Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Three Wrongs by Charles Bowie


Sean Donovan is doing all right; he has two offshore bank accounts and an American one as well and all three are filling up nicely. His network of clients know his business plan: he is willing to acquire whatever rare or inaccessible product is needed, be it the security plans to an art gallery, a rare Etruscan goblet or a recorded conversation from a former American President. And he will steal it and deliver it to them, no questions asked nor answered.

But he is becoming dissatisfied. In addition to the physical wear and tear inflicted on his body by adversaries, he is now becoming weary of the toll his newly-discovered conscience is exacting from these highly illegal exploits. A series of lies to his most recent client has caused him to think about the impact of his deeds and he doesn’t like how it makes him feel. An idea begins to form; what if he was to undo his last three wrongs? And what if he nevertheless wants to benefit from turning over this new leaf?

This story follows Sean Donovan as he travels from Bucharest to London to Montreal and New York. Will he repent his wicked ways? Will he quit the business before those who he has wronged catch up to him? Will he discover that three wrongs don’t make a right?

Review by Rochelle Weber:

Sean Donovan is the best at what he does—theft for hire—when he has all the facts in the case, when he is not mistaken for someone else, and when it’s not personal. In his latest cases, everything is awry. Thugs keep getting in his way. When he tries to stop them from killing a gypsy boy in Bucharest, he finds himself in possession of a bag of stolen passports, one of which puts him onto the radar of yet another bad guy. His next job is to steal the lucky necklace belonging to an actress. His client is a spoiled brat of a teenaged starlet; the victim is a beautiful, smart, funny, nice woman who only removes her lucky pearls at bedtime.

I received an Advanced Review Copy that had not been fully edited, so I can’t comment on the few editorial glitches I found. I’m sure they’ll have been caught when Mr. Bowie went through the galleys. What I can say is that Three Wrongs grabbed me at the beginning and kept me burning through my Kindle right to the end. Despite his chosen profession, I like Sean Donovan. Retired spies have a very specific set of skills and there aren’t too many things they can do with them. Donovan chose a lucrative and (mostly) safe profession. In many instances, he replaces what he stole with duplicates so the owners won’t even know their property is gone. I look forward to reading the second book in this series, AMACAT. Meanwhile, I highly recommend Three Wrongs.

Length:  230 Pages


Print:  $10.95

Digital:  $5.95

Buy Links:

You’ll notice we always include the publisher’s buy link. That’s because authors usually receive 40% of the book price from the publisher. Editors and cover artists usually receive about 5%. When you buy a book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or another third-party vendor, they take a hefty cut and the author, editors and cover artists receive their royalties from what is left. So, if a book costs $5.99 at and you buy from there, the author will receive about $2.40. If you buy the book at Amazon, the author will receive about $0.83.

Downloading the file from your computer to your e-reader is as easy as transferring any file from your computer to a USB flash drive. Plug the larger USB end of your chord into a USB port on your computer and simply move the file from your “Downloads” box to your E-Reader/Documents/Books directory. You can download your books onto your computer using “Save As” to a “Books” file you create and sort them into sub-folders by genre, author, or however you wish before transferring them to your e-reader. That way, if there’s a glitch with your e-reader, the books are on your computer. And, your author will be happy you did when he/she sees his/her royalty statement.

Thanks for visiting. Julie, Donna, & Rochelle

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Whistle Walk by Stephania McGee


A Mississippi Plantation: Civil War pits countrymen against one another and tears a nation asunder. Life and death are held in the balance where everyone is a slave to something. One is born free, yet lives as a soul in bondage... Lydia Harper never intended to purchase a slave. But when she witnesses a woman being beaten in the street, all her pretenses begin to unravel. A bride to a man she barely knows and bound by her secrets, Lydia will risk everything to save a stranger. Amid the War Between the States, the mistress of Ironwood faces the battles in her own heart and discovers strength in a way she never imagined. The other is born to serve, yet holds the spirit of freedom... Ruth, standing on the threshold of desperation, has lost everything she holds dear. After being pulled from the dirt, she is no longer a field hand but the personal maid to the lady of Ironwood. Ruth soon realizes adversity pays no mind to the color of skin. When propriety slips, she discovers they have more in common than she dreamed possible. In a time when fear brings the South to its knees, two women will forge a friendship in the fires of redemption and thrust Ironwood into a new future - where the battle for freedom has merely begun.

Donna's Review:

Gee willikers! This one was a tough one. And I must say, I picked up another newbie author quite by accident, again. And this book, like others I’ve read from new authors, has so much good and so much that needs improving it makes rating it difficult.

First, the good. The title intrigued me and, as a girl of the Old South, was not a phrase I had heard. (You must read the book to find out what it means.) McGee later uses the idea as a symbol of the characters choices as they work to change their life. Definitely an opportunity not wasted.

The battle scenes three-fourths of the way through were really well-written. They moved along quickly, the description was well done, and came from the characters’ experiences. I literally felt as if I was there. I could hear the sounds and smell the blood. Frankly, battle and fight scenes are some of the hardest to write, but McGee does a fabulous job.

The character of Ruth, who is the slave woman, is captivating. Her goals are clear and immediate at the beginning, so that the reader is sucked into the story. (She carries the story through the first third of the book. If it had not been for her, I might not have kept reading.)

McGee pulls off the dialogue of the slaves like a seasoned pro. Usually, slave dialogue comes across stiff and hard to read, but McGee pulls a few tricks with the writing that makes it flow from the page. The result? The reader is not forced to labor over the dialogue which causes them to pull out of the story.

The contrasting world of black and white at this time is well-done. Lydia is torn between Ruth’s forced station in life and even her own. In a particularly poignant scene, as the war is tearing Ironwood apart, Lydia remarks that “she always thought being equal would make them [the slaves] more like her. She’d never considered giving up her place to be more like them.” Definitely powerful stuff going on here!

Now, the not so good. Or, I should say “the could be better.” While Ruth’s story was well done, Lydia’s suffers from unclear goals until nearly the halfway point of the book. There are also a number of historical inconsistencies in her character. For example, she doesn’t seem to know a lot about running a Southern household, but she grew up on a plantation. Neither did she understand social “codes of conduct” in the Old South. For example, slaves did not ride in carriages, nor did the plantation mistress go to the slaves’ quarters. It lies with Ruth to tell her how to act. Had Lydia been Northern born, this would have been understandable. But considering the fact she was Southern born, and her mother definitely knew her place and how to work it, Lydia would have known hers. Her character’s transformation is also a bit unexplained, so that she seems to be all over the page as far as a character is concerned—wallflower, waif, crusader, warrior, do-gooder, etc., etc.

As for her husband, Charles, he seems a bit too good to be true. He, too, has no immediate, angst-filled goals until the war arrives at his doorstep. He loves Lydia. He wishes to marry her. He doesn’t seem much to care what she does. He doesn’t wish to go to war. That is about it.

The setting was also a bit bland (except for the war scenes). Every now and then I would hear a turn of a phrase and an apt description, but they were few and far between and the book definitely needed more. I, for one, like to “feel” that I am there, and I did not feel that way in some parts of this book, although in others I did.

All in all, though, this was an enjoyable read. I have thought about the book days after finishing it, and I think I will break my rule and move right to the second in this series as it looks so interesting.

I guess that says a lot on its own. Three roses for this one.

Thanks for visiting Julie, Rose, Donna & Rochelle

Length:  366 pages
Print:  $14.99
Digital:  $3.99

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Woman’s Book of Inspiration edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi


What does it mean to be a woman? These excerpts are a testament to women everywhere, today and in the past, who embody a spirit of everything from courage to understanding, from nurturing to hope. Includes: Amelia Earhart: "Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." Madeleine Albright: "I especially treasure the young women who say that my example has inspired them to raise their sights so that they now feel that serving as secretary of state or in even higher office is a realistic goal." Isabel Allende: "I can promise you that women working together—linked, informed, and educated—can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet." Gloria Vanderbilt: "I've always believed that one woman's success can only help another woman's success." George Eliot: "Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms." Margaret Thatcher: "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." And many more!

Review by Rose Thornton:

I enjoyed this book, although I would not count it among the greatest I have ever read. A Woman’s Book of Inspiration is inspiring on a surface level; not a lot of depth to it, but I assume it is what it was meant to be—a light, encouraging collection of thoughtful wit. For this, it met its mark and I can recommend it.
Among my favorite quotes in the book are:

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
—Helen Keller

“Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.”
—Doris Lessing

“Tact is the art of making people feel at home when that’s where you wish they were.”
—Ann Landers

“What people in the world think of you is really none of your business.”
—Martha Graham

Thanks for visiting, Rose, Julie, Donna, & Rochelle

Length:  128 Pages

Print Price:  $5.25

Buy Link:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jesse’s Find by P. A. Estelle


Jesse Mason is bone tired and just miles from home when a strange sound drifting with a Kansas wind catches his ear.

He spies something hiding in the tall grass. His temper sizzles at the sight of a horse, dead from exertion, and is ready to string up the cowboy who has done this. What Jesse finds is no cowboy at all, but a woman who has been shot and an infant. Both, he fears will not make it to his home alive.

Jesse didn’t ask for this, but he knew he couldn’t turn his back on them. What he didn’t know was somebody wanted that woman dead and didn’t care who else had to die to get that job done.

Review by Rochelle Weber:

In Jesse’s Find, Jesse Mason finds a woman and a baby near death close to his ranch house on the Kansas prairie. At first, she has no memory of who she is, the baby, or how she got there. Jesse nurses her back to health and cares for the baby. He slowly returns to life and love after having lost his pregnant wife in a bank robbery a few years earlier. But “Ginny” rode her horse to death in the middle of the prairie for a reason—she was running from someone. The appearance of the men searching for her jogs her memory. Upon the death of her brother-in-law back East, she answered an ad for domestic help in Abiline, Kansas—transportation paid, packed up her pregnant sister, and set out. When they arrived, the ladies were met by the manager of a bordello. “Ginny’s” sister died in childbirth, and “Ginny” was shot escaping from the bordello with her niece. She tells Jesse her real name is Amy, but she’s gotten used to being called Ginny, and the owner of the bordello is still looking for her.

I enjoyed this short story, and was impressed that despite being part of a series, it stands alone. However, Ms. Estelle’s work suffers from the same problem as so many independently published writers—she needs a good editor. The story was full of head-hops and grammar errors, which I found distracting. Still I recommend Jesse’s Find. It’s a nice, sweet, Western historical romance.

Length:  40 Pages
Digital Price:  $0.99

Thanks for visiting. Rose, Julie, Donna, & Rochelle