The Necromancer’s Daughter Book Tour: Day 12

Welcome to Day 12 of The Necromancer’s Daughter’s Book Tour!

I hope you enjoy:

~ A lovely community of bloggers.

~ My favorite book from my host’s list, along with my review.

~ Something to make you smile. 

~ Something from or about The Necromancer’s Daughter (follow the link below).

~ Leave a comment on my hosts’ sites, and your name will be entered in an end-of-tour drawing for a $50 Amazon gift certificate. The more tour sites, the more entries!

Day 12, here we go!

Steven Baird’s Blog: Ordinary Handsome

There’s nothing ordinary about Steven’s blog. He doesn’t post often, but when he does, I’m soaking it up. Steven is a writer who shares stunning pieces of prose and poetry as well as peeks into his work in progress. He’s one of the authors I try to emulate. I drool a little over his lush imagery and the exquisite emotional depth of his work. His glimpses into character are breathtaking.

See what I mean… drooling again. Lol.

I’ve read everything Steven writes, and I hear there’s a new book floating around out there on the horizon. I can’t wait. Here’s my review of one of my all-time favorite books:

Ordinary Handsome by Steven Baird

My Review: I just finished this book and sit here collecting my thoughts. From the first page, I knew I had happened upon something special, something that would sweep me into the otherworld offered by a talented author and his beautifully written book.

The story is grim, about the dying lives that labor on in the dying town of Handsome, Oklahoma. Ghosts in a ghost town. The book follows ordinary men dealing with the epic struggles that shape human experience: love and death, failure, fathering, poverty, murder, and lost hope. It revolves around a young man, Euart Monroe Wasson, and the men who participate in the tragedy made of his life.

The narrative isn’t one to speed through. Baird writes with a style that requires one to pay attention. He slowly draws aside the veils that reveal the interconnection of each man’s story. I had the impression that I was piecing together a mosaic, the tale assembled from the shards of shattered lives, memories, impressions, and illusions.

The narrative is informal and appropriate to the rural landscape. At the same time, the writing is textured, rife with precise detail, stunning imagery, and raw emotion. Baird is a master at finding the perfect word and painting a picture that shifts and clears with each new perspective.

I highly recommend Ordinary Handsome to any reader who wants to get lost in an exquisitely written tale. This book will stick to your heart.

***

If you have a chance, head on over to join The Necromancer’s Daughter tour at Steven’s blog: Ordinary Handsome.

The Necromancer’s Daughter Book Tour: Day 10

Welcome to Day 10 of The Necromancer’s Daughter’s Book Tour!

I hope you enjoy:

~ A lovely community of bloggers.

~ My favorite book from my host’s list, along with my review.

~ Something to make you smile. 

~ Something from or about The Necromancer’s Daughter (follow the link below).

~ Leave a comment on my hosts’ sites, and your name will be entered in an end-of-tour drawing for a $50 Amazon gift certificate. The more tour sites, the more entries!

Day 10, here we go!

Balroop Singh’s Blog: Emotional Shadows

If you head over to Balroop’s blog, you’ll find beautiful poetry, often with accompanying imagery. She writes free-form poetry as well as structured poems, including syllabic styles. Balroop is prolific. She responds to weekly challenges, and her poems, though often light and airy, also swing to dark and emotional. Balroop is generous in her support of the writing community, hosting tours and sharing her thoughtful reviews.

Balroop has published seven extensive poetry collections, and I’ve read them all. She also has three self-help books from earlier in her publishing career.

A review of her latest collection:

Hues of Hope by Balroop Singh

My Review: Singh’s latest collection of free-form poetry includes about 100 poems on the subject of hope. They cover a wide range of perspectives, emotions, and sources of hope, found within us as well as out in the world. The hope found in nature, in memories, and in love are prevalent in the first three sections of the book.

In the second half of the collection, hope becomes more complex and entangled with pain, disappointment, and longing, among other less cheery emotions and experiences. It was within these more nuanced explorations that I found some of my favorite poems.

A few memorable poems were “I Have Understood”, “I Know You!” and “Now I Understand You!” Below are the first three stanzas of “Who Are You” from the section Beams of Love:

Who Are You?

Once again dusk descended
Alone she sat in deep thought
One more gorge
That seemed to devour her.

Love entered from the back door
Sat by her side and smiled
She couldn’t recognize the stranger
So she asked: “Who are you?”

“You knew me at birth
You stretched your arms
For me, you cried
When I didn’t embrace you…

Highly recommended to readers who enjoy free-form poetry around a complex theme, including the light and whimsical as well as the poignant and painful.

***

If you have a chance, head on over to join The Necromancer’s Daughter tour at Balroop’s blog: Emotional Shadows.

The Necromancer’s Daughter Book Tour: Day 8

Welcome to Day 8 of The Necromancer’s Daughter’s Book Tour!

I hope you enjoy:

~ A lovely community of bloggers.

~ My favorite book from my host’s list, along with my review.

~ Something to make you smile. 

~ Something short and different about The Necromancer’s Daughter (follow the link below).

~ Leave a comment on my hosts’ sites, and your name will be entered in an end-of-tour drawing for a $50 Amazon gift certificate. The more tour sites, the more entries!

Day 8, here we go!

Marcia Meara’s Blog: The Write Stuff

Marcia’s blog is a great place to be a guest, much like I am today. In fact, her logline is “Writers helping writers.” She offers her site for Guest Post Tuesdays, and she runs some wonderful features like Ten Things You May Not Know About (blogger), and First Line Fridays. She shares some great humor every week as well as updates on her projects and life in general.

She’s also a writer of some outstanding books (Wake Robin Ridge series and Riverbend series) mostly suspenseful thrillers with a bit of the paranormal thrown in. She’ll make you fall in love with her characters. Naturally, I’ve read all her books!

Here’s my review of an all-time favorite:

A Boy Named Rabbit by Marcia Meara

My Review: I fell in love with a little boy named Rabbit. OMG. This book is so wonderful, I can’t recommend it enough. Rabbit is ten years old, and for his entire life, he’s lived in the deep forest of the Blue Ridge Mountains with his grandparents. They took him there when he was a baby to keep him safe from the “bad people.” When his grandparents die, he starts a solo journey to find a place he belongs.

Rabbit enters the lives of Sarah and Mac Cole and what follows is a story of love, loss, and discovery as Rabbit learns about a whole new world. He’s never seen electricity in action or ridden in a car or listened to music! He’s an amazing character—inquisitive, funny, heartbroken, and wise beyond his years. As Rabbit transforms, the characters around him transform as well.

There’s danger in this book, a bit of paranormal “sight,” and kindness galore. My investment in Rabbit was intense, and I couldn’t stop rooting for him. Though Rabbit is the star of this literary show, the other characters are well-rounded and emotionally authentic. The writing is exceptional with spot-on dialog and an excellent pace. I couldn’t put the book down and got all teary with happiness at the end.

Though this is Book 2 in the Wake-Robin Ridge series, I’m not sure it’s necessary to read Book 1 first, though it wouldn’t hurt. I enjoyed that book too. Interested in something thoroughly original, engaging, and tender? A Boy Named Rabbit will steal your heart.

***

If you have a chance, head on over to join The Necromancer’s Daughter tour at Marcia’s blog: The Write Stuff.

The Necromancer’s Daughter Book Tour: Day 7

Welcome to Day 7 of The Necromancer’s Daughter’s Book Tour!

I hope you enjoy:

~ A lovely community of bloggers. My hosts are bloggers who are always willing to lend a hand, share a laugh, and build a friendship.

~ My favorite book from my host’s list, along with my review.

~ Something to make you smile. 

~ Something short and different about The Necromancer’s Daughter (follow the link below).

~ Leave a comment on my hosts’ sites, and your name will be entered in an end-of-tour drawing for a $50 Amazon gift certificate. The more tour sites, the more entries!

Day 7, here we go!

Jacqui Murray’s Blog: Word Dreams

Jacqui’s popular blog is a wonderful resource for writers. She’s a voracious reader and reviewer of indie books, and she posts all kinds of writing tips including technical solutions, genre information, and lists of descriptive words, to name a few.

She’s also a writer, and though she’s written modern-day suspense novels, she’s since found her niche in the fascinating genre of prehistoric fiction with trilogies taking place at 850,000 and 1.8 million years ago. Her research shines and the stories are nothing like anything I’ve read before. Needless to say, I’ve read all of her books!

I’m currently reading an advanced copy of Natural Selection (Dawn of Humanity, Book 3). Here’s my review of Book One and a great place to start:

Born in a Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray

My Review: Move over Jean Auel (Clan of the Cave Bear) for Jacqui Murray. I went to bed right after dinner last night because I had to finish this book and would have stayed up all night to do it. What a fabulous read.

Born in a Treacherous Time takes place at the very start of mankind’s development – we are inventive, communal, thoughtful, emotional beings, but still deeply rooted in our animal origins, fully integrated into the harsh volcanic landscape and with the creatures who share our world. Survival is an ongoing challenge and hunger a constant companion. Overlaying the struggles of daily life is the threat of man-who-preys, the next generation of mankind.

The story follows Lucy (Woo-See) through a period of years. She’s a strong character, a healer, and a hunter who’s eager to learn new skills that make her an asset to her group as well as an outsider. There are a number of compelling characters, fully developed and distinct, with a wide range of personalities.

No doubt, Murray did her research, but so little is known about this time, that I’m certain she had to employ her imagination as well. The world-building is meticulous. Murray deftly presents a world as seen through the eyes of those who inhabit it. She created words (and hand signals) to describe the landscape based on the characters’ observations: “Night Sun” instead of moon, “Fire Mountain” instead of volcano. Her attention to creating a logical and detailed reality is stunning. I was honestly enthralled.

The world-building extends to characters as well, and I loved that none of them had “modern” sensibilities that would have tainted the story’s believability. No one is squeamish about raw food or bodily functions, and death is viewed as a natural occurrence. The characters have many of the natural abilities and acute senses of the animals living around them, yet unlike their animal cousins, their understanding of the world grows with each experience.

Best of all, as a reader I became quite attached to these primitive humans, empathizing with their struggles, losses, and choices. There is a depth of emotion, spirit of community, and generous nobility that stretches through the hundreds of thousands of years to our current lives. A captivating book that I recommend to any reader who enjoys adventures, exquisite world-building, or works of historical fiction and prehistory.

***

If you have a chance, head on over to join The Necromancer’s Daughter tour at Jacqui’s blog: Word Dreams.

Calvin & Hobbes by Sam Watterson

The Necromancer’s Daughter Book Tour: Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of The Necromancer’s Daughter’s Book Tour!

I hope you enjoy:

~ A lovely community of bloggers. My hosts are bloggers who are always willing to lend a hand, share a laugh, and build a friendship.

~ My favorite book from my host’s list, along with my review.

~ Something to make you smile. 

~ Something short and different about The Necromancer’s Daughter (follow the link below).

~ Leave a comment on my hosts’ sites, and your name will be entered in an end-of-tour drawing for a $50 Amazon gift certificate. The more tour sites, the more entries!

Day 5, here we go!

Pete Springer’s Author Blog

Pete was an elementary school teacher for much/most of his working career, and it’s easy to see how much he loved his work. He’s a people-person, often sharing personal stories about kindness and the people who have made a difference in his life as well as the lives of others. It’s hard not to be inspired by Pete’s big heart.

He’s also the author of a book that shares the wisdom he gained from years of classroom experience. And I have the inside scoop that he has a middle-grade fiction book due out in the near future.

Here’s my review of Pete’s book about teaching:

They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher by Pete Springer

My Review: I was impressed with this highly accessible, entertaining, and informative read. A long-time educator, Springer shares his practical experience and the wisdom gleaned from working with children within the educational system. My impression was that the book is geared toward new teachers as it offers ideas about setting up a classroom, dealing with colleagues, administrators, students, and parents.

As an early childhood mental health counselor, I was most interested in Springer’s thoughts about discipline. I was glad to discover a thoughtful, holistic approach to children and their challenges in light of the stressors in their lives. Springer highlights a number of strategies that would be helpful to parents as well as to educators.

Most of the chapters provide concrete and anecdotal examples of Springer’s approach in action. He touches on cultural diversity, grief, problem-solving, and other life experiences that are part of a child’s broader education. My favorite chapters were Memorable Students and Funny Moments at School. These two chapters are testaments to his success as an educator as well as to the joy and value of teaching in general.

***

If you have a chance, head on over to join The Necromancer’s Daughter tour at Pete’s blog: Pete Springer’s Author Blog.

The Necromancer’s Daughter Book Tour: Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of The Necromancer’s Daughter’s Book Tour!

I hope that each tour stop offers something fresh and fun. Here’s what you can expect:

~ A lovely community of bloggers. My hosts are bloggers who are always willing to lend a hand, share a laugh, and build a friendship. Enjoy!

~ They’re talented too!  Before I send you off to each tour stop, I’ll share my favorite book from my host’s list along with my review. There’s room in your chubby kindle, right?

~ Something to make you smile.  I’ve been collecting memes and images to leave you with a grin.

~ You’ll find something short and different about The Necromancer’s Daughter: today, a short note about the inspiration for the book and the title. (Follow the link below).

~ And last but not least, if you comment on my host’s site, your name will be entered in an end-of-tour drawing for a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Multiply your chances by leaving a comment on each post of the tour.

Day 2, here we go!

Colleen Chesebro’s Wordcraft Poetry Blog

Colleen is one of those writers, poets, editors, and bloggers that makes me wonder where she finds time to sleep. Her poetry blog is ranked among the top ten at RankedBlogs.com!

Wordcraft Poetry is how I know her best. “Colleen created Word Craft Poetry as an uplifting community where poets can learn the basics of writing Japanese and American syllabic poetry by sharing their own poetic inspiration within a weekly poetry challenge.” It’s super fun to learn about the forms and participate in Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenges. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what she offers. Check out her site for book recommendations and flash fiction too.

I’ve read all of her books as well as the anthologies that she’s created with her Tanka Tuesday participants. Her work includes poetry, short stories, a YA novel, and a “must have” book for poets wishing to craft syllabic poetry, which I’ll share here:

Word Craft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry by Colleen Chesebro

My Review: This book is a must-have for writers of syllabic poetry. Chesebro has the experience and credentials to have crafted this easy-to-follow and detailed look at twelve forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry, as well as their variations. Styles range from the well-known haiku and tanka to the less familiar gogyohka and etheree. Though written for poets beginning their exploration of these beautiful forms, I learned quite a lot (and I’ve been writing several of the forms for years).

Chesebro’s explanations not only include the technical aspects of each poetic form, but a quick history, the style’s creative intent, and tips for finding inspiration and for writing. These aspects of each poetic form are conveyed in a concise manner, and each section is followed by examples of her poetry and the poetry of authors I’ve enjoyed for years. The poems not only illustrate the preceding lesson but are beautiful in their own right.

The quality of this book and its citations make it useful as a “textbook” on the craft of writing syllabic poetry, appropriate for academic settings. Chesebro’s conversational style, easy-to-understand explanations, and poetic selections also make it accessible to a wide range of learners. The book’s format lends itself to lesson planning for young poets.

Highly recommended to poets who are just starting out or who’ve been writing for years. An excellent learning tool filled with wonderful examples of the forms.

***

If you have a chance, head on over to join The Necromancer’s Daughter at Colleen’s blog: Wordcraft Poetry.

More August Book Reviews

The end of summer has arrived, and it’s time to wrap up August’s reads before the start of The Necromancer’s Daughter book tour.

But don’t worry, there won’t be a lack of book recommendations. For the next 2 months, I’ll be sharing my favorite books written by my tour hosts, a bunch of marvelously talented folks.

This bunch of August reviews are for 4 and 5-star reads including a cozy mystery, a horror anthology, and lots of main-stream fantasy, including a complete trilogy.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

I’d heard so many good things about this book that I decided to pick it up for a long long car ride. I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. Linus Baker is a rule follower, and he’s sent by the Department of Magical Youth to provide an objective evaluation of an orphanage on an island at the end of the train line. This orphanage is home to six children with extreme magical abilities, and if Linus finds the orphanage unsuitable, he will objectively recommend shutting it down, despite what that means for the children. What Linus discovers on the island is frightening, imaginative, eye-opening, and heart-warming, and it will change him in profound ways.

This is a delightfully creative book, full of childhood imagination. Linus is so stiff in the beginning that he’s almost scary, and the kids are so “atypical” that they’re almost unrelatable. But during the course of the book, this group of children, their fiercely protective caregivers, and Linus grew on me, and by the end, I was enamored with the whole lot of them. I wanted to cheer them all on. Secondary characters are wonderfully distinct as well.

The book is full of humor and fun (it’s about children after all), and there were times I laughed out loud. It also has many incredibly tender moments that made me want to jump into the book and hug the characters. The message of accepting and protecting those different from us, especially children, may seem a little heavy-handed at times, but it’s a message the world needs to hear over and over again. I highly recommend this engaging, disarming, funny, big-hearted book to readers who love children, love the antics of childhood, enjoy a fantastical twist, and want to close the last page with a giant smile.

*****

Broken Heart Attack by James J. Cudney

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series and had a great time with book two. When elderly Gwendolyn Paddington dies from an overdose of cocaine in the middle of a King Lear performance, Kellan determines to find out why. Gwendolyn’s sister-in-law, Eustacia, is behind the unofficial investigation, and the rest of the wealthy family become suspects from top to bottom. Kellan’s search for the truth isn’t easy. There’s a missing will and he has to be careful of stepping on the touchy sheriff’s toes.

There are a lot of red herrings in the story as Gwendolyn’s extended family is full of morally flawed potential murderers. Few of them are likable, but they’re entertaining and have distinct personalities. A feisty favorite from book one, Nana D is back. She’s meddling (as usual), and running for mayor, and she provides some wonderful humor and banter to the read. Her relationship with Kellan is a delight.

The pace moves along quickly, and I didn’t know until the end who the murderer was. This book can easily be read as a stand-alone, and I recommend it to fans of cozy murder mysteries. I look forward to the next in the series.

*****

Dead Stars and Stone Arches: A Collection of Utah Horror

I love the cover of this horror anthology and was eager to dive into this generous collection of short stories and poetry set in Utah, a state I’ve visited several times. The book contains 37 short stories and poems, written by 30 different Utah authors.

The stories are broad in subject and range from short flash fiction to longer pieces with an informal chapter-like format. Some take place in the past, some in the future with a sci-fi flavor. All are creepy. I enjoyed the variety and found the writing quality very good across the board. A few stand-outs for me were Tick Way, Guardian, Derelict, and Flesh and Feathers.

Poems make up about a third of the offerings. The poetry is superb and thoroughly bone-chilling. I can’t pick a favorite because I enjoyed every single one of them. Recommended to fans of horror short stories and poetry who don’t mind having nightmares. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

This is a non-stop YA action fantasy with some comprehensive world-building, great characters, and underlying romance. When the Empire of Celindar learns of a secret land, the Dark Shores, across the Endless Sea, their first thought is of conquest. But they need a guide, and the magic-wielding Maarin seafarers are the only ones who know how to get there. Seventeen-year-old Teriana is forced into the role, the lives of her people riding on her cooperation and success.

Marcus, the skilled leader of a Roman-style legion, heads up the mission. His relationship with Teriana is stormy, to say the least. These characters share the 3rd person POV, and both are rich with backstory and personality. The tension between them is understandable and entertaining. Many of the secondary characters are also compelling, and I found myself caring about what happened to them. (I’m glad this is a trilogy so I will get more of them in future books).

The pace moves along well, and though Book One ends with a few plot points resolved, it also leaves lots of open questions, including secrets, bad guys to be dealt with, an unknown traitor, and a romance that I already know is heading into trouble. The end was satisfying, but it’s clear that there’s more to come and this book is just the opening. Highly recommended to fantasy trilogy readers who enjoy strong characters, fast-paced action, and enemies-to-lovers romance.

*****

Seafire (Seafire Book 1) by Natalie C. Parker

In the first book of this steampunk trilogy, young Caledonia Styx captains the Mors Navis, a ship with a crew of tough young women, each of them survivors in a world terrorized by the Bullets, a brutal sea-faring organization that killed Caledonia’s family. When a Bullet crewman defects and wants to join her crew, she won’t even consider it. She’s about to throw him overboard, but he shares valuable information – her brother is still alive, and he can help her rescue him.

The book takes place in a dystopian world, and the steampunk elements are deftly woven into the story, often critical to the sea adventure. Fast-paced with lots of action, this book is primarily an account of the Mors Navis’s travels from one tough encounter and escape to another while on their way to the Bullet ship, and readers should be prepared for a cliffhanger ending with minimal resolution.

Between all the action, the main and secondary characters shine, their personalities distinct, their relationships nuanced and complex. The story unfolds in Caledonia’s third-person pov. Trust is hard for her, and in many ways, she’s a tortured soul as she takes responsibility for what happened to her family and worries about keeping her crew alive. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Recommended to YA fantasy readers who don’t mind cliffhangers and who enjoy a fast-paced, woman-power adventure.

*****

Steel Tide (Seafire Book 2) by Natalie C. Parker

The second book in this steampunk trilogy picks up directly where the first left off. Caledonia survives to fight another day. She finds more allies, goes on daring rescues, gets trapped by the brutal Bullets who rule the sea, and finds her way out of messes. Sea battles and fights abound as she seeks her brother in this detailed fantasy world.

The action feels non-stop despite occasional breathers. I like it when world-building is essential to the plot, and that is definitely true of the steampunk elements of this story. Issues of trust plague the different sea-faring crews, and Caledonia continues to weigh the need for violence against her hope for a peaceful future.

The cast of characters expands as new groups join Caledonia’s fleet, but they’re distinctly drawn and memorable with understandable motivations and hurdles to overcome. Some definitely grew on me. Book Two doesn’t end with quite as much of a cliffhanger. A new leader has taken control of the Bullet fleet, and he and Caledonia have history, raising the stakes. Recommended to fantasy readers who love a good adventure. I’m reading onward.

*****

Stormbreak (Seafire Book 3) by Natalie C. Parker

In the final book of the Seafire Trilogy, all elements of the story escalate: the fleet grows, more characters join Caledonia’s command team, the violence intensifies, and the stakes rise. Sea battles continue to dominate the text, and she makes an unsavory alliance out of necessity. There is a sense of a final strategy coming together and a showdown ahead as the Bullet’s new leader takes the offensive.

As the book sails toward the conclusion, there are moments of celebration for victories, as well as despair and doubt as important characters are lost to the war. There’s a touch of romance as well that continually gets put on hold, dependent on an uncertain future. Themes of trust, sacrifice, and choice take center stage.

The ending was satisfying as all the elements set up throughout the trilogy come together and play a role in the final chapters. There’s no happily ever after here, but a sense of peace does win out. To avoid spoilers, I’ll leave it with a thumbs up for steampunk readers who enjoy a swashbuckling sea adventure with lots of battles, intricate world-building, and relentlessly powerful female protagonists.

*****

Happy Reading!

June Book Reviews (Part Two)

More book reviews for the month of June, as promised. I suspect July will be quieter (famous last words). I hope you find a great read for the beach or hammock, or for those readers in the thick of winter, a story to warm you by the fire.

Below are reviews for this month’s 4 and 5-star reads including fantasy, YA fantasy, women’s fiction, romance, historical fiction, and a 10-author collaborative suspense novel.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Can I find the words to say how much I enjoyed this magical fantasy series? Probably not. This is Book 3 of the Winternight Trilogy, and it’s easy to see why it’s a best seller. The trilogy is a retelling of a Russian (Ukrainian) folk tale, and I loved the lore and mythology, the old-world beliefs in the unseen spirits of land and rivers, dooryards and kitchens.

The invisible world is alive, but fading in the face of Christianity. Vasya embraces her identity as a witch as well as her ability to cross into the mysterious and dangerous spirit world. As war looms, Vasya is determined to save the old gods, her family, and the country that tried to kill her. Her sacrifices and courage are gripping, and there are some terrifying and heart-wrenching scenes in this book. I found it almost impossible to put down.

On top of that, the writing is exquisite with beautiful metaphors and descriptions. For readers who love lyrical storytelling, the book is mesmerizing. Characters are deeply drawn, straight from lore and legend, and the relationships are fraught with loyalty, loathing, cruelty, and love. At its heart, this is a love story, but nothing is straightforward and simple in this series. Highly recommended to fantasy readers, especially those who enjoy fairytale retellings, magic, lore, mythology, stupendous characters, a gripping tale, and beautiful writing.

*****

Bits of Broken Glass by Martha Reynolds

A twenty-fifth high school reunion is being planned for six months in the future, and for four characters it becomes an opportunity to think back on how those important years shaped them. For Kellie and Joe it stirs up old trauma. For Cherry, it’s an opportunity to make amends, and for Scott it’s an opportunity missed.

The actual reunion takes place in the last chapter, so the book is really about the lead-up to that event. Each character has a separate POV narrative, which begins to intersect with other characters as the day draws near. I enjoyed the way the author slowly revealed each character’s memories as well as how their lives had progressed. The healing that takes place was cathartic and touching. To me, it seemed that karma was in play, and that kindness bred kindness, as well as the other way around.

The characters were beautifully crafted, their actions and choices realistic and their emotions full of depth. Secondary characters had the same three-dimensional feel. The story unfolds in third-person with a little first-person mixed in. The pace was excellent, and I read the book in two days since it caught me and wouldn’t let go. Recommended to readers who enjoy women’s fiction, and stories about personal growth and rising above old hurts. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Between the Vines by Staci Troilo

Elena is a wedding planner who doesn’t trust love. In fact, she’s downright cynical. Aaron, a local cop, has been cheated on in his past, and he’s sworn off love. But his sister’s wedding brings him face to face with Elena and neither of them know how to handle the attraction. Then Heather, Aaron’s cheating ex-girlfriend and a woman you love to hate, enters the scene and pins a target on Elena’s back.

I read this short romance in a couple of hours. The third of the Keystone Couples novellas, the book has fun cameos from the first two but can easily be read as a stand-alone. The pace moves along quickly with plenty of cross-communication, fiery ladies, and a cop who’s not sure how to handle any of it. There are also some very tender testaments to love, and a huge dollop of kindness. An entertaining quick read highly recommended to romance fans. (Kindle Unlimited)

*****

Jealousy of a Viking by V. M. Sang

This historical fiction takes place around the year 860 AD when Danes and Saxons were occupying Britain. Helgha is a young woman who falls in love with Erik, a man above her status. With marriage out of the question, Erik kills her father and sweeps Helgha away to become his bed slave. In love with him, Helgha complies and bears him two sons. And when Erik weds someone of his own class, Helgha begins a devious journey of sabotaging his wife’s pregnancies. Her actions set off a cascade of tragedies.

I’m happy to say that, though jealousy and wicked thoughts follow her for most of the book, Helgha has an arc that allows her to mature and find redemption. She’s a deeply drawn character, and when she finds her heart and inner strength, it’s refreshing. As she matured and became a kinder person, I connected more with her than I did in the beginning. I didn’t like either of the men she loved (due to their treatment of women), but they did feel realistic.

At the end of the book, the author shares some of her research regarding historical events, as well as some cultural details (both researched and speculated). The book focuses on the role of women as the bearers of sons. True to life at the time, the trials of pregnancy, birth, and miscarriage occur frequently within the read, but there’s also lots of action and danger that kept me flipping the pages.

A sub-plot of Helgha’s shifting religious beliefs is exceptionally done and felt quite authentic. The pace moved at a good clip, and I found excuses to keep reading. Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction, especially regarding Vikings in Britain.

*****

Altitudinis: Seekers, Sinners & Secrets: A Collaborative Novel

Altitudinis is a serum under development that promises exceptional endurance at high altitudes. It will benefit India’s military as well as its businesses whose employees work in the mountains. But it hasn’t been tested on humans, and unwitting adventurers are targeted for trials. And there are unscrupulous thieves who would like to steal the research and sell it as their own.

Those are only two plot threads that run through this suspense/romance/family drama written by ten authors. The complexity of such a writing collaboration intrigued me, and it may be one reason why there was so much going on in the book with the plots and subplots. Overall, it was surprisingly cohesive and consistent, as if written by one author. That’s quite a feat.

The pace moves quickly. One of the challenges with so much plot-related action, as well as the number of main characters, is that there wasn’t much time to get deeply into the characters’ psyches, emotions, or backstories. Nikhil and Nirali were the exceptions with some time given to their relationship and romance. Because I got to know them personally, they were my favorites.

With the addition of an omniscient POV, this book struck me as a broad versus deep story. Readers looking for a character-driven book may find themselves wanting more depth and focus, but readers who enjoy action-driven stories that don’t get bogged down in messy emotions, description, and backstory, may have found just the thing to fill an afternoon of reading. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Golden Healer by M. J. Mallon

I read the first book in this series years ago, but the story came back to me quickly. Amelina continues her journey to understand her magical abilities and the power of the crystals while at the same time she navigates her teen years with her friends and family. I definitely recommend that readers start with book one to orient themselves to this world and the characters.

This book isn’t an easy read, and it wasn’t surprising to me that each chapter is titled a “Puzzle.” The writing is beautiful and rich with description, but much of it takes place in the spirit world through visions and dreams. There are helpers and kind spirits as well as dark shadow demons. Shadows take shape in multiple forms, the primary one being Ryder, who manipulates the world in both real life and dream life.

The main conflict seems to be between the forces of good and evil as they meet in different situations. The author’s world-building is often dazzling, and occasionally I lost track of the plot in all the beautiful visuals and fascinating scenes. My attention remained rapt, but the result was a slow pace.

The primary narrator is Amelina, but her father and friends share the POV. The story unfolds in first person, third person, and omniscient. The action in the book is well described as are the intense emotions of the characters. Readers who enjoy vivid dreamlike worlds, metaphysical and new age spirituality, and coming-of-age stories may find just the thing within these magical pages.

*****

Happy Reading!

Interview with Yvette at Priorhouse

Yvette Prior at Priorhouse kindly offered me a chance to do a mini-interview on her blog. Of course, I snapped it up, and it’s live today. If you have a chance, stop by to say hi. See you there.

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Hello Readers,

Today I am sharing “TEN Questions with an Author” featuring D Wallace Peach.

📚

Some long-time followers of this blog might know that I startsd the Priorhouse Interview series back in 2015-2016Ish – and managed to do a handful of interviews (mostly yoga teachers) and then in 2021, I decided to put more of a focus on it (thanks in part to Marsha  @alwayswrite).
Also, to get momentum, I scheduled monthly interviews ahead of time (and next month – July 2022- we have author Robbie Cheadle – here – so hope to see you back for that).

Another thing that helped the interview series was doing some unplanned interviews that unfolded on their own- like with  Paul Lucas from the Mariner’s Museum (here) and like this mini interview today.

D Wallace Peach, DWP,  has a new book coming out in August and that was one of the reasons for this mini interview post.  I also had a blog insight for authors and wanted to share that as well (see #5)

#1

Can you tell us about the new book being released in August 2022? And thanks for doing this interview here at Priorhouse.

DWP:

Thanks for having me over for a mini-interview!  And thanks for the fun questions with a chance to jump up and down about a new book!

(Continue to Priorhouse Blog)

April Book Reviews

April was another month of intense editing, but that’s behind me as of yesterday. I’m looking forward to getting back to my usual reading indulgence. In the meantime, I’ve got some good books for you.

Below are reviews for this month’s 4 and 5-star reads including a sci-fi thriller, a western paranormal adventure , a fantasy, poetry anthology, and fantasy/folklore/mystery.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Hope by Terry Tyler

In the not-so-distant future when the world is run by mega conglomerates and the vast majority of people are just getting by, the solution to increasing homelessness is Hope Villages. But is there really any hope of escaping poverty in a world rife with unemployment and rigged for the rich, beautiful, and powerful? When Lita and her two roomies find themselves unemployed, the only solution is to enter Hope Village #37. And revealing the truth about what happens within its walls can get you killed.

One of the things that was so enthralling about this read is how realistic it is. I can definitely see these villages (warehouses) for the poor cropping up in the near future. There’s a sense of just-getting-by and that anyone, including the reader, could end up in one of these places. And how they’re run is entirely based on the political party in charge. Scary, scary, scary stuff.

The writing is flawless. The read starts with a fair amount of backstory as Lita, her friends, and the challenges they face are introduced. It builds to a simmer with an impending sense of doom as things start spiraling downward. Before you know it, they’re out of choices, a point at which I found the book difficult to put down. The characters are emotionally realistic, vulnerable, brave, and totally outgunned by the powerful machine controlling their lives. The realism extends right to the end – no happily-ever-after here, though there is hope. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy suspense, dystopian fiction, and “this could happen” thrillers. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

This fantasy has everything I love: intricate world-building, a twisted plot, great characters, and lyrical/atmospheric writing.

Long ago, a murder in the mountainous realm of Azenor resulted in a curse, and now nightmares come alive every month on the new moon. Clementine and her father are wardens, people gifted with magic who hunt the nightmares and find the keys to their undoing. But when two brothers beat them in a challenge, Clem and her family are forced to leave their village. Clem vows revenge, disguises herself with the help of an ancient troll, and becomes the nightmare-hunting partner of one of the brothers. She’s drawn into a century-old conflict of conspirators and secrets, and only by uniting with her rival will she survive the dangers lurking around every corner.

The magic is clever and layered, and the encounters with nightmares are full of danger. The story unfolds in Clem’s POV, which leaves a lot of mysteries for her and the reader to unravel, including whether she can trust the various players trying to guide, deceive, and manipulate her. Each character is deliciously distinct and many of them aren’t who they seem. Their motivations are questionable, and it’s hard to tell until the very end who the good guys and bad guys are and what role they play in resolving the curse.

The writing is beautiful, full of gorgeous metaphors, and if I read the book as a paperback, I would have employed a highlighter on every page. The story is strong with emotion, visual description, action, and intrigue, as well as flavored with romance. Highly recommended for fantasy readers who also enjoy the works of Katherine Arden and Margaret Rogerson.

*****

Mateo’s Blood Brother by Sandra Cox

I thought the first book in this series was great and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second. It didn’t disappoint. Mateo, the wolf-shifter sheriff of Grizzly is still a major part of the story but the focus is now on Jessie, his fully human blood brother. After a long period of estrangement, they’re working on their friendship, and they haven’t much choice about sticking together since the shifter-she-wolf they’d thought was dead is back for revenge. She’s targeting them and everyone they hold dear.

I enjoyed the characters the first time around and did so again. Jessie and Mateo share the story’s POV. They’re believable, emotionally authentic, and distinct. I can easily say the same about the secondary characters, even those with small parts. The shifters, including a new and mysterious brown wolf, are appealing with their deep connections to the natural world. I enjoyed experiencing the action through Mateo’s animal senses as well as his human ones and was especially intrigued by his father.

The author is well known for her western romances, but in this series, romance is secondary to the other elements of the plot. I’d characterize the book as contemporary western, paranormal fiction, and there’s plenty of action to keep the pace moving along. I read the book in two sittings while ignoring everything else I had to do. I hope the author will write more for this series. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy paranormal fiction with great characters, a touch of romance, and a quick pace. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Hues of Hope, Selected Poetry by Balroop Singh

Singh’s latest collection of free form poetry includes about 100 poems on the subject of hope. They cover a wide range of perspectives, emotions, and sources of hope, found within us as well as out in the world. The hope found in nature, in memories, and in love are prevalent in the first three sections of the book. And in the second half of the collection, hope becomes more complex and entangled with pain, disappointment, and longing, among other less cheery emotions and experiences. It was within these more nuanced explorations that I found some of my favorite poems.

A few memorable poems were “I Have Understood”, “I Know You!” and “Now I Understand You!” Below are the first three stanzas of “Who Are You” from the section Beams of Love:

Who Are You?

Once again dusk descended
Alone she sat in deep thought
One more gorge
That seemed to devour her.

Love entered from the back door
Sat by her side and smiled
She couldn’t recognize the stranger
So she asked: “Who are you?”

“You knew me at birth
You stretched your arms
For me, you cried
When I didn’t embrace you… (con’t)

Highly recommended to readers who enjoy free-form poetry around a complex theme, including the light and whimsical as well as the poignant and painful. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Spirit of the Shell Man by Chris Hall

This is Book 2 in the series, and I enjoyed getting together with the same quirky and delightful characters from Book 1: Song of the Sea Goddess. The series isn’t named, and the books may not need to be read in order, but I’m glad I did since there are a number of details that happen chronologically.

As with the first book, the characters were my favorite part of the read. They’re quirky and good-hearted, and thoroughly believable with distinct voices and personalities. There aren’t any dastardly bad guys, and though a few greedy interlopers are creating problems in the South African seaside village, it’s the group of main characters, their kind relationships, and the multiple mysteries that carry the story.

The pace is quite fast, and I read the book in two sittings. The action scenes were well written, especially the time spent in the underground tunnels (which accounted for my decision to finish the book rather than put it down). Similar to the first book, the loose plot is light and whimsical with all kinds of strange and supernatural elements, mysterious notebooks and puzzle boxes, underground tunnels, spirits, magical creatures, and ordinary creatures acting magically. The story has an African “myths and legends” feel to it which I really liked. Recommended for fantasy readers who enjoy great characters and a whimsical adventure.

*****

Happy Reading!