Tag Archives: 5/5

Dog Bone Soup – on sale for 99c

No, I haven’t suddenly taken up butchering! Dog Bone Soup, by Bette A. Stevens, is one of the best historical novels I’ve ever read. I gave it 5/5 stars when I first reviewed it, and I still give it 5/5. Here’s a short excerpt from Bette’s blog:

“BOYS, GET IN HERE. Hurry up!”

We set the groceries on the table and ran in to see what Mum was so worked up about.

“President Kennedy’s body’s back in Washington. Look, they’re switching from the Washington to that Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas. The world’s at a standstill and no wonder. I can’t believe that someone’s gone and killed the President…Sit down. Watch.”

“What’s for dinner?” I asked when I handed her the change.

“Good. We have more than a dollar left for the week.”

“What about dinner, Mum?”

“I’ll fix us some supper, later. We had plenty of hotcakes to tide us over this morning,” Mum sat there, captivated by the news.

Coverage went on all day and long into the night. Willie and I went out to cut and split fire wood for the week. Then we grabbed our fishing poles and ran down to the brook. I figured if we caught something, we could have a nice fry for supper, even if I had to fix it myself.

Willie peeled and cut potatoes while I figured out how to mix flour and cornmeal and get the fish going. I set the fish on the stove to keep warm while I fried up the potatoes.

We never did get Mum away from the darned TV.

https://4writersandreaders.com/2022/11/22/dog-bone-soup-99%c2%a2-thru-november-27th-holiday-sale-remembering-thanksgiving-1963-excerpt/comment-page-1/#comment-66766

If you prefer a trailer, here’s a short, two minute video to watch:

Or go to Bette’s blog and check out the entire post here.

Whatever you do, I strongly suggest grabbing a copy of the book while it’s on sale. 😉

You’re welcome,
Meeks


What’s the good of ideals if you don’t live them?

To me, being a good person requires that you live by your ideals. But what if your ideals require that you heal the dead, even though everyone else thinks necromancy is evil?

That conflict between personal integrity and societal mores is one of the central themes of the Necromancer’s Daughter, the new book by my good friend D.Wallace Peach:

“A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.”

To me, the key phrase is ‘heal death’. Not ‘raise an army of zombies’ or ‘use necromancy to gain personal power’ but to heal. And that raises the question of motivation, another key theme in the story. This is the review I left on Amazon:

‘Aster is born dead and is brought to life by Barus, a necromancer. Not exactly what you would call normal people, and yet…two more loving people would be hard to find. And /that/ begs all sorts of questions about good and evil, love and hate, integrity and lies.
How can giving life be evil when taking it is not?
How can kindness be evil when cruelty is not?
How can living according to one’s beliefs be evil when deception is not?
These are vital questions, and give The Necromancer’s Daughter a depth that I absolutely loved. Brilliant story masterfully told.
Very highly recommended.

Both Barus and Aster are forced to flee in separate directions as a powerful, angry man uses his position to hunt them down. The reason? Revenge. He wanted his young son raised from the dead, but the child’s injuries were too severe. Had he been brought back to life, he would not have been able to stay alive. Not all deaths can be healed.

Many years later, that man’s younger son, Joreh, is caught in a conflict between Aster’s goodness and the repugnance he was taught to feel for necromancy, and necromancers. Another choice, but this time between what Joreh sees with his own eyes and what he has been taught to believe.

To get an insight into the author’s own motivation, I asked Diana whether these themes evolved during the writing of the book or were there right from the start. This is what she said:

Thanks so much, Andrea, for the beautiful review and the question. I’d say you hit the themes of the book on the head. What more can an author hope for?

I’m an outliner, so the theme of a book usually presents itself before I start writing. It bubbles up as I shape my characters and start plotting the sequence of the action.

I often find my inspiration in real life. We live in an opinionated world, where assumptions about whole groups of people are salted with cruel and dangerous righteousness. It’s easy to get sucked into battlelines, and I’m no saint, that’s for sure. In The Necromancer’s Daughter, I wanted to challenge those kinds of harmful preconceptions.

To that end, I created a character who, in common fantasy fiction, is considered pure evil, someone who is feared and ungodly, physically hideous and possessive of dark power. I wanted to challenge readers to discover the exact opposite of the typical expectation. Barus and Aster are truly good human beings who, by healing death, are risking their lives to save others.

At the same time, I wanted to create “good guys” who, through their narrow and rigid vision of the world, end up committing and justifying acts of evil. In other words, I tried to flip all assumptions on their heads!

In a way, young Joreh Graeger is the most important character in the book. He’s the one who questions the truth of his biases. He gets to know Aster as an individual, and goes through the tough process of changing his mind when his assumptions no longer apply. He learns that what is good and evil isn’t defined by power or doctrine or wealth or what he was taught as a child, but by love, kind intentions, and a desire to do no harm.

Thanks again for having me over to your blog today. You’re the best!

Ah, Diana, this sentence resonates so much! ‘He [Joreh] learns that what is good and evil isn’t defined by power or doctrine or wealth or what he was taught as a child, but by love, kind intentions, and a desire to do no harm.’ In this age of polarized battle lines, we could all do with some Asters in our lives.

I honestly can’t recommend The Necromancer’s Daughter more. If you haven’t started reading this story already, please go to one of the following sites and download your copy today. You’ll thank me. And you’re welcome. 😀

Amazon US, UK, CA, AU, IN

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple

And just in case you’ve never read any of Diana’s books before, here’s a little bit about her:

A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.

In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography. Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

One of the things I love most about the internet and blogging is the ability to make friends with people on the other side of the world. Diana is one such friend. Her blog has attracted a community of writers and readers, many of whom I also call friend. I hope to see you there too. 🙂

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach

I’ll finish this post with the beautiful video trailer Diana created for the book:

cheers,
Meeks


‘Hope’ – by Terry Tyler

I’m a voracious reader so there are times when the pickings are lean. And then there are times when I discover one stunning, brilliant book after the other. This is one of those times and the first book I want to talk about is ‘Hope’.

This is the review I just left on amazon.com:

‘Most of us just want to live our lives, right? The world can be harsh but so long as we can kick back and relax with friends, get paid enough to put a roof over our heads and feel safe, we’ll be okay. Right?

That’s how ‘Hope’ begins. Three ordinary people – Lita, Kendall and Nick -sharing a flat and pretty much living the life most of us would recognize today. All three have jobs, but none of the jobs pay enough for them to live alone. Kendall works for Zest, a subsidiary of one of the largest corporations in the world. Lita and Nick are online influencers who earn enough from advertising to pay their way.
And then Kendall loses her job because she’s a size 16 and being too plump is not a good look for a company that sells health food.

The downward spiral that begins with Kendal quickly accelerates until suddenly the three flatmates can no longer afford the rent. Losing their little home is traumatic, but worse is to come – couch surfing followed by homeless shelters followed by a night in a church. And suddenly, the only option left to move to one of the Hope Villages set up by the state, and run by the same corporation that seems to run everything else in the UK.

I’ll be honest, at about this point, my sense of impending doom was so visceral I almost put the Kindle down. This is horror of a very plausible kind as the author weaves the story in such a realistic way that we can all see ourselves, or someone we know, in the plight of the characters. I’m ‘safe’, but someone I went to school with is now living in a boarding house, an older woman on her own with few resources – a statistic.

I can’t tell you what happens to Lita, Kendall and Nick, but I will say that there is some real hope as they begin to fight back against the system.

Would I recommend ‘Hope’ to other readers? You bet. With bells on. Terry Tyler’s ‘Hope’ may be one of the scariest books I’ve ever read, but it’s also one of the BEST books I’ve ever read. It challenges my mind and my emotions, stripping away the comfortable complacency that cocoons me from the real world. I may just want to live my life, but sometimes that life has to be earned. Sometimes we have to say ‘no’ to a system that treats people like animals that can be…culled.

Our world has not yet devolved into the nightmare of Terry Tyler’s Hope, but it’s heading in that direction. That is what’s so scary. ‘Hope’ is a story that should be read by every person who wants to keep kicking back with friends and feeling safe.’

‘Hope’ costs a ridiculous 70c. It was the best 70c I’ve ever spent. My thanks to D.Wallace Peach for introducing me to this fabulous story.

cheers,
Meeks


Oh my god….’Don’t Look Up’

The Offspring gave me a month’s subscription to Netflix for my birthday. [Don’t ask] The first thing I watched was a MAGNIFICENT movie called ‘Don’t Look Up’. It’s a movie about the end of the world, and I wish I could make everyone watch it.

If you get the chance, please watch this movie. It’s a mirror that shows how grotesque our world has become.

cheers,
Meeks


The Princess of Shadow – a review

Quite by accident, I’ve discovered a new favourite author – Colin Alexander. The Princess of Shadow is the second book of his that I’ve read, and this one really hit the spot. Most definitely 5 stars. 🙂

My Amazon review won’t hit for a while, but this is what I wrote:

I prefer scifi to fantasy but ‘The Princess of Shadows’ left me gobsmacked at the depth and richness of the story. It literally has everything – medieval style politics and warfare, subtle social commentary, a nod to Queen Elizabeth the 1st, the so-called Virgin Queen, a nuanced perspective on human nature, characters that make you want to see what they do next, a fabulous plot and, last but not least, an intriguing world that’s like nothing I’ve come across before.

I suspect there’s a strong scifi element in the creation myths of this world that is yet to be revealed, and I can hardly wait to discover what it is.

In a nutshell, The Princess of Shadows has that something ‘more’ that I look for in every work of fiction. Much of the time, I’m disappointed. This time, I was gifted with much, much more than I expected.

Very highly recommended.

It’s New Year’s Eve morning here so I feel justified in wishing you all a very Happy New Year. 20 and 21 were pure shyte, but 22 may usher in a new beginning for us all.

cheers
Meeks


Salt – a review

Apologies for the cryptic title but the fantasy novel I just reviewed is called just that – salt. Much like Dune and Wool, Salt [the mineral] is the backbone of its world:

Salt (The Barbarians Book 1) by [E.J. Lowell, Nathan Lowell]

I gave Salt 5/5 stars, and this is the review I left for it on Amazon.com:

I stumbled onto Salt and fell in love.

The story alternates between two, very different protagonists – Tanan, the second son of the King, and Sukhetai, the first son of the Warchief of a powerful nomadic tribe.

Tanan is thoughtful and smart. Sukhetai is impulsive and quick to anger. They could not be any more different, yet right from the start, their destinies slowly intertwine, helped along by a couple of old women who speak to the grass.

One of the most interesting fantasy elements in the story is the idea of the Change, and that some women who have gone through the Change come into an earth-based kind of power. This power allows them to ‘ride the wind’ on the wings of their special bird-familiars, or to get a feel for things far away by listening to the grass. This special power gives women a stronger position in society than is normally the case in many fantasy settings.

Another thing that really impressed me was the authors’ courage in giving the characters names that are hard to pronounce. Some roll off the tongue while others make you stumble, yet the very otherness reinforces the fact that ‘we’re not in Kanvas any more’. I love that.

On a technical level the story is well-written and well edited. Quite frankly, it was a joy to read. Very highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Salt-Barbarians-Book-J-Lowell-ebook/dp/B09C6PZS3J/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Salt&qid=1638758411&s=digital-text&sr=1-3

I’d never heard of the authors; I just liked the look of the cover and the blurb so I thought I’d take a chance. Sometimes you really do get lucky. 🙂

Have a great day everyone and stay well.
Meeks


Boychik – a review

I’ve loved Laurie Boris’ work since I read her novel – Drawing Breath – back in Indies Unlimited days. That book has remained my favourite until now. Boychik has the same immediacy, the same heart as Drawing Breath, and I absolutely loved it. This is the review I just left on amazon.com:

It’s hard to define what makes Boychik so wonderful because the story has it all – great characters, a great narrative and a sense of time and place like no other. For a couple of delightful days, It transported me to Prohibition New York and beguiled me with the sights and sounds and /smells/ of that era.

I don’t actually know what ‘lox’ is, but I love pickles so I could almost taste the food being made, and eaten, in the Deli. Most of all though, I experienced all of these almost alien sensations through the eyes of two young people on the cusp of growing up. And falling in love.

Yes, there is a thread of romance running through the story, but mostly it’s about love and tradition and old expectations clashing with the culture of a new country. In a strange sort of way, Boychik made me nostalgic for a time and place I’ve never known. It made me /care/.

In my not so humble opinion, Boychik really does have it all, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Read it. You’re welcome. 🙂

The only thing that makes me sad is that the story is over. But it’s a good sad. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


The Ferryman & the Sea Witch – a review

I just submitted this review on Amazon:

The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by [D. Wallace Peach]

The Merrow are creatures of the sea – sirens or mermaids if you will – but like humans, they like making bargains. Unlike humans, they believe in keeping them.

At the start of the story, it seems as if the Sea Witch, the ruler of the Merrow, is the villain of the piece. She struck a bargain with the Ferryman, and the two countries on either side of the ocean trench that is home to the Merrow. According to that bargain, she will allow the Ferryman to sail his ship across the trench safely, but only if he sacrifices a human life before each crossing.

Monstrous and cruel. There is no other way of looking at that bargain, yet the machinations of the two rulers on either side of the trench are just as monstrous and cruel. But they only keep their promises under duress. And they test the boundaries to see how much they can get away with.

Honestly, by the climax of the story you can’t help wondering who are the real monsters – the merrow or the humans.

Cast against this dark background are three and a half very likeable characters – Callum the Ferryman, Daylin his estranged wife, Airlee their daughter, and Grier, a bit of a rogue who kind of steals your heart even though he’s only the half character. I can’t say more without giving the story away, but I can say that it is extremely well written, fast paced yet quite beautiful, and the characters literally jump off the page at you.

From start to finish, ‘The Ferryman and the Sea Witch’ is a compelling read that will stay with you long after The End. A fantasy for the thinking woman, or man. Very highly recommended.

I’m sure no one will be surprised when I say I gave The Ferryman 5/5 stars. If you love rich, finely woven fantasy then you really must give the Ferryman a read. I promise you won’t be disappointed. 🙂

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ferryman-Sea-Witch-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B095J5X8DW/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Ferryman+and+the+Sea+Witch&qid=1624100413&sr=8-1

Oh, and in case anyone wonders, I provide the entire link so you can be sure of where you’re being sent before you get there. I know I’m paranoid, but with billions of passwords hacked recently, you really can’t be too careful.

Have a wonderful weekend,

-hugs-
Meeks


And then there were two…

This has never happened to me before: two reviews in the one day, the first in the US, the second in the UK. I’m a little stunned, but also incredibly happy. 🙂

Nabatea 5/5

This last book in the series has more unexpected plot twists, turns and surprises than an aristocrat’s hedge maze / labyrinth.
Whatever you thought you knew from the first two books, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

I think the thing that has given me the greatest joy is that both reviews ‘got it’ in different ways.

As a Resident of Innerscape, Miira is like a digital ghost; she can communicate with the real world, but she can no longer touch it. Yet in Nabatea she has to step up and become the hero, despite her fears and lack of power. So I gave her the courage and persistence to use what she did have. I guess I wanted to show that we don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzneger in order to be heroic. 🙂

And the series as a whole? I didn’t decide to make each book different. It just happened that way, possibly because I need to explore new challenges with each new book. But boy am I thrilled that the reviewer noticed!

This truly has been a red letter day, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet!

To all those who downloaded my books. Thank you.
To all those who read my books. I love you.
To those who made the time to leave a review, you are my heroes.

much love,
Meeks


A flurry of reviews

I don’t write a lot of reviews, but every now and then, a cluster of books come along that have something about them that really appeals to me. This next lot cleaned out my TBR list and triggered my desperate plea for more reading material. 🙂

Reviews on Amazon

The first review is for ‘Allies and Spies‘, book 2 of the Unravelling the Veil series, by D. Wallace Peach :

5/5 No middle book sag here!

After falling in love with the first book of the series, Liars and Thieves, I was a little apprehensive about whether the second book could live up to the first. Second books are a bit like the ‘middle child’ of a family. You get all the surprises with the first one so what’s left for the second?

I needn’t have worried. 😀 Allies and Spies sees the story grow up and out, both in terms of the plot and the characters.

I really didn’t like Alue very much in Liars and Thieves, but she really comes into her own in book 2. I can’t tell you what she does, but she saves both Naj and Tallin from a very nasty death. More importantly, she does so by coming into her strength. She’s always been brave, but there’s a difference between physical courage and the courage needed to overcome your own shortcomings. Or even to recognize them. Yet that is precisely what all three of the main characters must do if they are ever to solve the mystery of the disappearances that have claimed so many lives.

That said, I have a secret fondness for tortured characters and in book 2, Naj suffers. That suffering serves to catapult him into a greater understanding of his world and himself, but that’s not much consolation on a personal level. I truly feel for Naj. 😦

And finally, Tallin. In many ways, Tallin the Changeling was my favourite right from the start. There’s something about his easy going nature that is very appealing. His alter ego Slick seems to encapsulate his personality perfectly – cute, cuddly, cunning, and naughty. But Tallin has demons of his own, and in book 2 he faces at least some of them.

I wish I could tell you about the plot, but if I do I’ll spoil it for everyone. Let’s just say that some things become clearer, but the forces behind the disappearances are still shrouded in impossibilities.

I can tell you about the writing though. Peach makes writing on multiple levels look easy. The prose is lyrical, the dialogue is always just right and the pace is perfect. No typos, no plot holes, no ‘what the?’ moments. Definitely no saggy middles! The story. Just. Flows. And takes us with it.

This series is character driven fantasy of the highest quality, and I recommend it to everyone, even those who don’t normally read fantasy. I’d give it 6 stars if I could.

The second review is for Tales from the Annexe, by Audrey Driscoll.

5/5 Dipping a toe into the world of Herbert West

I absolutely adored the Herbert West series and really enjoyed revisiting the world in which the series is set. Of the new stories, the one that will probably stick in my mind the longest, and give me nightmares, is The Ice Cream Truck from Hell. I will never think of Mr Whippy the same way again. lol

Beautifully written horror-ish short stories that all lovers of good writing will enjoy.

Review no. 3 is for ‘Serang‘, by C.S. Boyack.

5/5 Coming of Age in a time of chaos

Serang bears a slight similarity to the Karate Kid story, but only because the main character is young and learns martial arts. Beyond that, Serang is a lovely, unique story about a young girl who is given to the Temple to be raised by monks. These monks are both male and female, and there is no qualitative difference between them. All monks learn martial arts. Which style of martial art they learn depends upon their individual personalities – i.e. what suits each monk the best.

When the temple is destroyed, Serang is saved by one of the wandering monks who also survived the carnage. He continues Serang’s education in martial arts and living off the land. There are exciting fight scenes, but they are not the main focus of the story. Serang’s development and growth are the drivers, and I have to say that I loved the story from start to finish.

I would recommend Serang to anyone who loves reading about ‘becoming’ and the triumph of the human spirit.

And there you have it, three very different authors, genres and stories, but I enjoyed every single one.

Have a great Sunday [in Australia] or Saturday [everywhere else]!

cheers
Meeks


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