Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Bookish Christmas: My Top Ten Holiday Books


I won't be on here again until 2016. So I wanted to wish all of you who read my blog, put up with this author/ bloggers bull shit, dark humor, self promotion and reviews a Merry Whatever Winter Holiday You Celebrate! I hope you all have a great rest of 2015 and I will "see" you in 2016.

To end the year, here are my Top Ten Favorite Holiday Books. And by Holiday books I mean novels I love that they celebrate Christmas (or something) in :)



1) Holiday In Death by J.D Robb
3) A Very Gothic Christmas by Christine Feehan
4) Dark Side of the Road by Simon R Green




5)Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
8) The Twelve Terrors of Christmas by John Updike and Edward Gorey




9)The Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands
10) NOS4A2 BY Joe Hill












Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck





In the bestselling tradition of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz, Rinker Buck's "The Oregon Trail" is a major work of participatory history: an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules--which hasn't been done in a century--that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country.


This wasn't bad, but I got bored so many times it took twice as long to finish then I thought it would.

Great concept, but the novel could have been half the length. The author went off on tangents about things I didn't care about and didn't move the focus of the story along. Example: four pages about mules.

I love Oregon Trail, Pioneer type stuff. I have read a lot about that time period. The idea he and his brother did the full length in a covered wagon? Totally cool! I could never do that. But then they stopped and spent the night in a trailer and bought groceries at gas stations. I know they didn't have forts or people to trade with like the original Pioneers did and they couldn't hunt,but I still would have liked to read about them taking salted pork, flour, dried beans and fruit with them and calculating how much they would need to bring etc..etc..

Not bad, just kind of dry and the author, kind of a dumb ass, his brother Nick, much smarter than Rinker gives him credit for. Even I know then when travelling by covered wagon you take one trunk and everything you want needs to fit inside it, you won't need things like salad spinners or glass casserole dishes out there on the prairie. Thankfully Rinker figures it out, but with all the research he did to start the expedition I was surprised how much he clung to "romanticizing" it rather than thinking about life in a covered wagon practically.

Kind of disappointing, but had some cool facts. I didn't know the entire trail was marked and you can actually visit some of it!



Monday, December 7, 2015

I Keep My True Love in the Basement by Alexander Engel-Hodgkinson


A woman is resurrected as a clone of her former self by her obsessive husband... but why? And what happened to her original self? Is she a prisoner in his home, or are things the way they used to be? She also begins to wonder: what is her true purpose, and why is she still alive?




I received this novella in return for an honest review.


First off let me say the word clone is misleading, this is an android made to look and act like his wife, not a clone grown from organic material. However, this does not detract from the story, or the creepy scene where the MC (Franklin) boots up his wife look a like. I mean seriously, how much of a creeper would you have to be to make an android that looks like a wife that left you and act just like she never did....eeeeewwww.

This is a cyberpunk style story, so it takes place in the future with androids, machines and holographs very much the norm and the government in control of EVERYTHING. 

I had a bit of trouble with the fact that the new Elsa would follow a strange voice down into the dark, even with all of old Elsa's memories she knows she is a replacement, I figured she would act more frightened, more child like. 

This novel is deliciously dark, Franklin is described perfectly as a crazy mad man, a true sicko. There is a warning at the start that says this is a violet novel not meant for under 14 and while I sort of agree with that it was nearly as gruesome or violent as I thought it would be.....Hunger Games is just as violent with kids killing kids. 

This does not end happily ever after, don't read this if you want a feel good story. Read this because it is dark and enjoyable and a little disturbing.

















Friday, December 4, 2015

ARC Review The Midnight Stand (The Elysia Saga Book 1) by Louis A. Affortunato

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
They were able to transform the world in a matter of years. They molded it to their will and created a new world order. It happened so fast no one had a chance to stop it. The ones who cared could only stand by and watch as all traces of the old world began to disappear piece by piece.

They are the Council and they will stop at nothing to fulfill their plan, even if that means murder.

Now the only man left of that previous world is Harley Jacobs and when he receives a letter from the Council telling him to vacate his home he must make a decision that will change his life forever. Does he protect his family and leave or does he stay and make one last stand against the people that took everything away from him?

The first part in a multi-book series, The Midnight Stand introduces us to a harrowing view of a not too distant future that raises the question of what it truly means to be an individual.
 
 
 
 
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
 
 
First off this book wasn't really my cup of tea. That said, the writing is great and the story is very intense. The MC Harley Jacobs is a great character well written with a powerful back story including some trigger warnings for pregnancy loss. The story moves between past and present in  a very smooth way. The descriptions were very realistic and I don't know...can I over use the word intense?
 
This novel was very dystopian, but in more of a Fahrenheit 451 then Divergence kind of way. I mean the story starts out with a man waiting with a shotgun to be evicted from the house his grandfather made! The Council is a non traditional but effective villain and this book really delves into the question about how much is too much government power.
 
I would have liked more about Sara and Jasper and honestly really don't care for dystopian in general. However this book is a well paced novel with the right amount of action. Do I think it needs to be a series? No, the plot is good enough this could have been one whole novel....Though I may have to get the second *sigh*.
 
So if you were a fan of 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 I recommend buying and reading this book.
 
 
 
 









Friday, November 27, 2015

ARC Review AUCTUMNALIS By Parandus Gold






The plantation wasn’t normal. 
Belvedere Rise should have been a safe haven against the gangs. Nestled in the deep woods of Louisiana, Izobel and DesdeMona found it abandoned and had claimed it as their own. What they assume to be a new beginning quickly becomes a prison when they unlock something ethereal, alive, and dangerous. 
Things begin to fall apart around them. The poverty-stricken people of the nearby town adapt in a way that keeps the girls constantly terrified, and forces them to do things they would have never imagined. As their time passes at the plantation, tensions rise. 
When captivating new strangers arrive at their front door, the hostile world they knew becomes something else entirely. 
Written through two separate points of view--that of sweet, hopeful Izobel, and strategic book worm DesdeMona--Auctumnalis is a dystopian-fantasy novel with smatterings of hope, violence, drama and romance spread throughout.



I received a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

First off let me say the dedication in this novel sets the tone for the whole book. 
We lovingly dedicate this book to our Heroes. J.K. Rowling, Quentin Tarantino, and last but not least, Tears for Fears. 

This story is told from the perspective of  Izobel, who is wild, strong and hopeful, mean when its needed and cares about others. Then the brave petite and smart Desdemona. The girls met while being raised by nuns in an orphanage. It takes place in New Orleans and Louisiana, first in the Orphanage and then in an abandoned plantation the girls find when they leave the orphanage.
The novel goes back an forth between the girl's shared past and present day.

The drama all starts when Izobel saves a boy, Hale, from being killed by a gang called lykos. Hale kind of got on my nerves. He stays with them to heal and of course Desdemona is suspicious if him, it's just been the two of them all this time and in comes a strange boy, who doesn't know their story or what they are hiding from, he could be nicer or more patient. Hale and Izobel fall in love, which I found unnecessary to the story line.

Izobel could be trying at times and while I didn't always understand Desdemona's anger I could see how Izobel would get on her nerves. There is a part when Izobel wants to save a woman and Desdemona says no. When you are already starving and have brought home another mouth to feed, adding ANOTHER person is a bad idea. In a dog-eat-dog type world like this one you HAVE to think about yourself and the ones you are already responsible for. It sucks but this novel captured that idea and the gruesomeness of that kind of world really well. I felt Izobel's character read much younger than Desdemona's.

There are some other very interesting characters like Radek and Prometheus, but writing too much about them might give some rather creepy and interesting plot lines away.
The writing was really good, as was the character building. The author makes it feel as if you are there, with them trying to get past these bad guys while starving and being afraid. The prose is good and at times lyrical, and at other times harsh so that the reader gets a good idea as to how the characters are feeling.

This novel is dark, which I enjoyed. It feels almost hopeless at times. I get a bit of twisted amusement when characters become dark twisted versions of themselves and give in to evil, even by manipulation. 

There are a few twists at the end....That I won't ruin for you.

So happy reading!!






Sunday, November 22, 2015

ARC Auburn: Outcasts and Underdogs by Valerie Thomas













We were the lost. We were the broken. We were the freaks, the losers and loners hiding in the corners of the world.
And then we weren’t. Every morning I had to pick up the jigsaw puzzle of my life and rebuild it into something vaguely resembling a person. A hazy shadow of the happiness I was faking.
And then I didn’t. I didn’t become whole. No, there was no glue that could bind me back together. No remedy to fix any of us. We weren’t lost anymore, but we remembered losing our way. We weren’t freaks, but we remembered living on the fringe. We weren’t losers or loners, but we still remembered hiding from the world.
We were Auburn. I was Auburn. And this is my story.






I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing I noticed about this novel was that the main character has anxiety/depression pretty bad and the author does a great job of describing all those horrible thoughts that go through your mind, that you cannot stop during an extreme bout. Having anxiety myself I really liked that.

Ashley was a relate-able character, high school girl who has social problems and doesn't fit in anywhere. Though she had a bit more of a Mary Sue quality than I normally like: great writer, good singer, pretty, but feels like an outcast.

Her band mates are well written, from nice sweet Charlie to jerk Joey, who is only a jerk because it's a defense mechanism.

Then there is Jessica, who is the villain...Though the first time she is introduced her first interaction is funny and accurate. She is talking about the song Ashley is currently writing. (Later Jessica because such a horrible B, that you hate her.)
“Honey, the best band in the world could perform it, and it would still be a boring song about how no one likes you.”  I kind of agree, while beautifully written, Ashley's songs DO feel like emo poetry.  This moment is important for the end however, in an interesting twist by the author.

The author seems to either know what she is talking about music wise or did research which I appreciated. She also made sure the band, Auburn, isn't a hit right away...They don't just get together and go "Wow we are Awesome!" They practice and get better over time.

This novel had a very 90's feel (aside from the facebook references) to it that I enjoyed, made me think about being a Freshman in High-school again. There is a romance between Charlie and Ashley, while props for the no insta love I don't think the plot needed it, the story and writing could have stood on its own.

There is a bit where the principal shows up to serve what's basically a truancy notice to Ashley, which was the most unbelievable part of the whole novel and the reason this is getting 3.5 instead of 4 stars. Not only would the principal not make a house call but three unexcused absences is not a reason to be recommend to the truancy department. I have kids in school, takes way more than this. Also she would contact Ashley's mom directly and not Ashley herself. I get why the author put this in, but it would have been better through a social worker or the school counselor. Though their conversation DOES lead into a good segue about the issue of online bullying in schools right now.

The book ends as if there is going to be a sequel, I don't think it needs one. I think the author did a good job wrapping everything up at the end, Ashley didn't grow as much as I thought she would, but she did grow and made some good and bad choices, just like normal teenagers.

This is a slightly emo "coming-of-age" type story that has bullying trigger warnings.  Not quite what I am normally into, but a good read and one that puts some of the harsher realities of being a teen into perspective.








ARC The Boy Genius Detective Agency by Robert Grey








When happy-go-lucky Phidias Isaac Newman opens a detective agency in the sleepy Highland Falls ward of the M├ęgapolis he isn't sure what to expect.
The Case of the Vanishing Bones? Sounds like a promising start.
Then, seemingly from nowhere, disaster strikes! Together with his partner, Agent Bubble Gum, the Boy Genius is plunged into the recovery of a mysterious (and deadly) stolen artifact--the Afterthought Resonator.
But then something wonderful happens.
Or does it?
Bubble Gum has always known the Boy Genius is ill mannered, uncouth and never listens to others. (Not that she keeps a list or anything.) But now she learns Phidias is harboring a dark secret.
Of forbidden knowledge that unlocks a terrible power... no one even suspected existed.

I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for an honest review

This is a fun middle grade book. It is well written and the characters are engaging.  This story takes place in the future, the MC lives in a well described district called Highland Falls and underneath it all is an area called The Pell Mell which is described as, "A constantly shi ning sea of shops, stores, hovercarts, street mongers, sky peddlers, vending machines, sunken gardens, ying zoos, passerby's, belongers, commuters, gawkers and much, much more. It was an art show, a freak show, a horror show, a side show. It was the big time, the big top and the main event. It was a carnival, a casino, a bazaar, a food court, another ying zoo!"

The MC, Phidias is a slightly annoying, sarcastic smart aleck boy who works for the Boy Genius Agency full of delightful characters like Lollipop and Bubble Gum, also agents.  All the characters are very vibrant.

They investigate, not really crimes so much...I mean some guys bones vanish, so more like mysterious circumstances. Each chapter has a delightful headline like, "THE WORST GO-FAST CYCLE PILOT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE" and there are villains like The Sinister Brain.  There are also aliens like the Krell Empire, "a space faring race of slime-tentacle aliens who feed on the brains of humans."  Quite creatively written.

This is volume one, so it ends with the obvious intention of there being a volume two. I liked how there was a major story arc, but there was also other little tidbits that didn't pertain to the main plot..  The book was very fast paced, the ending perhaps a bit rushed.  There is a deleted scene at the end, which was interesting and gives you a little more time with the well developed characters.

My favorite part? The meta, there is a second epilogue which discusses the "Purple Prose Princess" who writes fan fiction about Boy Genius , and it adds a bit of a surprise to the characters personality.

This was a clever and fun read, I had a few issues with the formatting, but it didn't matter much. Plus I am not a big Sci Fi fan and this is very much hover boards, advanced tech, Mass Effect for little kids.  So give it a try, or buy it for a funny kid in your life.












Sunday, November 15, 2015

ARC Review Bad Romance by M.S.L.R (Sweet Dreams Series)








Skyler Rayne was pretty, smart and sassy. Or so that's what Sullivan Forest tells her when he first sets his eyes on her. When Sky stops doing what is expected of her and starts letting go, it is only a matter of time before it all catches up with her. With a mystery man that her parents want to set her up with and Sullivan who is intrigued by her but has secrets of his own... When the rules of dating don't apply how will Sky define her relationship with Sullivan? Or is at just a bad romance?





I received a copy of the novella in return for an honest review



Bored on a break at work I opened the .pdf copy of this I received and began  reading. It's a novella so I knew that I could probably finish it pretty fast. I was right, this is a quick read, but it's fun.

Let me start out saying this: The sex in this novella is H.O.T

Secondly: I spent the entire time I was reading this humming Lady Gaga's Bad Romance.  Which fit the story pretty well. 

Thirdly and warning: this novel wound up not quite being my cup of tea so to speak. I like erotica and I like romance novels, but this one does have an Alpha Male taking advantage of a kind of damaged female that I don't always care for.  However I did have fun reading it and I recommend you give it a try, especially if you liked 50 Shades of Grey.

Honestly Sullivan (or Li as he is called) isn't MY type of guy, but  I know women all over will totally find this character a hot hunk. 

I did enjoy how the author made a point to mention protection before the actual sex, in a lot of novels they glance right over the protection part because it's fiction. However in this day an age even in fiction if your characters are having casual sex you should write in a condom or birth control pills. Though the first time they have sex they don't use a condom because they are both clean, no mention of pregnancy, if you have unprotected sex with someone for over a month you're gonna have a pregnancy scare. Though that might have added some extra tension to Li and Sky's relationship.

The MC's parents are really awful to her. So it's understandable she would want a relationship where she can lose control without repercussions. I enjoyed getting the back story about Sky, it explains a lot of her character choices.

Li only wants sex and  the MC seems ok with that. Which I like, I don't care for the idea that only men want casual sex or are interested in orgasms. We women like it too! Though, I kind of wish the MC had kept her emotional distance, would have been nice to see Li suffer through realizing he wanted her only to have her turn the tables on him. 

There is a scene that is the reason this got 3 stars instead of 4. They are eating and Li get's super jealous that she went to a bar with girlfriends. Because he thinks other men will try and pick her up. When she tells him she would never be with another man after giving Li her word he says, 

"No. I don't think you would but that wouldn't stop them."  
And  
"You obviously don't know how dangerous it is out there and you and your friends go to a bar, drink and then what? It wouldn't be hard for someone to take advantage of any of you. 

That's a tad too rapey for me, especially since Li and Sky first hook up at a bar. Its a very awkward scene where Li is angry with her and way too Alpha Male jealous for my personal tastes. 

At the end I was proud that the MC took control and made her own decisions. I can only hope in the following parts that Sky is true to herself and does what is good and right for her. The title of this novel says it all,  "Bad Romance" and it is, hopefully Sky gets to be a part of a "Better Romance" later because her character is fun and relate-able.
















Thursday, November 12, 2015

ARC Notes From a Very Small Island - Anthony Stancomb






Notes From a Very Small Island is the follow-up to the bestselling 'Under a Croatian Sun', which tells the story of a couple upping sticks and leaving their humdrum life in London for blue skies and cafe life on an island in Croatia.
In this second book, the couple continue their attempts to fit in with the village community, but it's not always easy, and more often than not their endeavours involve them in in hilarious disasters.
They also now try to start some projects up, but they have to battle with maddening ex-communist authorities and highly suspicious locals. However, through this, they get to see the crippling legacies that communism and the recent war have left in the lives of their new neighbours.
Although largely a light hearted tale, the book is also a heartfelt insight into a community trying to adjust to being members of the EU and the ways of the Western World.



I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review

I don't read novels like this very often, not usually my first choice. However when I read about this book and the island it made me think about  a movie called The Decoy Bride. The MC in the movie writes a lovely travel guide about a small island. Her travel guide is thoughtful, humorous and heartfelt.

While this book is a story more than a travel guide I feel it had a lot of those same qualities: it was thoughtfully written you can tell the author loves the island of Vis and the people even though they sometimes butt heads with the locals. It was funny with bits lik (one of my favorite lines) :I, of course, stuck out like an ancient Briton in animal skins on a Gay Pride parade. Above all else this story is being told with emotion,

There were beautiful passages like this:
That evening I sat on the terrace with a glass of Bozo’s red watching the sun melt into the hills like a burning ember. It tinged the clouds with pink, and turned the surface of the bay into a shimmer of orange mercury. Below me in the courtyard, the swallows on their last flight of the day were doing figures of eight round the columns, and the scent of the jasmine came wafting up to the terrace.

That made me wish I was living on  that island as well. The author tells it like this is such a beautiful and fun, peaceful place to live. I always thought being outside a city wold kill me, I grew up in a small town after all, but the author makes me re think this.

The people and events in this story, like Constantin and Ivana, are full of life and character. This was VERY well written.

I did have a hard time figuring out, was this novel completely non fiction? Is it fiction with non fiction aspects? Are the people and events real or just based on things that kind of happened? The discloser at the beginning makes me think that this story is the author's recollection, but I can't be sure. I don't like being confused by a novel so that's why four stars instead of five.

Give this a go, even if it isn't your normal fair, you might be surprised.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Released TODAY! FREE COUPON: THE BATHORY CURSE( Please SHARE this!)


Princess Cneajna of Transylvania didn’t expect to be brought back from death’s door by an ancient Pagan Goddess. She certainly never asked to be made into an immortal witch. All she wanted was to live out her life the wife of Vlad the Impaler and mother of his two sons. However, now she has a new life, and with it comes the impossible task of breaking a centuries old curse placed on the women of her family. A curse that drives each one insane. To make matters even more complicated this is a family she didn’t even know she was related to: The Bathory’s.


If your order it BEFORE the 15th, use this coupon and get it for FREE

The code is: FU38E


https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/583225

Also you can order through Barnes and Noble and Kobo

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bathory-curse-renee-lake/1122788742?ean=2940152402919

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-bathory-curse

You can Pre-order  through kindle, it won't be out until the 10th.
http://www.amazon.com/Bathory-Curse-Renee-Lake-ebook/dp/B017DXAB0U/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1447020627&sr=8-4

You can get a physical copy from amazon as well.

http://www.amazon.com/Bathory-Curse-Renee-Lake/dp/1517706955/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1447020627&sr=8-4&keywords=Renee+Lake

There is a giveaway on goodreads, though it has the wrong cover.



 
 


    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 
        The Bathory Curse by Renee Travis Lake
   
     


          The Bathory Curse
     
     


          by Renee Travis Lake
     
 
         
            Giveaway ends November 13, 2015.
         
         
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         
     
   
   



    Enter Giveaway
















Top Ten Tuesday- Ten Books that were SUPPOSED to be Scary and were NOT






Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by the great Broke and Bookish. This week it is a Halloween Themed Choose Your Own Topic. I have chosen ten books that were supposed to be scary but were not.

All these books were supposed to give me chills, or be creepy, scary and possibly cause me to look behind quickly, is there someone there, watching me? Instead the were boring and not the least bit scary, bordering on dull and not  suspenseful. Now some of these might have had a few scary scenes, but not enough for me to still REALLY like the book.

Now this is just MY opinion, but I have a pretty high standard when it comes to ghost stories and horror novels. The Haunting of Hill House and The Shining are two of my favorites. If I can still read you, alone, with the lights dimmed you are not scary enough.






1)Boy Meets Girl Massacre


2)Ten


3) Asylum


4) The Poisoned House


5) The Turn of the Screw






6) Ghost House

7) Wild Fell

8) The Supernatural Enhancements

9) House of Darkness House of Light


10)  Blood and Salt