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review 2015-01-29 02:08
Thoughts: Stitching Snow
Stitching Snow - R.C. Lewis

Stitching Snow was an extremely enjoyable retelling of Snow White with some other elements tossed into it. It gave me the impression of a Star Wars-esque YA space epic and reminded me a little of Marissa Meyer's Cinder (of which I adored).

Essie is a mechanic who has her skills in computer tech and engineering. I always have a great respect for authors who create young girls with these skills. Living on the mining world of Thanda, Essie's goal is to survive life and blend in; she cannot draw attention to herself.

At least that was the plan until Dane crash-lands on her turf and changes her life. At first he seemed like a dimwitted nice guy, just hanging around while she helped him fix his ship. But we soon learn, after Dane kidnaps Essie, that she isn't just some random common girl with a knack for tech.

Essie is Princess Snow from the planet Windsong; she disappeared eight years ago and King Mathias (who turns out to be quite the rat bastard) has been searching for her ever since. Her disappearance sparked the opportunity for Mathias to go to war with the Exiles (or Candarans) of whom he fears because they have the ability to "body-hop" into others' conscious minds. A group of Candarans living in the their embassy in Windsong at the time were imprisoned because of Princess Snow's disappearance--it seems that they were blamed for kidnapping the princess.

Now Dane is determined to bring Essie back to Windsong as a trade to set the imprisoned Candarans free. But he soon learns that Essie's disappearance was tied to darker reasons than he had suspected. Apparently, eight years ago when Essie ran away from her home, Queen Olivia had ordered the young princess's death in secret.

There are a lot of plot twists in this book that range from the "Snow White" fairy tale of the Evil Queen wanting Snow White dead for superficial reasons; to the potential for war between planets in the system; to an even higher and less forgiving conspiracy within the Windsong kingdom that King Mathias has created to keep himself in power.

There is no lacking of action in the story progression, making it easy to just keep right on reading until the penultimate conclusion. Fortunately, the book was planned quite well and nothing seemed out of control or out of nowhere.

There were a few plot lines that seemed to fizzle out, however, and I was left with open-ended "choose your own conclusions" to those plot lines. Not that they mattered much since they weren't the main conflict... but sometimes you like to know.

The book is very Essie-centric, which is fine with me since I like a good, strong, independent heroine who saves the world and saves the day. But because she was such a powerful individual on her own, as a character, as a person, and as the main character, she overshadowed everyone else. Sure, she had her flaws and she had to develop through them; Dane was a stronger fighter than she was and needed to help hone her combat skills.

But the point is that Essie went through so much character development that every other character (excepting her drones) seemed to pale in comparison.

Dane was a great guy and an amazing love interest (after you get past the part about him kidnapping Essie and forgive him for that because he had his reasons and was not well informed of all situations). I feel like the romance on his side developed a little quickly, but I'll take it because he doesn't push, and he doesn't angst, and he doesn't mope. He's right there beside Essie through her entire ordeal. Which is great. But he was kind of boring for it.

There were all sorts of potential for great characters in the rest of Stitching Snow as well. Kip could have been fleshed out more, just as Laisa, Brand, Theo, or even the King and the Queen. But they were very typical, standard hero story background character types.

This book was basically "All About Essie" and all the character development and personality quotas were used to create an amazing heroine with strengths, weaknesses and character.

The only other characters that even stood a chance next to Essie were her drones: Dimwit, Cusser, Clunk, Clank, Whirligig, Ticktock, and Zippy. They were her "Seven Dwarves" and they each had their own upgraded personalities that made them stand out and unforgettable and freakin' adorable! I even stand that Dimwit and Cusser probably had more personality than Dane, Kip, and the whole Candaran council combined.

The drones were Essie's best friends and just seemed to "be there" when she needed them to be. There were FEELS to be had between Essie and her drones. It was pretty great!

Overall: Stitching Snow might not have been the best retelling out there, but it was unique and very well created. The tech and the worlds and the cultures were pretty awesome with tons of room for potential. I would have loved to learn more about Garam and Candara; I would have loved to meet more of the Windsong citizens and soliders. I would have loved to travel Thandan and see the rest of the mining communities, the Ascetics, the more prosperous, livable cities...

I would also love to have a Dimwit of my own. And a Cusser. I've grown to love those drones more than the actual human beings of the Stitching Snow world.

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text 2015-01-27 15:00
Top Ten Tuesdays: Book Club!

Top Ten Tuesdays is an original and weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


I skipped last week's Top Ten Tuesday because it was a Freebie topic and I couldn't think of a good one to use.  So I figured that I would give myself a break.  With so much going on in Real Life as well as all the reading I've been engrossed in, I had no motivation to find a topic.


I had wanted to skip this week's topic as well, but decided to just go ahead and throw one out there for it.



Top Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club/ If I Had a Book Club



Needless to say, I already have a somewhat of a Mini Book Club with one of my best friends, granted the book club isn't really flowing so well right now.  And I have imaginings of starting a whole other book club with some other friends... though that's only been a passing thought.


To me, a Book Club (yes, in capitals) is a means by which I can make myself read books that have pinged on my radar, but probably wouldn't just randomly pick up on a whim without some push.  And not even with all of my Reading Challenges have I inserted these particular books either.  It's a matter of having someone else read the same book that somehow motivates me into wanting to finally pick up the book and read it.


Of course these are books I do want to read; but there are hundreds of books out there that I want to read and I make my choices dependent on mood and interest.  And while these books have interested me in some form before, the mood has never been quite right.


My list is pretty large of books I figure would make a good Book Club book, and so narrowing the list down to ten wasn't easy.  (Are these Top Ten lists ever easy?)


So the following list compiled have no particular rhyme or reason other than the fact that, some of them are books I am VERY interested in reading but haven't gotten around to reading, a few are books that just sound like a good Book Club book (if for no other reason), and some of the books have already been nominated as a possible Book Club read by myself and my BFF.




The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki


My BFF and I stumbled across The Ghost Bride during one of our Mini Book Club meetings and decided it would make a good choice.  The Distant Hours was chosen by BFF.  A Tale For the Time Being was one I have an interest in.



The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

False Memory by Dean Koontz


Both The Black Dahlia and False Memory are my choices for book club.  My BFF consents, but has not made a decision of "Yay" or "Nay", so they continue to sit as possibilities.


Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami


I somehow managed to talk my BFF into saying "yes" to Let's Pretend This Never Happened.  Apparently she was as amused by the cover with the rat as I was.  And I have not run The Strange Library by her yet, but I'm sure I can convince her it'll be a good choice.



Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale


Hello, I Love You and The Thirteenth Princess are also pre-chosen Mini Book Club nominees.  Book of a Thousand Days is merely a book that we both really, really love and would probably both read again just for the sake of reading it for a Book Club selection.






It's a strange mish-mash of books chosen for a Book Club, but we aren't too particular on what we become interested in.  It's getting around to actually reading those books that's the difficult part.


Sometimes I just feel like there isn't enough time in the world to finish all the books I would love to read.

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text 2015-01-26 14:23
So much forward progression and almost to the halfway point already
Stitching Snow - R.C. Lewis

I started reading Stitching Snow sometime last night at work... and then I realized I was having trouble putting the book down until I had to remind myself to get back to work.  I had a feeling I would enjoy this book, but I hadn't realized I'd enjoy it this much.


Before I started reading it, the book had caught my radar blips because of the summary and other reviews I've read.  The concept gave me the impression of a YA Star Wars type of epic sci-fi, futuristic space odyssey kind of intrigue.  I was worried that all the hype I could potentially give myself would ruin how I really feel about the book once I started reading it.


And you know, this book is equal parts exciting, intriguing, and awesomely un-put-down-able.


Essie a strong heroine with skillz to get her through survival of her life.  And while Dane is kind of getting on my nerves a little bit (he reminds me of those psychotic kidnappers who forcefully take you away from your life and your home, then get irritated when you try to fight back, and somehow manages to feel like you should be grateful he's at least being civil with you in your current turmoil).  Oh wait, that is exactly what Dane has done... he also grumbles about her making trouble and causing problems.


So fortunately, Essie fights right back to remind Dane that he was the one who kidnapped her, and he was the one who lied to her, and he was the one who wouldn't listen when she tried to tell him she only patched up his ship with enough sturdiness to make it eight days in space and not nearly long enough to go where he actually wants to go.  So no, Dane, you have no right to complain about your victim causing trouble when you're the one who did the kidnapping in the first place.


I really DO hope that Dane develops a bit more personality and significance soon, because he's not sitting so well on my "Spiffy Guy" scale right now.  Between the broody and the condescension, I'm not getting much great vibes here from him.



However, in a way, I'm ready for Dane to come around and ally with Essie rather than trying to use her life and her freedom as a means to exchange for other people's lives and freedoms.  Between the two of them working together, I have a feeling they can figure out a better solution for his conflict.


Also, I get why this book is called Stitching Snow now.

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review 2015-01-25 03:04
Brief Thoughts: Heat Rises
Heat Rises - Richard Castle

I had issues keeping up with this book because it started off being a little flat at the beginning. I especially had trouble believing in the credibility of Nikki Heat being roadblocked in her investigation so easily--somehow, I had the distinct feeling that Kate Beckett wouldn't have been cowed so easily like that, even at the expense of pissing off her Captain. Then again, I was also under the impression that Captain Montrose was definitely very un-Montgomery-like in this book and it irked me a little bit.

All that Kate Beckett spunk seemed to have evaporated.

No matter though. It was quite interesting trying to find all the parallels between the book and the television series, even if things didn't seem to fit in quite right.

I liked the previous book more so than I liked Heat Rises, and it could be because the investigation felt stalled in several moments throughout this book. Nevertheless, it's still a vast improvement from the first book in the series, and we get to see more development in the characters, even if they still don't quite compare with the television series' characters.

The murder case was a more conspiratorial one, starting with the death of a priest with connections to an old murder case that was blown off as related to gang violence, and then finally the danger of Nikki Heat being targeted because of her dogged investigation of the murders.

It's fairly standard crime thriller fare, but it had its moments of intrigue and excitement. I'll give it that much.

You can see where this book might have taken a page from Castle with the ending of Season 3. And also, it borrows the idea of a murder being blown off as gang-related violence, via Detective Beckett's mother's murder... which may or may not have more conspiratorial possibilities lingering in the background as well.

Overall: Enjoyable as enjoyable does.

And really, the only reason I decided to even write a sloppy, short thoughts piece for this book was because I wanted to give a shout out to the very brief Firefly reference in the last 25% stretch of this book.  Really, it was only a sentence, but it was there.

And also, there was a scene of dialogue that really tickled my funny bone and had me guffawing... for whatever reason:

"Oh, very cold. Be glad you not have goldfish," he said. "Mrs. Nathan, she have to move her goldfish to Flushing."

Rook said, "Is it me or is there something sad about hearing goldfish and Flushing in the same breath?"

Obviously, I'm easily amused...

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review 2015-01-22 02:51
Review: Leave No Trace (A Black Ops novella)
Leave No Trace - Cindy Gerard

Leave No Trace -- Cindy Gerard

Listed as Black Ops, Inc. #5.5

  -- takes place some time after Risk No Secrets

2013 Release -- Pocket Star Books

Romantic Suspense, Military, International


**This novella is also part of the Deadly Promises anthology



We first met David “Cav” Cavanaugh in Whisper No Lies, a CIA operative who was also acquainted with the two former CIA BOIs, Wyatt Savage and Joe Green. With his help, our heroes managed to extract Crystal from Jakarta after she’d been abducted by a human trafficking tycoon.

Despite the fact that I knew there’d be a novella starring Cav, his presence in the third BOI novel created no less of an expectation. Described as unforgivingly handsome with his own hero complex and a penchant for being one of the good guys, I’d be surprised if Ms. Gerard didn’t try to either insert him into another of the BOI novels, or give him his own story.

And so now we have a novella.

What I had a feeling for (though I hadn’t really expected), was that Carrie Grainger, who is introduced in Black Ops installment number five, Risk No Secrets, would be his leading lady. Carrie is an old childhood friend of “Papa Bear” Savage’s; they had been an item when they were in high school, and she still maintained a flame for him, even as he returned to Georgia years later, bringing with him the love of his life, Sophie Baylor, and officially taking himself off the market. And thus, heartbroken and ready to move on, Carrie decides to do something spontaneous, such as get involved in medical care in foreign nations.

When this little novella (which isn’t very little at a slightly over 100 pages of content) starts off, we learn that Carrie has disappeared from the grid. Wyatt contacts David Cavanaugh for a favor involving finding and retrieving Carrie. She had arrived in Myanmar as planned, but not long after a taxi ride, she’d gone missing. On her side of the story, we learn that Carrie had noticed a woman being beaten in public, tried to intervene, and then got caught up in a botched up arrest, where she was wrongfully held in captivity for some sort of legal matter. The next thing she knows, she’s being hauled off to a slave camp to do hard labor in the ruby mines. From Cav’s side of the intel, Carrie’s arrest was a mix-up, and so in order to cover up this problem, the government figured that they better just keep quiet about it and make her go away.

And thus starts a suspenseful adventure of rescue by a non-BOI hero of the Black Ops series world.

The novella was action-packed and well-written, as is typical of Cindy Gerard. And because of the usual consistently forward-moving story progression of her books, I’d never really stopped to appreciate the detail and vivid imagery she manages to infuse into the different cultures and nations that our heroes continuously “visit” for their missions. But the beginning of this novella, with David Cavanaugh sitting quietly in his little mansion, showed a lot of excellent description of his home, the room he was in, and a little bit of Jakarta that is appreciated.

And then the action starts and we forget about great detailed settings and imagery and move right into the excitement.

There was a lot of story to go on with a simple rescue mission. We’ve already covered rescue missions before, and because of the fact that neither Carrie nor Cav were unique nor stood out amidst the rest of the lovely BOIs in their full-length novels, I can only delegate this novella into a simple, enjoyable read. Carrie was the typical damsel in distress who manages to surprise her hero by holding up as strong and determined. Cav was the typical broody alpha male hero with his wits, his heart, and his “I have commitment issues due to my angsty childhood history” and the like.

There was nothing new there on the character front, nor was there anything new or exciting about the romance front either. The dialogue and writing were done excellently, and I did give a goofy grin when the BOIs make their appearance at the end (as I seem to do regularly now). But otherwise, this Romantic Suspense novella was standard fare.

In fact, I even feel like the romance was a bit rushed and the word “love” was cast around a little too easily. But what else is new with a Romance novel, right? A couple meets under dire circumstances, they are attracted to each other, they imagine all sorts of naughty thoughts about each other, they give into their carnal needs… they start to care about each other, and within a nano-second of all that has happened, they’ve fallen in love and can’t live without each other. Developments of Romance novels to be taken with a grain of salt and no over-analysis, otherwise, it’s hard to enjoy yourself and immerse yourself in the feel-good, heart-warming scenes that take place.

Simply Put: An enjoyable, yet lengthy novella with the right amount of suspense and the right amount of excitement. It may or may not have made for a good full-length novel, given the chance. A romance with unnecessary bittersweet angst… and so let’s get back to our BOIs in the next full-length novel, shall we?

Also, it feels like the timeline for this novella is a little bit off.  When the BOIs show up in the end of the novella, Cav makes it sound like Carrie had never met them before, but we know everyone, including Carrie, showed up to Wyatt's wedding in Risk No Secrets.  So either that was an accident, or Carrie has met, but doesn't remember our Black Ops boys... which is certainly strange, because a room full of Gabe Jones, Johnny Duane Reed, Rafe Mendoza, Luke Colter, and Joe Green would be pretty hard to miss... or forget for that matter.


Also... I hadn't pegged that Johnny Duane would be fully recovered from his skateboard stunt injury already, but it might have been months after the events of Risk No Secrets.  Also, I thought that Doc (Luke Colter) was supposed to be on vacation.


I'm not certain when the events of Leave No Trace takes place, really, and it could be a long time after Wyatt's wedding.


Oh well, it's not like I'm really complaining or anything.

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