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Review of The Month of April by Chad Ard

In The Month of April, the main character, April Boyd finds out her mother has died and returns to her hometown with her girlfriend, Abby. Her mother left instructions to cremate her body, take the ashes to New Orleans, and scatter them in the river in front of the Jackson Brewery. Inside a box of personal items, they discover an account April’s mother had written about her trip to New Orleans the year before April was born.

 

They read about how April’s mother, Dani met the love of her life in the Crescent City. The account, entitled “The Month of April,” chronicles the couple’s brief time together and what transpired afterwards during Dani’s time in the military.

 

Though grief-stricken after reading the sad tale, April understands her mother better and feels closer to her. Caring for her girlfriend and emotionally moved, Abby encourages April to take steps to bring closure to the tragedy and together, they investigate the occurrences and right twenty-year-old wrongs.

 

As a fan of epistolary books, I especially enjoyed the sections of Dani’s story.  The setting descriptions transported me to a city I’ve briefly visited, but never had the opportunity to tour. Ard’s admiration of Raymond Carver is evident in his writing. I would characterize this novella as dirty realism. The sparse, unadorned prose conveys the author’s meaning succinctly. As a poor, unwed mother, Dani epitomizes the kind of characters which populate the genre.  I found the dialogue somewhat flat, however, that too, could be attributed to an aspect of realism.  I do not typically read this style of writing and the fact that I found the first few pages too compelling not to finish reading the novella says much about this author’s exceptional writing ability.

Review of The Lost Fairytales of the Dewdrop Forest by Bianca Scharff

A wish is made upon a dandelion setting in motion a terrifying series of events. Lucy, a young lady nearing her 18th birthday, must travel to the enchanted Dewdrop Forest to find answers before it is too late to stop her descent into madness.

 

I’ve always been a big fan of fairy tales and love reading them, so I was immediately drawn to this book.

Despite the cute, Disneyesque title, this is a fairy tale in the vein of the original Brothers Grimm, replete with disturbing, often violent scenes. I was hooked from the beginning. With foreboding, I read of the wish in the first chapter. The mere appearance of the weed hints at the troubles to come.

 

The lines between reality and fantasy are blurred and there are cyclic elements to the story. Plying ethereal language, the author visits the similarities between such dichotomous duos as love and hate. The prose has a lyrical quality. I am still pondering the cryptic ending.

 

Although the book would benefit from tighter editing, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Lost Fairytales of the Dewdrop Forest has an inventive plot and is a well-written, phantasmagoric story.

Review of Kitty’s First Day of School by Sarah Linx

Linx’s entertaining book introduces children to the concept of school. The vocabulary in this engaging story about Kitty the Calico’s first day is geared toward emerging readers. The colorful, detailed illustrations by the author immediately drew my eye, especially since the main character is a kitten. This book would make a perfect gift for any child.

Birdie and Jude by Phyllis H. Moore

In Phyllis H. Moore’s, Birdie and Jude, characters come to life and spark interest in the soul of the reader. Birdie, a lifetime resident of Galveston Island, keeps to a happy routine with her dog, Ollie.

Walking the shore on one of their usual excursions they pick up a visitor in distress. Not knowing much about the young woman, Jude, or her disastrous situation, Birdie invites her back to her home to shelter out the storm.

Through routine activities, the writer reveals glimpses of Birdies unique personality. Well loved by the community, Birdie has secrets and a strong desire to be left out of social graces, though she can fake it well enough for a few friends and her over protective nephew, Barry. Young and beautiful Jude also has a past and slowly reveals her situation to Birdie as they become fast friends.

The real part of this story is not in the daily lives of its characters or the events they are caught up in. This story transcends across time and has a warmth to it that stays with the reader long after the story is over.

Birdie and Jude has the sass of Rita Mae Brown mixed with the warmth and racial equality struggle of The Help. I strongly recommend this book for any occasion, but I picked it up on my vacation and couldn’t put it down. A wonderful page turner and hope for a future with loved ones past and present.

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Geza Tatrallyay’s, Rainbow Vintner, political intrigue and terrorism aren’t the only plot driven aspects of the book. Young and beautiful, American exchange student, Morgan Kenworthy, has taken up studies in France, where she forms a keen interest in a family friend’s son, Alex. Her school mate, Claire, Alex’s sister, is her local guide between the de Carduzac’s family estate, school and other social interest. Introducing her to important members of government, associated with the family, and socially challenging professors, with opposing political ideals, Morgan is swept up in the lavish setting of the Bordeaux region.
When Morgan runs across some interesting photos in the de Carduzac’s office, she begins to put together pieces of a puzzle that lead her into a political triangle. Russians, Jihadist, French right wing activist are all a part of a plot that may take down France, Morgan and Alex with it.
I was surprised by the depth of the characters in this international thriller and pleasantly intrigued by such details of upper class living. The descriptions of food, wine and ambiance was delectable. The author had an artful way of divulging information for the reader through dialogue, so you felt like you were a part of the conversation.
With issues that parallel our own daily news, readers will find themselves dissecting the political subject and categorizing their own passions for moral resolution. Vigilante espionage and a surprising ending that I didn’t see coming.

Murder at the Luther (Review by Minette Lauren)

Murder at the Luther by [Kaska, Kathleen]
Murder at the Luther, by Kathleen Kaska, is a very witty who done it. With tones of, I love Lucy, humor and Alfred Hitchcock eeriness, the story takes the reader on a rather captivating ride. Journalist, Sydney Lockhart, and her ragtag cast of supporting characters are more likely to dig the hole deeper than clear her name of murder. When a handsome stranger asks her to go birding and then ends up dead in her arms, Sydney is speechless. With her prints on the murder weapon and no one in Palacios, Texas to vouch for her innocence, her goose is all but cooked.
The cover of the book promises the reader a respite from modern conveniences and a stroll through past fashion magazines. Cousin Ruth’s shoe fetish and Mrs. Foghorn’s affinity for pants do not disappoint.
The 1952 New Year’s eve dance at the Luthor may be Sydney’s worst night ever, and she could sure use a hero. Her former interest in Detective Dixon may be her life raft in the turbulent storm that sweeps her away on murder charges, but the stubborn journalist exercises her feminist efforts to take care of herself. Secret messages, nosey hotel staff, an Ex-Lieutenant Governor and his illustrious wife, a Sherriff with a re-election agenda, a meddling cousin, a Cajun hit-man and more plague Sydney as she tries to find the real killer in this small coastal town.
Murder at the Luther is part of a series but reads wonderfully as a standalone. The expert author gives references to the previous experiences of the characters without dwelling on backstory.
Never a dull moment, with rollicking events that turn each page, Murder at the Luther spins an intriguing murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.

Extra, Extra, read all about it! New release today!

After a temperamental meltdown on stage, Sean Hightower, a regretful and resentful “one-hit wonder” rock musician hoping for a comeback, returns to his girlfriend’s condo seeking comfort from the woman he loves. But after letting himself in, he discovers her naked body on the bed, murdered from a bullet to the head. When the police detective arrives and sees the two taped pieces of paper on the wall with the word, “hello,” on one and “goodbye,” on the other, he realizes that the renowned serial killer, The Beatles Song Murderer, has struck again. In the days that follow, he reaches another conclusion—the Beatles Song Murderer is probably somebody Sean knows. Now the detective needs Sean’s help to find the killer.

After several years devoted to poetry, followed by a few minor achievements as a professional song lyricist, Keith Steinbaum eventually decided to write a novel, culminating in the completion of The Poe Consequence, a supernatural thriller/human drama that received Books-and-Authors.net’s Supernatural Thriller of the Year, Kirkus Reviews’ listing as a top Indy book of the year, and a Finalist placing in 2017’s International Book Excellence Awards competition.

His forthcoming second novel, published by Black Opal Books, is entitled, You Say Goodbye. It’s a whodunit murder mystery featuring The Beatles, a one-hit wonder ex-rock star, and a little girl with cancer who’s a big fan of the LA Lakers. The child’s character was inspired by the life, and unfortunate death, of Alexandra Scott from the Alex’s Lemonade foundation.

Although Steinbaum pays the bills through a long career in the landscape industry, in his heart he’s always considered himself a creative writer first and foremost. As he’s often replied when asked about his license plate that reads, Do Write, “I make my living through landscape, but I make my loving through writing.”

Rave reviews for Blinked!

What a nice surprise to wake up and see this link, to a review of Blinked, posted to twitter! William Dylan Powell does reviews on the Lone Star Lineup, and crafted a review that brought tears to my eyes. Blinked is a story dear to my heart, and I have often called it my trophy novel, proof that I can write anything with Zoe Tasia. I loved that he seemed to get it’s humor and decipher it’s deeper meaning. Please enjoy his review of our zany urban fantasy, Blinked.

https://www.lonestarlineup.com/

RACE FOR THE SUN BY MINETTE LAUREN

This book has an interesting take on the afterlife. After death, in an incorporeal state, beings wait to be reincarnated. As they wait, they act as soul watchers. A soul watcher will choose one person on Earth to help. Soul-watcher Soledad, returning to the afterlife after committing suicide, chooses Ally, a relative from her most recent life, to aid.

Ally is my favorite character. As the one, able-bodied individual in her small family, many duties fall to her. Though exhausted and frustrated at times, she loves her family and strives to do everything possible to keep them safe and happy. Ally is a middle child. Her older sister, Jessica, is an intransigent, forty-year-old, type one diabetic in need of a kidney. Ally’s sweet, younger sister, Alyssa, was born with special needs and requires twenty-four-hour supervision. Their mother’s heart problems prevent her from performing many activities.

Ally is an animal-loving artist who loves riding motorcycles. I think that, since she has many responsibilities, she needs that freedom to fly—be it on the canvas or the road. Though confident in other areas of her life, after her divorce, she finds herself gun-shy around men. As Soledad spiritually guides Ally, we learn about both women, their goals, desires, mistakes—and come to care deeply for them. The secondary characters are written with equal care and detail.

Race for the Sun is a life-affirming journey. The author packs an emotional punch in her writing. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Kilts and Catnip, by Zoe Tasia

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Kilts and Catnip is a cozy fantasy with a sweet romantic flare, depicting the life of Becca Shaw, a young widow, who moves to the Scotland with her two young daughters after her beloved husband passes away. Filled with grief, Becca struggles to find happiness and the previous connection she shared with her children. Feeling the need to spend more time with her daughters and heal, she packs up the family and rents a cottage on an island for the summer. Unbeknownst to her, the Shrouded Isle is a place of mystical wonders and things a sensible teacher shouldn’t believe, but after a few hair-raising run-ins with a kilt clad stranger in the forest and local residents, Rebecca has to admit that something not normal.

Arriving at their summer destination tired, after the long day of travel, Becca sets up the cottage for their stay. It is only a short time later that her youngest daughter mysteriously disappears, and her oldest daughter is in a panic. Searching for her child, Becca gets turned around in the forest and meets a curious stranger in a kilt, who reunites her with her daughter. Discombobulated by the late-night events and filled with the terror of a mother who has lost her child, Becca shrugs off the stranger and his warning not to return to the forest.

Things heat up with a domestic, telepathic cat and scary wolves hot on their trail, but the residents don’t seem at all mystified about the odd mishaps. Becca remains concerned over her youngest daughter’s change in disposition and tries to figure out just what is wrong and how to fix it. She does a little research at the town library, consorts at the local gala and even cozies up to the neighbor to discover the mystery behind the elements at play. With the roller coaster of odd events and mishaps, she’s not sure she will ever find out the secrets of the Shrouded Isle but has no control over her winsome heart.

Warm, majestic and full of adventure, this fantasy is sure to entertain. I look forward to reading more of the fae filled forest and the budding romance between Becca and Greg. This fabulous story by author, Zoe Tasia, shows a promise of more great things to come. I truly enjoyed this cozy page turner. Don’t miss book one of The Shrouded Isle.