Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review: Huntsman by Daniel Moore

Huntsman is a short story/novella about Grimm, a mercenary type known for his ability to track, whether people or animals. He is hired to find a woman Simone who has killed the French king.
He tracks her to a mostly uninhabited forest area where he encounters creatures of legend. This all takes place in medieval times when the Christian Church is in control. Grimm is an adherent of the Norse goddess Hel.
It was an interesting story and very well written, partly based on actual people. I enjoyed the mythic parts of the story and they fit in very well in this medieval tale, making the story part fairy tale. All in all I would definitely recommend this story.

Link to Amazon

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review: One More Life by T.R. Lykins

This is the third book in the Last Heartbeat series. I would give it 3.5 stars. It's a sweet romance about a girl Elizabeth who had cancer as a teen, though it's gone into remission after a bone marrow transplant. Because of her illness her relationships with two guys, one high school, the other college, don't pan out. She finally meets her soulmate, Tyler, when she becomes a pre-school teacher for his friend's child.
The writing is somewhat stilted and repetitive. Because the proposal scene is also the prologue as a flashback, the story is not a surprise. But the parts dealing with the sickness and transplant are interesting.
I was given this book by the author for an honest review.

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: The Lot Attendant by Jason Robert Cornelius

Jordie Flank is a man who has been floundering on the brink of madness nearly all his life. Occasionally things in his life look up as when he's living with his grandmother in Montana and going to school or when he marries Hope. Mostly his life is a mess even if a lot of it seems self-inflicted. He's angry all the time and spends his time in futile gestures of defiance.
This is a powerful story, well-written, and giving the reader a lot to think about. Jordie's solutions to his issues are horrifying, but it's hard to see any other paths for his salvation.
Though somewhat short (around 100 pages) it is not a quick read because the reader needs time to think about the action. The main story is interposed with flashbacks that give some meaning (if there is any) to what drives Jordie to his final solution.
It's a great read and I look to see more from this author.

Link to Amazon

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trad Tuesday - Star of the County Down sung by Van Morrison and the Chieftains

Star of the County Down is a ballad written by Cathal McGarvey (1866-1927) and set to a tune used by several other songs. The folk tune itself is the basis for Ralph Vaughan Williams' Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus.

This song has been sung by many different performers, but I chose Van Morrison backed by the Chieftains. Van Morrison is one of the preeminent Northern Irish singers today, is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has also been knighted. The Chieftains are the foremost traditional group in Ireland today.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review - The Life Gift by T.R. Lykins

I'd give this book 3 1/2 stars. This is a quick read and a sequel to Last Heartbeat. Kristen has found her own happiness with Jacob, but wants to give the gift of a baby to her friends Alexia and Phillip (from the Last Heartbeat). This is an interesting story of surrogacy and motherhood.
I found the writing good but stilted during dialogue. The story is written in first person Kristen's POV which was fine, but it was kind of hurried through. And while I didn't mind at all that the sex was not graphic, I was kind of turned off by the 'wink, wink' innuendo. Still it was an interesting story.

Link to Amazon

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book Review - Wolf Born by N.Gosney

Wolf Born By Natalie Gosney is an interesting take on werewolf stories. I happen to love Martin Millar's series about werewolves so I wanted to see how this compared. I was very pleased that it stands up very well.
Carly is home waiting for her boyfriend Rob to get in from a night out with the boys. Someone is lurking outside her house and that starts off a series of odd events. Fortunately, Kyle, a friend of Rob's, shows up to guide her.
Kyle was very likeable and a good mate for Carly (unlike Rob), so I was interested to see how their friendship/romance developed. And I liked the mixing of Indian culture and the skinchanger legends that are brought into the werewolf culture here.
The book is well-written and most of the story is seamless. There were a few places where I thought that things happening were too coincidental, but I don't want to give anything away. It was a good story and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

Link to Amazon

Friday, August 21, 2015

Vacation in the Oxford Hills - Norway Lake

The Oxford Hills are full of lakes and ponds, lovely clear water filled with fish and waterfowl. Residents take advantage of them for sport and recreation. The largest is Long Lake over in Harrison, but I based Antrim Lake in The Black Swans on Lake Pennesseewassee, or Norway Lake as it's often called.

There are ducks, geese, loons, and alls sorts of waterfowl to enjoy.

Many of the lakes are stocked and abound with togue, salmon, bass, cusk, pickerel, and sunnies for the little ones to catch and release. There is all sorts of boating, both motor, jet ski, and sailing. In winter, there is snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ice skating.

And there is swimming of course. My children would be in the water at ice-out, shivering and blue. In summer, the top layers will warm up, but a deep dive on a hot day is the best cure for cooling off.

Come to the Oxford Hills with the entire family and enjoy yourself year round. Maybe you'll even see some black swans!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Love over Lamb by J.M. Steger

This is a very sweet short story, the first in a series. Milo is a little goofy and Chance is tender and loving. I very much enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next installment.

Link to Amazon

Trad Tuesday - Wild Mountain Thyme performed by Ed Sheeran

The Song Wild Mountain Thyme is also known as Will ye go Lassie, go and Purple Heather. The lyrics are a variant of the song The Braes of Balquhither by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill (1774-1810). Tannahill was a contemporary of Robert Burns and the song is about the hills (braes) around Balquihidder near Lochearnhead.

Francis McPeake from a well-known Belfast musical family set the words to music in the 1950's. That is the version heard today and performed by hundreds of musicians all over the world. The latest one that I've heard is performed by Ed Sheeran, the Scottish folk/pop singer.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review - ROBERT - THE WAYWARD PRINCE: The Warriors of the Cross by Austin Hernon

Robert, son of William the Conqueror, known to history as Robert Curthose is an interesting historical figure.  The Warriors of the Cross is the second of three volumes. I did not read the first book, but I know the history pretty well, so it was easy to pick up the story.
Robert is going on Crusade. His mistress and children are in England, so he decides to participate in the First Crusade. He has to leave Normandy in the hands of his brother William. On his way back he marries Sybil but finds out that his brother has died and he has a chance to be King of England.
It was interesting to read all this detail on Robert's life, however fictionalized. He is not especially well regarded by history being somewhat ineffective as a leader and politician. The book is well-written and I enjoyed it.

Link to Amazon

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Release - Love Over Lamb by J.M.Steger

"A story of a hope, fear, anxiety, and unconditional love. Join Milo in this short-story as he hopes to find someone who will love him without conditions and accept him as he is. 

Milo is a transgender man in search of acceptance not only with his parents who have all but disowned him but from his new love interest Chance. However, Chance doesn't know that Milo is transgender - can Chance accept Milo and love him without conditions?"

Author J.M. Steger lives in Dallas, Texas. You can follow him at

Link to Amazon

Book Review: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

Generally I only review books on this blog that have been given to me for that purpose or because they have been recommended to me in some way. I don't usually review books that I read for my own enjoyment, but I'm making an exception for The Lure of the Moonflower, the twelfth and final book in the Pink Carnation series. Here's my review:

I have been waiting for and dreading this book. I started back in 2004 with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and have faithfully read every one of the twelve books in the series as well as the novellas, Lauren's FB posts, and all her other books. I knew that this was going to be the last book in a series that I love.
One of the reasons I love these books is that they are so well researched. Very few other Regency romance books have notes and sources at the end. The other thing that sets them apart is the modern component. The Regency stories are intermixed with chapters about Eloise, an American in England researching her doctoral thesis and Colin, the erstwhile descendent of the spies that Eloise is researching. The progression of their romance and adventures through the books has been fun and it is quite satisfying to finally see them wed with some very funny moments.
Jane is the Pink Carnation, the spy who with other friends and family has been frustrating Napoleon and his own spymasters. She finally has her own happy ending with the Moonflower, Jack, who is also the son of Miss Gwen's new husband, Colonel Reid. They have various adventures traveling through Portugal in an attempt to rescue Queen Maria from the French. Many of my favorite characters from the other books make appearances including Miss Gwen and her purple sword parasol, the Purple Gentian, Richard Selwick, his sister Henrietta and her biscuit eating husband Miles, and Lizzie Reid, Jack's little sister. I would have liked to see Tulip one more time, but now I have an excuse to go back and reread the series.
It's a wonderful read and a fine ending to a terrific series. Bravo, Ms. Willig.

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Indie Spotlight - The Lot Attendant by Jason Robert Cornelius

“It’s the little things that drive a man to madness.” ~Charles Bukowski
That man is Jordie Flank, parking-lot attendant for a college bookstore. Overeducated, underemployed and unable to psychologically filter out life’s small annoyances, Jordie is slowly going insane.
Living in a perpetual state of anxiety and perceived injustices, Jordie’s tenuous grip on reality is utterly undone by the death of his wife. Once his descent begins, Jordie rapidly spirals toward absolute madness, yielding to the deafeningly final compulsion to commit mass murder.
It’s not always madness the ‘little things’ drive a man to -- Sometimes it’s the morgue.

BioJason Cornelius is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Communications, class of 2005. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, he currently resides in Montana with his wife, Wendy.

ReviewA riveting, stunningly graphic and professionally written portrayal of an everyman caught in the grip of overwhelming circumstances that drive him to the edge of madness. A scathing and uncompromising indictment of a godless and indifferent world that is much too close to reality for anyone's comfort. If it's sugar coating you're looking for, this is definitely not for you. One could call it a present-day dystopian novella, which is astonishingly fresh and original besides. One could also call it a news story examined under a powerful microscope. Highly recommended. RoZ Berry Verified Amazon Purchase

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Trad Tuesday - And if Venice is Sinking by Spirit of the West

And if Venice is Sinking is not a traditional tune nor is is particularly Celtic. The band, Spirit of the West, is a Canadian folk-rock band with Celtic influences. But I love this song and its tribute to Venice and the art and culture that would be lost if Venice floods. And since it's my blog I decided that is was the song I would share with you today.

From the chorus:  Venice is sinking, I'm going under
'Cause beauty's religion and it's christened me with wonder

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Release - The Red Fang by Nicola C. Matthews

Blurb:  Hopeless, pointless. Those were the words on the lips of everyone still left standing in our small, supernatural community.

The vampire Stealth had barely escaped with his immortal life after the SHiELD of Humanity attacked his home, a home which now lay in ruins on the outskirts of Shadow Cove.

The lycan clans were being picked off one by one, the few remaining remnants scattered to the winds. Entire species and families were being eradicated—a full blown extermination, for no reason other than we were different and feared by the humans. Our lives were being cut short, but we would not stand idly by and watch as our families were destroyed.

We would unite, fight to the bitter end, all declaring as one: We are no different than the humans, and we have the right to exist—to live. Battle lines have been drawn, but the war has just begun.

If you love paranormal fantasy packed with action and romance, then Nicola C. Matthews’ The Red Fang – Book One in the Before the Sun Rises Series – is for you.


 The Red Fang

Before the Sun Rises Series
Book 2
Nicola C. Matthews
Ashton Jones was a serial killer. Until he was recruited by the S.H.i.E.L.D. organization, he had only had the pleasure of torturing humans. Now he’d been given the very unique opportunity to not only torture, but possibly even kill a vampire. He was finding the entire experience very much to his liking.
The young female vampire strapped to the table only looked young. At least, she used to look young. The vampire known as Jasmine had been starved of blood for nearly a month now. Had she not been feeding on a regular basis, Ashton’s systematic starvation of the vampire would not have worked. However, although she might have been nearing eighty years a vampire, she was still feeding off the blood of the living nearly every day.
The starvation had made the vampire weaker both physically and mentally, but it also made her very dangerous. Since her body was used to receiving fresh blood on a regular basis, the bloodlust had taken hold of her mind about two weeks into Ashton’s session with her.
Starvation was a great tool to use when interrogating a vampire, but one had to be careful. Ashton had been forced to crank up his torture a few notches in order to drag her mind back from the frenzy it was staying in, due to the starvation tactic. The female’s bones had been broken so many times they were no longer healing properly, thanks in part to the lack of fresh blood, and also simply because they had been broken so many times. The consistent breaking in the same place so many dozens of times had now produced unsightly lumps and bulges all over the vampire’s arms and legs.
This information in itself was useful to the agency, especially since Ashton had been hired specifically to extract as much information out of the vampire as possible. The agency had already conducted numerous experiments on the vampire and werewolf anatomy. What they wanted now was the information their experimentation could not tell them.
Jasmine’s sunken brown eyes followed Ashton as he moved toward the table that held the small bag of human blood. She tried to lick her cracked lips, but her mouth had stopped producing saliva a few days ago. The only thing that gave her any relief now were the few teaspoons of blood Ashton gave her from time to time, either as a reward for giving him the information he wanted or as a way to keep the bloodlust from taking over her mind so completely.
“Please, Ashton, I’m begging you. End it! I’ve told you everything I know. Please … Please … kill me already. I simply cannot bear it any longer!”
Ashton smiled, although with his back turned to the undead creature, she couldn’t see the cruelty stamped on his handsome face.
“I have no intentions of killing you, Jasmine,” he said quietly.
The vampire let out a high pitched wail. “What more do you want from me?” she screamed, thrashing around on the table in another attempt to get loose of the restraints. “I don’t know anything more than what I have already said to you hundreds of times now!”
She began crying again, the sobs almost painful to Ashton’s ears. The agency thought the sound was some type of warning system the vampires could use to alert each other of danger. It was also a weapon of sorts, as the high-pitched frequency could really hurt the human ear if it was used right.
Now the vampire was crying uncontrollably, babbling almost incoherently in between the racking sobs. “The werewolves don’t carry viruses. The scientists have already told the world this. They don’t become werewolves or any other type of wereanimal by being bitten. That’s a bunch of nonsense invented for the movies.” She continued to pull at the metal restraints, her frightened, tear-filled eyes darting around the room as she talked.
“It’s like the scientists say, it’s a gene some of them carry that gets switched on at some point in their lives. I don’t know how it works. I just know once the gene is activated the person is no longer susceptible to any type of disease.”
Ashton turned away from the small table where he had been busy, loving how Jasmine’s eyes grew wide in terror as she saw the bone saw he carried in his hand.
“The human scientists already know everything I know about werewolves, and you people know more than the scientists do!”
Ashton pushed the button on the bone saw a few times, the high-pitched buzz filling the room. Jasmine cringed at the sound and began whimpering, her body thrashing on the table in spasms driven by fear.
“What about the vampires?” he asked.
She shook her head violently. “I already told you!” she screamed.
Ashton turned on the saw again. Jasmine began rattling off the same information she had already told him a dozen times before in the past few months. “You don’t become a vampire by being bitten, either! We don’t know it works.”
The small female vampire pulled her arms against the restraints, the metal digging so deep into her flesh the bones were close to breaking. She was so desperate to escape she was causing almost as much damage to her body as Ashton had. Almost.
“If it’s not a virus, then how do you go about making new vampires?” he asked, playing with the button on the saw.
The vampire hissed at the sound, but she kept talking. “Whoever is being embraced must be drained of blood. They have to be nearly dead for the transformation to work. Once the human is almost dead, you have to feed them the sire’s blood.” She kept pulling at the restraints, the bones beginning to fracture under the strain. The vampire did not seem to notice. “But they have to be almost dead! If they are not nearing death then it won’t work.”
“Tell me more about the blood, Jasmine,” he whispered softly, reaching down to grasp her right arm in his hand. He yanked the arm upward suddenly, forcibly, snapping the bone at the wrist.
“Be still, or you’ll break the other one,” he said quietly.
The vampire’s sunken eyes were huge in her pale face, the pupils dilated so much there was barely any white visible in them at all. She only groaned when the bone of her arm broke, her fear so great she could concentrate on little else.
Her breathing was heavy and erratic as she continued to tell Ashton the same things that had now been repeated a hundred times. “I don’t know why our blood makes a regular human stronger when they drink it!” She began shaking her head back and forth as Ashton came closer with the saw, flicking the button on and off as the vampire began to shake uncontrollably on the table.
“I don’t know who discovered the properties of our blood. I don’t know who began selling it as a designer drug. I don’t know, Ashton, I swear I don’t! If I knew I would tell you. My sire abandoned me right after I was embraced. He left me to fend for myself! If I knew of an older vampire who knew these things I would tell you! I swear it, Ashton! Please don’t!”
Jasmine’s screams echoed off the white tiled walls as Ashton turned on the saw and placed it against her naked abdomen.
“Last chance to tell me something useful,” he said happily.
“I don’t know anything else!” she shrieked.
Ashton only smiled, the sound of the vampire’s screams eventually being drowned out by the droning of the saw blade as the bits of flesh and blood spattered his face and hands. God, how he loved his job!

Author Bio:  Nicola Matthews was born and raised in southern MS where she resides with her husband of twenty years, their three children, and their pet Yorkie. She loves music and her favourite thing todo to de-stress is crank up the tunes and hit the treadmill. Nicola enjoys reading as well as watching movies, shopping, and meeting new people. Her favourite genres include mystery thrillers and supernatural/fantasy movies and books.

 Link to Amazon

Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review: Hope from the Ocean by P.S. Bartlett

Hope from the Ocean is a lovely book about a family in Ireland. It is a prequel to Fireflies though I read it second which I think was probably better in some ways. Two brothers become orphans and must go to live with their Uncle Dan and his family in 1820-30's Ireland. While Dillion, the younger brother, fits in almost immediately, Patrick, the older brother, often feels out of place. Finally, he runs away to go to America.
The story switches to a young Owen Whelan who lands in Philadephia with his mother Rachel.Owen studies to become a doctor while they live with his aunt and uncle.
Both stories are well-written and they are two separate stories. Since I read the sequel already, I know how they link together, but I think another reader might find them disjointed and confusing if they hadn't read Fireflies. But taken on their own I enjoyed both stories very much. The Irish family was well-drawn and interesting to read about. The Philadephia story I found slightly less interesting, but still enjoyable. I would read more by this author.

Link to Amazon

Thursday, August 6, 2015

‘Black Swans’ come to a fictional Norway - Sun Media Group

‘Black Swans’ come to a fictional Norway - Sun Media Group

I was very pleased with this interview and story about The Black Swans in the Advertiser-Democrat today.

Book Review: Tilly's Troubles by JR McKinlay

Tilly's Troubles is a whimsical story about Tilly, a young girl who lives with her great-aunt. The Doctor and the Reverend are friends of her aunt's and they look out for Tilly when her aunt passes away. Meanwhile, Tilly travels to Secundas Terra, a parallel world to Earth in her dreams and visits with her friend, Amber. She appears as a ghost girl on Secundas Terra, but goes to school with Amber. It is because of this that she discovers she is a witch.
Because of an accidental spell that Amber casts, Tilly must flee for her life and travels to Secundas Terra in actuality. There she has many adventures trying to escape from forces of evil that are hunting her. I don't want to give too much away, but she meets many new and interesting people. Her familiar Abeo travels with her along Amber and we still have the Doctor and the Reverend. All of the action takes place in one day, although there are flashbacks to previous days.
I should warn you that this is book one in a series. The author gives credit to the Harry Potter books and there are certainly elements of Harry's personality in Tilly. This is a great book for teens and adults who like whimsical storytelling. The book could use an editor, but the grammar issues do not interfere with the flow of the story. In all I found this an interesting read, perfect for fans of JK Rowling.

Link to Amazon

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Release - Abandon by Jerusha Moors

Aubrey St. Clare, Viscount Lovell, fled to the Continent when confronted with stories about the woman he loved. He has now returned to find out that what he was told is untrue. 
Lady Lucilla Blount was abandoned five years earlier. Now Aubrey has returned and Lucy must confront him to find out why he left and if he will stay this time. 
Does she dare trust her heart once again? Will they have a second chance at love?

Trad Tuesday - Uileann Pipes vs Bag Pipes

Probably everyone knows what bagpipes are and what they sound like. Their less well-known cousins are the Uileann pipes. 
Bagpipes are from Scotland and are inflated by blowing the bag through a blow-pipe. Uileann pipes, on the other hand, originated in Ireland and are inflated by a bellows held under the arm and pumped.

Here are Richard Parkes from Newtownards, Co.Down on bagpipes, and Trevor Stewart from Belfast on Uilleann Pipes, playing a hornpipe called Jimmy Blue, followed by a selection of jigs.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Book Review: Last Heartbeat by T.R. Lykins

This was an interesting book in that it is a romance about a couple who each had organs transplanted. It adds some difficulties to their romance that a reader doesn't often see occur. Alexia was fifteen when she had her failing heart transplanted. Phillip was a little older when he lost his liver and his brother.
Otherwise, it's a fairly predictable college romance with the evil girl trying to steal away the guy and the friendly roommate for the girl. It's probably perfect for younger readers in their teens.
I did find the writing style somewhat stilted. Teenagers today use contractions when they speak, not everything is I will and I could not. And the book itself was very repetitious. It was told in alternating POVs, but by about a third of the way through I found I could just skip Phillip's chapters because most of it had been covered in Alexia's chapter before.

Link to Amazon