Gone by Midnight – Tour and Giveaway

Be sure to visit the blog tour page for a chance to win your own copy in the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Gone by Midnight

Fans of Joyce and Jim Lavene will thrill at this collection of thirteen short stories—many are set in the worlds of their national bestselling mystery series, including the Missing Pieces Mysteries, the Renaissance Faire Mysteries, the Retired Witches Mysteries, and an upcoming mystery novel!

These stories contain the elements of mystery and fantasy the Lavenes are famous for, as well as some new things their readers have never seen. Several stories feature characters interacting with ghosts, magic, and the supernatural—the healing woman in “Courtship;” the Civil War widow in “One with the Darkness;” the city girl who summons a wizard from the past in “The Magician and the Sorceress/Accountant;” and the young introvert in “Aunt Edna” who finds her calling with help from a ghostly visitor.

Poignant, charming, and captivating, Joyce and Jim Lavene bring their characteristic wit and heart to these stories and introduce each one with a passage about its origin or how it ties into the universe they’ve created. Gone by Midnight is a treasury of tales that will delight the mind and touch the heart from one of the most prolific writing duos of our time.

My Review:
4 of 5 stars (****)
Genre: Short stories / SciFi / Fantasy / Paranormal

Gone by Midnight is an entertaining and eclectic collection of stories. From the opening sweet ghost story “Aunt Edna”, to sci-fi, fantasy, and everything in between, I enjoyed them all. My favorites were the fantasy tale within a tale, “Inn of Many Pleasures  “, and the futuristic “Assasin!”.

About The Authors
joycejim

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

www.joyceandjimlavene.com

www.facebook.com/joyceandjimlavene

http://amazon.com/author/jlavene

https://twitter.com/AuthorJLavene

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Midnight-Joyce-Lavene-ebook/dp/B019AJC1XU

Be sure to visit the blog tour page for a chance to win your own copy in the Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: I received a free digital copy in exchange fr an honest review.

 

 

 

Audiobook Review – Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Read by Kirsten Potter

Condensed Goodreads description:

Station ElevenAn audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star (Arthur), his would-be savior (Jeevan), and a nomadic group of actors (including Kirsten) roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleventells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Genre: Fiction / SciFi / Dystopian
My Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

This is an instance of a book cover catching my attention, and refusing to let it go. I started seeing this one first in magazines, and then bookstores and websites all over the place, until I decided I had to read it. I had the impression that it took place in a post-pandemic world, but that was about it. I’m glad I didn’t read the book blurb more carefully, because I don’t think that I would have been interested in the story of a Hollywood star and a band of travelling actors. I would probably not have picked it up, and I would have missed something beautiful.

This book is, at its heart, a story of survival and resilience. It starts at a point in time just as the flu pandemic is beginning. We meet a variety of individuals at a performance of Kind Lear, and then follow several of them both forward and back ward in time, learning about their past, and watching as their futures unfold in the new world. The author’s main focus is on the characters, what drives them, what mattered to them before the collapse of civilization and afterwards, and their personal relationships more than the disaster itself.

Kirsten Potter does an excellent job with the narration – her voice and timing were a pleasure to listen to.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook, and would recommend it to fans of almost any type of fiction or word lovers in general. It was so full of memorable quotes, that I caught myself jotting them down to read later, and that isn’t something I normally do. Since I have them though, I’d like to leave you with a few of my favorites….

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

“It was gorgeous and claustrophobic. I loved it and I always wanted to escape.”

“What I mean to say is, the more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

“There are certain qualities of light that blur the years.”

 

 

Review – The Occasional Diamond Thief

The Occasional Diamond Thief by J.A. McLachlan
The Occasional Diamond Thief

Genre: YA / SciFi
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

Kia is a 16 year old girl with a troubled family life and a penchant for languages. When her father dies, leaving her with a mother who seems to despise her and a sister who won’t give her the time of day, she leaves home and starts school to become a translator. After being caught stealing to finance her new life, she is sent to Malem to act as a translator for a Select (a religious title, something akin to a nun or priest) named Agatha. This is the same world where her father contracted the illness that eventually killed him. It’s also the world where her father acquired the gem he gave her right before he died – a Malem diamond that it is illegal for anyone who is not Malemese to posses.

I really enjoyed this story. Kia didn’t seem to be able to get a break at all, and even thought being sent to Malem kept her out of prison, it still seemed like punishment for her. Once she and Agatha arrived on Malem, the story kept moving at a pace that kept me reading, wanting to know what was going to happen next. Both Kia and Agatha were well developed, likable characters who learned and grew throughout the story. Sometimes I wanted to shout at Kia for her behavior, but considering her age it was perfectly appropriate.

There was no cliffhanger ending, and it may turn out to be a standalone novel, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more adventures for Kia in the future.

Visit the author’s website

Disclaimer – I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Walk in the Flesh by Peter Bailey

Walk in the Flesh by Peter Bailey
Walk in the Flesh

Genre: Techno-thriller / SciFi
My Rating: *** (3 of 5 stars)

Since then he had died over a hundred times. He was very good at it.

***NOTE: I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review***

In Walk in the Flesh, Neil, an ex-soldier on the brink of death, is given the chance to live on and exact revenge on the people who killed his wife in a terrorist attack. The British government will use nanotechnology to insert his consciousness into host bodies, allowing him to carry out covert missions undetected. Now, besides becoming a perfect killing machine, Neil has also become a monster.  Or perhaps he was one all along…

The story has a very scary premise – and one that technology might not be too far away from making a possibility. There is no shortage of action in this thriller, and I was caught up in it right away. The story moves quickly, but it takes a while to really understand what is happening with Neil. Eventually the reader knows more about him than he does himself. The most suspenseful bits come near the end when he has a young woman travelling with him, and you’re left guessing at his motivations.

There were a few editing issues. Once or twice I had to re-read a sentence due to a missing word, but the issues were infrequent or the story kept moving well enough for me not to notice too much.

If you enjoy military adventure novels, cyberpunk, or techno-thrillers, this one is worth a read.

Warnings: explicit language, explicit violence, rape 

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Review / Giveaway (ENDED) – Woman Without Fear by J.P. Touzeau

I would normally post my Top Ten Tuesday list today, but I’m on vacation this week and haven’t had time to write it! Instead, I’m posting a review I wrote a while ago that I never got around to sharing….

Woman Without Fear by J.P. Touzeau
Translated from French by Sarah Christine Varney
Woman Without Fear
Le Femme #1

Genre: Fiction / Sci-fi / Snail?
Rating ** (2 of 5 stars)

***I won a copy of this book in a First to Read giveaway on Goodreads***

The story is about a shy woman named Trinity Silverman who, for reasons that are never fully explained, suffers from constant fear and anxiety. Despite this, her job is to go to trading conferences, and give presentations trying to sell her firm’s financial software. Her companion when she travels is a snail named Speedy that she keeps in a small Plexiglas box. On one such business trip to Las Vegas, she meets a man in the hotel bar who works for a pharmaceutical company. He offers her some pills that he has developed, promising that they will take away all of her fears.

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Audiobook Review – Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch

Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch

Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Audiobook Narrated by Adam Paul

Genre: SciFi (Cyberpunk) / Mystery
My Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book at first because of the subject matter. The story is somewhat more disturbing than what I normally read, but it is a murder mystery as well as sci-fi, so you have to expect some unpleasantness. There are some terrible people doing terrible things. There are also some not so terrible, everyday people accepting, and occasionally even enjoying, terrible things. The worst (or best depending on how you look at it) part of it all is how believable everything is. In the end though, I did enjoy the book and decided that it deserves 4 stars. It is a very well thought out and well-written story that kept me listening every minute I could until it was finished.

Tomorrow and tomorrow is set in the not-so-distant future. People use implants called Adware to email and connect with other people they run into, and to deliver streaming content right to their eyes, 24 hours a day. The targeted marketing being used by the advertisers in this book will feel familiar to anyone who has ever browsed the web, and it’s so close to current reality that you never even question the technology.

In this future America, Philadelphia has been wiped out by a terrorist attack. John Dominic Blaxton, who lost his wife in the attack, works for an agency that researches deaths for an insurance agency. There are so many cameras everywhere, that a digital archive of the city has been created, and people are able to virtually visit the city and the people who once lived there. When a claim is made against a life insurance policy claiming that someone died in the blast, Dominic’s job is to go into this archive to find the person at the time of the explosion and prove that they did actually die when the bomb that took out the city went off.

In a nutshell (and to keep myself from giving away anything important), Dominic uncovers things he was never meant to find and ends up running for his life. While trying to stay alive, he is also trying to piece together the last moments of a murder victim’s timeline, and find the person responsible for deleting another woman’s images from the archive.

The narrator, Adam Paul, did a great job and I’m really glad I listened to this one. The first few minutes, I was annoyed by his voice, but it grows on you, and his style fits the story well. (If anyone has listened to William Gibson reading Neuromancer, you’ll probably understand what I mean!) He also did a great job of expressing Dominic’s anguish, shock, and frustration when appropriate.

Whether you prefer to read or listen to your books, I would recommend this one to scifi fans, as long as you don’t have a weak stomach. 🙂

WARNING (in case you prefer not to read this sort of thing): There are some graphic descriptions of violence, and graphic descriptions of corpses along with some vulgar language.

Visit Thomas Sweterlitsch’s website (be sure to check out the Adware page)

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Review – The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy

The Dead Lands
by Benjamin Percy
The Dead Lands

***NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

Genre: Horror / SciFi / Fantasy
My Rating **** (4 of 5 stars)

The Dead Lands is at its core a story of survival in the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles – survival not just of a few individuals, but of humanity itself.

Synopsis From Goodreads:
In Benjamin Percy’s new thriller, a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know. A few humans carry on, living in outposts such as the Sanctuary-the remains of St. Louis-a shielded community that owes its survival to its militant defense and fear-mongering leaders.  (read more)

The story starts out in Sanctuary, and then hops back and forth between there and the group of escapees who have set off in the hopes of discovering something better. Each member of the scouting party has his or her own personal reason for fleeing Sanctuary. For some, the struggle with their decision to leave causes them almost as much grief as the monsters, inhospitable climates, and other people they meet along the way.

This book had both the horror-road-trip feel of The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub, and the find-other-survivors-and-keep-the-human-race-going vibe of The Passage, by Justin Cronin. (Both of which I highly recommend if you have not already read them!) It was a suspenseful, thought-provoking tale and I really enjoyed it.

I do think that the way the story wrapped up, there might be a possibility of a little more Lewis and Clark (not to mention Gawea) in the future. I’m not sure that’s what the author was getting at, but I can hope….

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