The Ack Ack Girl

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Chris Karlsen and her historical romance novel, The Ack Ack Girl.

Author’s description

Love and War
A country under attack and the story of one woman’s fight to protect England and her heart.
1941. The German war machine has crushed all of Europe-only England holds fast. To force a surrender, the German Luftwaffe bombs cities and villages the length of the country. As the battle rages, Britain is in desperate need to put more pilots in the air.
To free up more men a new unit is formed: The Ack Ack Girls. These special teams of courageous women will now fight in the anti-aircraft stations. Determined to be part of the effort, Ava Armstrong, volunteers for one of the special teams.
Her unit just happens to be located near an RAF airfield teaming with pilots. Sparks fly, and not just from artillery, when Ava crosses paths with Chris Fairfield, a handsome and cocky pilot stationed there. But nothing is easy in time of war, not even love.

My Review

Chris Karlsen focuses on an amazing event in history that has received surprisingly little attention. As WWII drug on, some English women in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (the ATS, a branch of the women’s army) served in crews of anti-aircraft fighters.

Author Karlsen focuses on one such woman, as she takes you into her day to day life. You learn about Ava’s family history and details of the sort of cake she prefers, the cat she saves in Coventry, and her favorite songs. Karlsen lets the reader follow her emotional journey as she faces her anger at the Germans,  joins the ATS, and becomes attracted to a fighter pilot. The nonchalant sexism of the day (by both men and women) is presented through conversation, as are the fears and frustrations caused by the war.

What I liked most about this book was the way Karlsen made me feel as if I walked through life with Ava. This author has an incredible ability to include sights, sounds and smells to make a scene seem real. For example, Ava doesn’t just sit down. “Careful of the peeling paint and rough wood, Ava sat in the rickety bench in front of the barracks to wait for him.” See what I mean?

I also applaud the amount of research put into this novel. From details on the women’s uniforms (and shoes!) to specifics about the tasks the women were trained and allowed to perform, the breath of information is astounding.

I did struggled a little with the style of the book. The author inserts gaps in time, with no more explanation or transition that to say “Coventry-later that day.” To me, it gave the story a feel of walking through an art gallery, looking at related and beautifully done paintings. I’m used to a book being more like a movie, where the action flows and almost everything presented moves the story along. Here, a lot of the detail seems to only serve the purpose of immersing the reader in the immediate scene, well done though that scene may be.

I’d recommend this book to many sorts of readers. Those fascinated by modern history and particularly World War Two would enjoy it, as would those interested in stories of women being allowed to step out of traditional roles, particularly during wartime. It has a romance at it’s center, but it’s also a book about female friendship.

My strongest recommendation, however, would go to anyone wanting to leave this time and place for a while and thoroughly experience another. Go — be part of Britain’s war effort. Reading this book is as close as you’re likely to get to using a time machine.

About the Author

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I was raised in Chicago. My father, a history professor, and my mother, a voracious reader passed on a love of history and books along with a love of travel. My husband and I retired to the Pacific Northwest where we live with four crazy rescue dogs.

I am a retired police detective. After twenty-five years in law enforcement, I decided to pursue my dream of writing. I’ve completed a historical-time travel romance series called Knights in Time. I currently write a historical suspense called The Bloodstone Series.

I am also working on a world war two series of novella romances. The first is Moonlight Serenade and currently available. The second is The Ack-Ack Girl.

Find the Author

Website — https://chriskarlsen.com/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/ChrisKarlsenAuthor/
Twitter –https://twitter.com/AuthorCKarlsen
Pinterest — https://www.pinterest.com/chriskarlsen/

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VDSQGDM
Apple:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-ack-ack-girl/id1554149585
B&N:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ack-ack-girl-chris-karlsen/1138717450
KOBO: https://books2read.com/u/bQdOXd
Thalia:  (this is a German site) https://www.thalia.de/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID150770183.html
Bol-de: (another German site) https://www.bol.de/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID150770183.html
Angus & Robertson: (British site) https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/ebooks/the-ack-ack-girl-chris-karlsen/p/9781393715412

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

When her mother turned around, the color had drained from her face and her eyes had a haunted look. “What is it, Mum?”

“They’re bombing Coventry. There’s a BBC reporter on site. He said dozens and dozens of planes are over the city.”

Ava sat on the sofa, listening to the live broadcast as the nightmare continued. Her stomach roiled. The mint-flavored tooth powder she’d used had tasted sweet and fresh, but now soured in her mouth.

“The cathedral is destroyed,” the reporter’s voice broke.

“Turn the sound up, Mum.”

“The sky is black with planes now. They’ve blotted out the moon.” The reporter broke into a coughing fit and then continued. “The city is aflame. It’s raining bombs. The terribleness of this night will never be forgotten. Coventry is no more.”

Eleven hours later

“Did you get any sleep?” her mother asked.

Ava shook her head. “The bombing only just stopped. They’re saying that most of the city is destroyed.”

Ava went upstairs to clean up and change clothes. When she came back down she told her mother, “I need to go. I have to see if Miss Finney is all right. I have to see if I still have a home there.”

Coventry-later that day

The train was standing room only. A blast of intense heat clobbered her as Ava stepped from the station. She found herself flashing back to the night of the blitz attack in London. Like London, hours after the last bombs fell flames still raged and painted the sky in orange and red here. Bright, hot embers filled the air, burning holes through the material of the umbrellas of those who carried them for protection.

She slowly and carefully made her way toward Miss Finney’s flat and the upstairs bedsit she let to Ava. She paused in front of the movie theatre around the corner from Miss Finney’s. The entire building had fallen but somehow the marquee remained undamaged. Perched on top of the rubble advertising, His Girl Friday. Ava had just seen the movie the previous week. She’d gone two nights in a row just to watch Cary Grant.

Thank you!

Chris Karlsen we appreciate your sharing your book  The Ack Ack Girl with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Zendar: A Tale of Sand

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author K. T. Munson and her fantasy romance short prequel  Zendar: A Tale of Sand.

Author’s description

Zendar is a world of sand and strife.

 

Living in the great capital of Zendar, Sol, Nitya has always longed for something more than her family’s merchant lifestyle. She craves adventure—or at least hopes something remotely exciting could happen. When her best friend, Juni, secures them both positions in the palace’s kitchen, Nitya gets to experience a different world than she ever imagined—especially after a young soldier catches her eye.

 

Her world will never be the same.

 My Review

Zendar: A Tale of Sand is pure fun. In this light, fast read author Munson introduces an interesting world, a believable and likable family, and a sweet young woman every reader will enjoy.

When Nitya’s yearning for adventure brings her into contact with a handsome palace guard, we all know how this will end. It doesn’t matter. The tale is well told and it holds other surprises. Besides, one feels the chemistry between the two would-be lovers, and the inevitable is approached with a perfect mix of subtlety and detail. Enjoy the scene you know is coming.

I do add an extra bit of applause, though, for the handsome palace guard’s awareness that when a woman consents to sex with a man who is saving her life, she may not be in a position to fully give that consent. So, this well-muscled and chiseled-faced man turns out to be wise and kind, too! Another nice surprise.

I’m sure this prequel is designed to make readers curious to learn more about the desert world of Zendar. It worked for me. I’ll be looking into Munson’s full-length books A Tale of Blood and Sand and A Tale of Wind and Sand.

About the Author

K.T. Munson is an independent author. First published at 5 years old in the young writers conference, she has pursued writing ever since. She maintains a blog creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com that is about writing and her novels. She was born and raised in the last frontier, the great state of Alaska.

Find the Author

On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ktmunson
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ktmunson
On her online sale site: http://authorktmunson.square.site/
On her blog: http://www.creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com

Enjoy the Book

This short prequel is available FREE! Find it at
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Zendar-Tale-Sand-Collection-ebook/dp/B08GJT1MQC
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zendar-kt-munson/1137534341
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1039556

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

“Her.” The guard pointed in her direction. “She was there.”

Nitya froze, unsure what she was being accused of. Today was supposed to be her last day. She’d gotten to see more of the palace and was quite content to return home. What was happening?

“Me?”  Nitya heard herself say dumbly.

Sergeant Ramas seemed equally as surprised. “Are you sure?” he asked the guard.

“I’m sure. She and a man served the food,” the guard answered. Nitya’s mouth went dry as she wrapped her hand around Juni’s.

The Sergeant cleared his throat. “And the man?”

“Not here,” the guard answered.

Sergeant Ramas pointed at her. “Take her,” he ordered.

Nitya stepped back. “I didn’t do anything!” The tears were instant, and she tried to pull away. The guards were quick to get ahold of her. It all felt dreadfully real and horribly surreal at the same time. It was as though it was happening to someone else.

Thank you!

K. T. Munson — we appreciate your sharing Zendar: A Tale of Sand with us! Best of luck with all your tales of Zendar.

The Sinister Superyacht

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Ana T. Drew and her cozy mystery novel, The Sinister Superyacht.

Author’s description

French tycoon Jean-Louis Ponsard is having a bad year.
Unwise investments, canceled orders, deals falling through…
In the thick of it, his yacht becomes the scene of a suspicious death, and his year of misfortune hits the bed of the Mediterranean Sea.
To make matters worse, the victim isn’t just anybody.
She’s his much-hated mother-in-law.

Onboard, caterer Julie Cavallo and her quirky grandma Rose do some poking around.
But every luxury cabin hides a secret.
Every passenger has an alibi or no reason to want the victim dead.
Discretion rules.
The crew keeps mum.
So do the marble countertops, gem-incrusted walls, and gold sinks.
When the cops take charge, things go to pieces, and not only for the Ponsard family.

Can Julie dive to the murky bottom of the sea, unravel the case, and come back up still breathing?

My Review

I enjoyed the first book in this collection (The Murderous Macaron) and decided to give book three a try. I’m glad I did.

Pastry chef turned sleuth Julie remains witty and fun, delighting the reader with quotes like “Because, as humans, when there is nothing we want, it’s a tried and tested sign we’re dead.” Plus, her adventures as a temp crew member aboard a lavish yacht make for an enjoyable armchair adventure.

I have a fondness for those who bend (and even twist) the rules of any genre, so I was happy not to see the requisite dead body show up by page five. In fact, I had a fine time reading about life on the yacht before the murder. However, even I began to get antsy when 30% into my kindle copy everyone remained alive and healthy. (Fear not, murder does happen soon after.)

Author Drew does something else unusual in this series. She blends (no — she lightly feathers in) a subplot involving a past tragedy and possible psychic powers. In the first book it seemed at odds with the light tone of rest of her story, like chili powder in an orange chiffon cake. ( I like them both, just not together.) There is a second book in this series which I missed and I’ve discovered that some of the backstory behind this “chili powder” has been revealed in book two. That’s good to know.

Perhaps because I’ve encountered it before, however, sleuth Julie’s mental snapshots now seem more like chili powder in a chocolate cake — still odd but less unappealing. Perhaps this incongruous mix is growing on me.

I’ve already recommended Drew’s first book to others, and I’ll do the same with this one. I’ll probably pick up her second book and read it as well, just for fun.

Honestly, no matter what one says in a review, there is no more sincere compliment than that.

(Read my review of the The Murderous Macaron.)

About the Author

Ana T. Drew is the evil mastermind behind the recent series of murders in the fictional French town of Beldoc. When she is not writing cozy mysteries or doing mom-and-wife things, she can be found watching “The Rookie” to help her get over “Castle”. She lives in Paris but her heart is in Provence.

Find the Author

Visit ana-drew.com for a free cookbook and a game!

Website: ana-drew.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/ana-drew
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnaDrewAuthor
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ana-t-drew
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/anadrew
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authoranadrew

Buy the Book

Amazon Buy Link:  https://www.amazon.com/Sinister-Superyacht-Provence-Mystery-Investigates-ebook/dp/B0882J3652

 Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10x Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

Thank you!

Ana T. Drew — we appreciate your sharing your book The Sinister Superyacht with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

The Foes Between Us

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author J. M. Robison and her historical fantasy novel, The Foes Between Us.

Author’s description

In 1842 England, Brynn suspects Reuben’s “natural death” had actually been murder because she starts finding cryptic clues and maps Reuben left behind indicating she needs to find Zadicayn, an imprisoned young man claiming to be a wizard from the Middle Ages.

 

When Brynn frees Zadicayn, her once peaceful life now becomes dangerous when Zadicayn enlists her help to find his magical amulet, but it’s in the possession of Reuben’s murderers, and they’ll kill anyone, even Brynn, to keep it.

My Review

The Foes Between Us is a delightful book with a fine mix of history and fantasy. Much of it revolves around an outdoor-loving young English woman who is poorly-suited to the constraints of her society. The author has added a few twists to the restrictions placed on women in the 1840’s, including a brilliant device wherein women are literally sewn into their dresses and bloomers to keep them chaste.

The well-drawn characters in this story pull in the reader while an engaging plot that is part treasure hunt and part murder mystery keeps the pages turning. Eventually a wizard/victim of religious intolerance from three-hundred years earlier joins the story, providing extra dollops of magic to what has only been hinted at before. Much of this tale concerns the social injustices of both time periods, but more than enough parallels to our own time keep the observations relevant.

Author Robison has a far-better-than-average way with words. Deft bits of description pepper sentences driven by high-energy verbs. The story is told in a first-person present tense voice that adds a sense of urgency to each sentence. I liked the pace at which the plot moves, but have to admit at times her way of telling it wore me out. The occasional inner monologue provides humor and I appreciated those little breaks from the pounding activity.

I recommend this book to those who like historical fiction and to those who enjoy female protagonists with a mind of their own, ones who don’t spend the entire novel lusting after some man. I recommend it to those who enjoy reading about magic, or those who enjoy fantasy.  In fact, I recommend this novel to people who simply enjoy a good book.

If more than one of these applies to you, you need to check out this story.

About the Author

J.M. Robison is a fantasy author who chronicles the events which drive heroes to their knees, dethrone kings, and unhinge history to bring magic back to life. Someday she’ll pack the wagon and roam the mountains in search of dragons. She dares to believe in magic. Do you?

Find the Author

Facebook: @RobisonAuthor
Twitter: @JMRobison
Website: http://www.jmrobison.com

Buy the Book

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BWWKR7W/
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-foes-between-us-jm-robison/1128348688
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-foes-between-us/id1367740686
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-foes-between-us

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Taking several minutes to convince myself that the only way is forward, I stand again and insert the three rubies into the matching three holes in the floor. Is that my heart beating, or some noise coming off the walls?

Hard-knocking clicks begin deep below my feet, like giant metallic cogs revolving under the floor. A grating noise accompanies, the sound moving up to the very stone I’m standing on.

I scramble back, jumping on the altar as if I’ll be safe there if the floor falls away.

The sound stops.

My heart shakes my ribcage like a prisoner wanting out of his cell. Nothing has changed in the chamber, but I don’t move. I hear another sound. A thumping. It’s coming from beneath the floor so quietly, I only hear it because I’m holding my breath.

Fear prickles through my body, but I can’t convince myself to run. Transfixed, I stare, even though I’m aware that whatever is coming up might do me harm. I draw Reuben’s bone-handled knife, planting my feet, determined to know what I came here for, what purpose stealing the two pieces of the keys had, whether Reuben’s death was worth it, and whether I’ve just released the monster Cuthbert warned me about.

The thumping rises higher and higher.

I grit my teeth, clench my knife. Reflexes on fire, I’m tensed and ready to spring, ready to run, ready to fight.

The sound stops. The trapdoor flies open with a crash on the floor.

A human arm reaches out.

Thank you!

J. M. Robinson — we appreciate your sharing your book The Foes Between Us with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

The Ghost of Walhachin

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Ramona Nehring-Silver and her middle-grade historical novel, The Ghost of Walhachin.

Author’s description

A ghost, time travel, and unusual friendships await Kean in Walhachin. Kean feels displaced at his home in Seattle since his mother recently re-married and has chosen to spend the summer in the small desert town with his aunt and younger cousin. Not long after arriving, he regrets his decision. There is no one his age. The town is too small for public amenities. Then everything changes when he uncorks an old soda bottle that was made in Walhachin eighty years prior. He becomes embroiled in an adventure to try and help a ghost retrieve a much-needed item from the past. In his quest to help the ghost he discovers the town’s spirited history and develops unusual friendships with an old man in the present and a young boy in the past.

 

“The Ghost of Walhachin is an unusual ghost story. It’s not spooky; instead, it’s an engaging tale of adventure and enduring friendships, with a slice of history.” – Helen Davies

 My Review

When I started my review of The Ghost of Walhachin, I realized I was poorly qualified to review this book. I agreed to review it because I like historical fantasy and I have a real fondness for gentle ghost stories. However, the adult in me soon became critical of its simple plot and rolled her eyes at the story’s overly-large need to suspend disbelief.

So I reconsidered my approach. This book isn’t written for people like me. It’s intended audience is middle-grade youngsters, who have better imaginations than mine. So, in fairness to the author and to the book’s potential readers, I’ve asked the ten-year-old who still lives inside of me to review this book instead. I’ll be honest. Some of her observations surprised me. Here’s what she thought.

A Review by the 10-year-old in my Head

I liked this book. I liked the ghost because he wasn’t scary or mean, just the ghost of a kid trying to get home. I also liked that he was green and green is my favorite color. I liked the part about how he got sent to this town by his mom way back in 1912 but when nobody was there to meet him he died because he ate a bad sandwich on the way.

I liked the history part, and I liked how in the present day they were looking for something lost long ago. It was like a treasure hunt but not for a treasure.

But, I got kind of confused about how this kid from today could travel back in time just because of the ghost’s memories. Like, was he really back there or not? It seemed to me like he was just inside the ghost’ s head but I guess he wasn’t because he worried so much about changing the past and he had to really be there to do that. Didn’t he?  But then I didn’t understand how a ghost can turn into a time machine for a real person.

The biggest thing I didn’t like was that there were no girls in the story. I mean most stories are about boys, or at least most of the good ones are, but usually they have a sister or friend or something who gets to be part of the adventure too only this one didn’t have that so I felt kind of left out. I also didn’t like how so much of the book was about snakes and especially about snakes eating things.

I really liked the ending but I won’t tell you why because I don’t want to give it away. I think you should read the book for yourself. But I will tell you that the best part of it is about how people can be friends and help each other.

About the Author

Ramona Nehring-Silver’s memories of living in and around Walhachin as a child and exploring the surroundings with seven siblings provided the initial inspirations for The Ghost of Walhachin. Ongoing motivation, and sometimes interruptions, came from her four children and thirteen grandchildren. She now lives in the far northeast corner of British Columbia, where her teaching career has ranged from adult art and writing classes to elementary school. Exploring B.C. and beyond by motorcycle is her favorite thing to do, as well as spending time with her grandchildren.

Find the Author

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ramonanehringsilverauthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19916750.Ramona_Nehring_Silver
Website: https://www.ramonanehringsilver.com/

Buy the Book

AMAZON.COM: https://amazon.com/dp/022881720X
AMAZON.CA: https://amazon.ca/dp/022881720X
KINDLE: https://amazon.com/dp/B085P3JGLS
BOOKSHOP: https://bookshop.org/books/the-ghost-of-walhachin/9780228817208
INDIGO CHAPTERS: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-ghost-of-walhachin/9780228827764-item.html
BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ghost-of-walhachin-ramona-nehring-silver/1136064438
BOOK DEPOSITORY: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Ghost-of-Walhachin-Ramona-Nehring-Silver/9780228817208
RAKUTEN KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-ghost-of-walhachin
SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1008659
APPLE BOOKS: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-ghost-of-walhachin/id1502311571

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

He examined his surroundings from behind a flowering bush at the corner of the hotel. The sagging boarded up remains of the hotel Kean knew were now a huge sturdy building with a long balcony and well-tended flower gardens. He recognized most of the other buildings lining the main road through town. Yet, even in the weak moonlight, things were different. No cars were parked along the street, and not one porch light shone. Picket fences stood straight. Everything looked new. The air smelled of green grass and animals. Even the mosquitoes weren’t biting. Probably a luxury of being a ghost.

There was no hint of sunrise. It must be very early, he decided. A good time to scout out hiding places. Using fences and brush for cover, he made his way through town. Aunty Maggie’s little store and post office turned out to be a restaurant. The post office was in a building Kean recognized as the Jorgenson’s house. A sign hanging over a barn-like building read, “Livery Stable,” and four horses stood in the adjoining corral.

He passed a store, a small real estate office, and a newspaper office. The bakery and the butcher shop surprised him the most. He had to remind himself he was still in Walhachin. Nothing was the same, yet so much was familiar.

A Very Witchy Yuletide

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author D. Lieber and her contemporary pagan holiday romance novel,  A Very Witchy Yuletide.

Author’s description

First love is hard to forget, and even harder to ignore…
Evergreen Pendre wasn’t planning on going home for Yule. But when her Mom tells her the old coven is coming for a visit, she wants to see everyone. Well, almost everyone.

After four and a half years, Sawyer Collins finally has a chance to reconnect with his first love, Eeva Pendre. He might have been too shy to tell her how he felt before, but he’s changed. And he’s determined not to let her slip away this time.

As the coven prepares for Yule, they are reminded that not everyone has the holiday spirit in this contemporary Pagan holiday romance.

My Review

I chose to read this book because it offered me a chance to learn about modern pagan celebrations and the chance to experience the point of view of a legally blind main character. These two potential windows into other worlds overrode my promise to stop reviewing romance novels because I find them too predicable.

First: the paganism. I’m fascinated by any religion I know little about and I thank the author for her excellent job of introducing the beliefs, customs and problems of pagans in 2020. The first two were cleverly interwoven into the plot, never leaving me feeling as if information had been dumped upon me. The third, involving  persecution of pagans in today’s society, was done with gentleness, showing  the tolerant as well as the extremists from mainstream society. For those who claim to be open-minded, or at least fans of freedom of religion, this book is food for thought about the deep-seated biases that still exist against older religions.

Second: the visually impaired main character. The author says she lives with much the same situation as her protagonist, so clearly she writes from a well-informed and a sympathetic point of view. I, however, know far less and was confused when the main character could read a menu by holding it very close, or pick out the shape of clock hanging over a door. Obviously I know little about the range of impairment included in legal blindness. So although I was inspired by Evergreen overcoming her physical challenges, I was also surprised by how little her situation seemed to impact her or her story. Perhaps that is the point?

Third: the romance. So, most romance novels make me want to scream. Not frustrated obscenities or anything, but something very specific. “Why don’t you two people just talk to each other!” In fairness, everything I’ve ever read by Shakespeare makes me want to scream the same thing, so this is not a specific knock against romance novels.

However, this book didn’t have that effect on me. Why not? It is the classic story of two people attracted to each other who fail to communicate until the last several pages. But here it at least makes some sense. They’ve both finished college and haven’t seen each other for four years, since back when they were shy and confused high school students. Upon meeting, they revert back to that OMG-he-can’t-possibly-like-me frame of mind that is the rightful domain of insecure kids. (Are there any other kind?) They work through this and find the grown-ups they’ve become. Kind of simple, but it worked for me and I liked their story. I mean, nobody should be screaming at kids for feeling insecure, right?

So, this was all around a good read: informative, interesting and satisfying.

About the Author

Lieber is an urban fantasy author with a wanderlust that would make a butterfly envious. When she isn’t planning her next physical adventure, she’s recklessly jumping from one fictional world to another. Her love of reading led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

Beyond her skeptic and slightly pessimistic mind, Lieber wants to believe. She has been many places—from Canada to England, France to Italy, Germany to Russia—believing that a better world comes from putting a face on “other.” She is a romantic idealist at heart, always fighting to keep her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds.

Lieber lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cats (Yin and Nox).

Find the Author

Website: www.dlieber.com
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/dlieberwriting
Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/profile/d-lieber

Check Out All of Her Books

Conjuring Zephyr June 2016
The Exiled Otherkin November 2017
Intended Bondmates June 2018
In Search of a Witch’s Soul (Council of Covens Noir, #1) March 2019
Dancing with Shades (Council of Covens Noir, #0) August 2019
Once in a Black Moon March 2020
A Very Witchy Yuletide October 2020

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a hand carved tree of life tarot/jewelry/keepsake box (carved by DhewaDecor) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

As Eeva shifted her weight from foot to foot, swaying in time, they started the simple steps of the dance, circling each other.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Sawyer encouraged. “You remember. Ready for the staff?”

Eeva smiled. “Go for it.”

Sawyer struck out with his staff, and Eeva met it with hers. He did it again with the same result. And so they went on in rhythm, the mock battle playing out in a dance. They circled each other. They clashed in the middle. They retreated.

Sawyer’s heart raced as the exercise made him warm in his coat. He took it off, his steps still in time. Eeva did the same, her breaths punctuated by white puffs from her lips.

“Ready to try the end?” Sawyer asked her.

“Come at me,” she challenged, her voice teasing.

Sawyer attacked, bringing his face in close to hers, their staves crossed between them. This was where he was supposed to push them apart. She was to fall to the ground, defeated. But as they locked eyes, and he felt her breath on his face, they both froze.

Georgian Romance Revolt

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Lucinda Elliot and her satirical/dark humor novel Georgian Romance Revolt.

Author’s description

Elaine Long is trapped in the body of the heroine in a warped cyber version of an historical romance. Something has gone drastically wrong, with the characters talking and acting outside the script, and her coachman is exactly like one of the author’s Golden and Reckless hero types.

Worse, the disgraced earl turned highwayman anti-hero – one of the author’s Dark, Mean and Moody hero types, has stolen the heroine’s betrothal ring, which just happens to be Elaine’s escape device.

Elaine, once eager to escape from everyday life and being taken for granted by her part-time boyfriend into this cyber version of her favourite author’s fictional world, isn’t even confident that this story can guarantee a happy ending, even if she does have three or four hero types in it with her…

A darkly comic, fast moving spoof on the tropes of  historical romance from four times BRAG medallion winner Lucinda Elliot.

My Review

This is a funny book. It’s funny in the sense of making you laugh out loud and it’s funny in the sense of being strange and hard to describe. I’ll start with the first.

Georgian romance novels are ripe for satire and Elliot does a fine job taking aim at all the easy targets like handsome heroes with perfect teeth and some of the more difficult ones like chaperones, forced seduction, and social inequities. She tells her story through the eyes of Elaine, a modern, slightly futuristic woman inhabiting the head of a romance novel heroine. Elaine’s take on this partially-sanitized fictional world provides another layer of humor.

But having two women living inside of one body, often fighting for control of it, is also where the story gets odd. Elaine is in eighteenth century England by way of a  virtual reality entertainment system that malfunctions, adding a sci-fi help-I’m-trapped-in-a-video-game subplot. Because even the best of satire is only funny for so long, I began to enjoy the get-me-out-of-here subplot more than the Georgian-romance-gone-wrong story.

Then it starts to get weird. Without giving away too much I’ll just say the 1960’s author of the original novel gets involved along with Stonehenge, reality and maybe multiple dimensions. Then Elaine’s own personal life enters the scene as well.

Balancing all this is quite a feat. I think Elliot pulls it off but by the end I’d have preferred a good bit less of the Georgian romance, and a more thorough resolution of everything else.

The author says in her bio that she loves a good laugh. She certainly provided me with several and for that I am thankful. I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading something different and who enjoys satire.

About the Author

Lucinda Elliot, four times winner of the BRAG medallion for outstanding self published fiction, was born in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. When she was growing up, her family lived in various large, isolated old houses in various parts of the UK as they used to renovate such places  in the days before it became fashionable. She lived for many years in London and now lives in Mid Wales with her family.  She loves a laugh above anything.

Find the Author

Visit the Author on her blog at: https://sophieandemile.wordpress.com/
Find her on her Amazon author page at: https://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-Elliot/e/B008YU9B58
Find her on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ElliotLucinda
Find her on Goodreads  at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/6469356.Lucinda_Elliot

Buy the Book

Buy Georgian Romance Revolt on Amazon. The book will be on sale for $0.99.

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Aurelia wrinkled her well-shaped nose at inside of the carriage. The floor littered with rubbish, including a filthy boot, the broken handle of a dagger, a blood stained handkerchief and wisps of straw left over from the winter.

A false nose lay on the seat. It was as grotesque as that worn by the messenger the day before. To lighten Betty’s mood, Aurelia showed it to her. “They have stolen the idea from Earl Lawless’ band.”

The man guarding her scowled thunderously. “That is a scurvy lie. We never nab their tricks; they does ours.”

“I am happy to hear that you are so scrupulous,” returned Aurelia. “Do not fret, Betty. This is an adventure such as comes to  a few.”

“Then I wish I wasn’t one of them few, Miss Aurelia!” The girl burst into tears, and Aurelia took her hand.

 

The Murderous Macaron

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Ana T. Drew and her cozy mystery novel, The Murderous Macaron.

Author’s description

Julie has her freedom, a dream job as a pastry chef, and a corpse growing cold on her floor…

 

Welcome to Beldoc, a small town in the heart of Provence, imbued with lavender and fresh baked bread! You can idle around, or you can puzzle out a murder mystery.

 

When a man dies on her watch in her pâtisserie, newly divorced chef Julie Cavallo is dismayed. It isn’t that she’s a suspect. The local gendarmerie captain signs off the death as a natural event. A heart attack. But for a reason she won’t discuss, Julie suspects Maurice Sauve was poisoned. What’s a girl to do? She’ll ignore the risk and seek justice for Maurice on her own!

 

Well, not quite on her own. Julie’s eccentric grandmother, her snarky sister and her geeky sous chef are keen to help. The team’s amateurism is a challenge. But there’s also the pesky matter of no evidence, no clues, and soon, no body. The murder—if it was a murder—was planned and executed flawlessly.

 

Can a small-town baker solve the perfect crime?

 

“The Murderous Macaron” is a twisty whodunnit mystery perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich, Alexander McCall Smith, Jana DeLeon, and Lilian Jackson Braun.

My Review

The Murderous Macaron is a fun read, sure to please fans of cozy mysteries and lovers of well-meaning and sometimes bumbling amateur sleuths. (I do happen to be one such fan.) Julie’s bakery is the focal point of this gentle who-done-it, and there is just enough of France woven into the story to appeal to lovers of travel as well.

What I liked best: Simply put, this is an enjoyable book. I appreciate that it was an easy read, well paced and well written. The somewhat complex solutions to the case were believable yet not obvious, providing a satisfying ending.

My favorite thing was Drew’s stellar cast of secondary characters. Grandma is great. I do love feisty old women and she delivers. Sister Flo, the artist, is equally fun, and I could have done with more of the geeky sous chef as well. I’m not a huge dog fan, but I even enjoyed Lady, the sleuth dog who joins the team.

What I liked least: There is a fascinating backstory here, dribbled out in  small pieces and never fully dealt with. It is difficult to reconcile the light tone of the novel with an unexplained traumatic family death, an estranged twin with unusual powers, and Julie’s issues with both of the above. Yet, it all comes up often enough to make it hard to ignore.

The reader wants answers. I suppose the author intends to weave more explanations into future novels, but as regarded these issues, I felt cheated at the end. Plus, the only part receiving a real explanation (why Julie doesn’t like her twin) is just odd.

However, Drew’s story was charming enough for me to put that frustration aside, along with my current irritation with the gluten-free world, brought on by a husband who’s decided to go gluten free for no real reason, forcing me to abandon half of my favorite recipes.  That’s hardly Ana T. Drew’ fault, and I resolved early on not to hold Julie’s gluten-free bakery against her.

So, I’d be happy to read more books in this series and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery novel.

About the Author

Ana T. Drew is the evil mastermind behind the recent series of murders in the fictional French town of Beldoc. When she is not writing cozy mysteries or doing mom-and-wife things, she can be found watching “The Rookie” to help her get over “Castle”. She lives in Paris but her heart is in Provence.

Find the Author at

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/ana-drew
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnaDrewAuthor
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ana-t-drew
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/anadrew
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authoranadrew

Visit the author’s website ana-drew.com for a free cookbook and a game!

 Buy The Murderous Macaron on Amazon.

 Yes, there is a giveaway

Ana T. Drew will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

I sit down across a round table from the gendarme, Capitaine Adinian, and begin my sad tale of yesterday’s macaron-making workshop that didn’t go as planned.

He listens, barely taking any notes.

When I get to the part where I asked my students to mix the ingredients I’d prepared for them, Capitaine Adinian leans forward. “Who prepared and laid out the ingredients?”

“I did.”

“When?”

“Shortly before the class began.”

“Did you leave the shop, even for a brief time, after you had everything ready for the class?” he asks.

“No.”

He scribbles something in his little notebook. “Please continue.”

“Most participants struggled to get their batter to stiffen,” I say. “Some gave up, claiming it was impossible without an electric mixer.”

“Did Maurice Sauve give up?”

“Quite the contrary. He whisked unrelentingly, switching hands but never pausing. He was the first to complete the task.”

Capitaine Adinian writes that down.

“I gave him one of these.” I show Adinian the remaining badges that Flo had made for the workshop.

“Great Baking Potential,” he reads aloud.

“Then I went around with his bowl and had everyone admire the perfect consistency of the batter.”

“Did anything stand out or seem unusual at that point?”

I gaze up at the ceiling, picturing the scene of me praising Maurice Sauve’s firm, satiny batter, students giving him their thumbs-up, and him smiling, visibly stoked. But he isn’t just smiling, he’s also… Panic squeezing my throat, I zero in on his face. He’s panting.

Oh. My. God.

I clap my hand over my mouth. “What if he’d whisked too hard? What if that exertion caused his heart attack?”

“An intense workout, especially at freezing temperatures, can trigger a heart attack,” Adinian says.

“He whisked intensely.”

“Madame Cavallo, I’ve never heard of anyone whisking themselves to an early grave.”

A Hundred Lies

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jean M. Grant and her historical fantasy romance novel, A Hundred Lies.

Author’s description

1322, Scotland

Rosalie Threston’s fortune-telling lies have caught up with her. Uprooted yet again, she’s on the run from a ruthless English noblewoman. She flees to Scotland and seeks refuge in the arms of a laird’s son who happens to be a real Seer.

 

A bloody past and inevitable future plague Domhnall Montgomerie. He avoids physical contact with others to ease the painful visions. When an accidental touch reveals only delight, he wonders if Rose is the key to silencing the Sight. Mystical awakening unravels with each kiss. But can Domhnall embrace his gift in time to save her life, even it means exposing her lies?

My Review

In A Hundred Lies, Jean M. Grant has created a likable hero in Rosalie, the fake fortune teller. She has placed her in a fascinating time and place, and done the research to make the setting come alive. Finally, she’s given her a thorny dilemma to vex her, and a threatening nemesis to chase her, so we all can hold our breath, hoping the best for her as we turn the pages. I enjoyed reading Rosalie’s adventures.

I wish I’d found the tortured nobleman who loves her to be as compelling, but I never quite did. He is an honorable man with a real talent for seeing the future, and I’m all for having feisty female leads attracted to someone interesting who isn’t a jerk. But he does spend a lot of time brooding about past mishaps and his relentless remorse gets a bit tiresome. Luckily, most of the rest of the cast, including his own mother and sister, and Rosalie’s aunt and uncle, keep things moving.

I appreciated the author’s ability to articulate this distant world, but she sometimes rambled through it a bit too slowly for my tastes. Some scenes cut in and out of past memories and included local facts in ways that reduced the punch of her narrative. That minor complaint aside, I enjoyed how well everything from knowledge of herbs to catty servant girls gave me the feel of being there.

I recommend this book to those who like their romance novels to have more to them than just a couple getting together, and I also recommend it to those who enjoy historical fantasy and wouldn’t mind a romance story as part of the package. Either way, I think readers will find a lot to like about this tale.

About the Author

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines and websites. When she’s not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

Find the Author at:
Website https://www.jeanmgrant.com/
Twitter https://twitter.com/JeanGrant05
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jeanmgrantauthor/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16582543.Jean_M_Grant
Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jean-m-grant
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Jean-M.-Grant/e/B0728KFXP9/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jeanmgrant/

Yes, there is a giveaway

Jean M. Grant will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

She drew his hand into her palm. Her pulse drummed in her ears. Breathe, Rose. Breathe. His fingers trembled in her hand but neither of them released the look. She tried to convey trust and understanding with her own gentle smile. When he seemed settled, she turned her gaze to his hand. After a pause, she said, “It is as I said. Air is your element.”

“What else do you see?” He leaned in, closer. Sweat, sage, hmmm…male? Was male a scent?

Feeling his eyes upon hers, she continued to scrutinize, drawing light touches over the mounds. “You’re somewhat content, though you spend hours alone to get away?”

He held a straight face. “Easy enough facts to guess. I’m a watchman. Fortune-tellers are good in their ploy.” She refrained from arguing. He was on the defense. Understandable. Most people were. He was correct after all. She stroked his fingers. Pretended to examine. His hands were ice-cold.

All right, memory. Time to shine. The marketplace fire, something from his youth. Domhnall liked animals. Seemed to not like fire or touch. She chanced the next statement. “Something in your past upsets you.” Again, stone-faced. At least his hand had stopped trembling.

She would throw out statements until one stuck. Had she been incorrect in her eavesdropping? Surely the servants had been gossiping about Domhnall.

He chewed his lip. Held her gaze.

She paused and pushed the candle closer. “To see better.”

He flinched.

Yes. Fire. It bothered him.

All the World’s Colors

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author James W. George and his history-inspired fantasy series,  All the World’s Colors.

Author’s description

Book one of a brand-new, epic fantasy series by master historical storyteller, James W. George.

Something inconceivable has happened, and all the world’s colors are about to bleed…

Kellia. Kellia the Red. Pagan, seafaring warriors of ancient renown. They have sailed west, ever west, and have discovered an awe-inspiring, unknown land. Is it their salvation, or the seed of their destruction?

Merova and the Throne of Blue. Wealthy, cultured, and the ultimate matriarchy. Kellia’s ancient nemesis, and a realm of secrets, intrigue, and treachery.

The Holy Domain of Sanctia. Piety, sacrifice, and faith. They have a spiritual duty to spread the truth across the seas, and they will sail under the sacred banner of green.

The Confederation of Orange. Cynical, profiteering financiers and lovers of pleasure. If there is a new discovery in this world, they will be poised to exploit it.

Fans of historical fiction and fantasy will delight in this epic saga of empire, conflict, and power.

My Review

In All the World’s Colors: The Queen of the Blue James W. George has created a fascinating and complex world sure to delight those who love his style of fantasy. I appreciated his deftness with words and his ability to evoke an emotional response with his characters. Descriptions are succinct yet effective, and the plot scampers along at a good pace.

I enjoy novels with multiple points of view and commend this author for effectively interweaving at least five distinct stories while introducing two would-be heroes to the reader. There is no question James W. George is good at his craft.

Alas, he doesn’t happen to write the sort of fantasy I prefer. For all that I love reading about make-believe worlds and alternate histories, I tire of violence and I lose interest when too many characters treat too many people too horribly too often.

Most of this first book alternates between the toxic masculinity of a perpetually warring race (think Klingons with sex slaves) and the alternative of a matriarchy of disdainful women who abuse their men physically and emotionally. My interest was finally piqued when he introduced the green religious zealots and the orange greedy merchants, as neither of them appeared to regularly beat up their own people. Sadly, it was too far into the novel for either to play much of a role.

I did enjoy the interesting twist he has put into the story of the blue matriarchs, but this is clearly only the first book of the series and nothing is resolved. One would have to read on to find out where his interesting idea leads.

I recommend The Queen of the Blue to all those who like their fantasy darker and more violent than I do. I’m sure that’s a sizable group, and if you fall into this camp, I encourage you to check out this well-written series.

About the Author

James W. George is a lover of history and historical fiction. He is a graduate of Boston University, a military veteran, and he is currently residing in Virginia with his wife and children.

He published his critically-acclaimed debut novel, “My Father’s Kingdom”, in January 2017. The novel depicted the prelude to King Philip’s War in 1671 New England. The Indie View said: “Five stars…This is high historical drama handled wonderfully…a tale that will fully engage you on every level.”

“My Father’s Kingdom” is a planned trilogy, and book two, “The Prophet and the Witch”, was published in September 2017. This is an epic novel that spans the entire conflict of King Philip’s War, and includes such notable historical figures as Josiah Winslow, Increase Mather, Metacomet, Benjamin Church, and Mary Rowlandson. The Literary Titan awarded it five stars and a gold medal for October 2017. “Expertly written and instantly engaging from the first few pages…I was captivated…one of the more intellectual of reads.”

In 2020, he turned his attention to history-inspired fantasy and composed book one of an epic new series, “All the World’s Colors.”

He is looking forward to future books in these two series, and will enthusiastically reply to any questions, comments, insights, or witticisms posted to his Goodreads page.

Find James W. George on his Goodreads author page. 

Buy All the World’s Colors on Amazon.

 Yes, there is a giveaway

James W. George will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Amira Medelli sighed despondently and pondered her tepid cup of tea.

She was whiling away an uneventful evening in one of, if not the finest coffee houses in Veldor.  The establishment buzzed with frenetic activity as merchants, traders and profiteers debated, denied, evaluated, confirmed, or ridiculed every tidbit of information that had fortuitously come their way on that seasonable day.  Meanwhile, Amira stared blankly at her regrettable choice, an unimaginative blend of mediocre spices pointlessly imported from the Southern Continent.  Feeling adventuresome, she had foolishly forsaken her usual Merovian Citrus Zest for this new offering, and she now pushed the cup away with a slight grimace.

Amira could certainly afford to replace her erroneous libation.  In fact, the Medelli family could probably afford to buy the coffee house.  Her uncle had at least six hundred sacks of Sanctian Bold Robust sitting in his riverside warehouse while he waited for the market to peak.  Her brother had three freighters offloading spices in Laurette at this very moment.  And Amira had…Amira had a mediocre cup of half-drunken tea.

She gave serious consideration to a lemon cake but remained non-committal.  She was alone but not bored, as she had brought one of her many ledgers to occupy the time.  The lemon cake was an uncertain proposition, since she suspected it might be time to repair to her well-appointed villa for a moonlight swim in the fire-warmed pool.  But she lingered all the same, knowing full well the reason for her dawdling.

Amira Medelli was twenty-six years of age, and undoubtedly, had much to be grateful for.  The Medellis were one of the most prosperous, most elite trading families in the Confederation of Orange.   She was still childless and unmarried, but as a Medelli, she certainly wasn’t lacking in suitors.