Review of “We Are All Made of Stars” by Rowan Coleman

27405338I purchased this book because Random House posted it on Instagram, saying that fans of “Me Before You” would love it. I read “Me Before You” years ago but I was fresh from the movie theater and dying (no pun intended) for something that would invoke the same feelings. And possibly make me cry so hard my husband thought I was vomiting, as “Me Before You” succeeded in doing.

We Are All Made of Stars” didn’t disappoint.

The book follows the eventually-intertwined narratives of three Londoners – Hope, a twenty-one year old with cystic fibrosis who knows the end could come at any time; Hugh, a love-’em-and-leave-’em history professor still trying to get over his mother’s suicide, and Stella, a hospice nurse whose husband returned from Afghanistan broken in body – and even more so in spirit. It explores the love between friends, between parents and children, and and between husbands and wives, without ever being preachy or smug. Illness and death is handled intelligently instead of melodramatically, and the characters are real. They say the wrong thing, they make bad choices, they hurt the ones they love – and they do love. In fact, love seems to be the overarching theme of the novel. It explores how love develops, how it sustains, how it hurts, and how it heals.

Each character is fully developed and endearing in his or her own way, and I enjoyed reading the letters Stella would write for the patients at the hospice – letters she wasn’t allowed to deliver until the patient passed on. And while it didn’t end on the completely gut-wrenching note of “Me Before You”, the poignant and bittersweet conclusion was entirely satisfying.

And don’t let me conclude the review without mentioning my favorite character – the cat. Really. Read it, and you’ll see why.

A Five Directions Press Update

Five Directions Press has come a long way since our early days. No longer are we a tiny group of three sitting around a dining room table wondering if we’re going to get our books finished in time to have a release – any release – this year. Instead, 2016 saw us double in size and add not only American members far from our little Philadelphia suburb, but our first international member, and all of these new writers contribute impressive

LWoAtH coverJoan Schweighardt is the author of such books as Virtual Silence and The Accidental Art Thief, and we are so happy to have reissued her novel The Last Wife of Attila the Hun. Joan comes to us from the now-defunct Booktrope Editions and Last Wife has been enthusiastically endorsed by such authors as Diana L. Paxson, Julie Mars and Julie Shigekuni. It was given a Five Directions Press makeover, including interior formatting and a new cover designed by yours truly.


Rewind

Denise Allan Steele comes to us from San Francisco by way of Scotland and her debut novel, Rewind, is slated for release by the end of this year. Rewind tells the tale of a teenage girl growing up in Scotland in the 1970s, the era of Margaret Thatcher and coal strikes, and what happens when she returns home for a funeral and is confronted by her past. 

 


 

Falcon Cover 1 - FInalGabrielle Mathieu is our international author, and the first installment of her Falcon series, The Falcon Flies Alone, is an exciting and dramatic historical fantasy set in Switzerland and Germany and explores the infancy of psychedelic drugs. The Falcon Flies Alone is slated for release on August 3. Gabrielle herself lives in Switzerland and has two more Falcon books in various stages of development, which will be released over the next few months.


Not only did we add three new authors to our shelves, but our veteran members have been busy expanding their own backlists. C.P. Lesley released the third novel in her Legends of the Five Directions series, The Swan Princess, in April. Ariadne Apostolou is putting the finishing touches on four novellas, grouped together under the title West End Quartet and due to be released by the end of the year. And I will be releasing my second novel, the first installment of my Silver Bells contemporary holiday romance series, on November 3. 

Ariadne is also a talented artist and has been hard at work this summer on developing coloring pages related to 5DP novels. So far she has produced pages for C.P.’s Legends series and Joan’s Last Wife novel, and is now sketching out scenes for Gabrielle’s The Falcon Flies Alone and my own A Holiday Wish. To download these, just sign up for our newsletter – they’re free, and we’re adding more with each new book release!

What’s In My TBR Pile?

Every once in a while, I go through my e-book library and stumble upon books I bought a long time ago and never got around to reading, for whatever reason. Maybe I meant to start reading, got distracted and forgot. Maybe it was temporarily on sale and I bought it to get the low price and then – yup – forgot. Whatever the reason, I have at least two dozen books between my Kindle and Nook libraries that I bought with every intention of diving into immediately, and somehow didn’t.

While I’d love to issue myself some kind of TBR-pile challenge, at this point I’m still not settled into my new routine well enough to take on yet another project. But someday I will be, and when I am, these are the five I want to start with.

the queen's vowThe Queen’s Vow, by C.W. Gortner

 

 

the divinersThe Diviners, by Libba Bray

 

 

the lady elizabethThe Lady Elizabeth, by Alison Weir

 

 

the garden on sunsetThe Garden on Sunset, by Martin Turnbull

 

 

night swimNight Swim, by Jessica Keener

 

 

How about you? What’s at the top of your TBR pile?

Guest Post from Bambi Lynn

I cut my teeth on historical novels and didn’t start reading paranormal Romance until Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor. Then I discovered Sherrilyn Kenyon, and I was definitely riding the paranormal bandwagon. I’ve enjoyed my share of vampire and shape-shifter novels, but when it comes to my own writing, it’s all about history—with a few Celtic gods and goddesses thrown in. For the first time, I’m delving into the contemporary with my GODS OF THE HIGHLANDS saga. Luckily many of the immortals I’ve written about from the Medieval Highlands of Scotland will be making appearances in my new books. The next in the series, Solid as a Rock, will be released September 1st, but you can reserve yours now. Here is a teaser.

Solid as a Rock E-cover 200x300She’s in trouble beyond human understanding. Good thing he’s more than human …

Ellie Kramer’s life has never been easy—raised by a mother who went from one abusive relationship to the next. Her only love and stability came from her grandmother. But now Ellie’s mother is dead and her gran’s in a coma, both from causes doctors can’t explain … and Ellie may be next. Her only hope of staying alive? The boy she once left without a word of goodbye, now a man—a devastatingly attractive man with a stony composure she can’t read.

Michael Munro turned his back on the past to make a new life. He’s not happy at being pulled again into Ellie’s sphere. She’s still impossible to resist, but now she’s in deep trouble, and the cause may be a fragment of rock she found in her mother’s effects. An artifact that saps his powers of precognition, and even those of other paranormals like his uncle and mentor, Lucan. Can Michael stand strong against her pull and that of the ancient stone?

A powerful evil is on the trail of their find—the demon Cael. Can Michael and Ellie resist the attraction burning between them long enough to find the missing piece of the artifact and get it to safety? If they don’t, all hell will break loose … literally.

 

EXCERPT:

The slam of prison doors clanged in his ears.

The memory of that sound washed over Michael Munro as he stared down at the body. He rubbed one hand over his throbbing forehead. He would never go back. He had made a vow, and it was one he intended to keep. The searing pain that had originated behind his eyes radiated to the back of his head and spread to his neck and shoulders. Images flashed across his vision. He closed his eyes against them, but they only became more distorted, more confusing. The tiny nerves and muscles of his eyes ached at trying to see them all at once, yet he could no more stop himself from trying than he could prevent his heart from beating.

Forsyth Park was usually quiet this time of night. Even the tourists had called it a day by this late hour. Opening his eyes, he looked around, peering into the darkness for further signs of trouble. But he didn’t have to. Amidst the blurry, random images causing havoc in his brain, he saw them emerge from the shadows an instant before they actually did.

They had come for him, and there were too many to fight off this time. Any advantage his gift might have afforded him was swallowed up by the chaos in his head. He had barely defeated the man who lay dead at his feet, a decoy or a test, apparently. Either way, he was far outnumbered now, and the power inside him was out of control. If only he could slow the images down, organize them, make sense of them. Then he could use his gift to kill these bastards and be on his merry way.

Among the scattered scenes in his mind, he noticed one man in particular closing in behind him, a vicious-looking knife poised to slice him open down the length of his spine. Michael waited, his gaze on the men before him, his hearing tuned behind. He detected the subtle difference when the men in front of him tried to distract him rather than engage. He strained to hear his attacker’s footsteps closing in. Just as the man lashed out to bring the knife down, Michael whirled and landed a powerful upper thrust to the man’s nose, his strength sufficient to shove bone and cartilage into his brain. The man dropped like a stone.

Michael retrieved the discarded knife. The throbbing in his head intensified as the swirling images came faster and faster. There were so many, he no longer made the effort to see them clearly. Instead, he tried to block them out, knowing before he did so that he could not. The images came and went, seemingly random visions that could appear at any given moment, usually the wrong moment, yet were impossible for him to recall or make sense of.

The dead man’s companions closed in. Michael resisted the urge to squeeze his eyes shut against the blinding pain in his head. He swayed on his feet, his knees threatening to buckle beneath him. A wave of nausea swept over him. He swallowed the bile that burned the back of his throat. He needed all his wits about him if he had any hope of getting out of this alive.

Jaw clenched, he took up a stance with the dead man’s knife held menacingly before him. He took several steps back as they moved closer, anything to keep them from surrounding him completely. He wondered briefly if he could outrun them, but that was not his style. Michael had faced death before. He was not afraid.

He was going to die. It was inevitable considering the odds. But he would take some of these bastards with him.

Would she be saddened by the news? Would word of his death even reach her?

He had not thought of her in days. Quite a feat as he had thought of little else since she left ten years ago. The devastation of her rejection had nearly driven him mad. The prospect of death was almost a relief.


Don’t miss this exciting installment in the saga of Gods of the Highlands—get your copy of Solid as a Rock today!

Amazon US ¦ Amazon UK ¦ Amazon CA ¦ Amazon AU ¦ iTunes ¦ Nook ¦ Kobo ¦ Page Foundry

Winter is coming…

When I was a kid, I was a night owl. There was nothing I loved more than staying up until the wee hours, reading one of the hundreds of books piled up around my room or – better yet – writing one of my own. I didn’t have a computer until I as much older than my friends so all of my stories were written by hand, on a yellow legal pad or in a spiral notebook. In pen, because I loved the ruffly sounds the pages made after they’d been covered in words. I would stay up long past the time my parents went to bed, pouring out my literary fantasies to the crackling hum of my window unit air conditioner – since, of course, I could only stay up past midnight in the summer, when there was no school.

As an adult, nobody tells me what time to go to bed. But I’m a grown-up with a day job so I don’t often get to see two a.m. Yet something about nighttime in summer still stirs something in me. My husband works six nights a week so I’m almost always alone after 8 p.m. (and don’t go getting any ideas – we have an alarm system and a cat who will snuggle an intruder to death, not to mention almost nothing worth stealing). And something about the heat of our house’s upstairs hall combined with the chill of our air-conditioned bedroom and the silence of a near-empty house stokes the creative flames deep inside me. I might not stay up until two or three in the morning scribbling stories on a legal pad, but for the last few nights I’ve been inspired to stay up until ten or eleven, pounding away on the keyboard, and have come up with the first chapter of A Holiday Gift, book 2 in the Silver Bells series. Talk about Christmas in July…

On that note, I’d like to announce that the official release date of A Holiday Wish is November 3! The book should be up for preorder sometime in October, and I’ve got a blog tour lined up about which I’ll be posting more information as soon as I have it. Believe it or not, the holiday season is a mere four months away, and I’m so excited to have my first Christmas book ready to go!

Mind Control – a Paranormal Romance by Staci Troilo

Staci color photoI love paranormal romances. Yes, I do read the ones with vampires and werewolves. They are guilty pleasures. But I don’t write them. At least, I haven’t yet. I haven’t thought of an original take on the species. I have written a gargoyle novel (Love Set in Stone) that’s gotten a kind word or two, but I only tackled that because I didn’t think there were many grotesque heroes in fiction. I’ve come to learn there are more than I thought. Still, it was fun to write, and it’s currently in a boxed set (Paranormal Attractions) which is doing really well on Amazon.

But the supernatural element I’m currently smitten with is alchemy.

There’s something about magic and mysticism that I love, but when you combine it with science—with the realm of truth and history and possibility—then I’m hooked.

And combine that with elements of my Italian-American heritage? Can’t be beat.

Mind Control, book two of the Medici Protectorate series, is my latest release. It’s got all the elements I mentioned above (alchemical-induced supernatural powers and rich Italian history made manifest in modern day close-knit families) as well as everything a reader could want in a novel:

  • a super-hot hero with a secretive, troubled past
  • a beautiful heroine with damage of her own
  • a nefarious organization plotting not just the deaths of the heroes but global domination
  • a centuries-old clandestine protectorate with impressive resources
  • several glamorous locales in two different continents
  • pulse-hammering action
  • heart-racing romance

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00025]This is my sixth novel (plus one novella and I don’t know how many short stories). I like everything I wrote for one reason or another, but this one is currently my favorite. Vinnie and Jo’s story just speaks to me on so many levels. They’re so broken when they come together. So raw. I love how they manage to heal each other without even realizing that’s what they’re doing. The following is a partial scene depicting the earlier stage of their relationship.

She turned to face him. “Do you want to talk about it?”

He smiled at her through the darkness. “Actually, I came out here for you to do some talking.”

“There’s a shock.”

“Come on, Jo.”

“What could I possibly have to say?”

“Don’t even go there. I’m offering an open ear, a dry shoulder.”

“I don’t need either.”

“Okay, then. You don’t want to share your feelings, you can share some information. Tell me about the vision.”

“Now’s not really the time for business.”

“God, you’re infuriating. You won’t talk about Brotherhood business, you won’t talk about how you’re feeling. All I’ve gotten out of you tonight is an astronomy lesson.”

“That doesn’t have to be all you get.”

He raised a brow. “Excuse me?”

“No business tonight.” She turned her body toward him, readjusting her legs under her on the swing. “You want to know what I’m feeling? I’m feeling numb, empty, wrung out. Entirely spent. What I really need is… is… God, are you going to make me say it?”

“Say what?” He couldn’t have been more confused if Nico had been explaining programming code. Been there, done that, felt equally lost as he did at the moment. “Tell me what you need, and it’s yours.”

“How about I show you, instead?”

His head hurt. For the life of him, he couldn’t imagine what she was going to show him. They’d already looked at the stars, they weren’t in the house, and the entire property was just shadows and silhouettes in the middle of a dense West Virginian forest. If she wasn’t going to say what she wanted, he’d have to let her guide him. “Okay. Show me.”

She got off the swing, and he started to rise, too, but she pushed him back down. Then she stood in front of him, placed her hands on his shoulders, and straddled his lap.

She started to lower her lips to his, but he put his finger against her mouth. “Jo. Stop. This isn’t what you want.”

She pulled back from his hand. “Don’t tell me what I want. You aren’t in my head. You don’t know.”

“I do know. I know the last time we kissed, you put on the brakes. I know you’re hurting over Coz and Chuck. I know you’re scared about Dante, and probably your vision. And I know you’ll hate yourself—and me—if we do this.”

“You’re wrong. This is what I need.”

“I’m not going to take advantage of you like this.”

“I’m not drunk, or sick, or out of sorts. I know what I’m doing. And what I want to be doing. I’m the one who will be taking advantage of someone tonight. And if it’s not going to be you, I’ll just go inside and find somebody else.”

It was his turn to pull back. A slap would’ve hurt less. “So, I’m that easily replaced.”

“I don’t know how else to say this, Vinnie. Just for tonight—no strings. I need you. I need to be held, to be loved. I choose you, but if you say no…” Her voice trailed off, leaving him to fill in the rest of the sentence.

He didn’t like the implication. At all.

“Jo, I’ve thought about this. A lot. You know I have. But I didn’t think our first time would be like this. Lots of ways, but not like this.”

“Not first time—just our time. Our time is now, Vinnie. Don’t turn me down.”

The vulnerability on her face was as obvious as the tears in her eyes.

“Why me?”

“I’m not discussing this now. Are you in or out?”

“If you can tell me—and mean it—that you won’t go looking for someone else if I say no.”

“Kind of a no-win for me here, Vin.”

“You’re wrong. Answer the right way, and it’s a win-win.”

She sighed and closed her eyes. “I was lying, okay? I wouldn’t have gone after anyone else.” She opened her eyes. “But I wasn’t lying about needing this. I need you tonight.”

“Are you sure? I can just hold you. All night long if you want, and we never have to do anything else.”

“I know what I want, Vinnie. I was honest with you. Now it’s your turn. What’s it going to be?”

As wrong as it felt, it still felt right. Honor be damned. He took her face in his hands and tipped her head toward him.

He planned on taking things slow. She seemed so fragile, nearly breakable. He figured gentle would be the best way to go. Not that he minded. When it finally happened—and he had been ninety-nine percent sure from the beginning it was going to happen—he had planned on savoring every moment of it.

Plans change.

So, that’s a look at Vinnie and Jo. Their relationship from the very beginning is complicated. They’re always on a different page—one advances, one steps back. When they collide, it’s amazing, until one of them panics and retreats. Like I said, a lot of baggage with those two. They have plenty to work out. And I loved every second of it.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at a moment of their lives. I appreciate you taking a moment to read about them. And Courtney, I’m grateful for the chance to visit with you and your friends today. I had fun talking about Vinnie and Jo and the Medici Protectorate with all of you.

Mind Control is published by Lagan Press, an imprint of Oghma Creative Media. It was published on June 24, 2016 and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.

Staci Troilo has always loved fiction, ever since her parents read her fairy tales when she was little. Today, her interests are much more eclectic. She loves getting lost in sci-fi battles, fantasy realms, horror worlds, suspenseful intrigues, and romantic entanglements.

As goes her reading, so goes her writing. She can’t pick a single genre to focus on, so she doesn’t even try. She’s proud to say she’s a multi-genre, bestselling author.

When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with family and friends, possibly cooking for them, or maybe enjoying an afternoon in the pool. To learn more about her, visit http://stacitroilo.com or connect with her on social media.

Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group | Pinterest | Google + | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Amazon | Newsletter