Friday, March 24, 2017

Outlander Book Series - My Reviews

I have already posted a review for The Outlander Book 1

and you can read it here:

Here are a few more thoughts of mine about the books. I hope you find my short reviews an enticing glimpse and encourages you to read them if you haven't already. I know some fellow readers who began the series and gave up after a few books. It is a long series, but I found the payoff worth every word. You may notice that toward the end I began listening to the books via Audible. The experience was better while reading, however, the audio books were done well. (I missed reviewing book 5, but it was as good as the others)

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, Book 2) (Paperback)

Great Character-Driven Story

After reading the first book we have come to expect a story with in-depth characters and meandering plot, and this book delivers. The pace is character driven and very creative. Excellent time and setting descriptions, and very enjoyable travels. Bravo, looking forward to next story in the series.

Voyager (Outlander, Book 3) (Paperback)

Captivating Suspense

The suspense continues with book three Voyager. The story goes from the 1700's to the 1960's and then back again. The reader experiences the troubles of Jamie and his tribulations after the battle of Culloden. Lots of pain and dark thoughts are touched, so not for the faint of heart. Also, the reader is plunged into the world of Claire and daughter Brianna in the 1960's. We see their relationship with each other and follow their search to find answers in the written history of Scotland.

It is a precarious situation, balancing the truth with what the heart yearns. The pace is often fast, yet the author is laborious with words, at time verbose, but I could not skip a sentence. Every character and new place is described in detail and lends to the reason I became so involved with the story of their lives.

This is not a quick read, nor a book to skip through parts because each detail quickly propels into a turn of events. Suspenseful, emotional and heart rendering situations throughout. The ending reveals clues to future scenarios and definitely hooks the reader into the next book, which I am currently reading. Well done and captivating characters.

Drums of Autumn (Outlander, Book 4) (Paperback)    

Unexpected situations - New friends & enemies

The book Drums Of Autumn opens in Charleston, June 1767 with scorching sun and new troubles to overcome. Claire and Jamie drench the reader with a wide-screen description of new places with their travels. The humid weather and torturous journey, plagued with escaped criminals, theft, and humbled introductions, lands them on the doorstep of Jamie's aunt from the McKenzie side. Then chapters bounce forward to the late 1960's for a bit, and the other story thread of Brianna and Roger, not quite the mirror image of her parents' love story, however similar in some ways. The influence her parents had on her relationship in itself could be a long discussion.

There is a large cast of characters, and the reader sees each of their growth as they plow their way through perilous situations with action. The characters old and new are larger than life. We meet Jamie's Aunt Jocasta and her glorious estate which also causes personal dilemma to our heroes when faced with the immorality of slave owning. They retreat to the mountains and stake a claim, and create their own homestead. Old friends come to visit. The reader is drawn to Jamie and Claire just as they are. Once again, Claire heals all and survives despite herself while Jamie shows his physical and moral strength and leadership qualities. . . Until he messes up big time. 

Finally, Jamie sees his illegitimate son again and spends some time comforting him after losing his mother. Also, he meets his daughter, Brianna. Even though they are miles apart and from different times, their shared sensibilities are evident. When Jamie assumes Roger a rapist due to a name mix-up, he condemns him to be a slave for the local natives.
From the midpoint of the book until the end terrible situations happen and the pace quickens. Each main character, Jamie, Brianna, and Roger, being strong willed and dynamic in their own right, bring lots of action packed adventure. Also some heroic acts by the other characters like Ian and John Grey. One of my favorite scenes took place at a Mohawk camp where they were holding a Jesuit. I would have liked to have read more story about Father Alexandre. He was an interesting new character; however his presence was short-lived, so there will never be more to learn about him. I also liked the scene when Brianna faced Bonnet and the scenes where John Grey gave her emotional support. It's refreshing to read about characters living by their high morals.

This story had many character arcs and some unexpected situations which kept me reading. The author does get a bit long-winded in some of the scenes; however, it's worth the time for the overall story. The ending was a trite too Pollyanna-ish. But after everything the cast went through, they deserved a happy moment. Very exciting book - I'd recommend it to anyone who likes action adventure and/or historical fiction. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander, Book 6) (Paperback)

Still Gives Thrills & develops the relationship

 This novel is exactly what fans expect from Diana Gabaldon's books. Well developed characters fill the pages with plenty of family drama, insightful and heartfelt moments, as well as developed settings based on intense historical research. While reading there is no skipping over scenes because the next exciting incident and plot twist can happen in a flash. This story reads authentic and tells of the challenges faced in the times while continuing our favorite couple's journey. Claire and Jamie Fraser's adventure of life in the wilderness (Fraser's Ridge) is filled with compassion and drenched in realism. Definitely an exciting book to read.

An Echo in the Bone: A Novel (Audible Audio Edition)

Intense Drama Continues - Book 7

More drama as Jamie and Claire try to get back to Scotland to retrieve his printing press. Detoured, they land in the middle of battles for the Revolution in New York, where Jamie is once again leading the soldiers but this time he has worries for the survival of the other side as well.

More characters are introduced along the way as well as more insight into William, Jamie's illegitimate son. We say good-bye to some of the favorite characters that we've grown fond of as well. Drastic measures are taken, as always in these books, and the ending left me wanting to reach out for the next book in line.

Great drama, though the writing is a bit verbose at times.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood: Outlander (Audible Audio Edition)

Best Saved for Last - Enthralling Last Look- Book 8

So this is the last book (so far as we know) of the Outlander series "In My Own Heart's Blood" which ended the family saga while the reader could still imagine more drama in their futures. I like when an author leaves an opening for our imaginations instead of leaving with an absolute ending. We know by the previous books that the Fraser family have a lot more to do and given the strong characters we've read so far, the reader can infer that more of life's drama awaits them with open arms.

The Outlander series is a great story line, each novel gave details of personal tragedy and happiness, and this last book was filled with the same: lots of plotting, strong dialogue, deep character development, and visual scenes that the reader can embrace. Of course, the scenes are packed with history as well. However, I didn't feel compelled to check them to know for sure accuracy. It doesn't matter because it's a fantasy story that will pick up the reader and carry one away to another world, just as we like our stories to do.

I recommend this book - if anyone gets stuck on a previous books, I implore you to keep reading.

The ending is worth the hours spent. Who knows, someday the author might pick up the story line again, it is a possibility, or we can just continue to let our imaginations go on with our own made-up scenes . . .

I Hope you enjoyed my reviews - You can find the books here: OUTLANDER

Keep Reading - Keep Writing! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review of A True Gothic Tale

Within The Glass Darkly: Volume 1 of the Glass Darkly Gothic Vampire Series
written by William Gareth Evans
This book is truly written with Gothic flare but can pass muster for today's discerning horror thriller reader. The atmosphere is an extra character, and the plot is well paced and challenges the nerves.
It has been awhile since a book in the Gothic genre has entertained me so well. The story rings true, all the expectations of an old-fashioned horror tale are met. Unlike the old books, this story held nothing back. The macabre was presented to the adult reader in an honest manner while adhering to the conventions of a real Gothic horror. Great scenes and descriptions of churches and Paris streets, developed characters with love interests and secrets, and let's not forget the heroes and villains who jump off the page.

Don't read this book in the dark.

I first read the short story Carmilla by J.S. Le Fanu since the author did get inspiration from that short story and used the character General Spielsdorf, as his protagonist, and the Karnstein brother and sister as antagonists. The author, William Garrett Evans, breathed new life into these characters and submerged them into a twisting plot that kept a good pace. The horrors were over the top, just the way we like our Gothic fiction.

I will begin the second book in the series, compelled to see what develops for General Theodore Spielsdorf and his new associates introduced at the end of the first tale. It suggests an even deeper, mystery with much more to come . . .
I'm looking forward to reading book two.
More about the author:

William Gareth Evans is from Wales and trained as a professional actor, he has worked in theater and television. He has written, produced and directed touring shows with his own company, and now is an associate director of a successful London based management for professional performers. 'Within The Glass Darkly' is his first novel. As a writer/lyricist, he has been involved in many musical theater productions, including two previous shows that were broadcast on BBC and independent radio in the UK.
'Dracula' was his first collaborative musical theatre project this century. The professionally produced CD is available from the Dracula musical website and other online stores. The professionally directed video of "Within My World" from the musical has been continuously broadcast on the O-Music channel during 2009. It is also available to watch via the internet.
William's company co-produced a feature length horror movie by an established and award winning screenwriter/director which was released in 2010. William is currently working on another novel and has just written new material for the complete Dracula musical recording.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Quick Review- Letters To The Damned by Austin Crawley

Letters To The Damned by Austin Crawley

This book is an old fashioned creepy tale that will immerse you into the world of an old village and pumps the imagination with pictures that move, disappearing sounds, magic ceremonies and vague threats by bulls.

The author brings dimension to the character Cris Lopez, not the usual type to be venturing into an English village alone on vacation. There's charm in the details of the village, and definitely loads the atmosphere with mystique.

The story has an authentic Gothic feel to it for those who like the old fashioned tales. It doesn't have a fast pace but it didn't lag either.

A few elements in the story were confusing, and maybe they were meant to remain that way, or maybe a follow up book - perhaps. In my opinion, there were some chances missed in the story to build up the suspense. The characters' emotions could have been shown more intensely, and then this would have been a terrifying tale. At times the small everyday minutia became a little redundant and took the focus away from the protagonists emotional pull, but not long enough for me to give up on the story. I wanted to finish the book and find out how it fleshed out.

Over all, a good read. If you enjoy pondering what lies in the mist, and don't worry about perfection with an author, then this story is for you. I think this author is someone to watch for future books.

Keep reading - Keep writing!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mentalhealth, Physical Health and Feeding Your Body Well in 2017

Pictures by

Another year begins and we Indie Authors are making plans for our writing projects.
We map out our weeks and days scheduling: 
  • writing hours, 
  • plotting hours, 
  • editing hours, 
  • marketing hours,
  • Pictures by
  • reading hours and more . . . 
All the work needs to be accomplished between our other jobs. Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves.

When creating your 2017 schedule 
leave relaxation time for yourself. We don't want to burn out. 

More than ever, with demands and stress coming at us simultaneously, we need to take care of our whole being.

Advice from pros:


#1 Take care of your mental health  first

  • Video: via   Hannah is Keeping it real



#2 Take care of your physical health


     #3 Feed your body well by eating healthy

    • 3
    Blakeney loves discovering the freshest seasonal produce at farmer's markets. (Courtesy of Veritas Creative)
    Blakeney encourages people to discover the freshest seasonal produce at farmer's markets.
     (Courtesy of Veritas Creative)

    Wishing you a successful, healthy, happy and prosperous year.



    Keep Reading - Keep Writing! 

    Healthy New Year's Resolution Recipes

    by  Tastemade


    Watch them all Here:

    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    Outlander Book Review

    My Review of 'Outlander'

    (Book One)

    This story swept me right along with the characters, across the Highland countryside, while plunging them into the deepest core of degradation, then lifting them to the ecstasy of humanity—all in one book. This volume is a cross between historical fiction, thriller adventure, and romantic tragedy. The reader will discover more about the Scottish clans and truly feel as if sitting beside them. Although this is the first book by Diana Gabaldon in this series, the author managed to deliver a full and hearty plot, wonderfully described characters each with their own unique strong voice, and many swings up and down, pacing an epic adventure. The protagonists, Claire and Jamie, are bigger than life. I am adding the next book in the series to my must read list. I highly recommend this novel—great reading!

    Synopsis for book one:

    Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another... In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

    Currently reading book three. . .

    Although a bit late to the bookshelf, this historical, fantasy series grabbed my imagination. No - I haven't watched the TV series, and don't plan to until I've read all the books in the series. There are eight to the series so lots more to read. The historical relevance and flavor is supremely done.

    Anyone interested in the historical fiction genre should check these great stories out if you haven't already.

    Check out more about the books here:
     Outlander (8 Book Series)

    Friday, April 1, 2016

    The Hitler Deception: A Tracie Tanner Thriller (Tracie Tanner Thrillers Book 4)

    by Allan Leverone

    Another exciting Tracie Tanner thriller, where the plot keeps rolling into another dimension of impossible, keeping the strong heroine, Tracie Tanner CIA secret operative, working through dilemmas, which she must overcome to survive. She is quick to assess her surroundings and the situations she finds herself in by her resourcefulness. The other characters in the story also have deep roots and feel real, giving the book great dimension.

    As always dealing with her boss, CIA Aaron Stallings is problematic. Worse, her new assignment in Wuppertal, West Germany has pitfalls from the start. She is thrown into a situation where Intel is sketchy, there’s no time for even minimal planning, and reconnaissance is nonexistent. Tanner relies on her instincts to get the job done, but with her skills, that’s enough.

    Her new partner, Matthias Gruber, is an unknown in the deal, but they decide to work together, both dedicated to get the job done**spoiler alert**—Eliminate Hitler.

    Even more surprises arise, and the mission keeps morphing into something new to overcome, right until the very end.

    It is evident that the author researched which adds to the validity. The outrageous claims seem imaginable, once the story unfolds. The tension is well paced throughout and hooks along the way, keeping the reader riveted to the pages. There are many punches enacted in these action scenes, but still with a reverence for saving innocent lives whenever possible, which I applaud. 

    I recommend this story for those who enjoy action-packed thrillers.


    Follow Allan Leverone's other work as well . . . Here  on his Amazon Page

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    Series Review of Beck Casey Thrillers: Fallout, Final Epidemic and more-by author Earl Merkel

    Wonder what makes a series successful?

    Me too, so I read as many series as possible. Here's a great political spy series - Beck Casey Thrillers!

    Fans of the TV show 24  you'll love Beck Casey! 

    Check out my review and visit Amazon if you think you'll enjoy the thrills too.

    Fallout (A Beck Casey Thriller)

    Kindle Edition
    by Earl Merkel (Author)

    Always on the move. . .

    Another great Beck Casey story that pivots in various directions, until multiple strings meet and intertwine for an explosive conclusion. Followers of the series would expect nothing less. The story melds many political threads, foes and allies. The reader will get a close look at the threats and motivations of the characters as the plot pushes forward. Never a dull moment, from assassinations, buildings blown up, to computer viral threats. Even though a genre spy story, there are some unique characters in this book, using friends to fill in the ranks needed to pull off this complex story; like mine, a bomb tech, shows up in chapter 63! The plot uses all forces, from CIA, FBI, Mossad, MI6 and more . . . Definitely an insane political ride with surprises at every step. A great political thriller for the serious reader.

    Thursday, May 14, 2015

    Book Review of Delirium by J. F. Penn

    Delirium, London Psychic #2

    A Great Story - A Great Series!

    Delirium (London Psychic Book 2) (Kindle Edition)

    Amazing intrigue!

    The reader is immediately at the edge of their seat in the opening scene, where we witness Dr. Christian Monro's physical and emotional trauma while being murdered. We are brought into the death scene, each agonizing step of the way. The detail and the pace are excellent.

    The suspense is high voltage.

    The protagonist Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke once again is challenged with high stakes. As in the first book of the series, Jamie is going through hell emotionally after the loss of her child, but she is also engaged in the case and wants to understand the true crime. The heroine strives to remain objective while gathering evidence, hoping to see the truth. Along the way many twists in the case elude her, and attempt to veer her from the true crime. She follows the leads and takes the reader down a road of unexpected horrors. Jamie is not faint of heart, but a woman who makes the tough decisions; she is the protector of her co-workers and friends. There is hope - as she is faced with danger even in her most fragile hours, yet somehow finds the strength to prevail.

    The subject matter of this novel immediately jolts interest -
    the history of mental illness treatment and the reminder of abuse done to the mentally ill. This is a topic I too have strong feelings about, and so this story truly hit my heartstrings. The research was done well, as to be expected by this author who always delivers well developed background.

    This story is not for those wanting a light read,
    because the reader will be left with some concepts to think about - maybe even choices on how to view others who may not be as fortunate as most. In this world it is too easy to forget about those who suffer with mental illness. Society has swept them from public view, but we know in our heart that more needs to be addressed.

    I thank the author, Joanna Penn for writing this riveting story and bringing this topic to the forefront.

    To date this is my favorite of J.F.Penn's books. I truly enjoy reading about Jamie, and this is a great series.

     Delirium is for anyone who enjoys detective horror thrillers, and is a definite must read.

    If you think you like this kind of book, and who wouldn't, check out more of J. F. Penn's work at:

    Keep reading - Keeep writing!

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015

    Book Review of Catacomb by Jeremy Bates

    New Book - A Thriller Loaded with Suspense

    What can be scarier than wandering the catacombs under Paris in darkness? You will discover how horrific it can be below the city. The story plunges you underground with the four explorers, as they journey through the catacombs, pursuing a quest inspired by a mysterious video Pascal had found during a previous trip below.
    Pascal and Daniele are both experienced cataphiles—the colloquial term for underground urban explorers of the catacombs. They guide Rob and Will through some treacherous terrain and tight conditions. The setting is described fully, and you will feel as if you are there in the tunnels as well, inching through every fissure crack. You want suspense and horror—look no further. The surprise will be not only whom they meet below, but also the shadows they each carry within themselves. As they trek, the characters naturally unfold their own stories.

    The bizarre and shocking encounters underground trigger their reveries and innermost thoughts. The reader has a front row seat and glimpses into the past of Will, the main protagonist, as he reveals his nightmare while trying to come to terms with his own ghosts. The author does this with a smooth and compassionate brush.

    This brings us right back to their horrendous situation that they are dealing with. We travel beside them, sharing their troubles; the deeper into the tunnels and the story, the bigger the shock becomes. Twists and turns are found not only through the catacombs, but the with each action decision the characters opt as well.

    No more details told. I do not want to give anything away. Nevertheless, I have to disclose that I never expected the end as it unfolded. Not a fairytale ending but it is very much acceptable. Well done—suspenseful to the end!

    This is book two in the series "A World's Scariest Places". The first “Suicide Forest” was also a great suspense thriller. For both of these stories, the series name is not enough to prepare you for what you will experience as a reader. You will learn new things about our world, and survive through our worst fears as well.

    I have read both books in the series so far, and both are intense. These books have become my favorites, a modern writer surpassing King and Koontz. Jeremy Bates not only delivers maximum suspense and horror, but you are right there with the characters. The style of writing is honest, vivid, compelling and never a dull moment.

    There will be no skipping parts—and no putting this book down until it has finished. I recommend this book.

    Sunday, January 25, 2015

    Write Each Day - Small Stones

    Writing a daily stone...
    Have you heard of it?

    It's the process of taking time each day to appreciate life's small things, and see how they interact inthe world, and then write the thought down. It's a good way to free write, a good practice to let your mind free to just write.

    My Stone January 25, 2015


    Work of letters forming on the page-
    The strokes that are made by exerting pressure,
    And measuring by flightful thoughts.

    Words blow in the wind-
    And the lucky people catch the right words,
    The unlucky speak the wrong ones.

    But words on the page can be crossed out,
    Rearranged or blown up-
    Rewritten again in new context and light.

    The hand will get weary-
    Get used up and tired from the relentless strokes,
    Shaking as fervent thoughts flow from pen to page.

    But the words that are formed-
    They can live forever if someone chooses
    To allow them to remain fruitful.

    Write the words - share the words.

    Keep reading - Keep writing!

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    4 Things To Help Make A Happy Thanksgiving

    Four things to remember as you hustle to get their work finished and travel to family and friends.

    #1 Once you're out the door - forget about it! 

    Enjoy your time off, and appreciate the time away from work. Not everyone gets the holiday time off to spend with their families. I'm not just talking about the stores gearing up to make money - I mean the police departments, nurses, emergency crews and many more public servants - they all work holidays, too. I thank them all for their dedication. So if you have the time off be thankful.

    #2 Travel safely and be courteous.

    The anxiety is high as people swarm to the airports, trains or pile onto the highway. Traffic is congested more so during this holiday than any other in the USA - so take care, especially if the weather interferes with the road conditions. It only takes a minute to smile at another person and that can make a better day for everyone around you.

    #3 Keep the past in the past - Open the door to a new memory.

    Being with family can be a nice time, sharing happy memories - but it can also be filled with anxiety. When the door opens and we step into old familiar grounds, sometimes the past comes to life again. 

    Remember who you are now and don't relive any past bad episodes. Forget about it! Let yourself be happy and remind yourself that everyone grows - and most of us become better people. Drudging up the past bad memories does no one any favors.

    #4 Since it is Thanksgiving, do the obvious - count your blessings.
    cornucopia by George Grimm Howell

    Give yourself a break and don't go down the road of I should of - 
    you should of .... 

    Instead take a look at your life and be happy for what you have going for yourself - not just material stuff here folks. 

    For starters, you're alive. If you are reading this post - you can read! Believe it or not, there are still many people in the world who do not, so you are fortunate.

    If you have family around, again you have opportunities that many lonely people do not have... 

    If you don't have a close family, go out and make one. Find people who you enjoy being with and who you can talk with - because that's what a family is all about - complete acceptance, no matter what.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Keep reading - Keep writing!

    Friday, October 31, 2014

    Happy Halloween- Free Haunting short story

    It's that time of year -

    when we all let ourselves become whoever or whatever we want to be, ghosts, witches any kind of monster...

    So have a good time with your friends- join a seance or visit a cemetery today.

    Have a fun day and night with your mayhem but don't forget to be safe... accidents happen, just ask the ghost of Ringo Kelly.

    Once again I am giving away
    a FREE eBook copy of my short story about the Hoosac Tunnel- one of the most haunted places in New England.

    Available until November 3rd a FREE short story ...
    about a possible reason that the REAL LIFE Ringo Kelly was murdered in the Bloody Pit. Check it out here on Amazon...

    MURDER IN THE BLOODY PIT updated 2014

    A new trailer...

    The old trailer...

    For more information about the Hoosac Tunnel - check out a previous post here

    Lots more details on the history and importance of the Hoosac Tunnel and places to seek out more info on the Bloody Pit!

    More thrills and chills for the kids....

    Listen for Free - The Graveyard Book written and read by Neil Gaiman (this links to chapter one - others also available on the you tube channel)

    5 Parenting tricks to keep Halloween fun