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.

Cooking for Ghosts

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Patricia V. Davis and her magical realism/women’s paranormal mystery novel, Cooking for Ghosts.

Author’s description:

Do hearts broken long ago forever leave a tangible trace?

A Vegas cocktail waitress. An Indian herbalist. A British chemistry professor. An Italian-American widow. Four unique women with one thing in common: each is haunted by a tragedy from her past.

Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, and Angela meet on a food blogging site and bond over recipes. They decide on impulse to open The Secret Spice, an elegant café on the magnificent ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary, currently a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Rich in history and tales of supernatural occurrences, the ship hides her own dark secrets.

The women are surrounded by ghosts long before they step aboard, but once they do, nothing is quite what it seems. Not the people they meet, not their brooding chef’s mystic recipes, and not the Queen Mary herself. Yet the spirits they encounter help them discover that there’s always a chance to live, as long as one is alive.

An Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection, and read by Ann Marie Gideon, Cooking for Ghosts is an unforgettable tale of love, redemption, and divine female power.

My Review

Cooking for Ghosts is based on a great premise and is filled with a terrific cast of characters and just enough ghostly activity to keep you on the edge of your seat. It has plenty of humor, a lot of romance, and a few surprises.

My favorite aspects of this book included the many strong female characters and the wide variety of people who are written with affection and empathy. I appreciated the detailed look into the foodservice industry (where I once worked) and the wonderful descriptions of mouth-watering dishes.

I also thought the author hit exactly the right notes in this mostly-gentle ghost story. The paranormal parts were interesting and occasionally thought-provoking without being either horrifying (or disgusting) or being too cute.

I did struggle with the sheer amount of drama and trauma in every character’s life and, after a while, I found myself yearning to be introduced to someone without major issues. I  also got frustrated a few times when the backstories went on too long. I wanted to get back to the action moving this story forward.

The things I liked about this book far out-weighed those I didn’t, so I’d recommend it to anyone who appreciates complex stories of women’s lives, or novels about cooking fine food, or well-done ghost stories. If you enjoy two out of three, you are going to love this book!

About the Author:

Patricia v. Davis’s debut novel series, the secret spice cafe, is comprised of three books: s Cooking for Ghosts (2016) Spells and Oregano (2017) and Demons, Well-seasoned (2019). The audiobooks will be released in 2020 by Tantor media, and narrated by Ann Marie Gideon.

Patricia lives with her husband, who is both a poker player and a rice farmer, so she divides her time between southern Nevada and northern California.

Say hello to Patricia at her author website: www.TheSecretSpice.com.
You can also find her at
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/authorpatriciavdavis/
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/patriciaVdavis
TikTok:        @patriciavdavis
Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_V._Davis

Buy The Secret Spice Cafe trilogy on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Patricia v. Davis 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

Unconcerned with what her business partners were up to, Rohini was giggling with excitement. Hugging herself, she whirled in circles, then flung her arms up over her head and collapsed back in dizzy elation onto the enormous bed in the glorious stateroom. Everything was glorious. She was here. This was her room. The Secret Spice was, in part, her restaurant.

Hers.

And when she’d first seen the Queen from the back seat of Cynthia’s preposterous little car, she knew she was headed to exactly where she should be. She couldn’t stop smiling, until, abruptly, a lump formed in her throat and her eyes misted with tears.

“I made it, Zahir,” she whispered. “I made it.”

She sobered as she thought of him, of all he’d done for her, and all that she might still need to do on her own.

But that wasn’t for today. Today was for celebration and thankfulness. Getting up from the bed, she opened her case, pulled out all the little plastic sacks of spices and herbs she’d packed, and sighed with relief. Not a one had opened or torn. Even so, she could smell their pungent bouquet right through the protective wrappings. Rauvolfia, Serpentina, Jaiphal, Javitri, Khus Khus, Ashwagandha and more — why did cinnamon always smell the strongest? There were dozens of varieties that she’d stuffed inside shirt sleeves and trouser legs and white cotton gym socks, just like a drug dealer might hide a stash. The TSA had missed them completely. They’d even affixed a sticker to the top of her bag: “Checked by Homeland Security.”

Giggling again at that, Rohini placed all the smaller sacks into a large white bag she’d found in the wardrobe. The bag had a price list for various laundry services printed on it. With that mission accomplished, she took her treasures downstairs to the kitchen.

But she wasn’t two steps in before she stopped stock still and remained right where she was, listening.

“Oh, my,” she murmured to herself. “Oh, my, my, my.”

Now she understood why she’d felt that the ship had summoned her. To anyone else who might peek in, the kitchen appeared silent and empty. But not to Rohini. She could hear the walls sighing.

Gradually, she walked further inside, and the sighs turned to whispers. She stood still, breathing cautiously, waiting, watching. In unison, the stainless steel cooking utensils dangling from the long, narrow cylinders that were screwed to the walls began to sway, soundlessly. The copper pots that hung from the ceiling over the two spanking-new ovens and eight burner stoves began to twirl, gracefully. Every inanimate object in the room that wasn’t bolted down was waltzing eerily, on its own. To Rohini, the dance seemed sad rather than ghoulish.

Walking quietly, listening carefully, she followed the hushed sounds as they moved along the walls, leading her back to the scullery. As she approached, an ancient, enormous, floor-to-ceiling freezer blew out a puff of ice-cold air as its door swung wide open as though it were greeting her, then gently clicked closed again.

Unafraid, Rohini observed it all. Still clinging to the laundry bag filled with her precious sacks of spices, she turned in a full circle, leisurely, so as not to miss any of it. After a while, she set the bag down on one of the gleaming stainless steel work tables. Bending into a full and formal curtsy, she spoke aloud.

“It is my great honor to meet you, Your Majesty.”

The Duplex

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Lucky Stevens and his historical LGBT  novel, The Duplex. 

Author’s description

THE DUPLEX is a thrilling tale, set in 1950s L.A., of four gay friends who hatch a daring scheme to live life on their own terms, during a time of systemic governmental persecution.

Los Angeles, 1956. Shangri-La. Palm trees, swimming pools, movie stars. And if you’re gay—persecution. In a society that demands conformity and lockstep conventionality, gay people find out quickly and the hard way, how difficult, dangerous and downright terrifying it is to be different.

So, when the constant fear of arrests, evictions, job loss and ridicule become too much, four gay friends and lovers pull together to hatch an ingenious scheme designed to allow them to live freely, without harassment.

But their secret plan is not without its flaws. Internal struggles and personality conflicts conspire to make their situation harder and more life-altering than any of them could have predicted, leading to valuable and universal lessons about the high cost of blending in—or not.

My Review

In The Duplex, Lucky Stevens has written a story that both packs a punch and needs to be told.

I liked so many things about this book, including the way Stevens captures the fifties along with all its many ingrained biases. I enjoyed watching the tale evolve through the eyes of four protagonists, often seeing the same incident through different points of view. I appreciated how Stevens demonstrated the way prejudices against any group seep into the beliefs and self-images of those most adversely infected until they begin to doubt themselves. Sometimes it was painful to read, but, as I said, it’s a story worth telling.

In fact, I liked almost everything about this compelling tale. It moved quickly, and the voices rang true. I suppose one could complain that certain aspects of the two gay men, and two lesbian women, were too stereotypical, and they would have a point. I suppose others might struggle with four alternating first-person points of view, although I liked it.

Some might prefer a neater, more happily-ever-after ending for all, but I thought the ending worked fine. Without giving anything away I’ll just say things get messy but happiness is found, much like in real life.

I recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who like historical novels, are fascinated by the 1950s, or are fans of reading about Los Angeles. The novel may appeal to those in the LGBTQ+ community, but I have a special recommendation and this one comes from the heart.

I HIGHLY (caps intended) recommend this novel to those with close friends or family members who are LGBTQ. It’s an eye-opening look at the world they could be living in. I know it made me aware of the need for us all to be vigilant about preserving the basic human rights this group has had to fight so hard for. This novel is important food for thought for a caring community.

About the Author

Lucky Stevens lives, works and plays in exotic North America.  He has written three novels.  He was also a finalist in a nationwide screenplay writing contest.  He was inspired to write The Duplex because he wanted to tackle a subject that grappled with universal themes in a creative and exciting way.

He can be contacted in the following ways:
https://twitter.com/LuckyStevens1
https://www.facebook.com/luckystevens.writer/
luckystevenswriter@gmail.com
https://bublish.com/author/luckystevens

Buy The Duplex at Amazon.  The book will be $0.99 and is
Amazon’s #1 New Release in LGBT Historical Fiction!

 Yes, there is a giveaway.

Lucky Stevens will be awarding $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC 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

With the tone of the evening in its proper place, we exited the apartment.

As much as I adore Cliff, I figured I better latch onto Jerry. I don’t know, he just seems a little more like the babe-in-the-woods type. Besides that, it would give me a chance to get to know him. So I stood next to him and slipped my hand around his arm. I gave his bicep a little squeeze. “Ooh, al dente. Just right.” He smiled, and I smiled back. Naturally Cliff and Dot paired up themselves, and us girls held on to each fella’s arm as the men escorted us down the stairs.

As we headed to the car, I was happy to see that my landlady—her name is Mrs. Tambler—was on her patio watering her flowers. She has always been a very nice woman, but she can also be on the nosy side of the street. Because of this fact,

I have had to be careful with Dot, whom Mrs. Tambler has now seen numerous times.

I have told her that Dot is my closest friend, but I am not sure she buys it. For one thing, Dot is quite beautiful and ten years younger than I am. A fact that is a plus for me, but I think a little suspicious looking for Mrs. Tambler. I also only have a one-bedroom apartment, so the idea of Dot spending the night or ever moving in is strictly out.

In any event, with “our men” in tow, I waved to my landlady good and hard in an effort to build up some nice heterosexual brownie points for any possible future mishaps. She looked more than pleased to see Dot and me hanging off the arms of two handsome characters of the masculine variety, shall we say.

The boys, for their part, were just swell. Opening our doors for us, helping us off with our coats, the works. And the fact is, I think we all enjoyed it. It was fun. And nice to be pampered for the night. The boys took care of everything.

It was the perfect mixture too, of chivalry and flirting and teasing which was all made possible by the incontestable fact that no one of the opposite sex was attracted to each other. This is a situation that is very freeing. When there is no chance of romance. No sexual tension. We just played.

 

Hard Luck Girl

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Topshee Johnston and his mystery/thriller novel Hard Luck Girl.

Author’s description:

Hard Luck Girl is a mystery about prostitution in a location better known for gardens than gangsters — Victoria, British Columbia.

Rose’s life has never been easy. When she finds her pimp murdered it gets a whole lot harder. At first, she sees it as an opportunity but discovers the status quo has been disrupted and she’s not at the top of the food chain, not even close.

Avoiding psychopaths, police, and friends like thieves, there is no one she can turn to for help not once she discovers a pimps life is cheap, a prostitute’s even cheaper.

Stuck between the desire for a better life and holding on to hers, is a needle she’s not sure she can thread. But maybe Hard Luck is better than no luck at all?

“A gritty novel with a surprising and strong female lead. Johnston offers all the expected hard-boiled elements in this mystery—including shady characters, near misses with the police, rampant sex, drug use, and violence.” – Kirkus Review

My Review:

In Hard Luck Girl, Topshee Johnston tells the story of a young prostitute who finds her drug-dealing pimp dead on page one. More importantly, he manages to  keep the reader (or at least this reader) cheering for this unlikely hero as she deals with the body, the customers, the other girls, the rival dealers, the cops, the slimy hotel manager, the nosy cleaning lady and the real money behind the entire sordid mess. No small feat, Mr. Johnston. Well done.

I appreciated how this book contained enough description to make it seem as if I was there, riding on the ferry, or there, in the run-down lobby of the hotel, and yet it never bogged down. The initial characters were all believable and their actions made sense, giving the plot an urgency that felt like real life. Honestly, I had trouble putting it down.

The book stumbles when it nears the end, however. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll only say the major villains didn’t ring as true as the other characters, and their motivations remained murky to me even after the last page. Parts of the ending were were confusing, and threads that mattered (to me at least) were left hanging.

Yet, it was a heck of ride up to that point. So, I recommend Hard Luck Girl to to anyone who enjoys hard-boiled crime novels and to other mystery fans willing to be a bit morally flexible with their story’s hero. This book will also appeal to those who like novels about women finding inner strength they didn’t know they had, and to people who enjoy tales of the downtrodden triumphing over those with more advantages. That’s a pretty good market share, I think.

About the Author:

Topshee Johnston, author of Hard Luck Girl, writes because it’s the only way to get his characters to stop talking to him. He lets them tell their story and trusts their voice. Once a story is finished, he moves on to the next in line.

He lives in Victoria, B.C with his wife and daughter and when he’s not writing, he’s skateboarding, playing guitar, or fly-fishing.

Connect with Canadian author Topshee Johnston on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or on his website.

Check out the book on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and Indigo/Chapters!

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Topshee Johnston 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:

As I closed the door, the squeaky wheels of the cleaning lady’s cart came around the corner. A sound I’d heard many times, disregarded until now. In my rush to get here, I’d forgotten to put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the handle of my room. To run back upstairs and take care of it would look crazy. Instead, I shut the door, because to neglect Linden Aubrey for a second was a second too long. The door’s latch clicked shut, extinguishing the daylight, my chance to make it back to my room before the cleaning lady, and a clean way out.

A Personal Note:

Besides enjoying this book, I got a kick out of reading Topshee Johnston’s reason for writing. I have a similar problem, and a queue of people in my own head, insisting their stories be told.

I hope he makes his way through all of his characters before he’s done, and I wish him and the stories he’s compelled to tell the very best!