Monday, November 11, 2019

Jody Day and Joy Express

Book 3 in the Express series

Joy Express
Pelican Ventures LLC, Harbourlight Books
November 8, 2019
Christmas inspirational fiction

Buy on Amazon

About the Book:
Nearly a year has passed since Scott and Bailey’s Christmas wedding. Now they are expecting joy in the form of twins! The day arrives for the opening of Barkley House, a missionary retreat provided by Bailey’s inheritance, but an unspeakable evil descends upon Bailey as she awaits...
Shocking revelations accompany Bailey's ordeal. Will she ever find joy again?

My Review:
The third book in the series set in Texas, in this story we are re-introduced to Bailey and Scott West, and literally come in the middle of frightening action and dreadful secrets.        

Told in alternating first person, Bailey and Scott, who married a year earlier, are expecting their first baby…babies…like, any second. Complicating the matter is Grandpa Brown, on the lam with embezzlement charges on his head and serious anger issues, has a strange way of “just trying to talk” to his oldest daughter for the first time in twenty years. There’s much more to his story, and Bailey comes to learn just how dark the world can be, but also how big her heart can grow. With Bailey at such a desperate place, Scott fears not only for her, but worries over his own abilities to be the husband of strength and faith she can rely on.

As we come in the middle of a traumatic event, references to friends and family, an inheritance, settlement, and a dedication of a missionary retreat are somewhat vague in the early going. I recommend reading the stories in order to get the full picture.

Joy Express is a sweet, detailed episode in the Wests’ lives as Bailey faces peril and then she and Scott learn about parenthood and reliance. Set during Bailey’s favorite time of year, Christmas, Joy Express is a warm Texas holiday treat of a read.

Jody Bailey DayAbout the Author: I am an author who looks at life through love-colored glasses. My passion is inspiring people to live a life that embraces who they are in Jesus Christ. I write poems, articles, devotionals, and novels from West Texas, where I am President of the Fort Stockton area writers group called Critique Café. I am a member of ACFW and My debut novel, Washout Express, and the sequel, Wedding Express are published by Harbourlight Books/The Pelican Group. My poems and articles have appeared in Mature Living, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine,, and I'm published with Pelican Ventures under the imprints of Harbourlight and White Rose.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Suspense in Colorado High Deceit by CE Waterman

High Deceit (Pinion Creek)

High Deceit
CE Waterman

Harbourlight, a division of Pelican Book Group
September, 2019

273 pp
$5.99 Ebook
$15.99 Print

About the Book
Robin Clayton gets the worst phone call of her life. Mark, her police detective husband, has been shot in the line of duty. Or was it? A young woman is dead, and Mark lies in a coma. While he remains helpless and unaware, Internal Affairs builds a case that threatens to tear Mark and Robin apart. Mark's gun is missing, and a briefcase full of money has appeared in Robin's house.

Has Mark been leaking information to his girlfriend as IA claims? Did he kill the woman?

When someone sneaks into the hospital with one purpose--to kill Mark--Robin and her friends fight to find answers before it's too late.

My Review
A drug cartel hidden in plain sight. When a small town Colorado detective gets a tip about a potential drug bust from an amateur sleuth with a passion for saving kids, everything goes wrong. Someone in the police department is lying and it’s up to the detective’s wife and friend to get to the bottom of mayhem in Pinion Creek.

High Deceit is the story of a fight against illegal drug trafficking, suspicion out of control, and ethics. There are quite a few threads running through the story, which is told in multiple viewpoints. High Deceit is part of a series, so all of the threads don’t wrap up neatly in this book.

I found it interesting and enjoyed working with Robin, the detective’s wife, as she and her friend tracked down suspects and went through their own angst about who to believe. Those who enjoy suspenseful, inspirational mystery series with large casts will enjoy these tales.

About the Author
C.E. Waterman is an avid mystery reader. Starting with The Boxcar Children, followed by Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, on to Agatha Christie and then Mary Higgins Clark, she has always loved a good mystery. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Christmas romance from LoRee Perry

Christmas 'Couragement

Christmas ’Couragement
LoRee Perry

December, 2016
Pelican Ventures Holiday Extravaganza ebook

Buy on Amazon US

About the Book
Liam once approved of helping others, but not anymore. He lost his mother due to a crazed street person, and he's hardened his heart. Now a successful photographer, he's returned to set up shop in his hometown--directly across the courtyard from his sister's best friend. Zoe runs an outreach center and encourages the homeless and needy, especially at Christmas. Nursing a soft spot for Liam that started as a girlhood crush, she sets out to help him by creating her unique brand of encouragement cards. Her hope is to reignite the fire and love for Christmas and God, which Liam once had. The cards and ornaments countdown to Christmas, but what if Liam doesn't want to be one of Zoe's projects? What happens when her crush grows into something more? What if they both receive more than expected?

My Review
Opening in the past, youngster best pals Zoe and Meredith put their youthful faith in action by crafting beautiful Christmas cards for the downtrodden of their hometown, Lincoln, Nebraska. The girls have their own traditions and secret codes, including a special word, ’couragement, a two-fold term meant to instill courage as well as inspire encouragement. Fast forward to adulthood. The pals have lost touch. Zoe has grown up, but harbors a dark secret she covers with an unshakeable faith and service, still to those in need in her home community.

When Zoe spies her kid crush, Liam, Meredith’s big brother, returned to Lincoln, she soon learns he has as much need of her special brand of ‘couragement as those who don’t hide their neediness.

Liam sees Zoe for the first time as an adult and realizes she holds the key to his broken spirit, but he strongly disapproves of her open door service to the down and out and needy. Zoe does all she can to restore his faith, but can she get past his walls? Sharing the events of her life, the good and the dark, since he and Meredith left Lincoln, is one way to reach him, and so are the Christmas cards and ornaments she gives him that explore the gospel through holiday traditions.

As Liam’s despair lifts, he still struggles with Zoe’s work until one day he’s given cause to change his heart.

I listened to the audio recording of this story. The male narrator used a softened voice when reading the female characters which was a distraction. Just reading naturally would have been fine. Throughout this book, the author reveals the stories behind our US Christmas traditions. Her holiday tale is highly inspirational with many prayers and Scriptures. Zoe is a wonderful role model, if somewhat naïve, and puts her faith in action. Recommended for those who love very sweet, religious romances.

About the Author
LoRee PeeryChristian author LoRee Peery wrote fiction for many years before her first novella was published in 2010. She smiles as she remembers that initial contract arrived on her birthday. She thrills at the writing process when ideas, words, or character voices resonate in her mind. Jotting notes in the middle of the night or trailing toothpaste across the floor on her way to pen and paper, get her pulse pumping. She often notices character quirks and conversation while she’s out and about, and is invigorated when she spends time outside.

LoRee is drawn to reunion stories for two reasons. She believes God is a God of second chances, and the past often needs to be dealt with before anyone can move on in life. Moselle’s Insurance is her first publication, where Frivolities is a crafty, kooky shop in a small fictitious Nebraska town. Her Frivolities Series and other publications are available from Pelican Book Group.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Grace stories and a novella from Dan Burns


Grace by Dan Burns

Chicago Arts Press, October 2019
195 pp
Available in 4 formats:
Ebook, paperback, harcover, and audible

Buy from the author 

About the Book
“We’re all flawed and confronted daily with sometimes slight but often apparently insurmountable challenges. But if we dig deep, what we unearth from the depths of our souls, if we’re lucky, can allow us to overcome and carry on to live another day with an untortured heart.”

This is the sentiment Dan Burns explores in his exciting new collection. Five stories and a novella highlight Burns’s range as a storyteller and his ability to see life and all its emotions through a unique lens. This collection features his most personal and insightful stories to date.
Redemption—In a quiet Montana town, an aging writer and his nephew are forced to weave the past and the present into a future of more significant meaning.

The Plight of Maximus Octavius Reinhold—In the new story featuring private investigator Sebastian Drake (from the novel A Fine Line), the local patrons of a rural Wisconsin town test Drake’s resolve as he stares into the barrel of a .44 Magnum revolver.

Hardwired—A dying man contemplates the end of his life while hoping to pass along a secret legacy to his family.

Adrift at Sea—To fuel his creative desires, a seabound journeyman leaves behind the anchor of distraction in pursuit of a natural world.

The Final Countdown—In the year 2110, the Earth struggles to survive, ravaged by overpopulation and greed. Food is scarce, and the youth-run government has no choice but to implement a plan devised decades earlier: deport the elderly population to a remote outpost—on the moon.

Grace: A Novella—A story of impaired love, betrayal, and redemption as realized by characters who experience life through the perception of liquor-bottle glasses. Life is never what it seems. Everyone has secrets. The question is whether the skeleton key of alcohol will open the closet door and let out the hidden truths.

The collection includes notes about the thoughts, ideas, and inspiration behind the stories, offering an exclusive behind-the-scenes perspective of the author’s writing process, along with twenty-six illustrations by artist Kelly Maryanski.

Enjoy the trailer

My review
Burns’s new collection of stories is a pleasant and poignant read, with a delightful flow from peaceful and magnanimity to evocative to noir. My favorite story, Final Countdown, channels our mutually admired author, Ray Bradbury. Simple pencil drawings add an extra level of revelation in each story.

Beginning with a past meets present tale set on a Montana ranch, family relationships tying youth and age, love and lust, is the thread woven throughout the book.

Burns proves his versatility with genre, moving adeptly along western, gunslinger, detective noir, old man and the sea-type plots, futuristic, and his specialty of stage writing with ease. The first story features a tenderness of two-way grace when a lonely old man gets a surprise visit from his nephew in need. By the time we get to the last short story before we reach the centerpiece, the novella of the title, we have traversed through time and geography to a future glut of septuagenarians. In Grace: a novella, the reader is drawn back around to reconsider family through the eyes of a bitter wife and her sometimes humorous attempt to deal with her perceived problems.

The cover is an intriguing tumble of letters over the ghostly image of hands and face reaching out, or perhaps breaking through. Readers who enjoy shorter slices of story dealing with the challenges of family secrets, family love and war, and family adrift, will enjoy this book.

Dan Burns 
About the Author
Dan Burns's new story collection is Grace: Stories and a Novella. He is the author of the novels A Fine Line and Recalled to Life and the short story collection No Turning Back: Stories. He is also an award-winning writer of stories for the screen and stage. He resides with his family in Illinois and enjoys spending time in Wisconsin and Montana, where he stalks endless rivers in pursuit of trout and a career as a fly fisherman.

Friday, October 18, 2019

New Memoir from Nancy Bolton

Adventures in Poverty by [Bolton, Nancy Shew]

Adventures in Poverty
Nancy Shew Bolton
Memoir, 171 pp.
c. July 2019
Celebrate Lit publishing
$4.99 ebook
$12.99 print
Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Faced with eviction, living on union strike pay, our time for making a decision was running out. Where could we go to live with our five small sons? We had few options. The scariest possibility was also the one that fit best with our tiny income. But could we really make such a difficult move? To transport our family, and our mobile home onto a five-acre parcel of rural, undeveloped land? No electricity, no running water, with winter fast approaching. It sounded a little crazy.......

My Review
An eye opening look at living simply with purpose and joy.

Bolton’s story of raising her family during a difficult period of time in the 1980s unencumbered by modern conveniences is uplifting and truthful. Told with a spirit of making do and a deliberate choice not to complain (much), Bolton shares what it was like for a few years living on public and private assistance while her husband reoriented his career. It honestly sounded like a terrific leap of faith that worked out better in the end, though I think Bolton ended her tale without letting us know that for certain.

The best parts of her adventure included her willingness to do whatever it took, raising chickens, milking goats, using a kerosene heater, planting a garden, and cooking on a camp stove, besides hauling water, and the worst parts were being treated as poor by the public. Poverty means barely or not having enough, but Bolton proved that they truly did have enough, although maybe not by modern standards. I would have had a much more difficult time accepting the image of being poverty-stricken, and realize that my attitude on both sides of the equation need to adjust.

I’m glad she shared this bit of her life in a fascinating read. She didn’t mince problems but told simply how she dealt with issues from neighbors to tilted tables to the loss of the chickens to hunting to freezing cold to charity with grace. Good read. Recommended.

About the Author
Nancy Shew BoltonNancy Shew Bolton loves to write character-driven stories about relationships of love and faith, since she is fascinated by the complexities within this emotional terrain. She thanks God and His Son for her life, her loved ones and the spark of creativity inside every person. She believes each person is a unique creation, with their own special voice and place in this amazing universe. God’s handiwork amazes her every day!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Westward Hope historical fiction review

Westward Hope: An Oregon Trail Historical Romance (Western Dreams)

Westward Hope: an Oregon Trail Historical Romance
Kathleen D Bailey

Buy on Amazon
Historical Shorter Romance – 181 pp.
Christian Fiction
Ebook $5.99
Print $15.99

About the Book
Why him? Why here? Why now?
Caroline Pierce O'Leary expects to work hard to earn her passage to the Oregon Country. She doesn't expect to find that the wagon train scout is a man with whom she shares a troubled past. Though Caroline is a Christian now, thanks to her late husband, she finds forgiving Michael to be the hardest part of her journey, harder even than the Trail.

Michael Moriarty thought he'd left his past behind in "green and hurting Ireland." Seeing Caroline on his wagon train brings his past to the forefront. With a price on his head, he doesn't want her to get hurt, but he can't deny what they were...and could still be.

Michael once betrayed Caroline in the worst possible way. Can she trust him to get her across the Oregon Trail? Can he trust himself to accept her forgiveness and God's?

My Review
Authentic picture of life on the trail. Bailey offers readers of inspirational romantic historical fiction a bittersweet picture gleaned from stories, journals, biographies, and photos of cross country travelers venturing west from Missouri in the mid nineteenth century.

There’s a lot going on in this mite of a story—longer than a novella but shorter than typical. A widow on her last half-bag of flour sells her farm and joins a wagon train to Oregon Country, only to find one of the leaders is a former lover with a price on his head. Complicating the picture is a hardened young woman running from the sex slave industry. All these issues come to a head after a several-months’ journey fraught with ill-will, ill-preparedness, illness, accidents and death. It was a perilous adventure that sometimes worked out and often didn’t.

Having recently visited several of the sites from Bailey’s story, I was fascinated and pleased at the depth and quality of her research and story. The tragedies and dissent tend to outweigh the hope of the title, but that’s reality. At its heart, the story is one of forgiveness and trust; of how we deal with what happens to us and choose to make the best of what we’re given and live out what we believe.

Those who appreciate American historical fiction with the harshness of reality in their romance along with the inspirational side of coming to true faith will find much to enjoy in this well-written book.

About the Author
Kathleen D Bailey is a freelance and staff writer with a lifetime devotion to the printed, and now the digital page. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s and 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It was a turbulent, colorful time to come of age. She’s enjoyed every minute of it, and written about most of it.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Glenn Seerup exciting new fiction!

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The Illuminating Occurrence of Maxine Porter
Glenn Seerup
Print and eBook
October 11, 2019
Glenn Seerup, publisher
Literary Fantasy
eBook $4.99

Buy the Book

Read my review here.

About the Book
Hayden Carlisle, a socially awkward twenty-three year old designer, begins his first professional job at The Plush Porcupine, a boutique toy design studio in Chicago. Hard times have fallen on the Porcupine and a dark cloud hangs over its future.

Maxine Porter arrives with a mysterious background and an uncanny knack for knowing things. Spellbound by the amazing Max, the eclectic crew at the Porcupine begin to prosper, while continually ruminating over who Max is and where she came from.

Through Hayden’s Journal writing, we learn of the unlikely friendship developing between him and Max.

A Brief Interview with the Author

Glenn, tell us what you love about this book.
I love the people in the book. I love how as I write a story, the personalities of each character develop and grow as their voices come alive. This is really a story about personalities and relationships. It demonstrates how diverse individuals can bring unique strengths and frailties together, feeding off each other. They don’t always have to get along but each individual contributes to complete the dynamic of the collective group. I know when my characters begin to feel real to me when I see somebody walking down the street and I think, “Hey, is that Max?” Then I remember that she isn’t real.

Introduce us to the character who was most challenging to capture.
I would have to say that Marty would be the character that was most challenging to capture. Marty is a dedicated employee and friend. She has a lot of baggage in her personal life and she tries to compartmentalize it from her outward persona, shielding her troubles from her colleagues. I think that the challenge in writing Marty came from never personally living through the situations where Marty finds herself. I had to imagine myself dealing with these issues in my personal life and what I would do, and then re-imagine it from the point of view of Marty. Each character has their challenges. That’s what makes writing fun.

Share a couple of things you learned in researching this story.
For most of the book’s themes and locations, I was able to draw from my experiences living in the design world of great city of Chicago. I did learn a lot about different toy manufacturers and their processes as well as the cutthroat world of product placement and wholesaling. I also found the study of kinesiology and ergonomics interesting as I looked into design and comfort. Probably the most surprisingly interesting topic that I briefly delved into was my look into metallurgy and the different properties that metals can take on with slight molecular modifications to their structure.

What do you hope readers will tell others?
I hope readers will tell others that reading this book made them feel good about people and the world that we live in. I feel like this story is about real people in real situations and the reader is rooting for them to succeed. I also hope they feel like they are a little on edge throughout the book, feeling that little bit of mystery that grows on you in a nagging way. This is the suspense that keeps you reading, knowing that there is more to the story but you’re not quite sure what it is. I hope they tell people that when they finished, they sat for a while pondering the story with a smile on their face.

What are you reading now?
I usually have a couple of books going—I listen to audio books in my car while commuting and I always have a book at my bedside. Currently, I am about halfway through The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz. The audio books I check out of the library are generally hit or miss. The most recent one that I really enjoyed was Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty, an interesting character study that takes place in an unusual setting.

What’s next for you?

I am currently knee-deep in a new novel, which I intend to be the first of a trilogy. While a similar type of character study that I love, I am framing this in a more adventurous, fast-paced style. Hunter Cahill’s escapades will take the reader on a frantic romp through the streets of Chicago. He’ll meet all kinds of interesting characters as he works to unravel the mysterious drama that falls unwelcome at his feet.

About the Author
Glenn Seerup is a future New York Times bestselling author of Literary Fiction. It’s good to have goals. With over twenty-five years as an accomplished architect under his belt, Glenn has returned to his first passion, the written word. Successfully publishing his first novel in 2017 to rave reviews, a second novel, The Illuminating Occurrence of Maxine Porter, is due for release in the Fall of 2019. A third project in the works will be the first of a three (or more) part series.

While Glenn has traveled extensively through the United States, Europe, and Africa, and lived in various cities, he loves to write about life in the big city of Chicago – well, and Boston. Settled now in a sleepy beach town in northwest Indiana, Glenn devotes as much time as he can to his wife and two wonderful kids. Most of that time is spent driving to soccer practices, games, and tournaments. Somewhere in there, he still finds time for home remodeling, playing in adult soccer leagues, and watching the English Premiere League. Glenn likes soccer.

As a young adult, The Catcher in the Rye solidified the love of Literature and the joy of a simple, beautifully written story. Glenn likes to include subtle references to the Salinger masterpiece into his own writing. See if you can spot them.
-The Illuminating Occurrence of Maxine Porter
-After and Before: The Story of Hatley Chambers
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