Review of Shadow of Deceit by Mal Olsen

CoverShadow of Deceit

Author:   Mal Olsen

Publisher:  Wild Rose Press

Availability:  Amazon

Author’s Website:  Mal Olsen

Overall Rating:  3.25 out of 5 Stars

Overall Summary

Shadow of Deceit weaves a tale of intrigue, romance, and humor.  The heroine, a feisty red-headed Shannon Riedel starts things off with a bang when she faces down a gunman in her office- one claiming that her late husband swindled him.  Enter from stage right the dashing, and oh so alpha male Tony Crazaniak, the FBI agent in hot pursuit of the criminal, and other nefarious criminals, and sparks, both sexual and professional begin to fly.

From there on it’s a fast-paced game of cat and mouse where no one is above a second look, and both Shannon and Tony have to decide whether the passion burning between them is enough to overlook past hurt for a new beginning.

Maturity

Warning— Rant Ahead.  If you’re offended by what I say, think carefully as to the reason why.

So I wanted to write about something that has been bothering me quite a bit lately.  Now I know I shouldn’t allow myself to become irritated by what people do on social media, and I firmly believe in the right to say anything and to face the consequences of one’s words, but this is getting downright ridiculous.

bad-manI’m talking about the prevalent lack of maturity, mostly from adults.  People who should know better, who are routinely chiding the youngsters to behave better, to be better, to make the world a better place.

And you know what?  For the most part, EVERY single teenager or young person I have come across in the last month has had their head on right.  They are making themselves better, choosing their words (somewhat) carefully, and they are striving to make the world a better place.

Five Questions for Darlene Panzera

Darlene PanzeraHi Everyone-  I’m happy to welcome Darlene Panzera – author of The Cupcake Diaries Series to Emerald Musings.  She was kind enough to sit down with me for a conversation while she’s on her Tasty Book Tour for her latest book – The Cupcake Diaries: Sprinkled With Kisses.  So without any further delay- here we go!

1- Quite a few of your stories have a light-hearted and friendly romantic feel to them– a marked difference from many of today’s popular romance novels. Was going another direction with the feel of the story intentional? Or did it just happen that way?

I think it is what publishers would call my ‘writing voice;’ a combination of my personal writing style with what I love and the values I believe in. When I was little I watched TV’s Little House on the Prairie and Disney movies then grew up and found out life is hard. Sometimes my daughter will find me giggling at my writing desk and ask, “What’s so funny?” I smile and tell her I just wrote a fun scene where my characters find themselves in an embarrassing or comical situation and they have to deal with it. Or the hero and heroine have a humorous episode of dialog banter, or they have just said, ‘I love you’ to one another for the first time. All things that bring a smile to my face and lift my heart as I write. It is my ultimate hope that my stories can bring a much-needed smile to my reader’s faces as well.

You Are Greater Than You Know

You are great.

I’m not saying that as a precursor to say that something or someone made you that way, nor is this a congratulatory pat on the back of those who had the privilege to raise you. Very far from it- they merely played their role to the best of their knowledge and ability. Some shone, and some, frankly did not.

In this moment, you are perfect

That is not to say that right now you are everything you could be, only that you are everything that you need to be. What you feel, what you think, what you know is your truth, and all those will shift and flow with every breath you take.

You have a strength and a will that will surprise you.

So many people see strength as nothing more than large muscles or power to do great things when it is required. But is that true strength? How many bodybuilders ruin their bodies with that one last repetition? How many heroic feats of strength is a one-time thing? What kind of strength is that?

Of Gods, Devils, Atheists, Zealots, and Other Unimportant Things

I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking lately, which is always a dangerous thing for me to do. I’m a writer after all, and despite my calm exterior I have a very wicked and vibrant imagination.

I’ve been thinking about gods and devils.

No, I’m not trying to use the words “gods” and “devils” as some lame metaphor for the good and evil that exist in the world. I’m talking about the apparently real thing- stuff like the Christian God, Odin, Allah, Satan, Gabriel, Kali, Zeus, Pan, Ishtar, Horus, or—you know the run of the mill deities that I see represented in the world. Half of my social media contacts are convinced of their validity while the other half derides the idea of their existence as delusional.

It’s rather entertaining, to be honest with you. It’s like having a ring-side seat to the battle royal at a pro-wrestling contest. Lots of show and sparkle, breathtaking moves, costumes that are to die for, and groupies that are so fervently devoted that Charles Mason would be taking notes on the technique used to woo them.

Review of Collapse by Richard Stephenson

Collapse (New America Book One)

Author: Richard Stephenson

Availability: Amazon

Overall Rating 1.5 out of 5 Stars

Overall Summary

Collapse tells the tale of the breakdown of society in the very near future as it buckles under the pressure of various new threats from a deadlier Iran, to environmental disasters. The story is told from many different viewpoints and the reader is taken along for a ride that he or she is unlikely to forget.

The cast of characters is long and varied in this book, and each one is trying to navigate the crumbling world around them. For example, there is the character of Howard Beck a millionaire computer genius who suffers from Asperger Syndrome. Then there is Maxwell Harris, a small town sheriff who is just trying to maintain some semblance of law and order all while dealing with his own demons. There are many others, of course, including a convict trying to rescue his kids, government officials with more than service to the country on their mind, and a pediatrician that is forced to use skills she never thought she would after medical school.

Review of Growing Concerns

Growing concernsReview of Growing Concerns

Editor: Alex Hurst

Publisher: Chupa Cabra House

Availability:   Amazon

3.75 out of 5.0 Stars

Summary

Growing Concerns is a collection of short stories that look at the world of plants in a whole new way – a horrific ecologically inspired way. The reader is greeted with a total of eighteen different stories from a wide array of authors, including C.J. Andrew, Ken Goldman, Jocelyn Adams, and Darren Todd to name a few. The stories themselves are quite varied. One story tells the tale of a carnival ride and a tree that take on a life of their own. Another forces the reader to take a long hard look at what happens when the need for water gets a bit too desperate. Of course, there is the story of “Pete’s Peat” by Ethan Nahte in which the swamp has the last word when it comes to murder, or “Redpath” by Luke Murphy in which an eco-activist gets a lot more than what she bargained for.

Jealous!

Ok- confession time.  Last night, I got jealous.  Not the mild “oh, I wish I had that dress!” kind of jealousy, but rather that inhuman, green, slimy stench jealousy that a person feels when you see someone being more successful at something that you’ve been working toward for years.

Sure, I was happy for them.  I wanted, ideally to wish them good cheer for every success that they had.  They had earned it- no denying that.  Sure, I hadn’t seen any real kind of struggle on their part, but hey, who was I to judge, right?

And then I realized.  I WAS judging.  I was judging them on their success, and myself on my failures.  I was seeing their highlight reel and comparing it to my out-takes.   No wonder I wasn’t measuring up.  No wonder I was hearing that whiny voice of defeat and desolation whisper such things as “you’ll never be good enough!”   “you sound like an idiot!  Give up!”  “who gave you the idea that you were actually talented?!?!  Ha!”

Luke: A Forbidden Lust Novella by Diane Bocco

Hey Everyone- taking a bit of a break today from my usual reviews and featuring a little blurb about Luke: A Forbidden LUST Novella by the always alluring Diane Bocco.  If what you read here piques your interest, be sure to check it out!

CoverBlurb:

Of all the men in the world, Cailin Walker fell in love with the one she cannot have. The one her sister married….

Billionaire Luke Blackwell made the biggest mistake of his life when he married the wrong Walker sister, but that is one mistake that he intends to rectify.

Cailin stayed away for the last three years to fight what she feels, but all it takes is one drunken mistake for passion to ignite.  

Navigation Systems Are Operational– Sort Of

It’s hard to make a living simply by writing what you wish.  Very few authors today, indie or otherwise can truly make ends meet without some sort of additional income stream.  I am, of course including myself in this category.  At first it drove me completely bonkers.  I wanted to be that author- you know the next James Patterson or Danielle Steele.  The next best selling author who can live in a comfortable house merely by writing and promoting what was written down on the page.

But then, I started to think- really think about what that meant.

I know how difficult writing can be.  It is time and brain consuming.  Writing can encourage you to reach the highest euphoria, and it can yank you in an instant down to the darkest depths of your soul.  A rejection letter can make you feel like dirt, and a hint at interest from a publisher can make you see the sunrise in a whole new way.  Seeing your book in print can just as easily give you butterflies of excitement or butterflies of dread because of all the edits you now think you should have made.

The writing life has the potential to be an emotional chaotic mess, and anyone who tells you differently should be immediately put under suspicion.

So why do I do it?

The Gods help me, but I love it.  I know without a doubt that this is one of the things I was meant to do for the rest of my life.

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