Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Grocer's Son by Garrick Jones (Spotlight) GBP

The Grocers’ Son

ADULT title


Garrick Jones

Publisher: MoshPit Publishing

Cover Artist: Garrick Jones

Release Date: September 21, 2022

Genres: Crime Fiction; Detective; Thriller

Tropes: Lost lovers reunited

Themes: The strength of relationships over time; What one will do for love

Heat Rating: 2 flames      

Length:  138 629 words/ 422 pages (paperback)

It is a standalone book and the third book in the Clyde Smith Mystery series.

It does not end on a cliffhanger.



“I swear to God it was Willoughby. My brother stood not two feet away from me, called me Lina to my face, and pulled Harley into his arms, saying he was sorry, sobbing, and calling him his boy.”

An apparition in Sydney’s fruit and vegetable market leaves the mother of one of Clyde’s best friends believing that her brother, hanged for murder twenty-four years beforehand, has somehow risen from the grave and confronted her.

She is adamant that the visitation was real and visits Clyde asking him to investigate the mass murder her brother was supposed to have committed. She believes he was either set up or was covering for someone else’s crime.

Could this vision have been a folie à deux, a delusional vision shared by both mother and son? As Clyde investigates, clues lead him to one of Australia’s most famous silent screen actors, a man who, together with his murdered father, becomes intrinsically linked to the mass murder, known as The Killing at Candal Creek.

Wheels within wheels, lies, extortion, and coverups lead Clyde to a bloody confrontation on a deserted beach in the tropics. This time, it’s not only his own life at risk but also that of one of his most valued and closest friends.


 I was in my “puzzle room” when I heard Harry’s cooee from the front door.

I called it a puzzle room because that’s the phrase we’d used during the war to describe a safe place where we could discuss plans, devise strategies, and toss ideas around. Mine was my bathroom, lying on my back in the bath with the lights out and the shower falling onto my legs, the only illumination from the flickering blue light of the gas geyser. After eating dinner, I’d listened to Mama Lena’s Arrivederci Roma radio programme then had got stuck into some research on Elwood Pearson.

I could hear Harry clunking around in the hallway. “I’m in here!” I called out.

“I know!” he responded, then appeared in the doorway, totally naked except for the black bow tie around his neck and wearing his socks and garters.

“What happened to the master of the house looking for the lazy footman?” I said, laughing because I could see he was more than three sheets to the wind.

He climbed into the tub and sat between my legs, water pouring over his head, grinning at me stupidly. “I changed it,” he said. “It’s master of the house, pissed out of his skull, ravishing the naked footman in the bathtub.”

“Come here,” I said, and pulled his head down for a kiss. “You’re not that drunk,” I added, my hand having found no evidence of brewer’s droop.

“Shh!” he said, biting my chin. “Mark’s crashed in the spare room.”


“Too many cocktails, both of us. We caught a taxi and he helped me up the stairs.”

“So, no noise then?”

“Nup,” he said, then pulled my legs around his hips and let forth a loud wolf-howl.

I laughed then pushed my wet washcloth between his teeth, which he spat out then attacked my mouth with his own. I really hoped Mark had closed his bedroom door. When Harry was in this sort of mood, he could make a lot of noise … not that I was complaining.


About the Author 

From the outback to the opera.

After a thirty-year career as a professional opera singer, performing as a soloist in opera houses and in concert halls all over the world, I took up a position as lecturer in music in Australia in 1999, at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music, which is now part of CQUniversity.

Brought up in Australia, between the bush and the beaches of the Eastern suburbs, I retired in 2015 and now live in the tropics, writing, gardening, and finally finding time to enjoy life and to re-establish a connection with who I am after a very busy career on the stage and as an academic.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Honour's Rest by Judith Crow (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

Honour's Rest


Judith Crow




GENRE:   YA Magical Realism






“So, it’s – what – like magic?”

No, according to Pen’s uncle, the Rite is not magic at all. But, if it’s not magic, then how could Pen push the school bully into a pond while he was really studying alone in the library?
When Pen’s family realise he has the Rite, he is sent to live with his Uncle Napier, who can help him control his ability.
But Napier has other duties. He is the Rendelf, in charge of the Rite in the UK, and he has gathered many enemies over the years…
…enemies who would be delighted to use Pen against him.





“Stop that!” Napier shouted, just as his nephew had done seconds before. But Pen was no less stubborn than his uncle, and the sword continued to move across the room. “Stop that now!”


The hint of panic in Napier’s voice gave Pen a sense of satisfaction. He had achieved what Marley had not. He could see Napier’s fingers working frantically as he wound the Rite around them. The sword was now above his head, the pointed tip of the blade only six feet above him. With an angry cry, Pen sent it crashing down, commanding it to reach its target no matter whether or not Napier stepped out of the way.


There was a loud crash of metal as the sword fell on the floor, and the noise seemed to bring Pen back to his senses. The anger was gone, but it had been replaced with a sickening feeling of remorse and guilt which was already feasting on his insides.


“I’m so sorry,” he said.


His uncle’s face was almost as white as his right index finger, around which he had pulled the Rite tightly to prevent the sword from hitting him. Napier looked at him in silence for a few moments before shaking his head.


“It can’t be helped,” he said, his voice as calm as ever. “I should have known you had it in you. And every Rendelf must face the darker side of his apprentice sooner or later. I should be grateful it happened before you have full control of the Rite. I’ll tidy this place up. You two go and enjoy what’s left of the sunshine.”


Amazon link



AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Judith was born in Orkney, grew up in Lincolnshire and now lives in the far north of Scotland. Her work draws inspiration from folklore, experience and the natural world.

The Backwater, Judith’s debut book, was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2019, and her most recent novel, Honour’s Rest, was a finalist in the Eyelands Book Award.

When she isn’t writing, Judith is a teacher at a primary school in Caithness. She sometimes finds that writing gets usurped by crafting, music, and being a generally doting spaniel owner.











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The tour dates can be found here



My review:

3.5 stars


Honour’s Rest by Judith Crow is the first book in ‘The Rite Way’ series and centers around a young teen named Pendragon (Pen) who inexplicably has been accused of an assault that he doesn’t remember performing. The discovery that his family has been keeping a major secret from him even as he is sent to Scotland to live with his enigmatic uncle turns Pen’s world upside-down, and forces him to learn things about himself and his abilities that he may regret for the rest of his life, however short that may be.

This young adult magical realism story is a dark fantasy that conjures up the sometimes macabre fairy tales that include death and destruction and a high price for wishes granted. Pendragon is dragged into a world that includes something called the Rite, and forced to learn about a destiny that he’s not sure he wants. I had trouble connecting to the young man, whose frustration and passive (and occasionally active) resistance were understandable but not attractive traits. The secondary characters will hopefully get their time in the spotlight, as some of them have challenging stories that are only lightly touched on, and I would have liked a bit more depth.

The magical elements that are sprinkled through the story are creative and compelling, and I’d like to see much more of them in subsequent books. Some of the twists and turns of the story are unexpected and somber, and I was saddened by several of the developments. The story does provide an arc for Pendragon, but there are several dangling threads to keep one anxiously awaiting the next tale in the series. The dangers of dealing with kelpies is a perfect metaphor for the story itself, which is a cautionary tale, best appreciated by those who like a bit of bite in their tales.


A copy of this title was provided for review

Monday, October 31, 2022

Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT


Academy Arcanist


Shami Stovall




GENRE: YA Fantasy






Hopes. Dreams. And literal nightmares out to kill a young boy.


Gray Lexly, son of a candlemaker, wants to escape his life of old-world technologies and study at the prestigious Astra Academy, a school for arcanists—those who can wield magic. But Gray has a major problem. Every night, as he sleeps, he’s visited by monsters. When they injure Gray in his dreams, he wakes with the same wounds in real life…


On the night Gray might finally die in his nightmares, he is saved by the kind and mysterious Professor Helmith, a powerful arcanist. She offers to protect Gray and invites him to attend Astra Academy.


Before that can happen, Gray must bond with a mystical creature to become an arcanist himself. Will he bond with a unicorn? A pegasus? A kitsune? Whatever he bonds with will determine his magical abilities, so he must choose wisely.


And when trouble finds Professor Helmith, Gray must become powerful enough to help her and fend off the terrible nightmares, before it’s too late…






“I don’t want to sleep,” I said. “The monsters will return. They’ll…” 

My father lingered by the door, half inside my bedroom and half in the hall. He turned down the light of my oil lamp, though he didn’t snuff it out. The shadows in the corners of my room grew darker. I dared not stare at them.

“The monsters aren’t real, boy.” My father offered a gentle smile. “Those were just nightmares. Everyone has them occasionally.”

I sat on the edge of my bed, my posture stiff as I tried to act twice my age. With my throat tight, I lifted my left arm. An injury ran from the crux of my elbow all the way to the edge of my palm, scabbed over and red. It was a straight and shallow cut, but it stung worse than a normal wound.

“The monsters are real,” I said, defiant. “I told you—they attacked me.”

“Gray, we talked about this,” my father said, sighing.

His shoulders sagged and his eyes were heavy lidded. He looked tired. Probably because he was. Every day, he worked from sunup until sundown, mixing waxes and perfecting wicks. He was our island’s only tallow chandler—a person who made candles with oil, wax, and animal fat.

My father wore an apron marked with his profession, stained by the hot wax. He rubbed his blistered hands down his sides, no doubt trying to think of what to say. I already knew what he would eventually settle on.

He would say, “You just fell out of bed.”

“You just fell out of bed,” my father muttered.

And then he would say, “I know your arm hurts, but it was an accident. Just go to sleep.”

“I know your arm hurts.” My father half closed the door as he spoke. “But it was an accident. Just go to sleep.”

All those long hours working meant my father didn’t like dealing with problems. He was rather predictable. His most common advice was to just ignore my problems. “They’ll go away eventually,” he often muttered. “Keep your head down and do your work.”

That was easier for him, I supposed.

And although I knew he cared about me and my brother, I sometimes feared he didn’t listen. The monsters in my dreams? They were real. One had attacked me, and if I hadn’t woken up, it would’ve ripped me apart.





AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Shami Stovall is a multi-award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction. Before that, she taught history and criminal law at the college level, and loved every second. When she’s not reading fascinating articles and books about ancient China or the Byzantine Empire, Stovall can be found playing way too many video games, especially RPGs and tactics simulators, or hugging John.


If you want to contact her, you can do so at the following locations:








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My review:


4.5 stars


“Academy Arcanist” by Shami Stovall follows two brothers, Gray and Sorin Lexly, who want a life beyond their father’s candlemaking business. The dangers that follow Gray into his dreams prompt him to pursue his desire to become an arcanist--if he can survive long enough to take the tests.


This young adult fantasy is the first book in the ‘Astra Academy’ series, and returns to the creative world peopled by those who can bond with all sorts of beings, including knightmares, reapers, kitsune, and those rarest of eldrin, mimics. The adventures draw you in from the very first page, as the mystery of how Gray is being attacked in his sleep is contrasted with the struggle to get his parents to believe his troubles and the stalwart support of his brother.

I loved the creativity and the kinship I felt with these characters, including the insecurity of comparing oneself against others only to discover they are dealing with their own issues. It’s great that Gray isn’t perfect, and watching him learn from his mistakes while the brothers continue to support each other is heartwarming. The secondary characters are intriguing, and the layers of mystery that permeate the story make one anxious to keep turning the pages. Naturally, there are some dangling threads to keep one curious about the next story in the series, but this fun, action-packed story had a fascinating arc that reached an exciting conclusion, and I can’t wait to read about more adventures at this academy.



A copy of this title was provided for review

Monday, October 24, 2022

365 Days of Gratitude Journal, Vol. 2 by Mariëlle S. Smith (VNBtM, Guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT


It is my pleasure to welcome author Marielle S. Smith, who kindly answers my question (although I hadn't expected quite so much advertising)...

ELF: How do you mentor others?


MSS:  I love this question so much. As a writing coach, mentoring others is literally my job, but being asked the question forced me to sit down and reflect on my coaching practice and whether I mentor others in any other way.


Here’s what came up for me:


52 Weeks of Writing


One of the ways in which I mentor others is through my 52 Weeks of Writing series. I created this series of journals/planners to help writers get out of their own way and users consistently describe the three volumes as ‘it’s like having a coach in a book’.


Of course, it’s not exactly the same and a journal can never replace the real thing, but the series has been lauded as an affordable way to get at least some coaching in your writing life.


My upcoming book, 99 Writing Prompts and Journal Exercises for Writers to Cultivate Courage and Kick Imposter Syndrome to the Curb, serves a similar purpose. If you want to check it out, I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund its launch.


The Accountable Wordsmiths


Those who’ve purchased a copy of 52 Weeks of Writing get access to my Facebook group The Accountable Wordsmiths. While the group is intended as a safe space where writers can support each other on their respective journeys, I reply to comments where I can, to offer guidance, ask deeper questions, make suggestions, and so on.


I also share my own struggles in the group to show we’re all in this together. I might have a lot of answers, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get into my own way as well ;)


Individual coaching sessions


As a writing coach, I offer individual coaching sessions to writers who somehow got stuck, whether that’s because their plot’s not working and they need a sounding board, they can’t figure out how to prioritise their writing time, they struggle to own their voice and brilliance, it can be anything.


Often, I find that writing-related issues are actually linked to author mindset issues. Someone might come to me with a plot problem, only to learn that the reason they have a plot problem is because they don’t dare to write what their story is asking for.


Or, they think they’re struggling to finish their novel because of time constraints, only to realise what’s really keeping them from committing are fears around their writing style or language proficiency.


3-Month 1:1 Coaching for Writers Programme


During the thirteen weeks of this programme, I work together with writers to figure out why they aren’t where they want to be. What I love about this programme is that it gives us time to dig deep and truly unearth how and why they’ve been getting in their own ways.


Because of my spiritual background—I’m a Reiki master, a Magnified Healing practitioner, a cartomancer, and an Akashic Records reader—I sometimes use different coaching modalities during the programme as well, if my clients are up for it.


Sometimes, we run into something that seems to be running so deep, it needs a little more than regular coaching sessions to get to the bottom of it. What these modalities do is offer a fresh perspective, an angle our thinking brains easily overlook because it might not be as obvious at first glance.


However, this is not for everyone and that’s absolutely OK—you don’t need to be spiritual to work with me. But, if you are open to explore this other approach, I’ve booked some great results using different these modalities.


While I used to offer these alternative coaching modalities only during the three-month programme, I’ve recently started offering individual sessions in my inner circle, the success of which made me decide to include a coaching reward tier for individual sessions in my current Kickstarter campaign where you can choose whichever modality you prefer.


At this point, I have no idea whether there’s any demand for that amongst my own followers, but it’s been so rewarding doing this for my friends and so immensely helpful, I wanted to give others a chance to try it too.


So that’s how I mentor others. I have my book, my Facebook group, and my actual coaching practice. When I started my freelance editing business all these years ago, I’d never expected to end up as a writing coach, but I’m so glad I wholeheartedly said ‘YES!’ to it when it crossed my path. .


365 Days of Gratitude Journal

Vol. 2


Mariëlle S. Smith




GENRE:   Non-fiction; self-help






*** Now available in black-and-white AND full colour! ***

The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.’ Mary Davis

Gratitude is not just about ATTITUDE.

Gratitude is about PRACTICE.

But how do you create a gratitude practice that sticks?

After the success of her first 365 Days of Gratitude Journal, writing coach Mariëlle S. Smith brings you Volume 2. Same journal but with an entirely different look!

After years of barely surviving her own emotional minefield, Mariëlle discovered the transformative power of practising gratitude. But, like no one else, she knows that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done.

365 Days of Gratitude, Vol. 2 is an undated, guided journal. Complete with inspiring quotes, daily prompts, and recurring check-ins, it was designed to help you create a sustainable gratitude practice too.

Commit to the life-changing power of gratitude today and order your copy now!







I’m not here to sell you on gratitude. There are many articles and research papers I could be citing to convince you just how great practising gratitude is for you. I think you’re already aware of that, though. Perhaps you’ve read some of those articles and papers or maybe you just know it somewhere deep down—or not so deep down.


I’m not hooked on gratitude because it works wonders on my blood pressure and promises to help me sleep better. Although it probably does that, too.


I’m hooked on gratitude because it enables me to perceive everything in life as magical again. I’m hooked because I’m not the same person I was since I started practising it. And because I slip and return to being that anxious, burned out, overachieving workaholic as soon as I stray from the gratitude path—which happens far more often than I care to admit.


Gratitude is a commitment for life. I created this journal to help you commit and turn your gratitude practice into a sustainable one.


 Purchase Links

All purchase links can be found on



Amazon (Deluxe edition)

Barnes & Noble (Black and white edition) 

Barnes & Noble (Full colour edition)  



AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Mariëlle S. Smith is a writer, writing coach, and editor. She lives in Cyprus, where she organises private writer's retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.


Contact Links







YouTube channel




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The tour dates can be found here



My review:

4.25 stars


365 Days of Gratitude Journal, Vol. 2  by Marielle S. Smith is a non-fiction book aimed at reminding one to find something to be grateful for every single day, and encouraging one to reframe even negative occurrences into something to appreciate. There are inspirational quotations every so often, and a place to plan for making the following day even better.


I like the way this encourages you to live a life of positivity and to stop and appreciate things. Although I tend to like having lines to write on, the spaces allow one to perhaps sketch or apply stickers to help make the journal your own. I tend to forget to write daily in a journal, so it’s nice that the pages are labelled with just a sequential day which may or not be the next calendar day. The prompts such as what I could have been more grateful for today stimulate introspection and thoughtfulness. I think this would be a lovely gift to oneself or for someone else as a tool to make one’s outlook on life more positive.



A copy of this title was provided for review

Friday, October 21, 2022

Innocent Eyes by Gabbi Black (Spotlight and excerpt) ADULT title


Innocent Eyes

ADULT title


Gabbi Black

Hardworking university student Tarah Peters has observed tycoon Sebastian Merrick from her security guard post for weeks. Under his gaze, she experiences desire for the first time in her life, and his unexpected proposition both daunts and intrigues her. 

Sebastian doesn’t proposition women, but feels compelled to offer Tarah a place to live and money for her schooling while he introduces her to his darkly erotic world. Her naïveté calls to him, but he must maintain an emotional distance while showing her the meaning of submission.

Tarah yearns for Sebastian to admit he wants more than just a Dominant/submissive relationship, that their enthrallment is mutual. Can she convince him this might be more than just an affair?



She’s a diligent student.

He’s a masterful teacher.

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Exclusive Excerpt


Like clockwork, Big Tits reappeared at four a.m. Tarah held the door open for the woman, watching to make sure she made it to her cab. Although that service wasn’t in her job description, she believed prudence was important. It wouldn’t do to have one of Mr. Merrick’s companions get injured and sue the strata corporation.

After watching the taxi depart, she took in a deep lungful of frigid air before turning back to her desk.

Sebastian Merrick leaned against her console.

She stopped dead in her tracks.

“Good evening, Miss Peters.”

She froze, rooted to the spot. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine he might know her name.

“Good evening, Mr. Merrick.” Morning had almost dawned, but she followed his lead. “How may I help you?”

His gaze was intense and unwavering.

Maintain eye contact. Don’t let him see how he affects you.

She tried to hold his gaze but, in the end, she couldn’t. His eyes were too incisive, too piercing.

“You get off work at six, yes?”

She swallowed convulsively. Damn dry throat. “That’s correct.”

“I’m taking you out to breakfast at six-fifteen.”

That would give her enough time to change from her uniform into street clothes. “That w-would be f-fine.” Stammer much?

He inclined his head and strode to the elevators. Of course, one waited for him. Even an elevator wouldn’t dare defy him.

When he disappeared into the car, and the doors slid shut, she let out the breath she hadn’t even been aware she’d been holding. Sitting because her legs couldn’t hold her any longer, she snickered because it never occurred to her to say no.





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