Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review: The Stairs in the Woods by Matthew Cesca

Kaitlynn Jenson has come home to Connecticut to help her dying father. In cleaning out his house, she discovers a secret he's kept from her - a secret that leads her on an adventure through dangers she never expected. She finds a new world and becomes friends with a satyr named Faljon as well as other creatures she never thought existed.
Ever since I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I've loved portal fantasies. The idea of someone being swept away through a gate or door into another world is fascinating. The author here has done a nice job of worldbuilding in creating Somalie. It is peopled by different creatures from myth and folklore. and he's added good detail about the various peoples and beasts. The world itself is described well from the forests through swamps and into the mountains. It is easy for the reader to become engrossed in this world.
The writing is good with nice pacing and a good flow to the story. The dialogue has the occasional funny moment as Kaitlynn's view of the world collides with how the people of Somalie think things should go. The battle scenes work well with excellent detail on the thrust of spears or the slashing of a sword.
The developing relationship between Kaitlynn and Faljon is interesting. The author is careful not to rush them into anything so it evolves in a natural manner that is entirely believable.
I very much enjoyed my venture into the world of Somalie and I hope to be reading more from this new fantasy author. Mr. Cesca is someone to watch for.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review: Calming the Storm by Melanie Snitker

When Brandon offers Rachel a chance to resolve some of her problems, she isn't sure she should take
his help. She is trying to gain custody of her niece after her sister's death, she's being evicted, and has to drop out of school. Brandon is attracted to Rachel, but he just wants to help her after praying on the matter.
This is a sweet Christian romance. Brandon and his family are wonderful people. Rachel is a little prickly at first, but she learns that it's okay to have help sometimes. A very nice story.

Link to Amazon

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

New Release: The Stairs in the Woods by Matthew Cesca

After spending most of her life a continent away, Kaitlynn Jenson has come home to Connecticut to tend to her ailing father. But little does she know, her father has been the guardian of a deep family secret that goes back nearly a hundred generations; one that will embroil her in an adventure of a lifetime in a far away land that she never could have dreamed of, and a battle for the survival of two very different worlds.

Link to Amazon

Trad Tuesday: Flowers of the Forest sung by Isla St Clair

Earliest found in print 1746.
The Battle of Flodden Field took place in 1513. Because of the alliance between Scotland and France, James IV attacked England when Henry VIII invaded France. The Battle of Flodden was a disaster for the Scots, with estimates of Scottish losses numbering as high as ten thousand. Numerous nobles were killed in the battle, including King James.
Jane (Jean) Elliot (1727-1805) wrote the poem "The Flowers of the Forest A Lament for Flodden". She published it anonymously circa 1755. It was, at the time, thought to be an ancient surviving ballad. However, Burns suspected it was an imitation, and Burns, Ramsay, and Sir Walter Scott eventually discovered who wrote the song. The tune is much older, echoing the Old Welsh poem Y Gododdin about a similar defeat in about 600.
Due to the content of the lyrics and the reverence for the tune, it is one of the few tunes that many pipers will perform in public only at funerals or memorial services, with play otherwise limited to private practice or to instruct other pipers.

I've heard them liltin' at the ewe milking
Lassies are liltin' before dawn o' day
Now there's a moanin' on ilka green loanin'
The Flow'rs o' the Forest are a' wede awa'.

At baughts in the morning, nae blythe lads are scornin'
Lassies are lanely and dowie and wae;
Nae daffin', nae gabbin', but sighin' and sabbin'
Ilk ane lifts her leglin, and hies her awa'.

At e'en in the gloamin', nae swankies are roamin'
'Bout stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play;
But ilk maid sits drearie, lamentin' her dearie,
The Flow'rs o' the Forest are a' wede awa'.

In har'st at the shearin', nae youths now are jeerin',
Bandsters are runkled, an' lyart, or grey;
At fair or at preachin', nae wooin', nae fleechin',
The Flow'rs o' the Forest are a' wede awa'.

Dool for the order sent our lads to the Border,
The English, for ance, by guile, won the day;
The Flow'rs o' the Forest that fought aye the foremost,
The prime o' our land lie cauld i' the clay.

We'll hae nae mair liltin' at the ewe-milkin',
Women an' bairns are heartless an' wae;
Sighin' an' moanin' on ilka green loanin',
The Flow'rs o' the Forest are a' wede awa'.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Book Review: When Time Stands Still by Sara Furlong Burr

Elle Sloan hasn't seen Luke Hutchins in over a decade since she broke up with him over the phone.
His mother calls her because Luke was in a bad car accident and can't remember anything since the time he and Elle were together in college. She agrees to go see him, hoping to help recover. There are just a few complications: Elle is married, Luke's family and friends still blame her for the breakup, and Elle has her own issues from her background to cope with.
I love second-chance stories, and Ms. Burr does a nice job on this one. The book goes back and forth from the current time to the ten years earlier when Elle and Luke met. It builds the story quite nicely and the pacing is good. Elle and Luke are a good pair though I did think that Elle might have displayed more angst over her background - her mother's alcoholism and the bad boyfriend - than she did; it would have made her eventual reason for the breakup to be more believable.
The secondary characters are fun. Both Mena and Malone deserve their own book as Mena's dialogue is hilarious.
The writing is okay. There's a bit too much passive voice, tense changes, and some YA tropes and over-writing such as: "I know I look like a hot mess - one that has been stomped on by an elephant, run over by a train, and then shit on by life." The story is so good I wish some of this had been addressed, but I didn't find it too distracting.
Anyway, this was a good story, and I enjoyed the read very much. Readers who like second-chance romances will like this one.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Book Release, Review, & Giveaway: Flip the Beat by Roxanne D Howard

Flip the Beat
by Roxanne D. Howard
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance, Modern Day Fairy Tale, Romantic Comedy
Release Date: July 10th, 2018

Molly Ivers thinks she is falling for the opposite of Prince Charming, and she knows she should give him up, but, oh, the temptation.

Molly Ivers thought she found Prince Charming, complete with a devilishly sexy accent, and six months ago she gave into their undeniable attraction. But the swarm of ever-present groupies was so not part of the fairy tale. As much as it hurt her heart, she shut out rocker Evan Castle.
Now, on the verge of finishing her graduate degree and moving to Paris—she even hires a French life coach—Molly begins to realize Evan, who hasn't given up on her, might be the man of her dreams after all.

Molly has her life set; she's about to graduate and has a dream job lined up in Paris. Sure, Evan, the guy who lives downstairs, rocked her world six months ago, but that's in the past - she thinks. Evan has other plans.
This is a fun and quick read. Molly and Evan are a nice couple. Evan has hidden depths, and I was glad to see Molly give him a chance. I didn't quite understand the parts about her life coach; to me, Molly was pretty together, and that part seemed superficial. But I loved her roommate and the dance instructor. They deserve their own book.

Roxanne D. Howard writes sizzling erotic romance with Boroughs Publishing Group and The Wild Rose Press. She is a U.S. Army veteran, and a Columbia College alumni. She loves to read poetry, classical literature, and Stephen King. Also, she is an avid Star Wars fan, musical theater nut, and marine biology geek. Roxanne resides in the western U.S., and when she's not writing, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, children, and furry companions. Roxanne loves to hear from her readers, and encourages you to contact her via her website and social media.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Promo Blitz: Days of Reign by Elisa Hansen

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Dystopian Fiction
Date Published: June 29, 2018

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Described as Dune meets The Hunger Games, this epic narrative of survival will have you in suspense and intrigue. Set in the futuristic world of Eldon, our hero, Zelenka, is forced to abandon everything she loves for a chance at freedom.

With parallels to today’s global crises, this book will have you questioning; would you risk it all?

It is year 2107 and the planet which was once called Earth (now Eldon), is ruled by a single, oppressive government.  Many of those who suffered under the tyrannical rule of Eldon, have fled to a neighbouring planet, Amaryllis, and attempted to grow a utopian society.

Relations between the two worlds are fraught.  Each believe the other to be evil.  Each believe it is their responsibility to save humankind from the other.

Within this interplanetary political backdrop, lives Zelenka.  The Eldonian teenager is forced to hide her intelligence and knowledge.  Na├»ve and idealistic, she has never fitted into Eldonian life.  She longs to openly be herself but is terrified of the government’s harsh rules and punishments.

“Zelenka is a true hero to me,” says the author, Elisa Hansen. “She has a strength of character that I see in many women facing similar fates today. Facets of the Eldon society mirror the present. Our heroes should not always the ones who succeed, but the people with true intent, and drive, to change.”

About the Author

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Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Elisa Hansen was curious about other worlds. The travel bug bit her young, and she spent her early years with a pack on her back and hiking boots on her feet. Beyond exploring she loves to dance, cook, eat, learn other languages and paint.

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