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Review: Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

About the book:

For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business.

Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.

My thoughts:

Love love love this. It’s a little bit Ghostbusters, it’s a little bit Scooby Doo. A ghost story with a twist. This is a fabulous romp. Lucely is a gorgeous lead character. Caring, family-oriented, a great friend and she can see ghosts. It’s just her and her dad at home. But it’s hardly a lonely life. Her family – those who have passed – are still around and they are exactly as they were in real life. Full of joy, sassy, mouthy and filled with love for Lucely and her dad. Who wouldn’t want to see the ghosts of their family? Her best friend is Syd and together these two are a pair not to mess with. Add in Chunk, the cat, and Babette, Syd’s witchy Grandmother, and they are an unstoppable squad. And they need to be. Because Lucely’s Dad is having money troubles, Lucey fireflies are fading and there is something dark gathering in the air.

When a spell is accidently cast, it’s a race to catch the ghosts and save the town before it is destroyed.

Jump on this book. Grab it for your children or nieces and nephews or yourself. It’s a fabulous read. The characters fairly pop from the page. The town is buzzing with magic and terrific worldbuilding puts you right there in Lucely’s house, or the cemeteries, or Syd’s Grandmother’s house. I really enjoyed it.

Little Explorers (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Susan Eames

“I told you not to climb it.”

“I hat to. You seen it. A spaceship. I hat to climb it.”

“You’re four. You didn’t have to climb it. Mom’s gonna be so mad.”

“She’s … gonna be kay? She will, won’t she?”

“She fell a long way. Why’d ya have to get scared and cry for mom? I could got you down.”

“You were ‘fraid.”

“Was not.”

“Waz too.”

“I got mom.”

“Yeah and den she felled. Not my bad. Your bad.”

“Ugh. Come on. We have to get a teddy. Make her feel better.”

“B’oon too?”

“Yeah, balloon too.”

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more FF responses here

word count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

What can you even do? (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

I stand on the roof and watch the garden. There is no sign of the monsters. It’s late afternoon. Everything looks grey, like an old photo. I should see lush green grass and brightly colored flowers. That’s what the monsters do. They drain color out of everything.

The sky was the first to turn when they arrived. Mother told me they came out of the earth. Like the devil himself. Then the sky faded. Since then the trees, birds and animals, people, and then the grass. Day by day we lose more color.

How do you fight this?

Can you?

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more FF prompt responses here

Word Count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: The Alien’s Allegiance : (Norakian Warriors Book 1) by Calla Zae

About the Book:

“She arrived on this new planet with two hot suns, but it was this blue warrior who burned away all her doubts.”

As Captain of the Norakian warriors, Kazstrom anticipates the upcoming competition that can promote him to be the next General of his legion. But a poisonous wound threatens to eliminate his dream. The hunt for a cure leads him to Earth, where he encounters an alluring human female who not only possesses the moonstone he desperately needs, but she also ignites something deep within him. Intrigued, he is compelled to protect her from enemies who are after the same moonstone.

Teegan, a second-grade teacher, is drowning in debt and doubt after a failed engagement when a stunning star-being asks her to go to his planet and heal him. With nothing to lose, she decides a mini out-of-this-world adventure with Kazstrom is the exact escape required to alleviate her life’s issues. But her heart has its own plans and tosses her into an escalating romance filled with danger that will leave them both shattered if they are not careful.

As Kazstrom battles his worst enemy to protect his starmate, Teegan must find her warrior spirit to defend the star-being she has come to love.

My thoughts:

If you love a good alien romance then you will absolutely love this story. Teegan and Kazstrom are the perfect match. A strong willed, brave human woman and a strong, loyal alien warrior.

Teegan is a human working two jobs to pay off the debt her ex-boyfriend left her with. When a strange necklace leads to an encounter with a wounded handsome stranger, Teegan has a choice; go with Kazstrom to stay alive, heal him and save a world, or stay behind. It’s not even a choice. Teegan is drawn to the handsome blue-skinned warrior and her attraction is not one sided.

Kazstrom has a lot on his plate. Wounded in battle, he is told the only thing that can save him from the poison killing his body is a moonstone. He travels all the to Earth to find it. He finds the moonstone and the intriguing Teegan. He also finds several rebels threatening her life. He can’t take the moonstone from her. To protect Teegan and the moonstone he offers her the chance to experience something very few humans have ever done before. Travel the stars and stay on another world while he finds a way to save her in return.

The moonstone has its own mission and it brings Teegan and Kazstrom together to achieve it. Calla Zae has created a fully immersive alien world. Terrific worldbuilding gives this story a brilliant color that is as memorable as it is enjoyable. This is a story about Starmates and destiny. A pacey plot that keeps you engaged to the last page. There is political intrigue, star-crossed lovers, past lives and magical stones. A great read.

Operation: Sugarplum (Drosselmeier Industries #1) by Emily Wrayburn

About the Book:

Clara just wanted to meet her idol. She didn’t expect to have video game bad guys come after her in real life.

Clara Steele is thrilled when game developer Max Drosselmeier invites her to test out his new virtual reality system and the game Operation: Sugarplum. But Max didn’t warn her about his tendency to accidentally pull characters out of his games and into the real world.

Instead of finishing her Christmas shopping, Clara finds herself attacked by a pixelated seven-headed Rat King intent on taking her back to his castle.

If Clara and Max can’t lure the Rat King back into the game and defeat him on his own turf, they might end up as rat food rather than making it to Christmas dinner.

Originally published in Christmas: Australis: A Frighteningly Festive Anthology of Spine Jingling Tales, Operation: Sugarplum is a modern retelling of The Nutcracker with an Australian twist.

My thoughts:

What a fabulously enjoyable novella. Video games come to life? I love the idea. Clara is invited by Max Drosselmeier to test his new VR game and she has a fabulous time playing the game with the handsome IT nerd. But when the evil rat king comes to life, Clara finds out that virtual reality is not all that virtual. To stop the Rat King attacking her in real life Clara must join Max back in the virtual world to fight the Rat King and win… otherwise Christmas dinner won’t be happening this year. The pacing and action works really well for this short tale, but it doesn’t leave the reader feeling rushed. A great book for a great escape or a short getaway. Enchanting.

You can read my interview with author Emily Wrayburn here

Review – Blackbirch: The Dark Half by K.M Allan

About the Book:

Now that the origins of his power have been revealed, Josh Taylor’s search for answers continues with the arrival of Kallie-a girl he thought only existed in his dreams.

Running from her own secrets, she shows Josh how to use his gift in ways he didn’t know were possible. But, as they push the limits of their abilities, they discover there are consequences to messing with magick.

Security guard Kered knows the repercussions. Finding a power-filled crystal, he starts a chain reaction that brings a dangerous foe from Kallie’s past to Blackbirch and forces a devastating choice. Is Josh and Kallie’s bond strong enough to save them? And will their magick have the power to stop a darkness intent on destroying everything Josh has left?

My Thoughts:

The twists just keep on coming. There are new enemies, new mysteries, new secrets and new friends. And not everyone is telling the truth. The dark half explores what is dark in all of us. Everyone has two sides. What they show to the world and what they keep hidden. Well, what if you saw both sides?

Book two jumps in where book one left off. Josh has come into his magic but is desperate to learn more about it. Kallie, the girl he thought only existed in his dreams, is real and has come to show him how to use his magic. But she is hunted and haunted by her past. Now it is Josh’s turn to save her.

This is a terrific action packed book. Magic and spells and crystals abound. Someone is collecting magic and Josh and Kallie are on his list. Just when you think you have this story pegged you are hit with a new twist. Cleverly plotted, this story is well told and full of mystery. Author K.M. Allan will keep you hooked to the very end. Over and over I sat up and went, “Ooooo!” I can’t wait to read the next installment.

You can read my review of Book One Blackbirch: The Beginning here.

You can read my interview with K. M. Allan here

The sounds of silence (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

The view out of the troll’s window looked peaceful. Snow had turned the landscape white and the streetlamps burned warm orange. The snow’s thick silence muffled the sounds of forced labour. I couldn’t see my brother working the giant chains with the rest of his human workforce. I tore myself away and returned to my place at the dining table.

“More beer!” Lord Narlwhen ordered.

“Sir,” I whispered, hoping he couldn’t hear any disrespect. Some days his hearing was quite acute, but he’d been steadily drinking all afternoon. I pictured the empty rat poison box in the kitchen and smiled.

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more FF prompt responses here

Word Count: 100

Success! You're on the list.

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Light fingers (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Sand was in her boots. She couldn’t stop running to empty it out but man, it was gonna blister something bad. Laser shots fired. She heard the whine and pop and twisted. Just in time. The ceramic bowl on the display shelf beside her shattered. Crud. She diverted into a nearby alley and twisted sharply ducking into a doorway. Rich spicy sauce filled her nose. “Excuse me.” She darted through the restaurant and back out onto the street. Swiping up a hat and sunglasses from a nearby stall she wandered through the crowd. In her pocket, the diamond of Baaltear.

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more of the FF prompt responses

word count: 100

Success! You're on the list.

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: The Tears of Boabdil by Neil MacDonald

About the book:

Vince is an accomplished liar and undercover Special Branch agent. Truth, for him, is the story we tell. Sworn to his country, committed to his work, he takes on a new mission – masquerading as an Islamic convert to infiltrate a British Jihadi group. There, he meets the beautiful sister of the leaders and soon becomes entangled in a way he never thought possible and which threatens his grip on reality. As reality weakens with each story about Moorish Spain Vince spins to seduce Ayesha, the more the fictional world blends into his world. But which will he choose: a duty that strengthens barriers or a love that breaks them?

My thoughts:

This is a really fascinating story. Right from the outset the main character Vince/Zami tells us he is not a trustworthy narrator. He tells us part of the story he will tell is a lie. He is a British undercover special branch agent… An undercover operative who is sent in to “join” a potential jihadi group and expose them before they can set off their explosive party but this is where the story shifts. Vince who has become Zami starts to fall for Ayesha, the sister of one of the Jihadi leaders.

The story weaves between a fictional tale about Don Vincent and his love Ayesha that Zami creates to seduce the real Ayesha, with the reality of Zami and his duel focus – romancing Ayesha which is at odds with joining the Jihadi group as a convert. And then there is the reality of Vince (the operative) manipulating his handler and betraying his country. What is real? What is true? Has Vince sunk too deep into his Zami persona? Will love tempt him to betray his country?

The various narratives are deftly woven by the author. All the personas are true to their character. And it raises some interesting questions. what is Vince/Zami’s reality? Has the undercover role become a real life and real life become the undercover role? Will love triumph… but what will that mean for Vince when Ayesha discovers he has lied to her about who he is.

Who is Vince/Zami?

A clever story very well told.

Cover Reveal: The good, the bad and the undecided

This is the book you didn’t know you needed.

You may not want it but you should keep an eye out for it and grab it as soon as you can.

A unique collection of short stories set in the Toni Delle Adventure universe. In fact, set inside White Fire itself. If you’ve read Toni’s first adventure and wondered what was going on with Dan, Cat, Berni, Zaambuka and many others, now is your chance to find out.

This is a companion book that can be read and enjoyed on its own, or can be read alongside White Fire: A Toni Delle Adventure.


Enjoy this cover reveal of: The good, the bad and the undecided.

Twelve short stories, twelve points of view. Keep your eye out for this unique companion to White Fire: A Toni Delle Adventure.

Everyone – the good, the bad and the undecided – has a story

While Toni Delle is crisscrossing the sector, investigating a criminal empire intent on war, other members of the White Fire world are busy with their own endeavors.

  • The businessman closing a treasonous deal that will bring conflict to the galaxy.
  • The politician giving the biggest speech of her career in the shadow of an assassin.
  • The smuggler who can’t be trusted, desperate for redemption.

The good, the bad and the undecided is a collection of twelve short stories set during the thrilling events of White Fire: A Toni Delle Adventure. A cast of guns-for-hire, undercover agents, revolutionaries and rogues reveal their part in Toni’s adventures.

Because everyone – the good, the bad and the undecided – has a story.


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