Seeing is believing… most of the time. In the case of Sinnie, to see her one would never believe that she is a fairy. For all intents and purposes, Sinnie is strong-willed, highly-trained, woman of confidence and skills. Descending from the Captain of the Queen’s Guard himself, Sinnie has everything she could possibly want and knows where she is headed in life–but something is missing. Much to her family and friends’ chagrin, that something is an unseelie, one of the darkest members of the fairy world. Sinnie’s heart knows what it wants and, unfortunately, her heart wants Hueil.
Bound Darkly, the second in the Darkly series by Tarrant Smith, primarily follows Sinnie, a strong woman and fairy–one of the seelie clan. Sinnie, though a fairy, is battling many of the same feelings as any mortal when it comes to love. She knows what she wants, but is leery of pursuing it for fear of the reactions of others. Like many a mortal woman, Sinnie is attracted to the rebel–the bad boy–and Hueil is, without a doubt, one of the worst. Their story more than makes the book a worthwhile read. The chemistry between the two and the true feelings of love experienced by Hueil are raw and relatable.
Hueil is a well-developed character and appealing in all the wrong ways. Readers will love to hate him and likely grow to understand very quickly Sinnie’s attraction to him as the bad boy. Smith goes to great lengths to make Hueil as colorful as possible and details everything from his exploits to his determination to have Sinnie and to do the job with which he has been tasked.
Jen, another fairy but not Smith’s main focus in this installment, possesses a unique ability that I found to be quite captivating. The emotional shielding Jen is able to demonstrate is an amazing facet of her personality and life as a fairy. Though it is draining and taxing, watching her put it into play is fascinating.
In my opinion, Bound Darkly easily fits into two genres. It is clearly a beautifully crafted work of fantasy with the fairy realm as its primary focus. Warriors and fairies alike have the most unique and stunning powers. Their abilities keep the pace of the book moving and the amount of action in the book is perfect when compared with some books that seem to be overfilled with such scenes. In addition, Smith gives her characters a fair amount of romantic encounters and is especially explicit in detailing their escapades.
Smith has succeeded in offering readers a sequel to Book 1 that is easy to follow for those new to the series. I highly recommend Smith’s second book in the Darkly series to any reader who seeks books with a combination of fantasy and romance.
Pages: 338 | ASIN: B0041OSG66
High Flying, written by Kaylin McFarren tells the story of Skylar Haines, a talented young pilot. This is a complex story, filled with both suspense, drama and themes of love, the complexities of family, self-harm and sacrifice.
The main character, Skylar has been orphaned – her father died before she was born and her mother died when she was seven years old. She lives with her stern and seemingly uncaring Grandfather. This has left a huge and detrimental impact on her life. The reader is plunged into the pain Skylar is suffering on the very first page, as Skylar retreats into her bathroom with a box cutter. She proceeds to self-harm, sitting desperately alone on her bathroom floor.
Skylar has found some solace in her new passion – flying, in particular stunt planes. Her enthusiasm and passion for flying are evident; as is her feelings for Jake Brennan, describing him as “an artist” in the cockpit. This new-found happiness proves to be short lived, as she flies into a storm when performing with Jake at an air show. After colliding with another plane she is transported back in time, where she is able to witness the poor choices her parents made that have led to her current life.
High Flying switches between modern day Nevada (2013 and 2018) and back in time to before Skylar was born. The story is however, predominantly set back in time – eight months before she was born, twenty-one years ago. I enjoyed the description of the town, in both the past and present, it was vivid and convincing.
The plot is generally easy to follow and logical. The plot is otherwise grounded and believable, other than the time travel bit. But the ending makes up for this by being quite believable and realistic.
Most of the characters are well developed. Their body language and vocabulary help discriminate between characters. We meet many characters when Skylar travels back in time, the ones that link to her present life are easy to follow but the addition of many other characters can be difficult to follow. But I truly enjoyed the relationships between the main characters and found the tension between the two both engrossing and believable. But some of the minor characters and their relationships are not quite as well developed.
Overall the story is engaging and entertaining. I highly recommend it.
Pages: 277 | ASIN: B07QYH3CD4
Lily says she has “no upbringing,” and she insists she isn’t cultured, refined, or very civilized for that matter. She is quick to list her faults and shortcomings and lacks a certain amount of self confidence that frustrates those who know her best. From the loss of family members to the reluctant discovery of her own true love, she survives battle after battle on her own two feet. As a young woman striving to make her way in Ontario in the 1850s, Lily begins to realize that the bonds she holds most dear are those that will last a lifetime.
Lily Fairchild, by Don Gutteridge, details the life of a young woman through the challenges of her youth and simple roots into adulthood and the quest to have a family of her own. Gutteridge’s main character, Lily, is an amazing woman indeed. The author has developed within her a wide spectrum of characteristics into which he delves in much depth.
Lily Fairchild is a work of historical fiction which includes numerous aspects of the day and time. From the time of Lily’s youth, Gutteridge pulls readers into one event after another by describing real and relevant historical events and the ways in which they impact Lily’s life and that of her family and friends. Throughout the book, Gutteridge peppers his plot with enough historically accurate facts to keep fans of historical fiction satisfied and engaged while keeping Lily’s experiences in perspective.
Most of Lily’s life is fraught with tragedy, but the author provides moments of levity to lighten the overall mood. Lily’s first experience with the clergy is quite a sight to behold. When she questions the reverend and riles him with doubts and requests for clarification, the reader is left smiling at the reverend’s frustration. This is also one of the first scenes in which Lily proves her own intelligence and demonstrates her wit.
Gutteridge has given Lily a wide range of challenges that would completely wreck most people–not the least of which is an untimely and unplanned pregnancy which places her in quite the social predicament. Her brief encounter with royalty led to one of her most heart wrenching ordeals and, in some ways, brought Lily closer to her extended family.
Sophie, a vibrant character in her own right and one of my favorites in the book, is as lovable as she is brash. From her first encounter with Lily during childbirth, Sophie endears herself to readers as much as she does to Lily. Sophie’s storyline is timely and poignant and captures readers’ hearts as they watch her face the battle of domestic violence.
Gutteridge’s novel takes readers on a fascinating journey of ups and downs as Lily grows, faces the aftermath of each of her battles, and proves herself more than worthy of being called a heroine. As a work of historical fiction, Lily Fairchild is a real masterpiece.
Pages: 628 | ASIN: B07SW1N5NS
Through Me to You: A Life Through Poetry, Stories and Songs by Eve Wick is a collection of writings that span the author’s life from age thirteen to the present. A verse of Bible scripture accompanies each poem, story, and song, and the author uses these Bible passages to show that no matter what a person is going through, they can find an answer in God’s word. The purpose of this book is to inspire and encourage others who may be going though a difficult time in their lives, and it focuses on a wide range of emotions, from despair to hope, friendship, and love.
I enjoyed reading the poems, short stories, and songs in this book. I liked the connection between the Bible verses and the author’s own writing, which illustrated that even though the Bible was written thousands of years ago, God’s teachings still have meaning and power in the present, and people can find peace in the written word of God. I especially enjoyed reading the author’s short stories throughout the book, which were a bit longer in length than the poems.
Some of the scriptures seemed much more fitting to the author’s writing than others. When there was not as strong a link between the two, a different scripture could have been chosen instead. And if no more appropriate verse could be found, then I would have preferred not to have a scripture accompany that piece, since it seemed to take away some of the impact from the poems and stories that were much more closely linked to the accompanying scripture.
The verses that accompany the song lyrics seemed particularly fitting, which led me to believe that some of the songs are likely based on those specific Bible passages, giving them the strongest connection between the author’s writing and the words of the Bible.
This is an exceptional piece of work that I heartily enjoyed reading.
Pages: 118 | ASIN: B0794HFFVX
Upon reading through the first page of Two Years of Wonder, it becomes immediately apparent that the story is one of trials and tribulation. The author, Ted Neill, begins his story conveying feelings of helplessness and despair and then backtracks, taking the reader through all the various difficult experiences that led him to the point of nearly killing himself. It is a long and complex collection of stories, each showing a different part of Neill’s experience as well as why the work he was doing was so important.
Neill starts his journey as a young man from a good university having a desire to do something more. Then, after getting some public aid experience under his belt, he ends up in The Rainbow Children’s Home in Kenya working with children suffering from the HIV/AIDS virus. The “long and complex collection of stories” are each focused on another child in their particular battle with the virus.
Neil spent approximately two years in Kenya working with the children from The Rainbow Children’s Home, and we observe through his methodical storytelling how he is changed through his shared experiences with these children. The result is a feeling of hopelessness and about clinical depression for the author. In part, Neil’s battle for mental health juxtaposed with the challenges facing the children he worked with is what makes this story so unforgettable. You cannot help but empathize with each and every character in the chapters of this book, including the storyteller himself.
Readers expecting a simple, straightforward approach to the narrative behind the story might be in for a little bit of a surprise. While the author does take an autobiographical approach to relaying is story at times, much of what we learn comes from the individual stories being told in parallel. Each piece of the story informs the greater message, and the more we understand about that greater message the more meaningful the smaller stories become. The writing feels genuine and heartfelt, making it easy to get pulled into Neill’s world.
This book easily deserves five out of five stars for its brutal honesty, impeccable storytelling, heart wrenching journey into the lives of so many sufferers, and for the author’s ability to make readers understand what the children in The Rainbow Children’s Home lived through between 2002 and 2004, in Kenya. It is no easy task to relay the extremes of the human experience while also showing the delicate nature of human interaction. Ted Neill’s work on “Two Years of Wonder” is certainly inspiring.
Pages: 282 | ASIN: B07JJQKZGF
The Astral Surge follows two siblings as they are exposed to two different forces of nature. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this novel?
The inspiration comes from a deep reflection on life in general. Consequences and repercussions, both positive and negative, happen for all of our actions in life, maybe not as cinematically as how they unfold in the novel. But, I feel that’s one of the most exciting components of story-telling. As long as we keep our characters as real and as human as possible, we can confidently throttle up their life situations to even some surrealistic levels. Readers would still connect to the bizarre events because they’re already ‘connected’ to the characters at a subliminal psychological realm that mirrors their own.
Catherine and Ron are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some themes you wanted to explore with their characters?
The driving factor was the adage ‘You’re free to make your choices. But, you aren’t free from the consequences of your choices.’ Choices could be positive or negative. So, the logical drop-down to this main thought is one of the siblings – Catherine – making all positive life-choices and the other – Ron – choosing to go with the wrong decisions. The intricately weaved after-effects of their respective choices add flesh and blood to the entire story.
In this book, you explore how positive and dark energy can affect someone’s life. What were some ideas that were important for you to focus on in this book?
The idea springs from the premise that all of us are infinitesimal extensions of the Cosmic Energy… just like how every life-organism of the Earth is. But, by virtue of being endowed with the sixth sense, we humans can consciously connect to this Energy and, in turn, let it intervene and make corrections where required. It is this premise that opened the door for a ‘paranormal fiction’. Logically tying the life events of Ron Osborne, Catherine Osborne, and Peter Fox, the story culminates in Andrea Osborne (Catherine’s and Ron’s mom) becoming active after her death to stop Ron on his diabolic mission and facilitate the needed catharsis.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am yet to start working on the next story but yes… the plot that’s hovering over my mind seems quite a potential that could constructively engage my readers. I’m waiting to be led. Thank you.
Two siblings, Catherine Osborne and Ron Osborne, are actively exposed to nature. One to its positive energy and the other to its dark side. Both of them are rewarded for their dispositions in an ethereally terrifying sequence of events that culminates into an astral intervention and ultimate catharsis.
Worship of Hollow Gods is a provocative book that challenges the ‘hollow gods’ we worship. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Worship Of Hollow Gods was an important vehicle for Jim to continue to extricate himself from the “hollow gods” his family was immersed in.
You examine family, faith and the secrets we hold. What are some themes that were important for you to capture in this book?
Yes, the unquestioned soul-robbing hollow gods were family, alcohol, and the church.
I appreciated how you approached these sensitive topics. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
What we’ve seen over and over again is the reader leaving a review/telling us how this book helped them take a different look at the family “norms” they grew up with.
What are were some reader reactions that surprised you?
The only response that was surprising was the one star review on Amazon by someone who was impatient with all the descriptions and details and saw Jim’s character as “screwed up” blaming his parents and got bored. But, that’s not surprising from someone not interested in people’s internal lives.
In Worship of Hollow Gods, James Sniechowski bears witness to the world of a sensitive, nine-year-old boy, subjected to the underbelly of his Polish Catholic family in working class Detroit. The year is 1950. The family gathers for a Friday night family poker/pinochle party. The outcome reveals a world no one ever talked about then and are forbidden to talk about now—the unspoken, the impermissible, the reality beneath every family’s practiced facade—and what lies beneath when the front has been ripped away.
Miss Morris Must Die is a murder mystery novel taking place in 1950’s England. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
My inspiration for writing the book was my love of anything Agatha Christie and realised one day that as far as I’m aware, no one has ever been murdered on a murder mystery weekend when this has been a book plot. The women, with the exception of Becca, were designed to be selfish and thoughtless to contrast with Becca’s own kind nature.
The clues, like any good mystery, play a central part. How did you go about creating an intricate mystery like this?
This book has taken me a few years to write and develop. It has been an organic process and I started off with one idea of ‘What if’ and went from there. I tend to write all my books this way with a basic plot idea, then I watch them develop!
Will you be publishing this book? If so, when and where will it be available?
I have submitted this book to a publisher – it’s the first in a three-book series where Becca and Peter are the main characters.
My Name is Erin, and My Mom’s an Addict is a fictional story of a young girls struggle to accept her mother back into her life after drugs destroyed their bond. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
I am very close to someone who is helping raise her grandchildren because of their parents’ addictions. When I decided to start writing a book, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write about. One day, after spending some time with the kids I mentioned, I thought about how tough this must be for them, and I realized that a lot of people are raising children who aren’t theirs because the kids’ parents are addicts. I looked online to see if there were any books out there for kids who are going through similar situations, but I couldn’t find any; so I decided I’d write a book for them. I wanted the book to: entertain them, hold their interest, and let them know that they’re not alone. I wanted them to understand that their parents’ choices do not define them.
Erin is an interesting character and I enjoyed watching her develop throughout the book. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
For years, Erin has lived with hurt, which eventually turns to hurt and anger. She yearns for her mother’s love, but at the same time, she’s angry at her mom for leaving her and is terrified that if she opens her heart to her mother, her heart will end up broken again. As she becomes close to both Grace and George she learns that Gram & Pap aren’t the only people she can trust. Erin also begins to understand that her mother’s addiction has absolutely nothing to do with her. Often, loved ones of addicts feel like they can fix an addict, but the reality is that nobody but the addict has any control over his or her choices. Erin learns in her dealings with Jimmy that she is not the only person who may have something going on at home… something that is embarrassing and that a kid wouldn’t want their peers to know about. She begins to see her own flaws, not only because they’re pointed out to her, but also because she sees a bit of herself in Jimmy. She doesn’t want to continue the angry outbursts and drive away the people who genuinely care about her.
This story deals with drug addiction and how it affects families. What is a common misconception you find people have about addiction?
A lot of people assume that addicts are bad people and that they are worthless. Yes, addicts do bad things, but so do people who have never even tried drugs or alcohol. I’ve known several recovering addicts and all of them are kind, intelligent, funny and talented.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I plan on starting the next book in late June of 2019. In all of the feedback I’ve received, readers have told me that they want me to continue on with Erin’s story—I like Erin, so I’m happy to comply. Hopefully, it will be done and ready to go by this time next year.
Raised by her grandparents when her mother chooses drugs over her daughter, Erin knows she isn’t like other kids. Then her world is shaken a second time by her mother’s reappearance.
Being a teenager is never easy, but just when Erin thinks she has her life on track, her mother shows up and warms her way back into Erin’s life. Can an addict really ever kick the addiction? How many lives will be affected?
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GEORGE MACDONALD (1824-1905), forerunner of the Inklings–Scottish minister, poet, novelist, and imaginative seer– was one of the most beloved Victorian authors throughout Great Britain and the U.S. in the 19th century. He wrote some 50 volumes of novels, poetry, short stories, fantasy, sermons, and essays. His influential body of work placed him alongside his era’s great men of letters and his following was vast. Two decades after his death, his books were pivotal in leading C.S. Lewis to Christianity. He thus became the foundational member of Wheaton’s Wade Center “Seven.”