Break Heart Canyon

Una MacLaren is a fiercely independent woman and widow. When her beloved husband suffers an accident in Break Heart Canyon, she concludes her life is just another story to add to the depressing legacy of the canyon. Preferring the company of her goats and her dog MacTavish she works her farm and keeps to herself for the most part. That is, until a relic hunter appears uninvited and unwanted on her property. Ryker is unlike the other bone hunters who try to pilfer the spirit cave on her property. Slowly the two of them work their way into each other’s lives, with a bit of help from Whiskey Jim, the mysterious wonder that seems to know everything that goes on in this town.

Break Heart Canyon by Gini Rifkin is more than a western romance novel. It is the story of Native American legends, Scottish heritage, and self-discovery. Ryker is the loner, never staying anywhere long, just long enough to get the job done and get paid. But, it is in the canyon and after meeting Una, he starts to realize there is more to life and adventure can come in many forms. Una learns that she doesn’t always have to be strong and it is ok to love more than once in a lifetime. Together they find the missing pieces of themselves and help solve a long-standing mystery that has plagued the town.

Rifkin’s writing style pulls the reader in, giving them rich characters that, in order to get to know the real person, you have to keep reading. Even the minor characters are well-developed and are used to show added depth and personality to the protagonists. Intertwined in the story is the mystery surrounding the cave and the events that have happened in the canyon. The mystery plays out well and leaves some wonderful surprises for the reader to discover.

Break Heart Canyon is a captivating historical romance filled with legend and lore that will have readers unable to put the book down. Each chapter gives the reader something new to think about, leading them deeper into a world they were not expecting. This is the perfect read for those that want romance with their adventure.

Pages: 196 | ASIN : B0B4Z39G9X

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Joseph W. Taylor BORN TO BIRD

Joseph W. Taylor: Born to Bird is an engaging biography penned by Anne Taylor, chronicling the life and passions of her father, Joseph Taylor. The book delves into Joseph’s deep love for birds, nature, and conservation, showcasing his significant impact on Anne’s life. Set against the backdrop of the idyllic mid-20th century, the narrative is captivating and nostalgic, as Anne Taylor’s conversational tone draws the reader into her family’s rich experiences and lessons learned.

Ornithology serves as the book’s focal point, with Anne introducing readers to the fascinating world of birding through her father’s eyes. As the story unfolds, she recounts Joseph’s involvement with the prestigious 600 Club, a birdwatching group dedicated to research, conservation, and the joy of birding. The narrative is imbued with Anne’s admiration and affection for her father as she shares the passion and enthusiasm that fueled the club’s members.

Complementing the vivid storytelling are a collection of stunning photographs featuring color and black-and-white images of Joseph Taylor, his family, and his birding adventures. The meticulously captioned and dated photographs offer a visual journey through Joseph’s life, from his early years to his later excursions to breathtaking locations such as Alaska, Newfoundland, New Mexico, Nova Scotia, and Florida.

Despite Joseph’s challenges in his later years, Anne Taylor’s account of her father’s life is a testament to his resilience, love for nature, and commitment to family. The narrative, interspersed with uplifting moments and valuable life lessons, pays tribute to Joseph’s lasting legacy within the birding community. His dedication to preserving the natural world and treasuring family bonds remains an enduring message that resonates with readers.

With its compelling narration, intriguing insights into 20th-century ornithology, and heartwarming stories, Joseph W. Taylor: Born to Bird is a must-read biography for those seeking a captivating journey into the life of a remarkable individual and the enchanting world of birds.

Pages: 290 | ASIN : B0BWLWNHJQ

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Cargo 3120

It is the year 3120, and humans have entered the world of intergalactic travel and commerce. The Milky Way has become a battle zone for resources between all the different alien races that reside there. With a new power source discovered, it is a race to see what race will control it, giving them the upper hand to control the direction of the galaxy. Can humans win the race? What will it take to get the job done and gain control of this new resource?

Author Aaron Walker Sr.’s Cargo 3120: Ties that Bind is an excellent science fiction adventure. Set in the distant future, the spirited members of the outlaw group, Raven Squad, find themselves in the middle of a heist gone wrong that could have implications for the future of the entire galaxy. Led by the imposing Marcus La’Dek, Raven Squad comprises sci-fi mainstays; the hotshot upstart, a cocky explosives expert, a brutish heavy gunner, and a brilliant hacker. Walker Sr. breaks some molds with the situations he puts his characters into, primarily by showing the devastating consequences of their actions.

At times, Cargo 3120 feels more like a crime drama than a sci-fi novel. There’s plenty of scheming, backstabbing, and betrayals. However, Marcus’s crew is brave and ambitious, often to a fault. The story takes a lengthy, albeit necessary, detour depicting a miserable stint in a galactic penitentiary. La’Dek is sent there for his past actions and the actions of his crew. Once “reformed,” Marcus is put into the unenviable position of choosing between his squad and his family. The author makes the situation work as La’Dek struggles to deal with the “ties that bind.”

Walker Sr. does an excellent job of building a vibrant world. The varying factions and syndicates of the Interstellar League of Planets are fleshed out and feel like real organizations. I like how the author presents a “real” fictional history for his future world. Also, the science fiction elements aren’t too far out there, allowing the reader to enjoy Marcus’s and the other characters’ journeys.

Cargo 3120: Ties that Bind is a riveting science fiction adventure that takes space opera fans into the world they love and gives them new villains and battles to follow along with. This remarkable story is sure to be the start of a captivating and engaging series that will garner the love of old and new sci-fi fans alike.

Pages: 263 | ASIN : B09B8454KV

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Click Click Click

Click Click Click is a fascinating true crime story that delves into the real-life events that occurred in Franklin, VA, during the 1990s. Co-authored by sisters Anne Varner and Karen DeVanie, who also host the Sugar Coated Murder podcast, this book is a gripping account of the murder of Trent Whitley, a high school student who went missing one Friday night. Despite having no leads and no suspects, the case remained unsolved for several years until the police finally made an arrest and brought the culprits to justice.

The authors’ extensive research and investigation into the case, as well as their firsthand experience of covering it in their podcast, have resulted in a riveting and immersive narrative. The reader is drawn into the story from the very beginning, as the authors provide a detailed and vivid portrayal of the town, the victims, and the perpetrators.

The book is structured in an engaging and informative manner, with each chapter providing a new layer of insight into the crime and its aftermath. In addition, the authors’ writing style is compelling, with their prose keeping readers hooked until the very last page.

Click Click Click is an excellent choice for anyone who is a fan of true crime literature or podcasts. It offers a concise yet captivating account of a heinous crime that shocked a community and made national headlines. This book is a quick and absorbing read that can be finished in one sitting. This is a must-read for true crime enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys a well-written and gripping story.

Pages: 108 | ASIN : B0BN43PBNB

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The Mole Book III

Book Review

The Mole Book III, by Ron Raye, is the third book in the fascinating The Mole series. This particular collection of poems centers on engaging themes of survival, human nature, and betrayal, among others. The book starts with an intriguing introduction where the author talks about a character, who may or may not be fictional, who he claims was his brother. Following the character’s death, the ghost continued to haunt him, the author, even though he was not responsible for the brother’s untimely death.

I’m surprised to find one familiar character who stands out in the book, Willem, who appears in a previous book in the series. He is notorious for his destructive nature and deception. The author’s use of metaphor is brilliant when describing Willem, with lines such as “That night I saw him through the flashing light.” It was Willem; like a mole, he was holding court. “The evil thing was him.” These words aptly capture Willem’s character, making him a memorable figure throughout the book.

Ron Raye is a master of wordplay and metaphor, and his poems are written like captivating stories. The use of repetition in the right places was what I liked most, and it helped to emphasize the author’s ideas on the struggles of life. He asserts that life is a constant battle, and only those who can adapt to different situations and show resistance to oppression will survive. His insightful observations on human nature are thought-provoking and resonate with readers.

Ron Raye is a true master of poetry, and this book showcases his exceptional talent. As someone who has recently developed a love for poetry, this book is one of the best I have read so far. I highly recommend it to poetry enthusiasts and anyone looking for a fascinating and thought-provoking read.

Pages: 204

Pedaling West

It’s no exaggeration that life can change in the blink of an eye, and no one knows that better than Carrie Brinkley. IT Manager of Pilgrim Burgers, LLC, Carrie, is shocked to find her position is being eliminated. Doubtful as to her boss’s real intentions, she heads home only to receive a citation for an expired inspection sticker on her way. But, unfortunately, her string of bad luck doesn’t end there. Her boyfriend Trey is waiting in her driveway to announce that he is leaving town to return to Alabama and consequently breaking up with her. All Carrie wants at this point is to run away from it all, and when her bike calls, she answers.

Pedaling West, by E.A. Coe, follows the journey of one woman impacted in multiple ways by the 2020 pandemic. The face of the world, as Carrie Brinkley knows it, has changed, and she wants more than anything to run away from it all. So she concocts a plan to bike across the country, and even her parents’ words of wisdom can’t stop her from setting out to cover the nation from coast to coast between June and October.

Carrie’s story is unique in many ways yet typical of far too many others since 2020. Coe does a fantastic job of covering the mania that ensued when COVID-19 hit the United States. From misused funds to the countless ways our day-to-day lives changed at the drop of a hat, Coe covers it all in a short amount of time.

Carrie is a true force. She represents strength and determination on an entirely different level. Coe’s depiction of a woman on a mission is one to behold. As Carrie encounters one roadblock after another on her journey west, she meets each head-on and with renewed confidence. Her character development is unmatched. Though Coe’s story is fiction, I can easily picture this as a true story and one that would definitely inspire much-need confidence during the pandemic.

There exists within Coe’s writing an ideal amount of intrigue and mystery. It is difficult to peg Pedaling West as part of any one genre–it contains all the best parts of several. I enjoyed the blend of current events, action sequences, and the focus on Carrie’s character development throughout the book.

We won’t soon tire of reading about the many ways COVID has impacted our world, and E.A. Coe has gifted readers with a fantastic version of events in one neat package. I highly recommend Coe’s work to any mystery fan who appreciates a novel grounded in current events and is driven by a strong female main character.

Pages: 366 | ASIN: B0BTM1KRWF

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Life Overnight Turned Upside Down

Author Interview
Barbara Bryan Author Interview

Topanga Canyon: Fire Season follows a teenage boy from Chicago who is sent to live on his grandfather’s horse ranch in Topanga, CA. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

I’ve never been disciplined enough to keep a daily journal, but I do enjoy chronicling moments and thoughts by writing short stories when time allows. And when the Coronavirus countywide “Stay at Home Order” took effect in Los Angeles, turning my life, and everyone else’s, instantly upside down, I found I had a lot of it.

Overnight everything came to a halt. A few designated businesses were allowed to remain open if deemed “essential”: as long as the employees followed a strict regimen of cleaning, mask-wearing, and intensified hygiene.

Our small café was one of them. Granted, we had the option of closing, but we were desperate to have some sense of normalcy in our lives and the lives of our customers, neighbors, and friends despite the constantly terrifying, changing world of Covid. And that the simple act of brewing coffee and baking muffins would signal our trust that that world would, one day, return to normal.

Santa Monica had become a ghost town. Hours would go by before anyone entered the café. And the unknown deadly threat of Covid and the sudden lack of control over our future began to get to me. I began to write a short story about Matt, a teenager whose life overnight turned upside down, and how he dealt with the frightening new circumstances

Around the same time, I came across an old interview from 2014 on NPR about Tennessee Walking Horses.

Now, Walking Horses are an American breed started by Albert Derment in the late 1800s in Tennessee. Albert bred horses, and late in his life, he purchased a rather plain-looking small black stallion named Allan, who had this uncanny ability to walk at different speeds. Now that might sound like a simple thing to do, but other horses cannot do that. And because Allan could walk at different speeds riding him was like sitting in a rocking chair. So Albert Derment began breeding the stallion with this genetic quirk to see if his offspring would also carry that trait. And some of them did. This selective breeding resulted in what is known as the Tennessee Walking Horse. They are beautiful to watch with their heads held high, their front legs fully extended, and their long flowing tails as they fast walk around a show ring.

Unfortunately, to ensure show horses raised their legs higher, some unscrupulous trainers invented the practice of soring, which is applying a caustic material on the horses’ legs so that the pain would make them raise their legs higher. Granted, legislation through Congress has been passed to eliminate this decades-long abomination, but the laws were basically toothless. The most recent bill H.R. 5441 117th Congress, reintroduced as the PAST Act of 2021, is still pending. I hoped that by highlighting this ongoing practice, people would once again become aware and get involved in ending soring once and for all. And I was convinced that my main character Matt would be able to do that.

Why choose this place and time for the setting of the story?

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, Topanga Canyon is next to 16,000 acres of Topanga State Park. With its deep canyons and slopes dotted with oak trees, this pristine park allows one to envision what California looked like a hundred years ago when the indigenous people, the Tongva, thrived in the Los Angeles Basin. Topanga Canyon is a magical place where one can be transported to another place and time. And I did not know how to write about the Canyon without bringing in a character of Tongva heritage. I thought Topanga Canyon was the perfect place for a horse ranch where Matt could be introduced to that reality and Los Angeles today with its vibrant and evolving indigenous community.

What were some challenges you felt were important to defining your characters in this story? 

As my little short story grew into a much longer project, I found that the more time I spent with my main characters, the more solid they became.  It took a while to ensure that each one had their own voice and did not blend into one another.  I had to be careful to avoid every character saying the same thing in trying to get a point across.  It was important that each one had their own point of view and were true to their age and gender.  This was easier said than done.

Will there be a follow-up novel to this story? If so, what aspects of the story will the next book cover?

I enjoyed my time at the High Stepping Ranch. And Matt keeps leaving articles on my desk about Horse Therapy, also known as hippotherapy, and how it is used with people with PTSD, Autism, and physical disabilities. Silas’s boots banging down the hallway as he complains about the proposed Convention Center slated for the pristine Canyon reverberates in my head. And Esmerelda keeps whispering about researching the Tongva language. So I would enjoy doing a follow-up novel.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Matt, a teenage boy from Chicago, is exiled to his grandfather’s horse ranch in Topanga, California by his alcoholic mother. There, he must learn to adapt to an alien lifestyle filled with strangers and animals he finds terrifying.

As Matt’s new life unfolds and his love for horses grows, he realizes that his grandfather is in danger of losing his beloved ranch due to outstanding debts. Desperate to keep the ranch, his grandfather leases out one of the barns to an unscrupulous horse trainer named Robert Sinclair.

Matt soon witnesses the antiquated and brutal methods of training Sinclair uses on his Tennessee Walking Horses. Confronted by an unwillingness by everyone at the ranch to oppose Sinclair and his use of horse soring, Matt searches for a way to make the outside world aware of the horse’s needless torture. With the help of his friend Ariel, they devise a plan to expose Sinclair and his brutal methods. But will the fury of the yearly Santa Ana winds ignite a devastating fire and give Sinclair his chance for revenge?

Topanga Canyon: Fire Season by Barbara Bryan weaves a tale that reignites the essential truth that we all intrinsically possess the courage to face the myriad of challenges in today’s world and restores the knowledge that, through us, change is possible.

Erift’s Journeys: The Dark Messengers

After more than a year since their journey to the Sealed Forest, Joseph, and Eric, who were about to head off to college, were suddenly brought to another adventure. The best friends were called by Professor Ben, and during their travel from home to the Murean Islands, they were met with supernatural challenges. Unfortunately, things got even more chaotic when they arrived on the island. New enemies started emerging, bringing more conflict to the three, and a foe from the past took this time to announce their return. In this sequel to Secrets of The Sealed Forest, the boys are once again pushed to their limits and, with their friends’ help, must do everything they can to go home to live the peaceful lives they strived for.

Erift’s Journeys: The Dark Messengers by J.T. Tenera is a new compelling narrative that brings back Joseph and Eric, two memorable characters, and pulls them back into the world of fantasy and magic. We see how much the two have grown in terms of their relationship and powers, which they execute particularly in the book’s first half. As for the main character’s personal journey, the author should be applauded for making them human despite all that is happening around them. It is essential to keep in mind that Joseph and Eric are still trying to figure themselves out, have internal conflicts of their own, and are also on a path toward self-actualization. Knowing these about them had me rooting for their success even more, so they can go home and fulfill their individual dreams.   

True to their characters, the funny, quick, and unnecessary banters stayed even during the fight scenes, reminding us once again that this book is humorous as it is riveting, keeping readers invested in going through the pages. The other side characters were a welcome addition to the mix, both friends and foes, giving a fresh take to the setting of the previous book.

The second book from Erift’s Journeys is a gripping coming-of-age fantasy novel that teens and young adults will love. I would recommend this for high school students, for I believe the main characters’ language and their penchant for fun despite hard times would resonate with them.

Pages: 435 | ASIN : B0BR4JZT9R

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