Monthly Archives: August 2021

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (Enola Holmes #7) by Nancy Springer Review

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

Literary heroine Enola Holmes and her iconic brother Sherlock join forces when a young woman believes her sister has mistakenly been identified as deceased, and the hunt to learn what has happened to the young woman’s twin takes them to shocking depths in author Nancy Springer’s “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche”, the seventh novel in the Enola Holmes series.

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The Synopsis

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.

The Review

This was such an engrossing and thought-provoking read. The author does an incredible job of capturing the tone and dialect of not only the era but the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels following Sherlock Holmes. Yet despite the large shadow that Sherlock casts, Enola does an incredible job of outshining her brother and standing on her own as a remarkable literary heroine. 

The mystery aspect of the narrative and the setting really did steal the show on this novel. The gripping tale of a twin sister seeking the truth about her other half after rumors of her death fell off was a great hook to grab the readers, and Enola’s, attention. The clash of culture between the high society atmosphere of the missing woman’s estate and the seedy underbelly of London and its countryside as they hunt for the location of the missing woman was interesting to see play out here and really made the narrative feel alive in the reader’s mind.

The Verdict

A masterful, thoughtful, and engaging novel, author Nancy Springer’s “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche” is a must-read novel of 2021. A great springboard for the heroine to return after finding cinematic success on Netflix thanks to the highly talented Millie Bobbie Brown, the balance of character growth and the mystery was amazing to see, and what felt great was that this novel, while a continuation overall of the character’s personal arcs, was strong enough to stand alone for newcomers like me to the series to get engaged in the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

NANCY SPRINGER is the author of the nationally bestselling Enola Holmes novels, including The Case of the Missing Marquess, which was made into the hit Netflix movie, Enola Holmes. She is the author of more than 50 other books for children and adults. She has won many awards, including two Edgar Awards, and has been published in more than thirty countries. She lives in Florida.

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Here is an Excerpt From “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche”

“Is she fainted?” 

Indignant, I wanted to sit up and say I was not so easily killed and I never fainted, but to my surprise my body would not obey me. I merely stirred and murmured. 

“She’s moving.” 

I saw the clodhopper boots of common men surrounding me and smelled alcohol on the breath of those leaning over me. 

“Let’s get ’er inside.” 

“Somebody go fer the doctor.” 

Strong hands, not ungentle, seized me by the feet and shoulders. I could have kicked and yelled—I felt strong enough now—but my mind had started to function, realizing that I was about to be carried into a pub, for only in a public house, or pub, would workmen be drinking in the daytime. And normally no woman of good repute would enter a pub, or if she did, she would be jeered at until she retreated. But, my avid brain realized, fate in the form of Jezebel had given me opportunity to spend some time inside a pub—no, in the pub, most likely the only pub in Threefinches! So I closed my eyes and pretended to be rather more helpless than I was as the men hauled me inside and laid me down on a high-backed bench by the hearth. 

Someone brought something pungent in lieu of smelling salts, but I shook my head, pushed the malodourous hand away, opened my eyes, and sat up, acting as if it were a great effort for me to do so. A burly, bearded man in an apron, undoubtedly the publican who kept the place, came running with a pillow for my back, and I thanked him with a gracious smile. 

“Will ye have a nip of brandy, lydy?” 

“No, thank you. Water, please.” 

“Jack! Water for the lydy!” he bellowed to some underling, and he remained nearby as I managed, with hands that genuinely trembled, to remove my gloves. Their thin kidskin leather was ruined by the mauling it had taken from Jezebel’s reins, and my hands were red and sore; doubtless they would bruise. Grateful for the cool glass, I held it in both hands and sipped, looking around me. Half of the denizens of the place, like the owner, stood in a semicircle staring at me not unpleasantly, while the rest did the same from seats at the rustic tables—all but one. A tall man with beard stubble on his chin and quite a shock of coarse brownish-grey hair hiding his forehead had withdrawn to a table by the wall, where he devoted his attention to his mug of ale, or stout, or whatever noxious brew he might fancy. I said brightly to the tavern-keeper, “I believe I would like to stand up.” 

“Now, why not wait for the doctor, lydy—” 

But taking hold of his arm, as he stood within my reach, I got to my feet with reasonable steadiness. There were muted cheers from the onlookers. Nodding and simpering at the men all around me, I lilted, “Thank you so much. Do you suppose anyone could go out and fetch my bag, and my hat and parasol? I believe they fell along the—” 

Already half a dozen would-be heroes were stampeding towards the door. Yet, if I had walked in here under my own power, any request for help would have been met with deepest suspicion. Such is life: odd.

Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir by Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li Review

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

Authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li take readers into the heart of modern-day Iceland as Sverrir goes on a voyage around the world in the same vein as his Viking ancestors in the book, “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir”.

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The Synopsis

This vivacious personal story captures the heart and soul of modern Iceland. Born in Reykjavik on the eve of the Second World War, Sverrir Sigurdsson watched Allied troops invade his country and turn it into a bulwark against Hitler’s advance toward North America. The country’s post-war transformation from an obscure, dirt-poor nation to a prosperous one became every Icelander’s success. Spurred by this favorable wind, Sverrir answered the call of his Viking forefathers, setting off on a voyage that took him around the world. Join him on his roaring adventures!

The Review

A truly magnificent and engaging read, this book really does capture the adventurous spirit and rich history of Iceland and author Sverrir’s Viking forefathers. The balance of history, culture, and life experiences through travel was great to see unfold here, from Sverrir’s family history to setting out into the world and studying in Finland, to making a life and home after years of travel with his wife and co-author Veronica Li, this book really does a great job of educating and allowing the reader to identify with the authors and their journeys. 

What really stuck out to me however was the way the authors managed to tie their more “modern” adventures around the world to the ancient Viking culture. As a people known for their travels and explorations, it was interesting to see the cultural note that so many Icelandic people have to make a name for themselves and learn from distant lands in order to bring more knowledge to their home country, in an effort to become the best. It felt like the perfect chord that brought the past and present together as one and really shows how ancient cultures still have an impact on our world today. 

The Verdict

A masterful, thoughtful, and culturally-driven memoir, authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li’s “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir” is a must-read book. The attention to detail really brought the personal and broader history of Iceland and the author to life, while the teamwork and chemistry of both authors and their writing styles allowed the information and culture of this book to be absorbed by the reader. Even the utilization of images and guides to highlight Iceland and its language was both informative and engrossing all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.

Veronica Li emigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong as a teenager. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University. She has worked as a journalist and for the World Bank, and is currently a writer. Her three previously published titles are: Nightfall in Mogadishu, Journey across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman’s Search for Home, and Confucius Says: A Novel.

Sverrir Sigurdsson Author | Facebook

www.linkedin.com/in/sverrir-sigurdsson-29b51732

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham by Matteo Sedazzari Review

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

In a magical fantasy world in which animals, witches and mankind live together, a group of evil witches seek to use a young fox in a ritual, and in order to break a curse placed on the young fox, he and his allies must return to Foxham to find a good witch to lift the curse in author Matteo Sedazzari’s “Tales from the Foxes of Foxham”. 

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The Synopsis

It is the late fifties and the Witches of Benevento are determined to plunge the world into darkness by kidnapping and sacrificing the jolly and young Neapolitan fox, Alberto Bandito, in a sinister ritual.

Yet, fortunately for Alberto, he is rescued, then guarded, by his loving mother Silvia and mob boss father Mario with his troops, a good witch Carlotta with an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, the Bears of Campania, the boxing wolves’ brothers Francesco and Leonardo, and other good folks of Naples and beyond.

However, their protection is not enough, for Alberto has been cursed. So, the young fox, along with his family, has to travel to the village of Foxham in Norfolk, the spiritual home of foxes across the world, to rid himself of this spell. The ritual has to be performed by a good fox witch, Trudi Milanese, but there is a problem, Trudi doesn’t know she is a witch….

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham is a magical adventure story, packed with colorful characters and exciting situations, in a battle of good versus evil.

The Review

This fantasy-driven, action, and adventure novel was truly remarkable. What immediately drew me into the narrative was the balance the author found between history and the various cultural points established for the characters and their settings, and the more fantastic, magical storytelling devices that allowed foxes, bears, badgers, and other animals to be interacting on a social level with humanity. The book also does a great job of incorporating themes of tolerance and acceptance, including showing off the cruelty and heartbreaking nature of hunting for sport and adorning animal skins as fashion pieces. 

Yet it was the wide assortment of characters and their character arcs that really drew me into the narrative. From the novel’s beginning, introducing us to Charles, a prominent leader, and figurehead for foxes in Europe, and his partnership with historical figures like Winston Churchill, or even the heroic friendship and trio of protagonists Alberto, Trudi, and Carotta, who must band together and bring all of their allies to face the threat of the evil witches of Benevento, the author really did a great job of making this world feel both fantastic and yet grounded at the same time.

The Verdict

A creative, original, and entertaining fantasy novel, author Matteo Sedazzari’s “Tales from the Foxes of Foxham” is a must-read novel, and a major contender for original fantasy action and adventure read of 2021. Bringing to mind the imagery and storytelling of iconic author Roald Dahl, the author manages to capture that classic battle of good vs evil in a unique setting and time period, all while balancing history, culture, and mythology all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Matteo Sedazzari developed the zest for writing when he produced a fanzine entitled Positive Energy of Madness during the height of Acid House, in 1989.

Positive Energy of Madness dissolved as a fanzine in 1994 and resurfaced as an ezine in 2003, which became ZANI, the ezine for counter and pop culture in 2009, promoting online optimism, along with articles, reviews, and interviews with the likes of crime author Martina Cole, former pop star and actor Luke Goss, soul legend Bobby Womack, Clem Burke of Blondie, Chas Smash of Madness, Shaun Ryder of Black Grape/ Happy Mondays and many more.

After producing and writing for his own publication, Matteo’s next step was to pen a novel, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod. Matteo is influenced by Hunter S Thompson, Harlan Ellison, Kenneth Grahame, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Irvine Welsh, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Frank Norman, Joyce Carol Oates, Mario Puzo, Iceberg Slim, Patricia Highsmith, Joe R. Lansdale, Daphne du Maurier, Robert Bloch, George Orwell, Harry Grey and many more. American comics like Batman, Superman, and Spiderman, along with Herge’s Tintin, also provide Matteo with inspiration.

Matteo also finds stimulus from many films like Twelve Angry Men, A Kind of Loving, Blackboard Jungle, Z, Babylon, This Sporting Life, Kes, Midnight Cowboy, Scum, Wild Tales, The Boys, Midnight Express, La Commare Secca, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, so on and so forth. As for music, anything that is passionate, vibrant, and with heart is always on Matteo’s playlist.

Matteo Sedazzari resides in Surrey, which he explores fanatically on his mountain bike. Matteo supports Juventus, travels to Italy and Spain, eats and dress well, as he enjoys life in the process.

https://www.zani.co.uk/

Jeep Tour by Gail Ward Olmsted Review

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

A woman struggling after several setbacks in her life takes to the road, heading west in hopes of healing her broken heart and finding a new lease on life in author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Jeep Tour”.

The Synopsis

Attention from a younger guy is definitely good for her ego. But can she find the life she seeks this far from home?

There’s not enough cappuccino in the world to fix Jackie Sullivan’s streak of disasters. Divorced and pushing forty, the final straw comes when she’s denied tenure and fired. With nothing else to lose, she heads west in search of a fresh start and a hot helping of hanky panky…

Settling in Sedona, she struggles to find her balance and to stop putting her foot in her mouth. And her hands are soon full when she hooks up with a buff blonde tour guide. But a call from her ex forces her to reconsider what she left behind…

Will Jackie discover a new lease on life among the red rocks and heal her heart?

Jeep Tour is a fresh and funny contemporary women’s fiction novel. If you like journeys of self-discovery, beautiful desert settings, and sexy second chances, then you’ll love Gail Ward Olmsted’s lighthearted tale.

Buy Jeep Tour for an unforgettable off-road fling today!

The Review

I absolutely loved the sense of realism that the author brought to this contemporary women’s fiction read. The author perfectly portrayed the relationships and struggles of the characters in a very real sense. Allowing the reader to focus on the character development rather than some overtly whirlwind romance with a steamy new man was a great direction to take the narrative, focusing instead on the protagonist’s push to grow and change herself through a new adventure and new life. 

The balance of emotional storytelling and character development was perfect in this narrative. The author also managed to craft a great sense of setting in this story, allowing the Arizona desert and sense of wilderness to become a character all on its own. The theme of growth and change in the face of adversity was perfectly layered within this narrative, allowing the novel’s story to shine brightly without hitting readers over the head with the theme. 

The Verdict

A heartfelt, engaging, and brilliant women’s fiction novel, author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Jeep Tour” is a must-read novel for fans of the genre. Treasured for amazing characters that feel very realistic and seem to come off the page, the author tells a compelling story that will draw readers in immediately. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gail Ward Olmsted was a marketing executive and a college professor before she began writing fiction on a fulltime basis. A trip to Sedona, AZ inspired her first novel Jeep Tour. Three more novels followed before she began Landscape of a Marriage, a biographical work of fiction featuring landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, a distant cousin of her husband’s, and his wife Mary.

For more information, please visit her on Facebook and at GailOlmsted.com.

http://www.gailolmsted.com

Thread of Souls Book III: Path of the Spiders by Scott and Ashley Roepel Review

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

Torn apart between two worlds, the Phantom Five find themselves facing new dangers, as one group moves through a war-torn land, while the others find themselves trapped in a foreign world, where all of the spiders have disappeared in authors Scott and Ashley Roepel’s “Path of the Spiders”, the third book in the Thread of Souls series. 

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The Synopsis

The adventuring group known as the Phantom Five is torn apart. While one group ventures through Artemis’ war-torn homeland, Unolé is flung across the planes with healer Taliesin, warrior Ruuda, and soldier Wash. All the four of them want is to go home. But this new world has its own dangers, and its own mysteries. They are forced to make dubious alliances to survive, and every escape attempt is blocked with a new threat. The shadow of the eerie ziggurat looms over the land, as do rumors of its growing army inside.

But within ancient temples, slave auctions, and blood rituals lie answers. Answers about Unolé’s stolen sister, Wash’s fugitive past, and the question that Taliesin ran away from home for. Where have all the spiders gone? Now they must ask themselves one final question. How much are they willing to risk for these answers?

The Review

I absolutely loved this novel. Having read the first two books in the series, I keep finding myself enthralled with this vast world and universe the authors have crafted here with descriptive imagery and unique history to this world, the writing takes on an almost cinematic quality, as if these scenes should be playing out in a brand new game series. The balance of the world’s history and the mythology that the authors have crafted for each race that this book brings to life is just incredible. 

Yet the characters really stole the show, so to speak. The way the heroes face their own personal demons and grand threats are greatly balanced and controlled here. From Unole having to look for traces of her sister in a different world to the other members of the Phantom Five dealing with the loss of their unique gifts after defeating their doppelgängers, this novel raises the stakes and delves deeper into the universe as a whole, including the development of those with Celestial blood and ancient gods and their guardians. 

The Verdict

Exhilarating, entertaining, and thrilling, authors Scott and Ashley Roepel’s “Thread of Souls Book III: Path of the Spiders” is a must-read fantasy novel of 2021, and a fantastic new addition to the Thread of Souls universe. The endless world-building and character growth are superb, and the twists and turns that leave the group split apart once more and facing new and old threats alike make this a fantastic cliffhanger of a book. With an ever-expanding landscape that will have readers engaged on every level, this narrative is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Scott and Ashley Roepel are a husband and wife team of writers, creators, and travelers. They are co-founders of Tal & Ru Travels LLC which is focused on entertaining and engaging content. Deep lovers of fantasy, the two of them are avid D&D players and content creators.

https://talandrudungeonloot.com/

The Shattered Violin by Jared Bodnar Review

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

After his fiancee is brutally murdered, one man will find himself facing moral challenges like never before as he takes on a mission of revenge in the hunt for her killer in author Jared Bodnar’s “The Shattered Violin”.

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The Synopsis

Conner and his fiancée Cassie had a fairytale love. They complemented each other in every way and looked forward to a perfect future ahead of them. In one day, that future is destroyed. Cassie is brutally murdered, leaving Conner broken, alone and filled with pain. He knows the pain of this loss will haunt him for the rest of his life.

After much deliberation, Conner decides that he will stop at nothing to avenge Cassie’s death. Tracking down her killer throws him into a world of moral ambiguity as he sets off on a meandering quest.

Without knowing how, Conner wants to inflict the same pain as the killer inflicted. But, as Conner gets closer to the moment of reckoning, he will face impossible choices and the realization that his elaborate plan may ultimately be derailed.

The Review

A truly gripping and haunting thriller, author Jared Bodnar expertly weaves a tale of love lost, and the downward spiral we go through when a piece of ourselves is ripped out of us savagely. The atmosphere and suspense the author builds as the mystery of who killed the protagonist’s wife was edgy and thick with tension, really balancing the protagonist’s personal development with intense storytelling.

Yet it was the protagonist who sold this narrative. The author really did a great job of portraying how losing someone you love, especially to a violent crime, can affect you emotionally and mentally. The person the protagonist slowly began to slip away from him, and instead, a person solely focused on violent revenge begins to emerge instead. The back and forth struggle of the person he was and the person he’s become add to the tension building the author implements in this story, making it impossible to put this book down.

The Verdict

A chilling, heartbreaking, and mysterious new thriller, author Jared Bodnar’s “The Shattered Violin” is a must-read novel of 2021. Engaging and rich in character study, the narrative really digs into the reader’s emotional depths and tasks us all to picture how challenging losing a loved one can be, while also challenging us to face our losses and overcome our grief, lest we fall further and further down the rabbit hole. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder or grab your copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jared Bodnar is an advertising professional by day, dedicated dad by night and novelist after Midnight.

He graduated from Arizona State University with a Journalism and Psychology double major, a perfect combination for writing psychological thrillers.

A lifelong writer, Jared is passionate about dialogue and is obsessed with converging, twisty storylines. Jared lives in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife Shannon, daughter Harlow, and sons Easton and Kai.

https://jaredbodnar.com/

Windfall (Legends of Vioria #1) by Shawna Barnett Review

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

A ferocious pirate leader must face her haunted past as a one-time Princess and discover the true plot that took her parent’s lives and forced her into hiding in author Shawna Barnett’s “Windfall”, the first of the Legends of Vioria series. 

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The Synopsis

Captain Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fights. She fights the King’s Navy. She fights to balance power in oppressive Vioria. She fights for respect as a female, bisexual, pirate captain. But she’s losing her biggest fight: to escape her secret past as a lost Princess.

With a mysterious letter and a stranger threatening to expose her, Liana is blackmailed into attending a royal ball and protecting her counterpart, sheltered Princess Rhian. The pretenses are suspicious enough, but Liana takes the risk in hopes to finally unveil the magic plot that killed her parents and forced her into hiding.

When Liana encounters Rhian’s own lightning-wielding powers, the ball erupts in violence. The sheltered princess falls into the care of Liana—and her band of pirates. On the run, the only safe haven for the Windfall crew to hide is the most-dangerous place of all: under the thumb of Liana’s narcissistic, abusive brother-in-law.

In order to protect her crew, her family, and naïve Rhian, Liana must demand sacrifices from herself and the people she loves. Her choices will make powerful enemies; good thing Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fighting those.

Content warnings:

Attempted rape

Domestic violence

Torture

Murder

Representation:

Own voices

Bisexual main character

Asexual

The Review

A truly gripping and fantastic blend of fantasy, gritty pirate life, and LGBTQ-forward character growth, author Shawna Barnett has crafted a marvelous new saga for fans to delve into headfirst. The amount of world-building that went into this narrative was incredible, crafting something wholly original and new by exploring a world where pirates and magick exist together. Generally, books featuring pirates will have ancient curses or some sort of sea monsters, but not pure fantasy-driven magick, which makes this narrative so exciting that fans of the fantasy realm will have a whole new appreciation for the pirate life. 

Yet it was the characters that really drew me in. Having a strong, female protagonist who was both the hero of the tale and proudly representing Bisexual Pride throughout her adventure was amazing to see unfold. The strong LGBTQ representation in this book really elevated the unique world the author had created here and gave so many people representation in this novel. It allows the reader to feel connected and engaged with not only the narrative but the characters themselves.

The Verdict

A masterful, entertaining, and driven narrative, author Shawna Barnett’s “Windfall” is a must-read novel and a great start to the fantasy-driven Legends of Vioria series. Taking the readers into realms of fantasy and lore and balancing the narrative with strong characters and twists and turns that will keep the reader on the edge of the seat, this novel promises a fun new direction in the highly acclaimed Fantasy genre. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Shawna Barnett is a mother, life-long advocate and author of swashbuckling tales. After receiving a BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, Shawna worked in victim advocacy and behavioral health. Born in San Diego, California, her experiences have taken her all over the United States. After settling in Tennessee with her daughter, Shawna seeks to speak out through writing and contribute to a world where everyone is safe and respectfully represented.

https://www.shawnabarnett.com/

Windfall - Shawna Barnett

Shawna Barnett has a new LGBTQ+ pirate fantasy book out (ff bi/ace): Windfall. And there’s a giveaway!

Captain Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fights. She fights the King’s Navy. She fights to balance power in oppressive Vioria. She fights for respect as a female, bisexual, pirate captain. But she’s losing her biggest fight: to escape her secret past as a lost Princess.

With a mysterious letter and a stranger threatening to expose her, Liana is blackmailed into attending a royal ball and protecting her counterpart, sheltered Princess Rhian. The pretenses are suspicious enough, but Liana takes the risk in hopes to finally unveil the magic plot that killed her parents and forced her into hiding.

When Liana encounters Rhian’s own lightning-wielding powers, the ball erupts in violence. The sheltered princess falls into the care of Liana—and her band of pirates. On the run, the only safe haven for the Windfall crew to hide is the most-dangerous place of all: under the thumb of Liana’s narcissistic, abusive brother-in-law.

In order to protect her crew, her family, and naïve Rhian, Liana must demand sacrifices from herself and the people she loves. Her choices will make powerful enemies; good thing Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fighting those.

Publisher – Paperback | Publisher – Hardcover | Amazon | Goodreads


Giveaway

Shawna is giving away a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47194/?


Excerpt

Windfall - meme

Chapter 1

To Go on the Account

6th of Lengnath, 1715

The Capital of Caerwyn

A shadow crept around a stone archway, unseen by a passing pair of guards on patrol. The woman who cast it pulled down her hood and peered about. Her thick, unkempt black hair fell over her shoulders. A long cloak covered her curves, but she had flung it back to rest a hand on her hip, revealing a sword in its sheath. Her fingers, ruddy and coarse with use, pinched her bottom lip. She strained her ears to hear over the soft slaps of water in the harbor, the creaking of the ships’ hulls as they swayed, and the occasional caw of laughter from the nearby row of pubs.

Just as she began to wring her hands under the cloak, another duo approached. They weren’t dressed in soldiers’ uniforms, but sailors’ garb. She took a step forward and allowed her silhouette to be revealed. “There you are. What took you so long?”

“I’m sorry, Captain,” her quartermaster, Ameen Almasi, said, stopping at her side and turning on his heel to face his companion. “Our young friend was… distracted.”

The youth in question tucked his chin and smiled guiltily at his captain.

“Damn it, Squiddy,” she scolded. “Learn to keep up.”

Her expression softened to amusement as he scowled. His real name was Sava, but she’d settled on calling him “Squiddy.” Not much would be able to change her mind.

Ameen chuckled, deep and quiet. Sava looked much like a young Ameen—slight, lanky, and youthfully energetic. Ameen towered over him. He held his posture, straight and sure, lean with muscle gained by nautical labor. The boy still had some way to go before he would be able to carry himself so confidently. Tonight, he would have a chance to prove himself. She beckoned them to follow her.

The Capital of Caerwyn rose before them in layers, on a crest overlooking the sea. The docks formed its base, spanning out south, east, and west like the fingers of an outstretched hand. The rest of the city stacked upon the palm; rows upon rows of buildings, each one smaller than the width of the one below it. The Royal Palace stood at the zenith of this view, like a crooked mountain range, sporting banners of blue and silver. The ocean-side of the palace stretched out like the hand’s thumb, wide and thick.

“Liana,” Ameen breathed her name rather than her title. His voice plucked her from the high towers of the palace and steadily anchored her back to the alley behind the harbormaster’s office.

She looked about the alley to make sure they hadn’t been noticed creeping about. “This is it?” Sava’s voice cracked.

“Yes. Do you remember what you have to do?”

He nodded. Even in the dark, she could see him shake. Placing a firm hold on his arm, she looked into his face. His eyebrow twitched.

Liana breathed in deeply, nodding to invite him to mimic her. “You can do this.”

“I’m ready,” he said as he twisted a lockpick between his fingers.

The building had suffered some damage since the last storm season and was under renovation, therefore it had an outer shell of scaffolding that looked sturdy enough to climb. Ameen knelt to give Sava a lift, and he was off, scaling the walls as easily as strolling the streets. They watched as he reached the third story, settled himself on a beam, and picked open the window. He scrambled through it and disappeared.

Liana saw Ameen lift his hand to his chest, where a Circle of the Divine hung on a chain under his linen shirt.

“He’ll be alright,” she assured him.

His eyes grazed over her face, then downward. “You weren’t supposed to bring that.”

She followed his line of sight to the cutlass at her side. “It’s for protection, if we’re caught.”

“If we are caught, we agreed you would distract them while Sava and I get away. Soldiers won’t harm an unarmed Caerwyn woman.” He looked straight back at her expectantly with an extended hand, wagging his fingers. After a meaningful silence, she begrudgingly loosened her belt. He was right, after all. It was the reason she was wearing her Mass dress.

“Insubordination is what I call that, Almasi,” she spat. Her tone could cut as deeply as the blade she handed over. But Ameen knew her well enough not to be offended. He grinned, obviously pleased with himself. His amber eyes lit up as he caught her looking for a moment too long. Liana began to pace, her shoulder purposefully knocking against his side as a final jab. She didn’t need to look back to know he was still smiling.

The lighthearted energy between them evaporated as they heard a whistling call in the distance—a warning. Sava’s head emerged from the window. Liana waved for him to come down. In return, he made an exaggerated shrugging gesture and went back in.

“That stupid little—” She rushed to the base of the scaffold and gathered her skirts. “Lift me up, I’m going to get him.”

“You’re in a dress.”

“And whose brilliant idea was that?!”

Deep voices and the light of a lantern cut through the darkness. Despite the cool breeze, she began to sweat. She could hear the patrolmen at the front of the building now. They must have taken a shorter route than usual.

An object landed at Liana’s feet with a flutter and thud. She snatched up the book and flipped it open. The ledger was unreadable in the pale moonlight, but she knew it was exactly what they had come for. “Blimey, Squiddy! You’ve done it.”

“Who’s back there?” came a gruff voice from the front, cutting their victory short. The sound of the ledger’s landing had alerted the patrol.

Liana whirled around and shoved the ledger into Ameen’s hands. She unfastened her cloak and threw that at him as well. “Wait for him but go as quickly as you can.”

He tucked it under his arm with her sword. “Be careful, Captain.”

As she lifted her skirts and sprinted off, Sava was already halfway to the ground.

But, by the Divine, this dress!

She hadn’t gone to Mass in years and had outgrown the gown. Ameen had insisted on this particular one—the rest she owned were plain, albeit comfortable. She’d been a fool to think she could have climbed after Sava. Between the binding bodice around her torso and carrying the weight of the layers of the skirt, she was out of breath within seconds. Still, it made her distress all the more convincing as she collided into the chest of the soldier before her.

The man grunted in surprise and took a step back to steady himself. She clung to his dark blue long-skirted coat. His jaw unhinged.

“It’s a woman!” his friend declared.

“Thank the Divine you’re here!” she gasped out. “Th-these men had me cornered and robbed me!”

She gave a doe-eyed shrug, feigning helplessness. The soldier settled his hands on her shoulders. It made her feel uncomfortably small. The other one, a fair young man, threw himself in the direction she had come.

“It’s alright, ye’re safe now,” the soldier who stayed with her said, beginning to stroke her upper back. He had a slight Northern accent, and his features were darker than the other soldier. She arched away.

The fair soldier returned at a slower pace this time. “Whoever attacked you, miss, they’ve gone now. Likely pirates who’ve come to port for the season.”

“Thank you.” She spoke as demurely as her pride would allow. “I’ll be on my way, now.”

“Shall we escort you home—?”

“No!” She realized too late she had interrupted him. “No… Thank you.”


Author Bio

Shawna Barnett

Shawna Barnett is a mother, life-long advocate and author of swashbuckling tales. After receiving a BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, Shawna worked in victim advocacy and behavioral health. Born in San Diego, California, her experiences have taken her all over the United States. After settling in Tennessee with her daughter, Shawna seeks to speak out through writing and contribute to a world where everyone is safe and respectfully represented.

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

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/sbarnettauthor

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/SBarnettAuthor

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sbarnettauthor/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20653893.Shawna_Barnett

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shawna-Barnett/e/B09235XR1H

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The Warfighter: A Novel of the Second Korean War (The Aviator: Stories of Future Wars Book 2) by Craig DiLouie Review

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

After peace has settled over the Pacific in the aftermath of the Taiwan War, Navy fighter pilot Jack Knapp finds himself standing between a US City and nuclear destruction as he explains to the world the true cost of war and heroism in author Craig DiLouie’s “The Warfighter: A Novel of the Second Korean War”, the second book in The Aviator: Stories of Future Wars series.

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The Synopsis

Peace has returned to the Pacific after the Taiwan War, but it doesn’t last. The Korean peninsula erupts in fire and blood, drawing America into a fresh conflict that sees use of some of the world’s deadliest weapons.

In the aftermath, Navy fighter pilot Jack Knapp tells a news reporter about his experiences fighting the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and how he helped prevent a nuclear attack that could have destroyed an American city.

As the media simultaneously cheers and questions the war, Jack sets out to explain the truth of its heroism and horror—so that all might understand war’s true cost.

The Review

With a brilliant balance of character growth that readers can identify with and haunting insights into war, especially a look into future warfare, author Craig DiLouie has crafted a brilliant follow-up to his beloved novel The Aviator. Following his political prisoner trial, protagonist Jack Knapp returns to the line of duty, finding his struggle to not only retrain and fit in with his crew but normal civilian life in general after spending so long being tortured and imprisoned. The in-depth look into the mental and physical nature of his return was an engaging aspect of his character growth and helped elevate the overall narrative.

The drama and sheer terror that comes from the actual act of war on soldiers and civilians was brilliantly captured in this novel. Examining the political nature of wars from a non-political character’s POV was an inspired choice, highlighting who the real “winners” and “losers” are in a war, where power and money take precedence over family and loved ones. The futuristic setting and the character’s more personal interactions really gave the novel the entertainment and theme that this story needed to feel balanced.

The Verdict

A heart-wrenching, memorable, and engaging novel, author Craig DiLouie’s “The Warfighter” is a must-read of 2021, and a perfect sequel. The balance of narration from the author in the present and the memories of this horrific war from his past really made this feel like a soldier’s experience of warfare in the future. Readers will be enthralled with this narrative of a real soldier’s experiences in the chaos and struggle of war, and how little we understand when we haven’t had to face the choices they have. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.

These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film. He is a member of the HWA, International Thriller Writers, and IFWA.

http://craigdilouie.com/

Star Song by Edward Willett Review

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

A young boy searching for answers to who his long lost parents were holds a powerful instrument with the power to put his innermost feelings into the hearts of the listeners around him, and together with a young girl he must not only discover the instrument’s origins, but prevent ruthless villains from getting the instrument and turning it into a weapon in author Edward Willett’s YA Space Opera and Sci-Fi novel, “Star Song”.

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The Synopsis

From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a thrilling young adult outer space adventure in the spirit of Robert A. Heinlein and Andre Norton.

When the old woman who raised him in a remote village is murdered, Kriss Lemarc finds himself alone on a planet where he’ll always be an outsider.

His only link to his long-dead, unknown parents is the touchlyre they bequeathed him, a strange instrument that not only plays music but pours his innermost feelings into the minds of his listeners.

When Tevera, a girl of the space-going, nomadic Family, hears Kriss perform, she is drawn to him against her better judgment and the rules of her people. With her help, though mistrusted and even hated by some of her comrades, Kriss seeks to discover the origin of the touchlyre, the fate of his parents, and a place where he truly belongs.

But the touchlyre proves to be more than just a musical oddity. Powerful, ruthless people will stop at nothing to get it—and Kriss and Tevera are all that stand in their way.

The Review

Such a vast and creative world the author has created! The novel expertly weaves new mythology, complex galactic politics, and a classic theme of a young hero rising to stop a powerful threat. The atmosphere of the novel really captures that feeling of destiny and family that series like Star Wars have in the past while tying the narrative into a very YA genre storyline.

The characters really were the heart of the novel, however. Kriss and Tevera were brilliant protagonists, each bringing a different corner of this galaxy into the narrative. Incorporating Earth’s past and history into the “lore” of the narrative helped elevate the character’s struggles and developments. Kriss’s desire to be part of a family was a struggle so many readers can identify with, as was Tevera’s need to explore the universe beyond her Family’s ship. 

The Verdict

A memorable, entertaining, and truly wonderous YA-Sci-fi, author Edward Willett’s “Star Song” is a must-read novel of 2021. A great contender for the top sci-fi read of the year, the author’s approach to storytelling and utilizing great detail to enhance the imagery that brings this universe to life in the reader’s mind creates a narrative that feels both grand and personal all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Edward Willett is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy and non-fiction for both children and adults.

Born in Silver City, New Mexico, Willett lived in Bayard, New Mexico and Lubbock and Tulia, Texas, before moving to Weyburn, Saskatchewan with his family when he was eight years old.

He studied journalism at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, then returned to Weyburn as a reporter/photographer for the weekly Weyburn Review, eventually becoming news editor. In 1988 he moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, as communications officer for the Saskatchewan Science Centre, and in 1993 he became a fulltime freelance writer. He still resides in Regina.

Willett is now the author or co-author of more than 60 books, ranging from computer books and other nonfiction titles for both children and adults, to science fiction and fantasy for all ages.

His science fiction novel Marseguro (DAW Books) won the 2009 Aurora Award for best English-language science fiction or fantasy book by a Canadian author. He has also won a Saskatchewan Book Award for his YA fantasy Spirit Singer. He has been shortlisted for the Aurora Award and Saskatchewan Book Awards multiple times.

His most recent novels include Worldshaper and Master of the World, the first two books in his new series Worldshapers, and The Cityborn, a stand-alone science fiction novel from DAW Books; the Masks of Aygrima trilogy, YA/adult crossover novels published by DAW and written as E.C. Blake; the five-book YA fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur, published by Coteau Books; and the stand-alone YA fantasy Flames of Nevyana (Rebelight Publishing). He’s also the author of the Peregrine Rising duology for Bundoran Press (Right to Know and Falcon’s Egg).

Other novels include SF novel Lost in Translation (DAW Books), Terra Insegura (sequel to Marseguro, DAW Books), Magebane (DAW Books, written as Lee Arthur Chane), YA SF novels Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star, Andy Nebula: Double Trouble, and The Chosen; and YA ghost story The Haunted Horn.

Shadowpaw Press recently released his short story collection Paths to the Stars and re-released Spirit Singer, a YA fantasy that won a Saskatchewan Book Award and other awards.

His non-fiction titles run the gamut from science books for children on topics as diverse as Ebola Virus and the Milky Way to local history books like Historic Walks of Regina and Moose Jaw for Red Deer Press, awarded a Municipal Heritage Award by the City of Regina in the education category and A Safe and Prosperous Future: 100 years of engineering and geoscience achievements in Saskatchewan, published by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS). He’s also written biographies for children of Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Andy Warhol, Orson Scott Card, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Ayatollah Khomeini.

You can find Ed online at www.edwardwillett.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @ewillett.

His is represented by literary agent Ethan Ellenberg (www.ethanellenberg.com).

Besides being a writer, Willett is a professional actor and singer who has performed in dozens of plays, musicals and operas in and around Saskatchewan, hosted local television programs, and emceed numerous public events.

He’s married to a telecommunications engineer and has one daughter.

https://edwardwillett.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/edward-willett