Review of Heart of the Sea by Jasmine Denton

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A devastating curse, an ancient witch, and a dangerous love…

How far would you go to save the life of the person you love? In another lifetime, Mykaela made a deal with the devil—a powerful sea-witch Narissa who used her to steal the souls of drowning victims. Mykaela can keep her lover Dylan alive by helping Narissa gain ultimate power using those souls.

Mykaela’s been reincarnated to pay her debt to the witch. To ensure her obedience, Narissa turns the teen’s life into a hellish battlefield by hurting her friends and putting her mother into a magical coma. The supernatural has been on her side up until now, but when someone close to her takes a trip down the dark side, old wounds are opened. Can they break the curse before she loses everyone she holds dear in this lifetime?

Denton uses Greek Mythology’s Poseidon to gear up a tale of love and loss about a sea witch, a dolphin god, and two star crossed lovers that would do anything to find each other.  With hints of Romeo and Juliet origins, Heart of the Sea amply show what can happen to people who recognize past mistakes and try to fix the damage they may have caused.

Author Bio:
Jasmine Denton has trouble confining herself to one genre, so she writes books that often include (but aren’t limited to) fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, paranormal romance, contemporary romance and issue-based.
You can find Jasmine on facebook, twitter and pinterest.

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A Review of Loving Lucianna by Joyce DiPastena

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Everyone has known a person that can’t seem to help themselves and is always out spending, despite never having the means to support their expensive habits and hobbies. Imagine if that person happened to be your brother, a brother you had known nothing about for the first fifteen years of your life. As an orphan, you’d concocted a great story about your parents but your brother makes all of that disappear. His price for keeping your secret? The price is always at an incline, for if he could simply blackmail you, what more could he need?

Lucianna couldn’t help but imagine what her life could have been like if she knew her parents. Especially because she knew that life in the convent wasn’t the most exciting thing. When circumstances change and she finds love, she realizes that despite having the life she wants dangling right in front of her, she simply cannot risk her brother’s interference with the people she loves. A hard choice, but one she perceives to be made out of necessity, Lucianna decides she cannot marry her heart’s desire, Sir Balduin. Sir Balduin, in the dark, cannot fathom why his angel would suddenly pull so strongly from him. Could Sir Balduin be the one who shows Lucianna that with love anything is possible?



Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

When she’s not writing, Joyce loves to read, play the piano, and spend time with her sister and friends. A highlight of her year is attending the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.Joyce Dipastena






Did you know that Lucianna (the heroine of “Loving Lucianna”) has her very own Pinterest board?


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Book Review Wednesday: Phobic by Cortney Pearson

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Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Piper Crenshaw knows her house is strange. It’s never needed repairs since it was built in the 1800s, and the lights flicker in response to things she says.As if those things aren’t creepy enough, it’s also the place where her mother committed murder.To prove she’s not afraid of where she lives, Piper opens a forbidden door, which hides a staircase that leads to the ceiling. That’s when the flashbacks of the original residents from 1875 start, including a love affair between two young servants. Each vision pulls Piper deeper into not only their story, but also her house. Piper confides in her best friend,Todd, whom she’s gradually falling for, but even he doesn’t believe her. At least, not until her house gets axed during a prank, and the act injures Piper instead, cutting a gash the size of Texas into her stomach.Piper realizes her house isn’t haunted—it’s alive. To sever her link to it, she must unravel the clues in the flashbacks and uncover the truth about her mother’s crime, before she becomes part of her house for good. phobiccover


Phobic welcomes readers to the world of Piper Crenshaw, a girl who has horrible acne, has to deal with bullies on a constant basis, who lives in a huge pristine Victorian house under strict guidelines to never open certain doors.  While Piper always has her music to turn to, that doesn’t disconnect her from the house that never needs repairs.  Watch as Piper navigates life without her parents, yet still facing the ghostly remnants left behind in her home.

Cortney author pic
Author bio: Cortney is a book nerd who studied literature at BYU-Idaho, a music nerd who plays clarinet in her local community orchestra, and a writing nerd who creates stories for young adults. She lives with her husband and three sons in a small Idaho farm town.



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A Review of “The Brother Sister Fable” by Alyson Grauer

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Alyson Grauer uses excellent imagery similar to what one would expect from George MacDonald in her fast paced adventure story, “The Brother Sister Fable”.  With a pleasant modern setting, an indistinct bit of country land in New England, Grauer manages to pull the reader deep into the forest and all of the capabilities of exploration that a forest has.  Using elements from well known fairytales, a brother and sister, a forest, and the belief that sibling love only grows with age, Grauer showcases exactly what someone with unconditional love would do for a sibling, despite fear of the unknown and wild beasts.  Through courage, bravery, and perseverance, the sister shows that siblings will always stick together, even if it means having to face danger.

“The Brother Sister Fable” is just one of many excellent short stories in the book Legends and Lore, available on!


Review Written By A. Brown

Alyson Grauer is a storyteller in multiple mediums, her two primary canvases being the stage and the page. On stage, she is often seen in the Chicago area, primarily at Piccolo Theatre, Plan 9 Burlesque, and the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Her non-fiction work has been published in the “Journal for Perinatal Education” for Lamaze International. Her short fiction can be found in Tales from the Archives (Volume 2) for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and in one other anthology from Xchyler Publishing, Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology. Alyson is a proud graduate of Loyola University of Chicago and hails originally from Milwaukee, WI. Her debut novel, On The Isle of Sound and Wonder, will be released in November 2014 from Xchyler Publishing.

Facebook: @dreamstobecome
Email: dreamstobecome@gmail.comGood


Alyson Grauer LL

Questions and Answers with Alyson:
How did the idea for this story come to you?
When I was little, my younger brother got lost in the woods. He was gone for hours, and I always wondered what it had been like for him to be lost alone in theforest. He was found, of course, but he didn’t like talking about it after that. It scared my parents half to death. It spooked me, too… A few years ago I had a dream about it, a vivid one, and this story came out of the two mixing together in my mind: the dream memories and the real ones.

What makes your main character unique?
I like to think that the sister is a little unique in that she’s not afraid of what might happen if she goes after her brother. Well, let me amend that — she’s afraid, but not so scared that she doesn’t act. She also deals with the various challenges and confrontations along the way with a relatively level head, which I like. I didn’t want her to be too skittish.

Is this part of a series?

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I loved reading from a very young age. In fact, the legend has it that I coerced my preschool teacher to start me reading a whole year early, and by kindergarten I was reading Charlotte’s Web and Little Women while other kids were dealing with Dr. Seuss and See Spot Run. Reading that much made me realize I could make up my own stories, and it was all downhill from there.

What have you written?
In 2012, I wrote “A Trick of Strong Imagination,” a short story for Tales from the Archives, Volume 2, a podcast anthology for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrencesby Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine. In 2013, Xchyler Publishing picked me up for “Lavenza, or The Modern Galatea” in the anthology “Mechanized Masterpieces.” My first novel is coming out in November (also from Xchyler), a fantasy steampunk adventure called “On the Isle of Sound and Wonder.”

What are you working on?
Finishing up production on “Sound and Wonder.” After that, I told myself I’d take a break… but we’ll see how that goes…

How do you write?
Longhand, typewriter, laptop, tablet?I enjoy writing longhand from time to time – it’s really zen. Preferable method is laptop because my typing is fast enough to keep up with my brain. Occasionally Ihave been known to write on a tablet or smartphone in a desperate pinch.

What is your writing zone and how do you get there?
Zone? What zone? In a way, I need to see and feel my story. As an actor, I see things cinematically, imagine scenes as stage blocking, and hear dialogue as realvoices in a play or movie. So I love using Pinterest to help me visualize my characters and my world, using texture, color and light to help me find the words to move the story along. Good music is helpful, but sometimes I find I’m more productive without a soundtrack.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Learning that you’re not perfect, and continuing to put in your hard work in spite of that. Accept that it’s hard work, and learn to love it. Or at least be zen about it.What’s the easiest thing about writing?Letting the story tell itself. Once I’ve hit on the right story, the right place, the right characters… it unfolds. And if you get out of its way, when it’s over, you can tweakit to make it better. But you have to get out of the way first.

What are you currently reading?
What is ‘reading’? I don’t read when I’m writing, and since I’ve just come out of writing and editing “Sound and Wonder,” I’m still recovering my sea-legs for reading other people’s work. Although I’ll tell you I just finished “Dawn’s Early Light” by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, the third Ministry book, and it was SUCH a doozie!!! Steampunk action-adventure with alternate history easter eggs and tongue-in-cheek witty quips along the way… so delicious. Do you prefer reading eBook or paperback?I prefer paperback, but I’m not anti-eBook.

What advice do you have for fellow writers?
Read read read read! Read out of your comfort zone and read deep into the history of your genre or subject matter. If you don’t do maximum research and don’t know enough about your subjects, someone will know! It’s like acting – if you don’t know what that one line in your Shakespearean monologue means, theaudience can tell you’re faking because they won’t know either. Make it clear with intent and research/preparation. If it’s steampunk, don’t just throw on a waistcoat and a tesla-coil gun, find your own path and figure out what your definition of steampunk is. Also, get diverse with your casting and locations. Victorian England or the wild American west make up the majority of steampunk fictional settings… but that doesn’t make them the best choice 100% of the time.

Wisdom is not free; pain is the toll.

‘Wisdom is not free; pain is the toll.’

That moment, when you hear something like this, you nod your head in understanding, admitting the knowledge behind the quip. It’s not until you undertake a truly painful experience, a series of events which seems as though it’s trying to sweep your legs out from under you, drag you down into the abyss and destroy every semblance of whatever it was you thought you could be, or whatever you believed you had going for yourself, that you truly, truly understand exactly what that phrase means; you understand where that person was, what they were thinking as they ascended from the fog, eyes and heart open and willing, that you really find meaning in such simple words. I am no exception to this, despite my inflated ego and sense of self worth. As I descended into the miasma that is depression, only to ascend into a less viscous form of the miasma that is loss and grief and regret, I thought I was done. I thoughtthere was no rebuilding who I once was, that there was no going back to what was once so great. It was within this horrendous existence that I had an epiphany, a moment of clarity from deep down, submerged in my own regret and sorrow: There’s always more.

As though a ray of sun from the light of the morning pierced the clouds and shined upon me, I found not only the strength, but the courage and mental fortitude to just…let it go. Here I stand, looking about incredulously, thinking to myself ‘but wait, I thought there was more than this…’, wondering when the kicker is going to enact its merciless onslaught of devastating emotional trauma, when I’m going to wake up on day screaming, tears streaming down my face as the sorrow overtakes me.

Yet that day has not come, and I honestly feel as though that day will not come. The pain has subsided, the desperate grasping for what once was, the clutching at the air trying to grab on to any semblance of a life previously lived, and I am left with not only a sense of clarity, but a sense of elation, akin to the feeling of a spontaneous action.

It’s at this moment I know, that the rest of my life has begun, and that there is oh so much more to be had, this revelation almost shaming in the fact that I could actually once believe that there was truly nothing left. It’s this moment that will usher in the new life, and in this moment I will live for all that I want; I will live selfishly but not greedily; I will live reserved but not cutoff; I will live freely but not dangerously.

It is at this moment that I am free to do anything, yet I have not lost everything.

Wisdom comes at a price, but if you cannot move past the pain paid in penance, to persevere through the perpetual pain, you cannot live as you wish; you cannot love as you wish, and you can never, ever truly be free.

Written by Alex Blunck

Welcome Home

As though he had known nothing else before this, a barren landscape is all that is visible before him: nothingness spanned out in an infinite scale both in front and behind him, leaving him stranded in a wasteland, with nothing but the void keeping him separated from the despair that was the outside. Soft tones of beige and black adorned the visible skyline, a black ground meeting a full brown sunset. The void surrounded him; no feelings reached this void, soft thuds reverberating upon a dampening blockade, effectively closing him off from whatever outside existed beyond this landscape–there were no trees, no grass or anything resembling nature within this lackluster landscape, only a flat and barren expanse in which his solitude stood out, just shy of a monument, with its existence being the only noticeable thing within an expanse of nothing; a dull pulsing sound violently crashing against the wall which had been constructed around him, protecting him from any and every thing approaching from the outside, brought his eyes upwards from the ground, gazing questioningly at the barrier before him. His dull eyes, eyelids half closed as if he were to fall asleep at any moment, gazed longingly amongst the desolation, with no signs of recognition or regret, peering past the void with a feeling of want, that unfulfilled desire nagging at him like the bite of a mosquito, unnoticed until the slightest contact brought forth a small notion of irritation. His right hand brushed lightly against the wall set before him, a translucent divider between him and the outside world. As his hand touched the wall, a rainbow pattern moved with his fingers, tracing the patterns with which he touched the wall. At that moment, he felt the first thing he had felt in so long, as long as his perception had made him believe to have lived. His fingers ran along the wall, creating vague pictures; lost lovers, opportunities long removed; as his fingers moved along, there was one strong emotion which rang true within him: regret. In streams, tears rolled down from his eyes as he continued to stroke the wall, as though this motion would eventually bring down the barrier, this one insignificant movement. He closed his eyes, cutting off the tears. A faint shattering sound sounded in his ears, his eyes opening to a scene which he would never forget: as the barrier broke, armies of color rode in force to meet him, the previously grey and dull existence now emanating with a flurry of light, sound and feeling, though he had been born again with new eyes. “I can feel again…” The words sounded hollow, as though someone else had uttered them. “I can feel.” This time it sounded closer to home, a weak smile breaking the previously grim expression he had kept for what seemed like an eternity. As he stared out, eyes scanning among the alien landscape, technicolor foliage and neon hills, colors unnatural spread as far as the eye could see, he felt a sense of belonging, and with that, he felt the need to explore. Both hands rushed up to wipe his face, an exasperated breath releasing all of the restraint and detachment which had kept him prisoner for so long.

For the first time, he could see, and for as far as he could imagine, there was nothing but choice and chance, a life worth living.

Written By Alex Blunck