The Early Years: A Memoir (Matters of the Heart Book One) by Rachel G. Carrington is an autobiography that tells the story of a young girl who was born in Kentucky in 1930. Rachel Gaylord is the oldest of eleven children, and she leaves home at seventeen. This book is a collection of short stories about her growing up and life as a young adult getting married and starting a family. These stories were taken from her journal entries that were written throughout her lifetime, beginning in her teenage years.
The Early Years is a heartfelt story of young love. Brad Carrington had an interesting story to tell Rachel after he walked her home from church, and it kept me wanting to read more. I enjoyed the descriptions of daily rural life in the 1940s, such as cooking on a woodstove, gardening, canning, and laundry, which were reminiscent of stories I have heard from my own grandparents about their experiences living on a farm. I could picture scenes similar to old family photographs I’ve viewed. Some of the stories in this book were of separate unrelated incidents, but most of the stories connect to others in a related chain of events. Many of the stories were humorous, including the wedding night chivaree.
This a touching memoir that explores a young couples relationships, and shares the high and lows one woman experiences. While I enjoyed the story, I sometimes had trouble connecting things because some events were not in chronological order. There are many interesting people that come into Rachel’s life, I thought it would be helpful if the author included a family tree to make it easier for me to connect all the people. Many of the scenes are delightfully detailed, but since this is a true story I had a desire to see what these people and places actually looked like and I would have really liked to have seen some photographs.
I desperately wanted to continue reading Rachel’s story to find out what happened after she and Brad moved their family to northern Kentucky. This is where Book Two, Dreams Born; Dream Fulfilled, picks up Rachel Gaylord Carrington’s life story. The Early Years: A Memoir is an absorbing and emotional memoir that readers will surely enjoy.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B08TQKHQPC
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First Second Coming has a new God replacing the old one and wants to test humanity’s ability to eliminate violence or face extinction. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
Although I didn’t start writing the novel until 2015, the concept that planet earth needs a planetary turnaround specialist came to me while I watched the World Trade Center’s towers collapse on 9/11.
Prior to that horrible event I’d been in the building many times, the last time being in May, a few months before the attack. I had in the WTC and my law firm did annual conferences at the Top of the Tower conference center there and knew some of the staff. As the towers fell I worried about everyone inside, whether I knew them or not.
The idea of writing a story around a planetary turnaround specialist re-emerged when I sat down to try to write my first novel. Ram and Bren’s names and histories, an outline of a basic plot and three possible endings flowed out in one sitting. It was as though I’d developed all that subconsciously in the intervening fourteen years between 9/11 and 2015.
I enjoyed Ram and Brendali’s characters. What were some driving ideas behind their character development and relationship?
My character development was an effort to have Ram and Bren share some common features but respond to them in entirely different ways. For example: Both of them shared a blue collar upbringing and had to deal with traumas. While Ram’s childhood traumas made him reject religion and become self-reliant, Bren’s traumas made her embrace Catholicism and rely on her relationship with (the now retired) god. In this way the two of them could relate to one another while coming from entirely different emotional spaces.
I also wanted Ram and Bren to be able to exemplify the book’s themes (discussed below) in their attitudes and interactions, while understanding that they are opposites in temperament and personalities. The idea was that they’d be able to complete each other, supply strength when needed or bolster weaknesses when required – an example of the opposites attract concept.
The relationship these two developed is entirely different. When I began writing I didn’t know that some authors get so close to their characters that they can actually hear them. That happened to me – I’m neither female nor Latina, so hearing Bren in my head the first time was jarring. But I got used to it and began to enjoy the experience.
Before long Bren was waking me up at around 4 a.m. to tell me what was going on in the next chapter I was writing. I let her shape the romance aspect of the story since she was hot for Ram and he was mutually attracted to her.
I hadn’t expected a romantic relationship, it simply developed. I was fine with that since it contrasted with the suspense elements and provided lighter moments that allows readers to catch their breaths every so often. The relationship also deepened both characters and gave them a personal stake in the outcome of the “Convocation” that serves as the novel’s motor. Taken all together, there was no reason not to let Bren and Ram fall in love.
What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
Because this novel was inspired by 9/11, I wanted to stay true to event thematically. I felt that the best way to honor all those who died that day was to use religious violence as the test the new God employs to determine whether or not humanity would be included in the planetary turnaround plan.
That meant the themes had to be related in some way. The obvious connection, at least to me, was to adopt the themes of tolerance, acceptance and cooperation. Bringing members of religions from all over the world to work together or face extinction struck me as the right vehicle for demonstrating the need for these attributes.
I had no idea when I chose these themes that we’d be in the world we’re in right now, when tolerance, acceptance and cooperation are in such small supply. So these themes are more significant and relevant than I expected. But that’s an added bonus.
This is Book one in The New God Series. What can readers expect in Book two?
I’m working on book two now. It has a working title of Earth’s Peril. I’m too early into the book to be able to estimate when the book will be ready for publication, but 2022, if not sooner, seems to me to be a reasonable guess.
Posted in Interviews
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LoveQuest by Pamela Jean Horter-Moore is the story of Psyche, a mortal girl blessed by the goddess Aphrodite with great beauty. She is so lovely, that she receives admirers wherever she goes. When Psyche offends Aphrodite, by seeking the approval of her envious sisters and taking her beauty for granted, Aphrodite decides to take revenge. Using her son, Eros, she attempts to punish Psyche to a loveless life. But things backfire because Eros falls in love with Psyche. Both are torn between their families and their love for one another. They must decide what is most important in life.
I am fascinated by Greek mythology with its heroes, monsters and gods, so I knew I was going to love this book before I had even started! This is an epic love story based on an original Greek myth that we know and love, but it is fleshed out with a unique narrative and a fresh take on the characters. Although it is primarily a story of romance, there are obviously fantasy aspects in there–the author excels at writing both genres and combines them expertly. Through a great feat of imagination, Horter-Moore has put a really creative and refreshing twist on what could have been a stale story.
Horter-Moore’s prose is a joy to read, it is straightforward whilst being eloquent and descriptive. It flows beautifully throughout with quite a dream-like tone which captures the milieu perfectly. The narrative is based more on internal thoughts and feelings rather than dialogue, which gives us great insight and understanding of the characters motives and desires. When there is dialogue, it is actually quite modern, for instance, “Why do we have to spend every vacation here?” whined Tanna.“That oracle never has anything interesting to say…”Although this could have felt inauthentic, I actually thought that it was a great way of making the tale more accessible and up to date. The author particularly excels at writing place, and the setting of ancient Greece is magically conjured; it is a world full of gods, superstition, soothsayers, seers and magic. The prose is extremely evocative of scenery and I felt transported to the slopes of Mount Olympus.
The characters really come alive on the page, and they are portrayed with such sensitivity- -the author isn’t afraid of illustrating their flaws and complexities. The relationship between the sisters Medea, Tanna and Psyche are particularly well portrayed, illustrating all of the complicated feelings of jealousy and yearning for approval. The love between Eros, who is the perfect mate, and Psyche, who is deeply imperfect, feels very genuine, and I felt completely invested in their relationship.
Although this is a story of Gods and mortals living in a time unlike our own, the narrative reminds us that ultimately any human heart can suffer and love in universal ways. This is a great read for any lover of myth, fantasy or romance, and I look forward to more from this author!
Pages: 186 | ASIN: B06XTX3TFH
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In The Guardians of Eastgate Maelona, one of the four champions of the Seer race, is tasked with protecting the realm of Sterrenvar from an ancient evil that threatens the land. Maelona struggles to protect the very people who once hunted and killed the Seer race out of fear and mistrust. Maelona and the other Seers fight to protect four keystones from being breached by evil forces. Maelona soons finds that this proves to be an incredibly difficult job. Is she up to the challenge? She teams up with her friends, a wolf shape-shifter, and a human prince, on her quest to save Eastgate from destruction against evil forces.
The Guardians of Eastgate by Sherry Leclerc was an amazing read. The first edition felt more like an outline of the story it didn’t dive into the detail or flesh out the characters. It felt more like a summary of an existing story. This second edition was far better, from extended scenes to extended dialogue which makes helps to develop a rich and complex plot that is both easy to follow and leaves you wanting more.
Leclerc takes us on a beautiful journey in a world filled with fantastical creatures, sorcery, shape-shifters, swords and so much more. It was an interesting choice to make a standard figure of fantasy, the seer, into an entire race of guardians. I cannot wait to explore more of this race in the coming series. They are fascinating, but I felt we’ve only seen the surface of a vast ocean.
I was impressed with the complexity and variety of the story line. The author expertly combines elements of romance and mystery into a suspenseful read, that includes an array of compelling characters. The romance between between Maelona and Blaez was intriguing, and lends to the emotional appeal of this novel, but the story is punctuated by some intense fight scenes. If you’re looking for fight scenes that are realistic, Sherry Leclerc has a third dan black belt in Taekwondo, and her expertise is apparent.
This 2nd edition of The Guardians of Eastgate, I felt, allows this series to really take off. It’s an appropriate start to a series that is brimming with potential on par with the Dragonlance series. I will definitely be looking out for the next book. I loved traveling with Maelona on her journey and can hardly wait to meet the next champion. You will be sure to enjoy this book if you enjoy magic, sword & sorcery, action. adventure, and romance.
Pages: 189 | ASIN: B079X5D9Q1
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Sometimes the past declines an offer to stay back there. Past lives will often come right around to haunt and demand closure.
Braxton Snow left his village life behind. He often feels out of place in the big city but no matter. He loves his Furlton life. He may have been a village boy but the city has embraced him. His life is not perfect but he loves it still. His private investigation practice feeds, clothes and houses him. He is dating a beautiful white tail jackrabbit. His family would never accept Joanna, to them she would be dinner. However, this is not a matter of concern. His family is not part of his life anymore. She is beautiful, funny and she cares about him, which is all he wants out of a life partner.
Braxton’s life is pretty silent save for the occasional exciting case. One day Catharina Nelson seeks him out for his investigation services and the course of his life changes, unbeknownst to him. The red fox hires him to find Oscar Sullivan. Oscar is an archeologist who is looking into the mystery of the hairless apes which has gone extinct. The case seems pretty open and shut but in the preceding days, it gets more and more complex. For one, Braxton is not the only one searching for this man. This would not be a problem if both parties were on the quest with the same goal in mind.
With the case’s complexity comes danger. Soon, Joanna becomes a target for these dangerous characters. Braxton finds himself back in the hands of the family he abandoned and is not well received. This is a problem not only because of their treatment of him but also because they are a threat to his beloved’s life.
How far will Braxton have to go to save his fiancé? Will they survive the trip through the glacier?
Danny Estes presents a book filled with mystery and suspense. The characters are animals but the reader will barely notice their animal quality. This is due to their deeply illustrated personalities. The story is captivating and gripping and every description is vivid. The opening of the book gives us a look into Braxton’s life and grounds the background so that it becomes believable. You get a sense of his usual routine, which makes the case coming his way much more exciting, because you understand what he’s left behind.
Braxton Snow is written in first person narrative which is quite impactful to the reading experience, but it’s still an easy read that I enjoyed because of it’s unique perspective. The tone is informal and lighthearted. Conversations between Braxton and Joanna are especially heart-warming and so ordinarily special.
Braxton Snow P.I. is targeted at a wide audience exclusive of children. Don’t think that this story if for kids just because there are animals in it. This is a thrilling adult story for anyone who enjoys action, mystery and fantasy along with some steamy romance. This book is an enjoyable read. Definitely deserving of five stars.
Pages: 203 | ASIN: B073TGWGYS
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Like Peaches and Pickles follows Georgia Davis as she fights to maintain her position in a work place that is quickly changing. Georgia has worked her whole life for her success. But just as her career goals are about to come to fruition the new University President hires an old friend of his. New Vice President Carl Overstreet quickly sets himself up to be the sour pickle in this story. Easily unlikable, but somehow, Georgia has a romantic connection with the man that the rest of the staff is plotting to overthrow. With her job on the line, and soon her reputation, Georgia is faced with the adage; when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
While Georgia Davis fights to maintain the success she has we get to see office politics play out in a entertaining yet believable way that leaves Georgia endearing. If you’ve ever worked in an office then you can easily place these characters into your own workplace. Far too often have I seen people like Carl Overstreet walk over people like Georgia Davis in my career. It’s nice that this book looks at those relationships and expands them in a story that moves along quickly with smart writing and easy prose.
While Carl sets out to, seemingly, directly offend everyone, somehow, Georgia has romantic feelings for him. I don’t want to ruin things here so I won’t say more, but I will say that things don’t end up the way you think they might, which was a nice plot twist for me and one of those small examples that kept me turning pages just to see what happens next.
Georgia is doing all that she can to remain a great team player and save the public face of the University. Unfortunately, members of her team have concocted a way to get the Vice President fired at the cost of their most valuable team member, Georgia. I enjoyed the soft of internal office war that breaks out as people begin to realize that others are plotting and scheming; that could end up giving the University a bad name.
I liked that this book felt familiar to me. It allowed me to easily empathize with the characters. It’s so hard not to give away so many juicy details here, but rest assured, you will want to read this book for yourself. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great drama in a professional setting with a hint of romance.
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 1612969798
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The Consort Conspiracy follows Kate who travels to to Georgia to cover a story only to get embroiled in the towns dark history. What was your inspiration for this thrilling novel?
The inspiration for this novel is actually one of my favorite parts of the story. While I have been a writer in some form or another my whole life, I had never done much with it other than a couple of short stories and poems. But I visited the Midway Cemetery in Georgia–yes, it’s a real place–in 1997 because I knew it contained the graves of signers of The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. I went there for the history. But as I wandered the oldest part of the cemetery, I stumbled upon the Robarts family plot with death dates in the early 1700s. One grave was for the wife of William Robarts and right next to her grave was that of Ann Evelyn Robarts, listed as “The Consort” of William. My first thought was indignation, since I interpreted “consort” to mean “mistress” (my research later told me, however, that “consort” was simply another name for “spouse”). My second thought was of deep sorrow when I read the epitaph that stated she was only seventeen-years-old when she died and was buried with her two infant daughters. Immediately, my mind started spinning with a myriad of jumbled thoughts that ranged from “Oh how horrible to die so young with so much to look forward to,” all the way to “This happened so long ago…how could anyone today be certain that these deaths actually happened the way it’s written here…what if one of the little girls had lived?” I felt so strongly about it, it was as if Ann Evelyn, herself, had reached out from the grave. A story began to take shape in my heart…and it was one I knew I had to tell.
This book was filled with lots of great twists. Did you plan these or did they develop organically as you were writing?
The main twist about Kate’s ancestral roots was the first one I thought of and, in fact, in the very first iteration of this story–written long hand on four yellow legal tablet sheets for an early writing class–developed that one twist and only covered the crypt and its contents. As my writing instructor and friends encouraged me to expand on the story, I knew that more things needed to happen and be intricately woven together. I needed to figure out what caused Katherine to die at such a young age in the first place–yes, women did die of childbirth all the time back then, but that was too easy–and not very exciting in a thriller. So the reason Katherine died led to the story line of not only the circumstances prior to her death, but also of what catapulted the Penningtons into the most powerful political position in the world. And once that happened, the events that transpired to bring them karmic justice–family come-uppance, if you will–also spawned a story line. All of the other twists simply presented themselves to me “organically,” as you said, in the course of the writing.
I enjoyed how each character had their own voice and was meticulously developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing your characters?
I really love it that you asked that question because as a writer, one of my fears has always been that people will think my characters are shallow. I have been thrilled to find out that’s not the case. The characters in the two-hundred-year-old story were probably the easiest to write because I believe they follow typical character themes from the period–the strong, silent “leading man” who was a pillar of the community until he experienced his downfall, the sweet naïve young bride/mother who steadfastly refused to believe there was evil in any of her associates, the evil-doers who were only out to benefit themselves, regardless of the cost to others, and the salt of the earth folks–primarily Jewel, in this case–who kept things moving with undying love and loyalty and a steady hand. One of the characters I especially enjoyed writing was Lucilla, from the older story. One of my editors suggested I tone down her surliness and some other aspects of her character, but I fought to keep her the way she was. She needed to do everything she did in order to maintain at least semi-equal footing with Caleb in their sinister plot. Kate’s character had initially been written in a more literary style–more formal speech and fewer glimpses into her internal insecurities. But when I turned in a writing assignment in an advanced writing course using a “girlfriend ” type voice, my instructor wrote on the top of my paper that she really liked that voice and that I should incorporate it into my writing. So I did…which also led to a massive re-write to change Kate’s part of the story from third person POV to first person POV. And after that, Kate became much more fun to spend time with.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next book is the first in a new series about two new families–the Sinclairs and the Maguires–and takes place in North Carolina, just a few miles east of Asheville–I’ll pick back up on Kate and her friends in a later book. We are still negotiating on this one, but expect it to be out in 2018. Here’s a teaser:
In 1947, JEFFREY SINCLAIR, hidden in his family’s mansion, sneaks from his safe place on his eighth birthday and witnesses his father’s murder. Almost seventy years later, MATTIE MAGUIRE the fourth generation of the working class family whose lives have been intertwined with the wealthy Sinclair family, attempts to fulfill her lifelong fantasy of buying the old mansion. But her plans fall apart when she learns that the mystery shrouding the earlier murder has also clouded the identity of the property’s true heir. Worse, in her research to clear the title, she uncovers some troubling information that points to the involvement of her beloved grandfather, MICHAEL MAGUIRE, into the earlier murder that, if made public, would put her whole family in danger. Suddenly, nothing matters beyond protecting her loved ones and clearing her family name. It’s up to Mattie, accompanied by an unlikely source, to unravel her grandfather’s involvement, discover the true Sinclair heir–hidden away for decades–and return him to his rightful place, where together, he and Mattie finally reveal the family’s long-held secrets, along with the identity of the true killer.
For almost two hundred years an ancient cemetery, deep in the lowlands of Georgia, has protected the identity of an infamous, brutal murderer, whose act of betrayal changed the course of the town’s history. Now, eight generations later, MIDWAY CEMETERY conceals the activities of international conspirators engaged in a fast moving counterfeiting ring operating right under the noses of the slow-paced Midway residents.
Thirty-one-year old Bostonian KATE COVINGTON travels to Midway to film a documentary intended to increase the favorability ratings for the current United States President, WILFORD PENNINGTON, who was born in Midway and descended from the murdered victim from two hundred years earlier. As she becomes enthralled with the town’s history, Kate uncovers the truth about the murder of the President’s ancestor. Her discovery also leads to her learning the truth behind her own mother’s death and eventually changes not only the town’s history, but Kate’s future as well.
Posted in Interviews
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The world of Androva, where magic rules. Galen is the best underage magician for millennia, much to the dismay of the power hungry Professor Cassius. In the name of research, Galen and his friend, the talented but troubled Nico, begin opening time travelling portals to other worlds. Galen finds himself on Terra where he meets the beautiful Claudia. He wants to stay with her forever but the arrival of Jax and Shannon from two thousand years in the future changes everything. Galen must now return to fight for the lives of his friends and family. But will they survive magic?
Alex C. Vick has built a rich and enchanting world of spells and sorcery in Surviving Magic. Classic themes of love, good vs. evil, and the importance of friendship run through the story, but they seem fresh and innovative in the hands of the author due to an exciting plot, diverse settings and interesting characters.
Vick evokes place very well, and the juxtaposition of the two worlds of Terra and Androva is expertly done. The setting of ancient Italy is an interesting plot device that really works, as real historical events such as the revolt of Boudicca are seamlessly interwoven with magic. Vick also excels here with her use of tangible imagery; I felt as though I was strolling through the bustling streets of Pompeii!
The book is written in first person narrative from Galen’s perspective. He is a flawed, but likeable hero and the love story between him and Claudia is heartfelt and authentic. The other less central characters are well-drawn, they all have distinctive voices and Vick’s use of dialogue adds humour and lightness to otherwise dramatic situations. Because we observe the full story arc of the characters in this book, I really came to care about their individual fates. Nico’s development is particularly interesting due to the complex nature of his internal struggles and motivations and the villain of the piece, Professor Cassius, is supremely creepy!
Vick has developed a very complex and creative system of magic, which adds multiple dimensions and interest to the story. The only downside to this is it’s slightly overwhelming to have sygnuses, symbols, spells, and force fields thrown at you over a couple of pages (pheeew!) I prefer to be shown rather than told what is happening and there is some occasional info-dumping. I sometimes felt like I was getting lost down a portal myself! Because of this, the pacing seems off to begin with and the narrative is somewhat lost. Generally, though, the dramatic scenes are excellent and kept me on the edge of my seat.
Surviving Magic becomes very much a standalone story, with originality and twists and turns galore. Overall, this is a great addition to the fantasy genre, and I look forward to more exciting adventures from the Legacy of Androva series.
Pages: 279 | ASIN: B076ZSTT2D
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