Book Review: The Kings Trial

Many have died traversing the King’s trial, but Yosyph has only one chance to save his people from the Queen’s wrath.

Many have died traversing the King’s trial, but Yosyph has only one chance to save his people from the Queen’s wrath.

After years of staying up at night and telling stories to her sister, M.L. Farb enters the world of fantasy with her newest book The King’s Trial. A story filled with adventure, royalty, heroes, and a smidgen of romance, this is a tale lovers of fantasy won’t want to miss.

My Thoughts about The King’s Trial

Though I write women’s fiction and read several genres, fantasy stands as one of my favorites. Don’t spend a second longer wondering why; it’s because I can’t fathom the amount of talent it takes to create worlds and abilities, let alone understand the finer points of swordplay. I’ve enjoyed it for several decades, and still do, when it’s written well.

Amazon is riddled with poorly written fantasy. In fact, as a past product review blogger, I eventually refused indie books in the genre. However, having read a few other stories of Farb’s and knowing her writing ability, I decided to give The King’s Trial a chance, and I’m glad I did.

Farb clearly paints a picture of the kingdoms where this story takes place. The abilities given to characters are not overdone and there are no ridiculous monsters. Swords, honor, courageous fair maidens, and a clearly stated evil exists. The main character fights his way through personal demons while exerting himself physically. The characters are well-rounded and easy to like – or not.

As in many fantasy stories, the main character in The King’s Trial has to trust a higher power. Obviously based on Christianity and the idea of faith, The King’s Trial is perfect for all ages. Those who are not Christian will find the same integral standard we all desire in ourselves and for our children: honesty, kindness, and selflessness.

Written in first person, from the perspective of two characters, readers enjoy two adventures and are rewarded with the desired suspense as they wind together. Plenty of twists and turns exist, and at no point will one become bored. I sure didn’t.

The official blurb

In a land where stories of the Shadow Demon keep children shivering in bed and tales of the Yorel bring hope to the commoner, Yosyph is both the reason for their fear and their hope.

By day Yosyph appears nothing more than a mute tavern-hand. By night he plans a revolution and slips through shadow, rescuing those marked for death by the xenophobic queen.

When he learns that thousands of his people will be sent as slaves to the mines, he must choose—fight the royal army with an ill-prepared rebellion or journey to the land of his ancestors through the deadly King’s Trial. If he succeeds, he’ll win his kins’ loyalty and their help.

His journey grows complicated when he rescues a maiden and enrages a prince, but if he doesn’t return with help in time, the people he’s loved and secretly served will be gone.

More Info

The King’s Trial is available on Amazon beginning July 16, 2019.
Enjoy your free e-copy if you pick it up July 16-17, 2019.
Enjoy it for $0.99 July 18-22, 2019

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Book Review: The Rift Between Us

When Dad died. Maria, Lauren, and Avery figured they’d never see each other again. Why would they? They hadn’t spoken to each other in two years. But even from the grave, Dad plans to see them become a family again, in The Rift Between Us.

Rebecca L. Marsh, author of When the Storm Ends, now gives fans a second novel: The Rift Between Us. Another wonderful women’s fiction piece, none of my followers will want to miss this great story, filled with life-like characters and real-life problems.

My Thoughts on The Rift Between Us

We look across the auditoriums, restaurants, and church pews at all the people who have life figured out and wonder what’s wrong with us. We’ve gained so much weight our shoes don’t fit, our kids fight nonstop, and the dog has yet to find the patch of grass in the backyard. When is it our turn? When do we get to live a perfect life? And with each question we ask, we refuse to let anyone in on our secrets. After all, what would they think if they knew the truth?

The preface isn’t new. If anything it’s timeless. We listen and enjoy stories with such themes because no matter how much we try to remind ourselves that no one has a perfect life, we forget.

Marsh takes this simple theme and builds her story around it. A widowed father of three daughters raised them into adulthood. Unfortunately, as adults, the secrets they keep from each other are too heavy for any one of them to carry alone. They need sisters, but only Dad knows it.

When trying to bring his girls back together in life fails, this dad gives it one more shot after death. If they want their lofty inheritances, they have to fulfill a difficult task.

The climax of The Rift Between Us comes earlier than in most books, and Marsh spends a good amount of time wrapping up the resolution. In most stories, I find a long resolution boring. However, this wasn’t the case this time around. It’s during the resolution that the characters grow, similar to how we grow in real life. And considering the genre, I find this acceptable and even necessary for this story.

Readers of The Rift Between Us follows the points of view of sisters Maria, Lauren, and Avery. Marsh’s exceptional writing brings depth to each woman, as we experience their anger, fears, and passions. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself with tears in your eyes searching for a box of tissues. These characters are sure to touch your heart. They sure touched mine.

Official Blurb

After a family dinner turns into a bitter fight, sisters Maria, Lauren, and Avery decide to go their separate ways. Their father warns them that someday they will need one another. When he dies suddenly, they learn that he intends to make sure that they do. He’s left them a substantial inheritance, far more than any of them ever imagined.

There’s just one catch. If they want the money, they will have to spend two weeks together at a secluded lake house and follow all of their father’s instructions—no matter how strange.

Their task seems simple enough, but each one is holding onto painful secrets and old grudges the others know nothing about. But if they can learn to trust each other again, they might be able to mend the rift between them and give their father his dying wish.

More Info:

Watch Amazon for The Rift Between Us. Coming July 2019

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Book Review: My Fault

After Cleo runs over Grayson when she shouldn’t have been driving, all she wants to do is make amends. But he’s so darn cute, leaving him alone becomes nearly impossible in My Fault by RJ Conte.

RJ Conte may have written nine novels, but she’s only kissed one boy, and she married him! Perhaps that’s what leads her to write such entertaining love stories as My Fault. This humorous love story takes readers into the mind of Cleo Stanton, who after 30 days in the clink, wants nothing more than to make it up to the guy she ran over with her car.

My Thoughts on My Fault

Cleo Stanton is the type of character you love to watch annoy others. The sweetest, quirkiest gal who has absolutely no clue about social graces. The girl in the back of your college English class who dressed in loud, mismatched clothing and talked her neighbor’s ear off but still managed to know all the answers, has nothing on Cleo. Nothing.

She rambles. Rambles in text messages. Rambles out loud and in her mind. Nothing stops her. But I found I didn’t mind. Her rambling made my nights more enjoyable. I laughed. My husband looked at me funny, and I laughed some more.

Cleo knows how to connect topics too. Wombats, head-babies, and uvulas all come into play, and even though I don’t dress like Cleo or talk like Cleo, somehow, I relate to Cleo.

My Fault is filled with humor, page after page of it, and most doesn’t come from unusual situations, but from the thoughts running through Cleo’s head. They’re fantastic! But it’s not all humor. Toward the end, RJ Conte takes the story through a twisty tunnel and a couple of serious topics appear. Don’t worry, she tackles them with grace and brings the story together stupendously.

As a Christian rom-com story, you know God comes up. Cleo has a knack for praying. I’d consider it irreverent, but knowing Cleo as I do, for her, it’s classic. Besides, God may not be fictional, but Cleo is. More importantly, we see where God’s hand plays a part in Cleo and Grayson’s lives and, hopefully, can relate to such miracles ourselves.

This short book will have you laughing and maybe crying. Maybe both. Either way, I’m certain you’ll love Cleo as much as I do.

Official Blurb

“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”

Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.

A devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?

More Info

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Book Review: The Stationmaster’s Cottage

When Christie Ryan attends her Gran’s funeral against her fiance’s wishes, she’s suddenly faced with an unexpected inheritance in The Stationmaster’s Cottage by Phillipa Nefri Clark.

Phillipa Nefri Clark, an Australian author of women’s fiction, released a new edition of The Stationmaster’s Cottage in April. Newly edited, this novel from the River’s End series stands alone with ease and brings to life characters from two generations with overlapping love stories.

My Thoughts on The Stationmaster’s Cottage

We look at our families and their histories and wonder at our ancestors’ lives. How did they live? Were they happy? Are there aunts or uncles we know nothing about? What about cousins? As we dive into boxes left behind and find pictures, documents, and keepsakes we know nothing about, mysteries unfold before our eyes. Can we put aside those mysteries? When I discovered my own family history mystery, I couldn’t, and neither can Christie.

Christie Ryan finds her own family history mystery, and it’s a doozy! Moreover, it seems to include the moody artist that lives on the beach. Add to that a fiance that asks her to spend more time with him, and then seems interested in everything but her, and the story of the stationmaster’s cottage lines up.

It sounds like a romance, but there is plenty more to this novel. Christie struggles to find herself and determine what she really wants in life. She also finds herself yearning for more information about the great-aunt no one told her about. In the meantime, she deals with contradicting emotions over Gran’s death.

This book is written exceptionally well. The characters come to life and draw you in. Where one-dimensional characters are often used by authors, Clark adds just the right amount of dimension.

The Stationmaster’s Cottage is easy to recommend and is a book you’re sure to love.

Official Blurb

“There are secrets in that cottage. Questions needing answers.”

Those words gave Christie Ryan a reason to stay in River’s End, when she should have gone home after Gran’s funeral. Inheriting a rundown cottage, far from her jet-setting life, she is drawn into a fifty-year-old mystery.
Who wrote the letters hidden in the attic, an outpouring of love to a woman Christie suspects she is related to? What is the significance of a damaged painting kept by Gran but clearly painted in this seaside town?

Local artist Martin Blake may have the answers she seeks, but refuses to help. His dog adores Christie, but Martin keeps his feelings locked away.

As Christie faces difficult decisions about her own future, will the consequences of righting old wrongs be too high a price to pay?

More Info

Purchase your copy of The Stationmaster’s Cottage on Amazon.

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Book Review: The Trouble with Prince Charming

With a little help from her fairy godmother, Nikki Baker got it all: the boy and the kiss. But dating the hottest guy in school comes with more than magical butterflies, and wading through the gossip, lies, and betrayal has her mind doing backflips in The Trouble with Prince Charming.

With a little help from her fairy godmother, Nikki Baker got it all: the boy and the kiss. But dating the hottest guy in school comes with more than magical butterflies, and wading through the gossip, lies, and betrayal has her mind doing backflips in The Trouble with Prince Charming.

Kimberly King, author of The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers, has added to the Magical Troubles Collection with book two: The Trouble with Prince Charming. It may not have as many spinning wands, but the magical story brought a lot of purple sparkles into my life.

My Thoughts about The Trouble with Prince Charming

Usually, when I review middle-grade books, I have children in mind, and I try to read through with their perspective. But when King asked if I wanted to review The Trouble with Prince Charming, I said yes for me. If you can’t tell, I wasn’t disappointed.

King wraps this fun story together with such incredible humor; I hardly stopped laughing. Perhaps walking down memory lane caused some of that, but most of it came from her writing abilities.

The story isn’t exactly new. An average girl has snagged Prince Charming and still struggles to fit in. When she does (if she truly does), she looks back at her life and realizes what it’s really all about. It’s a coming of age book set in a humorous background where fair godmothers exist. Who doesn’t love this trope?

In The Trouble with Prince Charming, Nikki’s godmother only makes a couple of appearances, but she’s there when Nikki needs her. I liked it this way. After all, the story of her fairy godmother is over. This story is about Nikki and the boy. What makes Prince Charming Prince Charming, anyway?

Squeaky clean, this is a book I highly recommend to everyone. If you don’t generally pick up indie books and pass by this one, you’re missing out. The Trouble with Prince Charming comes with a best-seller quality and an indie price tag!

The Official Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Nikki Baker finally has everything she’s always wanted: confidence, popularity, and the hottest guy at Forest Hills High. Thanks to her fairy godmother’s help, happily ever after is hers for the taking. But being at the top of the food chain is a dangerous place to be. Gossip, lies and betrayal lurk at every corner while she struggles, holding onto a boyfriend everyone wants for themselves. Expectations run high with a guy who’s used to getting what he wants, but Nikki’s not so sure she’s ready to meet his demands. She must decide whether to trust her own heart, or rely on the fairy godmother who got her there in the first place.

More Info

Purchase The Trouble with Prince Charming for Kindle or in print on Amazon, or read it on Kindle Unlimited.

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Book Review: Dreamland by Nick Clausen

Everyone has reoccurring dreams, but Louie’s weren’t reoccurring, not exactly. You see, Louie’s dreams always had the same setting, but instead of repeating, they continued.

Everyone has reoccurring dreams, but Louie’s weren’t reoccurring, not exactly. You see, Louie’s dreams always had the same setting, but instead of repeating, they continued.

Nick Clausen is no ordinary horror story author. After having 30 books traditionally published in Denmark, he decided to independently publish them in English. And unlike some foreign books, his translation of Dreamland reads as if it were written in English first.

My Thoughts about Dreamland by Nick Clausen

After attempting to read a couple of books written by authors who speak American or British English as a second language, I stopped considering most of them for review. Language is a tricky thing, and certain nuances can’t be learned. But when I received Clausen’s review request, I decided to consider it. 30 traditionally published books is no small feat, and he promised the book had been proofread by a native-English speaker.

The book sounded interesting enough: a boy visits his dead father in Dreamland. Besides that, a lot of my ancestors came from Denmark. I can even tell you where to find it on a map, so it’s like Clausen and I are family or something. OK, that might be taking things a little far. Either way, I decided to review the book.

It didn’t take long for me to immerse myself in the story. The main character, Louie, is a twelve-year-old boy who has strange dreams. They’re strange because they always happen in the same place, but they aren’t always the same. He eventually figures out that the man in the blue suit is his father, who died when he was one.

In time, Louie discovers that Dreamland isn’t only about desires and hopes. Nightmares also come from Dreamland. And as his two worlds merge, catastrophe lurks around the corner waiting to strike.

I quite enjoyed the translation of Dreamland. The words and story remained vivid, and though there were one or two places where I giggled at an error, there were much fewer errors in Dreamland than what I regularly read in books written by native speakers. I call that a win!

The story kept me well-entertained and supplied me with moments to stop and think. Then I could feel both for Louie and for his mother.

Had I realized Clausen wrote horror, I may have stayed away from this book; however, Dreamland has very little horror, in my opinion. In reality, it seems more like suspense and paranormal. I have no problem with either of those.

I enjoyed Dreamland and easily recommend it to those who enjoy suspense and paranormal, with a tiny bit of horror thrown in.

The Official Excerpt

“Dreamland is merely a small part of the dreamworld,” his dad said. “All around us is this. I call it the outskirts. That’s where nightmares come from.”
     Louie stared out into the wasteland and felt a growing discomfort.
    “Something lives out there,” his dad went on, his eyes searching the horizon. “Once in a while, they come close enough to the border to be glimpsed. And if you listen carefully, you can hear their voices.”
    Louie held his breath and listened. The silence on this side of the edge was deep and calm, only interrupted by bird song now and then. On the other side, a cold wind howled.
     “Do you hear them?” his dad asked.
     “I only hear the wind.” But as he said it, he realized the wind was the voices. It was a chanting choir of faint fragments; whispering, giggling, alluring.
“… hi, Louuuuie …”
“… how sweet he is …”
“… come out here …”
“… we’ve been waiting for you …”
“… visit us, Louuuuie …”
    They kept saying his name. The sound made him shiver. The voices seemed to rise and fall with the wind, but at the same time, it seemed like they came from inside his head. There was something drawing, almost hypnotic about them. Louie wanted to step closer, just so he could hear them a little more clearly …
     “Louie?”
     Dad’s voice pulled him back, and he looked up.
     “Don’t listen anymore. If you listen for too long, you end up taking the bait. The reason I show you this is so that you can understand where the voice you heard is coming from. It’s the creatures out there who have been trying to reach you through your dreams.”
     Louie stared out into the darkness and tried to see the creatures. He thought he saw a group of glowing, wavy figures in the dark. They stood side by side, twisting in a hypnotic dance. He stepped a little closer to his dad. “What do they want with me?”
    “They want to drown you in bad dreams until your mind breaks down. They will try to lure you any way they can. They will lie and tell you anything to make you follow them. And if you do …” Dad caught Louie’s eyes. “There’s no way back if they catch you …”

More Info

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Book Review: Pulled Under by Rimmy London

Ella lived a normal, happy, single life. But all that changed the day her car refused to start, and she found herself inches from death.

Ella lived a normal, happy, single life. But all that changed the day her car refused to start, and she found herself inches from death.

Author of several books, Rimmy London keeps us entertained with sweet romance and romantic suspense novels. Pulled Under, book one of her romantic suspense duology, sends your heart reeling as you fight the urge to look over your shoulder. I discovered Pulled Under through a Facebook group and purchased it for $.99.

My Thoughts on Pulled Under:

It’s been a few books since I’ve struggled to put one down. Some of my recent choices begged me to stop reading. In fact, I’ve contacted a couple of authors and explained my decision to not publish a review.

Just a little aside: If you write a book, take the time and spend the money to have it edited professionally.

The minute I picked up Pulled Under, I was pulled in. The action and mystery start in the first chapter. And London’s writing entered my mind like a breath of fresh air. Easy to read, strong, and well-edited, this book never caused me to shake my head in despair. Thank you, Rimmy London.

Ella works for a company that uses her more like a secretary than the financial adviser she was hired to be. And it’s a bit frustrating, but as most of us would, she sticks it out, determined to show her boss she can handle anything thrown at her… including his car keys. That’s what he throws at her when her car doesn’t start.

It doesn’t take long for Ella to start wondering what kind of company she works for, especially when Givanni, her boss’s nephew and the company’s CEO, starts hanging around and saving her life.

In time, Ella ends up in Italy where she meets Givanni’s family and his ex-fiance, all while pretending she’s his.

This wild ride is one everyone can enjoy. Sauve Italians, supermodel-like ex-girlfriends, and a down-to-earth country girl. I enjoyed every minute of reading Pulled Under, and the proof is in my unfinished housework!

The official blurb:

Pretending to be in a fake engagement might fool his family, but it doesn’t convince others. And they’re coming…

Ella is left fighting to keep them together in a world that’s falling apart. 

Givanni, the company CEO and nephew to President Ginetti, seemed the genuine good guy. But there was something hiding behind his emerald eyes. 

When Loriel borrows her new boss’s car, it nearly costs her life. Now, she wants to know why. But her determination to uncover the truth only pulls her deeper into a world with a level of crime she didn’t believe existed. And she’s quickly in over her head. 

But, suddenly bound for Italy pretending to be in a fake engagement is going to be hard. Everything quickly becomes tangled until her heart isn’t certain what’s real or fake. And even while pondering their relationship, it’s clear that Italy was less of an escape than they thought. Because facing a group as powerful as the Italian Mafia is impossible.

Bruised and defeated, they’re faced with a future where they might not make it out alive, let alone together.  

More Info:

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Book Review: The Queen of Moloka’i Book 1

From before the Great War to after, Julia Wright yearns for romance, but romance often leads to hardship.

From before the Great War to after, Julia Wright yearns for romance, but romance often leads to hardship. With two young boys born out of wedlock, she soon realizes it isn’t romance she seeks but love in The Queen of Moloka’i.

The Queen of Moloka’i, written by Kirby Michael Wright, is based on the true story of Julia Wright, the author’s grandmother. Winner of the 2018 Redwood Empire Mensa Award for Creative Nonfiction, Wright’s story-telling brings this creative memoir to life.

My Thoughts on The Queen of Moloka’i

The Queen of Moloka’i contains the story of Julia Wright, a teenager during the Great War who reached womanhood as the roaring twenties approached. At sixteen, Julia finds herself pregnant by an Englishman who promises to send for her but abandons her instead. Then, a rebound relationship leaves her pregnant a second time, and she finds herself with two young boys and no husband.

Julia loved life and dreamed of settling down with someone willing to love her in return. Chipper, a boy she’d admired as a youth, returns from the war divorced and interested in her. And soon she finds herself living in the country while trying to prove herself capable of a cowboy wife’s life, without her children and still unmarried.

Julia and Chipper circa 1921.

This book starts by running through a bit of genealogy. We learn of Julia’s mother an grandmother and their marriages. Some details are given, but not much. We do learn that Julia’s grandmother was Hawaiian which, during Julia’s lifetime, was not the desired bloodline for someone looking to be successful. However, Julia’s Caucasian appearance usually allowed her to mix with either cultural group.

The story of Julia is quite impressive. In the early 20th century giving birth outside of marriage painted an unwanted picture, and Julia experienced two such pregnancies. The way her family handled the situation tells readers about their love for her and each other.

At the same time, I really got the feel for the way men treated women. Julia’s independence brought smiles to my face, even as I wished she could find more.

I found the story interesting but realized quickly that the writing suffers from what I call itinerary syndrome. Most of the sentences started the same way and were similar in length. To me, it felt as if I were reading bullet points. Eventually, I found myself noticing this style-choice less. Especially, once Julia and Chipper found themselves working on a ranch. I often found myself wondering if the writing-style was intended to imitate the patterns of speech found on the islands, but having never been there, I couldn’t say for certain.

I also found the dialect features Wright included difficult, yet fun. I liked reading written dialect and hearing what people sounded like. There is a good amount of native Hawaiian in the book, and a glossary is found in the back. Those reading digital copies may struggle flipping back and forth more than those reading print copies. For this reason, I suggest print copies over digital, which I almost never say.

The Queen of Moloka’i reads like a memoir, but Wright informs readers that the storyline has been changed in some places for literary purposes. Though I believe the majority of the story remains factual, It would be nice to know what isn’t.

Overall, I found this book to be a worthwhile read. Those who enjoy creative nonfiction books will probably enjoy it quite a bit.

More Info:

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Book Review: The Governess

Despite an abusive husband and rumors circulating through top society, Jane finds a position in the home of society’ finest, in The Governess.

Despite being thrown out of her precious home by an abusive husband and the terrible rumors surrounding her name, Jane finds work in one of the finest households in Berkshire in The Governess.

Noorilhuda, a debut author, has written a story filled with personal trials. Characters overcome grief, abuse, and gossip. The storyline carries through The Governess well, but it is one book with several areas that require readers' caution.

My Thoughts on The Governess

I picked up a copy of The Governess after receiving a review request from Noorilhuda through email that included dates the book would be free on Amazon.

Touted as a well-received, and well-reviewed by such organizations as The Historical Novel Society and Midwest Book Review, I expected more than I should have from The Governess.

Instead of a well-edited and researched story, I found the shell of a novel, that with a little work, could have been a wonderful read. Sadly, the editing felt non-existent. Lines of dialogue were clumped together in single paragraphs, one speaker on top of another. And without proper formatting and few dialogue tags, there are still some lines my mind has not assigned to a specific character. Though editing was the biggest problem, it was far from the only one.

Descriptions of orange trees and mangoes growing in the cold England climate immediately caught my attention, as did the use of certain words within characters' thoughts that were non-existent in during the 1830s, such as peeved. They stood out. Other times, words with similar phonetics were found instead of the correct words, reminding me of such phrases as for all intensive purposes.

Suggested as a clean book, The Governess mentions the main aspect of sex several times in one line zingers that sometimes come out of nowhere. The most memorable comes when John Lockwood is lamenting the death of his wife, which occurred more than five years earlier—the deed, which is described in one line quite crudely—is what comes to his mind instead of her true characteristics and his purpose for loving her. It struck me as odd. That said, there is no explicit sex scene or scenes that required skipping pages, just lines that I wanted to black out with a Sharpie.

The shell of the story is decent. A woman, accused of having an affair, who has been thrown out on her ear by her husband and society, becomes the governess to children of one of society's elite. Something much of society finds egregious. Moreover, the children's widowed father has an affair with a married woman who is also well-respected in society, despite everyone's knowledge of their fraternizing.

Through the slow-moving story, the governess affects the household and changes within the home weave their way into the pages. A great deal about Mr. Lockwood's mistress could be left out. But other than that, the pacing is reasonable for the genre.

Though The Governess intended Jane to be the main character, I struggle to say that she is. I find John Lockwood, the widowed father, struggles most with inner turmoils and that he is the character who shows the most growth. Whereas Jane tends to stand her ground through every bit of turmoil. She shows strength despite her nasty plight. Most of her growth takes place in the backstory, enabling her to be the moral beacon in the Lockwood home.

Obviously, this is not a book I recommend. However, if you choose to pick it up, I hope the information found here enables you look past the errors and enjoy the storyline.

The Official Blurb

“You make it seem like the cross was yours to bear, alone, do you really think you are brave? Let me tell you, who the brave one is, it’s each and every member of your family who didn’t slap you silly the first time you went awry, the first time you brushed your children aside for merriment. It’s your children, Mr. Lockwood, they are the courageous ones. Not you, you are nothing but a coward. And all for what? For your own selfish needs and whims, your own desire to be alone and free. Free from pain, was it? Or do you really want to leave a debauched legacy? Well, are you free Mr. Lockwood? I don’t see any shackles on you; Are you free from the pain and happy, truly happy?……No passion is great enough for you to lose sight of what’s your duty, and the right thing to do. For that is not passion, but madness. You’re mad Mr. Lockwood, completely, utterly, mad.”

Thus begins the fiery odd relationship between Jane, the governess, and her employer, the widowed landowner John E. Lockwood. But Jane has her own crucible as well, and it's hers to bear alone. Find out what Jane, The Governess, is made of. After all, True Worth has no regrets and takes no detours. Should you?

A movingly passionate and introspective character analysis of lonely people living through emotional abuse, grief, and guilt.

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Book Review: The Spec Set

Spending several weeks of his summer at a geeky science camp babysitting his odd younger brother isn’t the highlighted path E wants to travel.

Spending several weeks of his summer at a geeky science camp while babysitting his odd younger brother isn’t the highlighted path E wants to travel. Then, to top it all off, paths surround him as he and his brother become the focus of the FBI in The Spect Set.

Taya Okerlund creates a remarkable story that follows two brothers on the unexpected adventure of their lives. And though Max, the younger brother, knows of his talents, Emile (E) is just discovering his. A fun YA story filled with excitement, The Spec Set is one I enjoyed reading.

My Thoughts on the Spec Set:

Told through the eyes of Emile, the Spec Set brings the fun vernacular of a teenage boy burdened by too much responsibility for a younger sibling. What makes it worse? Max doesn’t speak. On the rare occasion he does, the single word response hardly covers the required answer. Though watching his brother at science camp isn’t an idea E likes, he still stands up for him regularly. Luckily, Lilly, the latest pain in his side, likes Max and helps out as much as she can. Eventually, when E’s own reality seems to explode, Lilly and Max let him in on a little secret, and he meets the rest of the Spec Set.

I quite enjoyed reading this fun story. Much of Max’s characteristics are obviously written in a way that leads the reader to believe he has Autism with selective mutism. Having a child of my own with Autism, I found the writing well-done. In fact, the story follows kids with conditions who have developed superpowers. The story states clearly they are not savants, but, wow, do they have talents!

So often, incredible children with neuro-diversities are left by the wayside, uncelebrated despite their amazing talents and qualities. The Spec Set may be science fiction but the preface behind it isn’t.

The book could use a good proofread. There are several instances of simple mistakes, usually out of place or incorrect words. It did affect my attention to a degree, and I would preface this point before handing it to my children to read. The story is squeaky clean and perfect for both boys and girls of any age, though readability probably begins with middle graders.

The Official Blurb:

Copernicus Science camp looks harmless enough on the surface, at least no one will tell you otherwise, least of all Max McKenzie, who doesn’t speak at all. He can’t even defend himself when he’s implicated in a high stakes chemical theft from the camp lab. Or can he?

His brother Emile is desperate to help, but he’s waking up to his own problems–chief among them the fact that he’s developed an incredible (and incredibly dangerous) new ability. He doesn’t know how to control his awesome new power, and turns to the one person he’s loathe to ask: Lilly Fang.

Lilly has everything under control, including other people’s biochemistry. (Or is Emile really that crazy about her?) Either way, she’s hiding a boat-load of secrets (and secret powers).

Lilly assembles a team of friends like none Emile’s ever dreamed of to help Max.

There’s Fetu, a near giant, whose presence alone seems to suck the air out of the room. Or does he do that literally?

And Danika, who’s so shy she seems to fade right into the background. Or does she actually become invisible?

And Eliza, who never lifts a finger–but is that because she lifts things with her mind? 

The Spec Set will need all of their combined strengths (and their weaknesses) to combat a threat reaching all the way go to another universe.

More info:

Purchase your copy of the Spec Set on Amazon
Follow Taya Okerlund on Goodreads

I received an ARC copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
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