Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Book Review: Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs

Be warned: I'm going to gush here. This is one of the funniest books I've read in a while. It's also a tender sweet story. If you like YA, you need to read this book now!
Edwin Green is a high school junior and a bit of a nerd. He's been in a funk since his girlfriend dumped him a year ago on Black Saturday because she suddenly became famous. When he's paired up with new girl Parker Haddaway for a history assignment, he has no idea what he in for. As Edwin says about himself:
"I was a cautious teenager. And caution, if it is a virtue, is not one often associated with teenage boys. On the whole, we make rash decisions without giving much thought to the consequences, either intended or unintended."
Anyway, Edwin and Parker end up taking Garland Lenox, a ninety-year-old WWII veteran, out of his nursing home and taking him to France to find his lost love. Garland is a character; he tells Edwin stories about his past life - he says he was some sort of secret agent - that are frankly unbelievable - maybe.
One of the themes of this story is the 'virtue' of fame in today's world. Edwin thinks he might win his ex-girlfriend back if he also becomes famous, and this trip to France might just do that. Parker is somewhat mysterious with a complicated backstory, but she and Garland are good friends. She's very kind-hearted really though also extremely funny. She's been through a lot and is older than her years. Parker -
“The world is a stage, Edwin Green, but the play is badly cast.”
Garland is the glue of the book. He's gruff with a heart of gold. He's also having the time of his life running around France with the two teenagers, causing mayhem and international incidents. Whether or not they find Madeleine, Garland takes advantage of this adventure for a last hurrah.
The author is a good writer. The pacing of the story is excellent, and I especially like the little chapter headings that foreshadow what's coming next. He does a great job in describing Normandy; the scene of Edwin and Parker in the canola field is perfect, and he adds in other little historical touches that make it clear he knows the area well.
It's a fabulous book and one that will stick with you for a while. I look forward to more from this author.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Book Tour & Giveaway: The Hockey Player and the Angel by Kirsten Paul

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Book One of Calendar Men of King Court
Romantic Comedy
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date Published: July 22, 2019

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Top chef Katrina Sherrer should have left hockey pro Marc Johansen out in the cold. That's where she’s headed if she can't change his mind. The all-star defenceman is determined to buy the family-owned Acadia Restaurant and Inn and tear it down. But the gods of blizzards and power outages have other ideas—they want to have fun. They strand Marc at the inn and Katrina in his room. Cognac, fireplaces, cold showers, wrong medication, and scones need to work their magic to prove that Marc can be more than Katrina's arch-enemy and business is not all about money.

About the Author

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Under the pseudonym of Kirsten Paul, Franca Pelaccia has written two romantic comedies, The Hockey Player and the Angel and The Detective and the Burglar. She has also written a woman’s adventure entitled Moses & Mac, the first book of the Vatican Archaeological Service series.

Writing as Francesca Pelaccia, Franca self-published The Witch’s Salvation, a historical paranormal novel that won the Beck Valley Reviewers’ Choice Award for 2013. An avid reader, Franca reviews novels for the Historical Novels Society.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Book Tour & Giveaway: Behind the Mask by Marianne Petit

Behind the Mask
by Marianne Petit
Genre: Historical Romance 

Author Marianne Petit mixes true life experiences with fiction to create a suspenseful tale of intrigue and romance set in the early days of war-torn France. 

In 1940's Paris, both rich and poor are thrust together, a mixed society struggling to survive. American born Yvette Matikunas, one of the privileged few, goes underground with a deathbed promise to her grandfather that has her roaming the streets of France with a dangerous message. She quickly learns that no one is who they seem to be and trust is a thing of the past.

Injured in battle while trying to save the life of one of his men, Colonial André Rinaldo is disillusioned by a shell-shocked country and a weak government. Persuaded to go underground and unite his fellow compatriots by forming resistance groups, he meets a beautiful blonde, whose determination to free France from foreign dictatorship is as strong as his.

In the middle of espionage and clandestine rendezvous, they form a partnership that deepens under the ever-present threat of arrest. But with America’s interest in the war building in the background all Americans are ordered to leave.

Will Yvette return to the States, or will André persuade her to stay and fight for love?

Marianne Petit is a past President of the Long Island Chapter of the Romance Writers Of America. Her love of writing stems back to high school. She spent hours reading Nancy Drew, Alfred Hitchcock and poetry. At the age of fifteen she wrote a short story for children, as well as numerous works of poetry. Her love of history stems from her father, Roger, a Frenchman, whose love of American history greatly influenced her writing interests .

She is a past President of the Melville Lions club, a service organization that raises money for the less fortunate - especially the sight and hearing impaired. 

Newsday and several local newspapers have written articles on Ms. Petit and she was recently interviewed on TV for her time travel.

Marianne loves to ski, white water raft, horseback ride, and enjoys the theater. She lives on Long Island is happily married for over 30 years.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Book Review: The Standing Water by David Castleton

Ryan Watson is a young schoolboy, age six or seven, attending school in Emberfield, an economically depressed community in Yorkshire. It's a conservative area where corporal punishment is still the norm and adults mutter about liberals and their negative impact on society.  Mr. Weirton is the headmaster at the school and he delights in handing out the 'six whacks and a few more for luck.'
There's a mystery about a stagnant pond where supposedly a former schoolmate perhaps drown and some bones of a girl named Lucy that Weirton likes to display to horrify the students. Ryan and his friend Jonathan are some of the brighter children, and they use their imaginations and local folklore to while away the time between whackings.
Because there are a lot of whackings, all described in detail as both the punisher and the victim lose their breath as the pain is inflicted. This is an unremittingly grim story as Weirton gradually loses his grip on reality. The story is told in Ryan's POV though diary entries from Weirton give his side of the story.
Mostly it's an unremitting cycle of abuse that destroys any real initiative a child might show without any real redemption. It's gothic in the sense of the beginning of Jane Eyre and her time at Lowood School with punishments and terror inflicted on the students.
The author is an excellent writer. He describes the gloomy atmosphere in Emberfield and the history of the area well and makes it interesting. I also liked a later section that takes place in Scotland. Ryan and Jonathan are compelling characters and the author captures these two young imaginative boys well. Everyone else is somewhat cardboard cutouts of miserable human beings who don't seem to want to change their lives in any way. Even Weirton who longs for freedom from his family and job can't seem to diverge from the path he's chosen until forced to by circumstances.
I found the first part of the book slow and repetitive; over and over again we get the detailed descriptions of the pain the victims suffer and the ecstasy of Weirton during countless whackings. It picks up after a visit to a neighboring church and the events that take place there. Honestly, I never felt horror in the gothic sense; it's obvious that the witch's hand, Marcus's pond, the drummer boy, and other dreadful legends are from the vivid imaginations of the boys. The horror comes from the constant abuse, both from the adults and among the children who feed on the dark environment around them. This is a grim and depressing story, and the ending doesn't redeem it.

Book Review: The Seventh Life of Aline Lloyd by Robert Davies

When Evan Morgan's brother dies unexpectedly, he finds that not only was his brother fabulously wealthy but Evan has inherited a small farm in northern Wales. When he visits his new property, he meets the 'strange' Aline Lloyd, his neighbor. As he learns more about Aline, he also becomes more intrigued with her.
I know the area fairly well, and it is lovely to read about Denbighshire. The author does a nice job of describing the countryside and the lovely people in that area. I found the story itself is a bit odd. Aline is somewhat emotionless with the occasional flash of temper; it was hard for me to see why Evan was so attracted to her unless he was being manipulated. I couldn't relate to her paranormal side. She didn't seem to have much control and yet Evan accepted it fairly easily. I did like her history better and I wished the author had spent more time on her reincarnations, explaining how her powers developed over time. The short bits we got didn't really explain how she was so powerful in her current incarnation. 
I found the ending a disappointment. The book just seemed to end without much real resolution. I want to thank Netgalley and BHC Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Book Review: The Henchman series by Eric Lahti

I've caught bits of this author's writing in other places and decided to grab his book. So glad I did. If you like Tim Dorsey or Carl Hiaasen with an edgier graphic novel feel, then this is the book for you.
Henchmen is a group of 'bad' guys headed by a seven-foot-tall woman named Eve. Told in the POV of Steven, Eve's right-hand-man, the story starts with a heist of some high-tech body armor. Celebrating their success at a Japanese sushi bar where one eats off the naked body of a woman, the gang is drawn into battle over the girl who's currently their table. This leads them into a series of adventures involving Congress, secret agencies, gods, and aliens.
There are some laugh-out-loud moments and a lot of the wry humor I really like. The action moves along pretty well. The battle scenes are well-written; obviously, the author knows personal combat and weapons (at least, it seemed so to me).  There are some typos but they didn't bother me as I was anxious to read what happens next.
The book is a novella so it's a quick read, and I highly recommend it if you like this sort of book. Even if you think you don't, try it because I think you might like it.

Arise picks up several months after the first book ends. Steve, Jessica, and Eve find new enemies and some surprising allies. The god of Dreams has taken over Washington DC and started his own religion, and the other gods are not happy. It's up to the Henchmen to take care of the god they freed or face consequences from the other gods.
There are some good fights and the humor I like from this author. I did find the story just a smidgeon slower than the first book, but it's still a good read.

Transmute is the third and last book in the series though I hope there's more. There does seem to be a corollary series I need to investigate.
Steven has taken the place of the god of Dreams. It's frankly taking some getting used to for him, and a bit of a problem for Jessica since they get called away by his followers almost every time they sit down to eat. This story is a bit more fantastical and introduces more characters while bringing back one surprising old character. It's a great story and a fun read.
I highly recommend this author and series if you like clever writing and humor in an action story.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Book Tour & Giveaway: Witches Protection Program by Michael Okon

Witches Protection Program
by Michael Okon
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy 

Wes Rockville, a disgraced law-enforcement agent, gets one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he’s reassigned to a 232-year-old secret government organization.

The Witches Protection Program.

His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar cosmetics company’s diabolical plan to use witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in witchesand believe in himself.

Filled with adventure and suspense, Michael Okon creates a rousing, tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern-day New York City.

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Book Tour & Giveaway: The Dream Defenders by Neal Denhartog

The Dream Defenders
by Neal DenHartog
Genre: YA Fantasy 

A vivid, dangerous dream world. Real-life consequences. Better ready your defense.

When fourteen-year-old Nolan Erling wakes up with a headache for the fourth straight day, he suspects the likely culprit to be any number of things—from his annoying baby brother, to vehicular crashes with his elderly neighbor, or even his questionable late-night food choices—not his dreams.

Aeryn Sandman knows the true cause, though. She is a junior agent with the DREAM Institute, a secret organization tasked with protecting the world’s population while they sleep, and she’s on her first assignment.

Her mission: infiltrate Nolan’s life—and his dreams—and keep him safe, all while persuading him to join their protective force.

But recruitment missions are no walk in the park, and Aeryn’s goes horribly wrong when Nolan’s powers unwittingly unleash two dream creatures locked away in a restricted area of the dream world. While Aeryn and Nolan search for ways to contain the escaped beings, they uncover a much greater conspiracy.

For these dreams can kill, and someone is orchestrating their actions in the dream world. If Aeryn and Nolan can’t figure out who is behind it, no dreamer will be safe, and neither will the organization that defends them.

Discover a book with a fresh voice, genuinely humorous characters, and a compelling, original storyline. The Dream Defenders will appeal to readers of all ages.
★★★★★ - "A spectacularly imaginative story." - Indies Today

**FREE July 29th – 31st!!**

Neal DenHartog was born, raised, and currently resides in Iowa. After a fifteen year career in the sciences he decided to rekindle his childhood passion for writing. Now, when he's not donning a lab coat, he writes stories about dreams.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Trad Tuesday: This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie

Usually, I post traditional Celtic songs, but in honor of the Fourth of July holiday I'm going with Woody Guthrie's most famous folk song. "Its lyrics were written by American folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940, based on an existing melody, a Carter Family tune called "When the World's on Fire", in critical response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." When Guthrie was tired of hearing Kate Smith sing "God Bless America" on the radio in the late 1930s, he sarcastically called his song "God Blessed America for Me" before renaming it "This Land Is Your Land."
A March 1944 recording in the possession of the Smithsonian, the earliest known recording of the song, has the "private property" verse included. This version was recorded the same day as 75 other songs. This was confirmed by several archivists for Smithsonian who were interviewed as part of the History Channel program Save Our History – Save our Sounds. The 1944 recording with this fourth verse can be found on Woody Guthrie: This Land is Your Land: The Asch Recordings Volume 1, where it is track 14.
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From the California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me
As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
And saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me
I roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me , a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me
When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling
In the wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me
This land is your land and this land is my land
From the California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me
When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice come chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me