The Hat by C.S. Boyack #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #fantasy

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon. – Goodreads.com

I’ve read a few of this author’s books, and after Clovis from The Playground, the Hat is probably my favorite character.  I think the two of them would really hit it off if they ever got together – in fact, I feel like they’re destined to meet.

Action, adventure, humor – they all reside within this unique novella.  It’s such a fun read, and I chuckled my way through it.  Boyack is a talented storyteller, and as demonstrated with Patty in his novel Will O’ the Wisp, also excels at creating believable female characters.  Lizzie has some fantastic, badass moments, and the Hat’s struggles to learn modern technology are especially comical.

I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to escape for a couple of hours and immerse themselves in a thoroughly enjoyable, original novella.

 

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A Quiet Place, #SneakyPete, Writing, and #Giveaway #amwriting

Something kind of new on the blog.  I’ve decided Mondays are for talking about what shows/movies I’ve been watching, what’s going on with my writing, pictures of my cat – just whatever jumps to the front of my brain.

I saw A Quiet Place this weekend.  After seeing the trailer a few months back, it immediately went on the ‘stupid excited, please don’t suck’ list, and it didn’t disappoint.  Highly original story, intense, white knuckle scenes, and incredible acting by John Krasinski and wife, Emily Blunt.  Krasinski also firmly established himself as a talented director.  If you’re a horror/suspense fan, this is a must see.

Hubby and I have been watching Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime and we’re loving it (and trust me when I say it’s difficult getting hubby to watch a series).  I’ve been a Giovanni Ribisi fan since he played Phoebe’s brother, Frank, on Friends, and many of the supporting actors are from Justified and The Americans, both among my fav shows.  If con men, gangsters, and false identities keep your peepers glued to the screen, this one’s for you.

On the writing front, I’ve started my third book, but I’m only a chapter in so far.  With the promotion for The Gemini Connection and two book festivals this month, the WIP has fallen by the wayside somewhat.  My MC still  hasn’t shared his full story, but he’s given me a road map to get started.  Like The Gemini Connection, this could also wind up being a dual POV.  Waiting for the characters to tell me, but I can see it happening.

Sci-fi and Scary is hosting a giveaway of Sarah – click here to enter, then stay and read reviews on the latest sci-fi and horror books and movies!

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Writer’s Reading Corner: Michael Reed #IndieAuthor #humor #satire

Happy Friday!  Our weather forecast has flipped back and forth over whether we’re expecting snow tomorrow night.  In April.  It’s not like I live very far north, or even in Canada.  That being said, some humor might make me feel a little better about it all, and Michael Reed brings us two humor-related books today.  Enjoy!

I’ve read quite a few good books lately, but I’ve decided to make my recommendation for “Generation Dementia” by Michael Hartnett. It’s an indie book that could certainly use more attention than it’s gotten so far. I chose it based on a promotional blurb and a quick look at the writing style. That’s how I end up reading most works by people I’m unfamiliar with. I’d call the book a cautionary tale except it’s too wickedly funny to be viewed in such a narrow way.

At the center of this intricate tale of urban angst is narrator Hash O’Connell, who as an intern in a trash pickup program discovers a box of old 5¼ floppy disks at the home of a recently deceased Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Levon Gallagher. As Hash reads the disks’ content intermittantly throughout the book, he learns not only about past technologies, but also about Gallagher’s link to his family. The result leaves him a changed person. There are other secrets to be found as well, but I think it’s best to leave discovering the rest to new readers.

I will say that along the way, the trash program becomes wildly popular with other troubled teens, and three of its participants, which include what I’ll describe as a garbage kleptomaniac and a trash-hauling violinist become reality TV stars – certainly seemed apropos of our times. In truth, there is a lot of Pynchon in Hartnett’s worldview, at least in this novel.  That said fear not, this tale is more accessible than the bulk of Pynchon’s work. The writing is crisp and for me the pages flew by. “Generation Dementia” strikes that rare balance between side-splitting humor and thought-provoking (though never preachy) social commentary that is hard to come by.

 

As for my latest release, “Songs From Richmond Avenue,”  deals mostly with drunks as I’ve started telling people who ask me to pigeon-hole my book, which I think fits best under the heading of literary fiction or urban satire.

It’s primarily about the denizens of the Relix Club, who wile away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting. Until recently that was good enough for our storyteller, a journalist of questionable work ethic, who undergoes an epiphany following a bus stop meeting with pretty Michelle, a woman he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.”

Could she be his redemption? Maybe, but first he’d better contend with her baseball bat-wielding former beau, her nihilistic stripper roommate and the suspicious death of a friend, who fancies himself the father of Brute Generation poetry.

I’m told it’s wildly unpredictable and mostly centers on whether the protagonist of “Songs From Richmond Avenue” will put down his beer long enough to learn anything of true value.

Biography:

Michael Reed, a finalist for the 2017 McGrath House indie book award for fiction, is a Texas journalist, meaning he’s used to living in inexpensive apartments and driving paid-for used cars. He does not have a wife or children, which is probably best for all concerned, and has never owned a washer or drier, something he takes great pride in. “Songs From Richmond Avenue,” which recently received a Literary Titan Gold Award, is the Southern Illinois University graduate’s first novel.

Only Human (Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel #bookreview #scifi

In her childhood, Rose Franklin accidentally discovered a giant metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion alike. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. And she must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her own friends turn against each other. – Goodreads.com

Sleeping Giants, the first book in this series, is still my favorite, but Only Human is a close second.   This is a dual timeline novel – events that occurred during the nine years spent on an alien planet, and what happens after returning to Earth.

Vincent, with his snark and intelligence, is undoubtedly my favorite character and he has some incredible moments in this book.  His struggles to protect his daughter, Eva, while also giving her space to become her own person are both heartwarming and humorous.  Although as strong, determined, and principled as her mother, to me, Eva’s rants seemed more along the lines of a spoiled brat teenager to the point that it was somewhat distracting.

The world-building on the alien planet isn’t explored in depth.  It’s interesting and somewhat similar to Earth, but what I enjoyed most is that it’s also flawed.  Their world is just as imperfect as ours, many of their struggles the same.

With its action-packed robot fights to its social commentary, this series has been an epic and thought-provoking ride from beginning to end and one I highly recommend to sci-fi fans.  Only Human is scheduled for publication May 1, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

The Girl and the Grove by Eric Smith #bookreviews #TuesdayBookBlog #YAbooks

Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve.

But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park. – Goodreads.com

This charming tale is an interesting blend of contemporary and fantasy, with a main character I just wanted to hug throughout the entire book.  Leila is a mature young woman with strong convictions who struggles with questions about her past, while also learning to trust her new family and find a sense of belonging.  And everyone should have a best friend like Sarika – that person who always supports you and has your back no matter what – who is also a snarky, talented coffee barista with a loyal Twitter following.  Leila’s dad, Jon, is the perfect concoction of worried, overprotective father, with an endearing, dorky sense of humor.

I loved the emphasis on environmental awareness and the interactions between the group on the message board.  Raising awareness in any way can only have a positive effect.

Although the romantic relationships felt somewhat rushed, hovering near the ‘insta-love’ airspace, I appreciated the way Leila realized early on that some relationships are just incompatible, but that doesn’t mean the friendship has to end.  It caught me off guard when Shawn’s character seemed to change abruptly from one scene to the next, and I was also hoping for a little more information about Leila’s biological father.

The Girl and the Grove is an entrancing story with strong themes of family, friendship, and trust.  This book is scheduled for release May 8th, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

The Writer’s Reading Corner: Tracy A. Ball #indieauthor #amreading #paranormal

Happy Easter weekend!  Hope you’re having more of a spring than we are – gloomy, rainy, and flood warnings all around.  Today’s guest is Tracy A. Ball who shares not just one, but two memorable books she read recently.  If you’re in the mood for a feel-good read, Tracy’s YA sweet romance fantasy, Dragonfly Dreams, is included in the charity anthology, Darklight and Daydreams, which provides aid to people in Puerto Rico.  Welcome, Tracy!

I had the privilege of reading two great books recently.  A Bench by Memory Lake, by John Vance and FAVA, by John Hazen. Anything written by with either man, is going to be worth the read.

A Bench by Memory Lane is a humorous, bittersweet story of responsibility and overcoming. It’s a celebration of friendship and navigating the hard choices. John Vance writes compassion and empathy in a way that few others can. Hot cocoa and a blanket, or a porch swing with a slight breeze; that’s a John Vance story.

FAVA is full of action, mystery, romance and intrigue! It’s a fast read because you can’t put it down. The concept is so attuned to the current state of our society, you might think Mr. Hazen has an inside scoop on a real political conspiracy. And, if that’s not delicious enough, Zyklon, the sequel is set to be released on June 7th. It’s not a ride you want to miss!

 

My latest story is novella entitled Dragonfly Dreams. YA sweet-romance fantasy. It’s an off the grid, opposites attract fairytale featuring a Dark Elve and and a Half-Fae.

One jump changed everything.

Shattered, Leaf fled to the last place she wanted to be—Ebony Narpole’s 

world…Ebony Narpole’s arms.

Leaf Harper was Ebony’s enemy; he made sure of it. Ebony could forget 

everybody and everything, but he could not forget why.

Dragonfly Dream part one is available now as part of a charity anthology (Darklight & Daydreams) to aid the people in Puerto Rico. The full story will be released in May.

Tracy’s Bio:

Novelist, Reviewer, Content Editor, Blogger, T-shirt Wearer, and Professional Snacker; Tracy A. Ball is a native Baltimorean and a veteran West Virginian whose family is blended from three cultures. She has opened her home to foster children, drug addicts, AIDS victims and anyone who needed an assist. She has an equal number of conservative and liberal friends. She knows people who have committed murder and people who have dined with the Pope. 

Which is why she writes sweet stories about tough love.

… and takes naps.

Her published works include: 

KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse

Amazon

The Tiger & The Snake: A Before KAYOS Tale (Free Download)

Amazon

The Right Way To Be Wrong 

Amazon

Darklight and Daydreams

Amazon

Civil Warriors (2nd edition coming soon)

If you’d like to know more please find me:

https://www.facebook.com/Tra3Ball/

https://twitter.com/Tra3ballA

https://tracyaball.wordpress.com/the-book-i-write/

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas #bookreview #YA

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. – Goodreads.com

This will be a brief review because I don’t possess the words to do this book justice.  Crucial, timely, powerful, honest, uncomfortable, gut-wrenching – I can’t recommend this novel enough.  Stellar characterization, especially with Starr’s loving, supportive, and occasionally hilarious family.  I could easily have finished it in one sitting – it’s that riveting.  My only regret is that it took me nearly a year to get to it.