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Friday, December 29, 2023

TV Series Review: YuYu Hakusho (Netflix 2023)

YuYu Hakusho (Netflix)
First episode date: December 14, 2023 (Japan)
Based on: YuYu Hakusho by Yoshihiro Togashi
Genre: Action; Adventure; Comedy drama; Fantasy
Network: Netflix
5 episodes
Original language: Japanese
Producer: Akira Morii
Cast: Takumi Kitamura, Jun Shison, Kanata Hongō, Shuhei Uesugi
Yusuke Urameshi, who died saving a little boy, is sent back to Earth and becomes a detective of the spirit world to fight all the demons found on Earth.

I tend to love live-action adaptations of manga/anime. Tokyo Ghoul, Bleach, Full-Metal Alchemist and now YuYu Hakusho! I had never head of this one before. The five episode series (yay for not drawing things out!) is based on the 1990–94 manga... I figured that out when I saw the outfits and hairstyles the characters had, lol, hammer-time pants everywhere!



The first episode was a little cheesy and I had my doubts but once the demons showed up and the fighting started...BOOM, I was hooked. They spared no expense on the choreography and special effects. So much fun! I've always loved the demons from manga/anime. Very creative and creepy.

If you enjoy supernatural Japanese series then check this one out. 

Look at the comparison of the live-action characters to the original... 


This guy bothered me a little. He looked like there was a pacifier in his mouth, lol

4.5 "spirit gun" Sheep!


Got books to re-home? Check out Operation Paperback

 Here is a list of veterans and troops wanting books but haven't gotten any this year. All you have to do is pick a person, email Marisa, she'll send you the address and you mail the book (s). Just one book is more than enough!

Welcome to our End Of The Year PUSH For Shipments!

If you’ve been reading all of our emails lately, THANK YOU! We know there have been an unusual number of requests sent lately!

Remember – and I always say this – one book isn’t “too small a number” to send. If that’s what you have and you are willing to share it with a veteran or soldier, please do so. Your thoughtfulness goes such a long way -- in fact, here’s a snippet from an email received not too long ago:

"Thank you so much! You would be surprised by the number of individuals who look for a book to hold. It warms my heart, and I too am one who enjoys physically holding a book.”
The list below contains folks who are coming off our mailing list early next year, and they either haven’t received a shipment yet or have not received one in some time. It would be great if we could get a shipment out to everyone on this list.

The process – review the list below to see if you have any books that match the genres of the individual requests. These requests do NOT need large quantities – 1 book, 5 books, is perfectly fine to send. Email me with the number and name of the person you want to help support, along with the genres you are going to send.

I will respond to your email with the address information. You ship the books and then email me with the quantity sent. I will record the shipment in our system. And that’s it – all done!
FYI – the “non-standard” genre requests are always the hardest to fulfill – fantasy, any of the non-fiction genres, finance, true crime, etc. If you have these to send, it would be amazing!


Here's the list.
Marisa Falbo
Operation Paperback

For the Veterans – Hardcover or Paperbacks

 1 - Allen, N. - Action/Adventure, Classic Literary Fiction, Fantasy, History, Women's Fiction, Biographies, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, Finance/Investing, Self-help, Leadership/Management, Military History, Poetry, Military Fiction, Philosophy, Crafts and Hobbies, Home and Gardening, Personal Growth, Business and Economics, Cookbooks
2 - Johnson, R. - Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Audio Books (CD only), Finance/Investing, Travel, Movies (DVD only), Magazines (Current Year Only), Graphic Novels/Comics, Self-help, Poetry, Sports, Philosophy, Crafts and Hobbies, Home and Gardening, Personal Growth, Large Print Books, Mythology
3 - McLean, T. - Fantasy, History, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, True Crime, Biographies, Historical Fiction, Puzzle Books, Graphic Novels/Comics, Self-help, Cozy Mysteries, Poetry, Philosophy, Mythology *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
4 - Evelyn, T. - Classic Literary Fiction, Fantasy, History, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, Women's Fiction, True Crime, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, Travel, Self-help, Military History, Cozy Mysteries, Poetry, Military Fiction, Philosophy, Personal Growth, Mythology
5 - Francois, A. - Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
6 - Glasstetter, G. - History, Finance/Investing, Leadership/Management, Military History, Personal Growth, Business and Economics, Cookbooks
7 - Miller, R. - Action/Adventure, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, Movies (DVD only), Magazines (Current Year Only), Cozy Mysteries, Military Fiction, Crafts and Hobbies, Home and Gardening *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
8 – Goldberg, S. - History, Mystery, Suspense/Thrillers, Westerns, Historical Fiction, Movies (DVD only), Sports, Large Print Books, Mythology
9 - Berrios, M. - Horror, Graphic Novels/Comics
10 - Evans, V. - Action/Adventure, Classic Literary Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Cozy Mysteries, Sports *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
11 - Gil Vargas, J. - Action/Adventure, Current Events/Political Affairs, Fantasy, History, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, True Crime, Puzzle Books, Audio Books (CD only), Finance/Investing, Travel, Movies (DVD only), Magazines (Current Year Only), Graphic Novels/Comics, Self-help, Leadership/Management, Military History, Poetry, Military Fiction, Sports, Philosophy, Crafts and Hobbies, Personal Growth, Business and Economics, Mythology
12 - Lindsey, J. - Action/Adventure, Classic Literary Fiction, Fantasy, History, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, Biographies, Historical Fiction, Cozy Mysteries, Military Fiction, Philosophy, Mythology
13 - Melendez Family - Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Puzzle Books, Travel, Movies (DVD only), Graphic Novels/Comics, Self-help, Poetry, Crafts and Hobbies
14 - Miller, E. - Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, True Crime, Graphic Novels/Comics, Cozy Mysteries *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS

For the Troops – Paperbacks only, please

15 - Handy, C. - Classic Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Finance/Investing, Self-help, Leadership/Management, Crafts and Hobbies *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
16 - Hearron, C. - Action/Adventure, Classic Literary Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, Graphic Novels/Comics, Leadership/Management, Military History, Military Fiction
17 - La Pierre, J. - Fantasy, Science Fiction, Graphic Novels/Comics
18 - McKinney, S. - True Crime, Biographies, Finance/Investing, Magazines (Current Year Only), Self-help, Leadership/Management *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
19 - Sung, K - Leadership/Management, Military History *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
20 - Bernardi, A. - Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Finance/Investing, Graphic Novels/Comics, Leadership/Management, Personal Growth, Mythology
21 - Calderon, M. - Action/Adventure, Current Events/Political Affairs, Fantasy, History, Mystery, Science Fiction, True Crime, Biographies, Puzzle Books, Finance/Investing, Travel, Magazines (Current Year Only), Graphic Novels/Comics, Leadership/Management, Military History, Poetry, Sports, Crafts and Hobbies, Home and Gardening, Personal Growth, Business and Economics, Large Print Books
22 - Zeck, C. - Action/Adventure, History, True Crime, Puzzle Books, Finance/Investing, Self-help, Military History, Personal Growth
23 - Blasio, Z. - Action/Adventure, Classic Literary Fiction, History, Horror, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, True Crime, Biographies, Contemporary Literary Fiction, Military History *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
24 - Cobb, Q. - Mystery, Suspense/Thrillers, True Crime *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
26 - Harter, T. - Fantasy, History, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Puzzle Books, Graphic Novels/Comics
27 - Jiles, O. - Mystery, True Crime, Contemporary Literary Fiction, Travel, Leadership/Management, Personal Growth
28 - Melendez, A. - Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Puzzle Books, Travel, Movies (DVD only), Graphic Novels/Comics *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
29 - Patriquin, N. - Action/Adventure, History, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, Westerns, True Crime, Historical Fiction, Finance/Investing, Self-help, Leadership/Management, Military History, Military Fiction, Philosophy, Personal Growth, Business and Economics, Mythology *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
30 - Zielinski, J. - Action/Adventure, Biographies, Finance/Investing, Travel, Leadership/Management, Military History, Personal Growth, Business and Economics
31 - Buchinski, T. - Mystery, Suspense/Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Cozy Mysteries
32 - Fletcher, J. - Current Events/Political Affairs, Sports, Home and Gardening, Cookbooks
33 - Hendricks, G. - Action/Adventure, Classic Literary Fiction, History, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, Westerns, Biographies, Historical Fiction, Puzzle Books, Finance/Investing, Self-help, Leadership/Management, Military History, Military Fiction, Sports, Philosophy, Business and Economics
35 - Meaney, D. - Action/Adventure, Classic Literary Fiction, Current Events/Political Affairs, Fantasy, History, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, Westerns, True Crime, Biographies, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, Puzzle Books, Travel, Magazines (Current Year Only), Graphic Novels/Comics, Self-help, Military History, Cozy Mysteries, Military Fiction, Sports, Crafts and Hobbies, Home and Gardening, Personal Growth, Business and Economics, Cookbooks
36 - Mott, A. - Action/Adventure, Mystery, Suspense/Thrillers, True Crime, Movies (DVD only), Graphic Novels/Comics, Cozy Mysteries
37 - Saulmon, D. - Current Events/Political Affairs, True Crime, Biographies, Finance/Investing, Travel, Sports, Personal Growth
38 - Smith, W. - Science Fiction, Self-help *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS
39 - Davenport, I. - Current Events/Political Affairs, History, Graphic Novels/Comics, Military History, Sports *** THIS ADDRESS PREFERS SMALL PACKAGES OF 5 BOOKS OR LESS

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Book Review: Dust Born: A Small Town Shifter Romance (Cambio Springs Book 4) by Elizabeth Hunter

Dust Born: (Cambio Springs Book 4)
By: Elizabeth Hunter
Pages: 296
Genre: paranormal romance, shifter, werewolf, small town
Sean Quinn returned to Cambio Springs to help his family find their way out of trouble—not uncommon in this desert town of shapeshifters—but before he can hit the road again, a new threat emerges on the border of his family home, a threat that could leave Sean stuck in the Springs just when he’s most desperate to leave.

And one unsuspecting human might be stuck right there with him.

Ever since Juniper Hawkins came to Cambio Springs to visit her big brother, strange things keep happening, not the least was running into the man who’d almost made her change her wandering ways. Juni wasn’t the kind of woman who settled down, even when the object of her affection was a tall, dark, and handsome photographer who kissed her senseless then abandoned her in Southeast Asia.

Not that she was still irritated about that.

DUST BORN is a brand new novel in the Cambio Springs Mysteries, a paranormal romance series by ten time USA Today Bestselling author, Elizabeth Hunter.


Dust Born is book 4 in the Cambio Springs series by Elizabeth Hunter. The series hadn’t seen a new book in quite some time & it was refreshing to read this new one. I’ve been a long-time fan of her books and true to her nature, this book was interesting, fun, and a great read.

Sean Quinn is a snake shifter and a travel photographer. Normally, he’s on the road working but when a threat comes to Cambio Springs, he must hang up his camera to protect his family and get to the bottom of the threat. Juniper Hawkins works with Sean but also has family in Cambio Springs and has been in love with Sean for a long time, not that he can commit to anything. With this mysterious threat on the horizon, each of the shifter clans are patrolling and protecting the occupants of Cambio Springs, even the humans. Many secrets plague this town but some will finally come to light at last.

Getting 5 sheep 

Denise B

About the Author:
Elizabeth Hunter is a contemporary fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance writer. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College and a former English teacher. She once substitute taught a kindergarten class, but decided that middle school was far less frightening. Thankfully, people now pay her to write books and eighth-graders everywhere rejoice.

She currently lives in Central California with her son, two dogs, many plants, and a sadly dwindling fish tank. She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries and Elemental World series, the Cambio Springs series, the Irin Chronicles, and other works of fiction.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Story Behind the Story with fantasy author Selah Janel

The holidays are one of those times that put the good and not-so-great points of one’s life in high contrast. There’s (somewhat enforced) joy all around. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, yet life goes on. Illness, breakups, accidents, death, memories of hard times—they all still happen. So how do you carry on, especially when everything seems to sparkling all around you, without you? Wouldn’t it be nice to have things just magically fall into place?

I will admit this time of year isn’t the easiest for me. I have very good memories of holidays past, and very difficult memories. If something weird or awful is going to happen, it feels like December is the month that’s the biggest target. Through it all, though, the possibility and hope of the season keeps me coming back. I want to believe that things work out, that people are decent, and we can all work to be better. I also tend to be a realist. When it came time to try my own spin on a seasonal tale, I wanted both sides of the coin to be shown. Life can be good, but it also isn’t easy—even when it’s good.

Holly and Ivy starts directly after a Christmas where Holly’s life falls apart. It’s a pretty standard chick lit opening, yet I still feel for her. We all have those moments where life is upended and are forced into situations to make things work. We don’t all have an imaginary friend who turns out to be real with a magic gift up their sleeve.

Faerie lore has always fascinated me, and the mental image of a dryad in a Christmas tree is the seed that grew into Holly and Ivy. What started as typical holiday romance tropes turned into an unexpected look at personal growth and the consequences of magic. In some ways, big-city gal forced back into small town life has become a clichΓ©, but it was also the chance to dig into Holly’s emotions as she tried to claw back from heartbreak and probably a healthy dose of imposter syndrome.

Then there’s Ivy. While the temptation to make a magic character an all-wise ‘fix-it’ being was there, it was way more fun to let the chaotic, somewhat naΓ―ve, somewhat impertinent faerie be who she was. She’s fickle, she likes to gossip with the birds and animals about the elitist faeries across the veil, and she doesn’t get humanity. She’s flippant, carefree, emotional, supportive, and cranky, depending on the moment. Her moods change often. Her whole world is the Christmas tree farm owned by Holly’s parents. Despite her bias against humans and Holly’s time away, she supports her friend, though the extent of it isn’t truly known until the finale.

Holly takes time to find her footing, even with a little magical help. She’s wary coming off of major disappointment and heartache. She’s extremely hard on herself. She also alternates between wanting to be a good friend and getting caught up in her own life—then juggling the guilt that brings when things improve for her. It takes her a while to come to terms with everything, but deep within her is a strength that is finally brought out by the end of the story.

I loved writing these two and all their emotional extremes, both in the original short story version of this title, and now expanding it to a full novella. It was nice to be able to put messy emotions into a genre that traditionally is usually tied up with a nice tidy bow. I suppose making them confront the realities of their situations stems from many of my own complicated Christmases. And while there is a happy ending, magic still comes with a price. As Holly attempts to reassure herself toward the end of the story—things work out a Christmas, though I would add that we don’t always get to choose how they work out. And that’s okay. Magic and loss, love and heartache, light and dark coexist, after all. Part of the magic of the holiday season is feeling a sense of love in the darkest and coldest part of the year. Sometimes those shining stars and candle sparks that help you find your way are the best part of the season.

by Selah Janel
December 1, 2023
Genre: Magical, folklore, fairy tales
Holly is forced to return to her parents’ farm after she loses her job and goes through the worst breakup of her life. Incapacitated by hopelessness and embarrassment, she doesn’t expect to bump into a forgotten childhood friend who isn’t supposed to exist.

Ivy is a dryad who lives in the pine trees Holly’s family grows as part of their livelihood. As the friends reconnect, Ivy not only shares her views on life, nature, and the modern world, but also gives Holly a magic charm that will change both their lives.

As the year progresses, things magically fall into place and a new figure is introduced into Holly’s life. Still, guilt lingers that maybe all the good developments aren’t deserved and aren’t even her own doing. Christmas not only brings surprises, but a choice.

Free on Kindle Unlimited

The high chirp was perky sunlight through my window at six in the morning. I whirled and backpedaled, yelping when my foot collided with the blasted pinecone a second time. “Who’s there? Sammy?” I called, though why the neighbor’s kid would have hiked a quarter of a mile to see what I was up to on a school day didn’t make sense. My head moved sharply at the sound of a giggle that I couldn’t dismiss as the breeze.

I swallowed and tried again. “Rexy, is that you?” Sure it is, because he has motivation and dogs can talk now, my ever-helpful mind pointed out. In the seclusion, my thoughts were foggy with the scent of natural pine and distracted by the sticky residue that coated my feet the longer I walked.

“Nay, silly! ’Tis me!” Shuddering branches reached out and upward. In a scene from my fervid childhood dreams, the needles abruptly flattened and the branches extended like long, lithe arms.

I screamed, dropped my sneakers, and stumbled back into a tree, wincing at the sharp branch that jabbed me in the small of the back. I’ve lost it. I’ve well and truly lost it. They’ll find me out here foaming at the mouth and screaming that the trees are talking. My hands clamped over my mouth to spare myself a little dignity before I was committed.

“You don’t remember?” The voice quivered as the branch-arms drooped, their needles rustling in displeasure, or maybe disappointment. An eerily thin girl stepped out of the center of the pine. If Clara was a stylish waif, then this creature was a glass figurine. Her tunic was the color of deep, brown bark that bore the textured, grooved pattern of a tree trunk. It was even sticky with the needles’ gum. Her shoulder-length hair was bristle thin and pale yellow, though in certain angles they looked various shades of light green. She was impossibly slender and tall in a way that made her proportions look overextended, yet not grotesque. Her fingers and arms were longer than what they should have been, yet there was an elegance about them. The creature’s delicate, pale-green face screwed up in dismay and her large emerald green eyes stared down at me in disappointment. “Have you forgotten me that easily? Has it truly been so long?”

The city smog, the years spent trying to cram myself into one jean size smaller than what I could comfortably wear, the pep talks to always “work hard to get ahead,” the years of late nights spent studying and partying at college, and the painful awkwardness of my high school and junior high years dissipated in the heady, tantalizing scent of Christmas in the in-between of spring and summer.

“Ivy?” I whispered her name, because surely, surely, I had to be dreaming. My hoarse voice was no lie, though, and neither was the pain in my back, the on my skin, nor the fatigue in the rest of me.

It’s frightening how easy it is to discount some experiences as childish imaginings. It’s even more frightening when they reappear in front of your logical, grounded adult eyes as reality. Past and present me fused in a sharp, evergreen-scented bolt of recognition.

I’d been four or five when I’d stumbled upon the dryad during one of my all-day marathon adventures, back in the days when kids were allowed to play outside by themselves as long as they were home by supper. I was doomed to the fate of an only child living outside of town who liked stories featuring fantastic lands and thousands of characters. It was impossible on any given day to entertain myself when the only friends left to play an arch nemesis and a prince were the family dog and a cow we eventually sold.

I’d been playing at being lost in the woods while stalked by a troll when Ivy stepped out of her tree just as she did now, skipping elegantly and looking for a playmate. It took a few moments to understand that I wasn’t locked in my imagination, that the impossible creature in front of me was real. After that moment of surprise, I accepted her as fact and invited her to play. We defeated the evil troll king together and ruled our own country all in the span of an afternoon.

Her faerie name was something long and musical when she said it, but wasn’t a name a regular human could hope to pronounce. Maybe that had been purposeful and she’d been putting me on to avoid me ever having that kind of power over her. I’d always called her Ivy after the vines that climbed the trees and buildings in the fairy tale books I loved. Since her very existence was tied to the trees, it was fitting. Since it technically wasn’t her real name and allowed her to retain her autonomy while pursuing a friendship with a mortal, she was especially pleased.

She wasn’t supposed to exist, but it was easier to accept what was in front of me than accept that I’d had a nervous breakdown on top of everything else. Belief is surprisingly easy when you’re not given a choice.

About the Author:


Threads: @selahjanel99

Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little when she  wondered if fairies lived in the nearby state park and worried that vampires hid in the old barns outside of town.

She has multiple e-books with Mocha Memoirs Press, including Holly and Mooner, and co-wrote the short story collection, Lost in the Shadows, with S.H. Roddey. Her work has been included in various magazines and anthologies, including The Realm Beyond, The MacGuffin, Curious Incidents, The Grotesquerie, and The Big Bad, vol 1&2.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Westwood Pack Series by F.D. Fair + giveaway

Welcome to the π–‚π–Šπ–˜π–™π–œπ–”π–”π–‰ π•»π–†π–ˆπ–… Where the fire burns h҉o҉t҉ … The water is as c҉o҉l҉d҉❄️ as Canadian winters… And a day of [̲̅p][̲̅e][̲̅a][̲̅c][̲̅e] just never seems to come.

If you love Alpha males who are both s♥w♥e♥e♥t and π•˜π•£π• π•¨π•π•ͺ and watching women discover the power lurking just beneath the surface, then you’ve come to the right place.

The Westwood Pack Series follows the members of the Westwood Pack on their journey to find their mates. We have shifters 🐺, witches πŸͺ„, fae🧝‍♂️, vampires πŸ§›and even a dragon πŸ‰or two..

Rise of the Phoenix (The Westwood Pack Book 1)

by F.D. Fair
May 24, 2023
Genre: Paranormal Romance
On “The Best Wolf Shifters of Romance” list on Goodreads!

He promised me forever. But when he shows his true colors, I have no choice but to run…

I found my mate. It should be the happiest day of my life, right?


The problem?

She’s human and already has a family.

When her husband turns out to be a dangerous race once thought extinct, it becomes even more complicated…

I’m living the dream: A big house, a good job, a good-looking husband, and two beautiful kids.

I start to question everything when my husband shows his true colors.

Who is this man I’m married to?

As if it’s fate, I meet a stranger who sets my body ablaze and offers me protection.

But my husband won’t let me go that easily…

And now Alaric is risking everything to get me free.

Rise of the Phoenix is Book One of the hot and steamy werewolf shifter series, The Westwood Pack, and is a fated mate, rescued by the alpha romance.

Second Moon (The Westwood Pack Book 2)

Twin Flames(The Westwood Pack Book 3)

Magical Mate(The Westwood Pack Book 4)

Hunter’s Heart(The Westwood Pack Book 5)

Dragon’s Destiny(The Westwood Pack Book 6)

Bound By Fate (The Westwood Pack Book 7)

Blood Magic (The Westwood Pack Book 8)

About the Author:
Instagram- Bookbub
FB Group
Embrace your weirdness. It makes you unique, it sets you apart, and makes life more interesting.

F.D. Fair is married to the love of her life and a mother to three amazing boys. In their house, being weird is an accomplishment. They love everything strange and unnatural.

It was this love that prompted her to start writing...

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$10 Amazon
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 17, 2023

10 Tricks for Writing During the Holidays by Loren Rhoads + giveaway

10 Tricks for Writing During the Holidays
by Loren Rhoads

Sometimes, especially around the holidays, it’s hard to find time to do the creative work you want to do. I’ve used a bunch of tricks to carve out time to write. I hope these will inspire you.

1. Make a list. Whether it’s topics you want to explore or scenes that need to be written, it’s easier to begin writing when you have a prompt.

2. Set an alarm. Promise yourself that you will settle down to write as soon as the alarm goes off. Giving yourself the anticipation of writing time can be inspirational.

3. Set a timer. Anyone can write for 15 minutes. There’s something about the tiniest amount of time pressure that tricks your brain into thinking it’s on a deadline. Start a timer on your computer, phone, or in the kitchen. You might find yourself pounding out the words to beat the bell. If the words are really flowing, you can always add a second 15-minute sprint.

4. Make a date with a friend. Whether you sit down together in a cafe or meet online for a video chat, it really helps to know that someone else is working alongside you. The key is to find someone who will write, rather than chat.

5. Put your headphones on. Many writers make a playlist that they listen to only when they work on a particular project. Listening to the same music every time you write can train your brain to provide inspiration on command.

6. Write somewhere else. If you normally write at a desk, try moving to the sofa or the kitchen table or sitting in bed. The simple act of shifting to new surroundings can shake loose the words.

7. Try a different writing tool. Do you usually write on a laptop? Try writing by hand in a notebook or attach a keyboard to your phone. Some writers swear by word processing keyboards like AlphaSmart or FreeWrite, which only allow you to see a small amount of the text you’re working on. That way you're forced to move forward, rather than editing what you've already done.

8. Write first thing in the morning. It’s tempting to start the day by checking email or scrolling social media, but what might you come up with if you listened to your own thoughts first thing in the morning?

9. Write last thing at night. Take a notebook to bed and draft one more scene before you turn out the light. Do the words feel different as you’re settling in for the night? Maybe your subconscious can solve a writing problem for you in your dreams.

10. Chart your progress. Whether you put a check on the calendar, color in a box on a habit-tracking chart, or note your word count in your planner, record the days you write. It’s addictive to see your progress.

What other tricks have you found for getting the work done? Make your own list, so you'll have some tools to use next time you feel at a loss for words.

Spooky Writer’s Planner
by Loren Rhoads and Emerian Rich
Genre: nonfiction planner
Date of Publication: November 2020
ISBN: 9798560168698
Number of pages: 361
Cover Artist: Emerian Rich
Get organized this year!

Are you a horror author who wants to take your career to the next level? Do you write dark fantasy, paranormal romance, spooky poetry, or morbid nonfiction?

Would you like to advance farther in the direction of your dreams?

The Spooky Writer's Planner includes:
13 months of monthly and weekly calendars
Monthly goal and recap sheets
Weekly check-ins and note pages
Writing challenges, prompts, and brainstorming pages
Trackers for submissions, pitches, and contacts
Marketing, newsletter, and blog planners
Check-off sheets for website maintenance, social media updates, and expenses

Available in Digital and Print
Book Trailer:
See An Excerpt Here:

The quick-download version gives you a digital copy so you can print the pages you need and print multiples of those you'll use the most. Create your own Frankenstein's Monster of a planner! These black & white pages are designed to be printed on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. Put them in a three-ring binder or bind them with disks or a spiral, your choice. Use it year after year after one purchase!

Available from Etsy

The Spooky Writer's Planner is perfect-bound with a glossy cover, printed on high-quality 8.5 x 11-inch paper. Everything you need is included in one handy book that you can grab and go!

Available from Amazon


About the Author:
Loren Rhoads is the co-author of Lost Angels and Angelus Rose -- the As Above, So Below duology -- with Brian Thomas. Loren's stories about the succubus Lorelei have appeared in the books Sins of the Sirens, Demon Lovers, and Unsafe Words, and most recently online at The Fabulist.

 1 copy of the digital Spooky Writers Planner to anywhere in the world.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Middle Grade Math Fiction: Marco the Great and the History of Numberville by SK Bennett + giveaway

"The way [the story] describes mathematics uses excellent analogies and ways to think about [the concepts] that both give correct answers and make it much more interesting, fun, and memorable."
-Award-winning mathematics professor

How to teach anything to anyone

How do humans learn? In very basic terms, learning is like piecing together a puzzle. Our brains have formed a picture based on our previous experiences and knowledge and when something new joins the party, it must figure out where in this existing jigsaw the new information fits in.

In short, to learn something you really need to already know something else. When my grandmother passed away, I took up crochet in her honor. I pulled out a pattern to begin and it looked something like this:

Hdc in next 3 sts

Huh? Turns out, I needed to learn a lot about crochet before I could even begin to crochet. Once I figured out how to translate the information stored in strange shorthand and characters, I needed to then learn how to execute these codes before I could even start accomplishing my goal of crocheting something.

This barrier of prerequisite knowledge turns teaching complex tasks or ideas into a huge mountain learners must scale. It’s also the reason why so many struggle in math and so many educators are plagued with insurmountable challenges every school year. Luckily, there is a way to make learning much easier. A story.

Have you ever wondered why certain fairy tales stand the test of time? In short, it is because they have found a way to simplify complex ideas into a digestible meal that is not only easily scarfed down by anyone, but also a craveable feast. In other words, a good story makes learning both easy and fun.

As a mother, I understand the importance of teaching my children right from wrong. I also understand this is not an easy task. I have gone down many ‘why’ holes in my life.

“You shouldn’t lie.”


“It’s wrong.”


“You are misleading someone and telling them something that isn’t true.” “Why?”

“What do you mean why? I don’t know why you’d do it, you shouldn’t!” For a child, understanding the intricate nature of lying, consequences, credibility, and mortality seems impossible. There is too much to understand before you can even begin to understand. Enter The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

In this tale, a young boy experiments with the ‘ding-dong-ditching’ of his day: screaming for help and laughing as the villagers come running only to find there is no real emergency. The lesson emerges when the boy encounters an actual threat but has used up all his good-will and trust, causing no one to heed to his calls.

It’s beautiful. Somehow in only a few pages, this story manages to help very young children understand the complicated topics some philosophers spend their entire career on. It unpacks a multifaceted issue into a bite-size takeaway that even a five year-old can grasp. When I lie it causes people to stop believing me, which can be very bad if I ever really need help.

Even better, it’s memorable. That is the power of a story. In Marco the Great and the History of Numberville I present middle school math concepts that are tricky for most students. Through imagery, analogies, and relatable situations, these same challenging ideas now feel obtainable and even intuitive, because a story is a powerful thing.

So next time you are looking to teach someone something new, tell them a story. Not only can it make understanding complex tasks accessible, it is also much more likely to stick in their brain and stay there.

Marco the Great and the History of Numberville - Paperback

by SK Bennett (Author), Carla DuPont (Editor)
April 17, 2023
Today is the day you fall in love with numbers.

Marco the Great and the History of Numberville is the first installment in a fantastical adventure series that will have readers learning math and enjoying every minute of it. In addition, the text includes over 300 practice problems and solutions as well as access to an entire digital world allowing students to dive directly into Marco's world with 40+ games to level-up their learning.

Marco did okay in math. He could follow the complex blueprints provided to him, navigate the steps, and arrive at the answers that earned him a shiny grade near the front of the alphabet. That is, until middle school. As new and confusing letters started creeping into every question, Marco developed a problem. When a new figure 'pops' into his life, he is introduced to a fantastical world where numbers rule, where they live together in villages, engage in duels, build stadiums and cheer for their favorite team as players are flung through the air. Marco's imagination runs wild as he develops new powers and hungers for more.

But everything is not as it seems. Join Marco, his annoying little sister Maggie, and his best friends Oliver and Liam (a math whiz and a conspiracy nut), as they discover this magical world is more real than they ever could have dreamt. And find out... Will Marco master the Numberfolk before the Numberfolk, very literally, master him?

Marco the Great and the History of Numberville is the perfect choice for summer reading. Help your students catch up, get ahead, or just develop a deep understanding and love of numbers all while having a blast. Available for extended distribution for library and school purchases. Please contact to bring Marco's amazing world to your students.
Marco the Great and the History of Numberville is a MathBait publication. The first installment in the series covers standards from 6th & 7th grade Prealgebra. The exact topics can be found at

Marco the Great has a 4th-6th grade reading level and was written for a middle school audience. However, it is a great option for younger students as well, either independently or read aloud. Throughout his journey, Marco encounters bullying which may be uncomfortable for younger readers. Parents may skip the related passages (pages 22, 60, and 112), if desired, for the given audience.
Chapter Five: Letters

Despite the enjoyment his tutoring sessions brought, he had not yet fallen in love with the educational jail known as Mrs. Sanders’ class. The best of the day was word problems. In an unusual change of events, as his classmates struggled to translate sentences to numbers and letters, then to numbers, and finally back to words again – for the first time, Marco found himself at the head of the class.

“A new robot toy was released, and you are excited to buy it.” Mrs. Sanders always tried to make word problems have some interest to her students. While it was a nice thought, they all boiled down to an equation of some sort with all the context removed anyway. “It is listed for $50, but there will be a sale offering 20% off. How much will you save if you buy the game on sale?”

Oliver’s hand shot up. Marco’s best friend, like his sister, possessed a genetic supernatural power that made them number savants. While everyone else struggled to move an inch, they could come in and easily jump a mile. The fact that Oliver was also the class clown and always in trouble helped balance the nugget of jealousy that ached in the pit of Marco’s stomach.

“Yes, Oliver?” Mrs. Sanders pointed to her student. “You will save 20%,” Oliver answered with a smirk. Quiet giggles erupted from all corners of the classroom.

After a sharp look, Mrs. Sanders painted her smile back on and responded, “You are correct. But how much money would that be?” In an instant, the class became the robots from the problem and following their programming, they all put their heads down and began scribbling on the paper in front of them. Unlike his cyborg peers, Marco put his head down, but wrote nothing on his paper. He had a different idea. Remembering what he had talked about with Mr. Pikake – that numbers are ours to control – he let his imagination take over.

Knowing that ‘percent’ meant ‘out of 100’, Marco saw the number 100. A vacuum cleaner was sucking out 20s from the number. SLURP! Now, it was an 80 and a 20. SLURP! Now two 20s and a 60. Marco kept sucking at the number until it lay on the ground as five disoriented 20s. He turned his attention to the $50 from the question. He changed the settings to rip the 50 into five pieces as well in one mouthful. SLURP! Five 10s shot out the back.1

He slowly raised his hand. Oliver shot Marco a look that read, ‘What are you doing?’ “Marco,” Mrs. Sanders called.

“10?” Marco answered reluctantly.

Mrs. Sanders looked at the clock which read 9:58, “No, it’s not quite 10 yet,” she responded. “No. The question. You’d save ten dollars.”

Her face frozen in a state of shock, Mrs. Sanders looked down at her paper and back up at Marco. “Oh, um, yes. That is correct, Marco. Nice job.”

Riding his math high for the rest of the day, Marco was silently thrilled when Oliver took it upon himself to recount the event for Liam at lunch.

“You should have seen it, man!” Oliver exclaimed. “The teacher couldn’t even solve it as fast as Marco.” He turned to add, “Your tutoring must be going well.”

Marco pushed and pushed but couldn’t hide his smile. His green eyes were bright with excitement as he began to tell his friends about Mr. Pikake. “He’s a little crazy, I’m not going to lie. It makes things fun. It’s like a video game, but rather than zombies, we are hunting numbers.” Pretending to be a character in the boy’s favorite game, Marco mimed out a zombie hunt.

“Are they evil numbers trying to eat your brain?” Liam laughed. Although Marco hadn’t thought about it before, the way Mr. Pikake talked about numbers gave him the sense there was something dangerous about them. Realizing how bizarre that was, he shook the thought from his head.

1 What did Marco do here? The question Mrs. Sanders really asked was ‘What is 20% of $50?’ Since five 20’s make 100, he needed to know 5 of what would make 50. He split 50 into five pieces to discover each piece is a ten, meaning 20% of $50 is $10. You can do this with any question where the percentage is a factor of 100. My dog ate 12 pounds of food last month, and he ate 25% more this month, how much did he eat? Since it takes four 25’s to make 100, how many fours make 12? Well, three, of course. So, 25% of 12 is 3. Fido ate his normal 12 pounds plus the 3 more, meaning he ate a total of 15 pounds of food this month – what a pig!
About the Author
SK Bennett is an award-winning educator, instructional designer, mathematician, and home school mom of five. She spent years designing courses for top companies and institutions before deciding it was time to embrace her belief that learning should be fun and math should never be all about memorization and rote procedures. Inspired by her favorite stories, she set out to create Marco's world - where learning is an adventure and math is never ever boring.

Bennett has also been published in a book of poetry as well as her academic research contributions to improving mathematics education through an emphasis on conceptual understanding.
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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

I Smell Sheep bought a sheep (for Non-profit World Vision)

Every year KatieD buys a sheep through I Smell Sheep's long time favorite non-profit

Sheep are popular both to give and to get.

One healthy ewe gives super-nutritious milk for essential protein, vitamins, and minerals, plus plenty of wool to knit warm sweaters and blankets. Sheep often give birth to twins or triplets, which can be sold for income or bred to produce a whole flock of woolly grazers. Plus, sheep’s milk is up to twice as rich as cow’s milk in nutrients like protein, calcium, and B vitamins that growing kids need. Giving a sheep is a wonderful way to share the love of Jesus, the Lamb of God.

You can give a family hope for health, warmth, and a better financial future with your gift of a sheep today!


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Mourned by Men by Katie Frendreis

We’re celebrating the release of Mourned by Men this week, and if you love fantasy mixed with Greek mythology, you are going to want to read it!

Mourned by Men
Katie Frendreis
December 12, 2023
Genre: Historical Fantasy/ Greek Mythology
Her mother told them they were daughters of a god. But can the children of gods hurt? Can they die and fail like any other mortal?

Penthesilea knew her life was different. Growing up on the lush island of the Amazons, she and her sister lived on the cusp of two worlds—the warlike one of men and the soft and mothering one of women. But Amazonian girls learn to fight, to defend their home, to battle their enemies. They are neither soft nor cold, neither fully female nor male in their traditions. However, the outside world breaks their peace, and Pen finds her sister drawn to the men outside in a way she herself cannot understand. When tragedy befalls the sisters, Pen and her warrior women journey to Troy, the site of the legendary war between friend and foe, where the Amazon queen must decide between tradition and a new sort of life that only she can define.

The Trojan War made famous Hector, Achilles, and Aeneas, but there are also Penthesilea and her Amazons and a host of legendary characters, their stories stripped of magic and deus ex machina, bared to the world as simple men and women, struggling against the often-deadly fates foretold in myth.

Amazon-Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Katie Frendreis grew up in Chicago, reading mythology and illustrating her own fantastical adventures. This is her first published novel. She earned her BA in Classical Civilization from Loyola University and has worked in such diverse places as museums, dance studios, and funeral homes. Collecting hobbies like some people collect stamps, she also draws, paints, teaches tap dancing, and trains as an aerialist. She currently lives just outside Chicago with her husband, an adorable fruit bat/dog, a massive collection of books, and a rather large Lego community in her basement. 

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Book Tour Schedule
December 11th Landing Page – Review – Review – Review – Review – Feature

December 12th – Review – Review – Review – Review

December 13th – Review – Review – Review – Review – Review – Feature

December 14th – Review – Review – Review – Review – Review – Feature

December 15th – Review – Review – Review – Review – Review

Tour organized by: @rrbooktours