2018 TBR planning


Right around the first of the year (1/2/2017 to be precise) I posted a “My first 10 TBR Books” for the year. I’m going out on a limb and announcing one of the top books on the 2018 version of that same list.

Having read Zachary Paul Chopchinski’s Gabrielle series, I’m super stoked for his next release: Webley and the World Machine. Not to mention I’m über jealous of this bad a$$ book trailer. 😍 After my family’s steampunk Halloween, this book is right up our alley! Follow the link below to the Bow Tie Author’s page and check it out. You’re welcome!

via Webley and The World Machine Book Trailer


My first week of NaNoWriMo: The fun & the challenges

When I self-published (July 2016) I was woefully ignorant of all the resources, support, and communities out there for independent authors. By October I had started this blog and tried to broaden my author footprint on social media. When November rolled around and my recently acquired Facebook author friends started popping up in my feed with NaNoWriMo updates I was perplexed. What the dickens were they talking about? What was all the fuss? I did some research, but decided that mid-November was too late to join in, so I made a commitment to join the event in 2017.

Well, here we are, a week in to NaNoWriMo and I am ridiculously behind on my word count. According to their planning matrix I should be somewhere in the 10,000 word range as of last night. I have just over half of that. Here are my challenges so far:

  • Reading commitments – I read out loud to my family. We are smack dab in the middle of the Mortal Instruments series and the kids are loathe to give momma time off for other endeavors. The hour (or two) after dinner is family story time!
  • Review commitments – I have such a backlog of indie author books I need to read & post reviews of! That is, after all, the point of this blog, spreading the indie love. Right now I am in the middle of a sumptuous book, Miriamne the Magdala by fellow indie JB Richards. It’s awesome, but loooonnng. I really want to devote time to it, but NaNo is taking priority. 
  • The day job – Darn real life! Truthfully, I love my day job and even if (when?) I become a famous best-selling author, I’ve always told myself I would still work at least part time. Medicine is a wonderful, amazing, and fulfilling field. But it sure is cutting into my writing time at the moment!
  • My writing style – I am what most would all a pantster when it comes to my writing. No outlines or other formal plans, so that seems to be jiving all right with NaNo. What has been a problem for me is my tendency to edit as I write. My typical pattern is as follows: write until I’m done for the day then, the next time I sit down to write, read the previous chapter (or at least the  preceding 2-3 pages) and edit as I go… typos, punctuation, flow, the whole lot. By the time I finish writing one my projects there is very little editing left. Making myself STOP that for NaNo has been beyond difficult. 

So what has been working well for me so far? A couple surprising items, in fact!

  • Extra-curricular activities – My kids have activities after work / school and on Saturdays. So, while Mom is sitting on the sidelines watching them at Kung Fu or swimming, out comes the iPad mini and my teensy Bluetooth keyboard for an hour (or three) to hammer out un-edited paragraph after paragraph. 
  • The surprise surge – It’s amazing how much can be written in a few minutes. So far this week I have written (longhand in the spiral notebook I always carry) while waiting in line at the gas station and drive thru windows, the last 10 minutes of my lunch break at work, even while standing in line at the grocery store! It’s amazing the times and places you can find for writing when it is your top priority.

The question remains, will I make the 50,000 word count goal before the end of the month? I have no idea. And it doesn’t really matter. Because I’m having fun getting the words out, and that is what counts!

Book Review: Somewhere My Lady (Ladies in Time Book 1) by Beth Trissel

🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺 5 out of 5 stars

True love never dies… or so we’ve been told through the ages. But what happens when true love does die? When two souls, fated to be together, are torn apart? Somewhere My Lady, by Beth Trissel, poses those very questions. Hired for a summer job at Harrison Hall, a historical colonial mansion, Lorna Randolph never expected to see ghosts, nor to be reunited with a handsome soldier her heart and soul knows… even though her mind cannot place him. Hart Harrison’s life was shattered when his fiancé was taken by fever, but after she appeared to him in a vision promising her return, he vowed to wait as long as was needed. Now, fate has brought them together again within the enchanted walls of Harrison Hall. Skipping backward and forward in time, between current and colonial eras, Lorna and Hart must solve the mystery of their past if they are ever to have a future together. 

Beth Trissel creates a sumptuous feast for her readers. The two worlds, modern and colonial, were clearly delineated by both atmosphere and dialogue. Small details take on great importance and pull the reader into the world. The romance between Lorna and Hart is classic, timeless, and inevitable. The young lovers are surrounded by a delightful cast of characters, both from our time and the past. Somewhere My Lady is a sweet, clean romance with unexpected twists. If you’re looking for a time travel romance with something unique, look no further. 

If a little time warp sounds fun, you can snag your copy of Somewhere My Lady on Amazon HERE.

**Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite**

Book Review: The Mistress of the Vampires (Amelia’s Chronicles Book 1) by Deliaria Davis

🖤🖤🖤🖤 3.5 out of 5 stars

In honor of Halloween, I went in search of a suitably-themed book morsel to devour and came across The Mistress of the Vampires (Amelia’s Chronicles book 1) by Deliaria Davis. This monster-mash is a genre-bending blend of erotica, horror, vampires, trolls, zombies, gladiatorial combat, and revenge killings. I’m all for genre mashups, but given the short length of this novella (56 pages) you can sometimes wind up with too much of a good thing, as might be the case here.

Amelia is the daughter of two bad-ass monster slayers, Frank and Delsa, and although she loves her parents she is frustrated by their reluctance to allow her to join them on their monster-hunting missions. Daddy Frank has his reasons, however; three years ago, Amelia was enthralled and almost captured by the Vamp leader Draco, who seemed intent on making Amelia his vampire queen. Now, three years later, Amelia’s thoughts (and her dark sexual fantasies) are still influenced by Draco. Can she be trusted? Then, just before Halloween, when all the monsters come out to play, Amelia is captured by Draco and her parents are given an ultimatum: fight in Draco’s arena and win their daughter’s freedom or die trying.

What I loved about this book was the concept and Deliaria Davis’s fearless blending of so many elements. Amelia clearly loathes everything the monsters stand for, being raised a slayer and all, but with her mind awash in thoughts of Draco she is easily swayed by his seductive powers and the freedom of his blood lust. Unfortunately, due to the short nature of the novella, we really don’t get to experience Amelia’s angst. She very quickly flips from an ‘I hate you’ attitude to recklessly reveling in her new life. The depictions of the various monsters, and the addition of some new nightmare creatures for those who think they’ve seen them all, was well executed. Their hunger and their reckless abandon while on the hunt was intoxicating. I really enjoyed this book and devoured it quickly, a surefire sign that I liked it. But Amelia’s character arch could’ve been nuanced just a bit more. The Mistress of the Vampires left me hungry, like a newborn vampire ready to feed. 

Wanna get your fill of vamps & slaughter this Halloween weekend? You can get your hands on Amelia’s Chronicle HERE.

**Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite**

Book Review: Double Booked (Supernatural Treasure Hunters book 1) by CJ Anaya

👻👻👻👻👻 4.5 out of 5 stars

CJ Anaya has crafted a quick and witty treat for readers with her novella Double Booked, the first chapter in the Supernatural Treasure Hunters series. 

Analise Lavalle is on assignment. Visiting a quaint B&B on Texas’ Galveston Island to write her latest article on hauntings and the paranormal, she is expecting a quiet week and a quick paycheck. Unfortunately, things aren’t what they seem and nothing will go to plan. You see, Analise isn’t just a talented reporter with a penchant for haunted locations, she’s a spiritual medium who keeps her unique abilities a closely guarded secret. When she arrives at Windswept Inn only to find her room has been double-booked and there’s nowhere else for her to stay on the tiny island she’s forced to concede defeat and submit to sharing her suite with a total stranger. Much to Analise’s chagrin, her roommate for the week is a devastatingly handsome Spaniard named Miguel who seems to have magical secrets, and an agenda, all his own.

The immediate sexual tension between Analise and Miguel was delicious. CJ Anaya worked her own special brand of magic as the ‘relationship’ between the two characters took on a life of its own. With the book being told in first person from Analise’s POV, readers are gifted a fun, quirky heroine with some laugh-out-loud inner thoughts. I also loved how forthright and unapologetically Analise speaks her mind. Watching her try to resist the pull Miguel exerts on her was truly scintillating. The budding romance between Analise and Miguel, while captivating, is only a small part of the story. With a centuries-old mystery, warring warlock factions, ghosts, and a hidden map leading to treasures of unimaginable magical powers, Double Booked hints at the beginning of a wonderful series. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a cliffhanger ending, but if the rest of the series is as fun as this installment, all shall be forgiven in the end. 

You can grab this delicious morsel via Amazon HERE

**Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite**

Book Review: And They Lived by Sabrina Zbasnik

🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄 5 out of 5 stars

These are fairy tales and fables with bite! And They Lived by Sabrina Zbasnik is a deliciously wicked collection of nine short stories. Each tale turns familiar parables on their ear, twisting them in dark and devious directions. These damsels are rarely in distress. Take for example Red, a twist on Little a Red Riding Hood, in which our titular character is a contract killer under the employ of a shadow agency lead by the (aptly) code-named “Grandmother.” Or The Tower which puts a devilish twist on the Rapunzel tale. Another refreshing offering was Destiny, in which we get a glimpse of what might come to pass when a King refuses to kill his firstborn child despite prophecy asserting that child will kill him. My personal favorite was The Fifth Horseman. It had such a lyrical, poetic quality to its prose; it was absolutely magical.

Each tale offered up in And They Lived has its own unique tone and flavor. Some stories are quite short (no more than a couple pages) while others are a bit longer, but each manages to convey so much and packs quite a punch. I was also pleasantly surprised when I noticed the author’s deviation from the standard copyright blurb at the book’s start; her comedic and off-beat foreword gives readers a hint at what they’re in for. Sabrina Zbasnik has mastered the art of the short story, which is no small feat, and I’m eager to delve into more works by this author.

You can check them out for yourself (perfect for Halloween) HERE, free in Kindle Unlimited. 

**Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite**

Book Review: Penny White and the Vengeance of Snails (Penny White Book 4) by Chrys Cymri

🐌🐌🐌🐌🐌 5 out of 5 snails… I mean stars!

This fourth installment of the Penny White series is an absolute treat! Vengeance of Snails opens with Morey and Taryn about to become parents, Clyde eager for his confirmation, James slowly and morosely recovering from his near-fatal heroics, and Penny and Peter starting in on their wedding plans. It’s just life as normal since Penny involved herself with the denizens of Lloegyr. And, as always, there’s no smooth sailing for our dauntless Father Penny! Trouble is brewing in the shape of unexplained vandalisms at a number of sites linked to Penny as well as growing issues with snail sharks in both our world and Lloegyr. 

James has never been one of my favorite characters, but this book pulled him up quite a bit in my esteem. After some woe-is-me shenanigans, James has something happen (no spoilers!) which leaves someone utterly dependent upon him. Watching James grow into that role was lovely. And his paternal instincts! I might’ve actually swooned a little. 

Peter, Raven and Morey are steadfast, as always. The tension between Penny and Raven, as well as Peter’s trust in the search dragon were delicious. 

The biggest character arch in this episode involves, as the title suggests, dear little (or maybe not so little anymore) Clyde. As we learn more and more about snail shark society in Lloegyr and the two factions, Clyde is faced with a temptation few could resist, and a huge decision weighs heavily upon his left-spiraling shell. What will he decide? How will Penny cope with his decisions? And can their mother-child bond survive when Clyde finally learns the truth about what happened to his real mum? 

Fans of this series are sure to be delighted by Vengeance of Snails. I know I certainly was! Grab this new release today, available in Kindle Unlimited too, from Amazon HERE.

**I received an electronic ARC of this book from the author which I then chose to voluntarily review**

Book Review: Michael Lawrence – The Season of Darkness by Killarney Traynor

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 out of 5 stars

Killarney Traynor has crafted a masterful mystery with a robust cast of characters and a head-scratcher of a who-dunnit. Michael Lawrence: The Season of Darkness introduces us to homicide detective Michael Lawrence, a steadfast and bright investigator who is in the midst of a personal tragedy straight out of every parents worst nightmares. When a beloved professor from the local college dies under suspicious circumstances, it takes everything Detective Lawrence has to keep his two worlds, personal and professional, apart. When one of his main suspects becomes his second murder victim in as many days, the tension really ratchets skyward!

Killarney Traynor provides a veritable feast for her readers with a bevy of characters to love, loathe, and suspect in this terrible crime: the famous author hesitantly returning to her alma matter as a guest lecturer… the owner of the local bookshop with obvious unrequited and lingering feelings for his college flame… the orphan whose father was killed in a tragic accident and who has a secret she’d do anything to keep… plus so many more! When I started Michael Lawrence: The Season of Darkness I worried about the author’s ability to keep all the characters engaging and involved, but as the story wove on I found myself fully enveloped in their essences. Each character feels whole and fully realized. The mystery and the motives of all the players was well thought and plausible. Overall, I found this a highly entertaining read and look forward to more works by Killarney Traynor.

Interested? Check out Killarney’s website HERE and watch the trailer for the book’s movie adaptation while you’re there. 

**Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite**

Book Review: Gnotret (The Accidental Heroes Chronicles Book 1) by S.E. Cyborski

💉💉💉💉💉  5 out of 5 stars

This was a very entertaining novella, as well as an enticing segue into the next chapter of the Accidental Heroes Chronicles. Heads up: If you’re looking for a story with a solid, definite conclusion, this isn’t it. It’s something of a cliffhanger ending, but the good news is that the second installment is ready for your consumption. And believe me, you’ll want seconds. 

Five college students sign up for a medical trial. The catch: they can’t know anything about the drug they’ll be administered or its possible effects AND they must step away from their entire lives for a month, living in a self-contained research facility with the enigmatic Doctor running the trial and his AI assistant ‘Jane.’ 

For me, the most delicious part of the story was knowing that things are going to go wrong and watching the train wreck unfold. Seeing how each of the characters responds to their new abilities and powers was both uplifting and horrifying; these five test subjects represent the best and the worst in each of us. The author really played with the idea of duality, how we all have the capacity for good and evil, and that sometimes the smallest influence can push us to the side of light or the side of dark. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s in store for our heroes next.  

As of the time of this post, Gnotret is available free to read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers HERE. Go check it out!

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