Posted in reviews

The Hanging (#1) – A Mimosa Tales Adventure by Linda Thackeray Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A man on the run finds himself and a ragtag group of people the only line of defense in a plot of revenge between a local cattle baron and a local judge in the Old West town of Mimosa in author Linda Thackeray’s “The Hanging (#1) – A Mimosa Tales Adventure”. 

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The Synopsis

Welcome to Mimosa.

Struggling to survive in the savage land of the Territory, Mimosa is beset by dangers common to the harsh realities of the Old West.

When former gunslinger turned marshal, Kris Jensen arrives in town with his band of misfits, it is up to them to defend Mimosa from greedy land barons, outlaws and Indians angered by broken treaties.

It is an unlikely place to find salvation, but that is precisely what Kris and his men discover in Mimosa.

When local cattle baron William Cahill swears revenge on Judge Evan Davis for the execution of his nephew, it sets off a deadly plan of vengeance against the judge and those he loves.

It is up to Kris and his misfits to keep Holly Davis, the beautiful editor of the Mimosa Mirror, from harm before Cahill can put a noose around her neck.

The Review

An adventurous, gripping western tale, author Linda Thackeray has perfectly captured the setting and tone of the Old West and the fight for survival that came to those who ventured out into those territories. The complex nature of protagonist Kris Jensen makes for a compelling story, as his instinct to flee from an impossible situation with no hope of escape conflicts with his sense of duty to lead the band of misfits he finds himself paired with and the choice to save innocent lives, including Holly Davis. 

The author demonstrates a perfect understanding of the narrative and genre by creating a setting that becomes just as much of a central character to the story as Kris Jensen or any of the other characters. The gripping story really shone through in this book, making for a gripping Western that didn’t waste time in capturing the reader’s attention.

The Verdict

A fast-paced, action-packed, and driven narrative, author Linda Thackeray’s “The Hanging”, the first book in the Mimosa Tales Adventure series, is a must-read novel. Filled with great world-building, a great cast of characters and a firm handle on the genre overall, this is a great read for anyone who loves a good Western adventure. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in a village in Malaysia and delivered by underpaid midwife, and Ann, an irritable new mother (who wouldn’t be after 48 hours in labour?), X was named by a deranged grandmother with too much creativity for her own good. Once out of her pain-induced stupor, Ann decided to give her new daughter a proper middle name to avoid the risk of being put into a home later in life.

And so, she was called Linda.

Linda was an unremarkable child, save a few notable incidents, the discovery that a pot lid is not a substitute for Wonder Woman’s tiara (five stitches), four-year old don’t need to shave (no stitches but lots of toilet paper) and utility truck drivers are not necessarily qualified operators of their vehicles (seventy stitches).

At eight, Linda received religious enlightenment when she saw Star Wars at the Odeon Theatre and hence began her writing career.

For many years, the cages of various pets in the Thackeray household were littered with pages from Linda’s scribblings. Subjects usually ranged from whatever science fiction show was on television or at the movies. There was lots of Star Wars.

At 17, Linda moved to Sydney, Australia and was disappointed it was not occupied by Paul Hogan types with big knives and croc skin jackets but pot-bellied blokes with zinc cream and terry towel hats. Linda’s father (also known as that bloke who buys me stuff to piss mum off when she’s mad at him) settled in the town of Young, a community of 6000 people with no movie theatre.

Linda survived this period in the wilderness by raising kangaroos and writing original works but eventually got saddled down with the necessities of life and though she continued to write, work came first. Work, HBO, comic books and rent. It’s a kaleidoscope.

Even the kangaroos left out of boredom.

In 2014, Linda decided to start writing seriously again. Mostly because Australia’s strict gun laws make it very difficult to ‘go postal’ in the workplace. Moving to Woy Woy, which is Aboriginal for ‘Big Water’, she’s dipped her toes into the Indie pool and found she needs a pedicure. Her books are labours of love and championed by her friends on Facebook.

Eventually Creativia Publishers, appalled by Linda’s inability to conduct any marketing, offered to publish her books out of sheer exasperation.

Supported by two cats named Newt and Humphrey, she spends her days trying to write novels while having unclean thoughts about Michael Fassbender and Jason Statham, sometimes together.

Paperback: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Linda_Thackeray
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00NE63G76
Author Site: https://lindathackeray.wixsite.com/authorsite

Smashbooks: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1014398

Posted in reviews

Burn Zone (Hotshots #1) by Annabeth Albert

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Desire and danger lurk as a seasoned fire rescue crew member Linc finds the younger brother of his late best friend Jacob joining the crew, stirring up old feelings despite a promise never to pursue anything that he made to Jacob’s brother years earlier in author Annabeth Albert’s “Burn Zone”. 

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The Synopsis

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

The Review

This is definitely an emotional, steamy, and engaging read for those who like passionate LGBTQ romance reads with a hint of action, drama, and intensity. The character development and ongoing struggle of the characters felt relatable. 

From Linc’s growing desire and a mixture of guilt combining with his own identity within the fire rescue crew community he had been engaged with for years to Jacob’s desire to honor his brother’s legacy and finally earn the respect of his family and the people his brother and Linc had worked with for years, the struggles of these two’s lives when combined with the intense romance brewing between them made for a compelling read. 

The Verdict

A gripping evenly paced read, author Annabeth Albert’s “Burn Zone”, the first in the Hotshots series, is a must-read for any fans of the LGBTQ romance/contemporary genre. A fantastic setting and heart-pounding look into the world of fire rescue crews, the story of these two men, and the journey they go on together is something readers will not be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Burn-Zone-Hotshots-Book-1-ebook/dp/B07YCQ7VQW

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/burn-zone-annabeth-albert/1133792901

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/burn-zone/id1481346634

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/burn-zone-2

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Annabeth_Albert_Burn_Zone?id=3eWxDwAAQBAJ

About Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Connect with Annabeth Albert

Website: http://annabethalbert.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabethalbert 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabeth_albert/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477494.Annabeth_Albert 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Annabeth-Albert/e/B00LYFFAZK 

Author Q&A

BURN ZONE is the first book in the Hotshots series. What three words best describe BURN ZONE?

Danger, heat, and loyalty! All three words apply on multiple levels here! 

What is Linc’s most surprising quality?

His tenderness. Linc’s deep and abiding loyalty is what people notice first with him, but it’s his private tenderness with Jacob that surprised (and delighted!!!) me the most with him. 

What quality do you love most about Jacob?

Jacob is fearless and tenacious. He knows what he wants and he goes for it, full tilt, whether that thing is his older brother’s best friend, Linc, or smoke jumping.  

BURN ZONE is full of amazing tropes: age difference, grumpy & the sunshine one, older brother’s best friend, rookie/experienced expert, and hurt/comfort. Which trope was the most fun to write for Linc and Jacob’s story?

I knew going into this that this was going to be a deeper examination of best friend’s little brother trope.  I did best friend’s brother with At Attention (Out of Uniform, book #2), but the stakes were lower than they are here as far as the familial relationship. I wanted the characters to have to really grapple with some big feelings. And those feelings give rise to some of my favorite hurt/comfort scenes that I’ve done. All the tropes play together to make this one of my favorite books I’ve done—I loved watching my initial idea of angsty brother’s best friend evolve and grow with the other tropes. 

What would you like readers to take away from reading Linc and Jacob’s story?

Sometimes the heart knows what it wants and won’t stop until it gets its way. Linc and Jacob are meant to be, even in face of opposition and adversity. Their relationship is ill-advised—they work together, Linc’s his mentor, and he’s Jacob’s older brother’s best friend. On paper, they are terrible for each other, but in actuality, they are perfect for each other, the missing half to the other’s heart. They’ve been in love, in a way, for years and years, and all that longing pays off in explosive chemistry. I think what I want readers to take away from this story is “Trust your heart. The rest will follow.” If you trust in your heart, then all the obstacles can be tackled, one by one. 

Who was your favorite secondary character to write in BURN ZONE?

Garrick! He gets book 2, HIGH HEAT, coming to you in July from me and Carina Press! I can’t WAIT for you to meet Garrick and Rain! 

Where did the inspiration for the Hotshots series come from?

I wanted to do a Central Oregon series, and after spending time in the region on family trips, I was fascinated by how much of the summer season is dominated by wildfire risk. After writing Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform, book #7), I really, really wanted to do more parachute-loving characters, and what’s better than one hero who likes to jump out of planes? Two! And a whole team of them! I wanted to return to the team feeling from Out of Uniform with a close-knit fire community in a part of the country that I truly love. 

Writing about smoke jumpers in Oregon must have resulted in some interesting research for the Hotshots series. What’s the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve learned so far? 

So much amazing research! One thing that I loved finding out about was how smoke jumpers repair a lot of their own gear. They are responsible for repairing and maintaining their equipment and a lot of time that means sewing and other highly dexterous tasks that you might not associate with rough-and-ready firefighters. 

BURN ZONE and the Hotshots series returns to the ‘band of brothers’ feel readers loved in your Out of Uniform Series. What do you love about writing the ‘band of brothers’ feel into your books? 

I love loyal groups bound by more than just friendship or family. I love people brought together by a shared passion for serving their community. I love putting them in the sort of life-and-death situations that our real life frontline heroes face. Loyalty to each other goes far beyond a job. It’s a calling, and sometimes it results in sacrifices. I like to honor that hard work and sacrifice in my books and pay tribute to these heroic vocations. It’s inspiring and also fascinating, examining the community created by people brought together to serve the greater good. 

HIGH HEAT, the second Hotshots book comes out this summer. What can readers expect from Garrick’s story?

I loved every single thing about writing BURN ZONE, but Garrick was one of my favorite parts. He’s a foil for both Linc and Jacob, and he’s the sort of freewheeling, easy spirit that absolutely embodies the smoke jumping community. But what happens when that job, that community is threatened by an injury beyond your control? Garrick’s book was a chance for me to delve deep into what happens when life doesn’t go according to plan. But it’s also a tremendously fun book. There’s a dog in need of a home, a kinky new younger neighbor, a hot tub, and shenanigans aplenty as Garrick and his co-hero Rain, discover what truly makes a home. With the whole series, you can expect fire drama in the background and lots of adrenaline pumping, but also deep, meaningful feelings and warm, squishy endings.  

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Humphrey Hawksley

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am an author and foreign correspondent and my work for the BBC over the past thirty years has taken me to crises all over the world.  I wrote my first book, when the great military publisher William Armstrong from Macmillan asked me to write about a conflict between China and the United Stated. Dragon Strike: The Millennium War was published in 1997 and became a best seller. I now write thrillers. The latest is the second in the Rake Ozenna series, Man on Edge set on the Norway-Russian border described by Charles Cumming as ‘a page-turning spy thriller with the atmosphere of a Cold War classic’ and San Francisco Review of Books as being ‘gripping, addictive and successful at every level. Man on Edge was also a New York Post Best Books choice.

What inspired you to write your book?

I see huge potential in the character of Rake Ozenna. He comes from the exceptionally remote island of Little Diomede on the US-Russian border and is torn between his own tight-knit community and culture the wider more complex world. The great Nelson de Mille described Rake as ‘smart and tough, and we’re glad to have him on our side. Library Journal’s review spoke of a ‘hard-as-nails hero’ and Shots Crime the Thriller said ‘Rake Ozenna is proving to be one of the more believable characters in a crowded field.’  Rake has a kick-ass on and off girlfriend with trauma surgeon Carrie Walker and two other key characters from the corridors of power becoming loved by readers.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I would love them to see Man on Edge as an international adventure story from which they get an insight into the modern world of espionage. 

What drew you into this particular genre?

As a foreign correspondent, I switched between reporting from the highest levels of government to the poorest and most vulnerable. I try to bring these contrasts into my story-telling and the thriller is the natural home genre.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit down with Ruslan Yumatov the antagonist and ask him why he thinks his high profile acts of catastrophic destruction will make the world a better place. Is he right or is he deluded?

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I haven’t yet identified a clear front runner. Face Book may have the most impact.  Others swear by Instagram.  And Goodreads is meant to work well. On pure sales’ platforms, Amazon is streaks ahead. It’s important to be out there, like Woody Allen says ninety-per cent of success is just turning up.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read the competition in your genre. Don’t show drafts to friends or family. Get a professional to work on it first.  Work out your publicity and marketing. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I deliver the third Rake Ozenna thriller Man on Fire in May and in June an expanded and revised version of my latest non-fiction Asian Waters: The Struggle over the Indo-Pacific the Challenge to American Power. I am also looking at doing a non-fiction on the future of Europe. 

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About the Author

Humphrey Hawksley’s brand-new international thriller series begins in paperback in October 2019 with MAN ON ICE a knuckle-whitening drama set on the remote and wild US-Russian border. In early, 2020 comes the nail-biting MAN ON EDGE set on the Norway-Russian border followed in 2021 by MAN ON FIRE whose location is yet to disclosed. Rake Ozenna, a native of Little Diomede island in Alaska is the series hero. Each thriller includes trauma surgeon, Dr Carrie Walker, American intelligence contractor, Harry Lucas, and his ex-wife, British businesswoman and diplomat, Stephanie Lucas.

Humphrey’s thrillers have been widely praised. Steve Berry describes ‘authentic settings, non-stop action’ from MAN ON ICE. Lee Child speaks of SECURITY BREACH as ‘high stakes, high octane’ and Alan Furst as a ‘hard-driving, a good taut thriller’ — right back to the first future history thriller DRAGON STRIKE: THE MILLENNIUM WAR which Steve Coonts hailed as ‘ominous and insightful.’

His recent non-fiction ASIAN WATERS: THE STRUGGLE OVER THE SOUTH CHINA SEA AND THE STRATEGY OF CHINESE EXPANSION has been acclaimed on every continent by those at the heart of global decision-making, such as Indian cabinet minister, Hardeep Puri; the last governor of Hong Kong Baron Lord Patten of Barnes; and Dr Wu Shicun, President of China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies. China’s rise is a fast developing story, and Humphrey is currently working on an updated edition which is due out in June 2020.

Humphrey’s work as a BBC foreign correspondent has taken him all over the world with postings in Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Delhi and Colombo. He has contributed to ABC, National Public Radio and other networks in the United States and global publication of his work includes the Financial Times, New York Times, Yale Global, Nikkei Asian Review and others.

http://www.humphreyhawksley.com/

Posted in reviews

Interview with Author Tosca Lee

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I love writing because I have loved reading since an early age. When I was 19, I told my dad that a great book is like a roller coaster with its twists and turns. And I realized I wanted to try to create a roller coaster like that for others. So I did. And my first effort was really, really bad. 😀 Which is also why it’s still in my basement. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This one—The Line Between and its sequel, A Single Light, were inspired by headlines. Specifically, a news story I came across about a reindeer carcass that thawed in the permafrost and was infected with anthrax and got an entire nearby village sick. What I didn’t know then, as I wrote this pandemic story about a hotspot in Washington, edicts to stay home, cancelled flights… is that so much of this would play out in real life a short year later.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

One of hope—that love will always inspire us to overcome any obstacle. Normally, I would say, “a great escape from reality” but…

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I just love thrillers, the way they keep you turning pages, wondering what happens next. I love keeping readers reading past bedtime.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d love to just hang out with Julie, who is the surrogate mother to the heroine, Wynter, and pick her brain on life. She’s such a no-nonsense, take-no-guff kind of woman.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’d say probably Facebook, especially as it’s where I’ve been doing my Facebook live readings every night at 9 Eastern since March 20 during quarantine. (Join me! I’ll be on live for as long as we’re all stuck at home. 🙂 www.facebook.com/AuthorToscaLee

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write what you love. And get to know your readers. It’s a great privilege for your stories to become a part of their lives.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yes! Stay tuned…

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About the Author

“Superior storytelling.”

-Publishers Weekly

“One of the most gifted novelists writing today.”

-Steven James, bestselling author

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times, IndieBound, and Amazon bestselling author of twelve novels including THE LINE BETWEEN, THE PROGENY, FIRSTBORN, THE LEGEND OF SHEBA, ISCARIOT, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages and been optioned for TV and film. A notorious night-owl, she loves movies, playing football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.

You can find Tosca at ToscaLee.com, on social media, or hanging around the snack table. A SINGLE LIGHT, the highly-anticipated sequel to THE LINE BETWEEN, releases September 2019 and is available for preorder now.

For book release news and giveaways, join Tosca Lee’s Nocturnal Cafe: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/…

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Miranda Oh

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Hey! I am a 31 yr old Canadian from the prairies. I got into writing through living life, which sounds a bit odd. I had a lot happen in a short period of time, I moved out to Africa, had a cancer scare and dealt with some serious mental illness. Writing my stories and sharing not only was a healing tool but a tool to connect with others. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

LIFE! it is beautiful, messy and 100% relatable when it’s shared. We are never alone, yet the feeling and fear of being alone is something we all have in common. Exploring being alone and diving deep into healing myself through all this became an inspiration to share my story and attempt to connect to others.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

To Chin up tits out no matter what. What?? This is what I mean, stand up tall, hold your head held high, proud and confident, even if you don’t feel that way. That small dedication to holding yourself up in the toughest of times will carry you through life and enable you to find so many small joys in the midst of chaos. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I just write, then we find a genre to throw it into. Although, when I started to write, my goal was the figure out who would be the ‘perfect person to tell my story to’ and I built what that person looked like, acted like, likes and dislikes etc. Then when I started to write, I always went back to that person – would it align with them? It helps keep my writing from going into a million directions at the same time. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

One of the best things about writing about things I’ve gone through is that I’ve already sat down with the main characters from my books, as they’re real people in my life. We’ve talked about certain situations and how they played out. Their perspective on a scenario was vastly different from my memory of the same event. It was a whole new level of self-discovery and how my brain locked certain items out to protect it. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I personally love IG, it gives me a platform to connect with people from all over the world and from different areas of interest. Sometimes I want to share and I don’t have the words, so a photo of a video will do. When I do have words IG gives me the space I need to share a golden nugget or two. Spreading the positivity and the motto Chin up Tits Out was easy on IG to do and I thoroughly enjoy using it too. 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Don’t give up. People ask “how does it feel to be an author, for real” – my answer is “no different from you”. I had a story and all I did was make an effort to put it on paper. Once it’s on paper, take it from there. The only roadblock you will come across that has the power to stop you – is yourself. Don’t get in your own way, you are your biggest advocate, biggest fan and most importantly your own biggest hype man. If you believe in yourself, it is doable and will be 100% totally worth it. Also if you need a kick of positivity; reach out to anyone in the author community – we know how you feel, we know your struggles, your battles and your inner wars. Extend an olive branch and we will be sure to step up and throw some positive vibes your way. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

4 words – Love My Lady Bits! I am in the middle of performing 100 interviews of women around the world who suffer from an incurable and untreatable condition called endometriosis. It affects 1 in 10 women globally and it is not common knowledge. I was lucky enough to get a diagnosis within 2 yrs of experiencing extreme daily pain, nausea and bloating. The average diagnosis is 7 yrs, women are being silenced by this disease. So in true Chin Up Tits Out fashion, I am collecting horror stories and finding power through the pain. I am helping find voices to millions of women who have been silenced for decades. It will be a trilogy, I am gearing for the first book to be released in March 2021. 

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Posted in reviews

Togwotee Passage by L.G. Cullens Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young man escaping an abusive household finds a journey of self-discovery in the midst of the natural world clashing with man’s world in author L.G. Cullen’s novel “Togwotee Passage”. 

The Synopsis

Togwotee (toe’-ga-tee) is the name of a challenging mountain pass in the Absaroka Mountains of northwest Wyoming. In the title of this fictive tale it’s a metaphor for the main character’s physical and cognitive passage through the seasons of life’s chaotic landscape.

The story begins with a dysfunctional family life in the 1940s that stains Calan’s outlook. When the abuse escalates to life-threatening, an intervention introduces him to wilderness on a grand scale, as well as a Shoshone friend with a differing perspective of life. This but fledgling steps in a life of unexpected twists and turns.

With off-the-beaten-path experiences and intimately relatable characters, this tale is a thought kindling journey of mind and spirit, complemented with expressive illustrations.

Literary Eco-fiction, Adventure, Nature

The Review

A well-written coming of age meets literary adventure story with a theme focused on nature and it’s placed in man’s growing world, “Togwotee Passage” is a fantastic read with a full cast of characters readers will instantly connect with. The sad yet familiar story of a young child growing up in an abusive environment and forced to begin anew after a particularly explosive event hurls the readers into a new chapter of the protagonist’s life that changes their interaction with the world from that point on. 

The friendship between Calan and Derek throughout their expanding lives gave a deeper sense of connection with the overall theme of the novel as well. The emotional growth of these two characters as they took on life and watched as the world of man began to encroach on the natural world as a whole, perfectly illustrating the personal journey the protagonist underwent as a whole.

The Verdict

A heartfelt evenly paced read, author L.G. Cullen’s “Togwotee Passage” is a must-read novel. A story of overcoming hardship, discovering your place in the world, and forming lasting bonds takes center stage as the characters grow and take a fully realized journey that is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L. G. Cullens was born and raised in 1940’s Wyoming with Shoshone friends (his naturalist grounding), served in the military, and pursued careers first in civil engineering, then computer sciences, and finally, in his fifties, woodworking decorative arts. Since, with diminished dexterity he’s turned to writing. A natural sciences passion throughout his lifetime is evinced in his art and writing.

Additional writing by the author and others as well as book reviews and artworks, all on a natural world theme, can be found at https://lgcullens.com along with a contact form.

Posted in reviews

Saving Jahan by Hans Fellmann Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A hard partying teacher finds himself searching for a way to save himself from himself, by putting himself on the line to help save a young female teacher stuck in a country who values women simply as servants in author Hans Fellmann’s “Saving Jahan”. 

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The Synopsis

Saving Jahan is a 143,000-word autobiographical novel based on my Peace Corps service in the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan. The novel starts at the end of 2006, which was a time of great importance, as the country’s totalitarian dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov, passed away due to mysterious circumstances, leaving a power vacuum. It is in this environment that my character, Johann Felmanstien, is sent to teach English for two years in a dusty town in the middle of the Turkmen desert. At the school he is assigned to, Johann meets a female teacher called Jahan, who, despite having an oddly similar name, could not be more different. Unlike Johann, who is a loud, hard-drinking partier, Jahan is a quiet, unassuming homebody, who has dedicated her life to providing for her three siblings and sick mother. Over time, she opens up about her dreams to live abroad and the struggle she faces in a country that sees women as little more than servants. Johann takes a passive stance at first. But as his work suffers because of his shenanigans and alcohol abuse, he realizes that helping Jahan escape Turkmenistan might be the only way to save himself.

The Review

From the first pages of this novel, the author captures the readers attention and foreshadows the growing complexity of the plot in lines like, “Don’t go out there trying to save the world,” she said. “Just find one real reason to stay. The rest will fall into place.” The author showcases an understanding of the complex nature of other nations around the world and the in over your head feeling most people have when searching for “that next great adventure”. 

The author also does an amazing job of not only highlighting the cultural differences between the nations of this book but the similarities between the United States and Muslim-based countries, using the cast of characters to highlight how much we are all the same at our core. The character arc for Johann was a great experience to see play out, as the protagonist clashed with Peace Corps officials, fought to help a young woman realize her dreams and made new friends and even a host family that gave him a well rounded journey.

The Verdict

A well written, engaging and lengthy read, this fictionalized autobiography/travel memoir was a great story filled with memorable characters that felt real and relatable all at once. A story of growth, finding oneself and helping others along their own journeys of self-discovery, this is a great novel for anyone who enjoys protagonists emerging into new cultures and experiencing a new adventure. Be sure to grab your copy soon! 

Rating: 10/10

Posted in reviews

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two sisters separated by age difference and having never gotten to know one another find themselves forced to start life over again and must learn to find not only each other but themselves in author Robyn Carr’s “Sunrise on Half Moon Bay”. 

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The Synopsis

Sometimes the happiness we’re looking for has been there all along…

Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.

When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.

Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.

Neither woman knows how to start life over but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it.

Set in the stunning coastal town of Half Moon Bay, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s new novel examines the joys of sisterhood and the importance of embracing change.

The Review

A fantastic, emotional and engaging read, author Robyn Carr’s “Sunrise on Half Moon Bay” is a great story of family, relationships and finding your true self. The harsh circumstances these two sisters find themselves in are truly emotional and heartbreaking, but the journey they go on with one another leads to changes that many readers will be able to identify with as moments in their own journeys in life. 

This novel’s greatest strength is character development, as the protagonists, Justine and Addie take readers on two very different yet similar experiences of getting out of stagnant, debilitating situations and taking the dive to find the things that make them feel whole and complete again. Surrounding them are new romances, good friends, personal and professional rivals and at the heart of the story, family. The setting does a great job of tying the story into the character’s journey perfectly, really giving the readers a clear picture in their mind of the events unfolding. 

The Verdict

A wonderful read, author Robyn Carr’s “Sunrise on Half Moon Bay” is a must-read contemporary romance and women’s fiction read that readers are not soon to forget. An average length read this story keeps the readers engaged on a personal level throughout the entirety of the book, and will be the perfect read for anyone looking for that perfect escape. Be sure to grab your own copy of the book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Robyn Carr is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including highly praised women’s fiction such as Four Friends and The View From Alameda Island and the critically acclaimed Virgin River, Thunder Point and Sullivan’s Crossing series. Virgin River is now a Netflix Original series. Robyn lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit her website at www.RobynCarr.com.

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Author Website: https://www.robyncarr.com/

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/107767.Robyn_Carr?from_search=true

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EXCERPT

 “Has it ever occurred to Scott to get a serious job?” Adele asked. “I mean, forgive me, since I haven’t had a serious job in my life.” 

Justine smiled patiently. “Your jobs have all been serious, and without you we’d have been lost. If you hadn’t dedicated yourself to Mom’s care, it would have cost our whole family a fortune. We’re indebted to you. And I agree it would help if Scott worked more than part-time, but I think that ship sailed years ago. He’s only worked part-time since Amber and Olivia came along.” 

Adele adored her nieces, ages sixteen and seventeen. She was much closer to them than she was to Justine. 

“I’m sorry you’re going through this,” Adele said. “I wish there was something I could do.” 

“Well, the thing is, the future is looking very uncertain. I might need your help,” Justine said. 

“What could I do?” she asked. 

“Adele, I don’t like to push you, but you have to get it together. We have to make some decisions about what you’re going to do, what we’ll do with the house. I realize what I’ve given you for your hard work hasn’t been much, but I don’t know how long I can keep it up—paying for the maintenance on this house, the taxes, a modest income for you… I don’t want to panic prematurely,” Justine said. “Maybe I’ll be able to work everything out without too much hassle, but if I run into trouble… Money could get very tight, Addie. All those promises I made—that I’d help financially while you fix up the house, that I’d give you my half of the proceeds when and if you sold it… I might not be able to come through. I know, I know, I promised you it would be yours after all of your sacrifice, but you wouldn’t want me to ignore the girls’ tuition or not be able to make the mortgage…” 

“But Justine!” Adele said. “That’s all I have! And I was considering finishing school myself!” Though if she was honest, she had no plans of any kind. 

Justine reached out to her, squeezing her hand. “We’re a long way from me needing money. I just felt it was only fair to tell you what’s going on. If we’re in this together, we can both make it. I swear, I will make this all work out. I’ll make it right.” 

But as Adele knew, they had never really been “in it together” in the past, and they wouldn’t be for very long in the future. Addie’s dedication to their parents allowed Justine to devote herself to her career. For that matter, it should be Justine and Scott shoring each other up. At least until Justine had a better idea. But where was Scott today? Golfing? Biking? Bowling? 

Adele realized she had some difficult realities to face. When she dropped out of school to help her mother care for her father, she wasn’t being completely altruistic. She’d needed a place to run away to, hiding an unplanned pregnancy and covering her tattered heart. She’d never told her family that her married lover—her psychology professor—had broken down in tears when he explained he couldn’t leave his wife to marry Adele, that the college would probably fire him for having an affair with a student. For her, going home was the only option. 

At the time Justine and Scott had been riding the big wave and didn’t lust after the small, old house in Half Moon Bay. That house was chump change to them. So, they worked out a deal. Adele had become her mother’s guardian with a power of attorney. But the will had never been adjusted to ref lect just one beneficiary rather than two. In the case of the death of both parents, Adele and Justine would inherit equal equity in the eighty-year-old house and anything left of the life insurance. At the time, of course, neither Adele nor Justine had ever considered the idea that Adele would be needed for very long. But before Adele knew it, eight years had been gobbled up. She was thirty-two and had been caring for her parents since she was twenty-four. 

Adele, as guardian, could have escaped by turning over the house, pension, social security to a care facility for her mother and gone out on her own, finding herself a better job and her own place to live. She wasn’t sure if it was her conscience or just inertia that held her in place for so long. 

“I just wanted to make sure you understood the circumstances before anything more happens,” Justine said. “And since you don’t have any immediate plans, please don’t list the house for sale or anything. Give me a chance to figure out what’s next. I have children. I’ll do whatever I can to protect them and you. They’re your nieces! They love you so much. I’m sure you want them to get a good education as much as I do.” 

Does anyone want me to have a real chance to start over? Adele asked herself. This conversation sounded like Justine was pulling out of their deal. 

“I’ll think about this, but Scott has responsibilities, too,” she pointed out. 

“He’s been out of the full-time workforce for so long…” Justine said. 

“Just the same, we all have to live up to our adult commitments and responsibilities. And you’ve had a highfalutin job for a long time. You’ve made a lot of money. You can recover. I haven’t even begun.” 

“I need your help, Addie,” Justine said. “You need to come up with a plan, something we can put in motion. Make plans for your next step, put a little energy into this old house, make suggestions of what we should do with it, everything. Let’s figure out what to do before I find myself short and unable to help. I’m sorry, but we have to move forward.”

Excerpted from Sunrise on Half Moon Bay, Copyright © 2020 by Robyn Carr. Published by MIRA Books.

Posted in reviews

1969 by Sea Gudinski Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman searching for a way out of her current life finds herself experiencing a historic moment in time in author Sea Gudinski’s “1969”.

The Synopsis

Take a trip down the rabbit hole without ever leaving the comfort of your living room…This is a novel in which history meets science fiction and psychedelics meet spirituality through a seamless blend of fact and fantasy. 1969: A Brief and Beautiful Trip Back is one girl’s account of her fantastic and unique experience of the hippie counterculture and how it changed her and those around her for the rest of their lives. From a run-of-the-mill existence in the ultra-conservative town of Fresno, California, formerly naïve teenager and rock devotee Rhiannon Karlson takes the trip of a lifetime after a drug dealer sells her a particularly potent and mysterious substance, sparking her unparalleled journey of soul-searching, consciousness-expansion, and unyielding search for the Truth. The rest, you may say, is history.

The Review

This was a beautiful and well written story that really did an amazing take on the historical fiction genre. The story does a great job of capturing the era of the period, both the highs and the lows.

The cast of characters really stole the show with fully fleshed out storylines and histories that made them come alive off the page. The protagonist goes on a fully realized journey of growth and understanding that many readers will recognize as a journey they themselves took. It’s a wonderfully relatable story for a historical fiction novel.

The Verdict

An engaging, lengthy yet powerful story, author Sea Gudinski’s “1969” is a must read book that speaks to the heart and spirit of the era. A brilliant historical fiction, this is the perfect book for fans of rock music, historical moments of the past century and emotional storytelling with relatable and powerful characters. Be sure to grab your copy of this book today.

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Sea Gudinski is a life-long native of the small town of Holmdel, New Jersey. She has written prolifically since the age of ten, producing six novels and one collection of poetry. 1969: A Brief and Beautiful Trip Back is her first published work. She is an avid reader and a lover of all things historical. With a wide breadth of knowledge and an unquenchable desire to learn she has delved into several eras in recent history with the hope of shedding some light on the issues faced in today’s world. Her works are a delightful marriage of fact and fiction, peopled with vibrant characters, each with a unique and meaningful story to tell. She writes with depth and passion in the hope that her work will inspire others the way other literary works have inspired her.Sea graduated Holmdel High School with high honors; however, she chose not to go to college and manages her family business instead. When she is not writing, she enjoys listening to old radio programs and live music and playing gin rummy.