Our Review for The Beauty Thief: by Rachael Ritchey ~ #ScienceFiction & Fantasy @RachaelRitchey

 

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Magic is long dead in Twelve Realms, a peaceful kingdom where the dark arts were once as normal as the seasons. At least this is what most believed until the life of a princess becomes the obsession of a man who defies time by stealing the one thing that sustains his life: true beauty.

Princess Caityn is more than a pretty face. Her beauty runs soul deep, and because of this, her life is priceless to the thief. On the eve of her wedding to the high prince, Caityn is attacked by his powerful dark magic, leaving her a wretched hag with a soul so empty even she barely recognizes herself.

But it’s not too late. Her betrothed and a group of loyal knights might be able to save her from a living death, but it will take more than a kiss to rescue this princess. Love means sacrifice.

What will those who profess to love Caityn be willing to sacrifice to save her life? Time is not on their side. Doubt is a strong enemy, and the thief knows exactly how to use it to his advantage.

 

Our Review

It was the amazing cover, created by Rachael herself, that compelled me to read The Beauty Thief, a modern, yet classical fairy-tale with a nasty twist.

This is the authors first novel and intelligently written. It soon grabbed me by the back of my neck as the tension develops.

Although it has a typical beginning for a fairy tale, a handsome prince and princess, the story builds into a fascinating yet disturbingly dark world.

Such is the quality of the writing and the spell cast by the characters, I knew I was in for one hell of a ride. All of the characters come alive with complex emotions, wit, and charm, especially Caityn, the main character. She handles her sad fate with such dignity.

This story ends with a great cliff-hanger, reminding us that there will be more to come.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Beauty Thief and look forward to the next book in the series.

About the Author

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Rachael Ritchey is a writer and book designer for indie authors. She mainly writes YA fantasy fiction, but you can find her dabbling in sci-fi and contemporary genres too. She has a passion for beautiful books, so book cover and interior designing are high on her list of enjoyable hobbies. When she’s not writing, working on design, spending time with her four kids and husband, home-schooling her youngest, reading a book, or watching movies, Rachael can be found enjoying one of the many beautiful lakes of the Inland Northwest or hiking in the woods of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

 

Biography

Rachael Ritchey was born and raised in Northern Idaho with a short, seven-year stint in scenic SE Alaska. Inspiration from the picturesque places she grew up has played a huge part in her imagining of the fantasy world she created.

The Beauty Thief is the first book in her YA series called Chronicles of the Twelve Realms. While she considers the book’s fantasy because of some of the elements of the stories, they read more like historical fiction. Book two is on its way to completion. She also has a middle-grade book started that she hopes to find time to finish, too!

Rachael is an everyday wife and mother who writes books she would want to read; she writes stories she’s proud to share with her kids and you. While her goal is to entertain, she also wants to use her writing to inspire courage and compassion.

Being an author, sharing her stories, is about more than selling books. If you want to contact Rachael, you can find her at
http://www.rachaelritchey.com
on Twitter: @RachaelRitchey
on Facebook: WritingRaci
or Goodreads: Rachael Ritchey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Angel on Her Shoulder by Dan Alatorre @savvystories # Fantasy/sciencefiction

 

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A series of unexplainable tragedies surround a family and their young daughter as they seek to determine whether they are possessed, paranoid or collectively going insane. Meanwhile, forgotten clues from the father’s past may indicate forces are at work in ways more ominous than any of them could have imagined.

 

 

 

Our Review:

I chose to read and review this supernatural thriller with a twist by Dan Alatorre because I am a great fan of his work. The last book of his that I read, ‘Poggibonsi’ nearly had me splitting my sides, I laughed so much. There is always such a strong human element to his writing, which adds to the magic.

From the brilliant opening chapter, I knew this book would be good. The unusual chapter arrangement threw me at first, but I soon realised how well it gradually ramped up the tension.

Parts of the story were traumatic, enforcing the deep and dark theme of this book, despite being about a happy family unit. The main characters, Doug, Mallory and their daughter Sophie are portrayed so well, you feel you have known them all for years, and makes what happens to them all the more terrifying and exciting to read.

The supernatural element was handled well, really down to earth stuff that will raise the hair on the back of your neck time and again.

Near the end of the book was another shocking chapter, and then the unbelievably terrifying footage of being caught in a storm. So well depicted, I felt soaked to the skin and scared to death as the lightning rent the air.

Not many books have me cheering at the end, but this one did, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good thriller!

 

About the Author:

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages.
From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry – or hang onto the edge of your seat – has been enjoyed by audiences around the world.
And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time.
“That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.”
Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe.
His unique writing style can make you chuckle or shed tears—sometimes on the same page (or steam up the room if it’s one of his romances). Regardless of genre, his novels always contain unexpected twists and turns, and his endearing nonfiction stories will stay in your heart forever.
25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew, co-authored by Dan, has been a valuable tool for upcoming writers (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping new authors is evident in his wildly popular blog “Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR.”
Dan’s success is widespread and varied. In addition to being a bestselling author, he has achieved President’s Circle with two different Fortune 500 companies. You can find him blogging away almost every day on http://www.DanAlatorre.com or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week, Writers Off Task With Friends.

Dan resides in the Tampa, Florida area with his wife and daughter.

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#Throwback Thursday Secrets… #FamilyDrama

 

SOME SECRETS WILL KILL YOU…
and some are about someone who is already dead.
A mother must find the truth before the secrets destroy her family…

 

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Excerpt from ‘Secrets’

She took a long hard look at herself in the mirror. Do any of us really know who we are, she asked herself. Are we the product of many lifetimes, like coloured plasticine all rolled together? All mixed up and confused, struggling with thoughts and feelings that might not belong to the here and now?

Maggie felt extremely sad but didn’t know why, there were tears in her eyes for no specific reason she could think of. It was a personal sadness, nothing to do with what Jack had done. Her life was pretty good, yet the feeling was there. She wondered if it could be an old sadness from another time that affected her, her mind not really thinking or remembering what it was.

When she thought about it, there had been many such days when she’d play a romantic record and the words would mean more than they should, perpetuating the sadness, the feeling of something lost. Did she have a secret, something bad that she had done, just waiting to be discovered?

She lay on the bed waiting for Jack and wondered if the strange world she’d been thrown into was more real than her mind would let her believe. It was hard to keep on denying it, what with Jack’s behaviour and poor Danny, tormented by this invisible world that seemed to have the power to inflict real pain and suffering. It was useless to even think about running from something you couldn’t see. She was remembering a passage from the Bible, when she heard Jack say good night to Danny. That the Good Lord sends no more than a body can bear…

She wondered if that was true, that the worst was over…

 

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#Wednesday Writer #MysteryThriller

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Promo Post for Out of Time

I found myself nearly at the end of my tether a few years ago. Depression had taken a few days off, but it was back with a vengeance.
My back seemed to have finally forgiven me and my knee still had an axe to grind, but that should not account for my frequent impersonation of a blubbering wreck. I had the unshakeable feeling that just one more disaster would break someone’s back, probably mine.

Then, just as I was doing my best to pull myself together, the worst flu in history struck and the depression found a few more notches to climb…

Didn’t think the week could get any worse and wasn’t expecting it to get any better, but the following day it did. I was woken up at four o’clock in the morning by the characters from my recently finished (soon to be launched) book banging on and on in my head about needing another chance to sort their lives out. To be fair, they were coming up with some good ideas as to how this could be managed. Significantly, the only one who wasn’t nagging me, was the annoying voice that only Kate (from Nine Lives) can hear. And before you could blink, I was building the storyline and plotting my head off.
Apparently, they wanted a new playmate and were being very insistent. I couldn’t argue with them, as they have more than proved their worth. And they should get the credit, for most of the time all I did was follow their orders!
I had never realised how much fun writing a book could be, and was more than delighted that the next one seems to be waiting in the wings.

I still don’t understand why is it that some mornings you wake up feeling as though you spent the night with Doom and Gloom, and others have you springing out of bed full of optimism?
All I can say is that I am grateful for it, as life is proving to be so very short without it…

 

Book Blurb

Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.

Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.

With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.
Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.

Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?

Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…

Excerpt from  Out of Time…

Detective Inspector David Snow looked down at the unconscious woman on the hospital bed in front of him, remembering the state of her when she had arrived, a few hours ago. They had done a good job of cleaning her up. She lay still, like a religious statue in a church, her pale skin the colour of finest marble. The gentle rise and fall of her breasts the only indication life still clung to her body.
So different to the wrinkled, dirt-ingrained body he had looked at earlier, of an old tramp found dead in the hospital car park, bundled into a moth-eaten army coat and wedged under a car. What was originally thought to be a simple case of neglect, had taken on a more sinister tone when they discovered the tramps head had been cut off and shoved down the back of the old boy’s trousers.
Snow wondered what an old tramp could possibly have done to warrant such treatment, being well known around the hospital and described as a harmless old soul. The tenuous link to the woman in front of him indicated she might not be safe and would need his protection.
They knew very little about her, and he wondered again what kind of woman she was. Now the dirt had been removed, she looked healthy and well cared for, which ruled out homelessness. A reasonably attractive, middle-aged woman, bordering on the ordinary, apart from her curly hair which would appear to have a life of its own, as even now it crept across the pillow like the roots of a willow.

Alone with the unconscious woman, Snow had an excellent opportunity to study her without feeling self-conscious about doing it. In all the years since his wife’s death, he missed looking intimately at a woman. He usually tried to do it surreptitiously to avoid the risk of being branded a pervert, or worse. He liked to imagine what kind of person they were, if they were kind or cruel, bossy or timid, but for once, there were no clues on this woman’s face. A slight determination in the set of her jaw gave him pause for thought.
According to Michael Barratt, the man who brought her here, her name was Kate Devereau, an artist, none of which gave him any clues as to her character. In the beginning, Snow had instinctively thought she might be the murderer in this case, due to the amount of blood found in the cottage. Michael Barratt had found her unconscious in this cottage on the outskirts of Guildford. He said he knew her, but had no idea why she had found it necessary to be there. As an estate agent, he had been arranging to have the cottage ready for Miss Devereau to rent.
It was all a little mysterious, compounded by the fact Michael Barratt looked as if he had been barbecued. His clothes were burned black in places, apart from his jacket, which was clean and several sizes too small and obviously didn’t belong to him. The back of his head and hands were raw and blistered, suggesting there were probably more extensive burns to his body.
The estate agent had offered no explanation for his own condition, but stubbornly kept asking after Kate, which might possibly indicate an emotional involvement. He had no answer for what had happened to her, except to say her health had not been good for a while. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, it would have seemed innocent enough.
So why didn’t Snow believe him?

Given the state of him, Michael Barratt was in no position to convince David Snow of anything. Naturally suspicious of everyone involved in any of his cases, Snow couldn’t help but suspect Michael Barratt. The man was obviously hiding something, for despite his obvious devotion to the unconscious woman, something didn’t feel right. He must know more than he said.
There had to be more to this case than these two people. The macabre and similar death of Miss Devereau’s brother Danny had opened this case several weeks ago, a clear indication someone they all knew had an axe to grind. Someone cruel and malicious, hell bent on exacting some kind of revenge?

Snow walked over to the window, more for a change of scenery than to escape from the body of Kate Devereau. It was getting dark outside, and the lights in the car park were coming on, one by one. With visiting time approaching, more cars were arriving and he prayed nothing else would happen. He was tired, but not looking forward to his retirement next year. His life seemed empty now, what would it be like then? He didn’t want to retire, he liked his job. It gave him a reason to get up every morning.
He found the idea that this woman may never regain consciousness unsettling, as he wanted this case solved and put away as soon as possible. The doctors could find no medical reason for the coma, or so they said. They had found sedatives in her system, but they should have worn off by now. Her heart was fine and no sign of a stroke. Either she didn’t want to wake up, or she was faking.
Maybe if he pinched or touched her, took her by surprise, would she open her eyes? For whatever reason, and he couldn’t think of one, he couldn’t do it. He could hardly blame her for faking. Why weren’t there more people in her life?
He remembered one of his earlier cases, involving one Gillian Anderton. How she had completely fooled them into believing her story. If it hadn’t been for his sergeant, Jim Harris, she would still be free. Snow tended to suspect women a lot more these days, just in case.

An agent, Samantha Cameron, managed all of Miss Devereau’s art, but was probably only a business contact. Judging by the barbecued boyfriend, someone thought well of her, but how did she feel about him? So many questions which would never be answered if she didn’t wake up.
He looked back to the bed, hoping to see her open her eyes, but nothing had changed, she hadn’t moved at all.

What kind of woman are you, Kate Devereau?

#Jaye’s Journal Week Three

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Jaye’s Journal. Week 3

 

Despite still feeling like the remains of a dog’s dinner, I am determined to sort out the mess that is masquerading as my WIP, PayBack.

I knew it was a mess, but not how bad it really was. The experts say you shouldn’t worry about the state of your first draft, that it is more important to just get it all down on the page. You get to make it shine during the editing process.

I kept trying to tell myself this, but obviously wasn’t very convincing, so over the weekend, I tackled the first Act, all twenty sprawling chapters. After much rearranging and second thoughts, I reduced it to twelve chapters and felt quite smug pleased with my efforts.

This week has not been like that. All I can think is that some other idiot must have written the second Act. Although I was an editor long before I became a writer, this did not prepare me for the shambles I found. Continuity was simply not present. It looked for all the world like I had completely forgotten the basics. Instead of throwing it away in disgust, I kept reading, as a good editor should. There can be a brilliant story hiding under the waffle and confusion.Well, that’s what I hoped!

Gradually, I began to see what needed to be done to create a better story. The thread was there all along. PayBack would need substantial editing, but the framework was taking shape and I felt so much more confident about it.

I’m not sure how it all went so wrong, but my other books didn’t give me so much trouble.

 

Something else has been happening too. Even though I have been spending a lot of time sorting out PayBack, I seem to have more time available for other things too. I know this doesn’t make sense, but I have noticed before that time can stretch if you lose yourself in a project.

For all we know, time is not constant. This would explain why some days seem so much longer than others. All I can say, is I am grateful for the help, wherever it came from…

 

 

I am trying to discover just how good D2D is. They talk the talk and it sounds wonderful. So easy to have all your books on there and all that, but can they walk the walk?

Some of our prospective buyers have reported problems when they try to buy our books, so I am wearing my detective bonnet!

Has anyone else experienced problems with these people?

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Detective Inspector Snow…

Nine Lives, Out of Time, CrossFire

Mystery thriller book series

Continuing our series of posts featuring some of the memorable characters from our books, today we welcome Detective Inspector David Snow, the man responsible for saving Kate Devereau in Out of Time. Not that the book had a particularly successful conclusion for him, but hopefully he will be in a talkative mood today.

As he walks into my office, I am struck again, by how much he reminds me of Tom Selleck. The same smile and boyish demeanour, but starting to show the signs of wear around the edges.

“Take a pew and thank you so much for agreeing to talk to us today, David. The first thing I have to ask, is how is Kate these days? We haven’t heard anything since we saw you last.”

He lowers his long frame into one of my office chairs, sadly inadequate for someone his size. It looks like dolls furniture, and reminds me to see about getting something a tad more comfortable for any future interviews.

“Glad to be here, actually Anita. I needed a break and taking time out from my latest case is more than welcome. Last time I saw Kate, she was much the same as before. They say there is still hope of a full recovery, but I’m not so sure…”

“You mentioned a new case, anything we will get to hear about?”

“At this stage, anything is possible. It all depends on whether I successfully solve the problems or not, I suppose.”

“I heard the sad news about your sergeant Jim Harris. Does this have anything to do with the case?”

David hesitates, and I wonder if I have just pushed my luck. He is a detective after all, and not known for his small talk as a rule.

“Unfortunately, I am unable to comment directly at this stage. So much is still speculation. My writer is pushing me to make sure I leave no stone unturned, and I owe it to her to try my best.”

Changing the subject, I ask him about the serial killer in his last case. Should be on safe ground as the case is probably closed.

“Have you finally closed the case on Jack Holland yet?”

Was it my imagination, or did a cloud just pass over his face?

“The forensic evidence was pretty conclusive, so I am reasonably satisfied we will not be seeing him again.”

“I heard a rumour that you might be contemplating retirement in the near future, is this true?”

He looked at me without speaking for what seemed like ages. I knew he did this sometimes when he didn’t want to talk. Then a slow smile lifted the corners of his mouth and creased the skin around his eyes. He was gorgeous when he did that, and I can quite understand the effect he has on women.

“I was thinking about it. Getting a bit long in the tooth now and the idea of moving away from it all was very appealing. But I am needed now, so what I want will have to wait.”

My next question was worrying me. Just how would this important man, Detective Inspector Snow react to my probing into his business? I decided to take the chance anyway.

“I understand there is a new female presence in your office these days. What is she like?”

He looked at me, a stunned expression on his face as if surprised I knew about her.

“How on earth do you know about Detective Winton? I only met her two days ago…and before you ask, it is too soon for me to have any opinions.”

“Is she pretty?”

For the first time in the interview, he didn’t look at me. He seemed embarrassed, which was strange, unless he had made up his mind. “Come on David, you can at least tell me if she is pretty…”

“Okay, if it will shut you up, I will admit to feeling uncomfortable in her presence. She makes me feel awkward, as if she knows something I don’t… and on that note, I really should be getting back to work… I have enjoyed meeting you, Anita.”

“Perhaps we can talk again, after this case is solved maybe?”

He slowly pulled himself out of the uncomfortably small chair and I was surprised yet again by how tall he was. As he shook my hand, I caught another glimpse of the rare smile, the way he must have looked as a young man. I wondered where his story would end, and if Kate Devereau would be there when it did.

 

 

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#Throwback Thursday: Chasing Daylight byEugene O’Kelley

 

Approaching death, doing it in style

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Chasing Daylight is the honest, touching, and ultimately inspirational memoir of former KPMG CEO Eugene O’Kelley, completed in the three-and-a-half months between his diagnosis with brain cancer and his death in September 2005. Its haunting yet extraordinarily hopeful voice reminds us to embrace the fragile, fleeting moments of our lives-the brief time we have with our family, our friends, and even ourselves. This paperback edition features a new foreword by his wife, Corinne O’Kelley and a readers’ group guide and questions.

“Voicing universal truths . . . shared . . . simply and clearly.”-Janet Malin, New York Times

“Words to live by.”-Kerry Hannon, USA Today

“One of the most unexpected and touching books you’re likely to read this year.”-Edward Nawotka, Bloomberg News

“An honest, thought-provoking memoir . . . O’Kelly has many lessons to teach us on how to live.”-Steve Powers, Houston Chronicle

“[A] well-written and movingbook.”-TheEconomist.com

Our Review for Chasing daylight

I have been reading a beautifully written and thought provoking book this week, called, ‘Chasing Daylight’ by Eugene O’kelly. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did, for all sorts of reasons.

For a start, it is all about how he handled the fact that he had only months to live following the discovery of several brain tumours.  I thought it might be hard going, considering I almost died from a heart attack myself two years ago, and still feel I am on borrowed time sometimes.

I started to read, pleased to discover that he handled the news well, that he was determined to die with dignity… all very profound and somewhat comforting to me. He goes on to describe how  he said a pleasant ‘goodbye’ to all his hundreds of friends, and I found myself looking back at my own life. At what I had achieved, and what I hadn’t, and how many people’s lives I had touched.

Three quarters of the way through the book I began to feel sad – not for him, but for me.
You see, I know now for sure that my life has not been that exciting or profound. Too much heartbreak and disasters for a start.
I have been a loner for most of my life, which will probably be a good thing, as there won’t be masses of people saddened by my passing.

That’s if I decide to go (I am still undecided about that!)

Dylan Thomas once said that he would ‘rage against the dying of the light’ and I agree with him, as I still feel there is something I haven’t done or achieved yet, but there is still time!
Time to think about all the things I still want to do, or see, or achieve. ‘Never too late’ is fast becoming a mantra and I wonder what will happen next?

There is a lot to be said for dying suddenly. No time to worry about it or try to plan it, neither of which is very desirable. Mr O’kelly learned to meditate and unwind using water, something I have been doing all my life. Rivers, waterfalls, the sea, all have a deep profound effect on me. The only thing that does, actually.

So, ‘Chasing Daylight’ was sad but uplifting in a way. The fact that his illness was painless was a blessing and to be desired by all of us, and possibly what stops this book becoming a harrowing reading experience…

Our Review for Don’t Touch by Barb Taub #ScienceFiction/Fantasy @barbtaub

 

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Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it.
Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.
Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

 

Our Review

Lette wakes up on her thirteenth birthday and inherits a terrible problem.

A problem she neither wants nor needs.

Despite the seriousness of her plight, I was impressed by her sense of humour and the way she gets to grip with her often distressing problem.

Don’t Touch is, without doubt, a fascinating, delightful read. Extremely well written, I read it in one sitting. I followed Lette eagerly as she sought a solution, surprised by her ingenuity. Such an unusual story had me laughing at times, sad at others and I loved the romantic entanglements too.

I must confess, I loved George, the cat! Such a character, he tried his best to put a normal slant on Lette’s far from normal life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Don’t Touch and can heartily recommend it.

 

Excerpt

“I was having a terrific dream that Rag was carrying me into my bedroom. The bed dipped as he lay down next to me, and I could smell cinnamon and lemon. More, I wanted more, so I scooted closer and stuck my nose into his neck. I felt his hands move down my back and realized… Not a dream.

My eyes flew open, and my head shot up.“Ow!”

He was holding his hands over his bleeding nose and yelling and laughing at the same time.

“Raguel?” I asked cautiously. When he nodded, I ran for a wet washcloth. The bleeding had stopped by the time I got back, but he eyed me warily.

“Are you still mad at me, Lette?”

“I was asleep, you stupid ex-angel.”

 “Um… Is this one of those boundary things?”

I gently wiped the blood from his face. “That depends.”

He took the cloth and wiped his hands. “On what?”

 I sat down on the bed and said in the most serious voice I’d ever used with him, “On why you left. And why you came back.”

He sat next to me and took both of my gloved hands. “I left because I saw what you were willing to go through to save Stefan. And then I heard you tell him you loved him. There were so many times I wanted to call you and argue like we used to but I kept remembering you telling Stefan you loved him.”

I started to protest but he put a finger over my mouth and continued. “Oh, and there might have been some cellphone smashing. I couldn’t stand the thought of riding on the Metro, so when a friend in France needed my help for several weeks I went without a phone or laptop. I only came back because Stefan sent a message through Poppy. He said that you were just friends. And that I was a shit for making you cry.”

“I don’t cry.”

He wiped the tears from my cheeks. “I know. And I am a shit. But that’s not the amazing part.” He kissed me, and in about a nanosecond I completely forgot what we were talking about. I might have also forgotten my name. I’m pretty sure I moaned a complaint when he pulled back to continue talking. It wasn’t fair. How come he could still talk?”

 

Biography

In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them consulting with her occasional co-author/daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

 

Best Review

Georgia Rose

5.0 out of 5 stars

Perceptive and witty, I can’t begin to tell you how entertaining this book is…

Until now I had viewed the Null City books from a bit of a distance thinking that I don’t really do fantasy, let along urban fantasy – whatever that may mean – and I’m certainly not YA so these can’t be for me. Right? Wrong…how wrong could I be? I was hooked from the moment I read this:-

‘Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it.’

Lette (short for Roulette, fabulous name!) is our heroine here and she has a pretty tough time from the moment she hits 13 and inherits the family ‘gift’ where whatever she touches each day changes form. Some days this is great, diamond rings and opals appear alongside cup cakes for example, on other days life becomes precarious when her touch causes things to levitate or explode. Lette learns to cope. She wears vinyl gloves all the time to protect others and isolates herself to live alone. Stefan arrives in her life one day encouraging her to come with him to Null City where they can live a normal life. Stefan, you see, has his own family legacy he is trying to escape from and for a brief time Lette is able to experience the blossoming of a romance. The ‘cure’ of Null City doesn’t go to plan for Lette and she has to move on making another contact with Rag, an ex-angel with boundary issues, along the way.

I can’t begin to tell you how entertaining this book is. I’ve loved Taub’s writing on her blog for a while now, it’s perceptive and witty and this book is no different. A strong, beautiful heroine (who doesn’t see herself as that) with a superpower that is both humorous and heart-breaking, an original story, handsome hero’s with their own tragic pasts, a hopeful but ultimately doomed romance and plenty of action…oh and there’s an evil cat, George, …what more could you want in a book!

 

 

Dreaming of Another Life…

 

Dreaming sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?

All too often, it can be anything but. Not exactly nightmarish, but many weird confusing images that can make you feel uncomfortable.

You find yourself worrying about them, what do they mean? Is there a message there somewhere? Why do we dream?

Doctors and psychologists have come up with some interesting theories over the years, but do they really know?

Common sense would seem to suggest that it is just the brain sorting through the days images when we are asleep, and most of the time it does sound likely. But what about all those dreams that seem to mean something? Or those that seem to warn us of danger?

Then there are those that appear to predict the future, which then come true. What are we supposed to think about those?

Personally, I don’t dream much, not that I can remember anyway. The odd romantic fantasy about whomever I fancy at the time, but these are getting rarer. (unfortunately!)

Sarah Curtis, the lead character in Not My Life, is being driven slowly insane by upsetting and confusing dreams, where she seems to be someone else entirely. Someone very real and in a lot of trouble.

This excerpt picks up the story when Sarah has wandered into the woods and gets lost…

I didn’t know where to go, so I let fate lead me off towards the woods. I walked for a while, trying not to think of anything. I told myself I should be feeling the beauty of the place.
The trees in their splendid autumn colours, leaves falling here and there making little drifts under the trees. I had heard somewhere that to catch a falling leaf was supposed to bring good luck. I tried and it was impossible. They seemed to fall gently towards you, and then at the last minute, darted away on a capricious breeze.

Trying to catch one frustrated the hell out of me. I gave up and sat for a while on a dry log, eating some chocolate I found in my pocket. Then I realised I had no idea of where I was and it was getting dark. I should have brought a loaf of bread with me to leave a trail, like Hansel and Gretel.
I didn’t feel too afraid; they would find me sooner or later. And later might be better. I walked on between ever-thicker undergrowth, hoping it was the way out. That a path, any path, would appear soon.

I found myself in a clearing with a pool, large rocks and slow running water. My throat was dry enough for me to scoop up a handful and it was surprisingly good. Deciding I was definitely lost and too tired to walk any further, I gathered up as many fallen leaves as I could to lie down in, and buried myself for the night.

The temperature dropped considerably and my bed of leaves gave little warmth. I slept fitfully, dreaming of who I really was. A girl called Kelly. And Tommy, my four year old brother, who once again had been sent to the coal cellar as punishment for wetting his bed. It wasn’t his fault. Father had made him drink far too much water; he must have known he would wet the bed. And mother, she did nothing to stop his cruel games.
There had been times in the past when she did, only to be cruelly beaten herself, without saving Tommy or myself from whatever punishment he saw fit. I knew the house I was in, these people, my parents as well as my own skin. Yet there was another place with gentle people I could sense, but somehow couldn’t reach.

Soft cold rain washed the dream away and I awoke, alone on a bed of wet leaves. Lost, waiting to be found. Too tired to move. Too dark to try to find my way out. Morning couldn’t be too far away; I would try again then…

We would love some feedback for this book, and free review copies are available…

#Throwback Thursday: Something in the Air by Ben Starling…

 

 

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What if it’s true that you can never really go home? Returning from a soul-crushing war, Daniel Dragan is determined to put the past behind him.

But with his beloved uncle dead and the town’s economy in a slump, there may not be much to keep him in San Prospero, California.

That is, till he is startled by veterinarian Willow Dixon at the embankment overlooking their hometown and its new factory. A desperately needed job offer there may offer Daniel the chance he needs – but all is not as it seems at the factory and Willow, determined to save the inhabitants of her animal sanctuary, wants the factory’s operations stopped. Sometimes the road home is not what we expect. And not the one we left behind…

This novella was gifted to me by the author, Ben Starling, when I showed an interest. I loved the cover and was in the mood for a romantic mystery.
The main characters Daniel and Willow were charming and very real, and the way the author handled the romantic scenes was really impressive! There were strong messages about how man’s greed can threaten our planet, something I know is close to the authors heart.
I must confess to being a little confused by the mysterious hair dryer, and must have missed something there.
I am not a huge fan of short stories, as they are never quite long enough for me somehow. This story could have been so much longer, as I for one, wanted to know if disaster would be avoided and that Willow really would be okay. I get the feeling this story or its theme may continue somewhere else along the way, and I shall be looking forward to it!

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Biography
Ben Starling is passionate about environmental conservation and sport, both central themes in his work. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades.

He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively until about five years ago. He is 6’3″and 185 lbs.

Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an M Phil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.

http://ben-starling.com
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/b0167GZ4YC