Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Apple Orchard is as good as taking a bite out of a nice, crisp apple!

Tess Delaney makes finding old artifacts and turning them into treasures her job. Tess receives a shock when she finds out she has a grandfather. Not only a grandfather but also a half sister. In addition that she is has just inherited half of Bella Vista.

Tess takes time off work to visit her half sister and Bella Vista. Tess meets Dominic in the process. Tess and her half sister find some old letters. They uncover their family history.

The Apple Orchard is a charming, fast read. All the apple recipes in this book were a nice surprise as well. They had my mouth watering. However I could not spend too much time reading them as I wanted to get back to the story. Now that I am done with this book I can go back and try them out.

In the beginning I was not feeling Tess. I thought she needed to loosen up. However as the story progressed I did warm up to her and thought she and Dominic made a nice couple. The romance between them was on the sweet side. As I got closer to the end of the story, I became more interested in the past and where Tess’s grandfather came from. The Apple Orchard is as good as taking a bite out of a nice, crisp apple!

Dark Days is a kicking butt good time of a read!

Jack and Pete have welcomed their daughter, Lily into the world. Jack is called upon by Belial. He has a job for Jack. Someone is trying to take over and Belial wants him stopped. Belial’s nemesis is not going down without a huge battle.

Dark Days is the latest book in the Black London series. I can not get enough of Pete and Jack. Pete and Jack are one of my favorite couples. They are both sarcastic and bullheaded but yet they just belong together like salt and pepper. I thought that after pregnancy that Pete would have calmed down some but she is still not going down without a fight. This is a good thing as she and Jack had to fight a new demon that even Belial would not get near. Speaking of Belial. He is growing on me as much as any demon can. Belial and Jack’s banter with each other has me smiling every moment of it.

The ending kind of hinted at the end of this series but than again the world is in shambles so I don’t think I have seen the last of Pete and Jack. Which I will miss them when the time does come to an end. Dark Days is a kicking butt good time of a read!

Rage is worth a second look.

A police officer’s wife has been murdered and beheaded. Who would want her dead? Also, it seems that the killer was not the only one in the house. An eight year old autistic boy named Devon was there. He holds a clue as to who the killer is.

Jess Harris is on the case along with her romantic interest, Chief of Police Dan Burnett.

Rage is my first introduction to the Faces of Evil series. I must have been hiding under a rock to have not known about this series. This is right up my reading alley. Rage can be read as a stand alone novel. The only thing I would warn about is having not read the prior three novels, I had to get caught up to speed some on Jess and Dan’s relationship.

My only disappointment is that I thought from the back of the book that Devon would play a bigger part in helping to capture the killer. I only comment on this factor because I found Devon to be intriguing and wanted to see him interact more in the book.

Jess is a good female lead. She has a good solid head on her shoulders. I am going to go back and read the prior novels to get to know Jess and Dan better. Rage is worth a second look.


Among the many unforgettable heroines in Jennifer Weiner’s stories, Ruth Saunders stands out as a reader’s favorite. Originally the subject of Weiner’s 2006 short story “Swim,” fans found the irrepressible heart of this young woman who was scarred by a car accident as a child uniquely inspiring. Years later, Weiner decided to return to her story in THE NEXT BEST THING (Washington Square Press; $16.00; April 30, 2013) to explore what would happen if Ruth’s dreams came true.

Ruth and her grandmother have been a family of two ever since a car crash killed her parents when she was just three years old and left her with permanent facial scars. After college, Ruth pursued her dream of writing to Hollywood, heading west with her grandmother in tow, hoping to make it big in the world of TV. After years of failure and surviving a badly broken heart, Ruth gets The Call – her show has been green-lit.

Working alongside her boss, the subject of her unrequited love, Ruth attempts to create and cast the perfect sitcom – “The Next Best Thing,” based on her adventures with her grandmother, who is meanwhile building a name for herself as a television extra and finding a new husband along the way.

But Ruth’s happy ending is only the beginning, as nothing is ever easy in entertainment, and difficult actors and number-crunching network executives soon dash her aspirations. Set against the fascinating backdrop of TV culture, with an insider’s look into writers’ rooms and on-set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s THE NEXT BEST THING is a joyride through Hollywood studios, a funny and moving story about what it’s like for a young woman to survive loss — and find love — in modern-day Los Angeles.

With the publication of each new novel, Jennifer Weiner fans rejoice, and new readers jump on board. Over 1.6 million copies of her iconic 2001 debut Good in Bed have sold to date, and it’s now in its astounding 56th printing. All these years later, readers everywhere continue to be drawn in by Weiner’s charmingly sophisticated storylines and her strong, clever heroines who strive to carve their own niche in life.


Jennifer Weiner

In 2002, while completing her sophomore effort In Her Shoes, Jennifer Weiner became one of the first writers to launch a blog about being a writer, a reader, and a mom. Eleven years later, she’s still blogging, and active in social media, where she continues to offer her wit and opinions on the books and issues of the day. These days, a new generation of women's voices – from HBO's Girls to the web's Jezebel and Hairpin – has followed suit by breaking the rules and having their say. Jennifer Weiner is now among today's bestselling writers and still one of the most outspoken – especially on issues of fairness and equity between men and women in the literary world, from launching the Twitter hashtag #franzenfreude to championing women's causes and young women writers.

Jennifer Weiner grew up in Connecticut and graduated with a degree in English literature from Princeton University. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Good in Bed (2001); In Her Shoes (2002), which was turned into a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine; Little Earthquakes (2004); Goodnight Nobody (2005); the short story collection The Guy Not Taken (2006); Certain Girls (2008); Best Friends Forever (2009); Fly Away Home (2010); Then Came You (2011); and new in paperback this spring, The Next Best Thing (2012).

Her books have spent over four years on the New York Times Best Sellers List, with over 11 million copies in print in 36 countries. She has appeared on numerous national television programs, including The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, The CBS Early Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Access Hollywood, and The Martha Stewart Show, and has been published in such magazines as Seventeen, Redbook, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, InStyle, Elle, O Magazine, TV Guide, Marie Claire, EW, and Good Housekeeping. She was co-creator and executive producer of the ABC Family sitcom State of Georgia, which aired during the summer of 2011.

Weiner was recently voted #14 on Time magazine's list of "140 Best Twitter Feeds." Placing hers among the feeds that are “shaping the conversation,” the magazine celebrated her "must-read" live “Bachelor” tweets, noting that "rarely has there been such an ideal pairing of material and writer." Her tweets have been featured onscreen during “The Bachelor,” and she has live-tweeted for Entertainment Weekly's more than two million followers. She continues to write for the Huffington Post and on her own blog at www.jenniferweiner.com, which now has over 1.5 million visitors a month. She can also be found on Facebook and, in real life, Philadelphia, where she lives with her family.

Five Days

Laura is an x-ray technician. She runs the machine when the doctor is looking for something. Usually it is for possible oncology patients. Ones that might have cancer. This does not make Laura’s job easy. Her patients range from children to adults. For those few minutes life is suspended until Laura sees the “all clear”.

Laura has a family with a husband, son and daughter. Her husband is unemployed, her daughter doesn’t listen and her son is going through some things. Laura gets a chance to go away for five days to a conference. It is at the conference that she meets Richard. Richard is a salesman. Soon Laura and Richard are spending time together. What happens when their time together is up?

I had some trouble reading this book. I did finish it but I found it depressing. Laura was sad and weak. She did grow up through this whole process as most people should in the end but it was too late for me. I never fully committed to her. Also, while Richard was nice. He also was sad. He had a sad story and so when he and Laura got together it was nothing but sadness. It went on like this for about half of the book. The other half I was skimming it to get it to speed up. This was after I had put the book down for a while and walked away from it.

Some of Mr. Kennedy’s other books sound interesting. I might check them out some day. This book does make you think however about every choice you make and how it affects you as a person.

Douglas Kennedy is the author of ten previous novels, including the international bestseller The Moment. His work has been translated into twenty-two languages, and in 2007 he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Find out more at www.DouglasKennedyNovelist.com

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Shadowed Soul

Thomas Milton is bi-polar. He and his wife, Beth along with her seeing eye dog, Bailey are about to have an addition to their family with a newborn baby.

Thomas’s world unravels when Beth and the baby temporary move in with her parents leaving Thomas and Bailey to cope on their own. Thomas gets into porn. Also he is visited by his “shadowed soul” who is nothing but trouble.

I found this book to be a very well written and thought out book. It definitely is thought provoking in a good way. Mr. Spagnoli did a nice job writing Thomas. I felt a connection with him that I almost did not care about his obsession with porn. I am not talking just “soft” but “hard-core” bondage type. Because of the graphic details as described about the pictures I did feel an uncomfortable about Thomas being into this type of obsession. However I could understand why Thomas was into this type of thing.

I loved, loved Bailey. Of course I love all dogs that are featured in books. I have a soft spot for them. The “Shadowed Soul” that Thomas had with him was not very nice. I can not imagine what people who have bi-polar personalities have to deal with in the normal world. After reading this book I do have a better understanding of this disorder. I applaud people like Mr. Spagnoli who does not let this disorder hinder them from achieving great things like writing a book.

Evidence of Life

Abby kisses her husband, Nick and daughter, Lindsey goodbye. They are going on a father/daughter camping trip. Abby did not know that this would be the last time she would see her husband and daughter again.

Abby does not believe what the cops are saying about Nick. They are saying that he planned to run away with their daughter and loads of money. Abby decides to investigate herself and find the truth. How will Abby handle the truth when she learns it?

This book is full of emotions. I can not imagine being in Abby’s shoes. I would go insane with grief and just plain insane if my husband and daughter went missing. Nonetheless I could not fully relate to Abby. I felt that Nick was not that great of a husband and so the strong need to find him I just could not figure out the reason why. I could understand Abby wanting to find her daughter, Lindsey but again not Nick.

In addition, I found that Abby got on my nerves after a while. She was weak. She kept going all over the place with out any plans. It was no wonder that people thought she was going crazy and hearing things she wanted to hear. Like the white noise from the telephone being a sign that her daughter was alive. The ending seemed like there was suppose to be a happy ending. Overall I did find this book to be an enjoyable one. It did have my attention.

Nowhere but Home is a charming read.

Queenie Wake is a chef. She has just been fired for yelling at a customer. Queenie has no where else to go but back home. Queenie has no intentions of staying long. That is why when she is offered a job working for the prison as their chef, she accepts. The job is short term. Queenie starts spending time with an old flame. Sparks are sure to ignite again.

Nowhere but Home is a charming read. I love Queenie. She was caring, strong, and had spunk. I would have liked to have seen this spunk more as it was these moments that I had a smile and laugh on my face. Not that I was not smiling at other points in this book. For example when Queenie was fired from her job for telling a customer that her “bangers” were bigger than his dick or when Queenie yelled at a man for wanting to put ketchup on his eggs! Which for some reason the thought of putting ketchup on my eggs does not sound very appealing to me.

This book is like a chick lit but with more depth and heart. I was generally surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book. The ending was a good one. I was happy with the ending.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Rules for Blondes: Highlights from a Fair-Haired Life

I being a brunette don’t know what it is like being a blonde. I have never been one. For me and my skin tone, I don’t think blonde would go well together. However, I have always wondered why so many want to be blonde or why people say blondes have more fun. So when I heard about Selena’s book, The New Rules for Blondes: Highlights from a Fair-Haired Life I thought this is a book worth checking out. I will gain some insight into the “light” side.

I have to comment and say that Selena is truly a dedicated blonde. This is a good thing. For this reason and all the other reasons that Selena mentions in this book is why I will leave the “light” side to her. Too much work for me to keep up with finding the perfect balance between “ashy” and “brassy” blondes.

This book did not really hit the mark with me but I still found it to be a pretty good book. I learned a lot more about being blonde than I thought I would. I did not laugh as much as I wanted or hoped to reading this book. The foot notes were great. I found myself drawn to the foot note more as they were interesting. What I did enjoy was Selena’s honesty. She just calls things for what they were.

Talking with Selena

Why do you think people find blondes to be so fun?

Could it have something to do with the “blondes have more fun” propaganda that we’re all force-fed from the moment we are born? I kid—I do think that it’s a really interesting phenomenon and I would posit that it’s related to the frequency of blondeness found in kids’ haircolor. Tons of people are blonde during childhood—tow head tykes—and then outgrow that hair color and develop darker hair as they get older. So there’s a subconscious connection between carefree, fun days of youth and blonde hair. I also think it’s a chicken-or-egg situation, as far as blondes being fun. If you try out blonde hair to see what it’s like, you’re probably more prone to act fun or rowdy because you think that’s how it’s “supposed to be” as a blonde. And then, to the outside viewer, you’re fulfilling that role of the fun, spunky blonde so blondes are seen as more fun. It’s a crazy, fun cycle.

Who is your favorite blonde, besides yourself?

I’m glad you qualify the question with “besides yourself” in there—hell yeah self love! Seriously. I have a personal mantra: If I weren’t me, I’d worship me. But enough about my healthy self-esteem—let’s talk about other blondes. My blonde mentor is my beautiful, platinum haired mother, Susan. But as far as blondes who all of your readers will know, I’ve got to admit that I really like Jenny McCarthy.

She’s a gorgeous blonde who is hilarious, driven, and gutsy. I first discovered her when she was the co-host of MTV’s “Singled Out” back in the mid-1990s and she was so refreshing to me: a gorgeous, fun blonde who was also hilarious with her crazy faces and antics. I don’t think that I quite realized it back then, but I was very inspired by that—the notion that you can be beautiful and a bit nutty and funny and it all works. I just love ladies who seem to manage their careers on their own terms and take the road less traveled and Jenny McCarthy has done that to great effect. Plus, her hair is always fantastic.

Wolf Protector Book Blast + Contest

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Pump Up Your Book and Milly Taiden will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card during Milly's Wolf Protector Book Blast today! This promotion starts April 15 and ends on May 17. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!



A woman with a secret…

The Federal Paranormal Unit is an elite squad of supernaturals dedicated to solving missing persons cases. Erica’s gift allows her a special connection with the crime, but it comes at a deep personal cost… Until now, she’s kept her gift a secret, even from the other members of the team. But this case will throw her together with Agent Trent Buchanan. He’s the object of her secret desires, but he’s also a cocky womanizer. She’d rather swim in shark-infested waters with a paper cut than admit she has feelings for him.

A man with one desire…

Wolf Shifter Trent wants Erica more than he’s ever wanted any woman. He’s spent years patiently waiting for her to admit that she wants him too. Working one-on-one in a race to find a serial killer, Trent’s patience and Erica’s resolve wear thin. When Trent discovers the truth about Erica, will he accept her for who she is? And can he protect her from the horrors that her gift brings?

A case that pushes them to the edge…

Erica will have to risk it all if she wants to stop the killer, and when she does, Trent may have to put his own life on the line to make sure his mate is protected…





Want to know about this author? Milly Taiden (aka April Angel) was born in the prettiest part of the Caribbean known as the Dominican Republic. She grew up between New York, Florida and Massachusetts. Currently, she resides in New York City with her husband, bossy young son and their little dog Speedy.

She’s addicted to shopping for shoes, chocolate (but who isn’t?) and Dunkin Donuts coffee. She loves hearing from readers so feel free to connect with her.

Her latest book is the paranormal romantic suspense, Wolf Protector.

Visit her website at www.millytaiden.com.



Pump Up Your Book and Millie Taiden are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!


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Wolf Protector Book Blast Page:

Fabio's Italian Kitchen

I wanted to check out Fabio’s Italian Kitchen cookbook because one I am familiar with who he is and two…me and my husband love to eat Italian food. Of course just like most American’s it is the “fake” Italian food that you get in the cans and off the store shelves. Then you come home throw the pasta in boiling water and heat up the pasta sauce. So after getting a copy of this cookbook, I am very excited to start learning how to make “real” Italian food. Plus, the tips and notes that Fabio gave throughout this book I found to be helpful. Some of the recipes in this book that I want to try out are:

Homemade ricotta, pesto gnocchi, butternut squash-filled roasted pork loin, grandma’s canned tuna, fried rosemary chicken (remember if you don’t have all three of the important ingredients…rosemary, garlic, and sage, then you won’t be making roasted chicken, this is Fabio’s family’s way.), fried fresh mushrooms, Fabio’s mom’s tiramisu, ricotta chocolate chip fritters, and olive bread. Best part of these recipes is that there are not many ingredients.

What really made this cookbook for me and it was not all of the yummy recipes but all of the stories. I enjoyed getting to know Fabio, his family and what his childhood was like. I only knew what I know about Fabio from television. Which as we all know is not a true portrait of the real person. I fell in love more with Fabio after reading this book. You have got to pick up a copy for yourself.

Check out Fabio's weekly show called Chow Ciao!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Gate

Schuyler Hunt had planned a trip for him and his wife until it turned into a girl’s weekend. Now Schuyler is left wondering what to do with his free time. Schuyler sees an ad on the internet for a cottage called Angel’s Gate in God’s county. Schuyler thinks this might be the perfect place to retire in so that their grandchildren can visit. Schuyler decides to take a look at the cottage while the girls are off to play. Once at Angel’s Gate Schuyler will get an life changing event.

Right away when you read this book you will see some similarities with The Shack by Mr. William P. Young. However while each book takes a man and has him speaking with God in a shack or cottage in this case and teaches him lessons that is where the commonality ends.

In this book Schuyler also is visited by old friends that have since passed but have important lessons to teach Schuyler. The lessons are the following: Choices, Perseverance, Questions, Encouragement, Priorities, Self-examination, Forgiveness, Potential, Hope, Limitations, Evil, and Communion. While I did enjoy reading this book, it did not have as strong a lasting impression as the Shack did. Still The Gate is a good first novel by Mr. Stouten.     Available April 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

What Color Is Monday?

Review by Nancy

Five children. One on the Autism Spectrum. How do you cope? You begin by reading this book, that’s how! Not putting aside the stress, reorganization of your family’s life but this book really will help you. If you do not have a child with autism but know someone who does, it will help you to help them as well.

When Carrie became pregnant with her second child, she had no idea how her life would change. When Jack didn’t act like his big brother she became concerned and, at age three they were told what they had already figured out: Jack had Pervasive Developmental Disorder. And by now, they had three boys.

This book has some excellent ideas of coping with your child and with yourself as well. Children are much more flexible than you would imagine and some of the stories told in What Color is Monday? will make you laugh out loud. Others will make you cry. All will teach you something and that something will help you understand.

I have reviewed 3 books on autism in the past year: Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World by Karen Neito, Finding Kansas by Aaron Likens and this one. All are concerned with different aspects of autism. All have different lessons to learn and all should be read.

Purchase a copy here

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Shuddering

Ryan and Jane are brother and sister. Before their lives get too hectic and it gets harder to keep in touch, they decide with a group of their friends to go to their family cabin in the Colorado Mountains. It is winter and snowing. Ryan, Jane and their friends don’t know what is waiting for them in the woods but they are about to find out.

I have never read anything by this author. However after reading this book, I am going to go back and check out this author’s prior novels. This book sounded intriguing but I did not realize just how much I was going to get into this book until I started reading it.

It was like reading something out of a horror movie. I can just picture it now. There was this movie about these creatures that came out from under the ground and took people. They buried them in holes until their bones got soft so that they could drag them underground. The name of the movie escapes me but this book kind of reminded me of this movie with a little mixture of the Descent movie thrown in for good measure.

The creatures in this book did not really have a name. Although they did not need one to be scary. I actually thought that by them being unidentifiable made them scarier. I will be thinking twice about going in the woods the next time that it snows in the Colorado Mountains as I live in Colorado.

The Lola Diaries Drama Jerk Blog Tour + Giveaway

Review by Aspen, age 8

The Lola Diaries Drama Jerk is about an 11 year old girl, Lola. Lola has a big secret and no one but her mom and best friend knows about it. But, when the word gets out, Lola has to deal with big drama...at a slumber party!

This book is one I couldn't put down! It was really fun to read. However, there were a few distracting errors. But desides that, The Lola Diaries is a great read-aloud book!

Purchase a copy here

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected--A Memoir (P.S.)

What a great story. Nella and Kelle both won me over with their story. Well to be honest everyone in this book was great. I flew in love with Nella and grew to love her even more as the story moved along. The strongest moments that happened in this book were the ones that took place right after Kelle gave birth to Nella and saw her for the first time. Her instant reaction to Nella, to the time when she asked for her father and he said “That’s okay, we love her”. Then there was the moment when Kelle’s friends moved the rocking chair under the blue light so that they could hold Nella as she craved human touch. Also, I can not forget the moment when Kelle was visited by another woman in the hospital who told Kelle she was lucky as she also had a baby girl who had Down syndrome but died at birth.

All of the pictures in this book are just gorgeous. Kelle is a great photographer. She really captured the story she was telling as well as the essence of who Nella is. Bloom would make the perfect mother’s day gift. This book will have you talking about it with your friends.

To learn how you can help with Down syndrome go to the National Down syndrome society

One Year Lived + Free book!

Yeah like this is really what anyone wants to hear right before they bungee jump off of a bridge. “Just in case line break and you not stop before ground, we really enjoy know you.” This is exactly what Adam heard right before he jumped. As you can tell he survived and the line did not break. Otherwise if it had then I would not have been contacted by the author himself (well I am pretty sure it is the author.) Can’t really say as I have not met him in the flesh. Well anyways if the line had broke then I would not have been made aware of this book and would not be sharing it with my readers.

Mr. Shepard has dreamed of traveling. So he saved so that he could travel for a year. A year to live. His journey starts in Guatemala City. The way Mr. Shepard writes and describes everything in detail, it was like I was with him as he went from place to place. I could hear the roar of the crowd at the soccer game, worked with poor children in Honduras, ran with the bulls in Spain and not just 1 bull but 3 bulls. Yes, as Mr. Shepard states himself he is a risk taker. I call him more of an extreme risk taker. However this is not a bad thing. It means that you will have more exciting stories.

Mr. Shepard encourages people especially young people to get off their butts and travel the world. As Mr. Shepard’s friend, Scott states “The world has one hundred and ninety-seven millionish square miles.” So you need to get out there and cover lots of those miles. I am more then inspired after reading about Adam’s experiences and journey to get my passport and start filling it up.

Read excerpts of the book here
Check out Adam's pictures
Purchase a copy here
Check out Mr. Shepard's website

If you want to read this book for yourself, I will send you a link where you can get it for free. However first you have to share this post and leave a comment with a link to where you posted it like on facebook or twitter. I will then email you the link to the free book. The more places you share this the better. Mr. Shepard and I really want to spread the word about his latest book and the importance of traveling. Also, curious as to where you want to travel and why?

Check out Mr. Shepard fightintg the bulls!

The After Girls

Ella, Astrid, and Sydney are the best of friends. That all changes then Astrid takes her own life. Ella is the one that finds her. Now, Ella and Sydney are trying to understand the best ways that they can on how they missed the signs that lead to Astrid’s death. Why could they not tell Astrid was depressed? They are after all her friends.

While Sydney wants to mask her pain with alcohol, Ella tries to figure out what clues she missed about Astrid. Ella receives some help in the form of Astrid herself. It seems that Astrid is communicating with Ella. What does Astrid have to say?

The After Girls is the first book from new author, Leah Konen. This book is more emotionally deeper then some of the young adult books that I have read. So at times it made it a little rough to want to stick with this book. Only because it was sad but could also come off as depressing. Ella being yelled at by Astrid’s mother because she was grieving her daughter. Then there was Sydney who was getting drunk. I can understand each person copes with death in their own way but still hard to read this goes on for most of the book. After a while I did have to skim parts of the book to make it read faster. It did drag a little.

However Leah really gets gritty and brings the raw emotions that anyone can relate to when dealing with a friend’s death. I would recommend that the older teens read this book like seventeen +. Again as I pointed out the younger readers might not be as mature enough to handle. Leah Konen shows a very mature side to her writing and what she is about with her debut novel, The After Girls. I am curious to see what Leah comes out with next.

Purchase a copy here

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Edge of the Earth + Giveaway

Trudy is very smart and has a bright future ahead of her. Her family can almost hear the wedding bells ringing for Trudy. There is just one problem. They did not expect Trudy to fall for a guy like Oskar.

Trudy and Oskar move away and accept a job at a lighthouse. Trudy becomes a teacher to the Crawley children. The other family that lives at the lighthouse. Whereas Oskar is fascinated by his inventions and electricity. Oskar finds a cave and a mysterious woman living in it. He finds her intriguing.

What a story. I was not in love with this book but I did like it. The first half I kind of struggled to get to the half way point. I just was not connecting with any of the characters and found the story moving at a slow pace. I admit that I even found the children annoying in the beginning. However the second half of the book told a better tale.

I got into the story better then as more was happening. The mysterious woman in the cave I really liked. What I identified the most with Christina Schwarz is her descriptive writing. This was both a plus and negative. Plus because I liked the detail as it helped me fully see the world and the story she was telling. On the other hand for the negative this is part of why I found the first half to be so slow because of a lot of the details. Overall I did find this book to be a good one.

Talking with author, Christina Schwarz

The Edge the Earth was absolutely inspired by its setting. Anyone driving on the Pacific Coast Highway south of Carmel can’t help but be struck by how dramatic and isolated that area is. Mountains crowd the road to the east; the Pacific spreads endlessly to the west; and the lighthouse stands on its own morro, almost unconnected to the land, a scrap of human habitation surrounded by miles and miles of rock and water. In 1898, when my story takes place, there wasn’t even a road here. The only practical way to reach the Point Sur lighthouse (which I’ve fictionalized as Point Lucia) was by sea. When I discovered that more than one family lived at this light station at one time, I knew that, for me, it was a perfect setting for a novel: a dramatic and difficult place where I could trap characters and where they’d have to confront each other and stumble over each other’s secrets.

Once I latched onto the idea of this setting, I had to spend weeks there, hiking around, getting to know the place intimately. Because my fiction is so removed from my real life, I need solid ground—a thousand concrete details—on which to build a substantial dream. I started out with no story, only a place, but luckily, characters—specifically, a woman for whom the place was at first as foreign as it was to me—and a situation from which a plot could grow began to emerge. What’s most interesting to me, in terms of the development of this novel, was that I struggled for more than two years, before I realized that one of the major characters—the person who most exemplifies the place that inspires the book—was missing. She seemed wildly far-fetched at first, but when I finally allowed her to appear, the book came to life.

I have 1 copy to giveaway. US only. Leave a comment with email address. Ends April 30th.

The Other Side

Campsite Killer had a daughter named Sara. When the killer learned of this news, he reached out to her. Staff Sergeant Sandy McBride is on the case. While Sara is investigating she is contacted by someone who has information about her mother’s murder. Sara will finally learn the truth about her mother’s murder.

I thought this book was a nice, quick read for a short story. It was a nice tie in to Never Knowing. It is in that book where Sandy fully investigates the case of the Campsite Killer. However I would say the main focus of this short story was really Sandy and her mother’s murder. It was good to get to know the full details of the case. Also it was nice to see that Sandy finally gets closure. The only thing about this book that would have made it better is that the murder case surrounding Sandy’s mother was stronger. So for me I wanted more of the intensity that comes from a murder investigation like what was the killer’s motivation for the crime? I did learn the reason but to me it kind of came off as ok here is the reason and accept it. None of the other characters that Sandy interviewed were very memorable. So this book just left me wanting more. Luckily Chevy has a new book that will hopefully give me that titled Always Watching.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

His to Command

Kate is in need of an investor for her company. The last person she ever wanted to see was Matt. She left him several years ago.

When Matt sees Kate again, he knows that he can get some pay back for the lost years he got when Kate left him. However the last thing Matt expected was to fall for Kate again. Will Kate and Matt stay with each other when a secret from their past comes back?

His to Command is a full novel comprised of a six part mini series from author, Opal Carew. I have to say that I thought this book was better. I tried to picture this book as a mini series with the different chapters that I knew made up this series and I thought that as a full length book it just read better. I just could not really picture the series being as strong.

I was however very surprised by how quickly I flew through this book. I started it by the time I put it down to go to bed, I was more then half was done with it. While the theme of this story indicates to the master/slave relationship don’t be fooled as it is sexy just not hard core. Which speaking of the heat level in this book, it was there and I liked it and it is the sort of heat that I have come to expect from Opal however it just did not make me instantly want a tall, glass of water. Still His to Command is a good book. I enjoy reading an Opal Carew book.

No One Else to Kill

Review by Nancy

It started out as a plan: vacation at a mountain resort with an old friend to reminisce and try to help him with some “issues” he’s having. Well, you know what they say about good intentions. Jim West’s friend bales on him and just when he has decided to leave the killing begins.

A group of corporate types has rented some of the lodge for their “teambuilding” project – something they do every year. Jim even had coffee with the owner of the company. Seemed like a nice enough guy; but someone killed him anyhow. Suspects abound in this mystery with an excellent cast and better plot.

Jim does his best but the bodies are beginning to pile up and the Lodge may have to close. Can he figure out who and why before there’s literally “No One Else to Kill?” This is book five in the Jim West series which is great except now I have to go find the other four because I need to read they whole thing! Great novel for mystery buffs.

Once Upon a Gypsy Moon

I was very excited to read about Mr. Hurley and his story sailing upon the Gypsy Moon. I was expecting to read more about sailing. Which I did get some but not a lot. Just like a memoir I do get to know all about Mr. Hurley and his life. From growing up to why his marriage to his first wife fell apart due to infidelity. Mr. Hurley did recognize that it was his fault and accepted it. This I thought was great that he did and I liked him for it.

However after a while I grew weary of the steady pace and learning all about Mr. Hurley’s life. I really craved to be on the open seas. There were just little glimpse of the open seas as Mr. Hurley sailed them. Again they were interrupted by him stopping at different ports along the way. Glad that Mr. Hurley found love again with his new wife. If you are looking for a book that is about sailing then this is not the book for you. However if you like to read about people getting second chances then you might like this book.

Meet the Author

A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Michael Hurley has practiced law since 1984. He is the author of Letters from the Woods and several essays about "slices of life." He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Susan and three dogs. Together they have four children.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chronicle of the Mound Builders

Review by Nancy

A team of archaeologists finds a jar in middle Missouri, home of the Mississippian culture (aka the Mound Builders). Despite dreams that it might not be a good plan, Angela Hunter and her father, Peter, open the jar and find a talisman and a codex written primarily in pictographs.

There are many people who want to get this codex for themselves or their ancestors but only one will prevail. Two tales are told here although both endings are the same. A tale of Angela, her teams of researchers and the Native American Society dedicated to keeping the codex and talisman from the world. The other tale is of the boy who wrote the codex: Tototl, son of Chipahua the judge, and his journey far from his homeland.

This book was researched in depth and it is obvious the author knows Missouri, the many mounds to be found there and their historical significance. I enjoyed the book but had a bit of an issue with the two stories. I felt that the story of Tototl could have been shortened but that’s just my opinion. It is a great read with excitement and a history lesson combined.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mr. LePore makes his stance as a great writer and shows why he is here to stay!

Matt Massi comes from a very powerful family. His family is associated with the mafia. Having the mafia as your family, it means that there are some big shoes to fill. So when a deal involving some dangerous men gets to be too much for Matt and becomes personal, his father Chris comes to his aid.

The Fifth Man is the follow up to Sons and Princes. However if you have not read Sons and Princes you can still read this book. It was great to see Chris again. I really connected with him in the prior novel. He did not disappoint me again in this book. Chris if anything grew stronger and better since I last saw him. He shows what it means when you cross someone in the mafia.

Matt was another person that it was good to see. I remember when he was just a little kid in the last book. He did not jump off the pages at me as much as Chris did. The first half of the book was a little bit of a struggle for me. While it was a nice set up to what was to come in the later half of the book, I just wanted to action to happen sooner. Overall, another good book by Mr. LePore. The Fifth Man has me convinced never to mess with the mafia. That is unless I want to be six feet under wearing cement shoes and that is only if the mafia decides to not blast me into little pieces. Mr. LePore makes his stance as a great writer and shows why he is here to stay!

Death, Doom, and Detention is a kaleidoscope of fun!

Lorelei and her friends are back. After barely surviving being hit by a truck and meeting the Archangel of Death, Lorelei would love to enjoy some rest and relaxation. However that is not possible when you have a demon living inside of you. There is just one positive to come out of all of this…Jared. Jared is the Archangel. He came to take Lorelei away but instead rescued her and is now her crush.

Strange things are happening around town. More then usual. To make matters worse, Jared is missing and her grandparents want to send Lorelei away. Lorelei and her friends will have a battle on their hands when they learn that Jared has joined the other side.

Death, Doom, and Detention is the second book in this young adult series, Darklight from author, Darynda Jones. I am enjoying this series. Lorelei and her friends are what make this series so much fun that I want to come back again and again. As this series progresses, I am learning more about Lorelei, her abilities and the demon she has trapped inside of her.

I am really feeling Lorelei and Jared. However I just wished that Jared had been featured more in the book. He was gone for about half of the book. Luckily there was still Brooke, Glitch, and Cameron. I wish that Brooke and Cameron would just hook up already. Of course, Cameron is too cool to just do it the old fashion way. Besides Brooke is clueless. This is what makes things interesting between them. I like Cameron because of his sarcasm. I can not wait to read the third book, Death and the Girl He Loves. Death, Doom, and Detention is a kaleidoscope of fun!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Funny Adventures of Little Nani

The Funny Adventures of Little Nani by Cinta Garcia De La Rosa is a fun, charming collection of short stories. I enjoyed reading about all the mischief that Little Nani got herself into. What with the help of her friends, Skinny Nikki, Big Billy, and horse.

I do have to agree that I found Skinny Nikki and Big Billy better as ostriches then boys. Yes, the mischief I was talking about with Little Nani involves her and her magic wand. You see, Little Nani is a witch in training. Only Little Nani does not have the patience to learn how to perform spells properly. So she ends up turning her friends into ostriches, chickens into penguins, and so forth.

I loved the names of the different people that Little Nani encountered on her many adventures. They were intriguing. What I found really great about this book is that there were many blank pages through out the book. These pages were for the reader to draw with their own imagination the scene that was happening at that moment in the story. This was good because it helped to make this book very interactive. Kids of all ages will have a good time with this book. It will bring the inner child out again in all of us.

Purchase a copy here    

Friday, April 12, 2013

What Tears Us Apart

Leda hates the thought of returning to school. She does a Google search and finds a job titled Triumph Orphanage. The orphanage is located in Africa. Leda accepts the position. She gets an added bonus when she meets the man running the orphanage named Ita. Leda falls for Ita. However getting close to Ita means getting close to his friend, Chege.

I have never read anything by Deborah Cloyed. So this book is my first introduction to her work. I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the story and the lay of the land. I could picture the war torn area country of Kenya. However I was not feeling the relationship between Leda and Ita. Not so much anyways. Not a good thing when you are half way through the book wondering about their relationship and when it is really going to pick up and this was part of the main focus of the story. Correction, I did not feel the relationship so much during the first half of the book.

I can understand having your best friend’s back but not when that friend just bring trouble upon themselves and involving you. This is where I could not grasp the strong bond between Ita and Chege. Chege was mean. Beware as there is a rape scene involving Leda. It is a quick scene but still gruesome. Chege did turn out to be a pretty good guy in the end.

One thing that did drive me crazy about this book was the back and forth. The time change from past ad present was not as smooth as I would have liked it. I would just be getting into what was happening in the present/past and then it was switch for about a page or two and then switches again.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Search for the Lost Realm + Giveaway

Search for the Lost Realm is an epic journey in which a young man named Varan wants to find a power which has been missing from the world of Kantania for thousands of years.

Varan sets out but soon discovers his true mission is to save the worlds creator from a spiritual bond placed upon him by the powerful demon, Eldrok.

From demons to dragons and sorcerers to soldiers, battles erupt and Varan must hurry or the world could be lost to darkness forever.

This story does not consist of action alone as Varan faces dilemmas of the heart, struggles of the flesh and complex issues of the mind.

About the Book:

Search for the Lost Realm is an epic journey in which a young man named Varan wants to find a power which has been missing from the world of Kantania for thousands of years.

Varan sets out but soon discovers his true mission is to save the worlds creator from a spiritual bond placed upon him by the powerful demon, Eldrok.

From demons to dragons and sorcerers to soldiers, battles erupt and Varan must hurry or the world could be lost to darkness forever.

This story does not consist of action alone as Varan faces dilemmas of the heart, struggles of the flesh and complex issues of the mind.

Book Excerpt:

A sound normally dismissed during mid-day, the lock’s scarce clatter rang out like church bells, trespassing on a death like serenity. As tumblers aligned, Varan hoped his crouched frame went undetected on the sage’s porch. With his remaining eye, the thief peered over his right shoulder at ghostly shadows cast upon a vacant street. Choking down his heart, he ever so cautiously swung open the door and, after easing into the shop, he gently returned it to its frame. A shaft of moonlight pierced shutters flush, as the lurking thief, through dusty air, investigated a dreary interior. To his left, shelves of musty books, with their worn bindings, all stood erect by ornately carved bookends. In the near corner, to his right, a large silver‑blue sphere, dimly glowing, sat upon a heavy wooden pedestal.

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First Chapter for First Chapter Reveals:

The Heist

A sound normally dismissed during mid-day, the lock’s scarce clatter rang out like church bells, trespassing on a death like serenity. As tumblers aligned, Varan hoped his crouched frame went undetected on the sage’s porch. With his remaining eye, the thief peered over his right shoulder at ghostly shadows cast upon a vacant street. Choking down his heart, he ever so cautiously swung open the door and, after easing into the shop, he gently returned it to its frame. A shaft of moonlight pierced shutters flush, as the lurking thief, through dusty air, investigated a dreary interior. To his left, shelves of musty books, with their worn bindings, all stood erect by ornately carved bookends. In the near corner, to his right, a large silver-blue sphere, dimly glowing, sat upon a heavy wooden pedestal.

Varan quietly embarked on his journey across hard wood planks toward the rear of the building. If the militia catches my Scathrin ass, they’re just going to kill me... if I’m lucky. With that thought racing through his mind, a disturbing creak from one of the floorboards froze the young man in place. Like a single island in the middle of a vast ocean, Varan stood in the center of the shop, holding his breath. After exhaling the tension, a moment of gripping fear gradually passed and he again, crept.

On the back wall, above the counter, was mounted his long sword. A weapon handed down for generations by the Scathrins forefathers and recently lost by his bravado. In silence, he reached for its jeweled hilt, as the night’s bluish rays softly illuminated the finely crafted blade. With the weapon removed from the first of two mounts, Varan heard a noise that chilled his very core. Hinges from a door that led to the living quarters behind the shop shrieked with alarming volume as it mysteriously drifted inward. Squinting his good eye, the thief gazed that way as his chest tightened and a bead of salty cold sweat settled in the corner of his mouth. He could see nothing, there was nothing in the dark recesses of the frame, yet the door continued to open. In a nonchalant manner a black cat sprung onto the counter-top, causing the startled thief to jump back and rap the weapon’s point against the wall. Fearing the thump against hollowed planks was loud enough to wake the slumbering proprietors, the Scathrin abandoned his regard for stealth.

Seizing the weapon from the final mount, he bolted for the door, as the feline’s golden gaze traced every fleeing step. The soles of his tattered boots hit the dirt road with the dust of its surface trailing behind him. Yearning for sanctuary, Varan dwelled on nothing but returning to his room at the nearby inn. In a frantic state, he charged down an alley and into the back door. Once reaching his room, the winded man quietly closed the door and fastened its dead bolt.

With a heavy sigh, he leaned against its frame to catch his breath and regain his composure. The snorts and stammers of horses, invading the still chamber with echoes beckoning, soon shattered Varans moment of peace. In nearly complete darkness he went to the window and peered through the slits of the shutters. From his vantage point, he saw the porch of the shop, where stood an old Eacye man with a balding head and beside him a young lady with fair complexion and dark wavy hair. In the middle of the road, on a mammoth gray and white steed, sat a massive Eacye warrior with wild black hair and decked to the hilt in bulky armor.

Varan had little respect for warriors and their way of life, but he never actually told one to their face. It appeared this militiaman was in charge as the others around him diligently searched while he periodically barked out a command. Like a great golem of iron he methodically dismounted and knelt, investigating the ground at the base of the steps.

“My tracks,” Varan mumbled. “He’s looking for my tracks.”

Meticulously the warrior scanned the area and eventually proceeded along the Scathrins' route of escape. Varan wet his parched lips as his breaths became shallow and his heart quickened. With concern for his wellbeing, the Scathrin instinctively considered his options. He watched the warrior, who was soon accompanied by another, move toward the alley.

The second militiaman, with a bald head and bushy mustache, looked to be the big man’s partner. Noting characteristics was a strong point of the Scathrins’ and, in this case, he didn’t want to forget a single detail. To Varans relief, they stopped a pace short of the alley and, with a disgusted scowl, the huge warrior headed back for his horse. His partner, giving his discouraged boss a pat on the shoulder, returned to speak with the older gentleman.

Moments later, Varan heard muffled conversation down in the lobby, which dissipated seconds after it commenced. Making his way to the dresser, where a bottle of Shoquor waited like a lonely friend, Varan listened for approaching footsteps, but heard none.

On the chest of drawers sat a large lantern, which he lit to brightly adorn the chamber’s decor with a trace of amber. Furnished with a large comfort chair, a pallet garnering drab blankets and a corner oak closet, the humble features of the room were all he required. Feeling the heat of the muggy night, the young man splashed fresh water on his face, from a bowl provided by the inn.

A couple of shots of this potent brew should do the trick. Varan poured the sharp smelling liquid into a small glass. “It will calm the mind and relax the body,” he whispered in such a manner to convince him that the alcohol was medicinal.

As the first couple of ounces seared his throat, Varan decided his original prescription for tranquility was insufficient and continued to indulge. After a third of the bottle had been consumed, he stopped pacing and lazily leaned against the chest of drawers. As he looked at the ripples on the liquor’s surface, a humble grin came over his face. A fleeting memory, of a rare warm moment with his father came to the forefront of his thoughts.

Red skinned demons, scoundrels and cutthroats they were referred to by the majority of Kantania. Veshnarin they called themselves, professional thieves of high esteem. Stealing not only those things of great monetary value but of great significance to others, with pride they would display and defend these items so all could see what a master they were at the trade. Varan’s father Varell was such a master.

With the bottle over half gone, the Scathrin became aware of his image in the mirror across the room. In days gone by he wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to take a gander at his debonair features. Now these features were shrouded by a thick beard and cloaked with long brown hair that shadowed his face like that of a dark hood.

Varan slowly moved the way of the looking glass as his right eye gazed upon the gaudy patch covering his left. A viscous wound delivered by the hand of his older brother Varcain that cut so deep it not only severed their relationship, but the bond between Varan and his father as well. From that day, he would have to bare this scar and garner this covering, reminding Varan of his disturbing past. Though it happened over ten years ago, the feeling of hatred and vengeance he harbored raged on with a determination to right the wrong at any cost.

In a fit of painful frustration, the Scathrin tore the band of black from his head, staring wildly into the gaping socket. With a venomous gaze he focused deeply into the affliction, watching the veins pulse with each beat of his embittered heart. The young man reared back to strike the object, which revealed his shame, when common sense overthrew the urge and restrained his trembling fist. If the militia were still in the area, the crash of shattered glass would surely peak their curiosity.

Varell had always favored Varcain and made no bones about showing his partiality. The entire family expected that one-day, Varcain would take his father’s lofty position as the greatest Veshnarin from their region, or perhaps all the Scathrin isles. Varan, wallowing in self-pity, drank to a state of delirium. Passing out in the chair, the empty bottle slipped from his grasp and rolled away from its victim.

The next morning the young man awoke to the sound of a busy street and to the stench of rancid drool that had settled under his chin and soaked into his vest. His head pounded like a bass drum and his joints ached as they had many a morning after a night of drinking. Varan sluggishly made his way to the large bowl of water, and splashing the cool liquid on his face, he became more alert. With a cottony mouth, he pooled some water in his palms to rinse out the dry feeling. As he leaned down Varan noticed the distinct smell of ammonia omitting from the dingy fluid. Apparently during his drunken stupor, he used the basin to empty his bladder. With a look of disgust, he released the water, and grasping the dresser, he gazed upward. How much lower can I possibly sink?

Reeking of strong alcohol laced with malodorous urine, the young man exited his room in a state of dazed apathy and headed for the bathing area. On his way, Varan passed a young lady who moved aside and, with an appalled glance, placed a silk hanky over her nose. The woman’s reaction was of no consequence to the Scathrin who was now sulking about his subterranean status among his family and peers. Soaking in, what amounted to an oversized barrel, the young man’s spirits lifted slightly as the grime of days past washed, away. Fulfilling one need, Varan decided to go downstairs to the Tanner Inn’s pub and eatery.

The young man wore his finer set of clothes, consisting of richly colored loose garments. A trademark of the Veshnarins, the apparel displayed their bold attitudes and casually covert ways. For Varan, the baggy duds had a second and more useful function, in creating a little deception when covering his slim yet wiry frame. Before leaving his room, he carefully wrapped the elaborate hilt of his sword in soft leather, securing it tightly with thin cord. Most weapons were identified by their hilt, and Varan didn’t want to take any chances that someone could pick his out as the one stolen.

The windows of the pub were blown wide, letting in the warm breeze and brazen sun, which drove the swaggering man to a shaded corner of the room. The aroma of fresh bread and pig fat sizzling on the skillet, careened throughout as the smell of hay lofts from across the way, frequently intruded with the periodical gusts. As was his room, the eatery’s decor was simple, sending forth an air of hospitality to all those who dined. Varan sat alone at a small table with his head in his hands, as the late morning crowd loudly conversed, having no mercy when dragging and shoving their chairs across the wooden floor.

Out of the corner of his eye, Varan saw the waitress. A young girl, with short brown hair and soft milky skin, she wore a brown short dress and white top. Her brown leather boots shuffled from table to table as she enthusiastically did her job. With the color of her hair and hazel green eyes, it appeared to Varan, most likely she was local.

The young man ordered strong coffee and dry toast. With a cheerful smile, not returned by Varan, the waitress came back and placed his request before him.

“Um, If there is, ah… anything else you need sir,” she stated awkwardly while trying not to stare at the reeling man, “just call for me.”

The young woman stepped back and looked at him with a hint of distress in her eyes. Varan glanced at her with disgruntled acknowledgement, then looked away to stuff a crust of bread in his mouth. As the young man consumed his modest breakfast, he saw a huge brown-skinned man enter the pub. It was the militiaman from the night before and, in the sun’s light, he looked even more menacing. One facial attribute of this nearly seven-foot tall man, caught Varan’s eye over his dark goatee and square jaw. As the breeze lifted strands of his long black hair across his hardened expression, the warrior took in the room with eyes that were not Eacye, but Savashod. That would explain his tremendous size, stature, and lack of intellect in his expression.

In the Scathrin’s opinion, the Savashod was a race of overgrown green-skinned imperialist with barbaric demeanors. Like a warmongering wave from the northland, they would storm down wreaking havoc over the mainland. If it were not for the Ryore, another massive people but of good nature, this city of Magniowa would also be under the ogres’ tyrannical rule. One of the features of the Savashod that differed from other races was their eyes. Unlike most, the Savashod had light colored pupils and dark retinas. This warrior’s green eyes possessed that difference.

Wearing a welcoming smile, the bartender waved the militiaman over, as others in the hall cordially greeted the warrior.

“Sergeant Maus!” he bellowed, pointing at a large tray of assorted foods and a pitcher of grape cider. “Why don’t you join me?”

The militiaman, with weighty footsteps, lumbered toward the counter, however before reaching his destination, a perky waitress and a few of her lively friends intercepted him. It was evident that this hulking figure of a warrior, with biceps rippling, was extremely disorientated when talking with the ladies. The stern expression the Sergeant held when entering was quickly melted away, becoming a series of half grins and subtle nods. The youngsters, with energy abounding, buzzed around the man as if he were their idol.

I guess it’s good to see the law enforcement getting such respect. Varan thought as he drank from his mug.

One of the skills the Veshnarin’ were particularly proud of was the ability to discern and store information, then if confronted in the future; they could use the knowledge to their advantage. Quite innocently Maus turned the Scathrin’s direction with their eyes locking for only a moment, a moment that was entirely

too long for Varan. The sword at his left side grew in weight, as he became immensely aware of its presence and the chance of Maus spotting it. Varan, in casual surroundings, was a cool character when sober, giving the militiaman a slight bow of the head while continuing to eat.

The Scathrin finished his meal and, after tossing more than enough copper pieces on the table, he departed. As he walked through the double-doors, Varan unconsciously clasped the hilt of his weapon, being uncomfortably aware of the Sergeant’s presence behind him.

Still dealing with the lingering effects of alcohol, Varan decided to walk it off while scouting the multi-racial city of Magniowa. With the melting pot of cultures and peoples, the common language of Kantania was a must, and a tongue in which the Scathrin was well versed. Having already procured the item he came for, he would turn his attention to more lucrative ventures and, in a city this size the potential was limitless.

As he walked the busy streets, Varan stopped to take in the magnificence of the fortified palace, with its tall shrubbery’s and gray rooks boldly towering into clear blue skies. Its drawbridge lay across a shimmering mote with the building’s seemingly polished stone reflecting off waters calm. While standing slightly enchanted, Varan considered moving from the inn where he currently presided. If I was to relocate, that cretin of a Sergeant may put two and two together. Ah forget it, an infidel bruit like the Sergeant doesn’t intimidate me, and there’s still so much more I want to experience here, the man thought as he gazed about.

The main street, a good seventy feet wide, was littered with pedestrians and an occasional militiaman on horseback. Some maidens carried a parasol to shade themselves from the summer’s rays while citizens, glistening, paid a copper piece for a small cup of water or the use of a damp cloth. Varan dropped a coin down for a quick drink. And they call us Veshnarin thieves.

In the distance, he saw the towering gates of Magniowa, which remained open during daylight hours. There were establishments of all sorts, and any need or desire could be filled somewhere within their ranks. Vendors selling a multitude of various goods crowded the middle of the road, calling out to those who passed, inviting them to sample their wares.

Unlike many of the surrounding cities, Magniowa had advanced methods of waste disposal, in turn diminishing the threat of pestilence. Several deep canals were dug throughout the city, to utilize the powerful current of the Magniowa River. This eliminated one of the unpleasant aromas but did nothing to stem the tide of the foul masses and the livestock they toted and lead along for bartering tools.

Besides the taverns, strong lures to Varan were the alchemy shops, where the young man hoped to find alternate forms of intoxication. A bell above the door announced his presence as the air of fine pipe tobacco enveloped his sense of smell. The quaint shop was well kept. Tall shelves on the sidewalls and one in its core were busy with hundreds of unique substances. It was not long before the sly Scathrin located the items he longed to obtain. A middle-aged Eacye man came out from behind a counter, positioned in the rear of the shop. With a sturdy wooden pipe, well riveted betwixt yellowed teeth and a pleasant expression, he approached Varan.

“Scorcher today, is it not?” the clerk asked, padding the sweat from his partially bald head and shuffling his feet. “This reminds me of the time … oh I don’t know I guess it was three or four years ago when the wife was sitting on the back porch with our granddaughter. The heat must’ve got to her because she was passed out. It was the cutest thing… we found little Ellowese singing her a lullaby. Do you have any children young man?”

“No sir, I don’t ha…”

“Well you don’t know what you’re missing. Just last week little Ellowese looked up at me…”

“Sir, please,” Varan said with a scowl and raised hand.

“Well alright son… you don’t have to be so rude as to cut me off in mid-sentence,” the old man stated pointing the end of his pipe at the frustrated man.

“I’m sorry Sir. I’m just in a bit of a hurry.” Varan responded, disarming the clerk’s aggression. “You truly do have one fine shop here.”

“Well… that’s OK, no harm done. Depending on what you’re looking for, we’ve got many things on the back counter reduced in price.”

“Yes I see…You appear to have practically everything.”

“Practically everything Huh,” the man stated taken aback. “We've got it all. Just the other day Healer Bryant came in looking for Sarth oil. You know you have to draw that directly from the Sarth's claw only moments after death or it spoils. He didn’t think we would have it but …we sure did…yep, we sure did. We have it all, and then some,” the man stated waving his arms at the merchandise.

Varan gave him a half smile. “Well is that so?” he asked raising his brows. “Actually the item I’m looking for doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the shop,” the young sly man said, curiously looking around.

The man was noticeably put out by Varan’s words, losing some of his good cheer. “We have everything imaginable,” he snipped, taking the pipe from his mouth and pointing the stem at his customer. “So what exactly are you looking for, young man?”

“Blood rage,” Varan replied raising his brows again.

“We have that. It’s simple kept in the back,” the man stated with arrogant vigor as he turned away. “If you knew anything about the drug, you’d know its rarity and how expensive it is to produce. Do you think I’m an idiot and would keep something as exotic as that out front to be stolen by some half-ass rouge?”

Varan knew these things and anticipated the clerk’s reaction to be just what it was. The Scathrin watched the gentleman disappear into the back room then, with casual sleight of hand, appropriated one box of Calmaridia’s finest smokes.

“Never mind,” Varan bellowed as he walked toward the front door. “I seem to have forgotten my coin pouch,” he added with a pat of his vest pocket, where the smokes rested comfortably.

Varan heard the man’s footsteps and gazed back to give him a parting smile, when the little bell over the door chimed once again. The Scathrin’s disposition changed dramatically when he looked upon the two that entered. The first was a hefty Ryore Commander with full armor that displayed his rank and countries crest. On his back was a great axe, its thick handle swaying, passing before the sun’s light, while casting its long shadow on Varan’s smallish frame.

The Ryore were a heavyset race with lazy extended ears and wrinkled faces, possessing an elongated snout that supported ivory tusks. This man was bald, and like all male Ryores, had two such tusks protruding up from his thick gray hide. The second, upper and smaller horn bore a slight crack that looked to be a battle scar. Right behind him was a female Ryore lieutenant with stubby hazel hair and, like all female Ryore’s; she had one tusk jutting up from the crest of her snout. She also garnered weighty armor displaying her rank. By first impression it seemed they had no intention of yielding the Scathrin passage.

To Varan the Ryore was a highly unattractive race and seeing the predicament he was in at the time, they were growing uglier by the second. His stomach churned and his head became light, but none of this did he show, as the Veshnarin remembered his lessons well, maintaining a relaxed demeanor. Making the moment all the more claustrophobic, the elder closed in from behind Varan. “Good day Commander Rusard, sure is a scorcher is it not?”

“And a good day to you as well, fine sir. You are quite right,” the Ryore replied.

Inspecting Varan with piercing blue eyes, the Ryore tugged at his belt to secure his girth. Varan, without displaying his fear, began to walk toward the door as the Ryore Commander went to meet the shop attendant. However, the female Ryore did not budge and, with a sharp aqua gaze, she stared down at the Scathrin while wearing an expression of discontent.

“As much as I would love to stand here and drink in your infinite beauty, I really must be going,” Varan stated sarcastically with raised eyebrows and a smirk. “So if you don’t mind.”

Varan attempted to go around the woman only to be cut off and placed back into the original stalemate.

“You took something unlawfully, did you not?” the portly female asked with cynical tones, as she leered at him, seemingly challenging his calm posture.

Varan’s mind weeded through several responses. The Scathrin was confident in his skills and did not believe they saw anything. She’s bluffing. That's impressive for a warrior and especially a Ryore. “Don’t you think your predigest

is getting the best of you?” Varan asked as he took a step back and gave her an uppity look to joust her slanted remark.

Before the woman could respond, the Commander spoke up and ordered her to move aside, allowing the fine citizen room to exit. Varan knew the Commander didn’t trust him either, but what he also knew was the honorable nature of the Ryore and how to manipulate their strict codes to his liking.

“We will be keeping a close eye on you Varan,” the lieutenant stated quietly with clinched teeth and bitterness in her tone. “Son of Varell,” she added with a gruff whisper.

Varan left the building not looking back. The fact they were privy to his lineage only disturbed him a little at first. After all, my father was a predominate figure around the world and I’m sure his son’s names were mentioned more than once. Besides the Ryore were more than thorough when it came to investigations or controlling their providence, not to mention that here in Magniowa they had the most prominent archives at their disposal.

A spiritual hall of records that, according to legend, has existed since the beginning of time, the archives, a two-story masterpiece of architecture, possessed all the most prestigious events on tablets which held mystical properties. In Magniowas' early days, the population was primarily made up of those who came here on a pilgrimage to seek truth. Now, the city is filled with a variety of faiths and others whose ancestors came here for adventure and the thrill of the unknown, concerning the archives.

Varan wandered the main strip until early evening, and all the while could not shake the event at the alchemy shop. The fact the Ryore knew who he was and did research on his roots, rubbed Varan the wrong way, making him feel singled out. I suppose for my entire life I’ll be harassed because of all the supposed crimes my father committed, the young man thought, as he watched the people around him go about their mundane existence. It’s also apparent I’ll be subjected to blind hatred for those offenses as well.

Varan, opting to remove himself from Magniowa’s nightly activities, retired to his room at the Tanner Inn. It was a humble and peaceful environment, and for tonight, just what the healer ordered. The Scathrin did so enjoy the festivities after dusk, but on this evening, he desired to relax with his buclabah and get a good night’s sleep. These CM smokes will surely do the trick. The young man climbed the stairs to his room. Moreover, I won’t wake up with a sickly hang over either.

As he groped in his pants pocket for the key, Varan noticed the scent of sweet perfume in the air and the soft voice of a young lady in the room across the hall. The Veshnarin, with a perked ear, fought his insatiable curiosity and the urge to eavesdrop. With a turn of the key, the door eased open and Varan soon followed into the shadowy chamber. After lighting the lantern on the chest of drawers, he saw that the housemaid had refreshed his room. With four days gone of the six-day week, he paid for in advance, and his funds running low, Varan intended

to fully enjoy the comforts of the inn. If he did not land a job or come up with some money, he would soon be sleeping outdoors like he had many a night's past. But for this evening that’s not the case and tomorrow will take care of itself. The young man lit the first CM smoke. The flavor of the leafy cigarette was smooth and its effect delightful. Varan sat back in the comfort chair and slowly indulged into a euphoric peace, as he took in, held, and blew the smoke upward. It was not long before the Calmaridian drug had the young man’s conscious reeling and his thoughtful mind wandering from subject to subject. The sounds around him intensified, from the shutters gently rattling as the warm breeze trickled through, to the muffled voices of those in the adjoining rooms.

The young man was torn between simply hitting the sack or going across the hall and seeking out the angel that belonged to the alluring scent. As he pondered this dilemma, Varan tugged at the brows above his good eye. Scathrins were blessed with three eyebrows that started at a point over the bridge of their nose and fanned out and upward toward the temple like crows’ feet. Whenever the young man was deep in thought he nervously tugged at the thin brows. She’s probably a hideous wench and I’ll end up regretting what I did in the morning. “Not like I haven’t done anything similar in the past,” he said to himself, followed by a subdued laugh as he exhaled.

With his thoughts still on the opposite sex, Varan reminisced about his first love and the feeling of foolish youth that came with the experience. Fallese was her name and she was the daughter of his father’s best friend or Uncle Claybius as they called him. If only my self-proclaimed hero of a brother would have known about our relationship, Varan thought as he reveled in the secret. They’re bonded now and have a little arrogant bastard child of their own named Varell, in honor of my arrogant father. I wonder if my brother misses his sword, he concluded, looking over to the fine weapon.

The emotions he was experiencing toward his brother were based on pure anger. The feelings toward his father however, were that of a hurt child masked by the bitterness of years past. Varan didn’t want to, once again, let the ghosts of his former life intrude on another evening and shook them free, recalling brighter memories.

The Scathrin began to dwell on his true love, the glory of becoming the greatest Veshnarin ever. Though his peers were off and running with their careers and his was at a crawl, the young man still felt confident. If he could just get a big break, or make a tremendous find, it would propel him into fame among his people. There were three major possibilities to look into, and two of these were located in regions far away. The third was the legend of the buried city of Magniowa and the realm that was lost with its fall. According to those of faith, the city was the first and only with seventy-seven righteous families living under the rule of a holy King and Queen. In the Magniowan archives, that now stand, was kept the huge tablet of divine knowledge. Within the very molecules of this great stone was sealed the realm of total understanding and the pure power of knowledge itself.

On a dark day, the wicked warlock of the underworld convinced the King and Queen, if they were to touch The Divine Tablet that all things would be revealed to them. Then they would be able to better serve their beloved followers. The story is not clear after that meeting, but it is said the tablet exploded with portions of the holy stone falling strategically throughout the world. None of the tablet’s particles have ever been discovered, with some believing they were quickly gathered up by the evil master’s minions, as others proclaim they could not be touched by such wicked spirits and will be revealed in time. These same faithful who, as one, still hold true to this account, believe the races of Kantania all have roots in the first Magniowa and the seventy-seven families that dwelled there.

Time was kept after that day and now eleven hundred and fifty-six years later they search for The Lost Realm and artifacts from the first city of Magniowa. If Varan could find any piece of this huge divine tablet or the submerged city, he would, without a doubt, become a popular and influential figure. With dreams of grander swimming about his head, the Scathrin swooned with hopes. Before long the drug hit hard and in an absolutely relaxed state the adventurous youth bedded down, falling fast asleep.

Reconsidering his position the following morning, the Veshnarin determined he would primarily remain in his room for the next three or four days. Varan thought it wise to allow his recent unlawful act to drift further into the past before showing his suspicious face. At night, he would make an occasional trip to the main road, covertly appropriating some extra cash through his adequate pick-pocketing skills. During the daylight hours he would exercise his nimble frame and practice the arts of his trade in temperatures over ninety degrees. A Veshnarins livelihood depended on being at the top of his game, and calisthenics that honed these aspects were never taken lightly by the young man, no matter what the conditions. The late evenings were spent dwelling in solitude, when Varan would take a cooling bath, than indulge in a hit of buclabah before retiring

About the Author:

Kraig Dafoe was born in Potsdam, New York and grew up in Canton. He played high school football and joined the United States Army Reserves at the age of seventeen.

Kraig married at the age of nineteen and moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia where he worked as a Private Security officer for The Christian Broadcasting Network and also attended the Tidewater Community College for business.

After five years as a security officer, he became a Deputy Sheriff for the city of Chesapeake Virginia.

Kraig left the Sheriff's office after nine years of service and pursued a couple of different business opportunities before he went on to publishing his debut novel.

Kraig is the father of five children and he currently resides in Kansas, raising his youngest son. Visit his website

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