Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

February 2019 Book of the Month Selection

Early Riser is a fascinating take on human history and human interactions.  In this wonderfully imaginative novel, Jasper Fforde asks the question, what if the human race hibernated?  What if the world went through an intense cold spell for four months every year and the only way to survive is to be like your favorite bear-fatten up, sleep well, and conserve as much energy as possible.  But we’re humans and humans can monetize every aspect of our lives, including basic survival. Finding sufficient food and shelter can be expensive and when it was discovered that dreams can be physically draining, medications to halt dreams lead to a new way to find cheap labor and create a new type of class division in society.

Charles Worthing is working his first winter with Winter Consuls, a group that is responsible for making sure humans survive safely through the harsh winter.  Approaching winter unprepared can cause humans to become nightwalkers-humans that are breathing but with simple minds and a craving for human flesh. Nightwalkers can then be farmed out on the black market for replacement body parts and to be used as breeding stock for future generations.  

This book can really dark yet be incredibly funny all at the same time. It’s a wonderfully bizarre book.

When Charles believes that he has uncovered some crooked agents within the Consul, his naive quest for justice leads him on a deadly adventure where those he can trust seem to change from minute to minute.  When an outbreak of viral dreams affects Charles, he begins to lose the ability to tell reality from dreaming.

This story is absolutely wild and I loved it.  The way that hibernation has shaped the world and changed humans was fascinating to read.  It was both hilarious and heartbreaking-reading about how easy it was for people to die during their hibernation and then Charles will wake up and brush out his bed bugs...I just can’t come up with a better description.  It’s wild. The writing is incredible and I really enjoyed all of the footnotes. Many of the footnotes were vital to the story and some were just plain silly-it was a great mix. Fforde does a wonderful job of including enough information about the world that I never felt like I didn’t understand what was going on but didn’t get so deep that you spent pages and pages in details.  Background was doled out in small doses as needed and it really helped with keeping the story flowing.

Wonderfully quirky and unique, Early Riser is a fantastic read and I highly recommend giving it a try.  

Interested in reading Early Riser?  My copy came from my Book of the Month subscription as the February 2019 pick.  I have written of my love for Book of the Month before here.  If you’re interested in starting a Book of the Month subscription, they have a special going on now and it really is an easy service to use.

Check out Book of the Month here.

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Only When I Sleep by E.V. Lind

Only When I Sleep by E.V. Lind

Available March 12, 2019


Big Time Content Warning:

There are several graphic scenes of rape and physical assault.  

I am a big fan of all things ghostly and spooky and this book has both of those elements.  Add in some missing persons, murder, and an abusive ex and you have the formula for a very intense read.  

Beth Campbell has seen a lot of tragedy in her life.  Her parents both passed away in a car accident while on their way to visit Beth at college.  After their death, Beth learns that their insurance money will barely cover her parent’s debts and expenses.  Left with very little money and hope, Beth leaves school and tries to get a fresh start waiting tables at a local diner.  When she meets a handsome police detective, Beth begins to believe that she has a chance at a happy future. But that happiness is short-lived when she discovers that her boyfriend is married to another woman and turns incredibly abusive.  Now pregnant and with nowhere to turn, Beth sets off to find a place to hide from Detective Dan Henderson and protect her unborn child.

While on the road, Beth meets Ryan and Mary-Ann Jones, locals to Riverbend, Oregon.  Mary-Ann won’t take no for an answer when she discovers Beth on the side of the road, wet and shivering.  Ryan, wounded from war and wary of everyone, immediately distrusts Beth and her intentions. But his mother Mary-Ann is determined to rescue Beth and hires her on at her cafe and puts her up in an empty house on the family farm.  But Beth’s new home is full of dark secrets and spirits that guide Beth through her dreams to the clues needed to solve a decades-old crime.

Even with her new home and anonymity in the small town, Beth is still wary of anyone finding out her true name and history.  But Beth will need to learn to trust Ryan in order to stay safe from her abusive ex.

This story is so well written and compelling that I finished it one sitting.  I was immediately caught up in Beth’s story and invested in her well-being. The abuse scenes are very intense and I spent the entire book hoping Dan came to an ugly and horrific ending.  

Spoiler Alert-




He does.  


Alongside Beth’s story is that of Lizzie and Aggie MacDonald.  The MacDonald family lived in the farmhouse during World War II and saw their own share of tragedy.  When their father walks out on the family when the girls are young, the two sisters are left with a bitter and abusive mother who justifies her cruelty as religious and moral discipline.  When Lizzie runs away after learning her lover was lost at war, Aggie’s mind seems to break from the loss. But her seemingly senseless ramblings reveal that she knows far more about her father and sister’s disappearances.  Is Lizzie’s ghost helping to guide Beth? Is Beth living through Lizzie’s pain? Unexplained events in the house leave Beth with far more questions than answers.

Beth has more than ghosts to deal with in Riverbend.  Ryan seems to be both suspicious and protective of Beth and his meddling mother is constantly putting the two together-against both of their wishes.  Their relationship is definitely not of the instalove variety-they both dislike each other immediately and neither one is interested in being in any type of relationship.  Ryan has the tragedy of losing his fellow soldiers to come to terms with and he has no time or patience for a pregnant woman who does not want to be his damsel in distress.  Their relationship is built very slowly through trust and a lot of patience on both of their parts.

A well written and compelling story full of ghosts and mysteries, Only When I Sleep, will be a great addition to your paranormal romance collection.  If you’re a Kindle Unlimited user, it’s free!

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  

Full Disclosure Time:  I received a free review copy from the author.  All opinions are, as always, my own.

Death’s Dancer by Jasmine Silvera

Death’s Dancer by Jasmine Silvera

Grace Bloods Book One

Paranormal Romance is one of my all-time favorite genres and this series is now in my top 5.  If the idea of using dance to communicate with gods, hot and sexy necromancers, and incredible writing pique your interest-this one's for you.

Isela Vogel dances for gods.  Through her carefully executed choreography, she is able to draw the attention of the gods and seek requests and favors such as good health and success in business deals for her patrons.  As one of the most successful dancers in the world, Isela is frequently requested by elite clients but when the most powerful necromancer wants her for a powerful spell, Isela’s life and that the lives of those around her is put in terrible danger.  

Azrael is one of the most powerful and feared necromancers and is determined to find the being that has been able to murder five necromancers.  To increase his power for a dangerous spell, Azrael needs Isela and her dancing in order to find the killer.

This book was so good friends!  The writing was incredible and I was immediately sucked into the story.  Isela is great-she’s incredibly smart and confidant and the way that she interacted with her friends and family was really fun to watch.  The dancers at the academy have a really tight knit friendship and it was really lovely to watch everyone care for each other and just genuinely enjoy the company of one another.  There are some big family secrets that come to light for Isela and it ended a really great layer to the story. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone but it’s a twist that includes one of my favorite paranormal elements.

The relationship between Isela and Azrael was a slow burn that ends with a smoking bed-literally!  There were some great conversations about consent, independance, and respect. Their relationship felt so real-real dialogue, real interactions, just real. Isela has no problem standing up for herself and making her opinions known and think we should go get drinks some time.

I really loved this book and as of this writing, it’s only $2.99 for Kindle!  You can’t pass that one up. Book two, Dancer’s Flame is also available now.

Want to learn more about the author?  You can find out more here.

If you want to get a copy for yourself, and help support this site, you can grab one here:

If you’ve read this book, drop your thoughts in the comments.  I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

Full Disclosure Time:  I received a free review copy of this book from the author.  All opinions are, as always, my own.





Seventh Grade Vs. The Galaxy by Joshua S. Levy

Available March 5, 2019 from Lerner Publishing Group

Jack is your typical seventh grader except that his school is anything but typical.  Jack attends PSS 118, a middle school that is currently orbiting Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter.  

That’s right-middle school in space!

What could possibly go wrong when you put several hundred middle school aged children on  a ship in space? Just the ship suddenly launching into light speed and being attacked by mysterious aliens who are intent on brainwashing all the students and placing them in prison.

Are all of the highly dedicated and highly trained teachers going to save the day? Of course not! This is a middle grade science fiction adventure-the kids are going to save the day!

Jack’s dad was the science teacher on board the ship until he was caught making modifications to the ship’s engines without permission.  With the ship under attack, Jack discovers that those engine modifications weren’t the only thing that Jack’s dad altered. He also gave Jack special access to the computers in case of emergency.  It’s with this new discovery, and the help of his amazing friends, that Jack will try to save his classmates and teachers from the evil Minister.

This book was a lot of fun-there’s tons of action, snarky attitude, friendship drama, and crabby lunch lady robots.  I found Jack to be a very relatable character. He has a mom who left the family, is being bullied at school because of a mistake his father made, and is trying to find his place in the world.  All of this stress has placed a strain on his friendships with Ari and Becka and their relationships are tested over and over.

There is a lot that goes on this book that will interest young readers.  There’s time travel, alien shopping malls, and even an alien arcade. I really enjoyed the crabby lunch lady robots and their constant complaints about working conditions.  

This was a great story.  If you have a young reader who would be interested in this title, you can get a copy here:


Full disclosure time:  I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley.  Thank you to Netgalley and Lerner Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review this title.




 
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Flatiron Books

The Night Tiger was my January pick from Book of the Month and I don’t think they could have picked a better book.  The Night Tiger takes us to early 1930’s Malay and the hospitals and cities that are home to both locals and wealthy, privileged British doctors.  Filled with magic, superstition, and mystery, The Night Tiger is a beautifully written book about finding our true selves.

Forbidden to attend medical school by her strict and abusive stepfather, Ji Lin is both unhappy and unfulfilled in her role as a dressmaker apprentice.  Secretly working on the side as a dance hall girl to pay off her mother’s gambling debts, Ji Lin walks a very careful line of propriety and morality. When a dance with a traveling salesman accidentally puts Ji Lin in the possession of a withered finger, it sets off a chain events that will affect everyone around her.  

Ren, a young houseboy working for a beloved doctor, finds himself on the task of recovering the finger that his master lost years ago in the jungle.  Believing that his master’s soul will not find peace if his body isn’t buried whole, Ren is on a strict deadline to find and return the finger to his master’s grave.  

As the deadline looms closer, the local area is hit with a series of unexpected deaths and fears of a man-eating tiger grow with each death.  

This was such a wonderful story of how two young people are struggling to find their places in the world.  Ji Lin is such a smart and brave young woman who just wants to be treated as an equal and go to school instead of only thinking of becoming someone’s wife.  Ren is very bright with all the natural skills of a doctor but will only attend school if he can find someone generous enough to do so. His bravery during the search for his master’s missing finger is tested not only in this world, but in the space between worlds when his grief for his deceased brother brings him to the brink of the afterlife over and over again.  

The Night Tiger is full of magic and mystical elements.  The significance of names and numbers plays a major role in many of the decisions made by the characters.  Ji Lin is able to communicate with Ren through her dreams just like Ren communicates with his deceased brother.  The belief that men can be weretigers leads to some very shady dealings at the hospital where Shinn works and many believe it is a weretiger that is killing in the district.  Even one of the British doctors has suspicions that his luck is a little too good to be true.

The mystery surrounding the suspicious deaths was very well done-I definitely didn’t see that twist when it came.  

I found this book to be beautifully written, completely engrossing, and an absolutely magical read.  If you like a copy of this book, and would like to help support the site, you can find one here:

 





The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin

If you like comics, drag queens, costume design, solving cold crimes, and sharp, witty dialogue-check out The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin.  I picked this up as an Amazon First Reads and I had so much fun reading the adventures of MG and her colorful cast of friends. MG, short for Michael-Grace, is a comic book writer and fashion designer.  Working in a male dominated field has it’s stressors but MG is tough, confident, and knows what she wants for her future. When MG meets Detective Matteo Kildaire during her morning coffee run, her life is about turned upside down and sideways.  Now, she has to help Matteo solve a case that’s imitating her favorite comic book and may also include the mysterious pasts of some of her closest friends.

The Frame-Up is fast-paced and full of geeky references.  When MG comes across multiple pieces of evidence that implicate her friends and co-workers, she struggles with where her loyalties lie.  The crimes that were committed by our comic book imitator all happen off the page so if you find murder mysteries too much-this one might be more palatable for you.  

MG is such a great character-she knows exactly who she is and what she wants in life.  She has no problem living her “nerd girl” lifestyle: comic book creating and writing, colorful hair, costume designing for her best friend who performs in drag, and binge watching all the science fiction movies.   Even with all of her awesome confidence and character, MG can be very defensive of her lifestyle. She automatically assumes men will have a problem with her hobbies and can come off as very prickly and defensive. As much as I loved MG, her constant assumptions that other people were judging her did a get a bit much.  

I found The Frame-Up to be a fun read and it’s the beginning of a series so if you like it, there’s more to come.  Also, it’s only $3.99 for Kindle!

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  

 



Flashback: The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

 I have never been to New Orleans but it’s one of my very favorite settings for books.  Bonus points for bringing in magic and the supernatural. From Anne Rice, to Sherrilyn Kenyon, some of my favorite books have taken place in New Orleans.  Confession-I love the t.v. show The Originals. Vampires, witches, and shifters in NOLA? Yes, Please! I’ve been looking for another great fantasy series now that the Kate Daniels series from Ilona Andrews is wrapping up and this book was everything I was hoping for.

This book takes all the very best of the magic, myths, and music to create an engrossing tale of murder and rebirth.  After Katrina devastated New Orleans, Jude Dubuisson shut himself off from his magic and the needs of the city. A demigod with ability to find all things lost, he has spent the last six years with his senses overwhelmed by the incredible loss of the city and its inhabitants.  

Jude is abruptly ripped away from his self-imposed retirement by a former colleague, Regal Sloan.  A mysterious invitation leads to the murder of the city’s fortune god during a poker game and Jude is in the middle of the fallout.  Now, Jude needs to find the murderer before he becomes the #1 suspect. With clues scarce and trusted friends even more so, Jude has to use every gift he has to stay alive.  

Regal Sloan, former colleague and friend, hasn’t seen Jude in over six years.  When she shows up with the mysterious invitation to a game with the gods, Jude doesn’t know if he can trust her.  When a string of murders follows Jude wherever he goes, Regal is top at the list of suspects. Adding to the mystery, Jude’s mother paints a chilling and prophetic painting that leads Jude on a dangerous path. 

I wish I could do the book justice-it really is an amazing read.  It pulls you in with the music and the food and dark and sweaty bars.  I felt torn between wanting to yell at Jude to buck up and do his job-the city needed him-and cringing from the thought of  drowning in all those feelings of loss. To have that power and have to walk down streets with empty houses that have lost their owners.  To be surrounded by people who lost everything in the storm-no wonder Jude shut himself off. I loved this book. It looks like it’s the first in a series?  I really hope so. The ending was open enough to want more-but also satisfying enough to stand alone. I know, I’m not doing it justice.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:

Flashback: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Update: I finally got the Hubs to try fiction! He’s loving this book!

It’s been 26 hours since vacation officially started.   The Kid and I took the pugs on a very slow meandering stroll through the woods, went out to lunch, and I devoured the most badass monster slaying story.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse is the grown-up Buffy* I’ve been dying to read.  When Maggie Hoskie was a child, she survived a horrific attack that awakened her clan powers.  Faster, stronger, and more deadly than any human, she hunts the monsters that roam what is left of the Navajo lands, now known as the Dinétah, after a climate apocalypse.  But it’s not just monsters that wander the earth, so do gods and beings with power.

Drug out of self-imposed seclusion to help rescue a child who was taken by a monster, Maggie  finds more than just a simple case of search and rescue. Seeking out help from her dear friend and local Medicine Man Grandpa Tah, leads to the discovery of deadly witchcraft and a new partner, his grandson Kai Arviso.  Together, they work to find the one responsible for the deadly monsters and confront Maggie’s past in order to survive.

Maybe.  No promises on that one.

This is an amazing book.  Maggie is tough and impressive even without her clan powers-but the clan powers are amazing.  The balance of old myths and legends blending with post apocalyptic droughts and magic is just perfect.  I don’t want to live in that world-Hell. No. But I want to read all of it. Coyote the Trickster is here creating chaos.  There is a magical/mystical dance hall that shows up in the desert on it’s own schedule and is a popular place for all special beings.  Kai puts some silver paint on Maggie’s eyes which allows her to see what everyone looks like without their illusions-I would love to see that on screen or in a graphic novel version.  It’s an amazing part of the book. Many of the people have some animal characteristics-like the Feather People have feathers and the Big Deer People have huge antlers on their heads. The club itself is like the Tardis where space seems to change to fit what is inside and going underground still gives you a view of the sky.  

Maggie has a lot to overcome throughout the book.  Not just the horrible attack that awakens her powers and takes away her family, but also being apprenticed by a demigod during some very formative years and her whole identity being questioned then later on in life.  There are also a lot of relationships that shift and change and with all of her trust issues, it’s a rough ride.

I really enjoyed this book.  Luckily, there is a sneak peek at Book #2 in the back so there will be more.  

Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse is available now.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:

*Side note:  We're re-watching the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series and wow is that problematic!*

Flashback: The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
The Girl with the Red Balloon available now from Katherine Locke  Yes, it also requires many flags.

The Girl with the Red Balloon available now from Katherine Locke

Yes, it also requires many flags.

Fantasy novels are supposed to make you rethink your surroundings.  Magical doorways, fairy circles, talking animals, and superpowers can all be found in our everyday lives masked by the ordinary.  Will you travel through time by walking up the back staircase? Can eating the perfect apple freshly picked from the tree lead to magical sleep?

Will holding a red balloon transport you through time? If you happen to be visiting the Berlin Wall in Germany while on a school trip, beware the red balloons.  

Growing up, Ellie Baum listened to her Grandfather tell the story of how he was rescued from a Nazi death camp by a magical red balloon.  Ellie always played the story off as fantasy and while visiting Germany herself on a class trip, she sees a beautiful red balloon and knows she needs a photo of herself with it.  But once she touches the balloon, she finds herself far away from the Berlin Wall Memorial, and at the Wall itself. Now in 1988 Berlin, Ellie meets Kai and Mitzi, two balloon runners who use the magical balloons to help people escape to West Berlin.  But how did Ellie get here? Where is the original balloon passenger? Who is tampering with the balloons and why?

This book was completely absorbing and incredibly well written.  I loved how quickly the story moved-the action was constantly moving.  The relationships between the characters was very relatable. How do you handle wanting to pursue a relationship or, even a friendship, when you're constantly trying to find your way home?  Through Ellie's discussions with her new friends and the flashbacks to her grandfather, there was a lot of Jewish history that was new to me. At one point, her grandfather Benno is telling the story of the Exodus to his future rescuer, Aurora.  After hearing the story of the Exodus, she complains that Jewish stories are sad and why aren't there any happy stories? Benno tells her, "I've told you two stories that end in freedom," I protested.  "How much happier could you ask for? I just loved that quote.

I really enjoyed this book and cannot recommend it highly enough.  I'm not a highlighter or underliner, but this book had more sticky flags in it than any other book I've read in a long time.  

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:

Flashback: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

The list of "Automatic Pre-order" authors that I have is pretty short.  Ilona Andrews is top on that list.  Not only is this a new book, it's the start of a new series!  A new series is always, always good news from this amazing writing team, especially since the Kate Daniels series is wrapping up with book 10 this year.  If you haven't read any of the Kate Daniels series, I wouldn't really worry about.  Definitely read it, because it's amazing, but the authors do a a really great job of filling you in on the necessary backstory.  

From the publisher because they say it better:

"The Iron Covenant Book 1
No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work. 
Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.
Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.
Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies? 
As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.” 
Hugh and Elara may do both. 

This book is an amazing start to a new series about respect, redemption, love and loss.  This book hits all the best points of fantasy and romance-strong characters, lots of magic, ancient creatures, and action that keeps the pages turning long after bedtime.  

One of the best parts of this book is the world building.  A castle that was shipped in brick by brick to please the former mistress in modern day Kentucky is now inside a dark magical forest after the magical shift occurs.  There are tunnels under the castle that people don't come back from and no one knows why.  There are druids, shapeshifters, magic, technology, gods, and creatures that are completely unknown.  It would seem chaotic except the authors have made it all make sense and believable.  

Elara's character is absolutely incredible and mysterious.  The way the authors are able to weave in old mythology with this insanely bonkers world they've created is fascinating.  Elara's character is both beloved and respected by her people for her ability to keep them healthy and safe, but there is a secret that everyone is hiding.  We do get a glimpse of what she truly is, but it's only a glimpse and I hope more is revealed as the series progresses.  

Hugh d'Ambray has spent his life powerful and feared.  Without Roland's magic and support, and now no clear agenda, he falls apart.  All the way apart.  When the opportunity comes along to save his soldiers and himself, he reluctantly takes it.  Hugh's character is such a contradiction-he is feared and brutal but also incredibly loyal to his Iron Dogs.  At one point, he talks over breakfast about how he killed a woman and then later on saves a dog.  I really feel the authors did an amazing job of making his character very slow to like.  It was as if he had to prove to himself that he was worthy of respect before the reader could believe that as well.  

The relationship between Elara and Hugh was also very unique.  It's easy to groan about the arranged marriage trope but this was the farthest thing from trope-y.  Their relationship was built incredibly slowly and all on the basis of respect.  Both characters were fiercely protective of their people and not afraid to do whatever it took to keep them safe.    

I just can't say it enough-this book is amazing.  These authors are amazing.  I can't wait to see what comes next in this series.

Iron and Magic is available June 26th and you can pre-order this book now here: 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and NYLA for the opportunity to read and review this book-all ramblings and the overuse of "amazing" are my own opinions.  

Also, there are other amazing series from these authors.  May I suggest:

Flashback: Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

What happens when the taps run dry? When you turn the faucet handle and nothing comes out? How long can the human survive without water?

Be warned-this book will cause intense feelings of hoarding, stockpiling, and doomsday prepping.

Alyssa remembers where she was on the day of the Tap-Out. At home with her family, they initially thought the odd noises from the faucet were just a plumbing issue. Instead, it was their worst nightmare. Water to their home was shut off, rerouted to critical locations such as hospitals. An emergency run to Costco is chaotic with people scrambling and fighting for the last of the bottled water and other beverages. When Alyssa’s parents learn about a water desalination unit operating on a local beach, they set off in hopes of bringing back water. But as the hours drag on, Alyssa can’t reach her parents and they don’t show up. Now on their own, it’s up to Alyssa to keep Garrett safe.

Back in Alyssa’s neighborhood, her neighbors aren’t used to rationing anything, let alone critical resources. All but her next door neighbor Kelton, whose family takes survival prepping to the next level. Living off the grid in a fortified house, Kelton and his family have known a day like this would come. When the neighbors begin to notice how little the Tap-Out is affecting Kelton’s family, they stage a revolt. An unspeakable tragedy follows with Kelton, Alyssa, and her little brother Garrett left running for their lives.

What starts as an inconvenience turns into a fight for their very survival.

This book made me want to stock up on pallets of water, hand sanitizer, antibiotics, MREs, and anything else that might be critical. In the novel, it takes only days for people to completely turn on each other instead of working together to solve the problem. With all the talk of climate change currently in the news, this book felt even more scary.

Dry is listed as Young Adult but don’t let that stop you-it’s fast paced and gritty and I loved every word of it.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:


Flashback: Jackaby by William Ritter
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If you took Sherlock Holmes and crossed him with Newt Scamander you'd get Mr. R. F. Jackaby. 

This book was pure fun!  

It's 1892 and Abigail Rook has left her boarding school to follow in her father's footsteps and join an expedition to the Carpathian Mountains.  But her dreams of finding new dinosaur species are quickly dashed and instead, she spent months digging holes and living in uncomfortable conditions.  When she finally has enough, she leaves the mountains and tries to find passage home only to realize that her ship is going in the wrong direction.  Now in America, Abigail needs to find a place to live and a job to help buy time before she has to face her parents again.  Not long after leaving the ship, Abigail encounters an unusual gentleman who appears to know more about her than he should.  

After a fruitless job search, Abigail sees an interesting job posting for an assistant at a detective agency.  Why is she not to stare at the frog?  Because staring at the frog makes him mad causing a foul smelling gas cloud.  As the cloud becomes more dense, the mysterious man is back and on his way out the door.  Chasing after him to both collect more information and outrun the gas, Abigail learns that our mysterious man is the detective R. F. Jackaby.  Having a job interview while investigating a crime scene is quite the experience for Abigail.  But Abigail isn't easily scared and does her best to impress her potential new boss.  But it's the boss that impresses Abigail.   Jackaby claims he can see mysterious and unusual creatures and seems to have a strained relationship with the police.  After seeing the condition of the murder victim, strange creatures are the only option for murder suspect and Abigail goes on to meet a ghost, a duck who used to be a man, a werewolf, and a woman who no one can see but them.  Trying to solve this crime puts everyone in danger and Abigail finds herself way in over her head. 

This book is full of adventure, mysterious creatures and even more mysterious people.  I really liked the characters and how there is not a love story between Abigail and Jackaby.  It's nice that her character didn't start swooning over the first guy who was nice to her. 

Jackaby's house is a character in it's own right-there is a pond on the third floor.  Like a real pond.  It's also home to a ghost and a duck that used to be Jackaby's assistant Douglass.  I'm sure there's even more that we'll learn about as the series continues.  And Jackaby is so used to his wacky way of life that he completely forgets to introduce Abigail to his housemates and doesn't explain anything.   It's a great book and amazing start to a series! 

You can get your copy here, which also helps support the site:

Flashback: Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn by Ryan Heshka
THIS COVER!!!!!

THIS COVER!!!!!

This book is not for the faint of heart.  If swearing, drinking, violence and badass women are not your thing-don't pick up this book. 

It's my thing and I absolutely loved it!  I found this book after my boss circled it in one of our independent publishing catalogs we get at the Library.  She knows me well.  

From the back cover-because it's the best:  "The lascivious ladies of the Mean Girls Club have been raising a riot around town, and the cops are onto them.  Prepare for a mad-dash of boozing, skull-busting, and general mid-century mayhem as they deliver a swift stiletto-stab to the crotch of the patriarchy."

 These ladies are done with being used and hurt by others.  When their latest raid on the town gets too close to the Mayor and his pocketbook, the mayor blackmails his mechanic, the beautiful and vulnerable Roxy, to infiltrate the club and help take them down.  All Roxy wants is the vital and expensive medicine that her Grandpa needs to survive.  Left with little choice, Roxy approaches the clubhouse and is met with all the ladies and their guns.  But luckily for Roxy, the club's car Black Betsy was damaged during their last firefight with the police.  After repairing the car and then showing off her fighting skills when she's attacked by Wanda, Roxy spends the rest of the night in a drug and booze filled initiation where she learns all the backstories on the ladies and what fuels their obsession with taking down the patriarchy. 

Meanwhile, we learn that the disgusting Mayo Schlomo is in league with two cult leaders who are brainwashing the town's young girls into being subservient slaves.  When the cult leaders and the mayor set up a decency league called Reclaim Our Town, or R.O.T., the Mean Girls know they have to step in and do something.  Unfortunately, it's a trap and Roxy helped set it.  The Girls aren't led away quietly, in fact, Wanda's lines on page 58 are pretty amazing.  

The Mean Girls are now lined up in the execution chamber on display for the town to see.  At the same time, sick over her actions against the Club, Roxy finds herself at the clubhouse drinking away her grief.  When she stumbles upon the journal that tells of the club's beginnings, Roxy knows she has to do something to save the women. 

This book is so intense!  These women are not holding back anything.  The art and the writing are amazing and it's very tempting to buy another copy so I can cut some pages out and frame them.  

It's so good!

You can help support the site, and get your copy here: 

Flashback: The Merry Spinster, Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

My boys and I are heading for warmer weather and some much needed R&R. So while I’m busy reading books on the beach, here’s a look back at some of my favorite books from 2018.

Those teeth!

Those teeth!

After reading and hearing so many good things about this book I couldn't wait for my hold to finally come in at the Library.  I actually finished this about a week ago when my youth department was still decorated for early spring/Easter.  Reading the short story The Rabbit while sitting at my desk eating lunch was a very creepy experience.  I swear all the stuffed bunnies were staring at me.  Like they knew what I was reading.  Like stuffed bunnies talk.  

The Merry Spinster, Tales of Everyday Horror is a short story collection that takes our well-loved and well-known childhood stories and makes them dark, creepy, and chilling.  The title story, The Merry Spinster is a play on the Beauty and the Beast tale.  In this version, it's Beauty's mother, not father who stumbles upon the Beast.  The mother, a rich executive, heads to the city to take care of some investments.  While on her way home, she became horribly lost and ran out of gas.  After wandering around trying to find help she stumbles across a great house that is all lit up but no one answers the door.  What does she do?  She walks in. 

Guess where this is going?

After helping herself to some dinner the mother decides to tour the house and grounds.  The bottle of wine that she drank at dinner may have helped with that decision.  Wine bottle in hand, she heads out to pick the roses that she promised to bring her daughter Beauty.  When the Beast, or Mr. Beale in this version, confronts her about stealing and trespassing, the mother is pretty unapologetic.  True to the tale, the mother has to give up Beauty to come live with Mr. Beale.  

Unfortunately for Mr. Beale, he didn't do any research on his new bride and he had no idea what he was getting in to.  

Not every story was a winner for me.  Not going to lie-The Thankless Child went right over my head.  

The Rabbit was deliciously creepy.  That one I enjoyed the most and I don't want to spoil any of it.  I don't think I'll look at stuffed animals the same way again.  Overall this was a great collection and I didn't realize how much I liked short story collections until I read this.  

Since this book was published the author has transitioned genders and now goes by Daniel Mallory Ortberg.  

You can get the book here: 

BooksMichelle DunbarComment
Happy Valentine's Day!

This Valentine’s Day, treat yourself to something you know you really want-a new book! I mean, diamonds are nice and all but nothing is as great as finding a new book or series that lets you escape into a new world.

Here are some steals and deals I found on books that I have personally read and loved. Have a great day everyone!

From the Publisher: The Dark-Hunters are ancient warriors who have sworn to protect mankind and the fate of the world is in their hands. . .

He is solitude. He is darkness. He is the ruler of the night. Yet Kyrian of Thrace has just woken up handcuffed to his worst nightmare: An accountant. Worse, she's being hunted by one of the most lethal vampires out there. And if Amanda Devereaux goes down, then he does too. But it's not just their lives that are hanging in the balance. Kyrian and Amanda are all that stands between humanity and oblivion. Let's hope they win.



This one is intense! It opens with a foot amputation and deals with every type of trigger warning there is. From the Publisher: Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She's used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world. Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot--if she's willing to sow the seeds of civil war.

I devoured this book and loved every word of every page! Get ready to cheer on a sociopath and you don’t have to guilty about it. From the Publisher: Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven. But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her. Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away. Just as he did to her.


This is a great series and Alisha Rai is an amazing writer. I’m not usually one for contemporary romance but this series will make anyone a convert. From the Publisher: One night. No one will know. That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies. Until the night she didn’t show up. Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed? Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families. Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.

We have a copy of this at the Library and I was so excited to read it-and then I had nightmares for weeks. This book is terrifying. And it’s not just terrifying because it’s a violent book, but because of how easy it is to imagine actually happening. Trigger warnings for all types of violence against women and children. From the Publisher: In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it. A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence. After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide

Prices are accurate as of 2/12/19.

Michelle DunbarComment
Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

I love steampunk!  The incredible inventions requiring cogs and steam valves, the fashion, the goggles, the explosions!  Airships galore! Steampunk is so much fun to read and I was very excited to come across a steampunk inspired story for middle grade readers.  

Cogheart introduces us to Lily Grantham, a young girl living at a horrible finishing school for young ladies learning all about how to be a respectable young lady and nothing about her dream job-becoming an airship captain and air-pirate. When she is told the horrible news of her inventor father’s disappearance after his airship crashes, Lily is sent home to live with her father’s housekeeper Madame Verdigris and the household staff that is almost entirely comprised of automatons.  But home is wasn’t she remembers. Many of the automatons have been run down and their maintenance neglected. The housekeeper is now in charge and has moved into her father’s rooms. Told she is now destitute due to her father’s poor management, Lily is devastated to learn all of her father’s automatons will be sold. While Madame Verdigris continues to search the house for valuables, Lilly learns her father had created a perpetual motion machine that would change the future of mechanicals and automatons.  Thinking she has found the secret, Lilly escapes her home and sets out to seek help from the only person she thinks she can trust, her godfather Professor Silverfish.

Along the way, Lilly finds an ally in Robert Townsend, the son of a clockmaker who discovers a mechanical fox being chased by ruthless gun-toting thugs.  After rescuing and repairing the fox, Peter discovers the fox belongs to John Hartman, father to Lily and that she is in great danger. Together, Lilly and Robert set out on a dangerous mission to find what really happened to Lilly’s father, save her family’s fortune and mechanicals, and find the mysterious device that has put them all in danger.

Packed full of action and adventure, Cogheart is a thrilling story of love, family, and the drive to protect those you care about.  There’s airship battles, evil mechanical men, and plenty of shady characters who cannot be trusted.  Lilly and Robert make a wonderful team and are both incredibly smart and brave. Lilly never saw the mechanicals as machines or servants, they were her friends and some, just like family. The relationship between Lilly and her mechanical friends really highlights the importance of being kind to everyone-especially those that are different from you.   

This was a really fun read and I highly recommend it for your favorite middle grade reader and steampunk lover in your life. It’s the first book in a trilogy and I’m excited to see what adventures Lilly and Robert have next!

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:

Full disclosure time:  I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley.  Thank you to Netgalley and Jolly Fish Press for the opportunity to read and review this title. All opinions are my own.





The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Paris in 1889 is a dazzling backdrop to any story, but add in a magical heist and it becomes breathtaking.  Séverin Montagnet-Alaire was set to lead the House of Vanth until his birthright was taken from him. Dismissed by the other great Houses, Séverin creates his own fortune with his lavish and successful hotel, and by stealing back what rightfully belongs to him.  He and his crew of unlikely treasure hunters set out to reclaim the magical artifacts belonging to the House of Vanth, as well as creating trouble for the ruling order over all the Houses of France, the Order of Babel.

When another House leader offers Séverin the opportunity to reclaim his rightful place as head of his House, Séverin leads his team onto a dangerous journey that will test everyone’s skills and loyalties.  

This book has an amazing cast of characters and their magical, or forging, abilities are fascinating.  There’s Laila, born stillborn but crafted into a new body by magicians, has the ability to read all objects, except those forged, with her touch.  Zofia, a socially awkward and completely genius engineer, has a tendency to magically start fires and cause explosions. Tristan with his love of insects, especially large spiders, and his ability to forge incredible flowers. Enrique with his love of history and his disappointment at being unable to forge.  All members of Séverin’s team and bound to him through magical contracts. The group is such a tight knit family that completely accepts one another for who they are and without judgement.

The world building within this story is incredible.  The magical ability to forge dictates your place within a family and within society and abilities differ from person to person.  The way the character’s outfits and costumes can change with a sweep of a hand would be incredible to see on the big screen-or you know, the t.v. screen because it would be a great series.  Laila has a headband type piece that transforms into her entire costume and it sounds incredible. The story is fast paced with with plenty of action to keep the pages turning.

Political intrigue, mysterious artifacts, magical abilities-it’s all so amazing.  

I loved this story and I’m looking forward to what will come next in the series.  


If you would like to discover this world, and help support the site, you can grab a copy here:

Full disclosure time: I borrowed this copy from the Library. Don’t see it at your Library? Recommend it to your favorite Librarian. It’ll make them look really good when it gets checked out right away!