"Falling For Jillian" Is A Sure Romantic Bet...+ A GIVEAWAY!

Falling for Jillian (Love Under the Big Sky, #3)Title:  Falling For Jillian
(Love Under The Big Sky  #3)
Author:  Kristen Proby
Format:  Print
Length:  384 pages
Expected Date of Publication:  January 27th, 2015
Publisher:  Pocket Books
Rating:  5 Stars

From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby comes the third romance in the Love Under the Big Sky series, featuring a veteran struggling with PTSD and the one woman who can help him recover—and learn to love again.

Jillian thought she was a city girl through and through; the fast cars, high fashion, and glamour—she loves it all. But when her ex tells her he’s having a baby with his new wife (after Jillian struggled for years to get pregnant), she hightails it back to Montana to cry on the shoulder of her best friend, Cara.

But in truth, Jillian would rather be comforted by someone else…specifically Zach, Cara’s brother-in-law. Zach is a veteran of the Iraq War who came back to the family ranch to raise his preteen son after the boy’s mother took off. He’s struggling to re-establish a relationship with his son, and warding off the demons of PTSD, which still haunt him. The last thing he needs is bold, brassy Jillian…but why can’t he keep his hands off her?  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
Jillian Sullivan is a woman on the mend. Freshly returned to her home in the bucolic setting of Cunningham Falls, Montana. Jillian would like nothing better than to put the memories of her broken marriage and tragic past in Los Angeles behind. Ready to start fresh, surrounded by the family and friends that have always been there for her.

The last thing that our hard pressed heroine needs is the attention of her one time lover, Zack King. It seems however that with fate determined to make him her 'knight in shining pickup truck,' at every turn.
Attention of the up close and personal kind is just what Jillian and her battered heart are going to get.

The story told here is all about the heart, and that emotion is not limited to the all consuming fires of passion which sizzle and flare between Zack and Jillian whenever the two are in close proximity. Drama runs high in both character's lives. Jillian's story of love betrayed, stealing the show for the first parts of the read; Zack's tales of single fatherhood, the abuse of his son at the hands of his ex-wife's lovers, and the trauma of his military service in Iraq binding readers to him as things progress.

Balancing things out for the happier, are the softer, fluffier, branches of the plot-line involving family friends Cara and Lauren. As well as Zack's lovable son, Seth.

The chemistry between Jillian and Zack makes for rough, real, and very explosive love scenes. Very descriptive, scorching hot, and oh so dirty language sweetens the pot for those who love the sexier side of things.

Never one to rest on her romantic laurels. Authoress Kristen Proby ups the ante for readers even higher the closer readers come to the story's conclusion. Loaded with heart-wrenching plot twists that must be read to be believed; it is no wonder that the 384 pages comprising this read fly by in no time.

If you are a reader who likes to be swept away by waves of romance, drama, and strong men and women willing to fight for love and family. Falling For Jillian is the read for you.

Reviewer's Note: This novel includes a sneak peek beneath the cover of Loving Cara, book 2 in the Love Under The Big Sky series.
This series is made up of three loosely related companion novels, which may be read as standalones or in their intended series.

About Kristen
Kristen Proby Kristen is the author of the Amazon and USA Today bestselling With Me In Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.

Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps. 

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Explore The Dark Places of Childhood In "My Sunshine Away"

My Sunshine Away Title:  My Sunshine Away
Author:  M.O. Walsh
Format:  ERC
Length:  320 pages
Expected Date of Publication:  February 10th, 2015
Publisher:  Amy Einhorn Books
Rating:  3 Stars

It was the summer everything changed.…

My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.

In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts

My Sunshine Away, though centered around the rape of then 15-year old Lindy Simpson, in the summer of 1989, really serves to relate to readers how that one vile violation of trust changes the way that the book's teenaged narrator comes to view himself, Lindy, his community, and the world.

Told in the voice of a one time suspect, die-hard Lindy fan, and forever nameless hormonally driven young boy. This book is written with the trademark Southern flare for the dramatic. As well as a looping plot line, which takes the long route to a short story.

Care must be taken to remember that though the majority of this book is told from the perspective of a teen; this book is not YA, but rather the flashback styled recounting of an adult.
Although as with any great YA novel, there is an inordinate amount of time spent by the narrator making seemingly unrelated incidents about himself. (This also happens to be a major failing in the plot.) Tirelessly repeated in pages upon pages of, "This happened or didn't happen to me...and this is how it may or may not relate to Lindy."
Pages upon pages go on this way!

But I digress.

Thankfully, the author does see fit to allow the story to wander into other backyards. It is here that we find tales of other interesting characters and happenings, that though loosely related to both the narrator and Lindy, act as a buffer to the laser-like precision with which the narrator defines their relationship.

The biggest disappointment of the read however, lies in the fact that as the story unfolds, readers are left to come to terms with the fact that every dirty little secret, mistake, or problem that our young narrator uncovers in his quest to bungle his way self-deprecatingly into adulthood, is allowed to go unresolved. Dulled by time, but not resolved.

In short, this book is a 320 page homage to the Southern belief that, "If you leave your skeletons buried long enough...even you'll forget where you put them."

Though certain plot elements and aspects of character development do prove problematic to the story.
It must be said that the writing and descriptive nature of the stories themselves is very engaging.
This is not a book for readers who want a read with a clear direction.
If however, you are a person who enjoys nothing better than a day spent wiling away the hours on the porch of the town gossip. This is the book for you.

Reviewer's Note:  I was given this access to this title through the First To Read Program hosted by Penguin Books.
All opinions expressed are my own, and I was
in no way compensated for my review.

About M.O. Walsh
M.O. Walsh was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  His stories and essays have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Southern Review, American Short Fiction, Epoch, and Greensboro Review.  His short stories have also been anthologized in Best New American Voices, Bar Stories, Best of the Net and Louisiana in Words. He is a graduate of the Ole Miss MFA program and currently lives in New Orleans, LA, where he is the Director of the Creative Writing Workshop at The University of New Orleans.  He also directs the The Yokshop Writers Conference in Oxford, MS.  You can follow him on Facebook.

"The Paying Guests" A Book About Life...That You'll Want To Live In

The Paying Guests Title:  The Paying Guests
Author:  Sarah Waters
Format:  Audio/ ERC
Length:  576 pages
Date of Publication:  September 16th, 2014
Publisher:  Riverhead Hardcover
Rating:  5 Stars

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

My Thoughts
The 1920's is a time best remembered as one of great social change and economic upheaval. Nowhere does this seem more the case than in the gentrified, but 'war poor' residence of the widow Wray, and her spinster daughter Frances. Forced by necessity to 'let rooms' in their Camberwell villa; the two ladies do all they can to maintain the societal status quo of their station, while making ends meet.

Enter the Barbers...

It is clear from the start that life in Camberwell is quite the step up for the progressive,brash, and just a bit 'rough around the edges' Lilian and Leonard Barber. Frances is immediately intrigued by the couple, and doesn't hesitate to escape the staid confines of her routine driven life through a friendship. Little does Frances know that her dealings with the couple, (Lilian in particular) will serve as the catalyst for some of the most wonderful, as well as some of the most horrific moments of her life.

Though set in the 20's, the world created here is able to serve as a microcosm of modern-day institutionalized mores concerning homosexuality, women's rights, sexism, classism, marriage, gender roles, and equal treatment in the criminal justice system. While the love affair between Lilian and Frances does serve as a stable plot line throughout the whole of the read, the author remains very cognoscente of the fact that one great plot twist does not a novel make. As such, this read is peppered with secrets, lies, and wtf moments that are both shared and unique to specific central characters. That being said however, the continuity of the story is maintained through the use of Lilian and Frances' plot line as a touchstone throughout this tale.

The pacing of this novel is moderate, and is far more interaction driven than action driven. Readers will notice a tendency by the author to wander down paths of detailed laden description. Not to worry though, these little excursions are very well planned and never veer too far away from the story. In short, the story found here is as close to dramatic perfection as one is likely to come.

This is a tale that is meant to be read, savored, pondered, discussed, shared, and read again.

About Sarah
Sarah WatersSarah Waters is a British novelist. She is best known for her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, as well the novels that followed, including Affinity, Fingersmith, and The Night Watch.

Waters attended university, earning degrees in English literature. Before writing novels Waters worked as an academic, earning a doctorate and teaching. Waters went directly from her doctoral thesis to her first novel. It was during the process of writing her thesis that she thought she would write a novel; she began as soon as the thesis was complete.

Find Sarah:   http://www.sarahwaters.com/

Spring The Trap of Fantastical Brilliance That Is "Ensnared"

22447220Title:  Esnared
(Splintered #3)
Author:  A.G. Howard
Format:  ERC/ Audio
Length:  384 pages
Publisher:  Amulet Books
Date of Publication:  January 6th, 2015
Rating:  5 Stars

After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She's determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world--a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that's gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?  -Goodreads

My Thoughts

One of the most difficult tasks that any author can undertake has to be that of topping themselves. Particularly when the author in question just happens to be A.G. Howard, and the anticipated work is the final installment in her fantastical reworking of Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland classic.

What authoress Howard has managed to present to audiences in this, the third offering in the Splintered series, is nothing less than literary perfection.

This third tale sees Alyssa and her father on the Memory Train, in an effort to help him find his missing memories of his time in Wonderland. As this branch of the storyline is explored, Alyssa's father is truly able to take his rightful place as an active player in the Wonderland side of things. As opposed to standing on the sidelines, or functioning mainly to anchor Alyssa to the human world.
It is in large part the revelations made through the uncovering of these lost aspects of Alyssa's father's past that work to set the stage for the major events of the story. The time that the two spend together, also works to shore up the father daughter bond that has been a common thread throughout previous books.

With this book taking place in the no man's land of AnyElseWhere. There is a urgency to get back to Wonderland that drives that plot, and helps to maintain a very good momentum throughout the course of the read.
Because AnyElsewhere is a place where chaos and savagery are given to ruling the day; Howard's flair for the darker and baser motives and actions of her cast is allowed to reign unchecked, with delicious and disturbingly decadent results.

Jeb, though still tied to his role as the long suffering 'White Knight', is allowed to wield a surprising amount of creative power. This does nothing to negate the fact that try as he might, Jeb is forever destined to play a very distant 'second fiddle' to Morpheus in the grand scheme of things.

Speaking of Morpheus. This is the when readers are treated to a kinder and more emotionally expressive, albeit nonetheless manipulative side to this most lovable rogue.
He it seems, is doing all he can to ensure his future as both a part of Wonderland, and the man in Alyssa's life.
To that end...
It must be mentioned that the 'love triangle' that has plagued this series from the beginning is dealt with in a most unusual way.

And then there is Red.
Nasty as ever, and ever on the lookout for a chance to destroy. Red is allowed to be the villain that only she can. Her scenes of murder and mayhem provide much of the blood and gore found in this tale. Readers are also treated to a look 'behind her mask' as we are made privy to her memories.
She is the source of the epic 'good versus evil' battle that no self respecting conclusion can be without.

Ensnared is the perfect title for this last book. It have everything that a great story needs to captivate, charm, enthrall, and fascinate readers of all ages across the whole of time.

About A.G. Howard
A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

SPLINTERED & UNHINGED, books 1 & 2 of her urbanized /gothic Alice in Wonderland series, are now available from Amulet Books. Book 3, ENSNARED, launches 2015

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Curiousity Quills Press Presents: The Actuator 1.5 Borderlands Anthology

Title:  The Actuator 1.5 Borderlands Anthology
Author(s):  Various
Format:  ERC
Date of Publication:  September 11, 2014
Publisher:  Curiousity Quills Press
Rating:  5 Stars

When the Actuator breaks the earth into a patchwork of altered realities, the remaining Machine Monks begin looking for the Keys to put it back. In the meantime, everyone in the world has been transformed without knowing why. This collection tells about some of the people struggling to deal with the change.

In “Remembering Emily,” Sara Wolf brings us a tale describing the horror of a world split by the Actuator. Daniel’s girlfriend, Emily, is in danger in some faraway place. Worse, she might forget Daniel before he can reach her. Fighting against the Actuator’s attempts to enforce a new reality to block him, he must find a way to rescue Emily before it’s too late.

Matthew Cox explores Cyberpunked China in "Stolen Orchid,” where a man finds his wife has become a ghost due to the Actuator's powerful reach. His only hope of saving her is to cross the border with a mobster bearing down, facing precarious fate in an unfamiliar realm.

In “The Blackbird’s Tale,” Dan Willis relates the plight of a Machine Monk named David, who works his way through obstacles to reach Chicago. Why? To find an Actuator Key—one that takes the form of a small bird statue.

Nathan Yocum explores the plight of Oren Smith Wessely as a man with no past, trapped in the twisted, kaleidoscopic realm of steampunk Arizona in “Dream Journal.” Dark dreams haunt Oren’s nights…but what happens when those dreams suddenly come to life? Certainly nothing good.

Mara Valderran’s “The Austenation” is a tale where Pride and Prejudice meets werewolves in the English countryside of the Victorian era. Dealing with the strict social mores of the day, along with lycanthropic consequences, the story’s young heroine is forced to do what was often unthinkable in that era: take matters into her own hands.

In “Escape,” Patrick Burdine explores the fate of a group of teenagers caught in a town without mothers, and where all the fathers have turned into faceless, soul-sucking monsters. When one girl’s eighteenth birthday marks the end of her existence, can they penetrate the steel-walled town’s borders before it’s too late?

“The Ritual” is the tale brought to us by Whitney Trang, where the Actuator brings imagined horrors of a haunted house in Japan to life. A young woman’s quest means facing a ghost bent on sacrificing her sister in a ritual to save himself and his family.

“The Gatekeepers of Change” is James Pratt’s short chronicle about a man dressed in black, and who rises to importance after the Great Actuation. Suddenly aware of the great powers and wider universe now available to him, the man enacts his plans.

“The Ringer” is Craig Nybo’s tale about a detective in New Orleans facing zombies and other undead monsters as he assists a client in taking on her crime lord husband. The huge fee adds plenty of incentive…if he can live long enough to spend it.

A Soviet soldier guarding Chernobyl from people too foolish to stay away from the radiation forms the basis of Jason Purdy’s “Anna and Lena.” When the soldier abandons his post, he soon discovers that he is the last living person in the area. Poisoned and growing weaker by the moment, he must find someplace safe across the border before he perishes.

Jenny Persson brings us the story of a teen suddenly thrust into Viking Sweden in “Once upon a Frozen North.” The teen finds her modern way of thinking brings only misery. But the girl is cunning. Soon after her ritual into womanhood, she looks to the steampunk airships just across the border as a means for her escape.

Jay Wilburn takes us along the harrowing journey of drug addicted Travis, as he traverses the Actuator-ravaged American South in “Halfway.” The journey becomes an opportunity to reconnect with the people lost to him by addiction…. But in the end, will he find the lasting peace he seeks?

The author Juhi’s “The Search for Punarnav” takes us far away to India, where a man seeks to become a healer. To do so, he faces the daunting task of eluding the many dangerous Hindu mythological creatures brought to life by the Actuator.

Jason A. Anderson brings us “15 Seconds of Fame.” Unlike the title’s standard definition, this tale takes place in Steampunk London. A detective risks life and limb to save a child from her mob boss father. Not an easy task, especially when it means finding a way to also save the child’s mother from violent retaliation.

In “Forever Young,” Wilbert Stanton explores the fate of an old man who finds himself young again, after paying his life’s savings to gain admission into an exclusive realm. However, when he meets a new love, he soon learns the real cost of immortality, and whether or not he is willing to pay for it.

Last, but not least, we have James Wymore’s tale, “Cult of the Actuation.” A Machine Monk, captured just east of the base, calls for help. Dragon Star comes to the rescue… but is soon distracted by a religious cult surrounding the mouth of a cave near one of the Actuator’s borders. Ultimately, the cult leader decides that the Machine Monk and Dragon Star pose a threat, and orders their execution. A dicey situation at best.

Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK

My Thoughts
This wonderful anthology allows readers to travel to worlds ranging the imaginative spectrum.
There is something to be found for every reader.  From steampunk to historical.
Though the worlds may be different, the underlying theme of human sacrifice is a unifying thread which works to link the tales.
This is a surprising treasure trove of originality that will make a welcome addition to any library.

Soar To Uncharted Heights Of Epic Dystopian Bliss With "Red Rising"

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Title:  Red Rising 
(Red Rising #1)
Author:  Pierce Brown
Format:  ERC
Length:  382 pages
Publication Date:  January 28th, 2014
Publisher:  Del Rey
Rating 5 Stars

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda  -Goodreads

My Thoughts

Darrow is a young man who has been lead to believe that his hard-scrabble life as a Low-Red terraformer on Mars is a necessary part of making the plant habitable for coming generations.

When a series of unfortunate circumstances lead to the loss of all he hold dear, the near loss of his life, and the decimation of his entire belief system.
Darrow is set upon a course that will if successful not only serve to change him as a man, but to also change the world.

This is a book that serves as a close up view of the tenants of the nature versus nurture debate in action.
When Darrow, a young man who has been lead to believe that his life is meant for little more than service, drudgery, and pain is than placed within the highest echelon of society with all the tools that
he needs to succeed there, and told that he and he alone must fight to no only ensure, but better his position...the results are in a word GOLDEN!
Add to the afore mentioned aspects the secrecy of Darrow's true identity and personal agenda and you have a sure page turner.

The questing scenes in Red Rising have drawn comparisons to Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. However the scenes found here are far more involved and of a far greater scope than those of Miss Collins.
It is during these scenes that readers get to see Darrow develop the skills of honor, diplomacy, empathy, strategy, and the all important sense of the 'greater good' that all leaders need.

Though this is the first book in a series, it must be said that this book is a complete work, fully capable of standing on its own.
There is no doubt that Red Rising is destined for instant classic and must read status the world over.

About Pierce
Pierce Brown 
Pierce Brown's first novel, RED RISING (Del Rey Books), debuts January 28, 2014. It is the first installment in The Red Rising Trilogy.

Pierce Brown spent his childhood building forts and setting traps for his cousins in the woods of six states and the deserts of two. Graduating college in 2010, he fancied the idea of continuing his studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a magical bone in his body. So while trying to make it as a writer, he worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate Campaign.

Now he lives in Los Angeles, where he scribbles tales of spaceships, wizards, ghouls, and most things old or bizarre.

Note to the reader: Always feel free to contact him via his website, twitter, or facebook. He likes people. Except if you're a trollish person. Then he merely puts up with you for the sake of manners and propriety.

The Tease Of Darker Pleasures Is Yours For The Sampling In "Wicked Shots"

Wicked ShotsTitle:  Wicked Shots
(Wicked Exposure Novella)
Author:  Katana Collins
Format:  ERC
Length:  70 pages
Expected Publication Date: February 24th, 2015
Rating:  3 Stars

Living on the edge…

Cassandra Walters has always followed the rules…until now. Introduced to the erotic pleasures of total submission, she spends her nights in the company of her master, doing as she’s told and surrendering to exquisite ecstasy. But indulging in her newly discovered passion is a problem for Cass. She’s caught in a drug smuggling ring with no way out and nowhere to turn. Cass is not just running scared. She’s running for her life…  -Goodreads

My Thoughts 
This is a very enticing tidbit of a read.
There are however, more than a few very pronounced issue which plague it as a novella.
It is very clear that Katana Collins, as a writer, is very comfortable writing full-length novels.
As such she has fallen into the trap that many novelists do when attempting to pen novellas.

The mini-me dilemma.

This is where a writer forgets to streamline plot elements such as: number of characters/character interactions, the number of differing scenes, and the number of varying plot twists.
One must remember that a novella is a very up close and personal look at one particular aspect of a story.
As such,there should have been a concentration on either the dramatic and suspenseful 'drug mule' storyline, or the or the eroticism of the sub/dom.
By attempting to combine the two within the restrictions of a scant 70 pages, the reader is often left confused by the seeming revolving door of change, and is never quite sure of the story's overall direction.

While it may be true that the scope of this story is a little too ambitious for the confines of a novella, that fact does little to diminish the the stellar quality of the writing and character development found here.
One is able to gain a very clear understanding of who each of the characters are, their motives, likes and dislikes, etc.

Since this is a prequel, detail character descriptions will be forgone in this review in order to avoid spoilers.
It should be noted however, that Wicked Shots does leave the reader wanting to delve much further into the back story of leading lady Cassandra, and the how's and why's of the relationships she maintains within its course.

Reviewer's Note: This book deals with mature sexual themes. As such it is recommended to readers 18+.
This novella comes with a sneak-peek at follow-up title Wicked Exposure

About Katana
Katana CollinsKatana Collins grew up in a lot of different places. She has called PA, NC, GA, FL and NY all her home. Pretty much in that order, too. Her dream was to always be an author. A photographer. A teacher. A veterinarian. A dolphin trainer. A ballerina. And an actress. She’s proud to say that a few of these even came true.

Katana attended the Savannah College of Art and Design where she took only one writing class–but it was the class that changed the course of her life forever. One amazing professor and one semester later, she emerged with a new set of skills and was finally able to develop what was always a passion into that of a career. Or in Katana’s case, one of many careers. She showed up her first day of undergrad in overalls and flip flops…and graduated in a strapless silk dress and a pair of Manolos. She has never since worn overalls. Though, she does admit to the occasional flip flop.

Katana’s “double life” entails photographing portraits (boudoir and glamour portraits, pet portraits and baby/kids/family photographs). Katana currently lives in Brooklyn, NY as a newlywed with her husband and two rescue dogs…one mastiff and one chihuahua. 

Find Her:  WebsiteFacebookTwitter


Experience A New Voice In Scifi Thrills With "The Taking"

The Taking (The Taking, #1) Title:  The Taking
(The Taking #1)
Author:  Kimberly Derting
Format:  ERC
Length:  357 pages
Publication Date:  April 29, 2014
Publisher:  HarperTEEN
Rating:  5 Stars

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?  -Goodreads

My Thoughts

Kimberly Derting has once again proven why her title as the 'breakout sleeper novel Queen' is so well deserved.
Kyra Agnew is a girl whom it seems, has gotten the chance that so many of us dream of.  To go to sleep one person and wake up someone completely different.  Only in her case there was no sleeping or waking involved, everyone Kyra has known and loved has changed, and Kyra was not only changed, she was TAKEN.

If you are a child of the 90's, or have a really good Scifi video collection.  There is no way that this book doesn't call to mind the edge of your seat, alien hunting goodness that is The X-Files.  

You see, when Kyra Agnew finds herself alone behind the local gas station/convenience store, wearing the same clothes that she had been when she launched herself out of her father's car in a huff, with no memory of the time lapse between events.
Well, let's just cue the creepy music right about...here.

Adding to that list of things that make one question that oh so tenuous hold that we all like to believe we have on sanity.  Kyra goes home to find that her mother and father have divorced, her mother has now married a man to whom Kyra not so lovingly refers as 'The Husband', she now has a baby brother named Logan, her boyfriend Austin has moved away to college, his younger brother Tyler has somehow managed to become a lot older and 'hotter'...and oh yeah...Kyra has been missing for five years!

The Taking is a story that is crafted in such a way, that for the first half of the book readers are just as unsure about what has happened and is happening as Kyra.
Because of this, one is truly given the chance to experience each occurrence, loss, hurt, epiphany, and discovery through her eyes.  Thereby establishing the all important emotional bond between reader and this main character very early within the story.

Authoress Derting also takes great care with the elements of backstory and setting to convey to her audience just how drastically life has changed for our 'little girl lost'.  One great example of this being the tie-in between her pre-incident relationship with Austin Wahl, it's dissolution, and the resulting post-incident happenings with the younger and hotter Tyler Wahl.

Further sweetening the mystery pot that is the rather 'wtf' situation with our girl are the following:
She has not aged.
She has increased strength, speed, etc.
She is being stalked by a certain Agent Truman.

At the start of part II, otherwise known as just beyond the book' midpoint; things go from very Contemporary, and just a bit 'I don't know,' to full on action packed Scifi.  The transition is a seamless one, that only acts to amp up reader involvement without making the effort of doing so apparent to the audience in any way.
The second half of this read is where we readers are afforded the chance to sit with our heart in our collective throats with every page turned.
We are also treated to very heart-melting plot twists involving Tyler, designed to make not loving him impossible.

This is an excellent first book.  A joy to read and a must for every YA book pile.

Be sure to continue your journey into the unexplained with The Replaced.

About Kimberly...
Kimberly Derting
Kimberly is the author of the BODY FINDER series (HarperCollins), THE PLEDGE trilogy (Simon & Schuster), and THE TAKING trilogy (HarperTeen). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, the ideal place to write anything dark or creepy...a gloomy day can set the perfect mood. She lives with her husband and their three beautiful (and often mouthy) children who provide an endless source of inspiration.

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"Waistcoats & Weaponry" Secrets...Subterfuge...and Substance! Oh My!

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School, #3)Title:  Waistcoats & Weaponry
(Finishing School:  Book The Third)
Author:  Gail Carriger
Length:  304 pages
Publication Date:  November 4th, 2014
Publisher:  Little Brown BFYR
Ratings:  5 Stars
Sophronia continues second year finishing school in style -- with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown. She, best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and charming Lord Felix Mersey stow away on train to return classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspects what or who would be aboard the suspiciously empty train.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
After two years of growing Sophronia up enough to have her books tackle some really great plot driving issues.  This reviewer is over the moon to report that the time for a truly great Finishing School story has arrived.

With professor Braithwope a little more than slightly off his beam, and trouble afoot in the clan of Kingair.
Sophronia and her band soon find themselves on yet another mayhem filled quest.  This time the mission being to see Sidheag safely to Scotland and somehow manage to pop back in at school before they have been missed.

Things are very interesting from the very start with this one.  Sophronia has to save herself when a 'not all there' Braithwope literally leaves her hanging, and she is having more than a little trouble navigating the ever-treacherous road of like and more than like...in the boy department. (See triangle of Felix Mersey vs. Soap)
Don't worry though.
The action that you love so much far outweighs the angst; so though the 'oh no what to do' factor is there...it is well balanced by other aspects within the plot.

Soap, makes a very engaging and controversial leading man this time around.  His joining of Sophronia and the gang as they leave the airship, brings about a whole new set of thought provoking issues for himself and his friends.
Because Soap is black and a "sootie", Sopronia along with the reader is taken out of her comfort zone and made to experience the injustices of racism and classism in a much harsher and more habitual fashion.
It is because of her feelings for Soap, and her understanding of what it truly means to walk in his shoes, that we finally see Sophronia do the 'growing up' that has been so long in coming.  Giving her the emotional depth that works to transform her into the true heroine that readers come to know and adore by book's end.

As for the adventure, it's in there!  This one a all about a train, Picklemen, automatons gone wild, plots, plots, plots, and of course werewolves!
The action found here is first rate, and sure to put your heart in your throat on more than one occasion.
The real gem of this story has to be it's bitter sweet and very dramatic ending.  Here is where we say goodbye to some of the more interesting members of the cast, and hello to wondering what magic our beloved Miss Carriger will weave for book 4.

Reviewer's Note:  I would be remiss if I did not add that I read and thoroughly enjoyed this book on audio as will as in written form.  
Moira Quirk provides a wonderful narration that draws the listener in, and makes one want to hear what comes next.
She truly made the read come alive for me.  So much so in fact, that I must admit to  preferring  the audio version to the written.

About Gail

Gail Carriger Ms. Carriger writes steampunk urbane fantasy comedies of manners to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. She then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by a harem of shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London and cats that pee into toilets. Her books are all New York Times Bestsellers.
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GR:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2891665.Gail_Carriger