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So, I Read This Book Today

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Month

November 2014

Review: Chronicles of Steele By Pauline Creeden

Be as gentle as a dove but as cunning as a viper.
Preserve one’s self with intellect,
and know when it is time to be either the dove or the viper.

Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person. – Tennessee Williams

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities. – Dr. Seuss

ravenHere is an admission. As much as I have been interested and charmed by the concept of Steampunk, I have never read a book in the genre. Given the opportunity by the publisher to read Chronicles of Steele: Raven I can say that I am glad I waited. It is, in a word, delightful.

Raven Steele lives in a world of contradictions and extravagances of the surreal kind. Steam powered horses and mechanical humans live alongside flesh and blood beings. Dirigibles crowd the air while Victorian dress resides alongside leather and sword bearing private guards. Medical advances proceed alongside alchemy, and witchcraft is very real, in a sort of ‘physics meets alchemy meets herbology’ mashup. Sword and sorcery meets Victorian in an utterly enjoyable manner. The contradictions are charming and well written, a perfect introduction to a genre I was unfamiliar with.

Raven is a Reaper. Once the private (and very fatal) bodyguards and assassins to the Duke, they were disbanded when their leader, Raven’s father, refused to murder the Duke’s wife on his order. Hounded from the castle, his own men set upon him, her family flees, only to lose her mother to murder at the hands of the other Reapers. Trained by her father to be a Reaper in order to ascertain her safety from those who would murder her, Raven has travelled the lands, searching for redemption. A tenant of Reaper training, redemption is given through giving back a life for every life taken – and Raven’s balance sheet is nearly complete.

But freedom and real life are jerked from her grasp when she rescues the young Baron of New Hope, Darius. The child is handed over to Raven by his elder brother, Baron Solomon Goodhope, who entreats her to save the child from his murderous father. The evil Duke means the boy to die for supposedly being infested by a demon. But the story is much more, and much less, than the Duke believes. And when he sets his guards on Raven and Darius’s trail the consequences will be deeper than he could ever have expected.

Friends will become enemies and enemies possible friends as Raven begins a desperate cross-country race, by dirigible and train, horse and on foot, first to find the Witch she has been tasked to locate to cure the child, and then to save him once again from those who would murder him. Those who should by all rights keep him safe, but will kill in the name of the Duke, no matter how insane the order may be.

His conscience could not agree with what he was about to do. But orders were orders. And as captain of the guard, Jack always followed them to the letter.

Honor is found in the oddest places – but the boundless knee-jerk bone-headedness of mindless adherence to command structures and orders, even when deeply twisted and evil, is readily apparent. As well as a type of debilitating naivety on the part of people who should know better. But there is also a smile around every corner at the unexpected, the quaint, and the captivating. All of these things make the story appealing on so many different levels. Not only that, but there is an undercurrent here, another story line lying just below the surface which makes me eager for the next installment to the series!

While all these things are wonderful, there is one thing that bothered me. It may seem a small thing, but to me it is important to the presentation of the book. I was completely discombobulated by the cover. It presents as the cover for a Shamanistic Fantasy novel more than anything else. It is gorgeous, without a doubt, but it has absolutely no continuity with the story line. It is disconcerting to say the least. Without looking at the blurb I automatically expected the book to be on par with Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series, or possibly Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series. Not for a true Steampunk novel. But again, it is a small thing that will possibly be of no interest to other readers.

I highly recommend this book for its strong heroine, well written story, and (yes, here is that word again) charming world building. Oh, and I was surprised to find that this is listed as “young adult” – but not in a bad way. It is a great story for young and young at heart. I will be watching anxiously for Darius’s story, the next in the Chronicles of Steele. And I will definitely be checking out others in the genre. I am hooked!

I received Chronicles of Steele: Raven from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

If you like my reviews, it would be great if you could “Like” it on Amazon as well! Thanks all…

Friday Reads [11/21]

Falling Down the Book Hole

Untitled design-11

887877I have hit a slight reading and blogging slump. I have been busy with work and taking some time to see my best friend/relaxing. I have the next week off and with the horribly cold weather and snow that has graced us with its presence is going to be keeping me indoors. I might end up holding my own little read-a-thon to get through some books that I have gotten a little stuck in and books I need to catch up on for review. I just got my hardback copy of Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch and I think it will make continuing reading it easier. I love the book so far it has just become difficult to try and read the mass market paperback. I also started The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. 17347389I really enjoyed The Raven Boys and I am so excited to get…

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Kindle Daily Deal Sale TODAY – The Light Who Shines by Lilo Abernathy @Lilo_Abernathy

A British Bookworm's Blog

lilobook

The Light Who Shines
by Lilo Abernathy
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance / Mystery
Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $1.99 (One day only)
Kindle Daily Deal Sale Date: Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Amazon Link: amzn.to/11sqD5Y

When Supernatural Investigation Bureau agent Bluebell Kildare (a.k.a. Blue) arrives at the scene of the crime, it’s obvious the grotesquely damaged body of the deceased teenage boy was caused by far more than a simple hit and run; and she vows to catch the killer. Using her innate sixth sense, Blue uncovers a powerful magical artifact nearby. She soon discovers it acts as a key to an ancient Grimoire that was instrumental in the creation of the Vampire breed and still holds the power to unravel the boundaries between Earth and the Plane of Fire.

Blue and her clever wolf Varg follow a trail that starts at the Cock and…

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Free Today: How To Kill Yourself In A Small Town By Eden Hudson

9640626It’s Snarky Humour Day! In the tradition of Diana Rowland’s White Trash Zombie series, meet Eden Hudson and her new series The Redneck Apocalypse.

Free today on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I couldn’t resist adding it to my “must read” pile! If you read it before I get a chance to, don’t forget to review!


How to Kill Yourself in a Small Town (The Redneck Apocalypse Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

21395662

eden Hudson


Digital List Price: $3.99 What’s this?
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Book Description

February 19, 2014
The holy champion chosen to save the world is enslaved to a beautiful, sadistic fallen angel and losing the battle for his sanity.

The guy chosen to save the holy champion is his binge-drinking redneck brother.

So, basically, the world is screwed.

Meet the Whitney boys:
Colt—a mentally unstable holy soldier with a rapidly deteriorating hold on reality. His last plan to rid the world of evil either failed horribly or went off without a hitch. With the constant torture and brainwashing, it’s getting hard to be sure of anything but the sick attachment he’s developing to his beautiful tormentor.

Tough—a smart-mouthed honky-tonk hero trying to drown his problems in music, women, and good times. He hasn’t spoken to Colt in five years—not since their disagreement over a nymphomaniac vampire turned into a drunken slugfest—but they’re still brothers. Tough knows he can’t leave Colt fighting for his life and his sanity alone. The question is whether Tough can fight off his personal demons long enough to save Colt from the literal ones.

How to Kill Yourself in a Small Town is the first book in The Redneck Apocalypse series.

Review: Mind Sweeper: Mind Sweeper #1 By AE Jones

22733969An angel, a demon and a vampire walk into a bar.

OK, now tell me. Who wouldn’t want to read a story that starts with that line? You see, an angel, a demon and a vampire did walk into the Erie Bar. And wreaked havoc and destruction, totally ignoring the ‘don’t let normals know you exist’ rules. So, Kyle McKinley and her partners, a Vampire and a Shamat demon, have to come in and clean up the mess. And if that wasn’t enough, poor Kyle has now been saddled with a human partner of all things. And her cop partner is not only handsome as all get-out, he is also a pushy, overbearing MAN to top it all off! As if she didn’t have enough on her plate …

This is a really wonderful first entry in the Mind Sweeper Series. The story is one of those I am always looking for – it is out of the typical for the genre. Though there are vamps, shifters and demons, they are put together in a much more interesting method than the usual found in urban fantasy. The main character, Kyle McKinley – (yes, at first I thought it was “Ky-lee” but no, it is really Ki-al” the male pronunciation – which is interesting in and of itself) but anyway, where was I? Oh, yes! Kyle is human, but not your common and garden sort. Kyle can change memories. Which is a good talent to have when the supernatural world is trying to hide in a world where cell phone cameras and security cameras are the norm rather than the exception. With her partners, Jean Luc the vampire and Misha the Russian demon, she works to keep supernatural secrets. She has worked for ten years with her best friends, and is not really happy at all when yet another human is assigned to the team. Well, you can’t blame her when the last one tried to stake Jean Luc. Idiot. (Insert big sigh here)

Soooo. . . it isn’t just the way-too-handsome Dalton being added to the group that is the problem. It seems that the vampire mixed into the vampire/angel/demon fight in the Erie lost his head – literally. And the darn head is just gone. Poof! And now there are more dead bodies lying around. And why in the world are angels going around cutting off heads with swords? Hum?

The vampire leader Sebastian is up to no good – but what exactly is it he is up to? And what is the Pavel demon leader hiding? Then of course, as much as the angels claim to be holding themselves outside of the fray, well, chopping off a vampire’s head with a big ol’ sword in a bar in front of humans is not exactly standing on the sidelines!

I had spoken to AE Jones about possibly reviewing her third novel in the series, Shifter Wars. Instead, I wheedled a copy of Mind Sweeper out of her, and I am so glad I did. Starting a good series at the first volume is always for the best (to my mind) and I was in no way disappointed. Put this on your list of series that will remain on your “keeper shelf”!

I received Mind Sweeper from the author in exchange for a realistic review. I can hardly wait to start the next in the series, The Fledgling: A Novella. Recommended!

About the Author:

Image of AE Jones

Growing up a TV junkie, award winning author AE Jones oftentimes rewrote endings of episodes in her head when she didn’t like the outcome. She immersed herself in sci-fi and soap operas. But when Buffy hit the little screen she knew her true love was paranormal. Now she spends her nights weaving stories about all variation of supernatural–their angst and their humor. After all life is about both…whether you sport fangs or not.

AE lives in Ohio with her eclectic family and friends who in no way resembles any characters in her books. Honest. Now her two cats are another story altogether.

 

Review: Playing Santa By H.Y. Hanna

23531443Time for another Christmas book review – and this time, it has an Aussie twist!

Holly Scott hasn’t had it all that easy in life. Growing up in foster homes left her lonely, and her simple life in Missouri consists of a trail of part time jobs and a tiny shared apartment. When an older couple from Australia show up in the restaurant where she works, and the wife becomes ill, Holly helps them out, helping them find a hotel room and bringing needed items to make their stay easier.

Now, the couple, the Goldblums, have asked her to house sit for them in their home in Summer Beach, Australia. And what a nice way to spend Christmas, the beginning of the summer in Aussie land, than in a beautiful house on a cliff above the ocean?

On her first full day in Summer Beach Holly is woken by screaming laughter and wanders outside to find a kookaburra laughing in the tree outside the front door. Then, hearing a quieter sound, she finds a box of abandoned puppies at her feet.

What happens next is a lovely little Christmas romance, short and sweet, complete with the power to bring a bright smile to your face. No, this isn’t great literature, it isn’t meant to be. Instead, its power is in its ability to make you smile and uplift the heart. Grab it for a stocking stuffer for your favorite hopeless romantic (even if the hopeless romantic is you!)

Review: Heart Of Africa By Loren Lockner

 23355539Women have always been the strong ones of the world. The men are always seeking from women a little pillow to put their heads down on. They are always longing for the mother who held them as infants. – Coco Chanel

 It’s estimated that across Africa 100 elephants are killed for their tusks every day. It takes nothing more than simple math to get to what that adds up to in a year, and it’s a distressing figure. – Graydon Carter


The unmerciful sun refused my commands and set unconcernedly behind the dry acacias, stealing with it any remaining warmth of the day.

 Poor Mandy Phillips. Dismissed as worthless by her mother and cousin since she was a child, she is shy, introverted, and never speaks up for herself, much less having an adventure. But when her up-and-coming physician fiancé decides to toss her over for 19-year-old blonde floozy, Mandy has had enough. So, she decides to take an even more adventurous trip than the African honeymoon they had planned.

I wish to book a trip to Africa, but not to Kenya. Perhaps you could recommend a destination full of intriguing sights and wild animals? A first class safari to… um… somewhere else?”

Such begins Mandy’s Big Adventure. An adventure that will take her beyond the boundaries of Kruger National Park and into the wild in a desperate race to survive. A race through a land where every step may mean her death.

This is a beautiful book. The world building is amazingly gorgeous, filled with the life of Africa, the joy and the heartache, the poverty and pain, and the overwhelming beauty of a country ancient beyond belief, the home of humanity and of life itself. And where humans think nothing of killing a rare rhino for its horn, leaving the animal to rot in the sun, and a simple misstep can cost your life.

While this is a romantic suspense, it is much more than that. The romance portion is well done and believable – the hero is not perfect by any means, nor is the heroine. But that is what makes everything so perfect. They have to fight every step of the way simply to survive. But it is the reality of the suspense that made this such a special book. Well, and the beauty of Africa, the birds and beasts, the flora and fauna unlike any other. It fills the book with wonder, tugging my heart to its mysterious shores. There is pain there, poverty and death, but overall it is a country which calls to the soul. Lockner blends and weaves the country and its people into a story of love and survival which will touch your heart, and open your soul to adventure beyond any you might image.

Highly recommended!

Review: Die Again: Rizzoli & Isles #11 By Tess Gerritsen

21489683Everyone is related to Africa; everyone comes from Africa. We are all distant relatives. – Damian Marley

Let’s face it – think of Africa, and the first images that come to mind are of war, poverty, famine and flies. How many of us really know anything at all about the truly great ancient African civilizations, which in their day, were just as splendid and glorious as any on the face of the earth? – Henry Louis Gates

No matter what we call it, poison is still poison, death is still death, and industrial civilization is still causing the greatest mass extinction in the history of the planet. – Derrick Jensen

 

I felt like a kid at Christmas when I received the request from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine to read and review Die Again: A Rizzoli and Isles Novel. I have always been a huge fan of Tess Gerritsen and the series, and to be trusted with this eleventh addition to the series was a mind blowing experience! Woo hoo!

If you are one of those who have only watched the television series (and why would that be? You don’t know what you are missing!) the series is indeed good, but it can’t reach the depth and brilliance of the books. There simply isn’t the time or capability for a television series to meet the standards of exceptional writing Ms. Gerritsen is known for. I highly encourage you to read all of them, starting with The Surgeon and working your way through. If you love a police procedural with strong suspense, mystery and thrills, and a pair of the most exceptional women characters in literature, you can’t go wrong.

 Okavango Delta, Botswana

In the slanting light of dawn I spot it, subtle as a watermark, pressed into the bare patch of dirt. . . . I crouch down beside it and feel a sudden chill when I realize that only a thin layer of canvas shielded us while we slept.

On a photography safari in Botswana with a diverse group of seven tourists from four continents, a guide and a tracker, Millie Jacobson wakes this morning to the prints of a leopard inside the perimeter of the camp. But that is only the beginning – a whisper, a bare scent on the wind, to what is to occur next. For evil stalks. And not on four legs.

Boston

The call comes at eleven fifteen A.M.

I’m on Sanborn Avenue, West Roxbury, oh-two-one-three-two. The dog-I saw the dog in the window …”

 Detective Jane Rizzoli takes the call, expecting just another murder. What she gets is something unexpected. And unexpectedly gruesome, even for a long-time Boston Homicide Detective. The victim, a big game hunter and taxidermist, is hung in his own garage, gutted like one of the animals whose lives he has taken for the sheer joy of murdering them.

What happens next spans not only continents but also many years as the incidents incidents come closer and closer together, threads drawing together like a fine tapestry woven of blood and pain. But could these instances be even older, more frightening and more deadly, than Jane and Maura could have ever expected?

This is, to my mind, one of the best, and most wide ranging of Ms. Gerritsens works. The mysteries are, of course, brilliant. But the interpersonal relationships between the characters, especially Jane’s family and Maura’s life, have grown and developed over time. The interpersonal relationships between the police officers, the FBI, and the various groups who are part of the case are just as one would expect, well rounded and often aggravating.

Honestly? I was thrilled that the first Boston victim found his end the way he did. With no compassion, no love, no feelings of regret for the loss of the often endangered species he slaughters with no compunction, I cheered his passing. The book is filled with evil people who consider it their right to slaughter entire species simply so they can have a trophy head hanging on their wall. Take that evil species destroyer! But over and beyond the ideals of ecological saviours vs. ecological destroyers, this is an amazing story of an incredible country, filled with life and death, where taking your next breath can often mean an intense struggle for survival. A world where joy comes in the rise of the sun over the horizon, in sight of amazing wildlife, and the often harsh lifestyle that draws its visitors into its soul.

“But that’s what our ancestors did, Millie. This is where we all come from. Some part of you, some ancient memory deep in your brain, recognizes this continent as home. Most people have lost touch with it, but the instincts are still there.”

If you are up for an amazing novel that will draw you in and leave you breathless, you must read Die Again. It shouldn’t be missed.

Publication Date:  December 30, 2014

I received this book from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. Highly recommended!

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe-Sunday Audible Daily Deal

https://i0.wp.com/g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/Audible/en_US/images/creative/ADBLCRE-4194_audible_LOGO_L93_228x63.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/Audible/en_US/images/creative/ADBLCRE-4194_DAILYDEAL_LOGO_500X200.pngThings Fall Apart | [Chinua Achebe]

 

  • Release Date:12-29-09
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • Whispersync for Voice-ready
  • 3.90 (310 ratings)
  • Regular Price:$20.99
    Member Price:$14.69 or 1 Credit
    Daily Deal Price:$2.95

Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of European missionaries.

(From Audible.com)

Audible Editor Reviews

You can almost feel the warmth of a campfire as Peter Francis James delivers a passionate reading of Chinua Achebe’s classic African tale about power, prestige, and the Herculian struggle of one man to acquir status in the face of overwhelming odds and one gigantic obstacle after another: droughts, missionaries, poverty, and, most of all, his own powerful Shakespearian demons.

Things Fall Apart remains one of the most revered African novels ever written, and James brings an authoritative tone to this 1959 classic. Listening to his booming voice, you understand why he previously narrated portions of The Bible. His rich, baritone voice perfectly suits Achebe’s fable-like prose. James’ melodic voice lulls you into thinking this seemingly simple tale will resolve itself with everyone living happily ever after. Don’t be fooled. This short, incisive book packs a punch you might not see coming right away.

The main character, Okonkwo, aspires to be everything his father was not: industrious, serious, successful, respected. But no matter how hard this determined farmer works, fate or the forces of nature seem to conspire against him. Then things become even more complicated when a missionary comes to Okonkwo’s village. The changes seem subtle at first, but slowly the social fabric of the village begins to unravel like a loose strand of yarn in a hand-made sweater.

The razor-sharp plot twists could easily feel far-fetched in a lesser author’s hands. But Achebe earns every predicament that bedevils Okonkwo with precise sentences and perceptive insights into what drives people to do what they do. And you don’t have to know anything about Africa to relate to Okonkwo’s struggles. Like all great authors, Achebe taps into the same fears and desires that inspire and consume people around the world, for better or for worse. —Ken Ross

Publisher’s Summary

With over eight million copies in print world wide, Achebe’s work is a definitive novel in African literature. Filled with powerful language and finely drawn characters, Things Fall Apart also shimmers with the sounds and sights of village life.

Okonkwo is born into poverty, with a wastrel for a father. Driven by ambition, he works tirelessly to gain the prosperity of many fields and wives, and prestige in his village. But he is harsh as well as diligent. As he sees the traditions of his people eroded by white missionaries and government officials, he lashes out in anger.

Things Fall Apart traces the growing friction between village leaders and Europeans determined to save the heathen souls of Africa. But its hero, a noble man who is driven by destructive forces, speaks a universal tongue.

©1959 Chinua Achebe; (P)1997 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

“Deceptively simple in its prose, Things Fall Apart packs a powerful punch as Achebe holds up the ruin of one proud man to stand for the destruction of an entire culture.” (Amazon.com review)
“Peter Frances James offers a superb narration of Nigerian novelist Achebe’s deceptively simple 1959 masterpiece.” (Library Journal)

 

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