Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday Rewind: 2017

This is a slightly different Sunday Rewind as it's the last day of 2017 and I've been thinking about the books I've read this year.

Partly because I'm a dork, and partly because half the time I can't remember if I've read a particular book, I started tracking my reading a while ago. I have a word document with every book I've read since 2007. Thanks to the GSMC Book Review Podcast this year's total is 105 (unless I finish one more book today). That's my 2nd highest number for books read in a year.

Obviously this isn't 105 books, just a sampling, and a lot of them are from authors I interviewed on the podcast.  Someone on Facebook asked me what my favorite title from 2017 is and I responded by asking which one of her children is her favorite.  Not that the books are my children, but I have a hard time choosing a favorite.  Often the most recent book I've finished is my favorite.  Often it depends on what mood I'm in.  I reread the Harry Potter series this year (for the millionth time) and that is always one of my favorites.  I loved the Menagerie series by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari H. Sutherland and the Jackaby series by William Ritter. And then there are the authors I have had on the podcast and books that I might not have read otherwise.  I won't choose a favorite because I have loved some aspect of every book.  Thankfully in 2017 I can't think of a single book that I absolutely hated.  Here's hoping for the same book luck in 2018.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Flat Adventures

Have you ever read the Flat Stanley books or had a child do a flat version of themselves?

All 5 of my nieces have participated in this process over the years, and this week I have been having adventures with Flat Risa, the 2 dimensional version of my youngest niece.  Since it's Christmas week, she has helped me make truffles as gifts for our neighbors, open presents, went with us to see Star Wars, celebrated our dogs' birthdays, and helped me in the studio with the podcasts. 

I've taken a lot more pictures, I just didn't want to subject you to them.  I've had a lot of fun, though.  And yes, I did make my dogs birthday hats.  I also made Flat Risa a birthday hat, as well as headphones...  I keep imagining what 7 year old, 3 dimensional Risa will say about some of the pictures.  I picture a lot of eye rolling and exasperated "AUNTIE!"(s).  She's quite melodramatic and more than a little bit of a sassy pants, which is partly why I love her so.

I hope your Christmas week has involved adventures of some variety.  Flat Risa and I need to go to the park now.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Maybe you celebrate Christmas and maybe you don't.  Either way, maybe your kids woke you up at an ungodly hour this morning.  Or maybe it's just Monday and you're trudging into another work week.

Regardless of your day's activities, I hope there's a few minutes in there to sit in front of a fire, or a tree, drink something hot, and indulge in a good book.  It's too hot here for a fire most of the time, but I will be indulging in a morning cup of coffee (in my red cup with the snowman on it, thank you very much), sitting in front of a tree, snuggling puppies, and reading.

And then to carry on a now 3 year tradition, the hubby and I will be joining friends to go see the new Star Wars movie.  Squeeeeee!

Wishing you a day filled with whatever makes you happiest!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Roll the Dice by Wayne Avrashow

On today's episode of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I speak with Wayne Avrashow about his debut novel, Roll the Dice.  The book tells the story of Tyler Sloan, a middle-aged rock star who decides to run for political office.

Roll the Dice is the story of Tyler Sloan, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who exits the Las Vegas stage to campaign as Nevada’s next United States Senator. The off-season special election captivates the nation as the winner will decide control of the evenly-divided Senate. He wages a nontraditional campaign independent of the two political parties. Sloan relies on his charisma and instincts, honed by years on stage and by observing his father Mike Sloan, a former California Governor who nearly became President.
The campaign is riddled with problems and controversy. Sloan’s strained relationship with his father permeates the campaign; Sloan has a flirtatious relationship with his young, media advisor Bree Baker; a musician friend blackmails him with a decades-old video sex tape of a ménage a trois between Sloan and two women, one of whom is his Republican opponent; his campaign manager Tony Martino served in the same role for his father, but past legal troubles emerge and Martino surreptitiously wears a listening device for the FBI to entrap elected officials; and Sloan’s attorney, the often-manic Grant Zimmer, is a trusted advisor while protecting his own self interests.
Throughout the political headaches, Sloan seeks to shield his thirteen year-old daughter Riley from the myriad of allegations, while reasoning with his unpredictable ex-wife, Riley’s mother, who is increasingly dependent on prescription drugs.
Roll the Dice recounts the unpredictable external forces that impact a campaign as well as the candidate’s internal struggles, hopes, and fears. It also illustrates and showcases the unique contrast between the dazzling city of Las Vegas, the rugged, yet urban Reno, and all the small towns, ranches and desert throughout Nevada.
I wasn't sure about this book when I first received it.  Nothing against Wayne as an author, just my own concern that I might not enjoy a book set in the political sphere.  It's not a topic I'm drawn to naturally, and I wouldn't normally pick up this type of book.  Which, of course, is why I enjoy doing this podcast so much, because it introduces me to books I wouldn't read otherwise.  Yes, the book is set in the world of politics, but Wayne writes the story, and the main character Tyler Sloan, in such a way that draws the reader in and makes them root for Sloan as a candidate.

The book isn't simply about Sloan's campaign, either.  Rather, we get insight into Sloan, his career, his reasons for running, and his relationships, most of which are complicated.  It's almost more of a character study than a book about a political campaign.  There's also the element of intrigue and suspense, which helps to move the story along and keep the reader engaged.

  • Political Fiction
  • Suspense
  • Mystery

What I enjoyed:
  • The unexpected elements of humor sprinkled throughout the story.
  • Watching Sloan's story and character unfold throughout the book, and seeing his relationships evolve as he navigates through the campaign.
  • The stubborn nature of Sloan as a character and a political candidate.  He's determined to run the campaign as he chooses, not giving in to what is expected and what is the norm.
Who should read Roll the Dice?
  • Fans of politics and behind the scenes looks at campaigns.
  • Fans of books with elements of intrigue.
    • "Sloan studied her as she bolstered her words with gestures, timely pauses, and full smiles - a performance that held all the spontaneity of an Olympic synchronized swimmer."
    • "At 8 a.m., the desert sun was soft and innocent. The Strip’s casino gamblers were crashing from alcohol with dashed dreams and the mental grime of sleep deprivation. Slot machine addicts were numb after an all-night binge of mesmerizing sounds and lights that had slowly but surely drained last week’s paycheck. Sloan dabbed perspiration as he walked out of the batting cage. Bree’s crew and a horde of media filmed every gesture."
    Where you can find Wayne online:
    Facebook: @wayneavrashowauthor
    Twitter: @wayneavrashow
    Instagram: @wavrashow

    Author Bio:
    Wayne Avrashow knows all about politics.    He was the campaign manager for two successful Los Angeles City Council campaigns and a Deputy/Chief of Staff to those two elected City Council members. He served as a senior advisor for a successful city-wide referendum in the City of Los Angeles, co-authored ballot arguments on Los Angeles County-wide measures, served as Chairman for a Los Angeles County ballot measure, and was a Los Angeles government Commissioner for nearly twenty years. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Yaroslavsky Institute, a public policy institute founded by long time Southern California elected official, and now UCLA professor, Zev Yaroslavsky.
    A practicing attorney, he specializes in government advocacy, real estate, and business law. Formerly, he was an officer in two real estate development firms.  As a lawyer-lobbyist, he has represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. His background in politics, government, business, and law provides unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns.
    He has lectured at his law school and taught at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He has also authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers, legal, business, and real estate publications.  In addition, he is the author of a self-published book for the legal community, Success at Mediation—10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys. (Source)

    For my interview with Wayne please click here.

    Tuesday, December 19, 2017

    The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach

    I was so excited for the interview on today's GSMC Book Review Podcast because that interview is with a good friend of mine, Angela Breidenbach.  Ang and I know each from my time in Missoula, MT many years ago.  We both attended Atonement Lutheran Church (which is, coincidentally, where I also know Mitchell F. Jones from as well...talented place!) and I got to know her and her family.  She is one of the kindest and most positive people I know, so it was wonderful to chat with her again and to have her on the podcast.  You can tell we know each other, though, as we might have gotten a tiny bit chatty during the interview, and that doesn't count the 45 minutes we spent before the interview getting caught up!

    Moving on to Angela's books. We spoke about her Montana Beginnings series, specifically the first book, The Debutante Queen.  

    Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins left behind by the Orphan Trains. But hiding an indentured orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or law prevail? (Source)
    The book takes place in 1889, the year Montana became a state, so for me especially it was fun to read because I got to learn a few things about my home state that I hadn't known before. For instance, the orphan trains are something that I am familiar with and have read several books on, but for some reason it never really thought about the fact that they would have gone through Montana as well.  It was fun to read a story set in a place I am familiar with and then to learn something new about that setting.

    It was purely coincidence that our interview was the week before Christmas and that the book takes place around Christmas.  It is a very sweet story, but still highlights the plight of orphaned children.  In addition to being historical fiction it is also Christian fiction, and the faith of the characters plays a role in how those characters make decisions and live their lives.

    The Debutante Queen is the first in the Montana Beginnings series, and there are currently 5 books in that series with more to come.  Angela also writes non-fiction, which you can find out more about in the interview and on her website.

    • Historical Fiction
    • Christian Fiction
    • Romance

    What I enjoyed:
    • The Montana setting.  Obviously it holds a special place for me, but it's also a great setting for Historical Fiction.
    • The relationship between Calista and Lea, the indentured orphan whom Calista rescues and befriends.
    • The sweetness of the story.
    Who should read The Montana Beginnings Series?
    • Fans of Historical Fiction (especially in Montana!)
    • Fans of Christian Fiction
    • Fans of Romance
    • Fans of all of the above that also come in a series.
      • "Celebrate your personal success of facing a fear and overcoming it.  That's a much bigger success." -Calista's mother
      • "For a person who never wanted to speak in public, Calista delivered the longest speech in her entire life - and lived."
      Where you can find Angela online:
      Facebook: @angbreidenbach
      Twitter: @angbreidenbach
      Instagram: @angbreidenbach

      Author Bio:
      Angela Breidenbach is a bestselling Montana author and the host of Lit Up! with Angela Breidenbach, Grace Under Pressure Radio, and Historically Speaking (Along Came a Writer Network on Blogtalk Radio). Angela serves nationally as the Christian Author Network’s (CAN) president. With a volume of appearances online, television, stage, and radio Angela loves to share her knowledge to help others. She’s spoken and trained nationally for organizations and groups such as the Christian Booksellers Association, UNITE, the Christian Authors Network, and a myriad of writing conferences including Mount Hermon, RWA, ACFW, the Munce Group, Colorado Christian Writing Conference, Philadelphia Christian Writing Conference, etc. on platform, marketing, online marketing, social media, creating book club/special events using Google Hangouts, Youtube, Skype, Facebook, as well as the craft of writing, family history as inspiration, and speaking for women’s events on becoming a woman of confidence, courage, and candor. Angela Breidenbach is often asked to speak on her experience as a professional book judge of nearly 1,000 books to help authors understand contests and judging expectations. She has one foot in researching history and genealogy and the other as a 21st Century techie enthusiast. Her passion is researching family genealogy and writing those love stories into novels and now screenplays. (Source)

      For the interview with Angela please click here.

      Thursday, December 14, 2017

      The Forever Winter Chronicles by KM Fortune

      On today's episode of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I spoke with KM Fortune (pen name of Kathy Chance) about her serial novel The Forever Winter Chronicles. There are currently 7 installments of the novel out, with the 8th coming out on December 27th.  There will be a total of 12 installments to complete the series.  This is a series, but it's also a serial, so I'm going to treat it like a book and give you the description of just the first installment so as to not give too much away.

      Everyone you love is dead.
      Everything you knew is gone.
      You were not supposed to wake up.
      Raven Winter is frozen in time. When she awakens one hundred years later, in a strange underground colony, the world as she knew it is gone. Nuclear war, famine, and a sterility plague have devastated the earth. The land beyond the walls is a wasteland.
      She was dead.
      You saved her life.
      Now you must kill her again.
      Matthew is a scientist searching for the answers which will save the human race from certain extinction. Hoping Raven might provide the answer he has been looking for, Matthew revives her from the state of hibernation. Amazed she is alive, Matthew becomes enchanted with the captivating Raven.
      But the colony leaders want just one thing from the woman from the ice, to study her body and harvest her fertile eggs.
      Will you risk it? Will sacrifice humanity’s last hope in order escape?
      The end of the world is only the beginning.
      Forever Winter: Awakening is book one of a post-apocalyptic thrill ride, which emphasizes the message that if you believe in yourself good can prevail. (Source)
      Forever Winter is interesting because it puts the reader in a world that is at once both familiar and vastly different from our own world.  Raven awakens out of her own time and has to learn to live in this world that bears little resemblance to the world she lives in.  The culture and climate are different, the people are different, and she is thrown into this world with little to no preparation, so she has to navigate it on her own.  To further complicate matters she only remembers bits and pieces of her former life.

      • Science Fiction
      • Dystopian
      • Post-Apocalyptic
      • Time Travel

      What I loved:
      • The evolution of Raven's character as she tries to navigate the new world she has woken up in.  She has to become stronger than she thinks she is in a very short amount of time.
      • The positive outlook Raven has.  A lot of main characters in this genre are very fatalistic, but Raven maintains that she is simply fulfilling her destiny and is convinced that she will find or develop the tools and skills she needs to complete that destiny.
      • Some of the secondary characters who give us insight into this new world.  They come a bit later in the installments, so I don't want to say too much and give things away.
      Who should read The Forever Winter Chronicles?
      • Fans of Science Fiction.
      • Fans of dystopian stories.
      • Fans of strong female protagonists.
      • Fans of serial novels.
        • "Raven trudged on, constantly switching between emotions of awe at the mountain's majesty around her and near panic at the thought that she was alone in this vast land without shelter, food, or friend." -Awakening
        • "Every time [Raven] woke up, she opened her eyes with the hope the laboratory and being trapped in the cabin was all a bad dream. She was always disappointed." -Survival
        Where you can find Kathy online:
        Facebook: @kmfortuneauthor
        Twitter: @km_fortune
        Amazon Author Page:

        Author Bio:
        KM Fortune writes unique women’s adventure stories set in challenging futuristic landscapes. Her current series, The Forever Winter Chronicles, star Raven Winter, a woman frozen in time from a freak accident, who is awakened over one hundred years in the future. The world has fallen through plague and nuclear war and she must learn to survive in a harsh winter dystopian landscape filled with peril. Using her own steadfast determination to persevere, and with the help of characters along the way, this ultimate women’s adventure emphasizes the message that if you believe in yourself good can prevail. (Source)

        To hear the interview with Kathy please click here.

        Tuesday, December 12, 2017

        A Crazy Kind of Love by Mary Ann Marlowe

        On today's episode of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I was privileged to get to chat with Mary Ann Marlow for the second time, about her new book, A Crazy Kind of Love, the second in her Flirting with Fame series..  I first spoke with Mary Ann in August about her wonderful debut novel, Some Kind of Magic. A Crazy Kind of Love takes place in the same world as her first novel.  The main characters from Some Kind of Magic, Eden and Adam, are now secondary characters, and Eden's brother Micah is one of the main characters. 

        Celebrities hold zero interest for photographer Jo Wilder. That’s a problem, since snapping pics of the stars is how the pretty paparazza pays the rent. So when Jo attempts to catch a money shot atop the broad shoulders of a helpful bystander, the only thing she notices about the stranger she straddles is that he’s seriously hot. Only later does Jo learn that he’s also Micah Sinclair–one of rock’s notorious bad boys…
        Soon Jo is on the verge of getting fired for missing a Micah Sinclair exclusive. Until she’s suddenly being pursued by the heartthrob himself. But how can she be sure the musician’s mind-blowing kisses are the real deal? Her colleagues claim he’s a media whore, gambling on some free PR. But something has Jo hoping Micah’s feeling the same powerful pull that she does. A pull so strong, she can’t resist becoming his latest love, even if it means she might become the media’s latest victim . . . (Source)
         It was so much fun to revisit this world and get to know Micah's character a little better, as well as to see Adam and Eden from different perspectives than we saw in Some Kind of Magic.  Mary Ann's writing is fun, smart, and engaging, and the relationship between Micah and Jo is both flirty and complex.  Mary Ann definitely has a fan in me, and I will happily read whatever she writes going forward.

        • Romance
        • Women's Fiction

        What I loved:
        • The complexities of Jo's character.  She is so well developed, with numerous nuances, none of which feel forced or used to give her a false sense of depth.
        • Watching the evolution of Micah's and Jo's relationship as they learn more about who the other person is beyond simply surface impressions.
        • Returning to the Flirting with Fame series and getting a glimpse of what has happened with Eden and Adam since the ending of Some Kind of Magic.
        Who should read A Crazy Kind of Love?
        • Fans of Some Kind of Magic.
        • People who haven't read Some Kind of Magic but who like fun, flirty novels they can sink into and escape for awhile.
        • Fans of romance.
        • Fans of Women's Fiction.
          • "One parent I never disappointed and one parent I always let down." -Jo
          • "I slipped a cookie out of my pocketbook and handed another to Zion.  Nibbling cookies while intent on the unfolding drama, we looked like we were watching a TV show."
          Where you can find Mary Ann online:
          Amazon Author Page:
          Facebook: @marlowemaryann
          Twitter: @maryannmarlowe
          Instagram: @mary_ann_marlowe

          Author Bio:
          I’m a central Virginia-based contemporary romance writer. When I’m not writing, I love to do karate with my kids (I have a second degree black belt) and work by day as a computer programmer/DBA. Theoretically, I love to travel, but until I find a patron to fund my trip around the world, I placate my wanderlust by letting my characters hop on a plane and hang out in Paris. (Source)
          For today's interview with Mary Ann please click here.  For my previous interview, click here.

          Sunday, December 10, 2017

          Sunday Rewind - Jasmine Silvera, Author of Death's Dancer

          My interview with Jasmine Silvera was so much fun.  I'd like to think it was because I was starting to get a little more comfortable in my role as podcast host/interviewer, but I think it was much more due to the fact that Jasmine is just incredibly fun to talk to.  My friend Camille Griep put me in touch with Jasmine so we could talk about her debut novel, Death's Dancer.

          Isela Vogel dances on borrowed time: injury threatens her successful career bringing the favor of the gods to her patrons. One big job could set her up for life-if it doesn't get her killed.  Tasked with stopping an impossible killer, the necromancer Azrael must harness the power of a god to track his prey, and that requires a human dancer.  Capricious gods, family secrets, and scheming necromancers are the least of Isela's worries.
          If she and Azrael fail, it will cost more than her life. If they triumph, she will lose everything she loves.
          And then there's the danger of falling for a Lord of Death.
          This isn't your typical fantasy novel.  It has elements of a typical fantasy novel, but it turns many of those elements on their heads.  It's also intense, funny, and sexy.  Isela as a character is strong and stubborn and incredibly likeable.  Azrael starts off pretty rough around the edges, not as immediately likeable as Isela, but their relationship makes him more accessible, and therefor more likeable, as the book goes on.  Death's Dancer is the first in a series of books set in this world and I am anxious to read the next one and continue with these characters and their lives.

          • Fantasy
          • Romance
          • Mystery
          • Paranormal

          What I loved:
          • Isela and her family.  I can't tell you everything, but they aren't typical.  And yet they are typical in many ways, including how they treat each other with love, loyalty, and humor.
          • The secondary characters around Azrael.  They are odd, but also intriguing, and I'm interested to learn more as the series goes on.
          • Basically I loved the relationships.  The relationship between Azrael and Isela is central, of course, and it's intense and romantic, but the rest of the characters and their relationships with Isela and Azrael really bring the story to life.  They also help to shine light on the types of characters that Isela and Azrael are and become, which is a great technique in story-telling.
          Who should read I Know a Secret?
          • Fans of fantasy.
          • Fans of romance.
          • Fans of mysteries with a bit of suspense thrown in.
          • Fans of supernatural/paranormal books.
            I realized as I began typing this entry that I don't currently have my copy of Death's Dancer with me.  I loaned it to my dad and I haven't gotten it back yet.  Yep, my dad read, and loved, this book.  He's not a huge romance fan, but he loves fantasy, and he specifically asked me when the next one was coming out because he wants to read it.

            I did find a couple of quotes from Jasmine's website, though, so I'll include those:
            • “Who walks into a wolf’s den and comes out alive? Her father’s old joke came unbidden as she stepped forward. A wolf.”
            • “Sleep came on him as a thief, consciousness stolen like a forgotten coin from his pocket.”

            Where you can find Jasmine online:
            Facebook: @jassilvera
            Twitter: @jassilvera


            Author Bio:
            Jasmine Silvera has loved reading and telling stories about imaginary worlds for as long as she can remember. She acquired a love of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books from her dad, who thought the Hobbit was a perfectly acceptable bedtime story for a ten-year-old. She filled long hours as a volunteer at the church thrift store by reading boxes of donated Harlequins.
            In college she published short stories and essays before earning a degree in Broadcast Journalism. In 2012, Jasmine quit her day job in web production to walk the Camino de Santiago and focus on her writing.
            Inspired by and written during her two years living in Prague, her first published book, Death’s Dancer, was released on December 27, 2016 by Kindle Press. It was selected as part of the Kindle Scout Program.
            She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their small, opinionated human charge.
            To listen to the interview with Jasmine please click here.

            Thursday, December 7, 2017

            I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen

            Today on the GSMC Book Review Podcast I had the pleasure of speaking with Tess Gerritsen, author of I Know A Secret, which is the 12th book in the Rizzoli & Isles series.  I have to admit that I had neither read the books nor watched the television show of the same name, although the books have been on my To Be Read list for awhile now.  I'm so glad that this interview was scheduled so that I got to read the book earlier than I might have otherwise!

            Normally when I review a series I give you the description of the first book in the series rather than give too much away, but as this is the 12th book, it seems a bit silly to give you that first description this time.  If you've read the series, you already know what's going on.  If you haven't, then this gives you an idea of the series but doesn't really give anything away.

            Two separate homicides, at different locations, with unrelated victims, have more in common than just being investigated by Boston PD detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles. In both cases, the bodies bear startling wounds—yet the actual cause of death is unknown. It’s a doubly challenging case for the cop and the coroner to be taking on, at an inconvenient time for both of them. As Jane struggles to save her mother from the crumbling marriage that threatens to bury her, Maura grapples with the imminent death of her own mother—infamous serial killer Amalthea Lank.
            While Jane tends to her mother, there’s nothing Maura can do for Amalthea, except endure one final battle of wills with the woman whose shadow has haunted her all her life. Though succumbing to cancer, Amalthea hasn’t lost her taste for manipulating her estranged daughter—by dangling a cryptic clue about the two bizarre murders Maura and Jane are desperately trying to solve.
            But whatever the dying convict knows is only a piece of the puzzle. Soon the investigation leads to a secretive young woman who survived a shocking abuse scandal; an independent horror film that may be rooted in reality; and a slew of martyred saints who died cruel and unusual deaths. And just when Rizzoli and Isles think they’ve cornered a devilish predator, the long-buried past rears its head—and threatens to engulf more innocent lives, including their own. (Source)
            As I mentioned earlier, I hadn't read these books yet, so I was a bit concerned to be jumping in on #12, but I didn't have any trouble reading this one out of sequence.  There is enough backstory given that I had a decent idea of the overall story arc without so much given that it felt forced or unwieldy.  I still want to go back and catch up with those first books, but can also recommend jumping in with this book and enjoying it.

            The homicides in this book were a little disturbing, but also sucked me in right away so that I wanted to find out more, figure out the clues, and find out who really committed the murders. Part of this story, and part of the clues, deal with religious iconography.  I'm a bit of a theology nerd, so I really liked this element of the book and appreciated the research that went into the details.

            • Mystery
            • Thriller & Suspense
            • Medical

            What I loved:
            • The details of the clues and how so many different elements came together within the story to create the mystery in its entirety.
            • The relationship between Jane and Maura, which is clearly complex and nuanced, and has depth and history to it.
            • The creepiness of the murders.  They are weird and disturbing, but in a way that intrigued me rather than putting me off completely.
            Who should read I Know a Secret?
            • Fans of the Rizzoli & Isles book series.
            • Fans of the Rizzoli & Isles television series who haven't read the books (I always think you should read the book in addition to watching the movie or television show because there is always so much more detail in the books).
            • Fans of murder, suspense, and thrillers.
                   "'Bilateral globe enucleation,' said Maura softly.
                   'Is that some kind of fancy medial talk for someone cut out her eyeballs?'
                   'I love how you give everything a nice dry clinical spin. It makes the fact that she's holding her own eyeballs somehow seem less oh, totally [effed] up.'"

              Where you can find Tess online:
              Facebook: @tessgerritsen
              Twitter: @tessgerritsen

              Author Bio:
              Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.
              While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.
              Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), Last To Die (August 2012), Die Again (January 2015) and Playing With Fire (coming October 27, 2015). Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.
              Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.
              Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
              Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine. (Source)

              For the full interview with Tess please click here.

              Tuesday, December 5, 2017

              The Wise Ones by Rebecca Maston

              I remember seeing Rebecca Maston's debut novel, The Wise Ones on Amazon (and then again on Facebook, through the joys of remarketing) and thinking that it looked interesting.  That same week Rebecca contacted me about me reading the book.  Wait...didn't I just start Sunday's post in a similar way?  Should I be concerned that authors are somehow tracking me through the internet or maybe my webcam?!

              OK, moving on from sarcastic paranoid land...

              So. Rebecca contacted me, I read the book, and we talked about it on today's episode of the GSMC Book Review Podcast.  Here is the synopsis:

              A corrupt queen. A brave daughter. All of humanity at stake.
              ​Adella feels trapped under the punishing rule of the power-hungry and corrupt queen, her mother - a woman fanatically bent on ruling the world even at the possible expense of humanity itself. Although she is one of the heirs to the throne Adella has no desire for power, and when she falls for one of her mother’s enemies she knows she must escape to save her own life, and possibly the lives of her subjects. Her only hope is to find the Wise Ones, a group of the world's greatest former inventors and scientists, of whom she is deeply suspicious and fearful. But would an alliance with them to topple the queen be enough to save humanity ... and the whole world? (Source)
              The Wise Ones is a dystopian novel set in the not-too-distant, post-apocalyptic future.  World War III has happened and almost all of humanity, and most of creation, has been wiped out.  A small pocket remains but the population continues to war, North against South.  Adella (also known as Ella) is a princess of the north, but as she matures she starts to view the world differently, especially differently from the way her mother, the Queen, views it.  This is a young adult novel and has all of the great elements of that genre: a young woman coming into herself as she navigates the world, forbidden love, contentious family relationships, and a journey of discovery.

              The Wise Ones is the first book in a planned trilogy, so there is much more of Ella's story to come.  The first book ends with a cliffhanger wherein Ella has to make a rather momentous decision that will affect many more people than just herself.

              • Young Adult
              • Dystopian
              • Post-Apocalyptic
              • Romance

              What I loved:
              • The evolution of Ella as she learns more about the world, the war, herself, and her family.
              • That Ella is willing to sacrifice the comfort and sheltered-ness of her royal life to pursue what she believes to be the right course of action.
              • That there is more story to come!  I am eager to find out what happens next and what choices Ella will make.
              Who should read The Wise Ones?
              • Fans of dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic stories.
              • Fans of Young Adult novels.
              • Fans of stories featuring strong but human young women as the main character.
              • “Hatred had both united and divided what was left of humanity.”
              • “When she was very young, before she was a princess, she’d believed that princesses held power. Now she knew better. Queens had power.”

              Where you can find Rebecca online:
              Instagram: @rmastonwrites

              Author Bio:
              I am an adventure specialist and an expert dreamer. I am self-diagnosed with an incurable sense of wanderlust. I love to read, make art, travel and ride my bike. Since I was a child it's been my dream to become a published author. I currently live in Long Beach, California.  If you are seeking adventure, please join me by reading my first novel in a 3 part series: The Wise Ones.

              Feel free to contact me anytime! I would love to hear from readers and book lovers alike or just discuss Game of Thrones fan theories.
              For the interview with Rebecca on the GSMC Book Review Podcast please click here.

              Sunday, December 3, 2017

              Sunday Rewind - Jason Pellegrini, Author of Booth

              A friend mentioned Jason Pellegrini to me one day as someone I should consider interviewing for the podcast.  By coincidence, that same week Jason contacted me before I could contact him, and we were able to schedule a time to talk about his novel, Booth.

              Jason already had one novel out, The Replacement, and had recently released Booth.  I started doing a little reading about his first novel and learned that it was a thriller and described as fairly graphic, so I was a bit nervous about reading Booth (you'll know if you're a regular listener/reader that I'm kind of wimpy when it comes to scary or gory books.  It turns out, though, that Jason doesn't like to write in the same genre every time and Booth was quite a different book from his first one.

              At dawn, on the day of his execution, Joseph Bateman finds himself reflecting on his life, one filled with poor decisions and evil people. Even his lifelong best friend played a pivotal role in earning Joseph his seat on death row.
              A phenomenon occurs as the electricity meant to kill Joseph is sent through him, and his essence is ripped from the body he has known his entire life and thrown into a new one. Only the body he now inhabits isn't new at all; it is the body of a person who lived over a hundred years before Joseph's birth.
              Now living in an unfamiliar era of history and trapped inside a foreign body, Joseph learns he has been sent back for a reason: to earn redemption for his damned soul and to find a sense of peace he has never known. All he needs to do to get there is to prevent one of history's most infamous murders. (Source)

              For the first part of the novel the story seems to be a pretty basic character examination of Joseph and his possibility for redemption.  At the time of his execution, though, when Joseph  is sent back in time, the story takes a definite turn.  It's still about redemption, but not in the way I originally thought when I began reading.  The story is compelling and keeps you reading to find out how things are going to work out.  It's not graphic or gory, but it does deal with some very dark issues such as racism, murder, and domestic violence, so you should definitely be aware of these themes before starting to read if you are sensitive to those subjects or they might be a trigger.

              • Time Travel
              • Historical Fiction
              • Science Fiction

              What I loved:
              • The unexpected turns the story takes throughout.
              • The evolution of Joseph as he navigates his story and fate.  This evolution is complicated and not easy, but it is compelling.
              • The elements of time travel and historical fiction.
              Who should read Booth?
              • Fans of science fiction, especially time travel.
              • Fans of historical fiction.
              • Fans of novels with darker, more complicated elements and characters.
              • "One hour was all that remained in the life of Joseph William Bateman.  Sixty short minutes--thirty-six hundred seconds--counting down until his heart beat no longer."
              • "'You can't let hate get to you, son.  Because if it does, it will destroy the person you really are, and replace you with a stranger you'll hate.'" -Leonard Hershel

              Where you can find Jason online:

              Author Bio:
              Jason Pellegrini is a Long Island native. He currently resides in Levittown, New York. His works include The Replacement and Booth. (Source)

              For the full conversation with Jason please click here.