From My Bookshelf – Souls of Three (The Starseed Trilogy Book #2)

This one is a day late because I didn’t post on Christmas.   But here it is!

As the second book of The Starseed Trilogy opens, the triplets – Lily, Evelyn, and Sara – are taking a break from their “magical training”. Lily has traveled back to Oregon to spend some time with those who raised her while Evelyn returns to New York City and her job with her adopted dad’s company. When Lily returns to Fern Cottage, she is told that Evelyn’s work will be keeping her in New York City longer than was originally planned – an important new client to get settled in. To REALLY complicate matters, Evelyn falls for this new client, a charming man by the name of Roman Simons. Does she really want to leave him and return to Fern Cottage? Would he understand if she told him who she really was? And then he invites her on a weekend getaway in some remote luxury home.

Meanwhile, Lily, who is more than a little frustrated that Evelyn hasn’t yet returned, discovers that Sara and Evelyn have been talking on the phone during Evelyn’s prolonged absence. And when Lily finds out that Evelyn is enjoying a weekend getaway with the new man in her life? Things can’t help but get more tense between two sisters who have had difficulty getting along from the start.

But the handsome, charming Roman Simons is not all that he appears to be and Evelyn quickly finds herself in a nightmarish situation that she, with her fledgling magic skills, cannot handle alone. She doesn’t know if her sisters even know she is in trouble, much less if they can do anything to help.

Back in Fern Cottage, the family discovers a traitor in their midst. A lifelong friend sends a letter to the Brigit, the triplets’ mother, admitting that she was behind the chaos in Alexandria that resulted in Lily losing a family member. But this person isn’t confessing anything because she doesn’t feel the least bit guilty. She openly admits that she has had a hand in helping to abduct Evelyn. The family immediately takes action, seeking to rescue Evelyn and deal once and for all with the vampires Amon and Empusa.

But new powers arise in the girls and new pieces of the prophecy fall into place. The bond between the sisters grows stronger and they learn that their own power increases when they lean on one another.

This captivating sequel moves the story forward with new plot twists and new faces while continuing to beautifully develop the characters and relationships I most loved from the first book. Some enemies are vanquished, others escape, and a traitor has yet to be dealt with. And it all leaves you waiting to see what happens in the final installment! Will the magic skills of the three sisters be enough to defeat Dimia and the Fata? The fate of the human race hangs in the balance.

Special Edition! From My Bookshelf

I got the incredible opportunity to be an Advanced Reader for Tosca Lee’s upcoming book, “The Line Between” – WOW!!! If you are already a Tosca fan, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’ve never read any of her work, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!  I just finished the book today and put out an early review on Goodreads so I thought I’d share the link here.  The book comes out January 29, 2019, but you can pre-order your copy on Amazon right now.

Click HERE to read my review.

From My Bookshelf – The Prophecy of Three (The Starseed Trilogy Book 1)

I discovered this book through a random social media encounter – it was a Twitter discussion about self-published/indie authors – where I met the author. Do yourself a favor – read this book!

I’m going to try to keep this brief because I could go on about this book for awhile. Let’s start with something “technical” – the Bechdel Test. For those who don’t know, the Bechdel Test came about as a result of a 1985 comic strip created by Alison Bechdel. Originally intended as a way to “rate” movies, the Bechdel test has three basic goals – (1) There must be at least two female characters, (2) Both female characters must have names, and (3) They must have a conversation that is about something OTHER than a man. This book EXPLODES those three criteria. The book focuses on three women who don’t know they are sisters (triplets, to be exact) and their mother and her two sisters. Along with these six characters, there are other women who play significant roles in the story as well. In the course of the story, you learn their names and their personal histories. Their conversations involve the family history, the reasons that the triplets were sent to live with adoptive families (with their magic bound since they were born witches), learning to use their now un-bound powers, and the fact that these three just might be a set of sisters spoken of in a prophecy millennia before.

The characters can be strong or vulnerable, confident or frustrated, focused or confused. In other words, they are real and relatable. None of them is perfect or completely flawed but you are rooting for them every step of the way. You cheer as they become more able to control their various powers, you are genuinely worried for them when a loved one is in serious dangers . . . and when Lily has to make a heart-wrenching decision regarding someone who helped to raise her? I literally held my breath!

If you like believable, strong, multi-dimensional female characters and a well-written plot, read this book! Warning – there is a mountain of a cliffhanger at the end!

From My Bookshelf – “Behold the Harvest Moon”

Intriguing. That’s the only word to describe this book.

It starts quickly – intrigued by a sign that says “Old Things and New Adventures”, young Brenden Badt ventures into an unusual store. As he moves through the space, almost always in what seems to be a straight line, his surroundings change. And it isn’t long before young Brenden finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime, called from our world into another for a greater purpose.

There is little dialogue in the book. Usually, that would bug me. But the author does a fantastic job of telling the story through Brenden’s thoughts and experiences. Without ever meeting Brenden’s dad, I know he is a heartbroken man after the death of his wife. And I know that, in the midst of their grief, Brenden and his dad love each other and are trying to move through the sorrow for themselves and for one another.

You watch Brenden grow, learn, accept strange surroundings, begin to believe in himself with more conviction than he’s ever possessed before . . . this one captivated me and I am so looking forward to reading the sequel!

From My Bookshelf – Be Careful What You Joust For

While much of the book contained what one might expect from this particular genre, there were pleasant surprises throughout my reading.

The head of the Hornbolt Family, Duke Garrion Hornbolt, is a devout man of faith. So often in novels such as this, the nobility is at odds with matters of faith, often seeing the church as a threat to their power. Not so, Duke Garrion. Had circumstances in his childhood been different, he would have been able to pursue his dream of becoming a priest. But the death of his oldest brother and the traditions of his people changed all that.

Isolda, Garrion’s wife, is not a typical damsel in distress by any means! With secret business ventures of her own – and a secret identity to go along with it! – she is portrayed as a strong woman who can still be plagued by fear and doubt. In other words, she comes across as very real!

The children of House Hornbolt – Marcus, Oriana, Selina, Terric, and Nesta – are all unique crafted and the relationships between the siblings are unique (and consistently portrayed throughout the story, I might add.) Oriana and Terric get the most attention from the authors with their respective stories focusing on Oriana’s prospects for a husband and Terric’s desire to avoid the priesthood at all costs. In the end, it is Terric’s assumptions that put the lives of his entire family at risk.

A significant twist in the plot and horribly wrong assumptions leave the reader eager for the second book as soon as the first is finished. I have truly found a new “must-read” in the Pentavia series!

From My Bookshelf – Introducing Bert Williams

If you want to understand, very clearly, how the struggle for racial equality played out in the early years of Broadway, read this book. If you want to better understand the life and career of “America’s First Black Star”, read this book. If you want to better understand the balancing act required of Bert Williams and other black performers, read this book.

In 1910, 37 years before Jackie Robinson would become the first black baseball player in the Major Leagues, Bert Williams signed on as a Headliner with the Ziegfeld Follies. He performed in Vaudeville shows, the Follies reviews and even wrote some original shows that gave him the opportunity to showcase not only his talent but also the talent of other black actors.

But during all of it, he had to find a way to keep two very different audiences happy. White audience members wanted to see the racist stereotype made famous in minstrel shows by white actors wearing blackface. Black audience members wanted performers like Williams to buck those expectations and portray an image of a black man who was poised, dignified, intelligent and an equal to his white counterpart in every way.

Williams dealt with the loss of his longtime partner George Walker, theaters that sometimes wouldn’t even allow black people to buy tickets, and fellow Ziegfeld performers who refused to have anything to do with him. In writing about Williams’ career, author Camille F. Forbes beautifully traces the struggle for racial equality specifically in the world of Broadway performers.

One of the most heart-wrenching encounters in the entire book is told from the perspective of fellow Follies performer, and well-known comic actor, Eddie Cantor –

“Eddie Cantor later told of a New Year’s Eve that Bert and he had planned to spend together. While out of town, they arranged to have dinner together at the hotel where Bert was ‘permitted to live provided he used the back elevator.’ As they headed out the stage door, Cantor reiterated their plan to meet up at the hotel for their meal after he picked up the food. Bert agreed. Then, as they parted, Bert said that he was on his way to the back elevator.

As Cantor listened, he noticed that Bert’s voice betrayed the merest trace of bitterness. Speechless, he stopped, and the two stood together ‘in understanding silence’. Then, Bert opened up, just for a moment: ‘It wouldn’t be so bad, Eddie, if I didn’t still hear the applause ringing in my ears.'”

And in Bert’s own words –

“In truth, I have never been able to discover that there was anything disgraceful in being a colored man. But I have often found it inconvenient in America.”

If it were in my power to do so, I would make this book required reading for every student interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts. Understanding our past can help us to build a better future.

From My Bookshelf – “Refugees” by R. A. Denny

(Since I wrote this review, this book has been “re-published” as “The Emperor’s Harvest”.)

An evil emperor, a prophecy that reads more like a riddle, and three young people from different cultures who have a destiny to fulfill.

If you enjoyed Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy or Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series, then you need to add Denny’s Mud, Rocks, and Trees series to your reading list. The characters are really well-developed and the plot develops carefully, feeding the reader just enough detail to keep the pages turning but without giving away too much too soon.

The story frequently changes location since three of the major characters come from completely different places. The author handles this with beautiful simplicity by placing a name under the chapter heading so you know exactly where you are. That way, there is no need to decipher location since you know where each character is.

Can’t wait to read the sequel!