Thursday, December 31, 2015

In the Box: January 2016 Fresh Fiction Box Not to Miss

I have finally figures out how the months work with the Fresh Fiction box!  Got an email that clearly called this one the January box and the theme was "New Year, New You".   Once again, it contained three prints: Fortune's Secret Heir by Allison Leigh, A Cold Creek Christmas Story & Christmas in Cold Creek by ReaAnne Thayne, and Before by Anna Todd. This month, there were only 3 ebooks: Tempted in Texas by Sara York, Counteract by Tracy Lawson, and Key Change by Barbara Valentin.  I am betting you can figure out which book excites me most!
Swag was almost non-existant this month with a mirror and a Jolly Rancher, but swag is not the reason I get this box.  If you are interested in Fresh Fiction Box Not to Miss, it is $25 a month (you can skip months) for at least one paperback and 3-6 ebooks, along with swag. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

In the Box: December 2015 Awesome Pack Big Kid Pack

Because of the holidays, December's Awesome Pack Big Kid Pack arrived halfway through the month instead of at the end of the month.  The subscription is $44.99 a month and you can choose the Big Kid option (for those without kids - like me), or the Family option.  Their site does not have referral links set up yet, nor can you log into your account yet, but they do have a referral program, so if you do decide after reading my review to try it, I would very much appreciate if you told them you heard about it from me, rickimc [at] aol [dot] com.

For December, the main game was Dungeon Fighter (a $49.99 value) from IELLO.  I love dungeon crawlers, but what makes this game even awesomer is that fact it can be played solo!

Only one small game this time, but Smartrix (a$11.95 value) from FoxMind looks like a fun filler.  I have never heard of FoxMind, but this is part of their Smarter Fun Series.

Lots of collectables and a couple "Something Extra Awesomes"s from referrals.  No surprise that there was a Stars Wars item - Star Wars Micro Comic Collector Pack (a $5.50 value) from Marvel and IDW (yeah, this totally confused me), which says it includes a comic, puzzle card, 3D poster, and 3D glasses.  Not sure if I should open this or not.  I also got a Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass egg from (a $4.99 value) Gacha Tomy.  This I did open and it was Link.  For Something Extra Awesome I received World's Smallest Etch A Sketch (a $5.95 value) and Turbo Mind Twister (a $14.95 value) from FoxMind.  My Awesome Pack swag was the poster again.
This Awesome Pack was another awesome one, especially because of the main game.  Without the "Something Extra Awesome" items, it came in at $72.43 value (with $93.33 the extras), and I paid $44.95, which included shipping. If you would like to subscribe, once again, I ask that you say you heard it from me, rickimc [at] aol [dot] com.  (Please note: as games and collectibles can vary in price based on demand, I tried to take the price from the manufacturers site whenever possible.)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: 12/20-12/26

Dark Hope by Monica McGurk
Dark Rising by Monica McGurk

First Reads from Goodreads
Salvation's Dawn by Joe Jackson
Phantasia by M. U. Riyadad
The Widow by Fiona Barton

Received for Christmas:
The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime by Ree Drummond

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Shawl

Title: The Shawl
Author: Cynthia Ozick
Publisher: Highbridge
ISBN: 9781598877120
Why Read?: For Fun

Thoughts: The Shawl actually comprises two stories, "The Shawl" and its sequel, "Rosa".  "The Shawl" is very short and is just not the type of writing that appeals to me.  "Rosa" was much better (partly because it was much longer and thus more fleshed out all around).  Both, though, were filled with metaphor and simile, almost to the point of supersaturation.

Rating: 3 stars

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Love Letters from Cowboy

Title: Love Letters from Cowboy
Author: Lacy Williams
Publisher: author
ISBN: n/a
Why Read?: Fresh Fiction

Thoughts: This was a sweet romance that was not too romance-y.  It was more about an ex-solider finding her place after loosing an arm and returning home than romance.

Rating: 4 stars

Line to Night Island

Title: Line to Night Island
Author: Robin Wyatt Dunn
Publisher: Smashwords
ISBN: 9781940830018
Why Read?: Early Review

Thoughts: A very fast, surreal read that seems to meld stream-of-consciousness (though not the author but the main character) and slipstream.  I am not sure I got everything out of it I was supposed to. 

Rating: 3 stars

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Living a Life That Matters

Title: Living a Life That Matters
Author: Ben Lesser
Publisher: Remembrance
ISBN: n/a
Why Read?: For Fun

Thoughts: While this is still as horrific as any tale about the Holocaust, Lesser's style is very readable, and even humorous in spots, making it a very approachable read for all ages.

Rating: 5 stars

The World of Musical Comedy

Title: The World of Musical Comedy
Author: Stanley Green
Publisher: Barnes
ISBN: n/a
Why Read?: For Fun

Thoughts: If you are looking for a rather comprehensive history of musical theatre in the first half of the 20th century, this is a great resource.  However, it does lose a little as it gets closer to its 1962 publication date.

Rating: 3 stars

Stacking the Shelves: 12/13-12/19

First Reads from Goodreads
From Africanus by Matthew Jordan Storm
Slices by D.B. Woodling

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Gray Lady of Long Branch

Title: The Gray Lady of Long Branch
Author: Maura Satchell
Publisher: Smashwords
ISBN: 9780985709396
Why Read?: Early Review

Thoughts: The concept of this book - an somewhat interconnected series of stories told from a vacation home's point of view - was interesting, but most of the stories had no real story elements other than character development, somewhat.

Rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In the Box: November 2015 Awesome Pack Big Kid Pack

November's Awesome Pack Big Kid Pack may not have been as chock-full as October's, but it is perfect for all the upcoming holiday events with family.  The subscription is $44.99 a month and you can choose the Big Kid option (for those without kids - like me), or the Family option.  Their site does not have referral links set up yet, nor can you log into your account yet, but they do have a referral program, so if you do decide after reading my review to try it, I would very much appreciate if you told them you heard about it from me, rickimc [at] aol [dot] com.

For October, the main game was Patchwork ($25.oo value) from Mayfair Games. This is a two-player game that sounds easy and fun, and one I have had my eye on.

All of the smaller games this month came from Patch.  Golf (a $7.99 value) is a deck of golf-themed cards that can be used to play Fore! and Mulligan as well as regular card games.  Malarky (a $7.99 value) is a bluffing game, which should be a lot of fun with family.  Farkle Nano (a $5.99 value) is a keychain-sized version of the classic Farkle, which I had just been introduced to days before receiving my November Awesome Pack.

My other item this month was a classic Wooly Willy magnetic activity (a $1.99 value), also from Patch.  Not sure I will use this, but it does contain some great nostalgia.  For Awesome Pack goodies, I received a fun poster..

This was definitely, so far, the most awesome Awesome Pack!  Not the highest value Awesome Pack, but it still came in at $48.96 value, which is just over the $44.95, which included shipping. While this is probably the least value I have received in an Awesome Park, these are all very fun games..  If you would like to subscribe, once again, I ask that you say you heard it from me, rickimc [at] aol [dot] com.  (Please note: as games and collectibles can vary in price based on demand, I tried to take the price from the manufacturers site whenever possible.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Frosted Blood

Frosted Blood
by Larry Pelliteri
published by author
ISBN 978-0-692-28181
Why read? Review/First Reads (received copy from author in exchange for an honest review)

Larry Pellitteri mixes a lot of speculative fiction genres in his debut novel, Frosted Blood, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.  No matter the genre, Pellitteri delivers on the non-stop action.

High school senior Michael Saxon is used to being a loner ever since his parents mysteriously vanished into the side of the hill when he was seven.  Since then, he has spent his life learning about crystals, trying to identify the one his parents left with him.  His research draws the attention of Enbright, the environmental corporation for whom his parents worked for, who offers him a paid internship right out of high school.  He is not the only teenager hired on; there is also the beautiful Emma who moves into the same house he is renting, bring along her younger sister, Sophie.  Soon Michael, with the help of the sisters and his only friend, Christopher, are discovering that Enbright is not all it appears and is deep in the world of drugs, clones, and diabolical plots to take over the world.

Once the exposition of Michael’s early life is over, Pellitteri never lets up the pace.  So many twists and turns are packed into 300 pages that it is hard to keep track of everything, especially the whys behind many actions, although I feel some motivations are more on Pellitteri’s part to keep the story moving.  This, unfortunately, leaves the reader in a state of confusion, which makes it hard to really get into the story and suspend disbelief, which is greatly needed.  One thing that would have helped with much of this would be to make Michael and his friends a few years older.

If you are look for some non-stop sci-fi/fantasy action and are willing to totally suspend your disbelief, then Frost Blood can be a fun read.  I would be interested to see what Pellitteri turns out next as he continues to refine his writing style.

Rating 2/5

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: 12/6-12/12

Bought on Amazon:
Three Promises by Bishop O'Connell

The Red Badge of Courage

Title: The Red Badge of Courage
Author: Stephen Crane
Publisher: Recorded Books
ISBN: 9781449879464
Why Read?: For Fun

Thoughts: This is a very poetic look at the Civil War, or actually war in general, but it absolutely could not keep my interest.

Rating: 2 stars

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Loathly Lady

Title: The Loathly Lady
Author: John Lawson
Publisher: Dragonwell
ISBN: 9781940076034
Why Read?: Early Review

Thoughts: A great high fantasy, except there were a few point that made no sense.  First, the title does not really work; second, the beginning starts with someone telling a story, but that gets forgotten about a quarter of the way through; finally, there was a secondary character who does some strange things but his motive is never explained.

Rating: 3 stars

Numero Zero

Title: Numero Zero
Author: Umberto Eco
Publisher: Recorded Books
ISBN: 978-1-4906-9424-5
Why Read?: First Reads

Thoughts: This was well-written and started right in on the thriller, but then it became more about the politics and manipulation behind the newspaper business with a plausible conspiracy theory thrown in, but not much plot.

Rating: 3 stars

Saturday, December 5, 2015

In the Box: November 2015 Fresh Fiction Box Not to Miss

This was another great Fresh Fiction box !  Once again, it contained three prints: Denial by Lisa Renee Jones, Dukes are Forever by Anna Harrington, and Murder Under the Mistletoe by Terri Reed. This month, there were 4 ebooks again (actually 5, since one had two copies - one for me and one for a friend).  I received The Business of Love by Anna James, Always on My Mind by Kelsey Browning & Nancy Naigle, Joy to the Worlds by Maia Chance, Janina A. Southard, Raven Oak, & G. Clemans, and Teased to Death by Gina LaManna.  I am most excited about Joy to the Worlds, which is a holiday anthology of speculative fiction, but it only came as an epub.

The swag was more to my liking this month than last.  The candy canes were smashed, but that's OK.  The foam snowman ornament was fun to put together and the kleenex are always useful.  I love the magnet, but I could take or leave the bracelet.

Another great Fresh Fiction Box Not to Miss.  While this month had 3 paperbacks, each box will have at least one paperback and 3-6 ebooks, along with swag, for $25 a month (you can skip months). 

Stacking the Shelves: 11/22-12/5

First Reads from Goodreads
Bullshit by Mark Peters

Monday, November 30, 2015

Death by Scones

Title: Death by Scones
Author: Elizabeth Ashby & Jennifer Fischetto
Publisher: Gemma Halliday
ISBN: 9781940371764
Why Read?: Fresh Fiction

Thoughts: Although there is a flaw with the premise of the murder, this is a thoroughly delightful cozy from beginning to end.  Riley is a great character with realistic issues and a great fashion sense, and that just added to the fun.

Rating: 4 stars

Thursday, November 26, 2015

In the Box: Fresh Fiction Box Not to Miss Limited Edition Quarterly Box - Christmas

Fresh Fiction decided to do limited edition quarterly boxes on top of their monthly subscription.  Although I am not the biggest fan of Christmas romances, there were two items that had me jumping on this box. 

The announcement said it would contain four print books and an ebook (one for me, one for a friend) of an exclusive short story collection from Gemma Halliday Publishing.  Fresh Fiction has got me addicted to the cozies from GHP, so I had to have this.  The Holiday Mystery Short Story Bundle contains nine stories, all of which I am totally excited to read.  As far as the four print books go, it ended up being five paperbacks and a hardcover:  Unwrapped by Katie Lane, A Ranger for the Holidays by Allie Pleiter, An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids, Snowbound at Christmas by Debbie Mason, Angels in the Snow by Rexanne Becnel, and A Knights Bridge Christmas by Carla Neggers.

The other item that made me want the box was the Baby Vixen, who is just so adorable!  Author swag was a magnet from  Tricia Skinner (the only non-Christmas item) and a poster calendar from Chanta Rand.  The box also included a snowman Pez dispenser and some hot cocoa.

This quarterly box from Fresh Fiction Box Not to Miss ended up being a lot of fun.  It did cost $35 plus shipping, but the retail value of the print books alone, most of which have just been released, comes to $50.94, so that a good deal!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Title: Eigengrau
Author: Dawn Pearson
Publisher: Booktrope
ISBN: n/a
Why Read?: Early Review

Thoughts: These poems are easy to read and understand, some even with humor, like the ones featuring Bootsy.

Rating: 3 stars

Divided We Fall

Title: Divided We fall
Author: Trent Reedy
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: n/a
Why Read?: For Fun

Thoughts: The biggest part of what made this YA dystopian so compelling was how plausible it was.  While I did not agree with all of Danny's decisions and am normally not a fan of military fiction, this really made me see the story from all sides.

Rating: 5 stars

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Amazing Mr. Howard

Title: The Amazing Mr. Howard
Author: Kenneth W. Harmon
Publisher: JournalStone
ISBN: 9781942712138
Why Read?: Early Review

Thoughts: This is a deep and twisted vampire/serial killer story.  The problem I had was how destable the lead dectective was, which made it neigh on impossible to root for him.  I was rather indifferent towards Mr. Howard himself.

Rating: 3 stars

Stacking the Shelves: 11/15-11/21

First Reads from Goodreads:
Cat's Maw by Brooke Burgess
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco
Spell Breaker by Joni Parker

Swapped for on My Subscription Addiction:
The Complete Dracula by Bram Stoker, Leah Moore, John Reppion, & Colton Worley

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: 11/8-11/14

First Reads from Goodreads:
The House by Christina Lauren
Intentions by Pamela Johnson

Swapped for on My Subscription Addiction:
The Coins of Zakynthos by David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf, Marc Gaffen, Kyle McVey, & Jose Malaga

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Title: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Publisher: Tantor
ISBN: 9781400158591
Why Read?: For Fun

Thoughts: Everyone knows the story, which makes the book a little hard to categorize.  Thought of as horror, it is more of a Victorian mystery - complete with the immense amount of talking common to Sherlock Holmes.

Rating: 3 stars