YA Mega Book Blitz

If YA is your jam, then I have good news! Today, we are celebrating four amazing YA books, and the talented authors behind them. There will be exclusive excerpts and wonderful prizes to win, so be sure to read on!

As an added bonus, all four books will be available to book reviewers in exchange for honest reviews. Contact Shannon @ R&R Book Tours to find out how you can get your hands on a review copy.

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the gemini connection coverThe Gemini Connection by Teri Polen

Publication Date: June 7th, 2018

Genre: YA Science Fiction/ Dystopian

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is.

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing.

A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

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Excerpt

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Ugly. That was the first word that came to mind. Deadly was next.

The twisted creation was courtesy of a new client, a scientist. The nightmare had been tormenting him for the past couple of weeks.

The monster stood roughly fifteen feet tall, walked on two legs, and stretched two muscled arms in front of it, but its elongated head was a grotesque combination of goat and demon. Treacherous horns protruded from either side of its skull, torso, and upper thighs, making it difficult for anyone to get close to the beast. Not that we especially wanted to, but it was part of a Bender’s job requirement to eradicate nightmares. So, we took up battle positions—Syd to its right, me to its left—crouched in anticipation of this formidable creature’s attack.

“I’ll go high, you go low,” I called to Syd. Besides a hideous appearance, the goat thing screeched like a deranged bird, and we strained to hear each other, even with the com units.

“Got it, Evan.” She unsheathed a ten-inch dagger from her utility belt, the silver blade glinting in the eerie cast of yellow-green light in this nightmare-scape. Being somewhat vertically-challenged (she hated it when I said short), Syd might not look intimidating, but give the girl a knife and she was absolutely lethal. The creature’s leg tendons would be sliced to ribbons in seconds.

Syd dived to the creature’s right, spinning and coming up behind it, as she avoided an angry kick to her head. She carved into its left limb, and it let out an ear-piercing shriek.

I withdrew an iron mallet from my own belt and catapulted myself off the wall, soaring over the goat-demon and landing a blow to the left side of its skull. Its head jerked in my direction when I came down on its other side. The sharpened tip of the horn caught the left side of my rib cage, and a warm flow of blood seeped through my shirt. Wouldn’t be the first time I’d walked away from a nightmare with a permanent scar.

Syd scrambled around its legs, careful not to be trampled. Her dagger was a silver blur as she slashed the gray-haired appendages, the goat-demon staggering in its efforts to avoid her blade.

The ground was wet—possibly blood. But with dream or nightmare creations, you couldn’t be sure. Because this thing’s creator was a scientist, they tended to more detail-oriented. Odds leaned in the blood direction.

The light around us took on a red hue. Did the ambient illumination correlate to the creature’s anger level? If yellow-green meant annoyed, did red mean take no prisoners?

-The Gemini Connection

Available Now!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Black Rose Writing

About the Author

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Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium. She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat. Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub

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dear janeDear Jane by Marina DelVecchio

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2019

Genre: YA/ Coming of Age

Kit Kat is a fifteen-year-old adoptee who writes letters to her favorite literary character, Jane Eyre, as a means of surviving a violent childhood in Greece and a harrowing adoption in New York that requires her to silence her memories and her voice. In writing letters to Jane, Kit Kat discovers a connection to literature that saves her life. Dear Jane is about family, love, forgiveness, and the power of a good book.

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Excerpt

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For the next two weeks that I was in possession of your story, it was as if someone had seen me, claimed me. I had a sister, a mother, an aunt, a place in which I was loved and understood and cared for. I was connected to something solid and real, for even if the story wasn’t real, a real woman had written it, had understood the pain that comes with being rejected and lonely; the angst that comes with being a girl severed from her roots and family.

-Dear Jane

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Marina DelVecchio is a college professor of literature and women’s studies and lives in North Carolina with her family. Her work can be found online at Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Tishman Review, Her Circle Ezine, and The New Agenda.

Marina DelVecchio | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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Version 3Till It Stops Beating (The Maddie Chronicles #4) by Hannah R. Goodman

Publication Date: July 5th, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman has always coped with anxiety by immersing herself into the latest self-help book. Then her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer, and she spirals so far downward that she almost risks losing everything she holds dear.

From applying to college to solving the mystery of why she detests jelly doughnuts to writing a novel for her senior project and reconnecting with an old flame (or two), the ever-mounting stress leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers what she needs in order to really live.

If your heart has ever hurt from beating widely, whether from anxiety or love, this book is the one to read.

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Available on Amazon

Excerpt

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“I need to be with Bubbie. I want to be there every day. When she is sick or tired. When she needs help.” I take breath. “I will stay and take care of Bubbie and go to school in January.”

“I don’t like this idea,” Mom says.

Dad sips his coffee instead of gulps. “I don’t know if the deferment is a good idea or not,” he says. “But staying in California for that long? I think it’s sweet to want to stay and care of Bubbie, but what else will you be doing?” He looks at my mom.

Then Mom explodes. “Stan, she is not deferring.” Finally, she looks at me. “You are not deferring. I’m calling Emerson tomorrow to straighten this out.”

This is so ridiculous. When are they going to get it? I stand up. “You know what? This is crazy. I’ve been losing sleep and getting all panicky again over this for the past few weeks and for what? For what reason? Fear of disappointing you? And now here I am full-blown disappointing you both and I did not fall apart or die. I am still here. And so are you guys.” I think of Susan’s opening lines to her speech. Welcome to the last day of childhood. “I’m an adult now, Mom. You guys have to let me make my decisions, without trying to guilt me into doing what you want.” And with that, I walk my adult self out of the living room, and they don’t follow.

-Till It Stops Beating

About the Author

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Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreen, OC87 Recovery Diaries, Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, those were all were self-published. This time around, publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating in July, 2018. Literary Titan’s review praised Till It Stops Beating for “tackling a difficult issue like anxiety and making a story that was funny and sweet without making light of the issue.” Hannah is a member of ARIA (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe.

Hannah R Goodman | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

LinkedIn | Amazon | Email | Goodreads | BookBub

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a step away coverA Step Away by G. Randy Kasten

Publication Date: February 7th, 2019

Genre: YA Thriller

Three friends, Brianna, Sean, and Robert, happen across a body buried in their neighborhood.

Because a police investigation might reveal that the trio is connected to a stolen motor, and that Sean’s mother was having a relationship with a neighbor, the three friends decide they must solve the apparent murder before contacting authorities.

In the process, they sneak into a house, befriend a vigilant neighbor with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and develop a friendship with a kind, older man.

Brianna becomes convinced that clues point to Sean’s father and realizes their detective work is doing more harm than good.

She makes tough choices that affect families and friendships.

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Available on Amazon

Excerpt

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Right below the pipe, a human hand and wrist poked out from the dirt, its flesh partly rotted away. The fingers pointed at us.

I let out a panicked yell identical to Robert’s but stood frozen. A hot, prickly feeling crawled up my back as Sean as shouted to Robert. “You okay, Robber?” When Robert murmured a response, Sean scrambled down to the creek. “Cover it up!” he demanded as he went, pointing at me. “Cover it back up!”

“We can’t just…” I started.

“Cover it up!” Sean was bending over, one hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Just do it!”

I shoveled dirt and leaves at the void, breathing as little as possible and only glancing occasionally at the rotted appendage sticking out at me. Each scoop of crumbly soil slid back down, so finally I started stomping on it to get it to stay, right on top of the hand. I felt as if I was pressing down on something evil. Trying to keep it back. After a minute, Sean stood next to me working with Robert’s abandoned shovel. With his head turned away from the hole, he didn’t help much.

Robert sat where he was, letting out little wails every now and then. It wasn’t a sound like the pain of a sprained ankle or something. It was more like the desperate moans of someone who’d forgotten how to talk.

Once we managed to get the hand covered, we scrambled down the bank, grabbed Robert by his arms, then half carried him and the tools back to the workshop we’d taken over from Sean’s dad. After breathing the rotten stench of the creek, I barely noticed Robert’s smell and couldn’t get that image of the decaying hand out of my mind.

We set Robert down in one of the beaten-up old armchairs we’d dragged in there, then sank down ourselves, panting. The hot prickly feeling was still crawling all over me. Sean and I looked at each other for a few seconds, then away. Robert stared at the floor.

I’d never seen a real skeleton — or a dead body – before. The tuna sandwich I’d eaten an hour earlier seemed to be on a climb back up. I imagined the scene once we called the sheriff; Sean’s parents would arrive home to a flock of cop cars in the driveway. Maybe there’d be a coroner’s van. They’d love driving into that mess.

Then things went from bad to worse. Sean leaned forward and pointed one finger at me and one at Robert. “We can’t tell anyone about this.”

Robert peered out from under the layer of the coarse black hair fallen in front of his eyes. “But Sean, somebody buried a body.”

“We know that, Robert,” Sean snapped. His nasty scowl reminded me of his father. “But nobody else is going to know that.”

“Why not?” that high voice again. “That body where it is, it’s not by accident.”

Sean turned to me, “Brianna, you know why we can’t tell anyone.” Like he was pleading with me. “You know.”

-A Step Away

About the Author

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After some childhood acting and living in England for a year, I graduated from Reed College, then attended law school. As a litigator in California and Washington State for thirty years, I learned a great deal about what people really want, and also how humor helps in tough situations.

Writing remains my main interest. I am the author of Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in the World of Spin (Quest Books, 2011), a book about discerning truth from appearances. My young adult novel, A Step Away, will be published by Black Rose in 2019.

I have also written a couple of short plays, which were performed at a local theatre in Marin County, CA. The Ribbons Agency is a nearly completed satirical book about the arduous task of securing a literary agent. On a more serious note, I am working on a non fiction book that presents a unique, logical reason to believe that greater international peace is inevitable.

A resident of San Francisco’s east bay for most of my life, I have lived along Hood Canal (a fjord and part of Puget Sound) in Washington State for the past three years. I’m still adapting to the weather, though it keeps me inside and productive most of the year. When not writing, I’m enjoying the outdoors or playing improvisational piano.

G. Kasten

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Thank you for celebrating with us this week and best of luck on the giveaways!

Book Blitz Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours


If you have children, there is a new book out by Carey Fessler called Foiled that would be right up their alley! You can buy it on Amazon!

Foiled 172KB

Make your special day sparkle with elegant sophistication.Send your guests home with favors that are tasteful and practical. They will forever remember your wedding thanks to these beautifully designed styles.

Author Interview: Liz Lawler

We had the honor of joining this blog tour for Liz Lawler’s new book I’ll Find You. 

Synopsis: Don’t Wake Up, Liz Lawler’s debut novel, sold over 200,000 copies and was Bonnier Zaffre’s breakout psychological thriller of 2017. I’ll Find You, her second novel, promises to be an even more heart-stopping and electrifying read.
 
This medical thriller breaks away from the traditional domestic sphere and into the fictional Bath Windsor Bridge Hospital. Liz Lawler fantastically uses her own 20-year career as a nurse to instill an authenticity that will truly give you chills. . .
 
Perfect for fans of TM Logan and Leslie Kara, I’ll Find You will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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Author Interview

1. What is your top read of 2018 so far? 

 I read so many books that came out in 2018 and many of them were brilliant, so it is really hard to pick one, but as you asked for my top read I will choose the one which came immediately to mind – Don’t Make A Sound by David Jackson.

 2. What is your favorite book friendship?

 I loved the friendship between Dale and Mr Jingles in The Green Mile. Mr Jingles, a small mouse, gave solace to so many men while they awaited execution. His presence brought light and laughter and hope in a place previously devoid of such feeling. I loved how Dale and Mr Jingles’ relationship united the prison officers and inmates to become guardians of this small creature.

3. What was your most anticipated book release of 2018?

I have still to read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, which I’m looking forward to enormously. 

 4. How many books are in your TBR Pile?

Well actually I’m beginning to panic as there are only three books presently by my bedside. I like to have at least half a dozen books to choose from in case I suddenly get cut off from the rest of the world. When I go on holiday for seven days I take five books in my luggage and then buy two more at the airport. Just in case….

 5. Who is your favorite author?

 Really hard to answer as I love so many authors and it is a love list that gets bigger as I find new authors to add. But to mention a few: Sebastian Faulks, Harper Lee, Thomas Hardy, John Steinbeck, Emily Bronte and the list goes on…

 6. How did you start writing? 

Quite suddenly and out of the blue, after dropping my children off at school for their first day back after the summer holidays, I found myself sat at my kitchen table writing a story. That was the beginning.

 7. Where is your favorite reading spot?

 In bed when the rest of the house is fast asleep. 

 8. How long have you been an author?

 Since May 2017 when my first book  Don’t Wake Up was published. I’m still very much a newbie.

 9. What do you like about reading?

I cannot imagine my life without reading. When I think about being on a deserted island I take comfort from imagining finding hundreds and hundreds of boxes of books to read to last me forever.

10. If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

 Chaos.

And that is the end of our interview! If you have any question that I should ask in my nex interview, comment below! Check out the rest of the blogs on this tour (they are mentioned in the feature image at the top).


If you have children, there is a new book out by Carey Fessler called Foiled that would be right up their alley! You can buy it on Amazon!

Foiled 172KB

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Author Interview: Jonas Salzgeber

Bookies! We have been busy over here at the blog connecting with authors and chatting about their favorite books. We recently posted about Jonas Salzgeber and his new book The Little Book of Stoicism so you should check out that post. But today we will be conducting an author interview with him!

Author-Photo-Jonas-Salzgeber

Jonas Salzgeber is a writer and blogs for a small army of remarkable people at njlifehacks.com. He’s an expert in Stoic philosophy and passionate about self-made dark chocolate and buttered coffee with collagen.


Author Interview

Erik: What was your top read of 2018?

Jonas: Hard to say. There were some I liked a lot. I’d say Aubrey Marcus’ Own the Day, Own Your Life.

Erik: What is your favorite book friendship?

Jonas: It’s either Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss because there are many invaluable tools I want to implement one by one. Or it’s OSHO’s Living on Your Own Terms for mindfulness and inspiration.

Erik: Most anticipated book release of 2019?

Jonas: How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson. His book Stoicism and the Art of Happiness was a massive help when writing The Little Book of Stoicism.

Erik: How many books are in your TBR Pile?

Jonas: There are seven of them. They are:

  • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh by Penguin Classics
  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • Heart of the Mind by Connirae and Steve Andreas
  • Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb which I’m currently reading.

Erik: Who is your favorite author?

Jonas: It’s a tough call. But I have to go with Mark Manson. I love his writings. I can learn a lot from him.

Erik: How did you start writing?

Jonas: My brother Nils and I started a blog. So I had to start writing 🙂 This was in 2015. Before that, I wrote for university and in my journal.

Erik: Where is your favorite reading spot?

Jonas: Currently it’s the couch in the living room where I live. But I preferred the beach in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, where Nils and I lived for seven months.

Erik: How long have you been an author?

Jonas: The Little Book of Stoicism is my first official book. As said before, I started writing in 2015 and wrote a book called Wake Up on Fire, but that’s not available anymore.

Erik: What do you like about reading?

Jonas: Learning. I believe in getting better every day. Books are my No 1 source of wisdom. I love that I can read in an afternoon what others have been studying for years, or even their whole lifetime.

Erik: If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

Jonas: Cool question. Something like that: Try Hard, Struggle, Get Up, Dust it Off, Try Harder, and Repeat.


And that wraps up our interview with Jonas! Stay tuned for more book reviews and blogger news. If you would like to participate in an interview with us at Breakeven Books or if you have any questions you think we should ask, say hello in the comments.

We also started a Patreon page if you would like to support us in our blogging efforts 🙂 Just $2 a month could help us create better content for you guys plus maybe we will be able to get into book tube and video reviews! But completely up to you.

Talk to you soon bookworms.

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Book Highlight: The Little Book Of Stoicism

Hey bookworms! Today we would like to share a little book highlight for an author we have been chatting with. They are releasing a book at the end of the month and are very excited about it. Here is a little preview on the book!


Where can you find joy? Gain strength? How should we face our fears? Deal with the death of a loved one? And what about those reoccurring depressing thoughts?

While traditional schooling doesn’t address such questions, it’s exactly what ancient schools of philosophy were all about: They taught you how to live. Even though these schools don’t exist anymore, you and I and most people are in as much need of a philosophy that guides us through life as we ever were.

This compelling, highly actionable guide shows you how to deal more effectively with whatever life throws at you and live up to your best self.

A mix of timeless wisdom and empowering advice, The Little Book of Stoicism will point the way to anyone seeking a calm and wise life in a chaotic world.

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Title: The Little Book of Stoicism
Author: Jonas Salzgeber
Publisher: Indie
Genre: Non-Fiction (Philosophy, Psychology, Personal Development)
Release Date: January 28th, 2019

For more information about the book, visit https://www.njlifehacks.com/the-little-book-of-stoicism/.

About the Author

Author-Photo-Jonas-Salzgeber

Jonas Salzgeber is an author and writes for a small army of remarkable people at NJlifehacks.com. On his quest to be the best he can be he stumbled upon Stoicism – and got hooked. His practical writing style helps people with the most important step: to put the wisdom from book page to action.

Fusion Belts

Blog Tour: You Started What After 60?

About the Author  

Jane Trowbridge Bertrand is a professor at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. A Maine native, she moved to New Orleans over 40 years ago where she and her husband Bill raised their children, Katy and Jacob. Her recurrent travel to Africa in connection with international family planning work generated many of the frequent flyer miles that made this highpointing pursuit possible.

Jane Bertrand traces her love of hiking back to Girl Scout Camp Natarswi, located at the foot of Katahdin in Maine, the Northern terminus for the Appalachian trail.

After attending college out of state, she would return annually for her two-week sacrosanct vacation in Maine.  Over the years she would continue to climb Katahdin, first with her sisters, later with her own children, and finally with adult friends who shared her love of the mountain.

Yet not until age 60 did it occur to her to expand her annual expedition up Katahdin to a quest to reach the highpoints of the 50 states. When she started this project of “climbing a mountain in every state,” little did she realize that the Highpointers have a Club, Foundation, website, and annual convention.

During most of her adult life, Bertrand stayed in shape by jogging three times a week, but she was no elite athlete. When at age 60 she began her highpointing pursuit, she got off to a lackluster start, achieving only 11 high points in the first six years, and almost all of those were “easy.” As she advanced to her mid-sixties, the race against time begin. Despite minor setbacks with runner’s knee and bunions, she pushed ahead – her interest in highpointing evolving into an obsession and finally an addiction. As she faced mountains of increasing difficulty – that she had unwisely left to the end – she accelerated her exercise routine in hopes of meeting the challenge.

Initially, she assumed that her full-time job at Tulane University, both teaching classes and traveling to Africa in connection with her international family planning work, would be a deterrent to reaching the highest point of every state. Midway through this journey, she realized it was actually a facilitator, as she traveled through different Delta hubs en route to her work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Over the course of this decade-long pursuit, Bertrand recruited over 50 family members, colleagues, and childhood friends to accompany her on this journey. They ranged in age from 4 months to 71 years. Some she hadn’t seen for over 40 years, others she met on the day they highpointed together.

Bertrand initially ruled out any mountain that would involve technical climbing requiring a harness, rope, ice axe, or helmet. But as the remaining mountains on her list increased in difficulty, she had no choice but to bite the bullet and harness up.  Her story describes the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment of pushing harder and reaching further than she expected possible. Yet it also recounts the humbling experience of getting lost more than once and dragging down the final miles, even after successfully summiting one of the hardest mountains – with every muscle in her body screaming “this is why 69-year olds should not be climbing Mt. Hood.”

Jane Bertrand received her B.A. (French) from Brown University in 1971, her PhD (Sociology) from the University of Chicago in 1976, and her MBA from Tulane University in 2001, Bertrand has lived in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband Bill Bertrand (also a Tulane professor, affectionately known as the “Cajun Chef”), where they raised their two children, Katy and Jacob. She has come to love her adopted city: the jazz, the food, the beauty of Spanish moss and tropical plants. She is also a member of the all-female Krewe of Muses, a group that parades every year during Mardi Gras.

Find Jane Online:

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1785116.Jane_T_Bertrand?from_search=true

Twitter:  @JaneBertrand8

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

Website:  https://www.janebertrand.com/


Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – 1/7 -Jane T. Bertrand launches her tour of “You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America”

Tuesday, January 8th @ Fiona Ingram

Fellow author Fiona Ingram reviews the adventures story of Jane T. Bertrand’s experiences highpointing across America in “You Started WHAT After 60?”. Readers won’t be disappointed in Ingram’s review or Bertrand’s memoir!
http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 9th @ BOL w/Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto couldn’t wait to get her hands on Jane T. Bertrand’s story about highpointing across America! This busy farmer seldom leaves the farm and enjoyed every moment she experienced reading “You Started WHAT After 60?”. Find out more in her book review at Bring on Lemons today!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 10th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Learn more about Jane T. Bertrand as she is interviewed by Cathy Stucker at Selling Books. You won’t want to miss this insightful interview about Bertrand and her memoir “You Started What After 60? Highpointing Across America”. https://www.sellingbooks.com/ 

Friday, January 11th @ Breakeven Books

Don’t miss a very honest book review about Jane T. Bertrand’s “You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America”.
https://breakevenbooks.com/

Monday, January 14th @ Look to the Western Sky with Margo Dill

Author, Editor, and Reviewer Margo Dill shares her thoughts after reading the inspiring memoir “You Started WHAT After 60?” by Jane T. Bertrand.
http://margoldill.com/ 

Wednesday, January 16th @ Author Anthony Avina

Description:Author Anthony Avina reads and reviews “You Started WHAT After 60?” – by Jane T. Bertrand. Readers won’t want to miss this adventurous memoir about highpointing across America.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

Friday, January 18th @ BOL w/Michelle DelPonte

Michelle DelPonte offers her point of view after reading “You Started WHAT After 60?” by Jane T. Bertrand. Find out what this Wisconsin wife, mother, and autism advocate has to say about Bertrand’s recount of her adventures!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, January 22nd @ Book Santa Fe w/Elizabeth Hansen

Description:Young reader and reviewer Elizabeth Hansen shares her thoughts after reading about Jane T. Bertrand’s adventures in “You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America”
http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

Thursday, January 24th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Description:Fellow memoirist Madeline Sharples shares her review of “You Started WHAT After 60?” by Jane T. Bertrand. Readers at Choices will be thrilled by Bertrand’s adventures in highpointing across America!
http://madelinesharples.com/

Wednesday, January 30th @ To Write or Not to Write with Sreevarsha

Sreevarsha reviews the inspirational book “You Started WHAT After 60?” by Jane T. Bertrand. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about Bertrand’s adventure highpointing across America later in life.
http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.co.at/

Tuesday, February 5th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles

Description:Nicole reviews and shares her thoughts after reading the thrilling account of Jane T. Bertrand’s adventures in highpointing across America in “You Started WHAT After 60?”. Join readers at World of My Imagination and find out more about this great read and inspirational author!
https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

Yelloow Beauty

Book Review: Body Swap

Another day, another review! This book was called Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll and it was sent to us by Dundurn Press to read and give our honest review.

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Synopsis: A fatal collision — who’s to blame? Two bodies, two souls switch in search of justice.

When fifteen-year-old Hallie gets knocked flying by a Hurricane SUV, her life ends without her ever having kissed a boy. At an otherworldly carnival, she meets and argues with the eighty-two-year-old driver, Susan. Both return to life, only with one catch — they’ve swapped bodies.

Now Hallie has wrinkled skin and achy joints while Susan deals with a forehead zit and a crush on a guy who’s a player. Hallie faces a life in a long-term care residence. Susan gets picked up for shoplifting.

As they struggle with technology, medications, and each other’s fashion foibles, they start to understand and maybe even like each other. But can they work together to prove that a defect in the Hurricane caused the deadly crash? Or will their time run out?

This book was pretty good. It gave me huge Freaky Friday vibes except with older and younger characters. I think that Hallie and Susan were not fans of each other off the start and I mean who can blame them considering they both ended up in this purgatory-like place because of the accident they were in with each other. Also, it was set in Burlington, Ontario which is in Canada so that is a plus for me as a Canadian book blogger :).

As the story continues, they are forced to learn and grow together as they try and find a way to get their bodies back. Susan doesn’t always want to go back to her old, brittle body but wants what is best for Hallie because she is a kind and caring woman. Hallie learns what it is like to be an elderly person and how they can be treated with little to no respect at times.

A big part of this book is about spending more time with the people around you and less time on our devices. I can honestly say that when I was reading this book, I spent very little time on my phone as I couldn’t peel away from the book.

Hardeep’s character was great. He was the depiction of a young boy who is in love for the first time and will do anything for the girl of his dreams. It made me remember how it was like to feel that way at such a young age. He was such a gentleman compared to Chael (“the player”).

I would recommend this book to anyone who liked YA fiction and enjoyed the Freaky Friday movie.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon or Dundurn Press and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by Dundurn Press to read and give an honest review.

Purium©

Book Review: The Apollo Illusion

Happy New year bookworms! It is 2019 :)!! How did everyone do on their reading challenges? Did you have a reading challenge? Mine was to read 30 books in 2018 and I managed to read 34 so that was fun. This year, my goal is to read 50 books so hopefully, I can pull it off.

Today I have a new book review from our external reviewer Chris Connors. He finished this one before the holidays started but I was busy with traveling and visiting with family and friends so this will be our first review of 2019.

This one is called The Apollo Illusion by Shari Lopatin and seems very interesting. I believe it is sci-fi but let’s see what Chris had to say about it!

Apollo Illusion_front cover_final

Published Date: May 19, 2018

Publisher: BookBooks Publishing LLC

Synopsis: The year is 2150 and bullied nineteen-year-old Flora can no longer ignore the burning curiosity to learn what’s behind the towering Wall surrounding her home state of Apollo. Citizens still read books, discuss philosophy, and send text messages, but questioning The Other Side is forbidden. 

When Flora’s naïveté accidentally reveals a dark secret about Apollo, she’s forced into an isolated web of truth, lies, and survival. Fearing for her life, she leaves behind a clue for her childhood friend, Andrew, placing her last hope in their special bond.

The Apollo Illusion is a story for the hackers, the techies, the seekers, and the rebels of the world.

This is a Young Adult genre. I am not the target audience for that genre. I do not get lost in teen angst and burgeoning love stories so I tend to notice plot holes instead of overlooking them due to a flood of raging hormones. I do read YA though (Darkest Minds, Hunger Games, Newsfeed, all in recent months).

So, I dived into Shari Lopatin’s book, and found myself enjoying it more than I expected. The technical writing, grammar, and sentence structure are polished. Her bio says she’s worked as a freelance writer, and all that practice has paid off in terms of a solid technical skill set.

Then there’s the story itself. I started the book at bedtime thinking I’d read 20-30 minutes before sleep. At the 70% mark, I forced myself to put the book down and go to sleep. I have an almost religious devotion to maintaining the same sleep schedule to avoid chronic insomnia that plagues my siblings. Having me voluntarily disrupt my schedule for a book means the author has written a good yarn.

Initially, the story didn’t grab me. I’m still not sure why. Maybe the first part had been overly edited and now felt rehearsed, a bit sterile, too technically perfect? But in a short time, the story pulled me in as the questions began to build. I don’t know if the writing changed or if I adjusted to the style. Either way, the book wouldn’t let me go.

The chapters are narrated in first-person by the two main characters, a technique which greatly contributed to my sleep deprivation; I had to keep reading so I could find out what was happening to the other character when they were separated.

The story kept a strong pace with nicely timed slowdowns building to crescendos. The flow was almost classical in nature where fast and slow movements in a symphony build to a final satisfying finale (think Beethoven, Mozart). The ending did resolve many of the questions that Flora had raised, and it seems some of the things left unanswered would provide fertile ground for continuing with the Apollo saga (please continue!).

Some plot points puzzled me as they went against human nature. We’re told most citizens of Apollo haven’t seen the Wall that protects them. Why not? They were highly educated in arts and sciences yet seemed rather lacking in curiosity except for a small handful. Highly educated goes hand-in-hand with curiosity and pushing the boundaries, and even people who aren’t highly educated are curious and/or at least explore their own geographical location. These people are in the majority, whereas in the book they’re the minority despite the education levels. I had difficulty accepting that an almost ideal society would so easily let go of its urge to explore.

Also, the protagonists went outside the Wall using a tunnel and some elaborate methods to avoid detection from all the cameras. As we later find out others had left Apollo years ago. How they escaped could be for another novel, but it was strange that no-one in the community talked about the missing people with the one exception of Andrew’s dad who went missing 11 years ago. Even strangers commented on this after all these years. So why did no-one also mention other people who had also gone missing, some even more recent? Why didn’t Andrew know about others who had lost a parent or relative? If your dad mysteriously disappears when you’re 8 you’d eagerly search for similar stories in others, and others would share their stories with you.

As well I found the hackers on The Other Side lacking in certain skill sets. Maybe because the story is gripping, exciting, page-turning I shouldn’t have noticed this. Basically, one of the hackers wants to find Apollo, but can’t do so unless he gets the name of the community. My inner hacker objected to that: you do not need a name to figure out where Apollo is located especially if you’re a hacker group that is good enough to hide the people who will pay from the government itself.

They can infer Apollo is nearby. The community would leave a good-sized footprint. You can narrow down potential locations by looking at a map to figure out where you can hide a community. E.g., that nuclear waste dump next to a big abandoned city seems like a good candidate to check with a drone to see if it really is a waste dump and if the city is abandoned.

Even if the government had erased every bit of historical data about the formation and location of Apollo (that would include the name “Apollo” so getting the name doesn’t help anyway) the hackers still have access to data and communications from people so they would use pattern analyses. E.g., they could map the locations of those who send and receive messages (all people on The Other Side communicate solely by electronic means), overlay it with a map of population centers and look for spots where no communication occurs to see if those blank spots are large enough to hide a community.

And they could probably use power consumption records, census data, satellite and aerial photography (past and current), individuals’ journals, old photographs, even conspiracy theories from 75 years ago when a city population was displaced because someone “turned” it into a dump site for nuclear waste. Intelligence agencies have a vast array of pattern analyses tools, like changes in communication frequency and locations, to alert them to potential terror attacks.

If there are future books maybe they’ll deal with those issues, as well as go into more detail what the official story was on the return of the people. The sparse details given explain why the two main characters were back, but wouldn’t seem to fit the others who returned. Also, why isn’t medical technology as advanced in Apollo as it is in The Other Side? I understand avoiding some of the items that led to almost virtual enslavement in the past, but if you’re building a paradise wouldn’t you want advanced medicine? Again, that could be something for future books.

Regardless, these points didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story. If I had started this book earlier in the evening, I would have read it in one sitting. I hope Lopatin continues with the story of Apollo, Flora, and Andrew. I want to know what will happen next.

Book Rating: 4/5 stars.

You can buy the book on Amazon, find it on Goodreads and check out the author at her website!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

GeekBuying.com

Book Review: Provider​ Prime

More fantastic reviews from our external reviewer Chris Connors! This one was called Provider Prime: Alien Legacy by John Vassar.

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Synopsis: Earth has endured world wars, global famine and the near-collapse of civilization. It has always survived. But it has never seen anything like this…

After a century of peace, world security is under attack from an entity with incredible power and intelligence. Something that has remained hidden within the Populus for decades. Something malevolent.

Facing impossible odds, one man is caught in a race against time to find and eliminate the threat. Earth’s all-powerful AIs, the SenANNs, offer hope but have their own agenda for the future of mankind. As an alien starship appears on the outskirts of the solar system, the loyalty of the most advanced machine minds the world has ever known will be tested.

In the final reckoning, with the future of humanity at stake, the SenANNs themselves will hold the balance of power.

Will they stand with the human race or assist in its subjugation?

An expletive might be appropriate here, but I’ll settle for, “oh boy, this book was good!” I admire anyone who has taken the time to write a book, even if it isn’t all that good, because, by gum, they sat down and wrote a friggin’ book! How awesome is that?! Then you get an author who not only has written a book but has done it so well you wouldn’t know that there was no professional publishing house behind him.

For the most part, this book was difficult to put down at bedtime. It wasn’t just good in terms of the storyline, but good in terms of writing, both creative and technical. If there were any spelling errors or major grammar mistakes I missed them. I thought I spotted an incorrect comma placement right near the beginning, but that’s probably po-ta-toe vs po-taw-toe scenario; and I was so involved in the story right from page one I didn’t even slow down to check. The attention to detail needed for this level of technical writing is something you expect from a professional editor—my reviews have more grammatical errors in them than this entire book (I’m pretty good at spotting errors in my own work but only after they’ve gone online or been sent out to a client).

Set about 2 centuries in the future, Earth’s scientific knowledge has leaped forward since the time of the Great Famine when several billion people died and humanity was in danger of extinction. Space flight, orbital living quarters, AI, Moon and Mars colonies are thriving, and crime rates are at a manageable level. People are beginning to exhibit signs of telepathy or empathic connections, something that is viewed with a bit of suspicion, but doesn’t stray into us vs them X-men territory; instead, it plays a background part that adds to the storyline rather than be the storyline.

Part of the story blurb from Amazon states, “After a century of peace, world security is under attack from an entity with incredible power and intelligence. Something that has remained hidden within the Populus for decades. Something malevolent.

Facing impossible odds, ex-FedStat agent Lee Mitchell is caught in a race against time to find and eliminate the threat. Earth’s all-powerful AIs, the SenANNs, offer hope but have their own agenda for the future of mankind. They also have plans for Mitchell which will make him question what it is to be human.”

It won’t come as a spoiler, given the sub-title of the book, that aliens are involved, but at first, you don’t know why they’re here—to aid or to subjugate?

One thing, of many, that I liked is the author doesn’t explain all the terms— he doesn’t spoon-feed you like some authors (you know who you are) who seem to have a low opinion of their readers’ intelligence.

In real life we don’t explain all our acronyms or terms or how things work to people we talk to, but use them with the understanding that they also know these shortcut terms or how things work: MTO, OPP, coppers, 9-1-1, tweakers, NFL, change the spark plugs, electoral processes, and on it goes. Vassar’s technique feels much more “realistic” than having characters explain things for the sake of the reading audience that should be obvious to the other characters in the book.

baby

Did your pilot just explain pilot acronyms to another pilot?

With Vassar, the reading audience can pick up what is meant within a few pages of seeing the terms used in context. His well-done technique kept me turning pages; I wasn’t pulled out of the story, which happens when some character explains what should be obvious to those around him. I feel this type of writing technique is under-appreciated by many readers because the story flows so smoothly they don’t recognize why it flows that way.

He also manages not to veer into William Gibson territory who has taken “aggravatingly obtuse” to a whole new level; Gibson is brilliant, but avoid going on Gibson reading binge if you want to maintain your love of reading.

The pacing of the Vassar’s story also kept me turning pages. Things did slow down a bit near the end, strangely enough, when the alien spaceship finally shows up—it was still interesting though. As well, there were a couple of items that didn’t seem to fit into the story—it wasn’t fully explained why an agent’s communication node failure was integral to the story nor why it had to malfunction; far as I could tell it wasn’t necessary as that storyline could have been fulfilled using devices that are already in place.

There is also a couple of near Deus ex Machina used to extricate characters out of tight situations near the end (one technological, one convenient telepathic intervention); it felt like cheating to me. If you don’t know what Deus ex Machina is, don’t look it up—it’ll ruin Star Trek for you forever.

startrek

“Don’t look, you’ll be ok, this will be the last Deus ex Machina device for this week, ahhh.. I mean season”.

And, I thought the love interest wasn’t developed well at all—Mitchell just meets this person yet they’re deeply in love. Yes, they both are latent telepaths, but the story didn’t explore how this brought them towards deep love. The love interest felt tacked on to give Mitchell more motivation for continuing on against some good-sized odds.

But those are minor quibbles. The line “We are the same. But we are different” (see front piece picture) is a recurring theme in the book, which ties things together. It is especially put to good use at the end of the story where the words “We are the same” take on new meaning, which gave me a happy chill. The universe Vassar has created felt realistic, creatively done, and was clever, which is fitting considering his writing was the same way.

The ending does leave room for further books in this universe. It also could end right there, as it was fairly satisfying and leaves it to the reader to imagine what might happen next. If Vassar does continue with this universe I’ll buy those books. Personally, I want to know how Mitchell’s life continues as all he knows now will completely change how he sees life. Vassar has demonstrated that his writing is comparable with some well-known authors, and I thought it was better writing than some big names (you still listening, Dean?).

For just the technical prowess alone I’d give 6/5 stars if there were such a thing. For storyline, creative writing, imagination, well-developed universe, definitely a 5/5 star book, and then some!

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

GeekBuying.com

Book Review: The Ambassador Of What

Bookworms! I am super excited to share this review of The Ambassador Of What by Adrian Michael Kelly. This book was sent to me by an amazing publishing company called ECW Press as part of a blog collaboration I reached out to them about doing.

Publishers Weekly recognizes ECW Press as one of the most diversified independent publishers in North America. ECW Press has published close to 1,000 books that are distributed throughout the English-speaking world and translated into dozens of languages.

Synopsis: Slogging through the miles of a city marathon, an eleven-year-old boy encounters small miracles; about to marry one of her patients in a home for the elderly, a nurse asks her estranged son to come to the wedding and give her away; home from university, a young man has Christmas dinner with his hard-up dad in a bistro behind a rural gas bar. Men and boys and maleness, money and its lack, the long haunt of childhood, marriage and divorce — these lie at the heart of The Ambassador of What. Driven by an ear for how we talk, how we feel, how we fail, and how we love, these are tough and tender stories that take hold, and linger.

Honestly, this book was brilliant. It was so real and showed the sides of a family in all their great times and all their struggles. No family is ever perfect and it was refreshing to see that portrayed in these storylines.

The book was completely set in Canada (primarily Ontario) which I loved because this is where I live. I am in North Bay but the book referenced Toronto, Kingston, Sudbury and then other small towns in Ontario. Books that are set in my home country always resonate with me. It’s amazing to have attention being drawn to your home; the place where you have grown and created stories and memories in your lifetime.

It isn’t too long either so it keeps you interested from start to finish. The last part was about a father and son going fishing and it was so similar to how I used to go fishing with my dad. They had the same mannerisms in their preparation for the daily catch and what bait they used (frogs on a hook). I was not a fan of the impaling of frogs on a hook as I was a kid and felt bad for the frogs so I tended to use other styles of bait or the old classic worm and a bobble lure. I felt like I was reading my memory straight out of my brain. Then I had a dream about fishing that night that was so vivid, I felt very nostalgic the next day. A book that can bring out this feeling and emotion in me is one you don’t forget so quickly.

Overall, I would suggest picking up this book for a quick, entertaining read that will bring you back to your roots.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on ECW Press and find it on Amazon and Goodreads!

Sidenote: I am running a fundraiser for our local Food Bank in North Bay to raise money and make sure that families will have something to eat over the holidays. You can donate at this link:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/2243695192532823/?fundraiser_source=external_url

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by ECW Press in physical format to read and give an honest review. 

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Blog Tour: Alpaca My Bags – Dying to Leave the Oasis

Alpaca My Bags: Dying to Leave the Oasis (A Desert Oasis Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Violet Patton

Cozy Mystery
First in Series
Amazon Digital Services (December 1st, 2018)
231 pages
Digital ASIN: B07JX5WHB5

Murder? Romance? Intrigue? The Desert Oasis runs rampant with gossip and secrets.

Sweetie Bastard told Hunny Bunny—pack your bags we’re moving to lovely Tucson, Arizona. She didn’t have a choice. He sold her house and bought a park model online sight unseen in the Desert Oasis 55 plus community.

The park was more asphalt than oasis—hot—dry—terrible.

The trailer was a wreck. No air-conditioning. No beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay.
There’s an Arizona room to build. A golf cart to buy. Dances, crafts, and funerals to attend.
Bunny agrees to take water aerobics. She hates water.

First lesson—the park’s ladies’ man athletic director was found weighed down and deadd at the bottom of the swimming pool. Who killed philandering Dan? And why?

The last tenant in their new home, Wanda, left behind her clothes, knickknacks, and dishes. The place gives her the willies. Bunny can’t stand an unsolved mystery, and she’ll dig deep and wide to solve Wanda’s case.

Download Alpaca My Bags today. Will Bunny agree to live happily ever after in the Oasis, or will she make Sweetie Bastard move to posh Scottsdale?

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The Desert Oasis series:
Alpaca My Bags
Wool Over Your Eyes. February 4, 2019 Pre-order now
No Prob-Llama
Ain’t No Llama Drama

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About the author

I grew up in Arkansas, just a few miles from Louisiana. Violet Patton was a grandmother. I took her name as a pen name in her honor. She didn’t read much and when she did it was True Confessions magazine. She married a man twice her age at 18 and she did not have romance in her life, but she longed for it. She was tough, picking cotton, milking cows and tending a garden to keep her family alive. Behind her toughness was a sweet tenderness which showed through her beautiful blue eyes. Now as I age, I miss her more and more. Her photograph graces my desk, and I often ask for her advice or read my stories aloud to her. I can hear her laugh as I read my stories and I remember that spirit she never lost despite her adversities.

Thank you for giving me everything you had.

Catch Violet at the following places.

Amazon

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