Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: Seventh Decimate by Stephen R Donaldson

Prince Bifalt of Belleger has long fought in the war his country has waged for many years against their neighbor Amika. Magisters use sorcery, waging fire, wind, pestilence, earthquake, drought, and lightning, the Six Decimates, from safe perches while men on either side die below them. The people are suffering from the long war, crops ruined and homes destroyed. Belleger's only advantage is the use of rifles which Amika doesn't have (though they need magic to forge the iron), but otherwise, their army seems in the ascendant when suddenly, all magic disappears. The cause is the Seventh Decimate.
Bifalt is sent with a company of men by his father the king to find a book that holds the secret of the Seventh Decimate. They hope to finally win the war or at least negate Amika's use of sorcery. Belleger is hemmed in on all sides by impassable boundaries, but Bifalt plans to cross an endless desert to find the Last Repository, the library that holds the book he needs.
Donaldson has long been one of my very favorite fantasy authors; Mordant's Need is possibly my favorite fantasy series, and the Thomas Covenant books also have pride of place on my bookshelf. The Great God's War series looks to be another very enjoyable series, and I look forward to the next books.
Prince Bifalt is an antihero without the sympathy the reader could dredge up for Thomas Covenant because of his leprosy. Bifalt is a warrior who hates magic without much understanding of it; he only knows what he sees of it in battle. He's stubborn, makes a lot of mistakes, and is focused only on destroying Amica and preserving his own country. His worldview is extremely limited at the beginning of the book, and as he proceeds on his quest, Bifalt finds it hard to expand his perspectives despite traveling and meeting new peoples. Most of the book I and many of the characters just want to shake him to wake him up, but he's mostly stubbornly stuck in his own views.
"Regardless of his stature, his significance or meaninglessness, he had to be who he was. He had no other choice. The scale of the world did not change what he had to do, or why he cared about it."
Very slowly he starts to learn:
"A man is not a man at all if he cannot enter and enjoy every chamber of himself."
I love the way Donaldson writes. I always learn new words and I greatly admire how he uses them in his stories. The names of the two countries, Belleger and Amika, derive from Latin words for war and friendship for example. It makes me wonder about Bifalt's view of the two countries; he's wrong about so much, and I suspect this is a hint that his view here is flawed also. The three Magisters at the Last Repository are men, one who is dumb, one deaf, and one who is blind. The symbolism harks back to the old proverb "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". The Six Decimates have both evil and good sides though Bifalt is slow to see any positive.
I truly savor Donaldson's works, and there's a lot to think about in the Seventh Decimate. The various characters are interesting and the worldbuilding is excellent. War is brutal - the battles are called 'hells' - and there's always two sides to everything, much to Bifalt's dismay; he's determined to only see what benefits his father, the king, and his country. How can you not love a book with lines like this:
"Words could not contain his vehemence. Instead, he uttered them like splashes of blood from the cut of a blade."

I usually only review Indie or small publisher books on this blog, but occasionally I have to add one for a favorite author.

Book Blitz: Faith, Hope, & Love series by Linda Lee Williams

Now on sale $.99 for the series!

The Breadth of the Soul:
She doesn't know who she is or why she's come to Colorado Springs. Dustin has no idea why he's met her. Kayla whispers that her name is Ruby--if he can believe the voice of a spirit in the night. Separate tragedies, years apart, form an invisible bond between Ruby and him. A chance encounter over the Holidays? Or a match made in Heaven? Only Kayla knows for sure...

The Depth of the Spirit:
When an accident leaves Thomas crippled and in a wheelchair, he resigns himself to life as a bachelor--not an easy thing for a young man to accept. Then fate drops Margot in his lap. Margot understands the frustrations and challenges of Thomas' disability. She knows the pain of loss. Has serendipity brought Thomas and Margot together? Or has his dead friend's prophecy come true? Only Kayla knows for sure...

The Ascent of the Heart:
Lorena exists in the confines of her troubled past. When her nephew, Braedon, comes along, he frees her from her suffocating life. Then Artie arrives with a few liberating tricks of his own--good food, good company, and a not-so-deaf ear. In the wings, someone else watches and listens. Someone who bears Lorena's and Artie's most painful secrets and deepest wounds. Will the couple need a little heavenly help? Only Kayla knows for sure...

Book Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway: The Lost Macaw by B.L. Blair

Date Published: 12/14/17

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The Lost Macaw is the fourth novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

A former client hires Alex to find her lost parrot. The bright colored bird has flown away before, but this time there is evidence that Molly was kidnapped. The demand is simple—the bird for the pictures.

When her client suffers a stroke, Alex is left with a ransom note, a missing bird, and some very incriminating photos. She is in a race against time to solve the mystery of the lost Macaw.


“Your little old lady is quite interesting, Alex,” Halie said.
“What do you mean?”
“She didn’t exist until about thirty years ago.”
“I did a preliminary background search on her. In general, she is clean. No debt. The house is paid off as is her car. The one thing that jumped out at me was the fact that she had a safe deposit box at four different banks.”
Luke raised one eyebrow. I got a sinking feeling. I had noted the bank accounts but hadn’t really given them much thought.
“Yeah,” I said, “I saw those.”
“So why does an eighty-year-old woman need four safe deposit boxes?”
“Why does she need more than one?” Luke muttered.
“Exactly,” Halie said. “So I dug a little deeper.”
“What did you find?”
“About thirty years ago, Joseph and Trudy Kearns purchased the house on Carriage. Back then, it was a new neighborhood, and the prices were cheap. They paid cash. They also opened a bank account, and Joe got a job working for the city. Those are the first records I can find for either one of them.”
“Trudy would have been fifty at that time. Her husband probably a few years older. What about birth certificates? Social security cards?”
“They had them, but conveniently, they were issued from a small county in Virginia where a massive flood destroyed all their records. The county office was in the process of moving the old paper records to electronic when the flood hit.”
“Let me guess. The Kearns’s records did not survive the flood.”
“So the only records for them are the ones they had in their possession.” I paused a moment. “Do they look real?”
“Yes,” Halie replied.
“So they could be authentic.”
“Or really good forgeries. In some ways, it was easier back then.”
“Anything else?” I asked.
“Not really. Like I said, she’s pretty clean. Lives on a fixed income of social security and a small pension from her husband’s job. It isn’t much because he only worked for the city for twelve years before he had to retire.”
“This isn’t looking good.”
“I’ll keep digging. See if anything else turns up.”
“Okay, thanks Halie.”
After ending the call, I looked a Luke. He had a perplexed look on his face that I had a feeling mirrored mine.
“Who the hell is Trudy Kearns?”

About the Author

B. L. Blair writes mystery/romance stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.
She is the author of the Holton Romance Series, the Leah Norwood Mysteries, and the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Series. She enjoys reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Book Release and Excerpt: Second Chances by Kimberley O'Malley

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: 11/30/17
Publisher: Carolina Blue Publishing

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 Dr. Charlotte Avery is the newest resident of Windsor Falls, North Carolina. Just back from the war-ravaged plains of Africa, Charlie only wants to settle into her new life and to reconnect with Elizabeth Fitzgerald, her best friend from residency. What she doesn’t expect, or need, is the instant attraction she feels for Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, Brendan. A single dad, Brendan Fitzgerald isn’t interested in anything that will further complicate his life. Will they be open to a second chance?

Elizabeth nodded, a suspicious smile spreading across her face. “Speaking of the Fitzgeralds, how’s it going with Brendan?”
Charlie tried to act cool but failed miserably. She glanced around to ensure they were alone. Gossip mills thrived in hospitals. “Fabulous.” She felt a blush spread across her cheekbones.
Elizabeth clapped her hands together. “I knew it! Tell me everything.”
“Shush. I don’t want to be the next topic of conversation around here. Besides, it’s very new. As in this week.”
“Really? I would swear there were sparks with you two from the moment you met.”
“Oh, there were. But we’re both being cautious for obvious reasons.”
Elizabeth tilted her head. “Obvious reasons?”
Charlie blew out a long breath and turned her chair to face Elizabeth. “He’s very careful about dating because of the girls. And I, well, that’s a long story.”
Elizabeth rolled her chair closer until her knees bumped Charlie’s. “And you? What?” Her mouth turned down and her shoulders drooped. “I know there’s something going on with you. Something you haven’t been able to tell me yet. I’m here for you.”
Tears sprang to her eyes. She took Elizabeth’s hands in hers. “I know that, Elizabeth. And I’m thankful. The time has never been right.” She glanced at her friend’s pregnant belly. “But, I’m dealing with it. Really.”
Elizabeth grasped her hands and squeezed. “My being pregnant has nothing to do with this, Charlie. I’m here for you, no matter what. As you were there for me in Los Angeles.”
Charlie pulled her hands free and swiped at the tears that had leaked from her eyes. She offered up a watery smile. “I know, Elizabeth. And I will tell you. Everything. But in my own time.”

“Okay, then. So, back to juicy details about Brendan.” She screwed up her face. “On the other hand, he’s like a brother to me, so not so juicy.”

About the Author

Kimberley O’Malley is a recent transplant to Charlotte, North Carolina from the frozen North. She is learning to say y’all but draws the line at sweet tea. Sarcasm is an art form in her world. When not writing, she is a full-time nurse and part-time soccer Mom, but not necessarily in that order. She shares her life with an amazing husband of more than twenty years, two teenagers, and one very sweet Shetland Sheepdog, Molly.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book Release, Review, and Giveaway: Pink Lock Socks and Sequined Witch Hats by Carla Rehse

Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats
by Carla Rehse
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Witches must bond with humans in order to produce children—and once the bond is made, it cannot easily be broken.

Imagine seventeen-year-old Gracie Mason’s surprise when she accidentally bonds with a witch named Asher. Sure, he’s cute, but that’s beside the point. She’s not gonna settle for a guy just because she’s magically bound to him.

To dissolve the bond, Gracie must seek out another witch to perform a magical rite. However, matters become considerably more complicated when witches begin turning up dead. Wanting nothing more than to get on with her life, Gracie must now team up with her new witchy friend and wade deeper into a complex world of enchantment and intrigue.

Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats is an enthralling story of magic, mystery, and murder—and each new twist will draw you further under its spell.

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Book Review:

Gracie Mason is accidentally bonded with Asher Halrick when a magical spell goes wrong and is drawn into a world of magic and murder, far different from the exclusive and privileged life she leads. 
Asher and his twin sister Willow are both witches. He is adorable and she's the cute geeky girl. Neither would normally be part of Gracie's social set which are mostly mean girls and their rich counterparts. Her parents are a wreck, divorced and using Gracie (as she uses them) to fight each other. 
I tried hard, but I couldn't like Gracie. She's the queen of mean girls and doesn't really mature to a better person. There's hints she could be nice once in awhile, but they don't really make up for her obsession with designer clothes and lack of regard for anyone not of her status. 
This is a well-written and fast-paced YA story. It's not a book I'd normally read, but I do think fans of the genre would really like it. 

Although not a native Texan, Carla prides herself on having mastered the correct usage of “y’all” and “bless your heart.”

Carla is owned by a persnickety kitty, who rules the computer keyboard and only allows Carla to write when demands for cat treats are met.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Book Tour and Excerpt: Christmas in the Highlands by Madelyn Hill

Historical Romance
Date Published: December 7, 2016
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

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Laird Malcolm Sutherland needs a bride. He has few requirements of his new wife; demands he should have insisted with his former betrothed—namely, honesty, loyalty, and resources.

Lady Rossalyn Gordon will do anything to be rid of her tyrant father, even if that means deceiving the man who offers her an escape. If revealed, those secrets will either bring her mercy, or thrust her back into the hands of the devil who sired her.

When Rossalyn’s bastard of a father arrives at Sutherland Keep, going back on his word and ordering her return, Malcolm must decide if he can forgive his wife enough to listen to his heart and have a family for Christmas.


“I want to woo a wife.”
Brae tipped her head back and laughed. “You’ll not be needing my help with that, lad. Why, I could go in the kitchen and announce you’re looking for a wife and the lasses would run me down trying to get to you.”
He chuckled, relaxed in his chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. “I want to woo Fiona.”
Abruptly, Brae sobered and then her eyes widened. “Fiona,” she exclaimed with wonder and a bit of surprise. “Are you certain, lad?”
He grinned. Fiona had earned her contrary reputation honestly. “Aye.”
“Well.” That single word held a heavy dose of skepticism. “‘Twill be tricky. She’s hurting and not likely to receive your attention. She’ll refuse you if you push her.”
Aye. Fiona was an independent woman, but with a vulnerability about her and something painful in her gaze that resulted from more than Mal’s so-called betrayal. Cam had witnessed it too many times. When those green eyes turned sad, it broke his heart. For her soul was strong and if sadness lingered, ‘twas a grievous wound within her.
“Lad, you’ll have to go slowly.” A quick smile flashed on Brae’s aged face. “Little things. Things a lass such as Fiona would appreciate. Nothing obvious.”
Aye, from what he knew of Fiona, she wouldn’t want a gift-giving swain made public. “Could you send a meal to her chamber as a courtesy?”
Brae’s smile forced her wrinkles to crease around her eyes. “For certain, Cam. ‘Tis a kind gesture.” She patted his arm and relayed his desire to one of the kitchen lasses.
His wooing would need to be quick, for if Fiona discovered his plan she’d fight him and the desire he kenned she’d have for him if she just gave him a chance.
Aye, he’d court her, gently but swiftly, for he’d only a fortnight.
And she’d be his by Christmas.


Fiona Sutherland longs for love with the man she has pined after since she was a lass. When he weds another she is devastated, and questions why the man she pledged her heart to has forsaken a vow made in their youth. Could loving her be so hard?

Cameron Munro adores Fiona from afar, knowing her heart has been set on another. She is everything he desires—strong, loyal, and fiery in spirit.

Determined, he pledges to prove his love to her and win Fiona’s heart by Christmas.

About the Author

Madelyn Hill has always loved the written word. From the time she could read and all through her school years, she'd sneak books into her textbooks during school. And she devoured books daily. At the age of 10 she proclaimed she wanted to be a writer. After being a "closet" writer for several years, she sent her manuscripts out there and is now published with Soul Mate Publishing. And she couldn't be happier!

A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They are busy with their 3 children and a puppy named Cannoli! They love to cook, go to the movies, and hang out with friends.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Second Chances Books

Icarus Rising

After his fall to Earth, Icarus has been in Hell, punished for his hubris. When he wins a chance at parole, he's thrilled - except for the set of wings attached to his body.

Eve Gregory runs a small bookstore in northern Connecticut. When she hires the handsome stranger to work for her, she doesn't know the secrets he's hiding. Or that becoming involved with him will embroil her with the Greek gods and goddesses.

Icarus and Eve must perform a quest set down for them by Zeus. If they are successful, will that be end of their relationship? Or will love teach them a new way to soar?


Cassandra Heeded

Cassandra of Troy has been idling in Elysium for centuries. When Apollo offers her a second chance at life on earth, she jumps at it. The only snag is she must find the Kuon Khryseos, the small golden dog Rhea gave Zeus as a baby. 

Artemis finds Cassie a place in Devon, Connecticut living over her coffee shop while she researches her task using her visions as well as a laptop. Jack Burnett works at the shop, and is fascinated by the new woman typing on her computer at one of his tables. But Cassie thinks he looks too much like Ajax, the man who despoiled her during the fall of Troy.

Will Cassie learn to trust Jack, and will they find the Kuon Khryseos?