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Thursday, September 29, 2016

New Release: Tangled Rose by Renee Duke

I had the pleasure of being a beta reader for Renee Duke's fourth entry in the YA fantasy Time Rose series. It's now available in ebook on Amazon (probably other stores as well).

See my review below the book cover and blurb.

THE TANGLED ROSE
by Renee Duke

On Paige, Dane, and Jack’s fourth time trip, the medallion connects them with children living in Pre-WW II Germany. One, Hani, has Down Syndrome. Another, Nicko, is a gypsy.

The Time Rose Travellers know the Nazi regime will soon begin persecuting such ‘undesirables’, but keeping Hani and Nicko from becoming victims isn’t going to be easy.

Plagued by enemies from their own time, and not even sure who they’re supposed to be helping, they’re meeting with resistance from Nicko, and open hostility from Hani’s sister Marta, an ardent member of the Hitler Youth.

REVIEW

The time-traveling Rose series is one of my favorites in both time-travel and the YA genres. The series has taken us from the Tower of London, to the mudlarks on the Thames, to thousands of years in Canada's First Nation past. In each trip, the cousins, Paige, Dane, and Jack, travel back to become help history flow properly. Their task is to find the child in the past to which they're sent who possesses a match to the Rose amulet which expedites the time traveling.

The Tangled Rose takes us on a time trip to pre-war and Nazi Germany. This is a tough subject. How do you write for kids when you're setting them down in the midst of one of the most horrific times in history. How can the kids find the person who they are meant to help during those perilous times?

The first person they see who has a keeper piece (one of the Rose time travel devices) is a girl with Down Syndrome. She definitely needs help having slipped and hanging perilously off a cliff. A gypsy boy, Niko, helps them rescue Nani. The cousins figure their task may be complete. They've saved a kid in possession of a keeper piece. However, their own amulet doesn't give them the signal that their mission is over.

They discover the keeper piece doesn't belong to the girl they rescued, but to her older sister, Marta. What's worse, Marta has been taken up with the Nazi cause. She's not a pleasant person. She has been indoctrinated into the Nazi ideal. People like her own sister and the gypsy boy who helped rescue her are undesirables. The Third Reich will soon start to eliminate the non-Aryans.

Can the cousins figure out what they're supposed to do to help Marta? Maybe talk her out of being a Jungmädel (Hitler Youth). The cousins decide they need help from Uncle Gareth. Since he had been a piece keeper in his own youth, he can go along on their own time trip to help them figure it out.

Are the time travelers assigned to save Nani, the "defective", Niko, the gypsy, Marta, the obsessed Nazi, or is it somebody else?

I was totally caught up on the historical period in this book in the series. Renee Duke does an excellent job keeping up with both historical accuracy, the fantasy of the time-traveling children, and drawing the reader along into the next book. The hints are there. The kids will be facing their greatest challenge in the next book in the series. I can hardly wait for it to come out.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Free to Read KU/KOLL Ebooks On Amazon

Free with Kindle Unlimited subscription. Free to borrow in Kindle Owners Lending Library. Prices reflect the retail price to buy the book.



Witches of Galdorheim Series (3-Volume Book) $5.99
 Audio books available for all three in the series.

Tales of a Texas Boy $2.99
 Audio book available.

Tales of a Texas Boy - Photo Illustrated $2.99
 Audio book available.

Fish Story: A Three Story Sampler $0.99

Sunday, September 25, 2016

FINAL Free Day for TALES OF A TEXAS BOY

All good things must come to an end. Today is your last chance to grab the free ebook of Tales of a Texas Boy.

If you or a relative grew up in the 20's and 30's, experienced WWII as an adult, and is fond of stories set in rural America, this is a book they will enjoy. Also, it's available in a Large Print paperback and audio book for the vision-impaired.

These are stories about my father. He's passed now, but he took great pleasure reading his almost true tall tales. Many of the stories feature my grandfather, who Eddie looked up to and admired. I think you'll enjoy them too.


Here are the buy links:
Ebook:  Kindle Ebook
Large Print Paperback Amazon $8.99
Audiobook Only $1.99 on Amazon if you download the ebook

BLURB
How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.

EXCERPT
Out of the Chicken Coop

Most animals on the farm were there for a purpose, rarely as pets. That meant that animals were not allowed in the house like they are today. If they got in, however, it wasn’t always easy to get them out again.

When I was just a little kid, no more’n seven if I remember rightly, I was down in the chicken yard tossin’ grain like I was tol’. This one little red hen started followin’ me around instead of peckin’ up the grain like the other chickens. I thought it strange, but just went about my business.

When I opened up the gate to leave, the red hen just whooshed right through ‘fore I could get it closed. I tol’ her, “Now you get back in there,” and opened the gate just a bit for her. She didn’t pay any mind to the invite, but just headed on across the yard as fast as two feet could take her.

I latched up the gate and took off after her. I thought I’d better grab her before she got up to the porch. Ma doesn’t like chickens on the porch ‘cause of the mess they make. So, I was runnin’ after the hen and she was makin’ a bee-line for the house.

Well, she was faster ‘n me, so she beat me handy and up on the porch she went. The kitchen door was open to let the heat out since Ma was bakin’ pies. That hen just traipsed right in like she’d come to visit. I caught up with her finally and she and me went round the kitchen table a time or two. I was glad Ma wasn’t there ‘cause I know that hen wouldn’t of lasted two seconds if that were the case. I figured I’d better catch the chicken ‘fore Ma turned her into supper.

It were a standoff. I’d go right around the table, and the hen’d go left. I’d go left, and she’d go right. When I stopped, she stopped. Mostly, chickens don’t have much sense, which is why people don’t take to them much. Except for eatin’ and eggs, of course. But, I was beginnin’ to think this was one smart chicken.

I’d left the kitchen door open so’s I could chase the chicken out, but that just perked up Ol’ Spot’s curiosity as he come in to see what was up. Of course, Ma don’t allow no dogs in the kitchen, neither, so I’d two strikes again’ me already.

The hen didn’t care for Spot bein’ in the kitchen, neither. That’s one thing Ma and the hen would agree on. So, she gave out a couple of clucks and jumped up on a chair, which was shoved under the table. So, I got down on my hands and knees and crawled under the table. Spot thought this was a good idea, so he come under, too.

The hen spied Spot and Spot spied the hen and there was a lot less room under there after that. Spot jumped at the hen and she jumped over to another chair and Spot just followed her under the table. He’d pretty much forgot I was there, too, so he scrunched his way right over the top of me, pushin’ me flat to the floor. The hen’s jumpin’ from one chair to the next and Spot was runnin’ around in circles trying to catch her.

Cluck, cluck, bark, bark. I was surprised Ma hadn’t already showed up.


Read the rest in your free ebook copy from Amazon.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tales of a Texas Boy FREE 9/24-25

If you or a relative grew up in the 20's and 30's, experienced WWII as an adult, and is fond of stories set in rural America, this is a book they will enjoy. Also, it's available in a Large Print paperback and audio book for the vision-impaired.

These are stories about my father. He's passed now, but he took great pleasure reading his almost true tall tales. Many of the stories feature my grandfather, who Eddie looked up to and admired. I think you'll enjoy them too.




Here are the buy links:
Ebook:  Kindle Ebook
Large Print Paperback Amazon $8.99
Audiobook Only $1.99 on Amazon if you download the ebook

BLURB
How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.

EXCERPT
The Corn Patch Incident

Barn raising is a community affair that takes place in almost all rural societies across the country. In Texas, nearly every community event also includes a barbecue, although it’s sometimes by default. The kids helped out by gathering additions to the dinner.

I grabbed Sister, who’s really Dorothy, but we called her Sister. Anyways, we took off to the corn field and proceeded to pull the ripe ears off the stalks. It takes the right eye to get the ripe ones. Some folks have to peel back the silk from the ear and take a look. Me and Sister had done this so many times, we could tell just by how fat the ear looked. So, we were movin’ along pretty good and had about half the ears Ma said to get.

I looked down the row to see how far we’d got when I saw a skunk traipsin’ up toward me. First off, I wondered what the little polecat was doin’ out in the middle of the day. Most often, they hunt at night. I stopped quick and looked around to see where Sister was. I couldn’t see her, so I decided just to let her know.

“Hey, Sister. There’s a skunk up here, so don’t go up the row no more,” I yelled.

“What row, Eddie?” she hollered back.

“The row I’m on,” I answered and wondered why she couldn’t have figured that out herself.

“Which row, I say-ed?” she asked again, soundin’ a little disgusted now.

“This darn row!” Why didn’t the fool girl know which row I was on? Then it occurred to me I didn’t know where she was neither.

“Say somethin’ again and I’ll find you.”

“I’m heeere!” she sang out.

I could tell she was in front of me and a row or two south. I looked back to where the skunk was, but he’d disappeared. It came to me she might be close to where the skunk was by this time.

“Look out for the skunk,” I called out.

“What skunk?” Sometimes I wondered if she thought anything out.


Read the rest in your free ebook copy from Amazon.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Free Tales of a Texas Boy 9/23-25

If you or a relative grew up in the 20's and 30's, experienced WWII as an adult, and is fond of stories set in rural America, this is a book they will enjoy. Also, it's available in a Large Print paperback and audio book for the vision-impaired.

These are stories about my father. He's passed now, but he took great pleasure reading his almost true tall tales. Many of the stories feature my grandfather, who Eddie looked up to and admired. I think you'll enjoy them too.




Here are the buy links:
Ebook:  Kindle Ebook
Large Print Paperback Amazon $8.99
Audiobook Only $1.99 on Amazon if you download the ebook

BLURB
How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.

EXCERPT
Cage McNatt and His Prize Sow

Each evening, when the fair was over, Dad would untie Sophie from her post and let her sit closer to the fire. One night, after things calmed down, Dad Boles and I were sittin’ by the fire with Sophie right next to us. Dad Boles was in the middle of a story about trappin’ when we heard something crashin’ around inside the fairgrounds. Dad decided to go check what was goin’ on, and I followed along since he didn’t say to stay put. We went into the fairgrounds to see what was up. The moon was full so we could see well enough.

A man was goin’ toward the fairgrounds’ front gate and it looked like he was pullin’ a big dog along behind him. When I heard the squeal, though, I realized it wasn’t a dog, but a pig. I could also see the pig was white, so I knew right off it was the Luck’s sow. The trouble was that the man was Cage McNatt and not one of the Luck brothers.

Well, you might already have guessed what was goin’ on. Cage McNatt was stealin’ Whitey, or at least, he was tryin’ to. The problem was Whitey was bigger than Mr. McNatt and she wasn’t of a mind to go along quiet. She was doin’ her best to pull away from the rope. She was shakin’ her head back and forth and kept up squealin’ the whole time. That was about the unhappiest pig I ever saw.


Read the rest in your free ebook copy from Amazon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Magical Runes in Bad Spelling


A lot of fantasy novels based on Euro-centric mythologies use Runes in their plots, be it a tattooed rune on the hero’s chest, the discovery of a runic tablet that leads a worthy band of heros on a quest for dragon’s gold, or a villain who casts his dark spells in the ancient runic language. All very cool stuff.

In my Witches of Galdorheim books, I decided to use runes as the magic language. Kat, the teen witch introduced in Bad Spelling, just couldn’t get the pronunciation of the runes right. The results she got were often spectacularly wrong. In other words, she was a bad speller.

I researched runes and found a few I could use to give some depth to the magical language of the witches. Runes are like hieroglyphics in that each run stands for a word or concept rather than a letter. I found a handy phrase chart and stole what I could. Elder Futhark is the oldest known runic alphabet. Each rune has a name. Each rune is a word of power.

My Mashup

In Bad Spelling, Kat’s teacher listens to the misspelling witch as she attempts a simple transformation spell:
Kat held her wand over the pentagram and repeated the spell, omitting the spell’s finishing word. Miss Mariah shook her head. "Katya, you said îgwaz instead of perßô."
Later, Kat’s aunt Thordis uses a runic spell to enable her to speak with Katya’s dead father. I found this spell to raise the dead on an Icelandic runic stave site (how cool is that!).
When she felt her magic to be at its peak, Thordis opened the book to the chapter titled Speaking to the Dead. She zipped through the incantation:

Þat kann ec iþ tolpta,
ef ec se a tre vppi
vafa virgilná
sva ec rist oc i rvnom fác,
at sa gengr gvmi
oc melir viþ mic.

But nothing happened. She slowed down and spoke the spell with precision, putting as much magical force as she could into it. Finally, she felt the spell break through the barrier.


Bad Spelling (Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Amazon Kindle (SPECIAL: $0.99, buy the ebook and the audio book is only $1.99)
Smashwords (all ebook formats - #FREE)
Audio at Audible.com

If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home. 

Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Borrowing a Box Set on Amazon

Read an entire series for free? What kind of insanity is that? However, if you're a Kindle Unlimited or Prime subscriber at Amazon, you know all about reading for free. So, how about using your super ability as a KU/KOLL know-it-all to borrow my series THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM. It's a KU/KOLL offering from Amazon.

Have you already read the individual books in the series: Bad Spelling, Midnight Oil, and Scotch Broom? Do me a favor and borrow the box set and do a leisurely flip through the pages so I'll get those valuable KENP (Kindle page reads) credits. At the end of each month, I get a small amount (like .0004/page) for pages read. That small amount can help make up for those who don't want to buy the box set because they've already read the books individually. Or maybe you have read one or two of the books, and would like to read the third without paying out any more money.

THE WITCHES OF GALDORHEIM 
A KU/KOLL FREE BORROW ON AMAZON

BAD SPELLING
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed.

MIDNIGHT OIL
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can't even phone home?
Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

SCOTCH BROOM
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Kat is on her way to an exciting trip to a faroff land, but is led astray by a jealous rival. Caught in the Otherworld with a has-been goddess trying to kill her, Kat has to defeat the goddess and rescue her brother from the hag's clutches.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Set Your Own Price at Smashwords

Twelve books on Smashwords provides multiple formats other than Kindle. See everything I have to offer on my Smashwords Author page. Prices from #Free to $2.99, but you can set the price you want to pay on checkout, including $0.00.

Witches of Galdorheim Series:
Bad Spelling
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

Midnight Oil
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Scotch Broom
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

Spellslinger
What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic?

Tales of Abu Nuwas Series:
Setara's Genie
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Faizah's Destiny
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

Adventure and Mystery:
Missing, Assumed Dead
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its deadly secrets.

Eagle Quest
A Vision Quest turns deadly when four friends confront eagle poachers in a wildlife refuge.

Science Fiction:
Ultimate Duty (Adult) and First Duty (YA)
A military officer must choose between her sworn duty or her rebellious blood ties. 

Collected Short Stories:
Mixed Bag and Mixed Bag 2: Supersized
Collections of short stories. SF, Fantasy, Mystery, Humor--a little something for everyone. MB2 contains all the stories in Mixed Bag plus a bunch more.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Book Review: Black Horses for the King

Black Horses for the KingBlack Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not much need for a review. After all, its author is Anne McCaffrey. That's recommendation enough right there.

On the other hand, this is not a fantasy book like her Dragonrider series. While set in Arthurian times, Merlin isn't hanging around casting spells, there are no magic swords, the lake contains only fish, not mermaids.

Since this book appears to be out of print, you'll have to look for a used copy. Some are offered on Amazon. There is no ebook version I know about.

Anyway, find a copy if you're into McCaffrey or different takes of the Arthur legend.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The CEO Came DOA - New Alvarez Family Mystery

NEW Alvarez Family Mystery!

I had the privilege of reading an Advanced Reader Copy of the latest in this series. I've read them all and enjoyed every one. This book can be pre-ordered on Amazon for $3.99 or the print edition is available immediately. Following this brief description, read my review of the CEO Came DOA. It will be posted on Amazon on September 1st--the book's release date.


THE CEO CAME DOA (Kindle)
Print Edition
The CEO Came DOA (Alvarez Family Mysteries #5)Someone is trying to sabotage the Initial Public Offering of 'Read-Out', a small Silicon Valley start-up, and Lee Alvarez has been hired to find the culprit. Meanwhile, the first Alvarez grandchild is about to be born while Lee is planning her very own Christmas wedding; or rather letting her mother plan it. When Lee finds the CEO hanging by the neck in his boardroom wearing nothing but baby blue boxer shorts, she has to ask herself, was it suicide? Or was it murder? If so, was the saboteur responsible, one of his business partners, or even his famous rock star ex-wife? There are too many suspects and the bodies start piling up just in time for Christmas. Ho, ho, ho

MY REVIEW OF THE CEO CAME DOA

The CEO Came DOA by Heather Haven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This fifth book in the Alvarez Family series should come with stock options for readers to get in on the ground floor. The previous Alvarez novels are top notch woman sleuth reads and I've enjoyed every one of them.

How is The "The CEO Came DOA" better than the rest? It's a matter of the series' style increasingly getting better with each book. It's clear that Ms. Haven is pretty much taking on the Lee Alvarez persona in both narrative and dialogue. Practice makes perfect.

I particularly enjoyed this one with its Silicon Valley setting. I'm familiar with the area and history of the high tech breeding grounds. Even though I haven't been there for many years, the book rings true to what I do know. I love when a book sounds like the author actually knows what they're talking about. That's the feel I have here. Lee is less than a computer genius, relying on her techie brother for that sort of thing, but she knows enough to figure out the whodunnit and why.

There's some excellent action in here as well. A scene on a sailboat in the middle of the night tensed my muscles as Lee Alvarez fought for her life. The feisty PI could have stayed ashore, but just couldn't let it alone.

I can not only highly recommend "The CEO Came DOA," but also give the overall series my highest rating. Not many books hit my 5-star mark. Ms. Haven has earned top marks by consistently producing book after book in a really fun and exciting series. Her characters are engaging and the plots suitably diverse to keep a reader's interest.

My general complaint about the Alvarez series has been too much focus on haute couture. There's still a little more than this blue jeans gal likes, but I've even gotten over my completely adverse reaction to high fashion. Hey, it's just part of the Alvarez family mystique. Wear those Pradas with pride, Lee. You know when to kick them off to run down the bad guys.

Highly recommended.

I was given an advance release copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews