December Book Reviews Part 3! @Virgilante @teagangeneviene @JacqBiggar @YvetteMCalleiro @1rburkey @pursoot #bookreviews #whattoread #mustread #writingcommunity

Wreck of the Lanternfish

(The Lanternfish #3)

by C.S. Boyack

“Wreck of the Lanternfish” is the final book of the Lanternfish Series. Although I was sad to see this thrilling story come to an end, I loved seeing James Cuttler take one more journey to the sea. He risks everything to step back into the war that his friends are still fighting. The battles are shown through different perspectives, including Serang. My favorite characters, the root monsters, were back. Their “I I I I” always made me smile. This story not only touches on pulling communities apart, but how to put them back together. Battles on land and sea showcase how clever leaders can outwit their foe. This is a world and characters that I won’t forget anytime soon. Lanternfish is a series I can highly recommend, especially if you love exciting stories with pirates, love, greed, and great characters. But start from the beginning and don’t miss the companion book. You won’t want to miss any part of this exciting tale!


Dead of Winter: Journey 11, The Sumelazon Escarpment

by Teagan Riordain Geneviene

Emlyn’s journey continues as she learns and grows, and there are Gethin’s experiences mixed in. I loved the direction that was taken on all the fronts of “The Sumelazon Escarpment.” It was nice to catch my breath and get to immerse into the city and story, especially through Emlyn’s eyes. I liked how well the plot and cover tied together, and the women had a moment to enjoy a bit of fashion. Even though there were some nice interactions, there is still that under-matched fight looming. Another good journey and I can’t wait to see where it takes us next. I can highly recommend this read but start this exciting tale from the beginning.


Love, Me: A Christmas Wish Novel

by Jacquie Biggar

“Love Me” is a wonderful holiday read about a mother and her daughter fighting cancer. Grace and Cassie move to a new town to try an experimental treatment, and luckily an anonymous donor covers the expenses. Grace finds a job at Cassie’s school while Cassie finds a new best friend. I love how the story is told from both the mother and daughter’s POV. Cassie wants a puppy for Christmas, but she decides her mother needs a companion if something happens to her. It’s a story that tugged on my heart, thinking about a little girl battling for her life when she should be playing and having fun. Her strength and caring shine throughout the story as a powerful symbol of love, and the mother, having lived through so much loss and heartache, keeps going for her daughter. I could feel the emotion behind Cassie because her character is based on an amazing young girl on social media who is fighting this battle. This was a heartwarming romantic story that didn’t back down from the reality of childhood leukemia. I highly recommend this!


HYPE

by Yvette M. Calleiro

“HYPE” is a YA story centered on Cici’s life at home and school. She is a popular co-captain of the cheering squad, and her boyfriend is the quarterback on the football team. Everything is perfect in her world, except her dislike of her co-captain, Nicole. But everything changes when her mother remarries, and she gets not only a stepdad but a new stepsister that everyone avoids at school. Cici’s POV is direct and takes the reader into her world. She can be shallow but has her world figured out until she doesn’t. Halfway through the story, there is a betrayal and horrible event that is painful to read, and my heart went out to Cici. Although Cici is a strong character that I was rooting for, I loved her stepsister Gaby/Grub’s complexity. How Cici’s relationships grow and change is skillfully reflected in what is happening in her life. This is a good read for not only YA readers but adults too. I highly recommend it.


Hot Chocolate

by Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey

“Hot Chocolate” is a sweet short story about a family and their holiday traditions. Jacob, Petra, and their son JW are a family I enjoyed getting to know. The parents have a tradition of surprising each other with their Christmas gifts and teasing how much they will like their present. I love the surprise at the end and the love this family shared. This is a wonderful holiday read!


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!


Our writing community lost a brilliant writer and amazing human being a few weeks ago, Suzanne Burke. She had a wonderful sense of humor, a kind heart, and a great outlook on life. I found out about her passing during my vacation.


So, I offered a red hibiscus flower to the Pacific Ocean in her honor. I like to think it’s floating among the spinner dolphins, and she’s looking down at this with a huge smile.

In memory of Suzanne, check out her Amazon page here. Her memoir, Empty Chairs,  is a read you will never forget.


NOTE: This will be my last formal Sunday post of the year and my Monthly Newsletter was sent out today to your email if you are subscribed.  Tomorrow watch for Books That Changed Me Winter Edition.

After that, I’ll be taking some time off to be with family and enjoy the holidays.

The only exception to my time off is I have a post over on Story Empire on December 27th.

Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays! May 2022 be the happy year we are all searching for 🙂

Embrace that inner child by reading a good book and enjoying your blessings! D. L. Finn

New Release! “Wreck of the Lanterfish” by C. S. Boyack @Virgilante #newrelease #whattoread #writingcommunity #mustread

I’m thrilled to welcome fellow Story Empire Author, C. S. Boyack here today to celebrate the release of Wreck of Lanternfish. I’ve been looking forward to the final book in this series and here’s my review.

Thanks so much for lending me your space today. Spreading the word about a new book is so important. Today is all about concluding my Lanternfish trilogy with ‘Wreck of the Lanternfish.’

Somehow, I wound up with a theme behind these stories. I tried not to make it obvious, but fatherhood became something I kept going back to. It all started with James being forced into trying to start a war with the neighboring country.

Turns out James’s father was a somewhat shady character who did similar things. The only reference James had were stories his father told him as he grew up. Early on, he was forced to rely upon his father’s advice.

Dan is James’s best friend, and later brother-in-law. His father is still alive, and lends his own teachings here and there. It seems simple enough, but there’s more to it.

The two of them rescued a slave who turns out to be a witch doctor. Mal fills a fatherhood role for James as he turns to piracy to save the woman he loves. In that event, they rescue Mal’s own son as a bonus.

The crew gets saddled with a boy they call Mule. This involves retrieval of a magical item, but the price is taking the boy with them. James becomes his adopted father, and does the best he can for Mule.

Serang has her own daddy issues. She grew up without a father, but there were male tutors at the monastery. If you dive into her supporting story, there is one monk that serves as much as a father as he does her master.

Even such supporting characters as Don Velasco have a history with their fathers that shaped who they are today.

I never set out to do this, but I’m pleased with it. Fantasy/Adventures aren’t known for deeper themes, and I claim dumb luck. Luck doesn’t get enough credit sometimes.

Hoist the colors and wheel out the guns one more time. It’s time to bring this trilogy to a conclusion.

Wreck of the Lanternfish purchase link 

Trilogy link

Blurb:

James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious pirate Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.

A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.

He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war, if he’s not already too late.

James will have to merge the skills of commander and con man into something new to make this work. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.

Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercenary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by both sides of the war, she appears as a third combatant on the battlefield. She may eliminate the mysterious order, only to succumb to the demons of her own tragic past.

Strap on your swords and hoist the colors one more time as the thrilling Lanternfish Trilogy comes to an end.

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October Book Reviews Part 2! @teagangeneviene @Virgilante @JacqBiggar #writingcommunity #whattoread #bookreviews #indieauthors #goodreading

cover for The Yak Guy Project

Dead of Winter: Journey 9, Doors of Attunement

by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Journey 9 takes Emlyn, Osabide, and Fotia/Zasha into a new place called the Other Realm. They hope to restore Zasha in this strange place. Here, they find three doors and have to pick the right one. I love how Emlyn is starting to trust herself more, which includes her intuition. The setting and surroundings are a vital part of this story, along with the beings they run into. While the trio explores, an army is massing — which hints at what is coming. I can’t wait for the next installment. Five-Stars!


The Yak Guy Project

by C.S. Boyack

“The Yak Guy Project” takes Ted on a spiritual journey in a strange world. Ted wakes up, not knowing what happened to him. A talking Yak becomes Ted’s guide as he learns his selfish ways of the past won’t work where he is. Ted was a character that I rooted for, but he also frustrated me with some of his decisions. I could see The Fool’s Journey from the Tarot in Ted like the author had compared him to. This story had me not only invested in whether Ted could learn and grow, but the world he found himself in captivated me. It was a place where technology had gone wrong many years before, and they were back to living on the land. There were many well-placed layers with life lessons, humor, war, and relationships that made this a read that I couldn’t put down. Five-Stars!


Maggie’s Revenge (Wounded Hearts #6)

by Jacquie Biggar

I have read and enjoyed the first five books of the Wounded Hearts series, but I’ve been eager since book two to find out what happened to Maggie. She has been undercover for the DEA but then was put into horrible conditions with the other women sold into sex trafficking by cartel leader, Chenglei. Back home, her partner, Adam, hadn’t given up hope of finding her. Adam joins forces with his boss, Amanda, and Ex-Seal Frank in that search. Maggie is an amazing character. She is strong, funny, determined, and caring. I like her interactions with the other women and how she can take care of them and herself. I could feel the heat of the desert or the blinding rays of the sun in the richly written settings. This is my favorite of the series so far and one that I kept reading just one more chapter until I was done. I can’t wait to continue to “The Seal’s Temptation” to see what happens next! I highly recommend “Maggie’s Revenge” and the entire series. Five-Stars!


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!


Oops, I spoke too soon, sorry! Next week will be October Book Reviews Part #3, and then two Personal Short Story Challenges will follow.


Even when the power is out, you can read a great book and embrace your inner child! D. L. Finn

“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