Saturday, October 31, 2015

*Review* A Deadly Combination by Mary Reason Theriot

Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Published: November 29, 2013
Pages: 283
Ages: 16+


What happens when you combine Mafia, Voodoo, Zombies, and Betrayal all in one book? You get "A Deadly Combination" The Mafia Prince believes he has found a way to get to his enemies without ever going near them. First he must convince the voodoo priestess to help him. Bianca Honore has been studying Black Magic in New York ever since she left home. Her grandmere has called her back home and Bianca cannot refuse. Bianca has felt New Orleans calling her of late. She has a feeling her destiny is waiting for her in the beloved city. When The Mafia Prince asks the voodoo priestess to join his family she can't help but accept. This will be the perfect opportunity to strengthen her powers. She wants to be the most powerful voodoo queen that has ever lived. Nothing will stop her from reaching her dreams.


I was hired to provide post publication proofreading for this novel. Because Ms. Theriot has hired me in the past, she probably suspected that I would write a review when I finished (because I know she's read previous reviews), but it was not part of our agreement. I made the decision on my own because I like to review every book I read now, and reading is an integral part of proofreading. If you feel my connection with the book makes my review suspect, so be it, but this is my honest review.

I read in all genres and most sub-genres, but there are still some types of books that don't really appeal to me, and this was one of those books. I just don't find myself drawn to mob stories and they don't really do much for me. Honestly, I've never seen The Godfather or watched a single episode of The Sopranos. It's just a trope that doesn't appeal to me. So I found myself far less interested in this book than I would have liked. 

The book did redeem itself for me slightly with the inclusion of the paranormal elements via a voodoo priestess though. The sections of the story dealing with voodoo intrigued me and helped to keep me at least mildly interested in the book. I would honestly have liked to have seen even more about the voodoo aspect myself (but that's probably due in large part to my disinterest in Mob stories.)

Overall I give this book 3 out of 5 stars because I was only ever mildly interested in the story. It's not a bad book, it's just not for me. 

Buy the Book

About the Author

A Louisiana native and have had the wonderful opportunity of living in various states during my husband's 20-year career in the United States Coast Guard.

I have been happily married for over twenty years and am the proud mother of two wonderful children. My youngest encouraged me to begin writing this year.

Until my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2001, I worked in the Legal Field. Writing is great therapy for my own personal fight against MS.  

I truly hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

#IABBAddict: Black by Catherine Winters

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Book Spotlight

Author: Catherine Winters

Title: Black

Pages: 246

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror

Date published: July 28, 2014

Thirty-year-old redhead Josephine Berendt has everything under control. She’s finally over her ex, Max Spencer; her third novel is about to hit the shelves; and she’s living happily alone in a quiet Denver suburb. So what if her life is missing a little action? She gets all she needs by writing about vampires – and at least her furniture won’t run away to Paris just to prove how much it doesn’t love her.

600-year-old businessman Grant Black thinks he’s just doing a favor for an old friend by keeping an eye on Josephine and her dangerously accurate storytelling. Keeping out of her life is no trouble at all – until Max shows up on her doorstep with a case of fangs and Grant is forced to meet Josephine in the fearless, foul-mouthed flesh.

Soon Josephine finds herself at the center of an undead incident of international proportions. Now every day is a test of how long she can balance her need for independence with her growing affection for a killer, and stay alive – or, at least, not dead.

Featuring some of the most famous and ruthless vampires from history and literature, BLACK interweaves traditional vampire canons with an entirely new race of vampires with its own laws and mores. Told in Josephine’s thoroughly modern voice, the book is a witty, allusive tour of the vampire world’s upper echelons and hubs of power.


I was warned; I'll admit that.
I'd been in Denver – and he'd been in Paris – for nearly three years when the letter showed up in the box, no postmark, no stamp. My name in that familiar, cramped hand, the address that he shouldn't have known. I laid it on the kitchen counter with the junk, unopened, intending to throw it out. I had nothing to say to Max Spencer, nothing that hadn't been said before he fled the country to prove how much he didn't love me.
Trash day came and went, and I passed that letter every time I went for a glass of water. I didn't want to open it – it may as well have been round and labeled "WORMS" – but I couldn't bear to get rid of it. It felt too much like throwing him away.
Part of me knew who it was when the bell rang that night. The house was cold; March hadn't come in like a lion so much as like another snowstorm, and colder air rushed in as I opened the door. I don't know what I expected after ten on a weeknight, but I didn't expect him to look so unchanged and yet so utterly different. He was the same body, ostensibly the same man who'd left me three years ago, but it seemed my bitterness had made him less than that in my head. I stared at him, hale, healthy, beautiful, and not in Paris, and promptly dropped my water glass.
"Max." I stared down at my feet; a dozen shallow cuts welled blood in scattered beads. I didn't feel them, and started to move. He touched my arm.
"Don't – you'll make it worse. I'll fix it." He eased past me in the entryway, and bent to pick up the glass around my white little feet. "You're bleeding," and he touched the cuts so gently before he went after the broom he knew I'd keep in the kitchen.
"Why are you here?"
"Didn't you get my letter? I told you I would be."
"I didn't read it." He started to sweep; I leapt for the area rug so he wouldn't touch me again.
"Any of it?"
I shook my head. He sighed as he walked around the corner to the kitchen and tipped the dustpan into the bin. "It would have been easier if you had. I'd counted on your curiosity."
"To do what?" I closed the door.
"Prepare you for me." He settled onto my sofa, adjusting the crease in his pants.
"I rather thought if I didn't answer, you'd stay away."
He was silent for a moment, his pale eyes so like mine, closed, cold. Impossible, even for one who knew him well, to guess what he might be thinking. "Unfortunately, I felt I must impose upon your hospitality. I have – stories to tell, and you're the only audience for them."


About the Author

Catherine Winters has honed her signature snark in print and in real life since she was ten. Her love of pop culture, bad television, and worse music coupled with the collection of a lifetime’s worth of useless trivia make her novels modern and witty.

In addition to writing, Ms. Winters is the Social Media Director for the Gatsby Theatre Company in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is employed as the principal mezzo-soprano for the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver.

She lives in Denver with with her husband, daughter, and one demanding cat.

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What inspired you to become an author? 
My mother says I've been telling stories since I could talk, but I really knew I had a talent in fifth grade, when we had to write a short story weekly. My classmates loved mine, and I wrote my first series about two best friends and their adventures. 

I assume all authors also love to read, so what book inspired your love of reading? 
I honestly can't tell you. I could read before I can remember – I'm told I was about 3 when I learned. My parents put no restrictions on my reading, though, so I was able to go through absolutely anything that interested me. I think being an introvert and not having access to the internet growing up – yes, I'm old – really steered me toward books instead of to anything else. 

How old were you when you wrote your first story? 
10. I've been writing the male MC in my vampire series since I was 13. I tease Mr. Winters that he's just my second husband. 

Who are some of your favorite authors now? 
MaryJanice Davidson, Anne Rice (of course), A. S. Byatt, Charlaine Harris. Oh, and I just discovered Karen Marie Moning recently. She's amazeballs. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser? 
Pantser. Such a pantser, in fact, that I didn't realize I had a series on my hands until I'd started Book 2. 

Are your characters based on people you know? 
Sometimes. I had a friend who asked me to put him in a novel, so I did – and out came my literary book, MADNESS. He changed the whole plot, made the book so much better. 

But generally, I stay away from taking people whole from my life and putting them on the page. I might take a quirk or a physical characteristic, but I'll mash them into other quirks and things to make new people. 

What are some of your writing rituals? 
Music. I absolutely cannot write without Spotify. Everything else is pretty flexible – where, when, how long – but music is a dealbreaker for me. 

How do other books influence your writing? 
If I'm reading something with a very distinctive voice, I find I will unintentionally copy it. I like to stay away from reading anything too old or too experimental while I'm writing for that reason. I save my classics for editing months. 

How do you get motivated to sit down and write with all the real world interruptions? 
You know, I have three other jobs. So for me, I have to treat my writing time like it's another job I'm clocking in for. I have my writing days, and I make sure my butt is in that chair by a certain time, and I have my word-count goal or my editing goals for the day, and I don't get up until they're done. It's just like showing up for my other shifts. 

Which one of your books is your favorite? 
So far, it's GOLD, hands down. I'm just really happy at how it turned out, and how I got to write about all the big questions I felt were looming in my characters' lives. It was pretty satisfying to end a trilogy, too, and I feel like it just rounds everything out, and answers all the questions that came up in the first two books. I'm just proud of it, I guess. 

If you could have a writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be and why? 
My first instinct is to say, "Here in Colorado, of course, up in the mountains." Which is a valid answer, IMO, but since I live here, it also feels like a cop-out. :D

I'd love to visit Alaska, though. Some little cabin right on the water, with the mountains in the background and all that snow…Yeah. Alaska. 

If your main character were an alcoholic beverage, which beverage would they be and why? 
Grant is scotch, single-malt, preferably something aged over 20 years, and served neat. Deceptively simple, very masculine. 

Josephine is vodka. They're both perfectly clear – or, at least, think they are. 

If you could live in a fictional world, which world would you choose and why? 
This one's hard, just because when I look at all the cool shit in the world today – tiny computers in our pockets, missions to Mars, TV on demand – it almost feels like a fictional world. Like some great sci-fi classic, only cooler

What’s the best way to hide a body? 
Pigs. They'll eat anything. 

This or That

Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Paperback or e-reader? E-reader
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
Peeta or Gale? Peeta
Edward or Jacob? Neither.
Money or love? Love
Tattoos or bare? Bare
Hairy or smooth? Hairy
Call or text? Text
Hot or cold? Cold
Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings? Harry Potter
Coffee or Tea? Tea for breakfast; coffee for dessert
Halloween or Christmas? Christmas is my birthday, but I always work it, so…Halloween. 
McDonald’s or Burger King? McDonald's
Batman or Spiderman? Batman
Oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip? I'm gonna get in trouble for this, but chocolate chip. Oatmeal Raisin is a health food, not a cookie. Yeah, that's right, I said it! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

*Read This Round Up #56*

20151024_100522_resizedPhoto courtesy of KissinBlueKaren
Welcome to Read This, a collection of book reviews and giveaways that were posted in the past week or so from around the web. This is a collection of book reviews & contests from real reviewers. If you want to be included in the next edition start with the guidelines, then use the submission form.
Want to read more reviews? Check out Read This for a list of the latest reviews and stellar reviewers. You can also follow on twitter for the latest round ups. Read This is now accepting photo submissions for each edition.





















Saturday, October 24, 2015

*Review* Honk, Honk! Hold Tight! by Jessica Souhami

Genre: Children's Illustrated
Published: August 6, 2015
Pages: 32
Ages: 3-6 (According to Amazon)


This very funny folktale tells about the princess who will not laugh. Her father says he will give her hand in marriage to the man who can make her laugh â?? and one boy plus a golden goose set off to the palace to try their luckâ?¿ As they go along, the animals and people they meet all try to steal one of the golden goose's feathers â?? and they stick fast to the goose. "Honk Honk Hold Tight!" says the boy, and the whole parade soon ends up at the palace. What will the princess do?

A fabulous read-aloud, laugh-out-loud story that has its origins in Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the UK, with variants discovered in Russia and Egypt.


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review.

This was a cute story that basically flips traditional fairy tales on their heads. As the mother of a daughter, I appreciate that the prize is not the princess. While I'm not against traditional fairy tales, I think it's also important for our daughters to see that they're not JUST a prize to be won. 

The illustrations are relatively simple, but colorful, drawing attention without being too distracting.

Immediately after I read this book to my 4 year old, she demanded that I read it again. I would definitely recommend it to parents of young children. 5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Jessica Souhami studied at the Central School of Art and Design. In 1980 she formed Mme Souhami and Co, a travelling puppet company using colourful shadow puppets with a musical accompaniment and a storyteller. Her illustrations, like her puppets, use brilliant colour and bold shapes and her characters leap and swoop across the spreads. Her books for Frances Lincoln are Sausages!, In the Dark, Dark Wood, Baba Yaga and the Stolen Baby, Leopard's Drum, No Dinner!, Rama and the Demon King, The Famous Adventures of a Bird Brained Hen, The Little, Little House, Mrs McCool and the Giant Cuchulainn and King Pom and the Fox. Jessica lives in North London.

Friday, October 23, 2015

*Mail Call* October 19-23

This was my best book mail week since I first discovered the Goodreads First Reads giveaways two years ago. I knew yesterday that it was going to be a good week since I'd already gotten 8 books in the mail since Monday, but then today I got 9 more. I actually had to make two trips to carry them all up to the office so that I could build this post. If I wasn't going to be busy reading before, I sure am now. Without further ado, here are the 17 books I got in the mail this week.

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Two dead men changed the course of my life that fall. One of them I knew and the other I’d never laid eyes on until I saw him in the morgue.

The first was a local PI of suspect reputation. He’d been gunned down near the beach at Santa Teresa. It looked like a robbery gone bad. The other was on the beach six weeks later. He’d been sleeping rough. Probably homeless. No identification. A slip of paper with Millhone’s name and number was in his pants pocket. The coroner asked her to come to the morgue to see if she could ID him.

Two seemingly unrelated deaths, one a murder, the other apparently of natural causes.

But as Kinsey digs deeper into the mystery of the John Doe, some very strange linkages begin to emerge. And before long at least one aspect is solved as Kinsey literally finds the key to his identity. “And just like that,” she says, “the lid to Pandora’s box flew open. It would take me another day before I understood how many imps had been freed, but for the moment, I was inordinately pleased with myself.”

In this multilayered tale, the surfaces seem clear, but the underpinnings are full of betrayals, misunderstandings, and outright murderous fraud. And Kinsey, through no fault of her own, is thoroughly compromised.

W is for . . . wanderer . . . worthless . . . wronged . . .

W is for wasted.

The Life Times and Teachings of a Savior by Light

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Numerous works have explored the historical life of a man named Yahshua under the name “Jesus,” considering his embodiment of the Spirit of YHWH, his mission, his teaching, and the great works he performed among an ancient people. The Life, Times, and Teachings of a Savior differs in that it not only chronicles historical and biblical events but also goes beyond, digging deeply into many of the esoteric meanings of events in those days and the relationship between Yahshua’s teaching and his environment. It meshes the first four books of the New Testament into one unbroken story and blends it with selected writings from other holy books, such as the Upanishads and the Dhammapada. In doing so, the study seeks to reveal Yahshua the man and explain why the errors of humanity became his responsibility. Moreover, it links the man commonly known as the Messiah to who the Bible calls the first man—Adam—showing how Adam fell short of bringing light to a world that became darkened and formless, while Yahshua fulfilled his mission, leaving an example for all to follow out of the darkened and formless world to an illuminated world of abundant life. The Life, Times, and Teachings of a Savior will no doubt magnify the teachings of the Bible, and shine light on prophecies, while unveiling man’s purpose on the earth. Intended for anyone seeking truth in light—whether Christian or not—this study considers the life of Yahshua through a unique and spiritually expanded perspective.

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Caroline Jacobs is a wimp, someone who specializes in the suffering of tiny indignities in silence. And the big ones, too. But when the twinset wearing president of the local Parent Teacher Organization steps out of line one too many times, Caroline musters the courage to assert herself. With a four-letter word, no less.

Caroline's outburst has awakened something in her. Not just gumption, but a realization that the roots of her tirade can be traced back to something that happened to her as a teenager, when her best friend very publicly betrayed her. So, with a little bit of bravery, Caroline decides to go back to her home town and tell off her childhood friend. She busts her daughter out of school, and the two set off to deliver the perfect comeback . . . some twenty-five years later. But nothing goes as planned. Long buried secrets rise to the surface, and Caroline finds she has to face much more than one old, bad best friend.

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is an enchanting novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives. It's the story of a woman looking to fix her life through an act of bravery, and of a mother and daughter learning to understand one another. Deceptively simple and highly engaging, this latest novel by Matthew Dicks is perfect for those of us who were last to be picked at sports, and for everyone who is thrilled not to be in high school any more.

Reflections (Blood Sisters #1) by Joe and Ruth Krakovsky

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Lilly and her beloved father eagerly jump at the chance to join a group for the rare opportunity to examine the pyramids, little knowing how this trip will change them forever.

Along the way, they stumble upon an illegal slave market where Lilly rescues Bala, a young African girl. While Lilly is sensitive and naive with a childlike trusting innocence, Bala trusts no one, conceals her emotions, and, though illiterate, is highly intelligent. The two girls are as different as night and day and do not even speak the same language, yet they end up forming an unbreakable bond of friendship and trust due to the difficult trials they are forced to endure and the tough decisions they have to make.

The group of explorers is unexpectedly invited to investigate a newly discovered tomb in the Sudan, which unbeknownst to them, turns out to contain a mummy that has been cursed. Could it be the curse that is causing the mysterious illnesses and terrible misfortune running rampant throughout the camp?

The Searcher by Simon Toyne

Photo Credit: Goodreads

The author of the acclaimed Sanctus trilogy conjures an eerie epic of good and evil, retribution and redemption—the first novel in the mesmerizing Solomon Creed series in which a man with no memory of his past must save a lost soul in a small Arizona town

On a hilltop in the town of Redemption, Arizona, the townspeople gather at an old cemetery for the first time in decades to bury a local man. The somber occasion is suddenly disrupted by a thunderous explosion in the distant desert. A plane has crashed, and it’s pouring a pillar of black smoke into the air. 

As Sheriff Garth Morgan speeds toward the crash, he nearly hits a tall, pale man running down the road, with no shoes on his feet and no memory of who he is or how he got there. The only clues to his identity are a label in his handmade suit jacket and a book that’s been inscribed to him: both giving the name Solomon Creed. When Morgan tells Solomon that he is in Redemption, Arizona, Solomon begins to believe he's here for a reason—to save a man he has never met . . . the man who was buried that morning. 

Miles away, three men scan the skies for an overdue plane carrying an important package. Spotting a black cloud in the distance, they suspect something has gone badly wrong, and that the man who has sent them will demand a heavy price if the package has been lost.

To uncover the secret of his identity, Solomon Creed must uncover Redemption's secrets too and learn the truth behind the death of the man he is there to save. But there are those who will do anything to stop him, men prepared to call on the darkest forces to prevent Solomon from seeing the light.

The Other Side of Brokeback Mountain by Cal Stevens

Photo Credit: Goodreads

On the Other Side of Brokeback Mountain is basically an historical novella. Some parts are based on personal experiences I had while growing up in Wyoming. Some other parts are based on stories I heard from members of my family, who are still in the ranching business, and close friends. And, of course, some other segments are fictional, but consistent with what I know of the lives and nature of people in the region. I started writing this novella after seeing the movie version of Brokeback Mountain because I was unhappy with the portrayal of most of the Wyoming men who made cameo appearances, and the implication that the region is a land of total desolation, except for the gorgeous mountain scenery, which was actually photographed in Alberta. So, here I have attempted to present a more accurate picture of Wyoming and its people. This is done through the eyes of an old, uneducated, but intelligent cowboy who reflects on the most memorable events in his life, ranging from his work on ranches to exciting sexual encounters. More important, however, this is a philosophical study touching on all aspects of a man's thoughts and emotions, thoughts and emotions common to all of us.

From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Kara McKinley is about to realize her dream of becoming a professional baker. Beautifully designed and piped, her cookies are masterpieces, but also her ticket out of rainy Seattle—if she wins the upcoming national baking competition and its scholarship prize to culinary school in California. Kara can no longer stand the home where her family lived, laughed, and ultimately imploded after her mean-spirited big sister Kellen died in a drowning accident. Kara’s dad has since fled, and her mom has turned from a high-powered attorney into a nutty holy-rolling Christian fundamentalist peddling “Soul Soup” in the family café. All Kara has left are memories of better times.

But the past holds many secrets, and they come to light as Kara faces a secret terror. Someone is leaving her handwritten notes. Someone who knows exactly where she is and what’s she’s doing. As they lead her to piece together the events that preceded Kellen’s terrible, life-changing betrayal years before, she starts to catch glimpses of her dead sister: an unwelcome ghost in filthy Ugg boots. If Kara doesn’t figure out who her stalker is, and soon, she could lose everything. Her chance of escape. The boy she’s beginning to love and trust. Even her life.

A Reluctant Assassin by JC Morrows

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Her mission was simple — get close to the Prince, and kill him. . . 

Kayden entered the palace under a lie, one designed to get her close to the Prince. On the outside, she may look like a princess but beneath the mask, a killer lays in wait — for the perfect moment.

Dvarius was not ready to take the crown, nor was he ready for a wife . . . but due to his father’s unexpected death and an archaic law — he must find a bride before he is allowed to take his rightful place on the throne.

And the one woman he wants — just might be the one who is there to kill him...

The Babylon Code by Paul McGuire and Troy Anderson

Photo Credit: Goodreads

What if God embedded a code in the Bible that could only be cracked in the end times--a prophetic cypher that reveals how the four blood moons and the biblical Shemitah are just signs of the beginning of end-time events?

Unlocking a great mystery that has puzzled scholars for nearly two thousand years, THE BABYLON CODE reveals how powerful forces are now at work to create a global government, cashless society, and universal religion as predicted by the prophets. 
The result of a five-year journalistic investigation, THE BABYLON CODE takes readers on a spellbinding journey to explore the link between the world's most secret organizations, the Bible's greatest prophetic riddle, and what world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham describes as a convergence in end-time signs for the first time in history. 
This prophetic mystery book pieces together the apocalyptic puzzle--uncovering what may be not only the biggest story and political scandal in modern history, but also the secret to both our survival and our salvation.

Quicksand by Steve Toltz

Photo Credit: Goodreads

A daring, brilliant new novel from Man Booker Prize finalist Steve Toltz, for fans of Dave Eggers, Martin Amis, and David Foster Wallace: a fearlessly funny, outrageously inventive dark comedy about two lifelong friends.

Liam is a struggling writer and a failing cop. Aldo, his best friend and muse, is a haplessly criminal entrepreneur with an uncanny knack for disaster. As Aldo's luck worsens, Liam is inspired to base his next book on his best friend's exponential misfortunes and hopeless quest to win back his one great love: his ex-wife, Stella. What begins as an attempt to make sense of Aldo's mishaps spirals into a profound story of faith and friendship.

With the same originality and buoyancy that catapulted his first novel, A Fraction of the Whole, onto prize lists around the world—including shortlists for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award—Steve Toltz has created a rousing, hysterically funny but unapologetically dark satire about fate, faith, friendship, and the artist's obligation to his muse. Sharp, witty, kinetic, and utterly engrossing, Quicksand is a subversive portrait of twenty-first-century society in all its hypocrisy and absurdity.

The Street Gypsies by Glendell Latham

Photo Credit: Goodreads

"The Street Gypsies," as described by the author, is about the urban underclass of street characters who lived in Chicago's Uptown Community during the 1970's. They were a society of free spirits. They were sometimes unsavory but, almost always, colorful characters who were street hustlers surviving on the streets by wit and whim; invariably, getting caught-up in the addictive nature of the lifestyle. The culture was probably a manifestation of the times. During those years, there was rampant unemployment and inflation in America.

It was also a time of social unrest and rebellion that spawned a number of radical groups. There was an anti-establishment climate that was fueled by the drop-out drug culture that carried over with its hippie influences from the 1960's. Add to that, the elements of the sexual revolution, the civil rights and women's movements. It was the glory days of Rock and R&B. All of this was the foundation for the mind-set that prevailed within this Street Gypsy culture. Survival was made an art form by these resourceful and spirited characters.

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Big Fish meets The Notebook in this emotionally evocative story about a man, a woman, and an alligator that is a moving tribute to love, from the author of the award-winning memoir Rocket Boys—the basis of the movie October Sky

Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam (the father of the author) were high school classmates in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen (yes, that Buddy Ebsen). But when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie’s dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.

Unfulfilled as a miner’s wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the only bathroom in the house. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: “Me or that alligator!” After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home.

Carrying Albert Home is the funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1000-mile adventure. Told with the warmth and down-home charm that made Rocket Boys/October Sky a beloved bestseller, Homer Hickam’s rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Photo Credit: Goodreads

For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.

Soul Mates by John R. Little

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Identical twins share a connection that even modern science doesn’t fully understand. Closer than mere blood can bind, deeper than any sibling bond, one cell, one mind, one beginning.

Alannah Clark has found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. A magician – but magicians have secrets – secrets that might outweigh Alannah’s own dark corners. But nothing remains hidden forever.

Magic, thrills, romance, suspense, and sorrow are the emotions of John R. Little’s newest and darkest thoughts. Fans are sure to get a thrill ride as he unleashes his newest adventure.

The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn

Photo Credit: Goodreads

“This just may be my favorite true-life amazing-but-true tale—never has threatening an aircraft been funnier or more thought-provoking.” —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Homeland

Nineteen-year-old Bill Shunn is a man on a mission—a Mormon mission, that is, trolling for converts door-to-door a thousand miles from home. This riveting memoir—by turns hilarious, provocative, and thrilling—traces his accidental journey from that humble beginning to hunted fugitive and international terrorist.

A seventh-generation Mormon, steeped since birth in the gospel according to Joseph Smith, Shunn yearns to lose himself in the solace of sincere belief. But with his few close friendships, his dreams of writing, and his very life on hold, he can’t help resenting the imposition of missionary service and the monastic lifestyle it demands.

When conflicts with his fellow “elders” spur him to an ill-fated flight for freedom, the stage is set for the ultimate showdown between obedience and agency. Like the charismatic prophet Smith—whose own incredible story casts eerie echoes through Shunn’s—the young missionary will brave arrest and incarceration in a desperate bid to prove his worthiness, not just to those around him but to himself.

Now, with hard-won wisdom and compassion for his younger self, Shunn recounts the harrowing pilgrimage—rife with good intentions, noble ideals, and deep-seated insecurities—that pushed him to places stranger than any fiction. A gripping chronicle of slow-motion disaster that unfolds with the inevitability of Greek tragedy, The Accidental Terrorist is also a testament to individual triumph in the face of overwhelming authority.

“Believe it. William Shunn lived every word of this book. That he can share it so eloquently is a tribute not just to his writing skill, but his strengths as a human being.” —Kristine Kathryn Rusch, USA Today bestselling author.

No Name Sunset by Cameron Glenn

Photo Credit: Goodreads

April and Natalie are best friends who come to a crossroads in their last summer before their freshman year of college starts.

Maternity Leave by Julie Halpern

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Julie Halpern's Maternity Leave tells the profane, profound and just plain funny story of a professional woman who thinks she's ready for a baby but her maternity leave proves otherwise. 

Thirty six year old Annie Schwartz-Jensen is a middle school teacher on maternity leave-a time she imagined as uninterrupted, blissful bonding with her baby. Instead she is dealing with her body leaking from every possible orifice, a baby who won't sleep, a husband who still wants to have sex with her (is he nuts??), single friends who are clueless, and a mother who picked now to take a vacation. The only people who REALLY understand Annie are the wonderful people she spends sleepless nights with on QVC: Keep those velveteen table runners and non-jiggle stretch pants coming!

As Annie navigates life with her new baby, she realizes that not all Mommies are created equal. But she is determined to find her way, love her baby, her husband, herself---even if she has to wear nipple protectors for the rest of her child-bearing life.

So there you have it. All the books that I got in the mail this past week. I imagine next week will be rather dry as far as mail goes, but you know what, that's okay because these books alone will keep me busy for at least three (and that's if I just started reading them in order without getting distracted by other books in the process, let alone trying to finish off all the books that I currently have started.) I think of these books I'm most interested in reading Accidental Terrorist, Shallow Graves, and Maternity Leave. Which of these books are you most interested in reading my review on? - Katie