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The Lockhart Women

The Lockhart Women is a debut novel by author Mary Camarillo. This novel follows the Lockhart family as they navigate some pretty intense life events. From divorce to undiagnosed mental illness to organized crime, this story just about covers it all. Each chapter is told from the perspective of the three girls of the Lockhart family: Brenda (mom), Peggy (daughter), and Allison (daughter) as they try to reconfigure their lives after their husband and father left.

As the story progresses, we learn more about the personal lives of the three Lockharts and the secrets they keep from each other. Drawing on real life events, the story takes place at the same time the infamous O.J. Simpson trial occurred. Using this memorable event in history gives readers a period reference and they can draw some parallels between those involved in the case and the characters in the story.

Camarillo’s writing was intriguing and fast paced, each chapter adds to to the adrenalin rushing plot build. This standalone novel was written in a way that doesn’t leave you with lingering questions. The author did an excellent job tying up loose ends and concluding certain character storylines. She also created each character in a way that you could vividly imagine them right in front of you. In many cases, I found myself relating to all three of the Lockhart women in some way.

The characters are very relatable and will appeal to a wide selection of readers. The Lockhart women are written in a way readers can put themselves in their shoes and experience their development beyond the page. There were only a few characters that I felt could have been developed further but they were not pivotal to the storyline.

The Lockhart Women, by Mary Camarillo, is a well developed story, has characters that are memorable, and enough action to keep the plot exciting and readers constantly guessing what could happen next.

Pages: 351 | ASIN:  B08DKK51XF

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Becoming a Woman of Substance

Becoming a Woman of Substance by [Karma Kitaj]

Becoming A Woman of Substance, by Karma Kitaj, is a riveting tale of bravery and passion. The story follows the journey of Miriam Butler, a woman who struggles with demons from the past, and also of obtaining her dreams while navigating the tumultuous social and political world. Set in the 1930-1940’s, Miriam experiences struggling through the Great Depression and the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust. Miriam has many interactions with people from all walks of life. It is from these interactions, both negative and positive, that shape Miriam and drive her to follow her heart and make a difference; even if the path is not one easily traveled.

Kitaj is a spectacular writer who does not shy away from hitting the hard topics. These topics include racism, sexism, and mental illness, which I find were handled expertly by providing viewpoints from all sides. Rather than preaching her thoughts on the topics, Kitaj uses interactions and dialogue to teach not only the main character, but also the audience, of how many people struggled during these times.

With her carefully crafted words, Kitaj was able to show that not all people experience prejudice the same way. Miriam was treated poorly due to her background, but upon hearing stories from others, came to see her situation in a different light and drove her to make a change. I really love this take on presenting these topics as it allows for an open discussion which is important when attempting to make a change. Kitaj drives home the point that throughout these difficult times, Miriam is able to persevere and really become rooted in herself and her beliefs, ultimately becoming a woman of substance.

I do wish that there would have been more focus on a few topics to enhance my understanding. There were phrases or situations that I would have liked to have more on. For example, explanation as to the Jewish words used or the specific situations that Miriam and Izy encountered at the conclusion of the book. As I don’t have experience in those situations, I would have loved to learn more in depth so that I could understand fully how the characters felt and handled those situations.

Kitaj’s style of writing is clear and concise, which allow for there to be a focus on the plot and topics at hand. Although the chapters were a telling of Miriam’s story, the author does include Miriam’s and her husband Noel’s personal thoughts to be relayed through journal entries. I really appreciate this as it adds depth and brings the characters to life as they explore their inner thoughts and feelings.

Becoming a Woman of Substance is an amazing mix of historical and fictional characters, it feels as if I was reading the actual life story of a women from that timeframe. This book gave me new perspectives and a sense of pride as a woman.

Pages: 314 | ASIN: B09HN74C65

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Goods & Effects

Goods & Effects by Al Schnupp is a heartwarming story about a Mennonite woman in the 60’s named Hannah Mercer who’s trying to find her way in the world after the passing of her family. To help her gain independence and explore the world around her, she opens up a little shop on wheels called Hannah’s Goods & Effects. Along the way, we watch her grow into herself and face backlash from the town deacon because she has decided to march to the beat of her own gigantic drum. This inspiring story left me craving more in the best way possible!

Schnupp is a master at conveying real human emotions. Hannah and the side characters in this story felt realistic and fully-fledged. That comment is typically hard to give for books of this length. We received enough backstory about our protagonist without drowning in useless information. In a matter of 174 pages, our author managed to bring his characters to life and execute it beautifully. Further speaking on the character development, I appreciated Schnupp’s ability to write a female main character without her seeming like a mystical fantasy. That is a rare accomplishment from modern male authors. I also wanted to share my appreciation for diverse representation, especially for the time period the story takes place. We read about characters from different races as well as different abilities. Darla was an absolute treat to read about! This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the stunning writing and language used throughout the novel. It is simple yet carefully crafted. I felt that Schnupp spent a great deal of time choosing how to depict the story through language alone. Despite the simplicity, there was never a dull moment in the story. I was always waiting to see what Hannah would do next! Although parts of the story were sad, it was predominantly heartwarming.

Goods & Effects is a fantastic fall read, and I can’t wait to read it again in the future. If you get the chance, I highly recommend picking this book up, curling up on the couch, and sipping a mug of your favorite warm drink. You will fly through it, and it’s the best way to consume this story.

Pages: 166 | ASIN: B08XW1S1N6

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Real Women’s Stories 2018

Real Women's Stories 2018: A powerful, inspiring collection of short stories by and about real women. by [Beth Kallman Werner]

Real Women’s Stories 2018, edited by Beth Kallman Werner is a potent take on the journeys of twelve women. The chapters of the book vividly present to the readers the upheavals of a woman’s life, and the struggles that often go unnoticed by the world. 

This collection brings together women from different spheres of life, transcending ethnicity, and borders. Narrated in a simple tone, the honest stories take center stage, immersing the readers in an incredibly beautiful journey. This book is a light-read, but the essence of the experience of these women is nonetheless powerful, leaving a strong impact on the reader. 

Each of the stories is vastly different from one another, but somewhere, there is an invisible thread connecting them, predominated by the indomitable spirit of these amazing women. The writings exhibit a seamless flow of emotions, difficulties, losses, and triumphs, and make us understand this world a little better, from the perspective of real women. These are not stories of world-renowned stars, but in their personal lives, these women are the superheroes– dealing with battles and championing them too. 

These stories are curated not only for women but also for men. It allows a glimpse into the life of a average women and documents their life in powerful words. This book reveals certain aspects of these women’s lives that are hardly recognized in society. From stories of war, surviving abuse, to creating a successful business– you will find a beautiful amalgamation of anecdotes, reflected through these short and gripping pieces. 

The stories are crisp and unputdownable, which makes them all the more impactful. Since these women belong to completely different backgrounds, the settings in each of the stories are vastly different. 

Through these twelve short pieces, you can undertake a journey to celebrate their wins, while also learning about how they paved ways for themselves in the world. As real, living humans, living away from glitz and glory, the inspiring tales of these women are sure to move every reader. 

I would like to give this book a 5/5, owing to its sheer simplicity of narration, and capturing human emotions, difficulties, and victories with utmost subtlety. This book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to delve deep into the lives of women who live away from the limelight.

Pages: 146 | ASIN: B076Q3L3Q2

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River’s Child

When Mavin Cedarstrom heads to the Svalbard Seed Vault for another day on the job, he can’t possibly imagine the turn his life is about to take. His former life gathering seeds as an assistant to his favorite professor pales in comparison to the life he leads working in the exclusive and formidable vault housing samples of every seed variety in the world. Mavin’s job helping to protect and preserve the future of the planet’s primary food source leads him on a journey like no other when he awakens to find himself in what he soon learns is the future–the distant future.

Right out of the gate, Mark Daniel Seiler introduces readers to an intriguing set of circumstances. He wastes no time in keeping his audience guessing as to both time and place. The opening pages of River’s Child reveal a scene with an amalgamation of characters with varied backgrounds. It isn’t until Mavin reaches the vault itself that the reader is treated to the splendors of technological advancements. Seiler springs this futuristic setting on his readers in a wonderful contrast with the opening bar scene.

Reading River’s Child is akin to reading three different books, but it works well. Mavin’s time working in the vault and the tragedy that befalls him when he reports to work that fateful fall day are a far cry from the way he is found and worlds apart from the scene that greets him when he is pulled from beneath Earth’s surface. Once he and his rescuer/guide, Simone Kita, make the year-long trek to civilization, the story takes on a completely different feel which somehow also makes sense. To say that Mavin has taken a step into the past would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to say he is almost light years in the future upon being pulled from the remains of the vault. Seiler presents for readers a picture of an Earth recreated after its destruction and, somehow, simultaneously archaic and advanced.

Seiler’s choice to make males subservient and females revered in the new world is both refreshing and entertaining. Simone, a strong woman in many ways, teaches Mavin the proper way to show respect and how to remain demure in his foreign surroundings. The author has pulled from multiple cultures to create the portrait of a lesser sex in this futuristic world which blends ancient customs with the discovery and mastery of unique and highly developed talents. Simone’s amazing ability to control space and time is superhero-like and takes the reader as much by surprise as it does Mavin the first time she tries to discreetly display it.

Seiler offers readers a picture of  what is essentially a post-apocalyptic world that is different from any I have read. He takes readers on a journey that begins and ends with the soul survivor of a catastrophic event and allows them to watch as he struggles to find his place among those who now inhabit Earth. Seiler peppers his writing with the perfect amount of suspense and humor as he weaves this unforgettable tale.

Pages: 312 | ISBN: 1947003399

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Modern Day Cowboy: The Making of a Gunfighter

Modern Day Cowboy: The Making of a Gunfighter3 Stars

The novel Modern Day Cowboy: The Making of a Gunfighter depicts the life of Mattie, a young woman living in the middle of nowhere, Canada. Mattie struggles to recover from a painful incident which took the life of a mentally disabled boy that she cared for, and as a result, Mattie takes up employment at the local gun shop in town. It isn’t long before the owner senses Mattie’s need for revenge, and sends her to a boot camp in Arizona to train to become a gunfighter. She quickly becomes proficient at her newly acquired trade. But being rising talent comes with many disadvantages, as other female gunfighters come out to challenge Mattie. When she’s not off to a fight, she is conflicted with feelings for her contract and love interest, David. When his safety is threatened, unlikely friends come to Mattie’s defense, and old histories begin to reveal themselves.

What’s most interesting about this story is the idea of real life gun-fighting. The concept is very unique and Nathaniel Sheft really brings this hobby to life with his novel. The possibility of the organization, a multi-billion-dollar underground business, where women are trained for months at a time to go out and kill each other in a few brief seconds is fascinating. It’s even more empowering that the novel focuses on the sport as it is played by women. Sheft really challenges gender roles and introduces us to some of the most conniving, evil, clever, and entertaining female characters throughout this book, and it’s nice to read through a novel where the protagonist is a strong female character. Mattie’s transformation from depressed, isolated girl, to confident a, in your face, woman is what gives the story it’s flavor. She shows readers that you don’t have to be drop down beautiful or have any sort of history in etiquette. As long as you’re determined to accomplish your goals, you’ll be alright in the end.

The drawbacks to this novel however was that the writing style fluctuates between being great and just okay, especially when it came to dialogue or the inner monologue of characters. When any of the characters were joking or angry, their dialogue came through as more aggressive, however, the language was more colloquial – some slang words here, mispronunciations there, which is fine. However, it was unbelievable for every character to speak in that manner when they were angry. Also, throughout the book, we get a lot of David and Mattie’s inner monologues. These are so elegant, almost philosophical, especially with David. It’s such a strong contrast to the average, or less than polite language found throughout the rest of the novel. It seems that many characters in the novel have the same sort of inner monologue, so it doesn’t leave room for much originality in the words and thoughts of the characters. The language used to describe a scene was jumbled or vague at times which made it difficult to figure out the setting, who was talking, what action was going on, and what point in time the story was actually taking place.

Overall, the idea behind Modern Day Cowboy is intriguing and leads to fascinating possibilities.

Pages: 487 | ASIN: B01LXC2GTL

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A Fantastic, Erotic, Horrific Tale Like No Other

Fawn Bonning Author Interview

Fawn Bonning Author Interview

The Heart of Hannen follows Christine Clavin who is not a typical teenage girl, her past is marred by a violent attack. This tenacious teenager must survive a dark world where men own women like cattle. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this story?

I wanted to see if I could fuse all the genres that I love into one work. I’m a huge horror fan. I love the way it makes my heart race and my skin crawl. But I also enjoy a good fantasy, especially those set in dystopian worlds where it’s a constant battle just to stay alive. I guess I just love a good challenge. Add to that my love of a steamy romance and the result is what I like to call a fantastic, erotic, horrific tale like no other.

Christine could use her wits, temper, and sharp tongue to do great things, even under the control of an oppressive culture and evil men. What morals and obstacles did you feel were important to highlight the character’s development?

Christine’s primary obstacle is her violent temper. She quickly comes to realize that failing to control it could mean her demise in this new brutal world. She must win the battle against her own inner demons if she is to survive the monsters of Atriia.

The best part of this book was the invented language. How did you set about creating such a unique and interesting language?

I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the Atriian language. Unfortunately, not everyone shares that sentiment. This is a series that takes a bit of extra work. It didn’t make sense to throw Christine into a completely foreign world where they spoke perfect English. At the same time, I didn’t want to make the Atriian language so difficult that it would detract from the reading experience. It’s primarily English, with a smattering of Atriian words, most of which have meanings that are easily deduced. Sola=sun, sol=day, luna=moon, lun=night, aya=yes, naya=no, and so forth. I tried to introduce the words slowly, a few per chapter, so the reader didn’t need to constantly turn to the dictionary. As the story progressed, the language grew word by word until it was more extensive than initially intended. By the end of book III, my readers are fabulously fluent in Atriian.

The Heart of Hannen is book one in the Atriian Trilogy. Where does the next book in the series take your characters?

Book II takes poor Christine to horrible places. Just horrible. And book III, oh my gosh, horrendous!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website


The Heart of Hannen (Atriian Trilogy, #1)Christine, a troubled teen with a dark past, is miserable in her small town. Shadowed in shame, she feels destined to live her lonely life as an outcast. She has no idea that her true destiny lies in a different town, in a different world; a most brutal world called Atriia. There she learns the true meaning of misery, the true meaning of loneliness, the true meaning of shame. But she also learns that her bravery is boundless as she battles against a formidable foe, a dark shadow that tries to smother the land. And in the arms of a most unlikely candidate, she also learns the true meaning of love. He is Hannen Fallier, the one they call the foul fraigen dropper, revered by men for his fearless feats, but looked upon by women with open disdain. With a face horribly mauled, he hides behind a mask of shame, deeming himself unworthy of love. That he would seek acceptance from Christine is irony in its purest form. That he would seek her love . . . the ultimate betrayal.

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Master Athina

Master Athina (The Books of Athina Book 4)5 Stars

In a whirlwind of action and danger, peppered with instances of magic, Master Athina by Danny C. Estes comes to a gallant close. For four books we have followed the journey of Jim, construction manager from our world into the body of Athina; lady of another world. Jim’s evolution into Athina as a full human being has been carefully crafted and readers should be satisfied with how things have come to pass. Our poor Athina has lost the voice of Jim but retained his knowledge and parts of his personality. It is as if they have melded to become a new Athina. Unfortunately, as we have well learned, Athina does not have an easy life.

Our story picks up a short while from where it left off. Athina is happily married and is about to have twins. She has learned that her entire existence was not two souls switching occupation in her body, but one soul that has lived two lifetimes. This revelation is incredible in that it takes the struggles Jim had in being in a young woman’s body and feeling out of place and brings about the idea of reincarnation and multiple lives. Estes does a great job in slowly, but surely, melting the two into one throughout the course of the Athina series.

There is only one disappointment in this book and that is the very few spelling errors that pop up now and then. It doesn’t take away from the story, but it is a sharp distraction in a series that has obviously been crafted with care.

Athina has been born into a world where her greatest short coming is the fact that she is a woman. There is much she cannot do because of her gender and it shows in her frustration when the rebuilding of her home commences. She clearly has the knowledge to be a master builder, yet she is not allowed to. Athina does obtain her Master title, however, in a discipline that might come as a surprise to readers of the series. It is a title that she wears with confidence and brings about some unexpected conversations.

The action scenes in this novel are still well written and important to the tale. There is no action just for the sake of action which can be a downfall for many fantasy-adventure stories. Estes knows his craft and he has definitely had the time to hone it.

Master Athina opens with a helpful and refreshing prologue which considerably compresses the events in the previous books. This is great for those who have gone a long time between installments and need a refresher, or for those who are picking up Master Athina without reading the predecessors. This final installment in such a thrilling adventure  that wraps up the journey nicely and should satisfy all curiosity while leaving bits for the imagination to go wild over.

Pages: 316 | ASIN: B01FPDV1LS

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