Happy New Year!

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Candle_NewYear

It is going to be a new year and we are excited about it.  A whole new year full of the prospect of good books.  All of that promise out there makes me giddy.  New worlds to explore and old friends to visit.  There is going to be so much to read.  How can anyone not be over joyed by all of that excitement?  I thought I would share just a small fraction of the books that we are excited about next year.  Shhh, don’t tell Jessica.  She’s still on vacation.

Alright, let’s face it, we’re excited about all of the books that are coming out next year.  That would be a really long list though so here are just a few of the ones that we’re paying attention to.  Just so you know- this is no where near a complete list.  We have calendars.  The real kind that go on the wall marked off with release dates.  Instead of composing an ode to the new year and how grateful we are for its bounty I’ll just get to the list now.

  1. Skin Game by Jim Butcher
  2. Rein of Ash by Gail Z. Martin
  3. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
  4. Sea of Shadows by Kelly Armstrong
  5. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page
  6. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
  7. Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan
  8. Unhinged by A. G. Howard
  9. Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
  10. House on the Square by Kate Danley

We would like to thank you, our readers, for coming to us for your book suggestions.  It means a great deal and we are already working hard to bring you great reviews and author interviews for next year.  We would like to wish everyone a happy new year.  Please remember to be kind to one another and most of all read.

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

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The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

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Barnes and Noble

Indiebound

I was in desperate need of something fun to read.  The books that I’ve been reading lately have had serious, the world is in peril, plots.  If I remember correctly this book was a Kindle deal of the day.  I remember seeing it and thinking that it looked fun.  I love book covers.  You’ve probably guessed that by now.

I was right, by the way, it was fun.  It was a rousing tower heist with a diverse cast of characters.  There is a shapeshifting unicorn, a death priestess with a war hammer, a couple of former soldiers and a safecracker among others.  When I say tower heist I actually mean a floating city with palaces on it.  It’s called Heaven’s Spire.  Loch and her band of thieves want to steal a manuscript from the man that killed Loch’s family and left her behind enemy lines to die during the war.  The manuscript is worth a lot of money to the elves and Loch’s thieves want to cash in.  Most of them are there for the money.  I say most because the death priestess is there to fulfill the will of the gods.

This story was funny and sad and scary but my favorite part was the puppets.  Everyone gets the news by watching puppet shows.  There are griffons and dragons and a manticore.  They have a debate about the news story and say all kinds of things that a newscaster would never be able to say.  All of that accompanied by candy being tossed to the crowd and little bits of magic for special effects.  It had my attention.  They end every show with: “Remember, everyone, it’s your republic.  Stay informed!”  I loved it.  If our news was presented in such a fashion I would watch it instead of reading it online.

My only word of caution for this book is to pay attention.  The names are heavy.  The war hammer is called Ghylspwr.  I have no idea how you pronounce that.  The shape shifting unicorn is named Ululenia.  Again, I don’t have a clue.  It wasn’t distracting though.  I read enough fantasy that I don’t get hung up on it anymore.  There are few gods in the fantasy genre that I’m able to pronounce.  I even think it’s more fun that way.

I really hope Patrick Weekes writes more books.  I don’t know anything about gaming so his genius there is lost on me there but I can tell you that this was a great book and I wish I would have read it sooner.  I also had a really hard time putting it down.  It was entertaining and charming.  It belongs on the top ten list of best books that I read this year.

PicsArt_1375992730999PG-13 Kail insinuates that he has slept with a lot of men’s mothers.  The shape shifting unicorn, who’s name I still can’t pronounce, has a thing for male virgins.  There is also a satyr… you have to read it to believe it but it’s funny.

 

 

 

 

Check out:

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Some Of The Best Short Fiction

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     So Jessica’s on vacation until the new year.  That means that I have been left to mind the blog all by my lonesome.  Since I’ve been left to my own devices for the rest of the year I’ve decided to make the last Novella Thursday post of year count.  I want to look back over Novella Thursday and give it its due.  Novella Thursday has come to encompass all manner of short fiction.  We had no idea when we started Novella Thursday that there was a major shortage of novella’s in the world.  We take suggestions by the way so if you have any send us an email by clicking on the contact us tab at the top of the page.
     I’ve read some great short fiction this year.  I’ve had the pleasure of discovering authors that I would most likely never have stumbled upon (Terry W. Ervin II who is on my list to read next year) . I think one of the joys in life is to read a short story and then discover that author has written novels.  I experienced that most recently with Short Fuses by Stephen Leather.  After story number two in the collection he wrote that he always considered the unnamed character to be Spider Shepherd.  I went right to Amazon and downloaded Hard Landing.  If for some reason you haven’t read the stories in Short Fuses yet you’re missing out and shame on you.
     I guess that I fall into the group of people that feel like short fiction doesn’t get the respect that it deserves.  People tend to disregard short fiction and act as if the author put less effort into it.  Short fiction is an art.  When short fiction is done properly it’s beautiful.  I feel the same way about poetry but that’s a post for another time.  For now, enjoy our list of some of the short fiction that we were really excited about this year.
This list isn’t in any order.  We would never rank stories.
  1. The Flash Gold Chronicles by Lindsay Buroker
  2. Short Fuses by Stephen Leather
  3. Shadow Lantern by Gareth Lewis
  4. Haunted Love by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  5. Dark Places (A Gryphonwood Anthology)
  6. Cinderella is Evil by Jamie Campbell
  7. Her Mad Hatter by Marie Hall
  8. The Loneliness of Jacob Rozinski by Julian Lorr
  9. Bah Humbug by Heather Horrocks
  10. Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

A Study in Ashes by Emma Jane Holloway

A study in AshesA Study in Ashes (The Third book in the Baskerville Affair)

by Emma Jane Holloway

Publication Date: December 31, 2013

Kindle

Barnes and Noble

Summary:

As part of her devil’s bargain with the industrial steam barons, Evelina Cooper is finally enrolled in the Ladies’ College of London. However, she’s attending as the Gold King’s pet magician, handcuffed and forbidden contact with even her closest relation, the detective Sherlock Holmes.

But Evelina’s problems are only part of a larger war. The Baskerville affair is finally coming to light, and the rebels are making their move to wrest power from the barons and restore it to Queen Victoria. Missing heirs and nightmare hounds are the order of the day—or at least that’s what Dr. Watson is telling the press.

But their plans are doomed unless Evelina escapes to unite her magic with the rebels’ machines—and even then her powers aren’t what they used to be. A sorcerer has awakened a dark hunger in Evelina’s soul, and only he can keep her from endangering them all. The only problem is . . . he’s dead.

My Review:

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This is the conclusion of the steam punk Trilogy The Baskerville Affair, and what an ending it is.  This series has everything from Magic, to gadgets to danger and treachery.

This was originally suppose to be Lynn’s book as steam punk is more her taste then mine, and eventually I have a feeling you will hear her thoughts on this trilogy as well, but I want to say that I am glad I read it.  It was fun and entertaining and action packed.

The ending was everything you were hoping for and so much more. The war that everyone has been anticipating is upon us.  And unfortunately not everyone will survive. Lives will change and dreams will come true.

Evalina’s dark magic is pulling her.  The bracelets are helping to keep it under control but she is afraid of her power if they ever come off.  The dashing pirate Nick has been taken prisoner and presumed dead. His escape is a dramatic one. Tobias is settling into his life with with Alice and there baby Jeremy.

The twist with Imogen is very interesting and I enjoyed the time spent with her stuck inside the clock fighting the soul of her twin. Believe me I would have burned it too the minute I woke up!

I really enjoyed these characters and how much they have grown. There is so much more I could say, but don’t want to spoil it. If you have read the rest of the series I am sure you are anticipating this one!

PicsArt_1375992687897PG-13 There is a little of everything.  Murder, sex, scandal.  I LOVE IT!

Viola’s Christmas Trilogy

No Smoking SantaTwas the Night Before Christmas

by Clement C. Moore

Kindle

Barnes and Noble

Jessica’s Review:

First published in 1823 the night before Christmas was a staple in my house growing up and something I have continued with my Children. As the days to Christmas get closer and closer it is a story Viola wants to hear each night.

Viola’s Review:

Santa is in the sleigh with the reindeer and they are coming across the sky.  The man sees him and you suppose to be sleeping when Santa comes.  I like this book because Santa is in it and he is bringing presents.

jingle all the wayJingle All the Way

by Tom Shay-Zapien

Kindle

Barnes and Noble

Summary:

Jingle All the Way is the tale of a loveable, obedient pup who wants nothing more than a place to call home for the holidays.

Little ones will love hearing this story as a narrator reads to them, page by page. And if he’s nearby, the Jingle Story Buddy® stuffed animal will respond when you read key phrases from the story.

Jessica’s Review:

This is a cute story about a puppy who finds a home.  A little boy who wants to love him.  We didn’t have the Stuffed Dog the first time we read it, but Viola still really liked it.  So I went out and got the dog.  It is now one of her favorites.  The stuffed dog is truly unique.

Viola’s Review: 

The puppy is sad when the kids don’t come to school, but then he is happy when he is home.  I LOVE this book.  They are happy at then end.

the deep and snowy woodsThe Deep and Snowy Woods

by Elwyn Tate

Kindle

Summary:

A deer, a squirrel and a mole know a secret.!
They know that once a year a very special person plays a brief visit to the Deep and Snowy Wood. Who could this special person be?

Journey with all the animals as they travel through a beautiful winter wonderland.
Jessica’s Review: 
All the animals are running threw the woods.  Something is coming.  I have to admit when I bought this book I didn’t realize it was a  Christmas story and was surprised when I got to the end.  But it is cute and the pictures and nicely drawn.
Viola’s Review:  
They are running and hoping and digging.  No one knows were they are going but they leave foot prints in the snow.  Then Santa is there and all the animals are excited!!

Bah Humbug A Christmas Street Novella by Heather Horrocks

bah humbugBah Humbug

by Heather Horrocks

Kindle

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Summary:

Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller.

For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block–until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman’s body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show.

From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood?

Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

My Review:

So lets just throw the time line of the story aside.  This was a wonderful, cute, clean Chirstmas Novella. I loved Lexi and her kids and I loved Kyle.

Alexis “Lexi” Anderson has just moved to Christmas street. She and her kids have been on there own for a long time.  She married to try and create the family she was missing and it didn’t work to her benefit, but she has done well for herself. She has her won decorating and cooking TV show and is a celebrity in her own right.

Kyle Miller is a well known Author of Middle age books. He writes about Jarod Strong the man who can solve any mystery. Kyle is the scrooge of Christmas street refusing to decorate when all his neighbors do.

As Lexi prepares for her first show in her new home she creates the perfect snowman for her show. Then comes Kyle. Fighting writers block and not sure how to end his next adventure with Jarod Strong he sees the snowman and inspiration hits.  This causes an interesting first meeting. Ultimately the two end up friends and agreeing to help each other out.  Both have been threw tragedies in there lives.  Lexi offers to help get Kyle in the Christmas spirit and cater a Christmas weekend for his family.

There is an emotional journey in this story.  The characters are well written and the story itself is fun. I enjoyed every bit of it. I highly recommend this uplifting Christmas story.

PicsArt_1375992687897PG  Just good clean Christmas romance.

Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol

Inescapable The Premonition Series  By Amy A. Bartol

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Evie Claremont starts her freshman year of college at Crestwood completely unaware that her life is about to change forever.  Reed Wellington knows Evie is trouble the second he lays eyes on her and he knows what he should do about it.  The problem is he’s drawn to her.  In an epic way that he doesn’t fully understand.

Everyone is keeping secrets.  Someone doesn’t even know that they are keeping a secret.  All of the secrets are huge. They will change lives or end them.

This book was completely unique, so unique in fact that I’ve had a hard time defining it. It isn’t angst ridden in the usual way.  I’ve read my share of angsty teen novels this year so I have become well acquainted with angst.  This angst was different it felt real and not manufactured.  The book starts out the way you would expect.  Girl meets boys, girl is confused by boys (for different reasons) but that is where normalcy ends.  I don’t want to say too much.  I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

I was surprised, however, that this book hasn’t had more attention than it has.  It is equal to the Fallen series and the Hush Hush series.  I was most impressed by the fight scenes.  You haven’t read anything until you’ve read an angel fight scene.  My favorite was the parking lot fight.  That was probably because of what came after it though.  I have found that in urban fantasy books the characters with the extra special powers often don’t really use them.  I was pleased to see that they did get used in this book.

This book explores a great triangle.  Like everything else in this book, it involves a unique love triangle.  Everyone has a soul mate and Russell is her soul mate.  What happens when someone unexpected shows up and fate is put to the test?  Fate doesn’t go quietly into the night I can tell you that.

I was impressed with the ending.  Not everything is fine at the end of this book.  The characters don’t come through it unscathed.  Evie is in a bad way by the end of it.  She is an emotional wreck and that carries over to the next book.

Evie’s journey is far from over and if this first book was any indication of her progression from mere human to heroine her fate truly is inescapable and I can’t wait to read about it.

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PG-13  Violence

The Best of 2013

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We thought that we would take a moment this holiday season and look back at all of the books we read this year.  It was an extensive list even though this blog was only started in May.  We read a lot more books than you see here.  That’s why practically everything on this blog has at least four stars.  We starting talking about how much we loved some of the books we read this year and decided to put our very favorites into a list.  Christmas is coming and any of these books would be a great gift to give or receive.  They are not in any order because we loved them equally.  This list doesn’t include any of the fantastic shorter fiction that we read this year.  That list will be a hard one to compile.  We’ve read some amazing short fiction.  We’ll have that list for you later in the month.  Enjoy our best of 2013.

Lynn’s List

1. Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin

2. The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

3. Cursed by Lizzy Ford

4. The Flash Gold Chronicles by Lindsay Buroker

5. Starling by Leslie Livingston

6. Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth

8. Allusive Aftershock by Susan Griscom

9. Ember by Jessica Sorensen (Original YA version)

10. Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol   (Review will post on Monday 12/16)

Jessica’s List

1. Something Wicked by Angela Campbell

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

3. First Frost by Liz Dejesus

4. Tomorrow’s Sun by Becky Melby

5. The Frog Prince by Elle Lothlorien

6. Remembrance by Michelle Madow

7. Captured by Erica Stevens

8. Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

9. The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

10. The Truth About Butterflies by Nancy Stephan

Short Fuses by Stephen Leather

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Short Fuses by Stephen Leather

15770355Book Description: Four free short stories from bestselling author Stephen Leather, plus opening chapters of six of his bestselling thrillers.

The short stories are: Breaking In (where a burglar gets more than he bargained for when he breaks into a London house), Strangers On A Train (where a mugging on a train doesn’t go to plan), Inspector Zhang and the Hotel Guest (where the Singaporean detective solves a mystery) and Cat’s Eyes (the backstory of a Bangkok go-go dancer).

There are also tasters of six of his bestselling novels, including The Chinaman, The Vets and The Birthday Girl.

Stephen Leather is one of the UK’s most successful thriller writers. He was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Before that, he was employed as a biochemist for ICI, shovelled limestone in a quarry, worked as a baker, a petrol pump attendant, a barman, and worked for the Inland Revenue. He began writing full time in 1992. His bestsellers have been translated into more than ten languages. He has also written for television shows such as London’s Burning, The Knock and the BBC’s Murder in Mind series. Two of his books, The Stretch and The Bombmaker, were made into movies.

My Review:

Reading these short stories was like eating potato chips.  I would say just one more and after that one I would say just one more.  Then I was done.   There are only four.

These are really short stories.  I don’t want to say to much about the stories in this book and ruin them.  They are so short that you could read one on your lunch break or waiting to pick someone up or even while you’re waiting for your stop on the bus.  Maybe mass transit isn’t the place to read story number two.  Then again maybe it is.

This book isn’t sweet, warm and fuzzy.  These stories are violent and people die.  They are also mesmerizing.  One moment it has you worried for a cat burglar that broke into someones house and the next it has you terrified by gang members.  That’s how all of the stories are.  They had unexpected plot twists.   I loved it.  It’s free.  Check it out.  I bet you go right back to Amazon or B&N and buy one of his novels.

Don’t miss More Short Fuses by Stephen Leather

PicsArt_1375992687897R- Violence

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original background: Silver Black Background 2 by Maliz Ong from PublicDomainPictures.net

Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn

closed heartsClosed Hearts

by Susan Kaye Quinn

Kinde

Barnes and Noble

Summary:

Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown–a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash–Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers.

My Review: 

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I was really looking forward to reading the second book in the mind jacker trilogy.  As you know I really liked the first one and gave it a four star review.  Unfortunately this one left me a little disappointed. Kira the girl who broke the knowledge to the world of the Jacker’s existence, who should be the face of the Jacker revolution, is now an insecure girl again who is “out of practice” with her jacking.  Can someone explain to me how that is possible.  I mean at the beginning of the book she is working as a mind guard for a very important business man.  How would he feel if he learned that she was out of practice.

Her family has gone into hiding, but they have not gone far because she still sees Raf and of course Molloy finds her.  I actually found Kira weak and she was so strong at the end of Open Minds.  She is also somewhat naive.  Her father was a Navy Intelligence officer who worked for the government on undercover missions.  How can she not think he did things to other Jackers in the past. He thought he was doing the right thing.

Closed Hearts was slow going.  What should have taken me just a couple of days took me about two weeks to read. The action didn’t start picking up till I was a little more then halfway threw and even then it picked up only to slow down again.  The best part of the book was the end when Kira finally understood what she had to do.  I will read the third book.  The first one was very good and the last has to be better.  Come on Kira you have a back bone! Use it!!

PicsArt_1375992512306PG  It’s a good clean YA story.

 

 

 

 

Open Minds by Susan Kaye QuinnSee our review of Open Minds the first book in the MindJack Trilogy.