Sunday, August 31, 2014

What will you dream today?

Ah, the lazy, long weekend. I had such lofty intentions for you. And then there came the unexpected read-for-review opportunity. I lost three days to Aranya, which I will review a bit later.

What I'll say now is that those were three days well spent.  Sometimes you just need to fall into a good book. Allow yourself to dream a different life, a different world. Breathe magic and sing poetry.

What will you dream today?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Artisans by Julie Reece and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

The Artisans by Julie Reece

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

The Artisans

They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old RAVEN WEATHERSBY gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?
The Artisans is a delectably rich, layered and dark YA Southern Gothic inspired by Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont's classic Beauty and the Beast.

"The Artisans has all the elements I love - spooky intrigue, strong friendships, and a romantic tension to be savored." ~ Wendy Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil trilogy.

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Title: The Artisans
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Julie Reece
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author

Julie Reece
Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.
Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
(Winners will receive their book on release day)


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Friday, August 22, 2014

Cover Reveal: VESSEL by Lisa T. Cresswell and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

This week I am pleased to host a cover reveal for Lisa Cresswell, author of the Storyteller series, which I have had the pleasure of reviewing in the past. This one looks interesting, and there's a giveaway! So without any further ado...

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

VESSEL by Lisa T. Cresswell

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
LCresswell_Vessel_M9B_eCover_1800x2700
The sun exploded on On April 18, 2112 in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen.

They had exactly nineteen minutes to decide what to do next.

They had nineteen minutes until a geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, and every satellite in their sky.

Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.

Generations after solar storms destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth, humans reverted to a middle ages-like existence, books are burned as heresy, and all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents. 
Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs even if it's the last thing she wants.
add to goodreads
Title: Vessel
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Lisa T. Cresswell

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author

Lisa T. Cresswell

Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play "The Queen of the Nile" at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that's why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?

Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.

Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!
Connect with the Author:  Website Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
(Winners will receive their book on release day)

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Zompoc 101-Outbreak Theories

There's just something about the zombie apocalypse that gets me thinking. I must admit I haven't read many zombie themed books, and up until a couple of years ago, I had trouble watching movies and TV shows about them as well. They are scary, and in many cases gross, but that's not what creeps me out. No, it's the plausibility of something like a zombie outbreak that does it for me. I can't help thinking about ways such a thing might actually happen.

Three Theories

It probably won't be exactly like in movies or shows, those are fiction after all, but several recent documentary-style shows, as well as fictional shows, have presented some interesting theories, which I think might have some merit.

The Virus

One of these theories revolves around the cause, namely a virus. Not just any virus, but one that fits many of the commonly cited symptoms: violence/aggression, lack of self-awareness, lack of recognition, decay (even if that's just in the brain), and the tendency to bite and claw.

Interestingly, some believe that the Rabies virus fits the bill. Anyone who's seen or read Old Yeller or Cujo probably has a general idea how it works. Basically, it infects the brain and begins to destroy it. As that happens, the antisocial and violent tendencies surface. Victims are losing their minds. They are also unable to drink, which doesn't help matters. Eventually they die of thirst. Sure, there's a vaccine, but the scary thing about Rabies is that it only works if given before the symptoms. So, Rabies is not quite zombie material, because if someone is bitten by someone or something thought to be rabid, they are vaccinated. Apocalypse averted.

But, what if the virus changes? It could be that it is modified in a lab or just naturally evolves. Perhaps it could change route of exposure, no longer limited to contact with infected bodily fluids, but perhaps airborne? That may not even be enough to reach apocalypse status. Perhaps an accelerated time to first symptoms would make it harder to stop. Or even other tendencies, like infected becoming paranoid and hiding from civilization until their thirst and madness take over, followed by rampage and many more infections.

The Chemical Agent

Paired with quicker action by the virus, the results could be devastating, though probably not quite end of the world devastating. After all, the victims wouldn't be walking dead, they'd be ill and dying of thirst. They wouldn't last long, no matter how many are infected.

Another theory explores the idea of chemical agents that alter the psyche of their victims. This could cause the violence and destruction. It could cause chaos and death. The problem with this, however, is transmission. I think this might cause only localized zombie outbreaks. Those exposed go into a frenzy of madness, but their exploits do not infect others or spread the agent's effects.

Also, consider that the agents would have a limited half-time in the body. So, after a while, the worst of the symptoms might fade and you'd just have a bunch of exhausted victims that manage to survive, so long as no one kills them while they are out of their minds. Of course, the effects could be permanent, in which case those who are infected would need to be captured and cared for in a secure environment. Anyway, it's an interesting theory.

The Paranormal

And, let's not forget that the idea of zombies has a beginning not in illness, but in religion/mysticism. The zombie outbreak could be the result of a curse. And with that and the power of suggestion, perhaps some people could be convinced they are zombies and act accordingly, despite there being nothing physically wrong with them. This is would put more of a paranormal spin on it. I imagine it would take some work to create enough zombies to lead to the end of the world, but perhaps a local outbreak could be generated by a single person or group of people working together.

Again, this would likely be localized and in my opinion, easier to contain. That is unless the zombie creation process is shared over the Internet and adopted by satellite groups. Wouldn't that be horrific. It would be like flash mobs, but with zombies. Perhaps a trigger given in several distant locations at once that would turn on the zombie suggestion for those who have been cursed or programmed for it.

I suppose that the undead variety of zombie would also fall under the paranormal category. Instead of the power of suggestion, perhaps the curse or event that spawns this type of apocalypse targets those who are already dead. I'm thinking Ghostbuster style. We might have more than just zombies to worry about if that's the case.

So how do I think it might happen?

My own theory is that it would be a virus, because viruses are contagious and can have devastating effects on a body without necessarily killing their victims.  Would it be the Rabies virus, like some believe? Could be, but I'm leaning towards something brewed in a lab, or perhaps a vaccine gone wrong developed to combat some sort of biological weapon.

Whatever your favorite flavor of the zombie apocalypse, let's all hope it stays in the realm of fiction. But if it doesn't, it never hurts to be ready.

Do you have any zombie survival tips? Share them in the comments.


This is Zompoc 101 #1 of 4. In the next Zompoc 101 post, I'll propose some ways to prepare for the worst. Click here to read on.



******

Fearless

A survivor's account of the zombie apocalypse


After a vaccine meant to protect against a biological weapon backfires and turns those who are inoculated with it into zombies, a young woman, having survived the initial outbreak, now runs with a group of others who stick together for safety, not that it does them much good. When she picks up a notebook in a grocery store her group is looting, she decides to begin a journal for future generations (if there are any). (NaNoWriMo 2012)

Fearless is currently available for Kindle, only. Remember, you can download the Kindle app on other devices. Coming soon in paperback!


Fearless on Amazon.com

UK  CA  AU
 




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Epic Fantasy Review: The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

The Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time, #5)The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is forever taking...but I still love it.

The Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time #5) continues the story of the build up to the end of the world. The two major story lines in this installment are Rand's pursuit of the rogue Aiel that are following Couladin and Nynaeve's ongoing conflict with Moghedian. Of course, the number of characters featured in these two divergent tales is quite overwhelming, so I won't go into details here.

So here's what I like most about this story. First off, Matt becomes awesome in this book (against his will, but awesome nonetheless). I've always loved Matt's character in these books, and this is the tipping point for him. I also enjoy Nynaeve's trials and her feud with Moghedian. She's always been so overconfident, having become Wisdom of her village at a very young age, but certain events in this story really seem to put her in her place, paving the way for her to perhaps become a better, more likable person. This is a very important book for both Matt and Nynaeve.

Now, down to what I don't like. First off, ugh, I don't like the chase after the rogue Aiel. The images it brings to mind, what they find in the towns the Aiel have passed through, are horrific. That's part of it. Another part of it is the growing arrogance of Rand. Sure, he's found himself in a leadership position he didn't want, and he's a target for the Chosen and the Dark One's other minions, but still, that's no excuse for abandoning your core values. There are glimmers of his former goodness coming through, but his dubious sanity and growing mistrust and tendency to use those closest to him are deplorable. I recognize that it is necessary for his development to descend into darkness, but that doesn't mean I have to like the trip.

Finally, this book took me forever to get through this time around. Some of it is slow going, on top of the book being massive. The first half was such, and I almost considered dropping the book and jumping to the last in the series (I've read this one almost a dozen times, so I could have gotten away with it). The second half of the book was much more interesting and fast-paced, mostly due to the growing intrigue, the battles, and of course Matt's and Nynaeve's shining moments. That makes me feel better about my decision to stick it out.

I'm ready and excited to jump into book 6, but the ultimate goal is to finally make it to the last book in the series, which my husband assures me is one hundred percent worth slogging through all the books leading up to it. So, I will continue.

As for my recommendations, I definitely do recommend this series as a whole, though this isn't one of my favorite installments. I would say if you've gotten this far and have enjoyed the story up to this point, keep going. It will keep you busy for a while, but it's the journey that's the value in a work this massive. Keep in mind that The Wheel of Time is effectively one enormous novel. It's meant to be read in order and in its entirety, and that's what I recommend doing. Fans of epic fantasy, political intrigue, battles, and good vs. evil might like this series. Of course, if you had trouble getting into the first few books, I doubt that you'll fare much better with this one.


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Friday, August 8, 2014

Existential YA Review: Superunknown: Of Fairytales and Grunge by G.C. Huxley

Superunknown: Of Fairytales and GrungeSuperunknown: Of Fairytales and Grunge by G.C. Huxley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you're looking for something different, this might be the book for you. Superunknown is about Em, a girl who's just starting out at a new high school. She takes notice of a boy named Eido, who seems like a troublemaker. Even though she tries to keep her distance, she keeps getting caught up in stranger and stranger scenarios, and Eido seems to be oblivious to the absurdity despite being central to them.

This is an interesting book. I liked how 90s music, technology, and life is snuck into the story. For those who grew up in the 90s, it brings back memories. For younger generations, I imagine it gives them a peek into a much different world. Another thing I liked was the unfolding mystery and the unpredictability of the story melding in with the every day. The story feels original.

On the other hand, I felt some of the concepts to be a bit confusing. The ending, well, I'm not sure what really happened. I might need to read up on existentialism and try again to fully understand it. I feel like the message was that you have to enjoy life for what it is, not seek to know more than you're meant to know, and allow the meaning of life to remain a mystery. If you do these things, you'll find happiness. That's what I got out of it.

Overall, this is a good book, a bit different than what I normally read. I liked the characters and was intrigued by the concepts the story introduces, even though I was confused from time to time. People who like YA, but crave something a little more deep than the usual offerings may find this one to their liking.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest, non-reciprocal review.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

YA Review: Moonflower by E.D.C. Johnson

MoonflowerMoonflower by E.D.C. Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it, though it made me sad in places. Definitely rocks a love triangle.

Moonflower is not a typical YA shifter/werewolf love story, despite the love triangle and the fact that it features werewolf shifters. One of the things I love most about this story is the originality. Josephine is just a regular girl, but when she and her mom get in an accident, she blacks out only to awaken on another world. It just so happens that the royal family has the ability to change into wolves. The way Josephine and Lucius meet plays on her naivete and on Lucius being surprised that she doesn't realize he's really a human.

From there the story delves into the family and household dynamics. The older brother vs. the younger. The similarities between Josephine's father's illness and the Marquess (the brothers' father). I also enjoyed the way the servants and employees of the house interact. Josephine's lady's maid is so, well, normal. It's her first time in such a role and she wants to get it right, yet still she can't help but be herself. I loved how the two become friends.

The love triangle and the dynamics between the two brothers is pretty well done. Of course, I tended to like Lucius a little better, but I think the author did a great job making it a really hard decision for Josephine. And, as in real life, Josephine realizes that it isn't just a choice between the two young men, but more of a life choice. Does she really want to stay in this new world and abandon her mom? Does she want to be subject to the archaic role given to women in the feudal society she finds herself in? Is she even ready for commitment?

I suppose the only thing that left me a little down was how the story ends, and it does end in a rather final way. While the author might potentially decide to write more in this world, it seemed like this story is meant to stand alone. It's not a fairy tale, but rather a story of first love, of growth, and of making the best choices for yourself, even when they aren't the easy ones. It left me thinking and wondering. So, despite how I felt at the end, and maybe just a little bit because of that, I must say that I enjoyed it.

I would highly recommend this book to folks who enjoy books featuring a little romance, a little fantasy, and the feel of a historical fiction that just happens to feature men that can turn into wolves. I thought the book was well-written and well-edited and smoothly pulled me from chapter to chapter.

I was lucky to have found this book while it was on a free-promo day on Amazon, but I feel it's definitely worth buying even if you don't happen to come across it while it's free. I am pretty sure I'll be reading this again.

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