Tag Archives: new book

The Axe by Linda Griffin in the Featured New Book Spotlight


Let’s welcome Linda Griffin back to West of Mars!

If you’ve missed her in the past, you can catch up with her here:
Guilty Knowledge
Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking
Reluctant Hearts

Look at that backlist! If you haven’t explored it yet, why not? It’s all right there, so have some fun!

Today, though, Linda is back with a new book. This time, it’s called The Axe, and somehow, I don’t think we’re talking about the body spray.

But before we get into what sort of Axe we’re talking about, let’s get into the tunes. I mean, let’s face it. Tunes make the world a happier place. Although it’s true that so do good books.

So… Linda Griffin, what song makes you think of your new book, The Axe?

“Lizzie Borden” by the Rumjacks because the murder victims were “hacked to death in daylight.” But remember that Lizzie Borden was acquitted…

Oh, my! WHAT are we in for????

(Also, this song? Is wild, y’all, as one of my editing clients would say.)

Here’s the book description. Are you ready? I am sure curious!

Sweethearts Eric Leidheldt and Desiree Chauveau are spending a weekend at his uncle’s cabin when they encounter two strangers cutting wood. Eric is knocked unconscious, and Desi is viciously attacked. The following day two police officers come to their apartment to arrest Desi. Her assailants are dead, murdered with an axe, and her fingerprints are on it. She confesses–but is she really guilty? Eric is determined to stand by her, but the physical and emotional effects of the attack severely challenge their relationship.

WHAT???? This sounds crazy, and in all the good, nightmarish ways. (Or am I the only one who’s been terrified of being framed for something I never did? Really?)

Grab a copy because hello, what’s really going on here?
Google Play

Remember, if you pick it up and read it, the best way to thank an author is to buy a second copy for a friend. The second best way is to tell a friend about it. And the third best? Leave an online review!

Also, connect with Linda online.

One more thing to keep in mind: I do this as a labor of love to help out my fellow authors. If you’re an author, or if you have a friend who is, or heck, even an enemy, send ’em over to fill out the form and I’ll feature them as well.


Featured New Book: Wedding Bliss by ME Sutton


This has been a funny week, because I’ve had two authors fighting over the spotlight this week!

Okay, not fighting in the traditional sense, but … oh, it’s a long story. What makes it funny is that the two authors involved have strong ties to West of Mars. I’m feeling very good right now, knowing my plans to build community, not just be an editor, are working. (and yes, there’s room for you to join in. So join us!)

Mary Duncan 1


Yes, today’s guest is our good friend M. E. Sutton. You may recognize her. She’s got a new book in her Middle Grade series out today and I’ve read it. Let me tell you: this series is just getting better and better. (Okay, I lied. I haven’t read this one. Yet.)

So, Mary, what song makes you think of Wedding Bliss?

Okay, it is genre inappropriate. It might be age inappropriate, I’m not sure. But I absolutely cannot think of the word “wedding” without thinking of Billy Idol’s WHITE WEDDING. I’m not exactly sure why. The lyrics of the song don’t really relate to the subject matter of the book. But the two are twined in my mind. And maybe that’s not the most horrible thing. When the song hit it’s popularity (1982) I was, um, much younger than I am now. Billy stayed popular while I went through middle school, the same age Jaycee is in the book. So when I went to dances, or hung out with my friends, chances are I would hear WHITE WEDDING. So when I hear it now, on the Sirius/XM 80s channel, it takes me back to eighth grade. Not all of my memories of that time are fantastic, but the song always makes me smile. Here it is on YouTube.

We won’t discuss how old I was before I understood what White Wedding was actually about. So yeah, this isn’t terribly appropriate… but who cares! That’s the beauty of inspiration. You never know what’ll make it take hold or where it’ll take you.
Ready for what the book’s actually about, since it’s not about sneers and bleached hair and bad 80s fashion?
Lyla has long believed that Roger and Lady Starla belong together even though Roger insists that Starla is above his station. When handsome and noble Perry Goodhaven shows up and wins the lady’s affection, it seems at quick glance a more fitting match.

Soon after Perry’s arrival, Roger and other servants close to Lady Starla notice a change. She sleeps a lot more than usual, is lethargic when she is awake, and defers important decision-making to Perry.

With Roger incarcerated over false accusations of treason, it is up to Jaycee, aka Lyla Stormbringer, to clear Roger’s name and uncover the truth about the man positioning himself to rule Mallory with an iron fist.


Nice! No Billy Idol in there, indeed. Unless he wants to play Perry Goodhaven in the movie version. (I’m hoping Mary didn’t just spit her coffee at her monitor.)

Pick up your very own copy. Bill Idol not included.

*Note about availability: the book’s right now only at Amazon, but will arrive at all other platforms in the fall. Can I wait that long? Ugh. Perhaps not.


Connect with Mary!

Author site






Featured New Book: The King’s Redress by Devorah Fox


It was only a couple of months ago that Devorah Fox stopped in to tell us about a book. And she’s back! We love repeat visitors here at West of Mars, so we’re more than glad to host Devorah today with her new book, The King’s Redress.


As always, before we tell you about the book, let’s start with the important stuff: the music. And let me tell you, this music is a doozy.

That would have to be “Candleman” by Billy McLaughlin.

There are a number of military campaigns in The King’s Redress and the song’s steady rhythm is like the movement of an army on a march. The percussion sounds like the clopping of a horse’s hooves and the guitar fingering ebbs and flows like the rising and falling action of a story. There’s a Celtic hint to the tune that calls up images of hard life in ancient times. When I hear the song’s final fade I picture a trail that cuts through rolling terrain narrowing as it approaches the horizon, and finally disappearing, like the tale reaching its conclusion. However, just as that road continues on the other side of that hill, albeit out of sight, King Bewilliam’s story may stretch beyond the last page of this volume.

Despite the odds, King Bewilliam persists in his struggle to attain his goals. McLaughlin’s personal story of triumph over adversity is inspiring in its own right.


Okay, guess what? I’ve never heard of Billy McLaughlin. If you haven’t, either, check him out. What a touch this man has on a guitar string. Wow.

So what’s the book about? Other than about a king? Well…

When everyone you trust turns against you, what do you do? Dragon slayer of renown, Robin, King Bewilliam, has bested both man and beast to battle his way back to the Chalklands and reunite with his sons, but discord threatens the kingdom’s hard-won peace and prosperity. War breaks out and Robin finds that there is no one he can trust, not even his closest knights. Fighting for his throne pits him against a shocking, unsuspected rival. With his own life and lives of all his imperiled subjects at stake, Robin faces off against his fiercest enemy in mortal combat.

What a contrast to Naked Came the Sharks, huh? Devorah, my friend, your range is impressive!

If you’re as intrigued as I am, here’s the links you need:



Connect with Devorah while you’re at it.






Featured New Book: Hurricane Crimes by Chrys Fey


Chrys Fey dropped into my inbox out of the blue. No idea whose friend she is, who sent her to me, or … well, anything! Except she’s got amazing, positive energy and I like her already.

She’s bringing us her debut today, a slick-looking book called Hurricane Crimes.


Before we get to the blurb, Chrys, what song makes you think of your book?

Hurricane by 30 Seconds to Mars

Hurricane Crimes, my short romantic-suspense story, is about a woman who finds herself trapped with a man during a category 5 hurricane. Not only does the title of this song fit the theme of my debut eBook perfectly, it is also by my favorite band.

The lyrics in “Hurricane” remind me of Beth Kennedy and Donovan Goldwyn. Beth wants to escape Donovan, but the hurricane forces her to stay inside with a man she can’t trust. There is even a scene where she asks him if he is going to kill her, and a line in the song closely resembles that question. As hours go by, a fire starts to burn between them, a passion that neither of them can deny, but could kill at least one of them.

I included a video that has the lyrics for anyone interested in knowing the words.

NICE!!! I love meeting new authors who love the same music I do. Chrys, I hope you’ll hang out here at West of Mars more often. This is where the cool kids play.

So… how about a book description?

After her car breaks down, Beth Kennedy is forced to stay in Florida, the target of Hurricane Sabrina. She stocks up supplies, boards up windows, and hunkers down to wait out the storm, but her plan unravels when she witnesses a car accident. Risking her life, she braves the winds to save the driver. Just when she believes they are safe, she finds out the man she saved could possibly be more dangerous than the severe weather.

Donovan Goldwyn only wanted to hide from the police, but the hurricane shoved his car into a tree. Now he’s trapped with a beautiful woman while the evidence that can prove his innocence to a brutal crime is out there for anyone to find.

As Hurricane Sabrina wreaks havoc, Beth has no other choice but to trust Donovan to stay alive. But will she survive, or will she become another hurricane crime?

You Kindle users are in luck; the rest of us aren’t. The novella (51 pages!) is only available at Amazon right now.

Need some links? Of course you do!
Google +


Featured New Book: Maestro by Thomma Lyn Grindstaff


No better way to start off Rocktober than with a dear, dear friend of mine. Thomma Lyn is one of those people who are so musical, it just flows out of them. She’s recording her own music, too, and is a heck of writer.

She, my friends, is the complete package.

Her new book, Maestro, came out just a few weeks ago, so let’s get right down to business.


TL, what song makes you think of your book?

This one’s easy. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. This lush and romantic concerto plays a crucial role in the story of Maestro in that it enables the heroine, pianist Annasophia, to travel back in time and meet Maestro, her dear friend and mentor, at a time when he was young, vigorous, and close to her own age.

Here’s a YouTube link to a great version of Concerto No. 2, as played by Sviatoslav Richter, concert pianist extraordinaire and one of the inspirations for Maestro’s character.

So what is the book about? After a tease like that, stop holding out!

For Annasophia and Maestro, their love is ageless, and music is their door through time.

Annasophia Flynn is a young, classically-trained pianist and singer-songwriter who enjoys a special bond with Wilhelm Dahl, her older mentor and teacher whom she affectionately calls Maestro. Maestro is terminally ill, and Annasophia must come to grips with the fact that she’ll have to say goodbye to him soon.

But not so fast. Annasophia receives a mysterious email to which is attached a photo of her standing by the side of a virile and much-younger Maestro, years before she was born and during the height of his fame and power as a concert pianist. Either somebody’s doing some serious Photoshopping, or Annasophia traveled — or will travel — back in time, meaning that there’s more to her relationship with Maestro than meets the eye.

She visits Maestro in the hospital and shows him the photo. When he talks about a mysterious door and hums a few bars of a romantic Rachmaninoff concerto much beloved by them both, she is compelled to go home and play the piece on her piano. The concerto indeed turns out to be a door back through time, where she meets the younger Maestro, and they fall in love.

But staying in younger Maestro’s time proves tricky. For one thing, he has a son who will never be conceived or born if Annasophia stays and changes things. She starts to second guess herself and tries to go back to her own time, only to find, each time, that the timeline as she has known it has been altered. For another thing, Maestro’s very elegant and cunning ex-wife, Elena, is determined to get him back and makes up her mind to do everything she can to send Annasophia back to her own timeline for good, where she will have to say goodbye to Maestro forever.

You need a copy. I know you do.


Want to hang with me and the other cool kids and fans of TL?



Featured New Book: Louder than Love by Jessica Topper


The best part of running the Featured New Book spotlight is learning new things about casual acquaintances. Jessica Topper is one such lady — she dropped into my inbox with the news that she’d been hiding the fact that she and I are soul sisters!

Read on… you’ll see why.


I’ve had a rock and roll day job for the past decade, and I’ve spent my evenings over the last five years writing this novel, so you could say that I eat, breathe and sleep music! LOUDER THAN LOVE features a recluse guitarist as one of its main characters (I call him my “heavy metal hero with a heart of gold”) and music weaves through the entire story, but if I had to pick just one song that makes me think of my book, it would be “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters.

Most people are probably familiar with the electric version from the radio and album, but lately I cannot stop listening to this amazing acoustic version, featuring just Dave Grohl, a mic (along with a little bit of piano) and a guitar. I just love his slow and soulful treatment of it and the way it builds up to that powerful, passionate rock finish before dwindling down gently one last time. If I may be so bold, I think it perfectly parallels the way my story unfolds!

The chorus of “it’s times like these…you learn to live again” and “it’s times like these…you learn to love again” certainly resonates throughout the story as you meet Katrina Lewis, a level-headed librarian who has lost her husband in a freak train accident, and Adrian “Digger” Graves, a recovering and reclusive British rock star living quietly under the radar on Manhattan’s tony Central Park West.

Kat’s life has always had order and she is very focused; she’s like the “one way motorway” described in the song. She can’t make sense of staying where her husband Pete existed one day and not the next, so she has fled Manhattan with her infant daughter Abbey to the place where she existed before she knew him. In the sleepy suburban home of her childhood, she begins to heal through the comfort of a close-knit group of girlfriends.

Before being literally and figuratively burned by the music industry, Digger Graves had had the 80s rock world by its spandex-clad balls. In typical rock and roll fashion, he had seen it all, had done more than his share, and had lost almost everything. I definitely see him as “the white light blinding bright, burning off and on” as the song goes. He was a wonderful character to write: very raw, very genuine, and humble yet complicated. I hope he surprises people, as he turns out to be quite a contradiction in terms of what people may expect from his cocky, shock and doom rocker roots.

Librarian and rock star meet by chance in a chuckle-worthy case of mistaken identity four years after the wreck. The chemistry is undeniable, not only between Kat and Adrian, but between Adrian and young Abbey as well. Admittedly, his relationship with his own daughter Natalie is strained, but Adrian delights in getting to know Abbey, as well as her mother. It’s the second chance he hadn’t realized he’d even wanted in life, and he’s not totally sure he deserves it.

Although Adrian defies standard classification, Kat finds herself falling for him. She makes peace with his intimidating past…but she still has her own to wrestle with. To Adrian, Kat is like a desert flower; thorny but will hopefully some day bloom. But as more time goes by, the larger the ghosts loom…testing the stability of their newfound love and relationship. There is definitely a delicate balance between hope for the future, and heartbreak from the past, that brings this verse from the Foo Fighters’ song to mind:

I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky
To hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
Do I stay or run away
And leave it all behind?

If you are in the mood for a love/loss/love again story and a good rock and roll read, I hope you will check out LOUDER THAN LOVE when it drops on September 17th! (And if you’re jonesing for the original Foo’s “Times Like These” after hearing my tale, here it is)

Nice, huh? I don’t think we even need the official blurb after that, but in case you do, here it is:

In this powerful debut novel, a young librarian grieves the loss of her husband…and discovers a love that defies classification.

It’s been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth…the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.

Recluse rocker Adrian “Digger” Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids’ TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.

Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it’s unclear whose past looms larger: the widow’s or the rocker’s. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?

Ooh… can’t wait. Jessica, how about a review copy? Pretty please?

Or quit begging and buy it, gang:
Barnes and Noble
Google Books

Need more of Jessica? I sure do (see that comment about soul mates..)





Featured New Book: Cold Revenge by Jaleta Clegg


Jaleta Clegg is another of my long-time friends. In fact, if you missed it, I hosted her a little over a year ago, when she had another new release. This might even be the same series… In fact, it is!

Jaleta cover

Don’t worry if you’re new to the series… read on.

Let’s start with the reason we’re here: Jaleta, What song makes you think of your book?

Chicago – We Can Last Forever. No, my book is not a sappy love story. It’s science fiction adventure, heavy on the action and explosions and fight scenes. But I have this thing for sappy 80s love songs. I write my action scenes with them playing in the background. My iTunes library is chock full of sappy love songs for that reason. I also have a lot of movie soundtracks because they make great mood music, but it’s the love songs I keep turning to for inspiration.

Love songs? Really? And we’re friends? Good thing Jaleta is awesome in so many, many other ways.

So if you’re looking for some good adventure, try Cold Revenge. It’s book 5 in the series, but don’t let that stop you. Each book was intended as a (mostly) stand-alone story with a complete beginning, middle, and end.

Cold Revenge – Revenge is a dish best served cold. Jerimon is about to serve Dace to the Targon syndicate. On ice.

It’s on Amazon exclusively!

Book series website – The Fall of the Altairan Empire


Featured New Book: Carnival Rust by Marat M’saev Daan


The best part of this socially connected world of ours is that we get to meet neat people without ever getting out of our pajamas — and there’s no innuendo or impropriety about it.

Okay, maybe it’s lazy.

There’s nothing lazy about Marat M’saev Daan, who is a repeat spotlight holder — not a hog. Never! Just a driven, accomplished writer who spends more time writing than I currently do (it’ll all be worth it as West of Mars grows. You’ll see!).


So here’s Marat with the song that inspired his new book, Carnival Rust.

Although this book was given name by same named song by Poets of the Fall, song that reminds me most of this book will be “Diggin’ in the dirt” by Stefanie Heinzmenn. A lot of bad emotions have moved me to write this book and in the end after every dark night, there is a new dawn with sun rising that promises us a new smile on our faces that will make us even more beautiful that we were the day before.

Ready for what it’s about? I sure am. With a title like Carnival Rust, you know it’s going to be good.

Pain, sorrow, anger, passion are emotions that moved writer to start writing this book. Sometimes, when we are cornered and don’t know what to do we have those emotions and want to burn the whole world. A moment later like rain is falling all over us and we feel like unprotected robots exposed to ones nemesis creating of us “Carnival of rust”.

After long thinking, I have sorted this book under poetry cause no matter how short stories are, their form belongs the most under this category.

Nice, huh?

Need some buy links? I sure do.
For now, book is available on CreateSpace and Amazon (both US and Europe), but I am working on it to publish this book on few other places. Buying links are:
Amazon US
Amazon Europe

Connect with my bud Marat, why don’t you?
Facebook page
Blogger –


Featured New Book: Mocha, Midnight, and Murder by MaryAnn Kempher


Sometimes, you guys find me and I never find out how. I see this all the time on the editing side, but I’m even more thrilled when you guys spread the Featured New Book word and new authors find me. Today’s author, MaryAnn Kempher, falls into that category.

So let’s get busy.


What song makes you think of your book?

It’s an older song, called Friends and Lovers by Gloria Loring. It’s perfect for my book. It’s about two best friends fighting the romantic love that’s growing between them, and finally realizing they can be both–friends and lovers.

Why do I think I remember this song? Wow. Making me feel my age here!

Book blurb:

Instead of feeding her late-night appetite, a midnight food run nearly gets 28-
year-old Katherine O’Brian killed. She’s the only person to see the man who
brutally murdered a local woman, and the killer is hell-bent on making sure she
doesn’t talk.

Scott Mitchell left a broken engagement behind when he moved to Reno, and the
last thing he needs is more melodrama. But when he and Katherine are paired
for a college project, that’s what he gets. It can be very distracting when
someone is out to kill your lab partner. Together, they try to figure out what the
police haven’t been able to—the identity of the murderer. Passion flares, but with
Katherine’s life in danger, romance seems like more than a bad idea.

Scott and Katherine will face jealousy, misunderstandings, lust, and rivals, not to
mention attempted murder—and all before their first real date.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.

Connect with MaryAnn:


Teen Boy Reads: Department 19: The Rising


Ok, everyone. Sorry it has been so long, but I have just forgot to post, but will have posts more regularly as summer rolls in. Again, sorry. I wrote this post a while ago, but never posted it. So, I bid you best reads.

Well, It’s here.

Department 19, book TWO! The Rising. Amazing. excited. Lets get it before I can’t type.

Department 19: The Rising
😀 out of 😀 (5/5)





After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.

They won’t be waiting for long.

Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.

12 weeks after Lindisfarne, The department has picked itself up and most who went survived. But all who went changed. And Valeri Rusmanov has been working Dracula back to life, and the vampires and becoming bolder, and they are leaving graffiti on all the walls. He Rises 91 days to slay Dracula, because after then, Dracula becomes the world’s dictator and all the humans will be non-existent. Unlikely alliances will form, all to bring down these monsters.

Holy Heck in a handbasket. To make this simple, Department 19 blew almost every other book I have read out of the water. The Rising blew the first one out of the water. Yeah. So, next week, I am trying something new. I am going to give a “Reccommended Reads/Recently Read,” and we’ll see how that goes. After that, I will do the Leviathan Trilogy BY Scott Westerfield, and Then Mortal By Phillip Reeves.

See Ya next time,

Your Friend at TBR


Featured New Book: Storm Clouds by M. E. Sutton


I know cool people.

It really IS that simple. I know cool people. Lots of them. And M. E. Sutton is one of them. Best of all, I know her in real life, too. She’s one of my more favorite real-life people, and we simply don’t get to spend enough time together.

It ought to go without saying that when her new book came out, I was all too glad to have her swing by and tell us what song makes her think of her book.


What song makes me think of this book? I’d have to say “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson. It is from the Princess Diaries 2 soundtrack. They play it during the parade, where Mia goes up to a little girl at the children’s home who is being bullied by some older kids. Mia asks if the girl wants to be a princess, and she’s says, “I’m too little.” And Mia says they are all princesses and leads them in the parade. For me that kind of encapsulates the whole series message of Hero’s Sword, that even when the world is trying to put you down and keep you in the place others have decided you should be, you have to “break away,” spread your wings, and fly – be true to yourself.

“I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes til’ I touch the sky
I’ll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway”

Your favorite metal head here has to admit a soft spot for Kelly Clarkson…

But… M E, what’s the book about?

Eighth-grader Jaycee Hiller is beginning to fear she only imagined her trip to Mallory. But when a rainy afternoon leaves her with hours of playing Hero’s Sword, her favorite video game, she finds herself drawn back into the game – literally.

STORM CLOUDS is the exciting second volume of the HERO’S SWORD saga – chronicling Jaycee Hiller’s trials in eighth grade, and her exciting adventures in Mallory, the setting of her favorite video game. Jaycee enters the video game realm via a special controller and is caught up in the action of this fantasy realm.
In STORM CLOUDS, a valuable jewel belonging to the neighboring estate of Devin, the Sapphire Star, is missing, stolen at the Fall Consortium. Lady Starla stands accused of the theft. Devin’s demands are clear: return the Star or they will take it back by force.

Now it’s up to Lyla Stormbringer to find the Star and the thief. before Mallory finds itself at war.

You know you need a copy…







Teen Boy Reads: Department 19


Well, I have another book for you today. Beware, this book is VERY mature and NOT geared for small children. DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY!

Department 19
Will Hill
😀 out of 😀

Jamie Carpenter’s life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein’s monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

Department 19 takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond – from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania. Part modern thriller, part classic horror, it’s packed with mystery, mayhem, and a level of suspense that makes a Darren Shan novel look like a romantic comedy.

After Jamie Carpenter’s father died, his life changed. And it is not for the better. He has been moving around ever since that day. And now, his mom has gone missing. After being whisked away to top-secret wing of the British Government and given a military-level fight-and-weapons training, he learns that his mother has been captured by vampires. The second oldest, and the second most ruthless vampire, Alexandru, to be exact. This puts Jamie, a TEENAGER, on the hunt for one of the world’s most dangerous creatures, ever.
OMG! I could never stop raving about this book! It was the best thing that I have read in a long time, and that is really saying something. I won’t actually describe the book since I would go on and on and on about it, but I will say that it is a LOT more mature than all of the other books I have reviewed so far, so take caution. If this book was a video game, it is rated M, and as a movie, it would be rated R. Just saying. Young children, take caution. But it is a great book, despite all the blood and vampires exploding. Check the book’s website out at department19exists.com

Saddened by our parting again,

Your friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: Guys Read: Thriller


Hey, everyone.

Got another book for you in the series of books designed exactly for teenage guys to read. Well, dive in!

Guys Read: Thriller
Edited by Jon Scieszka
😐 out of 😀 (3/5)

Volume 2 of the Guys Read Library of Great Reading has been described as “chock-full of mystery, intrigue, and nefarious activity.” Also “a pulse-pounding collection of brand-new short stories, each one guaranteed to keep you riveted until the final page.” Who are we to argue? But we will say it’s all that and more.

Guys Read is BACK!! This thrilling collection contains all the Thriller short stories you could ever need! If you did not realize that, reread the title. Edited by Jon Scieszka, we have some of the greatest Thriller novel authors all piled into one!
Well, I can truthfully say that thrillers are not my favorite kind of book. However, this was MUCH better than Revolver, the last book I read. This, being the second of three existing Guys Read books, will be the second in this review trilogy. The next is Guys Read: Sports Pages.
Well, the book was good, but like I said, I don’t really like thrillers. But albeit the fact that it was a whole collection of thrillers, the book WAS good. Not really all that much more that I can say, but I CAN say that I liked the book.

Keep reading, my friends,

Your friend at TBR


Featured New Book: The Psalter, by Galen Watson


One of the first authors to get in touch with me after India Drummond’s blog post went viral (thanks, PG!) was Galen Watson, whose book The Psalter ought to put Dan Brown to shame. Of course, I’ve yet to read, let alone edit, Dan Brown, so I’m biased.

The Psalter is a smart, sharp, intriguing tale that goes back into history while it tells a present-day story. Yeah, one of those structures. My bud Galen pulls it off.

As I do with all my editing clients, I invited him to stop in for a Featured New Book Spotlight. And like many — but not all — do, he took me up on it.

Galen, what song makes you think of The Psalter?

Bob Seeger’s Against the Wind haunted me as I wrote The Psalter, and while I was editing. When I hear the words or see them written, I realize Against the Wind could truly be the novel’s theme song. I wish I could attach a nano mp3 player to every ebook and paperback copy to play softly as the reader turns the pages. Perhaps readers could play Seeger’s tune as a sort of dénouement background music in Chapter 45, Johannes’ Testament. That’s the point that Seeger’s words were the most poignant to my writer’s self.

It seems like yesterday
But it was long ago
Janey was lovely she was the queen of my nights
There in the darkness with the radio playing low
And the secrets that we shared
The mountains that we moved
Caught like a wildfire out of control
‘Til there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove
And I remember what she said to me
How she swore that it never would end
I remember how she held me oh so tight
Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then

Book Blurb

A medieval prayer book, a religious prophecy, and a forgery that changed the church—forever.

Father Romano has run afoul of the modern inquisitors before. This time, it leads to a medieval manuscript and murder. Was it an ordinary theft gone wrong or something more? The police would like to know.

Romano uncovers a historical narrative of medieval forgeries, Saracen invasions and a legendary fight for the richest kingdom on earth. Yet he has unwittingly become a target for those who will stop at nothing to possess the secret of the Psalter.

Kindle Link

Amazon Paperback Version

Barnes and Noble



Twitter: @galencwatson



Featured New Book: In Her Sights, by Keri Ford (Charley Colins)


I swear, I’d seen Keri Ford’s name around the blogosphere with the release of an earlier book, so when she dropped into my inbox, looking for an editor, well, I was excited. I mean, hello? She’s got a backlist that’s over 10 books long already. And I recognized her name! That’s always a bonus — when I recognize an author’s name, and s/he is coming to me for an edit.

Yeah, it doesn’t take me much…

So I’m more than pleased to share Keri’s new release, published under her pen name of Charley Colins: In Her Sights. I’ve read this. I’m one of the people who helped shape it.

Just remember… any mistakes are due to the gremlins!

Now, on to Keri…

Thanks for letting me visit you Susan! And what a fun question because I have an answer this time! I usually don’t have just one song for a book, but when I was working on In Her Sights, the one song I kept going back to was Pink’s Trouble.

Lexie, my heroine, is a kick-butt kind of girl at night. She knows it and she’s good at it. But it’s a secret. During the day she has to be sweet and loving and always smiling and ready to be polite for people.

When she hits the streets at night, dressed in black with her ski mask and all her weapons, I picture her moving to this song. If this book was a movie, this is the song that would play at the end while she’s running across rooftops and fighting men on the street with of course, a huge smile on her face.

It’s the music, the tone of Pink’s voice, and the words. All of the attitude just pours from the song and lyrics. It speaks about who Lexie really is on the inside. The part of her she has to keep hidden from everyone.

And is that Jeremy Renner I see?


Some call her a killer.

Others call her a hero.

Lexie Olympia calls herself neither. She’s getting the job done because she can. A beloved philanthropist by day who’s nicknamed Melville’s Sweetheart, Lexie has the city wrapped around her little finger. Having been a victim in the past, left behind with the killer still on the loose, Lexie knows what it’s like to live with that fear. Instead of biting her nails over it, she takes action. Drug lords, gang leaders, con artists, kidnappers, serial killers, anyone who leaves behind innocent victims are marked on Lexie’s list.

When a neighbor leaves a stolen ancient dagger on her doorstep and skips town, Lexie’s left picking up the pieces. The police, a local private investigator, and a gang are all after this artifact and Lexie uses her nighttime persona, Artemis, to get to the bottom of things. Everything is going smoothly until she gets caught.

Chapter One can be read here
Smashwords (affiliate link; help me AND Keri earn a few pennies, why don’tcha?)



Featured New Book: What Happens on Sunday by Laurie Koozer


I’m not sure how Laurie Koozer and I met. Was it our Pittsburgh connection? Twitter? Something else that’s shared?

I don’t know. I DO know that I’ve been a guest on her blog, Yinz R Readin’, and now that she’s got a book of her own out, it’s only fair to return the favor.

Plus, Laurie’s cool people. I can’t wait until she and I begin taking Pittsburgh by storm.

Which means you KNOW she’s got a cool song to accompany her new book, What Happens on Sunday. I was lucky enough to do a proofread on this book, and let me tell you: it totally captures the Pittsburgh essence. Look out, world: Laurie’s here.

Without further ado, here’s what Laurie has to say about music and What Happens on Sunday:

I always think of my book when I hear the song “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC. Every time I hear this song, particularly the long introduction with the bells tolling, I imagine a very cinematic vision of my characters getting ready for a Steelers game – Megan slutting up a vintage Steelers shirt and listening to pregame coverage in her Bloomfield apartment, Patty in the kitchen making game time snacks in the suburbs, Desiree putting on Steelers jewelry and a pullover fleece in preparation for a tailgate, Shannon alone in her apartment picking out a jersey to wear and ignoring calls from her sister, Jen tucking her Terrible Towel into her pocket as her and Dave argue about which wide receiver is going to have a better day, and Angela, very intentionally not wearing Steelers gear and avoiding anything on TV about the game.

I think the juxtaposition of a hard rock song to describe a book about six women is pretty fitting too given this book and the world in which they live – while softer elements such as romance and family relationships ultimately drive this novel there are parts of each character’s arc that get somewhat gritty, dare I say as bleak as a Steelers losing streak in a Pittsburgh winter? These are women who love and cry and yearn yet there is also a certain kind of grit and steel to them that is reminiscent not only of their Steel City heritage, but the gridiron game that they love.

Wow, huh?

Here’s the blurb:

In Pittsburgh, what happens on football Sundays is more than just a game and for six women during the 2005 Steelers season, their complicated relationships with the team provide solace, distraction and occasionally frustration.

Jen is a very young and very pregnant newlywed who worries that getting married on the same day as a Steelers loss will doom her marriage.

Megan never met a tailgate or a man she couldn’t conquer but is scared of losing her best friend to a relationship.

Desiree is a brash professional struggling to deal with her husband’s ex-wife and children and beginning to wonder if it’s the right time to start a family of her own.

Angela is a high school senior long ago branded bad luck for the Steelers and all she wants to do is get the hell out of Pittsburgh even if it means leaving behind her best friend Robbie.

Patty, a mom who sends a pair of sexy panties to a different player every week, hasn’t been on a date since her divorce five years ago.

And then there’s Shannon, she’s thirty-four and single. She spends the majority of her days navigating Pittsburgh traffic and her evenings tending bar and pining after her sister’s boyfriend.

As the Steelers make what seems to be an impossible run to the Super Bowl, their lives will intersect, each of them finding connections in the most unexpected places.

You guys will have to tell me if this resonates with you the way it resonated with me. This is one that’s haunted me since I worked on it, and given how many projects I see every month, and how many books I read as a reviewer, and how many books I read for pleasure, that’s saying something, wouldn’t you think?

So. Go buy. It went live on Amazon on August 13, which was just last week.

My favorite of all the e-book retailers is Smashwords. They offer us authors the highest royalties while giving you readers your choice of formats. Pick up Laurie’s book there, why don’tcha?

Connect with Laurie, too. Like I said, she’s cool people. Like attracts like, after all!

Good Reads




Featured New Book: Water Witch by Thea Atkinson


I made friends with author Thea Atkinson awhile ago… over a year, apparently, although it feels like both forever and yesterday. Her new book, Water Witch, is out, which means… she had to stop in for a Featured New Release!

A few years ago, my brain threw out two words to me: water witch. I thought at the time it came from the fact that my Father-in-law was able to divine for us the best place to put our well by using an old apple branch. I’d heard of divining water, and was always intrigued by the idea.

As a writer, I felt compelled enough that the two words together spoke to me. I just couldn’t understand the language until a number of years later when I had to write a fantasy/paranormal type flash fiction piece for a blog. Right then, this character who had been unnamed before and whose story had eluded me, began to solidify.

The result of that is Water Witch: a short novel in a series called Elemental Magic. The release has proven to be both exciting and anxiety ridden, as YA is a departure for me. Would folks like the Alaysha character as much as I did? Would they compelled to hear her story?

While I wrote, like I always do, I had a soundtrack that played to keep my fingers moving over the keys in some sort of trancelike rhythm, trying to harness those creative brain waves. I find music, whether it’s lyrics or the sound, spurs the firing of those beta/theta waves as easily as dreams.

One song I played over and over for the pure enjoyment and for the metaphor within was a Dave Matthews Band song: Don’t Drink the Water.

I encourage you to read the flash that inspired the translation of the water witch codec and allowed me tap into the character in a way that became more clear with each word. And I encourage you, if you like what you read, to go sample it from Amazon.


Let the Rain Fall
By Thea Atkinson

The scene was a sickening one, and in her early days, she would have been bothered by such gruesome images of war. Now, 40 years after she’d ridden her first beast to battle, she was hardened to all the death. Hardened like the blade she carried on her back — not that she needed a blade to take a life.

A water witch needed nothing to aid her in killing.

She could draw the fluid from a man’s body in three seconds, count the time with barely a breath between each before they collapsed into a pile of leathered skin with bones so brittle she knew they crumbled to sand inside the left over husk. The eyeballs turned to blackened raisins that fell from the sockets and plopped onto the earth.

When she was young, she thought they were the seeds of a man’s soul, that some god would rejuvenate them. She expected to see another body sprout from where they had fallen.

They never did.

So she hardened herself to all those deaths she’d caused — all those seeds left unspent in the ground. All for the safety of a runt of a man who had never bothered to learn her name.

“Witch,” he called her. “Witch, I need you,” he’d say when he wanted to vanquish an enemy. And there were many enemies.

I need you. I want you. I want you and need you to kill, and so she had without question for years. A girl always obeyed her father, after all.

She remembered her first battle. All of those images that she stored away from her spot in a hanging basket slung like a saddlebag from her father’s war beast. She was young — just seasons old, but a water witch had a long memory to go along with the gift — a necessity if she was to draw water from a vessel. There would need to be a vivid account of pathways and exits. And so she could still see that first pore, that first tear duct, that sweat gland — and deeper, that cell membrane that protected the precious water. She found that if she was significantly hungry, she could speak to those portals and pull fluid from them with an ease that almost hurt her.

Killing was ugly business for a soldier let alone a two-year-old. Her father assumed such ugliness was part of her nature.

“Will it,” he told her. And she did. So strong was her power over fluid that men dropped to their knees in droves, the raisins from their sockets plomping onto the ground like raindrops on thirsty earth: seeds waiting for nourishment.

Storm clouds gathered as the last enemy fell and pelted those left standing–those behind her father–with hail, but no new men sprouted to replace those she’d taken. A hunger rumbled with a terrible ache in her belly and left it feeling like one black cavern that food could never fill — not ever again after that.

She lived in fear that one of those seeds would trail like a pumpkin’s stem into a man’s arm that would sneak forward through the years to reach her finally and strike her down.

And then she wished for it.

And then she prayed for it.

So this scene, nearly 40 years after that first battle was especially gruesome. She sat her beast instead of being side-bagged on it. Her father, furious at his serfdom for a rebellion gone horribly wrong, yelling, weeping, spitting his revenge at their audacity.

“Will it,” he told her.

She drew water from them — each of them — soldiers, peasants, men, women — and yes, even children. She watched every living thing from plant to bird to man in this her father’s serfdom become petrified in an instant. All that remained were stones of different sizes and sand of different piles, and a hundred thousand little raisins peppering the arid earth as if it was a spicy bannock for a meal never to be eaten.

And in that moment she knew some men should never come back. That, that was the secret the gods kept from her. Those seeds, those raisins, should never sprout for they’d had their season.

The storm clouds gathered above her. Her father grunted his anger; it wasn’t enough, this revenge. They deserved worse, not this quick, painless death he’d ordered. He should have done more; she should have drawn the water slower, made them suffer.

She looked at him, felt the drops of water from the clouds plop onto her shoulder. The rain on her cheeks felt hot, then cold as it evaporated. The clouds sucked back into themselves, afraid of the power of the witch that could thirst the water from the very sky.

“I’m hungry,” she said to him as she climbed down from her beast. The earth felt good on her bare feet. She’d never been allowed to have shoes.

“Eh?” Her father gave her a sharp look. She’d never deigned speak to him except to answer yes to his whims.

“I hunger.”

Even as his mouth opened to deny her, he spilled from his beast, so many particles of sand running into his boots as they hit the ground, dumping into the sidesaddle she’d spent so many months in while they were at war. His ice green eyes shriveled and fell as tiny raisins to the earth.

She knelt to one knee and scooped them up, giving them a quick study, making sure they were indeed the seeds of his soul.

And then she popped them into her mouth, chewed. And for the first time in her forty years, she felt satisfied.

Pick it up at Amazon.