Looking for Alaska by John Green #review

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Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

This book had tons of hype around it and while I didn’t love it quite like some, its a great read with coming of age insight that John Green somehow understands better than those who live those impossible teen years. Miles is a kid who goes to boarding school, while there he makes friends that turn his life upside down and open his eyes to life and possibility. While there he meets Alaska a girl who makes his head spin and will change him. Before and after. I can’t say what the marker is that changes it all but its not something I saw coming and the things I suspected were stupidly superficial. Sorry John, I should have known better. Miles is a nice kid and seeing those changes and moments within him makes me wish kids would take notice and appreciate the things in front of them while its there. I guess that is youth for you. You don’t appreciate till after the fact. A must John Green read.

 

 

The Martian by Andy Weir #review

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I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth.

I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m screwed.

I loved this story. Stranded on Mars and astronaut Mark Watney has the most entertaining journal entries ever. The science may be good bad accurate I don’t know and won’t pretend to know. The character of Mark Watney however is brilliant. Told from his point of view via journal entries and rarely that of Nasa I can’t describe how much of a fan girl of Andy Weir I’ve become. His writing is great, characters also. Funny and witty, he’s a great guy and with McGyver like fix it skills we or at least I became absorbed in Marks journey to survive. I can’t recommend this sci-fi adventure thriller enough.

Seasons of the Fool by Lynne Cantwell Kindlescout nominee

Season of the Fool is Lynne Cantwell’s latest book which is part of this month’s round on kindlescout. Today’s post is a last push to get the word out and also to share her thank you giveaway with all her readers and you.

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For those of you who are not aware of the kindlescout program, it is a reader-powered publishing platform for new, never-before-published books. We have the power here, because we the readers get to help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will
be published by Kindle Press.

Today I’m hosting Lynne to share an opportunity to not only help out, but get a chance to get a free book! As a way to thank EVERYONE for nominating, each book you nominate, not just this one, will be sent from kindlescout to your reader! Each book, as in can nominate up to three more books after Seasons of the Fool ;). The nominations close on the 26th so with Lady Reader’s Tours, I am helping this push to share this and get more nominations!

There are a couple ways you can help and Lynne has an EPIC cool THANK YOU GIVEAWAY for a KindleHD6 in any color you want.

You can share the post :), you can click and share this pre-made link….

Tweet: Less than a week left to nominate SEASONS of the FOOL by @LynneCantwell for #KindleScout! #amreading http://ctt.ec/94cMy+
Click to Share!

…And you can nominate Seasons of the Fool on kindlescout!

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This is also the reveal of her new cover. Let’s get it nominated!

Seasons of the Fool

By: Lynne Cantwell
Published: kindlescout Oct. 26
fantasy, magic-realism, urban-fantasy, paranormal-romance

A Fool’s journey begins with a single step…

Julia Morton Michaud has fled Chicago for her grandparents’ summer home in Michiana. She believes the cottage near Lake Michigan will be a refuge – a quiet place for her to pursue a writing career while her spirit heals from a string of failed relationships.

But her past keeps intruding. Her ex-husband, Lance, is under investigation for defrauding his wealthy investors, and the specter of having to testify at his trial hangs over her. She begins a new relationship with a man she hardly knows. And her neighbor and former lover, David Turner, is trapped in his own troubled marriage.

Julia discovers a labyrinth in the woods near her cottage. It belongs to Elsie and Thea, the elderly ladies who live at the end of the lane. Julia wants to use it for meditation, but she doesn’t know the risks. For the women have their own agenda, and it’s tied to the rug Elsie is endlessly weaving.

The truths Julia learns in the labyrinth have the potential to change all their lives – if only she will take them to heart.

- Goodreads | KindleScout -

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lynne-cantwellLynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan.
She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews.
Lynne’s vast overeducation includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a masters degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate. She is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited.
She currently lives near Washington, DC.

TWITTER | FACEBOOK | BLOG | GOODREADS | AMAZON

Excerpt-brown-
****
Across Lake Shore Drive from the beach, behind the multi-million-dollar “cottages” atop the dunes – the ones with views all the way to Chicago – the woods begin.
Old-growth oak and maple tower over the faux log cabins that nestle into the understory – dogwood, sassafras, tulip poplar, and the occasional pine. Most of the houses look vacant. School begins earlier than it used to, and the families who spent their summer days frolicking in the waves and riding bikes along the winding lanes have gone back to their workaday lives on the other side of the lake. But here and there, windows are still open to catch the warm, early September air. The cars in the driveways of most of these homes sport Indiana or Michigan plates, but some belong to the summer people for whom summer hasn’t quite yet ended.
Here’s one on a corner just a block from Lake Michigan. There’s a gray station wagon with Illinois plates parked in the concrete driveway, and a pickup truck with local plates angled in behind it. A couple of guys in t-shirts and worn jeans are erecting a sign in the front yard – “Ames Construction Co.” – while a man with thinning ginger hair signs something on a clipboard.
We turn the corner onto Nokomis Trail and pass a few more cottages, interspersed with vacant lots where wild grapevines twist around neighboring saplings. In a manicured yard that would look at home in any suburb, an elderly man pushes a lawn mower. On the street in front of his house, a wooden mallard stands guard over his mailbox and two others, its whirligig wings spinning lazily in the breeze.
Every now and then, the man pauses to wipe his forehead with a carefully-folded red bandanna; as he pauses, he shakes his head over the cottage across the way, nearly invisible behind a riot of unkempt bushes and vines.
Next to this abandoned house is a vacant lot. Next to that, at the very end of Nokomis Trail, is a tiny cottage that looks like something out of a fairy story. Garden statuary – here a frog, there a nymph on a log – nestle amidst gangly purple mums. A gnome guards the entrance to the stepping-stone walk, and several wind chimes hang from the porch eaves.
The elderly man glances toward this cottage and crosses himself surreptitiously. Then he goes back to work.
****
Inside the cottage at the end of the lane, a plump, matronly woman with a cheerful face hums as she works a loom. The frame takes up most of the living room, leaving only space enough for the fieldstone fireplace, two easy chairs, and a tiny television.
The woman pauses in her work and whistles, long and low. “Well,” she says to herself. “Isn’t that interesting.”
Just then, the back door bangs shut. The woman at the loom looks toward the kitchen, where a tall, thin woman with a narrow face has just come in. Out of habit, she ducks under the herbs hanging from the rafters as she removes her gardening gloves.
“Mind your shoes, dear,” the plump woman says. “I just swept.”
“I’m going back out,” the tall one says as she gets herself a glass of water at the sink. As she waits for the glass to fill, she says, “I saw another dragonfly. That makes seven, just this morning.”
“Was this one headed up the street, too? Toward the Morton place?”
The tall woman nods, then downs half of the water in one long drink. “Looks like things are about to change around here.”
“Yes,” the plump woman says, examining her weaving. “I see that.” She turns back to the tall woman with a sunny smile. “At last!”
****
At the same moment, thirty-five miles across the lake as the crow flies, Julia Morton Michaud sits in her lawyer’s office. Elaine’s firm is small, so their offices in Chicago’s Loop don’t command the sweeping view of the city that a larger firm would have. But as the Haddon of O’Leary and Haddon LLP, Elaine rates an office with a glimpse of the lake.
Julia attempts to maintain a professional demeanor as Elaine goes through the checklist: life insurance, health insurance, retirement accounts. The country club membership. The burial plots. All of the knotted strands that will have to be untangled before her marriage can be dissolved.
All of the legal knots, anyway. The emotional bonds frayed away long since.
“Now, the checking accounts,” Elaine says.
“Equal split,” says Julia. “Same with the savings and money market accounts. And the stocks.” She expects a fight over the stocks, but intends to stand her ground. She needs those investments to live the life she means to live. And she refuses to let Lance get away with everything.
“And the real estate?” the lawyer goes on. “I assume he’s keeping the Gold Coast condo. But you’re going to keep the house in Evanston, right?”
“No,” Julia says. “He can have that, too.”
Elaine looks at her over the top of her reading glasses. “It’s worth several million dollars, isn’t it?” At Julia’s nod, the lawyer goes on, “Well, we have some options. We can ask him to buy you out. Or we can stipulate that the house be put on the market.”
“I don’t want the money,” Julia blurts. “I don’t want any part of that house. He can have it.”
Elaine gives her a look of barely-concealed disbelief. “As your attorney,” she says, “I would strongly advise that that would be against your best interests. But as your friend….” She shakes her head. “Julia, what are you thinking? You’re entitled to half the house, as well as half the condo. And most of your wealth is tied up in your real estate holdings, unless I miss my guess. What are you going to live on, if you give everything to him? For that matter, where are you going to live?”
Julia tilts her chin up. “The house in Michiana. I’m going to live there.”
“In that derelict cottage?” Elaine’s shock is plain.
“It’s not derelict,” Julia says, defensive. “It needs some work, that’s all. And it’s quiet. It’s the perfect place for me to get my head together and do some serious writing.”
The attorney shakes her head. “So you’re really going to lock yourself away in that moldy old place. I thought you were kidding when you mentioned it at dinner last week.”
“Nope.” Julia pulls her chin up higher. “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. This is exactly what I want to do.”
The lawyer sighs. “Well, I’ll draw up the agreement with that in place and send you a draft by tomorrow morning at the latest. But I think you’re making a big mistake.”
Julia nods – in acknowledgement, not in agreement. She looks past Elaine’s shoulder and out the window, beyond the end of the concrete canyon, where a sliver of Lake Michigan is visible. The waves glitter in the harsh light of midday. It feels like a promise. Or like a release.
Silence draws her attention back to her friend. Elaine is regarding her with a wistful expression. “We’ll miss you,” she says.
Julia waves away the sentiment. “It’s not like I’m moving to the moon,” she says with a laugh. “I’ll only be sixty miles away.”
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The Echo by James Smythe #review

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The stunning sequel to James Smythe’s critically acclaimed literary sci-fi novel The Explorer.

TWENTY YEARS following the disappearance of the infamous Ishiguro – the first manned spacecraft to travel deeper into space than ever before – humanity are setting their sights on the heavens once more.

Under the direction of two of the most brilliant minds science has ever seen – that of identical twin brothers Tomas and Mirakel Hyvönen – this space craft has a bold mission: to study what is being called ‘the anomaly’ – a vast blackness of space into which the Ishiguro disappeared. Between them Tomas (on the ground, guiding the mission from the command centre) and Mira (on the ship, with the rest of the hand-picked crew) are leaving nothing to chance.

But soon these two scientists are to learn that there are some things in space beyond our understanding. As the anomaly begins to test the limits of Mira’s comprehension – and his sanity – will Tomas be able to save his brother from being lost in space too?

 

The second book in the Anomaly Quartet has me dying for the next one in the series even more than book one did. I don’t know how I could review this book without giving a lot away but then the blurb gives a lot of book one away as is. Suffice it to say this series is amazing. The writing is incredible. The story just blows your mind. The characters well any more fleshed out and they’d be standing there beside you. The constant feelings the story creates within the reader are so extreme and dramatic you will not know what to believe. What is real and what is in the characters head. Our protagonist with book two is unlike book one a person we never really care much for least I didn’t but his story, his journey had me demanding to know what happens. The writing is wonderful and the author is clearly a talented individual. I would rate this book slightly below the first in the series because I believe that book had a better ending. The mystery continues however and I wonder if we’ll ever be in the know. Terrifying as each journey is however, I want to more!

Author Loukia Borrell interview

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Welcome to Loukia Borrell, who has been on Jess resides here for her previous book Raping Aphrodite. The latest book is Delicate Secrets a prequel. Loukia on today with an interview.
When you were on the blog last, you mentioned your reading pile, what about now? What are you reading?

My reading list a couple of years ago when I was on your blog included “Suite Francaise,” by Irene Nemirovsky, “Queen” by Alex Haley and “Ripley Under Ground” by Patricia Highsmith. I did finish “Ripley Under Ground,” but put the other two aside to read the first two books of the E.L. James trilogy, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and “Fifty Shades Darker.” I got caught up in the hype but didn’t continue to the third book because I was uncomfortable with the novels. I am reading a travel book on the Greek Islands, a memoir by Gary Goldstein, “Jew in Jail,” and Sylvia Day’s, “Bared to You.” Although Day’s book is the same formula as James’ trilogy, the female lead character is on equal footing with the male and I am more comfortable with that; it’s more believable. I still hope to get to “Queen” and “Suite Francaise.”

You had mentioned then the prequel. How has the process been since then with your second book as opposed to your first?

The new book is “Delicate Secrets.” When I was here a couple of years ago, the working title was “Aphrodite Ascending,” but that changed. “Delicate Secrets” goes back to 1993 when my two lead characters from “Raping Aphrodite” first met.  So, the first book I published is actually the second book in the series, and this latest book is the first. Yet, you can read them out of order and they will make sense. I have a lot more experience with self-publishing now than I did when the first book came out in 2011. I am established on Goodreads, Linkedin and Twitter, so I can promote and have networked with other writers and bloggers who have helped promote my book. I am grateful to all of them. That is probably the biggest difference, just knowing how the process works, how to upload your book file, and get out the word.  When I wrote “Raping Aphrodite,” I contacted dozens of literary agents, trying to get representation. This time around, I didn’t do that. I just epublished and ventured on my own and with the help of supportive people like you.   

Why a prequel and how many books do you plan in the series?

I planned The Aphrodite Anthologies as a trilogy. I guess it would have been better to write the books in order of one, two and three but it didn’t form in my mind that way. From the beginning, “Delicate Secrets” explores the growing but ill-fated relationship between two people who  have chemistry but don’t know how to handle it. It isn’t just a physical thing, it is a bond they have that survives separation and silence. When we meet them again in the second book, “Raping Aphrodite,” they are married but face a new crisis that threatens their relationship. The last book will take readers forward from where the second book ends, but it won’t be ready for a while. I probably won’t start writing it until next fall, after I put out “Delicate Secrets” as a paperback and spend time promoting it.

Is there a genre completely different that you’d like to try writing one day?

I have some chapters written for a historical romance novel set in the 1800s. I started it more than 20 years ago and put it aside, but I might get back to it someday. I’ll occasionally read Avon romance novels. They are pure entertainment and because I live near historical areas like Williamsburg, Va., I like getting lost in the past, in a simpler time of sweeping plantations, elaborate gowns and living in huge homes surrounded by rolling, open country.

What have you learned most about yourself since starting book one?

I have learned that I can take an idea and turn it into something tangible. For the first book, I tried to find a literary agent and when that didn’t work, I represented myself. I am still out there, three years after self-publishing, promoting my work and still writing. I also have the opportunity to help other authors promote their work on Goodreads, Linkedin and Twitter. I have spent the past 18 years raising children and taking care of our house, and sick and elderly family members. I made a promise to myself when I became a mother and a caretaker, that I wouldn’t give up things that are important to me and that I would keep my dreams of writing alive.  I am glad I can say I have been true to those promises.

What about gaining readers, how has the experience been with gaining fans and feedback from them?

I am not a household name. I am self-published and don’t have a huge following. I have heard from some people who have read my books and they are positive. Other times, my writing usually comes up in conversations with other people who might ask, “What do you do?” When I tell them and they seem interested, it is a good feeling to be able to tell them what I am working on and how the writing process works for me. Bloggers and other authors have been very supportive, too.

Have you since gained a dedicated writing work space?

No, but I take a lot of comfort in being home. Last December, my father died and it was the worst feeling. It was right before Christmas and it helped a lot just to be home, around my belongings, with my family in a place I know. Losing a close family member is very destabilizing. I didn’t want to be out and around a lot of people, so I found peaceful areas like the sofa in my bedroom where I could watch movies, listen to music and just write. Both of my novels were written here at home.

What do you have planned for the future for readers?

I am working on the paperback for “Delicate Secrets,” to be released in the spring. After that, I plan to start writing the third book in my series. I also started writing poetry in the past year, which is a new style of writing for me, but I enjoy it.

Care to share anything else for readers? About your work, yourself etc.

I have three children, two in high school and one in middle school. I am married to their father. We have known each other a very long time and that is something I am proud of. I didn’t want to go through life alone, but I also wanted to be with the right person. We got married when I was 36. I had relationships before him, but something was always missing. I am very lucky we found our way to each other. I take long, daily walks and  I love watching movies. I am pretty quiet-living; not much for crowds or loud folks. I have a guinea pig named Plink who whistles when I am in the kitchen and I whistle back. He loves kale and Romaine lettuce. Jessica, I want to thank you for allowing me to visit your readers again. As a self-published author, having the support of other authors and bloggers makes everything worthwhile. Your readers can find me on Goodreads, Linkedin, Book Blogs and Twitter. My books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My first book, “Raping Aphrodite,” has a Facebook page, where readers can learn more about the invasion and division of Cyprus. Please visit at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Raping-Aphrodite/198813510283786