#BookReview- Mid-October #reads @Jacqui_Nelson Jacqui Murray @DWallacePeach @WordDreams


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Mid-October Book Reviews from Three Fabulous Writers!

Generally, I like to give separate posts for book reviews, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately (your fault!), that I decided to post three of them today.

Ready?

Here we go!

Tap the covers to go to the retail site.

The posts on this site may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase using a link.

Against All Odds by Jacqui Murray

First up, is a spellbinding tale set in the time of early man. Jacqui Murray is a marvel at creating a prehistoric world that readers can easily relate to.

This is the third book in her acclaimed Crossroads Trilogy and we get to learn what happens when favorite characters such as Xhosa and Pan-do reach the land of their dreams.

Xhosa is faced with new challenges as former bandmates arrive, testing her leadership, and enemies from the past threaten their peace.

The author’s meticulous attention to detail shines in these stories. The research alone must have taken months!

While Against the Odds can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading the series in order to gain a better understanding of these complex characters.

Survival, relationships, formidable foes, this series has it all!

About the Author

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.

A Bride for Heddwyn by Jacqui Nelson

A Bride for Heddwyn is the second book in Jacqui Nelson’s Songbird Junction series set in 1878 Colorado.

It is the story of three young women bound together by an orphanage upbringing and a love of music, and three brothers who will do anything to protect the women they love.

Oriole knows how dangerous it can be for a single woman, she and her sisters have been under the thumb of a controlling man for too long. When he is caught and jailed, she decides it’s time to chase down her missing sibling. But the man who calls himself their uncle escapes prison and is determined to force them back into a sideshow- entertainment to earn him his fortune.

Heddwyn has been fascinated by the quiet Oriole from the first time they met (and kissed). His awkwardness makes it hard for him to communicate his feelings, but when danger erupts, threatening Oriole and her sisters, Heddwyn gets the chance to prove his devotion.

I love Jacqui’s ability to create characters that warm the heart!

About the Author

Biography

Fall in love with a new Old West… where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. You’ll find Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, and trick-riding superstars in my stories. Those are my heroines. Wait till you meet my heroes! My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada. I’ve been nominated for over 20 awards and won the RWA® Golden Heart® & the Laramie® — but my best reward is hearing from readers who have enjoyed my stories.

Liars and Thieves by D. Wallace Peach

Liars and Thieves is book 1 in the Unraveling the Veil fantasy series.

Three outcasts, thrust into an alliance by fate, by oaths, and the churning gears of calamity, must learn the truth. For they hold the future of their world in their hands.

What do a changeling, an elf, and a goblin have in common? A rather unlikely union.

Alue (elf), Talin (changeling), and Naj (goblin) find themselves thrust together in a desperate search to find who, or what, is causing the rift between their cultures and the murder and disappearances of their people.

For centuries, the three races have lived next to each other and trade resources, following the dictates set by their elders. But when a mineshaft, built by elves, caves in and men go missing, accusations begin to fly.

Why is the mine heading into goblin territory? What do the changelings know? Why do the elves cut wood not belonging to them, endangering changeling lives. Why do goblins control the Savan crystals needed for survival?

Round and round the blame flies, escalating toward an unavoidable war between the races- unless three misfits can save them all.

I am a huge fan of this writer’s work. She is unparalleled when it comes to vivid scene descriptions.

Here are a couple of my favorite lines:

Alue and her wardens rode into Ka Varine as the trees blushed like shy maidens beneath the eyes of twilight.

Liars and Thieves by D. Wallace Peach

The mechanical clock in the center of Ka Radiff tolled the early hours of morning, the sky a black blanket of wool with the promise of dawn embroidered across the hem.

Liars and Thieves by D. Wallace Peach

D. Wallace Peach has written an unputdownable fantasy series- I’m already starting the next book, Allies and Spies!

About the Author

Biography

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

For book descriptions, excerpts, maps, and behind the scenes info, please visit http://dwallacepeachbooks.com.

For her blog on all things writing, please visit http://mythsofthemirror.com.

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

#BookReview- The Thief by J.R. Ward #PNR #Suspense


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • New enemies rise and desire burns in the latest thrilling novel of the paranormal romance series the Black Dagger Brotherhood. 

Sola Morte, former cat burglar and safecracker, has given up her old life on the wrong side of the law. On the run from a drug lord’s family, she is lying low far from Caldwell, keeping her nose clean and her beloved grandmother safe. Her heart, though, is back up north, with the only man who has ever gotten through her defenses: Assail, son of Assail, who never meant to fall in love—and certainly not with a human woman. But they have no future, and not just because she doesn’t know he is a vampire, but because he is not about to stop dealing arms to the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Fate, however, has other plans for them. When Assail falls into a coma and lingers on the verge of death, his cousins seek out Sola and beg her to give him a reason to live. The last thing she wants is a return to her past, but how can she leave him to die?

As a lethal new enemy of the vampires shows its face, and the Brotherhood needs Assail back on his feet, Sola finds herself not only a target, but a mission-critical force in a war she doesn’t understand. And when Assail’s truth comes out, will she run from the horror . . . or follow her heart into the arms of the male who loves her more than life itself?

Attribution: Amazon.com

The posts on this site may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase using a link.

Biography

J.R. Ward is the number one New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series of vampire books. She is a winner of the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA award for Best Paranormal Romance and is a multiple RITA nominee. A graduate of Smith College, she was a double major in History and Art History with a medieval concentration in both and she still longs at times for a return to those days sitting in dark lecture halls, looking at slides of old triptychs and reliquaries. Prior to becoming a full time writer, she was a corporate attorney, serving for many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard Medical Schools premier teaching sites. Her idea of absolute heaven is a day filled with nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot and the Brothers, of course.

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My Review of The Thief by J.R. Ward

Marisol Morte is on the run from a violent past, her priority to keep her aging grandmother safe. But, when two cousins of the man who’d saved her life- and fell in love with- show up on her doorstep begging that she return to Caldwell and Assail’s deathbed, she is helpless to refuse.

At the same time, the sister of Sola’s ex-lover, a powerful drug runner, comes to Caldwell seeking vengeance against those who murdered her brothers.

The brotherhood is up against a new, and deadly foe. A shadow is killing civilians and turning their souls into savage beasts. Vishous and Jane go through some marital problems, causing both of them to lose focus at a crucial time for the vampires’ future. And then Lassiter drops a bomb no one saw coming!

Favorite Lines

There was a reason for rituals. When you were lost in your own life, they provided a false structure, like paper walls for your house of cards, the illusion that things were predictable and safe sometimes the only thing that got you through.

Ward, J.R.. The Thief (Black Dagger Brotherhood) (p. 118). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Then again, true love required so much more than the boy-meets-girl stuff—and mutual attraction was the easy part: Life did not sit back politely and not interrupt the conversation between two souls united.

Ward, J.R.. The Thief (Black Dagger Brotherhood) (p. 231). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to get back to reading the brotherhood, within a few pages I’m hooked. The characters are as unique and unforgettable as their names. J.R. Ward has created a series of good over evil different from most. The heroes have faults that makes the reader invested in their outcomes. Each book reads as a standalone, but I would recommend reading the first one or two in order to gain a perspective on the brotherhood’s dynamics.

Vishous is one of my favorite characters, so I was glad to see him figure prominently in this story and can’t wait to start the next one! I wish I had more reading time 🙂

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

Endangered Spells (Witches Academy Series Book 6) by S. R. Mallery #PNR #Reading @SarahMallery1


Sometimes Magic Can Be Complicated

What happens when a beautiful and talented witch refuses to use her powers?

Even as a child, Gillian could perform magic far better than most people. Her spells swayed teachers, nabbing boyfriends was a piece of cake, and she had the added ability to foresee events, good or bad. But when one of her spells causes a near-death and a future forecast completely rocks her entire world, she steps away from magic––until her friend’s murder slams her back into the game…and straight into a detective’s arms.

#Magic, #Romance, #MurderMystery, #TimeTravel, #Psychology, #CockatooHumor

A waitress attending night school at the academy discovers, along with the gift of magic, she has royal blood flowing through her veins. America’s latest foodie channel sweetheart is a real charmer, who discovers not all the magic happens in the kitchen. Clair struggles with taking control of her magical powers until she meets a guy who really needs her help. A beautiful witch, empowered with the gift of creating strong magic spells since childhood, now refuses to use them––until her friend’s murder changes everything. An investigative reporter’s strange visions force her to really use her powers. When a rival tries to mess with her magic a witch must find a way to rekindle her flame.

What do eight enchanted witches have in common? They’ve all attended the Witches Academy of Sorcery in the Big Easy, the foremost school of magic in the world. From coast to coast, each of these bewitched women will work at becoming who they are meant to be, using their powers to the fullest capacity.

Jen Talty – The New Order
Natalie Ann – Passionate Vision
Judith Lucci- Seer of Evil
Suzanne Jenkins – Secret Royalty
Anna Celeste Burke – Kitchen Magic
S. R. Mallery – Endangered Spells
Margaret A. Daly – Wickless
Tamara Ferguson – Enchantress

Available October 6, 2020- https://amzn.to/2YrcK83

https://amzn.to/3hmVDf2

Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

I swear, Carly is gonna put me into an early grave.

With traffic at a complete standstill in the dark bridge tunnel, Gillian couldn’t help ruminating about her reckless, dare-devil sister, Carly—and the exchange of insults they’d spat at each other the night before. Engrossed in thinking about what she herself should apologize for and what things her sister should admit were out of line on her part, Gillian ignored everything else going on around her.

Until she couldn’t.

Without warning, some kind of magnetic force pulled her gaze through the back window of a Mercedes ahead of her car. There, she could make out the silhouettes of a man and a woman on the front seat. Nothing unusual. But when the male driver’s hand flew out, grabbed the woman passenger, then jerked her toward him, Gillian went on high alert.

What the—?

Stunned, she eyed the Mercedes and its license plate as cars began to inch forward again and she neared the tunnel’s end. A spark of familiarity flitted through her brain, but there was no time to reflect any further. The driver now shoved the woman backward, and revving up the car, he also headed toward daylight. Suddenly, he swerved over to the tunnel’s narrow sidewalk and drove, half on, half off, missing cars by mere inches before he sped off and disappeared from sight.

“Where have I seen that car before?” she muttered, as she maneuvered through the streets of Wheelton to get to an appointment with her family’s dear friend, Amanda Rankin.

Gillian turned resentful. After all, she hadn’t even wanted to see anyone at their coven’s Gambit House. Why should she? Even though Amanda was nice, all she’d hear from other members would be yet another lecture, ad nauseum, about how avoiding her magical powers was simply not tolerated in their world. More than that, she owed it to their coven, because—

Without warning, the screech of a car’s wheels braking blasted through the air. Is it from that Mercedes? In an instant, Gillian remembered who owned that car. It was her old high school friend, the investigative journalist and mystery author, Rebecca Newell.

Is Rebecca in trouble?

She couldn’t help herself. She had to find out. Canvasing through several quiet neighborhoods, she maneuvered up and down the streets slowly, so she could eagle eye each car, driving or parked. But after a good twenty minutes and no Mercedes in sight, she figured it was fruitless.

Quickly, she texted Amanda, explaining that something important had come up, and unfortunately, she had to go elsewhere.No kidding. ToWheelton’s local police station.

https://amzn.to/3hmVDf2

Biography

A USA TODAY Best Selling author and two-time READERS’ FAVORITE GOLD MEDAL winner, S. R. Mallery––as her fans say––”brings history to life.”

They say I’m as eclectic as my characters. I’ve been a singer, a composer, a calligrapher, a quilt artist, and an ESL/Reading teacher. But it is the world of writing historical fiction where I feel I’ve come “home.” It’s where I’ve received various awards and in addition, get to do my second love: Research.

When people talk about the news of the day, or when I listen to music, my overactive imagination likens the story to a similar kind of news in the past, which helps me conjure up scenes between characters I’ve yet to meet.

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT S. R. MALLERY’S BOOKS:

Unexpected Gifts: “This is a book to be savored, as there is much information, as well as a captivating story about one family greatly affected by the events of their times. A thought-provoking read indeed!” — Deborah Lloyd for Readers’ Favorite

Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads
This is a fascinating collection of anecdotes and historical snippets focusing on the timely art of sewing. – Emily-Jane Hills Orford for READER’s FAVORITE

“Mallery is an extremely talented writer. Her style lures the reader; you actually become a part of her tapestry of expression.” –– Blogger Melinda Hines, on Tales to Count On.

The Dolan Girls “was so enjoyable. At times rollicking, at times poignant, but always authentic, well researched and a beautifully told story. Highest recommendation. Five stars.” –– B. Nelson, Top Amazon reviewer

Genteel Secrets “is a beautiful story which transports the reader in time. True to life historical fiction at its best, it’s so much more than romance.” – Riley, Top Amazon reviewer

Trouble in Glamour Town “is very historically accurate, portraying the real workings of the Hollywood sleaze, dishonesty and corruption happening at that time. S.R. Mallery is a gifted author who drew me into the story from the first word and kept me reading until the very last page… ” – Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite

Ellie & The War On Powder Creek
“This is one of those rare western romances that are historically accurate. From the way the characters talk to their dress and their way of life, the author has given a very accurate account of how the west was back in the late 1800s. The narrative was reflective of that time; the descriptions took me to the places and the characters and had me experiencing the hardships and tension along with them …
The author’s writing style is the magic behind this amazing novel. S.R. Mallery did a great job at keeping the story alive, keeping the momentum going and making sure that the reader didn’t lose interest at any point. I loved this book”
—– Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite *****

Tea, Anyone?
***** “Tea, Anyone? is one of those books that you just fall into and stay there until it’s finished. The plot is clever, unique, and is told in a believable way. All the characters are wonderful, well-developed, and a really eclectic mix too. An intriguing story, this is guaranteed to hold your attention late into the night.” —–Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorite

SARAH LOVES TO HEAR FROM HER FANS:

BLOG/WEBSITE: https:///www.srmallery.blog
BOOKBUB PAGE: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/s-r-mallery
NEWSLETTER: https://www.subscribepage.com/t6s5a7
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/SarahMallery1
FACEBOOK PAGES:
Personal page: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.mallery.3
Fan Page: http://facebook.com/pages/SR-Mallery-Sarah-Mallery/356495387768574
GOOGLE+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/107388739382996104658/posts
GOODREADS:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7067421.S_R_Mallery
PINTEREST: (I have some good history boards that are getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films)
http://www.pinterest.com/sarahmallery1/
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/mallerysarah/

#NewRelease Against All Odds by Jacqui Murray #Prehistoric #Fiction @worddreams


I’m thrilled to share Jacqui Murray’s New Release- Against All Odds

Tagline

Xhosa’s extraordinary prehistoric saga concludes, filled with hardship, courage, survival, and family. 

Summary

A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.

The Crossroads trilogy 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 all those who came before. 

From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of her search for freedom, safety, and a new home.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Book information:

Title: Against All Odds

Series: Book 3 in the Crossroads series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available digitally (print soon) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The foothills of the Pyrenees

They came out of the mountains, hair frozen in sparkling strands, hands and feet wrapped in shredded pelts, ribs etched against their skin under ragged hides white with snow, faces haggard with fatigue. Blood crusted scrapes and gashes, many recent, others almost healed, reminders of the violent struggles endured on their journey.

Though their steps flagged, not one of these upright creatures exhibited a hint of defeat. All males and a few females carried at least one spear, some two, many with warclubs strapped to their backs. Despite the anxiety and fear of entering this foreign land, hope energized them today, that their migration might be at an end.

All of them—Xhosa and her tribe, Pan-do and his, Wind, Zvi, and Seeker—had been chased from their homes by enemies. In their flight, they found each other. It took time to work through their differences but now they traveled side by side, respected ideas not theirs, and called themselves the People.

Their charismatic Leaders—Xhosa, Wind, and Pan-do—were known as reliable friends to those who earned their trust and dangerous enemies to those who opposed them. Two wolves—Spirit and Black Wolf—journeyed with them. Though the People lacked the animals’ sharp claws, dense fur, and piercing teeth, each considered the other “pack” and would defend them to death.

The exhausted group straggled down the gently sloping flank, feet shuffling carefully over the slippery scree. The ground changed from talus to stunted tufts of grass, sparse and brown which made walking easier. Optimism shone from their faces even as their tired eyes flicked side to side in search of unexpected movement, ears strained for out-of-place noises, and noses sniffed.

Rather than continue across the meadow, Xhosa led the People into the shade of the edging forest.

“Do you smell it, Wind?” Anticipation filled her gestures.

She and Wind, pairmates as well as Co-Leaders, stood quietly, absorbing their surroundings. Light filtered lazily through the canopy, the shadowed ground dappled with patches of warmth. She sniffed in the essence of wet earth and rotting leaves, the mustiness of moss, and something else much more enticing. 

“It’s there.” She pointed and strode forward, lengthening her stride.

An icy gust whipped down the hillside through the shadows and raised bumps on her arms but she ignored it. The forest gave way to open sky and searing heat. It was too hot for her thin pelt but she didn’t stop to remove it. Green stalks swayed as far as she could see, edged on one side by more mountains and the other by some sort of leaves and branches. Sunlight glinted off the rippled surface of a distant river as it curled over the terrain.

“Dung!” The scent overpowered every other odor.

Wind huffed to her side. “It’s been a long time since we smelled dung that wasn’t frozen.”

“We did it, Wind.” Her eyes glistened with relief.

For most of a Moon, dread gnawed at her courage and left her wondering if following the guidance of Seeker—a boy barely a man—was a mistake. But Seeker assured her in his ebullient way that once out of the hills, their new homebase would welcome them. Xhosa wanted to believe him because she wasn’t sure what else to do. Nor did she know what to do if it didn’t work.

Wind motioned, arms inclusive, “It’s beautiful, Xhosa.”

Siri, Pan-do, Ngili, the wolves Spirit and Black Wolf, and the rest of the People gathered around Xhosa and Wind, eyes locked on what lay in front of them.

Pan-do whispered, “We made it.” His eyes were moist, mouth open.

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, hands close to his body. “With all this grass, Gazelle or Mammoth must be nearby.”

Dust, the Lead Scout, trotted up, coming from a tall cliff far ahead on their forward path. “I think there are caves there.”

The People hadn’t slept in a cave since leaving Viper and the Mountain Dwellers. It would be a treat if true.

Xhosa looked behind. Shadows already stretched as far from the bottom of the rocky slopes as sunlight to the top. Daylight would soon end.

“We don’t have much time. Let’s rest and then see if those are caves.”

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, fingers spaced out, palms up, “I’ll go with Dust to check.” He added a swift spread-fingered swipe with first one hand and then the other, followed by a quick bob of his head and a puff.

Xhosa brushed both hands down her sides. Go.

The People spoke with a complex combination of hand motions, facial expressions, body movements, and sounds augmented with chirrups, snaps, hisses, and whistles. By the time Ngili finished talking, Xhosa knew how many would join him, where they would go, and how long they’d be away. The People’s communication was sophisticated but quiet, a precaution especially in unfamiliar areas. Unusual sounds—voices, for example—stood out. All animals made noises but few as varied as the People’s. Why alert Others who lived here to their presence? Xhosa would do that in her own time, in her own way.

Dust, Ngili, and two scouts soon receded into the landscape, the only evidence of their passage a slight disturbance in the slender waving stalks. Despite the dung scents, the abundant plant food, and the glisten of a faraway river, Xhosa crossed her arms over her chest and paced.

Something is wrong. 

She searched the forests and the rippling field that had swallowed up Dust and Ngili . Xhosa possessed the ability to see great distances in sufficient detail to find trails, footprints, movement, or the glitter of sun off eyes.

She saw none of those and that made her more uncomfortable.

With this wealth of food and water, Others should be here.

Wind motioned, palms flattened against his chest, “The mountains we crossed touched Sun. They’re cold and barren. Few can do what we did to get here, Xhosa. We are safe.”

Xhosa could hear in his voice, see in his gestures, that despite his bravado, Wind too felt uneasy about what they didn’t see and hear.

But she grinned. “I don’t know how I survived without someone being able to read my thoughts.”

She trotted over to a stream that fed into the river she had noticed. She stretched out on her belly, flat on the soft grass at the water’s edge, and took a long, satisfying drink of the sweet liquid. Thirst quenched, she collected handfuls of the tender shoots of new plants growing along the shore, ate what she wanted and tossed the rest into a communal food pile that would be shared with all the People. It was already filling up with fat fish speared from the slow-moving pools beside the river, tasty reeds and cattails, and even a handful of eggs plucked from nests not hidden well enough along the shore and in the roots of trees. The wolves snapped birds from the air and swallowed them almost whole, coughing up feathers.

Xhosa leaned back on her hands, sniffing the unique fragrance of each groupmember. Zvi was sweaty from wrestling with Spirit. Siri smelled sourly of hunger but she wouldn’t eat until Honey’s bleeding foot was wrapped in mulch and leaves. The females with new babies exuded the pleasant aroma of milk. Some scents jumbled together making them impossible to identify. When Xhosa became Leader of the People, before it merged with Pan-do’s and Hawk’s, the People had been small enough that she could recognize everyone by their odor. Now, she kept track of her tribe while Pan-do did the same with his. Wind helped everyone.

Done eating, the People sprawled on the warm ground, soaking up Sun’s remaining rays, chatting contentedly with gestures and the occasional sigh. Water dripped from their thawing bodies, soaking into the thirsty ground, as the remaining ice and snow on their pelts and in their hair melted away.

Xhosa and Wind sat apart from the others, on a log long ago softened by rot. She uprooted handfuls of grass and wiped the sweat from Wind’s body, as he did hers. The soft scratch felt good and the earthy fragrance reminded her of times long gone. When he finished, she harvested chunks of green moss from the log’s decaying bark and stuffed them into her neck sack. All the People wore one of these around their necks. Even the wolves did when they were migrating.

Finished, she leaned against Wind and closed her eyes. In a group of Others, her pairmate stood out. A Big Head, the People’s traditional enemy, the ones who drove Xhosa and her tribe from their long-established home, Wind had earned Xhosa’s trust by saving her life more than once and then, as a member of her People, sharing Big Head spear tricks and warrior skills with her Leads. Before long, each of them individually told her that thanks to Wind they could now defeat an attack which they couldn’t have done in the past. Whatever distrust her People harbored toward him faded away.

“Xhosa!” Dust panted up to her. “I found a cave. And we found trace of a herd. Ngili is tracking it.”

By the time Sun settled into its night nest, the People were ensconced in the cave Dust found. They had to squeeze together to fit but all were thrilled to sleep without waking to frozen toes and numb fingers. Stone and Zvi—the burliest of the People—lugged rocks in and Siri built a fire that quickly warmed the interior. The subadults gathered kindling to feed it and arranged who would be responsible throughout the night for keeping it lit.

Usually, the wolves slept scattered among the People but with Black Wolf close to delivering her pups, she dug out an opening in the back and claimed it as her den. Then she settled to her belly, one leg forward, the other bent back, eyebrows twitching.

Xhosa strode toward the nest she would share with Wind but stopped at the sight of Seeker, weight on his bottom, legs crossed in front of his body in the uncomfortable position he preferred. His pairmate Lyta curled next to him with their best friend, Zvi.

Xhosa approached Seeker. “You are not outside.”

Every night as long as Xhosa could remember, the enigmatic male lay on his back, gaze fixed steadily on the star-dotted sky, spouting what to Xhosa sounded like gibberish to whoever listened. Intermittently, he leapt to his feet and spun dizzying circles or bounced from one foot to the other, huffing and chirping. Lyta and Zvi would either join him or watch. He once explained to Xhosa that this was how he studied the changes in the night sky—the appearance and disappearance of particular stars or their movement in relation to each other—so he could guide the People accurately. This nightly process was how they had moved from the distant start of Endless Pond to this cave where Endless Pond seemed to end.

He didn’t respond to her statement, didn’t even acknowledge her. That worried Xhosa. She hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that danger lurked around them, somewhere. Seeker’s anxious look didn’t help.

She squatted at his side and added a question to her declaration. “The stars aren’t talking to you?”

To the side, Lyta wriggled, not comfortable in the seated position Seeker preferred but determined to try because Seeker liked it so much. Zvi crouched on the balls of her feet, the more traditional pose. She’d tried to sit on her bottom, legs crossed in front, but kept falling backward. Besides, it took her too long to rise from that position which meant if Lyta needed help, she couldn’t respond quickly. Squatting, for her, made more sense. Seeker didn’t care. He expected all to do what worked for them. Both his best friend and his future pairmate were long accustomed to his eccentricities.

Finally, Seeker offered Xhosa only a confused frown.

That’s not a “Yes they are,” and that raised the hair on her neck. Before she could ask more, Ngili scrambled through the thistle barrier the youngsters had placed around the cave’s mouth to prevent the entrance of intruders and hurried toward Xhosa.

He motioned, “I lost the herd’s trace in the dark. I’ll try again tomorrow,” and then raced toward where the hunters had gathered. They were all tired. Some would mate before sleeping but not Ngili. He hadn’t given up hope that his pairmate, Hecate, would come back.

After a final glance at Seeker, Xhosa joined Wind in their nest. She squatted behind him and teased the dirt and debris from his long head hair, occasionally focusing on a difficult tangle until her fingers could move easily through his hair. When she finished, he did the same for her.

As he groomed, he said, “I’ll join Ngili tomorrow. If there are herds, we will find them.”

“Pan-do and I will continue with the People.”

They said nothing more, both enjoying the calming feel of nails scratching on their skin and the intimacy of someone they trusted implicitly. Done, both fell asleep.

The first rays of daylight filtered into the cave. Black Wolf was already outside, padding back and forth restlessly, huffing uncomfortably. Wind left with Ngili and a handful of scouts, knowing Xhosa would leave a trail to wherever they settled when Sun’s light ran out. Though Spirit usually went with the hunters, today he stayed with Black Wolf.

Xhosa and Pan-do led. Dust copied their pace and direction but a distance away. With Ngili and Wind searching for meat, Xhosa focused on finding a cave large enough for the People. They strode onward, gaze sweeping the landscape, everyone grazing on berries, roots, and worms as they walked. Sporadically, Xhosa heard a faraway squawk or glimpsed a covey of birds as they exploded into flight, fleeing an unknown threat. It was the direction Ngili and Wind had gone, and told her how far they’d gotten.

The People rested by a waterhole. They searched its shoreline for prints but found none. Wherever the herds lived, they didn’t drink here so the People moved on, through copses of young saplings and around a bed of haphazardly-strewn boulders. The air tasted of flowers, warm earth, and the mild tang of salt, but the dung they found was hard and old.

Xhosa touched Pan-do’s hand and both stopped, eyes forward. “Do you smell that? It reminds me of Endless Pond.”

He pointed to his strong side and the direction they were walking. “From there and there. How can it be on two sides?”

Xhosa tingled. One of her People—Rainbow—had abandoned them long ago, taking many males and females with him. Others she and her People ran into while migrating here told her Rainbow traveled the same route she did but along the opposite shore of Endless Pond. For him, as for her, this was as far as he could go without folding back on himself.

If they got this far. If any survived.

She pushed aside those thoughts. Before searching for whatever remnants remained of Rainbow’s group, the People must find a homebase. All they suffered to get here—the interminable walking, the loss of Hawk, the death of groupmembers, Nightshade’s treachery—was for naught if they didn’t establish a home.

Spirit bumped her leg. Black Wolf panted at her mate’s side, her belly almost touching the ground.

Xhosa motioned, “Your mate’s pups won’t wait much longer. We will find a den for her.”

Spirit took off, his movements graceful and fluid with Black Wolf lumbering after him.

Not much later, Pan-do squinted ahead. “I think Spirit found a cave.”

Xhosa leaned forward, narrowing her gaze, and finally saw where Spirit stopped. He sat on his haunches at the base of a cliff, facing her, nose twitching, tail swishing the dirt behind him.

It took the rest of the day to cross over the craggy scrubland, up and down the deep ravines, and around the occasional spot of slippery ice. The cave proved too small for the People but not for Black Wolf’s needs. With much scuffling and panting, she created a nest for her pups and disappeared into the cool dark hole. The People settled outside, under an overhang that would protect them from rain and predators, and far enough away to not bother the new mother. As soon as Ngili and Wind arrived, shaking their heads that they hadn’t found a herd, they left again to search for signs of a trail left by former inhabitants of this cave.

Xhosa’s chest squeezed and her stomach knotted. Spirit padded up to her side, hackles puffed, nostrils flaring. He agreed. Something about this area made her tingle but for now, until Black Wolf finished, they must stay.

Questions:        

Why are these characters so violent?

The answer to this question is simple: They had to be. If Homo erectus hadn’t been violent 850,000 years ago, he—and our genus—wouldn’t have survived. With skin too thin, claws too short, and teeth useless for defense, man wasn’t the era’s apex predator. His only advantage over those who preyed on him was a thoughtful brain.

It’s hard to believe Xhosa walked from Africa to the Middle East to Spain.

Wilford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan says that Homo erectus left Africa “because they wanted to, because they had to, and especially because they could.” Homo erectus (Xhosa’s species) is the first of our genus to inhabit Eurasia. Dozens of sites exist from Indonesia to Spain to Britain. We know—because of his tool-creation sophistication—that Homo erectus was smart enough to survive in varied environs. But why leave his homeland and go elsewhere? It could be to follow the herds or a reaction to changes in climate. They might have fled or chased enemies, or it could simply be our forebears suffered what many today do—wanderlust.

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Winter 2021. 

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog: https://worddreams.wordpress.com

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

LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter: http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website: https://jacquimurray.net

#BookReview- In Moonlight and Memories by @JAWalkerAuthor #Romance #SummerReading


MOST LOVE STORIES HAVE ONE BEGINNING AND ONE ENDING. THIS LOVE STORY HAS MANY.

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Ann Walker comes an epic story about sacrifice, friendship, and the awe-inspiring power of love.

Maggie: Ten years ago, Cash Armstrong stole my heart. Then he promptly joined the army—dragging my best friend with him—and left me crying on the front porch in a red sequined prom dress. Now he’s back. They’re both back. Cash, the one who still has my heart. And Luc, the one who saved my life.

Cash: How do you know if you’re at the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out since a traumatic brain injury made me “unfit to serve.” I’m back in New Orleans, and picking up the shattered pieces of my past means I must confront where my life’s journey began… and where it all might end.

Luc: Long ago, Maggie May was mine. Not mine in the way you might think. She was mine because she was my only friend. Then Cash came along and we became brothers by something stronger than blood. We became brothers by choice. When tragedy struck, I was forced to make a decision that changed all our lives. I thought, after ten years, it was safe to come back home. I was wrong…

Biography

A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Julie loves to travel the world looking for views to compete with her deadlines. And if those views happen to come with a blue sky and sunshine? All the better! When she’s not writing, Julie enjoys camping, hiking, cycling, fishing, cooking, petting every dog that walks by her, and… reading, of course!

Be sure to sign up for Julie’s occasional newsletter at: http://www.julieannwalker.com

To learn more about Julie, visit her at http://www.julieannwalker.com. Or follow her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/julieannwalkerauthor and/or Instagram: @julieannwalker_author.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

My Review

Maggie’s doing just fine. Her dream of owning a bar (well hers and Cash and Luc’s dream) has materialized. She has the support of family and friends and a full life, so why do old memories continue to drag her down?

Cash had no intention of returning to New Orleans. He’d put the past (namely his father) behind him and kissed it goodbye. His only regret- Maggie. But when a suicide bomber almost takes him out while on tour, Cash gains a new perspective on life and comes up with a plan to fix the mistakes he’s made and that requires going home.

Luc fell in love with Maggie May from the awkward age of fourteen, but the moment she meets his friend Cash he knows they’re fated to be together. Bottling his feelings, he takes the next best thing, her friendship. It kills him to leave her when Cash goes on the run, but his buddy needs him.

Now that Cash and Luc are back, the Louisiana swamp is giving up her secrets. Will they handle the fallout, or will the bayou swallow them forever?

I loved this book!

There were so many great moments. The characters leap off the page, they’re so well-written. The relationships between Luc and Cash, Cash and Maggie, Luc and Maggie May- I loved them all.

Favorite Lines

I read a quote that pretty much sums up my situation. True love is not the number of kisses, or how often you get them. True love is the feeling that lingers long after the kiss is over.

In Moonlight and Memories- Julie Ann Walker

At first acquaintance, Luc comes off as an unobtrusive guy. Not so much meek and mild, but quiet. Self-effacing. And yet he has a particular brand of toughness I’ve only ever seen in other men of his ilk. Men who’ve come from the place where murky waters run through tall marsh grass. Where gators growl and bobcats howl.

In Moonlight and Memories- Julie Ann Walker

Sometimes the past is like that whole objects in mirror are closer than they appear thing. The trick to forgetting is simply not to look.

In Moonlight and Memories- Julie Ann Walker

There’s so many more, but I better quit now, lol. Buy the book, you’ll love it!

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Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

The Girl in The Love Song by Emma Scott #NewRelease #Romance @EmmaS_Writes


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…

The Girl in the Love Song, book one in the Lost Boys, an interconnected coming-of-age series of standalones, from USA Today bestselling author Emma Scott, is live!

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?

The Girl in the Love Song features two original songs written by Emma herself.

Download today or read for free in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UdV79C

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/TheGirlintheLoveSongES

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2MLnYhU

About Emma:



Emma Scott is an internationally bestselling author whose books have been 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 heroes with a heart of gold, you will enjoy her novels.

Connect with Emma:
Amazon author link: https://amzn.to/2yUnFKJ

Webpage: emmascottwrites.com

Facebook: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottFB

Reader group: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottEntourage

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottBB

Instagram: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottIG

Twitter: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottTW

Stay up to date with Emma by joining her mailing list: http://bit.ly/2nTGLf6

Father Figure by James. J. Cudney #Suspense #Sale @jamescudney4


Father Figure is a .99 Kindle download from 5/23 thru 5/27 – help yourselves!

Thank you so much for your support in sharing, downloading, reading, and reviewing. I appreciate it! You should pick it up before the virtual book club coming up soon… check it out

This was my introduction into James J. Cudney’s work, and can I just say, wow! Here’s a link to my review- https://jacqbiggar.com/2019/07/11/father-figure-by-jamescudney4-suspense-bookreview/

Father Figure’s plotline is nothing short of brilliant, with a surprise ending you won’t guess is coming!

Download @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure for only .99 this week

Overview of Father Figure

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies.

Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent.

Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen is revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.    

Father Figure was officially launched for sale on Amazon on April 2, 2018 as both an e-book and a physical book. Reviews have been extremely positive between Goodreads and Amazon since the 5-day free download and 5-day book blitz.

  • Book Blitz: For 5 days, (4/30 thru 5/4) we posted promotions, hints, and feedback
  • Blog Tour: For 5 days (6/4 thru 6/8) we posted reviews, interviews and a giveaway

Reviews

★★★★★ – “The book deals with abuse, identity, acceptance, overcoming obstacles, crime, sexuality, family secrets, and knowing who you are. Another great story to read, especially if you love emotive, suspenseful family dramas.”

★★★★★ – “Gripping and emotional… Mr. Cudney has written a book full of twists and turns that kept my eyes glued to its pages.”

★★★★★ – “Amalia and Brianna are fully developed characters with all the fears, naivety, anxiety and angst of teen, young adults; full of questions and doubts… Can’t wait for James Cudney’s next work.”

***

Book Excerpt

Chapter One – Amalia, August 1984

“I didn’t raise no harlot, Amalia. When you’re done with softball practice today, you will go directly to the hardware store and help your father manage that cash register.” The stagnant air, sealed tightly like an old glass jar of long-forgotten jelly, refused to dissipate in the Graeme family home—even it was afraid of Janet’s wrath.

“But Momma, I’ll be home to cook dinner before sunset.” The strains in Amalia’s voice weakened with each of her mother’s refusals to let her live the normal life of a teenager.

“Didn’t you hear me the first time, child? Only little whores go to the lake.” Janet’s stern voice emptied through thin lips stained from devouring a blueberry cobbler before they’d started cooking breakfast. “Are you a little whore, Amalia?”

Retribution for daring to break any of her mother’s rules was always swift and fierce. Amalia had obeyed every word since her mother locked her in the storm cellar for ten hours when she was a toddler —punishment for spilling juice on an antique lace tablecloth. “No, I’m sorry. I thought you might let me celebrate just this once…”

The plea had barely escaped Amalia’s hesitant lips before the clammy grip of Janet’s bony hands shoved her down the hallway. “Stop your sass talk, girl. We can take another trip downstairs if you don’t care to mind me.”

Amalia’s left arm grazed the wall when stumbling from the kitchen into the dark mudroom. Dingy white paint chips rained to the floor and clung to her favorite new red blouse while passing through the dilapidated archway. She cradled her elbow, flicked off the last few flakes of her mother’s venom, and firmly held her ground. “It’s not fair. You let Greg hang out with his friends all the time.”

“Leave your brother out of this conversation. Your responsibility belongs first to this family and then to the hardware store. Who said anything about friends? Now get yourself off to practice.” Janet’s one good eye stubbornly left behind after diabetes stole the vision in her other glared while Amalia reluctantly marched toward the back door. “You’re a spiteful little child.”

“I’m taking out the trash, Momma.” Her voice carried the defeat of a soul unable to find the words or summon the strength to defend herself anymore. As she leaned over, the scoop neck on Amalia’s blouse revealed the slightest hint of cleavage between her ample breasts.

“Stop right now. What are you wearing?” Janet’s tone lingered thick over such insubordination. A special brand of disdain had been developed by watching her daddy preach to his Southern Baptist congregation for nearly forty years before he anxiously married her off to Amalia’s father.

“It’s just a pretty shirt I found at a yard sale. I’m not showing too much skin.” Amalia dropped the trash bag on the mudroom’s gray linoleum and recalled the similar, previous lectures. She refused to turn around to face the woman. “I’m not a child anymore, Momma.”

Janet stampeded through the kitchen and kicked the garbage into the far corner. Though the vinyl flooring had peeled away from the walls as the house settled, it was still not one of the more noticeable improvements desperately needed in their home. “It’s lesson time, girl.”

Amalia yelped and dashed to safety after a cast iron frying pan full of hot grease collided with bare skin on the back of her arm. “No, Momma, please…” She dropped to her knees, scooted across the mudroom floor, and cowered behind the pantry door to protect herself from any further blows. An acrid burnt plastic odor from a fiery singe on the linoleum beneath her wafted through the air as she shuddered in pain. The nerves in her forearm and elbow convulsed when the wound began to blister from the impact of her mother’s lesson.

“Someday you’ll learn how to behave yourself.” Janet grudgingly placed the frying pan on the washing machine and lifted Amalia by the curls of her hair. She tightly squeezed her daughter’s breasts while trying to raise the blouse over Amalia’s head. “I don’t know where you got these girls from. You’re hoping to entice all the boys to put their dirty little hands where they don’t belong.”

Amalia pushed away her mother’s sticky fingers willing to risk more punishment if she kept them off her trembling body. The putrid smell of Janet’s three-day-old sweat and decaying teeth littered the air between their lips. “Leave it. I’ve got a bra on underneath to keep them strapped down. I know the rules.”

Amalia’s breasts had begun to develop when she turned eleven years old. By thirteen, a custom-size bra was bought to contain them. Dresses were never allowed given the attention they’d drawn to her body’s hourglass shape. Though Janet’s words were enough of a rebuke, reduction surgery was still threatened should Amalia’s breasts grow any larger.

“I pray every night for them to stop getting bigger and for God to teach you some morals. It’s like you’re rubbing my great Aunt Tilly’s rose garden’s Miracle Grow on those dirty pillows. Tramps like you get themselves into some mighty trouble when they don’t protect their bodies.” Janet stomped back to the kitchen with the now-emptied frying pan and quickly snapped her fingers. “Cover yourself up or forget about going away to college this summer.”

“Yes, Momma.” Amalia heaved herself from the floor with the help of the door handle and collected the remains of her veiled dignity.

“And put out the trash already. It smells like a sewer in here,” snickered Janet.

Fighting back the tears brimming on the surface of her weary eyes, Amalia sighed with relief upon noticing the frying oil hadn’t ruined her blouse. In a rush to tend to her wounds while running through the living room and up the flight of stairs, Amalia crashed into her father, Peter. At sixty, he’d begun to settle into a grandfatherly presence contented by a quiet and ordinary life. He’d aged quickly in the Graeme household. Everyone did.

“Daddy, I’m so sorry. I was…” Amalia hugged her father, rested her head against his narrow chest, and listened to his enfeebled lungs wheeze with exertion.

Peter fell toward the wall and knocked over the family portrait they’d photographed during Greg’s high school graduation. “Oh, my pet, what’s wrong?” He pulled Amalia closer with one hand and adjusted the brass picture frame with the other. A thin layer of ashen skin on his face failed to cover years of misery being married to Janet. He’d long-accepted divorce would never be permitted by the daughter of a Baptist preacher and that his life would be fraught with reproach. “Did you have another squabble with your mother?”

Amalia sniffled and concealed her burns, desperate to splash cold water on the pain. “She hates me, Daddy. Momma never loved me the way she loves Greg.”

“That’s not true, honey. She’s tougher because you’re leaving later this month.” Peter brushed away a few loose curls from Amalia’s face and smiled with a fatherly love that hadn’t receded over the years. “What happened this time?”

A cherubic expression brightened her pale face with the hope he would understand but disappeared once she remembered begging had never helped before. “I asked if I could go to the lake today with the rest of the softball team for Brant’s town fair, but Momma says I have to work at the store like I do every other day.”

The population of their hometown, Brant, Mississippi, founded in 1784, hovered around five hundred inhabitants, the majority born and raised in the surrounding isolation. The Graeme family, still considered outsiders, had arrived in the mid-1800s settling about a half mile from Lake Newton—the livelihood once used to transport goods to the neighboring settlements. Over the years, as the county paved new roads to share crops more efficiently among all the nearby villages, the lake became a gathering place for the local families and visitors to enjoy each summer. Store owners had organized a bicentennial celebration for the upcoming weekend where all the citizens would barbecue ribs, hold square dancing lessons, and play various outdoor games. Amalia looked forward to it every year believing she always had the chance to find a new friend who might make the rough days pass by a little easier.

“Your momma knows best, honey. We need to be available for our customers.” Every penny was important to Janet Graeme, especially with two kids attending college—they could never close the store early. Janet often reminded them how pitching in around the house or store was impossible on account of her many illnesses. Peter nudged Amalia away and kissed her cheek. “You can leave work early to meet your teammates at tomorrow’s picnic. Will that make you happy?”

“It helps, but I’ll be the only one not going tonight.” Amalia buried her flushed cheeks into the crook of his left arm. He always smelled of Old Spice. She’d bought him the same cologne for Father’s Day every year since shopping on her own.

If Peter noticed the stinging red color or the slight favor of her left arm, he either ignored it or thought she’d injured herself in a recent softball game. He adhered to an insulated belief that his wife’s normal way of parenting didn’t include hurting or abusing their daughter. It wasn’t the first time he’d misjudged a situation. Peter once took Amalia to a movie theatre as an early birthday present telling Janet they’d stayed behind at the store to count inventory and order stock, but she found a few popcorn kernels on the floor of the family Dodge the next morning while driving to church. Janet waited until Amalia arrived home from school later that week to teach her daughter a lesson about lying. Though Amalia had only been trying to catch a schoolboy’s attention by lightening the color of her hair with lemon juice, it was a vengeful wrath she’d unexpectedly invited as Janet took a pair of shearing scissors to her daughter’s golden mane. The emotional scars from an abusive homelife were profound, but Amalia never regretted sneaking off to watch the movie. She was proud of being a daddy’s girl. He was her hero, the father she’d always treasure, the man who made it easier being the daughter of the wicked Janet Graeme.

Peter patted Amalia’s back offering any chance to ease her disillusion. “I know, but tomorrow when you go to the lake, everything will be back on track. Bring some clothes to change into so that you don’t have to come back home in between. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“I can’t wait. I love you, Daddy.” She hugged him again and raced up the stairs to change her shirt before her mother had another outburst. Amalia applied cream to her wounds, then chose a long-sleeve button-down sweater she fastened two inches above the dip in her neck. After checking the mirror and wishing a bit of foundation could hide the uneven colors, she splashed water on her face to erase the evidence of her pain. One of Janet’s more ridiculous judgments echoed among Amalia’s numbed thoughts. ‘Only the vile women in this town wear makeup!’

Amalia flew back down the stairs and searched for the trash bag she’d left behind, realizing it would mean another lashing if her mother had stumbled upon it first. As she rushed into the living room, her father handed her a banana and elbowed her out the front door. “I already put it in the outside bin. Get to softball practice, my pet.” His voice barely audible, his expression as loud as a parade.

Amalia smiled and released an uncontrollable giggle as her countenance relaxed for the first time that morning. Although the tense nerves in her neck retreated into partial hiding, her body remained hypervigilant and always waited for the next blistery strike from her mother. She left the house flickering with excitement for the town’s festivities over the weekend but frightened at what her teammates would say about her missing the lake party. No one ever declined their much sought-after invitations without hazardous repercussions.

Although she’d graduated high school two months earlier, Amalia continued playing in the county’s summer tournaments to keep her pitching skills primed for college games. Risking a loss of the unexpectedly received scholarship—as it was the only reason she could afford to go away to school—was not an option. After practice, where she conveniently forgot to tell her teammates about missing the upcoming lake party, Amalia worked side-by-side with her father for a few hours and avoided any further trouble with her mother at home. Once Amalia climbed into bed that evening exhausted from an emotionally and physically grueling afternoon, she drifted asleep clutching her pillow and wished things would somehow improve the next day.

****

The following morning, Janet took the family’s only car to the First Baptist’s services leaving Amalia and Peter to trudge the two-mile distance to the center of town. Graeme Hardware Store was part of the town’s original train depot when first built in the mid-nineteenth century. Shortly before World War I, the train line was re-routed to a larger city a few miles away. This prompted Brant’s town council to vote in favor of converting the train depot into a lunch café and expanding the footprints of local shops hoping it would draw more income from surrounding villages. The loss of the train station left Graeme Hardware Store with far fewer customers managing barely enough to keep afloat during a good year.

Peter unlocked the store and began his morning routine to review the previous day’s sales and prepare the inventory. While he dragged a rolling stand filled with buckets of nails and screws to the exterior porch of the store, Amalia brewed a fresh pot of strong coffee. She retrieved a starter till from the safe under the desk and counted a hundred dollars in small bills and coins, then placed it in the cash register atop the laminate countertop. She grabbed a few dollars to buy breakfast from the local café and strolled to the front of the store. The sharp clank of the bell loosely hung by a nylon cord on the door bounced off all the metal tools and reverberated throughout the building. Amalia held the outer screen door to prevent it from slamming shut and made a mental note to convince her father to repair the hinge that afternoon. Customers didn’t appreciate buying tools from a hardware store with a broken front door.

“I’ll be right back, Daddy.” Amalia bounded down three short steps and traveled the building’s main wooden pathway. Frustrated by the inability to meet the girls from the softball team the prior night, Amalia recoiled at how much of an encumbrance Brant had become to her over the years. She often daydreamed of leaving it all behind but remembered no one had ever escaped. She scoffed at her emotions, slid her fingers across the pathway’s splintered handrails, and ignored the desire to run deep into the woods.

Father Figure Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/FatherFigure

Paperback: http://mybook.to/fatherfigurepb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/fatherfigurelp

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Sugarcoated by @ErinNicholas #NewRelease #Romance


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“Sugarcoated is hot, funny, and so adorably swoon-worthy, it’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!” – Katana Collins, author

Sugarcoated, an all-new sweet and sexy standalone romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Erin Nicholas is available now!

Sugarcoated300

A hot, funny brother’s best friend rom com…with sugar on top!

She’s his best friend’s little sister. He’s known her all his life. He’s practically part of the family. There is nothing either of them could do to surprise the other at this point.

Then she showed up in his bedroom in lingerie and asked him to take her V-card.

Now, that was a surprise.

Aiden is pretty sure Zoe was equally surprised when he told her no.

To say that he didn’t handle it well would be a massive understatement. Almost as massive as the amount of work he’s going to have to do now to convince her that he wants her. Forever.

Right after he tells her that he’s bought the company that’s her bakery’s biggest competitor.

Maybe if he tells her he’s in love with her first, that will help sugarcoat the whole we’re-rivals-in-business-now thing.

So, first “I’m in love with you”, then “take off your clothes”, then “I’m now your business adversary”.

Piece of cake.

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Download your copy today! Amazon: https://amzn.to/3bjel3L Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/sugarcoated Apple Books: https://apple.co/36BvxzB Nook: http://bit.ly/39UU6t5 Kobo: http://bit.ly/37Lz6Dk Google Play: https://bit.ly/2Wxondp Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/36Etef8

About Erin Nicholas

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas has been writing romances almost as long as she’s been reading them. To date, she’s written over thirty sexy, contemporary novels that have been described as “toe-curling,” “enchanting,” “steamy,” and “fun.” She adores reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines, and happily ever afters.

Erin lives in the Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her husband (who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books), her kids (who will never read the sex scenes in her books), and her family and friends (who claim to be “shocked” by the sex scenes in her books).

Connect with Erin

Website: http://bit.ly/2NkB2uF Facebook: http://bit.ly/2tdTM8e Twitter: http://bit.ly/2QLd1Pr Goodreads: http://bit.ly/3a3rnm4 Instagram: http://bit.ly/36NqV9y Website: http://bit.ly/2FM3Doo Stay up to date with Erin Nicholas by joining her mailing list: http://bit.ly/38a5Fv5

#BookReview- Simple by Anita Dawes #Suspense @jaydawes2


SHADES OF DELIVERANCE MEETS THE WALTONS…
Simple’s life is a painful nightmare.
He is one huge bear of a man, but with the heart and mind of an innocent child. He suffers terrible abuse from his vicious and uncaring backwoods family.
Together with his half-sister Leanne, they are hunted like wild animals and suffer the terror of nearly being burned alive as they try to escape.
Will they ever discover the joy of freedom?

Photo by Connor Danylenko on Pexels.com

My Review

Life in the backwoods of Eastern USA is not easy. The hardscrabble country folk live by their own set of tough rules and there is a price to pay for breaking them.

Leanne’s family are as much a part of the woods as the trees and carnivores of the forest. They are rough, cruel, and frightening except for Simple, a big brute of a man with a soft heart and the mind of a child. Leanne would have run away long ago, but she was too scared of what her Uncle Jimmy would do to Simple to leave him behind.

When trouble comes to the mountain, Leanne is forced to make decisions for her and Simple or die.

This is a gripping suspense with intense scenes and complex characters who practically leap off the page. Uncle Jimmy, Jack, Granny are all people I would NOT want to meet in a dark alley!

Favorite Lines

When Simple got worked up his words stuck, stretched out like an echo rebounding around the woods before finding the end of it.

Simple- Anita Dawes

Putting on a face, Gran always said, don’t mean you can hide what you are.

Simple- Anita Dawes

I fell asleep, listening to the rain and Simple’s mind spilling out on to the dry leafy floor.

Simple- Anita Dawes

This book is the haunting story of one young girl’s journey to a new life. It is the story of survival.

I give Simple 5 lovely kisses- Unpredictable!

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Sam’s Folly by Carmen Desousa #NewRelease #RomSuspense @Author_Carmen


Sam’s Folly Book Description:

When a bigwig fight promoter needs someone to search for his missing fiancée, he hires expert tracker Sam Belgarde and his search dogs. Sam is more than a little reluctant. His family’s company, Search and Rescue Alaska, is in financial trouble, though, so if searching for a spoiled socialite will save it, then he’s willing to break the rules–just this once.

After witnessing a murder, Nora Molina needs to get away–fast–and her best hope to escape without her passport is Alaska. A native of Argentina, Nora’s accustomed to harsh winters and high elevation, so she gets more than a little irritated when some tracker thinks she needs rescuing. Even if he is get-out sexy. And even if he’s the guy she stood up before leaving town. It’s going to be a long few days.

When an unexpected storm rolls in, Sam and Nora find themselves in each other’s arms–to keep warm. Things get a little too hot when it’s clear someone wants the two of them to stay lost–permanently.

Series Description:

Five brothers risk their lives to rescue those caught in the death grip of the Alaskan wilderness…and find their hearts in danger of falling for women as tough as the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Short Book Description:

The last thing Sam Belgarde has time for is to tramp through the Alaskan wilderness chasing a spoiled socialite, especially when he discovers she’s the mystery woman who stole his heart then stood him up. But the $100,000 reward her fiancée offered will save his family’s struggling search & rescue company, so he’ll bend the rules just this once. Once he finds Nora Molina, however, things get tricky. They’re both keeping secrets, she’s obviously running from something—or someone—and they’re having trouble fighting the heat between them. And making matters worse, someone wants them to stay lost in the wilderness…permanently.  

One Liners:

The Midnight Sons ~ Men as Wild and Rugged as The Last Frontier Itself

Links:

Amazon:

B&N:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sams-folly-carmen-desousa/1134089451

iBooks:

https://books.apple.com/us/book/sams-folly/id1483563173

Play:

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Carmen_DeSousa_Sam_s_Folly?id=ODW2DwAAQBAJ

Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sam-s-folly

Biography

Carmen DeSousa’s stories overflow with romance, suspense, a hint of humor and, of course, a few Kleenex moments. After all, what would a great story be without an emotional event setting the stage? All of her novels are sensual but not erotic, gripping but not graphic, and will make you cry, laugh, love, and hope. Although some of her books include supernatural or ghostly beings, her stories dance on the edge of make believe.

As most authors, Carmen blames her leap into a full-time career as a professional writer on her love of reading. She states that reading has always been an escape for her. When life was rough as a child, she could always disappear into a book. But she found something else too… She discovered that writing out her thoughts was therapeutic. Not only could she create hope for her protagonists, but she could also do away with her antagonists—legally.

Carmen currently lives in “The Heart of Arizona” with her husband of twenty-nine years and a very spoiled “rescued” calico they lovingly refer to as “Baby Kitty,” even though she’s twelve years old. Carmen and her husband love to experience different areas, so they move a lot. They’ve lived on both of Florida’s coasts: Cocoa Beach and Tampa Bay; Charlotte, North Carolina; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; Bullhead City, Arizona, the Northern Central Valley of California, and now Arizona’s high desert. They’re always looking for their next adventure, so they travel every chance they get. If you’ve read about a place in one of Carmen’s stories, she’s been there!

Most of her novels share her favorite hobbies, mostly, anything to do with the great outdoors. Both Carmen and her husband not only write, but also love to read outside—or a coffee shop if it’s raining. And if the weather is really nice, they enjoy kayaking and hiking. Carmen says they rarely spend their days off at a movie theater or the mall. In fact, she hates shopping, and her husband would rather do anything than take her to a movie when she’s already read the book.

#BookReview- Malice by @PintipDunn #YAFantasy


What I know: a boy in my class will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.

What I don’t know: who he is.

In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I’ll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I’m starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they’ve lost all hope in humanity? Well, I’ll just have to find a way—because now they’ve drawn a target on the only boy I’ve ever loved…

Biography

Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.

Her novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix del’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the TomeSociety It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.

Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and MALICE.

Photo by Matej Čurlík on Pexels.com

My Review

Riveting! Time travel meets end of world prophecies in this spellbinding #fantasy by Pintip Dunn.

Alice is a normal teenage girl going about her life until one day, a voice from the future informs her that she’s been chosen to save the world from a deadly virus.

Farcical?

The voice has a way of insisting that’s hard to ignore. Before long, Alice is on a life and death mission where every person is a suspect and murdering someone she cares about may be the only answer to solving a global annihilation.

There are so many elements to this story. The author does such a magnificent job of juggling them all into believable theories that she left me guessing to the very end how it would all turn out.

Favorite Lines

“Try.” The word is wrapped around a smile. “Reach for me. I’m waiting.”

Malice- Pintip Dunn

“I trust you because I noticed you long before you ever approached me on that basketball court,” he says quietly. “Because you bring two lunches to school every day, one for you and one for your brother. Because when I talk to you, sometimes you forget to blink. And so help me, that makes me feel like the most important person on the planet.”

Malice- Pintip Dunn

I love the depth and breadth of these characters. It’s impossible not to get caught up in their desperate fight to survive, and yet, it’s those quiet, intense moments like the one above that made my heart flutter.

I give Malice 5+ lovely kisses- Poignant and heart wrenching!

bursting with love
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#BookReview- The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot #Mystery


Three sisters’ secrets collide in a shocking novel of suspense by the Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Mercy Kilpatrick series.

Twenty years ago Emily Mills’s father was murdered, and she found his body hanging in the backyard. Her younger sister, Madison, claims she was asleep in her room. Her older sister, Tara, claims she was out with friends. The tragedy drove their mother to suicide and Tara to leave town forever. The killer was caught. The case closed.

Ever since, Emily and Madison have tried to forget what happened that night—until an eerily similar murder brings it all back. It also brings FBI special agent Zander Wells to the Oregon logging town. As eager as he is to solve the brutal double slaying, he is just as intrigued with the mystery of Emily’s and her sisters’ past.

When more blood is shed, Zander suspects there’s a secret buried in this town no one wants unearthed. Is it something Emily and Madison don’t know? Or aren’t telling? And Tara? Maybe Emily can’t bear to find her. Because when Tara disappeared, she took a secret of her own with her.

Biography

***For a free Insider’s Guide to my novels, visit KendraElliot.com.***

Kendra Elliot has sold over 7 million books, hit the Wall Street Journal top ten bestseller list nine times, and is a three time winner of the Daphne du Maurier award.

Her 2017 release, A MERCIFUL DEATH, was a #1 Amazon overall bestseller and has been optioned for TV.

She is an International Thriller Writers’ finalist and a Romantic Times finalist. She grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest and still lives there with her family, three cats, and two Pomeranians. She’s always been fascinated with forensics, refuses to eat anything green, and can’t wait to wear flip flops every day.

Photo by Max Ravier on Pexels.com

My Review

Secrets from the past collide with a modern day murder in this thrilling suspense novel by Kendra Elliot!

When restaurant owner Emily Mills goes to check up on a late-for-work employee, she comes upon a shocking crime scene. The woman is dead and her husband is found hanging in the backyard– a déjà vu moment for Emily who found her father the same way twenty years earlier.

A horrible coincidence or is there a mysterious connection?

FBI Agent Zander Wells is brought in to help the local sheriff’s department on a possible hate crime of a young couple, and finds a town steeped in secrecy.

As the investigation delves deep, a desperate criminal amps up his game, threatening Emily and her family. Will the truth cost the Mills girls their lives?

This is a gripping mystery with multiple storylines that all weave together into a surprising conclusion I didn’t see coming (Gotta love a good mystery!), but thought there were several threads left dangling by the end of the book to give it a 5* review. Racism is the leading factor in the storyline, yet the author doesn’t use it as a platform to teach us a valuable lesson- rather it’s sensationalized and then almost forgotten in the subsequent murder/mysteries that take place throughout the story. I feel that was an important moment lost.

Overall, a good story,

I give The Last Sister 4 lovely kisses

“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- Life’s Rich Tapestry by Sally Cronin #Booktalk @sgc58


Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.

Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.

This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.

I am one of those people who has led an eclectic life. My father was in the Royal Navy so we lived abroad several times and I only really settled down in the UK at age 14. My education suffered a little from switching between seven schools in different countries but I now have a repertoire of swear words second to none!

I trained as a secretary as my parents felt that my dream to be an actress and music diva was probably a little unrealistic!  I started well in my first job but a pregnant chair side assistant who developed a phobia to blood meant that I had to step into the shoes of dental nurse, a career I enjoyed before moving to the hospitality industry.

This resulted in me meeting my husband (known as room 40) nine years later and we had a whirlwind courtship over five weeks and married 36 years ago. We still have the whirlwind courtship moving over several continents to reach the final outpost here in on the East Coast of Ireland in a small harbour called Courtown. Luckily with the Worldwide Web it is still possible from this terrific place to keep in touch with all the amazing people we have met off and online.

I have spent a number of years in each of the following industries – Hospitality, Retail, Advertising and Telecommunications, radio and television and had a blast. I love learning new skills and eventually I might even master WordPress!

I have written short stories and poetry since a very young age and when I went ‘Indie’ in 1998 I combined my retraining as a Nutritional Therapist with this love of writing with my first book. I also began contributing columns in the media in the UK and Spain and my own monthly newsletter.

My first health book  was Size Matters which told the story of my journey from a very overweight 24 stone – 330lbs to a slimmish and healthier individual.

Over the last 18 years this love of writing has developed into another eleven titles, my blog and also into Indie Publishing in 2004.

Some of my printed books are available from me directly but here are the books that you can buy from Amazon in E-book.

Over the last 13 years I have managed to fit radio and Internet television both in front of the microphone and camera and behind in a producing and directing role.  So whilst I never became the UK Esther Williams I did get to perform without getting too waterlogged.

You can find more reviews and follow me on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Social Media connections.
I would love to connect with you on other sites too and here are my links.

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin

Books
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/author/sallycroninbooks

Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin or you can buy safely direct from my own selling pages.

If you would like to talk to me about guest blogging or to participate in any of the FREE book promotions you can find details at this link.

Photo by Natasha Fernandez on Pexels.com

My Review

Like the threads in cloth, Sally Cronin’s compositions lead us to a more fulfilling life!

Life’s Rich Tapestry is a variety of poetry, short stories and microfiction designed to engage the reader to look at the world in a different light. Whether delving into human emotion, nature, or flights of fancy there is something slightly magical about the author’s turn of phrase.

Here are a couple of my favorite passages:

Romance

When

a man

and woman

reach out and touch

one another’s souls

with open heart and mind,

it draws them into a place

that brings their lives significance,

with mutual empowerment and grace,

enough to sustain their desire through life.

Cronin, Sally. Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words . Moyhill Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Wedding Anniversary September 11th

On

this day

two people

young and in love

walked into the sun

of a September day.

Above them in the blue sky

machines of war flew in combat,

gunfire serenading bride and groom

on what should have been their

most treasured day.

Sixty-one years later on the same date,

an old woman reflects on her life.

Remembering all of the love,

still so strong despite her loss,

and saddened to the core,

that despite the years,

machines of war

in blue skies

still bring

death.

Cronin, Sally. Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words . Moyhill Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This is a beautiful book and one I would recommend to anyone. I give Life’s Rich Tapestry 5 lovely kisses- thoughtful and intelligent!

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#BookReview- Eventide by @MaeClair1 #Suspense


The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?

Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…

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 Jack Gittoes on Pexels.com

My Review

Read with the lights on good!

When Madison Hewitt buys an old house on the banks of the Yarrow River, she’s looking for a fresh start. Instead, she inherits a century-old murder-mystery and a malevolent spirit who is determined to stop Madison and her friends from finding out the truth.

Meanwhile, a vicious killer is on a murdering rampage in Hode’s Hill and leave the police baffled. Witnesses swear the ‘thing’ isn’t human and the victims’ wounds support their theory, but what else could it be?

This story had me glued to my Kindle!

Mae Clair seamlessly blends past and present timelines, gothic creatures, ghosts and complex characters to create an unforgettable story.

There were a few edge-of-my-seat moments that left me looking for the nearest flashlight, lol (You’ll have to read the story to see why), and the twist at the end… wow! I didn’t see that one coming!

I give Eventide 5+ lovely kisses- This is going on my re-read shelf!

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#BookReview- Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart #HolidayRomance


Madison Simcoe has had enough. She’s a cold, lonely workaholic who’s been harassed one too many times by a fellow worker, it’s Christmas and the spirit is gone, and she feels like a stranger in her own life. A little retail therapy should cheer her up.

Macy’s is huge, a giant store full of wonders, and Madison’s happy place. So when she decides to indulge herself, pushing through the big doors on a cold afternoon in December, she’s not expecting to suddenly find herself in 1947, unable to leave the huge building. And she’s certainly not expecting to find incredibly hot Johnny Larsen, former Army spy during WWII, with a buttload of PTSD, artistic brilliance, and bad attitude, looking out for her.

Bad things happen, even at Christmas, but there’s magic in the air, and Madison is inconveniently in love with a man who must be long dead. Surely there’s a happy ending among the mistletoe and holly?

Biography

I’ve been writing since the dawn of time. A child prodigy, I made my first professional sale to Jack and Jill Magazine at the age of 7, for which I received $25 (admittedly my father worked for the publisher). Since then I’ve written gothics, regencies, romantic suspense, historical romance, series romance — anything with sex and violence, love and redemption. I misbehave frequently, but somehow have managed to amass lots of glittering prizes, like NYT, PW and USA Today bestseller status, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romance Writers of America, and a decent smattering of Romantic times and RITA awards.
I live on a lake in Northern Vermont with my incredibly fabulous husband. My two children have flown the coop, but our two rescue cats do their best to keep us from being lonely.
In my spare time I quilt and play around with wearable art, and the rest of the time I write write write. Apparently women of a certain age get a rush of creativity, and I’m currently enjoying it. Too many stories to write, not enough hours in the day.

Photo by Alexandra Maria on Pexels.com

My Review

Madison is disenchanted with her job and the sexual harassment she faces on a daily basis. The holiday lights and gaiety add to her loneliness and she decides to drown her sorrows in the ritz and glamour of Macy’s.

The moment she enters through the revolving glass doors, she realizes something has changed; people are dressed in clothing from another era, but she assumes she’s stumbled into an expensive ad campaign.

Boy, was she wrong.

Johnny Larson is running away from nightmarish memories of the war and only wants to be left alone. But he can’t ignore the beautiful, confusing young woman who literally lands in his arms.

This was a different take on a time travel romance by one of the stars of the genre- Anne Stuart.

She has an amazing talent for taking a broken, unlikable hero and turning him into one the reader not only empathizes with but falls madly in love with. She is one talented writer and an inspiration to many.

Have you read any Anne Stuart books? Are you a fan?

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#BookReview- Good Luck with That by @Kristan_Higgins #WomensFic


New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

Biography

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 19 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal , People and Booklist. If you want to keep up with Kristan’s new releases and get a free short story, sign up for her mailing list at http://www.kristanhiggins.com.

Her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year. Kristan is also a cohost of the Crappy Friends podcast, which discusses the often complex dynamics of female friendships, with her friend and fellow writer, Joss Dey.

The proud descendant of a butcher and a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband. They own several badly behaved pets and are often visited by their entertaining and long-lashed children.

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My Review

Good Luck with That is a heart-wrenching story about learning the hardest lesson of all- self-love.

When best friends, Georgia and Marley, are called to their summer camp buddy’s deathbed it is a catalyst for change in their lives. All three girls had varying issues with weight loss, family acceptance, and ostracization and attacked the problem in different ways.

Emerson comes from an abusive background and uses food as a crutch, and later an addiction that ends her life.

Marley has a loving supportive Italian family, but feels unfulfilled both through lack of a meaningful relationship and the death of her twin at a young age.

When Georgia’s parents divorced she was left in the care of an cold, vindictive mother and brother with anger-management issues. She never felt good enough (read thin enough) in the eyes of her mother and the self-hatred carried into her marriage and caused her divorce.

This book hit home in so many ways. The dream as a child/teenager is to be accepted and liked by your peers. If you’re different in ANY way, the hyenas will rip you apart. It takes a strong family unit and a competitive spirit to survive those years- a friend you can trust helps, too.

I was one of the lucky ones. I kept my head down, did my work, and had a good support network. But, those years of doubt and anxiety carried into my adult life and contributed to the introverted person I’ve become.

It’s hard to admit that out loud. Overweight kids/adults would sooner be invisible than thrust into the spotlight. For some, like Emerson, it even means death.

Diversity comes in many forms; race, religion, sexuality. I believe body image should be included. Now is the time to change attitudes. Be the person who looks beyond the obvious to the essence of those who are afraid to speak and reach out to them.

It matters more than you know.

love yourself

#BookReview- Someday, Someday by @EmmaS_Writes #MMRomance


EVERYONE needs to read this book! Riveting, electric, and poignant. Emma does not waste her words. Every sentence, every line of this story was magic.–Kate Stewart USA Today Bestselling Author

How long would you wait for love?

Max Kaufman was kicked out of his home as a teen and his life has been an uphill battle ever since. From addiction and living on the streets, to recovery and putting himself through nursing school, he’s spent the last ten years rebuilding his shattered sense of self. Now he’s taken a job as a private caretaker to Edward Marsh III, the president and CEO of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Max soon learns Marsh’s multi-billion-dollar empire is a gold and diamond-encrusted web of secrets and lies.

The longer Max works and lives with the Marsh family, the tighter the secrets tangle around him. And his heart—that he’s worked so hard to protect—falls straight into the hands of the distant, cold, and beautiful son of a dynasty…

Silas Marsh is set to inherit the family fortune, but his father is determined his heir be the “perfect” son. Before Silas can take over the company and end its shady business practices, he must prove himself worthy…and deny his true nature.

Silas must choose: stand up to his father by being true to himself and his undeniable feelings for Max. Or pretend to be someone he is not in order to inherit everything. Even if it means sacrificing a chance at happiness and real love.

Biography

Emma Scott is an internationally bestselling author whose books have been 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.

RECENT RELEASES

A Five-Minute Life (standalone)

Bring Down the Stars (Beautiful Hearts #1)

Long Live the Beautiful Hearts (Beautiful Hearts #2)

COMING SOON

Someday, Someday (M/M standalone)

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My Review

Life-changing!

When teenager Max Kaufman is caught kissing a boy by his confused and angry father he is banished from the family home and forced onto the streets. Lonely, scared and depressed, Max turns to drugs and soon spirals into the life of an addict. It takes the help of a kind stranger to turn his life around.

Years later, Max returns to Seattle to attempt a reconciliation with his family and accepts a position as a nurse for multi-billionaire Edward Marsh of Pharma Pharmaceuticals, a vocal homophobic. Max would quit, but he is drawn to the dark, moody, and incredibly handsome Silas Marsh and can’t walk away.

As a teen, Silas battled with the loss of his mother, his father’s growing bitterness, raging hormones, and his sexuality. When he embarrasses his father by getting caught with the son of an acquaintance he is sent to a ‘boys camp’ in the arctic for 6 grueling months of torture. He returns a cold shell of himself and after a rough recovery, including a bout with addiction to pain meds, he buries himself in his studies and rises to the top in his father’s firm.

Then a new nurse is hired, a man Silas met at a NA meeting and all the emotions he was programmed to reject, the overwhelming attraction for another man- Max- threatens to destroy the tenuous peace with his father. At the same time, Silas learns of Pharma’s complicity in providing the drug to thousands that turned them into addicts- and for many, death. Love for his brother, who suffers from aspergers disease, stops him from leaving the Marsh heritage, and his father, behind.

The growing attraction between Silas and Max creates a world of problems for both men, but love happens whether we’re ready or not.

There are so many levels to this story, I can’t articulate all of them. Scott expertly twines Max and Silas around the readers heart- you can’t help but hope for these two!

Our country has faced an opioid crisis for years now. Thousands of lives have been lost- good lives. Fathers, mothers, children who should have the care and respect they deserve.

While Canada accepts and welcomes gay marriage, I am very aware that we have a long way to go in the way we treat anyone perceived as ‘different’.

It is books written with heart and soul like Someday, Someday that will hopefully make a difference.

I give Someday, Someday 5+ lovely kisses- get out the tissues!

“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- Through the Nethergate by @RobertaEaton17 #Suspense


Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.

Biography

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. Robbie has three short stories in the murder mystery short story anthology, Death Among Us, edited by author Stephen Bentley. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

Robbie has also published a poetry collection, Open a new door, together with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

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My Review

The fight between good and evil is brought to life in this spellbinding novel!

At the sudden death of her parents, teenager Margaret travels to Bungay to live with her aging grandfather in a mysterious old inn.

Before long, Margaret begins to see spirits of people who died horrible deaths and are somehow tied to the inn and the nearby castle of Hugh Bigod. The spirits, some kind and others malicious, tell the stories of the last moments of their lives and the part a large black dog with glowing eyes took in tying them to the netherworld.

They believe Margaret is the key to their escape, but dangerous forces are out to stop her at all costs, and soon Margaret is drawn into the fight of her life.

This book is filled with historical tidbits told through the spirits point of view that I found completely fascinating. The author seamlessly integrates religious beliefs and historical data with immersive storytelling.

I give Through the Nethergate 5 lovely kisses- a fascinating read!

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In the Dark by Loreth Anne White #Suspense #BookReview @Loreth


A secluded mountain lodge. The perfect getaway. So remote no one will ever find you.

The promise of a luxury vacation at a secluded wilderness spa has brought together eight lucky guests. But nothing is what they were led to believe. As a fierce storm barrels down and all contact with the outside is cut off, the guests fear that it’s not a getaway. It’s a trap.

Each one has a secret. Each one has something to hide. And now, as darkness closes in, they all have something to fear—including one another.

Alerted to the vanished party of strangers, homicide cop Mason Deniaud and search and rescue expert Callie Sutton must brave the brutal elements of the mountains to find them. But even Mason and Callie have no idea how precious time is. Because the clock is ticking, and one by one, the guests of Forest Shadow Lodge are being hunted. For them, surviving becomes part of a diabolical game.

Amazon

Biography

Loreth Anne White is an internationally bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the Overall 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award winner, and she has won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall, in addition to being a Booksellers’ Best finalist, and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner.

A recovering journalist who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the haunting mountains of the Pacific Northwest with her family … where she tries to avoid the bears, albeit unsuccessfully! When she’s not writing, you will find her skiing, biking, or hiking the trails with her dog (aka the Black Beast). Or open water swimming. She calls this work, because that’s when the best ideas come.

You find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Loreth.Anne.White
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/Loreth
Or connect with her via her website at:
http://www.lorethannewhite.com

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My Review

The Truth Shall Set You Free!

Eight guests board a floatplane for a luxury trip into British Columbia’s wild interior. They expect to be pampered at a fancy new spa, and maybe come away with new job opportunities- what they don’t know is they are about to become pawns in a game where the only outcome is… death.

RCMP officer Mason Deniaud is transferred to the back of beyond when he goes off the rails after the loss of his wife and child. He expects to face some vandalism and speeding infractions- not a serial killer.

SAR expert Callie Sutton knows her mountains, so when a call comes in for a downed floatplane her team is called to action. She doesn’t expect the handsome, moody new cop who insists on being part of the rescue attempt- or the horrifically murdered body they find.

Callie and Mason soon learn there may be more people in danger and set out to find them with a huge storm on the horizon. But rain and snow isn’t the only hazard they will face.

This is a fast-paced, thrilling whodunit that kept me guessing until the very end. As with all of Loreth Anne White’s books, her settings are eerie and atmospheric.

The spooky lodge, secretive guests/prisoners, cryptic clues, a sinister poem, and a chessboard with pieces that keep losing their heads (literally!) all add to the mystery.

I give In The Dark 4.5 lovely kisses- dark and gritty suspense!

that's dark
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Someday, Someday by @EmmaS-Writes #MM #Romance @jennw23


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How long would you wait for true love?

Someday, Someday, an all-new standalone romance by International bestselling author Emma Scott, is LIVE!

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Max Kaufman was kicked out of his home as a teen and his life has been an uphill battle ever since. From addiction and living on the streets, to recovery and putting himself through nursing school, he’s spent the last ten years rebuilding his shattered sense of self. Now he’s taken a job as a private caretaker to Edward Marsh III, the president and CEO of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Max soon learns Marsh’s multi-billion-dollar empire is a gold and diamond-encrusted web of secrets and lies.

The longer Max works and lives with the Marsh family, the tighter the secrets tangle around him. And his heart—that he’s worked so hard to protect—falls straight into the hands of the distant, cold, and beautiful son of a dynasty…

Silas Marsh is set to inherit the family fortune, but his father is determined his heir be the “perfect” son. Before Silas can take over the company and end its shady business practices, he must prove himself worthy…and deny his true nature.

Silas must choose: stand up to his father by being true to himself and his undeniable feelings for Max. Or pretend to be someone he is not in order to inherit everything. Even if it means sacrificing a chance at happiness and real love.

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Download your copy today or read for free in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon:https://amzn.to/337XYT0

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About Emma: Emma Scott is an internationally bestselling author whose books have been 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 heroes with a heart of gold, you will enjoy her novels.

Connect with Emma:

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