Review for: Misty Springs
By: Casey Fae Hewson
Rating: 5 Stars
I’ll start by declaring that the author of Mistry Springs is my partner and coauthor. I was also the one who edited it. Am I biased? You bet. Not because I know her or edit her work, but because her stories are so unique, and have such unusual plots and characters. And, Misty Springs is no exception.
I first read the draft of Misty Springs over a year ago and was instantly struck by how different Ricky Coles and Emily Seymour, her two main characters were. No way were these two going to connect in this story; a story which is itself unique. But connect they did. At least in the beginning.
Without giving anything away, I’ll tell you that their relationship is doomed from the beginning. But can their differences actually bring them together? Can their oil and water lives complement each other? Can their up and down relationship actually make their relationship stronger? Can love overcome all the strikes against them?
Once again, Casey takes two of the most unlikely characters, combines them with a unique plot and make a wonderful story out of it. Come join Ricky and Emily as they struggle to overcome the strikes against them and make things work in this wonderfully unusual story.
Definitely five stars
Review for: The City Girl
By Silvi Martin
Rating: 5 Stars
The City Girl is the third book in Silvi Martin’s Coronado Island Series.
The City Girl continues to follow the lives and romances of a small group of friends living on Coronado Island. While The City Girl stands alone, if you’ve followed the series, you’ll recognize Joe Carrera, his sister Mia and several of their close friends, from the previous stories.
As the story opens, little does Joe know that his laid back, surfer lifestyle is about to be invaded by an uptight neighbor. A neighbor who couldn’t spell ‘good time’, no less know how to have one, if she had to. Truly a misfit, who inherited a house on an island and in a neighborhood known for friendship and laid back fun.
But like Joe, Leah Ross, the uptight San Francisco advertising executive, is about to have her life turned upside down too. Not only by Joe, but by his group of friends who insist the house she inherited makes her one of them.
Tied together by a house, can Joe and Leah get along long enough that she can fix it up, dump it and return to Snob Hill? Only time, a ton of new feelings and digging into the past will tell.
Review for: It’s Not PMS It’s You
By Rich Amooi
Rating: 5 Stars
I’ll start my review with a warning: Do not read this book in public! If you do, you’ll quickly have an audience, staring at first, then asking what can possibly be so funny.
Rich manages to pull off something few authors can, a good story with lots of humor. It’s Not PMS It’s You is loaded with subtle one liners that will have you chuckling from the first page. But it’s the series of internet dates that will truly have you laughing out loud. Especially the one with Nick sitting at the next table making comments. That one, you’ll need a box of tissues for.
If you’re having a bad day, in a bad mood or feeling sorry for yourself, you’ll definitely want to pick this book up and read it. I’ll leave it at that so I don’t give too much away.
Definitely 5 stars!
Review for: The News Girl (Coronado Island Book 2)
By Silvi Martin
Rating: 5 stars
The News Girl is the second book in the Coronado Island Contemporary Romance series by Silvi Martin. The News Girl neatly branches off from book 1, The Postgirl, by following the life of Mia, one of the characters briefly introduced in book 1.
In book 1, you really don’t know much about Mia as she comes to Coronado Island to visit her brother. But somehow Silvi manages to let you know just enough about her to make you want to know more. In book 1 she really doesn’t play much of a roll in the story yet, when you find out she’s the main character in book 2, it immediately brings a smile to your face and fits perfectly: Of course it’s about Mia! Who else would it be? (Nice job Silvi!)
You don’t really need to read book 1 to completely enjoy book 2, but I highly recommend you do: if only to discover how Silvi sneaks Mia in and develops her into a main character without you even realizing it.
But, back to the story. Silvi borrows some characters from book 1 and adds others that immediately fit in as she builds a new story featuring Mia and Alex, Mia’s boss. Here again you’ll quickly find yourself caught up in the story and rooting for interesting characters that you wish were your friends or neighbors.
And once more, if you live or have been to San Diego, her descriptions will have you wanting to get in your car and drive over the bridge to Coronado Island to, at the very least, visit one of the beautiful beaches or clubs her characters visit.
As I mentioned in my review for book 1, my page turning took me to the end far too quickly and right into book 2. Both stories are very easy to read and, although independent, nicely tied together. Like book 1, book 2 ended far too quickly and I wanted more.
I sincerely hope Silvi decides to make this series a trilogy, or better yet, add even more stories beyond that. If she does, I’ll be first in line for each new book.
Definitely another add to your must read list.
Review for: The Postgirl (Coronado Island Book 1)
By: Silvi Martin
Rating: 5 stars
The Postgirl is a Contemporary Romance novel and is the first book in a two book series. For me, there were two things that immediately caught my attention. First, the title and cover picture and second the words “Coronado Island.”
The title The Postgirl immediately intrigued me: a romance novel featuring a postgirl. What a unique idea! But it was the cover picture and Coronado Island series that sealed the deal. You see, I live in San Diego and love books where I can picture places the characters go, and honestly, see how well the author describes places I know.
Within the first few pages I was bitten as Silvi had me walking along side Juli, the post girl, on streets I knew. Then, delivering mail to Eric, the hermit author who lived in a house I’ve actually seen many times.
Okay, so she had me before she even started developing a plot. What can I say. I love where I live and I love it even more when an author describes everything so that I want to drive across the bridge and spend the day on the island. But I didn’t need to do that. I could walk the streets and take in the scenes she brought to life and so beautifully described without leaving my couch!
But, the Postgirl is not just familiar scenery. It is a wonderfully written romance story about two completely different people, from different lives, from different worlds really. Yet somehow, life keeps throwing them at each other, until he finally realizes she’s much more than just a pretty mail carrier and she realizes there’s more to the introverted author than meets the eye.
Add to that several weird, crazy but lovable neighbors and family members and you have a romance story that will have you turning page after page to see what happens next.
For me, I turned pages until I was in Book 2. Yes, before I knew it, I was at the end of The Postgirl and frankly, mad that it had ended. So, it was off to book 2, The News Girl: which I blew through too. (But that’s the subject of another 5 star review.)
I found The Postgirl to be an outstanding romance story. Silvi has done an excellent job of developing characters that are not only real but that you can’t help but like and cheer for. Throw in some of the best location descriptions that will have you wanting to visit Coronado Island and you have a wonderful novel.
A highly recommended, wonderfully written and easy to read romance novel that should definitely be on your must read list.
Review for: Holy Crap! The World is Ending
By: Anna-Marie Abell
Rating: 5 Stars
I’ll start my review with my usual disclaimer: I am not a fan of Sci Fi. Then I’ll add that Anna-Marie’s book did nothing to make me a fan of Sci Fi. It did however make me a huge fan of Anna-Marie’s writing. Considering it’s her first book, with a genre I don’t usually read, that’s saying something.
Many of the posted reviews have described the story in quit a bit of detail so I’ll not go there. I will say I found the story line to be completely unique and unlike so many Sci Fi plots, very believable. As a matter of fact, the more I read the more I thought this could really be true! It all fits nicely and makes sense. (Unlike so many Sci Fi stories.)
I also found Holy Crap to be a wonderful, refreshing, non-serious look at life and extremely funny. It had me laughing out loud on about every other page and shaking my head on the one’s in between. I honestly think Anna-Marie used every corny, trite, cliché and bromidic phrase ever created and, invented almost as many new ones.
Then there’s the foodie part. OMG! Once I got to the grilled cheese sandwich analogy, I was bitten. (That still has me chuckling and I’m definitely going to steal that and several other lines.) I’m also certain I gained at least ten pounds while reading Holy Crap! Well, up until I threw up when they did the Twinkie binge.
So, I’ll add my “Definitely a must read that will brighten your day (and night) and have you laughing out loud from cover to cover.” Oops, I should add a warning: Do not read Holy Crap in public, unless you want a lot of attention and don’t mind explaining why you keep laughing so much.
Nice going Anna-Marie and I can’t wait for book 2; which I’ll purchase right after my diet!
Review for: Through Streets Broad and Narrow
By: Gemma Jackson
Rating 5 stars
Through Streets Broad and Narrow is an Irish Historical Fiction story that takes place in Dublin in 1925. The story centers around Ivy Rose Murphy, a young woman just out of her teens, left alone in the tenements after her drunken, abusive father drowns in a trough after stumbling out of the pub.
But Ivy is already a survivor, having been abandoned by the mother and brothers years earlier. Suddenly, she’s now free to lead her life as she wishes instead of being forced to conform to her father’s strict rules and turn over everything she earns to him. Now, she realizes, she’s free to educate herself and improve her life.
In dealing with disposing of her father’s body at the morgue, she is befriended by Ann Marie, a woman of wealth. Ann Marie is instantly fascinated by Ivy and the nearby world that is so different from the one she lives in. And how can Ivy possibly survive collecting discards, repurposing them, then selling them in the markets of Dublin?
Disguised so she won’t stand out in the tenements, Ann Marie soon sees that everyone there, especially Jem Ryan, the owner of the livery, look to Ivy for her wisdom, strength and determination.
As Ivy rebuilds her life in this wonderful story, you’ll find yourself cheering for her and wanting to help her escape from the poverty and the only life she’s ever known. But, is she ready? Is she prepared to move into Ann Marie’s world? You’ll just have to read Through Streets Broad and Narrow to find out.
Not only is this book (And the series since I’m half way through book 2.) exceptionally well written, for me I loved reading about the streets and places in Dublin I had only weeks before visited. That and the wonderful use Irish slang from the tenements, made the story so much more real.
A very well written story that will pull you in, tear at your heart strings one minute, then have you cheering for Ivy the next. A must read, especially if you like Irish history and a well written story.
Review for: The Alter Girl: A Prequel (The Nadia Tesla Series)
By: Orest Stelmach
Rating: 3 Stars
The Alter Girl is a Mystery, Crime, Thriller story that centers around Nadia, the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants. Raised in a Ukrainian neighborhood, she was brought up under a strict set of old country values and rules. Namely, that family comes first, no matter what, and you never rat out someone from the neighborhood, no matter what; unless they’re not Uke.
When her godfather dies under mysterious circumstances, shortly after she loses her job, she decides to investigate his death. This takes her back to the old neighborhood where she’s met with obstacles and threats, not only from those she grew up with but from her own family.
While I was raised in a similar neighborhood, I could easily relate to parts of the story. However, overall, I found the action of most of the characters, especially Nadia, to be extremely hard to believe. And, as a sleuth, Nadia was impossible to believe.
Perhaps because of my background, that left me reading a cute, hard to believe crime, mystery thriller without much mystery or thrill and a whole bunch of crime. So, the story was worth finishing but, in the end, just okay.
A no surprise story line with nicely developed but hard to believe characters.
Just okay. Recommended if you’ve got nothing else to read.
Review for: To Walk With Spiders
By: Hannah Richter
Rating: 4 Stars
To Walk With Spiders is a new adult fantasy novella. It is also Hannah Richter’s first book.
The first thing that will become obvious when you start reading is Hanna’s outstanding writing skills. Part way into the first chapter, she will pull you in with not only an excellent story, but her outstanding character and scene descriptions.
Shiloh, the lead female character, will be the first to capture your heart and will rapidly be followed by Luca. Luca, who she wakes up and runs into on the beach after apparently being washed overboard during a storm.
As the two of them begin their journey through a world completely new to Shiloh, she learns to trust and put her fate, and life, in Luca’s hands. Luca too, finds himself fascinated and attracted to this girl from another world as the two of them journey to Luca’s village.
Making their way through this strange land, they learn about each other and each of their worlds; finally, ending up in the fortress village that he lives in. And, stepping into the middle of a struggle between regional powers vying for control.
I’ll leave the remainder of this captivating story for you to discover as Hannah pulls you in deeper and deeper with each chapter.
An excellently written story, with wonderful characters, that you’ll truly enjoy reading.
So, why four stars? Primarily for spacing issues throughout the book, especially whenever italics are used. For some reason, the italicized paragraphs lost word spacing, making them difficult to read in some cases. This was likely due to conversion when the text was downloaded and converted to ebook format. Even still, it should have been caught. The second item was the title, and its tie to the story, which totally confused me till the very end. Even then, I’m not sure I got the connection.
An excellent story, well worth reading, in spite of it’s minor problems
Review for: The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World
By: Kristen Rockaway
Rating: 5 Stars
The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World is a contemporary romance novel.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me when I started reading it was that it’s Kristen’s first book. Why? Because it is excellently written, with characters you’ll love and descriptions of places you’ll want to go to. All the sign of an author who has been writing for a while.
From the very beginning you’ll identify with Sophie, the book’s main character. Then a chapter or two into the story, you’ll realize there are two Sophie’s. Sophie the planner; who inspects every possible path her life can take and plots and plans everything she needs to do to get to her goals.
The second is Sophie the wild one, who she doesn’t even know exists until she meets Carson. Carson, who sees her wild side and sets it free while they run around Hong Kong together for a week. But more importantly, he awakens her to the fact that up till now, she’s not been seeing the world but only collecting passport stamps.
I’ll stop here because I don’t want to give away any of the plot. Once again because Kristen has done an excellent job weaving small details into it that each have a message. Especially if you love to travel.
Which brings me back to my first point. As an author of romance novels and world traveler, I am in awe of Kristen’s talent. No one should be this good with their first novel, but she is. Her character development will have you cheering for Sophie, and Carson at every plot twist and turn and her descriptions of the places they go will have you checking airline fares.
An excellently written, easy to read, first book that I know you’ll love, from an author who I will definitely follow.
A definite add to your “Must Read List”.
Review for: The Gold Son
By: Carrie Anne Noble
Rating: 5 Stars
With The Gold Son, Carrie Anne Noble has sealed her fate as my idol. She’s not turned me into a fantasy lover but she certainly has turned me into a lover of everything she writes. When I grow up as a writer, not likely to happen, but if it does, I want to be just like her. Well, make that, write like her.
When I read the Mermaids Sister, I was immediately impressed with Carrie Anne’s ability to add details into every scene and event that made you feel like you were there, standing in the middle of whatever she was describing. Feeling the sun on your face. The elixir flowing down your throat as her character drank it. The spell being cast coming over you.
And now, here I am again. Cherishing her every word. Her every description and falling in love with the way she writes all over again.
When I was in the middle of writing my first book, I read the Mermaids Sister and it caused me to go back and enhance so much of what I’d written. Carrie Anne made me see writing in a whole new way. A way that made me put myself in each scene, so I could describe it from the inside. Not as an observer but as someone feeling it, living it.
Now, with The Gold Son, I’m once again in the middle of writing another novel and she not only reminded me to live what I’m writing but to dream it. Too dream about what I want to happen next. To capture the feelings of my characters, carry them with my writing and pass them to my readers so they too can feel them.
I’m deliberately not providing much in the way of a description of the story in The Gold Son. I’ll leave that up to what’s provided on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you’ve found Carrie Anne’s book.
What I do hope to provide is my opinion of The Gold Son, as not only a reader, but as a writer. But, that it turns out is not easily done because Carrie Anne Noble’s writing is in a class all by itself. On a scale of one to five stars, she’s somewhere around fifteen; for both The Gold Son and The Mermaids Sister.
So, if you love fantasy, The Gold Son is a must read. If you don’t like fantasy, The Gold Son is a must read. If you just love to read, The Gold Son is a must read. If you don’t like to read, The Gold Son will make a reader out of you.
My rating: Fifteen stars and truly one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Review for: Haven River
By: Casey Fae Hawson
Rating: 5 Stars
Haven River is a heartwarming, Young/New Adult Romance story. The story centers around a family of five brothers: Twins, Luke and Quinn, youngest brother Braydon, second eldest, Marcus and, keeper of the family and eldest brother, Ryan.
Having lost their parents in an accident, Ryan has become the strict disciplinarian necessary to take over responsibility for the family and raise his four brothers. This of course, more often than not, makes him the bad guy.
But it is Luke who the story is really about. Luke, who most often clashes with Ryan. Luke, the odd one, the one who wants to be a writer. Luke, who other than Quinn, none of them can relate to; especially Ryan.
Luke: The one you will fall in love with somewhere around page five!
That is, until he meets Jamie. Jamie, who not only believes in him but defends his being different and desperately tries to make Ryan understand that Luke is wonderfully talented, just in a different way.
For fear of giving something away, I’ll not say anything more about this straight forward, but wonderful plot that will pull you in from the very beginning. And, as it does, unless you have no heart, you’ll fall madly in love with Luke and Jamie and find yourself cheering them on with each page turn.
So, all of that is the good stuff. The bad stuff (?) is that there is a lot of British grammar and New Zealand regional slang that may confuse some readers. For, me, this only enhanced the story but, for others, it may appear to be poor grammar usage and, in some cases, a challenge to figure out what some things are. However, trust me, you’ll figure it out and want to keep reading to see how things turn out.
My recommendation: A warm, well written romance story that should be added to your “want to read” list.
Review for: Lightning Flash I, II, and III, Polar Opposites, and Notes to Self
Review for: Lightning Flash I, II, and III, Polar Opposites, and Notes to Self
By: Valerie Runyan
I had the wonderful pleasure of beta reading for Valerie before she published any of her work. Since then, I have read each of her pieces as she’s published them and promised myself I would do a review.
But am I really qualified to review her work? I’m not sure I am. But, I know I have to. I owe her that for several reasons: First for believing and trusting in me enough to critique her work (Which I’m not sure I will ever be talented enough to deserve). Second, for making me see things I never would have seen without her pointing them out. And finally, for making me a better author by compelling me to step back and look at everything I see and write, through different eyes.
And so, here I am, proud to be her first review, but uncertain if I can possible do her work justice.
Lightning Flash I, II and III is a collection of observations, thoughts, feelings, and emotions about everyday things in life. In Polar Opposites, and Notes to Self, Valerie lets us into her head, and her wonderful, crazy, right side up, upside down, happy, terrifying and sometimes painful life, as she shares her emotions. Emotions that will rock you and jerk you from laughing out loud one minute to wiping tears from your cheeks the next.
In all three sets of work, she will have your sitting in awe of her ability to see things we take for granted or walk past without seeing, every day. She will shed light on feelings and emotions on such silly things as “Shoes”. Give new meaning to the term “Best Friend”. Force you to look into yourself and analyze feelings you know are there but are afraid to confront. Let you be comfortable facing your fears, as she does. Laugh with her, cry with her, be amazed by her intelligence and shake your head wondering how she can be so stupid at times.
I can go on and on but none of the words I can come up with will do her work justice. She is simply light years ahead of me. But, that’s another thing she’s taught me. To look into yourself and strive to be as good as you can. It’s all in there. You just need to find it.
I urge you to read each of Valerie’s pieces. I promise you will not be disappointed and each will provide insight into a different part of life.
I’ll close with the best complement I can think of: Valerie is the most talented writer I have ever read.
I reviewed Aqua Bay a short time ago but this is a new review posted by my wife, Sheryl. Enjoy.
Review of Aqua Bay
by Casey Hewson.
Aqua Bay is listed under Contemporary Romance and normally I’m not a fan of romance novels. I am, however, an environmentalist and was attracted by the potential link to environmental issues. So, though somewhat skeptical, I took a chance.
Nerissa, the book’s main character lives in Aqua Bay. She seems to have a very clear view of her future. but comes to struggle with her values when her idyllic little piece of heaven is threatened by big oil business representative Jackson and the knowledge that she will have to leave Aqua Bay for city life after her marriage to Scott. Thus, leaving behind an uncertain future for her beloved dolphins
No spoiler here but, Nerissa’s lifestyle as an eco tour guide takes several dramatic (sometimes funny, sometimes sad) turns as she deals with practical, economic and emotional issues that keep the reader’s interest.
Aqua Bay is a pleasant surprise for those who enjoy solid character development along with a story topic that is well researched. The author demonstrates a good knowledge on the subject matter and I learned something about dolphin ecology. Yet, the tone of the story is not bleeding heart “save the planet” stuff. It is factual and believable.
Sounds trite but, Aqua Bay is a real page turner. Nor is it typical for me to write a review.
Review for: Unbroken
By: Madeleine Black
Rating: 5 Stars
In the acknowledgement section of Unbroken, Madeleine Black refers to it as her memoir. Amazon also lists it as a memoir but, if a book ever deserved its own category, this is it. Were it up to me, I would start with: Messages that everyone must read. Whatever category you care to put it in, mandatory reading for men, women and, especially parents, needs to be added.
The cover of the book will quickly tell you that it is the story of the author’s life. Of her being beaten, abused, raped and nearly killed. But, more importantly, it is the story of her survival, of her reclaiming hope, her life and a future.
As the author of a trilogy dealing with young women rescued from the sex trade, I know how hard it is to write about the traumatic experiences they undergo yet, allow them to maintain their dignity. To let their true selves shine through the evil they’ve endured. To describe their struggle to rebuild their lives, to reestablish their belief in themselves. To make the people who molest them understand how easily their actions can destroy a life.
While I read through what happened to Madeleine I cried. Partly because I’d been there twice before, first with a friend and then with my main character. But, mainly because, once again, I found myself asking how can someone, anyone, do that to another human being? How can anyone so recklessly try to stamp out the flame of someone’s life and not realize what they are doing?
I’ll climb off of my soap box, for now, and get back to my review.
I am certainly no expert but, as an author, I’m in awe of Madeline’s writing. Her ability to make you picture and feel what she is writing about is beyond outstanding. And, Unbroken is no doubt, the best first book I have ever read.
I’ve one last point to make. Perhaps because my books deal primarily with support and friendship, I need to single out Madeline’s husband, Steven, as the unsung hero of her story. His trust, belief, support and pure, unquestioning love for her, even when he had no idea what had happened to her, places him in the sainthood category for me. If you’re a male (husband or not) and wish to model yourself after someone, I strongly suggest Steven.
Which leads me into my summary. Anyone raising a child needs to read Unbroken and impress upon their children the need to treat each other with respect and kindness. To emphasize the impact that a careless or selfish moment can have on their, or someone else’s life.
My rating? Outstandingly written with Messages that everyone must read.