What I'm Reading
Holly and the Nobodies - 9 July 2021
I took a break from course work this morning (final projects, ugh!) and jumped way, way, way out of my comfort zone to read Pienaar's latest YA Horror/Thriller novel. Let me start by saying I'm glad I read it the daylight because I'm sure I'd be reliving it in my dreams if I'd read it before bed. It was that engrossing.
Alex, and then James, find themselves trapped in the terrifyingly twisted world of Holly, a lonely little girl with a psychotic and supernatural imagination. Hold on tight as you tag along in their attempts to escape this mind-bending, gasp inducing, crazily fast paced thriller. (Special thanks to Hellbound Books for the opportunity to read and review!)
Stalin's Door - 6 July 2021
The trend in historical fiction to focus on Western Europe is shown the proverbial door in this outstanding work by author, John St. Clair. Featuring the gripping tale of two women whose lives become inextricably entangled as they are swept up in the machinations of Stalin's Russia and his Great Terror, Zhenya and Lera lean on each other, uncover strengths they didn't realize were possible, and discover that family isn't always related.
St. Clair's exquisite research lends credibility to his speculation about life during the Stalin regime and, as an added bonus, St. Clair weaves in a bit of the afterlife at the end of his work as he considers what becomes of those who were victimized by the NKVD, banana troikas, and gulag work camps.
OH THE CHOICES!! - 24 June 2021
One international best selling author and two indies on the list this time. If you aren't familiar with Alix E. Harrow, and you enjoy magical realism, beautiful writing, and characters who grab you by the throat, I recommend you pick up The Ten Thousand Doors of January. You will never look at doors the same way again. Trust me on this one.
If you're a fan of cozy mysteries, indie author Jane Elzey and her gang of middle-aged friends will happily take you along on one of their adventures. In Elzey's sophomore offering, Dice on the Deadly Sea, Amy, Genna, Rian, and Zelda traipse off to the Galapagos Islands to celebrate Zelda's 50th Birthday. Along the way, they are caught up and implicated in a murder investigation on the high seas. Do yourself a favor and add this one to your beach reads list.
AJ Farrelly's book, Time to be Gonagain, drops readers onto The Reliant, a trading dirigible under the command of Captain Oisin Gonagain, as he and his eclectic crew are swept up in a time war between the Traditionalists and Geokinetics through their unexpected possession of a highly valuable, and controversial, tool. Farrelly's mastery of the "steampunk" genre is evident in his attention to detail and convincing power structures. When you're in the mood for something wholly different, sail away with this very entertaining read.
COMING SOON TO A BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU!!
PHOENIX by Megan Shunmugan will be released JULY 20, 2021!
In this YA fantasy, readers are given a new version of what happens when people die. Alexsia Solenia died on her way to live with her aunt and uncle in Canada. When she woke, she was determined to be a Helper and sent to aid King Fenix Arbora of the troubled kingdom of Arianon on the world of Vessus. If successful, she stands to be returned to the Afterlife and reunited with her mother. Can she help him step out from the shadows of a family curse and keep him from selling his kingdom to the enemy?
I was fortunate to be an ARC reader for this book and I can hardly wait for the second installment. Mark your calendars folks!
So, Paper Castles, Again - 9 June 2021
Check out this excellent review of Paper Castles on BookTrib. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Paper Castles by B. Fox is a must-read.
Available on Amazon, IndieBound and Bookshop. Just search for it. We both know you know how.
TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED KNOCKOUTS - 2 June 2021
The Red Rising Series by Pierce Brown
Recently, a friend recommended this fantasy series to me and let me tell you, I'm mad/not mad about it. Why? Because I didn't expect to become so fully invested in a new FIVE BOOK series. I expected a good story, some spacey stuff, and compelling characters. Oh, I got all of that in spades and found myself reading until the wee hours with my heart racing and the "Buy Now" button on my Kindle working overtime. The books are gorgeously written and manage to sustain a breakneck pace without wearing me out. If you're interested, look for Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star, Iron Gold and Dark Age. In that order. You'll thank me...but your wallet won't.
TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED KNOCKOUTS - 25 May 2021
In addition to my indie efforts and my required school reads, I also pick up traditionally published works. My most recent favorites:
The Last Bookshop in London - Madeline Martin
If you enjoy historical fiction, you can't go wrong with this one. Martin tells the story of a small bookseller in London during the Blitz and her discovery that books offer hope even in the darkest of times.
The Once and Future Witches - Alix Harrow
Witchcraft isn't dead. In fact, it's been handed down in secret from generation to generation through nursery rhymes. All that's missing is the will and the ways. Follow the fascinating tale of three sisters who use this knowledge to challenge the powers which rule their world.
Take What You Can Carry - Gian Sardan
Kurdistan in 1979 is not for the faint of heart. When aspiring photographer, Olivia, naively convinces her boyfriend to let her accompany him back to the home he'd left behind, she imagines beautiful landscapes and powerful imagery. She gets all of that and so much more she'd never counted on, or wanted.
INDIE READS - 10 May 2021
Recently on Twitter, I asked for novel recommendations from independent or self-published authors. I promised to leave reviews on Goodreads if I liked the work; no review if I didn't. The response was outstanding and I wound up purchasing 10 of the more than 300 suggestions. Several of the works were available on Kindle Unlimited but, I know authors watch the metrics and a sale is more exciting than an Unlimited selection.
I was blown away by the talent on the list. Here are my two absolute favorites.
The Novice Wielder by Franca Ogbannaya is a beautifully written, YA fantasy work featuring undersea civilizations, an elemental magic academy, and a ruthless evil queen. The ending made my heart race and forced me to immediately purchase the next book in the series, The Wielder Trials. Imagine my dismay when I finished that book only to discover the third installment hasn't been released yet! Gah!
Paper Castles by B. Fox is a modern, unconventional, soul searching book with a wholly likable main character struggling to put his life together after college and reluctantly moving back to his withering home town. His journey is relatable, punctuated by the lows of a collapsed job market, troubled family ties, paralyzing self-doubt and the soaring highs of blossoming friendships and tenuous love.
Others worth noting are the thrill-ride offered in Boomerang by Alan Hutcheson; a tale of lifetime friendship in Friends in Low Places by Vince Wetzel; an urban fantasy in the style of Chuck Palahnuik as offered by Dan Sacharow in Adobe Kroger: Knight Errant; a near-cozy time-travelling mystery from Christy Nicholas in Time Tourist Outfitters, Ltd.; LL farmer's Black Borne gifts us with a compelling heroine in the fight against demons; and Stephen Glines' Poplar Hill tells a dying woman's remarkable story - complete with a surprise twist.
In case you're wondering...
Only one landed in the DFN or Did Not Finish stack. The author began with a 5 page "Author Acknowledgements" section! Dude, put that at the end! It didn't help that the story wasn't good either. I tried, I tried so hard to like it but after 50 pages, I was gritting my teeth with every Kindle page-turn. I dipped out - and no, I won't tell you what it was. I'm guessing you aren't in much danger of running across it in your "Recommended Reads" feed.