Tuesday, July 26, 2016

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. Since then she’s become a talented police detective, tethered only to her job, her best friend, Diana, and the occasional evening with her sexy, no-strings-attached ex-con lover, Kurt. But then Diana's abusive ex finds her again, despite all Casey has done to help her disappear. And Casey’s own dark past begins to catch up with her. The two women need to run—and Diana’s heard of a place where they won’t be found, a town especially for people like them… 

I've read most of Armstrong's works and I've seldom been disappointed. City of the Lost is a fabulous start to a new series. I not only enjoyed the world-building of Rockton and how it worked but the characters were very diverse and complex.

 Also, the backstory of Casey and Diane really helped add depth and clarity to their present predicament. I'm not sure about anyone else, but there have been several times in my life where I have just wanted to run away from the world and this is exactly what Casey and Diane do; only their are rules. Not to mention that someone has been murdered in Rockton.

 Thankfully Casey is a good detective but she may unearth more secrets than she was bargaining for. Fantastic and I can't wait to read the next in the series! I was totally immersed in this world and I cannot wait to revisit it and the characters. Loved it!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wendy

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Pirates Cycle Series Book Blast & Giveaway!

We are happy to be hosting Chris Gerrib's The Pirates Cycle Series Book Blast today! Leave a comment and you could win a complete set of his books!


About the Series:

Title: The Pirates Cycle Series
Author: Chris Gerrib
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Genre: Science Fiction

When eighteen-year-old Janet Pilgrim’s boyfriend was killed in a training accident at the space academy, she thought she was going to be thrown out. Instead, she soon found herself shipping out as a junior astronaut on the forty-year old spacecraft Windy City bound for Mars.

But freighters and passenger ships aren’t the only craft plying the spaceways. When the Windy City is attacked by pirates on the way to Mars, Janet finds herself in more danger than she could ever have imagined.

The Pirates Cycle series is available at Amazon.

Book Excerpt:

A very solid clunk on the outer bulkhead awoke me from my after-watch nap.  This was immediately followed by the general alarm.  The ship’s Voice was reporting all sorts of problems, and as I rolled out of my rack the lights flickered off, and a second later about half of them came on again.  As I listened to the Voice, I heard three alarms, any one of which was serious.  First I heard a “loss of communication” alarm, then a “ reactor coolant leak #2 radiator” and finally a loss of pressure alarm for the #3 greenhouse.
The reactor coolant leak scared me the most.   Our reactor was a pebble-bed unit, so it couldn’t melt.  But if it got too hot, it would automatically shut down.  No reactor meant no propulsion which meant we’d sail past Mars and out of the Solar System.  Some uncounted tens of thousands of years later some unknown alien would find our bones.  Maybe.
I jumped into a pair of coveralls and raced to the greenhouse.  Everything seemed to be in slow motion, but it was really only a few seconds before I was at the pressure door to the greenhouse.  As I looked in through the observation port, still struggling though sleep and shock, I couldn’t understand at first what I was seeing.  Maybe I didn’t want to understand.
Practically all the plants had been sucked out of the compartment, and what few remained had been sucked clean of leaves.  A couple of the water sprays were running, and the water coming out was boiling and freezing at the same time.  I looked shipdown towards the outer hull.  Something had cut a gouge almost the entire length of the compartment, slicing through the twin hulls like a hot knife through butter.  There were scorch marks along the edges of the gash, which must have immediately vented the compartment to space.
A flash of red caught my eye.  I blinked and saw Kate, drifting lifelessly against the far bulkhead.  I stared at her in disbelief.  There was a red streak of blood down her face from her nose, and her hair was matted with blood, whether from her ears or a skull wound I couldn’t tell.  There was nothing I could do.  I only hoped that she had passed out quickly from the loss of pressure.  I pounded on the hatch for a minute, out of frustration more then anything else. 
“Kate, where are you?”  Alex said, his voice booming out of the announcing system.
I picked up the nearest ship’s phone and dialed the pilothouse.  Ken answered.  “Kate was trapped in #3 greenhouse.  The aft bulkhead and hatch holding.”  It took me a minute to notice that there was no answer.  “Ken, status?”
“You’d better get up to the pilothouse fast, Janet.”

About the Author
Chris Gerrib admits to being a bit obsessed with Mars, but in a healthy way.  Chris still has a day job as the IT director at a Chicago-area bank, and holds degrees in history and business from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University.  He also served in the US Navy during the First Gulf War, and can proudly report that not one Iraqi MiG bombed Jacksonville, Florida while he was in the service.  In his copious free time, Chris is a past President of and currently active in his local Rotary club.  His three-novel series set on Mars, The Pirate Cycle, is being reissued by Cincinnatus Press.

You can visit Chris Gerrib’s website at http://privatemarsrocket.net/


Chris Gerrib is giving away one complete paperback set of The Pirates Cycle (3 books) and two complete ebook sets!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one paperback set and two winners will be chosen to receive one of two ebook sets.
  • This giveaway begins July 5 and ends on July 29.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on July 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Consequence: A Memoir by Eric Fair

Consequence is the story of Eric Fair, a kid who grew up in the shadows of crumbling Bethlehem Steel plants nurturing a strong faith and a belief that he was called to serve his country. It is a story of a man who chases his own demons from Egypt, where he served as an Army translator, to a detention center in Iraq, to seminary at Princeton, and eventually, to a heart transplant ward at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2004, after several months as an interrogator with a private contractor in Iraq, Eric Fair's nightmares take new forms: first, there had been the shrinking dreams; now the liquid dreams begin. By the time he leaves Iraq after that first deployment (he will return), Fair will have participated in or witnessed a variety of aggressive interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, diet manipulation, exposure, and isolation. Years later, his health and marriage crumbling, haunted by the role he played in what we now know as "enhanced interrogation," it is Fair's desire to speak out that becomes a key to his survival. Spare and haunting, Eric Fair's memoir is both a brave, unrelenting confession and a book that questions the very depths of who he, and we as a country, have become. 

This is a frill free memoir recounting the journey one man takes from rural Pennsylvania USA, where he grew up in a religious community to Iraq, where he participated in the interrogation and torture of Iraqi detainees. This is the perfect book for anyone who ever wondered how human beings were able to commit such cruel and brutal acts to other fellow beings in the Abu Ghraib scandal. 
Fair takes his time telling his story, slowly drawing the reader into his world where you can almost understand how he ends up doing what he did as an interrogator. As he is describing his journey, you don’t realize until later all the small incidents which were all building to a perfect example of ‘death by a thousand cuts’. 
The staccato style, which can feel jarring in the beginning when Fair is talking about his early life ends up fitting perfectly to the story being told by the time he gets to Iraq. All in all, it was an easy read considering the content.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Roberta

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller

Alexandra Fuller's memoir Leaving Before the Rains Come recounts her young adult life in Africa, as well as her transition to her own family life. It is a tale of finding place in an unstable and often contradictory world. Her parents, both eccentric types, taught her how to stand on her own, as well as how to survive in the challenging land of Rhodesia. She learns the lessons of the African bush, as well as learning the witticisms and life lessons from her tough-as nails father and her flighty mother.
When Alexandra marries, she has great hopes for her athletic, energetic husband and his ability to stabilize her life, but she is not emotionally mature enough to make it work. This is not a criticism of her character, but rather a reflection of the influence of her parents and their ideas about the instability of life. In some ways, she seems unprepared to be married or to carry the weight of a normal adult life.
Toward the end of the memoir, Alexandra's story takes a tragic turn and I found this part of the story to be most compelling. The disintegration of her life and her reflection upon her part in it is an especially poignant picture of what it means to know, but not really understand, another person. 
The first part of the book moved very slowly for me. The antics of her parents were so "over the top" that I had trouble connecting with their point of view. At once silly and philosophical (and drunk), they exerted a great influence upon their daughter's worldview. However, I found these chapters a bit chaotic and scattered.
I wish I could find more of a hopeful lesson from this chapter of Alexandra's life rather than what I am ultimately taking away, which is this: Learn to deal with the changes in life, even if you do not know what you are doing. 
Overall, an uneven effort and I was challenged to maintain my interest.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sage's Eyes by V.C. Andrews

Sixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively, as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they’re right to—even she can’t make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don’t, that her parents and teachers—no adult—could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring new boy at school share many things in common. Perhaps, they’ll learn, far too many things.

Sage's Eyes instantly had me intrigued. Sage is an adopted child who has visions and memories of things that she couldn't possibly have experienced herself. She is warned not to share these visions with anyone and is not even allowed to discuss them with her parents. A lot of the story focuses around the lies her parents tell her and the secrets she knows they are keeping. She wants to know herself but feels that they won't let her. They are extremely strict which doesn't exactly help her to fit in with other children who already think she's strange. The mother especially irked me at times as she was constantly acting as if she thought everything Sage did or thought was going to somehow prove that she was evil or something. You can tell that Sage has a good heart so it's hard to like this woman who can't seem to see the same thing about the child she is raising. But this does make you wonder why she is so concerned and what she thinks is going to happen with Sage that makes her so untrustworthy.

 The story stays entertaining through and through but I will admit that once I got most of the way done with the book and still had not found out the secrets behind Sage's powers and their origin for certain, I was a little bugged. Luckily the plot itself kept me moving briskly through the pages wanting more. Things got especially interesting once a new boy at school is brought into the picture ( doesn't it always? ). 

While the story felt pretty complete, there is definitely room for more, and I would love for this to have a sequel now that it is established for sure what's going on with Sage and there are still some major things out there that she might have to deal with. All in all I would absolutely recommend picking this one up.  

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April

Monday, June 20, 2016

Firewalker (The Worldwalker Trilogy #2) by Josephine Angelini

Worlds divide, magic slays, and love lies in the second book of Josephine Angelini’s The Worldwalker Trilogy.

"You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified."

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Picking up right where Trial By Fire left off, Firewalker is another sexy, fast-paced, heartbreaking thrill ride from internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini! 

Firewalker picks up immediately after Trial by Fire ends. If you have not read Trial by Fire there is no way I can avoid some spoilers for that book in this review but I will try my best to keep them smallish. The first half of this book takes place in our world so even though it had it's strifes and complications arise it was not nearly as action packed as the second half of the book. 

But since the book does get rather intense I did enjoy the fun banter and silliness of Rowan trying to argue with Lily about Star Wars and such for as long as that lasted. It was rather charming but made me hate him a little more later on when...whoa! I am getting way ahead of myself so let me rein myself in a little. Anyhow so after sometime in this world Lillian proves to Lily that she needs to come back to her world. At first I didn't believe that there could be any excuse for the things that Lillian had done but as time progressed I couldn't believe the things that she showed Lily. Those "things" were rather gruesome by the way and pretty horrific if you ask me, so tread carefully if considering this book for younger readers or those who are sensitive to gore and vivid descriptions. 

Anyhow once they are back in Lillian's world things really pick up and I just could not stop reading until I knew everything I could about what was going to happen. I was very surprised by a particular persons reaction to a certain situation and even more shocked by their actions. I am hoping that there was more to that than what we were shown and hope somehow it can save my original perception of this person. I feel like I am close to just blabbering here trying so hard to avoid major spoilers while also trying to describe my reactions to Firewalker.

 I mean I was glued to the pages and couldn't find out quick enough what was going on... What's with the Woven? What about Lily and Rowan? What about Lily and Tristan? Then when I though that I was finally getting some answers I was also getting more questions. Then BAM!!! my heart was wrenched from my chest and the ending hit me like a ton of bricks. How the author manages to rip me into shreds emotionally while also leaving me with hope for this new discovery is a true talent. I am both sad and anxious and I really need the next book like yesterday!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

From the author of the internationally bestselling 'A Man Called Ove', a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother's fairy tales. Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa's best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother's letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

  I am a big fan of the lovable curmudgeon character—the crankier the better.  So, it was no surprise to me that I loved the grandmother in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman.  Grandma is a best friend to her seven-year-old granddaughter, Elsa.  In fact, she is Elsa’s only friend.  An odd little girl obsessed with her Harry Potter scarf, Elsa is frequently bullied at school and the stories her grandma tells her are the perfect distraction.
         Elsa and her grandmother have their own language and their own imaginary land—Miamas.  Grandma tells Elsa about the fantastic creatures and magical happenings in Miamas, and Elsa quite enjoys the special bond she has with her grandma.  While Grandma is always getting in trouble in real life (she breaks into a zoo), in Miamas, Grandma is a master storyteller.
         After Grandma dies early in the book, she leaves behind a series of letters, apologizing to those she has wronged.  It is a sort of apologetic treasure hunt, if you will.  Elsa follows this trail to find the people who were important to her Grandmother and finds the connections between Miamas and the real word are not as tenuous as they seem.
         This book is a mess.  First, Elsa does not behave at all like a seven year old.  She is allowed to go out alone for extended periods of time.  She is bullied much in the way an older child would be harassed.  Her thoughts are quit advanced.  This is not merely something I observed as a reader—it was something that rankled me. 
         In addition, the stories about Miamas were quite nonsensical.  It felt as though I was reading about someone’s dream.  You know how things make perfect sense in a dream, but when you try to tell someone about the series of events, it makes little sense?  That is Miamas.  (Prime example?  A dog is called a “wurse” throughout the entire story and IS NEVER CALLED A DOG.)  Through much convoluted storytelling, I finally realized that every character in Miamas is a person who lives in the building where Elsa lives. 
         About ¾ of the way through the book, it turned into sort of an action story with a mystery of sorts and a stabbing.  I found it jarring.  This was not that type of book at all, and it made me want to stop reading entirely.
         It took me forever to read this confusing mess, and I almost regret the time I gave to it.  Word has it that AMan Called Ove is better than this one, and I sincerely hope it is since that one is taking up space on my shelf.
         Skip it.  Read something better.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina