Book Review: Heir of Arcadia by Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins @DebAdams_Writer @Kim_Writes

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Title: Heir of Arcadia
Authors: Deborah Adams & Kimberley Perkins
Publisher: Rocket City Publishing
Publication Date: July 24, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction, Adventure

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Heir of Arcadia
Deborah Adams & Kimberley Perkins
Rocket City Publishing, July 2020
ISBN 978-1-7325071-8-0
Hardcover

From the authors—

Can Collins and Quinn call a truce long enough to survive?

Quinn’s hectic job as a special agent keeps her busy, but never busy enough to tamp out her inconvenient attraction to CEO billionaire Julian Collins. He is usually the biggest pain in her side, but he can also be recklessly charming. When Collins asks her to open a secret investigation into his company, she worries that extra time alone with him might test her resolve to stay away.

Julian Collins always dreamed of being on Arcadia, a fictional world from his favorite video game. But lately, he’s been seeing things from the game in real life. He feels like he’s losing his mind, and now is not the time to go crazy. His company is going to be split into a dozen pieces if he can’t discover the secrets hidden in the Special Projects division.

After three years of quasi-friendship, Collins and Quinn have honed arguing into a true art form. As far as he’s concerned, she’s off-limits, but also quick-witted and sexy as hell. She’s the perfect person for the job.

As Quinn and Collins delve deeper into their investigation, secrets will lead them to things no one on earth can explain. Will they discover that searing hot kisses can be even more fun than well-placed insults when a whole new universe is spread before them?

Julian Collins is a man with two jobs, essentially, one as the very young CEO of the company he took over when his dad died a few years earlier and the other as guardian of his little sister, nine-year-old Serah. This young man has been through much more turmoil than most people ever see but he’s doing the best he can in both roles even though he’d much rather be playing a video game, Arcadian Fortress. After having left the running of the company up to others for too long, he’s now attempting to save it from being split up and he has suspicions about what might really be going on. Meanwhile, he’s having hallucinations, apparently seeing things in real life from the game.

Collins needs an investigator’s help and he trusts one person for that, Quinn Lehi. In her view, Collins is a highpowered playboy but, my word, the man was hard to ignore and he was Serah’s brother so she had to put up with him for the sake of the child they both adored. When Collins asks for her help, she agrees to investigate the Special Projects division of the company…and the adventure begins.

You might think a story focused on the inner workings of a giant corporation would be pretty boring but, in the hands of these two very creative authors, boring is not the word to describe this fast action adventure with vivid, charming and not-so-charming characters and a plot full of twisty turns. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2020.

About the Authors

DEBORAH ADAMS and KIMBERLEY PERKINS are authors of the Award-Winning Waypoint series. They are friends and coworkers sharing a love of coffee, literature, and teenagers saving the world. Both live in Huntsville, Alabama, working by day for a contractor supporting the Department of Defense, and by night writing spectacular adventures. For more information about Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins go to www.adamsperkins.com.

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Signed copy of Heir of Arcadia + $25 Amazon gift card

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Book Review: Zon by Maureen A. Miller @MaureenAMiller @YABoundToursPR

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Title: Zon
Series: Beyond #5
Author: Maureen A. Miller
Publisher: Maureen A. Miller
Publication Date: June 22, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
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Smashwords // Amazon // Indiebound

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Zon
Beyond #5
Maureen A. Miller
Maureen A. Miller, June 2020
ISBN 979-8639843747
Trade Paperback

From the author—

With a father from the planet, Ziratak, and a mother from Earth, Zon’s challenges are galactic. Zon doesn’t possess superpowers, though. If anything, he’s a bit of a klutz.

In Ziratakian folklore, the tale of the Temple of the Monarch has been passed down for generations. As legend has it, a series of miniature globes lead to the temple’s gate.

Folklore…nothing more.

Except, Zon knows of a cave with small globes in it. And with one clumsy mishap, he triggers the gate–opening a portal to other worlds.

A trip through this vortex transports him to Earth, where the first human he encounters is a young woman with challenges of her own.

This is a brand new saga, and a new generation. There is no need to read the BEYOND series. However, for readers of the series, you will enjoy this continuation of the epic science fiction adventure.

Zon is not your usual teenager having an identity crisis—his crisis comes about because he’s what we used to call, very crudely and meanly, a half-breed and that’s how most people see him. What makes him truly different from the kids we see around us is that it is his Earthling side that’s foreign. Zon is the son of an Earth-born human and a native of the planet Ziratak. Zak and Aimee are handsome people and well-respected but Zon, unfortunately, is not seen in quite as generous a light.

Zon does have one very good friend, JOH, and the two are inseparable, JOH being an android who understands his young companion very well. JOH is a good listener and he helps Zon get through his angsty times. One day, the two discover a portal to other worlds, eventually one that happens to be Earth on a different plane, and Zon and JOH’s excellent adventure begins. Naturally, they meet a girl, Cassy, and Zon will have to make a crucial choice that will affect the rest of his life.

Zon is a charming, lighthearted science fiction tale with an appealing plot and truly likeable characters, most especially JOH and it’s refreshing to have a teenaged boy as the protagonist. Also, if I ever get to experience having an android for a friend, I hope he or she will be half as interesting and funny as JOH. 😄

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2020.

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An Excerpt from Zon

Zon picked up on another sound. Hoofsteps. Footsteps. The tread of some unimaginable creature.

He spun, confused by the acoustics. As he swung back, he distinctly heard the approach from his right. Wrenching the utility beacon off his belt, he retreated a step towards the whirling shadows in the grove of trees.

A creature crested the hill, it’s blue beak the first thing visible.

“Oh!” It cried, lifting its head and freezing.

Zon swallowed, his legs paralyzed between flight and fight.

“You scared me,” a soft voice claimed. “I’ll just–go–”

The blue beak pivoted, although now he recognized it wasn’t a beak at all. It was a headpiece of some sort. The word eluded him, but he remembered seeing one before.

“Wait,” he called.

The figure halted, but did not look back.

“You speak–” he hesitated, assessing the slight profile, “—English?”

The hat snapped back and brown eyes narrowed under the shade of the brim.

Baseball hat! That’s what his mother called it.

“Uhh, yeah.”

The figure cocked its head.

She.

Not it.

He was pretty sure it was a female, but the slim figure was cloaked in oversized garments, and the long hair was pulled back by a twine, which was something the males on Ziratak did.

The brown eyes slid down his body.

“Your pants are moving,” she observed with a slight blush.

A nagging thump against his thigh alerted him that JOH was trying to get out. Zon slapped his hand down to still the motion.

“It’s just my droid.” He shrugged uncomfortably.

“Droid? Oh, your drone? Were you flying it?”

Her head tipped back and he saw a pale throat.

“Good day for it,” she murmured, and stared curiously at him.

English.

She was talking to him in English.

And she looked mecaw–human.

Zon took another glance around, hoping that his body eclipsed the swirling portal behind him.

“Is this Earth?” he asked, searching the trees, but not seeing any buildings.

The girl’s eyes flared in alarm. She stumbled backwards.

Inside his pants pocket, JOH demanded attention, his incessant vibration driving Zon crazy. He pulled open his pocket to give the droid a stern look. JOH’s animated face was replaced with a string of text.

This IS Earth!

Childhood alarms registered in Zon’s mind. The last time he came to this planet he was quite young. But he remembered his mother’s caution.

Don’t say you’re from another planet.

Most of the people on Earth don’t know much about intergalactic travel. They don’t know about life in other galaxies. And what they don’t know–scares them.

Remember, you are half Earthling.

On Earth your name is Jon. It is for your protection.

Half Earthling.

All that it meant was he was a Gorzot…again.

Encouraged that the female hesitated in her flight, he tried for a more reasonable approach.

“Umm, just kidding,” he fumbled. “I’m not from here.” Where’s here? “I’m visiting.”

A tentative glimpse over her shoulder, and the woman–girl–she looked young–more like his age–finally turned back to face him.

“I can tell.”

He felt awkward under her probing gaze, but he always felt awkward when anyone looked at him for too long.

“How can you tell?”

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About the Author

USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller worked in the software industry for fifteen years. She crawled around plant floors in a hard hat and safety glasses hooking up computers to behemoth manufacturing machines. The job required extensive travel. The best form of escapism during those lengthy airport layovers became writing.

Maureen’s first novel, WIDOW’S TALE, earned her a Golden Heart nomination in Romantic Suspense. After that she became hooked to the genre. In fact, she was so hooked she is the founder of the JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE website.

Recently, Maureen branched out into the Young Adult Science Fiction market with the popular BEYOND Series. To her it was still Romantic Suspense…just on another planet!

Find more about Maureen at www.maureenamiller.com

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram // Bookbub

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$10 Amazon Gift Card (International)
Signed copy of Beyond (US only)
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Book Review: Riley by Paul Martin Midden

Riley
Paul Martin Midden
Whitmann Blair Publishing, February 2020
ISBN: 978-0-9859223-8-2
Trade Paperback

This is a novel about relationships, as are most novels. Riley follows that pattern, but at much more nuanced depth. It is a deep, carefully constructed story about the title character, Riley, a writer, and several of her relationships. What sets this novel apart is the circumstance of the story and the unusual dimensions. Here is a narrative that exists on more than one level.

Riley is a novelist, living in Washington, D.C. and separated from her husband whom she is about to divorce. As she adjusts to her single life and pursues the story line in writing her second novel, she discovers parallels to her own circumstances, some of which are supporting, others disturbing, in the life of her novel’s principal character. At times she seems unsure whether she is dealing with her own circumstances or those of Suzanne, her novel’s protagonist.

After a sudden, out-of-character erotic encounter, Riley feels perplexed and seeks counseling from friends and from professionals. Readers are thus positioned on multiple bluffs following many characters in often deep and penetrating development of character and relationships.

The web of this novel is multi-layered and rife with a complex blend of life and fantasy. Authors will recognize sometimes fraught circumstances as they struggle to sort out the fictional lives of their characters from the realities of life. The judicious progress of many relationships in the story are testimony to the care with which this narrative is constructed. In every chapter, step by inexorable step, readers will be drawn to follow, not just Riley’s journey, but those of other characters as well.

Nicely written, the multiple plots are all well dealt with and the several conclusions are satisfying. In sum, here is a well-designed complicated canvas of several problematic intersecting lives.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, June 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: Beneath the Surface by Mike Martin @mike54martin @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Beneath the Surface
Series: Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 3
Author: Mike Martin
Narrator: Francis G. Kearney
Publication Date: May 14, 2020

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Beneath the Surface
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 3
Mike Martin
Narrated by Francis G. Kearney
Mike Martin, May 2020
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Beneath the Surface is the third book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series set in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada.

Sgt. Windflower is back, and as usual, he’s loving life on the East Coast. He may be a long way from his home in Northern Alberta, but he has been adopted by the locals as almost one of their own.

He has a good life, good work with the RCMP, and a good woman that he has grown closer to in his years on the southeast coast of Newfoundland.

But trouble is brewing just beneath the surface of this calm and charm-filled existence.

The Newfoundland Mounties have returned and I’m so glad they have! Mike Martin’s series featuring Sgt. Winston Windflower, who is part First Nation, specifically Cree, as you can tell by his last name, has become one of my favorites over the past few years and I’m always happy to welcome Windflower back along with his girlfriend, Sheila Hillier, close friend Herb Stoodly, and colleagues Corporal Eddie Tizzard and Betsy Molloy.

Sidenote: Are Canadians as enamored with the Mounties as so many Americans are?

The suspicious death of a rower, a university student in St. Johns, doesn’t actively involve Windflower in his temporary Marystown post but his interest is piqued because she grew up in Grand Bank, Eddie’s territory. Sheila knew and liked Amy Parsons, another reason for Windflower to want to look into the incident but, before he can, he’s surprised to find his Uncle Frank ensconced in his house, unannounced but clearly settled in, even wearing Windflower’s own longjohns. This is a problem in all sorts of ways but takes a backseat to what Windflower begins to learn about Amy’s murder, especially a possible connection to human trafficking.

It was nice, as always, to learn a little about life in Newfoundland and Winston’s Cree background and everything was enhanced by Mr. Kearney’s performance. His narration has been growing on me with each audiobook and I particularly enjoy his accents, which sound authentic to me. Once again, an appealing story with engaging narration, just what I like.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn which won the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year.

Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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About the Narrator

Following college and many years as a local entertainer and actor I eventually entered the business world and a career of building and selling multiple successful enterprises.

In 1985 I purchased an aviation business and while building a very successful business also earned multiple movie credits as a helicopter camera ship pilot – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0443932/?ref_=nv_sr_1 – among other services, and flew the camera helicopter for London Weekend Television’s mini series “Piece of Cake” in 1988. I have an extensive aviation background from helicopters through turboprop and jet aircraft, and a deep knowledge of all things aviation.

I have always been an insatiable reader with a love of history – the ultimate story, and anything military – especially if it flies. My evolution into narration and the joy of storytelling is the culmination of many years of a life fully lived, and is reflected in a voice of experience.

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Book Reviews: The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas and Twinepathy by C.B. Cook @sherrythomas @BerkleyMystery

The Art of Theft
The Lady Sherlock Series #4
Sherry Thomas
Berkley, October 2019
ISBN 978-0-451-49247-0
Trade Paperback

Once upon a time, Sherry Thomas created the first of a retelling of the Sherlock Holmes adventures and, my word, what a charming series this is so far. Charlotte Holmes and Mrs. Watson are a delightful pair and they channel the original Holmes and Watson with a feminine aplomb that makes Sherlock himself much more accessible.

Charlotte is a successful detective, having solved numerous cases, but she’s going to have to become something of an art thief this time. The target is a particular very valuable painting but it’s the documents secreted on the back of the painting that she needs to obtain; if she can’t do so, her client will be ruined. Charlotte recruits her usual partners in crime, so to speak, and the merry band sets off to attend a masked ball and art sale at a certain chateau in France. Charlotte is the true brains of the group but she couldn’t pull this off without the able assistance of Stephen Marbleton and Lord Ingram, not to mention her sister, Livia, and the pragmatic Mrs. Watson.

There’s a great deal of fun to be had in this latest tale but the reader who’s new to the series should probably start with the first book, A Study in Scarlet Women, to enjoy the books to the fullest. If you’re like me, you’ll fall head over heels for Charlotte and company.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.

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Twinepathy
IDIA #1
C.B. Cook
CreateSpace, July 2016
ISBN 978-1535201551
Trade Paperback

Twin sisters Brooklyn and Albany have always hidden their telepathic abilities, believing they’re alone in the world in that sense, until a small child shows up on the doorstep, a child who seems to be suffering from total amnesia. Before they can even begin to come up with a plan—although they instinctively know they need to hide the child from their older brother and parents for the moment—two strangers appear literally out of thin air and the world as they know it changes in an instant.

It turns out that superheroes do really exist, with various powers as Data and Blaze explain; Data is a glorified mind reader and is the head of a secret agency of superheroes, the International Defense and Intelligence Agency, while Blaze specializes in teleportation and illusion. Before this first meeting is over, the sisters have code names, and they’ve learned that the little girl, dubbed Maddie, is not the first victim of memory loss. Now, Albany and Brooklyn set out to solve the first mystery—who is Maddie and what is her story?

Twinepathy is a fun tale for anyone who enjoys superheroes and adventure mixed in with a puzzle and I recommend it for a few hours of entertaining distraction from our all too real world.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.

Book Review: The Maven Knight by Matthew Romeo @housemontegue

The Maven Knight
The Maven Knight Trilogy #1
Matthew Romeo
Matthew Romeo, December 2018
ISBN 978-0-578-42878-9
Trade Paperback

Mr. Romeo reaches out and pulls the reader right into a frenzied chaos with his Sci-Fi/Fantasy, The Maven Knight. Immediately invested in the action, in spite of not even knowing who is good and who is not, the dust settles soon enough to show that we have a small group of prisoners en route to their proper punishment.

Or so Sarina assumes. She groggily awakens to find her hands tied and tethered. A quick glance around shows the strangers surrounding her are similarly bound. Sarina doesn’t remember anything past tending bar at a banquet, but cannot fathom doing anything to get herself into this situation. Sure, she’s keeping a secret, but certainly not worthy of this retribution.

Talir, on the other hand, cannot specifically pinpoint his “crime”, but is oddly not particularly surprised to find himself in this predicament. Perhaps his cherished Maven armor, his last remnant of his father, is providing some comfort.

As the apparent criminals start to size each other up, their convoy is shot down. Soon, six people are stranded in the middle of nowhere with no reason in the world to want to work together. Except their lives may depend on it.

The saga unfolds from two separate points of view. What initially appeared to be a random sampling of ne’er-do-wells, now seems to be a carefully selected group. But to fully figure out the reason each person was chosen, secrets must be spilled and certain actions will require sincere apologies if there is to be any hope for survival.

Reviewed by jv poore, May 2020.

Book Review: The Vatican Games by Alejandra Guibert @Aleja_Guibert @Authoright

The Vatican Games
Alejandra Guibert
Clink Street, January 2020
ISBN 978-1-913136-30-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Vera is born on the day an apocalyptic revenge is unleashed, annihilating half of the world’s population.

Her birth marks the beginning of a new world order run by powerful gaming corporations.

A warless existence with no poverty has been secured, until this fine balance becomes once more under threat.

Vera is the female David to beat Goliath and prevent further devastation.

The future lies in her hands. It’s a game that she needs to win.

What an unusual story this is! There are certain things that set it apart from most apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic/dystopian tales—Vera is born just as the worldwide terrorist attack happens, she survives a deadly brain defect, the setting is in Vatican City, etc.—but, taken as a whole, they create the beginnings of something unexpected. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it and I suspect this is one of those books that has to sort of rumble around in my mind for a while.

To this semi-luddite, it’s appalling to think of the gaming industry being in charge of the world but this kind of story is supposed to be unsettling, isn’t it? Speaking of unsettling, Ms. Guibert is very adept at dropping little crumbs here and there that make you think, “Wait a minute…oh” starting with how hunger no longer exists.

Carry on as usual…urged people to carry on with life in the midst of death. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it, but in The Vatican Games, a diabolical attack by unknown terrorists, first against the US, then spreading around the world, is the cause of the overwhelming devastation. It’s followed by a self-justified US military retaliation against the Middle East and then a counterattack on Israel, resulting eventually in incredible loss of life as well as economic disintegration. As might be expected, though, ruling bodies around the world soon collaborate to form a world government but, in reality, this is the story of Vera and her mother, Alina, and Vera’s life after another tragic event.

So much happens in this story that I think the pacing was a bit too slow but it’s a compelling tale of the condition of our world and where it could be heading. Food for thought, indeed.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.