It’s that time of the year…

Ah, August. August for me is met every year with a tiny bit of trepidation. My birthday falls near the end of the month (August 25th), and a few days later, the school year starts for our household. This is a time of enjoying the last clinging moments of summer, and a time of preparation for school and the upcoming holidays. Around this time of year my household gets extremely chaotic—and to add to that this year, we’re in the process of trying to move. (FINALLY).

This means that we’re spring cleaning the house, throwing out 11 years worth of clutter, scrubbing things down, boxing stuff up to be given to charity, and packing the rest for the upcoming move. We’re preparing for school during the week (since we home school) and cleaning, and then on the weekends we’re running household errands and meeting with realtors. As you might imagine, it’s hectic.

What does this mean for my reading? It means things slow down a bit. There will be reviews, but they will be more sporadic than normal until everything gets settled and back on routine. There will be weeks when there are no reviews, one review, two reviews… it’s hard to say. That being said, I will be endeavoring to continue to read when I can and to continue with regularly scheduled Free Fiction Fridays every week. I’ll be posting small updates to twitter as things change, so keep an eye on the feed for updates!

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Let 2017 Begin!

DSCN0298-AHello, ladies and gentlemen of blogland! Wow, it’s been quite a year. Honestly, it didn’t go how I expected. I wanted to get more done. I’d planned on working to get writing done, to be healthier (which I should have known was a fail when we got sick the first week of last year), even to get more reading done. I hesitantly set myself a 50 book quota at the beginning of the year to go easy on myself, and still ended up barely making it to that quota. There’s certainly been a lot of ups and downs this past year that I didn’t expect—mostly having to do with health. I’m still learning to cope with my severe allergies, anxiety, and my husband’s health as well—and it hasn’t been an easy year on any of us.

So what are my plans for 2017? I’m not entirely sure. I may wing it a bit and see where things go. I’d still like to find more time to write and definitely read. I’ve got a huge pile of books clogging up my TBR to look forward to. I did some editing this past year, and I absolutely loved the experience, and I’ve got a few editing jobs sitting in my inbox I still need to review and get back to various authors about (man it’s going be busy this year!) Also this year, I’d like to continue to work on my health, and my family is tentatively looking for a new home in the upcoming few months, so I’m looking forward to getting out of this death-trap.

Right now, my plans for the blog are this: Reviews on Mondays, with make-up reviews on Wednesdays for weeks when life gets a little too busy. Free Fiction Fridays will be back on their usual scheduled day, and probably weekend wrap-ups again on Sundays with updates for when the reviews for the next week will be scheduled. I’d love to do more than that, but again, I think it’s probably better to under schedule myself and get more work done when I can than to stress myself out with more than I can handle. If I find extra time for more reviews, then they’ll be posted as I go, otherwise, I’m not going to worry about it.

Posts will resume as usual tomorrow (Monday, January 2), and I will be getting back to the authors/publishers that have sent me editing requests and book review requests as quickly as I can over the next week, so keep an eye on your inbox’s!

Thank you so much to all of my followers, and fellow readers, authors, and publishers out there that have supported me in this past year. Running this blog for the past few years has been such an exciting and fun endeavor. Here’s to another year! I hope you all have a great New Year.

Upcoming…

Wow, you guys. I’ve been busy. You may have noticed that the last few review days and Free Fiction Fridays have gone un-posted over the last few weeks. Don’t worry. As some of you may have noticed from previous years, August-> December is one of the busiest times of the year in this household. Between a ton of birthdays, holidays, and the beginning of the new school year, things get crazy. That doesn’t mean that the reviews are on hold though! I’ve just been doing a bit of catch-up.

I’ve gotten in an astounding amount of review requests over the last month, far more than previous years (we’re talking 40 a day) and I’ve just now managed to sort through them all, send out e-mails to authors, and updated my TBR list. I’ve got some great book reviews headed your way, and very soon! I’ve just been taking a little time to get organized and ready for the push to the end of the year – so hang onto your seats!

Want to see what’s coming up? Below is a list of the books on my TBR and a little bit about them – check them out!

TBR1The Infernal Lands [The Aionach Saga 1] by J.C. Staudt

Genre: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy

Across the heat-blasted wastelands of a post-apocalyptic world, ages of high technology lay in ruin. Mutants and madmen roam vast derelict cities while nomads and monsters haunt the edges of a brutal wilderness. Armies rise up to war over what yesterday left behind.

But something larger than war is brewing beneath the Aionach. The inhabitants of this lawless realm are beginning to unearth mysteries from a forgotten age. Mysteries that may reveal the true nature of their dying world and unlock its darkest secrets.

The Infernal Lands is a tale of survival and heroism that follows a stunning cast of characters: the vengeful drifter, the council of kinetic mages, the cult priestess with a taste for human sacrifice, the bitter mercenary, the slaver king, and the sand sorceress who wields the power to command the very ground she walks on.

TBR2Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat From The Past [Bentwhistle the Dragon 1] by Paul Cude

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past? Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes? In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile! You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.

TBR3Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Chilling Revelation [Bentwhistle the Dragon 2] by Paul Cude

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult

Following his harrowing and near death experience at the talons of the evil dragon Manson in ‘A Threat From The Past’, Peter Bentwhistle, the human shaped dragon and reluctant hero, finds himself on the slow path to recovery.
Helped by his dragon friends, Tank and Richie (both in their human forms), he finds solace in his new found friendship with the dragon king. But the three friends are soon unwittingly drawn into a deadly plot, when a straight forward meeting with the monarch sees them helping an injured dragon agent, straight back from his mission in Antarctica with news of a devastating encounter with another ancient race.

Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons’ friendship like never before. New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen. Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic.

Explosive exploits, interspersed with a chilly backdrop and unexpected danger at every turn, make for an action-packed, electrifying adventure.
‘Snow way you’ll wanna miss this!

TBR4Beyond The Sapphire Gate [The Flow of Power 1] by R.V. Johnson

Genre: Fantasy

Some magic should remain untouched.

Beyond the Sapphire Gate is the fascinating world of Astura, a world where a frothing, river of magic addicts those who use the power it holds.

Indentured to a private artifact collector on a dying world of high technology, Crystalyn naively activates a gateway. The temptation to touch the gate is irresistible for her sister Jade, who vanishes when she does. Crystalyn follows, stepping into a vibrant world infused with magic and those that Use.

Aided by symbol magic killing her with each use, the defining line between good and evil is not as clear as Crystalyn once believed. The Dark Users want to help her, the Circle of Light wishes to use her. The War of a Hundred Seasons makes her choose.

Half a world away, equipped with a seemingly useless ability to read auras, Jade embarks on a harrowing journey to escape the Dark Citadel with her soul intact.

Propelled to Astura by a devious assault, Garn has only two desires. Reuniting family and destroying those enforcing his servitude.

TBR5Darkly, Deeply, Beautifully [Ceruleans 5] by Megan Tayte

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, New Adult, Paranormal

The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death. Five books; one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

With her mother’s life hanging in the balance, Scarlett is devastated – and done with being in the dark. She wants answers, all of them.

But when was her pursuit of the truth ever straightforward?

Pulling a single thread impels a great unraveling. And each revelation will force Scarlett to rethink what she thought she knew about the Ceruleans, the Fallen, her family – herself.

All that came before was a mere prelude to this, the last journey. From London to Twycombe to Hollythwaite to Cerulea, Scarlett will be stalked by the ghosts of what has been, what may have been and what may come to pass. Until she reaches the place where it all began, and it all must end.

But in the final reckoning, none will survive unscathed. And some will not survive at all.

In this explosive conclusion to The Ceruleans series, all must be defined by their actions: sinner, saint… or something more beautiful entirely?

TBR6I Am Sleepless: Sim 299 by Johan Twiss

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult

While the others slept, Aidan spent hours each night running sim after sim. Although he was only a twelve-year cadet, he had completed more simulations than any prime— ever.

“You are setting history,” General Estrago told him. “No one has ever made it to the current simulation you are attempting. The other Masters and I are eager to see what comes next.”

So was Aidan.

The planet Ethos is at war with a mysterious enemy known as the Splicers. Their only successful defense is the Prime Initiative. All newborns with the compatible genetic code are taken from their families and injected with the Prime Stimulus. Each child that survives the stimulus develops an extraordinary ability and is conscripted into the military for training.

After turning twelve, Aidan is moved to the upper-class at the Mount Fegorio training complex. His special gifts allow him unprecedented success in the virtual training simulations, advancing him further than any prime cadet in history. No one knows what lies after sim 299, not even Director Tuskin, the ruthless and reclusive ruler of their planet. But something, or someone, has been guiding Aidan there. If he can pass the final tests, he may discover the key to ending the Splicer War.

TBR7Dead Silver by Max Florschutz

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

It’s been almost a year since Hawke Decroux had his run-in with adventure, and in that time he’s settled back to his usual day-to-day standard. Work as a humane animal control officer isn’t always riveting, but it’s steady and pays the bills. Plus, it’s pretty easy when your Unusual talent lets you speak with animals. For Hawke, life is right where he wants it.

At least until an old friend, an NSAU spook named Jacob Rocke, calls him with an intriguing offer. Silver Dreams, New Mexico is suffering a rash of animal attacks, all signs pointing towards a chupacabra as the culprit—a creature so rare no one has never taken one alive. Rocke is convinced that if they work together, they’ll have a good chance of catching it—and claiming the fifty thousand dollar live reward—for themselves. And if that doesn’t work out, it’ll still be fun to catch up and take a bit of a vacation.

But when Hawke arrives in Silver Dreams, things aren’t as hoped. Rocke has gone missing. The animal attacks are growing more violent in both size and scope. Townspeople are vanishing in the dead of night, walking out their doors and leaving no trace of their whereabouts. As the attacks pile up and the body count rises, Hawke is certain of only one thing: this definitely isn’t the vacation he had planned.

TBR8My Journey Through War and Peace: Explorations of a Young Filmaker, Feminist and Spiritual Seeker by Melissa Burch

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

“My Journey Through War and Peace: Explorations of a Young Filmmaker, Feminist and Spiritual Seeker” is based on Melissa Burch s experiences as a war journalist for BBC, CBS, and other networks. Her team was one of the first documentary crews allowed in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, and she was featured in a New York Times story about her time in Afghanistan. She was just in my twenties when she traveled with the moujahedeen, filmed an attack on a Soviet convoy, slept with an Afghan commander, and climbed 14,000-foot mountains in the Hindu Kush. My Journey Through War and Peace examines how, through outward action and inward exploration, life can unfold in mysterious ways, far beyond cultural and family expectations. In looking back at this momentous decade, Burch shares why she pursued such dangerous and difficult circumstances at such a young age and continued to live on the edge. She now understands that she was seeking self-discovery, a connection to something greater, and ultimately inner peace. This exciting memoir will resonate with fans of “Eat Pray Love,” “Wild,” and other popular memoirs that describe extraordinary inner and outer journeys.

TBR9An Empire of Traitors [Of Hate And Laughter 1] by Serban V.C. Enache

Genre: Epic, Dark Fantasy

Flesh will bleed. Bones will break. Swords will turn.

An Empire Of Traitors follows several principal storylines simultaneously. It’s been eight years since the end of the civil war between the Inquisition and emperor Zygar Ferus, worshiper of blood gods. Eight years into the aftermath, a new emperor sits the Sun Throne, and the Inquisition is no more.

In the five realms of the Empire things are stirring. Driven by ambition or wounded pride, many nobles like the dog-headed serpent of Stoneweed seek to change their fortunes, even with the price of treachery. And from exile, from the heathen nations of the Lowlands, another Sunborn scion of house Mero gathers strength behind his claim. No family, great or small, shall remain indifferent to fate’s whim. It takes an emperor to rule an empire, but it takes numbers and honored oaths to keep both crown and throne.

In the Westlands, Drakanes, a sister of the temple finds herself in the role of witness and proctor, of passing judgment on a man accused of murder, who claims to have been possessed. The trial’s proceedings enlighten her as to the truth of it all, and the good sister is willing to, out of pure stubbornness, risk death for justice. Emperor Hagyai Rovines Mero fears for the continuation of his line, and sends Sycarus on an errand to the Desertlands to bring back an Aharo maiden for his son and heir. It is said that the Aharo savage women always give birth to healthy babes. Hagyai Rovines desires a betrothal between the prince heir and a savage girl – trying to emulate a long dead custom of the Sunborn emperors. Such a move is most unpopular, and the whispers of another civil war are once again in the air.

The imperial chancellor warns Birus Mandon, lord of Rivermark and warden of the Streamlands, of a plot against the emperor, a plot made by his exiled brother, Amarius Soronius. Mandon tries to gather knowledge on the schemes of potential oathbreakers, but his trade is not that of a spy. When he hires the Mounted Arrows Company of Narak al Zull, Birus learns more than mere outlandish tactics; he finds a new source of strength in the sellsword’s foreign warrior god.

Kalafar Sodomis, lord of Weiyenor and warden of the Northlands, has seen his brother get married, and he himself is tried by notions of passion toward a certain lady of a southern house. But as the conflict breaks out, Kalafar needs to act as a proper lord, as a man, not a boy. He summons his vassals for a council at Devil Mound, to decide if the north will go to war or no; and there to also perform a certain ritual to honor the dead of Fengard and Wyrm.

TBR10A Heretical Divide [Of Hate And Laughter 2] by Serban V.C. Enache

Genre: Epic, Dark Fantasy

A Heretical Divide picks up right where An Empire Of Traitors left off. The Inquisition proves itself a hydra of murderers and schemers. The ram’s war in the Winterlands gets mired in betrayal, and the hawk’s vengeance comes to the devil’s home under sorcery and ploy. Even with a new emperor, the Sun Throne’s vassals are still brewing; each house following its own petty interests. Death’s breath looms upon the weak and strong, upon country and sovereign. The princes of ruin have many servants upon the earth – many souls to claim by storm and blood.

TBR11October 32 by Larry Rodness

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

It’s October 31, and insurance agent Alexander Malefant is sent to picturesque Elora during its annual Halloween festival. No sooner does Alexander arrive than he witnesses the near-drowning of a boy bobbing for apples. Shortly after that, a group of children are attacked by crows. Later that evening, all the children in the village suddenly disappear. Soon, every person becomes a suspect as residents frantically try to discover what happened to the children. Who or what is behind these disappearances, and can they get the children back before it’s too late?

TBR12Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Crime, Fantasy, Thriller & Suspense

When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he’s determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.

TBR13Devil’s Cove by R.C. Matthews

Genre: Gothic, Historical Romance

Shrouded in unspeakable horror and spoken of only in whispers, the abandoned Devil’s Cove Manor lures Captain Devlin Limmerick and his unquenchable thirst for revenge to its doors. Feared as the Devil on the high seas, the pirate’s desire to avenge his past is matched only by his hunger for the powerful young medium he has coerced to aid him in his nefarious quest.

Blinded from youth and touched with an ability to communicate beyond the grave, Grace is both feared and revered by the uneasy town folk. Yet she is powerless against the unrest brewing within the manor walls and finds herself drawn to the Devil’s darkness. Still, she refuses to sacrifice her soul to set Devlin’s unspeakable plans in motion.

But an evil lurks within these walls, and their very souls are in jeopardy. Grace’s presence at the manor spurs inexplicable happenings, forcing Devlin to believe nothing is as dead as it seems—not even his heart. Plunged into the throes of passion and danger, they discover the only way out is to search deep within and summon the courage to believe in true love.

TBR14Chakana by W.E. Lawrence

Genre: Historical Romance

Can a romance save the world? Maybe this one could. Chakana is a historical romance novel filled with action, adventure, suspense, and intrigue.

In 1939, before the start of World War II, James Fleming, the original British secret agent, races on a high-stakes chase to track down the ancient lost treasure of King Huascar of the Incas. He must recover it before the Nazis do or the whole world will be in imminent danger.

But this is no ordinary treasure hunt. The Incas have proven their cunning and intellect in not only how they hid their treasure, but how they protected it. Fleming joins forces in the remote ruins of Peru, South America with Kate Rhodes, a policewoman on leave from the United States, her archaeologist brother, Nick, and their college professor, Dr. Charlie. Together, they must decode, interpret the clues, and face the challenges of the Chakana on their hunt for the treasure.

If this wasn’t difficult enough, the group is hounded throughout their search of the ancient Sacred Valley by international artifact smugglers, familiar with the Chakana and working with the Nazis, who are determined to acquire the treasure to help finance their war effort. Intrigue, danger, suspense, action, adventure, and even romance abound in this brave band’s quest to save the free world.

Vanish by Becca J. Campbell

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Mystery

Reviewer’s Note: There’s not a lot I can say about this book. It arrived in my inbox with a 2-line teaser and an agreement to read it within a narrow 3-week period. I was intrigued, and agreed. I read it, it was a 4-star read, and is currently being edited based on reviewer’s feedback. I’m not sure when this book is going to be released, but I’m really excited for it to come out so I can tell you a bit more about it. Here’s the teaser:

Eva had two secrets. The second was that she periodically vanished into thin air.

TBR15Resurrecting Ghosts [Kings of Chaos 4] by Shyla Colt

Genre: Romance

Ruthie Gregg was the independent woman who had everything together. A homeowner with a successful job in advertising, and a busy social life, she never wanted to get serious with a man. Things with Kings of Chaos member, Skull, were meant to be fun and light. Then she made the mistake of catching feelings without discussing their relationship status. Misunderstandings and indiscretions lead her to call things off. But life is a cruel mistress who wasn’t done uprooting her perfectly managed existence. To get the life she’s dreamed of, she must put her past behind her, and fight for her future with a man who just may be the love of her life.

Tritt “Skull” Matthews was a man who wanted nothing to do with love. After watching the four letter word and mental illness destroy his family, he opted to take the path of a permanent bachelor. His brothers in the Kings of Chaos MC were all the family he needed until he took up with Ruthie. The mouthy red head with her vintage style and a strong back bone derailed his plans. When denial, drinking, and self-sabotage doesn’t shake her from his soul, he starts a new mission, to get her back at any cost.

Happiness is within their reach if they’re willing to lay the resurrected ghosts in their lives to rest. The things they fear the most holds them captive in invisible chains. Breaking free is imperative, lest they are doomed to repeat the past.

TBR16Lie to Me [A Touched Trilogy 1] by Angela Fristoe

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Phoebe Matlin has always felt broken. While one of her sisters sees the future, and the other can heal people, Phoebe has come to accept that her truth telling gift just doesn’t work.

Then her best friend, Tonya, lies to her and Phoebe’s gift flares to life. With Tonya pissed at her, being a Truth Teller suddenly doesn’t seem like such a great gift. Although, it is nice knowing she was the reason her crush, Nathan, dumped his stalker girlfriend.

But in lies, intention is everything and Tonya’s lies are a cry for help. The fear that her friend is covering darker and more serious truths is something Phoebe can’t ignore. But knowing when someone is lying is the easy part. Now she has to decide what to do about it. And with Nathan and his doubts about her ability confusing things, finding a way to help Tonya isn’t as easy as Phoebe thought it would be.

TBR17Inarticulate by Eden Summers

Genre: Contemporary Romance

At first sight, Savannah is drawn to the harsh appeal of a man who refuses to talk to her. Keenan’s hard stare is arrogant and unapologetic. The quirk of his sensuous lips is cocky and in control.

But there’s more. There’s something deeper he’s trying to hide behind those steely grey eyes—a slight hint of vulnerability which captures her intrigue.
She’d been warned, told that his silence hides a myriad of lies capable of affecting her career and relationships with loved ones. Only she can’t help herself. Testing Keenan’s defenses is an addiction she can’t deny.

TBR18My Heart’s Desire [Barrett 1] by Andrea Kane

Genre: Historical Romance

Never were there two more unlikely people to fall in love… Lady Alexandria Cassel scorned London’s frivolous social whirl, seeking adventure as a stowawayaboard a merchant ship. Drake Barrett was the vessel’s powerful captain — and a cynical duke who disdained a noble’s shallow life. At sea he revealed neither his origins nor his wealth, and to Alexandria he was simply a man who made her cool reserve fly with the winds…whose desire for her was as wildas the ocean they sailed. Caught in the crossfire of war, they were shipwrecked on an idyllic island, where they tasted perfect passion…and tenderness. But Drake dreaded the day of their rescue — when his love would discover that the virile man she adored was at the pinnacle of the aristocracy she despised. Hardlydid they suspect the base treachery that would soon threaten them…and the dangers each would brave to join forever their hearts and lives!

TBR19Samantha [Barrett 2] by Andrea Kane

Genre: Historical Romance

Samantha Barrett is looking for a hero. He can’t be just any man, but one worthy of her girlish fantasies. Dashing. Dangerous. Forbidden. Exactly like the mesmerizingly handsome stranger who just strode into the smoky tavern. Except he isn’t a stranger, he’s Remington Worth, earl of Gresham. London’s most notorious rake. Though tempted by Samantha’s beauty and innocent desire, Remington cannot allow her to be tainted by his perilous exploits. For he isn’t the man she thinks he is. As the Crown’s most loyal covert agent, the former navy captain and war hero leads a dangerous double life. But as passion builds between them, risking his life for his country is nothing compared to how far Remington will go to keep Samantha safe—and locked in his arms forever.

TBR20Beautiful Chaos by Alex Tully

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

While most seventeen year-olds work part-time delivering pizzas or whipping up frappuccinos, Brady O’Connell’s job is a little less conventional. Helping his dad with the family ‘business’ is a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly, especially when thousands of dollars are being exchanged. There are rules to be followed, timetables to be kept. But when his best friend Jay gets backstage concert tickets, and business interferes with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet their favorite band, Brady decides to break the rules, just one time.

And one time is all it takes to send his life spinning out of control. When an envelope full of cash ends up in the wrong hands—specifically in the hands of a pretty red-head named Vivienne—things get messy in a hurry. Where Vivienne goes, a whole lot of chaos seems to follow.

But sometimes…chaos is a beautiful thing.

From the author of Hope for Garbage comes another fast-moving, emotionally-charged tale, full of plot twists that will keep you guessing, and true-to-life characters you will root for. Most of all, this is a story of first love—crazy, chaotic first love—love that hits us hard, and never lets go.

TBR21The Longest Con by Michaelbrent Collings

Genre: Supernatural, Mystery

Would you like to know – I mean, REALLY know – what they’re doing when they go to those fancy comic-cons? Because it ain’t just writing.

See, every year, thousands of people attend comic-cons dressed as monsters.
Of course, you probably already knew that.
But did you ALSO know that…
every year, thousands of MONSTERS attend comic-cons dressed as PEOPLE.

Sure. Nothing could POSSIBLY go wrong there.

Luckily, the con organizers have placed Wardens throughout the conventions. These undercover supernatural troubleshooters are tasked with stopping mayhem before it starts . . . or solving the murders after they happen.

I’M MICHAELBRENT COLLINGS: author of this book, and one of the Wardens. My job is to go to the cons, where I sell books, make fans, and kill the occasional monster.

It’s not just me, either. Those authors I told you about, and even more . . . you’d never guess what many of your favorite authors are REALLY up to at the conventions.

TBR22Tormented By Ghosts: True Life Experiences by Lynda Bogert

Genre: Non-Fiction, Paranormal, Memoir

She wants to be normal, but the spirit world has other plans. Tormented by Ghosts is a true story about unfortunate encounters with ghosts and other otherworldly paranormal phenomena that have greatly affected Lynda’s life. The struggles include harrowing encounters of unwanted Out of Body Experiences (OBEs), her Near Death Experience (NDE), her horrifying visit from a demonic apparition, and mysterious bone-chilling ghostly visits. This book encompasses her thirty years of coping to learn and educate herself to understand and utilize her spiritual abilities and tools to help herself and others. Her daily battle is to overcome the paranormal and control the abilities that she has been given! Is she seeing and hearing ghosts that may have a message for her or to let themselves be known or to simply taunt her? This is a story with many stories. You’ll want to sleep with the lights on because it could also happen to you, too…

TBR23Sacred Planet [The Dominion 1] by Austin Rogers

Genre: Science Fiction

Only one woman can stop it. Only one man can save her.

After centuries of expansion into the galaxy and no contact with intelligent, extra-terrestrial life, humanity is split into three superpowers, each dominating one of the spiral arms closest to Earth: Orion, Carina, and Sagittarius. Divided along political, cultural, and religious lines, these galactic mega-states have grown alien to each other over time. Inter-arm relations have eroded. Minor differences have become dangerous disparities.

Now a ruthless religious faction threatens to plunge the galaxy into a catastrophic war.

Conflict sparks when Sierra Falco, the Carinian prime minister’s daughter, is attacked on her space yacht by a powerful and shadowy enemy. As a popular advocate for peace, Sierra’s loss destabilizes the fragile balance of the galaxy. But her attackers’ plans are disrupted when a rugged band of scavengers stumble across the yacht and jump at the opportunity to make a profit. Davin, captain of the scavenger ship, is caught between the lure of fabulous wealth and the nag of conscience as he is dragged into a conspiracy bigger than he can imagine.

A race begins between those who seek to prevent war and the secretive forces who want to escalate it-apparently with Earth in their crosshairs.

In this universe, Earth-the Sacred Planet, the epicenter of human civilization-holds the coveted key to victory.

Whoever controls Earth controls the galaxy.

TBR24Bite of a Vampire [Bite of a Vampire 1] by Anna Belsky

Genre: Paranormal Romance

I never was a romance novel kind of girl, maybe that’s why I decided to get in the business of proving that love was meant to be unfaithful. Call me bitter but my full name is Emily Johnson, and I work as a private investigator for Jonesville Extramarital Affairs. It’s my daily job to investigate, snap photos of and usually proves that a spouse has found someone else to dilly-dally with. It was a bit of a dream job after having my own respect and dignity broken so many times in college by a guy named Robert, Bob for short. I don’t hold a grudge against him, he was my first, and he taught me that love relationships are not really things that exist. My best friend Abby doesn’t believe me so I decided to prove my point and become a Private Investigator.

On this night Emily’s world turns upside down when she comes across a vampire attacking one of her investigations. She is swept into a world of the supernatural and must draw from all her experiences as Private Investigator to survive… or so she thinks until she meets Michael.

TBR25Candlelight [Ember Series Novella] by Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Life was full of nothing but darkness for Nathan Stevenson until Jasmine appeared in his life. She brought his innermost desires to the surface. She burned her way through to his heart to become embedded in his soul. He knew she was dangerous but would she break down his wall as he dreamed of her touch and fought against the impulse to protect her?Would their love be enough to defeat his demons? Was he strong enough to resist her or would her light burn irrevocably?

TBR26Luminosity [Escaping Demons Saga 1] by Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy, Urban fantasy, Horror, Romance
Jasmine Johnstone’s life was relatively normal until she was forced to live with the Stevenson family. As she stayed she found she had no choice but to battle mythical creatures. Strengths she never knew she possessed began to surface, surprising those around her. Her only chance of surviving the rising tide of evil was Nathan Stevenson. Could she really trust him as he fought against his love for her? With the world against them and time running out, would their love be enough to defeat demons?

TBR27Ignition [Escaping Demons Saga 2] by Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Horror, Romance

Life has never been Easy for Jasmine Johnstone, but failing for Nathan Stevenson brings a whole new level of difficulty. He is sworn to kill her, and fights against his love for her more than ever, but he knows he can’t live without her.

As they run from monsters, and each other, can their love survive?
Time begins to run out and with new friends and enemies in the strangest places, will they learn who to trust in time?

With their love stronger than ever, but forces pulling them apart, is love enough to keep them together or will Nathan’s parents win and pull them apart?

Just A Quick Check-In

Hello people of blogland!

So, obviously it’s been awhile since I’ve posted (although I did have some reviews set up ahead of time). Here’s the skinny: My broken computer has now been fixed, which means I can now regularly post again! BUT, I’m going to temporarily hold off on new posts for a short while.

Unfortunately, I had to get a wisdom tooth removed this past Monday, and as anyone who’s had a wisdom tooth removed can tell you, it kind of sucks. It wasn’t the easiest of extractions (they had to break my tooth into 8 pieces to remove it because it wouldn’t come out) and no, I was not knocked out for the procedure… just your usual numbing shots. So as you can imagine, my mouth/jaw is super sore right now. They’ve got me on some pretty heavy pain medication, and my body doesn’t like it. I’ve been feeling super nauseous, dizzy, and tired the last few days, and I’m still recovering. So, I’m putting myself on break, at least long enough to let myself heal and get off of medication… because I’m just not functioning right now. (and don’t even get me started on how tired I am of eating mush). Hopefully I’ll be feeling better closer to the weekend.

I have a ton of new review requests queued up in my inbox to go through (I promise, I’ll get to them as soon as I can) and then I’ll be back to reading and reviewing. Right now, using my computer or my kindle to read leaves me feeling motion sick, so I’m going to take the time to heal up before I jump back into things. I hope everyone has had a great couple of weeks, and I’m excited to be back!

Reasons I Didn’t Accept Your Review Request

photo-1424115087662-5845efc6b366Awhile back I wrote an article entitled “Four Reasons I Didn’t Finish Your Book”; it was a basic rundown of reasons why I usually DNF books. The article is one of my most liked articles, and thinking back on it, I decided to take the same idea in another direction.

Here’s the thing: I get a lot of review requests. I’m three years into my Author Unpublished blog and I now get sometimes upwards of 10-40 e-mails each week from authors who are interested in having me review their books. It’s awesome—it really is—but as much as I’d love to, I can’t accept every review request sent my way. It’s just not possible to read that many books each year. I mean, that’s like 520-2,080 review requests in a year. Even if I read a book a day, there’s no way I could get that done. It’s inevitable that I will turn some requests down… but I also understand that being on the other end of things, authors may not always realize why they aren’t getting responses, or why their requests are denied. So, I thought I’d sit down today and shed some light on the complicated process of whittling down a year’s worth of review requests to something a bit more manageable.

First of all, understand that I only read 50-112 books a year on average, and that’s my ideal number barring illness, vacations, computer issues, or whatever else that may pop up to prevent me from reading and posting reviews. So the number one reason your book may get denied is that I simply already have too many books on my list that I’ve agreed to review. This is made worse by the fact that if I do end up agreeing to a review and then not getting it done… that book review request is then rolled forward into the next year. So already, that 50-112 books a year is starting to look more like 30-92.

book-1171564_1920The second hurdle is whether or not you’ve read my Review Policy & FAQs. I can tell when you haven’t. To be fair, I’m a pretty good sport about it. If you haven’t read my FAQs, I may give you some leeway, because I understand that you, as an author, have probably sent review requests to any number of reviewers, and as long as my FAQs page is, you probably didn’t bother to read it. I get it. At the same time, however, the FAQs is important because all the steps I wrote into it for you to follow… yah… it makes the process of deciding if I want to read your book easier. So if you didn’t follow my FAQs, well, sometimes I just can’t be bothered. A lot of what I’m going to be including on this list from this point forward is directly related to my Review Policy & FAQs, so seriously… read it.

Super nice, personable authors are more likely to have their books reviewed. I’m all for the professional, impersonal review request, but the less human you seem, the less likely I am to feel bad about turning your review request down. Sometimes I accept review requests because authors are super nice and friendly, and I want to do a favor for them. I know, it’s ridiculous, but it works. By the same token, if you’re demanding, sound arrogant, or you’re just a good old fashioned jerk… I’ll probably toss out your review request without reading any of it.

pen-1329258I also throw out review requests from authors if I’ve read their work before and didn’t like it because they’re wasting my time. Chances are if I didn’t give your previous book at least a 3-star review, I’m not going to like any books you write after that… so don’t bother. Really. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t want to write you another negative review. I know it hurts your feelings, and I feel bad about it. Don’t make me.

Another reason I might toss out a review request is if the cover is terrible. I feel like I need a caveat here. Your book cover has to be really terrible for me to toss out your review request—like you’ve put in almost no effort at all. If your cover is just sort of “meh” then I’ll still go on to investigate further. Don’t freak out.

If your back-cover blurb isn’t interesting, or contains a topic that I’m not a fan of, you’ll probably get tossed… because let me be honest, I don’t want to read a boring book, and if you can’t hook me with a blurb, there’s no way you’re going to hook me with the actual book. That doesn’t mean your book is bad, every reader has a genre they just aren’t a fan of, and if you fall into that category, I’m not going to waste my time or your stars.

book-15584_1920So here’s where things become less of a checklist and more of a process. When I receive a review request, the first thing I do is read the genre, any personal note you’ve included, and then the back-cover blurb. If you haven’t included any of those things, your book is in the trash. (Okay, that’s not true. I have an actual folder dedicated to rejected review requests. Yes, I keep track of them.) If I don’t immediately throw out your request because it sounds sort of interesting in any way shape or form, I’ll do further investigation. Step one of that process is to see if you’ve bothered to send me the book file. If I’m only sort of interested in your request and you don’t send a file, it’s trashed. I don’t want to waste time e-mailing you to get ahold of a file if I’m not really into the book in the first place. As an author, this is an easily passable step. Just follow my FAQs and include the file. It’s as simple as that.

If I’m still interested (and by interested I mean I’m anywhere from “OMG this sounds so good! Gimme!” to “Meh. Maybe it’s okay?”) I’ll go look up your book on Amazon and Goodreads. What am I looking for? Your previous reviews. Let me state it now: If you copy and pasted your previous positive reviews or quotes about your book into your review request… I don’t care. I guarantee you that I won’t read them, because obviously you’re only going to include the most glowing of reviews—and usually those sound fake. No, what I’m looking for are your worst reviews. The one, two, and three-star reviews. If you don’t have any and I was on the fence about your review request, it’s immediately in the trash. The only time this doesn’t apply is if you have zero reviews. I like to give new authors a chance, so if you don’t have any reviews, period, you might still make it through my process.

stamp-114438_1920So, I read the negative reviews—and I mean, really read them. I look to see if there’s a running theme for why people didn’t like your book – or if they’re just being jerks. If the reasons your books got negative reviews aren’t horrendous, you’re probably still in the running. So what qualifies as horrendous? 1. Anything that is my personal pet peeve. 2. Characters that have little to no depth and make decisions that make no logical sense. 3. Rumors of stolen property. 4. Egregious typos. (anywhere under 20 typos is fine… but if you can’t even complete a grammatical sentence, I’m not going to bother.)

If I’m still not sure if I want to read your book, I’ll then go look at the sample on Amazon. I read the first page. If it’s not terrible, your book is in. I’ve accepted it. If it’s boring or ill-written—and believe me, after three years or reviewing, I know if your book is terrible after the first page—I’ll throw it out.

The process I have for accepting and rejecting book reviews isn’t as simple as it first appears. I genuinely don’t arbitrarily reject books very often (and if I do, it’s probably because it was a novella, about poetry, or it had something to do with the military because I can’t be bothered with my least favorite topics). I investigate. I read and re-read requests… and if your book sounds even remotely interesting, I’ll probably read it. I will go out of my way to give your book a fair shot at being read—but again, I can’t read everything. I do reject a lot of books.

Finally, here’s a list of things that won’t get your book arbitrarily rejected—because sometimes I don’t care. If it sounds interesting, I’m going to read it.

  • You followed my Review Policy & FAQs and your book sounds even remotely interesting.approval-15914_1280
  • Your book sounds interesting despite not following my FAQs.
  • Your cover isn’t great, but it doesn’t look like it was painted by a 6-year-old in MS paint.
  • Your book falls into a genre or category that I don’t usually read… but It’s not a novella or poetry.
  • You’ve never had a review.
  • You are an indie author.
  • You’re a brand new author who’s never written a book before.
  • Your book has some typos.
  • Your book/plot sounds weird.
  • Your book’s plot or topic is considered taboo.
  • Your book is x-rated.
  • I’ve reached my quota of review requests for the year. Honestly, I never even look at my quota. You may have to wait awhile, but I won’t dismiss your request because I have too many books on my TBR list.

I try to give authors a shot. So, even though I do reject book review requests quite often, I also don’t arbitrarily dismiss a request for flippant reasons. There are lots of times when I make exceptions. Even though I hate novellas, sometimes I read them. A book’s genre isn’t necessarily going to make me throw it out. I don’t care if your editing is perfect (though I’ll mention it), and I don’t care if you’re an indie author. In fact, 90% of the books I read are from indie authors, not publishers.

So don’t be intimidated in sending me a review request. Yes, I turn a lot of them down, but that shouldn’t keep you from sending them because I honestly try to give a fair shot to every request I get. It’s a complicated process. Just follow the rules and cross your fingers.

Short Break – Computer Issues

Hello, ladies and gentlemen of blogland! Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that I’m taking a short break from blogging for (possibly) a few weeks. Obviously, I’ve talked about my previous, numerous, computer problems (you can read more here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,  and here) yup, there’re that many problems. Anyways, my computer has decided to randomly shut down these days at extremely inopportune times, and after a little testing, we’ve discovered that the power supply on my computer is dying.

At this point, there are programs I can’t run, and things I can’t do unless I want my computer to shut off (and possibly not turn back on), which puts a little bit of a hold on my work. I’m in the process of contacting the company my computer came from in an attempt to replace the dying power supply, but basically, what this means is, I’m probably going to be without a computer for a few weeks (maybe less if I’m lucky, maybe more if I’m extremely unlucky) while I wait for my computer to ship, be fixed, and then be sent back to me.  Le sigh. <-can you hear my enthusiasm?

So for now, I am on hiatus. I may or may not have access to a laptop during this time in which to do posts—but I’m not counting on it. I will continue to read and write up reviews (which will be posted as soon as I am able), and yes, feel free to send me new review requests, but I may not get to them in a very timely manner until this situation is resolved. Please have patience, and I will endeavor to do the same.

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!