Saturday, August 30, 2014

Interview: Kate O'Connor

          I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, but mostly grew up in Indiana. I have a degree in Aeronautics. At the moment, I’m living in the New York area working on my writing in between archaeology digs and managing a dog kennel. I started writing fiction in 2011.

Favorite reads?
          Anything by Patricia Briggs, Ursula Le Guin, or Neil Gaiman.

Inspirations for the book?
          I love old folk- and fairy- tales. This story started with Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" which has always been one of my favorites. I wanted to put a futuristic spin on it to see how the old fairytale structures stood up to the test of time.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
          Nope. I wanted to be a paleontologist. Then an astronaut. I've had to settle for flying airplanes and archaeology. Telling stories has been a side benefit.

Any Pet Peeves?
          Mornings. I'm a major night owl. Anything that happens before 10am is a pet peeve.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
          Judged a slug-licking contest. Seriously.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
          I wouldn’t exactly say there is a soundtrack. I listened to a lot of Nightwish and Flogging Molly while I was writing it, though. Currently, my favorite band is First Aid Kit.

Do you need anything to write?   
          Coffee. I’m lost without it.

How long do you write on any average day?
          It really depends on the day. Twice a week, I lock myself up in the library for three or four hours and dump words. Sometimes that’s it for the week. When life is more writing friendly, I try to get in at least half an hour a day.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
          True love conquers all... Except for what it doesn’t.

Author Info:
Twitter: @kateoconnor03

How far would you go for freedom?

When genetically engineered sea drone Coral saved two drowning humans, she didn’t expect to end up questioning the foundations of her world… but humans don’t seem as different as she’s always been told. With nothing ahead of her but mindless days of harvesting seaweed for World Food Co., she has to know why humans are free to choose and drones aren’t. 

Coral’s only hope of transforming her future lies in taking on a battle her people gave up a century ago. However, each step nearer to drone freedom brings her closer to falling in love with Rob, the man she saved and heir to the company she is fighting to change.

Struggling to unravel politics and passion, Coral begins to realize that she stands to lose more than just a chance at being human. Both her life and Rob’s may just balance on whether or not they can create a world where drones can be free.

Review: The One by Kiera Cass

The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

The Selection (Bk. 1) was very gook. The Elite (Bk. 2) wasn't nearly as good, but pretty much every trilogy is prone to the second-book-slump. Unfortunately, things continued downhill in the third and final book, The One. I had a hard time getting through it.

          I've always loved America's fire and impulsiveness. In the past these traits have driven a good deal of the story, and they continued to in The One. However America's character seems to have shrunk from a strong, beautiful, independent young woman into someone forever angsty and grouchy a good deal of the time. The very impulsiveness that made her lovable before, now paints her as naive and self-centered. She abuses Aspen and it felt like the majority of her interactions with Maxon ended with her yelling, refusing to communicate, blaming him for all her problems, and hiding in her room. It got frustrating. Luckily for her, Maxon wasn't much better. At one point they declare their everlasting love for each other despite their weaknesses and literally the next page over he calls everything off, refuses to communicate and runs away too hide, presumably in his room. I felt like their story had so much potential, only to fall flat and shallow. All that being said, I did enjoy America's interactions with her fellow elite. I thought they came out of their shells in a very realistic manner, and the relationships that bloom between them felt natural. In addition, Aspen's journey to moving on was well developed, and I appreciated how things turned out for him.
Characters: 2 Stars

          The One twisted Apocalypse with The Bachelor in a high stakes game of choice. Beyond the issues I had with America,  it was a fun easy read -- perfect for anyone looking for an easy chick flick book. Though the book did cursorily bush on some issues of depth, with the the king, the rebels, and the girls putting on the pressure for Maxon to choose which girl to make his, most of the plot centered around his relationship drama with America (90% of which seemed easy to resolve if she would just talk with Maxon.), but for those of you more adventure-inclined, there are a few gunfights. With political forces, seen and unseen, tugging and pulling, America has to make her own choice: how far she will go to get Maxon if it means she might lose herself in the process.
Plot: 3 Stars

Kiera Cass is a talented writer, and though America grated on me in this book, I enjoyed a glimpse into the future the world could have. I felt the drama was a bit much, but oh were the dresses gorgeous! Her descriptions held all the elegance and glamour of high palace life. If I went back, I probably wouldn't pick up this series, but as it was, the series has an interesting premise and is worth finishing.
Style: 3.7 Stars

Rating: 2.9 Stars
Source: Library 
Genre: Romance
Length: 323 Pages
YA Fiction

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: In The Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim Di Bartolo

Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch.

Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t.

Arthur is also new to the boarding house. His fate is tied to that of Cora, Minnie, Thomas, and Charles. He knows what darkness circles them, but can’t say why, and doesn’t even know if they can be saved.  

Sinister forces are working in the shadows, manipulating fates and crafting conspiracies. The closer Cora, Minnie, Arthur, Thomas, and Charles get to the truth, the closer they get to harm. But the threat is much bigger than they can see. It is strangling the world.  

Until one of the boys decides he wants to save it.  

          I've enjoyed all of Kiersten White's work, and though I'm not as familiar with Jim Di Bartolo, I believe I can say they showed their finest through In the Shadows.
The character work was masterful, particularly in the art portion of the book. Bartolo painted with such deft detail and powerful emotion that, to be cliche, the characters seemed to walk off the page. Both the text and the art story matched up seamlessly in their character portrayal with incredibly gorgeous hues and descriptions.
Characters: 5 Stars

          I'm not a fan of graphic novels, and, thankfully, this was not a graphic novel. The art has such class that each painting could feasibly stand on its own, with anguish, hope, happiness, and all the other tales of human life displayed in such striking scenes. Trust me, no interest is lost for the fact that the action is painted. I was equally pleased with the written story and found it to be heavy in intrigue, friendship, romance, and the supernatural. It is very emotional and well matched with the intensity of the art story.  And the beginning of the book, the text and art story seem to be generally unrelated. As things lead towards the finale, however, both tales spiral tighter and closer until they collide with a heart wrenching bang. No matter what twists you expect, this is a book that will demand to be reread from a different perspective as soon as it's finished.
Plot: 5 Stars

          I could go on and on about the style. The art in combination with the text was an entirely new experience and was quite exhilarating. This unique story of love and loss and struggle all brilliantly portrayed by two talented creators was beautiful. I will absolutely be researching more of Jim Di Bartolo's work and continuing to keep an eye out for Kiersten White's future books.
Style: 5 Stars

Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 374 Pages
YA Fiction

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Rhett C. Bruno

        Rhett Bruno grew up in Hauppauge, New York, and studied at the Syracuse University School of Architecture where he graduated cum laude. 
        He has been writing since he can remember, scribbling down what he thought were epic short stories when he was young to show to his parents. When he reached high school he decided to take that a step further and write the "Isinda Trilogy". After the encouragement of his favorite English teacher he decided to self-publish the "Isinda Trilogy" so that the people closest to him could enjoy his early work.
        While studying architecture Rhett continued to write as much as he could, but finding the time during the brutal curriculum proved difficult. It wasn't until he was a senior that he decided to finally pursue his passion for Science Fiction. After rededicating himself to r​eading works of the Science Fiction author's he always loved, (Frank Herbert, Timothy Zahn, Heinlein, etc.) he began writing "The Circuit: Executor Rising", The first part of what he hopes will be a successful Adult Science Fiction Series.
        Since then Rhett has been hired by an Architecture firm in Mount Kisco, NY. But that hasn't stopped him from continuing to work on "The Circuit" and all of the other stories bouncing around in his head. He is also currently studying at the New School to earn a Certificate in Screenwriting in the hopes of one day writing for TV or Video Games.​

Favorite reads?
        Anything Science Fiction. From classics like Dune to newer series like 'The Expanse" Series. I also have a soft spot for Star Wars novels.

Inspirations for the book?
        My biggest inspiration was wondering why so many Sci-Fi stories just take artificial gravity for granted. That was where my original idea came from and the Circuit evolved from that. I decided that humanity should have to sacrifice something for such a crucial ability.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
         Not really. I always found myself writing and wanting to write, but I never really thought about pursuing it. Not until college did I really think that I could be an actual author.

Any Pet Peeves?
        Delays and long lines. I appreciate efficiency!

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
        Probably nothing I should talk about here... When I was in Florence me and my friends played music with a group of Italian hippies (I guess) outside of a church at 3am. It was surreal.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
        Anything by Ludovico Einaudi or Olafur Arnalds.

Do you need anything to write? 
        I usually like to write with music on that fits the scene. Although when I get really into it sometimes I forget the music has stopped playing ha.

How long do you write on any average day?
        1-2 hours on an average day if I'm lucky enough to have time. More when I'm very focused.

Author Info: 
Twitter: @rcbruno44

     It has been centuries since Earth was rendered a barren, volatile wasteland. With their homeworld left uninhabitable, humanity founded a system of colonies throughout their local solar system. Known as the Kepler Circuit, these settlements are strung together by a network of nonaligned Solar-Ark transports, locked in continuous motion. They have served to provide an influx of resources to every faction ruling over the remnants of humankind, most importantly the newly discovered element Gravitum which is found only in the Earth’s unstable mantle.
   ​ By 500 K.C. a religious sect known as the New Earth Tribunal has risen to preside over most of The Circuit. Though there is barely a faction left remaining to challenge them, a string of attacks on their transports force them to summon the enigmatic, yet brilliant, Cassius Vale for help. What they don’t know is that together with his intelligent android creation, ADIM, he is the one orchestrating the raids.
    His actions lead to the involvement of Sage Volus, a beautiful Tribunal Executor sent by her masters to spy on their mortal enemies – the Ceresian Pact. In order to find out who is behind the attacks, she infiltrates the ranks of a roguish mercenary named Talon Rayne. Against all her intentions, however, she finds her faith tested by him and his ragtag squad.
    While Sage and Talon are engaged in a futile hunt, Cassius Vale initiates his strategy to bring down the narrow-minded Tribune once and for all. But will anyone be able to survive what he has in store for the Circuit?​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Friday, August 15, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Jessica Roe

        Born and raised in England. When I'm not writing, I can usually be found trying to keep up with my very lovable but incredibly crazy daughter. In between those two things, I try to fit in as much reading as I can. Oh, and sometimes I even get around to doing chores.
          Undone (The Guardians #1) was my début novel, released April 2014. I'm currently working on its sequel, United. 

Favorite reads?
          TOO many lol. I'm a huge book lover. My most recent favourite is Halo by Frankie Rose. I do have a list of recommended reads on my blog which should definitely be checked out – there are some amazing authors on there.

Inspirations for the book?
          For Undone, my original inspiration was really about good versus evil, but also about how the good guys can be flawed and the bad guys can love just as fiercely as the good ones. I always think villains are much more interesting than the good guys, because they usually have a lot more depth. I'm weird that way.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
          Always. I went through phases of wanting to be other things too – air hostess, English teacher, lorry driver, popstar (lol) – but writing was always what I wanted to do the most.

Any Pet Peeves?
          Litterbugs. So annoying.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
          Peanut Butter. Every. Single. Time.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
          Hmm. Once when I was a teenager and still lived at home I thought it would be hilarious to get up in the middle of the night and rearrange all the furniture in the house so that my mum would think it was a ghost when she woke up...She was not impressed.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
          Yes. It can be found here

Do you need anything to write?  
          Nothing but quiet – which is a rare thing when you have a small, very excitable child lol.

How long do you write on any average day?
          Usually whenever I have a spare moment during the day, and then a few hours (3-4) at night when my daughter is asleep.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
           Because it has a little something for everybody – action, adventure, fantasy, romance. And not to mention bad guys with big hearts and good guys who have absolutely no idea what they're getting themselves into.

Author Info:

Nicky is trying to be a good guy...All Gable wants it to be bad.

Fresh out of prison and down on his luck, Nicky is trying to be a good guy. With a past overrun by darkness and shadows, he's willing to do whatever is takes to change. He just never dreamed his road to redemption would open his eyes to a world full of magic and mystical beings.
All Gable wants is to be bad. Because only a bad person would do the things she's done and not even care. She's not looking to be saved, not from her world, not from herself. Not even by Nicky.
At sixteen, Nicky and Gable were in love, but eight years apart is a long time and people change. After the tragedy that once ripped Gable from Nicky's world, they never expected to see each other again, especially not on the opposing sides of a fight between good and evil.
They will rescue each other, they will betray each other, they will be undone.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.
Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.
Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

          Ooo, where to start on these delicious characters? Mackenzie, or Mac, Bishop is the heir to a great and powerful legacy left by her beloved grandfather. Mac has been a Keeper, a highly skilled hunter of the histories that wake up, since she was young, and she considers herself very good at what she does. Her blunt, determined attitude and her almost complete lack of angst made her a very appealing character. In juxtaposition we have Wes, the goth, charismatic and strangely intriguing boy from who knows how many blocks over. Where Mac was silent and held her thoughts private, Wes went out with his personality on full display. But he too has experiences that have weathered him, and I look forward to exploring his depth in future books.
Characters: 4.5 Stars
          I feel like this book could be classified as a 'ghost' book, but I hesitate to label it as such. It's not about spirits, and, technically speaking, the histories stored, though they appear human, are not the humans who have passed on. But this compelling world and the situations created certainly leave no room to put the book down. While Mac grapples with the grief of losing her brother and struggles to hold her desolate family together, her world inside the narrows, collecting and returning the lost histories gradually falls apart. As the mysteries in her world and the eerie inbetween of the Narrows collide, she must decide whom she can trust and which friends to hold closer. Schwab skillfully weaves foreboding into a story rife with inner and outer turmoil, not to mention playing with the psychological aspect of being shelved after you're dead. The plot twists were not as twisty as I feel they were meant to be (In other words, I guessed them. And if I guessed them . . .), but they were still exciting and made for a very good story.
Plot: 4 Stars
          If I had to pick the one thing I liked best about The Archived it would be the unsettling, uncanny atmosphere Schwab created in the Narrows. It sent shivers up my spine and nothing too creepy even happened there! And on a final note, Schwab is  very good at pacing. The plot reveals weren't particularly dramatic, but she drew them out just enough for the intensity to build and played them soon enough that no scenes felt stalled. Overall I found it a very original and enjoyable read.
Style: 4.6 Stars

Rating: 4.4 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Length: 321 Pages
YA Fiction

Check out more from Victoria Schwab!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Excerpt (Peter S. Beagle): Beyond the Pale edited by Henry L. Herz

Beyond the Pale is a recently released  dark fantasy anthology edited by Henry L. Herz featuring eleven stories from award winning and New York Times Bestselling authors such as --

  • Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon)
  • Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn)
  • Heather Brewer (Vladimir Tod series)
  • Jim Butcher (Dresden Files series)
  • Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures series)
  • Nancy Holder (Wicked series)
  • Gillian Philip (Rebel Angels series)
  • Jane Yolen (Owl Moon)

  • Check out more information.

    Praise for Beyond the Pale:
    “Beyond the Pale features a stellar, diverse line-up, brimming with talent and imagination.”
    –   New York Times bestseller Jason Hough, author of The Darwin Elevator
    “From the hovel of a Middle Eastern hermit, to remote islands of Scotland, to a moss-dripping bayou road of the American South, and into lands uncharted, there is a singular truth: no matter where you go, you’re never far from the darkness, the unknown … the Pale. Beyond the Pale is a rich, diverse collection of tales that will haunt and inspire in equal measure.”
    –   New York Times bestseller Rachel Caine, author of The Weather Watchers

    Excerpt from Peter S. Beagle's "The Children of the Shark God":

    Once there was a village on an island that belonged to the Shark God. Every man in the village was a fisherman, and the women cooked their catch and mended their nets and sails, and painted their little boats. And because that island was sacred to him, the Shark God saw to it that there were always fish to be caught, and seals as well, in the waters beyond the coral reef, and protected the village from the great gray typhoons that came every year to flood other lagoons and blow down the trees and the huts of other islands. Therefore the children of the village grew fat and strong, and the women were beautiful and strong, and the fishermen were strong and high-hearted even when they were old.
    In return for his benevolence the Shark God asked little from his people: only tribute of a single goat at the turn of each year. To the accompaniment of music and prayers, and with a wreath of plaited fresh flowers around its neck, it would be tethered in the lagoon at moonrise. Morning would find it gone, flower petals floating on the water, and the Shark God never seen—never in that form, anyway.
    Now the Shark God could alter his shape as he pleased, like any god, but he never showed himself on land more than once in a generation. When he did, he was most often known to appear as a handsome young man, light-footed and charming. Only one woman ever recognized the divinity hiding behind the human mask. Her name was Mirali, and this tale is what is known about her, and about her children.
    Mirali’s parents were already aging when she was born, and had long since given up the hope of ever having a child—indeed, her name meant “the long-desired one.” Her father had been crippled when the mast of his boat snapped during a storm and crushed his leg, falling on him, and if it had not been for their daughter, the old couple’s lives would have been hard indeed. Mirali could not go out with the fishing fleet herself, of course—as she greatly wished to do, having loved the sea from her earliest memory—but she did every kind of work for any number of island families, whether cleaning houses, marketing, minding young children, or even assisting the midwife when a birthing was difficult or there were simply too many babies coming at the same time. She was equally known as a seamstress, and also as a cook for special feasts; nor was there anyone who could mend a pandanus-leaf thatching as quickly as she, though this is generally man’s work. No drop of rain ever penetrated any pandanus roof that came under Mirali’s hands.
    Nor did she complain of her labors, for she was very proud of being able to care for her mother and father as a son would have done. Because of this, she was much admired and respected in the village, and young men came courting just as though she were a great beauty. Which she was not, being small and somewhat square-made, with straight brows—considered unlucky by most—and hips that gave no promise of a large family. But she had kind eyes, deep-set under those regrettable brows, and hair as black and thick as that of any woman on the island. Many, indeed, envied her; but of that Mirali knew nothing. She had no time for envy herself, nor for young men, either.
    Now it happened that Mirali was often chosen by the village priest to sweep out the temple of the Shark God. This was not only a grand honor for a child barely turned seventeen but a serious responsibility as well, for sharks are cleanly in their habits, and to leave his spiritual dwelling disorderly would surely be to dishonor and anger the god himself. So Mirali was particularly attentive when she cleaned after the worshippers, making certain that no prayer whistle or burned stick of incense was left behind. And in this manner did the Shark God become aware of Mirali.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

    It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. 

    Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test. 

              Once in a while a great book comes along that makes everything afterward seem watered-down and flimsy. And so I scramble frantically for another good book until I am so desperate for story that I begin to settle for lesser literature. A poor book is now okay. And an okay book is suddenly good. Once in a while I will dream of the great book I read and wonder if there will every be anything like it again. Then suddenly, out of the blue, a really good book, perhaps not great, but one that comes close to touching reality in ways most books don't, falls into my lap and slams things into perspective. And suddenly I realize I've been reading tosh this entire time.
             Jo was  layered and insightful with depth and dreams and a good bit of practicality. I loved the determination she displayed in fighting for her dreams. She understood they were far above her and pretty much impossible, but that didn't keep her from trying her hardest. This story is Jo's; however, it is also Patrick's and Willie's and Jesse's and many, many other characters'. Everyone Jo encounters is written with such flavor that they continue to exist after their part in Jo's life is over. We follow Jo's story line, but she is not the only main character.
    Characters: 5 Stars
              Though not set out as an action novel, this book has plenty of rough and tumble in a totally plausible way for Jo's world. Don't expect full on flash and fire gun fights. Do expect hold-ups, death threats, blackmails, betrayal, etc. I did feel that the ending was fairly rushed and didn't provide the closure I was looking for, but regardless, this was Historical Fiction at its finest. Jo's struggle to break free from the web of the Big Easy explores corrupted people on all levels of society and good people on all levels of society.
    Plot: 5 Stars
              Ruta Sepetys has mastered the art of storytelling by detail. With a sidelong mention of an object, she can call to mind a new understanding of the situation. Out of the Easy displays considerable knowledge of the culture and circumstances present in New Orleans in the 1950's. This is a well textured tale that feels strikingly realistic.
    Style: 5 Stars

    Rating: 5 Stars
    Source: Library
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    YA/Adult Fiction (331 Pages)

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Review: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

    The Lost Sun: Book 1 of United States of Asgard 
      Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

       When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.

            I really liked Soren as a character. He was quiet and brooding yet determined and (oddly) humble enough I didn't hate him, despite how grouchy he got at some points. His struggles with his father's choices felt real, and reinforced a theme of how we allow the past to rule the present. I'm not sure I would click with him as a real person, but he's a hearty character. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Astrid. She seemed a little too focused on herself and the future she sees to be very likable or to feel very real. But in other ways she is a perfect counterpart to Soren; Their interactions felt very natural.
    Characters: 3.2  Stars

              Though not quite a fairy-tale retelling, this book contained the same air of magic and myth as fairy-tale retellings should. As our heroes move along a quest containing a sprinkling of mystery, a dash of action, a helping of romance, and a serving of intrigue, they face obstacles from the realm of the gods and the realm of mortals. I did skim most of the middle section (it seemed like this book relished its driving-in-a-car scenes). But the ending was quite good and almost ripped my heart out before ending with a bittersweet, satisfying thunk.
    Plot: 3.5 Stars

              Tessa paints her original story with a backdrop of nordic mythology and culture and somehow makes it flow seamlessly with a modern world in which a god can use a cell phone and the rising of Baldur the Beautiful is televised. When I saw the phrase 'United States of Asgard', I admit I thought this book was going to contain its fair share of cheesy. But it didn't. Tessa Gratton pulled it off with a flourish.
    Style: 3.7 Stars

    Rating: 3.5 Stars
    Source: Library
    Genre: Fantasy
    YA Fiction (350 Pages)

    For an excerpt check out The Lost Sun on  Amazon!

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

    Saturday Snatch: Mesh by David Ciccarelli

    Forty-four years after the disappearance of her father, Simi Duan has turned his ambitious vision into a corporate empire. Her main business is constructing space station. Her latest station, the Duan Gardens, is set to orbit further from Earth than any other outpost. This risky venture makes her the target of politicians, competitors, and militants who feel the Simi Duan is pushing society too far too fast. Zahir Bard is a recently retired diplomat for a government rapidly becoming obsolete. The United Earth Administration coaxes him back to public service to supervise the burgeoning frontier, especially the operations of Simi Duan. He agrees, as much to protect his own legacy as to protect the bureaucracy that employs him. Skulking in the dark corners of man’s prefabricated outposts is mercenary Cyril Tarsi. He has spent his adult life running from the mistakes of his youth, each contract possibly his last. He wants to find a life where he can be just a normal, anonymous citizen. His latest target might take him to that goal, or might get him killed. Desmond Colson is a twelve-year-old boy who has bounced along humanity’s path into deep space. His family’s nomadic lifestyle has left him isolated and weary. But the family’s next move is to the Duan Gardens, the literal edge of human civilization. Dez hopes that this move will finally bring the Colson family to a place they can call home. The entrepreneur. The politician. The assassin. The child. All pioneers moving deeper into the Solar System, and closer to the Mesh. ** Mesh: Book 1 consists of the previously released e-novellas: The Pioneers, The Other Side, and Horizons **

    The Mercenary

    Don’t back down. Don’t back down. Don’t back down.
    Cyril Tarsi stood against the wall of the crowded marketplace. A deluge of people pushed by the skinny, five-foot-eight, forty-five-year-old standing in the shadows. Relax and stay focused. It will be over soon.
    Cyril checked his thumbnail watch: four minutes to three. Four minutes to occupy his mind while he waited; four minutes to keep from backing out. He tried to remember the Mars time zone correlation to Earth. What time was it in Kingman, Arizona, the dull, hellish place where he hid before shuttling to Mars? What about on Tycho Base, his hideout before Kingman? Or was there another stop in between? Could he even remember all the holes he hid in?
    Who cares? Focus, Cyril.
    The time-wasting activity quickly lost hold of his mind. He had a job to do, and that’s all he should be thinking about. Two minutes now. Focus, man. Don’t chicken out. Don’t think about it. Do it.
    Cyril glowered at the bustling city around him. New Persia was no better than Arizona: hot, dry, boring. The generators pumped in the warm, dusty oxygen in loud bursts, filling the encapsulated settlement like a balloon. Most settlements on Mars were just population run-off. Instead of growing a culture and character of their own, the places were generic, sanitized, cookie-cutter communities, devoid of ideology or convictions, save for one: consumerism—the true binding force of humanity. At least on Earth, the people were allowed to erode their own cultures, not have them handed down, pre-decayed.
    Stop bitching. Focus on your job. Focus.
    Cyril took one step into the crowd and was absorbed into the flow of traffic. A gray trolley stopped at the corner of the boulevard. He quickened his step, his eyes locked on the trolley door. A behemoth of a man stepped off the car, gazing across the crowded bazaar. Cyril slipped between two pedestrians.
    Without looking, he slid a tiny needle out of a synthetic skin patch on his forearm, careful not to prick himself. It will be over in seconds. Move.
    For a big bastard, the guy had some speed. Cyril nudged a woman aside, increasing his pace. He moved the needle between his thumb and index finger. It was only three centimeters long and so thin he could bend it, but the juice inside could kill an elephant. His employer insisted he share the formula with him. Not a chance. Cyril had been working for years perfecting the “sting” and his delivery of it. It got him work as a hired killer all over the system until he missed once. Idiot.
    Now he was stuck on Mars. He had considered a real job––he was good with his hands and there was plenty of construction work to be had––but no legitimate company could protect him. He had thought of leaving the seemingly ubiquitous confines of the UEA and joining one of the “Auto” factions, but the Autonomous regions were worse than prison camps. Locked out of the UEA’s commerce and protection, they were hives of squalor, the place where anarchists, outcasts, and mental defectives went to die. No, he would make no desperation moves. Not yet.
    Pay attention!
    His corpulent target took a sharp turn, cutting against the crowd. Cyril fought to keep pace, only a yard or so behind him now. The man turned again, moving out of the flow of traffic and between two food kiosks. Cyril hesitated. Was he on to him? Should he abort? No. One jab and you’re done. Finish it.
    Cyril moved around the kiosks and came upon the man standing at a building entrance, fumbling in his pockets for a passkey. Perfect. Cyril quickened his pace. A couple walked toward them. Would they notice? If he timed it right...Focus!
    The man withdrew his passkey (a few more seconds) and waved it in front of the door (just another moment). A little light above the handle turned green (another step). The man slid the door open as Cyril bumped into him and placed his hand on the man’s lower back, as if bracing himself. “Excuse me.”
    The man gasped noticeably (keep moving), undoubtedly sensing the tiny pinch in his back like someone plucked out a hair. Cyril wanted to turn around (no); he wanted to witness his handiwork (and end your career), but he resisted the temptation (run).
    In his mind’s eye, he could observe the whole scene unfolding: the rotund gentleman rubs his back and glares in Cyril’s direction. He takes a few steps into the building, dismissing the pinprick as nothing, a phantom pain. A few more steps into the building, he perceives a sudden increase in body temperature. Sweat coats his back, chest, and forehead; beads form on his upper lip. A numb sensation swarms his left hand, rising through his arm. A heart attack? His tongue swells, choking off any cries for help. His vision blurs and tears stream down his reddening face. He tries to run to someone, to pantomime for help, but his legs feel like lead. Sharp muscle twinges drive him to his knees; his arms flail uselessly at anything in reach. In rapid succession, his vision fails, his jaw seizes shut (possibly severing his swollen tongue), and his bowels vacate. His final moments are spent on the floor, thrashing and gasping like a fish on hot asphalt. Then it is over.
    Cyril didn’t smile at the mental image. He didn’t enjoy the killing, but he was proud of his efficient work. He was proud that he always hit his target and his target only. There was no collateral damage. There was no swath of destruction or security lockdown. Cyril’s targets rarely dented the news cycle, maybe showing up as a blurb and an obituary. His employers appreciated this quality and they paid handsomely for it.
    A shove from behind snapped Cyril out of his self-congratulatory haze. He tried to turn but a vice-like grip kept his neck stiff. “Don’t look back, Tarsi. Just move for the van.” They knew his name. Who? Who knows my name? Parked at the street corner a few yards ahead was a blue cargo van. The tinted windows masked its occupants. Run. Run!
    An abrupt wiggle freed Cyril from his ambusher’s grasp. Before he could take a second step, two more sets of hands grabbed his arms. Cyril’s eyes darted between the towering musclemen who flanked him. Both kept their eyes straight ahead. “Relax, Tarsi. No reason to run. Just get in the vehicle,” a voice behind him whispered.

    Check out Mesh: Book 1 on Amazon!