My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses is a non-fiction book written by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne about her true life experiences growing up on a horse farm in Easton, Connecticut called Sweetbrier. After Deanie’s parents were told she would probably never be able to walk, she not only overcame her disability in order to learn to walk but Deanie also learned to ride horses and becomes an equestrian jumping champion, riding a horse named Fleet Nancy (Peach). Then she has surgery on her leg to help her walk better and she has to relearn to walk and ride all over again. After many months of physical therapy and hard work, she comes back to the jumping circuit and wins even more championships.
I enjoyed reading this book. It had an inspiring message about overcoming obstacles in order to reach your goals, to keep trying even when you fail and not give up. It’s a message that will resonate with all readers regardless of whether or not they have a physical disability like Deanie.
The descriptions of Little Man (Deanie’s first pony) were humorous as she described his actions when she was learning to ride, but it was sad to read about the horses that the family lost when the barn caught on fire.
I loved that the author included family photographs and pictures of the house and barns at Sweetbrier and the horses owned by the Humphrys Family while Deanie was growing up. There were also pictures of the Humphrys sisters jumping at various horse shows.
Although I enjoyed the book, I felt that the story was a bit disjointed at the beginning, with Deanie retelling various events in her past, jumping from one memory to another without connections between them. I would have preferred a more cohesive narrative in that section of the story, but this is not an issue in the later parts of the story. No dates were mentioned, and I would have liked to know when Deanie was growing up and when she won numerous equestrian jumping championships.
This is an inspirational story that excellently conveys the moments and emotions of Deanie’s life. This book invites readers into a personal story, one that is told boldly, and I appreciated it.
Pages: 144 | ASIN: B0711P67DM
Rovinkar, the wizard, holds in his hands the key to instigating a war like no other. Cerra, a blind woman living alone in the meadows, knows only what she feels and hears. Their two worlds collide when power goes to Rovinkar’s head and he offers to destroy the Black Gate thereby beginning a string of devastating events. Rovinkar’s offer involves much more than just his expertise, detailed research, and a desire to prove his usefulness–it involves releasing a demon. When the best laid plans go awry, Cerra becomes involved in ways she could never have imagined, and her simple life in the meadows tending herbs will never be the same.
The Demon of the Black Gate, by G.J. Scherzinger, details the devious musings of the wizard Rovinkar and the strength of character shown by Cerra of the Meadows. The author’s two main characters could not be more different–Rovinkar dealing in what amounts to the dark arts and Cerra living her life by touch, sound, and smell. Cerra, a seemingly powerless woman, is the clear heroine in Scherzinger’s tale and stands far above all other characters including Rovinkar.
Fantasies of this type are known for being fraught with flowery language and bigger-than-life characters, but Scherzinger has found and given readers a wonderful balance between the typical fantasy and a down-to-earth read. From the first chapter, the author provides characters who relate to one another as people and in a way readers can appreciate. There is an abundance of friendly banter between characters at the outset of the book that draws readers immediately into the story-line.
Cerra must be the very definition of strength. The peek into her backstory serves to draw readers in and secure their investment in her connection to the plot. It is difficult to imagine another character without her physical limitations who is willing to take on the immense tasks she does. I appreciate the symbolism in Cerra’s position as a healer. Her position later in the story makes it quite clear that she is the epitome of rebuilding and reviving.
Equally as effective are the author’s fantastically fashioned descriptions of the wizard, Rovinkar. As he sets about plotting the release of the demon, one gets a clear picture of the wizard practically rubbing his hands in sheer delight–he is quite the character and one readers will love to hate.
Scherzinger’s fantasy is peppered with humorous and engaging lines that offer a welcome sense of levity within a plot that could otherwise become very dark and foreboding. It goes without saying that Scherzinger gives readers amazing visuals of the surrounding countryside From cover to cover, readers are treated to beautiful descriptions and vivid details. I am much more interested in characters and their development from beginning to end than scenes of action, and Scherzinger does not disappoint in this arena.
Pages: 214 | ASIN: B07XC9B4QT
A unit of the Seventh Cavalry is on a mission over Afghanistan when their plane is hit.
Sergeant James Alexander, Private Kady Sharakova, Private Charley Kawalski, PFC Autumn Eaglemoon, PFC Sparks Campbell, and nine other soldiers bail out of the burning plane.
When they hit the ground, they are not in Afghanistan. Not only are they four thousand miles from their original destination but it appears they have descended two thousand years into the past where primitive forces fight each other with swords and arrows.
The platoon is thrown into a battle where they must choose sides quickly or die. They are swept along in a tide of events so powerful that their courage, ingenuity and weapons are tested to the limits of their durability and strength.
The four women in the unit are trained soldiers, skilled in the art of combat, but they are not prepared for the brutal reality of war. They are more than capable of fighting alongside the men, and, at times, defending the others in close quarters fighting. But when the battle is won, they must come to grips with their destruction of life.
The Seventh is forced to join Hannibal’s army and fight his battles, at least until they can find their way home. However, as their journey takes them over the Alps and down the length of Italy, friendship and even romance begins to form between these hardened soldiers from past and present. Powerful bonds that reshape each soldier’s hopes and dreams for the future.
Confessions of Eden is a thrilling espionage novel that follows Eden as she tries to balance her high stakes job with her personal life. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The writing bug bit me rather suddenly a few years ago while I was driving along Interstate 95, south of Washington, DC. I realized in that moment that I wanted my readers to get to know Michelle Reagan and to like her as much as I did. That rather simple thought led me down the complex path of shepherding her story from ethereal concept to a series of novels. I can only hope I’ve translated her essence onto paper well enough for readers to appreciate her complexity, empathize with her about the difficulty of the personal and professional decisions she has to make, and understand how it changes her over time.
Throughout the process of writing Confessions of Eden, it was Michelle who told me what to put down on paper and what to leave out! I just saluted smartly, and said, “Yes, ma’am!”
I enjoyed Michelle’s character development and how she gained more depth as the novel progressed. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I’m glad you enjoyed it! This book is a blend of places I’ve been, people I’ve worked with, and my own experiences in the field. They say you can only write what you know, so that’s what I did. I wanted to tell the story of Michelle’s journey and her struggles so readers can get to know this strong, brave, loving woman who’s unlike anyone they’ve met before. She faces intractable decisions and as the story unfolds, she reacts to the stresses of her life differently as she gains more experience on her team. The situations in which she finds herself force her to develop and mature, both personally and professionally, right before the readers’ eyes.
In your career you’ve worked with the FBI, DHS, and other government agencies. How has your experienced helped you write this novel?
I’ve worked in the Intelligence Community for most of the past thirty years. I’ve held a number of great positions from the field to management. I’ve had the opportunity to do everything from international nuclear treaty verification to running sources into foreign countries to seeing coworkers get burned by a double agent. This is a career field in which you experience a lot of highs and lows over time and has given me a lot of the seeds for elements of Michelle’s many adventures.
Over the past few decades, I’ve traveled frequently for both work and pleasure. Michelle Reagan’s story—her life, if you will—occurs in many of those locales and has been percolating through my mind for the past few years as a result of the things I’ve seen and done.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Michelle Reagan returns this fall in Directive One. The description for that book is already up on my website at http://www.ScottShinberg.com, where people can also subscribe to my newsletter. Those who do will be the first to hear of each future book’s release schedule. In the next book, the Director of the CIA is kidnapped, so Michelle and a team of Navy SEALs are sent to rescue him. I hope your readers will be able to read your review of it on Literary Titan later this year.
Michelle Reagan–code name Eden–is the CIA Special Activities Division’s newest covert action operator, an assassin, who struggles between wanting to succeed in her new profession for herself and her charismatic boss, and the moral quandaries of what she must do to innocent people who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although she faces seemingly intractable decisions as she executes her missions across the globe, the adversary most difficult to overcome may very well be her own conscience.
Through it all, only one man has ever called her an ‘assassin’ to her face. Someday, if she has her way, she’ll marry him–if she lives that long.
Phoebe Douse follows a young girl that gets invited to a mysterious school in Scotland where a world of fantastical possibilities starts to open. What was the inspiration behind this thrilling novel?
I was inspired by my personal life experiences, cultural heritage, and sparks of imagination. Also, I’ve always been an avid reader of all books—mysteries, adventures, history, contemporary, the classics, and the list goes on. With Phoebe Douse: S3A2, I wanted to blend elements of classical literature with those of a genre fiction.
Phoebe Douse is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character?
Thank you! I wanted to capture the themes of trust, self-discovery, and belief. Phoebe represents the journey of finding who we are, with the inevitable challenges and triumphs that we experience along the way. Further, Phoebe embodies the motif of the moon. The moon has always been special to me, and I believe it brings into the story the idea of our inner potential and the force, within and around us, that can help to empower us.
I felt like this book had a rich backstory. How much of that did you plan and how much of that developed organically?
The backstory started organically, and between intervals of my imagination, I intentionally infused the narrative with planned elements.
When and where will this book be available?
Phoebe Douse: S3A2 will be releasing September 30th, and is currently available for preorder on my website, http://www.lucillesamuels.com. After its release date, it will be available on Amazon and my website. Further, I’m establishing a contract with a major distributor so that it can be available through most retail channels and libraries.
Grandmother Naan’s superstitious stories seem too peculiar and childish to Phoebe Douse. It’s foolishness, as she likes to say. But when surprising and unfortunate circumstances in Texas lead her to accept a timely invitation to attend a remote boarding school, thousands of miles away in Scotland, Phoebe finds that everything is not what she made herself believe.
Unwittingly, Phoebe is thrown onto the stage of power and danger as events unfold that reveal the extent of her abilities and Naan’s connection to the school. There, Phoebe is introduced to the clandestine world of S3A2 and is forced to decide between her new friends and the promises of power and S3A2 status from the welcoming but strangely mysterious Headmaster Duff.
Will Phoebe be able to develop her abilities in time to protect her friends? Or, will she decide to use her abilities to fuel her own ambitions?
I, Claudia follows the life of Claudia Procula wife of Pontius Pilate. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
This book was not my idea. In fact, I planned to write the fifth in the Lindsey McCall series. Until a March day last year when this title and overall story appeared in my head. Pilate is a man with whom I began to feel a powerful affinity once I started praying the prayers of the Catholic Church. Not only could I sympathize with his awful dilemma, I felt that I could “stand under” it, having faced my own.
When Pilate was confronted with an impossible choice, he was wholly clear on the right action to take— and what was at stake if he didn’t— yet he was entirely incapable of bringing it to fruition. In his case, this was because of an oath. In my own, it was because of a promise.
You are able to weave fact with fiction in this book so well that it all seemed possible. How did you fill in the historical gaps with your story?
In bringing Pilate— and especially his bride— to life, I was moved to allow my imagination to embroider upon the little that is known about them. From the moment I began to conceive of this book, Claudia was Greek— a Delphine. Like anyone who has had the privilege of visiting Delphi, I found the place haunting and holy. There is mysticism in each pebble and echoes of the Oracles in the ruins of the temples. On a journey there alone, I could literally hear the whispered prayers of the ages as I made my way down through the crumbling ruins of the shrine. It is a sacred place. Claudia Procula could have been from no other place on earth. Giving Claudia a bit of a philosophical bent provided me with an excuse to revisit friends from a time when I believed in nothing.
The story is very well told and the world seems so vivid. What research did you undertake for this novel to keep things accurate?
The research necessary for this story, actually for every one of my books is considerable. Because I need to study and read enough to convey authenticity of character, place and time. Somewhere around a dozen books, scores of articles and many, many online virtual ‘tours’ of the ancient Roman, Israeli and Greek architecture, travel, geography, dress and cuisine.
Do you plan on writing other books in this blended fiction and historical fact format?
Yes, My Name is Saul; A Novel of the Ancient World is my next novel scheduled for release at the end of the year.
Claudia Procula–wife of one of the most controversial figures in ancient history–comes alive to twenty-first-century readers in a groundbreaking new novel by the award-winning author of the Lindsey McCall medical mystery series.
For decades, the daughter of the last Oracle at Delphi has suppressed the secrets of her birth, extensive education, and marriage to the notorious Fifth Prelate of Judea–Pontius PIlate. Now, at age seventy-nine, she feels compelled to leave behind her story for the world and set the record straight about the beginnings of modern history.
He has had his arms raised for how many hours now? Shouldn’t there be a Joshua to help this Moses? I suppressed a smile at my wittiness, knowing better than to voice the thought aloud. My ladies would be shocked by my allusion to the great Jewish prophet. Well aware of my reputation as an empty-headed nitwit among those who served my husband, such low expectations had served me well. Best to maintain the fiction.
In a surprising change of genre and style, Wilder brings her extensive research and wide-ranging imagination to bear on the seminal story of our time: the passion of the Christ. The result is a compelling and harrowing love story replete with historical figures such as Seneca, Socrates, and Pilate himself. It is sure to captivate both believers and skeptics alike, and remain in readers’ minds long after the last page is turned.
BUTTERBALL Goes to the Beach is an educational children’s picture book about a dog who explores the beach. What was the inspiration for the setup to this delightful book?
I’ve always enjoyed the beach environment and am fascinated by the range of different creatures that live in this setting. I thought it would be nice for children to read about a small dog meeting these creatures.
Do you have a dog or poodle of your own? Did you put any of their traits into the book?
Yes, I do have a miniature poodle, we live by the beach and he is a very inquisitive little dog.
I enjoyed the educational material sprinkled throughout the book. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope young children who share this book with an adult will have a better understanding of the different creatures that live in the marine environment. This book also might help them with numbers and counting.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Yes, I do have further plans for another book which should be published within the next 6-12mths. I have yet to decide whether it will be another book about Butterball or another canine character.
It is too dangerous to swim back to shore.
Who will save Butterball?
Butterball the poodle is the colour of butter and loves playing with a ball.
Join Butterball as she goes to the beach and meets Tickles the octopus, Starlet the starfish and Shelley the turtle.
The Dream Defenders follows Nolan as he navigates dreams that are becoming increasingly more real and deadly. What was the inspiration for the setup to this unique novel?
I have always enjoyed stories where the main character discovers the world around him is not what it seems, whether that’s by finding out he’s a wizard, learning of the existence of Gods and Goddesses, or discovering a portal to a different world in a closet. Secret organizations fall perfectly into this sort of magical realism, and I thought dreams would be a fascinating topic to explore and have a group that governs them. Once I got the ball rolling with that idea, I had to make sure that actions in the dream world had real life consequences otherwise the stakes were too low. And that’s how deadly nightmares came to fruition.
Nolan is an interesting and well developed character. What were some obstacles you felt were important to his character development?
Nolan is a pretty headstrong kid, and I thought it was important for him to learn that his actions have consequences, both good and bad. And not only do those consequences affect him, but those around him as well. When his family and new friends are placed in danger because of things he’s done, he understands this and works hard to rectify the situation. Because of this he goes from wanting nothing to do with his new baby brother, to stepping up to protect him when no one else will.
The dreamscapes were my favorite part of the novel and were wildly imaginative. What was your process like for bringing these worlds to life?
This is a fun process for me because I’m not bound by any sort of limitations. I can create any dreamscape I want, and there’s nothing that says it even needs to make sense. That said, most do make sense and are have some realistic elements woven into them, but often times I’ll insert an odd character to a regular situation, or change one or two things in a dreamscape to make it discernably different from real life. I may have missed the chance to thematically link them to the overarching theme of the novel, but above all else I just wanted most of them to be fun and provide an interesting backdrop to the story.
What is the next novel that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am currently working on the sequel to the Dream Defenders. I’ll send it to my editor in less than a month (yikes!) and I’m shooting for publication in early December
When fourteen-year-old Nolan Erling wakes up with a headache for the fourth straight day, he suspects the likely culprit to be any number of things—from his annoying baby brother, to vehicular crashes with his elderly neighbor, or even his questionable late-night food choices—not his dreams.
Aeryn Sandman knows the true cause, though. She is a junior agent with the DREAM Institute, a secret organization tasked with protecting the world’s population while they sleep, and she’s on her first assignment.
Her mission: infiltrate Nolan’s life—and his dreams—and keep him safe, all while persuading him to join their protective force.
But recruitment missions are no walk in the park, and Aeryn’s goes horribly wrong when Nolan’s powers unwittingly unleash two dream creatures locked away in a restricted area of the dream world. While Aeryn and Nolan search for ways to contain the escaped beings, they uncover a much greater conspiracy.
For these dreams can kill, and someone is orchestrating their actions in the dream world. If Aeryn and Nolan can’t figure out who is behind it, no dreamer will be safe, and neither will the organization that defends them.
Malthus Revisited is a genre-crossing novel with elements of science fiction, thriller, and religion as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
It’s interesting that you see elements of science fiction in Malthus. I have not been read that comment from another reviewer nor did I see it as science fiction while writing it. When I began the story, the main character, Dr. Lindsey McCall was well established because this is the 4th in the medical mystery series. The antagonist had been very briefly introduced in the previous novel, A Price for Genius. To me, the story is apocalyptic, ergo the title, even dystopian. The religion… well, I am a midlife convert and know well what life without faith feels like, so religion is a part of every story I write.
Some things in the book come off as possible, if not already happening. Did you take any inspiration from real life when developing this book?
My background is academic medicine and public health so yes much of what is in the book is not just possible but probable.
How did you create Lindsey and Rich’s characters in a way that contrasted yet still supported the characters development?
Although I never planned to write a series when I wrote the first Lindsey and Rich novel, The Fragrance Shed by A Violet, that first story cemented them in my mind. In each of the subsequent books they have enjoyed taking me on their roller coaster lives.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I, Claudia A Novel of the Ancient World was published in December of last year.
Currently I am writing, My Name is Saul also a novel of the ancient world. I expect it to be published by the end of this year.
Eighteen-year-old Morgan Gardner did not seem like someone who could save the world—unless you took the time to notice her eyes. And most people didn’t.
Morgan’s exceptional gifts were known only to her and to the animals she could understand better than people. For a long time, she told no one about her nightmares. Embarrassed and afraid that no one would believe her, Morgan waited until it was almost too late. Then she confided in her mom’s best friend, Dr. Lindsey McCall.
Lindsey and her husband Rich had worked hard to reestablish their lives and careers after their last harrowing escapade. Relocated in a beautiful California home and newly reunited with Lindsey’s biological daughter LJ, all seemed to be going smoothly—until an enemy from their past returned with as deadly a plan as they could imagine.
The fourth novel in Lin Wilder’s popular Lindsey McCall series is her best one yet—combining the innovative medical research her readers have come to admire with a new and terrifying threat to the world’s population: a biological timebomb. Vivid characters old and new rampage across the continents of Europe, Asia, and the U.S. to stop the contagion, picking up steam as they head toward a life-or-death climax in the remote Qinghai province of China.
Malthus Revisited adds a dystopian element to Wilder’s evolving Lindsey McCall mystery series, and is guaranteed to captivate both her loyal fans and eager newcomers to its last riveting page.
Sea Scope by Debbie De Louise is a psychological mystery about an incident that happened twenty years ago with effects that stretch into the present. Sarah Collins, a children’s book illustrator, agrees to visit her aunt for the summer to escape the problems in her marriage. But returning to Sea Scope, the inn her family owned when she was child, is not the ideal place for a relaxing vacation. Because Sarah’s family closed the inn and left town after a young man died under mysterious circumstances two decades ago. Now, someone is not happy that guests are returning to Sea Scope. Sarah and her aunt begin to receive menacing notes and texts claiming to be from Sarah’s dead brother, Glen. Who is behind the attempts to scare them away from Sea Scope? And what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?
I enjoyed the mystery behind this story immensely. I really like books that I have to work at solving the puzzle. There were lots of clues in this story and I spent most of the book trying to figure out how the pieces fit together. I was able to guess at a few things, but there were also a number of unexpected twists that surprised me.
I liked the pictures and information about lighthouses that were included in the book and I enjoyed learning about some of the history of different lighthouses in the United States. It was interesting to that get additional insight into the character of Michael.
The story started off a bit slow for me. I felt that there was an over abundance of backstory and setup with nothing much happening for the first several chapters. I felt that there some information that was mentioned multiple times, this along with a surplus of detail made the story feel slow. I wanted the mystery element to be introduced sooner, because it’s enthralling, and that would have really pulled me into the story. It wasn’t until after Sarah arrived at Sea Scope that the story started to grab my interest.
I liked the additional details that were conveyed by the flashbacks, but they were confusing because they were not in chronological order. And switching back and forth from first person narrative in the present and third person narrative in the past was a bit jarring at first, although I got used to it.
I’m glad that the story ended happily for Sarah, especially after the tragedies she’d already suffered and all the shocking secrets that she learned about her past. Sarah was an intriguing character that I enjoyed following through a superbly developed mystery that was unraveled perfectly.
Pages: 464 | ASIN: B07PPW1D41