Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Threshold by GM Ford (4 stars)

About Threshold

Paperback: 254 pages

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (April 21, 2015)

Acclaimed for his best-selling books featuring P.I. Leo Waterman, Ford introduces readers to a new, yet equally unorthodox hero in THRESHOLD: embattled Detective Sergeant Mickey Dolan. 


Still smarting from the very public breakup of his marriage and facing conduct complaints for use of excessive force, Dolan is at the end of his rope – and possibly at the end of his career – when he catches a case that just might turn things around: the disappearance of the wife and daughters of a powerful city councilman. Assisted by a remarkable young woman who may know the terrible truth about the missing family, Dolan soon finds he must choose between helping his career and protecting innocent lives. 

A suspenseful police thriller about a not-so-good cop given the opportunity to do the right – and most difficult – thing, THRESHOLD is a new chapter for G.M. Ford that is sure to satisfy fans of his Waterman and Frank Corso stories and new readers alike.


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Review


Detective Sergeant Mickey Dolan is already on thin ice when he find himself at the center of a case that will only make his life tougher. A powerful city councilman's family is missing, and he wants them found. Unfortunately, they don't want to be found.


In addition, there's Grace, a woman with a special gift, who's also tied to the investigation. She has her own burdens to bear.

I'll admit... in the beginning, I needed a notebook to keep up with all the elements of this story. At first, Mickey's story seemed completely separate from Grace's story. Her character, and her gift, are what drew me in. Thankfully, about one-third of the way through, the rest of the storyline picked up and started to come together. By the end, I understood and appreciated the arc.

Since this story was presented as a mystery and suspense thriller, I was confused by the real story... an emotional saga about doing what's right when faced with moral issues. Yet, that's the very thing that made me like the story. If you are looking for an intriguing who-done-it, look elsewhere. However, if you appreciate a thought-provoking story about when to stand up for what you believe in, then you'll enjoy Threshold.

Note: If my review seems vague, it's meant to be. Since the author chose to leave out many elements of the story from the blurb, it seemed only right to not divulge those storylines in my review.


Rating: 4 stars


About G. M. Ford 


G.M. Ford broke onto the mystery scene with Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?, a gin-soaked tome featuring Seattle private investigator Leo Waterman. The six-book Leo Waterman series was nominated for several awards, including the Shamus, the Anthony, and the Lefty. In 2001, Ford launched a new series featuring disgraced reporter Frank Corso and his goth assistant, Meg Dougherty. In 2011, after a twelve-year hiatus, he decided to write a new Leo Waterman novel, Thicker Than Water, which Thomas & Mercer promptly bought. His eighth Leo Waterman book, Chump Change, followed in 2014. Ford lives and works in Seattle, and is married to the beautiful and talented mystery author Skye Kathleen Moody.
Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 

Please visit other stops on the Threshold blog tour page.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Had a Great Fall by Shawn McGuire Cover Reveal




Back Cover Blurb

A new home in a new state. The chance to get away from the relentless bullies and reinvent himself. Then on the first day at his new high school, Robin Westmore finds himself in the exact wrong place at the exact wrong time and right back into the role of victim. All Robin can do now is wish for the harassment to stop.

Being the leader of the genie world is not what Desiree expected. The Guides aren’t happy with her or any of the decisions she makes. The only thing they all agree on is that they want their old boss back, but Kaf has vanished, leaving the Guides in shock and Desiree with a broken heart.

While Desiree hides from her responsibilities, Robin disappears into the video game he’s created. There he finds excitement, adventure, and control. When the game presents him with an escape from his tortured life, will he take it?


Excerpt
Chapter One
Robin

Maybe I could call in sick. With something fatal. Something so contagious the entire high school would contract it just by looking at me. Was there such a thing? I took out my phone. “Okay, Google. What is visual contagion?”
“Good morning, Robin.”
For half a second I thought my phone had learned my name. And had started speaking in my mom’s voice? I entered the kitchen and found Mom in her pink bathrobe with the tea stain down the front, waiting for me. She must’ve heard me talking to my phone.
“Morning.” I set my messenger bag by the back door and took a seat at the kitchen bar.
Google had only come up with only one direct hit and was now blinking at me, waiting for something that would challenge its storage banks. The ‘contagion’ it presented wasn’t even a disease. It was some company in Vancouver that spread positive messages on organic hemp or bamboo T-shirts. Great. I ask for science, I get hippies.
“Do you think Visual Contagion would be a good name for a band?” I asked Mom as I scrolled through a few of the t-shirt pictures.
“Hmm,” Mom said, tapping her fingernail against her teacup. “A band that plays music?”
My turn to sit and blink. “What other kind is there?”
“Plenty. A wrist band. Hairband. Wedding band. Waistband.”
“Okay, okay.” She’d go on and on and then open the thesaurus app on her tablet if I didn’t stop her. “I’m a guy. I don’t think about hairbands or jewelry. Yes, I meant a band that plays music.”
“Then I’d say no. Visual Contagion, great a name as it is, would not work for a musical group.” She took a sip of her tea, Irish breakfast according to the tag hanging from the string, as she contemplated. “Auditory Contagion could work. Audio? Audial?”
Auditory Contagion would indeed be a damn cool name for a band. Almost made me want to form one. Except I couldn’t play a single instrument. Not even that plastic flute-thing they made us play in elementary school. Maybe I could compose something on my computer. I needed music for my video game anyway.
“Okay, Google. Popular music software.”
“Would you like some breakfast?” Mom asked. “Or are you just going to play with your phone until it’s time to leave?”
My mom wasn’t the most domestic person. She did like to feed people though, and when she took the time to make an actual meal, she was a great cook.
I set my phone in my lap and analyzed my hunger level. “Juice and toast with butter and jam. Two slices.”
“Two? You’re hungry today. What kind of tea?” She held up her Irish breakfast to me with a questioning look and wiggled the box as if that would lure me to the Celtic side.
English breakfast, please. With cream and two sugar cubes.”
 “Off to the range,” my dad said as he entered the kitchen and set a black case—smaller than a briefcase, larger than a lunchbox—on the gray marble counter.
“Before work?” Mom asked.
“I don’t have any meetings until ten today. I want to try out my birthday present.”
Who knew a guy could get so excited over a handgun? Then again, this one did have a built-in laser. Guns weren’t my thing, but if presented with a laser-operated piece of technology I’d be all over it. So, I could understand his enthusiasm to a point.
“Want to come with me, Robin?” Dad asked as he plugged the first of two coffee pods into the machine to fill his travel mug.
“Thanks, but I do have a meeting before ten,” I said. “I have that test first thing.”
“Finally,” Dad said. “I don’t understand the holdup on allowing you to take a placement test. You studied?”
“Of course he studied,” Mom said as though nothing could be more unthinkable than me not studying.
“I did,” I told them. “Don’t worry, I’ll pass.”
“They should put him directly into Calculus and Differential Equations,” Dad said.
“He could handle it,” Mom agreed, “but AP Calculus will be an easy A for him.”
“Good point,” Dad said and clapped me on the back, nearly knocking me off my stool. “Build that killer GPA. Get into the college of your choice and academic scholarships as well.”
“Don’t pressure him,” Mom said, setting a plate with my buttered and jammed toast on the placemat in front of me.


Bio

Shawn McGuire is the author of young adult novels that blend contemporary settings and issues with a touch of fantasy and magic. She started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that's episode IV) as a kid. She couldn't wait for the next movie to come out so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then.
Her books deal with harder topics (death of a sibling, divorce, dating violence, bullying, and teen suicide) because she believes it is important to talk about these things. Those kinds of topics can be hard to handle and a bit overwhelming, so she infuses a bit of humor in her work as well because she also believes that a sense of humor can help you get through just about anything.

Shawn lives in Colorado with her family where she spends her time reading, cooking and baking, practicing yoga and meditation, and hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.

Author Links

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Author’s Other Works

The Wish Makers Series

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ivory Ghosts by Caitlin O'Connell (3.5 stars)

About Ivory Ghosts: A Catherine Sohon Elephant Mystery

In a blockbuster debut thriller brimming with majestic wildlife, village politics, and international intrigue, a chilling quadruple homicide raises the stakes in the battle to save Africa’s elephants.

Still grieving over the tragic death of her fiancé, American wildlife biologist Catherine Sohon leaves South Africa and drives to a remote outpost in northeast Namibia, where she plans to face off against the shadowy forces of corruption and relentless human greed in the fight against elephant poaching. Undercover as a census pilot tracking the local elephant population, she’ll really be collecting evidence on the ruthless ivory traffickers.

But before she even reaches her destination, Catherine stumbles onto a scene of horrifying carnage: three people shot dead in their car, and a fourth nearby—with his brain removed. The slaughter appears to be the handiwork of a Zambian smuggler known as “the witchdoctor,” a figure reviled by activists and poachers alike. Forced to play nice with local officials, Catherine finds herself drawn to the prickly but charismatic Jon Baggs, head of the Ministry of Conservation, whose blustery exterior belies his deep investment in the poaching wars.

Torn between her developing feelings and her unofficial investigation, she takes to the air, only to be grounded by a vicious turf war between competing factions of a black-market operation that reaches far beyond the borders of Africa. With the mortality rate—both human and animal—skyrocketing, Catherine races to intercept a valuable shipment. Now she’s flying blind, and a cunning killer is on the move.

“The scientist that Caitlin O’Connell is shines through her first work of fiction, a thriller set against the illegal ivory poaching trade in Africa. With descriptions and dialect so real you feel as if you might be turning pages while sitting deep in the bush, and a skillful narrative that teaches while it thrills, this novel is a win for any animal lover or reader with a conservationist’s heart.”—Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time


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Review

Catherine Sohon went to Africa with her love to follow her dreams. After a tragic incident, her fiance was gone. Needing to a focus, she decides to go undercover in another part of Africa to face off against some elephant killings and other shady dealings.

There, she finds herself knee-deep in issues and drawn to a man, Jon, who might or might not be there to help her.

Right away, I was intrigued by Catherine. She was determined to carry on despite tragic loss. Instead of taking her dad up on his offer to help, she decides to jump in and carry forth with her passion for animals. Very little deters, or even frightens, her. 

Plus, this novel showcases the beauty of Africa as well as its demons. With amazing details and well-illustrated locals, the reader feels transported. Added to that, there's lots of information about the cruelty of those who would kill to make money, regardless of who or what is endangered.

My only disappointment was the consistency of action. I was sucked in at the beginning, then there was a mid-way slump, and finally I was back on board at the end. 

Still, there's so much to enjoy, I would definitely recommend it, especially if you like environmental and foreign issues as presented by a passionate, determined, and strong lead character. A woman, no less. (Which was made even more interesting by reading the Author's Note and discovering the author's background and own passion.)


Rating: 3.5 stars

About Caitlin O’Connell 

A world-renowned expert on elephants, Caitlin O’Connell holds a Ph.D. in ecology and is a faculty member at the Stanford University School of Medicine as well as director of life sciences for HNu Photonics. She is the author five nonfiction books about elephants, including the internationally acclaimed The Elephant’s Secret Sense, An Elephant’s Life, A Baby Elephant in the Wild, and Elephant Don, and co-author of the award-winning The Elephant Scientist. She is the co-founder and CEO of Utopia Scientific, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research and science education, and the co-founder of Triple Helix Productions, a global media forum with a mandate to develop more accurate and entertaining science content for the media. When not in the field with elephants, O’Connell divides her time between San Diego, California, and Maui, Hawaii, with her husband, Tim Rodwell, and their dog, Frodo.
Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 

Please visit other stops on the Ivory Ghosts blog tour page.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham (5 stars)

About Read Bottom Up

Print Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Dey Street Books (April 7, 2015)

A charming novel about falling in love (or like) in the digital age—the never-before-seen full story.

Madeline and Elliot meet at a New York City restaurant opening. Flirtation—online—ensues. A romance, potentially eternal, possibly doomed, begins.

And, like most things in life today, their early exchanges are available to be scrutinized and interpreted by well-intentioned friends who are a mere click away.

Madeline and Elliot’s relationship unfolds through a series of thrilling, confounding, and funny exchanges with each other, and, of course, with their best friends and dubious confidants (Emily and David). The result is a brand-new kind of modern romantic comedy, in format, in content, and even in creation—the authors exchanged e-mails in real time, blind to each other’s side conversations. You will nod in appreciation and roll your eyes in recognition; you’ll learn a thing or two about how the other half approaches a new relationship . . . and you will cheer for an unexpected ending that just might restore your faith in falling in love, twenty-first-century style.

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Review

Madeline and Elliot start up a relationship that unfolds through a series of emails and texts. To judge how it's going, they elicit the help of their friends, Emily and David. In a refreshing twist, the reader only sees the electronic communications and is not privy to any other interactions or prose.

I loved this book! It was like nothing I'd ever read before. Not only that, but it broke some of my rules for loving a book (and I can't explain which ones without having spoilers), yet I still enjoyed it. It was refreshing and very much what dating would be like today. In some ways, this made me very glad that I met my husband way before texts and emails.

Furthermore, I was amazed how well I started to relate to these characters through very limited information (said electronic exchanges). Until the ending--not what I expected, or what I though I wanted, yet it was perfect--I didn't realize how much I was enjoying the best friends, Emily and David.

I highly recommend Read Bottom Up. It's unique, captivating, interesting, engaging, and totally unexpected. Kudos to the authors! I can't help but hope there's a second book in the works and coming soon.


Rating: 5 stars

About Neel Shah and Skye Chatham
neel

Neel Shah is a screenwriter in Los Angeles. He used to be a reporter at the New York Post and his work has appeared in GlamourGQ, and New Yorkmagazine.

Skye Chatham is a writer living in New York. Her work has appeared in various publications, including GQ and Maxim.
skye


Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 

Please visit other stops on the Read Bottom Up blog tour page.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Rising Trilogy: Complete Box Set by Amy Miles Release Day Blitz



iBooks: http://apple.co/1E6pz69
B&N: http://bit.ly/1A03LW6
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1GvFGxK


The Rising Trilogy box set featuring full length novels: 
Defiance Rising, Relinquish and Vengeance

Defiance Rising:

Illyria has never known a life without the Rebellion. 

Instinct. 

Survival. 

Nothing else matters…until she ventures out into unknown territory and is faced with an enemy that proves even more fierce and determined than she ever thought. 

Bastien is infuriating, dangerous and annoyingly gorgeous. Eamon is familiar, comforting and turning into a man before her eyes. Both want her heart...but she is torn between duty and desire. When her choice affects all of mankind, how can she allow herself to be selfish? 
There is a power within her that can change everyone’s fate…but she underestimated the most potent force on Earth—love. Illyria must discover if she has the strength to sacrifice her heart to save mankind 

Relinquish:

The rising is over, but the war continues to rage. King Aloysius knows Illyria exists and will stop at nothing to possess her. Jealousy drives a wedge between Illyria and Eamon. When Bastien reveals himself as her guide into enemy territory, an ambush lands them in captivity. Illyria is faced with the truth that she is not ready to face her destiny…or let Bastien go again.

Vengeance:

Even though memories may be altered, a heart can never forget its true love. 
Peace has come to Calisted under Illyria’s new reign as Queen. Volunteers return to Earth to help its people begin to rebuild. With her new husband at her side, Illyria has many things to celebrate and yet she worries that this time of peace is only fleeting. 
Dreams of a man with piercing sapphire blue eyes haunt Illyria nightly and she can’t shake the feeling that she knows this stranger, or worse...that he knows her too. 
When an attack on the palace leaves her imprisoned on a distant planet, Illyria must discover a strength within herself to survive, but she’s not fighting just for herself any more. This time mercy is not an option. All Illyria cares about is vengeance.



Author Amy Miles has always been a bit of a dreamer. Growing up as an only child, and a military brat to boot, she spent countless hours escaping into the pages of a book, only to spend the following days creating a new idea of how to twist up the story to make it unique.

Since becoming a mother, Amy has slowly nourished her love of the written word while snatching writing time in the midst of soiled diapers, tumbling over legos and peering around mounds of laundry and dishes that never seem to go away. Once her only son started school, Amy was free to let her fingers dive into dark mythology, tales of betrayal and love, and explore human nature in its rawest form. Her love of seeing the world from a different angle bloomed.

Amy is the author of several novels, including her popular young adult immortal books, The Arotas Series, which are an Amazon and iBooks bestselling series. Unwilling to be defined by any one genre, she proceeded to flip over to a science fiction/fantasy based idea with her Rising Trilogy. She then dove into contemporary romance with her novel, Captivate and explored the depths of her own faith with In Your Embrace.
Join her at www.AmyMilesBooks.com
Follow on Twitter: @AmyMilesBooks
Instagram: Amy Miles Books
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Our Penned Con team is so very excited to add a TEEN DAY this year. We want to be able to encourage and inspire up and coming authors. If you are bringing a teen with you please make sure you plan to come on Thursday for a day of fun, learning and a private book signing with our attending YA authors just for the teens!
Tickets are $10 and includes lunch and a swag bag.
We only have room for 100 teens so PLEASE make sure you grab your spot now. We are contacting local schools next week with an open invite and don't want you to miss out!


To purchase your event tickets please go to: http://bit.ly/PennedCon2015tickets

SCHEDULE

9-10 registration

10-10:45 opening and ice breaker game
11-12 Workshop: So you want to be an author? Learn the steps to take from today’s successful Young Adult authors on how to transition from scribbled handwriting in a notebook to a published work. Learn insider tips to book signings, author meet & greets and fandom.
12-1 lunch
1-2 Workshop: Trends. Are they a thing or just a guideline? How to determine what genre your story fits into and whether or not you should go with the flow or do your own thing.
2:15-3 Panel Open Q&A from New York Times/USA Today best selling authors Colleen Hoover, Denise Grover Swank, Chanda Hahn and LP Dover
3-4 Books to Movies How to go from landing an agent to getting your book on the Big Screen and all of the steps in between.
4-6 Private Book Signing (Open to come and go as you please)

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Rooftop Inventor by Nooce Miller Cover Reveal

 
THE ROOFTOP INVENTOR
by
Nooce Miller

The Rooftop Inventor (The STEAMPUNK Adventures of Theodocia Hews – Book 1)
Release date: May 1, 2015
Genre: YA Steampunk Fantasy Romance
Blurb
It’s 1879 and seventeen-year-old Theodocia Hews is out of control. Her inventor father Orin Hews tried to raise her to be a proper lady, but Theo says and does whatever she wants. Since girls aren’t supposed to be inventors, she’s secretly building her own airship up on the roof of their house. When her father is attacked and his valuable invention is stolen, she sets out in her untested airship to get her father’s contraption back. She’d better hurry. Her father’s contract with his buyer expires in three days and without it they’re ruined.
The airship lifts off but things get complicated when Theo finds an unintended passenger aboard. Henry Caracticus Thorne—the thief she’d spotted that morning making off with things in the market—is an altogether unsuitable companion. But he’s unlike anyone she’s ever met before, he’s willing to help, and he’s drop-dead gorgeous. As they soar through the sky in the close quarters of Theo’s airship, it’s not just the steam engine heating up.
Theo has a hunch who took her father’s invention. Will she manage to catch the culprit before it’s too late? What did that strange lightning storm do to Theo and Henry? And will Theo give in to her heart and act on her growing feelings for Henry?
The Adventures of Theodocia Hews is a humorous YA steampunk adventure/romance series set in 1879 Cincinnati in an alternate universe where the evil institution of slavery was abolished shortly after the United States was founded, the Civil War never happened, crazy inventions are commonplace, and steam power rules!

 About the Author

Nooce Miller writes fantasy, speculative fiction, and YA steampunk. Technical writer, lawyer, marketing communications editor, medical writer, she’s held a lot of jobs, but her current gig is the one she likes best—author. Her favorite music to write to is silence because the dialogue turns out better. She’s also fond of birdsong, thunder, and the sound of the wind in the trees. She sees herself as a visually creative person, though others might disagree once they’ve been exposed to the questionable quality of her drawings, paintings, and photography. She drinks a lot of hot Earl Grey tea, usually in the company of her dog Stinky—who never partakes.

She’s lived in six different states and one foreign country. Tiring of so much moving, she undertook to persuade her husband that they should settle down and enjoy the four glorious seasons of her beloved Midwest until their two sons were grown, and lo and behold, it worked.


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