“A Fallacious Seduction” and “Catching Rose”(Calhan Brides) by Virginia Barlow (2 Book Spotlight)

Winner of The Crowned Heart of Excellence by InD’tale Magazine!
Nominated for Book of the Year by InD’tale Magazine 2021!
Nominated for Book of the Year by N.N. Light’s Book Heaven 2021!

 

A sassy heroine and an alpha lawman clash in an epic tale of mistaken identity by the author of The Wicked Sister!
When the train US Marshal Reese Calhan is riding on explodes, he is one of two survivors. Trouble is, the other survivor is the woman who betrayed him years ago. A woman he thought was dead. This time he will not fall prey to her wiles. He’ll see the vixen jailed for her crimes if it kills him.

Recovering from a recent jilting and now a train explosion, Shanna Johnston has no idea why the handsome stranger insists he knows her and calls her by another woman’s name. His heated looks and knowing kisses spark a fire in her she cannot ignore–even as her own mysterious past is closing in.

Will the two put their differences aside long enough to fall in love?

Purchase A Fallacious Seduction today and find out what happens next!

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Rose Tanner dreamed of a fairytale wedding her whole life. But when her prince leaves her at the altar, she wants to know why. Traveling to Texas for answers she finds more than she bargained for. Captured by a human trafficking ring, she fights for freedom. Risking her life to help the other women with her, she discovers there’s more to happy ever after than she thought.

Texas Ranger Chase Calhan wants one thing, to capture El Diablo’s men so he can marry Rose. When they get to her first, he races against time to catch Rose before it’s too late.

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Meet the Author

I love being an author. It’s all about where your characters lead you. I start with a general idea. As the story unfolds I type as fast as I can in hopes I keep up with my characters.They have had me jotting on napkins, making notes while I’m waiting in a line, and waking me up in the middle of the night. The hard part is always the ending. My characters live with me and when I reach the end of the story, it is hard to say goodbye.Sometimes I let the story sit for a few days to make sure I’m okay with them leaving home to get published. Kind of like when you kids move out. LOL

I enjoy my grandchildren, and the time I share with them. They make me smile with their antics. I like to quilt, crochet, knit and sew. Cooking and baking are occasional itches I scratch. The rest of the time, they are necessary evils. LOL.

My greatest support comes from my husband. He has been my sounding board for all my stories. My daughters are also a great support to me. I couldn’t do it without my family.

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Roofus the Rooster Shouted Cock-A-Doodle-Do All Day Long by JoAnn Hazeldene (Book Review)

Is Roofus’s love for crowing annoying to others?

Young children will enjoy and identify with Roofus the rooster. Roofus struggles with how others perceive him. He demonstrates emotional intelligence byidentifying and managing his own emotions as well as recognizing the emotions of others.This book encourages children to empathize with others and to compromise while maintaining a positive self-concept.

This easy-reader draws in the audience using repetition and language patterns, within a fun and interactive sing-song poem. The story introduces literary concepts such as plot, onomatopoeias, syntax, and prepositional phases. Children will not only interact with the print but actively participate in the story. The animal sounds are color coded for easy prereader participation. Parents and teachers will want to act out the story using movement and sounds.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

Roofus the Rooster Shouted Cock-a-doodle-do All Day Long is a silly storybook encouraging viewer participation. 

If you live on a farm or have visited one, you know that some animals are very vocal. Roosters, for instance, love to greet the day, but their cock-a-doodle-doos do not stop when the sun is at its highest point. Like in real life, the rooster in the story shouted hello at first light and several other points in the day. 

First, the rooster woke the farmer, who told the bird, “Shhh!” Then, it moved to the fenced-in area where the rooster’s bellowing hello scared four horses. The rooster also startled several birds on a electrical line and annoyed a fluffy white cat. The rooster visited other animals, each having similar facial expressions to the loud cock-a doodle-doo. While the rooster didn’t think twice about his loud vocals, others did not appreciate his loud squawking. 

Readers will see a reaction written in bold, colorful letters at each pitstop. These reactions will repeat, in order, at the next location. For example, when the farmer said, “Shhh,” the word was repeated on stop two under the new sound: “Bang clang, shhh.” The story structure promotes child involvement, prediction, and memorization. The simple, repetitive text makes this story perfect for beginning readers. 

Roofus the Rooster Shouted Cock-a-doodle-do All Day Long is a wonderful book with humorous illustrations and predictable text. Parents and educators can use the book to teach toddlers their animal names or sounds. It can used as a starter book for young readers. 

Adult readers might notice the drawings looked pixelated. Children six years and younger will not notice or care about the graininess. The text was crystal clear, though!

 I recommend Roofus the Rooster Shouted Cock-a-doodle-do All Day Long to babies-first grade.  

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:  ❤❤❤❤

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Meet the Author

I am an elementary school teacher turned author. I love to read books to children, and I have an appreciation of what makes for a good read-a-loud story. I love sharing stories with children that are fun and intriguing.

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My Trip to the Hair Salon by Neda Koljuskov (Book Review)

Join Timmy on his journey through getting a haircut at a children’s hair salon! This picture book story, written by an experienced children’s hairstylist, aims to help you and your little one overcome commonly encountered struggles with this small yet important milestone!

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

Timmy awakens with enthusiasm. Why? It’s his best friend’s birthday, and she’s having a big party with all her classmates! Timmy is noticeably excited about picking out a present for the party; however, he’s less than enthusiastic about stopping at a salon for a haircut. Children have mixed reactions to haircuts, especially on their first-ever visit. Timmy shares his concerns with his parents. He asks if they, meaning the stylist, will cut him. A practical question and one your child might be asking themselves. Even though Timmy doesn’t feel he needs his hair trimmed, his shaggy mane blinds him, causing a collision with his adorable canine companion, Buster. So, off to the salon they go!

Fear of the unknown can cause anxiety, panic attacks, or (depending on age) tantrums. Timmy has no idea what to expect, and the uncertainty manifests in tears, with the young boy repeatedly telling his parent he does not need a haircut. 

Thankfully, salons have transformed over the years. When I was a kid, each one I entered looked the same. The same style of chairs is positioned along a wall, facing a large mirror. But as the years passed, I noticed more salons opening designed especially for children. When Timmy entered the kid-themed hair salon, his fear vanished. No stuffy chairs here! Instead, it was like a magical wonderland filled with toys, cartoons playing on multiple TVs, and chairs that looked like they belonged in an amusement park. 

The chairs and the cartoons were a great distraction, but they didn’t eradicate all Timmy’s fears. Soon, he remembered why he was there. The snipping of the scissors and the buzzing clipper can scare little kids. It sure did for Timmy. Even though the salon had all the fancy bells and whistles, I loved how the writer demonstrated the importance of a patient, friendly hairdresser. 

Children will have many milestones in life; I recommend reading this book to your kid(s) and (hopefully) easing any fears regarding their first haircut.  

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤❤❤

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Meet the Author

My mom has been a hairstylist for over 20 years, most of this time at a children’s hair salon. In her experience, she’s been in countless situations where kids are terrified of getting their hair cut. This inspired her to start us on this journey of writing this children’s picture book!

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The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR by J. A. Merkel (Book Review)

Benji and Soren will do anything to save their family, but the Crown isn’t going to make it easy . . .

Ten years after his mother was thrown into her off-world prison, Benji finally has a chance to save her. All he has to do is win the Fall Gauntlet, a fight-to-the-death tournament on the planet of Calypso, designed to please the gods and goddesses and keep them at bay. Benji’s success will usher in a new era of science and innovation, and he’s come too far to lose now.

But the Crown is three steps ahead. They’ve orchestrated every move, pushing Benji to the victory that will serve their own agenda. Winning the deathmatch will grant his wish to save his mother, but the Crown has other plans and won’t let go of Benji so easily.

As Benji learns the truth about the Crown’s desires, he is forced to make impossible choices, especially when he learns that his final opponent—the hulking young man behind the bear mask—is his brother, Soren.

J.A. Merkel’s Bear is part of The Fall Gauntlet, a collection of short stories about Benji and Soren’s adventures on the planet of Calypso.


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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

Ten years ago, the Crown imprisoned Soren and Benji’s mother for treason. Seven years ago, the Crown jailed their father and separated the two brothers. Now, the Crown is forcing Soren and Benji to fight in the Fall Gauntlet tournament, where only one will win, or so that was the Crown’s plan. 

Thanks to D, a guard, Benji was notified his opponent was none other than his brother, Soren the Bear. Benji could never take his brother’s life and had to devise a way to unveil his identity to Soren. Representing the lynx, Benji was a genius when it came to technology. Through his apprenticeship with Master Gherus, he furthered his understanding of the principles of physics and helped develop weaponry and tech for the Crown. He used his knowledge to find a way to break the technologically advanced mask he wore in battle and turn the tables on the Crown. 

For sci-fi or tech fans, you’ll love the author’s attention to detail when they describe what the arena sees when looking at the opponents: “two masked humans representing both a bear and a lynx, human-shaped with the ability to walk upright, but phospho-imaged to imitate those beasts, our masks morphing and sprouting hair, and our gauntlets growing retractable claws and fur.” The platform is impressive, as intimidating as the opponent standing before you: one hundred feet off the ground with spikes jutting into the air like giant shark teeth as deadly as a Megalodon’s. Fans of this genre will also love the fighter’s two prime weapons. Lynx carried a 6-foot-long gem staff while the Bear wielded a massive spiked club that could slaughter a whale. 

The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR is a non-stop thrill ride featuring exhilarating fight scenes and futuristic tech. It’s a novella I know gamers will want to see made into a game so they can play it for hours and hours. Brother versus brother. It’s a story that would captivate teens and adults on the big screen!

With the humorous final line of dialogue and cliffhanger ending, you’ll be ready to tackle the next book in the series (The Fall Gauntlet: Rat). 

J. A. Merkel is a master of imagery and a terrific storyteller. I recommend giving this new series a chance! 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

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Meet the Author

J. A. Merkel writes speculative and science fiction filled with anti-heroes and tragic reversals. For Merkel, writing isn’t a chore. It’s a fantastical kingdom with thousands of doors where readers can stumble into their own special adventures, laughing, shouting, and journeying to find home.

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Three Little Pigs and The Good Wolf by Avery Smart (Book Review)

In this charming retelling of the classic tale, “The Three Little Pigs and The Good Wolf” the author weaves a delightful narrative filled with whimsy, humor, and unexpected twists. The three little pigs, each with their distinct personalities, set out to build their homes, unaware of the lurking danger posed by the big ‘bad’ wolf.

As the story unfolds, readers are treated to a heartwarming journey of friendship, resilience, and the realization that sometimes, appearances can be deceiving. The author infuses the narrative with valuable life lessons, emphasizing the importance of not judging others based on preconceived notions. The unexpected alliance between the pigs and the wolf adds a unique and refreshing twist to the familiar fable, making this book a captivating read.

The storytelling is complemented by vibrant illustrations that bring the characters and their world to life. The author’s vivid descriptions and engaging dialogue capture the imagination, making it an ideal bedtime or classroom read. Beyond the surface-level narrative, the book encourages readers to reflect on themes of empathy, kindness, and the potential for unlikely friendships. It’s a must-read for those seeking a fresh perspective on a beloved classic.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

Most of us know the classic children’s story The Three Little Pigs. In it, the wolf intentionally blows down the piglets’ homes made of straw and sticks and attempts to knock down the brick house as well. The famous wolf is labeled a villain for good reason. Readers will be introduced to a more thoughtful animal in Three Little Pigs and The Good Wolf. Children will discover this wolf is a sweet, caring canine, not a scary beast. 

This story contains some elements that the original fable possessed. Three pigs do go off to build their homes from the same materials found in the famed edition. A wolf goes to each home and asks to come inside. However, this wolf didn’t huff, puff, and knock down their homes with sinister intentions. He did not want to make them his late-night snack. Yes, he accidentally dismantled the straw and stick home. He tried to extinguish a fire, not cause the straw structure to fall. The stick home tumbled down, too, but again, the wolf didn’t have food on the brain. No, he had an important story and item to share! 

The three little pigs judged the wolf by his outward appearance. They reacted based on old fairytales and didn’t think twice about giving the wolf the benefit of the doubt. They were filled with shame once they realized the error in their ways. This was not an angry, hungry beast wanting to satisfy his hunger; it was just a friendly animal trying to do the right thing. The wolf found something that didn’t belong to him and wanted to return it to its rightful owner: the three pigs’ grandma. 

This story teaches valuable lessons. One, don’t judge a book by its cover. Second, friends come in all sizes, colors, and forms. Lastly, don’t be quick to dismiss someone. Listen and be kind. 

The artwork was out of this world! I can’t rave enough about it. The artist did a masterful job updating the piggies’ look from the famed story we’ve grown accustomed to. I loved how expressive their faces became, especially when the wolf came knockin’, or the oinkers went a runnin’. The artist didn’t stop with the three little pigs; they painted many emotions on the wolf’s face, showing a softer and friendlier side of the famous, menacing, canine breed. While I loved the illustrator’s skill, the text sometimes became muddled. On occasion, the background overpowered the text in the foreground. Despite that, I highly recommend sharing this story with your family or class!  

Amazon’s recommended reading age is baby-5 years. I would change that scale to 2-6 year olds. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Meet the Author

Avery Smart, a vibrant author who resides in the heart of the lively family chaos with her three energetic kids. Nestled in the midst of parenting, she channels her passion for nurturing well-mannered children into delightful tales.

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