“2021 Books That Changed Me: Summer Edition” @startrailsIV @harmony_kent @Virgilante @CynthiaSReyes #ASMSG #WritingCommunity #MustReads #BooksThatChangedMe

Summer has already arrived with the hot temperatures and the grandkids running through the sprinklers to cool off! It’s the longest day of the year to enjoy the sunny weather, but there’s still time to treasure the stars when the sun finally sets.

This was a time of year when I read more as a child, and I still look forward to it as an adult even though I’m not on vacation all summer. In the heat of the day, sometimes, the best thing to do is pick up a book and find a nice cool spot by the water to enjoy reading it! With summer arriving, it also the time for my “Books That Changed Me: Summer Edition.”

Happy Summer, and Summer Solstice!

The books are listed in no particular order. I’m still offering the book’s blurbs over my reviews because this is about the books, not my reviews—although I do add some of my thoughts!

***

The Vanished Boy took on not only a mother’s fear of a son gone missing but the realization that she didn’t know her son as she thought. This was a perfectly paced story that held on to my emotions and kept me guessing until the reveal. This is a book—and a mother—I’ll never forget.

THE VANISHED BOY

by Harmony Kent

It’s so remote out here. Anything could happen …

A missed phone call in the night is all it takes.

When Carole’s 18-year-old son goes missing, she breaks into Jayden’s laptop to try to understand his life.

All too soon, Carole discovers just how little she knew her boy.

And when one lead after another dead-ends, the distraught mother has to face the unthinkable.

Sucked into a sticky web of deceit and lies, nothing is as it seems.

When your life turns inside out and upside down, who would you trust? 

***

The Curse of the Dead Horse Canyon was a book that I couldn’t read fast enough, yet I didn’t want it to end either. I loved that the story was co-authored.  It made for a perfectly blended mystery, setting, well-rounded characters, history, and learning about the Cheyenne Culture. It’s a journey I’m eager to continue.

THE CURSE OF DEAD HORSE CANYON: CHEYENNE SPIRITS (DEAD HORSE CANYON #1)

by Marcha A. Fox and Pete Risingsun

In 1878 a drunken hoard of silver miners raided a Cheyenne village while the tribe’s warriors hunted buffalo. A small band of young braves, not yet old enough to join the hunt, escaped and rode for help. Their efforts failed when they were discovered by the raiders, who ran them over a cliff along with all the tribe’s horses that had been left behind.

When the warriors returned and found the devastation, the tribe’s medicine man, Black Cloud, placed a curse on the site.

A century and a half later, a scandalous Top Secret project is under construction in the same Colorado wilderness. Bryan Reynolds discovers that its roots lie in the same greed, corruption, and exploitation of the Earth that precipitated the curse.

But before he can expose what he’s found, he’s killed in a suspicious accident that his wife, Sara, miraculously survives. Her memory of where they were or what they’d discovered, however, is gone.

Neither Sara nor Bryan’s life-long Cheyenne friend, Charlie Littlewolf, will rest until they find out what Bryan discovered that resulted in his death.

Charlie is acutely aware that the only way to solve the mystery is through connecting with the grandfather spirits. To do so he must return to his roots and the teachings of his medicine man grandfather. His journey back to the Cheyenne way includes ancient rituals and ceremonies that guide him and Sara to the answers they seek.

As a descendant of Black Cloud, his destiny is deeply embedded in the fulfillment of the original curse, which was triggered by the scandalous government project Bryan discovered. Charlie’s quest has only just begun.

A government conspiracy lies at the core of the story, though this first volume of the trilogy concentrates on Sara and Charlie discovering what Bryan knew that got him killed.

Modern man’s disregard for the environment, which conflicts with Native American philosophies of animism and of honoring the Earth, plays an important part. Past pollution caused by 19th century mining is inherent to the story as well as contemporary activities such as fracking.

Various paranormal and supernatural elements including detailed descriptions of Cheyenne rituals and ceremonies such as the sacred red pipe, ceremonial fasting, and the sweat lodge are included. The Cheyenne’s name for the Great Spirit is Maheo, who is referred to throughout. There are numerous other-worldly situations included, based on the experiences of the story’s Cheyenne co-author. While the story is fictitious, these depictions are authentic.

Modern technology plays a significant role in juxtaposition to traditional Native American elements. Astronomy as well as the ancient art and science of western astrology play roles as well in helping direct Sara and Charlie to the answers they need.

In essence this saga’s theme includes the collision of two disparate cultures and their respective attitudes toward the Earth, one of which is honor, the other exploitation.

These complexities are what expanded this story into a trilogy. Native American history is touched upon, but will be covered in greater detail in subsequent volumes.

***

Grinders is set in the future in one of my favorite cities, and where I spent a lot of time growing up, San Francisco. There were so many things to like, including amazing characters, the storyline felt possible, and there was the always present and appreciated humor. But what really stood out was the setting. Living in an apartment underwater with an octopus on the porch, a glowing forest that generated power, or having an AI running the house, were all things I could easily picture and want to be a part of it.

GRINDERS

by C.S. Boyack

Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

***

A charmingly illustrated children’s book that has an important lesson accept yourself and others for who they are, whether your shell is purple or green. This made a magnificent gift for my grandkids, and it’s gotten lots of use — and readings.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle

by Cynthia Reyes

Myrtle is a lovely Turtle. Not an ordinary Turtle. She is Purple and different from other turtles. After being bullied by another turtle, Myrtle tries to become someone else. In the end, Myrtle and her friends help children learn to not be afraid of being different. Myrtle the Purple Turtle is a thoroughly engaging story that stresses the importance of self-acceptance and friendship.

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers of human or furry children!

Note: The Tree Fairy Blog finishes up this week. I’ll post where they are visiting!

If you are subscribed to the newsletter, it goes out tomorrow:) Check your emails.

I had a wonderful vacation. I will share a bit about it next week.

Embrace your inner child by reading a good book! Happy Summer 🙂 D. L. Finn

 

 

June Book Reviews Part 2 @crystalnapolit2 @Virgilante @LBroday #ASMSG #WritingCommunity #bookreviews #mustread #indieauthors

Pink and Purple Bob

by Crystal Napolitano

I bought this book for my grandkids. I had planned to read the book before sharing it, but they found it first and insisted it be read to them. My son was visiting and volunteered, so I got the story read to me, which was a treat! Bob loves pink and purple so much that he’s sad if he doesn’t have it. His friend, the mouse, makes sure Bob has plenty of pink and purple, but it never seems to be enough. Then comes the lesson where Bob learns friends are much more important than things. The illustrations are colorful and inviting, and the words flowed nicely through rhyming. The pictures of the real Bob at the end caught my grandkid’s attention and mine. Bob has fans at our house, and I can easily recommend this book.


Lunar Boogie (The Hat #4)

by C.S. Boyack

“Lunar Boogie” is the fourth book in the Hat Series, but you don’t need to read the others to enjoy this exciting story. Lizzie and the hat are back with their usual banter, which always makes me smile. I was happy to see the band, Lizzie and the Pythons, playing in their venues, along with past characters who make an appearance, but there is a new killer on the loose that is soon named “Sausage Maker.” The first death occurs during a full moon, and all the authorities find is a few body parts and lots of blood. This catches Lizzie’s attention, but the hat tries to steer her away from investigating it. The story offers a second insight into these murders through a police officer, Yoder. I liked the added addition of a ghost watching over her beloved and the wisdom of a witch. This is a fast-paced read that hasn’t slowed down since the first book, “The Hat.” The mystery of who the werewolf was kept me guessing until the end, and I was wrong! This is a book and series I highly recommend.


A Cowboy of Legend (Lone Star Legends #1)

by Linda Broday

“A Cowboy of Legend” is a western romance and the first book I’ve read of Ms. Broday. Set in the late 1800s, Grace Legend lost a good friend killed by her drunk husband. She joins the woman’s movement to get alcohol out of their town. Here she meets a tavern owner, Deacon, and they immediately clash. When the woman’s group destroys all his supplies, Grace’s father steps in and replaces it but insists she works there to clean up the mess they made. I love the developing relationship between Grace and Deacon as their backgrounds slowly come to the surface. Although they disagree on everything, I love how they come together to help the homeless children that live around the tavern. The history of the woman’s movement for rights and a voice is nicely weaved into the story adding another dimension to the tale. Fast-paced with several side stories made this a book that was hard to put down.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series and recommend this if you’re a fan of western romance or just like a good story.


 

I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. It doesn’t feel right leaving a review in that case, but I have been known to email the author:) Life is too short not to enjoy every book you read!


NOTE: I will be on vacation this week. Although there will be a visitor here Monday on the blog—you won’t want to miss it. So, drop by and say hi!

Otherwise, I’ll be missing from social media and blogs unless I post a picture on Instagram. I hope to make it to the redwoods and ocean this week:)

Next week’s blog will be “Books That Changed Me: Summer Edition!”

Embrace that inner child by reading a good book! D. L. Finn

New Release “Lunar Boogie” by C. S. Boyack! @Virgilante #StoryEmpire #IndieAuthor #NewRelease #WhatToRead

I’m excited to welcome fellow Story Empire author, C. S. Boyack, here today to talk about his latest release, “Lunar Boogie. ”  I’ve loved the Hat Series, and couldn’t wait to dive into this great story. Here’s my review.

Thanks for lending me your space, Denise. I’m here to tell your fans about my newest publication, “Lunar Boogie.” This is book number four in The Hat Series. This is an ongoing series that uses the same main characters in subsequent tales. They are intended to be dark comedy.

I’ll let the cover and blurb do their jobs. Today, I want to talk about what comes next. This is kind of a standard blog tour topic, but it’s a fun one.

Lizzie St. Laurent is a regular twenty-something college dropout. She works hard to make ends meet. I paired her up with a creature from another dimension, known only as the hat. He has supernatural abilities, but they need each other to take advantage of them.

When they debuted in the first book, “The Hat,” it was very well received. This is my best seller, and has more reviews than any other. Many readers asked for sequels and the series was born. They also wanted to explore deeper into the witchcraft world presented in that story. This is something I also wanted to do, but it posed a little problem.

Lizzie is a regular girl. She’s also our point of view into all the strange things going on in this underground environment. This means she isn’t going to attend some school and learn all about witchcraft. She has to observe it as an outsider, and the readers do too.

I wanted Lizzie to get some seasoning before I returned to that environment. After four unique adventures, it’s time to get on with it. The next book in the series will be called “Good Liniment,” and it’s going to take a deep dive into the world of witchcraft.

This will include a bunch of new characters, but they’re going to be unique enough that readers will remember them. As the series grows, I want to have a pool of characters that can appear in future stories.

This poses a challenge for me, because one of my goals is that readers can pick up any volume and enjoy the story without prerequisite reading. I don’t know if I can keep pulling that off, but have every intention to try. It requires a small introduction for the recurring characters, but, as long as it isn’t obtrusive, long term readers might appreciate the reminders. I don’t mind a good challenge, but I can only produce about one of these per year.

Today, you have “Lunar Boogie” to check out. It’s brand spankin’ new, and I’d appreciate some readers and reviews to give it a good launch.

Stick with me, because I have about four more storyboards going in this series, and two of them are ready to write today.

***

Lizzie and the hat are back in action, only this time they’re up against the most tragic monster of all, a werewolf.

This adventure is more like hunting an animal, and the werewolf is unlikely to come to any of their musical performances. This puts Lizzie out in the dark corners and wooded areas of the city. It may be more beneficial to get the monster to hunt Lizzie than to stalk him on his own turf. All she has to do is be quicker on the trigger than the wolf is on his feet.

At the same time, the police think they’re after a serial killer. Lizzie tries to keep them alive while also keeping them out of her way. As the body count rises, so do the pressures. It doesn’t help that people are blaming Lizzie and the hat for the killings. This involves an urban myth about them that the locals call Hellpox.

Pull on your boogie shoes and join the hunt. Designed as an afternoon read, this one is tons of supernatural fun.

PURCHASE LINK