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review 2018-11-01 17:45
100 FATHOMS BELOW by Steven Kent and Nicholas Kaufman
100 Fathoms Below - Nicholas Kaufmann,Steven L. Kent

100 FATHOMS BELOW is the depth where sunlight no longer penetrates the sea. That depth and further is where you'll find submarines and that's where the USS Roanoke attempted to locate the new class of Russian sub-supposedly in development. Unfortunately, the Roanoke encountered some problems accomplishing their mission.

 

Set in 1983, during the height of the cold war, the Roanoke and her crew are going about day to day submarine life. Not everyone gets along in such tight quarters, but they make do for the good of the ship. When Petty Officer Stubic becomes ill, the crew isn't worried, they have a medic to help with such things. But thereafter, as officer after officer sickens, and as lights keep getting smashed out on each deck, the crew begins to get frightened, and rightfully so. Will they survive whatever it is that's on their ship? Will they find the new Russian sub? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This is my first book from these authors and I'm happy to say that I enjoyed it immensely. It's a fun story and it's fast paced with lots of action. I enjoyed the fact that several of the character's names in the book are actually the names of authors I recognize, so that added a bit of fun as well.

 

What I thought was slightly lacking was character development-I could have used a bit more to add to the depth of the cast. However, I understand this book isn't trying to be a literary classic, and what we do have here is some creature feature fun!

 

100 FATHOMS BELOW is probably just what you expect it to be, if you're looking for underwater, claustrophobic, B-movie-type fun. If that's what you are in the mood for reading right now? Go ahead, take the plunge: Dive! Dive! Dive!

 

Recommended!

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-10-30 08:00
BLOG TOUR Q&A and GIVEAWAY: 'This Cruel Design' by Emily Suvada
This Cruel Design - Emily Suvada

 

It's here! One of my most anticipated books of the year; it's the follow-up to Emily Suvada's immensely successful debut 'This Mortal Coil', and it has one of the most unforgettable covers (another great design thanks to Regina Flath).

 

You MUST read This Mortal Coil before you read This Cruel Design, and I will be (and have been) the first person to shove it into your hands so you'll read it. And this may be categorized as YA, but it has to be some of the smartest science-fiction that I've read in some time, so I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a fast-paced, intelligent dystopian read full of twists all the way through to the end. 

 

Read on, because TODAY, to celebrate the release of This Cruel Design, I have posted the Q&A that I had the chance to have with Emily.

 

 

Thank you, as always, to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, EMILY SUVADA

 

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/emilysuvada 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emily.suvada/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emilysuvada

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/emilysuvada/

Website: http://www.emilysuvada.com/

 

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

'This Cruel Design' by Emily Suvada

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: October 30, 2018

Genre: Young Adult -- Science Fiction

 

SYNOPSIS:

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

 

 

 

I'm so thrilled to have been able to give these questions to Emily, as I'm a superfan of hers, so ENJOY!! 

 

Q&A with Kat's Books

 

  1. After the huge success of This Mortal Coil, how does it feel leading up to the release of This Cruel Design? What’s different this time?
     
    First – thank you for such a lovely question! There are a lot of things that feel different when releasing a second book – the biggest being that while it’s still stressful, a lot of the fear and worry that I felt as a debut is gone. I think most of us worry when we don’t know how something is going to feel – and that’s definitely true for debut authors. Debuts aren’t sure if readers will notice their book releasing, or if people will like or hate it, and they don’t yet know how to talk to booksellers or other authors. Once you’ve launched a book, though, you realize that life is going to continue – there will be wonderful things you didn’t expect to happen, and also things you hoped for that didn’t eventuate – but in the end life keeps moving and you need to keep moving as a writer, too. In the lead-up to This Cruel Design the strongest feeling I has is excitement to share this book with the readers who’ve loved This Mortal Coil, and to draw more readers into the series. I can’t wait to hear people’s reactions and get yelled at for all the horrible things I’ve done to my characters :D

     
  2. I’ve been completely fascinated with the fact that you are a data scientist (and an incredibly smart lady), and reading your books it’s obvious when reading them that your background plays a role in your writing these books. 

    Can you explain how writing algorithms turned into writing books, and in this case, writing streams of DNA sequences? 

    I’ve always been both a creative and a methodical thinker. I come from a family of artists, and while I’ve been drawn to math, coding, and data, it’s the creative side of those fields that truly held my interest (and yes, math can be extremely creative and expressive!). Similarly, when it comes to creative fields like writing, drawing, or music, I’ve always taken a methodical approach to them. My writing, for instance, follows strict algorithms and structures which I build spreadsheets to manage. I keep track of tension, arcs, and revelations throughout the book, and all of those elements follow fairly mathematical rules which govern the pace and flow of the story. So even when I’m writing – I’m really doing math! As for the DNA sequences – I’ve always loved codes and puzzles, and I couldn’t stop thinking about a way to hide a message for readers in This Mortal Coil. The DNA-encoded message came about as a fun way to encourage readers to try coding, and to get a poem as a reward!

     
  3. What kind of research did you do into the world of testing vaccines, recoding humanity, and any other medical research? Your books lean heavily on knowing a lot about the body, which is a far cry from all those numbers and a degree in maths. 

    I’ve always read broadly about science and new breakthroughs and discoveries, so I’ve come across a lot of information about the human body, about DNA, and about medicine over the years of randomly googling things, watching movies and reading nonfiction, and keeping up-to-date on science news. The thing is that my brain kind of grabs hold of anything I find interesting, and I tend not to forget those things. I don’t have a photographic memory, but if I came across a cool science factoid when I was 11, you can bet I still remember it clearly. So if you take years of nerdy reading, combine it with a love of sci-fi and a lot of hours googling and browsing things on the internet, and throw in the fact that I remember basically everything I’ve read about DNA and biology, then you’ll end up with an incomplete but fairly broad and imaginative understanding of genetic engineering – which is exactly what you’ll find in my books!

     
  4. Have you run up against preconceived ideas about you and your writing (before someone may have read your books), being a woman writing a novel that is firmly in the science-fiction genre?

    Honestly, not really at this point – at least that I’m aware of. I’ve heard from readers of all genders that they’ve loved the story and the world of This Mortal Coil, and to my knowledge I haven’t really had anyone writing me off because I’m a woman. It’s something I’ve encountered a lot in person throughout my life – people will challenge my credentials and intelligence because I don’t always present as a stereotypical nerd - I wear make-up and I’m very bubbly, which I think clashes with a lot of people’s preconceived ideas of how a ‘smart’ person should look and act. Since publishing This Mortal Coil, I have had a couple of people ask me questions like “So you studied bioengineering?” in a pretty loaded way, as though they expected me to fumble a reply that I didn’t, but when I say “No, I studied theoretical astrophysics – what about you?” we usually move along pretty quickly.

     
  5. 5) Does your writing come from a place of fear that the world is going to turn out this way? Or is this a pure fantasy going on in your head?!

    Haha – it’s really a bit of both. More than anything, I want to outline the nightmarish scenarios that I think we could face if we’re not careful so that today’s young readers, who will be tomorrow’s scientists and leaders, grow up thinking about genetic engineering and development as both a wonderful and terrible thing. That’s something we all understand on a basic level, but it’s fiction’s role to take those instincts and transform them into characters and worlds for us to explore. I want my novels to present readers with realistic situations in which there is no right or wrong answer, and encourage them to form their own opinions about what the best approach to scientific development is.

     
  6. Cat is a really dynamic character; she is so smart, and brave, but she is put to the rest countless times, not just physically, but also in terms of relationships (Lachlan, Cole), so she really develops as a person as we get to know her. Do you have someone who is an inspiration for the character of Cat?

    I think Cat is an amalgam of a lot of personality traits – some are from me, but many are from other people and characters that I admire. A crucial part of Cat is her vulnerability – she is brave and strong, and willing to risk herself for the greater good, but she is also doubtful and flawed, and vulnerable to being tricked and manipulated. I think we’re all afraid of being duped and controlled, and so that vulnerability speaks to a lot of readers. But I hope Cat’s hope and resilience also speaks to readers, as she’s often down, but definitely not out.

     
  7. What’s next for you after This Cruel Design? Have you already got another project on the back burner or written? 

    I’m currently working on the third and final book in the Mortal Coil series! I’m very excited to share this conclusion to the series and to dive into some of the themes and arcs that the novels are based on. There are still a lot of questions left open in This Cruel Design, and a lot of truths left to uncover.

 

 

~ Thank you, Emily!!

(PS. See you in Portland at the PDX Book Festival, AND here in Seattle with Fonda Lee, soon!)

 

GIVEAWAY

 

YOU have the chance of winning one of the 2 prize copies of This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada (USA only) by ENTERING HERE!

 

 

And to ORDER THE BOOK, click on these handy-dandy links:

 

First, ADD to Goodreads

Order on Amazon

Order at Barnes & Noble

Or through Book Depository (International, Free Shipping *they have the UK edition with the cool DNA coil down the side)

 

I'm at the very end of this blog tour, but here is the link for the whole BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE!

 

 

I really hope you pick this one up, as well as This Mortal Coil, if you haven't had the chance to do that yet (you NEED to before you read this installment).

This is an excellent sci-fi series that will leave you breathless, and keep you guessing, and turning those pages deep into the night. I can NOT wait for the next, and final book in the series!

x ~ K

 

 

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/38316465-this-cruel-design?ac=1&from_search=true
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review 2018-10-24 22:00
BRIGHT RUIN by Vic James
Bright Ruin - Vic James

 

BRIGHT RUIN brings to an end the DARK GIFTS trilogy which began with GILDED CAGE back in 2017. This series delivered on nearly every promise it made back then, resulting in an extremely satisfying experience for this reader.

 

We're back with all the same characters, (well, the ones that are still alive), and resuming their individual dramas in an unsettled London, dominated by Equals. In this series, Equals are born with special powers, magical powers even, which allow them to control all sorts of materials and energies. As such, this world Vic James has created allows those rich in these powers to control and enslave those who are not. (Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and all that.)

 

But what James has so Skillfully done, (Skill being the name given to these "powers"), is that she's woven in political commentary that is eerily on point with today's events all over the real world. Ruling classes and/or class warfare? Check. Political parties scheming and planning to keep the unSkilled quiet and working- with their noses to the grind? Check. Those rich in Skill, (or in our world, dollar bills), easily gain more wealth, while holding their feet to the throats of the those not so blessed? Check. Using fear to keep the masses afraid and not too interested in what's REALLY going on? Check.

 

"Fear was the superpower they all possessed. And unlike Midsummer’s monsters, there was no limit to the number of people they could control with it."

 

What Vic James has done here and done in a timely manner, (I'm looking at you, famous fantasy writers whose series' remain unfinished-you know who you are), is deliver a trilogy that has something for everyone. Even though it's categorized as YA, I would be wary of recommending this to the super young YA crowd, as many of the political points would go over their heads, (and possibly bore them), but also because there are extremely dark themes and violent scenes. That aside, I would recommend this trilogy to everyone else-fans of dark fantasy and horror most especially.

 

My only issue with this final book is that everything seemed to wrap up rather quickly-the denouement came fast and furious, and it seemed like one big blow or discovery after another-rapid-fire style. Not that I'm complaining, but I think I wanted to savor events just a wee bit more.

 

Vic James has proven herself to be an author to watch and I know that I will be watching closely for anything she puts out. If she can make me,(a die hard YA avoider), read and enjoy an entire YA trilogy, than who knows what else she may be capable of? I can hardly wait to find out!

 

In the meantime, I highly recommend this book and the entire trilogy.

 

*Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-10-23 11:00
BLOG TOUR REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: 'The Assassin's Guide to Love & Treason' by Virginia Boecker
An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason - Virginia Boecker

 

This book is OUT TODAY, everyone!!!! I am so excited to be posting about it and reviewing it TODAY. This is absolutely going to go down as one of my favorite reads of the year. I read all over the map (as in sci-if, horror, thrillers, you name it), but this was a truly fun read for me, with only a little bloodshed between the pages. So loosen your bodices and get comfy, and get ready for trip back home to London, England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First; it’s 1601.

 

 

*Thank you (again) to the amazing peeps at Rockstar Book Tours for including me on this blog tour!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, VIRGINIA BOECKER

 

Virginia Boecker is the author of The Witch Hunter series and An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason. A graduate of the University of Texas, she had a decade-long career in technology before quitting to become a full-time writer. When she isn't writing, Virginia likes running, reading, traveling, and trying new things (most recently: learning to drive a boat). She has lived all over the world but currently resides in beautiful Lake Oswego, Oregon with her husband, children, a dog called George and a cat named Thomas.

You can visit Virginia online at virginiaboecker.com or on Instagram @virgboecker  

 

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

Title: AN ASSASSINS GUIDE TO LOVE AND TREASON

Author: Virginia Boecker

Pub. Date: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 384

 

SYNOPSIS:

When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further--kill the queen herself.

Katherine's opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare's newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn't know is that the play is not just a play--it's a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.

The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play's leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.

 

MY REVIEW:

 

Did you know that Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was written to capture the would-be assassin of Queen Elizabeth I?!
And what do you get when you combine a cross-dressing Catholic called Katherine Arundell, out to avenge the death of her father, and put her slap-dab in the middle of merry old London?

 

‘An Assassin’s Guide to Love & Treason’, of course, and it’s quite scrumptious.

This romp through 1601 will have you questioning any history you may think you’ve learned about Elizabethan London, about the dalliances of Shakespearean players, and about the tension between the Protestants and Catholics at that time.

 

Being from England myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a bit of ‘history’ from home to indulge in. I delighted in this witty, clever tale about young Lady Katherine Arundell from Cornwall, who witnesses her father’s execution for being a practicing Catholic. This was because England is now Protestant under Queen Elizabeth I, and to avenge her father’s death, she then goes to London and plans to assassinate Queenie herself. Tall order perhaps.


Katherine constructs a plan, along with her merry band of Catholic conspirators; this means she must infiltrate the upcoming production of ‘Twelfth Night’, and create a new male identity for herself, Kit.

 

This is really at the crux of how clever Virginia Boecker is being with ‘Assassin’s Guide’ (and I know she knows this, because of her most brilliant Author’s Note in the back; only I do hope everyone reads it!). As many of you may know, women weren’t players in Shakespeare’s plays, men were, and they played all the women’s parts too. In order for Katherine to disguise herself in London, she must become Kit (this was a name short for Christopher back then), as well as to be a player on the stage.


She then gets the part as Viola, who (if you haven’t read ‘Twelfth Night’) dresses up as a man in the play. It all becomes quite complicated when Kit becomes drawn to Toby, who is another lead player, and writer, and unbeknownst to Kit, a spy for Elizabeth Regina; he’s trying to deduce which of the Twelfth Night players is the treasonous one. Yet he’s falling for Kit, just as he did previously for the late Kit Marlowe (that’s Christopher Marlowe to you).


Katherine’s own confidence as a ‘man’ mirrors Viola’s growing confidence in the play, particularly as Toby and ‘Kit’ rehearse together, and the themes of bisexuality and questions about societal gender norms play like their own characters in the book. Just like the very irony we see in having men play the parts of women (who play men), this is a double irony, if you will, forces the characters to constantly question their identities, as well as their loyalties. At a time when many only had loyalty to the Crown or to God, questioning your identity was frowned against and was highly confusing, and naturally left you open to being cast out by all sorts of weaknesses such as witchcraft and going back to the Old Religion (Catholicism). You certainly didn’t admit to liking the same sex, even if you did put on a dress for all to see in the Globe Theatre.

 

The ‘supporting cast’ of William Shakespeare, the Wright Brothers, and even the Queen, lend so much color to the tapestry that Boecker has woven for this ‘Guide’, and readers will love it when familiar names and places appear in the story. I’d also say there’s a little bit of everything here to make this an all-round great read: we start off with a murder, and then we have action, romance, and a lot of wit and charm. Shakespeare would approve of all of that.


Virginia has actually taken great pains to do her research and in her Author’s Note points out where she has meddled with the history and where she has kept to the facts. I absolutely loved this small part of the book, as well as the long bibliography she has listed.
While you may not come out with a proper Elizabethan history lesson, or an actual assassin’s guide, you will be thoroughly entertained, and may (like myself) be inclined to read up on your English history and to even re-read some Shakespeare!
This was a solid 5 star read for me.
Jolly good show.

 

**I played Maria in my high school performance of ‘Twelfth Night’.

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

For a chance to win one of 3 copies (US only, sorry) of this amazing book click on this ASSASSIN’S GUIDE GIVEAWAY LINK!

 

And next...links to BUY THE BOOK!

 

On AmazonBook Depository, B&N and iBooks - and add it to Goodreads

 

And now to follow the rest of the blog tour, here’s the FULL SCHEDULE LINK!

 

 

I hope you have been totally inspired and pick up a copy of the book, and GOOD LUCK with the giveaway too! 

x ~ K

 

“If music be the food of love, play on...”

 

 

*Guess how much this is worth?

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/37678396-an-assassin-s-guide-to-love-and-treason?ac=1&from_search=true
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review 2018-10-17 18:45
DRIVING TO GERONIMO'S GRAVE AND OTHER STORIES by Joe Lansdale
Driving to Geronimo's Grave and Other Stories - Joe R. Lansdale

 

DRIVING TO GERONIMO'S GRAVE: AND OTHER STORIES is a shining example of how skilled Joe Lansdale really is. Not one of these tales is like the others-they're all different, all unique and all showcasing why Mr. Lansdale has been called the Champion Mojo Storyteller.

 

The title story is the first here and it's set during the Great Depression. A young man and his sister are tasked with picking up the corpse of their dead uncle and bringing it back home so they can bury him with the proper respect. Being that this is a Lansdale story, things don't go quite as planned. I loved this tale, I loved the characters and I especially loved smart-mouthed Terri. 5*

 

IN THE MAD MOUNTAINS: Mr. Lansdale's homage to Lovecraft was better than most of the actual Lovecraft I've read. I don't even know what else to say because this story was so imaginative-I think each reader needs to have it unfold for them. It had a pulpy feel to it on top of the Lovecraftian base-a unique combination that worked well for me. 5*

 

WRESTLING JESUS: A bullied boy and a bullied man, (albeit a very different kind of bullying), both come together in this tale of wrestling, love gone wrong, and a relationship much like that of father and son. 4*

 

ROBO RAPID: This is a pulp adventure-type story set in the future with a delightful young woman, Sheann, as the protagonist. Years after an invasion here on earth, robots have killed her parents and stolen her siblings. She makes it her mission in life to get them back. Along the way, she makes a friend, sees a musical, and learns that she's braver than even she realized. 5*

 

THE PROJECTIONIST: I first read this story in Lawrence Block's collection IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW. At first this seems to be a tale about a young man lusting after a beautiful young woman. Then it turns into something else entirely. 5*

 

As an aside about THE PROJECTIONIST: it's fascinating to me that an author can gaze at a painting and come up with an entire backstory for it. In this case the painting was The Usherette by Edward Hopper and here it is:

 

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The last tale in this book EVERYTHING SPARKLES IN HELL brings us to visit Nat Love. A black cowboy featured in the novel PARADISE SKY and a few other novellas, Nat returns as a bounty hunter tracking down two no-good men. (Loosely based on the real man, yes there were black cowboys, despite their absence from most American history books.) Along the way he meets up with Chocktaw, (a tracker of some renown), and the biggest she-bear either of them has ever seen. I loved visiting with Nat again and he will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

What I especially loved about this collection are the tidbits from the author himself revealing how the stories came about. In the digital review copy I received, these came after the stories rather than before, and I liked that. (It seems that, in previewing the finished copy online, these are now forewords to the stories, rather than afterwords.) I enjoyed reading them after reading the tales themselves and seeing how the ideas germinated in the head of the author, sometimes sprouting out fully formed, according to him. Once again, I find myself fascinated by Mr. Lansdale's writing process and abilities.

 

I was pretty sure I was going to love this collection of stories even before I started reading it, and I was right. It's the skilled writing of Mr. Lansdale that gets to me every time. No matter what he writes about, it can be counted on to capture and hold your attention. It can be counted on to contain some humor and real life observations. It can be counted on to satisfy. Because his characters are so true to life- complicated and diverse, they make me feel connected not only to them, but to the world as well. It's a gift and Joe has it. That is all I can say.

 

My highest recommendation!

 

*Thank you to Subterranean Press and to NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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