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Unsteady

Unsteady by [York, Elizabeth]

Unsteady kicks off in chapter one by giving us a glimpse into the childhood lives of its main characters, London and Logan. London and Logan both attend a Catholic boarding school and have similar backgrounds in that they both feel utterly abandoned by their families. The connection that they share as children is very heartfelt and the author does a good job of portraying this. Despite the book seeming rather rushed (which is to be expected from its 313 pages), I think the author also does a fantastic job of getting the reader attached to the characters. I was sufficiently swept away and invested in these characters and wanted to keep reading to see what happens to London and Logan and see how their story unfolds.

Unsteady is a steamy romance novel. As for the adult relationships that occur in this book, several of them are of an erotic nature. Logan is certainly a ladies man, there is no mistake about that. He is an airline pilot that tends to have lurid relationships with women all over the world. His behaviors aren’t completely debased; well actually…they are, but rather the reason is somewhat understandable. However, the aspect of the book that I thought could have used some polish was the language used in the erotic encounters. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that when I see the term “one eyed snake” it doesn’t evoke ideas of romance. The novel is filled with these hot and heavy moments that turn this steamy romance into a erotic story that will keep you wide eyed. This combination will be welcomed by any fan of the romance genre and it is certainly intriguing, but it’s marked by a change in tone and story telling. The romance part of the novel is well done, as stated earlier, I was invested in the characters and couldn’t wait to see how their relationship turned out. But while the expert writing skill displayed in these romance section easily gets you invested, the writing in the erotic sections of the book doesn’t seem to match. I felt like most of the story was written by someone with superb writing skills while the erotic sections were written by a teenager with raging hormones.

But I don’t want to make it sound like the book was unreadable though, I enjoyed the suspense of the story and the action surrounding London’s job with the CIA. Overall, this book contains an entertaining story that will leave you biting your nails. Romance novels are about the characters and their relationships, and this book has some alluring characters that get into some… sticky situations.

Pages: 436 | ASIN: B07C1V1TS8

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One Love

One Love by [Duffy, Thomas]Thomas Duffy’s book, One Love, is a tale of both love and heartache. Protagonist Tim is torn between a “what might have been” sort of love and another that is actually in front of him. Duffy doesn’t paint over the ugly parts of love, instead highlighting them. He exposes what love looks like in real life, not some fairy tale version that we were taught in the movies. Duffy doesn’t shy away from the flaws and complexities of his characters. His is a raw and honest account of entangled and intertwined relationships that examines what we sacrifice for love, and the love we may sacrifice for security.

A book has to really grab me from page one for me to read it quickly. I got through this one in two days, even with other things going on. I was pulled in. I was fascinated and wanted to see what happened from page to page. I went through a range of emotion with the characters. I wanted to hug Tim and slap him sometimes at the same time. The same went for Louie and Melody at times. I felt like I was peeking in on intimate details of lives I shouldn’t be seeing but wanted to see at the same time. Thomas Duffy pulled back the curtain on real life. He exposed what everyone tries to hide.

Readers will find themselves identifying with the characters. They are all flawed in some way or another, and that makes them more identifiable. Louie’s addiction, Tim’s stagnant career and failure to commit, Melody’s indecisiveness, Cindy’s crippling anxiety. Duffy covers the gamut of dysfunction. Chances are that each reader will see his or herself in at least one of the characters. I appreciated the realism and admittedly saw myself in a character or two. Everyone has a “what might have been” scenario or two. This book lets readers vicariously live one of those scenarios out.

I’m not a romance novel fan. I wouldn’t call this your average romance novel by any stretch. However, there are some sexual scenes in the book. They are not overpowering to the rest of the plot. They feel necessary and relevant to the story. You’ll find much more concentration on the feelings of the characters and their daily lives than sex, but it is there. -And, it is important to the story.

This one was a real page-turner for me. The writing was simple without being boring. There was no pretense. No stuffiness. I was completely interested in the lives of the characters from the first page until the last and found myself wanting to know more. The characters felt real. They were well-developed. I feel invested in their lives. I want to know what else happens.

The book is brilliantly written. It was a very easy read. The pace was perfect, and the plot flowed well. The characters felt real. I can’t say enough good things about this writer. I’d love to read more of his work.

Pages: 263 | ASIN: B00PAE4HV4

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Pushing Madness

Pushing Madness (Lisen of Solsta Book 6) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]

The epic that we have been following for the last five volumes comes to a triumphant end in the sixth volume of Pushing Madness by D. Hart St. Martin. Book six in the Lisen of Solsta series culminates the agonizing fracture of familial relationships, the travesty of war and the painful ache of loss. Those who have been following the series will wait with baited breath to see what has become of Rinli and Lisen. Those who may be new to the series will still find a fantastical adventure with exquisite world-building and careful character development. This is not a book or series to be taken lightly as the real, raw character portrayals are sure to hit readers close to the heart.

St. Martin has been crafting the saga that is Lisen of Solsta for nearly four decades. It is very clear that she is devoted to her tale and takes care in ensuring that each book is a seamless transition for her returning readers. Nothing feels out of place, readers don’t feel like they have missed pages of content at the beginning of a new book for they all pick up almost precisely where they left off. There is never a lag and all energy from the previous book carries over into the next as it aims for completion.

The beauty of a book by St. Martin is the intense character development and portrayal makes the reader feel engaged and invested in the outcome. The characters and their feelings are so visceral it’s hard not to think of them as actual breathing people. St. Martin carefully shows us the strain in the familial relationship of our protagonist family as the eldest daughter cements herself into the antagonist role. It can be hard to show the fracturing of a family relationship and still keep readers invested into all sides, but St. Martin does that well.

There are no screaming shortcomings for this book and there are no major issues with style or grammar. St. Martin has done the Indie Author title proud by carefully reviewing and editing her work with the help of others. This has allowed her to put out an excellent product that she should be very proud of.

Those who are looking for a fantastical epic that they can really devote their time and energy to should look no further than Pushing Madness by D. Hart St. Martin. This sixth and final installment in the Lisen of Solsta series brings the epic to a satisfying conclusion. This book serves to honor the energy invested by readers who have been following since book one and to entice readers who may be discovering the series with this final book. For a saga that took so many years to cultivate and write, the wait is worth it. The payoff is a carefully crafted story with characters that are easy to identify with and a story line that doesn’t waver or get lost; despite covering so many pages. This series is definitely a keeper and be worth several rereads.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07BVL6SXQ

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Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail by [DuBois, Catalina]

Sarah is married to a man she hardly knows and is not sure she knows how to love. Matthew, her husband of many years, has not seen Sarah since their union when she was a girl of only eight years. Raised in a convent and reunited with her husband, the knight, Sarah is in complete awe of the horrors of battle and the danger in which he must place himself to protect her. When Sarah steps in to save the kingdom from Matthew’s nemesis, she makes a sacrifice far greater than Matthew could ever have expected.

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail by Catalina DuBois is the third book focusing on the characters Sarah and Matthew. In varied settings and with slight name changes, DuBois manages to create stunning visuals with mind-blowing action sequences centering around a love affair for the ages. Sarah and Matthew are standouts in all three books, and Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail features Sarah in her most unique position yet. Sarah is simply captivating in the role of the lover willing to sacrifice everything to save others. DuBois takes readers through Sarah’s thought processes in a way that is personal and moving and does so without the advantage of using first-person point of view. She has successfully created a female lead she is able to mold and shape into a woman of strength and enviable courage across time periods and ever-changing settings.

As with DuBois’s first two Infinity books, I am amazed at the manner in which the author is able to incorporate elements of fantasy into the historical romance genre. Two genres that sound worlds apart are brought together seamlessly in Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail. With the introduction of the cyclops, I have to say I was at first a bit surprised. DuBois has a phenomenal knack for easing the reader into a realm fraught with surreal creatures and making the reader immediately comfortable with the blend of genres.

Imagery is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, DuBois’s forte. DuBois creates extraordinary images to draw readers into the reading in her masterfully crafted prologues. Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail is no exception. As Matthew’s parents observe him from the balcony, the tension in the air is almost tangible. The image of a young Matthew riding away and being watched by parents holding a most devastating and crushing secret is poignant. DuBois manages to structure that scene to first touch the reader’s heart and then, out of nowhere, break it in two.

When reading a mix of fantasy and historical fiction, I appreciate an added level of mystery, and DuBois provides that perfect blend of genres. Readers looking for another angle on the quest for the holy grail and storylines featuring Sir Arthur, Medusa, and Lancelot will find DuBois’s writing to be a fresh look at these classic tales.

Pages: 205 | ASIN: B0791BBNZ3

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A Little Rebellious

Pamela Schloesser Canepa Author Interview

Pamela Schloesser Canepa Author Interview

Undercurrents in Time follows Tabitha as she sets off on her own adventures to try and understand what will happen to her family in the future. What were some themes that you felt were important and wanted to explore in this novel?

I felt the theme of balancing family and personal identity were very important, as this is something that happens to may women. Hence, the focus and tone does become a little different in Undercurrents in Time. There is also a theme of love/romance, as one’s expectations of love sometimes experience drastic changes as life goes on. However, there is still some fun in this book. Tabitha is a little rebellious as she tries to deal with her perceived loss of personal identity. She is a stubborn, strong-willed woman just as she was in Detours in Time.

Tabitha is an interesting character that I enjoyed exploring. What served as your inspiration while you were creating her character?

They say to write what you know. Well, I sure don’t always do that, however, I have spent a lifetime of holding in my opinions and second guessing the things I have said. Maybe that is what turned me into a writer. I revisit and reinvent my responses to scenarios from my life. I made Tabitha a strong-willed, outspoken woman, as that is what I have been taught not to be all my life, yet, I have always been stubborn. I think she deals with it in a healthier way. She is also never a peace maker just for the sake of being a peace maker. Her experiences in this book go back to some of my experiences with marriage and motherhood. I imagined some of the things I really longed to do when I was at that point in my life. However, I wanted to make her heroic. So, she was based on a mix of myself, the person I wish I was, and the personality of Jodie Foster’s character in Contact. (If I had to choose an existing character).

What were some ideas you wanted to carry over from Detours in Time and what were some new ideas you wanted to expand on in this book?

I wanted to revisit the character of Sal and expand a little bit on the character of Louise as well as giving some story to their family. In between, we have Calais. I also wanted Sal to have more backstory in this timeline while giving more backstory to Tabitha’s brother, Jared, whose life is drastically different in this timeline.

Ideas I carried over were the differences between Milt and Tabitha’s personalities, and how Milt really does not try to change her. Another was the suffering we do for our family members, learning to love them while stepping back a little and balancing our concern for them with concern for ourselves. Another thing I wanted to expand on the reality of love, how the illusion of new love is never the same as what you have a few years later. Yet, there is hope. I am trying not to give away key plot points here….

Are you a fan of the science fiction genre? What are some of your favorite time travel movies or books?

I certainly am a fan of the science fiction genre! When I was younger, I’d read my mom’s Stephen King books and just loved how they warped my understanding of reality. I loved Planet of the Apes, Back to the Future, Dr. Who, and many futuristic dystopian books and movies. I loved reading Kings 11-22-63 and the Outlander series, though I am hard-pressed to read her recent 1,000 pages tomes. I also loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, which was a mix of time travel and romance. To be honest, I haven’t read that many time travel books, it is more the time travel shows that have impressed on me, that and historical fiction or dystopian fiction. I love to ponder how things would be different if we tweaked just one little facet of our lives.

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

Malachi (from Undercurrents) is speaking to me. It’s funny, I also started a story last fall about Norrie from the Made for Me series, but I think Malachi will be next. However, that could change. Can you tell I don’t write full-time? Sometimes I write to shave off remnants of a bad day, or I catch a mood. I get inspired at times by the oddest things. I am sure this is why the tone in my novels is not always the same. At any rate, I write a lot in Nov. and Dec. when there is less daylight, then I send to beta-readers, ruminate on it, revise, etc. Summer is usually when I like to publish a book because I teach, and summer allows me time to devote to releasing a book. However, I have short story ideas that I may release in the fall or spring. Following my newsletter is a great way to get notice of my stories or new releases, as I sometimes send free short stories to those on my newsletter list. I have ideas for other characters from Undercurrents in Time as well as new ideas that may not get the attention they need until I retire. Please don’t ask when that is. I have got to play the lottery more often…For sure, I will have plenty to keep me busy!

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Undercurrents in Time: Book 2 of the Detours in Time series by [Schloesser Canepa, Pamela]Time travel took Tabitha and Milt to places they could never have imagined….

Now it seems the very things that cemented their bond will also drive a wedge between them emotionally. Travel to the future, discovery of a long-lost, troubled family member, and an unplanned baby all have taken a toll. Tabitha struggles to accept her new identity as a mother while remaining a strong, independent woman. She longs for a getaway, even a short one, but that getaway puts her on a collision course with danger. 

Milt is busy trying to prevent a horrible future disaster at the hands of an enemy he has not yet met. While concerned, Milt doesn’t even suspect Tabitha’s plans, the very plans that will have her facing Milt’s nemesis.

Tabitha risks it all on a brief escape. How will she handle the unforeseen dangers she faces and make her way back home? How far will Tabitha and Milt go to prevent tragedy?

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Breaking Worlds

Breaking Worlds (Lisen of Solsta Book 5) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]

The action never stops in Breaking Worlds by D. Hart St. Martin. This installation in the Lisen of Solsta saga is easy to dive into, even if you haven’t read the previous volumes. The gut wrenching emotion that pours out of this novel is gripping and drives the reader forward: looking for the resolution of such a familial rift. The energy is compelling as the story drives forward. We learn about the divide between Lisen and Korin. We witness as their daughter Rinli undergoes what could be described as an evolution and her determination to change the world they live in shakes both mother and father to the core. This book has clearly been crafted with care and is sure to not disappoint new and returning readers.

St. Martin is a veteran at her craft. The raw emotions that both Korin and Lisen feel at the death of their daughter are so palpable the reader can’t help but feel those emotions running through their own veins as they read. It can be difficult to describe such grief, let alone show how it can consume an individual, but St. Martin does it with grace. As Korin wrestles with emotion that he has never felt before he wonders how others can live after feeling it. It is such a powerful statement that it will resonate with anyone who has ever felt pain at the loss of a loved one. Such descriptive power carries on throughout the book and enhances the story.

It can be hard to come into a series without the backstory of previous volumes. While there may be some slight confusion for new readers, St. Martin explains things in such a way that it’s not overwhelming and readers do not become lost. There is a guide at the back of the book that lays out the main characters and some demographic information on them that can be helpful. It also assists readers that St. Martin writes as if readers have either forgotten or have limited knowledge of previous installments. This is helpful for new readers and doesn’t detract from the amazing story she is trying to tell. This can be a delicate balance to keep, but St. Martin knows exactly what she’s doing and demonstrates her ability to craft an excellent tale.

Any reader who wants to throw themselves into the grip of an epic fantasy-adventure book needs to look no further than Breaking Worlds by D. Hart St. Martin. While this particular book is the fifth in a series, the carefully crafted world and elaborate world building is more than enough to grab the attention of new and returning readers. The raw human emotion that laces this book as our protagonists manage their grief, their pain and the familial rift that threatens to consume the world as they know it enhances the base storyline. Readers won’t be able to get enough as they consume the delicious story laid out before them.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B0795DRCNJ

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Sombristic

Sombristic by [Sebastian, S.A.]

Sombristic, written by S.A. Sebastian follows a close group of culturally diverse friends who are all at different points in their lives and relationships – some are married and some are just trying to figure things out. But, they are joined by the bonds of friendship that keep them grounded in their search for the right person. The title, a word seemingly coined by the author, means to be optimistic in the face of romantic sadness. This being said at the beginning gives the text a positive opening tone – it makes you think that the characters are going to try and be optimistic even when the going gets tough, and hopefully things will work out for all of them.

There’s also a brief but helpful character list at the beginning of the text as the story dives into the deep end in an active scene between a father, son, and friends – so it helps to know who’s who. The list was particularly useful as there is little introductory context, which was initially a little difficult, but the characters come into focus as you continue reading.

This book is written in the form of a play, or a conversation-based work, the text is mostly dialogue and is written in a relaxed style, reflective of each character’s accent with each one being subtly different. The ‘acts’ are usually short, and they jump between different situations and have time lapses throughout, so it can be hard to keep up with all of the different goings on. However, the easy to read style helps the reader stay immersed when they come back around to a previously mentioned character.

The conversations between the characters, when split into male and female groups are very typical of the gender ideals. The men discuss sports and their level of sexual activity and the women discuss clothes and relationship gossip. Although this might be reflective of the groups general stereotypes, I though it made them one dimensional. I wanted to see the characters interested in things other than the overall theme of the book.

I thought that the story was a little hard to follow, as it moved from scene to scene so quickly, despite the relaxed and attractive writing style that kept me engaged with interesting writing. The book incorporates long descriptive passages that are interesting and well written, suggesting that the script would perhaps be more engaging if rewritten as a novel rather than a play.

What the text does do very well is highlight the varied types of relationships and dating that exist in modern society, and explores how hard these can be to navigate. There is also some pretty funny references in this book that made me laugh!

ASIN: B07DW4J71W

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The Scented Bones: The Svabodina Case Files

Angel Svabodina is a rookie forensic anthropologist, enjoying the beginning of her new career. That joy comes crashing down when she figures out the skeleton she’s working on is not human and then it vanishes.

She throws herself fully into the case without thinking about the parties involved, a psychopomp associate, and paranormal mafia families made up of vampires and werewolves—or the consequences.

When she sees there’s no avoiding the inevitable, Angel has to suck it up and work with the werewolves to solve the case but can she trust them?

Werewolves and witches are in a centuries-old feud, but that doesn’t stop the shivers running down her spine from one wolf in particular. Rights and wrongs become blurred, as she is tormented by her past and accepting who she truly is while searching for the skeleton. What’s more, nothing comes for free, including information. To get what she needs from the werewolf don, Angel has to meet with the fae queen. Can she meet her without repercussions and solve the case?

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The Witch Trials: The Becoming

The Witch Trials: The Becoming by [Generis, Intrigue]

The Witch Trials: The Becoming, by Intrigue Sui Generis, is a short work of historical dramatic fiction. The book is centered around the life and times of Sylvie, a middle-class woman living in southern France during the late 17th century. The story is predominantly about her life, her personal difficulties, and the broader milieu of the time period. Much of the story also concerns her husband Leon and his relationship to the broader Catholic Church, though the nature of this relationship is not well described, or at the least it is unclear how he is so involved with the church despite his main profession. The book also includes content about the broader scope of the time period.

The historical content of this book reads as semi-fictions with the author’s experiences, beliefs, worldview, and sense of morality bleeding into the pages of this book. The 1600’s in France were themselves bloody times, but the author largely washes away that bloody history, due in part to a lack of detail in the story. The story also includes much more active female roles, especially for those of a middle-class status during that time period. While it is heart-warming to think of a female character, seeking to rise above her station in a steeply patriarchal society infused with, what we would consider, harsh and vile religious fundamentalism, much of it is romanticized so that you can follow Sylvie’s story through this dark time without feeling too down about it.

Sylvie’s entire history prior to her marriage to Leon is contained within a single page, which seemed too short for me as I found her to be an intriguing character and I wanted to learn more about her. I enjoyed that this book was a short and concise novella, but at the expense of detail. Sylvie comes from a Protestant upbringing, but I felt it was unclear what kind of Protestant. The brevity of the story helps focus this book into a character driven novella, but leaves you wanting more. Overall, the historical additions of the book are strong and seemingly well-researched (as evidenced by the bibliography at the end of the text), but I would have loved to have this further fleshed out to lengthen the book, and these details would have clarified the setting and character motivations for me.

The Witch Trials: The Becoming is intended for a young adult audience with a decent attempt at historical accuracy. There is sexual content, but it is only slightly more bawdy than a television show from the 1950’s. There are also depictions of human suffering, the outcome of torture, and threats of imminent pain and death, but these are also very sterile. Overall, this book is short and easily provides a few short hours of entertainment.

Pages: 56 | ASIN: B07D68YSQZ

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Revelations: The Colburn Curse

Natalie leads a life like no other woman. The man in her life is not her husband and her son is not her own. As a woman in the pre-Civil War days, she does as she is told, and her life is simply not her own. Her son, Matt, who she lovingly protects from the hatred and violence of his brother, the man in her life, is being raised with no idea of what true love is. As Natalie continues to serve Pete and put up with his endless brutality, she simultaneously succeeds in teaching Matt how to recognize his brother’s faults and steers him toward the life he deserves.

Catalina DuBois’s Revelations: The Colburn Curse contains rich tidbits of various genres, and they all seem to blend flawlessly into one breathtaking piece. With mystery being the underlying and ever-present element, DuBois’s book is laced with romance, historical fiction, and tantalizing snippets of fantasy.

As I read, I felt as if I were on an emotional roller coaster of the most bizarre kind. I desperately hated Pete from the moment he entered the picture. There was not a signal redeeming quality present in him, and I felt no qualms about despising the sight of his name. Then DuBois throws a monkey wrench into the equation– a complete game-changer. I was amazed at how swiftly the author was able to make me change my mind. Then, as quickly as she brought me to a new line of thinking, she reintroduces the Pete of old. DuBois is a master of the plot twist. I was two breaths away from an audible gasp when she had Natalie suddenly reveal her own revelation about Pete’s true identity. Who doesn’t yearn for a book that gives them that feeling?

I will admit that I had a difficult time in the early chapters seeing how the vast array of characters would fit together by the book’s end. DuBois, however, is more than adept at pulling together characters from settings that are seemingly unrelated. I might add, when she does, it is amazing.

The storyline centering about Ambassador Florian Lafayette and his sister, Embrasia, is the most engaging in the book. The two are, without a doubt, bent on living on the edge. Their antics would seem to lead them down a path of destruction, but a few chance meetings change the siblings and their wild ways like no amount of preaching could. I find their storyline to be filled with the most rapidly moving action.

Having read several other books by the author, I can say this one is, by far, my favorite. When you can finish a book and feel immediately like rereading it, you know you have found a keeper. DuBois is the queen of prologues. I never ceased to be amazed at her ability to pull me in within the first paragraphs. There is no one else out there penning romances with touches of fantasy based on historical fiction like Catalina DuBois.

Pages: 285 | ASIN: 1973233002

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