Cover Reveal: Polarities by Carissa Andrews

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Title: Polarities
Series: Pendomus Chronicles Book 2

Author: Carissa Andrews
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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Synopsis

Polarities is the second novel in the Pendomus Chronicles Series.
To see where it all began, be sure to check out Carissa‘s first
novel, Pendomus: Book 1 of the Pendomus Chronicles.
 

With Runa separated from the only people who’ve had her
back, she must go on a quest alone to uncover what it really
means to be the Daughter of Five. Dropped in an unknown
location, presumably still on the planet, she only has a monolithic
book — the Caudex — as her guide, but it’s not giving up its
answers easily. Will she be able to uncover the mysteries?

In the meantime, Trae and Kani are on a mission of their own,
which may turn out to be disastrous. With Fenton dead and Runa
gone, their next course of action is to strike Videus back where he’ll
hurt most. Will their plan succeed to bring down the mysterious
man behind the Helix? Will Runa be able to find her way back to
her friends? Or is the planet doomed to destruction after all?

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Purchase Book 1
Pendomus

Barnes & Noble // Amazon

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About the Author

“An author emerges from the depths of Minnesotan waters. Sci-fi/Fantasy is my pen of choice.”

Carissa Andrews is a Minnesota-based genre bending author who writes a combination of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopia. When not writing her own books, she’s busy reading them.

Her first novel, Pendomus, was the first of a three-part series and was published in 2013. Now, four years later, Polarities (Book 2) of the Pendomus Chronicles, and Revolutions (Book 3) will be released at the end of 2017.

For more information on their release, visit Carissa Andrews’ author website: www.carissaandrews.com and sign up for her newsletter notifications.

Carissa is also a freelance graphic designer, writer and content creator, social media manager, and marketing professional. She writes consistently on topics of science, technology, art, writing, photography, graphic design, health, self improvement, and more. Her articles can be found published across the interwebs. Carissa is also a Top Rated Freelancer on Upwork, and can be contacted for freelancing opportunities: https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~011fb5962824326eaa/

Book Review: The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

The Breakdown
B. A. Paris
St. Martin’s Press, July 2017
ISBN 978-1-250-12246-9
Hardcover

From the publisher—

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

It used to be that when a book was labeled as a thriller, I knew exactly what I was about to read, a pulse-pounding story full of action and with danger chomping at the heels of the good guys at every turn but without a lot of introspection. Short chapters and a frenetic pace would keep me flipping the pages as fast as I could. Nowadays, though, the term has become so loosey-goosey that it means almost nothing and I have to wonder what I’m going to get.

The Breakdown is not a thriller but it can fairly be called suspense. Yes, there is a sense of danger but we also spend a lot of time in the protagonist’s head (amplified by the first person present tense narration) trying to figure out what’s going on, stressing out over every little thing, suffering guilt over whether she might have been able to prevent the murder and obsessing over the possibility she has started early onset dementia. That last is frightening all by itself and made me feel very uneasy for Cass but it was hard to relate it to the core mystery of the story until certain things started to become pretty obvious.

I have mixed feelings about this book because, while I found it too predictable and I really don’t like first person present tense in crime fiction, I still enjoyed it enough to keep reading. I was relatively sure early in the story what was happening but I wanted to see how Ms. Paris would get me there because she has such a command of words, a nice turn of phrase, if you will, that the simple act of reading her work is a pleasure.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2017.

Book Review: A Good Place to Hide by Peter Grose

A Good Place to Hide
Peter Grose
Pegasus Books, May 2016
ISBN: 978-1-68177-124-3
Trade Paperback

The period between 1939 and 1944 in Europe was not smooth and elegant. Relative calm settled over France as the Vichy Government moved to solidify itself and accommodate German occupation in the Northern Zone. As author Peter Grose notes, the central figures were Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini and Winston Churchill. War was the order of the day and as competing armies surged across the land, residents of a small, almost unnoticed group of farm villages found themselves responsible for a large humanitarian effort.

It didn’t seem to matter that for a thousand years the Huguenots had been persecuted for their religious and social beliefs. They were prepared to hide Jewish refugees at the drop of a trigger. And because of Haute-Loire’s proximity to Switzerland, they became a conduit for protection and saving of thousands of Jewish refugees from all over Europe, hiding them and moving them on to safety in neutral Switzerland.

The book is at times mesmerizing with it’s incredible tales of seventeen-year-old Piton, a guide who made the perilous journey perhaps a hundred times, to Virginia Hall, an American woman who asserted herself into the fabric of Resistance command and directed dozens of parachute drops, movement of large amounts of cash, rescue of prisoners and destruction of key transportation links to disrupt German military operations.

The book is over-long in some details and in places needs trimming to increase its impact. But it is a strong inspiring tale of man’s humanity toward man and a detailing of some clever and scary maneuvers by those same humans. It was hard to put down and is a grand testament to the women and men of Haute-Loire villages who refused to bow to the fascist German fist, who saved almost a generation of Jews.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2017.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan and Longbow Girl by Linda Davies

Eden Summer
Liz Flanagan
David Fickling Books, July 2017
ISBN 978-1-338-12120-9
Hardcover

Words are influential, able to constructively and destructively affect both the speaker and the audience. Final words feel eerily efficacious; especially when there is absolutely no expectation that they are indeed, last words. Vicious, venomous verbalizations can compound an already catastrophic event. In and of itself, crippling in its cruel randomness; devastating and gut-wrenching when choked with guilt.

A cloud of culpability completely cloaked the sun inside of Eden just as its rays tentatively began to reach out again.  Regret remained whenever she recalled begging her bestie, Jess, to walk her to the bus stop in a dismal downpour months ago.  Of course, she did not commit the heinous hate-crime, nor could she have stopped it; but that knowledge isn’t enough to alleviate feeling at fault.

Being the best nurse-cheerleader-therapist-buddy that she could be, Eden was instrumental in Jess’s healing and found that she was also helping herself move forward and focus on the important matters.  After all, she is a normal teen girl and she did catch the eye of the admittedly adorable Liam that Jess was always talking about.

Liam and Jess, comfortable chums and coffee-shop coworkers, both love Eden with the all-encompassing, unconditional, wholly-heart-felt love of fierce friendship. The bond built from “…looking after Eden all summer.” seems strong enough to support Eden indefinitely, until she disappears.  Will their devotion, even when paired with resilient determination and dogged belief, be enough to find Eden?

“She’d gone inside herself, somewhere a long way down, and I didn’t know how to follow.”

Wonderfully woven with stunning, unique, yet complimentary, threads; Eden Summer is a familiar, but fresh fabric.  Ms. Flanagan’s finesse in tackling two terrifying topics results in a relatable, engaging read that is as enjoyable as it is significant. Fast-paced with flashbacks filling in details, the story quickly captivates and keeps hold, even after “the end”.

Reviewed by jv poore, June 2017.

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Longbow Girl
Linda Davies
Chicken House, March 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-85345-3
Hardcover

One of the coolest things about Longbow Girl is that while the events happen in present day, one character lives in an actual castle and another on a working farm; so it feels a bit like it is set in the past.  A pretty groovy way of lending an authentic feel to a story entrenched in history.

When an old tomb is inadvertently uncovered, Merry discovers an old book that appears to be one of the tomes from the Middle Welsh collection known as Mabinogion.  Although some folks believe whole-heartedly that the narratives are filled with truths, many others insist there are only myths.  Either way, there is no argument as to the value of the text.  Merry’s find may be the very thing to save the farm that has been the life and heart of her family for more than seven hundred years.

Of course there are challenges with having the artifact authenticated and obstacles in the way of proving it was found on her family’s land.  Weighing heavier than the legal red tape is the unshakable feeling that disturbing the grave will exact a higher price than the book could bring.  Nothing about this “solution” is sure or easy.

Fortunately, Merry is vibrant, fierce, cunning, and strong.  Often, a heroine struggles to come to terms; drum up courage to conquer that which seems insurmountable. Merry does not.  It’s not that she’s oblivious.   For her, doing the right thing is intuitive.  She is aware of the risks and possible loss, personally; but that is of small consequence when compared to the potential greater good for the masses.

Longbow Girl is a spectacular smash-up of Historical Fiction, Action and Adventure, Mystery and Suspense, with a shot of Science Fiction that features heroes, heroines and horses and touches on relatable social issues, family feuds and friendships.  And that’s just a few of the things that I dearly loved about it.

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2016.

Book Review: Betrayal at IGA by Susan Spann—and a Giveaway!

Betrayal at IGA
A Hiri Hattori Novel #5
A Shinobi Mystery
Susan Spann
Seventh Street Books, July 2017
ISBN 978-1-6338-8277-5
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Autumn, 1565: After fleeing Kyoto, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo take refuge with Hiro’s ninja clan in the mountains of Iga province. But when an ambassador from the rival Koga clan is murdered during peace negotiations, Hiro and Father Mateo must find the killer in time to prevent a war between the ninja clans.

With every suspect a trained assassin, and the evidence incriminating not only Hiro’s commander, the infamous ninja Hattori Hanzō, but also Hiro’s mother and his former lover, the detectives must struggle to find the truth in a village where deceit is a cultivated art. As tensions rise, the killer strikes again, and Hiro finds himself forced to choose between his family and his honor.

One of the most delightful private eye duos is back! I know it’s only been a year since their last appearance but it seemed like eons because I love them so much.

Hiro and Father Mateo are a most unusual pair, this Japanese shinobi and Portuguese priest that are linked together by contract. Hiro was assigned the task of protecting the Jesuit from all the dangers that can befall a foreigner in the midst of feudal Japan and he has done so with honor and careful attention to the things that could get Father Mateo in trouble. A very large pitfall is the culture and societal demands of this world of shoguns and samurais and Hiro is particularly concerned that the priest understand how to behave as they approach Iga, Hiro’s home. It’s Father Mateo’s first visit and Hiro himself hasn’t been home in some time.

Adding to the potential problem is the enormous tension that’s palpable in the feasting room when they arrive slightly late. A group of delegates from the Koga clan has come, supposedly to seek common ground with the Hattori clan to prevent war but at least one in the visiting group is overtly hostile and suspicious. Fuyu’s attitude of extreme distrust seems warranted when another member of his clan falls over, clearly dying from poison moments after beginning the feast.

In what is essentially a locked room mystery, in this case a locked compound, Fuyu immediately accuses the Hattori clan of murder and hostilities escalate until this room full of trained assassins are all prepared to kill each other. Hattori Hanzo, host and commander, suggests that Hiro and Father Mateo be appointed to solve the crime and bring the killer to justice but they have only three days to do so. The prime suspect? Midori, the woman who prepared the feast, Hiro’s mother.

This entry in the series is my favorite so far for a lot of reasons. Emotions run high, the tension is at breaking point and the pressure on Father Mateo and Hiro has never been so intense but we also get a good look at Hiro’s background and family, the forces that made him who he is. Family and an old love are at the core of the story and the closed community of medieval Japan is immensely interesting but, as always with this pair, the investigation is enlightening in many ways, especially considering the lack of modern-day crime solving forensics. The intriguing 16th-century setting and Ms. Spann’s knowledge of the era and place are the icing on the cake for this addition to my list of best books read in 2017.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2017.

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Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Books-A-Million
Amazon // Indiebound // Seventh Street Books

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About the Author

Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

Connect with Susan

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Follow the tour:

Monday, July 10th: Suzy Approved – author guest post
Tuesday, July 11th: In Bed With Books
Thursday, July 13th: Clues & Reviews
Monday, July 17th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, July 18th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, July 19th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, July 20thBuried Under Books
Monday, July 24thWrite Read Life
Tuesday, July 25thAll Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Wednesday, July 26thMama Vicky Says
Thursday, July 27thPatricia’s Wisdom
Friday, July 28thHoser’s Blook
Monday, July 31stBewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, August 1stA Dream Within a Dream
Wednesday, August 2ndJathan & Heather
Thursday, August 3rdOpen Book Society
Friday, August 4thBook Dilettante

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To enter the drawing for a
print copy of Betrayal at Iga
by Susan Spann, just leave

a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on Monday
night, July 24th. This drawing is open
to residents of the US and Canada.

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Spotlight on Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente—and a Giveaway!

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Title: Ten Dead Comedians
Author: Fred Van Lente
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Genre: Mystery

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Synopsis

As the story opens, nine comedians of various acclaim are summoned
to the island retreat of legendary Hollywood funnyman Dustin Walker.
The group includes a former late-night TV host, a washed-up improv
instructor, a ridiculously wealthy “blue collar” comic, and a
past-her-prime Vegas icon. All nine arrive via boat to find that
every building on the island is completely deserted. Marooned without
cell phone service or wifi signals, they soon find themselves being
murdered one by one. But who is doing the killing, and why?

A darkly clever take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None
and other classics of the genre, Ten Dead Comedians is a marvel
of literary ventriloquism, with hilarious comic monologues in
the voice of every suspect. It’s also an ingeniously plotted
puzzler with a twist you’ll never see coming!

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Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

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An Excerpt from Ten Dead Comedians

Chapter One

I

A bleep, a boop, a shudder, a swoosh, and there it was, on each of their phones:

Hey there Funny Person.

Steve Gordon didn’t see it at first.

He had a good excuse, though.

He was dying.

Steve had died before, of course. He knew how. At the Laugh Shack in Portland, Maine, in front of that bachelorette party. At that open mic in Des Moines, when he was first starting out. At his SNL audition, after his career was basically already over.

Dying on stage, in the middle of a set, was something every stand-up experienced. It was as inevitable and unavoidable as bad weather. The pros distinguished themselves from the wannabes by not buckling under the weight of the dead room, of the surly crowd, of their own (hopefully temporary) suckitude.

But tonight felt different.

Tonight Steve felt like he was running out of lives.

“Hey, thanks, everybody, for that great welcome. Are you ready to be the best Finance Department we can be?”

Bifocals, bad ties, and pantsuits peered at him from the audience of the Chicago Improv Underground. The theater used to be a strip club and still retained the vague air of being somewhat ashamed of itself, with its low ceiling and bad lighting and support beams blocking sight lines from a third of the seats. Like every other performer, Steve had to memorize the location of the ancient lump of blue putty covering the hole in the floor where the stripper pole had been sawed off to avoid tripping or stubbing his toe on it.

The tumbledown surroundings were part of the act—they helped draw herds of accountants from the Whatever Co. out of the glass tomb of their conference room, down the concrete staircase beneath the Aldi supermarket, for this quarter’s team-building seminar.

This ritualized descent into the underworld was all part of the initiation process. The staircase was flanked by black-and-white photos of the famous before they were famous, fresh-faced and poor, honing their skills on the Underground stage before their careers began to flourish on Saturday Night LiveMad TV, and The Daily Show.

By the time the audience arrived in the black box theater and took their broken-down seats, they understood they were ensconced in the loam of celebrity: the Improv Underground was the rich, dark soil from which impossible dreams were raised.

Or, in Steve’s case, the pure earth to which he had returned.

In the stairwell’s Before pictures, the audience had seen him twenty years younger. Now, as Steve faced them, one eye on the floor to avoid the ex-stripper-pole bump, they were looking at the After.

“All right, folks. For our first team-building exercise, I’m going to hunt you for sport, so if you could all line up against the far wall and get your panda costumes . . . What? No? C’mon, being hunted builds character! Man is the most dangerous game.

“No, you can tell I’m joshing. Tonight we’re gonna have fun improvising sketches, just like we used to do on What Just Happened? Teddy, could you come up here on stage? Teddy is the manager of Improv Underground. He’s a professional funnyman like me, which means he’s also an amateur degenerate.

“So we’ll make up a comedy scene right here in front of you. Now somebody give me a place. Any place. Doesn’t matter where. No wrong answers here. The one word you can’t use in improv is ‘no.’”

“Auschwitz!” blurted out a middle-aged CPA in the back row.

Steve blinked.

“Oooo . . . okay? Auschwitz. Sure! Now can somebody give me a profession?”

“Rodeo clown!” yelled the Executive Senior Vice President of Something in the front.

Steve swallowed. “No,” he said.

“You said that was the one thing you couldn’t say!” the ESVPoS exclaimed with a near-audible harumph.

“No, I said that was the one thing you couldn’t say,” Steve said. And looking at Teddy’s face when he said it, and the face of the executive’s assistant sitting next to him when he said it, he knew instantly he shouldn’t have said it, because this guy hadn’t been told no by anybody still with a job since 1998.

At that moment Steve thought maybe he really was dying. The spark that had animated his existence since he was a kid was sputtering out, that desire to make people laugh, to book that next gig, to not punch an audience member in the face. What was it all for, the bad food and canceled flights? He could go back to law school like his mother always wanted. At his age, it would be a sitcom waiting to happen. Or he could flip burgers.

Flipping burgers was sounding better and better by the second. His phone vibrated again. Steve ignored Teddy’s look, a look that said “Oh no you will not check your damn phone while you’re in the middle of a gig, you pitiful sketch-show has-been” and turned his back on the audience.

“Just a second,” Steve said. “I’ll be right back.”

He pulled out the phone out and read:

II

You don’t know who I am, but you MIGHT know who I work for.

*****
Excerpted from TEN DEAD COMEDIANS © Copyright 2017 by Fred Van Lente. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Fred Van Lente is the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning writer of comics like Archer & Armstrong (Harvey Award nominee, Best Series), Action Philosophers! (American Library Association Best Graphic Novel for Teens), and Cowboys & Aliens (with Andrew Foley), the basis for the feature film.

His many other titles include Weird Detective, The Comic Book History of Comics, The Incredible Hercules (with Greg Pak), Taskmaster, Marvel Zombies and The Amazing Spider-Man.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the playwright Crystal Skillman, and some mostly ungrateful cats.

Fred loves hearing from readers at fred.vanlente@gmail.com

Find Fred on his Website and Twitter.

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To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Ten Dead Comedians, leave a
comment below. The winning name will
be drawn Saturday evening, July 22nd.
Open to residents of the US.

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“[this] debut fiction could possibly become, in its own way, as
much of a classic as the novel it honors.”—New York Journal of Books

“Van Lente’s first foray into mystery is both a tribute to
Agatha Christie and a dark showbiz satire.”—Library Journal