Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: As Long As We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Chaney

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*No Spoilers*

“My wife! I think she’s dead!” Matt frantically tells park rangers that he and his wife, Marie, were hiking when she fell off a cliff into the raging river below. They start a search, but they aren’t hopeful: no one could have survived that fall. It was a tragic accident.

But Matt’s first wife also died in suspicious circumstances. And when the police pull a body out of the river, they have a lot more questions for Matt.

Detectives Loren and Spengler want to know if Matt is a grieving, twice-unlucky husband or a cold-blooded murderer. They dig into the couple’s lives to see what they can unearth. And they find that love’s got teeth, it’s got claws, and once it hitches you to a person, it’s tough to rip yourself free.

So what happens when you’re done making it work?

I am a fan of crime and mystery novels as well as true crime documentaries. When the spouse gets murdered, it’s usually their “dearly beloved” who committed the crime. So this novel caught my interest from the start.

This is told from a vulgar, and negative perspective of how a marriage can be. I was shocked by how vile some of the language is. So if you are sensitive to that kind of thing, you might want to give this one a pass.

Despite the language, I found this novel to be thrilling and hooked me from the first chapter. What happens when the wife comes home early from work and finds her husband in bed with the secretary? Anything can happen.

I felt this novel was put together well. It took logical leaps and bounds, “things aren’t what you think they are”. I found the plot twists weren’t too illogical or bewildering.

The ending was neatly wrapped up, and there weren’t any loose plot threads. I enjoy a novel that’s well written and wrapped up nice and neat.

I would recommend this novel to lovers of crime, mystery, and hard-boiled detective novels. I enjoyed this audiobook and think that you will enjoy it as well!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Press F5 to Load Game by LeVar Ravel

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*No Spoilers*

All the State House gossips go abuzz when an influential senator forms an alliance with Rep. Frannie Upwood, the capital’s most famous underachiever and the favorite butt of jokes. Why his sudden interest in such a lightweight politician?

It’s up to Lars Uxbridge, the senator’s disloyal staffer, to find out after he joins a network of political spies. What Lars discovers is a secret far beyond anything other state reps can muster. To get ahead in politics, Frannie’s got something better than snappy slogans, wealthy donors, and door-to-door volunteers.

She’s got a time machine.

Frannie shows that when you’re armed with time travel, you’re the star athlete in a game where the world is your playing field, you make your own rules, and you always beat the shot clock.

But as Frannie will learn, this game has opponents to contend with. Rivals who might not play fair. When the prizes are enormous power, money, and control of time itself, watch out for cheat moves and low blows…

This novel was offered to me through the BookSends ARC Program. This novel caught my attention because I thought the concept of mixing time travel and politics sounded interesting.

I was expecting a story like other time travel media, such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Doctor Who, and Back to the Future where the main characters have a vehicle that they use for their time traveling hijinks. This took a different spin on the whole time travel subgenre. Frannie uses a clunky bracelet-type contraption with the buttons “F8” and “F5”.

As Frannie explains, F8 is to make a “quicksave” and F5 is to “reload the previous save”. So if she wanted to she could get government secrets and not live through the consequences. As soon as she goes back to her previous save, her crimes will cease to exist.

If I had to put percentages to the content, it’s 80% politics and 20% time travel hijinks. If you are fans of political thrillers, this is the novel for you.

“A good game amuses us. Even better ones create characters we can believe in, with compelling goals and treacherous obsticles. The best games of all integrate these factors with an interactive challenge for our brains and reflexes. A mix powerful enough to transplant us into a whole new world where we can role-play to our heart’s content. The kind of thing that used to be the stuff of dreams” – Frannie Upwood

I felt like the ending was rushed. When the “big reveal” happened, I felt like the ending got ridiculous. It read like the author just started throwing things at the reader in hope of sounding “plot-twisty”. I felt like I was cheated out of a good conclusion, and I wish the ending could’ve been better.

However, I felt like the characters were well developed and I could relate to them on various levels. Lars and Frannie’s relationship throughout this novel is intriguing. Lars stumbling upon Frannie’s big secret, and whether Frannie is just over-trusting or whether she knows more than she’s letting on.

All in all, I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of political thrillers, time travel, and science fiction in general.

Buy “Press F5 to Load Game” HERE

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Blood Oath (Nathaniel Cade #1) by Christopher Farnsworth

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*No Major Spoilers*

Zach Barrows is an ambitious young White House staffer whose career takes an unexpected turn when he’s partnered with Nathaniel Cade, a secret agent sworn to protect the President. But Cade is no ordinary civil servant. Bound by a special blood oath, he is a vampire. Cade battles nightmares before they can break into the daylight world of the American dream, enemies far stranger-and far more dangerous-than civilians have ever imagined.

My mom read this novel before I did. I thought it would be something like she has been reading, FBI, secret agent, stuff like that. When she finished I asked her what her thoughts were, and she said it was different but good. So I knew then I was in for a good read!

This novel starts off slow, setting the scenes, and explaining how Cade became a vampire and how he started working for the President. I found this to be an interesting addition to the story. I felt like this added more to Cade’s character and made him more relatable.

Nathanial Cade is a man who’s unfortunate circumstances made him into an immortal monster. He was turned into a vampire after Lincoln was assassinated and Andrew Johnston took the role of President.

The author was able to convey both Cade and Zach as full-fledged characters. He could have easily focused all on Cade and made Zach a jerk and whiny brat. However, as the novel progresses you see Zach grow as a character. It was very well written and I enjoyed this novel.

My favorite character besides the two main characters was Sgt. Griff. Even though he was on the verge of retirement from taking care of Cade on top of worsening health issues, he was still able to do his job and serves his country with courage and valor.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. It had a good mix of action, history, and horror. Cade and Zach were well developed and I felt bad for both characters at certain times. I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of historical fiction, horror, and action. As well as covert government secrets.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Atelier Sento

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*No Spoilers*

Part fantasy, part travelogue, Diary Of A Yokai Ghost Hunter follows the adventures of two foreign visitors as they tour Japan. When they buy an antique camera along the way, they discover they can capture images of Japan’s invisible spirit world. The forgotten spirits they meet can be kindly, mischievous, and some, downright dangerous.

Everywhere they go from forests to Shinto temples to fishing villages they are met with Yokai, the Japanese word for supernatural monsters, ghosts, and demons. The subject of Yokai is wildly popular right now and is featured prominently in books, websites, and online videos. Google receives thousands of searches on the topic daily.

Readers 10-18 who cherished books like Cool Japan Guide and Diary of a Tokyo Teen will delight in this comic book style adventure. The graphic novel format will appeal to diehard anime and manga fans while stressing the importance this ancient spirit world is to the Japanese culture.

I enjoyed this manga, it has a different art style for sure, but don’t let that detour you away from this graphic novel. The art style looks like it was sketched with colored pencils. It makes the adventure feel realistic.

I enjoyed seeing all of the different areas of rural Japan, and how unique and different each town or village can be. It’s amazing at how a small island can have so many different environments. From mountainous forests to the sulfur flats and fishing areas. This manga covers the gambit.

I never felt like the main characters were in any real danger. The only time I ever felt uneasy is when the locals were being creepy and telling the two main characters about the Yokai that had been spotted in the area.

However, I still enjoyed the manga and all of its whimsical adventure. I would highly recommend this for lovers of legends, folklore, traveling, and mangas.

 

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Fixer (Lawson Vampire #1) by Jon F. Merz

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*No Major Spoilers*

The members of the Council believe that vampires can coexist with humans. Some vamps disagree. That’s where Lawson comes in. He’s a Fixer. When a Nosferatu gets delusions of grandeur about taking over the world, it’s his job to take them out — with extreme prejudice.

I can’t remember the last time I read a vampire book. It feels like it’s been a while, and I’m excited to be back with the vampire subgenre.

This audiobook caught my attention because the model on the cover looked like a better and younger Tom Cruise. I’m all about secret agents and conspiracies. Action and mystery on every page are how I like my vampire novels.

I like how each author takes their own spin on vampire mythology. Some exaggerate their abilities and powers, some like this author make them more realistic to an extent. They look and act like any other human, but they live longer and wood is their enemy.

I felt like I could relate to the main character, Lawson. He is just a hitman with a job to do. In this novel, Lawson is after an old enemy. A vampire whose family has tainted blood and thus, makes him insane.

My favorite part was when Lawson and his human partner Talia were staking out the nightclubs trying to find their target, and the description of the clubs and what goes on in those places sounds about right, people being drunk and crazy.

Overall, I found this novel to be engaging and exciting. The action and adventure were enough to get my imagination going into high gear. I would highly recommend this novel for anyone who is looking for a good vampire story. Also for lovers of the supernatural and action, this is definitely worth a read.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall

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*No Major Spoilers*

Set in the rapidly changing world of 1920s America, this is a story of three people from very different backgrounds: Henry “Schuler” Jefferson, son of German immigrants from Midwestern farm country; Cora Rose Haviland, a young woman of privilege whose family has lost their fortune; and Charles “Gil” Gilchrist, an emotionally damaged WWI veteran pilot. Set adrift by life-altering circumstances, they find themselves bound together by need and torn apart by blind obsessions and conflicting goals. Each one holds a secret that, if exposed, would destroy their friendship. But their journey of adventure and self-discovery has a price—and one of them won’t be able to survive it.

As they crisscross the heartland, exploring the rapidly expanding role of aviation from barnstorming to bootlegging, from a flying circus to the dangerous sport of air racing, the three companions form a makeshift family. It’s a one-of-a-kind family, with members as adventurous as they are vulnerable and as fascinating as they are flawed. But whatever adventure—worldly or private—they find themselves on, they’re guaranteed to be a family you won’t forget.

This book was a major slow-down compared to the other novels I’ve been reading. However, I found this story to be heart-warming and enjoyable to follow throughout. The thought of these planes making all of these crazy stunts is wild and thrilling.

This audiobook’s narrator was monotone and I had to focus to keep up with the story. I would highly advise others to read this novel.

One of my favorite parts of the story was how Henry, Gil, and Cora was performing shows where Gil would do tricks with his plane, and Cora would be doing stunts on her motorcycle with her trusty dog. It felt so natural for them to be together, as a makeshift family. After so much tragedy and heartbreak from WWII, it was nice to see these three misfits come together.

I felt like each of the character’s secrets was relatable and relevant of the times. Of course, I won’t discuss spoilers here, but I did like how they weren’t “huge” or “strange” plot twists. The secrets didn’t paint the characters in any bad light. It’s just to be expected when a makeshift family happens. Sometimes we have to keep something of ourselves out of our friendships.

I love this book, I think the author really took her time and developed this story and the characters to the fullest. I don’t remember any plot holes or inconsistencies. I felt that this story was well-written and very beautifully so. I enjoyed following Henry on his adventure of growing up in a post-war world. The hijinks that happen, and losses they all share.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of “coming of age” stories, 1920’s America, airplanes, and stories about misfit families.

Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with Jessie Cal

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Jessie Cal is the author of the Disarray series as well as Looking After You: A Clean Romance. Her friend reached out to me and asked me if I’d review Ms. Cal’s novel. After reading Disarray I naturally had some questions for her!

Q: Have you had experience with amnesia before? If so, what was it like?

Ms. Cal: I have never suffered from amnesia, but I have for years wondered what it would feel like. I find the idea of starting from scratch both scary and fascinating at the same time. Sad, I know. My mind goes off the rails at times.

Q: How much research do you put into your writing overall?

Ms. Cal: It depends on how much knowledge I already have on the subject. I knew nothing about amnesia, however, my character didn’t really have “regular” amnesia, so that gave me the freedom to write whatever I wanted and still be true. Now, I wrote a short fiction where she was a surgeon who believed in bloodless surgeries. I had to research a lot on that topic–took me days.

Q: Are you inspired by literary trends?

Ms. Cal: Although I enjoy reading them, I can’t say my writing is influenced by them. I tend to write based on my dreams, and odds are, you won’t find that in the bestseller section.

Q: What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Ms. Cal: Oh, it’s so hard to pick just one. They are all different genres, and I love them for different reasons. But one I just recently read was entitled If I Was a Rich Girl. Very cute. Also, Soaked. Adorable. And many more!

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up:

Ms. Cal: I went through several phases, but writing stories have been a phase that always came back. Until I finally decided to sit and write my own [short stories and novels].