Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Release: That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza

That Crazy Perfect Someday
by Michael Mazza
-Women's Fiction, Sports
Amazon | Goodreads

The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world's wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she's intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow. Conflicts compound as Mafuri's personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.

EXCERPT:

Google “Mafuri Long.”

Click video.

And voila!

That’s me, surfing the monster of all waves—an eighty-foot beast. I’m like a tiny knife slicing through a gigantic wall of blue that’s rearing up behind me, a total H2O Everest. Scale? Picture me standing next to an eight-story building. In 2023, I became the first “chick” to win the Nike XX Big Wave Classic: one of the few women in history to surf a wave that big, the only one to do it officially. I followed Daddy’s advice before we left the dock for the open sea. “Don’t ride that horse with half your ass,” he said, sending me off with a fist bump. “Go after it, cowgirl.”

The freaky part is that the wave is a hundred miles off the San Diego coast in the middle of nowhere. The surf spot’s called the Cortes Bank, where the fish around you are the size of Volkswagens and very big things can swallow you whole. The only way out there is in a decent-size boat, and the only way to be saved after a serious wipeout is to be rescued by that decent-size boat or plucked up by a Coast Guard helicopter, which one big-wave legend experienced firsthand after a three-wave hold-down. The bank sits just under the water and can kick up epic hundred-footers. It’s one of the biggest, scariest waves in the world, and I mastered it: little five foot three sandy-haired me.

You’d usually have to wait until winter for a wave like that, but weather patterns are so crazy with the globe heating up the last few decades, it’s monumental—like, who can predict? I had no clue how ginormous the wave was. I mean, nobody anticipated it—not my surf coach, the safety team, the other surfers, or the pilots in the choppers circling above—but a tiny voice inside and the never-ending elevator ride up confirmed it was going to be borderline cataclysmic. When the wave hit its peak, I was staring down a seventy-five-foot vertical drop, fear shrieking inside me. Ride or die, that’s what I thought. Like, seriously, flinch on a wave like that and it’s bye-bye girly-girl. I went supersonic after that, faster than I had ever gone before, my legs feeling the board’s feedback full force, completely in the zone, focused, the entire ocean an angry fist beneath me . . . Then I pulled out of the wave.

When the video hit social, it ping-ponged around the world, out into space, and back again, sending up a collective girl-power supercheer, pretty much locking up a ton of cash in surf-sponsorships and placing me on every news feed from here to Alice Springs. Jax—that's what people call my dad—says I have a gift. He says he noticed it the first time I stood up on a wave in Sendai, Japan, back when I was five and we were surfing together, years before that tsunami leveled the place.

The sponsorship money let me set my marine biology degree aside for a while. I couldn't find a job in the field anyway. Let me restate that: I was offered one at SeaLand San Diego straight out of UCSD, basically to put on a carnival show with a thirteenth-generation orca after her act was reintroduced, but I passed because that isn't science, and a creature like that should be ambushing seals out in the ocean and not squeaking for mackerel treats in a man-made swimming pool for some spoiled kids' amusement. So the money lets me spend my days training, and my eyes are on the big prize when the Olympics begin on August 4.

© 2017 Michael Mazza, with permission from Turtle Point Press

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Black Bullet by L.D. Rose

Black Bullet
by L.D. Rose

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Published: 2016
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
ebook
Rating: 3

The Order of the Senary series:
Releasing the Demons
Black Butler
Beautiful Liar - tba in 2017

First sentence(s):
Oh God, the pain.
Being torn limb from limb, cracking down the middle, shattering into pieces, his blood boing in his veins and his organs twisting in this belly. Shards of glass hammered into his eyes, wave after wave of agony crashing over him, and he roared, his howls filling the enclosed space around him.

Zombie sighting:
Blaze chuckled and glanced up at Jon. "Well, Look who it is. The walking dead."
-chapter 4

Fledgling vampire Jonathan Kerr has just met his match.

Not even his past life as a former Marine and FBI agent could prepare him for the battle against the monster inside him, struggling to take hold. After an old nemesis of the Senary surfaces in Brooklyn, unleashing chaos and terror in the battered borough, Jon sets out to take him down. Instead, he ends up with far more than he bargained for when he clashes with the beautiful half-vampire hybrid, Lawan Knight.

After escaping near death and suffering unspeakable horror at the hands of vampires, Lawan trusts no one, regardless of species. In between bouts of drunken stupor, her only goal is to exterminate all those who've wronged her, including every member of Jon's vampire bloodline. But Jon's soulful eyes and quick smile crawls under her skin, transforming her black and white world into a hazy shade of gray.

As the days rapidly grow darker, Jon and Lawan turn to one another, but their inner demons threaten to tear them apart. The only way either of them will survive is if they overcome their greatest fear--

Love.


My two-bits:

This novel continues the main storyline of romance and action in a paranormal world involving mostly vampires, hybrids and leeches.

Characters from the previous novel are spotlighted while others have minor roles in the background.

Along with the usual push and pull of the start of love relationships, the couple here must also deal with the struggles that involve battles with evil beings.



~*~

* review copy courtesy of author

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Happy release: Lady of the Tarot by Juli D. Revezzo

Lady of the Tarot
(Reign of Tarot Book 2)
by Juli D. Revezzo
narrated by Christina Marie Morris (audio version)
-Historical, Gothic, France
Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

What the cards foretell may be real, after all

1793: Having escaped the Reign of Terror, Emilie Maigny took refuge in England, trying to come to grips with the life and loss she left behind. When her brother, Sinjon, returns, a terrifying evil swoops down upon her. Nightmares plague her now, providing strange clues...but to what?

Scottish-born Linton Morrison spent his entire life in luxury, whiling away the hours in intense study of the tarot and the cards' hidden meanings, but until he met the lovely Emilie Maigny, he would never have guessed how important his study might be - to his life and Emilie's survival when terrible evil strikes.

A Cypher is all Emilie needs, but what is it? Is Linton the key? He may charm her heart - and he may be her only salvation.



Excerpt: from Chapter two

The curricle rushed down a country lane but the driver pulled their horses to a sudden stop. Emilie’s nerves accelerated. Would she ever stop shaking? Her fear made her borrowed wool dress itch even more.

Her aunt clutched her hand. “Courage, ma chère.”

“Tante, what’s happening?”

The carriage driver spoke to someone and Emilie peeked out the window, wondering with whom he conversed. A man approached in dark cape and hat. Handsome, but a stranger, and Emilie wasn’t sure she trusted strangers anymore.
“Tante, who’s he?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

He opened the door and Emilie cowered in the corner. Did she detect a hint of gunpowder in the air?

“Come on now,” the stranger said. She didn’t recognize his accent. “We haven’t got all night.”

“Who…who are you?”

The carriage driver appeared behind him and Emilie’s heart slipped back where it belonged.

“Captain Bartram,” the carriage driver said. “He’s going to take you to safety, Mademoiselle. Monsieur Richard arranged it.”

Wary, she hesitated.

“Do I have to carry you over my shoulder, Miss?” Captain Bartram said. His gaze flitted over her. “I don’t think many would believe you a sack of potatoes, but all right.”

Emilie held out her hand in a halting gesture. “Prove to me who you are.”

His eyes darkened. “Your father and I are well acquainted.”

How horrid could he be if he was one of Père’s colleagues?

“All right,” she said and stepped down, then coaxed her aunt to follow. He hustled them to a waiting cart, and when Tante Collette settled, he helped Emilie up. However, he didn’t make a further move, but stood at the foot of the cart, studying her.

Fear gripped her throat. “Is something wrong, monsieur?”

“I don’t believe,” the man said, “we ever discussed payment.”

“What the devil?” her aunt said. “My husband said you agreed to take us. He never discussed payment, monsieur.”

He smiled at her. “Perhaps so, but I won’t go anywhere, unless—”

“Unless what?”

Tante’s eyes grew wide and she pulled up her skirt, ripped the hem, and offered him a gemstone bracelet she’d earlier sewn inside. “Take it and be damned!”

“No, that won’t do.” The man laughed a little. “I prefer the little miss give me a kiss.”

“What?”

Was he serious?

“Now see here!” Tante raged.

Emilie blinked. Kiss him? He was handsome with strangely beautiful dark eyes, pristinely dressed, and debonair. Surely, a gentleman and yet…

Perhaps if they’d met at a dance back home, and after attending a dance or two together, she might—might— consider it. But here? Now? She didn’t know him!

He shrugged and turned his back. “Suit yourself. Good luck, mes dames.”

If the choices stood between sitting here and facing who knew what horror, and a kiss? Emilie took a deep breath. “Agreed,” she said.

She leaned off the end of the cart and gave him the kiss he asked for, quick and demure, on a cheek that hadn’t seen a razor in at least two days.

“Can we go now?” she asked.

His dark eyes studied hers and something smoldered there she didn’t know how to name. Or maybe, right now, she didn’t want to know its name. A smile dawned across his face.

“That will have to do,” he said. He held up a length of tarp piled on the cart’s floor. “Get under here and try not to squirm. Give or take a stop, we should reach the coast with no trouble.”

Emilie pulled the tarp up, and folded her aunt’s hand in hers. “Don’t worry,” she said. “We’ll be all right.”
“How can you be sure? How can you trust his word?”

Emilie peeked over, watching him take the carriage driver’s place and send him in an opposite direction. “I don’t know, but who else can we trust?”

About the author:

Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of the historical romances, House of Dark Envy, Watchmaker's Heart, and Lady of the Tarot, the Antique Magic paranormal series and Celtic Stewards Chronicles series and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Release: Perfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Perfectly Oblivious
by Robin Daniels
-Humor, YA
Just released: May 31, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

Cameron Bates (Cam) could have almost any girl at Franklin High School…except for the one he wants. Unfortunately Bebe seems to be immune to his flirty charm and good looks, which means one of two things: a) she’s completely oblivious to how he feels, or b) she’s just not into him. If that’s the case, declaring his love would be disastrous for their friendship.

Bianca Barnes (Bebe) has a huge problem: the universe hates her. Every time she admits feelings for a boy, he ends up falling for her sweet, popular, and beautiful sister Beth. To avoid a broken heart, Bebe has sworn herself to secrecy. Nobody can know how she feels about Cam…Ever!

Neither person wants to confess their feelings, but the universe has its own plan. Out of the blue, Bebe is courted by a secret admirer. Cam has to step up his game and Bebe has to make a choice. Play it safe and accept the affections of her mystery man or challenge fate and take a chance on the boy she loves.

Content Description: This is a stand-alone YA contemporary romance with companion novels to follow. It contains minor language, innuendo, crude humor and steamy tension but is generally very clean. No sex. Recommended for ages 12 and up.


TEASER:

I’d hoped to catch the new kid’s attention by shooting some hoops on the driveway next to his. But after five minutes of flawless shots, his face was still hiding under his hat and his eyes hadn’t left that stupid phone. I wasn’t desperate enough to go talk to him (Ok, I almost was) so I devised a plan to get his attention in a more subtle way.

On my next shot, I intentionally hit the backboard so the ball would bounce off and roll toward him. If he’d seen that shot, I’d have been super embarrassed. I’d never want anyone to think I sucked that bad. But, as luck would have it, embarrassment was not in my cards. Mortification was a better word for what had happened. The missed shot that was supposed to bounce somewhere in his general vicinity was alarmingly accurate. It beaned him in the side of the head, knocking his cap off.

“What the hell?” he grumbled as he rubbed his head and shot a dirty glance in my direction. Oops. Not quite the first impression I was hoping to make. So much for subtle.

“Sorry.” I offered a quick apology, then ran to fetch my ball from the street. I made it back to the driveway, and he strolled over. Now that his baseball cap was off, I could see that he was pretty stinking cute. He had light-brown hair that was long enough to be messed up from wearing his hat but short enough not to stick out under the sides. His blue eyes sparkled (yes, I know how cheesy that sounds, but there is no other way to describe them), and he had a cute button nose. I must have admired him a little too long because he cleared his throat and smirked, revealing the most adorable dimples.

Crap, crap, crappity-crap. He totally realized I was checking him out. Play it cool, Bianca, play it cool…

“Hey,” was all I could manage. I gave him a head nod. Great; in my attempt not to look desperate, I managed to look like a loser instead.

“You play ball?” he asked, a cocky smirk plastered to his face.

“It would seem so. Seeing as I’m standing here, under a basketball hoop, holding a ball of the basket variety.” That’s good, Bianca; go for snarky. Maybe he’ll forget the moony eyes he caught you making at him.

The new kid snorted. His cocky smirk morphed into a cocky smile. “Well then, I propose a deal. I challenge you to a game of PIG. If you can beat me, I promise to pretend that I don’t know you purposely tanked that shot as an excuse to talk to me.”

My eyes bugged and my jaw dropped for a moment before I was able to regain my composure. So that’s how he was going to play it?

“Hmmm…” I pretended to think as I brought my finger to my lips. “Then I guess if I win, I promise to forget that you’re a conceited ass.”

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing
by Yaa Gyasi
narrated by Dominic Hoffman

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Published: 2016
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Historican, Literary, African American
Hardback: 320
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The night Effia Otcher was born into the musky heat of Fanteland, a fire raged through the woods just outside her father's compound.

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.


My two-bits:

From the 1800s to present, perspectives of both the African and African American experiences are portrayed through various characters.

Beautifully written with references to past histories, spirits and folk tales.


~*~

* Listened to audiobook version.

* Winner of the NBCC's John Leonard First Book Prize
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book
One of Oprah’s 10 Favorite Books of 2016
NPR's Debut Novel of the Year
One of Buzzfeed's Best Fiction Books Of 2016
One of Time's Top 10 Novels of 2016, Winner of 2017 PEN Hemingway award for debut fiction.

* part of Tournament of Books 2017 (here)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Release: The Brass Compass by Ellen Butler

The Brass Compass
by Ellen Butler
-Historical Fiction
Released: March 30, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

A beautiful American spy flees into the night. On her own, she must live by her wits to evade capture and make it to the safety of the Allied forces.

Lily Saint James grew up traveling the European continent, learning languages as she went. In 1938, her mother’s abrupt death brings her back home to Washington, D.C., and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lily comes to the attention of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Her knowledge of German, French, and Italian makes her the perfect OSS Agent, and her quick thinking places her as a nanny in the household of an important German Army Colonel, where she is able to gather intelligence for the Allies. After her marketplace contact goes missing, she makes a late-night trip to her secondary contact only to find him under interrogation by the SS. When he commits suicide, she flees into the frigid winter night carrying false identification papers that are now dangerous and a mini film cartridge with vital strategic information. In order to survive, Lily must make it out of Germany, into the hands of Allied-controlled France, through a path fraught with peril.


~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Ellen Butler
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Hidden Figures of the OSS

Sabotage. Seduction. Couture dresses with hidden pockets. All were techniques and tools used by female spies recruited by the Office of Secret Services (OSS) during World War II. These women were critical to Allied success and audiences have been thrilled by their exploits in novels and on the screen, yet their very real accomplishments have been ignored for generations.

This year the OSS marks the 75th anniversary. Just in time for that celebration The Brass Compass, a book set during WWII, places one female spy in the spotlight.

The novel reveals the extreme dangers agents faced when Lily St. James, the heroine of The Brass Compass, parachutes behind enemy lines, destroys rail lines, and infiltrates a high-ranking Nazi household. The Brass Compass is the latest story to celebrate the uncompromising intelligence and composure displayed by real operatives. From Greta Garbo in the film “Mata Hari” to Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, audiences are riveted by the tough-and-tender ways women approach espionage. These fictions reflect reality.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor spurred President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create one overarching espionage office, formalizing it on June 13, 1942. Scrambling to cobble together an effective system, the OSS recruited without prejudice. Race, religion, gender, or formal education had no impact on ability. Like St. James, often the people who became field agents were bilingual having spent time living abroad. According to CIA historian Linda McCarthy, the war department knew that women excelled at infiltrating enemy networks and organizing resistance movements. In The Brass Compass, St. James calls on her training as well as her wits to fulfill a number of these roles, and like many of the agents who parachuted behind enemy lines in France, her life expectancy in the field is about six weeks.

Fortunately, OSS spies had a specially designed arsenal. They used single-shot Liberator pistols, button compasses, and escape maps printed on silk. Espionage equipment tailored for female spies included secret pockets, codes embedded in compact mirrors, and suicide pills disguised in jewelry. St. James makes use of false documents, hidden compartments and a tiny matchbox style camera invented by the OSS. Even with this specialized equipment, she must be clever or the tiniest slip might prove fatal.

Of the 13,000 employees working for the program in 1944, nearly 35% were women. Roughly 1,500 female agents were deployed overseas. By allowing women to utilize their natural talents and their specialized training, the OSS preserved freedom worldwide.

~end

Guest post created for event by Ellen Butler
© 2017. All rights reserved.

About the author:
Ellen Butler is the award-winning author of The Brass Compass, a novel about a female OSS agent behind enemy lines. Butler is a member of the OSS Society and her grandfather was a WWII cryptographer. The Brass Compass was inspired by the brave women who served in the OSS.

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~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Ellen Butler
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

The Sound of Things Falling
by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

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Published: 2013
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Literary, Historical, South America
Hardback: 288 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The first hippopotamus, a male the color of black pearls, weighing a ton and a half, was shot dead in the middle of 2009.

From a global literary star comes a prize-winning tour de force – an intimate portrayal of the drug wars in Colombia.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez has been hailed not only as one of South America’s greatest literary stars, but also as one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation. In this gorgeously wrought, award-winning novel, Vásquez confronts the history of his home country, Colombia.

In the city of Bogotá, Antonio Yammara reads an article about a hippo that had escaped from a derelict zoo once owned by legendary Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The article transports Antonio back to when the war between Escobar’s Medellín cartel and government forces played out violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above. Back then, Antonio witnessed a friend’s murder, an event that haunts him still. As he investigates, he discovers the many ways in which his own life and his friend’s family have been shaped by his country’s recent violent past. His journey leads him all the way back to the 1960s and a world on the brink of change: a time before narco-trafficking trapped a whole generation in a living nightmare.

Vásquez is “one of the most original new voices of Latin American literature,” according to Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, and The Sound of Things Falling is his most personal, most contemporary novel to date, a masterpiece that takes his writing—and will take his literary star—even higher.


My two-bits:

This drug war story was not riddled with violence as seen in many shows these days. It is a post-modern piece told in a hazy, mysterious way with dreams, metaphors, memories and reflections.

Some moving passages got me writing down quotes.

Got me thinking of hippos, billiards and planes.

~*~

* National Bestseller and winner of the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

* part of Book Passage Literary Prize Book Group (here)



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy Release: The Darkest Promise by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Promise
by Gena Showalter
-Paranormal, Romance
Release date: June 13, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with a sizzling Lords of the Underworld story about an iron-willed sovereign and the somber beauty who melts him with a glance

Possessed by the demon of Misery, Cameo isn't allowed to experience joy. If she dares, her memory is wiped clean. With no other recourse, she sneaks into a land more fantastical than any fairy tale, determined to find the one man with the key to her redemption.

Lazarus the Cruel and Unusual rules his kingdom with a single unwavering focus: to build his army and annihilate his enemies. Nothing distracts him - until Cameo. He is relentless in his quest to make her smile and seduce her into his bed.

As dark forces conspire against them, threatening to destroy the fragile bond they've forged, the once-calm Lazarus grows crazed. Every heart-stopping kiss and wicked touch causes Cameo to teeter on the brink of happiness. But if she falls, she risks forgetting him forever



Excerpt:

“Don’t try to stay ten moves ahead of your opponent.
Stay behind him with a knife.”
—Excerpted from Becoming the King You Are Meant to Be,
a work in progress by Lazarus the Cruel and Unusual

LIKE ALICE ON HER WAY TO WONDERLAND, CAMEO, host to the demon of Misery, tumbled end over end down a long, dark cavern. When the bottom finally appeared, she braced for impact…only to slip through a glistening portal. The cavern walls vanished, and she spilled from a midnight sky—straight into a new realm.

Never should have touched the Paring Rod. One brush of her fingertips against the pretty glass bulb that tipped its handle, and the ancient artifact had opened a door between the physical and spirit world. Voilà! In a blink, her descent had begun.

As she plunged toward a flat clearing, she braced for impact…

Cameo smacked into the ground. A scream split her lips, her brain banging against her skull, her lungs emptying and multiple bones shattering all at once.

Agony seared her, black dots weaving through her vision. Warmth drained from her hands and feet, collecting in her torso. Her body was in shock.

Hours passed before she gained the strength to roll to her side, her wrecked heart tap-dancing a wild rhythm against broken ribs. Her head swam but thankfully her pain ebbed. Able to breathe again, she noted the sweet scent of ambrosia—the drug of choice for immortals—hung heavy in the air. She almost laughed. For once, lady luck had been on her side. If you had to crash-land, what better place than an ambrosia field?

She drifted in and out of consciousness, the passage of time evidenced by the healing of her injuries and the shift from dark to light. When a beam of sun stroked her, blistering her pale skin, she finally woke for good.

Her nose crinkled as she inhaled. The scent of ambrosia had been replaced by burnt foliage. Where had she landed? Hell? The sun blazed so hot it had scorched sections of land.

Cameo crawled into a shadowed haven, exhaling with relief when her skin cooled. She scanned the lavender sky with its pale green clouds then looked over an unfamiliar forest filled with towering pink trees and plots of azure grass.

Oookay. This is new. A forest fit for a storybook princess. Too bad Cameo was the villain of the tale. Browniebitch and the Twelve Immortals. For her and her family of demon-possessed warriors, nothing had ever been just right.

Cold fingers of dread crept down her spine as a butterfly the size of her fist fluttered past her. Over the centuries, the wretched insects had become an omen. Death and destruction await…

The heavy weight of depression settled on her shoulders, and she wallowed about the travesty of her life.

Lost so much already. All because she’d made one teeny tiny mistake when she’d lived in Mount Olympus.

That mistake? Helping her friends steal and open Pandora’s box. An appropriate punishment would have been a hand amputation or two. Maybe a few hundred years in the slammer.

Instead, she was forced to play host to the demon of Misery for eternity, free will a thing of the past.

To commemorate the occasion, a butterfly tattoo had appeared on her lower back.

The beginning of the end.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl:
A Memoir
by Carrie Brownstein

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Published: 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Memoir, Music, Feminism
Hardback: 256
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
I've always felt unclaimed.

From the guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney, the book Kim Gordon says "everyone has been waiting for" and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015-- a candid, funny, and deeply personal look at making a life--and finding yourself--in music.

Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. They would be cited as “America’s best rock band” by legendary music critic Greil Marcus for their defiant, exuberant brand of punk that resisted labels and limitations, and redefined notions of gender in rock.

HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.

With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.


PeekAbook:



My two-bits:

Fascinating tour into the world of Pacific Northwest rock band. Loved learning about Carrie's rise.

Got me listening to some Sleater-Kinney tunes and watching their music videos on YouTube.

~*~

* I listened to the audio version read by the author.

* part of Our Shared Shelf Book Club (here)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lovely Books and Things - 6.10.17

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)

~*~

Along with reading, I did a variety of things this week (see below) including squeezing in a yoga class ;-)

Been feeling like a sponge and absorbing art and creativity lately. A friend mentioned a personal challenge of crafting or creating an art piece at least once a month. Coincidentally, How Art Can Make You Happy by Bridget Watson Payne was recently released. I took this as a sign. Stay tuned to see a little something from me.

My goal of purging and donating books from my shelves is going steadily. I manage to relieve the house of at least one shopping bag of books per week.

~*~

Bought:


Book Passages, Corte Madera hosted a reading and Q&A session with Lisa Ko to celebrate the release of The Leavers. Lisa said that the inspiration for the book was from a New York Times article about detained undocumented immigrant parents who were separated from their American born children.

This book is also part of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge (here).

The Leavers
by Lisa Ko
-Literary, Asian American
Amazon | Goodreads

The Natural Way of Things
by Charlotte Wood
-Dystopia, Feminism
Amazon | Goodreads

HANDMAID'S tale reference caught my eye in the description. Had to add this to my dystopia pile.

Smut
two unseemly stories
by Alan Bennett
-Short stories, British Humor
Amazon | Goodreads

HAD to pick this up when I spotted this as I loved the recent theatre production of SMUT: The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson which I saw earlier this month.


OTHER things (kinda book-related):

Crown & Crumpet
Planner Par-tea (details)

THE last Sunday of month is a special day at the Crown & Crumpet in San Francisco. If you are into organizing and planning with a paper planner, then this is a super fun event for you!

I attended my second session last month and had a wonderful time with fellow planners. Lots of tea and both sweet and savory goodies kept things in good spirits while we played in our planners. Happy Planner, Passion Planner and kikki.k Planner systems were in the house.

If you are a planner, I curious to know what system you use.


AND watched: live theatre

Roman Holiday
Director: Marc Bruni
Based on the Paramount Pictures Corporation Motion Picture "Roman Holiday"
Music and Lyrics: Cole Porter
Book by: Kathy Speer, Terry Grossman, Paul Blake
Starring: Stephanie Styles, Drew Gehling, Georgia Engel
-Comedy, Crime, Drama | SHN Golden Gate | my rating: 5

LOVED it and the Cole Porter favorites performed, Night and Day and You Do Something to Me. The costumes and set design were magnificent! And yes, there was a scooter.


AND watched: on DVD

Bottle Rocket (1996)
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson
Starring: Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Ned Dowd
-Comedy, Crime, Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

Three friends plan to pull off a simple robbery and go on the run.

GETTING around to watching all the Wes Anderson films. This was his first. And this one catches me up. It is a little harder to get a hold of his short films.

This story started off as a short story before turning into a feature film. His unique style slowly grabs and pulls you into his way of storytelling. LOL - of all places his quirky characters rob a bookstore!


~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

:-)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Releasing the Demons by L.D. Rose

Releasing the Demons
by L.D. Rose

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt
Website
Facebook | Pinterest
Playlist | Twitter

Published: 2015
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
ebook
Rating: 3

The Order of the Senary series:
Releasing the Demons
Black Butler
Beautiful Liar - tba in 2017

First sentence(s):
Something scraped the floor.

Blaze Knight has been through hell and back, but the nightmares aren't over yet.

Five years after Blaze was maimed by Cyrus Chimola, a powerful vampire with a penchant for torture, he's still trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. As a genetically engineered mercenary with the ability to bend fire to his will and to see in infrared, Blaze's mission is to protect what's left of humanity. When Chimola and his crew return to the Bronx gunning for Blaze's blood, Blaze is forced to face the demons of his past. Hell-bent on revenge, he seeks the help of Valerie Medeiros, an NYPD detective who manages to steal his heart and save his life in more ways than one.

Motivated by her sister's gruesome death, Valerie has made it her life's goal to bury every vampire in the ground where they belong. When she brings in Blaze Knight for suspected murder, she discovers he's not only innocent, he isn't a man at all--he's a half-vampire hybrid working with a band of brothers for the U.S. military. Valerie has a hard time trusting anything with fangs, yet she quickly falls headlong into Blaze's life, a life full of darkness and horror she can't even begin to fathom. The bodies are stacking up, but Valerie can't seem to let go of this hybrid, a beautiful monster filled with pain, rage, and passion unlike anything she's ever known.

In a world where the line between good and evil is blurred, Blaze and Valerie will find danger at every turn, risking everything they've come to know and love, including one another.


My two-bits:

The opening action scenes takes us into a world that includes vampires and other creatures discovered. Some characters had special abilities and powers to spice things up.

While investigating a mystery, a romance begins that leads the protagonist into a darker world.

It was interesting to learn about and be in this world for while.

Steamy scenes included.


~*~

* review copy courtesy of author





Thursday, June 8, 2017

It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

It's Always the Husband
by Michele Campbell

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Just released: May 16, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Women's Fiction
Hardback: 336
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
She stumbled through the dark woods, the trees dripping raindrops onto her hair and her party dress. Her shoes were covered in mud, and she trembled from the cold.

In college, Kate, Aubrey and Jenny are inseparable. Twenty years later, their friendship takes a deadly turn . . .

Three young women who could not be more different meet as college roommates and become fast friends. Wealthy, privileged, blonde and gorgeous, Kate Eastman seems like she has it all. But her Park Avenue upbringing conceals a tragic loneliness and a wild side powerful enough to drag down everyone around her. Aubrey Miller comes from a poor family and can’t believe her luck when she winds up at prestigious Carlisle College rooming with Kate and Jenny. Aubrey would follow Kate anywhere — to parties, to nightclubs, even to her death. Jenny Vega — bright, pretty, ambitious — is the practical one, the striver, who’d rather study and get ahead than party. She adores her roommates, and she knows they’re bad for her. Will she save them from themselves, and each other, or will she become another victim of the chaos that follows in their wake?

A terrible tragedy at the end of freshman year leaves these three young women with a dangerous secret. Twenty years later, older but perhaps no wiser, they return to the scene of the crime. When one of them winds up dead, it could be suicide, or it could be murder. If it was murder, was it the husband – like the cops think – or was it the best friend? This book will keep you guessing until the very last page.


My two-bits:

With unlikable characters set in a small college town this story is compelling all the way to the end.

The friendship amongst these characters is was loyal in ways but made me question if it was for good.

Got me thinking of charismatic characters and toxic relationships.

~*~

* part of BookSparks Book Club (here)

* part of BookSparks Reading Challenge, Summer (here)

* part of Cloak & Dagger Challenge (here)

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Work in Progress by Connor Franta

A Work in Progress
by Connor Franta

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon | Goodreads
Website | Facebook
Instagram
Tumblr
Twitter
YouTube

Published: 2015
Publisher: Atria/Keywords Press
Genre: Memoir
Paperback: 224
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
I'm six years old. It's a chilly autumn day, with dew still clinging to the grass, a slight breeze in the air—and a lot of people screaming wildly behind me.

In this intimate memoir of life beyond the camera, Connor Franta shares the lessons he has learned on his journey from small-town boy to Internet sensation—so far. Here, Connor offers a look at his Midwestern upbringing as one of four children in the home and one of five in the classroom; his struggles with identity, body image, and sexuality in his teen years; and his decision to finally pursue his creative and artistic passions in his early twenties, setting up his thrilling career as a YouTube personality, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and tastemaker.

Exploring his past with insight and humor, his present with humility, and his future with hope, Connor reveals his private struggles while providing heartfelt words of wisdom for young adults. His words will resonate with anyone coming of age in the digital era, but at the core is a timeless message for people of all ages: don’t be afraid to be yourself and to go after what you truly want.

This full-color collection includes photography and childhood clippings provided by Connor and is a must-have for anyone inspired by his journey.


PeekAbook:



My two-bits:

After reading Connor's second book, Note to Self, I was gung-ho to read this first book which became a New York Times bestseller in 2015.

Actually, I listened to the audio version which was read by the author <--- this just enhanced the experience. I enjoyed this book just as much as Note to Self. This book is more on his origin story - fame to fortune in the YouTube world.

It is also an inspiring tale of seeking and going after your passion in life.



Saturday, June 3, 2017

Lovely Books and Things - 6.3.17

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)

~*~

I attended a face-to-face book club (here) this week which got me reading A History of Loneliness by John Boyne. It is one of those books that surprised me. Fell in love with the author's style and plan on reading something else from his body of work - maybe The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

The San Francisco International Arts Festival at Fort Mason (here) has been running since last week. I have been catching a few shows and enjoying both asian music and dance performances.

~*~

Bought:

All Our Wrong Todays
by Elan Mastai
-SciFi, Time Travel
Amazon | Goodreads

GEARING up for a dose of dystopia and scifi reading in the fall season.

China Rich Girlfriend
(Crazy Rich Asians #2)
by Kevin Kwan
-ChickLit, Romance, China
Amazon | Goodreads

GOT this in the used section of Green Apple Books as I wanted to read the first two books in the series before the third book, Rich People Problems that just came out. Of course, I need to get the first book soon, Crazy Rich Asians.

The Summer of the Ubume
by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
-Horror, Ghosts, Japan
Amazon | Goodreads

THE description grabbed me with its creepiness.

Emma
by Alexander McCall Smith
(The Austen Project #3)
-Retelling, Jane Austen, Romance
Amazon | Goodreads

COLLECTING this series to add to my Jane Austen bookshelf.


AND watched: on DVD

Brand New Testament (2015)
Le tout nouveau testament (original title)
Director: Jaco Van Dormael
Writers: Thomas Gunzig (scenario), Jaco Van Dormael (scenario)
Starring: Pili Groyne, Benoît Poelvoorde, Catherine Deneuve
-Comedy, Fantasy, Belgium | imdb | my rating: 3

Did you know that God is alive and lives in Brussels with his daughter?

THE premise and trailer are hilarious. The movie itself was cute with fun moments.


~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

:-)

Friday, June 2, 2017

A History of Loneliness by John Boyne

A History of Loneliness
by John Boyne

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Website
Instagram
Twitter

Published: 2016
Reprint: Picador
Genre: Literary, Ireland
Paperback: 352
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
I did not become ashamed of being Irish until I was well into the middle years of my life.

The riveting narrative of an honorable Irish priest who finds the church collapsing around him at a pivotal moment in its history

Propelled into the priesthood by a family tragedy, Odran Yates is full of hope and ambition. When he arrives at Clonliffe Seminary in the 1970s, it is a time in Ireland when priests are highly respected, and Odran believes that he is pledging his life to "the good."

Forty years later, Odran's devotion is caught in revelations that shatter the Irish people's faith in the Catholic Church. He sees his friends stand trial, colleagues jailed, the lives of young parishioners destroyed, and grows nervous of venturing out in public for fear of disapproving stares and insults. At one point, he is even arrested when he takes the hand of a young boy and leads him out of a department store looking for the boy's mother.

But when a family event opens wounds from his past, he is forced to confront the demons that have raged within the church, and to recognize his own complicity in their propagation, within both the institution and his own family.

A novel as intimate as it is universal, A History of Loneliness is about the stories we tell ourselves to make peace with our lives. It confirms Boyne as one of the most searching storytellers of his generation.


My two-bits:

I was pleasantly surprised with this book as it is one I would not normally pick out on my own.

Loved this author's style of writing.

Also loved the gentle, naive protagonist in this story and how the story unfolds.

The views and comment of priests in the Catholic church in Ireland of the past and present were interesting to learn about. Aspects of the relationship between priests and its congregation especially in regards to the recent reveal of widespread sexual abuse is covered.

~*~

* part of Diesel Book Club, Larkspur (here)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Happy release: A Contrary Wind by Lona Manning

A Contrary Wind
by Lona Manning
-Romance, Jane Austen theme
Released: January 20, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

Fanny Price, niece to Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park, is an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, who is grateful for the advantages of education and breeding conferred upon her as result of growing up with her wealthier cousins.
But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, together with a broken heart, compel Fanny to run away from Mansfield Park and find employment as a governess.

Far away from everything she ever knew and the one man she loves, will Fanny grow in fortitude and independence? Will a new suitor help her to forget? Or will a reckless decision threaten to destroy her own life and the lives of those she holds most dear?

This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Mansfield Park, as well as some new acquaintances. There are some mature scenes.




 
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