The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler was a delightful read. For the most part, it is told from the perspective of an eight-year old boy, Owen, who is taken as a hostage by the brutal King Severn Argentine. Owen’s life is under constant threat because his father, Duke of Kiskaddon, tried to overthrow the king and must now demonstrate his utmost loyalty to Severn or forfeit his family’s lives. At the beginning of the story, Owen is very timid and afraid, and can hardly utter a word. However, a motherly young woman, the Queen’s poisoner, befriends Owen and teaches him how to survive, to gain the trust of the king and to discern the true nature of friends. Another precocious princess also befriends Owen and shows him how to be courageous. Through the influence of the young woman and princess, Owen gains courage and learns how to use the magic of the KingFountain to control his destiny. The book would be suitable for young adults, as the theme on how to discern trustworthiness and to gain courage is explored. The characters are well developed. I especially love how the female characters, who not only give Owen the love he needs, but give him valuable lessons on how to bravely deal with the king. I highly recommend this book.The Queen’s Poisoner
FEATURED AUTHOR: PAUL SCHUMACHER
It is my honor to feature Paul Schumacher, Colorado author of the coming-of-age novel, The Importance of Now, which was recently released by Black Rose Writing on May 27, 2021 (234 pages). I first met Paul at a writing workshop sponsored by the Northern Colorado Writers and was moved by his heartfelt, poignant writing style in his first book, The Tattered Box, at which time I interviewed him (See Paul Schumacher Interview).
Below are highlights of The Importance of Now, Paul Schumacher’s author bio, author interview, and my review of his book.
HIGHLIGHTS: THE IMPORTANCE OF NOW
The Importance of Now
At 14, Shawn Stevens commits a horrible crime the day after his father’s funeral. These two events define his life. After leaving juvenile detention, he starts life over but is haunted by his past, unable to forgive anybody, including himself. When Shawn becomes a mentor, he finally confronts what he’s done, questioning everything.
In a parallel story from the present, Shawn’s 13-year-old son, Aidan, finds letters in the attic introducing him to the father he never met. Aidan discovers the secrets his mom kept all these years and uncovers what drove his dad to finally forgive before it was too late.
by Paul Schumacher
Eighteen-year-old John receives a peculiar gift from his elderly grandpa: a timeworn box filled with items from the past. John soon discovers what they all mean when he travels back to 1941 and suddenly finds himself the same age as his grandpa. They play baseball together, enjoy a double date, yet endure hardships and the imminent threat of war. As the items in the box become the ultimate storytellers, John hopes to appreciate his grandpa for who he is.
AUTHOR BIO: PAUL SCHUMACHER
Paul Schumacher was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He currently lives in Colorado with his wife, Gail, and their three children. He has authored more than twenty technical papers and is an inventor on more than forty patents. His first novel, The Tattered Box, was published in December 2016, and his second book, The Importance of Now, was published in May 2021.
Social Media Links:
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: PAUL SCHUMACHER
1) What’s the first line in your newest book, “The Importance of Now?”
I hated going up, but I had to.
2) What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.
The back cover summary will speak for itself. To me, it’s about learning to forgive, both others and yourself. The protagonist, Shawn, is a flawed guy with a good heart. He’s trying to move beyond his past, but it’s difficult in so many ways. Like us, he finds inspiration and love in unexpected places, which makes for an interesting road to recovery.
3) What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?
I mentored six boys at my church back in Minnesota in the late 1990s, and it really opened my eyes to the love and forgiveness that everyone wants and needs, especially youth. While kids require a lot, they can also be very open-minded and willing to accept others, much more so than many adults. As I was the only mentor who was not a parent, I wondered how I would have been treated if I had a shady past, if I needed some oft-mentioned forgiveness but the church was reluctant to give it. I have also been to many of the places described in the book, so they provided a great backdrop for the story.
4) What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?
We all struggle with learning to forgive, and it’s especially hard when the person in need of forgiveness is yourself. This story also makes you think about redemption and your unforeseen impact on others. We could all use some reminders of that now and then.
5) What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?
Shawn seems so real to me, partly because he is composed of many people I know, including myself. I purposely made his road to recovery an up and down rollercoaster, as that is what most personal roads are like. I’ve experienced it myself. I love how he fights his way through his struggles. I was rooting for him the whole time I wrote it. I hope you will, too.
6) Is this the first book you’ve written?
It’s my second book. My first novel, The Tattered Box, was published in December 2016. It’s a story about a grandson who travels back in time to hang out with his grandpa.
7) When did you first decide to become an author?
I had often considered it but never really got around to finding the time (I’m sure you can relate). The day before my farther-in-law passed away, I was taking my oldest to school. During the short drive, he said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could somehow travel back in time to hang out with Grandpa. We’d golf, bowl, fish, you name it.” Well, needless to say, I was hooked. I knew right away that’d make a great story, so that’s where the inspiration for my first book came from. I then had to convince myself I could do it again, so in some ways this second one was more difficult to write. But I love how it turned out.
8) What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?
Write to an audience of one: yourself. Especially in early drafts, don’t think about what will sell or what others will want to read or think of you. Don’t care, just write. Write the story that only you can write, and do it with enough passion that others will want to come along for the ride.
9) Which book do you wish you could have written?
I’m going to cheat and name two:
- A Separate Peaceby John Knowles
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John IrvinG
BOOK REVIEW: THE IMPORTANCE OF NOW
5 of 5 Stars
The Importance of Now by Paul Schumacher is a coming-of-age literary fiction with themes of forgiveness, redemption, and unconditional love. The story is told primarily by Aiden and his father, Shawn, as a young man in a time/slip narrative. Both of their stories unfold after thirteen-year-old Aiden finds letters about his father in an attic, and he confronts his mother, Grace, to find out more about him. As Aiden uncovers the truth, Shawn’s story is told in parallel in the past after returning from a boy’s detention home for a crime he committed shortly after his own father’s death. Shawn struggles to redeem himself by mentoring teen boys at a church and learning how to forgive others to set him free from bitterness. Falling deeply in love, Shawn looks forward to a bright future, but he must grasp happiness at the moment before it escapes him.
Author Paul Schumacher has written a poignant, beautifully written story with the powerful themes of forgiveness, redemption, and unconditional love. The prose is rich with sensory descriptions and metaphors. It is a character-driven story with the unique structure of time/slip narratives, letters, and police records. The author nails the character’s voices through internal thoughts, natural dialogue, and descriptions. Both Shawn and Aiden are relatable characters as they struggle to understand themselves in their coming-of-age life journeys. I was particularly moved by Shawn, who finally understands why he made reckless decisions as a teen and what he needs to move forward in the depths of his despair. Grace helps light the way for Shawn through her forgiveness and unconditional love for him. Finally, Aidan learns by vicariously experiencing what his father went through so he can accept his mother.
The Importance of Now speaks to the heart about redemption, forgiveness, and unconditional love. These themes resonated with me long after I read the story—characteristics of a classic novel. Highly recommended.
The worlds of Jag Peters and Rena Jett collide when he nearly crashes into her motorcycle in Ghostly Interference by Jan Sikes. When Jag tracks down Rena’s candy apple red Harley at a corner pub so he can apologize to her, he is instantly attracted to the spitfire, dark-hair beauty. They are nothing alike. A computer programmer, Jag avoids risks while Rena is a brash waitress who appears fearless. Nonetheless, it is as though “the Universe had strange ways of bringing two souls together.” After meeting Rena, Jag strangely glimpses a ghostly figure in camouflage military attire at various times. As his relationship develops with Rena, he discovers that beneath her hard facade is a lonely girl with a troubled past and that her brother, Sam, had recently died in combat in Afghanistan. Jag wonders if the ghost is Rena’s brother who has stayed to protect and to assure her happiness. Her brother’s last gift to Rena is a magical rune, symbolizing “happily ever after,” that helps tie their past and present together in a climactic ending.
Author Jan Sikes has written a romance with paranormal elements that will resonate with readers. For romance readers, there are some steamy scenes that will make your heart pound harder. Yet, there are more layers to the story, which on the surface seems a straight-forward romance. The following quote from the book resonated with me as I read the book: Live for the today. Leave tomorrow alone. As for yesterday let it go. Rena needs to let go of the emotional scars she endured in abusive foster homes so that she can accept Jag’s love and a family lost to her. Jag must recognize that he has found something that he never knew he lost.
The secondary characters are memorable and their backstories help drive the story. I particularly like Jag’s mother, who made the ultimate sacrifice for her son so he could be raised in a stable family. We also learn about Sam whose soul can’t leave his little sister until he knows that she is safe and that she can embrace happiness. Other secondary characters from Jag’s and Rena’s past also help them learn how to live for the moment and to find their true passions. The themes of forgiveness, redemption, and unconditional love are enhanced with the multi-layered backstories of the secondary characters. Lyrics from songs and the symbology of the rune add to the rich tapestry of the love story.
The universal themes in Ghostly Interference will resonate with readers on several levels after they finish the book. It is a memorable, multi-layer love story between two completely different people who help each other find his/her true identity and passion. Highly recommended.
Beneath the Lake by Casi Mclean is a paranormal/timeslip romance with elements of suspense in which lovers weave their destinies across three time periods to be together. The story begins in suspense as a mysterious man slips forward in time and is resolved to reinvent himself and to target Lacy. A year later in 2012, we are introduced to Lacy, a lawyer, attending a party where she finds her longtime boyfriend cheating on her. Enraged, she leaves the party in the midst of a raging storm and her car crashes near a cursed lake where there was once a town and people vanish without a trace. Tracy falls into the lake and time slips back to 1949 when Bobby finds her injured near the lake. As their relationship evolves into something deeper, Lacy faces the risk of losing him if she unexpectedly travels forward in 2012. All of the narratives in the various time periods tie together for a riveting climax with unexpected twists.
Author Casi McLean masterfully weaves the narratives of a mysterious man targeting Lacy at the beginning of the story and Lacy finding herself in the past. It is an inspirational story in which Lacy not only finds true love, but she also finds her purpose by helping residents in the small town negotiate prices for their properties before these are covered by the lake for flood control. The author nimbly juggles the narratives and time periods, keeping the reader in suspense. What I like most about the novel is the fast-paced beginning that hooks you and the compelling ending that ties everything together. For romance readers, the development of the relationship between Lacy and Bobby, an alluring blue-eyed hero, is the centerpiece of the story.
I highly recommend Beneath the Lake for readers who enjoy reading paranormal romance with elements of suspense.
Book Review: Break of Darkness by Ryanne Glenn
Below is my Goodread book review of Break of Darkness by Ryanne Glenn and her biography and contact information.
Break of Darkness by Ryanne Glenn is the final, most compelling book in the Descent of Shadows epic fantasy series that has followed the journey of Anna, a young general battling shadowy creatures known as wraiths. In the third book, survivors from the sanctuary city that King Ramiere destroyed are in the depths of despair. Disheartened by the devastation, Anna escapes to a foreign land, hoping to erase her memories of the ravages of relentless war with the wraiths. Her regiment is in disarray and struggling to survive the continuing wraith onslaught. Anna seeks insight from her ancestral past to help her overcome the dark magic of King Ramiere. However, the light Anna finds also has shades of darkness that she must embrace to defeat him before he destroys the human race. Not only is the tale about battles between sworn enemies, but it is also about Anna’s inner struggle to accept herself and to unify her troops to do the impossible—overcome King Ramiere.
The final book has a heart-wrenching but satisfying ending to the series. Author Ryanne Glenn has masterfully written an epic journey of a young woman struggling to find herself and to regain loyalty from her soldiers who believe she had abandoned them. It is a multi-layered tale that explores human frailties and friendships which can forge during times of despair. The three-dimensional characters are engaging, particularly the eighteen-year-old heroine, Anna, who must come to terms with her darker side. King Ramiere is a complex villain with a diabolical plan to destroy humans so he can save his wraiths from the destructive forces of light. The book is rich in detail, setting the mood, and has a heart-throbbing climax that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
I highly recommend the series to both teens and adults. Break of Darkness realistically depicts the consequences of war on the souls of individuals, but it is also a morality tale of how friendship is the ultimate victor in times of despair.
About Ryanne Glenn
Ryanne Glenn is a member of the Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins, CO, where she attends Colorado State University. She is pursuing a degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering. She loves to golf, though after playing for twelve years, her handicap should be much lower than it is. Between writing and classes, she often visits her hometown of Fruita, Colorado, to spend time with her family and two dogs, Coco and Pebbles.
Ryanne started writing short stories when she was ten and was first published in Fruita’s local newspaper. She took her first creative writing class in high school and was inspired to expand her writing into poetry and longer stories. After struggling with depression in her first year at college, she turned back to writing as a healthy outlet for her emotions. She wants to write strong female role models and is excited to share her stories with the world.
You can purchase Break of Darkness by clicking on the following:
You can contact Ryanne Glenn by clicking on the following:
The legacy of King Henry VIII has always fascinated me, but I knew very little about the earlier accounts of the Tudor dynasty. Thus, I selected Owen: Book One of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches to learn more about how the Tudor Dynasty was established. The story of Owen, the great-grandfather of Henry VIII, is as fascinating as the tales about the legendary king. Told in the first-person perspective of Owen, the story begins in 1422 when he first meets his new mistress, Queen Catherine of Valois, the young widow of King Henry V. The queen’s young son, Harry (Henry VI), is crowned King of England and France. Nobles responsible for the young king’s upbringing tightly control the queen’s life and her influence on her son. Owen, serving as the Keeper of the Wardrobe, loyally serves and befriends Queen Catherine and gains her trust. Rumors of Catherine’s affair with the 2nd Duke of Somerset prompts a parliamentary statute that forbids her to remarry until her son comes of age. Soon after, Catherine and Owen fall in love and secretly marry in the backdrop of political turmoil that ultimately leads to the War of Roses.
Author Tony Riches has masterfully written a poignant love story narrated by Owen in the present tense. The moment-by-moment narrative helps the reader more actively engage with Owen’s life journey. The story is rich with vivid descriptions and natural dialogue that highlights Owen’s wit and cleverness. Although his childhood has been shattered by the loss of his Welsh noble parents and heritage, Owen becomes the unlikely second husband to Queen Catherine and the father of her children. Their secret love and marriage have tragic consequences in the backdrop of the War of Roses. Yet Owen’s firstborn son, Edmund, ultimately becomes the father of King Henry VII, the first monarch in the Tudor Dynasty.
Owen: Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is one of the best historical fiction novels I’ve read this year. I highly recommend this book to historical fiction readers, particularly those interested in the Tudor Dynasty.
The U.S. is on the brink of a deadly war with China in the debut international thriller, “Insurmountable Edge: Book One” by Thomas H. Goodfellow. The only person who can counter the threat is the steel-edged General Jack Wilder. His execution of some of the deadliest missions on behalf of the US in the elite special forces has forged him into a deadly weapon which enemies will have to reckon with. Jack Wilder is similar to Jack Reacher created by Lee Child, but he has his own unique foibles.
The story starts out in a horrific scene where two children are forced to dig their own graves before they are stoned to death. General Jack Wilder then takes over as the narrator. Retired and living at his plush Californian ranch, he cares for his hellbent seventeen-year-old ward, Adelaide, and his army buddy, Jeff, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD). Ironically, Wilder’s unresolved issues with PSTD makes him prone to hallucinations.
A striking physician, Kate, seeks Wilder’s help in solving a series of murders with international security implications at a company she oversees. Meanwhile, war is ready to break out in the Middle East with China that will have an “insurmountable edge“ in the conflict. Tasked with investigating the insurmountable edge, Jack Wilder’s mission twists with unexpected turns as murders pile up and he is sometimes off edge talking with imaginary people and animals—possibly clues to political machinations behind the scenes. The book does not end with a classical cliffhanger but continues in what will be a three-book series that should connect the murders and international conflict.
Author Goodfellow has written an action-packed thriller filled with unique, memorable characters and vivid descriptions. The interactions between the characters and the smart, crisp dialogue work hand-in-hand with action scenes and unexpected twists to drive the story forward. Even though Wilder struggles with his own internal turmoil, he is an engaging character with a hint of chivalry toward Kate. But make no mistake, he is more than capable of maximum damage against his enemies.
“The Insurmountable Edge,” is an exciting start to a three-book series that spins a complex web of international intrigue and unforeseen enemies that promise to be the ultimate match for Jack Wilder. Highly recommended for fans of complex international thrillers with a hero you can root for.
Not A Blueprint, It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter: A Journey Through Toxic Relationships, is a memoir of Nina Norstrom. In the author’s note, she broadly defines that a toxic relationship can be with people, alcohol, disease, and our internal emotions to mention a few. The memoir provides an overview of Nina’s life journey, beginning in her childhood growing in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father who abuses her mother. The author’s daughter, China, is born out of wedlock as a result of a liaison with a married man. Although she continues seeking relationships with males so China can have a father figurehead, these relationships don’t work out. The one driving force that motivates the author to overcome obstacles is to provide for her daughter as best she can. The heart of this memoir is Nina’s unconditional love for her daughter who must battle cancer as a young woman.
Author Norstrom tells a heartfelt story with a straight-forward, relatable voice. After each chapter, she provides insight into what lessons she has learned from each experience. Although she doesn’t always make the wisest decisions, her heart is in the right place as she struggles to learn the lessons from her journey through life. A bonus from her memoir is a list of support groups that can help people through times of grief.
I recommend this memoir to readers who are looking for insight on how to overcome toxic relationships by following the footprints of this author as her trial unfolds in this story.
Forged by Iron is the first book in The Saga of King Olaf that sweeps you into a Nordic adventure in 960 AD. The Viking-era book is based on the tales of King Olaf but is told in first-person by Torgil, a twelve-year-old boy sworn to protect the reckless 8-year-old Prince Olaf. The story begins when the shy but courageous Torgil helps rescue Olaf after the young prince recklessly jumps off a cliff with a dare from his older companions. The resentment that Torgil holds for Olaf is established at the beginning of the tale as the Norns weave the fates of the young boys. They are both caught up in the political machinations of Holger who betrays and kills Olaf’s father. Under the protection of Torgil and his father, Queen Astrid and Olaf are forced to escape with their lives on a harrowing journey through Norway, into Sweden, and modern-day Estonia. The travails the boys face forge them into hardened young men bent on vengeance.
Author Eric Schumacher masterfully captures the essence of the characters while telling a riveting adventure and coming of age story of two boys who must face almost insurmountable challenges. Torgil is an engaging character. Although he is sometimes jealous of Olaf, Torgil nonetheless does his duty to protect the young prince even though they sometimes clash. What makes this tale rise above others in this genre is the author’s ability to vividly capture the Viking culture and the harsh landscapes they must traverse. The story is rich with vivid, unique descriptions as seen through the eyes of a boy. One of the aspects I liked most is Torgil’s confused feelings about the queen’s handmaiden, Turid, in a budding relationship in which they reach out to each other at difficult times. The poignant moments are juxtaposed with the harsh realities that they face as they are chased by enemies bent on their destruction. Extra bonuses in the book include regional maps and a glossary of Viking terms which are used in the narrative.
Forged by Iron immerses you in the legendary tale of King Olaf as told by his protector’s point of view. I highly recommend this character-driven Viking adventure for those who are swept up in the Nordic culture, landscape, and clashes. I look forward to continuing this saga when the next book comes out in this series.
Get at Amazon
About Eric Schumacher
Eric Schumacher is an American historical novelist who currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife and two children. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of San Diego.
At a very early age, Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those discoveries continue to fuel his imagination and influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God’s Hammer, was published in 2005. His latest books, War King, was released in October of 2018 and Forged by Iron was recently released.
You can contact Eric Schumacher and learn more about his books at:
“Antonius: Second in Command” by Brook Allen is the second book in the Antonius Trilogy, spanning the period of 54 BC to 41BC. The saga of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) continues in this book at the time he is accepted as a military officer under the command of Julius Caesar. Marcus demonstrates his prowess as a strategic, courageous military leader that Roman soldiers can enthusiastically follow on the battlefields of Britannia and Gaul. With undying loyalty to Julius Caesar, Marcus becomes second-in-command to the renowned Roman general. However, when Marcus assumes political power in Rome on the behest of Caesar, his reputation and marriages flounder. Even though Caesar repudiates him for his political blunders, Marcus remains loyal. After winning Caesar’s trust again, Marcus becomes consul and adeptly administers Rome through chaos after Caesar’s assassination. However, he then faces his greatest challenger, the nineteen-year-old Octavian and adopted son of Caesar. He eventually allies with Octavian to wreak revenge on Julius Caesar’s assassinators at the battle of Phillipi, where the third book of the series will continue.
Author Brook Allen masterfully weaves battle scenes, family drama, and political conspiracies into the saga of Marcus Antonius. There is no doubt that Marcus is a formidable military commander with flashes of brilliance in the political arena. Yet, his womanizing, gambling and drinking continue to lurk him at critical times which his political rivals can use against him. The epic storytelling is engaging and addictive. The battle scenes are described with vivid details. The characters pop off the page, particularly Flavia (Marcus’s third wife) and Octavian. As a fan of the HBO series, “Rome,” I found this book even more intriguing with its rich historical background. One of the most fascinating incidents is when Marcus Antonius has to exchange his young son as a hostage so he could negotiate a truce with the senators who murdered Julius Caesar.
I highly recommend this superb series for fans of historical fiction set in Rome. The essence of Mark Antony and Roman politics rings true back then as it does in modern politics today.