The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland

The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland, 454 pages, Blackrose Press 1st Edition, November 3rd 2015, Genre: Science Fiction/Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

I have a confession to make. I don’t believe in most ancient alien theories, the works of Zechariah Sitchin, or most of the theories proposed in “Chariots of the Gods”. However, I love the idea behind all of it. I’m a fan of Stargate. What if the gods of old, such as the Anunnaki, really did come from the heavens, literally? What if they weren’t gods at all but advanced aliens? What if they did breeding experiments on primates to create humans? What if they taught humans farming, warfare, pottery, and smithing? In short, what if mythology was fact?

Roxanne Bland shows us the world of the Anunnaki gods, their descendants, and the humanoid hakoi of other planets they claim to have created. The gods are about power and control, using their part-hakoi, part-Anunnaki children and grandchildren to keep the hakoi satisfied using religious rites. These descendants are the Morev, a priestly class. Astoreth is the goddess of love. Her favorite Moreva and grandchild, Tehi, misses services. Astoreth punishes her by assigning her to a post as Moreva on a “backwater” hakoi village called Mjor. Tehi does as she’s told, but sneaks her lab equipment along so she can continue working on the cure for the hakoi disease, red fever. While on Mjor as Moreva, she befriends Hyme, the local hakoi healer, and is irritated by the village’s leader or “Laerd”, Teger. As time passes, she learns to respect the hakoi, falls in love, and narrowly dodges trouble at several turns. The only element that I didn’t care for was the repetition of her daily meals, scheduled services, etc. to the degree they were repeated. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book.

My favorite characters were Tehi and Teger. Tehi starts off with flaws, but overcomes them as the story unfolds. She is dedicated to healing the sick and willing to risk her neck for others. As a priestess of the goddess of love, she explores the meaning and nature of love at different points in the story. Teger is direct and determined. Once he makes up his mind about something, there is no dissuading him. He’s supportive of Tehi but isn’t afraid to challenge her when he thinks she is wrong. He teaches her about identity, love, and self-love.

This book is a romance taking place within an interesting science fiction milieu. If you enjoy both romance and science fiction, you’ll love this novel.

You can find it at The Moreva of Astoreth .

Book Description:

In the world-building tradition of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined. It is the story of the priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the spoiled, headstrong granddaughter of a powerful deity who is banished for a year to a volatile far corner of the planet for neglecting to perform her sacred duty, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.

About the Author:

I’ve been a fugitive from reality since forever. As a child, I constantly made up stories–some would call them lies–about my family, friends, neighbors and even strangers on the street. I had friends that only I could see. Oh, the adventures we had!

Learning to read was a revelation. Words fascinated me. Whole new worlds opened up, and since my parents forbade nothing, I read everything. Some of it I didn’t quite understand, but I didn’t mind. I read it anyway. I even read the dictionary. When I was a little older, I was big on mysteries. Agatha Christie and P.D. James were my favorites. Then I discovered horror. Whenever a new book came out by Stephen King, Peter Straub or Dean Koontz, I was first in line. I was reading a little science fiction at this time–Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and authors like them–but I really didn’t get into it until I was in college. The same with fantasy. I really got into high fantasy, like Lord of the Rings.

From childhood on, I was making up stories, but not writing them down. They were private. Besides, I thought my family and friends would tell me I was wasting my time, that I should be concentrating on my musical studies, and later, my college studies. In fact, the only story I recall writing was one that won a contest when I was in elementary school. That was my first clue, but it sailed right over my head.

So anyway, life goes on. I went to law school. After I graduated and entered the workforce, I finally started writing down my stories. I wrote a bit here and there, short stories that never saw the light of day (which was probably a good thing). Then I fell ill. I had the flu for a month. Bored out of my skull, I started writing a piece of fan fiction, though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I showed it to a friend of mine who suggested I finish the story.

Well, that piece of fan fiction fell by the wayside, but in its place came a manuscript that would eventually become my first book, The Underground. I loved writing it, and it was then that I discovered my true avocation (maybe one day, my vocation). Slipping into that alternate reality for hours on end, there was a time in my life when it was called daydreaming and I got into trouble for it. Now it’s legitimate. And that’s the best part of all.

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An Interview With Roger B. Burt

An Interview With Roger B. Burt

Today on Author Spotlight, I’m interviewing Roger B. Burt, the author of “Gaia’s Majesty: Mission Called-Women in Power”. Thank you so much, Roger, for taking the time to be interviewed.

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

Perhaps the ultimate core which drives everything is my intuitive personality. I require novelty and exploration of what might be. That was a major part of the reason for me getting a doctorate in clinical psychology. The scientific/research part didn’t interest me. Delving into people’s minds was of considerable interest. One of the things I learned was that what we call reality is widely divergent across people and ephemeral. We can see it in fiction.

An odd thing is that I never liked school a whole lot. I was just tenacious. From time to time I found inspiration. A lot of the time it just had to be endured. When I had my doctorate I fled to work in the novelty of a community mental health program. That meant work in inner city poverty and lots of conflict. It was the time of the sixties revolution which included assertive women stressing women’s liberation. I was utterly engaged.

 Leigh: What inspired you to write this novel?

Given who I am and my devotion to feminism the story of Gaia’s Majesty was almost inevitable. There had to be a future unfolding and a fantasy element suited me just fine because it was liberating. And myth was included because I’ve always been intrigued with the meaning of myths and revelations about who we are. So Mermaids had to be in the story.

 Leigh: What are you working on at the minute?

I’m working on keeping my characters and the story under control. I’m revising the second book and have a draft of the third. But there appears to be a fourth book at the door and I also have to manage the insistent Andromeda women. They aren’t just warriors, they are women with depth and commitment. Even when their position is established in the book I feel more and more of their personal story unfolding. They may each get their own book eventually.

 Leigh: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from your most recent book?

I have a take on who these people are but I can’t say I have a fix on who I would like to see playing them.

 Leigh: When did you decide to become a fiction writer?

At each turning point in my life books have presented themselves. Some of them were nonfiction and some fictional stories were usually coming to life. Not all came to final form.

 Leigh: Where do your ideas come from? Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

The ideas begin as abstractions and they gradually take shape with images of characters and general form. Then I get out Dara Mark’s “Transformational Arc”. Fundamentally it is a system which is common in films. It gives the story not just a framework but also dramatic points where crises take shape and there are high and low points. For example, about three quarters of the way through comes “as bad as it gets”. We all can recognize that in films at about the same place. It is a devise which works well.

 Leigh: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? What book/s are you reading at present?

My reading is a mess. I have no plan and take up what intrigues me. I have a rather large number of ’50 page books”. If I’m not engaged, I don’t slog on through. And what engages me is simply what engages me. And I don’t believe in rating books which are simply not your cup of tea. It might be a great book but not for me. So I may move from fiction to nonfiction with no particular plan. Recently I ran across “Postcapitalism” by Paul Mason. I could see our future opening before us. Before that I learned about Amazons from Adrienne Mayor. I thought they were myths. Not so. Both of these books were nonfiction but spoke to fictional themes stretching into the future. The bottom line, the book has to capture my imagination as I search the “what if”.

 Leigh: What is your favorite quote?

I live in a world of concepts and images so I retain quotes poorly. I don’t look back but toward future discovery. The Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy reflects my fascination with what may be unfolding. We seem to be entering a new wave for humanity and a very important part of it is the empowerment of women. We can’t be clear about what’s coming but the potential is fascinating me and I tend to think it will not be catastrophic but fascinatingly wonderful.

 Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: https://www.cuspofreality.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Roger.B.Burt.PhD

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2vdN66s

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/737046

Amazon Book Links (American)

Creating Characters and Plots –

http://amzn.to/2fQVsOa

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

http://amzn.to/2wXejv1

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health

http://amzn.to/2wWVKqT

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5463928.Roger_B_Burt

This link contains a list of my nonfiction books as well. It includes how to use Carl Jung’s personality typology to construct characters and plot, a guide to crisis management in stepfamily transitions, and the rise and fall of the community mental health movement.

Roger to Leigh:

I have a question for you. From the position of your blog and what you hear from authors, what do you perceive as the most common sources of inspiration?

Leigh:

The best reading experience, in my opinion, entertains as it evokes emotion within me. Each reader’s experiences will shape whether the reader will connect emotionally with a writer’s work. Each writer has an audience. That audience is comprised of the people who will connect emotionally with the writer’s work. Books will get various ratings from readers because some of the readers may connect with the work, others won’t.

Each writer has a tackle box with two larger compartments. Each of the two large compartments break down into further compartments. One compartment is everyone they’ve ever known, met, or encountered (real or fictional)- their impressions of them, the influence the people had in their lives and vice versa, the things they’ve learned from them, and the feelings they’ve experienced for or with them. The second compartment is every event they’ve ever observed, experienced, caused, or completed along with their feelings and attitudes regarding these events. That’s why many writers, when seeking a new idea, will find it by going out and adding to their tackle box of personalities and experiences.

Every author whose work has evoked emotion in me tells me they draw inspiration and ideas primarily from their own experiences or the experiences/character of people who touched their lives meaningfully. Yes, the work is fiction, but we can’t imagine anything that we don’t already have the building blocks for. It all starts with “what if?”, and “what if’s” are inspired from the tackle box. Concept evolves from there.

Thanks for the great question, Roger! Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

CLICK  here for the book review.

The Corner Office by Katerina Baker

The Corner Office by Katerina Baker, 236 pages, June 23rd 2017, Genre: Contemporary Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

The Corner Office is about how modern women don’t take care of ourselves and our needs the way we should. All too often, we allow our ambition and need to compete in work spaces traditionally dominated by men to run our lives. Ambition and hard work are positive values, but not if they come at the expense of everything else. If we want to have it all, we have to create balance.

Tara Johnson is a single woman trying to rise in a male-dominated office. She tries to set an example for the women in her workplace, that they can have it all and succeed. While the women perceive her as a cold, hard ice queen, they also admire her dedication and drive. Tara realizes she’s a hypocrite- she only has her work, yet here she is telling them they can have it all. By the time Tara goes against her own advice and has an affair with Aidan, her “bad boy” employee, she’s accepted there’s something missing from her otherwise accomplished life. As Tara competes with the handsome Richard for a promotion, sparks flare between them as well. Should Tara risk her promotion for personal romantic happiness? Which man is the right man for her?

I had difficulty relating to the main character at various points of the book. Tara’s mother, who requires a nurse due to gaps in her memory, is looking forward to a concert. Tara spends time planning it and is looking forward to it herself. Her mother will probably wonder why her husband isn’t there and might forget all about it afterwards, but Tara considers it important to do this with her mom. When she learns of a business trip happening at the same time, she must choose between possibly being out of the loop on the job and losing the promotion, or going ahead with plans with her mother. She chooses to take the business trip. As the women ask questions about how to be wives and mothers to their small kids while putting in twelve hour days at the office, Tara tows the company line, suggesting they get nannies or take work home with them. She tells them to never have an affair with a fellow employee while she is having an affair with someone under her command.

The sex is steamy, especially since it’s “taboo” in their workplace. The romantic relationship develops in the last half of the book. The challenges in the corporate workplace facing parents are real. It’s interesting how Tara tries to mold the women into versions of her idea of success, yet in the end, she is influenced to make changes in her own life. The writing is good. The pacing was steady. I enjoyed watching her transform into a more laid back, relaxed, happier working woman, even if I couldn’t always agree with her choices along the way.

This book can be found at The Corner Office.

Book Description:

Tara Johnson’s sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she’s one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he’s willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.
Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it’s her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it’s the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he’s still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.
But Tara’s increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand her.

 

Author Bio:

Katerina Baker is a lucky gal who still attempts to have it all: full-time project management job that she enjoys, crazy family of four (with the ongoing threats of getting a pet to upset the family equilibrium) and writing.

Although on some days she is much more successful at managing her life than on the others, she still claims that she doesn’t want it any other way.

Katerina is represented by Sharon Belcastro from Belcastro Agency, and has a contract with Lachesis Publishing, who will be publishing her Romantic Suspense novel Under the Scrubs.

Check out other reviews at:

The Corner Office at Just Love My Books

The Corner Office at The Loaded Shelf

Dating in The Apocalypse: Sarah “The One” by Christopher John Chater

Dating in the Apocalypse
Tougher than Tinder!

Dating in The Apocalypse: Sarah “The One” by Christopher John Chater, Chater Publishing, 62 pages, July 8th, 2016, Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

Dating in The Apocalypse is the first novelette in a series. Each book focuses on the protagonist’s experiences with a different woman, or “date”. Dating in the modern age was already rough, trying to find love in the apocalypse is well-nigh impossible.

Human beings became immunosuppressed to the point they could no longer fight off basic diseases. Influenza wiped out huge swaths of humanity. Some remained immune and survived. The majority were men. Women are so scarce, they’re traded, fought over, and kidnapped as if they were oil. Most men would give up on love, but not Tom Collins. He’s determined to find “The One”. He’s sure she’s out there and isn’t “irradiated, diseased, or had anything amputated”. As Tom puts it:

“I’d made a list of her qualities and kept it taped to the door. I looked at it every day before I left the house.

Blonde hair. (Natural, of course. I’ll be checking roots, girls.)

Green eyes. (The color of Fenway grass, or those old 7UP bottles.)

Smart. (Coupled with the natural blonde part, this is indeed a rare specimen.)

Strong and independent. (She doesn’t shed too many tears over something as silly as an apocalypse. Can’t tell you how many drink dates turned into a bawling, apocalyptic catharsis: “Then we had to saw off papa’s leg…” Gets a little depressing.)

Caring. (Hoping this whole apoc thing hasn’t jaded her. Plenty of fish in the sea, but they shouldn’t be as cold as one.)

Worthy. (There are women these days who would whore themselves for a cheeseburger. A worthy woman knows she at least deserves fries with it.)”

Tom finally meets a woman who matches his description: Lady Sarah. There are just three problems. One, she’s entered negotiations to wed his rival, a marauder clan leader named Darryl who kidnapped his last three dates. Two, Sarah resides in an area forbidden to men. And three, Sarah thinks Tom is a bit of an idiot.

After escaping many dangerous situations during their “dinner date”, Tom extracts a promise from Lady Sarah that she will date him again if he can find a way to keep the marauder clans from raiding her city. The story ends on a cliffhanger which will set the stage for the next novelette in the series.

Although Dystopian, it is highly humorous. It’s a fast-paced, fun ride. I never imagined the apocalypse could lighten my mood and make me laugh. Chater juxtaposes a fool-for-love, reluctant hero whose primary weapon is his witty repartee against a surreal backdrop of a post-apocalyptic city. The characters were quirky and interesting. My favorite character was Lillith, Tom’s mother, a formerly frustrated fashion designer whose fifteen minutes of fame has finally arrived.

Witty and amusing, Dating in The Apocalypse wasn’t what I expected, making it a delightful read. It’s currently on sale for .99 cents at Amazon. It’s followed by three more books in the series. I’d recommend this novelette to anyone looking for an entertaining romp through the apocalypse that can be read in a single sitting.

You can find it at Amazon at Dating In The Apocalypse.

September Sky by John A. Heldt

September sky
Journey Through Time!

September Sky (American Journey Book One) by John A. Heldt, 585 pages, January 1st, 2015, Genre: Time Travel/Historical Romance/Victorian. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

September Sky is a novel combining elements of mystery, adventure, romance, time travel, and the historical American Victorian era all in one book. It’s hard to pin a genre down for this book and John A. Heldt combines these elements in a refreshing and unique manner. Although we begin in 2016, we quickly find ourselves traveling back to Galveston, Texas at the turn of the twentieth century. The author’s research into events and places of Galveston in 1900 seemed thorough and added a deeper enjoyment to the story.

This is the story of a father, Chuck, and his adult son- two travelers in life who have lost everything suddenly. Chuck was so obsessed with his work he failed to see what truly mattered. Once he is laid off, and his ex-wife and her parents killed in a tragic accident, he is filled with regret over his choices. Meanwhile, Justin’s life feels empty and hollow to him, and he has dropped out of college. Both men are at transitional periods in their lives, searching for meaning and purpose. Chuck wastes no time bonding with his son Justin on a cruise where they attend a lecture on time travel by Professor Bell. Later, Bell invites them to his home where he offers them the chance of a lifetime- to travel through a time tunnel beneath his house to a specific time in the past. They are given devices to help them return once their journey is complete. Once in 1900, they ignore Bell’s rules and plans, and instead head to Galveston to try to stop an innocent ancestor from being executed for a crime he didn’t commit. Chuck believes righting the injustice will restore his sense of purpose. What neither Chuck nor Justin could have foreseen was falling in love with Charlotte and Emily, Victorian women of 1900 Galveston.

Chuck’s initial experiences in the past mirror his beginning state- a lost soul looking for meaning. He and Justin are both honorable men who come to care deeply about the town and its people. Aware of an impending natural disaster set to wipe out thousands, they must decide whether to interfere in the past and if so, how much they are willing to change it. While helping his great uncle avoid an unjust fate is noble, Chuck realizes righting the wrong won’t give him long term happiness and a sense of purpose. When both men fall in love, they seem to harbor the unrealistic expectation that their lady loves will leave everything behind and follow them back to 2016. Selfishly, they both proceed with romantic, meaningful relationships knowing the turmoil they may bring into the women’s lives. But perhaps that’s part of the theme- the ties that bind us inspire us to make radical, life altering choices in the name of love. Love gives our lives meaning and purpose.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel. The writing style is very good; although there were a few sections of dialogue that perhaps could have been condensed. People often choose to obsess over other aspects of their lives, such as career, and we often take those we love for granted, imagining we’ll always have more time with them. The depiction of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was dramatic, nail-biting, and reminded us that we can lose everything and everyone at any moment. The romantic elements weren’t graphic and were flirtatious and sweet. I’d recommend this novel to readers who enjoy time travel, mystery, and adventure novels.

This book is the first in a five book series. You can purchase this book at Amazon at September Sky.

The Trouble with Seduction by Victoria Hanlen

Trouble with Seduction cover
Fiery Passion!

The Trouble with Seduction by Victoria Hanlen, Harper Collins Publishers, Carina, April 25th, 2016, Genre: Regency/Victorian/Historical Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

            Set in London, England in 1855, The Trouble with Seduction is a fun and engaging historical romance. Many romance novels I’ve read are character driven and short on plot; Hanlen weaves her plot and characters together expertly. Victoria Hanlen combines humor, mistaken identity, mystery, intrigue, and intense passion in an engrossing read I’m not likely to soon forget.

Straight from the outset, we’re introduced to Sarah, a financially independent, twice-widowed, respectable young woman, still sporting frumpy black attire after two years in mourning for her deceased inventor husband, Edward. Sarah is under pressure from her brother to marry his best friend and is inundated with workmen hired to help renovate her mansion. A discovery is made on her property, leading Inspector Hooker to accuse her of murdering Edward. Meanwhile, Cornelius “Cory” Ravenhill is in a coma after being beaten within an inch of his life by thugs. Seeking justice, Cory’s older brother Damen, a close enough match to pass as Cory’s twin, pretends to be Cory and retraces his steps across Mayfair, Liverpool, and St. Giles. As the plot thickens, Damen forms an alliance with Sarah to clear her name and discover who was behind the attack on “him”, i.e. his brother Cory. Cory’s supposed mistress instructs Damen to seduce Sarah to get to Edward’s engine design, but the trouble with seduction, as Damen learns, is that often the seducer falls head over heels in love.

While I admired Sarah’s devotion to her family and their image of respectability, this proved to be a strong barrier against Sarah giving in to her romantic desire for Damen. Sarah’s social work at the mission and compassion for those in need was moving and endearing. Sarah proved herself brave as well as intelligent in several serious situations. Damen’s recurring feelings of unworthiness and his guilt at having lied to her about his identity initially made it difficult for him to accept Sarah’s love. Romantic scenes were fiery, passionate, and draw the reader in. The sparks flew between Sarah and Damen in an electrifying, riveting way. Both characters were well developed and their unusual courtship was a delight to read.

I had a great time reading The Trouble with Seduction. I especially enjoyed the additional elements of mystery and humor, as well as the interesting inventions of Sarah’s late husband. If you love historical romance, be cautious about what time you start reading- it takes about four hours to read and you won’t want to stop once you start. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves historical romance novels. It’s a treat!

You may find the kindle version at The Trouble With Seduction. The other book can be found at The Trouble With Misbehaving.