“Old Habits Die Hard” A short-story from my upcoming Anthology. #RRBC #IARTG #WritingCommunity #WritersCommunity

Old Habits image

Hello and welcome to “Old Habits Die Hard” a new short story from my upcoming anthology “Glimpses Across the Barricades”

 

Old Habits Die Hard

From the upcoming collection: Glimpses Across the Barricades

By

Suzanne Burke 2019.

 

Cassie sucked in a deep lungful of nicotine and waited for the coughing to start. She shook her head in acknowledgment of her own weakness and abject stupidity, coughed as expected and finished the cigarette. She grinned at herself. Old habits die hard.

The thought caught her unprepared. Were they all simply old habits? Did she cling to things so desperately only because they were familiar? Was it a comfort to know ahead of time how each would respond in any given situation? If that knowledge gave us the tools to avoid the more painful outcomes, did that automatically presume that we’d use that wisdom?

Cassie was irritated with herself for even asking the questions.

She looked across at her iPhone for answers, already knowing she’d find none waiting.

When had he become just another old habit to cling to?

Cassie drew in a shaky breath as the memory of their last conversation played out vividly in her mind.

The 5th anniversary of their sad farewell was tomorrow. They’d been friends long before they became lovers. Their lives had collided the first time three decades earlier. Each acknowledging the chemistry that lit up a room whenever they were both present. They both smiled at each other and refused to allow that fire to burn. Life moved on and so did they.

Then twelve years ago fate had flung them together again.  What had been intended as a casual fling, a one-night stand, had become a passionate affair that neither of them had attempted to prevent from spiralling out of control.

She smiled briefly as a sweeter image tugged at her thoughts. The first weekend they’d run from reality, they’d danced on a rickety old pier in the rain. It was foolishly romantic and memorably perfect, and so was he. She could hear the music they’d played. “Nights in White Satin” by The Moody Blues had echoed out across the deep water of the bay. They’d made slow sweet love in an old fishing shed, and watched on in shared wonder as a violent summer storm came sweeping up from the south. It played out a symphony with shattering crescendo’s and their lovemaking met and matched its passion.

Cassie reached for the safety of the present moment and whispered into the darkness, “Stop it. Don’t do this. Think about something else.”

She stood then and moved about her apartment, only vaguely aware of straightening things on the mantle that didn’t need straightening, and moving books around in the bookcase that hadn’t required moving.

She walked across to the bar, poured herself a double shot of JD and sat back on her sofa and lit up her bong. The balcony beckoned and she moved into the cool night air and the silence, alternating the hits of good weed and the alcohol and waited for the calm she craved so desperately to envelop her.

Yet the memories continued to invade. She was too stoned to avoid them, and they came at her without pity for her vulnerable state of mind.

Her marriage of thirty years had limped to a final conclusion twelve years earlier. She’d initially clung to the memory of it, allowing her mind to paint much prettier pictures of what had actually happened; she’d clung to it long past its use-by date.

Her lover’s staunch Catholic upbringing prevented his long marriage from taking the same course. He never spoke of it. Cassie never asked the questions. It was so much easier to pretend that their relationship may someday lead to them being together.

The memories flowed now, but not in sequence. The laughter they’d shared echoed through time, and conversations that made sense only to the two of them etched themselves afresh in this place and in this moment.

A jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing. Pieces that she now went in search of.

They’d been fishing and hunting together often. They’d spent so many cold nights sleeping out under the stars, where their shared body warmth sustained them completely. They both loved the sounds of the night. Or the sounds of that long stretch of beach on the hottest summer days on record, swimming just after sunrise, cautiously waiting until the great white sharks had fed in deeper water off the reef. Cassie moaned as the sound of his deep voice surfaced unbidden, “We need to burn this into our memory. So, we can take it out and look at it when the world goes to hell.”

She brushed the moisture from her eyes. She’d never forgotten that moment. He had a way with words that echoed the romance of his soul.

The years had gone by so quickly. She watched and waited, wondering if she’d recognize the end if she saw it coming.

She saw it over five years ago. Phone calls that had begun every new day for years suddenly stopped coming, until they spoke only every couple of weeks. The visits went from a driving need to be together as often as they could steal the time, to a late-night knock on the door heralding a man who had only one need that remained to be met.

Cassie had tried so hard to ignore it, she floundered like a fish out of water on the sands of indecision.

She began wrapping her isolation around her like a comforting shawl.

The knock on her door at 3.30am on a hot summer’s morning had awoken her.

She knew instinctively who it was, and was angry well before she opened that door.

He stood there looking sheepish, then smiled. “Aren’t you gonna ask me to come in?”

Cassie stood aside without speaking and waved him across to the sofa.

He looked surprised as she stood there watching him, “What wrong, hon?”

“When was the last time we spoke?”

He looked away uncomfortably as he answered, “Guess it’s been a few weeks.”

“Try for three months!”

“Shit. Really? I’m sorry.”

“So, why are you here?”

He stood then, “You’re upset. I’ll call you later.”

She touched his arm. “I deserve better than this.”

For the first time in the thirty-plus years that she’d known him his dark hunter’s eyes filled with tears. She barely heard him as he struggled to speak, “Yes, honey. You do.”

She followed him across to the door and he turned and touched her cheek, then tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. He was shaking and his voice wavered as he spoke, “Goodbye, my love.”

Cassie felt the sobs tear through her, and she let them come.

He’d phoned after that, every couple of months and at ungodly hours. She’d register who was calling and declined the calls. The loneliness threatened to overwhelm her at first, she recalled using a telephone box to phone his work number just to hear his deep voice when he answered. She tortured herself like that constantly after they’d ended.

And now, what about now? She grimaced at her own question.

For now, she’d just get herself through the next anniversary.

And just before the alcohol lulled her into sleep on that anniversary morning her iPhone rang.

She was drunk, but not suicidal. She declined to take the call.

*

And for your enjoyment. “Nights In White Satin” by The Moody Blues.

 

#Valentine’sDay #ShortStory “Shall We Dance.” #RRBC #IARTG #Romance

love is ommortal valentines day image

“Shall We Dance”

By

Suzanne Burke.

 

Valentine’s day was looming again and Candace resisted the temptation to rip the month of February from the calendar hanging on her kitchen wall.

She needed no reminder of the celebration. For so many, it heralded a beginning, a step into the future with a love that they were certain would last a lifetime.

For her, it had been both the beginning and the end. Mitch had proposed on that long ago Valentine’s Day. He’d taken her dancing that night. He’d danced her around a room filled with uniformed Marines and as they watched on he’d dropped to his knees in the middle of the dance floor and proposed. They’d all cheered as Candace had given him her answer.

The sad-faced pastor and Lieutenent Colonel Brian Henderson had arrived at her door on February 14th almost a year ago.  Her Mitch wouldn’t be returning from Afghanistan. What followed was now etched forever in her memory. The hushed voices of their friends as they’d rallied around her to offer their understanding support and comfort. The wives who had hurriedly blessed their own lives, grateful that their own men were safe, for now.

Candace had searched everywhere for comfort. The inside of a bottle gave her only a temporary respite from the agony of his absence.

She and her Mitch had refused to discuss the possibility of him dying in the service of his country. That knowledge hovered unspoken on the peripheral of their lives. Giving it life was unthinkable. The future unimaginable without the enduring love they’d shared for almost fifteen precious years.

They’d already mourned and accepted the fact that they couldn’t have children of their own. Mitch had been eager to explore all the other avenues now available to childless couples. It had been her choice to remain childless. For her, Mitch would be the only love she’d ever need in her life. Her decision came back to haunt her now in the desperate solitude of her days and the eternal emptiness of her nights.

The new future danced in her nightmares. She’d stopped drinking when even the oblivion of alcohol had handed her no solace.

There had been no coffin proudly draped with their countries flag. No headstone to dignify his final resting place. A plaque on a wall was all that signified his passing. He was listed M.I.A and presumed dead along with two others from the Seal team he’d led with such utter devotion.

The bodies of his two team members had finally been located and identified. Candace had attended their funerals and wept along with their wives.

After shutting herself away for many months and drawing the increasing concern of her friends she’d finally begun to see a counselor. Yet as much as she’d understood the words he was saying, as much as her intelligence had accepted the innate wisdom of those words, she’d still steadfastly refused to accept the finality of Mitch’s death. How could he be gone when she could still hear his laughter? And on the long nights, as she lay in the darkness she’d smell the scent of his favorite aftershave waft through the room.

She’d reach for him in the darkness and moan his name, then cry for hours at the empty futility of her longing.

Candace dragged her mind back to the present. The sound of her cell phone had interrupted her thoughts several times in the past two days. She’d ignored the calls. Tomorrow was the anniversary.  She knew it would be folks ringing to check on her and offer up their kindness and willingness to help her in any way they could.  She’d hidden away from the repeated knocks on the front door that had been increasing in frequency. She couldn’t deal with the pats on the shoulder and the looks of sadness. Not now. Maybe not ever.

A car pulled up out front and a young Marine slid an envelope under the front door. Her hands shook as she picked it up, it was from the office of Lietenant Colonel Henderson and marked as extremely urgent.

Candace couldn’t bring herself to open it. She knew what it would be. This explained all the calls and the attempts to make contact. It could only be the acknowledgement that Mitch’s body had finally been recovered. Opening that envelope would leave her no choice at all but to believe he was gone.

It must wait till after Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  She gave herself permission to have this one last chance of disbelieving.

Candace sat on the sofa in the gathering darkness, she leaned her head back, closed her eyes and began humming Shall we Dance from the King and I. That was the marvelous music that Mitch had arranged to be played on the happiness fuelled Valentine’s night when he had proposed.

The memories swept her away for hours and she welcomed all of them. The day was beginning to dawn as she fell into a troubled sleep.  Today would be the final day before she was forced by facts to move on with her life.

Candace jumped with shock at the sound of someone pounding on the front door. She flicked a glimpse at her watch, “Jesus!  Hold on. Do you know it’s four o’clock in the morning!” She threw on her bathrobe and hurried across to the windows and pulled back the curtains. A base staff car with flags flying waited outside the house. “What the hell?”

Candace opened the door. The uniformed man stood alone in the semi-darkness. “Yes, Marine?”

“Candy.”

“That isn’t funny.”

“Candy, honey, it’s me.”

Nobody ever called her Candy … only … “Oh my God! Oh my God! Mitch?”

The man stepped into the light shining on the porch from the sitting room.

Mitch stood there holding himself erect with the aid of two canes.

“Darling, oh my darling, I knew it. I knew it. Hold me close before I believe that I’m dreaming again.”

The man leaned his walking aids against the wall and held out his arms. “It will be a little while before we can go dancing again, honey.”

Candy heard the hesitation. “Mitch, my dearest love. We now have forever to practice.”

All the explanations and questions could wait.

Their arms enfolded each other and they cried together in the joy of reunion.

Valentine’s day had now become their new beginning.

***

Valentine’s night. Five-years later.

Mitch Avery swept a bow to his wife and gave her his perpetually cheeky grin. “Shall we dance, m’lady?”

He held her in his arms and they moved in perfect unison around the dance-floor.

The poker faced Marines watching on cleared their throats as tears threatened, then they began to cheer.

Delighted whoops of joy from their two adopted six-year-old sons rang out as they ran across the dance-floor and threw themselves into the loving arms of their parents.

Candace had finally acknowledged that she and Mitch had more than enough love to share.

The future waited.

They walked forward as a family to greet it.

#

I have a further treat for you all. For those that know and Love “The King and I” Here is the original clip of ‘Shall we Dance” For those who may have never seen it I envy you the new experience.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “The Contract” by Gwen Plano & John W. Howell. @HowellWave @gmplano #RRBC #IARTG

Hello and welcome to my REVIEW of “The Contract” By Authors Gwendolyn M Plano and John W. Howell.

BOOK REVIEW THE CONTRACT COVER

Meet the authorsBOOK REVIEW IMAGE GWEN PLANOGwen M. Plano, aka Gwendolyn M. Plano, grew up in Southern California and spent most of her professional life in higher education. She taught and served as an administrator in colleges in Japan, New York, Connecticut, and California. Gwen’s academic background is in theology and counseling. Recently retired, she now lives in the Midwest with her husband and enjoys writing and travel.

Gwen’s first book is an acclaimed memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love. Her second book, The Contract between heaven and earth, is a thriller fiction novel, co-authored by John W. Howell. It is available now for pre-order. Author Jan Sikes read the manuscript and wrote that “The Contract is the perfect blending between the physical and unseen world with unbreakable bonds between human and spirit.”

And John W. Howell

John Howell Headshot

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Blurb

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

     Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Fast paced and action packed … this book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers.

I was both excited and curious to read a book co-authored by two authors who have earned my admiration for each of their books. Authors John W. Howell and Gwen Plano both have resoundingly earned five-star reviews from me for their individual works.

Their total diversity of writing styles and genres would have presented them with a challenge when undertaking to co-author this work.

I’m delighted with the outcome. They’ve met and exceeded my expectations.

This book goes beyond man’s earthly desires to dominate and control his environment. It takes you to the dark places fueled by man’s thirst for absolute power.

It shows you the joy of the heavenly plane, and the release from pain that it offers.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien a nurse are chosen by the divine council of heavenly elders to become their representations on earth.

The reader is taken on a thrill ride as the story develops, each of the characters are beautifully crafted and intensely visual, with wonderful dialogue moving the book along at a great pace. The character development is outstanding.

The relationship between Brad and Sarah develops over a relatively brief span of time, as they are thrown together by circumstance, and make the decision to stay together by choice. Their tender and developing love for one another is deftly handled, adding the depth of warmth that the story demands.

This work has been meticulously researched, and all references within it add to the utterly convincing terrorist threat, and the dark forces at work in the corridors of power, bringing into question the motives of players that may have been seen initially to have no hidden agenda whatsoever.

Fast paced and action packed … this book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers.

The conclusion was intense and utterly believable. These authors have amalgamated their individual skills into a first-rate work of fiction.

This work stands tall in celebration of good people willing to lay down their lives to protect and defend their country and the principles on which it was founded.

I found this to be a riveting reading experience, and one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

 

Book Review: “What Sara Saw.” by Stephen Geez @StephenGeez @FreshInkGroup #FrInkGrp #GeezWriter #ASMSG #RRBC

Hello and welcome to my Book Review of “What Sara Saw” by Stephen Geez.

BOOK REVIEW COVER WHAT SARA SAW by STEPHEN GEEZ

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephen Geez BIO

Stephen Geez earned his undergrad and grad degrees at the University of Michigan. A composer, TV producer, publisher, graphic artist, and writer, he focuses now on novels, essay collections, short fiction, authors’ how-to under the GeezWriter brand, and scripts. Founding member of the publisher Fresh Ink Group, he works with a wide variety of authors to produce their best possible work. Watch for his essays, stories, books, and blog posts at www.StephenGeez.com Find him and his author friends at www.FreshInkGroup.com. Send him a note from his member page or the Contact Form.

The author on TWITTER

 

BOOK REVIEW COVER WHAT SARA SAW by STEPHEN GEEZ

BOOK BLURB

The boy looked back.

A simple pencil drawing, this depiction of a child watching from the reeds of a country pond frustrates and angers Geoffrey, unexpected reactions that stir Phrekka’s lifelong passion for understanding the elusive power artists infuse in their creations.

Their only clue a “Sara” signature, the unemployed graphic designer persuades the enchanting Korean-American curator to help him discover more images by this enigmatic artist. From her world of privilege and mystical spiritualism to his of heartland farms and fundamentalist values, they will cross the country in search of the meaning in Sara’s sketches, an odyssey to divine one extraordinary person’s singular secret for touching people’s souls.

Staggering revelations entangle them with issues of mortality and faith, sexuality and family violence, obligation and responsibility, deception and truth. Only by looking close at the dark and profane will they have any chance of coming together to create a legacy more beautiful than either ever imagined.

What Sara Saw paints exquisitely vivid portraits of two young people who must follow their hearts to recapture that innocent grace long lost to the whims of circumstance and fate.

MY BOOK REVIEW: “WHAT SARA SAW” BY STEPHEN GEEZ

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A joyous and relentlessly honest work of memorable fiction.

Every once in a while an author comes along that taps into my vulnerability and causes me to willingly expose my jugular vein in doing so.

Stephen Geez has done this with What Sara Saw.

This book is a journey to be undertaken with no pre-conceived notions of comfort. For Stephen Geez dares us to go beyond the familiar. He invites us, via the characters of Geoffrey and Phrekka to take a chance, and in doing so he gifts us with characters rich in contradictions and as afraid of their own reactions to one another as any of us are when undertaking a journey into unknown or previously unexplored emotions.

I was re-introduced to the complexity, joy, and fear we mortals undertake when we first venture into the world of each other’s experiences. There is a depth of feeling and keen sense of awareness within these pages that touched me

What Sara Saw is both a joyous and relentlessly honest work of memorable fiction.

I recommend it to all that want their reading experiences to linger with them, and cause them to explore their own vulnerability.

 

 

 

 

All About The #RRBC Sponsors Blog Hop! Meet Jan Sikes @rijanjks “The Convict and the Rose.”

RRBC HOP JAN SIKES BANNER

Hello and Welcome to the first ever ALL ABOUT THE SPONSORS BLOG HOP!  These kind members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC) donated their support during the 2017 conference, in the way of gift card and Kindle e-book donations for our Gift Basket Raffle. They supported us and now we are showing our support of them by pushing their book(s).  

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed and after reading it, leave a review.  There are several books on tour today, so please visit the HOP’S main page to follow along.  

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the HOP’S main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!
RRBC HOP The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes (2)

Award winning Biographical/Fiction sequel to Flowers and Stone. Luke and Darlina find their love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.
When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five-year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger, and rebelliousness. He’s lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.
How has it come down to this? He’s spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dance halls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.
Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.
Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.
In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.
Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.
The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.
Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

My Review of “The Convict and the Rose”

MY REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. This book is one of them.

I have read and reviewed Flowers and Stone and was delighted to do both. The book lingered in my memory long after I completed reading.

Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. Flowers and Stone was one … and The Convict and The Rose has captured me again.

This journey towards growth and a deeper understanding is one very special reading experience.

The anguished struggle of two-fallible, and all too human people as life hands out its own deranged sense of justice is at times painful to read.

This book provoked anger, sadness and a deep sense of empathy in me. It in turn delighted me, and made me cry, and then continued to invade my senses long after the ending.

There is a depth of love between these two damaged souls that defies the limitations of time.

The drug abuse is a road many of us have taken in times of the darkest despair, the struggle to overcome it and move clearly distant is an epic one, as is the final understanding of the violent reactions of Luke to his imprisonment.

Life knocked these valiant people to the ground again and again.  BUT they didn’t stay down for the count.

It takes guts to do that … and to keep right on doing it …

We are permitted to glimpse inside their darkness and anguish …and grow with them as the love and faith that they share takes them from that darkness and into the warmth and the light.

A wonderful, moving and intensely memorable story of love!

The Convict and The Rose on Amazon.com

Contact Jan Sikes via:Email:  rijan21@gmail.com

Twitter:  @rijanjks

Facebook:  Author Jan Sikes Books

Blog/Websites:

Award Winning Author Jan Sikes

Writing & Music

Author:

This blog hop sponsored by:  4WillsPublishing
 Thank you so much for joining me here today! Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.

 

Book Review “The Convict and the Rose” By author Jan Sikes. #RRBC @rijanjks #RWISA #Inspirational Biographical Fiction.

Welcome to my second Book Review of 2018.

RRBC HOP The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes (2)

The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes.

Please meet Jan Sikes!

BIO PIC JAN SIKES

From the Author

Writing this book was a challenge since I wasn’t personally present in prison. However, I researched endlessly to come with accurate information and details to write each scene.

Since this is a true story, it is super important to me that the facts be correct. I enjoyed doing the research, because that meant digging through boxes of letters, volumes of writings and remembering stories I was told.

During this research, I ran across some song lyrics that I’d never seen before. I’d never heard Rick Sikes sing them or mention them, but they were so powerful, I knew I had to get someone to put music to them. That person turned out to be Jamie Richards and the day we went into the studio was pure magic. He completely captured the emotion in the song, Forty Foot High.

This book is the sequel to my first book, Flowers and Stone.

The 3rd Book “Home at Last” is now available.

 

BOOK COVER THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE JAN SIKES

BLURB

Award winning Biographical/Fiction sequel to Flowers and Stone. Luke and Darlina find their love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.

When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five-year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger, and rebelliousness. He’s lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.

How has it come down to this? He’s spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dance halls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.

Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.

Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.

In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.
Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.

The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.
Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

MY REVIEW: Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. This book is one of them.

I have read and reviewed Flowers and Stone and was delighted to do both. The book lingered in my memory long after I completed reading.

Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. Flowers and Stone was one … and The Convict and The Rose has captured me again.

This journey towards growth and a deeper understanding is one very special reading experience.

The anguished struggle of two-fallible, and all too human people as life hands out its own deranged sense of justice is at times painful to read.

This book provoked anger, sadness and a deep sense of empathy in me. It in turn delighted me, and made me cry, and then continued to invade my senses long after the ending.

There is a depth of love between these two damaged souls that defies the limitations of time.

The drug abuse is a road many of us have taken in times of the darkest despair, the struggle to overcome it and move clearly distant is an epic one, as is the final understanding of the violent reactions of Luke to his imprisonment.

Life knocked these valiant people to the ground again and again.  BUT they didn’t stay down for the count.

It takes guts to do that … and to keep right on doing it …

We are permitted to glimpse inside their darkness and anguish …and grow with them as the love and faith that they share takes them from that darkness and into the warmth and the light.

A wonderful, moving and intensely memorable story of love!

The Convict and The Rose on Amazon.com

Book 1. Flowers and Stone on Amazon.com

Book 3. Home at Last on Amazon.com

Contact via:

Email:  rijan21@gmail.com

Twitter:  @rijanjks

Facebook:  Author Jan Sikes Books

Blog/Websites:

Award Winning Author Jan Sikes

Writing & Music

My TOP 5 Fiction Reads of 2017. #RRBC #AuthorShout #IARTG #IndBk

Hello and welcome to My TOP 5 Fiction Reads of 2017.

 

TRUMPET FOR BEST READS LOUIS ARMSTRONG
When Only The BEST will do.

 

It was a difficult task selecting My Favorite Reads of 2017. I have read and reviewed many books in this rapidly disappearing year. I select my reads from diverse places. Yet it doesn’t surprise me at all that those I rank in my top ten Indie-books of the year are all to be found at Rave Reviews Book Club. Why? Because the standard of excellence of each book is outstanding.  That is what I’ve come to expect with each book I purchase. The reviews are always honest and constructive.

What is the X Factor for me? Ah! For me it’s that shining place outside of myself, a wonderous reality that some authors take you to as willing captives. A place where the story has me so utterly committed to it that putting it down would be followed by a rebellion against my need for sleep.

It’s when an authors words linger in your memory in a voice you could clearly hear as their characters voices.

It’s those pristine moments when you find yourself invested in the outcome of the journey.

It’s when ALL of your senses become heightened, it’s when the pleasure of reading it comes to an end … and you feel richer for having read it … yet bereaved by its absence.

That’s MY X-Factor.

I will be listing my TOP-FIVE-READS separated into Fiction and Non-Fiction.  (Non Fiction FAVORITES Will be listed here TOMORROW.)

TODAY I SHARE MY TOP FIVE SELECTION FOR WORKS OF FICTION

Counting down from

NUMBER 5. 

 “OUR JUSTICE” Book 3 of the JOHN CANNON TRILOGY. BY JOHN W.HOWELL @howellwave.

COVER OUR JUSTICE BY JOHN W HOWELL

BLURB …The terrorist leader and financier Matt Jacobs figured out a plan to eliminate the President. He is relying on John Cannon’s stature as a hero to help him carry it off. John finds himself walking the fine line of pretending to help Matt while trying to figure out a countermeasure to the plan.
The third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy brings together two strong wills for a showdown. The question to be answered is who will feel the satisfaction that the achievement of justice delivers? John, Matt or neither?

MY REVIEW HEADLINE  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A Riveting Action-Packed Thriller.

A Brief excerpt from my review  …

“Author John W. Howell doesn’t disappoint on any level.

His characterizations are cleverly subtle, allowing the reader to visualize the potent scenes without overwhelming them with too much description. This author commands the attention with a clear gift at plot structure, and superb pacing that will leave you immensely satisfied as Our Justice reaches its unpredictable and shattering climax.

I believe this talented author has another book in a totally different genre coming out soon.

I will be waiting eagerly to read it.

THAT BOOK is ‘Circumstances of Childhood” available now.

PURCHASE ANY OF JOHN HOWELL’S Books here on AMAZON.com

All works by JOHN W. HOWELL on AMAZON.COM

NUMBER 4.

“FINDING BILLY BATTLES”

An Account of Peril, Transgression, and Redemption (Volume 1)

  by RONALD E YATES. @jhawker69

Cover Billy Battles by Ron Yates

BLURB:

Western Kansas 1860 Billy Battles is born on a remote homestead just off the storied Santa Fe Trail More than one hundred years later a great grandson inherits two trunks filled with Billy s personal effects Also in those trunks are several startling journals that chronicle an astonishing life that until now was obscured by the murky haze of time and Billy s deep rooted desire for secrecy The journals tell of a man both haunted and hunted who in a desperate search for peace and redemption journeys far from the untamed American West to the Far East South America and Europe They meticulously describe Billy s interaction with a wide assortment of men and women some legendary a few iniquitous and many lost to history They also recount his participation in such cataclysmic events as the Spanish American War turmoil in French Indochina and violent revolutions in Mexico and South America Complying with Billy s last request the great grandson assembles the journals into a compelling trilogy that reveals a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control but who nevertheless manages to persevere for ten decades When a great grandson inherits two aging trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great grandfather he sets out to fulfill his great grandfather s last request to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure violence and tragedy The great grandfather s name is Billy Battles a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control For much of his 100 year long life Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants His great grandson is about to change that As he works his way through the aging journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great grandfather a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable East.

MY HEADLINE FOR REVIEW… 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A marvelous book to be treasured and read over-and-over again.  

An EXCERPT FROM MY REVIEW;

“This talented author has crafted characters that engage the reader immediately, we are willingly taken into each scene, we see the characters there, all breathing, moving … and sounding a particular way, the visualizations in this book are superb.

Character depth connects us immediately to the roguish and beautifully layered persona of Billy Battles. The man is revealed with great skill throughout the book. Peel back those layers and recognize the man that dwelt beneath that skin.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey into the old west and those well-known characters that greeted me there.

This marvelous blend of fact and fiction is a book to be treasured and read, over-and-over again.

NUMBER 3. “JAZZ BABY” by BEEM WEEKS. @beemweeks

JAZZ BABY BOOK COVER

BLURB:

While all of Mississippi bakes in the scorching summer of 1925, sudden orphanhood wraps its icy embrace around Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten, a pretty young teen.

Taken in by an aunt bent on ridding herself of this unexpected burden, Baby Teegarten plots her escape using the only means at her disposal: a voice that brings church ladies to righteous tears, and makes both angels and devils take notice. “I’m going to New York City to sing jazz,” she brags to anybody who’ll listen. But the Big Apple–well, it’s an awful long way from that dry patch of earth she’d always called home.

So when the smoky stages of New Orleans speakeasies give a whistle, offering all sorts of shortcuts, Emily Ann soon learns it’s the whorehouses and opium dens that can sidetrack a girl and dim a spotlight…and knowing the wrong people can snuff it out.

Jazz Baby just wants to sing–not fight to stay alive.

MY BOOK REVIEW HEADLINE 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A beautifully written and perfectly captured slice of time.

An EXCERPT from my REVIEW.

What happens when an author weaves a timeline with such devotion to detail that the reader can smell, hear, taste and feel the ambience? Jazz Baby is what happens. Author Beem Weeks seduces the reader with the perfection of both the dialogue and the dawning of an age that will live on as long as memory exists.

His characterization of Baby Teegarten is utterly perfect, her determination to succeed in a sleaze filled world is based on her absolute certainty that she has a voice that will move people, a voice that will transform the darkest of nights into glistening, gleaming candles of perfection.

PURCHASE JAZZ BABY ON AMAZON.COM

 

NUMBER 2. “THE GLADE” By HARMONY KENT.@harmony_kent

BOOK COVER THE GLADE BY HARMONY KENT

BLURB:

“Readers who like to curl up during the long winter evenings and feel the delicious chill of fear running up and down their spines need only turn to The Glade to have all their expectations fulfilled.

The Glade is a horror story in the mould of Stephen King, and rendered the more so by its faint echoes of Pet Cemetery and the even stronger resonance of the pervasive malignancy of It.”—Review by Brian O’Hare

This gripping, edge-of-your-seat mystery/thriller will have you thinking twice about booking that idyllic cottage in the country. Nothing in this woodland paradise within the Forest of Dean is what it seems.

The Wenstrops have it all: health, wealth, and happiness. Until everything falls apart. Helen gets arrested for murder, and yet is either unable or unwilling to give a defence. During her detention, vital evidence goes missing and tensions run high.

Meanwhile, in the woods, malignant forces gather power.

This sensational second novel by acclaimed author Harmony Kent will have you alternately laughing, crying, and gripping the edge of your seat as this roller-coaster ride of a plot unfolds. It will keep you guessing through its many twists and turns, and hijack your attention right up until you turn the final page. This book has it all: murder, intrigue, the supernatural, a broken marriage, a love affair, courage against impossible odds, suspense, and high drama.

“Expertly written, the book keeps you guessing at every turn. What can I say? You really have to read this book … if you’re brave enough!”—Review by Fantasy Queen

The Glade is an IndieB.R.A.G.Medallion honoree, and an Official Selection for the New Apple Book Awards 2015.

Praise for Harmony Kent:

“Kent gives the reader mystery, intrigue, sex, action and characters risking their lives for a greater good. Kent’s writing is an immersive experience.” T. Dewhirst (Rabid Reviews)

“With a very contemporary voice, Ms. Kent has found a place in this genre as she easily entertains and captures the reader…” J. Malinoski

“Kent…is a master of her craft. There is magic in her writing.” J. Brooke

MY REVIEW HEADLINE

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Don’t miss this unforgettably terrifying walk on the edge of sanity.

An EXCERPT FROM MY REVIEW

I find that reviewing the Paranormal genre presents the reader with a challenge. To negotiate a pathway that navigates between what the human brain can perceive as possible, and what that same brain will render improbable.

I look for that ‘improbability’ factor to be challenged when I read Paranormal.

Author Harmony Kent has nailed that challenge, and she has done it beautifully with a style and pacing that caught me up instantly. Her intensely visual descriptive ability caused me to shiver, as ‘The Glade’ became palpably, demonstrably alive.

The author takes you to the shadowy places that permeate nightmares. This author has an empathy with, and an understanding of, the human psyche, and more specifically those unspoken things we as a species all fear.

PURCHASE BOOK BY HARMONY KENT ON AMAZON.COM

NUMBER 1

“One Dyke Cozy” By Rhani D’Chae @rhanidchae

BOOK REVIEW COVER RHANI D'CHAE ONE DYKE COZY

BLURB

People come into our lives for a day, a season, or a reason…
“Shy taught me to fight like a champion, love like a poet, & live like it was my last day on earth.”

One Dyke Cozy touches on the lives of two girls, Gabby and Shy, from their first meeting as children to Shy’s untimely death.

This novel contains profanity and adult situations.

MY REVIEW

 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  One Dyke Cozy has to be in my top 5 of books read in 2017.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this author with her works ‘Shadow of The Drill” and “A Perilous Thirst” … in consequence I was excited to find this gem waiting to be read.

Have you ever read a book that touches every exposed nerve of raw emotion? That’s precisely how ‘One Dyke Cozy’ affected me.

The wonderful and at times harsh moments of honesty shine between these beautifully written pages. Author Rhani D’Chae has a rare gift of perception, a gift that enables her to dig deeply into her characters subconscious and elevate that character to a place where they become as real to the reader as their own reflection in a mirror.

Shy is a gay female, learning to survive in a world that still whispered the word gay behind closed doors, and then only in selected company. The existence of gays was barely acknowledged by people afraid that to allow these human beings their right to be different would somehow contaminate their closeted perceptions of a ‘pristine’ world.

Gabby is a child of that pristine existence, and her friendship with Shy will take her to places where her loyalty to her friend will be tested again and again. The author holds your heart in her hands with every word that she pens.

If you seek a book that will reach deep inside you, that will both touch and confound you, then you will find that right here.

One Dyke Cozy has to be in my top 5 of books read in 2017.

Do yourself a favor … read it, it will stay in your memory for a long time to come.

***

Contact Via:

PURCHASE “ONE DYKE COZY” on AMAZON.COM

Email:  RhaniDChae@gmail.com

Twitter:  @RhaniDChae & @RhaniDChaeBooks

Facebook:  https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthor/

Tomorrow December 30th I will feature My TOP 5 NON-FICTION reads of 2017.

I do hope you’ll join me.