Colleen’s Book Reviews

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

I’m still playing catch-up with book reviews. These are a few of the books I’ve been reading the last couple of months. I’m sure you will find something that will catch your fancy!

“Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries,” by Sally Cronin

Short story and poetry anthologies are all the rage now, and Sally Cronin’s “Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries” does not disappoint. This eclectic mix takes the reader through a gambit of feelings that revolve around the themes of love, loss, humor, revenge, and life’s second chances.

A few of these tales brought tears to my eyes, such as “Long Lost Love,” which tells the story of Tom and Elaine, a pregnancy, and a visit from beyond the grave. However, the poetry is as exceptional as the short stories. The butterfly cinquain, “Ritual of Mehndi,” shares a glimpse into the traditional wedding custom of painting symbols in henna on the bride’s hands.

This author is known for an empathetic approach to her writing. She writes what she senses, sharing the ups and downs of her characters with love and compassion. A true storyteller, Sally Cronin’s stories will leave you wanting more feel-good moments.

Amazon Author Page

“Voices (in the Trash),” by Frank Prem

Amazon.com

Frank Prem lends his photographic talent to this picture poetry book by featuring photographs from the trash and treasure markets from around Australia. The author asks us, “What if these items could talk?”

What follows is a unique poetic perspective as he listens to the plaintive voices in the trash. He pens his poetry accordingly. All objects are worthy of a voice, in his eyes.

This was a lovely and creative endeavor. If you’re looking for something different to read and inspire, this is the book for you.

Amazon Author Page

“Endangered Spells,” Book 5 of 7, Witches Academy, by S. R. Mallery

“Endangered Spells,” leads the reader into a world of contemporary witchcraft with an unexpected link back in history to the Salem Witch Trials. Gillian is a young witch who denies her powers because of something that happened in her past.

When her best friend, Rebecca suddenly disappears, Gillian knows something terrible has occurred. The police aren’t working fast enough, and Gillian realizes that she may well have to use witchcraft to solve this heinous crime.

The mystery spirals out of control when two more of Gillian’s journalist friends are murdered. The young witch takes matters into her own hands and uncovers some deep secrets related to her past.

Meanwhile, one of the detectives on the case realizes that he is in love with Gillian. Witches and humans don’t usually mix, but nothing is as it seems in this fast-paced mystery.

This was a fun read. Gillian’s family pet, a cockatoo, steals the show! There’s something here for everyone: love, romance, humor, and murder. The perfect combination for a cozy mystery!

Amazon Author Page

“Delilah Astral Investigator Infinity Series: Episode 2, The Boy Who Would Be King,” by Deborah A. Bowman

Delilah Sanchez, her amazing cat, Mollie, and the 1774 American Colonial Lord Bartholomew Darnesworth Wharton, III, (Bartie) are back for another time travel adventure. This time, the threesome travel back to the year, 1502, the day before Prince Arthur Tudor’s death.

No one understands how or why they were chosen to intervene in the events unfolding before them. All they know is that this one change can ripple through time changing the present. After a series of Astral projections, Bartie and Delilah fear that the war they are witnessing would evolve into World War III in their reality. They believe they are the guardians, entrusted with saving their world. How do you save the past and the future at the same time?

Bartie is forced to make some hard choices. But now, he carries the guilt from those decisions. He’s fallen hard for Delilah. How does he tell her the truth of what really happened?

The author combines YA fantasy, history, and a bit of romance to create an exciting time travel novel. This is the second book in the series, and to maintain the character background I would start with the first novel, “Episode One, The Boy and the Shopkeeper: Delilah, Astral Investigator Infinity Series.”

This fast-paced adventure will keep you up long into the night!

Amazon Author Page

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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 – “Eventide,” BY AUTHOR, Mae Clair, @MaeClair1

Featuring Your Next Read!

About this Book

The darkness is coming . . .

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

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

Amazon.com

MY RECOMMENDATION

The third book in Mae Claire’s Hode’s Hill dual timeline Series is called “Eventide.” Wowser! Like the two previous books, this third novel delivers a wallop of a suspenseful tale which wraps up the series in ways I never anticipated! I’m blown away by the writing, the plot, and the ending!

Madison (Maddy) from the second book, has now fully recovered from her ordeal following the violent murder of her husband. She’s ready to get out on her own, and she purchases a house on the outskirts of town. Meanwhile, Jillian, Maddy’s sister, doesn’t think this is the right move for her, causing friction between them.

Once Maddy moves in, she quickly realizes that the Stewart house is haunted. She discovers three gravestones in the family burial plot behind the house. From the dates on the stones, Maddie realizes Sylvia Steward and her son, Nathaniel, both died on the same day. The third grave contain’s Sylvia’s husband, Darrin, who died years before them. What kind of tragedy could have caused a mother and her son to perish on the same day? Just wait… it gets creepier!

Not long after moving in, Maddy encounters a paranormal entity (or two) lurking inside the house who helps her learn about a second Steward son, named Tristan. Whatever caused his death remains a secret waiting to unravel.

Adding to her problems, Maddy realizes her boyfriend, Roth, is not what she expected. His anger issues and possessiveness are only part of the issue.

One day, Maddy finds her tires slashed. Her dead husband hung around with some unsavory characters. Could someone from her past be trying to scare her?

The future meets the past in the second timeline, which puts the reader in the year, 1878. We’re introduced to Hollande Moore, an unmarried woman past her prime, who is obliged to take a live-in position as a companion to Sylvia Steward by order of her brother.

Living in the Steward Mansion becomes unbearable when Hollande discovers Sylvia enjoys inflicting misery upon everyone. Nathaniel, Sylvia’s son, runs the family business. He is a disagreeable man with the same negative attitude as his mother.

Hollande doesn’t know how she will cope with the family until she meets Tristan, the second son who is the exact opposite of his brother. He runs the family business from another location and only comes home in the evening, regaling his mother and Hollande with tales of his adventures. Hollande notices how Sylvia adores Tristan, unlike her other son, Nathaniel.

Eventually, Hollande discovers Nathaniel to be a pleasant man away from the company of his mother. Before she knows it, Hollande and Nathaniel have fallen in love. Suddenly jealous with rage, Sylvia’s madness promises to upend the family.

When the past and the present collide in a trifecta of paranormal occurrences, Maddy stumbles upon an unfathomable evil in the house’s basement. Terrified, she calls in her sister’s boyfriend, Dante, to help her rid the house of the evil within. Together, Dante and the two sisters battle the unknown for the soul of Hode’s Hill. Who will survive?

By Mae Clair

This is one of the most outstanding paranormal series I’ve read. Mae Clair is a master at writing suspense, on a par with Dean Koontz and even Stephen King. In true nail-biter fashion, I couldn’t tear myself away from several of the action scenes, reading late into the night.

Clair doesn’t describe much gore in her novels, which I found appealing. Instead, she strings you along, building the tension until you think you’ll explode from your own impatience to find out what happens next! If you enjoy reading “paranormal-weird” this is the author for you.

I also enjoyed how the character’s personalities flowed throughout the three novels, lending a continuity to the tale of this strange place called Hode’s Hill. I thought I would have a favorite book, but I can honestly say, I loved all three. I’m sad the series is complete.

If you love paranormal fiction filled with a touch of history, romance, and the right amount of things that go bump in the night, you will love the Hode’s Hill series! Just make sure to only read with the light on!

MY RATING

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

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

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

Amazon Author Page

How to Connect with the Author

BLOG: MaeClair.com

TWITTER: @MaeClair1

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COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “Tea, Anyone? (A Brooke & Abby Cozy Mystery Book 1),” BY AUTHOR, S. R. Mallery, @SarahMallery1

The magical world of Sarah (S. R.) Mallery’s books

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book

How do two modern, quirky, twenty-something gals solve murders in a small, cozy USA town?

Easy. With a little time travel, some humor, and a lot of hard work. When the skeptical Brooke first meets the psychic Abby, she’s not impressed. But with the help of her comfort cat, her middle-aged roomie, her childhood friend, and a hunky detective hinting at a sweet romance, Brooke not only accepts that Abby has real gifts, it’s clear that these five people and one cat make up a crack team. 

Got tea, anyone? In 1773, the Boston Tea Party sure did. Find out why going back in time helps break the case!
#Cozy mystery, #Time travel, #Paranormal, #Murder, #Cats #US History, #Humor

MY RECOMMENDATION

“Tea Anyone?” is a time-travel cozy mystery filled with unique (yet true to life) characters. Pay special attention to the names of the members of the Pride and Joy Gym. I got quite a few laughs out of the author’s creativity. There’s even a bit of romance blooming. And of course, before you know it, there’s a dead body.

Brooke has problems with authority. When she doesn’t pass the police exam, the chief places her in a researching position. Brooke’s new neighbor Abby, is a flower child, a hippie throwback from the 1960s who possesses the ability to time travel. Somehow the two women form a reluctant friendship. With the help of a few friends and Brooke’s cat, Junie, the group assists the police in solving a string of murders that reach back into time.

One of Mallery’s writing gifts is her love for history. Historical details abound, adding to the realistic feel in this mystery. The plot is sound and well thought out, and the characters are the kind of people who could be your neighbors.

The romance developing between Brooke and Tony only makes me want to read more. Where is their relationship going? This is the first book in the series and I can’t wait to see what Brooke and Abby get into next.

As an added bonus, this book is only $.99, the perfect weekend read!

MY RATING

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Connect with the Author

BLOG/WEBSITE: https:///www.srmallery.blog

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/SarahMallery1

FACEBOOK PAGES: 
Personal page: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.mallery.3
Fan Page: http://facebook.com/pages/SR-Mallery-Sarah-Mallery/356495387768574

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