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Review: ‘Bittersweet’ by Matthew Drzymala

Genre: Humour / Satire
Length: 59 pages (approx.)

This is the first instalment in the Bumpkinton Tales series.

I have awarded this short story 5 stars.

Summary: When Venetia was a little girl, her grandpa would regale her with magical tales of the shop he used to own in the mysterious village of Bumpkinton. But when he died, the tales died with him. Thirty years later, Venetia and her husband chance upon an old photograph in the attic. It ignites a spark within Venetia, and she resolves to buy the shop.

Review: This story was absolutely delightful. From the very beginning I felt drawn into the story by the authors warm and inviting writing style. The events were funny and the village and its inhabitants were quirky. I just enjoyed every second of reading this. I loved the fact that the author kept what Venetia and her husband were going to do with the shop a secret and I couldn’t wait to find out the answer! Absolutely charming and I will definitely be reading the others very soon!

★★★★★ – an absolutely delightful short story that’s funny and quirky. I loved every second of reading this! Very highly recommended! 

Where to buy:
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Amazon US (Kindle)

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books that feature strong female characters

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, a topic is given and participating bloggers then create their list surrounding that topic. This weeks topic allowed bloggers to choose their own topic. The title was: ‘Top Ten Books Which Feature _____’.

Therefore, I chose:

 

Top Ten Books Which Feature Strong Female Characters

Evil in Disguise by M.A Comley

Jenny Slater is caught in an abusive marriage. Her friends, family and even her children don’t know as she was too ashamed to tell them. How will they react when they know the truth?

Pieces of Me by Carrigan Richards

In this book, seventeen year old Corinne is sent to live in a psychiatric institution after an experience that changes her life. The story of her struggle to move past the crippling depression and remember what it’s like to be herself again is beautiful.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by Linda S. Prather

Assistant DA Jenna James gets tangled up in a fight for justice, becoming a victim herself in the process.

Fuel to the Fire by David Staniforth

A young girl dresses, talks and acts like a boy in order to survive and avoid being sold into sexual slavery.

Wanted by Tim Arnot

Sixteen year old Flick Carter is wanted for murder and can’t trust anyone. She has two choices: Run or Die.

Saying Goodbye to Warsaw by Michael Cargill

Nine year old Abigail must fight to survive the horrors of the ghetto.

Pie Girls by Lauren Clark

Spoilt rich girl, Searcy Roberts, loses everything when her husband leaves her for another man. Forced to return to her family home, she learns that her mother is ill and their pie shop is in danger of closing. Searcy must put her own hurt feelings behind her and fight to save the shop

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So, what do you think? What’s on your list?

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Review: ‘Spearwood Academy: Volume 1’ by A. S Oren

Genre: Fantasy / Young Adult (YA) 
Length: 140 pages (approx.)

I have awarded this volume 2 stars.

Summary: Avalon Clementine, the first female of her kind, is painfully cursed to turn into her dragon form every night.
When her adoptive father, Edgar, is contacted by a school in Tibet claiming to have others of her kind enrolled there, though not female, Avalon jumps at the chance to find the answers that she has been seeking.

Review: This is the first piece of work that I have read by this author. I got this while it was free after seeing numerous bloggers rave about it and all of the amazing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel the same way about it.  

The concept was brilliant; I haven’t come across many books where the characters turn into dragons. I couldn’t wait to get started! I also thought that the detail that Oren went into about Avalon’s change was brilliant. I just wish that the same detail was applied to the rest of the book.

For a collection of ‘episodes’, it is quite short and therefore missing depth, and there were a few typing and formatting errors (which I’d usually be fine with, but this collection is so short that it bothered me). Also, there wasn’t nearly enough background information or detail to make the world that Oren had created feel believable, and the characters often blended together. There are constant references to other works, such as Harry Potter and Doctor Who, which made me feel that the author was using these references instead of having to give details.

I found the writing to be a little simplistic at times and didn’t feel that it suited the characters or the world that Oren had created; in a world where everyone is incredibly gifted, the simplistic way that they spoke or acted really didn’t work for me.  As well as this, all of the male characters seemed to accept Avalon instantly; while I would expect a fair bit of interest, as she’s the only female with the same abilities as them and the only female in the school, I would also expect a degree of caution or for them to want to test her or shun her once the interest had died down. I was also left very confused about the encounter with the ‘Royal’ as there was no explanation at all.

For a lot of the volume, not much happens and i often found myself drifting. Also, the phone calls between Avalon and Edgar, her adoptive father, felt very much like an afterthought and very abrupt. By the end of the volume, the reader is still left knowing no more really than when the story started. While I understand that cliffhangers make the reader purchase the next instalment, there was no attempt at giving answers, which made me feel disappointed rather than excited to read the next instalment.

★★ – an interesting concept, but simplistic writing and no answers given. I don’t think that I will be progressing with this series, unfortunately.

Where to buy:
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Amazon US (Kindle)

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Author Interview: Linda S. Prather!

Hi, Linda! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. 

Before we begin, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
Wow, I could take up all day just on that question. I’ll be sixty this year—OMG, did I really say that? I live in Lexington, Kentucky with my fiancé, my Shitz Tsu, and we are raising his seven year old grandson, Chaz, who has more energy than the energizer bunny. My regular profession (ha, ha, the one that really supports me) is as a court reporter. I’ve worked with and in the judicial system now for about 18 years. I love metaphysics, and taught meditation, dream analysis and self-hypnosis for several years at EKU University in Richmond, Kentucky. I became a paranormal investigator in the early 2000s and love things that go bump in the night. If I’m not reading, writing or dealing with family, I love to visit old cemeteries or really old houses and spend the night with the hair raised on the back of my neck.

Wow! I don’t even know how to respond to that! You certainly lead an interesting life!!
So, what inspired you to start writing?

My imagination. I’ve actually been writing since about the age of 8. I won my first award for an article written in third grade that impressed the teacher so much she sent it off to a magazine and they published it. I truly wish I could find the information on that now and I’d love to have it. When my sons were young instead of reading bedtime stories the three of us would make up our bedtime story and continue it each night.

Brilliant! I wish I could create my own stories!
Who has been your biggest supporter(s)?

My sons, Charles and Steven. My fiancé, Coby W. Fuson, my grandchildren, Chaz Fuson, Caitlynn Prather and Maya Prather, and many, many authors online. I would say that New York Times bestselling author, Mel Comley, and Mum, have kick started me and kept me going when I was down or simply procrastinating on my next project.

It’s so lovely to hear that you have such great support!
What is the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome as an author?

There were actually two. The first was becoming a public speaker as I would throw up before every book signing or program I did. The second, and one I’m still struggling with now that I’ve overcome my fear of being in the public, is online promotion. Selling to people I don’t know, have never met, and have no clue what they would like or wouldn’t like. I will say, though, that I’ve made some wonderful friends online. I’m not a pushy person so I could never be a car salesman, but if I believe in something it isn’t too hard now for me to promote it. I have a much easier time promoting other authors that I love than myself.

I can see how online promotion could be difficult!
Have there been any books or authors that you feel have particularly influenced you?

I’ve always loved mystery. I was a big James Patterson and Dean Koontz fan. When I discovered Kay Hooper it convinced me that I truly needed to write what I knew, which was a combination of my love for mystery and the paranormal. Working in the judicial system was often frustrating when criminals would go free on technicalities. And I hate crime. Thus emerged the Jacody Ives Mysteries and the Catherine Mans Psychic Suspense, and now the Jenna James Legal Thrillers, a combination of my loves and dislikes. There’s not a lot of paranormal about the Jenna James series at the moment, but in the future Loki Redmond will be a main player and the Choctaw customs and beliefs, as well as Loki’s love of New Age things will play a part.

Ooo, interesting! I’ve just read the first Jenna James book and can’t wait for the next! Especially after hearing that!
What advice would you give to other authors?

Keep writing and don’t ever throw anything away. My first Catherine Mans book, Bet you can’t Find Me, was something I worked on many years ago and shelved because I didn’t like my main character. One day I pulled it out, revamped her to someone I did like and wrote the book in a week. Take your bad reviews with a grain of salt. Yes, it’s your baby, but just like in real life not everyone loves your babies or thinks they’re beautiful. That, of course, is easier said than done, but if you can do it you’ll have a much easier time ignoring the ones that aren’t helpful, and paying attention to the ones that really are helpful. Make sure your product is the very best it can be by choosing good editors and cover artists. Keep plugging, keep writing and believe in yourself.

Brilliant advice!
Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?

Oh, this one makes me laugh. The second Jenna James Legal Thriller, 6 novellas and one full-length novel in the Catherine Mans series, and a romantic suspense that I promised a publisher I would submit about a year ago.

Wow! You’re certainly busy!
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers or to new readers?

A heartfelt thank you. Most authors need to make a living if they want to continue writing, especially if they want to write full-time. But behind every artist is a need for someone to see their art, read their book, and express their views. It’s like the actors who need applause. Even the ones that don’t go on to become famous will always remember that moment in the spotlight. It feeds your soul and makes the sun shine just a little brighter.

Brilliant. Thanks, Linda!
To learn more about the amazing Linda S. Prather, please visit the following links:
Her Facebook page
Her Twitter profile
Her Amazon author page
Silly interview can be found here.

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Getting to know: Linda S. Prather!

Hi, Linda!

So, we’ve done the serious interview. Now, it’s time for the fun questions!
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Empathetic, compassionate and crazy.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be and why?
Either the ability to heal others or the ability to become invisible. Healing from my compassion for people and animals and invisibility for my desire at times to be a fly on the wall when doors are closed.

Great choices!
Imagine that there’s a zombie apocalypse and you can only use the item to your left to survive. What is it and how long do you think you’d live?

A glass window and I’d survive a long time because I’m a fighter.

Brilliant answer!
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

My Shitz Tsu, Popcorn. He has it made. He’s actually the boss, the baby, and focus of the entire family any time he wants it. He has no worries, no stress, and doesn’t ever have to worry if his food bowl is going to be filled.

My labrador, Brandy, is exactly the same!
What has been your biggest fashion regret?

The dress I wore to my son’s wedding. It fit a year before that, but now going back and looking at the pictures and the video, well that 10 pounds I’d gained is very visible.

If there was a movie made about your life, who would you like to play you?

Jamie Lee Curtis. I think she’s got it all. Tough, sexy, funny and sweet.

Would you rather never being able to speak again, or always having to say everything on your mind?

Ha, ha. For me to be able to say everything on my mind, but once again my compassion for my fellow human beings comes in to play so I would choose never being able to speak again for them.

Brilliant! Thanks, Linda!
To learn more about the amazing Linda S. Prather, and see her serious answers, please click here.

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Review: ‘Gravity’ by Melissa West

Genre: Young Adult / Sci-fi / Romance 
Length: 400 pages (approx.)

This is book 1 in the Taking series. 

I have awarded this book 3 stars.

Summary: In the future, only one rule will matter: Don’t. Ever. Peek.
Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.

Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.

Review: I did enjoy reading this book, though it is not without it’s faults.

To begin with, I found this book a little difficult to get into.  There’s quite a lot of information delivered in the prologue that I found hard to get my head around (though that could be because I don’t read much sci-fi). The world that Melissa West has created, however, was so bizarre and intriguing that I had to keep reading. The author does a good job of conveying Ari’s fear of ‘the taking’ (which I would have liked more information about), both in the prologue when she is a child and at the beginning of the book when she is a teenager. Unfortunately, the book felt like it was written in two parts at times, and I wonder if the author should have considered making it into two books. I found myself losing focus during the middle of the book, though the ending is very fast-paced and I was quickly drawn back in.

I really enjoyed the mix between the history of the world, the science of the aliens (known as Ancients) and the action of the plot, and found it fascinating learning about the differences between the humans and the Ancients and the reason behind ‘the taking’. However, there were details that felt a bit unconvincing to me, which did impact on my enjoyment a bit. The technology that is frequently mentioned in the book is never really explained and I found myself guessing what it was or looked like a lot of the time. The reason that the Ancients came to Earth was completely unbelievable to me and felt almost as if the author has included this as an afterthought. The same can be said with the food pill explanation, in my opinion. Also, there was an instance where Ari shocks Gretchen, her best friend, which confused me a little (again, I don’t want to spoil anything) and really wasn’t explained well.

I found the love aspects a little unconvincing, too. I felt that Ari trusted Jackson too quickly and that their relationship started too quickly. After all, they are supposed to be rivals and have been all their lives. Also, Ari never seems to be disgusted that she has fallen for an Ancient, even though she has grown up both fearing and hating them. There is another love story in the book (that I won’t go into as I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone) that I felt should have been developed a little further. It felt very sudden and there doesn’t seem to be any clues until nearly the end of the book.

★★★ – An interesting concept. I enjoyed reading this and quickly got sucked into the story, though there were quite a few aspects that were unbelievable or not explained well enough

Where to buy:
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Amazon US (Kindle)

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Review: ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’ by Linda S. Prather

Genre: Thriller / Legal
Length: 221 pages (approx.)

This is book 1 in the Jenna James Legal Thrillers series.

I have awarded this book 5 stars.

Summary: Assistant DA, Jenna James took an oath to uphold the law, administer justice, deter crime and ensure the safety of the community. Her job isn’t easy, but it has always been black and white—criminals versus victims. Now she is the victim, and the very system she’s fought to uphold is suddenly corrupt, the lines between good and bad are blurred and her world has turned upside down. She’s always known that world existed—a world of power so immense that a single phone call can result in people disappearing or political offices being vacated, a world where doctors are available at a moment’s notice. She’s never been part of that world—never wanted to be. The body count is rising, and unless she finds proof beyond a reasonable doubt against a corrupt former federal judge, and a notorious criminal defense attorney, it will continue to rise.

Review: This is the first book that I’ve read by this author, but it definitely  won’t be the last! I read this book in one sitting. Prathers’ writing style is so fluid and engaging that you can’t help but be drawn in. I found myself to be so engaged in the story that before I realised, I had finished the book! Fast paced and with realistic characters, I found this book impossible to put down.

I loved the character of Jenna and found her to be well developed and very relatable. I enjoyed the twists and turns in this story and wanted to know whether Jenna would be successful in her quest for justice or whether more obstacles would be thrown in her way to prevent that. It was interesting to see the court side of crimes, rather than the police side, and I found the legal talk interesting. There wasn’t very much in the way of court scenes, just enough to give the reader a different perspective every so often. I found the court aspect to be quite a refreshing way of approaching a crime!

I will definitely be looking out for more by this author and hope book 2 in this series comes quickly!

★★★★★ – a fast-paced court thriller with realistic characters and plenty of twists and turns, written in an engaging way. Very highly recommended!

Where to buy:
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Amazon US (Kindle)