Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Cover Reveal: Ever Touched by Erin Zarro

Happy Monday, squiders! I know I don’t normally post on Mondays, but I wanted to share the cover for the third book in Erin Zarro’s science fantasy series, Ever Touched. (I have read an advanced copy and can confidently say it is an interesting addition to the series.)

Ever Touched cover

Tada! And here’s the blurb:
One secret remembered, another forgotten…which one will explode first?

Brianna has two problems: she cannot remember her past, and she astrally projects to another woman who has predictions tortured out of her. As a result, she is lonely and feels distanced from her co-workers — the only family she has ever known — the Fey Touched Hunters. She is their intelligence gatherer, and her episodes are interfering with her ability to do her job.

When Fey Touched Hunter Cobra, her friend, finds her alone and injured from an episode, she accepts his help. But she’s terrified of doctors and of being thought mentally ill, so she refuses to tell him what’s wrong or let him take her to get medical help. Still, Cobra continues to help and protect her. They find themselves falling in love.

But Cobra, too, has a secret that could rip their fragile bond apart. 

When Brianna discovers through her episodes that someone has plans to destroy the Fey Clans, the Fey Touched decide to put their hatred aside and help them. But it’s not just a matter of someone with a grudge: there are other, more powerful players — beings thought to be legend.

As they unravel the mystery, Brianna’s episodes become more frequent and more dangerous until she is faced with a choice. To find the mystery girl and help the Fey Clans, she must risk opening herself up to the Hunters and to Cobra, and put her own life on the line. But is she prepared for the answers she’ll find?

Ever Touched will be available in early May, though you can pick up the first two books, Fey Touched and Grave Touched now.

Hope you have a lovely week, Squiders!

Guest Post: Realms of Edenocht by DS Johnson

Good morning, Squiders! Today I’ve got a guest post from DS Johnson, who currently has a tour going to promote her fantasy novel, Realms of Edenocht.

Realms of Edenocht cover

Shazmpt has been prepared his whole life to complete the prophecy; however until recently, he was unaware of his true identity as a powerful war wizard.

Hidden on an island in a time realm not his own, he must now search for ancient relics in order to stop the growing evil in the world. All he wanted was to hunt in his beloved forest, but is thrown into a world of sea serpents, dungeons, enchanted castles, miniature men, and air buffs.

Driven by duty and hindered by self-doubt, he is sent on a quest to unite the magical realms once more. He must learn to harness his good and evil powers, but will he survive the shadow…?

Bio:

A little about me, first I want to tell you a story, about a young girl who thought she was dumb. Yes, in the first, second, and third grades this little girl, was in the ‘Resource’ program or ‘Chapter 8’ as I have also heard it called. Even though she was then put in the regular class, she knew all too well by then she was not a smart child. All the way through high school this girl struggled. She graduated with a glorious 2.9. Yes, it was heart breaking for those little numbers to reflect the great struggle and all the efforts she had put forth.

She went on to start beauty school, figuring she wasn’t college material. Suddenly, she learned that she wasn’t dumb after all. She was what is called a kinesthetic learner or ‘hands on’ learner. She LOVED it. She went on to do very well, for many years. Until, life got complicated. She had five children, a husband, and a disabled mother who now required constant care. While contemplating how to earn a little bit of extra income, now that doing hair wasn’t an option, a thought came to her, ‘Write a book’ it said.

She replied by looking around and with her finger pointing at herself, she said, “Who me? I graduated high school with a 2.9 remember?”

The little thought came again, “Yes, you. Write a book.”

It so happened, that she had been telling her children nighttime stories for some time, so she did. It took five years to learn from the internet, a few writing classes, some great blogs, a lot of practice, one very good editor and the awesome support of her family. But she did it, and now I bring The Realms of Edenocht Series to you! Yes, that little girl was me, but no longer.

Contact Information

Website: www.dsjohnsonbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/suzanne.johnson.12532

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/44211843-d-s-johnson

Guest Post on Writing Inspiration:

I shared a room with my younger sister growing up and she would make me tell her bed time stories every night until we fell asleep. Everything from pink unicorns to scary witches. When my parents divorced I lost my love for stories because I had to ‘grow up’. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I remembered I loved to tell stories. Now that I was a grown up and lived a long time without the child like imagination, I turned to things I knew about. My husband is a big gamer and he introduced me to the world of MMORPG’s. The vibrance of the characters and races, the fun worlds and story lines started to bring back the love of it all.

It took some time but I learned the craft of storytelling (showing) and now I try to bring in elements of our gaming, old forgotten legends and bits of history. I love watching documentaries and digging up forgotten tales. My writing is character driven so I like to use those close to me to take from their personalities, weakness, flaws and fears to give my characters life. I also like to people watch, so I observe their movements and how they interact with body language to add an extra element of depth to my characters.

I love to listen to soundtrack type music and letting the emotions of the music take me on a journey. I try to imagine my characters inside the same emotion I feel and how they might feel within the same music as it would apply to their situation in the book. Sometimes the scenes flow easily and others not so much but I always seem to have a deeper connection with them. I establish what their likes, dislikes, and such are at the beginning so that when something comes up I already know what they will or won’t do. Little by little my imagination takes shape and I surprise even myself.

~*~*~*~*~

If you’d like to pick up Realms of Edenocht, it’s available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Library Book Sale Finds: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead

Good afternoon, Squiders! Been a while since we’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? My archives tell me last June. In case you were wondering, I’m still working on the stack of books from the library book sales in summer 2015. (We didn’t go to any last summer, which is probably for the best. I think I still have over a dozen.)

You know, I picked up all these lovely science fiction and fantasy books, yet I keep reading the non-scifi/fantasy ones. (Okay, well, I have done seven of these–this is the eighth–and three were scifi/fantasy, so not always.) Admittedly, I just finished a 600-page fantasy novel (American Gods) which probably had a fairly major impact on the decision, which came down to “not fantasy, not huge.”

(And now I have Wintersong back from the library, so I’m back into another fat fantasy novel. Just a two-day mystery cleanser in the middle.)

On to it!

Title: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Publication Year:
1951

Pros: Great mystery, excellent use of misdirection
Cons: Weak, uninteresting beginning, too many characters?

I think I’m out of mysteries from the book sales with this one, though I do have several mythology collections and a book by Edith Wharton, so I can procrastinate on the scifi/fantasy for a bit longer if I’d like.

This is a Poirot novel! I’ve never read one before. I am familiar with Hercule Poirot, of course, because my family watched Masterpiece Mystery on PBS religiously when I was younger. It’s a far cry from the Miss Marple books, as it is in Poirot’s viewpoint (though it does occasionally stray into others) and also has a bit of a weird structure to it.

The book opens with the wrap-up of the trial for the murder of Mrs. McGinty, a charwoman (or cleaning lady) who was seemingly done in because she kept her savings under her floorboards and everyone in town knew it. The case has been rather clean and obvious, and Poirot took no note of the murder at the time because he found it boring. However, the superintendent of the police for the case, having worked with Poirot on a previous case, comes to him and tells Poirot that though he gathered the evidence, he can’t help but think that they’ve convicted the wrong person. He has nothing concrete to go on except his experience as a police officer. Poirot agrees to look into as a favor to a friend.

I found the first couple of chapters pretty dull. The book opens with an older Poirot wandering about being sad about the fact that he can’t eat constantly. Even once the potential mystery is introduced, the book still takes a few chapters to actually get into the act of mystery solving. For a while there, I actually considered putting the book down, which you know I rarely do.

Fortunately, for both me and the book, the pace picked up and got quite interesting after that point. Mrs. Christie throws in a good half dozen potential culprits and expertly keeps your attention off the real one. If I have one complaint, it’s maybe that she had too many suspicious personages in the end, because I’m pretty sure it’s never explained why–oh. No, never mind, I just figured it out. Nothing to see here.

I went to a mystery panel at a writing conference once, and one of the panelist said that you couldn’t know who did it, as the author, until you were most of the way done, because otherwise you’d  subconsciously write in too many clues that would point readers to the killer too early. So you have to write the book as if they all did it, so there’s enough red herrings and clues for any number of people. This book feels like it was written like that.

Anyway! I enjoyed it. I read the whole thing in two days, which I haven’t done in a while. So I’d recommend it, if you like classic mysteries and/or Poirot and/or Agatha Christie and/or if you’re looking to get into reading mysteries, which I also highly recommend.

(I use them as a brain cleanser.)

Read Mrs. McGinty’s Dead? Thoughts on Agatha Christie or Poirot in general?

A Human Element by Donna Galanti

Happy Tuesday, Squiders! Today I’m pleased to introduce you to A Human Element by Donna Galanti, a paranormal suspense novel. Donna’s also giving away a $15 gift card, so stick around at the bottom and enter to win!

A Human Element cover
Evil comes in many forms…

One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him.

Excerpt:

“I am not here to hurt you,” the man said when Ben shrunk into the rock. “I’m going to cut the ropes.”

In a few swift movements he slit the ropes binding Ben, who staggered back. The man caught him and held him up, then ripped off the duct tape.

“Who are you?” Ben’s body trembled from the rush of fear and a fierce headache pounded in his temple.

The man didn’t answer. He bent over one of the dead Samoans and pulled out a wallet. He looked inside and threw it at Ben. “It’s yours.” Then the man led him by the arm down the overgrown road where he handed Ben his clothes from the brush.

“Come on,” the man said. Ben looked back at the dead men sprawled face down. They oozed like two fat walruses sunning themselves in the moonlight. “Don’t worry about them. I’ll dump them later, somewhere they’ll never be found.”

In a daze, Ben followed his savior up the rough road, stumbling behind him in the dim moonlight.

“I’ll take you back to base and you’re on your own,” the man said once they reached his car, parked off the main road. “Don’t speak of this to anyone. Understand?”

Ben nodded and climbed in the car. He looked over at the stranger in black who had saved him. His mammoth biceps flexed as he drove, hunched over the wheel. Ben stared at him, and then a memory flickered. “Why are you following me? Why save me?”

“I’m an interested party. Leave it at that.”

“I can’t. I would have died up there for sure.”

The man didn’t respond.

“Thank you.”

The man looked at Ben. His green eyes glowed in the moonlight that filtered into the car.

“Someday you might not thank me. Someday you might not survive.”

Bio:

Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy (Imajin Books)  and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem (http://project-middle-grade-mayhem.blogspot.com/search/label/Donna Galanti) . She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools.

Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com.

Connect with Donna:

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Purchase books 1 and 2 in the Element Trilogy

Donna will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $15 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Books!

Oh, Squiders, tech/dress rehearsal is kicking my butt. I am getting nothing else done except a ridiculous amount of laundry. I mean, I didn’t even know we owned so many clothes. I think it’s the combination of doing the laundry from the trip (cruise, so mostly summer clothes) plus clothes from before we left (mostly winter clothes, but not really because it’s still unseasonably warm in these parts). Anyway. No one cares about my laundry. I don’t even care about my laundry. It’s just neverending.

Anyway, what this mostly means is that I haven’t figured out anything profound to blog about today. I went and looked at the most popular posts this blog has had, and with the exception of the alpaca poetry (how could you go wrong there?) they’re all things like the Character Archetype or Sub-genre series, and that is more brain than I am willing to go for today.

So, I thought we’d talk about books. I’m about two or three books behind where I want to be for the year (having only successfully completed two books in February) but hopefully I’ll catch up here as soon as the musical is over.

So! Books! I started off the year with science fiction:

  • The Man in the High Castle (1962)
  • Escape Velocity (1983)
  • Unremembered (2013)

I once had a fellow writer say you should never read anything older than five years so you could get a good handle on the market, which is probably true, but I am bad at sticking to that principle, and also sometimes I feel like a lot of the new stuff reads fairly similarly, and I like some variation.

I also picked up some new fantasy books:

  • Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day
  • Wintersong

Both of which are new this year. The first is a more novella-length offering from Seanan McGuire (whom I’ve heard a lot about but have never read before) about the dead and witches in modern society, which had some very interesting worldbuilding. Wintersong I picked up because I went to a workshop in January that talked about taking your favorite stories and changing them to make something new (and also mashing two things together–I got Hamlet and Hawaii 5-0, for an example) and I had started thinking about Labyrinth, which is one of my favorite movies, but hadn’t gotten anywhere with it (see previous posts re: revision). Anyway, long story short (too late), Wintersong deals with the Goblin King and caught my interest since I’d just been pondering this sort of thing, but I had to give it back to the library and don’t find myself much motivated to go and get it again.

And then I ventured out of spec fiction, which happens occasionally:

  • The Calder Game (children’s mystery)
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (contemporary)

The Calder Game is the third in a series that I’ve typically liked, which mixes art history with mystery in a way that’s generally pretty ingenious. (The other two books are Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3.) This one was lacking both on mystery and properly integrating the artist, so it was just sad all the way around. And I read 85% of A.J. Fikry on the plane back from Florida on Monday. It didn’t get too traumatic, which I find is often an issue with contemporary fiction, where someone always seems to die even in the most lighthearted of books, so it was a win for me.

I also read a novella that was written to go along with a mobile game I was playing, but the book was awful. And I haven’t touched the game since I finished it, actually, so I guess that backfired on them.

I’m in the middle of a few books as well:

  • Timebound (science fiction, 2014)
  • American Gods (fantasy, 2001)

I’m actually making pretty good progress on American Gods, which I took with me on the trip, and, hey, it’s working better for me than Gaiman normally does. Timebound it feels like I’ve been on forever. It’s not a bad book–I’m just not drawn back to it very often. I also have a couple of nonfiction books (one random, one writing-related) that I am not really reading, but did start.

How about you, Squiders? Read anything good so far this year? Any recs for me?

2016 Books in Review

It’s that time of year, squiders, where I look back at what I read last year and play with stats (and then, if I have a lot of free time, I make comparisons to previous years!), and then I let you guys look too, because why not.

I keep track of every book I read, as well as their genre, publication year, and how much I liked them (out of 5). Noteworthy this year was that I apparently didn’t read anything too exceptional, because I only had a few books rated 4 or higher, and nothing in the 4.5 or 5 range (except for Howl’s Moving Castle which doesn’t count because it was a re-read).

On to the stats!

Books Read in 2016: 50
Change from 2015: -2

Of those*:
16 were Fantasy
9 were Science Fiction
6 were Romance
5 were Nonfiction
4 were Mystery
2 were General Literature
1 was Chick Lit
1 was Gothic
1 was Historical Fiction
1 was Paranormal
1 was Science Fantasy
1 was a Short Story Collection
1 was Steampunk
1 was a Superhero Tie-in

*Some genre consolidation was done here. YA titles went into the general genre. All subgenres of fantasy or romance, for example, also went into the general genre.

Wow, a little low on mystery last year.

New genre(s)**: chick lit, paranormal, superhero tie-in
Genres I read last year that I did not read this year: ghost story collections, horror, mythology, anthologies

**This means I didn’t read them last year, not that I’ve never read them.

Genres that went up: fantasy, romance
Genres that went down: nonfiction, mystery, general literature, Gothic

32 were my books
17 were library books
1 book was borrowed from friends/family

34 were physical books
16 were ebooks

Way down on library books (I guess my resolution to read my own books worked a bit) and way up on ebooks from previous year(s).

Average rating: 3.46/5

Top rated:
The Dark Days Club (4.2 – historical fantasy)
Sixteen Burdens (4.2 – historical fantasy)
Morning Star (4 – science fiction)
A Little Life (3.9 – general literature)

I don’t normally mention anything under 4, but apparently I was pretty underwhelmed by what I read this year. Nothing too amazing, I guess. Though I did really like The Dark Days Club and I should see when the sequel’s due.

Most recent publication year: 2016
Oldest publication year: 1906
Average publication year: 2004
Books older than 1900: 0
Books newer than (and including) 2012: 28

As you can see, I read a lot more newer stuff this year (more than half!) so all my stats skewed high. Normally my average year is in the ’90s somewhere.

How did your reading go for 2016, squiders? Any books to recommend? What are your goals for 2017? Mine is to read 50 books, as usual.

Captain Hawkins by H. Peter Alesso

Happy Friday, Squiders!

Today it’s my pleasure to introduce Captain Hawkins by H. Peter Alesso.

mediakit_bookcover_captainhawkins

Here’s the blurb:
Jamie Hawkins was living on an obscure planet in the twenty third-century when on one fateful night—his life changed forever. His heroic effort to save the lives of innocent women and children, caught in the cross-fire of war, placed him squarely in the crosshairs of avenging soldiers.

A former marine, Hawkins was stunned when his rescue effort was seen as treachery. Unfairly convicted of treason by a corrupt judge, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor on an infamous penal colony.

Once in prison, Hawkins was mistreated by a paranoid warden, but his courage and perseverance won him the admiration and trust of his fellow convicts. While he was plotting his escape, an enemy attacked the planet—giving this daring warrior his chance. Together with his fellow prisoners, he launched a bold assault and high-jacked an enemy warship.

From then on, the exploits of Captain Jamie Hawkins became legendary.

Excerpt:
The black of night had fallen, but Jamie Hawkins couldn’t sleep. Though the surgeons had patched up his many wounds, the remorseless pain persisted, even now, months after his medical discharge from the Marines.

BAM! BAM! BAM!

Despite his desire to ignore the unwelcomed thundering blows, he answered the door to his country home and found his neighbor, tall scrawny seventeen year old Joshua Morgan, gasping for breath.

“Captain Hawkins, come quick! Come quick, or they’ll all be killed!”

“Who? What are you talking about, Joshua?”

“I’ve just come from the city—it’s a war zone. People are dying,” Joshua’s voice broke. “The hospital is taking care of the wounded and sheltering women and children, but its force shield is buckling.” He finished in a breathless rush, “It’s only a matter of minutes before it fails.”

A troubled frown creased Hawkins’s face. Their mothers had been friends and he had known Joshua since he was born.

Has the boy been drawn into the turmoil? He wondered.

Hawkins had listened to the broadcasts throughout the day, absurd in every detail; demonstrators declared that they were only protesting injustice, while the government insisted the violence was a last resort against rebels.

Which is the greater lie?

Bio:

As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of ten books.

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Pick up the book here!

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway