Category: Adoption

A #HarlequinHeartwarming #RomanceTuesdays | “After the Rodeo” (Book Two of the Heroes of Shelter Creek series) by Claire McEwen

Posted Tuesday, 1 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I’ve come to know this series [Heroes of Shelter Creek] through hosting the blog tours celebrating releases within the series with Prism Book Tours. However, this September in lieu of an organised blog tour Ms McEwen was seeking book bloggers who were interested in her series and wanted to read the fourth novel in the series “Rescuing the Rancher”. Whilst I was conferring with the author about receiving this for review, I asked if I could receive the second novel in the series “After the Rodeo” as I never had the chance to read Jace and Vivian’s story! I was thankful that Ms McEwen was also available to be a featured guest during my @SatBookChat wherein I celebrate Romance, Women’s Fiction, strong female characters across genres and Feminist Lit on Saturdays each month.

I decided to read and feature “After the Rodeo” ahead of her #SatBookChat appearance and run my review during my #RomanceTuesdays feature wherein I love to showcase Harlequin Heartwarming and Love Inspired authors as they are writing the kinds of Romances I am appreciating most to be reading right now.

I received a complimentary copy of “After the Rodeo” direct from the author Claire McEwen in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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This is one of my top favourite #CowboyRomances by Harlequin Heartwarming:

When I was checking my feeds on Twitter a short while ago, I stumbled on an announcement by Ms McEwen who was seeking book bloggers to read and review her latest release of the Heroes of Shelter Creek series – wherein I was most excited seeing the notice posted as this is one of the Western & Cowboy Romance series I love reading the most published by Harlequin Heartwarming!

I wasn’t sure if I would be in time to request the book for review, but I immediately emailed the author and the rest knitted together out of that conversation! I am so thankful I contacted her when I had as it lead me to being reading this second of the series I had missed between books one and three as much as I have been wanting to host more of the authors I love via Harlequin Heartwarming and/or Love Inspired Suspense – having the Blackwell Brothers / Sisters authors booked during @SatBookChat in October, it was a lovely surprise to have Ms McEwen booked for early September!

If you’re a ready reader of Westerns and Western Romances, I hope this showcase might inspire you to give Harlequin Heartwarming a chance at winning over your love of Westerns because the authors who are writing these stories are writing wicked brilliant characters with stories which lift your spirits as you’re reading them! Plus, the settings alone are awe-inspiring and give you the kind of Western experience you are hoping for in a Western Rom!

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One interesting turn at the beginning of the novel was learning about the changing tides of the cattle industry – how traditional cattlemen and ranchers wanted to turn towards a greener and healthier way of producing their product and why that was an important resurgency in how they could maintain their ranches. Not that all ranchers were open to innovative changes which McEwen happily discloses within Liam’s own family as his brothers are spilt on the issue whilst their father is keenly invested in learning more – hence, how we find Liam is the chosen one to visit with Jace in Shelter Creek!

I, for one love all sorts of Western Romances however it is a bit rarer when within a Contemporary Western we get to talk about how ranching is trying to change its habits and become a more sustainable industry. Across the board farmers and ranchers are having to diversify their yields yearly due to different issues in climate and how to sustain themselves during leaner years wherein I felt broaching the topic of how they approach ranching their land and their cattle is also a valid point because there is a stark difference between big industry and keeping family ranchers in business by modifying their practices to reach a more educated consumer about the differences in those practices. To say I was wholly intrigued by how this novel began is putting it mildly!

Liam is at a cornerstone of his life – where he has to choose to step forward into his future rather than constantly think he cannot handle what life has to offer. This is an intriguing story about redemption – how a man can redeem his own image and identity of himself post trauma and addiction and redirect his own life back onto a purposeful path which renews his own spirit. The foundation of how McEwen laid that down for us to find was lovely because there was a moment where I felt Jace could inspire Liam simply by someone who had gone before him and had to re-alter his own opinion about what life could involve for a man who had a determined view of his own path. Even though I hadn’t had the chance to read After the Rodeo, McEwen gave some lovely hints toward Jace’s own story where I felt I could intuit why she wanted Liam closer to Jace during this transitional period of his own life.

Trisha has such a unique job at the wildlife center – I remember visiting those whilst growing up and wondering about the people who worked there. As I was fascinated how close the handlers could get to the wild animals and how much trust was between the handler and/or trainer and the animal themselves – this is one reason why I love watching shows and series like Crikey! It’s the Irwins because you get to see inside this hidden world of where animals and humans have united together for their own protection and conservation. Trisha has a heart of gold though – even though her life’s story is unconventional – it just suits her personality because she adapts to whatever is happening in her life in the moment. I liked her instantly where we find her in Her Surprise Cowboy because of how earnest she is about finding what Jace and Vivian share between them and how confident she is in her own abilities to give back to the center.

It was humbling coming into Jace and Vivian’s life a bit second-handed to get to know them in such an interpersonal way – because a lot of what anchoured Liam and Trisha together was through the fusion of friendship with Jace and Vivian. They really stepped up to the plate to help out their friends whilst they also offered a lot of heartfelt mentoring. Jace especially gave a lot back to Liam – as I had a feeling they would relate to one another as I was first starting to read this story – both lived the same kind of life in their prior lives and I believed that gave them each a unique perspective on the other. Liam and Trisha needed friends like them because they each were muddling through their own struggles where having a kind friend to lean on would go the extra mile towards finding resolution to what troubled them. Now more than ever I can’t wait to settle into the story of what drew Jace and Vivian together – as there are pieces of their romance peppered inside Her Surprise Cowboy but one day I’ll appreciate reading start to finish!

There is a certain layer of joy in reading a story about second chance romance, new beginnings and the redemption quality of forgiveness. Not just the kind of forgiveness others can give to you themselves but the kind of forgiveness that comes from within the person. A lot of the story is hinged on whether or not Liam and Trisha can find solace from their past and find a way to give themselves the leverage of understanding who they were in the past is not an indication of whom they could become in the future. That’s the rub about the human condition in us all – in not allowing ourselves the wallowing periods of never seeing past mistakes or wrong turns on our path and to continue to seek out the future with an optimistic impression of what we can achieve. By following the footsteps of Liam and Trisha you’re set to find out how forgiveness of one self can lead to a greater freedom than either Liam or Trisha could have envisioned for each other.

McEwen has conceived of a realistic Contemporary Western Romance series wherein each of her characters are struggling through and/or are transitioning through a difficult period of their lives. The realism is brilliantly layered as despite their obstacles and the hurdles they have to overcome there is a defining thread of individual courage and moxie uniting them. McEwen writes soul lifting Contemporary Romance which gives you what you want out of a modern Western Rom whilst grounding you in realistic lives which you can identify with due to how her characters are self-transitioning through the challenges which arise in all of our lives. The circumstances might differ between us and them but its their resolve to fight through to tomorrow which connects us.

-quoted from my book review of Her Surprise Cowboy

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A #HarlequinHeartwarming #RomanceTuesdays | “After the Rodeo” (Book Two of the Heroes of Shelter Creek series) by Claire McEwenAfter the Rodeo
Subtitle: Heroes of Shelter Creek
by Claire McEwen, Ms Claire McEwen
Source: Direct from Author

Her passion for her job...
could cost him everything...

Former rodeo champion Jace Hendricks has six weeks to turn his run-down ranch around or he could lose custody of his nieces and nephews. But biologist Vivian Reed has to survey his land first - and she won't be rushed. Vivian's optimism and wonder start to win over the kids... and even Jace. But with all that's at stake, can he risk getting any more involved with Vivian?

Genres: Adoption & Foster Care, Biological Diversity, Children At Risk, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Ecology, Men's Fiction, Motherhood | Parenthood, Ranches & Cowboys, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Western Fiction, Western Romance


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781335510815

Also by this author: Reunited with the Cowboy, Her Surprise Cowboy

Also in this series: Reunited with the Cowboy, Her Surprise Cowboy


Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 3rd September, 2019

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 376

The Heroes of Shelter Creek series:

Reunited with the Cowboy by Claire McEwenAfter the Rodeo by Claire McEwenHer Surprise Cowboy by Claire McEwenRescuing the Rancher by Claire McEwen

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Reunited with the Cowboy (book one) – Caleb & Maya’s story (see also Review)

After the Rodeo (book two) – Jace & Vivian’s story

Her Surprise Cowboy (book three) – Liam & Trisha’s story (see also Review)

Rescuing the Rancher – Aidan & Jade’s story (book four)

Second Chance Cowboy – (book five) – featuring ?? → forthcoming April, 2021!

I’ll admit – I was a bit worried this was ending as a quartet until I spied the release for 2021 via FantasticFiction which is my main resource for sourcing advance notice about series I am reading when new installments of those series will be revealled in forthcoming months.

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Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin Books

Formats Available: Paperback* and Ebook

*Harlequin has the luxury of offering Regular, Large & Larger Print editions which I personally can attest are lovely to be reading! Especially after a migraine or when my eyes are fatigued.

Converse via: #CowboyRomance, #WesternRomance & #ContemporaryRomance
as well as #HarlequinHeartwarming with #HeroesOfShelterCreek

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Posted Tuesday, 1 September, 2020 by jorielov in #RomanceTuesdays, 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Addictions and Afflictions, Adoption, Blog Tour Host, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Brothers and Sisters, California, Conservation, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Western Fiction, Cowboys & Ranches, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Ecology, Environmental Activism, Environmental Advocacy, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Environmental Solutions, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Foster Care, Green-Minded Social Awareness, Life of Thirty-Somethings, Life Shift, Men's Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Motherhood | Parenthood, Nature & Wildlife, Non-traditional characters, Preservation, Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Siblings, Single Fathers, Sisterhood friendships, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Social Services, Sudden Absence of Parent, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, Sweet Romance, The Natural World, Walking & Hiking Trails, Western Fiction, Western Romance, Widows & Widowers, Women of a Certain Age, Women's Fiction, Women's Health

Blog Book Tour | “Solstice Shadows” (VanOps Series, Book Two) by Avanti Centrae also featuring the audiobook courtesy of #NetGalley!

Posted Wednesday, 12 August, 2020 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: This is marks my first blog tour I’ve hosted for Random Things Tours as a new book blogger working with them to either review and/or host guest author features on behalf of their authors. I was thankful to join their book blogger team and look forward to joining the tours which are highlighting the stories I actively enjoy reading and discovering.

Earlier this year, in late Winter (February) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.

I received a complimentary digital and temporary audiobook copy of “Solstice Shadows” direct from the publisher Thunder Creek Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All audiobooks via NetGalley are able to be heard via the NetGalley Shelf which is why I was thankful to be gifted an android tablet by my parents to celebrate my 7th Blog Birthday on Jorie Loves A Story.

I also received a complimentary ARC copy of “Solstice Shadows” direct from the author Avanti Centrae in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein on either the complimentary ARC edition of this novel nor the NetGalley audiobook edition.

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On how I came to have this in both print and audiobook:

I have chronic migraines and the interesting thing about chronic migraines is how they can sometimes rob you of your short-term memory! In this particular case, I was excited to start requesting audiobooks via NetGalley. I had already confirmed a print copy of this novel was available for review on the blog tour which I celebrated as I knew this won’t always be the case as their not always available to request. I knew this series had a first novel ahead of “Solstice Shadows” and I was hopeful I could have found a copy of the first novel ahead of reading this sequel but my efforts were a bit in vain as I had two severe migraines back to back in mid-to-late July. And, this is around the time NetGalley was starting to offer their audiobooks for review.

I am a new member of NetGalley this year as previously I could not participate as the only editions they offered were ebooks which I cannot read per the aforementioned migraines. As I was browsing the audiobooks available, I noticed the author’s name for this audiobook was the same for an upcoming blog tour except I mistook the names of the titles in the series and ended up requesting the audiobook for “Solstice Shadows” which is the same book I received for review via an ARC for the blog tour. I was a bit mystified about how I made that error and mistake as it was a first for me to confuse the books in a series and which I was receiving for a blog tour. I consider that was owed to the dual migraines and the severity in which they were afflicting me.

However, this became the first audiobook I listened to via NetGalley and was able to review shortly after receiving it and for that I was grateful for the experience. Also, as I have had such a slow shift back into reading this past week – whilst reading “Magnolia Storms” (see also Review) and “Josette” (see also Review), I appreciated having the audiobook to listen to as I was reading the print copy of “Solstice Shadows” as it helped me work through the last fragments of a third migraine which afflicted me this past weekend.

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On why this novel appealled to me to read and listen via the audiobook:

It is a bit of a luxury to have a book in hand whilst I’m listening to an audiobook of the same book – as generally I colour as I’m listening to audiobooks to better help me ‘tune into the narrator’s voice’ however, there are times where I’ve been blessed to have both the book and the audiobook – this particular time round, I wasn’t expecting to have the audiobook which became an unexpected blessing. What drew me into the novel itself though – aside from the fact I overlooked not being able to read or listen to the first novel in the series (as I couldn’t source a copy from either my libraries and/or Scribd until it was too late to listen to “The Lost Power” – which is currently available on audiobook via Scribd) is the fact this is a Contemporary Thriller.

I’ve been reading Technothrillers and Contemporary Thrillers for a long while – in fact, I have the tendency of either reading them and/or seeing them on film or through a tv series. I still remember what it was like to see “Sneakers” for the first time starring Robert Redford (at the time of release!). This has been compared to Indiana Jones and by extension I would believe it might suit audiences of Lara Croft – though for me, Croft is Angelina Jolie’s role as she owned it so dearly well. Plus the only Dr Jones for me is Harrison Ford. Those were the nudges of what the story would be about prior to reading and listening to Solstice Shadows and why I was drawn into the premise.

After reading and hearing Tim Campbell narrate the story I can summarise the book in this way:

As the story begins on the premise of supercomputers and super conductors, a vague memory came back to me about this as I have read and seen other stories which talk about this part of technology. It is intriguing in some ways as it involves quantum computing on a superspeed level of accuracy and computation. Generally I enjoy reading about Quantum Physics, Quantum Mechanics and Supersymmetry – as it applies to AstroPhysics and beyond – however, when it comes to supercomputers and the speed in which information is both processed and assessed and then used by those who are behind the computer(s) themselves leads into a very cunningly thesis on how far afield technology is leading us and how much of ourselves and our privacy might be put into questionable risk therein.

Yet, instead of feeling invested in the pursuit of this technology, I spent my time trying to sort out the characters and the overall scope of the story instead. There are a lot of information dumps in this novel where you feel like there is a reason you’re being shown all of these scenes but they don’t quite interconnect the way I’d had hoped they would. I was left with more questions than answers and somewhere in the mix, I started to lose traction with the overall plot and the reason I first thought this might sound interesting to read.

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Blog Book Tour | “Solstice Shadows” (VanOps Series, Book Two) by Avanti Centrae also featuring the audiobook courtesy of #NetGalley!Solstice Shadows
Subtitle: A VanOps Thriller
by Avanti Centrae
Source: Audiobook Direct from Publisher via NetGalley, Direct from Author via Random Things Tours
Narrator: Tim Campbell

DA VINCI CODE meets TOMB RAIDER in this multi-award-winning thriller series.

A computer-app designer. An encrypted relic. Can she decipher the dangerous code before extremists trigger a high-tech apocalypse?

Software expert Maddy Marshall isn't sure she's ready for a hazardous role in black ops. But when an armed Russian thief makes off with a rare ancient star chart, the aikido black belt has no choice but to join her VanOps boyfriend and twin brother in the pursuit. If her royal Spanish family legends are true, the chart leads to a superconductive treasure trove capable of powering a quantum computer used as the ultimate instrument of global destruction.

Setting off on a mad dash to uncover the secrets of a Mexican archeoastronomy site, she and the VanOps team unearth a clue dating back to biblical times. But as they race across the globe to the Sahara, Turkey, and Egypt, they find themselves only a half-step ahead of sinister assassins.

Before millions die at the hands of an anti-American Russian government, can Maddy crack the secret code?

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Thriller


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on NetGalley

ISBN: 978-1-7349662-2-0

Published by Thunder Creek Press

on 11th August, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital Review Copy (NetGalley), Paperback ARC

Pages: 404

Length: 9 hours and 28 minutes and 25 seconds (unabridged)

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The VanOps Series:

SOLSTICE SHADOWS is the second book in the fast-paced, multi-award-winning VanOps thriller series. If you enjoy smart edge-of-your-seat suspense such as James Rollins THE LAST ODYSSEY, the Sean Wyatt series by Ernest Dempsey, the NOWHERE MAN by Gregg Hurwitz, ORIGIN by Dan Brown, Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series, the Atlee Pine series by David Baldacci, or THE ORACLE by Clive Cussler, you’ll stay up late turning the pages of Avanti Centrae’s high-stakes novel.

VANOPS: THE LOST POWER was an instant Barnes and Noble best seller. A rare multi-award-winning novel, it took home a genre grand prize blue ribbon at the 2017 Chanticleer International Book Awards, an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival, and a shiny bronze medal at the 2019 Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

The Lost Power (book one)

Solstice Shadows (book two)

Published by: Thunder Creek Press

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #Contemporary #Thriller as well as #VanOps and #SolsticeShadows

About Avanti Centrae

Avanti Centrae

International award-winning author who blends intrigue, history, science, and mystery into non-stop action thrillers.

Avanti Centrae is the author of the international multi-award-winning VANOPS thriller series. An instant #1 Barnes and Noble Nook bestseller, THE LOST POWER took home a genre grand prize ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards, a shiny bronze medal at the Wishing Shelf Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the Hollywood Book Festival. Her father served as a U.S. marine corporal in Okinawa, gathering military intelligence during the first decade after the Korean War. Her work has been compared to that of James Rollins, Steve Berry, Dan Brown, and Clive Cussler. She resides in Northern California with her family and German shepherds.

Visit the author's website - First six chapters FREE!
Sign up for special offers and giveaways!!

Read More

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Posted Wednesday, 12 August, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Adoption, ARC | Galley Copy, Audiobook, Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Brothers and Sisters, Contemporary Thriller, Content Note, Equality In Literature, Espionage, Fly in the Ointment, Foster Care, Indie Author, Men's Fiction, Modern Day, Motherhood | Parenthood, Random Things Tours, Siblings, Spy Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Solomon’s Bell” (Book Two: Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery Combs

Posted Wednesday, 20 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: A few years ago now, I started to review for World Weaver Press – until I reached the day where my focus on the stories I was receiving for review fell by the wayside. A lot of this had to do with my personal health, the recovery of my father’s stroke and other things which bring adversity into your life which can and will affect your readerly life. I cannot remember exactly what first took me away from reading “Heir to the Lamp” or the sequel “Solomon’s Bell” – however, I did attempt to read them at various moments throughout the past few years including shortly after I received “Solomon’s Bell” for which I posted a Cover Reveal and Extract.

During our 2nd Year (2019) for #WyrdAndWonder, I wanted to redeem myself a bit by getting back into the stories I attempted to read during our 1st year of #WyrdAndWonder (2018) but due to the migraines and other issues I was having with my health, I was unable to complete my reading schedule for the event. This is one of the series I was most eager to read and am thankful I finally was able to start reading it during our 2nd Year of Wyrd and Wonder whilst finishing it in our 3rd. As I know there are other readers who are following or joining the event directly who appreciate Magical Realism and/or stories of the Jinn as much as I do. Perhaps they will find a new author through my ruminations and as always, I hope whenever I feature a story or anthology by World Weaver Press – word will continue to get out about this lovely Indie Publisher for Speculative Fiction!

I received a complimentary copy of “Solomon’s Bell” direct from the publisher World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

I admit it, ever since I met a ‘Golem’ & a ‘Jinni’, I’ve been intrigued by Magical Realism stories involving the Jinn!:

Set during a pivotal game for Virginia as a competitive JV Girls’ Basketball competitor – we open the story as Ginn is about to receive some humbling and surprising news about herself, her destiny and the ways in which she previously perceived her world. You can intuit this through the revelation at the end of the game – where her team is down for the count, the opposing team has a new member whose height puts them at a distinct advantage and where Ginn’s team is doing everything they can not to  lose the faith they could win the game from the underdog status they found themselves trying to overcome. It is here – as we are with Ginn in the car with her family as they make their way to the gym to see the game, we notice a few things about her – she’s not comfortable being in a large family nor is she enthused about having as many siblings as she has which were achieved through adoption.

The adoption side of her life is lightly touched upon – mostly through the angst of a thirteen year old who isn’t quite sure why her parents wanted to keep adding to their family or have to take-on the world whenever someone from outside the family grew critical of their choices in life; especially in how they grew their family through adoption. You can understand her perspective on the matter – as she has an eclectic sibling group whilst you can also appreciate the heart and humbled spirit of her parents who wanted to raise children and did not have a preference of whether or not they were all biologically related to them. I have a soft spot for stories involving Adoption – as I am desiring to adopt from foster care in the future – therefore, whenever I see a story involving Adoption, I do take a more critical eye on how it is discussed and how it fits into the story being told.

I think part of the reason I was struggling to anchour into story and to get into step with Ginn is how her story was being disclosed. It felt a little disjointed at first – but then, once you see her with her mother and she starts to talk about her grandmother – you start to notice her differently, seeing how much she’s trying to understand this transitional period of her life and somewhere at that junction her story starts to move forward in a way you can soak into her world.

Ginn is a girl on the brink of entering her teenage years but she’s more bogged down in worrying about what is plaguing her mind moreso than going through puberty. She has a caring mother who looks after her whenever she’s not feeling quite up to par and even goes out of her way to ensure her daughter will feel a bit better which I felt was a sweet touch. What was lovely though was seeing how a few life lessons and life philosophies were being layered into the story-line – guided by Ginn’s Mum but also, turnt over for introspective reasoning by Ginn herself. There is a point about how nightmares can overtake you if your not careful about how you extract yourself from them but also, on the importance of family. This is a close-knit family who appreciate being with their grandmother but also with each other – even if half the time, I suspect they drive each other a bit batty round the edges, as all good-natured large families do.

You have to laugh, really! Combs has worked in some cleverly placed real-world cultural points of interest into the background of the story – such as Ginn’s Mum having an affinity of interest for the cooking shows we all get excited about time after time – giving her children a bit of an interesting voyage into the culinary arts! I was smiling the whole time as apparently Ginn’s Mum isn’t as gifted in the kitchen as my Mum is nor is she as naturally intuitive about how certain ingredients work best together. This is why I was smiling the most – hearing Ginn tell it, they would be better off if they cooked from ready-made boxes and ate out on occasion if they could afford to do it.

Where the story took a turning into the fantastical is when Rashmere shows up rather unexpectedly and how he points out to Ginn all the different ways her current life is about to unravel. The expressive nature of Rashmere is too adorable! You’ll have to read the story to find out the species Rashmere is on first sight but somehow, Combs tapped into how he could be expressive despite his small presence when he initially enters Ginn’s life. In essence he steals the scene!

I immediately felt connected to Gran – she’s the kind of grandmother you can warm up to rather quickly because of her approach to life! She has a zest for humour and she has a winsome attitude when it comes to how she disarms your nerves. I loved her back-story about how she had to overcome the odds against her on the Army bases her husband had been stationed on? It shows how sometimes the people who exhume the most confidence can sometimes have their own struggles to bear and work through just like everyone else. Mostly though – she just seemed like a wicked awesome grandmother and definitely someone you could confide in the worries weighing on your mind such as the kind Ginn had on hers.

Gran had a keen ability of telling Ginn her back history in such a way that makes it credible despite the fact it has a lot of fantastical elements inside it – as this is a heritage which involves the Jinn. Though not quite the kind of Jinn everyone has heard of before but the kind who has a mixed heritage that involves the Jinn and humans. From there, what was quite impressive is how well Gran took to ensure Ginn of the details even to discuss how her feelings on this matter of disclosure were not the same as her parents – which struck me a bit as an interesting piece of information – as if Ginn’s adoptive parents dismissed a portion of her back-story, than if it weren’t for Gran disclosing the fuller story to her on her birthday, one had to wonder – would Ginn have started to deepen her curiosity about all the unexpected events happening to her since she turnt thirteen?

As we shift into the story of the Jinn – Combs does a wonderful job at educating us on the past histories of the Jinn, how they can exist and what their nature involved in regards to how they used their gifts of magic. It never felt like a specific section of information being given to you as she used Ginn’s own lack of understanding her birth origins as a route of information being passed onto the reader. The closer Ginn went with her own research, the closer we felt we understood who the Jinn were and the laws of how they existed. This also broached the topics of the books of Jinn known as the ‘grimoire’ and how the ancestry of the Jinn was as ancient as it were timeless.

Personally, my favourite character was not Ginn but Rashmere! He had the best attributes as a character but also, I felt his role in the story was so rounded and fleshed out, that his presence was a true delight to have threading through the background. I definitely am hoping he has a strong presence in the next volume of the series Solomon’s Bell as he was a keenly pivotal character within Heir to the Lamp.

This is a good novel to serve as a gateway into Magical Realism (as its the lighter side of the genre) whilst also giving a good footing of insight into Urban Fantasy and mythological Fantasy involving the Jinn. I think it would appeal to a lot of readers who are seeking a bit of danger and adventure within a fantastical world where not everything is exactly as it seems on the surface of what is being presented but where if you dig a bit deeper into the heart of what is being said, you’ll find the truth glimmering as strong as the purple smoke which is Ginn’s trademark.

-quoted from my review of Heir to the Lamp

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Solomon’s Bell” (Book Two: Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery CombsSolomon's Bell
Subtitle: Genie Chronicles Book Two
by Michelle Lowery Combs
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Sarena Ulibarri
Source: Direct from Publisher

Ginn thinks she has problems at home until she magically lands herself in 16th Century Prague. To save her family, Ginn uses her newfound genie powers to transport herself and her friends to 16th century Prague. Only one thing there remains the same as at home: she can't let anyone know what she really is.

The Emperor of Prague and those closest to him are obsessed with magic. In pursuit of it, they’ve waged war on the citizens of their city. In the citizens' defense, someone has brought to life a golem, a dangerous being with connections to an artifact capable of summoning and commanding an entire army of genies.

Can Ginn escape the notice of the Emperor as she attempts to discover a way to defeat Prague’s golem in time to save her family from a similar creature?

Solomon's Bell is the sequel to Heir to the Lamp and the second book of the Genie Chronicles series.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, YA Fantasy, YA Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on World Weaver Press

ISBN: 978-0997788877

Also by this author: Solomon's Bell (Cover Reveal + Extract), Heir to the Lamp

Also in this series: Heir to the Lamp


Published by World Weaver Press

on 7th March, 2017

Pages: 224

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

The Genie Chronicles series:

Heir to the Lamp by Michelle Lowery CombsSolomon's Bell by Michelle Lowery Combs

Genre(s): Speculative | Young Adult | Fantasy | Lore & Legends

the Jinn (or Jinnis or Genies) | Adoption

Similar Reads: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (see also Review)

About Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and book blogger living in rural Alabama with her husband, one cat and too many children to count. She spends her spare time commanding armies of basketball and soccer munchkins for the Parks & Recreation departments of two cities.

When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens and teens, Michelle can be found neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next best seller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, Jacksonville State University’s Writers’ Club and her local Aspiring Authors group.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 20 May, 2020 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Adoption, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Equality In Literature, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Foster Care, Indie Author, Magical Realism, Orphans & Guardians, Siblings, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, World Weaver Press, Young Adult Fiction

A #ChristmasReads selection of Jorie’s during #blogmas | “A Family by Christmas” (Book One: Little Shops on Heart Street series) by Viv Royce

Posted Thursday, 12 December, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#blogmas 2019 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Borrowed Book By: I came to find out about this Christmas Romance release as I follow the social feeds on Twitter for Vivian Conroy – of whom is the writer behind this novel. She writes for different publishers and uses a few different pen names to denote which type of story and/or series she is writing. When I learnt about this upcoming Christmas release I asked my local library to purchase a copy as I was hoping they might consider it for one of their new Christmas selections for the year. I happily received the news they did select it and was thankful I had the chance to read it during #blogmas.

Therefore borrowed a print copy of “A Family by Christmas” from my local library and I was not obligated to post a review and are sharing my ruminations with my readers for my own edification as well as happily sharing my bookish life with my readers and visitors alike. The Press Materials however were provided by the author and are used with permission.

On how I came to find this author:

I first became introduced to this author’s writing style through her Cosy Historical and Cosy Contemporary Mysteries – as I previously read “In Peppermint Peril” for last year’s #cloakanddaggerchristmas readathon and I had the joyful pleasure of being involved in the Twitter chat #Conroy10 which celebrated the release of “The Butterfly Conspiracy” before I had the chance to read the book myself!

However, more to the point, I truly came to know her as a writer and as a conversationalist through her Historical Fiction Twitter chat #HistFicChat – of which we both share a mutually beloved passion for the historic past as explored through today’s Historical narratives which criss-cross through History and give us a wicked good impression of the past!

This marks the first release of her Contemporary Romances by Entangled Publishing – a new Indie publisher I was thankful to have crossed paths with as they offer romances within a lot of the sub-genres of interest I have as a Romance reader.

When I learnt of the release for “A Family by Christmas” I knew I wanted to see if my local library could purchase it in time to read by Christmas. What I hadn’t expected was reading it in the golden hour of having it a bit too long due to my father’s medical crisis & my Winter cold which not just took me offline for a week but also had me have a bit of amnesia when it came to my library account! I completely lost track of ‘where’ I was with my borrows both for print and audio – so I quickly made amends to get this novel & Ms Bacarr’s novel back to the library for the next borrowers in queue to read them before Christmas!

I also had the pleasure of hosting Vivian Conroy during one of my 2019 @SatBookChat‘s! The archived conversations are available to be seen in @SatBookChat’s Moments.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A #ChristmasReads selection of Jorie’s during #blogmas | “A Family by Christmas” (Book One: Little Shops on Heart Street series) by Viv RoyceA Family by Christmas
Subtitle: Sometimes Wishes Do Come True | Little Shops on Heart Street
by Viv Royce
Source: Borrowed from local library, Purchase REQ | local library

Chocolatier Emma Miller has a new business selling bonbons to the residents of the quaint town of Wood Creek. When a tiny visitor stops by her shop with an interesting request. Emma is intrigued. The young girl needs chocolates that will help her widowed dad fall in love, preferably with her teacher. What Emma didn’t count on was Casey’s ever so charming and handsome dad, Grant, stepping into her life. She has to remind herself to be cautious because the one thing she learned in foster care is that people always leave.

Pilot Grant Galloway is touched by his daughter’s gift and is curious about the person who made the world-class chocolates. But when he steps into Emma’s shop full of delicious smells and tasty morsels, he forgets to breathe. And it has nothing to do with the his favourite desert. She’s pretty and kind, and when she has to deal with a difficult client, his protective instincts kick into high gear. But he risked his heart once. When his wife died, it left him broken. He’s just now beginning to pick up the pieces, and he and his daughter will be leaving town once the holidays are over.

Thanks to some Christmas wishes, though, these two might discover that their carefully laid plans are about to change.

Genres: Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Cookery, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Sweet Romance


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1694079374

Published by Entangled Publishing

on 18th September, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 160

Published by: Entangled Publishing (@entangledpub)

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

Christmas Romance Book Icon made by Jorie in Canva.

Converse via: #ChristmasRomance and #SweetRomance

About Viv Royce

A Family by Christmas promo banner provided by the author Viv Royce and is used with permission.

With the same trademark atmospheric settings, relatable characters and cute canines that made several of her cozy mysteries #1 Amazon US and Canada bestsellers in multiple categories, Vivian Conroy pens romance as Viv Royce, creating heartthrob heroes ranging from rugged pilots to royals reluctant to believe in true love who meet their match in that girl next door or the co-worker with the business ideas exactly opposing their own – happy endings guaranteed! When not frequenting fictional worlds, Viv loves to hike (especially in the mountains), craft with paper, felt and clay, and hunt for the perfect cheesecake. Quite active on Twitter, she's the founder of #HistFicChat, a live Twitter chat about historical fiction, featuring authors like Kate Quinn, Anna Lee Huber and Susan Spann, and would love for readers to follow her and connect via @VivWrites.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 12 December, 2019 by jorielov in #blogmas, #JorieLovesIndies, A Father's Heart, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Foster Care, Indie Author, Life Shift, Motherhood | Parenthood, New England, Northeast USA, Orphans & Guardians, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Single Fathers, Singletons & Commitment, Small Towne Fiction, Sudden Absence of Parent, Sweet Romance, Widows & Widowers