Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review: Mississippi Blood (Penn Cage #6) by Greg Iles


Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Mississippi Blood
   *Series: Penn Cage #6
Author: Greg Iles
Publisher: William Morrow 
Pages: Hardcover; 704
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Source: TLC Book Tours / Harper Collins Publishers
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Genre: Mystery / Crime Thriller

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of the series, because this ending is EXPLOSIVE!



The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family, and the enemies bent on destroying them in this revelatory volume in the epic trilogy set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi—Greg Iles's epic tale of love and honor, hatred and revenge that explores how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present.

Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn's experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations--preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son.

During forty years practicing medicine, Tom Cage made himself the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi. But this revered Southern figure has secrets known only to himself and a handful of others. Among them, Tom has a second son, the product of an 1960s affair with his devoted African American nurse, Viola Turner. It is Viola who has been murdered, and her bitter son--Penn's half-brother--who sets in motion the murder case against his father. The resulting investigation exhumes dangerous ghosts from Mississippi's violent past. In some way that Penn cannot fathom, Viola Turner was a nexus point between his father and the Double Eagles, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. More troubling still, the long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the 1960s. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them, or takes his secrets to an early grave.

Tom Cage's murder trial sets a terrible clock in motion, and unless Penn can pierce the veil of the past and exonerate his father, his family will be destroyed. Unable to trust anyone around him--not even his own mother--Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a famous young black author who has come to Natchez to write about his father's case. Together, Penn and Serenity--a former soldier--battle to crack the Double Eagles and discover the secret history of the Cage family and the South itself, a desperate move that risks the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives.

Mississippi Blood is the enthralling conclusion to a breathtaking trilogy seven years in the making--one that has kept readers on the edge of their seats. With piercing insight, narrative prowess, and a masterful ability to blend history and imagination, New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles illuminates the brutal history of the American South in a highly atmospheric and suspenseful novel that delivers the shocking resolution his fans have eagerly awaited.
Friends, I am winded from the epic sprint that Greg Iles sent me on with this book. I tell you, I was already eagerly awaiting this final installment in Penn Cage's family saga. What I wasn't prepared for though, was how much Iles was going to throw at me all at once. This book is a rapid fire rush to the finish the line. It sweeps you off your feet, and all you can do is hang on for dear life as everything that you've been waiting for unfolds in this maniacally beautiful fashion. This book right here, more than anything else, has proven to me what an expert writer Greg Iles is, and I happily bow down to that expertise.

First off, let me say that I was originally a bit put off by courtroom melodrama that started in Mississippi Blood. Admittedly, I wasn't sure I actually wanted to read a whole murder case laid out on the page. I worried that it would slow things down. That is, of course, until I realized that even these portions of the book were utterly riveting. Watching Shad Johnson and Quentin Avery go at it soon became something that I looked forward to. Iles wrote two brilliant lawyers who, despite any flaws they might have otherwise had, were masters of the judiciary art. I felt like a part of the jury, as surprise witnesses were thrown into the mix and tantalizing details were unearthed. I felt like a part of Penn's family, as I watched them struggle to keep themselves together while dealing with what everyone around them was terming the "case of the century". In other words, I was completely engrossed. I've never run through a 700+ page book more quickly in my whole life. If I could have lived without sleeping for the three days I read this, I would have. I needed to know what happened next.

More than that though, was the fact that Iles didn't let go of a bit of the character development that he'd been nursing throughout this whole series. Despite the trial, and all the violence surrounding it, he didn't stop at all in his quest to make the reader actually care about these characters. I admit, I teared up more than a few times during this book. I hadn't realized how much I actually empathized with Penn and his family until everything was ramping up to a conclusion. It amazed me how quickly I fell in step with even the new characters who were put in place, and how much I wanted them to succeed. It's no secret that I was a little angry after the last book, where Iles took something away from Penn that I really thought was unfair and unnecessary. Reading this installment though, I understood. I saw the reason. It didn't mend the hole in my heart, but I saw Penn in a new a light. A man who has been through hell and back, but still has a heart as big as anything. It's tough not to love a man like that, even when his decisions seem insane.

Look, the point of this rambling review is to fairly confess that I started out this book with a bit of doubt as to whether or not I was going to fully enjoy it. I expected over the top courtroom melodrama, and worried that the climax might not be what I expected it to be. I'm happy to report that I was wrong. I was so very wrong. This book is amazing. Mississippi Blood is not only the ending that Penn Cage deserved, but the type of ending that any author should be damn proud of. My heart is still pounding from what happened, even after the epilogue tried to assuage my fears. This is mastery, plain and simple, and Greg Iles quite rightly has my heart.

Am I sad that there won't be anymore Penn Cage? Yes. Will I happily read anything else that Greg Iles puts out into the world? Absolutely. If you haven't started this series yet, please do. This is a genre that I all but never read, and so you can trust me when I say that this is worth your time. 2,100 pages later, and I'm not even the least bit sorry that I put in the time.



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 29, 2017

Book Review: Beach Wedding by Natasha Boyd


Media Type: Ebook
Title: Beach Wedding
Series: Butler Cove Novel #5
Author: Natasha Boyd
Publisher: Self
Pages: Paperback; 224
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Source: Author
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HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoyed Eversea and Forever, Jack.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
It’s been four years since movie star, Jack Eversea, won Keri Ann Butler’s heart.

Keri Ann has finished college and launched her artistic career, and she's let Jack know that she might finally be ready to tie the knot. But four years was a long time to make Jack wait. Jack’s just finished filming one of the most emotionally taxing projects he’s ever worked on and now he’s questioning his suitability for marriage.

Unforseen circumstances are causing rifts in their relationship, pitting the future against the past and love against responsibility, and conspiring to make the lovers take a good long look at their future.

It’s always been a rocky road for these two, can Keri Ann’s steadfast love smooth the way to their BEACH WEDDING?

*Sigh* If you haven't read Eversea, you should go do that right now. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now that you've fallen in love with Jack and Keri Ann, as I did, you'll want to indulge in the rest of their story. Beach Wedding is a wonderful conclusion to their happily ever after and gives you an even deeper look into both characters.

There were some very predictable moments, which was unfortunate for me as a reader, but overall this story takes us on the roller coaster of life with Jack and Keri Ann. Wedding planning can be stressful for the best of us, and even as a movie star there are always hurdles to battle. I really enjoy the way that their wedding comes together and the events surrounding it.

As usual, Natasha Boyd brings us on a beautiful journey with her writing and character development. If you enjoy a lot of mushy love language, then this is definitely the book for you. I am willing to forgive the excessive mushiness because I think it's pretty normal to get sentimental around big life events.

Be prepared with a box of tissues with this read though, it is not all sunshine and rainbows. It may be my excessive hormones these days but my eyes were definitely leaking at some points. I highly recommend this love story for anyone who enjoys an interesting happily ever after.







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, March 28, 2017

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Digging in the Stars by Katherine Blakeney


Digging in the Stars
Katherine Blakeney
Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
A lost ancient civilization and the tomb of a legendary king lie buried beneath centuries of ash on the volcanic planet Thror, but that’s not the only reason sixteen-year-old Carter has tricked her Archaeology of Outer Space class into coming here. Her best friend Conrad has just disappeared on a trip to Thror, leaving behind little more than a broken vintage camera. The strange and disturbing photographs she manages to extract make her suspect Conrad’s disappearance is somehow connected to the hidden tomb of the last king of Thror.
Unfortunately, the ludicrously over-friendly ‘Furry Giants’ who have taken over the planet’s barren surface would rather offer her cheap souvenirs than answers, and the local officials insist they have no record of Conrad’s existence. Inspired by fear for Conrad’s life and the chance to make the greatest archaeological discovery of the century, Carter and her friends follow Conrad’s footsteps deep into the mountains of Thror’s forbidden Black Zone and launch an illicit excavation.
Coded messages, stunning ancient ruins, and clues left by Conrad himself begin to surface as the young archaeologists fall victim to an alarming series of accidents staged by the increasingly hostile Furry Giants. Piecing together a history of dictatorship, terrorism and disguise, Carter glimpses the horrors beyond Thror’s flamboyant fa├žade and startling revelations about the friend she thought she knew. The masks of Thror hide devastating secrets, and the golden tomb buried deep in the frozen core may claim the lives of everyone she loves.



“Please remain seated as we begin our descent into Thror. Welcome, and enjoy your stay.”
The time for action was at hand, and she still didn’t feel ready. The flight felt much shorter than she’d expected.
The girls exchanged bewildered looks across the aisles. Stunned silence. They couldn’t have missed that final announcement. Avoiding Professor P’s gaze, Carter still felt the look of shock the professor shot across the cabin. Once, Carter had seen herself arriving on Thror as a great explorer. Instead, she would be remembered as a half-baked deceiver and kidnapper. The Throrians would have called her a scent-changer.






Author Bio:
I am an author and independent filmmaker/stop motion animator with a BFA in Stop Motion Animation from the School of Visual Arts in New York and a PhD in Film Studies from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland, UK). My thesis focuses on silent film adaptations of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Gothic novels, with a special emphasis on psychological and aesthetic representations of the Monster figure. My debut novel, a YA Sci-Fi adventure called Digging in the Stars, is forthcoming with Blaze Publishing on March 28, 2017.
Raised by an Egyptologist mother, I grew up among museums and excavation sites, where I developed an unhealthy fascination with ancient art and mythology. I divide my time between bringing 12”-tall people to life in my studio in Edinburgh, excavating ancient tombs in the Egyptian desert, and researching Gothic literary monsters in silent film. I have worked for more than 10 years as photographer and videographer for the South Asasif Conservation Project, an archaeological expedition in Egypt and I have published numerous articles on film and archaeology.
I write, direct, design, and animate short films and commissioned projects in my studio in Edinburgh, Scotland and have been employed as an animator, screenwriter, modelmaker and art director for studios in Edinburgh, South Korea and Qatar. I have produced commissioned projects for IdeasTap in London, the Arts Trust Scotland and the British Library. My shorts have won competitions and screened at various international festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe. In 2015, my short film The Burglar With the Yellow Hand was nominated for an Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) Research in Film Award.
You can find out more about all aspects of my work on my website, http://yorwickcastle.com
My new blog http://KatherineBlakeneyStardigger.blogspot.com is all about Digging in the Stars and my references and inspirations as a writer.


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Monday, March 27, 2017

Small Business Spotlight - Bookmarks For Kindness

Good morning everyone! Welcome to a new spotlight here on HDB, where we feature small businesses and organizations. 

When I first entered the world of bookstagram, I was blown away by all the people out there who put their heart, soul, and passion into the bookish items that we all love to fill our shelves with. This is my attempt to give them some love, and introduce you to the people behind those shops!

We're kicking off this new feature with a brilliant charity program that was dreamed up by one of my newest (and particularly amazing) friends on Bookstagram! Check out Sam and her passion project, Bookmarks for Kindness.

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A desire to do good

Simple acts of kindness can be some of the most powerful. Bookmarks for Kindness is an Instagram based project encouraging that idea.

My name is Sam, and I started Bookmarks for Kindness (B4K) at the very end of 2016. I think that was a tough year for a lot of people, and as it came to a close I started looking for ways to express myself more, and also to relieve stress. One of the best outlets I found was drawing and watercolor painting. Making bookmarks for my favorite books was an obvious choice for me and after sharing them on my Bookstagram account (@sammaybereading) my followers encouraged me to start selling my work.

Initially I thought I would open an etsy shop, and try to make some truly unique bookmarks for fellow bookworms, but I had a lot of concerns. What if I couldn’t keep up with demand, what if it stopped being fun, or what if I accidentally copied another artist? I carried these thoughts for a couple days, when an idea struck.



Inspiration from the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World has Ever Seen (aka GISHWHES)

Misha Collins, Supernatural actor and all around do-gooder, has done a lot in his life to proliferate the idea that simple acts of kindness have power. He created Random Acts and GISHWHES to encourage people to be kind to others in their daily lives. I have participated in GISHWHES several times, and I had such an amazing time doing silly things that made myself and others smile.

In the few months I ran a bookstagram account prior to starting B4K, I saw so much kindness. People give books and bookish merch away for free all the time. Customers go out of their way to help promote and share products from small businesses they love just because they love them! It’s a community of people helping others achieve their creative dreams, and I just love it. I also saw people in the community who couldn’t afford the bookish goodies they wanted either because they were younger and couldn’t get the money, or because they lived in a country where shipping was a problem. I didn’t want money to be a barrier for people to get my bookmarks if they liked them. That idea, combined with my experiences with random acts of kindness helped make B4K a fully formed idea.


The Bookmarks 4 Kindness Mission

My ultimate goal is to provide book worms with bookmarks from their favorite series at very little to no cost. I want to share my work with those who appreciate it, and I want to let people use kindness as currency. If I can use my time and my talent to share a little bit of light with a small corner of the internet, then I have achieved my goals!

I also wanted to show that creators don’t work in isolation on bookstagram, and that it is possible for us to support each other and build each other up, rather than competing and trying to be better than all the other shops. In an effort to do that, I have partnered with a few other artists to provide bookmarks that I send out for free! Some of those creators include @doubleasees, @zwischenseitlich, and @highladyaelin. There are more contributors joining very soon and I am so excited to have a greater variety of work to share.

In an effort to encourage and celebrate the community of Bookstagram, I also gathered a group of brand reps who are helping me to share the message of kindness, and all the additional goals I hope to achieve (read on for those!). They are currently @insidethepagesblog, @book.by.book, @longlivereading, @randomrivendellreader, and @books_n_the_beach. They all take such lovely bookmark photos and they are all awesome kind people. I have really enjoyed working with them. I am so excited to see how they can help the project grow!



How it works

I get a lot of questions from people who are new to B4K about how they can purchase bookmarks, or where the shop is located. There is no shop, but I do have a blog where there is some additional info on the project.

I provide two main ways of getting bookmarks. You can post a photo in your instagram feed or story about a recent random act of kindness and tag @bookmarks_for_kindness in the post. This could be anything from buying a stranger’s coffee, cooking dinner for a friend, writing a letter to someone you haven’t heard from in awhile, or volunteering at a local library. Any good deed no matter how large or small with earn you bookmark mail!

The second way you can get bookmarks is through one of the donation options I offer through the blog. Every month I promote a different charity, and any donations given receive bookmarks as a thank you gift. In February, my donation event raised over $600.00 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I did donate matching funds myself, and one particular donor was very generous, but I am very proud of what I was able to do in a month with the help of others!

This month I am promoting Room To Read, a literacy organization helping to educate children in Africa and Asia. My goal this month is $300.00, the amount Room To Read asks for to support life skills education in secondary school for a year. We have raised close to $100.00 already, enough to teach 2 children to read and write for 1 year! I hope we will reach the $300.00 goal, but I need more help to get there!

There is also a Patreon account for B4K, where supporters can donate a few dollars every month to help defray the cost of bookmark supplies and stamps. None of the money from the patreon goes into my pocket, it is only used to keep B4K going! There is an option there to donate $5/month and receive a subscription package every month. I would love for more support through this avenue, as I am unsure I will be able to keep this project going on my own as it grows.

I occasionally do giveaways and Kindness Challenges on my page, and I happily provide bookmarks for others’ giveaways as well, as I feel they are an act of kindness in their own right. Feel free to contact me if you even want to include a little kindness in your next giveaway!



Additional project goals

I am thrilled to announce that I am partnering with Read em and Steep, a new monthly subscription box focusing on indie books, and bookish goodies! I am making bookmarks for this box every few months and I can’t wait for it to get started. The first box will be released in May. Projects like this one do allow me to get some money from this project, but part of my payment is a donation to my charity of the month! Jada at Read em and Steep also introduced me to Room To Read, and she supports that charity through the book box as well!

As the convention season quickly approaches, I am hoping to get a few packages of bookmarks ready to take with me to give out to attendees! Currently I am planning to be at YallWest in Santa Monica, Wondercon in Anaheim, and also San Diego Comic con. I may hand those bookmarks out to people who I see committing random acts of kindness, who seem like they could use a pick me up, or anyone who knows about the project! I’m excited to meet some followers for real this season and interact offline.

I hope you will consider engaging with and supporting B4K on instagram! I am always happy to talk about life, mental health, charities I could promote, and any bookmark design ideas you may have! Thank you for taking time to read about my project.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review: Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Shadow Run
   *Series: Kaitan Chronicles #1
Author(s): Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Source: Publisher
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Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy action packed science fiction with well-written characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

I'm not going to lie, I am always so delighted when I find a Science Fiction novel that is accessible and exciting! I had high hopes for Shadow Run, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. The Kaitan Heritage is a ship after my own heart. Cobbled together, barely holding on, and full of the most loyal and intriguing set of people there ever was! I remember seeing somewhere that this book was likened to Firefly and Dune. Yes, friends, that is entirely accurate. A little bit of love, a dash of danger, and a whole lot of sarcasm and wit. That's what you'll find between these pages.

First off, massive kudos to the authors for crafting as captivating a character as Captain Qole. At just 17 years old, she's the best Shadow fishing captain in the Universe. But that's not where her intrigue ends. Qole is also poisoned by the very thing that both makes up her livelihood, and makes her such an excellent captain. It's a compelling double-edged sword. What I loved most about her character though, was how self-assured and bad-ass she was. Qole doesn't need your admiration. She's strong, loyal, and full of a kind of fierce love that made me fall for her instantly. I love seeing forceful women in positions of power. Qole doesn't disappoint.

Better still, Nev's entrance into this story didn't dim Qole's light one bit. In fact, Nev is a beautiful contrast to Qole's dark and resolute personality. See, Nev is ever the optimist. He's both tough as nails and has a heart that is fit to burst with pride for his family. His quick thinking and kindness make him the perfect opposite to Qole, and watching them interact is honestly a lot of fun. I never felt like the tension brewing between them was overbearing and the little romance that may have existed just felt like it belonged. Color me impressed.

The absolute only reason I wasn't able to give this a full five-star rating is because the climax felt a little rushed. The first three-quarters of this book are perfectly paced. There is world-building galore, time for our characters to grow and understand one another, plus even the perfect amount of action to keep things fresh. As the book neared the end, I felt like it was rushing to push everything still left undone in order. Which, to be honest, I can totally understand. It makes me happy to know that there's another book coming after this one. I absolutely cannot wait to read it! 

You need to meet the ragtag crew of the Kaitan. Plain and simple. If Shadow Run isn't already on  your wishlist, put it there. 



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.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Flames of Rebellion by Jay Allan


Flames of Rebellion
Jay Allan
(Flames of Rebellion, #1)
Published by: HarperVoyager
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
A group of rebels fighting for independence sows the seeds of revolution across the galaxy in this blockbuster military sci-fi adventure from the author of the Crimson Worlds and Far Stars series.
The planet Haven slides closer to revolution against its parent nation, Federal America. Everett Wells, the fair-minded planetary governor, has tried to create a peaceful resolution, but his failure has caused the government to send Asha Stanton, a ruthless federal operative, to quell the insurgency.
Wells quickly realizes that Stanton has the true power . . . and two battalions of government security troops—specifically trained to put down unrest—under her control. Unlike Wells, Stanton is prepared to resort to extreme methods to break the back of the gathering rebellion, including unleashing Colonel Robert Semmes, the psychopathic commander of her soldiers, on the Havenites.
But the people of Haven have their own ideas. They are not the beaten-down masses of Earth, but men and women with the courage and fortitude to tame a new world.
Damian Ward is such a resident of Haven, a retired veteran and decorated war hero, who has watched events on his adopted world with growing apprehension. He sympathizes with the revolutionaries, his friends and neighbors, but he is loath to rebel against the flag he fought to defend. That is, until Stanton’s reign of terror intrudes into his life—and threatens those he knows and loves. Then he does what he must, rallying Haven’s other veterans and leading them to the aid of the revolutionaries.
Yet the battle-scarred warrior knows that even if Haven’s freedom fighters defeat the federalists, the rebellion is far from over . . . it’s only just begun.





“Hey, Grant, let’s go, man.” Tomas Lopez spoke angrily, his face twisted into a scowl. He held a heavy bar of steel in one hand, and the other was raised above his head, curled into a defiant fist. He stared at Jamie Grant for a few seconds, as though he expected his fellow prisoner to leap up and rush to his side. But Jamie just stood next to the exposed rock wall and looked back.
“C’mon, Grant!” Lopez repeated. “It’s time. We’re shuttin’ down this whole damned mine this time. Ain’t nuthin’ gonna stop us. They won’t have no choice. They’ll have to listen to us when the ore stops flowin’!” Lopez stood about two meters away from his workmate, his grimy coveralls almost black from the ore dust that hung in the very air of the mine. There was rage in his face, and it seemed to radiate all around him.
There was activity everywhere in the massive cavern, and more angry yells. Dozens of mine workers, hundreds perhaps, were streaming away from their workplaces. They almost acted as one, grabbing tools, metal bars, anything that looked remotely like a weapon. They were shouting, a riotous cacophony of rebel slogans along with more generic cries and screams. The sound reverberated off the low ceilings of the tunnel, and Jamie could barely hear his friend’s words over the din.
“Not me, Tomas.” Jamie’s voice was grim, somber. He looked around the mine, feeling a wave of surprise at how many seemed to be joining the instigators. There had been work stoppages before, and a few outright riots, but this looked like something bigger, more dangerous. He felt the urge, just as his comrades did, to strike back against the federals, against the system that had stolen so much of his life. Against the guards who too often took sadistic delight in their work. But he couldn’t. He wouldn’t. There was something more important to him, and he struggled to stay focused on that.
“I’m staying right here,” he said finally. He wanted to go; every fiber in his body was twitching to join the riot. But he fought back against the urge. “I’ve been here twelve years, Tomas. Twelve years. I shoulda been outta here two years already. I can’t afford more trouble.”
Jamie had seen his share of disciplinary actions for sure. He’d been fifteen years old the day he was arrested for the third time. He’d gotten off twice before that with a flogging and a reduction in public assistance, but he’d only stolen food those times. The last time he’d taken money . . . and he’d used it to buy a hit of Blast. It hadn’t been for him, but for his mother. But that hadn’t made any difference.
Alicia Grant was a good-natured woman who’d become addicted to the drug when she’d been issued a month’s supply to deal with her grief after Jamie’s father was killed. Harold Grant had been shot when the federal police cracked down on a street rising. He’d lived for almost two hours, lying bleeding on the pavement, but by the time the authorities got around to the wounded rioters, it was too late.


I currently live in New York City, and I've been reading science fiction and fantasy for just about as long as I've been reading. My tastes are fairly varied and eclectic, but I'd say favorites are military and dystopian science fiction and epic fantasy, usually a little bit gritty.
I write a lot of science fiction with military themes, but also other SF and some fantasy as well. I like complex characters and lots of backstory and action. Honestly, I think world-building is the heart of science fiction and fantasy, and since that is what I've always been drawn to as a reader, that is what I write.
I've been an investor and non-fiction writer for a long time, a fiction author more recently. When I'm not writing I enjoy traveling, running, hiking, reading. I love hearing from readers and always answer emails. I think you stop growing as a writer if you stop listening to readers.
Among other things, I write the bestselling Crimson Worlds series.
Join my mailing list here for updates on new releases.



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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Pub Day to The Memory Thief and Shadow of a Doubt!

I'm pleased to wish the happiest of book birthdays to both The Memory Thief and Shadow of a Doubt from Adaptive Books!

More info on both below, if you haven't already heard of these two gems! I'm a big fan of Adaptive Books and their catalog, so I try to keep up with their releases. I've actually reviewed The Memory Thief before, so I'll link you to that review if you're interested! Happy reading friends!


The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore
March 21, 2017 - 256 Pages
After witnessing another one of their parents’ public fights, twin brother and sister Benji and Kelly wander off at the local county fair. Benji runs into a group of bullies and escapes into a tent called The Memory Emporium, where he meets a strange old man inside names Louis. The old man shows him a magically vivid memory of a fighter pilot, in the hopes of getting Benji to pay to see other memories Louis has collected from people over the years.

Benji quickly realizes the ability to take memories could help his parents stop fighting with each other, and he asks Louis to teach him how to become a Memory Thief. But Louis isn’t the only person with the ability to show and manipulate memories. There’s also the mysterious Genevieve, a Memory Thief with much more nefarious motives.

Benji learns how to manipulate memories himself, but having that power comes at a cost to his family, and possibly to his own mind as well. Genevieve’s powers get out of control as she steals more and more memories from people in town—including Benji’s sister, Kelly. Benji must learn to use this newfound power, as he is the only one able to stop Genevieve.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


Shadow of a Doubt by Skylar James
March 21, 2017 - 326 pages

Fyfe Flynn lives on a modest farm in the shadows of the world-famous horse track Churchill Downs, where she spends more time around horses than she does around other kids. That suits her father, the acclaimed jockey Roscoe Flynn, just fine. When a new foal is born but loses his mother, Fyfe gains a loyal best friend in the horse she names -Shadow of a Doubt.- Together they dream that one day Shadow will become a great racehorse and win the Kentucky Derby. At first, few believe in Shadow's prospects--especially when the neighbor next door, Colonel Epsom, uses his great wealth to produce racehorses of the finest caliber and will do whatever it takes to see them win. But Fyfe and Shadow, with the help of their animal friends, refuse to give up on their dreams

Shadow of a Doubt is a heartfelt book about family, friendship, taking risks and believing in those we love. Shadow and Fyfe are sure to win the hearts of anyone lucky enough to join in their inspirational story.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Q&A + Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco


Good morning lovely bookish people, and welcome to The Bone Witch tour! If I told you that I was really excited to read this book, that would be an understatement. More accurately, this was one of my most anticipated books of this season! So I'm pleased as punch to be a part of this tour, and to help Rin Chupeco promote her new book!



The Bone Witch (#1)
by Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

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The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer. 

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learn-ing to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.


1. Can you share with us where the idea for this book stemmed from? Did it start as an inkling, or come to light as a whole formed idea?

It started mainly from my musings regarding siblings. I have a younger sister, but my parents miscarried a year before they had me. It's not something talked about in the family a lot, and I'd always wondered what it would be like if my older brother had survived. Writing-wise, The Bone Witch was sort of a physical representation of that – a sister literally raising her brother from the dead – and then built up from there. I've always been a big fan of Asian culture, particularly Japanese and Chinese, and they were what I knew a lot about, so the idea of weaving magic and spells around clothes felt organic, dress being a symbol of social ranking in both countries then. And in a world where magic existed, it felt like adding spells to what you wore would be a natural progression in this culture. From there, the idea of heartsglass evolved – an aesthetic-like spell that would have a utilitarian function. All those ideas were basically stepping stones where figuring out one idea unlocked new ones, until they all eventually became part of The Bone Witch.


2. What was your favorite part about writing this book? What kind of research did you get to do?

There wasn't as much research as most people might think. I was born and grew up in Asia, so it's less “research” and more of actually being brought up in the culture itself (particularly Chinese culture, which has a lot of aesthetic similarities to Japanese and Korean). I read Asian fantasies long before I read Western fantasies, so it was very easy to draw on my memories of those without much thought. And damn if recalling those stories didn't bring up a lot of memories of those books and my childhood as I wrote. I think the nostalgia was my favorite part! 

I did research on Middle Eastern culture, particularly during the Ayyubid dynasty, around the time of Saladin's rule, as basis for Odalia. I also read up on a lot of forensic science, though, just to see how decomposition actually works when it comes to writing undead characters. I didn't use as much of that knowledge as I would have liked, but I could probably write a noir / mystery novel somewhere down the road at this point.


3. Was there anything that you learned while writing this book that really surprised you?

It wasn't until I started writing the book that I realized how very different Asian and Western fantasies are. Asian fantasies tend to be panoramic in nature. It reads like movie shots of scenery frequently panning away to express the expansiveness of the world. They tend to be very heavy in volume, too. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, arguably the most famous Chinese epic, had 800,000 words and featured over a thousand characters. Fengshen Yanyi is smaller in scope, but still had over 100 chapters. Western fantasy though, tend to focus on the details rather than take in the overall view. Asian fantasies are slow burns that spend a lot of time crafting the world and the culture because they believe culture is also a character in the books. Western fantasy tends to be impatient when it comes to prose without action. It's a tiny realization, and I only learned that difference when I started writing Asian fantasy myself, despite having read both over many years.


4. What would you like to say to readers who are looking at picking up your books?

The Bone Witch is more than just an Asian YA fantasy about a girl who can raise the dead. It's also about a flawed girl who is forced into a world where certain expectations are required of her, without ever addressing how she feels or what she herself wants. And when those expectations result in her losing everything, this also becomes a story of how she takes charge of her own destiny on her own terms, for good or for ill. It's also about a girl who loves her older brother, about siblings who understand that life is fleeting and that it is important to treasure family bonds while you still have them, before they're changed forever.


5. Finally, give us a book recommendation! Other than your own fabulous book, what is one that you've read recently and loved?

I would very much like to contribute to the love for A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi! Also not something I've read yet, but S.A. Chakraborty's City of Brass sounds like an amazing read – it's based off my favorite story from 1001 Nights, with a female thief as a protagonist!

As with Rin Chupeco's previous books, I have to give a ton of love first and foremost to the cover designer. The Bone Witch stares at you off the shelf and demands that you pay attention to it. It begs you to read the synopsis, and be wooed by it. Then, you'll pick up the book and see that it is about a new world full of monsters, magic, and necromancy. A world where everyone wears their heart around their necks, and witches of all sorts live among the common people. A world where our protagonist finds that she isn't always welcome.

Yes, The Bone Witch definitely started off with a bang for me. The first line is perfection but, more than that, the first few chapters really draw you into the world that Chupeco is building. This story is told in flashbacks, as Tea remembers the child that she once was. It was a stunning way to do things, because you can see the innocence that she used to possess set starkly against the fierce and hardened woman that she is now. Each chapter pushed me further into Tea's life, and I happily followed along.

The one downside to this way of story telling, and I definitely know that this was partially because this is a first book and needs to set the stage, is that it is slow. As I mentioned above, the first few chapters fly by. Tea's abilities come to light, she's torn from everything she once knew, and set onto a path that she never expected to be on. Past that though, a lot of narrative ensues. Things slow down and, quite honestly, I ached for the flashbacks because I wanted more action. I wanted more of my fierce and cold bone witch, and her amazing powers. I wanted less of tea parties and polite conversation.

However, the benefit of telling the story this way is that it sets a detailed stage for the story to come. There are lot of characters introduced that, while they aren't that important this time around, you can tell will make a difference in Tea's further adventures. Since this book focused heavily on Tea's time as an apprentice, I see that she'll be growing into the next story. I can't deny that I was a slight bit disappointed that we missed out on more action, but I'm honestly also still really eager for more. I'll be picking up the next book for sure.


   


Rin Chupeco wrote obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and did many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fairy ta-les but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She wrote The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and The Bone Witch, the first book of a new YA Fantasy trilogy. Find her at rinchupeco.com.






Open Internationally 
Please read our Rules and Guidelines in the Rafflecopter 
(1) winner will win a crochet Tea doll and Signed Hard-back copy of The Bone Witch 
(2) winners will win a Bottlecap Necklace and a crochet Tea doll each











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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