Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: The Heart of Darkness Club

The Heart of Darkness Club
The Heart of Darkness Club by Gary Reilly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Humorous mystery
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Anyone who likes to laugh, and enjoys a mystery while they do it.

My Thoughts: While I haven't yet managed to read the first book in this series, The Asphalt Warrior, I did read the second book, Ticket to Hollywood, and absolutely loved it (review linked below in Series Information section)! So when JKS contacted me and asked if I'd like to part of the blog tour for this book, I was very enthusiastic.

Again, I started laughing right from the start and kept it up all through the book. For instance, Murph explains his ”Work/Loaf Ratio”...”I have spent fourteen years perfecting [it]... I won't bore you with a long-winded explanation of the “W/LR” save to say that it is an algebraic formula of such complex numeric subtlety that it can be understood only by mathematicians and hobos.” He also explains what to do in the event of introspection: “One thing I had learned in college was that if you ever had a question about truth, reality, or the meaning of existence, read a novel by Albert Camus. Pretty soon you'll be so baffled you'll forget the question.”

The mystery this time centers around a man who Murph is called to drive three times in the course of a week as the mystery man moves from one place to another. “I didn't offer to help him carry any of his stuff. That's the unwritten code between cabbies and movers.... It's his punishment for tricking the cab driver into playing Mayflower, because he knows he's not going to give you a tip, and so do you.” The man then goes missing, and Murph is suspected of foul play.

Well, I don't want to go into too much detail on the plot. Suffice it to say we continue to laugh and learn more about Murph (“I hate it when I get mad at myself because it's impossible to turn on my heel and walk away in a huff and refuse to speak to me again. I've tried it plenty of times, believe me.” “I don't like people to know I think things.”), and it was absolutely delightful. Don't miss this book, you will love it!

Blog Tour: I am reading this book as part of a blog tour. Stop by my blog, Now is Gone, on Saturday, June 1, 2013 to see a book feature, a guest post, and a giveaway for this book. Links will be active at 12 a.m. Eastern time on June 1.

Series Information: The Heart of Darkness Club is the third (out of a proposed 10) in the Asphalt Warrior Series. These books all feature Murph, but each can be read as a standalone.
Book 1 The Asphalt Warrior. I don't have this one, but it's on my wishlist.
Book 2: Ticket to Hollywood. review linked here
Book 4: Home for the Holidays. I'm not sure when this is scheduled to be released, but I'll be watching for it!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this e-book from JKS Communications (publicists for the author's representatives) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Denverite Brendan Murphy, or “Murph” as he’s known to the rest of the world.

That world consists mostly of fares and doormen and fellow hacks from the Rocky Mountain Taxicab Company. He lives alone in his crow’s nest apartment, fries a hamburger for every meal, does his dish, then channel surfs for reruns of Gilligan’s Island.

He’s a radical minimalist.

Murph has two main goals in life. First, to earn no more from driving his cab than it takes to keep his bohemian lifestyle afloat. Second, never and under any circumstance get involved in the lives of his fares. He’s not very good with the first issue and spectacularly bad with the second.

There are ten adventures total in The Asphalt Warrior Series. The Heart of Darkness Club is third in the series.

Come prowl the mean streets of Denver with Murph and ponder the meaning of the world and all sorts of deep questions, such as:

Why would anyone want to DO anything?

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cover Reveal: "Soul Trade" by Tracy Sharp

Check out this very cool cover for Tracy Sharp's upcoming new horror novel, Soul Trade.  I did my first edit last week, and have to tell you it's a really excellent story.  I have another pass to do before it's published, so I don't have a date for you, but you know I'll let you know when it's available!

In other Tracy Sharp news, her excellent YA dark urban fantasy Spooked is currently in the top 100 for Spine-tingling Children's Horror!  Check out my review here.

I've been a fan of Tracy Sharp since I first read her book Repo Chick Blues and am very excited to have a hand in her upcoming new book.

One last thing before I go... Be sure to check out this trailer for Soul Trade.  I'm sure it'll make you as excited to read this book as I am to be working on it.

Review: The Stuff of Dreams

The Stuff of Dreams
The Stuff of Dreams by James Swallow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Science Fiction/TV and Movie Tie-in
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: ST:TNG fans, especially those interested in the Nexus.
Trigger Warnings: suicide, genocide (historical Borg attacks mentioned), religious zealots

My Thoughts: This book is definitely for fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you haven't watched the show and/or followed the various books that have been written in the cannon and/or seen the movie Star Trek: Generations you will not have any idea what is going on in this book. Then again, why would someone who is not a fan of ST:TNG even want to read this novella? So, there you go.

This was, however, for a fan a neat story. It takes place thirteen years after Star Trek: Generations and involves the Nexus. It also occurs after Star Trek: Nemesis. There are a number of new crewmembers, and Worf is the first officer. There is not a lot of character development as such; this book is mostly action and events, so if you prefer a more character-driven story you probably won't enjoy this much, but I was entertained. Then again, I am a Trekker, so of course I would enjoy it. I didn't find anything to nitpick about; the story flows quickly, and the Nexus, of course, allows a bit of temporal flux to give things a bit of excitement. If you are a fan of ST:TNG, and especially if you were interested in the Nexus, be sure to grab this fun novella. If you aren't, you'll want to find something else.

Disclosure: I received an e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: The Enterprise-E arrives in unclaimed space for a rendezvous with the Starfleet science vessel Newton. Jean-Luc Picard and his crew have been ordered to assist the Newton with the final phase of its current mission—a mission that brings Picard face to face with something he never thought he would see again: the phenomenon known as the Nexus. Less than twelve years after it left the Alpha Quadrant, the Nexus ribbon has now returned. Tasked to track and study the phenomenon as it re-entered the galaxy, the specialist science team on the Newton discovered that the orbital path of the Nexus has been radically altered by the actions of the rogue El-Aurian Tolian Soren—taking it deep into the territory of The Holy Order of the Kinshaya, one of the key members of the Typhon Pact. Starfleet Command is unwilling to allow the Kinshaya—and by extension, the Typhon Pact—free access to what is essentially a gateway to anywhere and anywhen, as a single operative could use the Nexus to change the course of galactic history….

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Short story anthology, dark/Lovecraftian fiction
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Lovecraft, dark fiction, the author
Book Available: July 9, 2013 in Hardcover (click link to preorder)
Trigger Warnings: violence, cannibalism (implied), murder, fighting, terrors from beyond

My Thoughts: This is a short-story anthology, so there isn't a lot I can tell you without creating spoilers. Generally speaking, Laird Barron has created a number of eerie tales worthy of the master of eeriness, H.P. Lovecraft, and mostly along the same lines. Stories of odd events, creeping horror, and eldritch terrors from beyond the outer Dark. If you like Lovecraft's fiction, or have read and enjoyed Laird Barron's other books, or simply like your horror dark and your mysterious unsolvable, don't miss this one.

Blackwoods Baby”: A very strange hunt for a very strange creature where the hunters become the hunted. I read this before in The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 4 (review linked here).
The Redfield Girls”: Teachers on an annual holiday prior to the start of school have an eerie experience. Three years later things are even stranger.
Hand of Glory”: The life and times of Johnny Cope, gangster. Irish mob and black magicians. Also read in The Book of Cthulhu II (review linked here).
The Carrion Gods in their Heaven”: The first of the stories sent in modern time rather than the early 1900s. A woman flees her abusive husband after falling in love with another woman. A chance find of an animal-skin cloak causes her lover to start to change...
The Siphon”: A charming sociopath starts to work part-time for the NSA. A strange dinners party and eerie conversation stirs strange feelings and strange events around him. The first story not set in Washington State, and one of only a couple.
Jaws of Saturn”: People have strange dreams and then start to change after meeting an odd, old magician.
Vastation”: A odd and recursive story; the musings of a madman, or an immortal?
The Men from Porluck”: Lumberjacks hunting deer for a special dinner run across a mysterious, hidden village deep in the forest.
More Dark”: A mysterious, reclusive writer (and I noticed the metafiction!) does a reading (of sorts) that deeply affects a suicidal horror writer.

Disclosure: I received an e-galley from Night Shade Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Over the course of two award-winning collections and a critically acclaimed novel, The Croning, Laird Barron has arisen as one of the strongest and most original literary voices in modern horror and the dark fantastic. Melding supernatural horror with hardboiled noir, espionage, and a scientific backbone, Barron’s stories have garnered critical acclaim and have been reprinted in numerous year’s best anthologies and nominated for multiple awards, including the Crawford, International Horror Guild, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy awards.

Barron returns with his third collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All.  Collecting interlinking tales of sublime cosmic horror, including “Blackwood’s Baby”, “The Carrion Gods in Their Heaven”, and “The Men from Porlock”, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All delivers enough spine-chilling horror to satisfy even the most jaded reader.

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Giveaway: Norothian Cycle by M. Edward McNally

Welcome to the latest giveaway on Now is Gone!  I'm very excited to provide two sets of books two through five (the final book in the series) of the Norothian Cycle by M. Edward McNally.  Book 1, The Sable Cycle, is free on most platforms, and you can find your preferred format by following this link.

I have read books one and two in this series and can say it is a truly extraordinary series.  Find my review of book one here and of book 2, Death of a Kingdom, here.  I have books 3 (The Wind from Miilark) and book 4 (Devil Town), but have not yet had time to read them; I believe I'll wait until I have the final book, The Channel War, and then re-read the entire series together.

Meanwhile, two lucky winners will have a headstart on me, when they win books 2 through 5 (and can pick up book 1 free).  If you already have some of them, just let me know and Eddie will send only the ones you need.  Let me know what format you prefer when you enter.

Speaking of, here's the Rafflecopter.  I'll end the giveaway in a week.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Review: Terovolas

Terovolas by Edward M. Erdelac

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark Supernatural Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Bram Stoker's Dracula, those who enjoy supernatural thrillers with a Wild West flavor
Trigger Warnings: mauling, murder, violence, shooting

My Thoughts: One part Western (complete with attempted land grab and cattle rustlin'), one part horror novel, one part supernatural thriller, this book is a lot of different thing that nevertheless manage to come together in a complete whole that is wholly satisfying. It continues the story of Professor Van Helsing, after his adventures as related by Bram Stoker, as he attempts to bring the remains of Quincey Morris back to his hometown in Texas, only to become embroiled in mysterious happenings that seem to involve some large predator killing both livestock and people. An afterword by the author hints that this manuscript was discovered in a dusty basement, along with evidence that the story behind Dracula is absolutely true, and that we can look forward to new adventures with Van Helsing. I, for one, can not wait.

Dracula is one of the great loves of my literary life. The first (and one of only three) book to ever give me nightmares, it is one I have read and enjoyed several times. This book is written in the same way, consisting of journal entries, newspaper articles, telegrams and such like to tell the story. While it is a bit more readable for a modern audience, I absolutely loved that it kept to the tradition that Stoker set for his masterpiece. If you enjoyed Dracula, then you absolutely must not miss this story. Same if you enjoy this author's other works. Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received an ARC copy of this e-book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: The personal papers of the enigmatic Professor Abraham Van Helsing are collected and presented for the first time by his longtime colleague and defender, Dr. John Seward. Texas, 1891: Following the defeat of Count Dracula, Abraham Van Helsing—suffering from violent recurring fantasies—checks himself into Jack Seward's Purfleet Asylum. Once discharged, he volunteers to return the ashes and personal effects of the late Quincey P. Morris (the American adventurer who died in battle with the nefarious Count) home to the Morris family ranch in Sorefoot, Texas. Van Helsing arrives to find Quincey's brother, Cole Morris, embroiled in an escalating land dispute with a group of neighboring Norwegian ranchers led by the enigmatic Sig Skoll. When cattle and men start turning up slaughtered, the locals suspect a wild animal, but Van Helsing thinks a preternatural culprit is afoot. Is a shapeshifter stalking the Texas plains, or are the phantasms of his previously disordered mind returning? The intrepid professor must decide soon, for the life of Skoll's beautiful new bride may hang in the balance.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: "14" by Peter Clines

1414 by Peter Clines

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Supernatural/Lovecraftian Fantasy—Cthulhuian Mythos
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Lovecraft, Cthulhu Mythos, Supernatural-themed stories
Trigger Warnings: murder, slavery, people kept as food/prey animals

My Thoughts: This is an incredibly creepy book. I mean, wow; I was glued to the pages, flipping as fast as I could on my Kindle. This is a really awesome book! I don't even know what to say about it, I'm feeling all fan-girl and squeeish!

I loved the characters. Nate was sort of an Everyman put into a weird situation. Xela and Veek were great as Daphne and Velma to his Scooby. Tim Farr was mysterious and fabulous in his role. Timothy was a bit in the background, but there when he was needed; Clive and Debbie; Mandy; Oskar Rommel; Andrew; even the cockroaches... they all had their parts to play, and all were created so well. The plot moved along slowly, but the creeps just kept coming, and the last part of the book was OMG! I can't even tell you, 'cause (shhhhh) spoilers! But if you like Lovecraft, if you enjoy the Cthulhu Mythos, if you love supernatural thrillers, you really need to read this book. You'll love it as much as I did.

Disclosure: I received an e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. 

Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. 

At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s. 

Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends. 

Or the end of everything...

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Review: L: A Novel History

L: A Novel History
L: A Novel History by Jillian Becker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Alternate History
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: I think everyone should read this. While I think those who favor socialism and communism will probably find the blatantly anti-communist overstory to be upsetting, I still think they should read it, and try to keep an open mind. There is more to this story that is on the surface.
Trigger Warnings: rape of women and children, violence, attempted murder, murder, torture, cannibalism, looting
Animal Abuse: multiple animals killed in “art” presentations, killing and eating of a small boy's dog

My Thoughts: Wow, this has to be one of the strangest things I've ever read. It's fiction, written like a history book, purportedly written in 2023 about events that took place from the 1960s into the early 1990s about a man who thirsted for power and destruction. If read with only a surface understanding, it appears to be vehemently anti-socialist and pro-capitalist, but a deeper understanding is needed to really understand that is being explored in this book. It is not about Left vs. Right, but about one man's desire to see the world burn around him, and how he used Leftist ideology and the desire of people to a) do right and b) be taken care of so as to be absolved of responsibilities to twist an entire country into his fist. This quote more-or-less encapsulates the idea behind the story.
When his [L's] messengers moved among the bored and aimless young, telling them that they had deep cause for resentment; that they were discriminated against and oppressed; that they had the right to all manner of good things that the state had long promised and had not yet given them enough of to make them happy—no one knowing better than he that the expectations the welfare state had aroused could never be met—he was preparing the way for disaster: and that was what he expected and passionately desired.

The thing is, so many of the people that followed him didn't even understand that socialism and communism were really about. One anecdote really brought that home to me. The characters are visiting a commune in which 12 people are living. One woman complains she cannot even leave milk for her baby in the refrigerator because someone else will just take it. Several of the people who live there proudly proclaim themselves to be Workers, but refuse to actually work. “It's not that there aren't jobs to be had, but they 'refuse to prop up the system by becoming wage-slaves'.” Instead, they seem to feel they should be supported by the commune without actually providing anything in return. This is completely antithetical to what a commune is actually about. These people would have a rude awakening if they were in a truly communist group, wherein if one wants to eat, one needs to work. The idea is not to have everything handed to you, but that everyone shares in everything. The ideals behind communism are good; it's just that people are greedy on an individual basis and think they should be exempt from actually following those ideals themselves, and communism will not work unless every single person believes in those ideals and lives them. That why it won't work, especially in our modern society where everyone wants the benefits but doesn't want to actually have to do anything to receive them. It comes down so much to the lack of personal responsibility that is becoming a curse upon our society, where everything is always the “fault” of someone else, and no fault is ever accepted. But I'm rambling way off topic.

To me, the fact that so many thoughts and ideas are rolling around in my head after reading this is a very good sign. I might not have agreed with everything, and there were sections of this book that absolutely infuriated me, but it made me think, and to me, that is a sign of a very successful book. I'm telling you, so many people in this book come through as completely bughouse nuts. For example, anyone who disagreed with the Party line was called a fascist. They were militantly against racism, but hated Jews. They declared that Zionists were fascists, and therefore Jews were Nazis.... How messed up is that? An example of some of the double-speak so prevalent:
He understood the good to be what was natural, because nature was innocent; and innocence was wild, and wild innocent nature was cruel; so cruelty was good.”

“But he held that
only the man who understood profoundly and completely that murder was absolutely wrong could commit the murder that would be supremely good; the entirely—and tragically—moral murder. Such a one is the terrorist. He is a heroic martyr because he murders for the Communist Party, he does so with awesome courage, knowing full well that he himself must thereby suffer. There is no greater love than to lay down the life of a fellow man.”

“It is of no importance whether they are true or not. What matters is that they are socially and morally unacceptable.

I wanted to say that no one would actually think this way, that no one would fall for the sorts of double-speak, manipulations, lies and propaganda that the people in this book fell for, but then I looked around, thought about some of the things I've seen on the news, read in magazines and newspapers, and heard people discussing in various places, and realized this is all-too-plausible. Frighteningly so. And it makes me despair for the world. People who know me well know I'm not an extremist one way or another politically—socially I tend to be Left and legally more Right—but I know one thing I can state unequivocally... When it comes to government, less is more. And modern government is growing too big. Legislating the sorts of personal decisions that should not be legislated is, as one character puts it in this book, doing nothing but creating wind. You can't force people to like one another with laws, and trying to will just make the problem worse. I've noted a distressing tendency lately for people to want the government to “do something” about issues in which the government should have absolutely no say, and the fact that enough people howl for it gives the government way too much power and control over our everyday life. I hope many people will read this, realize that things are going too far, and start to back off on insisting that the government “take care of us” and start taking care of themselves. Personal responsibilities need to go back to being personal. And again I'm rambling... sorry!

The formatting left a lot to be desired. There were frequently sentences and fragments of sentences that were randomly swapped around and it made entire paragraphs sometimes very difficult to parse; since the book was already sometimes rather difficult to read, it made some sections practically unreadable. This is really the only issue I had with this book, and it likely a result of the fact that it is a galley. I hope that there will not be issues of this sort in the final edition. I should also point out that the edition I had was missing most of the appendices, and all of the illustrations and footnotes, so there is more to this book than I was able to access in this galley.

The descriptions of the Direct Art movement in Vienna in the late 1960s and early 1970s sickened me, and I have never been so ashamed of being Austrian when I think about the sort of people who would actively support this sort of sick thing—the torture and murder of animals, the rape of young boys, the violence against their own audience—and demand it be allowed to continue in the name of “art”. Not only that, but that most of these “artists” were supported with public grants—money from taxpayers.

Rather than making this already too long review any longer, I'll stop rambling now and say that I think most people should take the time to read this book and really think about it. Those who favor communism or socialism might find this book distasteful on the surface, as it paints Left ideologies in a very negative light. However, I think the meaning is deeper than that; I think this book is more about how one man's feeling of alienation and desire for power led to him utilizing the well-meaning ideologies of a certain segment of the population for his own purposes. Read it with an open mind, and really think about it.

Disclosure: I received an e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: A charismatic sociopath orchestrates a reign of tyranny in England during the 1980s. L: A Novel History documents how distinguished political theorist, Louis Zander, or "L", uses art, artifice and ideology to ennkchant and captivate millions of English citizens. He then ups the stakes and slowly, with heart-pounding inevitability, turns his followers from democracy-loving citizens into willing participants in his collectivist dictatorship. This skillfully composed and well-researched novel could be a fictionalization of the Cloward-Piven strategy or Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. Ms. Becker has written a page turner that unveils the step-by-step process by which one evil man seduces, perverts and then destroys an entire nation. "L" could be Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or even the next Prime Minister or President. Read this book at your peril. In this age of charismatic leaders, the vulnerability of our society is all too real. 

Ms. Becker was inspired to write this novel while researching her best selling, non-fiction work, Hitler's Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Gang.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Craving

Craving by Kristina Meister

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy/Metaphysical Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Anyone to whom it appeals
Trigger Warnings: violence, murder, suicide

My Thoughts: This is a very strange—but absolutely amazing—book, full of mysteries and hallucinations. The reader never quite knows if something is really happening or not, which can lead to a bit of confusion at times, but the story is beautifully written, with gorgeous language. In many cases, at least for me, this can make all the difference between loving a book and being so confused I can't finish it. An example of the sort of writing I'm talking about:
The immense windows that made up the north-facing wall were tinted so that the entire scene had an aura of man beating materials into a sterile kind of submission. A bank of elevators shone behind the security guard's head in a vicious silver beam, but dinged cheerfully. Clones in every kind of suit moved around like ichor in the fat, hardened, corporate arteries, their leather shoes clicking impatiently.

Described as a metaphysical thriller, I've added “dark urban fantasy” to it, due to the monsters and mayhem that lurk at the edges of the story. Or do they? Again, I was never quite sure what was real, what had really happened, and what was just a dream in the main character's mind.

I spoke to the author of this book shortly after I started it to tell her I was enjoying it, and she wrote back to let me know that there are lots of little clues sprinkled throughout the book, things that will help with understanding the rest of the trilogy as it is released.

This is a trippy little story. It was certainly not what I was expecting from JournalStone, but I absolutely loved it. If you're interested in metaphysics, Buddhism, enlightenment, or just a wonderful story, check out this book. I'm already looking forward to reading it again, when the second book in the trilogy is released. Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this e-book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer's program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: After a messy divorce and the suicide of her younger sister, Lilith Pierce sets about the responsible task of cleaning up Eva's final mess. She orders the casket, cleans the apartment, but is plagued by a frighteningly prophetic conversation preceding Eva's death. When Lilith begins to investigate the bizarre details of Eva's life, she has no idea the path of personal transformation she has embarked upon. Down the rabbit hole, she dives, into a world of strange powers, koan-spouting immortals, and dangers to humanity only she seems destined to prevent.

"Angels, Demons, villains, vampires . . . they don't stand a chance."

Stephenson's "Snow Crash" meets "Siddhartha" in this fascinating metaphysical thriller from debut author Kristina Meister. "Craving" is a suspenseful tapestry woven through with the golden threads of myth, philosophy, and sarcasm, exploring the nature of love, faith, and how ideas can change the world.

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Thursday Thunder: "Heavy Metal Poisoning" by Styx

From one of my favorite Styx albums, and the one that really made me start to be a fan of the band, Kilroy Was Here, for this week's Thursday Thunder, here is "Heavy Metal Poisoning" the official video! James Young's dramatics amuse the heck outta me. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - write your own story in the comments!

Here are a few weird yet oddly lovely images I found around the web.  Do any of them inspire you?  Write your own stories in the comments!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Truth

All around lately I see malicious behavior.  People being needlessly cruel to other people, maligning with intent to harm, thinking themselves safe behind the anonymity of the Internet.  This is wrong.  This is not being a decent human being.

Decent human beings treat one another with politeness and civility, even when they disagree.  They do not stoop to ad hominem attacks.  They do not use insults.  They do not spread false tales. They do not tell lies.

Be a decent human being.  Malicious behavior will eventually catch up with you.  Nothing is ever truly anonymous. Nothing is ever truly secret.  Take the time to ensure something is true before spreading it around.  Better yet, don't stoop to the level of gossip.  If someone behaves in a way that requires correction, take the time to contact them privately and try to work things out.  Don't go to your friends and tell them rumors and send them out to spread them.  Rather, be respectful.  Be civil.  Be a decent human being.

At the end of the day, the person who suffers, or benefits, most from your own behavior... is you.

Review: The Dream of Perpetual Motion

The Dream of Perpetual Motion
The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Please Note: I read and reviewed this book in February 2010 from a copy received from the Amazon Vine program. This review has been slightly altered to fit into my current formatting.

My Initial Thoughts: Dexter Palmer has written down a dream, full of strange cuts from one scene to another, past to present to future all intertwined, bits and pieces winding around each other until it all slowly comes to focus ... almost ... and then suddenly you're awake and the book is finished.

My Reading Experience: I couldn't stop reading this book. I would want to. I would try to stop, to take a nap, try to digest what I just read, but I would just find myself staring at the ceiling, thinking about it until I would find myself sitting up again and reaching for the book, to continue reading.

My Synopsis: How to describe it, though ... the main character is one Harold Winslow - an average boy (who will grow to be an average man) who gains the attention of a pair of men who work for Prospero Taligent at an amusement park and ends up getting himself invited to Miranda Taligent's 10th birthday party. Prospero is a genius, and an inventor, who has invented all types of things - such as mechanical men, who are taking over so many jobs and tasks in the world - and flying cars and other marvels in the world, bringing in the age of Machines and pushing away the age of Miracles. He took in Miranda as a baby and has adopted her and raised her as his own, but he has decided that she needs to be exposed to children of her own age.

At any rate, the birthday party is just the first of several circumstances in which Harold's and Miranda's lives will meet. And it all ends up in Prospero's zeppelin, where Harold composes his memoirs, accompanied by the sound of Miranda's voice and the cryogenically frozen corpse of Prospero.

My Recommendations: This is a very odd book - I'll tell you no lies there. But I think you will probably like it, if this is the sort of thing you like - steampunk, that is; dystopian futures that are actually in the past (amusingly this is all set back in the early 1900s sometime - it's not exactly told us - just that it's the "early 20th century"), that sort of thing. The mixture of sly humour (and yes, Dexter Palmer, I saw your cameo there!) and outright horror and the strangeness ... it's oddly beautiful when seen overall. Give this one a try - I think you'll be amazed.

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E.J. Dabel Giveaway has ended

Congratulations to the winners!  Amber O. will receive a copy of Pantheons, and Robert K was lucky enough to win both Pantheons: Game of the Gods and Albino!

Check out yesterday's post featuring Annabell Cadiz's cover reveal for a new giveaway!

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Forever Man

Forever Man
Forever Man by Brian W. Matthews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those who enjoy dark urban fantasy
Trigger Warnings: violent death, mutilation, sexual assault, use of R-word (teen boy to his autistic brother)

My Thoughts: First of all, my apologies to JournalStone for not managing to have this read and reviewed prior to publication. I tried, and failed. Sorry!

This author really needs to read my blog posts on editing tips, including Department of Redundancy Department and We Gotta Get out of This Habit (links where allowed; otherwise can be found on Now is Gone, my blog, with a search). I literally groaned when I saw that old nemesis of mine, the phrase “rose to his feet.” Also, as nearly as I can tell, the type of autism the author uses does not exist. I have to wonder why he did not use a real form of autism and instead made up a new syndrome?

Jack Sallinen is a real piece of work. I repeatedly hoped for him to die horribly. While Darryl Webber is not the nicest of men, he was at least amusing and somewhat charming most of the time. A lot of the characters fell sort of flat for me, but I did appreciate the fact that Izzy was able to function at a decent level and didn't spend the whole book running in circles and flapping her hands like so many women whose children disappear do in these books.

Usually I really enjoy JournalStone books, but this one just didn't work for me. I didn't dislike it, but... I probably won't read it again. I'm not exactly certain why I didn't click with this book, so if you like dark urban fantasy and are interested in this book, don't let me change your mind. But … this was really a “meh” book for me.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this e-book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer's program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Police Chief Elizabeth “Izzy” Morris enjoys keeping the peace in the small town of Kinsey in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. But when her seventeen-year-old daughter goes missing after a school dance and the mutilated corpse of the girl’s date is discovered in the nearby woods, Izzy’s police skills are stretched to their limits.

Her only suspect is a stranger, a mysterious black man with no known past. When a second stranger appears, the investigation stalls. People she once trusted turn against her. The local banker’s autistic son begins to know things no one else does.

And now something unspeakable prowls the woods. 

Joined by three friends and the man she once considered her enemy, Izzy races to find her daughter—and ends up trapped in the middle of a war between an ancient evil and the man who has stood in its way for nearly two thousand years.

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Annabell Cadiz Presents: Giveaway and Cover Reveal for "Michael" - book 2 in the Sons of Old trilogy

Greetings to my followers!  I am just adding a short note here before we start to let you know there are TWO giveaways associated with this post, so be sure to scroll all the way down and sign up to win some goodies!  Now, let me turn this over to Annabell!

Michael (Sons of Old Trilogy, #2)
Author: Annabell Cadiz
Genre: New Adult, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Estimated Publication Date: August 2013
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Synopsis: Zahara Faraday looks like a normal eighteen-year-old and lives in a quiet neighborhood with her overprotective parents. She works at a bookstore and hangs out with her best friend Becca King on a daily basis. But underneath the normal lies a secret life filled with dangerous supernaturals. Zahara belongs to a world made of Light Witches, rogue Imagoes (supernatural creatures with super strength, speed), fallen angels, and Nephilim (hybrid children born half-human, half-angel). Where her father Solomon Faraday is human, her mother Mia and her Aunt Catalina are Light Witches. They help protect the human world by hunting down rogue supernaturals who commit heinous acts against humans.

What they never expected was the possibility of having to hunt down the one rogue coven they had befriended and come to trust in their battle against Lucifer. Rekesh Saint-Louis is the leader of the most powerful Imago coven in Florida and now he’s the most wanted. Supernatural bodies are starting to pile up with an ancient ritual long forbade being used to murder them and the symbol, one large cross with four smaller crosses around it, which represents Rekesh’s coven, being left behind. Rekesh and the Elders of his coven set out to find who is behind the murders and clearing his name before a war between the covens begins. To make matters more difficult, Rekesh also has to deal with the return of someone he would rather preferred stayed away.

Meanwhile, Zahara and Becca are spending more time brushing up on their training, knowing an attack from Lucifer can come at any moment. Between patrolling neighborhoods and hanging at the boarding school created by Charles Stephens—a fallen angel who created the school to protect the children of rogue supernaturals—they are introduced to an old friend of Charles, Michael. Zahara begins to develop a closer bond with Jason as they train and chase down clues to clear Rekesh’s name. Jason also starts to develop a close bond with Michael, protecting a very powerful secret.

But Rekesh’s coven being set up isn’t the only danger. A new powerful and lethal drug has emerged from the shadows of the supernatural world called Inferi. A side effect of the drug: it leaves the supernatural hungering for blood—both human and supernatural. 

Lucifer is on the move and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on Zahara and complete the first act of his plan.

A battle is about to begin. 

One that may cost the Faraday family everything they hold most dear.

About the Author: Annabell Cadiz was born in the sweltering heat of South Florida. She was raised surrounded by Puerto Rican chefs and band of siblings that weren’t all related to her. A self-proclaimed nerd and book-a-holic (her room does hold much evidence to prove her claims are justifiable), she created TeamNerd Reviews to showcase her EXTREME love for novels where, along with her best friend, Bridget Strahin, she hosts book reviews, interviews, giveaways, Indie Shoutouts and much more. She also blog tour services for authors. She also had the pleasure of being published in three separate issue of Suspense Magazine. She also adores Cinnamon Teddy Grahams, has an addiction to Minute Maid Orange juice, and is a proud Jesus Freak. She is working on getting LUCIFER, the first book in SONS OF OLD TRILOGY ready to be published.

Sons of Old Trilogy Giveaway
**Opened to U.S. and International Fans**
**Must be 13 or older to participate**
**Winner will be selected on MAY 31, 2013 and have 24 HOURS to respond before another winner is selected**

Ten Lucky Winners Will Receive

E-Copy of Lucifer (Sons of Old Trilogy, #1)  and ARC of Michael (Sons of Old Trilogy, #2) (once its ready)

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One Lucky Winner Will Receive

E-Copy of Lucifer (Sons of Old Trilogy, #1) by Annabell Cadiz
A cupcake keychain
Body wash from Bath and Body Works in the scent of Pin Chiffon
Girls Rock Wristband
Mini Notebook

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Three

Three by J.A. Konrath

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Thriller
Reading Level: Adult—explicit sex scenes, sexual language
Recommended for: Those who like their books fast-paced and high-octane and don't care much for little silly details
Book Available: June 25, 2013 in Kindle and Paperback editions
Trigger Warnings: child abuse, incest, murder, carjacking, tasteless handicap jokes (made by a disabled woman)
Animal Abuse: a dog is hit with a gun and then shot (he survives); the president repeatedly threatens his wife's cat; a rattlesnake is stomped

My Thoughts: After reading the first two books over the course of slightly less than 12 hours, I sort of ran out of gas and this one went much more slowly. Part of it is that it involved so many people. Not only are there the three sisters and the Instructor, but there are also seven members of another Hydra team (Hydra Deux), Julie, and the new president, and sections alternate between all of them. Some of it felt a little padded, and much of the character development done in the previous books is done over again so that this book can be read as a standalone if you want.

There were a few inconsistencies I noted. Fleming had her legs rebroken by Malcolm, and her fingers broken by one of Hammett's people, but in this book this doesn't seem to slow her down in the least. Chandler dislocated her shoulder twice over the course of the previous two books (which in total took place over maybe three days all told), but in this book is complaining more about the pain in her leg, which I think was just a graze by a bullet. All three sisters had removed their tracking beacons, which were implanted in their duodenum, yet again this is not slowing them down. I've had “minor” abdominal surgery several times, and it definitely slows you down. Admittedly they are all trained to overcome pain, but I just don't see how they aren't being slowed down at all by things like broken bones, especially Fleming, whose legs were already held together by pins.

Don't misunderstand, this is another fast-paced, high-octane book that is so full of twists and turns and subplots that many people won't even be bothered by these things, but this is also a very long book and some of this stuff seems to just be completely ignored or understated just to keep things moving. I did really like Heathcliff and Bradley. Heath and Chandler had a real Spike/Buffy thing going on, and being a huge Spuffy fan, I really liked that. Bradley was kind of Too Stupid to Live, but he was an appealing character nonetheless.

Overall, this book was okay. It didn't blow me away, but it was entertaining enough. I think it was a little overwritten and probably about a third of it could have been cut, but for people who enjoy thrillers, who have read the series and want to finish it, it will be entertaining. It will be available June 25.

Note: Due to miscommunications, this was removed from my Vine queue, so this review cannot be posted on Amazon with the other Vine reviewers. However, it was provided to me by Vine.

Series Information: Three is the third book in the Codename: Chandler series.
Book 1: Flee read and reviewed 5/17/13, review linked here where formatting allowed
Exposed is a novella featuring Chandler, and may be read after Flee; I will not be reading it right now
Book 2: Spree, read and reviewed 5/17/13, review linked here where formatting allowed.
Note: Many of Konrath's books have characters that show up throughout his several series, and that includes characters in this series that show up in other books and series. It's very complicated, but I imagine he has a list somewhere on his site that outlines the best order in which to read them all to catch all the interconnected plots.

Disclosure: I received a paperback ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Time is running out for Chandler, the elite assassin whose mission to rescue her sister from a notorious black ops prison landed her at the top of the nation’s Most Wanted list. Burned by her handlers and forced to work with her mortal enemy in a race to preserve the very government that wants her dead, the living weapon has become a ticking time bomb.

In saving her sister, Chandler unleashed a power-mad American president dead set on controlling the world—no matter how many millions of innocent people he must kill to do it. To stop him, Chandler will go deeper than she’s ever gone before, pushing her body and mind to their absolute limits. All the while she is hunted by the one man who knows her every secret, her every hiding place—and her every weakness. Infiltrating the White House, crashing a bullfight in Mexico City, hijacking a blimp in Toronto… these are just the beginning of the end, as the Codename: Chandler trilogy races towards its stunning conclusion.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Spree

Spree by J.A. Konrath

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Spy Thriller
Reading Level: Adult—explicit sex scene
Recommended for: Fans of thrillers, adrenaline junkies
Trigger Warnings: murder, torture, threat of sexual assault

My Thoughts: While as entertaining as Flee was, it wasn't quite as good at holding my attention. Nonetheless, we learn more about the various characters, have a couple more run-ins with Harry McGlade (who is incredibly amusing) and spend lots of time observing some really sick psychos. Most of this book is set near the Wisconsin Dells, an absolutely beautiful place, so it was fun to read about that, and also fun to think about Hammett and her merry band of psychopaths meeting up in a clown motel...

So, still a great read for people who like a high-octane thriller, adrenaline junkies, and fans of Konrath's body of work. This book also had an explicit sex scene that felt sort of added on which I skipped through, since it didn't really add anything to the story. Next up is the brick of a book Three, which is over 600 pages. Watch for that review!

Series Information: Spree is the second book in the Codename: Chandler series.
Book 1: Flee read and reviewed 5/17/13, review linked here where formatting allowed
Exposed is a novella featuring Chandler, and may be read after Flee; I will not be reading it right now
Book 3: Three, to be read next

Disclosure: I purchased this book for myself so I could read the whole series after receiving the third book through Vine. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Superspy and assassin Chandler has just barely averted nuclear annihilation when the very organization she works for has her brought in on treason charges, trussed up for interrogation. After a run-in with Chicago Homicide cop Jack Daniels, Chandler discovers one of her sisters, Fleming, has been transferred to a black ops site where the modus operandi is torture and death.

Chandler launches a breakneck mission to infiltrate an impossibly secure prison—putting her on a collision course with a squad of violent psychopaths trained to negate her precise skill set. As old enemies reemerge and new ones appear around every corner, Chandler will rely on the help of unexpected allies, including an ex-mob enforcer named Tequila and a firefighter named Lund. But even they may not be enough to stop what lurks within the unlisted military base: a rogue government agency plotting to destabilize the entire nation—and conquer the world.

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Review: Flee - A Thriller

Flee - A Thriller
Flee - A Thriller by J.A. Konrath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Spy Thriller
Reading Level: Adult—explicit sex scene
Recommended for: Fans of high-octane thrillers
Trigger Warnings: violence, murder, sexual assault, statutory rape

My Thoughts: I read the first Jack Daniels book several years ago and really enjoyed it. I've been slowly building up my library of J.A. Konrath books ever since, and am a bit aggravated that I have to read this book before I completed it and was ready because of the new Terms of Service with Vine running me on Three, the third book in this series, but that's neither here nor there...

Say whatever else you will about this book, it was really entertaining. It is so fast-paced that the entire story takes place over the course of a single day, and it just never stops—other than that one sex scene, which was rather gratuitous and over which I skipped altogether, and which led to the rating decrease. I had no idea how accurate the weapons information is, how realistic the overall idea is, but I was entertained, and couldn't stop turning those pages, so for me, it was a success as a book. Recommended for adrenaline-junkies, fans of high-octane thrillers, fans of Konrath's writing, and fans of thrillers in general. Check it out.

Series Information: Flee is the first book in the Codename: Chandler series.
Exposed is a novella featuring Chandler, and may be read after Flee
Book 2: Spree, to be read next
Book 3: Three, upcoming

Disclosure: I purchased this book for myself so I could read the whole series after receiving the third book through Vine. All opinions are my own.


She's an elite spy, working for an agency so secret only three people know it exists. Trained by the best of the best, she has honed her body, her instincts, and her intellect to become the perfect weapon.


Then her cover is explosively blown, and she becomes a walking bulls-eye. Stalked by assassins who want the secrets she holds, and those who'd prefer she die before talking.

Now Chandler has twenty-four hours to thwart a kidnapping, stop a psychopath, uncover the mystery of her past, retire five equally-trained contract killers, avoid a tenacious cop named Jack Daniels, and save the world from nuclear annihilation, all while dodging 10,000 bullets. 

Buckle up. It's going to be one helluva ride.

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Review: The Russian Donation

The Russian Donation
The Russian Donation by Christoph Spielberg

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Medical Mystery
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those who like financially based crimes
Trigger Warnings: murder, suicide, physical assault (man on woman)

My Thoughts: In a seemingly International series of books, I've moved from Iceland to Germany in this next mystery on my shelf. (I've also been listening to a Russian singer, and a Japanese heavy metal band, so it's International Week here in the Sozaeva household...)

I was incredibly amused by the way Dr. Hoffman kept comparing the COO, Bredow, to Hitler. It kept making me giggle at inappropriate times. There were a few other places that were pretty funny, too, but mostly short, one-offs rather than more intensive sections.

I was aggravated by the author's (or possibly the translater's) constant misuse of “comprised.” It was consistently written as “comprised of...” when that should be “composed of.” Comprised is not used with of. For instance: Twelve items comprise a dozen. vs. A dozen is composed of twelve items.

Anyway, overall I didn't much care for this book. I did finish it, but I found it overly complex, with way too much musing, not enough character development or plot, and generally just not to my taste. All the financial aspects just made my eyes glaze over, and generally I wouldn't recommend this to anyone other than someone who is absolutely fascinated in financial crime and following the money trail. Attempts to throw in the Russian mafia were subverted by making them way more civilized than they normally are. No, I won't be continuing this series despite it's acclaim elsewhere.

Disclosure: I received an ARC paperback from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Doctor Felix Hoffmann is a seasoned physician at a Berlin hospital, respected by colleagues and devoted to his intelligent girlfriend, Celine. It's a life filled with medical work, televised soccer games, and the chill of German beer. And when a former patient shows up dead by causes unknown, curiosity and sheer medical devotion propel Hoffmann to investigate. But his autopsy order goes unfulfilled as the body is cremated and hospital records vanish. Soon, Hoffmann discovers a diagnosis of conspiratorial proportions, and he must risk everything to save not only himself but the hospital he's always loved.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: House of Evidence

House of Evidence
House of Evidence by Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Murder Mystery/Police Procedural
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: people fascinated by trains, obsessions
Trigger Warnings: murder; anti-gay sentiments; violence toward “others”, especially GLBTQ folk, women and hippies, as well as Nazi violence in general during “past” times

My Thoughts: I mostly took this book because it is set in Iceland, a country in which I am very interested, and it features forensic science, in which I'm interested. Overall it lived up to the expectations I had for it, but there were a few places, like when Hrefna is leaving to view the murder and we have a lot of superfluous descriptions of the building in which she lives. This didn't seem to have anything to do with the story, and I'm not sure why it was deemed important enough to be in there.

The diary entries, while interesting, were not well separated from the rest of the text in this ARC. Hopefully the final copy will be better formatted, as it was sometimes confusing to abruptly move into the diary entries.

The main thing I liked about this book was the sensitive treatment of GLBTQ folk of all sort. When talking about a transgendered woman who survived Nazi Germany, a character thought:
A woman who might have been a good mother and a good grandmother, had not a quirk of nature put her in the wrong body many years ago....

What an ordeal, to have to conduct one's life in such deception, just to be able to live in peace with someone you love. Perhaps things will change on day, and people will be able to live the way they were created.

Yeah, we're still waiting on that one...

The ending will probably be unsatisfying for some, but I felt it sort of fit the whole story, which was rather unconnected and rambling at times. Not a bad book, but not one I'd necessarily heartily endorse either. If you're interested, check it out.

Disclosure: I received a paperback ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: On a cold January morning in 1973, inside a stately old house in Reykjavik, blood pools around Jacob Kieler, Junior from a fatal gunshot wound to his chest. Detective Jóhann Pálsson, an expert in the emerging field of forensics, is called to the scene and soon discovers something more unsettling than the murder itself: the deceased's father, Jacob Kieler Senior, a railroad engineer, was shot to death in the same living room nearly thirty years earlier. The case was officially closed as a botched robbery. 

Pálsson soon uncovers diaries that portray Kieler Senior as an ambitious man dedicated to bringing the railroad to Iceland no matter the cost. Sensing a deeper and darker mystery afoot, the detective and his colleagues piece together through the elder Kieler's diaries a family history rich with deceit...

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Today's Giveaway; E.J. Dabel e-books!

My apologies to my followers, I'm running slow with this week's giveaway(s).  This week I have three separate giveaways for E.J. Dabel's books!  We'll be giving away one each of Pantheons (Pantheons #1) (review here), Pantheons: Game of the Gods (Pantheons #2) (review here) and Albino (review here) e-books!  E-books will be provided in .mobi format unless the winner requests otherwise.

Giveaways will run through midnight next Monday night.  Be sure to scroll down and enter all three if you want!  Winners will be contacted and sent their e-books via e-mail, so be sure you provide a correct e-mail address in the Rafflecopter form(s) below.  You may enter to win one or all three and winners will be drawn separately for each form.

Good luck!

Pantheons giveaway:
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Pantheons: Game of the Gods giveaway:
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Albino giveaway:
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J. Taylor Publishing Presents: "One More Day" a romantic YA short-story anthology - COVER REVEAL!

Check out today's gorgeous cover reveal from J. Taylor Publishing!

One More Day

Release Date: December 2, 2013
Target Reader: Young Adult
Back of the Book

What if today never ends?

What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—never happens?

Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying ... that's where you’d be ... forever.

Unless ...

In One More Day, Erika Beebe, Marissa Halvorson, Kimberly Kay, J. Keller Ford, Danielle E. Shipley and Anna Simpson join L.S. Murphy to give us their twists, surprising us with answers to two big questions, all from the perspective of characters under the age of eighteen.

How do we restart time?

How do we make everything go back to normal?

The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could,maybe, happen today.

Right now.

What would you do if this happened ... to you?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review: The Key

The Key
The Key by Simon Toyne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Historic-religion thriller/alternate history
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of historic/religion-based thrillers, conspiracy theories, etc
Trigger Warnings: murder, violence (including domestic violence: a man strikes his pregnant wife), conspiracies featuring the Catholic church

My Thoughts: It has been almost two years since I read the first book in this trilogy, Sanctus (review linked here where formatting allowed); I really wish I could have re-read it before starting this one, but I can't find it. I do remember I really enjoyed it, was entertained and excited, and have been looking forward to reading this one. The delay came about because I wanted to re-read the first one and couldn't find it... which is pretty typical. It's part of the reason I've been buying e-book versions of books I already have and enjoyed so I can find them more easily.

I was a little amused by Sgt. Ski, whose real name was “Godlewski” but he thought it was unpronounceable so changed it in practice to make things easier. My hometown was full of Polish people. Let me give you a few real crazy names: Syvinski, Witkowski, Peplinksi, Goroski, Sokoloski, Jablonski, Kukoski... does this give you an idea? These are the ones I remember off the top of my head, but the vast majority of my hometown was Polish, so there were a lot of -ski names. Not to mention some of the great Norwegian names I've run across, like Mjolsness or Sjoquist. So Godlewski? Par for the course.

This book suffered from “middle-of-the-trilogy-itis”. The first book set up the characters and the action and this book is mostly them being variously thwarted at things they need to do. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had re-read the first book before I started this one, but as it was, I had forgotten too many things and wasn't as invested in the characters as I had been initially. I really do recommend for maximum enjoyment that you plan to read all three books of the trilogy together. (The third book, The Tower, is scheduled for publication in June 2013)

In the end, fans of historic/religion-based thrillers or conspiracy theories should enjoy this series, but I recommend you try to read the whole thing as close together a possible for maximum enjoyment. This one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger—while the main story is finished, a new one starts—so while I had originally thought I might skip the final book, now I want to know what happens. We'll see.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Hunted. Hounded. Haunted.

She is the most important person in the world. She is The Key

Journalist Liv Adamsen has escaped from the highly secretive Citadel at the heart of the ancient city of Ruin and now lies in isolation, staring at hospital walls as blank as her memory. Despite her inability to recall her past, something strange is stirring within her. She feels possessed by a sensation she can't name and plagued by whispers only she can hear: "KuShiKaam," the key.

To others the meaning is clear. For a mercenary operating in the Syrian Desert, a man known only as "the Ghost," Liv may hold the key to one of history's most powerful secrets. For the brotherhood of monks in the Citadel—now cursed by a terrible plague—her return to Turkey may be the only way to ensure their survival. And for a powerful faction in Vatican City, her very existence threatens the success of a desperate plan to save the church from ruin.

At the center of events that defy explanation and hunted by someone she believes might be trying to kill her, Liv turns to the only person she can trust—a foundation worker named Gabriel Mann. Together they must elude capture and journey to the place where all life began. From New York to Rome to the deserts of the Middle East, worlds collide in a race to uncover a revelation dating from the creation of man in this electrifying follow-up to the international bestseller Sanctus.

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