#BookReview- The First Girl Child @AHarmon_Author #Fantasy #Read


From the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.

Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.

Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.

Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.

What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.

Biography

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

Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com

My Review of The First Girl Child

Stunning visuals- this should be a blockbuster movie!

We are gently introduced to a larger-than-life world created by the God, Odin. A land called Saylok. Warring clans, an evil king, a curse upon the land, benevolent, powerful keepers whose runes protect those in need; this story is a saga of treachery and deceit and a love that transcends time.

Bayr, the temple boy as he is called, has been raised in the cradle of the keepers, loved and protected by his uncle Dagmar. He has the strength of Thor, and when a fearless rescue brings him to the attention of the queen, young Bayr is commissioned to guard her baby daughter- the first girl child the clans have seen in twelve, long years.

Betrayed by Banruud before he was king, Dagmar’s sister cursed all of Saylok with no girl children on her deathbed, so the seemingly miraculous birth of Alba guaranteed Banruud his place as king.

Bayr and Alba become inseparable, and as the years pass their bond grows. But King Banruud has a plan for his daughter and it doesn’t include the temple boy.

There are so many memorable moments in this book, I know I’m going to be reading it again, and again!

Favorite Lines

“Be careful what you fear,” Ivo replied, grave. “We draw the attention of the fates when our fear grows too loud. The fates are cruel, and they will reward you with what you fear most.”

The First Girl Child- Amy Harmon

“We do not live to endure. We endure so someday we can . . . live. I have endured a great deal, but there have only been a few moments when I have truly lived.”

The First Girl Child- Amy Harmon

Her happiness seeped from her chest, ran down her weak legs, and pooled beneath her feet, leaving her as empty as she’d been yesterday and the day before.

The First Girl Child- Amy Harmon

Read this Book!

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 
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Tempted by Love @Melissa_Foster #NewRelease #Romance


Today we have the release week blitz for Melissa Foster’s TEMPTED BY LOVE! Check it out and be sure to get your copy today!

Title: Tempted by Love

Author: Melissa Foster

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Tempted by Love:

 Years ago, bestselling author Jack “Jock” Steele lost his girlfriend and baby in a horrific accident that drove a wedge between Jock and his family, keeping him from sharing a devastating secret. An aging philanthropist saved him from the brink of despair, and for a decade Jock cared for his ailing friend who became his family. Now his friend has passed away and left him a fortune—on the condition that he publishes another book. Jock is floundering, unsure how to rebuild the life he’d walked away from, much less find his muse, have another relationship with a woman, or even think about having a family of his own. But he can’t get his sweet, sexy new friend, single-mother Daphne Zablonski out of his head, and her adorable toddler must know something he doesn’t, because she wraps her tiny fingers around his heart and won’t let go.

Daphne has been through the wringer with her ex-husband and doesn’t believe true love is in the cards for her. Friends she can handle, but letting a man see her mom bod naked? Especially someone as strikingly handsome and unbelievably sexy as Jock? No, thank you. Besides, she has a toddler to chase after and enough fictional boyfriends to fill her lonely nights. If only her book boyfriends could make her body tingle the way one look from her mysterious neighbor does.

As Jock and Daphne’s friendship turns to something too tempting to deny, their lives take an unexpected turn. Can a man who has lost everything find redemption with a woman who has everything to lose? And then there’s that secret…

Get Your Copy Today:

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Excerpt

DAPHNE ZABLONSKI WAS running late again. Her entire life had been running just south of on time since her daughter, Hadley, was born nearly three years ago. Luckily, the friends she and Hadley were meeting for breakfast were very understanding, as were her bosses, Drake and Rick Savage and Dean Masters, the owners of Bayside Resort, where she worked as the office administrator. She only had to walk next door for breakfast, which was great, but first she had to get out the door, and she couldn’t shake the feeling she was forgetting something. Hadley’s backpack, bird, lunch, snacks, water bottle…?

She glanced at her honey-haired daughter sitting on the floor by the coffee table playing with her favorite toy, a stuffed bird given to her by Dean’s brother Jett. Jett was one of only a handful of people her little girl gifted with a smile. Hadley withheld her adorable toothy grins as if she had only a limited supply, which sometimes saddened, and often worried, Daphne. Hadley’s latest obsession, for whom she had an endless supply of smiles, was Jack “Jock” Steele, who was quite possibly the most gorgeous man Daphne had ever set her eyes on, and equally mysterious. When Hadley wasn’t around, Jock came across as an intriguing gentleman who knew far more about etiquette than Daphne probably ever would. But all that disappeared the minute he set eyes on her little girl. While Hadley would give her baby teeth to be in Jock’s arms, Jock cringed every time she was near him.

Story of my life.

Being a single mother was hard enough. Having to dodge emotionally unavailable hot guys because of her daughter’s penchant for them made it even more difficult.

“Go now?” Hadley turned serious blue eyes to Daphne. “See my baby?”

Rick and his wife, Desiree, had recently had a baby boy, Aaron, and Hadley was madly in love with him.

“Not yet, chickadee. Mommy needs to figure out what I’m forgetting.” And make sure the coast is clear.

She and Hadley lived above the resort’s main office. Jock had rented a cottage there for the next few months, and Hadley made a beeline for the tall, darkly handsome cringer every time she saw him. Daphne had to time their exits carefully, or she’d be forced to endure that beautiful man looking like he wanted to bolt at the sight of her precious little girl.

She hurried to the window for her morning spying mission. Although Jock rarely came out at night, mornings were a different story. Sometimes he sat outside with his laptop, writing, she assumed, but other times he went running with her bosses. Daphne didn’t know much about Jock’s current life, although she knew he was from Silver Island, near Martha’s Vineyard, had written a bestselling book when he was in college, and then he had spent a decade taking care of Harvey Fine, an aging philanthropist. Harvey was Daphne’s friend Tegan’s great-uncle. He had passed away last summer, and from what Tegan had said, the loss had torn Jock up. He’d taken off to travel and had returned a few months ago to help Tegan with her late uncle’s amphitheater business.

Daphne peered past the array of cottages flanking the recreation center to the glorious view of Cape Cod Bay and allowed her gaze to linger there for a few seconds, hoping it would calm her quickening pulse. But just as it had since Jock had moved in, her stupid heart beat faster as she shifted her gaze to cottage number three. She felt like a stalker, noting that there were no lights on and there was no movement in the yard. If Jock was going running this morning, he’d meet up with Rick or Dean. Daphne glanced toward the inn where Rick and Desiree lived and then in the direction of Dean’s cottage and breathed a sigh of relief. The coast was clear.

Hadley pushed to her feet in her bright-yellow shorts and cute white shirt with tiny pink bows all over it and toddled to the door. “Go now?”

“Yes!” Daphne hurried to the foyer, shouldered her purse and Hadley’s backpack, and pulled the door open. As Hadley toddled out with bare feet, Daphne groaned, realizing what she’d forgotten. “Hold on, Had. We forgot your shoes.”

No wait.” Hadley plopped onto her butt on the top step.

Hadley,” Daphne said in her best warning voice, causing Hadley to huff out a breath. Daphne peeked inside and snagged her daughter’s sandals from the foyer.

She hated that their mornings were always rushed. It seemed no matter how early they got up, they still ran behind. But she’d figured out a few time-saving tricks, like putting Hadley’s backpack in the car before meeting her friends for breakfast so she wouldn’t have to trudge back upstairs with her little curmudgeon, which could cost them an additional ten minutes. Longer if her newly potty-trained princess needed to go to the bathroom, because Hadley insisted on stripping naked every time she used the potty. But family and friends were important to Daphne, and she’d rather give Hadley the fun of a quick breakfast with friends who cherished her as much as Daphne did and allow her to spend a few minutes loving up baby Aaron than just send her off to daycare as if that were the most significant part of their day.

Now, Mommy?” Hadley asked as Daphne shut the door.

“Yes. Go.” She locked the door as Hadley slid down the steps on her bottom, making a singsong “Ahhaahha” noise as she went.

Daphne followed her down and pushed open the door that led into the resort offices. There was another set of steps that led from Daphne’s bedroom balcony to the ground below, but the steps were too steep for Hadley, so they almost always used the office entrance.

She nudged Hadley along. “Come on, baby. We’re late.” They hurried past her desk, and Daphne unlocked the front door and pushed it open. A wave of dry heat held the promise of another summer scorcher.

Hadley rushed out the door, turning around on her belly to slide down the front steps.

“Wait for me,” Daphne said as she locked the office door.

Huwwy.” Hadley popped up to her feet in the grass, immediately hopping from one foot to the other. “Pokey! Pokey! Pokey!”

“Sit down on the step. Let’s put on your sandals.”

“I do it!” Hadley plunked down in the grass. “Pokey legs!” She rocked on her butt from side to side.

“Sit on the steps, honey.”

Hadley shook her head, lips pursed, brows furrowed.

“Suit yourself.” Daphne handed her the sandals. There were only so many battles a mother could fight, and pokey grass on her daughter’s legs was not one of them.

The offices were located across the gravel road from the tennis courts and pool, which were busy all summer long and would come to life in another hour or two. Daphne always parked in front of the office, so she wouldn’t need to worry about Hadley darting out in front of cars. Feeling the seconds ticking by like minutes, she opened her car door and leaned in to tuck her purse under the seat. She glanced out the driver’s-side window at her little slice of heaven—two wooden chairs and a small table tucked beneath the umbrella of a large tree where she sat and read every night. An anticipatory thrill moved through her. Her days were so busy, by the time Hadley went to bed, she craved the simple, quiet spot.

“Okay, little miss. Ready?” She turned around and found Hadley’s stuffed bird lying on the ground and her daughter running across the grass toward Jock. He was coming out of his cottage with Rick and Jett, all three of them shirtless. Daphne’s pulse raced, bringing beads of sweat to her skin, as Jock looked over—and froze.

No, no, no!

Daphne picked up Hadley’s bird, hoping to distract her daughter with it, and ran after her. “Hadley! Come back! I have your bird!”

Jock’s gaze shot past Hadley to Daphne. Look away. Please look away. She didn’t know if she was hoping he would look away or if she was telling herself to, but she was powerless to break their connection, and he continued staring, turning her into a tingly, anxious mess. She’d always been a curvy girl, and she was still carrying a good fifteen pounds of the weight she’d gained during her pregnancy. Her breasts felt like water balloons, her thighs rubbed together, and her belly jiggled with every step. She felt like she was moving in slow motion as his eyes drifted down her body, spreading heat like wildfire in their wake.

Dock! Dock!” Hadley yelled, running faster.

Her daughter’s pleas snapped her back to reality, and as Rick stepped forward and swooped Hadley into his arms, Daphne swore Jock took a few steps back. Ugh! She must be delirious to have been lost in a man who couldn’t even look at her daughter.

Hadley pushed at Rick’s chest, tears streaking her face as she reached grabby hands toward Jock. “Dock! My Dock!

“I’ve got you.” Rick rubbed Hadley’s back, trying to coax her into calming down. He was as sweet with her as he was with his new baby boy.

“I’m sorry,” Daphne panted out, sweat dripping between her breasts, as she reached for her daughter.

“It’s okay. I’ve got her. Catch your breath,” Rick said.

Jock turned an apologetic gaze to Daphne and said, “Sorry, Daph.”

“Here, give Hadley to me,” Jett suggested. “She loves Uncle Jett.” Jett had been Hadley’s pre-Jock obsession.

As Rick tried to hand her over, Hadley wailed, “Dock!

Daphne’s heart broke for her daughter as Jock’s jaw tightened. This was exactly what she’d hoped to avoid.

“Sorry, Hadley,” Jock said with a regretful expression. “I’ll meet you guys down by the water.” He headed for the path that led down the dunes.

“Dock! Peese!” Hadley cried, arms outstretched.

About Melissa Foster:

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa’s fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, and the Wild Boys After Dark. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented. 

Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.

Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website.

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#BookReview- The Summer Deal by @JillShalvis #Romance


From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes a friends-to-frenemies-to-lovers story… Add in a few secrets. Shake. Stir. Then read on a lazy summer day at the beach…

Brynn Turner desperately wishes she had it together, but her personal life is like a ping-pong match that’s left her scared and hurt after so many attempts to get it right. In search of a place to lick her wounds and get a fresh start, she heads back home to Wildstone.

And then there’s Kinsey Davis, who after battling serious health issues her entire twenty-nine years of life, is tired of hoping for . . . well, anything. She’s fierce, tough, and she’s keeping more than one bombshell of a secret from Brynn — her long-time frenemy.

But then Brynn runs into Kinsey’s best friend, Eli, renewing her childhood crush. The good news: he’s still easy-going and funny and sexy as hell. The bad news: when he gets her to agree to a summer-time deal to trust him to do right by her, no matter what, she never dreams it’ll result in finding a piece of herself she didn’t even know was missing. She could have real connections, possibly love, and a future—if she can only learn to let go of the past.

As the long days of summer wind down, the three of them must discover if forgiveness is enough to grasp the unconditional love that’s right in front of them.

Biography

Multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is … mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning heartwarming and full of humor novels wherever books are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures. Her most recent book, ALMOST JUST FRIENDS, was just published last month and her next book, THE SUMMER DEAL, comes out in June.
http://www.facebook.com/jillshalvis
http://www.twitter.com/jillshalvis
http://www.instagram.com/jillshalvis
http://jillshalvis.tumblr.com/
or email her at contact@jillshalvis.com

Photo by Kenneth Carpina on Pexels.com

My review of The Summer Deal

Brynn, Kinsey, and Eli have a past. As in summer camp when they were kids. And even though camp is meant to be fun, it was anything but for a shy Brynn and her cabin enemy, Kinsey- the girl who made her life miserable.

Jump forward a decade and Brynn is still trying to find her footing after a bad breakup. Left without choice, she moves home to her moms, and is suffocated by their well-meaning love and attention. When an opportunity arises to move into a room in the beach house owned by her one-time crush, Eli, she takes it hoping for a fresh start.

That is until she realizes who she’ll be sharing a bathroom with- Kinsey.

Kinsey is used to dealing with adversity, she’s battled life-threatening health battles most of her life. If that makes her snarky at times, so be it. She’s not in this world (for however long that may be) to please everyone. Actually, other than Eli-her friend-mate for life- she doesn’t much care what anyone thinks. Or so she tells herself.

But then Brynn comes back and suddenly Kinsey has a second chance to correct old wrongs, and maybe, just maybe make the most important connection of her life.

This is the heart-warming story of two half-sisters and their journey to each other. Kinsey broke my heart. She tries so hard to act the tough girl, when really she’s scared to let anyone in because she knows she’s going to die.

Favorite Lines

I’ve learned that being anxious about shit ahead of time just means I’ve got to be anxious twice. I’m no Miss Merry Sunshine, but sometimes it helps to just think as positively as possible.”

The Summer Deal- Jill Shalvis

You can’t make someone be your person. You can’t make them love you. You can’t hurry love up, or even set it aside. I know, because I’ve spent too much of my life trying to do just that.

The Summer Deal- Jill Shalvis

I give The Summer Deal 5 lovely kisses- an excellent read!

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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#BookReview- The Stones: Astral Conspiracy Book 2 by @STACITROILO writing as D. L. Cross #SciFiSuspense


He’s running from Astrals. Running with Black Ops. And running toward the end of the world.

Landon Thorne belongs to an elite group: he’s one of the few people who have ever accessed the Akashic Record. He discovers a weapon that could defend the Earth.

The Astrals want to stop him. The government wants to control him. Even his allies are hiding something.

Through it all, he has one purpose. One compulsion. He’s drawn to the Georgia Guidestones.

His journey is fraught with danger – bandits, cannibals, and ancient booby traps — but when Landon finally reaches the Stones, even he is surprised by what he finds. If he can decipher the code, he can save the world.

If he can’t? His discovery may destroy him – along with the rest of the human race.

Biography

D.L. Cross has loved science fiction ever since she was a young girl and fell for Major Don West on television’s Lost in Space. To this day, she still quotes the show, though her favorite lines were spoken by the robot and the antagonist. Parallel universes or alternate realities, aliens or dinosaurs, superpowers or super viruses, time travel or AI… no sci-fi theme is off limits and all of them fascinate her. D.L. Cross also writes other genre fiction under the name Staci Troilo, and you can find more information about all her identities and all her work at her website: https://stacitroilo.com.

Photo by Alex Conchillos on Pexels.com

My Review for The Stones by D. L. Cross

What a thrill-ride!

Aliens have landed, and they aren’t friendly. The race is on to save humankind before there is utter destruction.

Landon Thorne-the man everyone ridiculed for his outlandish ideas-now seems to be the key to stopping an alien invasion. He’s doing his best to assimilate all that’s happening, but the professor isn’t prepared for the high-stakes race he’s been pushed into. After a startling vision, Landon knows his next step is to reach the Georgia Guidestones- if he can escape a crazed madwoman determined to take over the world, travel across a country gone mad, and avoid giant bug-like creatures who want him for lunch.

Part of a rebellion force, Reverie Sterling is as tough as they come. Tasked with the assignment to find people in need and bring them back to the tunnels she calls home, she takes her trusted team and heads into a chaotic new world. She doesn’t expect to find new, annoying, friends or to bear witness to the ultimate sacrifice. It messes with her head and makes her doubt her ability to protect her team. But there’s no time to dwell on painful memories. Time is ticking. The world is changing. Survival is all they have left- or do they?

Favorite Line:

Silence so thick, it oozed down her throat. She damn near gagged on the bitterness. Knew something was off. Felt it in her bones, wore it like a prickly shroud.

Cross, D.L. . The Stones: An Invasion Universe Novel (Astral Conspiracy Book 2) . Sterling and Stone. Kindle Edition.

This is a fast-paced page-turner with so many twists and turns you’ll be running to catch up! I love the interactions between Reverie and Ford- they literally strike sparks off each other. Then there’s the priest who’s forming an army to do God’s calling, the uber-crazy AATIP Agent, Nadia Adler, an alien in a bunker, and so much more!

You can read The Stones as a standalone, but I recommend starting with book 1 in the Astral Conspiracy series- The Gate (you can read my review here: https://jacqbiggar.com/2019/05/20/the-gate-an-invasion-universe-novel-astral-conspiracy-book-1-by-stacitroilo-writing-as-d-l-cross-scifi-bookreview/ ) to get a better sense of the incredible storyline and a cast of amazing characters.

The Stones is a 5* + read!

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

#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- How Lulu Lost her Mind by Rachel Gibson #WomensFic


From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson comes the story of a mother-daughter journey to rediscover the past before it disappears forever.

Lou Ann Hunter’s mother, Patricia, has always had a passionate nature, which explains why she’s been married and divorced five times and spooned enough male patients to be ousted from three elderly care facilities. She also has Alzheimer’s, which is why she wants to spend the rest of her life surrounded by childhood memories at Sutton Hall, her family’s decrepit plantation home in Louisiana.

Lou Ann, a.k.a. Lulu the Love Guru, has built an empire preaching sex, love, and relationship advice to the women of America—mostly by defying the example her mother has set for her. But with Patricia suddenly in need of a fulltime caretaker, Lou Ann reluctantly agrees to step out of the spotlight and indulge her mother’s wishes, even if it means trading in her Louboutins and Chanel N°5 for boots and mosquito repellant.

Upon her arrival at Sutton Hall, Lou Ann discovers that very little functions as it should—least of all Patricia’s mind. And as she adjusts to this new and inevitably temporary dynamic with the help of a local handyman and a live-in nurse, she is forced to confront the reality that neither her nor her mother’s future is going according to plan.

Heartrending at times and laugh-out-loud funny at others, How Lulu Lost Her Mind is the book for everyone and their mother. Fans of Emily Giffin, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Shalvis won’t be able to forget it.

About Rachel Gibson

Rachel Gibson is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over twenty-five novels, including The Art of Running in Heels and Just Kiss Me. She has received the RITA Award, the Golden Heart, the National Readers Choice Award, and more.

When not writing, you can usually find Rachel with her ’56 T-Bird at Classic Car shows where she kicks butt, takes names, and thinks she Suzanne Summers in American Graffiti.

Photo by Andreea Ch on Pexels.com

My Review of How Lulu Lost her Mind

Lou Ann (Lulu, the love guru) keeps her life running in tip-top shape, everything except her eccentric mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. When Patricia is evicted from her third senior care home for her romantic tendencies, Lou Ann is forced to set aside an important tour to take her mother back to her childhood home in Louisiana.

The plantation is in rough shape, the mosquitos are huge, and don’t even get her started about the alligators, but Lou Ann vows to make the best of a bad situation as long as it makes her mother happy.

While a sexy cajun handyman works on the mansion, Lou Ann and her mother delve into a long forgotten past and reconnect with each other in the process.

This book explores the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s in a humorous, yet heartwrenching way that is bound to touch readers. My grandmother passed away a few years ago from dementia and I found myself relating to Lou Ann’s frustration, pain, and love over the person who had taken over her beloved mother’s body.

Dementia changed my kind, sweet grandma into one who was often angry and scared. I pray that a cure will be found for this brain disease.

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

Last Chance Beach #Romance #Reading @BonnieEdwards @LizFlaherty1


Last Chance Beach

LAST CHANCE BEACH is the island paradise where Dreams go to live again, and Wishes may come true. It’s Summer’s End on the island, and the cottages, condos, hotels, and bungalows are filled to capacity.

There’s plenty of time left to find summer fun and summer love, new romances and second chances, hot alpha males and heartwarming heroes, love at first sight and romantic delight, enemies to lovers and opposites attract.

Throw a log on the beach bonfire tonight and celebrate LAST CHANCE BEACH: Summer’s End, a special romance collection of 14 all-new short stories from bestselling and award-winning authors. These summer stories—created especially for this collection—will thrill the hopeful romantic in you. Some are sweet: some are sizzling! Some are humorous; some are serious. All the stories will make you sigh!

LAST CHANCE BEACH: Summer’s End will make you want to book a vacation to the island of legend and love, the place where soul mates find each other and love at first sight happens all the time!

Joan ReevesNY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author
When they met, it was hate at first sight. Now they’re stuck in the same overbooked beach cottage and horrified to discover they have the hots for each other!

Liz FlahertyUSA Today Bestselling Author
Their lives are planned out…until they’re not! Are they in love or just stuck in a habit?

Nancy FraserTop 100 Bestselling Author
At a high school reunion; old flames meet again. Can they re-ignite what they once had and take a last chance on love?

Caroline ClemmonsTop 100 Bestselling Author
She faces a hard decision; he encourages her to choose with her heart. Will the solution drive them apart or into one another’s arms?

Maddie JamesTop 100 Bestselling Author
It’s the typical annual week on the beach with the girls—until her summer fling from 20 years back shows up. He’s the one who got away. She’s the one who couldn’t commit.

Jan ScarbroughNational Bestselling Author
The kids are grown; her husband has an important career, and she wonders if she still loves him, and if he loves her. Can she turn back the clock to save her marriage?

Kathleen LawlessNational Bestselling Author
Of all the beaches on the coast, who shows up on her beach? Him! A former competitive surfer runs into her former love, and revisits all the reasons things didn’t work out for them before.

Bonnie EdwardsNational Bestselling Author
She wants a divorce—he doesn’t. What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas!

Marcia King-GambleNational Bestselling Author
She’s hiding from the paparazzi after a scandal. He’s the guy next door, an amateur photographer. Will he accept tabloid money for pictures of her? Or will he choose love over jumpstarting his career?

Kathryn HillsAward Winning Author
Kat must convince her Gran to move to the mainland, but Gran—and hunky neighbor Ben—want Kat to takeover the B&B and antique shop. What will it take for Kat to stay? Some of Gran’s special island magic?

Connie VinesAward Winning Author
She returns to Last Chance Beach to begin a new life. He’s a single dad on vacation with his pre-teen daughter. He’s worried his daughter may become too attached to her, but maybe he’s the one whose heart is at risk.

Laura HunsakerAward Winning Author
Can dreams of the future erase her nightmares of the past? She’s looking for a fresh start, but he’s rented the same beach cottage. One bed, two people? Whatever will they do?

Nora LeDuc
He’s handsome and in town for only 2 weeks. She wants someone interested in a fling. He wants someone interested in a ring.

Hannah Rowan
She won the big lottery, but doesn’t want anyone to know. He’s a fixer-upper specialist, but things aren’t always what they seem.

Excerpt from Hangover Husband by Bonnie Edwards

Now that Danny Carling had his career on track he focused on his next goal. Staying married to Stacy Leon. His little sister’s best friend had been tying him in knots since she first appeared in Jenna’s life.

A high school sophomore had been way too young, and he’d waited patiently for his crush to fade. It had taken years. He told himself he had not been waiting for Stacy to grow up. He’d moved on a long time ago, grown past the fevered dreams and yearning.

He’d had plenty of other women, appropriately aged and experienced and ready to say “so long” when his next assignment came in. Nothing in his life had been permanent. He’d chased every dream around the globe, taking photos that had won him awards, acclaim, and cash.

And then, last month, he’d gone to Vegas for Mason’s bachelor party while the bridesmaids had done their thing on the other end of the strip. As the men had wandered up the strip, the women had wandered down, crashing together somewhere in the middle. The only thing that wasn’t a blur was seeing Stacy, her luscious body glittering with sparkly stuff, her skirt tight and her top loose so her breasts could swing free.

Her eyes had widened when she saw him, and her lips had pouted when he’d pulled her into a bear hug. But she’d stayed under his arm and when the two groups separated again, they stayed together. Alone.

About the Author

Multi-published author Bonnie Edwards lives with her husband and pets on the rainy coast of British Columbia. Her earthy, irreverent love stories sometimes have a paranormal twist, like curses and ghosts, other times not. But her books always entertain and guarantee a happy ending.

With four ongoing romance series (Tales of Perdition, The Brantons, and The Christmas Collection) and contemporary family novels in her newest series, Return to Welcome, she rarely spends a day without writing. She has written novels, novellas, and short stories for Kensington Books, Harlequin Books, Carina Press, and Robinson (UK) although now she publishes her work herself. Learn about more exciting releases by subscribing to her newsletter Bonnie’s Newsy Bits.

Follow her on BookBub, a great site for readers and writers to connect and talk books!

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/bonnie-edwards

https://www.amazon.com/Bonnie-Edwards/e/B001IO9UTO

https://www.facebook.com/Bonnie.Edwards.Author/

Cocktails on Last Chance Beach is the companion recipe book to Last Chance Beach: Summer’s End Box Set – available right here at Amazon.

What’s not to love about savoring a fruity, icy cocktail in the dog days of summer? Or sipping a crisp spritzer to wake up your senses after a sleepy afternoon on the beach? Can any of us resist a tart margarita or the lure of a tequila sunrise during a beachside seafood dinner? Perhaps there are those who could resist all of the above–but not the authors of the Last Chance Beach: Summer’s End collection of romantic short stories set–where else?–in Last Chance Beach.

The authors have teamed together for this exclusive box set–chock full of original and never before published short stories–and to create this recipe book of our favorite cocktails to enjoy at the beach. Some of these cocktails are featured in our stories, and some not, but all are guaranteed to whet your thirsty summer whistle!

We hope you try out and enjoy each of these recipes soon–perhaps while you are reading our stories! We’ve provided a story excerpt along with each of our recipes.

The Last Chance Beach: Summer’s End box set features the following bestselling and award-winning authors and their stories. You can purchase it today at Amazon. Read stories and recipes by: Joan Reeves, Liz Flaherty, Caroline Clemmons, Nancy Fraser, Maddie James, Jan Scarbrough, Kathleen Lawless, Marcia King-Gamble, Kathryn Hills, Connie Vines, Laura Hunsaker, Nora LeDuc, Hannah Rowan.

#TuesdayBookReview- No More Mulberries by @MarySmithWriter #WomensFic


Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather.
When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. Instead, she must focus on helping women desperate for medical care and has little time to think about her failing marriage. When an old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.
Her husband, too, has a past of his own – from being shunned as a child to the loss of his first love.

Biography

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.
Mary loves interacting with her readers and her website is http://www.marysmith.co.uk.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543
Twitter: https://twitter.com/marysmithwriter
Blogs: http://novelpointsofview.blogspot.co.uk
http://marysmith57.wordpress.com/2014/07

Mary lives in beautiful south west Scotland and is currently working, with award-winning photographer Phil McMenemy, on an illustrated book on the town of Dumfries.

Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

My Review of No More Mulberries

When Miriam literally runs into the man of her dreams, Jarad, she doesn’t realize what a profound impact he will have on her future.

Convincing his family doesn’t come easily, but in the end their love triumphs and the young couple marry. Miriam takes to the cultural differences of her new country and thrives- until the sudden death of her husband.

Lost, desolate, but determined to raise their son in his father’s homeland, Miriam agrees to wed Iqbal and travel with him to his village to act as midwife in his clinic. Iqbal is kind and generous, but rigid in his belief of a woman’s place in his home.

Over time, resentment builds and when Miriam is offered a chance to get away to a teaching school for a couple of months she decides to accept.

What follows is a journey into the past for both Miriam and Iqbal, who carries burdens of his own.

This story is written with an obvious affection for the Afghan people and their culture. I enjoyed learning about a way of life so far removed from mine. Though Afghanistan has its problems, it’s a beautiful country with kind and caring people.

I give No More Mulberries 5 stars- this is a must-read!

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

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#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 

Crazy Hearts by Tara Janzen #BookReview #RomanticSuspense


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

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

He’d been right.

THE CHOP-SHOP BOYS OF STEELE STREET

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

Biography

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

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

Photo by Cesar Perez on Pexels.com

My Review

The Steel Street gang are back!

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

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

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

It’s time to take care of business.

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

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

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


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

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

Until Violet.

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

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

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

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

Biography

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

RECENT RELEASES

Someday, Someday (M/M standalone)

A Five-Minute Life (standalone)

Bring Down the Stars (Beautiful Hearts #1)

Long Live the Beautiful Hearts (Beautiful Hearts #2)

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

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

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

You can follow me at all the places…

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

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

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

Attribution: Amazon.com

Photo by Mark Angelo on Pexels.com

My Review

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

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

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

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

The Girl in The Love Song- Emma Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

We need to do more to change our world.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Biography

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

“Thomas?”

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

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

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

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

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

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

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

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

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

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

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

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

Release Day for Virtually Gone #MurderMystery #Crime


It’s release day!

Julie Crenshaw, Connor O’Rourke, and Matthew Roy are back! Virtually Gone picks up from The Beast Within‘s police investigation of murdered young women on Victoria’s Galloping Goose Trail.

Investigative reporter Julie Crenshaw stumbles upon the case of a lifetime–one that could cost her everything.

When Julie is called on to investigate a string of sexual abuse cases, she doesn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial rapist. Soon she’s in a race to find the facts before a killer makes her the headline.

Detective Matthew Roy is frustrated with his inability to track a rapist terrorizing his city. Added to that, his partner’s reporter girlfriend is dogging his every step and won’t heed his warnings. Time is ticking with the perpetrator escalating his crime to murder. Matt needs to find the killer soon, or chance losing someone he cares for- the question is, how?

★★★★★ “This author is an auto-buy for me. Each of her novels including this one is a perfect mix of angst, suspense, humor, and steaminess.”

Exclusive Excerpt

Julie sat at her computer in the madhouse that was VIBS headquarters and tried to concentrate. Something about the way Matt had avoided her questions bothered her. Of course, it was part of the dance journalists and the police did on a regular basis. Death was always awful, but this seemed… different. If only she could put her finger on it.

“Hey, Doll-face, what do you have there?” Henderson invaded her personal bubble to watch the playback of her interview with the detective.

Julie frowned at the cutesy name tag but moved aside so Ron could see. When she’d first transferred here from Chicago, the chip on her shoulder had clashed with the laid-back attitude of the station’s lead reporter. It had taken a near-death experience—her second one—to make her realize he was a good guy under all that persuasive charm.

She eyed the half-eaten donut in his hand and her stomach grumbled, reminding her she’d been running late this morning and hadn’t stopped to eat. And then she remembered why she’d been running late and smiled.

Of course, he caught the lustful look in her eyes and attributed it to his food. He shoved the thing in his mouth and swallowed it down. “Sorry, I’d share, but…”

“But you’re a pig,” she said, humor restored. “And furthermore, it was your turn to buy.”

“Hey.” He threw his hands in the air, sending grains of sugar scattering. “I did buy. They just didn’t make it through the door.” His smile was pure mischief and had the desired effect of making her laugh. “That’s better,” he said. “You were looking grim when I arrived.”

She sobered and nodded toward the screen, frozen on a seemingly peaceful bridge with broadleaf maples shading the walkway. “There was another sexual assault,” she said. “The victim didn’t survive this time.”

Ron stared at her for a moment before using his foot to tug an office chair from across the cluttered aisle to her side. He sat, knees butting into hers, and grasped her hands. “Listen, Jules, I know you want to do your job, but after what you’ve been through, maybe you should give this one a pass.”

He was talking about the ABC Killer who’d almost taken her life, of course. But he hadn’t, and it was all the more reason she needed to investigate stories like these. If she could save just one woman from the terror she’d felt, or the horror the woman today had gone through, it was up to her to do that. A calling almost. Besides, if it was Ron, he would never quit.

“I can’t,” she said simply.

On Sale for a limited time- $0.99

Virtually Gone: A Mended Souls Novel (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 6)

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085PQTV69

International: https://books2read.com/VirtuallyGone

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/virtually-gone-a-mended-souls-novel-high-tech-crime-solvers-book-6-by-jacquie-biggar

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52329219-virtually-gone

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


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

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

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

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

Attribution- Amazon

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

Favorite Lines

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

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

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

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

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

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

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

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Twilight’s Encore #Romsuspense #Read #mgtab


Twilight’s Encore- Wounded Hearts Book 3 is Free! One man’s betrayal will seal another’s fate. Ty Garrett fell in love with Katy Fowler from the moment they’d met. When her father’s betrayal yanks the young couple apart, Ty becomes bitter. After a decade away, Katy returns to Tidal Falls with plans to get married in… Continue reading →

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – New Releases, #Writers Pre-Order Lizzie Chantree, #Writers P.C. Zick, #Romance Jacquie Biggar


Originally posted on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine:
Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore update with new releases, reviews and offers for authors on the shelves. A new non-fiction guide to book marketing from Lizzie Chantree – Networking for Writers: A Fun Way to Sell More Books on Pre-Order at £1.99/$2.99 for October 29th. About the book…

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

I love having guests on the blog. If you have a new release, a sale or just want to chat, send me an email via the contact page and we’ll set something up. Hope to see you soon!

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

Summer Thrills Fireworks Party- High-Tech Crime Solvers- #mystery #suspense #Reads


Join us: Summer Thrills Fireworks!

My author friends have joined forces to bring you a new series: High-Tech Crime Solvers

BUY NOW ON AMAZON

Join our killer party as a GOING guest for a chance to win books!

Summer Thrills Fireworks!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Attribution- Amazon.com

Biography

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

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

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

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

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

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


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

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

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

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

Attribution- Amazon.com

Biography

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

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

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

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#BookReview- Brazos Wind by @JanSikes3 #Western


War-torn drifter, Jack McClean is left with nothing but bad memories, scars, and a restless soul. When he stumbles upon a burning homestead, and an unconscious woman, beside the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, he stops to render aid. Grieving widow, Savannah Logan, sees no reason to live, and only wants to join her… Continue reading →

#NewRelease- Perfectly Imperfect #RomCom #Romance


Today is the Day! Perfectly Imperfect is live! I’m thrilled to share my new romantic comedy with you today, and it’s my mom’s birthday! 2020 has been (and still is) a tough year for many, including Mom. She ended up in the hospital on Mother’s day 😦 and was there for a month. Since then,… Continue reading →

Fiction in a Flash Challenge 17- #WritingCommunity #amwriting @pursoot


Fiction in a Flash Challenge #17 The week’s flash fiction challenge is titled Message in a Bottle. Join here on Suzanne Burke’s inspiring blog: https://sooozburkeauthor.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/fiction-in-a-flash-challenge-week-17-new-image-prompt-join-in-the-funpursoot-iartg-asmsg-writingcommunity/ The sand is cool and grainy under my toes, a refreshing relief from the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. I’ve been walking this mostly deserted beach for hours,… Continue reading →

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

Watching Glass Shatter by James j. Cudney #amreading #Drama @jamescudney4


If you haven’t tried a James J. Cudney book, now is the perfect time!

His writing is filled with family dynamics, something that appeals to me. I’ve read, and enjoyed, many of Jay’s books (you can check out my review for Haunted House Ghost here, Academic Curveball here, and Father Figure here. Needless to say, I’m a fan!

May is a big month. All of James J. Cudney’s books will be discounted for a few days at some point. This week, it’s Watching Glass Shatter, his debut 2017 novel about a family drama imploding from a bounty of secrets. Download the Kindle format here as it’s only .99 from 5/17 thru 5/21. Rumor has it that the sequel will be coming out this fall… maybe it’s time to get on board the Glass family train!

Book Overview

After 40 years of marriage, Olivia Glass thought she could handle the unexpected death of her husband. But when Ben’s will reveals a life-altering secret, she suffers a blow no widow should ever experience.

Olivia learns that she gave birth to a baby who later died in the nursery. Instead of telling his wife what happened, Ben switched the child with another. And as if that’s not enough, Ben’s will doesn’t reveal which of their five sons is truly not hers.

While an attorney searches for answers, Olivia visits each of her sons to share a final connection before facing the truth that will change their family, and discovers that each of them has been harboring a painful secret, just like their father.

Olivia challenges herself to re-assemble and save their relationships. But will the secrets destroy their family beyond repair?

Blog Tour

  • The book went on a 17-day blog tour at the end of 2017. You can read all posts via this one location by clicking here.

Radio Interview

  • The author was a guest on the Artist First radio segment on Tuesday, November 14th from 6 to 7pm. To listen to the recorded 1-hour broadcast for news on the book and author, click here.

Book Reviews & Interviews

  • In addition to Goodreads and Amazon, you can find a central link to some very fun and in-depth book reviews and author interviews here.

Get to Know the Glass Family

Cassandra M. Baker

Book Excerpt

Present, Memorial Day Weekend

Sitting in the backseat of his steel-gray Mercedes-Benz sedan, Ben switched the mobile phone to his other ear and removed the seatbelt out of his way, loath to strap himself in for any length of time. When its band rested tightly across his chest, he struggled to breathe, preferring instead to trust in his long-time chauffeur’s driving abilities more than a piece of nylon fabric hinged to a pulley. “I’m in the car heading toward you. I should arrive in twenty minutes.”

“Still happily married to the woman of your dreams?” Olivia’s lyrical voice echoed on the phone.

“Ah, my beautiful Olivia. The last forty years have been amazing. There’s so much ahead of us and still to come.”

“I love you more than yesterday.”

“But not as much as tomorrow.” He played along enjoying their frivolous banter.

“Please get to the party soon. It’s not any fun when I’m dancing a rumba by myself. Remember when we crashed into the instructor while taking those silly dance lessons, and she yelled at us for being fools? Oh, I never laughed so hard.”

“Ha, yes! We are quite the pair. No wife of mine should ever dance alone. At least not while I can prevent it.” Ben glanced through the car window, surprised by the speed of the muddy water cascading down the mountains as his chauffeur took the exit to their country club in Brandywine, Connecticut. “I believe tonight is the first time the whole family has been together since last Christmas. Am I right?”

“Yes, they’re all here now reminding me so much of the you I remember from our early days.” Olivia sighed and waited for Ben to respond.

Ben’s thoughts drifted while lightning crackled in the sky, and rain pounded the black-tarred roads around him. “Time flies by too quickly, Olivia.”

“You’ve got a few months left, then you’ll retire and have nothing but time to be a grandfather and a father doling out advice. Even if they don’t want to listen to us. They never do, do they? Wishing you could turn back the clock. At least we can finally take our trip to Europe…” She paused. “Are you still there, Ben?”

Ben snapped from the storm’s hypnotic trance upon hearing Olivia’s rising voice. “I’m sorry. Recalling their antics over the years distracted me. I don’t know how we survived five boys.”

Ben heard her beautiful snicker–about to tell Olivia he loved her–when the car swerved as it neared the final exit on the slick asphalt curve, unaware traffic had come to a full stop ahead. He dropped the phone from the unplanned change in direction, grabbed it from under the front passenger seat, and raised his head.

Ben’s heartbeat and breath paused significantly longer than usual, enough to recognize the encroaching overpass column directly in his purview and to accept the impending fate laid before him.

Whoever said life flashes before one’s eyes in your final moments never lived to truly describe it. In Ben’s case, although they only lasted ten explosive seconds, those moments managed to include all sixty-nine years of his existence, each image punctuated by a blinding flash of pure white light and deafened by the harsh snapping sound of an old-time camera shutter.

CRUNCH. Grinding squeal. Bright light glimmers in a dark vacuum.

The enchanting depth of Olivia’s cerulean blue eyes the night they first met at the opera. Their wedding day when he truly understood what it meant to find one’s soulmate.

SNAP. Utter blackness, followed by a perforated vibrant glow.

The Thanksgiving feast spent at the hospital when his sister-in-law, Diane, broke her foot trying to avoid dropping the turkey on Bailey, their ten-year-old Shiba dog. Seeing his granddaughters nestled in tiny pink blankets when his sons brought them home the first day.

POP. Sharp, dark void. High pitch release of pressure, then a translucent shining flash.

The white-water rafting adventure on the Snake River in Yellowstone National Park where his boys rescued him from falling into the cold water only to stumble upon an angry moose searching for dinner. The final family portrait taken the prior year when everyone wore shades of black and white for a retro-style Christmas card setting.

BOOM. Screeching whistle. Bright light fades to total darkness.

The parchment letters which held the secret he kept from Olivia, pawned off on his attorney to handle once anxiety and fear defeated any chance of Ben telling his wife the truth in person.

The car hydroplaned atop a few inches of the warm, pooling rain and crashed into the steel overpass. The collision immediately torpedoed him through the front windshield, shattering what was the well-lived but haunted life of Benjamin Glass.

A final burst of the bulb’s filament into jagged shards.

* * *

Despite Olivia’s tendencies to lead and control, she’d little ability to plan Ben’s funeral services on her own. Diane recognized her sister’s fragile grip on reality teetered on the edge, volunteering to go with Olivia to the funeral home to manage most of the phone calls, selections, catering, and organizing.

Choosing Ben’s burial clothing served as the only funeral activity Olivia handled without any help. After pocketing an hour’s worth of sleep and waking up alone the morning after the accident, she accepted his death was anything but a dream. The restless night highlighted a comfort she didn’t know how much she had relied until stolen by fate. Olivia thrust her tired body out of their bed, walked to the closet, and pushed a slew of hangers across the sleek metal rod reminiscing while passing each suit as though every year of their lives disappeared before her weary eyes. She searched for the one he’d worn to the Met’s opening opera the prior year. After weeks of shopping that summer, she’d finally convinced him to expand his horizons with a new designer, selecting a modern-cut, three-button black wool suit adorning him better than any other had fit in the past. Even Ben had admitted she chose correctly. And he’d rarely admit so, given she’d laud it over him teasing Ben for days. They enjoyed their game of one-upmanship over the years, but now days later, she knew it was lost forever.

The final burial service ended thirty minutes earlier, and although everyone else had left, she stayed behind for her own last goodbye. Olivia’s memory focused on the somber tones that had serenaded the lowering of Ben’s casket six feet into the ground. Once the skirl of the bagpipes blasted its sorrowful resonance, Olivia, standing a few feet from Ben’s freshly open grave, could no longer thwart the wrecking ball that planned to decimate any remaining strength. The slow, melodic sound sliced away at the newly loosened threads once tasked with keeping her heart intact and sheltered from acknowledging a widow’s pain. Her battered eyes betrayed any remaining fortitude she’d stored deep within her body, and as the chords of “Amazing Grace” resounded from the chanter pipe, the cords of her soul, once intricately woven into Ben, ripped from Olivia’s chest. The flood of tears from her stinging red eyes trailed her cheeks as she walked to the car leaving behind a single set of prints that marked an unknown future.

As she stepped off the cemetery’s grassy path, she pulled a black cashmere sweater closer toward her shivering skin to halt the biting frost growing deep within her bones. Ben always said her true beauty glimmered when she wore black and gray, complimenting her on the elegant silhouette against her ivory skin and dark sable hair. She kept her shiny locks shoulder length, usually tied back with a clip, and although gray had appeared the last year, the varying shades were regal and striking on her patrician face.

Olivia pressed her palm to her chest and lowered her head until she’d emptied a few layers of grief. She opened the car door and slid across the back seat next to Diane.

All that remained before her impending post-Ben world began was to tell her driver he could leave the cemetery, but uttering those words felt impossible. As if Diane sensed the struggle within her sister, she leaned forward and motioned to the driver to start the car, allowing Olivia a few moments to accept the beginning of her new life. While the car served as a false protection from the reality waiting outside the doors to its passengers, it also evoked a budding nostalgia.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. G. He was a good man.” Victor had been her driver for twenty-five years taking her to each child’s pediatric appointments, all her charitable foundation work, and every dinner with friends and family. “I’ll take care of you today, Mrs. G.” He checked the rearview mirror and nodded when he saw Olivia’s eyes, a quiet acknowledgment she’d heard his words. They sat in silence as Victor released the brake and inched the car away from Olivia’s latest prison.

Olivia and Diane had come from a poor upstate New York family where they shared a bed until they were nine years old, later pushed out of the door to work as housekeepers by age thirteen. Their parents told them only enough money existed for one to go to college, even if they could secure a scholarship to pay for most of it, and Olivia earned the lucky windfall. Diane believed school held no importance to her appearing content to remain in the small comforts of her home. Supporting her sister seemed easier for Diane than choosing her own path in life, focusing on anything but what she ought to do for herself.

“It was a beautiful ceremony.” Diane relaxed into the car seat. “The cherry tree you planted alongside the grave was touching, Liv. You’ve created a lifetime of memories for your family.”

“Is everyone else at the house?” Olivia pressed her fingers to her temple, pacified by the warm blood swimming through each one under her clammy skin.

“Yes, they’re setting up lunch. Only your boys will be there. We’ve spent enough time with friends and neighbors. I even asked George to stay away, so I could help you without worrying about him.”

George, Diane’s soon-to-be ex-husband, had attended Ben’s funeral service and conveyed his sterile condolences to Olivia. Though he’d been married to Diane for thirty years, George barely knew his wife’s family, not ever having an interest in other people’s children nor any of his own. Diane had finally grown tired of his cavalier attitude and vigilant penchant for ignoring their marriage, requesting a divorce earlier that spring.

“That was a good idea. You really should have dumped that unfortunate man years ago.” Olivia placed her hand on Diane’s noticing the age spots more prominently displayed on her sister’s than her own. Her voice stammered, but she held firm until finishing her thoughts. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me these last few days.”

Despite being a few years younger, most people assumed Diane was at least a decade older than Olivia. She’d grown out her hair the last few years and tightly braided it to her lower back, wearing the same dress as she had to her nephews’ weddings and other recent funerals. She hated to spend any time fussing with her appearance. “It’s a shame Ben’s brother couldn’t make the funeral.”

Ben was the youngest of several siblings. When Olivia called her brother-in-law, he could barely even speak on the phone from the impacts of grief and his aging mind. His children stopped in for the wake but chose not to stay for the graveside burial.

“No, his family has withered. Ben only had us left. It’s unbearable for our children to go through this agony. You first focus on your own pain but watching them suffer steals all remaining breaths.”

Diane fumbled with the clasp on her purse and handed Olivia a tissue. “And without any warning. It’s awful, but you’ll know how to help them through it.”

“I can see the pain in Ethan’s eyes, but he’s strong and will grieve privately. He’ll miss Ben the most. Ethan’s always been so focused on spending time with all of us, his grandparents… oh, I can’t…” Olivia dabbed her eyes with the tissue.

“It’s such a shame to lose his father when he’s so close to becoming a doctor. Ben would have been so proud when Ethan fulfills his dreams.”

Olivia nodded. “Matthew had to tell his daughters their grandfather died. They’re too young to understand, but it was dreadful for him to show them Ben’s casket. He keeps talking about all the father-son weekends fishing and camping at Lake Wokagee. They’d planned another one this summer.”

“They loved those trips. Well, maybe not all of them.”

“That’s true. Theodore has alienated himself from us even more than usual the last few months.”

Theodore was Ben and Olivia’s eldest son, and though she would always call him by his proper name, everyone else chose Teddy. Ben had groomed him to take over the law practice at the end of the year, coaching his son on how to act as a stronger, more respected leader and to become a less antagonistic man. Teddy’s actions were always packaged with a rough edge, and the tone of his words and speech pattern sounded robotic. Although Teddy had shown up to football Sundays and movie nights, interacting with his family always resembled more of an obligation rather than an enjoyment.

The car turned passing the corner where Ben had always dropped off the boys for the school bus in the morning on his way to work. A few heavy drops fell from Olivia’s eyes. She let them roll across her cheeks, reluctant to grant them total control. She imagined Ben lining each son side by side, inspecting his loyal soldiers, and patting their heads as he christened each one ready to begin his day.

“At least Caleb is back for a few more days.” Diane rubbed her sister’s shoulder. “You’ll get to spend more time with him.”

Caleb had only agreed to attend the anniversary party the prior weekend after much pressure, but he stayed in Connecticut for the funeral to grieve for his father’s passing. Olivia once thought Caleb would stay home with her and Ben when they grew older, but abandoned hope when he disappeared to Maine ten years earlier.

“Caleb’s hurting. I know my son. I wish he weren’t all alone. He needs someone to lean on… a girlfriend, a wife. The guilt over living so far away must be consuming him.”

“Caleb is strong like you in so many ways holding back to protect himself from the intensity of it all. I’m sure he’s got friends to look out for him. What about Zach? Are you still worried he’s using…”

Olivia interrupted. “He drove back to Brooklyn last night for work. I heard him arrive early this morning. Zachary’s actions are always unclear.”

Olivia thought Zach often spiraled out of control when he left his five-year-old daughter in her and Ben’s care unsure of what trouble he’d engaged in. She and Zach hadn’t been close the last few years, and despite a few attempts at a reconciliation, it always proved futile.

“Five boys without a father. We should have had more time.” Olivia leaned forward and reached a hand to the front seat to sturdy herself. Her head sloped toward the floor of the car when her voice cracked.

Diane rested her head on her sister’s back. “I know, Liv, but you’ll support them. You’ll remind them of Ben, and they’ll find a way to get through their grief. It takes time. Pain is different for everyone. You need to replace it with memories of something positive.”


Watching Glass Shatter Available Formats & Languages

Kindle: http://mybook.to/WGS

Paperback: http://mybook.to/watchingglasspb

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

Italian Translation: http://mybook.to/frantumi

Spanish Translation: http://mybook.to/elcristalpb

US Audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07X5MMVK9/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-162878&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_162878_rh_us

UK Audiobook: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B07X7H619V/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-162878&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_162878_rh_uk

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