RELEASE, Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Note
Zoe Folbigg
Aria, Oct 2017
Kindle, 293 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Contemporary Romance
Source NetGalley

Synopsis: 

The note changed everything...

One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn't ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably, that he is The One.

But the beautiful man on the train always has his head in a book and never seems to notice Maya sitting just down the carriage from him every day. Eventually, though, inspired by a very wise friend, Maya plucks up the courage to give the stranger a note asking him out for a drink. Afterall, what's the worst that can happen?

And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it.

Based on the author's true story, The Note is an uplifting, life-affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything...


Author:

Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with 'Train Man' – a man she had met on her daily commute. She since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. This is her debut novel.

My Disclaimer: 
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰⭒

It's a debut novel based on a true story. And it's one that takes us around in circles for a bit. First, she's watching him and he's unaware of her. Then he's the one looking. They bump into each other at a photo shoot and then there's his old girlfriend and Maya takes off. So much of the tension of this story is whether or not the two of them with eventually get together. Well, I hadn't read the press releases before I read the book. I'm so glad I hadn't, too. I would have been so angry. As I said, so much of the tension is whether or not they're going to get together. Whether or not he's going to answer her note. Whether or not she's going to speak to him. Whether or not they'll ever get together again.

The press that I saw for the book on Google and other places gives away the whole premise of the book and all its secrets! I only found it when I went looking for a bio for the author because there wasn't one on GoodReads or Amazon, and I like to have something for a bio when I review a book. What I found was press releases from the US and UK with the story about the book and how it was a true story and other stuff. No, I am not going to give any more of it away.

Read the story, enjoy the tension, find out what happens. Does he answer her note? Does she talk to him? Do they ever meet up? Does she ever do anything with her life other than make up names for fashions? But don't read the press releases.

The characters were reasonably well developed. The storyline was highly amusing. The pace was a bit irregular with some slow and go spots. The writing was quite good. I loved the fashion description! I could really picture each of Maya's outfits each day! Loved it when she decided to look good enough to be noticed.

To Book Bloggers, Your Input is Requested, Please...

I was recently reading a post on another book blog, about the length of blogs and how long blogs are superior to short blogs. Far superior. And we're talking about 2,500 words a post. The article was very well written and the argument seemed sound. Until...

Until I took a look at my own word counts. My word counts, even with the book info, synopsis, and author bios fell far short of that mark. And I thought I got a bit wordy at times with my chatty style. But HIME had a lot more to say than I ever could, she usually does, though.

"BLOGGING IS ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE SOMETHING TO ADD TO THE CONVERSATION...

Where’s the cleverly elaborated opinion? Where’s the backing to the reason of why I should read this book? Where’s the controversial point of view that’s going to draw me in into reading? Or simply, why aren’t you enticing discussion to build your community?
GOOGLE SAID SO.

And in Jon Morrow’s words: Giving Google what it wants is smart.

Most articles out there will go on to explain that longer articles are favorable because SEO (Search Engine Optimization, to make it short, the algorithm that decides how high your blog will appear in a search result without paying to be bumped higher) ranks articles with more content higher on the search engine. Think of it, which of these two options would google rather hook you up with: The one that engages you for two minutes, or the one that engages you for twenty?"


Now, I really enjoy her rants and most of her stuff. But I just can't imagine me coming up with 2,000 or more words about each book or even most of the books I read for my Monday through Friday postings. Apart from the book info, synopsis, and author's bio, I usually have about 400 to 700 words for my disclaimer and review. I make an effort not to retell the story since I use the synopsis. I tell parts of the story from my own point of view to portray my opinion using my own humor or snarkiness. I'm not an English Lit major, so I don't go into the structure of the book in great detail or really technical terms. I don't feel I'm qualified. My reviews are my personal opinion of the books I'm reading. If I had an English Lit degree, it would be a more professional review along with my personal opinion. But that's not what I provide. And as far as I can tell, most book reviewers that I follow or rub elbows with out here in the community are doing pretty much the same thing. Some are teachers or librarians with more professional points of view, but for the most part, I have found personal likes and dislikes rule the roost. Even when I'm in love with a book, I find I can only go on so long without just telling the whole story and making the book a moot point.

I try very hard with my reviews to hint about things without giving away out and out spoilers. Though I find sometimes I've actually given things away without realizing it when I go back and read the review later on. The longer I go on in a post, the more likely I am to do that. So how is a reviewer to do her job of not revealing important bits and pieces but come up with a word count of 2,500?

All of you book bloggers out there, please share your thoughts and insights with me. Pro or Con. I'm curious to see how y'all feel about this subject. I need to make sure you gals in COYER see this. I'm sure you would all have an opinion.

Judi at Blue Cat Review

Point of Reference: 643-word count
What is your average word count?




Glamourist Histories #2

Glamour in Glass
Glamourist Histories #2
Mary Robinette Kowal
Self-Pub, Apr 2012
Kindle, 335 Pages
Also available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genre(s) Alternate Historical Fiction, Jane Austen Re-Tales
Source Amazon

Other books in this series:
Shades of Milk and Honey #1, Without a Summer #3, Valour and Vanity #4, Of Noble Family #5

Synopsis: 

Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey, a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.

In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it.

Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison . . . and hopefully, prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war.


Author:

Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and her short story "For Want of a Nail" won the 2011 Hugo. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year's Best anthologies. She is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass (Tor 2012).

Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve. She also records fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi.

Mary lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters.


My Disclaimer:
I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰✰
Book Two in the series is just as good as Book One was! This one is Jane and Vincent's story. They've gotten married and they go off on a honeymoon rather than to visit her parents after a dinner with Prinny, as he asked Jane to call him. It was a high society dinner Jane had no experience with and ended strangely with a long wait for Vincent while he added something the Prince had asked him to add to the glamural they had created. Jane ends up being sent home by Prinny and his mistress in a carriage and Vincent comes home in the wee hours exhausted and in a rather bad mood. Jane is in her own bad mood when she finds out he stayed to change something that they had designed together. Two grumpy people in one marriage! Yikes!


People at the dinner kept asking Jane about her trip to the continent, but Jane knew nothing about it. She tried to cover up with neutral comments until she could speak with Vincent the next day. That's when she found out they were going on a honeymoon and that Prinny was providing them transport on a ship in two day's time. So nice of him! But why hadn't Vincent discussed this with her?

On the continent, Napolean is still on Elba, and all is well between the French and Brits. But French society has always been a bit (?) looser than British society and Jane gets her eye-full at one dinner when the ladies don't leave when the port is served. The goings-on rather insults and embarrass her in fact. The French have a good laugh at her expense and she bears up under it well, but not happily. In England, only the Prince brings his mistress to the table with polite society!

For about half of this book, Jane is unaware of what her husband is actually doing. She just knows he's acting strangely and isn't telling her anything. She's terribly tempted to spy on him when the English-French maid they have returns his travel desk's key to her one day with some laundry. But she's a good wife and doesn't snoop. She returns the key to him. But she soon knows what's going on and Napolean is loose again and headed in their direction. 

Jane suffers an incident after working glamour and faints. The doctor is called and she is told she cannot work glamour until this is over. She is not happy about this, but she complies. Until it is their lives or glamour. It has the expected results and Jane feels terribly guilty about it. But she also feels other feelings that she hadn't expected. She really needs Vincent's support, and he rises to the occasion and surrounds her with love and care.


There are no sex scenes as this is a JA re-tale. The violence is referred to after the fact or downplayed politely, off in the distance. It's all in what might be considered JA style. The pace is good. Things move along and you go right along with them. If there is any problem, it's the distraction of the glamour students, but they are only red herrings.

In true Jane Austen style, every time Jane has to go somewhere, she writes to someone to tell them where she is going and with whom. Even when she runs off into the face of Napolean's approaching army! Jane Austen would be so proud of her! I know I was! Hope you enjoy reading this second installation in the Glamourist Histories! I highly recommend it. I've already bought the third one.


He can't see what's right before his eyes...

Dominic
Her Warlock Protector #1
Hazel Hunter
Self-Pub, Mar 2015
Kindle, 187 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Paranormal Romance 
Source Amazon 

Other books in this series

Sebastian #2, Logan #3, Colin #4, Vincent #5, Jackson #6, Trent #7, Matteo #8, Hugh #9(reviewed)

Synopsis:  

Timid but tough Sophia Chambers has finally found the perfect job for her strange ability. As a private detective’s assistant, she trails and photographs people with ease, because she can make herself unseen. But when she stumbles into the arms of Dominic Berrett, she finds she no longer wants to hide.

Though Dominic’s stunning looks could easily make him a model, he’s the farthest thing from it. As a warlock and captain in the Magus Corps, he’s been deployed to bring Sophia into a witchcraft fold that she doesn’t even know exists. Despite his five-hundred years as an immortal, he discovers something unexpectedly captivating in the beautiful but shy young woman.

But when her deadly past catches up to her and an ancient enemy of witchcraft emerges, their newfound passion strains to the breaking point. Though Dominic would do anything to keep her safe, he can’t protect someone he can’t see. Little does he know that her disappearance isn’t her own doing.


Author:  

Hazel and her husband stopped being separate people years ago. They live their happy life in the always crowded, mostly sunny, and sometimes sweltering city of LA. Though they haven’t managed it yet, plans are afoot to add a kitty to the household, thereby giving the allergist fits.

Hazel has been writing full-time for several years, with some traditionally published work in other genres. But it’s her indie-published romance that fuels the creative fire. It turns out writing isn’t a job, it’s an obsession.

When you can pry Hazel’s fingers from the laptop, you’ll find her: on the elliptical watching a documentary, indulging her audiobook habit, or spending quality time with Candy Crush. Although she’s vegan, she’s a disaster in the kitchen. Luckily, potato chips and pinot noir come ready-made.


My Disclaimer:  

I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰
Dominic and Sophia did not make for a fun book to read. Their story was much too sad, both of them. Four years ago, a close friend of Sophia's was killed in Phoenix. Since then she's been hiding, using her ability to simply fade into the scenery, to become invisible. So working as a private investigator for Brent in his small private investigation company is perfect for her.

The Magus Corps has been trying to find her since the incident in Phoenix, tracking her with a crystal device that senses her magic when she uses it. Dominic is the one tracking her. The Magus Corps tries to gather up all witches as they awaken to protect them, sort of bringing them into the fold. Sophia doesn't even know what she is. She has never been trained in the use of her power.

The Templars are also looking for Sophia. And it wasn't too tough to figure out who their representative was. It was curious as to why he didn't move to take her before the Magus Corps arrived on site though. Was he just waiting for the moment to do the most damage?

The sex was steaming hot. The violence was brief but rough. The storyline was good. This is the second one in this series that I've read and the writing is consistently good. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series. I recommend this author's books. I'd go so far as to say any of her series would be a good bet.

A Romantic Comedy

Remedial Rocket Science
A Romantic Comedy #1
Susannah Nix
Self-Pub, Aug 2017
Kindle, 260 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Romantic Comedy, Debut Novel 
Source Author's Rep

Other books in this series

Interdynamic Thermodynamics #2
Synopsis:  

Rocket science is no problem. Falling in love, on the other hand…

College student Melody Gage is craving a night of no-strings fun when she meets charming out-of-towner Jeremy, and that’s exactly what she gets. Until three years later, when Melody relocates to Los Angeles and finds herself thrust back into Jeremy’s orbit.

Not only does her hunky one-night stand work at the same aerospace company where she’s just started her dream job, he’s the CEO’s son. Jeremy’s got a girlfriend and a reputation as a bad boy, so Melody resolves to keep her distance. Despite her good intentions, a series of awkward circumstances—including an embarrassing crying jag, a latte vs. computer catastrophe, and an emergency fake date—throw her together with the heavenly-smelling paragon of hotness.

As the billionaire playboy and nerdy IT girl forge an unlikely friendship, Melody’s attraction to Jeremy grows deeper than she’s ready to admit. Will she risk it all for a shot at her happy ending?

The debut novel from author Susannah Nix, Remedial Rocket Science follows in the tradition of contemporary romantic comedy favorites like Penny Reid, Sally Thorne, and Jennifer Crusie. This lighthearted slow burn romance is the first in a series of standalone rom-coms featuring geeky heroines who work in STEM fields.

Author:

Susannah Nix lives in Texas with her husband, two ornery cats, and a flatulent pit bull. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, knitting, watching stupid amounts of television, and getting distracted by Tumblr. She is also a powerlifter who can deadlift as much as Captain America weighs.
My Disclaimer:  

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.


~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review



My Review: ✰✰✰✰⭒
Melody is conservative, quiet, thrifty, and has goals for her future. She's only had a few boyfriends in the past and men don't figure largely in her future. Jeremy is outgoing, charming, rich, and has no goals. But he has had many, many girlfriends. And it seems he's cheated on them all. What could these two people have in common?

The characters were very well developed. The storyline was great, too. And the pace was good. There was no sex in the book, just foreplay. And no violence. The writing was quite good, but there was not a lot of description. Not even much of a description of outfits or rooms. But there was enough going on to keep my attention. I loved the relationship mishmash the author created here. And they all ended up with an HEA, too!

This was a really fun read, even though there was so much unhappiness in it. You just had to see things with a sense of humor from start to finish with the situations they got themselves into. The two sisters dating the same guy. The mother's approval of the wrong girl. And their connection from a one-night stand to start it all off. What are the odds?!

This is a debut novel and the first in a series of stand alones in series. I recommend this to romance readers who like a laugh with their love. Looks like this might be another author to add to the list of keepers!

The Bloom Girls
Emily Maine Cavanaugh
Lake Union Publishing, March 2017
Kindle, 258 Pages
Also available in paperback, audiobook
Genre(s) Debut Novel, Women's Lit, Family
Source Author's rep

Synopsis:  

A tender, heartfelt story of three sisters, their late father’s painful past, and the power of forgiveness.

When the news of their father’s death reaches them, sisters Cal, Violet, and Suzy Bloom have to set aside their own personal crises, and their differences, to gather in Maine. Responsible Cal, the oldest and closest to their dad, is torn between taking care of her family and meeting the demands of a high-pressure law career. Impulsive Violet, the estranged middle child, is regretting a messy breakup with a man she’s just now realizing she truly loves. And Suzy, the sweet youngest daughter, is anguishing over a life-altering decision.

Arriving in their father’s small coastal town, the Bloom sisters can’t help but revisit the past, confronting the allegations against their father that shattered their family nearly twenty years earlier. As they try to reconcile different versions of their childhood and search for common ground, they’re forced to look at their father’s life—and their own lives—with new eyes, or risk losing all they hold dear.


Author:

A little about me: Originally from the Boston area, I now live on the island of Martha's Vineyard with my husband and two daughters. During the day I work as a middle and high school English teacher. When not teaching, parenting, reading or cooking, I write contemporary fiction. My writing tends to focus on family, motherhood, relationships, work and career angst, sibling rivalry, and other messy stuff. My first novel, THE BLOOM GIRLS, releases March 14, 2017, with Lake Union Publishing. My second novel will come out March 2018. Want to hear more? Read more about my work on my website (www.emilycavanaghauthor.com), sign up for my author newsletter. or follow me on social media.

My Disclaimer:  

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.


~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰⭒
I'm always thrilled to find out an author whose book I like is a near neighbor of mine. I'm here in Southern New Hampshire and she's just down there on Martha's Vineyard. This is Ms. Cavanaugh's debut novel, which came out in March of this year. I struggle over how to classify this type of book. They seem to fall under Women's Lit or Coming of Age a lot. I keep looking for a better classification for them.

Here we meet three sisters of the Bloom family. Each sister has been named after a flower. There's Cal (Calla Lily), Violet, and Suzy (Black-eyed Susan). Each one has her own struggles with her past and current life. They have just found out that their father died of a heart attack. Their mother lives overseas. So the sisters make plans to go take care of their father's funeral.

Each of the sisters starts a mental house cleaning of things related to her own relationship with her father and how the situation will be once they get to his house. Each of them is focused on herself and how this has affected her. They all have questions about their father and whether or not he was really gay, even though he denied it. The sniping and bickering reveal all the tension beneath the surface. Finally, their mother arrives and they settle a bit now that their Mom is there to stabilize them. But their drama continues and it takes a near-death incident and a botched one-night stand to bring all of the dirt to light and get all four of the women together and talking enough to get at the truth of what happened "back then".

Parts of this were really tough to read. This was a family story, and yet Violet was pretty disgusting. I was glad in the end all the dirt came out so that she could really heal. There was excellent character development of all the characters. And the storyline was tops. Poor Barry, so alone in the end. I felt so bad for him. There was no resolution, no path ahead for him.

Ms. Cavanaugh has another book coming out in March of 2018. I recommend reading this first one and looking forward to her second one later one. She seems like an author to watch.
Witch Kissed
Old Sarum Witch Cozy Mystery, #1
K.E. O'Connor
Self-Pub, Jan 2017
Ebook, 175 Pages
Only in digital
Genre(s) Cozy Magic Mystery
Source Author's Newsletter

Other books in this series

Witch Rose #2, Witch Guy #3
Synopsis:  

A witch has a problem. Can the Thornheart witches help and will they solve the kissing curse and figure out their own tangled love lives?

Ivy and Bryony Thornheart are no strangers to magic, light and dark. When the talented witches come up against a powerful kissing curse, they have to fight to save their client, Agatha Graytooth, from repelling every man she kisses.

Human lives are put at risk by this curse, and the witches have to race to save the feeble red bloods and break the curse.

Witched Kissed is the first in an exciting cozy paranormal mystery in the Old Sarum series. With enchanting settings, characters you will fall in love with, and exciting magic filled action. Join the Thornheart sisters at the Love Cauldron and follow them in their witch filled adventures.

Author:

I'm K.E. O'Connor, and I love to write, make up new worlds, new possibilities and characters and share stories for others to enjoy.

I was raised in Essex, England. I am a novelist and short story writer, writing in the paranormal romance, urban fantasy and paranormal adventure genres. My writing has mystery, adventure and excitement and some romance thrown in to make things even more stimulating. I'm an indie author on a learning curve to create quality fiction, quickly, without sending out error ridden books into the world (if you spot an error in my books or on this site, let me know, always happy to make corrections.)

The writing I do aims to excite and inspire readers and writers. I love reading anything that quickens my pulse and makes me fall in love with the characters (or hate them - all intense emotions are welcome.) My writing tries to do the same. I have created a series called The School of Exorcists, following the journey of Ruby Carmichael, a girl who see ghosts, has the tricky problem of stopping her parents destroying the world and saving herself from a love that may ultimately destroy her.

If you sign up to my email list, you'll be in line for lots of fun information, giveaways and advance information about future books, you'll also get book two in the series, Revelations, for free as well!

http://www.keoconnor.com

And keep a look out for my new YA paranormal series, Ghost Academy, which is currently in development, with Book One coming out in January 2016.

When I'm not designing new stories or characters for readers to enjoy, you can find me enjoying time with a good book or five, trying to convince my elderly, beautiful cat, Cassie, to eat something, walk/dancing on my treadmill (trying to dance on a treadmill should be an official sport - so much fun), watching anything sci-fi or cosy crime related on the TV (Murder She Wrote anyone) or simply kicking back on the couch and daydreaming - also called meditation.

My Disclaimer:  
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.

~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review



My Review: ✰✰✰⭒


I thought the cover of the Kindle book I got from the author's newsletter was really cute. The elements all came from the book and the artwork fit the vibe of the book. BUT, when I started putting this review together I discovered there is a second cover for this book and it looks like it will be used for the series rather than the one I have. I just don't care for it anywhere near as much as I do the other one, though I do like the old typewriter font that was chosen for everything but the title. It seems to be a popular font lately. What do you think of the two covers?

This was a fun read, but it had no real depth to it. The writing was pretty good, but needed smoothing out in some spots to help the flow. The pace was fast for the most part, but got bogged down towards the end with incidentals. I came away with questions that I assume the author is saving for future books in the series. Like what is the curse on the Thornheart women? Who put it there? What's the story behind Bryony's and Ivy's fathers? One was an angel and one was a demon.

Agatha comes to the Love Cauldron to get the sisters' help getting rid of the kissing curse and to find out who put it on her. Once you get into the story a bit, it's easy to figure out who had it put on her, but the surprise is who actually laid it on her! I was rolling on the floor laughing over that part! But Ivy handled it pretty well.

The pairings are fairly predictable, too. There's Gabriel who is a failed angel. He works for the Charm Police. That's the local police force that keeps the humans safe living around the magical folks. He has a real soft spot for Bryony. And then there's Kristoff. He owns the Demon's Den, a bar. Guess what he is. Yup, he's a demon and trouble. And he's got his eyes on Ivy. There's no sex and the only violence is the fight between Ivy and Kristoff at the Demon's Den.

Mr. Easley's Class has a New Book to Read!

Last school year Mr. Easley's class read The Westing Game. I read it with them and reviewed it here on my blog. I also put some of the kids' comments at the end of my review. 

This school year, the class is starting out with When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt. Mr. Easley has loaned me a copy to read along with the class. So, shortly, I'll be doing a review of the book and including something from the students. 

Rabbi Ben is Back!

A Tale of Two Rabbis
A Rabbi Ben Mystery, #3
Marvin J. Wolf
Atenna Books, September 7, 2017
Epub ARC, 416 Pages
Also available in Kindle, paperback
Genre(s) Mystery
Source Author

Other books in this series

For Whom the Shofar Blows #1, A Scribe Dies in Brooklyn #2
Synopsis:  

Rabbi Ben, hero of For Whom the Shofar Blows and A Scribe Dies in Brooklyn, is back. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—newly-engaged, Ben is in Pittsburgh for a medical procedure when he passes out in the street. He comes to in the home of Abby Silverblatt—the older sister of his ninth-grade girlfriend. Ben had saved her son from being attacked by school bullies. Invited to services at the Sanoker Shul, Abby’s tiny synagogue, Ben is asked to give a guest sermon—their Rabbi Geltkern, has disappeared. Abby’s wife Yolanda, a Pittsburgh cop, along with Abby and Stan Bernstein (who helps run the shul) ask Ben to look into Geltkern’s disappearance. Oh, and could he fill in for their rabbi while he’s at it? Ben just wants to take it easy, but how can he say no?

Sifting through the clues of Geltkern’s disappearance, Ben discovers unusual goings-on at the synagogue. Papers are missing, a mysterious motion-detection camera alerts someone on the outside when the building is occupied, and an intruder visits the premises. When Bernstein is found dead in his office, his files stripped bare, Ben knows he’s touched a nerve. The more Ben uncovers, the less it makes sense—until he begins to suspect that perhaps Geltkern isn’t really a rabbi. Using Talmudic logic, Ben pieces together the puzzle, and comes up with millions of reasons why someone would want him out of the picture. With the help of a bowling alley’s oversexed accountant looking to score a strike with our red-haired hero, Ben unravels an elaborate plot that goes back to Sanok, Poland on the eve of World War II, and beyond. It is a far, far better thing that he does, than he has ever done.


Author:  

Welcome to my page. For more information, visit www.marvinjwolf.com

I began my media career in the media as a U.S. Army combat photographer in Vietnam. Assigned to a public information section, it took a week escorting Nobel laureate John Steinbeck before I realized that writing was an important adjunct to my photo work. In Vietnam I had the great good fortune to meet and become friends with some of the world's greatest reporters and photographers, including Nobel laureate author John Steinbeck, Jonathan Fenby, Peter Arnett, Horst Faas, and many others. These men were generous with their time and wisdom and helped put me on the path to becoming a writer.

As I made the transition from magazine writing to longer forms, I was encouraged to specialize but found that I was interested in so many things that I found it impossible to choose only one. Instead I became a frequent collaborator, helping such notables as Native American leader Russell Means and former South Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky with their autobiographies. I also developed an appreciation for suspense and intrigue that inevitably led me to write about crime. About 2001 I took a segue into film, and had a short but interesting career writing for television. That helped me to create a character that I've put into the Rabbi Ben Mysteries. The first of these books, "For Whom The Shofar Blows," debuted on Amazon.com in November 2011. Thanks for visiting this page, and remember that habitual readers are smarter and have more well-rounded personalities.

My Disclaimer:  

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review



My Review: ✰✰✰✰✰
When I got an e-mail from Marvin Wolf asking about a quote for his second book's cover, I was excited, but I don't write those type of reviews that have the wonderful little pull-outs that make great cover blurbs. However, he had some even better news for me. He had a copy of his new book I could read if I didn't mind an epub format. I didn't care if it was written on toilet paper, as long as I got to read it! And he could send me a peek at the cover art in a little while, when it was finalized. Even better!

The cover art is wonderful! It packs the drama and color of the book itself, and I like that. A book and its cover should match. That poor woman's house exploding in the background certainly makes a great statement, as do the two "gentlemen" in the foreground. This time, Rabbi Ben has really gotten himself into a mess with folks who aren't playing around.

But let's back up here a moment. Remember that Ben AKA Moshe Benyamin Maimon AKA Mark T. Glass is in a medical trial for a life threatening condition he contracted back when his first wife was killed. He was only cut up, so he was a first responder during the incident. There are lots of nasty things that you can get when you have open wounds and are dealing with other people's open wounds. It's what keeps synagogues from hiring him as a rabbi. He feels he must be open and honest about it, and he is understanding but sad when they decide against taking the chance with their children.

Rabbi Ben not only solves the mystery for the shul, but he finds out things about himself, mysteries about his own past. He investigates himself the same way he does any other mystery. He unearths secrets of his past that answer questions for his future. And speaking of his future. We don't see too much of Miryam in this one. She is in Buenos Aires for most of the time and doesn't show up until the end.

This third book is chock full of the rich and sad history and culture of the Jews. Rabbi Ben shares a lot of it with us while working through his own background, while helping the small shul, and while visiting with new friends. He has such an analytical mind. And the things he knows about a person simply from the words they use. Makes me think of Professor Henry Higgins when he's telling people where they're from just by their accents. He's also a man who truly lives by his beliefs. When he can't live by them, he knows he will answer for his transgressions in heaven. It's not just a Sunday morning philosophy to him, it's the guiding principle of his life, his faith. As usual, Ben is busy making friends and enemies in this book. Make Ben's acquaintance and grab this one, hot off the press. It was just released on the 7th! I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a personality and charm. I'm sure you'll go back and read the first two when you're done with this one.



There's Magic in Her Touch

Shadow Sight
Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective
E.J. Stevens
Sacred Oaks Press, 2012
Ebook, Pages
Also available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genre(s) Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy
Source Author 

Other books in this series

Ghost Light #2, Burning Bright #3, Birthright #4, Hound's Bite #5

Synopsis:  

Winner of the PRG Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel and finalist for Best Urban Fantasy Series.

Welcome to Harborsmouth, where monsters walk the streets unseen by humans...except those with second sight, like Ivy Granger.

Some things are best left unseen.

Ivy Granger's second sight is finally giving her life purpose. Ivy and her best friend Jinx may not be raking in the dough, but their psychic detective agency pays the bills--most of the time. Their only worry is the boredom of a slow day and the occasional crazy client--until a demon walks through their door.

Demons are never a good sign.

A demon attorney representing the water fae? Stranger things have happened. And things are about to get very, very strange as a bloodthirsty nightmare hunts the city of Harborsmouth.

There's blood in the water.

Kelpies have a reputation for eating humans. Unfortunately, kelpies are the clients. When an Unseelie faerie this evil stalks the waterways of your city, you have to make hard choices.

The lesser of two evils.


Author:

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the IVY GRANGER, PSYCHIC DETECTIVE urban fantasy series, the SPIRIT GUIDE young adult series, the HUNTERS' GUILD urban fantasy series, and the WHITECHAPEL PARANORMAL SOCIETY Victorian Gothic horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, Raven Award finalist for Best Urban Fantasy, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

When E.J. isn't at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Connect with E.J. on Twitter @EJStevensAuthor. For more, including a list of her books, freebies, and upcoming events visit www.EJStevensAuthor.com.


My Disclaimer:  

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.


~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


My Review: ✰✰✰✰⭒
I've been looking forward to reading this book ever since I saw its cover. I'm a cover person and this one really appealed to me. I loved the choice of the old font for the title!

This was fast-paced, sometimes downright frantic! And that was so appropriate for this poor little town under attack! The world building and magic were really well done, too. Each species was introduced in turn along with its type of magic and its various allies and enemies, so it was relatively easy to keep track of who was who in the face of this war they suddenly faced. Some of it was traditional stuff, some not.

The characters were okay, but there could have been a bit more development done on them. There just wasn't a whole lot of time to get to know anyone in particular. And I was left with some questions, which I'm hoping will be answered in other books in the series. Like in book two! Why did Kaye redo the spell on Ivy? Who was she in the scheme of things?

There is lots of violence in this book since it's about the town being attacked by a very blood-thirsty lot. But the only one getting any sex is the succubus, so forget about that. Everyone looks the other way since she does it as an act of war during the battle.

Now, Ceffyl Dwr, the King of the Kelpies was abducted and held captive and tortured for most of the time. His life was dependent on his people's behavior, on their staying out of the fight, not helping the town. At one point, he makes a comment about Ivy's father. I'd like to know how he knew her father, or who he was. There wasn't very much time for Ceff and Ivy's relationship to develop, so I do hope they get more time in the next book. I'm looking forward to seeing that relationship happen! They are so cute together. Check out this first book and see if you don't have a new series to read!
The Spell of the Horse
Pam Billinge
Blackbird Digital Books, September 18, 2017
Ebook, 237 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Memoirs, Self-help, Reference for Subject
Source Author

Synopsis:  

The ability of the horse to sense emotion, energy, and spirit is way beyond what most of the human world realizes. A must-read for those wishing to understand the spiritual connection between horses and humans.

When Pam’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she began to notice the way her horse responded to her emotional turmoil. Thus began an exploration into the spiritual relationship between horses and humans and their infinite capacity to help us heal. Building on her remarkable discoveries, Pam began her pioneering work as a horse-led coach and therapist. By sharing her own path to redemption through personal tragedy, and other stories of healing inspired by the incredible interactions she has observed between horse and human, Pam puts forward her uplifting insights about the true nature of the horse, setting out some simple principles to help the reader transcend life's challenges.

Discover the lessons which horse behavior have taught the author about

* managing anxiety
* surviving bereavement
* letting go of fear and finding courage to live with joy and purpose
* listening to inner wisdom without overthinking dilemmas, allowing the right things to happen in life without force

This memoir will appeal to fans of The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, The Wild Other by Clover Stroud and H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Pam Billinge is a body psychotherapy professional and leadership coach at the top of her game in the UK field of horse-led therapy.


Author:  

The first horses which Pam became fascinated by were ridden by the mounted policemen she would see passing her childhood home in Liverpool on the way to supervise football matches. Little did she know, then, how these magnificent creatures would influence her adult life, not only supporting her through a number of personal tragedies but also leading to her pioneering work in horse-led psychotherapy and coaching.

In her first book, The Spell of the Horse, Pam shares her memoir and other stories inspired by the incredible interactions she has observed between horse and human. Thus she reveals the true nature of the horse whilst delivering some simple principles to help the reader transcend life’s challenges to live with purpose, self-belief, and joy.


My Disclaimer:  

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.

~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰✰
What an amazing book. It's more than a memoir. More than an accounting of what happened. It's more than a reference or self-help book. Pam shares the story of her own personal journey to find a deeper relationship with her horses and an understanding of how they truly interact with people.

What started on holiday in Andalusia ended up changing her life. After a week spent riding the hill country, her head and her heart were focused on one thing. Maintaining her connection that she had made that week with horses.

Through trial and error, talking with vets and other horse people, and listening to and watching her own horses, Ms. Billinge came to an understanding of how horses perceive people and how the two species interact.

The pace is easy going. Situations are explained and people are introduced in such a way that you have no problem understanding who they are. Her personal story is used appropriately. It makes you want to spend time with horses and it makes you want to be able to slow down, meditate. The text carries you through as she worked through her personal losses and the advances of her understanding of horses, their perceptions, and the best ways for people and horses to try to work together. Her story. Her clients' stories. Bringing it all full circle.

If you like horses. If you've ever wondered how they do therapy with horses. If you've ever wondered if there might be another way to get therapy other than what you've already tried. If you're just looking for a touching story to read. Pick this up today as it is released at your local bookstore. September 18, 2017 paperback & ebook