Thursday, February 25, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway - EDGE: A Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal Collection

I'm happy to present a book blitz for one edgy paranormal collection! (See what I did there?) Truly though, collections like this are one of my favorite ways to discover new authors. Are you looking for your next read? Why not check out the Edge Collection.

EDGE: A Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal Collection 

Publication date: April 5th 2016

Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Young Adult

Limited Edition Paranormal Boxed Set
20 New York Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors.
20 of today’s most magical, sought-after titles.
Yours for only $0.99.
Twenty Edgy Young Adult & New Adult Paranormal Tales
Twenty of today’s favorite young adult and new adult authors have come together to bring you a collection packed with full-length, spellbinding reads sure to keep you keep you on the edge of your seat and up way past your bedtime!
But reader beware: These novels take everything to the edge–and not just the edge of your seat. With authors who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries, you get stories that take everything to limit, creating whimsical reads that teens can actually relate to and that adults can enjoy, too.
Save over $50! This set is only available at this price for a limited time, so scroll up and grab your copy before it’s gone!

PRE-ORDER today for only 99¢!

Sneak a peek at a couple of books in this collection:

Pretty Little Wherewolf

“Whatever, Di. Help if you must, but don’t baby me.”
If Di heard her, she didn’t respond. Not that Giselle needed verbal confirmation; she turned back around and slammed her locker shut without looking, and then stumbled straight into something… someone… hard.
“Oh, sorry,” Giselle mumbled, trying to steady herself. She hadn’t caught the scent until after she looked up and saw who she’d almost knocked down – or, well, collided with. She couldn’t have knocked him down if she’d tried.
Hello, Boy!
He was magnificent. Was every guy in this school a male model? Towering over her at well above six foot, with muscles that went on for days, he was built like a statue with a hard jaw and stone-cold eyes to match. Though his looks were definitely worth paying attention to, it was his smell that had her standing dumbfounded. In all the years since she’d first experienced the change, she had never run into anyone like her. Now, standing here right in front of her was yet another wolf. She’d thought the lingering scent of wet earth might have been left in Di’s wake, but the longer he stood here, looking down at her, the stronger the smell got.
“Do you have a problem?” he asked with a voice that complemented that spectacular body of his. Smooth and deep. Seriously… what a package. Her wolf was definitely at attention and begging for a second to come to the surface for a closer inspection. It was all she could do not to wolf out right there in the hallway, with all the students around to see. Yeah. That would make for a great first impression.
Hiya, everyone… I’m the new girl, and… oh, yeah, and I’m a wolf, too. She might as well tape an old “Kick me” sign on her back; it would be less conspicuous.
While she was practically drooling where she stood, the strange boy, wolf, man –whatever he was – looked positively murderous. “Are you going to stand here all day, or can I get to my locker?”
So much for making a good first impression on him. “Sorry.” Giselle cleared her throat, wanting to say something smart, but for once, she didn’t have the words. She sidestepped sheepishly, and enjoyed the back view of him as he brushed past her to his own locker.
Damn. Nice butt.
Her wolf agreed, too. Wonder what his wolf looks like. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours! She couldn’t help but stare. How often did she run into other wolves? Male wolves.

Other Side of Forever

“Allie, why do you hate me so much?” he asked softly as he stared into the sky.
His question took me by surprise. Did he really think that?
“I…I don’t hate you, Ethan.” I stumbled over my words. “I barely know you.”
“Then why do you try so hard to avoid me?”
“I don’t,” I lied, knowing that I did, but not in a mean type of way. I closed my eyes and sighed, wishing he didn’t have to ask so many questions. Couldn’t he just go back to saying nothing at all?
“You do,” he argued. I could hear the change in his voice. He was smiling.
“No. I don’t,” I answered sarcastically. His persistence was pinching my nerves.
“Then look at me,” he challenged.
Without thinking, I turned my head and looked at him. His warm, sweet breath blew against my face as he exhaled. The scent of peppermint. His dark eyes snatched me up and whisked me away. I was lost and unprepared as he drew me deeper and deeper inside him. The walls he created around me were getting higher and harder to climb. Like I had slipped into a trench and I was sinking into the earth.
Ethan pressed forward, attempting to close the gap between us. His lips were so close to mine I could feel the heat emanating from them. And just as our lips were about to brush, the voice in my head begged and pleaded and screamed for me to stop.
Then I turned away.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Book Spotlight: Tearing Down the Statues by Brian Bennudriti

I'm on vacation this week, and what better way to spend some time off then finding new and exciting books to read! Check out one of my finds below. 
Misling is a Recorder, having perfect memory and expected to help build a seamless record of history. That’s what the Salt Mystic taught us two thousand years ago when she came stumbling from the flats with her visions. Unfortunately he’s probably the worst Recorder ever. So when he meets a joker with an incredible secret, the two of them are soon on the run from swarming lunatics and towering assault troops in the heart of a city
under siege.

As it has for three generations, the horrible Talgo family is the spark of this swelling world war; and their wily generals and scheming counselors clash their fleets in battles of shrieking steel-entrained tornados, cannonballs of lightning, and tanks the size of cities. But it’s the joker’s secret that is the most powerful weapon of all…a trigger set by the Salt Mystic herself in myth, to save the world from itself.

Mystics, world war, perfect memories, this sounds like a world I'd be interested in reading about. Does this spark your interest too? Buy links are below, check it out!

Buy it on:
Brian Bennudriti has degrees in Physics and Business. He’s taken a nuclear reactor critical, piloted a destroyer, slept in the Omani desert, negotiated multi-million dollar acquisitions, run two companies, provided strategic and management consulting across the United States and traveled around the world in every hemisphere. He’s a plankowner on the aircraft carrier, USS Harry S Truman and has made a lifetime study of religious beliefs and mythology. Brian lives in Kansas City with his wife, two children, two dogs and a lizard. His first book, Tearing Down The Statues, as published in 2015.

 Connect with Brian  on Facebook and Twitter.
 Find out more about Brian at Goodreads.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Review: The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Mapmaker's Children
Author: Sarah McCoy
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: Paperback; 336
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Source: TLC Book Tours
Genre: Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy lushly written historical fiction with vivid characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.

Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.

Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

I find it necessary to tell you that I'm an extremely picky reader when it comes to Historical Fiction. As a genre, it just never seems to hold my attention as well as most others. However, once in a while I find a gem. A book that not only captures my imagination, but enfolds me in the rich history that hides inside of it. Sarah McCoy creates this beautiful, lifelike story that just begs you to keep reading. I'm proud to say that I devoured this book, and was eager for more.

The Mapmaker's Children brings to life the story of Sarah Brown, the daughter of abolitionist leader John Brown. While this is fiction, you can tell that there is a hefty amount of fact woven seamlessly in. Sarah's bravery, her artistic ability, her fierce love for her family, were all penned expertly into this story. I felt like I was right beside her, for all the pain and all the joy. She was such a strong woman, and I took an instant liking to her passion for the fight. With every page, I grew to love her more and more. McCoy makes you care, and it's brilliant. Brilliant, and heartbreaking.

Tied up in Sarah's story is the story of another, more modern day, woman named Eden. In fact, The Mapmaker's Children is told in alternating chapters between these two. Generally I'm not a fan of alternating points of view. In this case though, it works just perfectly. See, Eden's home holds secrets. Secrets that, as I soon discovered, directly tied in to Sarah's history as well. I was enamored with this fact. That two women, so similar and yet so different, could be tied together by fate. If Sarah's character wasn't enough to make me love this book, seeing her history slowly uncovered in parallel with Eden's life made it all the more enjoyable. I won't spoil, but trust me when I say that it's well worth the wait.

Truly, I could go on and on about this book. There's so much to it. It has this lushness about it that just makes you fall into the pages and not want to crawl out again. The settings are vivid, the characters are three dimensional, and the entire book has this sense of familial love to it that just made me feel at home. It takes a lot to impress me lately, but this book absolutely did. The Mapmaker's Children definitely deserves a space on your to-be-read pile.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Book Review: Low Town (Low Town #1) by Daniel Polansky

Media Type: Audio Book
Title: Low Town
  * Series: Low Town #1
Author: Daniel Polansky
Publisher: Random House
Pages: Paperback; 354
Release Date: August 16, 2001 (Reprint)
Source: Library
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Noir Fantasy

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Any reader who loves a dark fantasy story with a well fleshed out main character.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its cham­pion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancred the Harelip and Ling Chi, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens. 

The Warden’s life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his dis­covery of a murdered child down a dead-end street . . . set­ting him on a collision course with the life he left behind. As a former agent with Black House—the secret police—he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing, the kind of crime that doesn’t get investi­gated. To protect his home, he will take part in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psy­chotic head of Black House, but the truth is far darker than he imagines. In Low Town, no one can be trusted. 

Daniel Polansky has crafted a thrilling novel steeped in noir sensibilities and relentless action, and set in an original world of stunning imagination, leading to a gut-wrenching, unforeseeable conclusion. Low Town is an attention-grabbing debut that will leave readers riveted . . . and hun­gry for more.
As I am writing this while slightly loopy on cold meds, please pardon any rambling that might ensue. It doesn't change the fact that Low Town impressed me so very much, that it has firmly settled Daniel Polansky into my favorite authors list. After reading a short story of his, and then devouring a much longer piece, I can tell you that he is an amazing writer in all formats. His worlds brim with atmosphere, his characters are gritty and realistic, but best of all it always feels like you're seated right in the thick of it. This book was utterly addictive, and I'm honestly so sad that it's over.

If you asked me to classify this, I'd have a hard time settling on any genre. Low Town is a fantasy, because magic is in play. However it's also noir fiction, in that Warden falls solidly on the wrong side of the law. There's a gritty quality to this story. Polansky takes the hand of the reader, and slowly leads them into the darkest parts of society. The parts where the drugs run thick, danger is around every corner, and the supposed "law men" are actually the worst of the bunch. What I loved about this was that it set Warden in this gray area between worlds. Once a crony of the state, now a crime boss of sorts, poor Warden floats in this intriguing purgatory of his own making. It allows for so much depth, in both his character and the story that surrounds him.

Which, honestly, is why I liked Warden as a character so much. Polansky never labels Warden as a "bad guy" or a "good guy". He's just a man, faced with tons of impossible choices, struggling to make a life the best that he can. I never felt cause to judge him for his choices. In fact, more often than not, I silently cheered him on for choosing to do things the hard way. It's tough to create a character who has a good heart, but does bad things. Polansky does it without even blinking. Warden is wonderful, terrible, and tragic all wrapped up into one. I adored and respected him for it.

If you think that the impressive world building, and the brilliantly layered characters, were all that you were going to get? Well, you'd be wrong. On top of all of that, is the type of mystery that keeps you reading well into the night. As I mentioned before, Warden isn't exactly the shiniest character you've ever met. He has enemies, and worst of all he has enemies from both his prior and his current life. Polansky took this opportunity to craft a dark and gritty mystery. One steeped in magic and surrounded by death. I liked Warden before he was wrapped up in this mystery, but I loved him afterwards.

Long story short, this is absolutely a series that I'll be following. There's not a single thing about it that I didn't fall head over heels in love with. If you're looking for something a bit different, you might want to check this out. I'll tell you, it's put Daniel Polansky on my shelf of favorites. It might do the same for you.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Asleep by Krystal Wade

To celebrate the release of the spine-chilling YA psychological thriller ASLEEP by Krystal Wade, I'm part of an epic blog tour that has plenty of content and tons of giveaways! 

ASLEEP is the debut novel from Blaze Publishing, and answers the question of what happens when Sleeping Beauty meets Freddy Krueger. What's not to love about that kind of premise? 

Krystal Wade
Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: February 16th 2016
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
“To cure fear, you must use fear.”

Rose Briar claims no responsibility for the act that led to her imprisonment in an asylum. She wants to escape, until terrifying nightmares make her question her sanity and reach out to her doctor. He’s understanding and caring in ways her parents never have been, but as her walls tumble down and Rose admits fault, a fellow patient warns her to stop the medications. Phillip believes the doctor is evil and they’ll never make it out of the facility alive. Trusting him might be just the thing to save her. Or it might prove the asylum is exactly where she needs to be.

If you want to see more of ASLEEP, you can still find the Ten Weeks of Teasers and other great content on the Blaze Publishing blog. Order your copy now!

Krystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers-who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas-sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read. How else can she cope with a fifty mile commute?

Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to.

They keep her sane.

Want to stay up to date on everything from Blaze Publishing? Sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss a thing! The first 100 subscribers get free Blaze bookmarks (UK, US, and Canada only) AND get added to our Loyal 100 group, which gives you access to exclusive news, teasers, prizes, and ARCs.

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We're giving away some awesome prizes to celebrate the release of ASLEEP, including this stylish cuff! Enter with the Rafflecopter below and tell your friends!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Review: Of Light and Darkness by Shayne Leighton

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Of Light And Darkness
   * Series: Of Light And Darkness #1
Author: Shayne Leighton
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Kindle (2nd Ed.); 400
Source: Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Fantasy

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy discovering worlds situated on the fringe of our own.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Shayne Leighton's stunning New Adult debut is a fiercely imaginative, multilayered dark fantasy where Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus meets Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles in a story about a girl caught between two societies . . . two magic sides . . . and two loves.

Raised by a Vampire in a secret society of Witches, Shifters, and Elves, Charlotte finds that she is the freak in her world of magic and wonder. When she stands before an army of impossible obstacles, the likelihood of survival in this coming-of-age modern fairy tale is slim, resulting in a war between light and darkness.

Charlotte knows no other home than the one nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe, where Witches draw spells of enchantment, Shifters throw tea parties, and Elves are the closest in kin.

As genocide and war threatens her life and her home, Charlotte will not allow her one true love to be destroyed. Fighting for her adopted coven of rogue monsters, she will do whatever it takes to save them...and she'll do it before the sun comes up and light takes over forever!

Truth be told, I'm still on the fence about Of Light and Darkness. I had to take some time after finishing to step back, and really think about my feelings regarding this book. This is marketed as Urban Fantasy, which is one of my favorite genres. I love the strong heroines, and that thin line they walk between romance and suspense. For the most part, this book held exactly what I had hoped for. There were just a few nagging things that kept me sitting right on that fence.

Let's start with Charlotte. I actually really enjoyed Charlotte as a character. She was strong, intelligent, and full of that type of fire that tends to get a character into trouble. I enjoyed the fact that she was able to think for herself, instead of getting caught up in the concerns of the rest of the town. Actually, I liked Valek too. He was convincing as that charismatic, but on the edge of blood lust, vampire. I felt his draw, and understood why Charlotte was so attracted to him. Although I never really felt that there was an actual chemistry between them, romance wise, I at least understood her fascination.

In fact, the romance aspect of this book is where I had most of my issues. It just wasn't that believable. Even though I eventually became comfortable with the idea of Charlotte and Valek involved in that capacity, despite their beginning as a master and a young ward, I never felt the sparks between them. The fact that Charlotte pined for Valek, but was shocked by his baser instincts, didn't make sense to me. If she had studied up on vampires, she should have known that Valek's darker side existed. You can't have the light without the dark.

While the world building could have been a little bit more in depth, it's also the part that really kept me reading. Charlotte's home is a place on the fringe of what we, as humans, know exists. The concept of cities full of paranormal creatures, bordering the human world really spoke to me. I loved it! Especially because Charlotte was one of the few who could hop back and forth. Add in political intrigue, and a brewing war, and you have the type of story that I can really sink my teeth into. I just wished it was a little more solid.

So, as you can see, I'm pretty much firmly on the fence about Of Light and Darkness. I'm hoping that there might be more coming, and maybe this will all just be the foundation for something more solidly written. Still, I see a lot of promise in this story and I'm sure there are plenty of you out there who would fully enjoy Charlotte's escapades! Give it a shot.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Spotlight: Chosen Soldiers by R.H. Scott

It's time for another book spotlight!

Are you a fan of dystopian adventures? If you are, Chosen Soldiers by R.H. Scott is a great choice. Check out the synopsis below:
After the missiles tore up the Earth, societies crumbled, leaving scattered patches of humanity struggling to survive. Slowly, a group came together, helping each other regrow a world worth living in.

And then the Others attacked.

Realizing the need to truly protect themselves, they formed the Academy: a place where young people could be built into an elite military force. The training is intense…and so are the consequences for failure.

Sloan Radcliffe is not a failure. In fact, she’s the best of the best—the girls’ Senior Champion—and the only one who can match her is matched to her: her betrothed, Jared Dawson. They are the perfect couple: exemplary fighters, pure leaders, and exceptional role models. But as their time at the Academy draws to a close, Sloan is starting to see signs that maybe their life is built upon secrets…and that secrets are never a strong foundation.

With the battlefront looming and whispers growing louder, Sloan is caught up not only between her loyalties to her people, but also to the man she loves.

A combination of military sci-fi and dystopian thriller, R. H. Scott’s Chosen Soldiers is an intense look at a young woman’s world shattering under the weight of its own illusions

I really enjoy the whole dystopian genre and this sounds like a great story. A strong female lead is also intriguing and I can't wait to read it. Will you join in the fun?

Find it on:
Amazon | BookLikes | B&N | Kobo

R.H. Scott, born 1991, has spent the better part of her life travelling with her mother and sisters. Having lived on three continents by the age of 21, she developed a unique interest in differing societies and psychology. Scott completed a Bachelor of Arts Sociology & Socio-Legal Studies and is currently working on her MSc Experimental Psychology. The granddaughter of two published authors, writing has been a lifelong passion, and outside of her academic endeavors, Miss Scott writes full time, enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and reading.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Spotlight: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

To those of you who have the day off today, I hope you're spending it reading an amazing book! If you haven't quite found your next read yet, let me assist you by sharing today's book spotlight. This time, it's all about Robert Eggelton and Rarity from the Hollow.

Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with
her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who's becoming very skilled at laying fiber optic cable. Lacy Dawn's android boyfriend has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth's earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop 'till You Drop): he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for continued existence within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. Lacy Dawn’s magic enables her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family.

What intrigues me most about this particular book spotlight, is the fact that this story has so much intrigue right in the synopsis. It seems like there is a bit of tongue in cheek humor, a bit of a message, and a ton of great character building. This got my attention as soon as I saw it, and I hope it worked for you as well! 

Buy links are below, and please enjoy an excerpt as well.

Buy it on:

Excerpt: From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:

            …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
            I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me? 
            “Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods. 
            Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
            I will always love you guys. 
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.   
            Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 
            Jenny looked to the left of the path.
            There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 
            She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
            “All right, you mother f**ker!”
            “Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."
            DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.   
            "Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.
            “Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
            “You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
            Stay between them.
            “Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.” 
            “You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce. 
            “MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
            Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
            He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.   
            “DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
            Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.  
            “Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.” 
            I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
            “Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”      
            Jenny's left eye twitched. 
            DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…    
            …(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
            "He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
            “What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
            “Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
            Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
            "What's that?" Jenny asked. 
            She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
            “But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
            “Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
            “Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more…. 
            It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on herThat's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thingHell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby. 
            “What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
            “I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
            “My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said. 
            They both glared at him. 
            "Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said. 
            “Okay, Mommy.”
            “I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her. 
            “I love you too,” DotCom said.
            Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.   
            Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997. Today, he is a recently retired psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.
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Sunday, February 14, 2016

FFBC Book Review: Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey

by Laura Williams McCaffrey
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Rate: 3 Keys to My Heart


Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed—marked—as a criminal. Then she is offered redemption and she jumps at the chance . . . but it comes at a cost. Doing what is right means betraying the boy she has come to love, and, perhaps, losing even more than she thought possible. Graphic novel–style vignettes revealing the history of this world provide Lyla with guidance and clues to a possible way out of the double bind she finds herself in.

I feel it's best to start with the fact that dystopian stories rank very high up in my favorite genres. There's something about watching a broken society, and the strong characters that flourish within it, that makes me giddy. So I was excited to read Marked. Being swept up into another new world seemed like just the ticket, and I had high hopes for the journey.

Now, that being said, I was a little less than impressed with the world building. Lyla's world is pretty well hashed out, once you get through the first few chapters of the book. McCaffrey shows a place where school, and studying hard, is the way that you get yourself out of the gutter and into the higher planes of society. That piece, along with the idea of of being marked, made sense to me. I understood Lyla's feelings and the motivation behind her decisions. What I didn't understand, and really missed, was how this world ended up this way in the first place. There's not a lot of backstory present, and I would have loved to see more.

As for Lyla and her fellow characters, they kind of fell into the same issue. Lyla, as our protagonist, was the most fleshed out character. Although I didn't always agree with her decisions, I at least understood why she would have made them. Her personality spoke to me, and it was easy to see that she was a product of her environment. The rest of the characters, however, didn't get the same treatment. I would have really enjoyed learning more about them. Part of the reason I liked Lyla was because I understood her. If I had that same connection with the rest of the cast, it would have been an amazing read.

Coupled with an ending that didn't quite wrap things up, you can see why I placed this book at a 3 star rating. Marked has a lot to love about it. It's dystopian in an interesting way, Lyla is a believable and likable character, and there's enough action to keep things flowing at a constant pace. If only there was a bit more background on the setting and the rest of the cast of characters, it would have been perfect. What I'm hoping is that this is just scratching the surface, and there is more to come! A girl can dream.

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I read, I write, I teach. I've published short stories in Cicada, YA Review Network, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Soundings Review. Clarion Books will release Marked, my YA dystopian fantasy, in February 2016. My other fantasy novels are WATER SHAPER and ALIA WAKING (both published by Clarion Books). For more information, it's best to visit my website:

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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