#BookFest and #ComicCon

I had such a great weekend!  The book festival went well, and I sold a good number of books, made new connections, and met some wonderful readers and authors.  It never gets old talking about books, does it?  One reader and I were discussing how our golfer hubbies can recall what they shot on a certain hole a decade ago, and how crazy that is.  But if you ask a reader about a well-loved book they read years ago, many of them can quote lines and tell you the page it came from – guess it’s not so different.

Here are some pics of my new banner and table setup.  We had cramped quarters.  Unbeknownst to the organizer, the hotel underwent some renovations and had cut the size of the ballroom by half, but it all worked out in the end.  And my table mate never showed, so I was able to spread out.

Hubby and I also saw my oldest son and his girlfriend – always a good time.  After the book fest, I went to Comic-Con with them at Rupp Arena.  I was in nerd heaven!  Some of the costumes were so elaborate and well done – just amazing.  I rode the elevator with Star Wars characters, saw Ghostbusters, Star-Lord, Captain Jack Sparrow – the list goes on.  I also caught a glimpse of Mark-Paul Gosselaar from The Passage.  I’m hoping since he still has the beard, they’re already filming the second season – keeping my fingers crossed.  If you’re a fan of The Office (which I am), here’s a shot of Creed.  I wasn’t able to get pics of Leslie David Baker (Stanley), Kate Flannery (Meredith), or Oscar Nunez (Oscar), but it was fun to see them.

Happy reading and writing this week!

 

The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson #bookreview #YA #scifi

When all hope is gone, how do you survive?

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves. But their solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. 

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

My book club requirement was to read a YA book optioned for movie/TV, and The Sandcastle Empire was snatched up by Paramount before its release date.  And I’d just bought it during a Bookbub promotion a couple of months ago so, an obvious choice.

The beginning of this book is absolutely captivating, and I fell hard for it.  An exciting escape on the beach, explosions, stolen boats with questionable traveling companions – I couldn’t read fast enough.  Once Eden reaches the island – wow.  If you’re a Lost fan, this island will bring back memories.  After one night on the beach, a character is missing – grabbed while everyone slept.  Eden and the other two girls trek through the mysterious jungle in search of her and experience extraordinary occurrences.  Color me enthralled.

Then the storyline ventures into familiar tropes:  insta-love, girls more focused on cute boys than on their fight for survival and appearing helpless – after they’d just braved a life-threatening, danger-filled trek through the jungle without the help of the male persuasion.

The world-building is fantastic, the writing descriptive, and the plot original, if a little predictable in some places.  Overall, I enjoyed the read, but hoped the plot would concentrate more on the science fiction/dystopian aspects of the story as in the first half, rather than introduce distracting romantic elements.

 

Inspection by Josh Malerman #bookreview #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.

J is one of only twenty-six students, all of whom think of the school’s enigmatic founder as their father. J’s peers are the only family he has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know—and all they are allowed to know.

But J suspects that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.

This is my third Malerman book, and I’ve decided his books should come with a guarantee – the plot will be entirely original, and unlike anything you’ve read.

It’s a fascinating premise – raise children from infancy, seclude them from the outside world, educate them at an advanced rate, and control everything in their lives to include what they wear, read, eat, and do in their leisure time.  All while making sure they’re unaware of the opposite sex.  You can’t deny it’s thought-provoking, and would certainly inspire some fascinating book club discussions.  But what happens when the children learn they’ve been lied to their entire lives?  Especially considering their advanced education, maturity, and thought processes?

Even though the childrens’ world is limited, learning it takes a bit of time – it’s bizarre on one level, but practical on another.  Malerman elevates common terminology to sinister levels – ‘the Corner’ and ‘spoiled rotten’ – and the inspections are just downright creepy and disturbing.

D.A.D. and M.O.M. are psychologically demented and unbelievably narcissistic, and the reader is given insight as to how this inhumane experiment came to be.  Some of their scenes are cringe-worthy and profoundly unsettling.

Inspection is more of a slow burn horror novel, then jumps into light speed near the end – and this is an ending you don’t want to miss.  This novel is scheduled for publication April 23rd, 2019.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

#BookFest, Sons, and #AmWatching

I have my first book fest of the year coming up this weekend.  I’ll be at the Lexington Legendary Book Bash this Saturday, April 23rd, from 10am to 4pm.  I always enjoy these events – meeting readers and other authors, catching up with authors I’ve met at other events.  These are my people.  If you’re in the area, stop by!  As a bonus, my oldest son lives in Lexington, KY, so hubby and I can spend some time with him and his girlfriend over the weekend – yay!

Speaking of my sons, the oldest lives a couple of hours away, and he’s more of a texter than a caller.  The other attends college in the town where we live, but lives on campus – we rarely see him.  Yesterday, the oldest calls me and the youngest shows up at the house to pick up something.  Wonderful, right?  It’s at the same time.  If they talked to each other more, I’d swear they’d planned it.

This has been a Netflix weekend for me.  On Friday, I got a double surprise when new episodes of Arrested Development and Queer Eye (love those guys) dropped.  Last night, I made the ultimate sacrifice and DVR’d The Walking Dead to watch Triple Frontier, and Netflix original with Ben Affleck and Charlie Hunnam, with hubby.  I was a huge Sons of Anarchy fan, and I’ve missed seeing Charlie Hunnam on the screen.  Check out the movie if you have time – it’s definitely worth watching.

Happy reading and writing this week!

 

WWW Wednesdays: 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 reading The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee.  This is my first time reading this author, but I’ve heard good things about her books.  I’m enjoying the different take on magic in this story.

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Just this past weekend, I finished The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman.  Besides having a gorgeous cover, the world-building is spectacular, and this town holds some dark secrets.  A captivating read.

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

Based on reviews around the blogosphere, I can’t wait to get to this next book – Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan.

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.. 

Black Bird of the Gallows (Black Birds of the Gallows #1) by Meg Kassel #bookreview #YA #paranormal #TuesdayBookBlog

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

I bought this book several months ago during a Bookbub special.  The cover is stunning, and the original paranormal premise grabbed me.

It was refreshing to read a paranormal novel that didn’t involve the usual werewolves or vampires (although I’ve read vampires are making a comeback, and I can’t wait).  The Harbingers, who signal death is coming and feed off the energy, and Bee Keepers, who house poisonous bees that cause mental instability, are morbid and add a nice degree of creepiness to the story.  The Harbingers turning into black birds are just icing on the cake.

The brief description on the Bookbub email didn’t imply this novel was so heavy on romance, so I was a bit disappointed, but that’s my fault for not checking the expanded description on Amazon before buying it.  The relationship between Reece and Angie falls into standard paranormal trope – sweet, but insta-love and pretty predictable.

I thought the relationship between Angie and her father was done exceptionally well.  She’d been raised by a drug addicted mother who was estranged from Angie’s father, and he’d been searching for Angie for years, only reuniting with her upon the death of her mother.

Although more romance than I usually prefer, this was an intriguing read that held my interest, and one I’d recommend to fans of paranormal romance.

#Unplugging, #AmWriting, and #ThePassage

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I’d have some extra writing time coming up, and I was determined not to waste it.  After reading a post about unplugging by Mae Clair at The Story Empire, I decided to give it a try.  Friends, I’m now a firm believer that unplugging makes me a more productive and creative person.

Over a weekend, I refrained from checking email and social media of any kind.  I never opened a browser, and it was freeing and liberating.  I’ve struggled with this WIP, hitting one roadblock after another, but in those two days epiphanies were had, word counts increased substantially, plots twists created, and character motivations revealed.  It’s like I was possessed by a totally different writer.  If you haven’t tried this, give it a shot and see what happens.

Is anyone else watching The Passage?  I read the series by Justin Cronin a few years back, and wondered how the adaptation for television would go.  After The Walking Dead, it’s now my favorite show.  It’s been several years since I read the first book, so I can’t tell you how closely it’s sticking to it, but the story line is totally compelling, with some nail-biting scenes.  The talented young actor who plays Amy is the perfect blend of adorable, clever, and calculating.  She does a fantastic job.  The season finale is this week, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s renewed for next season.

Happy reading and writing this week!