Happy Swiss National Day!


The Swiss Chocolate Series

Wow wow wow! I’ve never done this before, but to celebrate Swiss National Day today, and through Friday of this week, you can download ALL THREE books in this series for……NOTHING!

That’s right, I decided to do a whopper of a promotion, and you can read this award-winning series for absolutely free. So go ahead and download the books – tell your friends! The bestselling series is set mostly in my beloved Switzerland, and is a family saga that spans decades. It’s classified as women’s fiction (although plenty of men have read the books, too).

Swiss flag
Photo courtesy of ejbartennl

I’ve written 10 books, and I want you to become a new reader. I think that if you enjoy this series, you’ll want to read more of my novels (hint: read Villa del Sol next).

Here’s the link: https://tinyurl.com/2r45mc3v

Happy Swiss National Day, or Schweizer Nationalfeiertag/Bundesfeiertag in German, or Fête nationale Suisse in French, or Festa nazionale della Svizzera in Italian, or Festa naziunala Svizra in Romansch!

Book Review Tuesday – Sing for Me – #BRT


This is the first in a series of four books under the Tactical Solutions International series title. It features main characters Jake Evans, who hits a bar in Boston while in town for a wedding, has a beer (or two), and is struck by the female singer in the bar band, and Fiona Flynn, the singer, who is reluctant to give the guy a chance until her bandmates convince her she should. There is definite chemistry between these two, and it practically jumps off the pages.

Jake is deployed overseas, and while their relationship is still hot at a distance, when Jake is injured, the challenges increase. I won’t give you any spoilers, but this book, classified as romantic suspense, lives up to the genre.

I plowed through this book in two days – it’s especially riveting as you get into it, and I had a hard time setting it aside. The novel is more suspenseful in the second half, and I enjoyed the second half more than the first half, as the first part of the book is dedicated to the buildup of Jake and Fiona’s romance. This is a romance, but note that it’s very much for adults. I’m not adverse to graphic sex scenes (there are plenty), but some of them almost felt unnecessary. I would have understood the steamy attraction between these two characters even without the explicit scenes, but, you know, it’s fine. Still a really good story, and very well written.

Maggie Clare

Author Maggie Clare is the pen name of Rhode Island award-winning author Tabitha Lord. Tab’s bestselling books are in the science fiction category, so she assumed a pen name to write romantic suspense. Good choice! You can find books by both Tabitha Lord and Maggie Clare here https://www.amazon.com/Maggie-Clare/e/B085WC4QLH/ref=aufs_dp_mata_dsk or ask your local book retailer!

Book Review Tuesday – The Family Plot – #BRT


Released in 2015, The Family Plot by author Dusty Pembroke is about a small-town librarian named Inez DeMello who comes into a vast inheritance and must travel to the island of Madeira, Portugal, to claim it. Ah, not so fast, though – there’s deceit and intrigue and family secrets that are to be revealed.

There’s a good interaction between Inez and her friend Cassie, who has traveled with Inez. They’re young women who are curious, adventurous, and who seem to understand each other well. Sweet, innocent young women are perfect for such a story.

Pembroke writes lovingly about Madeira, and it’s obvious she has traveled there. There’s a lot of description in the scenes, although I would have preferred more evocative words than ‘beautiful’ or ‘lovely.’ It left me wanting more exposition.

The tension builds, slowly at first, but the reader knows something is amiss with the residents of the big house. Still, I was halfway through the book and little had happened, other than a pair of Inez’s treasured sapphire earrings had gone missing. That should have been a bigger deal, because it foreshadowed future events. Other circumstances that suggested misdeeds or even death threats were glossed over or resolved too easily, but I knew there was more story to tell. The big twist at the end might surprise the reader, and Pembroke handled it well.

A good copy editor would have caught misspellings and shifting point of view perspectives. But I did stick with this story because overall it was compelling enough to hold my interest. And the author has set up the ending so that if she writes a sequel, it will fit nicely.

Dusty Pembroke

You can purchase a copy of The Family Plot online at Amazon in digital or paperback format.

Book Review Tuesday – City on Fire – #BRT


You know I’ve been showcasing local authors here Tuesdays. Not every Tuesday, but when I can I do like to give a shout-out to my fellow RI authors. So today I’m bringing you the newest book from a Rhode Island native. Yes, Don Winslow, the New York Times bestselling author of over 20 novels, grew up in Perryville, a village within the town of South Kingstown, Rhode Island. When I learned that, I smiled. My grandparents had a house in Perryville when I was a little girl, and it was magical – a converted log cabin within the woods, with trails marked by my outdoors-loving Pop-Pop. Anyway, I felt a kindred warmth toward Mr. Winslow.

City on Fire, the first book in what will be Winslow’s final trilogy, is set in Rhode Island, so locals, listen up! According to the author, it’s his first time setting one of his books in Rhode Island. This book brings together Italian and Irish crime syndicates (what we here might refer to as the Mafia and the “Murphya”). It’s set in the 80s and 90s, with all the trappings of that era. Providence has its Dogtown, and Galilee is Gilead in the book, but Rhode Islanders will recognize enough of the area.

What I found intriguing about this novel is that during the early days of the pandemic, Winslow re-read a lot of the classics of literature, and his efforts at modernizing “The Iliad” with a Helen of Troy character were spot-on successful. (In an interview, Winslow noted that there was an incident in real crime history where a war was touched off between two syndicates and it was an argument over a woman at a beach party.)

City on Fire is a fast-paced page-turner. The sequel to this book will be out next year, and the final book – the last Don Winslow book ever! – will be published in spring of 2024.

Stephen King called it “superb.” I’d say that’s a pretty good endorsement.

Shop local! If you’re looking for a print copy, check out Stillwater Books in Pawtucket, Ink Fish Books in Warren, or Books on the Square in Providence. It should be available everywhere.

Don Winslow

Book Review Tuesday – Just Like a Pill – #BRT


Am I too old to read a Young Adult novel? Nah, not when it means I support a fellow Rhode Island author. Look, if you’ve been following these Tuesday book reviews, you’ll know that I’ve been reading way out of my comfort zone (horror, paranormal, children’s…!), so what the heck.

In this debut novel (2016) from Angelina Singer, the protagonist is Scarlett, a young woman in high school with all the teenage angst that goes with it. Remember? Of course you do. Scarlett, with dyed red hair to match her name, pines for hunky rocker Maxx, who is in a relationship with mean girl Ashley. Her best friend is health nut Izzy and there is nerdy Greg to round out the group.

As Homecoming approaches, Scarlett dreads the thought of attending the dance without a partner, but a sinus infection and the resulting ‘prescription’ she’s given by a questionable ‘pharmacist’ result in a mixed-up set of circumstances that will shake up everything in Scarlett’s world.

Unrequited love and yearning is a tried and true theme, especially for YA books, but Singer brings Scarlett to life with her spot-on characterization and inner turmoil. Add in some funky ‘antibiotics’ that are anything but and you’ve got a fun, easy read.

I would recommend this author rework the manuscript to clean up errors, which abound but don’t take away from the story. (As an editor, I can’t not see typos and grammatical slip-ups, but many readers can glide by them – so it’s just my opinion).

You can pick up a copy of Just Like a Pill (Who Knew the Boy of her Dreams Would Fall Under Her Spell?) (yeah, it’s a long title) online at Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/4rdejk88) or locally from Stillwater Books in Pawtucket (https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/just-pill). Please patronize your local bookstore! If they don’t carry a title you want, ask them to order it for you.

Book Review Tuesday – Summoned – #BRT


This is the first book in the From Smokeless Fire series by author M.A. Guglielmo (and her debut novel). Beautiful cover. Wow. I was wayyyyy out of my comfort zone with this one, but stay with me, because I stayed with the story.

I found Summoned a unique paranormal story, and though I don’t usually (ever) read paranormal, I really enjoyed the fact that this book seemed different – jinns!

Zahara is a jinn who loves sex, shoes, and lots of sugary sweets. She is an absolutely mesmerizing character, and kudos to the author for her creativity in drawing out Zahara. Zahara is summoned by an ordinary guy named Daniel Goldstein, and their mission is to stop a fallen angel who’s bent on destroying the world.

Daniel’s deceased Jewish grandmother plays a significant role as well, and Guglielmo takes the reader on a whirlwind journey to mysterious Morocco.

I enjoyed the fact that the author showed a lot of originality with this tale. It’s exceptionally well written, too. Banking on the timeless theme of good vs. evil, Summoned will captivate the reader with its unique spin. I did struggle a bit to stay with the story around two-thirds in – maybe that was just me, but it seemed a little slow. But I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. So, even if you’re not a reader of paranormal, I can recommend this book as a good escape novel.

You can grab a copy of this first-in-a-series book at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Summoned-M-Guglielmo/dp/1950510387/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1653219488&sr=8-1

Next book review is Tuesday, June 7. I have some catching up to do!

Book Review Tuesday – The Treasure #BRT


In author Julien Ayotte’s latest novel, The Treasure, newspaper columnist Sebastian Reynolds finds himself at the center of a real-life treasure hunt after he’s contacted by a retired Army officer, Jerry Woodrow, who unexpectedly received two boxes of items from an old friend. The boxes contain papers, maps, and very old coins, leading Woodrow and Reynolds on an exciting quest to find what could be a centuries-old treasure.

Ayotte is very adept at writing thrillers, and he has done what is surely a tremendous amount of research into settings (Turks and Caicos, the Pitcairn islands, Florida, Virginia, Nova Scotia) and history of pirated ships. He develops realistic characters and the plotline is believable, which brings the reader along on the journey to avenge a murder and (hopefully) find the treasure.

Along the way, our intrepid hero Reynolds falls in love, but this is not a romance – the romantic element is a nice subplot to round out the characters. There are a few moments when the pacing is slow – perhaps it was done on purpose by the author to give the reader time to catch up, but the story never fails to engage. And there is an almost-not-realistic age difference between two of the characters that needs to be there to fit the narrative – don’t dwell on it and keep reading, it’s worth it.

I do believe this novel would have benefited from a professional edit. Not a copyedit – the spelling is perfect throughout. The use of dialogue tags is a tricky issue for writers. For the most part, “said” and “asked” are sufficient. And there are a few instances where the dialogue is stilted. But these are very minor issues when the entirety of the book is considered. It’s a read that is well worth your time.

You can pick up a copy of The Treasure in print or digital form from Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/2p9yxauk).

Note: I’ve got a couple of projects coming up in March and April, so book reviews will be more sporadic (meaning when I get the time to read!).

Book Review Tuesday – Murder in the Limelight – #BRT


This novella, the first in author T.R. Rankin’s series (Matthew and Martha Mysteries), was a very enjoyable read. I felt absolutely transported back to the year 1898. Set on Martha’s Vineyard, this book features Capt. Matthew Reynolds, widower, and Mrs. Martha Dickinson, widow. [The fact that the characters have both my first and last names did not influence this reviewer’s opinion of the story!]

Early on, there is a tremendously destructive storm on the island, and while this story is fiction, the author cleverly draws from real-life events, in particular, the Great Portland Gale of 1898 in this case. The storm wreaks havoc on the vessels in harbor, and the description of the catastrophe is chilling. In the midst of all this mayhem, a body is discovered on one of the lime schooners, and Matthew and Martha become amateur detectives, assisting the police in tracing the events leading up to the man’s demise. It’s a fast-moving and exciting tale, and if you weren’t familiar with nautical terms and technology before, you likely will be very well versed in these subjects after you’ve finished the book! There is subtle yet undeniable chemistry between our main characters, and the author either did a great amount of research or is an expert in the workings of late 19th-century ships and schooners – the storytelling is very authentic.

There are some errors throughout that a good proofreader would have spotted, but they don’t detract from the story itself. And once in a while, a shift in scenes might be clearer with more of a break in the paragraphs, but overall it’s a well written tale of murder without gore.

As a bonus, Rankin gives the reader a ‘sneak peek’ at The Gilded Murder, the next installment in the Matthew and Martha mystery series. I can’t wait to start reading!

You can download a Kindle copy of Murder in the Limelight at Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/yc74unex).

Book Review Tuesday – Bonebelly #BRT


Bonebelly

The theme of good vs. evil is a tried-and-true theme for novels of virtually any genre. With an opening line of “Here follows a true account of my first thirty days in hell,” the reader has an idea that this book will not be a light and airy read.

In the tradition of authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, author Christine Lajewski (pronounce it “Lah-JESS-ski,” please) takes the reader on an unusual ride (a hayride, even) through the dark world of the damned.

Bonebelly is the name given to the creature who pens that ominous opening line, and the name is bestowed on him by a young couple who discover him at a farm turned haunted playground for paying visitors somewhere in South County, Rhode Island.

“I know what mercy is, but I am certain I have no right to any,” Bonebelly asserts. We know he has been condemned to hell, but we don’t know why (until much later in the book). What we do know is that he is a gruesome, ghastly, gross being with a ravenous appetite that cannot be satiated. But he has human emotions, and understands that “it is left to [him] to chart [his] path, if there is one, toward redemption.”

Other characters appear, some on the side of good, like Sean and Amy, the young couple who are aspiring graphic novelists and take a keen and compassionate interest in Bonebelly. “Exploring the great darkness of the world of horror allowed them to set aside the lesser shadows in their lives.”

There is Demon, kind of a caseworker who oversees Bonebelly’s journey. And there is evil in the form of a shapeless mass that preys on innocent victims, eventually transforming himself into a handsome and charming human being. These main characters, along with a host of others at the farm, play parts as the battle between good and evil escalates, culminating in a faceoff between Bonebelly and his nemesis, Martin.

As a rule, I don’t read horror. But I must say that Lajewski writes beautifully and nails the language of someone who lived three hundred-plus years ago. While the pacing is at times slower than I would like, the story does progress and builds as it should. She includes dates ahead of most chapters so the reader will have a sense of date and place. At times it seems as though a chapter is being repeated, when Lajewski tells the same tale but from a different point of view.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, or thinking of trying it out, Bonebelly is a good place to start. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You can purchase a copy of Bonebelly from Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/ycxk9dc8) or through her publisher, Divertir Publishing (https://www.divertirpublishing.com/books/bb.html), where you can read the first 60 pages for free.

Next book review coming Tuesday, January 25!

RI Authors Showcase – Meet Debra Westgate-Silva


Welcome to the Rhode Island Authors Showcase! Each day in November, this blog will feature a different Rhode Island author. Read the post and leave a comment and you are eligible to win this day’s giveaway!

Leave a comment every day this month for over 30 chances to win either our Grand Prize (a $250 Amazon gift card), our Bonus Prize (a $100 Amazon gift card), or a Cheer-Up Prize (amount to be determined), just in time for holiday shopping!

A winner will be randomly selected one week after the publication of the blog post, and the Grand Prize and Bonus Prize winners will be randomly selected on December 7, 2021. For the daily giveaways, the author will contact you directly to coordinate delivery. Print books for delivery within the US only, please.

Debra Westgate-Silva

Debra Westgate-Silva has worked in public education for many years and in child advocacy and welfare.  Her work has been published in Highlights children’s magazine and Teaching Tolerance.  Bethlehem Barn is her first children’s picture book.  Deb lives in Bristol, Rhode Island, with her husband and two sons and loves reading, writing, cooking (and eating!), traveling and, above all else, spending time with her family. 

Learn more about Deb at her website: http://www.debrawestgatesilva.com

Follow Deb on her Facebook page: https://tinyurl.com/45c38d5f

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deb_westgate_silva/

And you can follow her on Amazon (and find her book there, too!) https://www.amazon.com/Bethlehem-Barn-Debra-Westgate-Silva/dp/195512356X

Ancient legends tell us that for one hour on Christmas Eve, animals are given the gift of speech. If we could have heard the animals on that very first Christmas Eve, what do you think they would have said?

From the discovery of something in Cow’s hay, to the realization of what–or who– it is, Bethlehem Barn is a light-hearted, fun retelling of that very first Christmas from the animals’ point of view.  

Deb is giving away a copy of Bethlehem Barn to one lucky winner. Just comment on this blog post and you’re entered!

Join us on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11, from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the CROWNE PLAZA in Warwick for the 9th Annual Rhode Island Authors Expo!