Wednesday, 7 December 2022

The Darker The Skies by Bryan Prosek

 

Book Details:

​Book Title:  The Darker the Skies by Bryan Prosek
Category:  YA Fiction (Ages 13-17),  292 pages
Genre: YA Science Fiction 
Publisher:  CamCat Books 
Release date:  November 2022
Content Rating: PG. It's very clean.
Book Description:

It only takes one to make a difference.

Just days before Jake Saunders plans on proposing to the love of his life, Jake is called upon once again to save his home, Earth. The Earthen Legion troops and its allies think they’re battling only pirates, but a new, more powerful foe from another galaxy flanks their forces and invades, in search of a weapon the planet didn’t even know it had.

​When Jake learns that this new enemy was responsible for the death of his father many years ago, he realizes he can finally face his true nemesis. The odds are stacked against Jake, but with the help of his friends and allies he’s made along the way, he must rally the remaining Legion troops and retake Earth before it’s too late. The fate of Earth and the fate of his love, rest in the balance.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

The Brighter The Stars by Bryan Prosek

 

Book Details:

​Book Title:  The Brighter the Stars by Bryan Prosek
Category:  YA Fiction (Ages 13-17),  256 pages
Genre: YA Science Fiction 
Publisher:  CamCat Books 
Release date:  November 2020
Formats Available for Review: audiobook (Book Funnel download), and ebook (EPUB, PDF, Book Funnel download)
Tour dates: Nov 14 to Dec 9, 2022
Content Rating: PG. It's very clean.
Book Description:

Caught between love and revenge, Jake has one chance to live up to the man his uncle was.

Earth crashed into interstellar politics as a lightweight, lagging so far behind other planetary weapons systems everyone feared they wouldn’t survive first contact with other worlds without quick action. By 2185, Earth had united itself into five geographic sectors and developed a defense system powerful enough to keep aggressors at bay—for now, at least.

Jake Saunders became a Legion soldier to honor the memory of his war hero uncle, who was brutally murdered in front of him when he was still a young teen. Fast forward a few years, and Jake and his best friend Cal have been tasked with escorting Cal’s older sister Diane to become Earth’s ambassador on a far-off planet. It’s the opportunity of Diane’s career, very likely a lifetime post. But for Jake, that could mean a lifetime’s heartbreak. He has loved Diane since they were kids, and every step closer to that ambassador assignment is a step closer to goodbye.

​But somebody is after more than Earth’s defense, and Jake, Cal, and Diane are on a trajectory to crash headlong into that dangerous plot. Somebody wants to play Earth against its most immediate threat, Craton, and convince both to develop super weapons—and he’s working with the person who killed Jake’s uncle all those years ago. When he reappears on Jake, Cal, and Diane’s journey to the ambassadorship, Jake is faced with difficult choices to look out for his friends and honor his uncle’s memory.
Buy the Book:
CamCat Books
Audible ~
 Amazon
B&N ~ IndieBound ~ BookShop
add to goodreads

The Brighter The Stars is the first novel in Bryan Prosek's young adult science fiction series which is set some two hundred years into the future when Earth is a very different place and humans have made contact with a number of other alien races in our solar system. Despite there now being apparent peace between everyone on Earth, our outlook towards other planets still assumes violent intent so the Legion was formed. The book's juvenile heroes, Jake and Cal, both become Legion soldiers and most of The Brighter The Stars follows their maverick escapades as they rush to save Earth from duplicity and potential disaster.

I did feel that Jake especially often felt too young for the role assigned to him. Both he and Cal are meant to be experienced soldiers, yet their impetuousness generally leads them into more trouble and dangerous situations. Of course, they always survive by the skin of their teeth and always have just the right gizmo to hand to save the day! Prosek has certainly written a fast-paced, exciting novel and I could easily imagine its target audience of teenaged boys being enthralled by Jake and Cal's adventure. There's lots of gung ho bravado, fights, spaceship battles and nefarious aliens to defeat. I did enjoy spotting nods to series like Star Trek along the way too. While The Brighter The Stars isn't the sort of story I would usually choose, it did make for a fun diversion.

Monday, 5 December 2022

The Broken Hallelujah excerpt, by Wendy H Adair

Did you see my Meet The Author post with Wendy H Adair on Friday? It was interesting to interview her about her newly published Vietnam War novel, The Broken Hallelujah, and now you can read the book's first two chapters right here!


Synopsis: 

Martin Carter’s plan is to survive his tour in Vietnam and return to his wife and newborn daughter. He refused his commission to keep from lying to his men but ultimately becomes a leader to his team and to a small group of Vietnamese villagers. He must find whoever is running drugs through the camp before he can safely get home.

Robin Carter’s plan is to care for her grandmother and restart her career after a disastrous divorce. Martin’s footlocker is unexpectedly delivered to their home—he’s been missing in action since 1969. His journals record his harrowing sixteen months in Vietnam. Robin is determined to find the grandfather she never knew before her grandmother’s memories fade.

The Broken Hallelujah is a heart-wrenching tale of family, the lasting impact of lies, and the human consequences of truth.


Has that Synopsis captured your attention? I hope so, because you can now read the Prologue and First Chapter of The Broken Hallelujah ...


Prologue

Martin

Central Highlands, South of Da Nang, Vietnam

December 1969


By now, he should have been used to the smell and the heat and the endless green. Corporal Martin Carter shook his head, his mind wandering into the never-ending mystery of his surroundings. His eight-man reconnaissance patrol moved through the ferns and bamboo, breaking a path through the mist, watching intently for signs of the enemy and any deadly surprises they might have left. Only the whine of insects and the chittering of monkeys broke the silence. As exotic as the jungle looked, it was the smell that would still be there long after he returned home. A noxious soup of rotting plants, sulfurous mud, and dead and dying beasts rose from the swamp as they slogged their way foot after foot, mile after mile, back to home base outside of Chu La. 

The line of soldiers moved slowly down the trail. Sweat dripped unabated out of Martin’s helmet, down his face, and under his collar. He didn’t bother to wipe it away since it was just followed by another rivulet. He’d ripped the sleeves off his jungle fatigues, but it barely helped in the humid sweatbox.

He’d been in-country sixteen months . . . longer than anyone in his unit. By now, Martin could stay on full alert while pondering weightier issues, like why the hell he was still in Vietnam and not home, as he should have been months ago. Goddamn Lieutenant Price. Haven’t got a fair shake from that guy since he showed up, Martin thought, slogging along the barely discernible trail. He can’t know I’ve been checking on him. Only Cowboy knows what I suspect.

Martin tried to focus on the mission. Left, right, left, right . . . the cadence hummed in his mind. It calmed him, but he shook his head to break out of the almost trance-like rhythm(never good to lose awareness. He glared into the jungle, almost wishing to see a flash of black pajamas.

Shorty was up front. His helmet rose above the bamboo like a beacon for the troops. Word was that he was leading the march with an eight-foot python slung over his shoulders. Lieutenant Price would no doubt call him out for it. But Martin was in charge of this team, and he could ignore the boa addition to Shorty’s uniform to partake of the promised meat at dinner. The almost-six-foot-six soldier planned to open a BBQ pit back home in Tennessee after the war. They were just lucky he hadn’t stumbled on another cobra. That thing had been at least nine foot and damn poisonous. The python, though, that would be a great addition to tonight’s meal.

The chopper had dropped them upriver, close to the demilitarized zone (DMZ). They were to clear the way back to Chu La and their camp. They’d done this sweep two days ago. He hoped the VC didn’t figure out how often they were on this trail. It wasn’t safe to set a pattern. What the hell was HQ thinking? All was quiet for the moment. Martin shook his head as soon as he thought that. He’d think of his daughter instead. Adriana was now one. Suse says she has my green eyes and is already walking. Martin patted his breast pocket that held the small photo of Suse and a smiling infant. It was against regs to carry personal stuff on patrol, but he couldn’t leave the photo behind in his hooch. 

They’d had a huge fight . . . he didn’t tell her until after he’d already enlisted. He justified his actions for the hundredth time. It was the timing of it, that’s all, what with her being pregnant. He still hadn’t seen her face to make sure she’d really forgiven him. Thinking of her and the young daughter he hadn’t met made him grin. He checked quickly to make sure no one saw him and then focused on the cami ruck in front of him. Left, right, left, right continued to beat in his head as the team moved closer to home base. 

It was easy to drift to thoughts of his daughter. Haven’t met her, but I’ll bet she’ll know her old man, he thought. I’ve been over here almost as long as Suse and I’ve been married. Better finish that letter when I get back to camp. He shook his head again. 

They’d been marching off and on for six hours. He was in the groove, his feet continued in the trained pattern . . . left, right . . . left, right . . . which let his mind wander to his recent promotion. The lieutenant must have had no choice. Price could continue to torment him as a corporal rather than send him home at the normal end of his tour. 

Martin looked up just in time to avoid walking over the stiff soldier ahead of him. Bonzo Bennie was full stopped. He was the most uptight guy in camp. He’d transferred to Company A after his Huey crashed in a chemical drop just north of Chu La. He still had that death stare when spooked. His shoulders were hunched into his neck.

The entire line stopped . . . no one was breathing. The monkeys were no longer screaming in the canopy, and the birds and insects were mute. Shit, this couldn’t be good. Hopefully Trưởng and his family could get to the caves in time. Goddamn karma. He knew better than to take his eye off the jungle. Raising the M16 to his shoulder, Martin couldn’t tell where the enemy was, as the sweltering wilderness absorbed the sounds. 

He heard the staccato punch of automatic fire, and the mist changed to smoke from grenades. The line of men broke, seeking cover. The sounds reverberated off the trees. His men cried out as high-velocity bullets punched through their protective gear. Running toward the heaviest noise, Martin saw Bennie folded up by the trail with his left leg twisted under and the right side of his face nothing but raw meat and bone. He yelled for Doc, the team’s medic, and kept pushing forward, trying to get to the front, trying to help his team.

Although he still hadn’t spotted the enemy, he fired toward what he believed was the primary source of the attack. He could see very little but the ever-changing green of the vegetation. The sulfur smell of gunpowder now clogged his nostrils, almost covering up the decay and rot of the swamp. 

“Shit, shit, goddamn shit,” he swore as he glimpsed his team, fallen by the trail and into the slime. He pushed through a stand of bamboo, spraying forty-five rounds per minute from his M16, praying to catch at least a few of the enemy. He no longer was thinking(only reacting, dropping the empty magazine and slapping in a full one. 

Raising the rifle back to his shoulder, he felt a hard punch in his left side. He then heard the rifle shot, which sounded oddly like his M16. He didn’t see the soldier come in behind him, but he felt the bayonet slide between his ribs. He swung around, using his rifle as a club, but by that time, he was too slow. He thought one last time of Suse and Adriana as his knees collapsed, and he joined his teammates in the mud and slime. 

 

Chapter 1

Robin

2019


“I, Robin Louise Carter, am not a loser.”

OK, I was living in my old bedroom . . . in Gram’s house . . . divorced . . . no job . . . but—

“I have a plan.” 

Worst affirmation ever. I brushed my teeth, spit, rinsed, and mumbled my morning declaration. It would have to do for the moment. The bathroom mirror reflected green eyes and an intent to make my plan a reality . . . Gram’s health . . . my new PR business. With a slug of coffee and a nod to positivity, it was time to transform Gram’s garage into my ideal living and working space. 

Two hours later, I swiped my arm across my sweaty forehead, smearing the dust into a muddy streak. “I swear, MC, this is the hottest May ever.” I was just short of panting like a dog, so I grabbed some water and drank half the bottle. 

Maryam laughed, her own tanned skin looking remarkably cool. “You’re really surprised that Houston is brutally hot and humid in May? What’s wrong, Robin, ole girl? You get soft living the high life in Dallas?” Her hip cocked against the door, Maryam pulled her ponytail tight, smoothing the straight ebony hair back from her face. 

My short red-brown hair was plastered to my forehead, and I glared at her coolness. Maryam Consuela Davila had been my best friend since third grade. She was “MC” to me, since she orchestrated our most outrageous adventures. But her ability to stay calm and cool in ninety-five-degree heat and humidity was beyond annoying. 

“I’m just saying, MC, we’ve been slogging through this crap . . . I mean stuff . . . for three days, and that window unit is not holding its own.” I was about to turn thirty. Looking around at the junk and dust, I didn’t have much to show for it. I came home ’cause Gram’s memory was failing. And to be honest, my life had turned to shit in Dallas. “I have to strip this apartment clean. I can’t begin to remodel or design my office until this junk is gone.” 

I sounded manic, even to myself. Cardboard boxes and furniture were stacked all over the ’80s gold shag. Gulping another swig of water and wiping my mouth, I managed to smear even more dirt across my face. It was official now . . . I was a total mess. I oozed down the wall until I hit the shag, my knees bumping into another box. Pulling off the lid, I stared at the jumble of old glassware, picking up the dusty vase on top.

Maryam stretched her arms over her head, twisting from side to side. Her eyes suddenly turned serious. “Hey, Rob. Uh, there’s a rumor you probably need to hear—”

“You’re not taking a job in LA, just after I’ve gotten back—”

“No, nothing like that.” Maryam rubbed her thumb over the door jamb. “It’s just . . . OK, here it is. Greg’s in town. He’s teaching at Rice this summer. There.”

It was like she’d punched me in the stomach. I hadn’t seen my ex-husband since leaving Dallas, my divorce decree firmly in hand. “That’s not possible. He’s to stay in Dallas . . . or anywhere but Houston.” I was babbling but couldn’t seem to stop as I pulled up from the floor. I dug into my pocket for a stomach mint and fifty cents for the swear jar. I was trying to clean up my language.

In a placating tone, MC continued. “Sorry, friend. Francie heard it from Deb, who has a niece enrolled at Rice, and she swears she’s taking a history course from Dr. Greg Henderson.”

My hair was now hopelessly tangled in a peaked mess. I shouldn’t still be this furious. I was the perfect faculty wife until I realized he had a major character flaw . . . a need for sex with random coeds. Holding onto the old vase, I waved it around for emphasis. “Jeez, MC. Now I’ll have to spend the rest of the summer trying to avoid running into him.”

“Buck up, sweetie. Houston is huge. We don’t hang in West U that much, so we’ll just avoid it for the summer.”

I shook my head like I was trying to shake off a bad dream. “Grrr. Why does this still bother me? It’s been almost a year.”

MC patted my back. “It’ll be OK. You’re not that girl anymore. The one who said, ‘How high?’ when he hollered ‘Jump.’ You’ve got this.”

Suddenly the vase flew across the room and hit the wall. I jumped as much as Maryam at the noise. “Oh my God. Where did that come from? I don’t throw things.”

Maryam chuckled. “Unresolved issues, much? You’re OK; just breathe slowly.” She put her hand on my shoulder. 

Shaking her off, I slumped against the wall. “Sorry . . . this must be the anger portion of the stages of grief. I hit the ‘shock and denial’ stage when I found him shagging his grad assistant in my bed. I’ve been juggling the ‘pain and guilt’ portion since moving home. I know it’s stupid for me to feel any guilt, but . . .”

Maryam reached out with a quick hug. “You deserve to get angry and even to throw a vase at the wall if you feel like it.”

“Thanks, MC. You’re right. I can get with the anger. ’Cause it really isn’t fair. He had all the fun. Crap, you know, that’s what he called it, ‘just a bit of fun.’” My teeth were grinding as I continued. “So he kept all our ‘friends,’ the house and his job. Everything. At least I was smart enough to keep my last name when we got married.” I shivered at the thought that I might be Robin Henderson and forced to spend thousands to get it legally reversed.

I was wearing a path in the gold shag. At five-foot-eight, I crossed the room in a few long strides. I was on my fourth pass. Finally, I stopped for a breath and another slug of water. 

“OK, I’m done. I’m not going down that path anymore. He is so out of my life.”

I began picking up the broken glass, dropping the pieces in the trash box. Straightening, I squared my shoulders. “I need to fast-track through the next few stages and get right to the reconstruction part. I have no time for the grief game. My priority has to be all about Gram.” 

I could feel my forehead scrunch up. “She worries me. MC, she called me Adriana last night . . . hell, my mother’s been gone twenty-five years. Gram’s too young for this stuff.” Looking at my reflection in the dusty window, I saw a lot of worry lines that could turn into wrinkles. Not a good look for a new PR consultant. Were these thanks to Greg or due to worries over Gram? Did it matter? 

My phone buzzed against my hip. Someone at the front door, according to the new security system. Clicking the app, I saw a UPS guy on the porch. Down the stairs on the side of the garage, I headed to the front yard. “Hey, just leave it on the porch,” I yelled. 

“Need a signature.” He held up his tablet. “Government requirement.”

Wiping my hands down my shorts, I jogged down the drive and up the steps. Grabbing the tablet, I scrawled my signature with an index finger. “What is that thing, anyway?”

“Hell if I know. It’s a heavy sucker, I can tell you that,” he said over his shoulder heading back to the truck.

Using my key, I pushed open the front door. “MC, can you lift that end? Get it on the rug so we don’t scratch the floor.” 

We maneuvered it inside, and Maryam read the label as we settled it in the middle of the room. “Look, it’s for your Gram, from the government. Return address is ‘Department of Defense.’”


You can buy The Broken Hallelujah @ Amazon / The Book Depository / Waterstones

You can find Wendy on the Bungalow Books Facebook page and their Website

Friday, 2 December 2022

Meet Wendy H Adair, author of The Broken Hallelujah


I recently discovered that American author, Wendy Adair, has a new historical fiction novel out, The Broken Hallelujah, which is set during the Vietnam War. I have a great excerpt from the novel to share with you all on Monday, but first I was thrilled to have the chance to interview Wendy, chatting about her writing life and discovering what inspired The Broken Hallelujah.

Let's meet Wendy ... 

I began a lifelong love of reading before kindergarten. My earliest memories include going to the library or bookmobile and bringing home a box of books…every week.  I was raised on Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Wizard of Oz, Black Beauty, and other works of mystery and wonder.  Not surprising I would work to solve mysteries and answer questions in my own writing.  

My connection to words led to a career in public relations and marketing.  Armed with degrees in communication, business and library science, I held senior management positions in higher education, winning numerous local, regional and national marketing awards while working at both the University of Houston and Texas Southern University.  

After forty years writing non-fiction, including a 175-page history of the University of Houston, I retired and finally turned to creating fictional worlds. With the help of a Writer’s League of Texas five-day retreat and the eighteen-month long Online Certificate in Novel Writing program at Stanford University, I embraced both retirement and novel writing.  The result of which is The Broken Hallelujah.  

When I’m not slaving over my computer, I spend time in my backyard garden and with my crazy fur babies—Jade, my yappy but huggable white schnauzer, and her best friend, Yara, a gorgeous and unflappable Russian blue feline.  

Currently, I’m working on a mystery set at a university…involving three generations of strong women determined to clear a friend of a murder/suicide charge.  I just finished the first draft and hope to have it out in 2023.  I’m having a great time sending up some favorite academic places and people in my fictitious university.  My forty years in academe opened many doors, introduced me to an amazing variety of characters, took me around the world from Houston to Alaska and Nigeria to Beijing, and offered many an outrageous tale to provide a plethora of plots. 


Q: What inspired you to tell Martin's story in The Broken Hallelujah?

A: Although a complete work of fiction, the idea was born from my fiancé’s tale of giving up his commission as a lieutenant during the Vietnam War because he was lied to when he enlisted.  The audacity of this act, and what it said about his sense of right and wrong stuck with me long after his death.  

And so it grew into a tale of a soldier trying to get back to his family while doing what’s right in a hellish war, and his granddaughter fifty years later trying to discover why he was missing in action and find a way to bring him home.  

It is important to note, the 1,586 soldiers still listed as MIA from the Vietnam War are real.  Fifty years after the US pulled out of that country, we still have nearly 1,600 people unaccounted for.  That number alone made it necessary for me to complete this book.


Q: How did you go about researching the book's different locations and time periods?

A: I called on friends who had served in the armed forces during that war as well as video and written records of soldiers’ lives and survival in the jungles of Vietnam. Retired Special Forces Major James Morris, himself an award-winning author of War Story and The Dreaming Circus, helped immeasurably to ensure the military information and Vietnam settings were as accurate as possible.  

The information from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was garnered from their website, although Major Bronstein and the other characters mentioned were created for this book.  The National League of MIA/POW Families organization also exists, again the people mentioned are fictitious.


Q: I understand you wrote nonfiction throughout your working life before switching to fiction after retirement. How do the two styles differ for you?

A: The preparation for writing is much the same whether I was doing an article for a university magazine or to pitch to an outside media.  Research—ensuring all settings, details, resources, and content are accurate and complete—holds for both fiction and non-fiction.  The biggest difference comes in the actual writing.  In non-fiction I worked with existing sources, direct quotes, accurate descriptions, and verifying the accuracy before publishing.  Fiction writing is both more freeing and more frightening.  I now control all sources, descriptions, characters, and what they do.  I’m responsible for their quotes and how they are changed through the book.  At first it felt a bit daunting.  But it proved true that once I began developing the characters, they did seem to lead me to their own reality.  It was an amazing feeling.  

The best example I can give you is in the development of Martin, the Vietnam soldier.  My original thought was to keep his story told through his journal entries.  However, very quickly it felt to confining and distancing to only use the brief notes a soldier could make after all events were over.  He needed to show what was happening, the others in his unit, the interaction with the villagers.  So, the plan changed.  We now see Martin both through his journal entries, and directly as those entries pull his granddaughter Robin back to 1969 and into the war.


Q: Do you have a dedicated writing space? What does it look like?

A: I live in a 100-year-old bungalow in Houston.  I work in my home office, which I created in a small bedroom in the back.  I have a glorious view into my backyard, that includes three fountains, a seven-foot-tall whirligig, numerous colorful pots, and lush plantings.  It is a great place to let the mind wander wherever it wishes.


Q: Now that The Broken Hallelujah is out in the world, what are you working on next?

A: I just completed the first draft of a mystery set at a university.  Deliver Us From Evil…and the 6’oclock News involves three generations of strong women determined to clear a faculty member/friend of a murder/suicide charge.  I’m having a great time sending up some favorite academic places and people in my fictitious university.  My forty years in academe opened many doors, introduced me to an amazing variety of characters, took me around the world from Houston to Alaska and Nigeria to Beijing, and offered many an outrageous tale to provide a plethora of plots.  

My hope is that this will grow into a fun series, with each of these women finding trouble and adventures to involve them all and entertain my readers.


You can buy The Broken Hallelujah @ Amazon / The Book Depository / Waterstones

You can find Wendy on the Bungalow Books Facebook page and their Website


See you on Monday for that excerpt from The Broken Hallelujah!


Thursday, 1 December 2022

Grady Whill and the Templeton Codex by Carole P. Roman


Book Details:

Book Title:  Grady Whill and the Templeton Codex by Carole P. Roman
Category:  Young-Adult Fiction (18 +), 286 pages
Genre:  Action-Adventure/Fantasy
Publisher:  Chelshire
Release date:   July 30 2022
Content Rating: PG. The author thinks the book is G-rated. A reviewer said it had some curses. Some may consider "Holy crap" is a curse.



"If I were to give a book to every young adult in this world, I would give them Grady Whill and the Templeton Codex by Carole P. Roman without blinking. I absolutely loved every moment of this uplifting and fascinating story. It's filled with valuable life lessons, adventure, peril, and highly relatable and lovable characters." Reviewed by Emma Megan for Readers' Favorite

"Harry Potter meets Sky High. If you're a fan of young adult stories where protagonists go to mysterious schools to train their superhuman abilities, don't miss out on Grady Whill and The Templeton Codex." Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Reader's Favorite
 
"Carole P. Roman has created a world that is unique, inhabited by characters that young people can easily relate to because of their similar concerns about growing pains... This book has a strong message and theme that deserves to be read." 
Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Reader's Favorite

Book Description:

Templeton Academy- the superhero high school is finally open! The prestigious institution is recruiting the best of the best to enroll in its student body. The school is as mysterious as it is exclusive.

Grady Whill thinks there is nothing special about him to make the grade. However, his best friend, Aarush Patel has been selected and thinks Grady has the right stuff. Even school bully Elwood Bledsoe is attending.

​If Grady is fortunate enough to be picked, his guardian has forbidden him to attend. Will a family secret prevent Grady from becoming the superhero he was destined to be?
Buy the Book:
Audible ~
 Amazon ~ B&N ~ BookBub
add to goodreads
Grady Whill and the Templeton Codex is fast-paced novel for older children and young adults who enjoy school stories with a strong fantasy element. What I liked most about Grady and his best friend, Aarush, was how far from the traditional superhero mould they are - at the start of the book at least! Grady himself is asthmatic and Aarush is autistic, and both are the repeated victims of school bully, Elwood. Actually, I felt that Elwood was really just incredibly jealous of their close friendship, Aarush having supplanted Elwood in Grady's affections at some time in the past.
I could understand Grady's reticence about applying to the Templeton Academy, especially when so little is actually known about the school before its first pupils arrive. Grady's uncle has strangely vehement feelings against it too which aren't really explored. However, Grady does eventually get to Templeton - this would have been a short book if he hadn't! There's a lot of weirdness surrounding the teachers and their lessons and I did often want more explanations of what was going on. But then Grady doesn't understand it all either and he's our narrator.
Overall, Grady Whill and the Templeton Codex is a fun story about the importance of loyal friendships and self-belief. Grady himself is an engaging central character, despite his debilitating lack of self confidence, and I appreciated how Carole Roman built up the relationships between the groups of friends. The Codex itself makes for some interesting discussions around the concept of failure and there's valuable life lessons taught within the context of the story. I think younger readers will love spending time with Grady and his friends.

GUEST POST by Carole P. Roman
I am both a mom and grandmom writer, but my kids don't live with me anymore, I am 'on call' and available anytime they need me. Creative writing is a luxury for me, and I mostly do it when I've finished all my responsibilities. I work full time and run serval enterprises, so I have a full day. Writing is done in the evening, when everything has been put to bed.
I began writing in 2011 with my first book Captain No Beard An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life.
I either feel like writing or not. When I don't, I will sit at the keyboard and just write. I'm always surprised at what I produce, even though I wasn't in the mood.

Meet the Author:
Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of over fifty children's books. Whether it's pirates, princesses, spies, or discovering the world around us, her books have enchanted educators, parents, and her diverse audience of children of all ages.

Her best-selling book, The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids: 800+ Jokes! has reached number one on Amazon in March of 2020 and has remained in the top 200 books since then.

She published Mindfulness for Kids with J. Robin Albertson-Wren.

Carole has co-authored two self-help books. Navigating Indieworld: A Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing with Julie A. Gerber, and Marketing Indieworld with both Julie A. Gerber and Angela Hausman.

Roman is the CEO of a global transportation company, as well as a practicing medium.

She also writes adult fiction under the name Brit Lunden and has created an anthology of the mythical town of Bulwark, Georgia with a group of indie authors.

Writing is her passion and one of her favorite pastimes. Roman reinvents herself frequently, and her family calls her the 'mother of reinvention.' She resides on Long Island, near her children and grandchildren.

connect with the author:

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Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card or a signed copy of GRADY WHILL AND THE TEMPLETON CODEX (10 winners / USA only) (ends Dec 5)
GRADY WHILL AND THE TEMPLETON CODEX Book Tour Giveaway



Monday, 21 November 2022

PUPS AND PURRS SERIES by Sunny Weber

 Book Series Details:
Book Series Title:  PUPS & PURRS SERIES by Sunny Weber
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12)
Genre:  animals/pets
Publisher:  Pups & Purrs Press
Release date:  Oct 6, 2017, Aug 8, 2019, August 23, 2019, 
Content Rating: G
Book Series Description:

Mission: Humane education through storytelling.

Each book in the Pups & Purrs series features Classic Coming of Age stories with multi-layered themes and messages for a wide variety of readers.

Ages 7-10 will enjoy the surface of the stories; ages 10-13 will begin to see the messages; ages 13 and up will begin to identify with the deeper themes.

Each book reflects issues children experience and the animal characters give voice to emotions that children often cannot.
The main goals of the series are:
​To Help children
 who have difficulty verbalizing their life stresses but who can identify with animals. The animal characters experience the same issues: e.g.:  social isolation; personal identity conflicts; bullying; rejection; lack of power; decision-making; growing up challenges.
To Provide humane education for childrenteaching what animals need; to develop empathy; seeking to see the world through animal eyes; assisting in the early development of altruism.
A major goal is to turn potential animal abusers around--avoiding the inevitable escalation to violence against people. Children begin abusing animals when they are abused, or see abuse modeled in the adults around them. The P&P series seeks to give children more constructive options through humane awareness of animals as sentient beings.
To Teach through storytelling and entertainment: by encouraging reading by featuring colorful characters and engrossing stories.
To Develop early problem-solving abilities/analytical thinking:  the animal characters show how to set goals and develop step-by-step accomplishments to attain those goals. They face the consequences of their decisions and grow in personal responsibility.
To Promote the humane treatment of all creatures and the environment by furnishing tools for parents, teachers, counselors, and humane educators at home, school, in therapeutic settings, and at animal rescue environments.

GUEST POST by Sunny Weber, author of the Pups & Purrs Series
Who is your main audience for the Pups & Purrs Series and how have you addressed the audiences’ needs?
My target audiences are:
Middle-Grade readers (ages 8-14).
Readers who dislike/have difficulty with reading, by providing intriguing stories, in easy-to-read formats, with charming illustrations.
Parents who want to be able to share reading experiences with their children. All the stories realistically but sensitively face what children do as they grow up, but parents can be at ease knowing each book has a happy ending!
Teachers who seek user-friendly tools to encourage students to read. The transition from picture to chapter books can intimidate children, especially those with learning challenges, so the P&P books include illustrations, larger print, and few hyphenated words on the right sides of the pages.
Counselors who need animal character bridges to assist troubled children open up about their own life challenges—while identifying with the story characters.
Humane Educators who can share animal stories in shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries when children visit or volunteer.

Buy the Series:
Amazon.com​

Saturday, 19 November 2022

In the Shadow of a Hoax by Maci Aurora + Excerpt

In the Shadow of a Hoax
Maci Aurora
(Fareview Fairytales, #2)
Publication date: January 24th 2023
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

In the Kingdom of Kaloma, a woman is forced to rely on a man to “keep her” and is forbidden from maintaining anything of her own. It’s the law.

In the remote village of Sevens, at the northernmost point of the kingdom, there lives a family with four daughters and a son, toiling day in and day out together, hopeful a treaty with the boarding kingdom of Jast might change things.

When one daughter—at risk of being imprisoned for fighting back—hides away in the Whitling Woods. She stumbles upon a dying man and despite the risk to herself, chooses to save him. Only who he is has the power to change everything…

Tarley Fareview, idealistic and stubborn, does what she can to support herself in spite of an unjust Kaloma law. When she fights back after being attacked, she flees into the woods disguised as a boy. While in hiding, she discovers a dying man and must decide if she risks her life to save him. Unable to walk away, Tarley chooses to intervene and works to save the stranger, only little does she know that by doing so she’ll also risk the heart she promised herself she’d never give to anyone.

When the Crown Prince of Jast, Lachlan Nikolas—forced by the king to attend treaty negotiations with the kingdom of Kaloma in disguise—is attacked, his horse bolts, and they both careen over a cliff, falling to their deaths in a raging river below. Only, miracle of miracles, Lachlan doesn’t perish, and instead is given a second chance at life, but at a price. When he wakes, he’s not only been stripped of his clothes but also his identity. Saved by a strange woman—in a terrible disguise because she looks nothing like a boy—Lachlan must learn very quickly how to survive in a world where he isn’t a prince anymore and with zero skills other than his entitlement and his charm. Unsure who to trust, Lachlan must reinvent himself, learn how to survive, open his heart to discover the truth about worthiness, and discover what it means to sacrifice one’s self for true love.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

SNEAK PEEK:

It was nearing sunrise on the fifth day. The twilight teasing the flap of the tent. The birds were only beginning to sing, and though the music of the birds waking and the river beyond were usually her salve to get her moving, her eyes were so heavy, and her body weighted with exhaustion. Her mind and senses lulled toward sleep by the sound of Ollie’s clear breathing and the song of the birds, so she shut her eyes.

Just for a moment, she told herself. Ollie’s safe. I’ll rest. Just for a moment, she thought and slipped into the rest of the darkness.

“Tarley?”

She stretched her body, uncurling it, and basking in the gloriousness of warmth and rest. Her hand dropped against something unforgiving, her head pressed against a wall. She moaned, disoriented, and grabbed hold of the mound under her quilt trying to figure out what had crawled into bed with her.

“I’ve always enjoyed a good fondling, but I prefer it being reciprocal.”

Tarley’s eyes snapped open at the foreign sound—a man’s voice with just the hint of an accent with which she wasn’t familiar. Skin. That’s what her eyes focused on. Lots of it. An arm. A shoulder. A scruffy jaw in need of a shave as she raised her gaze. Full lips arched with a smile, the bottom slightly fuller though the pronounced arches of the upper. He was grinning, and his eyes—a myriad of colors—were darkened with a ring of deep green at the edges.

Realizing she was flush against him, holding him, Tarley jerked back, scrambling to the opposite side of the ten, only there wasn’t enough room to maneuver. She regretted the quick movement, her body protesting with aches and pains of not enough sleep.

“Ollie. I–” She couldn’t meet his gaze.

“You were asleep.”

Her cheeks heated realizing she’d been holding him in her sleep. Holding onto him the night she’d been trying to save him flashed in her mind reminding her she’d held him before. To save him, she snapped at her inner self.

Her eyes danced across the quilt until she found the bravery to meet his gaze.


Author Bio:

Romance author.

Lover of stories.

Maci Aurora has been writing stories since she was a child. When she was eleven, she fell in love with reading Sunfire Historical Romances about girls who made a difference in their lives and still fell in love. In high school, a friend introduced her to Lavyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught, and from there, her writing journey was cemented in telling stories about love. Having already published many novels (all of which are threaded with romance as upper YA and New Adult titles) under the pen name, CL Walters, Maci Aurora wanted to write stories that offered the same attention to story and characters but with additional steam.

Maci writes in Hawaiʻi where she lives with her husband, their children, and their fur-babies.

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Friday, 18 November 2022

Holy Terror by John R. Dougherty + Guest Post

 

Book Details:

​Book Title:  Holy Terror by John R. Dougherty
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  275 pages
Genre: Supernatural Mystery
Publisher:  Self-Published
Release date:  September 2022
Content Rating:  PG-13 +M - There is very little mild bad language, but there is a lot of somewhat graphic violence depicted.
Book Description:

The Miami police force is utterly baffled by the horrific crime scenes they are finding. The victims are being executed in unimaginable ways, and unlike most crimes perpetrated against humanity, these victims do not fit the usual murder victim profile. These victims are themselves criminals. In fact, some are very well-known criminals. But this scenario is not unique to Miami. Locales worldwide are seeing the same kind of maniacal homicides.

Who is responsible for carrying out these crimes, and how can they be stopped?

Two of Miami PD’s finest, Detectives Ian Jelani and Lane Madigan, are on the prowl, trying to solve these mysterious crimes. But they are being drawn into something far beyond their imaginations, something more than they have ever bargained for. These men may think they have seen it all, but that is quite the understatement. They are on a collision course with the most terrifying vigilante they have ever encountered. When their families become embroiled, the gloves come off, no holds are barred, and the rage of the vigilante spills onto them as well.

The forces of good and evil have waged war since long before Creation. Angels of heaven, both good and evil, have struggled to expand the borders of their kingdoms, and humankind has long been caught in the middle of that raging turf war. Men and women have faced the choices of good and evil since the Garden of Eden, and everyone knows where that original choice landed the rest of us. But humans are not the only ones tempted by the wares of evil. Angels have stared those same choices in the face too. Some have fallen away from the Creator, while some have remained faithful to Him. What of an angel caught betwixt good and evil, an angel who thinks he is serving his Master, but he is actually teetering on the edge of his own fall? What if that angel was the greatest warrior angel of all time, and decided to take it upon himself to rid the Earth of evil people? What might happen to those evil people who are trying to exert their malevolent power and intentions upon their fellow humans if such an angel was to go after them?

In Holy Terror, Thumos, the greatest warrior of the Creator’s angelic army, the fiercest of all heavenly soldiers, has had enough of what he perceives to be a pattern of deference. He decides to take matters into his own hands. But the path he starts down is a path that other angels have traversed before. And many of them have ended up in the camp of the Evil One, the most destructive force the universe has ever known. Thumos comes face to face with Satan himself, and he have even more decisions to make.

My Dream Cast of Actors by John R Dougherty
I am a huge movie buff, and while watching so many choices at home is fantastic, I still enjoy seeing them on the big screen.  Under my “expert tutelage”, my children grew up knowing movie quotes from all sorts of movies, and we always had a lot of fun working movie quotes into life’s everyday situations.  I suppose a dream of many writers is to have their book adapted for the silver screen, and I am no exception to that dream.  In fact, in my head, I have already developed the cast of actors and actresses whom I think would be perfect for the unique characters found in my new book, Holy Terror.
Because of my love of movies though, I truly have always thought about my book cinematically.  When my awesome writing coach & editor, Melody Bussey, first began helping me with my writing, she encouraged to create character profiles, and go so far as to picture the faces of the different characters, so these are some of the actors and actresses that, in my imagination, helped breathe life into the characters on the page.  No doubt, these celebrities will all be chomping at the bit to see this come to fruition .
These are of course not all the characters in my book, but below are the majority of the bigger roles to be filled, should Holy Terror ever make it to the big screen…hey, it could happen!
Alan Ritchson as Thumos: From tough guy Jack Reacher to unstoppable angelic warrior!
Idris Elba as Detective Ian Jelani: Let him go with or without the British accent – either works!
Chris Pratt as Detective Lane Madigan: Fighting the Kree, Thanos, or dinosaurs is a cake walk compared to this!
Jamie Lee Curtis as Captain Julie Franklin: After surviving Michael Myers so often, what a tough cop she could play!
Halle Berry as Dr. Lauren Willis: She has no idea what kind of “storm” she’s getting into!
Brie Larson as Janie Madigan: Captain Marvel can’t get her out of this jam!
Denzel Washington as Yahweh: An outspoken Christian – if Morgan Freeman can play God, so can Denzel!
Henry Cavell as Satan: From Superman to Satan, what a change – but he’s been known to play a bad guy or two in his career!
Kevin Sorbo as Michael the Archangel: Kevin has starred in many Christian movies – can’t you see him as an archangel?
Hugh Jackman as Armada: After some singing and slashing, Hugh could add “angel” to his repertoire!
Michael B. Jordan as Kakos: From Rocky protégé and Black Panther usurper to a super bad angel!
Aaron Paul as Jimmy Whitaker: From cooking meth to cooking up some revenge!
Pedro Pascal as Roberto Valenzuela: There’s not enough Beskar Steel to protect him this time – this is the way!
David Oyelowo as Raphael the Archangel: An archangel with a British accent?  It’ll be awesome!
Mark Wahlberg as Gabriel the Archangel: From Catholic Priest to Archangel – that’s an easy leap for Mark!

Meet the Author:

John has spent his professional career working in information technology by day and dabbling in a variety of other diversions by nights and weekends, including a few decades of serving in lay ministry. While serving in this capacity he preached hundreds of sermons, taught countless Bible study classes, and wrote dozens of inspirational articles.

He enjoys golf, guitars, grandchildren, and all things Kansas City – the Chiefs, the Royals, Sporting KC, KC Symphony, and KC Broadway, to name a few. He thinks (if not for his long-lost metabolism of youth) he could eat the famous Kansas City barbecue every day…maybe not for breakfast, but lunch and dinner for sure!

Now he is enjoying bringing to life his angelic hero, Thumos, and a host of other characters that he hopes you will find both entertaining as well as either inspiring or repulsive (after all, there are both good guys and bad guys in this story). This is the first book of a series, featuring detectives Lane Madigan and Ian Jelani, whose experience with Thumos will yield life changing results. And if you happen to be interested in such things, happy Bible Easter Egg hunting while you read, since many are planted throughout the book.

connect with the author: website ~ twitter facebook ~ instagram 
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Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate; Holidays, Special Occasions and Other Times Our Celebrations Get Out of Hand by Dorothy Rosby

 

Book Details:

Book Title:  ‘Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate; Holidays, Special Occasions and Other Times Our Celebrations Get Out of Hand  by Dorothy Rosby
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+) ,  258 pages
Genre: Humorous Essay
Publisher:  Unhinged Press
Release date:   November 2022
Content Rating:  G - appropriate for general audience as defined above
Book Description:

Christmas comes but once a year; chaos never ends! Happy Halloween, merry Christmas and joyful Lumpy Rug Day. We didn’t make that up. Lumpy Rug Day is celebrated every May 3, though “celebrated” might be too strong a word. It’s the American way to create a celebration for everything, then turn it into a chore or worse, a nightmare. ’Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate is a collection of humorous essays about holidays, special occasions and other times our celebrations make us feel not-so-celebratory. It’s understanding for those who think Christmas form letters can be honest—or they can be interesting. And it’s empathy for anyone who’s ever gotten poison ivy during Nude Recreation Week or eaten all their Halloween candy and had to hand out instant oatmeal packets to their trick-or-treaters. ​
Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ BookBub
add to goodreads

I loved this book so much! It had me giggling - sometimes embarrassingly loudly - throughout and goodness knows we could all do with a good laugh right now. Dorothy Rosby's self-depreciating sense of humour chimed brilliantly well with my own and I really appreciated her less-than-traditional take on the series of seasonal festivals that make up the year. Rosby says out loud what many of us think privately about how ridiculous many of these over-commercialised rituals have become and how exhausting it can be to keep up with expectations. I especially loved her glaringly honest round robin Christmas letter and I wish I had the nerve to actually use one or two of her Valentine's Day rhymes! 

I think Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate would be the perfect book to wrap up as a Secret Santa gift if you know its recipient is equally as underwhelmed by the idea of creating a 'perfect' Christmas / Thanksgiving / Hallowe'en / ... it really is an endless stream of merriment!


Meet the Author:

Dorothy Rosby is a syndicated humor columnist and the author of four books of humorous essays. She’s the 2022 global winner of the Erma Bombeck Writers Competition, sponsored in part by the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. She lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, 20 miles from Mount Rushmore, something she’s very proud of though she’s not on it—yet.

Connect with the Author:  website  ~  twitter  ~  facebook  ~ bookbub ~  goodreads


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