COLLEEN’S 2019 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “Red Eyes in the Darkness, A Short Story” BY AUTHOR, D. L. Finn, @dlfinnauthor

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Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book:

What happens when you’re living the good life after retirement and your world suddenly turns upside down? Will and Cass Henderson learn the truth after a family member is murdered, but no one believes them because they’re the prime suspects. The Hendersons have a red-eyed killer in the family, and they’re next on its kill list.


Longer short stories seem to be all the rage now on Amazon. However, the shortness of the story did not detract from the storytelling.

This is my first D. L. Finn story, and I know it won’t be my last. There’s enough suspense and supernatural activity in this book to keep a reader glued to the edge of their seat all the way through to the end.

The story opens with Cass and Will fighting off an intruder in their home. That night, they learn the truth about who murdered Cass’ sister.

Initially accused of her murder, the two were eventually released from custody. But that doesn’t repair the destroyed relationships with family and friends. They struggle to come to grips with the smear campaign propagated against them.

The couple takes their newfound information to the police. The murderer is well known, and the sheriff scoffs at the truth, refusing to believe the couple.

Just when it seems all hope has expired and their own death’s imminent, a white feather magically appears to land in Cass’ lap. Has an angel come to their rescue?

“Red Eyes in the Darkness,” is a fast-paced quick read that gives the reader a glimpse of the delicate balance between the good and evil between this world and the next. The book is also priced right at only $.99!


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*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author:

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA.

She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed.

Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

Amazon Author Page: D. L. Finn

How to Connect with the Author:

Blog: Author, D. L. Finn

Twitter: @dlfinnauthor

Facebook: d.l.finn.writer


 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also!  Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments if you follow me so I can follow you!

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Are you looking for more great reads? Join authors D.G. KayeSally Cronin, and Colleen Chesebro in our writer’s group on FacebookThe Literary Diva’s Library to find book reviews, book promotions, & special deals on books from all the independent authors you love.

Conversations with Colleen: Special Edition Countdown to Halloween – Meet Author, Jaye Marie, @jdawes2

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Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you mystery writer, Jaye Marie. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE, which she did. The best way to learn more about writing is to learn from other successful authors.

I’m excited to be part of Jaye’s book promotion on her newest release, “Silent Payback.” This book releases on October 22, 2019.

Please meet my guest author, Jaye Marie.

Jaye Marie is affectionately known as the giant redwood, probably because she is very tall, but also because of her love for trees. Most afternoons she can be found repotting or taking care of her bonsai collection, but her love of detective mysteries soon brings her back indoors. She has written three fiction novels in this genre, Nine Lives, Out of Time and Crossfire and is looking forward to publishing Silent Payback, her fourth book.

She spends any free time learning everything she can about self-publishing, and despite all the obstacles, she never gives up on anything and is as stubborn as a mule. She also shares a website with Anita Dawes…

Amazon Author Page U.S.

Hi Jaye! I’m really glad you stopped by to tell us about your new book. So, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Hi, everybody! I love books and have read my way through stacks of them, so when Anita needed someone to edit and type up her manuscripts, I was happy to help and discovered my vocation and my love-hate relationship with the world of computers. However, I learned how to edit and proofread, taking over the job of getting Anita’s books ready for publication.  I had wonderful compliments from one of the best literary agents in London for my editing of Bad Moon and for the last twenty years since my retirement, that is what my life has been like.

Somewhere along the way, I started thinking about a story that had been nibbling away in the corner of my mind for months and before too long, it demanded to be written and I am very pleased with the outcome.

What a great start to a writing career. Would you share how much structure is in your story before you start writing it?

I wrote my first book Nine Lives on NaNoWriMo, and all I started with was the characters and a rough idea of what I thought would happen. Then my characters took over and practically wrote the story for me. When I thought about the sequel everything changed. Continuity was essential, I discovered, so I made a storyboard to keep track of what was evolving.

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

I write best first thing in the morning, something that still surprises me, for I have never been at my best at that time of day. Always considered myself a night owl, but apparently my muse is not!

The muse has a hold on us, for sure. How do you develop your characters?

I like to identify my characters with real people. For instance, in the sequel to Nine Lives the detective inspector, David Snow, is a dead ringer for Tom Selleck in his role as Jessie Stone. This way I know exactly how my character will behave in every circumstance and this imparts more realism. I have heard that some authors have photographs of their role models, but I’ve not gone that far yet.

Having a photo of your character is a brilliant idea. Now, who or what helped you the most in getting started on your writing career?

When everyone started talking about ‘Indie’ or self-publishing it was as if a light went on in my brain. I knew how hard it was to be published in the traditional way, so I became very excited at the prospect of being able to do it ourselves.

About Jaye | Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie, Authors (

I started our website and found that I enjoyed talking to people from all over the world and posting our thoughts online. Then, I concentrated on publishing Anita’s books. It wasn’t quite as easy as they made it sound, but with my usual stubbornness, I kept at it, learning more and more as I went along.

I started thinking about a story that had been nibbling away in the corner of my mind for months and before too long, it demanded to be written and I am very pleased with the outcome.

How fascinating! What led you to choose the genre you write in or did it choose you?

Before I started to write, I always imagined I would write supernatural scary stories, as this was what I enjoyed reading most. Thanks to Stephen King and James Herbert! But the idea of a woman cheating death so many times took hold and I had to see what would happen. Before I knew what was happening, she had a murderous ex-husband and the bodies began to pile up! I suspect I may change genres as I go along, as my interests are so varied.

Jaye, besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

I have so many hobbies, it might be easier to say what I don’t like doing! From Bonsai and gardening, knitting and crochet, to painting and craftwork. But my one huge obsession is for puzzles. Solitaire, Sudoku, jigsaws and PC games and dozens more. I honestly believe my puzzles keep my brain from fossilising and are solely responsible for my insanity.

Your hobbies all sound fun to me. What do you do about the cover art for your books?

I don’t have much spare money, I’m the original church mouse, so I have tried to make our own. Apart from the financial situation, creating suitable covers appealed to my creative streak. Learning the best way to do it was the difficult part, as I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to technology.

I discovered you can make quite good covers on Microsoft’s Word, but I fell in love with a company called Picmonkey. Every bit as good as Photoshop, but easier to use and most of it is free.

Author, Jaye Marie and the cover art of her new release, “Silent Payback”

I like the idea of making your own book covers. How did you start your blog?

The first thing you learn when you decide to write a book is that you must have an interesting and popular website or blog. How hard can it be, I thought? Everyone is doing it, so it must be relatively easy.

And once you know what you’re doing, it is easy – ish.

It’s also incredibly easy to get it wrong, so I spent a lot of time checking out other blogs to see what worked for them.

Oh, yes… the trials of the blogging world. I don’t know how you have time, but what is the working title of your next book?

This question is not so easy to answer, as I don’t have a clue for my next book.  Something is growing in the back of my mind though!

Okay. Please share where you got the idea for your latest book?

I wanted to write another detective novel and already had a brand-new character in mind for the lead role. But there was where it all went crazy. This detective, David Mallory had arrived with a shed load of problems, some I would not normally have considered. The idea began to take root, and the rest they say, is HIStory!

A city on edge – a detective on shaky ground…
A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton, hunting for his next victim.
When the case lands on detective David Mallory’s desk, will his personal demon prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice?
As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of his heavy secret – one that could jeopardise his job and his reputation.
With the pressure building, can the troubled detective reconcile his issues and solve the case, before more women die?

What is the single most important quality in a novel? What must an author do to win you over?

A book must inspire me, especially now that I write. Good authors can do this, and not only the way I write, but also the way I live my life…

Thanks for the visit, Jaye. Best wishes on your new book release.

How to Contact Jaye Marie






Amazon Author Page




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…For Stopping By

Colleen’s 2019 #Book #Reviews – “Broken Heart Attack,” by Author, James J. Cudney, @jamescudney4

Featuring your next weekend read!

About “Broken Heart Attack”

When an extra ticket becomes available to see the dress rehearsal of King Lear, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies. But when one of them dies of an apparent heart attack in the middle of the second act, Nana D asks Kellan to investigate. 

With family members in debt and secret meetings, Kellan learns that the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks. But can Kellan find the killer of Gwendolyn Paddington, or will he get caught up in his own stage fright?

My Recommendation

After the first book in this series, Academic Curveball, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the second book. I guessed that Nana D would feature in this story along with the protagonist, Kellan Ayrwick, but what new adventures would Jay Cudney cook up this time?

“Broken Heart Attack,” introduces a new mystery for Kellan to solve in the form of a heart attack which kills one of Nana D’s friends during Braxton Hall’s dress rehearsal of King Lear. At Nana D’s insistence, the dutiful grandson digs for clues and asks the kinds of questions that set the occupants of the town on edge.

At the same time that Nana D announces that she’s running for mayor, the outspoken granny decides that she has other plans for Kellan. With hilarious results, she pokes her nose into his love life. Thankfully, Kellan is successful in foiling Nana D’s matchmaking attempts with her friend, Gwen. But that’s not the end of that story!

Kellan’s days are filled with chaos! Between teaching, investigating a murder, avoiding confrontation with his boss, and raising his adorable daughter, Emma, the self-appointed sleuth barely has a moment to himself. However, the story really heats up when Kellan learns that his late wife’s family is involved with the mob!

Through the intertwining plot, the reader learns the strengths and weaknesses of Kellen Ayrwick. Does he have the determination to solve this murder along with his own family turmoil?

Cudney weaves a satisfying tale filled with murder, mayhem, and plenty of suspense to keep the reader guessing until the surprise ending.

And did I mention there was humor? Granny D is so realistic in her attitude and dialogue. I guarantee you will laugh at her crazy antics.

The book ends with many unanswered questions about Kellan’s family issues, which only makes me want to find out more. I can’t wait to read the third novel in the series, “Flower Power Trip: Death at The Masquerade Ball.”

I received an advance-reader copy of the book for this review and read the book in June. I’m still playing catch-up after my move this summer. Sorry it took me so long to share!

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment, and media industries.

Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website:

How to Connect with the Author


Facebook: Thisismytruthnow

Twitter: @jamescudney4

Now, where will Jay Cudney take us next in his Braxton Campus Mysteries?

If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also! ❤ Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments if you follow me so I can follow you!

Are you looking for more great reads? Join authors, D.G. Kaye, Sally Cronin, and Colleen Chesebro in our writer’s group on Facebook: The Literary Diva’s Library to find book reviews, book promotions, & special deals on books from all the independent authors you love.

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Colleen’s 2019 #Book #Reviews – “A Parting in the Sky” The Forgotten Child Trilogy, Book 3” by Author, Mark W. Sasse, @sassevn


In part three of The Forgotten Child Trilogy, Bee takes her biggest gamble yet with Francis Frick, whisking him to the beginning of it all on the forlorn battlefield of waning World War I. When her plan puts Frick in grave danger, she decides to do whatever is necessary to bring Ash back to earth. 

In the explosive conclusion to The Forgotten Child Trilogy, loyalties are tested and secrets are revealed. From Scotland to Africa to Manhattan to the edge of the earth, the enigmatic beings from beyond have a decision to make. Will they continue to influence the world in surprising ways, or will they be released through the parting in the sky. 

Title: A Parting in the Sky, The Forgotten Child Trilogy, Book 3

Amazon Author Page: Mark W. Sasse

Publication Date: March 20, 2019, **This book releases today**

Formats: Paperback & Kindle

Genres: Magical Realism, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense



The final book in The Forgotten Child series, “A Parting in the Sky,” wraps up this saga with everything I had hoped for and even more. This unusual series blends magical realism into a high octane adventure. I guarantee you’ve never read a similar series. I know I haven’t!

The characters from the first two books, including Bee and Ash have returned. I think I’ve finally identified Bee as a mischevious child-like angelic soul. Because of her past interference and her use of Francis Frick to find the forgotten children, Bee is banished from her position as a watcher by Zette.

Zette’s character intrigued me. She comes across as a senior angelic soul who in the past saved Ash at great cost to herself. She has great power and Ash isn’t afraid to do battle with her to fix past wrongs.

Ash receives a promotion and he takes over Bee’s position. In the past, he always saved Bee from her mistakes. Now, Ash is determined to complete the mission Bee couldn’t complete in finding the last forgotten child.

There’s plenty of action and suspense as Francis and Hatty attempt to save the people most important to them. Secrets are revealed and everything comes together in the final scenes. What an inspiring read. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions with the final revelations. Make sure you have tissues ready!

I’ve been a fan of Mark Sasse’s fiction for a few years now. The Forgotten Child Trilogy has captured my imagination and my heart. Just make sure to read this series in order so that you understand who the characters are and how they are all connected. Here’s my review of book one, “A Man Too Old, for a Place Too Far.” Here’s my review of book two, “The African Connection.” I received a copy of this book from the author and chose to read and review.


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 
Reader Engagement: 
Reader Enrichment: 
Reader Enjoyment: 
Overall Rate: 
5 out of 5 Fairies

5 fairies

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

Mark W Sasse is a novelist and award-winning playwright and director. He vacillates on a daily basis between which genre of writing he enjoys the most. Luckily, he doesn’t have to choose! Sasse’s novels have been featured on curated sites such as Bookbub and Noisetrade, and his plays have been produced in New York, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, Australia. His play “The Last Bastion” earned him the 2018 Greywood Arts Winter Writing Residency in Ireland. He is also a three-time winner of the Best Script Award at the Penang Short & Sweet Theatre Festival. His plays have won multiple other awards such as Best Overall Performance and Audience Choice Award. He won the Festival Director’s Award at the 2016 festival.

Sasse’s interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – from culture and language – from history and religion, making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy a page-turning good story injected with doses of history, adventure, Asian culture, and unexpected humor.

After being an adamant standalone novel advocate, he’s changed his tune and is working on the epic Forgotten Child Trilogy. Book one, A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR, released in December 2017, and the following two books will continue the story in 2018 and 2019. He finally found the story that required more than one book, and he’s thrilled with it. It a crazy mix of magical realism, history, and time travel, wrapped alongside the requisite human stories.

As for his plays, he’s fond of both the short play (10 minutes or less) and full-length formats. From 2011-2017 he wrote for and directed the drama ensemble The RLT Players, a passionate group of dramatic storytellers who specialize in the short play format. In September 2016, his experimental theatre piece “How to Build a Dictator” was featured as part of Penangpac’s Black Box Experiments series. His goal is to have it go into full production somewhere in the world. Any takers?
He currently teaches drama in Saudi Arabia.


Sasse remembers writing his first play when he was about thirteen. It was about Queen Esther and the only person he ever showed that play to was his mother. In college, he wrote lots of poetry, even love poetry for a certain girl. But once he graduated, his writing confidence was shattered, so he gave it up for the next twenty years. He doesn’t recommend doing that! He went to China to teach English in 1992 and eventually moved to Vietnam to do the same in 1994, shortly after the U.S. lifted the embargo against their former enemy. He lived in the exotic Vietnamese culture with his family for nearly ten years.

After many life-changing experiences, Sasse’s new-found taste for history sent him back to school to pick-up a second Master’s degree, this one in Humanities. This led to a shift from teaching English to history as he moved to Malaysia in 2006. Little did he know, however, that all of this was building up to another major shift which would get him back to writing.

On a whim in 2007, he embarked on a collaborative project with a group of students to write and produce a play, resulting in the original stage play “Monkey Love Potion.” It was such a fun and rewarding experience that he decided to try it again the following year. Before he knew it, he was hooked, and that was the beginning of his love affair with live theatre. After writing and successfully producing four original full-length scripts, he finally got the nerve to try his hand once again at a hidden desire which had defeated him many times over the years – novel writing.

In the summer of 2011, he embarked on the journey of writing his first novel. His greatest worry was reaching the magical 50,000-word mark, so he could officially call himself a novelist. When the story, “Beauty Rising,” clocked in at over 60,000 words, he was shocked and happy. But not content. He didn’t know what to do with the novel, and he convinced himself that it would sit idle until he wrote a second novel. He hated hearing the words “one-hit wonder” echo in his head. So in the summer of 2012, he wrote “The Recluse Storyteller.”

Feeling a little more confident, he decided to focus on exposing his work to the public in order to receive some feedback. In December 2012, he independently published “Beauty Rising.” When the first review from an online book reviewer was posted, and it was over-the-top positive, he was flying high, and if he never wrote another word in his life, he would have been content. But that contentment was not to be. He was now hopelessly hooked on both playwriting and novel writing, and he hasn’t looked back since.

He has published five novels with six already finished and ready for publication in 2017. Number seven will be his first sequel and will be available sometime in 2018. He is grateful to all the readers who have joined him on this journey of creativity.


Sasse loves to cook everything from pizza to Thai. He’s coached softball or baseball for the past ten years, and he’s been a much too loyal fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates since he was nine years old—another item he’s hopelessly hooked on. He enjoys traveling, visiting historical sites, and sitting by the beach or other scenic spot with a laptop, an idea, and a lot of time. He has a lovely wife and three wonderful children and one really cool son-in-law – he’s Korean, keeping with the Asian theme of his life. He has an active blog ( where he frequently writes about history, writing, culture, and life. He loves to hear from readers, so he hopes you’ll stop by his site and say “hello.”

The Complete List of Published Works by Mark W Sasse
The African Connection (The Forgotten Child Book 2) (2018)
A Man too Old for a Place too Far (The Forgotten Child Book 1) (2017)
Which Half David: A Modern-day King David Story (2016)
A Love Story for a Nation (2015)
The Reach of the Banyan Tree (2014)
The Recluse Storyteller (2013)
Beauty Rising (2012)

The Folly of Progress (2017)
The Last Bastion (2017)
How to Build a Dictator (2016)
The Secrets of the Magic Pool (2016)
Grandparents’ War (2013)
Romans on the Couch (2011)

The Hundred Pitch At-Bat (2017)
Christmas in the Trenches, 1914 (2016)
If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story (2014)

How to Connect with the Author

Facebook: Author Mark W. Sasse 

Blog:  MW

Twitter: @sassevn


 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also! ❤ Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments.

Are you looking for more great reads? Join author, D.G. Kaye, Sally Cronin, and myself in our Facebook group, The Literary Diva’s Library to find book reviews, book promotions, & special deals on books from authors you love.

ASBRC may2018

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Colleen’s 2019 #Book #Reviews – “The Silence of the Stones,” by Author, Rebecca Bryn, @RebeccaBryn1


Alana determines to escape her past and opportunity beckons when she’s left a run-down cottage in a West Wales’ village by an aunt she didn’t know existed, but her past is catching up on her, and someone is out to get her. Strange runes painted on her door and carved onto ancient stones in a stone circle, hint at a dark undercurrent of tragedy and intrigue, and she is caught up in the village’s conspiracy of silence over a thirty-year-old crime.

An eccentric old woman who casts runes, an ambitious young female investigative journalist, a two-year-old girl, a good-looking male busker, and an ex-lover make unlikely bedfellows but combine to send Alana on a voyage of self-discovery that blows her world apart. Can she discover the truth hidden in the stones in time to save those she loves?

Set in the fabulous Welsh countryside, the story takes you on a journey of injustice, revenge, lies and madness, rune-casting, murder, arson, splashing paint about, and general mayhem.

Title: The Silence of the Stones

Amazon Author Page: Rebecca Bryn

Publication Date: July 29, 2014

Formats: Paperback & Kindle

Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense



“The Silence of the Stones” is a gripping tale full of mysteries, lies, and revenge. Imagine how it would feel to discover that you have a long lost aunt you knew nothing about. Even worse, a private investigator tracks you down after she passes away, and you learn that she has left you her cottage and all the rest of her worldly goods.

That’s what happens to Alana, a twenty-something artist whose hidden family secrets unravel before her eyes. Her parents are unhappy, and Alana is forced to come to grips with her past, even though she fights it every step of the way. Just remember, nothing is as it seems. If you think you have it figured out, read on because the truth will surprise you.

Her aunt’s cottage in Wales seems as good a place as any to start over. Once there, Alana feels a connection to the aunt she never knew. Many years ago, Alana’s cousin disappeared along with another child from the village. Their disappearance is still unsolved. But here in her aunt’s home, the answers begin to take shape.

Alana finds a series of unusual Runes carved into the rocks up on the hillside. If only they could whisper their secrets to her. When similar strange markings show up on the doors of the villager’s homes, the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place. Add in the deaths of a few of the neighbors, and the story explodes with tension and suspense.

This novel drew me in from the first page until the very last. I literally could not put this book down. The characters were engaging and believable, and so were the different mysteries that swirled around Alana. There are plenty of twists and turns, and I couldn’t foresee any of them. That’s what I call excellent writing.

I also loved the paranormal elements and symbolism in this story. The Runes are an ancient alphabet used by Germanic countries in antiquity which is still used in divination today. The novel was liberally sprinkled with their wisdom which became the catalyst to move the story forward. Brilliant!

Rebecca Bryn is a new author for me. I will definitely read more of her novels. Now, if I can only figure out how to raise funds to visit Wales!


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 
Reader Engagement: 
Reader Enrichment: 
Reader Enjoyment: 
Overall Rate: 
5 out of 5 Fairies

5 fairies

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author Rebecca Bryn

Rebecca lives near Britain’s smallest city, St Davids, in the far west of Wales with her rescue dog, rescue husband, and twenty very sheepish sheep. Surrounded by stunning coastal and moorland scenery, she also loves to paint.

She inherited her love of stories from her grandfather, who told stories with his hands: stories with colourful characters and unexpected endings. Her fascination with what makes people who they are, and the belief that life is many shades of grey, informs her writing. A Native American Indian proverb reads, ‘Don’t judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.’ Rebecca has based her life on this tenet: it is certainly core to her writing. ‘We may not condone what a person does, but sometimes we can understand and maybe come to forgive.’

All her books have been awarded Readers’ Favorite 5-star reviews and previews of her books can be read at

The Silence of the Stones, set in mystical West Wales, is woven around injustice, perjury and revenge and delves into the damaged psyche. It was inspired by the release from prison of Angela Canning and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

Touching the Wire, a story of the women of the holocaust, was awarded ‘Best Historical Thriller of 2015′ by Christoph Fischer, a respected histfic author, and was also awarded a Readers’ Favourite 5-star review.

Where Hope Dares, is a chilling story of the fight of good over evil, courage and unbreakable love, and is set in a future our present is unerringly shaping. It was voted into the ‘Read Freely Top 50 Indie Books of 2015′ and also gained a Readers’ Favourite 5-star review. 

On Different Shores, Part One of ‘For Their Country’s Good’ is set in the 1840s and is inspired by the true story of the ‘black sheep’ of her family and the lives of convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land. 
Part Two, Beneath Strange Stars
Part Three, On Common Ground

The Dandelion Clock, enters the world of a young man and his horse sent to fight in Egypt and Palestine in the Great War and the girl waiting at home, unsure whether the man she loves is alive or dead. Again, it is inspired by family history and chronicles the war from the viewpoint of the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars and the Queen’s Own Worcester Yeomanry, brigades with which her grandfather fought, and the lives of those waiting at home in England. ‘Totally compelling and unmissable’ was one reviewers opinion. 

Interviews with Rebecca, giving an insight into her life and work can be seen at
and and yet another at

Do read some of Rebecca’s reviews on thee book purchase pages and read the samples in the ‘look inside’. ‘I’ve been blown away and humbled by the comments my reviewers have made, so thank you all for your fabulous words: they mean so much.’ – Rebecca Bryn

How to Connect with the Author


Twitter: @RebeccaBryn1

Mysteries are my speciality!

 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also! ❤ Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments.

Are you looking for more great reads? Join author, D.G. Kaye, Sally Cronin, and Colleen Chesebro in our MeWe group, The Literary Diva’s Hangout to find book reviews, book promotions, & special deals on books from authors you love. Are you looking for an alternative to Facebook? Join us on You’ll be glad you did.

Colleen’s 2019 #Book #Reviews – “Bottling It, A Wayfair Witches Cozy Mystery #1,” by Author, A. A. Albright


Wanda Wayfair is a bit of a late starter.

At almost twenty-one she still hasn’t received her magical powers, and she’s running out of time. But that doesn’t bother Wanda. Much. Not when she can spend all of her time in the human world and pretend that her coven doesn’t exist. But when Wanda takes a job at Berrys’ Bottlers, working with the handsome Will Berry and his unpleasant Aunt Alice, she soon realises that she’s a lot closer to the magical world than she thought.

All over Dublin, humans are murdering witches. When asked why, all they’ll say is, ‘I dunno why I done it.’ But Wanda thinks she does know why they’ve done it – and hopefully she’ll receive her power in time to help her coven discover the truth.

Title: Bottling It, A Wayfair Witches Cozy Mystery, Book 1

Amazon Author Page: A. A. Albright

Publication Date: October 9, 2017

Formats: Paperback & Kindle

Genres: Cozy Mystery, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Werewolves, Shifters, Vampires, Crafts & Hobbies



Meet Wanda Wayfair, a young woman whose heritage stems from a long line of witches. There’s only one problem. It appears, she didn’t inherit the witch gene. Wanda is what you would call an unempowered witch. At this point in her life, she’s given up all hope of ever possessing any witchy abilities. Even Accounting sounds like a decent option.

The story begins as Wanda arrives home in Dublin. Across the street from her house, Wanda notices a body being wheeled into an ambulance. She witnesses a twenty-something-year-old girl shoved into a police car, screaming, “I dunno why I done it!” over and over again. Now her curiosity is peeked… I mean, wouldn’t you wonder what was going on? I sure did!

For whatever reason, witches are being murdered in Dublin. As the mysterious events unfold Wanda’s powers surge into action. She’s had training in the magikal arts but never used magic herself, which forces her back into her family coven where her family gives her a helping hand.

As the novel unfolds, Wanda is forced to live within the world of magic. Everything’s not as it seems and she learns how to maneuver the class system of the magical world. Be prepared for vampires, talking rats, and weredogs!

I love cozy mysteries and when they have the paranormal mixed in they are great fun to read. On top of that, this book contains humorous characters you can’t help but love. The world building created the groundwork for the story. The mystery is simplistic but for me that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I will definitely read more from this author. This was an enjoyable read, and at $.99 for a Kindle copy you can’t go wrong.


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 
Reader Engagement: 
Reader Enrichment: 
Reader Enjoyment: 
Overall Rate: 
5 out of 5 Fairies

5 fairies

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

A.A. Albright lives in the Irish countryside with her husband.

She loves reading in every genre, but writing the Wayfair Witches’ and Riddler’s Edge Cozy Mysteries is just about the most fun she’s had in a decade.

To keep up to date with the latest news from A.A. and to be the first to hear about new releases, you can join her mailing list:

From the Author:

Books in the Wayfair Witches Series: Book One: Bottling It, Book Two: Bricking It, Book Three: A Trick for a Treat, Book Four: Winging It, Book Five: Wrapping Up, Book Six: Loved Up, Book Seven: Rocking Out, Book Eight: Acting Up, Book Nine: Swotting Up, Book Ten: Forget Me Knot

Wayfair Witches Side Stories: Legally Red Books in the Riddler’s Edge Series: Book One: A Little Bit Witchy, Book Two: Witchy See, Witchy Do, Book Three: Lucky Witches, Book Four: Shiver Me Witches, Book Five: So Very Unfae

How to Connect with the Author



 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also! ❤ Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments.

Are you looking for more great reads? Join author, D.G. Kaye, Sally Cronin, and Colleen Chesebro in our MeWe Group: The Literary Diva’s Hangout to find articles about writing, poetry, book reviews, book promotions, & special deals on books from the authors you love.

~Sally, Debby, and Colleen~

Colleen’s 2019 #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge Recap No. 119, “Mystery & Attract” #SynonymsOnly

Welcome to the Tanka Tuesday Poetry Recap featuring the work of poets from around the globe. If you would like to participate in this challenge, you can learn the rules in the menu item called Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday Guidelines.

PLEASE NOTE: Don’t forget to count your syllables. Use this site: Click on the workshop tab. Then, copy and paste your poem into the box, and click “count syllables” at the bottom.

The best news I have to share is that the submission form titles are now changed! Below you will find the new titles in future challenges: (Many thanks to Charli Mills of Carrot for her help! ❤ )

However, I’ve heard from some of you saying that you can’t submit to the form on the challenge post. Please let me know if you have issues so that I can get WordPress to look at the issue. I am using the new editor and will use Google Chrome as my browser from now on. I’ve used Safari in the past as I am on a MAC. That might be the problem. I also changed my theme to a newer theme. I’ve noticed that some of the Premium themes (which I pay for) seem to have problems. Fingers crossed. Anyway, check out the new form below! 😀 (Please don’t submit anything to this form).

Each week, I like to highlight a poet who I call the Poet of the Week, who has shared an exceptional message, or shown an impassioned creativity through words or form. Poetry is all about perception, so don’t be shocked if you don’t feel the same way about a poem that I do.

The Poet of the Week will be published in the 2019 Poet of the Week Anthology, which everyone will be able to grab as a PDF in January 2020.

My dear poetic friends. You’re really making it so hard to choose a single poem to spotlight. All your hard work is paying off. The quality of your poetry is a thrill to showcase.

This week, I’ve chosen Olga Daciuk, and her Butterfly Cinquain, called, “Interior Reflections.”

The Butterfly Cinquain is one of my favorite syllabic forms. The Butterfly Cinquain is a nine-line syllabic form with the pattern two, four, six, eight, two, eight, six, four, two. Olga’s words roll right off your tongue.

I especially like the poem centered, as it resembles the wings of a butterfly. You must visit her blog, because Olga has shared the perfect photo to accompany her words. ❤

"Interior Reflections"

Melting magic
Captive of nature’s chill
Illuminates dark surroundings 
Light flows
Transforming once mundane patterns
Into new perspective
Circling in time

©2019 Olga Daciuk
Poet of the Week: Olga Daciuk: Jan 15-20, 2019


Cold spring songs: #cinquain
Cold mist 
rises, dawn-grey; 
the unknown draws me through 
dripping, red-hawed hedges full of 

Jane Doughtery
Mystery & Attract, #Etheree
Held a charm
Untold secrets
To tempt you inside
The house waiting, silent
Read the writing on the wall
Money buried beneath the ground
Not for you to find, others will come
Touch not that which does not belong to you...

Anita Dawes
Magnetism - #Haibun
An old woman eats her grapefruit and toast quietly while her
husband reads the newspaper. The man barely skims the
words, but his actions are habit now. They know each other,
all the good and bad, and their lives conform to
bring the other happiness, ease. To shape each other, both
poles of their sexuality and senses and skill, they’d aligned
their wills long ago.

When dipoles align
Electrons court protons
No longer stranger.

The old man smiles over his newspaper, and the woman
raises the corners of her lips to match.

H.R.R. Gorman
Femme Fatal #Tanka
Alone in her room
she dons mascara and rouge
hoping to allure.
What secrets may be hidden
underneath the painted smile.

Bobby Fairfield
"Lead Us" - #Double Etheree
You were
A small child
What were your dreams
Were you encouraged
To seek them at all costs
To believe in their power
And to rejoice in the magic
Of possibilities tremendous
And so you opened your heart to receive
Good for you and good for the world at large
For it is your example that proves
We can have our heart’s desires
By nurturing tiny seeds
Placing our faith in love
All because of you
Who had some dreams
When you were
A small
©2019 Annette Rochelle Aben
Between Tides And Hurricanes, #Etheree
I clung
inside you.
Pendent between
each aching inhale.
Cautious you might breath out
and send me spinning upwards.
A helicopter seed whirling
away as if I'd never been there,
the hollow I'd leave unnoticed by you. 
These were never wing, they were always sails.
Filled up with questions I asked myself,
to keep my feet from touching down
on lands unfamiliar,
filled with strangers like me
always pulling at
something unseen,
they knew

Carol J Forrester
Woman on a Bench #Etheree
on a bench
her back to me
holds hidden secret;
energy pulls at me
toward alive familiar;
spellbound, my awareness arise
sitting alongside, I glance her way
there looking back is my intimate self

©Hélène Vaillant
"Joke," #Etheree
joke’s on you
at the expense
of me, laughably
simple, yet blind to see
tears hot and riddled by truth
crashing through this spiteful lampoon
inner voice rails with the unanswered
stricken to rise from your luring banter

Ethan Dale Eagar
"Future’s Bounty," #Shadorma
new moon
another season
the prelude
to unseen
minutes; enticing to dream
of future’s bounty

 Donna Matthews
"Grandmother," # Shadorma
The old one
Dressed in crispest beige
She Whispers
Strange, cozy
Tales of my childhood home
Living in that joy

"Mystery & Attract" #Etheree
Black cat
Witches close
Always gathers up
The unknown, the hidden
With an air enigma
They entice, allure and beguile
They are a conundrum a puzzle
Bewitching all who look into their eyes.

WillowDot 21
"You," #Tanka
So captivating
Beguiled by your enigma
A thrilling secret
Life is made so much better
By your magical allure

Trent McDonald
"Naked" #Habiun #Haiku
Nature’s enchantment
Perpetual enigma
Echoing our own

Kites hunt overhead. Iron clouds race over distant hills… a
heavy, roiling mass shrouds the dawn. The merest hint of
brightness signals the rising of the sunand wind tortured
branches writhe black against the gloom. We drive on, away
from our vantage point high above the vale, down to where
the world wakes to the half-light of a winter morning.

Snowdrops bloom on village greens, daphne and viburnum
blush, pink as our absent dawn, in the shelter of thatched
cottages. Churchyards wear drifts of snowdrops and shadowy
copses are carpeted with stars. The windflower blooms,
heralding spring before the first snow of winter.

I wonder at the contrast between the stark heights and the
cosy valley. Have we really tamed Nature and kept winter
at bay with our walls and warmth? Or is it just an illusion to
comfort hibernating minds…

Enticed by secrets
Beyond the threshold of truth
Dreamers walk naked

Sue Vincent
The Polar Shift #Nonet

sea god
and the most beguiling
deity found on earth,
rose from the bright turquoise seas
unaware that climate change had
laid waste the balmy shores he adored
as frigid gales transformed him into stone.

Colleen M. Chesebro
"Illustive loyalty"  #Tanka 
Earning loyalty
Involves years of building trust
Not money’s false lure
It is one of life’s riddles
That devotion can’t be bought

Robbie Cheadle
 'Rejuvenation' #Haibun

I have discovered the secret to eternal youth. I stand before
the mirror. With eyes almost closed the image blurs. Wrinkles
disappear. Hair regains its colour. The extra pounds fall away.
I am tall and strong. A reflection of how I used to be. I draw
the image towards me absorbing its essence.

Do not be deceived
Challenge the silver backed mirror
Remain young at heart.

Sally Cronin
untitled, #Tanka
weave into my dreams
watery visions of pearls
even as I drown
let me drift with the fishes
charmed by your silvery tail

D. Wallace Peach
 "Frozen" #Haibun
Harsh winds of winter-
Her precious vitality
hangs on by a thread

Her vibrant red hues once captivated onlookers but now, she
fades into lighter shades of coral as melancholy overwhelms
her. She mourns the loss of her friends who grew up with her
in the fields. Her tears turn to ice. She is frozen in the moment.
Her spirit resigns as the frost takes over her her petals. Her
head droops as she falls into a deep slumber. The ground
attempts to nourish her during this time. 

The sun wonders what it would take to solve this conundrum.
The sun tries to cheer her up. The sun's rays tickled the
flower. The hairs on her head and stem raise only slightly.
Darn, a futile attempt! Onerous though the flower's life may
be, spring is around the corner. Soon, she will see her perennial
friends again!

takes delicate loving care-
A new dawn awaits

Interior Reflections #Butterfly #Cinquain
Melting magic
Captive of nature’s chill
Illuminates dark surroundings 
Light flows
Transforming once mundane patterns
Into new perspective
Circling in time

Olga Daciuk
Trapped #Senryu
The Great Enigma
That She Is, Lures Me In,
Traps Me In Her Web…

the dark netizen
Alluring #Cinquain
The look
Is alluring
While catching you off guard
Tis the confidence he exudes
That chills

Dorinda Duclos
Sport  #Haiku
Nose drawn to the ground
Curious scent, nesting birds
Game, but not for long

Ben, Munro buddy and budding dog-poet
Chasing Butterflies, #Etheree
child looks
at life with 
blushed innocence
fresh as a fuzzed peach
captivated by wondrous
secrets and simple pleasures
chasing butterflies in their dreams
crooning to the bright glittering stars
lulled to sleep in the arms of the pale moon

Linda Lee Lyberg- Charmed Chaos
"Flame" #Haiku
Intrigue in your eyes
I'm drawn like a moth to flame
I must touch the fire

Jan Sikes
Russet enigma
frozen winds whisper secrets
swallows bring new hope

Carole (Piglet in Portugal)
There's Something Wrong with Emma #Sonnet
I can't compare you to another girl.
You are an enigma that frightens me.
In your eyes I see rough winds whirl,
yet your smile makes me wonder what you see.

In life alluring souls are born to shine,
and everyone dances in their sunlight.
Except you, because you plan her decline.
Perhaps she's not what she seems in your sight?

You see things in ways that others cannot.
Crazy thoughts in your head are real to you,
but in the "real" world would be a long shot.
Your madness is a thing to look into.

So long as you can breathe, and crazy spurs,
you'll sing a deadly song of gray to her.

Vashti Quiroz-Vega
"The Embrace," #Haibun
I’m afraid to disrupt the sacred theater unfolding around me,
but the spongy moss underfoot propels me forward. The bay
of water peeking through a wall of giant fir trees beckons. The
stillness throbs, and my heart races, here at the edge.

the humming portal
a voyager

I pause at the top of the stairs, hand on peeling rail. Cool air
surrounds my skin, and I hover in the moment with it. Pale orange,
pink, and blue gently mingle in the sky and again on the water,
a painting that deserves to be shown off twice. Slowly, a sleek body
glides across the surface, an enigma.


A bald eagle screeches, and its mate echoes the call across the bay.
With that invitation I eagerly make my way down to the beach.
The remnants of our fire from the night before tickle my nose,
smoky and rich despite its human origin, or can I even claim that?
The elusive swimmer, a harbor seal, keeps me in its sight.

dark eyes
reflect my own
full of questions

Three boats sleep in the water while my mind awakes to
possibility, to pulsing life, and to my presence woven into this
colorful tapestry. All preconceived notions of who I was slide
off my shoulders onto the crushed clam shells and rocks below.
A clam defiantly spouts a stream of water across the beach,
making me smile. Yes, I am ready to embrace life again.

colors burst
before my eyes
then soak into my skin
heart outstretched
it ushers in
no longer hidden

Holly Fister
"Halfwit Addict," #Senryu
Coffee scents lure me
to an empty pot, puzzled.
Crap - the well is dry.

Holly Fister
Mystery & Attract #Senryu
bewitched by candlelight
flickering in the darkness
peace bellowing

Kat Myrman
Too Tasty To Ignore! #Tanka
A pleasing parcel,
Wrapped in black jeans, tight tee-shirt,
Enigma to solve,
Beguiling but dangerous, 
Was I a fool to trust him?

Shall I start eating?
This cheeky dessert mouthful,
Or just admire it?
Fork poised in the air trembling.
Such decisions, decisions!

Marje @ Kyrosmagica
Despised Condundrum, #Haibun/Tanka
Despised Conundrum
of contentment, seduced by
Senda’s expelled sweet
plankton perfumed breath, alone-
adrift- angers salted sea.

I state my case and stand my ground. Let the sparks fly where
hey may. Ridgely invincible- I indignantly fan the flames. When
life has become too comfortable, I set my own world ablaze,
trample bridges as they burn; and from the cinders rise again.

Violet Lentz
The Books, #Double Nonet
she asks
is the sky
blue and grass green?
What does it matter,
he replies, do your chores.
Eyes downcast, she complies–but
determined to find answers—there
in those books she’s forbidden to touch–

only boys can learn to read, and then
only those with the right skin tones
or money or connections.
Still books call—enticing!
Secretly she learns–
quietly she
plots–and then
she runs

Merril Smith
Sojurned, #Double Etheree
asks nothing
of its travels,
expanding into
mosaic-lined pathways.
The way is tangled, over
grown.  It breathes green—magnified in
superimposition, molecules
scattering space into layers of songs.
Questions shrink calcified, mineralized,
undone and unspoken, visceral,
lost, unsettled by reflection.
All directions are the same.
The heart beats mesmerized,
soundless and riddled
with light, cocooned,

Kerfe - Method Two Madness
The Unknown, #Tanka
Secrets and questions
Never asked; never answered
Alone in darkness
Flickering flames on the wall
Drawn out toward the blinding light.

John Leys

Stay Tuned for Tomorrow’s Challenge!

Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 119 “Mystery & Attract,” #SynonymsOnly


Hi! I’m glad to see you here. Are you ready to write some syllabic poetry?

Here are your two words for this week: 


HERE’S THE CATCH: You can’t use the prompt words! SYNONYMS ONLY! Except for the first challenge of the month ~ then, the poets get to choose their own words. ❤

PLEASE support the other poets by visiting their blogs and leaving comments. Sharing each other’s work on social media is always nice too.

This challenge is for Tanka, Haiku, Senryu, Haibun, Etheree, Nonet, Shadorma, and Cinquain poetry forms. Freestyle rhyming poetry is not part of this challenge. Thank you. ❤


Please note: We are all students of poetry. I have given you the instructions on how to write the different forms. Try your best to be as exact as you can. There are no tests, and I don’t grade your work. LOL!

For Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge, you can write your poem in one of the forms defined below. Click on the links to learn about each form:




CINQUAIN & the variations on Cinquain-Wikipedia 





Here are some great sites that will help you write your poetry and count syllables 

This site even has a link so you install the extension on Google Chrome.

For Synonyms and Antonyms. When your word has too many syllables, find one that works.

Find out how many syllables each word has. I use this site for all my Haiku and Tanka poems. Click on the “Workshop” tab to create your Haiku or Tanka.

I don't get it


I will publish the Tuesday prompt post at 12: 03 A.M. Mountain Standard Time (Denver Time).  That should give everyone time to see the prompt from around the world. The RECAP is published on Monday and will contain the challenge participant’s poems.

You have one week to complete the Challenge with a deadline of Sunday, at 12:00 P.M. (Noon) Denver time, U. S. A.

This will give me a chance to add the poems from the submission forms to the Recap I publish on Monday. I urge everyone to visit the blogs and comment on everyone’s poem.

The rules are simple

If it’s the first poetry challenge of the month, poets choose their own words. (Synonyms are not necessary). Otherwise, for the rest of the month, I will give you two words. Choose synonyms from those words for your poetry. You, the poet, now have more control over the direction of your writing. Follow the rules carefully. Don’t use the prompt words.

By participating in this challenge, you agree to allow me to publish your poem in a 2019 PDF collection of poetry if you are selected as the Poet of the Week. This collection will be available in January 2020 as a free download from my site.

Don't forget

As time allows, I will visit your blog, comment, and TWEET your POETRY.

If you add these hashtags to your post TITLE on your blog (depending on which poetry form you use) your poetry may be viewed more often:

#Haiku, #Tanka, #micropoetry, #poetry, #5lines, #Haibun, #Prose #Senryu, #CinquainPoetry, #Etheree, #Nonet, #Shadorma

Visit Robbie Cheadle’s POETRY SHARING GROUP on Facebook JOIN TODAY!

Robbie Cheadle has set up a public group on Facebook called: “Poetry Sharing Group.”  Please share each other’s poems to this group. I think this is a great way to share our work with other poets. Mind your manners. For every share, you must comment on another post in the group. Please click the link above to join this group. Remember, sharing is caring! Thank you. ❤

You may copy the badge I have created to go with the Weekly Poetry Challenge Post and place it in your post. It’s not mandatory:

Here are your two words for this week: “MYSTERY & ATTRACT”

Have fun and write some poetry!

Conversations With Colleen: Meet Author, Allison Maruska

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you one of my favorite YA/mystery and suspense authors, Allison Maruska. When I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE she never even batted an eye. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.

Please meet my guest, Allison Maruska.

Allison is a YA and mystery/suspense author, blogger, teacher, mom, wife, coffee and wine consumer, and owl enthusiast. Her blog includes humor posts, short stories, and posts on writing strategy, parenting, and teaching. 

Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. I’m really looking forward to our chat.

Hi, Allison. I’m glad you’re here. Would you share some common traps for aspiring writers?

I’d say the most common trap (or misconception, rather) is the belief that since we all learned how to write in school, we can all write a book. Writing a novel is hard. Haaaaaard.

New writers get discouraged thinking it’s supposed to be easy, because duh, we can all write. But there are variables involved with writing a book that you simply don’t think of until you actually do it—like how to keep up the tension, how to keep dialogue tight, and dealing with the mushy middle.

But the good news is writing a good book is a learned skill, just like learning to write letters, sentences, and paragraphs. Even if they don’t study creative writing in college (I didn’t), many writers attend conferences and workshops, work with established writers and editors, or simply read books on the craft. No one knows what they’re doing at the beginning.

I heard a rumor that you love cats. So, as a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I have a thing for owls. It’s not just a branding thing—it’s a real, birdy crush of sorts. I have owl jewelry and art and cookie jars and purses and a tattoo of an owl. Last year, my son discovered an owl sitting in a tree in our backyard and I. About. Lost. My. Mind. I took about a thousand pictures of it, shared my glee on social media, and despite the cool temperature, ate my dinner on the deck so I could spend more time with our visitor. That was a good day. So owls are definitely my mascot, both in writing and in life.

Do it

(CLICK HERE to learn more about the symbolism of the owl as a spirit animal). Click HERE to find your own spirit animal.

I’ve read several of your books. How do you select the names of your characters?

I use dice! Seriously!

I like to start with how I imagine the character to look, then I use my name dice until I land on one that “feels” right. The trickiest book to choose names for was “Drake and the Fliers,” because the characters all (except for Drake) had new “flier” names that they adopted after they became shapeshifters. Weird shifter names like Scopes, Talon, Phoenix, and Sonar weren’t part of the name dice selection.

Back when I was writing my early books, I thought I would be “different” like Suzanne Collins with her Katniss and Peeta tendencies, which is how Levin and Rana from the Project Renovatio series got their names. I’ve since decided dice names are just fine.

Drake and the Fliers was an excellent book! It’s one of my favorites. Here is my review.

You know I’m a fan of your writing. So, I have to ask… What was your hardest scene to write?

Not dishing spoilers (because I’m not naming the book, ha), the hardest scene to write, both emotionally and logistically, was one where an MC watched a loved one murdered in front of him. How do you capture the gravity of that?

There was at least a whole chapter leading up to it, with the suspense of “will he get to her in time.” Then, when the scene in question arrived, it was a matter of relief, hope, extreme fear, determination, and ultimately, crushing defeat.

I put it through my critique group several times and rewrote it about that many times. Talks involving “how would you feel if you saw this” weren’t too fun to have, and after each time I worked it I needed to take a breather for a day or two.

Allison, do you blog? How does blogging help you sell books?

I was a humor blogger before I was a novelist. For the first year, it was just me writing silly posts about whatever because I could—my personal favorite from that first year was about whether or not Chuck Norris ever wore yoga pants.

After I was offered a publishing contract, I shifted to more “authory” type posts (though humor ones do still occasionally get through). I’d say the blog definitely helped sell the first book, and probably the subsequent ones to a lesser degree, though I know for a fact it has attracted book bloggers.

The blog is a great landing spot for all of my social media postings, and unlike Twitter or Facebook, the posts are easily searchable and for the most part, evergreen. I use it in place of a traditional newsletter.

Thanks for the visit, Allison. I’ve shared the link to your most recently released book below:

Read my review HERE

I had a great time, Colleen. Thanks for the invite. ❤

How to contact Allison Maruska


TWITTER:  @allisonmaruska

FACEBOOK:  Allison Maruska, Author

k luv u bye

 Thanks for stopping by to meet Allison Maruska. You’ll love her books!

Colleen’s 2018 #Book #Reviews – “Devil’s Lake, (Bittersweet Hollow, Book 1),” by Author, Aaron Paul Lazar

book reviews

Title: Devil’s Lake (Bittersweet Hollow, Book 1)

Amazon Author Page: Aaron Paul Lazar

Publication Date: July 8, 2014

Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Audible – unabridged

FREE Kindle & FREE Audible

Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Romance



“After two years of brutal captivity, Portia Lamont has escaped and returned to her family’s Vermont horse farm—only to find her parents gone to New York to try an experimental treatment for her mother’s cancer, and her childhood friend Boone Hawke running the farm.

The man Boone has become frightens her to near paralysis, but she’s too traumatized and physically devastated to put up a fight. Like the rest of her family, Boone has never given up hope that Portia would return. But when she turns up battered, skinny as a twelve-year-old boy, afraid of everything and unable to talk about what happened, he does the only thing he can—try to help her heal.

He summons the town doctor and Portia’s parents and sets out to put this beautiful, broken woman back together again. Through her family’s love and Boone’s gentle affection, Portia gradually comes back to herself and starts to fall for her old friend in a whole new way.

But one thing threatens her fragile hopes for recovery: The man who took her promised that if she ever escaped, he’d kill her. Slowly. And someone is definitely watching her…waiting to make a deadly move.”
NOTE: This book contains explicit sexual content. For adults only!

Bittersweet Hollow (Romantic Suspense Series)

Book 1: Devil’s Lake
Book 2: Devil’s Creek
Book 3: Devil’s Spring


This isn’t my favorite genre, and I really recoiled when I read the book blurb. However, I had promised the author that I would read and review this book which I won in a Facebook contest.

Guess what? I couldn’t put the book down! I won’t lie, it was difficult reading about Portia’s kidnapping and the psychological terror she withstood at the hands of a madman.

However, Lazar balances the horror and suspense in such a way that I didn’t cringe at every page turn. He chooses his descriptions carefully as if he had Portia’s feelings in mind as he wrote.

The introduction of Boone, her childhood friend, softens the harsh edges of the story. Immediately, you can feel the connection between the two characters even though Portia is nowhere near ready to become involved in a relationship.

Portia’s sister Grace, who has her own problems and issues to deal with, displays an inner strength and fortitude in the face of danger that I found admirable. The two sisters are direct opposites who play off each other’s personalities all the way to the explosive ending.

If you’re in the mood for something different, Devil’s Lake will deliver in the mystery and suspense department. The story is creative and I couldn’t predict what would happen next. But beware. There is explicit sexual content. I didn’t find anything offensive so don’t let that put you off.

I’m interested in the rest of the series as I would like to see where this author’s creativity takes the characters and the continuing story.

The Kindle book and the Audible version are listed as FREE. For a few hours of great entertainment, you can’t go wrong.


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Fairies

5 fairies

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System


Author, Aaron Paul Lazar

About the Author:

Aaron Paul Lazar is obsessed with writing. He’s completed twenty-seven books to date and has earned twenty literary book awards. He writes mysteries, suspense, love stories, and more. You’ll usually find him writing his heart out in the early hours of the day – preferably in the dark, quiet hours when no one else is awake in his bustling household. Visit his website at to sign up for a free book and to learn about future deals.



Aaron Paul Lazar wasn’t always a mystery writer. It wasn’t until eight members of his family and friends died within five years that the urge to write became overwhelming. “When my father died, I lost it. I needed an outlet, and writing provided the kind of solace I couldn’t find elsewhere.”

Lazar created the Gus LeGarde mystery series, with the founding novel, DOUBLE FORTÉ, a chilling winter mystery set in the Genesee Valley of upstate New York. Like Lazar’s father, protagonist Gus LeGarde is a classical music professor. Gus, a grandfather, gardener, chef, and nature lover, plays Chopin etudes to feed his soul and thinks of himself as a “Renaissance man caught in the 21st century.” There are twelve books to date in this series.

The creation of the series lent Lazar the comfort he sought, yet in the process, a new passion was unleashed. Obsessed with his parallel universe, he now lives, breathes, and dreams about his characters, and has written eleven LeGarde mysteries in addition to four other series.

One day while rototilling his gardens, Lazar unearthed a green cat’s eye marble, which prompted the paranormal mystery series featuring Sam Moore, retired country doctor and passionate gardener. The green marble, a powerful talisman, connects all three of the books in the series, whisking Sam back in time to uncover his brother’s dreadful fate fifty years earlier. (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF BILLY MOORE, TERROR COMES KNOCKING, and FOR KEEPS)

Lazar’s books feature breathless chase scenes, nasty villains, and taut suspense, but are also intensely human stories, replete with kids, dogs, horses, food, romance, and humor. The author calls them, “country mysteries,” although reviewers have dubbed them “literary mysteries.”

“It seems as though every image ever impressed upon my brain finds its way into my work. Whether it’s the light dancing through stained-glass windows in a Parisian chapel, curly slate-green lichen covering a boulder at the edge of a pond in Maine, or hoarfrost dangling from a cherry tree branch in mid-winter, these images burrow into my memory cells. In time they bubble back, persistently itching until they are poured out on the page.”

In 2009, Kodak laid him off after 28 years of service, and during the year he had off (before he landed in his job with KB America) he had time to explore and reconnect with his environment. Little did he know that several trips to the Adirondack Mountains would reawaken his passion for that part of the country. A new romantic mystery series was started entitled Tall Pines Mysteries: FOR THE BIRDS, ESSENTIALLY YOURS, SANCTUARY, and BETRAYAL.

In between all the novels, Lazar published three short writing guides based on his many years of writing advice blogs, entitled WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volumes 1-3. These are available in eBook and audiobook formats.

In his twenty-first book, Lazar has jumped genre. THE SEACREST: a love story, now the winner of many literary awards, is poised to capture hearts across the globe. Book 1 in the Paines Creek Beach novels (set on Cape Cod), this also launched a series and is followed by THE SEACROFT and THE SEADOG.

When the news was filled with stories about the girls captured for ten years by that monster in Cleveland (you know who he was…), Lazar was compelled to write a book to honor the women involved. Thus was born the Bittersweet Hollow romantic suspense series, featuring award-winning DEVIL’S LAKE, DEVIL’S CREEK, and DEVIL’S SPRING.

The author lives on a ridge overlooking the Genesee Valley in upstate New York with his wife, daughter Allison, two little grandsons, two dogs, and four cats. With a total of six grandkids now, he finds grandfathering to be one of the most precious and important times of life and spends as much time as possible with Julian, Gordon, Isabella, Christopher, Luke, and Joey.

Lazar has been featured in many magazines and newspapers and has given dozens of radio interviews over the years.

Summary of series:

LEGARDE MYSTERIES (country mysteries set in the Finger Lakes)

GREEN MARBLE MYSTERIES (mysteries with time travel and a ghost)

TALL PINES MYSTERIES (sensual women’s mysteries set in the Adirondacks)

PAINES CREEK BEACH SERIES (love stories by the sea)

BITTERSWEET HOLLOW SERIES (romantic suspense involving kidnapping)




PAINES CREEK BEACH, love stories

BITTERSWEET HOLLOW, romantic suspense



Devil’s Lake
• 2015 Finalist Readers’ Favorites Awards
• 2015 Semi-finalist in Kindle Book Review Awards

The Seacrest
• 2015 Semi-finalist in Kindle Book Review Awards
• 2014 Best Beach Book Festival WINNER, Romance category
• 2013 ForeWord Book Awards, Romance, FINALIST

The Seadog
• 2016 Best Indie Book Awards, Romance, WINNER

Double Forté
• 2012 ForeWord BOTYA, Mystery, FINALIST

Tremolo: cry of the loon –
• 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Grand Prize Short List
• 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Honorable Mention, Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction
• 2011 Global eBook Award Finalist in Historical Fiction Contemporary
• 2011 Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place Mystery
• 2008 Yolanda Renée’s Top Ten Books
• 2008 MYSHELF Top Ten Reads

For the Birds
• 2011 ForeWord Book Awards, FINALIST in Mystery
• 2012 Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Top 10 Reads

Essentially Yours
• 2013 EPIC Book Awards, FINALIST in Suspense
• 2013 Eric Hoffer Da Vinci Eye Award Finalist

The Disappearance of Billy Moore (formerly titled Healey’s Cave)
• 2012 EPIC Book Awards WINNER Best Paranormal
• 2011 Eric Hoffer Book Award, WINNER Best Book in Commercial Fiction
• 2011 Finalist for Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice
• 2011 Winner of Carolyn Howard Johnson’s 9th Annual Noble (not Nobel!) Prize for Literature
• 2011 Finalists for Global EBook Awards

Terror Comes Knocking
• 2013 Global Ebook Awards, Paranormal – Bronze

For Keeps
• 2013 Semi Finalist in Kindle Book Review Book Awards, Mystery Category

Spirit Me Away
• 2014 AuthorsdB book cover contest, Silver medal.

Under the Ice
• 2015 AuthorsdB “Bronze” Cover Award



How to Connect with the Author:


Contact him at

TWITTER: @aplazar

FACEBOOK: Aaron Paul Lazar

Smashing good timeThanks for stopping by to meet Aaron Paul Lazar. Check out Devil’s Lake. It’s a great read!

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