Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Second to Nun by Alice Loweecey


The Other Side has hired Driscoll Investigations. The owner of Stone’s Throw Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast insists that a Tarot reading told her to hire Giulia to evict the family ghost. Since the ghost is cutting gas lines and flooding cellars, Giulia and her husband Frank head to the B&B to discover the real perpetrator.

The client also has a family legend: A highwayman who stole a pile of gold. Giulia has a pile of suspects, including a psychic the client hired to conduct weekly séances. So much for romance with Frank at this getaway.

Instead, Giulia’s juggling arson, creepy clown dolls, and the psychic going all Exorcist on her. Then the ghost tries to push the client off the lighthouse and throw Giulia down three flights of stairs. It should’ve known better than to mess with an ex-nun. Giulia has connections and she’s about to use them.

About The Author:

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she’s not creating trouble for Giulia Driscoll, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

Review by Rochelle Weber:

Giulia Driscoll is a delight. I was the only Protestant on my block growing up, so I vicariously went to parochial school. While I didn’t actually have nuns wrapping my knuckles with rulers, the boys on my block sometimes did. Somehow I have difficulty picturing Giulia doing that to her students. I have a feeling she’d be a kinder nun who would keep order with compassion and humor, and whose weekly confession would include her ongoing coffee habit. (Yeah, I hear ya groaning.)

At any rate, Second to Nun was a real page burner, and Ms. Loweecey did something not too many mystery writers manage to do. She kept me guessing whodunit to the very end of the book. I kind of had part of it right, but not all of it. I love it when an author manages to surprise me. Woo Hoo! Thanks, Ms. Loweecey! I plan to go back and read the beginning of this series when I have time (hollow laugh), and I look forward to snagging more of your books when they hit Net Galley (I hope). By all means, grab Second to Nun. You’ll definitely enjoy it.

Length:  270 Pages
Heat Rating:  PG
Hardcover:  $31.95
Paperback:  $15.95
Digital:  $2.99

You’ll notice we always include the publisher’s buy link. That’s because authors usually receive 40-50% of the net proceeds 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 cuts from what is left. So, if a book costs $5.99 at E-Book and you buy from there, the author will receive about $2.40-$2.99. If you buy the book at Amazon, the author will receive about $1.70-$2.10.

Download the file from the publisher onto your computer as you would any other file. I’ve created a folder for books on my computer, with subfolders by source (Marketing for Romance Writers, Net Galley, Authors who find me on Kindle lists, etc.). That way, if there’s a glitch with your Kindle, the books are on your computer. Some publishers send books in all digital formats. If my Kindle breaks and my kids buy me a Nook, I won’t have to replace all of my books. If you have a Kindle and your hubby has a Nook, you won’t have to buy separate copies, so buying directly from the publisher can save you money.

Moving 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 e-reader charging chord into a USB port on your computer and simply move the file from the folder into which you’ve downloaded the book to Documents/Books directory on your e-reader. Your author will be happy you did when he/she sees his/her royalty statement.

Thanks for visiting. Donna, Julie, & Rochelle

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Lady in Defiance by Heather Frey Blanton


Charles McIntyre owns everything and everyone in the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance. When three good, Christian sisters from his beloved South show up stranded, alone, and offering to open a "nice" hotel, he is intrigued enough to let them stay...especially since he sees feisty middle sister Naomi as a possible conquest. But Naomi, angry with God for widowing her, wants no part of Defiance or the saloon-owning, prostitute-keeping Mr. McIntyre. It would seem however, that God has gone to elaborate lengths to bring them together. The question is, "Why?" Does God really have a plan for each and every life? 

Written with gritty, but not gratuitous, realism uncharacteristic of historical Christian fiction, A Lady in Defiance gives a nod to both Pride and Prejudice and Redeeming Love. The story, based on true events, is an "ensemble" piece that deftly weaves together the relationships of the three sisters and the rowdy residents of Defiance.

Donna's Review:

I loved this book! This is the first one I have picked up in a while that I had trouble putting it down. I even read when I had other things more pressing to do.

Heather is an indie-author, but you would not know if from the quality of A Lady in Defiance. Her sentence structure is clean and clippy. Her characters jump from the page, and her plotting is tight and quick. There was not a drag in the whole book. Top notch from the cover to the back cover copy.

Charles McIntrye came west after the Civil War to make his fortune. He owns the saloon, a successful silver mine, and most of the town of Defiance. He is now ready for the railroad to come to his town so he can increase his fortune, but first, he has to turn Defiance from chaos to respectability. The arrival of the Frick sisters is almost too good to be true, until he tangles with Naomi Frick. Needless to say, she is not impressed by his fortune or his conquests, and she is not afraid to say it. Blanton's portrayal of Charles McIntrye as a haunted man, with only a hidden inner kindness to make him redeemable, is fabulously done, while Naomi's anger at God for her own losses is heartbreaking. Blanton did such a great job with both Charles and Naomi, that I was not sure how they were going to thaw enough to find their way to each other before the book ended. (But they did. But I won't say how.)

Now, this is a Christian book, overtly. At the same time, there are prostitutes, saloons, a bit of witchcraft, death and mayhem, and even some brutal cat-fight scenes between women. However, Blanton handles the seemier aspects of the wild west with grace and finesse, so despite the subject matter, nothing is blatant or difficult to read. As for the Christianity, it is woven into the lives of the sisters so that it is, for the most part, not preachy or "over the top."  This would definitely be classified as "edgy Christian fiction," for people are not nice, and the Christians, especially Naomi, are struggling in their walk with God and do not always do the right thing.  

If you like books where the characters are nice to each other, and every Christian seems to have it together, then you won't like this book. But if you like characters that are real and who struggle to follow God, then you will love A Lady in Defiance.

An easy peasy 5 stars, and I have already ordered the second book in the series, Hearts in Defiance.

Length: 296 pages
Digital: $2.99
Paperback $12.99
Buy Link:

Thanks for visiting. Julie, Donna & Rochelle

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Failed Moments by A. Robert Allen


What if the only way to survive your life is to go back in history and right the wrongs of two other men’s lives?

Patrick Walsh finds himself in this precarious position as he goes back in time from modern day New York City to:

˃˃˃ The French Caribbean in 1790

Biracial plantation owner Patrice Beaumont is known as a “kinder” slave master and claims to be committed to ending slavery, but his actions don’t back-up his words. Is being the “best of the worst” all he’s capable of?

˃˃˃ 1863 New York City

Irish street fighter Patrick Allen is days away from the biggest fight of his career, when the Draft Riots ignite dangerous racial conflicts around the city. Never one to take sides outside the ring, he steers clear of the angry mobs. So when he stumbles on a lynching in progress, who can expect him to do anything more than look away?

Tackling race relations from a unique perspective, Failed Moments is a thought-provoking adventure that questions the measure of a man not by his decision to do no harm, but his willingness to act on what is right.

Review by Rochelle:

I wonder if Mr. Allen read the same metaphysical books I read that stated time does not run chronologically on the other side, and our various lives overlap enabling us to influence past lives as well as future ones. While lying comatose in a hospital bed, Patrick Walsh finds himself waiting for a date in the lobby of a posh New York hotel. He’s shocked when his “date” turns out to be his favorite aunt, Grace. She tells him they’re soul-mates who have been together in various relationships through many lifetimes together, and before they can move on to the next level, they need to change decisions they made in two of their past lives, and improve the way Patrick lives in this life.

In both of their past lives, Patrick was at the crux of racially-charged situations, and actions he failed to take made a difference in the outcomes in the world around him. And, in both of those lives, advice Grace failed to give Patrick influenced his inaction. If they manage to change those things, Patrick will come out of his coma and have a chance to change his current life. If he does so, he can move on to the next level of existence—Heaven, Nirvana, eternal Summerland, whatever one chooses to call it.

It’s not easy to stand up between fearful plantation owners and mobs of angry slaves or an Irish lynch mob who believe if they’re drafted to fight in the Civil War New York will be overrun by freed slaves who will work for lower wages and take away the few jobs they’re allowed to hold. It’s much easier to look the other way and maintain the status quo. Especially without the information his mammy or his mother could give him that would echo in his mind and encourage him to take a stand for what is right.

Failed Moments engaged me from the first page. I learned a lot about race relations on Haiti when it was still a French colony, and about how Tammany Hall controlled the military draft in New York City during the Civil War. There was also a spiritual lesson there, and an explanation of how reincarnation works, and again the fact that our lives do not play out chronologically. We can go back from this lifetime and change things in past lives. I believe this is something we sometimes do in our dreams. And yet, all of this information is delivered in an exciting, page-burning way. Mr. Allen transports us back to those times, into those lives, and shows us first-hand how it was, what happened, and…

The reason I’m giving Failed Moments 4.5 roses is that like so many self-published authors, Mr. Allen could have used a good fiction content editor. He did a better job than most indie authors in that he managed to avoid grammar errors and too many info dumps, but there were quite a few head-hops—changes of point-of-view in the middle of scenes. While the book did not read like an academic treatise (thank goodness!), Mr. Allen does not quite have the hang of writing fiction. He does, however, have a really good start. By all means, buy Failed Moments.

Length:  245 Pages
Print:  $16.41
Digital:  $2.99
Audible:  17.46

Thanks for visiting. Julie, Donna, & Rochelle

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Texas Roads (A Miller's Creek Novel Book 1) by Cathy Bryant


Dani Davis just wants a place to call home. With lovable-but-quirky town folks, quaint country charm, and loads of business potential, Miller's Creek, Texas seems like the perfect place to start over...except for the cowboy who gives her a ride into town. She secretly finances renovations to the downtown area until malicious rumors and a devastating discovery propel her down a road she never expected to travel.

Steve Miller is determined to rescue his dying hometown. When vandals jeopardize the renovation, he can’t help but suspect Dani, whose strange behavior has become fodder for local gossips. Can Steve and Dani call a truce for a higher cause, and in the process help Dani recognize the true meaning of home?

Donna's Review:

The book started off great. I was really excited at having found a new author, especially one that could construct sentences that didn't hurt my head. However, shortly into it, it began to lag a bit. It did pick up at the end, but in between there were times I could have read or not read.

Still, while an enjoyable read for the most part, I did not like the fact the only real reason Dani and Steve were separated the entire novel was due to more or less a simple misunderstanding(s). Because they each are absorbed in their own issues, they never really confront the other person and, as a result, they never really tackle their relationship . Because of this, the plot is weakened, whereas bringing a couple's issues front and center, and having them deal with them, provides loads of conflict and actually drives the story forward.

This is also a typical Christian novel where one person isn't a Christian and comes to accept Christ as their savior. While not overkill for readers of that genre, those that do not like to read this kind will find it trite (in the sense it's typical of this genre) and irritating near the end.

Four roses for this one for an easy, enjoyable read that is well plotted and sweet but not necessarily memorable.

Length:  311 pages
Paperback:  $11.69
Digital:  $0.99

Thanks for visiting:  Julie, Donna & Rochelle