Happy Holidays from the Untethered Realms Authors - Our Favorite Holiday Reads

 “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Happy holidays from the authors of Untethered Realms!

What is your favorite holiday read?

Christine Rains - Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. The Hogfather, Discworld's equivalent of Father Christmas, is missing and Death takes his place. As Death goes about his job, his granddaughter Susan tries to find the Hogfather and must deal with an assassin looking for him too. Hilarious, surprising, and wonderfully fun. It's a different sort of holiday read, but right up my alley.

Gwen Gardner - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is always my go-to Christmas read. Ebenezer "Scrooge" became synonymous with someone who hates Christmas. But through the visit of three ghosts over the course of a single night, Scrooge learns the real meaning of Christmas. 

Here's my favorite quote: 
“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.

“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”


Speculative Fiction Worth Reading - The Rayatana Series by Tyrean Martinson #scifi


Blurb: A spaceship in disguise,

An Earth girl searching for a sense of home,

And a Thousand Years' War between alien races,

All collide on a summer afternoon.

An old movie theater welcomes Amaya in and wraps her up in the smell of popcorn and licorice. But one sunny afternoon during a matinee, the movie screen goes dark. The theater rumbles.

Amaya gets trapped in the middle of an ancient alien conflict. Angry and frightened, Amaya entangles herself in a life-changing cultural misunderstanding with Sol, a young alien who keeps omitting key information, even while they're on the run from his enemies.

What will it take to survive a battle between alien races involved in an ancient war?

Christine's review: Amaya is settled into an old movie theater with friends when suddenly the whole place shakes as if an earthquake. While her friends make it out, Amaya is held back from jumping by Sol (seemingly a guy who works there) as the theater now spaceship propels up into space. Now she's in the middle of a centuries old war and bonded to a cute alien who she doesn't know if she can trust or not. There are so many things she doesn't understand, but she has to learn what she needs soon or she may not survive her next trip through space.

A fantastic start to this YA sci-fi series. I immediately felt sympathy for Amaya, dealing with normal Earth teen problems like her parents being divorced and trying to fit in at a new place. Then the new place becomes a whole new world as the story immediately blasts off with the spaceship. I loved that the ship was disguised as a movie theater and the descriptions of what the high tech the everyday Earthling things hid. We're introduced to a lot of history and aliens in this novella, but it didn't bore me and the tension kept taut throughout. It's a solid ground to set the series on, and I can't wait to dive in to the next book.

Blurb: Amaya is supposed to bring peace to the galaxy. Which is tough when she’s being held for crimes against the Neutral Zone. Her imprisonment is on her own ship with her own crew. But close quarters create tension.

Honestly, her role as Rayatana is a mess.

She may never get to use her powers for anything good. Not if her teacher continues to keep secrets, and not if her powers keep harming others. Putting her mother in a coma should put her in prison, but she has a mission. She wants to bring peace to her people. She needs to become the Rayatana.

Christine's review: Amaya is the child of three worlds, the Rayatana, and she is prophesized to bring peace to the galaxy. She struggles with what to do as she didn't grew up with the knowledge of the vast peoples and the galactic politics. What she must get through first is the Trial of Integrity. In a simulation, not all is as it seems. Amaya wants only to help everyone and bring every-lasting peace, but to do so, she must learn how to control her own power before it destroys everything and everyone she loves.

This is the second book in the YA sci-fi series, The Rayatana. This one is even better than the first! The reader already has the base of the galaxy and the various people. There are many layers in the history and current politics, and even different forces within each species. Amaya tries her best to maneuver through all of it and admirably stays true to her heart and morals. I especially liked Cheleth, the living planet of a species similar to what we would call dryads. It is at once high tech and beautifully natural. As each piece of the action-filled plot unfolds, more surprises are revealed. I cannot wait for the next installment of this fabulous series.


Caution: Over-scheduling Pile-On!

 In the excitement of getting out of my covid cave and rejoining the world, I find that I've waaay over-scheduled myself. It resembles burnout but there are differences. Since I'm now double-vaccinated with a booster shot, I have carefully attended a movie, a concert, and some indoor eating. It feels freeing and hopeful for the future. I want more concerts, more live experiences. 

I am also doing Zoom and online teaching, conferences, and author events. I figured that since I aced Zoom and Canvas and IG live, these online events would not add much to my workload. Wrong. They are still labor intensive, stressful, and time consuming. 

In my exuberance, I signed onto four online author conferences. Two whizzed by in the last three weeks and I still haven't watched the videos! Granted, they are accessible for a month at least, but just the thought of watching all of the lectures is exhausting. While at the same time, I want to see them all. It's too much. It makes my brain hurt.

One excellent thing was that I got a NOV BookBub, granted a free one. It's hard to get any kind, so I consider that a huge accomplishment. Witch of the Wild Beasts is at the time of this post, #1 in Paranormal Witches and Wizards Romance and #1 in Historical Fantasy and #95 in all of free books. Not too bad.

Here's the link in case you want to nab a free copy. Free through NOV. 

Amazon USA, UK, AU, CA, Apple, Nook, Kobo

And some blurbs:

“Adored every moment; from the imaginative, gothic plot to the compelling characters!” - Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

“Witch of the Wild Beasts is a beautiful story… absolutely heartbreaking yet also completely heartwarming. Evalina is such a lovable protagonist, and her rag-tag group of friends is just as interesting. I could absolutely read a book dedicated to Dolly!” 

Question: Do you get burnout or do you ever waaaay over-schedule? How do you handle it?


Book Review: Elemental Thief by Rachel Morgan


Elemental Thief is book 1 in the young adult fantasy series, the Ridley Kayne Chronicles, by Rachel Morgan. Set in a futuristic dystopian-esque environment, the Global Simultaneous Magic-Energy Conversion caused a devastating world-changing magical overload, which subsequently caused magic to be outlawed, and created a deep divide between the have and have-nots. Ridley Kayne is like a modern-day Robin Hood, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, in order to narrow that gap. 

Magic, in a land where it has been outlawed, is Ridley's superpower. It's how she's able to slip through the cracks and infiltrate high end properties to steal valuable items, sell them to her fence, collect the money and give to those in need. Chaos is bound to explode when using magic. Using it is risky. But in this world, magic for some is as inherent as the air they breathe. Tamping it down and denying it has dire consequences.

As in most YA, Ridley has a love interest in her nemesis Archer who is good looking and full of secrets. I've no doubt we are going to be seeing the pair working together more in subsequent books because they have a world to right again. 

Though not listed as a dystopian read, the setting in this book has the vibe of a planet damaged by human's overuse of magic and has echoes of the challenges we're now facing with out own planet. It reminded me that we are living in the future now...an interesting thought. 

There is plenty of action in this book, fast-paced with lots of twists and turns. A murder, a wrongful arrest, and a quest for justice where maybe none is due…

Lots to like and hold your attention. I had forgotten how much I liked YA and this book reminded me.

If you'd like to read it, it's FREE on Amazon


Seasonal Reads

Do you find yourself drawn to reread certain books during specific seasons? I certainly do. I never think about rereading The Hobbit until the approach of Thanksgiving in late November. I suspect I associate hobbits with rural life and Thanksgiving is kind of a harvest celebration. I can't imagine attempting another pass through Crime and Punishment except in the dead of winter. I associate Russia with winter, which is silly since Russia experiences all the seasons.

When October rolls around I immediately think of two books: Roger Zelazny's A Night In the Lonesome October and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla.

A Night In the Lonesome October is Zelazny's last novel. Set in late Victorian England, the story tells of a "game," a competition between openers and closers, concerning a gate between this world and the realm of the Great Old Ones. The story draws heavily on Lovecraft's mythos as well as characters from Victorian gothic fiction. Frankenstein, Count Dracula, and Sherlock Holmes, among others, populate the tale. Each player in the game has a familiar. Snuff, the guard dog and familiar belonging to Jack, tells the story. It's fun to pick out all the references to other stories within the narrative. For better or worse, this novel inspired me to craft some fantasy tales with a cat as the protagonist.

The title comes from a line in the first stanza of Edgar Allan Poe's "Ulalume."

The skies they were ashen and sober;

    The leaves they were crisped and sere—

    The leaves they were withering and sere;

It was night in the lonesome October

    Of my most immemorial year;

Carmilla first appeared in the magazine The Dark Blue in serial form from December 1871 through March 1872 and later as part of Le Fanu's collection In a Glass Darkly (1872). Laura, the narrator and protagonist of Carmilla, lives with her father and two governesses in a schloss in Styria, an Austrian province near Hungary. Laura and her father are English expatriates. Her mother, a Styrian lady, died when Laura was an infant. Laura recalls that when she was six, she experienced a nightmare vision of a beautiful young woman in her bedchamber who lay beside her and bit her on the chest, although Laura's nurse found no wounds on her. Laura is nineteen when the events of her narrative take place and leads a lonely, isolated life in the Austrian countryside. 

Following a carriage accident a young girl named Carmilla is placed under Laura's father's care for three months. Laura recognizes Carmilla as the woman from her dream. Carmilla responds with a story of a similar dream involving Laura. Carmilla evinces many strange habits, including apparent sleepwalking, and complains of incessant languor. The pair become close friends despite Carmilla's occasional romantic advances towards Laura.

Yes, this is a vampire story so Laura's life is about to take a sharp turn for the very weird. A highly entertaining story.

Do any books call to you at a particular season? Let us know in the comments.


Book Review of Heart of Malice by Lisa Edmonds


This was my first time reading a book by Lisa Edmonds. She writes urban fantasy, and Heart of Malice is the first in a six-book series called simply, the “Alice Worth” series. 

Alice has a very disturbing backstory of being tortured by a paranormal organized crime cabal run by her grandfather (how many grandpas are heartless psychos!!!?), and of having to use her wit and magic to escape the deadly org. This is set up to explain her extreme PTSD and inability to trust or get close to anyone, plus her need to create an entire false identity (Alice Worth) for herself going forward. Talk about high stakes!

The story has tons of action, and the magic is explosive. In fact, the author’s descriptions of the magic are what stick in my mind most clearly. This is both a strength, but also a minor critique, in that while I learned a lot, I sometimes found her almost mathematical blow-by-blow explanations of how the magic worked too clinical and almost boring. 

That said, the romance between Alice and Sean, an alpha werewolf, who she finally learns to trust just a little (LOL) by novel’s end is hot and I do like both characters. Edmond also creates interesting side characters in Malcom, her ghost assistant who must hide in her earring, Alice’s client, a seemingly wispy victim, and the fashionable, edgy vamp who advises her.

I don't want to reveal any plot points so I dare not explain any more. I will say, it was a big deal for me to read an entire book since the pandemic year, where my desire and ability to read was almost non-existent. I'm happy to report that I am reading at a decent clip again, and working on a new book series, so I will always associate this book with my renewed sense of creativity.

 Nothing is simple and the twists keep on coming. A fun start to a long urban fantasy series.

Get the book at Amazon and see the series here.


The Latest Releases from the UR Authors

 It's been an exciting year for the authors of Untethered Realms. We're putting together a new fantasy anthology to be released mid-2022. Until then, enjoy the latest wonderful releases from us. Click on the covers for the buy links.

YA paranormal from Cathrina Constantine

Nora has visions of horrific things. Things that lurk in the shadows and feast on bones. After moving with her mother into an old farmhouse, Nora discovers a blank journal that fills itself with an ominous warning. A cursed beast is coming for her and time is running out. When the blood moon rises, so shall the beast.

Fantasy adventure from Jeff Chapman

Taking from a Barrow? Not a good idea.

As Ethan approaches manhood, his prospects don't look very promising. And Arabella, the girl he's set his sights on, is the daughter of the Squire. Ethan's plans go awry, and he ends up in Faerie as the Sniggard kidnaps Arabella.

Paranormal romance from Catherine Stine

Meet Indigo Rain, a beautiful but lonely mermaid. Regretful of a dark past, she has vowed to remain alone and research ancient merfolk tribes. When she unearths a seabed burial site that even she cannot identify, she shares this with a High Council merfolk historian. But she keeps one shocking secret to herself.

Science-fiction trilogy from Simon Kewin

The unfolding mystery
A hidden trail among the stars
The return of an ancient galactic threat
The darkness at the heart of the galaxy.

Science-fiction from M. Pax

The first shot of a new war echoes through the galaxy. Craze has high hopes for what the alliance with an old enemy, the Foreworlds, will do to defeat a worse enemy, the Quassers.

With nothing left to lose, Craze sets in motion one last chance for survival.

Science-fiction fantasy from Jeff Beesler

The Bloboid Wars begin with the first strike in Bloboids Vs. Faeries! A massive ball of slime falls out of the sky and crashes against the northern shore of Faer’s Atoll. At once, the Bloboids conquer Faerie and animal life alike in their quest to dominate the universe.


Cozy paranormal mystery from Gwen Gardner

While not the crime of the century, Indigo and Franny must stop a candy store ghostie with a sweet tooth from dumping valuable merchandise on the floor. Sounds simple enough. Until they discover, not a mischievous spirit with a wanton disregard for inventory, but a little ghost girl on a mission to save the nun who raised her.

Supernatural thriller from Meradeth Houston

Controlling people’s fate is what Ami and Luke do: it’s what they’ve been tasked with for millennia by an inscrutable force. But when fate demands the impossible, what will defiance cost?

Fantasy LitRPG coming next month from Christine Rains

In every one of their games, the bard dies first. But this time, she may be the only one who can save them.


#Fantasy Worth Reading: Flex #Bookreview

Flex b
y Ferrett Steinmetz is an engrossing fantasy set on modern-day Earth. I loved his space opera, The Sol Majestic, so had to try another book by this talented author.

The magic system has a bad side. For every wonderful gift, a dire consequence is required. The costs of doing magic are high and leave the ‘mancer with less and less. Something of value has to be given in order to do magic.

Magic takes their homes, their friends, everyone and everything they love. Using magic is like a drug in this realm, and the magic users are addicts. They give up everything for their moments of glory and marvel.

The main character, Paul Tsabo, is an ordinary person dealing with some bad luck. He was once a cop, who gained notoriety for taking out a ‘mancer. He lost a foot during the battle, and the loss required him to take a new job. He now works as a claims adjustor at an insurance company.

Thing is, it’s there he learns he has a gift – bureaucracy ‘mancy. He can do extraordinary things with forms and reordering the world. He has to hide his gift, but he can’t stay away from it, especially once his daughter is horribly burned in a fire caused by the consequences of someone else doing magic.

He's as obsessed with saving his daughter as finding quiet moments to do ‘mancy. This leads to him tracking down the ‘mancer who caused the fire that injured his daughter. Although he wants revenge in the worst way, he also needs to learn to hone his magic so he can help his daughter. This odd alliance and the search to find a better way to do magic drives the story.

The characters are very relatable. Most of us love to get lost in the beauty of our daydreams, which is very much like how the magic works in this book. It’s a great adventure with a great dose of self-discovery. Paul has to figure out what matters most and how to tame his ‘mancy for good.

I was entertained until the last page, and was rooting for Paul, his new ally, and his daughter. I was also rooting for magic. I highly recommend this fantasy.

Here's the official blurb:

The first in a series by the author of The Sol Majestic that is “what might result if you put Breaking Bad and Reddit in a blender and hit ‘frappe.’ ” (B&N Sci-Fi Blog)

FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.

PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.

But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before—and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe. 



Skywatch: Perseids Meteor Shower 2021 #astronomy

 The Perseids is the biggest and showiest meteor shower of the year. Every year, it's at the same time-mid August. The peak is August 12th, but you should already be able to view some lovely shooting stars if you have a dark sky.

Even without it being Perseids season, there are 6-10 shooting stars every hour.

The Perseids will appear as quick, small streaks of light. They get their name because they look like they’re coming from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

The Perseids are fragments of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits between the Sun and beyond the orbit of Pluto once every 133 years. Every year, the Earth passes near the path of the comet, and the debris left behind by Swift-Tuttle shows up as meteors in our sky.

Perseus is located under Cassiopeia: looks like a big W to the right of the Big Dipper. Here's a star chart.

By IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) - [1], CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15412172

For the next two years, the Moon will interfere with the viewing of the Perseids. So this is your best chance for a lovely show until 2024.

I'll be out astronomizing. Hope you get out too! If your skies are sucky, you can watch live with NASA at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYKfAzPEXMQsGtNfBCNa_BA


#Fantasy Worth Reading: The Cat Who Would Be King #Bookreview

The Cat Who Would Be King by Bethany Hoeflich is a humorous novella about an alleycat's accidental rise to the top of society.

From the blurb:

The sky is blue.

Water is wet.

And cats most definitely do not talk.

Reporter Thomas Kane knows that boring articles don’t sell newspapers, and as the newest hire at the Daily Gazette, he’s always on the lookout for a tantalizing story to write. When he gets a tip about an interview with Bastien the First, the elusive and presumably dead king of Qar, Thomas assumes it’s a cruel prank by jealous coworkers determined to see him fail.

As a cat, life is far superior for Bastien than his two-legged counterparts. Bastien has settled nicely into retirement where he enjoys a quiet life as a pampered tavern cat while keeping his true identity a secret. Obscurity has its downsides, however, and it’s time for his extraordinary story to be told.

My thoughts:

Bastien the cat has decided it's time to tell his story. And what a story. It seems Bastien's life as a wharf-prowling feline is over when a wizard acquires him for experimentation. The wizard doesn't expect him to survive and tells him so, but Bastien not only survives the experiment, he gains the ability to talk in human speech.

At first the wizard is pleased. He believes he has the perfect spy to serve his mysterious plans. However, the wizard soon discovers that cats rarely do what others want them to do. As the wizard reveals the depths of his evilness, Bastien discovers that the kingdom is tottering on a knife edge. Bastien proves to be the right cat at the right time.

Hoeflich does a wonderful job portraying Bastien's perspective. The reader gets a very credible cat's-eye-view of the wharfs and the castle. The contrast between the characters of Bastien and the wizard is also well done. Bastien searches for kindness and a good meal while the wizard exhibits a maniacal obsession with political power. If you like cats and some humor with your fantasy, you'll enjoy The Cat Who Would Be King

Story links:

Goodreads  Amazon


What People 100 Years Ago Thought Life Would Be Like Now


We may think we're living in a world no one could have ever imagined, but there are some creative minds who believed they could see what the future might bring. Life one hundred years ago might seem like medieval to us now. Yet there were folks with eyes to a technological tomorrow.

One of the big themes people in the last century imagined were domed cities. We don't have those. Yet. It's something scientists and science fiction authors still see in our future based on pollution and climate change. We could at least control the climate inside the domes.

Everything flying. Whoosh! People thought cars, jetpacks, houses, even cities, would be flying by now and part of everyday life. While that still could be a possibility, it isn't as practical as it might have seemed. Now a vast system of ultra fast monorails to travel the world...

Robot helpers. While we aren't overrun by robots yet, more and more things are becoming automated. We're rushing faster toward that world. Finger crossed it isn't a Skynet future!

People thought we'd be able to control the weather. I think Earth is winning on that front. We need to use our technology to learn to adapt rather than control it. Though, wait... Wasn't there the rumor that someone did have a weather machine?!

We should have the moon as our playground, right? Folks a century ago thought we'd be taking regular recreational trips to our moon by now. While I don't see the moon as a playground, it would be a vied-for source for companies to mine materials. Though, then we'd have to imagine our world without a moon and the trouble its loss would cause. Mars seems to be our fascination for our next home these days.

What do you think life will be like one hundred years from now?


#Review #CurseoftheHunted #ParanormalRomance #NewRelease @CRainsWriter #Fantasy

Meet Akila Levesque, Sphynx...

Akila's well-ordered world has fallen apart. Her delinquent brother, Cairo is the only family she has left after their mother's death. When she receives the letter from the High Council of the Supernatural to become a Keeper, she believes this could be a fresh start for both of them.

But the moment Akila presents a family heirloom to give to the Keepers as her part of her initiation, everything erupts into chaos as the cracked Egyptian statuette runs away. Corrupted by its broken aura, the rogue artifact hunts Akila in the ghost riddled seaside town.

It's doesn't help when the gorgeous Chaz Nowiki keeps turning up wherever Akila goes. She doesn't want a gargoyle in shining armor to save her, even when he looks so hot his firefighter's suspenders. Yet even with the help of a powerful guardian, things grow desperate when the relic targets Cairo as well.

Now Akila must risk everything to save her brother. But will that even be enough when she has no idea what it means to be a Keeper or a Sphynx?

"After all, every secret needs a Keeper."

Cathrina's Review: 

A pleasurable, unique story! Gargoyles. Sphynx. Witches. Merfolk. Vampires, Fae, and more, are all part of the Council of Supernaturals.

The Curse of the Hunted is about Akila, a Sphynx and her brother Cairo. With their mother deceased, Akila moves them into a Supernatural Village to train as a Keeper. Akila has the ability to see ghosts, but keeps this information to herself until....I never leave spoilers...LOL....She brings with her an ancient relic, and then all hell breaks loose.

There is fast-paced action with each turn of the page as Akila and Cairo battle the elements the relic, ushabti throws at them. I never thought of gargoyles as good-looking until Chaz! Chaz has given me a newfound love for hot gargoyles. Somewhat behind closed doors, but with plenty of teasing innuendoes, the reader enjoys romance within the pages of Curse of the Hunted.

I highly recommend, Curse of the Hunted!

Amazon Link:https://www.amazon.com/Curse-Hunted-Paranormal-Romance-Knowledge-ebook/dp/B08Q7TK5GH/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Curse+of+the+hunted+by+christine+rains&qid=1623767099&sr=8-2


Playing the alien cicada what if game


Their serenade keeps getting louder and louder. Am I strange for finding it somehow enthralling?

People have been freaking out this year as the Brood X cicadas have emerged from the ground in eastern and central US. When I first experienced the swarm 17 years ago, I stayed inside and cringed every time one of the bumbling flying bugs hit a window. This time, I'm out in the yard and letting them land on me as I wonder what if...

More aliens would likely be like insects than mammals. What would aliens similar to cicadas be like?

The aliens would only come above ground once in a long cycle. That way they're safer from being invaded themselves. Maybe there were frightening creatures on their home planet that hunted them long ago, but are now extinct or very rare.

To ensure their success in populating a new planet, they swarm. There are so many of them, it doesn't matter if the planet's native lifeforms fight back. The shear number of the aliens would eventually overwhelm everything else and take over. When they do breed, they lay hundreds of eggs to increase the chances of some surviving.

While they cannot bite or sting, the noise they make can drown out most other noises. These aliens may have taken it a step further, and their song deafens other creatures. Can you imagine their ships coming down on a sunny day with such a chorus it explodes your eardrums?

A lifeform doesn't need to be extremely smart or deadly to survive a long time. Cicadas have been around for nearly 200 million years. Maybe they are aliens who landed on Earth long before humans evolved!

What do the cicadas inspire in you?


Speculative Fiction Worth Reading - 3 Reviews for Untethered Realms Authors

Nora's life goes from rotten to worse when she moves with her newly divorced mother to a decrepit farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. As soon as they move in, strange things start to happen, and Nora discovers a magical journal in the attic. She learns about the past and what is going to happen again, if she doesn't stop it. All the while, she finds herself falling for a gorgeous local boy whose parents may have been victims of this horror. Will Nora be able to figure how what's happening in time to save not only those she cares about but herself as well? 

This is a fantastic YA paranormal read. I was sucked into the detailed setting of the old farmhouse and little town. The perfect creepy atmosphere for all the supernatural happenings. There are a lot of layers to the plot. What was happening in the past, how it is touching the present, and everyone going on in the modern day. It was very well done how Nora is dealing with her parents' divorce, and even how her writer mother is dealing with it. It is in no way painted as an easy thing. Then to add just being a teenager moving to a new place, trying to fit in and make friends, and falling for a guy named Rebel who may or may not be trouble! Plus ghosts, a beast, and magic. It was so much fun!

Indigo Rain discovers an ancient plaque in a seabed burial site and is asked to become an esteemed Keeper. She is paired with the handsome Bay Finley, who is a Royal merfolk Keeper. His haughty attitude infuriates her, but there is something that draws her to him. Indigo must unravel the mystery of the plaque before the threats on land and in the sea kill her.

This is another incredible book in the paranormal romance series, The Keepers of Knowledge. I love the author's take on merfolk. The marvelous history of the merfolk and how they evolved to mingle with people on land. Indigo is not your typical sea beauty. She's the daughter of a kelp farmer and an intelligent scientist. Bay seems like a playboy prince at first, but his layers peel back as Indigo gets to know him. I love the twists and turns this story took me on, and the unique settings underwater alongside the now familiar town of Pyreshore.

Buy Secrets of the Mermaid here!

Ami and Luke are immortal coincidence makers, but it isn't a fate Ami would wish on anyone. When they are tasked with getting two people to meet to become like them, Ami isn't certain she wants it to happen. Luke disagrees, and things are rocky as they meet up with old friends as they discover that perhaps the bio-terrorists they believed they had thwarted are readying for another attack. While they have not been tasked to stop it, can they stand by and let millions of people die or will they take the chance and do this on their own?

This is the second book in this thrilling speculative fiction series, and it is even better than the first. It's immensely well-written and smart with a layered plot. I empathized with Ami as she struggled with wanting to recruit the new coincidence makers and wanting to let them choose their own fates as she did not feel she got to choose her own. The rogue coincidence makers had decided they're not taking orders any more and want to act as gods, but that's not the role Ami wants to play either. All the while there is a job to be done and a huge terrorist attack to stop. There are twists and turns which made me gasp, and while this could be a stand alone book, it sets the stage for even bigger things to come. I can't wait!

Buy In Defiance of Fate here!


Fly Us To The Moon!


Untethered Realms is going to the moon! How, you ask? As stowaways. Technology and ingenuity is making it possible. Plus, one of our members (Gwen Gardner) applied and became manifest #123, and is taking everyone she can think of with her! We're talking friends, family and pets!

Read on to find out more...

Writers on the Moon (founded by Dr. Susan Kaye Quinn, rocket scientist and author extraordinaire) is a group of rag-tag indie authors from around the world. They are sending a library of stories to the moon on Astrobotic's first mission and first commercial lunar lander, Peregrine Mission One, where it will remain for posterity--or until future moon travelers find it. Maybe direct descendants--or maybe even aliens! One day the future of humanity may be reading our names in their history books, or researching 21st century literature, music, and culture. Because along with stories, the manifests are bringing stowaways of all sorts, to include screenplays, music, and photographs! Untethered Realms' Elements of Untethered Realms will be among the treasures. 

The "Moon Box", the size of a dime, will contain thousands of digitized items. 

The rocket launch is scheduled for December 2021. If you'd like to find out more, check out the Writers on the Moon website (still a work in progess), and Astrobotics for more the details. 

Ever been in space?

Would you go if given the chance?


The Sword of Otrim - #epicfantasy #bookreview


The Sword of Otrim by Lyndon Perry

I enjoyed The Sword of Otrim very much: it’s a Conan-esque adventure yarn that focuses on Otrim, a powerful fighter with a strong moral purpose and a keen sense of right and wrong. His world is a familiar-enough quasi-medieval version of Europe (in my imagination at least), and Otrim’s adventures are set against a background of wars and conflicts between empires.

It’s the characters that set this apart from any number of such books – this is where Perry is at his best. The people he populates his story with are believable and three-dimensional, flawed and brave and foolish by turns. Otrim displays admirable wisdom and forbearance as he struggles with the enemies placed before him and the roles people assign him, and there always seems to be an amused grin on his face, despite all that happens to him.

It’s fair to say that the majority of the active characters are men, but there are also strong and resourceful females in the book, who play vital roles in the unfolding events. It’s good to see.

The story is somewhat episodic in nature: Perry describes how he created the novel by piecing together five novellas. In truth, it barely shows; the story flows along nicely and reads like a novel. I devoured it very quickly. It’s labelled as “epic fantasy”, but that was actually something I wasn’t so sure about: it’s a fantasy world, for sure, but there is little or no magic in it. That said, there are plenty of hints and suggestions that such wonders do exist in the world, and I look forward to future instalments where, perhaps, Otrim comes up against more fantastical foes.

Some reviewers have labelled this “Christian fiction”. I make no particular comment on that, except to say that I’m not Christian (or any sort of religious) in any way – and that this didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the book at all. I never once felt like I was being beaten over the head with some real-word religious text. There is a lot of talk of “The Master” and his teachings – analogous to the teachings of Jesus, perhaps, to a Christian reader – but to this godless reviewer it all seemed like an enjoyable moral/spiritual dimension to give to an otherwise ruthlessly-efficient swordsman.

Epic battles, swordfights, intrigue and mystery – it’s all here. A recommended read.

Find the book on Amazon.


#BookReview #CRANE #UntetheredRealms @UnRealms #CathrinaConstantine



Stacey Rourke

The Horseman is unending,
his presence shan’t lessen.
If you break the curse,
you become the legend.

Washington Irving and Rip Van Winkle had no choice but to cover up the deadly truth behind Ichabod Crane’s disappearance. Centuries later, a Crane returns to Sleepy Hollow awakening macabre secrets once believed to be buried deep.

What if the monster that spawned the legend lived within you?

Now, Ireland Crane, reeling from a break-up and seeking a fresh start, must rely on the newly awakened Rip Van Winkle to discover the key to channeling the darkness swirling within her. Bodies are piling high and Ireland is the only one that can save Sleepy Hollow by embracing her own damning curse.

But is anyone truly safe when the Horseman rides?

Cathrina's Review

Oh Wow!!

I'll say right at the beginning, Crane by Stacey Rourke is a fabulous adaption in regards to Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane, and the Headless Horseman.

The Author, Stacey Rourke has an absolutely brilliant writing style that blew me away. Each descriptive page had me hungering for more, that I found it difficult to put the book down.

I like humor, especially sarcastic humor, and Crane did not disappoint. And to enlist Rip Van Winkle into the storyline was over-the-top enjoyment! I loved the main character, Ireland and her strength to persevere in her battle with conquering the Horseman. I never leave spoils~~~Oh Boy!! You will be amazed!!!

Whether I'd been so caught up in the story or it wasn't mentioned to lure the reader into book 2, I can't remember if it was explained how Ireland Crane was related to Ichabod.

I highly recommend this phenomenal book.


Mermaids, Magic and Glamoured Beach Towns

I love writing books set in beach towns and characters with complex relationships to the ocean. In my novel Witch of the Cards, I wrote about a woman learning that she hailed from a sea witch dynasty. In Pictures of Dorianna, I wrote about a girl who, unbeknownst to her, makes a deal with the Prince of Darkness. This happens when his supernatural video of her on a Coney Island beach goes viral, spinning her life out of control. 

In this new urban fantasy, Secrets of the Mermaid, I got to study mermaid lore and deep-sea creatures, and create mysterious merfolk characters. My heroine, Indigo Rain moves to a glamoured gothic beach town called Pyreshore and becomes a Keeper of the merfolk’s secret history. Indigo is a mermaid with a private slide from her basement into the Atlantic Ocean, and her own deep, dark secrets.

Her eventual love interest, Bay Finley, is of Royal merman stock, while Indigo, is of common stock. So the added “special sauce” is the Harry and Meghan royal versus commoner element.

Who wouldn’t love to suddenly be able to transform from human to mermaid? I give readers the experience through Indigo. “Out of sheer exuberance, she performed somersaults, twirls, and grand swoops up and over the seabed ravines and ridges.” Or even better, her first dive with Bay, her fellow merfolk researcher and secret crush:

“They plunged in. Indigo felt the transformative rush as her legs changed to a single tailfin, and her hips and below became a sheen of golden scales. She breathed in water and wriggled her way downward. As she did, she stole peeks at Bay. His merman patterns, like ruddy tribal tattoos, emerged along his jawline, down his muscled arms and on both sides of his lean torso. His scales, a rusty gold, matched the patterns on his skin, and glittered brightly against the darker waters like the sea glass she so loved. His chest and abs seemed to swell and flex at the same time with the strength of a Poseidon, the grace of a marathon swimmer, the glory of a merman Royal in his prime. She forced herself to look away, and to concentrate on seeking out the tablets, whether they were the nano-synth ones, more of the type in that hidden burial chamber, or another type of artifact altogether.”

I discovered deep-sea fish like the ghost shark with an extra set of jaws inside its maw that can suddenly extend like a slingshot to gobble prey, and the dragon fish that produce their own glowing light. They protect Indigo when a dangerous phantom attacks her and their light guides her back home. Mermaid lore is also endlessly fascinating, and disturbing! One element I used was that mermaid were known to lure sailors undersea and drown them, in order to use them to fertilize their ova to make wee little merbabies. Rather gruesome, and one shameful thing in Indigo’s past she feels compelled to atone for. You have to read the book to find out how! No spoilers here. If you love the ocean and its magical creatures, why not spend time with Indigo, Bay and the quirky cast of characters on Pyreshore and under its coastal waters?

See the book on Amazon (free on KU!)