March Book Reviews

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 by Sally Cronin

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

I look forward to reading more of this series.

Redemption by Gwen Plano

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Redemption is a mix of family drama and thriller. When Lisa returns home for a visit, she’s barely in the door when someone murders her father and severely injures her mother.

Lisa, her brother Trace, and family friend Ryan set out to discover the truth. Neither sibling has fond memories of their father and the secretive life he lived.

The action is well-paced and the characters well-developed. The message of redemption at the end is a thought-provoking one that reminds readers of the importance of forgiveness.

Vampire of the Midnight Sun by Priscilla Bettis

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

Wake-Robin Ridge by Marcia Meara

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

Sorrowful Soul by Harmony Kent

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sorrowful Soul is the third collection of poems in Harmony Kent’s Soul Poetry series. The subject of this collection, grief, is something we will all face at one time or another.

Each section takes readers through the stages of grief. Some are hard to read, but most readers can relate to the emotions associated with the loss of someone you love.

I recommend all three books in this series.

That wraps it up for this month. I’ll have more reviews to share in April. Happy reading, everyone!

Guest Author Priscilla Bettis – Vampire of the Midnight Sun

Hey, everyone! Happy Wednesday. Today, I’m delighted to have as my guest author Priscilla Bettis. She has a brand new release, Vampire of the Midnight Sun that she’s going to talk about. Priscilla is the author of several horror stories. I’ll have to say after reading her novella The Hay Bale, I’ll never look at a bale of hay without thinking of the story! By the way, if you’ve never read any of her one-line book reviews, you should. She does an amazing job at summing up a story with so few words.

Now, I’ll step aside and let Priscilla tell you about her latest release.

Hello, Joan! Thanks for hosting me on your blog today. I’m excited to announce my latest work, Vampire of the Midnight Sun, a short story duology.

The titular short story is set in Alaska where I grew up. I took real-life experiences and turned them into a story about two men stranded in the Alaskan wilderness. Haha, I don’t mean I’ve encountered a vampire in the Alaskan wilderness, but I have encountered grizzlies, miles of endless tundra, and water so cold it’s like an electrical shock when you touch it. Plus, the description of the main character’s hypothermia is much like what I experienced. Ironically, I didn’t experience hypothermia in Alaska. I experienced it after a springtime swim in a lake in Virginia. (Fortunately, a couple of EMTs spotted me, and I got treatment right away.) Despite the bleak circumstances, “Vampire of the Midnight Sun” has humorous elements, so it was fun to write.

The second short story is “The Fire Witch and The Cowboy.” It’s set in the Northern Plains of Texas where I now live. Again, I took a real-life experience and turned it into a story. Sadly, a wildfire marched through our small town in the spring of 2022. To hear a fire growl through someone’s home or to see a venerable oak succumb to towering, red flames was heartbreaking. But the scariest to me was when a line of low flames inched across the grazing fields. It was silent and broad as the eye could see, like the leading edge of an inevitably rising tide with sand before it, and water behind it. Living grass before it, black earth behind it. Our little town was featured in social media posts asking for prayers, and there were faith-based placards planted in the charred dirt along the roads. So I worked Biblical allusions into the story for an extra layer of meaning. It was a satisfying story to write.

Vampire of the Midnight Sun is available now. I hope readers give it a try.

Purchase Link  


A vampire in Alaska.

In ‘Vampire of the Midnight Sun,’ Frasier and his best friend, Billy, are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after a rafting accident: grizzlies, arctic water, frozen nights, soggy tundra, no food, no matches, no civilization. And no one is coming to rescue them.

Plus Billy is convinced he’s a vampire. It’s a five-day hike to civilization. Billy claims he can only go three days without human blood.

Will the men survive the harsh Alaskan elements? If so, can Frasier survive Billy’s vampiric delusions, or will Frasier have to take his best friend’s life in order to save his own?

A showdown between an Old West cowboy and a fire witch.

In ‘The Fire Witch and the Cowboy,’ Henderson is the yellow-bellied coward of Dusty Bend, Texas. His wife is ashamed of him. Kids tease him. And he’s terrified of fire.

But when a wildfire threatens Dusty Bend, it is Henderson who brokers a deal between the townsfolk and the wealthy but formidable Widow Vandermeer, to use her resources in order to fight the fire.

“There will be sacrifices,” she says. If the widow learns Henderson’s decades-old secret, he might be the sacrifice.

Will Henderson grab his wife and run, leaving town while he can? Or will he stay and risk falling into Widow Vandermeer’s clutches?

Meanwhile, the wildfire grows closer…

About Priscilla:

Priscilla Bettis read her first horror story, The Exorcist, when she was a little kid. She snuck the book from her parents’ den. The Exorcist scared Priscilla silly, and she was hooked on the power of the horror genre from that moment on.

Priscilla is an excellent swimmer, which is good because vampires are terrible swimmers.

Priscilla shares a home in the Northern Plains of Texas with her two-legged and four-legged family members.

Connect with Priscilla:

Priscilla’s Amazon page

Priscilla on Twitter

Priscilla’s blog

Wow! Sounds like Priscilla has another winner on her hands. I look forward to delving into the pages of this one.