Due to a complicated mess of a life, I haven’t had much time to respond to emails or post reviews. I haven’t even had a stable living address for the past 6 months, so I’m happy that on August 1st I’ll finally have a place to send my mail. I’m heartbroken to say that some of my most precious books have not survived the various moves, although I’ve managed to preserve the majority of my bookmark collection in a safe place in my car. In fact, my entire trunk is loaded with books right now.
I’m sorry that I’ve been out of touch with everyone. I miss reviewing terribly and I’ll respond in time to various emails from authors/publishers that have offered books that I’d be interested in reviewing. I also have reviews on paper that I need to put online, but, alas, I don’t have internet until my apartment is set up.
I’ll clean up some spam messages today. I apologies that so many have managed to get through the website spam filter.
As many roadblocks that I keep hitting, it almost seems like continuing this blog is not meant to be. I don’t want to quit reviewing. I’m just finding it very difficult to keep going. Here’s just the latest crazy thing to happen in my life…
Over the weekend, I got a terrible toothache. My daily intolerance (and subsequently calcium deficiency growing up) has made me very susceptible to teeth problems, so this came at no surprise to me. What did shock me was that my face swelled up horribly. The sharp, shooting pains of a toothache didn’t scare me as much as being unrecognizable to my own mother. Needlesstosay, I went to the dentist and had two teeth pulled (abscess was above them). They said that the antibiotics may take a few days to activate and relieve the swelling.
So, I apologize for not answering emails and basically disappearing off the planet. I’ll be back eventually.Read More
Thank you to Candace’s Book Promotion for organizing the tour and to Curiousity Quills Publishing for supplying a review copy. Check out my review of the first book from THE ARTIFACT HUNTER series and then enter the giveaway for your chance to win copies of both books plus more.
Nefertiti’s Heart by A. W. Exley
Genre: Steampunk, Science Fiction
Publisher: Curiosity Quills
Published: February 14th, 2013
Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.
London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father – sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to immortality.
Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.
Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.
It always makes me smile when a steampunk novel creates inventions completely unique to its world. I love how the rich have mechanical horse-powered carriages. One of the characters was an air-ship pirate. One thing that played in the back of my mind was that the focus seemed to be more on providing entertaining characters than characters that easily fit into the time period. Cara and her grandmother are both willful and naughty. I’m surprised that there wasn’t more of a focus about the scandalous behavior Cara engages in. Her female friend (I can’t remember her name) and fiance offered a little glimpse that the way Cara behaves is not normal for a lady, but I wish it was more center-stage. Still, I liked all the characters.
Romance lovers will love the building chemistry between Cara and her mysterious admirer. Cara, herself, has a confusing personality at the beginning, since her traumatic past prevents her from enjoying the womanly urges she has that are downright scandalous for the era. The focus shifts from the serial killer to Cara overcoming the mental scars inflicted on her as a teenager. This section is surprisingly heavily on the romance. Since I’m more of a fan of mystery than romance, the middle section lagged a bit.
But a sudden twist of the plot brought me right back to the story. The ending was far faster paced than the rest of the book and a complete page turner. Initially I thought a certain character was most definitely the killer, but I was happily wrong. Turns out all the wrong questions were being asked.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
Hatshepsut’s Collar by A.W. Exley
Page Count: 274
Published: November 13th, 2013
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
An ancient Egyptian artifact is driving Queen Victoria insane, and that’s not top of Cara Devon’s growing list of problems.
Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is a man of numerous secrets, but there is one in particular that threatens his fledgling relationship with Cara. Stunned by Nate’s revelation, and before she can absorb the ramifications of his actions, he is arrested, charged with treason and imprisoned in the grim Tower of London. He stole something the mad queen wants, and only has days to deliver, before his date with the executioner.
Although sorely tempted, Cara can’t let him die on Tower Green, not when their connection means she would share his fate.
Only together can Cara and Nate figure out how to wrestle Hatshepsut’s Collar from around the queen’s neck, before she plunges Britain into a world war. The search for answers sends Cara to the opulent Winter Palace of St Petersburg and the frozen depths of Siberia, with every step shadowed by an enemy with his own dark plans.
1 Steampunk Dragon Jewelry Box, Butterfly Hairclip, Full set of paperback books in the Artifact Hunters series & A pair of custom Nefertiti’s Heart / Hatshepsut’s Collar bookmarks with drawn character art (US/CA)
1 Google Chromecast, Full set of paperback books in the Curiosity Quills anthologies (Primetime & After Dark ’13) (US/CA)
- 12 ebook prize – READ AN EBOOK A MONTH Any 12 ebooks from the CQ catalog in the format of your choice (INT)
A Brief Eternity by Paul Beaumont
Genre: Humor/Satire, Paranormal
Publisher: Dangerous Little Books
Published: October 25th, 2013
One glorious spring day in London, Jesus Christ rudely interrupts the morning rush hour by returning to Earth. The Second Coming has begun and Jerry, hitherto oblivious to Jesus and all of his friends, finds himself transported to Heaven to live a new life in Paradise. And that’s when his troubles really begin… Witty, provocative, subversive and surprising, A Brief Eternity examines mankind’s fondest wishes for love, redemption, happiness, immortality and, paradoxically, for death. Along the way it provides answers to the most important questions about the afterlife: what’s the food like; who cleans the toilets; and how will the Islamic suicide bombers react when they realise they’re all condemned to Hell, forever? A Brief Eternity is best read soon, while there’s still time. Just in case…
At its core, A BRIEF ETERNITY is a story about a forbidden romance between Jerry and Rachel. Jerry has a cynical and sarcastic view on life and his biggest surprise when the Rapture happens is that he’s got a one-way ticket to Heaven. Many of the descriptions are literal interpretations of quotes from the Bible and the result is a version of Heaven that will both fascinate and repulse. It’s an agnostic’s view of Heaven and while technically a paranormal novel, I’d say that this would appeal more towards fans of satires.
Although countless fiction books have been published about ‘dead’ mythologies, it’s rare to find an author willing to put the same spin on a current day mythology aka theology. The majority of books written about Heaven or Hell are either strongly supportive of the Christian religion or bastardize the religious portion until it’s not even recognizable. The former are books like THE LEFT BEHIND series, while the latter books are simply a good vs evil war.
In A BRIEF ETERNITY, it’s quite clear early on in the book that Jerry doesn’t fit in with the rest of the ‘believers’ sent to Heaven. Going to Heaven with Jerry’s attitude would be like going to Disneyland and telling everyone at the park that the mascots are just people in furry costumes. If you truly believe in the magic, then the details don’t matter. It’s Heaven! Why is he complaining, right? Still, I couldn’t help but laugh at the predicaments he ends up in and the company he has to ‘suffer’.
Jerry is loaded with questions about the policies of the place and can’t seem to get his mind off of his girlfriend, whose Jewish beliefs kept her locked outside the pearly gates. When the book switches to her POV, we get an interesting version of Hell. In these chapters, I’m reminded of the INCARNATIONS OF IMMORTALITY series, which offered a not-so-gritty version of Hell. Life ‘down under’ continues much like it did on Earth.
Judging by the cover and blurb, A BRIEF ETERNITY appeared to be preachy. I wasn’t quite sure when the author would stuff his personal beliefs down my throat but I was certain it would happen (spoiler — it doesn’t). I suppose that you could view this book as a religious satire. It’s has the humor of the HITCHHIKER’S GALAXY with a controversial plot like THE DA VINCI CODE. THE DA VINCI code asked what if Jesus had a wife, while A BRIEF ETERNITY asked what if the Bible was literally true…would you still want to go there?
I think that two types of people should stay far away from this book:
a) You think that religion is a load of horse-shit and all books mentioning it should be burned at the stake like the ‘witches’ during the middle-Ages.
b) You think that anyone who criticizes the way that God works deserves to burn in Hell.
Basically, this book requires either an open mind or someone who isn’t easily offended by jokes about their religion. I also want to point out that I’m not quite sure what version of the Bible was used when researching this book. Each religious branch teaches different things. For example, I was raised Catholic and never even heard of the Rapture until I had a Methodist boyfriend. This is about how our conversation went:
Me: You actually believe that ‘believers’ will one day go poof into thin air and disappear from Earth?
Him: You actually believe that the wine they serve during communion is literally the ‘Blood of Christ’?
(Although, in this case, he DID actually believed enough in the Rapture to slap a full size decal on his back window that said: ‘In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned.’ On an semi-unrelated note, he ended up totaling my car when I let him drive. No Rapture required for that accident.)
I highly recommend this to readers who like humorous satires such as THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE and don’t mind a book that provokes thoughts about what your own version of Heaven and whether people should take everything in the Bible literally. Paul Beaumont’s spin on Heaven certainly doesn’t match my own version, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story within these pages.
P.S. I love the oxymoron title.
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
Replica by Jenna Black
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Publisher: Tor Teen
Published: July 16th, 2013
Breathtaking new YA SF from the author of the Faeriewalker series
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in the Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image — no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.
Nathan Hayes is the heir of Paxco — controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren’t in love, they’ve grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.
Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.
When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn’t know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.
REPLICA tries to break the YA mold by adding a twist to the relationship between the main female and male characters. Nadia and Nathan are engaged, but one of them (very minor spoiler – find out in first chapter) is gay and in love with someone else. In order to maintain her social status, Nadia pretends like she is in love with Nathan. Their superficial relationship is tested when Nathan is killed, supposedly by the third wheel in their love affair.
The most obvious (for me) person behind the killing ended up being the person to do the deed, which is the main reason I scored this book so low. I don’t like books that I can predict the end within the first chapter or two.
The other shortfall for this novel is the lack of scientific terms and technology. The only evidence that this book takes place in the future is the cover and the concept of human cloning. There is very minimal world building. There is no science involved, which makes me very wary to even call this a science-fiction novel. I don’t think of it as a dystopian novel either, though it’s class system could allude to the genre.
Nadia’s motivations in this book appear to be one-dimensional. I was hoping that she’d develop more over the course of the story, but it didn’t happen. The story was linear, like in a MG novel. The entire book felt flat and in my mind I was looking too much into the little things that happened and hoping that there would be something beyond the obvious. I had hope that there would be some kind of unexpected twist at the end.
But no. I think tween readers might appreciate the simplistic story, but this book fails in comparison to other books on the YA level.
(I received a copy of this book from the ARCycling in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
I know this is an atypical topic for me, but I wanted to share a little bit about me. Outside of books.
A little more than a year ago, my husband and I were suppose to pack up and move back to New York. With all of my family on that side of the country, I really was looking forward to the move.
Instead, he convinced me to restart our trucking company in order to stay in Arizona. He now spends 4-5 nights a week on the road. I have to be up by 7am and usually finish paperwork/dispatching by noon, though some days it doesn’t end until 4pm. Dispatching requires up typically 10 phone calls a day (up to 23 and as little as 3) and due to a very vocal toddler, I have to hide in my garage to have an uninterrupted phone call. The paperwork portion of the job allows for a much noisier setting, so I get to do that at my desk, heh. Sometime after lunch, I put the kid down to sleep. Since I’m usually up to 2am writing/blogging, I often fall asleep during nap time too. If I’m lucky enough to remain awake, this is the time of day I get to read during the week.
Without books and my book-related hobbies to keep me company, I’m not sure how I’d survive this life. It’s hectic during the day and lonely at night. My husband uses Saturday to enjoy his hobby, so the only day we get to spend together is Sunday. /sigh
I never imagined myself in this profession growing up and I know that I don’t want my husband to be still on the road when the kid starts school, but it does pay the bills. In this economy, I’m thankful to have that.Read More