How often these days can you say that you just read a lovely, sweet story? The YA stories these days seem to be all about angst, teenage lust-triangles, vicious werewolves and vampires. In other words, dark.
This is a ‘supernatural’ story, but entirely different from the norm. Three young witches, Electra, Cassandra and Medea, live in a small village where once witchcraft was the norm. Now, witches are confined to living on ‘the other side of the river’ (read, “the other side of the tracks”) and magic is frowned upon. Never fear, the girls are determined to learn magic spells, even if their Aunt Andromeda frowns on it! Along comes Eric O’Brian, sent to live in the village of Hollow because of his bad hehavious, because you know YA books have to have a ‘boy-interest,’ right?
What happens next is just plain fun. There is funny magic, flying brooms and mystery, oh, my! If you are tired of all the angst so common amongst today’s YA novels, this is definitely the book for you. It’s lovely for your daughter (or son!) but as an adult, I found it just as much fun.
Try it. It is a bit slow at the first, but don’t let that stop you. And yes, she needs an editor. But still, this is the first of a series (three so far) and I look forward to reading the rest.
Disclaimer: I received this book in return for a realistic review. This has no influence on my review.
I am still working away on editing, so I am not going to be able to post much today. I do want to let you know that 100% of proceeds for sales of Entangled, a Paranormal Anthology, still go to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation THROUGH THE END OF AUGUST! There is still time to buy the book for such an incredible cause. Besides, the book itself is incredible, so you can’t lose! And just think – Christmas in July – you can buy the book for those ‘hard-to-buy-for’ friends and family members (and NOT so hard to buy for also!) and feel good about your purchase!
Click the link above to read my review on Amazon and, if you would, please click the “This Review Was Helpful” button, and then comment on your purchase? It will help me draw attention to the book and the good work the BCRF is doing! Remember, at $2.99, it costs less than a single Starbucks Latte, and it does a whole lot more good for your body and your soul!
With all that is bad with this world, that some people can be so generous, giving and kind. That is what happened here, as this wonderful group of authors gave generously of their time to write this group of amazing shorts, especially to benefit the Beast Cancer Research Foundation.
As a survivor myself of advanced Stage III breast cancer, I cannot tell you what a great help the Foundation was to me, and to others like me. My heartfelt thanks to all these women who gave a part of their hearts in these stories!
Proceeds from this wonderful paranormal, contemporary anthology, Entangled, are being donated to the Foundation in full. Please, purchase a copy. It costs less than a cup of Starbucks Latte, and these stories will nourish your soul. Thank you!
Gypsy girl Gwen Frost has the gift of psychometry – the ability to collect images from things she touches. Pretty cool, if a little nosy at times. Hey, she is a teenager, what should we expect?
In this short story, Gwen and her friend Daphne, a Valkyrie, are primping out for Halloween when we first meet them. Well, at least Daphne is. Gwen? Well, not so much.
I haven’t read any of Gwen’s young adult tales previously, though I have heard nothing but good from authors I know and admire. Set at Mythos Academy, the stories revolve around a teenage girl and her friends, learning magic, how to fight and how to serve their ancient Warrior Ancestors. Having not read Jennnifer’s work before I would say that the overall feel is very ‘Percy Jackson’ though, from this short reading, I would say that should I read the first of the series, First Frost I believe I would like Gwen and her friends quite a bit more than I liked Percy. One thing that does bother me about the story? Gwen apparently keeps getting her ashes pulled out of the fire by a “Big Strong Drool Worthy Spartan” – bummer. Girls rock, let’s see her Kick some butt, not get hers saved!!!! On top of that, Why is it the BOY teenage wizard characters get all the attention in the media?! No fair. I liked Gwen’s personality better than Harry’s too – shh… don’t tell anyone, I don’t want to be lynched! LOL
Cute story that gives you enough of a taste of the mythology and background to capture your interest and place Gwen and friends on your reading list if it isn’t already there.
Note: Jennifer Estep’s grandmother is a breast cancer survivor and this story was written to honor her strength and spirit, as well as that of other survivors.
Another writer I haven’t previously read, Edie Ramer’s story, The Fat Cat was a perfect introduction to her writing. Funny, quirky and highly readable, Edie’s story is a happily-ever-after fairey tale with a healthy dollop of excitement to round it out.
Nikki just lost her loser boyfriend (thank goodness) and has decided that the perfect companion is no longer a man, but a cat. A young, healthy, female cat. After the loser boyfriend, she fully intends for her apartment to be a ‘penis-free’ zone! What she gets and where it goes from there is a fun romp of a tale with a surprise twist of an ending that left me uplifted and laughing. I believe it will leave you similarly touched.
Note: Edie is herself a breast cancer survivor. Though fairly young and doing all the right things for her health, Edie’s story is like many others who suffer this horrible disease. It strikes out of nowhere, destroying lives, families and souls.
I have had the satisfaction of visiting with Nancy Haddock on Good Reads, and it has been a great pleasure. She is the person who originally introduced me to Entangled: A Paranormal Anthology when we talked about my own breast cancer, books, genres, writing and other ideas. She is a lovely person, inside and out.
Colleen Cotton worked her fanny off to get her degree and start her psychotherapy practice. However, finding clients was harder than she thought. Well, until she discovered a knack for ghosts. And then? Everything changed. Now, if it goes bump in the night (or the day, for that matter) Colleen can interact with it. And usually sooth it. Trouble is, once the ghost is gone, the client no longer needs her. Bummer.
In this short by Nancy, the ghosts are restless – not on behalf of others, as in a haunting, but rather on behalf of themselves. If the ghosts themselves are frightened, there must be something particularly nasty on the wind. And someone particularly handsome, and particularly slanderously rude stuck in her living room wing-back.
Now, besides the ghosts themselves having the heebie-jeebies, the legend of St. Augustine (a breast cancer and lymphoma survivor herself) has more trouble with her House Ghost Zavier who is spazing out in a most irritating manner. What is happening is a fascinating story, and brought me a great deal of pleasure. Mostly because Colleen is so likeable and her Da is a hoot. Will without a doubt add Nancy’s work to my read-list!
Note: Nancy lost her beloved grandmother to the ravages of breast cancer, as did far too many of her friends and family members. She begs that all women, young and old, do breast self-exams and have yearly mammograms, as well as living a healthy lifestyle.
What a cool thing to be – a Vengeance Demon! That is what Kali Sweet is, and her main goal in her existence is to protect humans. Oh, she can protect us from our own dumbass selves, but she can certainly try to save them from supernaturals. And working for the Bridge Council, the supernatural version of the Justice Department, lets her do just that.
Another author I hadn’t found before – how cool is that? This is the great thing about anthologies – you get to find all these wonderful authors you didn’t know about before you found their story amongst other little gems. And this one sparkled!
I adore it when stories and characters have a sense of humour, and Misty doesn’t disappoint. However, she weaves a deep layer of darkness through this story and has addicted me to her character. She will definitely be on my to-read list!
Note: Misty managed a breast and cervical cancer-screening program for uninsured women. She also lost an aunt to breast cancer, and recently had a friend go through a double mastectomy.
Vampires and humans are living in a fragile balance in this young adult short story by Dale Mayer, another author I was unfamiliar with. Geeze! You would think I never read! Sian is a vampire whom you first meet as she works desperately to free her lover, Taz, a human, from the clutches of a “Blood Farm” the humans know nothing about. A farm where humans are hung, like sides of meat, and kept for their blood. Her determination to save Taz, and her strength, endeared her to me.
Sian and Taz are minor characters in Dale’s Vampire in Denial series. If they are indicative of Dale’s characters, I look forward to finding time to read more of her work.
Note: Dale’s aunt and two friends are breast cancer survivors.
Crossroads, Mississippi. The home and stomping grounds of Sheriff Ava Dushaine, but not exactly the first place you would think of for paranormal activities to be the norm. Werewolves and vampires, oh what a set of critters to try to enforce law and order upon. Oy. Especially when it’s been only ten-years since the ‘coming out’ party for the goolies and goblies and things that go bump in the night. And the dead bodies that are currently showing up in Ava’s county. But who is to blame? The wolves? The vampires? Or something even more deadly?
Note: Cynthia speaks of friends who have struggled with breast cancer. Thank you, Cynthia, for your contribution to this anthology!
I love scones. My favorite is dark chocolate chunks with dried cranberry and walnuts. Yummers, yummers!! So, of course, with the first page of Michelle’s story including scones and cupcakes and tarts, (oh, my!) I was happy to settle in for this story.
Chloe O’Shea is a baker with a secret. She is a witch on the run, running from her previous coven. A coven filled with secrets. Secrets, and murder. Hiding in plain site amongst the humans as a baker and owner of Sugar Mamma’s Bakery, Chloe has been enjoying her new life. Well, until a sexy hunka-hunka burning man invades her bakery. And suddenly, Sugar Mamma’s is under siege, and Chloe’s new life is blown all to hell.
Note: Michelle has donated her story to this anthology to honour all those who have suffered from not only breast cancer, but cancer of all types.
Who was Aidan Callaghan? A seemingly simple question. With a rather complex answer . . .
I have to admit, I am not a fan of, what do you call it? Regency romance, I believe? This story is set in 1859 England, so whatever that means is what I mean! Surprisingly, however, I found this piece quite entertaining and pleasant. My feeling on these pieces is based on a despite for a society that saw and treated women as belongings. Women of the period were often little more than pretty baubles, with no power and no recourse from brutality or ill usage. I suppose that is why I have never cared for these period pieces – women as toys, easily left behind as broken bits, crushed under the male heel. This is a fate Mary Ellen is terrified of, and with good reason. Her background is one of crushing poverty, and she has no intention of returning there. When she meets Aidan, she sees only that falling for him could put her right back into that place, and it terrifies her. But Aiden is so utterly fascinating, so intriguing; she can’t help but wonder what his story might be. And his story is one she could never have imagined.
This is another lovely addition to the anthology. I may not read others of her works, but I found this quite pleasant overall. Should you be a lover of period pieces, this is highly recommended. Or even if you, as I, are not a lover of same, you may still find it as enjoyable as did I.
Note: Lori lost not only an aunt, but also a grandmother and a grandfather to cancer. This story was contributed to honour their memories, and to provide hope for those who still suffer.
Liz’s story is one I truly got a kick out of. Jenna is a Practitioner (a fancy title for a recognized witch) who has a big job to do. A weird, quirky job, but an important one, not only to her but to all Practitioners. Did I mention the weird part? Politics, backstabbing and nasty people, oh, my! A cat, a witch and a pimp walk into a bar . . .
This is a lovely little story, unusual and quirky, funny and well worth the read.
Guess what, Michelle? You did a kickin’ job with your very first Contemporary/ Paranormal short! A self-avowed historical fiction writer, Michelle has written a terrific short story full of action, close calls, and a heartrending take on military horrors. Each time I think the last story was the best I read in this anthology, each author seems to kick things up a notch, in a very good way.
Kelli has been imprisoned and tortured for three years, her small gift of telekinesis pushed beyond all limits, while ‘Dr. Greenway’ and the sadistic orderlies torture and abuse her and her gifts, twisting her mind and body. She is nearly beyond all hope, when a fluke occurs, and Kelli has a chance. What happens next is by turns exciting, heart wrenching, and disappointing – disappointing because I would happily buy a book based upon this short story and I am not sure that there are any plans for one!
Note: Michelle’s grandfather, mother-in-law and aunt died of cancer, and she states that any small part she can play in helping to find a cure for this disease is something she is proud to do.
Ghostly Justice (A Seven Deadly Sins Novella) Allison Brennan
Detective Grant Nelson has had a bad month. A. Very. Bad. Month. Demons, black witches, supernatural war. And he had to cover it up. Besides the fact that his girlfriend was massacred in the mess. Now, he has another job to do, and some people he truly doesn’t like are the only ones who will be able to help him; that is, if anyone can help him at all. Did I mention that Detective Nelson has had a bad month?
This novella is partway through Allison’s Seven Deadly Sins series. Though it doesn’t fit ‘exactly’ into the concept of returning the Seven Deadly Sins Demons to Hell, it still does an excellent job of giving you a wonderful feel of the story behind the story, and introduces you to Moira and Rafe, kick-butt demon hunters, as they return a favour for the wounded Detective Nelson. The story is fast paced and truly interesting, with a solid story line and great character development. I had read the first of Allison’s series quite some time ago, but never got time to read the rest. After reading this novella? I believe my TBR list (which is groaning under the weight) may have to have a new addition.
Note: As Allison puts it; we all know someone, and sometimes more than one someone, who has been stricken by breast cancer. Thanks to Allsion, and all the other incredible authors who donated stories to this anthology, funding is just that much closer to helping find a cure.
Michael Hurley’s astoundingly good novel, The Prodigal was chosen as a finalist along with four other novels by reviewers for the 2013 annual BookBundlz Book Club Pick contest. The finalists were announced on August 1. This is an annual contest to select the best novel for thousands of book club members around the world. The reviewers selected the finalists, but the winning book, to be named on September 1, will be determined solely by the greatest number of votes from the general public between now and August 31. People can sign up at the BookBundlz website to vote once per day and see where each of the five finalists stands in the running day by day. Here’s where you go to vote: http://www.bookbundlz.com/votingpage.aspx
As many of you know, I have used The Prodigal as a favoured book recommendation to my followers on GoodReads and have been happy to do so. I hope those of you who have received the recommendation have purchased the book and enjoyed it as much as I have. If not, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Winning this contest means enormous exposure for the book and the author, which explains why Random House and other established publishers have 3 out of the 5 books in the finals. This is an AMAZING FEAT for a self-published author.
When was there placed before your eyes the idea of most fervent love, the male and female embracing each other so closely that they could no more be torn asunder, but through unsearchable love became one? – Arthur Edward Waite The Golden Tract
After a few weeks of tweaking and tightening with Jillian, as her proofreader and editor, Jillian proudly placed Wicked on Amazon.com for sale. She should be proud! This is a wonderful, wildly creative novel. Jillian has a very distinctive voice in this novel. Her turn of phrase is enhanced by a ‘wicked’ sense of humour as she carries you back through billions of years of creation – then turns creation on it’s head.
In Wicked angels and demons and creation (oh, my!) have been around since the Big Bang (yes, there really was one of those, you mean you really doubted it?). How boring is that, the same old same old, eon after eon? One must what one must, and if you are a Half-Angel, Half-Demon, Half-Elf and Half-Goddess (hum? Yes, yes, that is quarters, but then, you weren’t there when it happened, were you?) and have lived as long as Sev has (well, that isn’t really her name, but hey, if you, well, wouldn’t you get bored and want to change your name too?) and you are stuck on Earth for no reason you can remember, it sucks to be tasked by grandpa Yahweh to kill off your husband, Lucifer. Yes, that Lucifer. Hum? Didn’t know Lucifer was married? Oh, yea, baby! The love of the millenniums, don’t ya’ know.
What follows is by turns funny, sad, exciting and ultimately awe-inspiring. Angels and demons are, after all, just human in their own way, right? That whole ‘created by the same creator’ clause in the contract. With all the shortcomings, pain, longing and heartache any self-respecting celestial being should suffer. The metaphysical equivalent of Romeo and Juliet, Sev suffers as she pines for her great love, Luc, while Luc himself suffers the slings and arrows of self-flagellation, longing for things that were and were not, and should never have come to pass, if it ever really did and it wasn’t just a figment of his imagination. Or Sev’s. Or maybe Yahweh’s.
Overall, this is a metaphysical romp of the ‘well, yes, that’s what was said, but realllllly’ sort that was both exciting and frustrating to edit. Well, what can I say? No contractions?! I guess being a celestial being trying to speak English without an accent is sort of irritating, huh?
If you have a wicked sense of humour, this is definitely the book for you. If you don’t have a wicked sense of humour? Grow one. You really don’t want to miss this tour-d-force of laughs, snide commentary, misunderstandings on a universal scale and moments of great and abiding love. Throw all your expectations out the window of the Enterprise NCC-1701A (Hey, I like originals) at warp eleven, settle in, and enjoy. You won’t regret it!
Veiled Eyes C.L. Bevill – An atmospheric, wonderful tale
Louisiana is, in her heart, a mystical, magical land. In the bayous, where government and politics hold little sway, the real beating heart of the land resides. Here, the songs of her blood sing out in the voices of the birds, the roar of an alligator, the sound of the wind in the leaves. Her skin is this land of water and warm air, her hair the Spanish moss, growing lushly from the limbs of cypress trees rising full and strong from the bayous. She breathes the scent of water and growth, flowers and fecundity. And in this land of age and history, even the people of the lands are strange and wonderful in their own way – and some are frightening beyond all reason. For bad reasons, but for what they consider good ones too. Frightening.
Anna St. Thais knows nothing of this land, or its people. Abandoned on the doorsteps of a church in El Paso when only a few weeks old, Anna is alone her whole life, battered from pillar to post, from orphanage to foster home. Life has never been easy, and her luck has never been good. However, she has always had a ‘little friend’ living in the back of her head, helping her to make decisions, warning her of danger. And a voice in her head that visits her on occasion, sneaking into her dreams and touching her heart.
When we first meet Anna, she is hitchhiking across the country, trying to reach New Orleans where her foster home friend, Jane, has offered her a new job and a new home. It’s tough to keep your job as a car mechanic when the bosses jerk-off son drops a car hood on your hand to try to take your job away and give it to his just as jerk-off friend. And, with her usual string of bad luck in full force, she is mugged, robbed, had her car taken – and she hasn’t even made it all the way across Texas yet. Forced into hitchhiking, her ‘little friend’ in her head, that usually protects her from making bad choices when it comes to trust, checks out and leaves here alone. Alone, to accept a ride from a psychotic.
Terrified, drugged and in pain, the presence is back with a vengeance, determined to rescue Anna, whether she believes the presence exists or not. What follows is a story of mysticism and history, of stories and family. This is a beautifully written story, blending the voice of the Lake with French Cajun patois, with a smoothness and depth that draws in the reader and sooths the soul.
This is a fantasy, but it is much more. It is a tale of history and belief, of stories and hope. The people Anna comes to know, her unknown family, are a family in truth – a group of people bound by blood and belief, and by an incredible talent that turns their face from the world.
You can’t love every person in a tale, but as a whole, these people I truly loved. They are close and caring, determined to protect their family and their way of life. The story is complex and richly written, and draws in the discerning reader immediately. There were some issues that were a bit confusing, when it came to the italics used for mind-to-mind communications, however, I am not sure that those problems weren’t due to formatting for Kindle. I have seen that sort of thing often. Otherwise? I fell into the book to the point that I could nearly feel the breeze off the bayou against my skin. It was wonderful, lush and rich as a bite of praline.
The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox 3.5 stars
Great comedy and characters, lost a half-star for a rushed romance
Sometimes, Amazon’s ‘Freebie” program turns up a jewel. And with The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox, I am thrilled to say I wound up with a ruby. Hey, I like rubies better than diamonds, so sue me!
Come on, who wouldn’t be thrilled to have a kick-butt, 70-something, pink-Harley-riding grandma show up on your doorstep on your 30th birthday to help you kick demon backside? Well, if you happen to be the ‘turning-thirty-preschool-teacher” hiding in the bathroom from said grandma, things can get a bit confusing, but come on. A Pink Harley? Got to love it!
And the action only starts there. Strap your hyperactive Jack Russell into a ferret bag across your chest, hop on the back of Grandma’s Hog, (even if you do get carsick in anything faster than a tricycle) and take off for the Red Skull Hog Ridin’ Grannies biker bar, with demons in pursuit. What happens after had me grinning like a crazed biker granny myself, as Lizzie and Grandma kick fanny and take names across the American South – and a good portion of Hell.
This is the first time I had heard of Angie Fox, and I am thrilled to say it won’t be the last of her books that I intend to roll around in like a dog in road kill (hey, you will get the reference when you read the book – and DO read the book!) Her whole Accidental Demon Slayer series (two three-volume sets) is already on my Nook and set up to read. I also grabbed the first in her Monster Mash series (the 3063rd M.A.S.H. unit, location – limbo). Angie has a wicked sense of humour, a brilliant touch with her characters, and her writing shows great pace and timing. In Accidental there is, of course, a ‘love interest’, and as usual said romantic twist rolls forward much too quickly for reality, but I have given up on the idea that any book with romance included as part of the plot isn’t going to include rolling around in the sack and declaring undying love within the first two days of meeting. Meh. At least in Angie’s book, Lizzie isn’t totally spineless. She stands up to betrayal and kicks it in the cohones. And the betrayer, too. So, no harm, no foul as they say.
I admit, I had to laugh at some of the low-star reviews. Come on, people! This is fantasy!!! I think that, sometimes, people get so wrapped up in their expectations, whether they be expectations of “realism” or expectations based upon what other writers do (“familiars” and whatnot) that they can’t just sit back, relax, and enjoy something new. It seems that some people wanted formula – shapeshifters shifting every two seconds, ‘my dog is my familiar’, I just suddenly know how to do everything magical even though my life has been totally mundane forever. Puh. Get over it, sit down, and read the book for what it is, a comedy that takes the old formulas and turns them on their head. Get over it!
Overall, Angie goes in my ‘must read when I am reading just for myself’ pile. She made me laugh, and her story was a pure, guilty pleasure. What more can I ask?
WOW! I hadn’t realized how far behind I have gotten on my R4R!
I have had proofreading jobs, which is usually not all that complicated. However, I am also doing research for an author in London, and for a screenwriter on technical issues, so I have been treading water like mad trying to keep up with everything. As I have really had to concentrate on income producing (don’t we all?!) sad to say, my R4R has fallen drastically behind! I didn’t realize how much until I started working on this new post. However, I am caught up with what I was doing, and have started R4R again. As always, paid jobs have to take a lot of my time, but I am determined to work through the bulk of my list by August 1, so, here goes!
For those authors whom I have neglected, all I can do is say I apologize for lagging behind, but eating and paying the mortgage has been tough lately, I hope you understand! I have a spreadsheet which lists the review requests, in order of receipt. Orders for publishing companies, sad to say, are required to be completed within two weeks or I lose my contracts, so those take precedence. For now, this is my schedule as I see it for the next few weeks. Ceri, you get first call!
NOTE: If you sent me a request and it is NOT LISTED HERE – please e-mail me right away! I changed e-mail servers, and though I tried my best to catch everything, nobody is perfect. I don’t want to leave you out.
The oldest review requests are done and on my site. I have reviews that are waiting for acceptance through Bookplex so they will hopefully post soon.
Today, I am reading Ceri London’s Rogue Genesis (Shimmer In The Dark)
Then next in my Read For Review file are:
Forbes West: Nighthawks at the Mission
Arisen: Book 1 Fortress Britain by Glynn James and Michael Stephen Fuchs
I have to say, when I saw this book listed, I forget where, I thought it might not be all that much, but it was at hand, so I picked it up. Oh. My. God. I could not have been more wrong, or more happy to be so.
“Tinker”, and the follow-up, “Wolf Who Rules” are extraordinary. The concept of science as the foundation of magic is one I have always wished someone would write about – and Spencer does it in a believable, extremely well developed, and well written manner. I picked up the book for an ‘easy’ read, and within a few pages was totally hooked.
Admittedly, I am a sucker for BOTH fantasy and science books. The “multiverse” and “bubble universe” studies, as well as the whole concept of quantum physics, fascinates me. No, I am not a scientist, never got to learn, but I can still read about it, right? Many authors use alternate universes to base their stories. Spencer takes it further, placing her stories in a possible future, where layers of universes flow-through to a possible future Earth we all recognize. And set in Pittsburgh, no less? Ok, you write about the city you know, and even though I laughed when I read where it was set (who would think Pittsburgh for a land of fairie?) Spencer really makes you feel like you are there, walking the streets of Pittsburgh, that you know the people she writes about. And she makes you really care about them.
Tinker is fascinating. In a way genetically engineered to become the creature of her grandfather’s dreams, she is a genius at mathematics and mechanics in a Pittsburgh moved to a land of magic. Good hearted, down-to-earth, intelligent, and smart as a whip, she is a perfectly realized character, with enough confidence in herself to be strong, and yet not a total screaming bitch as some authors like their heroines to be. She knows that she is not always right, is often unsure of herself, but still takes care of business, taking care of the people who depend on her for their safety and their own. She takes physical change, pain, and uncertainty and becomes the stronger for it. She never gives up who she is – amazing given the situations she finds herself thrown into with no preparation, no training, and socialization to the laws and goals of the group she suddenly finds herself a part of. Kudos, Ms. Spencer, for a beautifully developed group of characters, firmly based in both fantasy, and reality!
Tinker’s grasp of technology, as well as her grasp of magic theory and the integration between the two makes this a fascinating new meld of my two favorite fields. Thank you, Ms. Spencer, for writing wonderful characters!!!!!