Book Review & Free Book Offer: A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories by Clare Flynn

A Fine Pair of Shoes and other storiesMy thoughts:

Award Winning Author Clare Flynn writes a collection of nine short-stories. She shares with her readers’ tales of the past to the modern day. It is not often I review short-stories, so I was delighted to agree to this project. I enjoy how Clare cleverly weaves these intriguing short tales. I’d have to say the first two stories and the story about two people’s trip to The Great Exhibition of 1851 are my favorite and I would love for her to expand of the character’s lives with a possible novel or maybe further short stories. One can only hope. What brings even more value to two of the stories in this collection is Flynn’s family history-or based on I should say. You get a glimpse into her family and find charming, heart-felt and extraordinary people.

In the last two chapters, Flynn shares with us the first two chapters of her upcoming novel, The Chalky Sea. My review for that powerful story will come soon.

Overall I have rated this collection of art four stars while giving a few of them a three-star rating. The overall presentation of the book was superbly done starting with the book cover and title. I hope to see more short-stories like this from the author and look forward to reading The Chalky Sea!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

You can download A Fine Pair of Shoes by Clare Flynn HERE now through June 30th.

About Author:

Clare Flynn

Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. Her books often deal with characters who are displaced – forced out of their comfortable lives and familiar surroundings. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature.

Born in Liverpool she is the eldest of five children. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels and Sydney, she ran her own consulting business for 15 years and now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea.

When not writing and reading, Clare loves to paint with watercolours and grabs any available opportunity to travel – sometimes under the guise of research.

Author links




Amazon Author Page


Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Books

Cover Crush: The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.


The Lioness of MoroccoIndependent-minded Sibylla Spencer feels trapped in nineteenth-century London, where her strong will and progressive views have rendered her unmarriageable. Still single at twenty-three, she is treated like a child and feels stifled in her controlling father’s house.

When Benjamin Hopkins, an ambitious employee of her father’s trading company, shows an interest in her, she realizes marriage is her only chance to escape. As Benjamin’s rising career whisks them both away to exotic Morocco, Sibylla is at last a citizen of the world, reveling in her newfound freedom by striking her first business deals, befriending locals…and falling in love for the first time with a charismatic and handsome Frenchman.

But Benjamin’s lust for money and influence draws him into dark dealings, pulling him ever further from Sibylla and their two young sons. When he’s arrested on horrible charges, the fate of Sibylla’s family rests on her shoulders, as she must decide whether she’ll leave him to his fate or help him fight for his life.

My thoughts:

I find this book cover, striking. I love the colors and the backdrop-if you will-and how the woman’s eyes draw you into her world. I am also intrigued with the title and premise. I will be reading this book very soon.


Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!


Interview with Award Winning Author Vicky Adin

Vicky Adin BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Vicky Adin today. Vicky is captivated by the 19th Century pioneers who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life in New Zealand. The women especially, needed strength of mind as well as body to survive, let alone flourish in a strange, new land. As a genealogist in love with history, these immigrants and their ancestors drive her stories.

Vicky lives in Auckland, New Zealand. She holds a Master degree with Honours in English and Education. Three words sum up her passion in life: family, history and language. She has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together, inspired by real people, with real experiences in a way that makes the past come alive.

When not writing you will find her reading historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories, caravanning or cruising with her husband, or spending time with her children and grandchildren. She also likes walking and gardening.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I first heard about IndieBRAG through author Linda Gillard as several of her books have won this award. I was impressed with her books, so I went searching to find the criteria hoping that my novels might qualify. I was delighted to find they did.

Linda Gillard’s B.R.A.G. Medallions

Please tell me about your book, The Girl from County Clare.

The Girl From County Clare new cover BRAG

Although Brigid loves her home and family, she is torn. If she stays, she is another mouth to feed in a land plagued by starvation and poverty. If she leaves, she will never see any of them again. Heartbroken, Brigid boards the ship that will take her to a new life in Australia.

Brigid must learn to conquer her fears and overcome the stigma of being a servant, a female and Irish if she is to fulfill her dream. A new start in New Zealand offers hope – until the day the man who seeks her downfall finds her.


This story is loosely based on the true story of my husband’s maternal great-grandmother. I’m a genealogist and while researching her history I realised she had a fantastic story to tell. First, there was the long journey by one of the first steam/sail ships to Australia. On board, she meets new people and learns a lot about how they behave. She endures shipboard life, survives the storms and arrives in Brisbane stronger for the experience. Then she learns about life in Queensland and what people expected in a harsh new landscape, followed by a move to New Zealand where life is more egalitarian and forgiving.

I had to get inventive and give Brigid a useful occupation which provided both opportunity and hope. In real life, she was a domestic servant with little excitement in her every day routines, but the basic facts of her story and the actual events that happened during that time form the background to this novel.

What is one challenges of bigotry that Brigid faces?

Being poor, Irish and Catholic were all marks against girls in the 19th century. Proving yourself as good as the next and better than some took determination and spirit, all of which Brigid had in bucket loads.

In an endeaour to populate Queensland faster, The Domestic Servant scheme was introduced and many young poor Irish took the opportunity to escape starvation and search for a new life. It wasn’t always better.

Having a skill set Brigid apart, and Irish lace is famous for its intricacies and beauty.

What are her strengths?

Brigid’s skill as a lace-maker attracts the attention in the first place. Everyone wants a piece of lace that is made just for them, but her innate good nature is what draws people to her overall. Her ability to relate to people and her moral inner strength and determination means people lean on her. She never lets them down.

What inspired you to write a story during the 19th Century?

That period is significant in history because New Zealand is such a young country. Settlers didn’t start arriving until the 1840’s and by the 1850’s the European population still only stood at around 28000. After the Land Wars with the Maori in the 1860’s immigrants began to arrive in their thousands. The period between 1880 and the turn of the century was, in essence, the birth of a new nation. There are hundreds of fascinating stories of those times that are worth sharing.

What made you choose New Zealand where she sets up a home. 

Because it’s true, but she didn’t live in Auckland. She lived in the Taranaki region – and because I live in New Zealand. This country is stunningly beautiful with an absorbing evolution. The people who came here came of their own free will in search of a better life. They worked hard, and developed a ‘can do’ attitude long before such a thing was heard of or became popular. They made do with what they had and developed something from nothing and by doing that often became world leaders in new ideas. I believe that history should be kept alive.

What is some of the research that went into writing this story? 

 I spend a lot of time reading old newspapers. They provide an incredible insight into what happened, what people thought about those events and how they coped when things didn’t go according to plan. They would be my number one source, although I do use the Archives, online resources and the library when I want to back up my knowledge. My family history research also tells me a lot about how people lived. Old photos show what the houses and people looked like and what they wore, and the country is filled with amateur historians willing to share their knowledge.

How long did it take to write this book and what was your process? 

It takes me about a year to write a book, although many of the original ideas have been festering for a long while. Again, family history research brings up occupations most people know little about – an artist’s model, an author, Brigid is a lace-maker. My only male protagonist is a soldier who becomes a pacifist. In my current novel, Gwenna, she is a sugar boiler. I usually have to explain what a sugar boiler is. She makes sweets and creates a confectionery business.

I gather some facts that include a few unusual twists and turns and start to write. As I write, I research that what I’m describing is relevant and available at that time. I read the newspapers and include events that happened around that time which my characters could have been involved in – and if they weren’t involved, they would have known about it. I build a real life based on real events around the bones of real people. The love, they laugh, they cry, they grieve and they leave something of themselves behind at the end of every story.

Where can readers buy your book? 


Author links:






indieBRAG Profile Page

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Vicky Adin who is the author of, The Girl from County Clare, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Girl from County Clare, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


Award Winning Book: A Song for Bellafortuna by Vincent B. LoCoco

me-iiAs you all are aware of this summer I am selecting award winning books from the indieBRAG Library read add to my reading pile and to feature on Layered Pages. Today I have selected A Song for Bellafortuna. As an avid historical fiction reader and a love for history this story looks right up my alley! It you would like to purchase this story, click on the title and it will take you to the indieBRAG where you will see the buying links.

IndieBRAG’s mission is to discover talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. Their primary focus is fiction across a wide range of genres; however, they selectively consider non-fiction books.

Authors, if you feel your book can meet indieBRAG’s high standards, they encourage you to nominate it, but they cannot make any guarantees that it will pass either the initial screening or the subsequent review by their readers. On average, only 10-15% of the books they consider are awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion and are presented on their website and promoted on various social media sites. Conversely, they do not make public the titles of any books or the names of their authors that have been reviewed but were not selected to receive a B.R.A.G. Medallion.

This award is an honor indeed!

A Song for Bellafortuna IIIA Song for Bellafortuna by Vincent LoCoco


The beautiful, yet secluded, hilltop village of Bellafortuna, Sicily, is a great producer of wine and olive oil. The entire village prospers. However, after the arrival of the Vasaio family, production dwindles and the villagers soon find themselves in crushing debt to the Vasaios. Only the Sanguinetti family remains outside the control of the Vasaios, but the reason haunts Antonio Sanguinetti every day of his life, and he offers financial and emotional support to his fellow villagers. When Antonio’s only son, Giuseppe, discovers his family’s past, he becomes determined to take on the Vasaios and remove them from power. Led by the young Giuseppe, a plan is hatched that could result in either complete freedom for the villagers, or if it fails, forever solidify the Vasaios’ control.

Find out what happens in A Song for Bellafortuna.

About Vincent LoCoco


Award winning and bestselling author, Vincent B. “Chip” LoCoco, lives in New Orleans. His first novel, Tempesta’s Dream – A Story of Love, Friendship and Opera, became an Amazon bestselling novel and was awarded the 2014 Pinnacle Achievement Award in Historical Fiction. Amazon also has named his book as a Top Rated Novel in Italian Historical Fiction.

His most recent novel, A Song for Bellafortuna, was shortlisted in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Competition and was named a Best Reads for 2015. He is an estate planning attorney in New Orleans, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Author Website


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Do you love to read and would like to be part of a reading group who selects B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees?

If you are an avid bookworm, we invite you to become part of the indieBRAG B.R.A.G. Medallion global reader team. In this program, you’ll tell us a bit about yourself and the genres you enjoy reading. We’ll then provide you with digital versions of self-published books (ebooks), using the gifting process at or, and ask for your honest evaluation.

Your evaluation will be combined with those from other readers who read the same book, to help us determine if that author will be awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion, which has become a recognized mark of excellence within the self-published book industry.

To apply you must be eighteen years of age or older, and have at least graduated from high school. You must also have an ebook reader, or be able to download ebooks onto your computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you meet these requirements and would like to apply, please fill out the form below. We will give your application prompt attention and respond to you within two weeks.

Become a reader HERE

Enjoy your week and happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins


Cover Crush: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.


People of the BookInspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called “a tour de force”by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics.

My thoughts:

I’m not quite sure how the cover relates to the story, but nonetheless, this cover really stands out to me. I find the title appealing as well and the premise. I am definitely moving this one up on my reading-list.


Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Erin’s latest cover crush HERE

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!


Interview with Award Winning Author Loren Walker

Loren Walker - six

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Loren Walker today. Loren is originally from Ontario, Canada, Loren Walker now works and lives in Rhode Island. She earned a Master of Arts in Literature, focus in poetry, from Rhode Island College. Her poems have appeared in QU Journal, the West
Texas Literary Review, and the anthologies Routes and Frequency Writers City and Sea. In 2016, she dove into the world of publishing through her company Octopus & Elephant Books. Her debut publication, the fantasy-sci-fi novel EKO, was a BRAG Medallion Honoree, shortlisted for the Half the World Global Literari Award, and was selected as a Shelf Unbound 2016 Notable Indie.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I learned about indieBRAG online, while researching award competitions that were open to self-publishing work. It was one of the first competitions I submitted EKO to, and I’m glad I found it!

Please tell me about your book, EKO.

The story follows Sydel, a medical apprentice with psychic abilities (called EKO), and a trio of estranged siblings, Phaira, Cohen and Renzo, who are tasked with the girl’s protection, and then her rescue, from malevolent forces. EKO is what I call “tech fantasy,” in that it takes places on another world, Osha, but there’s flying ships and other technology, plus fast-paced action, a little detective work, sibling rivalry, and a touch of romance. As one of the six siblings, I’ve always been drawn to stories that delve into the natural drama between brothers and sisters. I’m also a big advocate for the promotion of complex female protagonists in genre fiction; I want to see strong women who aren’t just tough and serious, but also funny, sexy, silly, and human, and I strove to create then in EKO. Overall, EKP will appeal to fans of paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction, comic books and anime, world-building, fast-paced action, and psychic phenomena.

What was the inspiration of your premise and how did you come to write fantasy?

I’ve written stories since I was a little girl: fairies and space battles and superheroes, very fantastical. But when I went to university and started creative writing classes, genre fiction wasn’t considered to be “real writing,” and was deeply discouraged. I was young and impressionable; I felt ashamed of my love of SSF, and didn’t write anything but poetry for many years. I am happy to say, though, that I’ve since realized that I adore fantasy and science-fiction. I love to write it, and its’ not “lesser” to me or millions of others out there. As far as inspiration for EKO, while sifting through screenplays, stories and sketchbooks from high school and college, I began to pull out characters and ideas that still resonated. I thought it be interesting to mash all these different ideas together in a single setting and see what happened in the course of a short story. But the ideas kept coming, and I fell in love with these reborn characters, and a novel (and sequel) were developed over the course of a year.


Tell me about your main character’s strengths and weaknesses.

There are two main characters in EKO: Sydel and Phaira. Both appears as total opposites; Sydel is small, shy, naïve to the world, while Phaira is tall, powerful, and the warrior among her siblings. But Sydel is unwavering in her beliefs; she may look traditionally feminine and not so strong, but she holds herself to high morals, and she never, ever backs down from them. Ever! She’s a real pain at times, but she will always do what is good and what is right, no matter the cost, and in many ways, she’s the toughest of them all. And Phaira: I’m proud of her layers, how she’s this brash ex-soldier/special ops expert who bickers with her brothers, struggles with addictive behavior, but she can also be warm, joking, protective, and vulnerable.

How did you decide on the title for your book?

Originally, when this was going to be a standalone book, the tentative title was Mobius Loop, in reference to patterns repeating, same old mistakes, which is a major theme in the story. But everything changed as the story progressed, and it seemed natural to title the books after the “abilities” that characters in this story possess, instead. There are four ‘powers’ (and four books) in this series: Eko, Nadi, Insynn…and I’m not saying that the fourth is yet. That will be revealed soon!

Who designed your book cover?

Deranged Doctor Designs do all my book covers. They’re fast, inexpensive, and easy to work with. Special shout outs to my girls Kim and Darja!

How much time did you take to write this story and what was your process?

The first draft of EKO took a year; editing EKO took two more, because I was still sorting out this world I’d created, and solidifying details.

Now that I know the world and my people, the process is quicker. And my process is snippets of time at a computer, writing ideas in a notebook, thinking about story-lines while I’m driving. It’s whenever I can get a spare moment. I work several different jobs. I have a young son, and finding the time to do any of this is always a challenge. But I always try to do something to move forward every day, even if it’s just thinking about the storyline and where I want to go with it.

Have you written other books? What are you currently working on now?

EKO was the first book I ever finished. The sequel, NADI, was released in March 2017, and the third book in the series, INSYNN, will be out in September 2017. The fourth and final book of the series will be released in March 2018; I’m =finishing the final draft now. I’m also releasing a poetry chapbook, DISLOCATION, a compilation of poems and illustrations about traveling in Japan with my mother. I workshop actively on WATTpad.

Where can readers buy your book, EKO?

Barnes and Noble
Barrington Books Retold 
Books on the Square

Other links:

Official Website
Twitter Handle: lorenwalker99
Instagram: lorenwalkerauthor
Wattpad Profile
Goodreads Profile 

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Loren Walker who is the author of, EKO, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, EKO, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.