The Governor’s Daughter follows nineteen year-old Emma Bellamy who is guarded and suspicious of others in a brutal dystopian future where she’s treated like little more than property. Emma uncovers the dark truth about her strict society and abandons her privileged life to set our on a perilous journey beyond the walls of the Premier City to seek the truth. But what she finds will challenge her in ways she hadn’t even imagined.
Emma’s character develops dramatically throughout the story as she transforms from a naïve young lady to a woman with huge inner strength. Her dialogue, inner monologues and actions all portray her as a strong young woman who is battling against the system she finds herself in. As she grows and matures, she finds herself to be growing stronger both physically and emotionally. Ryan, her fiancé, is an entitled, and cruel young man, determined to use his power in this corrupt society to its full extent.
Declan, a young physiotherapist, is handsome, clever and darkly sullen. Trapped within the rigid rules of society he is a ‘marked man’ and bears this mark both physically and psychologically. Supporting these main characters are a small group of minor but still alluring characters, that weave in and out of the story. These are characters that both support the government and characters that are secretly fighting the government. All of these characters help to make the story authentic and believable.
While the novel explores some heavy topics the novel has a clear and easy structure to follow. Most of the chapters are all entitled with the name of whoever is narrating that chapter. The narrations give a clear picture of the rules of this disturbing dystopian world, from the points of views of both the oppressed and the oppressor. There are many twists and turns along the way which holds the reader’s interest and keeps them guessing until the end of the story.
The story is set in the future; in 2045 America. The setting is vastly different to the U.S. of today, with physical walls dividing citizens and keeping them apart. There is some description of the architecture, from the palatial mansion like homes Emma resides in, to the squalor others live in. This dichotomy between the haves and have-nots and the physical and moral differences between the two reminds me of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but made for a young adult audience.
The Governor’s Daughter is a riveting dystopian novel with subtle by deep commentary on society. Readers will enjoy following the vivacious protagonist and exploring the vivid dystopian future author Maria Ereni Dampman has created.
Pages: 488 | ASIN: B097CKSNYK
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What’s So Great About Silent E? is an entertaining children’s book that teaches readers about the importance of silent E and provides various fun examples of how silent E modifies words. Every amusing example shown throughout the book is accompanied by a brightly colored picture that hilariously shows how the modified word can alter the world.
This charming picture book is filled with hand drawn art that is colored in with markers and is very appealing and relatable to children. Talking about the English language to children can often be abstract, Author Deanna Thompson provides readers with a fantastic book that will literally show readers how silent E works to modify words. The silly imagery accompanying each example will certainly capture the attention of young readers and ensure the lesson is learned well. The combination of sketch art and fun lessons reminds me of the old children’s cartoon Schoolhouse Rock.
This is a fantastic addition to any parent or teachers reading comprehension lessons as it is filled with easy-to-understand words that will build a new readers comprehension skill. What’s So Great About Silent E? is a crazy fun book that teaches readers about the important of a single letter.
Pages: 28 | ISBN: 1449092748
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Swords of Deception by Rowan Staeffler is a gripping fantasy novel revolving around Ellemar Vancel, who has been living her life as a hostage for almost three years, with permission to move only within the boundaries of the city. Her crime? She practiced her powers without supervision. One black day three years ago, rogue council member Celeana Maar wreaked havoc in the Witches Academy, and after a severe tussle, left Ellemar Vancel deeply wounded and deformed. Ellemar carries the painful memory of this traumatic incident to this date and wishes to find Celeana to take revenge on her. However, her mission is interrupted by the Council. The Council of Witches holds that a member cannot kill anyone. The novel begins with Ason informing her that the Council has finally granted her wish, and she can undertake her mission to track down Celeana.
Swords of Deception is the first book in A Sword of Deception Novel series, and the story is to be continued in Book 2, Swords of Revelation. This dark fantasy novel si short but potent. With little room to spare the chapters are succinct and the story is relentlessly propelled forward through a series of wild turns and electrifying revelations.
Within this adventurous story is an emotionally invigorating relationship between Ellemar and Ason which is subtle yet deep and provides ample dramatic punctuations to this action filled story. The work carries a light sensual undertone, especially towards the ending, without being too graphic.
Swords of Deception has a unique plot with crisp prose that will appeal to fans of The Witcher. This is a thrilling dark fantasy novel that will appeal to both young adult and adult readers who are interested in a sword and sorcery story that knows how to deliver a well defined and entertaining hero’s journey.
Pages: 227 | ASIN: B097Q4VK1T
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Hope in Liverpool is a stirring historical romance novel following a dejected young woman who finds renewed hope in a handsome stranger that provides the prospect of a better life. But that life has its own set of obstacles.
Hope Bennett is an intriguing character and could be described as a woman with a gentle soul and a heart of gold, but don’t let that fool you because once you hit a nerve she can be as feisty as ever. This dynamic character is really brought to life by T N Traynor’s sharp writing.
This emotionally charged love story showcases the hardships that women go through on a daily basis, yet somehow they are able to soldier on and continue being the anchors in their home while also being their own pillars of strengths. Traynor takes this novella beyond your typical romantic love story and makes it a book that shows the strength of a woman while adding a twist of romance. The story is a deep but subtle exploration of dysfunctional families and through this it shows the true value of forgiveness.
As a young woman myself I was able to empathize with, if not relate to, Hope as she felt authentic and the writing really places the reader in her shoes. This is a melodramatic love story, but it’s melodrama done right. It brings all the emotions of family drama and love to the forefront and probes them throughout the story in various ways that ensures the reader is always entertained. Although this is a love story it still displays the imperfections of people and choices.
When I read through the prologue I thought this was going to be a stuffy historical fiction novel, but stick with it because after chapter one I was fully engaged with the story.
Hope in Liverpool is a stimulating historical romance novel with a well-conceived and thoughtful protagonist that was a delight to follow. This a compelling romance novel that will appeal to anyone looking for a quick but riveting love story.
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B091B8LYNP
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Backup Offer follows a restaurant owner who’s abandoned by her contractor in the middle of a renovation and seeks help from an old love. What was the inspiration for the setup to your stirring romance novel?
In an earlier novel, Blair attended culinary school in Paris for a few years, as did her father, and she always was his helper in the kitchen growing up. So when she had to leave her home behind in order to force herself to stay away from Brandis, her dad helped her find a kitchen to work in and get more experience which she used to write her own business plan to open her place. It’s so successful, she’s in the middle of an expansion to the place when the novel opens but the contractor bolts and leaves behind a big mess, she automatically reaches out to the man who can help her, since he owns and runs a construction company back in her home town. The catch is, he is also the reason she left town in the first place.
I’ve worked in restaurants, owned and ran a bar for a few years, and sold beer and wine to restaurants so I’ve seen and worked in all sorts of kitchens and behind many kinds of bars. They are places chock full of drama, but also places where friendships and other relationships are formed based on common passions for food, drinks, and creativity. Owning a restaurant in particular is, in my opinion, always a passion since it is brutally hard work, with long hours and many times small rewards.
This is the 9th book in your Stewart Realty series. Did you know you would take the series this far? What has surprised you the most about the series up to this point?
I started this series in 2008 and the first editions of the first 3 books (Floor Time, Sweat Equity, and Closing Costs) were published in 2010-2011. They’ve since been revised and re-published. I wrote the first 8 books between 2008 and 2014, and thought I was done but something about the way I left Brandis and Blair–the second generation of the saga–bothered me so I wanted to provide them with a happier ending to their love story.
What were some ideas you wanted to explore in Blair and Brandis’s relationship?
The biggest thing they have to cope with is a doozy for any relationship–addiction. Brandis Gordon spent his teenaged years playing football, being the golden boy to all around him, and developing addictions to alcohol, pain pills, and sex. These aren’t always topics you’ll find in romance novels but I set it up this way in the book prior to Backup Offer. Good Faith (book 8) is not a romance but a deep dive into relationships between the first generation and second. The first gen is well-established from books one through seven and by that time, they have kids. These kids then grow up and develop their own personalities and relationships, not all of them good. Blair is an enabler, as many of us are without realizing it. She’s so passionately in love with Brandis from a young age, she believes he can do no wrong, even as he is doing a lot of wrong to her, and the rest of his family.
Backup Offer is his redemption arc, in a way, as he and Blair have spent 10 years apart when the novel opens, working on themselves and their careers, and in Brandis’ case, rebuilding his relationships with this sisters and father. Neither of them have had a romantic relationship during that time so when fate brings Blair back to her hometown when her best friend needs her help and she lays eyes on Brandis for the first time in a decade, she tried to avoid her feelings and hold him at arms length. But he rushes to her side to help after the contractor disaster, bringing his rescue dog–something that I really enjoyed portraying–and ends up staying at her house.
Most real relationships require work and effort, and these two are wary about hurting each other (and themselves) by reconnecting. But they do, and honestly, it has to be one of the most satisfying happily ever afters I’ve written. They put in the work and reap the rewards, but I make it clear that living with alcoholism and other addictions is a daily, hourly battle. But Brandis will fight it, if it means he and Blair can be together.
Do you have more books planned in the Stewart Realty series, or do you have another series idea?
This series is finished. I have several other series published and will be returning to one of my other successful ones soon: The Love Brothers series, which is about a large, boisterous family with 4 brothers and a sister. I have some ideas about expanding it and plan to do so in 2022.
I’m also developing a series about a fictional soccer team set in Detroit that will release in late 2021.
An ex-boyfriend, his massive dog, her house, and no hotel room in sight. What could go wrong?
After Blair ended things with Brandis, she was determined to get away–and stay away from him for good. She put family, friends, and the life she knew in Michigan in her rear view mirror and started over. As owner and head chef of her own place in Louisville, she stays plenty busy, especially since “Blair’s Kitchen” is the darling of the restaurant scene. She’s managed to avoid Michigan for almost a decade, but when her best friend needs her help, she drops everything and heads home.
Brandis has spent the last ten years coming to terms with addiction, personal tragedy, and the loss of the woman he loved. He’s now the third generation to run his family’s construction business, and he’s managed to reconstruct tattered relationships with his family. He’s even adopted a dog, thanks to some donated renovation time spent at an animal shelter. He’s got everything he needs—except a for one thing.
When the contractor she paid to build her restaurant’s expansion vanishes, leaving her with a giant mess, Blair only hesitates a moment before calling Brandis for help. But when he rushes to her side to evaluate the crisis, there isn’t an available room in a twenty mile radius. So they settle in to a routine—her, her one-time boyfriend, and his giant, slobbering dog in her small house. It doesn’t take long for the temptation of close proximity to give way, and while Blair tries to keep it all physical, Brandis has other ideas.
The end of the Stewart Realty saga brings the second generation full-circle in ways many never expected, and no one regrets.
Posted in Interviews
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Elmer & Virginia by John Odell is an emotional and illuminating memoir of two young people in love, but forever changed by World War II. Their personal story is told through a compilation of letters Elmer and Virginia sent to one another. These letters were handwritten with love between the years of 1939 and 1944. The letters are endearing and really capture the feel of the times. I also admire their determination to keep a strong connection in a long distance relationship. At one point in the collection of letters, Virginia gets upset when Elmer doesn’t write her back. These moments ensure readers understand that these were humans doing their best in tough times.
Virginia, or affectionately called by Elmer in the letters “Ginny”, was a college student at Syracuse University. She expressed her love through poems throughout her letters. I enjoyed the poems that involved addressing her inner self. One poem in particular addressed her love for another man by the name of George Hall. Though later as I read on, it was made clear that no one had her heart like Elmer Odell. Virginia also had a diary where she would journal her more personal stories. Some snippets were used to help better understand the connection between her and Elmer. Unlike today where people capture their life stories in videos on Instagram and Twitter, these letters and poems bring you back to a time when life was not necessarily simpler, but a whole world different, and John Odell is able to capture that in this emotionally resonant biography.
Pictures of Elmer & Virginia and the letters were included in this collection. This, for me, was critical in connecting with them both and I really enjoyed seeing them. The chemistry between the two was as organic as it can get. They shared a love of music and dancing that helped their love to become deeper. It was interesting to read the terms and phrases that were used during that time as well as follow Elmer’s enlistment in the air corps.
Elmer & Virginia is a beautiful reflection on love and war. This is a book that has the ability to transport you back to that time and let you inhabit the personal lives of two very intriguing people.
Pages: 488 | ASIN: B08ZL49728
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The D Word: 12 Steps to Diversity Recovery is a book that will make you appreciate everyone’s background, and understand that it is ok to be different. Susan McCuistion writes extensively about diversity, sharing her journey as a child of many cultures and writing about her experiences. The author did a lovely job telling her story. Many readers will enjoy and even relate to her tales. Susan McCuistion is a great narrator and one gets engrossed in the stories that she shares. When talking about diversity, the author ensures that the reader understands the importance of inclusivity and why working with people from different races, nationalities and ethnicities is a great thing.
Susan McCuistion is a great author not just because of how well she narrates her story, but also because of the solutions she gives when airing out issues. The 12 steps to diversity recovery shared in the book are what every adult needs to read in order to understand diversity better. The author breaks down diversity and goes deeper to share how it affects our daily living, each of the 12 steps is crucial in our growing and living. One of the biggest things that I took from the steps is that not many people admit when they are wrong. Society has conditioned us to group ourselves on the basis of us versus them, which takes a physical and emotional toll on many. Susan McCuistion writes on the dangers of grouping and gives effective solutions on how each situation should be handled.
The D Word: 12 Steps to Diversity Recovery is easy to understand, even when diving deep into topics. I also enjoyed this book because it gets one to be curious about different cultures and the ways of life of people that live in different parts of the globe.
The D Word: 12 Steps to Diversity Recovery provides readers with a candid examination and reevaluation of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in our community. It provides actionable advice to implement real change and shows how that change will benefit us all in real and life changing ways.
Pages: 144 | ASIN: B0964CH26D
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Runaway Princess, by Valerie Anne Hudson, is a story about Princess Louise-Marie who feels trapped in the Royal Palace of Limolou. After a botched runaway attempt when she was nine, Louise quietly accepts being stuck in the palace. This attempt opened her eyes to the plight of the commoners. Louise learns as much as she can from her tutor. It’s not until she’s seventeen and being forced to marry an abusive Duke that Louise finally takes action again.
This riveting historical fantasy is written in the first person point of view which enables readers to be pulled into this story from the start and I was able to really connect with Louise’s character.
We don’t meet Louise until she’s nine years old. Author Valerie Anne Hudson speeds us through the years until shortly before her seventeenth birthday. With the first person point of view, we get to see and feel what Louise does, which is important in this emotionally resonant story coming-of-age story. It means that we don’t get the intrigue of the palace. I find that I’m glad that Hudson didn’t focus on that. She focused on Louise’s story, her growth, and what needed to be done for the people.
While I heartily enjoyed this effervescent historical novel, especially the beginning I felt like the ending was a bit rushed, as I felt that she was able to fix the problems of the commoners rather quickly.
Runaway Princess is an enchanting historical fiction novel in the depths of the tumultuous French Revolution. This is a vibrant story that takes readers on a subtle but deep exploration of a character that never ceases to be intriguing.
Pages: 133 | ASIN: B0981FXW22
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