Robbed of Soul — Lois D. Brown — Blog Tour

3 Mar

robbedofsoul

Released: January 1st, 2015
Genre: Mystery
Source: eBook for review from author

 

 

 

Rescued but psychologically damaged from a failed mission, ex-CIA officer Maria Branson takes the job of police chief in the quiet town of Kanab, Utah. Rest and relaxation are the doctor’s orders. She gets neither. Instead, a missing mayor, the spirit of a dead Aztec warrior, and the over-confident-yet-attractive head of Search and Rescue await her in a town whose past has almost as many secrets as her own. As Maria investigates a modern-day murder, she disturbs a world of ancient legends and deadly curses. Yet most lethal of all is Maria’s fear someone will discover just how empty her soul really is.

Whether you’re interested in the treasures of Montezuma, enjoy squeaky clean mysteries, or have a soft spot for light romance and suspense, Robbed of Soul fits the bill.

From Goodreads

OMG guys, so you know how I’m not a super fan of romance and sometimes I don’t read a book because I have a sneaking suspicion that the level of romance will make me all cranky and such? When I agreed to review Robbed of Soul, I knew that it was technically a romantic suspense. Or romantic mystery. Anyhoo, I knew that there was romance in it. But I LOVED the cover and the premise and thought “Hey, let’s give it a try.” And I am so happy that I did. Because this was an awesome read and it was super light on the romance. There was just enough of the boy-girl stuff to make the characters more rounded and believable but not enough that it took over from the main story.

And the main story? Well, there are technically two: the missing mayor and the search years ago for Montezuma’s treasure. I really liked how these two stories were running parallel to each other and how they were interconnected. It didn’t seem forced at all and really upped the element of mystery and suspense in the book.

As did Maria’s past. We are slowly let in on what happened on her failed mission and why she ended up so damaged. I spent a lot of the book trying to figure out on my own what had happened to her. I love mystery books where I really don’t know the full story and I’m left wondering for a while. I also like when the reveal finally happens and it totally makes sense.

I really liked Maria as a character. She was definitely damaged, but she didn’t come of as weak or whiny. I also really liked Rod, although he didn’t seem nearly as overbearing or overconfident as Maria thought he was. I would have liked to have seen more interaction with Beth. She seemed like a really interesting character, but we don’t see her a lot.

I loved this book and was a bit bummed when it ended. I wanted more!  If you are a fan of interesting mysteries with just the teensiest bit of romance, then I think you’re going to want to pick this one up.

How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back (White Trash Zombie #4) — Diana Rowland

24 Feb

groovebackPublisher: Audible Studios
Released: July 1st, 2014
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Audio book purchased
Narrator: Allison McLemore

 

 

It’s zombie versus zombie as the Saberton Corporation declares war against the Zombie Mafia, kidnapping several of their party. It falls to Angel to lead the remnants of her gang halfway across the country to claw their way through corporate intrigue, zombie drugs, and undead trafficking to rescue her friends – and expose the traitor responsible for their abduction.

From Goodreads

*Spoiler alert* IF YOU HAVEN’T READ/LISTENED TO THE FIRST THREE BOOKS, YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP THIS REVIEW

OMG how great is The White Trash Zombie series? So freaking great! This was my introduction to audiobooks and still remains my favourite series to listen to.

Before I get into the book I have to give props to Allison McLemore, the narrator. She is perfection in this series. Not only does she nail the main character’s drawl, but she all the other character voices are distinct without coming off as a parent reading a kid a storybook. (I have a particular love for Angel’s dad’s voice.)

Okay, the book. Holy crap but things have gone to shit in more ways than one. But it wasn’t too much or over the top. With the ongoing story arc of Saberton as the big bad, this was a natural progression. And there are some big, juicy WTF moments that are big, BIG game changers.  A couple of tidbits were thrown at us at the end that left me wondering if one of the secondary characters was going to become a major player in up coming books.

I need to take a second to devote to how much I ship Angel and Phillip. There, I said it. Yeah, Marcus is great, but I really, REALLY want to see something happen between Angel and Phillip.

Angel Crawford is an amazingly fun character. She’s snarky and funny and fearless (usually) and generally doesn’t give a shit what people think of her. She’s had a lot of growth from the first book, but she got a bit annoying in this book at times. She was super insecure through a good part of the book and it turned into whininess sometimes. I understand she was truly out of her element, but the sever insecurity just didn’t feel like it was in tune with what I know of the character. But I still love Angel and will definitely continue with the series.

Between — Angie Abdou

19 Feb

betweenPublisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Released: October, 2014
Genre: adult, literary, Canadian fiction
Source: paperback copy from author for review

 

 

 

Vero and her husband Shane have moved out of the sweet suite above his parents’ garage and found themselves smack in the middle of adulthood―two kids, two cars, two jobs. They are not coping well. In response to their looming domestic breakdown, Vero and Shane get live-in help with their sons―a woman from the Philippines named Ligaya (which means happiness), whom the boys call LiLi. Vero justifies LiLi’s role in their home by insisting that she is part of their family, and she goes to great lengths in order to ease her conscience. But differences persist; Vero grapples with her overextended role as a mother and struggles to keep her marriage passionate, while LiLi silently bears the burden of a secret she left behind at home.

Between offers readers an intriguing, searing portrait of two women from two different cultures. At the same time, it satirizes contemporary love, marriage, and parenthood by exposing the sense of entitlement and superiority at the heart of upper-middle-class North American existence through a ubiquitous presence in it: the foreign nanny. Angie Abdou comically and tragically tackles the issue of international nannies by providing a window on motherhood where it is tangled up with class, career, labour, and desire.

From Goodreads.

 

This book. OMG THIS BOOK! I loved it SO HARD. It was beautiful and awkward and messy and real.

Okay, Vero: I don’t think I’ve ever read such an unlikeable yet completely sympathetic character. I mean, I spent most of the book not really liking her but at the same time I felt so goddamn bad for her and wanted to take her out for a tea or buy her some lavender essence oil or something. And I love when I’m conflicted about a character. Purely good or purely bad characters just don’t do it for me.

Ligaya was also a well-written, complicated character who really comes into her own by the end of the book. There’s one scene at the end with Ligaya, Vero and Shane and I was all like, “You go LiLI! You tell them how it is!” It was cool to watch her gain confidence in a very unexpected way.

Seriously, guys, the imperfections of all the characters are described perfectly.

Abdou’s use of language is exquisite and if I were to quote all of my favourite lines this review would be, well, pretty much the whole book. I rarely ever include direct quotes in my reviews, but here are two that took my breath away:

“The smile let Vero feel the earth under her feet.” — page 272

“The silence that follows is palatable, the air heavy with it. Vero imagines scooping it into her mouth, eating it like ice cream.” — page 293

I really can’t recommend this book enough. As with Abdou’s other books, Between will take its place on my favourite reads bookcase.

Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire — blog tour

3 Feb

I am SO FREAKING HAPPY to be taking part in this blog tour. I was the developmental editor for this book and I heart it so much.  A big thanks to Jillianne Hamilton for answering some questions I had been DYING to ask her.

mollymirandacover

Do you have any writing rituals? (certain snacks, clothing, times of day etc.)
I tend to write on weekends, usually in the afternoon or evening. Comfortable clothes are a must. I used to require a can of Coke when writing but I weaned myself off of pop last year. Hurray!

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, do you have a Molly Miranda playlist?
I almost always play instrumental music when I write. The soundtracks to “The Social Network, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Small Apartments” are fantastic for that.

Tea or coffee?
Neither, actually! I occasionally drink French Vanilla Cappuccinos from Tim Horton’s but usually I just go for milk or orange juice.

Yoga pants or tights?
Tights! I think I lived in tights and a skirt this summer.

What was the last OMG I LOVE IT book that you read?
Probably The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot. Straight romance usually isn’t my thing but it was so funny. I devoured it in a weekend. I think Meg Cabot has a direct link to my brain.

Who are your writing inspirations?
My girl Meg Cabot, obvs, and Louise Rennison. And maybe Stephen Colbert. And Caitlin Moran.

What is the one book you’d get everyone in the world to read if you could?
That’s a really hard question! I’m going to go with “How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran. Between that and the documentary Miss Representation, it really hastened by development as a determined feminist. Plus, Moran is hilarious and charming.

Giveaway time! I have one eBook of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire to giveaway to one of you lucky ducks. Just comment on this post (yeah I’m old school like that) and I’ll randomly choose someone. You have until February 10, 2015 to enter.

Stronger — Lani Woodland

23 Jan

stronger

 

Released: August 24th, 2014
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi
Source: Ebook from author for review

 

 

It’s been said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In the aftermath of an alien invasion, the old saying became literal.

When the aliens attacked Earth, their bombs changed our atmosphere. Through DNA manipulation, humanity survived, but exist now as two distinct classes of people: the Valudis who heal and gain strength from every hurt, and the weaker Debilii, for whom the slightest injury can be fatal. The Debilii are servants for the Valudis, who in turn act as warriors and protectors. And ruling over them all are the alien Orions who decided they liked Earth enough to stay.

Despite being born a Debilii, Lexie Hake bravely joined the resistance to free Earth from the Orions. When several run-ins with Bryant, a handsome Valudis, bring her secret activities to the aliens’ notice, the whole rebellion is put at risk. Lexie is forced to take a more active role in overthrowing the Orions. ‪She might be Earth’s last chance at freedom, and if she fails, the Orions’ ruthless reign may never end.

From Goodreads

Okay, this book has one of THE BEST opening lines I’ve ever read. I mean, it sucked me right in and made me go “WHAT?” right off the bat. The book started off with a bang and pretty much continued right through.

This was a fast read for me. I read about 75% of it in one sitting and often found that I had to do that thing where I force myself to SLOW DOWN AND READ ALL THE WORDS. This was an action-packed book, my friends. A lot of holy shit moments take place and it was a fun and plot-twisty kinda read.

The world-building was top-notch. I could picture each building and also each species. This is super important for me, since I am not a visual person. Usually I can’t visualize what’s being described to me. But Lani did such an amazing job describing everything that it felt like I was there.

Lexie was an awesome main character. Rather kick-ass. She has a lot thrown at her and I liked that while she did have moments of feeling sorry for herself, she never sunk into a damsel in distress. But she wasn’t obnoxious about her ability, either. She was unsure of herself at times, and this just added to the believability of the character.

I really enjoyed Stronger and was sad when the book ended. (Any chance of a sequel, Lani? :D)

The Art of Asking — Amanda Palmer

13 Jan

Art of askingPublisher: Grand Central Publishing
Released: November 11th, 2014
Genre:Non-fiction, self-help, memoir
Source: Audio book purchased

 

 

 

Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world’s most successful music Kickstarter.

Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn’t alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING.

Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.

From Goodreads

 

Gah, I’m not even sure how to review this book. My love for it, and for Amanda Palmer, is so strong and so big that it’s really super hard to put into words. I know this book and its message will stick with me through life and help guide me. Yes, it sounds a bit cheesy and over the top, but that’s how much The Art of Asking resonated with me. And for this point in my life it was the exact book I needed.

I listed this as self-help, memoir, but those categories don’t 100% fit the book. It was more like sitting in a pub with Amanda and just having a chat with her about everything: her life, life in general, art, crowdfunding, love. These are all things that she weaves into the general topic of being open and asking for help when you need it. And she talks about art, and how as artists, as creative people, we have to accept that what we do has value, something that I know a lot of creative people struggle with. That whole “How the hell can I ask for money for my picture/jewellery/book/play/song etc.?” thing.

The telling isn’t really linear. She bounces back and force to different points in her life. But instead of feeling disconnected and confusing it works and it was really easy to follow the different threads.

This book was beyond uplifting and enlightening for me. It really felt like being enveloped in a big hug and being told “It’s okay, you matter, your art and your work matter, your LIFE matters.” I had several moments where I was so overcome with emotion that I had to stop listening for a bit.

Since this is an audiobook I have to talk a bit about the narrator. Amanda narrates the book herself, which is PERFECT. Her voice is soothing and her narration really added to the feeling of intimacy. She also interspersed the book with various songs, most by her and The Dresden Dolls. I didn’t really know Amanda’s music that much but in the last few days I have been listening to pretty much nothing else.

I love that she included music in the audiobook, songs that fit in with what she was talking about. I was listening to it in my car when one of the songs came on. “In My Mind” felt like a hit to my core. I actually had to pull the car over once I realized I was crying my eyes out. I’m an emotional person anyway and feel strong connections to certain songs, but holy shit this one. It was like Amanda looked into my head and my heart and wrote the song that I needed to hear right now, at this moment in my life.

And that’s kind of what the whole book felt like. Like it was exactly what I needed right now. But I have a feeling that if I were to go back and listen to it again in a year, five years, ten years, I may get something different from it, but it will still be exactly what I need.

My husband also listened to and loved The Art of Asking. He’s started drawing again and we’re starting up a business to sell the amazing chainmaille jewellery that he makes. All because of Amanda and her words.

If I could buy every single creative person this book, I would.

 

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