Hey, everyone. In 2022, when I began planning my retirement, there were many things to consider. I knew I wanted to write full-time. I also considered what I would do in terms of blogging and other writing-related activities.
I also love to read. As an author, I know the importance of book reviews as a way to support other authors, especially those who aren’t traditionally published. I’d considered the possibility of starting a blog just for book reviews and bringing in other authors but never got around to it.
Somehow, things seem to work out. A few weeks ago, I was approached to be a contributor to a brand-new site. It didn’t take me long to say yes. I’m joining four other authors, Vera Day, Mae Claire, Staci Troilo, and Gwen Plano. Most of you know Vera as Priscilla Bettis. Priscilla has recently switched genres, hence her new pen name.
The Well Read Fishlaunches today. It is a place where we review Christian Fiction. I read a lot of this genre several years ago, and my interest has recently been rekindled. Our plan is to post a review each Wednesday. The first weekly review is now live, but there are several already in our archives to read.
If you enjoy reading Christian Fiction, I hope you’ll join us there. I’ve closed comments on this post, but I’ll continue to share my other book reviews here, usually on the last Tuesday of the month. In the meantime, I hope to see you at The Well Read Fish.
Hey, Readers. I’m way behind on posting reviews. Matter of fact, I was behind on writing them. Lesson learned – don’t wait until days or weeks later. Because of my procrastination, my reviews are shorter than usual. I’m also going back to posting them once a month rather than weekly. Because I didn’t post at the end of February, there are a few books I read during that month.
Variety is the spice of life and Sally Cronin did a wonderful job in putting together this eclectic collection of short poems and flash fiction. But don’t let the length fool you. The stories and poems are well-written. Proof that a lot can be said with so few words.
Like with any collection, I had my favorites. Of the poems, “Face in The Mirror” is something many of us can relate to. “Kinship” is about the bonds we form with others—family and friends. It is especially touching as Sally dedicates the book to the online writing community in which she has played a huge role in bringing together. Of the short stories, I loved, “The Neighbourood Watch” and “Miss Lloyd’s Robin.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the poems that are snapshots from Sally’s garden. This book is an easy and quick read, but nonetheless delightful, and one I highly recommend.
Having become interested in books featuring Native American characters, I read my first Tony Hillerman novel last year—one of the Leaphorn and Chee novels. I enjoyed it, so I decided to pick up the series from the beginning.
This book, first published in 1970, didn’t disappoint. Writing styles were different in those days, and at first, the pace seemed a little slow but picked up. Although Joe Leaphorn is the main character, his friend Bergan McKee plays a big part (and has more action) than Joe. It’s always a plus for me when I’m kept guessing until the end, and I did with this book.
This is a short, easy-to-read duology. Although listed as horror, there is nothing overly graphic. The first story is set in the Alaskan Wilderness and follows two friends who try to make their way back to civilization after a failed rafting trip. I like the twist on the title. Can vampires live in sunlight? If you believe they can’t think again.
The second book was set in drought-raged Texas when a wildfire threatens a town’s existence. I loved how the author used an old steam locomotive to enhance the plot—and the suspense.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys horror stories that don’t go over the top on graphic images.
I read Meara’s Riverbend series a while back, and I’m not sure what took me so long to begin this debut novel.
Wake-Robin Ridge is a mix of suspense, romance, and paranormal. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the author did a wonderful job of describing the setting. I felt as if I was right there to see the beautiful sights and smell the delicious scents of autumn.
This is a dual-timeline story, set in the 1960s and in the twenty-first century that wraps up in a satisfying ending. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy books set in different timeframes.
Hey, Readers. It’s my pleasure to host Gwen Plano today. She is a friend and fellow Story Empire colleague. She writes fiction and poetry and is here to talk about her latest release, Redemption A Father’s Fatal Decision. Please welcome Gwen.
Thank you, Joan, for inviting me to your site today. It’s a pleasure to visit your readers and share a bit about my new release.
Redemption, A Father’s Fatal Decision is a mystery thriller that takes place in the Southeast corner of New York state, in the towns of New Rochelle and Cortlandt. The characters occasionally travel to Old Lyme, Connecticut, but for the most part, the drama is in New York. Having spent about twenty years in and around that area, it was exciting to visit as a writer.
The book tackles themes of forgiveness, redemption, and absolution through suspense. We accompany the son and daughter of the deceased as they try to uncover the reason for their father’s murder. What they discover prompts them to ask if they even knew him.
Sometimes complicated situations help us see our own challenges in a different light. That is my hope for this book. Most of us won’t experience threats like those of my characters, but pain is universal, as is joy. Seeing either in the extreme helps us recognize our own—and severe or elated, those emotions are impactful.
In the excerpt below, Lisa and Trace Holmes meet with the New Rochelle police captain. His team had searched a secluded cabin owned by their father and found both damming information and important documents for his two adult children. The captain presents a deed to a property in Connecticut.
“Take a look at this and read the note. There’s a key taped to the paper.” The captain pulls the deed from a file and hands it to Trace.
Their brows furrow while they read:
Trace and Lisa, your mother loves this area of Connecticut. She dreamed of having a cottage of her own. Please, take care of her when I’m gone.
Trace covers his face with his hands and fights tears. “I’ve hated him for so long.”
Lisa rubs his back and wipes away tears.
The captain waits a few minutes before continuing. Once they compose themselves, he tells them a story. “A while back, a preacher talked to me about redemption. He said it’s like clearing debt. Action or actions a person takes to free himself from a burden. Sound familiar? I believe your father tried to redeem himself by taking actions he thought would clear his debt. I suspect that intention lies behind his final act of refusing to hand over the crown jewel. In his mind, it was payment.”
Trace’s lips tighten, and he thinks about what the captain has shared. “So, the jewel and money absolve him of thirty-five years of abuse?”
“No.” Davis shakes his head. “But, in his mind, he saw it as payment. Absolution is another matter entirely. That’s God’s work, not mine or yours. I’m not a preacher type, but I’ve lived long enough to put pieces of a puzzle together. I conclude that forgiveness is our responsibility, and I’ve arrived at my own definition, which I’d like to share with you.”
Family secrets can be deadly. When Lisa Holmes visits her parents one fateful Saturday morning, she hugs her father and walks to her childhood bedroom. The doorbell rings. Her father opens the door, and one minute later, he lies dead on the floor—three bullets to the chest.
The Holmes family lives on a quiet street, but no one really knows Eric Holmes. He travels for business and comes home a few days each month. Unbeknown to all, Eric has multiple lives.
In this fast-paced psychological thriller, Lisa and her brother, Trace, embark on a quest to solve the mystery involving the murder of their father. The journey takes them into a secret world where nothing is as it seems. As the puzzle pieces begin to coalesce, they discover the meaning of Redemption.
Hey, Readers. Can you believe it’s already the last day of January? What was it the Steve Miller Band said about time? Yes, it is drifting into the future, but today is the fifth stop of the Menagerie Tour. Each day I feature a different story in the collection and tell “the story behind the story.”
Today, I’m visiting with the lovely Gwen Plano. She’s an author, poet, and contributor at Story Empire. Gwen is also one of the most compassionate people I know. Two of the three volumes in her military history trilogy reached Amazon’s best-seller status for new releases. The first was co-authored with John Howell. Gwen also has a brand-new book releasing on February 21. Redemption, A Father’s Fatal Decision, is available now for preorder. I’ve already ordered my copy and can’t wait to read it!
Below is a list of all the stops. Links will be updated as each post goes live. Comments are closed here, but I’d love to visit with you today on Gwen’s site.
What a difference a week makes! Only a few days ago we were enjoying the beautiful fall foliage. We live in the country, and across the road behind our neighbor’s house, the trees were brilliant reds and golds. I had an excellent view from my writing desk.
Twilight had fallen one evening, and I hadn’t closed the blinds yet. Even then, the colors were ablaze. Amazing. This week is another story. Most of the trees are now bare and our front yard is evidence of that. But it’s to be expected as the first day of winter is less than two weeks away.
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