Liars and Thieves, by D. Wallace Peach

Liars and Thieves is the new enthralling release by fellow blogger and prolific author D. Wallace Peach. It’s the first installment in a new trilogy, and today is my stop at the launch tour.

 

Behind the Veil, the hordes gather, eager to savage the world. But Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, is untroubled by the shimmering wall that holds his beasts at bay. For if he cannot cleanse the land of life, the races will do it for him. All he needs is a spark to light the fire.

Three unlikely allies stand in his way.

A misfit elf plagued by failure—

When Elanalue Windthorn abandons her soldiers to hunt a goblin, she strays into forbidden territory.

A changeling who betrays his home—

Talin Raska is a talented liar, thief, and spy. He makes a fatal mistake—he falls for his mark.

A halfbreed goblin with deadly secrets—

Naj’ar is a loner with a talent he doesn’t understand and cannot control, one that threatens all he holds dear.

When the spark of Chaos ignites, miners go missing. But they won’t be the last to vanish. As the cycles of blame whirl through the Borderland, old animosities flare, accusations break bonds, and war looms.

Three outcasts, thrust into an alliance by fate, by oaths, and the churning gears of calamity, must learn the truth. For they hold the future of their world in their hands.

 

Read on to find out more about the author, watch a book trailer and read an interesting tidbit about Naj’ar The Halfbreed Goblin.

 

Let’s start with a Q & A

Q: Naj’s weapon of choice is a glaive. What’s that?

 

A: Originally, I made up a word “tarik” to represent Naj’s goblin weapon. But it was a glaive (sort of), so why not call it a glaive. Duh?

Image credit Pixabay

A glaive is a pole with a long, curved blade on one end, so it has a longer cutting reach than a sword. The goblin version of the weapon is bladed on both ends. It can be used like a scimitar, a quarterstaff, or spear, but is designed for sweeping cuts.

There’s some argument among weapon’s experts that holding two weapons is probably more realistic and flexible, but Naj’ar is quite skilled with his double-bladed glaive. His mate had it made for him, and he’s quite attached to it.

*

Liars and Thieves Global Purchase Link: http://a-fwd.com/as

in=B08FGQ2W3Q

 

About the author:

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Author Links:

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982

Twitter: @dwallacepeach

Morning Tribute

My love,

 

Since the day we were introduced,

You’ve never been far.

Through laughter and tears,

The bad and the good,

You were there by my side.

My love,

There hasn’t been a day,

When you weren’t within reach,

Always giving me a boost.

You run in my veins,

Your fragrance on my skin,

Your taste on my tongue.

I can honestly say I need you every morning,

And afternoons and evenings too.

No cream, no sugar,

I like my coffee freshly brewed.

Image source https://mewallpaper.com/1778-coffee-love-coffee-beans-hd-image-free-wallpaper?

Against All Odds (Crossroads 03) by Jacqui Murray

 

Against All Odds is the third and last installment in the Crossroads trilogy, Jacqui Murray’s pre-historic fiction.

You might remember when I posted about the first book, Survival of the Fittest, or the second, The Quest for Home – if not, check them out, you wouldn’t want to miss them! I’m amazed at the depth Jacqui Murray went with her research to get this story out. Kudos!

 

Let’s start with a trailer:

Xhosa’s extraordinary prehistoric saga concludes, filled with hardship, courage, survival, and family.

Cover

A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.

The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of her search for freedom, safety, and a new home.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Available digitally (print soon) at: 

Kindle US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08C9KLP56

Kindle UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08C9KLP56

Kindle CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08C9KLP56

Kindle AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08C9KLP56

Jacqui Murray pic

Author Bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Winter 2021.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

 

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The foothills of the Pyrenees

They came out of the mountains, hair frozen in sparkling strands, hands and feet wrapped in shredded pelts, ribs etched against their skin under ragged hides white with snow, faces haggard with fatigue. Blood crusted scrapes and gashes, many recent, others almost healed, reminders of the violent struggles endured on their journey.

Though their steps flagged, not one of these upright creatures exhibited a hint of defeat. All males and a few females carried at least one spear, some two, many with warclubs strapped to their backs. Despite the anxiety and fear of entering this foreign land, hope energized them today, that their migration might be at an end.

All of them—Xhosa and her tribe, Pan-do and his, Wind, Zvi, and Seeker—had been chased from their homes by enemies. In their flight, they found each other. It took time to work through their differences but now they traveled side by side, respected ideas not theirs, and called themselves the People.

Their charismatic Leaders—Xhosa, Wind, and Pan-do—were known as reliable friends to those who earned their trust and dangerous enemies to those who opposed them. Two wolves—Spirit and Black Wolf—journeyed with them. Though the People lacked the animals’ sharp claws, dense fur, and piercing teeth, each considered the other “pack” and would defend them to death.

The exhausted group straggled down the gently sloping flank, feet shuffling carefully over the slippery scree. The ground changed from talus to stunted tufts of grass, sparse and brown which made walking easier. Optimism shone from their faces even as their tired eyes flicked side to side in search of unexpected movement, ears strained for out-of-place noises, and noses sniffed.

Rather than continue across the meadow, Xhosa led the People into the shade of the edging forest.

“Do you smell it, Wind?” Anticipation filled her gestures.

She and Wind, pairmates as well as Co-Leaders, stood quietly, absorbing their surroundings. Light filtered lazily through the canopy, the shadowed ground dappled with patches of warmth. She sniffed in the essence of wet earth and rotting leaves, the mustiness of moss, and something else much more enticing.

“It’s there.” She pointed and strode forward, lengthening her stride.

An icy gust whipped down the hillside through the shadows and raised bumps on her arms but she ignored it. The forest gave way to open sky and searing heat. It was too hot for her thin pelt but she didn’t stop to remove it. Green stalks swayed as far as she could see, edged on one side by more mountains and the other by some sort of leaves and branches. Sunlight glinted off the rippled surface of a distant river as it curled over the terrain.

“Dung!” The scent overpowered every other odor.

Wind huffed to her side. “It’s been a long time since we smelled dung that wasn’t frozen.”

“We did it, Wind.” Her eyes glistened with relief.

For most of a Moon, dread gnawed at her courage and left her wondering if following the guidance of Seeker—a boy barely a man—was a mistake. But Seeker assured her in his ebullient way that once out of the hills, their new homebase would welcome them. Xhosa wanted to believe him because she wasn’t sure what else to do. Nor did she know what to do if it didn’t work.

Wind motioned, arms inclusive, “It’s beautiful, Xhosa.”

Siri, Pan-do, Ngili, the wolves Spirit and Black Wolf, and the rest of the People gathered around Xhosa and Wind, eyes locked on what lay in front of them.

Pan-do whispered, “We made it.” His eyes were moist, mouth open.

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, hands close to his body. “With all this grass, Gazelle or Mammoth must be nearby.”

Dust, the Lead Scout, trotted up, coming from a tall cliff far ahead on their forward path. “I think there are caves there.”

The People hadn’t slept in a cave since leaving Viper and the Mountain Dwellers. It would be a treat if true.

Xhosa looked behind. Shadows already stretched as far from the bottom of the rocky slopes as sunlight to the top. Daylight would soon end.

“We don’t have much time. Let’s rest and then see if those are caves.”

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, fingers spaced out, palms up, “I’ll go with Dust to check.” He added a swift spread-fingered swipe with first one hand and then the other, followed by a quick bob of his head and a puff.

Xhosa brushed both hands down her sides. Go.

The People spoke with a complex combination of hand motions, facial expressions, body movements, and sounds augmented with chirrups, snaps, hisses, and whistles. By the time Ngili finished talking, Xhosa knew how many would join him, where they would go, and how long they’d be away. The People’s communication was sophisticated but quiet, a precaution especially in unfamiliar areas. Unusual sounds—voices, for example—stood out. All animals made noises but few as varied as the People’s. Why alert Others who lived here to their presence? Xhosa would do that in her own time, in her own way.

Dust, Ngili, and two scouts soon receded into the landscape, the only evidence of their passage a slight disturbance in the slender waving stalks. Despite the dung scents, the abundant plant food, and the glisten of a faraway river, Xhosa crossed her arms over her chest and paced.

Something is wrong.

She searched the forests and the rippling field that had swallowed up Dust and Ngili . Xhosa possessed the ability to see great distances in sufficient detail to find trails, footprints, movement, or the glitter of sun off eyes.

She saw none of those and that made her more uncomfortable.

With this wealth of food and water, Others should be here.

Wind motioned, palms flattened against his chest, “The mountains we crossed touched Sun. They’re cold and barren. Few can do what we did to get here, Xhosa. We are safe.”

Xhosa could hear in his voice, see in his gestures, that despite his bravado, Wind too felt uneasy about what they didn’t see and hear.

But she grinned. “I don’t know how I survived without someone being able to read my thoughts.”

She trotted over to a stream that fed into the river she had noticed. She stretched out on her belly, flat on the soft grass at the water’s edge, and took a long, satisfying drink of the sweet liquid. Thirst quenched, she collected handfuls of the tender shoots of new plants growing along the shore, ate what she wanted and tossed the rest into a communal food pile that would be shared with all the People. It was already filling up with fat fish speared from the slow-moving pools beside the river, tasty reeds and cattails, and even a handful of eggs plucked from nests not hidden well enough along the shore and in the roots of trees. The wolves snapped birds from the air and swallowed them almost whole, coughing up feathers.

Xhosa leaned back on her hands, sniffing the unique fragrance of each groupmember. Zvi was sweaty from wrestling with Spirit. Siri smelled sourly of hunger but she wouldn’t eat until Honey’s bleeding foot was wrapped in mulch and leaves. The females with new babies exuded the pleasant aroma of milk. Some scents jumbled together making them impossible to identify. When Xhosa became Leader of the People, before it merged with Pan-do’s and Hawk’s, the People had been small enough that she could recognize everyone by their odor. Now, she kept track of her tribe while Pan-do did the same with his. Wind helped everyone.

Done eating, the People sprawled on the warm ground, soaking up Sun’s remaining rays, chatting contentedly with gestures and the occasional sigh. Water dripped from their thawing bodies, soaking into the thirsty ground, as the remaining ice and snow on their pelts and in their hair melted away.

Xhosa and Wind sat apart from the others, on a log long ago softened by rot. She uprooted handfuls of grass and wiped the sweat from Wind’s body, as he did hers. The soft scratch felt good and the earthy fragrance reminded her of times long gone. When he finished, she harvested chunks of green moss from the log’s decaying bark and stuffed them into her neck sack. All the People wore one of these around their necks. Even the wolves did when they were migrating.

Finished, she leaned against Wind and closed her eyes. In a group of Others, her pairmate stood out. A Big Head, the People’s traditional enemy, the ones who drove Xhosa and her tribe from their long-established home, Wind had earned Xhosa’s trust by saving her life more than once and then, as a member of her People, sharing Big Head spear tricks and warrior skills with her Leads. Before long, each of them individually told her that thanks to Wind they could now defeat an attack which they couldn’t have done in the past. Whatever distrust her People harbored toward him faded away.

“Xhosa!” Dust panted up to her. “I found a cave. And we found trace of a herd. Ngili is tracking it.”

By the time Sun settled into its night nest, the People were ensconced in the cave Dust found. They had to squeeze together to fit but all were thrilled to sleep without waking to frozen toes and numb fingers. Stone and Zvi—the burliest of the People—lugged rocks in and Siri built a fire that quickly warmed the interior. The subadults gathered kindling to feed it and arranged who would be responsible throughout the night for keeping it lit.

Usually, the wolves slept scattered among the People but with Black Wolf close to delivering her pups, she dug out an opening in the back and claimed it as her den. Then she settled to her belly, one leg forward, the other bent back, eyebrows twitching.

Xhosa strode toward the nest she would share with Wind but stopped at the sight of Seeker, weight on his bottom, legs crossed in front of his body in the uncomfortable position he preferred. His pairmate Lyta curled next to him with their best friend, Zvi.

Xhosa approached Seeker. “You are not outside.”

Every night as long as Xhosa could remember, the enigmatic male lay on his back, gaze fixed steadily on the star-dotted sky, spouting what to Xhosa sounded like gibberish to whoever listened. Intermittently, he leapt to his feet and spun dizzying circles or bounced from one foot to the other, huffing and chirping. Lyta and Zvi would either join him or watch. He once explained to Xhosa that this was how he studied the changes in the night sky—the appearance and disappearance of particular stars or their movement in relation to each other—so he could guide the People accurately. This nightly process was how they had moved from the distant start of Endless Pond to this cave where Endless Pond seemed to end.

He didn’t respond to her statement, didn’t even acknowledge her. That worried Xhosa. She hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that danger lurked around them, somewhere. Seeker’s anxious look didn’t help.

She squatted at his side and added a question to her declaration. “The stars aren’t talking to you?”

To the side, Lyta wriggled, not comfortable in the seated position Seeker preferred but determined to try because Seeker liked it so much. Zvi crouched on the balls of her feet, the more traditional pose. She’d tried to sit on her bottom, legs crossed in front, but kept falling backward. Besides, it took her too long to rise from that position which meant if Lyta needed help, she couldn’t respond quickly. Squatting, for her, made more sense. Seeker didn’t care. He expected all to do what worked for them. Both his best friend and his future pairmate were long accustomed to his eccentricities.

Finally, Seeker offered Xhosa only a confused frown.

That’s not a “Yes they are,” and that raised the hair on her neck. Before she could ask more, Ngili scrambled through the thistle barrier the youngsters had placed around the cave’s mouth to prevent the entrance of intruders and hurried toward Xhosa.

He motioned, “I lost the herd’s trace in the dark. I’ll try again tomorrow,” and then raced toward where the hunters had gathered. They were all tired. Some would mate before sleeping but not Ngili. He hadn’t given up hope that his pairmate, Hecate, would come back.

After a final glance at Seeker, Xhosa joined Wind in their nest. She squatted behind him and teased the dirt and debris from his long head hair, occasionally focusing on a difficult tangle until her fingers could move easily through his hair. When she finished, he did the same for her.

As he groomed, he said, “I’ll join Ngili tomorrow. If there are herds, we will find them.”

“Pan-do and I will continue with the People.”

They said nothing more, both enjoying the calming feel of nails scratching on their skin and the intimacy of someone they trusted implicitly. Done, both fell asleep.

The first rays of daylight filtered into the cave. Black Wolf was already outside, padding back and forth restlessly, huffing uncomfortably. Wind left with Ngili and a handful of scouts, knowing Xhosa would leave a trail to wherever they settled when Sun’s light ran out. Though Spirit usually went with the hunters, today he stayed with Black Wolf.

Xhosa and Pan-do led. Dust copied their pace and direction but a distance away. With Ngili and Wind searching for meat, Xhosa focused on finding a cave large enough for the People. They strode onward, gaze sweeping the landscape, everyone grazing on berries, roots, and worms as they walked. Sporadically, Xhosa heard a faraway squawk or glimpsed a covey of birds as they exploded into flight, fleeing an unknown threat. It was the direction Ngili and Wind had gone, and told her how far they’d gotten.

The People rested by a waterhole. They searched its shoreline for prints but found none. Wherever the herds lived, they didn’t drink here so the People moved on, through copses of young saplings and around a bed of haphazardly-strewn boulders. The air tasted of flowers, warm earth, and the mild tang of salt, but the dung they found was hard and old.

Xhosa touched Pan-do’s hand and both stopped, eyes forward. “Do you smell that? It reminds me of Endless Pond.”

He pointed to his strong side and the direction they were walking. “From there and there. How can it be on two sides?”

Xhosa tingled. One of her People—Rainbow—had abandoned them long ago, taking many males and females with him. Others she and her People ran into while migrating here told her Rainbow traveled the same route she did but along the opposite shore of Endless Pond. For him, as for her, this was as far as he could go without folding back on himself.

If they got this far. If any survived.

She pushed aside those thoughts. Before searching for whatever remnants remained of Rainbow’s group, the People must find a homebase. All they suffered to get here—the interminable walking, the loss of Hawk, the death of groupmembers, Nightshade’s treachery—was for naught if they didn’t establish a home.

Spirit bumped her leg. Black Wolf panted at her mate’s side, her belly almost touching the ground.

Xhosa motioned, “Your mate’s pups won’t wait much longer. We will find a den for her.”

Spirit took off, his movements graceful and fluid with Black Wolf lumbering after him.

Not much later, Pan-do squinted ahead. “I think Spirit found a cave.”

Xhosa leaned forward, narrowing her gaze, and finally saw where Spirit stopped. He sat on his haunches at the base of a cliff, facing her, nose twitching, tail swishing the dirt behind him.

It took the rest of the day to cross over the craggy scrubland, up and down the deep ravines, and around the occasional spot of slippery ice. The cave proved too small for the People but not for Black Wolf’s needs. With much scuffling and panting, she created a nest for her pups and disappeared into the cool dark hole. The People settled outside, under an overhang that would protect them from rain and predators, and far enough away to not bother the new mother. As soon as Ngili and Wind arrived, shaking their heads that they hadn’t found a herd, they left again to search for signs of a trail left by former inhabitants of this cave.

Xhosa’s chest squeezed and her stomach knotted. Spirit padded up to her side, hackles puffed, nostrils flaring. He agreed. Something about this area made her tingle but for now, until Black Wolf finished, they must stay.

Hiding Cracked Glass – James J. Cudney

I’m revealing today a new release coming soon by author James J. Cudney. Some of you have seen my reviews of his amazing books here, some of you are already a fan of his writing and his blog.

So, first, let me introduce you: Hiding Cracked Glass is the highly anticipated sequel for Watching Glass Shatter, which is James Cudney’s debut novel, a highly recommended family drama (if you haven’t read it, go ahead and check it out, it’s an amazing read!)

Here’s a little something about the book:

Hiding Cracked Glass, a contemporary fiction family drama, is the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter and part of the Perceptions of Glass series.

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

 

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

 

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

 

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved. 

***

Hiding Cracked Glass will be available for pre-sale very soon. It will officially be published on October 8th, 2020, which is the three year anniversary of Watching Glass Shatter,

 

About the Author

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I began working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment, media, retail, and hospitality industries. Although I enjoy my job, I also want to re-focus on my passions: telling stories and connecting people through words.

In 2017, I published my debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor, and romance. From there, I wrote another family drama novel, Father Figure, and created the Braxton Campus Mysteries, a light investigation series about a humorous guy dealing with murders and the drama of a small town. I am currently writing a sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, a co-authored book with a surprise writer, and the next Braxton Campus Mystery, all set to be released in late 2020 and early 2021.

Most of my books are available in hardcover, paperback, electronic, and audiobook formats. We’ve begun translating into Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian for some of the books too. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com.

Outside of writing, I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 1,000 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I share several fun features, including the Book Bucket List, Tips & Advice, Author Spotlights & Book Alerts, and the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. You’ll find tons of humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers… where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Baxter, a two-year-old shiba inu, constantly tries to stop me from writing so I can play with him and keep him amused. How else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

 

*Comments here are closed, but if you’d like to know more about this amazing writer and his books, reach out to him:

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub:https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

All of James Cudney’s books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

It’s mind control, only subtler

 

Have you ever finished a book and said, “That was good,” only to read what others thought , realize the book wasn’t that good, and instead of giving the book a 5 star, you give it a 4, or maybe a 4.5? Or have you ever finished a book, didn’t care much for it, then read some reviews that pointed out great plot points that you hadn’t considered, and instead of the 3, you gave it 4 stars?

Let me confess something: I don’t read reviews of books I intend to read soon (soon, because I have a short memory span), and I don’t read reviews before I write my own, because reviews influence the way I think. For example, if I read the review of a book on my soon tbr and the review says, that character was annoying because she did “this” or “that”, I’ll be on the lookout for “this” and “that”. What I mean is that I’ll be influenced by that review, looking for the points he/she made,, and in many cases, overshadowing the conclusions I may have drawn if I didn’t read that review.

Of course, if people are raving about a book that hadn’t made into my radar, I’m bound to read the reviews. And what happens then? I usually find myself disappointed. One such example was “Crazy Rich Asians”. When I first read a review of the book, the reviewer raved about how funny, hilarious, and how she laughed out loud all throughout the book. And then another blogger mentioned how funny the book was. And then another. So I picked up the book. And, if I were to rate it for how funny the book was, I’d have given it a 2. The book, in my opinion, was not funny. Why? Because mostly it highlighted the way rich people belittled those from other (lower) classes, and their prejudice against them. I found most of the characters shallow. But the book was good, and the author did a good job by keeping the mood light, considering the topics it covered. (If you read that book and found it hilarious, are you wondering if you overlooked all the discrimination? Or, are you feeling guilty that you laughed when there was so much prejudice?)

So now you’re thinking, but you said you didn’t read reviews.

I’d rather not, but to each rule there are exceptions, and the same holds true for me.

Times that I do read book reviews:

1- If I’m on the fence about a book, I might read a review or two to help me decide if I want to read it.

2- If it’s a book I never heard about and it caught my curiosity, I might read a review before I add it to my tbr.

3- If the person who wrote the review is someone whose reading taste I’m familiar with.

4- If it’s a book I’ve dnfed.

5- If it’s a book I don’t plan to read – or can’t afford or find.

6- And, of course, if it’s a book I’ve already read.

Disclaimer: I have no idea what this image is, only that it was tagged as “library” and “mystic”

Before I became an author, reviews held little value to me. If I enjoyed a book, I’d rave it to the people I knew, or discuss it with others who read it. I rarely wrote my opinion down and posted it   somewhere for people to see. But I understand the value of reviews, both for authors and potential readers, and while  I’ll hold to not reading reviews – save for the exceptions above – I do write them upon occasion, and do enjoy engaging in discussions when I see the review of a particular book I enjoyed, or disliked, or dnfed, or plan to read one day.

Have you ever heard the quote: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” By Marcus Cicero?

I’ve discovered that in the publishing world, a book without reviews is a book without much value. And that’s just sad.

What about you? How much value do you put on a book based on the reviews?

Author Interview: Jina S. Bazzar

Peeps, I’m over at Biyai from RovingBookwormNG for an interview. Come and check it out! And readers, poets, travel lovers, take a look around, Biyai has an interesting blog.

***

What one thing will you give up to become a better writer?

Jina: Now that’s a hard question. Let me see – my free time, I suppose, could be a fair exchange.

Come and read all ten questions: https://rovingbookwormng.com/2020/04/30/author-interview-jina-s-bazzar/

Broken Heart Attack – Review

I read this one a couple months ago, but with the way life is going lately, I kept *cough* putting writing the review off. Yes, I’m a horrible person! In my defense, I’d find myself thinking about what I wanted to write for the review at odd times – while doing the dishes/cleaning, cooking, taking a shower. But whenever I was done and seated in front of my laptop, something always came up. And so *wince( two months went by.

Well, here’s what I thought:

My review:

Another great read! James J. Cudney is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.

He knows how to build a plot and make it complex to the point where the reader is wondering how the heck things are going to tie at the end.

Kellan has so much going on in this book, I felt sorry for him. Between his Nana, another murder, his job, the sheriff, and ghosts from the past, I wanted to reach out and give him a hug. Poor thing!

But the marathon kept me engaged, annoyed every time I had to stop reading to check on something.

As usual, there are the funny moments balanced in with the more serious ones, mostly with Kellan trying to keep his Nana out of trouble – and waking with a hangover later. But just when you think the old lady is cruel, she makes up for it.

I don’t find myself reading many murder mysteries, but this one’s got a touch of everything, intrigue, humor, compassion, some detective work – to name but a few.

I enjoyed this read as much as the other books I read by this author, but this time, with the character growth and the hints of things to come, I was left with some book hangover of my own!

I can’t wait to pick up the next book and see what other mess life has in store for Kellan!

Lovers of cozy mysteries with some sleuthing and humor, this one is for you!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/41569778

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Heart-Attack-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07KGGJX1T

Heir of Fury – Excerpt + E-ARCs

The difference between writing a series and a standalone, for me, is the attachment the author feels with their fictional characters. Not that authors don’t get attached with a character if it’s a standalone, but when you work, year after year after year with the same set of MCs, the bond feels stronger.

Today I want to say that my trilogy, The Roxanne Fosch Files is finally done. All three books + a short novella has been written, and the final chapter in Roxanne’s story told. It’s sad and exhilarating at once.

Below is a brief excerpt – that I feel fits perfectly with the current event around the globe – I edited out some of the spoilers to make this excerpt as spoiler-free as possible, but  maybe parts of it would spoil something from book 2.

Note: I’ll be looking for some reviews to help launch the book. If you’d like a copy for review purposes, contact me at jina.salameh1@gmail.com If you would like to help in some way, let me know, we can work something out.

High up on the observatory deck of the Empire State, I leaned against the railing and watched the city. The fierce wind stung my eyes, whipped my hair free, and ruffled my wings. I spread them wider, leaned harder against the rail. From up here, I couldn’t make the sound of the traffic below, or smell the traffic plume. There was nothing but the sound of the wind beating at me from all sides, choking me with fresh air.

For a long time, I stood and watched the blinking lights, hoping to mute my thoughts–and failing. Dawn would come soon. And for all that happened during these past days, Dorka, Wallace and Brooks; Vicky; Zantry and me; Roland’s break down; Dathana… one thing kept coming back to haunt me: Remo was ready to move. “Time’s drawn near, Poppet. Everything is set into motion. The portal is too active, my kin are impatient. Get those vessels to me.” His words played in my head over and over, like the lyric to a song that wouldn’t go away. I’d known he was getting close to achieving his goal, but God. I placed a hand over my jittery stomach, over that cold, roiling mess. What had I done?

From the observatory deck of the Empire State, I could almost see it, the end as it may come. Just the lights and the wind left, the clouds and the night. And then I looked down, at all the miniature life still coming and going, focused at those tiny lights blinking on and off in distant windows. And I wondered, not for the first time, what would happen to all the noise, all the people, all those lights, once Remo made his final move? Would a war ensue, destroy everyone and everything? Would the fact the world was unprepared for Remo result in minimal opposition?

I had never, in my wildest dreams considered I’d be well and alive when the end of the world came. I always assumed it’d happen in a far, far away future, at a time my bones were nothing but old dust. I never had reason to fear it, because I was certain I’d never be there.

But here I was, at the cusp of the end, helping the world to break.

I wondered, had things happened differently, would someone, some preternatural group, have found a way to get rid of Remo before he could have gotten this far?

I was the trigger in Remo’s coup, the big surprise at the end of his game. I should have let the guardians of the leeway kill me that first time. My death would have put so many holes in Remo’s plan, eventually, it’d have broken apart, or he’d have to adjust–and add decades, if not centuries, to achieve it. So many times I’d come near death, so many times all I needed was to give up. Hell, if I died now, I’d be giving a fighting chance to those trying to stop him. So why not help everyone? Did I know how to give up? Death, for me, had never been a choice to make, but an enemy to fight. But was my life, after all I’d done, and compared to all that was to come, something worth fighting for?

***

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084JKW6JX?notRedirectToSDP=1&

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44450681-heir-of-fury

 

 

Three More Great Books

Made a killing by Zach Abrams

 

Gritty, dark and enticing.

This is not my usual cup of tea, or coffee, but sometimes when I’m in the mood for change, I head off to the mystery/suspense area. Sometimes, I pick up a police/detective book.

This one was a mystery / crime and police procedural read with a touch of humor and the required guess-who-did-it kind of book, and it was done exceptionally well.

The story opens up with a murder investigation – with the dead being the bad guy, killed with an antique elephant tusk. So yes, the bad guy is dead, and from the beginning, we’re wondering if the good guy will turn out to be the murderer.

The story line was gritty, sometimes a little dark, covering heavy topics such as blackmail, prostitution, detailed murder crimes and gore – real stuff real police see a lot in real life; sprinkled every now and then with a romance trying to bud (emphasis on trying) some office humor and family bonding.

I enjoyed the dynamics between the investigative team and the way they were thorough and methodical with the evidence gathering, how things didn’t ‘conveniently’ fall on their laps and make life easier for everyone.

I did have a suspicion halfway through about the killer – I knew the killer would be someone I wasn’t expecting, and I was right, but the killer? I was still surprised.

All in all, it was a great read!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/31197758

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Made-Killing-Warren-Murder-Mysteries/dp/1535485825

Cause and Effect by Pete Adams

 

Detective Jack, aka Jane, is a character full of sass and witty comebacks. He’s also a magnet to disaster, the kind of guy who’s always meeting an accident or another.

He’s also a kind, humorous widow with a big heart and a teenager’s attitude.

The topics covered in this book are hard, dramatic and heavy  (not for the faint hearted) – going as far as child abuse.

Detective Jack is determined to get to the bottom of his cases, and he doesn’t care who he’ll have to cross to get there.

Along the way we have some romance, which was a nice addition and somewhat a mood lifter from all the darker aspects of the story.

The writing style is unique and it took me a few chapters to get used to it, but once in, my cynic heart was amused. There are a lot of references to Mary Poppins and other classics, mostly used to humor some other character.

All in all it was a complex, great book. I recommend it to those who enjoy witticism, sarcasm, and heavy and hard British detective work.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46653932-cause-and-effect

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cause-Effect-Plagues-Hearts-Martinets-ebook/dp/B07R7KDZHL

Sea Scope by Debbie de Louise

 

A compelling psychological thriller.

Every now and then I like to delve into a good mystery/thriller. Sea scope is a psychological thriller, the kind of book that gives one pause and makes one wonder how the mind works.

The book oscillates between present time and two decades earlier, slowly bringing the reader up to date with events that caused a business to close, a family to break, a girl to become mentally unstable, and the reasons behind it all. And they’re all connected to a murder that was ruled then as a suicide. The question throughout the book is whether Michael committed suicide – with all the bright opportunities he had ahead of him – or whether he was killed. However, all the suspects on that day had an alibi, and all seemed to actually like the guy. So which was it?

Alternating in between present and past are notes about lighthouses, real facts with references – a boost of information for the reader to store.

At first I was sure about what happened to Michael, but the author kept throwing new hints here and there, enough to shadow the truth and keep me guessing.

And then, about midway through, I was sure I knew what happened. And yeah, I thought, no surprises here, but I couldn’t see the motive and how it happened so I went on, sure of my assumption.

I was wrong. So wrong, when the twist at the end came, I was left gaping.

The writing is suspenseful throughout the entire book, both in the present and in the past, with first person pov in the present and third in the past, and the distinction was done exceptionally well.

Have you ever had something happen to you as a kid, build your beliefs upon that event, only to realize as a grownup there were other sides to that story?

This was a great book with a great twist. I recommend it!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44445977-sea-scope

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sea-Scope-Psychological-Debbie-Louise-ebook/dp/B07PPW1D41

***

That’s it for now. Ever read any of the above, or did any entice you?

Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney Book Review

 

This was a fun, non-stop intriguing book. Kellan is like a dog with a bone – determined and persistent, and he won’t let go no matter how many times people tell him to.

When a body is found on campus –the same person he travelled to meet – Kellan is pulled into a tangle of who-did-it; with a lot of sarcasm, suspects, and plenty of murderous reasons to go around.

I honestly had no idea how all the threads would tie at the end, there were so many murderer candidates, I was, like Kellan, trying to figure out who-did-it too. And the real killer? (Not telling you!) But it was definitely none of the various people I’d considered.

I enjoyed the brief glimpses of Kellan as a father, his interaction with his Nana (and boy was she scary and fun), and the dry humor that was thrown around. The mystery of the murder was done exceptionally well, with all the threads tied perfectly at the end. And the killer? Oh, I was so not suspecting that particular character! And once the murderer was revealed, I had one of those ah!-of-course moment.

The tone of the book is light throughout most of the way, humorous and mysterious, with a simple writing style. It’s the kind of writing and storytelling one can’t have enough. My second book by this author, I can definitely say it won’t be the last.

Expect the review of the next book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series, Broken Heart Attack, coming soon!

Blurb:

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

 

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

 

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. And if that wasn’t enough already, his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

 

In the debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Series, you’ll discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents.

Add to your Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/41564460

Or get a copy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Academic-Curveball-Braxton-Campus-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07HMYSQFH

Note: While I was searching for the link on amazon, I discovered the book is out on promo for FREE!