Book Review: The Kiss of the Blue Howler by Victoria Bastedo

The Kiss of the Blue Howler by Victoria Bastedo

A Fantasy novel published by Amazon Digital Services (06/03/2017)

Summary:

“But life in a cavern was all-inclusive.” (Page 297)

Life Underneath is full of wonder. For the son of the elader of Ishtish, Xerai, life is simple. He is the Instinctive and must protect the people of Ishtish with his powers of instinct. One evening, he finds Zephyr, a mute ThoEn who can only speak through pictures she paints around her. She is lonely and afraid and doesn’t trust Xera, but when she doesn’t come with him to town before nightfall, the Blue Howlers will get her. The Blue Howlers have never been so aggressive and Xerai, along with Zephyr, will have to figure out what’s wrong before it’s too late.

Keywords:

Instincts, War, Abilities, Kingdom, Underwater, Underneath, Companionship, Friendship, Loyalty, Leader, Sacrifice, Loss, Love, Water, Visual, Creatures

My Review:

Bastedo has an ease of storytelling that is unusual in so many authors! It is so easy to read this story, even trying to understand this new world she has painted for us.

The story and the imagination just keeps growing and all the elements are interconnected in a logical way that gives the story more depth and intrigue as the novel unfolds. The conclusion tied up all loose ends and ended as magically as it began.

Though Zephyr is mute, she is able to fully communicate. I love how this apparent ‘disability’ isn’t a hindrance to Zephyr interacting with others around her. It is so awesome to have diverse characters like Zephyr.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 06/03/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.75

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

SnoValleyHobbit

Victoria Bastedo WordPress

Maple Valley Days 4th Year Follow-up

 

Next year I resolve to take more pictures! I absolutely love Maple Valley Days. I spent 32 hours volunteering in the park for the festival and quite a few prior helping to organize. Even though I spent about 10 minutes total inside our booth (and was able to help sell a book while I was in the tent whoop whoop), as a volunteer I interact with almost every other vendor (over 100) and always talk up the local writer’s booth!

Here are all the pictures I took.

I was thrilled to see all the corgis (not pictured). At least 3 tri-colored corgis and one 16-week old puppy corgi that was such a cuddler!

Book Review: Mini-Droids and Tea- Seattle by Victoria Bastedo

Mini-Droids and Tea- Seattle by Victoria Bastedo

A Romance novel published by Amazon Digital Services (03/04/2017)

Summary:

Poppy is finally independent. She has her own tea shop – Teacozy – and has forgotten about her heart’s nemesis: Colepepper McSimmons. When Colepeppers start showing up in her shop, in the form of the Mini-Droids he invented and produced to look like himself along with a seven-inch tall version of herself, Poppy will be confronted by the past she never quite let go of.

Keywords:

Personal Phone Devices, Mini-Droid, Technology, Tea, Date, Romance, Friendship, Living your Dream, Small Business, Entrepreneur, Inventor, Lost Love

My Review:

This story goes beyond meet cute because the hero and heroine already know each other! They are each other’s heart nemesis and have to reconcile the past in order to make up, move on, and love each other as they should! I really enjoyed watching their romance take shape throughout this story and to see the struggle of both Poppy and Colepepper to trust the other with their hearts.

I loved the integration of the Mini-Droids into the story, they added an element of intrigue and interest without being the central point of the novel. We get to see the interruption a personal device has on Poppy when they look and sound just like her! This would be flattering if the inventor hadn’t broken her heart when he left her behind ten years ago!

Poppy’s struggle as en entrepreneur herself and a business owner was also quite realistic. She was quite clever with her marketing strategies and I enjoyed all the little details about her tea shop.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 03/04/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 3.75

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

SnoValleyHobbit

Victoria Bastedo WordPress

 

Book Review: Black Poodle Over Seven Hills by Victoria Bastedo

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Black Poodle Over Seven Hills by Victoria Bastedo

A Contemporary Romance novel published by Satin Romance (10/18/2016)

Summary:

Soubrette offered to transport a high-end black poodle to Seattle in exchange for a free ticket to a new life, but when the owner’s cousin shows up instead of the owner, Soubrette will have to follow up to make sure the puppy gets to the right home. The cousin, Timothy, is immediately taken with Soubrette (and the dog) and offers to show her around and help get her settled. This simple meet cute will take a turn when Soubrette’s left behind baggage arrives in Seattle and interferes with Soubrette’s new life and new relationship.

Keywords:

Seattle, Poodle, Romance, Friendship, New Place, Moving, Leaving Behind, Stalker, Bully, New Beginnings, Queen Anne, Tourist, New Job

My Review:

A simple, meet-cute novel full of witty dialogue set against the lovely hills of Seattle’s Queen Anne, Black Poodle Over Seven Hills was a charming fast read. Where does the titular poodle fit in? She brings Soubrette and Timothy together – not in the ‘can I pet your dog’ sense, but in quite a different manner altogether. An airport chase and mistaken identity isn’t that big of a deal for Soubrette since she is calm in the face of potential danger, but this first scene foreshadows the depths the plot will jump to after the main characters meet and grow their friendship.

Both Soubrette and Timothy were fully developed persons with interesting backstories. Never has the answer to the question “so what brings you to Seattle” been so intriguing. Soubrette is a lively and cheerful lady with spunk and wit to spare even in the face of the past that won’t stop clinging to her coattails. Seattle may offer a new start for her, but she can’t leave her past behind, it will just take a bit longer to catch up to her.

Soubrette is a great mixture of passive and active character. Even when bad things followed her around, she was able to use her strength of character to make her own way and bully her way around some fairly tight situations. She is no damsel in distress, but even she can’t win all her battles. And that’s where Timothy Marsh gets a chance to save the day. Both Timothy and soubrette are independent, but any time they are together you will just have to smile at their witty banter and camaraderie.

I received an ARC from the author.

This novel was published by Satin Romance 10/18/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 3.75

 

Links for more information:

On the web

SnoValley blog

Victoria Bastedo blog

Seattle Specific Saturdays: I Heart Books Event in Renton, WA Saturday, February 13: 3 PM – 10 PM

From the Facebook event page:

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We’re back! And this time we have even more fun and excitement than we did before. Join Jeffrey Cook, Lee French, A.J. Downey, Bibi Rizer and more for a book selling event that will not only make you look good for your sweetheart, but will help show the love to an organization that helps abused kids!

That’s right, this time I ♥ Books is doubling as the launch party for Biker Chicks! An anthology of hot MC romance where the women are in charge.

All proceeds from the sales of any of the Biker Chicks anthology goes directly in support of the Lake Washington Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse in support of their mission to help the littlest victims. B.A.C.A. is a non-profit organization that provides victim support and services to children who have been the victim of abuse be it in a domestic capacity or otherwise.

So join us, the day before Valentine’s Day to score your copy of Biker Chicks before anyone else, and to maybe, just mayyyybe, score some points with *your* other half. 😉

We can’t wait to see you there!

Seattle Specific Saturdays: My Favorite Local Coffee Shop is Selling Great Books! St. James Espresso in Kirkland, WA

Support local!!! St. James Espresso has a duo of fantastic owners who give back to their community in many ways. Currently they are supporting multiple authors. You should check out the books and grab a cup of coffee or one of their to-die-for breakfast burritos (I’m serious, it was so good I’m giving up lunch and dinner forever). They are so much so my favorite coffee shop that I’m setting my next (after nanowrimo) novel in the Kirkland area and heavily featuring St. James in the story. Stay tuned for more info on that….

I really want you to check out the cafe and buy a book. Please, please! See our display?

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If you are a Nanower, please feel free to exchange your duck at the “take a duck – leave a duck” basket that I’ve set up on the main table. The four fiction novels featured in our display were all nano novels and if you are a fellow writer, I encourage you to support other authors. There is also the lovely FreeValley Publishing anthology and a fun short book of challenges. See below for more information.

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Book Review: Green-Eyed Pursuit by Victoria Bastedo

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Green-Eyed Pursuit by Victoria Bastedo

A YA Mystery novel published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (05/04/2015)

Summary:

“Sometimes a thing has more value if it doesn’t come easily. And if you know your father before you know his history, you’ll have to judge him by his face and actions rather than by the trouble associated with his name.” (Kindle Locations 141-143).

Lucien, after discovering a letter written by his late mother detailing the existence of a father he never knew about, journeys to Seahaven with his best friend Rutherford and their schoolteacher Miss Pansy. After a 6 hour coach ride, they search all over town trying to find Amani Peale, Lucien’s father. They plan on matching eyes from father to son to prove parentage as both have startling green eyes. Eventually, the three are able to find Amani, but that is not all they discover in Seahaven. Lucien’s mother left the port town for good reason, to protect her son from the dark cloud of evil that surrounded Amani. There were those in the family and town who wanted to take over Amani’s inheritance and before Lucien was born, thugs roughed up Amani and framed him for murder. For 17 years Amani lay in wait, expecting the rogue to make a misstep so that Amani’s name could be cleared for good. Lucien gets caught up in Amani’s past as they work to create a new future together as father and son.

 

Keywords:

1905, Sea town, schoolteacher, absent father, inheritance, green-eyes, chase, family, love, loyalty, setup, suspense, stubbornness

 

My Review:

I adore Bastedo’s characters. She gives us a diverse assortment of them. You have Amani Peale, the estranged father who didn’t know he had a son and is valiantly trying to clear his name whilst building up his own fortunes outside of the family inheritance. Bremen is his loyal and trusty right hand man. Lucien is the boy who discovers he has a father as a near-adult and sets out to find him. Rutherford is his best friend. Miss Pansy is the schoolteacher who mothers them all. Beamish is the misunderstood upward-crawling family member whose opinions of Amani are less than nice. Finally, there is Clinger: the presumptuous bully from the docks. Bastedo’s characters are all very different in their personalities and their actions, although she has set some similarities between Amani and his son Lucien and between Bremen and Rutherford, the two buddies.

 

Though Bastedo sets her story in 1905, the writing style is lively if a bit dry. Her characters are stoic and don’t always admit to how they’re feeling. For Lucien, it’s his stubbornness that holds him back and keeps him from letting his feelings free. He lost his mother after all and doesn’t care to be mothered, subconsciously pushing away Miss Pansy’s attempts to care for him because she is in a way replacing the role of his late mother. Lucien is a fun character. Every time he is given new information that involves him and his future, he shows his aptitude for business and summarizing family legalities. His lengths at remaining stoic are hilarious, though he does display emotions when they are called for.

 

Though the writing and setting were somewhat dry to begin with and the action was slow to get the ball rolling, the story naturally found its stride and the secrets kept pouring out until the very end. I believe the slow to action start is quite appropriate for the setting of the story as 1905 was such a different time. Halfway through though, you won’t be able to put the book down as the drama accelerates and the action gets too exciting to let go.

 

This novel was published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform 05/04/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

On the web

SnoValley blog

Victoria Bastedo blog

Save the Date! May 27th – Bard & Starlet Radio Hour Boxley’s North Bend

FreeValley Publishing is proud to present, Bard & Starlet Radio Hour – Live on stage May 27th at Boxley’s Jazz Club in North Bend, WA

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Scenes by six of our authors will be performed by actors on stage in a style reminiscent of old radio plays…Kind of like your voice-acted audio book comes to life before your eyes!

Produced by Sheri J. Kennedy and FreeValley Publishing
Directed by Michael Renney
Starring Dylan Cook, Michael Renney, FVP Authors and more…

Be sure not to miss this exciting community event! Free Admission at Boxley’s Jazz Club. We recommend enjoying Boxley’s dinner, snacks and/or cocktails – they’re delicious!  boxleysplace.com

Book Review: Free-flowing Stories by FreeValley Publishing Authors

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Free-flowing Stories by FreeValley Publishing Authors

An anthology published by FreeValley Publishing (11/01/14)

• CAN’T STOP SINGING by Kathleen Gabriel

“The music was loud, and she had to participate.” (Page 2).

She has an earworm that won’t let go and her life is fast consumed by the music in her head that she has to sing and sometimes dance to, until she can no longer hear herself. Can’t Stop Singing is a whimsical piece of writing that takes a small annoyance to the farthest reaches of the imagination. What happens if the songs in your head don’t ever stop?

• DARK DESCENSIONS by Kennedy J. Quinn

“When you remove free will, you remove restoration and leave vindictive judgment.” (Page 15).
“Truth will come, but it must be embraced through trust and understanding.” (Page 23).

The men of the government of Overseers butt heads with the council of the Sisterhood’s Underseers in the justice against a man who committed the vile act of rape. When one Sister sends the man Underneath she starts the political war between the Overseers and Underseers. This short prequel to Secret Order of the Overworld tells the story of how the turmoil in the Overworld really began and will pull you into a world of multiple dimensions and variable morals.

• DESIRÉE by David S. Moore

“‘RejuveMates rebuilds these women’s bodies, but in doing so it steals their souls.’ I knew then that I had to do something.” (Page 38).

RejuveMates sucks Dr. Brown into the allure of the subjects’ spells, their eternal beauty, and finally, their lack of free will. Thoughts of Desirée distract Dr. Brown from his own wife and family until he is convinced he has to and can do something for her. When people become a commercial commodity, like RejuveMates has done to these women, the company is questioned regarding its morals and taking away the women’s freedom of choice. Their argument is that they’ve given these otherwise destined for poverty and poor life choices women a resurrection and rebirth. David Moore describes this moral anxiety within Dr. Brown in a fascinating matter and the world he has built around this phenomenal genetic technology is wholly intriguing.

• A REASON TO SING by Victoria Bastedo

“…there were times when stubborn men were wrong.” (Page 66).
“In Shenandya the trees were the world, and the Wildenbury tree was the height of mystic focus. And now the Wildenbury trees were singing, pouring out their non-human voices as if sound was a river draining from a spout. All over the village people were stunned with amazement.” (Page 52).

Lewolenan has failed to pass the physical testing required to be a scout for Shenandya, but he is determined not to fail when his overbearing father tells him to find the reason the trees sing. This is a short companion story to Roots Entwine by Victoria Bastedo and tells a tale of acceptance and standing up for what one believes and in one’s self. Bastedo creates a fairy tale like world in Shenandya that is magical to behold.

• NIGHT OF STARS by Stephen J. Matlock

“People in Windmill, like people everywhere, loved to hear themselves complimented for their perspicacity.” (Location 2013).
“Money’s good for one thing-buying things-but you can’t buy friendship. You have to earn it…” (Location 1660).

Henry valentine is twelve, not a child anymore but not quite a man in the summer of 1951. He lives in Windmill, Texas, where people hung on every word of the preacher and the heat of the summer suffocated and turned minds to less acceptable notions. This was a time of religion, racism, and for Henry, it’s his coming of age story. The POV switches between Henry and Benjamin, much like in the novel this short story is a prequel of: Stars in the Texas Sky.

• ATAXIA AND THE GIRL OF LOST DREAMS by Rachel Barnard

“Be brave, girls. Take every opportunity you can.” (Location 2382).

The members of the government resistance group, Ataxia, think that MC – just a girl from a small village – can infiltrate an elite Academy, pose as a student, graduate with honors, be placed in a high up position in the military command, and work from the inside to advance the Ataxian cause. She wants to do it because she wishes to restore balance to a society in which the government favors the rich and persecutes the poor. This short story is the prequel to Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams and tells the story in the days leading up to where the novel begins.

• MIDDAY’S MADNESS by T. Tommia Wright

“If someone tells you not to go somewhere, be daring. Go!” (Location 2516).

Jalem Vitalma is young enough to slip away unseen, but not old enough to be considered worthy of being taught, until she happens upon a wounded stranger who guides her through the art of healing. This prequel to T. Tommia Wright’s upcoming fantasy novel, Escorting in Twilight, is full of magic and a young girl who has an inquisitive mind and a yearning for knowledge. Get caught up in the fantasy world spun by Wright, where magic prevails.

• DAWN OF STEAM: THE RAT KING by Jeffrey Cook

“While unlikely to see a much wider circulation, the daily chronicling assignments of a small boy along for a great journey provide a perspective eon the trip, on the day-to-day life aboard the airship, and on the crew themselves that is not present elsewhere.” (Location 2580).

From the assignments of Matthew Fisher-Swift, ward of the Captain, on his attempts to capture the Rat Baronet in a ship in the early 1800’s. There are also some accounts from Harriet Wright. If the rat continues to live, it may well chew through enough to damage the dirigible and threaten the safety of the crew aboard, giving much importance to Matthew’s mission. This very focused story is delightful to read and tells the story of one minor character from Jeffrey Cook’s Dawn of Steam trilogy.

Links for more information:

FreeValley Publishing’s blog

Goodreads

Amazon