January Book Reviews! @Lizzie_Chantree @PatFurstenberg @JacqBiggar @teagangeneviene #writingcommunity #whattoread #whatyoushouldbereading #bookreviews

Dead of Winter: Journey 12, Goddesses

by Teagan Riordain Geneviene

“Goddesses” is an exciting journey. I love the introduction of the Goddesses at this point of the story. This adds in the light, or glow, in the darkness, but it’s not to say it’s all illumination either. I loved being in the moment with Emlyn on the rooftop and the landscape flowing out before her where she could see the veil’s breach. All the characters seem to be where they’re needed now, and I’m eagerly awaiting to see what comes from this impending battle. Another great installment!


A Magical Christmas: A Gambling Hearts Short Story 

by Jacquie Biggar

Madeline haunts the place where she used to be so happy. A little girl, Pippa, goes missing. This woman from the past may be the only thing to find and help this child. I haven’t read any of the Gambling Hearts series, but I will after reading this charming short story. I want to know more about this clan, especially the frantic family searching for Pippa. This was a sweet holiday mixture of the past and present that I thoroughly enjoyed reading!


Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories

by Patricia Furstenberg

“Transylvania’s History A to Z” was a fun way to learn the history of Transylvania, Romania. There were 100-word fictional stories to showcase a certain period, along with a more detailed follow-up and picture. This brought the past to life for me in an interesting way, and I could easily imagine life from the story in a limited word format. The Paleolithic Period, Saxons, Vlad lll, or WWl were some of the time frames covered. I don’t have a favorite because I enjoyed learning about all of it. This also includes where some Transylvanian words came from—which I appreciated. This is a quick read that captured my attention. I can easily recommend it to anyone interested in history.


The woman who felt invisible

by Lizzie Chantree

“The woman who felt invisible” was a fun read with a few surprising twists. Olivia was barely making ends meet working as a stationary supervisor and dog sitter. She is leading an uneventful life, but it isn’t as it seems. Olivia is suspected of being a criminal by a handsome police officer, while her best friend Darius wants more than friendship. Being lonely, she makes a new friend and comes out of her self-imposed shell. I like all the relationships Olivia develops, but it’s the undercurrent that’s woven into the story that makes it so interesting. The plot kept me guessing until the end when all was revealed, but it also left me with a few questions to ponder. I enjoyed getting to know Olivia. This is a fast-paced read with several secrets mixed in and I loved how the main character found her strength.


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!

Embrace your inner child in 2022 by reading a great book! D. L. Finn

Books That Changed Me—2021 Winter Edition! @JanSikes3 @JoanHallWrites @JacqBiggar @Sandra_Cox #writingcommunity #mustreads #fivestarbooks

snowy driveway
Our shed on a snowy day ten years ago.

Winter has arrived with the shortest day of the year. The icy air permeates the walls, and there is nothing quite like cuddling under a blanket to read during the long nights. The busy holidays are here, but I still carve out that time to lose myself in a wonderful story.

It’s always hard to pick three or four books from the many I read and enjoy, but these stories have left me changed after reading them. They introduced me to a new world, and I fell in love with the characters. I want to visit some of these places. They are books you can’t put down, and so good you forget you are reading. They put you right into the story.

Here are my choices this time around. I’m sharing the blurb and my review that has been on my blog before but is worth showing again. These are books to curl up by a warm fire and sip hot chocolate or mulled wine.

BLURB

New husband, new house, new town… and a new mystery to solve.

Tami Montgomery thought her police chief husband was going to be the only investigator in the family when she gave up her journalism career and moved with him to Madeira, New Mexico.

But after the historical society asks her to write stories for a book celebrating the town’s one-hundred fiftieth year, she becomes embroiled in a new mystery. If she can’t solve this one, she could lose everything. Her research uncovers a spate of untimely deaths of local law enforcement officials. Further digging reveals a common link—they all lived in the house she and Jason now share.

Tami isn’t a superstitious person, but the circumstances are too similar for coincidence. Then she unearths an even more disturbing pattern. And if history repeats itself, Jason will be the next to die.

My Review

I read the prequel to this story, “House of Sorrow,” and loved that, so I was eager to read the first book in the Legends of Madeira Series. Jason and Tami Montgomery left Driscoll Lake for Jason’s new job as the town’s police chief in Madeira, New Mexico. They buy the house that was in the prequel and quickly settled into the small, mostly welcoming town. It was nice to see characters from the Driscoll Lake series, but unnecessary to have read those books to appreciate this story. I enjoyed Jason’s growth and how he approached his new job. Tami immediately made friends and got involved in the town’s historical society that was doing a book on the town’s history.

Tami, who had been a journalist, jumped right into her part of researching past police chiefs. She soon found herself looking for more answers as she dug deeper into the murder mystery of two of these chiefs. I loved the characters, and Madeira was a place I’d like to visit. Many subplots were woven in that added an extra depth to the story. Tami was a favorite character, as was the neighborhood’s stray cat, Oscar. There was a mystery to be solved, and it appeared Jason was in danger. I had a few guesses and changed my mind more than once, but finally, by the end. I realized who it was, but not why. I love the use of legends, history, and psychic abilities mixed in with well-rounded characters and a mystery that goes back over one hundred years. This is a nicely paced read that I can highly recommend.

LINK


BLURB

Will a Christmas wish bring two lonely hearts together and give a little girl the family she’s always wanted?

Single parent, Grace Donovan arrives in the small town of Emerson with the hope a trial program at the local cancer clinic will be the answer to prolonging her young daughter’s life. She doesn’t expect to fall for her handsome boss.
As principal of Emerson Elementary, Kyle Roberts is aware of the students’ medical issues and his heart goes out to little Cassie Donovan and her mother. When he learns Grace needs a job, he fabricates a childcare program, and is pleasantly surprised by its success. Now, if only he could help Cassie’s recovery and get Grace to give him a chance before she learns of his duplicity.
Cassie Donovan barely remembers the father who died when she was just a toddler, but she does know her mother is sad. Even though Cassie wants a puppy more than anything, she gives up her wish to ask for a daddy from Santa Claus, that way if she gets sick again, Mommy won’t be alone.

This Christmas, two families are brought together by a Christmas wish and a child’s need for a miracle.

My Review

“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!

LINK


BLURB

A modern day, shapeshifting sheriff.
He’s the sheriff of a sparsely populated county in Montana. His blood brother and childhood best friend is Chief of Police on the Blackfoot Reservation, but they no longer speak. His deputy is a southern transplant with the body of a high-priced call girl, a voice of honey and mouth of a trucker. And if that’s not enough, he’s got a secret that would stun those that know him best. Other than that, it’s business as usual for Sheriff Mateo Grey.

My Review

“Mateo’s Law” is an exciting paranormal, western romance that I read in two sittings. It is set in a small town in Montana, where Blair moved to join the force as a deputy. She is in a long-distance relationship but is attracted to the sheriff, Mateo. When something attacks a town resident, they investigate it together, but Blair is unaware of Mateo’s secret of being a shapeshifter. I love it when Mateo is in his alternative form, and I felt his freedom. The scenery is lush and the town a place I’d want to call home. Blair and Mateo have great chemistry, conversations, and working relationship. I was definitely rooting for Blair and Mateo and hope more stories are coming with these characters. If you love a paranormal page-turning romance, you won’t want to miss this!

LINK


Mountain Laurel Christmas

by Jan Sikes

BLURB

Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner’s cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain.
Daring to follow an impossible dream, he’s made it big in the music business. Now, he’s a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

It’s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasn’t delivered on a promise he made to his father.

It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family?

My Review

“Mountain Laurel Christmas” is a perfect holiday read. Cole Knight has gone from having everything taken from him as a child to becoming a huge country star who has everything. Yet, the emptiness from when he was a young boy can’t be filled with money, fame, or drinking. One night, Cole is overwhelmed and ends up at the place where he grew up. It’s here he searches for what’s missing and begins his journey to healing. The detail to the setting and music brought the story deeper, making me feel like a friend was sharing their story with me. Although a quick read, it is a reminder of what is important, especially during the holiday season. I highly recommend this heart-warming story that can be enjoyed any time of the year.

LINK


This is my final blog of the year. Happy Holidays!

 

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

December Book Reviews Part 1! @JanSikes3 @stacitroilo @JacqBiggar @Mark_Venturini @TPolen6 @Virgilante @MaeClair1 @harmony_kent @JoanHallWrites @PCZick @IreneAprile #whattoread #indieauthor #writingcommunity #mustread

Mountain Laurel Christmas

by Jan Sikes

“Mountain Laurel Christmas” is a perfect holiday read. Cole Knight has gone from having everything taken from him as a child to becoming a huge country star who has everything. Yet, the emptiness from when he was a young boy can’t be filled with money, fame, or drinking. One night, Cole is overwhelmed and ends up at the place where he grew up. It’s here he searches for what’s missing and begins his journey to healing. The detail to the setting and music brought the story deeper, making me feel like a friend was sharing their story with me. Although a quick read, it is a reminder of what is important, especially during the holiday season. I highly recommend this heart-warming story that can be enjoyed any time of the year.


Quantum Wanderlust

By Staci Troilo, Michele Jones, Joan Hall, Grace L. Reilly/ E. J. Lane, Mae Clair, P.C. Zick, Teri Polen, Irene Aprile, Harmony Kent, C.S. Boyack, Mark Venturini, Leigh Ann Beckett, and David MacPherson.

I was excited to see several of my favorite authors in this collection of time travel short stories. They didn’t disappoint, and I loved how each of them came up with a different idea to explore within the subject. What I like about anthologies is I’m introduced to writers that are new to me. “Quantum Wanderlust” offered some new authors I would enjoy reading again! This is a fun read that takes us to places beyond our daily lives.


My Baby Wrote Me A Letter

by Jacquie Biggar

“My Baby Wrote Me A Letter” is a quick read but layered with the emotions of Grace and her family. Grace is at the end of her pregnancy with her husband away on a mission, and she finds a letter tucked away in a family desk by a mother who she believed abandoned her family. Grace is a strong character who must face her past as her future is arriving. I love the relationship between the father and brothers and how the letter isn’t read all at once—they digest each bit of information before moving on. This is a short story I highly recommend!


No Such Luck

by Staci Troilo

When things get bad for Piper, she heads home. It’s here she runs into not only her best friend from high school, Jack but her crush, Tommy. Piper is a character who is likable even in her not-so-stellar moments. She maneuvers through what is real and the musings of a teenage girl. This is a quick read that I devoured in one sitting to see if she got her happily ever after. “No Such Luck” is a sweet novella that emphasizes what and who is important. A fantastic beginning to the new Keystone Couples Series that I can easily recommend.


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!

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

November Book Reviews Part 2! @TPolen6 @WriterMSmith @JacqBiggar #writingcommunity #whattoread #mustread #yourbooklist #bookreviews

Sarah

by Teri Polen

“Sarah” is a YA horror story centered on a seventeen-year-old boy, Cain, his friends, and his family. Cain, his mother, and his sister moved into a new house, and things started to happen. Doors open that shouldn’t be, and there are cold spots that Cain and his best friend, Finn, try to understand. I loved the best friend relationship between Cain and Finn and their life outside the haunted house. Cain’s girlfriend explores how patient he can be and how self-centered some people are. Cain’s little sister is sweet, and I love how he cares for her and his mother. Although, it is the ghost of Sarah that grows and changes the most in the story. It caught my attention, as she didn’t hesitate to show how she suffered. Watching a victim’s rage play out makes this a chilling read, while Cain and Finn try to solve the mystery. I enjoyed seeing the nod to the show “Supernatural” and thought about the show before it was even mentioned. A fast read that kept me guessing what the ghost, Cain, and his friends would do next.


Ella: A Romantic Novella

by Marlena Smith

Ella is the sweet story of a woman who’s just trying to get home after a terrible week. Her car breaks down at a small-town gas station, and a town local befriends her. She finds not only a place to stay but a welcoming town. I enjoy watching Hallmark movies, especially Christmas ones. They not only relax me but offer hope in the happily ever after. This story had the same feel, and I could see this town and people become a full-length book. I wanted to get to know them all better. A quick read that I enjoyed.


Secrets, Lies & Alibis

by Jacquie Biggar

I have finally caught up on the Wounded Heart Series. Book eight starts with what happened to Adam and Amanda. They are split up. Amanda has a new job and Adam a new partner, but what Adam doesn’t know is she is pregnant. When something happens that puts others in danger, Amanda must face Adam again. Amanda’s part has a lot of tension and second-guessing, while Adam attempts to break through that while investigating a person from his past. I like the introduction of Brianne, Adam’s attractive partner, and how she added to the mix. Cameron, Frank’s brother, started to open up about what happened to him years ago. While one door seems to shut by the end of the story, there are new possibilities that have opened where past and present situations spiral around the characters. This was a fast read, and I can’t wait for book nine to come out. Wounded Hearts is a series I highly recommend.


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!

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

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

October Book Reviews Part 1! @YouAreTheExpert @JacqBiggar @CathleenTowns #writingcommunity #bookreviews #whattoread #indieauthors #mustread #goodbooks

Son of BOOKU: more halloween haiku

by Annette Rochelle Aben

I’m a huge fan of Halloween and couldn’t pass up a book of Halloween haikus and pictures. Ms. Aben goes into the background of Halloween decorations and her sibling’s part in that. It’s pictures of the displays that are used to inspire the poetry. The poems were clever and had me laughing. Here’s one of them that was paired with a haunting decoration: “I met this vampire/said he hadn’t had a bite/offered him a stake.” This is a quick read to be slowly enjoyed. Reading this book got me into the Halloween mood. If you love poetry and Halloween, this collection is for you.


Summer Lovin’(Wounded Hearts #5)

by Jacquie Biggar

“Summer Lovin” is set in Tidal Falls like the four previous books in the series. Rebecca had a crush on Mitch back in high school. They ran into each other in Las Vegas and ended up married. Rebecca leaves the next morning, and they didn’t stay together. Five years later, they are still married and run into each other again in Tidal Falls. I love how she fights her obvious feelings for him and how Mitch is still there when she needs him. It’s great to see all the wonderful couples from past books and the interest they take in this couple. Although, it’s the side story that captures my heart of a young boy Rebecca runs into at the school she works. His story, and Rebecca’s concern, made this a fantastic read I didn’t want to put down. Another great addition to the Wounded Hearts series, and I can’t wait to move on to the next book!


Dragon Hoard and Other Tales of Faerie

by Cathleen Townsend

I started reading this with the plan to read one story before going to sleep, but I ended up reading the entire book instead. I don’t regret the missed slumber. A fantastic collection of short stories that offer a twist on classic stories or a modern take on the classics. I loved them all, but a few favorites were “Dragon Hoard,” “Teenage Driver,” and “Gargoyle.” Some tugged at my heart, others had me laughing, but all made the characters feel real in a fantasy world. A well-written collection that I can highly recommend!


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: You might notice a repeat review here today. That’s because these are my regular reviews, and Books That Changed Me is a special blog where books get showcased.

Read a great book this fall and embrace your inner child! D. L. Finn

 

September Book Reviews Part 2! @JacqBiggar @Marjorie_Mallon #writingcommunity #whattoread #mustread #indieauthors #bookreviews

 

Bloodstone (The Curse of Time, #1)

by M.J. Mallon

“Bloodstone” is a paranormal YA story that centers on 15-year-old Amelina. Her family life drastically changed after her father disappeared and then returned home a different man. Her once happy household was gone. When she gets an invitation to a mysterious place, she goes down a forbidden path by the river. Here she meets Ryder, who completely mesmerizes her after saving her from a robbery attempt. There were many great secondary characters, including her band members and cat, Shadow, but I think my favorite was Esme or the girl who lived in the mirror. There was a lot of depth in Esme, and the subject of self-harm was dealt with well. I’m a fan of rocks/crystals, so their importance in the story was a plus. The magic and darkness weaved into the plot of finding the truth contrasted with Amelina’s constant conflict. The poetry before each chapter was a nice addition, and I enjoyed the descriptive passages. The ending answered some questions, but not all. I look forward to reading the next book in this series to see what happens next. If you like a paranormal story told from a teen’s perspective who is not only finding herself but discovering her unique abilities, this is for you.


Twilight’s Encore (Wounded Hearts #3)

by Jacquie Biggar

I have enjoyed the first two books of Wounded Hearts, so I was happy to see them back in Tidal Falls planning a wedding. Katy left town ten years ago with her mother and leaving Ty broken-hearted. She is a doctor now, coming back to supervise her wedding plans to another man. The old theater is being redone for her nuptials, and the man doing it is Ty. Sparks immediately fly between Katy and Ty while someone is trying to disrupt the renovation of the old building. A secret surprised me, and there was a person with negative intentions toward Katy. Since this is set in basically the same time frame as book two, there is no update on what happened to Maggie, which didn’t take away from this story. Twilight’s Encore can easily be read without reading the first two books, but it’s better to have the background on the secondary characters. I’m eager to start the next book to see what happens next in this great series!


The Rebel’s Redemption (Wounded Hearts #2)

by Jacquie Biggar

I read and enjoyed the first book, “Tidal Falls,” where Annie and Jared caught my attention as secondary characters. Jared finally comes home for good after making some mistakes since leaving the SEALS. He reconnects with his mother and runs into his ex-best friend, Annie, or the woman he had a one-night stand with before leaving to join the service the next day. Jared had made many missteps in his past, but seeing Annie and her son brought back old feelings and guilt. But this reunion doesn’t go smoothly. His past is chasing him, putting those he loves in danger. There was a side plot with Maggie, a DEA agent, who was also introduced to in the first book. This part had me on the edge of my seat with the dangerous situation she was in. Not only is there a romance trying to rekindle between Annie and Jared with someone wanting revenge, but Maggie is trying to survive. This page-turner left one question answered, and another that needs to be explored in future books. If you like a good romantic thriller, this is for you!


NOTE: I’ve been quiet the past few days and haven’t been able to visit blogs or do my usual social media. My husband had a planned-rescheduled surgery Thursday and we were only given a few days’ notice. He’s doing well, but my attention and energy has been on his procedure and recovery. He has this week off to recoup and then things should go back to “normal.” Hugs xo

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!

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

January Book Reviews! @JacqBiggar @Virgilante @MaeClair1 @teagangeneviene @rhanidchae

One Dyke Cozy
by Rhani D’Chae 

“One Dyke Cozy” is a short story about two girls that became best friends at eight years old, Shy and Gabby. They are complete opposites but balance each other. These characters had me laughing and shedding a few tears. Not only did the story tug at my emotions, but it dove into a female’s role in society both straight and gay. Shy and Gabby’s interactions felt very real and I could empathize with the hangovers Gabby ended up with just as much as why she was drinking. I loved how the drink cozy, Mr. Happy, became a real part of this friendship. I highly recommend this!


Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam

by Teagan Riordain Geneviene

I’m already a fan of Ms. Geneviene, so I was excited to learn that “Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam” was about faeries. Thistledown is a place where faeries live, including Bedlam Thunder. It’s full of color, magic, and beauty. Bedlam has dark visions that not only get her kicked out of school but also affect her health and well-being. I love the little details not only in the scenery, but I can imagine how painful a wing injury would be.  The faery names always brought a smile to my face, and at the end of the story, you can create your faery name. The only downside was that there was repeat information that I found distracting while I was reading. Still, this story was a lot of fun, and it would be great to sit down and read with a child—or alone.


Eventide (Hode’s Hill #3)

by Mae Clair

I have loved this series and was looking forward to the final book. I have to say this was the best of all the stories, and that’s saying a lot. “Eventide” has everything I enjoy in a story, including a haunted house, graveyard, relationships, mystery, and great characters all offered in a dual timeline. I was rooting for not only Madison as she started over in a haunted house after a breakdown, but some ghosts, too. It was great to have past characters and their stories cross over into the current tale. There was plenty of mystery. Some of it I figured out, but there were a few surprises, too. I was happy to see how past romances were doing, but it was Madison’s determination that resonated deeply with me. The settings were poetically presented, which I appreciated, the characters were real with their flaws, and the paranormal believably frightening—what a great way to end a series. I highly recommend this book, but I suggest you go back and read all three so you don’t miss out on anything!


 

The Playground

by C.S. Boyack

“The Playground” is a story told through three points of view, Clovis, Chloe, and Gina. The one that chilled me the most was through the eyes of the little girl, Chloe. She gets a popular talking doll that interacts with her and the other dolls through its programming. This leads her down a dark path that I could easily see happening at some point in our future. Clovis is a hired killer after the programmer of these toys, who meets up with a dog who I immediately loved. The dog made Clovis more likable, even with his tough exterior. Then there is Dr. Gina Greybill who is a caretaker and is thrown into the paranormal. This character was hard to warm up to at first, but by the end, I was all in. Evil is the thread that weaves through this story, along with greed. This is a clever, chilling what-if with a paranormal twist that made for a page-turning read.


 Silver Bells

by Jacquie Biggar

“Silver Bells” is a quick holiday read I finished in one night! Christie and her daughter, Kelly, move to a coastal town in Canada to start over.  I love the relationship between Christie and her daughter while they handle Kelly’s diabetes. That adds another dimension to the story along with the new friend who helps with the daughter. The setting is charming, and I love that Christie’s an artist, but it’s the meeting of Joel, the novelist, that propels the story forward. At first, I didn’t like Joel on any level, but Christie’s attraction was strong and immediate. Then, as Joel steps outside of himself, with the help of his grandmother, I warmed up to him and their interactions. The relationship that develops between Joel and Kelly is endearing. This is a fun read by the Christmas tree, but it could be for any time of the year.

Embrace your inner child by reading a fantastic book this year! D. L. Finn

April Book Reviews @mhurdle112 @julieholmes2k13 @JennySundstedt @aprilataylor @startrailsIV @Jinlobify @JacqBiggar @Nicholas_Rossis

I read several short stories over the last few weeks, so there are more book reviews than normal:

A Heaven For Toasters: A Sci-Fi Crime Romance set on the Greek Islands

by Nicholas C. Rossis

I admit the quirky book title drew me in, but it’s the story that quickly made this a page-turner. Mika is a detective in the future and on a date in the Greek Islands. She runs into her new partner a handsome “AI” named Leo at an art exhibit. After a fight with her date, he leaves, and things go downhill quickly from there. I loved Leo “the Toaster” and his developing relationship with Mika. Not only is there action and a mystery to solve, but there are also questions brought up about what defines existence and life. I highly recommend this thought-provoking sci-fi romantic thriller.


Skating on Thin Ice (The Men of Warhawks #1)

by Jacquie Biggar

I’m a huge fan of hockey, mystery, and romance–“Skating on Thin Ice” had it all. I loved the little details weaved into the story about hockey, but it was the characters and story that held my interest. The storyline drew me right in, and I ended up finishing it in one sitting.  Mac took a hit during a game right before the playoffs and Samantha was assigned to help him recover. I loved the sparks between Mac and Sam and the danger that surrounded them. A quick paced story with a few surprises I wasn’t expecting. I thoroughly enjoyed this and toss my (Sharks) hat to the author. I will be reading the next book in the series.


VAGARIES OF LIFE AND: GIRLS’ TALK

by Joy Lo-Bamijoko

“Vagaries of Life and: Girls’ Talk” is an entertaining collection of short stories. I enjoyed the strong female characters that provided wonderful examples of bravery and faith. Some of the stories were set in Nigeria, which pulled me in. There were many different subjects including murder, kidnapping, mystery, faith, robbery, and relationships. Each story had a lesson weaved into it. “You Will Die if you Scream” left a chill behind because it could very well happen. This book was uniquely written, and I was invested in the outcome of each story. If you like learning about new cultures, resilient women, and inspirational themes, this is for you.

 


The Sapphiran Agenda (Star Trails Tetralogy)

by Marcha A. Fox

I loved “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51.” So, I was excited to read this short prequel to the story with Thyron the intelligent, mobile plant with telepathic abilities and a quick wit. Thyron is a favorite character of mine. In this well-written short story, he’s stuck on the planet Sapphira with a race of pygmies that worships his kind as gods. He gets a chance to leave or to rescue a human trapped on another planet, so he takes it. There are a few twists and turns in this story that kept me deeply engaged. “Beyond the Hidden Sky” is next on my list to read from this amazing author. I highly recommend this short prequel that can be enjoyed as a standalone.


Death Song of the Sea (Midnight Myths and Fairy Tales #2)

by April A. Taylor

This is a well-written short story set on the Ireland coast. Aileen only has her father after having lost the rest of her family to the ocean. She finally learns her father’s secret and embraces it. She still yearns for her true love to find her. A shipwreck brings her this love, but it comes with a price. I enjoyed the magic, ocean, and love in this tale. I highly recommend this story of love and the consequences of doing anything for it.


Vasilisa the Terrible: A Baba Yaga Story (Midnight Myths and Fairy Tales #1)

by April A. Taylor

I loved this well-written short story.  Vasilisa was beautiful and beloved by everyone, while Yaga was old and disliked. The twist in this tale was who the good person was between the two women. It’s a cautionary tale of looking beneath the surface and what’s inside. I enjoyed how it ended. This is a new author to me, and I will be reading more from Ms. Taylor!


When The Wolf Comes

By JENNY SUNDSTEDT

 Dana is a popular nurse in the ER. A woman she went to school with was admitted after an attack that Dana helped treat. Questions arise about who did it. The husband acts oddly, and the homeless man tells Dana strange things. Dana wisely avoids the area where the attack occurred. During this, she is questioning her relationship and her next step in life. I loved the setting and Dana’s interactions. It was well written, and I was pulled into the story quickly. Yet, there was no resolution at the end, because the story continues into a book. I will have to read the book now to find out what happens.


Songs of Heartstrings

by Miriam Hurdle

This is a collection of poems, photographs, and drawings that tell stories from Ms. Hurdle’s life. They include sitting in nature, giving birth, death, illness, and loss. Faith and being a survivor are strong themes throughout “Songs of Heartstring.” My favorite part was when the poetry connected to nature, but all the poems were heartfelt and lyrical. The tribute to the author’s parents was touching, along with the loss of a friend. The glimpse into dealing with cancer was inspiring. Although this was a quick read, it’s full of depth and can be enjoyed more than once. This is a book that poetry lovers will enjoy.


Murder in Plane Sight

by Julie Holmes

I’ve been waiting for Ms. Holmes debut novel and wasn’t disappointed! I love a good mystery, but along with that, there was romance and a strong female character. Sierra being an airline mechanic was fascinating and I enjoyed learning some of the details of what goes into keeping a plane flying. Those elements really brought Sierra to life for me, along with the burdens she carried from her past. The detective, Quinn, who was investigating the murder, was flawed from a past relationship. His determination to find the truth, even with his attraction to Sierra, made for an interesting internal conflict. I liked the chemistry between Sierra and Quinn, but I kept hoping they would take better care of themselves–sleep more. To find out what would happen next, I’d stay up way past my bedtime and end up being just as tired as the characters. I look forward to the next book in this series and recommend this new author.


Watch for a special edition blog this week!

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