Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Thriller Review: Transcend (Transcend Duet #1) by Jewel E. Ann

Transcend (Transcend Duet #1)
by Jewel E. Ann

“In another life, she was my forever.”

An unexpected tragedy leaves Professor Nathaniel Hunt a widower alone with a newborn baby.

He hires a nanny. She’s young, but well-qualified, with a simple life, a crazy name obsession, and a boyfriend she met at the grocery store.

Over time, he discovers she knows things about him—things that happened before she was born—like a hidden scar on his head, his favorite pizza, and how he cheated on a high school Spanish test.

She speaks familiar words and shares haunting memories that take him back to over two decades earlier when he lost his best friend in a tragic accident.

“I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when you realize I’m not her.”

Transcend is a sexy, mind-bending journey that uncovers possibilities, challenges beliefs, and begets the age-old question: is there life after death?

My Review:
This was an interesting read. I kept thinking it would turn into some sort of love triangle, but it didn’t. It was rather refreshing.

Overall, I’d recommend this to folks who enjoy a bit of a thriller, some uncomplicated romance, and a bit of the paranormal.

I purchased my copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author:
Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.

With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.

After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.

When she's not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course...heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.

Visit her and sign up for updates at: www.jeweleann.com, Twitter @JewelE_Ann, or Facebook www.facebook.com/authorjeweleann.

Drop her a message at author@jeweleann.com. She'd love to hear from you!

Bio sourced from author's Amazon profile.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thriller Review: Bone Music (Burning Girl #1) by Christopher Rice

Bone Music (Burning Girl #1)
by Christopher Rice

There’s more than one way to stoke the flames of revenge…

Charlotte Rowe spent the first seven years of her life in the hands of the only parents she knew—a pair of serial killers who murdered her mother and tried to shape Charlotte in their own twisted image. If only the nightmare had ended when she was rescued. Instead, her real father exploited her tabloid-ready story for fame and profit—until Charlotte finally broke free from her ghoulish past and fled. Just when she thinks she has buried her personal hell forever, Charlotte is swept into a frightening new ordeal. Secretly dosed with an experimental drug, she’s endowed with a shocking new power—but pursued by a treacherous corporation desperate to control her.

Except from now on, if anybody is going to control Charlotte, it’s going to be Charlotte herself. She’s determined to use the extraordinary ability she now possesses to fight the kind of evil that shattered her life—by drawing a serial killer out from the shadows to face the righteous fury of a victim turned avenger.

My Review:
An intriguing book with plenty of action.

Charlotte, who was raised by the serial killers who murdered her mom, is tricked into becoming a superhuman crime fighter by someone she trusts.

I particularly enjoyed the method by which Charlotte activates her new powers. The knowledge that they are there directly interfering with her ability to use them caused some serious tension.

While this is a good read on its own, it does build to a set up for more installments. This one comes off a bit like an origin story, which for me is a positive. I love origin stories. Wondering where this one is going, though.

Overall, pretty good story. I’d recommend it to fans of thrillers with a bit of science fiction/superpowers thrown in.

I purchased my copy of this book.

About the Author:

 Cathryn Farnsworth Photography
By the age of 30, Christopher Rice had published four New York Times bestselling thrillers, received a Lambda Literary Award and been declared one of People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive.

His two novels of dark supernatural suspense, THE HEAVENS RISE and THE VINES, were both finalists for the Bram Stoker Award. He recently entered the erotic romance genre with three works in all new series called The Desire Exchange. They include THE FLAME, THE SURRENDER GATE and KISS THE FLAME. His debut novel, A DENSITY OF SOULS, was published when the author was just 22 years old. A controversial and overnight bestseller, it was greeted with a landslide of media attention, much of it devoted to the fact that Christopher is the son of famed vampire chronicler, Anne Rice.

BONE MUSIC, the first installment in his new Burning Girl series, was released March 1st, 2018, and the sequel, BLOOD ECHO, will be released in February 2019.

With his best friend, New York Times bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher hosts the YouTube channel THE DINNER PARTY SHOW WITH CHRISTOPHER RICE & ERIC SHAW QUINN (#TDPS). THE DINNER PARTY SHOW began as a podcast and Internet radio show. You can download and stream all of their episodes at www.TDPS.tv. He lives in West Hollywood, California.

Author Links:

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Steampunk YA Review: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1)
by Gail Carriger

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

My Review:
This story is a delight. Sophronia, a tomboy, finds herself shuffled off to finishing school, only to discover that it isn’t quite the normal kind.

I simply adore this book, especially as an audiobook. The characters are delightful and varied, the steampunk paranormal mix is intriguing and feels natural in the world the author has created.

Overall, strongly recommended to folks who enjoy YA with a twist. Nothing like a bit of etiquette mixed with a bit of bladework!

I borrowed this audiobook from the library. I was, and am, delighted that all four of the Finishing School books were at my library in audio. Of course, I devoured them as soon as they each came off hold.

About the Author:

Photo by Vanessa Applegate
Gail Carriger writes comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance (and the sexy San Andreas Shifter series as G L Carriger). Her books include the Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol, and Supernatural Society series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea.

Join the Chirrup for sneak peeks & giveaways! http://gailcarriger.com/chirrup

More links:
Amazon Author Page
Twitter @gailcarriger

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Epic Fantasy Review: Toils of the Valiant (The Lael Chronicles #2) by Julius Bailey

Toils of the Valiant: Book Two of the Chronicles of Vrandalin (The Lael Chronicles #2)
by Julius Bailey


The battle for Darfrandor is over, but there is neither time nor mood for celebration. Having received word of the approaching power of the Dread Palace, time is yet again in short supply for Brandegan, Allon, and Merch—and all of Vrandalin with them.

Heeding lessons learned from before and during the battle with the Morkathleam, Brandegan decides to leave Darfrandor without delay. Though he renders a stark warning to the people of the capital that there can be no victory in the fight against Ezirg Haur without the intervention of the Ayestærè, he begins to feel in his heart that the Vellneranians will never again have faith. Urging them to flee south on a desperate journey to Krandarmain Ilse, he leaves them to their choice. Yet the journey south will present Brandegan himself with hard choices to grapple, and force the silver-haired man to confront not only perils of the future, but burdens of the past.

For Allon Bracken, the way forward seems both clear and clouded. His will knows that he is not the same man that fled Varalel, yet his heart will soon discover that some wounds remain tender long. He must come to terms with both shortly, for in this time of final deeds, the hurting and the lost, the fearful and the hopeless, commoner and noble alike, will need someone to lead them.

As for Merch Provender, his difficulties come in many forms. From the worry over his home village, to the increasingly constant necessity to kill or be killed…to the often withheld thoughts and feelings of a new traveling companion. Yet all these difficulties must be overcome, for the clock is counting, and ale won’t last forever.

But for Parma the healer, leagues to the south in the proud city of Mariz, darkness has already arrived. Only newly loosening the grip of cold policies enacted against the southeasterners by Governor Parfidy, she is forced to push back against the malice of mysterious bandits who threaten the lives of those she protects. But in doing so she discovers a sinister plot against Mariz itself, and soon finds herself fighting the ghosts and foes from a past wrought with heartache. It will cost her bitterly.

Sacrifices are made, bonds are broken, and the powers of the realm are shaken in this epic conclusion to the tale that began in Strife of the Mighty. Let the faithful keep strong.

My Review:
Toils of the Valiant is the second in the Lael Chronicles, a story set in a fantasy world beset by a growing evil that threatens the people of Vrandalin. Brandegan, the ageless warrior, leads Merch and Allon, and new companion, Lairen, on a quest to Mariz, while in Mariz, Parma and Lora work against a deceptive threat to the southeasterners who have taken shelter there.

I spent the first 20% or so re-acquainting with the characters and the storyline. The next 30% getting into the story as it ramped up to a mid-book climax. Very exciting and good action sequences. Stopped at around 59% because it felt like an ending. That’s the problem with mid-book climaxes.  Killed the momentum.

But, let me tell you, when I picked it up again after a little break, I enjoyed it and finished it pretty rapidly. The final battle was almost as exciting as the mid-book one, and I really enjoyed how Merch and Allon stepped up as new heroes.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, and I must say it reads and feels just like I expect from epic fantasy. Merch and Allon still reminded me of hobbits, but other than that, good stuff. There’s magic, battles, and heroism from unlikely sources. Lore and mystical beings, both good and evil. This book felt like an ending, but there was a hint of future adventures.

Overall, I loved this book and would recommend it to fans of epic fantasy.

I received an ARC of this book from the author.

About the Author:

Adventurer, wonderer and wanderer, creative thinker and eccentrically unconventional, Julius Bailey tends to tread the peculiar paths. Born to the humidity, tropical sights, and gators of Florida, he lived in the Sunshine State for fourteen years of his life before moving to the rolling hills and red clay of Oklahoma. At the age of twelve he fell in love with a book called ‘The Secrets of Droon: The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet.’ From thence his love of reading bloomed. Having taken a keen interest in the fantastical realms of Fantasy, his jaunts mainly focus thitherward. He currently resides upon a hilltop thronged with hilltops, and avidly welcomes communication from his readers.

Author Links:

New to the series?
Check out my review of Book 1, Strife of the Mighty, on the blog at PureTextuality.com here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Classic Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down
by Richard Adams

Set in England's Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.

My Review:
Just a fantastic book! And yes, it is about rabbits.

Occasionally, I like to buckle down and read a classic, or in this case, listen to a classic. I must say, Watership Down was absolutely engaging and exciting. The story follows a small band of rabbits on their quest to escape a foreseen disaster and find a new home.

What I most enjoy about this is that everything is true to the rabbit. The author took great pains to limit the characters to actions natural to a rabbit, yet still, he created an epic adventure that tests these larger than life creatures to their limits.

Another thing I adored is the rabbit lore, the stories the rabbits tell and pass down about their past and their own folk heroes. It perfectly balanced past and present and future in the story. I say future, too, because it is obvious as the story progresses that Hazel will be a legend in his own right.

This is truly a timeless tale, told with heart. I absolutely loved it! I find it very easy to strongly recommend this to folks who enjoy a good adventure.

I borrowed the audiobook from the library.

About the Author:

Richard George Adams (born 9 May, 1920) is best-remembered as the author of Watership Down, but wrote many other novels, short stories, poems and a biography.

He originally began telling the story of Watership Down to his two daughters, Juliet and Rosamond, on a trip to Stratford-on-Avon, to see a play. They insisted he publish the tale as a book. When Watership Down was finally published, it sold over a million copies in record time in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Watership Down has become a modern classic and won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 1972.

Others of his books include Shardik, Maia, Tales from Watership Down, The Girl in a Swing and The Plague Dogs, the last two of which, together with Watership Down, have been filmed. His goal was always to tell a good story, ideally one so good you can't put it down! His last work, 'The Adventures of Eggbox Dragon', which is a picture-book for younger children, will be published posthumously by Hodder in 2017. It was written when he was 93.

During his later years Richard and his wife Elizabeth lived in Whitchurch, Hampshire, very close to Watership Down, and not far from where they had both grown up. He wrote about his childhood and youth, including the time he served in the army in World War II, in his biography 'The Day Gone By'.

During the last year of his life he kept a blog: https://www.watership-down.com/blog/. He died peacefully on Christmas Eve 2016.

Bio from the author's Amazon profile.