Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Ruby Red Christmas by Delilah Hall


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Bio:  Delilah Hall is a young Canadian author who lives in and writes smalltown romance. Growing up Delilah had the pleasure of being able to explore, a passion that has carried on into her adult life and has inspired many stories- and future novels.

Blurb: In a Ruby Red Christmas, Delilah Hall crafts a heartfelt tale of love that defies time. In a story set in both the past and the present, the reader gets to unravel the love story of Lucy and John and what pulled them apart. 

Once deeply in love. Then separated by the twists and turns of life, each of them carries with them a lifetime of experiences. Each of them has had a family and a full life that was happy. But what about those unfulfilled dreams they'd shared so many years ago?  

When their paths cross unexpectedly, all those memories come back. We get to see how two people pulled apart can find each other again, and what that looks like in the present.

One of our hi-lo (high interest/low reading level) series for older adults. While these heart-warming tales can be enjoyed by anyone, they are specially crafted for people experiencing cognitive impairment such as dementia. Short sentences, paragraphs, and chapters make for a pleasant reading experience.  

People may enjoy these books on their own, with a loved one, or in a group setting. Each book contains illustrations throughout. After each chapter, there are general discussion questions to encourage engagement and connection.

Interview questions: 

1.    Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing, and did you use it to your advantage? 

Yes! I was raised in a family full of writers and I was lucky enough to be encouraged at an early age to follow my writing. 

2.    Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre?  

A Ruby Red Christmas is a later-in-life romance that I wrote recently, I normally write blue collar/smalltown romance but had been playing around with this idea for several months and when I found out about Lilac Arch Press’s call for submissions for their older-adult line, I thought this story would be the perfect fit! 

3.    What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? 

For me, the most rewarding part of the experience has been getting to meet the people who buy my book. The people who look at the cover, read the blurb and think they would enjoy the story that I wrote.  

4.    What positive piece of advice would you give to other authors?  

Take risks! You will learn more from trying things than you ever will from just studying. I’ve tried a lot of things, and failed at a lot of things, but along the way I’ve learnt so much!  
Along with that, build your connections. Talk with other writes, share your writing, get feedback, and put yourself out there! 

Website Links: 



Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Book review: Abilene by Dare DeLano

Black Coffee Book Tours

November 28 - December 01

Three strong Southern women — twelve-year-old Len, her mother Cora, and her Aunt Jean — grapple with love and loss in this poignant tale set on a hardscrabble cattle ranch in a small Texas town. Len yearns to find the father who abandoned her, and after a chance encounter with a country music star who she suspects is him, she embarks on a life-altering journey to find the truth about her past. At the same time, Cora and Jean must deal with another shocking family betrayal that complicates everything. Told in turns by these three remarkable women, Abilene explores the boundaries of love and the transformative power of self-discovery.

Link for the book on the publisher’s website

Universal link for the book on Amazon

About the author

Dare DeLano holds an MFA in creative writing from Fairfield University. Her work has been short-listed as a finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and her children’s book Odus and the Long Way Home won the San Diego Book Award. Her work has been published in “A Year in Ink Anthology, Vol. 10, San Diego Writers, Ink, and has been exhibited in the San Diego Central Library’s Local Author Exhibition. Dare lives in San Diego, but her heart remains in the south. This is her first novel.

Website / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook 


Len, Cora and Jean are three Southern women who have faced a lot of hardships in their lives. They live on a ranch in Texas, raising cattle and try to make ends meet.

Len is a curious girl with a gift who wants to know more about her father. He left when she was a baby and the only picture she has of him kept him alive in her mind. Through an impromptu meeting, she thinks she has found him in a famous singer and goes after him to learn the truth.

I liked the relationship between her and Cyclops, a reliable horse who was her confidant and friend in ways no one could be.

“And I knew in my bones she was right. For often, with the first winds of morning, I could feel how the day was gonna go. I could feel the long, strange cry of a wolf, or the glorious scream of the eagle, circling. At the beach I could hear the sailors’ words as they were carried along in cries of the seagulls.” Len.

Cora and Jean are sisters who have always been close, but they are shaken by a family secret that threatens to tear them apart. They each have their own struggles with love, loss, and forgiveness.

“There was a deep-inside part of her that was at home here in the house she’d grown up in, the fields where she’d spent countless hours as a child. But there was part of her that knew she never fit quite right in this town. Everywhere Cora went, she felt a little different from the pack. In her hometown, she was smarter and more worldly, at college, she was edgier and more rebellious, and with the party crowd she hung out with she was smarter and more ambitious. She felt she was pieced together from all these different sections, and nowhere did she feel completely whole, nowhere did she feel completely understood.” Cora.

Jean is on trial for manslaughter, and as she tries to adapt to prison life, she has to face her fears and the revelation of secrets. Secrets that could tare her family apart. As one continues to read, I could feel the empathy the writer used to tell these three women’s story.

“I’m not scared. Even if no one else was around and he tried something I don’t reckon I’d be scared. I am a master at detaching from my body. I understand how to just leave and not care what is happening to the flesh and bone and skin that is lying there below me. I been doing it for years, whenever Roger wanted me. Trying to feel something – – something like I used to feel when we first were dating, back when things were sweet and I would get a little thrill when he touched me.” Jean

Abilene is a story of three women, in two different time zones, who discover themselves and each other through their journey of finding home.

The writing is beautifully crafted, and the plot has an easy flow that makes this an enjoyable read from beginning to end. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Book review: The Killer's Stepsister by Caroline Taylor


For nine years, Felicity Terrebonne made her stepsister Maddy miserable, including marrying Maddy’s boyfriend Dan. Now Felicity is on trial for murder, and Maddy attends her trial. Is she there to gloat, or is it admiration that Felicity had the courage to deal with a would-be rapist?

But Felicity has her own agenda, one that enlists Maddy and her friend Pete in a frantic search for Felicity’s daughter Danielle, who was kidnapped by her father but is nowhere to be found.

She’s only ten years old and has been missing for five months. Dan promises to lead them to her only to learn that Danielle has escaped her kidnappers.

Now the hunt is on. Who will find the child first, and is she still alive?

About the Author

Born in Pasadena, CA, The United States

Genre MysteryThrillerNonfiction

Influences: Guy Noir, Stephanie Plum

Facebook / LinkedIn / Goodreads

I am the author of several mysteries, one short-story collection, and a nonfiction book. All of them are listed on my website at Two of my novels won the Firebird Book award, and a third was a finalist for the Freddie Award. Loose Ends was Goodreads “best thriller set in DC” in 2016.

I grew up in the mountain west and have traveled widely, including a brief stint in the Foreign Service. I am a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Living in a world that I have totally imagined whose inhabitants mostly--but certainly not always--do what I expect them to.


A child went missing for five months, the mother faces a murder charge, and a supportive although reluctant stepsister steps in. From the opening chapter of the story, you realise the two didn’t get along.

When a child is missing, it is taken seriously by every law enforcement unit and person connected to the family. But in this case, the girl was gone for five months, and no one knew, not even the stepsister. That sounded very odd to me.

Though the two stepsisters were not close, Maddy came running when she heard about her sister’s fate. That there is not much love between is a fact, but that Maddy came says a lot about Maddy and a lot of nothing about Felicity. Only during the court case did Maddy learn about her niece’s abduction. I believe she would have been the first responder when she had received the news five months ago, and the reason I found it odd was that she wasn’t told.

With each scene, new characters were introduced that helped to develop the story, giving it a more mysterious edge. During the court case, Maddy got to see her stepmom again. Yvonne was a sickly woman, filled with regrets and unable to change the past. Maddy’s love is clear.

Detective O’Toole added the spice, making you wonder if the spark would grow between him and Maddie. The camaraderie between them a beautiful string that kept my nose in the book.

The book was written from Maddie’s point of view. As an outsider, she could explore the many reasons that led to her stepsister’s demise as she looked for Danielle.

With so many variables in the plot, you had to keep up with it all. What hindered me most about this story are the frequent back stories within each scene, slowing down the flow of the story. Getting to the story is the number one rule when writing a book. Too much back story is too much tell and not much showing.

Otherwise, it was a good book, that keeps on building on the mystery genre. With enough dialogue and sparks to keep you reading as twists unfold. The end of the book answered most of the questions, with Felicity’s fate still hanging in the air.



Friday, November 17, 2023

Book tour plus review: Black Fox One by Elyse Hoffman


Black Coffee Book Tours

November 14-17

Jonas Amsel and Avalina Keller, devoted Nazis and best friends, have a bright future in Hitler’s Third Reich. Ava, a talented gymnast, wants to serve Germany in the Olympics, and Jonas, who has loved Ava since they were children, wants nothing more than to marry her and start a family. When he is about to propose, however, Ava and her entire family vanish without a trace.

Jonas blames the Jews for Ava’s disappearance and throws himself into a career in the Nazi Party. He serves the Reich under the ruthless Chief of the Gestapo, Reinhard Heydrich. Jonas becomes particularly good at capturing members of the Black Foxes, an anti-Nazi resistance group, earning Heydrich’s respect and the moniker of “the Fox Hunter.”

Impressed by Jonas’ skills, Heydrich gives him his most difficult task yet: capture the elusive Black Fox One, the Black Foxes’ most deadly and mysterious operative. No Nazi who has pursued Black Fox One has returned alive, but Jonas is determined and confident. Capturing Black Fox One might bring him one step closer to finding Ava.

But while he is hunting Black Fox One, Jonas makes a shocking discovery, forcing him to make an agonizing decision. He must choose between his love for the Reich and his heart, torn between the lies he has been taught all his life and the new truth before him.

Black Fox One is a thrilling World War II story of lost love, bravery, and the hard road to redemption.

Book Review:

Black Fox One is an eye-opening story about Germany’s propaganda against the Jews during World War two. But it is also a love story of two people divided by war and hate.  

Lies and secrets were the foundations of this war, a war ignited and fed by ignorance and manipulation, and normal people on both sides of the coin suffered. This is the premises of Black Fox One. The author’s empathy and research can be seen on each page as the story came to life and you get to know the SS officer, the “Fuchsjager”.  

Ava and Jonas were ripped apart and found each other once more at the height of the war. The chipping down of lies came at a cost, and the questions of which side to choose remained throughout this heartfelt story.  

“They lied to me…they lied right to my face. My teachers, my comrades, they all lied to me!” Jonas Amsel said.  

Black Fox One, the moniker of a fierce leader, brings the suffering of the Jewish people's home. The entire team of black foxes was a menace in the German army and one they void to destroy at all costs. 

“You’re a loyal SS man, an Aryan. Don’t forget your nation, no matter what happens. At the end of the day, Germany must come first. Deutschland Über Alles!” Dieter Amsel. 

With two goals on his mind, the one, to find his one true love and own a “Ehrenring”, Jona, a national socialist’s mind, was set on the task at hand. Not knowing what will happen when he continues. But when Jonas was confronted with a different truth he believed, he had to make a choice.  

Since this book is written from Jonas’ perspective alone, it was difficult to know Ava’s thoughts. Yet I could summarize that she had a difficult time in the time they were apart. Though she had to be bitter, I found her endearing character relatable. She knew who she was and made no excuse for it. Her quiet and even sometimes explosive nature was a powerful beacon for Jonas’s character. If not for her gentle tutoring on a somewhat unconventional way, Jonas would have stayed lost.  

The strong bond of love is an ever-present string that holds it together.

The writing is clear and to the point. The descriptions lively as the author shows the story in apt ways. Adding additional dimensions to a very harsh time in our history.  

“I was lied to, he thought, and in the name of that lie he had killed. Murdered. Nausea took hold of him, and he almost collapsed. He was angry. Angry at his father who had lied to him, at the nation which had lied to him, at the lying system he had served.”

About the author

Elyse Hoffman is an award-winning author who strives to tell historical tales with new twists. She loves to meld WWII and Jewish history with fantasy, folklore, and the paranormal. She has written six works of Holocaust historical fiction: the five books of The Barracks of the Holocaust and The Book of Uriel.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Yuri and the pig by C.W. Lovatt. From the best-selling author of the Charlie Smithers adventures

From the best-selling author of the Charlie Smithers adventures 

A farmer and his pig set off on an extraordinary quest across war-torn Eastern Europe.

Entangled in a savage war, the country of Xoraina is fighting for its very existence; but to Yuri, a simple peasant from a remote mountain village, it seems all but certain that the invading Zlaimperians must ultimately prevail. Not that it is of any consequence to him, of course. In Yuri’s view, every form of government is equally bad, so it makes very little difference who holds the reins of power. Indeed, throughout time, the only things that have ever really mattered are that the soil be tilled, the cows milked, and the pigs shipped to market, all in a timely fashion.

But when an exorbitant new tax threatens that philosophy, he sets off with his pig across the war-ravaged land to the Capital in order to fight the injustice. In the process, their journey becomes a road to a terrible enlightenment, causing Yuri to question his deeply seated beliefs. But only when he and his pig find themselves placed squarely in destiny’s path is there any hope of those questions finding answers.

Buy links:


CW Lovatt is the award-winning author of the best-selling Charlie Smithers Collection and the critically acclaimed Josiah Stubb trilogy. He lives on the Canadian prairies and is the self-appointed Writer in Residence of Carroll, Manitoba (pop +/- 20). "Yuri & the Pig" is his latest novel.

EXCERPT (based on the current war in Ukraine):



This tale concerns two countries in Eastern Europe. One, Zlaimperia, is very large. The other country, Xoraina, is much smaller and is situated on Zlaimperia’s southern border. In times past, Zlaimperia was the core of a fearsome empire which, among many other countries, included Xoraina.

Now, also in times past – within the span of a lifetime ago – the Zlaimperian Empire was much weakened because of its struggle with the United States of America and her allies. Although still considered to be an empire by some, many of the vassal states, resentful of their Zlaimperian overlord, chose to go their own way, Xoraina being among them.

In the ensuing years, the divide between these two countries grew ever wider. Grasped in the iron fist of a dictator, Zlaimperia returned to its authoritarian roots. This dictator was known for his ruthless determination to cling to power, as well as his corruption. Xoraina, on the other hand, turned away from its past with Zlaimperia. Instead, they turned toward the western form of government that gave power to the people. In due course it began to prosper.

Now, the all-powerful Zlaimperian dictator lamented the lessening of what his country had once been and swore to regain those glories of the past. He also noticed that Xoraina had repudiated that past and embraced their old enemies in the West. Duly enraged by it, but he was also alarmed to have yet another democratic country on his border, especially a prosperous one, and this one most of all. To some degree, many in Zlaimperia and Xoraina shared a similar language and culture. Also, many people in Xoraina had friends and family in Zlaimperia, and vice versa. How long would it be, he wondered, before his own people, relating to life across the border, saw the benefits of democracy and wanted it for themselves? If such an unspeakable thing should occur, not only would it would be the end of all his dreams of returning Zlaimperia to its former glory, it would be the end of the dictator himself. Clearly, the status quo could not be tolerated. Therefore, girding the country in a blanket of lies, of how the erstwhile vassal state had now fallen victim to deplorable Nazis, he ordered his formidable military to invade Xoraina with two objectives in mind: to eradicate Xorainian democracy, and to absorb the country within a new Zlaimperian Empire.

However, having once tasted freedom, Xorainians were reluctant to surrender to the will of their old master. 

Instead, they chose to resist.


Friday, October 13, 2023

Suzanna's Escape; Another thrilling read from Andrew R. William.

The saga of the Fyfield’s continues in this story as Suzanna Fyfield escapes from the clutches of the Great Ones. All the players are back, with Rob taken out of the equation very deceitfully. Once he returned, he was as a force to reckon with. The question was, would Suzanna finally let go of her feelings for this no-good man?

With Akbar ever present, I found him annoying at times, but also very helpful. Though timing was not his strongest feature.

Suzanna’s escape takes you deeper into Arcadia, as hybrids tries try to kill her. Trusting the right people is of the essences and this ex-commander of the Emperess of Igocnito, quickly learned that not everything was at it seemed. But trust did not come easy for her, and it took a good part of the book to convince her of those who tried to help, of their sincerity.

Sharing her world with Arcadian Wolves and millipedes, hybrids, and AI’s makes this story interesting. It keeps you on your toes as you follow the continues drama as it unfolds. Adding a few twists in the plot, and you too, will be hooked till the last page.  

Website  / Amazon

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Book review: Teaching Machines how To Cry by Dr. Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis


Photo by cottonbro studio:


Teaching machines how to cry by Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis was recommended to me and I found it different. The shell on the book cover made me wonder about the book itself or the untold story. A very unsophisticated cover, but once you follow the story, the meaning becomes clear behind the simplicity. Life is very fragile, the outer casing only shell deep, and if you put too much pressure on it, it will break. The question was, how does this apply to the characters within the book? 

The book is the debut novel from the author, a highly esteemed person with a biography to impress. The relationship between Alba and M is very significant. Hence the name of the book, Teaching machines how to cry. It all began when Alba became ill, and an AI prototype became part of her everyday life. 

The relationship was more a monologue between her and M, where she talked, and M observed. With M only replying when a direct question was asked. But when it was removed from her life, she was left with a longing she could not understand. 

Twenty years later, Dr. Alba lands at the Hölfang Foundation, hoping to find her friend and be part of the groundbreaking work at the foundation. Set in the picturesque Portugal, Alba is confronted with many questions. 

She experiences life intensely. Each person who crossed her path added another dimension to her emotional framework. This became clear when she landed in Rio de Janeiro with the promise of a beautiful romantic time with Dr. P. Which ended with her in hospital and him gone. This experience shaped her even further. 

M, the AI prototype who shadowed Alba as a child to learn about human emotions, role is very significant. Adding no spoilers to this review, the connection between the two was more than just friendship. As secrets are unearthed and files disappear, it became apparent that Alba and M’s relationship holds the key to the future of the Hölfang Foundation. 

I found the author’s writing robotic at times, and the monologues didn’t help to capture the heart of the story. Too much inner dialogue dragged the story out and hindered the flow, in my opinion. Otherwise, a good story any science reader will enjoy. 

Purchase link: 

Brief bio: 

Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis is a citizen of the world who has lived on four continents. She spent most of her career working with the United Nations as a humanitarian, and as a sustainable development practitioner. She led ground-breaking work on the ethical complexities, and potentials, of artificial intelligence. That work informs her debut novel Teaching Machines How to Cry. She holds a PhD in Human Geography and lives in Portugal with her two sons. 


In Teaching Machines How to Cry, Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis explores the story of Alba, a young woman seeking answers for a feeling of longing she can’t explain, and M, an AI prototype. Alba was a child when she first spent time with M, until they were unexpectedly driven apart. As an adult, Alba slowly realises that M might hold the answers to her life-long yearning when she remembers that the last time she felt whole was as a child when she taught M how to cry. This novel explores the symbiosis between AI and the human soul and raises the questions of how machines and humans might live and evolve together in a not so-distant future. 


Diving into humanity’s written history, the team realized that some written records, such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, weren’t easy to understand.

To address this, they adjusted the scope of the case study with a new timeframe. The new timeframe was from 2,600 B.C. onwards. 2,600 B.C. was the date of a Sumerian cuneiform script that had been identified by historians as humanity’s first intelligible written text.

Once the new timeframe for the study was set, the team combined and categorized humanity’s written legacy dating back to 2,600 B.C. Hours and hours of work were spent on collecting all available data sources, including manuscripts, historical documents, court transcripts, magazines, poetry, philosophical essays, children’s books, religious papers, song lyrics, novels, and newspapers.

Then, the scientists wrote several algorithms to do a cross-sectoral examination of livelihoods, political and societal structures, creative arts, religions, and educational systems in the texts. With computations, the team analyzed the data with scatter plots, the Pearson correlation coefficient, the correlation matrix, principal component analysis (PCA), and Lasso regression. But the computations didn’t yield the expected results, and only weak correlations and causations were found among the data points.

The findings of the case study were irrefutable: a core set of ethical values that guided people to do right or wrong in the selected timeframe wasn’t found. The team concluded that the reason was that ‘human history is too inconsistent’.

To advance the implementation of the hL-M-p, a quality assurance team proposed that E would just have to learn the seventh commandment, ‘thou shalt not kill’. The new proposal was presented to the Foundation’s board for approval. A vote was conducted. The tally was eleven votes in favor, and one against. Can you guess who that one vote came from? It was the unintentional criminal, Mr. Austin, who deeply regretted attempting to murder his mother-in-law but believed that manslaughter could be justified sometimes.

At the same time, as was the normal practice, the scientists who conducted the study on moral values published a paper with the proceedings. The paper was entitled: ‘Teaching E to be good: a scientific approach’, and it was published in the journal Science Today. When the paper was disseminated, something unforeseen happened: many voices questioned the scientific rigor of the study.

Social scientists voiced their concerns about the methods used. Historians challenged the timeframe of the case study. And anthropologists claimed that the scope of the study had missed the fact that Homo Sapiens, or the wise man, had walked the Earth for three-hundred-thousand-years. In response to the criticism, the lead data scientist issued the following statement: ‘It’s not true that the history of humanity was simplified for the purpose of the study. The broad scientific community recognizes written knowledge as a turning point in the evolution of human intelligence. The combination of logograms and syllabaries in the selected Sumerian cuneiform script is considered by many to be humanity’s first writing system. So, it is reasonable to use that readable text as the milestone that marks the beginning of the evolution of men. Humans were not evolved before they learnt how to write.’

His statement ‘humans were not evolved before they learnt how to write’ went viral and ignited more criticism. A renowned philosopher then said: ‘The Hölfang Foundation has simplified the complexity of humankind to fit it into machine-learning reality.’

After this, a media scandal developed. For the first time since it was established, the Foundation was under public scrutiny. ‘It’s an unprecedented scandal’, the chairman of the board said. The ‘unprecedented scandal’ resulted in delays in the implementation of the hL-M-p.

In addition, the costs increased by 27 percent due to additional expenditures on lawyers and marketing consultant fees. To avoid further criticism, setbacks, and extra-budgetary expenditure, the board decreed that all research would be kept secret from then on.

‘The world will still benefit from our work, but we’ll not be interrupted again’ the chairman stated. To implement this resolution, the Foundation’s board approved a confidentiality policy that all employees should follow.

After further discussions, the board decided to suspend the hL-M-p indefinitely.

A Ruby Red Christmas by Delilah Hall

  Instagram | Buy link | | Website   Bio:  Delilah Hall is a young Canadian author who lives in and writes smalltown romance. Growing...