Monday, December 15, 2014

4.5 Stars for Coming Home for Christmas

Author: Joanne Rawson
Genre: Women’s Romance (Novella)

Reviewed by: Nancy Pennick


After her husband’s death, Sophie and her young daughter return to her family in Derbyshire. The Ferguson’s seem like a perfect family until you scratch the surface. With so many emotional baggage, and only nine weeks to Christmas, can Sophie bring them altogether for the perfect Christmas she dreams of?

Thomas, the gorgeous, moody renovator, is a man with his own agenda that doesn't seem to include Sophie. Even in his paint-smeared tee shirt, faded jeans and scuffed boots, he is immodestly masculine, handsome and sizzling hot. But when his eyes reflect the pain she knows so well, Sophie cannot help but wonder if there is another side to the cold exterior.

Thomas finds his heart opening to this beautiful, wounded woman from his past. A passion smolders as they work together in the months before Christmas. But he has been hurt before and hesitates to stoke the fire between them.

Will the magic of the holidays heal a family and bring two lost souls together?


Sophie returns to her small village in England following the death of her husband. She has a small daughter and feels that would be the best place for her to grow up, surrounded by family and friends. She finds a house just weeks before Christmas and is determined to have it ready by the holiday. Her mum helps out and finds just the right kind of decorator—handsome and hunky. Sophie falls almost immediately for the guy. He, in turn, is quite standoffish.

Joanne Rawson is becoming one of my favorite authors. She needs to stop writing novellas and dive into a full book! Her novella is filled with rich characters with baggage to boot. Sophie and her sister, Shelly, have a lot to deal with when it comes to mum. I could relate. The writing is fun and the pace keeps moving.

The only small problem I had with the story was Tom, the decorator. He did an about face too fast. He went from barely a hello to spilling his personal history on their furniture building date. Tom was like a different person from then on. I would’ve liked to seen Sophie call him out on that. The relationship happened a little too quickly for me, but since this is a shorter story I can understand why.

If you’d like a romantic, fun Christmas read for the holidays, I suggest picking up Coming Home for Christmas. Join Sophie and the Ferguson family in typical dysfunctional style for the holidays.

Purchase links:

Amazon Kindle
Satin Romance

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Monday, December 1, 2014

5 Stars for The Spider and the Stone.

Reviewed by: Miccilina Piraino
Genre: Historical Fantasy


As the 14th century dawns, Scotland’s survival hangs by a spider’s thread. While the clans feud over their empty throne, the brutal Edward Longshanks of England invades the weakened northern kingdom, scheming to annex it to his realm.

But one frail, dark-skinned lad stands in the Plantagenet monarch’s path.

The beleaguered Scots cherish James Douglas as their "Good Sir James." Yet in England, his slashing raids deep into Yorkshire and Northumbria wreak such terror that he is branded the Black Douglas.

As a boy, James falls in love with the ravishing Isabelle MacDuff, whose clan for centuries has inaugurated Scottish monarchs on the hallowed Stone of Destiny. Their world is upturned when James befriends Robert Bruce, a bitter enemy of the MacDuffs. Forced to choose between love and clan loyalty, James and Isabelle must make fateful decisions that will draw the opposing armies to the bloody field of Bannockburn.

Here is the story of Scotland’s War of Independence and the remarkable events that followed the execution of William Wallace, whose legend was portrayed in the movie Braveheart. This thrilling epic leads the reader to the miraculous Stone of Destiny, to the famous Spider in the Cave, to the suppressed Culdee Church, and to the unprecedented Declaration of Arbroath, the stirring oath document that inspired the American Declaration of Independence four hundred years later. A saga of the star-crossed love, religious intrigue, and heroic sacrifice that saved Scotland during its time of greatest peril.


Glen Craney's The Spider and The Stone is a work that takes some time to read, but in the end is well worth the time. When you get into the meat of the story, learn to adapt to the language of the time and read between the lines of the story within the story (the fictional parts), then you relax into a darn good read. I had some general knowledge of The Stone of Scone (The Destiny Stone) culled from reading and watching a PBS Special on Westminster. I also knew of Robert the Bruce, the Plantagenet and Stewart names and William Wallace from history class and of course from Braveheart the movie. I have to admit to being sadly lacking in knowing who James Douglas (The Black Douglas and the Co-protagonist was.)

The historical part of the story was very well done (I admit, I googled it all to see if he had it right). He Did! The fictional parts were also very well done; a love story (If you are expecting a happy ending - Don't!), some lore and legend, some magic and sorcery and of course recounting individual conversations, all within the half century or so that this book covers. You get invested in how the book recreates this period in Scotland's history, the terrible suffering that the people endured just to be recognized as an independent sovereignty. The questions you find yourself with at the end of each part are answered in the next. I really loved the interplay among the characters and with my fascination for all things Celtic - I am half Irish with a wee bit o welsh thrown in - I found the language fairly easy to follow. Overall a satisfying several hours. Bravo Mr. Craney - Well Done! Five Stars from Me.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

5 Stars for The Waters of Nyra.

The Waters Of Nyra, Volume I
by Kelly Michelle Baker
Middle Grade Fantasy
Book reviewed by Lasa Limpin


Never an ordinary dragon, Nyra grew up forbidden to breathe fire or fly. Like her mother before her, she has only known a life of enslavement, held in thrall by mountain dragons, which need Nyra’s ripening wings to secure hunting for the future.

But at the cusp of her first flying lesson, new rumors whisper through the herd. Mother pursues friendships in forbidden places, blurring the once succinct enemy line. In a whirlwind of realization, Nyra uncovers a secret in plain sight, one thought unknown to her enslavers, and one putting her at the focal point of rebellion should it come into play.

And come it does, but through a terrible accident, killing the slaves’ last chance of escape. To survive, Nyra must conquer the sharp-ended lies cutting her future to ribbons and the war threading in their wake.


This is the story of a young dragon named Nyra. She and her family are a kind of dragon called Agring and they live in a small colony of Agrings by the sea. Unfortunately, the Agrings have been enslaved by the Sperks, large dragons who use the smaller Agrings to hunt fish. Together they are ruled over by the menacing Sperk leader, Darkmoon.

I’m giving this book five stars because, despite its flaws, I found Nyra’s story to be engrossing. Baker has done an excellent job of immersing herself and the reader into a believable world of dragons. The author never loses sight of the fact that she is writing about non-human characters, and, because of that, neither does the reader. Furthermore, the development of Nyra over the course of the book, both physically and mentally, is eyes-glued-to-the-page reading.

The novel has a few weaknesses. The main weakness is that the book gets off to a very slow start. The setting and backstory develop without the use of meaningful conflict beyond an initial encounter with Darkmoon. But once siblings Nyra and Blaze begin a week long punishment the story gets going and I strongly suggest readers hold on for that. Meaningful conflict at the beginning of the novel would have helped considerably, and I’m afraid readers will put down the book (I myself had begun skimming) before the story takes off and becomes fully engaging (after which I was riveted).

Furthermore, there was a simple issue that nonetheless marred my initial acceptance of the novel’s premise. And here, I will phrase my inquiry in the manner in which it troubled me, although it already implies a misunderstanding: Why was it so important to the Sperk overlords that the Agring didn’t learn to fly, let alone open their wings, until age twelve? For much of the book I didn’t understand the point of this rule, or whether the rule was part of Nyra’s enslavement or simply the Agring way of raising their young.

All that aside—and yes, throw all that aside—this is a good book. The Waters of Nyra is a perfect novel for dragon enthusiasts. What’s more, it’s perfect for readers who enjoy novels which leave humanity behind and focus exclusively on the animal point of view, be it dogs, owls, cats, or in this case, dragons. There is not a single human being in The Waters of Nyra, and due to that, and the writer’s exceptional focus on conveying to the reader the tactile experience of living in the body of a dragon, this novel is sure to delight fans of this middle grade fantasy sub-genre, which includes the cat-centered Warriors series by Erin Hunter, and similar titles.

In summary, if you or your children enjoy novels about dragons, or stories that center on a world of animals, I strongly recommend The Waters of Nyra. Skim the slow bits up front if you have to, because The Waters of Nyra is an extremely worthy book and a welcome addition to the lore of dragons.

Purchase Links: 

Amazon Kindle

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This book was reviewed by guest reviewer Lasa Limpin, author of numerous novelettes and the historical fantasy novel, Unlanded: Mask of the Revolution. All her ebooks are currently available at Amazon.

Find Lasa Limpin's ebooks at Amazon
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Monday, November 24, 2014

4 Stars for Deceived

Genre: Paranormal YA
Reviewed by: Miccilina Piraino


They say a soul is the immaterial essence, the animating principle, the actuating cause of an individual life.

But what if you had to share yours with the one person you hated the most?

The soul mate principle states that for every one soul there is another that will recognize its match, hence creating the perfect union.

But what if you had two soul mates, which would you choose? What if your choices had eternal ramification?

Deceived, the debut novel in the Soul Keeper Series, is a modern day love story about the implications of having more than one soul mate, and having to choose between the two of them. The decisions of the gods has left the next generation, their heirs, torn between fate and reality, and the balance of the future hangs in anticipation of what's to come.


Four Stars - I liked it!

The story takes a while to unfold and has many twists, turns and details. When you get what the writer is saying and where she wants to take you, you understand the finer points. The main characters of Samantha and the "Brothers"; Marcus and Nicolas are engaging and interesting.

The story within a story approach can be confusing at times, with flashbacks and asides, but in the overview, it works. The additional characters of the uncles gives us a way to connect the timeline, they provide a good link to family and what the story is ultimately about. There are good elements in the story tying mythology and legend to a prophecy and WHY we want to stay involved.

I loved the "factual" accounts of the mythology and appreciated the detail that was used to flesh out our characters and their back story. I enjoyed learning about them and in the end was very interested in knowing more about their circumstances. As in a lot of the E-Books, there is more story to be told, to be continued... To the writer: Good Job!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

4 stars for The Good Sister (Sister Series, #2) by Leanne Davis


Lindsey Bains Johanson has spent her entire life practicing the art of denial. She was always the obedient, perfect daughter of General Travis Bains, until she learned of the atrocities he committed against her own sister. Now, free of her father, she has become the perfect wife. A lifetime of training has enabled her to keep quiet about anything and everything, including the monster her husband becomes behind closed doors.

Circumstances allow her to take an unprecedented vacation, which she uses to visit her sister in Washington State, clear across the country from her home in Arlington, Virginia. Free of her husband’s presence, she starts to step out of the confines he keeps her shackled in. With the help of veterinarian, Noah Clark, she learns that she doesn’t have to be so good or obedient. But she also knows that the woman she is becoming is someone her husband will never allow her to be.

When her husband eventually comes for her, she goes home, without telling anyone the secret she has kept at the expense of her mind and body. But this time things go too far; and only then does Noah discover what she has hidden for years. But Lindsey knows that nothing will stop her husband from destroying her, no matter how long it takes.

**Please be warned that all my titles contain swearing, sexual situations, mature content matter and often mild violence.**


This book is a great example of using an old plot and carrying it through all the way until the end. The Good Sister is about domestic abuse and how one woman, Lindsey is able to have the strength to break free of it. It is courageous, heart-breaking, and in definite need of tissues. It mocks every well-done Lifetime Channel movie known for in luring its target audience in and giving them exactly what they want. It is no wonder The Good Sister got such raving reviews from the audience it intended. Plus, this book is a much better story than The Good Sister currently on the Lifetime Channel; mainly because it does what the reader wants without the unwanted weird plot twist at the end. It did have a surprise or two, but only towards complimenting the ending and maintaining the expected outcome.

I ended up giving it four stars rather than five because of character development. I just finished reading Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King and the character development rocked. Dolores, while no angel was absolutely worth rooting for if for no other reason than killing her no good husband. But it wasn’t just Dolores that was written with the precision, Joe, her husband stunk like a rotten potato and left in the bag that was sure to rot the whole Claiborne family. This is how Delores describes Joe after finding out about an indiscretion of his:

“I never knew about before that day, and all I could see with it was Joe’s long, horsey face, with his lips always cracked and his dentures always kind of yellow and his cheeks always chapped and red high up on the cheekbones.”

In The Good Sister, the plot worked, but I needed more from the protagonist (Lindsey) and her abusive husband, the antagonist, Elliot. First, I would have liked to see more of a transition from Lindsey the docile beaten wife to the Lindsey the warrior out to kick the bad man’s butt. The pacing moved too fast. Second, I would have liked to see Elliot drawn out more, maybe even given a slight sympathetic edge into what made him tick, one that twisted and curled around making you hate him more because he disappointed you. Delores’s Joe didn’t start out a terribly bad guy, but he evolved into it leaving a real nasty picture in the reader’s head that made you want him dead, the sooner the better. I would have liked to seen more of that evolution with Elliot, maybe even liking him a little in the beginning. I love feeling torn with a character.
Overall, I found the book in its entirety to be quite the fast read and would recommend it to a mature female audience.

You can find The Good Sister by Leanne Davis at

Monday, November 17, 2014

4 Stars for The Christmas Lights

Author: Rachael Elizabeth Kosinski
Historical Romance
Reviewed by Nancy Pennick


“Where do Christmas lights come from?”
The tiny bulbs of color that burn on a Christmas tree, or outside a house to shine in the night; does anyone really know where they originate? What if someone told you they weren’t intended for Christmas at all, but really for a miracle? That they were for love, a desperate idea, to light a boy’s way home?
In that case, you must have some questions. What boy? What love?
In that case, allow me to tell you a story.


The Christmas Lights is a story of a nearly blind young man, Louis, and his love for the girl he wants to marry, Emmeline. She comes from a rich family and he is poor so obviously her father objects to the wedding. He demands a dowry for his daughter; Louis is to save money before they wed. Although he can hardly see what’s right in front of him, he works for the town jeweler (without pay) and does quite well with the close-up work. He even designs Emmy’s engagement ring. Emmy’s father insists Louis go to England and work in a factory he recommends. Louis boards a ship and heads for Europe. Instead of going to the factory he sets his sights on Paris. While there he meets a kindly older man that helps him on his journey. The trip takes a bad turn and Louis does everything he can to make his way back to Emmy.

Louis and Emmy’s love never comes into question. The couple is true and faithful to each other. Because of the time period, Emmy’s father holds the power. I could never tell if he was testing Louis or really didn’t like him. Why couldn’t Louis work somewhere in Pennsylvania? Why did he have to go all the way to England for a factory job? He leaves for Europe in the spring and his timeline is to be home by Christmas. Louis meets some interesting characters on his journey--one being Mr. Faberge, the jeweler who designed those intricate jeweled eggs for the Russian czar. Emmy is at home waiting on Louis’ return and resisting her father’s suggestions of moving on from him to men with more proper upbringing.

There were a few things I have to question in the book, but they are minor. Louis arrives in England and decides he’s not going to work at the factory, but continue on to Paris. He says, “Who knew walking from Liverpool to Paris could make the bottoms of your shoes fall out?” It sounds like he walked all the way to Paris which we know is impossible. No mention of a boat or ship or how he got there. Suddenly he was in Paris. Also, his partial blindness wasn’t consistent. He couldn’t see people. They were described as blobs, but he could read a book. I know there is a difference in distant and close up vision, but he was written as nearly blind throughout the story.

If you are looking for a quick read (this is a novella) for the holiday season and enjoy historical pieces, I think you will enjoy The Christmas Lights.

Purchase Links

MuseItUp Publishing
Amazon Kindle

Author Links


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

4 Stars for Pixie Noir

Pixie Noir — Cedar Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Reviewed by: T.K Anthony 
Lom is a rarity among pixies. He often walks the world, hunting monsters before humankind has a chance to notice them. This time, Lom’s mission is more delicate. He must escort a potential crown princess, Belladonna Traycroft, to the High Court of the Folke...regardless of her feelings in the matter. Belladonna seldom thinks about her fairy heritage. She’d much rather continue life among her closeknit extended human family on the Alaskan frontier. Winning her agreement to the journey is the first of Lom's problems...but not his last.
With the fate of the Folke riding on his success, and a past that haunts him, he really shouldn't be falling in love with Bella. As they wade through monsters on the way to Court, it's a good thing Lom is used to winning battles. But he's dismayed to realize he's lost the war with his heart.
I read this book in one sitting. I’ve read a lot of free samples in the indie/small-pub world, looking for gems. Mostly, I don’t get through the first three pages. Pixie Noir pulled me right in. Lom has a very engaging voice; and Bella, a product of the Alaskan frontier, is no shrinking violet...but even she has a case of nerves in meeting the Folke for the first time, presented as a candidate for the throne.
I’ve read myriad free samples in the indie/small-pub world, looking for gems. Mostly, I don’t get through the first ten pages. Pixie Noir pulled me right in. Cedar Sanderson does a great job of building the dynamic between two independent souls, where suspicion gives way to trust, and love follows despite their best efforts to avoid it.
The ending was a little too pat to earn a five-star rating, but on the whole, the book left me with a pleasant aftertaste. Sanderson deftly combines humor, world-building, and fast-paced action with the deeper emotions of characters you can root for. I was happy to see Pixie Noir is the first of a series. I'll be back!

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Amazon Kindle

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