Tag Archives: book reviews

Review: CEMETERY HIGHWAY – A Fresh Approach To Zombie Novels

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REVIEW:

I like some Zombie novels. I don’t love any of them,mostly because I consider the theme overdone.However, CEMETERY HIGHWAY by Hamish Robert Johnson offers a unique approach to the undead story line, leaving me teetering on the fence between like and love.

Admittedly, I was confused, then curious about how the author would handle a book where each chapter is a first person POV from different characters. Seemed like a lot of head hopping to me but in reality, it was nicely done and offered a wonderful slant on the events through different eyes, as well as breathing life into the characters. There’s no better way to learn about a particular character than through their own thoughts and eyes.

The story follows a group of young people as they try to navigate an emerging new world. The Zombies are now the rich and powerful, the humans relegated to a poor, humbling existence. Yet instead of an overload of gore and violence, Mr. Johnson treats us to humor, coming of age emotions and a sub-plot of good overcoming evil.

I was pleasantly surprised and can honestly recommend CEMETERY HIGHWAY to everyone, not just paranormal or YA fans but readers who enjoy an engaging, character driven story. Did I mention unconventional feel-good endings? Yeah, it’s got one of those, too.

Cemetery Highway

Hamish Robert JohnsonCemeteryHighway-A-Novel(2)

 Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

ISBN:1499520247

ASIN: B00K7JUAA4

Number of pages: 187

Cover Artist: D. Thomas Magee

Book Description:

Cemetery Highway is a rollicking tale of fame, friendship and falls from grace, set in a world where zombies are the elite and humans are the underclass.

Best friends Dexter, Michelle, Penny and Cakes have started a group called the Anti Zombie Alliance and plan on sticking it to the zombies once and for all. But when zombie big-wig Max convinces the suave Dexter to trade his standards for stardom, things get ugly.

Available at Smashwords    Amazon    Kobo

Excerpt:

MICHELLE

It is said that becoming a zombie is inevitable. Either we get attacked, or we sell out and take the Package, but sooner or later we all become zombies. I, for one, have never seen the advantage of aligning myself with a large group of any kind, certainly not one hell bent on human cranial carnage.

Sure, they have all the power and wealth, but take a look at their lifestyle. Zombies work 100 hours a week, and yes they do make a lot of money, but what do they spend it on? A nice car that they only use to drive to work, and expensive clothes to wear there. They have no time to enjoy themselves, or their all-important wealth. And they don’t even have love, because a zombie can only have whom he loved in life. To find love after the change had always been considered impossible. Oh, and they eat peoples brains. I tell you, it can really test my faith in the world.

Because of the current economy, more and more humans are taking the Package. This means they sell their humanity to the Zombie Corporation in exchange for zombie wealth and servitude. As a human I’ve always found this to be terribly disappointing, but it is not without its advantages. Current Zombie Corporate standards have put a stop to any unauthorized kills, which means that all kills must be ordered by the King. With the reduced number of savage zombie predators out and about, the streets are safer to walk than ever before, and I have long been an advocate for human safety and self-defense. Which brings me to the start of the story. This is the night when everything changed.

I was out celebrating with my three very best friends. We had been close for so long that I began to wonder if our bond had become more of a habit than anything else. But that’s beside the point. We’d recently formed a group called the Anti- Zombie Alliance, and we were holding our first fundraising event at a cruddy bar in downtown Industry. And I mean maximum cruddiness. There were tacky neon beer advertisements, sticky carpet and a musty smell that clings to you like a stray cat. And I’m told the men’s bathroom was just a trough of ice. Self-flushing maybe? Who knows, some questions a lady knows better than to ask.

I was sitting behind a desk with my best friend and Alliance co-founder, Penny Farthing, handing out brochures and stickers to the guests. The stickers had our name and slogan, “Life, it’s always worth the wait.” We really believed in the cause we were fighting for, because the zombies have had it too good for too long. I didn’t realize it as a kid, or maybe I did and just didn’t see the significance or implications, but they really do own and run EVERYTHING. And they don’t care about us humans at all, so we decided to stand up for ourselves. By we, I mean Penny, her ex-boyfriend Dexter, Cakes, and me. My name is Michelle Fernside and coincidentally enough this night was my 18th birthday.

Dexter was performing on stage as the evening’s musical entertainment. He did kind of a one-man show where he used programmed electronic music on his laptop and played electric guitar and sung over it. He was good, too. We always said that he would make it big if he could just get that all-important break.

Anyway, the guy has charisma, and bags of it. Every time he would spin or shake his hips, which was pretty frequently, all the girls in the crowd would swoon. Myself included. And he kept making eyes at me and smiling while singing his beautiful lyrics. I made eyes right back at him, which made me feel excited and nervous. I was trying to be subtle because I didn’t want to upset Penny, but seriously, Dexter has always been my cup of tea. He had a perfectly tapered short Afro that he combed meticulously, and really took pride in his appearance. I always admired that. Even when he had no money at all, he would buy silk ties from the Salvation Army for next to nothing and wear them in such a way that he would look like he had just taken the Package. But on this night he had no tie to speak of. Actually he was covered with no shirt at all, just sweat dripping over the tattoos on his smooth brown chest. I felt guilty just for looking, but it was a good kind of guilt. Exciting, you know? Like I was getting away with something naughty.

Speaking of naughty, I was surprised to notice that Penny was drinking something other than a soda. “Penny Farthing, what are you drinking?”

“Wine,” she said matter-of-factly. She took another sip then smiled at me. “This is a bar, Mishy.” Of course she was right. I had never been a drinker, but why should I look at my friend differently for doing what one does in such an establishment? “Want a sip?” she asked me. “It’s your birthday,” she said teasingly. I smiled and nodded. She poured me a healthy glass of burgundy liquid and I took my first sip. It was not as acrid as I expected. Quite pleasant, actually. Fruity, in fact.

“How many of these have you had?”

“What? Tonight?” Her giddy laugh indicated that she’s had a few. I took a big swig and Penny topped off my glass. She splashed a bit on the white tablecloth, but it was still the cleanest thing in here.

Penny turned to me and smiled. “I think he likes you.”

I was a bit taken aback. “Really?” I said. “Dexter?” I immediately regretted saying his name, because I was well aware of their romantic history, and the fact that she was not yet over him.

“No, Cakes,” she said without missing a beat.

It had been quite obvious to me for a while that Cakes was into me but I just didn’t feel that way about him. The funny thing is, if he had not been so obviously interested I’m sure I would have liked him more. But the fact that he made it so clear left no mystery for me. No place for my mind to wander, and this girl’s mind loves to wander. And also, I had never really been like that with guys before. I mean, I’d kissed a boy here and there, but it was all very innocent. In those situations I always felt like a kid trying on adulthood and walking around the store to see how it felt, before returning to my natural state. The idea of officially being in a relationship with someone, of having an actual boyfriend made me feel very self-conscious. I guess I was nervous about letting go of the final strands of my childhood.

“Oh, really? Cakes? Does he now?” I said, averting my eyes from Dexter.  “Because if you’re not into him,” Penny continued, “I could totally see he and I…” Cakes bumbled over and interrupted.

“I don’t know why he left our band for this,” he said. “This has no chance of going anywhere at all. Right?” He folded his arms, screwed up his nose and watched Dexter’s performance with scrutiny. “Not a chance.”

“I don’t know, Cakes. The girls seem to like it,” Penny said.

“Whatever. Who wants to play for a room full of girls anyway?” Cakes snorted. “Not you, apparently,” I quipped.

Cakes’s real name is Patrick Baker. Dexter used to think it was hilarious to call him Patty Cakes Baker, and over time I guess the name Cakes just stuck. It could have been worse though, he could have been called Patty. Anyway, Cakes was quite good looking, actually. Not handsome per se, but definitely good looking enough to be one of the “other guys”

in a boy band. I always joked that he looked like he’d just fallen out of a cheap fashion catalogue, wet brown floppy hair and all. Why some guys have perpetually wet hair, I’ll never know.

“Wait.”  Penny  turned  to  me.  “Why  did  you  think  I  meant  Dexter?”  I  froze, clamped my hands together and looked down at my black kitten heels.

“Oh, no reason.”

About the Author:

ham photoI grew up in Melbourne Australia and was fortunate enough to have a relatively unexciting childhood. After high school I attended film school at Deakin University, and while making the requisite pretentious art projects I discovered I had a knack for writing dialogue. In short, I wanted to be the next Quentin Tarantino.

After film school I put my passion asside and began an hilarious and relatively short lived culinary career. Quickly rising up the ranks, I found myself cooking in some of Australia’s finest restaurants and finishing a 3 year apprenticeship in 18 months. It was in these hellish kitchens that I rediscovered my love for quirky, dirty, flirty characters, which again stoked my desire for writing and the arts.

Upon hearing The Strokes for the first time, and with absolutely no preparation whatsoever I moved to New York City in 2003. I was once more surrounded by a bevy of interesting folks, inundating me with stories of hardship, romance and hope. How one cannot find inspiration in this city was beyond me. What was also beyond me was the ability to generate an income, so I hopped on the Greyhound with the little money I had left and got as far away as I could.

Austin Texas was my next port of call. Upon arriving I had a mere $40 to my name, but coupled with the attitude of a fearless traveler I was invincible. I quickly finagled a job, a room in a Revenge of the Nerds style college housing situation and the prominent position as lead guitarist in The Handsome Charlies.

I wouldn’t say I was a great guitarist, but I certainly knew how to act like one, and as we were sharing bills with The Black Angels and Ghostland Observatory I could be excused for thinking that I too would make it. But after a particularly ghastly SXSW performance I found myself standing in the parking lot listening to The Strokes perform “Is this it?” across the road. “No it is not”, I answered, and declared that I would return to writing and not continue to get distracted by flashier pursuits.

I commenced writing screenplays, pilots and web series like a madman and have not slowed down since. I now have multiple screenplays in various stages of development, and have completed my first novel. And I am here to stay! 

Connect with the Author at Smashwords   Wattpad  Twitter

 

REVIEW: A Short Paranormal Romp – BOREALIS ARDOR by Kay Phoenix

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REVIEW & TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY

5 e-book copies of  Borealis Ardor (pdf format)

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Borealis Ardor

Seasons of Passion

Winter Winds

Kay Phoenix

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher:  MuseItUp Publishing

ISBN:  978-1-77127-495-1

ASIN:  B00IA1QKFK

Number of pages:  58

Word Count:  14,709

Cover Artist:  Suzannah Safi

BOREALISARDOR-largeBook Description:   

Lauren Madison’s life started unraveling at a speed too fast for her to keep up with. Every truth she had taken for granted was torn away, and the pieces that were left painted no clear pictures at all…only more confusion.

The only pillar of strength in her fragile life was David Wagner, her bodyguard who was placed in witness protection. But, what had he seen that day, and why couldn’t she remember?

She had no choice but to run. And if her life was threatened again, who would be there to protect her?

Available at Amazon

REVIEW:

If you’re in the mood for  a short paranormal escape, Borealis Ardor is just the ticket. I read it in the doctor’s office while waiting for DH. It’s less than 15,000 words but packs a lot of “oomph” into its pages.

The story opens with Lauren Madison on her way to a cemetery to pay respects to her dead boyfriend. Except she knows he’s not really dead. He’s in witness protection. Or so she thinks. As the scene unfolds, we’re offered some back story to explain the events leading up to her current situation. Lauren is soon pursued by an unknown assailant, chasing her through the woods until she is captured and rendered unconscious by an injected drug. When she awakens in a damp, earthen basement, Lauren realizes she is being used as a pawn to manipulate her father, a talented scientist who has been working on secret projects.

I don’t want to give away too much or the unique element that should and hopefully will be expanded upon in future books. The story won’t disappoint paranormal fans who love fangs of all kinds. It also provided a nice sizzle that didn’t leave me feeling like a voyeur.

As I said, Borealis Ardor is an interesting story with an original twist. I enjoyed it. It needs a little more editing to tighten up the pace. reduce some of the adjectives and add clarity to a few scenes but it is still a fun romp through the paranormal realm that I can easily recommend to my followers.

Excerpt:

“You shouldn’t be here, Lauren.  Leave quickly.” The voice stopped me in my tracks.  It was David’s voice, in my head.  But, I shrugged it off and walked forward until I saw the new stone and the rectangle of earth in front of it that had noticeably less pine needles than the surrounding area.

I knelt beside it.

“David Alan Wagner.  Beloved Son, Brother and Friend.”  The lines of the letters were etched deep and black, contrasting heavily against the light grey stone.  I gently lay the roses down and traced the letters with my finger.  There was a cross carved below the words.  I ran my hand along the entire edge of the top of the stone, feeling the rough edges in contrast to the freshly polished front and back.  I wondered how long the stone had been there.  Dad assured me he had taken care of the funeral expenses, and he must have made sure there was a rush order on the headstone.  There was a fresh bouquet of white roses lying at the base of the stone and it made me feel deeply saddened for his family, as well as for him.  As much as dad irritated the living hell out of me with his overprotective gestures, if I had to disappear forever and have him think I was dead, it would break my heart.  After we lost mom, we were all the family we had.

I loved David with my whole heart.  Even though we had only been together for two of the six months that he was assigned to me, I knew that he was the “one”.  I just knew it.  There was no explanation.  And, I was the “one” for him as well.  But, now he was gone, and it was unlikely that I would see him again, at least not any time soon.

I reached up to trace the “D” again and saw a strange light flash across the polished surface of the stone, which I realized with horror to be a set of headlights.

Who would be coming to a graveyard at this hour? Besides me of course? Teenagers with a Ouija board and bottle of Strawberry Hill wine in tow, perhaps?

I could take no chances.  I could have been followed.

About the Author:Kay

Ms. Phoenix is a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, Nevada.  She serves on the board of the Las Vegas Romance Writers and is also a member of the Kiss of Death and Women’s Fiction chapters of Romance Writers of America.

In her spare time she enjoys hiking, camping and photography and is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Psychology.  She is also a member of the Vegas Artists Guild as a photographer.  Prior to writing, Kay was a Graphic Artist for 15 years in the casino industry.

Kay writes in the contemporary and paranormal romance categories, as well as non-fiction articles.  Please visit her website at http://www.KayPhoenix.com.

Website:   www.KayPhoenix.com

Blog:   http://kayphoenix.blogspot.com/

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/KayPhoenixAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KayPhoenix_

REVIEW: Soul Dancing With The Brass Band by Vicki Renfro

REVIEW:

What an amazing story! Vicki Renfro has penned an epic tale of transformation and spiritual enlightenment, masterfully guiding a group of souls through two eras with the ease of a Hollywood director. Soul Dancing With The Brass Band is a well written novel that captivates from the first page. It’s deep, thought provoking and soulful, but not as esoteric as Cloud Atlas or The Fountain. You’ll have no problem understanding the story or following each character’s path as you devour chapter after chapter.

There’s a rather large cast of players which could have ended up a muddled mess in the hands of a less skillful author but Ms. Renfro proves adept at providing clarity and purpose for each person’s role. I especially enjoyed the subtle change in voice between eras, adding to the definition of time periods without a glaring separation from the story.

The premise is interesting . . . Hillary Rubner is a young woman about to embark on a life-changing journey – college. Yet a series of coincidences/synchronicities unite her with a group of people who awaken a confusing sense of recognition. As the alternate world from 35 A.D. weaves a parallel path, we begin to see how the characters knew each other. The plot incorporates an intriguing theory of souls reincarnating as groups, travelling through various lifetimes in different roles but all connected by a universal goal or for the purpose of fulfilling karmic debt. Don’t let the implication of metaphysics deter you . . . this is a great, character driven story.

Soul Dancing With The Brass Band will appeal to readers of many genres including time travel, romance, young adult, fantasy, and women’s fiction. If you are a fan of The Celestine Prophecy, you’ll especially enjoy this book.

 

SOUL DANCING With The Brass Band

Vicki Renfro

front cover Kindle

Themes: Metaphysical, Transformation, Reincarnation
Pages: 279
ASIN: B00DV6ASAC
AMAZON

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Have you ever wondered if you have lived before?

Hillary, a farm girl from Kansas never gave it a second thought. She always believed her big adventure would be going away to college until she learned about a promise she made two thousand years ago.

EXCERPT:

NOV 17, 36 A.D.

Come with me, dear one,” McCollum says. “I have something I’d like to show you.”

It’s very cold, so I wrap myself against the wind and mount my mare. We ride for hours before we reach our destination and when we do, it’s nothing but the remnants of a once thriving town. McCollum dismounts and looking up at me asks, “What do you see?”

I scan the area slowly and begin to speak. “The fields are barren, as if the crops failed. The people stayed as long as possible because they had built their lives here. Eventually with nothing to eat, they had to move on and now their homes sit before us in decay,” I explain from a knowing within me. “I feel the sorrow of the people who once occupied this village deep in my bones.”

Come child. Let’s build a fire and I will tell you a story.” McCollum leads our horses into the remains of an old barn and begins gathering kindling. When the fire is lit, we both sit close to warm our hands.

Looking into my eyes, McCollum admits that I am correct in what I saw. It makes me wonder why we had to ride so far on such a bleak day. Placing more wood on the fire, he settles in.

Let me tell you the story of the downfall of this settlement, so you will better understand. About ten years ago, a man walked into this thriving village and was welcomed as an additional set of hands to work the land. He was strong and as he helped plant the crops he also began to plant other seeds in the minds of the villagers. He talked of drought, famine, crop failure and starvation, and one by one these worries grew and festered in the farmers’ minds. Negativity slowly sucked the dreams of the future from their naive souls. Pride once held in the appearance of their homes soon faded because they were distracted by fear. And as the fear grew within them, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their crops failed because the darkness of their vision caused them to make devastating decisions. Before long, brother argued with brother and neighbors began to doubt each other’s loyalty. You see, Hilsbeth, what happened here is just the reverse of what you saw. The downfall of this town began with the planting of a thought and when it took hold, there was no one in the village who was powerful enough to stop its manifestation.”

What happened to the stranger?” I ask, afraid of the answer.

There will always be darkness in our world that preys on the ignorance of mankind. It creates bigotry and hatred, infests the world with fear and drains the life force from individuals who don’t have the vision to see through it. I brought you here today, so you’ll realize how important it is to hold the light for the ones who are lost. We must never be seduced by the darkness, dear Hilsbeth, but learn to recognize it by the feeling it creates and the destruction left in its wake. We must always instill hope and stand on the side of love, peace, thoughtfulness… and hold a positive vision, because in time… I pray light will prevail.”

Nov 17, 2010

I heard Ruth’s key in the front door and watched her drop her purse and computer on the couch. “Hard day?” I asked, seeing her exhaustion.

“I think I just haven’t been getting enough sleep lately. I’m going to make a cup of tea, take a long hot bath and hit the sack,” she said as she headed for the kitchen.

I hear her mumble, “What the hell!” and I remembered the flowers I left in the sink. She came back into the living room holding the scrap of paper.

“Who’s Jackson Black?”

“He’s that guy I pointed out at The Commons the other day… scruffy guy… older.”

“Yeah, I remember, but what’s with the flowers?” she asked.

“He was outside the coffee shop, he knew my name and now he obviously has figured out where I live.”

“Is Creepy Guy stalking you?”

I thought hard for a minute before answering.

“It’s hard to explain. It’s like he reaches inside me and takes my joy, leaving me slimed with a dirty feeling. It’s not illegal, but it should be,” I explained.

“He sounds like my Uncle Marvin. He can suck the happiness out of a room just by walking into it. He loves talking about negative stuff. If it’s not a pandemic or forecasting the crash of world markets, it is the wrath of God. His family is always depressed.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Vicki_pic1

At thirty-five, I had it all. I owned a well appointed home with a swimming pool, had a career as an engineer and a dog. I remember quite clearly the day I realized I had achieved the American Dream. I had all of the material belongings I ever dreamed of and still had an empty place inside of me. I considered joining the Peace Corp, but decided instead to backpack around the world alone. I made wonderful friends, saw amazing places, but returned home a year later with the same hole in my soul. I’d made the mistake of looking outside of myself for what you can only find inside.

Soul Dancing with the Brass Band may be a work of fiction, but the magic and mysticism I talk about exists in everyday life for those who have the eyes to see it. The forces that propel my characters are very much alive in this world, and sometimes we can only comprehend the magnitude of what is happening around us through a story.

My journey led me to the mountains of Colorado where I live with my husband and my new dog.

Links:

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vicki-Renfro-Author/258384567650799

Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18325555-soul-dancing-with-the-brass-band?ac=1

www.vickirenfro.com

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/183-4004536-5840416?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=vicki%20renfro

 

Soul Mates: REVIEW & GIVEAWAY!

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GIVEAWAY!!! Tour wide contest for 18 copies of Soul Mates, winner’s choice of format. Enter through the Rafflecopter link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112f278/

REVIEW:

I love a good time-travel romance but it must transition time periods realistically and stay true to the historical era. “Soul Mates” does an admirable job of  blending 14th century Ireland with a contemporary time period. I was hooked like a Salmon in spawn season during the first chapter and stayed that way to the last page.

Shannon O’Brien is celebrating her sixth birthday. She’s a special child. An empath, perhaps a bit clairvoyant, but a tragedy soon befalls her, creating a ripple effect to modern day Phoenix, Arizona and affecting the love between Ian Brennan and Shandelle Walker.

It’s tricky to write a synopsis for the story without giving away spoilers – so I’m not going to try. I’ve included the author’s blurb below and the first chapter.  What I will say is there’s a dark event in Soul Mates but it’s handled tastefully. Unless you are an ultra sensitive reader, you shouldn’t have any issues with the story line. I don’t deal well with child or animal cruelty/violence but I realized the scene was a catalyst for later events and admired the tactful way it was written.

Phew! Did I tiptoe around that without giving anything away?

“Soul Mates” is two stories running concurrently during different time periods. Ms. Wolters does an excellent job of switching back and forth without confusing the reader. Pardon the cliche, but her characters truly come alive on the page. This is the first book I’ve read by author Sandy Wolters. I assure you, it will not be the last.

Recommended for fans of time-travel and contemporary romance. Even readers who enjoy fantasy will find the wizards and dash of magick an exciting element to this wonderful tale. Rated 4 stars.

Soul-Mates_Front-Cvr_811x1200Soul Mates

Sandy Wolters

Genres:  Paranormal Romance
Magic, Time Travel Romance

ISBN:  9781301079049
ASIN:  B00C89GDIY

Number of pages:  142
Word Count: 50,573

Cover Artist:  Dannye Williamsen

Amazon

Smashwords

All Romance Ebooks

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Pulled Back Through Time, Shandelle Is Caught Between An Enduring Love And A Wizard’s Magic.

In the beginning of time, one soul splits into two. Lifetime after lifetime, the two souls are reborn and seek to reunite. Like a beacon of light from heaven above, their light shines for each other. Without the other, there is only darkness. A wonderful blessing that can only come from a deeply-bonded love, the sharing of one soul can also be a black curse if something disrupts the moment of their coming together.

Ireland 1323 – Donovan, chieftain of the Clan O’Brien, has unsuccessfully searched his entire adult life, to the detriment of his clan and all those around him, for that elusive possession that will bring his soul peace. He doesn’t know what it is, but he will give up everything to find it. One day, he is summoned by the Wizard and told the secret of his obsession—his soul mate. She is no longer living in his time, but there is a way to bring her back to him.

Phoenix 2013 – Shandelle and Ian are embarking on their new life together. She is everything Ian ever wanted but never realized he needed before he met her. Shandelle is a generous soul who lives to make Ian and everyone around her happy. Unfortunately for them both, evil is stalking them. The blood bond duty of a close friend brings betrayal and evil into their lives. How were they to know that the death of a six-year-old girl in the early fourteenth century could have such grave consequences on their lives today?

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

Ireland 1303

Watching the preparations for the upcoming festivities at the castle unfold in front of her, the young girl closed her eyes and breathed deeply to take in the smells of the assorted meats as they roasted on the communal spit. Her mouth was watering from the savory scents.

Today was indeed a special day. It was not only her birthday, but also a day of festival where all the people belonging to the Clan O’Brien converged on the castle dressed in their finest clothes, partook in games, listened to bards, danced, and indulged in succulent meats and spirits. Today was the first day of February, traditionally the first day of spring in Ireland and the day for honoring St. Brigid of Kildare. Long tables and benches had been set out in the courtyard for all the clansmen and visitors to partake in the celebration.

Maybe, just maybe, if she were lucky, she would get a glimpse of the chief’s son, Donovan. She smiled to herself, not understanding the feelings her six-year-old heart felt when her gaze fell on the beautiful Donovan with his dark hair and intense, ten-year-old boyish good looks.

She held the wild rose she had picked on her walk to the castle close to her heart. She didn’t know why, but she believed this rose was significant somehow. Her mother had always taught her to listen to her inner feelings so Shannon clung to the rose, knowing it would be of great import today.

As she weaved her way through the people, her spirits soared. Everyone was smiling, laughing, friendly. Moving closer to the inner circle of the courtyard, she noticed many unfamiliar faces among the men. While not unusual at festival time, her curiosity was aroused. As she moved even closer, a cold chill ran down her spine. Questions filled her mind as she became aware that these men displayed none of the lightheartedness of the others—in fact, just the opposite.

Her hand unwittingly flew to the amulet hanging around her neck in a leather pouch to feel its warmth and security. Who are these men? Why do they all look so unapproachable, so angry? Her feeling of unease was so intense that she wanted to run from the celebration and sound a warning of danger. Every instinct within her was forewarning Shannon about the pure evil of which these men were capable.

With such strong feelings of distress running through her body, she didn’t realize that she was slowly backing away from where the men had gathered in a single area of the courtyard. As she put distance between herself and these strangers, the tension in her body eased. Though her senses were relaxing, she still clutched her amulet. Turning, she saw a stranger dressed as the frightening men were dressed; yet, there was something different about this man. He was not angry like the others. She felt no evil cascading off of him as she had with the others.

This man was sad, the feeling so strong within him that the air around him seemed to shimmer with it. She stood there, unable to move, watching as people, walking by this man, unconsciously gave him a wide berth. Although the people seemed oblivious to the shimmering aura around him, it was evident they must have felt it for they walked around this force field of sorrow as if to avoid being trapped in it.

Aengus Doyle, heir to the Clan Doyle, sat and stared into his cup of ale. He was burdened by the  viciousness that always overtook him when he sought revenge against those who had murdered the people of his father’s clan—murdered for a few meaningless trinkets and even less livestock. With each day that passed, he knew he was becoming more and more like his bloodthirsty father, who ruled with an iron fist and a heart of stone. He could not help but wonder what had happened to that young lad who had loved life and dreamed of leading his father’s people with a generous, kind heart, rather than with one as black as his had become. Torturing those thieves had excited him as he discovered new ways to inflict pain upon them. It was as if his father had stepped inside him, possessing his body like the devil himself. Now it sickened him to the core.

Lost in thought and blocking all the sounds of celebration from himself, he felt a slight shift in the air pressure around him. A tiny voice made its way through the psychological walls he had set up around himself.

“Excuse me, sir.”

He ignored the sweet voice as he forcibly kept his attention on his feelings of disgust about the atrocities he had inflicted on other human beings. He hoped this exercise and his remorse would keep these dark, powerful emotions chained within himself, never to appear to him again. If he could keep them there, perhaps he had a chance to go on with his life.

“Excuse me, sir,” the voice repeated.

Without looking up, Aengus snarled, “Go away! I do not desire to have a conversation.”

The next moment, a beautiful rose moved into his field of vision. Something in his gut clenched. He looked up to see a little girl dressed in a well-worn smock, holding the rose out to him. His body relaxed as he looked at this beautiful child in front of him. She had golden hair that shimmered in the sun, light-colored freckles dotted her nose, and a beautiful smile crossed her lovely, bow-shaped mouth. Looking into her large, stunning eyes, he forgot to breathe. Her eyes were such a dark blue, they reminded him of priceless gems he had once been shown by his father in his clan’s coffers. Her soul shone brightly through these eyes of sparkling sapphire, and he knew he would never forget them. He felt this child looking into his soul and experienced peace for the first time since his journey had begun.

“I picked this rose for you, sir, on my way to the castle.” She brandished the wild rose, and her smile grew even larger.

Aengus lifted his hand and gently took the rose from the child. As he did this, she climbed into his lap and put her tiny hand on his face to help steal the sadness from him.

“My name is Shannon. Today is not a good day to feel so sad. Today is a happy day. It is festival and my sixth birthday. No one should feel the pain you do today.”

The emotion this child was evoking in him stunned Aengus. At her touch, tension that had ensconced itself in his body flowed out of him. He felt warmth and love emanating from this small angel, undoubtedly sent to him from heaven above. No more words were spoken. Shannon simply looked into his eyes and smiled. Time stood still. He knew this tiny girl was somehow giving him strength, healing his soul. He didn’t understand it, but he wouldn’t refuse the gift she was passing to him.

Proudly, she told him, “My mother says I have a gift. She says that I’m going to be a very important person when I grow up. I’m going to change the way people think and how they treat others.” Her hand moved from his face to clutch her amulet. “You are in danger. I can feel it. You’re afraid of losing yourself to the dark side of your ancestry.”

She paused as she took the pouch off of her body and held it out to him. “This is my talisman. It’s very powerful.” She reached for his hand and placed it over the amulet in her own. “Do you feel it? Do you feel the power of it?”

His breath caught in his throat. He could feel the power, power such as that contained in the strong storms at sea. He felt the power surge through his body as if he had been hit by lightening.

“Do you feel it?”

He couldn’t speak. All he could do was acknowledge her with a nod.

“The amulet keeps me safe. My mother said to never take it off, but I believe your soul is in grave danger, and you need it more than I.”

Aengus stared at her, unwilling to let go of the emotions this child aroused in him. She was offering something so personal, so powerful, to a complete stranger who she felt needed help.

Afraid of his voice cracking, he spoke very softly. “Thank you, little one, but I cannot accept such a gift as this. I have nothing of value to give in return.”

Shannon smiled. “The evil from your soul is gift enough. You, too, are destined to change the people around you. You need this to stay safe so you can continue on the path you were meant to be on.”

She put the pouch around his neck and pressed it against his heart. His body shook with emotions he had not felt in years. He felt as though he now had the strength to beat the devil himself. He didn’t know how or why, but he knew her words were true. He would change the lives of the people in his clan for the better when he became chieftain of the Clan Doyle.

She gently slid off his lap and gave him one last, delightful smile. Without her sitting on his lap, the sharp pain of abandonment, complete isolation, washed over him again.

“I must leave now to go home and help mother bring our food to the festival.” Conspiratorially, she cupped her hands to her mouth as if relaying a big secret. “I’m going to walk home through the trees.” She giggled. “My mother says not to walk there because there are goblins and fairies that will carry me off, but I’ve never seen one.”

Immediately alert, he leaned forward and reached for her hands. “Let me take you home. It’s the least I can do for you.”

Cocking her head, she said. “I love to walk, and I don’t live far. You stay and enjoy the festival. I’m glad you feel better. The sadness has stopped shimmering in the air around you.”

He didn’t want to let her go. He pleaded, “Please, do as your mother asks. Take the road. It’s much safer than the trees.” He paused, thinking of the ambush he and his men had accomplished just hours ago in trees like these. “There are bigger and much uglier things than fairies or goblins that can hide in the woods.”

Her answering smile sent waves of warmth to his very core as she nodded. “Then I will take the road.” She turned and walked away from him through the entrance of the castle.

His eyes never wavered from her retreating form. He continued to watch even after she was no longer visible. Reaching up. he gently fingered the amulet. His urge to look at what was inside the leather pouch was strong, but he felt this was something that must be done when no one was watching.

As he sat there, contemplating this tiny, angelic child who was placed in his path, a sense of foreboding settled over him. It was so strong that he found himself upright and moving quickly to his horse outside the castle walls before his actions even registered in his brain. Panic set in. Shannon, his beautiful, six-year-old guardian angel, was in trouble, and he knew it. He had to get to her. He kicked his horse and moved quickly down the road leading away from the castle.

As he approached a sharp bend in the road that hid the path ahead, his heart sank. He knew he would find her around this bend. A woman’s wail sliced through the air and excised all the strength in his body. His horse kept moving forward until they rounded the corner, and he saw her, his little angel, Shannon. She was lying broken on the road ahead of him.

Dropping from his horse, he ran the rest of the distance to her. The hysterical woman, Shannon’s mother, was being held back from Shannon’s body by other children who were older than his angel, obviously her brothers and sisters.

Aengus knelt beside the beautiful child in the tattered dress and tears fell unashamedly down his face. He looked into her huge, lifeless, dark-blue eyes that were wide open and staring at the sky. She was gone.

He placed the beautiful wild rose in her hand and picked up her broken body, trying to wash away the feeling of isolation that her loss was reigniting in him. He rocked her body back and forth, crying for a child who had changed his life in a matter of minutes.

“I promise you, Shannon, I will heed your words and change my life. My soul is safe from the darkness because of you. I will never forget you, and you will be in my heart forever.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Wolters

I’ve been an avid reader for years. To my husband’s dismay, I have bookshelves full of books, rooms full of books, boxes full of books. My cars have books in them. I just can’t seem to get rid of them after I read them. You just never know when you will want to read it again, right? When my husband bought me a Kindle, it cut down on our need for storage, but it opened me up to books that I might never have experienced otherwise.

The biggest transition in my relationship with books occurred, however, when I, much to my surprise, became an author. I had started having dreams about people I didn’t know. I started looking forward to my dreams every night. Then I realized that I was daydreaming about these people as well. I’d just be sitting there, and these people and their antics would pop into my mind. Finally, I gave in and began writing their story down, something I had never dreamed of doing.

After I wrote my first book Maggie Mae, I had do idea what to do with it. After trying the traditional route for a little while, my husband pushed me in the direction of ebooks, and I’ve never looked back.

My books invariably feature strong women. My husband, Michael, and I have raised two strong daughters, Pilar and Shandelle, and they inspire the characters in my stories. As a matter of fact, Pilar was the main character in my book A Brother’s Love, and Shandelle is the main character in my new release Soul Mates. Justice for Emily was the most difficult book I’ve written, and that was because Emily was the victim of a sadistic, cruel, and abusive husband, who just happened to be the Chief of Police. One of my readers described this books as a “good mystery laced with sex, violence, ghosts and spirits.” The only thing her summary left out was the strength of the two women in this story: Emily and Rachael.

I’ve had fun with all the books I’ve written. I think the fact that I insert real events into my books, things that have actually happened in my family’s lives, is like having a private joke. Knowing that Michael Rogers in Maggie Mae is based on my husband tickles my fancy. I am a very lucky woman!

Although I write romance novels, they always contain a paranormal twist. My latest, Soul Mates, has the added element of time travel accomplished through the magical arts. I imagine my future writings will always contain romance with strong women and men of character, influenced by events that reach beyond what we consider normal, and perhaps seasoned with a little touch of whimsy.

Website:  http://sandywolters.weebly.com/index.html

Blog:  Sandy’s Spotlight – http://sandywolters.weebly.com/sandys-spotlight.html

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SandyWolters

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/sandy.wolters.5

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4772120.Sandy_Wolters

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17734887-soul-mates

REVIEW: Mistaken by J.A. Howell

Ready for a contemporary thriller filled with unexpected twists and turns? “Mistaken” offers all that and more.

There’s a lot going on in this story about murder, grief and redemption. The dynamic between the characters is well thought out, and the back story is layered in which adds to the suspense. The plot unfolds in such a way that the reader is kept guessing, never quite sure who the real villain is or why the murder was committed.

The story starts out with Dillan and Jamie, two lovers on the brink of commitment. Jamie is shot by an unknown assailant, leaving questions about the motivation of the senseless killing and Dillan struggling to recover from an emotional breakdown.

Fast forward to one year later. Dillan is surprised by the arrival of Jamie’s brother, Trey, a twin she had no idea existed. Still fragile from the loss of her loved one, she finds herself torn between suspicion – wondering what else he might have lied about – and attraction to a man who is the mirror image of Jamie.

Trey explains that he and his brother had a falling out after their mother died. His visit was an effort to mend the relationship. He’s devastated when he learns of Jamie’s murder.

Dillan realizes Trey is now alone in the world. She offers him a place to stay but his strange behavior and a series of even stranger phone calls has her second guessing the invitation. Convinced Trey knows more about Jamie’s death than he’s telling, Dillan sets out to learn the truth.

Ms. Howell takes us down a few rabbit holes on the way to resolution, doing an admirable job of keeping the reader guessing. The end is not sappy sweet as is often the case with romantic suspense. In fact, I’d label this as a thriller with romantic elements but those readers who insist on an HEA will still find the conclusion satisfying.

On the  downside, the book could have used a bit more editing to clean up some minor errors and tighten the plot. I’m not off put by a few mistakes if the story holds my interest, and “Mistaken” definitely did that.

This is an interesting tale with full bodied characters that will keep you turning pages.

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Mistaken
J.A. Howell

 
Genre: General/Mainstream Fiction/Suspense
 
ISBN: 1477456368 
ASIN: B0092HDIXS
 
Number of pages:198
Word Count: 61,448
 
Cover Artist: J.A. Howell
 
Book Trailer:  http://youtu.be/46XSH5oXYzA
 
Purchase Links: http://amzn.com/B0092HDIXS
 
Book Description:

One year ago, two bullets from a .45 caliber pistol ripped away any hopes Dillan had of a future with her fiancé, Jamie. On the anniversary of Jamie’s death, the appearance of his estranged twin brother, Trey, leaves Dillan wondering what other secrets her prefect fiancé was hiding. When Trey learns of his brother’s death, Dillan takes pity on him and gives him a place to stay.
 
Trey’s erratic behavior and a series of suspicious phone calls lead Dillan to believe that Trey knows more about the circumstances surrounding Jamie’s death than he’s letting on. With all leads exhausted and Jamie’s murderer still on the loose, Trey is Dillan’s last hope for finding the truth.
 
Sometimes the truth hurts… but in Dillan’s case it could kill her.

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Author Bio:
 
J.A Howell is an office drone by day, and a writer by night. Her love of writing took off when she was eleven years old and decided to fill a composition notebook with stories to read to her friends. Many years (and notebooks) later, not much has changed. She still loves writing and sharing her works with others. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found trying her hand at whatever artistic pursuit strikes her fancy. J.A. Howell resides in Apopka, FL with her husband and their menagerie of animal children.
 
http://midtownunderground.com/

http://www.facebook.com/JenniferHowlz

https://twitter.com/JenniferHowlz

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1472837.J_A_Howell

BOOK REVIEW: Elements of Rebellion by Coral Moore

Elements of Rebellion is an intense, riveting tale with disturbing content many readers may find offsetting. It contains graphic violence and strong sexual content with scenes of abuse that made me wince more than once. I typically prefer lighter fare but this is not your typical novel. This is an outstanding novel that will leave your emotions ricocheting like a stray bullet.

Set in a futuristic world, Elements of Rebellion introduces two wounded souls, each taking a different path toward survival after the Dominion savagely overtakes the gentle Eldari people.

Sindari is captured, enslaved and thrust into a cruel existence by the Domini armies. Taken to a  brothel, she is regularly beaten and abused for the enjoyment of sadistic men, forced to wear a dog collar and leash, punished for making eye contact, and traded freely for favors. Through all of this, Sindari refuses to be broken, nourishing her rebellious spirit in quiet moments, using it as strength during times of unspeakable atrocities. When her master decides she is too old and difficult to keep, he sends her to a slave market where she will be sold to the highest bidder. Because of her rebellious reputation, Sindari knows her future is bleak.

Lord Devin is an enforcer for the Domini – a man who strikes fear in the heart of  warriors because of his cruel, barbaric ways. As soon as he sees Sindari, he wants her, bidding well over the market price. He immediately has her branded with a “D”, marking her as his property, not caring that she collapses in pain from the searing metal stamp.

But to Sindari’s surprise, he does not seek sexual favors. As they travel across the land to his next post, she begins to see a different side of Devin. He allows her freedom, choices and encourages conversation, even offering her the opportunity to escape. He tells her “Lord Devin” is a character he plays to survive within the ranks when they are in public, and if she stays with him, he will be forced to hurt her. He must maintain the persona.

Sindari refuses to leave. She’s endured horrors from men without honor and she can do it again, knowing Devin will once again become the man she trusts and cares for as soon as they are alone. Watching Sindari and Devin’s relationship develop is like peeling away the layers of an onion, so be prepared for a few tears – but this is what makes the graphic violence bearable. Ms. Moore acts as a puppeteer, manipulating reader’s emotions by taking us to great heights and dropping us to devastating lows.

Sindari and Devin must continue their masquerade at whatever cost to defeat the Dominion Emperor, learning some surprising truths about each other along the way. I’m not sure I’ve ever endured a “black moment” as dark as the one in Elements of Rebellion but by the time I reached the light at the end of the tunnel, it burned brighter because of it.

This is an enduring book. One that will haunt you long after the last page is read.

Elements of Rebellion

Coral Moore
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Bared Teeth Publishing
ISBN:061564841X
ASIN:B0084V2V04
Number of pages:284
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: Amanda Kelsey