn more about Thyron and friends! I highly recommend this book!
“Circumstances of Childhood” is written in the unique style of Mr. Howell and was a book that kept me up late into the night reading! Greg and Keith are childhood friends and Greg ends up living with Keith’s family. They play football together creating new plays and plan out their future. Unfortunately, only one of them make it to live those dreams. When one of them is killed in an accident, the other one goes on to be successful–with a happily ever after. But, that happy ending is ripped away when money is stolen from Greg’s company and his life falls apart. Parts of the storyline are told from Greg’s prospective and the rest by Keith. I loved the bond created between the two, who were like brothers, that existed beyond death. Choices that are made can affect the characters for the rest of eternity. This is a perceptive and an exciting read with a whodunit mixed in. It’s a skillfully written story with well-rounded characters that I couldn’t help but care about. The storyline kept me engaged until the last page with some unexpected twists. Although, this is a different type of story than Mr. Howell’s John Canon series, it is worthy of your read if you enjoyed that series like I did. This has become my favorite book from this author. I highly recommend!
This is the second book of the “Finding Billy Battles” trilogy and begins where “An Account of Peril, Transgression, and Redemption” left off. While the first book centered on the wild west, this book opens with Billy taking a trip to the far east after his beloved wife dies. The journey on the SS China is one of my favorite parts of the series, so far. Seeing 1894 through his eyes is riveting. I could easily picture each place the ship stopped including Oahu before it was built up into the tropical city it is now. On the boat he meets a German Baroness, Katharina who pulls Billy into her story and her life. When Billy reaches his destination (after parting with the Baroness and dealing with pirates) he reconnects with old friends. Here, he’s pulled into a battle between the French and the locals. Finally, it is time for Billy to make his way home and be reunited with his family and daughter. That doesn’t last though, when he is requested to go back to the Philippines for Katharina’s brother and they become involved in the Spanish-American war. This is a part of history I admit to knowing little about: the colonization of the Philippines or the French Indonesia. Mr. Yates has not only detailed it but made it interesting. Although, this isn’t just about wars and history, there are very intriguing relationships that develop including another romance for Billy! This is a stand-alone book, I wouldn’t miss reading the first Billy Battles. I highly recommend this series if you love a good historical fiction with a lot of amazing details or just love a well told tale–this is both!
by Ronald Yates
“Finding Billy Battles” is a historical fiction that takes us back to the days of the wild west. It is told through journals left to a great-grandson who reads them years after William Battles dies. Billy Battles was raised by a single mother. He takes a break from college to leave his home town and go work for a newspaper in Dodge City. He meets people we’re familiar with including: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson–that are seamlessly weaved into the story. I have always loved to read a historical fiction book and lose myself in the past. Mr. Yates brought this time-period to life with lots of relevant details and plenty of action that completely drew me into this world. I highly recommend this book if you love stories about the old west or just enjoy a well-told tale.
“Stranger Abduction” is a well-written novel based on an actual event. A mother and daughter walk from their home to a store in Arizona and never make it back. Mr. Chitwood gives a very viable and chilling account as to what might have happened next. Doris and Deena find themselves thrown into the human trafficking trade, while the Deputy Jack Kiefer never gives up on finding them. The details and characters kept this a page turning book as well as the side story with the Deputy. This is a glimpse into an evil that is going on around us as “products” (a label used for Doris and Deena) are being drugged and used for other’s gratification or service. I highly recommend this book, because even with a dark subject matter there are always heroes.
This is an interesting and unique take on a well-known Bible story from the old Testament. “The Fall of Lilith” follows a group of angels who rebel against the life they have in heaven, in a place called Floraison. Lilith is the driving force behind all of this as she encourages Lucifer to lead. As expected, the rebels find themselves on earth. This is my favorite part of the story and where it got interesting. I can’t say I rooted for Lilith, but there were others I was hoping things would work out for—like Gadreel. Ms. Vega crafted a well-written book with lots of depth, images to pull you in, and it definitely kept my interest as I wondered what was going to happen next. I recommend this book if you love fantasy with a Biblical connection– or an action-packed tale of revenge.
This was a charming, insightful story told through the eyes of strong and unique women. Being a Catholic, I enjoyed the setting of nuns in a monastery. It was familiar, but it took its own twist into the unknown. Each character had her own strength and weakness. I was drawn to the journey, particularly the relationships of: Prioress Mike searching for her faith, Gemma’s self-abuse, Arielle’s past addictions, and the most intriguing character the Mother, or Augusta. The self-reflection and growth were riveting to read as the story progressed. There was a lot of magic, hope, and redemption that left me feeling the same thing reading it, but there was also truth, consequences, and reality. The characters were strong, and I was fully invested in the intertwining results. In the end, all I wanted was a cup of that magical tea and the hope that came with it. I highly recommend this book!
This is the second book of the “Four Seasons Book” series that heads back into Peaceful Valley, TX. It has been many years since the grid collapse and we find the first generation of kids grown up and wanting to get married–except there’s no girls there for Robbie and Sean. They set off on a quest to find wives and end up in Corpus Christi where they quickly find a woman Sandra in charge and are separated. It is an interesting concept of what would happen in the aftermath of society’s collapse and the dictators that rise up. I like Robbie’s ingenuity and determination to survive in the situation he found himself in. While Sean was in different circumstances he seemed more willing to stay. Here there are plenty of women and food, but it is a cruel world they find themselves in. I found myself reading late into the night, completely invested in the characters, especially Robbie. There were some parts that broke my heart and a couple that left me confused. This is an action-packed story of survival with a different feel from “Into Autumn”—yet it was still as good a read as the first book. I’m looking forward to reading the next book “Into Winter” to see what happens next!
This is the third book in the “Four Seasons” series. It continues with the residents of Peaceful Valley– following the grid shut down that caused the collapse of society. After Robbie and Sean find their way back from the cruel dictatorship in Corpus Christi, there is a price to pay for leaving. Sandra is determined to attack Peaceful Valley. It was an interesting process to watch them prepare and defend their way of life, with very real consequences on both sides. What I found most thought-provoking was their realization that what goes on outside of Peaceful Valley affects them. There is some great insight into what makes a good government from the ground up. Although, it’s a brutal process I found it a spell binding read. I loved learning survival skills in the first book, the exploration in the second book, but this one gets you to wonder “what would you do” and then admire when the characters go beyond their own comfort. I’m eagerly looking forward to “Into Summer” and seeing where Mr. Landgraf takes us next.
By S. Burke
“Acts of Betrayal” picks up where the first book in this series “Acts of Redemption” ended. Ms. Burke quickly lets the reader know what has happened to the FBI agents and their counterparts from the last book. What is different in this book is the line between good and bad becomes very blurred and has to be crossed for the good of all. The book swiftly starts with an event I wasn’t expecting and a few changes of perspectives of the characters including Sheila, Mike, Trish and Nigel. Like the first book, this has suspense, mystery, intrigue and everything that makes a great story. This is a unique twist where the bad guy has hidden heart and the good guy has many personal issues to overcome. There are a lot of characters to keep track of along with their nicknames, but they are fully developed. My curiosity to see the pictures that made the characters “sick” shows how the story pulls the reader in. This is a great second book in the series and I look forward to the next book.
By John W. Howell
“Our Justice” is the final book of the John Cannon series and it continues where “His Revenge” left off. We quickly find John Cannon heading home, but there is little calm before everything gets crazy—again. John’s on-going battle with a terrorist determined to take down the United States for religious reasons, challenges our hero to find ways out of situations most couldn’t. You can’t help but love John’s determination and wit–while cheering him on. John finally gets into a spot he might not be able to escape. This fast-paced thriller is written in the author’s unique style that pulls you right into the story with a nail-biting ending that had a few surprises. The details Mr. Howell uses throughout the story not only enhances it, but leaves you wondering if this could really happen. I highly recommend this series, but start from the beginning with “My GRL” so you can enjoy the ride all the way to the end!
By Mae Clair
“A Desolate Hour” continues where “A Cold Tomorrow” ends. Everything from the first two books are explained with a couple of surprise twists I didn’t see coming. We are introduced to the Ouija board’s mysterious clue “QM”–or the new character, Quentin Marsh. Quentin fits right into the town seamlessly as he searches for more information about his family’s curse on behalf of his pregnant sister. Caden, Eve, Ryan, Katie and Sarah are back in the thick of the story, along with Mothman, men in black, and the curse. Ms. Clair has weaved folklore and history into an amazing tale. I loved the first two books and this final novel didn’t disappoint—in fact it took everything up a notch. I’ve grown to love this town and the people in it and was glad for the journey they took me on! I highly recommend this series for those who love an entertaining, well-written story with some paranormal, a bit of reality and a little romance.
by John W. Howell
I have eagerly awaited reading more about John Cannon after “My GRL”. Mr. Howell has a unique way of writing that brings the reader into the action quickly. The story continues with John waking up in a hospital after stopping a terrorist attack. I felt the anxiety of not being able to move one’s arms or see– like the main character when he awakened. As soon as John arrives home, the action begins and never lets up until the last page. While the plan is to go meet the president to be honored as a hero…well, nothing goes the way it should because his enemy has “other” ideas. This book, like the first, kept me up late, into the night because I wanted to see what was going to happen next. I immediately started reading “Our Justice” the third book in this series—after finishing “His Revenge”! If you love a thrilling, suspenseful, and action-packed story you’ll love this book!
by Mae Clair
I was very excited to read the second book in the Point Pleasant series, and found I enjoyed “A Cold Tomorrow” as much as “A Thousand Yesteryears”. Ms. Clair continues with characters from the first book, along with UFOs, animal mutilations, mysterious drawings, men in black, an ex-boyfriend, and the Mothman. There was a budding romance between Ryan and Katie, but it’s the mystery and suspense that made it hard for me to put the book down. I loved the little details of the town, characters, and the Mothman legend that drew me into “their” story. This book is well-written with every element I enjoy in a fiction including: the paranormal, mystery, a bit of romance, and suspense. I’ll be diving right into the final book “A Desolate Hour”. I can’t wait to see where the story goes next! I highly recommend this book and series.
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!
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.
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.
by Joan 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!
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
This is a thoughtful collection that shows life through potent images. There are three sections Love, Harmony, and Life, but the essence of existence connects it all. I was drawn to the sweet poetry dedicated to Ms. Singh’s grandchildren, and “Redwoods” was a favorite, but I fully enjoyed the beautiful words throughout the book. I love how nature is mixed into the poems and felt like I was sitting next to Ms. Singh watching the sunset with her. There is a surreal quality to “Moments We Love” that shows another way of looking at things. I highly recommend this collection if you are a fan of poetry.
“My Maine” is a fantastic collection of nature haiku. Going through the seasons, I would think I’d found my favorite one, but I hadn’t because they were all good. It was impressive with the limited wordage of the poems that so much information came across. The pictures added more depth to the words, and I enjoyed learning some new details along the way. This is an excellent blend of poetry, photographs, and facts about Maine. If you love nature and poetry, you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend this!
“Frost Fyre” is a poetry collection of mythology, whimsy, darkness, and love. There’s an abundance of imagery, which includes winter and the moon, that drew me in. There’s a Cinquain section towards the end which I enjoyed, but I loved the poems dedicated to the author’s husband layered with love and passion. I felt the stories within the poems which intrigued me. I’m eager to explore more of Ms. Rogers books.
“Timeless Echoes” is a beautiful collection of free verse poetry. I loved the echo theme throughout the words that connected them. There were many subjects, but all came from the heart. I could relate as a mother and human being with the poem, “Shrieking Echoes.” It tugged on my soul. Ms. Singh’s use of nature provided solid images to guide me through the feelings. “Captive” reminded me that nothing is permanent, much like the snow–so are our emotions. “First Love” references books, and that brought an inner smile of a reader’s truth. Poetry finds a way to connect us, and this collection did that on many levels. I recommend this heartfelt book of poems.
“Journey to the Rainbow’s End” is a reflective, insightful, fictional-reality told through poems and short stories. The story felt like I’d found his personal journal because the writing was so intimate. I could relate and empathize to the pain, confusion, and hope that came through the words. As I read, I began to contemplate the exquisiteness of rainbows. It’s the blending of colors that make the rainbow so special. Mr. Stepnowski’s book shows his readers how beautiful every person is and needed to make the rainbow of humanity. This is a journey to acceptance that was not only heartbreaking, but inspiring and a beautiful voice that needs to be heard.
This is a beautiful book of poetry with the first half written from the female’s perspective and the second through the male’s. “If Only There was Music. The Poetry of Forbidden Love” does something unique–it tells a story through the poetry. Each poem shows the pain and longing for their forbidden love. I like that the female and male side are written by different authors making it all the more real. The images and rhythm of the words held me captive– reading late into the night. It reminded me just how strong real love is, even at a distance. If you love poetry, like I do, you will love this book!
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 abus. 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.
SHORT STORIES AND SHORT STORY BOOKS:
by D.L. Cross
Having read and loved “The Gate” by Ms. Cross, I was excited to see a sci-fi short story based on that world. Sent out to scout the aliens, J finds them. His character had so much depth that I felt his discomfort of being alone when J was used to functioning in a group. J’s commitment to his duty and what he found was fascinating and complicated. This well-written quick read can be a stand-alone. I highly recommend it!
“Watch RWISA Write” is written by the members of Rave Writers – Int’l Society of Authors which is a division of Rave Reviews Book Club. It’s a fantastic collection of work that varies from fiction, poetry, history, reality, and of course, it’s well written. I couldn’t pick just one great piece of work because they were all good. Each author provided an entertaining read with the paranormal, karma, humor, drama, and thought-provoking insights. A great book and no matter what your mood, you can find something to read. I highly recommend this anthology!
I bought this anthology because I was already a fan of Robbie Cheadle. I loved her historical fiction based on real-life stories as expected, but the other authors and their work also intrigued me. This collection is a great variety that includes horror, sci-fi, suspense, and mystery set in various locations that all held my attention. There’s a brief introduction to each author, and I enjoyed getting to know them before reading. It’s a great assortment of short stories and a fantastic way to be introduced to new authors. I highly recommend “Death Among Us.”
by Wendy Jayne
I could relate to the main character, Pippa, trying to lose weight for an upcoming event. Determined to fit into a smaller dress, Pippa wanted to impress the man she had a crush on since she was a teenager. Her struggle and attempts were amusing. Satisfied with the outcome and Pippa’s conclusions, I appreciated this short story!
by Jan Sikes
I loved this short story about two young girls abandoned by their mother while their father was away at war and declared MIA. Jennifer, at fourteen years old, takes over the care of herself and her younger sister. This was so well-written I was feeling a lot of emotions reading it including anger at the mother to cheering Jennifer on. All the small details brought it to life for me. If you love heart-warming stories, this is a must read!
by Jan Sikes
Jewel, her sister, and mother lived in poverty. Her mother became sick and couldn’t take care of her girls. The mother found new situations for them both to give them a better chance of a better life. Jewel took everything in stride thrown at her. This short story had a fairy tale quality to it with an adult subject. I enjoyed the theme of a young girl who came from nothing and found her place in the world.
by WJ Scott
Two brothers are sent to live with Aunt Sally because their mother is sick. I loved how Brodie took care of his little brother Tom on the journey there with their aunt. When they arrive, the town appears to be hiding something which made me very curious. The place felt so real and strange at the same time. I enjoyed the boys trying to find the secret with the aide of their aunt’s dog. The reason surprised me and made this an exciting and highly recommended short read!
by Jan Sikes
Two friends are drinking away Claire’s pain. All in good fun, Claire and Jade make a Voodoo doll resembling the husband who just left Claire for another woman. Ms. Sikes wrote this in a fashion that felt authentic to me. There was a woman betrayed and heartbroken with a friend trying to cheer her up. I could easily imagine sitting with these two women, making a doll to work through all the bad feelings with an unexpected outcome. This short story was a quick read, but a complete story that I thoroughly enjoyed—and highly recommend!
by Rhani D’Chae
This short story takes us to a future I hope doesn’t happen but feels very real. Prisoner Maxwell Drake is a part of the fighting ring in the Seattle prison. The fights are brutal, bloody, and controlled by the warden for profit. It immediately drew me into the story, including the predicament of being forced to do something Maxwell didn’t want to and the consequences of refusing. I want to know more about this world and Maxwell and can’t wait for the novel! I recommend this story that takes the reader into an action-filled glimpse of what could be.
This is a short excerpt from “Debauchery” but complete with the insight of a young gay man trying to be kind to a girl who’s interested in him. It was well-written, a quick read, and a great way to be introduced to this author.
by Beem Weeks
“Strange Hwy” is another amazing collection of short stories by an author I’m already a fan of, Mr. Weeks. Each story has a unique flavor, but they all tugged a bit at my heart. Although I’m not going to choose which is my favorite because I enjoyed them all, I’m still thinking about Alzheimer, justice and a family reunited after finishing the book. This is a highly recommended read that is not only well-written but filled with beautiful descriptive passages and insight.
“Memoir of a Mad Woman” is a short, but chilling read. You’re taken into the mind of a young girl, Emma, who had a very unstable upbringing. Emma ends up in an orphanage. This is where she’s finally pushed completely over the edge. It’s brutal and almost unthinkable what follows. The characters feel real, which makes it all the more terrifying in their cruelty. How Emma responds to what she considers a complete betrayal, you can’t help but to root for her and feel her pain. I thoroughly enjoyed this psychological thriller and felt like I understood her madness. I highly recommend this well-written dark short story.
I’m a big fan of Hallmark Holiday movies and “Mistletoe Inn” is the same type of feel-good story that I enjoy. Molly finds a new job after a divorce and heads with her son Leo to help run Mistletoe Inn. The mother and son find themselves in a blizzard–and crash. They’re rescued by her partner Noah. There’s an immediate attraction between them, but a lot of baggage they are both carrying, too. I love the relationship between Molly and Noah, and the gentleness Noah shows her son, Leo. It’s easy to imagine the beautiful scenery through descriptions and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the guests and residents in Christmas. This is a sweet tale about second chances during the holiday season. If you’re a fan of charming holiday romances, this is a short-story you’ll want to read.
by Marcia Meara
This is the second novella in the series with the Emissaries, Jake and Dodger, working for Archangel Azrael. There’s the same depth and humor in this heartfelt tale that I enjoyed in “The Emissary”. I loved the developing relationship between Jake and Dodger as they work to save people from themselves. Dodger’s regret adds a new layer to this story. I can’t wait to see how that works out…and how Azrael plays into that. This is a perfect Christmas read, but would be great any time of the year. There was an amazing ending and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. If you haven’t read the first novella–you should–then you can fully enjoy this highly recommended sequel!
This is a short science fiction tale of a group of humans traveling to a new planet. Holly’s the only one awake on her shift when an object is spotted coming directly at them. It’s been nine long years of traveling and what happens next brought a smile to my face. I loved the blend of sci-fi and the fantasy of Christmas into one magical story. If you like holiday-themed stories I highly recommend this to you!
When We Finally Kiss Goodnight
by Staci Troilo
“When We Finally Kiss Goodnight” is a steamy romance with an interesting story line that kept me turning the pages. Chloe hoped to leave her life behind with a new job interview in Pittsburgh. What she didn’t count on is running into her college crush who broke her heart, Britt. My favorite part was the tension between Britt and Chloe with their unsaid assumptions and how that played out in conversations. The things being left unsaid with the obvious attraction between them and the potential for growth was intriguing. I especially liked the trip they took to Gettysburg and the legend Chloe ran into along the way. This is a satisfying feel-good holiday short story that I recommend if you are a fan of passionate romance.
by Mae Clair
Kentucky Kernels: Book of Short Stories & Poetry
This is a unique collection of Mr. Chitwood’s work. It starts off with a two-part short story that I really enjoyed. His work is well-written with depth, intrigue, action, and humor. There is an introduction to each part that is infused with the author’s humor. There are teasers from two of his books along with poetry, personal stories, and insights. The poetry was my favorite part of the book. Mr. Chitwood has a beautiful, almost musical, way of presenting his poetry while adding in the emotional element. This collection has an anthology-feel to me. I’m already a fan of this author having read one of his books, “Stranger Abduction” that earned five stars–and I don’t miss his blogs. I recognized several parts of the book from the blog. I recommend this author, and this collection gives you a chance to get to know him.
By Beem Weeks
This is a collection of twenty short stories that embrace the full spectrum of emotions and life. The descriptions were vivid, and the characters drew me into each story. There’s a vast array of subjects covered that made me feel so many things ranging from: sadness to satisfaction to surprise. I tried to pick a favorite story as I read, but as I declared this was my favorite, I would feel the same way about the next story. I was very happy to see a short with Baby from “Jazz Baby” in one of these stories. I can easily recommend “Slivers Of Life”.
Ms. Burke wrote another amazing book of nine short stories. Each story had its own style of karma, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It would be hard to pick my favorite out of the bunch, so I won’t. There were parts where I found myself cheering out loud—other times cringing. The characters were well-written and the stories full of depth and emotion, along with some humor. If you love short stories with a dark twist, you won’t want to miss reading “The Alternative”.
By C.S. Boyack
I loved this fantasy novella by Mr. Boyack! Lizzie St. Laurent loses not only her grandmother and her place to live but is left without any mementos to remember her by. This is when Lizzie decides to grab a box from the truck loaded with her grandmother’s things and leaves. This quick decision changes her life. She soon finds herself with a living hat and a family history she was unaware of. The conversations between Lizzie and the hat had me laughing out loud. When a baby is kidnapped, the hat suggests Lizzie and the hat work together to find him. The concept of an inanimate object being alive is intriguing to me and “The Hat” accomplishes this well. This had everything I enjoy in a story, action, humor, depth, and unusual characters—plus, who wouldn’t want a talking hat with magical powers? I highly recommend this if you love fantasy and paranormal themes– or are looking for something different. I’m hoping there will be more stories with Lizzie and the hat!
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!
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!
by S. Burke
I love to find a great book of short stories where I can read a story in one sitting. In “Mind-Shaft”, no story stood out as being the best—because they were all good! Each one has its own unique flavor with interesting twists. Ghosts, revenge, murder, justice, suspense, and excitement saturate the stories. If you enjoy short stories with a paranormal flavor you won’t want to miss this gem!
“Thread and Other Stories” is a short story collection that ranges from historical to science fiction. There are seven stories that I’d have a hard time picking my favorite from because they are so different, but they are all well-written. I was involved in each story with the characters and outcome for different reasons. “Conflict” the tale of two friends in World War 1 was the one that touched me the most with their friendship and the horror of war. In “Thread” I was immediately drawn into the story of two poor orphans and their struggled to survive—I was rooting for them. The most interesting though was the story “Conversation” that was weaved around the other stories in six parts. I thoroughly enjoyed the different genres and the mystery of “Conversation” in this creative collection. I look forward to reading more from this author!
I enjoyed this short story of a woman, Marissa, who’s about to get married and her older sister Miranda who has feelings for the groom. The characters were so well done I found myself disliking the groom, Johan. I liked all the twists this story took. It’s a fast and satisfying read that I couldn’t put down. If you like love stories with some karma thrown in…you’ll enjoy this one!
by Wendy Jayne
Cassidy is a witch who falls hard for Hunter the warlock. There’s one problem, they can’t be together. Someone has put a hex on her with an entertaining outcome. It’s cute how Cassidy tries to avoid Hunter’s advances. I like when they start working together to resolve the “issue”. This was a fun quick-read full of magic and frustration!
by Rhani D’Chae
It starts with the natural death of two neighbors. What happens next isn’t natural when they become zombies in this chilling short story about the inception of a zombie apocalypse. It was clear how quickly it spread, and I felt the sheer terror when someone was caught by a zombie. I understood the confusion of the characters when they saw people they knew and loved now monsters. This was a story I couldn’t stop reading, with the action not stopping from the moment it started. If you enjoy horror stories, like I do, you’ll love this!
By Shirley Harris-Slaughter
This is a detailed and interesting insight into a group of people who are pulled together, after failed attempts, to save a historical train station. I never gave much thought about the work and planning that goes into an event to accomplish this. I enjoyed learning about it.
By Wendy Jayne
This takes us to a time when humans share the world with vampires and robots. I loved the characters, especially the robot secretary with ideas of her own. The PI was investigating human deaths, while navigating vampire celebrity and the undercurrent vampire and robot policies. This short story has mystery, monsters, and was thought provoking—a perfect combination!
Two sisters love the same man, but only one gets him. Nellie carries many emotions from winning the man, David, who is her husband. She relives her past on a trip to see a lawyer. This is a quick read full of guilt, anger and some love.
By Nonnie Jules
Darcy’s older sister was killed while walking to school with her siblings. After her sister’s death, Darcy noticed doors, and other things, opening and shutting on their own. Then, she discovered her sister’s journal that changed her world. I found this to be an inspiring read about a girl finding her faith and applying it to her life after a tragic event. It shows we can overcome loss–if we have faith.
by Nonnie Jules
I just finished reading: “If Only There Was Music. The Poetry of Forbidden Love” the book of poetry that precedes this short story. Instead of going to sleep I had to know how it all ended and immediately started reading “…And the Music Played”. The couple in a forbidden love were both married to other people. Christine in an abusive marriage, and Giani in a loveless one. A murder plot is twisted into this love story nicely with plenty of action. I was drawn in and rooting for Christine and Giani. You can read this well-written short story as a stand-alone, but I recommend you read the book of poetry first.
by Rhani D’Chae
This was a fascinating read! Although it stated clearly in the beginning there was going to be a murder I was still surprised when it happened. Once I started reading I couldn’t put it down. I had to know why. It was chilling to see through the killer’s point of view. The characters were real, the subject matter of abuse important, and the rationale almost makes sense—almost. I loved this story and highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy a story told through the “serial killer’s” prospective!
This is a collection of four short stories that held my attention. The tales ranged from seeing Adam and Eve from the snakes’ prospective, what a slot machine is thinking, not to enter an attic if you are a spoiled child, and books that should never be read. Each had its own flavor that I fully enjoyed. This was a fun read for me. If you enjoy the paranormal with a bit of horror mixed in, you’ll enjoy this collection.
By Jan Sikes
There are two short stories and a poem in this collection. My favorite short story was “Obsession”. It takes the reader to a place of greed and lust, and what a dark path they can drag you down. I could sympathize with the characters and at the same time cringe at the things they did. The other short story “Maggie” was a sweet tale when a rancher finds a gift in a snow bank. I left this story wanting to know more, but very glad the couple got what they desired. The poem rang true about relationships that shouldn’t go ‘there’. “Two Shorts and a Snort” is an ideal read before bedtime–or even your lunch break.
by Wendy Jayne
Ms. Jayne takes us on a chance meeting and a forgetful morning after. Tequila wakes up with a major hangover and tries to figure out what happened between her and Jack. Was this a person she might want to have a relationship or forget she met him? I enjoyed the storyline and humor. The characters were well-written, and I was curious to see what happened between them. It wasn’t a rushed short-story ending–even with “speed-dating”.
This is a charming short-story of a little Evergreen from the Tree Quarters named Smallun. Smallun meets up with a butterfly he names Flutter and he quickly shares his story of his home being attacked by the Zondies and escaping to safety. It reminded me of a similar issue we have in our area with tree beetles killing the pine trees. This story makes you want to look twice at what grows in our gardens or forests.
PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction) Short story prequel to DOG BONE SOUP
“Pure Trash” is a charming and insightful glance into rural 1955 as we are taken through a day with two boys: Shawn and Willie. They are poor and judged on the merit of their drunken father. Heading into town it is apparent they are considered, “pure trash”. They’re able to earn enough change to get some treats and play freely on the playground. An unforeseen accident confirms what Shawn already knows, they aren’t treated the same as everyone else. I can’t wait to read “Dog Bone Soup” to see what happens to the boys. I recommend this short story for children– as well as adults.
This is a book for authors who are looking for new ways to say the same old thing. I know I can get stuck on a word or phrase and this gives many samples to wake up my creative side. I’ll have “Emotional Beats” by me when I edit my next book. This will not only help me freshen up my dialog, but there are many examples throughout the book, that include body parts and emotions, that show instead of tell. I recommend this handy writing tool.
Having read and loved “Novy’s Son” I was intrigued to learn about Novy’s parents. This story started out with the life of a girl Albertina who left Sweden with her mother for a new life in America. Written in first person enabled me to experience this journey with her. I loved her peaceful life with her mother, aunt, and uncle in America. The details about Swedish culture were fascinating and added another depth to this story. I delighted in her trips into the forest to connect and find answers. I appreciated learning about all the artwork and how it would feel to be a model for it. Although Ms. Ingalls didn’t know much about Albertina/Davida, she still created a story about her great-grandparents that was spell-binding. Albertina’s innocence and obedience to her mother, merged with her curiosity and emotions blending into a story that felt very real to me. I understood the woman who went from Albertina to Davida. I felt for everyone person involved–including the wife. For Davida to love that unconditionally, even with society’s disapproval, shows not only a tragic situation, but one where she had so much strength and respect for that love. This was an amazing read that I got lost in. What a legacy that their great granddaughter wrote about. I highly recommend this if you love art, history, human relationships–or a love story.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
by Micki Peluso
“…And The Whippoorwill Sang” tells the story of Ms. Peluso, while her 14-year-old daughter is in a hospital bed fighting for her life. The book starts out with the parents of six waiting to hear if one of their children who was hit by a drunk driver–lives. I have been putting off reading this, because I had been through a similar situation a few years back. I know what it is like to sit next to the hospital bed of a once vibrant 14-year-old girl, and see what is left after someone chooses to drink and drive. It is heartbreaking, but it is something I needed to read. I believe everyone should read this, before they ever drink and decide to get behind the wheel of a car. Ms. Peluso wrote it in a manner which made it easier to read. She flashed back to her life and how they got to that point. It started with her marriage at 17-years-old and their struggles and blessings. I was taken back to a time when female roles were different, and then changed. It was beautifully written and had me laughing and crying. This is a story that needed to be told and definitely needs to be read. This is a must-read book.
“Empty Chairs” is the story of the author’s life when she was a very young girl in Australia. I can’t say I’m shocked very easily, but this was shocking. The woman who gave birth to Stacey– Gwen, because she certainly didn’t deserve the title of mother, sold her YOUNG daughter’s body to provide for her. If Stacey didn’t comply she’d be beaten and locked in a closet. The woman was sick on so many levels, but I had to wonder about the people that paid for sex with a girl not old enough to be in school? What were they? Even when one of these clients insisted that Stacey get some education, that wasn’t enough to erase what he did to her. Then, finally when Stacey had enough she exploded. I felt no empathy toward Gwen getting beaten by her 11-year-old daughter. Here is where Stacey became Sassy-Girl and now is living on the streets. The one thing that made this slightly easier to read was this girl’s attitude and strength. I loved her wisdom and feistiness, yet I kept thinking how does this go on around us? I believe the real strength of this book is educating people it’s happening. This is well-written, and you can’t help but fall in love with Sassy-Girl/Stacey. There is a second book that finishes the story of young Stacey and I will be reading it. It is a very tough read, but one I highly recommend you try.
“Outshine” is the journey Ms. Ingalls took when she learned she had ovarian cancer. This is a subject I’d usually avoid because the word cancer scares me, and I’ve seen what it can do to loved ones, but I was surprised how inspired I became as I read it. The author is a nurse who educated herself with all the facts once she learned her diagnosis. She dug deep into her faith and found ways to nourish her soul throughout the process. I loved all the quotes and the positive way she approached a very scary situation for anyone. She got the help back she had provided in her career two-fold. We were with her during her surgery, chemotherapy, when she lost her hair and her daily walks and prayers. I loved how she talked about sending a card and really meaning the message and how much it meant to her at this time. I was impressed how she learned to let her ego go when she lost her hair, how she embraced each day as a gift, and her husband’s unconditional love for her. These are good lessons for us in life whether we are fighting an illness or not. I ended reading this feeling more hopeful and inspired. This is a book for anyone dealing with cancer or any illness, but it is also for anyone who wants and needs to be encouraged. I highly recommend Ms. Ingalls’ book!
by Lynda Filler
I believe in miracles and this is what “LOVE The Beat Goes On” is about! Sometimes, in life we forget about the miracles that surround us, and this book is a reminder of them. Ms. Filler was faced with a dire diagnosis from her doctor and set out on a healing journey. This is an uplifting book that reminds you to trust your inner voice. To joyfully do things that only make sense to yourself. It is necessary to heal our bodies, minds and souls. With references to Dr. Wayne Dyer, and a reading guide at the end, the reader is given some tools to do this journey on their own– if they are ready for it. I will definitely be listening to the Shaman’s chants and checking into books I haven’t read. This book was recommended to me and I am thankful for that recommendation! I have fought past some of my own health issues, but this story is a guiding beacon for everyone dealing with that– or just needs an uplifting story in their lives. I highly recommend this for anyone on a journey to find themselves, heal—or needs to be reminded of miracles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Sixteen-year-old Maisie and her family move from the U.K. to France for her father’s work. I loved where they lived, the culture, and the countryside surrounding their community. It drew me into that part of the book. The house they move into is run down with part of the roof missing. The family makes the best of it, but tragedy strikes when her brother disappears. The story moved at a faster pace after Maisie’s brother went missing. Although there was a mystery, I found the aftermath of that event more dominate for Maisie and her family. Maisie seemed rather mature for her age, but she was strong-willed and as confused as a teenager would be. I rooted for her but didn’t fully connect with her until halfway through. I liked some subjects covered, including alcoholism and drinking and driving. “Strawberry Moon” crossed the line once, at least for me as a YA read, along with a reaction that I wished had more reflection on Maisie’s part. Still, this story held my interest until the last page. I’m hoping there’s a second book to resolve all those unanswered questions.
by Guy Worthey
Cecilia “Ace” Carroway is a 16-year-old pilot during World War One. Her story starts quickly with a thrilling air-battle, but Ace ends up a prisoner when her plane is shot down. That minor detail doesn’t seem to bother Ace, which is why I came to appreciate this character’s spunk. Ace is not only likable but way ahead of her male counterparts. Leadership seems natural to Ace and her much older POWs put their trust in her. This is an exciting read full of vivid details and humor meant for young adults, but I equally enjoyed it. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!
Moon Watchers (Hunters Book 2)
by Sandra Cox
“Moon Watchers” is the second in the Hunters series. The story veers from hunting “vamps” with Zoe on Vampire Island to “weres” with Zoe’s cousin, Jolene, in the snowy forest of Minnesota. It starts with an immediate encounter with both werewolves–and Braden who just shows up to help out. This sweet and exciting YA book has a couple of twists along the way. I love Jolene’s no-nonsense, fearless personality and how it interacts with the mysterious handsome Braden who seems to be hiding a secret. I could easily picture myself in the cabin she’d just inherited. I adored the quaint town she ventured into to get her cup of coffee and supplies. I found this an enjoyable adventure that kept me reading late into the night like the first book did. If you’re a fan of vampires, werewolves and their hunters, along with a sweet romance, I recommend this series for both adults and younger readers.
Vampire Bay (Hunters #3)
By Sandra Cox
This is the third book in the Hunters Series and revisits Zoe and her Uncle Kilmer, after book two visits Zoe’s cousin, Jolene the “weres” hunter. Zoe and her uncle go to a small town to hunt vampires. They stay in a house that used to belong to a vampire Zoe had killed and immediately have a run-in with “vamps”. I enjoyed the relationship between Zoe and her protective uncle, as well as her boyfriend Sam. While Zoe appears to be a fashion-conscious teen, she’s also an intelligent hunter. I’ve loved all three of the books in this YA series and hope there are future books about Zoe. I recommend this for not only YA readers, but adults who enjoy a story through a teenager’s point of view.
By John Coon
This is Mr. Coon’s debut YA novel. There were many things I loved about this story. I enjoyed a boy’s viewpoint, since I usually read YA’s through a girl’s perspective. The characters were strong, flaws and all, while the story line was unique. Ron moves to a small town, after his parent’s divorce, with his mother and little brother. He leaves his friends and soccer team behind. The first day at his new school, he ends up in detention. Ron’s introduced to some new friends, and a strange “town lore” that he brushes aside. But, things begin to happen, and people are disappearing. Ron seems to be in the middle of it all. Ron’s only goal up to this point had been to play soccer, but now he must pull himself out of that comfort zone. I recommend “Pandora Reborn” if you love a well-told paranormal YA with a bit of gore and romance thrown in.
by A.M. Manay
I loved Ms. Manay’s November Snow Series. I wondered if a new story line could rival that…yes it could. In fact, it could even surpass it. I found myself drawn deep into “Hexborn”. Shiloh grew up considered unclean by the population even though the laws against her kind had disappeared. Shunned, she was being educated to use her strong magic. Dealing with illness and deformity she develops an inner grace and strength. Suddenly when her teacher dies Silas arrives to bring her to the King’s court. Silas seems the perfect villain and I love the relationships she builds in court. Then there were surprises along Shiloh’s journey that she answered with her heart. I admired that about her. The flashbacks were skillfully used so the reader could understand how things developed. What her body lacked, her fortitude made up for. I’m hooked on the magical girl with pink hair and eyes. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. If I could give this more than five stars I would. It may be a YA, but it’s for adults, too. I highly recommend this book!
by Wendy Scott
Ms. Scott wrote an entertaining story told from two different time-lines. Sabrina the healer-witch lived in times when magic had been removed, while Lauren lived in the past when there was magic. How their lives intersected I found fascinating. As Sabrina sets out to right the wrongs of the past she develops a relationship with an apprentice monk Micah, that was one of my favorite parts of the story. Getting the history through Lauren’s journal though showed that even with good intentions and a mother’s love things can go very wrong– was the strength of the story. It was a long process to get Sabrina to the place she needed to be, and many people suffered along the way– and after. If you like a story with a quest, magic, forbidden love, fantasy with dark undertones, you will enjoy this book!
by F.B. Veneziano
I loved the first YA book in the “Army of Orphans” series and “The Retaking Pervaiske” takes over where it ended. It follows the plight of the Krisko siblings Alex, Anton, Irina and their army of orphans living in an abandoned underground shelter. It’s eastern Europe and thirty years into the future. The country is at war with itself and they are part of the rebel rebellion. There’s plenty of action with the small band being sent on missions with very real consequences–as the government repression strengthens. More relationships are developed as well as revisiting characters from the first book. My heart can’t help but go out to these brave young adults and children fighting for what they believe in. Although, you could read this as a stand-alone, with the very detailed recap at the beginning, I suggest you read the books in order. I liked how the story starts off with a glimpse into what was coming and then going back to find out how they got there. This kept me reading late into the night, with the only thing slightly slowing me down was the recap of the last book. The ending was sudden, and my first thought was: “no, it can’t end like this!” I eagerly await the third book to find out what happens next to this army of amazing orphans, because I can’t help but love them! I recommend this for young adults and adults, too.
“The Army of Orphans” is a YA book that follows the lives of three siblings. Although, it’s set 30 years in the future in Eastern Europe, it could be now and that makes it very relevant to read. After their mother dies, their father falls into drinking and rage. This eventually leads to the two boys Alex and Anton being sent to an orphanage, while the oldest Irina finds her own way. Alex discovers the stories he’s heard about the orphanage to be true. At the same time a revolution is happening outside the walls of this institution that pulls him and others into it. The characters are so well-written I felt every emotion reading this story. The strength of Alex is what makes this book hard to put down. He’s a young adult who has to leave his childhood behind as he survives in a world that is changing daily. I found myself falling in love with these children and then admiring their bravery. I’m looking forward to reading the next book “Retaking Pervaiske” and more from this author. I highly recommend this book not only for young adults, but for adults, too.
by Yvette M. Calleiro
This fourth book in the “Chronicles of the Diasodz” series continues with the story of Sophia, Rafe and more of my favorite characters. Relationships are being formed along with plotting and intrigue. There’s an in-depth look into the search for the truth and what is right and wrong– as reality is explored. As the characters grow and learn, the mysterious prophesies remain. Ms. Calleiro has combined a story with love of either self or another so beautifully, that I have been hooked from the very first book I read. Plus, the added bonus of the paranormal and adventure make this a must-read series! I cannot wait to see how it all ties together and ends in the next book, “The One Awakened”
by Yvette M. Calleiro
Although I am sad to see the “Chronicles of the Diasodz” end—it was a completely satisfying conclusion! With war coming: sides are chosen, and relationships are tested. I loved the growth of the characters especially: Rafe, Angel, Ar’ch and Sofia. The difference between corruption and hate versus understanding and love becomes very clear. I was extremely invested with the outcome of characters that I had grown to love over the series and wasn’t disappointed. I don’t want to say more and spoil the ending, but this is a fantasy YA series I highly recommend! Start from the beginning and take the journey with Sofia. I look forward to the upcoming prequels!
Book three of the YA “Chronicles of the Diasodz” series does not begin where the last book ended–and that is a good thing! Ms. Calleiro takes us back to an event and shows us another perspective of it. With both sides being so sure they are right–I loved seeing the story from the “bad” side. We are introduced to new characters and some familiar ones from the first book. This insight is told through Rafe, Mel, and other viewpoints in this new world. I appreciated how past events from book two were blended in. The characters are so strong that you care deeply what happens to them. I’m already reading the fourth book in this amazing series and highly recommend it for all fantasy, love, and paranormal fans!
I admit to having read (and loved) the second book of the Diasodz series “The Enlightened One”—first. My plan was to read the first book before continuing with book three. Part of me wondered if doing so would rehash everything I knew, but I found that wasn’t an issue. I was quickly lost in “The One Discovered”. The depth and creativity to which Ms. Calleiro takes her story and characters pulled me in as I learned more about my favorites like: Sophia, Ar’ch, and Angel! Watching Sophia discover things aren’t what they seem, and the developing love triangle was fascinating. I don’t want to give too much away in this amazing YA story, but if you love a skillfully blended mix of romance, adventure, fantasy, magic and other worldly beings– along with a mix of new age and earth lore–you will love this. I eagerly dove into book 3 “The One Betrayed” and cannot wait to see where Ms. Calleiro takes us next. I highly recommend this book!
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.
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
by W.J. Scott
A young girl named, Evelyn, didn’t believe in the unseen or magic. Evelyn finds out whether it is real or not in this sweet story. I found the characters charming, full of wonder, and uncertainty. The last line summed up my personal belief, which I won’t share here and ruin the ending. I will definitely be reading this with my grandchildren!
“While the Bombs Fell” is told through the eyes of a young girl in England during WWII. From food rations to bombs falling, it was a fascinating look into war from a child’s eyes. It was written much like a journal or someone retelling their memories—which it was. I was drawn into what it would be like to live through this period via Elise’s descriptions. Between supplementing their food with a garden, going into the bomb shelter during raids, or the children finding ways to entertain themselves, I felt like I understood what she went through. I loved the addition of recipes at the end. This is a great peek into what it was like to survive in wartime, especially for children.
by Maretha Botha
Trails and Trials is the fourth book in the Fauna Park Tales and so far, my favorite. It’s told through four different stories of animals and humans all headed in the same direction with three of the groups trying to save the orphans from book three. I loved the themes of: family, loyalty, bravery and hope. Crossing a desert is dangerous, but something all four groups set out to do despite the danger. The little details brought this part to life and I could easily imagine crossing the hot sand, with no water, under the blaring sun. This is intended for middle grade readers, but adults can enjoy it, too. I can’t wait for book five to come out to see where the story takes the reader next. All four Fauna Park Tales sit in my grandchildren’s bookcase and are highly recommended.
This is the third book in the Fauna Park Tales and I enjoyed it as much as the first two. It’s still being told through Hope the owl, there’s the charming illustrations, and animals with their humans. I loved the setting and learning new information about the animals that lived there. The story-line showed how dangerous life can be in Molodi Valley, including theft and kidnapping. This was a one night read, that gave good examples of bravery and family. I’ll be reading the next book in the series to see how it all works out. Although this is a great story for middle grade readers, adults can enjoy it, too. I recommend this series but start it from the beginning, so you don’t miss out on anything.
This is part of a series for children 4-11 about a squirrel named Stubby. He travels to New York to see his twin, Shorty, for Christmas who lives in Central Park. I loved the setting in New York during the holidays. The pictures were small on my Kindle, but charming. I think this would be a great book to add to my paperback collection for my grand-kids. That way I can read it to them, or maybe they can read it to me, and fully enjoy the artwork. I smiled seeing the squirrel at the top of the Empire State Building waving in his guests like King Kong. I liked that they shopped, skated, and went to Church. Then the group gathers for the special day after their Santa paid a visit. A cute story to read to the kids during the Holiday Season. I’ll be reading this to my grand-kids this year.
This is another great book in the Greek Mythology Fantasy Series. While the first book dealt with sixth grader D.J., Persephone and a move including a new school, “Mylee in the Mirror” takes on high school, Aphrodite, dating, change and expectations. The opening of the book drew me right in with a surprise and I was hooked. Mylee is moving her beloved grandmother into assisted living; her parents are fighting, and the most popular guy in school asks her out–making life confusing for her. But even with all that was going on at least Mylee had her best friends and trampoline and tumbling. The characters are well-written and the relationships realistic. Mylee’s home life felt genuine, and the connection between her and her grammy was sweet. I loved the life lessons about being true to yourself, that applied to the adults in the story, too. Adding in the magic of a Greek Goddess and her interactions with Mylee made this story a lot of fun and exciting to read. I’m looking forward to the next book and highly recommend this imaginative book and amazing young author.
“Friends: An African Adventure” is the second book in the Fauna Park Tale series I have bought for my grand-kids. It’s an exotic tale set in an African desert and told through a bird’s perspective, Hope. The characters are fully developed and engaging, while the artwork provided by Ms. Botha is heartfelt. Flame the dog gives the reader an example of protecting those who can’t protect themselves– and what friendship and bravery are. He keeps his promise to be a hero. Another Fauna Park Tale I will enjoy reading with my grand-kids!
“Daisy, Bold & Beautiful” is a sweet story geared for 9 to 12-year-old readers. Ms. Collins tells the story of a young girl D.J. who moves to a new town with her father, after her mother’s death. She has to start a new school and make new friends. It’s well-written and I could sympathize with her getting onto the bus knowing no one and heading for a new sixth grade experience. D.J. quickly makes friends and learns about herself along the way. I loved the relationship between father and daughter as well as her new friends. What makes this story so interesting is what happens when she goes to bed and her experiences in another realm. This book for middle grade readers drew me in, but the amazing part was it was written by a middle grade writer! This is a children’s book I highly recommend and a new author I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!
“Tails” is a children’s fantasy book for the 9-12 age group, but is for adults, too. I’m already of fan of Ms. Scott, so I went into reading this with high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed! “Tails” takes us to a place where magic is hard to come by, and the wizards have lost their power. That all changes when a hunter, Samsa captures Kywah, a silvertail and cuts his tail off which has magic in it. The silvertails were thought to be extinct and this renews the interest in ‘harvesting’ them. The hunters set out to find the pack, so they can sell the tails and fur to the wizards who want to recapture their powers. Kywah, who is considered handicapped among his pack, leaves on a journey to find the ‘Wise One’ to prevent the killing for greed and power. He does this without the senses his tail provided. I loved the relationships Kywah made along the way, especially with the dog Buster-Boy. This is the first of the series–I can’t wait for the second book! If you love a story with magic, adventure, wizards, hunters, fairies, bravery, friendship and a journey you’ll love this book! I highly recommend “Tails” and would give it six stars if I could.
This is a children’s book that tells the story of ten-year-old June who lives with her brother and dysfunctional mother. She finds a puppy, Lady Bird, and the children take care of it until it finally becomes a part of their family–and her best friend. June is an A student who is thrust into the role of caretaker more often than she should be. Luckily, her grandma is involved, or G-Mom, and that helps the children to have more stability and love. Her mother marries and brings an uncaring stepfather and four unfriendly steps siblings into the house. But, June gets an amazing trip with her grandmother and brother across Europe–where the kids bring joy to the tour group. Unfortunately, right after is when June gets sick and ends up fighting cancer in the hospital. This part of the book is very emotional and drew me deep into the story. I was extremely invested into June’s outcome and her bravery through an unthinkable situation for any child going through cancer treatments. This is a book I’d recommend for kids and adults to read—and to understand.
This is a sweet story about a caterpillar named Matilda and her friends. She immediately wants to fly, but is given the advice to be patient and keep trying– when she can’t. The book is illustrated by the author and that adds another level of depth to the book. The story has a lesson that not only kids can learn from, but also the adults who read the book with them. I can’t wait to give this to my grandchildren and will enjoy our reading time together with this delightful tale!
This is a sweet children’s story about two fish, Ray and Roxy, who live in the ocean. The fish duo who go too far into the ocean, get caught in a fisherman’s net, and almost get eaten by a bigger fish find they need to depend on their friendship and love to survive. They learn some important lessons on their adventures—including believing in yourself. It is a good message for children and the adults reading along with them. I bought this for my grand-kids and can’t wait to read it with them!
by WJ Scott
This is an interactive book for kids who want to be writers or love to create. It opens with some writing suggestions, then has 13 pictures with a tagline to provide a starting point. I love the Halloween theme that includes a black cat, a witch and other “spooky” prompts. This would be good in a classroom or at home. I bought this for my grand-kids and plan to enjoy it with them. Great idea!
“Friends: An African Adventure” is the second book in the Fauna Park Tale series I have bought for my grand-kids. It’s an exotic tale set in an African desert and told through a bird’s perspective, Hope. The characters are fully developed and engaging, while the artwork provided by Ms. Botha is heartfelt. Flame the dog gives the reader an example of protecting those who can’t protect themselves– and what friendship and bravery are. He keeps his promise to be a hero. Another Fauna Park Tale I will enjoy reading with my grand-kids!
I bought this book to give as a gift to my grandchildren. Reading through the book before giving it to them, I found it taught me a few things, too. First, I had no idea a tangram is a seven-piece puzzle with specific shapes. A pattern is provided to cut out and get started along with the history of it. There are many ways to put the pieces together, but the book supplies shapes to make– with clues or riddles as to what they are. Although, this is a very clever and educational book for children, I appreciated the added bonus that an adult can sit down and enjoy it with the kids!
“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
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!
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!
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!
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” 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!
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!
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.
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!
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.