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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

October 8, 2016

Dissension by @AdrienneMonson

Leisha used to be a loving mother with a perfect family, but that was more than 2,000 years ago. Though she holds the memory of that time dear to her heart, she must now focus on trying to escape the eternal and bloody war between her kind—the Vampires—and the Immortals, an undying race sworn to destroy her people. Leisha soon finds herself captured by the government, only to be saved by a young and mysterious human girl. What follows is the beginning of a long and tortuous journey as Leisha and her newfound friend run for their lives while searching for the one thing that can bring an end to the conflict—the prophecy child.

Awesome!!!! Loved it!!!! ~ Mandy

Gripping, fast paced, good read ~ Amanda M. Daggett

Nice vampire spin ~ A Voracious Reader

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Buy Dissension at Amazon

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October 7, 2016

The Thing that Scared our Cat

by Chris

It’s October, which means pumpkin spice lattes, candy corn, and Halloween. Gloomy weather looms (as well as autumn colors), and it couldn’t be a more perfect time for ghost stories and horror movies. I have my own favorites, including almost anything by Stephen King, and I’m sure there are staple books and films in your own autumn canon (let me know in the comments what your favorite scary stories are!).

The best horror stories, of course, are the ones that prey on your own fears—the ones that sneak into your subconscious and sink their teeth deep into the dark, frightening places of our psyches. I remember reading Pet Sematary a long time ago, and it disturbed me profoundly; without giving too much away, a small toddler dies partway through the story, and I read it right around the time that my own son was learning to walk. I had nightmares for days. As a young boy, I remember watching the Friday the 13th movies; I had nightmares for months!

And sometimes, these stories get so far under our skin that we start to see the unimaginable in the every day. I first watched the Japanese horror film Ringu, in which a demonic ghost is summoned by watching a VHS tape, late at night, on my own … on VHS. When the screen went static at the end of the movie, I began to imagine that the same terrifying presence was watching me, just waiting to crawl out of the black and white television screen.

Now, I’m not particularly a believer in the supernatural, although I do enjoy ghost stories, but I’d like to tell you about something that happened recently that might have made me question that belief. A little over a year ago, our family moved into a new house in rural New Jersey. It took us a long time to find this house—many failed attempts to buy other houses preceded it, all of which fell through for one reason or another. Prior to this, we had lived in six houses in the past ten years, so you can see that we were looking for somewhere to settle down once and for all.

And it’s a beautiful house. It was built in 1890, set back from the road with a carriage house behind it that once housed horses. The history of the house is evident in lots of small places, from the staircase banister with great, carved balustrades to the wiring in the basement which is at least a hundred years old. The electrics, in fact, are fascinating—there are at least three generations of wiring present in the house, and most of the outlets are only two-pronged.

As you can see, the history of the house goes back a long way, and it has only been in a few hands; the most recent family, from whom we bought the house, had lived and grown up in it since the 1960s. Prior to that, it had housed a couple of families, but certainly no more than three. We got to know the children of that family quite well during the buying process (the children are well into their fifties now), and they told us many stories of their time growing up. One I remember was hiding in the cabinets under the windows when they didn’t want to get punished for breaking a window; others involved the house across the street, which was owned by the local doctor. (That house is now abandoned, since the doctor refused to sell, and wouldn’t let his children live in it unless they, too, were doctors.)

Ultimately, the father died in the 1990s, and the mother lived alone in the house for quite some time. Eventually, she remarried, and her new husband came to live with her in the house as well. She died sometime around 2006, and he died a few years ago—prompting the children to finally sell the house.

From this long history, it becomes clear that numerous people have lived in this house—and at least some have died in it. Mrs. F, the lady who died in 2006, had been a school teacher in her day, and there is ample evidence of this throughout the house. In the kitchen, for example, is an old-fashioned chalkboard mounted on one wall, cut from the board of her old classroom. When we arrived in the house, the children had left some chalk and a lovely message, along with a large eraser that bore her name.

There’d be nothing strange about this, except that we invited the children over to a housewarming party not too long after. When we thanked them for the welcome message, none of them could remember who had written it. I thought nothing more of it, of course—after all, they’re in their fifties and sixties, and perhaps their memory isn’t quite what it used to be. We ultimately erased the message and forgot about it.

Then, not long after, we started finding doors open throughout the house. Being old, it doesn’t have the greatest insulation or heating system, and especially through the winter, it’s important to keep doors closed in order to keep the heat in as best as possible. Naturally, we blamed our twelve-year-old for this; he’s forgetful and oblivious, and certainly is the kind of person to leave doors open on his way to his room from the kitchen.

But then one day I found the kitchen door open when I knew I’d closed it—and he wasn’t at home. (It was my day off and he was still at school.) Had I been mistaken? I was fairly certain I heard the door click shut when I closed it; I didn’t see how even a gust of wind could have turned the handle and opened it again.

Sometimes we find lights on when they were meant to be off; sometimes off when they were meant to be on. Water left running in a sink. Again, nothing dramatic in a household of three, since there’s always the chance that someone else did it, but odd stuff nonetheless.

When our family lived in England, we had a cat. His name was Shelby, and he was smart, funny, and, like most cats, didn’t care what you thought. However, he was getting old, and when we moved to New Jersey six years ago we made the difficult decision to leave him behind. We left him with good friends that we knew would take good care of him and bid him farewell.

A few years later, we got a phone call from our friends—Shelby had passed away. He was sixteen and had been in poor health for the past few years of his life. Ultimately they had taken him to the vet one day, and the vet’s recommendation was, sadly, to put him out of his misery.

Our son was, of course, devastated at the news, and cried for days. But when the grief wore off, the talks came of getting another cat. Not one to replace Shelby, because of course, he was irreplaceable, but another companion for the family. However, this wasn’t really practical while we were still renting, so it wasn’t until we bought and moved into our current house—the one in which people have died—that it became something we could genuinely contemplate. And so, a few months back, we got Pia.

Pia is crazy. She hangs from windows, attacks nothing at all on a whim, and only gives affection on her terms. In other words, she’s a typical cat. She’s certainly no Shelby, but she definitely has a personality of her own. She’s a little black and white thing, cute as a button, but feisty.

And she’s loud. She meows like no cat I’ve ever known, and it’s purely to get human attention. One night, we were sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner when she started howling like a madwoman. We normally keep her in a small porch (where her cat things are), so we let her out and into the kitchen.

That’s when she started acting like I’ve never seen her before. Cats have this funny way of arching their back and puffing out their fur when they’re scared of something—a kind of defense mechanism to make themselves look bigger—and she was doing this times ten. And while it was dark out and the back door leads into the kitchen, it wasn’t the back door that she seemed to be afraid of. It was the living room.

While my son tried to calm Pia down, I went to investigate. The living room was dark, so I flipped on the lights—nothing. Took a look behind the couch, under the coffee table—still nothing. Looked out the window, to nothing but an empty street. There didn’t seem to be anything the matter at all.

So what was terrifying poor little Pia so much? It took nearly an hour before she would even think of going into the living room, long after we had finished dinner and retired there to watch TV. At first, I thought it might just be an odd cat thing, but later that night, when I was lying in bed staring into the darkness, I started to wonder: what if she had genuinely sensed something? A presence, as it were, of something in the house?

One of the things my wife did soon after we moved into the house was to set up security cameras around the house. They’re the cheap, plasticky kind you get online, and they work with your phone so you can monitor the house when you're away. It’s not like we live in a bad area by any means, but I think it helps her sleep easier at night.

Well, that night I wasn’t sleeping easy at all. So I took my phone off charge, turned it on and opened up the security app. It’s pretty neat, because it automatically records any motion detected in front of the camera, and you can watch through those recordings later to see what was going on. I tracked the timeline back to around 7:00 PM when we had been having dinner … and there it was. A brief, thirty-second recording of activity in the room, when none of us had been in it.

I hesitated, afraid to tap on it. What would I see? Was it a burglar that had bolted at the cat’s howl? A mouse or rat? Or something stranger? But I knew I had to see, and so I tapped on the recording and watched it.

At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The living room, being dark, was being recorded in night-vision mode, everything in clear black and white. And then, about ten seconds into the recording, it all went black. It looked like it had switched into day mode without any provocation, and of course in the dark nothing was visible. Just vague, pixellated shadows of furniture and the windows behind the sofa. And being so dark, it was hard to tell, but it almost looked like something was moving in the shadows. Something darker than the night. Something stealthily creeping across the room.

You could hear in the recording, too—you could hear Pia howl, you could hear our reaction from the kitchen—but no other sound. Nothing. And then, after thirty seconds, it cut out. The recording stopped. Whatever the camera had sensed was gone.

Do I believe in ghosts? No. Is it more likely that the technology of the camera suffered an ill-timed glitch? Of course. But the coincidence of it all—the cat, the camera, the inexplicable switch from night mode to day mode, obscuring whatever was happening—seems, if anything, more than natural. Possibly … supernatural.

So far, it hasn’t happened again. But I’ll be keeping a watch out for it. And if our house is, in fact, being haunted by the ghost of Mrs. F, I sincerely hope she’s happy with us living in her house. Her children like us, and I’m sure we’d have liked her. But just knowing that she died, possibly in the very room from which I’m writing this … it’s sometimes a little more than I’m willing to think about.

Chris, features writer. Raised between the soaring peaks of the Swiss Alps and the dark industrialism of northern England, beauty and darkness have been twin influences on Chris' creativity since his youth. Throughout his life he has expressed this through music, art, and literature, delving deep into the darkest parts of human nature, and finding the elegance therein. These themes are central to his current literary project, The Redemption of Erâth. A dark epic fantasy, it is a tale of the bitter struggle against darkness and despair, and an acknowledgment that there are some things the mind cannot overcome. Written from a depth of personal experience, Chris' words are touching and powerful, the hallmark of someone who has walked alone through the night, and welcomes the final darkness of the soul. However, for now, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and eleven-year-old son. You can also find him at

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October 6, 2016

National Mad Hatter Day: Books to Read

by Elisabeth Scherer
English: Illustration of "A Mad Tea Party...

A very merry un-birthday to you. Unless it is your birthday today then I wish you a happy birthday! Happy National Mad Hatter Day! Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is one of my favorite books of all time. I felt I had to write about one of the best characters from Lewis Carroll's books. Let me tell you a bit about the origin of his character and why there is a national day devoted to him. I will also give you a few Mad Hatter-esque books to check out if you are, like me, eager to jump down the rabbit hole with this character.

Hatter is one of the characters that Alice meets along her adventure in Wonderland. In Lewis Carrol's day, many people who made hats suffered a work-related hazard from the mercury in the felt manufacturing. It caused dementia, tremors, and other neurological symptoms. This is the origin of the phrase "mad as a hatter." They were often put into asylums and were able to garden, farm, and also make hats as part of their therapy. They had tea parties as one of their entertainment as well. One theory of how Lewis Carroll developed the character was that he knew how the patients at the Pauper's Lunacy Asylums were treated; Carroll's uncle was one of the commissioners for the asylums.

Why a National Mad Hatter day? Well in 1986 some computer specialists in Colorado paid homage to Mad Hatter on October 6. The date refers to the image of Hatter wearing a hat which has a paper sticking out of it reading "In this style: 10/6." It referred to the cost of the hat (ten schillings and sixpence). The folks in Colorado celebrated a day of general silliness, noting they do less damage being silly than doing their work. It was recognized as an official holiday in 1988 with its first national press coverage. Some view it as a day like April fools day.

If you are as crazy about Wonderland and Hatter as I am, then you are always looking for more reading material. I found Hatter in mysteries, romances, and biographical/scientific books. Here are just a few of my findings.

Death of the Mad Hatter (Twisted Fairytale Confessions) (Volume 1) by Sarah J. Pepper

Death of the Mad Hatter Twisted Fairytale Confessions Volume One by Sarah J PepperIf the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible—like stopping time—and that Love was worth a Beheading. Heads would Roll… Hearts would Break… In the end, would it matter who Reigned?

This prophecy, given by the Jack, is about the downfall of a ruling queen. Alice is different than when we knew her from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. She can come and go from Wonderland as she pleases as long as she's working for the Queen. Though Hatter is not the primary character in this book he is important enough to earn a place in the title. I have not read this book yet, but it has moved into my must read pile due to all the reviews I have read.

Buy Death of the Mad Hatter (Twisted Fairytales Collection Volume 1) at Amazon

The Mad Hatter Mystery (Gideon Fell #2) By John Dickson Carr 

The Mad Hatter Mystery Gideon Fell book 2 By John Dickson Carr
The newspapers dubbed the thief the 'Mad Hatter,' and his outrageous pranks amused all London. but the laughter turned to horror when a corpse with a crossbow through the heart was found at the Tower of London in a top hat.

As Dr. Gideon Fell was to discover, the whole case turned on the matter of hats-- in fact, threatened to become a nightmare of hats. For the victim was none other than Sir William Bitton's nephew, dressed in a golfing suit and wearing Sir William's stolen opera hat. And tying Sir William to his murdered nephew with a scarlet thread was the stolen manuscript of a completely unknown story said to be the handiwork of Edgar Allan Poe.

In a tale as freighted with menace as the Traitor's Gate, portly Dr. Fell unravels a crime unique by even his standards of the bizarre

This jewel of a book was first published in 1933. John Dickson Carr is one of the three great authors that came after Arthur Conan Doyle and who mastered the forbidden room mysteries, where the detective solves the unsolvable. This particular book isn't his best in the series but is still viewed as a good book. Check it out if mystery and mad hatter are two of your favorites.

Buy The Mad Hatter Mystery at Amazon

Death of a Mad Hatter (Hat Shop Mystery #2) by Jenn McKinlay

Death of a Mad Hatter Hat Shop Mystery book 2 by Jenn McKinlayScarlett Parker and her British cousin, Vivian Tremont, are hard at work at Mim’s Whims—their ladies’ hat shop on London’s chic Portobello Road—to create hats for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, a fund-raiser for a local children’s hospital. It seems like a wonderfully whimsical way to pass the hat, and Scarlett and Viv are delighted to outfit the Grisby family, the hosts who are hoping to raise enough money to name a new hospital wing after their patriarch.

Unfortunately, the Grisby heir will not live to see it—he’s been poisoned. When traces of the poison are found on the hat Scarlett and Viv made for him, the police become curiouser and curiouser about their involvement. Now the ladies need to don their thinking caps and find the tea party crasher who’s mad enough to kill at the drop of a hat…

If you are someone who enjoys a cozy mystery, then this is the Mad Hatter book for you. It is delightful and funny. There are many suspects to choose from and keeps you turning the page until the end. Light and easy to read, pick this book up the next time you are interested in the themed whodunnit.

Buy Death of a Mad Hatter (Hat Shop Mysteries #2) at Amazon

Her Mad Hatter (Kingdoms book 1) by Marie Hall

Her Mad Hatter Kingdoms book 1 by Marie Hall
Alice is all grown up. Running the Mad Hatter's Cupcakery and Tea Shoppe is a delicious job, until fate--and a fairy godmother with a weakness for bad boys--throws her a curveball. Now, Alice is the newest resident of Wonderland, where the Mad Hatter fuels her fantasies and thrills her body with his dark touch.

The Mad Hatter may have a voice and a body made for sex, but he takes no lovers. Ever. But a determined fairy godmother has forced Alice into Wonderland--and his arms. Now, as desire and madness converge, the Hatter must decide if he will fight the fairy godmother's mating--or fight for Alice.

This is for all you romance fans out there. This long novella is about the connection the Mad Hatter and Wonderland share. If he doesn't find his soul mate, his Alice, madness will descend on Wonderland and him as well. It is an interesting idea and I'm moving this book to my must read list as well. If you enjoy this book there are quite a few books that follow. At the time of writing, the Kindle version of this book is free on Amazon, as is the set of the first three books in this series.

Buy Her Mad Hatter (Kingdoms #1) at Amazon

And finally, for the non-fiction readers out there, I found an interesting book.

The Mad Hatter: The Role of Mercury in the Life of Lewis Carroll by Mary Hammond

The Mad Hatter The Role of Mercury in the Life of Lewis Carroll by Mary HammondMary Hammond examines the role of mercury in the life of Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the creator of the Mad Hatter. Many of us are aware that the phrase mad hatter's disease is another name for mercury poisoning, and we have wondered whether the Mad Hatter suffered from mercury poisoning. The more important question, perhaps, is whether Lewis Carroll himself suffered from mercury poisoning. He was, without question, exposed to mercury in the course of his photography, and he very likely experienced further exposure due to the extraordinary prevalence of mercury in common usage during the span of his lifetime. If you read this book, you may come to believe, as Hammond does, that Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter was based on a man he knew intimately well, himself, and that not only did Lewis Carroll suffer from mercury poisoning, but it was very likely the cause of many of his disabilities and ailments. Join Mary Hammond on a trip down the rabbit hole for an interesting and thought provoking look at the life of one of our most beloved historical figures.

This is a different genre than the rest, where we see an examination of the Mad Hatter. It fascinates me to think of this perspective. I have already purchased this book and am trying to figure out how to fit it into my reading schedule. Many of the other reviews for this book state that it is more scientific than a biography of Lewis Carroll. It also provides an interesting look at medicine in the 1800s. Sometimes a book with such a unique perspective is just begging to be read.

Buy The Mad Hatter: The Role of Mercury in the Life of Lewis Carroll at Amazon

I hope I have added height to your pile of books that need reading. I know I have added several to mine. So go prepare your favorite tea, make a few cucumber sandwiches, and curl up with Hatter, Alice, and a few of these books. That's where I'm headed!
Elisabeth Scherer, reviewer. Elisabeth grew up in a very small town in Minnesota but now lives in the lovely Pacific Northwest where she spends most of her time raising her two young children. She and her husband have a large collection of books that takes a good space of their small condo. When she's not reading she has a variety of hobbies that include crocheting, drawing, baking, cooking, and movie watching. You can also find her blogging at
Top image: English: Illustration of "A Mad Tea Party" in chapter in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in which Alice meets the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse. Text on Hatter's hat reads "In this style 10/6". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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October 5, 2016

Review: Dive! by Deborah Hopkinson

by Susan Roberts

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson shares the incredible story of U.S. submarines in WWII.

* "With a fascinating blend of submarine mechanics and tales of courage, readers will dive in deep." -- Booklist, starred review

* "Fascinating World War II history for history buffs and browsers alike." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific tells the incredible story of America's little known "war within a war" -- US submarine warfare during World War II.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US entered World War II in December 1941 with only 44 Naval submarines -- many of them dating from the 1920s. With the Pacific battleship fleet decimated after Pearl Harbor, it was up to the feisty and heroic sailors aboard the US submarines to stop the Japanese invasion across the Pacific.

Using first-person accounts, archival materials, official Naval documents, and photographs, award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson brings the voices and exploits of these brave men to life.

To celebrate the release of Dive! Deborah Hopkinson is going on blog tour September 26-October 7, 2016. Visit her online at, and follow her on Twitter at @Deborahopkinson.

My review of DIVE by Deborah Hopkinson:

This book is way outside my normal reading genre but I wanted to read it because I had an uncle who was in the Navy during WWII and spent most of his time in a submarine in the Pacific. This fantastic book gives short vignettes of sailors who were part of the Pacific fleet during the war. I knew a little about what the sailors went through but this book was very informative and I am in awe of the men who helped defend our country from submarines. One of my favorite stories was about Lucy Wilson who was a nurse in Corregidor as the Japanese army was advancing. She was evacuated with 26 others and spent three weeks on a submarine taking them to Australia. Her time on the submarine gave an interesting look at the accommodations by a woman.

This would be a great book for people interested in WWII but even more than that, it put faces and names to some of the men (and women) who fought during the war in often dangerous conditions.

Buy DIVE at Amazon

Susan Roberts, reviewer. Susan lives in North Car when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and helping to take care of their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

Book Info:
available formats: ebook and print (384 pages)
published: September 2016 by Scholastic Press
ISBN13: 9780545425582
target audience: middle grades
genres: nonfiction, World War II

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October 4, 2016

The Essential Abolitionist: What You Need to Know about Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery by John Vanek

cover The Essential Abolitionist
What is human trafficking? Why are millions enslaved in lives of labor and sex trafficking? How do traffickers control their victims? What are the needs of trafficking victims? Why don't more victims reach out for help? What are the challenges faced by law enforcement? What can I do to help?

John Vanek, nationally recognized authority on the response to human trafficking, along with sixteen expert contributors, answers these and other commonly-asked questions about one of the greatest human rights violations today: human trafficking. The Essential Abolitionist offers context to complex topics, reviews the challenges involved in fighting human trafficking and assisting victims, and examines head-on the myths and misconceptions related to modern slavery. If you are already involved in the response to human trafficking, want to get involved, or simply seek a better understanding of this complex, global issue, The Essential Abolitionist will engage, educate, and inspire.

very informative book and very well written ~ Gail Uebersetzig

instructive and comprehensive insight ~ Robert Teel

a good foundation for people to gain basic information ~ done

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Buy The Essential Abolitionist at Amazon

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#PubDay: Race the Darkness by Abbie Roads


Race the Darkness by Abbie Roads

Series: Fatal Dreams #1 Genre: Romantic Suspense Publication Date: October 4, 2016


Cursed with a terrible gift… Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn’t have to question you—he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night—the voice of a woman begging him to save her. A gift that threatens to engulf them... Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except…there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.

Buy Race the Darkness at Amazon



They weren’t going to make it. Not unless he suddenly sprouted blue tights and a red cape. The hope of escape morphed into despair and resignation and finally reckless pissed-off-ness. No fucking way was he going to die running. He stopped, turned, and faced the truck barreling toward them. The tires ate up the ground at an indecent rate. He clutched Isleen tighter to his chest. For her sake, he wanted it to be a quick death. No more lingering. No more pain. That thought infuriated him. None of this was right. They shouldn’t be on the verge of death. Again. The truck kept coming—now twenty-five feet away. Everything slowed, happening as if through the quicksand of time. A white dandelion floaty meandered on the breeze directly between them and the truck. His heart no longer ran a staccato rhythm. Duh…dum. Pause. Duh…dum. Pause. His life didn’t flash before his eyes. The future did. Isleen’s future. In an ethereal dream beyond time, her skin was gilded by firelight, her eyes devoid of sadness and fear, her body whole and healthy. She smiled, an expression so full of warmth and tenderness and undiluted joy that it plunked itself down inside his heart and wouldn’t leave. He ached to create that kind of smile on her face, but their lives were over. It all could’ve gone so differently if he’d only listened to her, believed in her, found her years before now. The air changed, displaced by the truck only a few feet from them. Heat from the engine blasted his face, smelling of burning oil, gasoline, and a scent reminiscent of popped corn. He locked eyes with the bitch behind the wheel. Her pudgy lips ripped back over her teeth in a snarling scream. Xander knew anger—his best friends were fury and rage—but the look on the bitch’s face went beyond mere anger all the way to unholy. The truck imploded. The sound was supersonic, a resonation that rippled through his skin and muscle to rattle his bones and shake the earth underneath his feet. Metal and glass and fire shot outward, skyward, backward, in a near-perfect arc of destruction. Flaming debris rained around them. He stood there holding Isleen, watching it happen, not believing the message his eyes sent to his brain. “What the…?” The last of the truck parts hit the ground. The pieces burned. That’s all that was left—pieces. Nothing touched them, like they resided under an invisible dome of protection.
He glanced down at Isleen for an answer, but she was unconscious, her head lolling so limply on her neck that it looked as if he was carrying a corpse.



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IMG_2582Abbie Roads

Seven Things about Abbie Roads: 1. She loves Snicker Parfaits. Gotta start with what’s most important, right? 2. She writes dark emotional books featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. 3. By day she’s a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. At night she burns up the keyboard. Well… Burn might be too strong a word. She at least sits with her hands poised over the keyboard, waiting for inspiration to strike. And when it does—the keyboard might get a little warm. 4. She can’t stand it when people drive slowly in the passing lane. Just saying. That’s major annoying. Right? 5. She loves taking pictures of things she thinks are pretty.


HUNT THE DAWN Fatal Dreams Series Book 2 Available on NetGalley


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October 3, 2016

Book Spotlight: 1 Billion Seconds by Poppy & Geoff Spencer

1 Billion Seconds—or 32 years—is the inspirational story of lost and found love. A coming of age true journey of Poppy and Geoff, college sweethearts, separated by timing and naiveté. Jesse, a fictional entity, chronicles their true life experiences.

Seemingly madly in love, Poppy and Geoff still need help from Jesse, a “relational choreographer,” to help them manage life’s up’s and down’s and the communication skills needed to maintain a mature relationship. But sometimes real life and true love don’t mix. Jesse’s ‘star couple’ break up and move to separate parts of the country.

For the next 32 years—or one billion seconds—Poppy and Geoff lead separate lives, which include marriages, children, deaths, divorces, 9/11, and losing their own identities.

Real-life couple Poppy and Geoff Spencer are the authors of 1 Billion Seconds: A Fictional Memoir—a voyeuristic look into many true events in the couple’s lives—both separate and united. The beautiful story opens in happy times, featuring the two college sweethearts in sunny Florida over three decades ago. But their storybook romance comes to a screeching halt when Poppy graduates ahead of Geoff and returns home to Wisconsin. Initially, the young love was not enough for distance and naiveté.

“We were 21-years-old and stupid,” Poppy and Geoff quip of their real-life break-up more than thirty years ago. “Through the writing of 1 Billion Seconds, we uncovered the implicit understanding of what makes relationships work and what can lead to their downfall; and, the short answer is to embrace vulnerability. We wouldn’t have turned tragedy into triumph, gotten back together, or written a book without being 100% vulnerable."

This book not only entertains but it also inspires readers to truly understand the value of vulnerability.

It’s more than a novel and not exactly a memoir; instead, 1 Billion Seconds is an inspirational tale that weaves the Spencers’ real-life professional experiences as relational coaches with their own love story. Readers of 1 Billion Seconds are given hope, the courage to take risks that honor who they are, and a roadmap to eliminate negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors that prevent true happiness in a relationship.

1 Billion Seconds provides a rich and textured love story against the backdrop of practical, useful relationship advice from real-life, professional relationship coaches. It also includes the following themes:

  • Hope and courage: which allow you to take risks to honor the core of who you are 
  • Offers a mindset to help you get rid of any thoughts, feelings, and behaviors preventing you from being the best version of yourself 
  • Challenges fear and social bias, and the common notion that people should stay together “for the sake of the children” 
  • The value of speaking the honest truth 
  • Proper communication skills, even if no words are the best 
  • How to integrate blended families 
  • Belief in a happy-ever-after
Start reading:

Buy 1 Billion Seconds at Amazon

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Review: Mirror Image by Michael Scott #MondayBlogs

by MK French

cover Mirror Image
Jonathan Frazer is the owner of an antiques shop in LA, and he buys a mirror that he thinks will net him an extraordinary profit once it's refurbished. He's a generally likable man, trusting others to be as honest as he is. As soon as the mirror arrives in the workshop, deaths begin. At first, it's chalked up to accidents, but a tall and scarred man shows up demanding the mirror. Odd things happen around the city, and he begins to have nightmares that indicate the mirror's origins. His daughter arrives home, and she has nightmares as well. Visions appear in the mirror whenever blood or bodily fluids are placed on the glass, and people have an odd fascination with it. Police investigating the odd deaths soon suspect Jonathan and his very personality starts to change.

There are some typographical errors and stylistic choices that feel odd as different timelines are introduced to explain the mirror. Its origins are fascinating if a bit inconsistent with how the rest of it progresses. I liked the Elizabethan sequence much better than the modern one, to be honest. Some of the modern characters aren't very likable. This isn't much of an issue when they die in gory, bloody ways so that the mirror can feed on their souls. Jonathan was very likable in the beginning, as were his employees that were the mirror's early victims. As the story progressed, the lack of characters to really care about bothered me; in a horror story, you need to care about someone surviving to the end, and it needs to feel as though justice was served. I'm still not sure if it was.

The powers that the mirror manifests changes as more people die, though it doesn't feel like a logical progression, only as a plot device. The air of menace around the mirror works best in the beginning of the book, actually. As Jonathan changes and more people are affected, it feels less like a creepy, supernatural mirror and more like a serial killer on a spree. There is still the supernatural element, but it seems to take a back seat to the hunt for more blood and souls to sacrifice. It's still a haunting read, and I kept wondering what would happen next. The ending, while it feels a bit abrupt, is appropriately sinister.

Buy Mirror Image at Amazon

MK French, reviewer. Born and raised in New York City, M.K. started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever

Book Info:
available formats: ebook and print (352 pages)
published: August 2016 by Tor Books
ISBN13: 9780765385222 
genres: horror, dark fantasy, paranormal suspense
a free book was provided for this review

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October 2, 2016

Review: Chasing at the Surface by Sharon Mentyka

by Elisabeth Scherer

chasing blog tour

Mom always says there are no coincidences. I know the Suquamish Nation held their blessing ceremony to help the orcas find their way home, but maybe being here has helped me find my way, too.  - excerpt from page 152

Chasing at the Surface by Sharon MentykaWelcome to one of the first stops in the #Chasingblogtour for Sharon Mentyka's new book Chasing at the Surface.

Today I want to share what makes this book a must-own. It is a middle grades book aimed at 8-12-year-old readers but appeals to a wide variety of people. Chasing at the Surface is available this week on Tuesday, October 4th.

Sharon Mentyka weaves a tale of a twelve-year-old girl who is searching for a new normal. Marisa's world turns upside down when her mother up and leaves in the middle of the night. Then, to make more chaos, her small Pacific Northwest inlet town becomes home for a pod of 19 orca whales. Marisa and her mother loved and studied whales together. They even adopted and named a whale calf upon discovering it in the area one summer.

But as the days come and go the whales aren't leaving the inlet. As much as Marisa doesn't want to involve herself she can't avoid the what is becoming a serious situation. It pushes Marisa towards making a stand to help save the whales. She learns to listen to her inner voice. At the same time, she's learning some lessons about life and friends, and what makes a family.

Her science teacher takes on a class project to help the crew attempting to help the whales escape. The public's frenzy of such majestic creatures escalates. The whale's food supply is diminishing. There is a growing urgency for the whales to make it.

"Be good."  Mom's last words, written just above her name in the letter she left. Just two little words, but everything that's been happening with the whales - and now with Harris - has me thinking about what being "good" means. Does it mean doing what's good for you, or for others" And what about the rest of the creatures on the planet?  - excerpt from page 93

This idea for Chasing at the Surface came from a real event that Mentyka then used to build her story around. It is chock full of facts about whales, pods, whale behavior and how to exist with whales in nature. It is the perfect fiction book that could be used in schools to read and discuss the effects humans have on nature. It also hits on growing up and standing up for what you know in your heart is right. It tells readers that you are never too young to have a voice for animal conservation.

Whales, she said, never exclude anyone from their pod. It doesn't matter if they're weak or injured or just different. In the world of the orca, everyone is a part of the group. Harris would probably say they "get it."  -excerpt from Page 81

Animal lovers will enjoy the details about these mammals. They will also love the passion shown to save the whales. Parents will love this book as a way to develop a child's appreciation for marine life.

Adults will love this book for the characters Mentyka has created. The mystery of why the whales came into the inlet and why Marisa's mom left to California keeps the story going. The build up of urgency to help the whales escape builds and you can feel how the situation is close to desperate. You will cheer Marisa on as she decides how she can best help the whales and ultimately come to grips with her home life. There are so many nuggets of good in this book.  I will leave you with one more:

"Forgiveness is a choice too, Marisa. But forgiveness takes courage. Because it's not just the person who hurt you that you're forgiving, you also need to forgive yourself. The change needs to be inside you. And the only way that can happen is if you grow in courage. And that can take a very long time."  - excerpt from page 193

I am happy to say that this is definitely a book I would read to my children or save for them to read when they are older. I consider this book to have a strong female main character that moms of girls would love to have in their to be read pile.

Chasing at the Surface comes out October 4th so go preorder it now. It will make a good gift for any 8-12 year old or whale fanatics in your life.

Thanks again to Sharon Mentyka for allowing me to read and review her book.  For other stops on the Chasing Blog Tour please check

Buy Chasing at the Surface at Amazon

Elisabeth grew up in a very small town in Minnesota but now lives in the lovely Pacific Northwest where she spends most of her time raising her two young children. She and her husband have a large collection of books that takes a good space of their small condo. When she's not reading she has a variety of hobbies that include crocheting, drawing, baking, cooking, and movie watching. You can also find her blogging at

Book info:
available formats: print (228 pages)
published: October 2016 by Westwinds Press
ISBN13: 9781943328604
target audience: 8-12 year old
genres:  juvenile fiction, environmental awareness 
a free book was provided by the publisher for this review

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