Category Archives: GOLDEN REVIEW Books

GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “Cephrael’s Hand” by Melissa McPhail

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**

This is a richly imagined piece of work…the characters are engaging, and McPhail manages to do some very original things, which is often difficult in fantasy, given that so much work in the genre relies on Tolkienian stereotypes….some strong work here.  –Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

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“All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:

In Alorin…three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him…

In the kingdom of Dannym…the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord…

In the Nadori desert…tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them.


This reader enjoyed it; to say the LEAST!

I have my favorite writers — but I think I just found my next new (Sorry J.C. — there’s a new girl in town!) I found myself so vested in the characters and the story, I shunned spouse and children, snuggled up under a fluffy blanket in front of the fire without benefit of the depressing Washington rain — just to finish the book! Every chapter just keeps you wanting to read on to find out what happens next. This story is so well done. Pleasantly, nothing is as you expected…except for the good vs. evil part. Or is it? Hm…well you’ll just have to read to find out. If I have to wait for years for the next book in this series, things could get ugly for all parties involved.  –  Margaret Pimentel

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GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “Kill Me” by Alex Owens

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**

“When I started reading Kill me, the first in a trilogy by new author Alex Owens I expected the usual – Vampires, Intrigue, Drama and a little bit of Spice.  What I did not expect was the hilarious writing! A few pages into the book and it is crystal clear that Owen’s strong suit is her ability to hit the funny bone every few sentences. ”   ~Aditi, READioactive Book Blog

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Three days ago, she was a wife, a mother, and very much alive… then the music called to her.
Marketing maven Claire has one goal for the Music Expo– to land a few whales so that her boss will give her a badly needed raise. She puts on her game face and courts the industry’s elite until her plans are derailed by hotness-in-high-heels. Vampire Bette wants to find a human with untapped talents that she can mold and control. Using a haunted violin, she lures Claire in with her lilting song and bewitching smile. In that moment, Claire’s life is unraveled and she finds herself with more than strange dreams and overdue bills to worry about. Much more. 

To make matters worse, Claire is attracted to two unlikely people– Bette and her hunky but pale associate, Gregor. Both can light Claire’s fire, but is either of them the only one
Unfortunately for Claire, life isn’t all song lyrics and seduction. Tied to darkness by blood and power, Claire must harness her abilities if she has any hope of returning home to her daughter and regaining her former life.Kill Me, the debut novel from author Alex Owens, is a quirky paranormal fantasy complete with music, magic, fangs and freaks. It is also the first in a planned series, with the second book due out by the Fall of 2012. Be forewarned, this is not your daughter’s paranormal.

This reader loved it!
Quick and enjoyable read. Our heroine is a take-charge kind of girl who won’t take being bossed around, even if it is by a very scary trio of vampires. After all, she’s got a dead-beat husband to kick out and a daughter to raise.  – Queen Marie

GOLDEN REVIEW Book “Tribe” by James Bruno

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**

Tribe will take you on a roller-coaster ride through the corridors of power and the mountains and deserts of America’s war zones. . . You will not be disappointed. ~ Gloria Nagy, New York Times bestselling authorof nine successful books.

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Afghanistan: Battlefield of Power – Graveyard of Reputations CIA ops officer Harry Brennan put months of careful planning into Operation TALISMAN, aimed at giving a knockout blow to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Then CIA headquarters shuts it down with no explanation. As he investigates why, Harry, a rebel at heart, runs afoul of the CIA’s leadership and the White House as he gets in the way of a huge oil deal, one that promises to ensure a President’s re-election, troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and vast wealth to the oilmen who are behind the plot. Harry’s life is in danger. Worse, so is that of his daughter, Laurie, who is kidnapped by Islamist terrorists in Yemen. Harry Brennan sets out to expose a conspiracy and in doing so, save his daughter’s life. In Yemen to rescue Laurie, Harry becomes the target of Predator drone missiles–aimed by his CIA boss… Written by a former insider and censored by the U.S. government, TRIBE resonates with authenticity rarely seen in the political thriller genre.


This reviewer gave it five stars!

James Bruno’s riveting tale of skulduggery in the CIA and Central Asia is a page-turner par excellence. Or, if you’re downloading the latest e-book from this Kindle bestselling author, a page-scroller sans pareil.

Bruno shifts the rollercoaster action of his latest spy thriller effortlessly from the Khyber Pass to the Old Executive Office Building to the “Wild East” of Yemen and the reader just needs to hold on for dear life.

Tribe’s story of a conspiracy to have the U.S. government hand back control of Afghanistan to the Taliban in exchange for American oil companies getting to divvy up the riches of the Caspian Sea is Realpolitik at its most real. Bruno, author of Permanent Interests and Chasm, brings his trademark insider’s knowledge of government intelligence agencies together with a narrative skill that rivals anything David Ignatius has written, and does him one better in conveying the curious blend of bravura and bureaucracy that characterizes the CIA.

Bruno adds his own mordant wit and deeply professional cynicism to the mix to create a potboiler that has everything – action, suspense, sex, humor, and, in an American take on John Le Carré’s gray world of espionage, a meditation on the bigger issues of trust and betrayal and how to find room for patriotism or integrity in a world of runaway egos and ambition.

The hero of Tribe is Harry Brennan, who in attitude and magnetism could be portrayed on the screen by Clint Eastwood in his prime (the author even toys with the reader and mentions Eastwood in describing his character). This Harry is dirty as well, as he is not always successful in resisting the seductions – of power, sex, and revenge – that are thrown his way. He acknowledges his failings, but does not lose sight of which side he wants to come down on.

While Tribe begins with an attack on an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and climaxes with a thrilling hostage rescue in Yemen, most of the action in between takes place in the tony townhouses of Georgetown or the equestrian estates of Virginia where Washington’s movers and shakers ply their trade. It is tempting at some points to figure out if Bruno has mounted an elaborate roman a clef, but in the end it isn’t necessary because the author’s vivid characters stand on their own.

The action in exotic locales like Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula has an eyewitness feel to it. But it is ultimately the layers of intrigue within the U.S. government – and the Establishment that governs behind the façade of our democratic institutions – that packs the real punch in this novel. Bruno skillfully and authoritatively peels back the cant and hypocrisy of the ruling class, and mercilessly exposes the greed and venality that motivates so much of what happens in Washington.

Tribe, we realize as this thriller reaches its climax and denouement, is about loyalty, and that is not a quality confined to Afghani or Yemeni clans that Harry Brennan gets involved with. It refers as well to the primordial ties of family and friendship, of camaraderie and shared values that manage to survive the ravages of our putative civilization. Harry, in the end, is faithful to his tribe.

Bruno is in the vanguard of those talented authors who are exploiting the rapidly expanding digital medium for books. He has found his audience in the burgeoning e-book market and gained a loyal following. Because he can deliver the goods in authenticity and a lucid prose style, Bruno is proof that the post-publishing house world can produce suspense novels on a par with the franchise names on the print bestseller lists.  – Darrell Delamaide


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GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “Raingun” by John Blackport

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**


I first published Raingun in August 2011. At that time, I pledged half of its e-book royalties to a specific 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for scleroderma, the incurable condition that played a major role in the death of my brother-in-law, to whom I dedicated the book. But over the last winter, I found that this pledge ran afoul of several regulations concerning charitable solicitations that apply in several American states. So I had to remove it.

Common sense will tell you, that if you publicly pledge some of a product’s sales to any charity, you have a legal obligation to fulfill that — so you’d better follow through, and be able to prove that you did. However, this sort of pledge can also inconvenience the charity, by putting it at risk for fees or audits.

So I’ve put in a new pledge, one that names no specific organization. Starting with October 2010 royalty statements, I will donate half of this book’s royalties to various organizations dedicated to aiding people who suffer from scleroderma, researching its cause, or search for a cure. The donations will definitely go to more than one organization, and it may not be the same organization every month.

As far as I can tell, this will put me in compliance with all relevant regulations.

I’m publicizing this as a cautionary tale to other independent authors who wish to make charitable contributions through their work: research the organization to which you are donating, keep your promises, and make sure you’re in compliance!

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Rick Rivoire is flush with money, women, and prospects. He protects his country as one of the Rainguns, an elite regiment of spellcasting cavalry.

But the national policy drifts further and further into slavery and religious persecution, sparking rebellion. Joining the rebels could land Rick on a prison ship, in slave-irons — or atop the same gallows where he watched his father hang.

The alternative looks no brighter. The status quo imperils Rick’s hard-won self-respect. Supporting tyranny would doom his dream to emulate the valiant swordswoman who braved a den of monsters to rescue the lonely, terrified nine-year-old boy he once was.

Rick can’t stay above the fray forever. He must either defend an aristocracy whose actions disgust him — or risk everything he has.

This is the first book of The Raingun Chronicles. This book contains graphic violence and some explicit sex. It is intended for adults only.


This reviewer gave it five stars!

“Raingun” is an excellent first novel. It follows the protagonist, Rick, through the vital moments of his life, interspersing the main narrative of his joining the Rainguns mage-dragoons regiment with his backstory. As the story expands, so does the world; religions, even those dedicated to “good” gods, are feuding, slavery is rampant, and the excesses and abuses of power of the nobility are sickening. Meanwhile, there is always the threat of bandits, pirates, and necromancers dedicated to the evil gods, while elves attempt to kill off all colonists in the “New World”.

Blackport, the author, got a lot of things right with this novel. The worldbuilding is original; the concept of multiple lives for the humans, the political structures, and the function of newer colonies, away from older world influences, are all well and realistically implemented. In fact, the novel as a whole is highly realistic, which is one of the hardest things to achieve in writing, especially in fantasy. People act like real people, with all the good and bad that that entails. The motivations of the characters is likewise well done; Rick, and his internal drive to be a hero, with all the natural conflict that that causes in a real life, is especially well implemented. Dialogue is smooth and believable, and in general I’m really pleased with the level of immersion we get from the novel. The one warning about the realism level is that this may not be suitable for younger readers; though Blackport (the author) does a good job of avoiding the excesses that others use when attempting “realistic writing”, there is reasonably graphic sex and combat.

The plot was solid and unforced; Blackport does a good job of maintaining overarching themes of character growth and motivation through the various campaigns, battles, trials and tribulations that Rick experiences. I wasn’t hugely pleased with the ending; “Raingun” is clearly the first in a series, and I would have liked for the story to continue a bit longer, maybe reach a bit more of a climax or feel a bit more complete. The magic system could have borne out a more systematic, scientific (if that makes sense for fantasy) explanation, though the lack of such is in keeping with the purported time period and level of intellectual advancement. Those complaints aside, good editing, proofreading, and an organizational style that makes flashbacks palatable (I normally hate flashbacks with a passion) help round out the book.

Overall, a great read, which I would heartily recommend to other fantasy readers. Particularly recommended to fantasy fans who like semi-historical settings. I look forward to the sequel.

Edit: At the time of this review, the sequel is available, though not from clicking the author’s name at the top of this page. The sequel can be found at Resolution (The Raingun Chronicles)

A Guy

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GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “You Can’t Shatter Me” By Tahlia Newland

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**

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When superhero wanna-be, Carly, stands up to a bully, he turns on her, forcing her to battle cutting words, flying hooks, a doubt dragon and a suffocating closet. Her karate-trained boyfriend, Dylan’s desire to stop the harassment sets off a struggle to control his inner caveman. Meanwhile, Carly searches for inner strength and a peaceful solution. Will she find it before Dylan resorts to violence?

This heart-warming magical realism story offers real solutions for handling bullying that will inspire and empower teens and adults alike.


 This young adult “at heart” loved it!


I’m turning 42 on Friday, but I still love young adult (YA) fiction. In fact, I firmly believe that YA offers some of the most empowering stories and empowered female characters available in modern literature. I also believe that Tahlia Newland’s fiction is some of the best YA on the market, so when she asked if I’d read and review You Can’t Shatter Me, of course I said yes.

I was not disappointed.

In fact, I was awed.

Newland refers to this story as an example of magical realism, and it is. Sixteen-year-old Carly imagines herself a green lycra-clad superhero, flying from her bedroom window to mete out justice to bullied kids in her school, and uses her vivid imagination to visualize personal problems as doubt dragons to be slayed, while dealing with the very real torment of being the target of a bully herself.

Dylan also uses his imagination in powerful ways, seeing words as tangible objects that can harm or heal, and learning to conquer the former and boost the latter.

Both teens recognize that at some point each of us has to take a stand and become the writers of our own scripts, the authors of our own futures, and the breakers of our own paths.

Newland excels at weaving meditation techniques, including guided imagery, into the narrative without making it seem forced. Instead, she gives Carly an aunt who is part aging hippie/part guru, and who teaches her niece how she can make herself emotionally strong by sending love and light to the universe – even to people who mistreat her.

While You Can’t Shatter Me could have been a preachy diatribe against bullying, in Newland’s deft hands, this novel is an absorbing, educational read, that both satisfies and gives hope to adults and younger readers alike.

Goes well with a picnic lunch on the beach. – Melissa A. Bartell

Also available at:

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GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “The Nutt Family: An Acorny Adventure” by Angela Muse

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**

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Chess Nutt and his sister Praline are always pretending to have crazy adventures. What happens when these two acorn siblings have an unexpected real life adventure on their own? Things get a little nutty! This book is intended for children aged 8 and under.

Also check out Lil Glimmer, The Pig Princess and The Bee Bully by Angela Muse.


This review “duo” loved it!

This review consists of 2 parts: 1. My son’s review (he’s 5.5) and 2. My review (the Mom). These are excerpts – for the full review visit us at our website.

**The Nutt Family by A. Muse was provided to us free-of-charge by the author.**


What I liked and disliked about it:

I really liked the pictures in the book, especially the picture of the family tree in their house and the one where they are floating in the water. But I didn’t like the picture of the squirrel because I was scared the squirrel was going to eat them. I also really liked the story and their adventure especially when they are in the water. I liked that it was a story about a brother and sister because I have a sister too and we like to do things together too. We would look after each other too.

My bottom line:

I really liked this book. I would recommend it to both girls and boys my age.


What I liked and disliked about it:

There are many things that I really liked about this book. First, I love the illustrations: the Nutts are adorable and I really like how the illustrations are all from their perspective (i.e., everything looks BIG). I like the clever names given to the Nutts, especially Chess Nutt (ok, that one took me a while!) The story itself is very clever and engaging, combining the right level of tension with the touching loyalty and sibling love between the brother and sister. I also want to draw attention to and applaud the author for the inclusion of “fun facts” about acorns on the final page of the book. I really like the trend I’m seeing to include an educational component to children’s books, especially ones targeting younger audiences (under 5 years of age).

My bottom line:

I really liked this little book and I can totally see Chess and Praline having more adventures. Maybe the author has upcoming books about these two little nuts Nutts!? I would recommend this book to both boys and girls aged 3 to 6.

–  Mother Daughter Book Reviews


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GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “The First Christmas of the War” by Alan Simon

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**

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Labor Day, 2012 is behind us now, and the slow march towards the upcoming holiday season has begun. Get a head start on holiday spirit by taking a trip back in time:

‘ Twas the week of Christmas,
Nineteen forty-one;
The season’s joy overshadowed
by the war just begun.

The Great Depression years finally behind them, the entire Coleman family of Pittsburgh has been looking forward to this Christmas for almost the entire year. For the first time in more than a decade, Gerald and Irene Coleman have tucked away enough extra money to make up for all the lean years of disappointingly modest Christmas gifts for their children. But December 7, 1941 has changed everything, and for the past two weeks the entire family has followed with despair the Japanese advances all over the Pacific as well as America finally being dragged into the two-year old European war. Though a few glimmers of hope can be found amidst the ominous war news, both parents fear not only for the country’s fate as this new war begins but also, more personally, for the fate of their sons who will likely soon be joining the fighting in one war theater or another.

Still, despite the sense of dread hanging over almost every aspect of the family’s daily affairs, Irene Coleman is determined that if indeed this will be the last Christmas that the family spends together––at least until after the war, or perhaps even forever––then she will do everything in her power to make Christmas, 1941, the first Christmas of the war, a happy one for her children and her entire family.

Come spend the week leading up to Christmas, 1941 with the Coleman family including:

Jonathan––The eldest son at nineteen, Jonathan fatalistically realizes the inevitability of his military days arriving very soon, whether he succumbs to the pressure to enlist or if he waits until he is drafted. But Jonathan has other problems on his mind as well. His long-time girlfriend Francine Donner, whom only days from now he plans to ask to marry him, broke a date with him this past weekend to go out with one of Jonathan’s best friends from high school (and one of her own former boyfriends), because he is headed off to boot camp right after Christmas. Jonathan has ominous feelings about this turn of events…and he’s right.

Charlene––The third child in the family and the oldest daughter, Charlene has just become secretly engaged at the age of sixteen to her boyfriend who is soon headed to boot camp. She shares the news of her engagement with her cousin Lorraine Walker, but Lorraine quickly breaks her promise to keep the news secret. When Irene Coleman learns of her daughter’s engagement and the circumstances surrounding it, she has yet another problem to confront.

Irene––In many ways, the backbone of the family…the classic 1930s-1940s matriarch who runs her household her way, no questions asked. Like her husband, Irene is mortified by the ominous war news and does her best to occupy the hours of her day with an endless string of tasks and chores, trying to keep her mind off her own fears for her sons’ safety.

…and the others.

December 20-26, 1941:
The First Christmas of the War

And watch for the publication of the next tale in the Coleman Family Saga – THANKSGIVING, 1942 – this holiday season.


This reviewer would recommend it!


Not expecting a whole lot, I started reading and couldn’t stop. I looked forward to each chance to get back to the book on my kindle, laptop or droid. My bottom line is that I miss the family and want to read more about them. Powerful images of Christmas time in a 1940’s city; terrific characters; almost A Christmas Story without the humor at times. I can’t wait for the author’s next book in this series.  – In My Opinion…

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GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “The Bee Bully” By Angela Muse

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**

Do you have a child? Grandchild? Niece or nephew? Don’t miss this *Golden Review* Book!

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This is the story of a grumpy bee who learns that treating others with kindness is the best way to earn friends.


Just listen to this customer review!


Kids love rhyming stories and this one is far less forced than most. The moral is not subtle but sometimes in teaching our children we want a direct message instead of “high art”. An important point, brought out in the pictures is that Mr. Bee looks sad when he’s mean and looks gleefully happy went he changes. I put great value on the opportunities grown ups have to discusses these kinds of life changes with children. They strengthen society and enrich each individual’s life.
The art is some of the best! As an author and illustrator of children’s books I love subtleties that create adult/ child teaching moments and write in such a way that after, lets say, a tenth reading the reader and listener notices new themes in the drawings and story. An adult can ask, “Gracie’s Grandfather liked to make a jokes for others but did he like them himself?” – Nancy Mauerman


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GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “The Farewell Season” by Ann Herrick

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**


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A story of how love endures and love heals.
Eric and Glynnie go from butting heads to grudging friendship to something more…

Eric used to think he’d live forever, but not any more. Now football season is about to start, and Eric hopes he can live life normally again after the death of his father through his participation in the sport. He doesn’t yet realize that he is angry with his father for dying.

Eric’s refusal to truly face his grief results in unexpected feelings such as anger at his coach, increased fights with his sister, resentment of added responsibilities in helping his mother, and disillusionment with football. He even gets into a fight with his best friend, Rolf, who never fights anyone.

Eric rails against his mother’s friendship with his father’s business partner, and he’s suspicious of the guy in a black pickup who keeps showing up around town. He’s also ticked that even his coach seems a little too interested in his mother.

It takes a special relationship with Glynnie, a new friend, who is dealing with the divorce of her parents, to see that the only way to get through his grief is by grieving. An inspiring story of friendship, coming of age and football.


Still not convinced? Just take a look at this review!

Ann Herrick is a gifted writer that artfully takes the reader into the adolescent heart and mind. In her most recent young adult novel, The Farewell Season, viewpoint character Eric grapples with his grieving for his father. His struggles are poignant and bittersweet, with touches of humor. Ann Herrick is a master of portraying both the darkness and the light.

This story is also one that both fans of football and people who are not sports fans would enjoy.

Bravo, Ann Herrick!  – Sydill l. Voeller

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GOLDEN REVIEW Book! “The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story” by Karen Magill

**Every GOLDEN REVIEW book has at LEAST 10 reviews; averaging a four star rating.**


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A woman, Laura Neill, in Vancouver is struck by a Chrysler Intrigue while crossing the street. At the same time in Toronto a car also strikes Julian Rule. Both people have an out of body experience and meet as they are floating. Their ethereal forms bond as one before separating – each taking a part of the other’s soul with them as they return to their bodies.

When the two people wake up, they remember the experience they shared and have memories of each other. The simultaneous accidents created a psychic bond. They are truly soul mates. Although Laura is haunted by visions of Julian that she cannot understand, she has decided to make dramatic changes in her life. One of them is becoming engaged to a member of England’s nobility that has recently appeared in her life. When he senses that she is in danger – a feeling that is confirmed by a psychic friend – Julian goes to Vancouver to come to her aid. With the help of a detective, Julian is able to prove that Laura’s fiancé is a con artist and a murderer. When Julian confronts the man, he and Laura are placed in imminent danger.
Still not convinced? Just take a look at this review!

I really enjoyed this book The Bond, it was a fast and entertaining read. I enjoyed the story of Laura and Julian and how they met as spirits and then realized that they were bonded to each other after a little help. This was a short book only 89 pages but the author Karen Magill managed to put a lot of information about the characters into the book. The only thing I was disappointed in was that the book ended. I hope Karen Magill is planning on book 2, because I can’t wait to see what happens with the characters and what happens when Laura’s brother Lee “Christopher” comes home.I am so glad that I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  – weluvdopey

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