I’m delighted to focus this month’s Author Spotlight on a wonderful middle grade fantasy author, Laura DiNovis Berry.
Laura’s latest publication, The Nasties of Nastgant Swamp, was released by Indies United Publishing last October and is the 2nd book in her Story of Antyfas series. I love middle grade fantasy books so I wanted to take this opportunity to share this wonderful author, her story and her wisdom with you.
What’s it about?
It’s not every day that a gnome invites you to dinner. When Valentino is invited to a special gnome party deep in the Nastgant Swamp, he can’t wait to go. Unfortunately, he isn’t just the guest of honor — he’s supposed to be the main course! Join Valentino on his fantastic adventure filled with trolls, gnomes, and danger.
The Nasties of Nastgant Swamp is filled with all of the creative…
It’s raining! It’s raining so much, it’s flooding—the perfect time to stay inside and get cozy with a cup of hot chocolate and an exciting book. Here are my winter thriller picks:
Re-releasing on January 18th by award-winning crime writer, Lisa Towles, Choke won A Big NYC Book Award in 2018 and has been cited as a”compelling story” and “a smoking’ good read”. I totally agree. It’s a IUPH reprint that was originally published by Rebel Publishers in 2017. I loved it then and again! In typical Towles-style, this fast-paced psychological thriller is a puzzle for the reader to piece together. Through snappy dialog, characters’ on-going internal anguish and tightly crafted and complicated plotting, Choke is a thrilling ride guaranteed to keep you awake way too late. I highly recommend Choke—and all of Lisa Towles‘s thrillers. See the trailer here.
Kerry Stine’s life is destroyed when she’s blamed for the death of a hospital patient. Not only is she fired, but she’s wanted by the police. On top of this, a squatter in her apartment thinks she’s hiding a priceless historical treasure—and wants it. Elsewhere, Dr. Adrian Calhoun is a target and a liability to the pharmaceutical industry for the controversial cancer cure he’s developed. Kerry’s search for the truth about her squatter leads her to a different truth – about a part of her past she’s not ready to face and a precious jewel that can’t possibly be hers. Adrian must protect not only himself but his secret formula and his vulnerable control group, before Pharma gets to them first. The destinies of Adrian and Kerry collide to piecing together stunning revelations that change their lives forever.
Published in 2021, Blood’s Echo is the first of three Veranda Cruz police procedurals set in Phoenix, Arizona. Veranda is determined to take down the heir to a ruthless Mexican cartel, but is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to see justice? Not only is Bartolo Villalobos unstable and vicious, but foes on the force stand in her way. Her new homicide team and an arsonist ally are drawn into the danger as the investigation heats up. When Veranda learns information held secret for years, she has no choice but to protect her family . . . and stop Villalobos.
Blood’s Echo deservedly won the Mariposa Award for the best First Novel. It’s a fast-paced, thrilling procedural dealing with some of the most dangerous police work: fighting the drug cartels. Hank Phillippi Ryan describes it as, “Taut, tense, and relentlessly authentic. Isabella Maldonado-with her unique personal knowledge of the danger, conflict and emotional toll of law enforcement is an important new voice in crime fiction.” I picked up my copy before getting on a plane and only put it down when I disembarked three hours later. Everything about Blood’s Echo kept me reading. Veranda is smart and strong, but she’s also a loving family member. I loved being a fly on the wall observing her big Latin immigrant family. I will read the rest of this series and the touted Nina Guerrera series too. Don’t miss this high tension, adrenaline producing thriller by Isabella Maldonado.
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
– Mortimer J. Adler
All Her Little Secrets is one of the best books I’ve read. Wanda M. Morris is an accomplished writer; her sentences are beautiful, her language is intelligent, and her ability to drop into various voices is smooth. The book is an edgy, hard look at racism, secrets, the legal system, and family. Morris doesn’t mince words. Character Ellice Littlejohn’s descriptions of being a powerless poor Black child in Georgia and an invisible Black professional woman in Atlanta are heart wrenching. Ellice’s secrets might have held her back, but her strength and determination to protect her family keep her going where a lesser person would give up. What a debut! All Her Little Secrets won the 2022 Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel. Congratulations Wanda! I look forward to more of Wanda M. Morris’s books.
Ellice Littlejohn has an Ivy League Law degree, a great corporate job in Atlanta and a long-time lover—who is white and her boss. When she finds him on his office floor shot through the head, she walks away. But why? She’s afraid her past, her jailbird brother, her impoverished upbringing, must remain secret. The following day she’s promoted to her boss’s position, but why didn’t the top executives go to the funeral? Ellice, the only Black employee, starts to uncover the rot at the core of the corporation. As she gets closer to the company secrets, her own secrets are exposed. It’s a moral and ethical nightmare, and a heart-pounding ride!
Okay! Pick a book or three and make the perfect hot chocolate. Here’s how:
INGREDIENTS: 1 SERVING
1 cup milk, soy milk, almond milk, or water
1 package/disc Taza Chocolate Discs (any flavor)
Salt to taste
1. Roughly chop or grate one disc of any flavor and set aside.
2. Heat one cup of milk or water in a small saucepan over medium heat to just below a simmer.
3. Remove the milk from heat and add a pinch of salt.
4. Slowly mix in the chocolate, stirring frequently until dissolved.
5. When the chocolate is dissolved, return the mixture to the stove and re-warm over low heat.
6. While the chocolate is warming, use a whisk or molinillo to froth the chocolate.
7. When the chocolate is hot and frothy, remove from heat and serve.