Monday, November 20, 2017

Review of FDA by Kelli Keith


Kelli Keith

November 19, 2017

Book Title:

Book Author:
Rick Giernoth

Date of Publication:
September 1, 2009

Number of Pages:

Main Characters:
Jack Randolph (a.k.a. Ryan Bennett) a reporter for the Chicago Tribune that regularly reports on cover-ups, conspiracies, and is a general nuisance for the editor.

Martini (a.k.a. Josh Gibson and Jonathan Taylor) is Jack’s confidant, mentor, and a seemingly anti-establishment hippie.

Other Important Characters:
Chelsea, Zip (William), Peter, and Tim are a group of “rebels” out to prove the agencies’ wrongdoings.

The mid-2000’s in multiple locations throughout Canada & the U.S.

Jack Randolph is fired from the Chicago Tribune when “the board” pulls his latest conspiracy story about the government eliminating cures for major diseases.  With the help of his long-time friend, Martini, Jack delves further into the investigation.  It started as a simple pursuit of the truth evolved into a wicked web of lies that cost Jack his safety, security, and love of his life.

Key Points/Conflict:
Jack is summoned to his editor, Mike’s, office and once again lectured on his performance as a reporter.  Mike points out that Jack is not a team player and chooses to ignore employer commands to follow his own hunches/leads.  Jack’s current story on a government conspiracy to cover up cures for cancer is vetoed by the board of the Tribune.  Mike, hesitantly, fires Jack for using one to many chances to do the right thing.  

Jack immediately runs to his friend Josh Gibson, nicknamed Martini, to find a conspiracy hidden in his firing.  It doesn’t take long for the paranoid, anti-establishment Martini to convince Jack that the government owns the papers and is truly hiding the cure for cancer.  Jack decides he must continue to dig so he can expose the truth.  This digging leads Jack to a Dr. Lamb, living in Canada, former head of Starfish Labs and receipt of millions in cleverly hidden grant dollars.  

Upon arrival in Canada, Jack, who has now adopted the person of Ryan Bennett, approaches Dr. Lamb with a disturbing story about his (fictional) dying daughter.  When Dr. Lamb ignores his sob story, Jack hunkers down, planning to work on him over time.  It isn’t long before Jack realizes he is being watched.  

He finally gains an audience with Dr. Lamb, only to be interrupted by agents who swiftly shoot Dr. Lamb and his wife.  Jack jumps through a window and narrowly escapes.  In constant contact with Martini, Jack sets out to find another source for his article.  Ultimately, it is revealed that Martini is part of the agency and is attempting to eliminate Jack by exploiting the years of “friendship” they developed.

This devastating revelation leads Jack to become part of a rebel team devoted to exposing the agency for what it truly is. Peter, Zip, Tim, and Chelsea accept Jack into their group and plan to kidnap Martini for information.

Once the kidnapping is complete, the dark secrets of Martini’s past are revealed.  A plot twist ultimately lends Martini to the side of the rebels where he plans to use his remaining life to atone for his past sins.  Martini secretly kept documents that could bring every level of the agency to its knees.  The team has to retrieve the items and hope that time and luck are on their sides.

Further betrayal, death, and misfortune plague the group as they take on an unseen villain that has poisoned every aspect of the planet.

If you aren’t a paranoid, conspiracy theorist at the beginning of this book, you will be by the end! For the first half of the book, it seems like the main character is a paranoid schizophrenic chasing imaginary shadows in the comfort of his own brain. Jack, although highly intelligent, comes across as extremely self-centered and doggedly persistent.  In the beginning of the book, it is mentioned that Kate is the love of his life and he promises her that he will be home that evening for dinner. Instead of keeping his word, he goes to Martini’s house and stays for two days sorting through corporations for leads on his cure story.  The next time Kate is mentioned, she has been murdered. Jack’s reaction was typical but more so of someone who had lost a security blanket, instead of someone he loved.

The character flaw also reared its head when he posed as a father with a dying daughter to gain the trust of Dr. Lamb and his wife.  For the typical reader, everything else aside, it was this act of deceit that made Jack unlikable.  

Continuity throughout the book was pretty on point, minus an issue or two.  The most prevalent was when Martini’s nose was broken, “His nose snapped; the crack echoed through the cabin (location 38.7%)” it is never mentioned again.  No discussion of cleaning up the blood, splinting his nose, or any later references like, putting on his prosthetics to cover his misshapen nose.

During the house fire, the description of finding Zip’s hip confused this reader.  The house was supposed to incinerate at 5,000 degrees yet, Chelsea was able to go in and pick up a titanium hip replacement with her bare hands, not even three minutes after the blaze ignited.  However, at this point, the reader is so engrossed in what will happen next that they are probably reading too fast to care!

(The mention of Circuit City in chapter twenty-four dates the piece.  The company liquidated and closed the final store in early 2009.)

The ending… ah, the ending.  Mr. Giernoth seems to have left the story open to become a series OR he was unsure how to end this riveting tale.  This reader will err on the author’s side and say he is going to wow us with more adventures where Jack is the lead character.

FDA is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review of An Alien’s Guide to World Domination by Linda Workman-Crider

Book Review: An Alien’s Guide to World Domination by Elizabeth Fountain

Review by: Linda Workman-Crider

If you are seeking mainstream Sci-Fi, this is not it. This is more along the lines of Literary Sci-Fi. If you are not sure of this difference, Octavia Butler’s short story, Speech Sounds, is an award-winning example of Literary Sci-fi and can be found as a free read online. To me, the main difference is the focus on the human condition, along with fancier word choices and sentence structures. For the gist of An Alien’s Guide to World Domination by Elizabeth Fountain, imagine the movie Men in Black, but rewritten so that the aliens remain in their human form for most of the movie (One of the characters in this book is named Thomas Lee Jones, a nod by the author which may lend some credence to my statement).

A boy and an old man, Uncle, secretly stow the boy’s sister and Uncle’s wife aboard their pod as they are being exiled from their planet. They randomly land on Earth at the Teton Dam just as it is filling for the first time. The automatic self-destruct timing of their pod causes the Dam to collapse and flings their wispy alien bodies in two separate directions, with the boy and Uncle landing together in Selah, Washington and the girls flung off in the opposite direction. They all eventually take over dead bodies as their new skins. The boy takes the name Jack Smith and goes off to find his sister. He eventually gives up searching and moves to Prague trying to forget her. Our main alien protagonists, Jack Smith and Louise Armstrong Holliday find themselves working for the same company, PPP3, and smack in the middle of an alien plot to turn all humans into cyborgs. It’s up to them to save us from our fate. Will they decide we’re worth the effort?

While the plot reads science-fictiony enough, the getting through to the alien plot points requires trudging through vast amounts of mundane corporate deals and the unappreciated lives of office workers; some of which is relevant to the story-line, but most of which is commentary on the human condition. I think it was while reading an entire page and a half of an email, sent to Jack from Louie, with the subject line: “Re: My theory about middle aged white men” that I realized this was a literary plot-line and that the guidelines for the mainstream sci-fi review were no longer relevant. My review is now biased due to my, shall we say, lack of enthusiasm for literary fiction. If I use a literary standard that requires some difficulty to, or more than mainstream standard of intricacy for the literary plot, I would label this, in my best professional voice as, “meh.” Some portion of this score is based on a lack of, in literary terms, verisimilitude (believability), on how we get from one plot point to another sometimes by miraculous means (If someone challenges me on this due to literary sci-fi not being based on predictability, but instead on description, I will concede the point. Literary works are often prized for breaking the rules, which makes none of the rules really matter anyway).

While we are given glimpses of most of our alien characters in their natural form, we spend what feels like ninety percent of our time with them in their human forms. Their alien-ness becomes more like an afterthought even as they fight to save our world from galactic invasion. Since the main function of literary fiction is to be a commentary on the human condition, it makes sense for the characters to be written in a way that focuses on their human qualities. Moreover, there is not even a need for our characters to be rounded. They are merely props to propel the statement of the literary work. In this case, “In the event of almost certain galactic doom, humans might not be worth saving.” Love, kindness, and compassion are presented as alien conditions unique to the protagonist characters of our story, especially in our main characters, Jack and Louie.

I would not trust my own review regarding the level of closeness developed with the characters by the reader. My bias against literary works in general would hinder the building of these relationships. However, I can say in fairness that Fountain’s characters all had unique traits and styles that set them apart from one another. Each character was interesting in some way, and with many given their own chapter of background, the architectural foundation for closeness, at the very least, has been laid.

Fountain’s world-building is where she lost me as a reader the most. She wrote the individual settings well and I could even accept alien junk dealers traveling the galaxy to sell pfootahns. I had a hard time accepting an inconsistent ability of “knowing” things that should not be known, of wispy aliens—that could just pop into a dead human body— developing (or needing) zippers to leave the human form, of the perfect dead bodies to match the alien character profile of old man or young woman to be so conveniently available, or of one alien changing into what could be called a fairy godmother and causing fairy-tale types of events to occur. These things push past the sci-fi genre limits, push past the fantasy genre limits, and land within the genre of fabulism. The reader is thus left never really understanding what type of world the story is taking place in.

My overall impression is that An Alien’s Guide to World Domination lacks a focus of genre that will alienate all readers with preferences to specific forms, but most closely matches the label of Literary Science Fiction. Unfortunately, I think a literary reader would find the word choice and sentence structure too mainstream for their liking. It’s quite possible that this book should more aptly labeled as Experimental Fiction and that this issue of mislabeling is the largest actual issue in terms of understanding and recommendation of this book. I believe my issue of bias has been solved. While I would not recommend this book to Sci-fi fans, I can recommend this book under the guise of experimental fiction to those who read literary fiction mainly for the commentary on the human condition.

An Alien’s Guide to World Domination is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Exclusive Peek at Under a Calico Moon

Under a Calico Moon
By Ellie Lynn
Historical Romance
Champagne Books:

When everything you love has been taken, sometimes all you have left is revenge.

He took her hands, kissed her fingertips then stared at them for a long moment. Tilting his head, he smiled at her with a lopsided grin. “You don’t know how to ride?”

She grinned. “Horses. Cowboys are a whole other beast.”

His smile faded, and he grew serious. After he drew her up and onto his lap, his lips touched her hair. “I love your faith in me Lil, but I’m afraid for you. I don’t know who is behind all of this, or even why. How can I protect you when I don’t know what the hell is going on?”

“I—” she started to speak, only to be cut off as Chet’s mouth touched hers.

He pulled his lips away from her mouth. “It isn’t safe, Lil. Until we can draw this guy out into the open, it isn’t safe. That’s why you can’t stay.”

“But I want to stay.”

“I know, and God knows I want you to, but you can’t,” he said. “First thing in the morning, I’m taking you back to Calico, and you’re going to stay there until this thing is settled.”

“I most certainly am not going to stay in town like a good little girl!” Lil snapped and jumped up from his knee. “You may think you are in charge, mister, but let me tell you something—no one tells Lil Kersey what to do. I’ll go back tomorrow because I have a business to run, but I’ll return to check on you in a few days.”

She raised her finger to silence him when he opened his mouth. “Furthermore, I happen to be falling in love with you, you big lunk, so don’t think you can keep me away from you.”

His eyebrows shot up. “You... you are?”

Tugging at her lower lip with her teeth, she smiled sheepishly. “Maybe.”

“Maybe?” he said and got to his feet. Lord, when that man stood in front of her, he was the tallest drink of water this side of the Rio Grande. And she loved it.

“I sometimes say things without thinking,” she said and waved a hand in front of her. “Pay it no mind.”

He grinned, tugging her toward him and lowered his face to hers. The last thing she heard before he gave her another heart- stopping kiss was, “Whatever you say, Miss Lil.”

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review of A Wicked Truth by Kelli Keith

Kelli Keith

November 12, 2017

Book Title:
A Wicked Truth (Book 3 in the Cady Delafield Series)

Book Author:
Joyce Proell

Date of Publication:
September 7, 2015

Number of Pages:

Main Characters:
Arcadia “Cady” Delafield is the administrator for the Women’s Prepartory School. With the wedding date set, one nefarious act after another threatens her happily ever after.

Doyle Flanagan is a wealthy businessman continuously cloaked in controversy. He was shunned from high society when his wife’s, Millicent, suicide was investigated as a murder—with him as the prime suspect. After his name was cleared, life seemed to be getting back to normal, when he is drawn into a new mystery.

Other Important Characters:
Sophie Newberg was the best friend of Doyle’s deceased wife. She comes to him seeking help in locating her missing sister.

Inspector Jack Dinsmore is the lead detective on the kidnapping and homicide cases.

Faith and Hope Delafield are twins and sisters to Cady.

Victor Masters is the voice coach to Sarah and Faith. He is also the unwitting liaison for the kidnappings.

Hollis Grover is a greasy conman climbing the societal ladder along with his brother, John (Grover) Gilbert. Gilbert is the long-time foe of Doyle, seeking revenge any chance he can.

Chicago, Illinois; May, 1881.

Young girls are being kidnapped into a brothel to service Chicago’s elite. When someone from Doyle Flanagan’s past requests his assistance, he becomes a reluctant detective into the seedy underworld of human trafficking, brothels, and cover-ups. When Cady’s sister becomes a victim, time is running out to solve the crime. Is it revenge against Doyle or happenstance?

Key Points/Conflict:
It should be noted that I have read the other two books in the series and will attempt a standalone review of A Wicked Truth.

Book 3 of the Cady Delafield series begins by setting a scene within a brothel. A young girl awakes, groggy and disoriented, only to remember she has been sexually assaulted and is now being held captive. A portly man (Police Chief, Vernon Lester) enters the room to repeat the previous night’s escapades, which robbed the girl of her innocence. Armed with only a weapon of opportunity, she stabs the man. The girl’s captor enters and throws her, causing her death. The captor disposes of Vernon and Sarah, by the river.

Doyle Flanagan is visited by Sophie Newberg, a friend from his past. She is seeking his assistance in locating her missing sister, Sarah. Rumors were flying that Sarah had run away with Patrick Driscoll, to elope. Due to Sophie and Sarah’s elite status in society, going to the police was out of the question. Doyle agreed to help because his sister is roughly the same age and he would hope someone would help if it were she that was missing. All the while, Doyle and Cady are planning a wedding for June 18th, much to the dismay of Cady’s grandmother.

We are introduced to Hollis and John (Grover) Gilbert, two half-brothers who have conned their way into a societal position. They began with nothing, scheming and lying their way to the top. Hollis is the mastermind behind all the dirty dealings, while John is the one who arranges for the kidnappings. We learn they are responsible for Sarah’s death and are on the lookout for a new virgin to service their clients. While John seems hesitant and quick to blame Hollis’s temper for the snafu, he goes along with the plan, especially because it may exact revenge on his main rival, Doyle Flanagan.

Detective Jack Dinsmore is the lead homicide officer on the cases. He enlists Doyle’s help to question Sarah’s family and on the cases in general. Sarah’s family decided to keep her death under wraps and tell people she eloped to keep suspicion and gossip at bay.

When a little girl (Molly) is kidnapped from the orphanage, John is suspected and thrown in jail. Upon his release, Cady’s sister Hope is also kidnapped. These events coincide with Cady’s grandmother having a horrible accident that results in a broken hip and a lengthy hospital stay.

With time running out to save Molly and Grace, Cady and Doyle must break societal rules to find them.


The prologue immediately draws the reader into the heart of the story, which begins May 12, 1881. Each chapter is subsequently labeled with a day of the week so the reader is able to keep close tabs on the timeline of the story. (Chapter 16, about 50% through the story, is one day short of two weeks from Sarah’s murder.) Although, this reader lost track of how many days had past!

As part of the series, this novel was the best as a standalone. The continuity was on point and the characters were well-developed. I found myself breathlessly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

When Cady’s grandmother had an accident, it felt misplaced and more like filler. Four to five chapters later, it became clear it was being used as a way to repair the damaged relationship between Doyle and Mrs. Prentice—which was necessary for a successful marriage and family life for Cady.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is, by far, my favorite out of the series. It truly stands on its own and would not require any additional reading.

A Wicked Truth is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Sneak Peek at Upcoming Books Part 2!

So, last week's post was so popular with our new authors, we decided to keep it going for another week! Check out these awesome to-be-released books we have in our pockets. Remember, you can always check out what's new at the Champagne Bookstore.

February, 2018
Title: Storm Child
By KM Tolan

"Becoming a steam child was supposed to be fun

Red was meant to live a carefree life among the great steam locomotives as one of Hobohemia’s mischievous steam children. She leaves her human body behind, but not her childhood demons. A Gypsy blessing becomes an unintended curse, releasing an unbridled power inside her. Red becomes an unwilling sword in the hands of others eager to wield her anger. Before she can stop them, she must first defeat herself.

Title: Rush
By E Jourdan Lewis
Adult Urban Fantasy,

For centuries humans have been enslaved, oppressed, and demoralized by Shifters. The government has passed the Human Civil Rights Act giving humans the same equal rights as Shifters. Humans can now eat in the same restaurants, shop in the same stores, and attend the same school as Shifters. They cannot however, fall in love with one.

Jane, a twenty one year old human girl, spends every day battling against the oppressive rules of her mother’s house. Always teetering between what her parent’s expect and what she expects of herself. When her latest act of rebellion results in her mother cutting off her funds for college, Jane must figure out a way to get a job and pay for college in a city where Shifters are still far too superior to consider humans worth their while.

Rush, a Shifter living in an oppressive tiger streak just wants to lie low and protect his sisters from their abusive Alpha while earning his approval. When Rush is stuck with Jane as his study partner for the semester he keeps his distance to avoid the wrath of his Alpha. After spending time with her, Rush realizes that Jane isn’t what he expected. She’s strong, and intelligent, with an iron will. Things he was told the dimwitted humans weren’t supposed to be. Soon he learns they have a lot more in common than their shared oppression, and Rush finds himself wishing for more with Jane. The kind of “more” everyone warns them against. Jane may be the love of his life but if their secret is discovered by his Alpha there’ll be more than hearts at stake. There will be blood.

March, 2018
Title: A Knight in Distress
By Barbara Russell

Knights rescue damsels. That’s the natural order. So when Nathair, a knight in training, finds himself rescued by the princess he’s supposed to save, he’s annoyed. And when the princess proves she can fight like a knight? Well, that’s enough for a boy to think about a career change.

July, 2018
Title: Camouflage
By Ivy Keating and Scott Spotson
Science Fiction

Secrets, hidden for millions of years, are about to be unleashed in a small idyllic New England town. When Vanessa Strauss, the alluring owner of a faltering gift shop, reports a popular high school coach missing, the new headstrong police chief Sean Dermott is determined to solve the case. But when the investigation exposes a deadly force of nature, no one is safe. In the chaos that follows, everyone must find a way for nature, justice and love to survive.

Fall 2018
Title: Falling from Haven
By Carly Marino

Darkness lies in the most heavenly of places.

“When the Teraphim slays a Nephilim, the angelic empire will fall.”

These words haunt eighteen-year-old Coy—child of an Angel and a Fallen. She fights her demon side to prove the prophets wrong. When she’s attacked by a Nephilim, she inadvertently unleashes her Fallen nature, triggering the prophecy.

Imprisoned in Haven with her family, Coy must face her inner demon. Tested beyond endurance by the Nephilim’s vicious Prime, she realizes he desires more than preventing the Angels' downfall, and if they don’t escape, soon, they die. Hunted by the Prime’s Legionnaires, Coy must storm Haven’s defenses to rescue her family. Embracing her demonic half may be their only chance. But if Coy surrenders to evil, again, she may never return from her darkness. At the edge of despair, she finds Killian and his tantalizing promise of freedom. His angelic looks and devilish allure boost Coy’s strength and flutter her heart.

But trusting him is another matter.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Review of Traitor Knight by Linda Workman-Crider

Book Review: Traitor Knight by Keith W. Willis

Review by: Linda Workman-Crider

Morgan James McRobbie—Knight-Commander of the Legion of Kilbourne, Viscount of Westdale, damsel defender, friend to the king, and …traitor to the kingdom?

For Morgan McRobbie, being known as the Dark Knight due to his mixed heritage wasn’t that bad, but the new double meaning that included “traitor to the kingdom” was quickly becoming an issue. This becomes obvious when he rescues Marissa from the impending jaws of a dragon, an event which she treated as almost trivial, only to be horrified at discovering the identity of her rescuer. Still Marissa agrees to the obligatory dinner to show her gratitude, which turns out to be heart-flutteringly enjoyable for the both of them, until she questions Morgan’s loyalty to Kilbourne, a matter he has made an oath to the king not to discuss. A second date finds Morgan stabbed, Marissa kidnapped by Morgan, and both of them brought face to face with the Rhuddlani spy whom Morgan was trying desperately to avoid. From here, this mostly fast-paced tale includes enough court intrigue, espionage, murder, and mayhem to satisfy the intellectual, while the seemingly star-crossed romance and well-timed humor keep the rest of us involved and entertained. This is a Knight’s tale that satisfies childhood fantasies, as well as the adult mind.

The plot-line for this book is much more intricate and detailed than I had expected. While being an excellent knight’s tale, this is also probably one of the best spy plots that I have ever read. At one point, I had a mini-mental war with myself over if this might be more of an espionage novel that could work in any setting. I was surprised that I couldn’t untangle this plot from Morgan and Kilbourne. Willis has wed them together so naturally that it felt wrong, on many levels, to try to tear them apart. If you are a plot-driven reader, this plots for you.

A quote of self-description from Morgan: “I am no spy. I don’t have the subtlety necessary for intrigue. I certainly don’t have the thick skin required. Of course I’ve gotten used to the whole ‘half-breed’ thing over the years. But that’s something I have no control over—I am what I am, for good or ill.” Morgan will prove himself wrong on the first three sentences. He is delightfully rounded, containing as many human qualities as he does heroic traits.

A quote to understand Marissa: “Snaring a man is not my ambition, as you well know. And, considering the current crop of eligible men in Caerfaen,” Marissa observed with some asperity, “such a task doesn’t rate a particularly high priority. Peacocks in dress, peacocks in brains, the lot of them…” Marissa is no easy target for affection for any man, regardless of his station. Still she finds herself falling for a traitor, enough so that this damsel will desperately try to save her knight (a fact that I hope both the author and the reader will forgive me for revealing. This role reversal is just too good to leave unmentioned).

Keith W. Willis gives us almost complete backstories on our main characters. I could probably reveal more about Morgan and Marissa than I even know about some of my own family members. These characters are not just well-rounded, they are heftily weighted with history, experience, and emotion. Even the side-characters, of which there are many, hold dimension through unique traits, mannerisms, and styles of voice. They are intricate ingredients to the settings, scenes, and tone of passages. Willis creates believable textualized humans and not just merely props to propel the story. The only way a reader would avoid becoming embedding within this community, is if they suffer from anxieties which may leave them feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of people they are being surrounded with. These are not characters that are easily ignored.

I recently read an online article in The Conversation entitled, “How Kazuo Ishiguro Won the Nobel Prize in Literature – According to Research.” A portion of a quote from Ishiguro shared in this article comes to mind when I contemplate Keith W. Willis’ world-building in Traitor Knight. Kazuo Ishiguro said, “…We live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time and we can’t … forget one or the other.” Ishiguro and Willis (who graduated from Berry College with a degree in English Literature) must have this one thought, at least, in common when it comes to their writing and word-building. The world of Traitor Knight reaches outside of the bubble of our main characters, outside of court, spills out into the streets of Kilbourne, and reaches distant lands and leaders to span through time, generations, and history. On top of this expanse, lay tiny bubbles of smaller worlds, like the Legion, the Council, or the Watch. The amount of skill, effort, and talent to communicate these interconnected worlds to the reader is not small. As a creative writing student, I am in awe of Willis’ ability to keep all of these little worlds contained in a way that never harms, but only adds to, the telling of the main story. I would nominate Keith W. Willis for a Nobel Prize in world-building, if I could…though he might want to do something with the first two pages beforehand.

The first two-pages of this book are not any indication of the depths we will soon be diving within the realm of Kilbourne. In fact, the first two pages seemed a bit over-the-top and cliché. However, they are extremely important to the rest of the story. I look back upon them as a portal of sorts that allowed me entry to into Kilbourne. I view them as a key to and a caricature of the world that soon follows where humor and sharp wit abound, but where the reader has a bit of work to do to keep up. There is, as mentioned, a large number of names to keep track of, especially during a scene that contains a meeting of the Council. It is impossible to know who among these many names will be majorly important later on in the story. I feel strongly that if you are up to taking on this type of challenge, the enjoyment found in this book is well worth every effort. I also recommend buying this particular book in print form. Not only will there will be passages that you will wish to highlight and read again, I think that there is a unique quality to this book that deserves a physical presence. Keith W. Willis has earned himself a fan with Traitor Knight. I believe you may find yourself becoming a fan, too.

Traitor Knight is available for purchase on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Excerpt from Under a Calico Moon

Under a Calico Moon
By Ellie Lynn
Historical Romance
Champagne Books:
When everything you love has been taken, sometimes all you have left is revenge.


Sunlight streamed through Chet’s window, warming his face and boring under his eyelids. His head pounded. He turned over. “No,” he said to no one in particular.

The sun did not go away, so Chet dragged himself to a seated position and put his hand up to shield his eyes. Damn, why hadn’t he closed his curtains last night? He snorted. Because he had been drunk, that’s why. That’s why he was still in his clothes too.

Cradling his head in his hands, he replayed the night before. Banjo, the horses in the barn. And Lil. He raised his head as he smiled.

Coffee. He needed coffee. Chet stood and stretched. And a cook who would have that coffee brewing already. He simply had to take care of that today. He was damn tired of jerky, cornmeal and the bitter coffee he always seemed to make.

Stripping off his clothes, he grabbed up a towel and a cake of soap and headed downstairs to one end of the back porch and the makeshift shower stall he’d set up there. It was an interesting contraption, with a large bucket for a reservoir which, when the attached rope was pulled, would tip into a smaller bucket with a series of holes punched into the bottom. It worked pretty well, and he could manage it by himself without having someone stand on a chair and pour the water over him. Would probably be way nicer if he could figure out a way to make it work inside without tearing his house apart to install that newfangled plumbing they had in the east, though.

He gave a gentle tug on the rope to release a bit of water, then lathered himself. Once sufficiently soaped, he tugged again, and the remaining water sluiced down over his body, washing the suds away.

Returning inside with the towel wrapped around his waist, he climbed the stairs to his room, dressed quickly, and then went into the kitchen to make his coffee. While the hot brew perked, he stretched again and looked out the kitchen window. The open barn door drew his attention.

With his brow quirked, he gave his head a shake and thought hard. No, he hadn’t left the door open. Banjo wasn’t in the corral, so he must have gone inside. Chet stamped on his boots and went outside.

His frown deepened as he took the two steps down from the porch. Someone had been in his garden. Cabbage and lettuce heads were scattered across the dirt, carrots uprooted and the few potatoes still growing were yanked free from their hills. This was no accident.

With gaze fixed on the barn, he hurried across the yard and entered carefully. Damn him for forgetting his Colt. But how often did one need a gun when checking on his horses? He made a mental note to keep the holster near him from now on.

Nothing seemed amiss. Horses in their stalls, haystack at the far end intact, tack on their respective hooks. He moved deeper into the barn, gaze darting left and right for anything out of place. He knew every nook and cranny of his barn and left no place unturned for someone to lurk in the shadows and wait to be stumbled upon. His gaze fixed on a saddle askew over a bench on the left, near a rear side door. The varmint must have escaped through the side door when he heard Chet and Banjo returning the night before, and being so dark, and a little drunk, Chet hadn’t noticed the damage to the garden.

He secured the side door, then moved to Banjo’s stall. He rubbed the horse’s nose, then removed his saddle and headgear. Grabbing up a brush, he stroked the beast, cooing his apologies for sending him to bed with tack in place. Then, he led the horses out into the pasture for the day. Fortunately, none were injured. Just his garden.

Crossing to the chicken coop, he found nothing out of order there either, so he collected a few fresh eggs for breakfast and returned to the house for a cup of coffee.

He was just cleaning up his breakfast dishes when a dust cloud appeared, coming from the east. He dried his hands, belted on his holster, and with coffee mug in hand, stepped out onto the front porch to wait.

The rider came into view, and Chet relaxed. Leaning against a porch beam, he sipped his coffee, then raised the mug to the marshal.

“Matt, good to see you,” he said as the marshal dismounted. He came forward and looped the reins over a fence post, then climbed the steps to shake Chet’s hand.

“I heard you were lookin’ for me yesterday.” He took his Stetson off and pushed a hand through his neatly clipped brown hair. “Since you went all that way for nothing, I figured I’d come on out to see you before I go into town today.”

“Thanks, Matt.” Chet moved aside to let the marshal up onto the porch. “Coffee?”

“If you still have some on the hot plate,” he replied.

They sat across from each other at the kitchen table. Chet cradled his mug between both palms. “First of all, I need to hire a cook and some ranch hands. Thought you might know someone lookin’ for work.”

Matt pursed his lips, then gave a nod. “Chili Bob knows someone. He’s got a friend visiting from Lincoln County. Not getting much done with him around, so drop over to the ranch and meet him.” He sighed and raised his coffee mug to his mouth. After he sipped on the hot brew, he shook his head. “I miss Chili’s breakfast stew. Haven’t had much of it since Pete came around. They’re too busy talkin’ about old times.”

Chet rolled his mug back and forth between his hands. “I’ll drop by this morning then. Need someone here sooner than later.” He glanced up. “There’s more. I don’t know what’s going on yet, but something’s definitely happenin’ around here.”

“Oh?” Matt’s brows came up.

“Yeah,” Chet said. “Let me show you.”

He stood and motioned for the marshal to follow him.

They went out the back door and into the yard. Chet gave a half-hearted wave in the direction of his decimated garden. “This happened sometime last night. Barn door was open when I got home from Lil’s a bit after dark. You know me, Mallory. I don’t leave the barn open when there’s no one here.”

“Boot print,” the marshal said with a thrust of his chin. He knelt to examine the outline of the impression in the dry soil.

Chet nodded. “Found one just like it behind the barn yesterday morning.”

“Any idea who it could be? Seems kinda odd for this kind of mischief to start just out of the blue.” The marshal stood and continued his perusal of the yard.

Chet shoved his hands into his pockets and lifted his shoulders. “I don’t know. Yeah, it’s weird, but it’s been going on for weeks now.”

“Find anything else?”

“No,” he said with a shake of his head. “Not yet, anyway. Mostly just that feeling that something isn’t right.”

Marshal Mallory looked at the garden patch again. “You know, Chet, water works really well to grow vegetables.”

Chet laughed and clapped a hand on the other man’s shoulder. He nodded. “Yeah, I know. I had an epiphany yesterday. Decided it’s time to get back to living again. I’m done wallowing in my own pity. Was gonna water and get the garden in order today, but now… I almost have to replant it all.”

“No, not all,” the marshal said. “You can probably save some of the carrots and potatoes if you wet ’em and put them back in the ground. The cabbage and lettuce can probably be used early if you clear off the damaged leaves.” He started walking toward the house. “I need to get into town, but I’ll keep my eye open for anything strange. And I’ll get the word out. If this is happening at your ranch, it could be happening at some of the others’ too.” He waved as he headed around the house, to where his horse waited. “Don’t forget to drop by and talk to Chili Bob and his friend, Pete. Palomino Pete. Don’t ask him where the Palomino came from. You don’t want to know.”

Monday, November 6, 2017

New Release: Under a Calico Moon

Under a Calico Moon
By Ellie Lynn
Historical Romance
Champagne Books:
When everything you love has been taken, sometimes all you have left is revenge.

Recovering from the death of his brother, Chet Bowman is finally finding a sense of normalcy. He's through hiding from the world on his ranch, and he's tired of being alone. He's ready to act on his long-time attraction to Lil Kersey, the sultry saloon owner who runs his favorite watering hole.

While his relationship with Lil blossoms, their courtship comes under fire from the former marshal of Calico, now gone rogue. As Austen Riley ramps up his revenge on the cowboy who thwarted his plans to control Calico, Lil struggles to survive Austen's unwanted attentions.

When the dust settles after one final gun fight, will Lil and Chet find their happily ever after? Or will Austen's maniacal revenge tear them apart forever?

Review of Under a Calico Moon by Kelli Keith

Kelli Keith

November 5, 2017

Book Title:
Under a Calico Moon

Book Author:
Ellie Lynn

Date of Publication:
November 6, 2017

Number of Pages:


Main Characters:
Chet Bowman is a lonely rancher trying to recover from his past.

Lil Kersey is the local madam and saloon owner, looking for a lasting love that won’t allow her to lose her independence.

Other Important Characters:

Marshal Mallory is the current law officer of Calico.

Amy Mallory is the main character from the first novel. She married Mallory and is the local school marm.

Austen Riley is the villain and former Marshal of Calico.

Calico, California; 1880.


Chet Bowman is still recovering from the death of his brother, Chas. It has been 6 months since former Marshal, Austen Riley, stood back and watched a lynch mob hang Chas from the gallows. Chet decides he cannot live in solitude any longer and seeks out a new cook, two ranch hands, and the company of Lil Kersey. When strange things start happening, Chet realizes he needs to end Austen Riley once and for all. Will he find the villain in time to save the damsel in distress?

Key Points/Conflict:

Second in the Calico series, the story continues for the residents of this small California town, set in the 1880s. It should be noted that I have not read New Prints in Old Calico (the initial book,) so this is a standalone review.

Chet Bowman has been living in solitude on his ranch for the last six months. Still reeling from his brother’s death (read: murder) and the betrayal of the former Marshal, Austen Riley. After another terrible meal, Chet decided he needed to end his solitude and hire a chef and some ranch hands.

As he rode into town, he thought of Lil Kersey. Lil is the madam and owner of a local saloon/brothel. Chet and Lil have an obvious affinity for one another. Although she is a madam/saloon owner, people still seem to treat her with respect. Lil and Chet begin to court and things seem to be going well. Strange accidents begin happening on Chet’s ranch. When a stray bullet nicks Lil’s arm, Chet tries to retreat to solitude. Lil’s strong nature and desire for Chet’s love, forces him to stay the course.

Back in town, Lil sees Austen Riley, former Marshal of Calico. Now wanted “Dead or Alive” for murder, rape, and corruption, the townspeople are on edge and fear that Riley is behind the misfortunes at Chet’s ranch. After a raid on Marshal Mallory’s ranch, and Lil’s subsequent kidnapping, a posse is formed to end Riley’s reign of terror once and for all.

Lil has been taken to a secluded area of the desert where she suffered from heat exhaustion. When she awakes, she is in a makeshift jail cell with Calico’s doctor, Harvey Witmer. Riley kidnapped him to take care of Lil. Witmer and Lil escape the compound and wander the desert for days until Riley finds them and takes her back into custody, leaving the Doc to die.

The posse discovers Doc in the desert and nurses him back to health. He remembers enough to lead them back to the compound. Once there, an epic gun battle ensues. Chet is wounded, Lil is nearly killed, and Doc saves the day by killing Austen Riley.

As a standalone, the book is okay. Although some parts of the previous conflicts and relationships are explained, it does not negate the need to read to first novel.

The gunfights are well written and leave the reader anxious about the outcome. The language used is sometimes a bit too anachronistic and reminiscent of t.v. show Westerns written in the 50s. (Lil is very similar to the Miss Kitty character from a famous television series.) Other minor characters add a lot of fun and much-needed flair to the book. Palomino Pete, Chet’s cook, is one of the more adorable characters and his limited backstory added a relevant touch to the main plot.

The novel is in the historical romance genre. While this reader enjoyed the simplistic, non-descriptive loves scenes (definitely along the lines of PG,) those who are more inclined to read bodice rippers may be disappointed. It’s a wholesome love story, innocent and tender, which is a nice change of pace.

Although it doesn’t seem historically accurate, I enjoyed the idea of Lil’s character. She seems to be respected by everyone she meets, despite her occupation. The fact that she owned her own saloon would have been a near impossible feat in the 1880s but her character is so likeable, that detail doesn’t matter.

Overall, I found the book to be a quick, mildly enjoyable read. Some additional backstory on the characters would have been helpful, truly making the novel stand on its own. Mark this “to read” on a cold Sunday afternoon this winter.

Under a Calico Moon is available at Amazon, Kobo, and the Champagne Bookstore

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Sneak Peak at What's to Come

On this weeks Savvy Saturday, we thought we'd give you a little sneak peek at what's coming up. We have a lot of new authors here at CBG, and we can't wait to show you what they have! Remember, you can always check out what's new at the Champagne Bookstore.

January, 2018

Title: Into Nostra, Book 2 of The Pact
By Brantwijn Serrah


Deals with the devil always have their price. Problem is, the devil collects with interest.

Serenity Walker thought she had the upper hand when it came to her partnership with a demon. D'aej was dangerous, but he was always on her side. Then an old friend lifted the scales from her eyes and Serenity saw her contract for what it truly was: imprisonment. Bloodshed. Evil, done by her own hands.

Now Serenity must pay for her ignorance, and work harder than ever to fight a demon who can use her body, fool her senses, even twist every thought in her head. Only one sorceress has the power to teach Serenity what she really needs to know...a sorceress possessed by a fiend even bigger and badder than any Serenity has seen before.

March, 2018

Title: Love on Lido Key, Book 2 in the Keys to His Heart Series (Tentative release month)
By Meg West

Janie Alexander never expected to find herself widowed at age twenty-seven--nor did she ever dream she might find her second husband by fulfilling her promise to her first husband to watch the sunset every night on Lido Beach. All would be bliss if only her former in-laws--and her new love Nick's boisterous Greek family--would mind their business. . . .

Title: The Reluctant Empress
By Teresa Howard

It is YA Science Fiction with Romantic elements

Ninallia is young, young and desperate. She sells the only thing she owns to save her family, her body. Believing family lore that they descend from royal blood, she agrees to become a surrogate for an infertile couple.

Ninallia’s world is turned upside down when the Emperor and Empress are assassinated, and she discovers that the child she is carrying is the heir to the throne.

May, 2018

Title: Crossroads, first of the Of Heaven and Hell series. (Tentative release in May 2018.)
By Hannah McKee


Craving a normal existence, half angel and half demon Mika Addo hides in plain site as a human. She goes to graduate school and even gets engaged to the man of her dreams. She can’t escape her heritage, though, and soon finds herself on a mission to rescue her family. With archangel Javed at her side, Mika must battle angels, demons and her own fate as she determines exactly what she is meant to be.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tattle and Wrye column November 2017 edition

From the desk of ~


We are so happy and eager to this interview with J. S. Marlo! So, rather than dicker and dacker, we are off for our Love of Literature Leap immediately!

Tattle and Wrye leap into J. S. Marlo’s kitchen. 

T: Ta Daaaaaa! We’re baccccck.

W: Aren’t ya glad to see us. (Tosses J. S. an apple) We’ve been eating healthy lately and encouraging others to do so.

T: (Chews quickly so her chipmunk cheeks won’t give away that she just squirreled away two cookies before they left) Yum, yeah, right… errrr…. I brought grapes and plain water. (Can’t help crossing her eyes cause she hates plain water)

J. S.: Hey guys! I’m guessing you didn’t bring any melted dark chocolate for me to dip the fruit in, did you? Nevermind, I’ll melt some right now. Make yourself comfortable.

W: (Grabs a chair and straddles it backwards) So, it’s like this, doll face.... and instantly starts dipping into the melted chocolate. Tattle snatches the biggest strawberry before he can get it.

T: (Interrupts) Doll face? Really? What century are you in?

W: (Blinks, checks his notes) Oh, wait, sorry, I was just reading a gangster dime novel from the thirties, got my timeline confused. (Gives big puppy eyes) Please accept my apologies for being inappropriate.  Book/genre hoping can throw a guy off.

J.S.: No worries, I’ve been called worse. I was in charge of an election office a few years back, and you should have heard what some people called me when they were too late to vote. Come to think of it, you don’t want to know what these guys called me. 

T: And with that, we are jumping right into our interview. Be warned, we are getting downright serious with our interview. We have totally become investigative reporters, so brace yourself! (Gives J. S. the narrowed eyed ultra- serious look) What character do you think about most when you are alone in your car?

W: (Mouths) That’s all you got?

T: (Mouths back) I’m new at this serious stuff.

Both look at J. S. awaiting her answer.

J.S.: Let's see…if I’m alone in my car, that means I’m driving, right? And when I’m driving alone, I like to sing-along my playlist. That way I don’t scorch anyone’s ears. Between you and I, I’m an awful singer, and I couldn’t carry a tune if my life depended on it, but I still like to sing. So, to answer your question, I don’t think about any characters.

W: Now let’s get down to business. (Pops up from his chair, walks around J.S., eyeing like a private detective from that dime store novel he had been reading. A toothpick appears in his mouth) What would be the soundtrack to your HEART and ENDURANCE series?

J.S.: “Never Surrender” by Corey Hart

…So if you're lost and on your own
You can never surrender
And if your path won't lead you home
You can never surrender
And when the night is cold and dark
You can see, you can see light
Cause no one can take away your right
To fight and never surrender…

It’s a beautiful song. Perfectly fitting. You need to google it and listen to it.

T: If your characters Hope Craig, Sheriff Morgan and Colonel Matheson from your Novel COLD SWEAT came for dinner, what would you cook for them? 

J.S.: Hopefully they would come during the summer so I can barbecue. I live in northern Alberta, so sorry but I don’t cook outside at -40C (-40F). I’d barbecue T-Bones, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and I’d make a giant garden salad.

T/W: If you could live in one of your books, which book would it be?

J.S.: Tough choice…It’d be a toss between living on Riley’s ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta (in Unscripted – Duty Bound Series #1) and living on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Prince Edward Island (in Unearthed – Duty Bound Series #2).

T/W: Do you remember the first galactic alien you ever met? (Feel free to use your imagination if you hadn’t met any.) And what book of yours did it want to read and why?

J.S.: I knew my imaginary friend Bob wasn’t imaginary. He’s an alien! Sorry Bob for mistaking you for a figment of my imagination all these years.

Bob loves “Cold Sweat – Heart & Endurance #1”. He read it three times. He’s fascinated, and a bit infatuated, by Hope and her abilities, resourcefulness, and resilience.  See, Hope is deaf, but she can read lips and people better than Bob can, and she refuses to let anything or anyone stand in her way. She’s a tough cookie, the kind Bob loves.

T: Is being a writer a gift or a curse? If it is a curse, would you like to curse someone else and who would that be? (Tattle points to Wrye)

W: Hey, I am already a writer and I think it is a gift.

T: I know, silly-smarty-pants, I just like it when you turn red and sputter.

W: Oh… ummm… Cheese doodle on a cracker, ye-literary-goofer, that was a conversation ender. Sooo, m’dear,  J. S. (Offers J. S. a gentlemanly bow) As always it has been a pleasure. 

T: Yes, thank you for your time. You are indeed a delight. 

As they escort themselves out, Tattle leaves a box of homemade chocolate chip cookies. 

J.S.: Thank you, guys! It was fun. Come again. My door is always open….except when it’s cold. Then you have to knock, and hurry in. Au revoir!

Book Titles:

Unscripted – Duty Bound Series #1
Unearthed – Duty Bound Series #2
Untamed – Duty Bound Series #3
Cold Sweat – Heart & Endurance #1
Thin Ice – Heart & Endurance #2
Hot Water - Heart & Endurance #3 (coming in August 2017)

Links to buy your books:

Champagne Book group
Barnes & Noble

Social links 



Until next time, keep reading!

Books by: Angelica Hart and Zi
Books by: Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane