Book Review: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

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Click for Goodreads Page

 

Genre: Horror > Terrorists > Zombies

 

Synopsis: When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills… and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills.  And that’s both a good, and a bad thing.  It’s good because he’s a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can’t handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It’s bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance….

 

My Star Rating:

5-star-rating

 

My Review:

Not into zombies? Don’t be turned off by the thought of ambling flesh-eaters, you’ll love this tale regardless.

As it reveals in the synopsis, Patient Zero follows Detective Joe Ledger’s experience on a special mission against a terrorist group creating zombies.  Remove the flesh-eaters and the terrorists could be releasing the plague or a nuke or herd of sex-crazed ducks, and you would still fall in love with Joe Ledger in Maberry’s story. The true danger is the terrorists, the zombies merely their chosen weapon.

Quick-thinker by nature Detective Ledger’s take-no-shit approach makes him a perfect protagonist and Jonathan Maberry has captured the action and chaos of an unbiased game changer affecting all who comes in contact with the threatening pathogen.

Taking on multiple perspectives throughout the novel, we the readers get a glimpse into many agendas led by task force fighting the good fight and the terrorists who have concocted a near-perfect plan.

While the novel includes a love story, it’s not one which slows the pace or makes you scream “Why are you kissing? There’s zombies behind you!” Not even close. Maberry has found the balance between action, love, science, and procedural covert tactics while keeping you flipping pages to see how it all turns out.  I finished it in only a couple sittings and although I haven’t read more in the series to date, I promise you I will be.

Where to buy:

www. Amazon.com

Author Bio and Contacts:

JonathanMaberryProfile-2-266x300JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning horror and thriller author, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. His books have been sold to more than a dozen countries.

Website: http://www.jonathanmaberry.com

Twitter: @JonathanMaberry

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/72451.Jonathan_Maberry

Book Review: Out of the Silent Plant by C.S. Lewis

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Genre: Science Fiction

 

Synopsis: In the first novel of C.S. Lewis’s classic science fiction trilogy, Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the ‘silent planet’ – Earth – whose tragic story is known throughout the universe…

 

My Star Rating:

4 stars

 

 

My Review:

This is my first experience with C.S. Lewis. Yes, I know, shame on me. Also, I never read the Narnia books, but a good friend and fellow author sent the first of this space trilogy to me for Christmas so it was added to the to-be-read pile. Again, not a Lewis follower, or even a huge science fiction fan, I was unsure of what to expect and found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Kidnapped and brought to an alien planet (Mars or otherwise) would have left me fetal and useless, but Ransom is an intelligent man. Once he meets some natives of the planet he integrates well and even learns their language. Besides Ransom’s impressive survival skills, I was drawn into the world of colour and creatures Lewis created and took a moment every few pages to sit back and explore the possibly of encountering these beings, visualizing them with ease.

The world around Ransom, even the trip to the planet itself, is captured with brilliant description as well as a knowledge of humankind which add a few layers of wisdom within the pages.

An excerpt: ‘Be silent’ said the voice of Oyarsa. ‘You, thick one, have told me nothing of yourself, so I will tell it to you. In your world you have attained great wisdom concerning bodies and by this you have been able to make a ship that can cross the heaven; but in all other things you have the mind of an animal.’

Considering some of those I’ve met or encountered in some form, I agree much of mankind is no better than the animals we cage.

I haven’t yet read the rest of the trilogy, but based on what I’ve read so far, I will be seeking it out.

 

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

 

Author Bio & Contacts:

1069006CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

 

Website: http://www.cslewis.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1069006.C_S_Lewis

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Roses are Red…Violet is Dead.

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Click cover for Goodreads Page

 

 

Genre: YA Thriller/Horror

 

Synopsis:

Violet Sumner has a stalker.
Between her largely dysfunctional family of two and the friends she doesn’t feel particularly close to, Violet thinks he’s the least of her problems. What she fails to understand is that the guy is no prankster and soon people turn up dead or missing. Because of her.
Things change when Violet’s best friend disappears and realization sinks in that the stalker means business. Denial put aside, Violet has no other option but to accept the help of police Sergeant Willard Kelley and his rather sweet protégé, to come to terms with the seriousness of the situation.
Yet nothing could’ve prepared her for her close up with the psycho.
Who will survive in this tale of obsession and misplaced devotion?

 

My Star Rating: 3-5stars

 

My Review:
Violet’s life was turned upside down at a young age by tragedy, but with ample caffeine and amusing snark she manages better than most. When odd things start happening, she fluffs it off as the lesser of problems in her life, until they become unavoidable and people start paying for her inattention.

 

Monica-Marie Vincent brings her readers on a journey with Violet as she navigates a cruel world and somehow picks up a stalker. While Violet tries to figure out what’s going on, we meet a cast of lovable characters, even ones you love to hate, with depth and intrigue that has you wanting to know more about them. Hard part is deciphering which one has the craftiness and psychopathic tendencies to unravel Violet’s already tenuous grasp on life.

 

Roses are Red…Violet is Dead is classified as YA, Violet being 17 years old, so readers should be aware of language and sexual references for that age group. Having been a 17 year old girl, I thought it was still rather tame, yet realistic, and enjoyed the honest banter. Violet is someone you could picture having out with around the cafeteria table, catching a movie with, and lounging at the local coffee shop and chatting with for hours.

 

If you’re looking for a teen thriller without the normal supernatural angles, pick up Roses are Red…Violet is Dead and get guessing who hatched the plan to get Violet’s full attention. I guarantee you’ll be wrong the first few guesses.

 

Enjoy an excerpt:
“Can I get a tall black coffee to go, please?” he asked as he whisked past me to the counter.
            Jordan nodded and grabbed the cup, casting a worried look in my direction. She hadn’t missed that I wasn’t comfortable with Colton. Her movements were swift, but for some reason they seemed like slow motion to me. It took everything I had to glance up at Colton’s face. Since when was he a fan of coffee?
            Colton’s posture was relaxed as he leaned on the counter, smirking in my direction. “Fancy meeting you here, Vi,” he fired off cockily. He chuckled as he handed Jordan money with one hand and took the coffee with the other.
            “Well, I’m here every morning. What’s your excuse?” I rolled my eyes as I put my hand on my hip, my spine straightening to my full height of five-foot-four.
            “Decided I needed a little ‘pick me up’. What’s better than a nice steaming cup of coffee?” He held up his cup like he was going to cheers with mine. I clutched my cup a little closer to my chest.
            “Didn’t you have to drive out of your way to get here?” I refused to meet his gaze.
            “Yeah, so?” He challenged.
            “So? Coffee isn’t even your thing.” I stepped back and held my chin up defiantly.
            “I wanted to come and see a friend. Is that OK?” He flashed his notorious megawatt smile.
            “Colton, we’re not friends. Shelby and I are friends. You and Blake are friends. But you and I, we’re not friends.” I gestured between us, emphasizing my point.
            “Yeah, because you are the only reason in the world that I would come here.” He licked his lips as he pushed himself into a standing position. A predatory smile emerged. “Aren’t we a little full of ourselves this morning?”
            I could feel all of the blood draining out of my face and into my feet. Feet that refused to move toward the door. Silently, I tried to will Jordan to say something, anything, but she had made herself busy behind the counter. My dry mouth couldn’t form any words to rebut what Colton had said. All that was missing was for me to be standing there in my underwear like one of those nightmares where you go to school naked, only I was standing in the middle of Starbucks.
            “It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to be such a bitch to me. I’m your best friend’s boyfriend. Maybe it’s time you come to terms with that.” A slow, smug smile spread across his face.
            “Whatever. I’m going to be late.” I tossed my hair over my shoulder, turned to wave at Jordan, and fled the store like he was chasing me.

 

 FREE GIVEAWAY! Follow the link for chances to win a signed copy!

Where to buy:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1B2SLqV

B&N: http://bit.ly/1C2rAzb

iTunes: http://apple.co/1IfCSm3

Author Bio and Contacts:

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Monica-Marie Vincent:
Monica-Marie Vincent writes Young Adult novels about troubled teens and even more troubled parents. She currently lives in Sacramento, CA although she would rather be in her home town of San Francisco. Thanks to her very put upon husband Monica-Marie is always well stocked with coffee, Diet Coke, and Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos, so she wouldn’t have to move away from her writerly lair to do mundane things like shopping.

Pugs are Precious A**holes

As mentioned in my author bio, and for anyone who knows me, I LOVE pugs. Their chubby little bodies, big watery eyes, and curly tails, they have the makings of a cute factory built into their punched-in faces and I can’t get enough.

For anyone who owns Pugs you are aware that they are precious assholes for many reasons, but first, here’s my fur babies.

 

      BOSCO

      7 years old, fawn coloured, male, territorial pisser 

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MORTIMER

Bosco’s son, 1 year old, mix-coloured, male, destroyer of couches

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We love them both. Losing either would leave us devastated, but these fur babies (like any babies I imagine) can be such buggers while still being your whole world. Here’s some reasons why we love/hate Pugs.

PUG POSITIVES

Irresistible: Cuteness factor surpasses the ability to NOT squish their faces. LOOK AT THEM! Those eyes are always sad, even when they’re happy. The perpetual ‘puppy-dog eyes’ set to Break Your Heart mode 24/7. And those noses and curly tails are an overload of joy. Have you seen a Pug pant? They smile and their tongue hangs out…so cute.

Durable: Pugs are a small breed but by no means fragile. They play fight with the bigger dogs without hesitation, no fear, no thought they could be chomped to death in one bite, they just want what that King Sheppard has and they’ll get squirrelly in order to make it theirs. This also means you don’t have to worry about them jumping off the couch and breaking something. Tight hugs and rough-housing are an everyday occurrence.

Cuddles: Pugs are HUGE cuddlers. If you need some cuddles, Pugs are there every time. Their little bodies are like a heat pack for your sore back or upset stomach. Like most animals, they’re good at sensing your emotions and will be on your lap or in your face trying to make you feel better.

People Friendly: Pugs LOVE people so they’re great for company and kids. If you’ll show them some attention and pet them, or have food, they’re all over you, trying to sit in your lap or lick your face. Just give in. The payout is precious.

Energy/sleep: These high energy pups will tear through the house knocking over anything in their way, but once they stop they sleep for hours, which leads to loads more cuteness.

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Bosco (back) and Mort tired out after some play time.

 

Unfortunately, Pugs come with some not-so-pretty issues. Since you love them, you deal, but you should be aware before you add one to your family.

PUGNACIOUS PUPS

Separation Anxiety: Pugs don’t like to be alone, and when they are, they like to make you regret it. 10609366_10152890594118488_120740000_nHere’s a picture of my couch arm Mort destroyed one day and he had others pups with him. Now picture it along the entirety of both couch arms down to the wood. Yup, we ditched this couch. Bosco has done worse but I don’t have pictures. He’s chewed everything possible and somehow got into a container of butter, slathered himself with it, and then ran all over the house. Pugs need other dogs or people with them, so it’s not good for them to be alone for elongated periods of time while at work or out of house. Yes, they will follow you into the bathroom room and even the shower/tub if you let them. They hate being without you.

Health Issues: Because of the very things that make them cute, Pugs have a variety of potential health issues.

  1. Muzzle formation can cause tiny or collapsible nasal passages creating difficulty breathing.
  2. Multiple eye issues that can all lead to blindness. Also, the eyes get the brunt of damage with no snout to protect them. Poor Bosco has damaged one with a stick and now both have a discolouration growing from the inside of the eye and slowly blacking out his vision.
  3. Their mouths are formed in a way that makes it difficult for water to wash away particulates in their mouths, which if not cared for manually by the owner, can lead to decay or extractions.
  4. Their face folds need to be cleaned and monitored frequently. Too dry or too wet and they could crack and become infected. Since they have to put their whole faces into their food and water bowls, they get debris stuck and it can rot. It’s amazing how quickly the face folds get gunky.

I could go over 20+ more and only scratch the surface, intestinal issues, knee issues, many others, so please DO NOT get a Pug unless you have a great vet and intentions on using them regularly, as well as the time to devote to your fur baby.

Stubborn: Training can be a test of wills. Ours sit, give a paw, come when called, but all of these are done when they feel like it. Think of a Pugs attitude like a cats. They want to please you, but in the moment if they’re really not feeling it, they don’t try. Instead, they look at you with the cutest eyes ever and try and get away with anything and everything possible. With this comes an issue with clipping their nails. Bosco always hated it, and we blamed ourselves for not doing it enough at home, so with Mort I was diligent in cutting his nails multiple times a week to get him used to it. Nope. As soon as he got a bit older and realized what was going on, he would fight against it like I was trying to remove his feet from his body.

High Energy: This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means you need to provide a lot of play time and outdoor space for them to run and play. They may be small but when they get those pudgy bodies moving the momentum has them knocking over chairs and people. If you don’t run them tired, they have plenty of energy to get destructive. They get bored. If they’re awake and don’t want to play with the over-priced toys you bought for them to gut in 24 hours, then they find stuff to get into and the result isn’t always fun to clean up later. We found that after 3 years Pugs tend to slow down. Bosco is chill and hangs out (yes on our desks), but Mort is a ball of energy as most puppies are. Pugs are not little lap dogs that shiver and shake. They need to be active.

Just like with kids, Pugs have their positives and negatives, but are worth it if you have the time to make their lives happy. And when my mother-in-law got her own Pug bundle, Desiree, and Bosco and Desiree were left alone for a few minutes too long, we suddenly had a family on our hands.

1615059_10152357480453488_2030031925_n1011211_10152357565538488_378372059_nWe kept one pup – Mortimer – originally because he was born pure black, but he changed colours. A bugger from the womb. The light one in the middle is ‘Shadow’ and she now lives with my Aunt and Uncle. The other was named ‘Emma’ and now has a great owner who owns another Pug who needed a pal. Raising them was exhausting and I NEVER want to do it again. Ever. But I’m glad we did it this once.

If you want a companion who is small but full of attitude and needs you like your best friend, then a Pug is for you.

 

 

 

 

Plus, LOOK AT THOSE FACES!

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Baby Mortimer.
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Sleepy Mort
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Bosco cuddling with my brother
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Loving sitting on my desk. Such a clown.
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Mortimer, sick of pictures
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Bosco as a baby
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Bosco-bugger stealing a hair tie and hiding under the bed
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Mortimer wishing the tub was lower so he could jump in

 

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Click cover photo for Goodreads page

 

**Any spoilers are unintentional and I apologize in advance if I let any slip that ruin the story for you. The purpose of the reviews are to highlight books I’ve read as part of a personal reading and blogging challenge for 2015. Read here for my personal expectations. I have not been asked by authors to do these reviews, I’m just reviewing as I read.**

Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal – YA (Young Adult)

Synopsis: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography.

 

My Star Rating:

4 stars

 

My Review:

After given this book from mother with the only description of “It’s weird. Just read it and tell me what you think.” I had to give it a try. Sifting tumblr_m3rxb53fhf1qe5r69o1_500through it before reading, the first thing I noticed was pictures. I haven’t read a picture book in many years, and as soon as I saw the odd photos, I was already hooked. To my extreme delight, as you’ll find explained in the back of the book, besides some “minimal postprocessing, they (the photographs) are unaltered.” Saved from flea markets and old trucks, Riggs uses photos from the collections of 10 others (including the cover photo), injecting them into the narrative to illustrate Jacobs journey in finding answers about fairy tales his grandfather told him all his life.

Drawing me into his world of creepiness (my favorite), I wanted to know the answers as much as Jacob. Not a typical supernatural thriller, Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children are rather desperate and hanging on to old notions of life Jacob finds difficult to understand. With a mix of history, not only in the vintage photographs but in the story as well, Jacob navigates this odd turn of events as well as any storybook bumbling hero who is everything but a hero, but strives to save those he cares about in a time and place he knows little about.

peregrine2Miss Peregrine is an odd old bird keeping the whole lot in line. Her children her life as she keeps care of them like a school house head mistress. Each child with their own story and Riggs pairs them well with these creepy photographs.

The deserted island in Wales hosts a wealth of interesting characters you want to pull up a bar stool and chat with, if you can understand them. The world Riggs created alongside this island a place you could picture getting lost on and finding folks like Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children.

For a sixteen year old kid who had a life designed for him while in diapers, Jacobs finds himself on a journey all his own.

Read for the adventure, linger on the vintage photos, and imagine yourself in the life Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children live. Running away to a circus will seem boring in comparison.

 ransom

 

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Also find: The sequel ‘Hollow City’

Author Bio and Contacts:

3046613 I grew up in Florida, went to Kenyon College in Ohio, then film school at USC in LA, where I still live. I write books and screenplays, blog daily for mentalfloss.com, and make short films.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is my first novel. I’m really excited about it — it was challenging and rewarding and I hope people like it. If you read that and like the found photographs in it, you might be interested in a book comprised entirely of found photographs that I have coming out January 2012 from HarperCollins. It’s called Talking Pictures. You can find sneak peeks by doing a search for “mental floss talking pictures” (I included a number of images in blogs there) and I made a kinda-sorta book trailer for it, which is on my youtube page: youtube.com/ransriggs.

Also, watch out for a Miss Peregrine book trailer, which I’m working on right now! I get to go to Belgium and film inside creepy abandoned chateaus, which I’m *really* looking forward to.

Website: http://www.ransomriggs.com

Twitter: @ransomriggs

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ransom-Riggs/191481354199281

Celebrate your Creep Factor

Those who don’t know me personally may be surprised (or maybe not) by the many creeptacular touches to my life. To me, these things add depth in an otherwise catalog existence I have no interest in becoming a part of.

Don’t get me wrong, I can point at any Ikea room and appreciate most items in the perfectly designed arrangement, but where’s the personality? If I wanted to point and order I could hit up a drive-thru.

No thanks.

Give me dark, gritty, and unpolished any day.

Among my most obvious creep-friendly items, is my choice in art.

 

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Angelina Wrona is a favorite. 8 of her prints adorn my walls with her girls captivating eyes and somewhat taboo themes. As soon as I bought one I wanted more, and the 8 I have are nothing compared to the amount I crave to add to them. So far I’ve held off, but only because where I normally buy them have moved in a different direction and are not selling them or changing up the ones they have as frequent.

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Along with wall art, there’s also a few desktop goodies…

 

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And cell wallpapers….

 

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And my own past attempts at photo-manipulations…

 

IMG_0023photo manipulation Dirty And Alone

 

Instead of stowing away your inner creep factor away until Halloween or so the in-laws don’t judge you, let it show all year around. Maybe it’s something more subtle as in a few pieces of jewelry or piercings, or something more in your face like full goth gear. Either way, your art shouldn’t be hidden, it should be celebrated and recognized as a part of who you are.

Let your freak flag fly, Dreamers and Screamers.

Book Review: Witch World by Christopher Pike

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Click cover photo for Goodreads profile

 

**Any spoilers are unintentional and I apologize in advance if I let any slip that ruin the story for you. The purpose of the reviews are to highlight books I’ve read as part of a personal reading and blogging challenge for 2015. Read here for my personal expectations. I have not been asked by authors to do these reviews, I’m just reviewing as I read.**

Genre: Paranormal Suspense – YA (young adult)

Synopsis: Heading off for a weekend in Las Vegas with her friends, Jessie Ralle has only one worry—how to make it through the road trip in the same car with her Ex, Jimmy Kelter. The guy who broke her heart five months ago when he dumped her for no reason. The guy who’s finally ready to tell her why he did it, because he wants her back.

But what Jessie doesn’t realize is that Jimmy is the least of her problems.

In Las Vegas she meets Russ, a mesmerizing stranger who shows her how to gamble, and who never seems to lose. Curious, Jessie wants to know his secret, and in response, alone in his hotel room, he teaches her a game that opens a door to another reality.

To Witch World.

Suddenly Jessie discovers that she’s stumbled into a world where some people can do the impossible, and others may not even be human. For a time she fears she’s lost her mind. Are there really witches? Is she one of them?

My Star Rating:

3_Star_Rating_System

 

My Review:

The synopsis leaves so many holes it’s difficult to review without spoiling, but I’ll do my best.

Witch World was a roller coaster for me. In the beginning I was unimpressed, made no connection with Jessie the main character, who I felt was dramactic and  arrogant, plus I couldn’t envision the direction Pike was headed and floundered on putting the book down all together. Then along came Russ and he peaked my interest as the first character worth my emotional investment.

Russ is an immediate mystery and captivated Jessie as much as he did me. While his description painted him deliciously, his prowess in gambling let us know something about him wasn’t normal, and as interaction between him and Jessie continued, so did my curiosity, keeping me flipping pages I thought I was done with.

Then the left hook hit and I fell in love and read for hours, losing sleep, and waking up for work with a reading hangover. When action scenes hit, Pike held me within the emotion of his characters and kept me holding on. Even when Witch World was introduced I wanted to discover the differences and understand the new game Russ taught Jessie.

The relationship between Jessie and Jimmy fell flat for me. I didn’t understand the love between them, but it’s possibly because Pike was so focused on Russ in the beginning, that Jimmy became insignificant and uninteresting in comparison. I’d like to say I understood, but I didn’t.

The duality of Jessie was confusing as well. We all have our polarizing aspects of personality, but Jessie’s felt forced by the author and lost authenticity. Something I found myself questioning and shaking my head at when it crept up into extreme actions and reactions that made no sense and had me disliking Jessie all the more.

At one point a significant death occurred. I was shocked. Not only at the fact this character was gone, but that not enough attention was brought to this fact. The disappointment made me want to shove the book into a snowbank, but I kept on hoping Pike would redeem himself and find a way for the reader to mourn the character. Nope. The opportunity never came.

Once I pushed away the disappointment in order to read on, I was clobbered by a history lesson. A few, actually. While I enjoy historical facts and the depth it brings to certain characters, this was too much, and I felt myself skimming, happy for it since it did nothing for the story but leave me dissatisfied again when a characters dies and I’m left wondering why.

I gave Witch World a 3-star rating because the plot points and characters that were good, were really good, but the others lacked depth and created frustration as the reader. I still think anyone who is a Pike lover should read this, but understand it won’t be the best piece of writing you’ve ever read, while won’t be the worst worst either. I’m all for making the reader feel a myriad of emotions, but it needs to be for the right reasons.

I do see there’s a sequel. And even though I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the first, I will still definitely check out the second and other Christopher Pike novels.

Where To Buy: Amazon.com – available in paper and ebook formats

Also Known For: Thirst Series (In my To Be Read Pile)

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Click cover photo for Goodreads link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Bio and Contacts:

19954Christopher Pike is the pseudonym of Kevin McFadden. He is a bestselling author of young adult and children’s fiction who specializes in the thriller genre. McFadden was born in New York but grew up in California where he stills lives in today. A college drop-out, he did factory work, painted houses and programmed computers before becoming a recognized author. Initially unsuccessful when he set out to write science fiction and adult mystery, it was not until his work caught the attention of an editor who suggested he write a teen thriller that he became a hit. The result was Slumber Party (1985), a book about a group of teenagers who run into bizarre and violent events during a ski weekend. After that he wrote Weekend and Chain Letter. All three books went on to become bestsellers.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristopherPikeBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CPikeForever

Simon and Schuster: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Christopher-Pike/1080960

Website: ChristopherPikeBooks.com (not working at time of review)

 

My Biggest Fear is…

…Balloons. *shudders and braces for impact*

I’ll give you a second to stop laughing.

No, it’s fine, keep it going. I’ll wait.

You good? You sure? Okay.

Yes, those colourful sacks of air at every celebration, littering the floor like landmines, taped to the walls to taunt me, filled with helium so someone can bounce it off my head, and then popping while I cringe and fight not to cover my face and embarrass myself.

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Why, people?! Why do they need to exist? They serve zero purpose and kill wildlife and babies. BABIES! Not to mention get tied up in power lines and trees, and since they’re not biodegradable, their lifeless husks hang there a good long while.

While I may seem crazy or amusing, the fear of balloons is a real phobia. ‘Globophobia’ to be exact and while considered an uncommon fear, is not rare. I’m comforted by the fact that Oprah suffers the same phobia. For many it’s the popping. A trauma induced stress reaction from being in war or under threat of gunfire, as in Oprah’s case, can ramp up anxiety and have your heart racing and your shoulders up around your ears for longer than it took for the evil doers to be blown up in the first place.

For me, it’s the threat of death.

As a kid, I went to the circus. A tented show with excess visual stimulation, sugar, and animals every kid wants to pet even under threat of being eaten. From that circus, I bought (or one of my parents bought) a balloon. When you’re a kid, you don’t want an everyday novelty for a keepsake, you want the extraordinary one to show off. So, of course, this was no normal balloon, this was a 6 foot monster balloon.

Ugh. I can still envision the day I laid out on my bedroom floor, on my back, and started breathing myself into an asthma attack trying to fill this stupid thing, having no clue I was minutes from traumatizing myself. Not only did I fill the balloon, my lungs aching at the effort, but I was so blinded by determination, I managed to overfill the balloon and it popped. I remember the sting of snapping plastic, the constriction as the assailant strained to find it’s original size by squeezing my face and stealing my breath.

Suffocation lasted mere seconds but it was enough to scare the shit out of me. If I remember correctly, this would have been around the time I nearly drowned in the fourth grade, so chances were this only reinforced that fear by giving it a new, colourful face.

Since then I’ve hated balloons. If you see me blowing them up, it’s because I must really love you, and I do so with a certain method which probably doesn’t look so attractive: eyes squeezed shut, only opened between breathes to ensure I’m not overfilling it, and  my thumb and index fingers pinching the plastic, the others opened and in position to shield my airways.

I understand I could go through exposure therapy to overcome this fear, however, I don’t feel the need. At no point do balloons hinder my functioning existence, nor will defeating the fear benefit me enough to put myself through the rigor of desensitizing myself to their evil doing.

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No. No, I really don’t.

Did I mention I hate balloons?

Do you have a fear or phobia?

Big or small we all have something ready to make us pee-your-pants scared. Tell me what it is, and why, and spare me the feeling I’m alone in this.

Reading Challenge Review: Monsters by Gareth S. Young

Click for Goodreads page
Click cover art for Goodreads page

 

**Any spoilers are unintentional and I apologize in advance if I let any slip that ruin the story for you. The purpose of the reviews are to highlight books I’ve read as part of a personal reading and blogging challenge for 2015. Read here for my personal expectations. I have not been asked by authors to do these reviews, I’m just reviewing as I read.**

Genre: Mystery/Detective thriller

Synopsis: Doyle Godwin works nights as a Private Investigator in the small town of Gabriel’s Horn. He has learned how to hide his twisted, giant frame in the dark, avoiding the cruel eyes and taunts of the locals as he ekes out a living tracking down adulterers and other night-dwellers, living vicariously through the images he captures on camera.

Lurking in the shadows, he is content with his world until, one day, the only woman he ever loved walks into his office and hires him to find her missing daughter. Emmy Watson is losing hope. After three long weeks, her daughter Scarlett remains missing and the FBI have slowly removed themselves from the search, leaving an impotent Sheriff’s department no closer to solving the kidnapping. Her heart broken and her nerves frayed to their ends she hires Doyle, Sheriff Reid’s main suspect, forcing the town’s Boogieman out into the daylight.

Sheriff Emerson Watts has discovered a body beneath Mt Rainier’s watchful gaze. An ex-FBI agent with a once bright future, he sifts through the detritus of the murder scene and realizes there might be a connection between his case and the missing girl in Gabriel’s Horn. Trying to meet with Sheriff Reid, he instead bumps into the deformed detective and triggers an avalanche which threatens to swallow them all up. MONSTERS is a dark, complex, character driven psychological thriller.

My Star Rating:

5-star-rating

 

(Yup! That’s 5 stars)

My Review:

I seldom stray from my beloved genres but am branching out. ‘Monsters’ gives me a reason to seek others like it while knowing I’ve never read something that made me fall in love with the main character so quickly. Doyle Godwin is not your average Private Investigator. You won’t find a jilted ex-wife,  a military past, a boss threatening to can him if he screws up one more time, or the typical fractured man in a yummy package waiting for the right damsel in distress to add glitter to his outlook on life. No. Doyle works on his own terms, utilizing the shadows, while refusing to allow his physical limitations to prevent him from solving cases. His brain and tenacity for the truth his brand of “sexy” that keeps your heart pattering for all the right reasons.

When Doyle’s high school love – Emmy Watson – comes to him in desperation in a last ditch effort to find her missing child, Gareth S. Young takes his readers through Doyle’s struggles as his disfigurements paints him the town “monster”, everyone focusing on his jarring exterior instead of his prowess at seeking the truth. Gareth S. Young ensures to keep his readers guessing at who the real monsters are while exploring our preconceived notions of what a “monster” is during his search for what happened to Emmy’s little girl.

I kept an open mind the whole way through, but couldn’t pinpoint the evil doer until events culminated in a climax that had me frantic to flip the page. While I grit my teeth at the audacity of some characters ignorance, shuddered at the extent some traveled to satisfy their selfish needs, and inwardly cheered for small triumphs peppered along the way, the only criticism I would give Monsters is there were a couple flashbacks that tripped me up. These did not lower my 5-star rating as they injected a plethora of information and emotion into the characters they involved and amplified my zeal to know more. My frustration stemmed from my need for instant gratification. I wanted answers. Those emotions don’t deserve to be penalized. As readers we crave the opportunity to be swept away and Gareth S. Young did not disappoint.

I can’t recommend ‘Monsters’ enough. While some parts make it unsuitable for youngsters as the use of sexual content and gore play their parts, the story has something for everyone. Which sounds trite, but is true. Emotionally rich characters, loyal friendships, action, suspense, the Private Detective elements, appropriate sexual content and gore, even hints of revenge with psychological elements that have you questioning your own views while guessing at the true monsters.

Read it now, people. Thank me later.

Where to Buy: Amazon.com – Kindle Edition (worth every penny)

Author Bio and Contacts:

gsy1

Gareth S. Young was born and raised in Scotland. He packed up his kilt and moved to the United States and now does much the same as he did in Scotland, only people think his accent is way cooler.

In 2010, he self-published his first full length story, a mystery/suspense novel called Monsters.

In April 2013, his short story “The Orange-headed Serpent” was published in the Orange Karen Anthology.

Currently, he is hard at work editing a Young Adult Urban Fantasy novel based in the fictional Dynamo City. “The Wolves of Dynamo” is book one in an ongoing series.

Also coming soon, the mystery/suspense story “Persephone”, a follow up to Monsters, which he intends on querying to agents.

Website : http://1000trillionsuns.blogspot.ca/p/about.html

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpartaGus

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4118697.Gareth_S_Young

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004196356545

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to Foster your Passion

This ‘late in the day’ post couldn’t have been more perfect the purposes of the post itself, which is about the struggle to balance your passions with daily life.

Why am I posting late? Because I just finished a 60 hour work week and slept through my alarm because I was exhausted. And although today was my day off, I was back at work chairing a committee I feel passionate about, so I’m just getting my butt in my computer chair. Also, I made a promise to myself to post on Mondays, so this is my way of keeping with it.

In order to retain sanity, we humans need creative outlets devoted to non-work activities we feel passionate about. I write. For others it could be video games, binge-watching your favorite shows, taking the kids to the park, painting, or building robots you hope to one day use to take over the world. No matter it is, you need to actively pursue these outlets so you don’t feel like your life consists of working to pay bills. Even if you’re passionate about your job, there still needs to be something outside of it that speaks to another part of your soul, to decompress, and gain a sense of wholeness.

Here are some tips that help me devote my free time to my passion.

1. Plan ahead – You know what your work week looks like and what hours you realistically have as free time. If you plan ahead, you can look

My beautiful lifesaver
My beautiful lifesaver

forward to the activity you’d like to do and that drive will ensure you put aside time to make it happen. I had to go as far as buying an agenda just to wrap my brain around it. That might not be necessary for your needs, but if it is, get out there and purchase one. Mine’s cute as hell and I’ll use just about any excuse to use it. Our lives are busy. If you wait for the “perfect time” to dive into that project you always wanted to do, the universe will sit back and belly laugh while throwing another obstacle in your way. There’s never a perfect time. You must create with that mindset. If you feel guilty, get some chores done first 🙂

2. Communicate the importance to those you love – Don’t assume the people around you understand how important your passion and free time is to you. Even if you’re shy about making it known, build some personal boundaries you promise to yourself cannot be broken, unless in an emergency. Clearly if your child breaks their arm, you won’t make them wait to finish the last chapter of the book your reading before driving them to the hospital. But if your kid(s) are at the age of understanding, they should be included in those conversations. I know single mothers who do it. It is possible, but you need to make it known. This could also mean to communicate it to the ones that will get in your way. I’m all for helping people, but you have your needs as well, so consider they may be zapping precious energy. Tell them when you’re available to talk and expect respect.

3. Sacrifice sleep – To a healthy extent, of course, this is necessary. I love sleep. Me and sleep have been besties since the womb and when I’m without 10 hours of it, I feel the loss. However, if you were going to spend an hour tossing and turning in bed anyway, use that hour for your passion. Even if it’s only to plan what you need to do the next time you get a larger block of free time to get more done. Then when that time comes, you’ll be ready to get into the thick of it instead of wasting time. Get up early on your days off. Sacrifice your afternoon nap. Sometimes it’s necessary, and while you might be a bit tired, think of how exhausted with life you’d be without tapping into that outlet. I found the trade-off worth it.

4. Find the right space – If your passion is something active where you’re on a team or are out of the house, this won’t apply, but if it’s in-house, you need to create a space that allows you to concentrate on your goal. An office, a back room studio, the bedroom when no one else is in there. Sometimes this means doing things with others around you, but you have things that help you get into the zone. Headphones for music, anything to drown out distraction. Distractions are your worst enemy and steal momentum. The right space will foster creativity and become a priceless ally.

5. Give social media the finger – Blasphemous! I know, but just for a bit. I’m amongst those perpetually online whether on my phone or my computer, but this creates a sense of ADD and your productivity goes out the window. Do whatever it is you do for an hour and then check into your Facebook, or whatever other platform that grabs your attention, for no longer than 10 minutes. You need to enforce this boundary on yourself. The easier social media is to access, the easier it is to wander into the realm of posts and comments and cat videos, and next thing you know, an hour is wasted and you lost precious time you won’t get back. This is my #1 time stealer. If you need to unplug the internet or turn of your phone, do it!

Since my passion is something I’ve turned into a career, I take it seriously. If that’s not in your horizon, it doesn’t make it less important. Remember, your days are limited, your regrets are not. Find the time now and stretch it to your needs.

Now, I’m going to take my own advice and get to it. If you find these helpful, think I’m an idiot, or have other ideas to best utilize free time, send them my way. I’m an excellent listener and am always looking for best practices.

finding-your-passion-kristin-hannah