Tag Archives: fiction

Review of “You Wish” – Mark Scott Piper

Imagine you are granted three wishes—and your second wish is captured by a television news crew and broadcast across the globe. Now the whole world knows you can wish for absolutely anything, and it will come true. Now imagine you’re fourteen years old…

Jake Parker is about to finish the freshman year of what’s shaping up to be a mediocre high school career. He’s a late bloomer. His family is living hand-to-mouth. And worst of all, he’s a nobody—until he discovers an ancient ship’s lantern. With everyone on the planet watching to see what Jake’s final wish will be, he becomes an instant media darling, and his social status at school skyrockets. That’s the good news.

The bad news is pressure is bearing down on Jake from family, public opinion, the media, government agents, and crooked politicians as he struggles to come up with a final wish that will truly help mankind. But if he’s going to pull that off, he has to outsmart them all.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

At a very young age, we all start making wishes. Whether we are sitting behind a birthday cake’s candle or looking up at the night sky, we think of what we want most and hope our wish or wishes come true.

In You Wish, Jake finds an old ship’s lantern and discoveries it has the power to grant wishes. The catch: You can’t say the wish out loud or disclose your wish. If you do, the wish is recanted.

Like Jake, I think many of us would accidentally wish for something ridiculous. This magical blunder could really happen…if magic really existed.

As for Jake’s other wishes: The second one was caught on camera, viewed by onlookers and broadcasted around the globe. The repercussions were instant. Jake’s life was turned upside down. All eyes were on him to see what he’d wish for next. Many people had insights what he should wish for and the consequences of said wish(es).

End world hunger, cure cancer, world peace, wealth… Jake had so many suggestions thrown at him including one from the President of the United States. The POTUS’ wish was absolutely something I could see our current President asking for because he’s… well, I won’t tarnish this review by stating my feelings on the current White House resident.

When the world is watching your every move, the level of stress to make the right choice must be astronomical. I wouldn’t want to be in Jake’s shoes. I must reiterate, Jake’s life wasn’t his own anymore. Even his family was impacted by Jake’s sudden fame.

It’s nice to think about what if I had three wishes, but in actuality, I wouldn’t want three wishes because it’s too much pressure. However, it was NO pressure getting through this story. This book is worth reading whether you are a teenager, an older individual, or somewhere in between. So, pick it up and start reading it today!

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:  ❤❤❤❤

 

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Mark Scott Piper has been writing professionally his entire adult life. He is a longtime freelance writer and video director/producer. Mark holds an MA and a PhD in English from the University of Oregon, and he has taught literature and writing at the college level for several years.

Mark’s bookshelves are overflowing. Among his favorites are Christopher Moore, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen Crane, William Faulkner, Tony Hillerman, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Anne Lamott–all of whom successfully conspire to keep him humble.

Mark has written four novels, three screenplays and more than 16 short stories. You Wish is his debut novel.

His stories have appeared in Short Story America, The California Writers Club Literary Review, and online literary magazines, including, Scrutiny, Writing Raw, Animal, Slurve, and others. In addition, two of his short stories have been Honorable Mention selections in Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction contests.

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Review of “Entangled Lives” – Imran Omer

Raza, a poor orphan trapped in the slums of Pakistan, is sent to a strict madrassah where he meets and falls in love with Perveen. They attempt to flee the city to escape their respective fates but fail. Perveen, pregnant, is sent back to her family, and Raza is sent to Afghanistan to fight as a Taliban solider. American journalist, Rachael Brown, travels to Afghanistan to cover the political unrest. When she meets Raza for a brief interview, she sees for the first time the true face of the Taliban: poor and desperate young men with nowhere else to go. As the war unfolds, their paths cross again, and each must decide what they owe the other.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

I want to begin this review by stating that when Imran Omer contacted me to read Entangled Lives I was very upfront about my initial thoughts based off the book summary. I said the following to him…. “It’s not my typical read but I am willing to give it a chance.”

As you read my review below, I think you’ll see I was fair and honest. I may not like the subject matter but he did give more insight into a world I’m not overly familiar with.

 

 

War has always been a part of human existence. People fight for money, for power, or to be the dominant force over mankind. Yes, most individuals join the fight out of their own free will. However, some people are forced to pick up a weapon because they either kill or be killed for their defiance.

In Entangled Lives, Imran Omer (the author) allowed readers to see the harsh reality many men, women, and children face in their war-torn country. They are beaten, maimed, killed, and left without many options. They witness death. They live in constant fear for their lives. No place is safe…. not even their homes.

I live in the United States. While we have violence and mass shootings, we still have many freedoms where the people of Afghanistan seem to have none.

I think Imran Omer’s intent with this book was to make us feel empathy for the people of Afghanistan. I think he wanted us to see not all the soldiers want to fight; that some soldiers do have a merciful heart.

While I can appreciate his effort, it’s hard for me to associate the Taliban with anything but violence, death, and destruction. I did feel compassion for all the innocent people in the line of fire or those affected by the ongoing war.

 

 

Now that I spoke upon the contents of the story, I will address the way it was delivered. At times, Imran transitioned from event to event smoothly. Case in point, the diary entries were integrated nicely. On the other hand, the transitions from Raza’s story to Rachel’s didn’t always blend well. As the story progressed, the flow became choppy and sections felt rushed. I did knock some points off for how the book was laid out but not on the contents. I may not like the subject matter but Imran did a good job relaying how harsh the conditions are over in Afghanistan.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤

 

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Imran was born in Karachi and studied in Karachi and Chicago. A graduate of the University of Illinois and American College of Education, Imran teaches Art and English as a Second Language (ESL). He has taught in the United States, Oman and Saudi Arabia. He loves teaching but his passion lies in painting and writing. His artwork and some of his articles can be seen at www.imranomerart.com He resides in Homewood, Illinois.

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Review of “Dead, White, and Blue: The Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series Book 2” – Amy M. Reade

Summer is getting hotter in Juniper Junction, Colorado.

There’s a firebug on the loose, the townspeople are nervous, and Lilly Carlsen, single mom to two teenagers, has even more to worry about. She’s in charge of the Independence Day celebration, her mother’s mental health is declining, and her son is getting ready to leave for college.

But things are about to get even hotter: when a bistro owner dies at the celebration and Lilly’s best friend is charged with murder, events start hitting close to home. It’s up to Lilly to help clear her friend’s name while at the same time dealing her mom’s worsening forgetfulness as well as a coming-of-age issue under her own roof.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Dead, White, and Blue was jam-packed with relatable scenarios and characters. I’ve touched on a few of them below. 

 

1.) Secretive children: The older your children become the less you are aware of what they are doing. They say they are going one place but actually end up in another. And underage drinking….. it happens everyday and children should be punished for it. I respect how Lilly handled the situation. You just can’t let things like that slide.

 

2.) Dementia: According to alz.org, it affects your memory, communication and language, ability to pay attention and focus, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception. Amy addressed all the symptoms. Plus, she gave realistic reactions and thoughts regarding Dementia. In fact, Tighe delivered the most powerful response when him and his mom, Lilly, were discussing Bev (Dementia sufferer). Below is a condensed version of that conversation.

 

Lilly regarding Bev, her mother: “She’s strong and healthy, with the exception of her mind.” 

Tighe: “That’s the worst part, don’t you think? Her body will keep living while her mind dies.”

 

I can’t fathom anyone not be affected by his words…….

 

 

3.) Wrongfully accused of a crime: The news is littered with cases of people arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. The accused swears they are innocent. Friends and family stand firm the accused couldn’t have done it. But, the police arrest them anyways. Sometimes the accused is guilty BUT everyday we discover innocent people are behind bars and guilty of nothing. In Dead, White, and Blue, Noley is accused of using cyanide to murder Cerise and Lilly vows to clear Noley’s name. Again, I can’t personally relate to this predicament but I know others can. Cases like these are always in the news, and most times the innocent don’t walk away free.

 

 

Now onto my thoughts regarding the two investigations: the arsonist and the real murderer.

Murder mystery: I figured out who the murderer was but I was only partly right on the why.

Firebug mystery: The arsonist’s identity escaped me. I knew certain people were too obvious of a choice and was pleased to see I was right about their innocence. As for who actually started the fires and why, I will say the perp’s reasoning for setting the fires was totally plausible. Actually, I’m pretty sure if I do an Internet search I’d find a news report on such a similar situation.

 

If reading a good mystery wasn’t enough for you, Amy included THREE recipes in the back of the book. I can’t wait to try Noley’s Blueberry Studmuffins. Simple ingredients. Simple directions. Sounds perfect and I bet they will taste heavenly too! 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, community volunteer, and recovering attorney.

She’s also a writer. She is the author of Trudy’s Diary, A Libraries of the World Mystery (Book One: Library of Congress), The Worst Noel (Book One in the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series), The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross), and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade. She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.

Her days are split between writing and marketing her books, but uppermost in her mind is the adage that the best way to market a book is to write another great book.

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Review of “An Angel Came for You” – David J Howell

At the age of twenty-six Sarah only ever wanted the best life for her three-year old son Tommy, and after living four and a half years of hell with Charlie, Tommy’s father, a controlling, abusive and very violent man she manages to escape his grip. 

Now finally free of him, she feels for the first time in Tommy’s short life that she can give him all of her time, love, devotion and the life he deserves but fate has different plans for her.

Somehow she wakes up five years in her past, finding herself back with her first love John, and living back at home with her mum, two years before Tommy’s birth.

Struggling to come to terms with life without Tommy and the guilt she feels for failing him, Sarah needs to figure out why she is trapped in her own past. With nobody to turn to, and with only her faith in her guardian angel to help her, she has to make the almost impossible decision; follow her life path the same way, meet Charlie all over again and relive every painful minute of her abusive life with him so that Tommy will be born, or believe that fate has changed her destiny to give her a second chance with her first love John, the man she always regretted leaving.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

If you’d lived through abuse or are living through it at this very moment, An Angel Came for You will be a difficult story for you to read. David J Howell described the mental and physical abuse in such vivid detail that it made me walk away from the story more than once. I never felt so much pain and empathy for a character in all my life. No one, and I mean no one, should endure what Sarah and Kristy faced on a daily basis.

David was correct; people stay with an abuser for multiple reasons.  The victim stays out of fear, hopelessness, and (most times) for the child(ren). In many cases, the abused choose to end their own life.

Without a doubt, An Angel Came for You will tear you apart emotionally. You might cry. You might get angry. Most importantly, you also might find the courage to get out of your own abusive and toxic relationship.

Despite all the anguish, heartbreaking moments, the book did focus on the love a mother had for her child. It did give individuals hope that life could get better and to keep reaching for their own happily ever after.

I implore anyone in an abusive relationship to seek help; get out now.

Here’s a link https://www.thehotline.org or you can call 1-800-799-7233.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤❤

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You can reach out to David J Howell through his  Twitter Link .

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Author Showcase – Jana Richards (Love at Solace Lake series)

Buy all three stories today!! 

Love is worth the risk…

When their grandfather dies, the Lindquist sisters, Harper, Scarlet and Maggie, inherit the northern Minnesota fishing lodge that had been in their family for three generations. The inheritance is bittersweet. They were raised at the lodge by their grandparents. The natural beauty of the place hasn’t changed, but the building itself is crumbling and desperately in need of repair. The lodge also reminds them of what they lost. Twenty-two years previously, their parents died there in what was ruled a murder/suicide.

As the sisters struggle to breathe new life into the failing lodge, old fears and questions rise to the surface even as new love presents itself. Why did their father murder their mother? What truths did their grandparents keep from them? The sisters must fight to keep the wounds of the past from putting their futures, and their fledgling relationships, in jeopardy.

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~~ Book One ~~

She can’t live with one more lie. He can’t tell the truth. 

Harper Lindquist is convinced she’s found the answer to her financial prayers. Unless she pours cash into crumbling Solace Lake Lodge, she’ll lose her family’s legacy. Her would-be savior arrives in the middle of a Minnesota blizzard and she’s determined to prove to her reluctant, and trapped, financier the lodge is a sound investment. But Harper isn’t completely honest with him. And she has no idea the lake is hiding secrets of its own. 

Ethan James is a liar, but his money is very real. He isn’t convinced a broken-down inn is a smart investment opportunity. But the more he understands Harper’s dreams and desires, the more he wants to be the man to make them come true. The trauma in both their pasts means neither can fully trust the other. They must find the courage to love, to trust, and to accept, or yesterday’s sorrows will keep them apart.

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As she stared into his dark eyes she realized how much she trusted him, and relied on him. That was something rare for her. The only people she trusted as much were her sisters.

I’m in love with him.

The thought blasted through her brain with the force of a tsunami. The tension of the last few weeks, the insecurity, the mistrust, the fear, slipped easily from her shoulders. For the first time, her mind was clear. She was in love with Ethan and she didn’t want to wait anymore. She wanted him. She wanted him to be her first, her last.

Finding courage she didn’t know she possessed, Harper slid off the stool and walked around the island. She plucked the wine glass from his hand and set it on the counter, then placed his hand on her breast. “Make love with me, Ethan.”

A fire lit in his eyes, telling her he wanted her, too. But there was a question there, a hesitation. “Are you sure?”

She’d never been more sure of anything in her life. “Yes.”

“Harper—”

“Shhh. Let’s not talk anymore.” She placed one finger over his lips, then stood on her tiptoes and kissed him.

Ethan’s reaction was lightning swift. He wrapped his arms around her and brought her close, his mouth descending on hers in a wild, warm kiss. Their tongues tangled, slid over each other. She’d missed his touch, his taste. She moaned, and in the sound she heard thirty-two years of longing.

For this. For him.

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~~ Book Two ~~

No matter how deeply buried, secrets rise to the surface.

Scarlett Lindquist has agreed to help her sisters rebuild the dilapidated fishing lodge in Minnesota they inherited from their grandparents. Although the lengthy restoration is bringing the three sisters closer together, Scarlett’s support is temporary. Her leave of absence from her job in Chicago is temporary and she has no intention of staying at Solace Lake Lodge, where the lake holds dark secrets. When frightening childhood memories resurface, they are tempered by her fascination with an irritating contractor. If only she could trust her feelings for him. If only he could trust her.

Cameron Hainstock meets Scarlett at his brother’s wedding to her sister and their attraction is instantaneous. But Cam avoids the beautiful marketing executive. All his efforts are aimed at battling for custody of his only child. When the unimaginable happens and Cam faces the biggest challenge of his life, he’s reluctant to accept help to halt his downward spiral. Can they learn to trust each other and fight for a future together or will they go their separate ways?

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The shock on Scarlet’s face, the disbelief and grief, made him wish he’d kept his mouth shut. The last thing he wanted was to inflict her with the same hell he was going through. He turned away from her, pushing her hand from his arm. “Go home, Scarlet.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” She grabbed his arm again, preventing him from picking up the axe, the tool he’d used to keep himself from reaching for a bottle. “I won’t leave you alone.”

Ignoring the sweat and dirt, she wrapped her arms around his waist and held him tightly, resting her head against his chest. His body stirred to life at her touch, disgusting him. His world was crumbling around him and all he could think was that he wanted to bury himself inside her until she screamed his name.

“Go,” he said roughly. If she was smart, she’d run away and never look back. He was a bad-tempered, recovering alcoholic with nothing to offer her. He wasn’t worth the risk.

She looked up at him, her blue eyes clear and steady. “No. I won’t leave you.”

He pushed her up against the wall of the workshop, not sure if he was trying scare her away or make her stay. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

She shook her head. “You won’t.”

Cam closed his eyes and groaned. He wrapped his arms around her in a vice-like grip, unable to resist her any longer.

God, he needed her.

He lowered his head and kissed her. There was no subtlety in the kiss, no gentleness or finesse. Only passion and raw need. But she stayed with him, returning his passion, giving solace. He greedily lapped it up, taking everything she had to give.

But he wanted, needed more. He lifted her and she wrapped her long, slender legs around his waist. He buried his face against her soft, sweet-smelling neck, inhaling her clean, floral scent. At the same time, he snaked his hand up her thigh and began to pull down her panties.

“Tell me to stop,” he rasped. “Tell me now while I still can.”

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~~ Book Three ~~

The truth could destroy them. Or set them free.

Maggie Lindquist left Solace Lake determined never to return. Circumstances have pulled her back and she’s helping to restore her family’s dilapidated fishing lodge. When she agreed to the plan she didn’t expect to have to work side by side with the man who abandoned her ten years earlier. She didn’t expect to like him, or want him ever again. But can she trust him as she once did?

Luke Carlsson rushes home to tend to his ailing mother. Her lengthy illness means he needs to stay, at least temporarily. And to stay, he needs to work. Solace Lake Lodge offers him a job and an opportunity to work with the woman he’s never stopped loving. But the restoration is unleashing secrets hidden for decades and no one is left unscathed. Especially not Maggie and Luke, whose love needs to be resilient enough to forgive, and strong enough to build a future together.

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A memory flashed through her mind. Luke driving an ancient, mostly rusty Ford pickup to the lodge that summer. He’d worked odd jobs summers and after school for three years to buy it and keep it running. The old Ford had been his pride and joy.

Every chance they got, they’d sneak off in the Ford and park somewhere secluded. They’d been in that truck the first time Luke had kissed her. He’d pulled her toward him and covered her mouth with his, and she’d sworn she’d heard angels singing. And then, her body had gone up in flames in a very unangel-like way. As the summer went on, they’d grown bolder in their explorations. Harper had given her ‘the lecture’ on sex, but she hadn’t prepared her for the way her body would react to Luke’s kisses, or his touch. Like the way her nipples would harden as he caressed her breasts, and the way her panties would dampen. And when he’d reached inside her panties and inserted a finger inside her—

“Are you ready?”

Maggie stared at Luke in incomprehension. And then the present returned with forceful fury. Heat infused her cold cheeks. They were on their way to see his sick mother. Her thoughts shamed her.

She reminded herself that Luke had left her once and would do so again. The heat and her vivid memory dissipated.

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When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

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