Posted in reviews

Winning Streak: Tales and Trivia of the 40 Most Popular Board Games by John-Michael Gariepy Review

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

How did some of our worlds most popular board games come to exist? And how do they continue to earn their legendary status? Find out in author John-Michael Gariepy’s “Winning Streak: Tales and Trivia of the 40 Most Popular Board Games”. 

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The Synopsis

Did you ever wonder:

♞ What makes Clue the best movie based on a game franchise?

♝ What does the doubling cube in backgammon do?

♜ How trains are even supposed to operate in Ticket to Ride: Antarctica?

♛ How the designer of the board game Pandemic feels now that he’s lived through an actual global pandemic?

♚ Whatever happened to the Monopoly game show from the 90s?

Based on Ranker’s poll of almost 400,000 votes, these games define us. From multiple-award winning masterpieces of the past decade, to indestructible classics still going strong after 5,000 years of play, these are the games you must play before you die. Well, except for Sorry!. That game is a blight upon this list and mankind as a whole.

Excuse me. What I’m trying to say is that I wrote this book about games, and I thought you might like it.

The Review

This is one of the more unique and fascinating non-fiction reads you will find out in the world right now. So many of us take for granted the power that a really good board game can have on us. The feelings of nostalgia or the power of diversion they can cause in our lives as we escape into made-up realms like Candy Land or the fun yet the cutthroat world of real estate in Monopoly, all-cause us to turn to board games at one point or another in our lives.

What really stood out to me was how it became so clear that the author not only had done extensive research into the games listed here but had evoked a sense of passion in the writing itself. The book flows naturally and yet hits readers with a zeal for life and a touch of humor that keeps the reader planted firmly in the book. The history and purpose behind some of these games are incredibly neat to dive into and give off a sense of history as well, at least the history of these games and as a result the culture of the times. As a fan of history, this speaks to me immensely. 

The Verdict

An entertaining, engaging and evenly-paced read for fans of board games and history, author John-Michael Gariepy’s “Winning Streak” is a must-read nonfiction title. The concept of board games and gaming, in general, is not only a passion of mine and clearly the authors, but the book is well written and easily captures the raw essence and power behind the history of these iconic games. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Hi!  I’m John-Michael Gariepy.  Over the past decade I played and reviewed over four hundred board games for three podcasts: The Myriad Games Session Impressions, Power to the Meeple, and the Nerd Fountain.  On occasion, I also put together a game review for my blog, DialD4DM.  I also produce the movie/media conversation show, Popcorn Roulette.

I also just edited a jewelry and photography art book/memoirdesign fake Magic: the Gathering cards, and am the director of a medical audio drama called Say Hello to Black Jack.  I have a wide range of interests, a tremendous love of learning, a goofy sense of humor, and attack problems from multiple angles.  It shows in my writing.

https://winningstreakbook.com/

Posted in reviews

Part of Me: Lost and Found by Cisel Ozbay Review

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

The painful process of losing oneself can often lead to some pretty insightful discoveries, as readers are sure to find out in author and poet Cisel Ozbay’s “Part of Me: Lost and Found”. 

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The Synopsis

A journey of self- discovery involves completely losing yourself in order to find yourself again. This collection of poems captures all the ways the author has lost herself, and all the truths she has found in doing so.

The Review

The author has managed to blend the artful and emotional side of poetry with the more thoughtful and engaging aspect of philosophy, with readers taking a journey into the author’s process of eliminating all preconceived notions about herself and the world and making new discoveries. 

Each poem is equal parts creative, equal parts philosophical. An early poem that stood out to me was “Ash”, as it speaks to the troubles in our lives that quickly give way to feelings of anger, and yet burning out that anger can lead to the rebirth in a way of our new selves. It speaks to the Phoenix of mythology, which sees rebirth in the aftermath of a great fire, the perfect metaphor for feelings of anger or rage that could easily overtake us if we let it. 

Meanwhile, poems like “Rare” explore the realization that comes from thinking outside of what’s considered the norm, as it can lead to isolation and loneliness, major contributors to feelings of fear and dread. It is about finding a balance and seeking out those who understand your particular approach to life, making these poems incredibly powerful and insightful.

The Verdict

A momentous, emotional, and thought-provoking read, author Cisel Ozbay’s “Part of Me: Lost and Found” is a must-read book of poetry. The last year and a half especially has been hard on us all and has given many of us moments to pause and reflect on our lives. The author captures this enlightening moment of her own and creates a powerful connection with the reader through their profound words and creative approach to the genre. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Cisel Ozbay is an author from London who began writing during her time at University in Aberdeen. She was inspired by her own life experiences and the turbulent times in her life. Acknowledging the benefits of writing on her own self growth she now writes regularly. Her Parts Of Me: From Me to You, and Parts Of Me: Lost of Found books contain poems written during this same period in her life.

https://www.instagram.com/parts_of_me_poetry_/

Posted in reviews

Go the Distance (A Twisted Tale: Hercules) by Jen Calonita Review

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

After Hercules defeated Hades and saved Mt. Olympus, he was welcomed back as a god. Yet when his immortality threatens to keep him away from his true love, Meg must navigate a treacherous road of untold dangers in a quest to gain immortality herself in author Jen Calonita’s “Go the Distance”, the next entry in the “A Twisted Tale” series.

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The Synopsis

What if Meg had to become a god?

After Hercules proves he’s a true hero and regains his godship, all seems right in the world. That is, until Zeus tells Meg that she can’t be with Hercules because she’s, well, mortal. Luckily, Hera has a solution, offering Meg a chance to prove herself worthy of a spot on Mt. Olympus–as a god. All Meg has to do is complete a mysterious quest.

The mission? Oh, just to rescue her ex’s current wife from the Underworld. The ex-boyfriend she saved by selling her soul to Hades. The ex-boyfriend who immediately moved on to someone else while she was stuck in the Underworld. Can Meg put her past behind her and use her quick-wit to defeat monsters and gods alike, including the nefarious Hades? Will she finally figure out her place and contribution to the world? Or will her fear of commitment have her running away from an eternity of godhood with Herc?

Written by the author of Mirror, Mirror and Conceal, Don’t Feel, Jen Calonita’s latest twist is sure to delight and surprise.

The Review

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for this arc, because wow this was an incredible journey. As both a major Disney fan and fan of Greek Mythology, this book was the perfect blend of them both. Getting to explore a scenario where Meg and Herc had to fight for their happy ending together was great to see unfold.

Immediately the author delves even deeper into Greek Mythology than the Disney film had done originally, exploring a variety of new monsters and even various new locations that longtime enthusiasts of the mythology will be well aware of. Readers even get a chance to better explore the realm of the gods, as the narrative introduces the gods to Meg along her journey.

However, it is Meg who takes center stage and makes this story shine. The author brilliantly explores Meg as a character and explores why Meg became involved with Hades in the first place. From the tragic past with her mother to the shocking untold truths behind the boyfriend who betrayed her and the near-impossible journey to open up her heart to Hercules and those around her, Meg’s character evolution is the most gripping and engaging aspect of this novel, and expertly adds a new and much-needed chapter to the story began in the film.

The Verdict

A masterful, entertaining, and epic story, author Jen Calonita’s “Go the Distance” is a must-read YA Fantasy and Romance tale. The book is evenly-paced and perfectly captures the magic of the Disney film with the darker side of Greek Mythology and all of the amazing levels to that complex part of history. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m Jen Calonita, a MG and YA author who loves what I do because it lets me connect with all of you (and no, I wasn’t intending for that to rhyme!).

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, but it was fourth grade when I put my “three wishes” for a genie down on paper. They were:

#1. Buy all the Cabbage Patch Kids in the world and give them away for free (because apparently that was how I rolled).

#2. I wanted a mansion, limo, lake house, pool and speed boat (still sounds quite nice).

#3. I wanted to be an author for young readers, which I am!

I love writing novels for teens (and for savvy grown ups who know that YA rocks at any age). My first series was “Secrets of My Hollywood Life” and it followed a teen star named Kaitlin Burke who struggled with the fame game. I have also written the stand-alone novels Sleepaway Girls, it’s companion book, Summer State of Mind and the Belles series.

I’ve been writing middle grade too and am having so much fun with my series Fairy Tale Reform School! The fourth book in this series about a school run by former villains is called Tricked and will be out March 2018. Ever wonder what it would be like if your parents got a job with someone like Taylor Swift? My other middle grade series, VIP, follows super fan Mackenzie Lowell as she tours with her favorite band, Perfect Storm.

I promise to give book updates here, and on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or my website. I hope I hear from you!

xo

Jen

http://www.jencalonitaonline.com/

Posted in reviews

The Path to Sunshine Cove (Cape Sanctuary #2) by RaeAnne Thayne Review

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

Jessica Clayton must contend with a haunted childhood and the challenge of letting people get close to her as she attempts to get a better relationship with her sister and her family, along with her latest client and her client’s son, in author RaeAnne Thayne’s “The Path to Sunshine Cove”, the second book in the “Cape Sanctuary” series. 

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The Synopsis

She knows what’s best for everyone but herself…

With a past like hers, Jessica Clayton feels safer in a life spent on the road. She’s made a career out of helping others downsize—because she’s learned the hard way that the less “stuff,” the better, a policy she applies equally to her relationships. But a new client is taking Jess back to Cape Sanctuary, a town she once called home…and that her little sister, Rachel, still does. The years apart haven’t made a dent in the guilt Jess still carries after a handgun took the lives of both their parents and changed everything between them.

While Jess couldn’t wait to put the miles between her and Cape Sanctuary, Rachel put down roots, content for the world—and her sister—to think she has a picture-perfect life. But with the demands of her youngest child’s disability, Rachel’s marriage has begun to fray at the seams. She needs her sister now more than ever, yet she’s learned from painful experience that Jessica doesn’t do family, and she shouldn’t count on her now.

Against her judgment, Jess finds herself becoming attached—to her sister and her family, even to her client’s interfering son, Nate—and it’s time to put everything on the line. Does she continue running from her painful past, or stay put and make room for the love and joy that come along with it?

The Review

This was a perfect read for those who enjoy feel-good, emotionally driven women’s fiction with a touch of romance. The relationship between Jess and Nate evolves at a great pace, and the progression of Jess’s relationship with her sister Rachel makes the character growth between these characters shine brightly.

The story itself has an air of relatability to it, speaking to the trauma children can endure throughout their childhood and how it can influence the behavior of us all as adults. The walls we put up in the aftermath of trauma can affect relationships, and Jess showcases the painful but rewarding journey to overcome those walls. 

The Verdict

A heartwarming, connective, and engaging read, author RaeAnne Thayne’s “The Path to Sunshine” is a must-read women’s fiction novel. The balance of family and romance within the narrative makes for a gripping tale, and readers won’t want to miss the emotional final chapters of this story. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @raeannethayne

Facebook: @AuthorRaeAnneThayne

Instagram: @raeannethayne

Goodreads

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

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An Excerpt From “The Path to Sunshine Cove”

Chapter One 

If not for all of the emotional baggage cluttering up her Airstream, this wouldn’t be a bad place to park for a few days. 

As Jess Clayton drove through the quiet streets of Cape Sanctuary on a beautiful May afternoon, she couldn’t help being charmed anew by the Northern California beach town vibes. 

She had been here before, of course. Several times. Her sister lived just down that street there, in a large two-story cottage with gables, a bay window and a lush flower garden. Rachel loved it here. Every time Jess came to town, she was reminded why. What was not to love? Cape Sanctuary was a town defined by whimsical houses, overflowing gardens, wind chimes and Japanese fishing balls. 

And, of course, the gorgeous coastline, marked by redwoods, rock formations, cliffs.

 She drove past Juniper Way, her sister’s street, but didn’t turn down. Not yet. She would see Rachel, Cody and the kids soon, after she was settled.

 They were the whole reason she was here, after all. She didn’t see her nieces and nephew enough, only on the rare holidays and birthdays that she could arrange a visit. When a prospective client reached out from the same town as Rachel and her family, Jess saw it as a golden opportunity to spend more time with the kids. 

And her sister, of course.

 She sighed as she made her way to her destination, Sunshine Cove, still a mile away, according to her navigation system.

 Rachel was the reason for all that baggage she was towing along. Jess loved her younger sister dearly but their relationship was like a messy tangle of electric wires, some of them live and still sparking. 

She would be in Cape Sanctuary for two weeks on this job. Maybe she would finally have the chance to sort things out with Rachel and achieve some kind of peace. 

The road rose, climbing through a stand of redwoods and coastal pine, with houses tucked in here and there before the view to the ocean opened up again

. In five hundred feet, your destination is on the right: 2135 Seaview Road. 

She couldn’t argue with Siri on this one. That was a spectacular view. The Pacific glistened in the afternoon sunlight, with only a few feathery clouds above the horizon line. She turned at the orca-shaped mailbox Eleanor Whitaker had told her to seek. Through more coastal pine, she could see the house. She recognized it from the pictures her client had sent. One level, made of stone and cedar, the house looked as if it had grown out of the landscape fully formed. 

She knew the house was more than five thousand square feet, built at the turn of the century by a wealthy ranching and logging family in the area. It featured seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms, all of which she would come to know well over the next two weeks. 

From the picture Eleanor had sent, Jess knew Whitaker House was beautiful. Elegant. Comfortable. Warm.

 The kind of place where Jess had once dreamed of living, free of shouting, chaos, pain.

 She could see, tucked into the trees overlooking the ocean, a smaller house on the property that was almost a miniature of the big house, with the same cedar and stone exterior as well as windows that gleamed in the afternoon sun. 

A big dark blue pickup truck was parked there but she couldn’t see anyone around. 

Jess pulled her own rig over to the side of the driveway in case anyone needed to come in and out, then scouted around for a place she could unhitch.

 From their phone call earlier that morning as she was driving, she knew Eleanor wouldn’t be here, that she had taken her teenage granddaughter into a nearby town to an orthodontist appointment and then to catch a movie they had both been wanting to see. 

Make yourself at home and set up anywhere that works, Eleanor had said. 

As she cased the property, she instantly found the spot a hundred yards from the house that would give her a perfect view of the water, almost as if it had been created exactly for her twenty-four-foot 1993 Airstream, affectionately nicknamed Vera by Jess’s business partner. 

This job was meant to be. She had already bonded with Eleanor Whitaker over their weeks of email and phone correspondence. This view sealed the deal. 

When she was done working each day, she could go to sleep to the restful sound of the ocean. She climbed back in her pickup and backed the trailer with the ease of long practice. Some people struggled with trailering but Jess didn’t. The seven years she had spent as a driver in the military still served her well. 

When the Airstream was in a good spot, she hopped out and was reaching in the back of the pickup for the chocks when an angry male voice drifted across the manicured lawn to her. 

“Hey. This is private property. You can’t park that here!” 

She instinctively wrapped her hand around the chock. Angry male voices always brought out the warrior princess in her. She could blame both her childhood and those years in the army when she had to go toe to toe with people twice her weight and a foot taller. 

The chock was heavy and could do real damage in the right hands. 

Hers. 

“I have permission to be here,” she said, her voice cool but polite.

 He frowned. “Permission? That’s impossible.” 

“I assure you, it’s not.” 

“This is my mother’s property. She would have told me if she had given somebody permission to camp here.”

 Ah. This must be Nathaniel Whitaker, Eleanor’s son. Her client had mentioned that he lived in another house on the property and would probably be in and out as Jess went about her work.

 Hadn’t Eleanor told him Jess was coming? 

She relaxed her grip on the chock but didn’t release it. “You must be Nathaniel. Eleanor has told me about you.” 

Her words didn’t have an impact on his expression. If anything, his glower intensified, his frown now edged with confusion that she knew his name. 

Despite his sour expression, she couldn’t help noticing he was an extraordinarily good-looking man. Eleanor hadn’t mentioned that her son had dark hair, stormy blue eyes, a square jawline. Or that his green T-shirt with a logo over the right breast pocket that read Whitaker Construction clung to his muscles. 

Jess found it extremely inconvenient that Nathaniel Whitaker happened to hit every single one of her personal yum buttons.

 “Who are you?” he demanded. “And how do you know my mother?”

 Ah. This was tricky. Eleanor was her client. She must have had her own reasons for not telling her son Jess was showing up. Jess felt compelled to honor those reasons. Until she could talk to the woman, Jess didn’t feel right about giving more information to Nate than his own mother had

. “My name is Jess Clayton. Your mother knows I planned to arrive today. I have her permission to set up anywhere. I thought this would work well.”

 Beautifully, actually. The more time she looked around, the better she liked it. A twisting path down to the ocean started just a few yards away, leading down to what looked like a protected cove. 

“Set up for what? Why are you here?”

 “You really should ask your mother,” she said. It would be so much better if he could hear the explanation from Eleanor.

 “I just tried to call her when I saw you pulling in. She’s not answering.” 

“Probably in the middle of the movie. She told me she and Sophie were going to a matinee after the orthodontist.”

 If she thought this further knowledge about his family would set Nate’s mind at ease, she was sadly mistaken. His gaze narrowed further. “How the hell do you know my daughter had an orthodontist appointment?”

 “Your mom happened to mention it.”

 “Funny, the things my mother told you. I talk to her several times a day, every day, and she hasn’t said a word to me about a strange woman setting up a trailer in the side yard. Tell me again what you’re doing here?”

 She wanted to be finishing her trailer setup so she could unhitch and go into town for groceries. She would rather not be engaged in a confrontation with a strange man, no matter how hot, who didn’t need to know every detail of his mother’s life. 

Why hadn’t Eleanor told him already? It’s not as if the woman could keep their efforts a secret for long.

 Still, it was not up to Jess to spill the dirt. 

“I’m afraid that’s between me and your mother. You really need to get the answer to that question from her.”

 “Sorry, ma’am, but that’s not good enough. Right now, you’re trespassing. If you don’t move this out of here, I’m calling the police. The chief happens to be a good friend of mine.” 

“Yes, I know.” Done with this discussion, Jess reached down to wedge the chock behind the passenger-side wheel. “You play poker with him every other Friday night. Your mother told me.” 

“What else did she tell you?” He had moved beyond suspicion to outright hostility. She probably shouldn’t have said anything about the poker. She certainly wouldn’t want someone she didn’t know poking into her business. If he hadn’t been so blasted good-looking, she might have been able to handle this whole thing better. 

She forced a smile, trying to take a different tack. “I assure you, Eleanor knows I’m coming, as I said. She told me to settle in and make myself comfortable until she gets home. You can try calling her again.”

 Or you can accept that maybe I’m telling the truth and give me a break here. I’ve been driving for hours. I’m tired and hungry and I would really like to make a sandwich, which I can’t do with you standing there like a bouncer at a nightclub in a bad part of town. 

“I’ve tried multiple times. She’s not answering. You’re probably right, her phone is probably on silent.”

 “Look, when Eleanor and Sophie come back from the movie, she can tell you what’s going on. Until then, I would really like to finish setting up here.” 

“No matter what I say?”

 She didn’t want to challenge him but she was starving. 

“This is your mother’s house and she invited me here,” she said simply. “It will be easy enough to prove that once Eleanor returns. If I’m lying for some unknown reason and just happened to make an extraordinarily lucky guess about your mom and a daughter named Sophie who had an orthodontist appointment today, you and the entire Cape Sanctuary police force can boot me out.”

 He didn’t look at all appeased, his features still suspicious. She couldn’t really blame him. He was only trying to protect those he loved. She would probably do the same in his shoes.

 “Would you like a sandwich?” she said, trying another tack. “I make a mean PB and J.” 

For the first time, she saw a glimmer of surprise on his expression, as if he couldn’t quite believe she had the audacity to ask. “No, I wouldn’t like a sandwich.” 

“Suit yourself. I’ve had a long day already and I’m ready for some food. And I need to see how Vera survived the drive.” 

As she might have expected, his frown deepened. “Who is Vera?” 

She patted the skin on the Airstream. “It was, um, a pleasure to meet you, Nathaniel.”

 “Nate,” he muttered. “Nobody but my mother calls me Nathaniel.” 

“Nate, then.” 

She nodded and without waiting for him to argue, she slipped into the trailer and closed the door firmly behind her.

 The curtains were still closed from the drive and she didn’t want to open them yet to the afternoon sunlight. Not when Nate Whitaker might still be lurking outside.

 Instead, she sank onto the sofa that doubled as her office, dining room and guest space, astonished and dismayed to find her hands were shaking.

 What was that about? She had a familiar itchiness between her shoulder blades and could feel a little crash as her adrenaline subsided. 

Nate Whitaker wasn’t a threat to her. Yes, he might be angry right now but he wouldn’t hurt her. She already felt like his mother was an old and dear friend. Eleanor surely couldn’t have a son who was prone to random violence.

 Instinct told her he wouldn’t physically hurt her, yet Jess still had the strangest feeling that Nate posed some kind of danger to her. 

Ah well. She likely wouldn’t have much to do with the man. She was here to help Eleanor, not to fraternize with the woman’s gorgeous offspring. 

She only had to make sure she didn’t lose sight of her twin objectives here in Cape Sanctuary—spending time with her sister’s family and helping her client—and she would be fine. 

Excerpted from The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne Copyright © RaeAnne Thayne. Published by HQN Books.

Q&A with Author RaeAnne Thayner

Q:  I’m a fan. I love your novels, especially your holiday books. How are you able to write so many books?

 A: Thank you so much. I don’t feel like I’m a very fast writer, if you want the truth, I have just been around forever so have a big backlist! My first book came out in 1996 and I just finished my 68th book, so that works out to not quite 3 books a year. I try to write 10 pages a day, five-six days a week. I find consistency, sticking with it every day, is really the key when it comes to being productive.

Q: Are you a plot driven writer or character?

 A: Ooh. Both! I would say first, characters. All of my books start with the characters. I have to know their goals, motivations and conflicts before I can even start thinking about a plot. Once I have figured that out, I definitely spend a long time thinking about what journey they need to take to find their happy ending.

Q: Any special message you hope your readers get from The Path to Sunshine Cove?

 A: Life is hard and messy and imperfect but the relationships we nurture with those we love can help smooth away all the rough edges.

Q: Do you outline or just go for it?

 A: I have to plot extensively or I find myself wandering through the weeds trying to figure out where to go with the story. I spend a long time at the beginning of a book in the planning process, including writing each scene on an index card that contains the point-of-view character, the goal of the scene, the setting and important plot details of the scene. It helps me stay on track.

Q:  How did you start writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

A: I come from a family of voracious readers, thanks to our mother who loved to read. Because I loved to read, I learned to love words and writing but it was never my dream until high school when I took a journalism class and learned to love telling stories. I pursued a career in journalism and worked as a newspaper reporter and editor but still dreamed of writing a book. I started my first novel when I was on maternity leave with our oldest daughter, who is now 30. This year marks my 25th anniversary of being a published author!

Posted in reviews

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria 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 desperate to find her lost brother awakens a long thought lost automaton, and with him the secrets of a powerful country in author Emily Victoria’s YA Fantasy, “This Golden Flame”. 

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The Synopsis

An Ember in the Ashes meets Mask of Shadows in Emily Victoria’s #ownvoices debut YA fantasy, This Golden Flame, in which asexual Karis, a servant to the mysterious Scriptorium, accidentally awakens long-dormant automaton Alix, initiating an epic adventure full of magic, rebellion, and finding where you truly belong.

Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.

In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible?she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father?their nation’s greatest traitor?once tried to destroy the automatons.

Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.

The Review

What a brilliant fusion of sci-fi and fantasy within the YA genre. The world-building that the author has done here allows readers to witness a world where they can seamlessly see where magical runes and magic itself end and technology and advanced science begin. The fictional setting that the characters find themselves in harkens back to a similar time as Ancient Greece, adapting many of that era’s way of life and the pursuit of knowledge while at the same time observing ancient customs and beliefs. 

The thing that stood out the most for me as a reader was the amazing character development the author brought forth to this read. The protagonists in this story, Alix and Karis, are both fantastic as readers get to see from both perspectives. However, Karis was an especially inspired choice for the protagonist, as her status as one of the heroes of this tale not only gives representation to the asexual community within the larger LGBTQ+ community but inspires young asexual people to embrace their identity no matter what. This is an extremely important territory the author has entered, and it adds to more representation within the YA genre. 

The Verdict

A stunning, engaging, and breathtaking world of magic and wonder, author Emily Victoria’s “This Golden Flame” is a must-read YA sci-fi and fantasy read. The author brilliantly brings an important LGBTQ+ character to the narrative and creates a fascinating world of science and magic that astounds the reader and creates a world that is brimming with possibilities but haunted by corruption. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Portraits

Emily Victoria lives on the Canadian prairies with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, works at her public library, and has just finished her Masters of Library and Information Studies.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/this-golden-flame/9781335080271 

Powell’s: https://www.powells.com/

book/-9781335080271 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-golden-flame-emily-victoria/1134633347 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335080271

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/This-Golden-Flame-Emily-Victoria-ebook/dp/B07ZXCWTYF/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1603379509&sr=8-1 

Chapters: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/this-golden-flame/9781335080271-item.html?ikwid=this+golden+flame&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=3

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/this-golden-flame

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Confined Desires (Rehoboth Pact #1) by Katherine McIntyre Blog Tour

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

Two women who have been best friends for years find themselves sharing a home during a required Quarantine during a pandemic, and in the process find their buried feelings for one another coming to the surface in author Katherine McIntyre’s “Confined Desires”, the first in the Rehoboth series.

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The Synopsis

Sky’s crush on her best friend has always been unrequited… until they’re stuck in quarantine together and sparks fly.

Sky’s high school bestie is moving back to the area and staying with her for a few weeks. Easy, right? Not when she’d held a torch for the woman since high school. The moment Mia walks through Sky’s door, those unrequited feelings return full-force. So, when a spreading virus keeps them confined in Sky’s apartment even longer, Sky is screwed.

Mia returns home after a bad breakup, but Sky is the only one who offers a safe place to land. However, the seven years they spent apart has her looking at her best friend through a different lens, attraction sparking with every inside joke, shared dinner, and cuddle on the couch.

That flare of desire fast turns physical. They can’t get enough of each other. Yet, whenever Mia tries for the “where is this going” talk, Sky dodges. Sky lost her sister in high school, and ever since, she’s become ace at keeping dates at a distance. Yet if she doesn’t manage to push past her own fears, she might lose her one shot at happiness with the woman she’s waited a lifetime for.

The Review

This was such a well-balanced and engaging read. The author brilliantly delivers a powerfully romantic story of two friends who reunite after years apart, only to be forced into quarantine together where feelings both had pushed down without the other’s knowledge begin to stir up. The author expertly brings the real-life feelings and complications from a romance such as this to life, from the fear of losing that best friend should the relationship fail, to the pain of the past threatening to loom over their relationship, and more.

What makes this novel stand out is not only the amazing relationship between these two women and its evolution throughout the narrative but the setting of the novel as well. While not the exact same virus, pitting this romance story against the backdrop of a pandemic is inspired at a time like this. The real-world pandemic has not only been stressful and painful for many around the world but has forced us all to reexamine our lives and the relationships we hold dear as well. This makes the romance even more profound and emotional in this story.

The Verdict

A romantic, emotionally investing and remarkable read, author Katherine McIntyre’s “Confined Desires” is a must-read novel. The author’s use of the two central protagonists for a majority of the novel’s plot was an inspired choice and really elevated the book’s setting as well. Combine this with the extreme emotions these two women share together and apart from one another throughout the narrative, and readers will be thoroughly invested in this book. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Confined Desires - Katherine McIntyre

Katherine McIntyre has a new FF contemporary romance out: Confined Desires. And there’s a giveaway!

Sky’s crush on her best friend has always been unrequited… until they’re stuck in quarantine together and sparks fly.

Sky’s high school bestie is moving back to the area and staying with her for a few weeks. Easy, right? Not when she’d held a torch for the woman since high school. The moment Mia walks through Sky’s door, those unrequited feelings return full-force. So, when a spreading virus keeps them confined in Sky’s apartment even longer, Sky is screwed.

Mia returns home after a bad breakup, but Sky is the only one who offers a safe place to land. However, the seven years they spent apart has her looking at her best friend through a different lens, attraction sparking with every inside joke, shared dinner, and cuddle on the couch.

That flare of desire fast turns physical. They can’t get enough of each other. Yet, whenever Mia tries for the “where is this going” talk, Sky dodges. Sky lost her sister in high school, and ever since, she’s become ace at keeping dates at a distance. Yet if she doesn’t manage to push past her own fears, she might lose her one shot at happiness with the woman she’s waited a lifetime for.

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Universal Buy Link | Goodreads


Giveaway

Katherine is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47177/?


Excerpt

Confined Desires meme

Mia twined her arms around Sky and leaned her head against her shoulder. “See, this is why I missed you so damn much.”

Sky froze, unable to move. Part of her melted at this touch, while the other freaked out. The last thing Mia needed was her best friend dumping a lifelong crush on her lap. This close, she could feel the woman’s sleepy heat, and the sweet scent of peaches wafted off her. Sky’s mouth watered—the response instinctual. She forced her hand up to run her fingers through Mia’s silken strands. That was friendly, right?

“Missed you too, babe,” she murmured.

“So, wait, are you working tonight, or no?” Mia asked, pulling away to grab her mug.

“Uh, no,” Sky murmured, mind racing as she tried to come up with an excuse to leave.

Mia tapped the edge of her mug with her fingernail. “Then maybe we could take the day to play catch up?” she asked. When Sky didn’t respond, the words refusing to leave her tongue, Mia’s eyes widened. “I mean, as long as you didn’t have plans or anything. I know I kind of dropped this on you. Fuck, I don’t even know if you’re seeing anyone or who you hang out with anymore.”

“Pitifully single,” Sky responded. “My girlfriend and I split up last year, and I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t been able to get out to the bars or clubs in Philly at all to jump back into the dating scene. Trust me, you haven’t missed much.”

“Bullshit,” Mia said, placing her mug of coffee down. “Get dressed. We’re heading out to Lucky’s, and I’m buying you breakfast.” Her blue eyes twinkled as she doled out the commands, and Sky’s heart thumped harder.

Sky scratched the nape of her neck. “Yes, ma’am.”

She headed to the bedroom, cursing her lack of an excuse. A large part of her was thrilled to be spending all of this time around Mia after so long. Yet the other part of her just wanted to solder metal sheets around her heart.

As if she’d stand a chance with Mia Brownstone living at her house for the next two weeks.

 


Author Bio

Katherine McIntyre

Snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes.

Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—and there’s an equally high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women.

Author Website: http://www.katherine-mcintyre.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/kmcintyreauthor

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/pixierants

Author Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authorkmcintyre

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6473654.Katherine_McIntyre

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Katherine-McIntyre/e/B00J8U4VNU

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The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal by Bryn Turnbull 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 caught in a complex love affair with a member of British Royalty leaves for America to support her beloved sister in a grueling custody battle, never knowing the person she asked to stay behind with her beloved would become one of history’s most remembered figures for twentieth century royals in author Bryn Turnbull’s “The Woman Before Wallis”.

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The Synopsis 

For fans of The Paris Wife and The Crown, this stunning novel tells the true story of the American divorcée who captured Prince Edward’s heart before he abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson.

In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.

In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.

Bryn Turnbull takes readers from the raucous glamour of the Paris Ritz and the French Riviera to the quiet, private corners of St. James’s Palace in this sweeping story of love, loyalty and betrayal.

The Review

This was a fantastic and unique historical fiction drama. The author brilliantly delves into the dynamics of this complex love affair and the inherent problems that arise within the Royal Family and high society as a whole in the early twentieth century. 

What stood out obviously was the fact that this novel focused not on the infamous Edward and Wallis of Windsor, but on the equally infamous Thelma and Gloria of the Vanderbilt family. Getting two distinct timelines to explore, (Thelma’s love life and the later custody battle for “Little Gloria”), was an inspired and creative choice of topic for this novel, and allowed readers to delve more distinctly into not only these two infamous sisters but the dynamics between each other and those surrounding them. 

The novel also does an excellent job of capturing the importance placed upon high society and perception back in those days. From the scandals created for both sisters as they each underwent some loss of a marriage, to love affairs with royalty, this novel captures the era and the atmosphere of that time perfectly.

The Verdict

A remarkable, entertaining, and engaging historical fiction novel, author Bryn Turnbull’s “The Woman Before Wallis” is a must-read story. The slow build between both timelines explored by the author accompanied by the infamous history behind this narrative and fantastic character development make this a truly special read that is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Bryn Turnbull is a writer of historical fiction with a penchant for fountain pens and antique furniture. Equipped with a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, a Master of Professional Communication from Ryerson University, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding the stories of women found within the cracks of the historical record. When she’s not writing, Bryn can be found exploring new coffee shops, spending time with her family in cottage country, or traveling. She lives in Toronto, and can generally be found with a book in hand.

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @BrynTurnbull

Instagram: @brynturnbullwrites

Facebook: @brynturnbullwrites

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Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay (Narrated by Caroline Holmes) Audiobook Tour and Review

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

A now 15-year old Alice finds herself desperate to escape an asylum her tales of Wonderland landed her in, but upon deciding against an experimental experiment at the last minute, Alice escapes back into Wonderland, only to land in the court of the Queen of Hearts in author H.J. Ramsay’s “Ever Alice”. 

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The Synopsis

Alice’s stories of Wonderland did more than raise a few eyebrows – it landed her in an asylum. Now at 15 years of age, she’s willing to do anything to leave, which includes agreeing to an experimental procedure. When Alice decides at the last minute not to go through with it, she escapes with the White Rabbit to Wonderland and trades one mad house for another: The court of the Queen of Hearts. Only this time, she is under orders to take out the Queen. When love, scandal, and intrigue begin to muddle her mission, Alice finds herself on the wrong side of the chopping block.

The Review

A fantastic deep dive into the aftermath of author Lewis Carrols classic tale, Ever Alice does an amazing job of standing on its own feet while still paying tribute to such an iconic story. The narrator brought a sense of classic English literature to the retelling of this novel, capturing the elegance and grace that the themes of royalty and the setting of the 1800s in her delivery. 

The thing that really stood out to me while reading this book was the way the author mirrored real-life tales of royalty and betrayal. The spiraling nature of the Queen of Hearts and her capturing of the Queen of Spades reminded me of Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I, which as a history buff was a great addition to the fantasy element of the narrative. The way the author delves into both Alice and the Queen of Hearts stories was interesting to see, the complexity of their journeys layered perfectly.

The Verdict

A fascinating, entertaining and engaging journey through Wonderland, author H.J. Ramsay’s “Ever Alice” is a fantastic audiobook. The story is magical and the characters both old and new highly complex and thrilling in their depictions. The surprise ending has me as a reader hooked on this particular fantasy world, and everyone should check out this book for themselves. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author: H.J. Ramsay

Narrator: Caroline Holmes

Length: 11 hours 2 minutes

Publisher: Red Rogue Press

Released: January 19, 2021

Genre: Fantasy; YA

Continue reading “Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay (Narrated by Caroline Holmes) Audiobook Tour and Review”
Posted in reviews

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings of Magic & Mystery by Kathy Martone 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 goes on a journey of enlightenment as a legend of the Ozarks known as Grandfather emerges to fulfill a destiny for the woman that dates back to her birth in author Kathy Martone’s “Victorian Songlight: The Birthings of Magic & Mystery”. 

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The Synopsis

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

The Review

What a powerful and insightful read. The author’s ability to weave in New Age spirituality and practices into the characters and the main plot overall was great to see as someone with a fascination with this subject, as well as the “real world” magic that often goes unnoticed by humanity. The more fantastic elements do a great job of bringing the fantasy genre to life in this tale, while the author’s writing adds an element of powerful imagery that brings the scenes to life with ease. 

The highlight of the novel however is the protagonist and the themes explored through her journey. Kate must deal with a family history that speaks of tragic events that she had to endure as a child, and the fantasy journey she undergoes seems to be a mental and emotional journey as well to understand the trauma she endured. It is a powerful motivator for her character arc and an emotional side to Kate’s story that readers will instantly feel for. 

The Verdict

A powerful, engaging and thought-provoking fantasy read, author Kathy Martone’s “Victorian Songlight” is a must-read novel. The author expertly crafts a narrative that is both heartbreaking and therapeutic at once and handles the more triggering subjects in this narrative with grace. The reader will instantly be hooked by the author’s writing, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Goodreads link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51054900-victorian-songlight

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/victorian-songlight-kathy-martone-phd/1134222514;jsessionid=55ACE2AF79811832054FE012FFDB1A27.prodny_store01-atgap14?ean=9781947381162