Tag Archives: First Reads

In My Letterbox (11): Books to week ending Sunday 24 June 2012

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Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors or which I buy;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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Firstly, my apologies for not posting for a couple of weeks…lots of real life issues, starting with my RA being so badly exacerbated by having to stand for two days at work whilst doing some testing that I couldn’t think, let alone walk for most of the time for several days!  Mostly better now (in time for work!) so I will try to get back on track.  I did get quite a bit of reading done though, and added to my manuscript (but not posted 😦 ) reviews.  Then a few other things landed on my plate and, well, something had to give 😦 On a brighter note, I’m hoping to get back to regular posting again – thanks for sticking around 🙂  This post is the one I was working on for 24 June; my next will summarise all the books acquired in the meantime!

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. Doxology by Brian Holers

DoxologyDoxology by Brian Holers

Vernon Davidson is an angry man. After a lifetime of abuse and loss the 61-year-old is ready to get back at God, his co-workers, and everyone else is in his north Louisiana hometown. He drinks too much to numb the pain, shuns his friends and embarrasses himself in the community. The once-cautious Vernon spirals into a reckless mess.

Only when he is reunited with his estranged nephew Jody is he forced to confront his situation. Jody is struggling in equal parts after inflicting a self-imposed exile upon himself by fleeing the family, and thereby himself, for a new life thousands of miles away. Now his father, Vernon’s brother, is dying and Vernon agrees to retrieve him for his brother’s sake.

Jody embarks on a reluctant journey back to his Louisiana home and the two men together embark on a journey that will ultimately change their lives.

Brian Holers’s Doxology examines an impossibly difficult question: how does a man go about forgiving a God he has grown to despise after the tragedies and endless disappointments he has faced?

Follow Vernon and Jody on their road from loss to healing in this deep and moving book that will challenge and surprise you, as it takes you deep into the backwaters of rural Louisiana.

Doxology does for small town Louisiana men what Steel Magnolias did for small-town Louisiana women, exposing flaws while showcasing their inner strengths. It is a tale of grandfathers, fathers, sons and brothers, and recreates family dynamics and memories in a way that forms a doxology, a song of praise for the male family bond, the emotional ties men conceal from the world and each other.

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I think I shall need my hanky, if it really is like Steel Magnolias…

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2. The 5 Greatest Spankings of All Time by Rob Wood

The 5 Greatest Spankings of All TimeThe 5 Greatest Spankings of All Time by Rob Wood

“The 5 Greatest Spankings of all Time” invites you to step into a fifty-five year old time capsule, to a simpler time when the misadventures of three young brothers growing up on a small ranch in the 1950’s stretch their parent’s patience and sanity to the breaking point. Taking place in the shadows of World War II, this tale not only unfolds the amusing and humorous events that led up to the “5 Greatest Spankings” but it conveys a flavorful and reminiscent glimpse of a time gone by, as the tastes and smells of the 50’s come rushing back. Readers of any adult generation will be entertained by the boy’s ability to effortlessly transform relatively innocent intentions into calamity and chaos. Laced throughout the chapters is an unmistakable underlying message addressing family dynamics and relationships that will surely summon to mind events of your own childhood. May laughter and joy be your companions as you journey through the adventures with these 1950’s versions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

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I just know I’m going to be so jealous about the freedom allowed these children…but not the spankings! LOL

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3. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your KingdomThe Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Debut author Christopher Healy takes us on a journey with four imperfect princes and their four improbable princesses, all of whom are trying to become perfect heroes–a fast-paced, funny, and fresh introduction to a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.

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It’s a glorious old-fashioned hardback, with dust jacket over a red “linen” cover with gold lettering. How absolutely perfect 😀
I have meantime read this book, the review is in manuscript and so will be appearing soon. In brief…it’s brilliant!

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4. Deadwater Lane by Stephen Barker

Deadwater LaneDeadwater Lane by Stephen Barker

Christopher Edmonds is on a mission to understand his old risk-taking, tearaway self.
There was an accident; an old man was killed one night when Christo and his mates were out racing their cars. Christo got the blame, and a head injury – that means his memory is not the best.
Soon Christo is back on the streets, without his licence and doing community service, helping out a lonely old man, Jimmy McBreen. What’s worse – his so called ‘friend’ has stolen his girl!
Inspired by a copy of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, he begins to plot revenge – it’s just that sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expected.
A fast-paced, gasoline soaked story with a beating heart.

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I just love face-paced thriller mysteries!

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books bought from the hospital’s charity sale shelves:

1. Frankenstein #1 by Dean Koontz

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #1)Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic storoes of all time.  If you think you know the story, you know only half the truth.  Get ready for the mystery, the myth, the terror, and the magic of…

DEAN KOONTZ’S PRODIGAL SON

Every city has its secrets.  But none as terrible as this.  His name is Deucalion, a tattoed man of mysterious origin, a sleight-of-reality artist who’s travelled the centuries with a secret worse than death.  He arrives as a serial killer stalks the streets, a killer who carefully selects his victims for the humanity that it missing in himself.  Detective Carson O’Connor is coll, cynical, and every bit as tough as she looks.  Her partner Michael Maddison would back her all the way to Hell itself – and that just may be where this case ends up.  Fot the no-nonsense O’Connor is suddenly talking about an ages-old conspiracy, a near immortal race of beings, and killers that are more – and less – than human.  Soon it will be clear that as crazy as she sounds, the truth is even more ominous.  For their quarry isn’t merely a homicidal maniac – but his deranged maker.

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It’s a Dean Koontz book 😀

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2. Frankenstein #2 by Dean Koontz

City of Night (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #2)City of Night by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time. If you think you know the legend, you know only half the truth. Here is the mystery, the myth, the terror, and the magic of…

DEAN KOONTZ’S CITY OF NIGHT

They are stronger, heal better, and think faster than any humans ever created–and they must be destroyed. But not even Victor Helios–once Frankenstein–can stop the engineered killers he’s set loose on a reign of terror through modern-day New Orleans. Now the only hope rests in a one-time “monster” and his all-too-human partners, Detectives Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison. Deucalion’s centuries-old history began as Victor’s first and failed attempt to build the perfect human–and it is fated to end in the ultimate confrontation between a damned creature and his mad creator. But first Deucalion must destroy a monstrosity not even Victor’s malignant mind could have imagined–an indestructible entity that steps out of humankind’s collective nightmare with one purpose: to replace us.

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 More Dean Koontz…. 🙂

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3. Frankenstein #3 by Dean Koontz

Dead and Alive (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #3)Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time. If you think you know the legend, you know only half the truth. Now the mesmerizing saga concludes. . . .

As a devastating hurricane approaches, as the benighted creations of Victor Helios begin to spin out of control, as New Orleans descends into chaos and the future of humanity hangs in the balance, the only hope rests with Victor’s first, failed attempt to build the perfect human. Deucalion’s centuries-old history began as the original manifestation of a soulless vision–and it is fated to end in the ultimate confrontation between a damned creature and his mad creator. But first they must face a monstrosity not even Victor’s malignant mind could have conceived–an indestructible entity that steps out of humankind’s collective nightmare with powers, and a purpose, beyond imagining.

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… and yet more…I feel a Fest coming on! I’m not sure why it says “the saga concludes” – I have Book Four, which I’ve just noticed I haven’t entered in an IML!  Maybe it will make it into a future “Owned Unread” Post…

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4. Demon Seed by by Dean Koontz

Demon SeedDemon Seed by Dean Koontz

A woman is imprisoned and tortured by her state-of-the-art computer security system — and its perverse desire…

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Variety – a Dean Koontz book not in the Frankenstein series!!

BOoks i’ve bought

1. The Secret Chamber by Patrick Woodhead

The Secret ChamberThe Secret Chamber by Patrick Woodhead

Conspiracies, secrets and high-octane adventure in the Congo. Another gripping thriller from the author of The Forbidden Temple.

People have been disappearing in what the explorer Stanley called the black heart of Africa — the impenetrable forests of northern Congo. But when a brilliant young English doctor vanishes, alarm bells really start to ring. Intelligence chief Jack Milton sends a message to his godson Luca Matthews (The Forbidden Temple hero) in the Himalayas asking him to go to Africa and find Joshua. Reluctantly Luca obeys, but he is no longer the man he once was, traumatised by his part in the death of his best friend, his legendary climbing nerve shot to pieces. Meanwhile in Africa, mining troubleshooter and brilliant flying pilot, Beatrice (Bear) Makuru, also wants to brave the northern wilderness. Coltan is the mineral without which no mobile phone or computer would work. Explosions have been wrecking coltan mines. Bear needs to find out why. Her journey with Luca to Africa’s black heart is the beginning of an utterly terrifying sequence of events, uncovering a secret so simple yet so startling that it could rock the foundations of the civilised world.

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I bought this in the supermarket.  Having read the blurb, I decded an uncomplicated action book was just what I needed right then.  I have already read this one…so as usual, keep a look out for the review, which will follow…eventually!

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2. Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book by Glenys O’Connell

A straightforward, no nonsense guide to writing – and finishing – your book, no matter what your experience level.
All over the world, at this very moment, thousands of writers are starting a novel, full of enthusiasm for their ideas. But the vast majority of those novels will fizzle by Chapter Three – an estimated 98 per cent! And their disappointed creators will put their work away and give up on their dream. It’s not that they aren’t talented and it’s not that they don’t have good ideas – what they lack are the basic tools.
In this book you’ll learn how to:
* Each chapter comes with assignments that help you apply what you’ve learned to your own new or work-in-progress book.
* Identify the kind of novel you want to write, and understand the elements of a good, workable idea
* Understand story structure and how to use it to make your novel flow
* Create an outline that will get you through the dry spells of Writer’s Block
* Know the important elements you must have at the start and end of each chapter
* Build characters you’ll love to work with – and readers will love to read about
* Points of View – just who’s telling this story, anyway?
* Develop plot points and sub-plots to add texture to your story
* Understand the two different types of character motivation – and how to use them
* Tap into the magic of dialogue, and learn when narrative and backstory can help, or hinder, your story
* Keep your story flowing to a satisfying ending with all the loose ends tied up.
* By the end of the book, using the assignments, you should be working on your own chapter three and ready to sail through to The End.

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Officially, this is an IMM book, but I wanted to list it early. I saw this book in Lynsey’s Letterbox Love post of 17 June over on Narratively Speaking. At 77p for the kindle version, I thought I’d give it a go. I doubt I’ll ever write a book – or even a short story – but I might pick up some tips to make my reviews more interesting. Then again…never say never!!!

There isn’t a Goodreads entry for this book (yet), so the image is from Glenys O’Connell’s blog; if you click on it, it will take you to her blog.

free books from Mills & boon

1. The Spy’s Secret Family (Top Secret Deliveries #2) by Cindy Dees

The Spy's Secret FamilyThe Spy’s Secret Family by Cindy Dees

“Nobody’s messing with my baby”
Nick Cass wakes up in a hospital room with a case of amnesia–and a beautiful woman at his bedside. He only remembers that he was held captive for five grueling years. Surely he wouldn’t forget someone as easy on the eyes as Laura Delaney. But Laura assures him that she and their son are very real.
Laura never forgot the man who stole her heart six years ago–even after he disappeared. She knows Nick will someday have to face his demons. But that day is suddenly upon them when Nick’s past catches up to him and their son is kidnapped. Now he and Laura must rescue their child–and their last chance for a future together.

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Sent to me free by Mills and Boon

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2. Operation Baby Rescue (Top Secret Deliveries #3) by Beth Cornelison

Operation Baby RescueOperation Baby Rescue by Beth Cornelison

Elise Norris wants nothing more than to be a mother. Her joy turns to agony when newborn baby girl Grace dies mysteriously—before the single mom could even say goodbye. But grief-stricken Elise can’t shake the feeling that the final chapter of Grace’s story isn’t yet written….

As he works through his own tragic loss, widower Jared Coleman and his one-year-old daughter become captivated by Elise. But while investigating the strange circumstances behind Grace’s death, their new friend teeters close to an explosive secret. Can Jared protect her—or is he in over his head in a desperate life-or-death struggle?

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Sent ot me free by Mills and Boon

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Rereading this post, I had quite a haul that week! I’m going to need to take a long hard look at my TBR list when choosing what to read next, though they may have to wait until I get a few more reviews posted! It’s surprising how much time it takes to write and format a post. I thought this one was pretty much finished bar a few formatting tweaks; I’ve been sat here for about an hour and a half! I also realised that one of the things that stopped me posting was that I’ve been getting a number of these books onto or updated on Goodreads.
I hope that you all have been reading and acquiring in a similar fashion – leave me a link in the comments section and I’ll pop by and and have a look, and gain more inspiration!

Tuesday Totals (2) 2012: Week 24

Tuesday Totals – 10 – 17 June 2012

As I’m getting a bit behind with books reviews and blog changes, I am writing a weekly round-up of my blog activities – accomplished and planned – to try to keep myself on track, focused and with a sense of achievement! There are seven sections of activities; this post details their status for the week 11–17 June 2012.

Currently Reading

1. The Secret Chamber by Patrick Woodhead (p45 of 410)

I bought this paperback at the supermarket.  It’s already taken us to three remote locations on three continents.  I want to know what’s happened to Joshua.

Finished This Week

1. Gull on the Roof by Derek Tangye

I picked up this book to find out more about Lama, one of Derek’s cats. She finally made an appearance on the very last page! Luckily there are lots more of Derek’s books to discover and she will be in those 🙂

2. Unforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy

Most of the review is written – plus I have notes I took whilst reading this book. Now I just have to knit all the bits together into something coherent.

3. Columbus Avenue Boys by David Carraturo

I won this book on an ebook giveaway by the author. I’m enjoyed this book…I like the writing style and the technique of jumping around between decades and generations. I’ll be starting the next in the series in the coming week and getting the review for this one written in June – as promised!

Reviews in Manuscript

I like writing with a pen (or pencil) and paper. In addition, it is more convenient to write by hand, since in the time available, I don’t have access to a computer 🙂 Look out for these reviews coming soon:

1. Defying Drakon by Carole Mortimer
2. Hot Girl’s Friend by Lisa Scott
3. Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops
4. The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsey
5. Scarlett’s by A. L. Collins
6. The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells
7. The Wedding Story by Dee Tenorio
8. Little Girls: A Novella by Elton Lord
9. Unforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy

Reviews Posted

1. Echos of the Sun by Kathleen Ann Gallagher
2. Horses of the Sun by Leanne Owens

TBR Shortlist

I’ve been using a very rough priority scheme to choose my next book to read: author gifts (AG) get priority, followed by First Reads (FR) wins and then anything else I fancy! I thought it might be a good idea if I gave this a little more thought and also worked in some of the NetGalley (NG) books for which I’ve been approved.

My immediate reading list is:

1. Cameron Nation by David Carraturo (AG)
2. Growing up Wired by David Wallace Fleming (AG)
3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (NG)
4. Timepiece by Myra McEntire
5. Catastrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird (FR)
6. Doll Parts by Wayne Simmons (FR)

Blog updates completed

1. Tuesday Totals – two posts made, template created
2. Bookish Funny Friday – three more posts scheduled

Blog Updates Planned

1. Review Policy – mostly written, partly typed
2. Reviews: My thoughts and philosophy – written, partly typed
3. Tuesday Totals – explanation page to be written, a logo would be nice, but not sure what (and how)
4. Monthly Musings – explanation page to be written, logo to be created; two posts written, need to be typed
5. Blog Improvements – section needed with to do list

Some progress made in the last week; it’s been a busy one in real life. Having a list to go to means I make useful and directed progress though 🙂
What do you have planned for your blog?  How do you decide which book to read next???

Sunburnt by M. D. Keating: review

SunburntSunburnt by M.D. Keating

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An unemployed alcoholic writer, coping with the death of his father, is unwittingly drawn into a scandal of EPIC proportions, when his estranged childhood best friend, now a very successful offshore banker, disappears with BILLIONS of dollars that don’t belong to him … Follow our unlikely hero through a collage of rogue characters into a dangerous world of CORRUPTION, GREED, DRUGS, ARMS, and WAR …

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Sunburnt is nicely printed and bound, with easy-on-the-eye text. When I flicked through the book after opening my package at work, my first thought was “Oh heck, it’s a play!”, but I started at the beginning on page 5 (I’ve wondered since I was small why some books start numbering the story pages by counting the leaves in the book…) and by the time I got to page 7, I was hooked!

I had to stop to cook tea, feed the cats and so on, but I finished the book in around 24 hours elapsed time.  It is an excellent fast-paced book. I found the layout easy to read; the centre justification was different without being distracting.  Being a very visual person, this novel way of laying out a book really appealed to me.

The story itself was interesting; I found the change of viewpoint that came from the introduction of different interleaved characters refreshing. I enjoyed the twists of the plot and I really cared about the characters and wanted the best for them. The ending tied up all loose ends to my satisfaction.

All in all, a great read and one I would recommend to anyone.

Thank you M.D. and Goodreads for picking me to receive Sunburnt in the Goodreads Giveaway.

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. TBC/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
[Link in right hand sidebar]

Tuesday Totals (1) 2012: Week 23

Tuesday Totals – The First

As I’m getting a bit inundated with books and reviews, I thought I would start a weekly round-up of my blog activities – accomplished and planned! There are seven sections of activities; their status for the week 04–10 June 2012 are all given below.

Currently Reading

1. Gull on the Roof by Derek Tangye (65%)

I started this some time ago; it’s a print book I picked up at a table top sale. I recognised the author’s writing style from a cat story anthology I have. In a fit of tidying up, I “lost” the book, finding it again this week. A few “before sleep” sessions should see it finished!

2. Unforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy (55%)

I got this ebook during a weekend Amazon giveaway. It’s been a slow read, partly because I’ve also been catching up on the print books I’ve won and I’ve found this book not very inspiring.

Finished This Week

A Vampire’s Dominion by V.M.K. Fewings.

This is a Goodreads First Reads win from a few weeks ago. My review will follow.
The was the only book I finished this week because I’m trying to catch up on reviews, and I’ve been doing quite a bit of blog tidying and improving.

Reviews in Manuscript

I like writing with a pen (or pencil) and paper. In addition, it is more convenient to write by hand, since in the time available, I don’t have access to a computer 🙂 Look out for these reviews coming soon:

1. Defying Drakon by Carole Mortimer
2. Hot Girl’s Friend by Lisa Scott
3. Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops
4. The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsey
5. Scarlett’s by A. L. Collins
6. The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells
7. The Wedding Story by Dee Tenorio
8. Little Girls: A Novella by Elton Lord

Reviews Posted

1. Snakes by Travis Heermann: a further review
2. Twined by A.L. Collins
3. Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

TBR Shortlist

I’ve been using a very rough priority scheme to choose my next book to read: author gifts (AG) get priority, followed by First Reads (FR) wins and then anything else I fancy! I thought it might be a good idea if I gave this a little more thought and also worked in some of the NetGalley (NG) books for which I’ve been approved.

My immediate reading list is:

1. Columbus Avenue Boys by David Carraturo (AG)
2. Cameron Nation by David Carraturo (AG)
3. Growing up Wired by David Wallace Fleming (AG)
4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (NG)
5. Timepiece by Myra McEntire
6. Catastrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird (FR)
7. Doll Parts by Wayne Simmons (FR)

Blog updates completed

1. First in a Series Reading Challenge updated with comments and books claimed
2. Second in a Series Reading Challenge updated with comments and books claimed
3. WBTC2012 Reading Challenge updated with comments and books claimed
4. Fun Things section reordered, with a separate page each for BFF, IMM and Letterbox Love.

Blog Updates Planned

1. Review Policy – mostly written, partly typed
2. Reviews: My thoughts and philosophy – written, partly typed
3. Tuesday Totals – explanation page to be written, a logo would be nice, but not sure what (and how)
4. Monthly Musings – explanation page to be written, logo to be created; two posts written, need to be typed
5. Blog Improvements – section needed with to do list

All that should keep me busy!

Snakes by Travis Heermann: A further review and more thoughts

SnakesSnakes by Travis Heermann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eddie, a young, pretty single mom, is trying to do the right thing by her three-year-old daughter. She really is. With no education, no job, and a string of loser boyfriends behind her, she faces hard decisions every day. Gas for the car, or food for Joy? She’s already been forced to move back into her mother’s decrepit old trailer in Shady Acres Trailer Court in rural Arkansas. Should she get a normal job working long hours for minimum wage, or should she put on her stiletto heels, bikini bra and micro-skirt and go back to exotic dancing so she can bring home fistfuls of cash for a few hours’ work? When she catches her daughter playing with handfuls of baby copperhead snakes behind the trailer, the choice gets a lot easier: get out of there by the quickest means possible. But at what cost? And is that strange man the devil or her knight in shining armor?

View all my Goodreads reviews

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I’ve been meaning to write this post since a week after I finished Snakes. I have in fact written several fantastic versions of this post in my head whilst driving; unfortunately you won’t be reading any of them! It has taken me another fortnight from writing this post by hand (I’m like that) to getting round to typing it up.

In my original review of Snakes, I said that I was unsatisfied with the ending. On further reflection, I realised that what I felt about the ending was far more complicated.

PLOT SPOILER ALERT

I WILL BE DISCUSSING WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF THE STORY SO STOP NOW IF YOU WANT IT TO REMAIN A SURPRISE

xxxx WARNING ENDS xxxx

I realised that what disturbed and in some ways disappointed me about the end of the story was that there was no chance for repentance and redemption. Eddie wasn’t a particularly bad person and she was doing all she could to shield her daughter, Joy, from the ‘bad’ side of life. Eddie made some bad choices and gave into some temptations, but she was aiming to get away from the seedy aspects of her life. For this reason, I still feel that her punishment came out of an entrapment and without a chance to appeal.

The way the book ends, you don’t know if Eddie lives or dies. Earlier in the book we are told that copperhead bites are rarely fatal, but Eddie suffers a bite in a very unusual place. I’m not sure which would be worse for her: to have her life ebb away knowing her daughter has been taken, or to recover and, I expect, to spend the rest of her life trying, and most likely failing, to find her daughter.

I wanted to know more about the stranger and his plans for Joy. I couldn’t decide if he really aimed to let Joy shine in the world as she was supposed to (and who was he to say that illuminating and inspiring her mother’s life wasn’t sufficient?) or whether he wanted to prevent her doing so, despite what he appeared to be saying. Was he Good or Evil, Angel or Devil? Am I reading into his looks the effects of thousands of years of accumulated symbolism?

I think that this story hit home because we all make bad choices and compromises in our lives; few of us are all we can be. Sometimes, the only motivation for going on is the hope that we will make better choices and be able to avoid those soul-sucking compromises. Snakes gave me a glimpse into a world where that hope does not exist – and I don’t like what I saw. I don’t want to live in that Hope-less world. As the tale of Pandora explains, when all the demons of pestilence are released, the tiny, fragile Hope that struggles out of the box after the demons escape is all that keeps mankind going.

Snakes challenged me to take stock of my life, and provoked me into being more honest with myself than perhaps I had been before. I didn’t like some of what I saw there either! The removal, in the story, of Hope shocked me profoundly, which is why I didn’t – and still don’t – “like” the story. In my opinion, it is not a story to like, it is one to experience.

I can not find a suitable adjective to describe this story: thought-provoking is too anodyne and rather overused. Snakes provokes a gut-wrenching emotional response, perhaps because by using snakes as a motif, it speaks to one of our most primitive fears.

I said this in my first review, and it still holds true a month later: For a 30 page story to have such a deep, powerful and abiding effect shows that Travis Heermann is a master, ranking up there with Aesop and the Greek myth writers.

In My Letterbox (8): Sunday 03 June 2012

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Welcome to a combined
In My Letterbox and In My Inbox

Just the three books this week, hence the combined IML and IMI.  I’m looking forward to getting to each one of these 🙂

The Book I won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. Alaskan Hearts by Teri Wilson
Alaskan HeartsAlaskan Hearts by Teri Wilson

Former Alaskan sled-dog musher Ben Grayson is still grieving the tragic loss of his dog team. So much that he put the reins—and his dreams—away.

Now a photographer, Ben’s covering the Gold Rush Trail sled-dog race. He’s surprised his heart isn’t more guarded around lovely journalist Clementine Phillips—until he learns that Clementine plans to handle a sled-dog team herself. Ben can’t bear the thought of Clementine in danger.

So he comes up with a compromise—one to keep her close…forever.

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A bit of summer escapism…to the cold and snow of an Alaskan winter – just right for for a wet English summer!!

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The Book gifted by Goldratt UK:

1. Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt

Critical ChainCritical Chain by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Powerful yet simple techniques to solve project management’s toughest problems. This book teaches companies to drastically cut project development times resulting in early completion within budget and without compromising quality or specifications. Project managers and your teams will benefit from Goldratt’s techniques of how to remain focused on the few critical areas and how to prevent your attention from being divided among all of the how to prevent your attention from being divided among all of the projects tasks and resources. Especially useful for dealing with one of the most difficult and pressing management challenges: developing highly innovative new products.
About the Author: One of the world s most sought after business leaders author and educator, Dr. Eli Goldratt. Eli Goldratt had been described by Fortune Magazine as a guru to industry and by Business Week as a genius. His charismatic, stimulating, yet sometimes unconventional style has captured the attention of audiences throughout the world. Eli is a true thinker who provokes others to think.
Eli Goldratt is the creator of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and is the author of 8 books, including the business best sellers The Goal, It’s Not Luck, and Critical Chain. Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints is used by thousands of companies, and is taught in hundreds of colleges, universities, and business schools. His books have sold over 3 million copies and have been translated into 23 languages. Goldratt’s fascinating work as an author, educator and business pioneer had resulted in the promulgation of TOC into many facets of society and has transformed management thinking throughout the world.

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I read The Goal about 20 years ago when my boyfriend had it as part of a course. I recently read a couple of other of Eli Goldratt’s books that I picked up at a table top sale. Goldratt UK is giving away copies of The Goal and Critical Chain to interested parties, via their website. I’m delighted to have received this and am looking forward to reading it.

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The Book gifted by the author for her 30th birthday!

1. Coffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter

Coffee at Little AngelsCoffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter

Phillip, Sarah, Kaitlyn, Caleb, Maxine, Grant, Melanie and Josh grew up in a small town where they spent their high school years together as an inseparable clique. But high school has ended, and they are all living their own “grown up” lives, each under the impression that their group has basically come to an end. When Phillip dies in a hit and run accident, Kaitlyn summons the others to all come back home, forcing a reunion that no one is particularly interested in partaking in.

Coffee at Little Angels follows how each character deals with the death of a childhood friend while at the same time dealing with their own ignored demons after years of separation. Events unfold as the group tries to rekindle the friendship they once shared to honour the memory of a friend they will never see again

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I found this limited free giveaway on Amazon through an event on Goodreads…I’m looking forward to discovering a new-to-me author.

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That’s it for this week. I’m working on the next installment of IMI listing my Amazon downloads and I have some more Netgalley books to tell you about in a future IMM.

I hope you all have a pile of lovely books on your lists – leave a link in your comment and I’ll pop over and have a look 🙂

In My Letterbox (6): Sunday 20 May 2012

Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

I’ve been a very lucky girl again this week with four First Reads books arriving In My Letterbox.  I’m enjoying very much being part of The Story Siren’s weekly meme (click on the picture above for more details).

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. The Haunted Grove and other stories by Tim Jeffreys


The Haunted Grove & other storiesThe Haunted Grove & other stories by Tim Jeffreys

“The Haunted Grove by Tim Jeffreys – a collection of nine tales of terror – has something for everyone. There are short shorts and long shorts, with storylines from the straightforward to the surreal. Themes range from the near-SF tone of “Three Winters”, through the mental powers of “The Thought She Blurted Out” to the magic of the title story. As a showcase of the author’s versatility, this collection serves its purpose well.” Review from The Horrorzine

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Perhaps summer (?!) is the best time to read these horror stories – when it’s NOT dark and the wind isn’t howling around the doors….

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2. Bone Machine by C. N. James

Bone MachineBone Machine by C.N. James

The Libra Robotics and Cybernetics Corporation robots have done the impossible. War, poverty, and slavery are nearly extinct. Worldwide employment is at an all time high. And the new workers’ paradigm: a four to six hour work day. The robots take care of the rest, acting as a personal substitute—like a clone, with all of your skills and abilities. Nearly everyone can spend time with family, pursue artistic and athletic ventures, become entrepreneurs—or anything else they’d like to do. Everyone except those working for Libra Corp.

Grayson Cornel doesn’t sleep much anymore. His life is in shambles. His father is teetering on death. He was recently promoted by Libra Corp, but his predecessor, Zoe Asher is wanted for murder and is now targeting him. On top of that, his first assignment in his new position has ended in disaster.

The last of the world’s sweatshops in Haiti had finally placed an order for Libra Corp robots, and it was Grayson’s job to make sure that the order was filled. But when the robots arrived, something went horribly wrong. They disappeared, leaving only dead bodies in their wake. No Libra Corp robot had ever killed anyone before, so Grayson is sent to Haiti to figure out what went wrong.

What he discovers begins to unravel a dark secret Libra Corp has been keeping from the public. Something so shocking that Grayson risks ending utopia to put a stop to it.

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I am so pleased I won this book 😀 It’s going to be quite high on my “read and review now” list…when I get that written!

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3. Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer

Alice Parker's Metamorphosis (Book 1 of the New Adventure Series for Children)Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer

Feisty thirteen-year-old Alice Parker knows something isn’t right. Aches and pains have started, she hardly sleeps and her craving for fruit is out of control. Suddenly she is top of the class in every subject. Feeling at odds with the world and being bullied by the ‘coven’ at school, Alice can’t take much more. Only when she collapses and experiences a life-changing transformation does she learn why she is different. But with this new identity comes responsibility and Alice isn’t convinced she can rise to the challenge. She just wants to be normal! The fact is she’s anything but.

Forgotten tales of a magical society are catapulted into the daily life of strong, memorable female characters who readers will grow to love. An intriguing blend of realism, suspense and fantasy, a must-read for girls of 7+.

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This sounds so intriguing! I may have to get a copy for my niece 😉

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4. Catastrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird

Catastrophically ConsequentialCatastrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird

This prequel-sequel to “Hideous Exuberance” incorporates non-linear plots; comical rants and disturbing inner monologues; stream of consciousness dream sequences; psychedelic, surrealistic scenarios and time-traveling characters. Revel in the chaotic confusion of sociopathic celebrities, suburban swingers, suicidal trust fund girls, decadent jet setters, D-list standup comics, medieval princesses, sinister passive-aggressive jokers, “Evilangelists”, and a host of other lost souls and disreputable, vindictive losers, as they search in vain for metaphysical clarity.

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I’ve read the first story and my thought was “Bizarre…in a good way”.  I’ve read a few other reviews and they reinforce the idea that I should leave the concept of normality behind when I read this.

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My TBR list is getting longer! I have made a May Resolution to finish off all my lists:

  1. Free Kindle Books
  2. Owned Unread physical books (that haven’t been in an IML)
  3. Books Read But Not Yet Reviewed
  4. NetGalley ebooks received
  5. Short Term Reading List

and then to get reviewing my backlog of read books!  Watch out for the lists in future IMM slots, while I try to refrain from buying new books and downloading free ebooks!!!

Happy reading to all – may the books you crave find their way to your letter box!  Be sure to leave a link in your comment – I will visit and, software permitting <sigh>, leave a comment.

In My Letterbox (4): Sunday 06 May 2012

Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

Once again, I have been very restrained this week and have not been out and bought any more books.  I really must pass on some of my large collection before I bring too many more into my crowded house – or else maybe I should move into a library!  If I get a choice, then I’d want to live in the one at Killerton House in Devon, it really is beautiful and peaceful.

On that dream, here are the books that dropped through my letterbox this past week….

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. A Vampire Dominion by V M K Fewings

A Vampire's DominionA Vampire’s Dominion by V.M.K. Fewings

Vampires Jadeon and Orpheus have a few things in common. They both hate each other. They’ve both killed each other.

And they both just woke up in the same body.

When a vampiric reincarnation goes tragically wrong, two immortals find themselves ever-meshing into the newly-formed William. To make matters worse, someone is poisoning London’s vampires and no immortal is safe.

William’s struggle to come to terms with his identity and maintain his survival leads him to the beautiful and intelligent Inspector Ingrid Jansen, a woman who not only awakens his heart but may also help him save the city.

Embarking on a perilous adventure, William and Ingrid struggle to decipher ancient clues while staying one step ahead of the pursuing Stone Masters. Scouring the city from the aristocratic heights of its regal facade to the darkest deviancy of its corrupted core, they search for a way to reverse his catastrophe—and save all vampires from a growing threat far worse than the Stone Lords ever were.

Rising straight from the ashes of the shocking ending of A Vampire’s Reckoning, V.M.K. Fewings brings faithful fans back to The Stone Masters Vampire Series right where they left off, while guiding new readers into the embrace of London’s nightwalkers.

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I am developing a taste for vampire books and so was delighted to win A Vampire Dominion in Goodreads First Reads competition.  I’m looking forward to reading this.  VMK included a lovely note with the book – with the envelope complete with a monogrammed seal.

2. Doll Parts by Wayne Simmons

Doll PartsDoll Parts by Wayne Simmons

Roughly 99% of Belfast’s population suddenly dropped dead.

Some have risen again, and a horde of the beautiful undead is descending upon the city, wreaking bloody vengeance on the few left alive.

An unlikely group of survivors flee the carnage, heading for the city’s main airport. But their refuge there may quickly come to an end as the living dead close in to besiege the living.

Doll Parts is the sequel to cult zombie-horror novel, Drop Dead Gorgeous.

PREVIEWS:

‘Doll Parts is a verbal gut-punch, viciously beautiful in its delivery. Simmons takes the femme fatale to a whole new level in this remorseless look at a world gone to hell’ (Sarah Elliot, Pop Culture Monster)

‘Brilliant, bloody and beautiful’ (Garry Charles, Shock Horror Magazine)

‘One of the best new horror writers of the decade. Wayne Simmons takes everything you fear and exploits it with no apologies’ (James Melzer, author of Escape)

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I have been a very lucky girl – this is another of my Goodreads First Reads wins.  It will be interesting to see what I think of this book – I prefer my zombies more in the Shaun of the Dead style…

3. Snakes by Travis Heermann

SnakesSnakes by Travis Heermann

The easiest path usually leads straight into a minefield.

Eddie, a young, pretty single mom, is trying to do the right thing by her three-year-old daughter. She really is. With no education, no job, and a string of loser boyfriends behind her, she faces hard decisions every day. Gas for the car, or food for Joy? She’s already been forced to move back into her mother’s decrepit old trailer in Shady Acres Trailer Court in rural Arkansas. Should she get a normal job working long hours for minimum wage, or should she put on her stiletto heels, bikini bra and micro-skirt and go back to exotic dancing so she can bring home fistfuls of cash for a few hours’ work? When she catches her daughter playing with handfuls of baby copperhead snakes behind the trailer, the choice gets a lot easier: get out of there by the quickest means possible. But at what cost? And is that strange man the devil or her knight in shining armor?

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I read this book on the day it arrived – you can read my review here

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There we go, three more widely varying books for me to get my teeth into…and I’m looking forward to it!

Tallis: review

TallisTallis by M.C. Rae

Kindle and ARC Cover

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Empire of Andresium is threatened by the corruption of the immortals, ancient beings given the gift of eternal life after the death of the last reigning empress. A prophecy speaks of their eventual downfall at the hands of one of their own, however. Tallis is known by most simply as “The Loren,” and seeks to avoid her destiny while trying herself to remain untainted by the decaying morals and indifference to the fates of men that plague her kind. As the events of the prophecy begin to unfold, Tallis finds herself conflicted between upholding her dedication to justice, and falling victim to the ramifications of following the desires of her own heart.

View all my Goodreads reviews

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Overall I enjoyed this book and would really like to read the rest of the series.  One thing I particularly enjoyed was that the narrator did not try to explain the book’s universe in terms of ours.  The reader was assumed to be of the universe, and explanations were given with an amount of pre-knowledge assumed.  I really enjoy this kind of story telling as it makes me feel part, albeit an initially ill-educated one, of the world.

The language used in Tallis is beautiful.  I described it as “archaic” in my Goodreads updates as I couldn’t think of a better description.  I want to be clear that I think this is a good thing.  In some ways it makes the reading of the book a little more conscious…I found I was noticing the language and writing style almost as much as I was absorbing the story.  I particularly enjoy beautiful, well-used language and I relished this excellent example of its use.  My only concern would be that “the youth of today” (I’m not really that old!) won’t have the patience to perserve long enough with this style to develop a love and appreciation for it.  That would be a loss for them, and I hope that my lack of faith in them is misplaced!

In one of my updates, I queried the use of “Come again” as being out of context.  M. C. was kind enough to respond to tell me that this phrase is an Olde English phrase, seen in the US as something only stuffy, overly proper people say.  I explained my comment was because it’s a rather lazy slang phrase in the UK these days…not well thought of and with slight rude overtones – if I used it to someone they might well bristle.  It is really strange how a language can evolve so differently in two places when the contact is so great!

I did find the book quite slow to start, something I thought odd in a 58 page novella.  However, the story did move along before I got to the midpoint and completed this episode at a point that invites a continuation.

If I have any comments for change, it’s that I felt the characters to be a little fuzzy – I didn’t get to feel that I knew them particularly and therefore wasn’t deeply invested emotionally.  Some of the more descriptive passages I felt lacked something; they were more “tell” than “show” – I think show works better for a reader than tell because it flows more naturally and prevents the author interposing themselves between the characters and the reader.

As I said, I shall be on the look out for the next book in the series…I want to know if Tallis works out the solution to her conundrum…and if it’s the same solution I can see! LOL 🙂

I have shown two cover artworks because the ARC I received has the grey cover on the right, whilst the Goodreads page has the red cover on the left, which I presume is the one people will see in the shops/on Amazon.

I’m claiming this book as No. 15/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge and No. 1 in the First in Series Reading challenge.
[All links in right hand sidebar]

In My Letterbox: Sunday 29th April 2012

Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

This week I have fewer books to report, mostly because I’m trying not to fill my house with books that will take me years to get round to reading! I have won some more books at Goodreads First Reads (yay! I love those guys – a big UP to all at Goodreads and all the lovely authors and publishers who give away copies of their books.).  Two of these arrived in the post this week.

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells
The Serpent Sea (Books of the Raksura #2)The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells

Moon, once a solitary wanderer, has become consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. Together, they travel with their people on a pair of flying ships in hopes of finding a new home for their colony. Moon finally feels like he’s found a tribe where he belongs. But when the travelers reach the ancestral home of Indigo Cloud, shrouded within the trunk of a mountain-sized tree, they discover a blight infecting its core. Nearby they find the remains of the invaders who may be responsible, as well as evidence of a devastating theft. This discovery sends Moon and the hunters of Indigo Cloud on a quest for the heartstone of the tree — a quest that will lead them far away, across the Serpent Sea.

I like fantasy stories and have read them in some form or another since I was small. I’m looking forward to reading this one.

2. Tallis by M. C. Rae

TallisTallis by M.C. Rae

The Empire of Andresium is threatened by the corruption of the immortals, ancient beings given the gift of eternal life after the death of the last reigning empress. A prophecy speaks of their eventual downfall at the hands of one of their own, however. Tallis is known by most simply as “The Loren,” and seeks to avoid her destiny while trying herself to remain untainted by the decaying morals and indifference to the fates of men that plague her kind. As the events of the prophecy begin to unfold, Tallis finds herself conflicted between upholding her dedication to justice, and falling victim to the ramifications of following the desires of her own heart.

As I said, I like fantasy books, so this is a good win for me. I had a quick look when it arrived – and it’s an ARC…my very first ARC 🙂

Because it is an ARC (at least I guess that’s the reason), my cover is the same as that shown on Goodreads as that used on the Kindle edition, the picture with the grey background. I chose to put the published book picture here so that anyone looking for it in the shops will know what to seek!

GIFT FROM AUTHOR:

1. Misfortune Cookie by Michele Goran

Misfortune CookieMisfortune Cookie by Michele Gorman

“Following your heart will pay off in the near future”

The fortune cookie had spoken, affirming Hannah’s decision to move to Hong Kong to be with her boyfriend. She’s no stranger to rash decisions – after all she moved from the US to London on a dare, and that worked out, didn’t it? Ever the optimist, she’s determined to make a success of her move, no matter what anybody says.

Unfortunately, anybody seems to be everybody and her life isn’t going exactly to plan.

Sure, she’s found a career in fashion that she loves, her best friend Stacy moved to be with her, and they’re exploring the weird and wonderful in Hong Kong. It’s her love life that’s not quite living up to expectations. It isn’t easy having a relationship with a boyfriend who’s been posted to a job in another country. Particularly one who seems a bit too cosy with his new boss.

When things also start going wrong at work, Hannah begins to think her friends and family were right. Has she made the worst mistake of her life?

Strictly speaking, this should be in IMM or IMI, since it’s an electronic book. However, as it is a gift from the author, I thought more prominence was appropriate.

I have started reading it already…and am over halfway through! Watch out for the review 🙂

I hope everyone enjoyed World Book Day on Monday 23rd April 2012. Did anyone receive one of the books that were being given away? In the UK, the books had a Shakespeare sonnet printed in the front. There are two reasons for this: April 23rd is (traditionally) Shakespeare’s birthday and as the Olympics are being held in London this year, Shakespeare is featuring heavily in the Cultural Olympiad.