The Firefly Witch by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview

The Firefly Witch (Bold Women of the 17th Century Series Book 1) by Amanda Hughes

The Firefly Witch by Amanda HughesBook Blurb:

For readers who like historical fiction with a bit of a love story and fantasy.
It is a life of enchantment in a world gone mad with hatred. The daughter of Puritans in 17th Century Massachusetts, Circe Swinburne must hide her pagan dreams and strong ties to Mother Earth or be banished forever. Fortunately, she finds solace in the serenity and magic of the Great Marsh near her home. But visions of fireflies soon begin to haunt her, flooding her with riddles. At last, the tiny creatures guide her to a group of people living in secret, practicing the ancient ways of the Celts in the backwoods of the colony. She lives in peace with them until one day a mysterious man appears with an unusual map. Circe is increasingly drawn to this dark and enigmatic Spaniard, and together they fight against the malicious witch hunters who are determined to execute her new family and destroy her way of life forever.

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.”

–H.L. Mencken

My Review:

Azubah Craft, 12-year-old daughter of Puritan millers of Ipswich, Plum River, Massachusetts Bay Colony, has very strange dreams as well as disembodied messages delivered to her ears along with apparitions, but she is careful not to share. She is part of a strict Puritan family that fled the UK to avoid religious persecution and they are extremely careful to observe their spiritual tenets. So she is not allowed to exhibit happiness, laugh, skip, play like a child. Further, she has flaming red hair that sets her apart. Her grandfather lovingly calls her Firefly.

The Firefly Witch by Amanda HughesBut in 1662, she should be serious, pious, and obedient. She does, however, have another extraordinary gift that is well known–she can weave gorgeous fabrics, working her loom, and her eye for embroidery is unmatched. She longs to create brilliantly colored fabrics but is not allowed, forced instead to stay with the earthen brown tones of the community cloaks.

She has an aunt and uncle nearby, as well as the waterwheel directed by her beloved grandfather for use of the local farmers. Life in the colony is a day to day struggle against weather, disease, and Indians and her friend, Bullfrog, lost his parents to the latter. He now survives on his own in the marshes, but is said supported with food from time to time by some they call The Hooded Ones.

After the village is again attacked by Indians, Azubah flees into the marshes but is hit by an arrow. She wakes in the home of her real father, part of The Hooded Ones, who has been watching her for some time. Azubah is Circe Swinbaine, part of the Derwydds–Celtic people who also fled persecution. They have changed somewhat their practices of the old country and are vigilant in their seclusion. The author is careful to include background and fascinating information, much of whose worship is dominated by a goddess and a totally different ideology (and loving) lifestyle, including a short explanation of the “handfasting ceremony” (wedding).

Circe is welcomed into the Derwydd village and is set to work under the tutelage of the weaver as apprentice and time passes. Conflict and turmoil begin to increase, however, with the news of a witch hunter who has steadily been working his way through the colonies causing fear and forces a plan of action where Circe will be set in Boston to help conduct arrivals safely to seclusion in the New World. In the turmoil that follows, Circe will get to know the man who’ll steal her heart.

I love that the author creates such an authentic and unique storyline, putting you in the century with period names, costumes, language, food, and customs. And so much information about the dark period surrounding the hunt for witches and origins. Dialogue seems so faithful to the time and the well-plotted storyline lends an insecure tension–where to flee next?

I was given a copy of this ebook download by the author in exchange for a read and review. These are my unbiased opinions. Recommended to any who enjoy historical fiction, fantasy, stories of the Celts, the flight from religious persecution, and magical manifestations.

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Lillis and Jaymes

  • ISBN-10:1987462629
  • ISBN-13:978-1987462623
  • ASIN: B07CMHCNZS

Print Length: 291 pages
Publication Date: April 23, 2018
Source: Author Request

Title Link: The Firefly WitchThe Firefly Witch

Amanda Hughes authorThe Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1

The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1

Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel – a #BookReview

A Life for a Life by Lynda McDanielTitle: A Life for a Life: A Mystery Novel (Appalachian Mountain Mystery Book 1)

Genre: Literature and Fiction, Mystery, Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Lynda McDaniel Books

Print Length: 341 pages

Publication Date: August 15, 2016

ISBN: 0997780800

ASIN: B01KGVUREG

Source: Direct Author Request

Title and Cover: A Life for a LifeSimple cover–subtle subject suggestion

Book Blurb:

One mysterious death. One lazy sheriff. Two seekers of truth.

Della Kincaid escaped to the mountains of N.C. to get away from it all. Didn’t work. She discovers a dead woman in the wilderness and gets embroiled in the investigation. The sheriff says suicide; Kincaid says murder. As a former reporter in Washington, D.C., she knows how to chase the truth. Without her usual sources, she turns to an offbeat cast of characters—friends, forger, former husband, and new neighbor Abit Bradshaw, a challenged boy who’s spent the first 16 years of his life plagued by small-town bullies and family lies. They team up to search for answers to the possible murder—and to make peace with their own lives. 

A Life for a Life is the first book in Lynda McDaniel’s internationally acclaimed Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series. Reviewers have compared her work to To Kill a Mockingbird and her storytelling style to that of Fannie Flagg. If you like page-turning dramas without over-the-top violence—but packed with suspense and character-driven stories—you’ll love this series. Continue reading “A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel – a #BookReview”

Oh Holy Fright by Teresa Trent – a #BookReview

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, to all my Favorite Readers–You!

Christmas review-Oh Holy Fright by Teresa Trent

Title: Oh Holy Fright by Teresa Trent

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women’s Fiction, Women Sleuths

ASIN: B07JFNSC11

Publication Date: October 31, 2018

Page Length: 255 pages

Source: BookBub

Title and Cover: Oh Holy Fright-That cover will get you

Book Blurb:

It’s Christmas in Pecan Bayou, Texas. Join Betsy (aka The Happy Hinter) for a good old small-town Christmas complete with Christmas carols, over the top light displays, delicious food, loving friends and…a Christmas Creeper. One of the residents of Pecan Bayou has a secret and you’d better lock the door because that isn’t Santa out there or even a stray elf. Enjoy spending Christmas with the town and family you’ve come to know in the Pecan Bayou Series. Recipes and helpful hints included!

My Review:

Oh Holy Fright by Teresa TrentCute cozy with a curious concept! Yay, another cozy with an atypical plot! Betsy Livingston, the local paper’s “Happy Hinter” of rural, small-town Pecan Bayou, Texas is preparing for Christmas with her blended family. (Another plus, unusual family setting, low-key on the romance angle and sexual tension.) Part of her extended family also includes a neurologically handicapped family member, everyone is preparing for Christmas, contending with an off-key, ear-splitting soloist in the choir, and confronting a Christmas Creeper.

Unfortunately, a beloved mailman is murdered in the street which may implicate her aunt Maggie as she recently armed herself against the intruder. In the middle of it all, an instant Christmas store hawking super sales on coveted technical or electronic gift items, including Play Stations, and have her boys on a Christmas campaign.

There are enough threads here to keep you busier than a one-armed paper-hanger, yet the well-plotted mystery dragged somewhat for me. I appreciated the focus on the family situation since that scenario is quite common as well as the sympathetic and sensitive handling of Down’s Syndrome, Danny, whose sweet character was well developed. There is humor in the strangest situations and that was another takeaway, also appreciated.

What had me scratching my head was the obtuseness of the characters, including (once again) the local constabulary. Some of this stuff is pretty obvious so there are few surprises. The narrative examines reverse mortgages and the financial plight of the elderly, as well as offspring with drug problems and exes, the push to get the little ones out to sell subscriptions, scammers, and counterfeit money.

This is book 8 of the series, but I felt could easily work as a standalone as we see enough fleshing to understand the major characters and those who have reoccurring roles. We received this free download through BookBub and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I say “we” as I thought it might be one my associate reviewer would also enjoy. (His review appeared on Goodreads, November 28, 2018, I’ve since combined.)

His Review: C.E. Williams - Associate Reviewer

Combining small-town drama with mystery and suspense makes this read a hoot. A bit of Nancy Drew meets Perry Mason. Predictable but with some good belly laughs along the way. CE Williams 4/5 stars

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four of Five Stars

Teresa Trent - authorThe Author: Teresa Trent writes the Piney Woods and the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series from Houston, Texas where she loves the people and even the weather. Teresa includes Danny, a character with Down Syndrome in her Pecan Bayou family and in real life is the mother of an adult son with Down Syndrome/PDD. Creating the character of Danny and all of the other inhabitants of Pecan Bayou has been a joy for her. Even though she lives in the big city, her writing is influenced by all of the interesting people she finds in small towns and the sense of family that is woven through them all. ©2018 V Williams V Williams

Malice by Jennifer Jaynes – a #BookReview

Malice by Jennifer JaynesTitle: Malice by Jennifer Jaynes

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Murder, Women’s Fiction Contemporary

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! September 25, 2018

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Malice – Dark subject matter

Book Blurb: The perfect life becomes the perfect nightmare in a twisting novel of psychological suspense from #1 USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Jaynes…

Dr. Daniel Winters is living a fairy-tale life. He has a beachfront home in Malibu, a career as a respected pediatrician at a thriving Los Angeles practice, and a gorgeous new wife, Mia. For a man whose past was rife with mental illness, addiction, and thoughts of suicide, it seems too good to be true.

Then Daniel learns that a fellow pediatrician and his family were found slaughtered in their home. It’s just the first chip in the facade of Daniel’s perfect life. Little by little, everything starts to fall away. At work, his career becomes at risk when he’s asked to remain silent about a dangerous new drug. At home, Mia has gone from an affectionate newlywed to a mysterious woman carefully hiding secrets—and possibly a lover.

Then, another doctor is found dead, and as Mia’s behavior becomes increasingly suspicious, Daniel begins to wonder: Is paranoia getting the best of him…or has his fairy-tale life become a nightmare worse than he could have ever imagined? Continue reading “Malice by Jennifer Jaynes – a #BookReview”

Malice at the Manor – a #BookReview

Malice at the Manor by J Marshall GordonTitle: Malice at the Manor (Penny Summers Mystery Book 2) by J. Marshall Gordon

Genre: Mystery, Women’s Fiction, Woman Sleuth, Private Investigations

Publisher: Taylor & Seale Publishing

Publication Date: April 27, 2018

Source: Happy Book Reviews and author

Title and Cover: Malice at the Manor – Beautiful cover conveys subject background

Book Blurb: Penny Summers bones up on Renaissance garden design until she finds a dead docent and finds herself up to her tramp stamp unraveling a Civil War battle flag scam.

In North Carolina where “The Recent Unpleasantness” between the North and the South is still romanticized, the problem of a dead docent in a famous garden leads ex-Navy public affairs officer Penny Summers to a Civil War battle flag scam, a deadly reenactment, and a search for a man in black. With the help of Kalea, an eleven-year-old C.S.I.-wannabe, and Aaron, her handsome Navy friend working undercover, Penny discovers more than she bargained for. She thinks if she had studied psychology, it might have turned out differently. Probably not.

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(This was a publicist request that I thought both the C.E. and I might enjoy and review together–you’ll note the CE often holds a different opinion although many times generously so.)

My Review:

I must confess that this is the first quasi-cozy whose protagonist is a Master Gardener/landscape designer. Ex-Navy Penny Summers enrolls in Madison Lerrimore’s residential design course in Maryland which leads to a visit with the instructor to North Carolina.

The author does a masterful job of interlacing fact with fiction, the names in our recent history, and fascinating locations in this country’s civil war including the little-known site of a short skirmish in Asheville, NC. I must say, it incites interest in visiting civil war sites and some of these gorgeous old southern mansions and their gardens. This one, whether or not fictional, sounded fascinating enough to warrant a closer inspection (especially if the bridges where the public would be allowed are unsafe).

This is actually the second in the series. Among the recurring major characters are her Aunt Zelma and Navy sweetie, Aaron Hunt. In this narrative, Penny gets to know her instructor on a personal level, including Madison’s daughter, Kalea, a precocious eleven-year-old and Madison’s partner. The author includes a touch of paranormal with his first-person Penny who often hears her “Grandpa Jack” making comments in her ear, and her great-aunt Zelma is said to have “second sight.” Additionally, backstory is added to Penny’s own childhood that appears to have some impact on current events.

It doesn’t take long before Penny is stumbling across a docent face down in a creek bed who turns out to be a relative of Madison which unintentionally opens a can of worms. The multi-layered plot forks off with absorbing peek into history, Madison’s twisted tale, and Aunt Zelma’s hosting prowess with food and the ever-present chardonnay. And there is always “money” as motive in civil war memorabilia. Penny concocts an idea to wheedle out the antagonist using her sweetie, soon to be lover, and manages to pull off a coup at the conclusion with the help of local law enforcement and Henderson County detective, Coleen Jackson.

The description of the gardens and associated local plant species was interesting, the civil war history interesting, and the sights and flavors of the south interesting. However, there were times when Kalea appeared to be smarter than the adults who were supervising her, and the growing romance between Penny and Aaron was just annoying unnecessary. The characters were not wholly engaging although the narrative moved at a nice pace, and the dialogue (except for exaggerated southern drawl) believable.

On the whole, a relatively quiet conclusion, albeit without a complete resolution to all questions. The antagonist seems apparent and as they note, “Maybe the how will suggest the why. And then the who will become obvious.” 4/5 stars [V Williams] V Williams Continue reading “Malice at the Manor – a #BookReview”

Deja Moo – a #BookReview

Deja Moo by Kirsten WeissTitle: Déjà Moo (Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum #3) by Kirsten Weiss

Genre: Currently #10266 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Publication Date: To be released March 8, 2018

Source: Midnight Ink and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Deja Moo – Inventive title-compelling cover

San Benedetto, a small town near Sacramento in the wine country, erects a Christmas Cow every Christmas and every Christmas the town square cow goes up in flames. Protagonist Maddie Kosloski, owner of the Paranormal Museum, is not a fan–it draws crowds from her shop, which is a tourist draw, so this year she has added historic Christmas bells to her holiday display.

This year will be different. For one thing, her mother is on the Ladies Aid committee coordinating with the local Dairy Association, and they are determined to guard the 30′ flammable cow through the season, the schedule having been laid out. So it is that her mother is playing guard duty when the straw cow is set ablaze. Unfortunately, the other guard is also hit by an arrow and killed. Continue reading “Deja Moo – a #BookReview”

Splintered Silence – a Book Review

Splintered Silence by Susan FurlongTitle: Splintered Silence (A Bone Gap Travellers novel) by Susan Furlong

Genre: Currently #956 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Kensington Press

Publication Date: December 26, 2017

Source: Kensington Press and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Splintered Silence – Backwoods road, country setting

Former Marine MP Brynn Callahan and Wilco (her cadaver dog) have returned to the Appalachians of Tennessee to stay with her grandparents who raised her after three tours with the Marines. Brynn and Wilco (Will Comply) are both suffering from PTSD after an IED explosion ended their tour. Splintered Silence is the first in the Bone Gap Travellers Mystery series, featuring the Irish Travellers. Often in conflict with the “settled” of the nearby town of McCreary, the Irish Travellers prefer to keep to themselves as a strong knit clan. Brynn’s Human Remains Detection (HRD) dog reverts to his training when he detects a body in the nearby woods.   Continue reading “Splintered Silence – a Book Review”

Smoke – a Book Review

Smoke by D. B. BortonTitle: Smoke by D. B. Borton

Genre: Currently #19277 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Boomerang Books

Publication Date: November 20, 2017

Source: Direct request by author

Title and Cover: Smoke – Great cover showing frame painting

Backstory during the Iranian revolution at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art sets the plot of stolen masterpieces, some of which later turn out to be fakes.

Decades later, Marge Smith, as an active agent of Quixote, Ltd. is sent to The Elms to recover from a broken leg received in a motorcycle accident when she is swept up in a geriatric production of Macbeth. The production introduces her to three friends starring as witches, each on short term in the nursing facility, when suddenly one of the witches dies unexpectedly. Continue reading “Smoke – a Book Review”

Mad Librarian – a Book Review

Mad Librarian by Michael GuillebeauTitle: Mad Librarian

Genre: Currently #9422 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Satire, General Humor

Publisher: Madison Press

Publication Date: To be released November 16, 2017

Source: Madison Press and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Mad Librarian – It’s the cover, huh, that gets you

I can’t deny it–both the cover and the title made me pick it up. The cover is compelling and I truly loved it. Reading it was another matter. Continue reading “Mad Librarian – a Book Review”

#ThrowbackThursday – Author Amanda Hughes – Book Reviews

#ThrowbackThursday on It's Book Life blogRenee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, “It’s Book Talk” to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! My TT posts will not come from current ARCs or new releases. Means I’ll be going back over some of my oldies but goodies, my favorite authors, and some of my favorite stories from authors you might not have previously experienced. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out.

  • This week I am highlighting another terrific, prolific author, Amanda Hughes. Ms. Hughes writes about bold women of the 18th, 19th, and (now the) 20th centuries, but they are all stand alone books and do not carry the protagonist from one to the next of the same series. She just released The Looking Glass Goddess (Bold Women of the 20th Century Series, Book 1) on April 26, 2017. I’ve read the three highlighted below from her Bold Women of the 18th Century Series and I loved them all. First one we’ll look at is…

Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Author Amanda Hughes – Book Reviews”