Monday, February 29, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (audiobook novelization) by Alan Dean Foster - Paul's REVIEW

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible


Title: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (novelization)
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Year Published: 2015

Narrator: Marc Thompson
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 21 minutes


Synopsis: Set years after Return of the Jedi, this stunning action-packed adventure rockets us back into the world of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2,and Luke Skywalker, while introducing a host of exciting new characters. Darth Vader may have been redeemed and the Emperor vanquished, but peace can be fleeting, and evil does not easily relent. Yet the simple belief in good can still empower ordinary individuals to rise and meet the greatest challenges.



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Review: Recently, I've been reading as much Star Wars as I can. I chose to read the novelization of The Force Awakens through my ears. I really enjoyed the music and sound effects that were added to this reading by the wonderful Marc Thompson. He does a great job with all of the characters' voices, especially Han Solo's. 


I've only seen the film twice in theaters so far, but listening to this audiobook brought the imagery back with added color. There were times where scenes seemed to be lengthened and dragged on more so than the speedy movie, but I enjoyed added scenes that delved more into aspects of characters not featured as much in the film. Leia is more fledged out in the novelization. The force vision has some added bits. The Finn and Poe bromance/romance was even more there. Stormpilot!

I have to admit, I got stuck in the middle of the book. The arrival of Han and Chewie plus the rathtar scene took me forever to listen to. 

If you are starving for more Star Wars, especially the new characters, I definitely recommend this. I give this novelization a 4/5.


--PAUL

RELEASE BLITZ: The Raven's Daughter by Peggy A. Wheeler


About the Book

Title: The Raven’s Daughter
Author: Peggy A. Wheeler
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Expected Publication Date: February 29th, 2016

Synopsis: A Murdering Demon and a Myth Come to Life

After a police shoot out where she killed a man, criminologist Maggie Tall Bear Sloan retires from the force to enjoy some peace and quiet in a rural California town. But when children are murdered, she is recruited by the local sheriff to solve the gruesome killings.

As the manhunt intensifies, Maggie will do whatever it takes to keep her family safe from the killer. Awake or asleep, Maggie is faced with a difficult choice: embrace her heritage, even if that means turning into myth itself. Or deny that heritage and lose everything.

But to catch a killer, Maggie must accept her true nature as a “pukkukwerek”- the shapeshifting
monster killer of Yurok legend-or more children will die.

Maggie must find a way to trust herself again, learning along the way that not all things are as
they seem, and that some myths really are true.

Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble | Kobo 

About the Author

Peggy A. Wheeler is published under the names of Peggy A. Wheeler, Peggy Wheeler and Peggy Dembicer. Her non-fiction articles and poetry have appeared in a number of national magazines and anthologies. She has written for Llewellyn Worldwide. Most recently, her short story "Mama’s Special Stew" appears in Women Writing the Weird II: Dreadful Daughters, by Dog Horn Press.

Her B.A. in English Literature is from U.C.L.A. Her M.A. in English with a Creative Writing emphasis is from California State University at Northridge. While attending U.C.L.A., Peggy was one of only twelve students (and the only undergraduate) chosen to study with Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States. She won first prize awards for two of her poems from an Evergreen Women’s Press nation wide poetry contest. Her poetry received honorable mentions from the judges of a Los Angeles Poetry Festival and The Academy of American Poets. Peggy’s poem Du Fu was nominated for a Rhysling award for Best Science Fiction Poem. Her manuscript for The Raven's Daughter was a top ten finalist in the 2014 CCC Great Novel contest.

Find Peggy Online: Twitter | Website | Facebook



Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (audiobook) by Tom Angleberger - Paul's REVIEW

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Title: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Author: Tom Angleberger
Year Published: 2010

Narrators: Mark Turetsky, Greg Steinbruner, Jonathan Ross, Julia Gibson, and Charlotte Parry
Audiobook Length: 2 hours 13 minutes


Synopsis: IT TAKES THE WISDOM OF YODA TO SURVIVED THE SIXTH GRADE

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him "Captain Dwight." This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day. 

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that's when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It's crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda's advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is Tommy's case file of his investigation into "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda."


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Review: I am a huge fan of Star Wars books. This book is interesting in that Yoda is a big part of it, but it doesn't take place in the Star Wars universe. It takes place in an American middle school in modern times. And Yoda is made of paper. 


I listened to the audiobook, which has multiple narrators. The voices are all done well, allowing the listener to differentiate easily. 

There are many different middle school aged children featured in this book. I think any kid of that age would enjoy this book and be able to find different parts of themselves in different characters. Dwight is at the center of the story, having created Origami Yoda. He is a different kid who plays by his own rules. The author himself identifies as having Asperger’s. It appears many of his own school experiences were used in this book. 

I think kids who may be considered weird and kids who know other kids they call weird will enjoy this book. It can provide a means of empathy. There are multiple perspectives shown throughout the book. I personally found some of the things the bullies were saying harsh, but that's the point.

I give this book a 4/5. It is great for middle-school aged kids, especially those who may find themselves a little different than everyone else. 


--PAUL

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It (audiobook) - Paul's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible


Title: Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It
Author: Grace Helbig
Year Published: 2016

Narrator: Grace Helbig
Audiobook Length: 4 hours 11 minutes


Synopsis: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grace’s Guide and the host of The Grace Helbig Show on E! comes a beautifully illustrated, tongue-in-cheek book about style that lampoons fashion and beauty guides while offering practical advice in Grace Helbig’s trademark sweet and irreverent voice.




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Review: This book opens up with a very personal story from Grace. I was unsure if a book about style would be my cup of tea. I'm a huge Grace Helbig fan, but I'm also a 27 year old man. Although there were some sections that didn't really apply to me, most of the stories are relatable. 


My favorite part of the book was the narrative from the perspective of a pair of sweatpants. It's the diary of a pair of sweatpants that gets a scholarship to the Mall of America. I definitely want to see more fiction from Grace! She knows how to write emotional  outrageous comedy.

I listened to the audiobook of this book. I really enjoyed that Grace narrates it herself. The personal stories really have heart. She was brave to open up about her own experiences with eating disorders.

I give this book a 5/5. There were some parts that I had to just wade through, but the parts I enjoyed I reaaaaaallllllyyy liked. I never thought a diary written from the perspective of clothes could be such an emotional epic. 


--PAUL

Friday, February 26, 2016

M9B FRIDAY REVEAL: Nobody's Lady (The Never Veil #2) by Amy McNulty - Cover Reveal + Chap 1 + GIVEAWAY!



Today Amy McNulty and Month9Books are
revealing the cover and first chapter for Nobody's Lady, Book 2 in the Never
Veil Series which releases April 12, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and
enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!!

On to the reveal!




Title: Nobody's Lady
Author: Amy McNulty
Pub. Date: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook

Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

For the first time in a thousand years,
the men in Noll’s village possess the freedom to love whom they will. In order
to give each man the chance to fully explore his feelings, the lord of the
village decrees all marriages null and void until both spouses declare their
love for one another and their desire to wed again. What many women think will
be a simple matter becomes a source of village-wide tension as most men decide
to leave their families and responsibilities behind.

Rejected by the lord and ashamed of her
part in the village’s history, Noll withdraws from her family and lives life as
an independent woodcarver. This changes when her sister accuses her of hiding
her former husband Jurij from her—and when Jurij eventually does ask to move
in. Determined not to make the same mistakes, Noll decides to support her male
friends through their new emotional experiences, but she’s soon caught up in a
darker plot than she ever dared imagine possible from the men she thought she
knew so well. And the lord for whom she still has feelings may be hiding the
most frightening truth of them all.




Excerpt


Chapter One



When I thought I understood real friendship, I was a long-lost queen. When I discovered there was so much more to my life than love and hate, that those around me were just pawns in a game whose rules I’d unwittingly put in place, I discovered I was a long-forgotten goddess. But goddess or not, powerless or powerful, my feet were taking me someplace I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. What did I hope to find? Did I truly believe I could hear him call me—that he’d want to call me? Yes, I did. I wanted to see him again. I wanted to hope, even if I wasn’t sure I was allowed. If I deserved to. I headed down the familiar dirt path beneath the lattice of trees overhead, pausing beside the bush with a partially snapped stem that jutted outward like a broken limb. The one that pointed to the secret cavern.



Only, it’s not much of a secret anymore, is it?



My feet picked themselves up. Glowing pools would never again tempt me.



I reached the black, towering fortress that had for so long shaken and screamed at the power of my glance.



For the first time in this lifetime, I stared up at it, and nothing moved. My legs, unused to such steady footing while in the sight of the lord’s castle, twitched in anticipation of a fall that never came.



There was no need. My feet dragged me forward.



At the grand wooden door, I raised a fist to knock.



But I stopped. I felt like if I touched it, the entire castle might crumble. It had done so once before. Not at my touch exactly. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was responsible for whatever destruction I’d find in this place. But that was presumptuous of me. He was strong-willed, and he wouldn’t crumble at the prospect of freedom. If anything, he’d be triumphant over it.



You can’t stop now. I pulled my sleeves over my wrists and propped both elbows against the door, pushing until it gave way.



The darkness inside the foyer tried to deceive me into thinking night had fallen. The stream of light that trickled from the familiar crack in the garden door called the darkness a liar.



I gripped the small iron handles, the material of my sleeves guarding the cold metal from my touch, and pulled.



My touch had come to the garden before me.



The rose bushes that surrounded the enclosed circular area were torn, ripped, trodden, and plucked. The blooms lay withered, scattered and turned to dust, their once-white petals a sickly shade of yellowish brown, smooth blooms turned coarse and wrinkled.



The fountain at the center no longer trickled with water. Its shallow pool was stagnant, piles of brown festering in mildewing green liquid. Dotted amongst the brown was pallid stone rubble. The tears of the weeping elf child statue, which belonged at the top of the fountain, had ceased at last. But the gash across its face told me the child’s tears had not been staunched by joy. I wondered if Ailill had had it carved to represent the pain I’d inflicted on him as a child. And I wondered if now he could no longer bear to remind himself of what I’d done.



I hadn’t done this. But I felt as if I had. If Ailill had gone on a rampage after he came back to the castle, it was because of what I’d done to him. Everything I touched turned sour. I yanked and pulled, trying to draw my hands further into my sleeves, but there wasn’t enough material to cover them entirely.



“Well, what a surprise.”
I gazed into the shadow beside the doorway. How could I have not seen? The stone table was occupied. The place where I’d sat alone for hours, days, and months was littered with crumpled and decaying leaves, branches, and petals, obscuring the scars left by a dagger or knife striking time and time again across its surface. The matching bench that once nestled on the opposite side was toppled over, leaving only dark imprints in the dirt.



“A pity you could not make yourself at home here when you were welcome.”



My breath caught in my throat.



The man at the table was clad entirely in black, as I knew he would be. The full-length jacket had been swapped for a jerkin, but I could see the embossing of roses hadn’t been discarded in the exchange. He wore dark leather gloves, the fingers of which were crossed like the wings of a bird in flight. His pale elbows rested on the table amongst the leaves and branches and thorns. He wore the hat I was used to seeing him wear, a dark, pointed top resting on a wide brim. Its black metal band caught a ray of the sunlight almost imperceptibly. But I noticed. I always did.



His face was entirely uncovered. Those large and dark eyes, locked on me, demanded my attention. They were the same eyes of the boy I’d left alone to face my curse—not so long ago from my point of view. He was more frightened then, but there was no mistaking the hurt in those eyes both then and now.



“You are not welcome here, Olivière.”



His words sliced daggers through my stomach.



“I … I thought I heard you call me.”



He cocked his head to the side, his brown eyes moving askance. “You heard me call you?”



“Yes … ” I realized how foolish it sounded. I was a fool to come. Why had I let myself fall for that sound again, for my name whispered on the wind? Why was I so certain it was he who’d said my name?



He smiled, not kindly. “And where, pray tell, have you been lurking? Under a rose bush? Behind the garden door? Or do those rounded female ears possess a far greater sense of hearing than my jagged male ones?”



I brushed the tips of my ears self-consciously. Elric had been so fascinated by them, by what he saw as a mutilation. This lord—Ailill—wasn’t like that. He’d touched them once, as a child. He’d tried to heal them, thinking they were meant to be pointed.



The boy with a heart was the man sitting there before me. Even after all we’d been through, he’d still done me a kindness by healing my mother. “No, I just thought—”



“No, you did not think, or you would not have come.”



I clenched my jaw. My tongue was threatening to spew the vile anger that had gotten us into this mess to begin with.



He sighed and crossed his arms across his chest. “I gave explicit instructions that I not be disturbed.” He leaned back against the wall behind him, his chin jutting outward slightly.



I wiped my sweaty fingertips on my skirt. I wouldn’t let the rest of my hands out from the insides of my sleeves. The sweat had already soaked through them. “I needed to thank you.”



He scoffed. “Thank me for what? For your prolonged captivity, or for not murdering both your mother and your lover when I had the chance?”



So you admit you took Jurij to punish me? You admit they were both in danger in your “care”? Quickly, I had to clench my jaw to keep down the words that threatened to spill over. He’s not who I thought he was. He wouldn’t have harmed them.



I loosened the muscles in my jaw one hair’s breadth at a time.



“For healing me when you were a child. For accepting me into your castle instead of putting me to death for trespassing in it. For … For forgiving me for cursing you, even though you were innocent.” My voice was quiet, but I was determined to make it grow louder. “For saving my mother’s life.”



He waved one hand lazily in the air. “Unfinished projects irk me.”



“But you didn’t have to.”



A shrug. “The magic was nearly entirely spent on the churl anyway.”



“I beg your pardon?”



He leaned forward and placed both palms across the rotted forest remnants on the table. “My apologies,” he said, his lips curled into a sneer. “I simply meant that I wasted years and years and let the magic wither from my body to save a person of no consequence. You may thank me for that if you like. I would rather not be reminded of it.”



How odd it was to see the face I’d imagined come to life. The mocking, the condescending—it was all there. I just hadn’t known the canvas before.



And what a strange and beautiful canvas it was. That creamy peach skin, the brownish tint of his shoulder-length tresses. He was so much paler than any person I had ever seen. Save for the specters.



Despite the paleness, part of me felt I wasn’t wrong to have mistaken one brother for another. Elric had been dark-skinned, but they seemed almost like reflections of the same person; they shared the same brows, the same lips, and even eyes of a similar shape if not color. Perhaps the face before me was a bit gaunter, the nose a bit longer. It was easier to focus on the differences. Thinking of the similarities made me want to punch the face in front of me all the more—and that would undermine everything I had set out to do when I made my way to him. I wanted to see if you were really restored to life. Say it. I wanted to know if you really forgave me. Say it. I wanted to know why I … Why I feel this way about you, why I keep thinking about you, when I used to be unable to stand the sight of you. Say it, Noll! I dug my nails into my palm and shook the thoughts from my head. He’d called my mother a “churl.” I couldn’t just tell him everything I was thinking. “Have you no sense of empathy?”



“What a coincidence that you should mention that. I am sending Ailill to the village with an edict. He can escort


you there.”

“Ailill?” But aren’t you him? Could I have been mistaken? Oh, goddess, help me, why do I do this to myself? Why do I think I know everything?



He waved his hand, and one of the specters appeared beside me from the foyer.



The specters. There were about a hundred of them in the castle. Pale as snow in skin and hair with red, burning eyes. Mute servants who seemed to anticipate the lord’s every command. Only now I knew who they really were.



Oh. “You call him by your own name?” I asked.



He raised an eyebrow. “I call them all by my name. They are me, remember?”



His icy stare sent another invisible dagger through my stomach. “Yes, but—”



“A shame you never cared to ask my name when you were my guest,” he said. “I have a feeling things might have turned out much differently—for all of us.”



“You knew what would happen! Why didn’t you warn me?” I had to squeeze my fists and teeth together to stop myself from screaming. This wasn’t going at all like I had hoped. But what had I hoped? What could I have possibly expected? I thought I’d be forgiven. I thought that Ailill and I might start over, that we could be friends, perhaps even … What a fool I’ve been.



Ailill turned slightly, his attention suddenly absorbed in a single white petal that remained on a half-trodden bush beside him. “I was not entirely in control of my emotions,” he said, “as you may well know.”



“I tried to give you a way out!” My jaw wouldn’t stay shut.



Ailill laughed and reached over to pluck the petal from its thorns. “Remind me exactly when that was? Perhaps between condemning me to an eternal life of solitude and wretchedness and providing yourself with a way to feel less guilty about the whole affair? And then you just popped right back to the present, I suppose, skipping over those endless years in a matter of moments.” He crushed the petal in his hand.



“A way to let myself feel less guilty?” He wasn’t entirely wrong. But it wasn’t as if he had done nothing wrong.



Ailill bolted upright, slamming the fist that gripped the petal against the twigs and grass on the table. “Your last words to me were entirely for your own benefit, as well you know!”



If, after your own Returning, you can find it in your heart to forgive me, the last of the men whose blood runs with his own power will free all men bound by my curse.



“How is wishing to break the curse on the village for my benefit?”



“Perhaps because the curse was your doing? Perhaps because you only wanted the curse broken to free your lover from it in the first place?”



“Stop calling Jurij my ‘lover.’ He’s not—”



“And you did free him with those words. You knew I would forgive you.”



“How could I have known? I didn’t think it possible you’d forgive me, not after all we’ve been through.”



“You knew because you knew I wanted to be free myself. That I would do anything—even forgive you for half a moment—to earn that freedom.” His voice grew quieter. “You never wanted anything from me, not really. I was just a pawn in your game, a way to free the other men in your village, a way to punish the men from mine.”



I fought back what I couldn’t believe was threatening to spring to my eyes. No tears, not in front of him.



“The men of the old village deserved everything they got,” I spat at last, knowing full well that wasn’t the whole story.



Ailill scoffed and put both hands on his hips, his arms akimbo. Oh, how I tired of that pose. The crushed petal remained on the table. Its bright white added a bit of life to the decay.



“There were plenty of young boys not yet corrupted,” he said. “And some that might have never been.” He took a deep breath. “But, of course, you are not entirely to blame. I blame myself every day for ever taking a childish interest in you. That should not have counted as love.”



I swallowed. Of course. Before the curse of the village had broken, a woman had absolute power over the one man who loved or yearned for her. When I visited the past through the pool in the secret cavern, I discovered a horde of lusty men who knew nothing of love but were overcome with desire. Since so many had lusted for any female who walked before them, and I had carried the power from my own version of the village with me, it had been child’s play to control the men. But why had that power extended to Ailill? He had only been a boy then, broken, near silent—and kindhearted. He couldn’t have regarded me with more than a simple crush on an older sisterly figure, but it had been enough.



“But you did forgive me.” Why couldn’t I stop the words from flowing?



Ailill shook his head and let a weary smile spread across his features. “Forgive you? I could never forgive you. No more than I could forgive myself for daring to think, if just for a moment, that I … ” He stopped.



I shook my head. “The curse wouldn’t have been broken. The men in the village wouldn’t now be walking around without masks. Nor you without your veil. If you hadn’t forgiven me.”



Ailill tilted his head slightly. His dark eyes searched mine, perhaps for some answer he thought could be found there. “I would still need the veil even now?” he asked, his voice quiet. “Are you certain?”



Removing the veil before the curse was broken would have required the Returning, a ritual in which I freely and earnestly bestowed my heart and affection to him. It would have never happened, not with the man I knew at the time to be mine. So yes, he would still need the veil to survive the gaze of women. I was sure of it. He’d been arrogant, erratic, and even cruel. Perhaps not so much as Elric, Ailill’s even more volatile older brother, the one who wound up with a mob of angry, murderous women in his castle and a gouge through his heart. But even so.



It was my turn to cross my arms and sneer. “I said you could break the curse after your own Returning, and I specified that you didn’t need my affection to have a Returning. All you needed to do was crawl out of whatever abyss I’d sent you to.” I shifted uncomfortably in place. “And I suppose I should be grateful—for my mother’s sake—that you did.”



Ailill waved a hand at the specter beside me and brushed aside a pile of clippings on the table to reveal a hand-written letter. It was yellowed and a tad soggy. “Yes, well, the endless droning that made up your curse gets a bit foggy in my mind—assuming it even made sense in your mind to begin with. I am afraid I lack the ability to retain exact memories of an event that took place a hundred lifetimes ago when I was but a scarred child terrified of the monster before him.” He looked up to face me as the specter retrieved the letter from his extended hand. “But I suppose it was not all that long ago for the monster, was it?” He turned again to the table, shuffling brush about aimlessly. “Take her with you to the market,” he said.



The specter made to grab my arm as he passed. I slipped out of his reach only to back into another specter who had appeared quick as lightning from the foyer. He grabbed one arm, and the first specter seized the other.



“Let go of me!” I shouted as they began to drag me away.



The specters didn’t pause, as they once would have.



“Stop!” called Ailill from behind me. The specters did as they were told.



Ailill spoke. “I forgot to inform you that my retainers lost all desire to follow your orders when I did.” He waved his fingers in the air. “Carry on.”



I struggled against the grip the specters had on my arms. Again. He has me under his thumb again. “I can walk by myself!” I screamed as my toes slid awkwardly against the dark foyer floor. “I don’t need to go to the market!”



A black carriage awaited us outside the castle doorway. A third specter opened the carriage door, and my captors heaved me up into the seat like a sack of grain. The one with the letter slid in and took the seat across from me. He stared vacantly at the top of the seat behind me.



I leaned forward, whipping my hand out to stop the carriage door as one of the specters moved to close it. I didn’t care what I touched in the castle anymore. Let the whole thing crumble.



A black-gloved hand covered mine. I jumped back. Ailill stuck his head inside the carriage. His face stopped right before mine, the brim of his hat practically shading me under it. The sight of his face so close to mine, unveiled and painted with disdain, caused a thunderous racing of my heart. It was as if I’d just run the length of the entire village.



“You kept your hair short,” he said. He reached his free hand toward it, then pulled back.



I’d once let the bushy mess of black hair grow as long as it wanted, but once I cropped it closely to my scalp, I found it easier to deal with. “There hasn’t been enough time for it to grow, anyway. Not for me.”



He snorted. “Of course. But it makes me remember you as you were, long ago. When you cursed me and every man whether he deserved it or not.” He leaned back a bit, putting more space between our faces. “I think you will be most interested in going with my servants to the market,” he said. “But there will be no need to thank me in person afterward. I would rather not see you again.” His eyes drifted upwards, thoughtfully. “In fact, remind the villagers that I am closed to all audiences. My servants will be out there to see that my edict is obeyed.”



Before I could speak, he leaned back and let my hand fall from his. He reached around the door to close it.



“Wait—”



And slammed it in my face.





About Amy: 

Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and
editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published
in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high
school and currently writes professionally about everything from business
marketing to anime. In her down time, you can find her crafting stories with
dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings. Visit
her website at amymcnulty.com.







Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive an eBook of NOBODY’S
GODDESS and an eGalley of NOBODY’S LADY. International.



Star Wars: Lando (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Star Wars: Lando

Author: Charles Soule
Illustrator: Alex Maleev
Recent Release Date: January 19, 2016

Synopsis: You know him, you love him -- now, join him for his biggest caper ever as master of charm Lando Calrissian steps into his very own high-stakes adventure! Before he joined the rebellion, before he ran Cloud City, Lando made his way in the galaxy getting by on some swindles, some swagger and a smile. With the loyal Lobot at his side, Lando has a plan to steal a very valuable ship. But has he bitten off more than he can chew? One of the galaxy's deadliest, most effective trackers is on his tail, and the heist of a lifetime has become a fight to survive! Lando and Lobot took this gig for the easy payday -- but if they make it through alive, they'll never be the same. It's the tale of a scoundrel in his natural element: trouble! Collecting LANDO #1-5.



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Review: This is another miniseries from Marvel. I've really enjoyed the focuses on different characters. This one lets Lando take the lead. The art in this graphic novel doesn't feel very Star Wars to me. I like it, but it just doesn't have that classic feel to it. The designs of the aliens feels off as well.


The Sith Infiltrator appears in this series. I always like when prequel era blends into the original trilogy. 

The bounty hunters of the Star Wars universe have always been cool. This series introduces some more mercenaries. The feline duo is interesting.

Lobot has such a small, but present role in The Empire Strike Back. It's neat to see more of his history. This book has a surprisingly emotional ending.  

This miniseries really got Lando as a character. I loved the way he used the blaster towards the end. I wasn't hooked from the start, but the writing really pulled me in. By the end, I wanted more! I give Lando a 4/5. I'm excited for more Star Wars from Charles Soule. He is doing the upcoming Poe Dameron comic.


--PAUL

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: 
Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon 
Author: Jason Aaron
Illustrators:  Stuart Immonen, Simone Bianchi
Recent Release Date: January 26, 2016

Synopsis: Injustice reigns on Tatooine as villainous scum run rampant. Will Ben Kenobi risk revealing himself to do what's right? Then, Luke continues his quest to learn about the Jedi by heading for the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Plus: Han & Leia are confronted by an unexpected foe from Han's past!

COLLECTING: STAR WARS 7-12



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Review: This is the second volume in the ongoing Star Wars series from Marvel. The first issue collected in this volume is a tale from Obi-wan's journal. I love seeing what Kenobi was up to on Tatooine between Episode 3 and 4. 


The characters are written very well in this series. The banter between Han and Leia is on point. I also like seeing the naive Luke from A New Hope

One great thing about the new Marvel comics is how all things canon are referenced. Luke fights Magnaguards! The imagery blending the aesthetic of both trilogies is so cool. There are a lot of references in Grakkus the Hutt's collection. Oppo Rancisis, Shaak Ti, and Tera Sinube all cameo. There's even a jedi temple guard mask.

There were a lot of great original characters in this volume. My favorite was probably the Gamemaster. Grakkus was a very different type of hutt. There is a badass looking pirate/smuggler Gungan! Sana Solo added an interesting atmosphere to Han and Leia's mission, although Sana's story is a little too Firefly in my opinion.

I give this volume a 4/5. I will absolutely be continuing this series. The next volumes are in the Vader Down crossover event.


--PAUL

M9B FRIDAY REVEAL: Facsimile by Vicki L. Weavil - Book Trailer + GIVEAWAY!



Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal! "But wait it's a Thursday!" you're probably telling yourself! Yes it is but we have a super special reveal for you today and we will have a reveal tomorrow as well!
This week, we are revealing the trailer for
Facsimile by Vicki L. Weavil 
an upcoming Month9Books Title!


facsimile ebook final
Title: Facsimile
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Pub. Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback & eBook

Find it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Synopsis: For a ticket to Earth, seventeen-year-old Anna-Maria “Ann” Solano is willing to jettison her birth planet, best friend, and the boy who loves her. Especially since all she’s required to do is escort Dace Keeling, a young naturalist, through the wilderness of the partially terraformed planet Eco. Ann‘s determination to escape the limitations of her small, frontier colony never falters, until Dace’s expeditions uncover three secrets. One offers riches, one shatters Ann’s perceptions of herself, and one reveals that the humans stranded on Eco are not its only inhabitants.

Ann’s willing to sacrifice friendship and love for a new life on Earth. But when an entire species is placed in jeopardy by her actions, she must make a choice – fulfill the dream that’s always sustained her, or save the planet she’s never considered home.

Now here's the trailer!










Vicki Weavil 11

Vicki L. Weavil is represented by Fran Black of Literary Counsel. Her Young Adult Fantasy, CROWN OF ICE -- a dark YA retelling of H.C. Andersen's "The Snow Queen" -- is published by Month9Books. Two companion books to CROWN OF ICE -- SCEPTER OF FIRE and ORB OF LIGHT -- will be published in 2016 and 2017.

Her YA SciFi -- FACSIMILE -- will be published by Month9Books in 2016, with a sequel, DERIVATION, to follow.

 A new YA Fantasy, THE DIAMOND THIMBLE, will be published by Month9Books in 2018. She also writes adult SciFi.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr



 
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win.
Title will be sent upon its release.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig - Paul's REVIEW

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Star Wars: Aftermath

Author: Chuck Wendig
Recent Release Date: September 4, 2015

Synopsis: The second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos.

Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side.

And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone Rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting…



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Review: This book is really two different books. There is one continuous narrative throughout that follows the events surrounding a meeting of remnant Imperials. The second is an anthology of short stories showing small vignettes into different planets after the destruction of the second Death Star.


I really enjoyed the vignettes. It's wonderful to finally get a glimpse into the post-ROTJ canon universe. I liked how random characters were featured, some from the films and others completely new. There's a whole chapter about Dengar trying to get a younger bounty hunter to join a union. 

I loved the diverse representation in this book. There were multiple queer characters and their sexuality was just a small aspect of their character. It was handled really well.

This was the first Chuck Wendig book I've read and it did take some time to get used to the present tense choppy sentences. It was about halfway into the book when I really got into it. I knew the characters and all the stories were starting to come together.

I definitely recommend this to Star Wars fans. The interludes are amazing. I'm excited for the rest of this trilogy. I give Aftermath a 4/5


--PAUL

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Sword of Shannara (audiobook) by Terry Brooks - Paul's REVIEW

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

Title: The Sword of Shannara
Author: Terry Brooks
Year Published: 1977

Narrator: Scott Brick
Audiobook Length: 26 hours 


Synopsis: Long ago, wars of ancient Evil ruined the world and forced mankind to compete with many other races - gnomes, trolls, dwarfs, and elves. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles until giant, forbidding Allanon, with strange Druidic powers, reveals a supposedly-dead Warlock Lord plots to destroy the world. 

The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, only usable by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races. Soon a Skull Bearer, dread minion of Evil, flies into the Vale to kill Shea. To save the Vale, Shea flees, drawing the Skull Bearer after him.


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Review: There were a few reasons I wanted to read this book. A tv series on MTV, which actually follows the second book not this one, recently came out. The Sword & Laser book club is reading it this month. And, it's a classic fantasy novel that I want to have read so I can have a valid opinion of it. For those reasons, I stuck to it and finished the book. I took it as a challenge.


This book started out very slow. There is so much exposition and history. It is highly influenced by The Lord of the Rings. There are some scenes, characters, and plot points that are directly pulled from or parallel precisely those in Tolkien's works. Some of them change just enough for it to be a comment or allusion to the world's most well known fantasy trilogy, but others seem like fan fiction dreams. 

I was listening to the audiobook version of this book. By the time I was a third in, I had increased the speed to 3x. I have never even listened to a book at 1.5x speed. Surprisingly, I could understand it perfectly and things seemed to start happening a lot more often. I'm not sure if it was just the speed increase or if the book actually did get better as it continued. 

One of the biggest differences between Brooks's and Tolkien's works is that the Shannara Chronicles take place in a far future after the fall of man. I thought that aspect was interesting, but this book didn't delve into it much. I also wanted a better explanation for the different races. It seems like they were supposed to have all evolved from humans, but the evolutionary theory behind it did not make any sense. 

I know this book is almost forty years old, but there was only one female character. There was even a fake-out where a woman ended up just being an illusion. There were a lot of characters and I found myself not remembering. When the story focused on smaller groups I enjoyed it more. Panamon Creel was my favorite character. If this book was written in 2016, there would definitely have been more romantic tension between him and Shea Ohmsford. I ship it!

I did not enjoy this book. I found it interesting, but at this moment I have no desire to continue this series. The book was far too long for how simple it was. I don't regret reading it. Now I can participate in discussions about this book. I give The Sword of Shannara a 2/5. It has not aged well. I don't recommend this to anyone unless they fully know what they're getting into. It's long. There's action, but a lot of exposition. There's an abridged audiobook version that somehow shaves twenty hours off the book. That shows how much fluff and unnecessary elements are in this book.  The world overall was interesting, but the way it was introduced was snore-inducing. I'm still deciding on whether I want to check out the tv show.


--PAUL

Some Fine Day by Kat Ross [audiobook] - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Some Fine Day
Author: Kat Ross
Publication Date: November 11th, 2014

Kat's Top Ten Hybrid Creatures SMACKDOWN
Kat's Top Disaster Movies
My Some Fine Day Pre-Reading

Synopsis: A generation ago, continent-sized storms called hypercanes caused the Earth to flood. The survivors were forced to retreat deep underground and build a new society.

This is the story that sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist has heard all of her life.

Jansin grew up in a civilization far below the Earth’s surface. She’s spent the last eight years in military intelligence training. So when her parents surprise her with a coveted yet treacherous trip above ground, she’s prepared for anything. She’s especially thrilled to feel the fresh air, see the sun, and view the wide-open skies and the ocean for herself.

But when raiders attack Jansin’s camp and take her prisoner, she is forced to question everything she’s been taught. What do her captors want? How will she get back underground? And if she ever does, will she want to stay after learning the truth?


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Review: THIS BOOK. I am still kicking myself for waiting so long to read (listen to?) this book. I knew it was going to be good, but I had no idea just how masterfully Kat Ross could tell the story that needed to be told. Some Fine Day took me on a rollercoaster of feels, and I'm still not sure that I'm over it. 

Usually, audiobooks drive me crazy. They're too slow and such a huge time commitment that I would rather just read the book in a few hours. Luckily for this one, I had a long drive and was able to sit through it without getting distracted. I'm very glad I listened to this audiobook, because it forced me to take my time and digest everything without being able to skip ahead to make sure certain characters were still ok or to find out what would happen next. This narrator was also excellent, and as she was telling the story, I could just imagine that Jansin was actually the one repeating this crazy adventure. 

Some Fine Day starts out at a pretty decent pace - we're introduced to Jansin and her family, and to her world that exists within the Earth. We learn a little bit about the hypercanes and why they're so dangerous. And then we're taken to the surface, and things take off. After the first couple of chapters, this is a non-stop ride that had me hanging on to the edge of my seat for dear life. Which is pretty much what Jansin has to do, because her world is turned completely upside down. There is a romance that is pretty central to the plot - it affects how Jansin acts and what decisions she makes - but it does take a while to build up, and it felt very natural to me. 

I really do love Jansin. She's brave and stubborn, and she's willing to do whatever it takes to survive in a world where everything she's been told is a lie. She adapts quickly to new situations, and even when she loses all hope, she at least goes through the motions until she can figure out something more productive to do. She's an incredible heroine, and she's willing to go to incredible lengths to protect the people she cares about. 

Some Fine Day is a gorgeously written, thrilling adventure that will have you flipping pages as quickly as you can. Or waiting desperately for the next chapter if you're listening to the audiobook. There were several moments when I was glad I was listening instead of reading, because I definitely would have thrown the book. Kat Ross puts her characters through hell and back, and almost brought me to tears so many times. I would totally recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an end-of-the-world sci-fi. 5/5! I can't wait to find out what Kat has up her sleeves next! 


--Ashley

Monday, February 22, 2016

COVER REVEAL: The Raven's Daughter by Peggy A. Wheeler



Hello! Today, we're super excited to be helping share the cover for Peggy A. Wheeler's upcoming release, The Raven's Daughter! Before we get to the cover though, how about a little bit of information about the book and its author?

About the Book

Title: The Raven’s Daughter
Author: Peggy A. Wheeler
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Expected Publication Date: February 29th, 2016

Synopsis: A Murdering Demon and a Myth Come to Life

After a police shoot out where she killed a man, criminologist Maggie Tall Bear Sloan retires from the force to enjoy some peace and quiet in a rural California town. But when children are murdered, she is recruited by the local sheriff to solve the gruesome killings.

As the manhunt intensifies, Maggie will do whatever it takes to keep her family safe from the killer. Awake or asleep, Maggie is faced with a difficult choice: embrace her heritage, even if that means turning into myth itself. Or deny that heritage and lose everything.

But to catch a killer, Maggie must accept her true nature as a “pukkukwerek”- the shapeshifting monster killer of Yurok legend-or more children will die.

Maggie must find a way to trust herself again, learning along the way that not all things are as they seem, and that some myths really are true.

About the Author

Peggy A. Wheeler is published under the names of Peggy A. Wheeler, Peggy Wheeler and Peggy Dembicer. Her non-fiction articles and poetry have appeared in a number of national magazines and anthologies. She has written for Llewellyn Worldwide. Most recently, her short story "Mama’s Special Stew" appears in Women Writing the Weird II: Dreadful Daughters, by Dog Horn Press.

Her B.A. in English Literature is from U.C.L.A. Her M.A. in English with a Creative Writing emphasis is from California State University at Northridge. While attending U.C.L.A., Peggy was one of only twelve students (and the only undergraduate) chosen to study with Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States. She won first prize awards for two of her poems from an Evergreen Women’s Press nation wide poetry contest. Her poetry received honorable mentions from the judges of a Los Angeles Poetry Festival and The Academy of American Poets. Peggy’s poem Du Fu was nominated for a Rhysling award for Best Science Fiction Poem. Her manuscript for The Raven's Daughter was a top ten finalist in the 2014 CCC Great Novel contest.

Find Peggy Online: Twitter | Website | Facebook


The Cover!









What do you think of this cover? Let us know in the comments! 


--Ashley & Paul

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Duality (The Hitchhiker Strain #2) by Kellie Sheridan - Ashley's Review

*I received an eARC of this book from Patchwork Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Duality (The Hitchhiker Strain #2)
Author: Kellie Sheridan
Publication Date: February 21st, 2014

My End Dayz (#0.5) Review
My Mortality (#1) Review
My Mortality (#1) Pre-Reading

Synopsis: The end of everything came quickly, but the road back is endless and full of heartbreak. 

After months of only death and loss, Veritas may be the answer everyone has been searching for—a cure. Savannah wants nothing more than to begin rebuilding, but with both the Initiative and the United Militia vying for power, there are no easy answers. Ending the threat for good could mean becoming something far worse than the monsters she is fighting against. 

The infected will not go quietly. For Chelsea, the choice to step back into the world of the living is anything but simple. No miracle can erase the memories of the things she saw or the people she killed. While the girl she was struggles against the beast she became, Chelsea must make a choice—succumb or fight.

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Review: I really enjoyed Mortality. It takes the whole zombie trope and makes it something new and unique. The characters were (mostly) likeable, and I really wanted to know how things were going to play out for Savannah and her friends. Even though we no longer have Zarah's story to follow, we still get to see things from the zombie perspective, which is always a welcome change of pace.

Although I did like Savannah in the first book, I think I liked her even more in this book. She's less obnoxious, and she's trying to make the best decisions for herself, her friends, and her world. She just wants to do right and save as many people as she can, and I think she's doing a fairly decent job of it. There was a little bit of romantic drama going on that just annoyed me more than anything, but it's not the main focus of the book and it gets easier to ignore as the book goes on. I also thought having Savannah in both books are the anchor of the series was a really smart idea, especially since our zombie narrator gets switched up. 

In this book, we get to see things from Chelsea's perspective. She's a new kind of zombie - smart and fast, still hungry for human brains and human meat in general, but still aware of what "The Beast" is doing. Human Chelsea takes a kind of backseat to her own life, and can only watch as her body and the virus kill more and more survivors. She keeps count of how many people "The Beast" kills, but she's nearly powerless to stop it. There are some times when Chelsea is able to gain control, but these moments are short lived and few and far between. Like with Zarah's sections in the first book, I think Chelsea's were my favorite chapters in this book. 

It's rare to find a book that tells the story from the perspective of the monster, and I think Kellie Sheridan does a great job of showing us the world from opposing sides. Veritas has its pros and cons, and I think its easier to see things like that when we're not restricted to just one character on one side of the war. Duality ends well and I was actually kind of happy that the ending was so open. Sometimes it's nice to be able to imagine what happens next and not be told exactly who goes where and does what. 

I'd definitely recommend this series to anyone looking for a fun, easy, zombie read. This one does kind of feel like a second book though, and there were times when I thought the pacing was a little slow, but it does a nice job of wrapping up the series. I didn't think it was as great as the first book, but  I still really enjoyed it! 3.5/5


--Ashley