Four Amazing Reads!

These are four of the books I read this month that I just couldn’t help but share here.

Come check them out!

Note: All images here were taken from Goodreads.

Wicked Bleu by E. Denise Billups

This is a story about love, murder, jealousy, friendship, among other themes, all mixed and woven into a complex storytelling.

Author E. Denise Billups has a unique writing style that captivates and fascinates. There hasn’t been a book by this author that I haven’t enjoyed.

Simone’s compassionate and kind, a tough lady, and she’s protective of her friends. Her abilities to see ghosts might be new, but she goes into things with an open mind. For that, she wants to puzzle out a 100 year old murder to give a ghost the peace she lacked in life.

I enjoyed watching the budding romance between Simone and Mitchell, the support among her friends, and unraveling the murder mystery alongside Simone.

This is the second book in this series and   as great as the first one. Although I’d recommend reading them in order, you don’t have to.

Highly recommended!

The Necromancer’s Daughter by D. Wallace Peach

D. Wallace Peach has a writing style’ that’s always fascinated me. It’s vivid and it’s captivating, and this book is no different.

I came into the story expecting a wonderful read, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The world building is fantastic, and so are the characters.

You can’t help but feel for Aster, for the hand she was dealt and the quest she’s facing, and even fall a little in love with Barus. I enjoyed the tension between Aster and Joreh, and watching the romance subtly evolving, not taking over the plot.

And the dragons…. It’s such a plus in this story, making it richer. My only wish was that we saw more of them.

I didn’t want the book to end, but couldn’t help but devour the pages, wanting to know more and soon, too soon, I was  reading the last scene.

If you enjoy tales of compassion, of evil vs. good, of impossible odds – and of course, fairy tale retellings, this book is for you!

Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J. Cudney

I’ve had this book for a long while, and for no particular reason, just kept putting it off for later. But then I picked it up and just couldn’t put it down. The pages kept flipping, and before I knew it, I was turning the last page. It helped that this wasn’t a very long book, so I was only up until 1 in the morning.

Intrigue, mystery, humor, and a touch of romance make this a great read.

Kellan is sleuthing again, but this time, he may be in way over his head.

Another murder and an old, unsolved case has Kellan searching for clues. I was almost sure I had things figured out, but ouch, that twist – I didn’t see it coming!

And then we have the mystery of his supposedly dead wife, the mob and their rivalry, and in this fourth instalment, things are finally revealed.

If you haven’t yet read any of this author’s books, you have no idea how much you’re missing out!

Highly recommended!

PS: Nana D is still my favorite. Go, Nana D!

Bloodstone by M.J. Mallon

This is my first book by this author, and what an amazing surprise it was!

Bloodstone follows the story of Amelina, a 15 year old girl with a complex life, a dysfunctional family, and a curse.

From the beginning, I was caught by the steady, descriptive flow of the words. There’s poetry at the start of the chapters, adding charm and imagery to the scenes.

There’s a bit of everything in this book – teenage angst, romance, magical pets, friendship, broken relationships, as well as some scenes verging into the darker side of depression.

Some things were resolved in this book, but not all, leaving the reader satisfied, yet wanting more.

I highly recommend!

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Publication day!

I’m excited to announce that today is the release day for Shadow Pawn, the sequel to Shadow Walker.

To celebrate, I’ve discounted the 1st book, Shadow Walker, for $1.99 for ebook, and $10.99 for paperback.

Come check it out!

book cover for Shadow Pawn. Image includes two people back to back in a fighting stance.

The Road to Publishing

While it’s true that the path of writing is a solitary one, getting published isn’t. In fact, there isn’t an author out there who wouldn’t agree with the fact that publishing a book is the work of a team.

While I’d been absent from the blogosphere for most of this year and the last, I spent all my time (the free ones) up in a tree, enjoying the moonlight.

Cat in a tree at night – according to Pixabay.

I mean, in my dreams. In my waking hours (though I might or not have been lucid because I can’t remember how the time passed by), I wrote an upcoming trilogy, which I’ll be posting about in the following weeks.

For today, I wanted to take the time to thank some of the authors who’ve helped and supported me in my latest endeavor.

Author Tyler Colins, for reading my books and for the proofread – but especially for being a good friend. I treasure all the back and forth emails we share. You’re an amazing person, an amazing writer, and an amazing editor.

Thank you. I did sniff back some tears of despair when you told me “house” should be in upper case, but I gritted my teeth and went back through book 1 and book 2, and capitalized all 500+ “house”. And yes, I went over one by one because not all the “houses” in the story belonged to a house of power. But hey, I survived.

Author E. Denise Billups. Thank you for always being there whenever I despair about the layout format. Your help is the reason my books are well-formatted, and I appreciate you always taking the time to reply to my emails, format my books – which sometimes you do more than once because I keep messing it up – and for always replying to my rants. And most of all, thanks for being my friend for the past five years.

I promise I’m learning the war strategy for layout format, and hopefully, one day, you’ll tell me that I’ve done it right. My fingers are crossed. Hopefully, they won’t get stuck like that.

The bug that eats star ratings

I’ve lost a third of my ratings on Goodreads overnight. According to Goodreads customer services, they’re experiencing a bug. It’s got full priority, but they have no idea when it’ll be fixed. Meanwhile, I’ve dropped from 4.41 average rating to a 4.09 – because most ratings that disappeared were 5 and 4 star ratings.

It’s Disheartening.

Image source Pixabay

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

 

 

We don’t forget our first

No matter good or bad, we never forget our first.

Today I’m here to share two first reads for me – plus a Friday 13th bonus.

 

Let’s start with non-fiction:

Fishnets in the Far East – Michele E. Northwood

Now this one is a resounding first. It’s a memoir! That’s right, I’m reading non-fiction!

Though I’ll admit the antics this author’s suffered in the hands of Korean chauvinistic men would make an excellent movie. It’s almost like fiction, the drama, misadventures, the humor – they all boil down to a fantastic, somewhat frightful, six months in Korea. I could never tell if the next scene would grip me with tension or laughter.

 

“Here,” said Louise throwing me an empty coffee jar, “Trap it under there, then we can slide some paper underneath it and throw it out of the window.” After a couple of failed attempts – because I lost my nerve whenever it moved – it was finally trapped inside the upturned coffee jar. I then began the process of sliding a folded piece of paper underneath. I was hoping that the cockroach would facilitate the procedure and oblige by stepping onto the stationary, but this one had other ideas. “Oh My God! It’s eating the paper!” I screamed. Sure enough a sizeable chunk had gone from the folded piece of stationary and we could actually hear it munching! This made the thought of actually picking it up decidedly more daunting! “I vote that we just leave it where it is for now!” I said. “We can think about moving it later!” It was unanimously agreed that the cockroach was going nowhere, so we kept it in our room, under the coffee jar and named him Clive. Even the cleaners seemed to respect his position on the carpet and hovered carefully around him. Maybe they thought that Europeans were decidedly weird to want to keep a cockroach as a pet, but they played along.”

Neither of the three dancers – Michele and her two mates, spoke Korean, or were savvy enough to deal with the rudeness, forwardness, and all the declarations of love they received, but they learned, as the saying goes, by the seats of their pants.

I’m impressed Michele didn’t break down and run back home. No, despite all the mistreatment she and her group endured, they went on, auditioning for the next dance, and the next and the next, enduring all the poor quality of the clubs they had to perform in – even in strip clubs!

And then they had their agent, Mr. Lee, so frugal, they had to haggle every time they wanted to get paid – and hunt him down too. I believe he was taking advantage of their ‘free audition’ too.

I had wondered at the end if Michele had had enough and if she’d ask to go home before the six month’s contract was over, but she held on and I could totally relate when she felt nostalgic leaving Korea at the end. It was a chapter of her life where she learned so much, despite not all being nice.

I can’t wait to read this author’s next book, currently at the making, somewhere in Japan.

Totally recommend this one!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43587835-fishnets-in-the-far-east

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MLQ1WVQ/

Where the wind blows – Simone Beaudelaire

 

“The irresistible harmony between musicians creates a passionate symphony, but past discords and present clashes sour the melody. Can their love finally ring true?”

99.9% of the books I read has a romantic aspect. Romantic suspense, PNR, thriller/mystery, fantasy/sci-fi; chick lit. No matter what, almost all my reads have some sort of romance. But I can honestly say this is the first time I read a romance where the guy is African American. An African American woman and a white man, yes, biracial couples, yes. A guy with mixed heritage, yes. But a romance where the woman is white and the guy African American, this was a first for me. And so refreshing! It reminds me of a favorite movie from my teen years – Save the last dance.

This is a romantic story between two musicians attracted to each other, but with a lot of baggage in their background. Brooke has her demons to contend with, but a supportive and psychic sister. Kenneth has his family’s and his insecurities about their relationship, but he’s ready to adjust his life and settle down. His mother doesn’t want a white woman for her son, but the rest of his family didn’t stand in his way. I’m glad to say Brooke put Kenneth’s mother in her place, and she came around to their romance later.

The writing is done exceptionally well, the mood dark at times, light at others, the style easy to read.

There are some graphic sex scenes – adds up to the romance, but, again, they’re graphic, so I wouldn’t recommend it for ages less than sixteen. Otherwise it’s a great and fast read!, great for the end of the weekend, or a getaway read.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46543852-where-the-wind-blows

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1073590232/

And now a Friday 13th feature!

Monstrosity: Tales of Transformation – Laura Diaz de Arce

Blurb:

Dear reader,

When we were children, we dreamed of being heroes. We wanted to slay dragons and defeat the monsters that scared us.

As we grew older, we were forced to try and find our monsters. We had been told they would be easy to spot. Monsters had too much teeth, too much fur, too much size.

These were lies. We stopped wanting to be heroes. We started to want to be more, to be too much. We wanted, needed, more than the world could give us. We wanted more than what we were told we should be. We wanted to become monsters. “If you love well-crafted short stories with unexpected twists, this is the collection for you! Laura Diaz de Arce has a writing style that pulls you right in. Her characters are lively, and I can guarantee that when the twist hits you, you won’t see it coming!” – R. S. Penney, author of Symbiosis and Desa Kincaid

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45158396-monstrosity

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PNP1Y9H/

Just a beggar

Hey peeps, today I’m here to beg, again, for your vote for my book.

Most votes last time didn’t go through due to their precaution (against cheating) system, and the votes are about to close on august 20th. I’ve been on the lead since April, and I wasn’t going to post about it again, but today I discovered I’m in a tie with another book.

Please help!

Here’s a step by step instruction on how to vote:

1- Click on the link below

2- Go to page 8, fantasy category (there’s a 1/16 with arrows to go back and forth through the pages. Click on the arrows until you get to 8/16)

3- Click on my book, Heir of ashes by Jina S. Bazzar

4- Choose which platform you want to use to vote – Twitter or Facebook

5- Confirm your vote by clicking on your account name

 

Once you’ve done those steps, your vote should’ve gone through. There’s no need to create any accounts or sign up for a newsletter.

 

If your vote went through the last time, two things may happen when you click on my book:

 

1- You’ll be sent to page 9 to vote in that category.

2- You’ll be shown the number of votes I have.

Link: https://www.tckpublishing.com/2019-readers-choice-voting-page/

 

I really appreciate any support I get at this stage.

Thank you very much!

Here’s what the fuss is about:

Sorcery of Thorns By Margaret Rogerson

 

I have so much to say about this book but first let me get one thing out: WOW (hear me squealing!)!

Have you ever picked up a book, started reading and reading, and when you reach the end, you look back and search for another page? Maybe it got ripped off? So you read that last page again and as if it were a continuation to the story, continue on to the author section and back cover? Then you go online and take a look at what people are saying, all the while saying under your breath, “let it be a series, let it be a series, pleasepleaseplease.” That was me with this book.

I saw this book around in so many tbr lists that I got curious. And then a friend practically threw it at me, thank you Amira, for lending me this book – it was more than worth my time!

Let it be known that I was so caught in this story that I put everything aside – including my edits – and just read. Of course, I kind of lost the rhythm in the edits, but, well, it’s summer and if I can’t take a few days to relax and read, then I’ll never be able to.

I started reading this around 10pm, just a quick peak to see if the first few pages called to me. It was about 3am when I put it aside, because there’s no sleeping in for me, no matter how much I wish so. By 7am I was up and reading where I’d left off. I’m sure if I hadn’t paused to eat or drink or see to my kid’s needs and home, I’d have finished the story way before 2 am the next morning.

So, magic library, sorcery, conflicting heroes, evil villains, romance and action. What else one could ask?

I can honestly say that up to now, this is the best book I’ve read this year so far – there is not a single thing to complain about this book except for: I want more!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42201395-sorcery-of-thorns


And then I picked up Illuminae.

By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Hmm, now this one is a mystifier. I’ve read so much about this one that I decided to read it – out of curiosity about the fuss. I admit that going into it, I thought this was going to be similar to These broken stars (a great read btw).

And in a way it was, since both were dark, creepy at times, and thoroughly captivating. I just couldn’t put it down – and God, I wanted to.

That’s right, I had a strong urge to throw the book – my laptop – at the wall through most of the book, and yet…. I’m not sure if this one was just so confusing for me, all the ims and smh and different formats – let me just say that I had my teeth gritted through most of the book. My reader read the whole thing as if there were no punctuation whatsoever anywhere, save for when the ‘illuminae group’ were giving their account of the events. I seriously contemplated putting the book down and forgetting about it, but man I wanted to know what was going to happen!

It was a surprisingly great read, but I’m sorry to say I don’t think I’ll be picking up the second book – because of the format, not the story. I don’t think I can go through another entire book through ims and smh and multiple formats.

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23395680-illuminae

Ever read either of these books? If so, what did you think? Have you ever read a book where the format was so weird it just put you off?

**Note: I was unable for some reason to save a copy of the cover for Sorcery of Thorns to use on this post.

Back from the grave – urr, the cave

Schools are out and summer is here and most are already going on trips, or to the beach, or hiking and camping, enjoying a vacation – to say it better: having fun.

But me? I’ve spent the most part of the past two months inside a cave… my editing cave.

Edits and revisions have never gone slower for me. I decided early on last month to change my tactic, which was to attack my manuscript top to bottom over and over. Seeing I wasn’t doing much progress with that approach, I decided to simply create a new file. Then, on to the manuscript, select and cut the first chapter, paste it on the new file. Then edit and revise that chapter to an inch of its life. What I did, exactly, was this:

1-Read and revise whatever I felt didn’t sound write.

2- Correct all the spelling and grammar.

3- Delete anything extra that wasn’t adding to the sentence – that, a, just, the -ly words and so on.

4- Rewrite sentences that could be shortened.

5- Read the whole thing until there was nothing left to add, delete or change.

6- Take my mind off the story by reading something else – so I could start in the morning fresh.

 

Once done with that chapter, I’d head back to the manuscript, select the next chapter, cut and paste it on that new file. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat…

My RISD (Revisionitis Intolerance Syndrome Disorder) is still going strong, but I’m managing it. So far, I’ve done more than half of the manuscript, about 65k words from 110k+ yes, I’m still on round 1.

 

Still, as you can imagine from #6 in that list, I’ve read quite a number of books this past 7 weeks, and here’s a list, in no particular order:

My reviews can be read on goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/63306583

  • Muse of nightmares (Strange the dreamer #2) by Laney Taylor

 

Well, I admit I put off reading this one so long because of the way that book one ended – I mean, that ending? I could practically write book 2 from it. But, I needed to read something that wouldn’t give my tortured brain shock waves, so I picked this one (after all, didn’t I already know what was going to happen?) Boy was I wrong.

Well, not entirely wrong, mind you, this book started exactly the way I’d thought it would. Had I not been in the mood for this sort of predictability, I’d have put it down on the first few pages.

But then things started evolving, and shock and shock, it wasn’t what I was expecting, and I ended up at the edge, wondering when that twist was going to happen and all my premonitions would come true. But it didn’t and I ended up enjoying this one more than the first, save for one little thing – SPOILER AHEAD! And yeah, I didn’t like that Sarai remained as she was in the end, but there was enough doubt thrown at the end to make one believe there was hope for her still.

 

  • Nothing But Trouble (Malibu University #1) by P. Dangelico

 

Nothing really special about this one, but that’s because I’ve read so many romance books, this one is just another one. It was a normal good read though, and I have no complain to make.

 

  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

 

I read Uprooted by Naomi Novik a while back and enjoyed it very much – especially the length. So when I found this one, I pounced, ready to enjoy another great read. And yes, it was great, but not as great. Maybe it was the thrill of that first book, the knowledge of the danger from start to finish, maybe it was the magic of the world building of the first … Actually, no, there was magic in this one as well, and the words were captivating too. Maybe it was the fact that the reason for the endless winter in this one came too late in the story? Still, all in all, I enjoyed it very much.

 

  • Diary of a Bad Boy by Meghan Quinn

 

Very well written, but I don’t like the part where girl falls for the guy who treats girl poorly. There’s no reason for him to be an ass aside from the fact that he’s an ass.

I mean, come on to this side of real life. A guy acts like a jerk? You slap him and walk away, not fall in love. But I actually read this one through to the end – well, I listened to it all the way through, and if I fell asleep on some parts, it was still ok.

 

  • King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo

 

Alright, I actually enjoyed this one very much. I’m not a big fan of Bardugo – gasps – but I don’t have anything against her either. I did read the first book in the Grisha, Shadow and bone, and I did like it, but I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. I started reading the second book there, didn’t feel the mood and let it go for a later time (that still hasn’t come). My second book by this author was Wonder woman, and yes, enjoyed that one too. But I gotta say this one takes the cake. It was really good – and I did recognize a few names from Shadow and bone, enough so that the references made me want to go back and finish the Grishah trilogy? Series? And yes, intend to, sooner than later.

 

  • Blood of the Earth (Soulwood #1) by Faith Hunter

 

Did I ever say I was a fan of Jane Yellowrock? I was, and when the last book in the series (#12), was released, I was… sad to read it, knowing there wouldn’t be any other coming.

So when I realized Faith Hunter had started another series in Jane Yellowrock’s world? My first instinct was not to pick it up, knowing it wasn’t going to be as good. Well, it wasn’t as good, but different enough that I ended up enjoying it nonetheless. I already have book 2 in my cue to be read next.

I’m curious about Nell and who she’ll end up with, as well as about Rick – because, and this is probably an unpopular opinion, I wanted him to end up with Jane. So now I’m wondering if Nell and Rick are meant to be?

 

  • The Culling Trials (Shadowspell academy #1, #2, #3) by Shannon Mayer and F. Breene

 

This is a 3 book short stories that I read, one after the other. I enjoyed it, but I admit, I don’t like when convenient things happen when the protagonist is facing a difficult situation, and it did here, on all three books. But I like the adventure and obstacles that were thrown on the way, and the story was written for a much younger audience (teens and probably mg) so I took that in consideration. And all three were intriguing enough to keep me going all the way. I think though both authors should have made the three into one full novel.

 

  • Obsession in death (Naked in death #40) / Devoted in death (Naked in death #41) / Brotherhood in death (Naked in death #42) By JD Rob

 

Sometimes I have a penchant for police/detective work and JD Rob never fails to deliver. Romance – check. Action – check. Great visualization – check. Humor – check. Dark – check. A little fantasy – check.

Yes, it ticks all the boxes, hence the reason I’ve read 42 books in the series so far.

 

So that’s that. I see myself doing more of the above for the next month, unless someone manages to fish me out of that cave – by force – to do something else. So, readers – have you read any of those books or any books by those authors?

Authors? Do you have a different way for editing your work?

 

 

 

Help me win this award!

So Heir of Ashes – book 1 in the Roxanne Fosch Files was nominated for the 2019 Readers Choice Award by TCK Publishing.

 

I’m here to shamelessly ask for your vote to help me win – link below.

To vote, please click on the link below and then go to page 8 – fantasy category and click on Heir of Ashes.

 

I appreciate the help!

Link: https://www.tckpublishing.com/2019-readers-choice-voting-page/

If you have any trouble voting, leave me a comment and I can walk you through it.

 

Thank you!