Review: Voices of the Sea, by Bethany Masone Harar

About the book Voices of the Sea Voices from the Sea

Publisher: WiDo Publishing (July 22, 2014)
Paperback: 285 pages

The Sirens of Pacific Grove, California are being exterminated, and seventeen-year-old Loralei Reines is their next target. Lora may look like a normal teenager, but her voice has the power to enchant and hypnotize men. Like the other Sirens in her clan, however, she keeps her true identity a secret to protect their species.

Lora’s birthright as the next clan leader seems far off, until the Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult determined to kill all Sirens on Earth, begin exterminating her people. When an unexpected tragedy occurs, Lora must take her place as Guardian of the Clan.

Lora is determined to gain control of her skills to help her clan, but they are developing too slowly, until she meets Ryan, a human boy. When Ryan is near, Lora’s abilities strengthen. She knows she shouldn’t be with a human. Yet, she can’t resist her attraction to him, or the surge in power she feels whenever they’re together.

And the Sirens are running out of time. If Lora can’t unlock the secret to defeat the Sons of Orpheus, she, along with everyone she loves, will be annihilated.

Buy, read, and discuss Voices of the Sea

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the author, Bethany Masone Harar Bethany Harar

Bethany Masone Harar graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English from James Madison University and a Masters in Secondary English Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has enjoyed teaching high school English ever since. As a teacher, Bethany is able to connect with the very audience for whom she writes, and this connection gives her insight into their interests. As a writer, she wants to make her readers gasp out loud, sigh with longing and identify with her characters. Bethany also enjoys posting on her blog, is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is an avid follower of literary-driven social media. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband, two beautiful children, and her miniature poodle, Annie.

Connect with Bethany

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts

As a self-described Bathtub Mermaid, and someone whose first sound (other than her mothers voice) in the morning and last sound at night during the first two years of life was the sound of the foghorn over Raritan Bay, New Jersey, I know what it means to have the sea in your blood.

Bethany Harar obviously also knows this primal connection to the ocean, because the sirens she’s created in Voices of the Sea can hear the water sing to them, and, if they’re Guardians like protagonist Lora, can even hear it speak.

What I really loved about this book was that it’s YA that transcends age-limitations. I’m 44, and I felt the cool caress of the Pacific when Lora got her feet wet, and shivered with her when the fog rolled in (though, it helps that I lived many years near the central coast of California). I also loved that Lora felt like a real seventeen-year-old, with needs and wants in addition to her Siren-self.

All three of the men in Lora’s life, her childhood friend Will, her father, and new boy Ryan, are as dimensional as Lora herself, and I could feel the tension at being caught between these three personalities. As well, Lora’s grandmother, Devin, is someone I’d love to sit down and have a mug of tea or bowl of clam chowder with, preferably in her surfside cottage.

It took me a while to figure out who the killer was, but Harar laid out the clues nicely. It wasn’t obvious, until, finally, it was.

Harar weaves a lovely tale, and while everything was wrapped up by the end – romance, mystery, self-fulfillment, I found myself wondering if this was the first novel in a series, because I want more, More, MORE!

Goes well with A burger, a beer, and the clam chowder sampler from the Blue Mermaid in San Francisco.

This post is part of a blog tour sponsored by Wow: Women on Writing. Visit their blog, The Muffin for more information.

Review: Danger in her Words, by Barbara Barth

About the book, Danger in Her Words Danger in her Words

Genre: Romance/Suspense

Publisher: Gilbert Street Press

Publication Date: February 19, 2014

Paperback: 238 pages

A TV sitcom pitch gone wrong turns dog-column writer Susan Meyers in a tailspin. Sex Sells was the topic of the day at the writers’ convention. Susan decided to try something new and a steamy romantic novel seemed just the answer. A widow who hadn’t dated in three years, Susan was out of practice with men and sex. She turned to an online dating site to find inspiration for her book and unleashed a predator with the words she wrote. Tucked an hour away from her friends in a small town where she kept to herself, with only her tiny dog for company, Susan felt safe from the world. Little did she know her life was about to change.

A romp of a story about writing and finding yourself in this book within a book. If you love girl-talk, farmhouses, antiques, country towns, a touch of murder, a sprinkle of suspense, and a bit of naughty fun, come join Susan as she learns about life from her character Jamie. Two widows looking for love in all the wrong places might still get it right if they live long enough.

Buy, read, discuss.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the author, Barbara Barth Barbara Barth

Barbara Barth likes a lot of things: turquoise jewelry, surfing the ‘net, and margaritas, to name a few. Then there are the dogs. As many as her house can hold! This Georgia antique dealer and jewelry maker published a hobby newsletter for 13 years. After her husband died she recorded the year that followed in a series of essays. When she isn’t writing you can find her at the local thrift shops or pounding another nail into the wall to hang the paintings she can’t resist. She published a memoir The Unfaithful Widow and Danger in her Words is her debut novel.

Connect with Barbara

Website | Blog | Blogspot Blog | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Discussion Page | Twitter

My Thoughts

When I was offered the chance to read and review Barbara Barth’s first novel Danger in Her Words, I jumped at the chance. Why? Because someday I’m going to be hawking my own first novel, and supporting other women writers is just good karma. Also, I’d just read a bunch of heavy novels, many of which took place in the Interwar period – the span of years between World War I and World War II. I wanted something light, and fun, and if it was a little bit salacious, so much the better.

What I got was a wonderful novel that’s really two stories in one. In one story, author Susan is settling into her life in huge farmhouse in a quiet village, and starting a new career as a fiction writer, while also opening herself to the possibility of a new relationship. She’s funny, and smart, and what I love about her is that she’s not twenty. (As someone who is also a couple of decades beyond twenty, reading about protagonists who are closer to my age, even if we don’t share the same experiences, is immensely gratifying.)

I also love that she has a dog. I work in dog rescue, and have three of my own (plus a foster-dog, most of the time) so if there’s a dog in a story, I’m much more likely to find that story relevant. Daisy is an adorable addition to an already great novel.

The second story is the novel Susan is writing, about a woman named Jamie who is obviously based in part on Susan. Jamie, too, is looking for love, or at least really good sex. Preferably both.

Both the actual novel, Danger in her Words, and the novel-within-the-novel are technically romantic suspense, and author Barth handled both the romance and the suspense well in both cases. A creepy stalker who trawls the internet for victims is incredibly plausible, but Barth never makes her novel preachy, though her characters are all self-aware, making internal observations when they engage in behavior that’s less than safe.

Similarly, the sex scenes are delicious, keeping the reader in the mood and never straying too far into silliness or too far the other direction into tab-A/slot-B clinicality. (Is that a word? It is now.)

I loved reading this book. I found the characters to be bright, realistic, and appealing, and it made me want to go live in a farmhouse (though, mine would have to be in a town where there actually is a Starbucks).

In fact, there’s only one thing I disliked about this novel, and I’m hesitant to write it, because it’s a personal thing, but I’m going to in the interest of honesty. In some of the sex scenes, the author uses the word ‘dick’ in reference to male anatomy. Now, this is a perfectly appropriate use of the word; it’s just that for me the word ‘dick’ isn’t at all sexy. When I use it, it’s a pejorative, as in Wil Wheaton’s go-to admonishment, “Don’t be a dick.” (For the record, I prefer ‘cock.’ Now you know.)

But that’s a minor thing, and, as I said, it’s my issue, and should in no way imply that Barbara Barth wrote anything other than a wonderful sexy novel that you should all go buy and read right now.

Goes well with homemade fried chicken and sweet tea from a local diner.

This review is part of a blog tour hosted by WOW – Women on Writing via their blog The Muffin. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

Everybody’s Talking About Sisterhood

The Moon Sisters

With the publication of Therese Walsh’s new novel, The Moon Sisters, the lovely folks over at The Muffin are celebrating sisterhood, and when I heard about it, I had to participate, but here’s the thing: I don’t have any biological sisters. I have a step-sister (sort of) and a few sisters-in-law, but I was an only child until I was twelve, and then I inherited a slightly-older step-brother, so the people I consider sisters are my chosen family, more often than not.

One of them, Cathy, is actually my cousin, but she was my “big sister” for most of my life. It was Cathy who spent hours with me, making home movies that we wrote and performed in, baking and cooking and playing with dolls. It was even Cathy who gave me my first bra. Her mother, my own mother’s cousin, shared her birthday with me, and used to call me her birthday girl, so we had a sister-like bond from the time I was born, really, and while our interests have diverged and our politics don’t always align, she’s family, and she is my sister in every way that counts.

Then there’s my friend Alisa. We don’t really talk much these days, interacting mainly via Facebook (she’s incredible at Scramble with Friends), but when we were kids, my mother sliced our hands (nicked, really) open so we could be blood sisters. We didn’t have headdresses like the girls in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but we did have matching t-shirts when we were seven.

More recently, my spiritual sisters have expanded to include my friend Kathy, who was there for me when I had a miscarriage several years ago while my husband was traveling for work, who knows my dogs as well as I do, and who lets me borrow her children and use them as guinea pigs when I do experimental baking. She’s a visual artist, while I play with words, but we have in common the creative spirit.

Does it matter that none of these women are technically related to me? No. In fact, I think the case could be made that all women are sisters at some level, though some of us are closer than others. This is why it drives me crazy when women don’t support each other. No, we all don’t think alike, dress alike, behave alike, but there is far more that unites us than divides us, and I think we should embrace that.

Which brings me to this awesome new novel by Therese Walsh – The Moon Sisters. Here’s a bit about the book:

In The Moon Sisters, her second novel, Therese Walsh wanted to write about one sister’s quest to find will-o’-the-wisp light, which was her mother’s unfulfilled dream. Also called “foolish fires”, these lights are sometimes seen over wetlands and are thought to lead those who follow them to treasure. Despite the promise, they are never captured and sometimes lead to injury or even death for adventurers who follow them. The metaphor of that fire – that some dreams and goals are impossible to reach, and that hope itself may not be innately good – eventually rooted its way into deeper meaning as the Moon sisters tried to come to terms with real-world dreams and hopes, and with each other, in their strange new world.

Olivia and Jazz Moon are polar opposites: one a dreamy synesthete, able to see sounds and smell sights and the other controlling and reality driven. What will happen when they are plunged into 24/7 togetherness and control is not an option? Will they ever be able to see the world through the other’s eyes and confront the things they fear the most? Death. Suicide. The loss of faith and hope. Will they ultimately believe that life is worth living, despite the lack of promise?

The writing of The Moon Sisters was a five year journey and at times author Therese Walsh felt like it was her own “foolish fire”. But remember, some fires are worth the chase!

I haven’t read it yet – though I have it sitting on my to-be-read pile (look for my review on March 20th), but it sounds like a truly fantastic story for anyone who has a little bit of magic left in her soul, or who has shared a secret with a sister, even if she is a sister of the soul, and not one of blood.

Therese Walsh If you want to be among the first to read The Moon Sisters, you can buy it from, on Kindle or as a physical copy. (I love my Kindle, but I miss trading books with my friends when I only read ebooks.)

You can also find out more about the author, herself, by visiting her website: where you can find book club information, a personality quiz based on characters in the novel, and much, much more.

Also, don’t forget to stop by The Muffin and enter to win a copy of The Moon Sisters for yourself. Read it, then pass it along to your own sister. It’s nice to share.