WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m nearly finished with Eventide (Hode’s Hill #3) by Mae Clair.  While I’m sad this series is ending and know I’ll miss these characters (Dante!), I’m happily engrossed in this eerie supernatural suspense novel.  All three books in the series can be read as a standalone – get started now!

The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?
 
Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…

I just finished Hard Wired by Len Vlahos.  This brought up so many questions regarding existentialism.  The story wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I’m thinking about it before writing my review.

From Morris finalist Len Vlahos comes a contemporary sci-fi story about a boy who might not be human—for fans of Westworld and Black Mirror.

Quinn thinks he’s a normal boy with an average life. That is, until he finds a trail of clues the father he barely knew left behind.

After Quinn unravels his father’s puzzles, he “wakes up” … and realizes his world was nothing more than a virtual construct. In reality, he’s the first fully-aware A.I. in the world, part of an experiment run by a team of scientists—including the man he thought was his father.

As the scientists continue to study him, Quinn’s new existence becomes a waking nightmare. Determined to control his own destiny, he finds allies in other teens—including crush Shea—and plots his escape. But what does true freedom look like when you’re not human?

Acclaimed Morris Award finalist Len Vlahos pens a high-stakes contemporary-rooted sci-fi that asks big questions about humanity. 

Next, I’ll read Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky.  I’m always up for a good survival story, and this looks like an interesting one.

No one knows how the world will end.

On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own.

Prepare for every situation.

But when danger strikes from within, putting her sisters at risk, training becomes real life, and only one thing is certain:

Nowhere is safe.

Highland Cove by Dylan J. Morgan #bookreview #horror #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Highland Cove Sanatorium sits abandoned on a desolate island one mile off the Scottish mainland. It’s a dark, foreboding place, filled with nightmares. Even darker are the asylum’s secrets: a history of disease and mental illness, macabre experiments and murder.

The tales of ghostly appearances are said to be more fact than fiction, but no one has ever documented the phenomenon. Codie Jackson aims to change all that. Arriving from London with his small independent film crew, they plan to make a documentary that will forever change their lives.

But when one of the crew disappears, things begin to spiral out of control. A storm closes in to ravage the island, and in the darkness Highland Cove’s true horrors are revealed. Now lost within the institution’s labyrinthine corridors, Codie and his team realize that their nightmare is only just beginning.

After reading several books by this author, I became a confirmed fan.  But then he disappeared for a while.  When I learned he had a new release on the horizon, it took me about tenth of a second to request an ARC.

A group of ghosthunters, including some non-believers, spend two nights in an abandoned sanitorium during a vicious storm.  Where lots of people died.  And it’s on an island.  What could go wrong here?  Most folks, believers or not, would likely pass on the offer.  Luckily for the reader, these characters think it’s an amazing opportunity.  Some of them assume nothing will happen and figure they’ll edit in effects to the film later.  Right.  But then, it wouldn’t be much of a horror story if characters made wise choices.

This author possesses an incredible talent for setting a tone – something he immediately did when the group first set foot on the island.  With such vivid imagery, I felt as if I walked the dilapidated halls of Highland Cove along with these characters.  Chills tingled down my spine when a wheelchair moved of its own accord.  Shadows danced in every corner.  During one scene, I cringed repeatedly – and I’ve been reading horror for decades.  That doesn’t happen to me very often, so kudos to the author.  Trust me when I say parts of this aren’t for the faint of heart.

It’s difficult to mention this without giving away spoilers, but a couple things near the end didn’t come together for me.  I had suspicions, and maybe I missed a crucial piece of information early in the book, but I felt part of the puzzle was missing when all was said and done.  It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this atmospheric tale, but still – some questions niggled at my brain.

I’m thrilled to see another book from this author and hope I don’t have to wait as long for his next one.  If you’re a horror fan, this is a writer you need to get to know.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Introverts, #AmWatching, and To-Do List

With most of us hanging close to home, both adults and kids may find themselves bored.  For us introverts, not so much.  I have a list of things I’ve been meaning to get to, and now looks like the perfect time.

Read books and more books (seriously, you had to see this one coming).  Maybe I can finally make a serious dent in the TBR pile.  Less errands to run = more time to curl up with good reads.

Clear out the Netflix list.  I’ve added several things I want to watch (still haven’t gotten to Witcher) but haven’t had time to get to.  I just noticed they added a second season of Altered Carbon, and season 3 of Ozark drops March 27th.  With Disney+, I’m still trying to watch The Mandalorian – technical difficulties have prevented my viewing so far.  ESPN+ is no problem – hubby and I are making our way through Peyton’s Places and loving it.

Our garage and storage area could use a good cleaning out.  We’re not hoarders by any means, but the boys have stashed sports equipment and art supplies they no longer need/use in the garage, college moves have resulted in unused/unwanted furniture, and hubby could probably open a golf store with what he has on the shelves.  Old Christmas decorations and some toys could be removed from the storage area.  Last time I was up there, I discovered the youngest son had added several boxes without telling us.  We just thought he finally cleaned out his bedroom.  Should have known better.

Don’t even get me started on the yard.  I bought weed killer a couple weeks ago, but we’ve had so much rain I haven’t been able to spray.  We also lost several bushes over the winter that need to be dug up, and others need to be trimmed.

The list goes on, but I won’t bore you with everything.

Last week before everyone hunkered down, the oldest son and I saw Ben Affleck’s new movie, The Way Back.  Affleck turned in a fantastic performance, and the story contained both comedic moments with the high school boys he coached and heartfelt situations involving his struggle with alcohol addiction and grief over the loss of a child.  We’d both recommend it.

Have a great week and wash those hands!

Subject A36 Features #YA #SciFi #Dystopia

Happy Friday 13th!  Some people may be wary of these Fridays, but when you have a son born on a Friday 13th and a black cat, I think they only bring good things my way.

Subject A36 has been featured on a couple of blogs recently, and I wanted to include the links here.  The first was an interview with sci-fi and fantasy author Phoebe Darqueling about world-building HERE.  While you’re there, take a look at Phoebe’s books.  Her latest release is No Rest for the Wicked, a historical fantasy novel.

The second came as a wonderful surprise to me on this dreary Friday morning.  I’m Featured On the Reef at Sarah Brentyn’s blog HERE.  If you haven’t read her books of short fiction/flash fiction, don’t deprive yourself any longer.  What Sarah conveys in so few words is astounding.  Also being a lover of chocolate, cheese, and wine, she’s good people.

The Scout: Dark Crossings by D.L. Cross #bookreview #scifi #aliens

The aliens have landed. The humans are panicking. The scouts have been sent.

J’s mission is clear — find an alien outpost, observe, report back. Simple enough. It’s what he’s trained to do. But he’s always worked with his team, never as a party of one. Now he’s been sent out alone to blindly navigate a dense, dark forest until he finds his target. The dynamics are foreign to him, the stakes never higher. Resources are scarce. Comms are down.

And he’s found the enemy.

J is shocked when everyone’s true allegiances are revealed. And the consequences of betrayal will be deadly.

I’ve always been a fan of alien stories, and The Gate by this author was a five star read for me.  When I learned of this short story set within that world, I was anxious to get my hands on it while waiting for book two of the Astral Conspiracy series.

First, let me say The Scout stands on its own and prior knowledge of The Gate isn’t required; however, this novella is enough of a taste to whet your appetite and make you curious about the alien invasion taking place in that book.  Although a quick read, the author did a fantastic job at making me care about J.  I felt his loneliness and sense of betrayal from both his own people and the aliens.  By the end, I wanted to continue with his story – but maybe that will be an option in the future.  A reader can hope.  Now, I’ll have to return to impatiently awaiting book two of the Astral Conspiracy.

 

The Tomato Quest (Chasing the Romantics #2) by D.G. Driver #bookreview #fairytale #TuesdayBookBlog

Dash and Lillian are in love, but her wealthy father won’t permit them to be married because Dash is not a suitable match. He is nothing but the son of the family’s gardener. To be rid of the young man, Lillian’s father claims that the only way Dash could ever earn Lillian’s hand in marriage is to find his fortune in the time it takes a basket of fresh tomatoes to rot. Naturally, Sir Barrymore isn’t serious about this challenge, but Dash sees it as his only chance to win the hand of the woman he loves. He leaves immediately on a quest to find a way to complete this impossible task. Meanwhile, Lillian is doing her best to make her parents postpone her engagement to someone else in order to give Dash time to return. It is a whirlwind fairy tale adventure full of danger, cunning, magic, true love, and tomatoes.

Although I’ve never been a huge fairy tale fan, I’ve enjoyed the original stories in this series.  The Tomato Quest can be easily read in an hour or so, and I finished it in an afternoon over Christmas.  It’s a sweet tale containing star-crossed lovers who are determined to be together despite the objections of their parents and the expectations of society.  After being handed a near impossible challenge, Dash doesn’t have a clear-cut plan for success.  He encounters one roadblock after another, yet he shoulders on, and you have to admire his tenacity.  In the beginning, I wasn’t completely convinced Lillian was all in, but she proved me wrong.  Her actions in defying her parents gave me some chuckles.

If you’re a fairy tale fan or a fan of sweet romances, I recommend giving this series a try.  I somehow missed this novella when it was first published, and the author was gracious enough to provide me a copy for review.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#SubjectA36 Sequel, Critique Groups, and Discerning Eaters

Now that Subject A36 has been released, it’s time to focus on the sequel.  I attempted NaNo (and epically failed), but knew I wouldn’t win this time.  My goal was to check in with my characters and hear their thoughts three months after Subject A36 ended, which is where the sequel picks up.  They told me in around 9K words.  Today, I start my own kind of NaNo.  My plan is to re-read what I’ve already written – I haven’t opened the file since November – and go from there.  I’ve been jotting down ideas and have a good bit of the story in my head, but it’s time to strap in and get started.

How many of you belong to critique groups or have a critique partner?  I’ve never had one, but SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) started a chapter locally several months ago, and I’m meeting with my group for the first time in a couple weeks.  Which is another reason I need to get down to business with the new book.  Neither of the other two writes YA or reads YA to my knowledge, so I don’t know if that will be a factor, but I’m eager to see where this goes.

Hubby and I just finished season 3 of Jon Favreau’s The Chef Show on Netflix.  If you’re a foodie, I recommend it.  The first season, some of his guests were Marvel actors he’s directed.  When it comes to food, there are four basic things I don’t care for – mustard (the smell makes me sick), mayo, peppers, and onions.  Now, imagine you’re me in a restaurant perusing the menu.  Trust me when I say those four ingredients are usually included in about 80% of the offerings.  Many times, onions aren’t even listed as an ingredient, so I always have to ask.  While watching The Chef Show as yet more peppers and onions were added to a dish, I remarked to hubby how it seems like chefs could be a bit more creative and not rely on those four things so often.  He disagreed, of course – he’s a fan of all four.  Maybe I should issue a personal challenge to chefs everywhere to create more dishes for people like me.  We’re discerning, not picky.

Happy Reading and Writing this week!