November Book Reviews

My reading is way off this month due to NaNoWriMo, but I finished the first draft of my WIP, and I’m happy about that.

I still have four wonderful books for you!

November book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of 19th century romance, Christmas romance, a Christmas novellette about family love. And for a little variety… a book with werewolves!

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

The Unraveling of Lady Fury by Shehanne Moore

This book was a hoot. Imagine a romance where the characters are blackmailing each other and yet contractually agree to produce an heir.

Lady Fury needs an heir if she hopes to keep the estate of her dead husband, who, by the way, is in a box in the cellar and starting to stink. Captain Flint Blackmoore is an old flame from years past, a privateer who dumped Fury on the docks and later lost his ship. He knows about the body in the cellar, and she knows his real identity. They’re stuck with each other.

The numerous clinical “rules” Fury imposes on Flint regarding the act of reproduction generate some one-upmanship, negotiation, and plenty of outrage. How exactly does one have sex without touching or removing one’s clothes? For the characters the act of sex becomes an act of war. For the reader, it’s hysterical. And heaven forbid they fall in love.

Time is of the essence because of the decomposing body, and Fury demands repeat performances for as long as it takes. With all the wrangling and finagling, the initial installment of the contract takes the first 25% of the book, and it’s all entertaining as heck.

I loved the tight POV that allowed me to experience Fury’s running commentary up close and personal. Both she and Flint are sympathetic characters even when driving each other nearly insane with frustration. The pace whips along, the characters motivated, the flush of emotions rampant. Highly recommended to readers of romance, and readers who enjoy the fireworks when great characters are thrown together in a madcap plot.

*****

Mountain Laurel Christmas by Jan Sikes

This is one of my favorite novelettes from Jan Sikes. And that’s high praise coming from a Christmas Grinch. I read this sweet story of family love and redemption in about an hour and actually choked up at one point.

Cole is a famous musician out of Nashville whose lost his zest for life. Then he visits the mountain shack where he and his siblings grew up. He loved his family, but by the time he turned fifteen, he was an orphan and, in the years since, lost track of his little brother. He finds an old letter that changes everything.

Sikes includes rich details that bring the settings to life, and even the minor characters are multi-dimensional. Cole’s arc is believable as well as touching, and his younger brother Timmy is an absolute delight. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy short stories, heartwarming tales about family, and a bit of Christmas cheer.

*****

Love, Me: A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

If you love Christmas romances with adorable kids, puppies, and sleigh rides, this short 2+ hour read will warm the cockles of your heart. Grace has moved with her young daughter Cassie to a new home where Cassie can participate in a promising trial for the treatment of leukemia. Robert is the principal at Cassie’s new school, and he has a daughter, Avery. The kids hit it off immediately. And though the parents have some instant attraction, life has thrown some hardballs their way that just might strike them out.

There aren’t any villains in this story to speak of. The barriers to love are real problems that real families deal with. Grace’s dedication to her daughter’s health and treatment is absolute. Robert has ideas for his under-funded school and plans that teeter on the brink of failure. I enjoyed how grounded the adults were when it came to their children, and how hopeful the children were when it came to the adults.

The plot moves along well. Grace, Robert, and Cassie share the POV, though Avery is also a star. This is a heartwarming Christmas romance with sweet characters, lots of sparks, mischievous little kids, giggles, and yes, puppies.

*****

Lunar Boogie (The Hat #4) by C. S. Boyak

Lunar Boogie is the 4th book in The Hat series, but if a reader has read the first book (The Hat) and gotten to know Lizzie and her hilarious talking headgear, I don’t think the order of the rest matters much. In this adventure, Lizzie and the Hat are playing gigs with their cover band, The Pythons. That’s her official job.

The unofficial job? That’s hunting paranormal creatures. In this case a werewolf that’s leaving large bloody messes but few body parts (after eating his fill). What’s concerning Lizzie and the Hat is the murders seem to be following the band. There’s a fair amount of stalking scary places after dark and chasing red herrings. Joe Yoder, a cop who talks to the ghost of his dead wife, is also on the werewolf’s trail. I liked the emotional depth he brought to an otherwise plot-driven read.

One of my favorite aspects of this book (and the other Hat books) is the clever and often dry banter between Lizzie and the Hat. They have a great relationship that’s most evident in the prevalent dialog. Boyak’s quirky storytelling style is all over this book. A fun read for Hat fans and readers of paranormal fiction. Highly recommended.

.

*****

Happy Reading!

The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach

This fantasy tale hasn’t received a lot of press lately, so when a review showed up on fantasy author K. D. Dowdall’s site, I was more than delighted. Many thanks to Karen for her thoughtful comments. If you head over to read, take a gander at her books, and I hope you enjoy her review!

❤  ❤  ❤

In the story of The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach, we see the overall story as fascinating and rich in details that excite our need for fantasy and storytelling.  At first glimpse, it is a story about dragons, courage, adventure, war, soul-thieves, and the good versus the bad in people.

The story is really two stories, that in the end, become one where fantasy and reality merge.  The main characters, Madlyn, Cody, Dustin, and Lillian, each have different world views that conflict with each other, but all are necessary for everyone to cope with the approaching sense of loss that is meaningful to each one, a natural human response to things out of our control…

via The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach

Rewriting the End

Daniel Carver Peach

Daniel Carver Peach 1963-2003

On July 3, 2003, my youngest brother, Dan, was murdered at the age of 40. He was shot in the eye with a rifle while in his bathroom. The murder was never officially solved, though the circumstances and events that followed make that extremely hard to believe.

I’ve been thinking about Dan lately, partly because his birthday just passed and the anniversary of his death is sneaking up. July 4th is a bittersweet holiday for us – my brother loved fireworks. He was always in charge of explosions on Independence Day.

Then I woke up to another mass shooting in the US. As I listened to the shock and grief of torn-apart families, I connected with that desperate wish that none of it was real, that somehow it wasn’t happening. The suddenness is wrenching – there’s no warning, no last check marks on the bucket lists, no goodbyes, no way to rewrite the story of a life into a gentler ending.

One of my old childhood chums is reading The Sorcerer’s Garden, and I mentioned that the three main characters are based, a bit, on my two brothers and me. In the book, a character named Cody is in a vegetative state after a tragic accident. By way of a magical book, he gets a revised ending and the other characters get closure. When I wrote the book, I was, in a way, rewriting the end of true tale, a real life, my brother’s life.

The Sorcerer’s Gardena (slightly edited) snippet

His arms over his head, Cody stretched the last ache from his side. Morning light brightened the late summer gardens girding the palace. The air carried a hint of coolness, periwinkle blue and free of smoke. He’d traded his king’s blues for the leather breeches and jerkin of a northman despite his intention to head east. He wore a brimmed hat speared with a turkey feather, a fern-green cloak, and tawny silk scarf, the entire ensemble oddly mismatched as if he collected cast-offs from seven different households.

Behind him, a horse packed with gear chomped on his grandmother Lillian’s roses until Harris, the new Captain of the Queen’s Guard, took the reins and led it toward a patch of long grass. Cody nodded his thanks. He traded grips with Hart and kissed Cali and Candice on the cheek, the three survivors of the Guard who’d sworn to protect the princess. He would miss them as much as he already missed Tristan and Kyle, Danion, and Pagan. They had done what they’d vowed to do—saved a queen so she could restore a kingdom. Now, his next adventure called, the one that, not long ago, his grandmother told him needed to wait. The time for waiting had finally come to an end.

He kissed Lillian goodbye, and she smiled. Her silver hair shone in the sunlight and her butter-yellow robe flowed around her feet as she turned to face the fountain. Its perfectly round dream-crystal swirled beneath a glaze of streaming water. The stars and planets, the galaxies of the universe mutated in a kaleidoscope of colors, mysterious and tantalizing. “Your journey awaits you, child. You are finally free.”

“I wouldn’t have missed a moment of it,” he said. “Not a minute. I’ve lived a magnificent life.”

The queen strolled across the lawn, still reliant on Dustin’s arm. With her crown formally bestowed, the task of building a peaceful realm lay squarely on her shoulders. Yet, her first act had been personal, a request that Dustin stand at her side, first as friend and consort, and in time, when the land regained a sense of hope, as husband and king. He accepted, and though he didn’t look particularly regal in his armor and guard’s blues, he wore a ridiculous grin, clearly content in her company.

“All grown up and ready to go,” Dustin said, his arms open for an embrace.

“I never had any plans to grow up,” Cody assured him as they slapped each other’s backs. “But, yes, I’m ready to go. Have been for a while, though first we needed to take that one adventure together. Thank you, Dustin. ”

“I wouldn’t have missed it and have no desire to do it again,” Dustin said as they parted.

“Duty?” Cody asked.

“Choice,” Dustin replied with a smile for the queen.

“Clearly a good one then.”

The queen smirked. “I can order you to stay.”

“I don’t think you actually can.” Cody raised his eyebrows and shook his head.

“I thought you planned to go to sea.” She turned her gaze to Dustin. “Didn’t you once tell me he wished to try his hand as a brigand?”

“I think he expressed desires along those lines.” Dustin laughed.

“Another lifetime.” Cody’s lip tugged up. “There’s a river east of here I never finished exploring. That’s where I’m headed first. From there, I’ll see where this journey takes me.”

Tears welled in the queen’s eyes as she hugged him and whispered in his ear, “Thank you, Cody, for everything. For being a friend, for standing beside me, for accepting me and believing in me, for bringing Dustin into my life. I’m going to miss you terribly.”

Cody smiled and gave her a nod. He gripped his brother’s forearm and pulled him into a final embrace. “Life is an adventure, Dustin. And it’s so damn short. Promise me you won’t waste a moment. Follow the dreams that make you happy.”

With that, Cody mounted his horse and rode through the iron gates. He turned back, grinned and tipped his hat. The road beckoned, his next adventure begun.

Dan Peach - On to another adventure.

Dan Peach – His next adventure begun.

Amazon USA, Canada, Australia

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Australia

A tangled mess of a tale – The Sorcerer’s Garden.

Sorcerer's Garden 2At some point between serving my visiting parents popcorn and ice cream, chauffeuring them to the nearest casino, shooing our resident bat from their bedroom, potty-training the Overlord, and tracking down my hiding husband, The Sorcerer’s Garden went live.  I almost missed it!

So a bit of promotion is in order…In the life of an author, it’s an exciting day.

The Blurb:

Recently fired and residing with her sweetly overbearing mother, Madlyn needs a job—bad. In a moment of desperation, she accepts a part-time position reading at the bedside of adventurer and amateur writer Cody Lofton. A near-drowning accident left the young man in a vegetative state, and his chances of recovery wane with each passing day.

Cody’s older brother, Dustin, and eccentric grandmother aren’t prepared to give up on the youngest son of Portland, Oregon’s royalty.

Dustin’s a personable guy, bordering on naïve, and overwhelmed by familial corporate duties and cutthroat partners. Grandmother Lillian’s a meddler with an eye for the esoteric, dabbling in Dustin’s life and dealing out wisdom like a card shark. One innocent conversation at a time, she sucks Madlyn into the Lofton story, dubbing her the princess and bestowing on her the responsibility of both grandsons’ destinies.

And all Madlyn wanted was a simple reading job.

Uninspired by her self-imposed stack of literary selections, Madlyn opts for Cody’s work-in-progress. Fantasy isn’t her favorite, but with only four chapters completed, reading The Sorcerer’s Garden should be no sweat, right?

Little does she realize, the story will begin writing itself and, by the hand of destiny, become her own.

A collision of urban and medieval fantasy 

The Urban:

“You’ve started reading Cody’s book?” Lillian asked as she poured tea.

“Um…yes.” Madlyn glanced at the crystal ball. Either Tristan spied at the door, which she doubted, or the woman dabbled in the dark arts. “I thought he’d prefer it over my mother’s recommendation.”

“I’m not sure he minds either way.” Lillian shared a wistful smile. “Undeniably, the book is key to completing his story, but it’s your presence and voice that will preserve him as much as the content.”

Madlyn squirmed in her seat and sipped her coffee as the conversation wandered off into the ozone again. She understood Dustin’s caution and hope regarding Cody’s level of awareness, but this business about the book “completing his story” lay beyond her comprehension. For a woman who didn’t make mistakes, Lillian was three tines short of a fork.

“Well, fantasy isn’t really my thing.” Madlyn shrugged, hoping to move on. “But he only wrote a few chapters. I’m happy to read it to him.”

“What is your ‘thing,’ Madlyn?”

“Aside from reading material?” She met the old woman’s eyes. Why am I having this conversation? “I don’t know, Lillian. Maybe getting by, day by day, true love, a fabulous career, two angelic children, a self-cleaning house, a cat without fleas.”

“Ah,” Lillian chuckled, “fantasy after all.”

“Probably.” Madlyn sighed, the list depressing. “But I’ve learned that it’s a waste of time to wish for what isn’t real. I don’t believe in fairy tales. There aren’t any dragons or ogres. There isn’t a magical life waiting for me in your crystal ball. Terrible things happen to us, Lillian. Magic would be helpful, but it’s not any more real than Cody’s book.”

“How do you define what’s real?”

The question unanswerable, Madlyn said nothing. The temptation to scrub her face in her hands and groan was unbearable. She didn’t know. Science and matter? What she perceived with her senses? Could the experience of cool to her, be warm to another? What about feelings and intuition? Was the fear that her father abandoned her real because she felt it, even though, in fact, it may not be fact? Were her dreams and wishes real if she could name them or only when they came true? Was her mother a cracked nut and Lillian a fruitcake, simply because she believed they were?

“I have no idea,” she admitted, her brain numb. She sipped her coffee, reduced to the intelligence of a slug. “As far as I know, coffee is real. I’m not sure of much beyond that.”

“It’s all perception, Madlyn, yes? Layers and filters and veils shape the paradigms of our lives. Our beliefs create our reality; that’s where all possibility lies, where magic finds its spark.”

The Medieval:

A bat-webbed wing scraped over the boulders, hooks gouging the rough stone. A vast wave of fire engulfed the air. Cody curled into a ball behind the huge slab, buried his head in his arms, and held his breath, his body over the bow. When the inferno’s roar receded, he raised his head, caught a whiff of sizzled hair, and heard Dustin bellowing at the dragon, attempting to draw it away.

Every inch of his skin screamed as he scrambled to his feet, yanked the rope pull, and loaded his last bolt. With a laugh at the absurdity of his situation, he staggered out from between the boulders, slightly rear of the beast’s flank. No need to aim, he raised the bow and pulled the trigger. The bolt flew, dragging the second rope. Cody’s ankle tangled in the twisting coil. It flipped him from his feet to his back, his breath punched from his lungs.

The bolt’s barbed point nicked the dragon’s rear leg, skidded beneath the scale, and plunged into the tender belly up to its steel fletching. The beast roared, flung its horned head, and streamed fire toward the boulders where Cody would have stood if not for the tangled rope. His crossbow, pitched to the ground when he fell, flashed into blackened char.

There, the requisite promotion is done.

Click HERE for the fateful Amazon Link.

It’s lovely to be back. 

Cover Reveal: The Sorcerer’s Garden

Sorcerer's Garden 2

Scheduled for Release August 20, 2015

Interested in a ARC copy? Please let me know ❤
Also available now as a Preorder on Amazon.

The Sorcerer’s Garden

Recently fired and residing with her sweetly overbearing mother, Madlyn needs a job—bad. In a moment of desperation, she accepts a part-time position reading at the bedside of adventurer and amateur writer Cody Lofton. A near-drowning accident left the young man in a vegetative state, and his chances of recovery wane with each passing day.

Cody’s older brother, Dustin, and eccentric grandmother aren’t prepared to give up on the youngest son of Portland, Oregon’s royalty.

Dustin’s a personable guy, bordering on naïve, and overwhelmed by familial corporate duties and cutthroat partners. Grandmother Lillian’s a meddler with an eye for the esoteric, dabbling in Dustin’s life and dealing out wisdom like a card shark. One innocent conversation at a time, she sucks Madlyn into the Lofton story, dubbing her the princess and bestowing on her the responsibility of both grandsons’ destinies.

And all Madlyn wanted was a simple reading job.

Uninspired by her self-imposed stack of literary selections, Madlyn opts for Cody’s work-in-progress. Fantasy isn’t her favorite, but with only four chapters completed, reading The Sorcerer’s Garden should be no sweat, right?

Little does she realize, the story will begin writing itself and, by the hand of destiny, become her own.