Monday, March 27, 2017

Top Ten Authors I Am Dying to Meet!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

Holy cow!  Today's prompt challenged me!  I mean, there are a million authors out there that I love.  But, many of my favorite authors are already dead.  I would have to literally die, or get my own bookish version of the TARDIS in order to meet them.  For the sake of this post, I tried to stick to only living authors (because my death will be a sad and heartbreaking occasion) but I paid no attention to the order of the authors after the top four.  Well, here goes nothing....

1. Neil Gaiman
I have no idea where I would be without amazing books like Coraline, Stardust, or Mr. Punch.  This man brings quite the dark and "out there" mind to stories that others dare not reach for.  Additionally, he provides students and writers of all ages with advice to continually be individuals as they make good art.

2. J. K. Rowling
Like many readers my age, Harry Potter was the magic that started it all.  This was where my obsession with all things literature truly began.  This was the first author I pre-ordered books for.  Rowling, like Gaiman, is another influential individual.  Especially when one considers her humble beginnings.

3. Clive Barker
I have always been interested in writing my own stories and being creative.  However, Abarat was the first book that really encouraged me to add extra fantastical elements to my story.

4. Cassandra Clare
Throughout college, I found myself straying away from any fun reading.  After all, I was taking close to 23 credits a semester!  Once I was done, however, it was Clare's The Mortal Instruments series that pulled me out of the black hole of booklessness.  I will forever be grateful for her help in re-finding myself.

5. Rainbow Rowell
As I remember my reading adventures, I realize that I do not remember ever setting Eleanor and Park down from the time I started it until it was over.  I was absolutely emotionally devoted to this beautiful piece.  It would be terrific to discuss writing with such a gifted author.

6. Robyn Schneider
When a student suggested that I read The Beginning of Everything, I was a little wary.  Typically, that student and I have very different tastes.  Fortunately, however, this time we agreed.  I appreciate Schneider's ability to take a difficult theme and bring it to the very forefront of the novel.

7. Gail Carriger
I am always searching for a strong, witty, and unusual female lead.  Carriger delivered this in her Finishing School series in which she also destroys race and social barriers.

8. Ally Condie
The Matched series was another book with a rather strong female lead.  I absolutely adore her writing style and look forward to seeing more from her in the future.

9. Patrick Ness
His book, A Monster Calls, provided some of the best bonding time between my sister and me. His poignant book is filled with meaningful artwork and well-chosen words.  This book's strength lies in its ability to help the audience go through the darkest of times.

10. Suzanne Collins
I love The Hunger Games.  It's another instance of a strong and well-developed female lead.  I truly admire the work that Collins put into the research required for this novel.  I think it would be amazing to discuss her process with her

Let's Chat!
Who are your favorite authors?  Who are you dying to meet?  Should we meet anyone on this list together?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer

Darkstorm High Res Cover.jpgTitle: Darkstorm (The Rhenwars Saga #1)
Author: M. L. Spencer
Publisher: Stoneguard Publications
Publication Date: January 19, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy

I received an eARC of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Description from GoodReads
Our Choices Define Our Destiny.

When Merris Bryar stumbles across a secret meeting in the forgotten passages deep beneath Aerysius, she has no idea the harrowing sequence of events her discovery will set into motion. Merris discovers that deep below the city of the mages, forces of chaos are hard at work boring the Well of Tears, a gateway to the Netherworld.

Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a conspiracy of darkmages have resorted to harnessing the powers of Hell to save their legacy. The only mages who can oppose them are Merris and her mentor, Sephana Clemley, along with their protectors, Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship. But both Braden and Quin are compromised, harboring terrible and tragic secrets.

Will Braden and Quin be able to protect Sephana and Merris long enough to stop the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to the darkmages’ sinister manipulations and join their conspiracy?

My Thoughts
I have truly enjoyed this novel.  It has been a wonderful adventure that I am grateful to have been a part of.  

HOLY COW!  Spencer does an amazing job with characterization.  It was so much like watching a movie that I didn't even realize that details had been slowly added.  Right from the start, I felt like I already knew intuitively what each of the characters was going to look like and how they would behave.  Spencer must have spent a long time developing her characters because there was never a moment that did not seem natural for the character involved.  

Another way that Spencer amazed me was by her use of scene/scenery description.  Not only did I feel like I could see the characters, but I could understand the physics of the world around them.  This helped to make the story much more realistic.

Unfortunately, Spencer didn't use this same ability quite as much when it came to the rules of the society that these individuals live in.  There were so many silver stars in so many different places that I thought my head was going to explode as I tried to figure it all out.  Realistically, there are many other shapes and many other colors that could have been used for these important details to set a more drastic and more symbolic difference between the people involved.  Especially with two lands threatening war, I strongly believe that Spencer could have used this opportunity to use inverted shapes or colors to further emphasize the difference between the two nations.  Along this same vein, what was the issue with all of the cloaks in the first place?  What do the individuals have to go through for certain cloaks?  What is the significance of the chain on Merris' wrist?  I think that all of these items would have an amazing place in the story had they been better developed.

M.L. SPENCERAbout the Author
M.L. Spencer grew up on the works of Steven R. Donaldson, Stephen King and Frank Herbert. She wrote her first novel-length manuscript at thirteen. Her debut novel Darkmage won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Fantasy. She was also awarded 1st Place Prose in in the San Bernardino County Writing Celebration.

Ms. Spencer lives in Southern California. By day she works as a biology teacher; by night she sweats over a beaten-up keyboard. She is now in the process of expanding the Rhenwars Saga into a trilogy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ARC Review: Telos and Other Psychographs by Euphrates Moss

Title: Telos and Other Psychographs
Author: Euphrates Moss
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Riverrun Quark
Genre: Poetry, Anthology, Adult

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.  I do not recommend this book for younger audiences due to mature language and content.

Description from GoodReads
Telos and Other Psychographs is a book of poems by Euphrates Moss, a graduate with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Seattle University. Don't hold that against him. The poems in this book are about Roman times, Shakespearean times, and the general hardships and oddities of life. Spliced in are philosophies, sciences, various observations, aphorisms, and references from just about any book Euphrates could get his hands on- except the bad ones.

My Thoughts
Wow.  This is going to be a difficult book to review.  It was absolutely NOTHING like I expected which was a very pleasant surprise.  

I absolutely loved that Moss drew on his educational background in his work.  I definitely noticed hints of Whitman, Cummings, Shakespeare, Euripides and so many more!  This made for a very beautiful piece.  There were several pieces, such as the following excerpt, that I drooled over.  On the flip side, however, Moss's reliance on so many references makes this a difficult read for anyone who does not have an English degree or has chosen to do quite a bit of classical reading.  So many people today choose to stay away from classic pieces because they are difficult.  However, there is a reason that these pieces have survived and have been taught in high schools and colleges.  They are worth getting through the difficult reading and considering the meaty themes and ideas brought forth.  Moss's work tries just as hard as the classics to bring these ideas forward.  This shows me just how talented he is and just how much effort he is willing to put forth to create a truly wonderful piece.

Additionally, I appreciated that Moss was not afraid to discuss the difficult parts of life.  He brings up drugs, rape, and many of the other dark parts of life.  These are not brought into the book to shock anyone or to throw anything in anyone's face.  He is genuinely considering these elements.  In a world that shies away from anything uncomfortable, I want to commend Moss for attacking these things head on.

The first criticism I have of this piece is that it will be very difficult for general readers.  While I will be willing to go back and research and reread this piece, I know that most other people will not.  I am terrified that the specialized knowledge necessary to appreciate such a piece will encourage many to DNF this volume.

My second criticism, however, is that there seems to be no obvious organization of this piece.  When I go back to reread this, it would be helpful to be able to find pieces if the table of contents told me what order pieces were in.  This could be by title, by topic, or even by the author that inspired the section.  I will not enjoy flipping through this page hoping that I will magically land on the correct page as I look for the poem I am seeking-especially when the first poem spans 173 pages and I may only be looking for a specific canto.

My Rating


Canto II.

Call out your meaningful name,
Cast these fettered raiments of humbility aside
Reniego de grillos, aunque sean d’oro.
Unbind the leaves of your book,
Take the stitching from the spine, and let them, your fate to the
Like the Cumaean Sybil before you;
The truth put together at Gathering and Order.
Let it carry yr notes, yr clothes, yr accoutrements, yr Spanish
warble, yr buxom hide, yr randy yield
Sing into autumn force what you will
The sweet down unto the bitter as it will

Truly, what am I?
Am I the archer, shooting words as arrows— jibes to the faulty
at heart?
Am I the blacksmith, applying pressure, heat tempering,
carefully calibrating and constructing each word, before
use finds it on the battlefield?
Am I the chameleon, shifting color, camouflaging myself that I
could ‘scape death at the hands of predators?
Or am I the minister, who prays and eulogizes for those left
behind, face up?
Maybe the architect? The blueprint maker?
Or mayhap I am just an ass among the laity, laughing at broken
wind, endlessly inconsequential, not in the least worthy
as an object of jealousy, a Mozart stripped of the
natural talent, child prodigy tendencies, and pure genius

Traits I share with so many persons
Yet none of them are me
For they have all achieved so much
And I am but a flea

About the Author
Euphrates has been writing since age 3. He really discovered poetry, though, at the age of 21. He likes to cook omelets, pet and talk to his cat, and the mundane life lived between doing awesome things.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Flames of Rebellion Blitz

Hey guys!  

I am so excited to share this blitz today!  As you may know, I love science fiction.  This one reminds me of several of my favorite shows and I am really hoping to review it in the future.

Flames of Rebellion
Jay Allan
(Flames of Rebellion, #1)
Published by: HarperVoyager
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

A group of rebels fighting for independence sows the seeds of revolution across the galaxy in this blockbuster military sci-fi adventure from the author of the Crimson Worlds and Far Stars series.

The planet Haven slides closer to revolution against its parent nation, Federal America. Everett Wells, the fair-minded planetary governor, has tried to create a peaceful resolution, but his failure has caused the government to send Asha Stanton, a ruthless federal operative, to quell the insurgency.

Wells quickly realizes that Stanton has the true power . . . and two battalions of government security troops—specifically trained to put down unrest—under her control. Unlike Wells, Stanton is prepared to resort to extreme methods to break the back of the gathering rebellion, including unleashing Colonel Robert Semmes, the psychopathic commander of her soldiers, on the Havenites.

But the people of Haven have their own ideas. They are not the beaten-down masses of Earth, but men and women with the courage and fortitude to tame a new world.

Damian Ward is such a resident of Haven, a retired veteran and decorated war hero, who has watched events on his adopted world with growing apprehension. He sympathizes with the revolutionaries, his friends and neighbors, but he is loath to rebel against the flag he fought to defend. That is, until Stanton’s reign of terror intrudes into his life—and threatens those he knows and loves. Then he does what he must, rallying Haven’s other veterans and leading them to the aid of the revolutionaries.

Yet the battle-scarred warrior knows that even if Haven’s freedom fighters defeat the federalists, the rebellion is far from over . . . it’s only just begun.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


“Hey, Grant, let’s go, man.” Tomas Lopez spoke angrily, his face twisted into a scowl. He held a heavy bar of steel in one hand, and the other was raised above his head, curled into a defiant fist. He stared at Jamie Grant for a few seconds, as though he expected his fellow prisoner to leap up and rush to his side. But Jamie just stood next to the exposed rock wall and looked back.

“C’mon, Grant!” Lopez repeated. “It’s time. We’re shuttin’ down this whole damned mine this time. Ain’t nuthin’ gonna stop us. They won’t have no choice. They’ll have to listen to us when the ore stops flowin’!” Lopez stood about two meters away from his workmate, his grimy coveralls almost black from the ore dust that hung in the very air of the mine. There was rage in his face, and it seemed to radiate all around him.

There was activity everywhere in the massive cavern, and more angry yells. Dozens of mine workers, hundreds perhaps, were streaming away from their workplaces. They almost acted as one, grabbing tools, metal bars, anything that looked remotely like a weapon. They were shouting, a riotous cacophony of rebel slogans along with more generic cries and screams. The sound reverberated off the low ceilings of the tunnel, and Jamie could barely hear his friend’s words over the din.

“Not me, Tomas.” Jamie’s voice was grim, somber. He looked around the mine, feeling a wave of surprise at how many seemed to be joining the instigators. There had been work stoppages before, and a few outright riots, but this looked like something bigger, more dangerous. He felt the urge, just as his comrades did, to strike back against the federals, against the system that had stolen so much of his life. Against the guards who too often took sadistic delight in their work. But he couldn’t. He wouldn’t. There was something more important to him, and he struggled to stay focused on that.

“I’m staying right here,” he said finally. He wanted to go; every fiber in his body was twitching to join the riot. But he fought back against the urge. “I’ve been here twelve years, Tomas. Twelve years. I shoulda been outta here two years already. I can’t afford more trouble.”

Jamie had seen his share of disciplinary actions for sure. He’d been fifteen years old the day he was arrested for the third time. He’d gotten off twice before that with a flogging and a reduction in public assistance, but he’d only stolen food those times. The last time he’d taken money . . . and he’d used it to buy a hit of Blast. It hadn’t been for him, but for his mother. But that hadn’t made any difference.

Alicia Grant was a good-natured woman who’d become addicted to the drug when she’d been issued a month’s supply to deal with her grief after Jamie’s father was killed. Harold Grant had been shot when the federal police cracked down on a street rising. He’d lived for almost two hours, lying bleeding on the pavement, but by the time the authorities got around to the wounded rioters, it was too late.

Author Bio:

I currently live in New York City, and I've been reading science fiction and fantasy for just about as long as I've been reading. My tastes are fairly varied and eclectic, but I'd say favorites are military and dystopian science fiction and epic fantasy, usually a little bit gritty.

I write a lot of science fiction with military themes, but also other SF and some fantasy as well. I like complex characters and lots of backstory and action. Honestly, I think world-building is the heart of science fiction and fantasy, and since that is what I've always been drawn to as a reader, that is what I write.

I've been an investor and non-fiction writer for a long time, a fiction author more recently. When I'm not writing I enjoy traveling, running, hiking, reading. I love hearing from readers and always answer emails. I think you stop growing as a writer if you stop listening to readers.

Among other things, I write the bestselling Crimson Worlds series.

Join my mailing list at for updates on new releases.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Why I LOVED The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Title: The Bone Witch 
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Description from Goodreads
The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

My Thoughts
As I hope that you have understood from the title of the post.  I LOVED this book.  I know that there are several people out there who believed that it was rather dry or sleepy, particularly in the last half, and I do agree.  However, I don't believe that the slow points were enough to deem this a boring or bad book.  

During my senior year in high school, I took it upon myself to read Memoirs of a Geisha for fun.  I figured it would be a little light reading and a good look at a culture that I knew virtually nothing about.  Well, as the first one hundred pages of that book unfolded I was bored out of my mind.  I actually threatened to toss it out of the school bus window so that it could be someone else's trash.  But, I knew that there was a special gem there as long as I kept reading.  I did.  I love that book.  The same is true with The Bone Witch.

Tea is a remarkable main character.  This girl has goals and morals and she is so very willing to stick to them.  I truly admire her gumption.  However, she also has her own short-comings.  She has a temper and, at times, needs to learn to hold her tongue.  She is so very realistic that I found myself comparing her to girls in the classes that I teach.  It was far too easy for me to consider how many of my students would act in any of Tea's situations.  This is a true testament to Chupeco's characterization skills.

Chupeco is also a very skilled storyteller.  It is obvious that this story is going places and will not stop until it gets there!  I believe that this was especially clear in the "in between" story with the Bard and the older Lady Tea.  Each time she used that framed story, she did a terrific job winding the two together.  This talent is one of the reasons that I believe she added a little extra detail in the second half.  In book 2, I am totally expecting her to wallop us with a heart wrenching experience that will only make sense to those of us who took the time to gather the extra information presented in The Bone Witch.

However, I believe I would do this book a disservice if I neglected the end.   This book would have received five apples from me were it not for the end.  What the heck was that?  Where did that come from?  I will stay away from giving too many details because I want you to read and to love this book like I did.  Just know, that the ending could have been much stronger and will leave you with a gaping hole of confusion in your emotions.  READER BEWARE!

My Rating

About the Author
For updates, events, and new releases, sign up for her newsletter at


Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

She is represented by Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency. She is also fond of speaking in the third person, and may as well finish this short bio in this manner. While she does not always get to check her Goodreads page, she does answer questions posed to her here as promptly as she is able to. Find her at the following places instead:

Twitter: @rinchupeco

Pinterest: Rin Chupeco


Bellamy and the Brute Blitz

Bellamy and The Brute
Alicia Michaels
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 13th 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult
A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.
When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill—including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness—one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.
Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…
As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?

Author Bio:
Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. With several Fantasy and Science Fiction titles under her belt, Alicia strives to write multicultural characters and stories that touch the heart. V-Card, the first book of the Sharing Spaces series, was her first Contemporary Romance.
The mother of three and wife to a soldier, she loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review: Dark Communion by C. J. Perry

Title: Dark Communion
Author: C. J. Perry
Genre: Dark Fantasy

I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Description from GoodReads
A cursed line of Minotaurs has kept Ayla’s people enslaved for 200 years. With nothing left to live for and a death sentence in her womb, Ayla trades her soul to a dark goddess for a chance to break the curse that keeps her people in chains. Armed with only her faith, Ayla and her brethren lead a revolution against an army of half-beasts led by the immortal son of the Goddess Herself.

My Thoughts
I am so excited to finally be able to review this book!  I definitely enjoyed the reading experience and strongly suggest that readers of dark fantasy give this piece a shot.

There were so many things that I loved about this book.  Of these, I felt that Perry's characterization was absolutely perfect.  It is no wonder that he relied on his strong characters throughout the novel. I absolutely loved Ayla.  She was so realistic!  At the beginning, she was a rather weak individual.  After an unusual encounter with a goddess, however, she finally begins to show her stronger side.  I loved that this greeted and destroyed the stereotype that women are weak.  Perry didn't leave it at this, however, but made sure that he added a strong love of her people and her significant other.  Ayla is definitely the kind of person I would be willing to follow into battle.

Perry's characterization was not only effective in his main character, but in all of his minor characters as well.  There was not a single moment that I questioned the way that any character acted.  This made for a more realistic reading experience and added to the strength of the story. 

Perry's descriptive voice was absolutely perfect for this novel.  This piece would not have been complete without his step by step description of every battle, death, and location of items.  When paired with his exceptional characterization skills, this creates a movie-like experience.  I would definitely go to see this in theaters!

Unfortunately, there were a couple of points that I don't believe Perry did as well as he could have.  

First, it seemed that Perry jumped around too much in a few places.  While this did not completely destroy the reading experience, it did make it incredibly confusing.  It would have been more effective for Perry to do a better job clarifying such changes as they occurred.

Second, Perry spent more time on the final battle than the build up that led to that point.  There was so much going on behind the scenes as Ayla made secret plans with Butch  and other Freemen that would have made wonderful scenes had Perry taken the time to write them out.  I am sure that he had his reasons for these "deleted scenes" but I strongly believe that the overall book would have been better had he included them.

My Rating

Cover Reveal: Illusionary by Desiree Williams

I am soooo excited to get to share this with you today!  Not only do I think the cover is gorgeous, but it sounds like a terrific book!  I hope to find a copy for review soon!

Desiree Williams
Publication date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.
Alice fell down a hole.
Wendy flew to Neverland.
Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.
Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.
Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.
No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.
Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.

Author Bio:
Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.
You can find out more about Desiree and her books at