“Starry Messenger” Ethan Howard – Book Spotlight

Good vs. evil.

Two sides of the same coin deadlocked for centuries. A victor in this ultimate struggle has finally emerged on Earth. Or so it seems. In 2018, mankind has been seduced by the promise of paradise. For most, life is good and even better days remain ahead. Unknown to the population at large, the third and final great evil has absolute authority over the world’s economy, politics, religion and media.

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Insidious forces are everywhere, lurking, unseen. Nothing is what it appears to be. Earth is headed for dark times. Then a powerful and enigmatic stranger arrives from the stars. He will either save the human race or accelerate a series of events that will lead Earth inexorably to its destruction.

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“The Fire And The Forge” Jack Geurts – Book Review

Would you rather be the conquered or the conqueror?

In a world where gods pull the strings of mortals and people wield the power of the elements, the nation of Libera is attacked by its age-old enemy, the Kem, who lay waste to the land and its armies with their demonic powers of fire and steel.

Imharak, a blacksmith’s apprentice, is forced to leave his home town when it is raided and burned to the ground. 

Together with his master, Gaius, he flees into the wilderness, heading for Gaius’ brother, who is caught near a city that has just been conquered by the Kem.

What troubles Imharak is not so much the invasion, but the fact that he shares the same powers as the invaders, leading him to question where he came from.

He never knew his parents – he was raised as a Liberite and destined to be a common blacksmith. His powers had always made him an outcast, and now he starts to think he might have more in common with the conquerors than with the conquered.

Soon, Imharak will find his allegiances torn between both sides. As he and Gaius journey closer to the lion’s den, Imharak will discover who he really is and what he is capable of.

A bloody, harrowing adventure that takes its cues from ancient civilisations and mythologies, The Fire and the Forge is like no fantasy you’ve ever read.

While a lot of epic fantasy is set in a world resembling medieval Europe, The Fire and the Forge is influenced by ancient Mediterranean civilisations like Egypt, Israel, Carthage and Rome. 

It owes more to the world of the Old Testament and Mt. Olympus than the world of knights, wizards and castles.

You’ll find no elves, dwarves or goblins here. No dark lords, dragon-slayers or prophecies. 

You’ll find no good or evil, but only a grey sense of morality as people are forced to make life-or-death decisions in a harsh and brutal world.

From the very first sentence, this intimate, character-driven tale will dig its hooks into you and haul you along to the bitter end.

The Fire and the Forge Cover

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Geurts delivers a compelling tale of the reluctant orphan who finds himself to be more than he could ever have imagined. Imharak’s place in the world is so much more than the sum of his bloodline. Finding himself in the midst of invasion, Imharak must discover which side of himself to align with. Will he be the conqueror or the conquered?

“The Fire And The Forge” is incredibly quotable. Geurts weaves life lessons like a true philosopher. Like Aesop, Geurts’ writing teach caution when caution is due and encourage a critical filter while disseminating information.

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Gaius, while not being blood related to Imharak, rears the boy with love and wisdom. Gaius’ past is never far from his thoughts and he uses the bloody lessons he’s learned to give Imharak a deeper understanding of life than most in their feudal land. The love between them adds a depth to this story that most tales like this lack. It puts a very human face on fiction and weaves a story that will, brick by brick, add pieces to the readers life. I’m better for reading this story.

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Unlike most fantasy, “The Fire And The Forge” has a setting that is closer to a Roman or Egyptian civilization and it’s a very nice reprieve from the ever present “dark ages” scene. The characters range in race and culture. It’s a story rich in diversity as well as adversity.

I especially enjoyed the different “magics” illustrated here. What a powerful imagination Geurts must have. There aren’t many stories that I recommend for film but this is absolutely one of them. If given the chance, I think it would rock the world on the scale of the “Game of Thrones” series. Yes, it really is that good.

I am completely caught in Geurts’ web and won’t be getting out anytime soon. I look forward to continuing the series.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Fire And The Forge | Series: Pantheon |  Author(s): Jack Geurts  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Sales LLC / Publication Date: 9-20-2017 |Pages: 448 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B075T5D6YN |Genre(s): Fantasy / Fables / Mythology / Fairy Tales |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-26-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“Daring The Pilot” Jeannie Moon – Book Review

Keely Andersen hasn’t visited her hometown more than a handful of times in the last ten years, but when her doctoral research sends her back to Marietta for the immediate future, she can’t wait to reconnect with the community and the mountains she missed so much. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Keely’s truck breaks down a few miles outside of town. When help arrives, she finds herself face to face with her brother’s best friend – the guy she used to call big, bad and gorgeous – Jonah Clark.

Still settling back into Marietta after a harrowing stint as an army helicopter pilot, Jonah Clark plans to spend a few days hiking the local mountains to prepare for his job as a pilot for Crawford County’s Search and Rescue team. When he stops to help a stranded driver, Jonah is shocked to find his best friend’s younger sister is the one behind the wheel. Only now, instead of the geeky teen he remembered, Keely is all grown up with curves he can’t resist.

Though the sparks of attraction ignite immediately, they’re hesitant to act because of their shared past. But when a project dear to their hearts is threatened, and a boy is lost on Copper Mountain, Keely and Jonah drop everything to fight for what matters, including each other.

Daring The Pilot Cover

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“Daring The Pilot” was a sweet read that kept my attention (mostly) until the last page. While it was a bit cliche at times and easy to guess the plot at others the characters warmed my heart and their bumbling made me smile.

I loved Keely’s character and found her endearing and charming while also a good example for women in science. She was whip smart but not cocky. I loved how connected she was with her community and her parents while also forging her independence. I did find that her childhood illness used as a motivator for parental control was a bit odd since Keely had been traveling the world for many years before she made her way back home. You would think that her parents would see her dating a man she’s known her whole life as a safer route than world travel. It didn’t make a lot of sense that they would disapprove of that after so many years of Keely proving she can handle herself. This weird part of the story was off-putting and I found myself pulled out of the story.

Jonah is a mans man for sure. He’s done his fair share of traveling but unlike Keely his venue was a lot more dangerous. I liked him but didn’t love him. I feel like his character needs a lot more work to bring the reader more to his side. After finishing the book I felt like I should of known him better than I did.

A big part of what I don’t like about the story is Keely’s virginity against Jonah’s experience. I don’t like that Keely is presented on one side as this very worldly woman and on the other side is presented as this naive woman sexually. This was another part of the story that felt very unauthentic and I was once again jolted from the story.

I think Moon should take a step back and take a good long look at how she is presenting women.

3 stars.

3 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Daring The Pilot | Series: Men Of Marietta |  Author(s): Jeannie Moon  |Publisher: Tule Publishing / Publication Date: 4-4-2017 |Pages: 283 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B01N2AQ7JH |Genre(s): Romance |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-25-2017 |Source: Copy from winning a giveaway on Twitter.

 

Daring The Pilot CoverThis story is about two adults falling in love. Keely is 28 years old, preparing for her doctorate. Jonah the age of her older brother, a Captain, out of the military after numerous years, the last of which left 6of the men in his unit dead. Jonah had found Keely 10 years before in a storm that had nearly cost her her life. They are definitely not strangers to each other & definitely not children!.

A great storyline, interesting side stories, of not only the people, but the history of the Town of Marietta as well. Small town discussion (gossip) of people’s lives is prevalent. And Moms act about their adult kid’s lives the same as if they were indeed much younger. Fun stuff to read!

You will enjoy this one dear reader. Read & enjoy. – Amazon Reviewer

 

 

Book Review “Seduced By Moonlight” Laurell K. Hamilton

I am Meredith Gentry, P.I. and Princess Merry, heir to the throne of Fairie. 
Now there are those among me who whisper I am more. 
They fear me even as they protect me. And who can blame them? 
I’ve awakened the dazzling magic that’s slumbered in them for 
thousands of years. But the thing is, I can’t figure out why.

My aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, is no longer distracted by her usual sadistic hobbies. Her obsession has turned unwaveringly to me. The mission to get me pregnant and beat my cousin Prince Cel to the crown is taking longer than expected. Even though I spend each night with the Queen’s Ravens, my immortal guards, no child has come of our decadent pleasures. But something else ishappening. My magic courses through me uncontrollably. And as I lock my half-mortal body with their full-Sidhe blooded ones, the power surges like never before.

It all began with the chalice. I dreamed of it, and it appeared, cool and hard, beside me when I awoke. My guards know the ancient relic well—its disappearance ages ago stripped them of their vital powers. But it is here with us now. My touch resonates with its force, and they’re consumed with it, their Sidhe essences lit up by it. But even as they cherish me for this unexpected gift, there are those who loathe me for it. Me, a mongrel, only half fey and part mortal. The Unseelie court has suffered for so long, and there are some who would not have it weakened further by an impure queen. My enemies grow in number every day. But they do not know what I am capable of. Nor, for that matter, do I.

seduced by moonlight cover

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       Since this genre is far away from what I usually review, I’ll give you a heads up before I begin. The Merry Gentry series has way more graphic sex scenes than I can typically stomach. It’s not something I actively seek in a book and is usually something I actively avoid. Normally, my reasoning for this is that I’ve found the authors rely way too heavily on the sex to carry the story instead of it being part of the story. I’m not out here trying to read about graphic sex and not get one hell of a story with it. I guess you could say that Hamilton is one of my guilty pleasure authors. She’s the exception to my no erotica rule and it’s solely based on the fact that the characters and the worlds she creates are unlike any other in their uniqueness and creativity. She’s a master at what she writes and every single book I’ve read from her captures my imagination completely and holds me long after I’ve read the last page and closed the book. She’s one of the few authors whose books invade even my dreams.

In “Seduced By Moonlight” we follow Merry as she continues her quest to get pregnant and gain the crown of the Unseelie Sidhe over her horrible cousin Cel. Her guards grow ever closer to her heart as her enemies gather in number against her. Hamilton spends a considerable amount of the book recapping previous events but since this is pretty typical of her books it’s both a nice reminder and a bit annoying. 

Sage was a character that caught my attention. Imagine being able to change size! To be small and easily overlooked or mistaken as a moth or butterfly to being a full grown man. I always seem to find shapeshifters or I guess in this case size-shifters very interesting. The mechanics of such a transformation would be miraculous. If only fantasy were fact. I felt for Sage though. To be denied the one whom you care for most….it’s sad.

I like that Danu has chosen Merry as her “vessel”. Merry is similar to Anita Blake (another series by Hamilton) in her ruthlessness and kindness. For those familiar with both series, the similarities are apparent. While the characters lives are very different, the personalities are similar enough to throw you off now and then. It’s not really that big of a deal but a few of the phrases or comparisons are present in both books and you may need to give yourself a head shake now and then.

A good number of the main group of characters gain old powers lost or new powers never owned by them. Sholto is added to the list of of those Merry must bed and I’m looking forward to learning more about that most mysterious dark court he governs. The Slaugh parts of the story are some of my favorites as Hamilton lets her powers of imagination loose. The creatures she creates are varied in their complexities as well as appearance. I hope to see a lot more of that dark court in further novels.

There is a very disturbing scene with the Queen of Air and Darkness and her guards. The scene is extremely well written and I think a major turning point for Merry. It’s a key time when Merry chooses who she wants to be and what she is willing to allow or fight for. 

As always, I found myself lost in this world and wishing for more. Due to the repetition and tedious dialog, I’m granting 4 stars instead of 5. It’s annoying enough that even though I loved the story, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

4 star

The Technical Data:

Title: Seduced By Moonlight | Series: Merry Gentry Series |  Author(s): Laurell K. Hamilton  |Publisher: Ballantine Books / Publication Date: 2-3-2004 |Pages: 432 (Print) | ISBN: B000FC0ZDU |Genre(s): Fantasy / Dark Fantasy / Romance / Horror  |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-10-2017 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

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seduced by moonlight coverConsidering all the complications, sexual and otherwise, that Merry Gentry, heir to the faerie throne, endured in A Kiss of Shadows (2000) and A Caress of Shadows (2002), it’s no surprise to find the start of Hamilton’s third book in her erotic fantasy series weighed down by attempts to conversationally recap earlier convolutions. Even readers of the first two books might have problems sorting out exactly why Merry is messing with the goblin king via magic mirror. Though the author maintains interest through such devices as an imaginative sex scene involving Merry, two of her sidhe studs and a doll-sized, winged, blood-sucking demi-fey, it takes a milieu switch from L.A. to St. Louis and the Unseelie court for the plot to take off and become a page turner. Merry confronts faerie politics that make Machiavelli look like a rookie, while her aunt’s sadistic madness leads to what must rank as one of the bloodier scenes of fictional slaughter. – Publishers Weekly

 

 

 

 

“Naveed – Through My Eyes” John Heffernan

The explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

From the winter of war comes the spring of hope.

Naveed Cover

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     I found this book while browsing the kids chapter books at my local library. It was one of those books the librarians shelve cover out so it caught my eye rather quickly. I picked it up and after reading the summary decided it sounded like a book I should read and maybe later add to my kids homeschool reading list when they are the appropriate age. I often grab a chapter book along with the younger kids books and if they sound like something that would interest my four year old now, I read them to him. My four year old is much too young for this book but it’s absolutely a book I’ve added to our reading list for later years. 

“Naveed” offers two unique perspectives that, as an American, I don’t often get to see. An Australian solider and a young Afghan boy. Naveed may be a child but his struggles are anything but small. Naveed’s mother relies on him to provide for the family and Naveed works hard to do so. He also provides for his younger sister who, due to a bomb, has lost her legs. Naveed carries a heavy load of responsibilities but it’s clear that he carries them with love. Naveed’s love for his family is beautiful. He has known nothing but war and it’s touched every single piece of his young life.  

After a bomb took away his father and severely injured his sister, Naveed’s family lives in a hovel and their situation is precarious. The land lord is a bad man who has even worse friends and cares for no one but himself. He sets his eyes on Naveed’s mother and I held my breath with worry about Naveed’s family and how or if they would find a way out of that nasty man’s reach.

Naveed is adopted by Nasera (the dog) and his life takes on a whirlwind of change. By chance he meets Jake and opportunities open that he never thought possible. Naveed’s world is almost broken by a relative (whose really broken himself) and for a time, everything is thrown into chaos once again.

I want to talk about that chaos for just a minute. In the west, we are so quick to see a terrorist and dehumanize them. We don’t think of all the things that built up and turned this otherwise unassuming person into an extremist. Heffernan brings humanity back in this tale and gives us a look into what goes into the makings of a terrorist. It’s not harped upon but Heffernan gives us a window into a world I don’t think we discuss or even acknowledge nearly enough.

Kudo’s to John Heffernan for doing his part to put a very human face on a very ugly war. May his stories enrich our lives and encourage us to find peace with one another.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Naveed | Series: Through My Eyes |  Author(s): John Heffernan  |Publisher: Allen & Unwin / Publication Date: 9-1-2015 |Pages: 216 (Print) | ISBN: B00YVBQO8Q |Genre(s): Middle East / War / Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-05-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

 

“Double Dealing In Dubuque” Dean Klinkenberg

     Writer Frank Dodge is feeling optimistic for a change. He just landed a plum assignment from a national magazine to write about the growth of boutique food in the Midwest. Dodge’s mood quickly turns sour, though, when his scheming rival Helen shows up–is she trying to steal another story from him? When a fire erupts at the food convention Dodge is scouting out, two people die and Dodge can’t shake the feeling that the fire was no accident.
 
Dodge’s search for the truth will take him from the specialty shops of Galena, Illinois, through the neighborhoods of Dubuque, Iowa, and to the murky backwaters of the Mississippi River, landing him in the middle of a volatile feud between ice cream queen Stella and chocolatier Ashley.
 
Can he keep Helen at bay as he investigates the fire? And how far will Stella and Ashley ultimately go to skewer each other? Double-Dealing in Dubuque is a compelling novel that delves into what can go wrong when feuds get out of hand.

Double Dealing in Dubuque Cover

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There is so much that I loved about this book! It was so good! Frank Dodge is witty and very clever. He may stick out like a sore thumb at times with his fancy hats but as different as he is….he’s also right at home along the river. His love and acceptance of others cultures was moving. He has a depth and realness to him that really made this book. He also has a way with people that I would think comes in handy in his profession. He has this down-home quality that inspires people to trust him….. which leads to confessions. Oh…the confessions!

 Klinkenberg has real talent with crafting characters. Each new person introduced as I read added another layer to this story. From a bartender to a backwoods bear of man, every single person adds authenticity to the river culture. The river is really it’s own character. Everyone’s lives revolve around it in some way and there’s no doubt it’s got a bit of a siren song. It calls to many and doesn’t let go of some. The Midwest really does have it’s own magic and allure that is too often overlooked. Thankfully, books like Klinkenberg’s come along and fix that. If after reading “Double Dealing In Dubuque” you don’t feel the call of the river……I don’t know if anything will call you….ever.

Want diversity in your reading? Well this book delivers in the best way. Not only is Frank a gay man but it’s not a defining part of his character! Do you get that? It’s as mundane as his hair color! Why? Because who Frank loves isn’t who he is, it’s a part of him…not one label but one of many. I loved how Klinkenberg handled Frank’s “relationships”. Our partner preference isn’t the whole of our identity and thanks a million to Klinkenberg for pioneering that logic into his writing! I don’t want to drop any spoilers but…..the end….I’ll admit it…I cried. It was beautiful and tragic and sad. Really, really sad.

By the way, don’t read this book on an empty stomach. Actually, wait…maybe you should. “Double Dealing In Dubuque” inspired me to try all kinds of new restaurants. The food in this story will inspire you to find a few pounds you weren’t previously sporting though but, you know what, YOLO. Ha ha, but really. Try the foods. Klinkenberg knows what he’s talking about. 

I loved everything about this story. It moves fast but not too fast and the story keeps you engaged with plenty of twists to make you wonder just “who dun it”. I enjoyed the story and I know you will to.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Double Dealing In Dubuque | Series: Frank Dodge Mysteries |  Author(s): Dean Klinkenberg  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 7-7-2017 |Pages: 298 (Print) | ISBN: B072TM35FR |Genre(s): Mystery |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

 

 

Books That Matter

As a parent, one of my main goals is to raise my kids to care. Not just care, but care deeply. I want my kids to see other’s suffering and genuinely want to change it. I am doing my best to contribute to a generation that has the skills (emotional, educational & physical) to face the trails headed their way. Trials like deep inequality, rampant homelessness, lack of adequate food, clothing, health care and sadly the repercussions of perpetual war. I want my kids to feel empowered to make changes. A good way to do that is to give them a deep understanding of each issue. Books are a great tool to achieve this.

Malala Yousafzai Quote

    When I was growing up war was just the way things were. No one took the time to explain to me that there were other ways to handle attacks from other countries. I remember sitting in my classroom in middle school as the Twin Towers were hit by those planes. We watched the people jumping from the buildings on our tiny bulbous screen hung in the top corner of our classroom. About the time my teacher realized that people were jumping to their death in front of a class of children she turned the TV off. 

Another teacher came into my class and the two of them angrily discussed blowing those terrorists to smithereens. My classmates heatedly discussed how America would kill them all. In middle school…the KIDS went straight to death. There was no talk of any other way to handle the attack. I remember sitting and looking at all that anger and hate and all I could feel was devastation at the choice those people jumping had been forced to make. My mind reeled with the horror I knew was coming to the country responsible. I knew in a round about kind of way what happens in wars. I knew because every chance I had I was reading story after story about anything and everything. I cared because from a very young age my brain was used to thinking from anothers perspective.

I want my kids to think diplomatically and find solutions other than to kill everyone. I want my kids to understand that a handful of people from a country do not represent an entire populace. I want my kids to find solutions to complicated issues.

Einstein Quote about peace

  One way to do that is to read them or have them read stories that illustrate the consequences of war and poverty. I recently stumbled upon the “Through My Eyes” series while browsing books in my local library. At 20 months and 4 years my kids are still too young to read these but you can bet I will introduce them later. I suggest you read through them and introduce them to your kids when appropriate. 

Naveed CoverThe explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

Amina CoverAmina lives on the edges of Mogadishu. Her family’s house has been damaged in Somalia’s long civil war, but they continue to live there, reluctant to leave their home. Amina’s world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her father because his art has been officially censored, deemed too political. Then rebel forces kidnap Amina’s brother, forcing him to become a soldier in Somalia’s brutal ongoing war.

Although her mother and grandmother are still with her, Amina feels vulnerable and abandoned. Secretly, she begins to create her own artwork in the streets and the derelict buildings to give herself a sense of hope and to let out the burden of her heart. Her artwork explodes into Mogadishu’s underground world, providing a voice for people all over the city who hope for a better, more secure future.

 

Shahana Cover‘Open your eyes. We will not hurt you.’
The boy quietens; his eyes open.
‘Where are you from?’
The boy stares at them both; then says, ‘Who will you tell?’

Shahana lives alone with her young brother in the shadow of the Line of Control, the border patrolled by Pakistani and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. Life is hard, but Shahana ekes out a living with her beautiful embroidery. Then she finds a boy lying unconscious near the border. Zahid is from across the Line of Control, and Shahana takes a terrible risk by sheltering him. But how can she give Zahid up to the authorities when she knows he’ll be imprisoned – or worse?

An unforgettable novel about one young girl in war-torn Kashmir.

Emilio CoverFor high-school student Emilio Garcia Lopez, it’s an ordinary school day. But that evening the knock on the door announcing the arrival of his police officer cousin Juanita, flanked by a tall man in the uniform of the Federal Police, will turn his ordinary day into the beginning of a long nightmare. Emilio’s mother has been kidnapped in broad daylight from a hotel car park by unidentified criminals, who appear to know a great deal about her business and who have mistaken her for a wealthy businesswoman. An action-packed story set in a contemporary conflict zone.

 

 

Malini CoverMalini lives with her parents and young sister, Banni, in northern Sri Lanka. As the civil war heads towards its catastrophic end, Malini and her family are herded by Tamil Tiger troops towards the coast where they and thousands of other Tamil civilians will act as human shields. When Malini’s father pushes a phone into her hands and tells her to run off into the forest with Banni, Malini does as she is told. But then the shelling begins, and Malini has no way of finding her mother and father. With the role of parent thrust upon her, Malini has no choice but to travel to her grandfather’s village a long way inland. She and Banni will need to keep off the highways and stay alert for soldiers. But where will the next meal come from? Who can they trust? Where will they shelter? And will they ever be reunited with their parents again?

Zafir CoverZafir has a comfortable life in Homs, Syria, until his father, a doctor, is arrested for helping a protester who was campaigning for revolution. While his mother heads to Damascus to try to find out where his father is being held, Zafir stays with his grandmother – until her house is bombed. With his father in prison, his mother absent, his grandmother ill and not a friend left in the city, Zafir must stay with his Uncle Ghazi. But that too becomes dangerous as the city becomes more and more besieged. Will Zafir survive long enough to be reunited with his parents?

“That Book I Wrote About Me” by Sarah Buchanan

After three ex-husbands, two successful novels, and one disastrous book she’d rather forget ever having written, Fiona Fields has hit a wall. Days once filled with critics gushing over her latest masterpiece have given way to endless hours spent lying on her living room floor in Lakeview Valley, the tiny North Carolina mountain town of her youth, and staring at her ceiling. 

But after Fiona’s agent calls with an opportunity intended to drag her back into the land of the living, Fiona finds herself inspired by her ex-step-daughter, Karen, and she’s soon off and running with a brand new idea for a book and a brand new lease on life (sort of).

What Fiona doesn’t anticipate is long-buried family secrets revealing themselves and threatening to upend her newfound momentum. As she struggles to make sense of revelations about the life she thought she knew, Fiona will find that the past often shows up in the present in very unexpected ways, and that, try as she might, she’s not exempt from the 215-year-old Lakeview tradition of long-forgotten secrets coming to light in spectacular fashion.

that book i wrote about me Cover

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Sarah Buchanan’s debut novel “That Book I Wrote About Me” is bursting at the seams with classic small time charm, beautifully flawed characters and a story that will make you wish Fiona were your best friend.

Fiona has been through a lot but she always rises above. It may not be without some pushing and shoving but nothing keeps Fiona down long. She’s strong, but not so much in your face about it. She makes mistakes. Drunken, hilariously awkward mistakes…..but her oopsies make her all the more lovable since she really means no harm in her blunders. She’s real and honest and raw. Unlike her mother and the stereotypical small town woman, Fiona lets the world see who she really is. She doesn’t hide the proverbial crazy.

My favorite thing about Fiona is her golden heart. Those she loves, she loves hard. Ex-husbands, ex-step daughters….everyone. She genuinely gives a crap about their lives. Even when, by all rights she could walk away completely. She’s that ex that becomes the friend that made you fall in love with her to begin with.

There is a part of the book where Fiona tapes up a picture of her first ex that sticks in my mind. First loves are a whirlwind of emotion that lingers no matter how things end. Probably more so when there’s no real closure. Watching Fiona comb through her past and work through old hurts really resonated with me. We’ve all thought “What if”. We’ve all sifted through our past with plenty of cringes and a boat load of sighs. Experiencing those alongside Fiona was therapeutic in a way books like this usually aren’t. I think it was the authenticity of Fiona’s character. It was the authenticity of her resentment and bitterness. It was the healing and forgiving of everyone…..especially herself. It takes a lot of bravery to analyze yourself and admit that you messed up. Especially when your mistakes cause other people more pain than you initially thought it would and you find yourself face to face with the consequences others are facing from your blunder. Fiona faces this with as much grace as a hang over will allow but she means what she says and that right there is enough to make you love her. Apologies are just words unless you can really see that the person who messed up is filled with regret and remorse.

To see such strong work from a new author is exciting to say the least. What’s more exciting is “That Book I Wrote About Me” is the first novel in the “Lakeview Valley” series. Buchanan hooked me with this book and I am staying on the line to find out what’s next for our bumbling Fiona as well as the whole of Lakeview. I strongly recommend you hop on the hook and join me.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: That Book I Wrote About Me | Series: Lakeview Valley |  Author(s): Sarah Buchanan  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 6-9-2017 |Pages: 234 (Print) | ISBN:  B071PBSMNP |Genre(s): Contemporary / Women’s Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-14-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“The Breeders” Katie French

When you’re an endangered species, it’s either LIVE or LOVE. 

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches-moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything and they’re hunting Riley. 

 
When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family, Riley and her brother Ethan are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom? The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico. When Riley is forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother-a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

Over 75,000 downloads so far. More than 400 four and five star reviews. Top Ten in Free Kindle Teen & Young Adult Science Fiction Dystopian Romance. Winner of Kindle Book Awards 2014 Semifinalist. 

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“The Breeders” is a perfect example of post-apocalyptic fiction. French’s creation of this post-apocalyptic world is impeccable and I was hard pressed to put it down. Riley is a complex character who will draw you deep into this world and never let go. Her gumption and her wit make her a character that equals that of Katniss or Tris. Add her to the list of great heroines.

French’s world is the run away train of sexism. Where women are so undervalued and poorly treated until they become rare and needed. You would think that would make the treatment of them improve. Not a chance. Instead women are a commodity. A means to an end. Their worth measured by their ability to reproduce. Sounds a lot like another book I know. 

I think this theme is so popular in our society because for hundreds of years that’s the meat of how women are seen. Take a long look at some of the fundamentalist cults America houses. Women are tightly controlled. Their lives rigidly regulated. Sex is merely pleasure for a man and something to endure for women. In this world, the breeders are there for just that. To breed women. Think puppy mill….only with humans and the cages are a bit fancier…..until they aren’t.

World’s like French’s are important to note and learn from. This is what could happen. Fiction in all it’s forms is a learning tool. It’s a way to see where those extremist groups and views can lead. Let us take note of it’s horror and learn.

This book has a few inconsistencies that could use to be addressed with another good edit but other than that it’s a solid book that I enjoyed reading.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Breeders | Series: Breeders Series |  Author(s): Katie French  |Publisher: Katie French Books / Publication Date: 2-18-2014 |Pages: 256 (Print) | ISBN: B008RH5MFQ  |Genre(s): Dystopian / Science Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 5-27-2017 |Source: Copy from Kindle Unlimited.

 

Book Review “The Last Orphans” N. W. Harris

One horrifying day will change the life of sixteen-year-old Shane Tucker and every other kid in the world. 

In a span of mere hours, the entire adult population is decimated, leaving their children behind to fend for themselves and deal with the horrific aftermath of the freak occurrence. As one of the newly made elders in his small town, Shane finds himself taking on the role of caretaker for a large group of juvenile survivors. One who just happens to be Kelly Douglas–an out-of-his-league classmate–who, on any other day, would have never given Shane a second glance.

Together, they begin their quest to find out why all of the adults were slaughtered. What they find is even more horrifying than anything they could have expected–the annihilation of the adults was only the beginning. Shane and his friends are not the unlucky survivors left to inherit this new, messed-up planet. No, they are its next victims. There is an unknown power out there, and it won’t stop until every person in the world is dead.

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Prepare yourselves, this book moves fast. It’s non-stop action the entire read. There is never a good stopping point and every single time you have to close the book it will cause you literal pain!

Shane is a kid whose entire life goes to hell in a hand-basket far quicker than it has any right to. This book is a great insight into how quickly things really can fall the heck apart. The death scenes are brutal and horrific but I do have to give Harris kudos for his imagination. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a single bug again without thinking of this book.

Some of the realities of this story and the choices that the characters have to make was heart wrenching. No one thinks about tiny babies in these scenarios. Once that was brought up it stuck in my mind and still sneaks into my mind when I really REALLY don’t want it to. Because really, I would like to think that I would go house to house rounding up babies to take care of but……with the ever growing chaos and the continuing decline of older kids and safe places….it’s something to think about for sure.

Harris has created a world that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. I’m looking forward to continuing the series and getting more answers to exactly what is really going on. 

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Last Orphans | Series: The Last Orphans |  Author(s): N. W. Harris  |Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing / Publication Date: 10-9-2014 |Pages: 277 (Print) | ISBN: B00NJCL302 |Genre(s): Teen / Young Adult  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 4-25-2017 |Source: Copy from personal collection.