I’m alive! I swear!

Wow guys, it’s been awhile—which was not my intention, but you know how life goes. So, here’s an update for you:

I have been ridiculously busy with family stuff, illness, and trying to figure out what this year was going to have in store for Author Unpublished. The last few weeks of 2015 were a scramble trying to finish up book reviews, deal with the holidays, and a million other things that seemed to crop up after October. I didn’t get everything I wanted to do last year done, unfortunately, and then at the beginning of the new year, a severe asthma attack brought on by my notoriously severe allergies landed me in the ER. It was a scary few weeks, but after a lot of meds, and the subsequent fallout of that hospital visit (I’m still dealing with a cough I can’t seem to shake from something my family picked up in the ER)… well you can see how time got away from me.

So here’s the deal. I’m going to take it a little easier this year. I’ll be continuing with Book Review, Free Fiction Fridays, and lots of little posts in between, but I am going to cut down to one review a week so that I can spend some time this year working on my writing—not just catching up my reviews. I haven’t figured out my exact schedule yet, but I do have some reviews already ready and lined up to be posted.

Currently I’m sorting through e-mails (wow there are a lot.. like 700+ a lot), and then I’m going to be sitting down to figure out a schedule and start getting things lined up for the weeks ahead. I just wanted to check in with everyone and let you know that I’m not dead, and I haven’t forgotten about  my blog.. life’s just a mess some times.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and I’ll be checking in with you guys soon!

2016 & The Winter Holidays

Oh man, it has been one hell of a long holiday season. You may have noticed that the posts have been winding down over the last few weeks—though the reviews have been on time (at least up until now) the Weekend Wrap-Ups and Free Fiction Fridays have dwindled—I promise they’ll be back. It’s just been a bit busy here lately. Unfortunately over the last week or so, I became terribly ill—having severe breathing problems until just a few days ago when I ended up stuck in an ER for 5 hours. To cut a long story short, my terrible allergies you’ve heard about time and time again spurred on a severe asthma attack, and for a terrifying few hours, I was struggling for air. I’d previously never had a severe asthma attack, so as you can imagine, I was terrified.

It’s all good now—I have meds that are keeping me breathing, though I still get winded wandering from room to room at the moment. To make matters worse my daughter picked up some kind of stomach bug while we were in the ER, and has been puking all over my house for the last 12 hours. As you can imagine, chaos has descended. So, I’m calling myself in a vacation. I’m still here, I’ll still post, but it won’t be on a regular schedule until the medical issues in my household wind down. I apologize for the delay on regular reviews and other posts, but I assure you, it is temporary. When things wind down a little more I’ll be ready to continue on as usual, bringing you brutally honest reviews with a side of some wonderful indie freebies. Keep your eyes peeled for further posts!

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful, hopefully healthier holiday season, and I hope you are enjoying the start of the new year!

Book Review: A Gentleman’s Surrender

review-cover-a gentleman's surrenderTitle: A Gentleman’s Surrender [Surrender 2]

Author: Mariel Grey

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Call her a romantic—or a fool, Lady Monique Cathdon is determined to marry for love. After watching her parents tolerate an arranged betrothal, life seems too short to be wasted on keeping up appearances.

After all, what’s the point of having a heart if one refuses to follow it?

With a smile the devil himself might be proud of, James Stanton is not what her mother would call a matrimonial prospect. Still, there’s something about the young man that sends Lady Monique’s heart thumping around her chest, and silences her voice of reason.

Unfortunately for Lady Monique, the stakes are high, and young ladies of the ton make for very poor gamblers. Especially when James Stanton is on the hunt for revenge, and won’t let an innocent woman—or his own passionate desires—get in the way of righting past wrongs.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

A Gentleman’s Surrender by Mariel Grey was a bit of a mixed bag from the start. The author obviously put a lot of time into researching the period and the world that Monique inhabited (and yes, I did my own research to figure out that although it sounds more modern, Monique was a French name sometimes used in this time period.. though I can’t speak as to how popular it was or why no one seemed to be curious about why this obviously English woman had a very French name)—right down to the shade and brand of makeup she used… but that was also part of the problem.

Technically speaking, the writing was decent. There were a few errors here and there, but nothing too jarring. The narrative flowed well in all but a handful of passages (most notably the one, painfully stiff sex scene), and the characters were well portrayed. However, the writing lacked polish. By just a few chapters in, I had already guessed all the main dramatic points of the story. There were times when the author chose to ramble on about the particulars of the period (like the very specific list of makeup that Monique wore, or the current events the characters paused to discuss) that felt all too much like the author was trying to prove their research. It felt out of place and pulled me from the story each and every time it occurred.

The story wasn’t bad, just a bit formulaic, but these small pieces of the writing where the narrative was less than polished stuck out and dragged down the overall rating of the book. In the end, I gave this 3 stars. It was an entertaining, enjoyable read, but it wasn’t a book I’d feel the need to re-read again and again. If you enjoy formulaic historical romance you may really enjoy this book, but be aware that it isn’t perfect and it isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re looking for something new and unique, this probably isn’t going to be your read—this one’s going to fit the casual lazy-afternoon reader more than the avid historical romance reader.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

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A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Book Review: Before The Dawn

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00037]Title: Before The Dawn [The Ending 4]

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post Apocalyptic, New Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Dystopian

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A year ago, the Virus killed off most people in the world.

A year ago, strange things started happening to those who survived. Some of them transformed into something dark and sinister, while others evolved, becoming something more, something beyond human.

A year ago, Dani and Zoe were lost. They traversed the country to find one another, losing some of the people dearest to them along the way. They fought for their right to simply live, uncovered long-buried secrets, and discovered irreversible truths. And after everything Dani and Zoe have been through—even with the battle wounds that they bear—they’re still not safe.

It’s time for the struggling to end, for survivors to take back their lives, their families, their safety. It’s time to really begin to live, and to do that, they must wait for the first rays of dawn.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I can honestly say that I was somewhat surprised by this book. I’ll admit, the third book in the series was probably my least favorite, and reading the third and fourth book in the span of just a few days had me a little burned out. I went into the fourth book full of trepidation that it was going to be yet another long drag through a narrative where very little happened. Luckily, that wasn’t so.

Let me first say that the writing in Before The Dawn was pretty damn flawless. I didn’t notice any obvious typos, awkward sentences, or grammatical errors. Not a single one—which is pretty amazing. The narrative flowed smoothly at a nice pace throughout, and other than a few short moments at the beginning of the book (Anna’s sections of the book weren’t my favorite), I didn’t feel the need to skim.

The characters were unique and complex, and though I sometimes had difficulty throughout the series telling Dani/Zoe and their respective J-named boyfriends apart by tone, I enjoyed their company. Their world was rich, fraught with danger and uncertainty, and unlike the previous book, had some pretty great action oriented moments. This was probably one of my favorite books in the series thus far—it may even be my favorite. The story felt wrapped up by the end, and though it had it’s stab at an HEA ending, it wasn’t perfect—which kept it from falling into the familiar romance genre trope that often ends with everyone pregnant, married, and all the bad guys defeated. Okay, so maybe there’s a smidgen of trope involved, but it was pulled off really well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I think it was a fantastic ending to the series. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s been following the series thus far—including those who, like me, may not have enjoyed the third book quite as much.

Book Review: Out of the Ashes

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00037]Title: Out of the Ashes [The Ending 3]

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh, Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Adventure

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Hope brought them together, but it’s now fear that drives them…and threatens to tear them apart.
Zoe and her companions succeeded in rescuing Dani from the Colony. But not without sacrifice. Beaten and broken, they head west, determined to leave behind the torment and horrors they experienced in Colorado.

As Dani and Zoe make the perilous trek home to Bodega Bay, they learn that danger can take many forms–other survivors, their friends, even themselves–and that things are rarely what they seem. Zoe is desperate to become the woman she sees in others’ memories, while Dani struggles to conceal damaging secrets, risking losing herself–her humanity–completely. Together, they must rediscover the true meaning of friendship, love, and trust, and learn just how hard they’re willing to fight for what remains of their shattered world.

As relationships are put to the test, second chances are given, and new life emerges, death lurks in the most unlikely of places. To survive, Dani and Zoe must accept that sometimes hope alone isn’t enough.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Let me preface this review by saying that I adore this series as a whole–I’ve been following it from the moment I was sent the ARC of the first book–but this installment to the series wasn’t my favorite. It’s been more than a year since I read the second book in The Ending series, so going into Out of the Ashes by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue, I had a bit of a hard time sinking in. Like Zoe, one of the main characters of the series, I felt like I had a form of amnesia. I couldn’t remember what had happened previously in the series, particularly near the ending of the second book, and so being dropped into the fast-paced and somewhat alarming beginning of the third book, I was rightfully confused. It took me a while to sort out what was happening and to remind myself of previous plot points… and in that way, I felt very close to Zoe in her struggle with trying to remember her past. It was an unexpected and strange sisterhood between us throughout the book.

Technically speaking, the book was exceedingly well written. I didn’t run into any grammatical errors, typos, or punctuation problems. The characters were all distinct, easy to love or hate respectively, and the story moved along at a steady pace. The setting was rich with detail but not so much as to bog down the narrative, and overall, I enjoyed the book as a whole.

There was only one problem.

I slogged through the book. It was odd how slowly I moved through the story–and it took me till nearly the end of the book to figure out why. There were no big battles or dramatic plot points. The majority of the book was spent delving into the character’s emotional states and the relationships between the members of their group… but very little was spent in any sort of action scene or on any sort of big battle with a nemesis. It was all very interesting–don’t get me wrong.. but by the end of the book, I was left feeling that nothing had happened. As much as I enjoyed spending time with the characters, by the end I was glad to finally be done and to set the book aside and move on. I’m even a little hesitant now to pick up the fourth book, though I will be doing so shortly… this installment just wasn’t as tension filled as I’d come to expect–although, thank goodness, there was a lot more of the romance present that had been missing from the second book in the series.

If you like post-apocalyptic stories filled with special abilities and great characters, I highly recommend this series, even if this wasn’t my favorite out of the bunch.

Book Review: Jubilee Year

review-cover-jubilee yearTitle: Jubilee Year [Erelong 1]

Author: Gerard O’Neill

Genre: Science Fiction, Apocalyptic

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Storm lives in a small New South Wales country town beside one of the most famous telescopes in the world. When he falls for Penny, the daughter of the chief scientist and director on Mount Woorat, he is sucked into the center of a global conspiracy.

He must keep himself and those around him alive using his wits, tenacity, and a special ability he tries to hide. He cannot do it alone, and yet others are not always who they seem. Of even more consequence, neither is the reality of a world he once thought he knew.

Set in Australia, Jubilee Year is Book One of the Erelong Trilogy, a dystopian science fiction thriller series. Book Two will be released early in 2016.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I had such a hard time qualifying this book when it was time to sit down and give it a review. I guess I should start off by saying that I didn’t finish the book. Going in, the premise sounded interesting and right up my alley as far as genres go. I was excited to delve into it—but at the same time, my end of the TBR list has been looming and with only half of December left to finish a 10-book list, I was looking forward to reading through this book quickly and getting it out of my way along with a handful of others.

Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened.

Technically speaking, the book was fairly well written. There were only a few typos that I ran across—and I was reading a copy that hadn’t yet been fully edited—so that was understandable. The errors weren’t distracting, and overall, it felt like the narrative was well put together. The characters and the settings were interesting, and I had no trouble following the story… but by the time I hit the 5th chapter, I was ready to set the book aside.

The pacing was slow in the first five chapters, and scenes that felt as if they should have been engaging and filled with active tension didn’t quite hit the mark. Characters described items and actions that weren’t important in the current moment and drama, and by the time each scene had played out, I found myself skimming. Honestly, I was bored. It wasn’t any one thing that I can point out and say “this is bad” because the narrative was well written… it just didn’t capture my interest as quickly as I wanted it to.

If I didn’t have a book deadline looming, I’d probably have set this aside, given it a week or two to rest, and then picked it back up to try again… but at the same time, I have a belief that books should capture your interest from the first page and not let up until the end.. and however well written this book was, it just didn’t do that for me. Overall, Jubilee Year just wasn’t my cup of tea—but if you’re a sci-fi apocalyptic story fan, I’d recommend that you pick this up and give it a try. I have no doubt that there are going to be a lot of people out there that enjoy the book much more than I.. I just don’t have the time to dally with it right now if it isn’t going to hold my interest, and it didn’t.