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Book Picks and Pics is your expert source for book reviews, photography tips, travel scenes, and creative inspiration.

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Rise of the Phoenix by Anne Winchell 

★★★★☆ The Rise of the Phoenix is the first book in The Imperial Saga, a fantasy series by Anne Winchell.

Tahirah, and her brother, Khalid, are the only remaining royals after Tamarud is invaded. Tahirah must learn to harness her magical powers, lean on her allies, and claim her destiny.

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Upgrade by Blake Crouch

★★★★☆

Since I reading and loving Dark Matter, I have been a Blake Crouch fan. I love how his sci-fi stories stretch my mind with their scientific theories while pulling on my emotions with an enduring love story. 

Upgrade has elements of this winning formula, which is present in both Dark Matter and Recursion. However, Upgrade is much more technical, especially at the beginning than I remember either of his two previous hits being.

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In Focus

Photo Tips

Shoot More, Show Less

Over the years, I have found a winning formula for quickly getting a stellar shot from every photo shoot, regardless of the conditions or your experience level. My successful photo

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Indie Reviews

Rise of the Phoenix by Anne Winchell 

★★★★☆ The Rise of the Phoenix is the first book in The Imperial Saga, a fantasy series by Anne Winchell.

Tahirah, and her brother, Khalid, are the only remaining royals after Tamarud is invaded. Tahirah must learn to harness her magical powers, lean on her allies, and claim her destiny.

Read More »

Midnight Tales by Raven Kamali

★★★★★ A wonderful, eclectic collection of ten compelling short works, Midnight Tales contains a mix of genres, including mythology, horror, and even a fairytale. The

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Recovering Alice by Catherine Morrison

★★★★☆
Equal parts romance and self-discovery, Recovering Alice tells the story of Alice Patterson’s struggle with alcohol addiction amidst a new relationship. Our main character meets Bob in a bar during a relapse and has to decide whether she can get her life back under control while dating someone new.

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Dystopian Reviews

Heir of Blood and Secrets by Linda Xia

★★★☆☆
This dystopian YA murder mystery is told from the perspective of Scylla Delevan, a 16-year-old daughter of a magistrate in Devovea. Despite their difficult relationship, when Scylla’s father is accused of murder, she goes on a quest to prove his innocence. Her loyalties are challenged and she uncovers a number of secrets along the way.

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Branches by Adam Peter Johnson

★★★★☆
I was drawn to this book because the description compared it to Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, which is one of my all-time favorite books. There are definitely some similarities between the two multiverse novels, but Branches is different enough that it still felt fresh and interesting.

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The Kill Switch by J.E. Clarkson

★★★★☆
Clarkson keeps the adrenaline pumping in The Kill Switch, the third installment in her dystopian, techno-thriller series. The short, action-filled chapters keep the suspense high as the nameless main character known only as The Cleaner and her allies continue to fight against the evils of Stella and Nemo & Co. 

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Take Flight

Travel Scene

Airlie Gardens

If you’ve followed my photography for more than a few days, you’ll know that flowers are one of my favorite subjects. This year, to help feed my flower photography passion,

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Science Fiction Reviews

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

★★★★☆

Since I reading and loving Dark Matter, I have been a Blake Crouch fan. I love how his sci-fi stories stretch my mind with their scientific theories while pulling on my emotions with an enduring love story. 

Upgrade has elements of this winning formula, which is present in both Dark Matter and Recursion. However, Upgrade is much more technical, especially at the beginning than I remember either of his two previous hits being.

Read More »

The Heathback Break by J.E. Clarkson

★★★★★
This installment in the Nemo & Co. series takes us to a prison, where The Cleaner has been captured. The Cleaner undergoes her most significant transformation to date through the course of this story.

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The Dark Cygnet Files

★★★★☆
The fourth installment in the Nemo & Company series, this book delves into The Cleaner’s family history. I liked that we learn more about The Cleaner and other characters in the series. In this book, we get some answers. Or, at least we think we do, as I’m never quite sure with this series what’s reality or what I’ll discover later was only a mirage.

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Mental Health Reviews

Group by Christie Tate

★★☆☆☆
Everybody has a story and this book is Christie Tate’s story. The top-ranked law student in her class, Tate was as lonely and depressed as she was smart and successful.

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