Two Fantastic #Reads #TuesdayBookReview @BetteAStevens @KennedyRWrites


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Two Very Different Stories of Strength over Adversity

I didn’t get much writing done last week- okay, no writing done last week- but I did read two wonderful books while watering my plants. I call that a win 🙂

Whether or not You Grew Up in the 1950s and 60s, you’ll find DOG BONE SOUP (Historical Fiction) to be soup for the soul. In this coming-of-age novel, Shawn Daniels’s father is the town drunk. Shawn and his brother Willie are in charge of handling everything that needs to be done around the ramshackle place they call home—lugging in water for cooking and cleaning, splitting and stacking firewood…But when chores are done, these resourceful kids strike out on boundless adventures that don’t cost a dime. DOG BONE SOUP is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when others were living The American Dream.

Biography

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). The author is currently (2019) working on two poetry collections. MY MAINE: Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection (2019).

My Review

Shawn Daniels is the oldest of a dirt poor family and his days are full of cutting wood, hauling water, caring for his younger siblings and trying to keep up his grades at school.

Compounded by a drunkard for a father who makes the family a laughing stock, Shawn dreams of escaping the doldrums of his day-to-day existence.

It’s not all bad though. Shawn and his brother, Willie, go on many adventures together; biking, fishing, sneaking apples from the neighbors field, and learning to milk cows so his family doesn’t go without. He picks up odd jobs and soon knows how to do a wide variety of life skills.

Shawn’s strength of will and ingenuity shine throughout this heartwarming tale. Set in the 50’s the vernacular takes us back to ‘simpler’ times when work was long and hard for little payment and indoor plumbing was for the rich.

This is a wonderfully told story that will leave you laughing in places, and gasping in others!


From Wall Street JournalUSA Today Bestselling and RITA® Award-winning Author Kennedy Ryan, comes a captivating second chance romance like only she can deliver…

The boy who always felt like mine is now the man I can’t have…

Dig a little and you’ll find photos of me in the bathtub with Ezra Stern.
Get your mind out of the gutter. We were six months old.
Pry and one of us might confess we saved our first kiss for each other. The most clumsy, wet, sloppy . . . spectacular thirty seconds of my adolescence.
Get into our business and you’ll see two families, closer than blood, torn apart in an instant.
Twenty years later, my “awkward duckling” best friend from childhood, the boy no one noticed, is a man no one can ignore.
Finer. Fiercer. Smarter.
Taken.
Tell me it’s wrong.
Tell me the boy who always felt like mine is now the man I can’t have.
When we find each other again, everything stands in our way–secrets, lies, promises.
But we didn’t come this far to give up now.
And I know just the move to make if I want to make him mine.

Biography

A RITA® Award Winner and USA Today Bestseller, Kennedy Ryan writes for women from all walks of life, empowering them and placing them firmly at the center of each story and in charge of their own destinies. Her heroes respect, cherish and lose their minds for the women who capture their hearts.

Kennedy and her writings have been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour and many others. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but has a special passion for raising Autism awareness.The co-founder of LIFT 4 Autism, an annual charitable book auction, she has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other media outlets as an advocate for ASD families. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son.

Stay In Touch!

Facebook: facebook.com/KennedyRyanAuthor
Book Group: facebook.com/groups/681604768593989/
Twitter: @Kennedyrwrites
Instagram: @kennedyryan1
BookBub: bit.ly/KRBookBub
Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/7429243.Kennedy_Ryan
Google +: plus.google.com/u/0/+KennedyRyanAuthor/posts
New Release Text Alerts: Text Kennedy Ryan 797979

My Review

The first time Ezra and Kimba met was in a bathtub- as babies. Even then they clicked.

Growing up as neighbors, the kids formed an alliance. They played together, their families often ate together, and they attended school together. But with Ezra’s mixed heritage background, he was often bullied.

Kimba hated that her friend was tormented and it fostered a need to change the rights of minorities.

For Ezra’s part, he kept his head down and worked hard on his grades while learning about his Jewish faith.

At thirteen, the best friends develop new attractions for each other and a wonderfully portrayed first kiss is later ruined by a horrible fight between Ezra and Kimba’s parents. One that will separate the two of them for three decades.

When they meet up again, Kimba has just lost her father and Ezra’s relationship with his son’s mother is on its last legs.

While I loved the first half of the book, I found the second part to be sex, sex, sex. It ruined the storyline for me. These are supposed to be two almost forty-year-olds and they make out like teenagers in a car in her mother’s driveway- in broad daylight! I’m not buying it. Maybe I’m jaded, but I’d sooner read about their very real issues, than how they can’t keep their hands off each other.

It’s too bad, because this had the makings of a truly great story.

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

June #BookReviews from @JackieAshenden @SuzanneJenkins3 #amreading


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I should be writing, I have looming deadlines and blank pages, but the garden is calling me to slip off my shoes and read a book.

So I am 🙂

First in a bold, sexy new small-town Alaska contemporary romance series from Jackie Ashenden

Deep River, Alaska boasts a fiercely independent though small population. The people who live here love it, and they don’t much care what anyone else thinks. Until the day Silas Quinn comes back and tells them an oil reserve has been found below the town and now it’s neighbor vs. neighbor. Some want to take the money and run, while others want to tell the oil company to put its rigs where the sun don’t shine.

Hope Dawson never expected to leave Deep River. Her mom needs her. Her grandfather died and left her the local hangout to run. Her dreams of college and adventure died long ago. Until Silas comes back to town, holding the key to set her free. But freedom means she loses him again, and he’s the one she’s really always wanted.

Pre-order here

Biography

Jackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. Mild mannered fantasy/SF/pseudo-literary writer by day, obsessive romance writer by night, she used to balance her writing with the more serious job of librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted her to throw off the shackles of her day job and devote herself to the true love of her heart – writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark, emotional stories with alpha heroes who’ve just got the world to their liking only to have it blown wide apart by their kick-ass heroines.

She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr Jax and two kids. When she’s not torturing alpha males and their gutsy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, wasting time on social media, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.

My Review

Hope Dawson dreamed of grand adventures and going to college, but when her grandfather unexpectedly dies, leaving her to run the local pub and care for her mother, Hope accepts her fate.

Then a blast from the past blows into Deep River in the form of one sinfully hot Silas Quinn. But he’s not here for a reunion, he has news that could destroy the sleepy little Alaskan town.

Silas doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a town, much less taking time away from his new business to deliver news he knows is going to be poorly received. Not to mention the fact that he’s bound to see Hope again- his best friend and the woman he’s never forgotten.

This was an enjoyable read by a new-to-me author. Her descriptions of The Happy Moose (the bar) and Deep River’s citizens brought the town to life for me. There are past wounds that need healed before Hope and Silas can have a chance to see where their attraction might lead, as well as the complication of oil being found under the town and how it creates rifts among the people.

This is lining up to be a good series!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”


After a fire almost destroys her house, firefighter Paul Saint lays eyes on curvy girl, teacher Emily Porter and all his imagined roadblocks to love come tumbling down.

Due to his fear of commitment, he doesn’t see marriage in his future. After moving into the old bunkhouse at Red Mountain Ranch, his new next-door neighbor gets out the binoculars and determining he’s available, sends out an SOS to all the local single women.
Paul confirms Emily is the woman for him, to the disappointment of his admirers and disapproval of his family.
Can they find happiness with so much going against them?

Biography

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USA Today Bestselling Author Suzanne Jenkins writes page-turning contemporary romance, mystery, and women’s fiction with passionately gripping characters that stay with readers long after they turn the last page. The Detroit Detective Stories, beginning with The Greeks of Beaubien Street are truly American with a touch of fantasy. Award winning Pam of Babylon books consistently rank in the Top 100 Best Sellers in American Drama with over 500,000 downloads.

A retired operating room nurse, Jenkins lives in Southern California.

Visit https://suzannejenkins.com where you may subscribe to an email list and receive free stories and excerpts of soon to be released books and new releases.

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and follow her on Twitter; suzannejenkins3

My Review

Paul Saint loves his job as a firefighter for Station #20 though his family would be happier if he was closer to home instead of fighting grassland fires.

He jumps at the chance to move to a small cabin on Red Mountain Ranch and looks forward horseback riding around the countryside. There seems to be an abundance of single women in the area, but Paul’s attention is caught by the lovely school teacher, Emily Porter. Now, he just has to convince her that he’s the man for her!

This is an endearing story of two people who must overcome personal issues in order to give their love the chance it deserves.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 
bird riding

Crazy Hearts by Tara Janzen #BookReview #RomanticSuspense


DYLAN HART IS THE SPECIAL OPS BAD BOY WITH NO PAST.
THAT’S ABOUT TO CHANGE…

Dylan had shown up in Colorado as a teenager on the run for his life. He’d left his name behind, along with any record of his existence. He had no family, no friends, and no connection to anyone in the world except the men out to find him and kill him. The last place in the world he thought they would ever look was Denver, Colorado.

He’d been right.

THE CHOP-SHOP BOYS OF STEELE STREET

Within weeks of his arrival, he’d been scooped up by a crew of juvenile car thieves, and together they became legends on the streets of the Mile High City. Years later, they are the legends known as Special Defense Force, SDF, an elite team of soldiers tasked by the United States government to protect the country from threats both near and far.
But you can never leave your past behind, and Dylan’s day of reckoning has arrived. His long, lost past is headed straight at him at 100 miles per hour in a Porsche 718 Cayman – and there isn’t anybody who can stop it.

Biography

TARA JANZEN, New York Times bestselling author, is the creator of the acclaimed Steele Street series of romantic suspense novels about a hotshot crew of former juvenile delinquents and car thieves in Denver, Colorado who grow up to become one of the U.S.A.’s most elite black ops forces. The eleven book series begins with CRAZY HOT and CRAZY COOL and finishes up with LOOSE ENDS. One of the books is on AMAZON’S TOP TEN ROMANCE LIST – LOOSE AND EASY, 2008. Three of her books are on the Romantic Times ALL-TIME FAVORITES list – RIVER OF EDEN, CRAZY WILD, and SHAMELESS.

Writing as Glenna McReynolds, she is the author of thirteen Loveswept romances, an epic medieval romantic fantasy trilogy, THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE, DREAM STONE, and PRINCE OF TIME, and a contemporary romantic adventure set in the Amazon, RIVER OF EDEN. Tara loves doing research for her books, and her love of anthropology and the natural sciences has helped her create the landscapes of her novels, from the rich historical background of THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE trilogy, to the shores of the blackwater rivers flowing through the Amazon rain forest in RIVER OF EDEN.

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My Review

The Steel Street gang are back!

Dylan Hart’s past comes calling when a young man who could be a young doppelganger lands in hospital with a gunshot wound.

Dylan has always known his stepfather would never give up searching for him, but thought his tracks were covered. He’d changed his name, made a new life for himself, married the woman of his dreams, and ran a highly secretive government Special Defense Force, yet the ghosts of his past haunted him still.

Now a brother he hadn’t known existed is on his doorstep and trouble isn’t far behind.

It’s time to take care of business.

This series is on my reread shelf and I was stoked to see a new edition had come out! The chop shop boys were forged together as a group of teenage misfits. They’re deadly, loyal, sarcastic heroes that you won’t be able to resist.

I highly recommend this series. They easily read as standalones, but to get the best experience I’d suggest starting with book 1- Crazy Hot

The Girl in The Love Song by Emma Scott #BookReview #YARomance @EmmaS_Writes


Now a Top 100 Amazon Bestseller*At Santa Cruz Central High School, they called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys…

Miller Stratton is a survivor. After a harrowing childhood of poverty, he will do anything it takes to find security for himself and his mom. He’s putting all his hopes and dreams in the fragile frame of his guitar and the beauty he creates with its strings and his soulful voice.

Until Violet.

No one expects to meet the love of their life at age thirteen. But the spunky rich girl steals Miller’s heart and refuses to give it back.

Violet McNamara’s life hasn’t been as simple as it looks. Her picture-perfect family is not so perfect after all. Her best friend Miller is her one constant and she is determined not to ruin their friendship with romantic complications.

But the heart wants what it wants. As Miller’s star begins to rise to stratospheric heights, what will it take for Violet to realize that she’s the girl in all of his love songs?

Lost Boys is a new series of interconnected, coming-of-age standalones from USA Today bestselling author Emma Scott, coming in 2020

Biography

Emma Scott is a USA Today and Wall St. Journal bestselling author whose books have been translated in five languages and featured in Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After. She writes emotional, character-driven romances in which art and love intertwine to heal, and in which love always wins. If you enjoy emotionally-charged stories that rip your heart out and put it back together again, with diverse characters and kind-hearted heroes, you will enjoy her novels. Visit http://www.emmascottwrites.com

RECENT RELEASES

Someday, Someday (M/M standalone)

A Five-Minute Life (standalone)

Bring Down the Stars (Beautiful Hearts #1)

Long Live the Beautiful Hearts (Beautiful Hearts #2)

COMING SOON:
A new YA/NA series of interconnected standalones, coming in 2020

“At Santa Cruz Central High, we called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys.”

The Girl in the Love Song (Lost Boys #1) : http://bit.ly/2MLnYhU
The Shadows of Yesterday (Lost Boys #2) : http://bit.ly/37BsCHh
The Last Piece of his Heart (Lost Boys #3) : http://bit.ly/2QeVlfa

You can follow me at all the places…

Super-cute NON SPAMMY newsletter: http://bit.ly/2nTGLf6

Author page: https://www.facebook.com/EmmaScottwrites/

Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/906742879369651/

Attribution: Amazon.com

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My Review

Homeless after his father deserts their family, thirteen-year-old Millar Stratton doesn’t have much faith in anyone- until he meets Violet.

Violet lives a privileged life and has never known what it means to be poor, but that doesn’t stop her from reaching a hand out to help the grungy looking boy who appears on her doorstep.

Soon, an unbreakable bond grows between the two and when Millar is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes after a scary situation, Violet vows to watch over him.

A ball and chain of rules and diets and restrictions, needles and pills that I’d have to carry across a tightrope without a net, for the rest of my life.

The Girl in The Love Song- Emma Scott

High school is tough for the street kid, even though Millar and his mom now live in a dumpy two bedroom apartment. He’s watched Violet blossom throughout the years and it makes him proud, and jealous of every guy who tries to go out with her.

Violet doesn’t understand how she went from geek to popular kid, but it’s kind of nice to have fun her last year of high school before she starts the strenuous studies for med school. She just wishes Millar was by her side as more than a friend. Violet’s parents loved each other and now they constantly argue- cementing her fear of taking her and Millar’s relationship to the next level.

Millar is madly in love with Violet, but doesn’t dare step over the limits of their friendship for fear of pushing her away. Instead he opens his heart the only way he knows how- writing songs that allow him to pour out his feelings in the melodies.

Millar, together with a ragtag group of friends, learn that life’s lessons can knock you down, but love can change the outcome.

This book had me in tears a couple of times. It puts a spotlight on T1D (Type 1 Diabetes) and the life-threatening complications associated with this disease. My grandson was diagnosed five years ago. He’s now thirteen (like Millar) and has faced many of the symptoms described. It is my hope and prayer that one day soon a cure will be found.

Until then, I am grateful amazing writers like Emma Scott can use their platforms to shed a light on illnesses, racial diversity, sexual discrimination, and homelessness.

We need to do more to change our world.

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon #BookReview #Historical #TimeTravel @aharmon_author


An Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller.

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?

Biography

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Her books have been published in eighteen languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Utah.
Amy Harmon has written thirteen novels, including the USA Today Bestsellers, The Smallest Part, Making Faces, and Running Barefoot, and the #1 Amazon bestselling historical, From Sand and Ash. Her novel, A Different Blue, is a New York Times Bestseller. Her USA Today bestselling fantasy, The Bird and the Sword, was a Goodreads Best Book of 2016 finalist. For updates on upcoming book releases, author posts and more, join Amy at http://www.authoramyharmon.com.

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Book Review

Raised by a loving grandfather, Anne Gallagher is heartbroken at his death. She follows his last wishes and takes his ashes home to Ireland to spread them on the lough near the home where he’d grown up.

The moment she lands, Anne is overcome by a sense of history and tries to find out more about her grandfather’s life as a child. She has a few photos of her mother, father, and their best friend, Dr. Thomas Smith.

After visiting the graves of past members of her family, Anne rents a boat and heads out on the lough, only to get lost in a sudden fog. Frightened, she calls for help and gets shot by a stranger in a trawler.

When Anne awakens, it is to find herself in the care of a man who looks exactly like the Thomas Smith from her photos and it soon becomes clear that nothing is as it should be.

They can’t forget, they never will, the wind and waves remember Him still.

“Thomas?”

I’d called to him before. I’d screamed his name across the water until I was hoarse and hopeless. But I called to him again. “Thomas?” His name hung precariously in the air, weighty and wishful, before it teetered and fell, sinking like a stone beneath the surface. The lough whispered back with liquid lips, slow and sighing. Tho-mas, Tho-mas, Tho-mas.

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

This story shines a light on the Easter Rising, a massacre that took place in 1916 and changed Ireland forever.

“I’ve been reading about Ireland—biographies and documentaries and collections and diaries. I’ve been doing research for six months. I have so much information in my head, and I don’t know what to do with it. The history after the 1916 Easter Rising is just a garbled mess of opinions and blame. There’s no consensus.” Eoin laughed, but the sound was brittle and mirthless. “That, my love, is Ireland.”

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

While the rebellion is a key part of the book, so to is the growing romance between Thomas and Anne- a forbidden love.

Anne is from the future. How can she stay in her mother’s time period, even though it gives her the opportunity to live with her grandfather when he was a child, and Thomas?

When she makes the decision to risk all, outside forces step in to separate her from the life she truly wants.

I can’t imagine all men love their women the way I love Anne. If they did, the streets would be empty, and the fields would grow fallow. Industry would rumble to a halt and markets would tumble as men bowed at the feet of their wives, unable to need or notice anything but her.

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

I didn’t know much about Ireland’s turbulent history. What I learned is that Irish people are proud of their culture and their land. They are passionate of what they believe in and won’t give up- no matter the odds.

What the Wind Knows is a sweeping saga of love and history that proves where there is hope, there is a chance.

#TuesdayBookReview and Anniversary News This Last Chance by D.L. Finn #Supernatural #Suspense @dlfinnauthor


Six months after Amber’s sister is brutally murdered, she’s still looking for answers, and now someone is stalking her and no one believes her. Home alone with a powerful snowstorm approaching, Amber is determined to take control of the investigation by hiring a private detective, but her plans are disrupted when she finds herself snowed in with people she may not be able to trust. Meanwhile, Nester the evildwel, whose entire existence has been feeding on fear and pain, is seeking help from the angel who’s protecting Amber. Nester and Amber need answers. Can Amber figure out what’s going on with some subtle help from an angel? Will Nester find what he needs from his enemies? The worlds of good and evil clash, and the outcome will determine not only Amber’s and Nester’s fate but life as they know it.

Biography

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

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My Review

Heartsick Amber mourns the loss of her murdered sister and is frustrated with the lack of help from the local police force. Her mother seeks to forget in the bottom of a bottle and is no support for her daughter. Desperate, Amber turns to a private investigator for help.

Meanwhile, a war between good and evil is being waged between a society of evildwels and angels. There is a surprising plot at play that I wasn’t expecting in this suspenseful tale with evildwel Nester.

After spending generations killing and stealing souls, Nester feels a change come over him and seeks help from the angel tasked with watching over Amber.

A blizzard locks Amber at home with a group of suspicious people- one of which could be her sister’s killer. Will she survive long enough to find out the truth, and will Nester be able to stop the evildwels from taking over the world?

This story kept me guessing until the very end and hoping for Nester to overcome his dark side!

Favorite Line

“You need to move on, Amber.” That line had assaulted her ears like an eager beginner’s drum solo. She was surprised that her eardrums hadn’t burst with good intentions.

This Last Chance- D.L. Finn

This is an unexpected murder mystery with supernatural elements that add an extra layer of tension to an already suspenseful story.

Well worth the read!

It’s My Anniversary!

Thirty-six years ago this guy said, “I do” in front of God and everybody. He’s my best friend, my lover, the father of my child and grandfather to our grandson. He’s supported our family the best way he knew how, and has been my rock when life knocked me down.

We met on his eighteenth birthday and have been together almost every day since. When I am upset, he makes me laugh. When I’m frustrated, he calms me. When I’m lost, he guides me,

I will be forever grateful for the stroke of fate that brought us together- my soul mate.

Where the Lost Wander by @AmyHarmon #Historical #BookReview @aharmon_author


In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

Attribution- Amazon

Biography
Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Her books have been published in eighteen languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Utah.
Amy Harmon has written thirteen novels, including the USA Today Bestsellers, The Smallest Part, Making Faces, and Running Barefoot, and the #1 Amazon bestselling historical, From Sand and Ash. Her novel, A Different Blue, is a New York Times Bestseller. Her USA Today bestselling fantasy, The Bird and the Sword, was a Goodreads Best Book of 2016 finalist. For updates on upcoming book releases, author posts and more, join Amy at http://www.authoramyharmon.com.
Photo by Zetong Li on Pexels.com

My Review

Seeking a better life, widow Naomi May joins a wagon train with her family heading across the country to California. She knows it will be a tough journey but faces it with enthusiasm and a touch of trepidation.

When John Lowry agrees to help his uncle guide a wagon train as far as a fort where he is to deliver his father’s mules, he doesn’t expect to be instantly attracted to the beautiful Naomi. But their relationship is doomed to fail. He is half Pawnee, a man straddling two worlds. She is everything he wants but cannot have.

The trail is a hard taskmaster. Soon, the wagon train is faced with challenges they could never have imagined; hostile territories, lack of drinking water, dangerous river crossings, dysentery, and racial prejudice.

It’s been a long time since I was so caught up in a story. The author does a wonderful job drawing the reader into the hearts and heads of our two protagonists, John Lowry and Naomi May. We get real insights into the pride of indigenous people, the clash of two cultures, and those caught in the middle.

Favorite Lines

That’s what hope feels like: the best air you’ve ever breathed after the worst fall you’ve ever taken. It hurts.

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

This kiss is slow and languid like the Platte, hardly moving, while beneath the surface the silt shifts and settles. His arms snake around me, and my palms flatten over his heart, needing and kneading, and heat grows in my belly and in my heart and where our mouths are moving together.

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

…eventually, time thinks for us. It cuts through the fog of emotion and delivers a big bowl of reality, and feelings don’t stand a chance,” John says with bleak finality.

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

Where the Lost Wander is a sweeping saga of a love that knows no bounds and defies a nation at war. It’s real. It’s brutal. It’s unforgettable.

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#BookReview- Arsenic in The Azaleas by @DaleMayer #CozyMystery


A new cozy mystery series from USA Today best-selling author Dale Mayer. Follow gardener and amateur sleuth Doreen Montgomery—and her amusing and mostly lovable cat, dog, and parrot—as they catch murderers and solve crimes in lovely Kelowna, British Columbia.

Riches to rags. … Controlling to chaos. … But murder … seriously?

After her ex-husband leaves her high and dry, former socialite Doreen Montgomery’s chance at a new life comes in the form of her grandmother, Nan’s, dilapidated old house in picturesque Kelowna … and the added job of caring for the animals Nan couldn’t take into assisted living with her: Thaddeus, the loquacious African gray parrot with a ripe vocabulary, and his buddy, Goliath, a monster-size cat with an equally monstrous attitude.

It’s the new start Doreen and her beloved basset hound, Mugs, desperately need. But, just as things start to look up for Doreen, Goliath the cat and Mugs the dog find a human finger in Nan’s overrun garden.

And not just a finger. Once the police start digging, the rest of the body turns up and turns out to be connected to an old unsolved crime.

With her grandmother as the prime suspect, Doreen soon finds herself stumbling over clues and getting on Corporal Mack Moreau’s last nerve, as she does her best to prove her beloved Nan innocent of murder.

Attribution- Amazon.com

Biography

Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).

She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!

To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.

To find out more about Dale and her books, visit her at http://www.dalemayer.com. Or connect with her online with Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dalemayer and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dalemayer.author. If you like Dale Mayer’s books and are interested in joining her street team, sign up here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/402384989872660/

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My Review

When Doreen’s ex-husband cheats on her with the divorce lawyer and leaves her with nothing, Doreen is forced to accept her grandmother’s charity.

Nan has moved into a senior’s complex and gifts Doreen a ramshackle cottage, a talkative parrot, an oversized cat, and a dead body.

Doreen’s first day is adventurous, to say the least, and only gets more interesting when the handsome, irritating Corporal Mack Moreau arrives on scene.

More clues lead to an unsolved murder and another body and Doreen thought she was moving to a boring little town!

Doreen and her parade of pets made this a fun read. Nan is a person of interest in the investigation and though Mack has warned Doreen to stay out of it, she can’t resist trying to solve the murders which leads to some interesting hijinx.

The list of suspects grows by the moment, and kept me guessing to the very end. This is a fun start to the Lovely Lethal Gardens series!

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Christmas in July- #FreeReads #Romance


I’m Celebrating Christmas in July! I almost forgot to share this, but my holiday novella, Mistletoe Inn, is available for #Free today! Mistletoe Inn International link: http://books2read.com/MistletoeInn TBR List- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42204464-mistletoe-inn BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/mistletoe-inn-by-jacquie-biggar A grieving man finds the greatest gift is love in this heartwarming holiday romance. Molly McCarty is in need of a new beginning after… Continue reading →

Sunday Lines: In Times of Trouble


Originally posted on Word by Word:
Here are a few encouraging #SundayLines provided by our #WordbyWord authors with the theme IN TIMES OF TROUBLE Interested in learning more? Click on the pictures below to gain more insight about each author. Find solace in a good book. Vicki Batman At the end of every day, write…

Tips To Succeed On a Video Interview


Originally posted on Story Empire:
Hello, SEers. As you can see, today we are going to talk about the best foot forward position should you get the opportunity to do a video interview or presentation on YouTube or elsewhere. Before getting into the tips, let’s set the stage. You are launching a new book, and…

#BookReview- The Little Bookshop of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans #Romance @be-the-spark


Today is the Mondayest Monday ever. Hallie Winstone has been fired – and it wasn’t even her fault!

Having lost her job and humiliated herself in front of a whole restaurant full of diners, this is absolutely, one hundred percent, the worst day of her life.
 
That is until she receives an email announcing that she is the lucky winner of the Once Upon a Page Bookshop!
 
Owning a bookshop has always been Hallie’s dream, and when she starts to find secret love letters on the first page of every book, she knows she’s stumbled across something special.

But Hallie’s beloved bookshop is in financial trouble, and with sales dwindling, she can’t help but wonder if she is really cut out to run a business.

Things start to look up when she meets gorgeous, bookish Dimitri and between them, they post a few of the hidden messages online, reuniting people who thought they were lost forever.
 
But maybe it’s time for Hallie to find her own happy-ever-after, too?

Attribution- Amazon.com

Biography

Jaimie is a 32-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.
She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She has been writing for years but has only just plucked up the courage to tell people.
She is the author of chick-lit romantic comedies Kismetology and The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, and young adult romantic comedies Afterlife Academy, Not Pretty Enough, and North Pole Reform School.

Find out more on http://www.jaimieadmans.com or find me on Twitter @be_the_spark

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My Review

Bad luck follows Hallie Winstone like a dark cloud, so she is understandably amazed to find herself the winner of a quaint old bookstore.

Reading has always been Hallie’s comfort and she’s dreamed of owning her own store one day- but she didn’t realize how much work it would be to reorganize the old shop. Good thing it comes with a flat upstairs because the store is taking over her life. Financial concerns makes her wonder if she’s jumped from the frying pan to the fire, but a handsome, quirky artist convinces Hallie not to give up.

With Dimitri’s help, Hallie begins to get a handle on the business and excitement blooms when they find books with inscriptions inside their worn covers. The romantic in Hallie wants to bring the people in the messages together, so she and Dimitri hatch a plan to advertise the notes online and the results are more than either of them expected.

This is a sweet, charming rom-com with an underlying message of trust that I found refreshing. Klutzy Dimitri and hapless Hallie make a great couple. And who wouldn’t love to find romance in a bookshop!

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

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Recent Posts

Garden #Perspectives- #SundayStills


This week’s Sunday Stills challenge is all about perspectives as chosen by Terri Webster Schrandt. You can see her photos and join the challenge here. I’ve squared all the photos for my entry for Becky’s for July Square Perspectives challenge. We’re spending most of our day out in the garden, so I thought I’d share some of… Continue reading →

#BookReview- Virtually Dead by Edwin Dasso #Suspense @DassoEdwin


From critically acclaimed bestselling crime writer, Edwin Dasso, comes a gripping techno-thriller, part of a multi-author series tied together by an interlocking cast of characters, all centered around the fantastic new promise of high technology and the endless possibilities for crime that technology offers, in a world where getting away with murder can be not only plausible, but easy…if you just know how.

A young rising-star ad executive, Michael Saleen, in Vancouver dies unexpectedly. The police think it’s just another “routine” auto accident, in spite of some odd findings. The executive’s wife feels otherwise. A friend of hers knows Wes Watley, an ex-Army CID officer and FBI SAC who has now started a private security company, if he’d be willing to investigate the death. Though Wes’ company normally focuses on national security and antiterrorism cases, his friend compels him to take on the case of Saleen’s death. Wes thinks it will be a quick, open-and-close case. Wes is joined by his tech-whiz partner, Cameron, and they soon discover more and more oddities about the case. As they dig further, they uncover something far more extensive and dire than just the unexpected death of Michael Saleen. Uncovering the whole truth is going to stretch their crime-solving abilities and force them to use technology in new ways.

★★★★★ “I can’t wait to read more books by this author = unbelievable imagination and talent!”

Scroll up and grab Virtually Dead today!

Biography

Edwin Dasso, MD, a USA Today and Amazon International #1 Best-Selling medical thriller author, writes works of fiction that leverage many of his “stranger than fiction” experiences from years of practice at major medical centers and community hospitals.

“You might be shocked at some of the events in the books that are based on an actual experience.”

Member of the International Thriller Writers.

His “Jack Bass Black Cloud Chronicles” series has been developed into a TV series, “Jack Bass, MD,” (https://www.facebook.com/jackbassmd/?ref=bookmarks) which is actively being discussed around Hollywood. Network feedback has been very positive.

Fiction writing is reviving a lost love from earlier periods in his life where he enjoyed writing short stories. In addition to a number of years as a practicing anesthesiologist and critical care specialist, he has published articles in national healthcare journals, written many “Ask the Doctor” columns and has spoken frequently at national healthcare forums. He has also been instrumental in designing and deploying population health programs to help people deal with depression related to poor health.

Ed can be contacted at jackblackcloud2@hotmail.com or reach him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlackCloudChronicles/).

Photo by Ognjen Karabegović on Pexels.com

My Review

When private security expert Wes Watley is asked to investigate a case for a friend, he doesn’t expect to be thrown into the confusing world of virtual gaming technology and murder.

An ad executive takes a sudden plunge off a cliff and the only clue is strange goggle-like markings on his face. Wes and his techy partner, Cameron, delve into the possibilities with little results until investigative reporter Julie Crenshaw gets involved and the stakes are raised.

This book delves into the latest in high-tech crime and the process used to track down a cold, ruthless killer.

Favorite Line

He soon spotted the yellow crime scene tape, a cold breeze making it flitter like a bird trying to escape to a better place.

Dasso, Edwin. Virtually Dead (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 4)

I was fascinated by the research that went into writing this technical suspense filled with enough twists and turns to keep any mystery lover happy.

This is part of an eight book series written by different authors of high-tech crime thrillers with interconnecting characters and I look forward to reading more!

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#BookReview- If You Must Know by Jamie Beck #WomensFic @writerjamiebeck


Life turns upside down for two sisters in Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jamie Beck’s emotional novel about how secrets and differences can break—or bind—a family.

Sisters Amanda Foster and Erin Turner have little in common except the childhood bedroom they once shared and the certainty each feels that her way of life is best. Amanda follows the rules—at the school where she works; in her community; and as a picture-perfect daughter, wife, and mother-to-be. Erin follows her heart—in love and otherwise—living a bohemian lifestyle on a shoestring budget and honoring her late father’s memory with a passion for music and her fledgling bath-products business.

The sisters are content leading separate but happy lives in their hometown of Potomac Point until everything is upended by lies that force them to confront unsettling truths about their family, themselves, and each other. For sisters as different as these two, building trust doesn’t come easily—especially with one secret still between them—but it may be the only way to save their family.

Biography

Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than two million copies. She is a two-time Booksellers’ Best Award finalist, a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, and critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

Fans can learn more about her on the web (www.jamiebeck.com), which includes a fun extras page with photos, videos, and playlists. She also loves interacting with everyone on Facebook (www.facebook.com/JamieBeckBooks). For monthly fun tips, birthday sweepstakes and other exclusive content, join my newsletter at http://bit.ly/1V0d7Qi. NO SPAM–EVER. For updates on discounts, follow me on BookBub at http://bit.ly/2GBcLM3.

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My Review

Pregnant, in love with her handsome husband and owner of her dream home, Amanda Foster believes she has the world by the tail- that is until he disappears on a so-called business trip, taking her mother’s life savings with him. And then she learns of his affair.

Erin Foster puts out a confident, take-no-crap attitude, but in reality she deeply mourns the loss of her father and the emotional distance between herself and the rest of her family. A messy breakup convinces her it’s time to make some changes in her life.

When Erin and Amanda’s mother has a series of accidents caused by stress, the sisters pull together to watch over her, get back the stolen money, and see that justice is served.

This is a well written story on family dynamics. Sometimes, life knocks us down, as Amanda learned, and the family we take for granted are the only ones we can truly count on to have our backs.

The characters are multi-dimensional and though the plotline went a little over the top, it was believable because of their reactions.

An enjoyable read!

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

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#BookReview- Never Look Back by Mary Burton #CrimeFiction


Expect the unexpected in this gritty, tense, and page-turning mystery from New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton.

After multiple women go missing, Agent Melina Shepard of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation makes the impulsive decision to go undercover as a prostitute. While working the street, she narrowly avoids becoming a serial killer’s latest victim; as much as it pains her to admit, she needs backup.

Enter lone wolf FBI agent Jerrod Ramsey. Stonewalled by a lack of leads, he and Melina investigate a scene where a little girl has been found abandoned in a crashed vehicle. They open the trunk to reveal a horror show and quickly realize they’re dealing with two serial killers with very different MOs. The whole situation brings back memories for Melina—why does this particular case feel so connected to her painful past?

Before time runs out, Melina must catch not one but two serial killers, both ready to claim another victim—and both with their sights set on her.

Biography

Mary Burton loves writing suspense, researching law enforcement and forensic procedures, morning walks, baking, books, and tiny dachshunds. She also enjoys hunting down serial killers, which she does in her New York Times and USA Today bestselling novels of suspense and romance. Library Journal has compared her work to that of Lisa Jackson and Lisa Gardner, and Fresh Fiction likened her writing to that of James Patterson.

Mary is routinely featured among the top twenty writers in Amazon’s Author Rankings for romantic suspense, and her recent novel The Last Move claimed the number ten fiction slot in the Kindle eBooks Store.

Research is a favorite part of Mary’s day. She never tires of learning more about police work, evidence collection and analysis. She’s known for taking a hands-on approach, whether it means interviews with professionals in the field, forensic seminars or lessons at the firing range.

A Richmond native, Mary has lived there for most of her life. She is a graduate of Virginia’s Hollins University and worked in marketing before she began writing full time. Her first book was published in 2000 and she’s now the author of thirty-four published novels, five novellas and four works of contemporary women’s fiction written as Mary Ellen Taylor.

A member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Novelists, Inc., and Romance Writers of America, Mary is known for creating multiple suspense stories connected by characters, such as her recent The Forgotten Files novels. Her new book, Her Last Word, and The Last Move, break that mold.

When not traveling for research or visiting with readers at bookstores, book festivals and conferences, Mary remains very much a homebody. She and her husband spend time alternately enjoying and lamenting their empty nest and spoiling their four-legged babies Buddy, Bella and Tiki.

Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

My Review

When several women go missing in Nashville, TBI Agent Melina Shepard heads undercover and almost becomes a victim of a sadistic killer.

Career FBI Agent Jerrod Ramsey is on a fast track to DC and the latest serial killer case he’s assigned could be his ticket, but too many things about the investigation don’t add up- and an attraction to his temporary partner, the beautiful Melina Shepard, doesn’t help.

Soon, the two find themselves up against not one, but two vicious predators. What is the connection, and what does it have to do with Melina’s past?

This story had so many converging plotlines, it was hard to keep track. I’d hate to be the investigator chasing after either one of these creeps!

While well-written, I had a hard time connecting with Melina. It starts out with her going undercover as a prostitute to gain the other girls’ trust and hopefully find out information on two missing women. Within moments, a john appears in a white van and propositions our heroine, but she senses something and refuses- good thing, too, as he tries to grab her and she gets an eyeful of an elaborate torture chamber in the back of the van.

Furious, and injured, he drives away vowing revenge and you’d think that would be the premise for the story, right? Wrong. From then on, van guy barely makes an appearance until the last few pages of the book.

Instead, we focus on Melina’s past and how it affects another killer on the loose in her fair city.

I think the author would have done better to turn this into two novels in order to do justice to the individual storylines. The way it is, details are left out and the ending is rushed and dissatisfying.

On that note, I thought the plot was suspenseful and unique enough to keep my interest. I would read more from this author.

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

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#BookReview- Forever Right Now by @EmmaS-Writes #Romance


***STANDALONE new adult romance from the author of The Butterfly Project and the Full Tilt Duet***

Darlene Montgomery has been to hell and back…more than once. After a stint in jail for drug possession, she is finally clean and ready to start over. Yet another failed relationship is just the motivation she needs to move from New York to San Francisco with the hopes of resurrecting her dance career and discovering that she is more than the sum of her rap sheet. As Darlene struggles in her new city, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with her handsome—but cranky—neighbor and his adorable little girl…

Sawyer Haas is weeks away from finishing law school, but exhaustion, dwindling finances, and the pressure to provide for himself and his daughter, Olivia, are wearing him down. A federal clerkship–a job he desperately needs–awaits him after graduation, but only if he passes the Bar Exam. Sawyer doesn’t have the time or patience for the capricious—if beautiful—dancer who moves into the apartment above his. But Darlene’s easy laugh and cheerful spirit seep into the cracks of his hardened heart, and slowly break down the walls he’s resurrected to keep from being betrayed ever again.

When the parents of Olivia’s absentee mother come to fight for custody, Sawyer could lose everything. To have any chance at happiness, he must trust Darlene, the woman who has somehow found her way past his brittle barbs, and Darlene must decide how much of her own bruised heart she is willing to give to Sawyer and Olivia, especially when the ghosts of her troubled past refuse to stay buried.

Biography

Emma Scott is a USA Today and Wall St. Journal bestselling author whose books have been translated in five languages and featured in Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After. She writes emotional, character-driven romances in which art and love intertwine to heal, and in which love always wins. If you enjoy emotionally-charged stories that rip your heart out and put it back together again, with diverse characters and kind-hearted heroes, you will enjoy her novels. Visit http://www.emmascottwrites.com

RECENT RELEASES

Someday, Someday (M/M standalone)

A Five-Minute Life (standalone)

Bring Down the Stars (Beautiful Hearts #1)

Long Live the Beautiful Hearts (Beautiful Hearts #2)

COMING SOON:
A new YA/NA series of interconnected standalones, coming in 2020

“At Santa Cruz Central High, we called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys.”

The Girl in the Love Song (Lost Boys #1) : http://bit.ly/2MLnYhU
The Shadows of Yesterday (Lost Boys #2) : http://bit.ly/37BsCHh
The Last Piece of his Heart (Lost Boys #3) : http://bit.ly/2QeVlfa

You can follow me at all the places…

Super-cute NON SPAMMY newsletter: http://bit.ly/2nTGLf6

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Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/906742879369651/

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My Review

Darlene Montgomery moves from New York to San Francisco in search of a fresh start on her messed up life. She knows what rock bottom feels like and is determined never to go there again.

Sawyer Haas dreamed of becoming a prosecuting attorney ever since he was eight and lost his mother to a drunk driver. He’s close, so close when a woman shows up at his door with a baby and news that he’s a father. As if that’s not crazy enough, she runs away and leaves him holding the diaper bag. But one look at Olivia’s sweet face and he’s a goner. Now he just has to figure out how to study for the bar, care for his tiny daughter, and wait out the year until his name can go onto her birth certificate making her officially his baby girl- no pressure.

Darlene finds a loft apartment in an old victorian and is immediately drawn to the taciturn man on the second floor and his adorable little girl. She knows she’s supposed to be working on getting herself healthy, but Sawyer calls to her on an elemental level. He needs her help, whether he wants to admit it or not, and her nurturing heart is falling hard.

This is a wonderful story about overcoming life’s storms and finding the rainbow at the other side.

I love all of Emma Scott’s books and highly recommend them- she’s an incredible, emotional writer that knows how to draw on a reader’s emotions in all the best ways.

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#TuesdayBookReview- The Quest For Home by Jacqui Murray #PrehistoricSuspense @WordDreams


Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

“Bravo Jacqui! A fine read and meticulous research.” — Sue Harrison, author of the acclaimed Ivory Carver Trilogy,

Xhosa flees what she had hoped would be her new home after being attacked by invaders from the North. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands of what we now call Europe. As she struggles to overcome strangers around her and disruptions within her People, Xhosa faces the reality that her most dangerous enemy may not be the one she expected. It may be one she has trusted with her life.

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate any who came before.

Based on a true story, this is an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man spreads across Eurasia. Xhosa must regularly does the impossible which is good because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.

Biography

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, and a contributor to NEA Today. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days here on Amazon Kindle. Also, read her new series, Man vs. Nature, starting with Born in a Treacherous Time–also on Kindle.

Photo by Harry Cunningham @harry.digital on Pexels.com

My Review

Xhosa continues her journey leading The People to a new homeland against impossible odds. She must survive cold, heat, lack of water and food, as well as those who wish to destroy her People. Other tribes try to stop them, but they aren’t the only danger- someone in her tribe has become the enemy, and it is up to Xhosa to stop him before another member dies.

This is a fast-paced novel filled with interesting characters and descriptions that place the reader smack in the paleolithic time period where the basic fight for survival supersedes almost everything else.

I was especially drawn to the relationships such an existence forged between Xhosa, her People, and the strays she gathers along the way. One of the standouts is leader Pan-do and his love for daughter Lyta. His is the voice of calm and reason while Lyta- the dreamer- is adored by the tribe even though she has a deformity that normally means death for children who must contribute to the tribe or be left behind.

Another favorite is Zvi, a female Other who towers over most males, is strong as a mammoth, and has a heart of gold.

This story may be set in prehistoric times, but it touches on subjects that are just as relevant today; sexual abuse, family values, love and betrayal.

This series is well worth the read!

keeping calm during armageddon

#TuesdayBookReview- What You Wish For by @KatherineCenter #WomensFic


“The story’s message, that people should choose joy even (and especially) in difficult and painful times, seems tailor-made for this moment. A timely, uplifting read about finding joy in the midst of tragedy, filled with quirky characters and comforting warmth.”—Kirkus (starred review)

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel full of heart and hope.

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.
But she wasn’t always that way.
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.
But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before—at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him—but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school—and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love—which is the riskiest move of all.

With Katherine Center’s sparkling dialogue, unforgettable characters, heart, hope, and humanity, What You Wish For is the author at her most compelling best.

Biography

Katherine Center is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away and the upcoming Things You Save in a Fire (August 2019), as well as five other bittersweet comic novels. She writes about how we fall down—and how we get back up. Six Foot Pictures is currently adapting her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, into a feature film starring Josh Duhamel and Leslie Bibb. Katherine has been compared to both Nora Ephron and Jane Austen, and the Dallas Morning News calls her stories, “satisfying in the most soul-nourishing way.” Katherine recently gave a TEDx talk on how stories teach us empathy, and her work has appeared in USA Today, InStyle, Redbook, People, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Real Simple, Southern Living, and InTouch, among others. Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her fun husband, two sweet kids, and fluffy-but-fierce dog.

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Sam Cassidy loves her job as librarian in the cute and eccentric elementary school she ran to after falling for a fellow teacher at her previous school. The staff are the best and Principal Max and his wife, Babette, accepted her like a daughter.

Then Max died and everything changed.

Babette’s neurotic son-in-law becomes head of the board and immediately appoints a new principal about as different from Max as it was possible to be- oh, yeah, he’s also the man Sam had fallen for in her previous life.

But this Duncan Carpenter wasn’t anything like the funny, sweet guy she remembered. This Duncan Carpenter wanted to bleed every drop of personality out of their precious school. He installed security gates, locks, metal detectors, and painted over their bright colorful artwork, turning their whole world gray.

He had to go.

Then Sam learned Duncan’s deepest, darkest secret and suddenly getting rid of him became so much harder to do.

This is my first book by this author and I am so glad I picked it up! Filled with insightful, heart-wrenching moments it will live on in your thoughts for a long time after turning the last page. I will definitely be reading more from Katherine Center.

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

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#BookReview- Survival of The Fittest by Jacqui Murray Songs of Heartstrings by Miriam Hurdle #amreading @WordDreams @MHurdle112


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Prehistoric fiction and poetry to start out the week

I’m a big fan of Jacqui Murray’s prehistoric fiction series and couldn’t wait to dive into Survival of The Fittest!

Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, Survival of the Fittest is an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion.

Chased by a ruthless enemy, Xhosa leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands following a path laid out decades before by her father, to be followed only as a last resort. She is joined by other fleeing tribes from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant, all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, tragedy, secrets, and Nature itself, Xhosa is forced to face the reality that her enemy doesn’t want to ruin her People. It wants to ruin her.

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia, where ‘survival of the fittest’ was not a slogan. It was a destiny. Xhosa’s People were from a violent species, one fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened their lives except for one: future man, a smarter version of themselves, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

Biography

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, and a contributor to NEA Today. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days here on Amazon Kindle. Also, read her new series, Man vs. Nature, starting with Born in a Treacherous Time–also on Kindle.

My Review

After Xhosa’s father dies, she must prove her value as leader of The People. Chased from their homeland, they must undertake a perilous journey through treacherous lands and savage tribes.

“Does anyone challenge this warrior?”

Her hands were neutral, giving nothing away about her feelings. When Xhosa rose, like mist from wet hot-season grass, everyone snickered except the Primary Female. A wisp of a smile touched her lips.

“I too am prepared. Nightshade, I challenge you.”

Murray, Jacqui. Survival of the Fittest (the Crossroads Trilogy Book 1)

Along the way, they befriend Others making the same journey, each with unique talents that benefit the tribe and more than once saves them from certain death.

This book was so well-written I was sorry to turn the last page (cliffhanger alert!) and had to buy the next story in the series, The Quest for Home, to find out what happens to Xhosa, Nightshade, Pan-do, Zvi and all the rest of the characters I’ve become invested in- well done!


Next is a wonderful book of poetry from Miriam Hurdle

Human being has the will power to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.

Songs of Heartstrings plays the melancholy tune of the suffering and transcending to the melody of serenity and peace. It is a road traveled with optimism, hope and appreciation amid heartache circumstances and an unpredictable cancer. It also celebrates true love and fulfilling relationships.

Hurdle in her poetry collection includes nine themes: Songs of Nature, Songs of Dissonance, Songs of Physical Healing, Songs of Marriage, Songs of Parenthood, Songs of Tribute, Songs of Reflections, Songs of Challenge, and Songs of Inspiration. Each of these themes covers various aspects of her life experience. Many poems are illustrated with her photos and watercolor paintings.

The poems in this collection are inspiring to the mind, heart and spirit. The readers will echo with these experiences.

Biography

Miriam Hurdle is multi-genre writer. She writes poetry, flash fiction, short stories and memoir. Her poems are included in Letters to Gaia, Whispers and Echoes Issue 2, Whispers and Echoes Issue 3, and Outcast and More Words.

She is passionate about poetry and her favorite poets are Robert Frost with his poems “The Road Not Taken,” and Linda Pastan with her poem “To a Daughter Leaving Home.”

Music has rooted in her life. Being a soloist as a teenager led her to taking voice lessons and to have ongoing singing engagements. She continues to sing soprano in choral groups. Lyrics have a major influence in the natural flow of her melodic writing. She writes memoir in the form of poetry.

She took photos when the films were black and white. Photography is still her enjoyable hobby. Drawing and painting were fun activities as a child. Her favorite was to draw a Japanese girl with big eyes, long hair, small lips and chin. She resumed drawing and watercolor painting several years ago. In her poetry collection, photos and paintings are included to illustrate the poems.

She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California. She makes frequent visits to her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in Oregon.

For more information about Miriam, please visit http://www.theshowersofblessings.com

My Review

This is an intimate portrayal of first love, betrayal, a health crisis, and second chances all couched in beautiful, inspiring words from the heart.

A couple of my favorites

Dawn

Bright sun

Fresh air

Soft breeze

Sweet rose

Close my eyes

Feel the warmth

Breathe the mist

Sense the brush

Smell the scent

Close my eyes

Think on Thee

Hurdle, Miriam. Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

From Healing

The healing of the wound didn’t come from

the source of the anguish, but came from letting go of

the act and the actor.

Hurdle, Miriam. Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

While vastly different, both of these books have one thing in common- Survival.

I urge you to give them a try, you won’t regret it!

#BookReview- Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese #YARomance


Ryder

Ever since she sat next to me in class and gave me death eyes, Willa Sutter’s been on my shit list. Why she hates me, I don’t know. What I do know is that Willa is the kind of chaos I don’t need in my tidy life.

She’s the next generation of women’s soccer.

Wild hair, wilder eyes.

Bee-stung lips that should be illegal.

And a temper that makes the devil seem friendly.

She’s a thorn in my side, a menacing, cantankerous, pain-in-the-ass who’s turned our Business Mathematics course into a goddamn gladiator arena. I’ll leave this war zone unscathed, coming out on top…And if I have my way with that crazy-haired, ball-busting hellion, that will be in more than one sense of the word. 

Willa

Rather than give me the lecture notes I missed like every other instructor I’ve had, my asshole professor tells me to get them from the silent, surly flannel-wearing mountain man sitting next to me in class. Well, I tried. And what did I get from Ryder Bergman? Ignored. 

What a complete lumbersexual neanderthal.

Mangy beard and mangier hair.

Frayed ball cap that hides his eyes.

And a stubborn refusal to acknowledge my existence.

I’ve battled men before, but with Ryder, it’s war. I’ll get those notes and crack that Sasquatch nut if it’s the last thing I do, then I’ll have him at my mercy. Victory will have never tasted so sweet.

Biography

Chloe writes stories that, like people, resist categories. Portraying marginalized, underrepresented voices and experiences, her books are hot, witty, full of heart and keep you on the edge of your seat. She’s an avid reader, Harry Potter lover, and eats more peanut butter cups than she probably should.

Photo by Zack Melhus on Pexels.com

My Review

College soccer star Willa Sutter is juggling her career, school, and her sick mother. The last thing she needs is to get paired up with a rude, obnoxious, incredibly cute lumberjack in order to pass her business course.

Ryder Bergman is coping (barely) with his loss of hearing and a promising soccer career. All he wants is to be left alone. Unfortunately, his professor- and brother-in-law- is determined to draw him out of his shell. His latest plan? Assigning a fiesty, cantankerous firecracker of a woman as Ryder’s partner.

The war is on.

This is a funny, sentimental, heartwarming story with so many different elements. The relationship between Willa and her dying mother will bring tears to your eyes.Then there’s Ryder, who developed bacterial meningitis in high school and had his entire world turned upside down.

I love how the author brought humor together with these serious real-life problems and created an unforgettable story. I will definitely be watching for more from the Bergman brothers!

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#TuesdayBookReviews- Two For the Road #amreading


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This week I have two completely different stories to share. I love how books can connect with readers in unexpected ways 🙂

They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model.
This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human! Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment.
–Tami Beall
(Principal, Pine Hill School)

My Review

Teachers are often under-appreciated. Without their dedication, patience, and caring where would we be?

This is an inspiring memoir on one man’s thirty year journey as an elementary teacher and all the challenges and joys he found along the way.

There is much more to teaching than relaying a set curriculum. Many times, teachers are faced with children who are in tough situations, lashing out, bullying, depression (yes, even in elementary). They must navigate a minefield of emotional stress and still manage to portray calm and stability.

This book is filled with helpful information on the classroom setup and teaching methods. While I think it’s geared more toward new teachers looking for advice, it’s also a must-read for parents. I guarantee it will change your attitude the next time you go to parent-teacher conference!


Warning Signs: A Story About Obsession

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?
Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.
Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

https://amzn.to/2X2oHRL

My Review

Niko Nishevsky, aka Eugene Monroe, fancies himself a professor in search of the truth behind a serial killer’s motives. His study of previous cases reveals differences between his own murders and theirs, leading him to believe he is smarter and more evolved than his predecessors. Where they killed, he saved his victims.

Not the same at all.

Angie is a full-time caregiver for her drug and alcohol addicted mother and dreams of the day a white knight will swoop in a carry her away. When she meets Eugene aboard a train heading to Ottawa the connection is immediate. They go on a date, share a few kisses, and Eugene gives her a burner cellphone for ‘secret’ conversations. Angie realizes he is a little bit strange, but her desperation blinds her to the truth.

When Detective Van Ray accidentally gets a look at the biography of a serial killer book in Niko’s briefcase his suspicions rise. Is this the man who has been murdering young women in youth protection?

A game of cat and mouse begins and it’s hard to say who wants the killer caught the most, Van Ray or Niko?

This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that delves into the mind of a psychopath. I was surprised to find myself empathizing with Eugene. He truly wants to change, but life has made him into what he’s become.

An enthralling read!

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How about you? Any good books that you’ve read lately?

#TuesdayBookReview- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton #YANovels


No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.

The Outsiders is a dramatic and enduring work of fiction that laid the groundwork for the YA genre. S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was first published.

The Outsiders transformed young-adult fiction from a genre mostly about prom queens, football players and high school crushes to one that portrayed a darker, truer world.” —The New York Times

Biography

Susan Eloise Hinton’s career as an author began while she was still a student at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Disturbed by the divisions among her schoolmates into two groups–the Greasers and the Socs–Hinton wrote The Outsiders, an honest, sometimes shocking novel told from the point of view of an orphaned 14-year-old Greaser named Ponyboy Curtis. Since her narrator was male, it was decided that Hinton use only her first initials so as not to put off boys who would not normally read books written by women. The Outsiders was published during Hinton’s freshman year at the University of Tulsa, and was an immediate sensation.Today, with more than eight million copies in print, the book is the best-selling young adult novel of all time, and one of the most hauntingly powerful views into the thoughts and feelings of teenagers. The book was also made into a film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and featuring such future stars as Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise.Once published, The Outsiders gave her a lot of publicity and fame, and also a lot of pressure. S.E. Hinton was becoming known as “The Voice of the Youth” among other titles. This kind of pressure and publicity resulted in a three year long writer’s block.Her boyfriend (and now, her husband), who had gotten sick of her being depressed all the time, eventually broke this block. He made her write two pages a day if she wanted to go anywhere. This eventually led to That Was Then, This Is Now.In the years since, Ms. Hinton has married and now has a teenaged son, Nick. She continues to write, with such smash successes as That Was Then, This Is Now, Rumble Fish and Tex, almost as well known as The Outsiders. She still lives in Tulsa with her husband and son, where she enjoys writing, riding horses, and taking courses at the university.In a wonderful tribute to Hinton’s distinguished 30-year writing career, the American Library Association and School Library Journal bestowed upon her their first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors authors whose “book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young people as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.”

My Review

An incredibly intimate portrayal into the lives of teenagers from ‘both sides of the track.’

I was hooked from the opening line:

WHEN I STEPPED out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.

The Outsiders- S.E. Hinton

Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers, Darry and Sodapop, are getting by after the deaths of their parents, but life isn’t easy. Darry had to quit school in order to care for his younger brothers, determined to keep his family together even though money is tight and trouble never far away.

The boys and their friends are known as greasers, often preyed upon by the rich socs who take pleasure in taunting them with all that they don’t have.

They had me down in a second. They had my arms and legs pinned down and one of them was sitting on my chest with his knees on my elbows, and if you don’t think that hurts, you’re crazy.

The Outsiders- S.E. Hinton

Life on the streets is brutal. Either you protect one another, or perish. The author does an incredible job of drawing the reader into Ponyboy’s life. It’s impossible not to have empathy for these tough, loyal, misunderstood young men.

“Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold . . .” The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died. You read about people looking peacefully asleep when they’re dead, but they don’t. Johnny just looked dead. Like a candle with the flame gone.

The Outsiders- S.E. Hinton

I first read this book as an English assignment way back in grade eight and it has stayed with me all of these years. This is a timeless story of disparity and inequality, never more important than in these uncertain times.

A must-read!

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#BookReview- In Search of McDoogal by @MaeClair1 #RomCom


In search of something ugly…

All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.

With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?

Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.

McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen.

Biography

A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections.

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.com

Photo by Matthias Oben on Pexels.com

My Review

The things we do for love…

When Brady Conrad inadvertently sells his girlfriend’s prized painting of her beloved feline, he talks friend Declan into helping in its recovery.

They follow a vague trail of clues leading them to a small town with a suspicious sheriff and a calamity of events that make for entertaining reading. Brady and Declan act more like brothers with their witty dialogue and unending support and the supporting characters are a hoot!

The more we learn of this painting, the curiouser it gets and was a highlight of the story for me.

If you’re looking for a little lighthearted relief from the current world crisis, this book fits the bill!

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