Friday, January 8, 2016

Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

I chose this book and bought a copy because I won the second in the series in Goodread’s ‘First Reads’ and I just had to read the first in the series! Although I do enjoy dragon stories, I may not have selected this book to read without some other motivation, personally I prefer Westerns, some romance, or horse books, and I must say that without this author and these books my reading experience has been lacking. Three cheers.

I enjoyed the fresh and subtle plot and the twists along the way which kept me engaged. I love, love, love the detailed descriptions and the colorful language (which was used as a point to separate the classes and was disdained to the point of humor). The characters and made up creatures were fun and believable in a fantasy sort of way and I felt a true connection to the heroine, Jennifer Strange. One of the best elements of this story in my humble opinion is the melding of old and new. Medieval dragons, trolls, (and what in the world is a Quarkbeast?) and magic all combined in a world of cars, telephones, and computer code is just cool. And I appreciated the very hidden messages of conservation, loyalty, and standing up for one's own beliefs.

I quickly got into the story as young Jennifer, an orphan, a foundling indentured into work as manager of magic in the aging hotel full of mostly retired sorcerers. She faces her challenges with wit and courage that belies her age. I laughed with her, I feared for her, and I grieved as she faced her greatest challenge.

I recommend this book to young people, it will expand your horizons, and to adults, it will renew your belief in goodness.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Counteract - Is compliance really a small price to pay?


When free will becomes an illusion, the Resistance will rise…
Tracy Lawson

From the first page to the last, I held my breath. Well, maybe not that long. I could be reading this in the news tomorrow. Yeah, it’s that real.

Careen Catecher is a regular college student with grades on her mind – and then the terrorist attacks begin. And it’s the worst possible attack. A deadly poison has been released into the atmosphere. But the good, hardworking and caring government has been preparing for just such an attack. They have developed an antidote for the poison which will protect the citizens. Careen doesn’t think she will get her tiny bottle of life saving fluid in time, but finally she does. Just three drops on the tongue, once a day will protect her.

How relieved she is. So relieved in fact, that her education is no longer a priority. So relieved that the only thing important in her life is those three drops. After all, the government has worked hard to protect her. Compliance is a small price to pay for safety.

Her life is becoming a bed of bubbly roses. But when she meets Tommy, the rosy bubbles fade and show their true colors. Now she and Tommy are up against the world, still trying to stay alive.
I loved every twist and turn of this book. Part thriller, part love story, part survivalist, part fiction, and every bit a very real threat, from a conspiracy theory point of view. I would recommend this book to teens all the way up to elders. The book is well written and the story is ageless. And I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. Three cheers for Tracy Lawson.

Check out her other books at:

How to Knit a Heart Back Home

All the right stuff in all the right places.

Rachel Herron

I grabbed this novel from the ‘new release’ section of my city library because I’m a knitter, too. As I checked it out I admit to a bit of skepticism. I’ve read too many books that had plots so predictable as to become boring. I’ve read even more when the world in which the novel resides is full of errors, such as the straps on the horse’s head, instead of the experience horseman riding the horse calling it a bridle, or an entire book about igloos in Alaska (Never has there ever been an authentic igloo on the western side of the continent, try the eastern side and a moose hide weighs about a hundred pounds, I own one.) So I wondered about the authenticity of the reference to knitting.

I’m happy to report that the author indeed lives in the world she has built. She is a true knitter and didn’t spin a sloppy yarn. As for the plot, it was exciting and totally full of surprises. I truly didn’t know if the girl would get the guy until the end. All the characters were well developed and believable – and authentic. I loved Irene with her Alzheimer’s disease and I suspect the author has had very real experience with this as well. I also loved how the author dealt with the very real issue of post-traumatic stress disorder, without harping or preaching. Owen’s demons were real, they were heartbreaking and the reader lived in the pain of his PTSD right along with him.

Although there were a couple of spots while in Owen’s point of view that the voice felt like a woman trying to write a man, those spots were insignificant enough to pass by without much of a thought. The only problem I had with the writing was quite a few repetitions of words and phrases which made me look back to see if I’d lost my place. Again, truly not enough of a problem to make me put down the book.

As a romance the book as just the right amount of steam. No way to call it erotic, the love scene was very well done. I might rate it as R. I think it’s called a 2 flame and I would recommend it to any of my friends.

If you’ve ever held a strand of yarn between your fingers and imagined the beautiful things you could make for someone special, you must read this book. And you must try the pattern at the end. Ruby's Bookstore Sweater.

Be sure and check out her website for her other books and this wonderful pattern. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Under a Wild and Darkening Sky by Linda Uleseit


This was posted back in September on my now defunct website. I highly recommend all of Linda's books. And she's a great blogger. Follow the link at the bottom to her page.
I have been honored to join the Back To School Blog Hop for
  Linda Ulleseit, author, teacher, mom, and everything else. The first of her
books that I read was Under a Wild and Darkening Sky. From the first line I was
  hooked and promised myself to purchase all of her books. Linda is not only a
  talented writer, but she gives us a look into a long forgotten world. The
  winged horses carry the reader into breath taking adventures, the characters
  pull at your heart, and the drama keeps you reading until the very last


Under A Wild and Darkening Sky

 Alyna is weary from traveling around; weary of working for her
parents in the bakery, weary of covering for her brother who always seems to
find an escape from work. And she is frightened of the winged horses which make
this town famous. This town was her father’s dream, not hers, but how can she
break away? By redefining herself. By finding her own identity. And by doing
what every teenager in history has done, rebel.

 As her father finds his place among the elite and powerful barn
leaders, who control the last living herd of winged horses, he aligns himself
  with the most powerful of these barn leaders. But Alyna makes friends with the
  daughter of that same leader’s arch rival. Soon Alyna not only loses her fear
  of the flying horses, but learns to love them and takes a job as a groom for
  one special filly.

 Soon, Alyna and her brother Ralf join a group of young people
bent on righting a terrible wrong of the past, and find themselves banished from
the town. Danger abounds with every revolution, but sometimes revolution is the
only answer.

 When I finished reading this amazing adventure, I turned around
and read it again, then immediately purchased the other three books in the
trilogy. I give it five stars and if there were six, I’d give that as well. I
highly recommend this for anyone who can read; young or old, horse lover or not.

Author Bio: Linda Ulleseit was born and raised in Saratoga,
  California, and has taught elementary school in San Jose since 1996. She enjoys
  cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family. Her
  favorite subject is writing, and her students get a lot of practice scribbling
  stories and essays. Someday Linda hopes to see books written by former students
  alongside hers in bookstores.

 Her first novel, ON A WING AND A DARE, was published in 2012. It
is a Young Adult fantasy set in medieval Wales, complete with flying horses, a
love triangle, and treachery. It’s sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER, was released
March, 2013. The focus of that book is the misty past of a groom and the murky
future of a rider. The last book in the trilogy is UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING
SKY, May 2014. It follows a brother and sister, new to High Meadow, who become
involved in a plot to steal flying horses.

Linda Ulleseit

 As a child, Linda always loved to write. She took her first
  creative writing course in seventh grade, accumulating a closet full of stories
  that she never showed anyone until 2007. At that time, she gave the first draft
  of a flying horse book to a teacher colleague to read. ON A WING AND A DARE
  began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2009. It was revised with the help of reviewers
  on over the next two years. For NaNo 2011, Linda drafted
  the sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER. NaNoWriMo 2012 brought the first draft of
  UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, and NaNoWriMo 2013 saw the completion of UNDER
  THE ALMOND TREES. This last is a historical fiction that follows three women
  who struggle for women’s rights in early California.

As with THE HOBBIT a story that will forever span the ages,
  Linda’s latest book, is actually the introduction to the trilogy. I recommend
you first read: WINGS OVER TREMEIRCHSON, released as an ebook in Fall 2013. It
is the story of Hoel and Neste, parents of a main character in ON A WING AND A  DARE.

 Please visit Linda’s page: 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

How about a dedicated blog for book reviews

Since I've been reading and reviewing more and more books, I thought it might be nice to dedicate a page to these wonderful books. Now I just have to figure out how to keep up with all my writing responsibilities!

So here we go on a new adventure.

First I'll be moving book reviews from my other blogs into this one.

While I'm doing that I will add in some of the reviews I'm working on right now.

Finally, I'll try to figure out how to draw more readers - I feel so alone out here in blog-land. Of course if I'd post more often, I'd likely get more readers.

As an author of a few self published books, I truly appreciate the dedication and work that goes into crafting a story. So for the SP books I review, I will be honest and fair. If I find an over abundance of errors, which are so very easy to miss in even the most scrupulous proofreading, I will report that in the kindest way I possibly can. If I find technical oddities which I find a bit confusing, I'll post that as well. The only reason I do this is because I know that with a self published book it really is an easy thing to make changes and corrections and re-submit your files.

And that's what it's all about, folks, sharing our work and perfecting the craft.

I welcome with open arms any guest appearances, offers for reciprocal reviews (within limits), suggestions for resources (a page will be forthcoming to list helpful links), and of course your own opinion of my opinion.

I will love, love, love you if you will follow and share, and if you link my blog to yours, I will do the same for you.

Feel free to comment.