Key the Steampunk Vampire and the Dungeon of Despair (by Becket)

Early Readers / First Chapter Books

On her 9th birthday, just as she was about to cut her cake, Key and her family were visited by an evil vampire and his two zombie henchmen. What should have been the happiest day of her life quickly turned into the saddest night.

She is made into a vampire, her parents have disappeared and might have been done in by the zombies, and to top it all off she is thrown into the Dungeon of Despair and quickly forgotten. As she lives her unlife in despair, the years, decades and centuries pass by. But she still manages to find small things to cheer herself even while she is chained in the dungeon.


Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl and the Dungeon of Despair is a great book for early readers and children who are just venturing into chapter books. It is wonderfully illustrated, the story is fun and even this 45 year old found it quite entertaining.

It would be a great book to give to children who find reading challenging.

(illustrated by Raven Quinn)

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Until the End of the World / And After (by Sarah Lyons Fleming)

Zombie Apocalypse 

I’ve read a few zombie novels, and this is one of them.

Honestly, you could take the synopsis from any of them and switch it seamlessly into any of the others. Pretty much the same things happen in them all.

So quickly…there’s a virus, looters, they escape the city. Head to the farm, meet some bad guys, get over-run by zombies. Make their way to a fort, go to walmart, get over-run by a tsunami of zombies. Head into the wilderness. As expected along the way there is a lot of crunching, squishing and exploding brains. A few loved characters bite the bullet but a motley group
manage to escape and drive off into the sunset.

Maybe I read too much into these books but I grew up when people routinely talked about being “over-run” by immigrants of one persuasion or another. This book has the tsunami of zombies coming from the south…err Mexico, and when I read that sort of stuff I cringe a little. I don’t think it’s deliberate but it’s overt enough that I always notice it and draw those parallels.

That said, the books are entertaining enough even if they’re not all that original.

Note:  These two books work well together.  You could read them and walk away without any trouble.  That said, there is a third book coming out in early 2015.  

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The Girl and the Clockwork Cat (by Nikki McCormack)

Steam Punk / Young Adult

When Maeko finds a clockwork cat while running from Literati Officers she finds herself caught in the middle of political machinations between the ruling elite and the pirates who oppose them. When the wife and child of a famous inventor are murdered, the blame immediately falls on the pirates but with detectives, assassins, businessmen, literati and pirates all pushing their own agenda it’s hard knowing who is on her side and who will be the death of her.

She enlists the help of her partner in crime, Chaff, and the son of a pirate, Ash as she tries to find the murderer and save the day.

The Girl and the Clockwork Cat really is proper steam-punk. It’s complex and gritty and highly entertaining. I can’t really fault this book in any way.

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Montana Romance Novellas (by Merry Farmer)

1. Sarah Sunshine

After working as a prostitute to pay off her debts, Sarah is now free and determined to live a respectable life.  With an indefatigable spirit and a little help from her friends she might just succeed, but there are those in town who are all too willing to judge her for her past.



2. The Indomitable Eve

After escaping her mother who sold her to men for sex, Eve has finally been reunited with her sister.  But her sister has everything Eve wants but can never have and running is the only way she can protect her heart.  Until the town preacher manages to get past the walls she has built to protect heart and finds a woman he loves.



3. Seeks For Her

After divorcing her violent and abusive husband, Rebecca expects little more than to live for her children.  When the town’s pond is threatened she joins forces with Thomas, a Native American doctor to save it.  Together they battle against small minds and prejudice even as they battle their attraction.



These three novellas were given to me by the author’s publicist for review.  The writing style reminded me a little of Christian romance –– and then the sex started.  I nearly fell off my chair!

Still I dusted myself off and continued with the novellas and after throwing out all my previously held notions started to enjoy the books.  They really are kind of perfect short Christmas / Holiday reads, quick and easy and not too taxing.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.23.18 pmMany thanks to Badass Marketing for providing me with these review copies.

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2014 Best Five.

These are my best five books for 2014 (all published from December 2013 to November 2014).

1. Wildfire (by Mary Pauline Lowry)

It’s gritty and in your face. The story of a woman who joins an elite hot-shots team of remote area fire fighters.

Fiction / Adventure




2. The One Plus One (by Jojo Moyes)

The story of a single mother who is struggling to do the best for her children, her children who are struggling with bullying, and a man who is being investigated for insider trading.

Women’s Fiction / Romance



3. More to Give (by Terri Osburn)

The best man for the job is a woman…but unless someone gives her a chance she might end up back living with her mother.  Terri Osburn writes some of the best contemporary romance going around.

Contemporary Romance


The Dukes Holiday (by Maggie Fenton)

A stuck up duke battling wits with a woman who wrestles pigs.  A complete romp from beginning to end.

Regency Romance



Without Words (by Ellen O’Connell)

Ellen O’Connell somehow manages to write Western Romances that are proper romances but also have a believable realness to them. She’s a favorite author and her books are game changers in that they have the potential to bring new readers to the genre.

Western Romance



So that’s my list.  What have been your best books of the year?