Top 20 Favourite #Books of 2018 #AmReading #FridayReads

The end of 2018 is approaching fast and it’s ‘favourite books of the year’ time again!  I enjoy looking back at books I’ve read and audios I’ve listened to, although choosing ones for the list never gets any easier. So in no particular order, here are some of my favourites.

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Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home and the dog dies by Barb Taub #Humour @barbtaub #Memoir #Relationships

Author: Barb Taub

Published: 1st February by Amazon

Category: Humour, Memoir, Essays, Parents, Kids, Relationships

ONCE UPON A TIME…

Chapter 1. A California girl named Barb met her prince of a guy. He was tall, dark, and handsome. (Actually, he was a Republican. But he was definitely tall.) They fell in love, and got married.

Chapter 2. He brought her to his castle in England and they lived happily ever after.  THE END**

**Luckily, 35+ years of living happened between Chapters 1 and 2, giving Barb plenty of material for this collection (in no particular chronological order) from her newspaper columns, articles, blog posts, and that time she killed Mom.

And that’s before Chapter 3 even starts.

“I have learned to put down the coffee and place breakable objects at a safe distance when a post from Barb Taub comes up. It is very hard to drink coffee and laugh at the same time without redecorating the desk…”—author Sue Vincent

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Do Not Wash Hands In Plates ~ by @barbtaub #Travel #Memoir #Humour

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

I knew I would enjoy this, having read the hilarious posts on Barb’s blog during her travels. I wasn’t wrong. It’s a quick, but very funny, read at less than 100 pages and was published in January 2016. Continue reading

Top Reads of 2016 #Books #AmReading #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s that time again! This year has gone so quickly and it’s been filled with really great reads. Narrowing down favourites is a difficult task but here they are. As always, they’ll be either 4.5* or 5* and clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon UK. 

28111823Dead Is Dead ~ Thriller

Private investigator Jack Bertolino, previously an inspector with the NYPD, is employed as technical advisor, consulting on a movie being made of his last case. His job includes protection for the female star, who is being targeted by a disturbed, out of control stalker. Susan Blake is beautiful, haunted by a past that she can’t lay to rest.

During filming there’s an actual shooting several blocks away, which results in the accidental and tragic death of little Maria Sanchez and also that of known drug dealer, Tomas Vegas. Cruz Feinberg, the technical wizard in Jack’s company, knows the Sanchez family and asks Jack to make some enquiries. As Jack’s investigation progresses the Dirk brothers’ names pop up too often for Jack’s liking and his ingrained cop’s instinct is on high alert.  Continue reading

Hurry! Round Trip Fare is only $.99 TODAY! Kindle Countdown price rises until 31 Aug. #SciFi #Fantasy #Bargain

Barb Taub

SALE!

For a VERY limited time**, Amazon has reduced Round Trip Fare from $4.99 to $.99! You can get your very own copy here at this amazing price.

SALE!Click on image for previews, reviews, and buy links from Amazon!

**As part of the Kindle Countdown, today’s price is $0.99. But that price will increase each day over the promotion until it’s back at the regular $4.99 after 31 August.

[My apologies in advance to readers and followers: apparently ‘real’ writers do all this publicity stuff. Lots. Although I basically suck at that, I’m going to spend the next couple of days tweeting and posting about this special countdown promotion that Amazon Kindle is running before I return this blog to it’s regularly-scheduled random confusion. Sorry about that.]

Reviewers are saying:

Round Trip Fare RWA Contest Finalist 2015“A detailed and complex plot lends itself to lots of fast paced action. Add humorous dialogue, super heroines, hunky men – with tattoos –…

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50% off ROUND TRIP FARE by @barbtaub PLUS win designer bracelet! #UrbanFantasy

Barb Taub

SALE! Coupon for half-off regular ROUND TRIP FARE price from Smashwords**.

Warden Carey Parker’s to-do list is already long enough: find her brother and sister, rescue her roommate, save Null City, and castrate her ex-boyfriend. Preferably with a dull-edged garden tool. A rusty one.

RTF Smashwords coupon

(**If you’re a Kindle reader, or want to read ebooks on just about any other device including your computer, you can still take advantage of the sale with super-easy file conversion by Calibre.)


AND A SPECIAL OFFER:

You could win this gorgeous bracelet by designer Liz Kecso. Incorporating the themes of Round Trip Fare, it will go to one lucky reader. For a chance to win, just “LIKE” the Null City page on Facebook and/or send email to barbtaub (at) gmail (dot) com BEFORE 12 June, 2016.

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Reviewers are saying:

Round_Trip_Fare-Barb_Taub-500x800“…once you enter Barb Taub’s world of urban fantasy where superpowers sometimes just suck, angels aren’t always…

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More Favourite Opening Lines 2016 #Books #amreading #SundayBlogShare

It’s all on twelve months since I first wrote about my favourite opening lines, so I reckon I’ve read enough books to warrant another selection. So in no particular order, here they are. Clicking on the book title will take you to my review if you’d like more info.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

15932273Mabel had known there would be silence. That was the point, after all. No infants cooing or wailing. No neighbour children playfully hollering down the lane. No pad of small feet on wooden stairs worn smooth by generations, or clackety-clack of toys along the kitchen floor. All those sounds of her failure and regret would be left behind, and in their place there would be silence.

Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker

21863524The Miami I knew wasn’t all G-strings and mojitos. We were undercover, working our way up the stairs of a parking garage in the Latin Quarter, minutes from a cocaine exchange, with no backup. We’d been trying to get to whoever was up there for two weeks and needed to make arrests. I’d be damned if we were going to let them walk away just because there hadn’t been a chance to call it in. Continue reading

Round Trip Fare (Null City #4) by @barbtaub #UrbanFantasy #FridayReads

  • Round_Trip_Fare-Barb_Taub-500x800Author: Barb Taub
  • Released: April 2016 by Hartwood Publishing
  • Category: Urban Fantasy
  • five-stars

Is it wrong that shooting people is just so much easier than making decisions? Carey wonders—and not for the first time. But the Agency claims this will be an easy one. A quick pickup of a missing teen and she won’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably. 

Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the powers of her warrior gift and fight a war she can’t win, in a world where she never learned how to lose. 

The story begins in 2002 when sixteen year old twins Carey and Connor Parker are being supervised and protected by their guardian, Harry Daniels. They were entrusted to his care by their older sister, Gaby, when she left on a mission to help end the secret Nonwars between Heaven and Hell. Continue reading

Released Today! ROUND TRIP FARE by @barbtaub #NewRelease

If Urban Fantasy is your thing, you’ll love this series.

Barb Taub

I’m so excited to announce that Round Trip Fare is now live!

**Although a sequel to Book 1 (One Way Fare), this is the stand alone story of twins Carey and Connor Parker.


Round Trip Fare
by Barb Taub

Round_Trip_Fare-Barb_Taub-1563x2500 Click on image for special preview and buy links from Amazon

Is it wrong that shooting people is just so much easier than making decisions? Carey wonders— and not for the first time. But the Agency claims this will be an easy one. A quick pickup of a missing teen and she won’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably.

Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the…

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#Interview with Barb Taub @barbtaub & Excerpt from her #newrelease #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m very pleased to welcome Barb Taub, a firm favourite in the world of writing and blogging.

Barb pix 300 dpiIn halcyon days BC (before children), Barb wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered towards the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled Aussie Dog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them traveling around the world, plus consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

That’s some bio, Barb. Anything you can add? And you kind of answered the next part of my question which was going to be, what do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? But maybe you could elaborate 🙂

I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. Although I was a journalist when younger, and had a syndicated humor column in several American newspapers, the financial realities of raising four kids who had unrealistic expectations — they thought they should eat EVERY day, sleep in actual beds, and wear clothes—meant that I spent many years on the Dark Side (HR professional). You can’t believe how much money employers are willing to pay you to fire people.  Continue reading

FREE! Award-Winning #UrbanFantasy ONE WAY FARE #SundayBlogShare

Barb Taub

As a special intro to upcoming release ROUND TRIP FARE, I’m offering readers a copy of award-winning ONE WAY FARE (Null City Series Book 1) absolutely free!

barb_taub_null_city_500x800 (1)

ONE WAY FARE, Null City Book 1

It would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Superpowers suck. If you just want to live a normal life, Null City is only a Metro ride away. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, become parents, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes.

ONE WAY FARE: readers' choice Fantasy/SciFi winner of Golden Rose for 2015 ONE WAY FARE: readers’ choice Fantasy/SciFi Golden Rose winner for 2015

Null City is the only sanctuary for Gaby Parker and Leila Rice, two young women confronting cataclysmic forces waging an unseen war between Heaven and Hell. Gaby and her younger brother and sister are already targets in the war that cost their parents’ lives.

Meanwhile…

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Do Not Wash Hands In Plates ~ by @barbtaub #Travel #Memoir #Humour #SundayBlogShare

  • PlatesAuthor: Barb Taub
  • Photography: Jayalakshmi Ayyer/Janine Smith
  • Category: Travel, Memoir, Humour
  • five-stars

Once upon the Land Before Time (or at least before mobile phones), my two best friends and I decided to leave the US from separate locations and meet up in Europe. To everyone’s shock, Janine, Jaya and I pulled it off—mostly because we went to Luxembourg, a country so small the odds in favor of chance street encounters were almost 100%, but also because Jaya was carrying the BS, a blue suitcase so enormous it took up approximately a third of the country’s square footage and was visible on satellite images. We couldn’t possibly miss.

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Barb, Janine and Jaya decided to arrange another get together and chose to meet in India. Barb was travelling from Scotland, Janine from Washington DC and Jaya, who lives in India, would meet them at the airport. A recipe for disaster? But no, they hooked up without too many problems. There follows a hilarious account of an Indian trip of a lifetime, which includes delicious food, wonderful attractions, food, temples, more food, Dehli belly, Indian medicines, lots of food and death-defying driving, to spotlight just a few features. You’ll notice food is the most predominant. As Barb explains ‘I was in India, and it could only mean one thing. Soon it would be time to eat again.’ Continue reading

ANNOUNCING winners and runners-up in the 2015 Rosie Amber Golden Rose Book Awards #TuesdayBookBlog

Congratulations to all!

Rosie Amber

Plain Golden Rose

Welcome to the Official Awards Ceremony of the 2015 Rosie Amber #RBRT Book Awards. We had almost one thousand votes. A Huge thank you to all the nominees and their supporters.

Here Are The Results

Congratulations!

2015 Rosie Amber Book Award

Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Winner of the Golden Rose is

Winner Fantasy Sci Fi

Barb Taub with One Way Fare

Barb and one way Fare

  

Runner-up and receiver of the Silver Rose is

Silver Fantasy

John Privilege with The American Policeman

John and The American

 

 

 

 

Congratulations!

2015 Rosie Amber Book Award

Mystery and Thriller

Winner of the Golden Rose is

Winner Mystery Thriller

Rose Edmunds with Concealment

Rose and concealment

 

Runner-up and receiver of the Silver Rose is

Silver Mystery

Robert Leigh with Any Man Joe

Robert and Any man

 

Congratulations!

2015 Rosie Amber Book Award

Contemporary

Winner of the Golden Rose is

Winner Contemporary

Mark Barry with The Night Porter

Mark Barry Night Porter

 

Runner-up and receiver of the Silver Rose is

Silver Contemporary

Terry Tyler with Last Child

Terry and Last Child

 

 

Congratulations!

2015 Rosie Amber Book…

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Coffee with Barb & Cathy Ryan ~Character Development from Readers’ vs Writers’ Perspective

Thanks so much for inviting me over, Barb 🙂

Barb Taub

Memorable characters: writers may create them, but readers give them life

Book reviewer and blogger Cathy Ryan from Between the Lines bookblog Book reviewer and blogger Cathy Ryan from Between the Lines bookblog

My guest blogger today is Cathy Ryan, well-known for her entertaining and insightful reviews over at Between the Lines. Cathy brings us a unique blend of perspectives, as she talks about developing memorable characters from the viewpoints of a sophisticated reader as well as two very different writers.

Three may be a crowd, but there’s still plenty of room for you to grab your favorite beverage and join us over here near the fire. Welcome Cathy!


coffee with BarbWhat readers look for in character development— and how two different writers deliver it.

Guest post by Cathy Ryan

with special guests—authors Sarah Cradit & Mark Berry

DroppingBy-28Today I’m dropping by Barb Taub’s wonderful blog. Thanks so much for inviting me, Barb. You’re a very tough act to follow, but here goes…

There’s no…

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2014 ~ Top Books

There have been so many great books this year, it was a very hard choice but, in no particular order, here are my top 12 reads/listens.

  1. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Alternating between the past and present and telling the story of a family drama. After the death of their father, sisters Meredith and Nina struggle to really get to know their seemingly reserved and cold Russian born mother. As the sisters finally begin to discover their mother’s tragic story the three women can reach out to each other and find the bond that ties them together. My review.
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir. Mark Watney is part of a team of astronauts sent to Mars and because of a terrible misunderstanding he is left behind. Completely alone and facing certain death, Mark struggles to survive in a totally alien environment. When the people back at NASA discover Mark is still alive the race is on to rescue him before his supplies run out. My review.
  3. Once Dead by Richard Phillips. The first of three prequels that set up the Rho Agenda trilogy. Jack Gregory is the CIA’s top assassin but when an encounter with a notorious criminal goes wrong Jack is left for dead. On his death-bed Jack is revived by a dark entity and has the choice of being a host to the demon or death. A sci-fi thriller with a supernatural twist. My review.
  4. Swan Loch by Randy Mixter. A really lovely, romantic and touching story that traverses time. Swan Loch is a peaceful New England town until a killer strikes. Police Chief Chris Hayward and FBI agent Jake Stanton try to solve a seemingly impossible case and for Chris it becomes very personal. Just when all hope is lost Chris finds the most precious thing in his life. A touch of the paranormal in this mystery thriller. My review.
  5. The Black Hours by Alison Williams. A chilling tale of life during the time of the self-styled Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he travels the country seeking out those he believes are in league with Satan. Seventeen year old Alice Pendle finds herself under suspicion in a tale of persecution and superstition. A suspenseful and gripping drama which mixes fact with fiction. My review
  6. Beyond Midnight ~ Asunder by Sarah M Cradit. Part of the paranormal Southern drama series, The House of Crimson and Clover, Asunder finds the Deschanel family reeling with the backlash of shock and horror brought on by the results of a two hundred year old curse. Hope brings them together to face whatever the future may hold. My review.
  7. Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler. A uniquely different concept and delivery with characters that parallel the life and times of Henry VIII and his wives in a modern day setting. Harry Lanchester’s dream of becoming a rock star is shattered with the death of his older brother and as Harry steps up to take the reins of the family business his life takes on an uncanny resemblance to the famous erstwhile King of England. My review.
  8. The Test by John Lansing. Although I’m loving the Jack Bertolino series, this short story is so touching and evocative, with incredibly vivid imagery and beautiful writing that it had to make this list. From the present day Jack Morgan looks back on his teenage years, being a fourteen year old growing up in the Long Island of the 1960s amid the racial tensions of the time and how it affects the rest of his life. My review.
  9. Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius. Frank Barnes, a homeless veteran, is content living on the streets and making the most of the little he has. Chloe Barnes is evicted and left destitute with two small children and finds life in shelters harsh and unforgiving. The two lives are interlinked and brought together in a compelling storyline. My review
  10. Don’t Touch (Null City #2) by Barb Taub. Lette Simoneau inherits a drastic form of the family ‘gift’ or curse as Lette thinks of it. Everything she touches each day turns into something different. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to the conclusion that boundaries are self-imposed  and as such are surmountable. An imaginative and fun story with a likeable protagonist. My review.
  11. Disappearing In Plain Sight by Francis Guenette. A very well crafted novel centred on the very tight knit community of Crater Lake on the shores of Vancouver Island. The characters are all genuine and the way they deal with their feelings and situations is very believable and show the complex layers which make up human nature. My review.
  12. Passing Through Perfect by Bette Lee Crosby. Book three of the Wyattsville series is set at the end of the Second World War as Benjamin Church returns to Alabama. A powerful and moving tale of the prejudices and intolerance of the time, showing the good and bad sides of human nature regardless of skin colour. My review.

And my top 5 series.

  1. Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey. This is a supernatural urban fantasy series which really caught my imagination with a very unlikely hero – or anti-hero would probably best describe James Stark, half angel, half human. Stark’s return from 11 years in hell, bent on revenge is a sharp, hilarious and sardonic tale. MacLeod Andrews portrays Stark and a multitude of diverse characters perfectly. Audiobooks 1-3.5.  Audiobooks 4-6
  2. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. An Urban Fantasy series featuring Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, who lives in Arizona and runs an occult bookstore. Atticus draws his power from the earth through the Druidic tattoos on his arms. He is able to shape shift and enjoys hunting with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. A fun series full of myths, legends, gods, goddess, witches and demons. Superb performance by Luke Daniels, with distinct voices for each character. My reviews 1-3, 4-6, 7
  3. The Project Eden Series by Brett Battles. This is a really compelling storyline. As Daniel Ash’s world crashes down around him he’s catapulted into a nightmare scenario. He can’t comprehend the fact that what happened is no accident. And there is worse, much worse to come as a deadly organisation plots the end of humanity as we know it. MacLeod Andrews delivers a flawless narration. My reviews.
  4. The Georgie Connolly Series by E.L. Lindley. Georgie Connolly is a transplanted English woman living and working in Los Angeles. Feisty and very often landing herself in hot water, Georgie acts on the spur of the moment, without thinking things through.  A change from the norm, Georgie is not connected to law enforcement but makes documentaries, no matter how serious the subject. A fun and easy series but with dangerous undertones. My reviews #1 #2
  5. The Black Series by Russell Blake. Artemus Black is a Hollywood P.I. Down on his luck, with money problems, anger issues and an assistant who ridicules him endlessly and a fat cat that hates him. Life couldn’t get much worse. A great characterisation of an easy to like protagonist with a cast of memorable, humorous characters and excellent and witty story lines. My reviews #1, #2, #3, #4

 

Are you owned by a rescue pet?

Barb Taub is…as am I. Please take a few minutes to read Barb’s holiday appeal and take her up on a great offer for some fantastic stories. My reviews for Barb’s stories can be found further down the post. Thank you in advance.

Krampus and St. Nicholas visit a Viennese home in 1896 [photo credit: public domain]

Christmas in Austria is not for the faint hearted. While a familiar St. Nicholas does make the rounds, in many Germanic traditions he’s accompanied by a terrifying beast called the Krampus whose job is to punish – and even take away – naughty children. With his curling horns, long red tongue, and tail, the Krampus is enough to chill any heart. [Krampus and St. Nicholas visit a Viennese home in 1896 photo credit: public domain]

As the villain of Don’t Touch, the Krampus is a monster who literally feasts on the fear and terror he inspires in children. The demon who threatens Stefan and Lette is a cornered beast, an anachronism whose ever-diminishing influence only makes him more desperately dangerous.

The other inspiration for this story is the image of Rapunzel. But in Don’t Touch, Lette isn’t the helpless girl awaiting rescue by her prince. Instead, I go back to the origins of the folk story in sources such as Giambattista Basile’s Tale of Tales from 1616, where she is actually the hero who rescues herself and her children, and then saves her lover. Like her earliest predecessors, Lette is a tough, self-reliant young woman who tells her would-be prince, “If I need rescuing, I’ll do it myself.” 

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by St. Nicholas' legendary dark shadow, the Krampus, who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by St. Nicholas’ legendary dark shadow, the Krampus, who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

My final message in Don’t Touch is that we build our own towers. They can provide safety; they can even be gorgeous and appealing, but if they keep us from truly living our lives or cut us off from others, they are still our prisons. I think that’s one of the things I love the most about the holiday season. No matter how often we hear them, those messages of peace and goodwill just keep reminding us of our connections to each other. More sophisticated folk can turn up noses at the consumerism and the crowds, but I believe the reason we all come back for more every year is that basic gift of hope and belief.

It’s that belief that inspires my holiday appeal to you. In most of my stories, an animal companion plays a prominent role—from George, the grumpy cat in Don’t Touch to Bygul, the bitchy feline goddess of Payback is a Witch. My own life has been immeasurably enriched by my dog Peri who came from a shelter in eastern Washington State, and by the friends (feline, canine, and the occasional rodent) rescued by the dedicated members of many shelters.Cat and dog

In thanks, therefore, I will donate all royalties on sales between now and January 1, 2015 from Don’t Touch as well as the newly released set (Payback is a Witch and Just For The Spell Of It) to the following wonderful organizations:

  • USA: No Kill Advocacy Center. Headed up by Nathan Winograd, the No Kill Advocacy Center movement is revolutionizing shelters across America.
  • United Kingdom: DogsTrust. Active since 1891, this no-kill shelter rehomed almost 15,000 dogs last year.

As a special incentive, both Don’t Touch and the brand new release set, Tales From Null City (containing Payback is a Witch and Just For The Spell Of It), will be listed at the sale price of $0.99 in the USA, and £0.77 in the UK.

Both make wonderful holiday reads, while at the same time supporting the work of the no-kill shelter movement. Please help ensure that animals are not left unsheltered during the very difficult winter months to come. To help, please order a book by selecting one of the following links:

My review for Don’t Touch can be found here and my review for the first book in the series One Way Fare can be found here.

Barb is offering a giveaway and a random tweet will be chosen which mentions any of the following – @barbtaub @CathyRy #NullCity #Don’tTouch #Payback #Spell


Claire Danielsen is a young witch whose goddess is house cat of unusual size. Peter Oshiro is a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who... aren't. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Claire Danielsen is a young witch whose goddess is house cat of unusual size. Peter Oshiro is a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who… aren’t. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Liam is an ungodly soccer-playing card sharp on a mission from God. Eirie is a beautiful punk fairy princess with her own daytime radio talk show. They’ve worked cases for the Accords Agency before, but with war between realms looming and her baby sister as the bargaining chip, partnering just got personal.

Liam is an ungodly soccer-playing card sharp on a mission from God. Eirie is a beautiful punk fairy princess with her own daytime radio talk show. They’ve worked cases for the Accords Agency before, but with war between realms looming and her baby sister as the bargaining chip, partnering just got personal.

PayBack Is A Witch

Claire Danielson, the last Danielson witch, is facing a big problem. Actually, two problems. Not only has Director Jeffers from the Accords Agency given orders for a Warden to tail Claire, a man from her past who she walked away from six years ago. Now, after spending time together, she doesn’t think she’ll have the strength to resist Peter Oshiro again. But Jeffers doesn’t want to lose another of his top Wardens so Peter is on guard duty whether they like it or not. 

Bygul, the goddess who Claire has been trained from birth to protect, and who was one of the giant cats who pulled the Goddess Freya’s chariot, has alerted Claire to the dangerous barghests in the woods outside her home. They have been trying endlessly to gain possession of Bygul’s power but without success. And to make matters worse there is demon who wants to acquire control over Claire’s mind.

Claire’s spells are not yet long-lasting and she’s unable to channel Bygul directly. She will need all her skills to outwit the demon.

Just For The Spell Of It

Eirie and Liam work for the Accords Agency and when they are charged with finding a missing football player, his girlfriend and baby daughter it gets too close to home for Eirie. The girlfriend looks just like her mother. But how can that be when Eirie has believed for years that her mother was killed? And does that make the missing child her sister and the second in line to the throne of Tír na nÓg?

One of the four ancient treasures, gifts of the goddess Danu to her people, the Tuatha Dé Danann, has also gone missing. If the child and the treasure are not returned the threat of an armed force is imminent. Liam and Eirie have a weeks grace before the attack begins.

Two wonderfully entertaining and imaginative additions to the Null City series and, as with all the stories, a fun look at distinct and unusual worlds people by great characters.

About Barb

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In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

Contact Barb: blog | twitter | facebook

Excerpt: Payback is a Witch

As Claire boiled water and set out two teacups, she had plenty to say to herself. There was a lot about what a bad idea it was to remember his arms around her, the taste of his kiss, that heart-stomping smile. Hell, a little over ten years ago their families were still trying to kill each other. For the last six of those years, she’d done her best to remember what she owed Nana and Bygul. And she’d done her damnedest to forget the look on his face when she turned and walked away.

Through the screen door, she could see him staring at something near the porch swing, just outside her line of sight. She had a bad feeling she knew what that something was. “Do you still take your tea without sugar?”

“You remembered.” He didn’t turn around, but she felt his smile anyway. “You live here alone?”

“Yes, unless you’ve turned into a twisted psycho stalker. In that case, I have several large homicidal brothers. And the world’s meanest cat.”

“Witches don’t have brothers. But I see what you mean about the cat.”

A purr, definitely amused this time, rubbed against the back of her brain. Damn it, Bygul. You stay out of sight for a thousand years, but you can’t stay off the porch for one afternoon? Sighing, she filled a small dish with tuna and placed it on a low table at the end of the kitchen. Why can’t some goddesses mind their own business? With a twist of lemon for her own tea, she set both cups onto a tray. Sniffing an open package of cookies that had been around a while, she dumped them onto the tray with a shrug. Before she reached the door, he turned and held it open, took the tray from her, and put it onto the little table between the rocking chair and the old porch swing.

“You’re a witch, right? So is she your familiar?” He pointed to the porch swing and the silver-gray feline posed regally across its sofa-length cushion. “I never knew a cat could get that big.”

“She isn’t my cat. She goes with the house and especially the woods.” Claire understood his surprise. You just don’t see a lot of house cats the size of Labradors. “I suppose you might say I’m her staff.” She took a seat next to the cat, who stretched and sat up, wrapping a tail thicker than Claire’s arm around her front paws. “Best we can tell, she’s a Norwegian Forest Cat. They get pretty big, but yeah. She’s big even for that. We call her Bygul.”

“Bee-gool?”

“In Norse mythology, Bygul was one of the giant cats who pulled the Goddess Freya’s chariot. Some said they were goddesses in their own right.” Bygul yawned and her eyes closed halfway. “Minor goddesses, of course…” The giant cat’s eyes snapped open, and she jumped off the porch with a noticeable thump.

“Didn’t the Egyptians worship cats too?”

Bygul growled.

Claire laughed. “Bygul pulled a war chariot and fought alongside Valkyries. Those Egyptian pussies couldn’t fight their way across a coffee shop.” Tail held high, Bygul waited for Claire to open the kitchen door before stalking inside to the tuna offering. As Peter lifted his tea from the tray, he smiled again. She sat back too quickly and her own tea sloshed over the rim. Dear goddess, that smile.

Excerpt: Just For The Spell Of It

“And how does an ex-fairy princess end up an Agency operative and part-time radio host?” Liam might have been amused, but his face was, as always, impassive.

“Pretty much the same way an ex-world champion soccer star becomes a teetotaler card sharp who runs errands for a former priest.” She shrugged and turned back to Dr. Tom. “What aren’t you telling us?”

Dr. Tom hesitated then seemed to reach a decision. “I think your mother did die. But we’ve discovered that when she was trying to get pregnant with you, she visited a specialized clinic in California. A clinic that froze several of her fertilized eggs. Ten months ago the last three viable eggs were supposedly stolen from the clinic. Last week a young woman who served as professional surrogate was found dead. Autopsy suggests that she had recently given birth.”

Eirie looked at him blankly.

“I think the baby is your sister. And the real problem is that not only is the baby missing, but one of the four Treasures has also disappeared.”

“Which one?”

“I’m not sure. Now your father’s advisors say if the infant and the Treasure aren’t returned to Tír na nÓg, the king will send an armed force to recover it.”

Liam sat up. “What Treasures?”

“There are four of them, the ancient gifts of the Goddess Danu to her people, the Tuatha Dé Danann.” She counted off on her fingers. “The Lia Fáil, a stone that supposedly names the King of Ireland. The Spear of Lug that guarantees you’ll win all battles, the Sword of Núadu that allows no escape once it’s been drawn, and the Cauldron of the Dagda, which is never empty.” She frowned. “But there’s not much demand these days for naming a King of Ireland, and even enchanted spears and swords aren’t going to be much use against automatic weapons.” The frown gave way to a snort. “And after the fae ‘warriors’ have been sitting on their fairy arses for a thousand years, I imagine our biggest danger is being forced to eat the prehistoric slop the Cauldron serves up.”

Dr. Tom looked at her. Folded his hands. Waited.

She sighed. “Right. Find Matias León and the baby. I’m on it. Liam?”

He nodded and picked up the folder. “I assume this has the info on the dead surrogate and the clinic?”

Dr. Tom nodded. “The Tuatha Dé gave us one week before their force arrives.” He stood and moved to the door. “Good luck.” As the door swung behind him, Eirie thought she saw him shaking his head.

Liam waited until the door closed. “Eirie?”

She stared at her teacup. “A sister.” With her hood again covering her bright hair and her “work-clothes”—strategically ripped gray hoodie, tulle-puffed skirt, bright striped leggings stuffed into chunky blue Doc Martens—she seemed little more than a child herself. Then she lifted exotically tilted lavender eyes to his, and something ancient, not-quite-human looked out. “She’ll need someone to tell her about our family…and make sure she has toys…and how to use her magic…and put on makeup…and hear about her first boyfriend who will, of course, be all wrong for her…and…someone to keep her safe.” Carefully, precisely, she placed both hands on the table in front of her. “Well, she has a sister for that.”

There were things he could have said. The teasing, mischievous Liam who found a way to call into her show each week could have said something to make her smile. The self-assured soccer-star Liam could have made a charming, romantic overture. The Liam who had been her partner for the past year said, “We should start with the clinic. Ready?”

She nodded.

Don’t Touch (Null City #2)

  • Don'tTouchAuthor: Barb Taub
  • Published: December 2013 by Hartwood Publishing Group
  • Category: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk
  • five-stars

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. 

Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.

Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

The morning after Lette Simoneau turns thirteen she awakens to find she can feel colours. Weird? Lette thinks so. Not quite the superpowers she might have dreamed of.  It was so bizarre to be able to tell what colour an object is just by touching it. Lette couldn’t see the point of such a lame power, but she didn’t realise this was just the beginning.

As the summer weeks and months pass, the touch as Lette calls it, manifests in different ways and on an ever-increasing number of occasions. Each day’s manifestation is different, Lette could be turning objects into gold one day, or cupcakes or sandwiches another day, and sometimes into much more dangerous things. 

I love the interaction between Lette and George, her mother’s evil cat. Eventually the inevitable happens and Lette inadvertently touches George with hilarious consequences. 

The book is written in journal entries and through this we get to know, like and sympathise with Lette and, as one disaster follows another, she decides living alone is her only option. Despite this less than satisfactory way of life Lette copes with her situation very well. She’s a strong protagonist with a great character. 

Some days I can’t believe I’m almost twenty-three, or that I’ve spent the past five years living in my parents’ little mountain cabin. Luckily, it’s close enough that my parents visit most weekends. And money is never a problem because Mom’s friend Eric, who runs a pawn shop off Pioneer Square in Seattle, is always able to take the melted down gold or other valuables I’ve touched and change them to cash with no questions asked.

Sure, there were bad days, but lots of good ones too. I discovered I love working in my garden. But even with heavy gloves over my surgical gloves, gardening is hell on latex. Still, most of the craters from that landline-touch day are now filled with dirt, and it looks like a really good year for my tomatoes. That is, if I can just get them to stay tomatoes and not turn them into small pink bunnies or straw hats or whatever that day’s touch is.

Lette isn’t destined for this kind of life much longer though, as she learns of a place where she could live normally. There’s much more to life than living as a virtual prisoner and when the opportunity to travel to Null City arises Lette doesn’t think twice. What follows is an amazingly imaginative and innovative adventure with Stefan and Rag, two great central characters. Lette has to make some hard decisions and, at the same time, learns some valuable lessons, on her journey, not least of which is making the best of a sometimes challenging situation.

I love that the villain of the piece is a horrific beast-like creature of folklore, said to be the son of Hel, and is part of a tradition which is centuries old. You just know when you read something written by Barb Taub it’s going to be vividly imaginative and full of humour, fun and excellent writing. This intriguing and engaging story is no exception.