Iron Garland – The Heat Gets Turned Up

Iron Garland

the Harbinger series

By Jeff Wheeler

Spoiler Alert!

 

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Summary

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jeff Wheeler continues his majestic Harbinger series in a world where motivations are as mysterious as magic.

For three years, Sera Fitzempress has been a pawn in a gilded prison—the floating manor of Pavenham Sky. Disgraced and exiled from society, she has been isolated from the downtrodden she’s determined to liberate. But although Sera may seem subservient on the outside, the stubborn princess has only become emboldened.

Now in charge of her family’s estate, Cettie Pratt has grown into an independent young woman, although she continues to be tested by the high society of the clouds. Advancing in the magic of the Mysteries, Cettie is also a useful tool of defense during turbulent times. However, as more of Cettie’s mysterious past comes to light, her greatest challenge may be a reckless stranger with a dark secret.

The fog of war is drawing in, and with it comes a startling new enemy who may unravel secrets that both women would prefer stay hidden. But their secrets may be the only way to stop the coming darkness…  (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I received an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the author of Iron Garland in exchange for my honest opinion.

We enter the scene three years later, and Sera and Cettie have both matured and grown. Their circumstances and responsibilities have formed them into new people – but better.

Sera is more reticent, keeps her own counsel and has unintentionally learned the art of manipulation. That may sound like a negative, but because she’s honest she works through this as well as other issues.

Cettie has the responsibility of caring for the family home and has earned the respect of many, though there are some who just can’t get past her background. As the threads in the story twisted and reformed, I found myself spinning as I wondered what would happen next. And don’t forget romance brewing around every corner. Who will she turn to?

I know that Wheeler doesn’t mind having these go awry and I still don’t have a clear picture where this tale will land in the next book! I love a good surprise.

Iron Garland has been my favorite in the Harbinger series because the intensity is ramping up exponentially. This series is a must read for fantasy lovers.

I also love the covers! I find them artistic and refreshing. Let me know what’s your favorite part in the series.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

 

If you love Jeff Wheeler, check out Patrick W. Carr – I love his characters too. If you need the best laugh in a month, try reading E.M. Foner – his Union Station books are one of my favorites.

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Something Lost – a collection of Flash Fiction by LDS Beta Readers

Something Lost

Spoiler Alert!

 By Britney Gulbrandsen, Becca McColloch, M.C. Leavitt, Kaki Olsen, Anna Sapp, Joel Rees, Rebecca Palmer, Lauren Ritz, Whitney Hemsath, Deanna Young, Kurt Kammeyer, Kenneth Chamberlian, Sierra Wilson, Jean Newman and Jenny Rabe

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Summary

It’s said that the only constants are death and taxes, but no person is immune to loss. We misplace car keys. We lose jobs. Death affects us all. Loss comes in a thousand forms and the stories in this anthology, each by a different author, addresses the subject in a thousand words. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

As with any collection, some stories are going to speak to a reader more than others. I’ve still rated the collection at five stars because of the diversity and my thorough pleasure in reading flash fiction. I found To Mark the Time the most heartrending of the stories, though there are several tear jerkers.

Tell me which stories you liked the best!

Here’s a brief summary:

The Photograph by Britney Gulbransen: How do we react when someone seeks forgiveness? Even when they don’t deserve it.

To Mark the Time by Becca McColloch: When we don’t understand another, we just don’t know their background and if we did, it would change everything.

Wandering Souls by M.C. Leavitt: What if one lost their way? Is there a way back? Even among fairies and demons?

Among the Stars by Kaki Olsen: What if there was no way back? How would you find peace in your corner of the universe?

Eddie by Anna Sapp: Does our pain rewrite our destiny? How does our pain affect others?

First Cut by Joel Mathew Rees: What happens when you love one another but can’t live up to the ideal.

Grandpa’s Postcards by Rebecca Palmer: Shared grief. Is it harder when it’s unexpected?

Groupthink by Lauren Ritz: When ideals fail the young and they must accept the consequences, even when they’ve rebuilt a world they didn’t imagine. Freedom is more precious than we think.

Life in the ‘Hood by Misty Sutton: How often are our toughest critics the ones we love? We all make choices and keep moving forward.

Little One by Jean Newman: A young mother never realizes their child growing up will feel as fast as flash fiction, but it’s so true.

Losing the Magic by Whitney Hemsath: Have you ever had to scurry to be the tooth fairy? If not, you will.

Our Spot by Deanna Young: Who needs to move on? The dead or the living?

Something Blue by Jenny Rabe: Why do we allow others to define us? On the other hand, sometimes we need a boost to see our true value.

Starshot by Kurt F. Kammeyer: What happens back home when loved ones are off to the stars? Are the stars for mankind?

Take off by Kenneth Chamberlain: Do you have a need for speed? With engines roaring? What happens when it stops? Where would you be?

The Nail in the Forest by Sierra Wilson: Sometimes we need to forge out on our own, even when risking the security of a known life. Love it worth it.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

 

If you like anthologies of short stories pick up Writers of the Future!

 

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Writers of the Future vol. 34 – A Fantasy and Science Fiction Anthology

Writers of the Future vol. 34

Spoiler Alert!

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Mara’s Shadow

By Darci Stone

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Illustrated by Quintin Gleim

Summary

Mara’s Shadow draws on the mix of science and adventure found in the works of Michael Crichton and her husband’s phobia of moths.

Adult Point of View

Instead of reviewing every story in the anthology, I decided to pick my favorite. Mara’s Shadow was my top pick because of the detail and interesting take on combining mythology and science.

The mythology, as written by Stone, is that there was an isolated group of people with a strict band on which color of people could be married. By color, I mean if you were blue or yellow – the color was used to identify people in a similar fashion to a tribe. The taboo was that if the two different groups were to mix, then their children would suffer, being under Mara’s shadow.

The science behind the story forms around a group of scientists working on solving an unknown disease. The facts don’t seem to add correctly with everything they know. As more and more people contract symptoms, it becomes evident that the disease is becoming a plague. Ngo Lien, one of the primary scientist is searching for the point of origin of the disease to try to learn how it spread. She becomes more motivated as she watches more people dying. Can she save humanity?

I recommend the entire anthology. It’s great to see what is being written by contemporary authors as well as a peak from the past.

I would love to hear back from you on which one was your favorite in this anthology.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

 

Brandon Sanderson contributes a short story from his Way of Kings series. Of course, I loved it but wanted to give time to a new author in this review.

There were many stories that I loved and you’ll find them when you read the anthology.

 

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The Paramedic’s Second Chance – Love In Lavender

The Paramedic’s Second Chance

A Hawthorne Harbor Romance

By Elana Johnson

Spoiler Alert!

 

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Summary

A widowed florist, her ten-year-old daughter, and the paramedic who delivered the girl a decade earlier… Love’s second chance on the beach!

Paramedic Andrew Herrin delivered Gretchen Samuels’s daughter on the side of the road when she and her husband couldn’t make it to the hospital in time. When their paths cross again in small-town Hawthorn Harbor, she’s a widow and the baby is ten-year-old Dixie.

Dixie gets along great with Drew, and Gretchen finds herself falling in love with the man who’d rescued her twice now. But when Drew’s ex-girlfriend comes back to town, Gretchen’s trust issues rear their ugly head. Can she and Drew find their way toward finding love in the lavender?

This is a full-length sweet/clean contemporary beach romance in the vein of your favorite Hallmark movie by USA Today bestselling author Elana Johnson.

(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I’ve discovered that two of the most popular genres of books purchased are horror and romance. With that in mind, I’ve decided to read a few romance novels again – even though I’d previously given up because everything I’d found left me a little cold. I believe one of the ways to really enjoy a sweet contemporary romance is to suspend disbelief. This is the same thing we do when reading a fantasy with dragons or other monsters, so why not in a romance?

I’m noticing that the sweet contemporary romance genre is a master of finding a fun quirk for the characters to focus on. In this story, Drew is a paramedic, his family owns a lavender farm and he’s obsessed with making ice cream. Gretchen has lost her husband, is trying to make ends meet as a single mom and follow her dream as a florist. Match made in heaven? Or at least in a lavender field? Not until they have plenty of misunderstandings, and agonize over moments wondering why they’ve fallen for the other person, who has become unobtainable for said misunderstandings.

I’ve decided I’m a fan of this style of romance because I know it won’t get too racy, the characters are always fun and quirky, and in the end, I know it will work out. The fun is along the path, seeing how the author will create a happily ever after.

4 out of 5 stars

4 star

  • Michelle

If you’ve enjoyed The Paramedic’s Second Chance try anything by Chelsea Hale. As an author, she promises nothing but sparkles and butterflies. I just finished her book, The Undercover Resort Billionaire.

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Ghostsitter – How Hard Can It Be? They Don’t Need Snacks or Baths!

Ghostsitter

By Shelly Brown

Spoiler Alert!

 

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Summary

Tiffany Hart dreams of one thing, to be class president. But dreams turn to nightmares when she ends up almost dead in an abandoned slaughterhouse and develops the gift of ghost-seeing. Unfortunately she only knows one person who can help her shake her ghoulish problem, her neighbor and the weirdest boy at school, Justin Henderson. Justin has been seeing spirits since he was nine, a creepy claim that has earned him the privilege of eating lunch by himself for years. Together they start to unravel a mystery with dead orphans, a white witch, and phantom spiders. To save their lives (and afterlives of innocent children) they must face a terrifying specter and a ghastly woman who isn’t afraid of hurting kids, dead or alive. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Initially, I was quite worried about Tiffany as a character. She’s caught up in teen drama and concerned only for herself. At times, she’s even mean to Justin, her friend since elementary school. Tiffany has a change of heart, and even though she would like to be class president, she learns who true friends are and how they’re the ones who stand by you in hard times. When Tiffany says, she’s basically a babysitter for ghosts I just about died laughing. Really, can it be that hard? She will attest to the fact that it’s harder than it looks. Ghosts don’t need to sleep but we do, so right there is one of the problems of being a ghostsitter.

Justin is a mixed bag and doesn’t feel like he fits in. He’s big, smells like burnt sage (a sure-fire recipe to keep ghosts away – as well as friends) and he sees ghosts, at least on every Wednesday. To make matters worse, he’s had a crush on Tiffany for years – for reasons even he can’t explain.

As the scenes develop, I was surprised to see that the book was spookier than the cover indicated. I actually think having it a little scarier is better. Too often, I’ve heard my kids complain that books don’t do a good enough job. If it has ghosts they want it scary. Ghostsitter is layered with problems and ghosts, who each have their own reason for coming around. There were moments when I laughed – cue the spiders to enter – and times when I thought, “Oh no! What’s next?” A screaming woman in the graveyard that seems bent on your destruction is not the kind of outing one hopes for, especially with a parade of ghosts following you everywhere. Where is there peace for the dead? Tiffany and Justin work together to find the answer to this very question.

To find out more get Ghostsitter immediately, it will grab you as surely as a ghost in a graveyard! This is a middle-grade book but I think kids as old as 14 could still enjoy it.

4.5 out of 5 stars

4 1:2 star

  • Michelle

 

If you’ve enjoyed Ghostsitter, try Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George and Happenstance Found by P.W. Cantanese.

 

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Mirror Gate – Enter a World of Mystery

Mirror Gate

the Harbinger series

By Jeff Wheeler

Spoiler Alert!

 

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Summary

Though relations between Princess Seraphin Fitzempress and her father have been strained, Sera’s royal position has remained unchallenged. Filled with self-doubt, she struggles to grasp the Mysteries—her greatest trial yet.

An education in the enigmatic magic is a necessary one, should Sera plan to rise in her station and invoke her powers during the war. But the emperor’s death now leaves both Sera and her ambitious father eligible for the throne—a contest the prince regent intends to win. Even if it means an alliance with a rival empire.

Sera’s hope lies in Cettie, a waif raised in the world below, whose life has intertwined with Sera’s in the most unexpected ways. The Mysteries come easily to Cettie, and her studies have begun to yield new insight into her growing powers. But those same powers put Cettie in the path of those who would destroy her.

Now as the threat of war ignites and an insidious sickness spreads throughout the kingdom, Sera and Cettie will need to gather their courage and fight for each other’s lives…and for the future of their endangered world. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Jeff Wheeler, and this is no exception. I didn’t realize how the world Cettie and Sera live in relates to his Muirwood series until this book. I still think you can read the Harbinger series without having read the Muirwood books, but it will add more depth to your understanding of this world if you’ve read the series that was the springboard for all of his series. The Harbinger series also connects with the Kingfountain series, but again it isn’t absolutely essential to have read that series to understand the current.

My two favorite characters are Sera and Cettie. They’re different from each other and both learning new lessons about their roles and their limitations.

Sera and Cettie have been roommates at school, even though they are quite different and from different backgrounds. Sera has been whisked away for a meeting when her grandfather has passed away without an heir. She doesn’t feel like she’s made a very good showing in front of the council. When a threat arises at the school, everyone assumes it’s directed at Sera, as a potential heir to the throne. This dynamic combined with politics directed at Kingfountain’s prince, and the old letters Sera gave to Will, creates a set of circumstances where the hopeful princess must make a series of choices. Being naive she doesn’t always choose well, but she is honest. Through her quest for the crown, she discovers her desire to rules stems from being able to help the people rather than to aggrandize herself.

Cettie has always been humble and is in awe over learning the Mysteries. She also discovers that many others support her, like teachers, her “adoptive” parents, and other friends. Even with their support and her newfound knowledge, it is up to her to face her fears. She is the only one who can dismiss them. Cettie worries for the future, but is ready to accept challenges. One of the problems being set up for another book is her love life. She is sought after by one and loves another. And it’s more complicated than that, but I don’t want to spoil too much. She is of such high moral character I wonder how everything will work out. From past experience, I know Wheeler doesn’t feel like he has to give us the answer we want.

I highly recommend this book along with all of the others written by Jeff Wheeler.

4 out of 5 stars

4 star

  • Michelle

 

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Carrick House – A Novelette in Shelley Adina’s Steampunk World

Carrick House

Magnificent Devices

By Shelley Adina

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Who said life is but a dream after the wedding?

Married eight months, Lady Claire Trevelyan and Dr. Andrew Malvern are blissfully working together on a new invention, and providing a home for a collection of street sparrows. Then Claire’s mother, the redoubtable Lady Jermyn, arrives with her family in tow and expects to stay indefinitely … Peony Churchill turns up on the doorstep with valise in hand … and raffish cousin Claude comes for a visit …

While separately any of these would be most welcome, together they are overwhelming. Claire and Andrew flee to Athena for a bit of breathing room. But the last thing they expect is to have their airship hijacked … with Claire’s little brother Nicholas still aboard …

(Courtesy of shelleyadina.com)

Adult Point of View

Wow! What a twist on characters. If for no other reason, read Carrick House to get the inside scoop on characters – and their true colors.

Is Claire as charming as you always thought? Is Claire’s mother actually a scheming money-grabbing socialite? Is Andrew devoted to his wife or science? Has Peony and her mother been honest with their charitable actions? Has Claude just been misunderstood? Answers to these trumped up questions, and more await inside Carrick House.

I’m just playing around with the questions, and one shouldn’t take them seriously – but there really are character developments which I thought changed the entire series. I don’t want to be the one to spoil your fun, and this is why you’re getting such a short review. I will add, there are chickens in this novel too, as another bonus. And there might be some gamboling. And even life changing news! Is that enough hints?

I’ve loved the steampunk work that Adina has created and pretty much love playing around in her world. I think her writing should captivate readers of historical romance, steampunk and regency novels. If you haven’t given it a try start with The Lady of Devices and then you can have as much fun as I’ve had in this one, number fourteen.

4 out of 5 stars

4 star

  • Michelle

 

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