Category Archives: Fiction

Sounds Like Love by Laura Ford

Sounds Like LoveSounds Like Love by Laura Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun, inspirational young adult story with a strong heroine and a very smart cat.

When Wendy went to pick up a box of mementos from her grandmother’s estate, she was shocked and dismayed to discover she was supposed to take the cat home as well. Wendy was not a fan of cats. Her parents had been avid cat fanciers, and she had grown up feeling the cats were more important to them than their daughter.

The cat surprise was just one of several that Wendy was struggling to deal with at the moment. Besides the loss of her grandmother, she was also steadily losing her hearing, a hereditary trait. Her grandmother had also gone deaf as an adult, much later in life than Wendy. The older woman had been Wendy’s anchor as she’d gone through testing and diagnosis and had been helping her with lip reading and signing. But now she was gone, and the cat was here.

Wendy was determined to find a home other than her own for the cat. However, the local animal shelter was full and couldn’t take her immediately. So, home the two went, with Wendy hoping for a spot to open at the shelter and the cat with a plan to secure a future in Wendy’s home and heart.

Sounds Like Love is the heart-warming story of a young woman overcoming several challenging life changes that occur all at the same time. She’s gradually losing her hearing, but her grandmother had been helping her weather the storm of her emotions about this turn of events when she suddenly passes away. Her grandmother, having lost her hearing as an adult, was instrumental in her granddaughter preparing for the inevitable. Now Wendy had to deal with an unwanted cat?! I could imagine how piled-on Wendy felt.

As expected, Wendy has her moments of despair, self-doubt, and self-pity, but the story never lingers on unproductive emotions. The main character is naturally optimistic and was inspired by her grandmother to live her best life no matter what. I loved the note she finds from her grandmother at just the perfect moment.

There is a budding romance that is ignited by an instant attraction. I was delighted with the twists and turns this particular storyline takes where the past meets the future. This was a fun “fated” meeting and future relationship.

SOUNDS LIKE LOVE is a fun, inspirational, clean underdog story recommended for young adult readers.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

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Gavels, Tinsel, and Murder (A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery, #4) by Victoria Tait

Gavels, Tinsel and Murder: A British Cozy Mystery with a Female Amateur Sleuth (A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery Book 4)Gavels, Tinsel and Murder: A British Cozy Mystery with a Female Amateur Sleuth by Victoria Tait
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent holiday set cozy mystery with an authentic Cotswold look and feel.

It’s the middle of November, and Dotty Sayers and her best friend, Police Sergeant Keya Varma, are successfully putting the finishing touches on their plans for the Christmas charity ball. Everything was going so smoothly. Retired rock star Jay Newton had agreed to host the event at his home, Windrush Hall. Kuki, the new caterer in town, was bringing samples of the canapes and main courses to try. The local gentry and businesses had been generous with donations for the auction to be held the night of the ball. Dotty’s work at Akeman’s was going well with daily inquiries about upcoming auctions, and the course on modern art Dotty was about to complete had proved interesting and useful, not to mention the increasing affinity a certain handsome art buyer was showing her.

However, all was not rosy as her dear friends and landlords were amid a terrible personal crisis. Uncle Cliff was slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, and his wife, Beanie, could no longer properly care for him. Norman Climpson lived with them in their farmhouse to help, but Cliff’s increasing confusion and agitation were leading him into dangerous territory. Norman wants Beanie to move Cliff into a professional care facility, but she refuses to consider this as an option, and the two have come to an impasse, with Norman declaring his intentions to leave.

The evening of the ball arrives, and everything seems to be coming together for a successful event. But when the curtains in the marquee are drawn back to reveal the silent auction offerings, the guests are shocked to see a dead body propped up among the donations. And before the night is over, the valuable highlight item of the auction goes missing, and everyone involved seems to be hiding a secret worth killing for.

Gavels, Tinsel, and Murder is another lovely entry in the Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery series by author Victoria Tait. I loved that over the course of the series, Dotty has come out of the shell that had been constructed around her growing up and maintained by her much older military spouse. She’s still mourning his death, but time has passed, and healing has started to occur. She’s gotten to a place emotionally where when handsome art buyer, Gilmore Chapman, shows her some very pointed attention, she responds favorably.

The plot hinges on the disappearance of a valuable painting and the practice of some of the local landowners of selling their original artworks after retaining well-done copies to remain in their homes. In this case, Dotty, busy with an upcoming auction at Akeman’s, the Christmas charity ball, her modern art course, and the holidays in general, tries to take a backseat to the police investigation into the murder. However, she’s responsible for the disappearing painting, and the two cases seem to be a matched set, and she must get involved anyway.

The author’s easy-to-read style puts the reader in the story right next to her marvelous characters, and it would be a perfect cozy mystery to usher in the feeling of the holidays. I recommend GAVELS, TINSEL, AND MURDER to mystery readers looking for a story set during the holiday season in an authentically portrayed Cotswold setting featuring antiques and fine art.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary fiction, Cozy Mystery, Culinary-themed, Fiction, Holiday-themed, Uncategorized

A War in Too Many Worlds (The Time Traveler Professor, #3) by Elizabeth Crowens

A War in Too Many Worlds (Time Traveler Professor, #3)A War in Too Many Worlds by Elizabeth Crowens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The exciting and highly entertaining next installment in the Time Traveler Professor series!

With WWI in full swing, John Patrick Scott, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Scots, had been assigned to a desk job after an injury took him off the frontline in France. A painful recovery left him with a morphine addiction that he successfully fought off yet still lurks beneath his self-control. He and his friend, Arthur Conan Doyle, remained in contact; however, Doyle had sidelined Sherlock Holmes in favor of his intense interest in spiritualism, so John’s assistance with the detective stories was no longer necessary.

The night of Doyle’s recent Halloween party, the time machine John had crafted for him had gone missing. However, he strongly suspected his friend, H.G. Wells, was the thief. Wells, who actually did take the machine, struggled to figure out how to get the thing to work, but a nudge in the right direction sent him back to 1845 and a lush but strange and dangerous jungle-like location. While there, he found an abandoned sketchbook with a locket enclosed among its pages, and when he returned to his own time and place, he was amazed to discover these souvenirs came back with him. The trip whetted his appetite to try again, but when he improperly assembles the machine, he literally gets the shock of his life. He’s rescued from electrocution by the timely appearance of the machine’s rightful owner, Arthur. Together, the two plan a more extensive trip back in time to thoroughly investigate the odd island and the unnatural creatures it harbors.

Meanwhile, John’s superiors at GHQ realize he’s wasted shuffling papers and send him undercover to Germany to trap a traitor: his dear friend Francois Poincaré. After being wounded in France, John developed the supernatural ability to see the ghosts of the soldiers killed on the battlefield around him. This secret skill comes in handy, and he enlists the help of two unlikely specters in his mission in Berlin.

A War in Too Many Worlds is the third book in Elizabeth Crowens’s fantasy series, Time Traveler Professor, which should be read in order for the greatest enjoyment. This book focuses on John’s mission in Germany and Doyle’s and Wells’s time-traveling attempts back home. The story builds on the actions and relationships developed previously and the plot is intricate and multi-faceted as it follows storylines through the combined books. However, an excellent Author’s Note preceding the start of this story relates the essence of what has gone on before that may assist a newcomer in getting their bearings.

John Patrick Scott has become somewhat embittered, what with his wound leaving him with a permanent ache and limp, being relegated to a desk job, not to mention the canceled musical career he’d worked so hard to attain. He’s overcome his addiction to morphine, but it’s a weakness that remains just under the surface of his willpower. I was sad for his gradual and complacent slide back into the use of opium even as he acknowledged the folly and the pain he had gone through in kicking his habit. I was intrigued by his relationship with the ghostly child, Chaimie, and Private Freund, and the storyline in Germany was my favorite by far of the two. The dark and decadent state of dissolution of wartime Berlin created a moody, atmospheric setting for John’s operation and set the stage for his internal struggle over betraying his old friend in more ways than the one ordered by General Headquarters.

Arthur Conan Doyle provided some of the best dialogue in the story and H.G. Wells, “Bertie,” was most entertaining as he experiences time traveling with fresh eyes. The author deftly mixed historical figures with fictional characters during historical events and imaginative fictional adventures.

I recommend A WAR IN TOO MANY WORLDS to fantasy readers who enjoy alternate history, time travel tales, or stories set during WWI or old Berlin.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

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Multi-Book Blitz & Giveaway: JOANNE EASLEY – Fiction about Complicated, 20th-Century Women

SWEET JANE,

JUST ONE LOOK,

&

I’LL BE SEEING YOU

by

Joanne Kukanza Easley

SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!

Sweet Jane

Joanne Kukanza Easley’s debut novel

2019 Wisdom-Faulkner Award finalist

2020 Adult Fiction winner Texas Author Project

2020 Sarton Award Finalist

2020 Eric Hoffer Award Short List


A drunken mother makes childhood ugly. Jane runs away at sixteen, determined to leave her fraught upbringing in the rearview. Vowing never to return, she hitchhikes to California, right on time for the Summer of Love. Seventeen years later, she looks good on paper: married, grad school, sober, but her carefully constructed life is crumbling. When Mama dies, Jane returns for the funeral, leaving her husband in the dark about her history. Seeing her childhood home and significant people from her youth catapults Jane back to the events that made her the woman she is. She faces down her past and the ghosts that shaped her family. A stunning discovery helps Jane see her problems through a new lens.

Family Saga / Women’s Fiction / Historical Fiction 

Publisher: Red Boots Press

Pages: 279 pages

Publication Date: September 17, 2022

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Just One Look

May 2022 Pulpwood Queen Book Club Pick

Shelf Unbound 2021 Notable 100 Best Indie Books

Recommended by the US Review of Books


In 1965 Chicago, thirteen-year-old Dani Marek declares she’s in love, and you best believe it. This is no crush, and for six blissful years she fills her hope chest with linens, dinnerware, and dreams of an idyllic future with John. When he is killed in action in Viet Nam, Dani’s world shatters. She launches a one-woman vendetta against the men she seeks out in Rush Street’s singles bars. Her goal: break as many hearts as she can. Dani’s ill-conceived vengeance leads her to a loveless marriage that ends in tragedy. At twenty-four, she’s left a widow with a baby, a small fortune, and a ghost—make that two. Set in the turbulent Sixties and Seventies, Just One Look explores one woman’s tumultuous journey through grief, denial, and letting go.

Family Saga / Women’s Fiction / Historical Fiction 

Publisher: Red Boots Press

Pages: 293 pages

Publication Date: September 17, 2022

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I’ll Be Seeing You

The new release from Joanne Kukanza Easley, the multi-award-winning author of Sweet Jane and Just One Look


A saga spanning five decades, I’ll Be Seeing You, explores one woman’s life, with and without alcohol to numb the pain.


Young Lauren knows she doesn’t want to be a ranch wife in Palo Pinto County, Texas. After she’s discovered by a modeling scout at the 1940 Fort Worth Stock Show Parade, she moves to Manhattan to begin her glamourous career. A setback ends her dream, and she drifts into alcohol dependence and promiscuity. By twenty-four, she’s been widowed and divorced, and has developed a pattern of fleeing her problems with geographical cures. Lauren’s last escape lands her in Austin, where, after ten chaotic years, she achieves lasting sobriety and starts a successful business, but happiness eludes her.

Fast forward to 1985. With a history of burning bridges and never looking back, Lauren is stunned when Brett, her third husband, resurfaces, wanting to reconcile after thirty-three years. The losses and regrets of the past engulf her, and she seeks the counsel of Jane, a long-time friend from AA. In the end, the choice is Lauren’s. What will she decide?

Family Saga / Women’s Fiction

Addiction & Recovery / Historical Fiction 

Publisher: Red Boots Press

Pages: 227 pages

Publication Date: August 28, 2022

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A retired registered nurse with experience in both the cold, clinical operating room and the emotionally fraught world of psychiatric hospitals, Joanne lives on a small ranch in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes fiction about complicated, twentieth-century women. 

Her multi-award-winning debut, Sweet Jane, was named the adult fiction winner at the Texas Author Project and shortlisted for the Sarton Award and Eric Hoffer Award, among others. Just One Look, Joanne’s second novel was a May 2022 Pulpwood Queen Book Club Pick. I’ll Be Seeing You, her third novel, features characters from Sweet Jane. Her prize-winning short stories and poetry have appeared in several anthologies.

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***

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THREE WINNERS!

Each receives an eBook of

SWEET JANE or

JUST ONE LOOK or

I’LL BE SEEING YOU

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Book Blog Tour: The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch by Julia Brewer Daily

THE FIFTH DAUGHTER OF THORN RANCH
by
Julia Brewer Daily
Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Western / Family Saga
Publisher: Admission Press
Pages: 322 pages
Publication Date: November 1, 2022
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Emma Rosales is the heiress of the largest ranch in Texas—The Thorn. All the responsibilities of managing a million acres now fall into her fifth-generation hands. A task Emma could handle with her eyes closed…if The Thorn were any ordinary property.
The Thorn is home to many things. Clear, cloudless skies. Miles of desert scrub and craggy mountains. A quiet disrupted only by whispers of the wind. And an ancient web of secrets won’t let Emma out alive without a fight.
The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch is a family saga as large as the state of Texas.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
“A delight to read.” Theresa Kadair,Seattle Book Review

“Julia Daily builds a captivating world by letting her imagination lead the way. The result? A unique story that’s a little Wild West, a little old Mexico, a little ancient history, and a lot rebellious”

Julie Cantrell,New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials

“A novel that combines mystery, suspense,
adventure, and a romance that neither hardships nor time can erase between the main characters.”
Debra Holt,award-winning, multi-published Texas author of series such as The Tremaynes of Texas and The Lawmen Series.

“A dignified, passionate, and layered tale in a rugged yet picturesque landscape… This book testifies to the rewards of fighting for enduring connections between family members and home.”
–RECOMMENDED,The US Review of Books

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review-2-1

5 stars!

The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch by Julia Brewer Daily

The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch is a full and satisfying story of discovery, wonder, love, and loss. The tale unfolds from two angles: Emma’s experiences and those of the people left behind on the ranch. Both sides of the story are riveting. I was so engrossed in this book I almost completed it in one sitting, only putting it down because it had gotten ridiculously late.

Daily has populated her book with engaging, sympathetic characters and a couple of unique personalities who present some interesting conflicts (Chesma and Jeff Bower’s mother) to the leads. Emma is a good person and uncertain about her pre-ordained future. She’s a bold, free spirit in her actions but cautious when it comes to her heart. She’s rightfully suspicious of the sincerity of Jeff’s interest in her and considerate about committing to Kai when she knows she’s going to try and escape any chance she gets. I was totally on board with her mother, Josie’s, feelings and actions, though. I would not have held up nearly as well as she did under the circumstances.

The ranch setting is magnificent with its far-flung expanses, remote and hiding canyons, desert, and vacant spaces. It was easy to imagine the locations, getting lost in their vastness, and feeling the dust and heat that made the search and rescue and the possibility of escape so daunting.

I enjoyed the story immensely and wasn’t ready to leave The Thorn Ranch at the end of the book. The author leaves some things up in the air, so I’m hoping for a sequel. How about a Sixth Daughter? I recommend THE FIFTH DAUGHTER OF THORN RANCH to readers who enjoy family sagas or western fiction with some magical elements and clean romance.

Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.

She has been a Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS.

She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart.

As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public.

She is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas, the Women Fiction Writers’ Association, Women Writing the West, and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club.

A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.

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Book Blog Tour: LIBERTY BELL AND THE LAST AMERICAN by James Stoddard

LIBERTY BELL AND THE LAST AMERICAN
by
James Stoddard
Alternative History / Science Fiction
Pages: 347 pages
Publication Date: April 4, 2021
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Americans love their Constitution. In seventeen-year-old Liberty Bell’s era it has become a myth.
Centuries after the Great Blackout obliterates the world’s digitized information, America’s history is forgotten. Only confused legends remain, written in The Americana, a book depicting a golden age where famous Americans from different eras lived and interacted with one another during the same time.
Raised on the stories and ideals from The Americana, Liberty Bell joins secret agent Antonio Ice on a quest for her country. But in the Old Forest, forgotten technologies are reawakening. Historic figures such as Albert Einstein, Harriet Tubman, and Thomas Jefferson are coming to life.
The source of their return, a mystery hidden since before the apocalypse, lies waiting for Liberty. Her knowledge of The Americana holds the key to unraveling the riddles of the past.
Will the American continent return to the freedom of Liberty’s forefathers? Or will it descend into a dark age of tyranny? The choices she makes will determine its fate. For, as The Americana says, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it—and forfeit all coupons, discounts, and travel miles.”
Filled with quotations from exceptional Americans, here is a humorous and poignant celebration of America and its Constitution.
Click to purchase!
review-2

4 stars!

A clever and imaginative tale of a quest through a future America.

Liberty Bell and the Last American is a highly-imaginative, amazingly clever, fast-paced romp through a futuristic American landscape after the country has been laid waste in the Great Blackout. Hundreds of years have passed since the devastation of the planet and its peoples, in which few physical books and nothing that depended on electricity survived. However, during the ensuing centuries, the remnants of the population left on the American continent had cobbled together a version of their history, verbally handed down through the generations and combined with a single found copy of quotations by famous people to create a foundational work called “The Americana.” Unfortunately, the result somewhat resembled what you got at the end of the child’s game known as “Telephone.” Written in “Old American,” not everyone could read the original version, relying solely on modern interpretations. Liberty Bell was one of the few who learned the old language.

Liberty Bell is a lively and lovely young woman. This is her first trip away from her home on her own, so she’s understandably a bit timid at first. However, as her journey is interrupted (and takes a wild left turn), she rarely wavers in her confidence and determination to do the right thing for her country (of which she has a naïve understanding) and for her companions.

The author is supremely clever in reimagining the language of the day, recombining idioms, maxims, proverbs, or aphorisms into new common phrases. Old ideas jumbled together with current cultural references entertained me to the very end and are probably my favorite element in the book.

But while the malapropisms shine, the author ingeniously uses actual quotations from historical figures to develop their dialogue throughout the story. The literal battle of quotes between chess pieces representing Jefferson and Churchill left me in awe. Winnowing through what was surely hundreds of documented utterances by these two and coming out with such a coherent whole is an amazing feat to me.

The landscape through which the characters wander is also the result of taking reality and revising it to account for the alterations of time, climate, and supposedly lost source documents. At times, I was reminded of Dorothy’s journey through Oz on her way to the Emerald City; not only did the scenery have some of the same ‘look and feel,‘ but there was also the quest-like nature of the journey itself.

Stoddard has created a unique, fresh, and very entertaining work. I recommend LIBERTY BELL AND THE LAST AMERICAN for readers who like tales of quests with elements of magic and SciFi, coming-of-age stories, and especially for those who enjoy and are familiar with American history. (A copy of the Constitution and Amendments are included at the end of the book as an extra.)

James Stoddard’s short fiction has appeared in science fiction publications such as “Amazing Stories” and “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.” “The Battle of York” was included in Eos Books’ Years Best SF 10, and “The First Editions” appeared in The Year’s Best Fantasy 9 from Tor Books. His novel, “The High House” won the Compton Crook Award for best fantasy by a new novelist and was nominated for several other awards. He lives with his wife in a winding canyon in West Texas.

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THREE WINNERS:
2 winners each receive a Signed Paperback copy of
LIBERTY BELL AND THE LAST AMERICAN
1 winner receives a $25 B&N eGift card
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Book Tour: The Stars in Their Eyes (The Broken Stars #1) by Kristy Gardner


THE STARS IN THEIR EYES

(The Broken Stars #1)

by

Kristy Gardner


Adult Science Fiction Horror

Publisher: City Owl Press

Pages: 282 pages

Publishing Date: October 18, 2022


SYNOPSIS:

The stakes were clear after the Change – survive together, or die.

Calay and Tess’s love has kept them alive four years after the aliens decimated Earth. But when Calay finds herself fighting for her life and Tess missing, she hears death knocking. Banging, really. She has nothing. Scraps for food, the clothes on her back, no safe place for respite. And yet, she is determined to risk it all to reunite with the one woman she has ever loved. She only has one choice: she must find Tess.

Reluctantly, Calay braves the new nightmares of a ravaged Pacific Northwest, alone. Thrust into the darkness, she is haunted by horrors beyond her imagination — alien executioners, a mysterious man whom she can’t quite put her finger on, the rise of a sinister cult, and a shocking family secret that challenges everything she thinks she knows.

As the lines between good and evil blur, Calay’s desperation threatens to spill what’s left of her humanity. Her heart smeared across her tattered sleeve, she is pulled deeper into the madness of a world that has become kill or be killed. Calay realizes she must deny her feral instincts and resist becoming a monster herself, confronting her demons as share stares down the barrel of a terrifying truth: she may actually be forever alone. Time is running out and she knows it. Her only hope is to become who she is truly meant to be and unify with the love of her life once and for all. But, at what cost?

To survive, Calay must choose between the unthinkable: give up, or give ‘em hell.

Fans of Falling Skies, Wilder Girls, or The Walking Dead will love this queer sci-fi horror love story!

Content Warning: Alcohol, animal death, intense emotions: anxiety grief depression, sexual harassment, moderately explicit sex scene, homophobia/biphobia, gore, cheating, death of a loved one, murder

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REVIEW:

5 stars!

Oh my! Get ready for something exciting, wrought with terror, but so satisfying!

The Stars in Their Eyes is horrifyingly intense and gut-wrenching, full of twists and turns with never a dull moment. Even when the action calms and the characters are allowed a respite, their minds and emotions are engaged and on alert, reliving the past, frantically planning the next move, and hoping, always hoping for a positive outcome.

Calay is the epitome of impulsiveness; the character admits as much upfront. Her impulsivity is on full display throughout her story, and it both endangers her and saves her life. She is inspiring in that despite everything she comes up against, she fixedly remains determined to find the love of her life, Tess. She finds some good in what’s left of her world, but the people she encounters are almost all heinous, desperate, and cruel, the kind who come back to haunt you. The author’s vision of the collapse of humanity is grim but so realistic feeling. And I won’t soon forget Max.

The author’s imagery of the world after The Change allows readers to develop a clear picture of the conditions the characters are dealing with and are film-ready. The writing and flow of the plot will keep you glued to the pages way past bedtime. So much happens in what seems to be one three days.

The terrifying description of the sound of whirring and the agonized grinding of metal when the alien pods were nearby quickly put my nerves on edge. The whirring reminded me of the noise the aliens made in the 1953 The War of the Worlds film starring Gene Barry. I first saw this movie as a child (what were my parents thinking?!), and the result then was the same as it was the night having starting this book: a nightmare. Whew!

Besides the intense and terrifying alien action, the story also contains adult scenes of a sexual nature, romantic encounters, and others that are anything but. Our main character is half of a loving lesbian couple at the beginning of the story, a heterosexual couple when on the run, and there are many instances of the threat or attempts at rape. This book is not for youngsters.

I recommend THE STARS IN THEIR EYES to readers who would enjoy a dark queer sci-fi/post-apocalyptic love story, an engaging, sympathetic, and strong female protagonist, and a plot that isn’t the same old, same old; be ready for something entirely different!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kristy Gardner is a queer sci-fi fantasy writer.

Her debut queer dark sci-fi novel, THE STARS IN THEIR EYES, is coming October 18, 2022.

Furnished with degrees in Gender Studies and Sociology, she crafts complex female characters that adventure through space, time, and emotional maelstroms questioning what identity – and home – really mean.

Her debut novel, THE STARS IN THEIR EYES, comes out October 2022. She is also the author of the award-winning cookbook, COOKING WITH COCKTAILS.

When she’s not jet-setting words on her laptop, she’s chasing stars, mountain adventures, belly laughs, coffee, big dog cuddles, and planning her next trip to SE Asia. She resides in Vancouver, B.C., with her partner and 90-pound rescued American Bulldog, Riley.

She is represented by Julie Gwinn at The Seymour Agency.

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October 17th
Nine Bookish Lives – Interview
Never Hollowed By The Stare – Promotional Post
Cath’s Reads – Review & Playlist

October 18th
Jen Jen Reviews – Promotional Post
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review

October 19th
Brinns Books – Promotional Post
Althea Is Reading – Review

October 20th
The Book Dutchesses – Interview
And On She Reads – Promotional Post
Rajiv’s Reviews – Review

October 21st
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post
BookMeSomeTime – Review

October 22nd
Boys’ Mom Reads! – Review
Metaphors and Miscellanea – Promotional Post

October 23rd
Sadie’s Spotlight – Interview
Forthenovellovers – Review
Sheaf and Ink – Promotional Post

October 17th
rosyreadz – Top 5 Reasons to Read The Stars in Their Eyes & Mood Board
ninebookishlives – Blogger’s Choice
cather.reads – Blogger’s Choice

October 18th
writingrosereads – Promotional Post
popthebutterfly – Blogger’s Choice

October 19th
dreaminginpages -Promotional Post
brinnsbooks – Blogger’s Choice

October 20th
kathytrithardt – Review
rajivsreviews – Blogger’s Choice

October 21st
mostlyreadthings – Promotional Post
bookmesometime – Blogger’s Choice

October 22nd
booking.with.janelle – Promotional Post
metaphorsandmisc – Blogger’s Choice

October 23rd
tbrandbeyond – Promotional Post
sadiesspotlight – Blogger’s Choice
sheafandink – Blogger’s Choice

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Filed under Book Reviews, Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic, Fiction, Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi, Suspense

The Midnight Call by Jodé Millman

The Midnight CallThe Midnight Call by Jodé Millman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Was he insane or insanely clever and about to get away with murder?

When the phone rang at 1 AM, Jessica Martin knew something bad had happened. Her old high school history teacher and mentor, Terrence Butterfield, was on the other end of the line and told her he thought he’d killed someone and was now contemplating killing himself. An attorney, though her specialty was corporate law, Jessie took charge of the situation and told him to put his gun down, call the police and tell them there’d been an accident and nothing else, and she would be at his place as soon as she could get there.

Jessie, at almost eight months pregnant, lived with her fiancé, Kyle, and they both immediately headed to Butterfield’s home, arriving just as the first patrol car did. The officers stopped her from entering the house, but she could hear Terrence telling one inside that he’d killed someone, and a gruesome murder scene was found in the basement. Terrence was arrested and taken downtown, with Jessie and Kyle following behind. They waited in the lobby the rest of the night until a criminal attorney Jessie contacted arrived to take control of the case, and they were finally allowed to talk to Terrence in person.

Jeremy Kaplan had broken new legal ground as a young criminal defense attorney, but both his career and marriage had eventually soured, leaving him to take whatever cases he could scrounge. He’d eventually remarried and had a couple of children but continued having difficulties making ends meet. Jessie’s early morning call might give Jeremy the chance he needed to turn things around and once again have a sustaining practice. But the Butterfield case was going to be a tough one. He’d admitted to anyone that would listen that he’d killed the victim: the 18-year-old son from an important and well-known family in the town. But his job was to provide the man with the best defense he was capable of, no matter what.

Hal Samuels III was the Chief Assistant District Attorney, and the Butterfield case was as high-profile as they came. His politically ambitious boss, District Attorney Lauren Hollenbeck, counted on its successful prosecution to secure her a judgeship. That was fine by him, he’d do what he could to help her make her dream come true until he discovered his old law school flame, Jessica Martin, was mixed up with the defendant, and a ruthless prosecution could destroy her as well.

What an outstanding and exciting legal procedural! In The Midnight Call, the reader knows from the start who the killer is, though not the who nor the why of the act. The story revolves around the legal battle after the heinous murder is discovered and the impact it has on the characters, especially Jessie, Kyle, Jeremy, and Hal. There are dramatic consequences for all four, although none had a hand in the murder itself. The story is told from three points of view: Jessie’s, Jeremy’s, and Hal’s.

I loved the main character, Jessie. She wants to be loyal to her old mentor, her fiancé, her unborn child, and even her firm, but repeatedly her eyes get opened to secrets and hidden agendas. She’s so bright, earnest, and driven to be a good attorney, become a partner in the firm because she deserves it for all of her hard work, and have her baby with Kyle, whom she’s positive is 100% behind her and her dreams. It was heartbreaking to watch her physical struggles with her pregnancy and relationships.

Jeremy is another underdog in this story, and although I couldn’t like his client or what the man had done, I still wanted Jeremy to win his case. That was a tough sell, too, as his tactic could destroy Jessie’s career.

Hal has followed a path to success laid out for him, first by his parents and then by his ambitious boss. He knows he messed up with Jessie when they were in law school and seems willing to make things as right as possible. But the cost to his wife, Erin, and son, Tyler, is yet to be seen.

The Midnight Call is a fascinating legal thriller and modern domestic drama. The story is set in Poughkeepsie, New York, close to the big city but still with a hometown feel and appeal. I enjoyed watching the prosecution’s case being formulated and the creation of the defense’s strategies, but it was the personal dramas that really held my interest and kept me reading late into the night. Usually, I’m on the side of the defendant in these books, but although he has a sterling reputation and is touted as a handsome and charismatic man, he’s left all that behind by the time of the event in the book, and he was downright scary. I never knew what to think about him. Was he insane or insanely clever and trying to get away with murder?

I recommend THE MIDNIGHT CALL to mystery readers who enjoy legal thrillers with a focus on the characters and the impact the crime has on them.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

View all my reviews

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Legal Thriller, Mystery, Uncategorized

Book Blog Tour: Whiskers Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan by Carrie Carter

WHISKERS ABROAD
Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan
by CARRIE CARTER
Graphic Designer: Stacy Vickers
Fiction / Travelogue / Japan
Publisher: Bayou City Press
Pages: 170 pages
Publication Date: October 6, 2022
SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!

Whiskers Abroad is a lively and charming travelogue featuring a trip to Japan shared by two main characters, Audrey and Ashi, who alternate recounting their versions of events. Audrey, having won the chance to write a magazine article about traveling in Japan, takes along her cat, Ashi. Over the course of a twelve-day trip, the pair visit Tokyo, Wakayama, Shirahama, Kyoto, and Miura Peninsula. Food is of great interest to both, as they sample typical Japanese dishes from ramen to sushi to tuna specialties. They also explore Japanese culture, including food markets, a family farm, temples, and Tokyo nightlife.

Adventures abound, from Audrey losing Ashi in the fish market to Ashi slipping out of the hotel at night to go to a cat café, where he meets an alluring feline. Audrey is still trying to find her place in the universe, while Ashi believes Audrey would sink beneath the waves were he not present to rescue her time and again. Audrey is a dedicated reader of her horoscope, and the prediction for each day offers tantalizing clues as to what’s in store for the pair.

Written by author Carrie Carter and beautifully designed by Stacy Vickers, Whiskers Abroad is both an amusing travel story with unforgettable characters but also a useful guide for tourists going to Japan about such basic travel issues as how to get from the airport to central Tokyo, how to purchase a rail pass, what to visit in Tokyo, and what to eat. Lavishly designed with full-color photographs and arresting page layouts, Whiskers Abroad will delight both your eyes and your sense of adventure.

PRAISE FOR WHISKERS ABROAD:

Whiskers Abroad is simply a delight, offering respite and reflections that bring readers into Japan from different perspectives, capturing a writer’s journey through new foods, a different culture, and a cat’s eyes. It’s very highly recommended for its ability to reach beyond the usual travelogue audiences to immerse all ages in its fun adventure.” The Midwest Book Review

Character Interview

INTERVIEW WITH ASHI THE CAT,

co-author of

WHISKERS ABROAD:

Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan

 I’m so glad you are taking the time out of your schedule to participate in this interview. This is the first time I’ve ever interviewed a cat.

You were the writer for half of Whiskers Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan. How did you come up with the concept for it?

I saw Audrey typing about the upcoming trip on her laptop for her journal, and I thought I would do the same since I was also going with her to Japan. Of course, it really should have been my perspective only. A traveling cat is way more interesting than a traveling woman.

As a cat, how did you learn to read? With the follow-up question, how did you learn to use a laptop?

Audrey always read stories to me as a kitten. I paid attention to what she said and stared at the pages of the book. Over time, I picked up the meaning behind the squiggles, and read more on my own when she went to work. Eventually, I became literate enough to write. I learned how to use the laptop watching Audrey use it. People think their cats are being nuisances, sitting near a computer, or on the keyboard, but really, we are trying to educate ourselves about these things.

So, can all cats read and write?

Heavens no. They aren’t special like me. Besides, it’s not that they can’t, but most cats don’t have the inclination or desire. You really have to be exposed to stories as a kitten to want to pursue writing. The majority of felines are into the here and now. Writing takes you into the future or the past, so it doesn’t interest them.

Why didn’t Audrey run to the rooftops and shout she had a typing, story-telling cat?

Have you ever seen the Warner Brother’s cartoon with the singing frog? The man that finds him tries to show him off, and no one believes him? That would have happened to Audrey.

But you have a book coming out. Now everyone will know you are a cat writer.

Audrey had it published under fiction.

Will people think I’m crazy because I’m interviewing you?

Most likely, yes. Sorry about that.

What was your favorite thing about Japan?

The food! You wouldn’t believe how fresh and incredible the seafood was. I had oysters for the first time, juicy, flavorful, chewy nuggets of amazement.

Will there be a sequel?

I hope so!  Although I suppose it’s up to Audrey since she’s the one to book the flights and arrange everything. I mean, yes, I can type, and I used the airline website to upgrade to business class, but I don’t have a credit card. It seems hotels and airlines want you to pay for your reservations. I tried getting Audrey’s, but she keeps that in her purse, and even with using my teeth, I can’t get that zipper open.

Any final words?

If you see me out and about, take a photo with me. I love having my photo taken and posted on social media. Also, consider adopting a kitty from a shelter. He will forever love you for it.

Carrie Carter has a profound love for Japan, cats, sumo, dioramas, and eating unusual foods. She has traveled with her husband Jim to Japan fourteen times, so her numerous holidays across her favorite country were the inspiration for her first book, Whiskers Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan. Carrie has run multiple marathons including the Tokyo Marathon, and as expected, Carrie and Jim live with an adorable cat named Frenemy, who was unhappy at not being selected as the model for the book.
Carrie lives in Houston, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. At home, she loves to cook, design/create Halloween costumes, and daydream about meeting Jacques Pepin. She dislikes overly dramatic music used in reality TV shows. Currently, Carrie is working on her second book, a sequel to Whiskers Abroad, where Audrey and Ashi explore further into Japan and get themselves into even more interesting predicaments.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Blog Tour & Giveaway: Dangerous Beauty by Melissa Koslin

DANGEROUS BEAUTY

by

MELISSA KOSLIN

Fiction / Christian / Romance / Suspense

Publisher: Revell

Pages: 352 pages

Publication Date: September 6, 2022


SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!


What is the price of freedom?

Liliana Vela hates the term victim. She’s not a victim, she’s a fighter. Stubborn and strong with a quiet elegance, she’s determined to take back her life after escaping the clutches of human traffickers. But she can’t stay safely in America–unless the man who aided in her rescue is serious about his unconventional proposal to marry her.

Meric Toledan was just stopping at a service station for a bottle of water. Instead, he becomes the key to Liliana’s rescue. If he can keep his secrets hidden, his wealth and position afford him many resources to help her. But the mysterious buyer who funded her capture will not sit idly by while his prize is stolen from him.

| Amazon | Baker Book House | Christianbook |


PRAISE FOR DANGEROUS BEAUTY:

“Do not start this book until you have the time to read it in one gulp. This is a really fresh twist on a marriage of convenience with the potential for pages of suspense. The hero and heroine are each hugely compelling, and I just wanted to protect them both. It’s also a sweet story of the healing power of hope. Highly recommend this novel for those who adore romantic suspense with a fresh twist.” —Cara Putman, award-winning author of Flight Risk and Lethal Intent

“Koslin brings the underworld of human trafficking to life in a gripping yet redemptive plot.” –Booklist


Some of Author Melissa Koslin’s

favorite quotes from

DANGEROUS BEAUTY

He needed to keep her safe from the world. And from himself.

* * * * * * *

Meric was standing in front of the open refrigerator guzzling a bottle of water. His hair was disheveled and…there was a rip in the shoulder of his jacket.

“Meric, are you all right?”

He barely glanced in her direction, closed the refrigerator, and headed for the hall. “Fine.”

She considered following him, but when he didn’t look back, didn’t even pause before closing his bedroom door, she turned and went back to her room.

* * * * * * *

“So, it might not really be over. I’m not really free.”

* * * * * * *

Fear wrapped around her like vines. Not fear for herself. Fear for Meric. Could she be putting him in danger?

* * * * * * *

…there were certain things he had to keep from her.

* * * * * * *

He’d just about convinced himself the attack on her had been simply a random act of violence.

…But he still wasn’t sleeping well.

* * * * * * *

“We’re talking about Meric Toledan. You better have your ducks not just in a row but stacked and mortared like a brick wall.”

* * * * * * *

She lay there the rest of the night, trying not to shatter.


Melissa Koslin is a fourth-degree black belt in and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. In her day job as a commercial property manager, she secretly notes personal quirks and funny situations, ready to tweak them into colorful additions for her books. The author of Never Miss, Melissa lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her husband, Corey.

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

TWO WINNERS:

Each receives copies of Dangerous Beauty and Never Miss + $25 gift card to Bookshop.org

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 9/24/22.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,

OR VISIT THE PARTICIPATING BLOGS DIRECTLY:

9/14/22Chapter Break Book BlogExcerpt
9/14/22Hall Ways BlogBONUS Promo
9/15/22StoreyBook ReviewsReview
9/15/22LSBBT BlogBONUS Promo
9/16/22Book FidelityCharacter Interview
9/17/22The Plain-Spoken PenReview
9/18/22Boys’ Mom Reads!Notable Quotables
9/19/22All the Ups and DownsAuthor Interview
9/20/22Stories Under StarlightReview
9/21/22Shelf Life BlogTop 5 List
9/22/22Jennifer SilverwoodReview
9/23/22Reading by MoonlightReview

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Filed under Book Reviews, Christian fiction, Contemporary fiction, Fiction, Romance, Romantic Suspence, Suspense