Monday, June 29, 2015

First Love

Title: First Love
Editor: Denise Daniella Darcy
Publisher: Smashwords
ISBN: 9781554228317
Why Read?: Early Review
Challenges: n/a

Thoughts: This seems to be labeled YA in quite a few places, but it is definitely not!  Maybe NA, but really just contemporary, steamy romance with hardly any plot (and what little there was left me scratching my head).

Rating: 1 star

Saturday, June 27, 2015

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

The second month of the Fresh Fiction monthly box, was a another pretty good one.  The paperback I received was A Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine, which is not really my type of novel, but I'll try it.  The ebooks I received links/codes for were Hex by Mackenzie L. McGuire, Rescued by the Buccaneer by Normandie Alleman, Death by Scones by Elizabeth Ashby & Jennifer Fischetto, The Taming of the Bachelor by Jane Porter, These Boots Are Made for Butt-Kickin' by Kalan Chapman Lloyd, and Again, Alabama by Susan Sands.  Of all the books I received, I am most excited for Death by Scones, which is another Danger Cove cozy mystery (received Secret of the Painted Lady last month and am loving it!), and Hex, which looks like a YA paranormal, which is definitely my type of book.

The swag was actually more useful this time, and kinda fit with their "Vacation Staycation" them.  I was actually the most excited about the bottle gripper because mine had died, but bottle opener, luggage tag, and good-sized pouch also come in handy. Haven't tried the lollipop yet, but that was the one item I could take or leave.

Not a bad second Fresh Fiction Box Not to Miss.  I have a lot of books, so it was great to find a sub that focuses on ebooks. Each box will have a paperback and 3-6 ebooks, along with swag, for $25 a month (you can skip months). 

Dead Ground

Title: Dead Ground
Editor: Chris Amies
Publisher: Monico
ISBN: n/a
Why Read?: Early Review
Challenges: n/a

Thoughts: There was some great stuff going for this novel - an ancient curse, a historical setting, adventure - but it just dragged a bit in places.

Rating: 3 stars

Stacking the Shelves: 6/21-6/27

First Reads from Goodreads:
Duplicity by N. K. Traver

Bought on Amazon:
In Midnight's Silence by T. Frohock

Bought at Church:
The Accent by Binu Edathumparambil


by Michael J. Bowler
published by YoungDudes
ISBN 978-0-9946675-1-9
Why read? Review
Challenges: n/a

Even when writing immersed in a genre, Michael J. Bowler manages to deliver a strong message.  Spinner may be a YA horror about evil cats, a hypnotic music box, and other strange mysteries, but it is also a tale of acceptance and strength.

Alex has known he is different his whole life.  Not only is he confined to a wheelchair with a severe learning disorder, he also has a bizarre talent for taking away the pain of others.  His house mom makes sure he knows he is a freak, as do most of the kids at school.  The only people who truly accept him for who he is are the other boys in his small Special Ed class, especially his best friend, Roy.  In class is the one place that Alex truly feels accepted, but all of that changes when his teacher is mysteriously murdered, clawed to death by cats, just like Alex dreamed.  Alex starts having more dreams after that, also going into bizarre blackouts when he hears a haunting music box.  Now Alex and his friends must figure out where the cats have come from, what Alex’s dreams mean, and who is their new teacher, really.  With plenty of forces against them, both internal and external, the boys have plenty of obstacles to overcome if they are going to save Alex and themselves.

Bowler does an amazing job of creating characters who might seem like outcasts and making them real instead of generic stereotypes (except for some overuse of words that I, having worked with teenagers, have never heard a teen use).  The strength of his characters, in this case Alex and Roy, really endears them to the readers.  Both boys have a lot of things against them, but they know they are strong in their own way, and use that to their advantage.  And here is a big thing, especially for teenagers – neither is afraid to ask for help.  Mix these strong characters with an eerie mystery and you have a teen thriller with amazing depth.

Spinner is a refreshing addition to the YA horror genre.  Michael J. Bowler pulls influences from novels from the heyday of teen thrillers and mixes them with current issues to great one heck of a read.

Rating 4/5

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Precious One

Title: The Precious One
Editor: Marisa de los Santos
Publisher: William Morrow
ISBN: 978-0-06-167089-3
Why Read?: Book Reporter
Challenges: n/a

Thoughts: A great book that really makes you think about the title.  Usually when there are two narrators, I find myself liking one over the other, but not so with this book.  I could relate the most to Taisy, and loved that she was trying to undercover the "mystery" that is her father, but Willow made this feel almost like a YA novel, which is my favorite genre.  This combined so many elements that I love, that I could not help greatly enjoying reading this.

Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Random Acts

Title: Random Acts
Editor: Mia Kerick
Publisher: Dreamspinner
ISBN: 9781632163653
Why Read?: For Fun
Challenges: n/a

Thoughts: This was almost like two separate - yet related - stories.  However, Kerick's writing is engaging and the title is just perfect.

Rating: 4 stars

This Is What They Want

Title: Nextwave Agents of H.A.T.E.: This Is What They Want
Editor: Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel
ISBN: 0-7851-1909-4
Why Read?: Book Club
Challenges: n/a

Thoughts: Fun, but nothing spectacular.  Art is not really my style, and none of the characters stood out to me, either.

Rating: 3 stars

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Title: Sorrow
Editor: John Lawson
Publisher: Drollerie
ISBN: n/a
Why Read?: Early Review
Challenges: Witches and Witchcraft

Thoughts: The beginning of this was a bit disjointed, but once the plot really started rolling, everything fell into place.  Faina, however, was not the most well-rounded character, but Lord Ash was full of depth.

Rating: 3 stars


Title: Midnight
Editor: Mari Adkins
Publisher: Apex
ISBN: 9781937009236
Why Read?: Early Review
Challenges: Witches and Witchcraft

Thoughts: So many things in this just did not make sense - almost-inappropriate relationships, cappuccino machines in a small town mid-80s grocery, an bizarre love triangle or two - but the biggest problem was the plot was just not engaging.  It was hard to follow and lacked a sense of cohesiveness.

Rating: 1 star

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

All Our Yesterdays

Title: All Our Yesterdays
Editor: Cristin Terrill
Publisher: Tantor
ISBN: 9781452668963
Why Read?: For Fun
Challenges: n/a

Thoughts: There were parts of this that I really enjoyed once I got into it, but as an audio book, it was very hard to get into at first, especially as the whispers were almost inaudible and the shouts spiked badly.  It was also odd that I was rooting for Em but I liked Marina's voice better.

Rating: 3 stars

Bitter Bronx

Bitter Bronx
by Jerome Charyn
published by Liveright
Why read? Review
Challenges: n/a

I will admit that I have a love/hate relationship with Jerome Charyn’s writing.  I really enjoy his more contemporary stories, but I find his historical fiction tedious.  While the settings of a few stories in Bitter Bronx do technically fall into the historical fiction category, all thirteen stories were engaging and, as the title suggests, bitter.

Out of the thirteen stories in Bitter Bronx, my favorite was “Archy and Mehitabel”, quite possibly because the author inserted a version of himself into the story.  I also greatly enjoyed “Milo’s Last Chance” and “Major Leaguer”, but of which were not quite as bitter as the rest, or at least not in my interpretation.  A few of the stories even loosely tied together.  “Adonis” and “Archy and Mehitabel” were both about a teen model for a company with mob ties.  “Silk & Silk”, “Little Sister”, and “Marla” were all about a successful lawyer named Marla Silk, although a few aspects of her life changed from story to story.

Bitter Bronx is a wonderful collection that showcases the better parts of Jerome Charyn’s writing style.  While these stories are bitter, they are not utterly depressing, and make for great reads either individually or together.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: 5/31-6/13

For possible review (on Bookloons):
The Lightning Stones by Jack Du Brul

First Reads from Goodreads:
Arabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut by Hamilton Wende
The Gray Effect by Nick Wisthoff
Out of Synch by Warren Firschein
Brother, Frankenstein by Michael Bunker
Angel to the Rescue by Petie McCarty
Out from the Underworld by Heather Siegel

LibraryThing Early Review:
Eigengrau by Dawn Pearson

Bought on Amazon:
The Mechanical Theater by Brooke Johnson

Sunday, June 7, 2015

In the Box: May 2015 Awesome Pack

This post is a little late, but May's Awesome Pack Big Kid Pack totally delivered once again! 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 May, the main game was Akrotiri (a $29.99 value) from Z-Man Games. I was first introduced to Z-Man Games by one of our local comic book stores, and they do make awesome stuff.  Akrotiri is a two-player game, which is perfect since it is just my husband and me, where you play ancient Greeks exploring the Aegean Sea.

Instead of any collectibles this month, everything else I received was game-related.  While it was not the main board game, the most expensive items this month was a special edition Firefly RPG Rulebook from 2013 GenCon (a $49.99 for the non-special edition version.  While I am not a tabletop RPGer, I have friends who are who also love Firefly.  Next up is another Z-Man game, Pocket Battles Fantasy #1 Orcs vs Elves (a $14.99 value).  I am super excited for this!  It is another 2-player game (score!) and it is the first of the fantasy series, and I love fantasy!  Last up was an expansion pack for Munchkin, Munchkin Gets Promoted (a $4.95 value).  I love Munchkin, but I do not have the original version, so I will have to wait to get that before I can play this (this is my fault because I did check Munchkin on my original survey because I had a version of it).

While April's Big Kid Awesome Pack was a little lighter than some other months, it was no less awesome!  The items actually added up t0 an amazing $99.92 value, and I got it all for $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.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Mentor Book of Short Plays

Title: The Mentor Book of Short Plays
Editor: Richard H. Goldstone & Abraham H. Lass
Publisher: Mentor
ISBN: n/a
Why Read?: For Fun
Challenges: n/a

Thoughts: If you are looking for a good collection of modern one acts written up until mid-20th century, this is a pretty good collection.  Of course this contained the standard "Riders to the Sea" by John M. Synge, but it also contains such gems as "The Browning Version" by Terence Rattigan, "Thunder on Sycamore Street" by Reginald Rose, and "A Trip to Czardis" by Edwin Granberry

Rating: 4 stars