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Review/Guest Post: The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy by Kathy Fischer- Brown

Good morning folks! Apologies for my silence lately but I’ve got all kinds of balls in the air at the moment. So to make up for it, today’s post is a long one but very good. I’ll be reviewing the Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy with excerpts from the books and you’ll also hear from the author, Kathy Fischer-Brown, on how she did research for the subject matter. It all makes for an interesting read so grab that cup of coffee and get comfortable.

Historical Fiction
Date Published: 6/13/2012
 

Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter (Book 1)

As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

Excerpt

“Are you hurt?” He bent toward her.

She flinched away. “No thanks to you, I think I’ve escaped permanent injury.” She turned her eyes on him, a glowering look that held a trace of fear.

The look took him aback. “Forgive me, I was afraid that you—”

Her eyes softened, a rush of color surged in her cheeks. She turned away, as if embarrassed. “Is it your custom to go around sneaking up on people?” She rose gingerly, flexing her left ankle.

“To be quite truthful, it’s not.” He smiled sheepishly and scrambled to his feet. “Is it your custom to go climbing over walls?” He found her shoes in the grass and deferentially offered them to her. “Sensible people would use the gate.”

“Perhaps I’m not sensible!” Without a word of gratitude, she snatched the offering from him and winced as she slipped her left foot into the boot. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go.”

She hurried off, but soon moderated her pace to a hobbling limp. He followed with caution.

“Stealing off to see the old witch, are you?” Relief coursed through him that she had not seriously injured herself.

She stopped and half-looked up at him, a flickering smile spreading over her full, ripe mouth. “Hetty Powell is not a witch!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” he teased. “And I wouldn’t make it a habit of calling upon her without an escort. Old witches have a special fondness for saucy young maids. Feed ’em lots of tea and biscuits, they do…soften ’em up, make ’em sweet and tender!”

She looked up at him fully. “Are you offering me your protection?”

The candor expressed in her voice and those clear, violet eyes left him momentarily speechless. “I wish only to accompany you.”

“You are an ill-mannered young man!”

“And you’re an impetuous young woman. You’ll not go far on that ankle.”

“That remains to be seen!” She turned from him and walked lamely away.

“I can’t help feeling responsible,” he called out and hurriedly overtook her.

“You are responsible!”

“What possessed you to climb that wall?”

“It’s none of your concern.”

“An impressive display of skill and daring, I must say.”

“Would you?”

“Indeed! Not to mention agility and—”

Anne stopped suddenly and gazed hard at his face. A shiver of apprehension vibrated up her spine. For all his seeming sincerity, he was not to be trusted. Surely he would find a way to return her to the hall and inform her father of her attempted flight. “What do you want? Why must you pester me so?”

His gaze turned searching, steady. His voice was almost pleading. “Allow me to walk with you and I’ll promise not to speak another word.”

An uncomfortable heat rose in her face. She glanced away. “Then I might as well walk alone,” she said softly.

Date Published:  8/31/2012

 Courting the Devil (BOOK #2 May contain spoilers)

Four years after a near fatal blunder uproots her from her home and inheritance, Anne Darvey, daughter of the Marquess of Esterleigh, finds herself an indentured servant on a farm near Fort Edward in New York, as the British army advances toward Albany. Driven by guilt over the pain she has caused her father and grief over her lover’s death, she sets out to deliver a message. The consequences lead to the discovery that all is not as it seems, and sets in motion events that lead to love and danger.

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, Courting the Devil is the second book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from her childhood in the rural English countryside, to London society, and into the center of the American Revolution.

Excerpt

His memory had not failed him. Summer nights were infinitely cooler by the pond near the creek. Brighter as well, with milky flashes of light reflecting off its smooth surface and a riot of fireflies darting among the reeds, twinkling over the water like so many stars. Had there been a moon, it would have floated on the water, sending glimmers of light up to the treetops.

He would have seen her then by moonlight.

Rather it was the dull light of the ill-smelling flame of his lamp that revealed her there at the edge of the pond in the tall grass, sitting in nothing but her damp shift, her back against the trunk of a sycamore, as she applied a towel to her hair. Had he’d arrived moments earlier, he might have seen her emerge, dripping from the creek like some water nymph. He paused where he stood and watched for a moment, then he cleared his throat and continued closer.

The brush crackled under his feet. He slowed his steps when she turned, a startled look on her face, her fingers frozen in the wild tangle of thick, dark hair tumbling over her shoulders and down the length of her back. At the sight of him, she quickly covered her chest with crossed arms.

Harris hesitated, holding up the lamp so that its light revealed his face, causing her to blink into the brightness. “No reason for alarm,” he reassured, and hung the lamp on a bough just above her head. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

She turned away and on her knees quickly gathered up the objects spread out on a towel in the grass. He leaned on his hand against the tree, and regarded her with interest. In the light of the swinging lamp, drops of water shimmered on her bare arms. The smell of milled soap with a hint of lavender emanated from her hair, mingling with her own sweet, warm scent on the heavy air. Though coarsely made, her damp chemise clung to her like second skin, revealing the soft, round contours of a supple body. He imagined his hands holding her close, the feel of her, lithe and wet, against him, and fought back the stirring in his groin.

He licked his lips. “I didn’t expect to find anyone here at this hour of the night. Forgive the intrusion, I–”

She glanced up at him, a look of uncertainty in her eyes, along with the flashing sky. “No need for apologies, sir. I was just about to leave.” She rolled her hairbrush and a small, well-used sliver of soap in its original paper wrapper into the frayed huckaback towel. After slipping into her shoes, she snatched the coarse-woven skirt and linen bodice from the low bough from which she had hung them. Having wrapped everything in the skirt, she rose with the grace of a goddess and turned toward the path back to the house, the bundle clasped to her breast.

He stepped away from the tree and blocked her escape. She halted just short of him, but did not avert her eyes from the ground before her. “I wish you wouldn’t go,” Harris said through the dryness in his mouth.

Maintaining her focus on the dark path beyond the circle of light cast by his Betty lamp, she drew in a slow breath. In spite of the heat, she shivered. “There is nothing to keep me, sir.”

He laughed softly. “I hope that was not meant to be a gibe at my vanity?”

She shook back the mane of dark, wet hair that had fallen over her face, but kept her eyes averted. “It was not my intention to appear so bold.”

“Then I’m very much relieved!” His gaze wandered over her wet, scantily clad form, at the soft rise of her breasts before they disappeared under the cover of her infringing bundle. “But I forget myself. It is your modesty and virtue that–”

“Excuse me, Mr. Harris. It’s been a long day, and I’m tired.”

“It’s too hot to sleep. I thought I would—”

“You needn’t explain yourself. Not to me, sir. Now, if you will kindly let me pass …”

“You don’t like me, do you?”

At that she raised her eyes fully upon his face with a slow and deliberate stare, as if the impulse to look at him had been spontaneous and she resisted its appeal with all the self-control at her disposal. “My feelings are of no consequence, Mr. Harris,” she said in a soft voice, devoid of expression.

 “But you do have them. Are you dismissing them as insignificant, or is it that you have no desire to discuss things of a personal nature?” Her soft, full lips were enticing. Even in the sweltering night air, the heat emanating from her body wrapped around him like a caress.

“If you really must know, sir, I have no time for such diversions.”

“Nor anything else, I dare say.” Fighting the urge to clasp her to him and taste her mouth, he stepped aside to let her pass. “You push yourself far too hard. It’s a sure sign.”

Just beyond the spill of light from the hanging lamp, Annie stopped and raised her head. For a long while she stood in silence, as if waiting for him to speak.

He sensed he had struck a nerve. “A sure sign of what, you might ask. Then again, I would be presuming to know your mind, which, I assure I do not… All right then, I’ll tell you. I notice things about people who labor for a living, Miss Annie.” He stepped toward her, outside the circle of dingy light. “Those who work for their own subsistence tend to perform their duties with an honorable sense of purpose. For when successfully accomplished, the task at hand yields its own reward. From my own observations, I’ve also noted that those who are obligated to toil in the service of others tend to do only that which is expected of them. No more, no less.” He paused. Again the sky flickered, revealing her standing with her back to him, head lowered. “Where rewards are few, there is nothing to be gained by working one’s self to an early grave. That would leave one unable to savor the freedom earned by such senseless toil.”

She turned slowly and swept his face with her gaze. “Do you not work for your living, Mr. Harris?” In her soft voice, he detected a note of challenge.

“I am a schoolmaster, Miss Annie.” And then he vacillated, his mouth twitching into a smile. “I was a schoolmaster…until I lost all my students! For the life of me I can’t fathom why…” She did not appear moved by his attempted levity. “But, no, I never had a reason to earn a living. My father was…well-connected.”

Her eyes shimmered in the darkness. “It is said, Mr. Harris, that the Devil finds work for idle hands.”

He laughed softly. “It is also said, Miss Annie, that to speak of the Devil is to court his presence.”

She lowered her face until shadows once more enveloped her features, her hands tightening around the bundle. “If that is so, then I hope he finds me busy. Good night, Mr. Harris.” She vanished quietly into the darkness.

 

Date Published: 2/6/2013

The Partisan’s Wife (BOOK #3 May contain spoilers)

Faced with an impossible choice, Anne Marlowe is torn between her husband’s love and the hope of her father’s forgiveness. As American forces follow up on their tide-turning victories over the British at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights, Peter is drawn deeper into the shady network of espionage that could cost them both their lives.

Is his commitment to “the Cause” stronger than his hard-won love for Anne? Will her sacrifice tear them apart again…this time forever? Or will they find the peace and happiness they both seek in a new beginning?

The Partisan’s Wife follows Anne and Peter through the war torn landscape of Revolutionary War America, from the Battle of Saratoga to British-occupied New York and Philadelphia, and beyond.

Excerpt

At last, she stopped pacing and leaned against the wall, arms crossed over her breast. “My God, Peter! How could you?”

He forced a sheepish smile but made no attempt to answer.

“You lied to me! Shipping trade indeed!”

“I swear I never lied.”

“Half-truths, then!” She pushed away from the wall. “‘I’m finished here. I’m done with that!’ Why didn’t I see?”

“LeClair will find a way out of this.”

She looked at him in challenge. The candle flame shone in the mirror of her eyes. “You seem so assured.”

“I have the utmost confidence in LeClair. When he returns, we’ll ferry across the river into Paulus Hook. We’ll be safe in New Jersey.”

“And then…?”

He stood and regarded her, his mouth a taut line. “Didn’t you say in no uncertain terms that you wished to go to Philadelphia?”

“I never said I wished to go. I said I had to go.”

He paused for a long moment. “You know I can’t go with you.”

“You can’t come with me…?” she said with astonishing composure. “Or, more precisely, you won’t come.”

“I can’t.” He reached for her hand; she yanked it away. “I can’t go with you.”

“Why? So that you may continue to play at your little game of masquerade and intrigue, exposing yourself to danger? For what purpose? Have you no concern for my—”

“You are not the only one blessed with a cause!” He glared at her. “It would appear that we are each compelled to do as our conscience dictates.”

Steadily she met his gaze through the candle light. “And if you could come with me…?”

Her wide-eyed face betrayed her apprehension, as though she already knew his answer yet hoped against hope for the response she longed to hear. It could have been so simple to play along and accommodate her wishes and, for her sake, make promises he could never keep. For his own sake, he chose not to respond.

 

REVIEW

In book 1, Annie finds that the father she’d grown up believing was a war hero who died in battle is actually an English lord who abandoned her mother because his family didn’t approve of the match only to return 16 years later as her mother lay upon her deathbed. She’s made to promise her mother she’d go with him to Esterleigh Hall and to try to love him but this is a tall order. While already dealing with her resentment for the mythical hero turned louse, she also must contend with the bitter ex-wife and a disinherited brother as well as learning and adapting to the heartless, cutthroat ways of London Society.  To further complicate matters, she loses her heart to a dashing young servant who’s bound for America in order earn his fortune and be worthy of her hand. In book 2, Annie is kidnapped by what is essentially her wicked stepmother and shipped off to a farm in Upstate New York where she toils as an indentured slave during the American Revolutionary War. With the farm being right smack in the middle of the battlefield, Annie takes the opportunity to escape and seek out the best friend of her sweetheart. In book 3, ties up all the lose ends left in the first two books as Annie finds herself embroiled in the rebellion thanks to her husband, Peter, while at the same time trying to find her estranged father after discovering he had traveled to New York to find her.

It’s difficult to review a series because I don’t like to drop any spoilers but I found The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy to be a very interesting series. It isn’t often you find an author tackling the subject matter of the American Revolutionary War in this way and it was very nicely done.  Katy Fischer-Brown immerses you into the time period and you learn a lot of little details about life in the 18th century without bogging down the story itself. Although each book is a bit slow to start, the pace isn’t excruciating and it really is worth waiting for the story to pick up. Once it does, well…

Researching the Historical Novel Then and Now

When I started writing seriously in the dark age before computers, researching the historical period in which I had chosen to set my books was no easy task. The local library didn’t always have a particular resource on its reference shelves and if the book was long out of print, it was unavailable at any cost (no Alibris back then). Inter-library loan was the only way to go and even that didn’t always pan out. Travel was not always possible, especially on a limited budget. Letters to experts was a practical resource, as were phone calls, but in the days before the breakup of Ma Bell, calls from Indiana to New York were expensive.

Today, those same resources and more are just a few key strokes away. Many of the same research materials I used to wait weeks for have been scanned and uploaded to the web. In addition, there are hosts of fabulous materials I would never have dreamed of back then. Old maps and documents, in addition to diaries and other first-hand accounts are all available online if you know how to find them.

When I pulled “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy out of mothballs and dusted it off for an overhaul, I found myself tapping in to these resources. With all of the material I was able to find, I scrapped entire portions of the story in favor of rewrites based on information I was able to discover.

As a native New Yorker, I was especially fascinated to learn of the vast changes that made Manhattan what it is today. From street names to the layout of the streets themselves as the population grew and expanded north of Wall Street, the old city of the mid-eighteenth century can no longer be found. There are a few photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries of long-gone buildings from the period and some extraordinary descriptions in old books. Paintings and maps of the period also give us glimpses. Land fill long ago altered the shape of lower end of the island (where the Dutch established their first settlement in North America on land inhabited by the Native Americans who lived and hunted there). Creeks and streams, hills and forests were plentiful on Manhattan, serving the hosts of indigenous animals that made their homes there. The creeks, streams and fresh water ponds were later filled in, becoming (to name just one) Canal Street.

Street names were especially interesting. During and after the Revolution, many streets, such as King Street, King George Street, and Queen Street, were renamed, remapped, and/or rerouted. Today you’ll find Pine, William, and Pearl Streets. In The Partisan’s Wife, the area in which Peter and Anne’s house stood, then called Wynne (or Winne) Street between Bayard’s Lane and St. Nicholas Street, is now Mott Street in the heart of Chinatown, which was basically unsettled in the mid-part of the 18th century as was pretty much everything to the north. The West Village was farmland and rolling hills. Many streets and avenues in old New York evolved from long driveways belonging to huge mansions with gardens, orchards, and expansive lawns. For example, the long drive that belonged to the Bayard homestead in the late 1700s was for a time called Bayard’s Lane. It’s now part of Broome Street on the Lower East Side.

Unfortunately, few buildings from the period remain standing on lower Manhattan — Fraunces Tavern and St. Paul’s Chapel being a couple of exceptions — as a multitude of fires and later human development over the next century or so led to the destruction of pre-Revolutionary War era buildings…many in the name of progress.

To write historical fiction is, to a large extent, to live there for a while and become comfortable with the clothes, attitudes, and customs of the time. It’s also my desire to take the reader along and hope they enjoy the journey.

Kathy Fischer-Brown

Author Bio:

As a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act. After receiving an MFA in Acting and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could. Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. At the same time, she daydreamed in history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

LINKS:

Website:  http://www.kfischer-brown.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathyFischerBrownAuthor?ref=hl

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KFischerBrown

Blog: http://illsay.wordpress.com/

BooksWeLove (Publiisher) : http://www.bookswelove.net/kathyfischerbrown.php

Book Review: Lady Gwendolyn by Magnolia Belle

Historical Fiction
Date Published: July 2013
In early medieval days, bandits beset a caravan taking Lady Gwendolyn Hampton of England to marry Angus Dewar in Scotland. In the confusion, she escapes, while the bandits think her maid, Madeleine, is her. From one peril to another, Madeleine must keep the ruse in order to stay alive. Lady Gwendolyn’s brother, Lord Richard Hampton, wants Madeleine as his consort, and tries to rescue her. Through betrayal, intrigue and murder, she becomes a woman of title, and must decide if she wants the life he offers.

Excerpt

Madeleine, her maid and companion since childhood, interrupted her reverie.  “Can you believe it?  You’re to be married into such a grand house.  I’d be nervous.”

“I am, a bit,” Gwendolyn admitted and stretched her hand out to clasp Madeleine’s.  “I wonder,

though, why Father made Richard stay behind.  It seemed a sudden decision, and I wanted both my brothers to attend my wedding.”

“Your father has his reasons, I’m sure.”  The maid’s smile did not reach her eyes.

“Of course.  I’m most grateful my father allowed you to accompany me.”

“He knows better than to separate us.”

Gwendolyn squeezed her hand once and sat back. Madeleine returned the squeeze, but they both knew where the line had been drawn. Everything Gwendolyn learned, Madeleine did as well.  She knew how to run a great house, how to dress and conduct herself as a lady, and how to use house politics to her advantage.  But she would never need those things.  She was, after all, a companion, a maid—not highborn.

A scream stopped their conversation.  Another scream of pain followed. The litter shuddered to a stop. Yells and curses washed over the women in a cacophony.  Swallowing hard, Gwendolyn raised her hand halfway and paused.  In a burst of courage, she jerked the curtains open, daring to look.  Arrows whistled through the air, puncturing men and animals alike.  Ill-clad ruffians leapt from behind the bracken, brandishing arms and giving offense, attacking anyone within reach.  Lord Hampton fell, mortally wounded, his shield splintered.  Not far from him lay her brother, Phillip, pierced by arrows. She understood instantly as she ducked back in.  Her father and younger brother were dead.  Now only her oldest brother, Richard, and she carried the Hampton line.

“They’re slain!”  Her eyes, wide and alarmed, fixed on Madeleine while her mind whirled.  “Richard must be warned!”

Links to Buy 
About Magnolia Belle
My pen name “Magnolia Belle” came from a dream of one day owning a riverboat that offered dinner, sultry jazz and hot R&B while floating down the Mississippi. Realizing I didn’t have the millions it’d take to get that dream off the ground, I took the name to write under. I figured it’d be one hard to forget. Plus, it’s as southern as I am.
 
I live in Texas with my husband and our ‘pack’ of fuzzy children (aka dogs). Before that, I grew up in a military family and lived all across the US and in the Orient. In 1977, I got married and in 1978 I graduated with a degree in Accounting from Tarleton State University. Yeah, I know. BIG leap from accountant to novelist.  As editor of the University paper, I won first place in the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association Editorial competition in 1977. I was also a member of “Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities” in 1977-78, and graduated with high honors. A singer/songwriter and guitarist, I played with a band in the 1980s that made 3 albums.
 
I started my company, “Black Wolf Books” in 2005 as a venue to publish and sell my work. The name “Black Wolf” comes from the first series of 5 novels I’ve written (and am still working on).
 
My heritage includes at least two Indian nations, one on my mother’s side and the Iroquois on my father’s. Because of that, I write about American Indians with great respect. I also spend inordinate amounts of time in researching history, facts and personalities in the era they are presented.  Historical events and documentation (such as treaties) are cited in my novels, so readers can see what really happened.
 
My characters become very real to me, and I often find myself not writing, but rather taking dictation as they tell me their stories. That’s also why I tend to write in series of novels. My characters are a gabby bunch!
 

Book Review: Over The Rainbow by Brian Rowe

Brian Rowe, author of Over the Rainbow, talks about the difficulties he faced in getting this interesting book published.

Over the Rainbow marks my ninth self-published novel. I love the control I have over my work in self-publishing, and no book I’ve ever written has needed as much control as Over the Rainbow. This is a book that incorporates science fiction, fantasy, action adventure, and coming of age; it’s a book that deals with lesbianism, the rapture, The Wizard of Oz, and dinosaurs. I queried agents with this book between August 2012 and March 2013, and even those who liked it said that the book would never see the light of day without some of the creative elements being toned down a little, or eliminated completely. One agent, for example, told me I should cut out the dinosaurs. I knew from the beginning Over the Rainbow was going to be a difficult book to sell to agents and publishers, and in the end, I decided it was best with this one, probably more than any book I’ve written, to ultimately go the self-publishing route.

I’ve self-published many young adult books before, including the Happy Birthday to Me trilogy, but I’ve never written a book I care about more than Over the Rainbow, and this time, I really wanted to do it right. Not only have I pulled out all the stops with the marketing of the book, and worked hard to make sure the book had a beautiful cover, I’ve done all I can to ensure the manuscript is the best it can be. Many are wary of self-published books because they’ve been burned before, with so many typos and inconsistencies in the texts. But such is not the case with my new book. Not only have I done ten full drafts, twice the amount I usually do, but Over the Rainbow has been professionally edited by a traditionally published author, and copyedited by two different professional copyeditors. I’ve worked tirelessly night and day for the last few months in making sure the book reads just as professionally as would a traditionally published novel. The reader, every time out, deserves only the best.

Over the Rainbow is the first book I’ve self-published that will be appearing on five different platforms—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, and CreateSpace. For too long I stayed exclusive to Amazon, and this summer I decided to branch out to all the various platforms customers use to read their books. I’ve never been, and am still not, against traditional publishing, and will start querying my next young adult novel Magic Hour later this year. But self-publishing should never be looked at as a last resort. It is a viable option for all authors, and can be loads of fun. And in the case of Over the Rainbow, it proved to be the best route to go.

YA Fantasy
Date Published:  8/6/2013 

16-year-old Zippy Green never meant to fall in love with a girl, but when she does, her ultra-conservative father tries to send her to anti-gay camp. At the Kansas City airport, however, she hides inside a giant suitcase and sneaks onto an airplane headed not to the camp, but to Seattle, where her online love Mira lives. Halfway through the flight, the plane barrels out of control and crashes into the ground, knocking her unconscious.

When Zippy awakens, she finds that most of the passengers have vanished. She doesn’t know what’s happened, but she’s determined to find out. She begins a quest on foot toward Seattle, and along the way, she meets a teenager with a concussion , a homeless man with a heart condition, a child without a shred of bravery, and a terrier named Judy. Together the group discovers that more than two-thirds of the world’s population has mysteriously disappeared. But that’s only the beginning…

All Zippy wants is to find her Mira, but before she can she has to contend with two outside forces. The first is her homophobic father, who does everything in his power to keep her from the girl she loves. And the second is extinct creatures of all shapes and sizes, including living, breathing dinosaurs, which have replaced the missing population.

 

Excerpt

            When I came home from school, my dad was in the living room, alone, sitting upright. He wore a fancy gray business suit. Papers and brochures were sprawled out over the table.

He turned his head toward me in a slow, robotic fashion. “Sit down.”

I stared back at him. “What’s wrong?”

“Do what I ask.”

“But I have homework to do—”

Zipporah Green! I’m not going to say it again!”

I sat down and tried to pinpoint my crime. And then there it was, at the edge of the table: my most recent e-mail from Mira, the one in which she said she wanted me to come visit her this summer.

Dad turned to me, an expression on his face that suggested I wouldn’t escape this little chat alive.

“I know about Mira. I know all about your little friend from Seattle.”

The immediate pain in my gut almost doubled me over. For my father to be so condescending to call her “my little friend” made me want to pick up the living room table and throw it against the wall. “I’ve been meaning to tell you about her—”

“You’ve been talking to her online for two years? Zippy, I know you’ve struggled trying to follow the righteous path of Jesus Christ. But never in my wildest nightmares could I have ever conceived you, my own flesh and blood, as the most blasphemous of sinners.”

“Dad, it’s not like that.”

He wiped his sweaty fingers against his chin. “What’s it going to look like if my own child is a…” He struggled with the word. “A homo…”

I didn’t want to have to finish the word for him; he was a big boy. “A what, Dad?”

“A homosexual.”

I should have been cordial. I should have sat with my little hands in my little lap and pleasantly agreed with every statement he made. But it was time to be strong. “I don’t understand why you have to come down on me for this. Why can’t I have this one thing in my life that makes me happy? Mira makes me happy, Dad.”

“I can’t have a gay child,” he said. He hadn’t locked eyes with me since the start of our conversation. I always thought my dad to be close-minded, but I never knew him to be a wimp. “I can’t have a lesbian daughter. I love you, sweetheart, you know I do—but what you’re doing is wrong.”

I leaned toward him and whispered, “But it’s the only thing to me that’s right.”

I don’t think he heard me—at least, he pretended like he didn’t. “Promise me, here and now, that you will suspend all communications with this girl.”

“No.”

“No?”

“Dad, please—”

“I’m not asking.”

“You don’t even know her.”

“I don’t want to know her.”

I tried really, really hard not to cry. “If you could just look past your hate for one second, you’d be able to see that she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“You can’t mean that.”

“I do,” I said. “She’s my best friend.”

“Your best friend? But you’ve never even met her. For all you know, she could be—”

“I love her.”

He finally looked at me. His neck turned so slow I heard his bones twisting. “What did you say?”

“I love her, Dad. I do.”

My dad sighed and pushed away from the table, like the closest he could sit was a yard’s length away. He shook his head and stood up, his hands shoved into his pockets.

“Connie and I had a long talk about this,” he said. “We’ve decided to send you away this summer. To a camp.”

“A camp?” I shuddered. I didn’t know what to think. “What kind of camp?”

“It’s called Moral Inventories. It’s in Memphis. And it’s for teenagers like you who suffer from…” He searched for a word. “…abnormalities.”

Abnormalities?” I looked away. I didn’t want my father to see me cry.

He turned to me. His chiseled face emitted strobes of anger and resentment. “I’ve tried to guide you on the righteous path, but clearly I haven’t done enough. You need proper, around-the-clock assistance if you want to have any chance of being cured of this… disease.”

I sat there stupefied. I tried to think of something to say. I had nothing.

“You’re young, honey,” my dad said, in a calmer tone, “and I thank the Lord for that, because there’s time for you to be set free through the power of Jesus Christ. When our Lord and Savior returns to Earth and takes the Chosen up to Heaven, I don’t want you to be left behind.”

I narrowed my eyes, tried to make sense of his madness. “Are you talking about the rapture?”

“It could happen any day, sweetheart. You have to be prepared. We all do.”

My dad had officially passed over from closed-minded to completely nuts. “You really think this camp is going to make God love me more?” I breathed in deeply, then asked the most pivotal question of all: “You really think this camp is going to make me not gay?”

“It better.” My dad finally looked at me. “Because if it doesn’t, I’ll see to it you never come back.”

I ran upstairs to my bedroom, slammed the door so loud my framed Spice Girls poster fell and crashed against the carpet.

I wanted to write to Mira. Tell her what had happened.

But my computer was gone.

Review

This was a fantastic book! As a long time fan of the Wizard of Oz I’m always interested in alternate versions and inspired works and Over the Rainbow just made my list:) When Zippy escapes from her domineering religious fanatic father in the airport she begins her journey to find her long distance love in the Emerald City (Seattle). Along the way she meets Frankie, a man with a head injury who jokes he doesn’t have a brain, a frightened little black girl named Elle who doesn’t know what courage is and Mr. Baum, a Vietnam Vet with a bad heart. Did you catch the play on names there? Frank Elle Baum? Get it? FYI for those who are staring at the screen like a deer in headlights, Frank L. Baum is the author of the Oz stories. Oh and there’s also a little terrier named Judy who I’m guessing is a nod to the great Judy Garland.

I found myself speeding through the pages with my mouth open as Zippy and her friends face encounters with prehistoric animals, dinosaurs and Zippy’s crazy father but the ending was incredibly satisfying and I truly hope there’s a sequel in the future.

Well done Mr. Rowe! Six Ruby Slippers cuz cmon, what can you do with five?

Brian Rowe

Brian Rowe is a writing fiend, book devotee, film fanatic, and constant dreamer. He’s written nine novels, dozens of short stories, five feature-length screenplays, and hundreds of film articles and essays. His fiction has appeared in Dreamspinner Press, Mobius Magazine, and Wilde Oats Literary Journal. He is one half of the YA book blog Story Carnivores, where he reviews the latest in books and film. He is currently pursuing his MA in English at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is hard at work on his first New Adult novel, which will be released in November 2013.

Website: brianrowebooks.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17792829-over-the-rainbow

 

LINKS TO BUY 

Amazon Author Page

Book Review: Riverbend by Tess Thompson

In this follow up to River Song, Miss Thompson transports us back to the sleepy Oregon town now revitalized and the colorful characters who live and work there. This time we follow the story of Annie, talented chef of River Song whose sordid past involved an abusive ex-boyfriend, alcoholic and junkie with two strikes. When she discovers she’s pregnant and is given assistance by Planned Parenthood she makes a desperate attempt to escape and send the man to jail.

Ten years later the success of the River Song brings her past to her door as the father of her child is out on parole and hell bent on revenge. She finds solace from a wealthy recluse who’s new in town and in need of a personal chef. While both parties are wrapped up in their own problems they find themselves drawn to each other and Drake ends up acting as her protector.

This story had a kind of Beauty and the Beast feel to me which I loved. I also loved getting to know the people of River Valley better in a Return to Mayberry kind of way and I understand book 3 is now out.

Buy Riverbend on Amazon

Book Review: Riversong by Tess Thompson

Today it’s all about Ms. Tess Thompson! In this post I’ll be reviewing the first of Ms. Thompson’s books, Riversong as part of her virtual tour. Later, as a two for one special I’ll also review the sequel, Riverbend. So let’s begin shall we?

Lee Tucker lives a miserable existence. The death of the grandparents she never knew leaves her with a depressed alcoholic mother who she needs to cut away from in order to survive. With the urging of a teacher and family friend, Lee heads for Seattle where she dreams of becoming an artist. Of course life seems to like kicking Miss Tucker around and we find the young woman has abandoned her study of art for a degree in business and now has her hands full dealing with an aggressive loan shark who wants his $1 million now thanks to her husband who just committed suicide without telling her anything. Oh yeah and did I mention she’s pregnant?

Dun dun duuuuuuun!

After selling everything she has and only coming up with half the money owed, Lee flees back to her hometown in Oregon where she hopes to sell the house and property her mother left to her when she died the year before. Just like her life, Lee finds the little podunk town crumbling, dilapidated and struggling to stay alive. In search of work she finds herself face to face with the richest man in town, who desperately wants to save it, and is hired to turn his restaurant around and restore the town. As she struggles with her own personal fears and desperation to raise the rest of the money before the loan shark can find her and start over in a new town she finds herself becoming more and more endeared to the place she once grew up in and making friends. One especially hot and scrumptious friend, Tony Gonzalas, is compelled to come to her rescue and protect her and while Lee is still mourning the loss of her husband, blaming herself at times for not seeing the warning signs of his depression and suicidal tendencies, she’s also dealing with guilt for being attracted to Tony.

This is a very good book with compelling characters and a story that just draws you in. You can’t help but want to hug Lee, Linus and Annie and yes even Zac at times. The inner strength that many of these characters show as they pull together and battle their demons separately and together makes you root for them even harder as the story goes on and the romance is very sweet. My only complaint is that Tony seems to also smell and taste like chocolate. I don’t know if the author is equating chocolate with his being Latin or because she likes chocolate that much but as a Hispanic reader it’s a bit disconcerting  and took me out of the story every time I read that.

Other than that I really liked the story and dove straight into Riverbend. That review will come this afternoon:)

*As part of the virtual book tour, I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Book Review: The Disappearing Girl by Heather Topham Wood

New Adult Contemporary
Date Published: 5/7/2013
 

Kayla Marlowe is slowly vanishing…

Last year, Kayla’s world imploded. Her beloved father died, leaving her alone with a narcissistic mother who

is quick to criticize her daughter’s appearance. During her winter break from college, Kayla’s dangerous

obsession with losing weight begins.

Kayla feels like her world changes for the better overnight. Being skinny seems to be the key to the happiness

she has desperately been seeking. Her mother and friends shower her with compliments, telling her how

fantastic she looks. Kayla is starving, but no one knows it.

Cameron Bennett explodes into Kayla’s life. He’s sexy and kind—he has every quality she has been looking

for in a guy. As Cameron grows closer to Kayla and learns of how far she’s willing to go to stay thin, he

becomes desperate to save her.

Kayla’s struggles with anorexia and bulimia reach a breaking point and she is forced to confront her body

image issues in order to survive. She wonders if Cameron could be the one to help heal her from the pain of

her past.

 Review

College junior Kayla Marlowe has her share of personal demons. Since her father’s sudden death two years earlier she’s been fighting guilt over leaving her sister with her crazed mother, a former pageant princess obsessed with appearance, while she goes off to college. Everything comes to a head when criticism of her weight over Christmas vacation sets Kayla on a downward spiral with anorexia and bulimia. Even when she meets the delicious Cameron who falls head over heels for her, she can’t get it into her head that she’s too fat and worthless to be loved by anyone.

The Disappearing Girl is a damn good book! Not only does it cover how a young woman could seem completely normal while battling with psychological and emotional problems but also how eating disorders affect friends and family as well. You’ll absolutely fall in love with Cameron, the sweet, sexy and intelligent man who stands by Kayla through thick and thin from telling an old girlfriend to piss off after her pathetic attempt to make Kayla believe the two had just slept together to telling off her the evil Mrs. Marlowe for warping her daughters’ minds and nuking their self esteem. Whether you’ve suffered or are suffering from an eating disorder or know someone who is or you just want to read a really good, well written story, The Disappearing Girl is a must read. Just make sure to have lots of tissues ready!

Excerpt

I was gasping for air when I moved my mouth away from his. Kissing his neck, I said in a teasing voice, “You do realize I never got to see that tattoo you told me about.”

His laughter was choked with desire. His eyes were feverish as he stared down at my body, watching how I straddled his waist. My hands inched under the edge of his t-shirt and he helped me remove it. This was the first time I had seen Cameron shirtless, and I was desperately trying not to drool.

Every part of him was cut and lean. My eyes were immediately drawn to the hard muscles of his abs. His arms and chest were toned as well, and I imagined how it would feel to have my lips on his exposed skin.

The tattoo was on his left side, placed inches above his hipbone. The tattoo was of a tombstone, and it held the epitaph, “Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt.” The words resonated with me and it brought upon feelings I’d tried to bury. I swallowed audibly as I searched my memory for the source of the quote.

“I didn’t realize you were a Kurt Vonnegut fan. It doesn’t fit with your cheerful persona,” I said.

“It’s my mom’s favorite quote. I’ll warn you again about how it’s never a good idea to get a tattoo after you’ve been drinking.”

I leaned down closer to get a better look, but snapped back up when I realized the suggestive position I’d put myself in. Cameron lightly gripped my hair behind my head and gazed at me intently. “You have no idea how badly I want you right now, but please tell me if we’re moving too fast. I’m trying to show restraint and not rip off your clothes and haul you off to bed.”

I was instantly aroused by the growl in his voice. I couldn’t resist anymore and ran my hands slowly over every hard plane of his sculpted upper body. Stopping at his tattoo, I mindlessly began to trace the outline with my fingertips.

“I want to be with you,” I said, but I couldn’t meet his eyes. “But I’m a reserved person and I’m nervous about getting undressed in front of you.”

His hand rested against my cheek. “You have nothing to be nervous about. I think you’re absolutely beautiful, but I get the sense …” he hesitated. Then he said, “That you don’t realize how gorgeous you are.”

I ducked my head shyly. “You don’t have to say those things; you’ve already won me over.”

Cameron didn’t let me finish. “Kayla, stop. I’m serious. I’ve noticed how little you eat and how much weight you’ve lost since we first met. I have a younger sister, and I understand how extreme some girls can get about their weight. She’s always trying some sort of crazy diet.”

He was scratching at the truth, getting too close to the heart of the matter. I was suddenly ashamed, understanding I hadn’t been able to hide my weaknesses from him after all. Cameron wanted to know all of me and he wasn’t going to permit me shutting him completely out.

Standing up, I felt myself at a crossroads. I could leave, run away from the only happiness I’d known since my father died. Or I could try to work through my issues and trust Cameron not to break my heart.

“You never showed me the rest of your place,” I whispered.

He rose from the sofa and held me tightly. I rested my head against his chest and listened to the frantic racing of his heart. I smiled to myself and found myself falling more and more for him.

 

New Adult Contemporary-Ages 17+ due to language and sexual situations.

Virtual Book Tour – May 27 – June 21
 
May 27 – Reading Addiction Blog Tours – Meet and Greet
May 28 – The Book Divas – Guest Post/PROMO
May 29 – Kindle Obsessed – Review
May 30 – Mama Knows Books – Review
May 30 – Pink Fluffy Hearts – PROMO
May 31 – Hooked in a Book – Review/interview
June 1 – Simply Me – Review/Interview
June 2 – The Selkie Reads – Review/Guest Post
June 3 – Book Referees – Review/Interview
June 4 – My Cozie Corner–  Review
June 4 – Paulette’s Papers – Guest Post/PROMO
June 5 – Faerie Tale Books – Review/Guest Post
June 6 – A Bibliophile’s Thoughts – Review
June 7 – Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Interview/PROMO
June 8 – Busy Mom Book Reviews–  Review
June 8 – Must Read Faster – PROMO
June 9 – Uttleys Take – Guest Post/PROMO
June 10 – Bean Counting Mommy – Review
June 11 – Bunny’s Reviews – PROMO
June 12 – Romance Book Addict – Review/interview
June 13 – My Devotional Thoughts– PROMO
June 14 – Debbie Jean – Review/Interview
June 15 – Bookishly Devoted – Review
June 16 – The Muse Unleashed – Review
June 17 – Book Bunny’s Burrow – Guest Post/PROMO
June 18 – Bianca2B – Review/Guest Post
June 19 – Noemi Betancourt – Review
June 21 –RABT Reviews – Review
Heather Wood

Author Bio

Heather Topham Wood’s obsession with novels began in childhood while growing up in a shore town in New Jersey. Writing since her teens, she recently returned to penning novels after a successful career as a freelance writer. She’s the author of the Second Sight series and the standalone The Disappearing Girl.

Heather graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2005 and holds a bachelor’s degree in English. Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as USA Today, Livestrong.com, Outlook by the Bay and Step in Style magazine. She resides in Trenton, New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Besides writing, Heather is a pop culture fanatic and has an obsession with supernatural novels and TV shows.

Book Review: The Reluctant Goddess by A.F. Firebird

Metaphysical Fiction
Date Published: March 2012
 

Ellena Ripley is a bookshop owner from a rural town in the south of England – or so she thinks. But lately, she has a growing sense that life is not as it seems. At night, she dreams of a serene man who appears to be trying to tell her something; In the day, she can’t shake a feeling of expectation. But of what?

Meanwhile Hector, servant of LIFE and the man from Ellena’s dreams, has a dilemma. How do you tell someone they are a goddess? His previous attempts have met with disaster so he must be cautious, particularly when his new trainee, Boudica, formerly Queen of the Iceni tries to help. The question is can they succeed before it is too late?  

Excerpt

Look, said the large blue book on practical magic. We’re not going to get anywhere like this. We all need to work together. Let’s focus on one book and see if we can get her to pick it up.

But which one of us… she needs to learn so much said a pale yellow book called “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui”. His general demeanour suggested he was pretty sure that it wasn’t going to be him.

“It’s me”, said the copy of “Spiritual Growth for Beginners”.

“I have a chapter on change that’s absolutely perfect for this occasion”. There was a general murmur of agreement as Spiritual Growth for Beginners continued, “Okay, so if you can all point to me than maybe our combined intention can catch her attention”.

The books gasped and grunted as they focused all their will on the little blue and gold book.

***

Ellena felt a peculiar sensation, like the ocean with no breeze. She shook it off and scanned the books. A small gold and blue book caught her eye. She picked it out. Spiritual Growth for Beginners. The book attempted to nuzzle her, which isn’t easy with a hardback cover, and purred. Ellena did not notice. The rest of the section cheered but Ellena did not hear them.

She opened the book at random, whereupon page two hundred and twenty two leapt at the chance, revealing to Ellena the seventh chapter: Change – Mission Impossible or Trial by Chocolate Cake?

Promising title, thought Ellena as she read on.

Mission impossible, or trial by chocolate cake? It’s your choice, so choose wisely. The fact is, change is going to happen if you like it or not, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that change is causing you pain. It is not. Your resistance is what causes discomfort. The more you resist, the more difficult your life will become and the more painful your daily experiences will be. The only reason you change is because part of you wants to progress, so to resist is simply fighting with yourself….

Ellena could hear a customer entering the shop. She hurriedly replaced the book. She walked to the front of the shop, oblivious to the celebration going on in the New Age section.

 Review

While the stories were fairly riveting, figuring out how they connected was a bit confusing at first. I don’t know whether or not the pacing was intentional, but once you realize where the story is going The Reluctant Goddess really takes off. This is definitely an interesting read with a nice use of mythological and religious figures and concepts. The characters are endearing and the little plot twists Firebird sprinkles throughout the book keeps the reader guessing. Fans of Fantasy and mythology should find this a very enjoyable read:)

Virtual Book Tour June 10 – June 28
June 10- Reading Addiction Blog Tours – Meet and Greet
June 11- Gothic Angel Book Reviews – Review
June 11 – Whatever You Can Still Betray– PROMO
June 12- Jody’s Book Reviews – PROMO
June 12 – Books, Authors, Blogs – Interview/PROMO
June 13- Reviewing Shelf – Review
June 13 – Must Read Faster – PROMO
June 14- Busy Mom Book Reviews – Review
June 15- In This World of Books – Review
June 15 – Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Interview/PROMO
June 16- Andi’s Book Reviews – Interview/PROMO
June 17- Playing Jokers – Review
June 18- Word to Dreams -PROMO
June 19- Noemi Betancourt – Review
June 19 – Read-A-Holicz – PROMO
June 21- My Cozie Corner – Review
June 21 – Snifferwalk Books – Interview/PROMO
June 22- The Luv’n – Interview/PROMO
June 23-Bunny’s Reviews – Interview/PROMO
June 24- Queen of All She Reads – Review
June 25-Bibliophilia, Please – Interview/PROMO
June 26- The Book Maven – Review
June 27-Wintry Words – Interview/PROMO
June 28- RABT Reviews – Review
A. F. Firebird

A.F. Firebird is the alter ego of a sociologist/psychologist turned web developer from the UK. While A.F. Firebird has worked in several fields her primary focus is the exploration of six virtues: appreciation, forgiveness, compassion, humility, understanding and valour. Her first novel, The Reluctant Goddess, numerous short stories and children’s books, all investigate aspects of these virtues.

Website

Buy Links

paperback or kindle at Publisher Site: http://www.posegroup.org/books/trg/buy/index.html#buy

paperback or kindle at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com

http://www.amazon.co.uk