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url 2017-06-23 22:20
This Child Will Be Great
This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President Sirleaf is one of the Nobel Prize winning women that I challenged myself to read last October. I had first heard her name in the memoir of one of her co-winners, Leymah Gbowee, that I had reviewed here for the blog I had before this one. Because of that, I was a little familiar with the civil wars that tore Liberia apart for 14 years and the name Charles Taylor.

What I wasn't familiar with was the overall political history of Liberia, which President Sirleaf discusses throughout her memoir. Her family had been involved in politics there long before the civil wars which gave her a more overarching view of what was happening than I had listened to in Gbowee's book. A part of me wishes I had read them in the opposite order. Gbowee's book is a lot more of the every woman experience of the wars and President Sirleaf shows the reader the "bigger picture", if you will.

President Sirleaf's story starts long before the wars, though. She begins with some history, such as the relationship the US had with the founding of Liberia before moving on to more personal history. I loved the story about the man who gave the memoir it's title by looking at her as a baby and saying those words, "This child will be great." I love the doubt that follows. President Sirleaf's rise to power was slow and winding, given the political climate of her country throughout her life, but it appeared to have progressed at a relatively steady pace with what seemed like short segues into other areas. There was a lot of heartache and a lot of experience involved in that climb to power, but she persevered.

This memoir was narrated by Robin Miles, who is an amazing narrator. The link will take you to an interview she did with BookRiot. The pacing of both the book and the narration was great, it was one of the few audiobooks that I haven't felt the need to tweak the playback speed on my app. Overall, it's an important memoir to read for those of us interested in the lives of women, particularly those who have had political success or been awarded the Nobel Prize.

This was also one of those rare books that I could fit into all three of my reading challenges this year because it is by a Nobel Laureate, it satisfies Task 11 for my Read Harder challenge, and is my Letter T for Litsy A to Z.

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text 2017-06-19 13:05
Blog Tour: When Darkness Falls by Ellen Chauvet with Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Today’s stop is for Ellen Chauvet’s When Darkness Falls. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 

 


 

When Darkness Falls: The First Vampire Redemption Story

 

 

Lexie Miles, a southern belle living her dream life in Paris, is devastated when her best friend Emma is brutally raped and murdered by vampires. From that moment Lexie’s “perfect world” begins to crumble. She discovers her entire life has been a sham and everyone she cares about has been lying to her. Angry doesn’t begin to describe her reaction to the news.

Plunged into a two-thousand year old war between good and evil, she is propelled into a world of blood, lust and dark secrets. She must embrace her birthright to fight an ancient threat to humanity. Bequeathed with the dubious gift of being the “Chosen One,” Lexie meets the enigmatic Etienne Benoit. She falls hard for him and when he betrays her, she vows to get revenge. After all, she is a vampire executioner and killing vampire is what she does.

 

 

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Lexie sat waiting for her best friend Emma Gunther to join her at their favorite French bistro, the Boeuf sur la Toit, off the Champs Elysees. Emma had been away for two weeks and Lexie was looking forward to their reunion. Her thoughts drifted to the latest vampire novel Emma had given her to read. It contained hot, juicy sex scenes. Her gaze settled on a handsome man who had entered the restaurant. His wool coat outlined broad shoulders and chest, and tapered to a slim waist and hips. Dark eyes caught hers for a moment before shifting on. He sauntered to a single table radiating sex and passion. Lexie’s imagination took over. In her fantasy he was a vampire and she was his lover. She undressed him and heat rose in her groin as she pictured him naked. Lost in her fantasy, she jumped when a hand touched her shoulder. “Earth to Lexie,” Emma’s familiar voice intruded. “Shit you scared the be-jesus out of me.” Lexie rose and hugged her friend, then stood back. “Darlin’ I’m so happy you’re back,” she said slipping comfortably into her native Atlanta drawl. The accent she had to clip when speaking French or the Parisian’s would look at her with disdain. “It’s good to be back,” Emma said, removing her coat before sitting at their table. Emma was tall, had long brown hair which she pulled back in a severe bun and thick glasses. They worked together as translators for the United Nations and their friendship had flourished over the past three years. Emma was the science translator as well as a chemist and math whizz. They were a strange combination: a pretty Southern belle from Georgia and a stodgy but brilliant German fraulein, but the friendship worked. Rather than going home to Atlanta, Lexie had spent summer vacations at the Gunther’s cottage in the Taunus Mountains, and Christmas holidays with Emma and her father in Frankfurt. Too cold in late November to sit outside, Lexie and Emma enjoyed the warmth and coziness of the restaurant as they waited for their meals. “What were you thinking about when I came in?” Emma said. “You were a million miles away.” Lexie felt her cheeks redden and dipped her head to avoid Emma’s stare. “I was thinkin’ about some stuff at work. How was your trip?” Lexie steered the conversation to a safer topic. “It was good. Saw some friends from university and had a good visit with my father.” Lexie noticed that Emma’s response was vague, and wondered what she wasn’t saying. Before she could ask, the waiter arrived with their food. They ate in silence, the awkwardness between them increasing. Puzzled by her friend’s reticence, Lexie leaned back and said, “How come the subject of men and vampires hasn‘t come up yet?” “You always make fun of me when I talk about vampires,” Emma replied. “And as for men…” she left the statement hanging. Lexie did think that Emma’s fascination with the undead was odd so she steered the conversation toward men. Lexie felt a twinge of remorse that Emma was reluctant to mention vampires around her, so she chose to bring a bit of humor to the conversation. “We’re not spring chickens anymore,” Lexie said. “Don’t be silly, we’re only 29.” Emma replied. “Besides, you tried a committed relationship, and we both know how that went.” “Don’t remind me,” Lexie said as Justin’s handsome face flashed through her mind. “I still get my panties in a wad when I think of findin’ him with that bitch. That still hurts.” “Ach, let’s not rehash that one again.” Just like Lexie’s drawl, Emma’s German accent was always more evident when it was just the two of them. “At least I have one to rehash. How much longer are you gonna to pine over Tom?” “That’s not fair.” Lexie could see the hurt in her friend’s eyes. “I’m sorry. I just get frustrated that you waste your time longin’ for our unapproachable boss.” The truth was Lexie also had a little crush on their brawny, Daniel Craig like English boss. But of the two of them, she had the role of being the one who was worldly about men, and she enjoyed that. Since the disaster with Justin, she had shied away from any long term relationships. One night stands were exciting and safe. Never mind that they left her feeling empty and lonely. Emma smiled at her. “I know you worry about me. Maybe my destiny is to find a ’good’ vampire like in the books we’ve been reading. Then I could live a life of adventure and hot, juicy, passionate sex.” Emma purred. “Girl they are just myths. Besides, I don’t believe in good and evil.” Lexie usually saw Emma’s eyes twinkling in amusement through her thick glasses at their ongoing debate. But this time Emma’s eyes held no sparkle and she said with a serious tone. “All myths have some truth in the background.” “I guess everyone needs to believe in somethin’.” Lexie said. Especially when you’re a mousy nerd. She experienced a twinge of guilt at her unkind thought. Lexie loved Emma like a sister and her attempts to improve her appearance came from a place of caring. “Hon you are barkin’ up the wrong tree if you think I’ll ever believe vampires are real. There isn’t any ‘truth’ in the background. Although I must admit, I enjoy the erotica. The scenes give me wonderful ideas for my own flings.” She winked at her friend. “C’mon let’s get out of here and go for a walk.” Even Lexie noticed that male heads turned to ogle her as she exited. She and Emma walked the Champs Elysees, wandering in and out of the fashionable stores that were still open. “This would look wonderful on you,” Lexie said. She held up a deep purple sweater for Emma’s approval. Lexie felt it was her mission in life to break Em out of her dowdy wardrobe. “It would look better on you.” Emma replied. “This is more my style.” She held up a mustard yellow sweater and Lexie cringed at the sight. “The color is awful. It makes you look dead. Will you at least try this purple one on? Emma took the sweater and slipped it over her head. Lexie smiled. It was stunning and brought out Em’s chocolate brown eyes. It’s too….bright.” Emma said and yanked the sweater off. “I love it on you.” Emma regarded the sweater and Lexie could sense that she wavered. “Won’t you at least give it a try?” “I don’t know….I have plenty of clothes.” “C’mon hon, it’s sexy.” “I never think of myself that way.” Lexie grabbed Emma’s arm and pulled her in front one of the store mirrors. “Hold it up in front of you.” “Does it really make me look sexy?” Lexie could tell the idea of sexy appealed to her. “Absofrigginlutely, you have to have it.” Lexie smiled to herself as Emma walked to the cashier and paid for the item. Will wonders never cease? They stepped back out on the boulevard and Lexie linked arms with Emma as they walked. In soft whispers they commented on the men that they passed on the street. It was their usual game of imagining whether or not certain ones could be good vampires or bad vampires and then laughed at their silliness. Lexie pointed to a couple approaching. “Now he’s someone I could take to bed in a heartbeat,” she whispered into Emma’s ear. They were passing the Cartier store and Emma grabbed her arm and pulled. “Look at that diamond necklace. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” “I guess so.” Lexie stumbled after her. Startled by Emma’s sudden interest in the incredibly expensive item in the window, Lexie started to say something when Emma tensed holding her arm so tight it hurt. “Em, you’re hurtin’ me.” She tugged at her friend’s grip but Emma held on tighter. “What’s going on with you? The necklace is gorgeous, and way out of our price range.” Lexie felt a presence behind her. Her scalp prickled and her heart rate accelerated. She scratched her head wondering if she’d picked up lice. The scratching didn’t help. “Oui, that is a most delightful piece,” said a tinkling female voice with a heavy French accent. “It would look stunning on you.” Lexie turned and the petite young woman who had spoken was too gorgeous for words. Her hair was blond almost white in the soft light of the Cartier window. Blue eyes twinkled from her heart shaped face. Her skin was translucent and flawless. The woman extended her hand and as Lexie shook it she noticed delicate blue veins on the back. “My name is Marielle,” she said. “And this is my husband Francois.” Lexie looked up into eyes so dark brown they appeared black. High cheekbones that any model would kill for were framed by lustrous brown hair. His broad chest and shoulders filled out the suede jacket he wore, and tight fitting designer jeans revealed a slim waist and long legs. So young to be married. “Enchanté” Lexie replied taking the man’s outstretched hand. “Je m’apelle Lexie.” Again her scalp prickled. It was annoying. She looked at Emma who still clutched her arm. Emma stared at the couple in a way that was not friendly but as if she knew these strangers. “Do y’all know each other?” Lexie asked puzzled by Emma’s demeanor. “Ah no, mademoiselle.” Francois spoke for the first time and reached out his hand toward Emma. Emma released the death grip she had on Lexie’s arm. In slow motion Emma raised her hand and when Lexie looked into her eyes the pupils were dilated and fixed. Her mouth opened but no sound came out. Lexie could see that Francois had captured Emma’s eyes with his own and the intensity of his gaze reminded Lexie of a hypnotist. How odd. “This is my friend Emma.” Lexie was pleased to introduce her friend but for the first time felt the male attention was being stolen by Emma. Francois raised Emma’s hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. When he released it, it hung in the air like some disembodied prosthetic. Before Lexie could say anything, Francois turned to Lexie. “We were just passing by and noticed you admiring the necklace. We were both struck by your good looks and Marielle couldn’t resist saying hello. Are you perhaps a fashion model?” “Oh, well it’s nice to meet you both and no, I am not a fashion model. But thank you kindly for the compliment,” Lexie replied, her ego soothed. “C’mon, we need to go,” Emma said. “It’s getting late and I have a lot to do tomorrow.” Rude much? “It was nice meeting you both,” Lexie said. “It was our pleasure mademoiselle,” Francois replied. “Perhaps we will bump into each other again soon.” He smiled at Emma and Lexie noticed that the smile never reached his eyes. “I would enjoy that,” Emma responded and then blushed to her roots. “We need to go.” Emma hustled Lexie to the curb. She waved her arm to hail a cab. “Em, what are you doing? You just live a few blocks away, and I can take the train to Montmartre.” Emma didn’t respond, and as a cab pulled alongside, she jerked open the door and climbed in. “Get in,” she demanded. Lexie hesitated. Emma reached out and yanked Lexie’s arm and she stumbled into the cab. “Em, what’s wrong with you? You’re acting very strange.” “There was just something about that couple that I didn’t trust. Especially the woman. They just - how do you say it in English ‘bugged me’. “But, honey, what’s with the cab? Aren’t we going to the Bus Palladium for dancing?” “I’m too tired to go dancing tonight.” Emma replied. “Besides I want to make sure that you get home safe.” Still puzzled at her friend’s strange behavior, Lexie sat quietly for several minutes hoping she would explain further. When she didn’t, she decided to change the topic. “Are we getting together tomorrow? “Not tomorrow,” Emma replied. “We could go shopping at the Gallerie Lafayette and Printemps. Have a late lunch at Café du Margot and finalize our plans for Christmas. It’ll be here before you know it.” “I have some things I need to take care of. But I will call you on Sunday morning and we can get together then, okay?” “Sounds good. Don’t forget my Mom arrives in the afternoon.” Lexie said wondering what things Emma needed to take care of. On occasion her friend could be aloof. “I haven’t forgotten. I’m looking forward to meeting her.” The cab pulled up in front of Lexie’s apartment. She was surprised when Emma leaned over and grabbed her arm. “Be careful, Paris is not as safe as you think. Lock your door and check your windows.” “I promise I’ll be careful,” Lexie replied. “Are you sure you’re okay? “I’m fine. I’ll talk to you Sunday.” Lexie waved as the taxi pulled away from the curb. Emma’s eyes stared at her, but she didn’t wave back. So strange. She entered her apartment unable to shake off the sense of unease brought on by Emma’s behavior. Large by Paris standards, Lexie’s home reflected her eclectic taste. Deep red drapes covered the French doors that led to her balcony, and the pieces of furniture she’d acquired were ultra-modern in design. She took a moment to review her to do list in preparation for her mother’s visit. Most of them were ticked off. She would clean the next day. In contrast to the rest of the apartment, her bedroom was romantic with wooden shutters painted a robin’s egg blue, a bedspread to match and big fluffy pillows tossed casually about. Her bed was wrought iron with gauzy soft blue drapes. Lexie changed into her pajamas and her eyes locked on to the most recent vampire book she was reading. Her thoughts returned to Emma and the discomfort she’d experienced earlier returned. She picked up the phone to call her then smiled at her concern. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Ellen Chauvet lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her love for reading and writing developed at an early age and she wrote several short stories and plays which were lost over the years. In 2003 a friend introduced her to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and Ellen was fascinated by the idea of good and evil vampires. She particularly loves Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton. 'When Darkness Falls' if the first in a series of books called 'The Vampire Redemption Series' and is adult fiction.

 

Links

 

Website *** Facebook *** Twitter *** Goodreads *** Amazon

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

 

Source: snoopydoosbookreviews.com/blog-tour-darkness-falls-ellen-chauvet-excerpt-giveaway
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url 2017-06-07 14:18
Celebrate Pride Month (from TOR.com)
Passing Strange - Ellen Klages
Down Among the Sticks and Bones - Seanan McGuire
The Drowning Eyes - Emily Foster
River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey
Runtime - S. B. Divya
A Taste of Honey - Kai Ashante Wilson

TOR.com article linked to notes more about the linked books saying  "We’re kicking off Pride Month with a list of Tor.com novellas featuring LGBTQ+ characters. . . . Join us later in the month for a list of novels!..."

Source: www.torforgeblog.com/2017/06/01/celebrate-pride-month-with-tor-com
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review 2017-05-25 03:29
Review: Burned (Burned #1) by Ellen Hopkins
Burned - Ellen Hopkins

Quick review for a quick read that I picked up from my library's audio collection. Powerful and really wonderful character exploration, which is typical of Ellen Hopkins's books. Pattyn is a young woman living in a tightly knit religious community and abusive household. She strongly laments her inability to grow as a young woman - in relationships, in asserting herself among other things - as well as watching her mother being subjected to her father's fists. After a series of incidents in which she acts out, she's sent to live with her aunt and begins to know what it means to have a better life for herself, including being valued in a romantic relationship with her S.O. (Ethan). In the end, she's not prepared to return to the household that cast her out, yet she never really wanted to leave completely behind, and things only turn for the worst after that point. I'll admit it hit me like a punch to a gut and I couldn't shake the emotional upheaval it left within me long after turning the final page.

"Burned", like the other books of Hopkins I've read, went down so smoothly and quick for the overarching read - I really enjoyed the audio narration of the novel as well as the poetic form she uses to tell Pattyn's story. She captures Pattyn's thoughts, questions, fears, uncertainty, and emotion to the teeth, and I liked being able to follow her throughout. I thought her fears and concerns were front and center, making me feel her struggle, but I think there were opportunities of depth and debate (particularly around the religious community concerns, since Pattyn lives in a Mormon household) that were missed. I definitely look forward to reading the next novel in this series, though the cliffhanger ending makes me all the more anxious to get to it as soon as possible.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

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review 2017-05-09 15:27
Out Oct 3
Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                Who doesn’t love Halloween?  Okay, it’s true that in some areas of the country, you will have near adults dressed in nothing more than a cheap mask ringing the doorbell and then being upset that they haven’t received a whole Snickers bar, but, hey, it’s Halloween, and look at those Princess Leias.  Brings a bit of hope about the future generation.

 

                But as most people can tell you, as the Princess Leias illustrate, there is also an attempt to make Halloween less scary.  Some schools have forbidden scary outfits, and most customers in my neighborhood recently have been superheroes and princesses.  (And that is another issue).  While it is understandable not to want to frighten young children, the sexualization of costumes and the move to cute, does tend to be a bit disturbing.  Look at the difference between male and female Iron Man costumes, for instance.

 

                Thankfully Morton and Datlow hew to the original concept of Halloween in this well edited collection.

 

                All the stories are set on Halloween (or on a related festival).  All the tales are spooky and focus on the darker aspect of the holiday.  Thought, it should be noted, that cute can still make an appearance in one or two tales.  But it is cute with a big bite, lots of sharp teeth, and you know, it is going to leave a scar.

 

                Seanan McGuire’s “With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds” starts the collection.  It is, on the surface, a haunted house tale (what better way to celebrate Halloween), as well as makes us of the idea of Mischief Night.  It is a good teen story too, at least in terms of the idea of needing and wanting to belong to a group.  It’s a rather quiet study of it, and while the subject matter and execution are completely different, in many ways it reminds me of Kij Johnson’s “Ponies” – the most chilling story about peer pressure ever.

 

                Which isn’t in this collection, but McGuire’s short story is just as good, so if you liked “Ponies”, read it.

 

                McGuire is followed by “Dirtmouth” by Stephen Graham Jones, a tale about fame, death, and afterlife.  To say much more would be giving a bit too much away, so I won’t.  Let’s just say, it makes a good companion piece to “The Monkey’s Paw”.

 

                Look, if you are over 12, and don’t know “The Monkey’s Paw,” I can’t know you.  Sorry.

 

                Perhaps Jonathan Maberry’s “A Small Taste of the Old Country”.  Considering the Trump’s administrations misstatements, false statements, or missteps (you can pick the word, I prefer lies) in terms of the Holocaust, Maberry’s somber story is a good rebuke to all those statements.  It also, like most good fiction, raises questions about justice, remembrance, and freedom.

 

                Joanna Parupinski’s tale “Wick’s End” makes good use of several folklore and tale motifs as does Kelley Armstrong’s “Nos Galen Gaeaf” (which is set in Cainsville).  Additionally, both stories make excellent use of the idea of storytelling.  Phillip Pullman’s “Seventeen Year Itch” also makes use of this idea and combines with the overuse trope of a madhouse.  Yet, he writes quite a spooky story.

 

                Jeffrey Ford gets bonus points for placing a tale in the New Jersey Pine Barrens but not including the Jersey Devil.  Paul Kane too plays with the sounds of footsteps, and John R. Little sets a Halloween on the moon.  Work by Pat Cadigan, Kate Jonez, S.P. Miskowski, and John Langan round out the collection.

 

                In all, the short stories are strong and contain a good deal of spook and spine tingles.  The emphasis is on fear rather than shock.  This isn’t to say that there is not blood, but the horror is more psychological than shock with blood spurting.  Not there isn’t the odd spurt or so.

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