Geo-Drifting in the Arkane World

One of the ways that the Arkane world differs from our world, is the main method of travel. Everyone in the Arkane world, Elentori and Arkane alike, are able to Geo-Drift. Geo-drifting isn’t a new concept, it’s just a new name for teleportation. Using a system of naturally occurring portals, the members of the Arkane world can seamlessly and quickly travel from any place on the planet and appear seconds later in another part of the world.

It takes a lot of training to learn how to properly use the portals, you cannot go somewhere that you cannot picture clearly, and doing so usually ends badly. Though not difficult to master once you’re taught, it usually takes a few tries with a guide before you’re able to get it right. They can take the form of naturally occurring circles in the woods, tunnels, some doorways, pools of water, alley’s are popular spots in larger cities. Any sort of liminal space can house a portal. Learning how to identify one is sometimes the hardest part. A Karhu can walk right through and never know, but a member of the Arkane world will always know.

It isn’t uncommon for Elentori (human passing mythological races; example: vampires, shifters, selfies, sirens, etc.) or Arkane (humans born with the ability to manipulate one of the six naturally occurring elements) to end up married to a Karhu (regular person), so there are ways to drift without being born into one of these two circles. There are several characters that I have written who Drift by means of a “Drift Ring”. These rings are specially designed by the Arkane peoples and contain at least one representative of each element. Common substances include, a gemstone of some kind, meteorite, opal, metal, and antler or bone. Abalone shells are also common.

Each element must be involved in some way in the construction of the ring, and then the finished product is spelled to ensure its usefulness. These Drift Rings can only be given out by the crone of whatever territory you happen to live in. The entire application process isn’t difficult, though it does take a lot of time, except in a few rare cases. Usually a couple will apply for their rings before departing for their honeymoon and often they are ready when they get back.

No one is quite certain when the portals started appearing, but the best information says somewhere around the sixth century. According to legend, until the seventeenth century, some portals led to other dimensions, though that is no longer possible, and there are not many left who know why. If there are, they usually refuse to speak on it, as it has been so long ago that their memories cannot be trusted.

I sort of wish that I could Drift, or that this was a real form of travel. I have friends in all corners of the United States and it would be great to be able to visit them as quick as nothing. It would be a lot cheaper and I wouldn’t miss so much of my California kids lives.

Well, that’s it for today. You guys have a great one and I’ll talk to you later. As always, behave.

Book Review – Cheeky Royal by Nana Malone

This was another Book of Faces rec. I swear they target me so well, and I can’t even be mad anymore. Most of my ads are about books and coffee. It’s like they’ve finally figured me out. So I downloaded this book, the first in a six book series, on Kindle and I guess I should have paid more attention because this book was sooo good that as soon as I was done, I went looking for the next one, only to discover that she’d put only the first book on Kindle Unlimited, the rest were only available in physical copies and audiobook. You bet your ass I ordered that second book.

When searching for the cover for this book for the review, I found out I’m a little late to the party, I mean there’s six books in the series, I’m not surprised, but hey, there used to be different covers for this series, the old cover looked like this.

I honestly can’t tell you which one I prefer. So here’s what I understand about this series. There are two books per character. This one, and the next in the series, Cheeky King, are about Prince Sebastian. It’s a really good story. Which, after reading the Amazon reviews, I was worried I wouldn’t like the writing style. Then again, most of the reviews are people mad because it’s a “story ripped in half” like yeah…. it says Book One on the front of it, on both covers. That usually indicates to me that it’s part of a series, otherwise why include it? Others were mad that it ended on a cliffhanger and felt they should have been warned. I personally hate it if I’m warned of a cliffhanger. Don’t tell me that. Cliffhangers are powerful tools. Kind of like putting the first book on KU and then making me buy the rest. I’m gonna do it, but that was smart from the author perspective.

So, with those mixed reviews on Amazon, and knowing it’s a cliffhanger, and part of a series, here’s what I think.

Penny is a Royal Guard, just like the rest of her family, but it’s not where he passion lies. Her passion is in art. As a Royal Guard, she’s too clumsy, and she doesn’t have a very good opinion of herself. Prince Sebastian, the heir, has been “missing” for six months. No one is quite sure where he really is because he’s employed body doubles, who look enough like him to fool people, to travel the globe and keep up the drinking and womanizing that his reputation expects, only he isn’t going to do those things. He’s looking for his long lost brother. A brother he didn’t even know he had.

King Cassius assigns Penelope a special job, to go undercover, pose as Sebastian’s neighbor and convince him to come home before his birthday in six weeks. Penelope initially turns down the job, thinking she’s not the best one for it. After talking to her best friend, Ariel, and an argument with her boyfriend, she decides to take the assignment after all, if for no other reason than a change in scenery. The plan is simple, her and Ariel form a two man team to watch the Prince, keep him safe, and Penelope has to convince him to come home, all without him realizing who she is. She goes by the name Len, something her parents used to call her when she was young, and moves in next door.

It’s a romance, so hijinks ensue and there’s a lot of ups and downs. They’re both trying to resist the romance of it all for their own reasons. Sebastian is trying to track down his brother and convince him to come back to the Winston Isles. Penelope is a Royal Guard, even though she breaks up with her boyfriend (for a scandalous reason i might add!), she can’t let herself get close to the Prince for obvious reasons. It was good. Really good. I highly recommend, but do yourself a favor, order the second book before you start the first otherwise you’ll be stuck in limbo while you wait for it!

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Did you think think the first sentence of the book was effective?
Oh yeah. It sets us up perfectly. In one sentence, we understand a little bit about the relationship she has with her parents, and how other people see her. It sets us up to understand her low self-confidence.

How do you feel about the books pacing?
The pacing was good. I felt like it went at the speed it was supposed to go at.

Did you feel the narrator of this book was reliable?
I really liked the dual POV. I think that Sebastian and Penelope were able to give us the reality as they saw it, and that was helpful so that the reader understood what was going on.

Was there a moment when you disagreed with the protagonist’s decisions?
Yes. It’s toward the end of the book, and they both decide they have to tell each other the truth. But they keep letting themselves put it off. They should have had the difficult conversation, even if they didn’t want to.

Did you guess the ending of the book?
I did not see that coming. If you guessed it, you’re a wizard, because I didn’t see it coming at all.

Did you race to the end or was it more of a slow burn?
I’m not gonna lie. I raced there. It was so good I didn’t want to put it down. I kept wanting to know what happened next.

Which character did you like best?
If I’m being completely honest, as much as I loved the two main characters, Sebastian more than Penelope but only a little bit, my favorite character was Ariel. She’s such a great friend. She’s always got Penelope’s back. She’s amazing in her own right as well and that makes me super happy.

Are there any characters you’d like to deliver a lecture to?
Yes. Penelope’s brother Michael and his best friend Robert. They need a very stern talking too, starting with HOW DARE YOU! on so many counts.

Did you like the “heat” level of the book?
Please excuse me while I pull out a fan because damn. It was good. I liked it, and it didn’t feel forced or put in for shock value or anything else. It was good for the story. Especially given what the characters were feeling.

Was the couple’s connection believable?
Yes. On a number of levels. It’s cute that they both remember one another from childhood, even if it’s vaguely. Then to have the relationship they do later on in the book. I love that they start as friends, they encourage each other in their passions, it’s simple. Easy. Without the other titles hanging over their heads. I hope that they remember that after their secrets are revealed.

Well, that’s all I’ve got this time around folks. Trust me, after I get the second book, I’ll let you know how that one was too. I can’t wait. I’m sure this is a series that I will read every book for. I hope you enjoyed this review. Tune in next week for another. Have a fantastic day my dears!

Book Review – Firefighter Griffin by Zoe Chant

This is another one of those books that I saw on the book of faces and just had to read. Normally, I don’t read anything in the middle of a series if I know it’s the middle of a series, but this one I made an exception for. I got drawn in by the little boy turning into a lion, climbing a tree, and getting stuck and the poor mom freaking out. So, I sought out the third book in the Fire and Rescue Shifter’s series by Zoe Chant and I’m so glad that I did. It was awesome.

Griff MacCormick is a Scottish shifter who can’t shift. He decides to check out the “prank call” his coworker thinks is just kids messing around. Griff knows better. He had been part of Team Alpha, a fire and rescue squad made entirely of shifters, until something happened to his leg and he couldn’t do it anymore. He can still hear other shifters in his head, and see them, but he can’t shift himself, which is a disappointment.

But, he shows up at Hayley Parker’s house anyway after his shift, which is just after the call comes in, and gets her son Danny down out of the tree. Hayley is NOT a shifter, didn’t even know they were a thing! When Griff tells her that he’s happy she’s moved to the UK from California, since US based Shifters aren’t well protected but the Royal Family make certain that shifters in the UK have some protections. I think the best line I read in the early part of this book is about the Royal family itself, who apparently have been Dragon shifters since the War of the Roses. I loved that. It was an interesting bit of world building that I found humorous.

Griff helps Hayley with Danny. He helps Danny understand what’s happening to him, and how to shift back and forth. He isn’t sure what to do about the fact that Hayley is his mate but there’s something wrong with him, he cannot have her. It’s stressful for both of them. It’s a great book though, filled with lots of colorful characters. It was a thrill to read and I really want to read the rest of the series now. Maybe this winter I will.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Did you decide right away if you liked or disliked the book?
Based on the little bit I had read in the preview on the book of faces, I knew I was going to like this. I was so right. From the very beginning it was amazing and everything I could have hoped for. It was sooo good.

What drew you in?
It was the idea that there were shifters and no one knew about them. I’m a sucker for shifters and vampires and paranormal of any kind. I mean I write it so clearly I enjoy it, but I am a sucker for that kind of thing specifically. I loved the idea that someone who was falling apart, was willing to give of themselves to help someone else. I love that.

Who was your favorite character?
John Doe. Hands down. He’s not even a main character but our introduction to him in this book, is him washing dishes while also cooking because he works with water. He hates the voice of the dishwasher and prefers to ask the water nicely for help. I love that. Keep in mind that I haven’t read the rest of the series, just this book, and I loved that that was my first glimpse of him. He’s a fantastic friend to Griff and I just love him okay?

Who was your least favorite character?
Reiner Ljonsson. He could have had a happy relationship with his son, and I’m all for people coming back later to try to have something to do with their kids as long as it’s for the right reasons. His reasoning was flawed and I hated that. It wasn’t okay.

Could you relate to any of the character?
Hayley was extremely relatable. As the mother of six kids, I can’t imagine what my reaction would be to finding out they could shift. And the way she tackles the whole new world that she’s exposed to, that’s goals right there. I loved it. She was awesome, strong, brave, and level headed. It gave me a sort of in to this world that I knew nothing about.

Did you have a favorite line or chapter?
The first time John Doe meets Hayley, it’s kind of a tense situation as everyone from Team Alpha is there and something is wrong with Griff. Hayley is appropriately freaked out. Then John comes in the door, and he is freaking HUGE. He’s a sea dragon in human form. He’s not small. But he’s the epitome of teddy bear. This is what he says when he first encounters her.

He Sank gracefully to one knee in front of her, bowing his head. “My Lady. I am the Walker-Above-Wave, Knight-Poet of the First Water, Guardian of the Pearl Throne, Seeker of the Emperor-in-Absence, Firefighter of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, and Griffin’s sworn Oath-Brother. If by my life or my death I can serve you, I will.”

John Doe, Firefighter Griffin by Zoe Chant.

I remember calling a friend and being like YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS! If this was not the best character introduction I have ever heard, I don’t know what to tell you.

Did you think the couple in the book were a good match?
I did. I love the “true mates/soulmates” trope. I use it in my own writing sometimes. And I love that. In addition to the one perfect mate thing, Griff and Hayley got along well. They wanted similar things and it was easy to see why they would be compatible. As a single mom, I loved that Griff took a shine to Danny immediately and wanted what was best for him, even if he didn’t like it personally.

What was the saddest part of the book?
The fight for dominance between Reiner and Griffin. It was heart breaking because it put Griff into an impossible situation where he knew he would fail, but he had to do it. It hurt my heart so much.

If you could ask the author a question, what would it be?
All of my questions would be John Doe based. How did she create him? How did she decide on his titles? He’s my favorite and this isn’t even his book.

How did you feel about the ending?
The ending fit the book. I saw it coming, but anyone who knows anything about mythology probably would. It was predictable in the best possible way and I loved it! I wouldn’t trade it for something else. It was perfect for the story.

Ratings

Overall Rating

I gave this book five stars. It lived up to every single expectation that I had after reading the preview. It was amazing and I’m so glad that the book of faces recommended it.

Heat Level

I gave this four flames for the heat level. It wasn’t that the heat wasn’t there, it’s just that there wasn’t a lot of it. There are so many other things going on in this book that the steamy romance part got put on the back burner somewhat for the characters. They are dealing with a lot. Though the sexual tension between them is insane and when they do give in, it’s hawt! Very much so. But that’s why there’s only four flames. It was good though.

Well, that’s all for me this week folks. Check out the Fire and Rescue Shifter’s series. Trust me. It’s amazing. I have the next book on my list soon, it’s about John Doe after all, so you know I have to read it. 🙂

Book Review – Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox

Book Cover for Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox

I have never been so angry to have read something on my Kindle app rather than in a physical book before. When I tell you that I wanted so badly to throw my phone when I got to the cliffhanger ending of this book….I yelled in frustration, making the baby in the apartment above me start crying. And all I could think was “same baby, same.”

This book was fantastic. Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox, I have never clicked on a sequel so fast in my life. Just when you think everything might be okay, boom! Nope. So, I’m going to recommend this book, and trust me, it’s gonna end up in time out. I highly recommend getting a physical copy of it just to be able to put it in book time out. I swear.

Shattered Altar is about a young woman, Olivia, who’s on her way home from New York to see her family for the holidays. Well, as in usual fashion, her flight gets delayed and she goes off in search of coffee. A stranger sits down next to her at the cafe in the airport and they get to talking. Dude is sexy and she starts thinking that it might not be so bad to live a little like her sister Mia urges her to do. Aleksandr, or Aleks as he prefers to be called, takes her to find good coffee in the airport since they’re on the same delayed flight. Though I wasn’t sure how 5 hours passed so quickly, the sexual tension between Olivia and Aleks was obvious. As soon as we got to his POV, I knew he couldn’t be trusted, he stated as much, but as the reader, I didn’t know why.

This book is filled with ups and downs and twists and turns and the frustration on both Aleks and Olivia’s parts that comes with falling for someone you shouldn’t. There’s forced marriage, blackmail, intrigue, missing persons who aren’t actually missing, and possibly an accidental pregnancy. It’s so good. You have to go read it.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

What was your favorite part of the book?
My favorite part of the book was the beginning and the meet-cute. It was so surreal and for a moment I thought we were edging into the way I had originally written the beginning of Blood Song, so it was a bit trippy for me. It changed quickly after that so there wasn’t any chance of it being anywhere close to the same story, but I was drawn right in. I also really enjoyed the scenes at the lake.

Did you race to the end or was it a slow burn?
I read this book in just a couple of days. I could have finished it last night but I watched a couple episodes of a show with my kids instead. This book sucks you in and keeps you reading to find out what will happen next.

Would you want to read another book by this author?
I have already downloaded the sequel and want to type this as quickly as possible so I can get back to it. Nicole Fox seems to have quite the backlist going and I want to devour them all. Especially if they are as good as this one.

How does the book title work in relation to the books contents?
At first I was confused at how the title related to the story, but now that I’ve finished the book, it makes so much sense, and I already know how the second one will relate to the story I’m imagining. I cannot wait, I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet how much I want to read the sequel…and it’s not on the summer reading list you guys!

Who do you most want to read this book?
Stephanie of course. She would love this. Otherwise, anyone who loves the mafia don trope, you will love this. If you’re afraid of the steamy or the spice, stay away, but if not, read this. Please. Add it to your summer reading list. I promise you won’t regret it.

Are there lingering questions from the book you’re still thinking about?
So many. What will Aleks reaction be to finding out that Olivia is gone? What new challenges will Olivia face now that she’s been taken somewhere “Safe”? What is going to happen to the person that helped Olivia escape? Are Olivia’s suspicions confirmed? Will Aleks and Olivia admit their true feelings for one another? As you can see, I have a lot of questions.

Which characters did you like best?
I absolutely love Olivia and Aleks. I love watching them try to fight what’s right in front of them for obvious and logical reasons. Too bad love doesn’t care about logic. I also really enjoyed Olivia’s sister Mia and Aleks best friend, Demyen. I think he’s the perfect foil for Aleks. He calls him on his bull and isn’t afraid of him, though he respects him not only as the Bratva Don he is, but as a friend and that is much more important in that line of work, one would think.

Did you like the heat level of this book?
Dude yes. I loved it. My favorite part of it, nothing was forced or coerced. It was all done willingly. There was no fraud involved in the spicy scenes. The heat level was fabulous.

Was the couple’s connection believable? If so, at what point did they click for you?
Okay, I was a sucker for them in the beginning, and fell head long into their connection. There was obvious chemistry happening between them. After the startling turn of events, I liked that they both fought that obvious chemistry and that Aleks never used his position of power over Olivia to get anything sexual from her, not even a kiss. I liked that the internal struggle of falling for someone you had no business falling for was present and that they fought it. I like the inclusion of shame for Olivia that came with every time she gave in just a little bit, or thought about it. It made it more real. More believable. I also liked that every time they fought, a little more of their true feelings came to the surface.

What do you think happens to the leads after the ending?
I think that after Aleks finds out that Olivia is gone, heads will roll, literally and figuratively. Especially after he finds out where she ended up. I think that Olivia is going to quickly realize that Aleks was telling the truth when he said he was trying to keep her safe and that running was probably the worst idea she’s ever had.

Ratings

I gave this book 5 stars because obviously I wanted to throw it at the awall and it needed a book time out so often. The writing was great, I enjoyed the story, and very mjuch look forward to reading more of Nicole Fox’s work.

Five Stars

This book got a 5 flame heat rating. The spice was on point, just enough detail to really make it believable, but not too much graphic descirption to cross over into erotica areas. Also, it was never coerced or forced and that made all the difference for me. Despite everything, if it ever had been, that would have crossed too many lines for Aleks to be a redeemable character in my book.

Five Flames

Okay, so that’s the review for Shattered Altar. Read it. Enjoy it. Be prepared to throw it at the end. Seriously. Do yourself a favor, get the second book as well, because you’re going to want to tstart that one as soon as you’re done with the first one. I’m out for today, as always my beautiful people, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an adventure, even if it’s just on the pages of a book while you enjoy the nice weather.

Bye Bye Butterfly

My Summer Reading List – Summer 2022

Amber Marie’s Summer Reading List Graphic

This summer I am going to read a lot of books. My goal is 12, but I’m sure there will be more! Between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox there are exactly 12 weeks. My current TBR list…it’s over fifty books long. So there are a lot of choices. In the past I’ve decided what order I was going to read in, not this time. Several of these books don’t even come out at different points in the summer. Some of them are already out, or came out recently. I’m excited about it. So without further ado, here’s the list. Read with me if you want. Or feel free to suggest more books that you think I should read.

Amber Marie’s 2k22 Summer Reading List
(In order of publication date)

Temptation by Ivy Smoak – published April 8, 2015
Suddenly Dirty by JA Law – published April 1, 2016
Mr. Perfect by JA Huss – published April 27, 2016
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – published August 2, 2016
Firefighter Griffin by Zoe Chant – published December 3, 2016

Greed by Lana Pecherczyk – published July 8, 2019
Bad Prince by Lilian Monroe – published October 1, 2019
The Longing of Lone Wolves by Lana Pecherczyk – published June 8, 2020
Curvy Girls Can’t Date Quarterbacks by Kelsie Stelting – published July 31, 2020
Promises and Pomegranates by Sav R. Miller – published August 10, 2021

Reborn by Anne K. Whelan & Liz Cain – published August 13, 2021
Hooked by Emily McIntyre – published September 7, 2021
A Throne of Ruin by K.F. Breene – published November 12, 2021
Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score – published January 13, 2022
Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox – published April 28, 2022

The Wild Side by Cassie-Ann L. Miller – published May 12, 2022
Filthy Rich Vampire by Genova Lee Albin – published May 24, 2022
Phoebe by Minerva Spencer – published May 31, 2022
A Frankness of Character by Pemberly Darcy and A. Lady – published June 3, 2022
Filthy by Tia Louise – published June 9, 2022

Hell Gate by Veronica Eden – published June 9, 2022
Rowan by Robin D. Mahle – published June 9, 2022
Alpha’s Redemption by Skye Wilson – published June 13, 2022
An Unpleasant Sort of Man by Michelle D’Arcy – published June 14, 2022
Blind Side by Kandi Steiner – published June 15, 2022

(These titles not yet published)
On Thin Ice by Kat Obie – published June 23, 2022
Not a Vampire by Auryn Hadley – June 24, 2022
Tangle of Dragons by Jane Darkspire – published June 27, 2022
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston – published June 28, 2022
Yellow by N.M. Burns – published June 29, 2022

Click the Bell to Subscribe by N. M. Burns – published June 29, 2022
Captured by Billionaires by Drusilla Swan – published June 30, 2022
The Phoenix Prophecy: Nova by Cara Clare – published July 1, 2022
Deucalion Academy: Pawn of the Gods by Ruby Vincent – published July 2, 2022
Audrey by Elle Lincoln – published July 5, 2022

The Sedition of Sophie Covey by Tana Rose – published July 5, 2022
Blood and Vows by K. Easton & Amanda Richardson – published July 7, 2022
Amp by Sybur Phyre – published July 11, 2022
Noire by Anna Fury – published July 12, 2022
Demons So Dark by Alessa Allure – published July 22, 2022

Midnight Sin by Morgan Elliott – published July 26, 2022
Silenced by Jayce Carter – published July 26, 2022
A Vampire in Rosings Park by Penelope Talbot & A. Lady – published July 30, 2022
Invoking the Blood by Kalista Neith – published August 2, 2022
A History of Vampires: A New Queen by Amanda Lewis – August 8, 2022

Ruthless by Gena Showalter – published August 9, 2022
Consort by Ada Dart – published August 14, 2022
Dawn of the Dark Ice by Grady P. Brown -published August 21, 2022
Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck – published August 23, 2022
Numinous by Victoria Woods – published August 23, 2022

Sanctuary by Holly Hanzo – published August 26, 2022
Pack of Lies by Charlie Adhara – published August 30, 2022
Wolf Found by Kaylin Peyerk – published August 31, 2022
Vamps: Fresh Blood by Nicole Arend – published September 1, 2022
The Siren and the Water Witch by Cameron Allie – September 16, 2022
Fated to be King by Skye Alder – published September 16, 2022

That’s the list. I hope you enjoy it. If you decide to read along with me, let me know which ones you pick and what you think of it! You never know, I could just invite you to help out with a Book Review for Complicated Houseplants! Well, that’s it for now my loves, as always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have a wonderful adventure!

Bye Bye Butterfly

Working with an Editor

Editor Aesthetic Picture

Before I got signed with Clan Whelan Publishing for The Bluebird Chronicles, it was called The Ashes and Stars Series. Back when the first book was called Noctivagus and I had finally finished the first draft of it, I sent it over to an editor friend of mine named Erika over at The Word Nerd. She’d never edited fiction so we worked out a deal, and she did a Manuscript Evaluation for me. Took her about a month to get back to me, and while she loved the story, there was a lot that needed to be fixed. While she had that I started working on the second book in the series.

When I got the eval back, I was a bit of a mess. My mom had just died and it was a lot for me. It was the first time anything of mine had really be critiqued and I felt some type of way about it. After a couple of weeks, I sat down and really read the feedback Erika had provided. Turned out to be really good. She pointed out several things that I could change and several creative ways to do it. Overall, the feedback really helped form the second draft of the story and though it took almost a year, I was able to rewrite the story, and it was better the second time around. It was the version I submitted to Clan Whelan that got me the publishing contract in the first place.

The Werd Nerd logo

Throughout the difficult rewrite process, Erika was patient and didn’t mind scheduling several meetings with me as I worked through the information and tried my best to incorporate it into something that was a feasible story. In fact, it was scheduled to go back to her in May of this year, but I signed with Clan Whelan Publishing in February instead.

When I was in the beginning meetings with the publishing company I now call home, I told Erika about it and she checked with her multiple resources, like I had my own, to ensure they were a legitimate company. When the contract came, she was one of the people I had look it over for me. Then we had a conversation about what I should ask them in reference to several aspects of working with them. She was extremely helpful when it came to completing my journey, and one of my biggest supporters.

A sneak peek at Erika’s book cover. She’s so proud of this. And so am I.

Erika and I have known each other a number of years and we were friends before she ever edited a word for me. I was so excited to work with her. She helped more than I can convey in words. She helped me refine everything I needed to. I can’t wait for her to be able to read the version of this story that actually gets published. She has a book of her own coming out soon and I cannot wait to own it. It’s a dicktionary or expletives for editors. As an author, I plan to pick it up so I can write my expletives correctly and save my editors some work. I’m so proud of her. She’s amazing.

Find her over on her website, or her Facebook page. Give her a shoutout and if you’re looking for an editor, she’s amazing and comes highly recommended. That’s it for me today my lovelies. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an amazing adventure!

Bye Bye Butterfly

Nora Kate Whitley

It’s that time again! It’s time for another character profile, this time it’s Nora. Nora, as you learned last week is dating Penelope’s cousin Rich Cunningham. They’ve been together almost a decade at this point, and while they eventually plan to get married, but they just haven’t done any planning for it yet. Nora is one of the people Penelope considers family at this point, even if for some reason her and Rich break up, she would stay Penelope’s friend.

Emilia Clarke – Face Claim for Nora Whitley

Nora grew up in London with her parents. She took a job at a local pub after college and that’s where she met Rich. She and Rich got along so well that they started dating. It didn’t take long for them to move in together, or for her to settle into her life with him. Though they’ve been engaged several years, they have made no plans to get married yet. She prefers to stay home while Rich travels the world, and since they don’t really need the money, she’s content to continue working at the pub, which she loves. She’s now been made a manager there, and she loves it.

Face Claims (L-R): Bailey, Penelope, Nora, and Callie

Nora met Penelope when she flew to Rome with Rich and Noah. They were going on vacation and Rich invited Penelope to join them if she could. She was able to get a few days away and it didn’t take long for Nora and Penelope to become friends. Nora came to visit her and Callie in La Maddalena a couple of months later, and the three of them get along like a house on fire.

When Penelope and Callie were transferred back to the US, Nora stayed friends with them, being added to the group chat and at one point coming out for a week without Rich, since he and Noah were busy. She was introduced to Bailey then and the friendship between them, that had started in the group chat already, blossomed into something real.

As much as Nora is friends with Penelope and Bailey, her best friend on the planet is actually Callie Gracen. For all of Callie’s sarcastic boldness, Nora is quiet and sweet…to most people. The two of them initially bonded in Italy with their love of the same drink. Which then grew into their love of the same books and movies. Despite the geographical distance between them, they are ride or die for one another.

Face Claims: Aiden Cunningham (L): Kit Harrington; Paisley Cunningham (R): Rose Leslee

Aside from Penelope, Bailey, and Callie, Nora does have other friends. She’s been engaged to Rich so long that she’s not sure they’ll ever actually get married and she’s okay with that. She isn’t in a rush to get to the alter, which is unlike most women her age. She’s confident in her relationship and she knows that they can survive anything. He is always there for her and never lets her down. She couldn’t hope for a better man.

Rich’s family has also been quite welcoming. She gets along well with his sister in law, Paisley Cunningham, and his brother, Aiden Cunningham. The girls hang out quite often, whether Rich is home or not. Nora likes that the Cunningham family has completely embraced her, since her own family is small and quite cold from time to time. Rich’s family is not, and she is always invited to every family event, with or without her fiancé.

Paisley Cunningham (L) & Nora Whitley (R)

Nora is one of my favorite tertiary characters. She’d be secondary, except she isn’t a large part of this story, though she is important to it. The friendship that she has with everyone draws everyone together. She helps keep the balance between the crazy life that Rich leads and the real world. It’s important for him to come home to her for that balance and love. I hope you enjoy this character as much as I do.

As for me, we’re done for now. Have a great day everyone! Don’t forget to be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have amazing adventures!

Bye Bye Butterfly!

Bailey Stills-Parker’s House

There are so many settings that help shape The Bluebird Chronicles stories. One of the major ones is Bailey’s house. It’s the center of Penelope’s life in Illinois. She has her own room there, sort of like an in-law sweet. Complete with her own entrance and exit to the house. It’s Bailey’s oasis, the one place she loves, and Penelope loves coming home to it.

Bailey’s House in Southern Illinois.

When the Sawyer family moved to Michigan, they kept Penelope’s Grandmother’s house. She had no need of it after moving back to England and while they used it until Penelope and Cohen left for school. Cohen had initially wanted it, but after his death, they planned to sell it. Bailey was looking to move out of her parents house, and was interested in the property. The Sawyer’s cut her a deal, way below market value, since they really didn’t need to make a profit on it, they owned it outright. With help from her parents, she was able to purchase the house and still have enough left over to renovate the entire inside. She made the floor plan a little more open, took out one of the upstairs bedrooms and added in a small living room feature just outside the master bedroom. It was then that the basement was finished and Penelope’s suite was included as well. She’s still paying on the house, but her payments aren’t that much, which allows her a little bit of freedom when it comes to her life.

Kitchen (L), Living Room (C), and back deck (R).

Her first act of business was to renovate the first floor, allowing the kitchen and living room to feel a little more open. It created a bigger feel to the room and after finishing the space with the deck outside, she loved the way it looks. The laundry room is also on the same floor, along with a nice pantry. The stairs upstairs and the stairs to the basement are near the kitchen and they’re wide enough that moving furniture up and down are not a problem.

Bailey’s closet, bedroom, and master bathroom.

The next thing she worked on was the upstairs. First she started with her own bedroom. She made it spacious, and added a walk-closet, making the bathroom a little smaller than it could have been and taking out one of the guest rooms to make room for the closet and the small living room that sits outside her door at the top of the stairs. Bailey decorated with burnt oranges and colors that felt homey and warm. She wanted to make it lively, and feel happy, even if she’d had a rough day.

Guest Room One (L), Guest Room Two (C), Sitting Room (R)

Once she’d finished her room, she moved on to the guest rooms upstairs. Though basic in theme, she wanted any potential guests to feel comfortable. The decor matches that ideal and looks well. The small sitting room outside her bedroom is decorated in the same theme as her room, or close to it. Moving the colors out and blending them so that the guest rooms, the bathroom, and the hall all came together beautifully.

Bailey spends a lot of time in the sitting room. She has a desk in the corner where she does her school work or looks over cases she brought home from work. She’s amassing a small law library on the shelf next to her desk in the corner, but she’s happy with it. In the evenings when she doesn’t have class, she’s apt to sit at her desk while Asher sits on the couch playing video games until they’re both ready for bed. She finds the entire thing domestic and wonderful.

Penelope’s bedroom (L), Living Room (C), and Bathroom (R).

The last thing she worked on was Penelope’s basement suite. Once everything else was done, Bailey was able to move into the house and they worked on Penelope’s space downstairs with a lot of input from Penelope. The room is smaller, barely bigger than the queen sized bed and night stands that Penelope chose for the room. There is a small reach in closet on the same wall as the door and other than that, it isn’t large. The living room is full of soft and comfortable furniture. Penelope enjoys her space as much as she can. She has a desk off to the left of the living room, a small office, not much more than the desk and book case next to it. It’s sufficient if she has to work from there, but not as nice as her office at home. The bathroom is comfortable, but like everything, it’s smaller than what she has at home. It was never designed to be permanent, just comfortable for her when she’s on vacation. She loves that she has a door that leads directly outside so she can come and go as she pleases, which is helpful if she arrives late at night.

Laundry Room (L), Stairs to the upstairs and the door to Penelope’s suite (C), Penelope’s outside entrance (R).

Bailey’s house is comfortable and is one of the major settings throughout the series. I’m hoping that you enjoyed this look into her sanctuary. It’s a beautiful thing that Bailey has created and it’s good that everyone feels comfortable hanging out there.

Well, until next time my friends, you know the drill. Be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an adventure.

Bye Bye Butterfly ❤

Friends Forever?

Face claims for Bailey (L), Penelope (C), and Callie (R)

One of the primary things that holds The Bluebird Chronicles characters together is the friendships that have before the story starts, and the ones they make along the way as well. While I like writing romantic stories, my favorite ones are always those that have something more going on than just a romance. I hope that I can do that as well. As most of us know, there isn’t always just one thing going on in our lives, when romance hits. It’s never just that. There’s always something else as well.

I hope that by sharing some of these friendships, everyone can get a deeper understanding of these characters before you get to meet them on the page. I’m so excited for it. So, this first one is probably the most important. Penelope being the main character and all, it’s important to know where she comes from. Who her people are. Perhaps the most important people that she has, are her best friends.

Katie McGrath: Penelope’s Face claim

Penelope Sawyer was four years old when she met Bailey Stills-Parker. They were kind of thrown together while their family’s spent time together. Penelope, for her part was overjoyed to finally have a new friend to hang out with instead of just her brother Cohen, and his friend Micah. Micah, was finally happy to have a baby sister of his own, just like Cohen. It didn’t take long for Bailey and Penelope to form a fast friendship that couldn’t be severed, no matter what.

Melissa Benoit: Bailey’s Face Claim

By the time they were in high school, they were more like sisters, along with their brother’s, the four of them spent most of their time together. By the time that Cohen and Penelope left Illinois to move to Michigan, even the distance couldn’t dampen the friendships they shared and they continued on into adulthood unfettered.

Chyler Leigh: Callie’s Face claim

When Penelope joined the military after high school, she met Callie Gracen. They’ve became fast friends and that hasn’t changed. Through Penelope, Callie met Cohen and after a few meetings, the two began dating. They were about to get engaged when the unthinkable happened. Penelope and Callie were both due to get out of the military and while Penelope did, Callie didn’t. That change did nothing to dampen their friendship.

Photo by APG Graphics on Pexels.com

Penelope introduced Bailey and Callie and the rest is history. The three get on like a house on fire. Though the distance between them is vast, the advent of technology and group chats has made everything easier. The girls regularly talk in the group chat they’ve created. Though they don’t get together often, when they do it’s always chaos. There is drinking and adventure and they renew their bonds of friendship in the oldest ways.

Emilia Clarke: Nora’s Face Claim

Though not as close Bailey or Callie as Penelope is, Nora Whitley is the fourth member of their little group. She is dating Penelope’s cousin Rich, and has been for a number of years. She’s met Bailey, and Callie at different points, and though they don’t get a chance to hang out as often as they’d like, with Nora living in London, when they do it’s always special. She rounds out the group. Bailey and Penelope are ride or die for one another. Callie and Nora are the same. For some reason the two developed an immediate bond and that doesn’t ever diminish. The four remain fast friends.

Photo by vjapratama on Pexels.com

As a writer, I had a lot of fun creating these characters. Though they might have been defined by events out of their own control, they have a lot of fun together and show that it really doesn’t matter what life throws their way, the four of them will face it together. In spirit if not standing back to back. Everyone deserves a friend like that. A friend that is ride or die, and always has your back. I hope that everyone who reads The Bluebird Chronicles thinks of their best friend when they see how the four of them interact. I hope that everyone has at least one friend as good as these four are to one another.

I’ll see you guys next time. As always, be safe, drink your water, and don’t eat yellow snow.

Book Review – Left Behind by Vi Keeland and Dylan Scott

Happy Thursday everyone! Ready for the next book review? I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been struggling this week, I’m still not done reading next week’s book review book, but I’m farther into the next book on the list. I need to do something about that. For now though, let’s talk about Left Behind. Once again, I read this book with my cousin Steph. Since I picked the last book her and I read, she got to pick the next one. She chose this and one other. For me they were blind picks, all I knew was that they were more Vi Keeland books, until they arrived at my house. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Left Behind is not like the last Vi Keeland book I read. It’s a little different, and I liked it. Steph liked it more than I did probably, but everything else I’m reading right now is a little different so it stuck out. It isn’t that it’s a bad story, on the contrary, I had some really strong feelings about it.

Nikki Fallon is a 17 year old girl living in Texas. When her mom dies and she finds out some family secrets, it turns her life completely on its head. She struggles with unraveling a past she never knew about, and the typical horror of high school all in a new place with family she didn’t even know existed.

Zack Martin has everything. A beautiful cheerleader girlfriend. A spot on the Varsity football team. Everything a high school senior would want. Until it isn’t. Until it all goes wrong. How will he pick up the pieces and learn to live again?

Can Nikki and Zack come together to help one another through their own personal trauma and still manage to graduate on time? Or will the things they don’t know tear them apart?

Thelma & Louise Book Club Chat

Q: Why did you choose this book?
Amber: Steph actually picked this one since I picked the last one. It was a blind draw for me.
Steph: I chose this book because I got to read the first couple of pages from the first chapter online, and it intrigued me. It was a little different than the last one, but I thought it would be good. And obviously because we read a really stellar book by her before this.

Q: Which character did you like best?
Amber:
Zack. I felt like he was the most “real” of the characters. With that amount of grief, sometimes it only takes one small thing to pull you out. Or Kellar, I like characters that make me laugh.
Steph: Nikki. I could relate to her character with some real life events of my past.

Q: Which character did you like least?
Amber:
It’s a toss up between Nikki’s mom and Mrs. Bennet. Her mom because she should have told Nikki the truth and Mrs. Bennet, who is obviously not handling ANYTHING well and took it out on a clueless Nikki.
Steph: Emily, just because of the way she treated Zack and everyone else just because of her popularity. Or maybe Mrs. Bennet because she never gave Nikki the chance to get to know her before she started attacking her.

Q: What was your favorite part of this book?
Amber: My favorite part was either the night at lookout where Zack and Nikki finally opened up to each other and a little about their past.
Steph: The day they went to the lighthouse. Because when they were at the lookout, she mentioned she loved lighthouses and he remembered. And because of the epic kiss they share there as well.
Amber: That is probably my second favorite. Do you think it’s weird that both of our favorite scenes are more toward the beginning?
Steph: That’s because that’s before everything got complicated!

Q: How did the setting impact the story?
Steph: I think that the setting was perfect. They’re both athletic and the setting allowed them to explore that more and be outdoors.
Amber: I think it added depth to the characters. They were able to interact with their surroundings. I like that the differences in not only environment, but the setting between Nikki’s life in Texas and her life in California showed how far she was growing as a character, without it actually being shoved down your throat.

Q: Are there lingering questions from the book you’re still thinking about?
Amber: YES! What actually happened to Emily? Like I get the big picture, but what happened? And why did the writer portray the two funeral scenes exactly the same? Was it for parallels? Cause that was obvious enough without it feeling like it was copied and pasted.
Steph: I feel the same way. But I also want to know how Aunt Clare moved on with her life after Nikki and Zack left? Like, what happened with their relationship?

Q: Did you like the heat level of this book?
Amber: Because of the age of the characters, there wasn’t a lot of heat. I liked how it was done, but I could have used a little more build up maybe? They talk a lot about what happened between them in kind of an off handed way and while I like good Fade to Black spice scenes, I felt like it wasn’t even that most of the time.
Steph: Right, like it was more of just teenager teasing and flirting.

Q: Was the couple’s connection believable? If so, when did they click for you?
Steph: Yes, they clicked right away. They didn’t even have to speak to know that there was a connection.
Amber: Their first couple of meetings were really cute, with the not speaking to one another thing. I liked the little notes, especially when Nikki wrote one to Zack at the end.
Steph: Mmhm

Q: Are there any characters that you’d like to deliver a lecture to? If so, who? What would you say?
Amber: I have a list! OMG! Aunt Clare, why did you give up so easily on losing touch with your sister and your niece? Especially if you knew your niece could potentially be in danger? You knew where they were, why not reach out? Mrs. Bennet, WTF? Mrs. Fallon, dude. I know you had some mental health issues and some other health issues, but your daughter is NOT your caretaker, you are hers. Emily, CHILL OUT HOMEGIRL! It’s not that serious!
Steph: My first one is to Nikki’s Mom, I understand mental illnesses, but I am also a mother with those and I don’t understand how you could let your child down so harshly throughout her entire life. Aunt Clare, wanting children and never having any should have been the biggest reason to stay in touch with your sister so you could have a relationship with your niece. Mrs. Bennet, [redacted cussing] had you gotten the chance to get to know Nikki you would have realized how alike she was to the daughter you raised and hope that now that it’s all said and done, you regret your actions.
Amber: We did good at this. We done?
Steph: No, I’m gonna call Zack out as well. I understand you went through a tough loss at a young age, a lot like Nikki, but it wasn’t kind of you to treat Allie the way that you did. She was just trying to be there for you.

Q: Would you recommend this book to anyone? Who?
Amber: I don’t know. Teenagers maybe? It was a good book, I mean my mom stole it off of my shelf already.
Steph: Yes I would recommend it. It was a good read, a fast read, and I think that I’d recommend it to anyone between the ages of 16 -25 because I think they’d enjoy it more.

Amber: Do you think that the trauma experienced in this book and the recovery, or beginning of that recovery, is believable or would be relatable? We’ve both been through some of those things, the grief of losing a parent is something we both understand. Do you think the authors did a good job portraying that turmoil?
Steph: Yes I do. I think that they showed that the mental and emotional state with Zack dealing with his grief and trauma was so different from Nikki dealing with a similar issue because Nikki had been through so much with her mom already but Zack had never dealt with anything like that before.
Amber: I think it was done well. It was two vastly different reactions to similar situations which is often times true to life.

Our Ratings

This book was good, like I said. We both really enjoyed how quick it was to read. It kept us hooked, I’d call it a beach read, or maybe a good plan book. You could get through most of it in a few hours. The romance angle kept you intrigued, as well as the personal struggles of each character. The characters were well developed, even the background characters, and they were true to their personalities. They were consistent. This was the second book we’ve read by the same author, and so far the writing style is consistent and still good. It wasn’t quite a five star, however. It got a little predictable in the sense that I figured out who Nikki’s long lost sister was long before she did. It didn’t stop the lump in my throat or the pain in my chest when she finally figured it out though. It was rough. I like things that make me feel something.

Disclaimer on the heat level: Due to the ages of the characters, there wasn’t the same level of heat in this book as the last by the same author. It wasn’t even quite fade to black, though the kissing scenes were intense and made both of us a little breathless because we remember being young and being kissed like that, and the fear/excitement of our first times. It was really well written, there just wasn’t a lot of it. So our rating reflects that. It isn’t meant to be judgmental or bad, not this time. There just wasn’t much to judge. Again, given the age of the characters, I’m okay with that.

This book deals with a lot of heavy emotions. Grief, Foster Care, Death, Mental Illness, Depression, First Times, the list goes on. It’s heavy in a lot of ways. What really stuck with me was that the authors never shied away from portraying these things accurately. As someone who has lost a parent (two in my case, one in Steph’s), has their own diagnosed “Mental Illness”, and remembers being a teenager, I appreciated that these concepts were dealt with maturely and were a good representation for how life really is. Zack was still grieving months after everyone else had started to move on and everyone started to get worried about him. That’s realistic and it happens. Sometimes you get stuck there and can’t get passed it. My favorite thing, as someone who is diagnosed Bipolar, is Nikki’s constant and consistent correction of anyone who called her mom crazy or anything else besides sick. I can’t remember now exactly how it went, but there’s even a moment where she’s talking to her best friend, and even though her friend makes an offhanded comment, that Nikki knows she doesn’t mean in a bad way, it’s an automatic correction. I appreciated that. I’m lucky, I don’t have it as bad as some others do, but I’m not crazy, my brain just isn’t always a rational place to live. I loved this book. Please go read it. Give it to your teens, or anyone really. My mom took it off my bookshelf the day after I finished it.

That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the review. See you this time next week!