Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: Flying Away by Caroline A. Gill

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Flying Away
   *Series: The Flykeeper Chronicles
Author: Caroline A. Gill
Publisher: St. Helena Press
Pages: Kindle; 228
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love vivid Fantasy with well-written characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
When Iolani Bearse was five years old, she lost her father to war. When she was nine, her mother died in a freak car accident. When Lani was fourteen, eerie green lights invaded, tearing her from the only home she had left.

Living as a runaway, dragging a horse and her cousin Eleanor across the countryside, Lani must learn to survive. Now Lani is the only person between the horrible, greedy lights and the last bit of family she has left. Her own heart is barely beating, but powerful memories pull her to Malcolm St. John. She fights what she feels, buried deep within her shattered soul.

Malcolm St. John always held his feelings in, especially about Iolani. So when she shows up on his doorstep, desperate and determined, Mal must decide if the wild tales she spins are the fragments of insanity or the last hope for a dying nation. This Lani is different from the child he knew. Something is coming for her, for him, and will not be stopped

If the cousins and Malcolm can’t escape the grasping hunters who hound them, the future of a broken America will be destroyed. Everything Lani has ever loved will burn with them. Somehow, she must find a path through friendship and loyalty to save them all.

Let me begin by saying that this is a much different book than I was expecting. Before diving in to Flying Away, I'd suggest that you ditch all your preconceived ideas and just go into it blind. This story is beautiful, but it's admittedly a bit odd as well. Lani's character feels lost, and the narrative definitely reflects that. If you're like me, you might feel like there's no foothold for you at first. Keep reading. It's well worth it.

Lani was an excellent character, although I really wanted to see farther into her background. Kind, loving, and self-sacrificing, I had no problem following along with her. She was a strong character and that, above all else, was what kept me along for the ride. The one thing about Lani is that she is never really given an age. At times she feels older, then at other times she feels much younger. If I had to guess, I'd say she's probably somewhere around 17 or so. Still, I could never quite pin it down. It works for the story, her agelessness, but it will likely be something that readers notice.

In terms of story, this first book is a bit all over the place. Caroline A. Gill shows her writing prowess, but I really wish she would have chosen one story arc and followed it through. As I mentioned above, it makes it a little difficult to get a foothold in Lani's world, at first. Once the adventure begins, and her cousin Eleanor appears, things start to settle in. By the time I reached the ending, I was ready for more. I only hope that the next book ties up some of the loose ends. Too many things done at once, means a lot of untied story lines.

Still, this book has a magical quality to it that I know a lot of readers will appreciate! The concept of a girl who can talk to flies, who has powers that reflect that, is something I've never seen done before. I was impressed at the unique way that Gill brought this story to life, and I'd be interested to read further.

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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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Spotlight: Trifling Favors by Heather Hiestand

Good morning everyone, and happy Wednesday! We're halfway through the week, which means you'll need something to get you over the hump day blues. I've got an exciting new historical romance that should hit the spot!

“The sweetest treat is a kiss…
Greggory Redcake’s plate is full. Widowed young and left with two small children, the manager of the Kensington location of the illustrious tea shop is besieged on all sides between the bakery and family matters. If only his remarkably efficient shop assistant, Betsy Popham, could manage his home life, too! But Greggory can’t linger on thoughts of Betsy’s fetching smile when a dead body is discovered in the bakery…

Betsy has no time for romance, not even with the delectable Mr. Redcake, whose kisses are all too unforgettable. Haunted by a specter from her family’s past, Betsy is terrified that the man blackmailing her has turned to deadly violence. Yet the only way to save her position–and possibly her life–is to accept Greggory’s help as their delicious attraction sweetens into the tantalizing promise of true love…

If you haven't picked up any of The Redcakes series, don't fret. This is a standalone novel but I'm sure you'll want to pick them all up after you've started it. You can see my review of the first in the series here.

Buy it here:
Amazon | B&N | iBooks 

Heather Hiestand was born in Illinois, but her family migrated west before she started school. Since then she has claimed Washington State as home, except for a few years in California. She wrote her first story at age seven and went on to major in creative writing at the University of Washington. Her first published fiction was a mystery short story, but since then it has been all about the many flavors of romance. Heather’s first published romance short story was set in the Victorian period and she continues to return, fascinated by the rapid changes of the nineteenth century. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she is a bestseller at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. With her husband and son, she makes her home in a small town and supposedly works out of her tiny office, though she mostly writes in her easy chair in the living room. She also writes as Anh Leod.
 Find Lauren: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3/28/16)
Click above to join in the fun!

It's been quite a while since I've done one of these! I've been so busy with work, and house stuff, that I haven't really had time to participate in any memes. Which makes me sad, because these are a great way to interact with other readers. I miss you guys!

I've had a little more breathing room lately, since our escrow on our new house is nearly finished. Plus we got a jump on packing, so now we're just kind of sitting around and waiting. In that time, I've gotten back into reading more full length novels! I'm still peppering in graphic novels though, because I need the break. The Beauty is GREAT. You need to read it if you haven't already.

Even though I'm "reading" around 5 different books right now, the two that I'm actively reading show above. I LOVE Jasper Fforde, and I was thrilled when my book club chose his book for our monthly read. I'm also really loving the audio book of Wizard's First Rule. I had tried to read it once before, without luck. This audio book is making it so much easier to get into.

Okay, so I technically already started this. I'd left my downloaded copy of Terry Goodkind's audio book behind, and this was already pending on my phone so I started listening. I stopped though :). I'm trying to be better about not listening to more than one audio at a time. It gets confusing. I am so excited for this though! This series is one of my favorites!
That's it for me! What are YOU reading this week? Don't forget to leave a link so I can go and visit you too!

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, March 27, 2016

Graphic Novel Review: The Beauty (Volume 1)

Title: The Beauty: Volume 1
Author(s): Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley
Illustrator: Jeremy Haun
Publisher: Image
Pages: Trade Paperback; 164
Recommended Age Group: 18+ (Nudity, Violence)
Release Date: March 16, 2016
Source: Netgalley / Publisher

Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is only one sexual encounter away. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Vaughn and Foster will soon discover it comes at a terrible cost. Now, they'll have to find their way past corrupt poiticians, vengeful federal agents, and a terrifying mercenary out to collect the price on their heads. Collects the first six issues of the critically acclaimed, Pilot Season winning series by writer/artist JEREMY HAUN (Constantine, Batwoman) and co-writer JASON A. HURLEY.

Bravo, sirs. Really though, kudos. I never thought that I'd be able to say that I was intrigued by an STD, but Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley have accomplished that for me. When we think of STDs, we think of them as things we don't want to contract. They are uncomfortable, embarrassing, and often terrifying in the way that they manifest themselves. In the world of The Beauty, that's all changed. What if you could contract and STD that would make you flawless? Perfect skin, perfect hair, no known side effects. If Haun and Hurley are right, that would spread like wildfire.

Oh, this was so good. The first volume of The Beauty does an amazing job of pulling you right into the middle of the story, but leaving a few loose ends dangling out there to keep you reading. I found myself caught up in a mystery. Remember when I said that this disease had "no known side-effects"? Well, they make themselves known fairly soon after you start reading this story, and they aren't pretty. While I could have used a little more background on our main characters, I liked them so much that it didn't make a difference after a few pages. I have a feeling more we'll get to know them better very, very soon.

This entire storyline is honestly brilliant though. It spotlights our obsession with fads, with beauty, and with being part of the masses. On the flip side, it also spotlights the terrible things that go on behind the scenes. Like big business having the opportunity to help people, and withholding it for profit. We all suspect that goes on, but Haun actually shows it close up. He takes these normal people, who never even wanted the "gift" they were given, and their struggle to just lead semi-normal lives. Add in an art style that is gorgeous, and an absolutely perfect addition to this story, and you have a series that I'm firmly in love with.

I'm glad I waited for the first trade paperback to come out. I don't know if my heart would have survived single issues. I can tell you right now though, I'm in for the duration of The Beauty. It has hooked me, and I'm completely okay with that.

Want to read it?

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.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

An obsession with Daredevil

So, for anyone who didn't know (and seriously... have you been living under a rock?) the 2nd season of Daredevil is on Netflix! If you've watched the 1st season, you know all the reasons why this is so exciting. If you haven't, well you definitely have some catching up to do.

There's a lot to love about Matt Murdock. Ever since I fell in love with his television version, I've gone out to do some research (read as: devouring comics) on his comic version. Let me tell you, no matter who draws or writes Matt, there's so much about him that's amazing. His relationships are my favorite though. Here's a spotlight on two I've fallen in love with.

Matt and Foggy

If there were ever two people who had a friendship to aspire to, it's Matt and Foggy. Oh sure, they have their ups and downs. But what's sweet is how often Matt realizes how lucky he is to have Foggy as a friend. It's a recurring theme in the comics. Foggy saves Matt's behind. Matt realizes how good of a friend he has, and how often he forgets to thank him. *sniff* These two have the ultimate bromance, and I love it.

Echo and Daredevil

So one of the coolest parts of the comics is that there are so many characters that people only watching the show haven't met yet. One of my favorites is Echo, or Maya as she's known by everyone who hasn't seen her super alterego. I've never liked Elektra, but Echo is AWESOME. She's the exact opposite of Matt. He's blind, she's deaf. Coincidentally, she can exactly copy anything that she sees. Which makes her one bad-ass nemesis for Matt. If only Matt didn't find her so enchanting. Ah, love.

If you've only seen the show, I encourage you to give the comics a chance! My favorite runs so far have been the "Parts of a Hole" mini-series, and the Bendis run that I'm reading now. But trust me, it's all good. Daredevil is just the best.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Giveaway: Journey to Death by Leigh Russell

Good morning everyone, and happy Wednesday!

Are you in the mood to win something? I'm hoping so, because there's a copy of Journey to Death by Leigh Russell just waiting to live on your shelf. You can't win if you don't enter, so read the synopsis below, and then get to entering!

Lucy Hall arrives in the Seychelles determined to leave her worries behind. The tropical paradise looks sun-soaked and picture-perfect—but as Lucy soon discovers, appearances can be very deceptive. A deadly secret lurks in the island’s history, buried deep but not forgotten. And it is about to come to light. As black clouds begin to gather over what promised to be a relaxing family break, Lucy realizes that her father stands in the eye of the coming storm. A shadow from his past is threatening to destroy all that he holds dear—including the lives of his loved ones. A dark truth is about to explode into their lives, and that truth is going to hit them right between the eyes.

If you're interested in what I thought, my review is here.

Otherwise, enter to win below! U.S. mailing addresses only please. This giveaway ends on 3/29/16.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Review: End Time (Vol. 1) by Daniel Greene

Media Type: Ebook
Title: End Time
   *Series: End Time Vol. 1
Author: Daniel Greene
Publisher: Rune Publishing LLC
Pages: Kindle; 416
Release Date: March 10, 2016
Source: Author
Genre: Thriller

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love fast-paced, zombie filled stories with excellent protagonists.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
The fall of mankind is nigh.

And it all began in the dark primal jungles of the Congo River basin. Easily ignored with just a click.

When protests turn violent in front of the US Embassy Kinshasa, only the foreign policy experts paid attention.

As civil war erupts and people rip each other apart in the streets of the African capital, a disinterested public across the globe turns the channel.

They should have planned accordingly.

In an effort to avert disaster and preserve its self-image, an overwhelmed US Department of State dispatches a team of elite counterterrorist agents to bring their besieged people back alive.

Agent Mark Steele, a rising star within the Division, and his team of gritty operatives are trained to traverse the worst dregs that society has to offer, all while operating from the shadows. But Steele’s team is wading headfirst into a maelstrom of death so much worse than rebels in the streets.

A highly contagious microbe is spreading unchecked through the streets killing everyone in its wake, only to bring them back again as the ravenous undead. Only a lone CDC virologist understands the extent of the outbreak at hand. He cowers amongst the embassy staff praying for extraction from the hands of death, and fearing his part to play in the growing global epidemic.

Follow this harrowing tale of survival, duty, love and horror as the living dead bring the world to its knees.

Zombies! Let it be known that if you offer me a book revolving around zombies for review, I'll likely snatch it up. I love the visceral nature of stories like Greene's. Watching people fight against not only impossible odds, but against the someone who is essentially the darkest part of themselves. Zombies are terrifying because they are us. Our friends, our neighbors, even our children. It's a great jumping off point for a story, but it's up to the author to bring it home.

Which Daniel Greene did, and did extremely well. This story was paced out perfectly. From the moment that I was dropped in the middle of the Congo, I was immersed. Greene lays out just enough scientific background, to make the spread of this disease feel realistic. As the story progressed, and I got to know our cast of characters better, I realized that Greene is simply excellent at giving just enough information without bogging things down. I always felt like I knew what was going on, and it made this an easy and exciting read.

What made End Time even better, was Agent Mark Steele. I'm used to zombie stories through the eyes of survivors. Mere people who were caught up in the madness. Mark is tough. A kind, thoughtful guy who is used to violence and the unpredictable. You'd think it would have made him the perfect candidate for this kind of event. Which is what makes this story so raw. A man who should be prepared, who realizes that he isn't. If he's not, what chance to we stand? Looking through the eyes of Steele, through the eyes of someone who is trained for anything and is still terrified, took this story to a whole new level.

My one gripe, and it's a small one, is that I really didn't like Gwen's attitude towards things. I was impressed at how much spotlight was on Mark's wife, and how brilliant she was taking care of herself. After all, zombie books often focus on the men being the keepers of the women. Still, Gwen had that typical female attitude that drives me crazy in zombie stories. I wanted to see her being strong, and rational. Not whiny, and irresponsible.

I'm glad that there's more of this to come! End Time surprised me with how well-written and fascinating it was. I'm ready to follow Agent Steele wherever he goes next.

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.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Breaking the Story by Ashley Farley

Happy Friday dear friends. What better way to start the weekend than an exciting new book? Breaking the Story has a little bit of something for everyone. Politics, intrigue, romance and of course a bit of action. Let's check it out!

Passion, peril, and a scandal that will rock American politics.

Scottie Darden’s life is a disaster. Her marriage has become toxic, and her career as a photojournalist has stalled out. To attract the attention of the main players in the news industry, she needs a standout story with a unique perspective. What she finds is a scandal that could turn the 2016 presidential election upside down. But before she can release her damaging images to the media, Scottie must uncover the truth behind the photographs. She turns to handsome mystery man Guy Jordan for help. When they join the campaign trail in search of answers, their investigation quickly becomes deadly.

Hop on board for a wild ride of adventure where desire ignites, lives are threatened, and secrets are revealed.

I'm definitely intrigued, how about you? You can find the buy links below, as well as an excerpt and giveaway! Happy reading!

Buy it at:
Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo

Guy navigated his way through the crowd to where Scottie was seated. "Well now, isn't this a coincidence?" he said.

She looked up from her martini. "Unless, of course, you're stalking me."

"Ouch. Hostile." He took a step back. "What happened to you in the hours since we last met?"

She jabbed at the olive with the pick in her martini. "Trust me, you don't want to know."

"Oh, but I do," he said, placing his hand over his heart. "The way I remember it, you owe me a drink for changing your tire. You even said you should buy it."

"All right, fine." When the woman next to her got up and left, Scottie extended an empty hand to the barstool. "You might as well sit down. I'll buy you a drink. Then we'll be even."

Guy slid onto the bar stool and signaled the bartender. "I'll have a Dewars on the rocks. And bring the lady another of whatever she's having." He glanced down at her glass. "What are you having?"

"Tequila martinis. My third."

"Whoa. What's with the serious mood? You might as well tell me. I'll keep guessing until you do."

She drained the last of her drink and set the glass down on the bar. "Trust me, you don't want to hear this drama."

"Why don't you let me make that decision?"

Ashley Farley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save. SAVING BEN is not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: The Beltane Escape by Ariella Moon

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Beltane Escape
   *Series:  The Two Realms Trilogy #1
Author: Ariella Moon
Publisher: Star Tribe Publishing
Pages: Kindle; 225
Release Date: February 2016
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Content Screening: Mild Fantasy Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy fantasy stories, featuring fairy folk and strong female characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes

Lady Fenella, ever surrounded by guards, knows only responsibility and duty. She believes Merlin and the Lady of the Lake are myths, Gran’s warnings about Fairy are superstition, and Fairy was invented to make children behave.

But then Gran brands her, Lord Argonshire kidnaps her, and the Lady of the Lake makes her a pawn. The Highland heiress must betray her newly betrothed and fend for herself when she dives into a wormhole to save her cousin. She lands in a part of Fairy even fairies avoid, and joins forces with Talfryn, a half-Viking/half-Fairy.

Fenella must use her wits to find her cousin, free the Lady of the Lake, and reach the wormhole in Glastonbury by Beltane. Nine days to unshackle herself from a sorceress, prevent a war between rival clans, and decide in which realm—and with which lad—she truly belongs. Oh, and The Most Powerful Wizard stands in her way.

The Beltane Escape manages to seamlessly blend together a bit of magic, a bit of myth, and a whole lot of historical fiction. Although I'm not generally a fan of most historical fiction, if you throw in just enough magic to make it a Fantasy novel I'll gladly snatch it up! I'm happy to say that Ariella Moon succeeded at doing just that.

When I first opened this book, and found myself in the middle of a fight between The Lady of the Lake and Merlin, I knew this would be something I'd be interested in. In fact, had it been a story solely about those two, I would have been thrilled. I was soon introduced to Lady Fenella though, the protagonist of this book, and I slowly warmed up to her. A young heiress to a massive thanedom, Lady Fenella's life has never really been her own. I felt for her, and was eager to learn more about her.

Which actually brings me to the fact that Ariella Moon does an excellent job of slowly building her characters. Instead of throwing all the information out at once, I grew to know Fenella better over the course of the book. I saw her strength right out of the gate, but the more I read the more I saw what a complex person she was. It was the same with all the characters, in fact. The fact that there were no infodumps felt nice. It allowed me to get lost in the story.

In terms of plot, that's where this book and I had a bit of a falling out. The story itself is well-paced, regarding both pacing and characterization. However it never felt as exciting as I felt it should. I wanted more tension, more excitement. Once the Fairy Folk came into play, things picked up a lot. Still, the writing never really grabbed me. I felt like someone looking in, rather than being an actual part of the story.

I can forgive all of that though, because the ending was fabulous. I love endings that aren't necessarily a cliffhanger, but more of an elipsis. Endings that aren't frustrating, but actually leave you excited for more. Lady Fenella has my attention! I'd follow her further down the rabbit hole for sure.

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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.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi Day!


Ah, Pi day. You beautiful 3.14 day, you. I love you forever for giving me an excuse to eat ALL  THE PIE. Which, of course, I did. Savory pies make an excellent lunch. Although, I still have yet to eat a sweet pie. So, we must remedy that.

You know who loves pie more than I do though? (And, who just so happens to be dreamy beyond belief?) DEAN WINCHESTER.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in, give you some Dean and vanish! Moving is going great, but it's eating up time and I haven't been reading much. Chances are that I'll be back in full force in about a month. Until then? You get random posts like this, because I miss you all.

Now go eat some pie!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book Review: Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Blackheath
Author: Gabriella Lepore
Publisher: Of Tomes Publishing
Pages: Paperback; 284
Release Date: December 20, 2015
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy short and sweet stories featuring male witches.

Add it on: Goodreads | BookLikes | Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Ellmes is dogged by a case of chronic bad luck. She figures that’s just her lot in life—that is, until the psychic at Blackheath’s annual carnival reveals that Maggie’s problems are caused by more than just ordinary misfortune; she’s actually been cursed.
Desperate to shake the hex, Maggie has no choice but to seek out the help of Joel Tomlins, a rebellious classmate who’s descended from Blackheath’s most powerful line of witches. After breaking all of his coven’s conventions to help her, Joel discovers that the curse isn’t as bad as Maggie fears. In fact, it’s much, much worse.

Blackheath falls into the category that I like to call "book candy". While it's not as deep of a story as it could be, it's an easy read that is ultimately enjoyable. If you're looking for deep insight into a family of witches, this isn't what you're looking for. If, instead, you're looking for a quick story that will keep you interest until the end? Well, this is your kind of book.

What's wonderful about this book is that it focuses on a mainly male group of witches. Yes, you read that right. At no time are they titled "wizards" simply because they aren't women. No, these are male witches, and I was giddy at the prospect. Joel and his family kept me reading. I loved the family dynamic, mixed in with the fact that they were a coven of their own as well.

I'll admit, it took me a while to warm up to Joel and Maggie. As progatonists go, they aren't the easiest to love when the story begins. Still, I'm glad that I stuck with them. Joel's personality grew, and grew, replacing a whiny teenager with a loving brother. Maggie stopped feeling sorry for herself, and started believing in something larger than her own problems. These two ended up being something wonderful, and I so appreciated that fact that their little romance never overshadowed their own separate growth.

My rating for this book mainly revolves around the fact that there isn't much substance to it. The story skims right on the surface of everything, and things that probably should be important don't quite feel that way. There were a few times where I thought that there should be tension, or anger, or even guilt. I knew it should have been there, but it just didn't come through.

Would I read more? Most likely. As I mentioned, this was an easy read and ultimately enjoyable! Perhaps they'll be a bit more substance in the next book.

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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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