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So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Month

August 2016

Night’s Embrace (Others of Seattle Book 1)

book cover of Nights Embrace “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” ― Bob Marley

OK, here’s the dealeo. When I first picked up Night’s Embrace (Others of Seattle Book 1) I was underwhelmed. ‘Instalove’ anyone? But, I was in a hot tub, glass of Merlot at hand, rolled towel behind my neck – So, what the heck? And you know something? It wasn’t all that bad, once you got past the typical ‘Boy meets girl. Instant attraction. Sex. Repeat.” scenario. Instead, Brandy L. Rivers has written a tale of hate, betrayal, love, death, and hope all wrapped up in the instalove that so many offer today. Of course, if those books didn’t sell, they wouldn’t be written, right?

Roxy Night, lead singer for Nights Embrace, is a sucker for a sob story, never as well illustrated as by the fact that she has carried her ex-boyfriend, Jordan, for the last five years, babying him out of obsessions, depressions, and maudlin weeping for her to return to him. Bailing him out of fraught situations, ignoring the sex addiction that broke up their relationship in the first place, and generally being a combination mother and babysitter for his whacked-out self. But Roxy is through. Through, I say! And when she meets Trevor, the lead singer of Lunar Storm, she has every intention of standing by her vow to let Jordan deal with his own problems.

So, how’s that workin’ out for you, Roxy?

Wolf shifters aren’t in Roxy’s world view. Nor are succubus, demons, incubus, or any other fae beasties that go bump in the night. But suddenly, she is thrust into that world she never knew, and staying alive through it may be impossible. For while Trevor and his band, as well as their mates, all seem to be good guys, a darkness follows them around – a darkness rooted in jealousy, hate, and an obsessive pair of wolves who will do anything to make sure Trevor suffers. And Roxy is right at the top of the list of ‘make Trevor suffer’ projects. Oh, and let’s not forget the father that Roxy never knew. Her mother may have protected her for most of her life, but mom is dead now, and Daddy Dearest is determined to capture Roxy and make her into the very type of monster he is.

I think I came to like Roxy’s book so well because, while there was that instalove thing that has come to be more than boring for me, there was also a strong thread of how friendships can often weather storms that can crush relationships, and how the vicious struggles of addiction, no matter what type, can destroy everything one holds closest to the heart. Oh, and let’s not forget the important part for me – no matter how evil one (or both!) of your parents are, your friends are the family you make for yourself.  3.5 stars.21848497

Oh, and one thing I will mention. The cover at the beginning of this post is the one on my copy. I noticed that Rivers has apparently changed the cover to this one. Personally? I much prefer the one on my copy! It shows off the model’s gorgeous eyes and classical features, and the wolf matches the one in the story. Just my opinion… 😉

 

 

 

 

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Tolkien, Brooks, and Really Bad Television

“Herein lies the heart and soul of the nations.
Their right to be free men,
Their desire to live in peace,
Their courage to seek out truth,
Herein lies the Sword of Shannara.”
― Terry Brooks, The Sword of Shannara

I first read “The Sword of Shannara” back in the 70’s. A true ‘Sword and Sorcery’ tale, complete with dragons and monsters, gnomes, elves, and all the rest, The Sword was high fantasy at its best. Flick and Shea Ohmsford, country boys, out to save the world. Then, of course, life happened, and though I read many of Terry Brook’s books, and listened to many more, the Shannara cycle fell to the back of my mind.

Recently, I came across The Shannara Chronicles, a 2016 television adaptation of the Shannara series, and gave it a try. With Austin Butler as Will Ohmsford, (and of course, you can’ have fantasy on television without John Rhys-Davies) the storyline is:

An Elvish tree, known as the Ellcrys, is dying. The bad news is that the tree has been the only piece of magic that protects the Four Lands from the Demon World. Amberle Elessedil is the only one who can save the tree. But she has to unlock magic that the Elves haven’t used in thousands of years. With the help of Wil Ohmsford, she travels to find the lost magic. But it won’t be an easy task. – Written by Chris Green

OK, the show was really bad. Dumbed down to reach the Twilight crowd, this group of hormonal teenagers really wasn’t pleasant to watch. True Shannara fans must have been throwing things at their television screens . . . I made it through the first one and then knocked it off my Netflix “watch” list. However, the show lead to me restarting the Shannara series itself. Though I have the paperbacks, (The top photo is of my edition, an oldie!) there was an audio copy at my local library, narrated by the incredible Scott Brick, so I picked it up to listen. What I found, after so many years, was a disappointment. Yes, the story is everything a Lord of the Rings (the photo at right is of a first edition set) fan could ask for. But that is exactly why I was disappointed. I simply couldn’t get over the parallels. It felt very much like ‘same song, different verse’.

“Long ago, the wars of the ancient Evil ruined the world. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles. But the supposedly dead Warlock Lord is plotting to destroy everything in his wake. The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, which can be used only by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races.” – Smile.Amazon.com blurb

Then, I sat back and laughed at myself. Snotty much? I first read LoTR many, many years ago, when I was still in elementary school, and it set my expectations for books for many years to follow. And while the overarching storyline is indeed very similar, what did I expect? This is sword and sorcery at its finest – a genre I have loved all my life. And as amazing as that Oxford Don proved to be, he single-handedly developed a genre that was the focus for all that were to come. And Mr. Brooks is, in my opinion, the greatest of those followed in the footsteps of the Giant of the genre, the father of them all.

7347Stricken ill after the Battle of the Somme in 1916, Tolkien first began writing The Book of Lost Tales to pass the time as he recovered. By 1925 he was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, and the literary world would never be the same. Brooks’ story is much different. Growing up in the rural midwestern town of Sterling, Illinois, he gained a BA in English Literature, but like many of his generation, that Lit degree didn’t go far, and he moved on to gain a J.D. from Washington and Lee University, practicing law for many years before beginning 7346his writing career in earnest. As the Shannara Wikia puts it:

“One day, in his early college life, he was given a copy of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, which inspired him to write in one genre.”

And his writing really is inspired. Though drawing heavily from the tales of his beloved predecessor, Brooks developed a story beloved by millions, just as Tolkien did before him.Magic Kingdom For Sale.jpg

If you are a lover of all that is sword and sorcery, this series, and the other works of Brooks (I am partial to the Magic Kingdom of Landover series. Bumbling wizards, evil dragons, talking dogs and all. . .) are all wonderful. If you haven’t picked up any of his books, and I can’t imagine you haven’t if you are a reader of fantasy at all, you should. And if, like me, you haven’t visited this marvelous world in years, then you should. Enjoy!


Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain (Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles Book 1)

Magic of the Gargoyles (Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles Book 1) by Rebecca Chastain

“Just really, really believe in what you’re trying to do. Don’t let people alter that. Let people advise you and lead you down paths to make smart business decisions. But trust your instinct and trust that overwhelming drive that made you put all your dreams and everything on the line.” – Luke Bryan

Magic of the Gargoyles
All Mika Stillwater wants to do is finish this finicky, delicate job, get paid, and maybe, just maybe, get some sleep. That doesn’t seem like such a huge request, does it? After all, if she can finish the delicate crystal vials for that grumpy, obnoxious healer apprentice Althea Stoneward, she will be that much closer to blowing off her dreary Jones and Sons Quarry job and opening her own shop. Just twelve little vials, and all of her dreams will have their true beginning.

Really. It wasn’t that much to ask.

However, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. And Mika’s wishes are shattered, in more ways than one, when a baby gargoyle slams into her life. Literally. Now, Mika must decide between fulfilling her dreams or saving a clutch of baby gargoyles from true evil. What’s a girl to do? Why, saddle up and ride to the rescue!

I have been fortunate lately to read a few books that have impressed me in their portrayal of strong women characters, and this is one of them. Mika doesn’t have any illusions about her powers making her Superwoman. Instead, she is modest almost to a fault, realizing her boundaries and working hard to move herself beyond them. She is kind and honorable, willing to do what has to be done, even if it destroys her own dreams, just because it is right. Ms. Chastain’s world-building is beautifully wrought and believable within its context, and left me wanting to learn more about the world in which Mika lives. The characters are well drawn, and pace and context well designed. There is no ‘romance’ to the book, this is straight fantasy, and well worth the read.

The next book in the series is “Curse of the Gargoyles” and I already have it downloaded through Kindle Unlimited to my tablet.  The third book in the series, “Secret of the Gargoyles” is in print now.

Enjoy!

Shadowed Flame by RJ Blain

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“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.” –  Junichiro Tanizaki

Matia Evans knows the strength of silence. A sword and a cudgel, silence is the friend that never leaves her side. And in her world of shades of black, white, and gray, silence is the truth that delves past the face of glamour. She has never seen blue, yellow, or green. But when terrorists blow up La Guardia Airport while she and her father are waiting for their plane to Boston, that particular shade of charcoal announcing the color others call ‘red’, the supposedly vibrant crimson of blood, splashes, drips and pools. And Matia Evans will never be the same. For, after hours of pushing and bullying the other survivors into searching the ruins for survivors alongside her, in a devastated and blocked off Terminal B, Matia is dying. Funny. After hours on end of brutal, bloody labors, finding endless corpses, but at times the joy of the forms of the living, Matia is dying in the lap of a stranger, of smoke inhalation and the chemical funk which permeates the air. And she’s OK with that. Lives were saved, her life ends on a positive note, and at least if her father really is dead, he will have gone before her. He won’t have to mourn her loss.

But sometimes, unlike taxes, the shadow of Death may be turned away. And when Matia wakes up in hospital, her life is about to change in ways she would have, could have, never expected.

I first read and reviewed Ms. Blain with “Beneath the Blood Moon” and though I really did enjoy it, I was disappointed that her work could have benefited from a content editor to make sure she tied up all her loose ends and kept her story focused. That isn’t the case with “Shadowed Flame.” This is, by far, one of the better written stories in the YA/Paranormal genre. And while there is a romance, it is so well written I hate to call it “Paranormal Romance.” Yes, it is there, but it is only a portion of a rich tapestry of story, character and world.  (Oh, and it is ‘clean’ too. We don’t have to know exactly ‘how’ the bedroom calisthenics are carried out – only that they occur – and they are only a small part of the overarching story line.) I was surprised, and incredibly pleased, to follow the story of Matia, her struggles, losses and pain, but also her deep conviction and drive to do the right thing, no matter the pain it caused her. Ms. Blain has written a story with solid character development and world building, two of the most important things I look for in books. Her writing is focused and crisp, and her development of Matia, especially, is probably the best representation of a driven, dedicated, loving young woman of character and strength. Only eighteen, she has taken the gifts she was given and blossomed into a woman who others respect. And when she actually opens her mouth and speaks, well, people do tend to listen.

This isn’t a silly book by any means. A good portion of the story comes before the La Guardia explosion, and builds your understanding and care for Matia and her father, as well as the more minor players in her life. Her father is a hoot, I truly enjoyed his character as well. To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure I was going to like Matia.

“For the third time since arriving at work two hours ago, Dad tripped over his own feet and smacked face first into the carpet. The thump of him hitting the floor drowned out my sigh. I debated whether to get up and help him or stay at my desk and observe his efforts to restore his dignity.”

Of course, by the second page I had grasped their relationship, sighing and rolling my own eyes over the incident. Between Ralph’s apparent ‘Clumsy Curse’ and Matias parsimonious use of words, their relationship has a comedic balance that is apparent throughout the book, always showing up at unexpected times. There is a deep love and understanding between the two that made the whole book worthwhile on its own.

Once Ms. Blain begins the ‘paranormal’ portion of the book, there is a maturity and dignity to the characters that I much admired. There isn’t the ‘wham-bam’ sort of presentation of other, less developed books in the genre. ‘See woman. Take woman. HEA. The End.’ Instead, Ms. Blain turns the paranormal romance portion of the book on its head, in a most interesting way. I would have read the book just for that fact, but it is so much more that I simply couldn’t put it down.

I am impressed, and very pleased, that I picked up Shadowed Flame, and am anxious to learn how you like it as well. Though I wasn’t able to give Beneath the Blood Moon a more than moderate rating, I am very happy to say I give this one full marks! You can pick up Shadowed Flame here. It is on Kindle Unlimited, so you can read for free, or purchase the book for your library.

#FREE Today: #Harbinger – Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3

If you haven’t tried the series before, you should. Excellent writing!

The Write Stuff

HarbingerFREE TODAY AND TOMORROW ONLY!
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3

Just a quick reminder, the 3rd book in the Wake-Robin Ridge series is FREE today and tomorrow only.

The story of one man slowly being driven mad by guilt, while another grows closer to his very gifted son every day, Harbinger is full of love, laughter, and oh, yeah–shivers galore. Through it all, MacKenzie Cole  and that little boy named Rabbit form an unbreakable bond, as they work together to right a terrible wrong.

And remember, in the mountains, you can run, but you can’t hide! Not forever, and certainly not from the Black Dog!

Wake-Robin Ridge Book 1
A Boy Named  Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3

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Writer’s Publishing Workbook Release!

Because we all need a bit of help every once and a while! 😉 Thanks, Jo!

Jo Robinson

I’ve been a very crazy busy bunny these last few months. I still have absolutely no clue what’s happening with my life as a whole, so all I can do really is do what I do best and try and enjoy the ride. I’ve made some fabulous new author friends who have signed on as clients for my proofreading, formatting or cover design services just lately, a couple of whom made such an impact on me, I’ll be introducing them here at some point along the way. In the meantime I want to share one of my own projects for all you scribblers out there.

It’s no secret that I love helping Indies. Back in the mists of time I shared every mind-blowing “secret” that I discovered along my own publishing journey, often inciting the wrath of those who thought that those secrets should only be shared for lots of…

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Alright All You Fiber People Out There-I Have A Puzzle For You!

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So, I stopped by Goodwill to check on the possibility of a pressure cooker being there that might have a handle like I need for that pot (Nancy at Goodwill says they get in pressure cookers all the time, but they go fast!) and I came across a UKO . . . an UnKnown Object!

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I saw this in my local Goodwill, and it is driving me nuts! I have to know what it is for….

I thought that possibly it was a yarn winder, but the sides holding the roller are solidly built, it doesn’t open up to let the roller slip out easily (though you can do it…)

It would be possible to use it as a yarn winder, but then there is the canvas “leader” fabric. You see it is connected to the bar at the front (?) of the device. Or maybe I should look at it from the other direction. . . yea, maybe that is it? If so, maybe a warp winder?

If the lead (or whatever it is) was attached so it could be wound around the drum it would make more sense, instead of being attached to that crosspiece. I considered buying it, just for the glass doorknob on the handle! There is one piece of the “drum missing, otherwise, it is in fairly good shape – whatever it is! You can see from the photos that the roller bars have seen use – the stain is worn off.

I have a sinking suspicion  that 1) I will find out what it is and go “Doh!” while slapping my head, or, 2) I will find out it has nothing to do with fiber art at all!

Anyway! Any ideas? Theories? Wild guesses? I am tempted to buy it, just to be able to sit and stare at it to try to figure out how it works! LOL…
Thanks, Leiah

Never Mind the Princess! Save the Dragon! A Michael Angel Short Story

21314850By now you are surely familiar with Michael Angel’s Fantasy and Forensics series that I am so enamored of. But did you know Michael is quite the comedian as well?

Never Mind the Princess, Save the Dragon! is a comedic fairy tale just right for when you want a giggle and have a few minutes to spare. Only 64 pages, there is no sex, little violence, but a great deal of snorting laughter!

I don’t want to give a lot away, but picture this. A Polish Knight. A spoiled little girl slash young woman. Add in a greedy king and a sweet little dragon, and what you get is a hoot. Grab it for $.99, or get it free on Kindle Unlimited, but Sir Maximilian Maselniczka is well worth the read!

Enjoy!

 

Forgery of the Phoenix is Here! Fantasy and Forensics, Book Five

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“The handwriting on the wall may be a forgery.” –  Ralph Hodgson

“Sometimes you trust someone who turns out not to be honest. There are a lot of things that happen in life that don’t turn out the way you’re given the impression that they will. And I think that’s all kind of a con. But I think we’ve probably all been hurt.” – Sigourney Weaver

Poor Dayna! Isn’t it enough that she has saved the land of Andeluvia over and over, and never gotten even a “Thank you” for her efforts? I mean, come ON guys! You beat a demon, save a couple of races, and keep warning the whole planet that a war, fought long ago, is heating up once more . . . and all she gets is laughed at!? Wow. Talk about disrespectful!

The Royal Court doesn’t listen. Life back home on Earth is going sideways faster than she can say “Great big gobs of greasy, grimy Griffin Poo!” What is a girl to do??? Oh, and don’t even get me started on the King! Not only does he only intermittently have Dayna’s back. Ohhh no! Since Dayna was given the rather dubious title of “Dame Chrissie” the costs for renovating her tower are going up. Who was to know that, when she turned down tenant farmers and lands, not wanting to be responsible for all that, she was also turning down the income that comes with it? And the King? Well, well well. Being the “Kingly” sort, in the “I’m broke and have to pay all these people, so I am going to stick it to Dame Chrissie” (Really. You honestly didn’t notice that certain parties were draining your treasury?! Sigh.) way, Dayna has been awarded the “Great Honor” of becoming the one and only member of the Order of the Weasel. Whaaa?!?!

Yep, the Order of the Weasel. Or, better known as The Order of the Welchers. Who happened to leave behind nearly a quarter million in debt. Which, of course, Dame Chrissie is expected to pay.

You gotta be kidding me!

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the Phoenix who pops out of the fireplace during a meeting of the Royal Court is determined that Dame Chrissie shall save his whole species from extinction!

Can a girl not get a freakin’ Break?

Join Dayna and her friends, Grimshaw the Griffin, the Fayleene Protector of the Forest, and Galen the Centaur Wizard on their newest adventure, as they fight off the depredations of evil (If they can figure out what the “evil” is), and take on another wonderful, magical adventure!

If you like your fantasy with fun, you will LOVE Michael’s writing, especially the Fantasy and Forensics series, of which Forgery of the Phoenix is the fifth! And don’t forget to check out all the other books in the series. They are best read in order 😉 Enjoy!!!

Click here for the Series on Goodreads!

Click here for Michael Angel’s Website!!!

I work with Michael on his books. All thoughts are my own.

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