#Review “I Used to Cry: The Essence of Essence” by E.N. Hardy

I Used to Cry cover

“I Used to Cry: The Essence of Essence”

by E.N. Hardy

Genre: African-American/Coming of Age/Urban

Release Date: July 1, 2017

4/5 Stars!

A powerful story of a young girl who grew up much too fast due in part to her own actions and the actions/inactions of those who should have been guiding and protecting her.

A smart girl, Essence ‘Nikki’ Huggins’ potential to achieve leaps off the page. Unfortunately, her father’s abandonment and mother’s poor relationship choices do serious damage to Nikki’s self-esteem. Add in her issues with her plus-size body-type and Essence is a child looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong ways and places.

One of these ‘wrong’ encounters further diminishes Nikki’s opinion of herself and costs her what could be the love of her life.

Trying to move on, Nikki’s desperate need for attention leads her down some pathways no woman should have to deal with… so watching a child do it was heartbreaking.

Parents aren’t perfect and make their share of mistakes, but I was less than impressed with Nikki’s mom, Esther, and Stacy’s mom.

While Esther had her ‘motherly’ moments, IMHO, she was too self-absorbed in her own drama to properly nurture her own children. Allowing Nikki to smoke weed and drink (and even doing those things with her daughter) was bad enough, but when she offered to fix fourteen-year-old Nikki up with a twenty-seven-year-old man, I was done.

Despite her ongoing setbacks, Nikki is a hard worker and never backs down from a challenge. She refuses to be just another welfare mother. She will not be dictated to. Nikki does want more and that desire leads her to work two jobs and continue her education at night and earn a degree. At times, she would persevere with little or no outside support and accomplish what women twice her age failed to. Nikki is not some weak-minded child willing to perpetuate a stereotype. She is stronger than even she realizes. But Nikki was her own worst enemy and self-sabotaged. Maybe not consciously… but she still did.

None of the men who passed through Nikki’s life were worthy of her. I believe deep inside she knew that. Yet, fueled by her cravings for attention and love, Nikki allowed herself to be abused and used physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially time and time again.

Any sympathy I had for Nikki changed to apathy when after finally reaching adulthood and making positive life changes, her relationship choices didn’t improve. Even when the truth is laid out in front of her, Nikki is slow to end what is probably her most toxic relationship yet.

And that’s why book 1 ends the way it does.

I Used to Cry is well-written, grammatical and editing errors are minor, but there is confusion over Nikki’s last name–Huggins/Hudgins.

I Used to Cry is a journey that has more downs than ups. But there is change and growth, and it’s honest and raw… and a journey worth taking. I recommend it and am looking forward to book 2.


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“Branded Trilogy” by Kat Flannery #BookTour #Giveaway

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Branded Trilogy

Author: Kat Flannery

Genre: Historical / Western / Paranormal Romance

Sizzling ROMANCE, the WILD WEST, and a dash of PARANORMAL make the BRANDED TRILOGY bundle a heart-pounding and satisfying read…


Fate has brought them together, but will a promise tear them apart?

Lakota Honor coverIn the small town of Willow Creek, Colorado, Nora Rushton spends most of her days locked up in her home with a father who resents her and fighting off unwanted marriage proposals from the wealthy Elwood Calhoun. Marked as a witch, Nora must hide her healing powers from those who wish to destroy all the witkowin—crazy women. What she doesn’t know is that a bounty hunter is hot on her trail.

Lakota native Otakatay has an obligation to fulfill. He has been hired to kill the witkowin. In a time when race and difference are a threat and innocence holds no ground, courage, love, and honor will bring Nora and Otakatay together as they fight for their freedom. Will the desire to fulfill his promise drive Otakatay to kill Nora? Or will the kindness he sees in her blue eyes push him to be the man he once was?


Blood CurseFour years after the Blood Curse, Pril of the Peddlers vows to protect her child against the evil men who hunt her. With her clan unaware of the branded girl among them, Pril has to keep the identity of her daughter a secret. When her child is kidnapped, she is forced to ask Merchant runner, Kade Walker, for his help.

Kade Walker needs to find the gypsy child. Blackmailed and pushed beyond his own moral code, he is determined to do whatever it takes. When he comes across the Peddler clan, he is sure the girl is there, however, all hope is lost when the gypsies capture him. Time is running out—until Pril makes him an offer he cannot refuse.

Amidst greed, lust, revenge, and love, Pril will need to trust Kade. But as the evil nears and doubt creeps in, will she discover that the enemy has been standing next to her all along?


Tsura is a Chuvani, and with that comes great power…

Sacred Legacy coverDesperate to escape the memories that haunt her, Tsura Harris returns to Jamestown, the very place her mother forbade her to go. A gifted Chuvani, Tsura has sworn off all magick, thus making her vulnerable to the Renoldi clan, who wish to kill her and take the pendant that is the key to her power.

Red Wolf is hell-bent on living his life on the sea until he runs into Tsura on the docks. His pride wounded from her rejection years before, he hoped to never see her again. But when the evil Corsair, Romulus Black, demands to know where she is, Red Wolf must protect her, as is his duty.

But is duty and honor his only reason, or does Red Wolf still carry a flame of love in his heart? And will Tsura finally discover her destiny?


~ Author Bio ~

Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. She has her Certificate in Freelance and Business Writing.

A member of many writing groups, Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. Kat loves to teach writing classes and give back to other aspiring authors. She volunteers her time at the local library facilitating their writing group. She’s been published in numerous periodicals throughout her career

Her debut novel CHASING CLOVERS has been an Amazon Top 100 Paid bestseller twice. LAKOTA HONOR, BLOOD CURSE, and SACRED LEGACY (Branded Trilogy) are Kat’s three award-winning novels and HAZARDOUS UNIONS is Kat’s first novella. Kat is currently hard at work on her next series, THE MONTGOMERY SISTERS.

Visit Kat at: www.katflannerybooks.com

Find her on Facebook: Kat Flannery, author

Follow her on Twitter: @KatFlannery1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5284914.Kat_Flannery


~ Links ~

Branded TrilogyUniversal Link: https://getbook.at/BrandedTrilogy

Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0759WXWN7

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0759WXWN7



~ R A F F L E C O P T E R ~





“Hunted: A Jonathan Harker Novel” by Christopher Draven #Excerpts

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Hunted coverTitle: Hunted: A Jonathan Harker Novel

Author: Christopher Draven

Genre: Paranormal Thriller / Urban Fantasy

Slinging Spells with Broken Ribs Isn’t Easy

Jonathan Harker, mage and life-long demon hunter, wakes to find himself tied to a chair and severely wounded. His captor, a demon in service to a summoner who wants Harker alive.

Armed with impossibly powerful magic and a gang of demon toughs, the summoner has snared Harker in a deadly trap. Nothing is ever easy, and being new in town has left Harker with few allies. However, with help from a Fortune-Teller named Clover and a self-described “Kitchen Witch” named Momma Dee, Harker fights back.

To prevail, Harker must walk unprepared into a pit of demons and black magic – and come out alive on the other side.

~ Book Excerpts ~

Excerpt 1

 My brain righted itself, and I could pull my thoughts together.

Neither demon seemed to possess magic. Instead, the creatures relied on their strength and speed. There was no matching those physical attributes. To survive, I would need to use a different tactic. Direct confrontation had failed, twice. My next trick was misdirection.

“Tell me,” I said. “How did a low-powered summoner rank high enough to afford two Demon Nobles?”

Both demons, who were whispering to one another across the room, turned to face me.

“You know us,” Cresh said with a tone of surprise. The demon still pressed one hand tightly against his wounded side.

“Yes,” I said.

“You knew and you still entered to battle?”

“To be fair,” I said. “I had no idea who was waiting.”

Cresh huffed a small laugh; Mindal growled.

Well, I thought. I know which one is the smart one.

Excerpt 2

Growing up, Momma Dee was no great beauty. She was an average looking woman with an above average talent for “kitchen and witchen” work. And while mastery in baking was an excellent skill in the real world, it didn’t make the boys at school go wild.

The girl who brought cookies to class was popular while the cookies lasted. Once the final cookie was eaten, the novelty wore off, and the beautiful girl was popular again. Such was the fickleness of boys – and men.

Excerpt 3

A crack of thunder, followed by a wave of warped air, exploded out from my hand – ripping my fingers wide.

The pressure of the trick slammed into Cresh when he was only a few inches away. The counter-force of the magic pushed me back against the wall, threatening to knock me down; but I kept my balance. The drywall behind me fractured and buckled.

Cresh was struck, the force of the power stopping him in mid-air. Ripples of energy warped the air around the demon. The strength of the magic overwhelmed his momentum and held.

Growling in frustration, Cresh waited until the magic, gravity, and his inertia canceled each other out. The force was quickly spent, and natural laws were reinstated. Cresh dropped to the ground, landing with unnatural grace.

The whole exchange did nothing but stop the demon from falling on top of me. Cresh stepped forward, completely unfazed, and reached out to take hold of me.

The familiar sensations of dread, nerves, and fear crept up my spine. I hated the part of me that fell so easily into fright – the human part. I had faced creatures best left unnamed, and every time I felt the fear. A fear I first experienced when confronted with death and eternal damnation.

The sense of impending doom threatened to overwhelm my will. I fought back, channeled my power into a single strike, and unleashed a torrent of magic upon the demon.

And I missed.

~ Author Bio ~

Christopher DravenChristopher Draven has worked as an instructional designer, newspaper journalist, and ghostwriter.

One soggy Monday morning, he committed to leaving behind the soul-stealing work of corporate puppetry and escaped to a meadow where he could concentrate on his passion. Since that fateful day, Christopher has focused on learning the craft of fiction.


Print – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1547126868/

eBook – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071NZC3Z9/


twitter: @writerdraven

email: info@christopherdraven.com