Category Archives: reviews

A Romantic Novella

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Book Blurb:

Ella has hit rock bottom. The only thing on her mind is getting home, but her car breaks down five hours away from her destination. She finds herself stuck in the unfamiliar town of Paradise Falls.

Instead of spending hours waiting on car repairs, Ella meets a local who invites her to help with the town’s Harvest Festival. Thanks to the kindness of a stranger, she’s able to find joy in her favorite time of the year.

The few hours for car repairs quickly turn into an overnight visit, as Ella continues to enjoy the festivities. Her fondness of the town grows with each passing day, forcing Ella to make a difficult decision. Should she follow her heart or continue the plan she’s always had for her life?

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Elle is a young journalist who finds herself stranded in a small town just shy of her intended destination. This begins a tug-of-war of sorts for Ella. Her life’s plans begin to lose ground to her growing fondness for Paradise Falls, North Carolina, and the people she meets there. Big city life versus small town hospitality. Which will win out?

The author tells her story with a folksy narration that feels warm and familiar. It embodies family, friendship, and a neighborly ideal that seems to be slipping from our world.

This is the second story I’ve read from Marlena Smith. Her skills as a writer have grown from the first story to this one. I would love to see her build on to this story with these characters. This is a wonderful introduction to an idyllic creation. If you’re a fan of the works of Janette Oke, this story is worth a read.

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About the Author:

Marlena Smith was born in a small town of Alabama, where she continues to live today. When she’s not working at the office, she can be found writing, reading, or blogging. Writing has always been a major part of her life, even since grade school, when she was selected to attend the Young Authors’ Conference in her state.

Although her writing has been public through her blog for several years, she has only recently begun publishing. She has several works in progress including a romance novel, a young adult novella, and several short thrillers.

Where to Buy:

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Layers: A Collection of Short Stories by Zuzanne Belec! Something for Every Reader!

Blurb: 

Layers is a debut collection of imaginative short stories celebrating life and the human spirit despite the ever-present spectre of melancholy in our lives today. With their distinctive blend of wit and humour, they light up any underlying darkness.

From the Americas to India, from Africa to Europe, and through a range of genres, voices and styles, layers are unraveled, revealing the textures and contrasts of old and new in the environments and cultures of today’s fast-paced world. With vivid descriptions, we are drawn into enchanting worlds with characters that leap off the page, leaving the reader lingering long after the pages have been read.

  • In The Christmas Charge: Instead of enjoying their Christmas preparing eggnog cream pie and sipping sherry by the fireside, three batty grannies go on an African safari. At this stage of wisdom in their lives, nothing can go wrong. Right?

 

  • In Paths Taken: When her grandmother ‘kills’ a man on a busy town square, Hecate is forced to face her worst fears and use her own unsettling powers to help her. But where will these new paths take her?

 

  • In White Noise: All Earl needs to do is hand his work over to his successor. But is it that easy to let go? And where does one hide from one’s inner noise when things go wrong?

 

  • In The Old Man and the Donkey: Deep in northern Portugal, an old man and his donkey go about their lonely routine. When an unexpected visitor shows up, everyone is given a new chance of happiness. But have they all been stubbornly avoiding it for too long?

 

  • In The Arctic Haze: Since he was little, bad luck has stuck to George’s soles like clingy dog mess. Some of us are luckier. Or are we really?

 

  • In Penny’s Purple Robot: A loving father exceeds himself to make his daughter happy after her mother passes away. But can he force himself to face a brutal truth?

 

  • In Mothers: Deep in Africa, a desperate mother accepts her own fate, but refuses to face an even harsher reality. Mothers will do anything for their young. And things may not be as they seem.

 

  • In Yeehaw: Running from their regular lives, Sam and Patsy end up in an artificial town – Yeehaw Theme Park. Will they find their true selves in this synthetic world?

If you like a minimalist and dark, yet humorous look at the contrasts we face in the world today, you will enjoy this collection of mixed-genre stories.

Buy now to enter into these worlds!

 

My Review: 

Rating: ★★★★★

Layers: A Collection of Short Stories offers readers a buffet of tales from which to choose. Author Zuzanne Belec has crafted stories filled with originality, intrigue, suspense, and life. Her characters arrive fully formed and breathing, alive with personality that radiates throughout these pages.

Each story is a look inside lives that are both unlike our own and yet very much alike. Though some stories may read slower than others, they are each worthy of a reading.

From the opening story to the final one, it becomes clear that Belec writes from the heart. She has the talent to weave emotion into her work, allowing readers to become invested in the characters and the plot. Among my favorites are The Christmas Charge, and the inventive Paths Taken.

If you enjoy short fiction, there is something here for every taste. This is a fine collection.

 

About the Author: 

Zuzanne is a writer, poet and translator who now lives in the heart of Europe, after being lucky enough to spend her first thirty years absorbing the contrasting textures of Africa.

After she quit the rat race, she spent fifteen years as a translator before discovering the world of writing. This discovery, and the encouragement from her daughters, partner and friends, led to her decision to delve even deeper into writing. She then grew a long grey beard and became a hermit, studying the craft and immersing herself into this world that is magic.
About the time when her beard reached ankle-length, she knew she was on the right path when three of her stories were published in Canadian literary magazines.

This debut collection, Layers, is the result of this passion. And it is only the beginning …

A Few Words About “Finding Myself Again” by Verwayne Greenhoe

Blurb:

A Lonely Man Finds Love Again

After forty-seven years of a great relationship, courtship, and marriage, the author found himself alone. His wife had struggled with a rough fight with dementia. Suddenly, she took a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse, leaving him alone for the first time in his adult life. He was sixty-four at the time but felt more like he was forty physically and ninety-five emotionally.

For over a year, he had tried to go forward with his life, but when he was alone at night, his heart’s emptiness reminded him that he needed someone to fill the ache inside him.

Loneliness is a killer, and he was dying from grief. He was dying inside because he had never been alone in his life. He told himself that he would be alright, but he wasn’t and was fading fast.

Then he found Heather. They were two souls drifting in a sea of loneliness and grief that found one another amid a building storm. Is she the one that can pull him out of an escalating depression?

We’ll see.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Finding Myself Again by Verwayne Greenhoe is part memoir, part love story, and a huge helping of healing. The author shares the story of losing his wife to the ravages of dementia, a disease that takes loved ones long before they actually leave this world.

Greenhoe gives readers an insider’s view of, not just that dreaded disease, but also of a love story shared between a husband and wife. There’s real heartache on these pages when the time comes that he loses the love of his life. But then something wonderful happens. The grieving husband finds love again—without even looking for it. When one door closes, God opens a window.

This is an uplifting story that will certainly bring hope to those who have lost their own loved ones while finding themselves still very much alive and alone. This one will stay with me for a long time.

About the Author:

Born and raised on a small dairy farm in west-central Michigan, I learned about life and death at an early age. I was lucky enough to have a loving, caring Father who taught me about some of the more intricate ‘ins and outs’ of living every day.

I started writing simple stories at age six in about 1959 and have been at it ever since. As a boy, no one ever really taught me to read, I just could. I used that gift to find a world I might not have been able to experience for another decade or more. I later became a medic, worked in a psych ward of a prison and spent many years working in Emergency Rooms as an aide and then a nurse.

I just moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (da UP!) and am getting settled back into a steady writing habit. I have a flurry of books I will be releasing every month to six weeks. The subject genre runs the gamut from inspirational to romance to a serial killer story. The move to a more solitude in the UP surrounding allows me to write when I want to write.

I’ve written about my experiences growing up on the farm and my father. I have several stories about the things I saw and experienced in the emergency field, both in and out of the ER. I’ll admit that my life story is weird, but I prefer to think of it as an alternate reality in which I am the pioneer and flag planter. I’m crazy, but I suspect most of my readers have figured that out.

I have sixteen, soon to be twenty audio books out. You can find them over on Audible or on Amazon under my listing for stories and books. I try to add a novella of 16,000 to 22,000 words every month, and at least two to three 40,000+ word novel every year.

Thanks for reading!

Two Friends, Too Old by Robert Scott is on Kindle Countdown! @robbiehscottjr #FIGAuthors

Author Robert Scott is offering his novel Two Friends, Too Old on Kindle Countdown for just .99 beginning July 4 and running until July 6. It goes up to $1.99 after! Grab your copy before it’s too late!

Two Friends, Too Old

What would you do if you saw your best friend for 60 years slipping over the edge into mental oblivion? You would do anything to help him, right? Frank and Clay have been friends since the first day of first grade. Now both in their mid-sixties and retired, Frank is looking forward to spending a lot of quality time hanging out with his lifelong friend. But all that is threatened when Frank sees Clay going around the bend.

Clay denies he has a problem and rejects Frank’s initial suggestions for help. But when Frank stumbles upon a drug that might help, he renews his efforts to help his buddy and he talks Clay into taking the drug. That works great, for a while. But Frank couldn’t quite bring himself to tell Clay the entire truth about the drug, and that deception has tragic consequences, not only for Clay but also for Frank.

My Review

Rating: ★★★★★

Frank is a man in the golden years of his life. But just when he thinks it’s time to settle into an easy routine of family and old friends, life throws a haymaker that sends the retired man to the canvas. It begins with finding friend Clay beating his own dog. This is only the beginning of unprovoked outbursts of violence that are so out of character for this old friend. Dementia has crept in and taken Clay away, replacing him with someone who just can’t be trusted around Frank, Frank’s wife Lucille, and others who had come to know the once gentle man.

A farmer named Will is coping with tragedy of his own, nursing his terminally-ill wife when he crosses paths with Clay in the midst of another dementia-induced outburst. This is a look at the dark side of aging, the side most people choose not to examine. But this is reality. We all grow old and eventually die. Sometimes it’s the physical self that fails, leaving a once healthy person bound to others for help. That’s what we do, we take care of those we love. But what happens when it’s the mental decline that strikes a person down with age? Violence is sometimes a symptom. And the loss of memories only twists the knife deeper. This book is for anybody who loves a well-written story. But it’s especially for those going through their own journey with a loved one caught by aging. I highly recommend this story.

Get your copy today!

Until Death Do Us Unite: Short Story by @FizaPathan – A Review

Review

Rating: ★★★★★

I have become a fan of author Fiza Pathan’s work over the past year or so. This is a writer skilled in the art of telling a great story. Whether it be her autobiographical essays, or one of her many short stories, Miss Pathan knows how to hold the readers attention.  She accomplishes this with her recent short story entitled Until Death Do Us Unite.

This quick read pulls the reader into the tale of ancient Indian customs, India under British rule, and true love finding its place in the world. After the death of the revered Thakur Ram Singh, both of the man’s living wives are sentenced to die atop his burning funeral pyre—even though both women are still very much alive. While the older of the two wives views this as an honor, the horror of death by immolation doesn’t sit well with the younger wife, who is just sixteen years old.

As the flames begin to claim its victims, the younger wife struggles to break free of this death sentence. The events play out in front of a small group of British men, one of whom is in training to become a Catholic priest. It is this man, Jack White, who does what is unthinkable in ancient Indian culture—he breaks rank with his group and seeks to save this poor soul from a painful end.

I won’t tell you whether or not he is successful. You’ll have to read the story for yourself. What I will say is, grab a copy of this story today. Pathan is a talented as any writer in the market today.

Blurb

In a village somewhere in the Thar desert, in mid-nineteenth century India, the revered Thakur Ram Singh has just died. He will be laid to rest according to traditional Hindu rites. But will he be the only one who will be cremated on the funeral pyre that day?

Meanwhile, a Church dignitary and a band of British soldiers from the nearby cantonment casually observe the proceedings as they unfold—until they are joined by a young, spirited seminarian. His name is Brother Jack and he has chosen to interfere. His spontaneous action will result in certain death, a revolt against the Crown, or a major change in the course of his life.

About Author

Fiza Pathan has a bachelor’s degree in arts from the University of Mumbai, where she majored in history and sociology with a first class. She also has a bachelor’s degree in education, again with a first class, her special subjects being English and history.

Fiza has written eleven award-winning books and a short story, “Flesh of Flesh,” which reflect her interest in furthering the cause of education and in championing social issues. In over seventy literary competitions, she has placed either as winner or finalist, chief among them being: 2018 DBW Awards; Killer Nashville 2018 Silver Falchion Award; 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards; 2018 BookViral Millennium Book Awards; Readers’ Favorite Book Awards; Reader Views Literary Awards; Eric Hoffer Book Award; Foreword Reviews Indie Fab Book Awards; Mom’s Choice Awards; Literary Classics Book Awards; and Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards. She lives with her maternal family, and writes novels and short stories in most genres. You may follow her on Twitter @FizaPathan and visit her blog HERE.

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful – A Review!

Review

Rating: ★★★★★

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful is the debut novel from young author Ellie Collins. A natural-born storyteller, Collins penned her Greek Mythology tale at the age of eleven.

The story follows middle school newbie D. J. as she and her father move to a new city and a whole new life. D. J. enjoys gardening, and it’s here, in an enchanted dream garden, that she meets Persephone, Goddess of Spring. It is through the guidance of this new friend that D. J. gains the confidence needed to navigate her new surroundings.

The author weaves together many fascinating scenes filled with a cast of memorable characters, stoking a plot that suggests this young lady was indeed born to write. Though it’s geared toward younger readers, teens and adults alike will also enjoy this book.

Blurb

D.J. and her dad moved far from the small town and only home she ever knew. Now she’s starting middle school in the city with kids she’s never met. She tries to make friends, but they all appear to be slaves to screen time. D.J. just likes to garden, nurturing plants, watching them grow and thrive. It seems she’ll never find a way to fit in, but then she awakens in a gorgeous garden where she meets Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She must be dreaming; her new friend can’t possibly be real—and what could she know about getting along with gamers? D.J. really needs some ideas, or she might never find her own place in a complicated world.

 

About Author

Ellie Collins wrote her debut novel, Daisy, Bold & Beautiful when she was turning eleven and just beginning sixth grade. She finished writing Mylee In The Mirror, the second in her multi-award-winning middle-grade Greek mythology fantasy series before heading back to school for seventh grade and turning twelve and Mad Max & Sweet Sarah before eighth grade and becoming a teen. She writes amid a very busy extracurricular schedule, including a spot on both a gymnastics team and a trampoline and tumbling team, as well as taking weekly piano lessons. She’s an avid gamer who loves hanging out with friends. Her love of Greek mythology inspires her writing.

My Review of Comes this Time to Float by @StephenGeez

Rating: ★★★★★

Author Stephen Geez possesses a talent for crafting tales that draw readers into the unique and vivid worlds he creates. This collection of 19 short stories offers a smorgasbord of genres, characters, lives, and situations with which everyday people can and will identify. From the very first story to the last, Geez has a way of keeping the reader enthralled and entertained.

“Halfway House” tells a sad tale of loss and the search for redemption. “Vapor Girl” is trippy and far out, and one that will surely remain with you. “Family Treed” sprinkles the weird and humorous on this wonderful word salad. “Tailwind” is a thoughtful piece about a pair of aging friends in the latter stages of life. “The Age Eater” carries a note of science fiction and a hint of creepy. But my favorite is a story entitled “Holler Song”. This story harkens to the Ozark Mountains of Daniel Woodrell’s modern classic Winter’s Bone, where poor people caught up in impossible circumstances will do whatever it takes just to survive the lives handed to them.

There isn’t a bad story in the entire collect. Stephen Geez has been a favorite of mine since I first read his novel What Sara Saw many years ago. If you’re a reader with a keen eye for the literary, this is one you’ll want on your bookshelf.

My Review of SCENES OF A RECLUSIVE WRITER & READER OF MUMBAI

Rating: ★★★★★

“I am a recluse and I love books more than I love people.” – It’s a line from the author herself. And she means it, too. In Scenes of a Reclusive Writer & Reader of Mumbai, author Fiza Pathan opens the door and allows readers just a glimpse inside of her life. These essays introduce us to her world, her family, her many loves. Her loves being books and characters, of course.

I won’t say Pathan has had a difficult life, though it couldn’t have been easy, either. Her father rejected her based solely on the fact that he didn’t want a daughter. But it is through this rejection that the author is shaped into the person she is today. See, while the father may have been absent, her mother, grandmother, and uncles were very much present. As were those who worked in the libraries of Mumbai. These are the rich cast of lives that aided Pathan during her childhood and beyond. One can fully appreciate her family simply by reading these essays. Her words come from her heart–which is what makes this collection so wonderful.

Pathan’s love for the written word, for storytelling, began with Archie and Jughead, and carries on through Dracula, Bollywood, and the classics. Social issues rank high on her list of priorities, often showing up within her writing, whether it’s essays, short stories, or novels.

As a writer, Fiza Pathan skillfully weaves her words into beautiful tapestries that tell tales in vivid colors and textures. Though her culture is different from my own, I am easily transported into her world, able to feel what she wants readers to feel. This is one trip I truly enjoyed taking.

A Solid Collection of Essays!

The Reclusive Writer & Reader of Bandra: Essays

Rating: ★★★★★

The Reclusive Writer & Reader of Bandra: Essays by Fiza Pathan is at once heartbreaking and uplifting. The author shows within this wonderful collection of personal essays that life can be whatever you make of it. Through rejection by her father for the sin of being born female, to her own discovery of new friends found in the pages of books, Pathan shares the course she plotted for herself in this world.

These essays offer snippets from the life of the author. The reader is invited to tag along for the coming of age of a young woman dealing with a reality so many of us couldn’t possibly comprehend in our own insulated little corners of the world.

Pathan is an overcomer. She found her refuge in the bookstores and libraries of Mumbai, India. It is between the covers of many books that she found who she really can be—her true identity. And it is here, in this collection, that she lures us readers in for a glimpse of her world.

This book is beautifully crafted by an accomplished storyteller. Fiza Pathan’s style puts the reader right there beside her, listening to an incredible woman telling her own stories as only a true author can.

Get your copy HERE

Grace VanderWaal: New Music, New Video, New Tour!

Rating: ★★★★★

Grace VanderWaal is a busy young lady these days. The 15-year-old songstress has recently released her fourth single this year, filmed three new videos, spent part of June opening shows for Florence and the Machine, and has just kicked off her own headlining tour across the United States.

“Waste My Time” is VanderWaal’s latest single. The track is quite a departure from the indie-pop sound cultivated on her debut album, Just the Beginning. The vibe here is more in line with the synth-pop sound that is common with dozens of other singers today. That could be dangerous for a performer looking to stand out from the crowd. But it’s the voice that sets “Waste My Time” apart from everything else on the radio today. VanderWaal, simply put, is a gifted vocalist. Her tone is rich and melodic, easily identifiable within the first word or two, and carries an honesty that cannot be faked. And her lower ranges are just incredible!

If I’m being truthful, this one took a couple of listens to grow on me—though it is now on repeat on my iPod. The change in sound is something I (and other FanderWaals I’ve heard from) didn’t expect. And that’s a good thing. Grace VanderWaal will never be accused of growing predictable or complacent with her music. My two favorite bands (Led Zeppelin and Metallica) never recorded two albums that sounded alike. This is what sparks longevity with music fans. It’s what creates classic songs that generations will continue to appreciate.

The accompanying video for “Waste My Time” is quirky and funny and sweet—much like the singer herself. She wanders through an empty convenience store after stepping out of a late-night rain. The only other person in the store is a lifeless clerk named Miguel. Grace is often the brains behind, not just her music, but also the videos. I’m guessing that’s the case with this one as well.

VanderWaal is not yet a superstar—at least not on the Katy Perry/Taylor Swift/Ariana Grande level. Again, I believe that’s a good thing. She seems to be well-grounded and able to handle the success that has come her way thus far. Time is on her side. Grace VanderWaal hasn’t even hit her stride. Her best music has yet to be created. If you have the opportunity to catch her on the “Ur So Beautiful” tour, I highly recommend you do so.

 

Grace VanderWaal’s Ur So Beautiful Tour Dates

 

August 10 – Lexington, KY @ Railbird Festival
August 11 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
August 13 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom
August 14 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
August 16 – Dallas, TX @ The Granada Theater
August 17 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s
August 18 – Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
August 21 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren
August 25 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory – Orange County
August 27 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
August 29 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
September 1 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
September 3 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
September 6 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
September 7 – Chicago, IL @ Park West
September 9 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall
September 11 – Toronto, ONT @ The Opera House
September 13 – Boston, MA @ Royale Boston
September 14 – New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall
September 16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theater of the Living Arts
September 17 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
September 20 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
November 22-24 – San Diego, CA @ Wonderfront Music and Arts Festival