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Book Review: Shin by T. Cook

What do you do when for your entire life your shapeshifting mother prepares for your ultimate mission, your death? That’s Shin’s purpose in life, to die, and most of it he’s spent hating the person intended to kill him—until they fall in love.

Book Review: Shin by T. Cook

T. Cook, author of Spinning Silk, has now added to the wondrous story of Furi and Shin. While Spinning Silk follows the life of Furi, Cook’s newest book, tells the story of the shapeshifting mortal who steals Furi’s heart and love, Shin. Shin, a story filled with the mysterious, is a fantasy loosely based on the Japanese Spirit Spider and Tanabata folklore.  Fans of the Warp, Weft, and Weapon series will happily lose themselves in its pages.

My Thoughts on Shin:

Who doesn’t like to learn more about the mysterious love interests in their favorite books? I love it! T. Cook doesn’t walk through the story of Spinning Silk from Shin’s perspective. Instead, she tells us the story of Shin.  Readers learn about his life with his uncle and his immortal shapeshifting mother. We also learn how Shin became so knowledgeable about herbs and medicine and how he climbed the ranks as a Samurai.

I enjoyed this addition to the Spinning Silk story. T. Cook’s writing is still filled with wonderful imagery capable of taking the reader’s breath away. The story includes some of the same scenes as Spinning Silk, but for the most part, the content is new and helps fans come to a deeper understanding of the turmoil Shin feels in the various missions he performs for everyone but himself.

If you haven’t read Spinning Silk, do, then move right into reading Shin. You won’t regret it!

Official Blurb:

Shin is a powerful shapeshifter, but he is yet vulnerable, and too many creatures, both mythic and mortal, have a stake in his death. Caught between his samurai uncle’s ambitions for a bloodless war and his shapeshifter mother’s immortal fight for celestial territory, Shin’s uncle gives him up as a tribute warrior for the shogunate military.

In time, Shin wins the army’s loyalty away from the shogun to a cause he can’t be sure of himself, then strikes off on a new mission to recruit an assassin for the revolution. But this assassin is unlike any he has known before. She may kill him in the bargain, but only if all goes well.

SHIN is a second- generation spin on the Japanese Spider Spirits mashed with Tanabata folklore traditions. It joins the ranks of Japanese light novels such as Goblin Slayer, and Overlord.

More Info:

Purchase your copy of Shin on Amazon.

Read my review of Spinning Silk.

Follow T. Cook on Facebook and Twitter
Visit her website: www.tcookbooks.com

Learn more about me and download your free copy of Sometimes a Bird Has to Fly by visiting my website: kameomonson.com

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

 

Flash Fiction: Mrs. Wilhelm’s Thanksgiving Gift

Mrs. Wilhelm's Thanksgiving Gift

The sun warmed Jon’s shoulders as he strolled through the frozen town to Mrs. Wilhelm’s home. Never before had he considered the difference a little sun could make. The wind whipping through his shack the previous night bit every inch of his skin, fulfilling its promise to keep him awake. It sure was different than he was used to. Still, moving to a colder climate had always been his dream. He figured nothing was worse than being raised on a desert ranch only to lay track in the middle of August. Not a thing.

That past summer, he’d finally saved enough money to move and landed in the north where he bought himself a little plot. The dilapidated shack he’d once intended to shore up and improve had become his permanent residence. The farm required too much refining and hoeing to find time to fix what was only partially broke.

Warm breath tickled his fingertips as he blew into his cupped hands. Better than the desert? Yeah, it was better. The frost and snow might numb his toes, but at least he couldn’t feel them.

He shyly tipped his hat at the oncoming passersby.

Aggie, covered in a warm shawl, giggled into her friend’s ear, then smiled at him, a gleam in her eye. “Why, Jon, aren’t you cold? You got nothin’ round your neck or coverin’ your arms.”

“It’s a mite chilly, I guess.”

His eyes followed the girl as she passed. Since their first meeting, he’d hoped to court her. Mrs. Wilhelm and her friends’ willingness to provide him with some additional winter work provided a means—if he could manage it all. Today, the women wanted their Thanksgiving turkeys slaughtered. Each slaughter promised a dollar, and if the women wanted their turkeys plucked and dressed, he’d get another dollar and a half per bird. It meant a long day’s work, but Aggie was worth it.

Entering Mrs. Wilhelm’s yard, Jon blew into his cupped hands again and rubbed at his arms. Perhaps he’d use one of those dollars and buy a coat. He’d never needed one in the desert, but he didn’t live there now. Mrs. Wilhelm swung her door wide, and Jon picked up his feet.

“Jon, those birds are drivin’ me crazy. Opal got herself a tom, and he’s been puffed and struttin’ all night.”
“I’ll hang him first for you, Mrs. Wilhelm. Don’t you worry.”

She patted him hard on the back. “I knew you would. They’s out back. I got one o’ those nice metal barrels out there on the fire heatin’ the water now.”

Jon grinned as he met the widow’s eyes. “How d’you manage that?”

She scowled at him. “I might be old, but that don’t make me useless. I can still haul water and build a fire.”

Jon’s eyes widened as he stared at the barrel of water that was surrounded by plenty of burning wood. “Yes ma’am, you can.” A small path was left for him to use when the time came to dunk the turkeys.

“Well, I’ll let you to it. I know you wanna earn that money, so you can court that pretty Miss Aggie.” She leaned in toward him “You gettin’ close?”

“You haven’t told no one, have you?”

“No,” she scoffed. “I can keep a secret.”

Jon sighed in relief. “I got a ways to go, but every bit helps.”

Once alone, Jon strung the ten turkeys on the wooden frame he’d built the day before. Kneeling down, he thanked God for giving the women turkeys and him work, then asked God for strength to finish the task. That done, he drew his knife.

The turkeys hung with their wings outstretched, not even the tom making noise. The eerie silence from the turkeys sent shivers up Jon’s spine. They never made noise after being strung. He took the tom’s head in his hand and tried to avoid looking at the single eye staring back. “It’ll only hurt a minute.”

The knife pushed raggedly through the neck, and Jon threw the head into the pig’s pen. As he worked the knife quickly through the other nine, the tips of his fingers warmed. Stepping away from the birds, he checked the water, which wasn’t quite boiling and went to wash at the pump.

“I heard you was here.”

A giggle sounded and Jon turned round, feeling a flush of warmth cross his neck—not the kind of warmth he wanted either. “A-Aggie.”

“Jon. Ma sent me to wait for our turkey.”

He nodded. “I just started. I can dunk it first if you tell me which one it is.”

“The one with the light tawny feathers.” She pointed.

“Might take some time.” He stepped to the barrel of water and added a few more pieces of wood. “Water takes a while to boil in the cold.”

She sat in a chair on the back porch and smiled, causing his heart to beat wildly in his chest.

“That’s okay,” she said, “gives us time to chat.”

Jon had spoken to Aggie one other time—a short conversation several months ago. He’d stumbled over his words then, and his tongue felt just as thick now. “You wanna talk while I slaughter turkeys?”

“Looks like the slaughterin’s done.” Her infectious laugh would‘ve brought a smile to his face had he not been so weak-kneed.

“Do you have plans for Thanksgiving?” He asked, then dropped his head and shook it. Had he really asked that?

“I’m here to pick up a turkey, remember?”

“Yeah. I just meant… Do you have o-other family comin’ or is it just you, your ma and pa?”

“Just us.”

“Well, that turkey’ll be plenty big for ya’ll.”

“That’ll make my pa happy. He loves turkey. I think he’d eat it all year-round if he could.”

The water started spitting from the barrel and Jon hurried to the turkeys. Holding the feet of the light-tawny bird with one hand and dunking it in the barrel, he brushed at the condensed steam gathering on his forehead with the other. With the scalding done, he walked back toward Aggie.

“Ma wants it plucked and dressed too.”

“All right.”

Standing at a table, Jon pulled at the feathers as quick as he could, but there wasn’t much fast about plucking a turkey.

“You goin’ to the Christmas Ball?”

Aggie’s voice floated to his ears, and he turned, gazing at her a little longer than intended. His hand missed the turkey and grabbed at a pile of already plucked feathers.

She giggled. “Well, are you?”

He shrugged as he looked down at his work. “I hadn’t thought much on it.”

“I have, and I’ve turned down four boys.”

His head twisted in her direction again. “How come?”

“They’s not the one I wanna go with.” She dropped her head, a bright pink coloring the bridge of her nose.

He brushed the feathers onto the ground and examined the turkey. “I’ll have this dressed in a few.”

“Then what will you do?”

The question hung in the air as he drew his knife.

Aggie swayed back and forth, clutching at the sides of her dress. “Pa says I make real good pies. I plan on makin’ one for the ball. What’s your favorite pie, Jon?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I guess I like pumpkin pretty good.”

“Me too.”

Jon shook his hands and pushed the turkey mess away. Turning toward the pump, he almost forgot to take the bird with him. Luckily, he remembered while Aggie’s head was turned. The water ran cold over the plucked bird and his fingers, none of which helped quiet his pounding heart. The Christmas Ball? Did she want him to ask her?

Mrs. Wilhelm clamored down the stairs of the back porch and hurried over to him—a determined look on her face. “Ask her!”

Any warmth in his neck and face drained away. “What?”

“My house is gettin’ cold with that open window. Ask her already.”

Jon scrunched his face together as muddled thoughts ran through his head. Open window? Then he understood. “I don’t have enough money yet.”

“Money,” she grumbled. “You ain’t askin’ her to marry you, just to go to the dance.”

He studied the old woman’s face, unsure she was right. “I can’t do that, Mrs. Wilhelm. I-I…”

“O’ course you can! March up there and say, ‘Miss Aggie, will you accompany me to the Christmas Ball?’ She’ll say yes, and you hand her the turkey.”

He furrowed his brows.

“Go on. There’s brown paper for the bird on the table. Wrap it up good.”

Stumbling toward the porch, his muscles tightened over stiffened joints, and he tripped on a clump of dead field grass. The turkey jumbled into the air with him running to catch it, his clumsy feet barely underneath him. The bird landed in his arms and against his chest. He eyed the ground, all semblance of dignity now gone.

Wrapping the turkey in the brown paper, he handed it to Aggie.

“Thank you.” The smile at the corners of her eyes dropped as she turned to leave.

“A-Aggie?”

She stopped.

“W-would you like to go to the ball with me?” His hands tangled together as his foot dug into the frozen dirt. All his dreams hinged on her answer, and the wait dragged on forever.

Jumping toward him, she kissed his cheek. “Yes!”

“Yes? Really, yes?”

She nodded at him, a big smile across her face as she waved goodbye.

Running back to the turkeys, Jon grinned at Mrs. Wilhelm, who added more wood to the fire. He swung the dead tom into the barrel. “Give me all the work you got, Mrs. Wilhelm. I’m goin’ to the ball!”

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Meet the Author: Gordon Buttars as he tells us about himself

Meet the Author: Gordon ButtarsThe Farmer

My name is Gordon Buttars and I live in Rexburg Idaho with my wife, our daughter, and two young grandsons. I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, and graduated from Burley High School in 1973. After attending one year at Ricks College and a serving in the Colorado Denver Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I settled into what I thought was a life of farming. Two years after returning from my mission I married my wife, Bonnie and eleven months later our first son was born. Farming wasn’t easy, but I loved it. Then a bad crop put an end to my dream job. At the same time our daughter was born, my father died, and I had to find a new career.

Computer Programmer

After getting some vocational training in computer programming, I got a job in Rexburg and have been here since 1983. While engaged in my second career, we had two more children, one of which lived only 26 hours. As things go, after eighteen years I was laid off and at 46 no one wanted to take a chance on me.

Job Loss

The next few years were desperate, but by the grace of God we made it through. I had hopes of opening a bookstore here in Rexburg, but one obstacle after another got in my way and it never happened. Then about 15 years ago, I developed a neurological disorder that severely limited my abilities. Here again, the Good Lord has seen us through.

Gordon Buttars the Author:

Six years ago I decided to try my hand at writing after watching my son write a 50,000 word novel for the National Novel Writers Month challenge, I decided to try my hand at writing and after several revisions and having a professional proofreader/editor go through it, I am wrapping up my historical novel series and hope to find someone willing to publish it.

Flyboy:

Flyboy is a twelve-volume historical novel of one man’s journey through life, interwoven into the times in which he lived. It is a tale of love and life, tragedy and war. Sheffield “Curly” Brason always seems to be in the right place as he relies on his faith in God to get him through, whether it was his family or his career as a naval officer and aviator. The events and occasions throughout his life prepare him and lead him to eventually find the gospel and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and put him on a path of faithful service for the remainder of his life.

Volume One

Geannie is a look back at Sheffield “Curly” Brason’s early life between 1898 and 1926. He grows up in Roanoke, Virginia, next door to Geannie, the love of his life, who was born on the same day. Growing up, they are playmates, buddies, and best friends. Then one day, he discovers that she is a young woman and they become sweethearts ever after.

Both Curly and Geannie grow up in religious homes, which establishes a pattern of living for the rest of their lives. More than anything else, Curly wants to fly and become a pilot. To accomplish his goal, he follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncle and attends the United States Naval Academy. After he graduates and receives his commission in the United States Navy and Geannie graduates from Hollins College with a teaching certificate, they are married on their twenty-third birthdays.

Rather than begin their lives together, Curly departs on a nine-month round-the-world-cruise with his ship. Even after he returns, Geannie remains in Roanoke where she teaches school while he is stationed 250 miles away in Norfolk, Virginia.

After two years of sea duty, Curly is accepted into flight school and they move to Pensacola, Florida, where they learn to live together and start a family and where their daughter, Sandy, is born. Once he receives his wings, the real adventure began when they moved clear across the country to San Diego, California, where he is assigned to a squadron stationed at North Island Naval Air Station.

As Curly and Geannie settled into living in Southern California, they explore their new surroundings, including a trip to Ensenada, Mexico. Together they face the challenges put before them and grow. It is while living in Mexico that they establish life-long friendships with Shorty and Wilma Sharp, Freddy and Susan McGowan, who Curly flew with, and particularly Ramona North and Harvey Morrison. Ramona, especially, becomes an integral part of their lives.

Volume one culminates with a harrowing experience that Geannie has to go through and how she comes to forgive the perpetrator.

Follow Gordon on Facebook

 

Guest Post: Contemporary Holiday Romances

Enjoy this guest post by Peggy Urry, who has some fantastic books to tell you about as we approach this Christmas season!

Contemporary Holiday Romances

The holidays are coming. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and DECEMBER are right around the corner. I’ve already started shopping. What about you?

Do you need a way to embrace the season? Or a gift for the Hallmark lover in your life? Or how about something for that difficult-to-buy-for person?

Well, you’re in luck. I’ve teamed up with two fabulous authors for the Holiday Romance Collection. This ebook box set contains three full-length contemporary romances inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The novels are available individually in several formats but the best deal is the ebook collection which contains all three.

Eleanor and the Christmas Carol Fudge by Tamara Passey

Eleanor is saving her grandmother’s fudge business but is becoming like Scrooge in the process. The consultant she hires to help happens to be the friend from high school that hasn’t given up his crush for her. Will the Christmas spirit melt her heart or will she miss out on the love of her life?

Christmas Future by Valerie Ipson

While Scarlett Ambrose works her PR magic landing Alaska on the nice Christmas spirit list, her wedding plans and a longing for Arizona’s heat have to wait. But when the wait’s too long will a warm-hearted doctor in town for his own reasons be just the prescription for lifting her cold, Scrooge-like spirit?

A Christmas Carol for Candy by Peggy Urry

Candy Kaine exchanges a philandering fiance for college. School and a small town community save her from facing the past. In the fast-paced city, Jace Marlowe takes the only job offered since an ugly breakup: web design for a posh resort. The resort plans to buy Janssen Manor, home of the satellite campus located in Jace’s small hometown. Will Past, Present, and Future experience help Candy overcome her challenges? Can Jace find a solution before he loses what is most important?

A huge thanks to SageFoxDesigns for my cover. I think it’s perfect! (you can also find her on FB and Instagram)

Book Review: ZARA by Aureola

Young childhood as a refugee, human trafficking, and drugs wreak havoc in Aisha’s life. Human kindness and love come only small doses, leaving her with a soul tormented by abuses. But an end to suffering awaits if she can overcome the hardships driving her life.

Book Review: Zara by Aureola

Author, Aureola, takes us on a journey most of us cannot fathom. Those who can, wish they couldn’t. Her novel, ZARA, explores a world where abuse by one’s spouse isn’t only commonplace, but legal, where refugees run from criminals and their abusers, and young children are sold as slaves.

My Thoughts About ZARA:

Understanding the depths of terror that abound in the world can only come as we experience it ourselves. But a glimpse through a fictional story can help us recognize atrocities, hopefully, so we can change them. Just as Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped loosen the bonds of slavery in the United States, ZARA works to loosen the bonds placed on women and children by those who seek power over them. Aureola does this by highlighting the atrocities of spousal abuse and human trafficking.

Much of the story takes place through the eyes of Aisha, a young girl who lives through the cycle of abuse time and time again. The love of those in her same position carries her through the very torments of hell. Though she wishes to escape, as is true for many, escape isn’t always possible. There are pockets of happiness and hope, but much of the book shows how Aisha survives. The survival that comes through her strength and the hands of others causes readers to cheer from the bottom of their hearts.

This story is not written by an American, so you can expect some differences in spelling and punctuation—specifically when it comes to commas and periods found outside quotation marks, which is considered correct in British English. There are also some formatting issues in the ebook that the author is currently working to fix, as well as minor grammatical errors. Some confusion may arise as the author switches from one character’s point of view to another.

I, personally, feel the author handled such volatile subjects well. Though dark subjects line each page, gruesome violence and unnecessary descriptions do not, neither does nudity, sexual acts, or other inappropriate expressions. I struggle some with the end of the book, though it is a happy ending, how happiness is discovered, leaves me disconcerted. However, I do believe the ending to be realistic.

Overall, I cautiously recommend this book. It has the propensity to help readers understand some of the complexities women and children in the world may experience and will open eyes to harsh realities while shielding them from debilitating anguish.

Official Blurb:

“I am Zara… and I know what it means to live in terror for my life…”

Born into an existence in which life and death walk hand in hand, abuse and an impending war throw Zara into a fight for survival in a dystopian society ravaged by insurgents and run by drug lords, arms dealers as well as prostitution rings. With her innocence destroyed, she survives by building a façade that sells a lie to the world. But when this is stripped away, she is left with one choice: a final end, a final silence… even at the cost of her life.

More Info:

Purchase your copy of ZARA on Amazon.

Follow Aureola on Goodreads.

Read more reviews, flash fiction, and fun at KameoMonson.com, and don’t forget to grab your FREE downloadable copy of Sometimes A Bird Has to Fly!

I received a free copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Eat Cheeseburgers: An Essay

I had fun writing this essay with my son.

Eat Cheeseburgers

Hamburgers and cheeseburgers are part of the American way of life. Families across the country enjoy socializing and grilling burgers in their backyards or at the park. Visit the city, and you’ll see several restaurants that sell burgers lining the streets. We know why. It’s that juicy piece of ground beef slathered in cheese and ketchup with a slice of bacon or two calling our names: Jimmy, Tommy, Susie. That satisfying bite of bread with the perfect bacon-y crunch filling our mouths, the delicious flavor of a beautifully cooked beef patty with creamy cheddar, pepper jack, or Monterey jack cheese can bring us to our knees, especially if we wait too long to indulge. Some people like their burgers with lettuce and tomato, maybe a pickle or two, adding the perfect balance of cool crispness to the warm meat promising juicy, beefy wonderment.  Though many believe differently, we all need to eat at least one cheeseburger a week.

Now that we’ve established that cheeseburgers taste good, (All of you can almost taste that juicy beef, right?) let me give you two more reasons why we all need to eat a genuine, fully-authentic cheeseburger, in all its beefy glory at least once a week.

First, iron. Red meat is a great source of iron. In fact, it’s such a great source, both Healthline.com and the Red Cross discuss beef as a way to increase your iron levels. Healthline.com’s Franziska Spritzler, a nutrition and dietitian expert, states, “Red meat is satisfying and nutritious. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of ground beef contains 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the RDI.” (Spritzler) RDI stands for recommended daily intake. Basically, Franziska is telling us to eat at least a quarter-pounder a week. The day we do that, we meet roughly 15% of our recommended daily intake in a single sitting! Imagine eating that double quarter-pounder. Come on, I know you want it! 30% RDI here we come!

The Red Cross, takers of our rich, iron-filled blood, wants us to know that meats such as beef, fish, and poultry are rich in heme iron. About 30% of the heme iron, which comes from meat, is absorbed fast! Compare that rate to the rate of non-heme iron’s 2–10% that we absorb from nuts and dark green veggies, and…well, grab that burger!  (American Red Cross)

Still, there’s that other reason we should eat a cheeseburger a week. How many of you crave incredible cheeseburgers in all their beefy goodness, but try to avoid them because you feel like you’ll lose control? Maybe eat one a day instead of one a week? Worse? Does anyone eat more than one a day? This is information you won’t want to ignore: scheduling a time to give in to your cravings helps you eat healthier! Sounds crazy, right? I know. But it isn’t. EatRight.com says, “A balanced eating plan that allows foods you enjoy — even high-fat, high-calorie foods — will be easier to maintain since you aren’t eliminating those foods outright from your life.” (Wolfram) When you eliminate the food you crave completely, those cravings become overwhelming. And if you give into them, watch out — you’ll become an overeating cheeseburger monster…the Hamburglar. We don’t want that, so schedule that cheeseburger craving. That’s what Gramma Jo did.

Who is Gramma Jo? Gramma Jo is perhaps the single, best grandmother anyone could have. Why? Lots of reasons, but mostly because she adopted Saturday night cheeseburgers. That’s right, my mother grew up eating a cheeseburger every single Saturday. Most of the time, they grilled them on the grill in the backyard, but after an especially exhausting Saturday on the lake, the whole family could usually be found at a local hamburger eatery. Better yet, Gramma Jo serves cheeseburgers every Christmas Eve. She understands the necessity of feeding the craving instead of the Hamburglar.

People against eating burgers will tell you they’re unhealthy. We’ve already proven they have a nutritional value when eaten occasionally as opposed to daily. However, there are still people who believe eating beef does a disservice to a cow. You’re killing it — that’s true. But, keep in mind, these cows are raised for the specific purpose of feeding hungry American teenagers. Now, if you worry about the treatment of the cow while it’s alive, don’t. You have a choice in the type of ground beef you purchase. Companies like the Arizona Grass Fed Beef Co. raise their cattle on free ranges with cowboys, just like in the olden days. Those cows are happy eating grasses, bushes, and the occasional flower right off the plain. They get more than that, too, they can enjoy the sun, the light breeze, and as much romping space and water as they can handle. When the trip to the slaughterhouse comes, cows trot in and death comes quickly, causing no pain. (Arizona Grass Raised Beef Co.) Another consideration, if you want that heme iron, something’s going to die, so you can choose — chicken, turkey, fish…cow.

Other than religious reasons, what shouldn’t you eat a cheeseburger once a week? Don’t believe the naysayers. Give in to what you know is right, be like Gramma Jo, grill it, fry it, buy it, however you get it, eat it. Eat a big, delicious, juicy cheeseburger topped with bacon and crisp veggies at least once a week. Relish the juicy flavor. Revel in its goodness. Get that important heme iron (that is so necessary for your health) straight from the steer. Something was going to die anyway. Feel the iron flow through your blood, pumping up your hemoglobin, rushing oxygen to your brain, heart, and stomach. You deserve it, we all do.

Laughter and social media shares are always appreciated!
Disclaimer: This is not an ad. I received no compensation. Hopefully, you know this is intended as humor.

Bibliography:

American Red Cross. n.d. 25 October 2018 <https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/before-during-after/iron-blood-donation/iron-rich-foods.html>.

Arizona Grass Raised Beef Co. n.d. 25 October 2018 <https://azgrassraisedbeef.com/>.

Spritzler, Franziska. 11 Healthy Foods That Are Very High in Iron. 18 July 2018. 25 October 2018 <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-healthy-iron-rich-foods#section1>.

Wolfram, reviewed by Taylor. eat right Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 13 February 2018. 25 October 2018 <https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/tips-for-weight-loss/how-to-handle-food-cravings>.

Book Review: The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife

If you spend your day changing diapers, eating chocolate every chance you get, or doing your best to squeeze into those pink exercise shorts that rise way above your belly button only minutes before a string of crimes ravage your neighborhood, you might be Lotty Brooks, the main character in The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife.

Book Review: The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife

Crissy Sharp, author of The Enemy Nextdoor and Other Misunderstandings and Love and Fat-free Cheese, has written another humor-filled mystery. The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife had me laughing from page one and my husband questioning my hysterical giggles through to the end. Somehow, Sharp managed to add a mystery in the middle of it all, making this book one you can’t put down.

My Thoughts on The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife:

We’ve been there, all of us. We spend our days wondering if we’ll get the chance to shower. And forget the cute clothes—comfy yoga pants and t-shirts are all we need for a life with toddlers anyway. The effort’s still worth it, but exhaustion took over our lives a long time ago, and of course, across the street, lives the perfect woman, thin, stylish, and a mother. We hate her. Add to that a failing marriage, and that is Lotty Brooks. To us, she’s awesome, unlike her neighbor (and ours). Scene after scene, Lotty tells it like it is. All of our hurts and failures, all of our wants and desires, outed by one fictional character so flawlessly written, we know she should be our best friend.

I haven’t had children in diapers or hanging on my leg as I walked down the street in years, but I love Lotty. Her husband, Jason, is a pretty cool guy too, which makes it hard to understand what happened to their marriage all those months ago.

As the title suggests, this book is lighthearted and fun with a mystery you can solve right along side of the characters. I enjoyed solving it while giggling at the predicaments Lotty finds herself in. There are a couple of tense places, but Sharp balances tension and humor beautifully. This read will keep you smiling. Grab the chocolate and a blanket and cozy-up, then thank me later.

The Official Blurb:

Lotty Brooks’ days consist of avoiding thoughts of her failing marriage, changing diapers, and trying not to eat chocolate brioche for breakfast and lunch. However, everything changes when her perfect, lakeside Montana neighborhood begins bustling with crime and she seems to be the target.

Jason Brooks wants to know what happened to the woman he married. Lotty’s a mere shell of her former self. When she becomes the focal point of neighborhood threats, and the town seems to question her innocence, he must decide how well he knows his wife.

As Jason and Lotty try to get to the bottom of the threats and find those responsible, they’ll need to remember what they once loved about each other. Otherwise, they may lose everything and everyone they care about.

More Info:

While both The Enemy Nextdoor and Other Misunderstandings and The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife are both Strawberry Lake Estate Mysteries, the books stand completely on their own.

Purchase your copy of The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife on Amazon
Follow Crissy Sharp:  On her website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Read more reviews, flash fiction, and more fun at KameoMonson.com

I received a free copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Flash Fiction: Nightmare Newlyweds

Flash Fiction: Newlywed Nightmare

“Wake up!” Karen rocked back and forth as she tried to wake up her new husband.

A cool breeze blew through the drafty cabin they’d rented for their honeymoon, and she screamed as the celebratory note from the owner fluttered to the floor.

“Karen?” Daniel reached out and rubbed her back.

She flung her body against his, tears spreading across his shoulder and toward his neck. “Nightmare.”

“You’re crying over a nightmare?”

She nodded. “I don’t know why I can’t get over it.” The tears had started several minutes before she amassed enough courage to wake him. The first night with Dan—he’d think she was crazy. “Can you check the cabin?”

Daniel sat up slowly. “Isn’t that how people die?”

He caught her hand as she swatted at him and tugged her against his chest. The fleeting comfort disappeared as quickly as it had come. “It was just a nightmare, but I need to see nothing’s there.”

“Now you want to come with me? You do have a death wish.”

“Sure make fun of me.”

He stood from the bed and helped her up, ensconcing her from behind. “I’d never make fun of you.”

“Yeah, never,” she scoffed.

“Come on, let’s get this over with. It’s a bit chilly.”

The bedroom door squeaked open with his grasp, and Karen’s shallow breathing rattled in her lungs. Most brides dreamed of their new husbands, didn’t they? Not her, she dreamed of a man with an ax circling their cabin. No surreal feeling accompanied the scenes in her mind. Was that why she couldn’t forget, why she’d woken Dan in the middle of the night, soaked his shoulder in tears, and made him traipse around the cold two-room cabin?

Daniel stared through the windows, examining the front and back yards before turning the lights on one by one. “Kar, I don’t see anyone. Can we go back to bed?”

Nodding, she climbed between the sheets and cuddled against his shoulder. Draping his arm around her, he combed his fingers through her long, blonde hair. “You okay?”

She shrugged as a raspy breath caught in her throat. “Just hold me.”

Though Daniel fell asleep quickly, Karen lay awake, staring at the moon until clouds covered the sky. Her body wrapped around his, pushing closer with each muffled crack and scratching sound she heard. Maybe she should have suggested Hawaii instead of a cabin in the mountains. But a glimpse of fall promised to awaken her senses after a hot summer in the desert—in theory.

A prickling sensation poked at Karen’s bladder. Sleep eluded her, what did discomfort matter? The prickling intensified. Maybe discomfort mattered. She glanced at her husband, waking Derek meant admitting she was human. Besides, peeing with the door open wasn’t a honeymoon experience she wanted to remember.

Slipping from under the covers, she lunged for the door and waddled toward the bathroom. The light flickered once and then refused to shine. Bound and determined to stay out of the loony-bin, she charged the toilet. As relief flooded through her, she glanced at the mirror hanging above the sink. Two yellow orbs glinted in its reflection. But…she glanced the opposite direction and screamed.

Karen dashed from the bathroom and jumped on the bed, shaking Daniel. “Wake up, wake up! Something’s out there, Dan.”

Daniel groaned and pulled Karen toward him. “No. We checked.”

“I saw its eyes, yellow ones, in the bathroom.” Warmth spread from her neck into her cheeks. Now he knew she was human.

Daniel gathered Karen in his arms again. “Stay here. I’ll check things out.”

Footsteps echoed through the cabin, and Karen stepped to the bedroom doorway, watching as Derek crept outside. A crackle of fallen leaves rustled, startling Karen, but then she recognized Daniel’s footfalls.

The door opened, and Karen ran into Daniel’s arms. “What was it?”

“Probably a cat.” He traced the side of her face, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. “Have you slept at all?”

“How can I? I dream of ax-murderers and see glowing eyes when I…” She didn’t want to admit her human characteristics, even if Daniel knew about them.

“I promise, nothing’s there. Even if there was, I’d take care of you.” He hugged her and led her back to bed. “Try to sleep, okay?”

She nodded and curled her body next to his again.

The sun shined into the room and Karen startled awake, a light knock struck the cabin’s door. She followed a second or two behind Daniel, wondering at the disturbance. A police officer stood on the porch.

“Is everything okay here?” The officer asked.

They both nodded.

“Do either of you recognize this?” The officer jutted his chin toward the wall of the house.

Together, Daniel and Karen poked their heads through the doorway. An ax leaned against the wall of the cabin. Shallow breaths racked Karen’s body as tears formed in her eyes, and she fell back into the cabin, shaking her head.

“No,” Daniel said, his voice soft.

“Anything odd happen last night?”

“My wife had a nightmare.” Daniel shrugged.

The officer leaned inside the house. “Did you see or hear anything other than your nightmare, ma’am?”

“I s-saw yellow eyes in the b-bathroom window. Daniel checked outside.”

“There was nothing there, sir.” Daniel swallowed deeply. “I wondered if it was a cat.”

The officer removed his hat. “I don’t know how you avoided him, but you’re one lucky couple.”
Karen stared at the man. “What?”

“The previous owner of this cabin stopped renting to newlyweds. You are newlyweds, right?”

“Yes,” they both answered.

“She stopped renting to newlyweds during the month of October after someone murdered three different couples. One a year,” he glanced at the weapon outside, “with an ax. Once she stopped, the killings did, too. Her son took ownership a couple of months ago. Apparently, he didn’t know about the murders. I knocked when I saw the ax…gave me the shivers. You sure you don‘t know anything?”

Daniel stared at the ax, his brow raised in thought. “Not at all, but I think we’ll leave early.”

“Best if you do.”

Karen rushed to Daniel as the door closed.

He gathered her in his arms. “Let’s go pack.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” The softness of his shirt muffled the question.

“He scared you enough.”

“Who?”

“The owner, but he won’t come back.”

She glanced up and rubbed her finger across his lips.

“Careful, I bite.” A gleam raced across his eyes as he smiled, pulling her closer.

“I remember,” she said, pressing her lips against his.

Book Review: One Among Them by M.K. Dymock

Keenley grew up in the Rocky Mountains. Unpredictable and dangerous as they were, they only brought her comfort…until they didn’t.

Book Review: One Among Them M.K. Dymock

An outdoor enthusiast herself, M.K. Dymock hits this writing trail and rides it to the end. Lucky for us, we can follow along in her fictional mystery One Among Them. This novel keeps readers on their toes as they wonder if Keenley’s family will find her before her attacker or the elements of nature take her life.

My Thoughts on One Among Them:

The blurb and subject of One Among Them called to me, and I picked this book up for myself. With just enough knowledge of the Rockies to think I had a clue, I jumped into chapter one. Then I spend several days trying to figure out where in the Rockies the story took place. My small knowledge of the 3,000-mile mountain range confused me. For the record, my limited understanding comes from a very small section of the Wasatch Front, which is located in Utah. Though I understood from the start that most people think of Colorado when considering the Rockies, my mind immediately went to Utah when the author described the western slopes. I also didn’t realize there was a desert in northwestern Colorado, or that the Wasatch Front didn’t butt directly up to the mountains in the neighboring state. So much for those geography lessons! Once I humbled myself and asked people to help me locate the area I was reading about, a whole new world (enter Disney music here) opened up to me.

One Among Them starts with action and keeps it going while allowing the reader to connect with the characters. I loved the way the author helped me to connect, not only to Keenley but also to her parents and others involved in the search. Throughout the story, I wondered who on earth the attacker was. As I got closer to the end and things were wrapping up, I thought I had it all figured out—nope. The swing and a miss didn’t hurt too much, but it did smart a little. When I finished, I  thought about immediately turning to page one and starting over. Alas, too many other books await reviews. Still, this isn’t a one-time read, not by a long-shot.

Official Blurb:

Everyone in town wants to find Keenley, but someone doesn’t intend for her to come home.

The town of Lost Gorge, hidden and protected from the world by the Rockies, hides some secrets of its own. When Keenley Dawson never returns home from mountain biking, the town unites to find her. Most everyone assumes she’s lost on the rugged trails or hurt.

She is lost and hurt, but it was no accident.

After being attacked and abducted, Keenley escapes into the wilderness. She knows how to survive the wilds, but what she doesn’t know is how to live when she’s being hunted.

More Info:

Purchase your copy of One Among Them on Amazon

Follow M.K. Dymock on Goodreads

Read book reviews, flash fiction, and more at KameoMonson.com

Book Review: Eubeltic Descent by Nadine C Keels

Abigaia lives a poverty-ridden life, and dreams of visiting the Eubeltic Realm fill her mind with a passionate yearning she cannot explain. No one would believe she descended from royalty, especially if they knew who gave her the information.

Nadine C. Keels has authored several books across more than one genre. Perhaps that’s what makes Eubeltic Descent so unique. Written in a fictional world with fictional tales, the story contains no other fantasy elements. Instead, it reads more like a historical fiction, so much so, I struggle to put it with my fantasy recommended reads, feeling it fits better under the general fiction category.

My Thoughts on the Eubeltic Descent:

The world of literature starts when you realize everyone and thing in the has a voice. Voices ring truth, whether leaves rustle in the wind or laughter floats on a breeze. All of those words, those unheard feelings, eventually find their resting spot between literature’s pages. Such is true in Eubeltic Descent.

Another culture lives within the various cultures of our world, yet few of us live it. The world of the hearing and speech impaired. So what happens when a young woman, with great intellect, lives with no voice? What happens when, as hard as she tries to be heard, the one closest to her calls her unexplained hand movements crazy? In those moments, do you imagine she might wish for more?

Eubeltic Descent follows the story of a young woman who cannot speak.  Written in third-person, the fairytale-style writing of Keels will pull you into the story even as you wonder how she’s done it. The descriptions of Abigaia’s silent laughter tickled my imagination. Read the following excerpt to see why.

She could have run faster without her basket, but it didn’t matter. Her head went back as she released a delighted sound, but it wasn’t tinkly, cackly, melodic, or anything else that would require some audible note or tone. It was simply a bubbling of wind that took flight out of her mouth: spirited, airy, and tuneless.

So often we live through the dialogue, but Eubeltic Descent, which does have dialogue, invites us to live between it. The story is well-written, unique, and a wonderful start to what I know will be a phenomenal series.

Official Blurb:

Your soul will remember…
As a woman who wasn’t born to wealth or privilege, Abigaia has mastered the art of thievery. And she’s come to hate it. Not only is she plagued by guilt, but her shadowed upbringing and silent ways cause most of her town to question her sanity.

Yet, Abigaia’s eccentric father always taught her to be proud of her heritage. Her ancestry lies across the sea, in a prominent realm she’s read about but has never seen.

The man who desires Abigaia’s hand in marriage doesn’t share her hope of seeing the Eubeltic Realm. But disaster erupts in their path, and Abigaia’s dream may have a greater purpose—if that famed domain of her ancestors is now in crucial need of her.

More Info:

Purchase the Eubeltic Descent (Eubeltic Realm Book 1) on Amazon

Follow Nadine C. Keels:   Facebook      Twitter      Goodreads
Nadine C. Keels website: Prismatic Prospects

Read more book reviews, flash fiction, and more at KameoMonson.com

I received a  free copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.