Banner Shadow

2019 Winner Godiva Award – His Red Eminence by Laurel A Rockefeller

Book of the Month

Book Of The Year Winners

Announcement

THE NAKED REVIEWERS ARE COMING BACK

Welcome everybody,

I’m Tinker Terry, publisher at Tinker Books. I’ve been with The Naked Reviewers [TNR] since I think sometime in 2019. I basically host their website for free, to help support authors everywhere. We all know what a struggle it is to get editorial reviews from qualified, experienced people. So after a long hiatus I finally talked Sherry into letting me take over the basic functioning of the website.

Our old system was awkward and difficult for everybody with all the back and forth email that was involved.

We we will be offerring authors the opportunity to provide selected readers and our Reviewers with free ebook downloads on site.

Authors will be able to set a limit on the number of free downloads they permit from zero to  an upper limit, which will time will tell. Their books will initially be freely available only to our Reviewers, who will be free to read and review any book on the list for as long as the Author  wishes.

More about the membership levels is now available.

Thank for coming, check back in a day or two.

Tinker Terry

Sherry Terry

At this time, I am unable to give this site the time and attention it deserves.

Please keep checking back. I do love the site, the authors, my review team, and reading books, so maybe with a break, I can come back strong.

Thanks for your understanding,

Sherry.

Beta All Book Reviews

Secrets of Lady Lucy Tinker Terry's Review

I loved this story so much I could hardly put it down. Full of surprising twists, things never seem to turn out according to plan or how you expect them to. Just when you expect the story to conclude the author tosses another glitch in the works, whick keeps the story going strong. I seldom give any books a five star rating due to typos and or syntax/editorial errors that I tend to notice more often than most, being a publisher myself. I hope the rest of the series will be available to review soon.
Tinker Terry (Terence Vickers) Publisher of Tinker Books and Reviewer at The Naked Reviewers

Love0

Secrets of Lady Lucy (Agents of the Home Office Book 1) by Rachel Ann Smith

It’s never easy keeping secrets… Only her desire to crush the Crown’s enemies could induce Lady Lucille Stanford to endure another Season. For years she has worked secretly for the Home Office, and she has come to London with one purpose: foil the attempted kidnapping of a highly valuable target, identity unknown. Inconveniently, Lord Harrington—Lucy’s brother and guardian—has other plans. He won’t be satisfied until she is at long last married. He never forgets a face … After years on the Continent, Blake Gower, Earl of Devonton, returns to England in need of a wife. He should not be surprised when his best friend Harrington’s sister recaptures his attention. But there’s more to the woman Lady Lucy has become than the delightful girl Blake remembers. When she takes an unexpected jaunt to the country during the height of the Season, Blake is determined to know why—and to discover all Lady Lucy’s secrets. Unwilling to give up her patriotic mission for marriage, Lucy is conflicted when she meets the enigmatic Lord Devonton. She never expected to feel this way about a man again. When the ransom demand comes due—will it be for Lady Lucy’s heart?

A little about Rachel first:

Rachel Ann Smith writes steamy historical romances with a twist. Her debut series, Agents of the Home Office, features female protagonists that defy convention.

When Rachel isn’t writing, she loves to read and spend time with the family. She is frequently found with her Kindle by the pool during the summer, on the sidelines of the soccer field in the spring and fall, or curled up on the couch during the winter months.

She currently lives in Colorado with her extremely understanding husband and their two very supportive children. Be sure to visit Rachel’s website for updates on cover reveals and new releases.

 

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Secrets of Lady Lucy is the first book of Rachel Anne Smiths’ Agents of the Home Office series. As such it has some of the usual expectations of a historical romantic fiction series: some characters mentioned in the first book that will no doubt be expanded upon in future works, loose threads that will be further established and concluded in future installments, as the mainframe that holds the series together. In a series like this, for me at least, it’s difficult to form a general opinion, since the later works are more important in establishing how an author holds to the elements launched in the first work, so keep that in mind in reading this review.

No, I found nothing amiss,  or features to be improved upon, generally speaking, but still, in reviewing this author’s first work, I kept thinking, ‘this is good, now what will you do with it?’  This of course demonstrates one goal of the author; they sunk the hook in me enough to read the next book in the series. All right, I’ll admit, they have a chance to real this reading fish in.

With this entire preamble stated, there are a few things that need to be said for the work itself, or at least I feel needs to be mentioned for the work itself.

First, it’s believable. I bought that Lady Lucy is skilled at making and breaking codes, and that one of those code-breaking activities lead to the belief that someone will be attempting to kidnap the Earl of Devonton. A kidnapping scheme for the Earl was completely plausible, since he also works for the crown, particularly in cartography — when waging a war information on the terrain is absolutely vital, and keeping your enemy from that information equally so. Obviously, our Lady of the hour, figuratively and literally, is invested in preventing this from occurring, which is also equally credible.  This is the key pivot on which a large portion of the work turns, but it definitely is up to the task of Atlas in supporting everything else, which is more or less attractive layering on the bedrock of the essential facet of the plot.

Second, the characterization is good, the characters’ motives are believable, and at no place did I find any glaring historical inconsistencies. The dialogue is a bit fast and loose in places, but that’s to be somewhat expected since well, it’s difficult to be entirely true to the time in language all the time.  While the pacing is equally well-fashioned to fit the plot, I still can’t help but feel that the work was a little short, but that’s probably just me. For this, and all the other reasons previously stated, I’d give this work a solid 4.5, out of five, a good beginning, but I’d recommend any reader to withhold overall judgment until more of the series is
produced.

 

Diane Andersen’s Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The title drew me right in. How could it not? I have a historical book character named Lucy who lived during Recency times (albeit across the pond in the US). The story starts off with all the right elements for a Recency romance. A feisty young lady is pushed to find a husband in the current social season. Of course, as most all Recency heroines are in modern romances, she is bored with these seasons, the ton, and resists the notion of marriage.

Her brother is the one eager to see her wed, but she secretly carries on a double life as a spy. Yes. A spy! She dons breeches under her gown and sneaks away to clandestine meeting points to pass off packets of letters in elaborate ruses that are never really explained. But it’s all part of the fun and this story is pure, hilarious fun.

This feisty, independent lady who eschews marriage and prefers adventure spends most of her time mooning over her love interest and reveling in her appearance and cuteness. For some reason, we are reminded of how short and diminutive she is every few pages. However, at five foot two, she would be about average height for 1800. It was just one historical faux pas I had to turn a blind eye to in order to enjoy the story. And it is a fun flight of fancy, an easy vacay read while traveling or hanging out at the beach. What the heck! Give it 5 stars for being so so adorably cute.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share your review in the comments.

To enter, click the “Create Your Own Review” button below.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Love1
Submit your review
1
2
3
4
5
Submit
     
Cancel

Create your own review

Secrets of Lady Lucy
Average rating:  
 1 reviews
 by Tinker Terry on Secrets of Lady Lucy
Secrets of Lady Lucy Tinker Terry's Review

I loved this story so much I could hardly put it down. Full of surprising twists, things never seem to turn out according to plan or how you expect them to. Just when you expect the story to conclude the author tosses another glitch in the works, whick keeps the story going strong. I seldom give any books a five star rating due to typos and or syntax/editorial errors that I tend to notice more often than most, being a publisher myself. I hope the rest of the series will be available to review soon.
Tinker Terry (Terence Vickers) Publisher of Tinker Books and Reviewer at The Naked Reviewers

Book Of The Year

The winner of The Naked Reviewers 2019 Godiva Book Of the Year is…

His Red Eminence, Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu by Laurel A. Rockefeller

 

We love Laurel’s books! Every time she submits one, we get excited because we know we will get spot-on research and great writing. We have also reviewed Hypatia of Alexandria, Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni, Cleopatra VII: Egypt’s Last Pharaoh, and Queen Elizabeth Tudor.

Priest. Lover. Statesman.

Cardinal Armand-Jean du Plessis, duc de Richelieu is one of the most famous — or infamous politicians of all time. Made a villain in the popular Dumas novel, “The Three Musketeers,” the real man was a dedicated public servant loyal to king and country. A man of logic and reason, he transformed how we think about nations and nationality. He secularized wars between countries, patronized the arts for the sake of the public good, founded the first newspaper in France, and created France as the modern country we know today.

Behind the scenes, du Plessis frequently suffered from crippling migraines and malaria. Hidden from view, but ever at his side stood Anne Rochefeuille, his dear friend, nurse-caretaker, and lover. His intellectual equal, Anne worked tirelessly to empower her cardinal to accomplish greatness, their love for each other forbidden by the Roman Catholic church Armand served.

Filled with period music, dance, and plenty of romance, “His Red Eminence” transports you back to the court of King Louis XIII in all its vibrant and living color.

Includes eight period songs, plus prayers, a detailed timeline, and an extensive bibliography so you can keep learning.

A little about Laurel first:

Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is an author of over twenty books published and self-published since August 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide. With her lyrical writing style, Laurel’s books are as beautiful to read as they are informative. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, travelling to historic places in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series. Favourites: Star Trek, Doctor Who, original Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5. Winner of the “Godiva Book Award” for 2019, Laurel is a proud supporter of Foster Parrots Ltd., The Arbor Day Foundation, and Health in Harmony.

Karen Meyer’s Review: 5-Stars

Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu was a young man who succumbed to fragile health his whole life. He was not a very ambitious young man and would have been quite content finishing his religious studies to live a quiet and comfortable life in the shadow of his brothers. But with the help of a “Huguenot” by the name of Anne Rochefeuille, who he secretly married, became the most important man in the Catholic faith.

He met Anne in a small religious house known for taking in pilgrims for a small fee. She was there as a convert to the Catholic faith even though she did not go along with their ideals. He was swayed by her outspokenness and sharp wit. He fell in love with instantly as she did with him. When he found out that she had been beaten at the Convent for her beliefs, he vowed to take her with him.

He took her back to his brother’s house where he scolded for his obvious lusting after the beautiful Anne. Armand told Henri that he would marry her if he hadn’t been forced to go into the priesthood because of the family’s needs.

Anne was gifted with the ability to sense time, both past and future. Her ability to sense emotions and intentions tells her the present. They married secretly in a ceremony of their own. Shortly after in a lavish ceremony, Armand took his vows of celibacy and service, committing himself to God’s work.

Time passed and in April of 1607, Father Armand was invested as bishop, his faithful Anne at his side. When he moved into the Bishop’s Mansion near Lucon Cathedral, Anne moved in with him as his trusted friend, companion, and to aid in his health.

One day she called him Your Eminence instead of Your Excellency and he knew she knew more than she was letting on. She told him that she had a vision of him in red, Cardinal Red with bits of grey in his hair. He finally allowed her to witness his dizzy spells so she would be there to take care of him.

He became the chaplain to the future queen of France. One year later Bishop du Plessis became the Secretary of State for both war and foreign affairs. In 1617 he was exiled to the city of Avignon for crimes against King Louis XIII of France.

But his beloved Anne was brought to him along with his brother Henri. Weeks passed and Anne found out she was pregnant when her body nearly aborted the baby. And Bishop Richelieu became Cardinal Richelieu.

She knew that the baby was not going to live unless Armand used his healing power on him, but he refused. Their love for each other was stronger than ever.
And they could never stand to be apart.

On April 29, 1624, Cardinal Richelieu was named to the royal council of ministers. Many years passed but their love never faltered. Armand’s brother Alphonso who was also a Cardinal forgave them their sin of marrying.

King Louis crowned him “duc de Richelieu. In 1635 and in his eyes Anne became a duchess. When all her family was killed except her nieces and nephews, Armand vowed to take care of them.

Two weeks later she let him know he was to have a son. Then she let him know that she and the child would die and she wanted to be cremated. She alluded to the fact that she would be reincarnated. They were married for 27 years. They named their son Henri-Pierre and they lived a few weeks and Anne’s spirit rose out of her body and spread her wings of red-silver-gold-and-purple flames and she was half-parrot and half-human looking. Then she and her son were gone and Armand left for Paris.

In December of 1635, he arrived at court. He kept himself busy but was in no mood for people. His soul wept when his eyes could not. (This was my favorite line in the whole book.)

Then one day he secured permission to visit the king’s aviary. There he found a little white parrot and it landed on his wrist. She turned out to be a cockatoo, a baby who would not eat. Her parents had quit feeding her and she didn’t know how to eat adult food. So Armand mashed up some fruit and the bird ate with relish. So Armand got to keep the baby cockatoo and they became inseparable until his death from Tuberculosis.

What an interesting and amazing book written by an amazing author. This is my second book review of this author and though they are long, they keep you spellbound. I highly recommend this book and would give it 5 stars.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.6-Stars

His Red Eminence Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu
By Laurel A. Rockefeller

Cardinal Richelieu (1585–1642) may be best known from Alexander Dumas’s The Three Musketeers as a man even more powerful than the French king. Yet, he was a man who’s power grew out of his dependence on and loyalty to the king. Laurel A. Rockefeller artfully traces Richelieu’s life and career from his earliest church career to the height of his power. In 1606 King Henry IV nominated Richelieu to become bishop of Luçon and thus began his rapid ascent to power as confidante of Louis XIII, who named him the duc de Richelieu; named a cardinal in 1622, he became known as l’Éminence rouge (“the Red Eminence”) for his noble style and red cardinal’s robes.

Through various political and military intrigues, Richelieu strove to consolidate the monarchy’s power and make France less dependent on foreign nations. A patron of the arts, Richelieu built a theater in his palace funded the work of Pierre Corneille and founded the Académie française, the paramount French literary society. Still, there is much about the man that remains villainous in the modern world psyche.

Laurel A. Rockefeller seeks to help remove some of that reputation through both carefully researched information and through well-crafted imagination.

In this work, we not only get a glimpse of the statesman but of the man beneath — as well as possibly a look at the mysterious woman that Armand-Jean du Plessis loved. Like any great historical romance, assumptions are made, and some liberties are taken, but like any strong historical romance the topic is researched and plenty of references are given at the end. While Laurel A. Rockefeller is no stranger to historical fiction, this is the first work of hers I have read, and it is certain it will not be my last.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 5-Stars

I really enjoyed this story by Laurel A Rockefeller. The cover is amazing! Such rich colors and a beautiful portrait of Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu

I found His Red Eminence is not only a good story about the life of Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, but it’s also a sweet love story. Armand received the dispensation to become bishop of Luçon at an early age. With diplomacy and patients, he served well and rose up the ladder at court in the 1600s. By the age of 37, Armand was working directly for the Kings at court in Paris.

Exiled by King Louis XIII, Armand was sent on a political mission to Paris and then brought back into the fold of court. He rose up the ladder fairly quickly for the times, becoming a Cardinal and the most important man at court and the Catholic church by walking a tightrope with the political atmosphere of the times.

His beloved Anne was by his side from before he was a Bishop until her death after he was a Cardinal, showing him unconditional acceptance and love. The two were able to live together by declaring her as a caretaker and friend during his many illnesses. Only Anne could save him time and time again.

This is a good, sweet romance of forbidden love between two people who are not allowed to be together by the law of the Catholic Church.

The only thing that sort of bothered me was when many sentences started with things like ten minutes later, an hour later, 5 years later… However, it did not take away from my overall enjoyment of His Red Eminence.

Once again Laurel has done a great job with this story. I give His Red Eminence 5-Stars

Please feel free to share a review of your own in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to third-party retailers and are affiliate links. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits.

Love0

Book Of The Month

The Immortality Game by Ted Cross

Moscow, 2138. With the world only beginning to recover from the complete societal collapse of the late 21st Century, Zoya scrapes by prepping corpses for funerals and dreams of saving enough money to have a child. When her brother forces her to bring him a mysterious package, she witnesses his murder and finds herself on the run from ruthless mobsters. Frantically trying to stay alive and save her loved ones, Zoya opens the package and discovers two unusual data cards, one that allows her to fight back against the mafia and another which may hold the key to everlasting life.

A little about Ted first:

41DvKFZ0VqL._UX250_
Ted Cross is from Arizona and has spent the past two decades traveling the world as a diplomat, all the time dreaming about writing fantasy and science fiction. He has visited nearly forty countries and lived in eight, including the U.S., Russia, China, Croatia, Iceland, Hungary, Azerbaijan, and the Bahamas.
He has witnessed coup attempts, mafia, and terrorist attacks, played chess with several world champions and had bit parts in a couple of movies. He is married with two sons and currently lives in Nassau, Bahamas.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.8-Stars

At first glance, the immortality game has all the classic elements one would expect with cyberpunk: virtual reality; a dystopian future; direct human-machine interface; and all the issues that come with these consequences.

Cross does an excellent job of demonstrating how past actions lead to present consequences, and how those consequences lead to the mess that the protagonists find themselves in. The focus is however on Russia, not on a country in the western hemisphere. The other major difference is the characters.

Take Zoya, a Russian girl who is a mortician, a loving daughter, whose world is turned upside down by her brother’s actions; but who despite all the terrible things that happen to her, even though it puts her life in danger more than once, remains concerned for her friends and family.
Then there is Marcus, a recent Ph.D. receiver in nanotechnology, who’s a survivor of an addictive virtual reality program who turns out to be far more than he thinks he is. The pair of them navigate a world that has become far more than they thought it was: all thanks to the consequences of greed and technological development.

If you are a fan of Cyberpunk or of the style of science-fiction that contains many of the genre’s elements, then you will certainly enjoy this work.
I give the work 4.8 out of 5.

RA Winter’s Review: 4.8-Stars

Billed as a sci-fi techno-thriller, this one doesn’t disappoint.

Moscow, 2138. While at work, Zoya’s brother stops by with a simple request. Deliver a small package. This takes Zoya into a hell of her brother’s making. Murder and death follow her, beginning with her own brother.

This is full of technology that honestly, could be the future. People communicate wirelessly. Chips are inserted into their necks and all the knowledge available is at their fingertips.

Of course, there are those who decide to live in a dream world and get addicted to virtual reality.

Marcus lives in the US, with his mother who is addicted to virtual reality. She shut down after her husband’s death and prefers to live in a dream world, where her friends are near.
Marcus fulfills his father’s dream of earning his doctorate. Only his father has uploaded himself onto the web. Somewhere in Russia, the key to bringing his father back to life has been activated. Marcus travels to Russia under false pretenses to search for the technology.
War plagues the world. The military is after the chip that Zoya has, and they will stop at nothing, including murder to get it back. Marcus has to get the technology before them or his father will never live again.

I read part of this on my phone I also listened to it on audio. I think if you’re into listening to your books, start out with this one by reading it, just so you understand how the ‘links’ to wireless chat is used, then you’ll be fine.

I found no formatting issues with this on my phone, nor heard any type of errors on the audio. It was a very engaging and deeply involved story. Well worth the page count, there wasn’t any run-on plot or info dumps. Very well handled intro into a new world.
I love the cover too.

An engaging thriller, well written and enjoyable for anyone.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Angel Drake Mysteries: Mystery & Mayhem by Sharn Hutton

I am not sure what happened when Sharn got her review date and we received her book/s. One reviewer read and reviewed, Nothing Ventured: An Angel Drake Short Story of Mystery, Mayhem, & Mirth, and the other reviewer read and reviewed, Angel Drake is Going Solo: Murder, Mystery & Mayhem at The Antiques Emporium.

I’ve slept since then, so the only thing to do now is put both books up for review.

A little about Sharn First

Sharn Hutton scuttled along in the rat race with everyone else until the advent of babies provided an excellent excuse not to go back to the office.

Time marched on and as the children spent more hours at nursery and then school, she started to write during stolen moments. The seed of a story took hold and eventually grew into her first novel, ‘It’s Killing Jerry’.

A couple of years on and the Angel Drake Mysteries have been added to the shelf, with ‘Angel Drake is Going Solo’ also available as an audiobook, narrated by Helen Taylor.

Now working from home in Hertfordshire, England, she wouldn’t trade her tiny writing room at the back of the house for the fanciest of corner offices. Apart from anything else, where would the dog’s bed go?

For more info, visit Sharn’s website and friend her on Facebook where you can sign up for updates on new books and offers.

First, we’ll start with…

Nothing Ventured: An Angel Drake Short Story of Mystery, Mayhem, & Mirth

Angel has a date with a YouTube star. It’s the crush of her school days, Danny Rush, who perfected being both super cool and insanely hot aged fifteen, then never looked back. Quite frankly, she can’t believe her luck.
Angel’s mother is less enthralled. The wiles of a YouTuber mean nothing to a technophobe still having trouble with email. No, she’s more impressed by ‘proper jobs’, and to that end lines Angel up an unwanted interview, coincidentally, with another old school chum.

Angel’s well out of her comfort zone now and, just to make life a little weirder, finds personal items start to go missing, whilst gloating video messages arrive from a thief enigmatically calling himself The Blue Flash.

She was trying to grow up and move on, but Angel is sucked back into the relationships of her childhood, where adult versions of old friends aren’t quite what they seemed, and The Blue Flash plots to steal from her the most precious possession of all.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.6-Stars

Love the cover! What else is there to say about the cover except that it fits the story perfectly. A little mysterious, it’s pretty, and it’s charming. Made me stop for a second look.

At first, I’ll admit I was a little lost as to who was who and what was going on. Once I put it all together, I found the opening a delight and liked being lead down the bumpy path. The writing and sentence structure kept me going, and made me want to find out who was who and what was going on.

Nothing Ventured is a fast little read to give us a good look into the main character, Angel. I enjoyed the family dynamic between Angel and her parents. I live with my elderly parents as well, and my father has Alzheimer’s, so I really related to Angel’s situation. I think Sharn did a splendid job with the characterization. Angel made me laugh with her come-backs.

Overall, this was a funny, great read. I find myself wanting to read the next book as well. I give Nothing Ventured 4.6 out of 5-stars because it ended a little abruptly.

Angel Drake is Going Solo: Murder, Mystery & Mayhem at The Antiques Emporium

Rookie antique’s dealer, Angel Drake, has just made her first deal. She thinks it’s a good one. But the price is higher than she knows. Now she’s implicated in the biggest string of antique’s robberies the country’s ever seen.

An inherited shop and a new life in the country – the dream Angel loves is in serious danger. She’s out on a limb with nowhere to go, and if there’s a chance of keeping her new home and business, she must catch the real thieves, and fast.

The odd customer wouldn’t hurt either. But villagers show more interest in Angel than they do in her stock. The result’s an unusual gang of new friends. From opinionated pensioners to charismatic local gentry, they all have curious pasts to reveal. And soon Angel realises, they each hold a piece of the puzzle she needs.

This village has been hiding secrets and when Angel unearths them, she is exposed to the wrath of the villains herself. Angel’s never been one to hold back but it’s clear, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her forever.

 

Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars

Sometimes a book comes along and just hits the spot, that place where a reader can escape on a cold, fall, rainy day and be whisked away. Cozy mysteries are just that sort of read and Angel Drake is Going Solo is one that provides all the elements one could hope for.

The main character, Angel Drake, finds herself in quite a pickle when she inherits an antique store from her aunt and quickly learns she knows nothing about antiques. Add in a recent bad breakup with her boyfriend and a string of antique robberies, and we’re all set for some delightful antics with, of course, some quintessential sleuthing.

It all winds up to be a fun and downright hilarious ride that should be on every cozy mystery reader’s list.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share a review on either book in the comments. Share a review on both, and your name is put in the hat twice.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie

Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

 

A little about Jessica first:

I’m the author of three novels, The Infinity Pool, published in July 2015, The Magic Carpet, published July 2019, and Title tbc which my agent is currently submitting for publication. I’m also an ex-teacher, a textbook author and a translator, and mother of two very human adults. This blog is for jottings and ideas related to fiction I’m working on. It considers the work of others too, along with wider reading, writing, and language-related themes.

My first novel was inspired by quirks and details I noticed on holiday, but I’m a Londoner and the city pushes in everywhere, so my second novel is more urban. It’s turned London into the first city transport network with a magic carpet service.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.6-Stars

If you see the title of this work and think, ‘ah another fantasy work.’ You’ll be forgiven. After the title “the magic carpet” may certainly cause you to think that and while the book does involve the magic of the mind, just as reading rainbow talked about being higher than a butterfly, the concepts and themes in this book are more universal than mere fantasy.

The themes of cultural identities and cultural integration, and the struggle for immigrants to balance their own family history and traditions with their desire to ‘fit in’ with those around them are sensitively explored from a variety of different perspectives, giving plenty of food for thought, especially in our current social context.

The other overarching theme is that of the importance of stories and storytelling. The importance of ‘own voice’ story experiences, the unity of collaborating on stories; the way stories can be written and rewritten to shape reality into different patterns and change the way we think about the challenges we – and others – face.

More than a morality tale, though, this story paints a warm picture of each different family environment: their individual struggles and successes, dreams, and fears. The characters feel like friends and neighbours, and I was thoroughly invested in what happened to them.

This is a beautiful, skillfully-crafted tale that entertains and moves the reader, and really makes you think about respect, diversity, and what these things mean to different people. And, of course, it is perfect for anyone who loves a good story.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars

Although it sounds like the title for a fantasy novel or a retelling of the Aladdin tale, Norrie’s novel is firmly set in real-world London of the 21st century. Weaving together a rich tapestry of characters, cultures, and world views, The Magic Carpet looks at the issues of immigration and the complexities of an integrated neighborhood coming together through a school project.

School children aged seven and eight years old are tasked with retelling an assigned fairy tale using whatever resources are at their disposal, including their own family members. Throughout the story, the reader becomes better acquainted with a few of these families, including multi-generational and single-parent families, all finding parallels between the themes of each fairy tale to their real-world lives. The final triumphal moment of the children’s performances brings it all together perfectly. It’s a charming and uplifting story for those interested in fairy tales or anyone who has ever been part of a family.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

LIES. AMBITION. FAMILY.
It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city, there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces, and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the center of it all …

In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.

A little about Damyanti first:

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. Her debut crime novel You Beneath Your Skin has been optioned for the screen by Endemol Shine.

 

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.7-Stars

One of the greatest pleasures of being a reviewer with this group is that it allows me to obtain, via the medium of reading, not only a greater opportunity to meet authors I might not have otherwise have encountered, but also enriches my understanding of cultures as well. While I had some knowledge of India from reading other books, and some understanding of its culture, this work broadened that understanding considerably.

The book has a number of particularly good descriptive passages of life in India, particularly in Delhi. I’m impressed by the amount of research that Damyanti Biswas must have engaged in, in order to bring us into the upper echelons of the police force, into the medical world, as well as taking us to the slums and to the comfortable homes of the well-off. There are numerous Hindi phrases sprinkled through the narrative, but I found this to be a good feature, even though there were a few times I had difficulty understanding them. Things are taking place in India, after all, and these phrases enhance that setting and contribute to the overall milieu the author is trying to capture. In any case, they are most of the time gently blended with an English clarification. Thus, while the reader might have some difficulty always being sure whom is whom, since different honorifics are sometimes employed, with a little patients one can quickly comprehend who is speaking and who is being spoken to, barring of course, one isn’t from India, and not intimately aware of language and customs.

Having said all that, I enjoyed the character development and the easy flow of the narrative, especially the completely natural dialogue, which is always a “make or break” ingredient for me as a reader. The intricacies of the plot are nicely handled and well stitched together.

The story’s underlying message is about violence against women, which sadly is universal to the human condition. Given this, there are times when the work might be a little difficult to read, but is no less educational, as it presents a rather candid look at the occurrence. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to read this book, as it provides a useful exemplar of the occurrence here-to-fore mentioned, and as a tool for discussing it among friends and acquaintances, which is one of the finest elements of literature.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.9-Stars

Most reviews for a book are more or less a re-telling of the story. I don’t like to do that. I like to speak on how the book reads.

The biggest reason I wanted to review You Beneath Your Skin is that the book is written by an author from India, about people who live there, and today’s culture. I was impressed with the back cover blurb and the “look inside” option on Amazon which meant I had to read this book.

What a wonderful look Damyanti has given me into the lives, politics, societal classing, and law-enforcement of a place I feel I do not know much about. The writing flowed well with lots of great description to put me into the story of a single woman and her autistic son. I feel I was given a unique look into New Delhi and India that I will not get anywhere else.

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas keeps on giving from the first word until the last. The beginning is a slow burn and takes a little while to get started, but once the acid murders start in the slums, the book takes off and I couldn’t put it down. There is a wee bit of violence against women, but I thought while graphic, it is done well and advances the plot of the story.

I feel the author did a splendid job of showing who the characters are and the lives they live. The characters take you on a wild ride of discovery and looking deep within themselves. Overall, this is a must-read if you like books in general, and for sure if you enjoy crime thrillers and want to learn more about the people of India.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Katharina: Deliverance by Margaret Skea

At five, Katharina is placed in a convent.
At twenty-three, she escapes.
At twenty-five, she marries the most controversial man in Europe.

This is her story – of courage, resilience in the face of adversity and a determination to choose her own life.

 

A little about Margaret first:

Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’ but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders. Margaret is passionate about well-researched, authentic historical fiction and providing a ‘you are there’ experience for the reader. She has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.

You can find more details, including why chocolate is vital to her creative process, on her website.

 

Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars

Having a lifelong interest and admiration for Katherine von Bora, wife of the 16th-century reformer, Dr. Martin Luther, I was excited to get the chance to read and review Margaret Skea’s novel, Katherina: Deliverance. Katherina von Bora, one of the unsung heroines of the Protestant Reformation, is too often overlooked for novelized subjects, despite being a historical writer’s dream on so many levels.

Rejected by her family as a child after her mother’s death, consigned to convent life against her will and then gaining independence in choosing her own course in life lead to an unexpected marriage to the most infamous and controversial man of 16th century Europe. Katherina’s life is the stuff of a Hollywood or BBC miniseries. Aside from a couple of young adult Christian novels, there’s been precious little to speak of in literature and certainly, nothing suited for the mature reader until now.

In her 2017 book, Skea takes a few bare-bones facts mingled with lore and spins it all into a richer historical series aimed at adults. This is no mere historical romance or inspirational Christian saga. Instead, Skea brings us deep into the issues of the Reformation and puts Katharina right in the heart of it. This Katie is shown to be a spirited thinker with a decided mind of her own, while also being suitably devout and demure for a woman of her times.

What is also refreshing is Skea’s innovative spin on previously accepted theories of Katie Luther’s life. Did she and eleven other nuns really escape the convent in herring barrels? Or is this just a tall tale based on misinformation? When confronting Katie’s refusal to marry Pastor Glatz did she really suggest as an alternative, either Luther or Amsdorf, in a coy attempt at setting her cap for her man, as some scholars presume? Or was it merely a fleeting, if absurd, thought to underscore her desperation and determined will?

Skea considers these views and takes a refreshing twist that brings a whole new perspective to things we thought we knew, as well as taking us into the intimate aspects of Martin and Katie’s first awkward weeks together in the Black Cloister, from the marriage bed and beyond. Yet even this is done with enough tempered discretion to appease the most discerning Christian reader.

Above all, Katherina’s faith shines through against a firestorm of events during a defining moment in history, as duty and personal happiness weigh in the balance. Skea’s skill and insight are apparent without the didactic preachiness of most Spiritual fiction.

For those not well versed in the Reformation era or German Lutheran history, Skea offers an easy informed read with a character list, glossary, and historic notes in the back to bring it all into focus. The laundry list of names and characters can be daunting at times, particularly for those not well versed in the Reformation and its key players. But there is enough to keep abreast of the story and encourage further study.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.9-Stars

This novel convincingly portrays a young Katharina Von Bora, a woman who would have been long forgotten were it not for her own boldness and choice of husband. Like thousands of other young girls, Katharina was sent to a convent to relieve her family of the burden of raising and marrying her off. Unlike almost all who had come before her Katherina chose a different path than the convent at great risk, a path one might say indicates greater faith in God than a lifetime in a nunnery.

Skea does a marvelous job of filling in the gaps in Katharina’s life – of which there are many – while working within the framework of known historical facts. It would have been tempting for an author to write Martin and Katharina’s story as more romantic than it truly was, but Skea does not give in to this temptation. Katharina makes a decision based on much more than passionate love, a type of decision that is rarely made in modern courtships, and this story is faithfully told.

Though Martin Luther is not heavily featured until later in Katherina’s story, he is present through quotes that appear at the beginning of each chapter, giving the reader the sensation that the two were on paths destined to intersect long before they knew each other. While their courtship is not the stuff of a romantic blockbuster movie, we are given hints that they did indeed grow to love each other very much through glimpses of Katharina later in life.

Neither Martin nor Katharina is perfect. Luther’s fiery temper and impetuosity is on display, as is Katharina’s willingness to firmly defend her own opinions. It is made clear that neither was the other’s first choice, but they both determined to make the marriage work, not only for their own sake but for the greater glory of God. ‘He is a good man, who, if some of his wilder impulses can be contained, may yet become great.’ Become great he did, with an amazing woman to support him.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

To Catch a Magic Thief (The Magic Collectors) by E.J. Kitchens

An unlikely hero and a cursed heroine deal with more than pride and prejudice as they race to stop a cunning thief.
Falsely accused of being the notorious Magic Thief, the non-magic Marcel Ellsworth, Baron of Carrington, wants nothing more than to stay away from enchanters and sorcerers. Unfortunately, he soon discovers his mentor, the Duke of Henly, is head of a family of proud enchanters—and that they’re the next target of the Magic Thief, a servant of the sorcerers. With the threat of another accusation hanging over him, Marcel sets out to prove his innocence, especially to the duke’s beautiful daughter Gabriella, and to stop the Thief once and for all.

But Gabriella is hiding a deadly secret that complicates Marcel’s mission and raises its stakes. For one thing is certain: the Magic Thief has come for more than magical treasures—he’s come for Gabriella.

THE MAGIC COLLECTORS series features stand-alone novels that can be read in any order. They are clean fantasy novels with adventure, humor, and romance in E.J. Kitchens’s classic “Jane Austen romance meets fairytale adventure” style.

A little about E.J. first:


E.J. Kitchens loves tales of romance, adventure, and happily-ever-afters and strives to write such tales herself. When she’s not thinking about dashing heroes or how awesome bacteria are–she is a microbiologist after all–she’s probably photographing flowers, walking in the woods, or talking about classic books and black-and-white movies. Elizabeth is a member of Realm Makers and blogs at Lands Uncharted. She lives in Alabama.

If you’d like up-to-date news on her writing, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.8-Stars

I’ll be honest, from the blurb I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book, part of me thought I wouldn’t like it. I was rather pleasantly surprised. It had an old-time Jane Austin/Downton Abbey feel with magic and mystery at every turn. E J Kitchens weaves a beautiful story with characters that felt real. Never forced, and never out of character. They rang true. I found myself feeling sorry for the misunderstood, bumbling Barron of Carrington and hoping for the change in the self-righteous Gabriella. I rooted for them to grow and fight the pressures and prejudices surrounding them.

The author’s word choice is brilliant, enabling me to envision the story with clarity, never lost–wondering what I’d missed.

To Catch a Magic Thief’s pace is more fitting for those who enjoy sitting on a porch sipping tea as opposed to those who’d prefer a more adrenaline-pumping pastime. But it is highly entertaining and will suck you in if you let it. For those who enjoy Jane Austin and Downton Abbey, but would like a bit of Harry Potter thrown in, this book is for you.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars

There is a great deal to like about this book. As other reviews have noted, it has the feel of a YA fantasy like Harry Potter if it took place in Regency England or a Jane Austen novel or a Disney fairy tale. Gabriella Floraison is a wealthy nobleman’s daughter who has strange dreams that hearken to something terrible in her past. It turns out a Magic Thief is pursuing her for the use of her magic wand.

Enter, a dashing, though somewhat bumbling young man, Marcel Ellsworth, who aids her cause and helps her to untangle the mess of a lost wand, weird spells, and a web of conspiracy and prejudice surrounding the “half-magics” and sorcerers who have a long and fractured history with their world. I should have loved this book. I am a huge fan of those series reminiscent in this book.

However, this one seems to try a bit too hard to be something it is not. Both J.K. Rowling and Jane Austen are masterful storytellers. Every word packs a punch and holds the reader’s interest, even when it is seemingly slow and ordinary. There is always some hint of tension and movement toward the final goal. That was not the case in this book. The language vacillated from lyrical eloquence to common teen-speak. There were moments of great tension and interesting bits of world-building only to be bored to tears with everyday talk that seemed to have nothing to do with the plot whatsoever.

I soon found it was easier to skim than slog through the mire of conversations I didn’t need to be present in order to figure out the plot. And if I missed something crucial, not to worry, because important points were rehashed at just the right point to keep me abreast of the situation. Apparently, there are readers for this kind of story, perhaps for the young adult crowd or those who don’t mind reading the everyday drivel that accomplished writers know to edit out of their manuscripts.

Overall, it isn’t a bad book and one that I am glad I took the chance to read. Kitchens could have told a better story in about half the pages, or at the very least spent more of those words on a bit more world-building. The only place that happened was in the epigraph quotes heading each chapter. These were very well done and made to look like literature from the world in which the protagonists lived. It shows that the author does know how to write well and has a solid imaginative view of her story world.

It is just a shame she didn’t put as much effort into the editing of the manuscript to hone it into shape as well. Four stars for the attempt and for the exquisite cover art and title. I just wish it could have been something I would recommend and read again. Perhaps it could be for other readers so don’t let that stop anyone from giving it a try.

Share your review in the comments for a chance to with a $10 Amazon Gift card!

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

That’s Our Home by Miss Jude Lennon

“Don’t do that! That’s our home! You’re just not being green. Use a bin or take it home. Keep the beaches clean.” Starfish, Crab, and Seagull live on a beautiful beach which is being ruined by rubbish and plastic. Join them as they speak to the people on the beach and remind them about the importance of looking after the beaches and coastlines for everyone.

 

 

A little about Jude first:

Born in the seaside town of Southport on the North West Coast of England, I spent 11 years living and teaching in London before settling back up north in Liverpool in 2011. I was an Early Years Teacher for 18 years which complemented my love of all things creative, books and words. Since leaving teaching I’ve changed from a teacher who loved writing into an author who loves storytelling.

I love walking, camping in Buttercup, reading, music, going to gigs and the beach. I’m also rather partial to chocolate and my favourite animals are elephants but don’t tell Lamby!

I love writing books for children and I also run a storytelling business called Little Lamb Tales. I have published 18 books for children to date and I love the imagination and creativity involved in writing for this age group. Many of my stories feature my storytelling mascot Lamby who even has his own Facebook page. My writing is branching out into Adult fiction and in November 2019 I launched my collection of short stories for the adult market. I am currently working on a full-length novel. I am a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Team Author UK and I am the current Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate for the North West of England. I am also a Patron of Reading whose main mission is to encourage and promote reading for pleasure. For 18 years I was a teacher who loved writing and now I’m an author who loves storytelling… how does it get any better than that?

5-Year-Old Logan’s Review: 5-Stars

My favorite part of the book was teaching the people to pick up the trash, and I didn’t like the people throwing their stuff on the ground. They made a mess on the beach, and people shouldn’t do that.

The pictures were funny, and I liked them a lot. My favorite character is the crab because it’s a girl and has silly chins. The seagull is really smart.

I learned a lot of lessons about keeping the beach clean. I learned not to throw my trash on the beach because the earth is so pretty and the trash all over the world will make it look ugly. And, I learned about being green. I really liked this book a lot.

10-Year-old Madi’s Review: 4.5-Stars

My favorite part was when the crab had her claws on her hips and was loud with her tiny little lips. We learned a few lessons about using reusable straws and don’t litter. The main lesson was don ‘t litter and use reusable bags and other things. If there isn’t any, take your trash home or throw it in a trash bin.

Crab was totally my favorite character. The looks on the faces of the fish in the tide pools, they all looked different with expressions you could read. They didn’t like the trash and taught people how to be green and keep the beach clean. They told them the lessons on being green and what to do with your trash.

The beach belongs to the characters and they don’t like anyone throwing their trash everywhere.

I take away a half of a point because it said the same thing over and over. But, I did love the book and I think it teaches some good things on how to be green and make the world a better place.

Share your review in the comments for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

The winner is Diane Andersen.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.
Love0

Time Shifters: Into the Past: (Time Shifters Book 1) by Kate Frost

Time-shifted to the past, three twenty-first century children fight to survive or risk being lost in time forever.

When Maisie Brown is time-shifted to 1471 during a school trip to Warwick Castle, it’s the beginning of an incredible adventure. The only problem is she has to share it with Lizzie, the class bully, instead of her best friend Danny. He’s managed to get caught up with an army marching to battle.

Determined to save him, Maisie and Lizzie leave the safety of the castle. Battling against everything that Medieval England throws at them, the girls find unexpected help from a Lord with a surprising secret and discover that two mysterious hooded riders are hunting them. With time running out to find Danny, they realise they have the unlikeliest of allies.

The chase is on. Will they be stuck in the past, or can they find a way home before being time-shifted again?

A little about Kate first:

Kate Frost has wanted to be an author ever since she wrote her first novel during the long months she spent off school following open-heart surgery when she was seven. The novel was called London’s Burning and was a time travel story set during the Great Fire of London.

Over the years Kate has worked in a cinema, a bookshop, a factory, and at NHS Direct. She’s also worked as ground staff at Edgebaston Tennis Tournament and as a Supporting Artist in the films Vanity Fair, King Arthur, and The Duchess. Kate has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has also taught life-writing to Creative Writing undergraduates there.

Kate lives in the UK with her husband, young son, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and spends her days chasing after an energetic pre-schooler and not keeping on top of the housework.

Go to and join Kate Frost’s Readers’ Club to receive the free and exclusive prequel novella to The Butterfly Storm. Find out more about Kate and her writing on her blog, and Facebook.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.3-Stars

I like the cover. It gives off a mysterious vibe that makes me pick up the book and look at it.

Love the way it starts. Kids on a field trip to a castle, what’s not to like about that? When the main character, Maisie is shifted into 1471, she is stuck with the school bully Lizzie. Maisie spots her best friend, Danny mixed in with an army leaving for The War of the Roses.

Kate Frost did a splendid job with the setting and descriptions, and with the great addition of smell and texture, I was transported into the past. The only thing that pulled me out of the story was all the camping gear they got from a helpful friend (also time-shifted from the future). The gas camping stove was a bit over the top.

Kate did a good job of making me dislike Lizzie to the point I wanted to just leave her behind. Arguing causes the time shifts if they are in the right spot, but it won’t send them to the right time. I like that idea, nice twist. But… Lizzie did get a little tiring.

There is some good intrigue with mysterious strangers chasing them as they hop through time, meet their future selves, and take you on a little history lesson along the way. Overall, I loved the book and think it is a good read for 11, 12, 13-year-olds.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 3.5-Stars

Writing time-slip novels is always a challenge in both keeping all the loose ends straight from present to past and then back to the present once again. And then there is the inevitable issue of confusing the reader will too much juggling of past and present without leaving a huge gaping plot hole. While I do love the possibilities time travel could bring, when it comes to bringing it to life in fiction, there are very few authors who can truly utilize this device effectively. In the case of this week’s book, “Time Shifters” makes a valiant and charming attempt at using a time slip trope to teach about the past and engage readers in historic events. However, like most time slip devices, this one falls quite short of its goal, if that was indeed the goal at all.

At first, I was very excited to read this story that started off on all the right notes for a middle grade to young adult novel. Middle school friends, Maizie, Lizzie, and Danny, are on a field trip to Warwick Castle, a key setting in the empire defining War of the Roses. When they are mysteriously transported to the year 1471, they are at a loss as to how to survive in a world without modern conveniences, let alone during a tumultuous time and no idea of how to return home to the 21st century. Conditions continue to worsen when they find they are being pursued by a mysterious pair of 23rd-century criminals who hunt time shifters as “community service” rather than face prison.

All that seems to have the makings of one very riveting, fast-paced novel for middle school readers and possibly even adults, like me, who can appreciate a good story regardless of the target audience. Unfortunately, I found far too many issues making this one not heartily recommend to anyone, let alone young readers. If a story is going to attempt a time slip into a defining moment in history, I would expect that to be the focus. I would actually want to meet Richard Warwick or King Edward or even Princess Elizabeth, the future mother of Henry VIII. Instead, the reader is subjected to chapter upon chapter of our intrepid trio stumbling through the past on their own, encountering the most mundane of circumstances (working in taverns, sleeping on straw), and worst of all, bickering over every little thing. There were times I really wanted to jump into the book and knock them back into the future. Instead, I kept putting the book down, dreading having to pick it up again.

Perhaps if I had not already been immersed in this era, having just read another novel on the War of the Roses, I might’ve found this adolescent bickering less irritating. But a tremendous opportunity was missed here, nonetheless: to use historical fiction to engage kids into the past as a teaching moment through the art of storytelling and encourage reading. At the very least, I would hope young readers will whet their appetite enough to pursue more reading on their own in spite of the lack of historical grounding here. And yet why? There wasn’t much to go on and, had I not already been reading a story about this time period and knew the historical characters, I doubt any detail would have made any sort of impression at all, let alone any sense of the significance of these events.

To add even more confusion, the kids continue to time-shift into later periods without any real context or engagement. From 1471 they land in the Plague Year of 1666, right amidst the Great London Fire and then time jump briefly to the 18th century before finally landing home, conveniently with the help of their older selves who travel back just in time to meet them and save the day. Everything about this story is confusing and deceptive, including the cover which promises a dark, eerie tale of mystery and mayhem only to be given three bickering buddies who haplessly romp through time for no apparent purpose. There’s a whimsical, comedic element to this entire tale that wraps everything up neatly in one nice bow by the end, but that’s not nearly enough to make this worth the read unless that is all one is looking for. In this case, you really can’t tell a book by its cover. For that, I can only give this 3.5 stars.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Dreamscape: Looking for Altheda by Elizabeth Klein


Dreamscape: Looking for Altheda is a psychological fantasy quest entwined with a wide range of traditional stories and themes that’ll be sure to evoke some genuine scares in young readers. Amid the absurdity of negotiating a fairy tale world that exists inside a wooden chest, the young protagonist, Samuel Flynn, unspools an impossible adventure with heart-racing perils that unfold in the land of Dreamscape. The story takes many turns with humorous situations that’ll surely make readers giggle and gasp right up until the climax when Sam battles it out with an evil queen and saves not only Dreamscape, but his own world too.

A little about Elizabeth first:


In 2015, my husband and I sold up and left Sydney to live in a caravan. We’ve travelled ever since and have experienced many adventures of our own from a mini tornado to floods cutting us off from civilization. I love chocolate and anything sweet and delicious, reading YA fantasy books and watching adventure movies. I mostly write Children’s and Young Adult fantasy stories, but I consider myself more of a daydreamer and seeker of wondrous realms.

 

Karen Meyer’s Review: 5-Stars

When I started reading after Sam went to Dreamscape it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. Then I thought of Forest Gump where he had all these incredible things happen to him and he told about them so nonchalantly.

I loved the book and the way the author brought up the fairy tale people so seamlessly and made it work. The adventure was outstanding. The age group will enjoy this little book a lot I predict. I highly recommend it as a YA genre and want to thank Elizabeth for turning it in for review. I give it 5 stars and hope to see more from this author.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.8-Stars

Never before have I read a book with so many characters and elements from different fables, nursery rhymes, and children’s stories that felt so much like an original story. I’ve read a few before that have mixed together elements from older stories but most of them have felt more like story patchwork.

Sam sets off on a quest to rescue his long lost grandmother from another world, accessed through an old chest using a green coat. On his way, he meets lots of familiar characters, some who aid his journey and some who try to end it. All the way through it’s fast-paced and set in a world that is so beautifully intricate that it’s easy to imagine yourself right alongside the characters.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share your review of this book in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Margaret of Wessex: Mother, Saint, and Queen of Scots (The Legendary Women of World History Book 10) by Laurel A. Rockefeller

The 11th century was a dangerous time to be of the line unbroken of King Æthelred II Unread and his first queen, Æfgifu of York. Born in Hungary after King Canute III’s failed attempt to murder her father, Edward the Exile, Margaret found her life turned upside down by King Edward the Confessor’s discovery of her father’s survival — and the resulting recall of her family to England.
Now a political hostage only kept alive for as long as it served powerful men’s interests, Margaret and her family found King Máel Coluim mac Donnchadh Ceann Mhor (Malcolm III Canmore)’s invitation to his court in Dunfermline in Alba the long-awaited answer to her prayers.

Scotland would never be the same again.

Includes two family tree charts, an expansive timeline covering over three thousand years of Pictish and medieval history, plus Roman Catholic prayers, and a bibliography so you can keep learning.

A little about Laurel first:

Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is an author of over twenty books published and self-published since August 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide. With her lyrical writing style, Laurel’s books are as beautiful to read as they are informative. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, travelling to historic places in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series. Favourites: Star Trek, Doctor Who, original Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5. Winner of the “Godiva Book Award” for 2019, Laurel is a proud supporter of Foster Parrots Ltd., The Arbor Day Foundation, and Health in Harmony.

Karen Meyer’s Review: 4-Stars

I have to say right up front that the only reason I finished this novel is because Laurel wrote it. There were so many characters that I had a hard time keeping everyone straight. Laurel’s research is impeccable, so I know everything is true and that this is a good history book. The problem lies in the fact that it is a true love story, and I just got too bogged down in the facts to enjoy the story itself.

It didn’t capture my interest at the beginning like her previous novels and because of that, I will give this novel 4 stars.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4-Stars

These kinds of covers on books will always make me stop and take a second look. I write historical romance/erotica and they are great research material for me. The best thing about Laurel’s series on the women of history is she makes learning fun. This set of books is told like a story, not like facts in an encyclopedia.

The beginning of this book was a little hard for me to get into. There are a lot of names and family history that I don’t really think a 12-year-old Margret would discuss in such detail with the Priest. It felt like both characters should already know the information, and the author was looking to get the needed information into the story.

I’m always a fan of a family tree, and Laurel’s is splendid. I also enjoyed the images in the story

I couldn’t really get into this book as well as Laurel’s other books in The Legendary Women of World History. It had a few glitches for me and felt like learning material. However, this book is still a great addition to any study materials.

I do love how Laurel brought Margret together throughout the story. Laurel has a way of making historical people feel like real people that you can connect with even today.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card. The more books you review each month, the more chances to win.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Reformed: Supervillain Rehabilitation Project by H. L. Burke

Once a villain, always a villain?
Optimistic and idealistic superhero Prism is determined to redeem her father’s legacy by rebooting his supervillain rehabilitation program. To do so, she sets her sights on Fade, the relapsed supervillain who was the reason the government canceled the original program in the first place. However, when she petitions for Fade to be released into her custody, she finds out things might not be as simple as she thought.

Convicted of an unforgivable crime, Fade received a choice: surrender to trial and possible execution or endure a memory erasure so he could start fresh. Now with no recollection of his time before incarceration, Fade doubts he has the ability to be anything but the villain the public believes him to be.

A series of attacks by a mysterious power-swapping villain points back to Fade’s past and the crime that cost him his freedom and memory. With her father’s legacy and her own reputation on the line, even Prism has to wonder: can a villain truly be reformed?

A little about H. L. first:

Born in a small town in north-central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

She is the author of a four-part fantasy/romance series entitled “The Dragon and the Scholar,” the Award Winning (2016 Realm Award for Young Adult Fiction) Nyssa Glass Steampunk series, and MG/Fantasy “Cora and the Nurse Dragon,” among others.

Sign up for her monthly newsletter at www.hlburkeauthor.com

Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars

Let me say first, I am not a fan of superhero comics or novels. I can appreciate them when there is an underlying good story or interesting characters to follow and I am always willing to give any story a fair shot. In the case of Reformed: Superhero Rehabilitation Project, it was the unique idea of reforming a superhero villain, something completely unorthodox, given the static nature of the characterizations in these types of genre. We absolutely want our superheroes to be noble and heroic and our villains to be super bad and irredeemable. We love it when they come to a bad end and get what they deserve, perhaps because real life just doesn’t always work out that way. That is the perennial appeal of superhero stories.

Here was a unique twist where the story starts off with a villain, named Fade, in custody and a heroine, known by the code name, Prism, bent on finding out why he went bad and looking for a possibility to reform his ways. Initially, the story intrigued me and kept me turning pages, despite a lack of fluid descriptions and odd names that are actually nouns in themselves (i.e. Prism, Fade, etc) Perhaps if I were more ingrained in this genre and read more comic books or graphic novels, I would be able to visualize the superhero antics and “powers” easily and keep names straight with an increasingly list of character names dropped without much description to go on.

However, in any genre, it always helps to set things up carefully enough that any reader picking it off the shelf can readily fall into the scenes. This was not always the case here. I backtracked frequently to make sure I understood who was talking, who was even who, based on names that changed and a host of characters again, with code names from common words while also keeping track of their real names and relationships. I really wanted to feel every moment of this book and by the middle, it just started to drag and was not really building to anything significant, just a lot of rehashing past events and dissecting police procedurals with a superhero spin.

Granted, this is book 1 in a series so perhaps it is intended to spread the intrigue and be a slow burn over the length of several books. For those who are fans of this genre, I would recommend reading this series. The author is very good at her craft but I enjoyed her steampunk series much more. Maybe I am just not the target audience for this series and others are. It is definitely worth a look.

Corinne Morier’s Review: 4.5-Stars

Reformed by HL Burke 🦸
Genre: Adult urban fantasy/superheroes 🦸‍♂️🦸‍♀️
My connection to this book: I belong to The Naked Reviewers and this was one of our August picks. Burke is one of my favorite authors, though I was not initially interested in reading this one–I’m not very interested in superhero stories and so decided that I would read through more of her backlist of straightforward fantasy books first and see if superheroes were something I became interested in later on. But then I ended up beta reading Relapsed: A Supervillain Rehabilitation Short, which is a short story tie-in to this book (I just recently learned that it’s a prequel to this series, showing Fade five years before the events of this story) and ended up enjoying that one a lot. I know I always enjoy Burke’s writing style and so far, all of her books have been either four or five stars for me, so I decided to push myself a bit and read something I don’t usually pick up.
My rating: 4/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

As always, this review is my own personal opinion and I’m coming at this from someone whose only previous experience with superhero stories was watching the Teen Titans and X-Men Evolution cartoons as a kid, and then of course, watching The Incredibles movies later on as an adult.

29995224._SX540_ Untitled
716RrNAAMQL._SY445_ 81-o6KyAQhL._SX342_

What didn’t I like about this book?
As always, I will discuss three things I enjoyed and three things I did not enjoy, alternating bad-good-bad-good-bad-good so that you can make your own decision about whether or not to read this book! Let’s start with…

I Liked Her Other Stuff Better
Not Sure If Fry meme saying Not sure if weak writing, or just me being picky again
Allow me to quote from another review I wrote, in which I said
Screenshot of one of my other reviews saying The TL;DR version of this review is that while it's an enjoyable story at its core, I didn't enjoy it as much because my editor brain kept saying
Like I said above, I’ve read quite a few of Burke’s other books before this one and thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. But this one, it just felt less… polished, I guess you could say. My editor brain kept wanting to rewrite sentences and rearrange the order of scenes, and oooh, the echo words, my number one pet peeve. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of echo words, an echo word is basically an instance of repeating a word in the same sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, etc. Like using “hesitated” and then saying a character “hesitated” again two pages later. Or if a character “squinted” and then two paragraphs later, another character “squint”s. It just felt more rushed and unpolished than Burke’s earlier works, which didn’t suffer from these same problems.

Something I enjoyed

Shipper On Deck
One Does Not Simply meme saying One does not simply read an HL Burke book without shipping the romance
As can be expected from Burke, I was a big fan of the romance. The main couple is probably the one you’re predicting to happen, but for the sake of just-in-case spoilers, I won’t say any names. And it was kind of my favorite way for romance to develop in a story: two people thrown together because of outside circumstances/another person deciding that this will be the person’s new coworker/classmate/housemate/etc., who then learn to love and appreciate one another and they grow from reluctant colleagues to friends to awkward friends to maybe-more-than-friends to “oh, lol, we like each other, who knew?” It was just so cute, and the two romantic leads just seem made for each other–they would literally die for each other, they work well together, and they have their differences but can work past them and just be a great couple together.

Switching back to something I didn’t enjoy as much…

Plot Conveniences
Nut Button meme saying Me reading this book, slapping a button that says Porter coming in at the last minute and saving the day
A lot of times, the story would progress not because of the heroes using their smarts or because of allies of the heroes lending them the use of their powers, but because of what seemed like contrived coincidences solving problems for the heroes.

For example, one of the characters in this book is named Bob, codename Keeper, who, for about 150 pages, has no actual role in the story. I was reading this book and every time Bob/Keeper was mentioned, I would shake my phone and shout “NO ONE WANTS YOU YOU’RE POINTLESS!!” He’s an older guy who’s been with Prism’s team for years, and when Prism and her team find themselves facing up against a new villain named Mymic, they can’t figure out which of their bosses they can trust anymore or what Mymic’s true intentions are. But Keeper just so happens to have a friend who runs a bubble tea shop who has all the resources the heroes need to accomplish their goals: an underground network of spies who gather intel on the various people of DOSA, years of research into peoples of interest, and gadgets that are just as technologically advanced as the ones produced by a large government agency (again, this guy runs a teeny-tiny bubble tea shop and has no affiliation with the government)!

Or at the climax of the story when Fade and Prism are trapped inside the team’s headquarters and all looks bleak, until another team of superheroes arrives to help them evacuate. And it just so happens that one of them, a guy named Porter, has just the powers they need to prevent a dangerous lethal gas from killing everyone within a ten-mile radius! It’d be one thing if we’d met Porter earlier in the story, or if Prism and her teammates already were acquainted with the bubble tea guy and frequently worked with him on their missions. But with the way these aspects of the story were set up, it just read as contrived deus ex machina events, rather than a logical progression of story elements.

Let’s go back to talking about something a bit more positive…

Laugh out loud humor
Patrick meme saying There was once a book that made me laugh, it was this one, the end!
Again, as expected of Burke: the humor in this book was laugh-out-loud funny. Let’s examine a few of my favorite quotes that made me have to stop reading so I could finish laughing.

Tanvi stomped in. With her mouth a grim line but her eyes twinkling, she marched up to Fade and tossed a sock on the table in front of him. He glanced at it, then at her, then tilted his head to one side. “Am I a free elf now or something?”

Fifth floor, door with the…” she choked, “Door with The Princess Bride poster on it.”

(note: this is only funny if you know Burke personally, but I do, and I know for a fact that she’s a huge Princess Bride fan, so this is hilarious to me)

The gentle hum of his powers diffused into her skin. His breath warmed her. His arms kept her (Prism) standing against the pummeling of her own grief.

Cody sidled up to them. “Now kiss,” he said.

It’s even funnier because right after this, Prism b*tchslaps him with her powers. xD

Last not-so-good thing…

Hard Going At the Start
Not sure if Fry meme saying Not sure if this takes place before or after the short story.
It took me quite a bit of time and effort to get into this book for two reasons.

The first is because I read Relapsed, the tie-in short story, before this. I was mistaken in thinking that Relapsed took place after this book, showing a “far future” when Fade was doing successful work for DOSA, until I started reading and was confused as to why Fade was back in jail. Then I learned that Relapsed takes place before this book, at which point I was very disillusioned; to me, Fade was almost a hero in the short story, and I had high hopes for him, especially at the end of the short when he and his mentor Allay have a heart-to-heart and Allay allays (pun totally intended) some of Fade’s fears. So to have Fade back in jail, accused of killing so many people, it was just very disconcerting for me. Of course, if you go into this book without having first read the short story, you probably won’t encounter this problem.

The second reason I had trouble getting into this story was because there was a three-month time skip between Chapter Seven and Chapter Eight. In Chapter Seven, Fade has just joined Prism’s team but because of the voluntary mind-wipe procedure he voluntarily underwent as a part of his reform, he doesn’t even know if he likes sushi, and he doesn’t know if other people will be accepting of him, a former criminal, being out and about in public. But then instead of his first public outing to get sushi, we skip three months and he’s just like “yeah, now I’m part of Prism’s team, sushi is long finished.” We don’t even get to see the reactions of the normies to him being in public, which up until this point in the story, was written as if it were a very important issue. Yes, the time skip ended up being very necessary, mostly for the development of the romance, but I felt like we needed to see that “first public outing” that Fade takes and then skip ahead three months.

Lastly, let’s discuss one more thing I enjoyed about this book…

Deep, Thematic Issues To Make You Think
Is This a Pigeon Meme saying Me not liking superhero stories, Creators using the concept of superheroes to explore deeper issues like morality, humanity, and responsibility, Is this an amazing story?
I will freely admit that though I did watch several aforementioned superhero shows growing up, once I lost interest in those TV series, I stopped actively reaching for superhero stories in general. Even when I watched The Incredibles, it was more because I was trying to watch every single Disney/Pixar movie and that one was next on my list, rather than any organic interest in superheroes. But here, Burke explores so many deep themes, like morality, responsibility, humanity, and faith that you can’t help but appreciate it.

Particularly poignant is Fade’s doubts about how he can’t remember the crimes he committed, so how much hero work does he have to do before the amount of good he’s contributed outweighs his previous bad acts. Normies (humans without powers) have prejudices against sables (super-ableds) because they’re not fully human. Burke also explores a superhero’s moral responsibility to do no harm–admittedly, kind of cliche for a story like this, but appreciated nonetheless. Lately, I’ve really had trouble picking up “fun” books, and my collection of fairy tale retellings, lighthearted fantasy books about princesses kissing frogs, and girls turning into ogres has lost my interest.

Now I only want to read “important” books, because the world is so grim and hopeless anyway that I may as well learn as much as I can about as many subjects as I can before the apocalypse hits. xD

Reformed hits just the right balance of “serious” and “funny” to fit my needs in this trying time–it takes itself seriously and explores deep themes that make you think but also doesn’t hesitate to throw in a laugh or two along the way.

In conclusion
Reformed by HL Burke gets 4/5 stars from me for:
👍 The amazing romance
👍 The perfect comedic timing of the humor
👍 The exploration of moralistic themes that make this more than just a laugh fest
👎 The writing was weaker than what I know she can produce
👎 Some contrived characters and plot conveniences cheapen the reading experience
👎 Difficult to get into the story and the time skip felt like it came in too soon

 

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

All the Love You Write by D. G. Driver

A story about young love, first love, true love, timeless love, and the power of love letters.
Mark and Bethany are two mismatched high school seniors in a new relationship.

It’s doomed to fail.

Mark has adored Bethany since middle school, and she’s finally giving him a chance. Only, he’s clumsy at romance and knows he’ll lose her because of it. Bethany thinks Mark is sweet. Only, she’s afraid to commit her whole heart to him because he’s going into the army and she’s headed off to college.

Fifty years earlier, a boy and a girl from the same high school shared an amazing love story. They have now returned as ghosts and are interfering in Mark and Bethany’s relationship. Who are they? Why do they care what happens to Mark and Bethany?

A little about Donna first:

D. G. Driver is an optimist at heart, and that’s why she likes to write about young people making an impact on the world. You’ll find among her books a teen environmental activist, a young girl teaching people about autism acceptance and to stop bullying people with special needs, a princess who wants to be more than a prize for a prince, a boy who wins a girl’s heart by being genuine and chivalrous, and a girl who bravely searches for a friend lost along the shore of a dark lake. She is a multi-award-winning author of books for teens and tweens, but you’ll find some romance and horror stories in the anthologies, too. When Driver isn’t writing, she’s a teacher at an inclusive child development program in Nashville, TN. She might also take a break from writing once in a while to strut the stage in a local theater production. You’re guaranteed to find her belting out Broadway show tunes anytime she’s driving.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.7-Stars

I love the cover for this book. It’s simple, elegant, and says romance to me. The writing is done well and the words flow nicely on the page. I really enjoyed how All the Love You Write started. I was very intrigued to find out about the notes Mark found and then they disappeared. That was a great beginning to this romance mixed with a ghost story.

The budding romance between Mark and Bethany made me feel bad for Mark. She made it pretty obvious to me that she didn’t really care about him. And then he wrote a letter with the help of a ghost. I think Donna did a great job with these two characters and how they interacted with each other. The ghosts were introduced into the story from the start, and I loved how Donna Driver set it all up.

The decisions the teenagers make feel real to me. I remember when I was in high school. It was all such a landmine for me, and I sympathize with Mark. Britany also felt like a real teenage girl, going back-and-forth over Mark and an ex-abusive boyfriend named Lance.

Loved reading the love letters with Mark and Bethany. Overall, I enjoyed All the Love You Write by D. G. Driver.

The story drags in places, and I do feel that with a good edit some of the less engaging parts could be cut to trim the overall size of the book.

Corinne Morier’s Review: 2.5-Stars

Meme saying Brace yourselves, the tea is going to be spilled here
Did I expect this to be a five-star read before accepting it for review? Well, at least a four-star read, for sure. After reading the writing sample sent to us by Driver, I thought this could be a four-star read, easy. Not to mention that I’ve been eyeing a few other of her books, so I thought this was a good opportunity to get acquainted with her works.

(Warning: In the later portions of this review, I get very ranty, and when I get ranty, I swear a lot, so here’s your obligatory NSFW warning!)

What did I like about this book?
Note: Usually, in my reviews, I try and be fair and balanced and discuss three things I liked and three things I didn’t like as much, but in this case, there are only two things I enjoyed about this book, so you’ll forgive me if it’s a 2:3 ratio this time!

First impressions
Is this a pigeon meme saying Me looking for a new book to read, A contemporary romance where the relationship is built through letters, emails, text messages, etc., Is this a book i need in my life right now?
The premise itself was rather interesting, as I am a sucker for romances where the relationship is built up through written communication such as letters, emails, or text messages. And the first couple of chapters were very promising in that regard: Mark and Bethany are texting back and forth as they try and figure out this whole “dating” thing. Cue me dying of happiness.

The suspense is terrible, I hope it’ll last
GIF of Willy Wonka eating popcorn and saying The suspense is terrible. I hope it'll last.
For the first six chapters, I was very intrigued to find out what would happen next. Mark is daydreaming in class and discovers that there was once a student who sat at his very desk who was dreaming about a girl named “Eileen.” Turns out that the boy who once dreamed about Eileen is now dead and wants to help Mark win Bethany’s affections, for some reason the ghost won’t explain. I was intrigued to learn who this ghost was and what his reasons were for helping Mark.

So let’s get into some things I didn’t enjoy about this book…

Ghost? That’s normal!

Mark tells Bethany and his mom about the ghost and they’re just like “Oh, that’s cool, there’s a ghost.” Ex-SQUEEZE ME? Normal people would be freaking out and taking their child to the doctor to make sure the kid’s head is still on straight. And if your boyfriend was like “Oh, a ghost told me how to get you to fall in love with me,” wouldn’t you be at least a LITTLE squicked out, like, “ew, what a creepy stalker,” sort of vibe? This just killed ALL believability for me and made me lose all respect for Bethany, Mark, and Mark’s mother.

Speaking of the characters…
Change my mind meme saying Me reading this book, Neither Lance nor Mark are good boyfriends to Bethany
I did not like a single character in this entire book. Mark? Weird, creepy stalker. Lance? Anger issues and abusive tendencies. Bethany? People-pleaser who can’t stand up for herself who has the opportunity to go through the most character development who, rather ironically, fails at everything despite being a straight-A student. Joe? Creepy grandfather who encourages his grandson to stalk a girl. Eileen? Creepy ghost-lady who ruins a girl’s life for no reason. Bethany’s so-called “friends”? Alpha-b*tches who encourage Bethany to “get back together” with Lance, said ex-boyfriend with anger management issues and abusive tendencies after they witness him assaulting Bethany. Bonus points for them continuing to try to bully Bethany into getting back together with Lance without anyone pointing out, “Hey, Lance is kind of abusive and has anger management issues, so maybe he’s not a good guy after all.” Mark’s parents? See the above-mentioned issue with the ghost just being “okay” with them.

And of them, Mark and Bethany were the literal worst. They didn’t work at all as a couple, with the only conflict in the entire book being a bunch of contrived misunderstandings. Both of them were stupid teenagers, and if they just TALKED all the conflict would vanish. “But wait,” I hear you saying. “This is a book about how writing letters and telling the person you love how you feel is the best way to get what you want, so it’s ironic that they can’t communicate! They have a lesson to learn that way!”

Normally I wouldn’t sin this trope so hard, especially in YA, but when the entire concept of your book is literally “Writing letters,” it’s kinda hard to NOT sin it because the irony hurts too much. Of course, if there was other conflict BESIDES the miscommunication, it would be less of a sin and more of an “oh, they’ve got a lesson to learn here, let’s see them get slapped with this irony” and it would have actually been interesting.

Why does he even like this b*tch?
Change my mind meme saying Me reading this book, Bethany is a selfish bitch for not appreciating Mark's effort to convey his feelings to her and for lying to his face

I quickly lost all respect for Bethany quite early on in the story–she couldn’t stand up for herself, she didn’t know what she wanted, and she was hella selfish. (we’re full-on ranting now–my California speak is showing. xD) Like when Mark posts a cute message on her Facebook wall, nothing too serious, just something along the lines of “I had lots of fun today! See you tomorrow at school!” This apparently isn’t good enough for her. No, she’s not trying to keep their relationship secret–she just thinks that it’s corny for Mark to use Facebook to talk to her instead of calling her or whatever. They get into another huge, melodramatic fight over this and Bethany goes on a date with her aforementioned abusive ex just to piss Mark off.

First World Problems meme saying Boyfriend sent me a romantic message on Facebook, better cheat on him with my abusive ex and then lie that I'm doing homework when he tries to call me

Ex-SQUEEZE me? I… I literally do not have the words for this. If you’re reading this review, I assume you see the problem with this already, so I’ll just continue.

I started to feel sorry for Mark at this point in the story, until…

Kermit sipping tea meme saying Even if your relationship is on the rocks, flirting with your girlfriend's friend is cheating on her, but that's none of my business

Mark also lost my respect because he openly FLIRTS with one of Bethany’s friends, soon after she blows him off for the Facebook thing. Dude, no, even if you had properly broken up with her, THAT IS ONE OF THE FRIENDS WHO KEEPS PRESSURING BETHANY TO GET BACK WITH THE ABUSIVE EX SO OBVIOUSLY SHE ISN’T A VERY NICE PERSON.

And then Bethany starts getting haunted by the “Eileen” from the past because apparently “Eileen” doesn’t approve of Bethany being Mark’s girlfriend, which made no sense because aside from some self-confidence issues, and being selfish and petty that text messages and Facebook posts aren’t good enough for her, Bethany is a well-adjusted young woman, going off to college with a bright future ahead of her.

You know what would have made this book more interesting? If Mark had actually stood up for himself and said, “You know what, Bethany? I really love you and I want this relationship to work, but you keep getting pissed at me for the littlest of things. I try and be a good boyfriend to you by utilizing multiple forms of communication to let you know how I feel so that you have no doubts, but I’m not getting the same level of commitment from you. Lance is an abusive d*ckhead, yeah I said it, and yet you keep going out with him and letting your friends push you around. You’ve got some serious issues to work out, so until you do, I think it’s better if we don’t go out anymore.”

HOLY SHIT GIVE ME THAT NOVEL INSTEAD. Then, instead of the entire middle of the novel being like “Look at this stack of old letters I found in my dead grandma’s house, let’s kiss!” both of them could actually have some character development, repair their friendship and their broken relationship, the ghosts would have their own internal conflicts: Eileen would be happy that Mark and Bethany are no longer dating, but Joe would be conflicted and feel rather betrayed. Or if Mark figured out that Bethany was being haunted by Eileen and broke up with her to protect her and then Bethany has to become a better person in order to prove to Eileen that she deserves Mark and get him back (kind of cliche, but way better than we got) and then I wouldn’t have had the problem of…

The suspense didn’t last
Two buttons meme saying Stop reading and just write a DNF review, Keep reading because maybe it'll get interesting again, Me feeling obligated to finish the book because it's for The Naked Reviewers

Up until Chapter Seven, there was a whole little mystery building up about who the ghost was who was trying to help Mark, which kept me reading. I still hadn’t yet become invested in Mark and Bethany’s relationship, so the mystery about the ghost was the main driving force for me to want to keep reading. But as soon as we met Mark’s grandmother for the first time in Chapter Seven, all tension from the story immediately evaporated. I knew immediately who the ghost was, what he wanted from Mark, and why he couldn’t just rest in peace. All story-related questions were answered for me, and there was no reason to keep reading. I did keep reading after that, but it became a chore, and I alternated between slogging through chapters and skimming them, stopping to read only if there seemed to be something important.

In conclusion
All the Love You Write by DG Driver gets 2/5 stars from me for:
👍 An interesting story premise that makes me want to read
👍 The first few chapters being intriguing with the ghost aspect
👎 All tension evaporating from the story after Chapter Seven
👎 Unrealistic characters, none of whom are enjoyable enough to spend time with

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

An Unexpected Adventure (Myth Coast Adventures Book 1) by Kandi J Wyatt

Harley will do anything to keep his new pal safe. But a hungry dragon needs to eat. And the government is hot on their tail.
Harley Maegher’s seen E.T. and knows what the government will do to mythical creatures. There’s no way he’s about to let his new-found friend fall into the hands of an NSA agent. When the dragon starts setting fires and eating livestock, the choice may be taken from him.

Steria is only interested in filling her tummy and spending time with Harley and his friends. After all, they’re the ones who woke her and called her from her egg. When the agent tries to capture her, she’s confined to the farm where she’s safe but without sufficient food. She’ll do anything to protect herself and Harley, even if it means she’ll go hungry.

A little about Kandi first:

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school, Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that’s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi’s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.8-Stars

I do like the cover for this book, but I feel it has too much going on. The cover did pull me in and make me want to find out more because of the three boys holding a giant egg.  How interesting.

For a middle-grade book, I found An Unknown Adventure a great read. Kandi did a good job with the main character, Harley. I really enjoyed how the whole story is from his point of view. This story is well-written and fun, filled with adventures and fire breathing dragons. Harley and his friends find an egg. A big egg. Not knowing what kind of creature would lay such a big egg, they take it home. Harley keeps it for the weekend and takes it to school on Monday.

The boys confide in a teacher, and I loved the relationship between the boys and their science teacher, very well done and realistic. Once the egg hatches, to everyone’s surprise, it’s a dragon. I don’t want to give away anything, but I will say that out of all the dragon books I’ve read, An Unexpected Adventure has one of the best twists I’ve read.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves dragons and or fantasy. Great read for middle-grade young adults.

Karen Meyer’s Review: 5-Stars

I loved the book. I could stop there, but I want to tell the author why I loved this book so much. I haven’t even had a chance to finish it, but it’s one of those books you just have to finish. So I will finish it, but need to get this review turned in.
Number one, I love books about dragons! Who doesn’t love a book about dragons? Then the fact that they found this egg and it hatched and they are raising this little darling is just too adorable.

Number two of course is there always needs to be a good antagonist and Professor Raleigh seems to fit the bill on that count.

The characters all seem well defined and have their own roles to play with Steria. The dad has just entered the scene when I had to stop to write this review.

I will recommend this book to anyone and will give it 5 stars. Great job!

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: The Warrior Princess of Deheubarth by Laurel A. Rockefeller

Born in 1097 in Aberffraw Castle, Princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd ap Cynan was always destined for great things. As the daughter to one of Gwynedd’s greatest warriors she grew up strong and passionate — more than a match for her older brothers.

At sixteen Gwenllian’s life changed forever when she fell in love with Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys, the beleaguered heir to Rhys ap Tewdur of Deheubarth. Together husband and wife fought for and ruled southern Wales, challenging the Norman Conquest of Wales and proving once and for all the nobility and courage of the Welsh people, a courage that endures across the centuries and lives in the heart of every Welsh man, woman, and child.

Includes an extensive timeline covering over 400 years of Welsh and English medieval history.

A little about Laurel first:

Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is an author of over twenty books published and self-published since August 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide. With her lyrical writing style, Laurel’s books are as beautiful to read as they are informative. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, travelling to historic places in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series. Favourites: Star Trek, Doctor Who, original Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5. Winner of the “Godiva Book Award” for 2019, Laurel is a proud supporter of Foster Parrots Ltd., The Arbor Day Foundation, and Health in Harmony.

Karen Meyer’s Review: 5-Stars

I really loved this book. I knew nothing of Princess Gwenllian before reading this and I want to thank Laurel for her dedication in researching the truth. This is perfect for a school library so children can learn of these legendary women of world history. I liked the length of the book. The author got everything necessary to tell of Gwen, how she lived, loved, and died.

I have to give this book 5 stars only because that is as much as I can give. Loved it and will recommend it.

Terence Vickers’ Review: 5-Stars

Possibly the shortest history Laurel has written, it ties in with previous books of hers that mention Gwenllian. I found this history quite interesting as it ties in with Laurel’s previous books about the strife between the English and Welsh in the tenth century. One thing is a bit odd and I am not sure if it is typos or not, is the varied spellings of ‘Tudor’. For the purpose of this review, I will assume the varied spellings are the result of the different dialects of the Welsh, Scottish, and English.

Translations of the Welsh phrases would have been appreciated, although I believe some can be found in previous books of the series.

A good read well presented, it is rather a shorty and may leave some readers with a desire to know more about Gwenllian, the extensive list of sources and further reading in the final pages may satisfy readers who are inclined to research the era of the English wars against the citizens of Wales and the lives of the women who were significant in those times. Interesting to note is the different attitudes men had toward women, the women of Wales apparently having a much greater level of equality and freedom with men as opposed to the English patriarchal views. It appears that the women of Wales were respected for their abilities far more than others of their time, reflecting much more modern values.

As to technical merit, I found nothing I could point out as definite errors in spelling grammar or punctuation, although there are a few questionable incidents they are easily passed over.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

The Genie Academy Book One (The Supernatural Genie Academy Series 1) by Karin De Havin

He’s about to sacrifice everything to become a Genie.

When eighteen-year-old Edmund receives an invitation to attend the 1890 class of The Academy of Arts and Science of London, AKA The Genie Academy, he is forced to make a monumental choice.
Edmund’s tutor tries to convince him that his many hidden magical talents will be revealed if he attends such a prestigious school, but Edmund has a hard time believing he could ever perform magic when he’s so shy and uncoordinated that he can’t even turn the pages of his sister’s sheet music at a recital without mucking it up.

If he attends the Genie Academy to discover his magical talents his father made it clear he will be disowned. Can he leave his beloved mother sister forever for a life of magic?

A little about Karin first:

41bLx1hE7EL._US230_Karin De Havin writes action-packed fantasy and paranormal romances with kick-ass heroines who love showing villains who’s boss. In real life, Karin knows a thing or two about sticking up for herself. She’s worked as a designer in one today’s toughest industries–the fashion business–where bosses eat designers for lunch. Karin is proud to say she’s still standing and the only asses she kicks now are in her stories.

Writing is Karin’s dream job. She is also lucky enough to live in a beautiful log home in the Pacific Northwest. Karin shares it with a pair of six-toed cats, a crazy male orange tabby who loves to help her type on the keyboard Her husband who is a music composer can play his keyboard quite well without any help from the cats.

Karin De Havin is known for her unique books that explore celestial fantasy worlds, time-traveling genies, a girl shifter, her artist vampire boyfriend, and their crazy life filled with witches and wizards. Learn more about Karin’s Books. Karin loves to hear from her readers.
Contact her on her Facebook Fan Page
Join Karin’s Street Team Havin’s Den.
Join Karin’s newsletter for the latest news and giveaways.

Terence Vickers’ Review: 4-Stars

This the first book (installment) of the serial, covers the induction of Edmund into the Genie Academy, ending with “To be continued” which makes this a serial rather than a series, as the story doesn’t end in the book and there is no resolution to the main question of the story, will Edmund be able to remain in the academy and become a full-fledged Genie. It is much like reading a book that has had most of the final chapters torn out and leaves the reader hanging. If, like myself, you prefer complete tomes, I advise readers to acquire the complete serial before opening book one.

Well written, it is quite an entertaining, with an abundance of twists and surprises, as well as well rounded characters this will appeal to many young readers. The beginning of the story, with the differences in expectations of the father and mother from Edmund’s desires will relate to anyone who’s parents are inclined to over-control their children’s futures insisting they follow in their footsteps, attending the same schools as their parent, and following the same occupation. Not to mention the choice of a mate acceptable to the parents.

I’m sure many will relate to Edmund’s experience at the academy as far as the social aspect is concerned. The break from the parental nest and being cast into a new life with new rules will relate to the experience of many young adults.

Technically the book is quite well done with no glaring errors in text or in the formatting, this would be an excellent book if presented as a serial, such as were once common in many weekly publications.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4-Stars

The cover for The Genie Academy by Karin De Havin is perfect for the story with good color and clear intent to be historical fiction.

I enjoyed this story. It’s a nice, well-rounded, coming-of-age story with family drama and tough decisions. The main character, Edward must choose between his family or going to the Genie Academy for an education in becoming a Jin. This is not my go-to genre, and this story is a breath of fresh air.

My love is historical romance, and I think the Victorian (Regency) era of The Genie Academy was all that and a bag of chips. Intricate details are woven in with just the right nuances to make me feel like I was there.

I felt the first-person point of view was done well. In my opinion, the writing is done well, while a few sentences could be stronger, overall the book is well-written. With lots of twists and turns, I couldn’t put it down. The characters pulled out all of my emotions.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed that book 1 ends with a “to be continued”. Although it may be a good marketing option, I’m not really a fan. I want each book to stand alone as a complete story. I feel this book could have ended a tad sooner for a better lead-in into book 2.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Kaschar’s Quarter (The Default King Book 1) by David Gowey

Matthieu Sartonné thinks he knows precisely where life will take him. However, like the rest of the world, he is not prepared for what will come next.
Decades of fear and hatred have spilled over from the nearby city of Cyrnne. The armies of the Evangelical Brethren march under the sign of the falling star, destroying all in their path and bringing with them a deadly sickness, unlike anything the world has ever seen. Heilicon, the cradle of Matthieu’s every ambition, is the first city to fall. It will not be the last, but if Matthieu is to see any conclusion to this war, he must escape by any means he can.

He sets out into a larger world that owes him nothing and will never let him stay in one place for long. But he is not alone in his yearning for a better world. Along the way, he meets plunderers, refugees, islanders, sailors, zealots, a reluctant prophet, and a family he never knew he had. Will one of these be able to give him the peace he seeks, or are they merely imperfect men like himself? Are they even real?

All he knows anymore is that some power wants him to stay alive; only time will tell if that power is God or simply his own will to survive.

A little about David first:
613FBk0XUJL._US230_

David Gowey lives in Gilbert, AZ with too many books (at least for his current apartment) but only one cat. He is currently working on his doctorate in Sociocultural Anthropology, having accepted the idea that if his degree doesn’t make him unemployable enough, trying to be an author just might.

Tinker Books Publishing Review: 4-Stars

Part One of “The Default King” begins with the king of Qepperdan relating the history of how he became the ‘Emperor of the known world, to a page, Jarun Hichame.

Mathieu Sartonné’s return home from the university in Leganne turns out to be rather unpleasant. Upon his arrival home, he has a disagreement with his father over religious beliefs. Much like our own history, the general belief is that the universe revolves around Earth, a belief that is being challenged by the scientists. Religious fanaticism abounds as the religious cult, the Mentites begin a war to eliminate all other beliefs through extermination, similar to the Christian crusades against the Muslims, which gives this tale its title, Kaschar’s Quarter, which is a reference to another ancient war in which Kaschar gives no ‘quarter’ to the victims of his aggression, killing all and burning cities to the ground. Which is exactly what the Mentites do in this the first installment of the serial.

Yes, I consider this a serial rather than a series, because the main premise of the story is barely touched on, the plot being concerned with the Emperor Mathieu’s adventures after his stint in university. Loaded with action and interesting similarities to real-life history, Mathieu’s adventures are reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman times, when city-states warred against each other and fact was based on faith rather than science, and religious oppression of science was abundant. The human proclivity of destruction of other societies through the ‘education’ of conqueror peoples and forced indoctrination into religious beliefs of the conquerors upon the conquered, is touched on as well.

Technically this work is well done, with relatable characters and a gripping story, with aspects of our own history of religious wars and oppression being somewhat similar in nature. Although some references are rather vague I found no actual plot holes, grammar and spelling are excellent with few if any typos. However the geography, both physical and political is rather vague. However, the ending leaves the reader hanging at the beginning of the next episode of the serial, which I have the impression consists of four books. Good marketing tactics but something that irritates me endlessly, when it is sold as a series rather than as a serial. A series being books that can stand alone, and be read in any order.

This however does not have the remainder of the story available as yet, which will leave many readers eagerly awaiting the next installment, and others so disappointed in the lack of the ending, that they will put this author at the bottom of their favorites, or remove him completely.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.6-Stars

I find the cover intriguing because I love historical fiction. The cover for Kaschar’s Quarter is right up my alley and tells me exactly what I’m going to read. Love the layout and formatting. The story starts with a letter from the main character, then a prologue that belongs and is done well.

If you like to read very descriptive writing that flows together like a melody with a slow-paced style, Kaschar’s Quarter is the right book for you. Each sentence flows into the next beautifully with well thought out words and descriptions.

The historical aspects of the story are wonderful, and I felt like I was immersed in the story. I very much enjoyed the writing style of David Gowey.

My only real “complaint” is this book is not a stand-alone and the author does not have the next installment published. This can be a problem if the rest of the series isn’t finished or doesn’t get finished.

Overall, this is a great read.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Empress Matilda of England by Laurel A. Rockefeller

Born in 1102 to King Henry of England and Queen Edith Matilda of Scotland, Matilda’s uniquely royal Norman, Saxon, and Scottish heritage was meant to unify an England still divided by her grandfather’s conquest in 1066.
When the 1120 White Ship Disaster made her the only surviving child of her parents, Matilda suddenly became heiress to the English throne in a time when the old Saxon Witan, not the king’s Will, still decided the succession.

Discover the true story of the first woman to claim the throne of England in her own right and be inspired!

Includes Matilda’s family tree charts, a detailed timeline, and a suggested reading list so you can keep learning.

Associated biographies: “Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, the Warrior Princess of Deheubarth,” and “Margaret of Wessex: Mother, Saint, and Queen of Scots.”

A little about Laurel first:

Godiva award - 3 March 2020
Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is an author of over twenty books published and self-published since August 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide. With her lyrical writing style, Laurel’s books are as beautiful to read as they are informative. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, travelling to historic places in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series. Favourites: Star Trek, Doctor Who, original Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5. Winner of the “Godiva Book Award” for 2019, Laurel is a proud supporter of Foster Parrots Ltd., The Arbor Day Foundation, and Health in Harmony.

Karen Meyer’s Review: 4.5-Stars

First of all, I want to say I am not a history buff, nor do I research anything. So to grab my attention with any historical novel is pretty amazing.

The cover would not have grabbed my attention but Laurel started out with children and that was the perfect beginning to pull me in. I loved the way Matilda’s grandmother told her the story.

It always amazes me that the parents of these children would think it alright to marry them off so young. Then actually expecting them to perform their duties in the marriage bed. I was so happy that Matilda found someone like King Louis to love her fully and wait for her to grow up.

I loved her attitude of self-assurance and feistiness even at such a young age. Her maturity in learning the German language and how to rule alongside her husband was very impressive.

This little book makes history fun and even though there are some rather graphic parts in it, Laurel tells it in such a way that plays down that part and I feel like this could go in any middle school and be completely appropriate.

I highly recommend it and only due to the cover. I gave it 4.5 stars.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 5-Stars

As always, I love Laurel A. Rockefeller’s books in the history of women series. Empress Matilda of England is another great addition. I love the cover. It’s perfectly historical.

This book is very interesting for me as I am working on a historical romance during the war between Matilda and Stephen of Blois over the crown. What a great addition to my research material!

Laurel’s research is always done with care, and I gathered a lot of good information for my story. The greatest thing about The Legendary Women of World History books is how the way the books are written makes history interesting and fun to learn.

Please feel free to leave your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Lucky by Samuel Reed and Jenni Gold

Lucky is the story of Abbey, a young girl who rescues a lost puppy only to discover that anyone who loves him actually becomes lucky!
When a shameless businessman dognaps Abbey’s beloved pet for his own gain, Abbey and her family must drop everything to search for him, as Lucky embarks on an adventure of his own as he tries to find his way home! This fun-filled fully illustrated chapter book is perfect for boys and girls of all ages, but particularly great for early readers aged 4-7.

Inspired by previous Muscular Dystrophy ambassador Abbey Umali, Lucky is the story of hope, perseverance, and most importantly love.

 

A little about Sam and Jenni first:

SWRSamuel W. Reed started collaborating with Gold Pictures in 2008 as a writer and creative producer. In addition to writing and co-producing Aaah! Roach, Sam also co-wrote the screenplay and children’s book for Lucky, and co-produced, researched and wrote the award-winning documentary CinemAbility with Jenni Gold.

Sam has also contributed his talents to a number of other projects, including films distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment, projects for The Hallmark Channel, and Lifetime Entertainment. Sam wrote the narration for the 2014 SXSW Audience Award-winning documentary Take Me To the River starring Terrance Howard and Snoop Dogg, and in 2017 Sam released his debut novel, The Fabulist. 2019 saw the production of his directorial debut, Into the Wilderness, which he also wrote and produced.

Jenni-PicJenni is considered a triple threat in the world of entertainment. Her editing and screenwriting skills serve as a foundation for her directorial efforts which have received multiple awards and have placed her among the best in her field as a Director Member of the Directors Guild of America. Jenni is the co-founder of Gold Pictures, Inc. a development and production entity that was established in 2001.

In addition to directing the award-winning film CinemAbility: the Art of Inclusion, Jenni has co-written and is developing a number of narrative feature films including a romantic comedy titled Mr. December, the suspense thriller Adrenaline, and the family film Lucky. Most recently, Jenni directed the horror film Aaah! Roach, starring Casper Van Dien, Grace Van Dien, Barry Boswick and Jason Mewes.

Jenni has become a sought-after speaker and thought leader on the power the media has to shape perceptions. She recently spoke at Disney studios, Dreamworks, Duke University, etc, and co-hosted Turner Classic Movies with Ben Mankiewicz. She currently serves on the advisory board of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and has produced a number of films and corporate web series, servicing such well-known clients as The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Easterseals of Southern California.

Jenni went to film school at the University of Central Florida where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with two BA degrees, one in Motion Picture Production and another in Radio and Television Broadcasting. Jenni has Muscular Dystrophy and has used a wheelchair since the age of seven. She often jokes that “since her director’s chair goes 12 miles an hour she is the first to arrive on set.” Her passion for storytelling and entertaining an audience is clearly evident in her work and achievements.

9-year-old Madi’s Review: 5-Stars

If I could, I would give this book 10-million-stars.

I loved everything about Lucky. He is rescued from a sewer when he is a puppy and finds a home with Abby and her parents. Abby has a lemonade stand, and Lucky helps her run it in the summer. Abby and her parents have to leave town because the lemonade stand becomes a big hit all over the country, so Lucky stays with a friend who has a flower shop. Then, the flower shop becomes famous.

The bad guy, Junior steals Lucky because he thinks the dog will bring him good luck in Las Vegas. But he doesn’t, so Junior lets Lucky go on the streets. I knew Lucky would be found, but it was a shock when Junior took him.

Then Lucky meets an artist who paints a lot of pictures of him and becomes famous, selling them to people. I really liked how everywhere Lucky went, he brought good luck to people. Except for Junior. That was a good part.

The pictures in the book are so good. I love them!

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.8-Stars

The cover for Lucky is amazing. Full of great colors and who doesn’t like a dog. The plot of the story is interesting and done well. However, everything in the story happens fast with big jumps in time. I would love to see this book as a series. One book for each adventure Lucky goes on while missing from home.

There is good luck, bad luck, redemption, and mystery in this story that I would love to see fleshed out more.

Doing some research while putting these reviews together, I discovered that Abby is based on a real person with Muscular Dystrophy. This wasn’t mentioned at all in the book. I am not sure if this character Abby has Muscular Dystrophy or not. If she does, I feel a huge opportunity was missed to see life through a disabled child’s eyes.

The writing is very good. I also feel this book is a great read for children of all ages. The images in this story are so amazing. Lots of detail, colors, and excellent drawing.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

The Fortune Follies by Catori Sarmiento

After the end of World War Two, American society is recuperating from the human loss of war, an uneven social system, and a massive corporation that has caused a technological boom. Seeing a new opportunity, Sarah Igarashi departs from her home on the coast of Alaska to meet her cousin in Seattle where she stumbles to find her place in a new city filled with otherworldly technologies and ideals. In contrast is her cousin, Penelope, who is quite comfortable navigating through a rapidly changing society while also pursuing a singing career with the assistance of her uncle and close cousin, George. However, in pursuing their own goals, each family member is met with outward and inward conflicts; from familial deception to social upheaval and natural disasters.

A little about Catori first:

author-photo-2020After growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Catori Sarmiento’s travels while being a military spouse have often inspired her unique writing style. Although she began writing at an early age, it was not until she began writing poetry during her time as a University of Maryland student that she decided to seriously pursue professional writing. She went on to study writing in a graduate program at National University of San Diego while also living in Tokyo, Japan. Upon graduation, she began writing what would become a first-place Cygnus Award-winning novel, The Fortune Follies. A year later, her next novel, Carnival Panic was published.

She hopes that readers will find intrigue and entertainment in her stories!

Karen Meyer’s Review: 2-Stars (DNF)

This book in my opinion was not ready to be published.

The dedication page looks like the beginning of Chapter 1. I don’t think I ever decided where Chapter 1 began because in the middle of what I thought was chapter 1 was a Seattle Citizen Registration for Sarah Igarashi. So the first chapter went on and on and on.

Then finally in the middle of the page in a bunch of text was a tiny little 2. I assumed this to finally be Chapter 2 therein Loc 385 of 4022 or 10% of the book was given to chapter 1.

The opening sentence went like this: “It was a terrible thing she did and it had been necessary.” Already I felt like the “and” should have been a “but “. This got me into “critique mode” since that is also something I do.

Therefore I finally got to chapter 2 and just couldn’t go any further. Edit, edit, edit!!! Never submit a book to be published that has not been edited to death.

I am so sorry, but because of the totally unorganized manner of the book, I am giving it 2 stars.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 3-Stars (DNF)

This book is an alternate history steeped in factual events during and after WWII. A little dystopian feeling.

I felt the plot was a great idea. A young girl leaving everything she knows behind to start a new life in a foreign world. It just didn’t come across that well in the end. I didn’t get a sense of any of Sarah’s heritage before the war, and she felt a little too “American”. I have no idea who she was before, which makes it hard to connect with who she is in the book – now.

I liked the descriptive nature of the setting at first, then it became overwhelming, and I started skimming. The main character, Sarah’s dialog makes her sound combative. She questions authority, then agrees to do what they are telling her to do. It feels like the author is trying to explain how things worked by using dialog (which is good) but it feels thrown onto the page in order to get it into the book.

I feel if we had more character emotion and a better sense of who the main character is instead of setting description, it would have had a little more nuance to make Sarah feel more real. She feels like a regular American moving from Alaska to live with her cousin in Seattle.

The details are good, and the prosy nature of the sentences flow smoothly. For readers who enjoy a lot of details, this is the book for you. Even though I did not finish reading the book, I can well understand why readers of this genre will love it.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Porter the Importer: Prequel to The Drummonds by Ariella Talix

Is it possible to meet the love of your life in a liquor store?

Molly assumes the bossy, muscular (gorgeous) man is a rude stock boy until he hands her his business card. Porter imports fine wine, and Molly sells fine… other things… in her very naughty boutique. A match made in heaven?

But only read it if you’re mature enough to handle it. Steam level: Adult.

A little about Ariella first:
61M9iRAY5JL._US230_

Ariella Talix is the nom de plume of a bestselling author who lives in America’s Heartland. Her goal is to preserve the dignity of family members who would rather not be associated publicly with a woman who writes such scandalous and stimulating novels. She’s not going to stop writing them though.

She loves her family, pets, great books, not-so-great books that still entertain, and art.

Born and raised near the beaches of southern California, Ariella Talix traveled the world extensively and then found her true home in the Midwest. She has a second-degree black belt in Karate and has been a professional artist for many years. Her work is displayed in countries all over the world. To find out more about Ariella’s books and stuff, follow her blog.

Karen Meyer’s Review: 5-Stars

This is my kind of book. Not deep, no thinking, just reading for pleasure. It was with pure pleasure that I enjoyed this novella a lot. I loved the way it started with Porter telling the sassy Molly not to choose a particular wine, to his calling her professor and scheduling an office only appointment.

I really liked that she talked to her brother about him and asked advice on going to Porter’s house for dinner. How David liked him just from the things Molly told him.

I love that he took care of her without being controlling. How he had her stay at his place because the noise at her’s was unbearable.

I love his parents and couldn’t stand hers. Loved her sister Lily an brother David and the fact they were so close.

There was nothing I would change about the book. I did put the .pdf file in my Kindle which totally messed up the format but that was just me. Words were run together. I loved the book and would give it 5 stars.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars

The cover is what drew me in first on this book plus the “rhymy dimey” title. Somehow the serious, penetrating gaze of the dark-haired man against a backdrop of a sunlit vineyard seemed incongruous with such a trite title, “Porter the Importer”.

Sounds more like some children’s picture book about an anthropomorphic gopher. But this prequel novella to the Drummonds series is certainly not a fit bedtime tale for children. Rather, “bedtime” for adult readers might be a good time to indulge in this tale, given the sensuous setting and erotic themes.

Talix does an excellent job in bringing a New Adult romance to life with Porter, the perfect romance novel hero who only lives to please the lady love of his life, Molly, a grad student finishing up her MBA and still undecided on what to do with her degree upon graduation. Enter Porter to bring her just the right amount of inspiration (and titillation) to fulfill her every wish and desire.

Of course, no romance is worth its salt without a few bumps in the road, but given the brief “prequel” form, this novella won’t let too many roadblocks get in the way before our couple sees a requisite happily ever after. For those interested in this innovative genre known as “New Adult” this one checks all the boxes: female college student on the precipice of the adult world, a lush exotic setting and a male love interest with a lucrative dream job and family connections in Tuscany.

And to think I once scoffed at this new genre called “New Adult” but after reading this one, the joke is apparently on me. Porter the Importer is the right blend of dry vintage with a semi-sweet bloom that leaves a pleasant aftertaste, the perfect pairing for a trip to the beach or a rainy afternoon or any time a reading escape is on the menu.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1) by Emily -Jane Hills Orford

It’s 1967 and Mary’s family has moved into a huge Victorian mansion. She loves her gigantic new house, especially her room. But then she begins to meet the house’s other residents. Mrs. Murray was murdered in Mary’s new house. At first she tries to scare the new residents away, but there seems to be a force connecting the ghost to Mary. Even the stranded Brownies, the little people who live between the walls, feel that connection. When Mary becomes deathly ill, the Brownies and the ghost team up to try to rescue her, only to encounter a witch and her evil dragons and minions. Time is running out. They must rescue Mary from a fever-induced dream world before she is trapped there forever.

A little about Emily-Jane first:
paper-68829_128045

Emily-Jane Hills Orford is an award-winning author of several books, including “The Whistling Bishop”, “F-Stop: A Life in Pictures” and “To Be a Duke”, all of which were Finalists in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She writes about the extra-ordinary in life and her books, short stories, and articles are receiving considerable attention. For more information on the author, check out her website.  Or comment on her blog.

9-year-old Madi’s Review: 5+-Stars

I’m sorry I didn’t get to finish the book. We had company for days. I’ve been given three more days. I’ve read to chapter 8, so I’m going to review those now and finish my review in the comments.

I liked the cover. It’s really cool and describes the book kind of.

I think the book had good writing. I enjoyed it from the beginning even though it didn’t have a lot of action. I liked reading about them moving into the new house. It was funny when Mary was talking about multiplication and found out the neighbor’s husband studies and raises guppies that multiply very fast.

I felt like me and Mary are a lot alike. I would be so scared if I heard the banging and lights on and off during the night.

Mary’s bedroom sounds beautiful. when it mentions her dollhouse, I want one really bad. I want a Brownie too. I liked reading the part from Mrs. Murray’s POV, that was neat I could see life from her eyes.

Some of the names were hard to pronounce. Mrs. Murray is scary she bangs the cupboards in the kitchen and makes a racket all night.

My favorite part is where whenever Mary meets Brunnie and thinks he is a doll that can talk. That was really fun.

I give this book 10-stars so far.

I love this book and can’t wait to finish reading it.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars

I wanted to really like this story and settled in great anticipation for an old-fashioned Gothic tale about a little girl in a large gloomy estate with a mysterious past and a restless wandering spirit for her to befriend or, perhaps, be terrorized by. The cover evoked just such a haunting, titillating image with a promise of all those things to come. However, I soon found I had not fallen into a Gothic mystery a la Catherine Sefton’s book, In a Blue Velvet Dress, or even a whimsical romantic tale like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, both which were among my childhood favorites. While Orford’s story had some elements of those beloved classics, it failed to capture the same sort of enchantment.

Much of the story about Mary, opens with far too much overwriting and continues that style chapter after chapter. Every detail and example is belabored so that I soon found skimming over large sections of text still offered the gist of what was happening without missing too much. And I am one who loves to revel in detail, but only when it serves a purpose for voice, tone and sets a proper mood. In this case, the entire book could have used another good round of editing for trimming excess verbiage and inane dialogue that did not further the plot.

The other issue I had with the story was that the title character (Mrs. Murray’s Ghost) seems to play more of a background role with Mary takes up with a family of brownies who lead her on a set of adventures and become trapped in her own dream world. Why are there no indications of this on the cover or title? Rather, Mrs. Murray seems more along for the ride and there just to serve as an inciting incident with her elusive clattering around the house. But once the story gets rolling, it is the brownies who drive the action. I actually kept forgetting about Mrs. Murray or why she even needed to be there.

There was so much potential for this story, with using words to paint a mood and setting rather than cheerily to over explain everything. Also, pairing the title and the book cover to note the actual main characters, those loveable, cantankerous brownies, Briddie, Brunnie and company. In spite of its disappointments and misleading strategies, I did find the story charming and the characters a delight. The brownies all have distinct personalities and I learned some bits about Scottish folklore and the origins of these helpful elven creatures.

Another plus, Mary is the sort of gentle, kindhearted character seldom seen in modern children’s stories these days. Yet she is no wimp and also shows a sense of bravery and strength of conviction while also adapting well to her strange new surroundings. Four stars awarded for sending me down a rabbit hole bringing to mind a few childhood classics and perhaps, to add another for another generation of children to love for a lifetime.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Cecily wants a big life, but can she handle it?

Cecily feels like she has it all: great best friends, the beginnings of a career as a model/actress, and she’s dating her favorite singer, Andrew Holiday. Then Cecily’s best friend Lila begins to ditch her every time Lila’s boyfriend calls. Cecily feels lost, but she and Andrew begin connecting more and she’s never been in a relationship where she felt so understood. Andrew even begins to confide in her about his anxiety. Soon Cecily experiences her own anxiety on a magazine photo shoot, but she manages to impress the magazine staff. Just when it seems like all her dreams are coming true, everything comes crashing down when a photo of Andrew with another girl appears online. He swears nothing happened, but Cecily is crushed. She feels like she’s lost two of the people closest to her.

Was her perfect relationship real or was she in over her head?

A little about Krysten fist:

61VGV0ZBdyL._US230_
Who knew all those embarrassing, cringe-y moments in middle school and high school could turn into a career? And who would have thought that daydreaming in math class would pay off down the road?

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values.

She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True. True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton.

Karen Meyer’s Review: 4.5-Stars

This is a fun book for junior high to high school girls. The characters were very well developed and the story line consistent and flowed easily. I liked the spiritual aspects of it and feel like it gave some dimension to the story itself. I was so glad it ended well, but was hoping for a ring on her finger before the end of the book. I am a hopeless romantic so that’s just me.

I really enjoyed the book and felt like it will help girls see themselves through the main character and understand more about jealousy, self-esteem, and teenage crushes.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.5-Stars

In this sequel to “Can dreams come true, “in which we catch up with Cecily and see how she’s coping with her new found fame and romance. That’s all I’m going to say on the plot as if you haven’t read the first book in the series, I have, then you would know Cecily was in a predicament as to where her heart lay and I don’t want to spoil anything. It isn’t absolutely necessary to read that book to follow this one, but it does help, some, a little.

In this book she’s made her choice, now she has to face the consequences of that choice and the secrets, ups and downs anxiety and drama that come with it, and the anxieties she faces are a bit tough.

But Cecily is no different to any teen except being in the spotlight of course, but she still has the teenage angst, anxieties, friendship issues, drama which makes her a relatable character.

In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety is a Sweet Romance, it’s very suitable for YA readers, there is no explicit scenes it’s very much a clean sweet Romance. But do expect teen drama, anxiety and angst.

It’s a lovely follow on from the first book. It was nice to see Cecily grow as a young teenager and I think she will be relatable to the target audience. This is the perfect series if you are looking for a

Heart Warming, Fun, Sweet Contemporary Romance which is more than suitable for the YA Readers.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

The Reluctant Billionaire: A Clean Secret Billionaire Romance by Krista Wagner

“Money can buy him (almost) everything, but will having too much make him miss his chance on true love?”
When Shawn inherits his dad’s estate, he is thrust into the spotlight as the ‘Most Desirable Man Alive’. Struggling to navigate the constant presence of bodyguards and a sudden deluge of eligible bachelorettes, he is convinced that getting back to his private life is the answer, until he meets Shelly. She seems to genuinely like him, but his heart has been broken once before. Can he risk opening himself up again?

Shelly is surprised to find herself attracted to Shawn. He’s humble, kind, and generous, everything her ex-husband wasn’t. But it’s impossible to ignore all of the women who are vying for his attention, triggering her painful past. Will she be able to give love a second chance?

A little about Krista first:

61Sb+SV7nML._US230_

Krista Wagner has been creating stories since she was seven. She is best known for her suspense and mystery novels, and her romance books are just taking off. Krista reaches into those chasms of darkness, dealing with relatable themes of betrayal, love, trust, truth, and deception with intriguing characters and intense story lines that shine light into your heart. You won’t finish her books without feeling a deeper sense of hope and gratitude for being alive and a profound fascination with the mystery of life.

“Dealing with danger and handing out hope”
Krista Wagner, author of mysteries, thrills, and all that is real

Find out more about Krista here
Follow her on Facebook
Friend her on Twitter
And Goodreads

Karen Meyer’s Review: 4.5-Stars

This was a fun book to read, and the author did a very good job of making each character their own person. I liked all of their personalities and the way all of them enjoyed Zuzu, the retriever puppy.

The plot flowed very well and was very easy to follow. She builds it up at just the right time, bringing in the paparazzi and Bridget as the antagonist. Great job. It could have been a little longer and gone into a little more detail so for that reason I am deducting ½ a point, giving it 4.5 stars.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 3.9-Stars

I love the cover. I think it fits a contemporary billionaire romance perfectly.

I enjoyed reading about a male science fiction author trying to write out of his comfort zone with a romance book. I feel Krista Wagner did a a wonderful job showing the character’s concern over tackling a romance story and how the main male character, Shawn struggled to write it. As an author, I empathized with him.

I’m a veteran, and it was nice to read about the charity of pairing dogs with disable vets. I like how that was all set up and how it played out.

There were some things that an editor should have caught. Typos and at least one confusing jump in time. The scene starts out with the early morning sun shining in the east windows to within a few sentences of the same scene it was dark outside. Is it day or night? I also feel a lot of the sentences could be stronger with some less week word choices.

Overall, I did enjoy the Reluctant Billionaire. This is a sweet romance with a lovely couple I cared about.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Visions of Her by Cachline Etienne

How do you choose between a dream job and a dream romance?

Sarah Noir wasn’t looking for love, but when she meets prideful artist James Martins at a bar after fruitless months of job-hunting, sparks fly.

Soon, the lovers are thrown into a whirlwind romance that neither is prepared for. What happens when a job offer crosses the threshold of their affair? Do they fight for their relationship? Do they compromise? Torn, Sarah and James are forced to make one of the hardest decisions of their lives.

A little about Cachline first:
20292934_1224823140956041_4520793610643744257_n

I’m a bit of a romantic & I’m kind of difficult to deal with. I have no romantic life so I’ve decided to write romance stories instead. Just kidding, writing is a passion of mine and recently I began exploring the world of romance.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.8-Stars

When it comes to romance, I am incredibly picky. I’m a guy after all, and not, according to some genre editors and writers, the intended audience of typical romance. Fine: I get that, so when I come across one I do like, we can possibly add ‘romance a guy could like’ to the work.

Ladies, you are free to smile and nod at this, and to be frank, I hope you do, since I’ve loaded this up with lots of tongue and cheek humor. But wait, you might be thinking, there’s no alien invasion; no government conspiracy; no mystery. In fact, it’s contemporary. I know, the whole thing is completely believable; kind of refreshing.

The male lead isn’t even a jerk. It’s this believability that really helps to carry the novel, which leads me to my only complaint. The reason why this review doesn’t have five stars. Are you ready? Frankly, it wasn’t long enough. A bit longer and I could have connected more with the characters. A bit longer and their problems would have meant more. A bit longer and my curiosity about the pair would have been that more sated. For this reason, I give the work 4.8 out of five.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars

When Sarah Noir meets a proud struggling artist at a bar one night, it’s a recipe for a lighthearted and engaging romance novel. That is pretty much what the reader will find in this recently published novel by C. Etienne. Ultimately, the characters are forced to choose between a dream job and a dream romance.

While that wouldn’t be such an issue in the real world, this is a romance novel where the point of a happily ever after is to side with the romance, if not find ultimately both by the end of a few hundred pages or so. This novel does not disappoint on that score, although the writing comes across like a teenager’s first attempt at fiction writing.

There is some slang that set me back (i.e. “dope” as in something good looking or fashionable; kids are still using that phrase these days?) Perhaps that was the point, as the heroine, Sarah, obsesses about her looks, fashion and interior design right on the first page, and stares into a mirror in order to show the reader what she looks like. This novel fits perfectly into that genre still floating out there dubbed New Adult. And it does include some twists and turns before wrapping into a satisfying conclusion.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to a third-party retailer (Amazon) and is an affiliate link. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits from the retailer.

Love0

Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution by Jordan Bell

Written by Dr. Jordan Bell, illustrated by Gabriel Cunnett and reviewed for scientific accuracy by paleontologist Professor John Long, Aunt Jodie’s Guide is a compelling story of adventure and discovery, that is engaging and interesting to kids and parents alike.

button-2006933

Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination-expanding journey back in time.

Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour-changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s.

What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do the moths survive when their camouflage stops working?

Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changes happen in the world around them.

A little about Jordan first:

1_ABBYbVSfIQXN-8IzvZ5h0A

As a nerdy parent who loves reading to my daughter, I wanted to find interesting children’s fiction with a strong STEM message, to help her learn about the world. I know there are lots of other parents out there who really want to instill a love of science in their children, but don’t know how to do it. So I wrote us a book – Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution.

Corinne Morier’s Review: 4-Stars

Huh. I went in with very low expectations but came out very pleasantly surprised. Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution is a picture book-esque story about Aunt Jodie teaching her niece and nephew about evolution through easy-to-understand explanations and time-travel-esque tactics. As always, here’s three good aspects and three not-so-good aspects of this book so you can make your own judgment about whether or not to read it, starting with a negative so we can end on a positive note. 🙂

Not-so-good

Lion King meme saying Everywhere the light touches is the pages of this book, but what's that shadowy place? That's the part of the book that isn't illustrated

In the second half of the book, the illustrations just kind of get forgotten about. The first half or so, you get illustrations on almost every single page and quite a few full-page ones at that, but then the amount of illustrations drops and you get only two full-page ones and none of the smaller ones that, up until that point, had been appearing consistently throughout the text.

Good

Is this a pigeon meme saying me working with kids, this book with its pretty pictures, is this a book my students would enjoy

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous and eye-catching. As someone who works with kids on a regular basis and reads a lot of picture books, these anime-esque illustrations will definitely draw kids into the story and get them interested, while helping them to understand more difficult concepts that they might have trouble understanding through text alone.

Not-so-good
Well yes actually no meme saying kids need to know the exact scientific definition of volcano, well yes, but actually no

Reading through the glossary, I felt like maybe the author didn’t know her audience, ex. giving them the definition of what a “volcano” is despite A) volcanoes never appearing in the book and B) kids in the target age range would probably already know what a volcano is without it needing to be defined. Or, in the same vein, defining what a “human” is.

Good

Look at all these easy to understand concepts presented in a kid-friendly way

Most of the concepts introduced in this book are presented in a format easy for kids to understand, and there’s a glossary in the back for more in-depth definitions and pronunciations of pretty much every scientific term in this book.

Not-so-good

This is a good introduction but kids need recommendations for other books and resources to learn more

For a book meant to introduce kids to the world of STEM, it would have been nice for there to be a bit at the end telling kids where they can go to learn more or recommended other books to pick up if they like science. Not even a note at the end– “If you’d like to learn more about the information presented in this book, ask your local librarian for books about evolution!”

The scientific method relies on peer review, other sources to confirm, yet the author doesn’t cite any sources she used to write this book (except one scientist she mentions in the acknowledgments) or give kids a list of other books they might enjoy to learn more about STEM.

Good

Say it again Dexter meme: Say it again, Corinne. This is a great book to introduce kids to evolutionary science

From what I, a liberal arts major who barely passed Introductory Biology for the GE credits, can tell, the information presented is all quite accurate and well-researched. Parents and teachers giving this book to their kids can be rest assured that, barring any new developments in the evolutionary science field that contradicts facts in this book (though one might assume that, should new information be released that contradicts this book, the author will release an updated edition to reflect that), the information presented in this book is accurate and aligned with what currently we know about our common ancestor and how natural selection works.

In summary:

A good book for older elementary kids (ages 8 – 12) who are interested in learning about evolution. I’m considering purchasing the paperback of this book and donating it to my school’s library so my students can read it, too.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review:4.5-Stars

If you recall the book series, later brief cartoon series, and you perhaps enjoyed said series, then you will enjoy Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution. While this work, unsurprisingly discusses the more simplistic and less robust theory of natural selection — as opposed to sexual selection — it does so in a manner that is easily comprehendible & mentally digestible. Indeed, the pronunciation guide and definitions located in the back will ensure that grade school children will no doubt grasp the material that is the heart of the work. This is after all the major point to get children, girls especially, interested in science.

The book does well enough, even though it is a bit heavy-handed with this goal in places. Still, all in all, its intended audience isn’t like to find the book a chore, unless they surely hate reading, and odds are good that they’ll actually retain the knowledge.

I give this work 4.5 out of five.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

button-2006933Love0

Designs on a Duke (The Bluestocking Scandals Book 1) by Ellie St. Clair

Torn Asunder by Renny deGroot

Emmet Ryan is an inspiring journalist in the fight for a free and united Ireland. He never thought his words may bring death to those he loves most.

 

 

 

A little about Renny first:

95586093_10158830553059881_4400398289166401536_o

Renny deGroot was born in Nova Scotia, Canada and raised in Toronto. She is a first generation Canadian of Dutch parents. Her debut novel, Family Business, was shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, while her second novel, After Paris, has been widely recommended, prompting invitations to lecture.

Renny has a BA in English Literature from Trent University. Renny is a published poet, short story author and song lyricist. Her strong Dutch roots continue to influence her while the love of her Canadian homeland with its beauty and freedom, flavours all that she does. Renny lives in rural Ontario, Canada with her Great Pyrenees, Golden Retriever and Chocolate Lab.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review:4.5-Stars

The complexities and tragedy of 20th century Irish history are skillfully conveyed by Renny deGroot in this readable and intelligent historical fiction. Beginning in 1916 at the time of the Easter Rising we follow the tortuous and bloody path to the creation of the Irish Free State by following the equally tortuous and conflicted life of journalist Emmet Ryan. All the major events are here: the rising itself; the subsequent suppression; the Croke Park massacre of 1920; and The Irish Civil War of 1922-23, where former colleagues found themselves on opposing sides leading to a lifetime of bitterness.

The book concludes in 1943 with Emmet ‘s daughter in Belfast, continuing without her family’s knowledge a cause that had by then become disowned by many of its former adherents. The writing gives an indication of time and place and some of the main issues involved in a far from straight forward story. It shows above all else the devastating effect conflict plays in the life of ordinary people. Whether you have a good understanding of the period, or indeed none, then this book will equally appeal and is recommended if you have a liking of historical fiction.

I give the work a 4.5 out of 5.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars

Beginning with the Easter Rebellion of 1916, this novel hits the ground running with a cast of characters, each with their own story to tell. First and foremost is Emmet Ryan, an aspiring journalist from an impoverished Irish family who gets caught up in the fight for Irish liberation from English rule when his father and older brothers join the fight.

From there the story chronicles real events and characters all who are outlined at the beginning of the novel for ease of keeping the large cast and issues in perspective. For historical readers who like to learn facts while immersing in a story, this novel offers that and more.

While at times the historical narrative and issues surrounding this event can be overwhelming, the focus on one family and particularly, Emmet, made this story more personal and brings the past to life. There are many places, though, where the writing is bogged down with excessive verbiage and could use tightening and editing. I found I could skim to avoid too much extraneous detail and just get on with the story.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to third-party retailers and are affiliate links. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits.

Love0

Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth (Book 1) by Holly Bell

Asthmatic furniture restorer and covert witch Amanda Cadabra is a survivor. After all, her family’s bus went over a Cornish cliff.


Now the presentable but irritating Inspector Trelawney is dogging her footsteps as he investigates the unexplained deaths. But that’s the least of her problems. Amanda has just got a furniture restoration job at the old English Manor of Sunken Madley with its murky past.

Armed only with a wand and Tempest, her grumpy reincarnated cat, she’s going in. A body, ghosts, hidden tunnels, chills and unexplained lights; can Amanda solve the mystery in time and save the village from the scandal of murder?

The Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mysteries Book 1 is a humorous British cozy mystery.

A little about Holly first:
51ZfcEQkyiL

Humorous and quintessentially English with excitement and magic.

Cat adorer and chocolate lover, Holly Bell is a photographer and video maker when not writing. Holly lives in the UK and is a mixture of English, Scottish, Cornish and Welsh, among other ingredients. She had long experience of non-fiction writing before being told she could write cosy mysteries!

Her favourite feline is a black cat called Bobby. Join the newsletter for updates http://amandacadabra.com/come-on-in/

Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars

A cold case mystery, a quaint English village steeped in mystical lore and an orphaned girl with magical abilities all combine into this enchanting first novel in a series by an English author who makes no bones about the fact she writes in UK style. For this reader, that only adds to the enchantment and immersion into this marvelous tale that is reminiscent of some childhood favorites of mine along with a certain modern wizarding series that redefined children’s literature for a whole new generation.

More than just being a nod to these prior works, Bell’s series garners its own rightful place in modern young adult literature. There are even endearing references to beloved film stars like Emma Watson and character names like, Hogarth, that lightly pay homage to a magical series “that-shall-not-be-named” here. Like many children’s series, Bell adheres to certain tropes that have spell-bounded readers for centuries. Amanda Cadabra (as in abra cadabra?) is an ordinary orphaned girl with extraordinary abilities and a mystery to solve. Add in that she also has severe asthma and enjoys woodworking with levitated tools by casting a magical spell or two. When Detective Sergeant Trelawney comes to call to resurrect a 20-year-old cold case involving the deaths of her parents, he asks all the right questions of her evasive grandparents to lure the reader word by word into the story that keeps one turning pages to the end. Fortunately, there are more stories pending in the series and once these characters capture a reader’s heart, they’ll want to keep reading more.

The only issues I had with this story was the confusion over target audience. On the surface, it reads like a middle grade or possibly YA novel. The cover art is whimsical and stylized, thus reinforcing this notion. However, a few chapters in and I came to realize the protagonist is no child but a 30-something woman! A glance at the age bracket on the blurb and taglines indicate a suggested age range of 8 to 18. Not many children this age can relate to a 30-year-old woman and few adults would likely pick up this book, unless they are the 30-somethings themselves who were raised on magical YA series of the late 90s and early 2000s. Still, for those of us who somehow never outgrew children’s literature and still revel in our favorite school book stories and fairytales, this is the kind of guilty indulgence that every adult needs on occasion, to perhaps, find the magic in reading all over again.

Karen Meyer’s Review: 4.5-Stars

A fun book set in an English village, staring a young lady with severe asthma and uses her extraordinary ability to help solve the mystery. With a title like Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey Hole Truth, I can see this book flying off the shelf. The only thing I think it lacks is a more captivating cover and because of that I give it 4.5 stars.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to third-party retailers and are affiliate links. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits.

Love0

Victorian Rogues Compilation by Vanessa Brooks

Choice. What choice? Victorian beauties confronted by sinful Dickensian rogues. Will Elspeth and Amanda make the right choices and eventually find happiness? Two sizzling melodramas that will transport you into the heart of Victorian London!

Publisher’s Note: This steamy set of historical romances is comprised of the following two full-length novels. Both contain old fashioned discipline suited to the era in which the book is set.
Elspeth:
A Victorian girl abandoned…
Born in a distant land, Elspeth returns to London with the hope of a new love but disaster strikes and she is left destitute. How can a woman alone survive the rigors of Victorian London? Will she find the promise of a fresh start and the right man?

Amanda:
A Victorian girl with secrets…
When Amanda saves a cat – no ordinary pussy cat, either – she is drawn into involvements with two men… but which is the more dangerous?

A little about Vanessa first:

Vanessa Brooks – penning passion! International best selling author Vanessa, lives in the heart of Sussex, England. She writes strong characters and includes passion and power exchange in all her books.
When not being an author, Vanessa is out and about with her husband, exploring Britain’s many castles and stately homes, stopping for scones & tea at every opportunity!
Vanessa loves to hear from her readers and you can contact her at : vanessanovels@inbox.com
Twitter: @vanessabrooksUK
Vanessa Brooks on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vanessanovels/
vanessabrookspenningpassion on Instagram
website: https://vanessanovels.weebly.com/

Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars

Two interconnected stories, contained in this two-novel set, will keep romance readers turning pages till the end. The first introduces Elspeth setting out for London from her home in India and hoping for a better life than she has had since her father passed away and she jumped into what seemed like a suitable marriage. Unfortunately, soon after marrying a dashing soldier who sweeps her off her feet, she learns he has particular tastes in the bedroom that are both repulsive, abusive and most certainly not in keeping with an officer and a gentleman. But when Elspeth turns up pregnant, she finds a means of escape. Henry, her husband, decides to send her to his parents’ house in London where his child can be raised properly and he can continue his unsavory pursuits, including an Opium addiction.

On board the ship, Elspeth immediately falls into the arms of an equally dashing, but much kinder, professor who insists their shipboard romance continue once they reach London. And that’s where this story really becomes a page turner of twists and turns until its triumphal and requisite “happily ever after” conclusion. There is enough here to entice and titillate the ardent romance reader but also, surprisingly, some substantial, well researched facts about life in late Victorian England and Imperial India that will engage history nerds like this reviewer.

The second novel dovetails on the first by taking the sibling of one main character and telling her story. Amanda is the shipboard professor’s younger sister, who has a habit of getting herself into trouble, just the kind that make plotting a romance story fun for both writer and readers. When she learns of a cat impounded for biting a lady, Amanda must do her best to rescue the poor creature. It just so happens the cat is owned by a hot London gentleman, Adam Lawson, who of course, falls for this Victorian beauty with a soft spot for animals and their tempestuous and tawdry relationship takes off, full of enticing bedroom scenes, spankings and spicy love making that comes as fair warning to any readers who prefer sweet to spice and may not care for graphic descriptions of physical abuse.

This reviewer found some scenes a bit seat squirming and others a tad eye-rolling, but the writing flowed well and gave enough description to bring the scenes effortlessly to life and kept me thinking about both stories long after the ending. While this sort of story is not my usual fare, I would heartily recommend it to avid readers or historical romance.

Sherry Terry’s Review: Did Not Finish (DNF)

I’m torn over this book. I love historical romance, and I always feel so bad when I have to give a review on a book that unfortunately, didn’t do it for me.

I do like the idea for the stories, and the cover is amazing. The cover is bold and striking, letting you know you’re going to read a historical romance. I didn’t find any spelling or formatting issues in the part I read.

My biggest problem with the book is the lack of emotions from the characters. This reads more like a list of stuff that happens instead of a descriptive romance. The thing missing from the story is the thoughts, emotions, and reasoning of the characters.

A young girl is traveling for the first time from her home in India on a steamer ship to London with a second class ticket. As she boards the ship, she is invited by a man she doesn’t know into his first class stateroom to eat a meal. I found this lacking the description, emotion, and all the good stuff that brings me into the character’s world. I wanted to know how she felt about all these new things. Was it exciting to be in a first class room? Was she a little afraid? What did the man smell like, what did the room look like…

There are lots of big, fancy $10 words. I had to look up some of them. I didn’t feel they really add to the story, it just made the writing feel forced.

I feel really bad that I did not finish this book, and what I did read, I give 3-Stars. I could never take off my editor’s hat.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

Every image of a cover is a link that leads to third-party retailers and are affiliate links. If you purchase the product in question by clicking on the cover, we earn a small portion of the profits.

Love0

Author Interviews

Please click on the author you are interested in reading more about from the menu tab under Author Interviews. Check them all out, we are gathering a very interesting group.

Follow

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox:

The Naked Reviewers