Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Yes, I was gone a very long time. My personal life decided to take a turn for the worse, both in health and financial aspects. I was unable to spend as much time with my lovely books as I wanted. While everything that took my attention hasn't been completely resolved, I am finding more and more time to sneak in a page or two. That's gave me hope when I needed it most.

While I won't have a top 10 list for the books read in 2015, I am going to begin posting reviews once again after the first of the year. I've missed the authors, the books and connecting to others so much! Here's to holding onto hope and stuffing those words in my brain!

So with that being said, please have a safe and happy holiday season. Lots of love, laughter and smiles to each and every single one of you. Looking forward to seeing you all in the new year!

Until next time,
KayB

Monday, November 23, 2015

Personal Update

I can't remember anyone making me a promise that life was easy. Instead the past year has been full of twists and turns that the best mystery novel couldn't have predicted for me. Due to the seriousness of the situations in my personal life, I made the most difficult decision to date. I have to put this blog on hold until the beginning of the new year.

Definitely not something I wanted or anticipated, but necessity trumped whatever reason I offered. Between traveling miles to doctor appointments or spending  hours deciphering and filling out paperwork, I've had little to no time to spend with my beloved words. I'm so far behind in my reviews that I'll have a good head start on the year. There still a ton of books on my Kindle to read, so I'm not giving up completely.

Thank you for your patience and the continued support. To know that someone's out there, checking on me from time to time, means a great deal. I wish I could say that it will be a simple over and done with type of deal, but it's not. Life isn't meant to be that way.

May you have a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving holiday.
Until next time,
Kay B

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October's Hopes and Dreams

I know. It's been extremely quiet around these parts. Real life crept into my reading worlds and took over for more than I anticipated. My family and I have been fighting against red tape, anxiety and illnesses. The result was (and to a point, still is) more exhaustion than I can remember experiencing. My only saving grace during this rough time was the few hours that I was able to read a few pages here and there.

All the books I've lined up are still awaiting my attention. It's been slow going, but I've managed to knock a few off of the TBR list. My confession is that for the few books I've read, I've added two more in its place on the list. I can't stop myself sometimes. There are so many books out there, waiting to be devoured. More and more are released every day. Though I know that it's impractical and probably impossible for me to read every book in circulation, I want to get as many read as I can before my time is done. I am hoping that this period of tribulation will be finished soon and a time of rest begins before the next one.

I'm in the process of writing up my posts for the books I've finished. I hope to have a stockpile to release on schedule during NaNoWriMo next month. I fully intend on giving NaNoWriMo my full attention during those 30 days of November. I do have a story/novel idea, made some notes about the scene that appeared in my head, and did a little bit of research. While some get a start on their novels or rework their previous works during NaNo, I use it to get a large portion of my novels written. Reworking can come later. Are any of you planning to do NaNoWriMo this year?

Okay, catch-up time over. Back to reading and getting reviews ready for your enjoyment. Hope you all have a great October and a safe, fun Halloween!

Until next time,
Kay B

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Currently Reading

I'm really at the point where this year isn't the year for reading and reviewing. It hasn't been the best year for my writing either. So many real life issues popped up in extreme ways that I haven't even cracked a book in almost a week. I'm trying to make the best of four months left in the year. We'll see how close I can get to that 100 book goal.

Many thanks to all those who have reached out with encouragement and kind words. I really appreciate them. Those messages keep me going even when I think there's no point. Though I do most of my reading and reviewing out of love -okay, addiction - to books, I treasure the many authors who have reached out to me.


The books I'm working my way through this week are:
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Alive (The Generations Trilogy #1) by Scott Sigler
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
Stormbringer: Book 2 of the Wyrd (The Wyrd #2) by Alis Franklin
The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist #1) by Rick Yancey


Books that I've finished this past week include:
Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert
Dark Hope (The Archangel Prophecies #1) by Monica McGurk
Dark Rising (The Archangel Prophecies #2) by Monica McGurk


Now that Fall has arrived, maybe snuggling with a book or two will boost my spirits more than ever. A cup of hot chocolate, marshmellows and wonderful books. Yay!

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, September 21, 2015

Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Group/NAL
Author Website:

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Sloane possessed the perfect life. She lived in a great neighborhood, married to a successful husband and had a beautiful daughter. However, she felt something missing after the passing of her sister that nothing seemed to fill. Needing time away to think, she and Hillary, her best friend, took the offer to stay a few weeks at Lake George where Sloane's aunt kept a house.

When Sloane's oldest and closest friend from college invited herself along for the vacation, old wounds and new hurts came out. These left the women broken from the weight of their own secrets and seeking healing comfort from whatever source they could find. Would these three women be able to pick up the pieces of their lives? Would others pay the price for their decisions?


Review:
I tend to search through NetGalley's offerings whenever I can't sleep at night.  That was how I found the latest offering by the author. Something about the premise of women not happy with having the security that most crave tugged at my mind. When I read the first chapter, I related with Sloane's quest to fill the gaping hole that recent events created in her life. Not because I have a beautiful daughter or a great husband ready to do anything I asked, but because the sting of losing someone closest to me turned my own life upside down.

Most of the book centered around Sloane and her two best friends, Hillary and Georgina. Each women carried the weight of a secret on their shoulders as they joined together for two weeks at a beautiful vacation home in St. George. Interestingly enough, both Hillary and Georgina embodied the attributes that Sloane desired most. Hillary was calm, rational and provided guidance whenever the events of the book spiraled out of Sloane's control. On the other hand, Georgina was carefree, wild and ambitious - everything that Sloane thought was missing in her life. As the story went on, the women found that their similarities tied them together much more than their differences. The author didn't let the women hog the spotlight. The men in their lives also spent part of the time coming to terms with their own issues and inadequacies while the women were at the vacation home. This introspection on the men's part helped give the book a balanced feel.

There was a smooth buildup in the book's pacing, easing me into the middle of Sloane's life. By setting the book in modern times, the author created a seamless transition from the reader's reality to the that of the Sloane and her friends. Using the natural settings of the shoreline, rocky alcoves, and lush green areas also brought the story to life and added a sense of calm though much of the women's lives fell apart. As the secrets bubbled to the surface, they became characters themselves and drove the story forward until the women were forced to deal with the secrets or run. What the women couldn't outrun were the consequences of their secrets and their choices. Whether they came clean or chose to harbor the secrets longer, the payment for that choice was clearly laid out for them.

Overall, I liked this story because it was easy to put myself into Sloane's, Hillary's or even Georgina's shoes and carry their respective secrets. While I can't imagine making the same choices, I could understand why the women did with the way the author structured the timing of the book. The contrast between the perceived reality of Sloane's perfect world and the true reality of her crumbling world view drove home the point that a person can never really know another person simply by looking in from the outside. People are truly complex creatures that always find a way to surprise a reader by doing the opposite of rational thinking when emotions and beliefs are put into play as well. This book should definitely be on your TBR if you're looking for an examination of friendship, love and relationship or simply love a great story about longing in all its forms.

Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert is currently available in either paperback or digital (Kindle) forms at several online retailers. The following link provides the book's Amazon page for purchase.
Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert


Monday, September 14, 2015

Dark Hope (The Archangel Prophecies #1) by Monica McGurk

Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Series: The Archangel Prophecies, Book 1
Author Website:

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
After living with her overprotective, religious father since her parents' separation, Hope thought living with her mother might just be the thing she needed. She was more prepared than the average teen to live with the long absences her mother's job demanded. That was until she was blindsided by Michael, a good-looking, well-talking guy who gave her more attention than she knew how to handle. He became a shield against the guys tormenting her on the bus and throughout her school day.

Once assigned to pair up with another student for a paper, Hope's life turned upside down as secrets about her past surfaced to impact her present. She and Michael set out on a journey to discover the answers before time ran out. Putting their lives on the line to fight prophecy and mankind's own type of evil, they traveled across country on the promise of answer. Can she keep herself safe as she followed her heart? Will they be able to save the world without killing themselves?

Review:
One of my favorite things about NetGalley has always been the emails they send to entice you to read something outside your usual genres. This book, as well as the sequel, were available for reading. These books intrigued me by their delving into the fallen angel theories. I anticipated the teenage hormones and angst that came with the setting of a high school, but was a little surprised to find Hope more mature in some ways and really naive in others due to her upbringing.

The very beginning of the book laid the groundwork for her past - a victim of a child abduction found safe inside a hotel room as the abductor was found dead within the bathroom. The only reminder was a tattoo on her back, near her neck. From that moment her parents took two different paths. Her father went overboard to keep her safe from further harm, going so far as to quit his job and research any and all friends. Hope's mother wanted her to have a normal childhood, unmarred by the abduction. When they couldn't find common ground, they separated. Hope lived a fairly isolated life with her father due to the long work engagements that her mother's job demanded. There weren't very many people in her life, so these characters became distinct, reacting in different ways to the events of the story. Other characters appeared toward the end of the story, impacting the book in slightly-anticipated manner. Still, I found most of the characters held their own as the action moved toward that ending. Hope and Michael's characters began to blend somewhat near the end, but I do think that was in response to some of the events and my remembering that she was a teenager unaccustomed to life as an average teen.

I found the book contained something for everyone - romance, action, hormones, prophecy and angst to spare. However, that wasn't all there was to the book. The author used both Hope's abduction and one of her classes to open the discussion about human trafficking and how widespread the issue grew to include men, women and children here in the United States. While the voices on behalf of these victims grew louder over the past decade, there remained more work to be done in order to help those trapped in some very serious situations. I could tell how passionate the author was about the subject by the way Hope devoured whatever information she found and stood resolute in helping one victim regain her freedom. A portion of the proceeds from the author's book sales goes to helping end human trafficking and the victims left behind.

While I enjoyed a good portion of the book, I did find one aspect of the story more disturbing than entertaining. There were many layers within this story as the author combined theology, prophecy and real life issues to create a world where one teen girl might make a difference. Her rich descriptions of places and people helped Hope's world to come alive and to deliver the emotional roller coaster expected in today's YA books. Despite many good things, I found the relationship between Hope and Michael to be on an abusive collision course. To be honest, I felt disheartened when I reached that point in the book, because I'd enjoyed the story until then. Reading the rest of the book, I understood why some actions were taken, given their situations, but overall, it left me feeling really mixed about the book. I was glad that one character picked up on the same feeling. I'm interested to see how the sequel deals with all the groundwork that's been laid. If you enjoy your YA with a hint of darkness, prophecy and what-the-heck action sequences, then I would recommend this book for your TBR list.

Dark Hope (The Archangel Prophecies #1) by Monica McGurk is currently available at several online retailers including Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon. It can be found in paperback or digital (Kindle) formats. The link provided below is for the book's Amazon page.
Dark Hope (The Archangel Prophecies #1) by Monica McGurk



Friday, September 11, 2015

#NeverForget

Today is the anniversary of a very dark day in our nation's history. With that in mind, I will not be posting a review. I'm going to be spending time with those I love and cherish today.

Reviews will resume on Monday.


Please never forget those who've been lost.

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, September 7, 2015

Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Kraus

Release Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Series: Trollhunters series, Book 1
Author Website:  , http://deltorofilms.com/

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
The innocence of childhood was ripped away from the town of San Bernardino, California as more children disappeared during the lazy, summer days of the 1960s. Jack and Jim Sturges spent Jack's birthday playing their favorite games up to the moment that Jack vanished and Jim's world shifted forever. That moment defined life for the Sturges family.

Now decades later, Jim Sturges Jr dealt with the paranoia and aftermath of his uncle's disappearance with the nonchalance his teenage years allowed. When a series of weird events raised questions about the history of his family, Jim Jr found a group of people who had some answers. But these weren't the ones he thought he'd get. Can Jim Jr set things right within the time given?  Or will everything be changed forever?


Review:
NetGalley sent me an email alert to let me know that this book was available for reading and reviewing. I was excited for a couple reasons. First, I love being part of the start of a new series for many genres. The excitement about a new world and the uncertainty of how the story played out were always at the top of my list with books in a new series. Second, I didn't know that Guillermo del Toro and co-authors wrote different series of books. I know that I'm behind in that knowledge, but I made up for it slightly by diving into the realm of San Bernardino and the Sturges family.

From the very beginning of the book, the authors made it clear there were at least two types of beings sharing one world. Of course, they weren't sharing very well since one species constantly snatched and ate the other! The human world was largely ignorant of the Trolls. This ignorance lasted until an abundance of child abductions forced the town to become hyper-vigilant. Yet, even with all the curfews and layers of security, Jack Sturges disappeared while playing with his younger brother, Jim. Thus began Jim Sturges' lifelong ambition to seek out the other world in the shadows, find the monsters who tore his family apart, and destroy them. His son, Jim Jr., wasn't keen on carrying on his father's work until the day he saw the trolls himself for the first time.

Because the book fell into the children/YA categories, I kept in mind that many of the over-the-top descriptions and outrageous characters would capture the younger reader's attention.  They would be able to identify with Jim Jr. and the other teen characters due to the authors' use of modern technology and situations that kids find themselves - dealing with bullies, school, and worrying over parents or girl/boyfriends. Now, a couple of characters were exaggerated a little too much for me to like them, but I felt they'd be a good draw for the young readers. The trolls weren't the cute, little ones we've all seen in cartoons or the old dolls from the 1990s. These were mean, nasty and gross creatures who wanted nothing more than to chomp a good kid or two for dinner!

I thought the book's pace was steady and revealed a decent amount of information as action propelled the story forward. Not a lot of scenes were filled with gross descriptions, but I loved how the authors really created the world of the trolls by exploring what their homes might have looked like and how the trolls family dynamics would be. Overall, the story entertained me, pulling me from the real world and into one where the imagination can run rampant. If you love reading books that push your creativity or enjoy something otherworldly with a hint of ickiness, then you really should try this book! Kids should too!

Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus is currently available for purchase at several online retailers and bookstores. The book can be bought in hardcover, paperback, audio-book and digital (Kindle) formats. Below is a link to the book's page at Amazon.
Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Kraus


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Currently Reading

And now we entered September, the realm of cooler temperatures and Friday football games! In this area there is a great rivalry between two high schools. Their first meeting on the football field ended with my old school winning. Now the heat is on for the next time they meet. These hometown clashes bring the community together even as the people stood on different sidelines. It's a weird thing to see, but watching how people react can inspire stories or novels. Every human interaction is fodder for the author's pen.

I'm still more behind on my TBR list than I'd like to be at this moment in time. I do feel happy that I'm making progress instead of staying stagnate. Alongside the pages I've devoured, I've also picked up a few hundred words on something that's not NaNo2012. I feel bad for that poor novel of mine, but I reached a point where I can't figure out what's going to happen next without forcing the story into a mold. That might ruin the story. I don't want to take the chance that I'll ruin everything I've worked so hard to achieve with the novel.


So far, I'm reading;
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert
Dark Hope by Monica McGurk


Book(s) Finished:
The Sacred Flame: A Novel by Nanette Littlestone


With the cooler temperatures, I find myself snuggling on the couch with a blanket and printed books more than using my Kindle. Is this the time of year when your reading picks up? Or do you still pick up the books whenever, wherever you can?

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Sacred Flame: A Novel by Nanette Littlestone

Release Date: October 22, 2015
Publisher: Words of Passion
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
In Ancient Rome, the Vestal Virgins were seen as the harbingers of safety for all of the city. They maintained the Sacred Fire which could be seen by any Roman should he or she look its way, attended several important rituals during the year, and above all, provided Rome with the feeling that all was well. Livia, a Vestal Virgin, worked closely with the High Priestess for nearly thirty years, but was soon thrust into the leadership role as the High Priestess collapsed.

Even as she doubted her ability to lead the Vestals, Livia must confront her own growing desire to leave the world she'd known behind for one with her dearest friend, Keaseo. All seemed according to plan until the flame of desire for another took her attention away from her plans. Now Livia's entire world was thrust into turmoil as she fought to maintain control. Can she give up what she wants the most in order to keep Rome safe from Hannibal's clutches? Or will Rome fall with her?


Review:
I was presented the opportunity to read and give an honest review by the author through email. I really liked the cover when I opened the package. The thumbnail used in promotions didn't do the actually cover justice. It was another reason I was intrigued enough to read a story that wasn't my usual genre. Add to that my fascination with history and ancient cultures, I couldn't wait to start reading it. The author opened the book with a casual party setting where I found the characters were at ease with their places in the world. By end of the first chapter, that world was turned upside down in more ways than one.

Livia became the focus, not only of the book, but within the scope of Rome as the High Priestess of the Vestal Virgins. These women played an important role in making the citizens of the city and empire feel safe as they tended to an everlasting fire. It was up to them to also take part in various festivities and rituals during the year to ensure order within the city was maintained. The many castes of people were also explored in the book as well. From wealthy politicians to the lower classes which only carried one name, the author created a character from all walks of life that showed how divided that world was at the time and  how people from so long ago weren't so different from us today.  They squabbled over petty things, got jealous, and tried so hard to obtain the one thing they desired most. It was easy to put myself into those places throughout the story, especially through Livia.

While much of the book centered around Livia and her struggles, the author also included a bit of Roman history as well as their names for items or places. I loved learning the Roman names for things like the carriages or the different Roman baths that were available. The author slipped these in without making the reader aware that they learned something new. With a great pace set in the beginning of the novel, the characters became embroiled in the consequences of their actions or decisions quickly. Those consequences weren't always nice to endure, but I felt that some were necessary in order for the story to be told in a way that would have been true at the time. Humanity in all its forms, both good and bad, were put on display within the pages.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. To be honest, I didn't expect the ending at all. While I do think the ending served a greater purpose, I was definitely surprised at how everything played out. The story had so many layers, bits of action, and moments of romance that it was difficult to put it down. The ending did leave me with questions about the secondary characters, so I'm secretly hoping to hear that more will be coming down the line. If you enjoy historical romances or love exploring other cultures brought to life by a writer's hand, then definitely pick up a copy of this book!

The Sacred Flame: A Novel by Nanette Littlestone will be available for purchase on October 22, 2015. You can find more information about the novel by visiting the author's website ( ) where you can read an excerpt of the novel.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill

Release Date: August 17, 2012
Publisher: Createspace, Inc.
Author Website: http://www.dna-testing-adviser.com/

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
When Richard Hill discovered he'd been adopted, it was an accidental slip by an outsider that started his mind wondering about his roots and biological family. When he began his research, there was no internet to aid his search with the click of a button. Being adopted in Michigan also meant that his true identity and biological information was harder to obtain through the usual channels.

As he began to find bits and pieces to his life's puzzle, he also found people who helped him discover more than he could imagine about his roots. Richard discovered much of the truth about his biological parents, but also found more than one man in a particular family could be his father. With humor and dedication he continued to work through the puzzle until all the pieces fit. This book was his journey to the truth.


Review:
Scrolling through the Nonfiction section at NetGalley, I saw the title of this book and it grabbed my attention. I was curious about the author's journey in finding his truths because I too wondered about my own ancestors. While my own discoveries were interesting, the author's road was a lot bumpier and filled with many twists and turns. Finding one's roots was more difficult in decades prior than today. Sites like Ancestry and Familysearch didn't exist, leaving millions of people in the dark about their ancestors. Many state laws concerning adoption created more hurdles for researchers like the author.

Using a mixture of honesty and comedy, the author related the discovery of his own adoption before high school graduation. Though the admission created thousands of questions in his mind, he respected his adoptive parents' decision not to tell him and explained the reasons why within the memoir. Many family members, biological or not, appeared throughout the book and directed the author's search with their revelations. Sometimes he found out a name or a place. Not every tidbit of information brought the right answers, but they helped to shape the picture of his ancestry. Finding his mother's side of the family wasn't very difficult once he began to look. She stayed with his adopted parents while she was pregnant. Getting the answers to his father's identity was a longer, more difficult journey.

Before the onset of the internet, the only way to find out genealogical information was to contact the county clerks in the city or county and fill out petitions, in person or through the mail, for birth certificates, death certificates or other such public information. These petitions often required some proof of relationship in order to be approved. An adoptee looking for such information would have to go above and beyond for such petitions to be granted. Wait times could be anywhere from a few days to months before an answer came in the mail. The author struggled with rejections on several occasions along the way. Once more and more information became available online, the author was able to find more connections at a better pace. Through the DNA testing offered at Ancestry's website, he narrowed down the number of men who could be his father. Of course, that answer also proved to be tricky until advanced DNA testing came out years later.

Throughout the entire story and all its ups and downs, I felt as though I was walking alongside the author. Each discovery, no matter good or bad, brought hope that he would get the answers he longed to know from the moment he knew of his adoption. The author's writing style made it very easy to feel like I knew him for years, and all the people he had contact with became my friends as well. I really liked how he stayed positive and held onto the hope of answers during the darkest moments. It was an eye-opener to realize that not every adoptee's story could end so well. That made me sad, because I feel like everyone should know their roots. Not only was the memoir an enjoyable read, the author used his work to help others in the same situation by providing a section of links and agencies that will help people with their own searches. So, if you're a lover of nonfiction memoirs tinged with comedy or a fellow searcher of roots, this book will make you smile, laugh and sometimes cry, but definitely worth the read.

Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill is now available online at various retailers in either digital (Kindle) or paperback formats. Below is the book's page at Amazon for your buying convenience.
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA: by Richard Hill

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Currently Reading

 Several questions still surround my family's future, but for now, we have done all we can. The best thing I can do is focus on the items requiring my attention now. Thankfully, that includes my reading awesome books, finishing edits on my works, and making a few more items for my crochet projects. Having these little goals to finish each day or week has helped my anxiety level a lot more than I give them credit for doing.

So far this week I have moved a few more pages into the edited pile. Poor NaNo2012 has missed all the attention. I'm unsure exactly where I was going in some scenes because I'm no longer in the moment with the story. However, going back over it after some time away allowed me to see some plot holes that I didn't catch at the time. Maybe it's not such a big thing to hide my work away for a while and then come back.


This week's books include:
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
The Sacred Flame: A Novel by Nanette Littlestone
Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert
Dark Hope by Monica McGurk


I've been able to finish:
Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Kraus
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen


Most of the week will be spent catching up on the rest of the books I was supposed to have finished by now. I'm looking forward to spending time with some really interested titles. What's your plans now that most schools have started? Extra reading or extra snoozing?

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
With two young boys weighing on her mind, Ronnie Farnham fought to keep her marriage together despite how bad things continued to get. She reached her breaking point when his downward spiral began impacting the children, and forced her husband, Jeff, to pick a day to move out of the family home. Her anxiety grew as the day arrived. What she didn't expect was for Jeff to barricade himself inside their barn with a shotgun.

For 12 nerve-wracking hours the community of their small town waited for a resolution. The police secreted Ronnie, her two boys and her mother away as they surrounded the barn in order to talk Jeff from the barn without harming himself. As they waited, Jeff's mother arrived and joined the women in their vigil. Can the women come together as secrets unveil themselves? Will the police be able to bring Jeff out safely?


Review:
After reading the author's previous book, I was excited to receive an invitation to read this book through NetGalley. Events in the characters' lives took place within a twelve hour period of time, beginning with Ronnie waking and getting the kids ready for school until the final chapter. As each hour passed, the story became more complex and the characters delved deeper into their own fears and relationships. I found it very interesting when the pressure began to weigh heavily on each woman the longer the standoff continued. No matter the various differences, they were all mothers who had children that she wanted to protect from bad things the world would bring to their doorsteps.

Ronnie was the typical middle-aged woman who wanted nothing more than to be successful, married and to complete the picture with a few kids. She rediscovered a connection to Jeff when she went out on the town with her mother. Seeing an older man fall for a younger woman wasn't out of the ordinary, but the subtle ways Jeff would shift Ronnie into their own little world made the story more than an ordinary tale. The author made sure each of the characters were well-rounded and had their own set of flaws. These made them all easy to relate to - including Jeff. Not only did the author present how the characters viewed themselves, but as the story went along, each character was given a chance to know how others saw them as well.

The book opened with a typical setting and ordinary things to do. All that made the beginning chapter a little slow for me. However, the pace picked up by the next few chapters and kept steadily revealing things that hadn't been said for years. Hour by hour fears, feelings, and accusations created walls of anxiety and hurt between Ronnie, her mother and Jeff's mother. Even as their concern for Jeff and the two little ones swirled around them, they had to find a way through all the muck in order to come together. Now, what I didn't expect was the author shining such a light on Jeff's depression, how it drove him to do and say things that he might not have otherwise, and how easily he sunk to a point where there seemed to be only one way out of his particular situation.

Overall, the book quickly became one that I couldn't put down. The author didn't create a world for me to settle in while I read what the characters said or did. She used the world around us and slipped these characters inside everyday situations instead. After I finished reading the book, I discovered that portions of this book were inspired by the author's own real life experience with a standoff involving her husband at the time. It was no wonder that she could bring so many emotions and accusations to life. I have to admit that my own emotions got away from me a time or two (okay, many times). This book is on my to-buy list. If you're looking for an interesting examination of family dynamics or a peek into the darkness of depression, this book is one you need to consider.

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft is currently available at several online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in a variety of formats including paperback, audio-book and digital (Kindle) from the book's Amazon link below.
The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Currently Reading

Whew! I'm glad to be back in the reading seat. I've definitely missed my word-filled friends, but real life hasn't released me from its clutches completely. My need to read is growing and filling me with hope that everything will return to a bit of normality at some point. Until that moment arrives, I'll strap in and ride this roller coaster life's built for me.

The other good news is that I've begun to write once again as well. Plenty of story ideas traipsed around this brain of mine. I've tucked them away in the ever-growing folder until I finish working on another novel and few short stories that I began near the beginning of this year. Well, they'll stay there unless they pester me enough to break my self-imposed rule to finish what I start.


Yep, this week I am all about finishing:
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
The Sacred Flame: A Novel by Nanette Littlestone
Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Kraus


I've finished the following:
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill


Have you all had a wonderful summer so far? I thought for sure I'd be able to get more books read. What are some of the books that captivated you this summer?

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, August 17, 2015

Someone I Used to Know by David J. Bell

Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: NAL/Penguin
Author Website:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Nick Hansen's live was never the same after the loss of his college sweetheart in a terrible accident on campus. His only marriage fell apart, his connection to his step-son was lost and the only companion who withstood him was his dog. All this filled his time until the day he saw a young woman in the grocery store who was a carbon copy of his lost love. When he moved to talk to her, she bolted from the store and left him with a thousand different questions.

When the police arrived on his doorstep the following morning, Nick realized he was now in the middle of something far bigger than he ever imagined. As he followed his own leads, more pieces to the puzzle showed Nick that he may not have known the people he loved as well as he first thought. New questions about events in the past sent him into situations that threatened his mind and body. Can he discover who the mysterious woman in the grocery was before it's too late? Will he be able to free his name and reputation from the suspicions?


Review:
A good friend of mine introduced me to the author's work a year or so before NetGalley offered this title for reading and reviewing. Once I read the notice that this book was open for reviews, I immediately requested a copy. I honestly didn't know what to expect as the story unfolded with the main character, Nick Hansen, walking through his local grocery store after work. A regular, average person living a fairly boring life, Nick knew his day would end with a few brews and some quality time with his dog. That plan flew out the window when he noticed a young woman who was the spitting image of his college sweetheart. Now, that wouldn't be such a shock to the system except for the fact that his old college love had been dead for two decades.

Right away Nick's past came alive, impacting the present day in such a way that everything he experienced became a character itself. The ghost of his college love made her presence known in nearly every interaction that Nick had with someone else. Whether by name or recollection, she became central to the story in almost a "Six Degrees of Bacon" kind of way. Nick's attachment and reluctance to move on played major roles in his relationships. Most of the characters reacted as I expected they would, but a few of them felt a little flat. I'm not sure if I expected too much of them or if they were written that way on purpose. Possibly a bit of both.

Alongside the baggage Nick brought to the table, this book explored the depths of young love, its impact on the lives it touched, and how the effects last well past the expiration of the relationship. The way Nick's mind locked certain memories into place colored how he viewed the world and people around him. His outlook shifted into a black or white type of thinking. There was right and wrong, no matter what the circumstances that surrounded the choices. With such a narrowed world view, the new revelations shook his world and his confidence. Dark secrets revealed themselves and showcased how the consequences of a single action cascades over everyone tied to those involved. Those consequences came full circle as the book directed the reader through its maze of right or wrong choices.

Overall, I thought the book was really engaging from the first chapter. Once I started reading, I wanted to know more with the end of each chapter. Fewer principal characters made this story tight and kept it on course. For a majority of the book, I had an uneasy feeling that something major was hiding from view. It's similar to watching scary movies late at night with no lights on while you're alone. You just know someone's lingering in the shadows, but you can't quite make them out. There was a point when I began to suspect that I knew what was going to happen. Some of the theories I had in mind presented themselves, but I couldn't predict everything in the end. If you like a book full of twists and turns or want something to keep you guessing until that last paragraph, take a chance on this book!

Someone I Used to Know by David J. Bell is currently available in various forms at many online retailers and local bookstores. Copies can be purchased in paperback, audio-book and digital (Kindle) formats. The following link provided below brings up the book's page at Amazon.
Someone I Used to Know by David J. Bell

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August's Hopes and Dreams

The only hope and dream I have for this month is for peace. This entire year has been an exercise in patience and holding onto faith as one situation after another took me away from all the things I love best. Right now my family and I are in a holding pattern as we wait for the decisions of others before we can move forward on our current path or looking for another path to walk. It's not been easy for me to ease my grip on everything because I have serious anxiety when I can't control my world. I know I can't control everything, but I like to have a plan of action for the present. When everything's up in the air, it's harder to plan for surprises or all the what-if's that creep up in those early morning hours when I can't sleep.

To deal with everything that was dumped on my plate, I had to set aside everything I loved. The ever-growing TBR pile, my writing, my community projects and even the items I want to make for myself had to be put on the back burner. I tried to keep on track with my reading, but the words would blur together each time I opened the book. I'd read the same paragraph over a dozen times. My brain would not understand what I was reading. There was no way I could write a fair and honest review of the books. All of this wasn't fair to the authors who poured themselves into their work.

For the rest of this month, I intend to go through each of this books and get them filed under the "Read" column. If I can work the other things into the mix, then I will. However, books are going to take priority. The authors deserve that much at the very least. There are a number of books on my list that I'm still excited to read. Huge thanks to everyone for hanging in there with me and sending me encouragement to keep going.

Until next time,
Kay B

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hell (The Afterlife Series #2) by Mur Lafferty

Release Date: June 2, 2011 (first published 2007)
Publisher: Restless Brain Media
Series: The Afterlife Series, Book 2
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5stars.

Synopsis:
Kate and Daniel came together once again as their duties in Heaven ended. Their mission to recover the remaining stolen souls directed them to wander through the various versions of Hell and deal with the rulers therein. One by one, the souls were sent to their rightful homes by both Kate and Daniel, but the duo found themselves dealing with long hidden secrets and feelings.

With each touched by the Divine in different ways, Kate and Daniel worked their magic upon the Underworld until they reached the end of the line. One last soul needed to be collected. It would decide the fate of the Cosmos, the Afterlife and their friendship. Can all the differences be reconciled before it's too late? Will Kate and Daniel be separated forever?

Review:
As with the other books in the Afterlife series, I first took note of them when they were released in audio-book form by the author on Podiobooks, a podcast reading of her written material. Once I saw them in Kindle format, I snagged each one of them. Reading through the books brought back all the feelings and excitement of listening to them for the first time. To be honest I found this book as good the second and third times as I found it the very first time.

While the second book followed the further adventures of Kate and Daniel, many other characters were introduced into the mix as well. The reader was given a front row seat to the many different versions of hell that exist within the various religions around the world and from past civilizations. As with their adventures in Heaven, the duo challenged the rulers of the different areas of the Underworld and began a significant change in the structure of the particular Hell they visited. In some instances they made such a difference that the Hell no longer existed after their intervention. Along the way Kate and Daniel had to deal with their feelings for each other that they revealed at the end of the first book.

They weren't the only players to wreak havoc in the Underworld though. Familiar faces reappeared in this book to reveal their own agendas that included Kate and Daniel from the very beginning. At one point Daniel faced one of his most guarded secrets. (No spoilers!) Not only did the stolen souls play a part in shaping the story, but Daniel's anger as well as Kate's sadness became characters in the latter part of the story. Toward the end of the book, everything they went through shaped them into the perfect vessels to complete the next stage of their journey through the Afterlife.

From the start there was action, drama and bits of comedy that maintained a steady pace throughout the rest of the book. I was surprised at how well the story continued from the first book. It was very evident that a lot of research went into the different layers and versions of Hell that the duo walked through. By the time I connected all the dots near the end, I was already invested into these characters. I wanted to see them succeed, felt sad when their darkest secrets came out to test them, and celebrated when Kate and Daniel were able to reach common ground. Overall, I enjoyed this story the third time reading it as much as I did the first time I heard it in audio-book version. If you're looking for a different take on the "downside" of the Afterlife or want to know what happens to Kate and Daniel, then you definitely have to pick up this book!

Hell (The Afterlife Series #2) by Mur Lafferty is currently available at several online retailers in digital formats including Kindle. You can purchase the book from Amazon at the link provided below.
Hell (The Afterlife Series #2) by Mur Lafferty

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Currently Reading

2015 has taught me that I should never underestimate its ability to surprise me. When I thought I had things figured out, my family and I were dealt a huge, unexpected blow. It's taken me this long to recover and begin to take up my hobbies once again. Now that I'm back on track, I've set a slow pace in order to keep my goals in sight.

I'm eternally grateful to all the authors have given me their patience and understanding during this time. Without them and you, the readers of this blog, I would have given up on a lot of things by now. As far as my writing goes, I have made some headway at a much slower pace than I've been working through my TBR pile. Sometimes I wish it could hit the big time with it, but I know I must conquer my fear to submit first.


Cooling off with these buddies;
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
The Sacred Flame: A Novel by Nanette Littlestone
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill


These have gone to the beach;
Somebody I Used to Know by David J. Bell
The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft


My hope is to continue to keep up my schedule in the days to come. One by one I'll work my way through all of the outstanding posts in the usual order. Clinging to my faith, my distractions and my words to keep me sane through this troubled time. Hope you all have had a great summer.

Until next time,
Kay B

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Personal Update

I know. It's been a very long time since I've posted anything. Sometimes life throws major curve balls in our direction. For me this is one of those times. I must apologize to the authors waiting for their reviews and you, my readers, for this absence.

Over the last year, there have been a number of  health issues going on with both myself and family. When my issues settled down enough for me to get back in the groove, a major medical issue came up for someone very close to me. Between many doctors' appointments, failed medications, and few answers, my household has suffered a drastic change, putting more stress upon my shoulders than I honestly know how to deal with effectively. As of this moment, I still don't have all the answers. I'm also unsure of how we move forward, but all I can do is take it one day at a time.

Because I was thrown out of my routine by this, I temporarily lost my reading mojo. I have been trying to pick up the books and trudge forward. However, I think pushing through isn't fair to the authors and their works. I took a little time to try and get my head clear enough to really read the books and do what I do. I hope you all can accept my apology for the long pause. Believe me, I'm sincerely grateful for everyone hanging in here with me.

I am doing my best to restart the posts next Monday (8/10) and resuming my regular schedule. While I hope to keep this up for the rest of the year, I don't know what's going to happen with the other appointments. Please continue to grant me your patience and understanding.

Until next time,
Kay B

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently Reading

Happy July, everyone! Welcome to the sticky, sweet days of summer. This week is set to be a short one as the Independence Day holiday nears. I'm planning to take Friday off and spend time with family and a few friends. Therefore, no book review will be posted on Friday. I will resume my schedule on the Monday following the holiday weekend. Happy Canada Day to all my northern neighbors as well!

Though the contest was called off due to lack of entries, I was very pleased with myself for setting a goal and reaching it. I began and finished a short story within a couple of months. Now, that may not be much of a goal for most people. With my brainfog and other health issues, it's a big accomplishment. I'm pushing ahead and using this momentum to finish a few other things on my plate. Hope you all are doing the same!


Old friends and new friends come together at the top of the list:
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
The Sacred Flame: A Novel by Nanette Littlestone 


Saying goodbye is the hardest part:
Jesse by Glen Alan Burke
Hell (The Afterlife Series #2) by Mur Lafferty


So, here's to more books finished and more good days ahead! Hope you all enjoy the summer celebrations this weekend. Be safe. Be happy. See you on Monday!

Until next time,
Kay B





Monday, June 29, 2015

Jesse by Glen Alan Burke

Release Date: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Koehler Books
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
In 1960's rural Alabama, change came slowly to the town of Jess Rulam. When Jesse Savorie entered the elementary school, he stood out like a sore thumb. He was quiet, smart, big and beyond poor, but he stood out the most because he was a black boy in a white school. As the country marched toward equal rights and the children accepted the changes more readily than the adults, the clear divide between the people persisted.

Throughout his education Jesse taught life lessons to any and all who crossed his path. By using his uncanny knack for knowing what the person needed, he was able work miracles in even the hardest of hearts. Darkness and meanness lingered, festering among the townsfolk until it reached a boiling point where Jesse was concerned. Can he weather the harshest storm to work the biggest miracle possible? Will everything he worked for fall apart?

Review:
I also found this book when I searched through the offerings at NetGalley. Though historical fiction was not one of my go-to genres, I was pleasantly surprised by what I read in this book. To be honest and fair, the book started slow. It took a few chapters to settle into the world of Matt, the character who told a large portion of the story, and the town of Jess Rulam. Once I reached the third or fourth chapter, the story gained its bearing and continued a steady pace until the final chapter. To say that I wasn't expecting anything akin to the ending would be an understatement.

As mentioned above, the author used first person point-of-view for a large portion of the novel to tell the story through the eyes of Matt, a young, white boy who attended the local school system alongside Jesse, the odd boy who changed people and things wherever he went. There were also a number of chapters which featured third person point-of-view in order to give more history on the events, the town or particular characters. Though the switching between the two distracted me from the story a time or two, I wasn't put off by going back and forth. More than halfway through the novel, it didn't distract me at all.

The characters began showing their depth around the same time that the pace increased. Because this novel was set in Alabama during the 1960's and 1970's, the racial divide was much larger than today. Yes, discrimination and violence against both sides were present in the novel, but used to move the story along and provide context about the town, the people's deep-rooted beliefs and how change scared everyone. True to form the children adapted to change much faster and handled the impacts better than the adults of the town. More profound events were necessary to get them to understand how divisive the hatred or disdain was to the town at large. By the end of the novel, each of the characters had experienced a change that left them much more complex than the beginning of the book.

Overall, I was surprised when I recognized the fact that the book was a retelling of a much older story. Once that realization sunk in, I had to know the ending of the book and whether it came close to the original or not. Different emotions came to the surface at different times. Anger when I read how some of the characters were treated. Sadness when I realized that most of the treatment was based on real experiences. Joy when I saw that people began realizing they needed to change. For me, this novel hit the right buttons for an thought-provoking, enjoyable read. For those who enjoy well-written, updated versions of well-known stories or a book which makes you think, then I whole-heartedly recommend this book.

Jesse by Glen Alan Burke is available at many online retailers in either paperback or Kindle (digital) formats. The link provided below will take you to the book's page at Amazon.
Jesse by Glen Alan Burke

Friday, June 26, 2015

Go Down Hard by Craig Faustus Buck

Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Brash Books
Author Website:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Nob Brown left his police job for the insecurity of freelance writing, found himself on the wrong end of a bad divorce, and came to the realization that his best friend/sometimes lover, Gloria Lopes, had her own definition of monogamy. In order to cheer him up, she lets him borrow the police file covering the homicide of Lana Strain, the smokey-voiced lead singer of Nob's teenage dreams. He accepted the file and began following leads in order to wring a story or two out of the anniversary and pay off his ex-wife.

What began as routine examination of the facts led deeper than anyone, including Nob, expected. Shady underworld characters, reformed rockers and more did their best to lead Nob astray from the truth. As he pushed to follow the trail, Nob found the truth was more disturbing than anything he could imagine. Could he figure out who really killed Lana? Will it cost him everything in the process?

Review:
Once again, late night cruising of NetGalley's genre tabs lead me to find this book among the Mystery & Thriller section. Not a book with a 'G' rating, this book included several adult situations, adult language and plenty of violence. Somehow everything clicked, creating an action-packed thrill ride on the darker side of Los Angeles and surrounding areas. I think part of the reason the story worked so well was based on the fact that the book was told by Nob in a first person point-of-view. This gave a front row seat to all of his thoughts, emotions and inner conflicts as the story unfolded.

So many eccentric characters filled out the cast and each had a corner market on a particular kind of crazy. Nob Brown first appeared as the typical down-on-his-luck guy who spent his days fighting to make ends meet by writing tabloid articles and running from the clutches of his best friend, a hard-as-nails detective with an overactive libido. Throw in several characters who partied like the rock stars they were decades earlier, and you've got a heady mix of ego, paranoia and self-loathing that made it difficult to uncover the truth about the victim, Lana Strain. Even her family members featured a certain level of anxiety. Both of her daughters were polar opposites. One was obsessed with maintaining her mother's image in a very distinct and different way. The other daughter chose to ignore the past and focused on the present. While Lana portrayed herself as a rock-n-roll goddess with a gritty voice and body to match, her father displayed an Ivy league lifestyle, complete with golf games and civil service to boost his credibility in the society pages.

The opening chapter left no doubt that this book was an in-your-face type of novel. Those first pages laid the foundation of Nob's inner circle and launched the struggling writer's investigation. Even with so many different characters to juggle, the structure of the book allowed the author to reveal the various twists and secrets at a steady pace and without losing my attention. Because the story was set in California, the author used the various landmarks in and around Los Angeles and its weather to both enhance the story and create situations that often showed Nob in a world of trouble.

Overall, this story was a wild ride from beginning to end. From ballsy characters to action-packed scenes, there seemed to be something for everyone in the novel. I found it entertaining because of the outlandish nature of the characters and the heartbreaking idea that someone could hurt their family so much that death was the only option. The murder of Lana Strain wasn't the only crime on tap to solve. As Nob delved further into his investigation, several more crimes floated to the top of the pile. Each had their time in the spotlight, but the focus remained on Lana. While there were the usual twists scattered throughout the novel, I felt happy when I didn't guess everything that was going to happen. If you like brash, in-your-face characters or multi-level mysteries, then I definitely recommend this book for your reading list.

Go Down Hard by Craig Faustus Buck is currently available at various online retailers in either paperback or digital (Kindle) formats. Click the link below to order from the book's page at Amazon.
Go Down Hard by Craig Faustus Buck

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Currently Reading

Summer is officially here as the Summer Solstice occurred over the weekend. Well, here in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere celebrated the Winter Solstice. The days will be more hot and humid in our region. Plenty of chances for storms and tornadoes grows as the temperature increases. It's always something though. Nature never really takes a vacation, no matter where you live.

Since I'm stuck inside except for a short time each day, I am using this to my advantage to clear some of these poor books off my to-read list. They've lingered there long enough. Plus, I've received some pretty good-looking books in the past week. Looking forward to diving into them, but I can't until I finish more than I have been. Word addiction is hard to manage when there are thousands of books to be devoured.


Looking at these for the top of the pile;
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Jesse by Glen Alan Burke
Hell (The Afterlife Series #2) by Mur Lafferty
The Sacred Flame by Nanette Littlestone



These are on their way to the shelves;
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner
Go Down Hard by Craig Faustus Buck 


Competing with my word addiction for the next two months will be my crocheting addiction. I've volunteered to help a young lady in my area reach the monetary goal that will help her receive surgery. A craft fair is being set into motion, so too will the hooks. What's on your list to do this summer?

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ask the Dark by Henry Turner

Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Clarion Books
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
In his short time on earth, Billy Zeets did everything to get into trouble. Whether it was egging cars, stealing things from houses in his neighborhood or being an all-around menace, everyone knew he was no good. After back to back traumatic events shifted everything in his world, Billy knew it was time to change. He had responsibilities no fourteen year-old kid should, and he'd be damned if he didn't try to make ends meet.

Since many of the adults in town had long given up on him, Billy was able to slink around, noticing things that others might not. He noticed boys his age going missing, a strange car prowling around the neighborhood, and no one wanted to hear it unless he had proof. When the opportunity came to get that necessary proof and take care of his responsibilities, Billy didn't waste time in thinking things over because the decision was made for him. Can he escape the fate of the other boys? Can he do so and keep the vow he made so long ago?

Review:
This was one of those late night finds while searching through the Mystery genre at NetGalley. From the description and look of the cover, I figured it was going to be something akin to a haunted house story with a twist. What I found instead was a first person point-of-view account of one teen's survival against every parent's nightmare. The story took place in a rural town where jobs were hard to come by, but neighbors knew everyone and their business. Billy and his family were one of many that fell on hard times and faced some hard decisions after their lives took some dramatic turns.

Billy was a fourteen year-old boy who was left to raise himself after their family suffered a devastating loss and his father was involved in an accident. He shared the burden with his sister, Lezzie, in the beginning. However, she soon found a way out, leaving Billy to find a way to save the family home. As Billy scours the town for odd jobs to raise whatever money he can, he introduced several types of characters to the reader. The junker who prowled the alleyways for anything to sell for a buck, the drugstore delivery driver with a bum foot that let Billy help, the crazy old lady who rarely answered her door and wore tin foil under her clothes - they all had a role in the town. Even the kids knew their place in the town, so it was common for fights to break out among the boys. All the boys around Billy's age came under a spotlight the moment that two local boys went missing and one turned up in a creek.

The book's pacing and dialogue was determined by Billy's dictation. The words on the page became a transcript of what he was speaking, something reinforced by him in the last chapter. At times I had trouble understanding what Billy tried to say because a lot of the words featured the local 'twang' that he used. The story started slow, but ramped up as decision-making was taken from him. Like in many mystery books, certain elements of surprise and distraction appeared in their appropriate places. Though some were predictable, I did like that Billy's personality and stubbornness created a few unexpected surprises during the peak of the action.

To be honest, this book wasn't exactly what I expected to read. Now that I've finished the book, I don't think the story could've been told any other way than through Billy's experiences. He spoke with a child's honesty about everything, contrasting sharply with the adults in the town who held tightly onto their secrets. One more positive point to add to the book's column was the implied violence on the missing boys at the hand's of the suspect. Billy told how the boys looked before they went missing, and later related some of the injuries found on their bodies. While Billy mentioned all that he endured, the entirety of the evil done to them wasn't put into words. Overall, this book was a fairly quick read with a good amount of entertainment to keep me turning the pages. I'm curious to see if anything else happens to Billy in the coming years as the ending left a few doors open. Definitely put this on your reading list if you like a book which uses your imagination as a tool or simply need something creepy to fill those late night hours before dawn arrives.

Ask the Dark by Henry Turner is currently available at several online retailers. It can be purchased in either hardcover, audio-book or Kindle (digital) editions. The link below provides the book's Amazon page.
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner


Friday, June 19, 2015

Near Death by Glenn Cooper

Release Date: November 15, 2014
Publisher: Lascaux Media
Author Website: 

Rating: 3 out 5 stars.

Synopsis:
FBI Special Agent Cyrus O'Malley must balance an unexpected serial killing case, a new, lethal drug released on the streets of the world, and spending time with his ailing daughter. With such heavy weight on his shoulders, he poured everything he had into his work and set his sights on the top suspects. What he didn't expect was the grain of truth in the rumors on the street.

With a new drug spreading across the globe, people were given a glimpse of what prophets and theologians speculated for centuries. The comedown of the drug left many despondent and disillusioned, pushing some to the extreme. When a messiah appeared promising deliverance to the masses at the end of a thirty day countdown, Cyrus must move quickly to uncover the truths or pay the highest cost.

Review:
This novel was the third in a list of books by the author recommended for me to explore by NetGalley. Each of the previous book featured their own adventures and characters which explored different parts of the world and the cultures therein. The only thing linking these three books together was their exploration of the spiritual, religion and a person's belief in each. Whereas the other books were explorations of the past's influence upon the present, this title took what the future may hold and used it upon today's modern life.

Right away the cast of characters revealed themselves and what roles they'd play in the overall story. Cyrus O'Malley wasn't the only character that was under a spotlight in the story, but I try to keep these reviews spoiler-free. The other one you'll have to find out for yourself. While the progression of the story focused on two key characters, there were several who shaped the story and gave it a sense of completion. Not only did the characters come from different areas of belief and religion, they came from all walks of life. Whether intellectual or uneducated, white-collar or blue-collar, they all seemed to have a part to play in the events of the book.

The action in the book took a little while to get rolling. There was a lot of little pieces to explore in the foundation of the story. Once everything was in place, a natural momentum appeared. The author took advantage of the rhythm, utilizing the pacing to unfold different aspects of the story at the optimal time. Much of the book revolved the scientific and medical communities, so there was a lot of terminology that if unexplained well could leave the average reader out in the cold. However, the author used the characters to explain the difficult concepts in an educational and uplifting way that left me (the reader) wanting to know more. He did the same with the theological arguments presented in the book, utilizing both sides of the issues in order to reach some sort of consensus that impacted the characters' decision making.

While I found the book very entertaining to the last page, some of the plot and events were predictable. Some of the twists were easy to guess chapters before they occurred, but I was pleasantly surprised by the thought-provoking aspect of this novel. The subject matter and actions of a few select characters opened doors to questions that everyday type of people might not consider in their usual routines. If given the opportunity, would we really want to experience what may be waiting on the other side of death before our time in this life is through? What would we pay or sacrifice in order to have that experience if we said yes? How would this type of drug impact our theologies, beliefs and connections with people in general? All of these were very intriguing questions that lingered in my head long after finishing the novel. If you love the thrill of the chase in a suspenseful book or enjoy speculating what may happen should a number of events take place in a particular sequence, this is a book you definitely need on your TBR list.

Near Death by Glenn Cooper is currently available at various online retailers. It can be purchased in paperback, audio-book or digital (Kindle) versions. Visit the book's Amazon page by clicking the link provided below.
Near Death by Glenn Cooper

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Currently Reading

Summer heat is now here, bringing its best friend, humidity, with it. Perfect reason to stay indoors and catch up on my reading list. So far, I've actually been able to knock some of these off the TBR without adding more to the bottom. Of course, that will change soon as I'm looking forward to some new selections arriving at my doorstep.

The past month has been a barren one in the writing department. I thought I had a good short story ready for this local contest, but the finished story wasn't something that I felt right about entering. Editing my other works hasn't fared any better. It's almost as though my writing mojo left for some sunny beach resort, leaving me here with a bunch of dark, gloomy days. I hope it comes back soon and sticks around for more than a day or two.


Cracking the covers of the following;
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner
Go Down Hard by Craig Faustus Buck


Saying goodbye to these (for now);
Trail of the Torean (Saga of the God-Touched Mage #2) by Ron Collins
Near Death by Glenn Cooper


This year seems to be the year of book series and stepping out of my genre comfort zone. Neither of those are things I do on a regular basis. Combined with all my other ups and downs this year, I have to admit that 2015 is looking like a year of change and exploration - in good ways, of course.

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, June 15, 2015

Trail of the Torean (Saga of the God-Touched Mage #2) by Ron Collins

Release Date: November 30, 2014
Publisher: Skyfox Publishing
Series: Saga of the God-Touched Mage series, Book 2
Author Website: http://typosphere.com

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Two sects of magic users, the Lectodinians and Koradictines, joined forces in order to rid the world of the Toreans, including Garrick, but they never counted on Garrick becoming an integral part of the Gods' plans. In order to either learn more about his newly-discovered powers or rid himself of the curse completely, Garrick accepted a contract alongside Darien, another hiding his true identity to be his own man.

As they journeyed together, they found themselves in the midst of turmoil at every turn. Whether they fought for their own lives or helped a fellow Torean escape the clutches of the others, Garrick struggled to find a balance between the part of him which wanted to heal and the part of him that sought destruction. Can he find a way to reconcile the two halves before time runs out for both him and Adruin?

Review:
I was thrilled to have time to get back to this series of books written by a local author. The second release, which began with Glamour of the God-Touched, continued Garrick's tale after the discovery of new powers, his master murdered, and his whole world turned upside down. This book revealed more about the three mage orders as well as some history about other mages who were also known to be God-Touched. Information about the God-Touched's full potential was shrouded in myth and lore. Each side of the magical triad had their own and wanted to be better than the others. Therefore, the reader was left to explore the limits and consequences alongside Garrick throughout the book.

As with the first book, Garrick was the central character in this tale, but he wasn't alone in his adventures. In order to complete a contract for coin, he agreed to ride with a companion, Darien, as an insurance policy that one of the riders would return with the merchandise. The differences between the two men were noticeable from the start. Where Garrick was quiet and guarded, Darien was jovial and likely to sing in order to pass the time. I really liked the relationship that grew between them as they were tested with several situations where trust played a factor. Along with these two, more individual mages were introduced. I got the feeling that these men and women weren't people who would be toyed with or taken lightly. They possessed great powers and each of them knew they were revered or reviled for those powers.

Not only did the book have new characters and meatier interactions to savor, but this book also featured new cities. While one appeared to be a larger version of the village Garrick lived near, the other was located in a desert-like place. These places and the landscape between offered several occasions for action and adventure for the duo and became character-like themselves.

From the first chapter the pace of the novel was quick, yet steady. As more secrets were revealed and action took place, the pacing gathered speed. I wasn't surprised at the end when the mad dash to freedom was matched by dialogue and what was occurring in the scene. The author did a great job allowing the reader time to breathe between battles before leading them into the fray once again. Even in the very last chapter, the pace mimicked the story in such a way that I felt the sense of acceptance that washed over the characters.

Overall, I found myself invested in both Garrick's history and his future now that new information was known. With well-thought fight scenes and descriptive spell work, the author continued laying the foundation of a series worth further exploration. New characters on all sides with their own agendas for Garrick impacted the story thus far, and possibly in the future as well. I'm curious to see how Garrick settled the war within himself while fighting continued all around him. What future role does Darien have in this whole thing? This book answered some of the questions I had after book one, but left me with new questions. I'm very much looking forward to delving into the next book. For those who love a great adventure tale full of political intrigue, gods who love using humans as playthings, and seeing the underdog fight his way to the top, I recommend this book be placed on your TBR as soon as possible!

Trail of the Torean (Saga of the God-Touched Mage #2) by Ron Collins is currently available online wherever books are sold. It can be purchased in either paperback or digital (Kindle) download. It's also available in a bundle package with all the books in the saga. The following link will bring up the book's page at Amazon for purchase.
Trail of the Torean (Saga of the God-Touched Mage #2 by Ron Collins

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Devil Will Come by Glenn Cooper

Release Date: November 14, 2014
Publisher: Lascaux Media
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Elisabetta Celestino was one of Professor De Stefano's brightest pupils, delving into the unearthed catacombs to find more proof of the early Christian Church near the outskirts of Rome until she was viciously attacked. She turned to the Church to heal her wounds, physically and mentally. Her entire life became a routine of prayer and devotion until ten years later when her professor showed up on her doorstep a second time.

After the Pope's death and a cave-in at an excavation site unearthed much of the area and unsettling discoveries, she found herself back on the trail she wanted to explore years earlier. When strange accidents and shadowy figures began following her, it became clear something more sinister was at work and trying to keep her from the truth. Elisabetta must find the answers before her time runs out. Can she thwart the unseen evil before disaster strikes the city? Can she solve the mysteries in time? 

Review:
The book was included in a special invite from NetGalley along with two other books by the author. I've already reviewed one earlier this year (The Resurrection Maker: A Thriller). While the two books were written by the same author, they were separate stories and covered different mythologies and symbolism. This particular book centered around the theme of good versus evil and spanned centuries from pre-Christian Rome to 16th Century England to modern times. It was easy to tell there would be good guys and bad guys from the beginning of the book, but as the story continued, the lines became blurred. The only constant was Elisabetta and her faith.

Much of the book focused on Elisabetta and her intimate knowledge of pre-Christian societies of Rome. Initially she and her professor pushed to excavate a section of unearthed burial grounds outside of the city. With a swift denial from the Vatican, her whole life changed. She put her focus and energy into helping others in a different manner. Very quickly did her life change once again when it became apparent that she was the only person who could interpret what was unearthed. The discoveries set into motion a chain of events that no one could've imagined or control. Each of the characters, whether primary or secondary, possessed a distinct personality and had something physical that set them apart. This helped to keep all the characters straight as their names sometimes sounded alike. One particular group of people had such a distinct characteristic that it shocked any and all who discovered the difference.

Changes happened quickly at times. Other changes came about through elaborately laid plans that took weeks, sometimes months or years, to come to fruition. Since the book covered different eras, there needed to be a common thread linking them all together. The author did a really good job of taking these different moments in history and uniting them through one of the most common themes - good versus evil. On one side of the aisle was the Vatican and all the goodness that it could represent. Lurking in the shadows of the other side was a secret society which embraced its uniqueness and its lack of empathy for anything or anyone. Their main goal was to gain and hold onto as much power as possible in order to bring about the destruction of their greatest enemy - the Church.

Now, this book wasn't a simple rehashing of good guys fighting bad guys. It delved deeper into the history of signs, symbols and written works that were long speculated to hold secrets within their innocent pages. I liked how the author wove different times in history together without it seeming disjointed. I knew that the book would be a wild ride with many twists and turns, deaths and even opening a few Pandora's boxes. But throughout the book, I was impressed by the main character's firm grip on her faith and how dedicated she was to maintaining that grip despite whatever came her way. Believe me, a lot was thrown at her. Yet she continued to believe. I can't say that I agree with everything she did, but I did admire her for that fact. If you love twisted tales through history that impact the way we live today or simply want a good thriller to keep you awake at night, put this book on your to-read list.

The Devil Will Come by Glenn Cooper is currently available in hardcover, paperback or digital (Kindle) formats from many online retailers. The following link will take you to the book's Amazon page for purchase.
The Devil Will Come by Glenn Cooper


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Currently Reading

Feeling like my reading mojo is coming back has helped me to keep turning those pages. I wasn't feeling up to doing anything the past few weeks, if I'm to be honest. Sometimes I just have to push myself. In the end, I usually feel better afterwards. Other times it allows me to know my limits.

Nearly finished with another book on this list. I feel bad that it's taking so long to get through the printed books. They're just as valuable to me as the digital versions. I love all versions of the written word. My goal is to knock these off by the end of the year. All of them will be read, reviewed and loved.


Itching to get back to these books;
Jackfish Reborn by Rejean Giguere
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Say You Will (Summerhill Book 1) by Kate Perry
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Trail of the Torean (Saga of the God-Touched Mage #2) by Ron Collins
Near Death by Glenn Cooper


So sad to see these go on the shelf;
My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel by Tanya J. Peterson
The Devil Will Come: A Thriller by Glenn Cooper


What do you do when feel less than able to complete a task? Do you push through or wait until a better time? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time,
Kay B

Monday, June 8, 2015

My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel by Tanya J. Peterson

Release Date: June 1, 2014
Publisher: Inkwater Press
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Synopsis:
Brian Cunningham knew he was the worst of everything - the worst employee, the worst son, the worst pet owner, the person alive on the planet. Whenever he attempted a simple task such as a five minute conversation with a coworker, his world tilted, chest tightened and his heart nearly beat out of chest. Working as a night shift janitor as a local school allowed him the freedom to ready the classrooms with pride but without all the interactions.

Without warning his whole world shifted. His best (and only) friend in the world left him. New management at the school watched his every move and added responsibilities were placed upon his shoulders. As the walls close in and left him floundering, a small hand pulled him from the edge. Can a child with so many problems of her own help Brian with any of his? Will he be able to save her at the moment she needed it most?

Review:
This book was one of those chance findings when I was looking through the various selections offered at NetGalley. I don't know exactly what pulled me toward this book, but I was glad I ended up reading it. Maybe it was because I identified with the main character to a certain degree. Maybe it was because I wished to see someone triumph over adversity. Whatever the reason, I can say with certainty that I was definitely intrigued and couldn't wait to discover what awaited me between the book's cover.

Told through Brian's eyes and experiences, the author gave a voice to all the worrying and the character's  anxious thought processes as he encountered various situations. From the very first chapter the high level of anxiety that Brian experienced on a daily basis was front and center. I could tell right away that he was painfully shy on top of all the other worries he admitted to within the first chapter. The bombardment of his thoughts could be off-putting for some readers. I can understand that as they were almost too much for me to continue reading because I could emphasize with Brian. So much so that I felt the anxiety and sadness roll off his character in waves. As the story continued and more characters were introduced, an increase in anxiety was evident and expected. For Brian the only reason to get up in the morning despite the exhaustive panic attacks he endured was a little girl who seemed more lost than he was.

The rest of the characters were well fleshed-out, giving a voice to different concerns and misconceptions as the story unraveled. In fact their behavior or dialogue affected the pace of the story. During some of Brian's panic attacks, the pace was fast and bordering on frantic. When other characters appeared with a calming presence, the pace slowed to allow time to breathe and process what happened. I could guess some of the events to be uncovered by the way Brian and his coworkers reacted, but I was also pleasantly surprised when a few didn't go the way I thought they would. My heart ached when pieces of Abigail's story came to light. She was the little girl who captured everyone's attention with her bright eyes, desire to fit in and the gut-wrenching history. Her small voice broke through defenses of many characters and brought needed change in all their lives. One character really annoyed me by her treatment of Brian despite the fact that she professed to do it out of love.

All in all, this book wasn't something I was looking for, but was one I needed to read. Anyone experiencing anxiety or other such disorders will be able to relate to what Brian's going through. In fact much of the book stayed with me long after I finished the final chapter. The whole journey felt overwhelming in the beginning. By the time I reached the end, I felt hope and happiness as some issues were completely resolved. Others needed more time, but I have no doubt they would be resolved as well. The author tapped into something that I think many people in today's world felt at one time or another. Even with technology connecting the world, people feel more alone and lost than ever before. If you're looking for a book with characters to root for or something that wraps its words around you and doesn't let go, this is a book you need to have on your list.

My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel by Tanya J. Peterson is currently available at a number of online retailers and local bookstores. This book can be purchased in either paperback or digital (Kindle) versions. Below is a link to the Amazon page for the book.
My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel by Tanya J. Peterson