Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 133 - You Say It First by Susan Mallery, Calling the Change by Michelle Diener, Breaking the Admiral by Ella Drake

You Say It First (Happily Inc, #1)You Say It First by Susan Mallery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great start, a wonderful ending and a lot of fun in-between - that is You Say It First, the first book in the Happily Inc. series by Susan Mallery. There are characters from her Fool's Gold series and on is the main male characters in this book. There is a lot of backstory in the first part of the book. It slowed the plot down but everything speeded up after that. I loved the setting, the town and the side characters. Sculptor Nick Mitchell and Pallas Saunders are great characters. Their interaction is spot. Both saying they do not want forever but we know best. Happily, Inc is a nice quirky town with a lot of room for new stories and new characters.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.


Calling The Change (Sky Raiders #2)Calling The Change by Michelle Diener
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I felt like most of Calling the Change was filler for the next book in the series but it still was entertaining. Garek has rescued Taya only to lose her again. This time to someone on their own planet. They still have one sky machine and enemies want both it and Taya. Most of the story follows Garek as he tries to catch up with the people who took Taya. The Sky Raiders are still around and Garek realizes that no one will be safe until they are defeated. That does not happen in this book but the ground is set for Garek and friends to try in book three. Once again I loved how Diener has placed story in an unusual situation. This is a low tech people against aliens who should have the advantage. I really like the contrast. It ramps up the tension and helps keep the story moving at a brisk pace.


Breaking the AdmiralBreaking the Admiral by Ella Drake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Admiral Lucinda Ryan wants a man in her bed and she makes a deal that brings her one. Tay Bronson is the man or should I say the alien Scoriah who agrees to the marriage to keep his family safe. He does not want to give Lucinda what she wants in bed but he bends some when he finds he has an instant daughter. Family is everything to the Scoriah and a daughter is a bonus he did not expect. Turns out there is danger to that daughter and that brings Lucinda and Tay closer together. A interesting plot with some very strong characters. This is a side story in the Space Grit Universe. It can stand alone but is better if you have read the books in the series. I started out not liking Lucinda but she did grow on me as she did on Tay.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Beautiful Mess by John Herrick - Virtual Tour and Giveaway




Beautiful Mess
by John Herrick

John is here today with a guest post located after the excerpt.  
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GENRE:   Mainstream fiction (romantic comedy) -- multigenerational ensemble cast

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BLURB:

A fallen star. Four Los Angeles misfits.
And the Marilyn Monroe you only thought you knew.

Del Corwyn is an aging relic. An actor who advanced from errand boy to Academy Award nominee, Del kept company with the elite of Hollywood’s golden era and shared a close friendship with Marilyn Monroe. Today, however, he faces bankruptcy.

Humiliated, Del is forced to downgrade his lifestyle, sell the home he's long cherished, and fade into a history of forgotten legends—unless he can revive his career. All he needs is one last chance. While searching through memorabilia from his beloved past, Del rediscovers a mysterious envelope, dated 1962, containing an original screenplay by Marilyn Monroe—and proof that she named him its legal guardian.

Del surges to the top of Hollywood’s A-list overnight. But the opportunity to reclaim his fame and fortune brings a choice: Is Del willing to sacrifice newfound love, self-respect and his most cherished friendship to achieve his greatest dream?

A story of warmth, humor and honesty, Beautiful Mess follows one man's journey toward love and relevance where he least expects it—and proves coming-of-age isn't just for the young.


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EXCERPT

Arnie’s cheeks turned rosy as he grinned at Del. A wide, toothy grin. The discoloration of enamel betrayed a long-entrenched penchant for red wine. He rolled the script and slapped it against his palm.

“Do you realize how many people would dry-hump a flagpole to get their hands on this?” exclaimed the agent. “We’re talking history here! Hollywood’s best-kept secret!”

Del felt a bittersweet quiver in his gut but suppressed it. His life was about to become interesting again.

Arnie paged through the screenplay further, scanning the dialogue. Several minutes ticked past. Del savored the silence which, in this case, was the sound of power.

“Have you read this, Del?”

“I have.”

“Pretty deep shit in here. Dark shit, the kind that scares the hell out of you.” Arnie skipped to the screenplay’s midpoint and read some more. “And talk about explicit. The profanity, the sexual content, everything.”

“She made herself vulnerable, no doubt.”

“Damn, Del. This woman must’ve been more fucked up than we thought.”

Del winced. “Arnie, cut it out.”

“Sorry, I forgot you two were pals.” The agent shook his head in an absentminded manner, his mouth hanging open as he read further. “No wonder she didn’t show this to anybody else. Can you imagine how people would have reacted to this in 1962? The film would’ve been X-rated—if ratings had existed back then—and gotten banned from theaters. People would’ve protested outside. This script would’ve ruined Marilyn Monroe’s career.”

“But today—”

“—it’ll resurrect it.”

                                                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Finding Inspiration in the Details

“Where do you get your book ideas?” Readers ask me that question often. For me, the art of crafting a story rests in noticing details other people take for granted. Then, by amplifying them, a writer can illustrate what makes human beings different—or, perhaps, the same.

Here is a list of five places I visit to find inspiration:

1. News Stories

Have you ever been in a traffic accident? If so, you probably thought something like, “If I had left one minute later or earlier, this mess never would have happened.” It would have altered your entire day, right? And think about the chain of events you could have avoided afterward: dealing with insurance companies on both sides. Getting a car repaired. Driving a borrowed or rented car while you waited. The agitation that remained until you could finally say the whole thing was over!

That’s how I find many story ideas. However, instead of using personal experiences, I’ll keep an eye on news stories. I’ll read what happened, then pick one detail and ask, “What would have happened if that detail were different? How would it have changed the entire chain of events?”

If a pilot flies one degree off course, you won’t notice it at takeoff. But circle the globe a few times, and you’ll end up in Antarctica instead of Anaheim!


2. History

People don’t change. People respond; they adapt their external behavior. We share the same emotions with people thousands of years ago. So I’ll look to history. For example, page through the Bible. You’ll find people dealt with fear, insecurity, joy, passion, rejection and everything else under the sun that we do today.

History repeats itself. I never took that adage to heart until I read an American history book, cover to cover, for pleasure, without the pressure of memorizing facts for a test. Almost a thousand pages covering about 400 years, all the way back to the Pilgrims. As a casual observer, I noticed two things:

1) One decision by presidents a century or two ago have ramifications—positive or negative—for us today. How did the federal government became a massive employer? Look to Andrew Jackson, the7th president, hiring a few friends. Give it 200 years and the growth is exponential.

2) Cycles occur. Circumstances may look a lot different today. But oftentimes, the root issues are the same and the results are comparable. They simply manifest differently. Look at today’s disruption in cities, the protests, and you can see the Counterculture movement of the late 1960s repeating itself. And the talk about Russians trying to interfere in our political culture today? In the 1960s, Russian sympathizers infiltrated protest movements to sow discord in American culture. They made floated among unsuspecting college students, befriended them, to incite riots and disrupt the rule of law. So you can ask yourself how an event from 50 years ago might unfold today. Or, for science fiction, how might that cycle occur 100 years into the future?


3. Personal Quirks

Who we are is a blend of our personality and background. None of us spends our life in a symbiotic relationship with another person every second of every day, from childhood into adulthood. Not even identical twins. And what happens in those hours and days apart—the experiences we undergo—blend together unlike anyone else’s experiences. That makes people unpredictable. We base lifestyle and spontaneous decisions on our own quirks.

So in fiction, what happens when a character stumbles across the path of their polar opposite? Or what happens when two similar people lock horns, because they share the same goal but disagree on how to get there? Apply that question to four characters, and the consequences multiply.

A conflict occurs. Does my character fight, which unleashes a chain of events? Or does he flee, which unleashes a different chain of events? That response and the events that follow can hold a reader in suspense—or prove comical!


4. Passion

What ticks you off? That provides a clue about where your passions reside. Unresolved passion can produce anger.

For me, it’s so critical that I invest my heart in what I write. Tapping into a passion facilitates that. It might involve a cultural, spiritual or political issue. Or the issue might hit closer to home, an interpersonal issue, as I notice how one person treats another. When I picture a hurting character and realize how plausible their scenario is in real life, it angers me. If I tell that character’s story, maybe it will soothe somebody’s personal pain.


5. Fear and Insecurity

Fears and insecurities are such rich sources of inspiration. How can I take something we all have, expose it for how common it is (which makes characters relatable), and yet position it in a compelling, unique way (which makes the story intriguing)? Can I use a scenario, character or object to symbolize it? Telling some of my characters’ stories—whether a lead or supporting character—has proven therapeutic for me.

What danger does a character fear most? That can inspire a suspense story along the lines of Michael Crichton or even George Orwell’s 1984. But what if a character fears growing intimate to somebody else? That can inspire a heart-wrenching tale that would make Nicholas Sparks proud—or John Herrick! ;-)

With my novel Beautiful Mess, I combined all five of these inspirational sources. I started with a historical figure, Marilyn Monroe, and the news of her death, then asked questions. I considered her fears and insecurities. I grew passionate about how others mistreated her. Finally, to craft the modern component of the novel, I created an ensemble of characters, each with their own personalities and quirks, set their paths on a collision course…and laughed every day as I watched the chain reaction.

Thanks for letting me stop by! I hope you’ll give Beautiful Mess a read. And feel free to get in touch with me at my website, www.johnherrick.net, or on my socials!




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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A self-described “broken Christian,” John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.
Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his novel-writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers.
The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as “a solid debut novel.” Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed. Publishers Weekly predicted “Herrick will make waves” with his novel Between These Walls.
Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 150,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.
His latest novel, Beautiful Mess, folds the legend of Marilyn Monroe into an ensemble romantic-comedy.
Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. “It was a challenge but also a growth process,” he acknowledges. “But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.”


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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

John Herrick will be awarding a Kindle version of Beautiful Mess, plus free Kindle versions of entire John Herrick backlist to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to visit the other blogs on the tour.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 132 - Seeker by Susan Kearney, Warrior by Cara Bristol, Found Girl by Pauline Baird Jones

SeekerSeeker by Susan Kearney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when you turn on a centuries old machine by accident. That is what Sara, a Martian archeologist, finds out on her first trip to Mars. Waking with a very sexy man is great but the news he brings from the future is not so great. Both Sara and Kendar face a big problem when he travels 300 years into the past. A fun read with a mystery wrapped in a romance.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.


Warrior (Breeder, #3)Warrior by Cara Bristol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anika and Urazi have been featured in the first two book in the series. Now they have their stories. Anika is a very strong female character and that is what gets her into trouble. Urazi is very conflicted about how he feel about this female. The story line has been developing in the first two books and comes to a believable ending with Warrior. This is a planet that needs to change and Anika and Urazi become part of that change. The world building, back story and character development are all very complex and lead to a very readable plot line. A great ending to this three book series.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.


Found Girl (Project Enterprise, #6)Found Girl by Pauline Baird Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Arian Teraz wanted away from her planet before she has to bond. At the last minute she gets her wish and it just lands her in more and more trouble. Enter Hotshot USAF pilot, Captain Jackson “Coop” Cooper and Project Enterprise. That trouble just gets worse as the two have to work together to find a way out of the unexpected trip they take. While some things are solved and Arian and Coop find their HEA the biggest problem is still out there. Look for interesting characters and great world building. The story line is filled with danger and some unanswered mysteries. A good addition to the series. The one thing missing is a lot of the backstory from the first books in the series.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 130 -Love Across the Universe: Twelve Stories of Science Fiction Romance, Various Authors, Last Ship Off Polaris-G by Carol Van Natta, Two Against the Stars by Veronica Scott

Love Across the Universe: Twelve Stories of Science Fiction Romance Set on Intergalactic ShoresLove Across the Universe: Twelve Stories of Science Fiction Romance Set on Intergalactic Shores by Traci Douglass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A nice collection of Science Fiction Romance stories. They are a mix of different types so there should be something for everyone. I found most to be short story length with at least one novella length. A nice way to find new authors and see if you like their writing style. I found all to be very well written with a nice plot leading to romance.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Last Ship Off Polaris-G: A Central Galactic Concordance NovellaLast Ship Off Polaris-G: A Central Galactic Concordance Novella by Carol Van Natta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last Ship off Polaris-G has all the elements needed for a great Science Fiction Romance story. Set in the Galactic Concordance Universe the main female character is hiding her talents and the main male characters has gone it alone because he does not know how to handle his talent. Put them together with an old freighter and the need to escape a certain doom and danger filled with sparks make for a very good plot. I have loved all the Central Galactic Concordance stories. Each provides additional back story and world building with great characters and a unique plot line. A nice fit to the series.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.


Two Against the Stars: The Sectors SF Romance SeriesTwo Against the Stars: The Sectors SF Romance Series by Veronica Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Carialle is another of the females who have the power over others minds and she has just found a way to get free. I love Carialle and her sisters. They all have such power, are so giving and have a strong connection to nature. Marcus Valerian, a wounded Special Forces veteran, is in danger of losing his life and cannot save himself. Carialle puts herself at risk to save him. From there it is a race to stay ahead of the people who threaten them both. This is a fast paced story with tension, danger and romance. With strong character development, additional back story and world building this has everything you could want in a Science Fiction Romance. It is part of the Sectors AF Romance series and can stand alone but the enjoyment is doubled if you have read the previous books in the series.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 130 - Do You Take This Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson, As We Rise: Rogue by Donnielle Tyner, Mikolos by Ruby Lionsdrake

Do You Take This Cowboy?Do You Take This Cowboy? by Vicki Lewis Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With this one we say a sad farewell to the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood series. It started with Cade and Lexie starting to get together and two years later in this final book they get married. The picture Lewis paints of the wedding is moving. Many of the men return for the wedding including Austin Teague who has returned from New Zealand ready to marry and settle down. He even has the bride picked out but she has different ideas. A nice romance to end the series as well as a wedding with the two who were in main characters in the first book.

As We Rise: Rogue (As We Rise Series Book 1)As We Rise: Rogue by Donnielle Tyner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jo Cygni is a very strong character even as she has to fit into a new role as captain of the spaceship CS Kismet after the death of her father. Throw in a need for a well paying cargo and you have the background for Rogue. There is tension, mystery and romance as a part of the plot. Jo has to captain the ship while dealing with a unpleasant surprise and the addition of her lover there to watch over everything she does. The story was a little uneven but had all of the correct elements for a science fiction romance. It does end with part of the problems solved but there are more left up in the air. Book two follows with some of the answers.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.


Mikolos (Star Guardians novella)Mikolos by Ruby Lionsdrake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ruolan the Retriever finds stolen items and is great at her job. What she really wants is to be a Star Guardian but know in her heart it is a difficult if not impossible dream. When she meets several real Star Guardians and volunteers to help them find a stolen item she is close to living her dream. This is a cute story with a lot of action leading to places where Ruolan is the difference between success and failure in recovering the stolen item. There is a romance added into the mix and a big surprise for Ruolan at the end. This is a side story in the Star Guardian series and adds some extra backstory and world building to the series.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 129 - The Old Grey Line by J.A. Dance, In the Cowboy's Arms by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Say Yes to the Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson

The Old Blue Line (Joanna Brady, #15.5)The Old Blue Line by J.A. Jance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A nice novella that gives a look into Butch's past before Joanna. When Butch is framed for murder an unlikely group comes to his rescue. The old blue line is composed of retired cops, attorneys and others who step up to help rescue Butch. A fun story, easy to read or listen to and it gives more backstory to the Joanna Brady mysteries.


In the Cowboy's Arms (Thunder Mountain Brotherhood, #9)In the Cowboy's Arms by Vicki Lewis Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Matt Forrest is the latest Thunder Mountain Brotherhood member to find his HEA. I liked how Vicki has painted a very different picture of each man as they come home to the Thunder Mountain Ranch. Matt has just been set up by a co-star and is not happy about his PR person's reaction. The fun begins from there as Matt gets the support he needs on his return. Gene Lysander handles Matt's PR and when she follows Matt home she learns that the support she gets at Thunder Mountain is something she also needs. A nice story with a great HEA.


Say Yes to the Cowboy (Thunder Mountain Brotherhood)Say Yes to the Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just when you think you cannot depend on anyone you realize that you are wrong. It takes becoming a father to lead Zeke to realize that he really does want a family and he wants it with Tess Irwin. Zeke has always been a loaner at Thunder Mountain. He has taken comfort is being around but has not every made an effort to belong. It was fun seeing him change and accept his place at Thunder Mountain. Another more great story in the series.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 128 - Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, TRident's Forge by Patrick S. Tomlinson, Children of the Divide by Patrick S. Tomlinson

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am very ambivalent about Dark Matter. At time I was really caught up in the story and at other times I found parts to be slow and not really that important to the keeping the story moving. I listed to this as an audio book so I could not skim through the boring parts. Jason was an interesting character and the plot was different from any other I have read. However I could knock holes in part of the plot and had trouble believing other parts. Pick it up and see for yourself who you feel about the premise and the story.


Trident's Forge (Children of a Dead Earth, #2)Trident's Forge by Patrick S. Tomlinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As good as The Ark but different. This starts 3 years after the Ark arrived at their new home. While The Ark was a locked room mystery this is a first contact story with interesting natives and trouble for our main characters. Some humans just cannot seem to stop showing their worst behavior and greed and greed is at the heart of the story. I loved seeing how Bryan and others were operating in their new home. The natives showed some of the same characteristics as humans but did have their own culture. This was a page turner that was hard to put down. A great second book in the series.

My Science Fiction Book Club gave The Ark all thumbs up.


Children of the Divide (Children of a Dead Earth)Children of the Divide by Patrick S. Tomlinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Loved the first two could have snoozed through this one. Eighteen years have passed since characters arrived at their new home. Children have grown up, are rebellious teenagers and have some different ideas and feeling from their parents. This has bombs, kidnapping and acts that could be seen as treason but I just did not care about the action. What I did like was the discovery even though it was an old much used trope. This is book three in the series but the ending lead me to believe that there will be more in the future. Even though I was disappointed by book three I still recommend the series based on how much I liked the first two books.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Lawman's Apache Moon by Debra Holt - Book Blast and Giveaway



THE LAWMAN'S APACHE MOON
by Debra Holt

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GENRE:  Romance

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BLURB:

“No more detours!” That was the promise Angelina Lord made to herself when she accepted a ride from a wedding in Texas, with the best man to her destination in Santa Fe, New Mexico. What could possibly go wrong?

Angelina is focused on one thing–opening a fashion boutique in Santa Fe. What she really doesn’t need is one full-of-himself lawman with his aggravating air of superiority and soul-searing eyes…not to mention heart-stopping kisses…coming to her rescue. If she lets him get too close to the truth, he could bring down the wall she erected around her well-ordered life and her heart.

United States Marshal Jace Blackhawke holds family and traditions as the center of his life. He isn’t part of Angie’s world and she certainly isn’t part of his. Will their differences prove to be too insurmountable in the face of the truth that will not stay silent?

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EXCERPT

At first, Clay remained silent. When Jace was about to prompt him again, he finally began to open up. “A long time ago, I thought I did the right thing. It hurt like hell to do it. Then I did something else that seemed to be the honorable thing. And that went bad, too. I paid for it all for twelve long years. Now, Kaitlyn comes back here because her grandmother needed to see her. I thought I was beyond all the feelings, all the memories and the pain from a dozen years ago. But turns out, I am still the world’s biggest fool. I put my heart out there once again. But I should have known it was too late.” He’d probably left out the more personal details, but what he told Jace was enough to have him shaking his head when Clay finally finished with his departure from the ranch that morning and his arrival at Lou’s Bar.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Debra Holt

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers.  Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).

When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  She read her first romance...Janet Dailey's Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles...and sighs...to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s. 

Debra invites you to visit her website at www.debraholtbooks.com.  She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at debraholtbooks@gmail.com.  Twitter is https://twitter.com/DebraHoltBooks and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DebraHoltBooks. 



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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 

 THE AUTHOR WILL BE GIVING AWAY A: 

$10 Amazon/BN GC

a Rafflecopter giveaway