Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #76 (18.3)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

A worried Ryan is determined to find Ben, who raced off into the night in Cameron's car. Luckily, he finds an ally in Aiden, and soon the whole band is determined to help.Can they find Ben before it's too late? See what's happening in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #76 (18.3)

Within minutes of Aiden sending a text, Deacon and Keanu were knocking at the door.

“Sorry to wake you,” Ryan apologized, out of habit, once they entered the room.

“Not a problem,” Deacon assured him. “This is way more important than sleep.”

“Not that we were asleep,” Keanu added with a knowing wink.

“Thanks for coming so quickly, guys,” Aiden said. He filled in the two men on what was happening, both the situation with Ben and the one with Abby and Cameron. “That’s why we need the van,” he finished. “We need to find Ben as soon as possible.”

Ryan had always considered Deacon to be the more calm and rational member of the pair, and he was proving Ryan to be correct in this instance. Deacon glanced between him and Aiden, then to Abby. “Why don’t I go with Ryan to find Ben?” he suggested. “Keanu can wait here with you and keep an eye out for Cameron, in case he decides to come back. Not that I think he will, but the man doesn’t always use his common sense.”

Ryan thought Aiden looked torn between his desire to find Ben and his need to keep Abby safe. He glanced at his twin, as if deciding where he was needed most, then nodded.

“Maybe we should go wait in your room?” Aiden said to Ryan. “In case Ben comes back first. Cameron won’t think to bother Abby there.”

That made sense. Ryan pulled the key card from his pocket and handed it to Aiden. “Thanks,” he said. “I appreciate this. If Ben should come back, please call me right away. You have my number, right?”

“I have everyone’s numbers,” Aiden said. “Go on now. We’ll be fine.”

Everyone exited the hotel room at the same time. Abby gave Ryan a hug as Keanu and Deacon exchanged a quick kiss. “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay,” she murmured. Then the three headed off toward Ryan and Ben’s room as Ryan followed Deacon to the van. Deacon unlocked the passenger door then rounded the front of the van and got in himself. The night was eerily still. Ryan’s heart was racing, fearful for Ben, worried for him. He must feel so lost and alone. What was he thinking?
Deacon started the van. “Any idea where he might have gone?”

“No, not a clue. I just know he was upset when he left. But he doesn’t know this town any better than we do, does he?”

“I wouldn’t think so,” Deacon replied, tapping his fingers against the steering wheel. “I’ll just choose a direction and start driving. While I do, you want to keep calling him, see if you can get him to pick up?” He made a right onto the road as he spoke, quickly leaving the motel lights behind them.

Good idea. Ryan pulled out his phone and tried again to reach Ben. His call went straight to voice mail this time. After trying three more times, he sighed and gave up.

“How upset would you say Ben is?” Deacon glanced at Ryan.

“On a scale of one to ten? Probably a hundred,” Ryan replied.

“He’s that upset with his mother? I’m not trying to be nosy, I just want to understand his mindset, you know? I didn’t know Liza very long or very well. Ben disbanded Primary Wisdom shortly after Keanu and I got there. And then he formed Salvation, and she wasn’t in the picture any more. But he never really gave any explanation for what happened and we never discussed it.  I got the impression, though, from the little that I saw of her and some of what went down back then, that she was pure poison. Very controlling and very demanding.”

“That’s putting it mildly,” Ryan said.

“Then maybe… now, don’t take this the wrong way, but maybe we should head down to the river,” Deacon suggested.

Ryan gave him an alarmed look. “Why? You don’t think… he wouldn’t….”

“Better safe than sorry,” Deacon said. Ryan couldn’t argue with that.

That was as good a place as any to look. Not like there were a lot of places open at this time of night. He didn’t think Ben would be interesting in shopping.

Ryan stared morosely at the darkened buildings they passed, paying no real attention to where they were. Was Ben really so desperate… had she abused him so badly that he couldn’t stand to live anymore, knowing what had happened to him? Or was it the shame of having his secret revealed?

If they found him… no, scratch that. When they found him, Ryan would make Ben see that none of that mattered, he didn’t care. None of that was his fault, and he loved him, unconditionally, no matter what.

When Ryan looked up, he realized Deacon had found his way to a street that paralleled the river. No boats were moving at this time of night, and traffic on the road was sparse. The river was a lot longer than he’d imagined. Ben could be anywhere. Would they be able to find him, especially if he didn’t want to be found?

After maybe an hour of fruitless searching, Deacon pulled into an empty parking lot, underneath a light standard, and pulled out his phone.

“What’s the matter?” Ryan asked, alarmed. He hadn’t heard the phone ring, but maybe Deacon had it set on vibrate. Maybe Ben had come back… or something worse.

“Nothing,” Deacon assured him. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.” He began to fiddle with his phone. Ryan had no idea what he was doing, but he mentally crossed his fingers that whatever it was had to do with finding Ben.

“There’s a device manager on all our phones. I’ve never needed to use it before, but you can get the location of any of the others using this.”

“What if the phone’s not on?” Ryan fretted.

“Doesn’t matter. And bingo, there he is.”

to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 8 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 8              

Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: August 3, 2005
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Kiskue Uruhara is training Ichigo so that he can go to the Soul Society and rescue Rukia before she is executed. But Kiskue’s tests are… well, something else. In fact, some might call them extreme. This one is called encroachment, where the chain Ichigo is attached to at the bottom of a deep hole begins to devour itself. If they get too close to Ichigo, they’ll devour him. If he doesn’t get out of that hole within seven days, he’ll become a Hollow and they’ll have to put him down!

Meanwhile, Mr. Yoruichi, the talking cat, is training Orihime and Chad to prepare them to accompany Ichigo to the Soul Society. But so far results haven’t been the best. The feline tells them to remember what was going on when their powers first manifested, who did they want to protect.

Jinta and Ururu think Ichigo is transforming and want to dispatch him, but Kiskue bids them to wait. Ichigo finds himself in a strange place with a strange man in black, who tries to get Ichigo to realize who he is. A figure is seen emerging from the shaft, but is it Ichigo or a Hollow?

For the third test, Kiskue tells Ichigo to knock his hat off. Sounds simple, but nothing is every truly easy where Mr. Hat-and-clogs is concerned!

Back in the Soul Society, Byakuya pronounces sentence on Rukia, who seems resigned to her fate. 
Afterward, he is approached by two of the other captains—Gin Ichimaru of 3rd Squad and Kenpachi Zaraki of the 11th Squad. (An odd couple, indeed)

Ichigo is finding that it’s not as easy to knock off Kiskue’s hat as he imagined. Will Uruhara really kill him if he gets the chance? Or is that just a part of his training technique?

And where is Ishida? Why isn’t he training? Or does he really intend to stay out of this?

And what the heck is the Wall of Koryu, and just how dangerous is it?

This volume of Bleach is all about Ichigo and his companions preparing themselves to enter the Soul Society and rescue Rukia, a daunting task at best. There are so many questions that need to be answered! One advantage of reading the manga, even while watching the anime, is that the manga sometimes explains things I wondered about. Like how all these people stand around in the middle of the air as though they were on solid ground. Zangetsu explains to Ichigo that it is the reishi floating in the air that coalesces and allows the Soul Reapers to apparently stand on nothing. Good to know!
Kiskue Uruhara is a very strange and unusual character. The mysterious shop owner must have more to him than we can see, considering the powers he displays when training Ichigo. Who or what is he? Sorry, gotta wait for his backstory. Same with the talking cat.

With Bleach, never assume that what you see is what you get. Or that people are what they seem. I’ve been fooled by that before. More than once. This volume has a lot going on, but there are still questions.

How can Byakuya be so calm as to accept the execution of his sister? Why is she so resigned to such a fate? There has to be more to it than this. I believe, even when this situation is resolved, that the truth goes far deeper, and that even as far as I am in the anime, I don’t know everything. But I have my suspicions, which it’s too early to share. Let me just say that I believe everything happens for a reason and nothing is coincidence.

Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 4 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 4      

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo
Publisher: Yen Press
American release date: April 15, 2014
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/208 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Medusa uses Eruka to free a prisoner from the witch jail. Surrounded by prison guards, the prisoner shows why he is no ordinary man. Back at DWMA, Maka tells Soul, to his dismay, that she has requested special tutoring from Dr. Stein. Stein warns them that if they fail, they may never be able to match soul wavelengths again. But Maka decides to take the risk, wanting to get stronger so she will never put Soul into danger again. When Stein tells them what they need to do, it sounds simple in theory, but doesn’t exactly work out that way.

Make, Soul, Black Star, and Tsubaki are in London! While attempting to cross a bridge, they encounter the escaped prisoner, who’s now working for Medusa. They realize he is on Shinigami’s list, so think their assignment is off to a good start. But this man isn’t what he seems, and he is stronger than they think! Medusa watches from the sideline, waiting to see how Soul’s black blood will react to the situation.

Stein warns his students that it is almost time for his “ultimate written exam”, which is required for meisters and weapons alike. Some students are more excited than others, and Maka is determined to rise to the top of her class. Unknown to her, her father is sending her “good luck” vibes. Maka finds getting Soul to study is difficult at best, while Black Star’s methods leave something to be desired. As far as Death the Kid is concerned, he has no need to study because he’s a Shinigami.

Death the Kid and his father are in a rowboat being rowed by the Thompson Sisters investigating the sighting of a mysterious black dragon that has apparently bitten off part of the Baltic coast!  They come upon an old ratty ship, the ghost ship Nidhogg, and the pursuit is on! Presuming this is the terrifying Black Dragon, Kid and the girls board the ship ready to do battle. In the process, they learn disturbing news concerning the DWMA.

Maka confides in Dr. Medusa her concerns regarding the black blood she coughed up, but Medusa assures her all is well and offers her some medicine. Stein may be on to her. Suspicious, he sends Sid to investigate her, which doesn’t end well. Kid tries to speak to his father of his concerns, but that doesn’t go well either.

I love the humor in Soul Eater, and I love the characters Atsushi Ohkubo has created. I even think Maka’s dad is cute, although very flaky and unreliable. Soul and Black Star are goofy and immature, but they are both good boys underneath it all. Maka and Tsubaki provide the stability in their lives. I like Death the Kid too, even if he has issues of his own. I liked the adventure with Kid and the Thompson sisters on the ship. I think it’s the first time, I haven’t seen him leave the scene to check on a supposed asymmetry.

The arc with Medusa continues, Now that they seem to be on to her, hopefully they can take measures to counter everything she’s done or plans to do. We see Crona and Ragnarok again. Hopefully we’ll see the end of all of them soon, including this new guy, Free. I’m sure there will be other villains, of course.

Another good volume of Soul Eater, looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Virtual Book Blast: House of Ash and Brimstone

Good morning! Please welcome author Megan Starks to Full Moon Dreaming. She will be telling us about her new release, House of Ash and Brimstone. Megan will be awarding a prize pack of best selling urban fantasy romance plus a copy of House of Ash and Brimstone to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour via Rafflecopter. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

House of Ash & Brimstone
by Megan Starks


GENRE:  Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy Romance



Hell has come to collect…

…but Gisele Walker has no plans to pay the debt.

As a half-demon paranormal bounty hunter, Gisele is used to flirting with death, but stealing a curio and opening a portal to Hell’s demon court is more than your average day job.

Now, she’s partnered with an infuriatingly handsome demon, Shade, who has more levels of grey than she can count.

Who can she trust to help save the city as Baltimore burns to the ground and ghouls roam the streets?

With a white-hot attraction burning between them and secrets blocking their path, Gisele must face her past and venture into the twisted heart of the demon royal court.

But with no memory of her past…

…will she be able to save their future?



A jumble of computer equipment and business supplies littered the office floor. Orange, blue, and manila folders spilled from an overturned metal cabinet. And in the shadows, Shade sat slumped in her green swivel chair, the hundred-page contract in his hands. He’d torn half of the place and the whole of her desk apart. He’d rummaged through her files, knocked over her pen and paperclip jars, and ripped the bottom right drawer out completely, dropping it on the floor. It was the drawer she kept locked—the drawer she’d left the contract in.

Clearly, it was what he’d been searching for.

“Real mature,” she said, irritated with his reckless, temperamental violence and his blatant disregard for her privacy. “Find what you were looking for?”

No doubt he planned to tattle on her to their boss. Her contract aside, the grimgolem was going to blow a gasket when he accounted for the damage to their computers alone.

“I hope it was worth it for you,” she continued, “because I am not cleaning this up.”

Rather than glare at her, he looked away. His brows drew together, lips pressing a tight line. “It wasn’t supposed to happen this way,” he said, voice raw. “They’ve tricked me.”

“Who has?” Gisele asked, but he ignored her.

The muscles in his arms corded as he gripped the contract tighter, crinkling the thick stack of pages, and she knew who he meant. He really was working with them—the elghoul and its master. For them. Working against her.

Son of a gun.

She chucked a stapler at him hard enough to bruise his chest, then crossed the room, closing the distance until she could have yanked him up by the collar of his soiled, bloody shirt. Instead, she smacked her hand on the desktop. Wood splintered.

“The woman in this contract? Who is she?”

“I can’t tell you that,” he answered, not even looking at her. Not even now. He sounded so defeated. “They’re going to kill you, and they’re going to use me to do it.”

“But why?”

“Because they’re cruel.” Bitterness swirled in his voice. “Because they can.”

And if they demanded it of him, he’d do it, just like that? What kind of a cold-blooded monster was he?

“Are you going to?” she asked, dreading his answer. “Going to rip me apart with your claws? Tear my throat out?”

The image of him, darkly winged and terrifying in the Office of the Paranormal, came crawling back, unwanted.

“Would you really do it?” she asked. It hurt, but she needed to hear him say it. “What happened to ‘I’ll protect you, so you don’t have to be afraid’?”

His little declaration hadn’t even lasted four hours.

“I won’t have a choice.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Author bio:
Megan Starks is the award-winning author of the Gatewalkers urban fantasy series and a game writer at Obsidian Entertainment. A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, Writers Guild of America award nominee, and Pitch Wars alumna with an MFA in fiction, Megan enjoys reading and writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and fantasy novels. Whether it's dark demons, brooding vampires, howling werewolves, or feisty witches, Megan loves it all.

When she's not penning novels about magic and strong, kick-butt heroines, she enjoys playing video games and spending time with her husband and their cat, Sushi, in California.

Look for Night of Sunder & Sorrow, the sequel to House of Ash & Brimstone, coming in Spring 2020.

Get a free prequel to House of Ash & Brimstone by joining Megan’s mailing list at:

Crave more #Gatewalkers? For updates and to chat about writing, video games, coffee, and cute kitty-cats, come hang out on any of these sites:

Buy links:  The book is $0.99 during the tour.

Amazon Print (won't be live until released day):
Publisher (City Owl Press):

 Social media links:



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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #75 (18.2)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

The truth has come out about Liza and Ben... and what she did to him... and Ben has fled the scene. Ryan is beside himself. He only wants Ben back. What is he going to do? See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #75 (18.2)

What was he going to do? Where was Ben going? Was he even okay to be driving, as upset as he was? Horrible images flashed through Ryan’s mind. Car crashes, flames… all too horrible to contemplate. Not like he could chase after him either, not without a car.

Wait! He had his phone, right? He could call Ben, try to get him to calm down and come back to him. Assuming he wasn’t too late…

No, no, stop thinking that way. He yanked his phone from his pocket, found Ben’s number and called, counting the rings. C’mon, c’mon, pick up please.  But after a few rings, his call went to voice mail. Ryan hung up and called back, with the same result.

A searing pain knifed through Ryan’s heart. He didn’t care about what Liza had said, monstrous as it was. If she was telling the truth—and he couldn’t be sure of that, although that would be a terrible admission to make if untrue, but would explain Ben’s reaction—even so, it wouldn’t have been Ben’s fault. Ben was not to blame here. He had to make him see that he loved him, no matter what. But how to find him? They were in a strange city, in the middle of the night. Where to even start?

What to do, what to do, what to do? Sitting inside the hotel room doing nothing was driving him crazy. He patted his pocket to make sure the key card was still there, slid his phone into the other pocket and left the motel room.

The night was pitch black, not a star to be seen, the moon either. The band’s van sat beneath a light standard, the spot beside it empty where Cameron’s sedan had been parked. He spotted Marge’s car not far from the van. For a moment, he thought of asking to borrow it, but then decided he wouldn’t bother her, not when she was probably asleep.

 Even at this late hour, Ryan could hear the faint sounds of traffic nearby. Most of the motel rooms seemed to be dark, though, not surprisingly. Ryan began to pace back and forth, trying to figure out what to do. Finding Ben was imperative, but he couldn’t just call an Uber—assuming he could get one at this hour—and ask to be driven around without a set destination.

Lost in thought, Ryan jumped when he felt a hand touch his shoulder. His heart leapt at the idea that Ben had returned, even if he hadn’t heard or seen the car. But when he whirled around, it was Aiden’s familiar face that met his eyes.

“Ryan, what are you doing out here?” Aiden asked. “You guys aren’t fighting, are you?”

Fighting? Hardly. Ryan fought back a sob, but it was a losing proposition. “Oh god, I wish it was just that.” He began to shake, afraid he was going to lose it right here, right now. Luckily, Aiden was too self-possessed and in control to let that happen.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” he said, pulling Ryan into his arms to calm him. Ryan managed to get out the story as he attempted to pull himself together.

Aiden listened without making any comment until Ryan was done. “Let’s go down to my room,” he suggested.

“What about Abby? Isn’t she asleep?” Ryan didn’t want to disturb her, but Aiden shook his head.

“No, we had an unexpected visitor. That’s why I was hanging around outside, keeping watch in case he returned, but then I saw you and I wondered what was up.”

An unexpected visitor? “Cameron?” Ryan hazarded a guess.

“You know it. That man doesn’t know when to quit.”

Wasn’t that the truth?

The twins’ room was only a few doors down from Ben and Ryan’s. When they reached the door, Aiden knocked in what was probably a pre-arranged pattern, then used his card to let them in. Abby was awake, dressed in a robe and nightgown, sitting on her bed. She was surprised to see Ryan with her brother.

“Don’t tell me Cameron’s haunting you too?” She peered behind them. “Where’s Ben? Asleep?”

Aiden gave Ryan a quick hug and told him to sit beside Abby. She looked between the two men then put an arm around Ryan, almost intuitively, as Aiden caught her up on what had happened. At least as much as Ryan had told him. He’d left out the part about Ben having been in his mother’s bed.

“That bitch!” Abby cried angrily. “I knew she was trouble back then. I knew there was something wrong with her. I was just happy when Ben wanted to start a new band. Without her.”

“Yeah, I know,” Aiden agreed. Ryan noticed Aiden didn’t meet his eyes, and it struck him that maybe he already knew, or suspected, but didn’t want to say anything. More and more, it seemed as though Liza was telling the truth about her and Ben, and the knowledge sickened him. No wonder Ben had avoided her, and no wonder he was desperately trying to keep Ryan from learning what had happened. He had to find him, let him know it didn’t matter, he still loved Ben, and he didn’t blame him for anything.

“We have to find him,” Ryan said. “I… I don’t know what he might do, as upset as he is.”

“You’re right, we have to find him. As soon as possible,” Aiden agreed.

“But how? He’s got the car,” Ryan pointed out.

“We have the van,” Abby said.

“Do you have the keys?” Ryan asked.

“No, but I can text Deacon. He won’t mind.”

Ryan started to protest but he realized Aiden was probably right. Deacon and Keanu would want to know. The important thing right now was to find Ben… as quickly as possible.

to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Virtual Book Tour: Stealing Kisses in the Snow by Jo McNallly

Good morning! Please welcome author Jo McNally to Full Moon Dreaming. She is here to tell us about her new release, Stealing Kisses in the Snow. Jo will be awarding one print copy of Slow Dancint at Sunrise and one print copy of Stealing Kisses in the Snow (US and Canada only) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. The more you comment, the greater your chances of winning. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!

Stealing Kisses in the Snow
by Jo McNally


GENRE:   Contemporary Romance



Maybe "perfect" is over-rated...

Between juggling two kids, two jobs, and a fixer-upper house, single mom Piper Montgomery is so busy she can hardly see straight.  But when rugged biker Logan Taggert strolls into the B&B where she’s working, she can’t help but stare.  He has bad boy written all over him. She’s promised her kids a “perfect Christmas” this year, and bad boys aren’t part of the plan. But how can she resist?

Once his grandmother is back on her feet, Logan can leave her Victorian B&B get back on the road.  It’s where he belongs after all, even if his grandmother’s matchmaking book club biddies try to convince him otherwise.  But there’s something about beautiful, spitfire Piper that makes him wonder if kids and commitment might be just what he needs after all.

As Christmas draws ever closer, so do Piper and Logan.  Could these two opposites find all they want this Christmas is each other?



The woman hesitated, glancing back at her daughter. Momma Bear had saved her cub. She swallowed a couple times, then gestured to the door with the mop. Her voice still shook, but the volume lowered.

“You need to go.”

“I’m sorry I startled you. I’ve had a long-ass…” He glanced at the kid and grimaced.

“It’s been a long trip, and I got caught in a rainstorm just south of here. I haven’t eaten since yesterday’s dinner…”

Her eyes softened a fraction, even as she held the mop out firmly. She nodded toward the door. “The Methodist church three blocks over has a food pantry, and the Catholic church does soup and bread every Wednesday for whoever stops in. Father Joe might be able to help you find a place to sleep. But you can’t stay here.”

Logan couldn’t stop his bark of laughter, even though it made her jump. She thought he was homeless? He couldn’t decide if he was offended or impressed. Clearly scared out of her wits, she was still kind enough to offer him a chance at hot food and a bed. Yeah, definitely impressed. It was no surprise she worked for his grandmother, who was also a tough-as-nails woman who cared about others far more than she ever let on. Her eyes started to narrow again, so he tried to clarify that he wasn’t some random vagrant.

“Actually, I can stay here.”

She lifted the cell phone. Not good. His words tumbled out. “I’m Logan Taggart. This is my grandmother’s place. I know I look like Sasquatch right now, but I’m honestly just here to help my grandmother.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jo McNally lives in coastal North Carolina with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – her slice of the bed is very small. When she's not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed...), she can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends, listening to great music. If the weather is absolutely perfect, she'll occasionally join her husband on the golf course, where she always feels far more competitive than her actual skill-level would suggest.

Author Links



The Transformative Power of Love

If I had to come up with a theme that ran through all of my romance books, it would have to be love’s ability to fundamentally change people. Of course, all kinds of love (parent-child, child-sibling, etc.) can change us, but since I write romance, I’m referring to what falling in love can do to a person. 

I’ve used the phrase “healing” power of love before, but that can be misleading. Love alone does not have the power to heal. If that was the case, we’d never lose loved ones in our lives. We can’t love someone out of addiction or illness. But love provides the motivation to change, and that can make all the difference. 

In my first book, She’s Far From Hollywood, Bree’s love can’t singlehandedly resolve Cole’s combat-related PTSD. But Cole loves her so much that he checks into a rehab center to deal with his issues and become a better man for her. Her love motivated his healing. 

In my current book, Stealing Kisses in the Snow, both Logan and Piper need to change, and it scares them to death. Piper’s determined to give her two children a “perfect” Christmas, convinced it will help rebuild their family after the death of their father overseas several years earlier. But the kids have been uprooted into the pink Victorian house she bought for them, and they’re anxious and resentful in their own ways. Teenager Ethan is sullen and moody, while 4-year-old Lily frantically wants everyone to be happy, even though she’s having nightmares on a regular basis. 

Piper is exhausted and frazzled, but determined to make everything right for her family. When laid-back oil rig worker Logan Taggart rolls into town, he quietly blows up all of her plans, which definitely didn’t include falling in love with a man who doesn’t believe in putting down roots and staying put. Logan grew up following his father around the country as his dad chased one failed dream after another. He doesn’t know how to stay in one place, and never figured he needed to. Until he met Piper and her family. 

His love for her motivates him to reconsider his life choices. Her love for him, after some struggles, fears, family interference and near-disaster, helps Piper realize what’s truly important for her and for her family. She learns that “perfect” is overrated, and love is worth the risk.   

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Book Review: The Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

Sword of Destiny (The Witcher series)      

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Publisher: Orbit
American release date: December 1, 2015
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy/LGBTQ/400 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Geralt of Rivia, known as the Witcher, returns in another collection of short stories chronicling his adventures.

The Bounds of Reason – The people Geralt does jobs for are not always appreciative, and are sometimes downright dishonest. Having almost had his personal possessions stolen, Geralt makes the acquaintance of a man called Borch, known as Three Jackdaws, and his girls, Téa and Véa, two Zerrikanian warriors. They travel together to an inn known as the Pensive Dragon, where they eat and drink well, and talk about things such as dragons. Taking to the road again, they attempt to cross a bridge, only to find their way barred by soldiers who insist that only those with a safe-conduct can go through, by orders of King Niedamir, Lord of Caingorn. They aren’t the first to be stopped from crossing, and among the others Geralt finds Dandelion, who mentions the King and a dragon. Apparently a dragon appeared on the pastures outside Barefield and now the hunt is on. Three Jackdaws, amused by the tale, offers to pay the bribe required to get them through the blockade, to search for the dragon. They run into the other groups who’ve been allowed past, including a group of dwarves, a cobbler named Sheepbagger and his contingent, a sorcerer named Dorregeray, and the sorceress Yennefer, whom Geralt hasn’t seen in four years.

A Shard of Ice – Geralt and Yennefer are living together in a town called Aedd Gynvael, which translates to a shard of ice. Something about this town is rubbing Gerald the wrong way. People seem to know things they aren’t telling him. When Geralt tells the mayor he doesn’t intend to stay for any length of time, the mayor suggests he might like to talk with the wizard Istredd. When Geralt goes to see him, his worst suspicions are confirmed.

Eternal Flame – Geralt runs across Dandelion, who is having a variety of objects lobbed at him by an angry woman. The two men head to the nearest inn, but Dandelion is broke, as usual, and Geralt has spent his unds on a new jacket. At the inn, they run across a Halfling of Dandelion’s acquaintance, Dainty Biberveldt, who is talked into buying them food and drink. Imagine their surprise when another Dainty Biberveldt burst into the room, the first one’s doppelganger. And the fun has just begun.

A Little Sacrifice – Geralt finds himself intervening between a lovesick duke and the object of his affections—a mermaid. The two would-be lovers are at an impasse, neither willing to concede what the other wants. The duke wants her to have legs and live on land, Sh’eenaz wants him to grow a tail and come into the sea with her.

Geralt and Dandelion are traveling together and broke. It’s Dandelion’s fault, but Geralt is not angry. When an opportunity arises for Dandelion to make some money, he acts as if what he is being offered is beneath him, but Geralt unhappily reminds him they need the money. His nose out of joint, since Geralt seems to pick and choose his jobs without commentary, Dandelion agrees to accept the offer with Geralt’s promise that he will accept the next job that comes his way.  As it turns out, another bard has also been hired for the occasion, one whom Dandelion knows—Miss Essi Daven, aka Little Eye.

Sometimes love requires a little sacrifice.

The Sword of Destiny – Geralt finds himself in Brokilon, which is not a safe place to be, as evidenced by the bodies he finds. Brokilon is a forest and it belongs to the dryads, who do not suffer intrusion lightly and do not hesitate to shoot their arrows at trespassers. Geralt finds one person still alive, a man he knows by the name of Frexinet. The wounded man begs Geralt to find a princess, and then they are attacked. Good thing Geralt has friends in high places. But is this something he wants to become involved in?

Destiny has a way of happening anyway.

Something More – While crossing a bridge, Geralt finds a merchant cowering beneath his wagon, having been abandoned by his companions. He convinces the merchant, whose name is Yurga, that he means no harm but that he needs to leave this place quickly as it is dangerous. Yurga begs Geralt to help him and he’ll give him anything he wants? Geralt says he wants whatever Yurga comes across on his return but did not expect, and Yurga agrees. However, in protecting Yurga, Geralt himself is gravely injured and Yurga must save him.

Sometimes what you ask for is something more.

This second collection of Witcher stories is every bit as good as the first. Andrzej Sapkowski takes what could have been an ordinary sword and sorcery tale and brings it to life. He gives depths to his characters, monster or human, and he does a great job of world-building. His action scenes are riveting, and I can see Geralt in my mind’s eyes, whirling and slashing and dodging and throwing up witcher signs.  I love Geralt, he is a great character and, despite his claims to the contrary, I believe he is more human than he lets on, capable of greater emotions than he thinks he is. I love Dandelion (although I would never date him, I much prefer Geralt). Together, they make a great team. I don’t care for Yennefer much, but I’m afraid we haven’t seen the last of her. In this book, we first meet Ciri. I know we’ll see more of her.

Geralt must have gone through hell to become a witcher, and that as a child. It’s inconceivable that someone could do that to a child, and yet apparently it happened. What an unnatural sort of mother was Geralt’s to allow this to happen. I love the theme of destiny that runs through the stories, and how everything works out because of it.

If you like the video game, you’ll love the books. Looking forward to the next one!