When We Finally Kiss Goodnight by Staci Troilo #bookreview #romance

Chloe Upshaw suffers from what she calls the trifecta of awful—unfulfilling job, disappointed family, bad luck with love. Just before Christmas, she travels to Pittsburgh hoping to land a job that will change her career. But not only is she in stiff competition for the position, she angers her mother by rejecting her matchmaking efforts and not going home. Worse, she runs into the guy who got away—and this time, no matter how many lies she tells to protect her heart, she leaves herself vulnerable to hurt.

Britt Garris’ callous and careless behavior in college cost him his dream girl. When fate crosses their paths ten years later, he thinks it’s serendipity. And he launches into one deception after another to win her back, including an auspicious trip for the two archaeologists to Gettysburg. Britt plays on Chloe’s love of history to spend time with her. He doesn’t count on the local lore and legend predicting their future—a future his duplicity puts at risk.

When their lies finally crumble, their budding relationship is threatened. Their dishonesties and disillusions may be impossible to overcome. But maybe the magic of the season can make their dreams come true. – Goodreads.com

I don’t read a lot of romance, but sometimes you just crave a Christmas read to cozy up with during cold weather, and being familiar with Pittsburgh (where I discovered the awesome cheesy goodness of white pizza for the first time), this story appealed to me.

This is a quick read with some humorous conflict between the characters.  I especially enjoyed the interactions between Chloe and her mother.  Whose mother hasn’t meddled in their love life/career choice at times?  And if you’re reading this during cold weather, certain sections may just warm you up a little.

Romance fans will enjoy this novella and root for the characters to get their happily ever after.



Ghosts of Manor House by Matt Powers #bookreview #RBRT #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

Edmund and Mary Wilder are very much in love. But the death of their young son, Tommy, has shattered their family. Edmund is determined to bring them back together, drawing on the only bit of strength he has left—his love for Mary and their daughter, Stephanie. But Mary sinks deeper into depression while little Stephanie’s anger grows. Edmund flounders in his attempts to rescue his family from the brink of collapse and doesn’t know where to turn.

Then Mary receives an invitation for the family to become guests at Manor House, a seemingly quaint Bed and Breakfast. This, she assures her husband, is the answer to all their troubles.

Edmund arrives ahead of his family to spend a couple days working on his long-delayed novel. But his growing curiosity about the old house leads Edmund to an encounter that will change him forever.

What will you sacrifice for love?

An old fashioned psychological thriller with a nod to Stephen King, Manor House will keep you guessing and compel you to turn the page to the very end.

A mother will sacrifice anything for her children. A husband will risk everything to save his wife. Manor House will take them all. – Goodreads.com

Give me a book featuring an eerie house and I’m a happy reader.  Ghosts of Manor House appealed to me based on the title alone.

The author does a wonderful job at conveying the emotions of grieving parents who’ve lost a child – my heart broke for them.  I also liked how the gruesome history of the tree was established in the prologue and gives a foundation for the mysterious happenings.  Once the family arrives at the house, you just know nothing good is going to happen.

After the first few chapters, there’s a sudden shift and for a while, it allows the reader to feel disoriented along with Edmund.  It’s easy to predict the path this story will take, but there are some tense, chilling moments along the way.

The book contains some formatting errors here and there, with two different characters speaking and the dialogue on the same line (which can be a little confusing), and sentences split between paragraphs.  Occasionally, the dialogue is somewhat repetitious.

This book doesn’t contain gore – it’s more atmospheric, with almost a gothic feel, so if you’re not a horror fan, don’t let that deter you from reading.  Although a quick read, Ghosts of Manor House contains powerful, heavy emotions and is a haunting, grim tale.

I received a copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Harry Potter World Visit! #UniversalStudios #DisneyWorld

So – I was missing from the blogosphere for the better part of two weeks, but I have an excellent excuse – my family and I went to Universal Studios.  This wasn’t our first trip – the few times we’ve been there have also been in January and the weather is usually hit or miss.  We’ve trudged through rain, suffered sunburns (usually just me) in mid seventy degree weather, and bundled up in temperatures hovering around freezing.  This year we were fortunate to have sun, but the temps were low 30’s in the morning, rising to maybe 50 degrees by mid afternoon.

I promised to post pictures when we returned, so here they are.  This first group is from the magical Harry Potter World.  If you’ve never been, it looks exactly like the movie sets -the level of detail is just incredible.

The first time I saw Platform 9 3/4, I nearly screamed.  The train station looks exactly as in the movie, and there’s a window/mirror kind of thing that makes it look like you’re walking through the wall.  The train can take you between Hogsmeade (Hogwarts castle is on the same side) and Diagon Alley, the same side as Gringott’s Bank.

The bottom picture is the dragon breathing flames on top of Grigottt’s.  The goblins working in the bank look incredibly lifelike and move.  My son saw something online saying if you address them the right way, they’ll tell you things about the dragon.  He tried it, but maybe didn’t speak loud enough.

The newspaper picture is a little blurry – it’s the story about Harry being Undesirable No. 1.  While waiting in line for the Escape from Griggott’s ride, there are several of these newspapers to read and watch.  The people in the pictures are animated just like in the movies – fascinating!

Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley offer Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice.  With the chilly day, the warm Butterbeer was fabulous – it had a distinct butterscotch flavor.  The Pumpkin Juice was cold, but I brought home a bottle to enjoy later – it’ my favorite.

Christmas decorations were still up and the parks were just beautiful with all the lights.  This picture was taken in the Hollywood section of Universal.  Lights were wrapped around the palm trees and strung across the buildings.

I had to get a picture of my sons with Scooby-Doo.  His cartoon was one of my favorites growing up and my sons loved watching him when they were younger.  Neither of them wanted to pose with Scooby, but I pulled the Mom-Card and threatened persuaded them it was in their best interests.

The last picture was while waiting in line for Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York.  Hubby, sons, and my oldest son’s girlfriend are wearing the 3D glasses.  This is a new motion simulator ride that takes you through NBC studios, Times Square, and around the Statue of Liberty – definitely worth trying!


We hadn’t been to Disney’s Magic Kingdom since the boys were younger, so thought we’d take a day and revisit.  Big mistake.  Huge.  Those who say Disney is ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ have clearly never been to the park.  The Seventh Circle of Hell is a more apt description.

I purchased our tickets online months earlier, thinking it would save time.  At Universal, you scan your barcode at a kiosk, it prints your tickets, and you’re on your way.  Not so simple at Disney.  You’re still required to wait in line with everyone who hasn’t bought tickets just to pick up yours.  That was over an hour wait.  Insane.  They’re Disney – they should have a better system.

After that, we had a choice of taking the ferry or monorail over to Magic Kingdom.  The kids had waited in line for the monorail while got the park tickets hoping to save some time.  That was another thirty minutes.  When we finally got on the ‘express’ monorail, it was delayed three times.  A five minute trip took nearly thirty.  From the time we parked our car, it took over two hours to arrive in the actual park.

The rest of the day was no better.  This was considered an ‘off-peak day’ – but I have no idea why.  Some of the lines were three hours long, we were shoulder to shoulder, chest to back with people in some sections and came to a complete standstill at one point, a gridlock of bodies, strollers, and screaming children (and some adults).  The majority of the employees were rude, the rides hadn’t changed, the food was horrible (and we waited an hour in line for that).  The only bright part of the day was that I’d made fast pass reservations online for a few of the rides, one of which we missed because of the delay in getting into the park, but we persuaded an employee to honor it and let us in.

We voted unanimously to leave about six hours after we’d arrived – most of that time spent waiting in line or gridlocked in a sea of bodies.  Back at Universal, we walked freely in the streets with no one invading our personal space, enjoyed both old favorites and exciting new rides, and appetizing food.

That was my Disney rant.  If you’re ever torn over which park to visit, you know my opinion.  We’re glad to be home, one of the boys is back at school, the other has a longer Christmas break and is still home – and I’m still catching up on laundry.  But the Christmas decorations are down – so there’s that.

Fourth Dimension by Eric Walters #bookreview #postapocalyptic

In a world with no power, chaos soon descends. A powerful look at the disintegration of society in the wake of a massive and mysterious outage that has knocked out all modern amenities.

Fifteen-year-old Emma has moved house with her ex-Marine mother and younger brother. It’s a brand-new condo building, which explains the semi-regular power outages, as workers complete the units around them. So Emma isn’t particularly concerned when the latest blackout hits just as they are preparing to leave town on a long weekend camping trip. But then the car won’t start, and their cellphones appear dead — and all the cars outside their building seem to be stalled in a long traffic jam …

In the midst of what appears to be a massive power outage, with their camping gear packed and ready, Emma and her family canoe over to the islands, just offshore, to wait it out. But while they land on an isolated island, with a relatively hidden site, they are far from safe, as people become increasingly desperate to find food and shelter. And as the days pass, and the power remains out, the threat of violence becomes all too real. – Goodreads.com

This book begins with a lot of potential.  The family dynamics between Emma, her mother, and her brother are realistic and amusing, and the imagery is vivid.  Once the power goes out, the situation deteriorates rapidly, and as an ER nurse and former Marine, Emma’s mother is well-trained to handle their situation.  She’s a force to be reckoned with.

Shortly after, the story loses its luster.  Everything that happens – the people they meet and their occupations, the supplies they come across – is just a little too convenient and unrealistic.  The plot becomes somewhat repetitive and I skimmed through several pages toward the end.  Which I’m not sure it was.  The closer I got to the end, it became clear nothing would be resolved.  Maybe there’s a sequel?

Although an intriguing concept, this book fell flat for me, but other post-apocalyptic fans may feel differently.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.


Tarnished City (Dark Gifts #2) by Vic James #bookreview #YA #dystopian #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

A corrupted city. A dark dream of power.

Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own.

New alliances and old feuds will remake the nation, leaving Abi and Luke questioning everything – and everyone – they know. And as Silyen Jardine hungers for the forgotten Skill of the legendary Wonder King, the country’s darkest hour approaches. Freedom and knowledge both come at a cost. So who will pay the price?  – Goodreads.com

The first book in this series was high on my list of favorite YA reads last year, and Tarnished City is quite possibly even better.

This is a darker, grittier read and the world-building continues to be phenomenal.  Every character is so well-drawn – the depth is exceptional.  Be prepared – deaths, betrayals, and surprises abound, and my jaw drops to page number ratio was exceedingly high.

As with the first novel, many of these characters aren’t what they initially seem, but Silyen continues to intrigue me the most.  I feel like there’s a clue right in front of me, but he remains an enigma.

Such a complex storyline – politics, rebellion, power struggles – a YA read that doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of its audience.  Highly recommend!  Tarnished City is scheduled for publication February 5th, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age – Guest Post by Charles E. Yallowitz #Fantasy #Magic

I’m thrilled to welcome Charles E. Yallowitz for a guest post about magic systems.  Charles recently released Warlord of the Forgotten Age, the last entry in his fifteen book Legends of Windemere series.  Fifteen books – what an accomplishment!

Thank you to Teri for offering to host a guest post and helping to promote Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age.  This is the final book of my fantasy adventure series, which has spanned 15 volumes.  One of the most key factors for the series has been the magic system.  Spells have flown, rituals have been done by both sides, ancient traps have been sprung, and enchanted items have been wielded throughout it all.  This is to be expected since I made Windemere a high magic world and it all started with a simple system that eventually grew into something larger.

The original idea begun with the Lich explaining that everything in Windemere has an aura that can be manipulated.  For a necrocaster, this means working with the energy of other beings, which is similar to touching a person’s soul without permission.  For regular casters, it’s using your own energy to create spells, which Nyx explained more of when she debuted.  Magic in Windemere is all about utilizing these auras, which means nearly every speck of matter in the world is enchanted.  This is because the dimensional plane of magic crashed into the physical plane and merged with everything.  Prior to this, it was harder to become a caster and the level of power that could be unleashed was nothing compared to the modern age.

Similar to Dungeons & Dragons games, I had to evolve the system as the series progressed to make heroes and villains stronger.  New characters appeared with new abilities, which had to be explained in a way that worked with what I already had.  Monsters and unique races demonstrated natural spells, which led to me explaining that some beings had stronger auras than others.  This is especially true with the fauna, so one could see how the beasts might be more connected to magic than the more civilized beings. It really drove home the idea that this is a natural power unlike other systems where magic is at odds with the world.  When parents and relatives began showing up, I had to show if genetics were a factor when it came to magical power.  The answer is yes, but some bloodlines are more powerful than others because the art has been perfected.  So, one could even say magic alters the genes if it’s used enough in a lifetime.

Perhaps the biggest change came from Nyx because she started off having a quirk that didn’t fit with the system.  Casters typically have to use words or gestures to cast a spell, yet she never had a need.  She still moves while casting, but it’s more to direct her attacks and because she grew up learning the gestures.  This meant I needed an explanation that didn’t destroy the entire magic system.  My answer was the rare and previously thought extinct species called the channelers.  These are powerful beings who are one with magic and can use it as easily as they breathe, which meant they were feared and somebody decided to wipe them out.  Nyx is descended from the last of that line who spent her final days setting up channeler bloodlines that would eventually revive the species.  Something about this made the magic a lot more potent and fluid since the limits had been increased.  Not that it didn’t come with a cost because I came up with the idea that the more magic you can wield, the easier it is for you to run out of juice and be left defenseless.  Channelers also have an extra risk because of their connection to the auras around them.  Since they don’t only use their own, but absorb the magic from their surroundings, they’re connected to the world.  This means the bigger the spell, the higher the chance that they will be left open to the thoughts and emotions of their target.

With that, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place because I’d always been on the fence about connecting auras to the soul.  For a bit, I hinted that they are one and the same, but then it meant Nyx losing her powers was her losing access to her soul.  It made it sound like she’s undead in this state too.  The two energies are intertwined and this posed an extra danger because certain magical beings could process the soul as if it was aura.  On the other side of the coin, a desperate caster could use their soul for a boost if they really need to survive.  This also explains why undead are the only beings with no aura because they lost it along with their soul.  Only time and future series will tell if this is where the system stops growing, but I have a feeling there’s a lot more to discover.

Again, thank you to Teri for letting me be a guest.  Hope everyone enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look of Windemere.  Please feel free to check out or help spread the word about Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age.  Enjoy the adventure.

Author Bio & Social Media

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.






All cover art done by JASON PEDERSEN


Catch the rest of the LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE on Amazon!

Murder at the Bijou: Three Ingredients 1 by Teagan Riordain Geneviene #TuesdayBookBlog #CozyMystery

Long ago I developed a writing exercise. I would ask friends to give me three completely random things. Then I would write until I had mentioned all the things. I brought that exercise to my blog, but I had the readers send me their things. I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters. That resulted in The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to this culinary mystery. However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.

As with the first serial, Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is a spontaneously written, pantser story. I let the “ingredients” readers sent each week drive every aspect of a new serial story. This is the “bookized” version of that serial.

This time the Jazz Age setting is Savannah, Georgia where our flapper, Pip is “sentenced” to live with her grandmother and learn to cook. Pip gets caught up in a layered mystery that includes bootleggers, G-men, and the varied challenges of being a young woman in changing times. She meets new friends including some animal characters.

If you have not read The Three Things Serial Story, be warned. This adventure contains a bit of a spoiler, but does not go into detail about it.

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

If you’re a frequent visitor to Teagan’s blog, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Paisley Idelle Peabody, better known as Pip, and her determination to be a level-headed modern woman.  A flapper.  Pip leads quite an adventurous life, and in this book stumbles upon a murder.  The supporting characters are colorful and entertaining, and Granny Phanny is a force to be reckoned with.

I’m fascinated by the author’s ability to take three randomly suggested items by fans and build a story around them.  As my son would say, “What sort of black magic is this?”  What a talent she possesses.

I curled up with this book on a cold day peppered with snow flurries, hot chocolate on the table beside me – a perfect read for that kind of day.  Fun, amusing, unique – you can’t go wrong with this book.