This TBR Love is part audio with my new podcast—Way I See It: eBooks For Travelers. In the fourth episode, I discuss the some of the books in the Dead In The Water Mystery and Thriller Giveaway.
Don’t forget to check out the fantastic giveaways on Prolific Works, including my own Situation No Win sample of the first five chapters. My eBook is also discounted at most retailers until early May 2021 😀
Why eBooks For Travelers? Whether on the move or in armchairs, ebooks are lighter by far and—I believe more eco-friendly!
22 March to 5 April 2021: Romance in every subgenre.
23 March to 6 April 2021: Actions and thrills, long and short reads.
Little Known, Highly Recommended
Featured in the podcast e-Books For Travelers episode
Kick Back by Phil Savage
An Alex Munday book Volume 1
Alex Munday, ex football star, now struggling for credibility as a journalist and PR troubleshooter.
The seedier side of football and organised crime from match fixing and gambling to money laundering to illegal contracts with players, and even international gang wars.
Bloodbath in Rio by Gus Heyerdahl
A Tor Medina Thriller Novella
Set in the Morros of Rio, Tor’s family is massacred and he immediately seeks revenge. Helped by a neighbour and Tor’s girlfriend, Morena. This fast-paced story covers just a few days of this turning point in Tor’s life.
Don’t Let Her Go by JG Alva
Jamie Richards and his wife are out shopping with their daughter, Amy, in Bristol, UK. When Amy is abducted at knife point, both parents go to extreme lengths to get her back.
This TBR Love is part audio with my new podcast—Way I See It: eBooks For Travelers.
In the third episode and to celebrate the month of love, I discuss the historical romance A Love That Never Tires, Book 5 of the Spotless series and a special mention of a story I love that’s finally in print.
Dani Logan is keen follow in her legendary dad’s footsteps. He’s an ageing conman who’s known by those in the know for his long cons—elaborately set up scams requiring a team with specialized skills and a big pay out. She’s also hiding from her fiancé, Nick, in a strange game that she hopes will end in a commitment. But that’s not what the story is about. Dani soon grows bored of the small town she’s chosen as her hideaway. She hatches up a long-con involving valuable books and calls on her father’s old team to help pull it off in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. With so many little details to see to, and having to win the team’s loyalty, Dani has her fun and work cut out for her. This was a fun and engaging read that’s hard to put down. A great read for lovers or heists and intricate hustlers.
Mad Maggie And The Ancientsby Rod Raglin
This was a very interesting and satisfying read—one my mum enjoyed immensely, too.
Take a reputed witch who’s treated for schizophrenia, add in British Colombian First People’s spirituality and settings, and mix in a clash between developers and the local community and you have a very unusual and intriguing background for a romance. The romance is slow with two very mismatched individuals who grow significantly by the end. The paranormal aspects are handled in a low-key and believable way—magic realism done very well. All in all a very satisfying read despite what the cover may say.
Musk Rainby Terri Branson
A more traditional romance (larger than life alpha male meets feisty and overwhelmed woman) set in Oklahoma. A few points makes this a good, unusual read: cross-cultural marriages and family secrets, Native American religious and divination practices, and the strange and tense situation Phoebe finds herself in after the death of her husband. With numerous twists and turns in a solid plot, this read will satisfy telenovela fans, romance reading fans, and those looking for a story full of local color.
Your free tarot heads up for May and June Better late than never! Some interesting progress for some signs (well done Aries!) and still some way to go for others; confirming many of your weekly tarotscopes!
This will the third year running that we’ve offered this, and looking back I’m still blown away by the wisdom and group messages that have come through since 2019. Have a look at last year’s Valentine’s Messages for us all. Many thanks to those whose requests for letters and messages brought out these pearls of light for us all!
Book Review: We Are The Fire Author: Sam Taylor Genre: YA Fantasy Format: novel Series: Standalone
I received an Advance Reader copy from my writing friend. Full disclosure: I was a beta-reader for various versions of this story, but not the final one in print. My last reading of this beta was closer to the Flint, Flare, Flame version that won the YARWA Rosemary Award for Speculative Fiction in 2018. Also, I don’t often read YA these days, and love Sam Taylor’s writing.
We Are The Fire is an a tense story of love, endurance, revolution, identity, and maturing. Oksana and Pran are Tuliikobrets, stolen children from other regions forced into becoming fire-controlling soldiers for the Vesimaan emperor, a fate they share with hordes of other children. Together with their closest friends, Yalku and Anu, Pran and Oksana dream of leaving the slavery and inhumanity of the fort controlled by ruthless Commanders, to return to their homelands or finding their own path. Pran proposes a revolution, and while he knows the cost of freedom will be high, he can’t guess just how high a price of love, friendship and suffering they will all pay.
The Whole story
Seven long years ago, Pran and Oksana arrived at the fort of the Tuliikobrets from different regions of conquered lands. From the start, they depended on each to get through the brutality and pain inflicted by their training and transformation into fierce fire-wielding soldiers for the power-hungry emperor. Now, they’re in love, and Pran is determined to break the bondage of Tuliis while also giving Oksana her dream of returning home. When the emperor’s new ambitious plans put intolerable pressure on the alchemist Rootare and the Commanders, the whole fort suffers. With Pran and Oksana’s sudden promotion to Hellions, Pran uses his new role to seed a revolt while Oksana is blackmailed into working with the creepy Rootare to produce even stronger serums. Pulled ever further apart, and faced with betrayal and the heart-breaking deaths of those they love, Oksana and Pran come to realize that victory may only be the start of a more hazardous and dark path to freedom.
What I Loved About This Story
Pran and Oksana, naturally, but also their friends Anu, Yalku and, eventually, Sepp. Sam Taylor vividly brings to life the cold environment, desperate emotions of the enslaved kids, and the regimental and brutal life no-one ever chose. Despite the dark scenes, this story is primarily one of hope and resilience, and love. Both Oksana and Pran are asked to make difficult decisions and face the consequences with responsibility that commands respect. Rootare is despicable yet not one-dimensional, while the camaraderie of the Tuliis despite their cultural differences is encouraging. The plot is strong, believable, and with an ending that shows a much wiser Pran and a very empowered Oksana. I love the way Sam Taylor weaves current alchemical knowledge with Vesimaan lore and materials to create the serums, and I adore the little details that allude to widely different cultures and how similar they can be.
What I Thought Could Be Better
So, having been familiar with older drafts of the story that featured more of Anu and Yalku, I missed some deleted scenes at the beginning. I felt the first part of the story was racing along at the expense of my favorite characters and their relationships until I got about a third of the way through and began appreciating this story as it’s now told. Then I could see it’s a more satisfying story overall. If you’ve read We Are The Fire as Flint, Flare, Flame you may feel the same 🙂 But you won’t be disappointed with the final story.
So what did I learn from this whole experience?
As a writer, revising your story endless times does often make it stronger. As a reader, I learned a bit more about alchemy, and to appreciate the freedom I had as a child to be a child. Though set in a fictional world, child labour/slavery and soldiers are still a reality many innocents face. I also learned that bread and cinnamon go well together 😀 And that I’d never want to be a human dragon. It just gets you burnt!
Rating: 5/5 I Recommend to: alchemy lovers, DWJ fans who prefer her darker fantasies for older YA, X-Men fanatics, and bored Harry Potter fans.
This TBR Love is part audio with my new podcast—Way I See It: eBooks For Traveler. In the second episode I discuss three books from series I’m currently enjoying, including more about Native Bones mentioned in my December TBR post as well books by Iris Chacon.
Why eBooks For Travelers? Whether on the move or in armchairs, ebooks are lighter by far and—I believe—more eco-friendly!
Death Valley Mysteries by Melissa M Garcia Stranger and Next Of Kin
Stranger (Book 1) was an unusual, atmospheric read for me. The characters were revealed gradually and the animosity and empathy between detective Stellar and ex-convict Alex was intriguing. The plot twists and turns in an engrossing way, while the ending was both satisfying and memorable. I highly recommend Stranger.
So, I was excited to read Next Of Kin a few months later. The story works well, even as a standalone, the crimes are horrific, and the mystery engaging. However, as the story unfolds and draws closer to the reveal of the killer or killers, the plot unravels. This might be partly because the story starts to set up the next book and then continues to do so until the last word. In doing so, I think it weakens the initial plot significantly. Nevertheless, most of the characters are still interesting and Stellar’s moral dilemmas grow even more conflicting. I would have liked to have seen more character development in Alex this time, like when she meets Stellar’s mother. Perhaps, Garcia intended exploring Alex’s character growth more in the next book. I don’t recommend this book as highly as Stranger, but it’s still worth a read if Stellar, Alex and the town appeal to you.
The Absolver by Gavin Reese (a Prequel to the Saint Michael Thriller series) This an almost stereotypical missionary tale set in a poverty-stricken parish in Colombia. Despite the moral questions and usual depictions of the Roman Catholic church and themes of faith vs justice and the refusal to listen to the ever more disenfranchised, this is a good, well written crime read.
The plot holds together well with intelligence and, by the end, doesn’t leave you with a feeling a loss of faith in humanity. The characters were strong, especially our anti-hero priest, as was the setting that doesn’t flinch in showing the realities of surviving in such neighborhoods. A very good short read, in my opinion.
Happy reading! Let me know what’s on your TBR or what you recommend for readers interested in the Native Americas.
A bumper post to make up for one I missed. I intended posting about some of these in November and didn’t! This TBR Love is part audio with my new podcast—Way I See It. In the first episode featuring eBooks For Travelers, I discuss three books from series I’m currently enjoying. And as it’s a vacation time for most, I’m adding a few more recommendations that I meant to tell you about, too.
Why eBooks For Travelers? Whether on the move or in armchairs, ebooks are lighter by far and—I believe—more eco-friendly!
Spotless Box Set by Camilla Monk (available on most eBook vendors including Apple Books). Previously featured here, and soon to be featured again once I’ve gotten my hands on the last book of the series 😀
Novel Shrouded (science fiction romance) Frances Pauli I confess, I was more intrigued by the cover than by the blurb as alien-themed romances aren’t really my thing. To my pleasant surprise, the story engaged me from Chapter 2. The Shrouded are an interesting culture contrasted against the morally corrupted world. I loved the whole idea of The Shroud and the navigation system. The plot-twists were at times predictable and at others very surprising and satisfying. The romance is well handled and believable. So, if you’re looking for a classic feel romance set on a mysterious, isolated planet with no superhuman powers—just a wise crystal—I highly recommend this read 🙂
Novel Scratch Deeper (crime thriller) Chris Simms This police procedural set mostly in Manchester, England, is fill of surprising twists and candor. The tension is expertly manipulated so it’s maintained to the end. Relationships also grew and changed in interesting ways and most characters are well drawn and engaging. The terrorist plot and attitudes of those in charge of the officers investigating is, sadly, all too believable. Iona Khan makes for a wonderfully tenacious investigator, one you know who—with the aid of her friend, Jim—will continue scratching deeper until they unearth the truth and perpetrators. A highly satisfying read.
Novel Native Bones (crime, small town mystery) Mark Reps This murder mystery, set in a small town in Arizona, USA, is the fifth in a series. I haven’t read any others in this series, but found it a satisfying standalone. Though my early guess as to who the killed was proved right, the characters and the quirks of this small county and Reservation proved addictive. The plot is well structured and pieces of superstition, belief, traditions and inter-cultural interactions make for a good weekend read. However, there were times when the repetition of some information proved a little annoying. Nevertheless, crime lovers and small town mystery lovers, as well as the modern Western readers, will want to give this story a look-see.
Novella Come On, Steal The Noise (Holiday, crime, humor) Adam Maxwell One of those quirky, fun reads, this makes for a different holiday read. Set in a country hotel in England over the festive weekend, Zoe needs to retrieve a cassette from a hacker for her employer. Her colourful gran, and her repressed sister are her cover which makes for some hilarious moments. Very, very British in its humour and look at festivities (yes, Slade is mentioned) this story is a great, light-hearted fill-in before and during the holiday period. Particularly, if you’re snowed in, or stuck with family dramas.
Have you read any of these books yet? What did you think? That’s all for this month. Happy reading!
PS. Subscribe to my Patreon and get the box set Route Of Love for free 😀
It’s the time of the year to show your TBR some love and find a new fave author or two! I’ve found four new authors I now really enjoy and you’ll find their books scattered throughout the TBR posts.
To help you find your new fave reads and authors, I’ve joined with a few fantasy and science-fiction writers in three Prolific giveaways. Bet you’ll find something that tickles your fancy in these collections. All of us authors would appreciate reviews on our eBooks if you could spare the time and enjoyed the read.
And if you’re wondering what my own little freebie for fantasy-lovers is, it’s my newest short story collection!
Read on to find the first two giveaways in time for your Halloween weekend. There’s another giveaway in November, so keep your eyes peeled 🙂
The Prolific Works team is proud to present the You Should See Me In A Crown Group Giveaway! This giveaway has all types of fantasy and paranormal books. Claim as many as you’d like and enjoy your new reads!
Happy Halloween! This Trick-Or-Read Group Giveaway is hosted by the Prolific Works team and has books from all genres, so there’s something here for everyone. You can claim as many as you’d like and enjoy your new reads!
Little Known, Highly Recommended
The Identity Thief (YA Fantasy) Alex Bryant
Despite its at time horrific and other triggers, this story gripped and amused me throughout in much the same manner as Lemony Snickets and Ben Aaronovitch’s work. Set in London in a world where magic is real yet mostly illusion, and drawing from ancient Greek philosophies and theatre, an intricate plot twists and turns around a traumatised boy, a girl whose mother is a magic crimes investigator and an unempathetic mimic who uses grimoires to cause havoc. The pace was perfect, the humour well placed, and the plot twists and turns in an unpredictable. Peppered with social issues and acute observations of tweens and school drama, it makes for a satisfying read for more than YA readers, in my opinion.
Lou’s Tattoos-A Comedy Of Errors(Crime/humour) Iris Chacon
If you’re a regular TBR Love reader, who’ll know I loved Iris Chacon’s Finding Miranda. Once again, Chacon delivers quirky, fun characters, understated action and a strongly evoked settings. The story takes us back to the 90’s when tattoos weren’t as common, photography was expensive and involved rolls of 35mm and various ASAs, and annoying fellow passengers on flights were the same. Aspiring photographer and renowned tattoo artist, Lou, gets the chance of the lifetime when her photography break places her next to Galen, renowned nobody-knows-my-face photographer, on a flight he didn’t want to be on. And so the comedy of errors intensifies. It’s a quick, fun, read!
For virtual librarians: Ebook recommendations from my mum for your older relatives and readers
In fact, since the lockdown and mum’s inability to access print from the libraries every week or two, she’s been reading three to four books plus a novella or two every week—yep! Much more than I currently read. So, I thought I’d share some of my mum’s most recommended reads with you in case you’ve also become someone’s virtual librarian. Scroll further for the highly recommended if you’re in a rush as I thought I’d tell you a bit more about my mum and her reading habits first. Or, if you prefer: The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers.
NB: This post contains some affiliate links that keep us eBooks.
First: the technical stuff
Mum’s on android, so I downloaded Lithium from the GooglePlay store for her. She’s had no complaints. I’ve set the background to the one that looks like parchment or a standard paperback page, kept the font as standard black and made the font slightly larger than usual. She uses the grid view with the recently opened showing first. Sometimes, she forgets to scroll down when looking for a new book to read, but that’s okay. She began reading eBooks on her phone a few years ago, but between the battery drain and having to hold the powerbank while she read sometimes, it wasn’t ideal. Enter Wee Bruv and Kleinsus with the tablet for her birthday. Mum’s in love with her tablet and the fact that she doesn’t need to recharge it so often even though she reads for at least four hours on most days. Also, she can read during loadshedding and not disturb Dad as much, too. Her tablet has Lithium with the same settings and what excited her a lot was the larger page area. We also set the screen brightness to about 40-45% so she doesn’t burn out her retinas and avoids eye-strain. Plus, this saves the battery, too.
Next: where mum gets her books
Short answer, me! This is where I turn into the virtual librarian. To be fair, I’ve had practice since years ago when I used to finish work early on Friday and rush over to our local library to grab an armful of books in 30mins or less. It’s kind of like the same process, only this time it’s all digital and I have one or two steps more.
I usually download books from Smashwords and some other sites that offer free and introductory reads (like Prolific), and sometimes I buy an eBook from an author we enjoyed, as long as it’s available for download as an epub. This isn’t ideal, but mum talks to more readers of her age who are more likely to seek out the print and library versions of the authors she recommends, and once mum loves a book, she loves a book. Besides, we can’t afford to buy all the books we’d like to read. Mum doesn’t read online so that’s another reason to download the books. Truth be told, mum gets overwhelmed and bored by scrolling through the endless covers and blurbs, sorting through the menus and submenus to find her genres and braving the other hazards of finding books that appeal to her in an online store or library. I don’t mind digging for gems for mum as it’s research and often good reading for me, too! Once I’ve downloaded and run a virus-scan (you can never be too careful), I transfer the eBooks to mum’s device.
Mystery, crime, adventure, thriller, romantic suspense and family drama. Sometimes she’ll read a horror (not very often), has long since passed the erotic romance phase, and likes a good humorous story especially if it involves pets and quirky characters. We’re talking about someone who grew up reading Agatha Christie and the classics, got stuck in historical dramas in the ’70s, spent the ’80s and ’90s reading Jackie Collins and Virginia Andrews, fought us for Terry Pratchetts and Alan Dean Fosters while reading Jack Reacher novels and Dick Francis from the word go. Mum’s always moved with the times as long as the stories are good. Now she’s bingeing on eBooks. She doesn’t usually read badly formatted or poorly written books, deleting them quickly. I’ve gotta say I’m really proud of mum’s reading habits 😀
Mum’s recommendations for 2020
Author: Wes Snowden Mum’s most recent bingeing has been the very enjoyable Wes Snowden. We just ‘discovered’ him this year, and she’s already talking to Big Sis (a big Dick Francis fan) about this author. I’ve read one of his books so far and got so engrossed in it that I stayed up half the night to complete the story. I believe Wes Snowden’s books are also available in print, so you may want to ask your librarian for them. One Last Move: This is the story I’ve read, the one that had me up half the night. The characters are warm and quirky, yet relatable. The main character is honest and his predicament not one you often find in a print. This is a gentle suspense with a hint of thriller and romance. All in all, an excellent read by mum’s and my standards. Other books by Snowden mum’s read: Snowfall In Venice: a novella White Swan Wishes: Mum enjoyed this one immensely. She loved the humour. When I have a day or two to spare, I’ll read this next.
Author: Camilla Monk The Spotless Series: I got the box-set for my birthday after thoroughly enjoying Spotless (the first book) as freebie and vowed to read the rest as soon as I could afford it. Mum and I read the series almost simultaneously, so not much work got done over those few days. We had convos around: Which book are you on now? When does March come in again? Did you reach that bit where Island finds out about the bad guy? Spotless the series has all the elements mum loves: mystery, adventure, action, romance, quirky characters, humour… Mum’s itching to read Book 5 as much as I am. Maybe for Christmas…
Author: Cecilia Peartree Death At The Happiness Club: This one mum recommends to senior citizens looking for an enjoyable mystery. It’s part of a series so I’ll keep an eye out for more.
Author: Peggy Webb The Rules Of Engagement: Another book recommended by mum to other seniors. I believe it’s a romance mystery.
Author: Iris Chacon Finding Miranda: I read this first and told mum she should read it next. She did. It wasn’t her usual reading, but the quirky, characters and unusual plot and general humor also won her over. I highly recommend this, and mum would recommend it to those who enjoy Carl Hiaasen with less sweary words.
Graham Wilson This Aussie author was the first that mum read on her screen—one who got her bingeing his thriller/crime series. I haven’t read his stories yet, but they pretty much have mum glued to her screen. She tried recommending him to one of her senior friends who’s still stuck on print and was sad she couldn’t share another good author with a fellow reader of taste.
Eric Douglas Cayman Cowboys: Mum particularly enjoyed the setting and the scuba-diving adventure aspects. I did try reading this and found it a little too slow at the beginning for me, so some patience required in getting to the heart of the story for this one, perhaps.
Sally Berneathy Death By Chocolate:Mum and I both enjoyed the twists and turns in this mystery. Perfect for a long-weekend or Sunday read.
Connie Shelton Sweet Masterpiece: Another solid mystery/crime/foodie story that had both of us hooked. An added bonus for me was the focus on art.
And that’s all we have for you, folks! Happy reading to you and the senior members in your family!
Just the one review, and some very exciting news about Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores!
Some Very Exciting News!
Want access to positive and thought-provoking speculative fiction? Not to mention exclusive tarot reads no-one else gets…and a free personal reading for that particular question that’s been bugging you. I have your solution from $2 a month! 😀
#1) (romance, suspense, humor, action) Camilla MonkA
woman named Island (I know, I know) is kidnapped by a hitman with a
serious (and I mean serious!) OCD problem. They’re both strangely
weird people, who form a strange, but satisfying bond under various
intense and upsetting circumstances involving
bullets, blood, and various
Imagine the movie series The Transporter meets Meg Cabot’s romances meets some really great characterisation and plotting…without holes, or its slip showing at embarrassing places, or resorting to predictability or illogical plot-contortions just to keep one cinematic scene intact… I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s fun. It’s brilliant. It’s not for those who love plots-by-numbers types. I can’t wait to read the next one! But I have to. Because work.
Here we are in mid-season (Summer/Winter) 2019! There are freebies for your vacations, holidays or those longer-than-usual waits for your cuppa or joe with tourists inundating your usual hangout.
With Quest For The Wholly Pale almost ready to hit your favourite bookstores, I’ve had less than usual time to read for pleasure, so just one extremely highly recommended book by Silke Stein for you. If you read nothing else on the beach this month, I suggest you read this amazing book. But first, about those freebies…
Love in all it’s forms. E-books and short stories of all lengths. Perfect for the beach or that long journey! Summer of Love 30th May, 2019 to 1st September, 2019
I Do Romance Group Giveaway 16th June, 2019 to 15th July, 2019 With only 2 weeks left in this give-away grab your romance quick!
Star-Crossed: Mix-Matched Parings of Colleagues, Family, Friends, Lovers or Others – All Genres 1st July, 2019 to 31st July, 2019 Misfit meets social butterfly, rich girl and poor (or is he) guy, frenemies and your work nemesis. They’re all pairing off in unexpected ways.
Foam On The Crest of Waves (mystery, family drama) Silke Stein This wonderfully written story kept me enthralled, unable to figure out the mystery till almost the very end. Told from different viewpoints, the slow unfolding of the mystery touches on more than just the family tragedy, small town life, coming of age, and environmental issues. It also beautifully evokes the wonders of nature, art, and second chances. Never truly predictable, this story was a joy to read. I downloaded this story in a ProlificWorks giveaway.
Hope to have more great recommends for you next month, and more on Quest, too! Meanwhile, have a great summer/winter!