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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Historical Fiction: Holliday by Matthew Di Paoli

by Matthew Di Paoli
July 5, 2023
Biographical Fiction, Western
Holliday follows the infamous 1880s gambler, dentist, and gunslinger, Doc Holliday. From the outset, Doc has been diagnosed with tuberculosis and is told to head to dryer climates and imbibe to prolong his life. He has also heard of a spring located somewhere along the frontier that could cure him—what he believes to be the mythical Fountain of Youth. The novel portrays Holliday as a rock star, a living legend, increasingly hounded by paparazzi, enamored by death, cards, booze, and women. Doc is a mixture of Clint Eastwood and Jim Morrison, and though he is able to help his friend, Wyatt Earp, exact revenge, his condition worsens, traveling from Arizona to Denver, and finally dying in a sanatorium in Colorado with his boots off. A slow and unfitting end for such a bombastic outlaw


About the Author
Matthew Di Paoli has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times including 2020. He has won the Wilbur & Niso Smith Adventure Writing Prize for Holliday, the Prism Review, 2 Elizabeth's, and Momaya Review Short Story Contests. Matthew earned his BA at Boston College where he won the Cardinal Cushing award and the Dever Fellowship. He received his MFA in Fiction at Columbia University. He has been published in Boulevard, Fjords, Post Road, and Cleaver, among others. He is the author of Killstanbul with El Balazo Press and teaches writing in New York City. You can find more at

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Unbroken Queen (The Bone Throne Series Book 1) by Terina Adams

We're touring The Unbroken Queen this week, which is the first book in a new enemies-to-lovers fantasy romance series called The Bone Throne!

The Unbroken Queen (The Bone Throne Series Book 1)

by Terina Adams
April 21, 2024
Genre: Fantasy Romance Forbidden Love
  • Burn the World Down Romance
  • Enemies-to-Lovers
  • Vengeance
  • Found Friendships
  • Born illegitimate. Trained an assassin. Crowned a queen.
As an illegitimate princess, I’m bound by duty and betrothed to the crown prince of the House of Tannard, rulers of the nearby realms. However, beneath the royal façade, I serve as a loyal disciple of the formidable Sistern of Silence, the masters of soul voice. The sacred legacy of the death arts, a rare gift, courses through my veins, a heritage from my father’s line.

Upon reaching the distant shores of Tarragona to meet my betrothed, I discover I’ve been manipulated by the Mother of the Sistern. I was chosen to be the future queen for a reason I can’t yet fathom—a reason that could bring catastrophic consequences upon the realms.

As the northern realm’s thirst for power intensifies and its enigmatic Razohan leader aims to reclaim the southern throne and the prized Etherweave, my disdain for my fiancé seems inconsequential, overshadowed by the imminent specter of war.

To protect the House of Tannard and maintain the delicate equilibrium of power, I must delve deeper into the clandestine pillars of the Sistern and awaken the lethal power of the death arts, lying dormant within me.

In a world where treachery and concealed truths dominate, I must remember that in war, love and mercy are luxuries none can afford. I’ve pledged my allegiance to the House of Tannard, but the allure of the Razohan leader, my constant shadow and adversary, tests my loyalty—and threatens to unravel my very soul.

IG: @terina_adamsauthor @rrbooktours

TikTok: @terinaadamsauthor @shannon_of_rrbooktours

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Book Review: Mind Games by Nora Roberts

Mind Games
by Nora Roberts
May 21, 2024
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250289698
As they do each June, the Foxes have driven the winding roads of Appalachia to drop off their children for a two-week stay at their grandmother’s. Here, twelve-year-old Thea can run free and breathe in the smells of pine and fresh bread and Grammie’s handmade candles. But as her parents head back to suburban Virginia, they have no idea they’re about to cross paths with a ticking time bomb.

Back in Kentucky, Thea and her grandmother Lucy both awaken from the same nightmare. And though the two have never discussed the special kind of sight they share, they know as soon as their tearful eyes meet that something terrible has happened.

The kids will be staying with Grammie now in Redbud Hollow, and thanks to Thea’s vision, their parents’ killer will spend his life in supermax. Over time, Thea will make friends, build a career, find love. But that ability to see into minds and souls still lurks within her, and though Grammie calls it a gift, it feels more like a curse—because the inmate who shattered her childhood has the same ability. Thea can hear his twisted thoughts and witness his evil acts from miles away. He knows it, and hungers for vengeance. A long, silent battle will be waged between them—and eventually bring them face to face, and head to head…


Thea and Rem Fox’s parents are murdered in their Virginian home while the children are visiting their grandmother in Kentucky for two weeks. Thea saw it all in a dream, with her psychic abilities. The same dream Grammie Lucy awoke from. She tells the local police who call the Fredericksburg police investigating the murder and capture the killer at a motel. The man takes a plea and is imprisoned for life twice over. Thea and Rem grow up their grandmother’s charge. Things appear to be all right for them, except for a problem. The murderer is just like Thea--he is a mind reader too and why he saw her in the dream.

If you enjoy Stranger Things where Eleven can dream walk due to her psychic abilities and others like that, adding a thriller and love story to it, then Nora Roberts’ Mind Games might hit the sweet spot for you. I am not sure I cared for the part where it went more into Thea’s and Rem’s childhood—it could have added a bit more past that, but longer then it should have been. Maybe, if needed, flashbacks could have been sprinkled it when Thea is in college and as an adult.

I gave Mind Games 4 sheep.




Reviewed by Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:

Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including Shelter in Place, Year One, Come Sundown, and many more. She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series written under the pen name J.D. Robb. There are more than five hundred million copies of her books in print.

Monday, May 20, 2024

New Release: In Our Stars (The Doomed Earth Book 1) by Jack Campbell

Known for his bestselling Lost Fleet series, Jack Campbell is a must-read author for fans of action-packed military sci-fi and readers of Martha Wells and John Scalzi. IN OUR STARS is the first novel of Campbell’s brand-new Doomed Earth series, following a spaceship lieutenant who has one last chance to save the Earth from destruction.

In Our Stars (The Doomed Earth Book 1)

by Jack Campbell
Book 1 of 2: The Doomed Earth
May 21, 2024
Genre: science fiction, time travel
Lieutenant Selene Genji has one last chance to save the Earth from destruction in this pulse-pounding science fiction adventure, from the author of the New York Times bestselling Lost Fleet series.

Earth, 2180

Genetically engineered with partly alien DNA, Lieutenant Selene Genji is different from ordinary humans. And they hate her for it. Still, she’s spent her life trying to overcome society’s prejudice by serving in the Unified Fleet while Earth’s international order collapses into war.

Genji is stationed on a ship in orbit when humanity’s factional extremism on the planet reaches a boiling point, and she witnesses the utter annihilation of Earth. When the massive forces unleashed by Earth’s death warp space and time to hurl her forty years into the past, Genji is given a chance to try to change the future and save Earth—starting with the alien first contact only she knows will soon occur.

Earth, 2140

Lieutenant Kayl Owen’s ship is on a routine patrol when a piece of spacecraft wreckage appears out of nowhere. To his shock, there is a survivor on board: Selene Genji. Once her strange heritage is discovered, though, it becomes clear that Genji is a problem Earth Guard command wants to dispose of—quietly. After learning the horrifying truth, Owen helps her escape and joins her mission.

Together, they have a chance to change the fate of an Earth doomed to die in 2180. But altering history could put Genji’s very existence in danger, and Owen wonders if a world without her is one worth saving. . . .

Praise for the novels of Jack Campbell

“An excellent blend of real science and space action. I enjoyed myself thoroughly from first to last page.”—Brandon Sanderson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn Series

“Campbell combines the best parts of military SF and grand space opera.”—Publishers Weekly

“Campbell’s genius is action in space.”—

About the Author 
Jack Campbell is the pen name of John G. Hemry, a retired naval officer who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis before serving with the surface fleet and in a variety of other assignments. He is the New York Times bestselling author of the Lost Fleet, the Lost Stars, and the Genesis Fleet series, as well as the Stark’s War, Paul Sinclair, and Pillars of Reality series. He lives with his indomitable wife and three children in Maryland.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

A House Like an Accordion by Audrey Burges + excerpt

A House Like an Accordion
by Audrey Burges
May 21, 2024
Genre: Magical realism, women's fiction
A woman searches for her missing father in order to reconcile the many strange and fantastical secrets of her past before she loses herself completely in this deeply profound and magical novel by Audrey Burges.

Keryth Miller is disappearing.

Between the growing distance from her husband, the demands of two teenage daughters, and an all-encompassing burnout, she sometimes feels herself fading away. Actual translucence, though—that’s new. When Keryth wakes up one morning with her hand completely gone, she is frantic. But she quickly realizes two things: If she is disappearing, it’s because her father, an artist with the otherworldly ability to literally capture life in his art, is drawing her. And if he’s drawing her, that means he’s still alive.

But where has he been for the past twenty-five years, and why is he doing the one thing he always warned her not to? Never draw from life, Keryth. Every line exacts a cost. As Keryth continues to slowly fade away, she retraces what she believes to be her father's last steps through the many homes of her past, determined to find him before it’s too late and she disappears entirely.

“Burges's A House Like an Accordion is a beautiful exploration of family and the threads that tie them together, whether magical or blood. Through Keryth's eyes, we see a poignant raw portrait of love and faith.”—Roselle Lim, author of Night for Day

“A poignant look at the ties of family, A House Like an Accordion captivated me with its magic. I felt like I’d stepped into a contemporary fairytale I did not want to leave. Audrey Burges' words absolutely sparkle.”—Erin A. Craig, #1 New York Times bestselling author of House of Roots and Ruin


Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The House on the Waves
August 2016
I was brushing my teeth when my hand disappeared.

I was thirty-nine and naked, holding myself in a one-legged star pose on the marble floor of my bathroom, looking for balance. My focal point was in the mirror-my pink toothbrush, which was, I suddenly realized, suspended in midair, as if dangling from a length of wire hung from the bathroom's vaulted ceiling. I could feel it buzzing in the hand I couldn't see.

I thought it must be a trick of the light. Our house was full of windows, glass and sun bouncing reflections of the ocean into every living space, as cold as the Pacific sprawled beneath us. But no: I put down the toothbrush, held my hand in front of me, and gazed right through it to my face in the mirror, with its high cheekbones and widow's peak like my mother's. I grasped at my translucent fingers with my right hand and felt them, still solid, but nearly invisible. There was a softness to the skin I couldn't see, as if I could pierce it with the slightest pressure.

I heard the house begin to wake around me. Ellory was rolling her mat out on her floor, ready to force herself through the yoga workout she'd declared last spring she would do every single day because her routines-senior-year AP classes, driving too fast down our winding road along the beach, sniping at her younger sister-were "stressing her out." A summer's worth of classes at the community college nearby hadn't ended her determination. Mindy, fifteen and complaining already about the pace of high school, not yet a week underway, was hitting her snooze alarm for the third time. And Max was bumping into the same corner of the platform bed with the same bruised shin on his staggering path to the kitchen, where the coffee I'd made was waiting.

Max would leave me alone in the bathroom until I was finished, but our mornings had the expected ebb and flow of the mundane, and my disappearing limb was a disruption. I planted myself on the floor, a stump in the current, and flexed my fingers. I couldn't wear my rings at night. The encircling metal felt too constricting and claustrophobic as I tried and failed to sleep. They glinted on the ring keeper on the bathroom counter, and I tiptoed over to retrieve them, closing my eyes to slide them over the knuckle of my left ring finger. The stones-antique emeralds, handed down through Max's family-were sharp and caught on everything. This time, they caught a beam of sun from the skylight, casting greenish rainbows around the room and on the memory of my freckled hand. I willed it to reappear.

I jumped at the knock on the door. "Keryth?" Max's voice was tentative, still wounded from our fight the night before. "You in there?"

"Where else would I be?" I snapped. I evened out my breathing and started again. "I'll be out in a minute."

"Can I get you anything? You want some coffee?"

A peace offering. I don't want coffee, I want you to leave me alone. All of you, for maybe five minutes, just leave me alone. I was being unfair, and I knew I was being unfair, which only made the voice inside me more vicious. The fight had been over the doctor-Max's words, glancing lightly like a stone thrown across water, wondering if it might be worth getting some blood work done. Because surely there must be some explanation for these mood swings, some levels and numbers and precise indicia that could be calibrated, the way Max calibrated everything.

I looked at the vein on my forearm, snaking from the crook of my elbow and fading into nothingness. I thought of the unfriendly nurse who always complained about my treacherous blood, the way it hid from her needle, refusing to yield itself up for tests. Your veins are practically invisible!

The laugh that barked out of me was involuntary.

"I'll get myself some coffee in a minute." I took the rings off my finger and slipped them back over the porcelain hand on the counter, which was cold and unyielding, but tangible. My robe, oversized and ratty, terry cloth stained with the spit-up of babies long since grown up, was hanging from the hook on the door. I put it on and tied it, sliding my hands-present and missing-into the wide pockets, hoping I looked normal as I loped, slouch shouldered, to my closet. Beneath the shelves of purses I didn't carry and shoes I didn't wear, I had a dovetailed drawer filled with gloves the California weather never called for. Kid leather, mostly, in every color, with tiny covered buttons down the sides. Elegant, finger-lengthening gloves like I used to see in ads for expensive cars and perfume, back when such things seemed wildly out of reach.

I selected a Kelly-green pair and shoved my hand and my non-hand into them, breathing a sigh of relief at symmetry restored. I let my robe fall to the floor and dressed the rest of my body, which was still corporeal, for all that Max said I would fade away if I didn't eat. My long-sleeved shirts were mostly flannel, and August blazed over my head, but I was starved for other options. I put a white tank top underneath a green plaid shirt I left unbuttoned, flapping over jeans I needed to replace with a smaller pair, but hadn't yet. Finally garbed but feeling garbled, I strode out of the closet and bedroom and walked, as casually as I could, into the kitchen.

"Are you cold, Mom?" Mindy, long legs folded underneath her on the window seat next to the kitchen table, cocked her head to one side. "The AC is on too high, Dad."

"It's set to seventy-eight." Max turned from the coffeepot and furrowed his brow at my outfit. "Harold," he called to the ceiling, "run a diagnostic on the HVAC, okay?"

"Well, sure, happy to. But I gotta say, kiddo, look who's worried about the thermostat now." The voice that rang out overhead was reedy and puckish, exactly as my father-in-law would have been, if he were alive. Or so I guessed. I'd never met him-only the artificial version of him that Max had spent his life perfecting.

"Yes, Harold, thanks." Max barely looked up from his coffee.

"Have you thought about putting on a sweater?"

"That's enough, Harold," Max and I said in unison.

Ellory ran into the room in her customary rush, heading toward the coffeepot to retrieve the only substance I could convince her to put into her body before leaving for school each morning. "Mom? Are you feeling okay? Why are you wearing gloves?"

I shrugged and delivered the lie I'd already thought of. "I sliced my hands up pretty good gardening yesterday. These'll help the ointment work."

Max shook his head. "It was the blackberries, wasn't it?"

"No." I felt a rush of defensiveness creep into my voice. Max hated the blackberry canes I'd planted in our yard-he considered them weeds and disliked their thorny encroachment on his otherwise manicured garden, not that he manicured it himself. "It was the roses."

Max nodded. "The ones with thorns smell the best, but it's hard not to like the thornless ones better."

"I was just pruning them back and giving them some fish guts, ungrateful bastards."

"Nature, red in tooth and claw." Max stepped toward me and stopped, his eyes seeking permission, and I nodded. He kissed the top of my head. "What have you got going on today?"

Trying to figure out where the hell my hand went. "Some research, maybe."

"What kind?"

Hand restoration. Hand-disappeared-what-do-I-do. Marty McFly Syndrome, you know, when his parents never got together and he started to disappear-

Oh my God.

Two thoughts of equal volume, equal urgency, careened through my head at the same time.

One: my father must be alive. The thought filled me with a peculiar mix of relief and fury, remembering the look on his face as he stepped out of my life and into oblivion as I screamed on the banks of a long-abandoned pond. How many years? I pretended not to know. Nearly a quarter century now, and as vivid as the first moment.

Two: wherever he was, however he was drawing breath, Papa must also have been drawing me. Somewhere, somehow, he was sketching the bones and tendons of my hand as he remembered it. Just the left hand-the one I used to brace the page I drew upon as Papa peered over my head, staring down at my drawings.

He was drawing from life. The way he always taught me not to. And if he didn't stop, I would be as trapped as the Steller's jay I still carried with me in the sketchbook I always kept by my side.


The Thorn House

August 1985

The first time Papa got me a sketchbook of my own, I carried it around for days, its pages blank, its cover as pristine as I could manage to keep it. It wasn't pink or sparkly. Its black matte cover showed me it was real-a real sketchbook, for a real artist. It meant Papa believed in me, and shining under the light of his faith, any lines I sketched could only possibly be a disappointment. I clutched my blank sketchbook while I flipped through Papa's, filled with cupolas and arched windows and low adobe structures, incomplete fragments of stone and wood occasionally interspersed with whole buildings. Some were recognizable, and some we had yet to find. All of them came from the real world, and anything Papa drew from reality bore real consequences. But I didn't understand that then.

I was afraid to draw in my own book, but the images inside Papa's looked stark and lonely, and I longed to give them company. He found me crouched over a page with a red pen, my imagined cardinal already half-sketched atop the graphite needles of a spruce tree he'd drawn, and he bellowed at me with a thundering voice I'd never heard him use before. I dropped the red pen as if it were made of lava. I've never used a red pen since.

He knew I was frightened, and he dropped to his knees beside me, gathering me into his arms. "Keryth. I'm so sorry I scared you. But you didn't know what you were doing."

I sniffed-louder than I meant to-and ordered my tears to stay where they were, burning behind my lashes. "I know I don't know what I'm doing. I can't draw. Not like you. I'm sorry I ruined your picture, Papa."

"Is that what you think?" He smoothed my mousy-brown curls back from my face and looked into my eyes. "Keryth, is that why you haven't used your book?"

"I'm going to ruin it. I'll only draw something stupid."

"You're not going to ruin it. And nothing is stupid when you're creating something new. That's how we learn. I got the book for you because you said you wanted to draw together. I was going to show you some things."

"But I drew in your book, and now you're angry."

"I'm not angry." Papa sat cross-legged on the floor and pulled me into his lap. "It's just that the lines in that book have a price, or at least they do when I draw them. I don't know yet if it'll be the same for you. That's why I wanted to try it together first."

I looked at my scribbled cardinal, interrupted mid-beak. "Your tree was empty. Everything in your book is empty."

"As empty as I can make it, yes. And I still mess up sometimes. Have you ever seen a cardinal in person?"

I shook my head. "Only in Gran's Audubon book."

"Good. That's good."

"Why is that good?"

Papa stood up and reached for my hands, pulling me to my feet. "Follow me, and I'll show you."

We walked through the creaking screen door of our small cabin, and the hiss of the hinge slammed it shut behind us. I followed Papa to the blackberry bushes that ringed the house. The fruit was so ripe that the canes drooped under the weight, surrounded by frustrated bumblebees. No animals foraged the berries, and birds would only swoop down close to investigate and then soar upward again, as if encountering invisible netting that blocked their beaks.

The berries were only for us.

Papa pointed out a determined Steller's jay, the tufted crest on his head cocked to one side as he puffed out his chest on a ponderosa branch high above the blackberry canes. "He's planning his next route of attack," Papa said.

"Why can't he get the berries?" I watched the jay make another V-shaped dive, another perplexed perch on the branch. "Why can't any of the animals?"

"Because we're the only animals I made them for. Now watch." Papa flipped open my blank sketchbook and grasped the pencil he always kept at the ready behind his ear. I watched the line grow behind his hand, curving into a sketched approximation of the jay more rapidly than I could follow, right down to the tilt of his head. I looked up to the ponderosa branch to compare the likeness, but the jay was gone.

I took back my sketchbook and peered at the shaded feathers, the intricate detail capturing even the minute fronds around the jay's eye. And then I looked at the eye, and my heart stopped.

"Papa." I felt my breath quicken, and I couldn't pull my eyes away from the jay's. "Papa. He's trapped."

"Yes, he is." Papa's voice carried a wistful finality as he tucked the pencil back behind his ear.

I kept gazing at the bird on the page. His wings, his tufted head, his curled feet around the branch were all silent and still, but the curve of the page looked like a caught breath, and I could feel his silenced heart trapped in his hollow bones beneath his feathers, all captured in a two-dimensional cage.

"Let him go, Papa! Please let him go!" The tears I'd held back earlier spilled over my eyelashes and burned my cheeks. "He's scared! Let him go!"

Papa knelt again and grasped my shoulders. "I don't know how. I never have."

I was eight, and I was confounded by any reality where my father was unable to do something. Anything. I was named for a princess-an imaginary one, an old family story about a royal girl's adventures in a kingdom full of saints and angels. But a princess nonetheless. And to my mind, that made my father a king. He was Papa, and his powers had no limits.

About the Author
Audrey writes novels, humor, short fiction, and essays in Richmond, Virginia. Her presence is tolerated by her two rambunctious children and very patient husband, all of whom have become practiced at making supportive faces when she shouts “listen to this sentence!” She is a frequent contributor to numerous humor outlets, including McSweeney’s, and her stories and essays have appeared in Pithead Chapel, Cease, Cows, and lengthy diatribes in the Notes app on her phone. Audrey was born and raised in Arizona by her linguist parents, which is a lot like being raised by wolves, but with better grammar. She moved to Virginia as an adult but still carries mountains and canyons in her heart, and sometimes, when she closes her eyes, she can still smell ponderosa pines in the sun. You can read more of her writing at and by following her on Twitter at @audrey_burges, on Instagram at @audreyburges, or on Facebook at @aburgeswrites.