Review: Mythic Maiden Series by C.K. Brooke #YoungAdultNovels #RomanceNovels

The retelling of these myths and legends is woman power at its finest. I bought the first three novels for my sixteen-year-old niece. She graciously let me read them first. I know she’s going to love them. It’ll also solidify my status as her favorite aunt.

Secrets of Artemis

In Ancient Greece, the goddess Artemis was venerated as a maiden huntress, swift with her bow and arrows, and eternally chaste. But could there be more to her story? Perhaps Lady Artemis had envisioned quite a different destiny than the one her father, Zeus, had chosen for her. What if she hadn’t merely pined after the giant huntsman, Orion, but had secretly partaken of a forbidden romance with him?

My Review

A creative way to bring mythology to life in the retelling of the Greek Goddess Artemis. An entertaining story perfect for the young adult reader.

I, Guinevere

On the winter solstice, a mysterious sword appears in a stone. Not even the mightiest of the village men can remove it, until fifteen-year-old Guinevere gives a try. The sword heeds the unsuspecting maiden, proclaiming the unthinkable: She is the blood of Pendrakon, heir to the vacant throne of Camylot.

Guinevere never dreamed she was royalty. Now, between apprenticing an eccentric old wizard, swordplay lessons with a boy called Lance, and clandestine meetings with the formidable High Priestess of Avalon, Guinevere is swept up in a whirlwind of training and preparation for her monumental new role as future queen. But invasions by barbarians and visitations from mysterious, dark forces loom overhead. Can Guinevere defend her kingdom against darkness and deception? Despite sinister forces working against her, can she harness the power to wield Exkalibur and rule the realm? Or is Camylot already destined to fall?

My Review

Equal parts romance, suspense, and mystery in the retelling of the King Arthur legend. Another wonderful story for the young adult reader.

Marian, Princess Thief

Lady Marian, once the beloved Princess of Sherwood, was only sixteen when her father rode off to fight in the Crusades, leaving his kingdom under the despotic rule of his brother, Prince John. The night her uncle sends an assassin upon her, Marian flees to Sherwood Forest, where she meets and forges an unbreakable bond with six other outlawed young women.

Now, the nineteen-year-old princess-in-exile and her Merry Maidens gallivant through the greenwood, cloaked under the aliases of Rob-in-Hood and his Merry Men. Together, they uphold their vendetta of mischief, undermining the Prince at every turn, robbing the rich and giving to the poor—all while outrunning their sworn nemesis, the odious Sheriff of Nottingham. After a scheme takes an unexpected turn and Marian’s only recourse is to abduct the Sheriff, the lady brigands find themselves in over their heads, stuck with an unrelenting and formidable captive. But, as Marian is about to discover, sometimes people aren’t what they seem… After all, she would know.

My Review

A fast-paced retelling of the Robin Hood legend with fun distinct characters. I see why it was awarded the 2020 Best Indie Book Award in Young Adult Fiction. This is my favorite of the three.

Mythic Maiden Series by C.K. Brooke

Review: Games Psychics Play by Kass Hillard

Kass Hillard has created the ultimate book and manual to help you develop your unique gifts of the Spirit and so much more. She’s funny, serious, kind, and strict. All the traits you would want your mentor to be and that’s what Kass has done with this book FOR YOU.

~ Clear step-by-step instructions for over 100 solo, partner, and group exercises and activities to assist you in awakening, developing, and enhancing your intuition and psychic abilities

~ Identify your dominant psychic senses, and learn how to strengthen them

~ Prompts to assist you in unleashing your intuitive and psychic superpowers

~ Discover practical ways to use your intuitive skills and psychic gifts

~ Learn how to create development circles

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kass is a retired certified reflexologist, hypnotist, and Reiki Master, and owned a holistic healing center and practice in southwest Michigan for many years. She now enjoys traveling and teaching reflexology, past life regression, and psychic development.

Her story, “The Final Gift” is featured in the #1 international best-selling book, “The Last Breath,” published by Franklin Rose Publishing. Her piece, “Woman, Rise Up,” is included in the Audie nominated audiobook, “Nevertheless, We Persisted,” by Blunder Woman Productions.

Kass is currently working on the companion book “Games Psychics Play Workbook,” and “Journal of Intuitive and Psychic Discovery,” a book of journaling prompts.

Kass currently resides in northwest Ohio with her husband, and two goofy dogs. You will rarely find her without a cup of coffee, working on an art project, or taking a class to learn something new. She is still trying to figure it all out.

MY REVIEW

The informational introduction gave me an open-minded perspective leading into the psychic games. I loved the variety of games, focusing on spirit guides, remote viewing, our chakras and more. As a novice, I found some exercises were fun and easy. Others were difficult, confirming I need to practice, practice, practice. I highly recommend Games Psychics Play. Five Stars.

Games Psychics Play on AMAZON

Chemical Reaction #Audiobook Release Day

FBI Agent Joe Roberts and Dr. Madeline Pierce must track down a rage-producing nano-drug before it devastates the nation.

Staying in Detroit with the FBI, Madeline works to develop an antidote from the confiscated journals. She clashes with the women from Joe’s past. In West Michigan, Joe hunts for the bio-weapon. With a history as a player, he’s worried his relationship with Madeline is at risk. Working apart, they attempt to focus on the threat.

Before Joe returns, agents are killed, Madeline is abducted, and the deadly nano-drug is put on the market. While she plays a dangerous game of deceit, Joe struggles to put his fears of losing her aside to find the weapon first. Her life, their future, and the nation’s security are in jeopardy. Joe must now choose between his personal desire and his professional integrity. Can he live with the consequences?

Chemical Reaction on AMAZON

Chemical Reaction on AUDIBLE

A Labor of Love and Forgiveness

My historical fiction, Dearest Mother and Dad, is a labor of love, and now it’s available as an AUDIOBOOK.  Just in time for Memorial Day!

After reading through the letters my dad wrote to his parents during the Korean War about his experiences, I finally understood why he was hard and emotionally absent.  It took me two years to write the story.  Then, it took me another year to turn the novel into an audiobook.  There was only one narrator for this job—Gary Bennett.

Gary had narrated my romantic thriller Chemical Attraction through 48fourteen Publishing.  He did an incredible job, and my mom fell in love with his voice.  So, for us, this was a no-brainer.  We were not disappointed.

Gary’s narration gave Orrin and Rawley’s friendship the perfect amount of emotion.  In fact, as I listened I cried.  Then, at the last line of the story, I sobbed.  It hit me hard.  I miss my dad and all of his gruff.

I am so proud of this collaboration.  I think my dad—who was a fan of books on tape—would have loved it, too.  Thank you, Gary.

The AUDIOBOOK for Dearest Mother and Dad is NOW available on AUDIBLE

To learn more about Narrator Gary Bennett and his other amazing projects, visit GaryBennettReads.com

Thankful For This Family of Dorks

My mom, my siblings, and I have been sorting through boxes of old pictures.  We haven’t made any progress because we’re too busy mocking each other.  I love this one taken in 1978.  That’s me on the left in the back row.

So much weird in one picture!

My youngest brother looks like he has his shirt on backward. He said it was the style of shirts back then, but I have my doubts.  My other brother has his eyes crossed.  What a goof!   He’s still a goof.  My sister is hiding her face.  “Yeah, sis, I should have, too.”

My dad’s whole ensemble is quite the fashion statement from his red socks to his crazy shorts.  He always had his pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket or rolled up in his sleeve.  He gave up smoking cold turkey in the late 80s.  We were banned from giving encouragement or talking about his decision to quit.  (I guess we all grieve in our own way.)

My mom has on her iconic 50s cat eye glasses. She didn’t change that look until the 90s when she went with the round owl style…similar to mine in this pic. Apparently, I was a trendsetter.  (Correction: I wasn’t a trendsetter. My siblings laughed too hard at that comment.)  Standing in front of our beast of a car, we had the makings of a 70s sitcom or as my brother put it, “A 70s horror story.”

We’re a family of nerds, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Is it any wonder I grew up to be a writer? Embrace your Weird!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photographs by Margaret Dugan #poetry #poem

My fifteen-year-old niece wrote this poem and agreed to let me share it with you. I’m proud of her creativity.

Photographs by Margaret Dugan

We hang up happy pictures.

Those are the only ones you see.

All the sad and ugly ones are hidden from you and me.

If you want to find them, dig up the past.

Here’s a list of things to do to help you find them fast.

Lift up the carpet, making sure there is nothing in you view.

Move the floor boards one by one, making sure each nail is removed.

Now you have to dig, deep beneath the earth.

Making tons of piles made from dirt.

All your hard work is coming to an end.

You hold in your hands, a box so dear.

You open it to find nothing in its keep.

Then you realize those photos have been burned years ago because…

We only hang the good ones.

The Butterfly

The Butterfly emerges

from its silken shell-

Reborn, it arises,

no longer bound to earth.

Free at last, the butterfly glides

to heights unknown before.

So do our loved ones find

a beautiful release

as, earthbound no more,

they leave our sight and joyfully rise

to a garden of matchless beauty,

a place of light and peace.

by Evelyn Phillips

 

I miss you, Kimberly Ann.

Courage, Strength, and Unconditional Love

What is the ultimate gift?

Cool off with a frosty New Year’s Eve Chapter One excerpt from The Garden Collection, a story of courage, strength, and unconditional love.  I’ve posted the New Year’s Eve Prologue to this sweet romance a few years ago. If you prefer to start there, here’s the LINK.  Enjoy.

 

Friday, December 31st – Present Day

Standing behind the counter at Mason’s Diner, Brianna Carlson waited for Henry Mason to pass her orders through the grill window. The breakfast and lunch crowd had her running. Now, the late lunchers filled only three of the ten stools at the counter and two of the eight booths along the windows.

Her half-sister Chloe’s paper snowflakes covered all of the windows as if another blizzard had hit town. Multi-color Christmas lights blinked around the window frames. By the cash register next to the counter, a two-foot-high fake Christmas tree held so many of Chloe’s homemade ornaments the patrons couldn’t see the branches.

Catching her breath, Brianna stared at the poster behind the register and smiled. Lucy had suggested Bree put her own doodle sketches to good work and enter the competition to design the New Year’s Eve Gala poster. Out of one hundred applicants, she won. She had drawn dark snowy woods where the old trees have snarled branches. The trees’ arthritic fingers reach for the sparkling red box with a bright white bow that illuminates the small clearing. The caption reads What is the Ultimate Gift?

Bree was proud of herself and so were the regulars at the diner. They celebrated her excitement by encouraging her to attend the gala. As the winner, she received one hundred dollars and a ticket to the party. She had saved her money for three weeks to buy a dress with matching purse and shoes.

“Bree, your order’s up,” Henry yelled from behind the grill. She saw only his eyes and the top of his bandana-covered baldhead through the open window.

The retired men along the counter chuckled. “Are you daydreaming again, Cinderella?” Charlie asked as he took off his baseball cap that had covered his thinning gray fringe.

Blushing, she laughed. “Maybe I’ll find my Prince Charming tonight,” she replied, picking up the BLT and cheeseburger platters.

George unrolled his silverware from his napkin. “Are you ever going to tell us what’s in the red box from your poster?”

She set Charlie’s BLT in front of him and grabbed the ketchup from under the counter. “What do you think is in the box?” she asked, handing George the bottle for his burger and fries.

“Money?” George asked.

“How about keys to a yacht?” Charlie added.

“I know what’s in the box,” Chloe said from the end of the counter. Her long brown hair in a thick braid matched her big sister’s. Chloe bit into a French fry and grinned.

“Well, my sweet one, please share with us,” Bev Mason said from behind the cash register. With her wrinkled smile, she played the elder matron with ease.

Chloe looked at her. “Can I tell them?”

Bree laughed and nodded. “I always thought it was obvious,” she said, absently touching her gold locket tucked under her Mason’s Diner t-shirt.

“Tell us right now,” George demanded. He winked at Chloe as he wiped his mouth.

“It’s love, sillies. I can’t believe you never guessed it.”

“Oh, and you’re a genius?” Bev asked

“I’ve gotten all excellent marks so far in first grade,” Chloe stated.

Brianna nodded. “You have a lot of wonderful tutors,” she said, glancing at her work family.

Chloe had grown up on that stool. They had put her name on it. Bree felt blessed that Bev and Henry let her work and care for Chloe at the same time. Over the years, the regulars had taken turns keeping her occupied. She and Chloe had many aunts and uncles.

As the men teased Chloe that they had made her smart, Officer Eddie Kent stomped his feet inside the door. In his dark blue uniform and auburn crew cut, he sat at the opposite end of the counter. Having known Eddie since they were in kindergarten, Bree greeted him with his usual glass of milk.

“It’s not ready yet?” he asked.

She frowned. “I wasn’t sure you were working today. I’ll get right on it.”

Bree quickly entered the kitchen and helped Henry with the order of rare steak and scrambled eggs with a side of raw onions and garlic toast. Eddie ate it every day he worked. Superstitious about his job, he said it kept him safe. For the last year, that’s all he ate. She carefully set his plates in front of him. She had learned not to stand too close afterward.

“Bree, don’t worry. I’m here if you need anything,” Eddie said, reaching for the knife.

“What?”

“Kent! I will explain it,” Chief Mason said, taking up the entire doorway.

Brianna looked at Cameron Mason, the Chief of Rushing for the last ten years. With his bushy brown mustache, he reminded her of a young Sam Elliott from the Western movies. He had the deep voice like him, too. All he needed was a cowboy hat. Bev and Henry were proud of him and his profession although Bev hoped he’d marry soon. She wanted grandbabies.

Bree thought of him as an overly protective big brother. Since she didn’t have a car or a license for that matter, he’d give them a ride occasionally across town to their tiny loft apartment. He also lectured her on safety. She and Chloe paid attention to all of his rules.

Chief Mason smoothed down his thick mustache with his thumb and finger and pointed her to the end booth. His business-like manner unnerved her. With a hand over her stomach, she sat.

He stopped Chloe from jumping off her stool. “Stay put. I want to talk to Bree in private.”

“Cam, what’s wrong?” she asked as he sat across from her.

“I just found out Wayne got parole.”

She gasped. “When?”

“He’ll be released tomorrow. Because of overcrowding, he’s being let out earlier than I had expected. There was nothing I could do.”

“Oh, God.” She placed her shaking hands on her lap. Chloe stared at her reaction. “Do you think he’ll come back here?” she whispered.

“I honestly don’t know. Follow my rules, Bree. They’ll keep you safe. If you see him anywhere in town, call my cell,” he said, pulling out his card.

She stopped him. “I still have it memorized.”

Cam nodded and left for the kitchen to talk to his father. She stared out the window at the two fresh inches of snow. What should she do? Wayne’s letters from prison promised to take Chloe away from her. She had no legal rights. Could he come back and reclaim his daughter? She would not let that happen. He would never lay a hand on Chloe. Bree had taken the brunt for years so he wouldn’t hurt her.

Chloe knew next to nothing about her father. Bree had told her that he was in jail because he had hurt them. Bree had preached taking responsibility for your actions since Chloe could talk.

Chloe thought it was like being grounded for doing something naughty. That pretty much summed it up. Although Bree didn’t think Wayne would learn anything from the experience except more contempt toward her for putting him there. He would return to make her suffer. She had to leave. She jumped as Chloe slid in next to her.

“Bree, what’s the matter?

She hugged her. “Nothing for you to worry about, my sweet Clover,” she said, nudging her out of the booth. “I have to get back to work.”

While she made plans in her head, she absently cleared the tables. While carrying the tub of dirty dishes, she banged her shin into the metal cart behind the counter. The tub crashed to the floor. Plates and mugs shattered. With tears in her eyes, she rushed to clean the mess. This usually happened when she was stressed or tired. With partial blindness in her left eye and a limp from a healed broken leg, her coordination sometimes made her clumsy.

Eddie Kent laughed as he finished his meal. “Bev, have you run out of plates yet?”

Bree looked up at her. “I’m sorry.”

Bev smiled. “Honey, it’s an hour past your shift. We know it’s not your fault. Why don’t you and Chloe take off? Tonight’s the big night.”

As she put the last broken plate in the tub, she slid it to the side and stood. Charlie grinned and asked, “You’ll save me a dance?”

“I’m first in line. She promised me yesterday,” George added.

Bree smiled as they tried to cheer her up. “Only if you can recognize me. It’s a masquerade ball after all.”

She helped Chloe with her coat, hat, and mittens. Stepping outside, she took a deep breath. They would make a run for it. They’d hide, and Wayne would eventually give up looking. With a purpose, she reached for her sister’s hand.

“Bree, do you want a ride?” Eddie asked, absently patting the gun at his side.

Resisting the urge to wrinkle her nose at his horrid breath, she shook her head. “We have errands. Thank you though.”

Bree gently tugged Chloe’s hand down the street. They had three stops before she dropped Chloe off with Lucy, who was recuperating from a sprained ankle. Luckily, the stops were in order of the direction they were going. Chloe shuffled her boots through the snow on the sidewalk and sang “Let it Snow.”

After closing out her savings account with one hundred and twenty-six dollars, she pulled open the door to the pawnshop. The stifling heat hit them in the face as they wiped their boots on the rug just inside the door. She spotted Gus Fuller wearing a Santa hat. He had played Santa at the diner’s Christmas party. With a long white beard, he fit the part perfectly.

Bree sighed. “I need to talk to Gus for a moment. Do you want to wander around?” Chloe nodded and headed for the stack of board games while Bree met him at the counter. “I’d, uh, like to see what I can get for this,” she said, slipping her precious locket over her head.

Gus turned it in his hand. “This is a high-end piece. I’d say it’s worth about two grand. I can only give you five hundred, but Donovan’s Jewelry may give you more.”

She groaned. Robert had spent too much money on her. Her eyes started to water. She quickly wiped her face. This is about responsibility and survival not sentimental trinkets. She took the locket back from him and stared at it. She wore it all the time and touched it often. She was surprised the etched ivy hadn’t worn off. Finally nodding, she set it back on the counter. She had to protect Chloe. As she tucked the money into her wallet, Chloe joined her with a magic kit.

“Bree, do we have extra for this? It’s three dollars,” Chloe said.

Gus smiled. “It’s yours for a hug.”

Chloe laughed and ran around the counter. After paying with a hug, she kissed his cheek and tugged his beard. “Thanks, Gus.”

With slouched shoulders, Brianna moved toward the door.

“Bree, take care of yourself,” Gus said quietly.

She wanted to grab her locket and run. Instead, she limped out the door. There would be no turning back.

The bus station had one last departure at five tonight for Chicago. She didn’t think they’d have time to pack so she opted for the ten o’clock trip tomorrow morning. She wanted to be selfish and go to the gala. Her one last hurrah.

Continue reading The Garden Collection on AMAZON

Ima Liar Liar

“What’s real? What’s not?”

These are two of the biggest questions I’ve gotten since publishing Dearest Mother and Dad, and, frankly, it surprised me.  I mean all my books are fiction.  Even though I researched a few truths for each book, they’re mostly lies…made-up stories.

For example, can you use nano-drugs to control a person’s actions like the drugs in Chemical Attraction?  Not unless there’s top secret research going on.  So, I guess it seems plausible.

Can you shape the inside of a diamond to look like an American rose similar to the one in The Garden Collection?  It would be cool, expensive, and plausible.

Can you transport a Russian satellite inside the trailer of a semi-truck like the one in The Trucker’s Cat?  Who knows what’s inside those non-descript trucks, but it seems plausible, too.

If you’re asking what’s real and what isn’t in Dearest Mother and Dad because it’s historical fiction and based on letters my father wrote to his parents during the Korean War, here are those answers.

REAL: the Korean War

REAL: the battles

REAL: the dates

REAL: Orrin’s (my dad’s) letters to his parents  (Names were changed to protect the innocent … and the guilty.)

FAKE: the rest of the story

My dad didn’t share his experiences, so I made it up. Isn’t that what writers do?  They lie.  We’re liars although I prefer the term fiction writers.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Christina’s Author Page on AMAZON