Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Disconnected by Travon Toussiant

On Episode 117 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I spoke with Travon Toussiant about his new YA SciFi novella, Disconnected. The story is dystopian and takes place in an alternate Chicago where technology has been banned from development and use by private citizens; all technology is controlled and monitored by the government.

Born to shape the world with a finesse never seen, Fabian Goldsmith took up the task of liberating his state from the claws of the evil TomPowwel government. In the course of his journey towards breaking the shackles of political and technological oppression of his people, he meets the no-nonsense Joanna Stuart, the daughter of the missing STFA vice president. She reminds him so much of Margaret Thatcher, but he is determined to win her heart and conquer the terrible government at the same time.
Too busy with the search for her dad, Joanna's love life is a mess as she rarely has time for a date, nor the time for love. This takes a twist when she looks into Fabian's eye and honours his request to see her. Her attraction to him is unexpected and she tries to avoid him as much as possible. Little does she know she would get more than she bargained for in her adventure with him. (Source)
Genres:
  • Young Adult
  • Science Fiction
  • Dystopian
  • Romance
What I enjoyed:
  • The setting and how Chicago is clearly a place close to Travon's heart.
  • The idea behind the story and the way that Joanna's and Fabian's backstories fit into that story.
Quote:
  • "Chicago was once known as a center of science, technology, and innovations in the US and the entire world. The popular steel-framed skyscraper was born here in this beautiful city, as was the zipper, the automatic dishwasher, and the popular Ferris Wheel. The first ever man made nuclear reaction took place at our University here in Chicago. It was also considered as the most influential city in terms of architectural creations of the twentieth century. What ruins the city is now, Joanna said aloud to her empty room."
Where you can find Travon online:
Author Bio:

Travon is a #1 Amazon Bestselling young teenage author of You Wanna Play Trilogy. He was born September 25, 2001, in Chicago, IL at Saint Joseph Hospital. The Unexpected is his first book he has ever written. He lives in Chicago, IL and has written short stories: The Women Who Thought Her Life Was Perfect, and Before It's Too Late. Travon has earned many medals in sports and honor roll certificates in school, he has graduated from John B. Murphy Elementary School. Travon was inspired by his grandmother Stella saying "Travon you should write a book." It gave him the idea to go for it. Travon gone through so many tragic scenes in his life that pushed him more to achieve. Up until now, his life has been looking very pleasant for him. (Source)
Would you like to win a copy of Disconnected? It's easy! Just go to one of our social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on Episode 117: Interview with Travon Toussiant. It's that simple: just comment on this episode and you will automatically be entered to win a copy of Disconnected! You can enter the giveaway through October 21 and winners will be announced October 22. US only. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

I've said it before but I'll say it another million times: I love interviewing authors! On Episode 115 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I chatted with Sonia Faruqi about her new book The Oyster Thief.


Coralline is a mermaid who is engaged to the merman of her dreams. But when an oil spill wreaks havoc on her idyllic village life, her little brother falls gravely ill. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir made of starlight.
Izar, a human man, is on the cusp of an invention that will enable him to mine gold and diamonds from the depths of the ocean. His discovery will soon make him the richest man on earth—while threatening merpeople with extinction. But then, suddenly, Izar finds himself transformed into a merman and caught in a web of betrayal and intrigue. Meeting Coralline in the ocean, he decides to join her on her quest for the elixir, hoping it will turn him human again.
The quest pushes Coralline and Izar together, even though their worlds are at odds. Their pasts threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline leave her fiancĂ© for a man who might betray her? And Izar has a dark secret of his own—one that could cause him to lose Coralline forever. (Source)
Genres:
  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Romance
  • Adventure 

What I enjoyed:

  • I loved that it was a mixture of genres. The above water world had elements of science fiction while the under water world was fantasy. There was adventure, humor, and romance. In addition there is a strong theme of ocean conservation which flows seamlessly throughout the story, never feeling overbearing or heavy handed.
  • Sonia created a beautiful, intricate and extremely well thought-out underwater world. Every time I started to wonder how something could work underwater, my question would be answered by some aspect of the story.
  • The story is multi-layered and connected. I really liked how well Sonia tied the elements and characters together.
Quotes:
  • "'Humans are a menace,' Trochid said. 'Our only solace is that they cannot disrupt our lives any more than they already do.'
    'Why not?' Coralline asked.
    'Because they're fire, and we're water. Fire vaporizes water, and water vanquishes fire.'"
  • "'You think that by doing what other healers have done, you will become as good as them. But success is an outcome not an imitation but of authenticity - of not abiding by the rules but changing them. The questions are more important the answers.'"
  • She shivered uncontrollably, feeling as vulnerable as a turtle without a shell. She considered the ocean itself a shell - like a roof over the head, it formed a dense layer of protection, as well as separation, from humans."
Where you can find Sonia online:
Author Bio:

Sonia pushes the boundaries of imagination in her debut novel The Oyster Thief, an underwater odyssey. She is also the author of critically acclaimed Project Animal Farm, about the world’s food system. A skilled storyteller and speaker, she lives in Toronto, Canada. (Source)
Would you like to win a copy of The Oyster Thief? It's easy! Just go to one of our social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on Episode 115: Interview with Sonia Faruqi. It's that simple: just comment on this episode and you will automatically be entered to win a copy of The Oyster Thief! You can enter the giveaway through October 14 and winners will be announced October 15. US only.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

River of Secrets by Roger Johns

Episode 111 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast has me sitting down for another author interview. This time I spoke with Roger Johns about River of Secrets, the second book in the Wallace Hartman Mysteries.

Herbert Marioneaux, a Louisiana politician infamous for changing his mind on hot-button issues, has been murdered and his body posed to send a message. Baton Rouge homicide detective Wallace Hartman has to figure out who’s sending that message. DNA points to Eddie Pitkin, a social justice activist who also happens to be the half-brother of Wallace’s childhood best friend. But even with the combative history between Pitkin and Marioneaux, murder seems out of character for Pitkin, whose usual MO is to confront the wealthy and powerful with their inconvenient past. As Wallace digs deeper, she unearths a possible alibi witness, along with evidence of a deeply troubled relationship that points the finger of suspicion at Marioneaux’s son.
While Eddie’s supporters are convinced of his innocence, his enemies are equally certain of his guilt. Under pressure from all directions, Wallace pursues her investigation into the dark heart of the political establishment as Baton Rouge falls under the shadow of escalating violence. When it appears a police department insider may be sabotaging her efforts by leaking information about the case, and after menacing messages are left for her and her loved ones, Wallace is forced to untangle a trail of old and disturbing secrets unaided by those she most needs to trust. (Source)
 I really enjoyed this book. It's suspenseful, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me trying to figure things out throughout the story. Wallace is a main character it is easy to root for, and I look forward to more books with her to see where her story continues to take her. The book has moments that are uncomfortable because they are so true to life with the current situation of polarity in our country. While those scenes were difficult to read at times because of the accuracy, they add a level of depth and authenticity to the story and it's location.

Genres:
  • Mystyery
  • Suspense/Thriller
What I enjoyed:
  • Roger describes Wallace as a woman who is on "the cusp of middle age." As a woman of similar description, I appreciate seeing a smart. likeable, very human main character of this demographic represented.
  • All of the twists and turns. As the case evolves there continue to be developments that can either potentially exonerate or convict the main suspect. Things are never easy and as I said in the interview, I'm really glad I'm not an investigator who has to wade through all of that type of confusing evidence.
  • Wallace's development throughout the story. She has some complicated issues in her life and her past and she is working on coming to terms with them. Even as she makes progress there are circumstances that make those issues even more complicated. I am intrigued to see where she goes throughout the series.
Quotes:
  • "Colley Greenberg, her mentor when she became a detective, had taught her how to do this. Study everything you see. Hold the scene in your mind's eye, and then try to run the tape backward. Some of their colleagues laughed it off as voodoo lessons, but it worked. More than once, it had shown that possibilities that at first seemed attractive were, in fact, remote or impossible, or vice versa."
  • "'Never as a chronic malcontent what would make them happy,' Carol told her. 'It'll always be something that can't be delivered and that will always be your fault.'"
  • "'Wallace, you know the secret code of the political class in Louisiana. Don't say it if you can nod it. Don't not it if you can wink it.'"
Where you can find Roger online:
Facebook: Roger Johns
Twitter: @RogerJohns10
Amazon Author Page: Roger Johns
GoodReads: Roger Johns

Author Bio:
Roger Johns is a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor with law degrees from Louisiana State University and Boston University. During his nearly two decades as a professor, he served on the editorial staffs of several academic publications and he won numerous awards and recognitions for his teaching and his scholarly writing. Roger was born and raised in Louisiana. He and his wife Julie now live in Georgia. (Source)
Are you a fan of mysteries? Want to know more about Wallace Hartman? You should definitely enter our giveaway! Entering is easy: Just go to our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page and comment on Episode 111: Interview with Roger Johns. That's it! Commenting will automatically enter you to win a copy of River of Secrets. The giveaway is open until September 30, and winners will be announced on October 1. US only. 

To hear the interview with Roger, please click here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sunset in Laguna by Claire Marti

On Episode 107 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I welcomed Claire Marti back to the podcast. Claire originally joined me back in April on Episode 72 to talk about the second book in her Finding Forever in Laguna series, At Last in Laguna. For this episode we spoke about the final book in that trilogy, Sunset in Laguna.

Returning to Laguna Beach after four tours in the Middle East, Christian Wolfe leaves the military behind and buys a wine bar, vowing to keep his life simple. He fights to keep his devastating PTSD a secret and refuses to burden anyone else with his baggage. When stunning Kelly Prescott and her red stilettos saunter into town, she drives him past the bonds of his self-control.
Successful in her father’s stuffy law firm, Kelly’s too compassionate to survive in the cutthroat world of corporate litigation. Leaving behind both family and courtroom drama, she moves to Laguna to become general counsel for a nonprofit veterans’ organization.
She didn’t bargain on a gorgeous modern-day Heathcliff, and in Christian, she sees another kind of challenge—one she can’t resist. (Source)
This is the third book in a trilogy, but each of the three can easily be read as a standalone novel. If you prefer to read series, though, then this one is great in how all six of the characters appear in each of the three books, but each couple gets their own story. Kelly and Christian each bring issues from their past into the relationship in this installment, and both have to figure out if they can resolve those issues in ways that will allow them to move forward with that relationship.

Genre:
  • Contemporary Romance
What I enjoyed:
  • How Claire brought in veteran's issues, especially PTSD. She is able to shine a light on what many vets experience when they return home while making it a natural part of the story and Christian's character.
  • How both Christian and Kelly have issues from their past to confront and find a way to deal with. We all bring our pasts with us into relationships, so I appreciated how the two of them worked, both individually and together, to find ways to not forget those pasts but learn to live with them so they wouldn't affect their futures.
  • Olive the pug. Olive is a service dog who basically adopts Christian. She's goofy looking (people keep calling her a rat, poor thing), but she's totally besotted with Christian as well as fiercely loyal and incredibly good at helping him with some of his PTS issues.
  • The meditation scene. It's hilarious, and reminded me so much of my own brain when I have tried to meditate.
Quotes:
  • "'Nope. I'm trying something new.' And am hoping it wills solve every single excruciating headache, bone-chilling, sweat-inducing nightmare, and overall sense of survivor's guilt. No pressure, though."
  • "She almost drooled over his immaculate kitchen. Could it actually be as organized as her own? Why was it sexy?"
  • "She was short, plump, dressed in a navy sweater set and plaid skirt. Jesus, she looked like Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote. This was the doctor they'd sent him to?"

Where you can find Claire online:
Instagram: @clairepmarti
Amazon Author Page: Claire Marti
GoodReads: Claire Marti

Author Bio:

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Her award winning debut novel, Second Chance in Laguna, won best unpublished contemporary romance in the Heart of the Molly and third place in the Maggie. Second Chance in Laguna is available now in print, ebook and audiobook at all major retailers.
When Claire's not writing, she's teaching yoga. You can find her teaching at studios in sunny San Diego or enjoy forty-three online classes on the international website www.yogadownload.com. A breast cancer survivor, Claire is a sought-after speaker on the power of yoga and meditation for cancer. She's been published in numerous magazines with articles on wellness and is the author of a memoir on her experience beating breast cancer.  
Claire is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the San Diego Romance Writers. (Source)
Love romance? Want to read Kelly's and Christian's story? Excellent! I have signed copies from Claire to give away! Just go  to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on Episode 107: Interview with Claire Marti. That's it! The giveaway goes through September 16 and winners will be announced September 17. US only.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dr. Brainchild and Radar: A Popcorn Discovery by Cole W. Williams

Episode 105 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast has me chatting with Cole W. Williams about her new children's picture book Dr. Brainchild and Radar: A Popcorn Discovery. The book tells the story of how the microwave was invented. The details of the invention are true, but rather than using Percy Spencer (the inventor)  as the main character, Cole instead created Dr. Brainchild, who invents the microwave with trusty lab assistant Radar.

Kids of all ages will be inspired to explore and create by "Dr. Brainchild & Radar: A Popcorn Discovery" Join the fun as Dr. Brainchild and Radar discover how a little bit of creativity, some wacky inventions, and a whole lotta science can transform the ordinary into something EXTRA tasty! Boy, girl, wolf, or anything in-between--it doesn't matter so long as YOU are there! Science is for everyone, so come along and enjoy the ride! (Source)

This book is so much fun. It's for readers aged 6-9, but heck I'm definitely out of that age range and I loved it. I also learned how the microwave was invented, which is something I'd never really thought of before. I think readers of most ages will enjoy the story.
Genres:
  • Children's Book
  • Picture Book
  • Science

What I enjoyed:
  • Dr. Brainchild is gender neutral, never referred to by specific pronoun. I love that each person reading the book can picture themselves as Dr. Brainchild because the character isn't automatically a male or a female.
  • That the book makes science accessible. There are some big words and concepts in this book, but it's easy to follow and those bigger ideas are presented in such a way as to encourage learning and growth.
  • I learned how the microwave was invented! And that the first one was HUGE. Not something you'd have in your average kitchen.

Quotes:
  • "Day after day the pair toiled over a machine of great power--the Magnetron. Dr. Brainchild sang to the machine while they worked, 'Polka dots and chicken and cheese, gorillas and gravy and do as you please...'"
  • "Dr. Brainchild did cartwheels at the thought of a new experiment, and tap danced all the way into town."

Where you can find Cole online:
Facebook: @ColeWWilliams
Twitter: @ColeWWilliams
Instagram: colewwilliams
GoodReads: Cole W. Williams


Author Bio:

Cole W. Williams is an author, poet, river enthusiast and biologist. (Source)
Have a budding scientist in your life? Want to read Dr. Brainchild and Radar: A Popcorn Adventure before its release date of September 30? Excellent news! You can enter to win a copy of this delightful book, and entering is easy! Just go  to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on Episode 105: Interview with Cole W. Williams. That's it! The giveaway goes through September 9 and winners will be announced September 10. US only.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Revenge Comes Calling and Isle of Deceit by R.J. Rosatte

Two episodes this week! On Tuesday's episode (102) of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I interviewed J.D. Sanderson about his debut novel, A Footstep Echo. On today's episode (103) I was happy to welcome R.J. Rosatte back to the podcast to talk about his two follow-up Katie and Malone novellas. If you recall, R.J.'s first interview was in April as part of the collection of authors who wrote novellas for the Tawnee Mountain Mystery series. In his contribution, Dark Side of the Mountain, we were introduced to Katie Douglas and Casey Malone. Katie and Casey survived the adventures they encountered in that story, but little did they know that was only the beginning.

Katie Douglas and Casey Malone first met at the Tawnee Mountain Resort, she an inspecting engineer, he a relaxing mystery novelist. Together they discovered a kidnapping plot on the mountain. As they tried to unravel the mystery, they uncovered a plot to bomb the high society wedding of the Wittenaur family being held at the resort. An imprisoned Mafia Don vowed revenge on Robert Wittenaur, the former DA that sent him to prison for life and had set in motion the plot to murder the entire family and guests at the wedding. After thwarting both of these plots in an explosive climax to the story, Katie and Casey went their separate ways, promising to get together again.
Now, Katie is on her way to spend what she hopes will be a romantic weekend at Casey’s mountain-top retreat in Virginia. Before their evening even begins, the long reach of the mob interrupts their solitude promising that no good deed will go unpunished. Vowing to get even for the couple’s interference at the Tawnee Mountain Resort, the perpetrators of both plots take aim at Katie and Casey. As they dodge Mafia hitmen with the aid of a mysterious caller, Katie and Casey fight for their lives when Revenge Comes Calling. (Source)
Katie Douglas and Casey Malone, having survived revenge attacks from the Mafia and a scheming financier, are rewarded for thwarting plots aimed at guests of the famed Tawnee Mountain Resort. Billionaire owner Raymond Elliot has sent them on an all-expense-paid, month-long vacation to his private-island retreat in the Bahamas. But the couple, who are just beginning to enjoy their budding romance, finds it hard to relax in the tropical paradise when bodies keep washing up on the shore. Even more perplexing, the islanders won’t talk about the strange goings-on that Katie and Casey encounter.
When they discover that the supervisor of the work crew assigned to build a private airstrip on the island has secret activities that he is willing to do anything to hide, they find themselves targets once more. They seek to solve the mysterious deaths and get to the bottom of who Jake Peters really is and why this beautiful piece of heaven has become an Isle of Deceit. (Source)
Since these are novella length, R.J. is able to pack a lot of action into a fairly short amount of reading time. Katie and Casey go through quite a bit in these two stories, and yet they managed to maintain senses of humor throughout, while also getting to know each other better. You could definitely say they have an odd dating history.

Genres:
  • Mystery
  • Thriller/Suspense
  • Romance

What I enjoyed:
  • The fast-paced nature of both books. They are both quick reads, and the level of action keeps the reader flipping pages. These would be great vacation or weekend reads when you are looking for something quick and entertaining.
  • Katie is a kick-butt character. First of all, she's an engineer twice over, so she's smart and capable. She's also independent and perfectly capable of defending herself in a physical manner.
  • Casey is just as capable, although not quite as physical, but he is also perfectly fine with Katie being the butt-kicker of the relationship.
  • Watching the relationship between these two characters evolve through the stories. There are more novellas to come, so more developments in their relationship. They don't have a lot of time between murders and mysteries to solve, but they're doing pretty well figuring out the relationship stuff.

Quotes:
  • "'I don't know what I'm trying to say. It's just...I like being around you, being with you, even if we get shot at occasionally, and...you know.'" -Casey in Revenge Comes Calling
  • "'Just what I always wanted to do,' she replied. 'Get shot at, run people off the road and dodge Mafia hitmen. Plus make deals with alleged kidnappers, who, by the way, probably won't keep their end of the bargain.'" - Katie in Revenge Comes Calling
  • "'Good title for  yoru next book, Malone,' Katie said as they followed along. 'Expect the Unexpected!' Casey laughed. 'That's the headline for this entire holiday.'" -Isle of Deceit

Where to find R.J. Online:

Author Bio:
A native of Prince Edward County, Ontario, his careers have included being an infantry officer in the Canadian Army Reserves, economics teacher at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario, a long-haul truck driver and businessman.
He has travelled all forty-eight lower US states, eight Canadian provinces, Italy, Mexico and most of the Caribbean. He currently resides in Bayside, Quinte West, Ontario with his wife, Wendy, and their Westie, Molly. (Source)
To hear today's interview with R.J., please click here.
To hear his first interview, please click here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Footstep Echo by J.D. Sanderson

On Episode 101 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I chatted with J.D. Sanderson about his debut novel A Footstep Echo. I mention in the episode that I haven't always been a fan of reading science fiction even though I've always loved watching it. One more reason for me to love hosting this podcast is that it's giving me the opportunity to read books I might not otherwise. A Footstep Echo is another example of that, and I'm so glad I read it!


Who is the Mystery Girl? Bernard Abbey’s life was routine, stagnant, and lonely. That all changed the day she entered his life. To save him from being killed, a mysterious young woman transports Bernard to another point in time. As he comes to grips with what has happened, Bernard realizes his new friend is unable to speak. She cannot tell him who she is, where she came from, or how she can travel through time. Even worse, she’s unable to tell him what is chasing her. As she takes him back and forth in time, they cross paths with strangers who claim to know his new friend, each with a different story of her origin. The only thing he knows for certain is that the fate of humanity’s idyllic future is somehow connected with his new companion. (Source)
So, it's both Science Fiction AND time travel. Two things I really enjoy (even though I can easily get bogged down in the details and confuse myself...especially with time travel). What you don't get from the description is that Bernard is not your typical science fiction main character. J.D. doesn't specify his age, but Bernard is retired and not exactly a spring chicken. That doesn't stop him from embarking on quite the adventure with Mystery Girl. For the record, we do learn Mystery Girl's identity, but you'll have to read the book to find out what it is.

Genres:
  • Science Fiction
  • Time Travel

What I enjoyed:
  •  Bernard and the fact that he is an unconventional main character. There are no shortage of somewhat curmudgeonly older gentlemen in literature, but they are often secondary characters. If they are the main character they don't often get to do much that is adventuresome.
  • The storyline of Maverick the dog. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but it made me happy.
  • Bernard is retired and works part time at the local library. Another character, Ruth, also works at the library. I have a soft spot in my heart for both libraries and librarians, so of course I love it when they show up in whatever I'm reading.
  • The time travel, and even the science fiction! I didn't feel bogged down by the details or trying to understand the technical details. I let it inform the story without driving myself crazy trying to determine if it was plausible or not. If you want the answer to that question, you will need a different podcaster.

Quotes:
  • "'How does it work?' Bernard asked. 'I mean, I don't see anyone getting into spaceships, putting on helmets, or flying in little blue boxes.'"
  • "The biggest problem with time travel was that it was entirely possible for someone to use information from your future to alter your past."
  • "As wondrous as the future was, it was humanity's oldest prejudices that had led to one of its biggest conflicts."

Where you can find J.D. online:
Twitter: @ascifiwriter
Amazon Author Page: J.D. Sanderson
Goodreads: J.D. Sanderson

Author Bio:
J.D. Sanderson lives with his wife, daughter, and mini poodle in South Dakota. A lifelong fan of science fiction, J.D. has been writing professionally in one form or another for seven years. When he's not writing, you'll find him enjoying his favorite sci-fi movies and shows with his family or walking his dog. (Source)

Are you a fan of sci fi and time travel? Want to read Bernard's story and find out what happens to Mystery Girl? Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a copy of A Footstep Echo by J.D. Sanderson! Entering is easy: go to one of our social media pages and comment on the post for this episode (Episode 101). That's it! Just go  to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on the post for Episode 101: Interview with J.D. Sanderson! You have until September 1 to enter, and winners will be announced on September 3. Good luck!
To hear the interview with J.D. please click here.