Friday, September 30, 2016

Exit Strategy by L.F. Falconer

In this book, Jonas has been wrongfully arrested for murder.  Seeing no way out, he hops a boat and heads for help from an old friend.

What I love most about Falconer's work is that she's probably the sweetest lady you could meet, but she's not afraid to pull out her dark side when she's writing.  Whether it's her horror or fantasy, I'm always guaranteed to be shocked and pleasantly appalled.

When I first started reading this book, I was really confused.  Where's the Falconer I know and love?  I was greeted with a smarmy character I didn't like and a looooooooot of graphic sex.  We're talking, graphic enough I had to pull my little fan down off the wall.  My goodness!

Then I kept reading, and I started to see the Falconer I love so well.  All of that in the beginning is absolutely necessary to set the tone for the rest of the book.  This is NOT for chilren!  It's NOT for the faint of heart!  But it will sure mess with your mind!

I found myself, once again, completely lost in a world that I didn't understand, not having a clue what was coming around the bend.  I could, didn't want to, escape.  I had to stick it out for the entire ride.  If a train leaves Boston, how far will it make it in the book???

Reading this for me was reminiscent of the first time I watched Identity.  You start watching and you're a little confused because you don't like all of the characters and everything is dull and you're not sure why you're watching, and then all of a sudden..BAM!  Whoa!  It's not even like a light switch turns on, because you have an inkling that you're going ot flip the switch.  It's like you're in the middle of your favorite video game and the power goes out and there's not even a storm to warn you.  All of a sudden you just get what's going on.  And all the pieces are starting to fit together and you're thinking 'Hey!  I like this!'  and then you know what?  BAM! BAM!  You're lost again because all of those pieces you had started to put together have been ripped apart and scattered to the wind and new pieces from an entirely different puzzle have just jumped in to play.  It's a trip!!!  By the end, you finally figure out which puzzle pieces you're using and which puzzle you're trying to put together.  It's hard won and worth the effort!

I can't say this is my favorite Falconer book, but I can say that if Literary Litter was giving out an award for 'Most F'd with My Mind' this book would be winning hands down.  I'd have to call it a psychological suspense, because you don't know if you're own sanity is going to survive the book.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coldheart by Justin Robinson

Coldheart is the first story in this book.  I have a habit of not knowing anything about a book before I pick it up.  Imagine my surprise when I'm halfway through the book and I feel like the story is winding towards the end!  So, the first half of the book is actually the story of Coldheart, and the rest of the book is filled with short stories.  We'll get to those in a bit.

When I was deciding which of Robinson's books to read first, I chose this one because I was guaranteed cannibals.  This guy knows how to get straight to a girl's heart!  What I didn't realize is that cannibals is only such a small part of this story!  Basically, we have this crazy man who's ex-sister-in-law comes up missing.  Is she really missing?  He knows he's had episodes before where he's imagined things.  What he stumbles upon is far more than anything he's hallucinated before.  In a quest for truth and love, he finds himself in a world that only existed in his own nightmares before.

I could say a lot about Robinson's writing, but there's really only one important fact that I need to tell you.  This guy is a detail master!  There's plenty of description, sure, but it doesn't go overboard and it's the right KIND of description.  Everything is vivid and alive.  I was able to hear the huskiness in voices and taste the smog.  I'm truly impressed by this.  Most writers give you too much detail or not enough, they can drone or leave you hanging.  This guy gives you the perfect details to make this a reading experience.

I checked out some of the reviews after reading, and I can see where a few people were confused.  This isn't for everyone.  If you've never seen an episode of Buffy or Supernatural or Charmed or read a comic book, you're going to be left in the dark.  This is cult classic remake stuff.  Don't get me wrong, there's none of the cheesiness, but if you don't know what a wendigo is, then this book is going to feel like a waste of your time and you're going to be confused.  Don't read it and leave a bad review because of it.  Now, for those of you who do realize this is your genre, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the depth here.

After reading every story, I'm impressed.  They all tie in together. Some are more obvious than others, but it's all connected.  It's a sweet little universe.  All together, this is a beautiful puzzle.  If you're not a sci-fi person, you may be confused.  If you are a sci-fi person, I can't imagine you being disappointed.  I loved this enough that I'm adding it on the 'I need a hard copy' list.  I'll also be checking out more of Robinson's work in the hopes that all of his stuff is this great.

Dante Ascending:  A teenage boy wants to join a gang.  In order to do so, he must make it to the 13th floor of the gang's hideout.  The entire story is him deciding to join up and climbing the thirteen floors.

Wait:  OK This one was simply brilliant.  As soon as I started reading, I was reminded of Harold Pinter's The Dumbwaiter.  Talk about a flashback!

This one takes a few of the characters from Coldheart and let's you see some behind the scenes footage with them.  It's a horror version of The Dumbwaiter!!!  I'm so freaking excited!!!

If you haven't read The Dumbwaiter, I'm not going to tell you anything about it because it'll ruin the story!

The Menagerie: In this one, two lovers on a road trip explore a secret tunnel.  I was expecting some Tennessee Williams...and I got a hint of that but I also got a beautiful taste of Percy Jackson and Futurama!  Ok yes, I'm probably seeing connections where there aren't any, but it's great fun!

Dead Drop:  A bored, lonely woman decides to turn spy!

Stillwater: A woman wanders the desert looking for ley lines and ends up in a town that's being ripped apart by monsters.  This one had some great Desperation tones to it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What we're buying today!!

You all know every Wednesday is buying day!  Every week I post and ask for suggestions, and give some of you a chance to pimp your books.  I try to choose one book from this list and the others all go on the 'to buy eventually' list.  The second book I choose is one from the 'to buy eventually' list.  Then the third, I randomly pick and choose something that looks interesting and preferably doesn't have a lot of reviews.  That means that even if, in my hasty choosing, the book sucks, at least I'm not doing it a lot of damage. A bad review is better than no review!

So what did we buy this week??

We're starting off with Bloodmark by Aurora Whittet.  It's the beginning of a trilogy about werewolves.  Alright, it's a lot more involved than that, but I read the first two books and I loved them.  Hopefully, next week someone will remind me to get the third book in the series.  This was in my suggested post because I asked for a reminder to rebuy it.  This will probably be my third hard copy of it.  I keep finding people who I think will love it and giving my copy away.  So, I need to replenish the library!

Next up, we have Pulse of Evil by Phillip Tomasso.  This one was on my 'to buy eventually' list and looked pretty appealing.  Who doesn't love a good psycho?! also promises Catholics and vampires.  This should be a fun ride!  And if it isn't, you know you'll all hear about it!

So the third book I chose this week, is one of those wonderful random finds.  It's called Cannibals in Love by Mike Roberts.  It's promising me to be funny and horrific, and it better deliver.  Everyone that knows me knows how much I adore cannibals!  This might finally be a romance I can sink my teeth into ;)

Meet Mr. Wright by Omar Scott

When notorious gangster Neil Wright got a sudden call late one evening, he never imagined he would be walking into a deadly ambush by a mysterious figure. Clinging to life in intensive care, he meets Sister Simmons. A peculiar nun doing her nightly rounds, praying for the sick and trying to save souls. Through her desperate pleas, she convinces Neil to confess his sins. Figuring he has nothing to lose, Neil decides to confess every dirty little secret. He takes her on a disturbing journey through his tumultuous life filled with murder, forbidden love, and betrayal as he ascends to the top of a criminal empire. But as his confession unfolds, Neil realizes this is no ordinary nun. Is Sister Simmons there to finish the job, or is his true enemy waiting for the right time to strike? Meet Mr. Wright is an intense and captivating narrative with an ending so explosive and clever, you'll never see it coming. (taken from Amazon description)

This is a gritty, dirty, heartfelt story of a man.  The part in the description above, actually only covers the very beginning and end of the book.  All of the stuff in the middle is where the real action is.  We get to travel through Neil's life with him.  We get to see behind the scenes, his thoughts and feelings.  Though his actions aren't what most people would lean towards, in this vast character study, we follow that path that leads him to these actions and  the way that he rationalizes them.

Lots of reviews of this book will tell you that the initial lack of editing was a real distraction.  This is true, but I'm sure that's been fixed by now.

Even though I wasn't in a hurry to jump in and read this book, I was glad that I did.  I'm not really into the whole gangster thing and the whole surprise ending didn't really surprise me.  What did surprise me is the way that I felt myself empathizing with Neil throughout the story.  People are just fascinating and Scott's character creations are top notch.

The Harem Games by Jorge Carreras Jr.

I'll admit, when I first got this book, my staff and I spent hours making fun of it.  Why?  Because we're mean, but funny.  The fact is, the title doesn't say a whole lot about the quality of the contents of the book.

I was expecting to find some cheesy, male fantasy version of Hunger Games.  Most of the men have been eradicated from the earth and now women are in charge.  Every year there's a battle to do the death among men and the winner gets one wish.  Along the way, each man has his harem to help him prepare.  All we're missing is forty pounds of bacon and it's a winner!

That isn't what this book is at all.  This is not 180 pages of 'I have a harem and a pee pee!  Look!'

Actually, our hero, Alex, doesn't even want his harem.  He's against the games.  He's against the hierarchy.  All he wants is to be left alone.  There's actually a pretty intricate story here with surprisingly complex characters.  It has a fast-paced read and plenty of suspense.  I do comment Carreras for boldly stating that this book isn't for children.  It does contain some sex and violence, but it isn't gratuitous.

This really was a pretty well done 'what if' story.  What if mostly women were left on the earth?  Well, it makes sense that each man would have more than one wife.  We'd need to boost the population back up, right?  Given the way that genetics works in the book, it's not as simple as one generation of insemination and we're back to normal.

Though this isn't your typical dystopian, it's nothing like the title would lend you to think.  There's a solid plot, great characters and plenty of good story telling to keep you intrigued.  This book is obviously not for everyone, but don't let the title of it scare you away.

Also, I really like the cute little sims on the cover.  I need one of those dresses.

Order of the Seers The Red Order by Cerece Rennie Murphy

Before I start in on the book, I just have to say that Cerece is a gorgeous lady!  Just looking at her classy, genuine smiling face will make you want to read her work!

This is the second book in the Order of the Seers trilogy.  In this book, we have a group of seers who are supposedly rebels and being hunted by the Guild.  Meanwhile, in the Guild, we have some crazy experiments and evil geniuses.  The Red Order is being created by the guild, which is a team of seers for the bad guys.

So, I had some issues with this book, but they were all user error, not writer error.  Even though this book works fine as a standalone, you don't want to do it that way and I wish I hadn't.  You're quickly brought up to speed on who the characters are and there are allusions to previous happenings, but you don't really need all of the details for those.  The problem I had is that I just didn't care.  Most of the bonding has to happen in the first book, and I haven't read it yet.  While reading the second book, this one, it took me halfway through before I even began to build a bond with any of the characters.  The other issue I had with this as a standalone is that at about page 180 we're introduced to a new character.  I'm hoping this character was introduced in the first book, because if not then it's a major flaw.  This new character is integral in the rest of the book, but we've never heard of him before.  He's a big player, even though his part is small.  Since I haven't read the first book, I don't know if he's a long-running character or if he was just invented to make the ending of this book happen.

Once I did get to the part where I cared about the characters, I actually found myself enjoying it.  The first half of the book, we have a few action-packed suspense scenes and a whole lot of unnecessary science and history.  Then we really start to see who each character is...their nuances.  We start to identify with both sides of the battle going on.  We become entangled in Murphy's world.

Though this isn't a perfect read, it was still satisfying.  Most likely at some point I'll go back and order the rest of the series and reread it.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dead Man by Domino Finn

This is the first book in Finn's Black Magic Outlaw series.  I picked it up on the advice of a friend, and I'm glad I did.

Cisco Suarez is a necromancer that wakes up in a dumpster.  Shortly, he finds out that ten years of his life are missing and he's been presumed dead.  Who killed him and who woke him up??  What happened during the ten missing years?

OK so let's get the bad stuff out of the way first.  There was an annoying amount of predictability here.  In all fairness, it's to be expected being the first book in a series, but it still bothered me.  Most of the book I was busy trotting to keep up, and then I'd get bashed in the head with obviousness and want to smack somebody.  It's easily forgivable and not enough to keep me from trying the second book in the series.

The fun part of this book is that it's like a chase dream.  You know the one, where evil little Chinese dudes that you can't kill (Big Trouble in Little China!!!)  are chasing you and you can't kill them.  There's a bull chasing you that wants to taste your spleen.  You're running down railroad tracks and an evil Thomas the Tank Engine needs to flatten you.  That's what most of this book is.  It's action action action!  Short breath!  Action action action!  It makes it a quick and fun read, but at the same time it's a little exhausting.  Towards the second half of the book, I couldn't even enjoy the little breathing breaks because I knew something bad was about to go down.

When I first started reading, I was concerned that the amount of action would detract from the story line, but it really doesn't.  In the breathing time, you get just enough of the story to keep you interested and wanting more.  I still would prefer a better ration of breathing to action, but I'm not complaining.  I do hope it'll even out a little more as the series continues.

Though I had a few minor concerns, this was a pretty good read and I'm glad I picked it up.  There's plenty of action with a few nicely unique characters.  We have just the right amount of drama and back-stabbing.  I'm adding the next book in the series, Shadow Play, to my 'to order eventually' list.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Help! My kid won't read!

I have two children, and I tried the same parenting approach with both.  I'm an avid reader, as you already know, and I wanted my children to share this love.  Reading is so important for development, critical thinking skills as well as a good imagination.  People  need to be able to read signs, and nutrition information, legal documents, subtitles, all sorts of things!  Learning a love of reading early on can change a child's life.

Scenario with child number one:
Pick child up and put on my lap.  "Let Mommy read you a story!"
I open the book, his eyes fill with wonder and he begins to point and attempt to ask questions.
BOOM!  Book love established.  In fact, the first word he spoke was 'book.'

Scenario with child number two:
Pick child up and put on my lap.  "Let Mommy read you a story!"
Child yanks book out of my hand, takes a huge bite, chews and swallows.  Hops down off my lap, runs to a corner to sit and eat the rest of the book.

Now, you may think I'm making this up.  Nope.  Same parenting, drastically different results.  In child number two's defense, he has PICA.  Books are food, not brain food.

But reading is still important!  So how did we overcome this obstacle?

1.  We let him choose what he wanted to read.  Sure, non-fiction and fiction are both essential.  But the most important part is teaching a love of reading, and you can add other genres in later.  For mine, he loves trains.  Train books became a staple.  Another child I know loves dinosaurs.  Give a child something they're interested in to read first.  The rest can come later.

2.  Make sure they see you read.  Even on the days they hate you, you're still their hero and number one role model.  Let them see you reading and enjoying it.  Positive examples!

3.  Don't force.  Do you remember how much you hated cleaning your room as a kid?  The more you were nagged to do it, the more you hated it?  Being forced to do something will never nurture a love for that thing.  Be patient!

4.  Work on cognitive skills.  There's no point in reading a book if you don't understand it.  If you're reading with your child, be sure to ask questions.  When the child realizes they have an understanding of what they're reading, they'll be more inclined to do it.

5.  Praise, praise, praise!  If you catch your child with a book, even if they're just building a tower, let them know you're pleased!

6.  Be creative!!  My little guy has severe separation anxiety.  Every morning before school I write him a letter.  We started out with one paragraph, double-spaced.  Now, I'm writing a full page of single spaced paragraphs to him, and in letter format!  We're about to progress on to a second page.  He reads it every day at school, sometimes more than once.  It helps with his separation anxiety, but it's also great reading practice.  This won't necessarily work for your child.  Get creative!  Where can you insert reading into your child's life?

Of course, the list for helping cultivate a love of reading in a child is vast and endless, but these are the ones that I've found that have really helped us.  Keep in mind that all children are different.  Child number one and I share books like most people share germs.  Child number two and I share books like most people share dirty underwear.  That's not supposed to be often.  I assume it's not often.  If it is, then I apologize to you dirty underwear sharers.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A bonus purchase this week!

I've known James since...since the dark times.  We've been friends since before he became a respected spoken word artist, poet and author.  He'll always have a place in my heart and on my bookshelf.  Everything he writes goes right beside my beloved copy of Robert Frost.

Buying this book was a no-brainer for me.  I'm not a big poetry person.  I'm just not.  James though, has a way of reaching through the fact that it's poetry and pulling at your emotions.  If you get the chance, hit him up on Facebook and ask him about the cheeseburger poem.

If you have interest in buying this book, if poetry is your thing or you're already a Blaylock fan, contact him on Facebook.  You can buy it online, but for the exact same price, he'll personally autograph your book and mail it to you.  Not to mention, he's a heck of a nice guy :)

I'm excited! :) Don't throw away books :(

Today I get to be part of something awesome!!

I remember a few years ago, my older son came to me rather upset.  At the end of the year, his school librarian was throwing books away.  In the trash.  He was heartbroken over this.  Luckily, he was able to talk her into letting him save most of them.

Flash forward to now and my younger son is in elementary school.  His school librarian is an entirely different sort of creature.  I can't tell you how many times I've caught her lovingly taping the spines of books back together.  You see, there are limited funds for ordering new books for the school library.  She still firmly believes that a book can change a child's life.  She believes in the power of the written word.  She is a hero.

Now, I review children's books from time to time.  I don't keep any of them.  Both of my children have their own personal libraries, and to be honest, I don't need children's books in mine.  Every child's book I review is donated.

This may seem like a rather haphazard post, but there's a point.  I'm excited!  I read Phil Tomasso's Sounds of Silence about a month ago. My brain started immediately jumping to all of the people who would love to read it.  We live in a special needs friendly area.  Highly special needs friendly.  I've picked up a couple copies of this book to donate.  I'm excited because today I get to drop off a fresh, beautiful copy to my son's school library!  Considering that this book is about a child who suddenly becomes deaf, and how he and those in his life learn to cope, I just know the kids at my son's school are going to devour it.  It feels amazing to be able to take part in sharing books!

I'm begging you...please don't throw books away.  Donate them.  Ask your local school librarian if she'll take donations.  I know at our school, she doesn't care what kind of shape they're in.  She'll find a loving home for them even if she can't use them in the school library.  Go to your local church and ask if you can donate them.  Go to your local community service shelter and ask if you can donate them.  Find a child in the street that looks bored and hand them over.

Vengeance is Mine by Harry James Krebs

Written by Carrie Anne-

Driven by a traumatic, violent event in his teenage years, Benjamin Tucker, a true crime author and amateur detective, is obsessed with solving crimes near his home turf of Holly Springs, North Carolina. When a series of decapitated female victims is found in neighboring communities, he is helplessly drawn in to the investigation. The hunt for the killer becomes personal and Tucker isn’t sure if he’s become the killer’s idol or his next victim. (from Amazon)
I loved this book.  Told entirely from Tucker's point of view, we truly never know what the killer is going to do next.  And sometimes what he does next will shock you!  Along the way, we find out the killer and Tucker bear an uncanny resemblance to one another, and that takes the story in an unexpected direction.  The final showdown with the killer seemed a little too neat, but it was unlike any I've ever read. 
The book is fast paced, even when the story line takes us to Tucker's home and his life with his new wife, their daughters, and housekeeper.  You would think that home life would be boring and out of place in a thriller, but it seems to be just what we need to fully understand and relate to Tucker, and appreciate the situation he is in.  There's just the right amount of levity in the story, too, both in Tucker's personality and his relationship with his family.  I have to say, Oscar, the family dachshund, with two legs shorter than the others, is a particular favorite of mine!
Unfortunately, for as much as we want to root for Tucker and his new life, he makes a few decisions that make this difficult for me. Maybe the lapses in judgment are just to show how human he is or how the stress of hunting for the killer is getting to him.  Either way, they were distracting for me and disappointing.
All in all, if there was another book available now, I'd read it in a heartbeat.  I'd like to see if any of the odd, nagging thoughts I have are resolved, but mostly I want to read more about Tucker and his life.  Hopefully, we can find out more about his past, and the events that shaped his future.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Case of Section 950, Seat E-14 by Jimmy Martin

I.  Just.  Can't.

I read through Chapter Ten.  I cannot continue.  I can't force myself.  I can't bribe myself with chocolate.  Cannot.  It's not even that I'm not willing to.  It's the fact that if I read one more word of this book, I'm going to set it on fire.  With my laser eyes.  Which I don't have.  So, in order to read more I'd have to go find a doctor willing to give me laser eyes.  Hence, Cannot.

So, let's be clear.  There is probably a niche market out there for this book.  I don't know where it is, but I'm sure it exists.

Let's get the good stuff out of the way first!  Martin has a great capacity for story telling!  His story is brisk-paced and he does a great job of creating characters vividly without having to devote a lot of detail to doing so.  Should he decide to write something that I don't hate, I could see myself not hating it.  Martin has talent and potential.

What the hell man?  This is the most sexist book I've ever read.  By chapter ten, we have two female characters.  One's a flight-nurse.  Oh look!  The best of both worlds!  Flight attendant and nurse!  The other is a stupid billy goat of a whore.  'Oh look!  He's been shot!  I better go to the lingerie store and buy a cheerleader outfit so we can have sex even though I just picked him up in a bar yesterday!'

Let's move on to the male characters!  Football.  Lots and lots of football.  When we don't have football, we have snipers and military and clothes-lining kids on bicycles and whorey sex.

Now, I don't really even care about the chauvinistic attitudes in the book.  I don't even care so much about the rampant sex and violence and football that makes absolutely no sense.  What I do care about is that there's no substance to these characters.  There could possibly have been a plot hidden in here, but I can't stand these people enough to continue reading to find out.  I hope when they discover what's hidden, it's a bomb and they all blow up.

Now, Jimmy Martin, I apologize if this seems harsh.  Keep in mind, this is my opinion.  As I said before, there's a niche market for this, I'm sure.  If this is your thing, then by all means, please buy this book and be entertained!  It simply wasn't for me!  Mr. Martin, I do believe you have a penchant for storytelling and I hope some day in the future you write something that I can finish reading without having to have laser eyes implanted.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I'm sorry my honesty wasn't more pleasant.

The Secret of Bald Rock Island by Charles A. Salter

Ten-year-old Kelcie Oglethorpe's fisherman father disappeared at sea years ago.  Since then, Kelcie has befriended Bald Rock Island's beloved Mr. Bartleby, a kindly man devoted to the village and its children.  He often warns of a mysterious creature he once saw on the island's bald dome which towers a hundred feet above the sea, yet is hollow inside and connected to sea life by underground channels.

Kelcie decides to help Mr. Bartleby solve the island's two enduring mysteries--what happened to her father, and what the sea creature might be.  She learns that Mr. Bartleby was her father's lifelong best friend.  During that terrible storm off the coast of Maine, Mr. Bartleby risked his own life to do everything possible to save Kelcie's dad, but no sign was ever found.

Kelcie criss-crosses the island in search of clues and thinks she knows where she can find the ultimate answers.  She resolves to explore the forbidden area of the island, and as she puts the final pieces of the puzzle together, a new storm arises.  (taken from the back of the book)

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  It's exactly the sort of thing I would have devoured in third grade.  It has a wonderful amount of suspense and a nice brisk pace.  Even though there are some adult themes, they're dealt with in a child-friendly way.

Salter's storytelling reminds me of the way children's books were written in the 1950's.  It has that wholesome feel to it.  I would be ecstatic to recommend this to any child that loves adventure or mystery.

Vicki Vass Cozy Mystery Giveaway

I've never read Vicki Vass, and if you haven't either, now is the time to find out what she's all about!  Right now she's holding a giveaway contest on her website where you can win four of her books!  Not only that, but signed copies!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries, this might be right up your alley.  I've read a few, but never about antique hunters!  What fun!

If You Were Me and Lived in Egypt by Carole P. Roman

This  has to be my favorite young children's series.  In each book, we discover a different part of the world.  More recently, Roman has added different eras as well.  This series is fabulously entertaining while at the same time giving you a vast look at different cultures.

In this book, we're taken to Egypt.  We learn everything from history to popular names and foods.  There are pronunciation keys to help out with some of the more foreign sounding words, with an extensive pronunciation guide at the back.  There's a colorful map at the very beginning.

Each page has a good solid paragraph.  It's at about the reading level of the average second-grader, but older children will also enjoy the information.  Younger readers would need this read to them, but the pictures will be more than enough to keep them entertained as you take them on a journey far away.

A Sunny Day by Eric Jay Cash

This is such a stinkin' cute book!

In this book, we only have one word, 'water.'  It's set up so that it reminds me of the great two-headed monster from Sesame Street.  'Wa' 'Ter'  You remember?  They start off separate and then move the pieces of the word closer together until it comes together to form one word?  Well that's how this is!  It's the perfect book to start transitioning from pictures to words.

The pictures are bright and colorful.  We have this cave kiddos who are just the happiest and brightest little things!  They make me want to jump into the book and play with them!

For me, the best part is that at the beginning, Cash reminds the kids to talk like cave kiddos while reading the book.  How much fun is that?!  Getting a room full of four year olds together to read this book and watching them pretend to be cavemen?!  What a blast!

Damaged by Tim Marquitz and Timothy Long

Even though these two awesome guys won't kill me in brutal ways, I've pre-ordered this one.  Why?  Because I can't help it!  It's guaranteed to be an awesome read for any horror junkie!  If you know anything about these guys, you know they have rapier sharp wit, brilliant story telling skills and a penchant for the unusual.

Let me tell you a little bit about it!

For decades, the heavy metal band Damaged has brutalized record charts, sold out countless stadiums, and amassed enough money and fame to last ten lifetimes. 

But it hadn’t always been this easy. In the early days in the southern California scene, the band members struggled to make a name for themselves. Just as the bay area thrashers were about to implode, they received the deal of a lifetime. 

An offer from Satan himself. 

Wex, Michael, Seth, and Sunny have all lived like metal gods for years, but the Devil demands his due, and the price of failure may be their souls. 

This book will leave you Damaged.

Okay, I stole the description from Amazon.  But I couldn't have reworded it any better myself!  Doesn't it sound fun?!

You know, guys, it's still not too late to kill me off...a little evisceration?

50 Things Your Kids Don't Want to Tell You by Shelly Campbell-Harley, M.A.ED

This book was created with the idea in mind that most teenagers aren't going to open up to their parents.  The fact is, being a teenager is tough, and telling your parents some things is terrifying.  This book is broken down into chapters regarding different possibilities of things that a teenager can be terrified to tell a parent.  Each page only has one sentence on it.  Each sentence is pretty powerful.  At the end of each chapter is a place for notes.  In my opinion, this book is supposed to be used so that you can go through and imagine your child saying each thing to you, and then take the time to formulate your response.  That way, should your child ever have the bravery to speak any of the lines to you, you'll be prepared enough to answer with a clear head and a warm heart instead of being caught off guard.

My children and I have a bit of a different relationship.  My teenager is nearing his eighteenth birthday.  So, I took the opportunity to sit and go through the book with him.  We used it as a bonding experience.  'Hey!  Remember the time you said that to me!'  We also took the time to discuss how devastating it could be for a kid to talk to a parent about some of the things in the book.

If you have a teenager, there's no such thing as being too prepared.  Even if you've created an environment of safety and trust, it's invariable that there are going to be things your teenager doesn't want to share with you.  If you can be prepared ahead of time to handle situations, you'll be much more able to help your child when they do come to you.  I think this is a great tool to use for preparedness.

Promise of the Black Monks by Robert E. Hirsch

When I'm reading, there are some things that really turn me off.  I'm not a big fan of war, politics, religion or history.  This book is about the time period leaning up to The Crusades.  When I was approached with the standard review deal (free book in exchange for an honest review), why on earth did I accept?  I have no idea, but if you figure me out, please let me know!  I can always use more insight!

With this book being over 500 pages long and about all of my unfavorite things, I thought for sure it was going to be a painful read.  I was expecting to have to force myself through it and then write a review based upon its merits and whether or not someone who does enjoy these things would enjoy the book.

I love when I'm pleasantly surprised!  I devoured this book!  Sure it's full of all those other things.  It's written during a time period of great upheaval.  There are battles and the amount of religious politics are insane!  But you know what I found out?  I adore Robert Hirsch.  Sir, if you're ever in my area of the world, please hit me up and I'll take you out for lunch.

We start off with this amazing character, Peter the Hermit.  He's dirty and loud and opinionated and he doesn't care who he upsets.  He has a direct line to God and it's his job to set things right on earth.  Right out of the gate we fall in love with a character.  I love Peter!  Every scene with him in it captivated my heart!  Is he based on a real person?  Don't know.  Don't care.  Love him!

So what Hirsch has done here, is take a mostly dull period in time (to me, one who doesn't enjoy this sort of thing)  and spin it from a character study point of view.  Our main character is Tristan de Saint Germain, who is just a young boy when we first meet him.  By the end of the book, he's reached the age of eighteen.  We get to see the world through his eyes, as well as the eyes of his mother and a few other characters in the book.  It really brought everything to life by writing it this way.  We don't have boring facts and figures and statistics and dates.  We have very real people who are living in a terrifying time.

Because I couldn't stop reading, I took this book with me to pick up my son from school.  Some days are rougher for him than others, so I always show up early just in case there are issues.  Yesterday, I was sitting in the parking lot reading, awaiting the correct time to go in.  The most horrendous thing happened in the book!  I felt my jaw drop and heard a horrible squeaky voice scream 'NOOOO!"  (I've been sick, not my fault) and then I realized it was me.  Looking up, I saw that the lady next to me was staring at me with her eyebrows raised.  I simply smiled and held the book up.  Now, if that isn't a sales pitch for a book, I don't know what is!

By taking a different route, Hirsch was able to take subjects that normally put me to sleep and make them into something that mesmerized me.  If you're into this sort of thing, it's a must read.  However, even if you aren't, I can't imagine not loving this book.  I've already ordered the next in the series, Hammer of God, and according to my research, there will be three more books in the series.  I will own each and every one and Hirsch is finding a spot on our library bookshelves.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What we're ordering this week!!

Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week!  No matter what's going on in life, I get to do a little book shopping!  I was pretty disappointed that I didn't have any new suggestions this week, but I do have plenty on my 'to buy' list to choose from, so it's not like I'm out of options.

The first book I bought today is one that I hadn't planned on.  It was just released last month, and I didn't even know it existed until today.  I'm currently reading Promise of the Black Monks by Robert Hirsch and I'm blown away by it!  My review will probably be really short because I can't find much fault with it!  So, because I'm so excited about Black Monks, I ordered the sequel, Hammer of God.  I'm pretty sure that as soon as I finish this first book, I'll want to jump as quickly as I can into the next one!

My second choice this week is a bit lighter.  The main reason I chose this one is that I think I may have dated the cover model at some point.  The secondary reason is that I'm hoping it'll be reminiscent of Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez. (Yes!  I have an autographed copy where Martinez doodled for me!  Be jealous!)  Martinez first introduced me to the monster next door.  I have a great love for a beer-swilling, redneck werewolf!  I also love dorks...and in this series, Burtness appears to be promising me the monster next door in dork format...who can resist?!  I'm hoping I like it well enough to pick up the second book, Northwoods Wolfman.  However, since these seem to be the only two books in the series so far, I'm hoping I don't fall dramatically in love with Burtness' work!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Red Eye by K.W. Taylor

I'll admit, I was judging this book by it's cover.  It's dull and lifeless and looking at it, you kind of expect James Bond to be blown from a volcano.  Although that'd be a great book for some people, that's not me.

Instead, I found an amusing and humorous story!  The Red Eye is actually the name of a radio show that Brody runs.  He spends hours every night poking fun at the supernatural.  One night, things begin to change when he realizes that he's being stalked.  Having to go to his ex-wife 'the cop' for help is only the beginning of his troubles.

In all fairness, the book could have done with a bit more editing, but it's barely noticeable.

Most of the book I found myself with my eyebrows quirked and a slight smile on my face.  It isn't laugh out loud funny, but that amusing funny.  I could hang out with this Taylor.  We could spend an entire day at the mall just batting wit back and forth.  It could be a blast!  The story itself is actually pretty predictable.  The characters are where the humor comes in.  That and a small dose of chaos randomly tossed in.

The only real issue I had with this book is that the ending was really annoying.  I'm sorry, but it was just way too predictable.  And corny!  And I like corny jokes!  The cornier the better!  Give me cornbread!  But!  This was not that kind of corny.  It was the 'oh she didn't know how else to end it so she went this route' kind of corny.  The book was definitely a good enough read to suffer through the ending, however.  So don't let that put you off.

If you want something quick and light to read, this could be great for you.  I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of graphic sex and graphic horror.  This would be a great book to read when you're at your in-laws' and doing your best to avoid them.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Seer by Sonia Orin Lyris

A power hungry man comes to a young girl to ask for help with his immediate future.  When she ends up saving his life, he decides that he must own her, no matter the cost.

Let's start with the cover.  We have a girl with x-ray vision (cool!), a mean looking voodoo priestess who's about to bop her on the head, and a red mage in the background who's about to fling a serious ball of something at the priestess.  None of this has anything to do with the book.  It's cool art though, so rip the front cover off and frame it and hang it.  Forget it's affiliated with this book in any way.

This book is over 640 pages, so I've been putting it off.  I don't have an issue with longer books, but since I'm still catching up from over the summer, I wanted to get some of the thinner books finished first.  I was a little curious as to why the book was so long, but I figured that out pretty quickly.  It's a description issue.  Description is important in any book, but this one is pretty confusing.  A character that we love dies and we have one line for her death.  Then we get a two page description about a face lift to a castle room.  The book goes back and forth between characters, but where we could use a bit more description, I was left wanting.  A hundred pages of this book could easily have been hacked out.  It would have made it a much more enjoyable read.

There's one sex scene in the book, so if you're looking at picking this up for a minor, you might think twice.  I don't have issues with sex in books, as long as it's there for a reason...if it's integral to the story for some reason.  In this instance, it was clunky and didn't work.  It was a bad splice.  It felt like the author needed to find a bonding experience between two characters and took the easy way out.  The problem is that it doesn't fit with any facet of the book so you're left just feeling confused.

All of the bad stuff aside, I actually really enjoyed this book!  When I skimmed over the boring description, I found a fun story telling style.  The world makes sense and is built effortlessly.  The characters are flawlessly built and completely fascinating.  Even the background characters are vivid.  If it weren't for the minor issues I had (read previous paragraphs)  I would have thought this was a great read.  There's suspense, adventure, magic and fighting.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What we bought this week!!

Normally, this should have been posted yesterday.  I'm running a little behind, and that's alright :)  Let's take a look at the exciting stuff we have going on!

Earlier this week, thanks to an awesome sale, I bought two copies of a book that I previously read.  One is for donation to a children's special needs facility nearby and the other is for my son's elementary school library.  This book is about a young boy who suddenly becomes ill, and deaf as a result of his illness.  Actually, the book isn't about that at all.  It's about the boy and everyone in his life learning how to cope with the sudden changes.  It's researched well and a wonderful read for anyone.  Instead of talking down, it talks at just the right level.  Now, baseball is a pretty big theme is this book, and I'm not a baseball fan.  It was easy for me to skim right over that part, but a young boy who's into baseball will eat it up!  I'm really thankful that I was able to find a sale so that I could get both donation copies!  Next sale, I'll pick up one for my personal library! :)

Next up, we're ordering Birds in the Air by Frances O'roark Dowell.  This was suggested to us by Tina at Weezy Works. She's an incredibly talented fabric artist, so if you get a chance, check out her page.  Now, the book is basically about how quilting aids in friendship.  I am not a quilter.  I don't have the patience for it.  But!  This book is still pretty appealing to me.  I've read several books in this sort of genre and I always end up having a good group of pretend friends until the book is over.  I'm hoping to fall in love with Dowell's work since I see she has a few other books as well!

Next we have an exciting anthology!  I'm not normally an anthology girl, and I'll be honest, I already have an e-copy of this one.  However!!!  Two of the authors that I 'collect' are in this anthology so I HAVE to have this for my keeper shelves!  HAVE TO!   In fact, I may go back later and buy another one, just so I can keep a copy with each author.  The great thing about anthologies is that you can get a sample of authors you haven't tried.  I do know a couple of the authors in this book are ones that I've heard of but not read, so I'm anxious to see if I have more people to collect.  I could start an author zoo.  Somebody needs to come build me cages.

The most exciting purchase for me this week...FUTURAMA PAPER DOLLS!  OMG!  Because..well...they're paper dolls...and it's Futurama.  Do you have any idea how much fun I'm going to have with this?  Oh yeah...I'll pull out my Wizard of Oz and Action Hero paper dolls and it'll be a party!

OK I still need one more book for free's see....alright.  I feel like just randomly grabbing one last thing to fill in the shipping gap.  So I did a quick Amazon search for sale books, and picked the one with the fewest amount of reviews.  Here's hoping it doesn't suck!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Niveus by Sharon Cramer

This is the third book in the Wintergrave Chronicles, and I was pretty anxious about going in since I haven't read the first two.  Luckily, it worked just fine as a standalone.  There were allusions to matters that happened in previous books, but there wasn't anything necessary to be gleaned from them before reading this one.  I do intend to add the previous novels to my 'to read' list but only because I think I'll really enjoy them.

The book centers around Niveus, who is an albino of upstanding birth.  She also has odd healer powers that make some believe she is a witch.  Though she is protected as much as can be in her realm, she also is the object of desire for one horrible tyrant who will stop at nothing to possess her and her powers.

What struck me most is the storytelling ability of Cramer. There's something ethereal and calming about it.  Even in the midst of battle, you find yourself watching the scene unfold as if you were melted among the clouds.  I haven't been able to pinpoint just how she did this, but even with the ugliness happening, it still reads like a Thomas Kinkade painting.  Smooth.  Calming.  Enchanting.

Each character is striking in their uniqueness.  It took me a bit to figure them out, but mainly because there are so many of them.  There's also a bit of time jumping near the beginning of the book that threw me off.  I think if I'd have read the other two books first, I wouldn't have had any trouble at all with the characters and time skips.

This was an absolutely beautiful read.  Though normally, the way things are tied up in the end would have ticked me off, the storytelling and my love for the characters led me to root for things to end the way they did.  I felt such satisfaction at the end of this story!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dying Phoenix by Loretta Proctor

I really wanted to like this book.  I did.  The author sent me a copy for free in exchange for an honest review.  Every time that happens, I pray like crazy that I love the book.  I'm not willing to lie, but the fact that they went to the trouble and expense of making sure I had the book in my hand, well that means something to me.  However, I had one real issue with this book.  Here's the blurb from the back:

In April 1967, a totally unexpected military coup throws Greece into turmoil.  People vanish amid terrified rumours of torture and murder.  Meanwhile, tumultous couple Max and Nina Hammett struggle to preserve a marriage that has become fraught with jealousy and despair.  As these events unravel, so does their marriage.  Nina doesn't trust Max, and leaves him in a jealous rage.  But the truth of the matter is that Max was trying to help Zoe, an abused woman, escape her tormentor, not taking her to his bed as Nina imagines.  You, flighty Zoe's angst puts Max in terrible danger from a ruthless murderer.  At the same time, he must also try to find Nina, who has disappeared into the shadowy depths of Athens.  He knows that her wilful nature, along with her refusal to cater to the military, could get her killed.

Sounds pretty exciting, yes?!  It should have been!  Everything in this book, from the cast to the history, has been research and planned incredibly well.  There's a decent plot.  This could have been a really good book.  It should have been!!

I hated chewing every single word.  HHHHHated!!!  I don't care!  I wanted to care!  I wasn't able to care!  The writing is sooooo dry!  Think middle of the desert and nothing but crackers to drink, dry!  Too much detail that nobody cares about!  You can't care that the characters are well-created, because you don't care about the characters at all.  There is zero bonding built in this book.

Now, I will concede that not everyone enjoys the same kinds of books I do.  So, that doesn't mean this isn't a book that YOU will enjoy.  I'm giving my opinion of it.  In fact, this book has several four and five star reviews.  I'm not one of them.

If you enjoy a story that is packed with detail and forces you to pay close attention, you might really enjoy this. Supposedly, this is a thrilling book.  It wasn't for me, but I like cannibals *shrug*

More Heaven by Jo Anne White PhD

I try to keep my personal life and my review life separate, but when something comes along like this book, it just isn't possible.  This is likely to be a long 'review' so I'll give you the short version up front.  Buy this book.  Go now.

I have a special needs child who will be eleven in a few weeks.  He is truly the most incredible person I've ever known.  My job, as his mom, is to love him more than I ever thought humanly possible.  That includes loving him enough to give him the best possible life he can have.  Involved in that is doctor visits, surgeries, therapies, IEP meetings, daily meetings with teachers, counselors, social workers, setting up a support system for him as well as for myself.  Every moment of every day is teaching.  Nonstop.  Every moment in time is a chance for a life lesson.  It's a chance to teach him how to comprehend, how to take care of himself, how to cope in a world that isn't built for him.  That never ends.

I actually moved last year because of the school system here.  It was really difficult leaving my family and friends hours away, but what's best for my little guy comes first.  Always.  The fact is, the school system here is the best in this part of the country for special needs children.  I did my homework.  I researched.  I made phone calls.  I talked with parents and corporations and school boards.  Not once have I regretted the decision to move here.  My child has flourished under the care he receives on a day to day basis.  Do you realize how many hours a week your child is in someone else's care?  It may not seem like a lot, but it's more than half of the day.  For me, I have to have trust.  I have to know they're going to keep my child, as well as the others around him, safe.  I have to know they'll be willing to work with me through issues.  I have to know they'll be willing to take the time to get to know him.  They have  to be able to care about him on some level, otherwise they won't ever get through to him.

Now, since the move, I've come to realize just how important teachers are.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't realize just what an amazing impact they've had on both my son's life and mine.  I appreciate them with all of my heart and do my best to make sure they know it.  When my older son was in school, I'll admit, I took those teachers for granted.  It's their job.  They get paid for it.  With my special needs child, there isn't enough money in the world to pay them for what they do.  I know how much time, effort and money they have invested in my child.  That's a debt you can't repay.  I cannot stress how important the care my child receives at school is.  They work together with me so that we have a nonstop learning system.  He doesn't work on one thing at school and another at home.  It's fluid because that's what works for him.

Everything that I've just written explains why this book was so important to me.  I haven't sobbed like this in years.  It's not a sad book, but I identified so heavily with it.

The story is fictional, but it's set back in the 1970's when it was first mandated that public school systems had to provide some sort of education for physically and mentally disabled children.  Over the years, there have been updates to this, but this was really where the special needs movement started, in my opinion.  Before that, these children were institutionalized and attempts at home school were made.  These children didn't really have a chance at leave.  Forty years ago, my child would have been institutionalized before he turned five.  With the advancements in society and education, he has every chance of living a 'normal' life.  Every single day we see progress.

This story covers a teacher, Miss Tina, and the first six autistic students that she received to work with.  I was expecting it to be a lot of facts and figures and clinicals (which would have been almost as interesting!)  but instead, it's written from Miss Tina's perspective as a journal.  The brilliance of this book is that there so many important factors that are just touched upon, but you still receive the impact.  There are only a few areas where you see the parents' impact on the child and their education, but it's a strong enough visual that that's all that is needed to really pound into your head how important that is.  Given that this is one of the first special needs classrooms, there's an air of fear and discomfort.  Only a few instances are given, but they're also powerful enough that you really get a feel for what the time was like.  Hell, it's still like that in a lot of places.  The bulk of the book is Miss Tina's perspective on the children, what their main issues are and how she's attempting to help them, as well as their progress.

For me, this was a chance to identify with my son's educational system.  I'm so amazingly blessed to have him where he is.  I appreciate them now more than ever.  This book isn't just for people like me, though.  With inclusion being such a hot topic, this book is for everyone.  The best thing you can do for a special needs person is show compassion and empathy.  In here, we have a great look at what life is like for these kids.  Once you can see the world from their perspective, it gives you a great understanding so that you can start to connect with them.  Even if you don't have a special needs person as part of your life now, the odds are good that you will eventually.  If you have zero interest in the special needs community, you'll still find this to be a fascinating read that will give you a great glimpse at the past as well as pull you in emotionally.

Side note:  My personal copy is being donated.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Indelible Ink by Matt Betts

Oh, Matt Betts!  You are a sneaky, sneaky man!  When I picked up this book, I was expecting a situation similar to Odd Men Out, where I'd had to make several attempts in order to read it.  I was in for such a shock!  I spent the entire day today with my head buried in it!  Wherever I went, it went too!  I cannot believe the difference between these two books!  Odd Men Out was alright, but I'm completely smitten with Indelible Ink!

Before I get into the book, I have to talk about the genius of the title.  Indelible has two different meanings.  The first is a marking that cannot be removed.  The second is something that cannot be forgotten.  Ink is, of course, a colored fluid for writing.  It's also slang for a tattoo.  In this book, it's also used as shortened terminology for 'incubator.'  The book is about a girl who has a tattoo.  This isn't any normal tattoo.  It controls her.  She can never forget it's there.  It's a part of her.  People like her are known as an incubator (INK for short)  by a government agency known as FEI.  Then there's the fact that she can't remove the tattoo.

Okay, so I really don't want to give too much away.  The short version of the plot is that our main character, Deena, works for a mob boss.  After a job goes a little haywire, she decides she wants out.  Of course, this isn't going to be an easy task, especially since her sister is back at headquarters with the boss.

This is the most suspenseful book I've read in a long time.  It really was a pleasant surprise. There's plenty of action and chaos, as well as some really interesting characters.  The best part for me is that the ending has been left wide open for more books.  I think it was absolutely the perfect ending.  I can't see where Betts is working on a sequel, but maybe I'll have to shoot him a message and find out for sure.  This would be a keeper series for me!

One last note: Morgan is my favorite character!  He reminded me a lot of Jerry from The Voices.  He's not exactly stable, but he sure is adorable!  His character adds a depth of comedy to the book that it was missing.

Never Again by Heather Starsong

I read this book months ago (apologies for the review delay!)  and vividly remember having to talk to my mother about this one.  The plot really struck me.  Most creativity is sparked by 'what if' and this book is no exception.  What if you were abducted by aliens?  What if they made you young and healthy again?  What if you had to choose between staying young and living your life again or reverting back to your previous condition?

Starsong quickly pulled me in to the plot of this book and held me firmly rooted.  She has an easy reading style and she's a great storyteller.  The characters are vivid and easy to identify with.

The most important part of the book for me was being able to put myself in the same position as Clara, our main character.  We really get to delve deep into her psyche, which is great fun, but at the same time I have to wonder what I would do in her position. Would I make the same choices?  How would I want to end my story?

If you're looking for something a little different to read, this was quick, entertaining and thought-provoking.  If you feel like your life is passing you by too quickly, take the ride through Clara's life and try to gain some new perspective.

I've added Starsong's other book, Leaves in Her Hair, to my 'to buy' list.

The Bunny and the Mysterious Butterfly by Carmel Rivello Art by Toby Mikle

Reviewed by Ashlee

The book was about a bunny that as lonely and he was dreaming and he was dreaming about a butterfly who came to visit.  The butterfly was mysterious because the bunny didn't know who the butterfly was.  Also, the bunny's friends came to visit because they all moved away and left the bunny all alone in the middle of a farm. It works out really good for them. The reason it works good for the bunny is because he got to see his friends.  Also, because the bunny knew that his friends were okay.  It worked out really good for the bunny's friends because they knew that the bunny was safe and okay.

I thought that the book was really good because it explained how the bunny was feeling.  also, you could tell if the bunny and his friends are upset or not by the pictures and the wording of the book.

I thought that the characters were really good and very sensitive.  I think that characters are really good because they are harmless.  I also think that the characters are very sensitive because they are very emotional.

I think the pictures are very good.  They are very colorful and I think that the pictures go along really good with the text in this book.

There aren't many words per page.  There is like twenty or more words on each page.  There is nothing unusual about the characters or anything in this book besides that the animals talk.  I like this book because it is sad and funny at the same time.

I think that children three years or older would like this book.  If they have their parents read it to them their parents will enjoy this book too.

Steel Victory by J.L. Gribble

If I had seen this one in the store, I would have passed it up.  In fact, it's been in my 'to do' pile for about half a year and I kept talking myself out of reading it.  The book cover isn't inviting and the title doesn't hold enough appeal to make up for the cover.  I really didn't give this one a fair shake, and now I wish I had.

Right away I was pulled in by a wonderful escape attempt.  We have elves and vampires and flobbits!  Alright, there aren't really flobbits, but there should have been.  Everybody loves a good flobbit.  We have political issues that aren't boring and dull!  We have military action that didn't make me want to scratch my eyes out!  We have cunning, surprise villains!  We have villains out in the open that we're allowed to despise!

Our main characters live in a town that was created for equality of all species, human and non-human.  It's a safe zone between the Roman Empire and the British Empire.  Of course, there are gonna be haters.  Even though this book was published before all of the craziness going on in today's media, throughout the book I kept wanting to raise my fist in the air and yell #alllivesmatter!  Yes, I wanted to yell out the hashtag.  But, the point is that we have this peaceful town and some amazing conflict going on.

Gribble's writing was a surprise too.  For being a novice writer, but a seasoned editor, she has a really great flow.  There are a couple of clunky parts, but not enough that it's noticeable.  It's easy to get lost in this one.

I enjoyed this one so much that I've already added the sequel, Steel Magic, to my 'to buy' list.  It's a quick and easy read that kept me entertained.  I really couldn't find any faults with it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

What we bought this week!!

You guys know this is my favorite day of the week!  Of course, I have my 'have to' read books, but on Wednesdays I get to order the stuff I WANT to read!  So, what did I pick this week???

First up, I did things a little differently.  I did order some books, but I also backed a project on Kickstarter.  There were already enough backers to make the project happen definitely, but it's one I had planned to buy upon release anyway, so why not get some perks while I'm at it??  I haven't read any of the authors in this one yet, and I'm really anxious to get a sampling of what they can do.  Also, the cover art is designed by Shawn King and everything I've seen of his is just awesome.

Next up, we have A Tale Du Mort by Katrina Monroe.  I really enjoyed Sacrificial Lamb Cake and I'm interested to see if that sort of talent is in all of her books, or if it was a fluke.  Katrina, this one better be awesome too!!!  After reading the description, I'm not really sure what to expect!

The last thing we ordered this week is Among the Living by Timothy Long.  I've been following Tim for awhile on social media, and he's pretty darn entertaining.  I figured I had such great luck with using this method when I ordered a book by Tim Marquitz, that this has to be a sure thing! It has zombies and serial killers.  I can't go wrong!  I'm sincerely hoping I love this as much as I did Steve Kuhn's zombies.

Odd Men Out by Matt Betts

I've been working on reading this book since April.  It has steampunk, zombies, and alternate history.  Sounds pretty exciting, right?!  I think so too!  The problem is, I'd pick it up and read the first page, and immediately put it right back down.  Then about a month later, I'd pick it up again and wonder why I hadn't read it yet.  Then I'd read the first page and remember.  The type is surprisingly small, making it difficult to read, even if I take off my eye assistance devices.  Also, it has a reeeeaaaally slow first page.  Think snail consuming a turkey leg.

So today, I gobbled up as much determination as I could and went for it.  Once I made it to the third page, things really started to speed up!  That isn't entirely accurate.  My interest in the book sped up.  We were introduced to the world we're in and we really started to get a feel for who the characters are.

I'm not really into the whole 'war' thing, but it didn't really detract for me in this book.  There aren't really that many politics going on and the scenes are written well enough.  Instead of feeling like I'm mid-battlefield, I feel more like I'm in the middle of a good action movie.

The writing is planned well, and it has a great flow.  I just wish that the pace would have kept up with the story line.  Throughout the entire book, we have this methodical way of detailing everything.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and I know some people prefer it.  For me, I would have really enjoyed if the author seemed to have more passion infused in his writing at some of the crucial points.

This is Betts' first novel, but supposedly there will be more coming to follow this one.  Having read the first one, I'm actually interested in jumping in to a sequel.  Now that I'm familiar with the storytelling, characters and world, I'm pretty anxious to see what happens next.

A Lover's Destruction by Brooklyn May

The first hundred and fifty pages of this book read like your drama friend on Facebook.  I didn't like any of the characters.  Zero.  They're selfish and don't take any blame.  Instead of communicating, they lash out.  It's an entire cast of immature, annoying people.  I use the term 'people' loosely.  I kept reading in the hopes that there had to be more to the story.  Surely, at some point there would be something of interest besides backbiting and sniping and sex.

Warning!  Explicit sex of no actual use to the story line.  Not intended for children!

Alright, so on page 149 things finally start to get a little interesting.  I'm no longer forcing myself through Facebook drama, but rather finding myself amused.  Our main character, who is a twit at best, has decided that she's going to use magic to get her life where she wants it.  Now, as the reader, and a person with moderate intelligence, I realize that a simple heartfelt apology would have solved all of her problems.  Having at least a few morals would have solved all of her problems.  She, however, is nothing like me.  All of her problems are caused by everyone else, and if she can just get them out of the way, the world will work how she wants it to.  However, everything she tries to do to get everyone out of the way backfires...drastically!

Now, about halfway through the book we meet a really fascinating character, Rachelle.  She's kind of the local do-gooder Wiccan.  She's concerned about everyone and just wants to help.  At first, I was really excited to finally have a character that I didn't want to hack into tiny pieces.  So, if you can make it this far in the book, there's light for a decent human being here!

The ending left me stumped.  I started reading Facebook drama, and then went into an entertaining piece on learning to take responsibility for your own actions, and ended with...well it just doesn't fit.  The ending doesn't fit.  Once I got over the initial shock of changing from one story to another, everything became predictable and dull.

While I didn't like most of the characters as people, I do realize that I wasn't supposed to.  Sitting back and just shaking my head at them was entertaining in its own way.  During the middle of the book, I was actually really enjoying it.  I wish that the beginning and ending had been changed to be more of this style because that's where the writer really shines.  The ending definitely needed a little more work, but I'm assuming that it was left this way because Brooklyn May is busy working on bigger and better things.  As a first book, this shows a lot of promise.  Used as a tool to teach younger adults how to take responsibility for their own actions, it's a gem.  It's a wonderful way to see the consequences of blaming others and revenge.

I sincerely hope that Brooklyn May is continuing along the path as a writer.  Though I had several issues with the book, they're all easily fixable.  She has a talent that could take her places if she keeps at it.

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All books (unless otherwise specified) belong to me already, have been borrowed, or are sent to me by the author, publisher or review company for review. I do not receive any monetary rewards for reviewing books. The opinions expressed in my reviews belong solely to me.