Thursday, May 31, 2018

Feature: ACCIDENTAL HEARTS, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

What do Abby Morgan, pilot, and Tyler Sloane, theater director, have in common? Siblings raising children on their own, a tendency for embarrassing accidents, and a voice deep inside asking, When will it be MY turn?

In a summer insane with activities and crises and demanding jobs, Abby and Tyler see an oasis of hope and love in each other … but crossing that desert of responsibilities and commitments might be more than they can manage. Is it a dream, or just a mirage?

Their every attempt to get to know each other fails, until in frustration Tyler decides he must stage the perfect romantic encounter if he and Abby are to ever fly off into the sunset together.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Feature: WHITE ROSES, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

Toni returns to Tabor Heights to help identify the White Rose Killer. He stalks young women who look like her sister, murdered twenty years ago. Is he the same boy, grown up, who left white roses on Angel's grave?

Curt found Angel's body, and he doesn't want Toni to be the White Rose's next victim. He reluctantly partners with her at the newspaper, to find the killer before he strikes again. To protect her, they pretend to have a relationship that slowly becomes real.

Their hunt becomes a race against time: find love and the White Rose before the killer targets them.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: THE SPIRITGLASS CHARADE, by Colleen Gleason

Not sure what to file this under -- steampunk, alternate history, massive literary license, or just plain FUN ROMP.


THE SPIRITGLASS CHARADE is the 2nd Stoker and Homes novel -- as in, the sister of Bram Stoker (Dracula) and the niece of Sherlock Holmes. No-nonsense, brilliant young women who manage to solve bizarre crimes and mysteries despite the hampering of society's expectations and limitations, and their bulky skirts.

Even better -- they don't really like each other. Or at least, they are both so brilliant and talented and determined in their own right, they keep colliding against each other. Yet they are there for each other when the going gets downright deadly and tense.

The spiritglass in the title is a device created by the granddaughter of Charles Babbage ... not sure if she is real or not ... which aids in contacting the spirits of the deceased. A young woman believes she is being contacted by her deceased mother, who is urging her to find her missing younger brother. Throw in all sorts of clever steampunk devices and a London infiltrated by anachronistic technology, a clever young unwilling time traveler, and what appears to be an invasion of vampires playing Fagan, and you're guaranteed a romp that will have you grumbling every time chores and boring things like working for a living force you to put the book down. Throw in Irene Adler (yes, her) acting as mentor to the two brilliant tough chicks, with lots of references to Uncle Sherlock's cases and vampire hunting duties ... wow.

Gonna have to buy the first book. This one came out in 2014 (don't you love used bookstores?) so hopefully there are one or two more new ones to dive into.

Like I said before. Brilliant. Great fun.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Feature: FORGIVEN, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

The hardest thing Nikki has ever done is go home to Tabor Heights, to the people who know how far she fell, and the hearts she broke. Working for the Arc Foundation, she is to assess the Mission for funding. She refuses to fail the God who has forgiven her, and let down her home church.

Released from prison, Brock follows Nikki home. Now that he is right with God, he wants more than anything to win her back, and make sure their love is the right kind. Nikki knows she won't find full healing until she forgives Brock, but she discovers she has to forgive herself, first.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Feature: FIRESONG, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

Dani has known all her life that God called her to ministry and music. Her life revolves around her brother and their band, Firesong.

Kurt returns to Tabor to prepare for a crusade and reunite with old friends. He never expects Dani to capture his imagination, and then his heart. How can he convince the girl who once disdained him as an arrogant jerk to open her heart to him -- especially when she believes ministry leaves no room for romance?

Between the crusade, concerts, a new CD, and her brother's wedding, Dani doesn’t have time for Kurt's nonsense … but sometimes he gives her those looks that make her doubt everything she knows and believes.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: OTHERKIN, Nina Berry

Dez already feels like a freak in school. Scoliosis requires she wear a back brace, so she's pretty sure any guy who ever tries to get close will be immediately repelled.

If only that were her biggest problem.

Frustration and fury and teen angst finally combine to trigger what the Tribunal (a brutal, arrogant, secretive organization) has been waiting for: Dez's first shift to her Otherkin form, and proof that she is indeed a dangerous, demonic creature. "Fortunately" (read sarcasm here) they're ready and waiting with a big old tranquilizer dart before she even knows what's happened to her.

As Dez learns from Caleb, the boy trapped in the cage next to hers, the other side of the story is very different from the self-righteous lies the Tribunal  operates under. (Why do the nasty jerks always try to blame God for their cruelty and stupidity?) There are many tribes of Otherkin out there in the world. Or at least there were. They don't work together, because the beastly forms the Otherkin take pretty much influence their personalities and their interactions. Wolves don't get along with rats don't get along with bears don't get along with tigers ... etc.

Except for the school Dez and Caleb flee to when they escape the Tribunal. There, an irritating, mysterious, secretive, frustrating old man trains Otherkin teens to survive, and understand their dangerous heritage. When Dez and Caleb arrive, the tension and danger go through the roof, but the tides might just be turning for the Otherkin in their slow side to extinction.

Fascinating angle on the teens-discovering-secret-magical-heritage trope. A keeper.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Feature: DETOURS, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

A year in the life…

Roommates Bekka, Kat, and Amy had a lot in common: Theater students, pursuing writing careers, supporting each other in crises and heartaches. Amy kept breaking up with her boyfriend. Kat never dated a boy more than twice. Bekka was too busy with part-time jobs and writing to even want a relationship. Especially seeing how miserable her roommates were

So she thought, until Shane showed up, but Kat saw him first, and once she dumped a boyfriend, he never came back. Bekka couldn't help hoping, though.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

ALL THAT WE SEE OR SEEM, by Kristina Mahr

As promised, more information on this fascinating, dark fantasy published by Uncommon Universes Press:

Every night, seventeen-year-old Reeve Lennox finds herself under a noose.

By day she is a lady of Acarsaid’s royal house, daydreaming of adventure and love. But every night in sleep she wanders through a nightmarish city, an invisible witness to the screeches of monsters and the screams of their victims. Her only consolation is Bran, a battle-torn young man with a selfless heart and eyes that reflect the stars. 

Yet while Reeve falls deeper into her dreams, in truth she is engaged to Arden, a mercurial nobleman who has long been cured of his belief in love and breathes fire and flattery like other people breathe air.

Torn between two lives, Reeve struggles to remember what’s real. Until night and day collide, with a revelation that threatens all of Acarsaid.

Kristina Mahr devotes her days to numbers and her nights to words. She works full-time as an
accountant in the suburbs of Chicago, where she lives with her two dogs and two cats, but her true passion is writing. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and waking up at the crack of dawn every weekend to watch the Premier League.

I'm serious, folks. READ this book!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Feature: BEHIND THE SCENES, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

Absence makes the heart... see clearer.

Tony and Max were best friends, writing partners. People swore he didn't know she was a girl and she didn't know he was a boy. When Tony went away for a few months, he realized that empty place inside was Max-shaped. Every idea to tell her how he felt sounded like the plot for a book they would never write.

Then Max's parents were seriously injured.

Tony dropped everything to come home and be there for her and her brothers. He would just have to wait until things calmed down before he confessed his love, and pray Max felt the same way. Before the new guy in the tech crew made his move.

Max tried not to dream that she and Tony could be more to each other. As she held together her parents' theater and dealt with the invasion of paparazzi when Hollywood discovered where her mother had hidden years ago, she couldn't help wishing...

In one crisis after another, dealing with spoiled actors, gossips, and secret nightmares, Tony was her rock. After all the answered prayers, would God answer this one, too?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: ALL THAT WE SEE OR SEEM, by Kristina Mahr

You know what's the mark of a really well-written story? When the main character makes a choice and you cringe, because you've come to be so invested in her story, you know she's going to get hurt, it's the wrong choice, and you just want to reach through the pages and grab her shoulders and shake her until her eyes rattle and she changes her mind.

Yeah, Reeve, the main character in this book got that reaction from me.

And did you hear me last night when I got to the last page and I didn't want it to end? (Attention, Kristina Mahr, there better be another book following up on this one, and right quick! You cannot leave Reeve and Bran where you left them -- at least, not permanently. Please?) Okay, I didn't shout, I didn't scream, because it was after 11 at night and the rest of the household was sleeping, but there was some mental agony involved. Close to the destruction of Alderaan.

There were a number of cringe-worthy moments in the story. No, Reeve, don't!
And when I ached for her.
And I held my breath, hoping the short moment of sweetness and hope would last.

Okay, what's so special about this book? I really don't want to give it all away. But here are the basics:
Reeve is the niece of the king, lives in the palace, and very realistically, the luxuries she enjoys don't make up for her restricted, somewhat lonely life. And yeah, she's expected to make a marriage to benefit the throne. Her choices all have drawbacks. Some bigger than others. Some, she doesn't discover until it's too late, and turn near-deadly. The only real friends she has are her bodyguards and her ladies maid, and even they aren't close enough for her to tell her biggest, strangest, scariest secret.

Every night, for her entire life, Reeve goes to another land in her sleep. A horrible place, full of darkness and fear and pain and blood. She wakes under a gallows, and often there is a body hanging there. Sometimes she's lucky and it's a fresh body, other times she's not lucky, and these horrible, warped falcons have started to feed. The falcons are also the nighttime security forces in this awful land, where only those with a death wish go outside. Fortunately, Reeve seems to be entirely invisible in this land, so she's safe. But lonely. And unable to stop visiting this awful place in her dreams. Every night.

A few months before the story starts, she discovers a young man whose presence turns the nightmare into a dream, and gives her a sense of company, even though he can't see or hear her.

The story, of course, is what happens when Reeve becomes visible. To the young man and to the falcons and to the evil in that dream land.

READ this one.

Want to learn more about the author and the book and the publisher? Come back on Thursday. Or just go to Uncommon Universes Press, the publisher. There's a big promotional blast going on right now, a blog tour, to celebrate the release of the book.

Note: the publisher provided this book in exchange for a review.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Feature: A QUIET PLACE, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

Jeannette Marshall married Brody Evans despite the in-laws. Their love was deeper, stronger than what she felt for Nathan Lewis, her orphanage "big brother". They planned on seminary and a big family -- but a year later, Jeanette returned to Tabor Heights widowed and pregnant, and driven away by her hateful in-laws.

But Tabor Heights was home, her quiet shelter. With the love and support of her friends, she prepared for the birth of her son. With Nathan to be uncle to BJ, she had all she needed. Even if she sometimes wondered if she should have let Nathan persuade her to marry him instead of Brody.

Nathan realized too late he loved Jeannette as more than a little sister. When she returned, he put aside his hopes for a second chance, positive she would never heal enough to love him that way.

All that mattered was that she and BJ were safe and happy.

Then the Evans clan comes to town, scheming and telling lies to get custody of BJ. Nathan would do anything to protect Jeannette -- but everything he tries seems to drive them further apart. Can he convince Jeannette what she means to him before it's too late?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Feature: THE FAMILY WAY, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

Everything is going right for Lisa. Her comic strip is becoming a book, and she is pregnant -- finally, her critical father-in-law will admit she is a good wife.

Todd comes home in a foul mood and destroys her happy announcement with: "Is it mine?"

He tries to make things right, but everything he does only worsens Lisa's pain because he has never learned to apologize. Their marriage disintegrates, until his own sisters urge Lisa to leave him. Todd slowly, painfully learns to face family secrets, and break free of his father's poisonous influence.

Lisa knows she must forgive and learn to love Todd again, even as she wonders why. Todd never loved her, so why try to make their marriage work?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: THE WITCH'S VACUUM CLEANER AND OTHER STORIES, by Terry Pratchett

If you haven't guessed by now, I love Terry Pratchett's stories.

This is a collection of his early works, short stories, bits of testing out the waters, learning his voice and style. Fascinating from just a fan perspective, but also as a writer, seeing the roots of the amazing creations of people and places and the magic system that became  Disc World. Plus a story that was probably the basis for the Bromeliad trilogy. Fun!

This could be a good introduction just to the magic and humor of Terry Pratchett, especially if you're leery of investing in a world that spans dozens of books, and marvelous inspired silliness and slaps at popular culture and politics.

I wished that he had written more about the Welsh town with the unpronounceable name that was set up like a Wild West town in the U.S. I have another book like this waiting to be read, with more shorts and unpublished or early works, and I really hope some more of those stories are in there. I don't know if anyone would even dare try to imitate Sir Terry's voice and style and wild imagination, but maybe a tribute book, following the crazy adventures of the sheep farmers and coal miners in this mythical Old West/Wales? Please?

Read it. You'll have a lot, lot, lot of fun.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Feature: COMMON GROUNDS, Tabor Hts. Novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing

Hannah Blake had given up on being anything more to Xander Finley than his Gal Friday and partner in running Common Grounds legal clinic. Other than attending the same church, what else did they have in common?

Then the process of opening up a branch office in Tabor Heights became ... complicated. First they faced resistance from a local judge and another lawyer who was a member of their church, and should have been supporting them. Then they found the body of the 3rd victim of the White Rose Killer in their new office.

When the White Rose Killer seemed to have chosen Hannah as his next 'true love', Xander's attentions became warmer and more personal. Hannah knew better than to hope it would last beyond the crisis. Foxhole love wasn't any more real than foxhole religion, was it? Xander, on the other hand, was glad his eyes had finally been opened. The problem was convincing Hannah that he was for real. It was time to pray for more than her safety. After all, in the final analysis, what good was his life without Hannah in every part of it?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Feature: THE SECOND TIME AROUND, Tabor Hts. novel

From Desert Breeze Publishing:

Daniel Morgan's past returned to haunt him when a freshman girl showed up wearing his college sweetheart's face.

Lynette Tyler was determined not to face her past, when she learned her daughter's favorite new teacher was the man she had forced out of her life when she got pregnant.

When Daniel learns that Kat is his daughter, he dares to ask God for the dream he had let go years before... to finally be a family. He pursues Lynnete's love through tragedy and shame, learning to forgive each other and themselves. The biggest hurdle isn't whether Kat would forgive them when she finally finds out the truth, but whether Lynette can let go of the past long enough to let them have a future together.