Colleen’s Book Reviews: “Sugar and Snails,” by Anne Goodwin, @Annecdotist

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At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails describes Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

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My Recommendation

Diana, a shy and reserved middle-aged professor, enters into a relationship with the recently divorced Simon. This relationship causes her to rethink her past and her future in ways she never imagined. She realizes things can’t go on the way they are. If she wants a normal life with Simon, she must resolve the guilt she carries from her childhood.

This midlife crisis propels the woman on a journey of self-discovery. At fifteen, Diana and her parents made a decision that changed her life forever. Now, she has to deal with the reality of that mysterious trip to Cairo all those long years ago.

Diana’s past remained a secret, and not even her closest friends knew the truth. To make matters worse, this guilt eventually cripples her as an individual. She is reclusive and painfully shy.

By the time her secret is revealed, I found myself speechless, as I’d never fully guessed the true nature of her mystery. But this story isn’t about the mystery so much as it is about Diana and how she deals with the past so that can move on with her future. In the end, Simon didn’t matter. But Diana’s relationship with Simon was the mechanism that forced her to come to grips with the past.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Anne Goodwin, but it won’t be the last. I stayed up late into the night enthralled by the writing, and with Diana’s character. This is an unusual coming of age tale, even though the protagonist is middle-aged. Some themes in this book deal with sexuality, self-harm, and identity. This is a must-read for anyone who ever felt different as a child or misunderstood!

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Colleen’s Book Reviews | “A Diamond for Her,” by Mark W. Sasse; “Lockdown Innit,” by MJ Mallon; “Joining Don & Wen,” by Stuart France & Sue Vincent

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

I’m still playing catch up on my reviews. I hope you enjoy this eclectic selection of books. ~Colleen~

MY RECOMMENDATIONS

This book releases March 23, 2021

He loved her enough to build her a baseball stadium. With a tip of the cap to the works of W.P. Kinsella, A Diamond for Her is a historical and magical story of love between two people—Raymond & Rochelle—and two grand institutions—America & baseball.

In 1920, railroad man Raymond Blythe had a series of disturbing dreams—giant creatures with Greek names playing baseball. Determined to discover their meaning, he sets off on a bizarre quest to find a connection between Iowa, Theodore Roosevelt, baseball, and his deceased father. While searching for answers at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, he meets a young librarian named Rochelle Christy. This meeting sets him on another quest—to win her hand in marriage, even if it means he has to establish his own baseball league in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains.

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If you love baseball, this is a story you will never forget. From the creative genius of Mark W. Sasse, this fictitious history of the Winasook Iron Horses, the founding members of the Allegheny Independent League from 1921 to 1955 comes roaring to life.

“A Diamond for Her” chronicles the lives of Raymond and Rochelle Blythe told through the eyes of semi-retired doctor Charles “Shoeshine” Henry, who narrates the historical record of the Blythes and their remarkable team the Winasook Iron Horses sharing a sweeping view of American history seen through the steady eye of America’s favorite game, baseball.

Raymond Blythe remembers going to a baseball game with his father when he was just a boy. That experience causes him to have a series of dreams where enormous creatures are playing baseball. He knows there’s some kind of explanation for these odd dreams, so he sets off on the quest of his life to connect the dots between Iowa, Theodore Roosevelt, baseball, and his deceased father.

I’m not a sports fan… much to my ex-pitcher husband’s dismay. However, this isn’t just a novel about baseball. It’s also a love story and a historical saga that chronicles the beginnings of baseball, including the quest to solve a mystery. The ending caught me by surprise, and I marveled at the author’s creativity. I’m happy to report that I fully enjoyed the book!

Lockdown Innit is a poetry collection of eighteen poems about life’s absurdities and frustrations during lockdown. Wherever you live in this world, this is for you. Expect humour, a dollop of banter and ridiculous rants here and there. Amongst other delights, witness the strange antics of a swan posing by a bin and two statuesque horses appearing like arc deco pieces in a field. Check out the violin player on a tightrope, or the cheeky unmentionables wafting in the lockdown breeze!

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“Lockdown Innit – Poems About Absurdity” is a collection of poetry about the third wave of lockdowns in the U.K. because of the Corona Virus pandemic. Seen through the eyes of poet and author M. J. Mallon, not everything is as it seems, and we should take nothing for granted.

The Coronavirus has brought much of the U.K. and Europe to their knees, while here in the U. S. they’ve taken a more lackadaisical approach to the pandemic. Mallon shares the trials and tribulations of her life in lockdown through her poetry.

Her poem, “The Face Mask Rolls” left me with the haunting image of a discarded mask rolling down the road, clearly a metaphor for the despair this virus has wracked upon humanity.

This is a short, poignant collection that will forever remind us of a time when no one had control over their lives. A must read!

“Open up and get out of the way.”

This is the watchword, the only guide that is needed in order to engage with the land… the planetary being upon which we live. To let go of all preconceptions, to let the ego slide into abeyance, to listen for the whispers on the wind and pay attention to the odd, synchronous events that will happen if you choose to follow the breadcrumb trail…

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This is the second book in the Finding Don & Wen two-book series. This second book continues to explore the adventures of two friends through letters as they scrutinize the mysteries of ancient Britain’s (Albion) medieval churches. Sue Vincent and Stuart France are the co-authors.

The writing is poetic and almost spiritual as Don and Wen venture out into the English countryside, visiting the many churches that dot the land. They explored the interiors, the stained glass, and slowly they interpreted the symbolism of the medieval church’s secrets. That is where the stories unfold… on the stained glass they found dragons on hilltops and trolls guarding streams.

Their quest is a journey for knowledge, the chance to let go of all preconceptions, ignore the ego, and pay attention to the synchronous events around them. I was in my spiritual element. There was symbolism represented in the nine kites flying overhead and the sacred number three.

Sue Vincent says it best:

“It was a day of pure magic and the land, no matter where we found ourselves, would never again be silent. By simply paying attention, it was as if the earth was illuminating itself from within, whispering secrets it had been longing to share for millennia and laying before us so many layers of history, story and myth that we were as excited as children in a sweet shop.”

France, Stuart ; Vincent, Sue. Joining Don and Wen (p. 5). Silent Eye Press. Kindle Edition.

They filled the book with correlations between Christianity and Paganism, Odinism, the part the Vikings played in the development of British history, and yet, there were some connections that went much farther back in history to Egypt.

The deep affection that is so clear between the two friends adds another layer to their story. Savor the books and read them together. Here’s my review of book one, Finding Don & Wen.

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Colleen’s Book Reviews | “Wolfe Manor,” by Adele Marie Park, @Binky567

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

Once she lived a normal life, a good, boring life, but a safe one…

Abandoned as a baby on the steps of Wolfe Manor, Fianna was raised with love, secure inside its walls. Now her bubble of safety is about to burst. Can she save the home and school which once cocooned her when old fears overwhelm? Facing students at the start of a new term is frightening enough without nightmares resurfacing which terrify Fianna.

She may have a degree in teaching but will this skill help her?
The return of old friends sends Fianna spiraling down the rabbit hole of her past. Wolfe Manor may call her to be what she was born to be, but can she find out in time to save it from an evil only she can defeat? Or if she fails and Wolfe Manor falls, what happens when the evil faces humanity unchallenged?

Fantasy and horror writer, Adele Marie Park originally hails from the Orkney Islands. Rousay is a small, but archaeologically important island, dubbed “The Egypt of The North.” The oral tradition of passing down stories fired the young Adele’s imagination with tales of trolls, faeries, sea monsters, witches, ghosts, and seals who could change into humans. The landscape of the island fascinated her as moorland hills swept down through green fields to the shores of secluded beaches, where black volcanic rocks might be a troll or a sleeping giant.

Reading the Hobbit at an early age inspired her and in her teens, she turned to Stephen King, James Herbert, Anne Rice, and Storm Constantine to appease a mind hungry to delve into the paranormal. Throughout her life, she never gave up writing but it was an ongoing medical condition which forced her to give up work that began her passion to publish her writing for others to read.

Genres may come and go, but Adele’s writing encompasses a solidity which does not change; the overcoming of obstacles in one’s life, love, death, grief, and pain all infused with those supernatural elements that one sees out the corner of the eye or feels when one is alone in the house at night and a floorboard creaks.

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Amazon UK

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MY RECOMMENDATION

Adele Marie Park’s newest release, “Wolfe Manor,” is the haunting tale of a young woman born for one purpose, to save humanity—an enormous task for anyone. But, Fianna isn’t just anyone, she’s a guardian.

Wolfe Manor harbors Fianna and her aunts and a circle of friends who promise to assist her in the huge task of shutting the portal to the evil that has found its way into the world. Of course, you know there is dark magic at play. There’s only one problem, in order for Fianna to shut the portal, she must first go through it!

There’s plenty of magic to go around including some evil witches, a demon, and a few totem animals that really made this novel shine. Yet, the real story is witnessing Fianna come into her own personal power to fulfill her destiny.

If you love speculative fiction, paranormal fiction, and stories of women coming to grips with their own power then this is the story for you. I read long into the night, bewitched by the twists and turns in the story. If you think you know the ending, guess again. This was a real page-turner.

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Colleen’s Book Reviews

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

Since our move, I’ve read a few books I’d like to share to get caught up on my reviews. I’ll post each one to Amazon, GoodReads, & BookBub.

MY RECOMMENDATION:

The Rise of Gadreel is the third and final book in Vashti Q. Vega’s Fantasy Angel Series.

Using the blackest of magic, Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan figures a way out of his earthly prison by infiltrating a corrupt priesthood. As expected, it isn’t long before a terrible new evil invades the world.

Tired of the fight, Gadreel only wants to repent her past sins and find peace. She seeks God’s forgiveness, regretting her decision to fight alongside Lilith and Lucifer and the other fallen angels. She knows it’s now up to her and Dracúl to fight this new terror and to save humanity.

Along with a trio of extraordinary allies—a man of air, a man of stone, and a woman of fire—at her side, Gadreel finds the courage to defy her past and create a new future for herself and the world.

I’ve loved each book in this series, but Gadreel’s story was the most soul satisfying for me. The writing is riveting, and I read long into the night. The author weaves her magic by combining historical facts from the Dark Ages, along with a few tales from the Bible to create a story like no other.

Written from both the protagonist and antagonist views, the reader glimpses the battle between good and evil first hand—but not for the faint of heart. There were a few parts that made me squirm. Yet, in the end, I was sad to let the characters go. A must read unforgettable series!


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My Recommendation:

I was thrilled to receive The Magician’s Soul: A Paranormal Romance (The Great Dagmaru Book 3) from Linda G. Hill as an advanced reader’s copy. I’ve enjoyed the entire series, and couldn’t wait to see what this third and final installment would bring.

Herman and Stephen have a wedding to plan—that is, if Herman’s recurring nightmares would go away. Her history of prophetic dreams takes the couple on a wild ride.

Herman also has to deal with her father’s alter ego, Mona Lisa, whose character definitely creeped me out. When her cousin Rudy shows up, the couple learns that she’s a succubus who vows to help Herman come to grips with her own bloodline. The only problem is, Rudy is used to taking what she wants and when she sets her sights on Stephen, the book takes off with a bang!

The author weaves in some serious magical aspects into this story that I never guessed or saw coming. Look for Herman’s dreams to connect her and Stephen in new ways. Besides the magic, the actual story is the love shared between Herman and Stephen.

Another book I couldn’t put down! This series is one of the most unusual I’ve read.

My Recommendation:

I received Diversion, Breaking the Pattern #2, as a gift from the author in a Facebook Group contest. P.D. Workman was a new author for me, and even though this is the second book in the series, I had no difficulty following the story line.

Meet Sandy, a teenage prostitute, junkie, and con-artist raised to a life of crime by her own father. Really, all Sandy wants is to be normal. As things continue to grow more dangerous for her, the young woman struggles to come to grips with her life choices.

I was impressed with the writing, and how smoothly Sandy’s tale flowed. The author had to go to great lengths to learn about life on the streets in order to make this story work like it did. The trials and tribulations of Sandy’s life kept me guessing until the end.

If you love stories with strong female protagonists who fail forward to become a better version of themselves, this story will capture your heart. Sandy was an unforgettable character. I lost hours in this book!

My Recommendation:

Since I enjoyed P.D. Workman’s writing from the crime drama above, I tried one of her cozy mysteries, called Gluten Free Murder (Auntie Clem’s Bakery Book 1).

Erin moves back to the small town of Eagle Falls to start up a gluten-free bakery in her aunt’s store after she passed away. Everything is going great until the grand opening when Angela Plaint, the owner of the rival bakery down the street, dies after eating one of Erin’s cupcakes.

Erin becomes the prime suspect in Angela’s death. To make matters worse, even Detective Terry Piper thinks she’s guilty until a series of break-ins at the bakery steer them in another direction.

Small towns are filled with gossip, and Eagle Falls is no different. Soon the rumors about treasure hunting, drug dealing, and a missing boy propel Erin into a mystery she must solve before the actual killer finds her!

If you find your life in turmoil, grab a cozy mystery to pass the time and to forget your woes. This book is FREE, and I found the mystery to be a good read as it remained true to its genre.

To be honest, I preferred the crime drama to the cozy mystery, but you be the judge.

My Recommendation:

This book explores the actual experiences of two friends through letters as they scrutinize the mysteries of ancient Britain’s (Albion) medieval churches. Sue Vincent and Stuart France are the co-authors.

Don and Wen are characters in The Initiate (Triad of Albion Book 1), the first of nine books that tell the full story of what became a true spiritual journey. This book stands alone as a practical guide of how to listen for and to interpret the voice of the living land and its history from a unique perspective.

I enjoyed the relationship between Don and Wen written in the epistolary format. These letters are an intimate glimpse into their friendship and their love for British history. They seek to understand the sacred sites by understanding their purpose.

Ancient symbols are powerful reminders of the ancients who came before us. What better way to seek wisdom than through the churches built during Anglo-Saxon times? The remnants of the Vikings, depicted through Odin’s thunderbolts, the images of the horse and the white horse are only a few of the symbols discussed. It is apparent that Christianity and Paganism crossed many paths.

Through their travels, the two friends open themselves to all that is magical, questioning and seeking wisdom. In their discussions of time, death, and rebirth I found solace. At times, their research led them to more questions which could only be resolved through further esoteric discussions which let to another road trip!

I found the book filled with information, sometimes more than I could digest in one sitting. But it is their knowledge that kept drawing me back to reread sections more than once. I look forward to the second book in Don and Wen’s spiritual quest.

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Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a tiny amount from qualifying purchases. If you purchase from the Amazon.com link above, I earn a small commission to fund my reading habit. Amazon will not charge you extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in books that I can review. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Books You’ll Want to Read!

It’s been a stressful few months and I could not keep up with my book reviews. Normally, I dedicate an entire post to each book, but that isn’t possible right now. Instead, I’ve grabbed the highlights and shared what made these books a good read. Book reviews will resume after my cross-country move.

Let’s get caught up!

First up is “The Infinity Pool,” by Jessica Norrie.

The reader finds themselves on an island somewhere in the Mediterranean on one of those self-help holiday package deals that offers yoga and other activities at the aptly named Serendipity Resort. This is a place to find your inner Zen, mingle with the locals, and even confront a few of your own personal challenges. Be prepared for a book filled with interesting characters. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.

The camp leader is Adrian, a middle-aged ladies’ man, whose gift is helping other people restore and re-energize. Because of this, he is popular with the female guests, many who come back year after year to take his courses. Interestingly, through much of the book he is absent, so the reader learns about him through the other character’s observations.

By the time Adrian re-emerges, he is physically and emotionally changed and nothing like the man he once was. The contrast between the old and new Adrian and the personal reactions from the other guests are a true study in human nature.

Norrie skillfully weaves a psychological mystery filled with self-absorbed characters and situations. I highly recommend this one as it kept me reading long into the night. These characters have great depth!

The next book is “Bowled, but Not Out, An Entertaining Family Drama,” by Ruchira Khanna. I received this book as a gift from the author.

I enjoy reading books about other cultures, and the author’s witty reference to Cricket in the title also caught my attention. Not only is the author Indian, but she is also English, giving the book an exotic flair. To be fair, I had to look up some Cricket references, but that only made my understanding of the characters more enjoyable.

Meet Saru, a young woman encouraged by her father’s example to compare her life challenges to the game of cricket. When Saru meets Sumeet, she instantly falls in love with him. In a few months, the two are married and Saru moves to her husband’s home where his mother also lives. And that is where life gets interesting.

Saru’s mother-in-law controls all of her son’s decisions. Sumeet is a momma’s boy, refusing to cross his mother’s wishes even if it causes pain to his wife. The mother-in-law makes Saru’s life unbearable. After the birth of their daughter, Saru makes the tough decision to take her child, Simrn, and leave her husband.

The cultural ramifications of this decision also affect Saru’s family. In defiance of tradition, Saru’s parents wholeheartedly support her decision to leave, even when she moves to New York to create a better life for her daughter.

Saru is a strong and independent woman. Everything she sets out to do, she accomplishes. The story comes full circle, when her daughter, Simrn, gets married. Will her father show up to the wedding?

This was a fascinating glimpse into the family dynamics of Indian culture and to what extent the family unit plays in shaping personality and life choices. This book was a cultural delight that will have you cheering for all the strong women in your life. A must read!

The light romance called “Maggie’s Way (Montana Bound Series Book 1),” by Linda Bradley, is next.

Maggie Abernathy has her Michigan summer all planned out. After a bout with breast cancer, all she wants to do is to recuperate and rejuvenate. Her life as a second-grade teacher was especially difficult this year. To add to Maggie’s problems, she is also learning to navigate life alone after her recent divorce.

When seven-year-old Chloe McIntyre moves in next door with her dad, John, Maggie’s dull life takes an unexpected turn for the better.

I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down. The story was predictable, but somehow, comforting. The romance that buds between John and Maggie is even more sweet because of Chloe.

Chloe’s character clearly steals the show. The child possesses a certain wisdom that women much older than her often wish for. The only child in what had to be a difficult home, Chloe steals Maggie’s heart.

Written in the first-person, I immediately connected with Maggie’s character. There is a lot going on, and Maggie discovers she must learn to overcome some of her own issues before she can truly find herself. So true to life!

The only downside was that the book ends on a cliff-hanger, and you have to purchase the next book to continue her story. I understand it’s a series, but the author hints at a happy ending for Maggie and John. As is true in most romantic fiction there are always some difficulties in a relationship. It would have been nicer for this book to end on a high note. Still, I would recommend this book because of the interesting characters. I’m debating on whether to go further in the series.

That’s all for now.

Read a book and remember to leave a review. Authors always appreciate reviews!


COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “The Balad of Mrs. Molony,” BY AUTHOR, C. S. BOYACK, @VIRGILANTE

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book

Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exist? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up bloodsucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.

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International BOOK LINK

MY RECOMMENDATION:

Lizzie and the Hat are back in another high octane action-adventure! This time, the pair and their band have infiltrated the country-western music scene in search of a group of vampires who’ve captured a young woman to satisfy their thirst for blood.

The missing girl’s brother approaches Lizzie and the Hat asking for help because his sister is missing… there’s only one problem. He’s a vampire! To make matters worse; he has an uncontrollable lisp, pronouncing his name as Kuvun (Kevin). The Hat is ready to stake the poor guy because, well, you know, they kill vamps. But Lizzie is kindhearted. She wants to help save Kevin’s sister from the blood thirsty vamps.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… what’s wrong with being a vampire? Right?

Well, there’s a lot wrong with being a vampire. A quick trip back to the cabin leads the musical duo to Lizzie’s ancestors’ unique stash of “monster busting” equipment. The Hat explains the mystique behind Mrs. Molony and how to use it since silver bullets won’t kill a monster. To kill a monster, you either have to behead them, burn them, or stake them! Now, Lizzie and the Hat are ready for anything! Or are they?

Lizzie, the Hat, and their band jump into the county music scene hanging out with the cowboy crowd at the rodeo where the vampires that took Kevin’s sister were last seen. There’s plenty of hilarious banter between Lizzie and the Hat to keep you chuckling long into the night. The race is on to save Kevin’s sister before it’s too late.

Boyack’s strengths lay in his smooth storytelling and the dialogue between the characters. In the age of Marvel Comics, everyone loves a talented team, and Lizzie and the Hat are hilarious together. I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next.

If you’re looking for a fun Halloween read… Check out “Mrs. Molony,” and “Viral Blues,” and “The Hat!” They’re better than trick or treat!

I’ve read and reviewed “The Hat” & “Viral Blues”—find those reviews below.

Colleen’s 2018 #Book #Reviews – “The Hat,” by C. S. Boyack

Title: The Hat, A Novella Amazon Author Page: C. S. Boyack Goodreads Publication Date: January 11, 2018 Formats: Paperback & Kindle Genres: Science fiction & fantasy, Superheros, Paranormal & Urban   IN THE AUTHOR’S WORDS: Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her,… More

About the Author

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

~Craig~

How to Connect with the Author

Blog 

My Novels  

Twitter 

Goodreads 

Facebook 

Pinterest 

BookBub

Amazon Author Page US

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COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “Viral Blues,” BY AUTHOR, C. S. Boyack, @virgilante

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book

Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.

They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.

Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?

Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.

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International BOOK Link

MY RECOMMENDATION

Someone is tampering with the world’s vaccine supply, replacing life-saving therapies with virulent viruses that threaten to overtake the earth’s population. Sound familiar? Now, who’s going to fix this mess?

Remember the superhero comics you read as a kid? Personally, I loved the Fantastic Four! How can you forget the iconic figure of “The Thing?” So, now that you have that visual in your mind, imagine a group of unlikely players, an extra-terrestrial disguised as a hat who is an ancient monster hunter, a sexy robot-girl, a guy who can turn into fog, and a normal American girl named Lizzie who sings in a band. They all unite to combine their magical gifts to fight a bunch of zombies! Throw in some great music and you have everything you need to save the world.

Boyack’s characters are always fun. He lets them be who they are, playing up their paranormal abilities along with their inner strengths. This time, the heros rise to the occasion as they battle supernatural villains, swarms of zombies, and even some mob bosses. Be ready for surprise shoot-outs and a few near misses as the non-stop action ramps up to a fever pitch.

Just like in the first book, “The Hat,” the dialog between Lisa and the Hat is full of cynical humor that will leave you quaking with laughter. Their banter is always magical. They behave like two old friends who know each other so well; they know what they can get away with. As usual, the Hat steals the show.

“Viral Blues” is a fun read and perfect for the Halloween season. It’s filled with amazing characters and I found the story highly entertaining. Not my usual read, but the holiday calls for stepping out of your comfort zone, if you catch my drift!

About the Author

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

~Craig~

How to Connect with the Author

Blog 

My Novels  

Twitter 

Goodreads 

Facebook 

Pinterest 

BookBub

Amazon Author Page US

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COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “The Jailbird’s Jackpot (Faith, Family, Frenzy! Book 4),” BY AUTHOR, P J Colando

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book:

REVENGE REWARD REDEMPTION

Parolee Amy Breeden held herself together during nearly two thousand days of incarceration with a single-minded focus: to destroy the dude who did her in. 

Within hours of her release, Amy hits the lotto mega-million jackpot.“ Living well is the best revenge,” her parole officer advises, but Amy is hellbent on revenge.

A former Chicago crime boss, an estranged brother, a substitute mom, a zany house painter, a pre-imprisonment pal – and the handsome parole officer – complicate Amy’s quest for empowerment. When Amy’s longtime nemesis invades her haven, her ire ignites. She becomes more determined than ever to avenge herself.

The aging crime boss enjoins her mission. Victory is finalized when she’s able to buy her mortal enemy’s thriving bar in a fire sale… and becomes the Boss. But is that enough? Will revenge result in satisfaction? Will her personal redemption require more than revenge and the monetary reward to live well?

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INTERNATIONAL BOOK LINK

MY RECOMMENDATION:

Steve and Jacquie are the perfect Midwest farm couple. You sense their love for one another with each turn of the page. In Book One, called “Stashes,” Jackie and Steve Breeden, your average hard-working, dairy farming, salt of the earth type folks who live on a rural farm in Michigan. Their son Brandon and his wife, Amy, hatch a scheme to expand the Breeden’s micro dairy business by growing and selling marijuana edibles with hilarious results. 

Book Two is called, “Hashes & Bashes.” When Carl, who is Steve’s brother from his mother’s WWII love tryst who had been given up for adoption, suddenly arrives on the scene, the Breeden family welcomes him into their nest. The author introduces many new characters in this book, and you’ll laugh and cry at the same time.

By book three, “The Winner’s Circle,” you wonder what could happen next. How about throwing some lotto winnings into the mix? Jacquie’s friend, Bonnie, has fallen in love with Steve’s brother, Carl. When Bonnie hits it big with a lotto win, their relationship is changed in ways they never imagined. And that’s just the beginning! The four friends embark on a journey of discovery which leads them to some startling revelations about each other and how they view themselves.

Now, we arrive at book four, “The Jailbird’s Jackpot,” which gives a voice to Amy Breeden after she’s released from prison for embezzling funds from the local bank.

And what a story Amy has to tell. I felt like she got more blame than she probably deserved, but her early release from prison sets up the story unexpectedly. Guess who also strikes it big in the lottery? You got it… the parolee ends up stinking rich!

Amy finds herself with more money than she knows what to do with… Add in a crazy friend, an unstable brother, and a drill sergeant parole officer, along with a host of other memorable characters, and you’ve got the setting for a story that you won’t be able to put down! I never saw the ending coming!

There’s plenty of unexpected twists and turns as Amy learns how to deal with her newfound wealth. Yet, this story reminds me of the hero’s journey as Amy learns more about herself as she deals with unexpected circumstances. If you love powerful women characters, Amy Breeden just might teach you a thing or two!

Many thanks to the author for providing me with a pre-release copy of the book. I’ve read and enjoyed the entire “Faith, Family, Frenzy” Series by PJ Colando. Find my book reviews for the other books below:

Silver’s Book Reviews – “STASHES,” BY P J COLANDO

Title:  Stashes – What Ever Happened to Earn? Author: P. J. Colando File Size: 1011 KB Print Length: 350 pages Page Numbers Source ISBN: Publisher: Bookbaby, 1 edition Publication Date: June 19, 2014 Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Language: English ASIN: B00LIAZBKK Formats: Paperback and Kindle Goodreads Genres: Women’s Fiction, Humor, Contemporary Fiction *The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for… More

Colleen’s #BOOK #REVIEWS – “Hashes & Bashes,” BY Author, P J COLANDO

Title:  Hashes and Bashes: Jackie & Steve Book 2 Author: P J Colando File Size: 1337 KB Print Length: 225 Pages Publisher: BookBaby Publication Date: September 13, 2016 Sold By: Amazon Digital Services LLC Language: English ASIN: B01LWV02LG Formats: Paperback and Kindle Goodreads Genres: Genre Fiction, Family Life, Humor, Literature & Fiction *I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book* “FAITH… FAMILY… FRENZY! Nine… More

Colleen’s 2019 #Book #Reviews – “The Winner’s Circle (Faith! Family! Frenzy!)” by Author, P. J. Colando

IN THE AUTHOR’S WORDS: FAITH… FAMILY… FRENZY! Life in rural small town can dull the senses. A trio of gal pals–mired in middle age, Middle America, and other people’s problems–long to escape. When Bonnie wins the Boffo Lotto, her circle of friends urge her to lawyer up, invest, and sequester herself.  But secrets are inconceivable… More

About the Author:

I was born and raised in the Midwest, yet unabashedly aspired for adventure elsewhere, following my parents’ model.

I live in southern California, where seasons seldom matter, where any promise can be conjured and fulfilled. I write while my husband watches TV sports, which are always in season = often.

I wrote a series titled Faith, Family, Frenzy! about the small town & rural Midwest. I know the characters and settings very well and my fertile imagination creates the plots. None of the escapades I create have happened to anyone anywhere, not even me. 

Perhaps my series is a form of memoir…

I write humor and satire with a literary bent. Besides the four novels, I’ve published two short story anthologies and have a third in mind… I’m available to speak to your group or book club. I’m eager to engage with other writers and readers of my books.

I am having a blast!

PJ Colando Amazon Author Page

How to Connect with the Author

Blog: https://www.pjcolando.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PJ-Colando-224896484261076/

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COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “Viking Sagas, The Captivating Tale of Ragnar Lothbrok, Ivar the Boneless, Lagertha, and More, in Their Historical Context” BY AUTHOR, Matt Clayton, @CaptivHistory

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book

Explore Captivating Viking Sagas

The period between the end of the eighth century CE and the middle of the eleventh is often called the “Viking Age” because this is the period in which Scandinavian people expanded their contacts with the outside world through trade, raiding, exploration, and colonization.

This volume presents a version of Ragnar’s saga compiled from different modern sources, along with information providing additional historical and documentary context, followed by a discussion of some aspects of modern appropriations and representations of ancient Norse culture.

The first section of the book provides a historical context for Ragnar’s saga through an exploration of daily life in ninth-century Scandinavia and of contemporary Viking culture and history.

The text of the saga itself forms the second part of the book, along with notes giving further information about how this version of the saga is presented and about elements within the story that might not be familiar to modern readers.

The third section of the book deals with representations of ancient Norse cultures in modern popular media.

Within this book, you’ll find the following the Viking Sagas and topics covered:

  • The World of Ragnar Lothbrok
  • The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok and His Sons
  • Representations of Norse Myths and History in Modern Media
  • The Clash of History and Drama in the History Channel Television Series Vikings
  • And much more!

MY RECOMMENDATION

I received this book as an offer from Captivating History.com. I reviewed, because for me, Viking and Celtic mythology makes for some interesting reading. Add in the popular television series, “Vikings” and you’ve got a recipe for success.

This is not your typical history book, although there are many citations to back up this author’s references. The style of writing is clear and concise, and easy to understand. There are detailed descriptions of Viking culture, many gleaned from recent archaeological evidence.

I found the “shield maiden,” research to be most interesting. This female Viking, who lived and died around the year 900, was first excavated from a farm in Solør, Norway, in 1900. Recent discoveries reveal that she was a woman, overturning the centuries-old assumption that Viking warriors were only men.

The author deciphers many of the myths surrounding the television series, “The Vikings.” There was a man named Ragnar in the ancient texts who could have been the character in the series. The series has done a decent job in my estimation of showing Viking culture. Even more interesting to me was how many of the Norse myths found their way into the show. Read the ancient myths included in the book. The Norse were superb storytellers.

I also found the connection to a magic sword and the slaying of a dragon from the ancient Norse myths could have been the basis for the King Arthur myths. This is only my speculation and not collaborated with research. I think these older myths found their way into Celtic society repurposed to fit the needs of the time.

As a poet, the information relating to the Norse and Icelandic Skalds, (poets) caught my attention. Skalds were the poets of the Vikings, and poetry and storytelling were the most-prized art forms in Norse culture. Poetry was a gift from Odin, the Allfather chief god of the Vikings, and just being a skald with the ability to speak in rhyme also was a way to distinguish themselves as having a connection to Odin.

If you love Norse mythology and want to find out the factual truth behind the “Vikings” television series, this book will shed some light on the truth of the matter. It was a fabulous read!

MY RATING

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

Matt Clayton is a best-selling author who is particularly known for his excellent take on mythology. Two of his best-selling books are Greek Mythology: A Captivating Guide to the Ancient Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, and Monsters and Norse Mythology: A Captivating Guide to Norse Folklore Including Fairy Tales, Legends, Sagas and Myths of the Norse Gods and Heroes.

As an author, Matt’s mission is to unveil the captivating stories from the ancient world. So far, he has done a phenomenal job in terms of giving the readers what they want. When Matt is not wearing the author’s hat, he is either reading, eating, sleeping or working on projects related to his brand Captivating History. You can check out his Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMNMpSc81hvn5OC26yj-5Jw

How to Connect with the Author

BLOG: captivatinghistory.com

TWITTER: @CaptivHistory

FACEBOOK: Join the group Captivating History

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COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “The Sincerest Form of Poetry,” BY AUTHOR, Geoff Le Pard, @geofflepard

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book

An anthology of poems, inspired by the top 100 British poems and a love of sonnets.

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All of life in one easy couplet

“To write poetry, I need inspiration. Often that comes from my appreciation of the craftsmanship of other, better poets, whose skills I aspire to emulate. For this anthology, I have chosen two such sources: in part one, the search for Britain’s favourite poem led to the publication of the top 100, and I have used a number of these to craft my own take on those beautiful and inspirational works; in part two, my love of the sonnet form, fostered by reading Shakespeare’s gems, has provided a selection covering many topics and themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them.”

~ Geoff Le Pard

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MY RECOMMENDATION

Geoff Le Pard is one of my favorite contemporary poets. His acerbic wit makes me laugh, and there are no out-of-bounds topics in his repertoire of verses. Some of his poetry is raw, exposing the trials and tribulations related to the everyday grind of being human. Many of his poems explore the irony of our daily circumstances with an emphasis on humor—always ready to make you smile, or possibly blush!

Le Pard has a style all his own, and he writes a form of ‘found poetry’ with inspiration from many of my favorite British poets: Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rudyard Kipling, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W.B. Yeats, and many others. Le Pard uses the first line of the actual poem as they wrote it, continuing on with his own poetic genius.

The second half of the book the author explores the sonnet, with poems comprising fourteen lines with an iambic rhyming scheme. This is where he truly shines. They say all poets have a favorite form they like to write and clearly; the sonnet speaks to this author.

He shares in the Genesis section of the book:

In 2007, I was taken with the urge to write poetry. From where that emerged, I will have to leave to psychologists, though some have noticed my father’s death (he wrote delightful poetry) occurred some eighteen months before I found the courage to commit myself to the ether. I found, almost immediately that, unlike prose, poetry is a more intense and challenging medium to embrace. It needs, above all else, a depth of inspiration that a short story or even a novel does not demand. It has been my joy and challenge to find and hold on to such inspiration.”

Geoff Le Pard, The Sincerest From of Poetry

I read this book in two nights, sometimes shaking the bed in quiet laughter to not disturb my sleeping spouse. This was a delightful read and the perfect gift for the poetry lover in your family. Many thanks to the author for gifting me an advance reader’s copy. This book will release on September 30, 2020.

I’ll share one of my favorite selections from the book:

Trick Or Treat

The box full of treats draws them in like flies 
Glassy-eyed children with hands reaching down. 
‘It’s rubbish chocolate,’ says John with a frown.
‘Never mind,’ says his mum, wiping her eyes
On her sleeve. ‘Sue Witch is good for a treat. 
You’ll see. Candies and fudge, all neatly wrapped. 
Though take care or you’re sure to be trapped 
In her sticky web. She’s best in the street
For her tricks.’ They hold hands as they hurry 
Along. Nervously waiting for their next gift. 
The mood will change: there’s always a shift 
As cockroaches cackle and dirty rats scurry. 
For what do you expect on Halloween?
It starts with a smile, and ends with a scream.

©2020 Geoff Le Pard

MY RATING

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Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Smashwords

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Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976, the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

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In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.

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The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself?

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Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015.

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Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

This is available here

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Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

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Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages.

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Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

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Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.

Amazon.co.uk

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When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.

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Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page

How to Connect with the Author

BLOG: geofflepard.com

TWITTER: @geofflepard

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