Review and Giveaway: Ghost Owl by Nancy Schoellkopf

Details:

Book Title: Ghost Owl by Nancy Schoellkopf
Category: Adult Fiction, 181 pages
Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction with magical realism
Publisher: Butterfly Tree Publishing
Release date: October 2017
Tour dates: Nov 20 to Dec 8, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (There are a few non-explicit sex scenes)

Book Description:

Ghost Owl is a magical story of discovery, as a young woman seeks to understand her potential and confront her own shadow. Mariah Easter wakes up in the middle of the night to discover the world is as bright as noon—but for her eyes only. Urged by her godfather, she embarks on a mission to peer into the dark spaces normally hidden from view, leading her to confront the sinister nature of power, the vulnerability of the ill, and the hidden life of a homeless man: a journey that will bring healing to herself and the man she loves.

This compelling and inspirational tale, the third installment of the Avian Series, invites the reader to ponder the extraordinary treasures hidden in the ordinary events of daily life.

To read more reviews, please visit Nancy Schoellkopf’s page on iRead Book Tours.

 Review

This was the third book in Nancy Schoellkopf’s  Avian series, so not only was I familiar with most of the characters, but with the subject too: a spiritual journey to the main character’s inner self.

Now, I’m not a spiritual person, but I like the idea that there are things in this world which appear mystic and strange to your average human being. I quite enjoyed the first two sequels, so when asked if interested, I readily agreed to read the Ghost Owl.

Where the first two volumes didn’t stretch my imagination too much, this volume was a lot more taxing. I simply cannot imagine anybody actually having an experience like Mariah has, other than maybe suffering from an undiscovered brain tumor. Then again, I’m sure this isn’t to be taken literally, and although I failed to explain the experiences in any way I can understand, I guess those who live spiritual lives won’t have that problem.

Be that as it may, I decided to read this book as the quest of a young woman, recently bereft of her beloved dad, to find out who she is, and what her goal in life is.

As such, the story reads very well, it is interesting, colourful, and even has suspense in it.

Mariah goes missing, and her best friend Rafa and her half brother Dale try to retrace her steps with the help of Mariah’s journals, which Rafa studies meticulously in search of clues to Mariah’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Mariah is blissfully unaware of the frantic search for her, and experiences a lot of ‘Oh’-moments. When it is getting too much for her to cope with, she returns to her home and the people she loves, and she does know a few things she hadn’t be aware of before.

At first, we’re always a step or two behind Mariah, following her journals, but at some point we catch up with her. It is here that things get quite fantastic, but they’re still interesting. This book will certainly stay with me for a time while I try to figure out what exactly it is it wants to tell me. I know there is a message in there for all of us somewhere, and this message is wrapped in an interesting story, fluently written and very readable.

Disclosure: Thanks to iread book tours for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

 

Buy the Book:

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Author: 

 

Nancy Schoellkopf is the author of the Avian Series of novels including Yellow-Billed Magpie and Red-Tailed Hawk, as well as the short story collection Rover and Other Magical Tales. She has been telling stories and writing poems for many lifetimes. It goes without saying that she’s needed a second income, so this time around she happily taught amazing children in special education classes in two urban school districts in Sacramento, California. A full time writer now, she enjoys lavishing attention on her cats, her garden and her intriguing circle of family and friends.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

 
Enter the Giveaway
Ends Dec 16

 

 

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Painter’s Apprentice by Laura Morelli

Book Details:

Book Title: The Painter’s Apprentice: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice
Author: Laura Morelli
Category: Adult Fiction, 482 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: The Scriptorium
Release date: November 15, 2017
Tour dates: Oct 16 to Nov 17, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (some adult situations but no sex or explicit violence)

Book Description:

Would you rather sacrifice your livelihood, your lover, or your life? When the Black Death comes knocking on your door, you’d better decide quickly.Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

When the painter’s servants uncover the real reason why Maria has been sent away, they threaten to reveal a secret that could tear down her family and the future of their trade. She is forced to buy the servants’ silence, but as their greed steadily grows, Maria resorts to more desperate measures. She questions whether her heart’s desire is worth risking her family, her trade, and her future, but Maria’s sacrifices may amount to nothing if the plague arrives on her father’s doorstep before she is able to get back home.

From the author of the award-winning The Gondola Maker comes a rich tale of Renaissance Venice, a heroine with a lust for life, and love against all odds.

 

 

Buy the Book:

 

 

 


 

 

Meet the Author:

 

LAURA MORELLI holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, has taught college students in the U.S. and in Italy, and currently produces art history lessons for TED-Ed. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and has contributed pieces about art and authentic travel to CNN Radio, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, and other media. Laura is the author of the Authentic Arts guidebook series that includes the popular book Made in Italy. Her fiction brings the stories of art history to life. Her debut novel, The Gondola Maker, won an IPPY for Best Historical Fiction and a Benjamin Franklin Award.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

 
Win a signed paperback of The Painter’s Apprentice and a $20 Amazon gift card (open to USA only)
Ends Nov 25

 

 

Review: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!

 


To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.
Today we stop at
The Murders at Astaire Castle, book 5 of The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:


Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

 

 

 

Book Description:

 


Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop – even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago – and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet – including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

 

My thoughts:

This is the fifth book in the Mac Faraday Mystery Series, and the second book I listened to. Like Old Loves Die Hard, this can be read as a stand-alone novel. All the characters and their connections are properly introduced, and although it is clear that we’ve moved on in time, I never felt I missed something.

In this book, the focus is more on David and his past, than it is on Mac Faraday. And David has an interesting past, a good deal of which is connected to the haunted Astaire Castle, a property belonging to Mac Faraday and of which the latter had been ignorant until now.

Strange things used to go on at the castle, and the moment Mac Faraday gets involved, the series of murders starts afresh.

It is all very mysterious, and once again, the ending is perplexing (good job that I’m not a private investigator). There’s even some paranormal activity, but it is believable, considering the whole circumstances.

I really like the characters of Mac Faraday, Archie, David, and the rest, but I absolutely love Gnarly.

He’s such a great dog, and all his antics grant some comic relief. I laughed out loud on occasions, I really pictured Gnarly doing what he did. In my eyes, he is readily the best character in this series.

Last week, I said I’d love to explore the area at Deep Creek Lake, but I’d give that castle a wide berth (fortunately, it is fictional).

Dan Lawson did a wonderful job at narrating the story. I have to say that I enjoyed this narration more than the one I wrote about last week. The characters were very distinctive, especially Hector, the Australian. I’ll certainly listen to other books by Dan Lawson, his take on the novel convinced throughout — as did the story. It drew me in right from the start and is a true page turner.

My thanks go to Laura Fabiani from iread booktours who provided me with a free copy of this great audio book.

Meet the Author:

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Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Meet the Narrator:

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Dan Lawson
Over the past several years Dan Lawson has appeared in numerous spots for radio, television and the internet. He has worked with All-State, Sprint PCS, Mountain Dew and many more. His unique ability to mimic existing characters and celebrities has landed him diverse voice match work ranging from Charlie Sheen to Morgan Freeman.

In 2008 Dan was cast as the first American voice actor for the Korean video game company, Nexon. Over the next several years Dan was the flagship voice of the company, appearing in such titles as Mabinogi, Maple Story, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Dungeon Fighter Online and Atlantica. In total he has voiced nearly 100 characters for Nexon.

In late 2012 Dan’s voice over career took an unexpected turn into book narration. His first audition landed him the job of narrating The Psychology of Twilight, a psychological look at the wide-spread obsession of the Twilight saga created by Stephanie Meyer.  Eighteen more audiobook narrations have followed and show no signs of slowing down.

Interview: James C. Lewis (Narrator) & Review: Old Loves Die Hard by Lauren Carr (Author)

Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!

 


To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.Today we stop at
The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:
Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Old loves die hard…and in the worst places.

In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches story of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits 270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.

Mac is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up-and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.

The investigation leads to the discovery of cases files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?

With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn’s reputation, before its five-stars – and more bodies – start dropping!

Disclosure: Thanks to iread book tours for sending me this audio book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

My thoughts:

This was my first MacFaraday novel, as well as the first novel by Lauren Carr. It is not the first book in the series, but I had absolutely no trouble following the plot, because all the characters are properly introduced, and their background is sufficiently explained, so I never felt that I missed something because I didn’t know the previous books, yet.

The story is a mystery until the very end; there are many twists and turns, and I never saw it coming. It was convincing, too. We have a great character-building here, the characters aren’t just black or white, but everything in between, most of them have something to hide, so we have lots of suspects.

I wasn’t too sure about the dog, it has a special ability which seemed odd, if not impossible, but then who knows what a well-trained, intelligent dog is capable of. I have since done a bit of research, and apparently it’s not all that abstract after all.  I absolutely loved the dog’s antics, in those moments,  he seemed to be one clever dog-like dog.

I’m now curious about the area, and I’d really love to see it for real one day. The story drew me in from the start, and kept me listening; and I look forward to listening to others in that series.

I only really just noticed the cover (I’m not a cover person), and I wonder if it could give a wrong impression. Let me assure you, that the author doesn’t dwell on all the gory details of the bloody murders here committed, and although there is some romance, it’s not at all taking place between linen sheets.

The narration was good and easy to listen to. Although there isn’t much in the way of different timbres, dialects, or accents, and all the characters sounded more or less alike to me, I didn’t really have problems following who said what, so there must have been variations after all, but they certainly weren’t overdone.

I already told you how the interview came about in a previous blog post, and here it is now:

Interview with narrator James C. Lewis (see more below):

How do you prepare for accents and different characters?

 

Once I was narrating a book of 19th century preachers in Wales. One of them was from Cynghordy, a village in the rural community of Llanfair-ar-y-bryn in Carmarhenshire. Oh my! I went to my usual sources: You Tube and several web sites. Finally I called Spire Hospital in Cardiff, the capital. (I have a phone plan that costs only one cent per minute for international calls.) But they were too busy saving lives and hung up on me. Then I phoned up the newspaper, the South Wales Argus in Cardiff. The young reporter thought I was joking. But I convinced him I was on the level. And he helped me right away! I think that my decidedly American accent may have helped.

 

Are there any genres you prefer narrating?

 

I have a fondness for crime fiction and spy dramas. I come from a journalism background. At one time, I was a police reporter in Seattle and I came to deeply respect cops and their emotionally taxing jobs. And I enjoy being the voice of the tall tough-talking private detective with the snazzy girlfriend. (I’m not very tall. But please keep that information just between us.)

 

Will you narrate any book if the conditions are right?

 

I have narrated a wide range of books but not erotica. But I’ve narrated some horror fiction with really creepy monsters. (They’re actually the best!)

What is the hardest part of narrating a book?

 

The hardest part is finding the voice of the character. Is the character old, young, angry, happy, educated, ignorant? And of course where are they from. I find that evil characters from Eastern Europe are the easiest to do. And it’s hard being confined to a small studio by myself (other than the character’s voices).

 

How is the work with the author?

 

I really like Lauren Carr’s work. Being the voice of Mac Faraday is great fun. Lauren writes for the ear as well as the eye. She would be a great screen writer. (And she’s wonderful to work with!)

I’d like to thank Mr Lewis for answering my questions, and Laura Fabiani from iread book tours for managing it all.

Meet the Author:

Picture

Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Meet the Narrator:

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Another Audible Approved narrator, voice actor  James Lewis has established a solid reputation in fiction as well as non-ficton audiobooks. At latest count, he’s narrated nearly 50.

Although his specialty is noir fiction, James has done several non-fiction books as well on a range of people and subjects: Butch and Sundance, General Custer, Revolutionary War, psychic development, taxes.

James Lewis has been awarded the AudioFile Earphone Award for narration, “The Last Outlaws”. It’s about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

 

Coming up: Review of Old Loves Die Hard / Interview with James Lewis

 

As part of Lauren Carr’s  Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour, I volunteered to listen to two of her mysteries: an early one (Old Loves Die Hard), and a more recent one (The Murders at Astaire Castle). Plus, I applied for an interview with one of the narrators. Now, I’ve never done an interview before, so I wasn’t sure what questions to ask. After all, the goal is, to ask interesting questions. In the application form, I typed a few in off the top of my head, intending to deliberate in an email — which I never wrote, because I was just so consumed in all to do with my moving house and all that entails.

So, Laura from iread booktours and James C. lewis had only the original questions to work with, and they did a great job — much better than what I did. My review of Old Loves Die Hard and the interview will be part of the above mentioned Blog tour on May 11.

For information and the schedule of the whole tour look here.  There’ll be reviews,  interviews with other narrators, give-aways, and more.

So,mark the date and place: May 11, here on this blog.

Review: Red-tailed Hawk by Nancy Schoellkopf

 

 

Book Description:

 

When Mariah Easter encounters a large hawk in her urban midtown neighborhood, her father Charlie is concerned. He can see a wild and mystical path opening before his daughter, a path he himself would never be able to resist. The hawk soon reappears: engraved with its twin on a golden thimble that has been an Easter family heirloom for generations. After the thimble is stolen at a funeral reception, Mariah and her mother Samantha set off on a road trip to find it, a journey that will bring healing to the grieving family and change Mariah’s life forever.

Continue reading

Review: Yellow-billed Magpie by Nancy Schoellkopf

Nancy Schoellkopf: Yellow-billed Magpie; Butterfly Tree Productions, 204 p.,

Book Description for Yellow-billed Magpie:

 

Unlike their black-billed cousins, yellow-billed magpies are rarely found outside California’s central valley. So when they begin showing up in Samantha O’Malley’s dreams, she wonders: are they calling me home?

 

Disappointed by failed fertility treatments and the break-up of her marriage, Samantha returns to her home town and slips into old habits, resuming her teaching career, even hooking up with an old lover. But she also renews her friendship with Craig, the school custodian she honors as her spiritual guide. The work they do together with Samantha’s special education students will lead her to discoveries she never thought possible.

 

Yellow-billed Magpie is a love story, a spiritual journey, a quest to look beyond appearances to the mystical rhythms that guide the human heart.

 

Buy the book:   Amazon  ~  Add to Goodreads

My thoughts:

When I browsed the iread book tours for available books, I came across Red-tailed Hawk by Nancy Schoellkopf. The synopsis sounded interesting, and since it was hinted that, though not a sequel, it was in a way related to Yellow-billed Magpie, I decided, to review this, too.

Now, I’m not into this whole esoteric business, and I haven’t actually researched spirituality, but  the latter fascinates me. I read Mutant Message Down Under all those years ago, and I devoured the Inspector Shan Tao Yun novels. All describe spiritual peoples of a very different origin, and I’m awed by this.

In Yellow-billed Magpie, there is yet another form of spirituality described, and although I cannot really comprehend it, it is yet fascinating. I couldn’t find out on which people’s spirituality the one in the book is based on, my feeling was, that it was a mixture of various.

The spiritual journey Samantha does, isn’t lying at the fore for a long time. The main story is about her trying to pick up her life where she left it before her marriage, and how she is coping.

We get glimpses of something indefinable throughout the book, but it is only when Craig appears on the scene that things start to take shape.

I have to admit, that although I’m convinced that there are more things between heaven and earth than we can explain scientifically, I couldn’t quite buy into some of the things described here. This may be due to my lack of religious belief on the one hand, and ignorance of the whole matter on the other hand. However, this being fiction, I am willing to accept it, because I have no problems accepting lots of  impossible (to me) things in fantasy and science fiction novels.

On the whole, this was a nice story about a woman finding her way after having lived through some unhappy years, and glimpses into the work with children with special needs to boot.

The language is simple and very readable, the book could do with some editing, though, there are missing or wrong words and punctuation.

Disclosure: Thanks to iread book tours for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

 About the author:

Nancy Schoellkopf is the author of Yellow-billed Magpie, the first in her Easter Family series. Nancy has been telling stories and writing poems for many lifetimes. It goes without saying that she’d need a second income, so this time around she has happily taught amazing children in special education classes in two urban school districts in Sacramento, California. A full time writer now, she enjoys lavishing attention on her cats, her garden, and her intriguing circle of family and friends.

 

Connect with the author:    Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook