Saturday, 28 February 2015

Too many books to review and an #atozchallenge question

I find that I am suddenly overscheduled for book reviews/tours in March.
Why is everyone launching stuff in March???
Anyway, all that means is that I guess I'll be posting reviews more than twice a week this month then, and will slow down later on.

The other question is really whether I should do A to Z this year or not. I have so many things to do. If I get round to them. So it's really a question of what I want to prioritise, but I really don't want to think about it or make a decision.

So. There's a poll somewhere on the right sidebar that you can vote on.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

#bookreview: Time's Beginning by Dan Rix

Time's Beginning (God's Loophole, #4)Time's Beginning by Dan Rix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where do we go from here? How do we complete a journey that began innocently with youthful idealism and bright futures, but got so snarled along the way with demons and spacetime rips and the end of the world?

As a quick recap, this series starts with God's Loophole, where Jeremy Rockwell builds the prototype of the Bubble and gets his brother, Gabe, and his girlfriend, Rae, to help him test it. Soon, the three teenagers are in deep trouble - not just because they've gained telekinetic powers, but because they've set in motion the end of the world and the FBI are after them. Eternity’s End has Rae stuck in the Bubble, trying to figure out the maze and fighting against herself to survive, whilst Gabe is struggling to learn enough control his powers enough to save her. But the rip in the universe is rapidly growing larger, and more people are dying from a strange demon that demands Rae's life. In Heaven’s Enigma Gabe, Rae and Jeremy have been coerced to help Sabina Boyd save the world from their mistakes.

Time's Beginning, the final book in the series, begins in a hopeless place. The three teens find themselves stuck in a bubble again - but this time, they've been totally cut off from the Earth. They've been cycled down and cut adrift in the realm of possibilities with no way of getting back to Earth - worse still, the Bubble has been severely damaged. It's not just the end of the world that's plaguing them. It's the end of their very existence. To add to that, the demon that's been haunting the rip in Palo Alto has found its way to them and is now picking the six people left in the Cheyenne Mountain bubble off one by one.

It's human nature to fight to survive and to hold on to hope even in the bleakest of situations. So that's exactly what they do. Gabe is still hard at work trying to figure out how they can escape back into the real world while Rae decides to face the Minotaur head on, refusing to be intimidated into inaction. And just when they start to believe that all hope is gone, Kimberly Sims and Lanto turn up, sparking new ideas, revealing new information, and finally giving them a solution that just might save the world.

Rix does a great job weaving the scattered threads together, serving up an ending that is not only satisfying, but beautiful, sweet and tragic. There are times when you want to smack both Rae and Gabe silly (especially Rae), and there are times when you find Jeremy an annoying old stick, but through it all, you feel with them and for them.

*I received a pre-release copy of this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

I've reviewed the God's Loophole series here:
God's Loophole
Eternity's End
Heaven's Enigma

Other books by Dan Rix:
Triton & Entanglement


To try out Dan's books, head over to his website and subscribe to his newsletter!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

#bookreview: Heaven's Enigma by Dan Rix

Heaven's Enigma (God's Loophole Book 3)Heaven's Enigma by Dan Rix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dan Rix ups the ante in Heaven's Enigma, with a terrifying time crunch and mysterious deaths.

Both Gabe and Rae's telekinetic powers are stronger than ever - and Sabina must convince them that they're on the same side, at least until they save the world. Gabe and Rae find themselves facing the brother and boyfriend they thought was dead and buried. The FBI, under Sabina Boyd's instructions, are pulling in everything they've got to finish the countermeasure in time to plug the hole in the universe. But key people on the project are dying mysteriously - and the only clues to their murders are the smell of sulfur, three claw marks, and the words "bring her to me".

Heaven's Enigma is a gripping read, not just because the world is in serious danger now, but also because Raedyn herself not sure if she's the Rae. In the midst of the fear and the tension, Rix takes time to develop the relationship between the three teens, playing them against each other in a mix of competitiveness, childishness, and hormones.
Sabina also gets fleshed out more here, her grit and determination shining through even as she works through the problems and tries to figure out what everything means - or if there is a meaning to it. From simply being the mysterious FBI woman who's just out to get them, she transforms into a strong problem solver with one single-minded focus - to fix this mess they're in.
The addition of Kimberly Sims and her K-9 dog Lanto into this strong cast of female characters can only be a good thing. Her groundedness and simplicity forms a good contrast to the fluctuating mass of nerves that Rae is becoming the longer she is stuck in the bubble.

When you think about it, from the beginning of God's Loophole when it was Jeremy the genius and Gabriel the jock, assisted by Professor Ron Hsu with side-kick Raedyn Summers who's just along for the ride, this series is churning out some really great strong female characters.
Good going, Mr Rix.

View all my reviews

I've reviewed the God's Loophole series here:
God's Loophole
Eternity's End

Other books by Dan Rix:
Triton & Entanglement

Monday, 16 February 2015

Cover reveal: Michael - Path of Angels Book One.



So every once in a while a lovely online friend asks for a favour... and if it involves new books, I'm like sure, why not?

So Patricia is this really lovely bloggy friend I met during the A to Z Challenge, and she's launching a book in March! I have no idea what it's about... (okay, I read the blurb, so I have a brief idea what it's about) but here's the cover!


Add to your Goodreads shelf

Blurb

There is only one path.
Born mortal along with his three brothers, Michael is an Archangel with a specific role: hunt fallen angels and send them back to Hell. He is determined in his mission, never straying from his appointed path, until he meets Lake Divine, and discovers there may be more to his beliefs than blind duty.
But Lake is not who he seems. Offspring of a human and a fallen angel, a Nephilim, Lake must choose his own destiny: give in to the coldness and embrace the dark, or seek the light and rise above the sins of his father.
Two paths lay before them, but only one has the potential to destroy them both.

About the Author


Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. But some stories are meant to be told and this one chose her. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Patricia Josephine writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Follow Patricia on Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Website | Wattpad


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Happy Valentines' Day!


Today's playlist.

It has nothing to do with Valentines'. Sorry.
I just didn't have a title for this random post.
Neither do I have a reason for this post.

Um.
okthxbai

Friday, 13 February 2015

#fridayflash: Unreciprocated

Take a girl out skating, they said. It'll be romantic. Every time she wobbles, take hold of her hands and steady her. Look her in the eyes and tell her you have faith in her abilities. She'll love you for that. And you'll have every reason to put your arm around her waist to make sure she doesn't fall. And if she does, well, you'll be there to help her up and kiss away her wounds.

Except I was the one with the horrible balance, and she was the one skating laps around me, laughing every time I fell.

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Theme: Unromantic, courtesy of The Writer's Tower.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

#bookreview: Blood Orchids by Toby Neal

Blood Orchids (Lei Crime, #1)Blood Orchids by Toby Neal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blood Orchids is the story of Lei Texeira, a young female police officer trying to make detective. Nothing much happens in Hilo, so when two teens are found murdered, the police force struggles to investigate the case. Lei begs to be put on the team, but when she's finally assigned to the case, she soon finds that the case is triggering long-buried memories of her tumultuous past. There's also a stalker leaving frightening notes on her doorstep, and the complication of falling in love with the lead detective, Michael Stevens.

The novel isn't so much a straight-forward crime-solving mystery than it is a story of coping with trauma and moving on with life - probably because Toby Neal is a mental health therapist by profession. This doesn't really detract from the crime-solving part of it; instead, it seems to add layers to the work.

One of the things that irritated me about the novel was that there seemed to be too many plot points. It felt as if there were too many things going on at once, that the reader is overwhelmed by things that are not what it seems and when you think you finally know what it is, it's not again. That really struck me somewhere towards the end of the story when they had found the murderer.... but there was like another 30 minutes reading time to go. What?!
(Add to that fact the point that the resolution for the second ending felt quite weak...)

To balance that out, one of the things I liked about Blood Orchids is the way Neal weaves in the local Hawaiian pidgin into the dialogue. In some ways it makes it feel a little more natural, interspersed as it is at strategic times. In other books, there are times when doing this makes it awkward and difficult to read, but there's nothing forced or overdone in Blood Orchids.

I've been following Toby Neal on Twitter, Instagram and her blog (via Triberr) for a while now before getting round to reading her book - and I am glad that I did.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Maybe I'm just supposed to be a kele-feh. Not.

I grew up hearing this word "kelefeh" bandied about during church plays and school presentations. I knew what it meant though I always thought it was some official fancy kind of theatre term (probably French) until I tried to find out how it was spelled. Then I discovered that the actual industry term for it was "extra" - and it was used mainly in movies/film. The only reason we used it that much was due to our Chinese speaking background (it's apparently Cantonese) and our need to be inclusive, whereby anyone who's in the group needs to have a role, even if they hate acting (or can't act); they end up volunteering to kelefeh as the crowd, a tree, a rock, a log, or whatever needs to be in the scene, but doesn't have to say anything.

We were covering the book of Job during cell group one Tuesday and one of our cell members made this observation:
"How come the bible doesn't talk about Job's children? It's like they were all just kelefeh. Maybe that's what some of us are meant to be."
It was quite depressing.

But maybe that's the danger in the constant message to "just do it" and "make a change in the world". It puts on a platform those who have made it big in life, and says that if you don't reach that level of achievement (or if you don't dream to), there is something wrong with you. It puts down the simple dreams of simple people who maybe only want to find a good spouse and have children, or make the next promotion at work, or earn just a little bit extra so that they can save and not worry so much about the future.
It's saying that significance is only if thousands of people look up to you, or you become "famous".

There's this constant push for bigger, better, newer and cutting edge even in the church, which can be severely harmful to those who don't have limelight talents. It makes those who enjoy performing seem holier, because they're seen on stage, or they're promoted as being "anointed" through their singing or their music or charisma or whatever visible gift that they wield for God. Or themselves. Sometimes it's hard to tell which.

And so we are defeated even before we start because we place unnatural expectations on ourselves. And we forget that we are all the body, and we are all His children, no matter if our role is big or small, if we influence one or if we influence one thousand.

In another cell group, a thousand miles away on a Friday night (because I'm continuing this in a really disjointed matter after maybe half a year or so), some of them brought up how bad they felt that they have never personally let a person to Christ, or how little impact they seemed to have, even in inviting their friends to church. And yet the thing is, one sows and another reaps. And you don't always know where in this process you are. But as long as you are faithful, God can use you.

Because He doesn't measure success in the same way that we do. He's not looking for the tangible products or the hard numbers. He's not looking at the graphs and the figures. He's looking at your heart and how you cling to Him. He's looking to see how you respond when He speaks. He's speaking to that yearning in your heart that tells you that you can be more than you ever imagined you would be, even if all you imagine yourself to be is the best engineer in your team.

And until and unless our narrative changes, we'll always miss the point.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

#bookreview: Division by Lee S. Hawke

Division: A Collection of Science Fiction FairytalesDivision: A Collection of Science Fiction Fairytales by Lee S. Hawke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Science Fiction Fairytales. Read that again. Science Fiction Fairytales. Figured it out yet?
I haven't. But I like it.

From the first story, The Soldier, up to the final title story, Division Hawke draws you into a strange yet familiar future world of technology, pushing the limits of what we'd expect to be normal.

The Soldier tells the tale of being used as a soldier in the war against disease. Dissimilation brings you into a virtual reality within a virtual reality within - which is the real world again? Please Connect makes you ponder a world where human connection has disappeared and sex is an unnatural ritual obligated by the government.
In The Grey Wall you discover a strange world of living furniture, and wonder - what if? - even as Beauty brings you deeper into a different world where you wonder what choices you would make if you could change everything about yourself. Lemuria is a semi-horror story of an alien-like invasion and escape.
Undoubtedly, the crown jewel of this anthology is Division itself, a story of raw grief, of coping mechanisms, of pain, of division and loss.

It's a short work, one you can finish reading in maybe an hour or less. But it's one that leaves you with a satisfied feeling in your chest.

I received a gift copy of this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 1 February 2015

#bookreview: The Gift of Charms by Julia Suzuki (based on a preview)

Okay. So in the strangest of all review requests I have ever received... I was asked to write a review on a 3-chapter preview of Julia Suzuki's The Gift of Charms. Review requests are usually for the whole book but... since this was what was requested, here goes:

The Gift of Charms is a story of a dragon - a dragon with strange heralds from birth. Will he be a gift or a curse? It feels like the beginnings of another coming-of-age story, as well as a prophecy/omen-fulfilling story, and maybe a little epic-type fantasy. It is, after all, a story about dragons. I don't know how epic it will be since nothing much happens in the first 3 chapters except Yoshiko's strange birth, and the opening set up of him as a typical middle-school kid (dragon) being teased for not being able to make fire.

The writing itself seems to be targeted at a younger age group than I am currently interested in reading (I do read children's books, MG and YA, with a stronger preference on YA) so whilst the preview was pretty engaging, this may not be one that I will actually get round to buying anytime in the near future seeing that my to-read list is getting exceptionally long.

In terms of rating, at the moment it would be somewhere between a 2.5 - 3 star book (out of 5). It sounds like something I'd be interested in reading at the end of a long, stressful day, when I don't actually want to think and need something quick, simple and engaging. I won't have a final rating until I actually read the complete book. If I ever do.

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Because I'm too lazy to reproduce and format the press release, here's a screencap:

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To buy the books, visit:
http://bit.ly/BuyDragorBooks
Author website: http://www.juliasuzuki.com 

Twitter: @JuliaSuzuki_uk