Friday, August 31, 2012

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Cinderella Project, by Stan Crowe

From Goodreads:
Committed to saving his marriage before it starts, doctoral student Nick Cairn embarks on a project aimed at finding the secrets of everlasting love. But when Moire DeLanthe, a smart and sassy research assistant, enters the picture, his Happily Ever After is put to the ultimate test.


This was a quick, light read.  I really enjoyed the story.  It is told from the viewpoint of a man, which I really liked because it isn't very common for a romance novel.  Nick, the main character is the perfect guy that any girl would love to have.  He is kind, honest, and sincere.  He wants to have a fairytale marriage where he and his wife love each other unconditionally for the rest of their lives.  

It quickly becomes obvious that Nick's fiancee does not share his dedication and commitment, but Nick is stubborn and refuses to give up on his marriage before it even starts.  The plot was predictable, but it contained enough humor and character development to keep me interested.  There were a few places where the dialogue got a little long, and I wish there had been something to break it up a bit.  
There were quite a few editing errors, and I am a huge stickler on those kinds of things.  Typos, words that were left out completely, using a character's name before they are introduced - the kinds of mistakes that should have been fixed.  There was a final edit done in between the time I read it and when it was released, so I imagine that most of those have been caught.

Other than my hang up about the typos, I really liked this book.  It was a very clean romance, and I love not having to worry about something questionable popping up in a book.  I would gladly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys light, clean romance novels.  

The Cover:  I'm not really fond of the cover.  While the model looks like Nick, the main character, I don't think that the cover represents the story very well.  It almost looks like a non-fiction/self-help type of book.  In this case, the story is definitely better than the cover.   

Paperback, 250 pages
Expected publication: August 30th 2012 by Breezy Reads 

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Blog Tour: The Immortality Virus by Christine Amsden


In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren't talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the ever-increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.

Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change -- if he's still alive. To complicate matters, Grace's employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice -- help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace's true mission, they won't hesitate to kill her in order to preserve their shot at immortality.


This book sort of threw me for a loop. I really expected something different from what I got. Mainly, I think, because the cover confused me. I was always waiting for Grace to find the secret of immortality was locked in the genetic code of a young woman and she had to try to save her from, I dunno, bad guys. It wasn't until after I finished the book and took another look at the cover that I recognized what was going on. (And I'm going to be a bit nit-picky here and say the colors of the guns' rays in the book were yellow for stun and red for kill. I don't recall seeing a blue. Even in this particular fight scene.)

There were parts of the story I thought should have been developed a little more. There were other things that took a little bit more of the story than I thought necessary. However, I think those were just personal preferences. 

I thought Grace was a great protagonist. She was tough and hardened, and yet sensitive and caring when appropriate. She even lamented things that she had to care about, like she couldn't help caring and couldn't stop herself from doing it. More than anything, I thought she was realistic. There were a few mentions of her being beautiful, and she definitely had quite a following of interested parties, but I had a hard time picturing her in my head, which made her a little harder to identify with. I thought the author did a great job making it so that Grace went through some really traumatic stuff; at the time she acted like it was no big deal, but it comes back and haunts her later. I thought that was a great detail.

Alex was a bit of an enigma at first. He was definitely likeable...or was he? In the end I think his character could have used just a bit more development. He was fine, but I think I just wanted more from the leading man that I'm supposed to fall in love with - or at least believe Grace would fall in love with.

The story was exciting. I'm not usually a mystery fan because I get lost in the details. This one had lots of action, and yes it was confusing at times, but it was definitely interesting. I thought the author handled the idea of immortality in a very interesting way. If we all lived forever, there would be massive over-population problems. I also thought it was great how the author showed the passage of time was no big deal for a person who could potentially live forever. Grace worked in the police station mail room for thirty years. Thirty years?! Yeah, well, it's not like she really needed to hurry up and get a promotion.

I really enjoyed the way the author explained certain technology aspects without really explaining them. I didn't feel like I was reading a textbook, but I wasn't lost trying to figure out what a holoset was. There was so much double-crossing that I lost track of who was supposed to be enemies with whom, so that was hard.

The end was a bit jarring, as far as it was left wide open for a sequel and subsequent installments. I'd be interested to find out what happens next but I admit I walked away feeling a little hungry for some closure.

All in all, this wasn't what I expected. It wasn't better, it wasn't worse. It was good. Definitely worth reading for those who enjoy a bit of science fiction and mystery.

Content advisory: semi-heavy language (a lot of instances of mild language, one use of heavy language). Lots of action violence and death, though very little gore. A bit of clean romance; mostly just a growing attraction between two characters.

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“Check him for an ID chip,” McMillan said.

Grace checked both wrists, but didn’t find the tiny metal button that acted both as tag and as a neutral interface for portables. She also did not see any sign that such a chip had been ripped out of his skin by the same people who had stolen his clothing. This man had probably been born on the streets. “Nothing.”

“Good,” McMillan said. He subvocalized an instruction to his portable. It must have opened up a com link because a moment later he said, “Send a cleanup crew to my location beacon…no ID…10-4.”

McMillan turned to Grace. “All right, let’s go.”

“W-wait! Shouldn’t we find out what happened here? Someone murdered this man.”
McMillan actually laughed, a sound that infuriated Grace. He caught a glimpse of her face and the laughter died immediately. “Just like me. I bet I said all the same things my first day. It ain’t fair, is it?”

“So you’re just going to accept it? Accept a man being murdered in the middle of a crowd of witnesses? You’re going to accept not knowing his identity and not letting his family know he’s dead?”

“The cleanup crew will take fingerprints,” McMillan said. “The census gets almost everyone’s fingerprints. If they come up with a contact, they’ll let them know.”

“And if not?” Grace asked.

“Then he’ll join the ranks of the nameless, faceless dead. C’mon, let’s go.”

Grace didn’t move.

“Look, before the day’s out we’ll handle a dozen more like this. We don’t have time to ask questions or take statements. We don’t have time to properly examine the body or the area for clues – most of which have been taken away by other unfortunates.”

It took her a moment to find her voice. When she did, her words dripped out like acid. “Would we have had time if he’d had an ID bracelet?”

We would not have. We’d have called in the homicide team and they’d decide. Get in the car.”

This time, Grace complied, but she sat in stony silence as McMillan lifted off and began circling the area anew.

“It helps if you don’t think of them as human,” McMillan said after a while. “More than one officer has called this job pest control.”"

About the Author:

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

When she's not writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing, usually at Savvy Authors. She also offers professional editing services. She maintains a book review blog on her website with occasional writing tips thrown in for the fun of it.

Christine lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two children.


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?





 This is one of the most beautiful stories I have read in a long time.  The writing was delicious and lyrical.  The story was captivating and I could not put the book down.  I honestly carried it around with me and would read it anytime I had a spare minute or two.  I even kept it in the kitchen with me while I made dinner so that I could read in between stirrings.  I devoured this 549 page book in 2 days. 

Ismae is a fantastic heroine.  I loved her from beginning to end.  The beginning of the book establishes her dismal plight in life.  Her abusive father has sold her into an equally abusive marriage at the age of fourteen.  She escapes her husband and finds a new life at a convent that promises to train her as an assassin.  Essentially, this is a female, medieval Jason Bourne.

As one of Death's daughters, Ismae learns to serve as His handmaiden.  At seventeen, she is sent out on her first couple of assignments.  I found this portion of the book to be a little too crude and dark for my taste.  I had trouble sleeping after reading about her poisoning and strangling two different men.  But the assassinations slow down after this because she is given a third assignment.  She is to pose as mistress to the half brother of the duchess to gain intelligence surrounding the problems at court.

As Ismae moves through the story, she grows into herself.  She comes to understand so much more about who she is and what Death expects of her.  And it isn't necessarily the same as what the convent expects of her.  She starts out as a bloodthirsty and eager novice, ready to jump at any opportunity to prove her worth as an assassin.  By the end of the book, she has learned how to use her gifts, and learns that she is more than just a tool to be used by her misguided convent.

My favorite part of this book was near the end, when she meets Death face to face.  He approaches her, names her his daughter, and kisses her brow.  He shows her that He loves her unconditionally, and that He knows the true desires of her heart - to serve Him completely.

I just loved, loved, loved this book.  It was beautiful.

The only downside to the story was that I felt it got unnecessarily crude in places.  For example, Ismae's love interest Duval, is dying from poison, and the only way for her to save him is to "lay" with him.  There are no details, but it still bothered me. 

Duval is, of course, the perfect hero for Ismae to fall for.  I don't know how believable it is for him to fall in love with an assassin, but I still enjoyed the love story.

The cover of the book is gorgeous.  I love it.  Books don't always measure up to their covers, but this one definitely does.  I really hope someone makes this book into a movie.

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
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