Monday, December 30, 2019

"Before the Shattered Gates of Heaven:
Shattered Gates Volume 1 Boxset"
by Bryan S. Glosemeyer

When a human turned 18, they were given a choice between two potential lifepaths. They must choose one immediately, and that choice cannot be undone. In the case of the book’s main character, her two choices were to become a “hen” and give birth to broods of children for the rest of her life or to enter the pit. Those who chose the pit fought battle after battle in an attempt to earn a name. For on this world, humans were considered less than nothing. But if they won 9 battles in the pit, they were given a name and became considered a Servant.

Being a Servant with a name gave one a chance to earn more rank and glory for their masters. But just as likely as earning rank among the Servants, was the probability of being killed in battle. But for the main character, the chance to see the stars and be seen and recognized by the Gods was what she wanted. It was what she was raised to desire and all that she knew. But what would happen if something began to make her question everything she had ever known?

This was a well written science fiction book. I liked the concept of a race of humans who had spent generations believing that the Gods would only see and honor them with a name if they were able to prove themselves worthy. Many succeeded, but many more died. And what happens when something finds a way to make one question that their lifelong belief in the Gods is false? What becomes of them then? And where do they go from there.

I liked how this book followed the path of one human and showed us how and when she began to come to question those long held beliefs. It wasn’t an easy thing for her, nor should it have been. But it was a fascinating story. And it was very interesting watching how she grew and evolved over time. The author did an excellent job of showing how a desire for something more than what one has already known can influence how a person reacts under a number of different circumstances as well has how the things we have been taught to believe can also shape our lives. I enjoyed reading this story and I think others will likely enjoy it too. Recommended.

Friday, December 27, 2019

"The Mail Order Bride
and her Children's Hope"
by Florence Linnington

After Emily’s Husband had died in an accident, the townsfolk seemed to take issue with a woman running the Mercantile by herself. They didn’t bother hiding the fact that if they had any other option that they would start taking their business elsewhere. Not having any other offers, she accepted a proposal from a rancher who had answered her ad in a mail order bride catalogue. He had 3 children of his own and needed someone to help raise them after the death of his own wife several years earlier.

Neither Emily nor Levi truly wished to marry again, but they both needed help raising their children and this seemed like the only option available to either of them. However they also had to deal with 5 children who weren’t happy about the joining of their families as well as the fact that none of them were truly open to the changes that would need to take place in order for them all to truly become one family. Add in a mother-in-law who was very vocally opposed to the union and things appeared doomed from the start.

Can they possibly find a way to accept not only each other, but each other’s children and find a way to bring everyone together into one family instead of two sides constantly fighting and sabotaging any attempts to make the marriage work?

I enjoyed reading this book. Ms. Linnington did a wonderful job of showing how difficult it can be to unite two families when no one seems willing to listen to what anyone but they themselves want to believe. This story was well thought out and well written. It showed a true understanding of how being unwilling to trust or assuming the worst in someone before giving them a chance can bring about additional problems that may not have really been there originally.

I think this was one of her best books yet and am very much looking forward to seeing where her next one will take us. Recommended.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

“Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say”
An Anthology Edited by Rhonda Parrish

This was an anthology of stories focusing more on Mrs. Claus rather than her husband, Santa. There are quite a number of fascinating versions of the famous female in this collection of stories. Some are more homey, others are warriors, and some aren’t human. But all of the stories in this collection are well written and enjoyable.

I will warn you that some (though not all) of the stories may be a bit more on the adult side than may be appropriate for younger readers, but for those who don’t object to a more adult story, they will enjoy them just as much as they will those stories that are more suitable for younger readers as well.

I truly enjoyed reading these stories. The plots were unique and varied. They showed that Mrs. Claus is more than just a woman who stays home, bakes cookies, and supports her husband Santa. She has the potential to be so much more than that. I think that anyone who takes the time to read them will also enjoy them. I know that I did.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

"While you were Dreaming"
by Celeste Bradley

Vicar John Barton has been working hard trying to find a way to forget his broken heart. The woman he had hoped to marry had fallen in love with the brokenhearted local Lord. It was almost impossible to be upset with the man who had allowed the love of John’s life to heal his heart and marry her. After all, how could the Vicar blame him? Bernadette was a wonderful woman and deserved nothing but happiness in her life. Unfortunately, it still left John with an aching and lonely heart.

Then one day a near tragedy struck and Vicar Barton found himself saving the life of the Lady Emmaline when her carriage nearly fell off the bridge into the frozen river below. Emmaline and her cousin Miss Gray were on their way to spend the Holiday visiting with Lord and Lady Matthias. Was Lady Emmaline the one destined to find love with the Vicar? Or is this just another opportunity for love to pass him by yet again?

This was a very sweet and enjoyable Christmas story with some fun little twists in the tale. I enjoyed reading it and watching the characters discover their own feelings as well as seeing how the time period expected them to act in regards to those feelings. After all, love was often considered to be secondary when compared to whether or not someone was considered a good match. Vicar Barton was someone who could be considered an acceptable match for Lady Emmaline, though she would likely expect him to seek a more prestigious position in London through his family connections rather than remaining in the small village parish in Haven. Nobility didn’t always have as much freedom to follow their hearts as those who were considered commoners did. But what was his heart telling him was right?

I would recommend giving this sweet holiday tale a try. I think most people will enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

"Holiday Hooligans" by Constance Barker

In the small town of Knockemstiff, Louisiana, Christmas is in full swing and has been for a while. Decorations are up all over town and everything appears quite festive.

At the Pleasen Teasen Hair Salon, they are planning on decorating once they have closed for the day. It makes for a fun evening, but when they return the next morning all their decorations have vanished. And not only that, but it looks like someone has gone around town and pulled a “Grinch” by stealing and getting rid of everyone’s Holiday decorations. Who would do such a thing and why?

This was an entertaining little holiday story, but it really did need to have gone through another round or two of editing. Had it been a little better edited before I read it, I would have definitely enjoyed the story much more.

The story the author shared with us was presented in an intriguing manner with characters that were well developed and was clearly part of a continuing series. As a fun little mystery series, it works quite well. I enjoyed it and will likely look up other books from this author in this series at some point in the future.

Monday, December 23, 2019

"The Poseidon Network" by Kathryn Gauci

To put it mildly, WWII was a harsh time for everyone around the globe. Life was particularly difficult for those living in areas occupied by enemy forces. In such areas there were always pockets of resistance and secret networks connecting those groups fighting to free their homelands.

This book focuses mainly on the story of some of those working among the resistance groups in Greece. The lives of the people there were particularly difficult, especially when the undercover forces began to suspect that there was a traitor in their midst reporting back to the germans. Can they discover if there truly is someone in the resistance who is working against them, who the traitor is, and how their reports are being delivered to the enemy before all of the resistance's efforts are undone? And all this must be accomplished without giving away their suspicions and while still managing to accomplish their own mission.

I enjoyed the story told by Ms. Gauci. The historical aspects were clearly very well researched and the plot was well thought out. Seeing how the resistance operated while undercover was truly interesting and I enjoyed seeing the historical notes as well as the directions on how to make a few of the drinks mentioned inside the story at the end of the book. It is always fascinating to see a bit of the reality behind the historical fiction in any book.

Monday, December 16, 2019

"Blood Roses" by J.A. Cummings

Rowena Glass and her familiar, Grendal, are on vacation at the Bermuda Island Monster Resort. It is a vacation that she very much needed after her metaphysical bookstore and crystal shop were burned down. She had refused the sexual advances of a local pastor and he had turned his church members against the witch living in their town. She had escaped the fire with her life and her familiar, but nothing else.

At least her insurance had left her with enough money to take a luxury vacation in the Bermuda Triangle where no humans were around to torment her, and where she could simply rest and relax for a while.

At least, that is, until she attends a masked ball where she meets a handsome vampire who captures her heart and who needs help to be freed from his mistress. Can Rowena find a way to help to free Lucius from the vampire who had turned him so very long ago? And at what cost?

I enjoyed this story a great deal, as I have many of the other books published by Ms. Cummings. The tale told here was captivating & easily held my interest throughout the entire story. If she continues with other books in this series, I would definitely look forward to reading them.

My only complaint was that I wish the book had been given another pass by the editor/proofreader as there were a few more typos than I am used to seeing in her books. Regardless of that fact, I did greatly enjoy the story and will gladly read more of them if she continues with this series.

Monday, December 9, 2019

"The Amish Widow:
The Amish Secret Widow's Society
Book 1" by Samantha Price

Emma Kurtzler has recently lost her husband. He was killed in a construction accident because he had not been wearing his safety harness. Emma is feeling quite lost without him. Uncertain of what she will do now, she soon becomes friends and part of a group or widows within her small Amish community. At virtually the same time, she has a real estate agent trying to get her to sell her farm. It seems the man already has an interested client for the property. But Emma has no wish to sell. And that’s when things start taking a turn for the worse and causing her to ask questions about a number of the people who have been her friends and neighbors for years. Can the Widows’ group help her come to terms with Levi’s death? And can they help her to find the answers to the questions she has begun to ask?

This was an interesting little mystery. It was a quick read and I thought it very entertaining. I felt that it could have used another quick pass by an editor or proofreader, but overall the story itself made up for the small errors that I noticed. I enjoyed the plot and will likely look for more books in this series in the future. For those that enjoy Amish themed stories, I would recommend this one. As I mentioned above, it was a fun, quick read.

Monday, December 2, 2019

"Spinning Time: A Time Travel Romance"
by D.F. Jones

Julia Boatwright has just turned 21 years old. Her parents are throwing her a very elaborate birthday party. They hope that she will fall for one of the proper young men that were invited, but Julia finds them all pretty much the same as each other. In other words, rather boring. But the handsome young man who had arranged to be hired as extra waitstaff in the hopes of meeting her, him she finds fascinating. She knows her mother will definitely not approve of the thought of Julia dating him, but she doesn’t care. And when he eventually proposes to her, she immediately says yes.

But then things take an unfortunate turn when Julia falls through a random hole in time and finds herself suddenly quite a bit in the future. She doesn’t understand how she got there nor does she know how, or even if she can find a way to return to the past that was her home. Everything she knew seems to be gone or changed, and all she wants is to return to her beloved Phillip. But can she return? Or will that wind up changing history?

I enjoyed this story. At first when I started reading it, I kept thinking about far too many “but what if…” thoughts that seemed as if they might cause plot holes. However the author had already seemingly thought of each of those same problems and they were dealt with pretty much as soon as I came across them. She did a very good job of explaining and dealing with such questions well before they actually became an issue. I was very impressed with how she handled the problems that often seem inherent in many time travel stories.

On top of all of that, the story was fun and entertaining. It dealt with a number of twists thrown in by the author in ways that worked quite well the tale being woven. Overall, I enjoyed reading this story.

“The Gender Game” by Bella Forest

Set in a future where humanity has almost destroyed itself, the people have split into two separate societies. On one side of the river was...