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Blog Hop: Sci-Fi Fantasy Books for a Buck

Brooke Banks | 12:33 AM | | | | Please comment!
 Book for a Buck Sale

SpecFicDaily.com, T.S. Welti, and J.A. Huss have teamed up to bring you another MASSIVE Group Sale and Giveaway. This promo includes 18 book by 18 different authors - ALL books in this list are 99 cents from January 30-February 3rd.

You can see all the books in the sale at Specficdaily.com


a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. I'm so glad to be apart of this and good luck to everyone entering! If you follow me on twitter, you'll find lots of giveaways I enter for awesome books.

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[ARC Review] Into The Dark: Alright Thriller With An Interesting Protagonist

Oops...It's a series. Damn. I have not read the first book with Brenna Spencer, And She Was. I’m a Random Order Reader this time around.
Into the Dark works as is reading out of order with no previous knowledge of the author or the characters. Of course, I cannot answer how it works as a series and I can't know how different reading it would be, if I had done it in order.

The Neff case, the first book's mystery, itself isn't discussed at all (just referenced to) but there's personal character flashbacks. While reading I kept thinking “This feels like a series...” I wasn’t lost or confused though. Just curious and wondering a bit: “Why this other case is such a big deal?” and “Why everyone started acting differently because of it?”

As of now, I do plan on reading the first book and continuing the series, but it's not a burning need. Just keeping an eye out and if I get into the mood for this kind of read, I know which books to turn to. Brenna's condition is an interesting condition for a protagonist to have and it's a difficult one to include in text, as you'll find out.

Can a stranger share your memories?

Series: Brenna Spencer #2
Genre:Mystery, Suspense/Thriller,
Age: Adult
Format: MMP ARC, 384 pgs.
Source: Goodreads First Reads Giveaway for review purposes
Rating: 2.5
Recommendable? Conditionally
That's the question that haunts Brenna Spector when she first sees footage of missing webcam performer Lula Belle. Naked but hidden in shadow, the "performance artist" shares her deepest, darkest secrets with her unseen male audience . . . secrets that, to Brenna, are chillingly familiar.
Brenna has perfect memory, able to recall in astonishing detail every moment of every day of her adult life. But her childhood—those carefree years before the traumatic disappearance of her sister, Clea—is frustratingly vague. When Brenna listens to the stories Lula Belle tells her audience, stories only Brenna and Clea could know, those years come to life again in vivid detail. Convinced the missing internet performer has ties to her sister, Brenna takes the case—and in her quest for Lula Belle unravels a web of obsession, sex, guilt, and murder that could regain her family . . . or cost her life.
How can you forgive and forget when you can never forget?

The Good The Bad & The Other
Intriguing twist on the “perfect memory” or similar “perfect trait for case-solving with personal drawbacks” but the execution made it a hard read. Flashbacks were annoying at first and hard to get used to
Tense mystery and suspense, guessing and uncertainty til the end but if I paid attention and tried solving it while reading, I don't think it'd be as successful
Last sentence rocked Brenna was stupid and whiny sometimes. Needs character progression or I'm done with the series
The cover Tacky “Great new read, Great low price!” sticker that ruins the cover
Missing common sense at times, raising minor issues

ARCREVIEW IconAdult IconMystery Icon Suspense/Thriller IconBad Boy IconMixed Bag Icon

The opening scene I had to re-read it because it was so jarring trying to figure out WTF. Re-reading and flipping back pages was common because of the massively detailed, hard to parse, constant flashbacks out of nowhere. Most often the flashbacks were pointless, except to properly show what Brenna had to cope with. In that sense, the flashbacks were effective.

I was just as tired, bored and frustrated with the flashbacks as Brenna. It was a rocky start but I pressed on though because I was intrigued by the story. It became more enjoyable further along. I adjusted to Brenna's head and it picked up a bit after 100 pages. Then it really ramped up after another hundred. The ending was as solid as the beginning was unsure.

Brenna & Cast: Great If You Can Get Past Things Like Sexism

Brenna, and I didn't really mesh at first because all the flashbacks. After adjusting, I liked her and wasn't completely annoyed with all her whining due to the problems caused by her hyperthymesia, except about things that were all her fault. Then there were times where I questioned her judgment and wanted to smack some sense into her. All in all, Brenna was just okay. Considering how it ended I'm hopeful for her character progression in the next book, which shouldn't be such a battle for me to get into. But if it's more of the same, I'll probably DNF it.

Maya, Brenna's daughter, I like and feel for considering she's stuck loving her mother and hating what her mother does. I hope Brenna does step it up in the next book because I don't know if I can deal with more of Brenna's neglect. Yeah, yeah, extenuating circumstances and Brenna means well but it seems like a pattern of behavior to me. And fuck that nonsense.

Trent is a douchebag, even Brenna thinks so. He'd belong on the Jersey Shore with the rest of the Guidos but he's a smart tech geek. Vin Diesel, Trent's idol, is a D&D nerd (I love swooning over THAT guy, seriously) but he's not a douche about dating like Trent. Trent is an often disgusting player, and doesn't stop hitting on women, even after they repeatedly say no. Creepy, harasser, much?

I'd like to get to know Trent under all that false bravado and there's glimpses of him being decent but unless you're a cat or his friend, steer clear of Trent. He's got that “bad boy with a heart of gold” crap going on under all that spray tan and hair gel, which I loathe because far too many people give sexist shit a pass because of that.

Sure, some of the funniest moments comes from Trent (dearly needed in the sad ass case and MC) and he's helpful on the case. However, every time he talks to or about women, I want to smack him quiet. And that's a hard feeling to shake, even when he's not actively spouting bullshit.

Now, Nick I liked except for his "Men do this, women do that" attitude. Gods, far too much sexist crap in this book and coming from characters we're supposed to like no less. Worse yet, I'd like them with no hesitation if it wasn't for this. Brenna isn't having any of it at least. For now anyways, there's some playful banter between the two. I hope it stays this way but a woman MC hardly ever stays single for long and I'm not seeing any other possibilities.

(Un)Surprisingly, I Liked the Mystery but….

The mystery had me turning pages as improbably twisted and convoluted as it was. Perfect crime show hype, just ignore the junk behind the curtain. I didn't guess til the end how it would all come together. Hindsight shows I could have seen it coming but meh. I didn't pay attention to all the pieces when reading. I wouldn't be surprised if someone else does though and finds it obvious. Parts of the ending just rocked, others made me go "Ohhhhhhhh" but nothing really shocked. The last line is killer though.

While I did have to adjust to time jumping, the writing itself was great. Here's some quotes I like:
On page 40,
The day had gone where it always went - in and out of wormholes, with Brenna swallowed up by memories, then snapping herself back to reality. Back and forth, back and forth.

On pg. 57,
She would've been hard-pressed to find any item of apparel that tried half as hard as that bag did.

On page 80,
It was a Tudor three-story walk up on a street that happened to be full of them. But it stood out from the others in that it was literally crawling with ivy. Brenna normally liked a little ivy on old buildings - she found it cozy and collegiate-but in this case it just seemed liked a symptom of decay, the plant devouring the frail building, pulling it back into the earth. Someone had put a wreath on the front door, a big, clumsy thing, dripping Christmas bells. But it only added to the feeling-the Ivy Monster's bejeweled sidekick.

Minor Things That Bothered Me:

....How do they expect to keep these violent happenings (with police involvement, no less) hidden from Maya's father and stepmother? They don't watch the news? For crying out loud, Faith (the stepmom) is a reporter!

Speaking of which, the police force seems awfully incompetent since they didn't really investigate the...um...happenings, didn't ask anyone any questions. Of course, it doesn't help that Brenna didn't report half the stuff either. Yeah, smart move Brenna.

Okay, so P.I's going it alone and a bumbling police force are standards in this genre but usually the reasons for not going to the police are talked about. That's the rub, it was never brought up. Silence was just a given. Am I just suppose to assume why? There's two sentences brought up about Brenna's issue with the police force but it wasn't regarding why she doesn't report things like a normal person. Is my answer in the first book? If you don't talk about it, it seems like the characters were too stupid to think of going to police. Whatever the reason, the apparent lack of common sense irritated me.


For every positive aspect, there's a downside and it didn't get going for me until halfway through. But there's a protagonist with an interesting condition and a crime show type case to follow. Now if only those damn characters didn't make it so hard.

Recommended for:
Mystery and Suspense/Thriller fans if you can accept or ignore some problems.

Updated on 9/17/2015 for better editing, new rating system, and formatting with new template.
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2013 Indie Author Challenge: Indie Fever

Brooke Banks | 1:31 AM | | Please comment!

I've read quite a few Indie authors last year. There's several on my TBR list right now and a lot of the ARCs I recieve for review are from Indie authors. I support Indie authors and their efforts to get their books out there. (Doesn't mean I give out all glowing reviews or anything like that.)

 My favorite book last year, Project ELE was by indie authors Rebecca Gober & Courtney Nuckels. (Once my new blog design goes live, I'll actually be doing a giveaway with them.)

This is why I'm signing up for this challenge. I'm sure I can at least get Amateur level. I'm definitely going to read the rest of the ELE series and the Nightmarches Series. Those two series alone puts me at the cusp of the next level. I look forward to promoting Indie authors and finding more by reading everyone's reviews.

This challenge is hosted by  Book Reviews by DDS. Here's the information and check out the DDS's post to sign up today!

How it works:
1. Read and Review as many Indie Books as possible during this year.
2. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. However, you have to post a review on some site in order to participate. It can be on Goodreads and/or Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble and/or Smashwords.
3. If you are a blogger link up your permalink to the review posts. If you aren't a blogger, then link up the permalink to your reviews from whichever site you have chosen to post the review on.
4. The books can overlap with other reading challenges.  
5. Books read may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
6. Post your links to your reviews each month to share with other participants.
7. The challenge runs from January 1, 2013 to December 1, 2013. Sign ups will be open till 30th November'2013

How To Sign-Up and Join In:
1. Choose a challenge level listed below.
2. Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (where possible) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of Authors/Books is optional).
3. Grab the badge and place it in your sign up post. Then link back to b00k r3vi3ws.
4. Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Linky List and enter your link.
5. Once you review a book it would be great for you to share them by submitting them on the Review List.
7. When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the completion/wrap-up List.

Challenge Level:
Amateur : Choose to read & review 4 - 8 Indie Books
Lover     : Choose to read & review 9 - 16 Indie Books
Expert    : Choose to read & review 17 - 28  Indie Books
Fanatic   : Choose to read & review 28 or above  Indie Books
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Information and an Update

Brooke Banks | 10:13 PM | | Please comment!
Hello all, I just wanted to let everyone know to not despair over the current design of my blog. I've been working with a designer already to get a brand new awesome design made for me. I've been slow and hesitant on posting because I'm embarrassed how it currently looks and I want to make a good first impression for new viewers. My blog design should be finished at the end of this week or the beginning of next week. I can't wait for everyone to see it. It's is so me. I'm trying to pull together a big thing to really kick off this blog for a fresh new start once my design goes live. Exciting things will be happening. =)
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Review: City of Dark Magic

City of Dark Magic City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte Format: Paperback, 464 pages Published: November 27th 2012 by Penguin Books  Source: Goodreads First Read Program Goodreas Blurb:
Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense
Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.      Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.
     City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.
Rating:  4 ½ Stars
“It was a Hieronymus Bosh painting come to life, and she couldn’t escape it.” ----- --Sarah Weston, page 161.
Yes, City of Dark Magic is out there.
Yes, there's a lot in here. There’s Beethoven, the blind child prodigy, the unstable rock star prince,the agent senator, the neurotic professor, a background cast straight out of Saturday Night Live, past loves, current fucks, bizarre murders, cover ups, conspiracies, Nazis, alchemy, drugs, all which is shrouded in secrets and lies set up on the historically rich and bloody ground of Prague with magic in the air. Yes, there's a lot left hanging - like someone started weaving a rug and just stopped half way but it feels like the right time to break it off. It must be continued in the sequel. Yes, it’s fantastical delusional and barely recognizable as reality. I’m pretty sure that’s the point. Yes, the ending has that cheesy action adventure romance aspect. Yes, there’s a lot of convenience going on here - like overhearing the right things at the right times, deus ex machina, etc. Yes, it’s not the deep character exploration, development and progression that I want. And yet.. And yet... I loved it. I can’t really defend my enjoyment of this book (except that I hate slut shaming for good reason). You love it or hate it and I’m in the former camp. I really can't wait to read the next book(s?). Where is the information about the next book? Pretty Please share with me? Is there going to more than just one sequel? Not without it's flaws or problems, and clearly not everyone's cup of tea. I liked the characters (especially Nico and Sarah), the history, the mystery, the setting, all the mixed up elements and laughed several times. I liked seeing and figuring out all the tangled webs they weave. It's really different than most books out there and doesn't really stick to the conventions of its genres. It was nothing like I expected and love this because of that. It’s a fantastical, bizarrely funny, acknowledged naughtiness (Flyte’s term for guilty pleasure). The things I loved about this book is often the very things others hated about it. As for Sarah: I liked her, her voice and perspective. I understood where she was coming from and why she did the things she did. She’s not the mild-mannered librarian or the quietly shy overburdened college student. It’s a very refreshing ride tagging along in Sarah’s mind. I don’t mind her sex life. It’s irritating to have her trashed and slut shamed. It’s an interesting contrast between the so called feminist woman Senator (who hasn’t shown any position that would demonstrate she’s a feminist and only cares about her advancement) and Sarah (the sex positive, gender role defying woman who doesn’t or hasn’t been called a feminist). I'm a bit sad that several characters I liked were left in the background, like Shuziko. I was a bit perplexed at the sudden unexplained switch in demeanor in the prince. I didn't notice while reading unfortunately the use of stereotypes ( the Hispanic butler, the Gay Guy, the Italian guy) in this book. It's a convenient slacked ass way to do the characters and I'm disappointed in myself for getting too wrapped in the story to notice. While it didn't diminish my enjoyment, it should've at least pinged my radar.
Some of the problems come from people expecting something different based on the blurb and the genres. Now that sucks feel mislead like that, but a lot of the fun for me was taking the unexpected ride that felt off kilter like I’m tripping balls. This is not the typical rom-con book. The romance and sex are not the typical safe sappy Hallmark movie kind. There’s all of four sex scenes in it, encompassing a couple of paragraphs and sentences but while it’s quantity is low, the quality is certainly unconventional. I have no problem with indiscriminate or wild sex.
This is not the typical Urban fantasy. There's no spells, or wands, or vamps or shifters or portals to magical escapist lands. It's contained (so far) to alchemy and magical properties for a few things. The magic is kept tight and narrow, much not explored or understood because that storyline is the overarching storyline for the series. That's going to be hunted and explored more in the next book I'm sure. It also isn't the typical time travel, since those novels deal with movement along a line or a loop. There’s just no way to define it without spoiling it. There is also the spy novel element, which I don't think is typical either. While there's spies, espionage and cover ups it's present day action is happening to cover up previous actions regarding CIA Vs. KGB. We know the reasons who and why and often how they did it because the villain is a sporadic narrator at times. The beginning is about Sarah and crew trying to figure out the puzzle we know the answer to, then it's trying to figure out how to stop the spies plans. (Okay, that sounds more spy than the book feels, but it still isn't' typical due to the other elements and genre mashing.) There's the spy thread dealing with the villain and their goals. There's the thread about the alchemy and the hunt for a magical item. They cross but not in the way you'd assume. I was a bit miffed at the comparisons to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. I was like, “It couldn’t have been that badly written! My taste doesn’t suck that bad....does it?” I tried to think of another book to compare it too and write out all the ways they are different. Here’s the thing, it’s like Dan Brown’s work regarding the hunt for a historical secret magic conspiracy but I find these characters far more interesting. There’s also some great quotes and moments: Page 55,
Even the espresso wasn’t totally keeping her brain activity centered on the logical left side. That old loony right side kept saying “for a thousand years, people have lived and died on this very spot.” But then she imagined that the right side of her brain was speaking in a pirate accent (“on this very spot - argh”), and she felt normal again. This place was just a pile of old stones. Pretty stones arranged in intriguing ways, but just old stones.
“And outdated wiring,’ her father would have added.
Page 349,
“I think you’ve really captured it,” Sarah commented, looking around. “It’s like if Ted Nugent had a Masterpiece Theatre porn fantasy.”
“Awesome,” said Shuziko. “That’s kind of what I was going for. Class with ass.”
Things That Did Bother Me: The previously mentioned stereotypes, which I unfortunately didn’t notice while reading. Only after trying to write my review about the varied cast did that observation hit me. I had problems with a certain decision in the end regarding important documents and not copying them, which seems so fucking stupid and really rubs me the wrong way. I hope there’s a trick up someone’s sleeve to fix it. It seems like such a convenient cop out to the real outcomes of discovering such information. What’s the point of discovering it and bringing it into this tale, if we don’t get to see the fallout from it? Then there’s a moment where something get left on a porch to miraculously cease to exist once the characters placed it down. The object served it’s purpose and if it was still on the porch, it would have to be moved or something. Yet it’s never mentioned Yeah, not cool for the writers to just conveniently drop it off in a black hole. I’m sure the cast of characters would be interested in that black hole, that’s for sure. They may step in it. This incident of the evaporating instrument is the only time I’ve noticed this kind of thing in City of Dark Magic but still...boo! While everything is left hanging, I do have worries about how the toenail thing is going to be explained. I'm actually really worried how all if it will unfold in the next book. View all my reviews
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[Review] Elemental by Antony John: An Ambivalent 3 Star YA "Dystopian"

I was all over the place with this one. There was a mix of the successful, acceptable, so-so, and lousy.

Elemental felt like I would’ve, should’ve like it better, but couldn't. My hopes remain so close, yet so far. When deciding a rating, it wobbled between 2 1/2 stars and 3. I went with the higher rating for benefit of the doubt and because I'm still hoping the next book, Firebrand will give me what I want.

In the end, I will say that it was a fast paced, action-oriented read and enjoyable depending on what your preferences are. It worked as the first book in a trilogy setting up, and drawing in while holding its own as a story.

I will be reading Firebrand to find out what happens next but without a burning need to read it right now, I don't know when I'll get to it. Hopefully, it recovers, strengthens, and clarifies to meets the high expectations I had for Elemental. It’s good enough with plenty to discuss, though it's not all pleasant. Most specifics are spoilers though, so that will be far down below behind tags.

Cover with a ship approaching a stormy beach with an elaborate symbol in the top middle beneath the title Elemental in gold lettering
Genre: "Dystopian", Paranormal, Action/Advnture, Romance
Age: YA
Format: Hardcover, 320 pgs.
Published: Nov. 21st, 2012
Source: Won,Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing.
Rating: Wobbly 3 Stars
Recommendable? Conditionally
A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future . . .

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe.

In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine.
Young Adult IconAction/Adventure IconApocalypse IconDystopian IconparanormalInsta-Love IconMixed Bag IconCover Love

Pros Cons
Cover Love! It's what drew me to Elemental in the first place
Loved the premise and world World-building felt haphazard, not enough to start and patched as it goes along. Not enough for me
Fast paced and tons of action Struggled to get immersed and imagine the world at first; perhaps a forward or more information up front would've helped
Two favorite characters Didn't care for most characters: unable to connect and they fell flat, including Thom, the main character
Solid groundwork for a paranormal beach colony Dystopian doesn't show up as a possibility until the end, even so it might be better as a post-apocalyptic

The concept, the cover, the premise, and the world sound great and have a good basis. The problem comes in with what was lacking, mainly follow through. 

Characters were okay, only fell in love with two and neither was the main character. It was hard to connect with almost all of them. The pacing was fast but considering my other issues, slowing down or including a forward would've been preferred; something to set up what the colony and its people were like under everyday circumstances. I think that would've solved some problems, including forming a better connection. For instance... 

 The beginning was a struggle. It wasn't what I expected and it was hard to keep every one and thing straight. I wish there was a reference in the back to assist. There’s the saying about not introducing a lot of characters in the start of the book and skipping to the move might've been to alleviate some confusion by narrowing the focus but it didn’t help me.

It’s hard to get a handle on who these characters are, their relationships, their dynamics and what their baseline is, when we get told things about them in the beginning and the rest is spent showing the opposite. "He's always calm" yet he's freaking out over something the whole time, for a hypothetical example. It felt so topsy-turvy. There really is a lot going on here, and it maybe just too much to push into one book so quickly. 

 As for the writing, it wasn't bad but it felt like telling not showing. I went flipping back for an example, but couldn’t pinpoint anything. Maybe it was not being connected or having so much shoved at me in a short period.  It’s action-oriented so there’s the movie style factor, which I kept picturing as in the Pirates of the Caribbean. Though the only similarities are the pirates and ships. 

 With more of a Swiss Family Robinson than a dystopian feel for me, it was mostly confusion and disappointment at first. The only time it moved towards the latter is when Thom was trying to figure out everyday things from 'the before'. Of course, not necessarily dystopian, aliens would have the same reaction. The Plague talk is certainly post-apocalyptic but that's not the same thing--hint:government--and it didn't land with any impact anyways. 

 It should've garnered a reaction, but instead I felt like a neutral observer to another planet's problems. (Maybe I’m the alien here.) I think that comes from the kid's own inability to grasp how far widespread and devastating this event was. I think (hope) this will be amped up with the next book, Firebrand, especially due to the ending reveal and subsequent questions. 

Otherwise, it was a paranormal group of people with magical powers stranded on a island. Which isn't a bad thing, just not what I was expecting. 

 More Specifically: *Spoilers Below* 

 I keep it vague as I can in the beginning and hide true spoilers behind tags. But the only way to dig in is discuss in detail so.... If the spoiler tags don't work (on your device, RSS, Feedly, etc.,), let me know.


  • Thom: I like him generally because he's a rather general boy like a placeholder to put yourself in the story, rather than a fully fleshed out person. I wasn't attached to him in anyway. He's very wobbly, like a baby calf standing up after being born. I’m sure he’ll get it eventually, just not really a fan of his in Elemental.

    The only reaction to him I had was wanting to smack him for 50 pages due to whining about never again being touched or loved, when he could have just realized, “I’ll ask [person who would clearly know the answers] so it's not hopeless!” Even if Thom's would-be mentor was dead or is going to die, Thom could’ve showed some gusto by becoming determined to figure it out and standing up for himself.

    Instead he continued the pattern of self-hate and self-pity. A boy feeling emotions isn't the problem, I'd hate a teenage girl whining about the same thing when it's clearly wrong, if they'd think for a second.

    Then there’s the  pathetic excuse of a love triangle. Oy.
  • Rose: Mostly defined as quite, meek, and shy. And by Thom’s attraction to her, which is superficial. He keeps saying "She's SO Pretty! She’s always pretty! Look at her hair and her skin and her face."  I wanted to start calling her Pretty Polly Pockets, after all they are both pretty blondes and need someone to move them around.

    The personality is where? Oh, she's apparently really nice but I don't know about all that. I’ve been told that countless times but have yet to see it. She's mumbled about "my father shouldn't say those mean things..." and "you're special too..." but what about actually about being NICE?

    She helps who she likes, when she wants but I don’t see her jumping to save Alice or being nice to Griffin. She decides to become her own person later in the book but it was so little, so late it didn’t really have an impact on me. She isn’t really active or payed much attention to, except for being leered at by Thom, so that’s a factor. Hopefully in the next book she’ll make more of an impression.
  • Alice: My favorite. She felt like a full character with her rebellious, spitfire personality. She's active and uses her strengths. Her motivations, and her reasonings are clear. There’s a standout moment at the fire where she stands up for herself and calls out Thom. It really showed who she was and how she felt. Of course, Thom’s like "I didn't think [it] had anything to do with [spoiler] me." Stupid, stupid Thom. And he’s supposedly observant? *snort* Anyways...
  • Griffin: My other favorite. He feels solid and compelling. There were so many moments and actions that showed who he was: strong, compassionate, talented and smart. I don’t know if I just liked him, or removing the ability of using (often) long sentences made it impossible to tell Griffin.  Maybe it was that he and Alice were different and stood out while Thom and Rose were bland. Maybe it was that Alice and Griffin struggled and overcame, while Thom and Rose wallowed or did nothing. Whatever it was,  it worked well for Griffin and Alice, not so much for Thom and Rose.

The Love Triangle:

I get why there’s a love triangle seeing as how they are a small isolated community. There’s limited options. However, it doesn’t work for me because of personalities, lack of connection and obviously skipping over other people. 

 I get why Alice likes Thom, and that Thom thinks Rose is the prettiest girl ever. However, I don’t get why Rose is into Thom besides being pushed together by parental figures (doesn't that usually cause rebellion?) and not having another option. When Rose finally showed some character, I was miffed at Thom’s dislike of her progression beyond convenient floral decoration. They don't line up and what's connecting them is shallow. 

 Then there's Thom's flip-flopping towards Alice. They're mainly friends, which is cool. But "more" only came when she was willing to touch him simply because she was willing. Settling for the better character because of desperation was irritating. Either appreciate her and return the feelings or fuck off. Then he goes back to drooling over Rose while bellyaching over how torn he is between the two. 

 It was all weaksauce. It makes me wish Rose was the nice, caring person she’s supposed to be and all of them realizing Griffin is a person too. He can communicate and contribute. It’s frustrating how he's written off. Alice and Griffin were my two favorites yet no one else seems to grasp their greatness. A Rose and Griffin couple and a Thom and Alice couple seems far more interesting a development. 

 Since hey, if the seer mom could be with someone, why can’t Griffin? It would mean not just more developing romantic relationships but throw a stick into the guardians design and cause more than just 'brotherly love all the time' between Thom and Griffon. Character development, growth, and conflict all by changing up the love coupling. 

 Thom would have to get over being shallow and be happy for his brother. He'd start sticking up for himself as well, if he'd follow Alice's advice. I see more compatibility between him and Alice honestly. Thom has anger but suppresses it and turns it inwards, where Alice turns it towards those that cause it. They both have the rebellious tendencies and great cause to upset the balance. They've also been friends despite the odds with more in common. 

 Rose would progress as well by willing to stick up for someone who needs it, not being a judgemental jerk, and defying the colony. Griffin is the kind and gentle yet ‘don’t mess with my family’ type that seems to flow more with Rose’s shy, quiet type. Of course, Griffin with Alice and Thom with Rose could work as well, though I think it’ll take more work.  And it'd have to be done extremely well for me to believe, let alone cheer for, all things considered. *sigh* 

But there’s this wobbly, weak, forced, stereotypical in every-YA- book- around -now (and I’m sick of this) love triangle instead. 

 It's the least attractive, most annoying and disappointing aspect of the book. I can deal with just enjoying the ride and not getting attached to most of the characters. I can deal with the struggling in the beginning. I can deal with relationships not working out how I see it and terrible people I’m suppose to like. However, this poor showing of an overused trope in a book I had such high hopes for was too much, especially on top of everything else.

Other Random Things with My Reaction and Reasoning:



Good 3 stars
I did say this was a wobbly 3 stars at first and that is still true. It's a good story but it wasn't fully enjoyable because of how disconnected I was and how downright annoying two major players became. But I don't regret reading and have hope for the sequel, Firebrand.

Recommended For:
YA lovers who want fast-paces movie-style action, a male narrator, aren't picky or have expectations for dystopian or post apocalyptic standards, if you don't mind love triangles at all the wrong angles, and are willing to wait to get to the good stuff.
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The List: Get On It

Brooke Banks | 10:37 PM | | Please comment!
 I've answered the call to get on The List, and I hope you'll jump on this great opporunity as well. Here's the promo:

Calling all bloggers!
Calling all bloggers!
Entangled needs you! *points at you*
Be part of The List.
Here's what you need to know:
One of my awesome publicists at Entangled is compiling a list of bloggers.

 Here are the requirements: Do you have a blog? Do you love to review books? Do you want access to books before they release? If your answers to these questions is a resounding "YES" then you're the right blogger for the job. We want you! Now's a great time to join The List. If you want to be a part of The List, go to Kate's Blog to sign up.
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ARC Review: The Colony: A Novel

The Colony: A Novel The Colony: A Novel  {Amazon}
by A.J. Colucci {Website}
Paperback, 304 pages
Published: November 13th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Goodreads First Reads Giveaway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A series of gruesome attacks have been sweeping New York City. A teacher in Harlem and two sanitation workers on Wall Street are found dead, their swollen bodies nearly dissolved from the inside out. The predator is a deadly supercolony of ants--an army of one trillion soldiers with razor-sharp claws that pierce skin like paper and stinging venom that liquefies its prey.  The desperate mayor turns to the greatest ant expert in the world, Paul O’Keefe, a Pulitzer Prize–winning scientist in an Armani suit. But Paul is baffled by the ants. They are twice the size of any normal ant and have no recognizable DNA. They’re vicious in the field yet docile in the hand. Paul calls on the one person he knows can help destroy the colony, his ex-wife Kendra Hart, a spirited entomologist studying fire ants in the New Mexico desert. Kendra is taken to a secret underground bunker in New York City, where she finds herself working side by side with her brilliant but arrogant ex-husband and a high-ranking military officer hell-bent on stopping the insects with a nuclear bomb.When the ants launch an all-out attack, Paul and Kendra hit the dangerous, panic-stricken streets of New York, searching for a coveted queen. It’s a race to unlock the secrets of an indestructible new species, before the president nukes Manhattan. A.J. Colucci's debut novel is a terrifying mix of classic Michael Crichton and Stephen King. A thriller with the highest stakes and the most fascinating science, The Colony does for ants what Jaws did for sharks.


Weaponized ants. Government secrets. A panicked, dying public.

And the scientists who can save them.

It's a sci-fi thriller that’s more Hollywood than pulp fiction. To me it’s more Michael Crichton than Stephen King because I wasn’t afraid to sleep or wondering what sick mind came up with this nightmare.
My list of things to kill without mercy and to the very last one:
1.) Bed bugs
has now grown to include:
2.) Some species of ants

I wasn’t scared of ants before or after reading. However, I wasn’t aware of just how much damage fire ants were causing, which is a growing problem and actually threatening to our way of life.
The opening was really enthralling. Then I started seeing how it was going to go and interest waned. It really picks up again after 100 or so pages for me, making a great ride to the end; where instead of racing off the cliff into glory, it sputters and stalls in an anti-climatic huff.
I didn't have a problem with the dialogue or the writing. It’s just Hollywood style. Of course, I can see how that’s an issue for some people or not their style. There’s not much depth, except what you can imagine seeing as flashbacks and information nuggets in dialogue like they do in movies. Usually, I’m all about character depth but this book works. It is what it is - an enjoyable, short, entertaining movie-like read. Best used as a guilty pleasure, simple escape for a couple of hours. Not really a must read or must own but I don’t think you’ll regret borrowing it or buying it on sale. It’s not bad, just average. Nothing really stand out or outstanding here.
I do not like love triangles. This one actually didn't bother me for a couple of reasons. The love triangle isn't played up or or drawn out. It’s relatively minor and felt more like a backstory/history to me than a current tug-O-war. It makes sense because how many myrmecologists are there? Entomological Society of America for entomologist and people in related disciplines only has more than 6,000 members and myrmecology is just one sect of insect specialists. So if you’re looking for a partner that shares your field, there isn’t that many to choose from. (Of course a similar argument could be made regarding high school love triangles but the difference is those come off as way more childish and melodramatic to me.)
I liked how it talked about the science. I'm the type to question and call bullshit if something smells fishy. I literally stop to fact check. All the time. (I also stop movies to talk about things that just happened) This novice layman fact checker is happy. It worked for me. Of course, I'd be interested in what an actual scientist says on the matter but for the general public I don't think the science is too out there or too hard to understand.
Yelling for most of the book (like I yell at the TV) until the end,
"About fucking time!"
“Kill them alllllllllllllllllll.”
"Wait, what? Huh? Ooh. Okayyyyy."

Entertaining but not really fear inducing for me. Certainly got reactions from me through. Not really sure how I feel about the character ending. Seemed rather pathetic, after all they go through. I wanted more vengeance than information digging. I wanted to follow Kendra as her company took off and replaced the pest companies. I wanted to cheer for her as she dominates her field, “Yeah, you show them! Let ‘em choke on it!” and instead got the sappy, rom-con happily ever after ending. Kinda took the wind out of my sails.
Of course, the driving off into the sunset would make a beautiful cinematic ending.
View all my reviews
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Blog Tour: Review of The Look of Love

Brooke Banks | 12:37 PM | | | | | 1 Comments

Edition: Kindle, 201 pages
Published June 13th 2011 (first published January 1st 2011) 
Source: Novel Publicity gave me a copy for review. 
With THE LOOK OF LOVE, bestselling author Bella Andre introduces you the Sullivan family. In this fun and emotional contemporary romance series, when a Sullivan bad boy falls...he falls hard. And it's forever.

Chloe Peterson is having a bad night. A really bad night. The large bruise on her cheek can attest to that. And when her car skids off the side of a wet country road straight into a ditch, she’s convinced even the gorgeous guy who rescues her in the middle of the rain storm must be too good to be true. Or is he?

As a successful photographer who frequently travels around the world, Chase Sullivan has his pick of beautiful women, and whenever he’s home in San Francisco, one of his seven siblings is usually up for causing a little fun trouble. Chase thinks his life is great just as it is—until the night he finds Chloe and her totaled car on the side of the road in Napa Valley. Not only has he never met anyone so lovely, both inside and out, but he quickly realizes she has much bigger problems than her damaged car. Soon, he is willing to move mountains to love—and protect—her, but will she let him?

Chloe vows never to make the mistake of trusting a man again. Only, with every loving look Chase gives her—and every sinfully sweet caress—as the attraction between them sparks and sizzles, she can’t help but wonder if she’s met the only exception. And although Chase didn’t realize his life was going to change forever in an instant, amazingly, he isn’t the least bit interested in fighting that change. Instead, he’s gearing up for a different fight altogether…for Chloe’s heart.


3 stars
3 stars
I’m someone who likes to dip my toes in this genre occasionally, though I'm not a die hard fan and this isn’t my go-to genre but I'm not a hater or someone who detests it either. I'm really excited to be apart of this blog tour and read these books because it's been so long since I've sunk my teeth into this kind of read. I tend to cycle through every genre so I don’t become bored and I’m in the mood for a read that is graphic. Graphic, as opposed to non-graphic aka “clean” reads. This book is short and it's rather obvious where it's going to go before I even started reading. Below there is some spoilers because I didn't know how else to review this book.

(FYI: I hate the term “clean” for novels that don’t go into details for sex, drugs, etc. Often there’s mention two people have or had sex, but to talk about it makes a book “dirty”. I don’t find sex to be dirty. Messy and sweaty, yes. Dirty, and unclean, no. There’s huge “unclean” religious baggage with those words.  I’m a sex-positive feminist and it irritates me how people disparage books that talk about sex. I too fall into calling a book “clean” because everyone knows what that means, but I hate doing that and am resolved to make an effort to stop.  )


There was some actions by Chase in the beginning to be over the line and his justification of them is stupidly poor (what couldn’t put her in a motel and give her a couple thousand dollars to get out of there?), but he really stepped back a lot. Those first moments have to be forgiven for the story to unfurl. I LOVE how he stopped the sex because Chloe was drunk. I liked all the characters well enough, especially Chloe. I liked watching Chloe blossom, even though I had my issues with completely buying into it. I mean, I bought Chloe as a full person and if the story took longer, I’d have no problem believing it either. I found myself really intrigued by Marcus and wanting to read his story, which is the next book in the series. His story has the instant love but without the baggage of a previously abusive and controlling relationship so I have a feeling I’m going to be into that story a bit more.

Of course, it's cheesy and corny and ridiculously sweet. Like dessert nachos. (Mmmmm.*drool*) There's references to this abundance throughout the novel as Chloe tries to deal with a fairy tale happening. Everyone's taste level for this sort of thing is different. For me, the kind of cynic that clowns around with friends making fun of bad rom cons (when they are bad, they are bad), it strode the line at times but ultimately didn't become a problem for me. For the average romance reader, I don’t think it will be a problem either. The only other thing about the writing is that there is lots of repeating words. I mean besides the nicknames, the codewords and all that, which all have reasons for being repeated,the word choice outside of these incidents is rather stagnant. (Of course, I do tons of repeating myself in writing but then again, I’m not a bestselling author. ;) )

I'm more happy with the how it talks about the man submitting, which is usually so taboo. Then there's masturbation by women which is also usually taboo.
There's a LOT of it - romanticized perfect sex of course. Yes, it's a romance book and everybody knows the sex is impossible (for the vast majority of people anyways). However, this idea that if you're abused in a relationship, the reason why you can't be tied up is due to you not fully trusting your partner is not always right. Now Chloe's was mostly emotional/psychological with one instance of violence so far. But as an abuse and rape survivor myself, this is just not usually true. I'm sure everyone is mumbling "well, duh" right now. However, after talking with other survivors and dealing with this issue myself, it's not universally understood. The assumption that enough time, trust or love magically removes such issues is pervasive and unfortunately, that's not how it always works. Often the triggering of horrifici memories is so strong it is physically impossible to partake in such activities - even if that's what turn them on before. Even after years and years. True Story.

If you can suspend disbelief enough to accept true never ending love in 4 days (that actually occurs at first sight natch), that someone can overcome trust and abuse issues so quickly then yeah, it's perfect. As someone who's been abused and knows/known plenty of other survivors, it did rub me the wrong way a bit.  I just don't really see it happening.  Of course, there are others I've known that have done this kind of thing for a bunch of different reasons. Which makes it tricky, so just a warning for those that don't want to fight against memories/experiences popping up while trying to enjoy a relaxing steamy read.

In end, I found it to be an enjoyable titillating rom-con romp. Easily readable, and a quick read at that. It only took me a couple of hours to put away. However, there were a few things that kept this book back for me, hence the three stars. One thing was the writing - that strode the line of too much cheesy & cutesy (though never going over for me) with the repeating words/phrases and the other two are simply personal - not buying love at first sight and my experience/actions of an abuse survivor.

The good news is while I found this an solidly average and recommendable book, there's 6 others in this series. All with their own style of falling in love and backstory so I'm hoping to fall head first (causing 5 stars to appear) for one of them.

As far as reading and reviewing the rest of the series for the blog tour, which ends the 20th, I’ve unfortunately hit a snag. My family and I came down with another round of sickness, which is the reason I was in delayed in writing and posting this review. I still plan on reading and reviewing the others, and I wish I could have done them in the timeframe but, well, life happens. I'm still hoping to get another one done before it end, but again, we'll see how it works out.
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Blog Tour: Fall in Love with The Sullivans + Giveaway

Brooke Banks | 3:48 PM | | | 2 Comments
Today is the first day of the blog tour for The Sullivan Series by Bella Andre. Come back for more posts, including my reviews for the books!

Reader Interview

Please enjoy this interview with Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the contemporary romance series, The Sullivans. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards!

Interview with Bella Andre

about her best-selling series, The Sullivans

1. You create characters beautifully and are an absolute master of plot twists. It seems like you could write in almost any genre and do a bang-up job of it. What made you decide to devote your efforts to the romance genre in particular?

Thank you so much for the compliments! I’ve always been a huge romance fan – I’ve been reading nearly a book a day since I was a teenager – so it was a natural fit for me when the characters starting appearing in my head one day. :)

2. How did the idea for this interconnected contemporary romance series first come to you? What was your inspiration?

I love the family series that have always been popular in historical romance – like Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series and Nora Roberts’s MacGregors – and I was also inspired by my husband’s large family. It seemed like a natural fit to combine the funny and sweet family dynamics into an overarching series of sexy contemporary romances with the alpha heroes that I love so much.

3. Everyone seems to have a favorite Sullivan. Now I know this is like asking you to choose between your own children, but who is your favorite? And who’s most like you?

I’ll have to plead the fifth and pick Mary Sullivan – the family matriarch – as my favorite Sullivan. She’s the heart that keeps the family together and I get emotional whenever I write a scene with her. In fact, in COME A LITTLE BIT CLOSER (Smith Sullivan’s story), the scene where he calls his mother to ask for love advice is one that so many readers have told me is their absolute favorite scene in any Sullivan book.
As for who is most like me – maybe Sophie Sullivan from I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU. She loves to read (and is a librarian) and when she wants something (in her case: bad boy Jake McCann), she goes for it! Of course, I’m also a lot like Lori Sullivan (aka “Naughty”) with her big mouth and constant laughter.

4. In your opinion, what ingredients are needed to make up a good love story? Is life the same as fiction in this respect? Why or why not?

I love to love my characters and when I write a story I need two heroic, nice, good people (and why not gorgeous, too?!) who deserve love and have a lot of love to offer in return, but who are flawed partially because they haven’t found that perfect someone who complements them like no other. I like my fiction to be a little bigger than life – the Sullivans are extraordinarily hot, sensitive and attentive – but at their heart, they’re all very real.

5. How has your own love story with your husband informed the Sullivan series? Are there any scenes that are directly taken from your own life?

I have the best husband in the entire world. Sweet, loving, sensitive…and super hot! He’s always supported me in everything I’ve ever done and I think his strength and capability to love is at the core of every hero I write.
With that said, none of the scenes are ever taken directly from my own life. I have a very active imagination. :)

6. Let’s pretend for a second that you are a single woman living in the world of the Sullivans, which of the six brothers would you be most likely to fall in love with and why?

Ohhhh, now THAT is a fun fantasy! I would fall in love with each and every single one of them – and do, while I’m writing each of their stories! If I had to pick one, I might have my eye on Marcus (FROM THIS MOMENT ON) – because while all of my Sullivans are sweet, sexy and sensitive – Marcus is the only one with his own endless supply of wine from his winery. And there’s just something about the oldest brother…. Then again, Zach Sullivan is such a great combination of cocky and sweet. And Ryan Sullivan has all those muscles. And Gabe is such a hero as a firefighter (and I love his dirty talking between the sheets). And Chase is so sexy and protective. And then there’s Jake McCann (who falls in love with Sophie Sullivan) with his tattoos and big muscles. Not to mention Lori’s hero in the upcoming ALWAYS ON MY MIND which will be out this spring. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Lori’s hero just might be the hottest hero I’ve ever written.
See, what did I tell you earlier? I’m no good at picking just one. So let’s just say, yet again, ALL OF THEM!

7. The Sullivans and their beaux have some pretty interesting careers. From photographers and sculptors to professional actors, musicians and ball players all the way to firefighters, librarians and business owners, they lead very exciting lives! What type of research did you have to do to capture these jobs so well? Do you have any interesting research anecdotes to share?

I’ve written firefighters and athletes in previous series which helped with my firefighter, Gabe (CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE) and my baseball player, Ryan (LET ME BE THE ONE). I also live in Sonoma and have a lot of experience with wine and wineries which was ideal for winery owner Marcus (FROM THIS MOMENT ON) and as a writer I’ve been blessed to work with many librarians who served as information points for Sophie (I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU.)
For books where I need inspiration, the internet has been amazing and when needed, I also call on the help of professionals. Even though I’d written firefighters before, I still sent all my firefighting scenes to a professional and for Smith’s book (COME A LITTLE BIT CLOSER) I sent all the acting-set sequences to a local film producer.

8. I was very touched by the inclusion of Yorkie puppy, Cuddles, and Great Dane rescue, Atlas, in book five, If You Were Mine. Are you a dog person yourself? If you have pets, I’d love to know more about them!

I *love* animals. I had the best time writing the two dogs in IF YOU WERE MINE. They had their own little love story in that book, which pleased me to no end. There’s a cat that plays a very important role in ALWAYS ON MY MIND (Lori Sullivan’s story, coming Spring 2013). My whole family loves animals, and we’ve recently adopted a beautiful cat. Or more accurately, the cat has adopted us, smart little minx.

9. The Sullivan series is currently seven volumes long. How many more books do you have planned, and which other family members will get the spotlight in their own books?

Lori’s book (ALWAYS ON MY MIND) is up next, and there are 5 Seattle Sullivans who are ready for love – I will start with Rafe Sullivan’s book this summer! Plus, I have something *very* special planned for Mary Sullivan, their mother, planned to release for the holidays in 2013.

10. And lastly (for a bit of random fun), what has been the most amazing/ touching/ validating interaction you’ve had with a fan of your books?

Everyone who has ever written to me on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads or via email to tell me how much they love my books and that the Sullivans have moved them in some way has touched me. I love my fans, so, so much! I have the very best time in the world writing about my Sullivans… and knowing that I have so many absolutely wonderful people waiting to read them as soon as they’re released is a total thrill every single day.
The Sullivans are on tour with Novel Publicity. Follow along for your chance to win amazing prizes. We’ve got special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards. WOW!
You’ll also get introduced to this amazing contemporary romance series via excerpts as well as interviews with and guest posts from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Bella Andre. You’ll definitely want to learn more about the family that has captured the world’s heart.
All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To Win the Prizes:
  1. Purchase any of the Sullivan ebooks by Bella Andre for just $4.99 (optional)
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity (go here)
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event (that’s where the HUGE prizes are)
About The SullivansIn this sexy, emotional and funny contemporary romance series, each member of the Sullivan family will eventually find true love…usually where he or she least expects it.
Get the eBooks via Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes & Noblethe iBookStore, or the Kobo Store.
Audiobooks are also available for the first five in the series (with more coming soon). Plus, keep an eye out for paperback editions coming from Harlequin Romance starting Summer 2013.
All Sullivan Covers
Bella Andre_1About the Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre has always been a writer. Songs came first, and then non-fiction books, but as soon as she started writing her first romance novel, she knew she’d found her perfect career. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly) about sizzling alpha heroes and the strong women they’ll love forever, nearly all of her novels have appeared on Top 10 lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.
Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She has given the keynote speech at Book Expo America on her self-publishing success and has sold more than one million books.
If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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ARC Review: Fever by Mary Beth Keane

Brooke Banks | 4:06 PM | | | | | | 2 Comments

Fever: A Novel

Genre: Historical Fiction (Adult)
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 12th 2013 by Scribner
A bold, mesmerizing novel about the woman known as “Typhoid Mary,” the first known healthy carrier of typhoid fever in the early twentieth century—by an award-winning writer chosen as one of “5 Under 35” by the National Book Foundation. Mary Mallon was a courageous, headstrong Irish immigrant woman who bravely came to America alone, fought hard to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic service ladder, and discovered in herself an uncanny, and coveted, talent for cooking. Working in the kitchens of the upper class, she left a trail of disease in her wake, until one enterprising and ruthless “medical engineer” proposed the inconceivable notion of the “asymptomatic carrier”—and from then on Mary Mallon was a hunted woman.

In order to keep New York’s citizens safe from Mallon, the Department of Health sent her to North Brother Island where she was kept in isolation from 1907-1910. She was released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary—spoiled by her status and income and genuinely passionate about cooking—most domestic and factory jobs were heinous. She defied the edict.

Bringing early twentieth-century New York alive—the neighborhoods, the bars, the park being carved out of upper Manhattan, the emerging skyscrapers, the boat traffic—Fever is as fiercely compelling as Typhoid Mary herself, an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life. In the hands of Mary Beth Keane, Mary Mallon becomes an extraordinarily dramatic, vexing, sympathetic, uncompromising, and unforgettable character.

FYI: I won a copy through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.


4 Stars

Recommend: For historical fiction fans, those interested in the human side of science and disease and contemporary fans may find something here to like as well

I remember learning about Typhoid Mary in school. We learned about Typhoid, asymptomatic carriers and the victims of renegade, heartless Mary. When I made the mistake of commenting on how awful it must have been for Mary, the room sat in silence and everyone stared at me. Like something was wrong with me for thinking about Mary as a person, for thinking I could sympathize with Typhoid victims and with the carrier too. After a beat, the teacher picked up with, "Well, yes...The Department of Health handles things differently now, but you must understand what they were dealing with."

All I can think of was, "Don't you mean who?"

That moment cemented the story of Typhoid Mary in my mind.

This book, this story, this Mary makes me want to track  down those in my class and send them a copy of this book to say, "SEE, I wasn't stupid.".

I think starting with Mary's first experience in confinement was smart.
After all that's where her story starts, where she becomes more than just one of the thousands of nameless, faceless immigrant women. Plus I think it sets up the story well so people understand just why she wasn't especially willing to be receptive or friendly to the doctors.

I like this portrayal of Mary. She is  a no nonsense, hard working independent woman that didn't back down. She's uppity and she doesn't care what other people think. She wasn't all smiles and sunshine normally because her life wasn't all smiles and sunshine. And there's nothing wrong with that.

From beginning to end, I was rooting for her. I wanted her to find a way to live her life happily and without risk to others. I wasn't frustrated with her. I just wanted to re-write history for her (and the people she ended up hurting) but that's not possible. I didn't have a negative reaction to her. I just kept saying, "oh, no." I was completely wrapped up in Mary's tale and the descriptive, flowing writing. Even without knowing the story of Typhoid Mary, it's obvious how it is going to end. The story weaved is still entrancing.

The key to understanding Mary is common. It's easy to see in others but hard to see ourselves doing it. The illuminating quote,
"she wondered whether it was possible for a person to know something and to not know something at the same time."

Ah, cognitive dissonance. Of course it's possible. Everybody does it. Cognitive dissonance wasn't even theorized until 20 years after Mary's death.

For more understanding Mary and as far as her fury is concerned...I must say I'm with Mary that a man would've been treated much differently as the first carrier and much, if not all, of her poor treatment comes from what she was (single immigrant non religious woman) than her actual personality. I totally understand that being infuriating. I felt fury for her. It’s absolutely chilling to be put in her shoes.
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