Reviewing enchanting reads and discussing all things bookish
Katherine Smits is a direct descendant of Susannah Martin, one of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. Katherine grew up wanting to be a mermaid but discovered to her dismay this was not a viable career choice. Instead, she became a clinical social worker and helped veterans and their families.
Now she brings social work training and experience to her stories of mermaids, mages and magical creatures. Within the context of fantasy and romance, her novels explore real-life issues of self-acceptance, body image, relationship dynamics, and fears and phobias. Mystery, suspense, and a little sex add spice to her books.
What are you doing for July 4th? I know one of the things I’ll be doing is reading! Summer is here, and it’s time to load up on beach reads. Here’s just what you need to get some fantastic books!
Over 30 ebooks plus three paperbacks are up for grabs! Two grand prize winners will each receive all the ebooks, plus a winner will be selected for each ebook individually, and one winner will be chosen for each of the paperbacks. Your chances of winning are excellent!
Don’t wait! Contest closes July 5!
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I really enjoyed this book! For a change from many books in this genre, the ancient prophecy doesn’t foretell the birth of the savior of the world, but the one who will destroy it. Phoenix knows she’s considered an abomination in the supernatural world, and she doesn’t want any part of it anyway. She loves her simple life with humans, but the paranormals are not about to let her get away. This story had plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and surprises around every corner. I liked the characters and rooted for Phoenix throughout the book. Of course, I had to buy the second book in the series, and now I can’t wait for the third. The books do end on cliff-hangers. I would have preferred that each book complete a narrative arc, but I’ll definitely buy more from this author.
Here’s the blurb:
A small Dublin pub …
… holds the key to humanity’s survival.
Who will learn its secret?
Half vampire, half fae, Phoenix is an abomination in the eyes of the supernatural community. Screw them! She’s more than happy to play human in the cosy Irish pub she calls home.
At least until an annoying werewolf comes knocking.
Because Phoenix may be done with the supernatural world, but it’s not quite done with her.
Her birth has triggered a prophecy, and now the clock is ticking. Humanity will be the first to suffer for her existence.
Everything, and everyone, she loves is in danger, and as the body count rises Phoenix must learn to embrace the darkest parts of herself.
Or lose it all.
If you like gripping urban fantasy with some serious attitude, you’ll love this debut novel from Irish author L.M. Hatchell.
The Treasure is book 2 in the Time Walker Series. Although I haven’t yet read the first book in the series, this one can be read as a stand-alone. I was a bit confused by some of the details about the Time Walkers at first, but it didn’t prevent me from thoroughly enjoying this story. However, if you are a reader who wants to understand everything from the beginning, I recommend you read The Fury (Time Walker Book 1) first.
The Treasure opens with Celeste disguised as a boy working on a pirate ship as a deck hand in order to get an opportunity to kill the dread pirate Blackbeard. She has an excellent reason for her obsession: revenge.
However, Blackbeard is not what he appears to be, and throughout the story, Celeste learns much more about him, and herself, than she ever suspected.
Orion is a Time Walker, a member of an elite corps who can travel through time, and who have other powers. Their mission is to protect humans from invaders from the demon world.
When Orion saves Celeste from attacks by the demons, he realizes she is not an ordinary human and in fact, is the key to winning the war. However, while he is determined to protect her, he also battles an attraction to her that he believes is wrong, and whether he gives in to it or not, it will probably be his undoing.
The Treasure has a feisty heroine, a swoon-worthy hero, well-developed major and minor characters, and enough twists and turns for a map to hidden pirate’s booty. The romance grew with the plot and characters and though the attraction between Celeste and Orion was powerful, it was definitely not “insta-love”. Since they both had strong personalities, and at times, conflicting motivations, they often clashed, which made the relationship fascinating.
Overall, I found The Treasure entertaining, sexy, absorbing, surprising, and a lot of fun. I can’t wait to read all of Ms. McBride’s books.
My equine partner is a sweet mare named Corrin Castle, an Irish Sport Horse enjoying retirement at a farm in Ocala, Florida. Below is a picture of us together.
I belong to a group of fantasy/romance writers called the Pen Dames who find horses inspiring, and we include them in our books. Most of us own horses now or rode in the past. Since May is Derby and Preakness month, we decided to celebrate our love of horses by holding a contest with bales of books and buckets of prizes for our readers! The horse name game is fun, the prizes are fantastic, and all the books include horses.
Last night as I pondered what to write for my April blog, I came up with a blank, but my brain worked on it while I was sleeping. I woke this morning thinking of the perfect concept–discussing a pop-up picture book titled, What’s Happening at the Library?
The image in my mind was so realistic, I was certain this already existed. So, I searched fifty pages of Amazon offerings containing almost everything (even a pop-up Kama Sutra!) except one about a library. Maybe paper engineers don’t consider libraries interesting enough, but I do, and I bet all the other bookworms will agree. Maybe I should create it.
This wouldn’t be just for children, but something for everyone to enjoy. With its intricately cut, detailed, three-dimensional illustrations on glossy paper, it would feature all the amazing services our libraries provide. Here’s how I envision it:
The first two pages portray rows of wooden shelves packed with intriguing hardcovers and paperbacks alongside overstuffed leather armchairs perfect for comfortable perusing. A twelve-inch, bronze, metallic, raised-relief floor globe in a cherry wood frame stands in a bay window surrounded by bright red, cushioned benches for children to sit and explore the world. Large windows leading to a high ceiling allow sunlight to suffuse the room. A smiling librarian at a circular check-out desk completes the scene.
In the next tableau, computer monitors and keyboards, each with an attached mouse, rest on high-sided metal desks with task chairs. Printers, crisp white paper, and reference materials await the eager hands of youngsters and adults.
Following are meeting rooms where groups learn new skills or discuss issues. In others, a volunteer reads to children or teaches crafts.
Authors exhibit stacks of their new releases, reading excerpts and signing copies for patrons.
Displays of local artist’s works; performances by community dancers and entertainers; mentors helping students with literacy, math, languages, and other courses are all shown.
My book would be immense! I probably won’t ever craft it, but that’s all right. We don’t need this to tell us what’s going on in these magical sanctuaries. We can walk in the door and see for ourselves.
April 4 – 10 was National Library Week. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep love for our libraries. From the small building in my hometown where I checked out stories as a child, to the large, modern structure in the county where I live now, these institutions have been, and will always be, enthralling places for me.
Over many years, I watched them evolve into true community centers that are welcoming havens for all people. Libraries opened up the universe for me, taking me to locations I never thought I would visit, and domains where I could only go in my imagination. They ignited my creativity, and I will always be grateful.
I’ll collect all the responses and send them with this blog to my local library. I will also include them in posts on social media (anonymously if you wish). Feel free to share! Let’s show our library staff how much we appreciate them!
March is a wonderful month! Springtime, St. Patrick’s Day, green everywhere, and we all get to be Irish for a day. To celebrate this amazing season, the Pen Dames are holding a Mega Contest for Lucky Leprechauns. We invite everyone to play, but only U.S. residents are eligible to win. Apologies to our international readers, but shipping costs are prohibitive.
The list of prizes is below. (We don’t literally have a pot of gold to give away. If we had such a thing, we’d keep it for ourselves.) But we do have some fantastic goodies lined up. At the end of the month, we’ll draw one random winner and send the person enough gifts to fill up that mythical cauldron.
From Loretta Rogers:
The Witching Moon ~ Ebook
Isabelle and the Outlaw ~ Readable PDf on CD
Magnetic Refrigerator ClipSpiral Bound Note Pad
From Flossie Benton Rogers:
Time Singer eBook
Irish Connemara Marble Wishing Stone
$3 Amazon gift certificate to purchase audio Celtic love song
From Jennifer Taylor:
Heartbeat of the Moon Paperback
Color Street Nail Polish Strips with Hearts
From Linda Tillis:
A Heart for All Time Paperback
From Katherine Smits:
3 signed paperback books (Water Dreams, Water Desires, and the combined paperback edition of The Sea Witch and the Mage and Siren Descending)
Imperial Jasper Turquoise-color Bracelet
Rose Gold Crystal Pen
Check the Pen Dames blog every week this month for pictures of all the prizes, and please tell your friends! We love our readers and hope we’ll get lots of participation.
“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” ~ Sophocles
On Valentine’s Day most of us think of hearts and flowers and the giddy feeling of meeting The One. Romance is fantastic, but love is about relationships of all kinds and fundamentally involves acceptance.
I’d like to share an excerpt from Siren Descending which examines the different kinds of love.
The main character, Athenia, is trapped in the underworld after trading herself to the devil in exchange for her lover’s freedom. Though she knows her life, her powers, and her soul are forfeit, she agrees to sing her siren song one last time for the inhabitants of Hades. At first, she only wants to delay her fate for as long as possible, but she ends up giving even the most repellent creatures the gift of love through her song.
Keeping her promise, Athenia gave everything to the song. Opening her soul, she let all her pain, fear, loneliness, and desperation suffuse her voice. At first, the notes jangled with sharp edges and discordances, evidence of her anguish. Minor chords overwhelmed the music with their overtones of alarm. When the inhabitants of the underworld came out to listen, they milled about, whispering, and glaring at one another. At a gesture from Gelion, they stilled, but tension filled the air. Eyes narrowed, Gelion started toward her.
While her deepest emotions took over, she ignored everything else. She sang of her grief for Delphie, for what might have been with Thorne, and for the soon to come loss of her identity. Next, she poured out her longing for the sea and her acceptance of kinship with the Atlantean Nerei, especially Deme, who had been a friend.
She trilled a refrain for the other mages, who would have accepted her, if she hadn’t been so secretive.
When all else drained away, she let the ballad take her back to her first time with Thorne. The moment when she’d realized how perfect he was for her played like a movie in her mind. She crooned her love for him. So long as he survives and goes on to lead a happy life, I can tolerate all this.
The pure notes echoed around them, and the denizens of the underworld stood with arms around each other, swaying in rhythm to her music, staring at her as though hypnotized.
Three-headed Cerberus rolled on his back, whining through all his mouths.
After the harpy landed beside him, she reached over and rubbed his belly. No one moved away from the winged creature this time, though her stench rolled through the area in an almost palpable haze.
Staring at Athenia intently, Gelion stood behind the crowd. Clear-eyed, he didn’t appear mesmerized like the others. However, the corners of his lips turned up, and he tapped his foot.
As long as I’m singing, he won’t make me have sex with him. A vision of him naked and jamming himself inside her made her stomach heave. Worse, he’ll make me enjoy being raped, long for more, and beg him not to stop. She shuddered.
Momentarily, her song shrieked into a register so high human ears probably ached. The demons clenched their claws, some digging talons into boulders, scraping long gouges out of the rock. Growling, Cerberus shook his head. Then, he snapped at the harpy, who snatched her hand out of reach of his jaws.
Can’t let my fear stop me. Must face this with as much dignity as I can summon up. With an effort, she brought her voice back to the pleasing range and added a hint of hope. Not for me since I’m doomed. For these poor creatures. Maybe this moment of solidarity will be all they ever experience, but this small amount of peace is my gift to them. For once, I can offer something to someone else without needing or wanting repayment. Besides, they aren’t the reason I’m here.
Everyone settled down. Now, her voice strained to reach the high, pure notes, and lost some clarity. I never used my siren ability so long or with so much emotion before, so I won’t last much longer. When my voice dies, Gelion will come for me, and that will be the end of me, too.
Sadness threatened again, but she refused to give in to despair. For as long as I can, I’m going to focus on joy, even in difficult circumstances. All I want now is to be fully present for every moment of my precious life while I possess free will. Though my time is almost over, I’ll make the most of every second.
At the top of her aria, her voice cut out. She lost a few notes, but not enough to end the enthrallment of the crowd. To preserve her vocal cords for as long as possible, she lowered her range. A siren with no voice. How ironic, I’m morphing into a Disney character.
Time passed. How long has it been, hours? Can’t keep on more than a few more minutes.
From the depths of her soul, Athenia poured every form of love into a haunting chorale.
Philia, the deep connection between comrades in arms, who are loyal and willing to sacrifice for each other. Though this was partly what I felt for Thorne, I realize now I care so much more for him.
Ludus, playful love or affection. Not as serious as Philia, but important to help us remember we’re not alone in our mortal condition, and we can make connections with many people, including those different from us. Like when Bathin helped me.
Philautia, or love of self. Through all this, I discovered I’m not a horrible person. Of course, I was misguided to think I needed to protect myself from everyone, even Thorne. Yet, though I did some awful things, I’m not bad. I care about myself and want to live, but it’s too late now. At least, I figured this out before the end.
Eros, or sexual passion. What I felt for Thorne all along, what I thought was the most important kind of love, but it’s not. Romance is wonderful when combined with friendship and affection, and when both lovers care about themselves, but sex isn’t everything and is empty without the other dimensions.
Pragma, or longstanding love. The pain of loss in her chest increased. This is the type of love I’ll never experience with Thorne.
Agape, the selfless love, which encompasses all people. This is what I offer you today. She sent agape to every creature assembled, even Gelion. He’s still part of the universe and needs whatever caring anyone can spare for him. Odd, to pity someone so powerful, but I do now. In these final moments, I understand so much more than I ever did before.
The rasp in her voice became huskiness. Then a whisper. Finally, she stopped. I’m done. There’s nothing left to do or say, no way to fight the inevitable any longer. Strangely at peace, she bowed her head.
Through the silent throng, Gelion marched toward her. None made a move. All of Hell’s occupants sat as if turned to stone.
Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. This post was first published on the Pen Dames blog. Please come on over and join us for more wonderful posts from my fabulous colleagues. https://pendames.blogspot.com/
Like me, many of you probably stayed home on New Year’s Eve and quietly watched 2020 exit. While I believe everyone is happy to see that dumpster fire end, we missed having a rousing party. So, I thought in this post, I’d give you a chance to stage a bash in your imagination.
I call this a Choose Your Own Adventure Paranormal Romance Micro-Story. That’s because you get to pick the characters and decide what happens and because it’s short, only one paragraph. Even so, there are lots of possible combinations you can use to create the fete of your dreams. I hope you have fun!
Let’s get this shebang started! Pick one item from each of the six categories below and insert your choice next to the corresponding number in the story. Use the prompts or just pick the one you like best. That’s it. Easy peasy and you have your unique shindig.
Your favorite color: (Heroine/Hero)
Green: Scottish Highlander
Purple: Motorcycle Gang Leader
Orange: Movie Star
Pink: Sports Star
Gold: War Hero
Silver: Famous Novelist
2. Your Favorite Beverage: (Love Interest)
3. The first number on your street address. Includes postal code. If no number, use 5: (Villain)
0. A Rival
1. An Enemy
2. An Ex
3. A Jealous person
4. A False Friend
5. Your Boss
6. An Evil Twin
7. A Random Stranger
8. A Crazy Neighbor
9. A Drunken Co-worker
4. Your Zodiac sign: (Conflict)
Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18): Picking a Fight
Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20): Telling their Secret
Aries (March 21 – April 19): Stealing their Money
Taurus (April 20 – May 20): Poisoning their Drinks
Gemini (May 21 – June 21): Getting them arrested
Cancer (June 22 – July 22): Kidnapping them
Leo (July 23 – August 22): Spreading lies about them
Virgo (August 23 – September 22): Casting a spell on them
Libra (September 23 – October 23): Shooting at them
Scorpio (October 24 – November 21): Trying to break them up
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21): Starting a fire
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19): Challenging them to a duel
5. The first letter of your pet’s name. (Action) No pet? Use a friend or family member’s pet name or select M.
A. Escape to a land in another dimension
B. Hide in a magic trunk
C. Change their identities
D. Pay a fortune for ransom
E. Find the key to an invisible lock
F. Tame the Minotaur
G. Outwit a rogue A.I.
H. Sacrifice their most treasured possession
I. Rescue a changeling from the fey world
J. Learn a government top secret
K. Stop a psychic killer
L. Prevent a war between two kingdoms
M. Discover a cure for a terrible disease
N. Transform a frog with a kiss
O. Acquire a rare, magical jewel
P. Bind a demon
Q. Develop and Drink a magic potion
R. Spin thread into gold
S. Make a deal with the devil
T. Persuade a dragon to give up his hoard
U. Pretend to be enemies
V. Defeat an evil overlord
W. Find and Raise Atlantis
X. Shoot cupid with his own arrow
Y. Swim with crocodiles
Z. Appease a poltergeist
6. Favorite time of Day: (Resolution)
Morning: Find the answer
Noon: Overcome the problem
Afternoon: Negotiate a compromise
Evening: Manage to get away
Night: Defeat the enemy
Here’s the template:
A (1) meets a (2) at a New Year’s Eve costume party. They are instantly attracted to one another but (3) causes a problem by (4). In order to be together, they have to (5) by the stroke of midnight. When they (6), they achieve their Happily Ever After.
To kick things off, I’ll start. Here’s my story: A (Queen) meets a (Merman) at a New Year’s Eve costume party. They are instantly attracted to one another but (an enemy) causes a problem by (challenging them to a duel). In order to be together, they have to (change their identities) by the stroke of midnight. When they (negotiate a compromise), they achieve their Happily Ever After.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and read your stories. You can add them in the comments.
Thank you so much for playing!
This post was first published on the Pen Dames Blog.