Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Release: Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Seven Days of Us
by Francesca Hornak

Release Date: 17OCT2017

A warm, wry, sharply observed debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays...

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.

For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.

As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

My Review:
Seven Days of us is a family drama centering around a family Christmas gathering. The Birches are under quarantine until it is confirmed their daughter, Olivia, hasn’t contracted the deadly Haag virus during her humanitarian efforts abroad. But it isn’t long before close kept secrets start coming to light, making for an awkward lock down.

I thought the story was very well done. The different characters, each of which takes turns as the focus of the story, are realistic and interesting. I enjoyed the build of tension as things progressed, but there were a lot of people to keep track of.

As a novel originating in Britain, I found it pretty well adapted for US readers. Most of the prose feels US, while the UK remains in the dialog of its British characters. It’s a comfortable balance.

As for originality, well, this strongly reminded me of some of the books I’ve read for book club. Common themes are explored through the eyes of the characters to good effect. Throughout the read, I found the tone and delivery somewhere between Everything I Never Told You and Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, both of which I enjoyed. I must admit, though, that I was disappointed in the outcome. It seemed on track for something upbeat and uplifting, but left me feeling a little down instead.

Overall, I really liked this story. I think folks who enjoy family dramas would like this. I also think this would make an excellent choice for book clubs. It’s deep enough for discussion, but still a rather straightforward and quick read.

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley.

About the Author:

Francesca Hornak is a British author, journalist and former columnist for the Sunday Times. Her debut novel Seven Days Of Us will be published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in October 2017. Little Island Productions has pre-empted TV rights to the book.

Francesca's work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Metro, Elle, Grazia, Stylist, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Red. She is the author of two nonfiction books, History of the World in 100 Modern Objects: Middle Class Stuff (and Nonsense) and Worry with Mother: 101 Neuroses for the Modern Mama.

Twitter: @FrancescaHornak

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fantasy Review: Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage #2) by Brian McClellan

The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage #2)
by Brian McClellan

The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions

Tamas's invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy's best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god.

In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly.

With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god-chef Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir's advancing army. Tamas's generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.

My Review:
This was a great book. Lots more battles, some intrigue, and a couple of surprising newcomers.

Taniel, Tamas and Adamat carry the bulk of the story on three different fronts. I thought each one well-thought out and paced, but the book flips between them constantly, so it can be annoying when you’re getting into one of them.

I loved the blend of black powder technology and magic. Overall, I’d recommend this to fans of fantasy who want something a little different.

I purchased my copy of this book.

About the Author:
Brian McClellan is an epic fantasy author. He studied writing under Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card and was an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.

Brian is an avid player of video games and reader of epic novels and history. His hobbies include making homemade jam from local berries and tending to his hive of honeybees. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, and cat.

Author Links:
Twitter @briantmcclellan

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Monday, October 2, 2017

New Release Review: Select by Marit Weisenberg

by Marit Weisenberg

Genre: YA Paranormal
Expected Publication: October 2, 2017 by Charlesbridge Teen

Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school.

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life?

My Review:
Select is a paranormal romance about Julia, a girl who’s banished to public high school for nearly blowing her family’s cover, and John, a broken tennis prodigy whose soul calls to hers.

I absolutely adored this book. The romance itself was sweet and yet still believable. And despite an immediate connection, there was no instalove. The progression felt natural and right. Adding in the supernatural complications only made this harder to put down.

I also welcomed the complexity of many of the supporting characters. Angus, Liv, Novak, and even John’s brother, all surprised me to one degree or another. I’d have them figured out and then they’d do something unexpected, but still in character. I think the author did a great job giving them unique voices.

Still, this was light enough of a read to be enjoyable without having to work for it.
So overall, I loved this book. I’d highly recommend this to fans of YA and paranormal romance. Young love, a bit of magic (sort of), and plenty of drama make this quite a read.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley.

Intrigued? Pick up a copy on Amazon.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Adventure Review: Third Daughter (The Royals of Dharia #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn

Third Daughter (The Royals of Dharia #1)
by Susan Kaye Quinn

Sneaking out of the palace wasn’t one of Aniri’s best ideas. But she’s the Third Daughter of the Queen of Dharia—zero responsibilities and zero royal duties. She’s just the backup daughter, in case her older sisters’ arranged marriages—to take the crown or broker an alliance—don’t quite work out. But once Aniri reaches her 18th birthday, she’ll be truly free… and then she can marry the charming fencing instructor she meets for fevered kisses in the forest.

But then the impossible happens—a marriage proposal. From a barbarian prince in the north, no less. And if Aniri refuses, the threat of their new flying weapon might bring war.

So she agrees to the young prince’s proposal, but only as a subterfuge to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she doesn’t love. But once she arrives in the sweeping mountains of the north, she discovers the prince has his own secrets… and saving her country may end up breaking her heart.

This Bollywood-style royal romance takes you to an alternate East Indian world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue.

THIRD DAUGHTER is the first book in the Royals of Dharia trilogy.

My Review:
Bride to be or spy? Aniri, the third daughter of Dharia, is just weeks away from her 18th birthday when she will be safe from ever having to marry for political reasons, and then comes the proposal. Aghast at the unexpected twist in her fate, Aniri accepts, but never intends to follow through.

Aniri is awesome: strong female character, daring climber, amateur spy. I found her a delight to read. She follows her heart, but tries to do the right thing. Across from her, Ash and Devesh play their parts perfectly. Devesh has stolen Aniri’s heart, while Ash wishes for nothing more than to secure his throne by marrying her. I really enjoyed how their story progresses.

Oh, and the steampunk technology! Very well played. Man-shaped machines and infrastructure. Rumors of flying machines. Other things I’m not going to spoil.

Overall, a fantastic adventure. I’d strongly recommend this to folks who enjoy fantasy adventure with a bit of steampunk and romance. It’s the first in a series, but it ends in a satisfying way.

I purchased my copy of this book.

About the Author:

Susan Kaye Quinn is a rocket scientist turned speculative fiction author who now uses her PhD to invent cool stuff in books. Her works range from young adult science fiction to adult future-noir, with side trips into royal fantasy romance and middle grade. Her bestselling novels and short stories have been optioned for Virtual Reality, translated into German and French, and featured in several anthologies.

She writes full-time from Chicago, inventing mind powers and dreaming of the Singularity.

GET A FREE STORY: http://smarturl.it/SKQsubscribe

Sue’s website: www.SusanKayeQuinn.com

Chat with her about our coming robot overlords in her Facebook group: http://smarturl.it/SKQFBGroup

young adult science fiction
• Defiance (Prequel to the Legacy Human)
• The Legacy Human (Book 1)
• The Duality Bridge (Book 2)
• The Illusory Prophet (Book 3)
• The Stories of Singularity #1-4 (Novella Box Set)
• Awakening (Stories of Singularity #5)

young adult science fiction
Kira's Story
• Open Minds (Book 1)
• Closed Hearts (Book 2)
• Free Souls (Book 3)
Zeph's Story
• Locked Tight (Book Four)
• Cracked Open (Book Five)
• Broken Wide (Book Six)...coming soon

Mindjack Short Story Collection (Novella Box Set)

sweet royal romance
• Third Daughter (Book 1)
• Second Daughter (Book 2)
• First Daughter (Book 3)

adult future-noir
• Season One
• Season Two

(Author information and bio from Amazon)

Books in this series:

Monday, September 18, 2017

YA Review: Hopeless (Hopeless #1) by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless (Hopeless #1)
by Colleen Hoover

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

My Review:
I was expecting a blend of teen angst and romance, but this one surprised me with its depth. The love story is intense and satisfying, but underpinning all of it is a deeper mystery.

Despite it being book one of a series, it felt complete in itself. The story tackles some heavy topics, and its characters are broken in more ways than seem apparent at first.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to fans of YA.

I picked this up during a free promotion.

About the Author:

Colleen Hoover is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including the #1 bestseller, Hopeless. She lives in Texas with her husband and three children. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a book subscription service which donates 100% of its proceeds to charity. She also owns The Bookworm Box, a specialty bookstore located in Sulphur Springs, Tx.

Her novel, Confess, the Goodreads Choice Award winner for Best Romance is now available as a show on Go90.com, starring Katie Leclerc and Ryan Cooper.

You can follow Colleen on her very active Facebook page at www.facebook.com/authorcolleenhoover and on Instagram and Twitter @colleenhoover

For tour dates or more information, please visit www.colleenhoover.com.

Find more books by this author on Amazon.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fantasy Review: Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1)
by Brian McClellan

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan.

My Review:
Solid, entertaining story told from several perspectives. Partly political, partly mystery.

Decent world building and intriguing magic system: the normal sorcerers (with magic gloves), the uber sorcerers, gifted folks with very specific, individual magics, powder mages (gunpowder fuels their magic), and gods.

At the 75% mark, it started to feel a bit long. This is a pretty hefty book.

Overall, great and would recommend to people who like fantasy but maybe want a break from elves and dwarves.

I bought this book for my husband and borrowed it after he'd finished the trilogy. Good stuff.

About the Author:
Brian McClellan is an epic fantasy author. He studied writing under Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card and was an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.

Brian is an avid player of video games and reader of epic novels and history. His hobbies include making homemade jam from local berries and tending to his hive of honeybees. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, and cat.

Author Links:
Twitter @briantmcclellan

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Find more books by this author on Amazon.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Science Fiction Review: Children of the Mind (The Ender Quintet #4) Orson Scott Card

Children of the Mind (The Ender Quintet #4)
by Orson Scott Card

With this conclusion to his famous "Ender's Saga, " Card returns to the story of Ender Wiggin, hero of the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Xenocide. Now his adopted world, Lusitania, is threatened by the same planet-destroying weapon that he himself used so many years before. Only Jane, the computer intelligence that has evolved with him over 3,000 years can save the three sentient races of Lusitania.

My Review:
I didn't expect it would end this way, but it was cool. Some serious suspense and a lot more locations and intrigue than in the others, which were mostly on Lusitania.

I loved the story and would recommend it to fans of science fiction. Definitely should read first three, including Ender's Game, first. It is not a standalone.

I borrowed this from the library.


If you're curious why this is the conclusion of the story, but book 4 of 5, the reason is that the final book, Ender in Exile actually is set chronologically between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, but it was written last. I haven't read it yet, but I'm hoping to find it at the library.

About the Author:
Orson Scott Card is best known for his science fiction novel Ender's Game and its many sequels that expand the Ender Universe into the far future and the near past. Those books are organized into the Ender Quintet, the five books that chronicle the life of Ender Wiggin; the Shadow Series, that follows on the novel Ender's Shadow and are set on Earth; and the Formic Wars series, written with co-author Aaron Johnston, that tells of the terrible first contact between humans and the alien "Buggers." Card has been a working writer since the 1970s. Beginning with dozens of plays and musical comedies produced in the 1960s and 70s, Card's first published fiction appeared in 1977 -- the short story "Gert Fram" in the July issue of The Ensign, and the novelette version of "Ender's Game" in the August issue of Analog.

The novel-length version of Ender's Game, published in 1984 and continuously in print since then, became the basis of the 2013 film, starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin. Card was born in Washington state, and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he runs occasional writers' workshops and directs plays. He frequently teaches writing and literature courses at Southern Virginia University.

He is the author many sf and fantasy novels, including the American frontier fantasy series "The Tales of Alvin Maker" (beginning with Seventh Son), There are also stand-alone science fiction and fantasy novels like Pastwatch and Hart's Hope. He has collaborated with his daughter Emily Card on a manga series, Laddertop. He has also written contemporary thrillers like Empire and historical novels like the monumental Saints and the religious novels Sarah and Rachel and Leah. Card's recent work includes the Mithermages books (Lost Gate, Gate Thief), contemporary magical fantasy for readers both young and old. Card lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, He and Kristine are the parents of five children and several grandchildren.

Source: http://us.macmillan.com/author/orsonscottcard

Find more books by this author on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Apocalyptic Review: Assassins (Left Behind #6) by LaHaye and Jenkins

Assassins (Left Behind #6)
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

The members of the Tribulation Force face their most dangerous challenges. As international fugitives, they struggle to find supplies for safe houses around the world. In despair over so many lost lives, Rayford Steele and Buck Williams make plans to dethrone Nicolae Carpathia and expose him as the Antichrist.

Meanwhile, Carpathia has been busy rebuilding roads, airports, and a cellular/solar satellite phone system—all designed to help him become the supreme ruler of the world. Many believers want him stopped, but who will fulfill Scripture and help bring about the Antichrist's death?

My Review:
It's pretty good. Not quite sure who actually does the job in the end. The Christians are rather murderous in this, too.

The whole story is leading up to the demise of the anti-christ, who is supposed to be taken out at a very specific time. His death is the mark of the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

One of the things I like about these stories is that even though the Tribulation Force has an idea what's coming from studying Revelations, the way things actually play out is always a shock. It pulls you along.

Overall, recommended for folks who like Christian reads, apocalyptic stories, and literal interpretations of the bible.

Borrowed my copy from a friend.

About the Authors: 

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins. He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins.

He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Jerry Bruce Jenkins is an American novelist and biographer. He is best known as co-author of the Left Behind series of books with Tim LaHaye. Jenkins has written over 185 books, including mysteries, historical fiction, biblical fiction, cop thrillers, international spy thrillers, and children's adventures, as well as non-fiction. His works usually feature Christians as protagonists. In 2005, Jenkins and LaHaye ranked 9th in Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary list of Hall of Fame authors based on books sold at Amazon.com during its first 10 years. Jenkins now teaches writers to become authors here at his website. He and his wife Dianna have three sons and eight grandchildren.

Books in this Series: