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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review, Interview, Giveaway: Into The Dark by Stacy Green

Title: Into The Dark
Author: Stacy Green
Publication: October 29, 2012
Publisher: Muse It Up Publishing
Source: Author/Publisher
Genre: Suspense
Audience: 17 and up

A two-hundred-mile labyrinth of dark storm drains serves as a refuge for the delusional stalker who will go to any lengths to possess fragile, emotionally isolated Emilie Davis. To survive, Emilie will have to confront the secrets of her past she has kept locked away from everyone, including herself. Emilie is a master escape artist—she’s fled a manipulative mother and a controlling ex-husband. But it’s impossible to evade a stalker who uses a bank robbery as a ruse to kidnap her. He’s still out there, hiding in the Las Vegas tunnels and dodging police. Emilie’s life careens out of control as her assailant continues his pursuit. She has nowhere to turn but to Nathan Madigan, the hostage negotiator who worked the robbery. Nathan is haunted by his failure to protect a loved one fourteen years ago and dedicates his life to saving others. Determined to catch the lunatic hunting Emilie, he finds himself losing his professional detachment. He fears history is about to repeat itself if he cannot protect Emilie from the Taker’s obsession.

The police close in on the Taker’s identity as Nathan and Emilie grow closer to each other and to resolving the misery of their own pasts. At the height of The Taker’s madness, his attempt to replace someone he’s lost will either kill them all or set them free.

My Thoughts: Emilie is a woman of many secrets. She keeps her walls up and feels no one knows her deepest and darkest. That is until the bank, where she is manager, is robbed and she is held hostage. The "Taker" knows so much about Emilie and she is puzzled as to why. Emilie must face her past and figure out who the "Taker" is so he can be stopped before she is harmed. 

Stacy Green has constructed a tale of suspense and mystery. I had many ideas as to how Emilie and the "Taker" had crossed paths but none of my hunches were correct. I found myself pleasantly surprised with Emilie's strength with all she has been through in life it would be easy for her to completely fall apart. This is a thrilling read that will not leave you disappointed. 

Ashna: What about Into the Dark makes it stand out?

Stacy Green: Into The Dark stands out because of the Las Vegas storm drains. A lot of people don’t know about their existence, and they certainly don’t know about the homeless living in them. While they don’t get a lot of scene time, they still played a pivotal role in the book. They inspired the subplot and helped me to flesh out the characters and the theme. And I hope the book brings a little bit of awareness to the homeless problem in this country.

A: Who was the hardest character for you to write about?

SG: I’d have to say my heroine, Emilie. She was hard for me to get a handle on for a long time. I kept confusing strength for anger and all out crabbiness, and it wasn’t until I understood the difference that I was able to go back to the beginning and get her straightened out. Characters – especially females – can be strong AND vulnerable, without being mean or cruel.

A: What is the best part about being published? 

SG: The validation that someone believes in me and is willing to invest in me. I’m all for indie publishing – I think it’s the future of publishing, to be honest. But small presses are vital and willing to take a chance on new authors. MuseItUp Publishing is a quality publisher who believed in my book and stood by me through a lot of ups and downs. Right or wrong, their investment made me feel as though I’d “made” it.

A: Who is your favorite author and what about their work draws you in?

SG: It’s really hard for me to pick one. I would have to say Lisa Gardner because her writing/storytelling improves with leaps and bounds, and she is a master at suspense. She’s very good at developing strong characters without dumping backstory, and there is no one better to keep a reader on the edge of their seat. I study her books quite a lot.

A: Are there any similarities between you and your characters?

SG: I think there are always similarities. Subtle ones, at that. Emilie is stubborn and can be sarcastic–she definitely gets that from me. And both Emilie and Nathan dwell in the past, which is a major Achilles Heel for me. I’m working on it, though!

A: What is your favorite quote?

SG: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

A: What is your favorite song of all time?

SG: No way can I pick a favorite song, lol. I’m an eighties junkie, so I’d have to include Total Eclipse of the Heart. Another great one is 100 Years by Train, although it always makes me cry. Crazy Love by Steve Carlson, I Dreamed A Dream from Les Mis…

A: Are there any new projects in the works?

SG: Yes! My second book, a gritty mystery set in the Deep South, is slated for a March 2013 release, and I’m working on a trilogy centered on the idea of whether or not people are born evil. I hope to release the first book late next year.

1            A: What is the question that you wish interviewers would ask, and the answer to that question?

      SG: Why should a reader spend their money and take a chance on your book?
            Because it’s an entertaining book with a fast plot and good characters. I’m a very picky reader, and if a book bores me, I’ll put it down without second thought. INTO THE DARK is a book that would keep me entertained and guessing until the end, and as a reader, that’s the most important thing for me. 

Nathan peered through the chain link fence. “Is that it?”

 “I didn’t even know this culvert was here.” Chris started to climb.

 “I drive over it every day, too.”

“That’s why they call them box culverts,” Johnson said from the other side of the fence. “You don’t see them unless you’re walking inside.” “Why couldn’t we just cut this thing down?” Nathan huffed as he made the short trip up and over the wobbly chain link barrier. They were several blocks north of the raucous Freemont Street Experience and looking into the mouth of one of the storm drain entrances.

“Because no one in Metro wants to deal with the city officials over it,” Johnson said.

“Talk about spook central.” Nathan shined his light toward the culvert. Bathed in shadows, it stood silent and empty. A chill of foreboding washed over him. “Watch yourselves.” Johnson led the way as the three men entered the culvert, weapons ready. “Anything could be lurking.”

Standing water covered the toes of Nathan’s boots. The air was thick with mildew. “Drain’s over there.” He shined his tactical light on the flood map. “To the right.”

The temperature dropped as they entered the large drain. Darkness engulfed them.

Chris’s whistle cut through the eerie stillness. “Wow. It’s a hell of a lot cooler in here. Place smells like feet, but I’ll take what I can get.”

Nathan shined his light on the walls. Colorful graffiti decorated the concrete.

“Someone’s a talented artist.”

The darkness thickened with each step. The odor grew increasingly foul. “Jesus, I can taste the stench in my mouth.” Chris gagged and spit into the dirty water.

Nathan didn’t respond. He was too busy trying to keep the contents of his stomach down and wondering how the people who lived in the tunnels stood the smell and the constant dangers. The drains provided relief from the sweltering desert heat, and free housing, but they were death traps. Large portions ran directly underneath the city streets and inhabitants risked carbon monoxide poisoning and the frequent threat of flooding. Growing up poor in North Las Vegas gave him a better perspective than many, but he couldn’t imagine having no other alternative than to live minute-by-minute.

“We shouldn’t run into any camps,” Johnson said. “They’re deeper in. One of the biggest is right under the Strip.”

“You know we aren’t going to find shit,” Chris choked out. “It’s too dark. Guy planned this for months. He knows his way around. We need to get out of here and check on Adam.”

“Medic called me when they got him to the hospital,” Johnson said. “He’s going into surgery. All we’d be doing right now is sitting around waiting. Still have to do our jobs, Holt.”

“He’s just a rookie. I should have been in front of him.”

“Stop,” Nathan said. “You followed protocol. That was a lucky shot.”

“Doesn’t make it right.”

Silence fell over the men as they moved farther into the stinking drain. Something hard crunched underneath Nathan’s boots. He nervously shined his light into the black water. Crawfish swam around his feet, probably on their way to the Las Vegas Wash. A mushy white glob looking suspiciously like used toilet paper floated by, and he focused his light away from the stream. Better not to know what he was stepping on.

A loud splash ahead brought all three to a halt.

“You hear that?” Johnson asked.

“Sounds big.” Chris stepped in front of Johnson and raised his Glock.

“Las Vegas SWAT,” Johnson shouted. “Identify yourself.”


“Maybe it was an animal,” Nathan said.

“That’s even worse than a junkie,” Chris said. “With my luck, Cujo’s man-eating cousin will show up and give me rabies.”

“They have shots for that now.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

A second loud splash was followed by the distinct sound of footsteps plodding through the water.

“That’s no dog.” Chris sprinted after the runner with Nathan and Johnson closely following. The beams of their lights flashed haphazardly against the walls making the tunnel even more ominous.

A strange brightness glowed several yards ahead of them. Their quarry came into view. He was too short and stocky to be their man, but he could have information.

Author Bio: 
Raised in southeastern Iowa, Stacy Green grew up watching crime shows with her parents, so her love of suspense and psychological thrillers is no surprise. She’s fascinated by the workings of the criminal mind and explores true crime on her popular Thriller Thursday posts at her blog, Turning the Page.

After earning her degree in journalism, Stacy worked in advertising before becoming a
stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. She rediscovered her love of writing and wrote several articles for a city magazine before penning her first novel. She shelved the long drama and began working on a suspense book set in Las Vegas, featuring a heroine on the edge of disaster, a tormented villain, and the city’s infamous storm drains that house hundreds of homeless.

Into The Dark is suspense with a dash of romance, and Stacy is hard at work on her next book, a darker, grittier thriller set in the Deep South.
When she’s not writing, she spends all her time with her precocious daughter, supportive husband, and their three obnoxious but lovable canine children.

This giveaway is for an e-book copy of Into The Dark. Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win. Take a look at what other reviewers are saying about Into The Dark!! Several are hosting a giveaway as well.

*This Book was provided by the author and/or publisher for Partners In Crimes Tours in exchange for an honest review*

Printed Books Giveaway Hop

Ebooks are great but the printed page is always my first choice. Many of you will agree with me. You can enter to win any book up to $15 US. This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only. Enter our other giveaways and hop on to the next stop. 
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Catwoman Volume 1:The Game (New 52)

Author: Judd Winick

Illustrator: Guillem March
Title: Catwoman Volume 1: The Game (New 52)
Publication: May 22, 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic Book, Villains 
Pages: 144
Audience: 17 and up
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Purchased

 Favorite quote: "Life isn't without risk.You hear that bon mot a lot. But mostly around business. Or dating. Or eating friend food from street vendors. But we take risks all the time, every day, in a thousand ways. Driving a cat. Talking to a stranger. Jay-walking. Those are the little ones that we don't even think about."- Selina Kyle

Synopsis (from the cover):
The at came back. Under the dark mask of night, the cat is out on the prowl...What's she looking for? Sometimes it's dazzling jewels and priceless artwork. Sometimes it's a kiss with a caped crusader. But nearly every time, it's trouble. She's a thief who steals for the thrill and a lover who lives for the chase. But lately Catwoman has been stealing from the wrong people. And when they come after her? Even nine lives might not be enough to save her skin.

My thoughts:
Another cat book- I know. I'll also admit that I wasn't a huge fan of Selina Kyle. I thought- eh, she steals stuff and loves Batman- who cares? After reading the Gotham City Sirens I grew to like Selina and decided to give the New 52 Catwoman graphic novels a chance. I'm really glad I did. The Game starts over and allows you to get to know Selina as a person, not just Catwoman. There is once again, tons of gore, violence, and sex. After all, Batman is a hunky man. I think the artwork is beautiful, and the gorey parts were a bit too detailed. I think the sex scene was drawn grotesquely and incorrectly (I won't go into why that is...just read it and see for yourself). However, I'm not reading this for any other reason than reading pleasure, and if the artists want to be over the top- okay. Other than that, the novel is very interesting. The writers did a great job with the New 52 of this graphic novel. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Blast and Giveaway: Jack Templar by Jeff Gunhus

Jack Templar: Monster Hunter

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack's fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it's great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend "T-Rex" from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he's the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he's destined to be in the family business. Second, that there's a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits...until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren't enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the "One?" Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.

Author Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.

Kirkus Reviews

"Gunhus brings young readers a monster-filled romp to read at their own risk. In the first few pages, Jack, the storyteller and main character, warns readers not to read about these real-world monsters that would seem to only exist in fiction. The tone is set--sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and likable; rooting for Jack is easy...Gunhus masterfully introduces fully realized characters with whom readers can connect almost instantly. The pacing is quick but not rushed, and events seamlessly progress, complete with action, cliff-hangers and surprise reveals. "

Amazon Reviews

Watch out Percy Jackson here comes Jack Templar
Move over Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, there's a new kid in town - Jack Templar, and he will take you on a wonderful adventure of good vs evil, with friends and enemies at every turn. The twists and turns keep the reader on a roller coaster of entertainment in the way of JK Rowling and Rick Riordan. ~ Penny Brein

Fast paced adventure through and through
Written for middle school aged students, this book is action-packed from the beginning and will hold the attention of young readers. Not only that, as an adult reader, it was hard to put down, so parents will enjoy it as an easy read. ~ bluejellybean

Kids will love it!
Not only will kids love it, adults will too! I don't want to give the plot away but this is a book worth reading. This book is creatively written drawing in the reader to be a participant in the story. There is lots of action with enough blood and guts to be interesting without being gross. Girls will like it too with the strong female role models and the hint of romance. Even though this is a children's book, I couldn't put it down. I will definitely be adding this to my classroom library. I am looking forward to reading the book in this series and sharing it with my students. Awesome book! ~ pixiep


Book Trailer


Yeah, you read it right. I’m a monster hunter. Back before I actually became one, I would have thought that sounded totally awesome. And don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways it is. But most of the time, I’m either running for my life or hiding in the shadows, praying the monster chasing me doesn’t pick up my scent. And I’m almost always scared to death. In a few pages, I think you’ll see why.
     But there are a few things I need to warn you about before I tell you my story.
     First, this isn’t a cartoon. These are bloodthirsty creatures who will stop at nothing to kill. They are scary. Very scary. Second, the only way to stop them is to kill them first…and that gets gross and messy. Third, this is all real.
     You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I can almost see you smirking as you read this. But this isn’t a joke. Monsters are real and the story I’m about to tell you really happened. If you’d rather walk through life believing that monsters are only found in books or on the movie screen, then you should shut this book right now and go do something else.
     I give you these warnings because the story I’m about to tell you isn’t for everyone. Not everyone can handle it. The blood. The gore. The monsters.
     This life was thrust onto me. I had no choice but to take up a sword and fight. But you can still walk away and pretend this dark world doesn’t exist. Or you can walk through the door that I’m about to open and find out the truth about the world around you.
     But I warn you (and this is a big warning), if you read this book, if you learn about the monsters that roam among us and the hunters who fight them, if you decide to learn the truth, then you will become fair game for the monsters to chase.
     Make sure you understand what I’m saying.
     If you read this book, you will be part of this world and the monsters will come after you too. You will start to see things that no other humans can see. The shadows will move when you walk near them. The creatures of the night will seek you out, testing the doors and windows of your house, looking for a way in.
     And, at some point, they will find you, just like they found me, and you will be forced to defend yourself.
     So, think carefully before you turn the page, because once you do, there’s no turning back.
     Once a monster hunter, always a monster hunter.
     See you on the other side.
     If you’re brave enough.

Tour Schedule

Book Blast $50 Giveaway
Ends 2/15/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: What We Saw by Ryan Casey

Title: What We Saw
Author: Ryan Casey
Publication: November 26, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Author/Publisher
Genre: Mystery/Coming of Age
Audience: 15 and up
Rating: 3 of 5 

Amazon|Goodreads|Ryan Casey


If you stumbled upon a shocking mystery as a child, how would you react?

What We Saw tells the story of a young boy, Liam O'Donnell, his cousin, Adam, and their experiences at their grandparents' caravan site one summer. When the disappearance of their dog leads to a terrifying discovery deep in the nearby woods, Liam and Adam are plunged into a very adult world of morals and decisions, and find themselves trapped in the dark clutches of secrecy and suspicion, far transcending mere mystery.

What We Saw is a touching and thrilling British mystery novel that will have you hooked as the plot hurtles towards a shocking conclusion.

My Thoughts: Adam and Liam are spending the summer with their grandparents. They are both facing difficult family struggles. Adam and Liam think of themselves as detectives and spend much of their time solving mysteries. This inquisitiveness leads to a shocking discovery. Adam and Liam are determined to solve the shocking mystery on their own. Will their secrecy lead them to solving this mystery or down a disastrous end?

This story began slowly for me but it gradually increased momentum as the suspense was building. The boys have to grow up quickly and make adult decisions. It was difficult to know who to trust as it seemed everyone had a secret to keep. Casey weaves an elaborate tale that builds the relationship between Adam and Liam while allowing them to grow and come to terms with their situations. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Senshi Trailer Reveal


Kill Bill meets Buffy in this supernatural samurai taleRileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline gave her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn't explain her dreams of fifteenth century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings. While worrying that she's going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she's harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.

Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana--a deadly Japanese sword that's also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she's always been and embracing the warrior inside her.

"This action-packed novel has a unique and compelling plot...Fans of Carrie Asai's Samurai Girl series will be particularly interested, but even readers who dislike supernatural story lines will enjoy this tale of modern samurais."
~School Library Journal~

"An action packed page-turner tempered with slow-burning romance."



Is Rileigh’s only hope for salvation to team up with her sworn enemy?

Rileigh Martin just wants to do normal teenage things, like go on romantic dates with Kim, her boyfriend and past life soul mate. Although that seems impossible when she’s the reincarnation of Senshi, a fifteenth century samurai warrior. After a ninja ambush leaves her unable to control her ki powers, Rileigh vows to get them under control before her friends lose more than their eyebrows. But when Kim leaves her for his past life betrothed and the other samurai stop talking to her, Rileigh realizes she doesn’t have any friends left to worry about.

As the ninja attacks increase, Rileigh learns that the reincarnated kunoichi, a powerful female ninja, wants to kill her in order to reclaim her destructive powers. Alone and with increasingly unstable powers, Rileigh’s only offer of help comes from Whitley, her sworn past life enemy. Rileigh knows she doesn’t stand a chance against the kunoichi by herself, but Whitley’s sudden allegiance might be hiding a much deadlier agenda.


Author Cole Gibsen

When Cole Gibsen isn't writing books for young adults, she can be found rocking out with her band, sewing crazy costumes for the fun of it, picking off her nail polish, or drinking milk straight from the jug -- provided no one is looking.

Trailer Reveal

Senshi Book Trailer from ZFilm on Vimeo.

Giveaway Details

ARC of Senshi + Signed Katana
Signed Katana
3 Mystery Books
Open to US, Canada & Mexico
Ends 2/6/13

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Birds of Prey Volume 1: Trouble in Mind (New 52)

Author: Duane Swierczynski

Illustrator: Jesus Saiz
Title: Birds of Prey Volume 1: Trouble in Mind
Publication: September 18, 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic Book, Villains 
Pages: 160
Audience: 17 and up
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Purchased

Synopsis (from the cover ):

The sirens of the night. One is wanted for a murder. The other is on the run for knowing too much. Together, Black Canary and Starling work in Gotham City, taking down the villains other heroes can't touch. But now, as a grizzled newspaper reporter threatens to expose them, the two get sucked into a nightmare involving stolen pharmaceuticals, terrorists for hire, and killers in stealth suits who can appear-and disappear- at will. Realizing that Gotham City's citizens are in grave danger, Black Canary recruits Katana, a vengeful samurai and the notorious bio terrorist Poison Ivy. Will the Birds of Prey be able to work together to save Gotham?
My thoughts:
I have read a few Birds of Prey graphic novels before the New 52 rolled out and wasn't impressed. It could have been the fact that there was so much back story that I was totally lost. For Trouble in Mind, you don't have to know an awful lot about Black Canary or Starling or Katana. I feel the New 52 is a bit more graphic...and there is a lot, a lot of gore and violence in this graphic novel. I'm also not a fan of the New 52 outfits. I hate them. Poison Ivy looks stupid. I know this will sound anti-feminist, but I liked her ivy leotard...I'm not sure what this solar panel/ivy/green body suit is, but I'm not a fan. (I won't even go on my rant about Harley Quinn's new attire).  
As from the title of this trade paperback, Trouble in Mind, it gets pretty crazy trying to keep up with everything. Towards the end of the book I was having to flip back to the page I previously read because I thought I might have skipped over something. It messes with your mind a bit...especially if it is 1 AM and you have been battling a sinus infection. However, if you are new to comics or want to start on something new. DC's New 52 is the perfect place to start. For a new beginning, it was a great start because now I'm a fan of the Birds of Prey.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Leaves by Michael Baron

Title: Leaves
Author: Michael Baron
Publication: September 25, 2012
Publisher: The Story Plant
Source: Author/Publisher
Genre: Fiction
Audience: 17 and up

Welcome to Oldham, CT, a small town rich in Colonial heritage while being utterly contemporary. Situated along the Connecticut River Valley, Oldham bursts with color every fall, as the leaves on its trees evolve into an unmatched palette of scarlet, orange, purple, yellow, and bronze. For more than three decades, the Gold family has been a central part of Oldham in the fall, its Sugar Maple Inn a destination for “leaf-peepers” from all over the country, and its annual Halloween party a stirring way to punctuate the town’s most active month.

But this year, more than just the leaves are changing. With the death of their parents, the Gold siblings, Maria, Maxwell, Deborah, Corrina, and Tyler, have decided to sell the Sugar Maple Inn, and this year’s Halloween party will be the last. As October begins, the Golds contend with the finality that faces them, and the implications it has for a family that has always been so close. For some, it means embracing new challenges and new love. For others, it means taking on unimagined roles. And for others, it means considering the inconceivable. Complicating it all is a series of “hauntings” that touch each of the Gold siblings, a series of benign interventions that will remain a mystery until October draws to a close.

Filled with romance, tension, and unforgettable family drama, LEAVES is the first in a series of novels about a world and a family that readers will want to make their own.

My Thoughts: Leaves is about a family coming to terms with endings and new beginnings. They have lost their parents and have decided to sell the family Inn. There are many emotions as the five Gold siblings prepare for their final Halloween party. Each Gold is faced with making decisions for their future and facing the memories from their pasts. 

This is a splendid read. I was emotional at times but I managed to hold back the tears. Constantly during my reading I was thinking of how my family would handle being in the Gold's shoes. It probably would have led to lots of screaming and and possibly some bloodshed. The Gold's manage to remain tight knit during this difficult time. I'm looking forward to seeing where the Gold sibling go from here. 

The River Edge Café had been open for business since the late ‘90s, when a husband-and-wife team made a killing during the tech stock boom and decided to “chuck it all” and follow their passion for fine food. Located on the water between Oldham and Essex, it was popular for its ambitious menu, its beautiful setting, and its attentive staff. However, it had recently lost two executive chefs in quick succession, leading to rumors that the owners were impossible taskmasters and maybe even a little abusive. Deborah didn’t necessarily believe these unfounded stories, but they made her wary through the entire interview process, and even now, in her third meeting with the couple, she wondered if there was something less than genuine behind Carla Bonner’s ubiquitous smile or Vince Travers’s persistence.

“We want you here, Deb,” Vince said. People didn’t really call her “Deb,” but Vince seemed to insist on it. He had been doing so since they first met half a decade ago. “There are maybe two dishes on the menu we think we need to keep. The entire rest of the menu would be yours.”

“It would be like having your own restaurant without the hassle of ownership,” Carla said. Deborah had been in precisely that situation her entire adult life, so she wasn’t sure why Carla thought this was a selling point.

“I’m completely willing to wait until the middle of November if you want to take a couple of weeks off between jobs,” Vince said. “Trina’s an excellent sous chef and she’s doing a great job of holding the fort for us. To be honest, if we weren’t so intent on recruiting you, we’d give her the job right now.”

“That’s very flattering,” Deborah said, wondering how resentful Trina would be of her if she decided to take the position.

This wasn’t the first offer Deborah had received, though it was certainly the most aggressive. She got a couple of calls as soon as word got out about the sale of the Inn. The people buying the Sugar Maple even made her an extremely attractive offer to stay precisely where she was. She never seriously considered it, though. It was hard enough cooking there now that both of her parents were gone. It would be impossible to take direction there from someone else and even harder to watch the inevitable changes they made. Deborah imagined herself collapsing into tears the first time they replaced a table lamp. She was convinced that when she walked out of the Inn at the end of the Halloween party she would never again set foot in the place just so she could remember it forever the way she wanted.

None of the offers she’d received so far had seemed very appealing. She knew that she was running the risk of seeming like a prima donna and she also knew that she should be eternally grateful for the attention, but she couldn’t allow herself to take a position unless it sang out to her. She even considered trying to find a job in a diner or a coffee shop somewhere – something completely one-dimensional with little or no room for personal investment – just to recalibrate. But of course that was ridiculous. How long could she flip burgers before she started slipping exotic ingredients into the ground beef? She had enough money saved to get by for about six months, and if it took that long to find the right spot, that was fine with her.

“I’m not trying to flatter you,” Vince said. “I’m trying to employ you. Your customers will flatter you every time the waitstaff delivers one of your inventions.”

Deborah smiled. The “Deb” thing aside, she’d always liked Vince and she wished the rumors weren’t causing her to question his sincerity. That was the pernicious thing about rumors.

“The package you’re offering is great,” she said, nodding to both Vince and Carla. “I’ve always been fond of this restaurant, and you have a great kitchen. I just need a couple of days.”

“Of course,” Carla said. “Take as long as you must.”

Vince patted her hand. “We’re here for you, Deb. Call me anytime if you have questions. I gave you our home number, right?”

“You did, yes. I just want to take a little longer to think. I’ll call you on Monday.”

Deborah stood and shook their hands. The fact was, she already made her decision, but it didn’t seem polite to turn them down flat. The River Edge Café was a fine restaurant and it did have a sensational kitchen. The more time she spent there, though, she realized there wasn’t anything about this place that felt like home.

She drove through downtown Oldham on the way back to the inn. Waiting for a couple of pedestrians to cross Hickory, she noticed the sign for Sage, the gourmet shop that had opened a couple of weeks earlier. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t visited it yet. When a car pulled out of the parking space across from the store, she decided the time was right.

The store was in a moderately large space between a music store and a bookstore. Deborah had a hard time remembering what was in the space before (there had been several shops there over the past few years), but the new owner had done a great job of remodeling it. Lots of blond wood fixtures, warm lighting, and handwritten signage. There was a refrigerator case housing artisanal cheeses and sausages in understated, small-production packages.

Deborah liked being here immediately. Maybe it was the slack-key guitar music coming from the sound system or that one of the front tables was dedicated to the small Tuscan pasta manufacturer she “discovered” a couple of years ago and had used exclusively at the inn ever since. Deborah knew this would be a place she’d visit often. She’d been to all the gourmet shops in the area, and was frustrated by the sameness of them. It was almost as though some food rep came along and set each one up based on some model. This place had a decidedly individual point of view, though. The shelf of spices was an asymmetrical jumble of bottles and tins of different sizes. Next to it was a card that read,

“This might not be the prettiest display of spices you’ve ever seen, but it’s hopefully the best. I’ve compared everything on this shelf to the competition and only carry the ones I love the most.”

Deborah agreed about the mustard seed, the ground coriander, and the smoked paprika, but she would have chosen a different Telicherry peppercorn.

A man walked up to her while she was standing at the display. “Find anything you like?”

She turned to look at him. He was a little over six feet and lean. And he had very expressive eyes. “Krendahl has better peppercorns,” she said.

“You’re right, but they only sell from their catalog. I tried, believe me. They also import this fabulous five spice powder, but again, I couldn’t get it. Think I should change the card in the spirit of full disclosure?”

Deborah laughed. “Your secret is safe with me. You’re the owner?”

He extended his hand and Deborah took it. “Sage Mixon.”

“Deborah Gold. So the store is named after you and not after” – she reached for a bottle – “Brookfield’s hand-rubbed Albanian.”

He smiled. “You obviously know your spices. Are you in the food business?”

“I’m the chef at the Sugar Maple Inn – at least I am until the end of the month.”

“Moving on to bigger and better things?”

Deborah rolled her eyes. “That part isn’t at all certain at the moment.” She turned toward another display. “I’ve never seen these preserves before.”

“They’re incredible. They’re all made by a single dad out of a barn in New Hampshire. He sweetens them with a ‘proprietary blend’ of fruit juices and balances each with some kind of spice or infusion. The lemon marmalade is mind-boggling.” He picked up a jar and handed it to her. “He adds a touch of Thai basil. It’s amazing what happens.”

Deborah examined the jar in her hand. If nothing else, Sage was an excellent salesman. Of course she would buy this. Before she did, though, she spent another half hour in the store walking from display to display. Sage stayed with her when he wasn’t helping other customers, and it became obvious that there was a story behind everything he carried. She hoped the visitors who flitted in and out appreciated the thought that went into this. More importantly, she hoped that – appreciative or not – the visitors were plentiful. Oldham needed more stores like this one.

By the time she’d finished shopping, Deborah had the marmalade, a salsa from Nogales, a bottle of raspberry thyme vinegar made a half hour away, and a package of stroopwafels made in Montana, of all places. She didn’t need any of it. She certainly had access to just about everything she wanted from the network of suppliers she’d developed over the years. But it was fun buying here and she definitely wanted to support the place.

“Come again soon,” Sage said as he packaged her purchases.

“I will. Definitely. Hey, come by the Inn for dinner sometime in the next month.”

“I might just do that. I mean if you know this much about food, you might actually be able to cook.”

Deborah laughed. “Yeah, it’s a possibility.”

He smiled and his eyes danced. Deborah would definitely be back soon.

Author Bio:
I grew up in the New York area and I’ve lived there my entire life. I worked in retail and taught high school English before I got my first book contract. I have gotten several additional book contracts since then, which is fortunate because I didn’t have the patience to work in retail and, while I quite enjoyed teaching, my approach was a bit too unconventional for most school systems. One school administrator told me that, “there are more important things than being a dynamic teacher.” Since I couldn’t name any of those things (at least in the context of school), I figured I didn’t have a long-term future in the profession. Hence, I became a writer, where I believe people appreciate a certain level of dynamism.

Though I started with nonfiction, I have always loved fiction and I have always wanted to write it. Since I can remember, I've had a particular affection for love stories. In fact, the very first book-length thing I ever wrote, when I was thirteen, was a love story. Mind you, it was the kind of love story that a thirteen-year-old boy would write, but it was a love story nonetheless. I have a deep passion for writing about relationships – family relationships, working relationships, friendships, and, of course, romantic relationships – and I can only truly explore this by writing fiction. These novels have given me a way to voice the millions of things running through my head.

My wife and kids are the center of my life. My wife is the inspiration for all of my love stories and my children enthrall me, challenge me, and keep me moving (and have served as the inspiration for several of the kids I've written about). One of the primary reasons I wrote my first novel, WHEN YOU WENT AWAY was that I wanted to write about being a father. Aside from my family, I have a few other burning passions. I’m a pop culture junkie with an especially strong interest in music, I love fine food (as well as any restaurant shaped like a hot dog), and I read far too many sports blogs for my own good.

*This Book was provided by the author and/or publisher for Providence Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review*

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oracle: The Cure

Author: Kevin VanHook

Illustrator: Tony Bedard, Claude St. Aubin, Julian Lopez, Fernando Pasarin
Title: Oracle: The Cure
Publication: April 6, 2010
Publisher: DC Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic Book, Villains 
Pages: 128
Audience: 17 and up
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Purchased

Favorite quote: "Why are people always so frightened of technology? It's never the computer, or the transit system, or the x-ray machine that does you wrong. It's the mind that guides it. The most advanced weapons system on earth is harmless in the hands of an idiot...while in the hands of a genius, a simple lever can move the world."

Another favorite quote: "But I do have a super-power: Information. I'm better at gathering and using it than anyone on earth. In an information society, I bank the coin of the realm." 

Synopsis (from the cover ): After disbandng the Birds of Prey, Barbara Gordon--the first Batgirl, before a vicious attack by the Joker paralyzed her for life- returns to Gotham City and her reclusive life as Oracle. As the premier source of superhero intelligence, she spot trouble as it strikes around the world, but this time it hits too close to home... With genius to rival Oracle's the Calculator has grown to become of her greatest enemies. Now he's hijacked the Internet and an entire virtual world in his desperate pursuit of the devastating Anti-Life Equation. Without a network of allies to rely on, Oracle stands alone against this brilliant enemy. If she can get her hands on the remnants of the Anti-Life Equation first. she could save millions and possibly even heal her broken body. But is the cure worse than the disease?

My thoughts:
This graphic novel is not from the New 52 launch. I'm just very fond of Barbara Gordon over the fact that she was a librarian and Batgirl. After becoming paralyzed thanks to the Joker, she becomes the Oracle who provides intelligence to all superheros. This graphic novel was interesting as it involves technology and alien technology. I felt the alien technology was not fully explained. This could be due to the fact that I'm not a tech-savvy in the least. Either way, it is alien technology and it doesn't need to be explained. he reader gets to know Barbara as a victim and you see how she is and is not coping with her new lifestyle. It is a great read. The art is beautiful. It seems every image has almost shiny, and it is not from the glossy paper. The art work is a bit different, but it works. There is some gore and violence, but nothing too terribly bad.  After reading this graphic novel, I would love to read the one that comes after this due to the ending, but older and more obscure graphic novels are harder to find.