Book Seventy-One of 2014: The Traveler: The Amulet of Life by Melissa Toppen

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Eighteen year old Callista Price has learned the hard way that life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect.
Four years ago she witnessed the murder of her family in Chicago. Almost a victim herself, Cally was saved by a man she had never met, who disappeared immediately and left her with only the memory of the moment his eyes met hers.
Haunted by a stranger she never expects to see again, Cally relocates to her grandparent’s farm in Tennessee, spending her days wandering the land, unable to form any connection to the outside world.
Until one day, the man she has been dreaming of returns, altering not only her life, but the very world she thought she knew.
Tate Harper is not just an ordinary man. He’s a traveler, a free soul. Physically they are natural holograms in solid form possessing powers that are almost limitless and only bound by their mind, which acts as their source of power.
Drawn together by a connection they don’t understand, Cally and Tate fight to be together in an existence that neither one of them belong in. Tate finds himself longing to be a part of Cally’s world, while she grasps to understand his.
An amazing story of love, adventure, and the existence of life outside of our own.

The Traveler: The Amulet of Life by Melissa Toppen is a paranormal romance that deals with grief, life, and the world of angels, demons, and travelers.

That said, I did like the book. There are quite a few grammatical errors that are bothersome. For instance, in the first half  of the book quotes began with a hyphen and ended with a quotation. The second half fixed that issue. There are also no commas when the characters are addressing each other. i.e. “Hello Angel.” instead of “Hello, Angel.” I know, it’s a common mistake. In fact, those mistakes didn’t bother me as much as it would for another reader. There are also missing words, but I’ve seen that in well edited mainstream books.

The format is also an issue. This one was cumbersome. The spacing between paragraphs were large and made everything look choppy. It was sometimes deciphering who was talking when. Also, if the spacing was more like other books, the page count wouldn’t be as large as it was. Not to mention there weren’t any page numbers in the book itself. It made chronicling my progress very difficult. I basically had to go by the chapters. Which did work, but it would have been needless if the page numbers were there.

The characters were okay. Cally didn’t seem to have much of a personality until about halfway there. However, given the traumatic event and her lack of coping, it sort of made sense. And there was a bit of insta-love involved too. Which did get a quasi-explanation about how they were connected so well. However, I would have liked to see some growth in their relationship to help solidify that they were going to stay together. I did like the explanation, though. I just wanted more.

Another thing I wanted more of is the world. We are forced to see this in Cally’s eyes, with minor changes to Tate. This means, as a reader, you will not learn much and what you do learn can be considered mythology  because Cally learns it from a professor. However, there may be more of this series to give the reader more of the world. I’m not too positive about that, but sense there is a by title to the book, I’m more inclined to believe that there will be more of Tate and Cally. Besides, their relationship isn’t welcomed.

It would be interesting to see what Toppen has up her sleeve. If there is a sequel, I wouldn’t mind reading it. The story does grip the reader and keeps you going. Despite the errors, I did find myself liking the book and cheering when Cally started to reveal who she is as a person; not the empty shell of a grieving daughter.

Book Seventy of 2014: Transfixion by J. Giambrone

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A YA Sci-Fi Action Thriller
It’s nothing short of the end of the world.
Someone has weaponized the broadcast spectrum – gazing upon the transmission is enough to steal your mind.
Kaylee Colton faces a technological Armageddon when suburbia shatters into civil war. All alone, and unable to speak, Kaylee will need to fight to survive and transcend her own fears if she is to stand against these enigmatic forces of destruction.
Transfixion is an action-laced rush that will burrow straight into your brain…

Transfixion by J. Giambrone is a young adult scifi thriller that kept me going. The first few chapters have the main character going back to her book, but in the worst of times. There is no slow climb into the action, it starts right off and has lulls that leave you wondering what will happen next.

I found that I could relate well with Kaylee Colton. Mind you, she was mute for the good first half, but that’s due to a traumatic event whe witnesses. The fact that she returns to her book is that she isn’t ready to realize what her new reality is. She would rather hole herself up in literature. Which is much of what I did and sometimes still do. Reading helps with my anxiety and for Kaylee, it helps her cope with the apocalypse.

I don’t know if the author intended this, but the book really made me think of people with disabilities not being seen as any more than a nuisance. Mind you, Kaylee goes mute, it’s not a birth disability or behavioral, but it does make people treat her differently. When she has a plan or is telling a person she knows something, she writes it down. Only for the others to laugh at her. I felt this is similar to my brother with Autism. He is brilliant and has a good soul and mind, but people outside of home don’t really give him the time of day. They see the Autism, not the compassionate person. That’s what Kaylee’s predicament reminded me of.

Dispite being mute for half of the book, Kaylee is a strong character. She really pulls through in the end and sort of becomes a leader, but it’s with her actions when she was mute that made her a loyal member of her group. This is a serious quick and fast paced read. I really liked it.

Getting Ready!

I’m going to see my in-laws soon! This is going to be a fun time because Bug really hasn’t gotten to meet that side of the family yet. Most of my siblings and my parents live in this state with me. Bug knows his uncles, aunts, and his grandparents here, but he’s only met his grandpa and one grandma from Will’s family. It’s going to be fun to see Bug interact with his family.

What makes it even better is that we are treating this like a vacation. The last two times going to Will’s family was enjoyable, but didn’t feel like a vacation for me. It was more like a displacement. I don’t know the area so I didn’t go anywhere. I loved being with the family. It was when everyone else was busy that I got bored. This time though, we are going to have fun.

There’s a reunion to go to, I am apparently going to a Rob Zombie concert, and we may go to the Valissca house. Which I’m not too sure about how I feel on that one. If you don’t know the house I’m talking about, there was a family and two visiting children killed by an axe in that house. The murderer was never caught, though some people have been questioned and I believe one man was acquitted. The house is haunted by the children and two adults in the house. It’s a sad story. Interesting, but still a bit creepy.

That said, I need to get my butt in gear and get stuff taken care of. There’s cleaning and packing to do and only days away before leaving. Sadly, this also means I won’t be updating as I finish a book (I am going to have serious reading downtime). In case you’re wondering why my Goodreads thingy (—-> ) says that I’m currently reading a bunch of books, it’s because I’m listing them for people to know what I’m going to be reading while I’m gone. I plan on handwriting my reviews and then typing them up on the computer when I get home.

This vacation is going to limit much of my phone and net time, which is best for a person like me. It gives me more time for writing (on chapter 17 now!) and more time with my husband. I’m seriously looking forward to this time with family.

Zhukov’s Dogs Cover Reveal!

Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson of Gothic Fate (http://gothicfate.com/)

Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson of Gothic Fate (http://gothicfate.com/)

 

Lieutenant Colonel Nik Zhukov is just like any other desensitized seventeen-year-old living in the year 2076. At least he likes to think he is when he isn’t busy eliminating threats to national security, breaking up terrorist organizations, and trying not to get blown up. It’s all in a normal day’s work for one of the military’s top dogs, and he’s never disappointed. Never failed. Never lost sight of his dream of making it to the elite force, even as each new job forces him to see just how morally corrupt his leaders are.

 On the verge of promotion, Nik is dispatched to the underground city beneath the icy Seattle tundra, his final mission handed down directly from The Council. It should have been a simple in-and-out, but the underground is full of dark secrets and he soon finds himself swept into battles, lying to his best friend back east, and growing a bit too close to the rebels he was sent to spy on.

 Nik realizes too late that he’s broken the number one rule within his ranks; he’s allowed himself to feel normal for the first time in his life. He might be able to turn the job around, become the soldier he was once was, except for his growing attachment to the rebel leader. A guy. Yet another first for Nik. It’s a mistake he pays for dearly when he learns The Council’s true intentions for the city.

 It’s never ‘just harmless fun’ when you’re a government dog, not when The Council holds the leash. Nik knows there are some lines you can never come back from crossing, and he’s forced to choose whose rules to play by. He races toward the invisible divide, aware he’ll be called traitor by both his nation and by his friends. Aware that even the right choice can be deadly to make.

Zhukov’s Dogs by Amanda Cyr is a New Adult Sci-fi with action and adventure. It is published by Curiosity Quills Press and will be available on October 27, 2014. Sure, it’s strange that a teenager is in the military and is a Lieutenant at that, but this is the future and it looks pretty awesome. I’m hoping to get a hold of this book and review it in the future.

You can find Zhukov’s Dogs on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22027235-zhukov-s-dogs

And now for a little bit about the author and then you are free to your regularly scheduled day:

The author, Amanda Cyr.

The author, Amanda Cyr.

Amanda Cyr is a tea-loving freelance journalist, viral content curator, and debut novelist. She studied creative writing at Seattle University, where she developed all sorts of opinions before becoming a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. She is currently represented by Kimberley Cameron of the Kimberley Cameron & Associates Literary Agency.

 Growing up, Amanda moved around a lot. She began writing to make the transitions easier and make up for her lack of friends in middle school. An awesome professor in Medford, Oregon tried to convince her to pursue writing professionally, but Amanda was deadest on a law career. It wasn’t until an unpleasant professor in Seattle, Washington told her she was a terrible writer that Amanda really committed to the idea of getting published, mostly just to spite her professor.

 When Amanda’s not hunched over a laptop she enjoys sleeping, video games, Netflix binges, and wrestling with her two polar bear dogs. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she spends her days hissing at the sun and missing Seattle. Her least favorite things include the mispronunciation of her name, screaming children, and California.

Amanda Cyr does have some links, so, here they are as well if you want to check her out!

Website: http://cyriouswriter.blogspot.co.uk/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ACyrious

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8183689.Amanda_Cyr

Book Sixty-Nine of 2014: Soulless by Gail Carriger

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Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.
First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

I have read this book before, but I wanted to get back into the series. Since I’ve forgotten much that went on, I went ahead and read the first one over again. I have forgotten how much fun it is.

First off, don’t let the idea of the main character, Alexia, being “soulless” throw you off. I wouldn’t say “soulless” is really an actual fact, but more like a way to describe her interesting abilities. I had trouble with that the first time I read the book. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel about the obviously enjoyable character and her “soulless” status. Now though, it’s easy to understand. “Soulless” is more like a title or an explannation as to why she can do what she does than an actual fact.

This book has it all. There’s action, love/hate, fashion, and humor. I found myself laughing a lot more this go around. I love Lord Maccon and Alexia’s interactions. It is definitely one that romance lovers will love. Fantasy lovers are not going to be dissuaded either. The vampires and werewolves have an interesting dynamic and meld nicely to the Victorian society. Add in the steampunk and you have a mesh of something humorous and fun.

I do have the rest of the series and it is on my list to read, but for now, those were my thoughts when I was reading.

On a Roll

So, for a while I was on a serious writing roll. I had submitted many short stories and poems to contests as well as finished a chapter a day on my second draft. And then I hit a wall. This happens sometimes. It’s never fun, but it’s a way of life. It took FOREVER to finish chapter 14. It’s bland, boring, and definitely not up to par with the rest of the draft, but I pulled through and finished it. It took a while to finish chapter 15, but I did. I even finished planning out the last of the book (estimated at 26 chapters).

I’m now halfway done with chapter 16, well… maybe more like 2/3rds done with chapter 16. Which is still pretty awesome! I’ll be done tonight no doubt and probably be halfway done with chapter 17 tomorrow. Which puts me back on schedule and I may be able to finish before October like I was hoping. I’ll be on the road soon so chores and tv won’t distract me as much as it does right now. I may get a lot done.

That said, unfortunately one of my stories didn’t make it to publication. It’s a bummer. So far, I only have one story published, one poem published (via vanity press I’m upset to say), and really, I have an article in a high school paper a long time ago. Sure, these technically make me an author and even if they didn’t, I’m still a writer. Still, it can be disheartening.

You, or really me, can believe you have talent and have so many people tell you so, but then there’s the one person or group who tell you otherwise. I just have to remind myself that many authors have been rejected before they made it. J.K. Rowling is a good example. Even Dickens. I may not be Dickens or Rowling, but this fact makes me feel better. I can do this. I HAVE to do this.

Writing is my life (aside from Bug, who inspires me to write more). I just need to keep going. I’ll get there, even if it’s self published (which Amanda Hocking is a good example of). I’ll get there.

Book Sixty-Eight of 2014: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.

Now before you start gasping and freaking out, I have read this book before. I’ve read the whole series. I’ve stood in line waiting for the next Harry movie. I forced my husband to watch Deathly Hallows part 2 at an IMAX theater. I have been to Deathly Hallows‘ book launch at a Borders (I was working, but I did pre-order and got my book that night, it was amazing). Hell, I’m even going to the Harry Potter Diagon Alley this October (YES!). I even know what house I’d be placed in (Hufflepuff and proud of it. Badger pride all the way!).

That said, my friends and I decided to go through the series all over again and see what we’ve forgotten and missed. I completely forgot how much Neville is a part of the group. I did forget one of the ending scenes, but it was in the movie. The one test that wasn’t in the movie I remembered. I was annoyed by that because Snape’s test wasn’t in the film and that made him look even more guilty. Yes, I’m a Snape fan.

I forgot how much this book was fun. Sorcerer’s Stone isn’t the first book in the Harry Potter series that I read, but it was the second one. I honestly didn’t care for this book back then. I found it too formulaic and blah. And though you do see a formula, it is a formula for children. You see the amount of work Rowling put into it. I’ve noticed some points in the book that don’t come again until much later.

It is moments like that that make me excited about literature. I love how extensive Rowling’s world is and how much care she puts into the books. The Wizarding world isn’t very detailed in the book (it actually isn’t!), but she gives enough to run our imaginations. By doing that, she makes the world as much as ours as hers.

In Sorcerer’s Stone, we meet The Boy Who Lived. We experience his life in a perfectly normal world, but in an abnormal situation. He is abused, but he doesn’t act like the abused child like you would think. It brings to question just how much and how long he lived that way. Was it until the magic happened?

From there we experience the world, learn a whole new set of words, and meet the people Harry would trust and risk everything for. You don’t see friendships like that. It is rare for someone to have a friendship like what Hermione, Ron and Harry have. I’m lucky to have one, but not many people are. In this book, we learn the power every person has. Our weaknesses are another’s strength and it is our love and respect for one another that makes things happen.

I, of course, will be reading the second book again. But for now, I’m going to relish on what I learned so long ago and was reminded today.