Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Currently Reading

We've come to the end of another year together, readers. I'm so very grateful that you've taken this journey with me. With all the rough times in health and family situations, this blog and you all have been comforts to me. I'm looking forward to 2015 and all the wonderful moments it will bring with it.

Writing and editing muses were very lazy this past week, but the reading muse pushed me to get back on track. I may not reach my original book goal of 120 books for 2014, but I was able to reach the halfway mark. That in the midst of everything I endured in the shadows made everything seem worthwhile. Here's to a new goal and a new year!


Moving to the new year with me are;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Fire in the Blood by Erin M. Evans
The Vines by Christopher Rice


Leaving these books behind;
The Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life of a Bestselling Crime Writer by Joanne Drayton
The Ultimate Gift (The Ultimate Gift #1) by Jim Stovall

May each and every one of you have a wonderful, happy and safe new year celebration! It will be a laid-back, easy-going type of affair here. Good luck and hope to see you all in the new year!

Until next time,
Kay B

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Currently Reading

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

I know it's only Christmas Eve, but I wanted to be sure to get the good will out there before the festivities overtook us all. For the majority of the day, I will be with family and away from my computer. The rest of the week will be spent recovering from all the goodies and chit-chat. It doesn't really look as though we're going to have much in the way of snow for this Christmas. The weather has been mild, to say the least.

Over the course of the last few days, I've gotten much of the flu bug out of my system. I've been able to focus on reading and working once again. That's an awesome thing as I'm seeing this pile start to lean a little to one side. There's a definite fear that it will topple soon. Time to get to work devouring those words!


Found in the Christmas stocking,
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Fire in the Blood by Erin M. Evans
The Vines by Christopher Rice


Riding high with Santa,
Serial Killers True Crime Anthology 2014 (True Crime Library RJPP #1) by R.J. Parker


Whatever holiday you and your loved ones celebrate this season, I wish you all lots of love, laughter and precious memories. May the good times be with you in the darker moments to give you light and joy.

Until next time,
Kay B

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Currently Reading

Not much left to the year known as 2014, but I've been doing a lot of soul searching over the past few days. Due to the rush of the holidays, my current bad health and a few personal situations with my family, I have come to a sort of sad decision. I will be posting only the Current Reading posts on Wednesdays until after the first of the new year. I hate to disappoint people, but the worry and health consequences would have me continually push things further and further in that direction. If I rest up and get well, I can come back with a passion to knock out this list.


Two by two, they gather here;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Fire in the Blood by Erin M. Evans
The Vines by Christopher Rice


One by one, they limp away there,
None - yet.


A HUGE thanks to the authors who have been so gracious and allowed me to move their book reviews into the new year. I couldn't have made the decision without their input. Here's to everyone having a wonderful holiday season and see you all here next week!

Until next time,
Kay B

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Currently Reading

Hmm, I'm wondering if we're really so far into the new year. I know the calendar says that we are over a week into December, but the weather doesn't agree. There's been more rain than snow. Some in the area are worried that we might not get the white Christmas that we're used to seeing. Then again, not traveling with a foot of slush on the ground is great as well.

So far, we're marching through the TBR pile at a good pace. I'm glad that a lot of the outside projects have been completed. Now, I can get down to business with these books that have been waiting so patiently for me to pick them up. And if I'm to be really honest, I've been missing them as well. Whether they take me out of a painful or gloomy situation, books have always been a source of comfort.


Santa's watching my TBR list;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Fire in the Blood by Erin M. Evans
The Vines by Christopher Rice



Titles going to good homes are;
Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen



In about a week or two, the extreme rush of the holidays will be on all of us in some fashion. No matter what your plans for the holidays may be, remember to stop and breathe. Enjoy the little moments that make them special memories.

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, December 8, 2014

Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen


Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Jayla's world had never been an easy one for her to navigate. Despite all that she had to endure, the one thing she wanted most was simply to fall in love. Then came Maxine - a charismatic, good-looking woman who stated her genuine love for Jayla and all Jayla's differences. Unfortunately, Maxine already a girlfriend, Becky.

When something devastating happened during a July weekend at Becky's house, Jayla was drawn into a web of lies, contradictions and manipulation unlike anything she ever encountered. She needed to choose between truth and love, the hardest decision one could be asked to make. Could she navigate the murky waters of all Maxine told her in time? Or would she fall victim to the woman's strange spell over her forever?

Review:
With all the books offered at NetGalley, it was hard to pick a few each month in order to keep myself from being overwhelmed. However, when I read the description for this book, something about the description set it apart from the others. This particular book did cover subjects that may be hard for some readers due in large part to the theme of domestic violence.

In a weird kind of way, the domestic violence became a character in the story alongside all the others. Jayla was a transgender teen trying to find her way in a world that didn't do well in the acceptance department. She had a rock in her best friend, Francesca, and her Aunt Hope, but the rest of the world wasn't as eager to help. The author was able to present a wide range of people that one might find within the LGBTQ community in way which didn't make light of the the struggles they face - both internally and in society. The skepticism that members of the community face and the lengths that they must go through in order to be accepted within our society today were well presented. On top of all this, Jayla found the love of her life in a cisgender girl named Maxine who unfortunately had a girlfriend well-known in the Center. Maxine was someone from the richer side of the tracks and brought a whole other layer of conflict to the story. The secondary characters in that part of the world had their own neuroses that also didn't make things easy on Jayla.

From the beginning the author eased both the reader and Jayla into the story, smoothly continuing until there seemed to be no hope. It was easy to see how someone who wanted to experience a real sense of love and acceptance could fall victim to someone with less than good intentions. And let's be honest, I was halfway through the book when the thought that the book might have not been up my alley after all. In fact, I envisioned the Twilight level backlash on the obvious domestic violence/abusive relationship occurring before the reader's eyes in the novel without the author responding to it within the story. I began to wonder if I should stop reading when Jayla called attention to the issue herself. That's when the book turned into a better read for me. Not only did the novel present the limited resources and several legal issues that a person in Jayla's position could endure, it threw a spotlight on the fact that anyone anywhere can be involved such a relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. No, I didn't enjoy a few of the characters, but that's okay because they weren't written to be liked. I could see the signs of an abusive relationship and kept hoping that Jayla would as well. When she finally got it, I wanted to cheer. The evidence that the author did her homework on the issues and procedures that many transgenders have to go through was plain to see from the beginning of the book. When I first met Jayla, I didn't know she was a transgender woman. I thought the book was about two young cisgender women who fall in love and then all hell broke loose. I'm happy to have read this book because it did open my eyes to a number of different things. Though I'm still learning, it was place to start. If you're looking for a mysterious love story that keeps those pages turning, then this is the novel you to put on your TBR pile.

Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen is currently available at many online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in either paperback or digital formats including Kindle. The link below will bring up the book's page at Amazon.
Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen

 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December's Hopes and Dreams

I've said it time and time again. This year has gone by way too fast for my taste. Usually I have enough time to stop and savor the year. So many projects, books to be read and words to be written piled up that I never saw the pages turn on my calender. Sneaky pages, they shouldn't have been flipping by themselves!

With all the items that I had to set on the back burner recently, I was glad to find that I still had a passion for writing. No matter how silly the first draft sounds, I only have to sit down and get the words out. Then I can go back over it to polish it up before letting someone read through it. For a small part of the year, I let negativity get to me. It shut down my desire and belief that writing is what my heart wants me to do. I gave in to the dark thoughts that made me feel less than worthy of putting my thoughts on paper. Now that I have that fire once again, I'm looking forward to continuing my writing journey.

In the meantime my TBR pile grew by leaps and bounds. So many good books out there that I couldn't stop myself from collecting them in print and Kindle editions. My poor Kindle is screaming at me to get busy and read. So even though I took a break around this time last year due to the holidays, I think I need to spend some time alone with a great book or two. I am sure with the hustle and bustle of the family gatherings that I'll need a respite sooner rather than later.

I have set a goal to finish editing NaNo2012 and begin working on its sequel. I really feel that I've got a few good ideas that I hope pan out. That is, if my muse wants to help me. She is a fickle visitor at best. I'll have to make the most of her visits. I have been trying to sit in front of the computer for at least an hour a day, typing whatever comes to mind for the story I'm working on at the moment. No worry over whether it's good or bad, just get the words down. I know I mentioned that earlier. I continue to remind myself each day.

May the holiday season bring you peace, love and great memories. No matter what holiday you celebrate during the month of December, be sure to spend it with the ones you love to create memories to sustain through the rougher, darker moments.

Until next time,
Kay B

Friday, December 5, 2014

Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga


Release Date: April 16, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Jasper Dent series, Book 2

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Jasper Dent and the people of Lob's Nod spent months recovering from an attack by a serial killer known as the Impressionist. Thanks to Jasper's unique status as being the only son of Billy Dent, one of the most notorious serial killers in his own right, the town was saved with only a few casualties along the way. The aftermath left Jasper reeling as information about his past, as well as his father, found ways to slip out of their cages.

When a new, vicious killer began stalking the streets of New York, Jasper was called in to help with the search. Although he hoped to escape the clutches of his father's legacy, what he found in the latest case only confirmed how far-reaching Billy's influence truly was. Jasper was now in a race to solve the New York case, but to figure out the strange clues to his past before something bad happened to him or those he loved the most.

Review:
I found this book on NetGalley shortly after finishing the author's first book in the series. I was interested in what happened in Jasper's world since the events of the previous book, so I requested the book. Needless to say, there was quite a lot that going on for many within Jasper's circle of friends and not just to Jasper alone. This book didn't start immediately after the conclusion of I Hunt Killers, but some months after all hell broke loose in the little town of Lob's Nod.

The main trio of teenagers were once again in the middle of the action as a serial killer in New York baffled the police and FBI alike. As a last resort, one of the detectives made his case for Jasper's help in stopping the guy before a state-wide panic ensued. While the previous focused more on Jasper, his background and how the other people around town interacted with him, this book split the main focus on several of the players. Of course, we were shown more insights into the way Jasper navigated the world, but the author also presented more of Connie's home life and way of thinking and Howie's deep devotion to Jasper. Other characters introduced in this book include more of Jasper's strange family, law enforcement officials who were affected by Billy's crimes, and an ever-widening circle of killers who all seem to be linked.

After the book began with a pair of gruesome  murders and introduced the reader to whatever game was being played as well as the unknown players. The level of brutality and a strange level of creativity grew as the book continued. Even things taking place in Jasper's town seemed to be a beehive of activity that only settled down as the crimes elsewhere picked up. As the leads were followed and the case drew to a close, there was a sense that everything happened at a fever pitch until that final reveal. Conflict upon conflict upon conflict drove the story forward as everyone battled something whether it was an inner war or battling with someone else. There were a few moments where I couldn't believe the character made that particular decision. (Now, you know that I don't give spoilers if I can help it! Go read the book!)

In all honesty, this book was a really entertaining read for me. Even though I knew from the get-go that the killers were playing some sort of game, I didn't put it all together which game they were playing before Jasper did. Man, it was a bit of a shock when I did. That twist put a smile on my face because once it was out, you could flip back to the beginning and see it. What happened to the other characters and the other revelations the book offered really made me wonder how the end was going to answer all the questions from this book and the previous one. The ending both frustrated me and had me wanting to know where it was going. If you're looking for a special kind of twisted way of thinking mixed with the worries and problems that fill a teen boy's mind, then you need to pick up a copy of this book.

Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga is currently available at many online retailers and local bookstores in either hardcover or digital versions including Kindle. Clicking the link below will open the book's Amazon page.
Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Currently Reading

Yes! Back on track after a whirlwind of the last two months. October was jam-packed with projects that ended, books read and even some great times with awesome family and friends. November came in as busy as October ended. I tired juggling NaNoWriMo with catching up the blog because I used all my reserves. So, now it's like I'm starting all over again. I like a challenge.

I didn't win my NaNoWriMo attempt this year because I ended at a hair under 40k words. About half a novel is waiting for me to shape and mold it. I'm happy with that. The past few years have been a challenge due to some mental blocks I've not been able to shake. I've got the bug to write again. I just hope that my muse is ready for how hard I want her to work. 


Excited to read through these;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Fire in the Blood by Erin M. Evans
Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen


Sad to see these go;
Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga


Here's to hoping that December will allow me to get more done. Even with the holidays, I'm looking forward to all of the books I have coming up on the TBR list. Wishing all of you a safe and happy December!

Until next time,
Kay B

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Currently Reading

I apologize for the lack of reviews during this month. November is the hardest month for me to live through for a number of reasons. It all boils down to the fact that I lost someone closest to me and I am still sorting through the rubble of that day. Therefore, I try to keep enough things around to distract me. That didn't work this year.

So, I've weathered most of the storm and back in the work chair. I've got a few things lined up to finish while everyone's enjoying their Turkey Day in the US. As far as NaNoWriMo, I'm way behind but putting in a long night of writing tonight to get caught up. I'm getting the hang of tying up that inner editor. That allows me to write what I want to get on the page without editing at the same time. The bulk of the story is there for me to fine tune afterwards. 


Going to work through these books;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Fire in the Blood by Erin M. Evans
Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga


Crossing off the following titles;
None - yet. :(


I know not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving or if they do, it's not this week. However, I do wish you all a wonderful week filled with moments of thankfulness for all the good things. Despite the dark times, there is hope. Sometimes it hides from us for a little while, but it's always there.

Until next time,
Kay B

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Currently Reading

Busy Kay is not a reading Kay. Unfortunately, I have had my hands full trying to figure out a way to work on everything that November is throwing at me. I tried a number of tricks to get ahead on the reading and got lost within the books. That ate hours away that I'd assigned to writing. Now I'm behind on my NaNoWriMo project for this year. It's a never-ending juggling act but one that I'm grateful to encounter.

We've had our first snowfall here in the area. Everything has its own little white blanket. The streets and sidewalks are clear now. We'll see how long that lasts when the forecasted storms rumble this direction. I will admit that the cold weather makes for a time of increased writing for me. Whether that writing is any good or not, I'm not sure. I'm just glad to be putting words on the page after a long, long drought.


Can these be finished?
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Fire in the Blood by Erin M. Evans



On their way are;
None - yet.


November is more than halfway over. That doesn't bode well for those of us who are behind in our NaNoWriMo projects. But I have faith that with some doubling down of concentration and lots of snacks and chocolate. Time to get to work!

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, November 17, 2014

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga


Release Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Series: Jasper Dent series, Book I

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Jasper "Jazz" Dent was an unwilling celebrity in his small hometown of Lobo's Nod when the law discovered his father was the worst serial killer in history. With his father convicted and behind bars, Jasper spent the last four years trying to live a "normal" teenage life while living with his grandmother. His two closest friends, Connie and Howie, kept him ground when the dark thoughts threatened to overtake him.

When bodies began piling up in the small town for a second time, Jasper couldn't shake the feeling that his special knowledge was important to the investigation. If he didn't help, more people would die and the blood would be on his hands. What he didn't know was how far the killer would go to protect his work. Can Jasper find the killer without giving in to the dark desires? Will he be able to survive at all?

Review:
A late-night scouring of the available titles at NetGalley led me to requesting this title by Barry Lyga. Intrigued from the beginning, I was glad to discover that this book didn't disappoint. I often wondered what became of the children born to those so evil. This book took one of the paths available and explored as many nooks and crannies as possible. From the beginning, it was apparent how special of a kid Jasper truly was. I do mean special in a weird and intriguing way.

Most of the book was centered around Jasper and his attempts to find his place within the small, backwoods town that he called home. Being a teenager was hard under the most normal of circumstances, but when you were the son of a famous serial killer, life was unbearable. The only bright spots in his life were his girlfriend, Connie, and his best friend, Howie. They kept him centered when the lessons his father taught him threatened to push him over the edge. While dealing with all this, a gnawing feeling that a second serial killer at work in their town kept him awake at night and in trouble with the local sheriff.

Right away the conflict within Jasper and with the world around him permeated the story. It was a bit odd to start reading and see a teen with night-scope binoculars watching police investigate a body found in the middle of a farm field. There wasn't much of a change in pace as it was full on from the first chapter. Each interaction between the characters dropped tidbits of information that kept me turning the pages. Not only did this book explore the theory of nature versus nurture in relation to Jasper going up to be a serial killer or not, the entire story explored the meaning of family and whether being bond by blood was the only acceptable definition of family. Now, I don't give spoilers in my reviews if I can help it, but what happened at the end of the book threw everything on its head.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a refreshing twist on the serial killer genre and put a spotlight on the part of a serial killer's life that's often fallen by the wayside - the family. I liked how honest Jasper was with himself about the desires and remorse that he felt and the lengths he went to in order to stay grounded. It was admirable to see him face down his inner demons and use his knowledge to help instead of destroy. I'm anxious to see how future books play out and whether Jasper is ever tempted to take that one little step into the darkside. If you love a twisting, turning, strangely enduring and unique type of serial killer story, I would definitely put this book on your TBR list!

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga is currently available at many retailers in various formats including hardcover, paperback, audio-book and digital including Kindle. The link provided below leads to the book's Amazon page.
I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Currently Reading

I'm still alive. At least I think I am. When I decided to take a week to take care of a few real life issues interfering with my reading and reviewing, I didn't intend on battling some kind of chest/sinus congestion at the same time.  That kept me from reading, setting me even further behind. So, I am going to push the reading bit even while I'm forcing my NaNoWriMo to move forward as well.


To be read;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Fire in the Blood by Erin M. Evans


Finished;
I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga


Though I've been out of action for a bit, I hope you all have been having productive NaNoWriMo times so far this month. Lots of time left to conquer this goal. Let's do it together!

Until next time,
Kay B

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Currently Reading

 When I thought most of my busy days would end on Halloween, I was so very wrong. Not only am I still busy into November, but my prioritizing skills are being tested time and again. On top of all this, my chronic illnesses have decided to rear their ugly heads. My movements feel as though they're slowed, like I'm swimming through caramel or honey. Every little thing I do takes so much more time than I want it to take.

On the plus side, I'm making headway into NaNo2014. I'm slightly under the average word goal for today. With an hour of solid writing time, I might be able to pull ahead of schedule. I don't know how the story's going to end or what's going to happen until I write it out. Yes, I have a general idea what's going to happen, but sometimes the characters take off on their own. I have to chase them down to figure out what comes next. So we'll have to wait and see.


Happy to see these books on top;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga


Sorry to see these go;
Casting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus


As a great way to end the year, the first annual Give A Granny drive that our community project held this year met its goal! In fact we collected over 500 granny squares. Now the hard part comes into play. We get to edge them with a binding color before sewing them into blankets for the nursing residents. What do you all have planned for this month?

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, November 3, 2014

Small Break

Due to a number of reasons, I don't have book reviews ready for this week. I am in the middle of several books. Now that I have time to finish them, I will begin posting once again next Monday. Currently Reading will still be available this Wednesday.

I'm so sorry for the break in reviews. Unfortunately real life has decided to get full quicker than I anticipated.
Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Until next time,
Kay B

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November's Hopes and Dreams

Oh, yeah! It's NaNoWriMo time!

November is such a bittersweet month for me. There are quite a few personal tragedies that make getting through the month hard in a number of ways. Though many say that time heals, I haven't found that statement to be accurate as of yet. So, I've learned to distract myself through projects such as NaNoWriMo or the Brown-Brooks Project, which is currently making afghans for the residents of a local nursing home.

However, doing NaNoWriMo hasn't always been a positive distraction. Because I was working on a manuscript during the time in which I lost someone very close to me, it took a few years before I began to pick up the pen and write again. Using the computer to write didn't help either. I felt stuck behind this huge brick wall with a flashing neon light. The message it kept delievering? You can't do this. You can't do this.

Over and over, I saw this until I actually believed it to be true. My writing wasn't going anywhere anyway. I had one poem published in a vanity press collection. What kind of writer doesn't get published? I would jot down beginnings of stories, half-written poems or just names and descriptions of characters. Nothing changed until 2012. Something clicked inside me and a story came tumbling out. I thought it would be something to do with the loss I was feeling, but it was something else entirely. Winning NaNoWriMo in 2012 gave me the push I needed to continue looking into other things such as a local writing conference and getting a few articles published in a local literary magazine.

All it takes is a step out of that comfort zone. No matter the big, neon signs saying negative things. No matter the unsettling feelings that taking the step brings with it. You can take that step toward making your dream come true. Whether it's writing a novel or becoming a recording artist, you have take those first steps. Conquer the brick walls in your way and keep moving forward.

Anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo this year? How's it going so far?  I know it's only a couple of days into the month. Should have about 3000 words by now. Let's do this together!

Until next time,
Kay B


Friday, October 31, 2014

Casting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus


Release Date: May 12, 2013
Publisher: Smarmy Press

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Life as a teen is hell, especially for 15 year-old Jake who sees himself as weak and at the bottom of the high school food chain. He can't find the courage to stand up to the daily torment he receives from bullies, can't make a move on the girl of his dreams, and definitely can't find his place in the world. Sensing that he needs to change, he turns to his older, world-wise cousin, Nick, for the answers.

At Nick's side Jake learns the cold, hard truth about the world at large. He begins to channel his anger into confidence and leans more to Nick's lessons until he discovers a terrible secret that throws everything he knew into chaos. Does anything he knew before or after these lessons still hold water? Or has it all been a lie - one that could cost Jake everything?

Review:
This book came onto my radar as I spent time on Twitter one day. I honestly cannot remember exactly who had shared the tweet, but I went to the author's page to follow the link to the book's page at Amazon. Since I found the description of the book intriguing, I added the title to my Kindle and the ever-growing TBR list. I truly didn't know what to expect from this book as I began reading. It took reading until the very end to figure out everything.

Jake's coming-of-age story was written from his point-of-view in a journalistic style. He gave the reader a sense of what it was like to be in high school, conjuring up a view that many in this day and age could remember from their early years. Things began to take a different path right away when he wrote about his cousin, Nick, and the lessons about life that Nick taught him. As these lessons became harder and more intense, Jake's view of the world around him changed. It wasn't always for the better. The one bright spot in his otherwise invisible existence was Beth, the girl who paid more attention to him than anyone else. But even this positive relationship was tarnished by the darkness welling inside Jake as he struggled to find himself.

The story began with an action-packed scene, but remained a little slow on take-off for me. I think it was shifting gears into journal-reading mode on my behalf. Not more than a page or two after the opening scene, events began happening in rapid succession. Both Jake and the reader became stuck in Nick's web of lies and philosophy without realizing it until the final lesson was taught. To be honest, I was surprised by some of the later chapters (no, I'm not going to give spoilers) because I was too busy thinking about Jake figuring out his life to notice that someone around him wasn't all he/she presented to be. When I reached the turning point, I was both puzzled and excited, wondering what was going to happen next.

All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I anticipated. Because the author eased the entry into Jake's world, it was easy to get caught up in the little things that Jake thought important and miss the huge red flags that something was going on in the background. I really liked how honest Jake was in his journal. The confusion he was feeling came through the words, especially when he wrote about his dreams and struggled to find meaning in them. Kernels of truth about the world and society at large were woven into the fabric of the story. I think that's why it was easy to become snared by Jake's dilemma. If you're a fan of mysteries or simply love a good story where the boogey-man is quite real, then this is the book you should have on your TBR list!

Casting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus is currently available in both paperback and digital formats such as Kindle from various online retailers. The link provided below will bring up the book's page at Amazon.
Casting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Currently Reading

What a busy week! Not only was I trying to fit in a bunch of reading before NaNoWriMo, but I had a crochet project to finish, a wedding to attend and doctor appointments to keep! To be honest, I haven't had a week that jam-packed in a very, very long time. I know I've mentioned this before, but it's been awhile. For those that don't know, I have a few illnesses that are chronic (and annoying) conditions. They zap my energy and keep me from doing everything my mind plans within a short amount of time. What would take a few days for the average person would take me months.

Nevertheless, I am recovering and back to work on a variety of things. I'm trying to get everything settled before Halloween. This way I can enjoy the holiday with my family and friends before the rush of NaNoWriMo begins. Excited to work on something new this year, I am hoping to make the goal of 50k words by the end of November.


Diving into the worlds of the following;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Casting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus


Coming up for air as I finish these;
Confessions of a Self-Help Writer by Brian DeHaven


With the chilly temperatures, I'm thinking of snuggling into a warm blanket with a pile of books near me. Thanks to my Kindle, I can have a whole lot more in that pile. What are you looking forward to the most in November?

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, October 27, 2014

Banished: The Gods Among Us (Book #1) by William L. Deen


Release Date: December 7, 2011
Publisher: White Eagle Publishing
Series: The Gods Among Us series, Book 1

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Based upon the tales of Ancient Sumeria, gods and goddesses live their day-to-day lives in the realm of Nibiru. When Inlil viciously assaults Sud, he is banished to Earth to live in the form of a wolf and admonished to stay away from humans. The ruling leader of Nibiru, Anu, warns Inlil that he would be imprisoned within Irkalla should he break that one rule.

But Inlil is unable to stop once the temptation comes before him. Not only does he thrive on the power, he now has a taste for blood and believes himself unstoppable. Anu must fulfill his decree or risk losing his hold on the realm he rules and those within it. Can Anu stop the fragmenting of his realm before Inlil brings ruin to Earth?

Review:
I came across this book while searching through Amazon's free Kindle Top 100 one day. The idea that gods had their trials and tribulations always interested me, so I opted to get this book. To be fair and honest this was a very quick read as the book was under 100 pages in length. I almost felt as though this was half a book with so much more to be explored than the foundation of a series. I found the entire story to be engaging and well written despite the short length.

The main action took place within the realm of the Sumerian gods, known as Nibiru. For a portion of the story, there was a cast of characters as the main focus including Anu, the ruling leader, his family and the lesser gods which comprised his court. The focus was then split between the two realms of Nibiru and Earth when Anu banished his youngest son, Inlil, as punishment for the brutal assault on the goddess, Sud. It was interesting to see the gods having as much trouble navigating their lives and world as we, humans, do here on Earth. I thought the author did a good job of keeping each god/dess within the tradition of the one in which he or she was based. So many distinct personalities and immortal grudges made for fiery interactions between quite a few of them.

As far as the pacing, events took place rapidly once the first chapter opened with the assault on Sud. From there, the pacing was consistent until the end of the novella. It seemed like the story got interesting as the end came near because of the story's short length. Dialogue and Inlil's exploration of Earth moved the story to the point where a showdown was imminent between Inlil and whichever god would be sent to punish him further for breaking the one rule he was given to obey - not to interfere with the humans.

I did enjoy the story from beginning to end. Overall, it was a complete story with enough of a foundation to base the series that followed. A number of questions asked within the first book were left unanswered. Plots thickened and actions taken by many were left unopposed and without repercussions. I think the author is onto something with this series. Hopefully the length will be longer in the other books! If you're looking for a nicely developed retelling of the lives of the ancient gods, give this series a try.

Banished: The Gods Among Us (Book #1) by William L. Deen is currently available at many online retailers in digital formats such as Kindle. Clicking the link provided below will bring up the book's Amazon page.
Banished: The Gods Among Us (Book #1) by William L. Deen

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Competition (Rachel Knight #4) by Marcia Clark


Release Date:  July 8, 2014
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Series: Rachel Knight series, Book #4

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
After a devastating school shooting in the style of Columbine, Rachel Knight is put on the case alongside Detective Bailey Keller to find the answers to some of the hardest questions they've had to face to date. Digging deeper into the reasons behind the shooting reveal that the concrete evidence they'd collected wasn't so concrete after all. Now, both Knight and Keller are on the hunt to find the person or persons responsible before it's too late.

As they weave their way around the trails that the evidence takes them, they find more questions than answers until the second shooting takes place. Everything they knew about the perpetrators was turned upside down. Now, Rachel must continue to find a way to stop the next shooting any way she can. Will she able to shift out the puzzle pieces that don't fit in time to save the next group of people?

Review:
After reading the first three books in the Rachel Knight series offered by NetGalley, I looked forward to reading this one as well and offering an honest review. Truth be told, each of the books covered a difficult case, but I felt this offering by the author was by far the most "ripped from the headlines" in the series. As with the other three books, this one incorporated information from the previous cases where needed without disrupting the current plot. Having a few familiar faces resurface in a few key areas not only helped to move the story along in a believable fashion, but made me smile a time or two at the hijinks they planned or enacted.

The novel is written from Rachel's point-of-view as it was with the previous three offerings by the author. Many of the key players from the previous cases return, bringing their expertise with them. Graden, Bailey and Dorian made themselves known from the start because of the severity of the case. Being a part of the Special Trials Unit and dating one of the brass in law enforcement did have a few perks for Rachel to enjoy, but it also meant that she endured some of the most devastating of cases - a school shooting. Not all of Rachel's core group had a major part in this book, but they were able to contribute their ideas here and there whenever there was a meeting of the minds, so to speak. Toni, another lawyer within Rachel's unit and best friend, didn't have as much of an impact within this story other than to offer an outsider's opinion. Because of the nature of the shooting, a pair of psychologists were thrown into the mix of experts and offered their insights into the dark mind of the shooter.

The book started off slow and focused on a few of the kids that would be attending Fairmont High School. Once they were in place at the school, the mood quickly darkened. Once the police were on scene, the pace ramped up and stayed at a high level as the characters raced against time to stop the next shooting from happening. Unfortunately, the persons responsible were quite a few steps ahead of Rachel and the investigative teams. When they thought they had a handle on the situation or a good clue that might bring an end to the terror, something or someone would reveal how far off-base they were. For a good portion of the book, I thought I had things figured out. I could see how they came to their conclusions and were just as confused when other revelations came to light.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. While I enjoyed the story for its thrilling and mysterious atmosphere, the subject matter made it difficult to ignore the voice inside saying it hit a little close to home. It was interesting to see the focus placed more on the 'how to detect' angle instead of glorifying the shooter or the shootings itself. Many theories were thrown around, each credible in their own way, but there wasn't a simple explanation to sweep the devastation under a rug. When it came to the end, I hoped for a moment of clarity for the responsible party. I'm not sure if it ever truly came to pass. The thrill of the hunt combined with the overwhelming emotions the case brought on made for a wild ride all over L.A. and into Colorado. If you're looking for a story that will grab at your heartstrings and tug at them until the last possible moment, then this book is one you need to read.

The Competition (Rachel Knight #4) by Marcia Clark is currently available for purchase at many retailers, both online and local bookstores. It can be found in hardcover, paperback or digital editions including Kindle. The link provided below will take you to the book's Amazon page.
The Competition (Rachel Knight #4) by Marcia Clark

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Currently Reading

It seems to me that this year is going by so fast. I know I've said it many times in these posts, but it seriously feels that way to me. When I thought I had enough time to finish many a project, it all slipped away from me. Of course, nearing the end of the month does bring Halloween closer. I think I can give the quick time passage a little slack since that is my favorite holiday.

The end of the month also brings the start of NaNoWriMo closer. I've noticed that I write more during the fall and winter months than the other half of the year. So a push to finish editing and find the endings to the ones I've already begun has started. All the other obligations are soon to be over at the end of the month as well. So, I'll be able to focus on reading, reviewing and writing.


Working on these this week;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry


Finished off the following;
Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries by Mark Leslie
The Competition (Rachel Knight #4) by Marcia Clark
Banished: The Gods Among Us (Book #1) by William L. Deen


Has the pumpkin-spiced world overtaken you yet? I don't know why they think pumpkin should be reserved for this time of year. It's a yummy taste so I'd like to have it year-round. What's your take on this?

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries by Mark Leslie


Release Date: September 27, 2014
Publisher: Dundurn Group

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Libraries and bookstores are much-loved places among those who treasure the written word. As with any place that makes a huge impact on one's life, some chose not to leave once their time on earth is done. This book is filled with tales of those who stay for one reason or another, whether it be the company or a specific and beloved tome.

Mark Leslie combines his love of books with his love of the supernatural to give this listing of places that would delight ghost hunters and bookworms alike. Filled with history and tales of things that go bump in the night, this books gives its readers a taste of local legends from across Canada and the United States. Who knows? You might just find your beloved bookstore or childhood library among them!

Review:
While searching through the titles available for review at NetGalley, I found this gem of a book and had to request it. Not only did the book cover the supernatural, but it also visited a wide variety of both bookstores and libraries. Those places have always held a special place in my heart and probably will continue to do so for as long as I'm alive. After reading through this book, there's hope for my love of books to continue even after my physical years are through.

Whether your love extended to either books, the paranormal, or both, this book explored many places within Canada and the United States which have plenty to offer patrons. Each library or bookstore received its own section or chapter, filled with details such as the building's history as well as some of the ghostly occurrences that were reported by owners and patrons alike. One difference between this particular book and others like it was the author's inclusion of more recent information. I could tell that the author did a lot of research into the histories of the libraries or the bookstores and included the changes in management or location and whether the store is still operating. Many of the chapters ended with the library or bookstore's present contact information.

I liked how the author gave enough information about the paranormal experiences to spark my curiosity, but not enough that it overwhelmed the history or legacy of the area. The reader can visit these places for themselves with some foreknowledge, but their experiences can still be their own. There seemed to be a more personal, conversational feel to the mini-biographies. While I knew that many of the places mentioned in the book, there were a lot that were surprises. It brought to mind that saying I've heard a number of times about walking in the footsteps of another wherever we go on this earth. Bob's Beach Books in Oregon was one of my favorite stories because it's not necessarily a ghost story, but it's still on the creepy side. Of course, the Willard Library in Indiana was one of the stories that I've known about for years. Each time I see the story, it brings back wonderful memories for me. Odd for a ghost story, of course, but I've had some good times looking into the supernatural.

Overall, I liked this book because it did combine two of my favorite things. I also liked it because I could tell the author put his heart into the work. That made a big difference in the style of writing for me, making it much more than just a collection of dry facts and already known legends or myths. The author's enthusiasm came through in the chapters, especially those in which he personally had visited a place that was mentioned. Pictures of the libraries or bookstores helped to frame the information in reality for me, making it seem as though anything could be possible. I have added quite a few of these places on my list to visit one of these days. If you're a lover of either the supernatural or literary treats, this book is the perfect combination.  

Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries by Mark Leslie is currently available at many online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in either paperback or digital formats including Kindle. The link provided below will bring up the book's page Amazon.
Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries by Mark Leslie

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Herald: The Sundering, Book VI by Ed Greenwood


Release Date: January 1, 2014
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Series: The Sundering, Book VI

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Every scrimmage, every battle had lead to this thrilling conclusion. The fate of both Toril and Abeir came down to the success of Elminster, the Chosen of Mystra, and his few trusted companions. Without Mystra's direct help, they must rely on the Weave, the fabric of magic that she wields that they have been strengthening for years.

Agents of Shadovar pushed forward with their sieges, covering the world in order to usher in Shar's rule. Elminster must find a way to prevent Shar from blanketing the worlds in her shadow weave without losing their world entirely as the Sundering continues. Will he fulfill his duty to his Goddess? Will he lose everything he cares for in the process?

Review:
The thrilling conclusion to the Sundering was made available for request through NetGalley. Of course, I had to request it. I needed to know how the series came to its end after reading the earlier books. While each of the books were written to chronicle the separation of Toril and Faerun froom one another, they were also able to stand on their own. Each book told the journey of a different Chosen or set of Chosen companions as they fulfilled their part of the overall prophecy. 

Book VI centered around the Chosen of Mystra, the Goddess who became the magical fabric known as the Weave. The Weave allowed all the magic users to work their spells and enchantments. Elminster and his consort, Storm, spent the years working to strengthen the Weave and place various wards which would allow the Weave to continue if certain key targets were to fall. They were also instructing the next Chosen of Mystra along the way. It's the close kinship and relationship that created the feeling that this war would be one of sacrifice so that another may live. Each of the character introduced in the book, whether good or evil, faced a point at which they must make a decision. There was a definite distinction between those that were to use the Weave for the good of all in the world of Toril and the Shadovar which would have ruled without mercy.

While some of the other books in this series started off with a bang, this one began slowly, almost methodically in setting up the main characters and the circumstances in which they would soon find themselves. Once the foundation of the story was out of the way, the action kicked in and left little doubt in my mind that this was the deciding battle. Myths, legends, and lore worked with sword, dagger and shield to make their side the winning one. Though there were plenty of lulls in the action or battles, there were many moments where the characters savored life's moments. It was a brilliant balance of peace and war. While the fighting dominated most of the book, the aftermath tied the loose ends of the series together. There's the slightest hint of more to come as some questions were left unanswered and doors open.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book as well as the entire series. Each of the authors taking part in this story arc brought their own favor and flair to their parts of the journey while this book brought everything to a center point. Knowing some of the characters from previous works enhanced my enjoyment. They were friends I hadn't seen in a long time and I enjoyed their visit very much. I cannot wait to see what comes next for Elminster or the other Chosen in the Forgotten Realms worlds. If you're looking for a magic-packed, action adventure with some comedic moments laced throughout, this is the series for you. I'd recommend picking up a copy of this book. Oh, heck. Buy the entire series.

The Herald: The Sundering, Book VI by Ed Greenwood is currently available hardcover, paperback and digital versions including Kindle. The link below will bring up the book's page at Amazon.
The Herald: The Sundering, Book VI

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Currently Reading

My excitement is growing! We're two weeks into October, but it seems like the month is going by fairly fast. I barely had time to savor the first few cool days of the month before we had a warm front. Now the cool days are returning. It doesn't feel the same as the leaves haven't begun to change color on our street yet. Once the leaves change, that's when it truly feels like fall around these parts.

I know, I'm a bad writer. I haven't been working too much on the writing part of the job description. During the first half of the year, I ran into a bad case of writer's block and then everything shut down when I had a fall which put me out of commission in a lot of areas. Yet NaNoWriMo is coming up very soon, and I find myself getting excited to write again. I hope I can push this dull feeling away long enough to "win" this year.  


Hello from the top of the TBR list!
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries by Mark Leslie



Goodbye and good luck to these books;
The Herald: The Sundering, Book VI by Ed Greenwood
The Younger Gods (Younger Gods #1) by Michael R. Underwood


I feel like I'm forgetting something.  Oh, yeah! Contest winners! Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by my blog here. Whether you entered or simply read the various reviews, I'm grateful. Without further ado, here are the winners which were chosen at random.

Peter Hansen
H.C. Newton

Please send me an email by Friday, Oct. 17th, with your own email information so that I may send it to the publisher for delivery.

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Younger Gods (Younger Gods #1) by Michael R. Underwood


Release Date: October 13, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Star
Series: The Younger Gods series, Book 1

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Jacob Greene was born and raised within the confines of a loving, religious family in Minnesota. Homeschooled in both formal and religious education, he did as his family needed him to do. His main job was to collect supplies for the family from a nearby store. All was well in his world until the night he brought home a friend to meet his family. The awful truth that had been his entire life lay before him.

Disgusted by his family and fleeing far from its reach, he settled into life as a college student in New York. He worked to forget and free himself from the terrors of his cultist family only to discover that not all his ties had been severed with his departure. Someone followed him to the Big Apple with intentions of fulfilling a long-held prophecy to bring about the end of the world. Only Jacob knew how strong this person was and sought out allies to help. Will they be able to stop the prophecy from unfolding? Can Jacob come to terms with his past in order to save the future?

Review:
I first found this title while browsing through the offerings at NetGalley. After having requested it for review, I received an invitation from the publisher to read and review this title. It's a wondrous thing when great minds think alike. The whole premise of the story grabbed my attention. Many books were written on the basis of the world ending due to some group wanting to have dominion. However, I can't think of very many which feature the outcast of a cult trying to prevent the end of the world for the good of humanity.

The story was told from Jacob's perspective, using his peculiar way of thinking and talking that was beaten into him as a child. Younger than nearly everyone at his college, he had trouble finding common ground with anyone who crossed his path. This included his roommate who was Jacob's polar opposite in nearly every respect. Since the story was set in New York, a variety of races, religions and dialects came into play during the journey that took the characters through each of the city's five boroughs. It can be difficult to keep the different personalities of the characters from blending as the story progresses, but I felt the author did a great job keeping each one of them distinct from the other. I also enjoyed the various reactions to Jacob as he revealed his lack of knowledge in the area of popular culture. In this day and age, not knowing about television or celebrities is nearly a sin unto itself.

For me the beginning of the book was a little slow. It took some time for me to be accustomed to Jacob's way of speaking and thinking. Once I was used to him and the events of the story began to push the action to the forefront, the pace quickened and remained steady until the next discovery or battle took place. A lot of legend, myth and lore that the cult and other practitioners of magic within the city believe were woven through the story. Included were bits of information about the gems, tools and books used in the preparations and battles between the forces of good and evil. I liked the way the author wove that information into the story so as to not overwhelm the reader with everything at once. Some of it was a little unbelievable with today's way of thinking, but worked exceptionally well within the confines of the book.

Having a really good start to the series, I can see much more happening in the books to come that will not only expand the roles of the key characters, but those of the civilians as well. There's definitely more to this prophecy than we readers know. I enjoyed this book, even coming to enjoy the awkwardness that Jacob's personality creates in social environments. His sister, well, she can get what's coming her way as far as I'm concerned. I'm curious to know more about these hidden guardians that protect us from the unseen. If you enjoy the supernatural realm with a hint of possibility or are a regular lover of books just to the left of center, then this book (and series) will be perfect for you.

The Younger Gods (Younger Gods #1) by Michael R. Underwood is currently available at many online and soon to be at your local retailers. It can be purchased in digital formats including Kindle. The click provided below will bring up the book's Amazon page.
The Younger Gods (Younger Gods #1) by Michael R. Underwood

Friday, October 10, 2014

Essence of Betrayal by Damien L. Malcolm


Release Date: August 24, 2014
Publisher: Damien L. Malcolm

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
When Allison Becker went missing, an entire town searched for her, including Jack Mullens. Handyman by day and secret P.I. by night, Jack found himself in the midst of the search after a late night phone call dropped the case squarely in his lap. It was from that moment that his entire life shifted.

Between conflicting stories, lies and false leads, Jack soon realized that not everything was what it seemed. He followed each lead and often found himself faced with danger. Not something he couldn't handle himself, but when the lives of his loved ones were on the line, Jack must act quickly to solve the case. Will he find Allison Becker or those responsible for her disappearance before it's too late? Will there be anyone he cared about left to greet him when the dust settles?

Review:
In exchange for an honest and fair review, I received a copy of this book from the author. Previously writing only science fiction novels and stories, this book marked the author's debut in the mystery section of fiction. There was a little apprehension as I began reading the book. A few chapters into the book confirmed my feelings that the book was going to be a good one. In fact, there were many events and characters that made the book enjoyable.

The book was written from the point of view of the main character, Jack Mullens. His thoughts and emotions were front and center throughout the novel. Though he was a bit slow at times, it was evident that he truly cared about the individuals in his inner circle. As the story progressed, the cast of characters increased in number, but I was happy to see that they each had their own personality and way of doing things. It's quite easy to lose that with a large number of secondary characters. Between those who had a hand in the main action like Walter and Sara to those who lent a helping hand when it was needed like Mrs. Johnson, there's a character for nearly everyone. I do have to admit that I have a favorite among the fringe characters. There's a cheeky, older lady who wasn't ashamed to announce what she liked in a man. I could almost see Jack blushing during that exchange. It was just one of the many interesting people in Jack's town.

Action and intrigue drove this story from point to point, whether it's following a lead or finding a place to clear his head. Once the first bombshell was dropped, the pace was quickly set. There weren't a lot of places where I found a lull in the action or plot. In fact, it seemed to me like this was twist after twist. When I thought I had a handle on where the book was going, another bombshell was dropped. Before the ending I didn't know what to think about who was on which side. Even the setting of the book provided a few twists of its own. The dialogue and clues didn't give much away before it was time and made the book enjoyable to read.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and was glad the author contacted me. There were a lot of head-scratching moments that made it a treat to read. The author did a great job of putting subtle clues and major reveals in the story without making it a heavy read. Only small drawback to the novel was the distinct Australian flavor throughout the book including the descriptions of items to the slang used in the dialogue. Let me be clear, it didn't take away from the story as a whole. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, it may be a little difficult to get used to at first, but should ease as the story progress. Nevertheless, it was a great story with tons of "what the heck" type of moments. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone who loves a multi-twisting mystery or an action-packed thrill ride through an Australian town.

Essence of Betrayal by Damien L. Malcolm is currently available at many online retailers in either paperback or digital formats including Kindle. Click the link below to visit the book's Amazon page.
Essence of Betrayal by Damien L. Malcolm

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Currently Reading

This next week will be an exciting one for the readers of CoWA! Why? Because we have a contest for the first in a new series by author, Michael R. Underwood!

So many deadlines coming closer this month has made it a very busy one for me. I like to be busy, but whew! This is the busiest I've been in a while. Not going to keep me from going forward. You all know I'm much too stubborn for that. Story ideas are popping into my head faster than I can log them. I cannot wait for November this year. I will beat that 50k limit in NaNoWriMo!


On top this week are;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
The Herald: The Sundering, Book VI by Ed Greenwood
The Younger Gods (Younger Gods #1) by Michael R. Underwood


Adios, libros!
Essence of Betrayal by Damien L. Malcolm


Contest details time!


Summary

The first in a new series from the author of Geekomancy (pop culture urban fantasy) and Shield and Crocus (New Weird superhero fantasy).

Jacob Greene was a sweet boy raised by a loving, tight-knit family…of cultists. He always obeyed, and was so trusted by them that he was the one they sent out on their monthly supply run (food, medicine, pig fetuses, etc.).

Finding himself betrayed by them, he flees the family’s sequestered compound and enters the true unknown: college in New York City. It’s a very foreign place, the normal world and St. Mark’s University. But Jacob’s looking for a purpose in life, a way to understand people, and a future that breaks from his less-than-perfect past. However, when his estranged sister arrives in town to kick off the apocalypse, Jacob realizes that if he doesn’t gather allies and stop the family’s prophecy of destruction from coming true, nobody else will…



About the Author 

Michael R. Underwood is the author of Geekomancy, Celebromancy, Attack the Geek, Shield and Crocus, and The Younger Gods. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books. He has a BA in Creative Mythology and East Asian Studies, and an MA in Folklore Studies. Mike has been a bookseller, a barista, a game store cashwrap monkey, and an independent publishers’ representative. Mike lives in Baltimore with his fiancĂ©e, an ever-growing library, and a super-team of dinosaur figurines and stuffed animals. He is also a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show. In his rapidly vanishing free time, Mike studies historical martial arts and makes homemade pizza. He blogs at MichaelRUnderwood.com/blog and Tweets @MikeRUnderwood.



*From today until Tuesday (10/14), I will be opening up the comments.
*Leave a comment with the title of your favorite childhood title.
*Winners have a chance to win one of two free ebooks of the featured title - The Younger Gods by Micheal R. Underwood.
*Contest open to US residents only.
*Winners will be chosen at random and announced next Wednesday (10-15).


So, what are you waiting for? Leave those comments!
Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom


Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Random House


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
In the midst of turmoil between WWI and WWII, Eva Acton was dropped off on her father's doorstep after his wife passed away. She soon learned that all the illusions she held about her father were simply those - illusions. Combining her love of literature and her half-sister's acting talents, the girls struck out for Hollywood. It wasn't long before they find themselves on the wrong end of the stick and back to the East Coast.

As the years passed the family's paths diverged and left each in a different part of life as well as the world. Eva did whatever she could to survive in years following WWII when her little area of New York changed with the flood of returning soldiers and immigrants looking for their own better life. Trials and tribulations came in all shapes and sizes, but it's sweetness and kindness of life's moments that made it worth continuing.

Review:
NetGalley had this title for request. I decided to step out of my comfort zone a little and requested the title for review. From the outset of the story, it was evident that this wasn't going to be your usual coming-of-age story set in the time period between the WWI and the end of WWII. Much of the novel followed the lives of Eva Acton and her rag-tag family through the years. When I said her family wasn't the typical family of that generation, I meant it. Her father had two families, keeping Eva's a secret until the moment his first wife passed away. Even after she joined the family, her true identity was kept away from inquests for fear of shaming Iris, her half-sister.

In my opinion Eva was the main character of the book despite the letters from other characters or portions of chapters from another character's point-of-view. She may not have been in the middle of all the events that took place in the book, but they definitely impacted her life. These events had more of an impact on her than those directly involved. For every person that left her, another came along with the love, support, or whatever she needed at that time. The reader was shown what happened to the other characters including Iris, her half-sister; Edgar, her father; Fransisco, make-up artist extraordinaire; and Danny, her one saving grace.

There were lots of descriptions about the time, place and events in this book that brought the era to life for me. The opulence of Hollywood came through the author's words as Iris and Eva struggled to make Iris a movie star. Just as striking was the poverty and hard climb back to middle class that the family endured when they moved to New York in order to start their lives over. As wonderful as those parts were, I felt some of the story was slow moving, although they moved the entirety of the story along. At times the passages seemed a bit disjointed but ultimately came together in the end.

Overall, I liked this story more than I thought I would. There are a number of layers in this story from a girl who struggled to find her true place in a world trying to do the same to the harsh reality of a country frightened by war and spies. I was a little surprised to find so many characters present in the story that would be considered "outsiders" during this particular generation. From being black, Jewish, lesbian, or from German heritage, there were a lot of differences that still managed to bring people together in the end. If you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary or want to read about a girl's unique journey to womanhood and beyond, I would recommend putting this book on your TBR list.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom is currently available online and local bookstores. It can be purchased in either hardcover or digital versions. Clicking the link below will take you to the book's page at Amazon.
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October's Hopes and Dreams

My favorite month has finally arrived! The crispness of the air, longer and cooler nights, and change in foliage makes me smile. It's the time of year when I find my imagination more ready to work than any other time of year. I'm not exactly sure as to why. Maybe it's how the night seems darker than usual. Maybe it's the drop in temperatures that make those nights perfect for snuggling - with a good book, of course. Either way, I'm so very happy to be entering this month with a spirit of anticipation and acceptance to whatever my imagination brings my way.

This month is so crammed full of books, projects and real life events. I'm happy to say that I have a lot of wonderful books from each genre ready to go on the TBR pile. I can't wait to dig in to each and every one of them. My crochet project for the Brown-Brooks Project will be coming to a close toward the end of the month. We're still collecting granny squares until the very end of the month. These squares will then be turned into afghans or lap-blankets for the residents a local nursing home.

And my writing - well, I'm hoping that my muse will be back from vacation soon. I actually miss writing very much. I still find myself with the beginnings of stories or individual scenes written on scraps of paper. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to turn those into anything novel-length as of yet. I've edited the first half of NaNoWriMo2012. There's now an issue where the beginning chapter can't be the first chapter because it throws the story off more than helps. That means there's definitely more to be done in the coming days - if my muse plays nice with me.

This is my October in a nutshell. What do you look forward to the most this time of year? Is it something pumpkin-spiced? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time,
Kay B

Friday, October 3, 2014

Night Shitf: Romantic Comedy by L.L. Fine


Release Date: May 25, 2014
Publisher: Createspace

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Moses had been a part of the hospital staff for over two decades. He'd seen a lot of things and heard much more. Every tidbit was filed away in his memory and allowed him to move quickly, efficiently through the hospital as he worked the dreaded night shift. His nights at work were normally a little crazy, but this one night put all the others to shame.

In the midst of a chaotic ER being manned by a fresh-from-school doctor, Moses found himself a victim of the pickpocket who'd terrorized the hospital for months. Continuous calls to visit the morgue and losing the amputated leg of another patient didn't help his mood either. The series of events lead to an explosive conclusion that made this night in the hospital one that everyone would remember.

Review:
In one of the main lists sent to my from OHFB, I noticed this book and thought the description sounded interesting. Having stayed one too many nights in a eerily quiet hospital while family were being treated, it was a treat to read something on the craziness that went on behind the curtains. Now, I'm not saying that the story within this book was a truthful account. I did suspect that there's a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

The central character of the story was an orderly named Moses. He'd worked for this particular hospital for over two decades and knew all there was to know about the hospital and the people therein. While the book did follow him on this crazy night in the hospital, the author introduced a number of characters that worked within the hospital as well as some patients who had a definite impact on the story. One of the interesting things I noticed in the book were the little illustrations just after the new character was introduced. Not only did it give us an inkling what the person looked like, but the description also gave us the gossip about him or her. It helped to get to know the personalities of the characters a little better.

For me, the flow of the story was a little weird at first. It seemed the story was playing out in real-time at the beginning, but then it slipped into the past to show the timeline of events to the present situation. It would have small sections of action in different parts of the hospital within the same chapter. These were separated by a small notation. I missed those a few times and had to reread the passages in order to figure it out. However, the pacing of the story moved steadily toward the conclusion while building up the laughs and suspense. Once we reach the end of the night, the events rejoined the tale at the beginning and went from that point forward into a hilarious ending. I just feel sorry for that roll-on!

Overall, this was a fairly short but complete book. It did have a number of interesting characters, both working in the facility and those needing the treatment. I was a little upset with one of the characters who seemed to lack any empathy. Now, I don't do spoilers but the woman I'm referring to is very easy to find in the book. I sincerely hope karma pays her a visit! The book had a bit of everything - romance, friendship, adventure and action. If you're looking for a book with an almost never-ending chain of unlucky events or filled with quirky, yet likable characters, then I'd suggest you look at getting this book!

Night Shitf: Romantic Comedy by L.L. Fine is currently available at many online retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It can be purchased in paperback or digital formats. The link below will open the book's Amazon page.
Night Shitf: Romantic Comedy by L.L. Fine

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Currently Reading

And it's October!

My favorite month of the year is now upon us and I'm so happy. I love the way October seems to usher in the shift toward darker nights while giving us a hint of magic that anything may be possible. No, I'm not talking about Halloween. I mean, the whole month seems magical to me. There's something about the way in which night stretches out its arms to keep us closer than the daylight.

This month also signals the countdown to NaNoWriMo. I'm excited to get back in the saddle, so to speak, when it comes to writing. I've gotten so far behind in a number of things and my writing is one of them. I have declared it time to begin anew. So we'll see what happens as we go forth together! In the meantime, these lovely books have gotten my attention. 


Pushing my way through these books;
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Essence of Betrayal by Damien L. Malcolm
The Herald: The Sundering, Book VI by Ed Greenwood


All done with these;
Spear Hunter (Northland Chronicles #2) by Henry J. Olsen
Night Shitf by L.L. Fine 
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom


Later this month I get to celebrate the wedding of a wonderfully good friend of mine. I also get to mark off another month in the time my kiddo has left in his service. Then we'll get to know whether he's coming home for good or if his life has taken a different direction. Seems 2015 may be a year of change. It will be much better than this one. I'm calling it now. Hope you all have a great week!

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, September 29, 2014

Spear Hunter (Northland Chronicles #2) by Henry J. Olsen


Release Date: July 30, 2014
Publisher: Unbound Adventure Press
Series: Northland Chronicles, Book 2

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
More than a decade after the Desolation virus ravaged North America, John Osborne had more questions than answers about his current situation. Keen on finding information one way or another, he set out to Mallard Island in the Minnesota Territory alongside Nathan, a young man with questions of his own.

They soon found others along the trail who weren't so happy to see them. Members of a new militant power scouted the area for new recruits and old possible enemies as well as some unexpected surprises. John must know how he came to be more than human - even if it means facing a trap on the island  he only knew by rumor. With time running out and his health fading fast, will he find the answers waiting for him?

Review:
I was contacted by the author and asked if I would do an honest and fair review of his work. I have to admit that I hadn't heard of the Northland Chronicles before the release of this book, which is the second in the series. Because of that fact, I was a little apprehensive to read the books out of order. As I began to read, it became clear that the novel would do well as both part of the series and a stand-alone novel. There's enough background information throughout the novel that made me curious enough to check out the first book without dumping a huge amount on me all at once.

The central focus of the book appeared to be centered on John Osborne and his quest for answers about his arm. He wasn't alone in his quest as both friend and foe were interested. On the friend side of things, John enlisted the help of Nathan, a young man who had needed help finding loved ones in the previous tale and who was also pretty book smart. The complex network of villainous characters was also revealed as I turned the pages. The secret militant force and its general were determined to grab hold of as much of the world as it could now that no one was around to stop them. Each of the characters had their own distinct personalities and I was glad to see a variety of dialect, race and intelligence come together as well as it did.

There were a few surprises along the way that added more to the world the author shaped in the first book. Without giving any spoilers, you will have to read until the end of the book to see what happened to the various characters. Each of them has a sort of resolution to their journey in the book. The pacing of the story was steady from the beginning. Action scenes kept the story moving while the dialogue helped the movement without revealing too much of the plot. With well-fleshed out characters, intriguing history about the area and beautiful land descriptions, it was easy for me to keep turning the pages.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It was a bit creepy to think that what happened in the book really wasn't too far removed from the realm of possibility. I think that's what made it so interesting for me. Without reading the first one, I was able to gleam some of the events without feeling overwhelmed or distracted from the current story. There was an ever-present feeling that something much larger was at play in the former state of Minnesota. Not only would it impact the remaining lives there, but the world. I'm now curious to know whether the answers will be found in the next book because of the unanswered questions left in this one. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a bit of dystopia mixed with sci-fi and a dash of adventure.

Spear Hunter (Northland Chronicles #2) by Henry J. Olsen is currently available at many online retailers and can be purchased in digital formats including Kindle. Clicking the link below will take you to the book's Amazon page.
Spear Hunter (Northland Chronicles #2) by Henry J. Olsen

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Currently Reading

So glad the past seven days are done. It's been a stressful time here, to say the least. I'm grateful for the chance to work through the next seven days, but I sure could have used a pause button in the past week. Between the news of an unexpected death in the family and health issues, I've been set back once again in my quests for 2014. I will not be denied! I will either get these crossed off my to-do list or come really close. That's what I keep telling myself.

As we near the end of September, my thoughts are already turning toward November. No, I'm not going to be putting up Christmas decorations early. I love Halloween too much to skip it. I'm excited for the chance to join thousands, if not millions, of others in another NaNoWriMo! If you're not familiar with this yearly event, it's essentially a huge write-along in which people try to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Check out www.nanowrimo.org for more details.


Hello there, books at the top of the list!
The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents (Children of Sophista #1) by Rusty Biesele
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Spear Hunter (Northland Chronicles #2) by Henry J. Olsen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry


Goodbye, finished books.
If Only I Could Sleep: A Survivor's Memoir by Stephanie Henry


The end of the year is often a bittersweet mix for me. I love the holidays, but they remind me of those I've lost. I'm trying to stay positive this year. Time to focus on goals - completing my crochet projects, finish revising my novel and get closer to my reading goal for the year. What's your goals for the year?

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, September 22, 2014

If Only I Could Sleep: A Survivor's Memoir by Stephanie Henry


Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Emerald Book Company

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.


Synopsis:
Stephanie Henry was born into the world as a child who was always searching for something to make her feel complete. After a series of nightmares layered trauma upon trauma, she took what little control she had and forced herself to survive. She made a promise to herself that she would be a better mother to her future children than the parenting she received during her younger years.

But as the tragedies and traumas piled up, Stephanie began to lose faith in herself. Slowly her power slipped away from her and cost her the one thing she swore she'd never lose - her daughter. With grit and determination, she fought back at the demons and monsters that were reluctant to release their hold on her until she was able to finally stand on her own. Writing her story to give a voice to the voiceless, Stephanie Henry has shown that one cannot outrun his or her past. How you deal with it shapes your future.

Review:
I found this book at NetGalley while looking through the Non-Fiction section. Ever curious about the lives of other people, I submitted my request to read and review the title. I knew from the book's description that the book would cover subject matter some might find triggering. To those of my readers who need to turn away, please do so. The book covers a wide range of topics that the author encountered during her younger years including molestation, rape, abuse, neglect and the consequences of her own bad choices as an adult.

Because this book was a memoir, the main character centered around the author herself. As she recounted the memories of her early years, it was apparent that she grew up in a time that was much different than we know today. It's easy to forget that it wasn't so long ago that things like computers and cellphones weren't common. Children were raised in a different fashion than they are today. Subjects that are no longer as taboo such as mental illness and addiction were not openly discussed during the time in which the author was a young child or a young adult. That doesn't excuse the crimes done to the child, but it helped to explain the environment in which such activity was overlooked or outright ignored. No doubt that this type of environment played a huge part in the downward spiral the author experienced in her later years.

The book wasn't very graphic when it came to the traumas inflicted upon her. That helped to keep the focus on the author's survival and recovery from the circumstances instead of shining a spotlight on the monsters that inhabited her life. It also allowed the book to flow from one period of her life to the next. I found the pace of the book to be fairly steady from the beginning until it began to near the end. There was a bit of repetition in some areas that had me skipping ahead a bit. Overall, the message of the book wasn't simply one thing, but several including survival, hope, redemption and acceptance.

I did enjoy this book because the author was refreshingly honest within its pages. She held nothing back when writing about her own bad choices and the thought-process, or lack thereof, when making those choices. I have to give her a lot of respect for putting everything out on the table, good or bad. Her stance and work as a missionary and voice to those who cannot speak out for themselves is admirable. I wish her all the best in her future work. This book should be on your TBR list if you are a lover of nonfiction or simply like to read stories about real people overcoming real obstacles and making the world their own.

If Only I Could Sleep: A Survivor's Memoir by Stephanie Henry is currently available at mainly online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in either hardcover or Kindle formats. Clicking the link below will take you to the book's Amazon page.
If Only I Could Sleep: A Survivor's Memoir by Stephanie Henry