Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.
The first author with a recent review is Jacqui Murray for Against All Odds (Book 3 of the Crossroads Trilogy)
About the book
A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.
The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.
From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of the People’s long search for freedom, safety, and a new home.
A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!
One of the recent reviews for the book
Even after I had read the first two books of the Crossroads trilogy, I could hardly wait to feast my eyes on Book Three, Against All Odds. I was not disappointed. Over the span of the three books, Ms. Murray develops characters I love or despise, while fearing or worrying about others. As the People, several small tribes traveling together, cover what must be hundreds of miles in their quest for a permanent home base, they encounter a variety of dangers along the way. Sometimes the challenges are geographical and sometimes weather- and climate-related. The tribes are conscientious hunters and gatherers, taking only what they need. They face danger from the animals they prey on, but the most dangerous situations are when the People themselves become the prey of Others, Big Heads, and the most feared – cannibals.
Ms. Murray has combined her talent for storytelling with a huge amount of research into the many aspects of early man’s probable lifestyle, from communication, to weapons, survival skills, their use of early medicines, and social living habits. There has been much discussion about the level of language and signing skills early man used. Ms. Murray uses some poetic licence to suggest to the reader what the characters are probably communicating to each other. In a setting of 850,000 years ago, we must allow this in order to build the story that I guarantee you will love reading.
Also by by Jacqui Murray
The next author is Deborah Jay with a recent review for The Prince’s Son: The Five Kingdoms: Book Two
About the book
The thrilling fantasy adventure begun in The Prince’s Man continues with new, and familiar, characters…
Nessa Haddo has been raised to pursue what every young noblewoman needs: a suitable husband. Unfortunately for her, as a younger twin, her prospects are limited. Things start to look up when she lays eyes on the handsome foreign envoy sent to escort her sister to an arranged marriage, but her romantic fantasies quickly entangle her in events beyond her darkest nightmares.
Compared to his last mission, ex-spy Rustam Chalice’s new assignment sounds simple: wrangle an unwieldy bridal caravan across a mountain range populated by bandits, trolls, werecats, and worse, try to cajole a traumatized princess out of her self-imposed isolation, and arrive on time for the politically sensitive wedding. What could possibly go wrong?
Meanwhile, Lady Risada—the woman who haunts Rustam’s dreams—is struggling to adjust to a normal life. All her carefully honed assassin’s instincts scream warnings of foul play, yet she can find nothing obviously amiss.
And deep in the halls of a mountain clan, an old enemy plucks his victims’ strings with expert malice.
A recent review for the book
In an effort to strengthen ties between countries, Rustam is responsible for escorting Tyr-en nobles to an arranged marriage. But an old enemy is about to disrupt these plans.
I initially read the first part of the series a few years ago, and it was easy to slip back into the world of the Five Kingdoms, with Rustam and Risada coping with their new lives.
Despite saving the country, Rustam was exiled for using magic. Two years on, he has a prestigious diplomatic position in a foreign court, but his first loyalty will always be to Tyr-en and Prince Halnashead. Free from Tyr-en’s strict rules on magic, Rusty has been able to learn so much more about his inborn skills. He has to refrain from using them during his escort mission, as the girl’s chaperone – Princess Annasala – has a deep-routed fear of magic, thanks to the torture she previously endured.
Risada knows what’s expected of her. She is a lady of the second house, and needs to continue her bloodline with a suitable partner. No matter how much it breaks her heart.
At the end of the last book, she had negotiated her own marriage to Prince Halnadshead, and they are now expecting their first child. Risada used to be the most dangerous woman in the Five Kingdoms, but her days as he infamous assassin Dart look to be over. With her permanently damaged arm, and her growing belly, you can sense her frustrations at losing her once-perfect control. But her instincts are telling her there’s danger, and Risada is determined to get to the bottom of it, whilst protecting those she loves.
The newcomer to the story, is Nessa. The younger twin sister of Lady Julin, they travel together to Julin’s arranged marriage across the border. There are plenty of superstitions about younger twins in the Five Kingdoms, they are thought of as unlucky, or cursed. Nessa knows that she cannot expect much from life, but she hopes that after Julin marries, she can take the time to find her own perfect suitor. As soon as she lays eyes on Rustam, she is violently in love, and has a whole journey through the mountains to gain his affections.
Nessa was… sooo very annoying and immature in the beginning, but she means well, and all of her actions have good intentions. At seventeen years old, her view of the world is very narrow; and being the disposable twin has given her an uncertain future. I think that makes what happens to her so much harsher in comparison. Nessa and Julin both suffer various abuse whilst captive with the Tylocians. Neither are innocent children when they get out.
The abuse suffered by female characters is very central to this plot, with the twins’ forging it into a quiet strength; compared to Princess Annasala, who uses religious mania to stop herself from having to deal with it. The story doesn’t shy away from the subject, and I thought it was written very well. It respects how serious this is, and portrays it honestly; but the writing never gets bogged down with being dark and depressing.
The rest of the plot plays out well, keeping you guessing and hoping the whole time.
Books by Deborah Jay
The final author is Amy M. Reade with a recent review for Ghouls Night Out (The Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series Book 4)
About the book
Halloween is just around the corner and the goblins are out in force in Juniper Junction. A crotchety merchant, a malicious next-door neighbor, and some ghoulish trick-or-treaters are causing hair-raising problems for Lilly Carlsen’s boyfriend, Hassan Ashraf, and things are about to get much worse.
When Hassan finds himself at the center of a police investigation following the deaths of two of his tormentors just days apart, Lilly is ready to help in any way she can to bring the real fiends to justice.
But with Lilly’s daughter having trouble adjusting to college, her mother continuing a downward spiral into dementia, and possible romantic strife on the horizon between Lilly’s brother and her best friend, Lilly’s Halloween is beginning to look especially frightful.
One of the recent reviews for the book
I felt so much at home with the warm, deep characters who live in the fictional community of Juniper Springs, I wanted to settle in and spend not only Halloween but many future holidays with them. This novel keeps the reader turning page after page to find out what is happening to Lilly’s boyfriend, Hassan, who has been wrongly accused of murder. Then we want to know who murdered the second victim within mere days. And why is the tearoom closed literally before it opened, and where is its owner? Add to the suspense the fight between Lilly and her ex-husband over her daughter’s wish to drop out of college, combined with the troublesome and tragic descent of Lilly’s mother into dementia. And don’t get me started on Lilly’s brother, the policeman, and the secrets he’s carrying on his overworked shoulders. What I’m saying — although I’m taking way too long to say it — is that you definitely want to grab a copy of Ghouls’ Night Out to read between now and Halloween! It’s just the treat you need to brighten your holiday season.
Also by Amy M. Reade
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books thanks Sally.