Wednesday, January 11, 2017

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Release date: April 4th 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight. 

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis--even though her plan to win the war will kill him. 

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Claudia GrayAbout the Author
Claudia Gray is the author of the bestselling Evernight series, Fateful, the Spellcaster trilogy, and the Firebird trilogy. She is also the author the young adult Star Wars novels Lost Stars and the forthcoming Bloodline. 
She has worked as a lawyer, a journalist, a disc jockey, and a particularly ineffective waitress. Her lifelong interests include old houses, classic movies, vintage style, and history. She lives in New Orleans.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review: All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Release date: July 12th 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

*Received a finished copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

All Is Not Forgotten is definitely not meant for the faint at heart, especially when details about gruesome events started to unravel. I barely made it through some parts and had to step away from the story at times to take a breather. That said, I did end up liking it because it kept me both intrigued and eager to learn how things would work out for each character. 

Many readers might find it disappointing that the story is narrated by someone other than Jenny, and even I was a bit bothered with that because I wanted to see things from her point of view; get inside her head, feel her emotions, and better connect with her. But if you can see past that, you'll delve deeper and discover how everything related. You may even say it came full circle. 

So the story went like this: 
After Jenny's attack, her MOTHER (because the father was pretty much ignored and overpowered in the decision-making) agreed to have doctors give Jenny a drug that'll block the memory of her assault. Mrs. Kramer believed it was best for Jenny to forget what had happened in order to go on living a normal life. But in all honesty, the mother was thinking about herself and wanted to put it all behind her. See Mrs. Kramer had issues of her own and she was used to sweeping things under the rug and dealing with them in other ways. I don't want to give those issues away, but throughout the story, we're told how unfair it was to judge the mother for her behavior and the way she treated her husband. That was hard for me, even as the story progressed and we learn more about her past. Her character was just too intolerable.  

Not saying the father didn't have issues of his own. The narrator explained a lot about both of Jenny's parents and I understood how certain factors in their upbringing contributed to who they were now as adults. Jenny's father never seemed to stand up for himself. I got mad at him for that, always letting his wife control things the way she did. But once details about his life were revealed, I totally got it from a psychological standpoint. And really, you just had to look at things in that way as you read, so you could understand these messed up characters. 

As for the narrator, he came into the picture after the parents sought out help for Jenny. And his conclusion was to help her remember the terrible night, because even though they'd used the drug to block the memory, the emotions were still there. Jenny knew something had happened to her and she still had a hard time coping, no matter how her mother pretended everything was fine. Besides, the police had no suspects and no leads. It was imperative that Jenny remembered, not only to deal with it properly but to find the monster before it happened again.

A lot transpired once Jenny started seeing the narrator. We uncovered more about his character and family. And another client's life entered the story. A soldier who was also given the drug. He and Jenny began spending time together, relating emotions and situations. And a good chunk of the story was spent on understanding this other person. At first, I was like, "why is he being mentioned?". Then we're told about all the things he'd dealt with and how a dreaded experience in the military had caused him to have PTSD. Hence, why he was given the drug. 

So much went on in the book and the more I read, the more I got pulled in, especially when something started to seem off about the narrator. When it became clear what that was, he certainly shouldn't have continued seeing Jenny, much less speaking to the police.  But he did. And with his involvement in Jenny's situation and what he'd stirred up for her mother and father, along with the soldier, it was almost mind-blowing. I couldn't believe the manipulation and how he was able to keep it all together. Then again, he had a dark secret that he'd kept for years. And by the end of the story, like me, you'll even hold him accountable for a lot that had happened.

Overall, this one was intriguing and made an impact on me in the sense that you never know what some people are going through, what they could be hiding. Sometimes sinister, sometimes gruesome. I wasn't expecting the story to be told in the way it was, based on the blurb, and I'm not too happy with the ending. Regardless, it's still worth the read.

Wendy   WalkerAbout the Author
Wendy Walker is a practicing divorce attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: The New Bad Thing by Michael Ebner

Release date: March 2017
Publisher: Pen and Paper
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Teagan can’t have what she wants most in life. Now everywhere she goes and everyone she knows are constant reminders of this. Desperate for a distraction, she needs to focus her energy elsewhere. Suddenly a foreign news story shocks her to the core. From that moment, she takes matters into her own hands and starts a special project. It could become a global game changer. But not everybody will be happy about these plans. If successful, governments and terrorists, will want her and this new thing terminated. 

Despite early success for the project, an internal problem comes to light, which consequently wipes out the entire scheme. She travels to Paris to deal with the so-called problem in person but wakes up in the middle of a real life terrorist siege. Or is it a planned attack on her life? 

Teagan will quickly be forced to make a choice that will threaten her and her family forever. It's the new bad thing.

About the Author
Michael Ebner's work has appeared in New York Magazine, SPIN, Inside Film, Wallpaper and Kirkus Reviews, among others. His debut novel All The Talk Is Dead was named one of Best Books of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews. Movie Game is his second novel.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas, from my family to yours. Hope you remember what matters most and will love and appreciate them.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Behind the Pages #30: Dana Volney on Sexy Suspense to Sweet Holiday Romances

It's exciting to have Dana Volney as the last Behind the Pages featured author of 2016, because not only does she write in one of my absolute favorite genres, she also writes stories perfect for Christmas. And since it is the holiday season, Dana is contributing a digital copy of her latest to one lucky ready. So check out her awesome interview below and enter for the chance to win A Heart for the Holidays.

1. Where are you from and when did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I am from Casper, Wyoming (where I currently live), but when I worked in Seattle I was reading a lot and caught the bug to write there. I didn’t do anything about it for a number of years, until I was back in Casper and my sister urged me to take a class at the college on writing fiction. It opened my eyes to my love of the industry and I’ve never looked back!

2. I read that you also work with a marketing consulting company. How does that impact your life as an author, and how do you balance the two?

I run my marketing business, so I can, mostly, set my own hours. I have made an effort in the last couple months to divide out my schedule to make sure my clients are taken care of and I still get my writing time in—unfortunately, I have yet to have a week where it actually works out that way, but I get in the time for both. Some days my sleep is what suffers though!

3. Tell us a little about your latest, A Heart for the Holidays. How did you come up with the plot?

I love writing a holiday novella every year. From The December Deal, I knew Silver would be the next one to have her own story. I knew she’d been out of town for a while and that she was smart and driven. I also knew I wanted it to have something to do with a heart transplant situation. Last summer at the lake with my sister (who is a nurse which came in very handy for research) and brother-in-law, we formed the general story picture after a harrowing game of Yahtzee. It took some turns when I actually sat down to write, but the general premise was kept. I love Fisher and Silver and I hope people enjoy their heart-tugging story!

4. What do you hope readers will take from this story and from the characters, Silver and Fisher?

There’s always hope. Never give up. You never know when your Silver Morgenstern will walk through your doors!

5. How challenging is it to transition between suspense and holiday romances?

They definitely take two different strategies when I plot and when I write. When I am writing the sweet, holiday stories, I have to think about all the season entails both with the festivities and weather (which is funny because I usually write them in the summer). When it comes to the suspense, they’re all about the danger, mystery, and generally darker thinking. Sometimes the worlds collide, but that’s what editing is for. 😉


6. Have you considered writing outside of both genres? If so, what other genre would you like to tackle?

At the moment I haven’t. I enjoy a couple different Sci-Fi shows and think that would be fun to write, but I don’t know enough about it yet. I generally read romantic suspense and contemporary and haven’t strayed too far out of those zones. Hopefully someday!

7. Dana, since your debut till now, How have you evolved as a writer?

I’m sure there are numerous ways in which I’ve grown—thankfully! One that’s been more evident to me lately is my plotting. I’ve come to realize my life is a bit easier (especially with the suspense novels) when I plot my stories out in more detail before I start. I still stray from my original notes here and there, but overall it creates an easier flow of creativity during my writing time.

8. Was there ever a moment that you wanted to focus on your business and step back from writing?

I think that every day it is a choice. I’ve thought about a lot of different scenarios (clients, time, etc) over the last couple of years, but never once did I commit to quit writing. Even if I take a couple of months off, I always come back to it. I’m constantly thinking of plots and characters and scenes. It’s a part of me now and I truly love it and hope to be publishing for years to come.

9. How do you unwind after finishing a book?

I usually binge watch a show I’ve been saving or order pizza or get some serious family time in, sometimes all of that in one weekend. But mostly I just start thinking about the next book and the timeline. I think if I give myself too much time to relax then nothing really gets done and it’s harder to get back into the routine.

10. What's next for you? 

I am working on my next series, and I’m pumped! It will be a romantic suspense series following assassins on the road back to redemption. Look for the first novel in the series on February 22, 2017!

11. Thank you so much for taking the time. Please leave any tips for aspiring writers. 

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received (or that truly resonated with me as a new writer), is that “there are no new stories, just new voices.” This actually helped me a TON. When I first started exploring writing fiction I was almost paralyzed because I thought “I have to come up with something that has never, ever, EVER, ever been done before”. And while, of course, fresh ideas are never a bad thing, chances are some form of an idea has already been written. That one simple tip put my mind at ease and allowed me to be creative.

Thank you so much for having me! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

More About the Author
Dana Volney lets her imagination roam free in Wyoming, where she writes romances and helps local businesses succeed with her marketing consulting company. Splitting her time between telling sexy, fast-paced suspense stories and sweet holiday romances, she likes to try new adventures in real life whenever she can (which, let’s face it, means tasting all sorts of delicious cuisines). Dana is bold, adventurous, and—by her own admission—good with plants, having kept a dwarf lemon tree alive for six months.

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