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The Younglings: Fire & Magic

The Youngling gang of supernaturals is back in the second installment of Helena M. Craggs’ series. This time Quinn and his friends are more experienced, more determined, and have even more troubled spirits to clean up after. A wannabe vampire on the loose, stalkerish witches and the pressure cooker of first years of college mean that their break from the supernatural realm has well and truly come to an end.

The Younglings: Fire & Magic picks up from where it left off, continuing the journey of first loves, sexuality, friendship, loyalty and familial unity. The ongoing guidance of demon nanny Mrs. D was the feel-good stability and wisdom that can often lack in the young adult genre.

Narrated predominantly from Quinn’s perspective Helena M. Craggs has done well to maintain his humorous and charismatic character. The addition of storytelling from multiple perspectives created the perfect amount of angst to keep the reader feverishly turning pages and builds upon the logic and reason of characters the reader has already had the opportunity to understand.

The natural progression of the original characters truly shines through in this second installment. Eve and Quinn have matured immensely; tougher and more direct, they set the tone of the novel to be logical and infallible, genuinely growing into the ruling roles so heavily focused on in book one. An outstanding friendship dynamic with purposeful powers and personalities, Craggs has taken her time to evolve relationships through real-life themes young adults face. The romantic subplot solidified this novels place in the workings of a brilliant young adult read.

The Younglings: Fire & Magic is a lighthearted paranormal fantasy that takes young adult readers on an action-filled adventure. The supernatural characters are engaging and will have readers hooked from the start.

Pages: 340 | ASIN : B09YHMTV4Z

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Fore Play

Linda Sheehan’s Fore Play is a book that explores the beauty of golf and the intricate lives of those who play it. Set in a fictional Los Angeles sports club called Bellstone, the book’s storyline revolves around three main characters – Jody, Mandy, and Newt. It particularly focuses on the life of Jody – the granddaughter of the club’s founder – Forrest Wheeler.

Traumatized after the death of her grandfather, Jody stops playing golf. But her husband convinces her to try out the sport by joining the Bellstone club. Here, they cross paths with Mandy, Newt, and a host of other characters that significantly affect the couple’s life trajectory.

As Jody gets more involved in golfing and her work as a scientist, she becomes closer and closer to Jackson – a reserved caddy. Moreover, she begins to notice some of her husband’s unpleasant qualities. Ultimately, she, like the reader, comes to realize that all that glitters is not gold.

If there’s one thing that this book does well it’s that it highlights how far some people will go to gain social acceptance and praise. Using the lives of characters like Mandy, the author highlights how important it is for some people to appear rich, beautiful, and successful, regardless of who they hurt to achieve that. On the other hand, characters like Jackson remind us of how society overlooks anyone who seems different, poor, and unwilling to participate in posturing.

Another theme that is deeply explored in this book is the propensity of victims to become oppressors down the road. For instance, Mandy is bullied as a child and grows up to be a bully herself. On the other hand, Father Norm is abused as a child and grows up to manipulate people and the system to do his bidding. Ultimately, their stories parallel so many real-life ones, making them believable and relatable.

The author creates characters that are layered and interesting, making it easy to believe that this book could be inspired by real events. Even the way that the different golf games are described seems so real. It also helps that the book is written in simple language and even includes verses to popular songs that the characters listen to in different scenes.

Fore Play provides a unique and captivating look at life through some intriguing characters. This is a riveting and easy to read sports fiction novel that uses humor to assuage the darker moments of the human drama unfolding in this absorbing story.

Pages: 273 | ASIN: B09WCT3VHV

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Awaken! 

Awaken! A Collection of Poems is a chapbook written by Sylvia Sánchez Garza. This emotionally-charged collection is filled with poems covering topics like nature, the pandemic, immigration, social injustice, love and family, and deeply personal feelings that readers from all over will be able to relate to. This short collection has twenty-five poems and a glossary for those who do not understand the Spanish words included in the poetry. Each poem will leave the reader with something to think about.

Nature is one of the main themes in this collection, and many of the author’s poems use nature to express her thoughts on the world and what is happening. Two poems that I felt connected humans and nature well are Dance and Delusional Dream. Dance is a profound poem, taking a look at life from a flying bug. While the exact insect is not named, the perspective is eye-opening. Humans forget when they view these dancing bugs as an annoyance to their outdoor experience, these bugs have a short life span, and the outdoors is their only home. Fly swatters, and bug zappers take these creatures’ joy and short life away. With such a short time to live, they should dance and love just as we like to. Moving right from the fragile life of bugs, readers are given a poem on the fragility of human life. This heartbreaking poem talks about the pandemic and how much was lost during this time, human lives, dreams, experiences, and just living their lives.

Some of the other thought-provoking topics that Garza explores include immigration, migrant workers, fear, and the politics surrounding these issues. The poem Soar With The Angles made me cry. The words are chosen so artfully that each strike at different emotions. This poem says what so many have felt, and their voices went unheard when the events surrounding George Floyd occurred.

Not all the poems are dark or sad. Mr. Sunshine turns a gray morning rain into a thing of beauty and something to be welcomed and appreciated for its gift. It reminds readers that we must experience rain at times to grow and experience the beauty that the world has to offer us.

Awaken! A Collection of Poems is a beautifully written chapbook that is filled with introspective and passionate works that readers will not forget. Those who enjoy reading current and relevant poetry on contemporary society will find this expressive collection moving and filled with passion.

Pages: 44 | ASIN : B09N6QLQBG

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There Is No Perfect Way To Exist Or Heal

Author Interview H. Noah

Bluebird At My Window follows two lawyers as they work through the traumatic facts surrounding the case while dealing with their own. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

It’s funny, the start of Bluebird actually started in a creative writing class back in college around 2011. A writing prompt had us draw a color and an animal, then create a story from that pairing. I drew blue and bird and started writing the letter from Ann (the letter that shows up during the trial in the book). From there the idea for Arthur sprung up and for a while the story was just his. But overtime I added more perspectives until I had four of the five (Arthur, Richard, Marie, and Maddie).

It wasn’t until I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath that the real focus of the book came to me (mental health and processing trauma) as well as the importance of Diane’s story. As soon as I finished reading The Bell Jar I wrote the majority of Diane’s perspective and revisioned the story to better reflect the new direction of the book. I had already been building to the main focus of the story without realizing it but still needed to fine tune certain aspects.

This book is chilling and emotional. What drew you to the genre of dark contemporary and psychological fiction?

I think it drew itself to me to be honest. I’ve always been fascinated by the human mind, why people decide to do the best and worst things and what drives those decisions. For me the human experience is rarely black and white or just good or bad, so it was important to me to show the greys within my characters. To bring understanding to each without glorifying their more hurtful actions or decisions. When the focus of Bluebird became clear I let myself drift into the worst and best within each of them and when I finished writing I realized these two genres was where I ended up.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

It was important to me to highlight the individuality in responses to both mental health and trauma as well as unique lived experiences For each character. I gave my full attention to each with research, even if it covered topics that I had some background in. I also had several sensitivity readings done on the overall content with more focus on characters with lived experiences I did not have personal insight into in order to make the characters as realistic as possible.

In the end I was hoping readers would be able to find a character they connected with or have a part of the story speak to them. Something that could make them feel less alone and see that there is no perfect way to exist or heal.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The main project I’m working on is a Queer Historical Fiction which focuses on found family, finding comfort in your own skin, and the idea that soulmates aren’t always the people you fall in love with but the people who help you fall in love with yourself. Unfortunately the research for the project is proving to be more intensive than I first thought and will likely take more time to complete.

I am working on a second project in the meantime which I believe I can get out sooner. It is an Urban Fantasy with Horror elements. In short it will be Sapphic and about defying destiny, though as I have just started working on the first draft exact details are hard to pin down since they may still change. I’m hoping to publish it sometime in the fall of next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

When faced with trauma, how would you react?

Would you survive, succumb, or lose yourself to your own meaning of justice?

Ann was only seventeen when she died. She tried to be a dutiful daughter, to pray, to repent. But it wasn’t enough. Her mother, Diane, didn’t mean to kill her but when she found Ann consorting with devils, she had no choice. She believed the angels—that in the end, the water would save them both.

But every choice holds weight.

One death, and Arthur is thrown back into the work he wanted to leave. One death, and Richard must face the reality of his choices. One death, and Maddie and Marie are confronted with the hardest parts of love.

If only good intentions were enough to keep them from the carnage of their own decisions . . .

A dark contemporary fiction drenched in blood, this debut novel from H. Noah has an intricate true crime feeling with psychological depth.


Content WarningThe following book centers around processing trauma. Please be aware that it will touch upon such topics as violence, sexual assault (not overly descriptive), racism, microaggressions, misogyny, incest, and homophobia. This book also focuses on mental health and will cover depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation, hearing voices, religious fixations, delusions, self-harm, and drug abuse.
This book is dark due to the topics covered. This is not a horror or thriller meant to scare you. Please be kind to yourself and put the book back if you are not in a good place to read any of the things mentioned above.

Longing for You

Arianne Whiteley is a wealthy New Yorker, she has all that life can offer, but the dangerous men of this world are what she wants most. We see this unfold as she visits the state of Montana to visit a friend after they were kidnapped by their evil brother. While there, Arianne meets Lucas Grayson, a member of the notorious Pit Vipers. Lucas starts a tumultuous affair in hopes of using Arianne to his advantage, to the dismay of her bodyguard, Mark. But as their desire grows, so does trouble. Even with all the challenges they face, they won’t let anyone or anything come between them.

Longing for You by author Alessa Kelly has everything a good romance novel should have, suspense, lust, and angst. She hits all the elements without going into too much detail. The steamy scenes between Lucas and Arianne have enough description to get a feel for the moment without being over the top. Readers will find this is more than just a romance novel, there is a strong storyline that the romance is built into, rather than a romance novel with a flat backstory.

Kelly’s writing is entertaining, and there is never a dull moment with the characters she has created. The character development is well done and each of the protagonists is multi-layered and dynamic. There is action and suspense throughout the novel. I wanted to race to the end of the book to see what happens to our characters, but I also didn’t want it to end. I enjoyed Arianne’s character as she is a strong female that knows what she wants.

This fast-paced novel has an action-filled plot that will keep readers engaged from the beginning. The action and the story blend well together, giving the novel a cohesive feel while keeping readers on their toes as characters race from one dramatic moment to the next.

Longing for You is a well-written and exciting contemporary novel. Readers that are attracted to the genre of western literature with action and romance mixed in will find this book a great book to sit back and relax with.

Pages: 315 | ASIN : B09VD6PYR6

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Twist My Heart

Twist My Heart by author Brooke Taylor is the first book of the wicked games series. It narrates the story of a feisty fugitive trying her best to convince a retired Navy SEAL to help her and her dog.

Thea, or as Nik calls her, Tigger, suffers from amnesia, and the only thing she knows is that she’s on the run and must keep her dog Titan by her side. At first, the retired Navy SEAL is reluctant to help her, but he gives in. So they are on the run, trying to find out more about Thea’s past life and who’s looking for her. All the while, the sexual attraction between the two keeps on growing every minute they spend together.

Taylor’s descriptive writing style draws readers into the story and gives them the feeling they are on the run with Nik and Thea. Additionally, by incorporating both first and third-person points of view for the characters, readers will get a full view of the thoughts and actions that are occurring in this action-filled drama.

The book’s pacing is superb. There is never a dull moment between the on-the-run action and the building romance of Nik and Thea. In addition, the mystery of Thea’s identity as it unfolds is intertwined into the action and romance seamlessly. Altogether, this makes the novel engaging and fast-paced.

Character building is a strong element of Taylor’s writing. Thea is portrayed as a strong woman. However, I felt there were some scenes showing her as a damsel in distress that needed saving by strong warrior Nick. The instances where Thea did fight for herself were refreshing and exciting and more in line with the character that is built up by Taylor.

An interesting aspect of the story is Thea’s approach to amnesia, everything’s new to her, and she’s watching the world as if through a child’s eyes, giving the reader a unique point of view on everyday details that we usually don’t think about as we do them daily.

Twist My Heart is filled with heart-racing action scenes and steamy romance that will catch the attention of action and adventure readers and romance lovers. Watching the mystery of Thea’s identity and why she is on the run unfold will keep readers hooked from beginning to end.

Pages: 396 | ASIN : B08VJGQSKQ

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Bluebird At My Window

Bluebird At My Window by H. Noah is not the story of a single person, but multiple characters who found their voice in this book. All of those characters played a relevant part in the story and readers are able to understand their pains and purposes clearly.

It begins with a criminal case, the case of Ann, and the events turn more violent as time passes. Arthur and Marie are two lawyers involved in this case, and readers see the psychological impact this case has upon Arthur. Marie faces physical and sexual assault, and Arthur is also hurt while trying to help her. The trauma that follows is told in shocking detail as the author takes readers into the minds of the victims as they experience their emotions.

This complex book is a mixture of genres. It is filled with Biblical references, mystical elements, and mysteries. The author points out the racism faced by the characters, the crime, and the trauma they face, and readers will experience it firsthand. The case of Ann explores one part of the horrific event, whereas a parallel plot runs by in Arthur’s mind who wants to leave this world a better place but is unable to help much. The psychological peek into the mind of the characters provide a compelling study of human nature.

Marie and Maddie provide some instances of mental relief from the dark themes through their wholesome relationship. When Marie gets assaulted, and the trauma plagues her, it was realistic to read about the mental struggles she endured as well as the struggles of the people who love her. The acceptance of the events and the acceptance struggles surrounding entering therapy by the characters has been masterfully portrayed by the author.

Bluebird At My Window is a dark contemporary novel filled with vivid imagery and situations. Readers that enjoy psychological fiction, diving into the dark emotions of the characters, will find this a worthwhile read. Due to the graphic nature of content in this book, including emotional and physical trauma, I think this novel is intended for a mature audience.

Pages: 298 | ASIN : B09LD387NL

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Planet Q

One thing about Peter Quinones is that he will make you laugh no matter your mood. Peter’s creativity in the book, choice of words, and hilarious phrases he shares is enough to lift your spirits high. Planet Q is a comical, fascinating, creative, and entertaining book that both light readers and avid readers will enjoy. Planet Q is a book about story openers. Think about the last book you read. What was the opening line? How did you feel after reading the first line? Did it encourage you to keep reading, or did you stop after the first line? Peter Quinones, in his book, has listed hundreds of story openers that will help any aspiring writer know how to start writing.

The lines in this book are amusing, no doubt. His lines are also poetic. Reading this book, in a way, gets you to feel like you are reading a free-flowing poem. Reading the words in every sentence without stopping makes it even more intriguing. I appreciate the author for compiling the story openers as his work will help many novice authors and students that are passionate about literature. Apart from cracking the reader up, Peter Quinones also enlightens the reader on the importance of starting a story in a way that will capture your audience’s full attention. At no point does the reader feel bored as every page has something captivating. It is incredible how a few lines can get one absorbed in this form of literature.

Peter Quinones’ style of writing is unique. The author gets the reader absorbed in his work with just a few words. Every page in the book had a line that had me giggling. Some of my favorite story openers featured in Planet Q include: “Respect your parents, punk – they got through school without Google” “Have you ever known the despair of peeling wallpaper?”, “Dolores has so many skeletons in her closet, her apartment seems like a haunted house!” Some of the opening lines are risque, giving writers of multiple genres something to pull from.

Planet Q is a surprising book with a lot of comedy mixed in. The lines in this entertaining novel are things you will hear in your favorite songs, on social media jokes pages, and even hear from your favorite stand-up comedians.

Pages: 120 | ASIN : B09Q3JY3P1

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