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Friday, October 19, 2018

Guest Post ~ Samuel Wardwell on Retribution, Prison, and Adapting to Change

Release date: January 9th 2018
Publisher: MCP Books
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Marc Ransom is innocent, but after a major misunderstanding he's in prison and making...questionable company. His new cellmate isn't just a cat burglar; she's a woman, and she's ready to leave.

This is America's first co-ed prison. It's a high-tech joint where thugs rule, robot guards roam, and cameras see everything. And now, two complete opposites are trapped there together.

But life in prison isn't an option. Corrupt authorities want Marc gone. Gangs have marked the burglar, Linda, for death. Seeing no other way, the unlikely cellmates become a 'brain and brawn' duo by pairing his strength with her street smarts.

In forcing themselves to cooperate, they might just find freedom, redemption, and romance in the unlikeliest of places.


Technological advancements and societal changes throughout history have always fascinated me. It is my belief that both have a dynamic effect on each other. 

A decade ago, I found myself locked up in a Georgia prison. I started to think about how our culture might handle the imprisonment of its citizens in the future. Because our society is moving to make everything equal, our prisons could soon be co-ed.

One of the major concerns I had during this unfortunate time in my life was being assaulted. I realized that this would become worse if a prison environment was co-educational. How would the authorities keep the men and women apart? It was while thinking about this that I started to develop the idea for the Retribution series.

With advancements in battery and GPS technologies, self-locating devices have become commonplace. In the Retribution series, the use of wrist and ankle bracelets make it possible to locate an inmate. They would create a magnetic field around the prisoner. The battery pack built into the ankle bracelet would allow me to solve the issue of inmate contact. The bracelets would stop the physical assaults that have plagued prisons throughout history. They would also prevent the members of the opposite sex from co-mingling. The wrist bracelet acts as both an I.D. and location device. The larger ankle bracelet would house a taser-like technology. With this, an electrical jolt capable of increasing its voltage would be possible. The longer the two people wearing the devices are in contact, the greater the shock the two would suffer. 

I then thought about what it might be like to live in such an environment. This is when I created the primary characters in Retribution, Linda and Marc.

The character of Marc is loosely based on myself. Many of the incidents that happen to Marc during his incarceration mirror incidents that actually happened to me while I was in prison. I also weave into the story how my arrest happened and why the legal system had completely let me down.

Linda is a different story. Linda is based on a good friend of mine from the past. She was a risk taker, and ended up getting involved in a horrible situation that led to her death. In the book, I dramatized her life; however, I kept her heritage, intellect, and acrobatic abilities as part of Linda’s character. In the story, Linda chooses to use her skills to become a very successful cat-burglar early in life.

The Retribution series is about how Linda and Marc end up meeting in Georgia’s first co-ed prison. The story follows two very different people who inadvertently save the other’s life. They develop a mutual trust and cautiously become friends. They are targets for assassination and marked for death. They choose to do the only thing that can save their lives: escape from one of the most high-tech prisons ever created.

I am an architect by training. An architect's job is to create and manage the work on buildings or structures. Computer technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. I believe there will soon be a need for an “architect” of sorts to manage and design complicated technology systems in various companies and organizations. In the Retribution series, this person would be a computer architect. In my story, Marc holds this coveted title.
Marc’s background and Linda’s amazing physical abilities allow them to create a plan to defeat the prison's technology. They figure out a way to trick the system into not realizing that two inmates are about to escape.

My inspiration for Retribution was to take what I already knew about the world we live in and mix it with what I believe the future has planned for us all.
Our society will learn how to the adapt to the changes and inventions that are flooding us almost every day. The challenge I tackle in the series is how our future will affect us and what we will have to do to adapt.

Marc is an idealist who believes that things happen for a reason. Because of her life’s circumstances, Linda has to be a realist by necessity just to survive. These two very different people find themselves in many incredible adventures. Retribution explores how even the most difficult circumstances can be overcome with teamwork, trust, and eventual love.

Samuel WardwellAbout the Author
Samuel Wardwell is an American author of crime-thriller novels. His books include themes of crime, redemption, and corruption within the legal system. Wardwell lived a privileged life; he grew up in northern New Jersey, and went to college in New York City. He worked for many years as an architect and historian, but struggled with addiction. Samuel became a functioning alcoholic and made decisions he'd later come to regret. Today, he lives in Roswell, Georgia. He has been sober for over ten years.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: The Resolutions by Mia Garcia

Release date: November 13th 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

New Years are for fresh starts, but Jess just wants everything to go back to the way it was.

From hiking trips, to four-person birthday parties, to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable—and unstoppable. But now, with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been splintering off and growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.

Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them for each other—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, show your paintings, learn Spanish, say yes to everything.

But not even the best laid plans can take into account the uncertainties of life. As the year unfolds, Jess, Ryan, Nora, and Lee each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heart breaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.

About the Author
Mia GarcĂ­a was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but now lives in New York under a pile of to-be-read books. Mia earned her MFA from the New School. She is the author of Even If the Sky Falls.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: This is What it Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow

Release date: November 6th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.

Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

Rebecca Barrow’s tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks — what will you fight for, if not yourself?

About the Author
Rebecca BarrowRebecca Barrow is the author of You Don't Know Me But I Know You. She writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in the fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Release date: August 21st 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.
Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal--and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it's to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.
Amy's life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she's gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return--and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother--and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

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

A truly incredible story! I was invested from start to finish, so intrigued with the characters and how this intensity would wrap up. It's still so fresh in my mind that I can't even find the words to write a sensible review. For starters, let's see if I can get my thoughts out clearly on Sarah deciding to take Emma. 

Okay, you could say Amy and her husband deserved it, they weren't the best parents and Amy was rather abusive, both physically and verbally towards Emma. The poor child was depressed and I could see her growing up to be a broken adult. And I believe during that first sighting of Emma with her family and observing the ill-treatment from Amy, something clicked in Sarah and she could instantly relate, having experienced a similar treatment from her own mother as a child. Perhaps it was fate or just mere coincidence, but spotting Emma again led Sarah into thinking she had to do something to help the little girl. Should she have gone as far as to kidnap Emma? I don't think so. That's wrong in itself, and Sarah based her judgment on the fact that the child protective system was messed up and she didn't believe they'd save Emma from her unfit mother. Whatever the reasoning, kidnapping is never the answer. Personally, I would have reported Amy after seeing the way she treated her daughter and let the authorities handle the situation. But I completely understood Sarah's intentions and saw how the abandonment from her own mother had affected her and possibly caused her to take Emma in hopes of giving her a better life. Also, the immediate bond between Sarah and Emma was quite adorable and so opposite of what both girls had with their mothers. You just couldn't stay mad at Sarah for doing what she did when the two were enjoying each other so much, and I would constantly question myself as to whether or not the kidnapping would change Amy into becoming a better and more loving mother should Emma return home.

Staying on Amy a bit, it was hard sympathizing with the woman. While I'm not a mother, I know how tough it is for mothers and how they are simply doing the best they can. But my gosh, Amy had some seriously deep rooted issues that she took out on her daughter. She seriously needed to see a psychologist. I don't want to give too much away as to how terrible her behavior and attitude toward life in general was, but she pretty much took a lot out on Emma and acted as if the five-year-old girl was out to destroy her when she was, in fact, reacting to the abuse of her mother. And don't let me get started on the father. He was oblivious of a lot and never really stepped up. His attention was mostly given to their younger child so his actions toward the end were totally predictable. Amy often thought to herself how she didn't really want children, but I'm not sure if her marriage would have still worked out had they not been parents, not with the unaddressed issues she had coming into their relationship.

Back to Sarah. It was interesting seeing how much she gave up to save Emma. She initially seemed so career driven so I was a tad surprised. However, in the flashbacks to her relationship with Ethan, she'd often mention becoming a wife and mother. But I wonder if that had to do with the neglect she carried from childhood and desire to do the opposite for her own family? Whatever the case, I was hoping for closure for her and was delightfully fascinated when the opportunity arose. I'm not sure how I would have handled that but I commend Sarah for her strength in facing it. I also would have liked to know how the second encounter went but then the story might have become too stretched. 

As for how things turned out in the end, I honestly wasn't expecting that. I'd thought it a bit at the beginning of the story but felt like Amy would've changed somewhat to a point where she deserved a second chance. Either way, I was sort of left in limbo as to how I feel about the ending and had questions as to what would happen next. But I'm also contented with that and draw my own conclusions, for instance, what would Emma think about Sarah and Amy when she got older? Would she hate Sarah for kidnapping her? Things like that will stay with you after reading this book. Kudos to Rea Frey on such an incredible and intense story. The writing is wonderful and consuming. You won't put this down once you've started, and you'll hate for it to ever end. I highly recommend!

IMG_2050 copy.jpgAbout the Author
Rea Frey is the author of four nonfiction books. NOT HER DAUGHTER is her debut novel. When she’s not exercising, mothering, adulting, wifing, eating, or writing about herself in the third person, you can find her hard at work on her next book and ghostwriting for other people.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

#FearlessWomen Tour ~ The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

Series: Lady Astronaut #2
Release date: August 21st 2018
Publisher: Tor Books
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Mary Robinette Kowal continues the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars.

Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but could the International Aerospace Coalition ever stand the thought of putting a woman on such a potentially dangerous mission? Could Elma knowingly take the place of other astronauts who have been overlooked because of their race? And could she really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.


The thing about wearing a space suit on Earth is that it’s designed for lower gravity. Even being in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab’s pool didn’t change the fact that gravity pulled at me. Sure, it didn’t pull at the suit, but inside it, I slid around every time I changed orientation. As a woman, I was smaller than the men the suits had been designed for, so I had to wear padding around my hips to sort of wedge me in. This kept the air bubble surrounding me inside the suit distributed evenly, allowing me to move from horizontal to vertical over the course of the NBL run without fighting gravity. Without the padding, the air bubble acted like a giant beach ball, strapped to my stomach, always wanting to be pointed up to the surface. It made it difficult to roll any other way.

In truth, having an air bubble inside the suit wouldn’t be a problem in space, but the NBL was where people decided if you had what it took to do a spacewalk. So neither I nor any of the other women would complain. No, sir. Everything was splendid and we were happy to be in the pool.

I hung sideways in the water with the fiberglass shell digging into my armpit. My neck burned from holding my head up inside my helmet. My fingers ached from forcing my stiff gloves to close on the edge of the solar panel we were practicing “repairing.” With the suits pressurized to 4.9 psi above ambient pressure, every movement felt like working against a heavy-duty spring. It wasn’t exactly like working in a vacuum, but it gave us a sense of how exhausting it would be. A wrinkle in my glove felt like a metal wire across my knuckle as the pressure made it rigid. But if you asked me how I was doing, I would have been so very, very chipper.

About the Author

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of the historical fantasy novels Ghost Talkers and the five books in The Glamourist Histories series. She is also a multiple Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction has appeared in Uncanny,, and Asimov’s. Mary, a professional puppeteer, lives in Chicago with her husband Robert and over a dozen manual typewriters.

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.” 

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen will be a coordinated social media celebration encouraging fans to start a dialogue about women in publishing, their worlds, their voices, and their unique stories. 

Tor Books’ handles across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@torbooks) will be using the hashtags #FearlessWomen (and #FearlessFantasy and #FearlessSF) to promote excerpts, exclusive content, quizzes and giveaways beginning in May. There will also be exclusive giveaways at BookCon, San Diego Comic-Con, and New York Comic Con. Follow Tor Books online, join the conversation – and get reading!

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