Sunday, April 26, 2015

Footsteps in the Sky by Greg Keyes

Science Fiction

From Goodreads:

The pueblo people who landed on the Fifth World found it Earthlike, empty, and ready for colonization . . . but a century later, they are about to meet the planet’s owners

One hundred years ago, Sand’s ancestors made the long, one-way trip to the Fifth World, ready to work ceaselessly to terraform the planet. Descendants of native peoples like the Hopi and Zuni, they wanted to return to the way of life of their forebears, who honored the Kachina spirits.

Now, though, many of the planet’s inhabitants have begun to resent their grandparents’ decision to strand them in this harsh and forbidding place, and some have turned away from the customs of the Well-Behaved People. Sand has her doubts, but she longs to believe that the Kachina live on beyond the stars and have been readying a new domain for her people.

She may be right. Humans have discovered nine habitable worlds, all with life that shares a genetic code entirely alien to any on Earth. Someone has been seeding planets, bringing life to them. But no other sign of the ancient farmers has ever been discovered—until one day they return to the Fifth World. They do not like what they find.

The title, Footsteps in the Sky, comes from the Hopi legend where the people heard footsteps in the sky and left one world for another.  In this case the world is one someone else started to change but have never come back to live on.  The Hopi come and make small changes so the world fits humans.  They call it the Fifth World and this time they get on space ships to go from the Forth World to the Fifth.

This started out as little strange and then took a hard right and became another trope about humans and aliens.  I liked the change and Sand, the main character.  She is in pain from her Mother’s death and that drives her actions.  While Sand has the main POV other characters are also featured.  I thought that made for a stronger story. 

I like the mixture of modern science and Hopi tradition.  It kept the story and plot more interesting.  Foot Steps in the Sky is a good addition to anyone’s SciFi library. 


This is the first time I have read a book by Keyes.  A search did not turn up a web site for Keyes but did have several sites that list his books.  I noticed that he writes series.  This could be book one or it could be a stand-alone.  Only time will tell.

Amazon Digital Services published Footsteps in the Sky by Grey Keyes in 2015.

I received a free ARC of Footsteps in the Sky from Amazon Vine in return for an honest review.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

STacking The Shelves - April 25, 2015


Books Stacked on My Shelves
Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books I added to my shelves this week. They may it be physical or virtual. I include books I buy in a physical store or online, books I borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.  Follow the link to see what others have on their shelves. 

From Netgalley for Review


Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Emergency: Dave vs. the Monsters by John Birmingham           
Spider’s Trap by Jennifer Estep           
His Blushing Bride by Dani Collins           
Ghost Fleet by P.W. Singer and August Cole
Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell
Free From Amazon
Mortal Enchantment by Stacey O’Neale
Collapse (New America #1) by Richard Stephenson
Emergence (David Hooper, #1)
Mortal Enchantment (Mortal Enchantment, #1)Collapse (New America, #1)My Steadfast Heart (Thorne Brothers, #1)
Spider's Trap (Elemental Assassin, #13)
His Blushing BrideKnight's Shadow (Greatcoats, #2)Uprooted
Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

Friday, April 24, 2015

Eternal Sacrifice by Stacey O'Neale Cover Reveal and Giveaway


Author Stacey O’Neale is sponsoring a cover reveal and giveaway for her new book in the Mortal Enchantment series.  At the same time she is putting the first two books up for free on Amazon.  Here are the details:

 If you're new to the series, this is the BEST TIME to check it out!!!

THE SHADOW PRINCE & MORTAL ENCHANTMENT are currently available for FREE on Amazon from April 24th through April 28th. I promise, this the ONE AND ONLY TIME I will do this, so pick up your copies NOW!!!


And now, here is the cover of the last book in the series, ETERNAL SACRIFICE!!!
Drum roll, please...
EternalSacrifice.v2-Final.v2
As promised, here is the Gift Card CONTEST!!!
 
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Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 - April 24, 2014


I'm linking up with Rose City Reader for Book Beginnings and Freda's Voice for Page 56. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Pick the closest book on your book stack and join the fun.

The Beginning:

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, #5)"The starter complained as it turned over the old Buick's heavy engine. I felt a lot of sympathy for it since fighting outside my weight class was something I was intimately familiar with."

Page 56: 

"Showing me his weakness was a sign of trust. Under normal circumstance, that trust would mean I was safer with him."

From Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs. This is book 5 in the Mercy Thompson series. I started reading the Charles and Anna spin off from this series and then went over and read the current Mercy books. Now I am still going back and reading the first five that I missed. Sometimes this does not work well but with this series it is keeping my interest and making me want to go back and re-read the latest books.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) by Jennifer Estep


Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)YA Paranormal
From Goodreads:

There Be Monsters Here. . .
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power. 

 
I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.


But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her.
.


World Building:  As the book started I expected it to be set in a magical middle ages kingdom.  That changed after a few pages.  This is set in the US with everything just like today except for the magic, monsters, and town that does not exist.  The first few chapters lay out the description of the town and the rules for the monsters and the magic.  It flows without really slowing out the story.

Plot:  It was familiar.  The girl from the streets who has to protect the son of one of the main families in the town.  It is well written and easy to read and the even though it followed a familiar theme it was a satisfying read.

Characters:  I found it easy to get into the head of the characters.  Some were very well developed and some were more of a sketch than a person.  Even so all worked well in the context of the story.

Writing:  The story was well-written and again very easy to read.  The world building, plot and characters development allowed the reader to enjoy the story without anything pulling you out of the book.

All in all this is a good start to a new YA series and I will be looking for the next book in the series.  While one problem is solved there is a much bigger problem for future books.

Kensington published A Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep in 2015.

I received an ARC of A Cold Burn of Magic from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I received an ARC of A Cold Burn of Magic from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Leviathan Chronicles by James Mascia Virtual Tour and Giveaway



James Mascia is awarding 5 copies of the ebook in either mobi or epub formats to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Visit all the participating blogs for additional chances to win.

The Leviathan Chronicles: The Last Stand at Aeprion
by James Mascia


Welcome to the Virtual Tour for The Leviathan Chronicles by James Mascia.  I asked James to comment on how he does his world building.  I hope you will enjoy his post as much a I have.  Now here is James.

How I Did My World Building

The Leviathan Chronicles is like a classic pulp science fiction story. So, in order to build the world for it, I essentially started from the bottom floor and build level after level on top of it. Through the fifteen years since I started the project and finally published one of the stories, it has actually had a number of versions.

When I started on The Leviathan Chronicles, it was originally intended as a Star Wars fan fiction. It was set in the Star Wars universe, yet included none of the traditional characters from the movies or books. This idea quickly fell away, to be replaced with a story, set in our galaxy, but in which Earth is a distant memory and humans are a minority. Then, it changed yet again, to include Earth, but an Earth unlike the one we know today, where thousands of years ago colony ships were sent out thousands of years ago in the hopes of averting the extinction of the human race, and then forgotten and humanity miraculously survived back on Earth. It is in this last version of my world that the current stories are set.
So, the question remains, how did I build my world? The answer to that is easy. I didn’t.

I know it sounds strange, but hear me out. I start with several ideas. 

In The Last Stand at Aeprion, I started with the idea of a man searching for a fabled living planet. Even when I wrote this story fifteen years ago, that was all I started with, this simple idea. I thought it would be fun to have a character that was like Indiana Jones in space. So, I started the story (even as I rewrote it recently for publishing) with essentially a blank canvas. That canvas quickly got filled in. My character, Joel, was from Earth, which is still thriving, but overcrowded, so he wanted to leave. He travels with his wife, who convinces him to search for this godlike living planet, and in the process they come across an alien hunter, who then becomes obsessed with having them as trophies on his wall.
So, yes, I suppose I did build my world, but I did so as I was writing the story, filling it in with the essentials as I went. This is definitely not the traditional way of doing things (or so I’m told), especially for science fiction. Many authors have things plotted out piece by piece. Some authors have whole maps with details of planets and peoples on different worlds before they even put pen to paper. Now, I do have things like that, however, I add them to my journal as I come up with them.

I do it this way because I want things to be spontaneous. I can change the direction of my story in any way I want (and I usually do). So for me, having my world fixed until it is written on the paper doesn’t work with me. But once it’s written, it’s set in stone. For instance, when I revisit Aeprion in future stories (which I will), I will be using what I wrote for this story to build that world further.

Where will it take me, I don’t even know yet. But for me, that’s part of the fun of writing the story.  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Still reeling from his wife's murder, Joel tries to escape the alien hunter and fulfill a promise he made to her. Years of searching for the fabled planet, Aeprion, has left the space freighter captain torn between giving up the search or giving himself up to Kraxem, an alien hunter.

When Kraxem and his minions attack Joel's ship again, he is forced into the nebula, where he'll have to do repairs. Once there, his thoughts revert back to the final day of Kate's life and the promises that were made. Learning to come to terms with her loss and release the guilt that he feels will be a hard battle to fight, but giving up will prove to be even more difficult and, perhaps, deadly.

Steeling his resolve to forge on, Joel vows to find the fabled living planet before guilt devours his soul and all is lost.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My Thoughts On Leviathan Chronicles

I enjoyed the Leviathan Chronicles.  Often I do not like books with multiple flash backs but in Leviathan Chronicles it works really well.  This is action, adventure and loss than many of us can identify with.  It is not a long book.  The plot is real Space Opera with a touch of more. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT

Joel ran from the cargo bay to make a beeline for the cockpit. “We’ll talk about this later.” Then he addressed the computer. “Wanderer, raise shields and start the engines.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Kate was two steps behind him. “What are you going to do?”

“Clean up your mess, as usual.” He jumped into the pilot’s seat and grabbed the controls. “Hold on!”

Through the viewport, Joel found himself staring down the barrel of a particularly nasty-looking plasma cannon. Behind that cannon stood a group of aliens with yellow, wrinkled skin over a wide-stretched head and bulbous eyes sticking out at each side.

One of these aliens, who appeared to be in command by the way he was barking orders at the others, wore a cape that flapped in the gusts being created by the revving engines. This particular alien glared at him with a piercing stare that seemed to bore into his skull.

“Would that be the other interested party?” He toggled some switches, helping the engines cycle up faster.

“Yeah, that’s him.”

“I think he really wants that rock.”

The ship shuddered again and the viewport filled with a blinding light as the cannon fire struck the shields. Alarms beeped rapidly on the console until Joel slammed his fist down on it.

“I take it back. He wants to kill us, and then he wants the rock.”

“Shields down to 60 percent,” Kate warned.

Another shot hit the shields, setting off another round of blaring alarms.

“35 percent.”

Joel stared at the alien. Having never encountered this particular species before, he wasn’t an expert at reading their facial expressions. But if he had to describe what he was looking at, he would have said it was unchained rage.

“Open the loading ramp and drop that stupid rock out.”

Kate glared at him in disbelief. “What? No!”

Joel spun in his chair to face her. “I’m assuming you’ve already scanned the hieroglyphs on it, right?”

Kate nodded, her bottom lip quivering, knowing what he was about to tell her.

“Then we don’t need it anymore. This guy obviously wants it, and is willing to do anything to get it. And since I don’t want to die today, let’s let him have it.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

He fights evil across the known universe and crushes them between his fingers (at least, he does this with his words). 

James Mascia is an accomplished writer with a bestselling series, High School Heroes, as well as a bestselling graphic novel, The Poe Murders. He has always been a fan of sci-fi, and is glad to be delving back into the galaxy once again.

James teaches in Maryland, where he also writes. He has a lovely wife and a tiny terror (a two-year-old) driving him mad, but making him laugh.

Check out some of his other work below:


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April 13: Long and Short Reviews
April 14: Lilac Reviews - review
April 15: Independent Authors
April 16: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
April 17: Archaeolibrarian - I dig good books! - review
April 20: Straight from the Library
April 21: Unabridged Andra's
April 22: Mixed Book Bag - review
April 23: CBY Book Club
April 24: Kit 'N Kabookle
 

Metamorphosis by RW Reels Virtual Tour and Giveaway


The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour

Metamorphosis: The Trey Parker Story
by R.W. Reels

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Metamorphosis: The Trey Parker Story, the first novel in a three-part paranormal thriller series. A young male is forever changed after a near death experience. His incident invites the attention of a covert Government agency. A gritty detective remains diligent in discovering the facts of the incident and encounters opposition from the unlikeliest of places.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~





EXCERPTS 

Ten years have passed since Trey’s question went unanswered, the sacred practice of attending church Sunday mornings now a distant memory. On a cool fall Saturday night, Trey’s thin, six-foot frame stands in the doorway of their small apartment. His mom is asleep on the brown suede couch, and he can overhear the faint sound of arguing neighbors next door. The aroma left from a well-cooked pot roast lingers and competes with Tracey’s smoldering cigarette in an ashtray on the floor, inches from the remote control—another failed attempt at quitting. While the ceiling fan does a poor job circulating warm air throughout the dimly lit apartment, it works wonders for the smoke.

Red, green, and blue lights from the television flicker on and off Tracey’s face while she curves into a ball in her blue scrubs. Above her on the wall is the blown-up picture of Nana and the family when it was still together: Toni still in Tracey’s stomach and James’s arms holding his wife and son tightly, Nana beside him.

Laughter from a discontinued sitcom cries out from the television—another episode of Three’s Company and Chrissy misunderstanding something she overheard.

Trey decides to go through with his plan. He pushes his silver-framed glasses up on the bridge of his nose. Heart pounding, he sneaks into the kitchen in search of his mother’s gun, bumping the table and almost knocking over a glass of water beside Tracey’s nursing books.

Plowing from right to left through the wood-finished cabinets, one after another, the anxious Trey can barely breathe from the pain in his chest. Finally, in the last cabinet above the refrigerator, he finds a scratched and dented blue coffee can without a lid.

Trey pulls the coffee can down with two trembling hands and peeks inside, then glances at his mom through the cutout to make sure she is still asleep. He sets the can on the counter. He grabs hold of the cold pistol—his shaky hand causing him to almost drop it in the process.

Trey fumbles with the right-handed pistol and is unable to shake the awkwardness since he is left-handed. He holds the pistol in his right hand and struggle to hold it firmly as he uses his left hand to pull the slide and peer into the half-cocked chamber to check if it’s loaded—it is. Another glance at Tracey. She pulls the red throw closer to her face and rolls over on the couch.

The pistol’s magazine is full and several loose bullets tumble over into the can. The refrigerator’s icemaker clanks out a few more cubes, which breaks Trey’s gaze on the bullets. Trey packs the gun at the small of his back. After a half-stride, the gun slithers down onto his buttocks. He goes perfectly still, repositions the pistol, and tightens his belt.

Trey scampers out of the kitchen and across the living room. He stops at Toni’s bedroom door. Shaking, he pushes it open, and get enough light from her night-light to make out her ten-year-old silhouette. Trey sees his sister curled under the butterfly-covered blanket Nana spent her last days on earth stitching. When Nana found out she was dying and would not see Toni grow up, she organized a box of gifts for her granddaughter, to be given at special occasions. The first gift was that butterfly-covered blanket and Toni cherishes it.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:


My infatuation with writing was born before I ever took my first breath, somewhere on the rural plains of Eastern North Carolina, nourished by the adventures of my grandmother’s childhood. From the time I was only four or five years old, her memories gave flight to my imagination and fuel to my curiosities. Her stories widened my eyes to the fascinatingly bizarre in the everyday.

As a young girl, my grandmother would bring her puppy with her to stalk rabbits every morning. The two of them would chase an unlucky long-eared rascal until it escaped into a hollow at the base of a tree, and she would run a stick around the inside of the opening as though churning butter. The spell of the sound and vibration would lure the rabbit out of the tree and into her hands.

Good fiction, inventive and provocative fiction, reverberates in readers and spellbinds them. It can spur surprise, delight, discomfort, and revelation and defy reason. As a storyteller, I strive to help others solve their problems by sharing things that I have read about, heard about, and seen. But I also prize the look on people’s faces when they hear the brilliant punch line of a joke, or when they experience an epiphany that knocks the logical wind out of them. These are the reactions that I live to inspire in my audiences when I write paranormal thrillers.

My obsession with the extraordinary in my writing might also, ironically, stem from my 20-year career in the U.S. Army. I can allow my mind to wander in the extraterrestrial sphere while my love for my country keeps me grounded in domestic affairs. Of all of my accomplishments, serving as a paratrooper in a Special Forces Group and a Field Artillery outfit during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm claims high rank. Few situations force a person to confront his humanity as painfully as going off to war, and this experience taught me both to accept accountability for my actions and to trust others. Eventually, I became a successful Army Recruiter and Station Commander, earning the Top Recruiting Station awards in Dallas and Seattle Recruiting Battalions. North Carolina Central University granted me a Public Service Award for my work in the local community. And currently, I serve fellow veterans as an HR Specialist for the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Other passions of mine include playing chess, traveling, and indulging in my contrarian nature by instigating debate. Spending time with my wife tops the list of my life’s privileges, however. Whether I am entertaining her with my emulation of Laurence Olivier as Marcus Crassus or protecting her from an elk during one of our photography excursions in the wild, I treasure her companionship and affection.

When I was twelve years old, I announced to my Aunt Becky and Cousin Tony that I wanted to write a book. They stared at me in astonishment. The world of publishing was an enigma to simple country folks in Beaufort, North Carolina in 1982. These days I am achieving my dream with the ebook, a medium through which I can express my individuality without sacrificing my voice to expectations of marketability, popularity, and deadlines. My goal is to create an opportunity for escapism that is bold and absolute.








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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Deadly Lover (Forbidden Lovers #1) by Charlee Allden

Science Fiction Romance

From Goodreads:

Love can get you killed.

Security contractor Lily Rowan is clawing her way back to normalcy after a training mission gone horrifically wrong left her physically and emotionally broken. She’s returned to the city she grew up in, but not to hide from her nightmares, to face them. Living alongside the Ormney—genetically altered refugees who’ve settled in The Zone—is a daily reminder of the Ormney trainee who nearly took her life. Lily knew it would be tough, but she couldn’t have known coming home would drop her straight into a madman’s deadly game.

Someone is drugging Ormney men and turning them into mindless killers, reenacting the attack Lily barely survived. To stop the killing spree and put her own demons behind her, Lily must overcome her fear and work with Jolaj, a refugee Law Keeper with dangerous secrets and hidden motives of his own.

Jolaj long ago dedicated his life to his people, risking everything to find them a new home. But working with Lily could prove to be the most difficult task he’s ever faced. Despite the Council’s decree making relationships with the outsiders forbidden, he’s finding it hard to keep the courageous Lily at a distance.

With the fragile peace between their people on the line, Lily and Jolaj must stop the horrific crimes before their growing attraction makes them the killer’s next targets.

In the near future, the world is forever altered when the existence of the Ormney is made known. But two things remain the same—serial killers still walk among us and murder is still as ugly and terrifying as ever.

I found Deadly Lover to be fun but predictable. It did not keep me for enjoying the book but it could have been stronger if there had been a twist that added additional surprise to the story.  I could anticipate the action and knew who the villain was as soon as he appeared in the story.  Changing either of those would have added strength to the story.

The aliens coming to Earth and being kept in a compound was not a new concept but the way they arrived was.  That part was a surprise.  The plot moved at a steady pace with scenes full of tension followed by time for the reader and the characters to catch their breath.

There is a large cast of characters.  Both Lily and Jolaj were very well developed.  I like how it took time to reveal the circumstances that lead to  Lily being injured.  That part was very well done and added some mystery to the story.  Jolaj’s character was revealed early.  His place with the Ormney was not know for quite some time.

There are multiple side characters.  Some developed and some not.  There certainly plenty of choices for the next book.

The world building was very good.  Little by little using description and action everything came into focus.  Nothing was forced just revealed as needed.

I purchased Deadly Lover from Amazon and one thing that really bugged me was the number of typo’s.  Had this been an ARC they could have been forgiven but this was the final edition.  Every time I has to stop and figure out where a word really belonged or hit a misspelled word it took me out of the story.  I hope Allder finds someone to do a better job of proof reading next time.  The story deserved better.

The things I liked about Deadly Lover certainly outweighed the things I did not.  There are just not enough good SciFi Romances being published.  Charlee Allden has started a series that will add to anyone’s collection.

 Amazon Digital Services published Deadly Lover by Charlee Allden in 2015.