Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Case of the Cursed Dodo (The Endangered Files #1) by Jake G. Panda

The Case of the Cursed Dodo (The Endangered Files #1)
by Jake G. Panda

If you're looking for trouble, you've found it. The name's Jake G. Panda, and trouble seems to follow me wherever I go. I work in the protection racket at a flophouse for endangered critters called the Last Resort. I'm the hotel snoop. The resident fuzz. It's my job to keep these guests safe and outta harm's way. This is the first of my many misadventures. A wild and woolly mystery involving a lost suitcase, a green bird, and a bunch of double-crossing animals. I'm calling this jungle noir The Case of the Cursed Dodo.

This hilarious first installment of The Endangered Files follows Jake, a hardboiled panda detective, and an unusual cast of endangered creatures on a globe-trotting adventure that will appeal to young and old alike.

My Review:
I read this book back in 2014. Now it's out as an audiobook, and the author asked if I wouldn't mind giving the new production a listen and share my thoughts. I must say, it delivers much better as audio, set up like an old fashioned radio adventure from back when radio was the source of evening stories and entertainment, not TV.

This is a multifaceted story, featuring a private detective story, a mystery, and a ton of endangered species filling the cast. Jake G. Panda is hard on the trail of his friend, who goes missing investigating the cursed dodo. Aided by a secret underground and a former love, he follows the trail of clues and narrowly escapes danger. It comes across a little bit cliche in places, but that seems purposeful, a nod to the noir genre.

Another interesting thing about this audiobook rendition is that it isn't simply read, but performed by a full cast of voice actors and actresses, accompanied by subtle audio background noises and music and narrated by a very radio-worthy announcer type. It isn't like some books where the reader of the moment performs the different voices, it truly is like an audio play. If Jake is talking, the actor playing Jake voices his lines. If Jake does something, the narrator describes it.

Anyhow, I liked it and would definitely recommend the audiobook over the ebook. Folks who are looking for something different might like this. My impression is that this would probably be better enjoyed and more relevant to adults than children.

About the Author:
Jake G. Panda is a wildlife investigator. A hardboiled Winnie-the-Pooh. He likes bamboo and saving endangered animals. He is the author of The Endangered Files, a mystery series about his misadventures in the protection business.

His partner in crime, the fella who helps write these books because, let's be honest, it's not easy typing with big, clunky bear paws, resides somewhere in New England. He has written his fair share of stuff, mostly for the big screen. And some of it has actually been projected. He likes to keep a low profile and lets Jake do all the talking.

Feel free to contact Jake at jakegpanda@gmail.com
Website: http://www.endangeredfiles.com
Twitter: @JakeGPandaPI
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/JakeGPanda

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

ARC Review: Immortal Creators by Jill Bowers

Immortal Creators
by Jill Bowers

Expected Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers

Sixteen-year-old author Scott Beck never wanted to be an Immortal Writer—not after his father was killed on a mission attempting to dispatch his own villain. Scott blames Shakespeare and the Writers for his father's untimely demise, but no amount of hatred will prevent the oncoming alien attack, which has come over to reality straight from Scott's book.

Scott is forced to collect his characters—an Air Force colonel, two of the best pilots on Earth, and an alien enthusiast from the year 2134—and defeat the alien king before Earth is obliterated by his ships. But an odd sickness Scott calls his Writing Fever might just kill him before the aliens have the chance.

Will Scott be able to defeat the monsters he created, or will the world end in flames?

My review:
Immortal Creators is the sequel to Immortal Writers and seems to set up quite nicely for a third book. The main premise of these books is what would happen if the greatest storytellers literally become immortal and bring their stories to life.

I very much enjoyed this book. Blending together conflicts from Scott’s sci-fi characters, the Immortal Writers, and Scott’s Writing Fever, there was a lot going on, but I had no trouble keeping up. I enjoyed how Curtis and Liz came back in this one as supporting characters, and I think having to fight off a technologically superior alien invasion definitely kicked it up a notch. Once I got going in the book, I had a hard time putting it down.

As for the set up for the third book, wow. I had no clue that was where this was going, and I’m anxious to see what happens next. If you’re reading cliffhanger into that, you’d be right, but the primary focus of this book is resolved, it just sets up the next in the ongoing storyline. I thought it was well done.

Overall, I loved this book, and I feel it outdid the first in the series. Highly recommended to folks who get a kick out of the idea of fiction leaking into reality.

I received the ARC of this book from NetGalley.

About the Author:
Jill Bowers is a technical writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She is one of two composers-in-residence for the Westminster Bell Choir and has a great love for all music. She used to be the writer and host for the award-winning radio show Olde Tyme Radio on the Aggie Radio Station at USU and has dabbled in stage play writing as well.

Jill enjoys attending Utah's Comic Con and Fantasy Con and has an unhealthy attachment to Netflix. She lives in Utah and has a lovely dachshund that needs to lose weight because she probably doesn't get enough walks and is too cute to not feed. Jill attended Utah State University for their creative writing program, where she actually specialized in creative nonfiction rather than fiction. However, Jill loves delving into different worlds in fantasy and sci-fi novels and is excited to have people enter the worlds she has created.

Author Links:
w: www.immortalauthor.com/
t: @Jilliard08
f: facebook.com/immortalauthorjill
g: goodreads.com/user/show/2509616-jill-bowers
p: pinterest.com/jilliard08/
i: instagram.com/jilliard08/
y: youtube.com/channel/UC4FH9bS51qVga7rPot7awTw

Other Books in this Series:

You can check out my review of Immortal Writers here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fantasy Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

by Marissa Meyer

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

My Review.
Great story. Tragic.
I was on the waitlist for this one for a long time, months I think, at the local library. Finally came up and I must say it was worth the wait.

The author flawlessly carries off this origin story for Alice in Wonderland’s infamous Queen of Hearts, taking the reader through Cath’s first true love, her daring attempts to dodge fate, the sinister threat of the Jabberwock, and the inexorable pull of her own sense of right and wrong. All of this makes the story memorable, unique, and surprisingly suspenseful, even when one can’t help but know how it has to end.

Overall, I loved this book and strongly recommend it to folks who love twists on classic fairytales.
I borrowed the audiobook from the library.

Add it on Goodreads.
Find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:

Marissa Meyer is a fangirl at heart, with a closet full of costumes, a Harry Potter wand on her desk, and a Tuxedo Mask doll hanging from her rear view mirror. Han and Leia are still her OTP. She may or may not be a cyborg.

Marissa writes books for teens, including the NYT bestselling series: The Lunar Chronicles.
Follow her blog or sign up for her newsletter at http://www.marissameyer.com.

Check out Marissa's other books on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Thriller Review: Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1)
by Rachel Caine

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

My Review:
I really liked this one! Engrossing and kept me up too late getting through it.

Looks like the next book comes out this month, but I can't wait for all three to be out. I think I'd rather read these all in a row. It's one of those that really does leave you wanting more.

Yes, while this is a #1, you don't often expect thrillers (even in a series) to end with a cliffhanger, especially one that's just so huge.

Anyway, very good thriller and worth the read, but it is just the beginning.

I purchased my copy of this book.

About the Author:
Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the smash hit bestselling thriller Stillhouse Lake, the internationally bestselling Morganville Vampires series, the Great Library series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcast Season series, the Revivalist series, and the acclaimed YA novel Prince of Shadows.
The pilot for the crowdfunded show MORGANVILLE is now available on Amazon Prime as streaming video.

She was born at White Sands Missile Range, which people who know her say explains a lot. She has been an accountant, a professional musician, and an insurance investigator, and ultimately a corporate management executive before leaving to write full time. She and her husband, comic historian/actor/artist R. Cat Conrad, live in Texas.

Visit her webpage at WWW.RACHELCAINE.COM.

Follow her on Twitter, Goodreads and Amazon.

The next book comes out on December 12, 2017:

Audiobook Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, Simon Prebble (Narrator)

Nineteen Eighty-Four
by George Orwell, Simon Prebble (Narrator)

Blackstone Audio presents a new recording of this dramatically popular book.

George Orwell depicts a gray, totalitarian world dominated by Big Brother and its vast network of agents, including the Thought Police - a world in which news is manufactured according to the authorities' will and people live tepid lives by rote.

Winston Smith, a hero with no heroic qualities, longs only for truth and decency. But living in a social system in which privacy does not exist and where those with unorthodox ideas are brainwashed or put to death, he knows there is no hope for him.

The year 1984 has come and gone, yet George Orwell's nightmare vision of the world we were becoming in 1949 is still the great modern classic portrait of a negative Utopia.

My Review:
It took me quite some time to get around to reading (listening) to this book, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed.

It boggles the mind how pervasively fictional (in the context of the story) every known fact and history in the book is. The concept of double think, well, it’s amazing and seems like it wouldn’t be possible, but the way George Orwell explains it in the book, gives examples, and shows it happening to the characters makes it start feeling pretty real by the end of the story.

I found it particularly chilling how the government run media in the story proactively rewrote history, made all the more so by how easily the citizens of that future dystopia instantly adjusted their own perceptions of history to match.

Then, the romance. I had no idea that this story, with all its reputation of dystopia and Big Brother, was actually a tragic romance. Not only did it make the story hard to put down, but it perfectly illustrates just how well Orwell’s society controls every aspect of those who reside in it.

As for relevance? Well, it’s eerie and eye opening. Having read this, I find myself paying closer attention to trends in what stories the media shares, what they say, and how certain popular figures respond to it. While the story takes the ideas of social and thought control to the extreme, current events make it seem rather possible that the concepts in the book aren’t quite as fictional as one would hope.

Overall, an excellent and chilling story. Highly recommended. The audiobook performance by Simon Prebble was fantastic.

I borrowed this audiobook from the library.

*Note that the image I used is for a boxed set of this book along with Animal Farm. It was the closest match I could find to the one I read from the library.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review: Only Tim Sent Flowers by George Kaplan

Only Tim Sent Flowers
by George Kaplan

Mary Louise, a bookish, redheaded, freckle-faced, eighteen-year-old virgin, who is unaware she has Asperger’s Syndrome, dispenses with Tim, her loving but far too serious and conventional high school boyfriend, then thrusts herself, groin first, into the 1960s sexual revolution, pioneering concepts such as friends with benefits and serial monogamy, while earning two college degrees in statistics. Nicknamed Tookie by her doting father, she engages in often humorous escapades with innumerable unsuitable lovers, whom she seduces with her oral virtuosity. But through it all, the one thing she really wants escapes her—a man who will truly love her, despite her faults, and give her a daughter.

My Review:
Only Tim Sent Flowers reads like a memoir. The main character, Mary Louise, or Tookie, becomes obsessed with experiencing and learning everything about sex.

I actually thought her relationship with her first boyfriend, Tim, was kind of sad. He’s very sweet and respectful, and he loves her, but it isn’t enough for Mary Louise. She loses interest in him when her attempts to get him to be her first fail. I kind of wanted her to get back with him, but the story is true to both her own and Tim’s personalities. He needs more and she wants less, or perhaps just different. It’s just too bad.

Anyway, that set aside, a good chunk of the book is Tookie cycling her way through as many fellows as humanly possible, studying and applying what she learns exuberantly. Some of her actual relationships are pretty interesting side stories, but again, I found them sad. Her sense of accomplishment and self-worth come at a cost I don’t think she realizes. She wants love, but only knows one variable in the formula.

I thought the fact that she has undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome added an interesting dynamic. Her behavior and preferences seem over the top until you take that into account. This characteristic is only overtly mentioned in the book’s description and the author’s note at the end, but it defines her.
As for the sexual encounters, well, nothing is left to the imagination. It’s very straightforward and detailed. One is left without a doubt about every one of Tookie’s likes and dislikes, and why. Some of the Asperger’s characteristics seemed to come out in these as well, which I thought showed some pretty good attention to detail. It is definitely meant for adult readers as there is a nearly constant stream of sex and sexual pursuit.

As for the storytelling, it comes across as rather factual and direct, a style typical of memoirs. This book should not be mistaken for a romance.

Overall, I thought this was a really good book, though it can be sad at times. I think the book might appeal to adults who enjoy fictional memoirs.

I received an ARC of this book from the author.

About the Author:
After a career of chasing, and being chased by, spies and assorted thugs across national monuments while being mistaken for Cary Grant, George Kaplan hung up his shoulder holster and used the money to buy a computer to serve as his word processor. Although well versed in writing after-action summaries, Kaplan had no experience with writing fiction, other than his expense reports. Government repercussions about modeling characters after his cohorts and enemies would have been far too risky, so he fabricated a heroine who has qualities he'd seen a few of on each of a number of women he'd rubbed shoulders (and sometimes more) with, during his long career undercover. Kaplan's first novel, Only Tim Sent Flowers, launches his Tookie series about an undiagnosed Aspie girl who perseveres through numerous unexpected adventures.
Author's website https://blackopalbooks.com/george-kaplan/

Other links:
Book Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAHvbJ7MEac
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Only-Tim-Sent-Flowers-Revised/dp/1626947295/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36176303-only-tim-sent-flowers

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Middle Grade Review: Journey to Skioria by Kandi J. Wyatt

Journey to Skioria 
by Kandi J. Wyatt

Tania is lost, shipwrecked on an unfamiliar shore. With no friends or family, the nine-year-old girl must make her way through the realm of the woodland people to a town she's never heard of. With unexpected allies from the forest, Tania departs on a wild adventure where storms rage and the forces of nature do their very best to end her journey before it has truly begun.

In a land full of forests, oceans, and small people, what will it take for one young girl to make it home alive?

Lord of the Rings meets Narnia in this standalone middle grade fantasy by author Kandi J Wyatt.

My Review:
Journey from Skioria follows Tania, a little girl who finds herself shipwrecked in a mysterious land. She quickly makes friends with the tiny inhabitants, and they agree to accompany her safely back to her family. Along the way she experiences the wonders of Skioria and it's neighbors.

What I liked about the story most was Fyrh's story. It had some depth and a good resolution. I also enjoyed some of the lore and tales told by the adults along the journey, but they were still all rather short and simple. I also enjoyed some of the pranks, but they did tend to make the adults seem more childlike than the children at times.

I was a little disappointed by how Tania, despite being the focus of the story, took a back seat to all the antics of her companions. She's basically an observer, and besides a little bit of conflict she perceives on behalf of Fyrh, there isn't much danger or risk for her to overcome.

As for the illustrations, different ones are featured at the start of each chapter, but I couldn't identify them in the context. Captions would have helped. I really wanted to know who belonged to each image.

Overall, it's a pleasant read, but without a lot of meat. I imagine younger middle graders might like it, and I didn't find anything in the story objectionable, but I wouldn't really recommend it to adult readers.

I received the review copy of this book from the author's publicist.

About the Author: 
Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.”

To learn more, visit:
Blog:  http://kandijwyatt.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kandi-Wyatt-author/647179792053374
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/kandijwyatt
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/kandiwyatt3/
Instagram:  https://instagram.com/kandijwyatt/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KandiWyatt
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kandi-J.-Wyatt/e/B00ZTC4T10
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13817774.Kandi_J_Wyatt

Book Links:
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35913848-journey-from-skioria
Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074VG34TR
Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/journey-from-skioria-kandi-j-wyatt/1126984307
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/journey-from-skioria/id1272359137

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

YA Review: Lakeside by Amanda Linehan

by Amanda Linehan

Badminton, Trivia, Evil Spirits. Welcome to Lakeside...

Seventeen-year-old Jemi is the new girl in town. Again.

After moving with her mother to the town of Lakeside, Jemi finds herself thrown into a busy life with new friends. Amid an array of new activities, she volunteers to clean up the town lake and its surrounding park, which is rumored by superstitious locals to be controlled by evil spirits.

When her project is sabotaged by a jealous classmate, Jemi is ready to throw in the towel. But with the help of her friends, an eccentric millionaire, and an array of memorable townspeople, Jemi takes back her project and learns that sometimes the way to success is to hang on and let go.

Because in Lakeside, there’s always more than what meets the eye.

My Review:
Jemi just wants to get in enough community service hours to graduate. Instead she finds herself heading up an impossible project to bring to life Lakeside’s embarrassing namesake.

The story is all about finding strength in yourself and following your vision, even when you feel inadequate to the task. Jemi feels real in how she, as a teenager, handles a challenge that quickly becomes more than she expected. Even so, there is a glimmer of the paranormal and a small hint of romantic interest, just enough to up the complexity and interest in the story.

Besides that, I’d have liked to know if there were some background behind the spiders. They seem to be linked to the spirits Jemi learns about, but why?

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I think folks who like reading about teens who overcome obstacles would like this book, while readers who expect more than a glimmer of the paranormal may be disappointed.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

About the Author:

Amanda Linehan is a fiction writer, indie publisher and INFP. She has published three novels and a couple handfuls of short stories. Her short fiction has been featured on Every Day Fiction.

She lives in Maryland, likes to be outside and writes with her cat sleeping on the floor beside her desk.

Twitter @amandalinehan
Author Site: http://amandalinehan.com/

Other books I've read by this author:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fairy Tale Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

by Neil Gaiman

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous—in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.

My Review:
This was a fun, yet short fairy tale. The hero's a bit clueless in love, but the adventure was of a good pace, and the tension from spending time in the shoes of the other folks after the fallen star kept me engaged.

Overall, I really liked this, though the romance didn't really pack a lot of emotion behind it. Recommended for folks who like fairy tale adventures.

I borrowed this from the library.

About the Author:
I make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean's MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON).

In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at www.neilgaiman.com more or less up to date. ---from Amazon Author Profile

Also, check out the author's blog on Goodreads. Looks like he posts there regularly. Find more books by this author on Amazon.

Available on Amazon. I like this cover better than the one on Goodreads. :-)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fantasy Review: Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3) by Brian McClelland

The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3)
by Brian McClellan

The capital has fallen...
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided...
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one...
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed...

THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC is the epic conclusion that began with Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.

My Review:
A solid conclusion to the Powder Mage Trilogy.

Inspector Adamat was a delight in this one, though I very much enjoyed Bo and Mila. Taniel didn’t play as strong of a role as I’d hoped, and Tamas’s character seemed a bit weaker in this one. Still, I felt connected with all of them.

Everything converges into a surprising but satisfying outcome. All the intrigue in Adopest, most uncovered by the diligent and gifted Adamat, pulls it all together.

Overall, I loved this book and the trilogy. Strongly recommended.

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

To receive announcements, coupons, news, and more regarding the Powder Mage Universe, sign up for Brian's newsletter today!

Find more books by this author on Amazon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sci-fi Thriller Review: Split Second by Douglas E. Richards

Split Second
by Douglas E. Richards

What if you found a way to send something back in time? But not millions of years back, to the age of the dinosaur. Not a day back. Not even a minute back.

What if you could only send something back less than the blink of an eye? Would this be of any use? You wouldn't have nearly enough time to right a wrong, change an event, or win a lottery.

Nathan Wexler is a brilliant physicist who thinks he's found a way to send matter a split second back into the past. But before he can even confirm his findings, he and his wife-to-be, Jenna Morrison, find themselves in a battle for their very lives. Because while time travel to an instant earlier seems useless, Jenna comes to learn that no capability in history has ever been more profound or far-reaching.

Now, as Jenna fights to defeat the powerful forces arrayed against her, nothing less than the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. . .

My Review:
Split Second was a pleasant surprise. I picked it up because I was in the mood for a thriller, and I couldn’t resist a thriller paired with time travel.

This one turned out to be hard science fiction. Nearly as much attention given to the real and fictional science as to the plot and characters, but it all worked really well. I must say I enjoyed this tremendously.

The twist on time travel in this book was like nothing I’ve read elsewhere. Kind of hard to wrap your mind around, but very well done in the context of this book. I’m still reeling from the conclusion. Should I be happy? Sad? Confused? I think I’m all three, but in a good way.

I recommend this to folks who love science fiction, thrillers and time travel based in scientific theory.

I purchased my copy of this book.

About the Author:

Douglas E. Richards was born on May 7th, 1962. He grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio with his parents and his sister, Pam. He went to Finneytown High School, and then graduated with a degree in microbiology from Ohio State University, a master's degree in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin, and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.

Douglas now lives in San Diego, California with his wife, Kelly, his two children, and his two dogs.

Sound like something you'd like?
Pick up a copy of your own or find more books by this author on Amazon.

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

To receive announcements, coupons, news, and more regarding the Powder Mage Universe, sign up for Brian's newsletter today!

Find more books by this author on Amazon.

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.