Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens

Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens

About the Book:

Best Foot Forward is the first book in the “Liberty Lawrence” series by Bea Stevens. Liberty, or “Libby” as most of her friends call her, is the main character of this series of books. In Best Foot Forward, Libby lives and works in a large hotel. The story is told in her point of view in first person. Libby experiences many mishaps in the story and finds herself in the middle of a mystery. She is also obsessed with shoes, especially designer shoes.

My Review:

I’m not a fan of books written in first person. However, for Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens, the first person point of view works well, both for Ms. Stevens’ writing style, and Liberty Lawrence’s personality and the story itself, as it adds to the quirkiness of the character.

Best Foot Forward is a unique mystery story, as it is a combination of a romantic comedy and cozy mystery. In the beginning of the story, I found Libby to be a bit self-absorbed and prone to self-pity. However, as the story moved along and Libby’s character developed, she became quite endearing as she suffered embarrassing mishaps, and showed a sensitivity and empathy toward other characters who were going through personal difficulties.

The story was believable and it was easy to relate to Libby’s feelings in regard to her love life. I found myself smiling at some of Libby’s mishaps and thoughts. She also warmed my heart in the care, concern, and help she offered to others. I also enjoyed the relationship that has begun between Libby and Police Sergeant James Harper.

The one thing I think was a bit overboard was the profanity. I’m not a fan of books with profanity, and often, the author wrote Libby’s thoughts and ended them with an exclaimed profane word, which I didn’t feel was necessary or added anything to the story. However, I am thankful that the author tended to stick to mild profane words, but still would have preferred fewer of them.

This book was a fun, entertaining read.

I give this book 4 stars.

Bell Hammers: The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt by Lancelot Schaubert

Bell Hammers: The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt, Illinois by [Lancelot Schaubert]

Bell Hammers: The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt

by Lancelot Schaubert

About the Book:

Remmy and Beth grow up in Bellhammer, Illinois during the time that oil and coal companies rob the land, stripping if of everything that made it paradise.

Remmy’s Grandad teaches him how to pull outrageous pranks on his neighbors, friends, and foes. Under his Daddy’s guidance he starts a construction company, which depends on contracts from the Texarco Oil Company.

Remmy has a fascination with “Robin Hood”, castles, and a round table. He builds his on band of “merry men” carpenters.

Then a faulty Texarco Oil derrick falls down on their house and poisons their neighborhood’s well.

When Texarco refuses to take responsibility for the poisoned well, Remmy hatches a plan that results in one prank after another, until he and his merry men pull the “world’s greatest prank”.

My Review:

Remmy is an endearing character, whom I cared about and rooted for from the very beginning of the story. His quirky personality was often humorous.

Lancelot Schaubert’s writing took the reader into the past and spanned the life of Remmy in Bellhammer, Illinois from 1941 through 2012. His writing brought clear feelings of nostalgia to the reader. Remmy and Beth took the reader back to simpler times that showed no times were without their troubles. The author did an excellent job capturing the dialogue of the time and area as well.

Remmy also often spoke to the “Good Lord” in ways that sometimes seemed to mock God. He also heard the “Good Lord” speak to him, and he didn’t always listen to or properly interpret what the “Good Lord” told him to do, just like any flawed, sinful human being. Remmy learned many lessons throughout the book and his life.

Lancelot Schaubert did an excellent job portraying a neighborhood’s struggle with big companies in another place and time. He made it relatable and entertaining. His sharing of true events, and maybe some familial myths, stir feelings of nostalgia, comradery, sympathy, and empathy, even as they occasionally make the reader laugh out loud.

This story does include profanity and crude humor as well. However, if you are a history buff or a person who enjoys cheering for the underdog, I recommend you read Bell Hammers.

I give this story 4 stars.

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

I’ve been very busy trying to finish the revisions on my upcoming novel and working my way through finishing a Flash Fiction writing course and Ted Dekker’s Creative Way novel writing course. I’m also helping writers by reading and reviewing their books. Reviews are so important in helping writers to sell their books.

That’s why when Bea Stevens let me know she’s offering her book for Free for the next four days (ebook only), I decided to put this here for all of you to see. My Thursday posts are all about writing and helping other writers. I hope some of you will take advantage of Bea’s Free book, read it, and write a review for her.

Here’s the link for it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Foot-Forward-Liberty-Lawrence-ebook/dp/B07913RZBX/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Bea+Stevens&qid=1602703293&s=books&sr=1-1

Timeless Tuesday — History Related to my Novel

Today I want to talk about ladies’ hairstyles of the 1860s. In the 1860s, ladies wore their hair in plaits (braided) or rolls, as you can see from the photos above. Often they combined plaits and rolls, twisting and weaving plaits and rolls together.

Many ladies preferred the rolls at the nape of their neck or at the sides of their faces. Both plaits and rolls were often made of false hair. A plait was often used to hold the roll at the nape of the neck.

Some ladies liked to keep things simple and chose to wear their plaits or rolls plain, but some ladies liked to add combs, ribbons, lace, feathers, or beads.

In my novel, you will read that one of my female characters often wore her hair in rolls because she had naturally curly hair that fell in the appearance of rolls with little effort. Another of my female characters usually wears her hair in plaits (braids).

The photos for this post are from Google images, one from Pinterest, and the other from Victorian Magazine.

Information for this blog was found at https://bust.com/style/19298-victorian-hairstyles.html

By Design by J. Boykin Baker

By Design: A Love Story with a Twist by [J Boykin Baker]

I am a book reviewer and was given a free ebook copy of this book for my honest review.

About the Book

Anne’s mother passed away when Anne was young, but her mother left her a very valuable legacy.

When Anne is grown, she becomes an interior designer and begins to do quite well, then moves to Atlanta to take a job at a very high profile interior design firm. Her plate fills quickly with jobs, one of which is for a surgical practice where Dr. Brad Young, Jr. is a partner with his father.

When Brad meets Anne, he is taken by her beauty and asks her out. However, Brad has a reputation as a player, and several people warn Anne about Brad’s reputation. But Anne feels the chemistry between them and continues to see Brad, until an emotional weekend creates a problem that Brad isn’t sure he can overcome to make this relationship work.

My Review

I found the Introduction to be very “telling”. It didn’t draw me in and engage me in the story, but I continued to read to find out what would happen to Anne as the story truly began. I was pleasantly surprised that the story itself, engaged me from the start and drew me in to Anne’s life.

As I read the story, I found value in the Introduction and knew why the author had included it. It adds important information about Anne and why Anne is who she is.

I enjoyed the relationships between Anne and all of the characters she interacted with in the story. Anne had a strong influence on others she met and interacted with. Then she met Brad, and her affect on him was strong and unexpected for him. He had never met anyone like her before and he wasn’t sure he liked how she made him feel and think.

I really liked the interaction between Brad and Anne. They had a chemistry, but there were obstacles between them. As I continued to follow their story, I found their way of interacting, as they tried to figure out if their relationship could be long term, delightful. The way they teased one another and spoke to one another of their thoughts and feelings were all engaging and realistic. Their banter often made me laugh. The scene where Anne finally lost her temper with Brad, as well as Brad’s reaction to the things she said in anger, also made me laugh. At the same time, I still hoped they would work things out.

J. Boykin Baker created deep characters and gave them real life struggles, one of which, though it still faces some young people in today’s world, seems antiquated, but Ms. Baker did a wonderful job showing the importance of the struggle and I was impressed with Anne’s strength even in the face of temptation.

I loved the fact that the story doesn’t end in the typical way of most romance stories, but Ms. Baker resolves the struggles in a very satisfying manner and takes the ending a step further.

I love sweet romance stories. They are one of my favorite genres, and I especially love a sweet romance story that dares to step out of the normal romance formula. Therefore, By Design by J. Boykin Baker and Anne and Brad will live in my heart and on my “favorites” list for a long time.

I was also thrilled to find that Ms. Baker continues the story of Anne and Brad in two more books and I can’t wait to read them.

I give By Design (Book 1) by J. Boykin Baker 5 stars.

88 Guys for Coffee by Diane Solomon

About the Book

This book covered a new-to-me topic: online dating. I know there are online dating sites, and I know one or two people who found their now-spouse on such a site, but I have never read a book about someone’s experience with online dating. It appealed to my sense of curiosity, which is why I decided to read it.

The Foreword makes it clear that this is a somewhat fictionalized account of the author’s online dating experience.

My Review

I’m usually not a fan of stories told in first person, but Diane Solomon did a good job writing this story in first person, and her style was very conversational. Therefore, the story was fun and easy to read.

The main character, Laura, takes this emotional roller-coaster ride, which causes her to question her self-worth and effects her self-confidence. However, she never lets go of hope.

As the reader, I couldn’t help but sometimes feel sorry for Laura and sometimes wonder why on earth she kept meeting guy after guy. Her determination kept me rooting for her.

Some of the men Laura met for coffee made me cringe, some made me laugh, and others shocked me, but every one of them was a believable character.

Some of the dating encounters seemed a bit too similar or repetitious.

If world view is of interest or concern to you as a reader, the world view in this book seemed to bounce around and not really come across clearly. Sometimes the main character’s world view seemed to be very secular, sometimes new age, and nearer the end, approached a Christian world view. Maybe Ms. Solomon did this intentionally to show a growth in the character of Laura, as she made her way through a period of several years of online dating, wading through disappointment after disappointment.

All in all, this book was very interesting. I enjoyed the conversational style. I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, the tips and advice that Laura’s two best friends offered her. The story also included some humor along the way. It was definitely a unique story, which, in my opinion, makes it worth the read.

I give this story 4 stars.

Flash Fiction Friday: All You Need is Jesus

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Note: Today’s Flash Fiction Story is a Special Edition. This story was written by my youngest son.

All You Need is Jesus

by Z. Barr

A seemingly never ending column of men stood before Archangel Gabriel, who stood at the pass to the wide open battlefield. Gabriel saw men wearing armor and swords and carrying shields. The men passed Gabriel, trudging with the weight of their armor.

As a new group of men passed Gabriel, a new sight caught his attention. “Why do you carry guns?”

One of the men hefted his gun. “These are what we need to eliminate the enemy, faster than those swords and shields. Those are but toys.”

The other men laughed.

Gabriel shrugged. Only he knew what the enemy was and what it took to destroy the enemy on the battlefield. He said, “You may pass.” He watched as the men, still, chuckling, went through the pass.

At the end of the line, walking all by himself, was a young man dressed in torn clothing. The young man stopped before Gabriel.

“You don’t have weaponry,” Gabriel mused.

“I don’t know how to use one. But Jesus called me, and so I … I came.” The young man lowered his head. “I guess I am here just to pull the dead from the battlefield. But I couldn’t ignore Him. I had to come.”

As the young man talked, Gabriel noticed that when the man moved, something on him sparkled like a star.

“But all I have is Jesus.”

Then Gabriel saw it—the young man wore armor. It was inconspicuous, but he was wearing spiritual armor. “Lad,” Gabriel said, “you may pass. All you need is Jesus. Go forth.”

The young man left Gabriel.

* * *

On the battlefield, the men stood in lines. They waited and waited, but there was no sign of the enemy.

“There is no enemy! We’ve been tricked!” These words rippled through the lines.

Gabriel watched the young man. He stood alone, staring off into the distance. Gabriel’s eyes moved to the young man’s line of sight, where blackness met the horizon, rapidly approaching.

The young man shouted, “The demons are coming! That is the enemy!”

The other men looked but saw nothing except the Archangel and the lad.

“What you men brought won’t work against demons,” the young man said. “We need to pray.” With that, the young man dropped to his knees. His spiritual armor started to glow and become more visible. His sword of prayer materialized in his hands.

Several minutes passed and the young man remained on his knees, praying.

Now the demons were closer than ever. Suddenly, an amazing thing happened. Blue tongues of fire fell from the sky devouring the demons. Blue flame formed a halo around the young man.

The battle was won, with the prayer of just one man.

Only one man passed the test.

He had faith … in his Saviour.

Flash Fiction Friday: Someone to Lead Them

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Someone to Lead Them

by Kelly F. Barr

The children loved to sit in the story circle across the fire from Marta, the storyteller, just after dark and listen as she wove stories—scary stories, funny stories, stories of the history of Pattock, their village, and sometimes, stories of things to come. Tonight as the children gathered round, the night air was cool and the moon was full. Many adults from the village—those with children and those without children—gathered outside the story circle.

Dobbin sat on the left side of the circle, close to Marta’s spot, so he could watch her face as she spoke without having to look through the fire’s dancing flames. His heart pounded in anticipation as he wondered what type of story she would tell tonight.

The door of her cottage opened and Tetra carried Marta’s worn wooden chair out. Marta followed, the hem of her black skirt dragging on the ground, her soft leather moccasins making a shuffling sound as she sloughed along. She flopped onto her chair and drew her tattered gray wool shawl up over her shoulders as her silver hair and black eyes glimmered in the firelight.

When Marta spoke, her voice crackled like the sticks that first caught flame when Tetra started the fire, “Good evening children. Tonight’s story is a special one. One of great importance.”

Her eyes met Dobbin’s as she spoke the words ‘of great importance’ and Dobbin’s heart skipped a beat. Could tonight’s story be one of things to come? Could it have something to do with him? He sat up straight, eyes glued to Marta, ears straining so as not to miss a single word.

“From our brave young men, a great leader will arise and several will follow him. He will lead this group to seek help from those willing to come from Sektur, the village to the east.

Several children gasped. Marta’s story held Dobbin in rapt attention. Marta swung her head and locked eyes with him. “Dobbin, you will be the one to lead Olan, Gad, Bartok, Jinya, Prayjes, and Zeficleez. You must be quick as the trouble will come from the southeast, swift on your heels during your return journey.”

The six young men Marta had named stood and moved to sit around Dobbin. The six each reached a hand to touch one of Dobbin’s shoulders—their pledge to follow him. Dobbin nodded, the weight of responsibility settling on his shoulders.

That night, Dobbin tossed and turned. This was his chance to prove he could be a good leader, and for those going with him, to show they were now truly men.

The next day residents of Pattock busied themselves preparing for the upcoming war as Dobbin and his followers sharpened their weapons, packed food and other supplies for their journey. They must be prepared for the possibility of the Hestanauts ambushing them as they journeyed back to Pattock. When all was ready, they gathered in the center of the village and Dobbin led them out.

As Dobbin and his men entered Sektur two days later, heads turned and people stepped out of doors to see the group. Soon many were gathered, and a white-haired old man wearing a white robe, stepped forward. “Who are you and why are you here?”

Dobbin answered, “Sir, we are from Pattock. Marta has seen a vision that the Hestanauts will attack and sent us to seek aid from you, our allies. We need willing Sekturians to travel back to Pattock with us to help defend our village. Marta says the Hestanauts will be swift on our heels during our return journey.”

Rumblings rose from the crowd around the old man. He raised his hand and the people fell silent. “Prepare the evening meal. After we eat, I will ask for volunteers to help our neighbors in Pattock.” He turned back to Dobbin and his men. “Come. You will sit with me in my hut until the food is prepared. I am Kerrick, leader of this village. You can share your plans with me.”

About an hour later, they followed Kerrick to a long house where they dined on roasted meat and vegetables. When their plates were empty, Kerrick rose. He spoke to a young man, “Go and bring the rest of the village men here.”

A few minutes later, a large number of strong, fit looking men filled the long house. The old man raised his hand and the room grew quiet. “Sektur and Pattock have been allies for many years. Some of our sons have married their daughters and some of their sons have married our daughters. If the Hestanauts were to attack us, the men of Pattock would come to our aid.” He paused, allowing his words to sink in. “How many of you will help defend Pattock against the evil Hestanauts?”

Dobbin held his breath and the muscles in his neck and shoulders tightened with tension as they waited. Two men stepped forward, then three more, then five. Soon, there were two hundred men standing in a line before Kerrick.

Kerrick smiled. “Good. This is good.” He waved his hand, drawing Dobbin to him. Dobbin quickly stepped up beside Kerrick, who placed a hand on Dobbin’s shoulder and faced the Sekturians standing before them. “This is Dobbin. He will lead you to Pattock. Prepare and get some sleep.” He turned to Dobbin and his men. “You can bed down in here.”

* * * * *

In the gray light of early morning 200 Sekturian warriors entered the long house.  Dobbin called Bartok to him and approached the man who seemed to be in charge. He said, “My name is Roedan. I am a Sekturian leader.”

Dobbin charged Bartok and Roedan with leading the party, while he, Jinya and Olan formed the rear guard, watching for Hestanauts.

As they began ascending a rise, Bartok and Roedan heard Dobbin cry, “Hestanauts!”

The front half of the group hastened their pace, while the rear half fell back to battle the Hestanauts.

The Hestanauts–large meaty men–hit hard with clubs. But as Dobbin, Jinya, Olan, and several Sekturians shot arrows, numerous Hestanauts fell. When they fell, the Hestanauts began to retreat.

Dobbin and his men turned and raced to catch up with the group Bartok and Roedan led. But the Hestanauts weren’t finished yet. They ran toward Dobbin and the others, axes in their hands. With their long, muscular legs, they gained on Dobbin and the others quickly. Dobbin’s heart leapt into his throat as several Sekturians and Gad fell around him. The battle yells of the Hestanauts combined with the screams of pain from the injured were deafening.

The Hestanauts began losing steam. “Run!” Dobbin ordered his men as he began to run with all his might.

Soon Dobbin’s group had widened the gap, and Dobbin looked back over his shoulder to see the Hestanauts halted. Many were bent with hands on their knees, sucking in deep breaths.

When Dobbin led the group of men into Pattock, the village cheered. With the announcement of losses, the village grew solemn. Tetra clapped Dobbin on the shoulder. “Well done.”

The Ravenstone: The Twain by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey

The Ravenstone : The Twain by [Diane Solomon, Mark Carey]

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book for my honest review.

About the Book:

The Ravenstone Part 2: The Twain by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey is the second book in their “Ravenstone” series. It is a fantasy story. The two main characters, thirteen-year-old twins, Nadia and Aidan must time travel several times throughout this book in order to do what they have been called to do. They must face dangers and an enemy they thought they would never see again.

My Review:

The Ravenstone Part 2: The Twain was even more exciting than the first book. This time there is more adventure and danger for Nadia and Aidan. A couple situations the twins find themselves in had this reader on the edge of her seat. There is a very fascinating chapter that involves a unique twist. The twist includes a dilemma that disturbs Nadia until closer to the end of the book, where another character explains what really happened to Nadia. I really liked that character’s explanation. The story is very well written, although I did notice more errors in this book that should have been caught by an editor than in the first book, there were not so many as to distract me from the story. Ms. Solomon and Mr. Carey did an excellent job creating tension and suspense in this story. They also created some interesting characters for Nadia and Aidan to interact with in the story.

This story addressed natural disasters and global warming in a unique, interesting, and plausible way. It was a fun and exciting read.

The story held my interest and kept me turning pages, especially in the last third of the book when the tension and suspense were at their peak. Before reaching the end of the book, I found myself hoping there would be another adventure for Nadia and Aidan in the not too distant future, and the ending definitely points to that possibility.

I highly recommend this book, as well as the first “Ravenstone” book, for anyone who enjoys fantasy stories that include time travel, suspense, and adventure. Also, both books are clean reads and are fitting for ages 10 through adult. I would also recommend them as family read alouds.

I give this book 5 stars.