Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: Children of Fire

Children of Fire
Children of Fire by Drew Karpyshyn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Epic Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of epic fantasy
Trigger Warnings: zealotry, people being tortured, burned at the stake, killed; children being taken from their parents, violence, fighting, murder

My Thoughts: This is an extremely complex book, as is common for epic fantasy, with lots of characters to keep track of and lots of things going on. It is also very obviously the first book in a series, as many things are left unfinished.

While there is a great deal of similarity to other epic fantasies, including a very strong homage to Lord of the Rings, at the same time this is a very unique idea and done in a new way. I think most fans of epic fantasy will quite like this story. The characters are all very interesting, if somewhat cliché at times (such as Norr's “honorable savage” and Scythe's “rogue” character). I enjoyed learning about the ideas behind the Chaos and Chaos magic. If you like epic fantasies, definitely check this one out.

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

Synopsis: Long ago the gods chose a great hero to act as their agent in the mortal world and to stand against the demonic spawn of Chaos. The gods gifted their champion, Daemron, with three magical Talismans: a sword, a ring, and a crown. But the awesome power at his command corrupted Daemron, turning him from savior to destroyer. Filled with pride, he dared to challenge the gods themselves. Siding with the Chaos spawn, Daemron waged a titanic battle against the Immortals. In the end, Daemron was defeated, the Talismans were lost, and Chaos was sealed off behind the Legacy—a magical barrier the gods sacrificed themselves to create.

Now the Legacy is fading. On the other side, the banished Daemron stirs. And across the scattered corners of the land, four children are born of suffering and strife, each touched by one aspect of Daemron himself—wizard, warrior, prophet, king.

Bound by a connection deeper than blood, the Children of Fire will either restore the Legacy or bring it crashing down, freeing Daemron to wreak his vengeance upon the mortal world.

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International Blasphemy Day

It's International Blasphemy Day again and you know what that means! Time to use your right to free speech to blaspheme!  Last year I became a bit ranty, and this year I don't actually have much to say.

So, who else worships the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Any other Pastafarians out there? Let's all go eat spaghetti today!  RAMEN!

P1. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a being which has every perfection.
P2. Existence is a perfection.
P3. Therefore, the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

@Norilana #Giveaway "Cobweb Empire" by Vera Nazarian

For those who read Cobweb Bride (my review linked here), I'm sure you have been eagerly awaiting the sequel.  Well, it is here: Cobweb Empire.  And I'm giving away five copies of it in the e-book format of your choice (winners will receive a Smashwords coupon).


In a world where no one can die, she alone can kill... 

Cobweb Empire (Cobweb Bride Trilogy #2) is the second book of the intricate epic fantasy flavored by Renaissance history and the romantic myth of Persephone, about death's ultimatum to the world.

Now that she's Death's Champion, what will Percy do?

In a world where all death and dying has ceased, and only one person can kill, everyone can only expect a miracle. But what if it's just the tip of the iceberg?

Percy Ayren must make her way south, despite all odds, to the place where the death shadow of the Cobweb Bride calls her. With the help of her companions and the invincible black knight, Lord Beltain Chidairwhose enigmatic presence disturbs her in a way she cannot explain, Percy must continue her quest, while the mortal world falls apart around them….

Meanwhile, the Marquis Vlau Fiomarre faces the truth of his impossible feelings for Claere Liguon, the Emperor’s daughter. He had cruelly taken her life, and now he must serve her until his last dying breath—it is no longer a matter of honor but secret passion.

And now, the world itself is changing…. A new dark witch rises, and she will make your heart freeze with her beauty and power….

Empires clash, kings and emperors and gods vie for supremacy, the living and the dead are at war, while love stories play out in amazing directions, and new mind-blowing mysteries are born.

Experience the stunning continuation of the epic story in Cobweb Empire.

Here is the giveaway, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Review: Portrait of a Crossroads

Portrait of a Crossroads
Portrait of a Crossroads by Kelly Rand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: F/F Erotica
Reading Level: Adult (explicit)
Recommended for: fans of F/F erotica

My Thoughts: While not normally a fan of erotica, I quite liked this short novella. The writing is very nice, beautiful descriptions, and Annette is an interesting character, as is Sadie (although Sadie remains mysterious to the end). It almost makes me want to visit the crossroads mentioned, just to see the scenery.

While F/F erotica is not for everyone, if you've been looking for some, this is a good choice.

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

Synopsis: Since finding her father’s body at the bottom of the basement stairs, Annette’s been drifting through her days, watching cars pass down the rural Ontario crossroads beside her house. Her brothers have no great ambitions, but Annette remembers a time when she did. She just can’t remember what they are.

Then she meets her neighbour, Sadie, a tattooed, world-weary, newly single portrait artist. Something about Sadie awakens something in Annette—the essence she captures in her subjects, perhaps, or the way the old familiar crossroads seem so fresh and promising from the view out Sadie’s window.

Annette begins to help Sadie, cleaning brushes and filing invoices between long lazy afternoons of conversations and shared silences. Soon, though, Annette wants more from her enigmatic neighbor, and their slowly heating friendship melts into passionate nights. Somewhere along the way, Annette discovers that her lover has illuminated for her, as with the people Sadie paints, not just her essence but her own endless worlds of possibilities.

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Review: Stonefly

Stonefly by Scott J. Holliday

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those who enjoy thrillers and don't mind a mild dose of magic
Trigger Warnings: domestic violence against women and children, kidnapping, murder, killing

My Thoughts: Wow, what a super cool story! This combines two of my favorite things, thrillers and urban fantasy, although the urban fantasy bit is fairly low-key. Jacob is a really interesting character, and I'm excited to note that this is the beginning of a series. I will definitely be watching for future books in this series!

Darnell is a pretty nasty character, and I was irritated by Lori's constant string of jerks when Jacob is so devoted to her. I also felt really bad for Motown/Early, whose pain is made obvious throughout the book. The ending was sort of bittersweet.

I'll be interested to see where this goes, especially with Vincent Kali. If you like thrillers and if you like urban fantasy and would love to read a good combination of the two, definitely check out Stonefly.

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

Synopsis: Jacob Duke has come back to Braketon­—a sleepy, backwoods town bordering Dover, the mental institution where he spent his formative years. Jacob's intention is to enjoy Braketon's woods and water for the first time as a free man, but he soon discovers that Dover isn't through with him yet. Driven by a curse that compels him to grant any wish he hears, Jacob is drawn back into his disturbing former life by a young boy's desire to see his own father dead.

Complicating things are Lori Nelson, Jacob's friend-with-benefits who continues to put new boyfriends in his path, and Motown, Jacob's friend from his years at Dover, who carries a secret that rocks Jacob's foundation and makes him question his own morality.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: School Spirits

School Spirits
School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Recommended for: fans of YA UF
Trigger Warnings: murder, attempted murder

My Thoughts: I hadn't realized when I accepted this book that it was a spin-off of the Hex Hall series, so I was a bit concerned when starting the book that I might not be able to follow it. However, I had no trouble following the story.

This was a fun story. In some ways it reminded me of a Buffy episode, although not quite as drama-filled. Isolde Brannick is a strong young woman, but she's never experienced a lot of the things that normal kids her age experience, so going to school is something new for her, as are the dangerous shoals of the world of boys. All the characters were good, although several were just filler characters about whom we learn very little. The ones that were developed were developed fairly well, though, and I think this is a series I would like to continue to read. If you like Young Adult Urban Fantasy, then definitely check this book out.

Disclosure: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

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Review: Three Graves Full

Three Graves Full
Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of twisty thrillers
Trigger Warnings: murder

My Thoughts: This book is described as “darkly funny” and compared to a Coen brothers film, but I really didn't laugh very much. There is a lot of irony and strangeness, but I didn't really find most of it very funny, although I did like this comment: “Jason felt a brief statistical curiosity over how many people died annually because they couldn't move when they should.

That said, it wasn't a bad book. The twists and turns kept on going, and if you like dogs you will adore Tessa. My favorite character was Ford Watts; I would love to read a book that was all about Ford. But he's a fairly minor character in this book. That seems to be usually the way it goes for me.

Nothing wrong with the book, but I didn't really find it anything particularly special either. I think a lot of folks will like it well enough, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers.

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

Synopsis: "There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.”

But it could always be worse. . . .

More than a year ago, mild-mannered Jason Getty killed a man he wished he’d never met. Then he planted the problem a little too close to home. But just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property—neither of which is the one Jason buried.

Jason races to stay ahead of the consequences of his crime and while chaos reigns on his lawn, his sanity unravels, snagged on the agendas of a colorful cast of strangers. A jilted woman searches for her lost fiancé, a fringe-dweller runs from a past that’s quickly gaining on him, and a couple of earnest local detectives piece it together with the help of a volunteer police dog—all of them in the wake and shadow of a dead man who had it coming. As the action unfolds, each discovers that knowing more than one side of the story doesn't necessarily rule out a deadly margin of error.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Terminal Island

Terminal Island
Terminal Island by Walter Greatshell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Horror
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those interested in ancient cults, who like their horror horrific
Trigger Warnings: killing, murder, rape, human sacrifice, cannibalism
Animal Abuse: Many horrible things are done to animals in this book, including dogs, a cat, a lamb, fish, bison, boars, etc. I can't put detail without making spoilers, so just be aware

My Thoughts: This was a really twisted story, bringing in such disparate elements as the Eleusian mysteries, the ancient cult of the Horned God, the Bacchanalia, and all the myriad ways that a person can become trapped in their own destiny no matter how hard they try to break free. Henry is the only character that is really developed—we really don't learn much about anyone else, seeing things just from Henry's perspective.

Oddly enough, this is the second book in a row that I read written I present tense, which is an unusual choice. It worked, though. There were some word choice errors in this book, though, including using the term gloaming to describe dawn (gloaming refers only to dusk/twilight) and “reign” used when “rein” was needed. Otherwise it wasn't too badly edited for a galley.

If you like your horror really horrific, and if you are interested in ancient mystery cults, definitely check out this weird little story.

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

Synopsis: Henry Cadmus grew up on Catalina Island, a scenic vacationland off the Southern California coast. But Henry's experiences were far from idyllic. Today, even though Henry has seen firsthand the horrors of war, the ghastly images that haunt his dreams is one he associates with his childhood... and the island: a snarling pig-man holding a cleaver; a jackal-headed woman on a high balcony, dripping blood; strange occult rituals... and worse. If it was up to Henry, he would avoid the island entirely. 

But Henry is returning to Catalina Island. At his wife Ruby's insistence, Henry, Ruby, and their infant daughter are coming to Avalon, so that Henry can face his fears, exorcise his demons, and reconcile with the one he fears most... his mother.

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Review: Earth Thirst

Earth Thirst
Earth Thirst by Mark Teppo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those who are interested in a different take on vampires
Trigger Warnings: murder, violence, shooting

My Thoughts: Vampires as eco-warriors, a most interesting idea. Not only an unique take on vampires, but a unique take on the world in general, with a hidden war going on behind the scenes for millennia.

I'm not sure what to say about this story. There isn't a lot of character development, it's mostly action, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. The editing could have been better, but it is a galley, so hopefully any problems I noticed will have been fixed in the final copy. If you've been wanting something a little different about vampires, then definitely check this book out.

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

Synopsis: The Earth is dying. Humanity—over-breeding, over-consuming—is destroying the very planet they call home. Multinational corporations despoil the environment, market genetically modified crops to control the food supply, and use their wealth and influence and private armies to crush anything, and anyone, that gets in the way of their profits. Nothing human can stop them.

But something unhuman might.

Once they did not fear the sun. Once they could breathe the air and sleep where they chose. But now they can rest only within the uncontaminated soil of Mother Earth—and the time has come for them to fight back against the ruthless corporations that threaten their immortal existence.

They are the last guardians of paradise, more than human but less than angels. They call themselves the Arcadians.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: The ABACUS Protocol: Sanity Vacuum

The ABACUS Protocol: Sanity Vacuum
The ABACUS Protocol: Sanity Vacuum by Thea Isis Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of softer sci-fi/space opera
Trigger Warnings: murder, attempted murder, racial epithets (of the people of the future, not modern ones)

My Thoughts: A very interesting story, albeit one with a bittersweet ending. The author has a great grasp of characterization and plot, and her presentation of quIRK is very appealing. I felt badly for both quIRK and Vivian. Bryce is a really horrible person whose only concern is his own quest for power and status.

I loved that quIRK had two cats, and was amused by their names: Muon and Lepton. I also liked the bits and pieces we learn about the different societies and the various differences between the planets after humans have left Earth. If you like softer sci-fi and/or space opera, you should check this book out, it has some really interesting ideas.

Disclosure: I received a copy from Curiosity Quills via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Vivian Skye just finished university, and landed a dream internship.

Not many would consider the distant and isolated Extra-Galactic Observatory cushy, but to Vivian it’s a dream come true. Hailing from the low-tech planet of Aurora, she studied for years to work on advanced quantum supercomputers. This is her chance to start a career and leave her past life behind.

Her assignment is simple: a routine upgrade for the station’s supercomputer, quIRK.

Her reception isn’t a friendly, one, and she finds that her only friend is quIRK. However, the station’s administrator, Bryce Zimmer is obsessed with quIRK—he suspects that the AI may have achieved sentience, something explicitly prohibited by the ABACUS Protocol.

Bryce’s traumatic and privileged past makes him distrust Vivian from the beginning; his jealously compels him to set Vivian and quIRK against each other. Deciding that the ends justify the means, his power-hungry sabotage threatens to consume the entire station and send them into the unknown void of intergalactic space.

Vivian must struggle to survive not only Bryce’s megalomania, but also the emerging artificial super intelligence that is quIRK.

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Review: Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish

Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish
Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish by Andrew Buckley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy/Humorous
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those who enjoy their humor silly

My Thoughts: After my complaints about the bad editing in the last Curiosity Quills book I read, I was absolutely delighted to find this one very well edited; I only noticed three editing mistakes in the whole book! Nicely done.

This book was an absolute hoot, just hilarious. It reminded me in some ways of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, although maybe not quite as silly. For example: “Part of Hell's policy clearly stated that everyone had to stand in line for at least five years before entering.” Then there is the start to Death's little adventure, which went a little something like this:
Death had stopped for a quick drink. The Irish made good beer, and Ireland was on the way to Greece, which happened to be his next stop. A quick drink turned into a couple of quick drinks, and then a couple of slower drinks, and continued to escalate until two hours later when Death found himself outside that same pub screaming mindless obscenities at the lamppost.
This quote made me laugh, too:
Religious fanatics around the world, believing that the Second Coming was upon them, went wild. Many of them formed study groups, other danced in the street, ministers began scheduling church meetings, and somebody woke up the Pope.
One more and then I promise to stop:
God was always in the mood for a practical joke; Death fondly remembered when He had created the platypus: half duck, half beaver, laid eggs. God thought that was hilarious.
At any rate, this was an excellent and very fun story and I highly recommend it if you like silly British humor and fun stories. Check it out.

Disclosure: I received a copy from Curiosity Quills via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: From the Bahamas to Heathrow airport, to the rain soaked streets of London the dead have ceased dying. 

This is inconvenient for a number of reasons but what’s the real reason behind the chaos?

In London we find Nigel Reinhardt, a disgraced, confused, and gifted London police constable who owns a prophetic goldfish. In Ireland the Angel of Death questions the value and position of his current employment. At Majestic Technologies Celina McMannis works diligently on a top secret project. At the South Pole there lives a very unhappy penguin.

When the Devil hatches a nefarious plot to take over the world by possessing a cute little kitty and seizing a factory of robotic Christmas elves it’s up to Nigel and his group of unlikely companions to save the world or die trying… or both.

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GMTA Publishing Cover reveal: "Firebolt" by Adrienne Woods

Title: Firebolt
Author: Adrienne Woods
Series: The Dragonian Series
Publisher: GMTA Publishing Mythos Press
Release Date: Nov 20 2013

Back blurb:

Dragons. Right. Teenage girls don't believe in fairy tales, and sixteen-year-old Elena Watkins was no different.

Until the night a fairy tale killed her father.

Now Elena is in a new world, and a new school. The cutest guy around may be an evil dragon, a prince wants Elena's heart, and a long dead sorcerer may be waking up to kill her. Oh and the only way Elena's going to graduate is on the back of a dragon of her own.

Teenage girls don't believe in fairy tales. Now it's time for Elena to believe in...herself.


For the love of blueberries, Elena Watkins was destined for greatness, even though she didn’t know it. Forced to travel from home to home every three months Elena’s life was a never ending blur of new towns and new faces, that is, until the night her father was killed by a creature she thought only existed in fairy tales – a dragon. With her father’s death leaving her orphaned, Elena is whisked away to her true birthplace, Paegeia.

Arriving at Dragonia Academy, the premier school for young Dragonians, she begins to feel a sense of belonging in this strange world; a school she was never meant to attend because her father was a dragon. Elena is soon swept up in the rigor of her new life and the new set of skills she now needs to survive: Latin, Art of War, and Enchantments.

Entranced by her new reality Elena learns about the dragons and humans who inhabit her new home. There are two classes of dragons that soar through Paegeia distinguished by their instinctual pretense for either good or darkness. The distinction between these two very different species is vital to Elena’s success in her new world because she has been marked as a Dragonian, a human preordained to ride and tame a dragon of her very own.

With the help of her new friends, Elena is able to navigate the complexities of her new home. Her new roommates Becky and Sammy are even more amazing then she could have ever imaged and to top it all off, Sammy was a dragon. Sammy’s is also the devoted sister of Blake, the most attractive boy at school and the Rubicon; the only dragon of his kind with the abilities of all the dragon species with a pretense for evil. Elena soon finds the love she always wanted with Lucian, the Prince of Tith, who actively pursues Elena throughout her time at Dragonia Academy, winning her heart with his absolute adoration and unshaken dedication.

Unbeknownst to Elena danger is lurking behind the enchanted vines concealing the once thriving capital of Paegeia – Etan. Goran, the darkest sorcerer to ever practice his evil arts in the realm, has lain dormant for over a century behind the crumbling city. The first step in his menacing plan is to destroy the only weapon that can kill him – the King of Lion Sword.

When the sword is stolen Elena doesn’t think twice about seeking it; knowing deep down that it is her destiny to save her new home. She travels to the Sacred Cavern, and discovers the nefarious actions of an unknown man lead to the swords destruction as she follows the trail revealed in the prophetic waters of the cavern.

Elena and her friends engage the mysterious man revealing their existence to Goran and fighting for their very lives.

Author Info

I was born and raised in South Africa, where I still live with my husband, and two beautiful little girls. I always knew that I was going to be a writer but it only started to happen about four years ago, now I can’t stop writing.

In my free time, If I get any because Moms don’t really have free time, I love to spend time with friends, if it’s a girls night out, or just a movie, I’m a very chilled person.

My writing career is starting with Firebolt, book one with the Dragonian Series, there will be four books in total and two to three books that is about the stories taking place inside The Dragonian Series.

I do write in different Genres, I have a woman’s fiction called the Pregnancy Diaries, but it would be published under another name. And then I have a paranormal series, called the Watercress series. There are about ten novels in that one.

So, plenty of novels to come out, so little time.

I hope you are going to embrace the Dragonian Series as much as I loved writing them.

Kind Wishes,

Adrienne Woods

Author Links

@GodlingChron #Book Feature: "A Trial of Souls": The Godling Chronicles 4 by Brian D. Anderson

The time has come for the world to see the true power of the Reborn King. His vast armies march, bringing death and devastation to all who would dare oppose him. But hope will endure if the bonds of friendship, both old and new, remain strong.

Gewey, split between the man he wants to be and the god he must become, will test his very soul in order to fulfill his destiny. And only through his love for Kaylia can he hold on to his humanity.

The Godling Chronicles Series
Book 1: The Sword of Truth review here
Book 2: Of Gods and Elves review here
Book 3: The Shadow of Gods review here
Book 4: A Trial of Souls

See a guest post by the author here.

About the Authors:
Brian D. Anderson was born in 1971, and grew up in the small town of Spanish Fort, AL. He attended Fairhope High, then later Springhill College where his love for fantasy grew into a lifelong obsession. His hobbies include chess, history, and spending time with his son.

Jonathan Anderson was born in March of 2003. His creative spirit became evident by the age of three when he told his first original story. In 2010 he came up with the concept for The Godling Chronicles. It grew into an exciting collaboration between father and son. Jonathan enjoys sports, chess, music, games, and of course, telling stories.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: The Geneva Decision

The Geneva Decision
The Geneva Decision by Seeley James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of thrillers
Trigger Warnings: murder, violence, fighting, domestic violence

My Thoughts: I read an excerpt of this story last spring and really enjoyed it, so was excited to find it on NetGalley and finally be able to read the full story. I have had it happen before where an excerpt blew me away only to discover once I moved past that point that the story was not good, but that was not the case here. This first book in the Pia Sabel series was very fast-paced, but did not skip on character development. While the characters were a bit cliché at times, they weren't annoyingly so, and I think that this author has a great deal of potential. There are three shorts out there that I would like to go ahead and read when I have a chance, and those who enjoy fast-paced thrillers should probably enjoy this book a great deal. While not for everyone, I'm sure, I enjoyed this story a great deal.

Series Information: The Pia Sabel series
Book 1: The Geneva Decision
The Trench Coat series of shorts:
Episode 1: The Meeting
Episode 2: Jacob's Story
Episode 3: Bring It

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

Synopsis: Pia Sabel plays to win. 

Until a few weeks ago, she was an international soccer star. But now she’s taken the helm of her billionaire father’s private security company, and she’s playing against a whole new set of opponents—the kind who shoot to kill.

On her first day on the job, Pia’s client is assassinated in front of her. There’s no time for training, so Pia must trust her instincts and athletic skills to unravel the complicated maze of money laundering and piracy that will take her from Swiss mansions to the jungles of Cameroon. 

Her battle-hardened employees suspect she’s just a spoiled rich girl with a mean corner kick. But Pia’s got some unexpected moves of her own. Will they be enough to bring her team through its mission?

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Review: Dinosaur dust

Dinosaur dust
Dinosaur dust by Michael Panush

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Alternate reality/historical fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the author, the first book, those able to overlook the editing problems
Trigger Warnings: violence, killing, attempted murder, Nazis, hate language
Animal Abuse: dinosaur fighting ring, a pet dinosaur is abused to try to “purify” it of its “decadence”, many dinosaurs are controlled and ultimately killed as a result
Language: This book is set during the time of the Great Depression and uses language that is considered non-PC and racist in order to create a realistic feel to the story. However, please do not let this issue stop you from reading this book, as part of the MC's journey is moving past this.

My Thoughts: Michael Panush writes some very entertaining stuff. I've read a few of his books now, including the previous book in this series and several of his other books, and he never fails to provide me plenty of excitement and derring-do. The one problem I have with all books I've read published by Curiosity Quills is the sub-par editing. This one was particularly bad, with lots of missing and extra words, and use of the wrong homonyms (for example: “meat” for “meet” and “peace” for “piece”). I know it's hard enough to make a profit on books, but that essential editing step really should not be one to skimp on. While I'd give the book a four for entertainment value, I can only assign a two for technical qualities, leading to an ultimate rating of only three stars because of the large number of errors.

That said, it was a pleasure to watch the evolution of the main character from a crook into a fairly decent human being through the interactions he had with Nathan Whipple and the various other characters in this book, and his realization that he didn't have to remain stuck in the same situation. Among all the Nazis and plot elements is a fairly decent story about moral rehabilitation that I quite liked. So, overall I would recommend this story to anyone who liked this author's previous books and is able and willing to overlook the many editing errors in this text.

Series Information: The Jurassic Club series
Book 1: Dinosaur Jazz, read and reviewed August 2012, review linked here
Book 2: Dinosaur Dust

Disclosure: I received a copy from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Times have changed for Acheron Island and the world. The decadence of the Jazz Age has given way to the desperation of the Depression, as war looms over the horizon. 

Acheron Island finds itself divided between a newly aggressive Japanese Empire, the legend-obsessed spies and agents of Nazi Germany and a burgeoning native independence and union movement in the form of the Communist International-backed Acheron Workers Party. 

Strikes and spies fill Acheron’s capitol as Victoria City becomes home for a plot that could bring the world to war. And on the other side of the globe, two men make their way into the thick of the intrigue and bloodshed soon to sweep Acheron. 

One is Nathan Whipple, a former tourist on Acheron Island turned aspiring pulp novelist. The other is Norris Hall, an ex-Marine, mob enforcer and bank robber. 

Along with the daughter of a Japanese general and a young Chinese immigrant, they become the only hope for Acheron—and for the world. 

The next chapter in the tumultuous history of the modern Lost World starts here—with gangsters, raptor movie stars, Nazi agents, loyal triceratops pets and much more!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Knowing

Knowing by Laurel Dewey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Police Procedural with paranormal elements
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Seekers, searchers, those who enjoy a bit of the paranormal with their suspense
Trigger Warnings: murder, carjacking, conspiracy, mass murder, stolen organs, mind control, assassination

My Thoughts: This is actually the fourth book in a series, but I have been assured I'll be able to follow the plot without having read the first three. I would like to read them, because after reading Laurel Dewey's excellent book Betty's (Little Basement) Garden I really like her writing style.

This book is a real mind-bender, that's for sure. The level of conspiracy is almost on par with The Matrix. This delves into some seriously crazy metaphysical ideas that I found quite fascinating. There is also a great deal of philosophical musing that is quite worth reading. A few examples:
The Opposite of Love is Not Hate. The Opposite of Love is Fear. Be Brave and Choose Love.

I will face the darkness, but I will not let it become me. Fear may be present but it will not possess me. I will face the darkness, as the knowing light within my heart and mind leads me home. And once again, I will be free.

... people really do take on the grime of their associations and actions. It was impregnated in this guy's cells. It never fails. What we've seen and what we've done washes over us and colors that aura that shadows us.

... the people I work for invented the darkness.

Forget space exploration. The mind is the next frontier.

We have the illusion of choice because no matter what we choose, the game never changes. The wheels always keep moving in the direction that suits the ones who are designing the wheels. If they don't want that wheel to travel somewhere, they make damn sure it's designed to that it doesn't roll there.

...that is how the liars remain in control. Through one's silence and fear of alienation, the truth is buried deeper under the soil of fabrication and deceit. Chaos rules because eventually, it's easier to cling to whatever debris is left than to walk into the storm, taste the rain and greet the thunder with your fists balled and your courage lit like a fire that will never be put out.
*Of course, there was some funny, too. For instance: “It was like having a heart to heart with a squirrel. You want to believe they understand you, but deep down, logical tells you that it's jetting over their heads.

Normally I don't use quite so many quotes in my reviews, but I just couldn't cut them down. The ideas expressed in this book are fascinating, and terrifying, and mind-boggling. A lot of the gist was things like: “...everything we cling to is really an illusion that's manufactured by people who want to control us.” Or thoughts like this: “The heart of a person's mind can be corrupted, exploited and manipulated in order to gain power for those who don't possess the heightened awareness.

It's all about finding your strength in your own way, the connections between mind and body, and how modern culture is made to keep us ignorant and passive. As is mentioned, we are so focused on “bread and circuses”—that is, our junk food and our sports—that we don't bother to open our eyes to what is really going on around us. And opening our eyes to what is really going on around us is important. This book was very profound. I highly recommend it.

Series Information: Jane Perry series
Book 1: Protector, on my wishlist
Book 2: Redemption, on my wishlist
Book 3: Revelations, on my wishlist
Novella 1: An Unfinished Death, on my wishlist
Novella 2: Promissory Payback, read and reviewed October 2011, review linked here
Anthology: Unrevealed: Four Jane Perry Stories, on my wishlist
Book 4: Knowing

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

Synopsis: After the life-altering ending in the third Jane Perry thriller, Revelations, Jane Perry takes time off from the job to find the missing part of herself she never knew existed. But her journey is quickly hijacked when a wanted criminal, Harlan Kipple, steals her car. Kipple—accused of the heinous murder of a prostitute in a seedy motel—is on the run and desperate to stay that way. Jane’s personal plans take a backseat as she tracks down her stolen ride and discovers through an unusual source that Kipple may be innocent and is being framed by a nefarious group. When she trails Kipple and confronts him, every belief she ever had about this world and the next is put to the test.

Kipple, who by his own admission is not the “brightest bulb in the box,” received a heart transplant seventeen months ago. His life changed from the moment he woke up in the recovery room. In fact, he’s not so sure where he ends and his heart takes over. As strange as that sounds to her, Jane cannot deny what she witnesses after spending just two days with Kipple. It becomes clear that nothing is what it appears as Jane is drawn into a deep rabbit hole with dark webs and darker crevices that force her to operate on the other side of the law. With the police hot on Kipple’s tail and a devious faction intent on finding him first, Jane is caught in the middle and realizes that solving this crime could have fatal consequences.

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@MJWebbBooks @TeamFallen #Giveaway "Infernal Gates" Book feature, Excerpt and Giveaway

Infernal Gates

Author: Michael J. Webb

Check out on Goodreads!

Purchase on Amazon!

Synopsis: Ethan Freeman, ex-Special Forces Ranger, wakes up to discover he is the sole survivor of a fiery commercial airline crash that killed his entire family. His nightmare is only beginning when he becomes the FBI’s prime suspect. Only Ethan knows he’s not a cold-hearted murderer, but he has no idea what happened to him--and why he alone survived.

He finds an unlikely ally in Sam Weaver, the NTSB Chief Investigator. An ex-military pilot, Sam senses Ethan is innocent. She tries to remain dispassionate in her investigation of the crash even as she finds herself attracted to the man who may be America's worst homegrown mass-murderer.

Neither Ethan nor Sam realize that shadowy spiritual forces are at work which will alter their lives forever. A monstrous evil, imprisoned since the time of the Pharaohs, has been released by The Nine, a sinister group of powerful men and women who believe they are the direct descendants of the Anunnaki, ancient Sumerian gods. The demon they have unleashed intends to free The Destroyer from The Abyss, the angelic prison referred to in the Book of Revelation, and unleash a worldwide reign of terror and annihilation.

Facing impossible odds, time is running out for Ethan and all of humanity as he is drawn into an ever-deeper conspiracy--millennia in the making--and learns that he is the key to stopping The Nine. He must overcome his deepest fears and find reserves of strength he never knew he had as he confronts pure evil in order to save himself and an unsuspecting world.


Less than ten minutes
before we’re all dead,
Ethan Freeman, and there is nothing I can do about it!

The stricken A320
Airbus--originally bound for St. Thomas and now limping back to Charlotte,
North Carolina—shuddered like a bird suffering a mortal wound, then shook
violently.  Shouting and screaming from the rear of the plane drowned out
the prayer of the older couple seated in front of them, “Our Father, Who art in
Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come—”

Lisa, Ethan’s wife,
sobbed beside him.  Across the aisle his eighteen year-old son, Josh,
yelled, “Dad--are we going to crash?”

“No, son,” he lied.

Megan, his sixteen
year-old daughter, seated next to her brother, screamed, “The engine is on

Lisa clung to the seat
arms so hard her fingers turned white and whimpered, “We’re all going to
die--just like Greg,” then moaned, “I don’t want to die—”

Ethan reached for his
wife’s hand as a thunderous explosion shook the plane and slammed him against
the window, knocking breath out of him.  He cried out in agony as the palm
of his right hand was sliced open by a jagged metal clasp sticking up on the
arm rest between him and Lisa.  Blood gushed out of the ugly-looking wound
and splattered the back of the seat in front of him.

The plane banked hard to
the right and the nose suddenly pointed toward the ground, six miles below, as
if the commercial airliner was being plucked from the cloudless, crystal blue
heavens by a giant unseen hand.  Ethan glanced toward the rear of the
aircraft.  A gaping hole replaced the emergency exit.  Loose debris
disappeared violently out of the plane—and there were at least two rows of
seats missing!

Swinging his gaze back
to the First Class Cabin, Ethan noticed that ice crystals now clung to the
windows.  His ears popped as oxygen masks dropped from overhead.
 Shivering, he reached for the oxygen mask dangling in front of him like a
puppet on a string and struggled to place it over his mouth and nose.  He
took several deep breaths, ignoring his bleeding hand, then yelled out to his
family, “Put your masks on!”  

In the next instant, he
was pressed so hard into his seat it seemed as if he weighed four to five times
his normal weight.  Black spots danced before his eyes and he fought for

All he could think about
was that he had failed his family—that he had not been able to save them.
 He cried out in desperation, “GOD HELP US—”  

Moments later, a flash
of blinding white light enveloped him as a blast of fiery heat washed over him.

Then everything went black.

About the Author: Michael J. Webb graduated summa cum laude from the
University of Florida and obtained his J. D. from the same university.
 Over the past forty years he has travelled the world in search of adventure.

He is a
history buff, both ancient and modern, and is fascinated by the intersection of
the scientific, supernatural, and Biblical world views, and has studied and
taught from the Bible extensively for more than twenty-five years. He is also
intrigued by recent discoveries in quantum physics that are now providing
extraordinary insights into the reality of the spirit realm, especially as it
relates to the study of Light.  He incorporates all of the above into his
supernatural thrillers.

and his wife make their home in Charlotte, North Carolina.  


**5 Winners Will Be Selected**
**Giveaway ENDS OCT 2, 2013**
**Winners have 48 HOURS to respond before another winner is chosen**
**Must be 13 or older to enter**

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Review: Anonymous Rex

Anonymous Rex
Anonymous Rex by Eric Garcia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What is the Premise: This book is the first book in the Dinosaur Mafia series, in terms of publication date, but the 2nd one if you take the events of the books chronologically. The truly amazing thing about these books - in which the dinosaurs have NOT gone extinct, at least not all of them, but have evolved to a smaller size and live side-by-side with humans with the help of a lot of latex, glue and straps to disguise themselves - is that while you are reading them you just go with it, because it is written so convincingly.

My Synopsis and Review: This story is mostly about Vincent Rubio, a detective and the main character of all the Dinosaur Mafia books. Rubio's partner and mentor Watson has been killed - supposedly in a hit-and-run by a taxi in New York while taking part in a mysterious investigation. Rubio has gone on a serious bender with the basil (dinosaurs can't get drunk by drinking alcohol - their recreation of choice is with herbs, which get them "high") and is refusing to buy the story about what happened with Watson and as a result has just about burned all his bridges and lost most of his business. Things are looking really bleak when he gets thrown a bone by one of the big companies in town - which seems to lead right back to the case that Watson was investigating when he was killed. Although this story is a bit dark, it provides quite a number of laugh-out-loud moments as well. At its base, this story is a well crafted noir detective yarn.

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Review: Promissory Payback

Promissory Payback
Promissory Payback by Laurel Dewey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: Read and reviewed in October, 2011 from an e-galley provided by The Story Plant via NetGalley. Updating review formatting.

About the Story: This novella/novelette is in the Detective Jane Perry series of novels. It is the first one I’ve read, so it is likely that I didn’t catch everything that a long-time reader of the series might have; however, the story is written in such a way that it can be read and stand by itself.

My Synopsis: Perry is called to a murder case – the woman is hog-tied on her own bed, no sign of forced entry or struggle, and has been suffocated with duct tape over her nose and mouth. She was discovered by her long-term friend, Laura Abernathy, who says she was responding to a call from the previous evening requesting that she come over to see Carolyn, the victim. As Perry investigates the murder, she untangles a complex web of lies and plots to discover the reason for the killing, as well as who was involved.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this quick read – it is cleverly written and plotted. I am definitely going to be tracking down the series of books – Perry is an interesting and complex character and I’d love to read more about her escapades and exploits. A very satisfying read for fans of mystery and suspense alike!

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Review: Liquid Lies

Liquid Lies
Liquid Lies by Lois Lavrisa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: New Adult
Recommended for: Fans of mysteries, esp. romantic suspense/thrillers
Trigger Warnings: sexual assault, murder, attempted murder

My Thoughts: Although this book was written before the official designation of the New Adult “genre”, this is precisely what it is: CiCi is 22 in most of the book (18 in the prologue), just out of college, and trying to put her life together when it ends up completely ripped apart. My heart just broke for her.

Estelle and Hazel were a complete hoot; they were sort of like Lucy and Ethel and definitely the comedy relief in this book. I actually figured out the mystery well in advance of the denouement, which is pretty unusual for me. I'm not sure if it was just super obvious or if I'm developing a suspicious mind...

All in all a highly enjoyable story, full of twists, turns, and red herrings, a devious plot, and generally very entertaining.

Disclosure: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I later noticed it was on NetGalley and added it to my reading over there so as to have the additional place to post the review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: One dead body.

One girl with a deadly secret.

Body count rising. Can she find the killer before she’s the next target?

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Monday, September 23, 2013

#BannedBooksWeek: Celebrating your FREADom to READ - Top challenged books and which I Have read

I thought I'd hop on the Banned Books Week Bandwagon by listing the Top 100 Most Challenged books and noting which I've read (and when if I can remember). Here we go!

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling - Oh, yes, I've read (and own) all of these!
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck - Read in high school English
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou - I think we might have read this in grade school but I can't recal for sure
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain - read this several times during grade and high school
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley - one of my favorite books, first read for a University course and have read a couple more times since
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey - checked this one out of the library to read in high school
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor - I'm almost certain we read this one in grade school but again I can't remember for certain
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck - read for English class sometime between 8 and 10th grade
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle - this book was a gift from someone, first read when I was fairly young and read several times.
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

Unfortunately I haven't read a lot of these since they just aren't books in which I'm interested. Still, I shall have to try to do better! What books on this list have you read?