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Blog has been closed

>>Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hi all,
I've discontinued my blog and no longer own the domain. I do have this blog and will leave it up for reference.

Sorry for anyone linking, I thought I had the domain longer than I did.

I might reopen another blog, under another name, and will let you all know.



In My Mailbox #28

Welcome to another edition of In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren! I went shopping yesterday and that always means I come home with a book or two or five. I am in the mood for some science fiction and I can't go wrong with these authors!


Bellwether by Connie Willis
Willis is one of my favourite scifi writers so I naturally picked one by her!

From Goodreads:
Pop culture, chaos theory and matters of the heart collide in this unique novella from the Hugo and Nebula winning author of Doomsday Book.
Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennet O'Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions.

Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress
Another author I enjoy, I have a review coming up later today of her latest novel!

From Goodreads:
The aliens appeared one day, built a base on the moon, and put an ad on the internet:

“We are an alien race you may call the Atoners. Ten thousand years ago we wronged humanity profoundly. We cannot undo what has been done, but we wish humanity to understand it. Therefore we request twenty-one volunteers to visit seven planets to Witness for us. We will convey each volunteer there and back in complete safety. Volunteers must speak English. Send requests for electronic applications to witness@Atoners.com."

At first, everyone thought it was a joke. But it wasn’t.

This is the story of three of those volunteers, and what they found on Kular A and Kular B.


Waiting on Wednesday: Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith

>>Thursday, March 29, 2012

Welcome back to another installment of Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Breaking the Spine. Sorry for the late post! Here's a new release from Smith, the author of Crown Duel which I read and loved. Love the cover for this one as well!

Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Publisher: DAW

From Goodreads:
Princess Lasva is about to be named heir to her childless sister, the queen. But, when the queen finally bears an heir, Lasva's future is shattered. Grief-stricken, she leaves her country of Colend and falls into the arms of Prince Ivandred of Marloven Hesea. His people are utterly different-with their expertise in riding, weaponry, and magic- and the two soon marry.

When the sensational news makes its way to Lasva's sister, the queen worries for Lasva at the hands of the Marlovens, whose king's mage is in league with the magical land of Norsunder-considered by Colendi to be their enemy. The queen orders Emras, a scribe, to guard Lasva. But it may be too late-Lasva is already deeply involved with the Marlovens and their magic. War wages on, and all are forced to redefine love, loyalty, and power...


Attention GFC Followers!

>>Monday, March 26, 2012

Hey everyone! Recently Google Friend Connect has gone Blogger-only which doesn't make much difference for me since this is a Blogger blog. However, I think it's only a matter of time before Google eliminates GFC entirely.

Also, I'm going to be switching over to Wordpress sometime in the near future and I don't want you awesome followers to lose your feed. I'm asking you to please change the way you follow to my Feedburner RSS feed. It's super easy:

1. Click on my feed link here.
2. Under "Subscribe Now" chose the way you prefer to read my posts.
3. If it's Google Reader, click the Google button and then select "Add to Google Reader."

I'll be making another announcement when I finally switch over to to Wordpress, but I thought I'd give you guys plenty of time to switch over.



Review: Wide Open by Deborah Coates

>>Saturday, March 24, 2012

Title: Wide Open
Author: Deborah Coates
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Publication Date: March 13th, 2012
Publisher: Tor Books
Rating: 8.5

From Goodreads: When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave, her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie doesn't believe it. Something happened or Dell's ghost wouldn't still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell's loss, think Hallie's letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn't have to.

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone's trying to beat her up, burn down her father's ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie's going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.

Why did I read this book? I've been wanting to read a good atmospheric paranormal fantasy novel for a while and this seemed like a good choice.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

My Review
This is Deborah Coates debut novel, set in South Dakota. It centers on Hallie Michaels, a sergeant in the army serving in Afganistan. She travels back home with ten days leave due to her sister’s death. Right from the get-go, Hallie is shown to be a tough, smart and courageous woman who is out to find the real truth about her sister’s death. Everyone is saying it was suicide but Hallie has reason to believe otherwise.

Oh, and she can see ghosts. After dying temporarily while in the field she woke up to find she could see the ghosts of the dead. She can’t communicate with them and can’t always tell what they want, but they are attracted to her and follow her around. One of them is her sister Dell, which probably stirs Hallie to be even more concerned about her death.

Slowly, weird things start to be revealed in her small county, about her sister Dell and her recent activities in a local weather research company. Hallie is guided by the ghosts and her own instincts, leading up to a big reveal.

I read Wide Open in one sitting, which is unusual for me since it takes quite a lot to pry me away from other things that I usually need to do in a day. I loved it and the more I think about the story, the more I think it’s one of my recent favorites. I was very impressed with Coates writing and how she handled the plot. The pacing was excellent; the mystery built up slowly, without those annoying scenes that are inserted to throw the main character off the trail in order to delay the conclusion. I think what helped this is that Hallie has only ten days before she has to go back to Afganistan to solve the mystery of her sister’s death and so the whole book takes place in that time period. Things move fast and while I did eventually guess the answer to the questions Hallie was looking for, there were also some twists concerning other characters that surprised me.

I also thought Coates nailed the setting. Since I tried, and failed, to read Graveminder by Melissa Marr, I’ve wanted to read a creepy, atmospheric contemporary fantasy. It takes place in the rural areas of South Dakota; there are lots of farms, cowboy hats and tractors. Since we see things from Hallie’s point of view, the ghosts are intermingled in her experience of her home and the weight of her sister’s death puts a cloud of darkness over everything. The creepy factor comes across very well.

Lastly I would have to say Hallie herself was an important part of my enjoyment of the story. She’s no no-nonsense, clever, determined, and desperate to find the truth about what happened to her sister. She doesn’t even back down in a bar fight against a few men. I also found her interactions with her old friends and her father to be entirely real; the different ways in which people grieve are deftly handled.

Rating: 8.5
Overall, I would definitely recommend Wide Open. It’s a great contemporary fantasy with a good mystery and a good take on the paranormal. It’s not your usual paranormal fare, with a sweet and unforced romance, and a subtle yet intriguing use of the supernatural. I hope Coates writes more fantasy as I would definitely like to see what she does next.


Guest Post: I Don't Call It Rural Fantasy by Deborah Coates

I'd like to welcome Deborah Coates, author of Wide Open a new paranormal/fantasy novel released this month. Later today you'll get my review of Wide Open, so stay tuned!

I Don't Call It Rural Fantasy

by Deborah Coates

Which is...odd?  I guess?

In the best of all possible worlds, rural fantasy would be the underpopulated equivalent of urban fantasy.   But one of the things I write about are the parts of rural life that don't get touched on much.  Not transplanted New Yorkers or cottages by rivers or mountain folk who live up the hollow.  Those are all fine things to write about, but there's a lot more going on in the rural parts of this country (and I'm pretty certain in the rural parts of lots of other countries) and rural fantasy as a phrase doesn't feel to me as if it describes those other aspects of rural life.

I write about ranchers and farmers, about people who can't get jobs because there aren't any jobs to get, about tractors and ATVs and pickup trucks, about shotguns and hay balers and bison and cattle.  I write about flyover country, about the parts of the USA that people think they know but generally don't.

Did you know that 40% or more of all farmers in the USA are over 55?  That the average age of a farmer in Iowa is 58?  That the price of an acre of land in Iowa in 2011 was $6,708?  The average size of an Iowa farm is 330 acres which means that it would cost approximately (obviously, some acres are worth more than others) 2.2 million dollars just to buy the land for that average farm.

None of that is what many people think of when they think of rural or rural fantasy.  They think of 'Bubba,' of guys with missing teeth, of a woman in a flannel nightgown with a shotgun.  I know that's so because I see those images on the covers of books and I read about them in stories in magazines.  Do I think those people don't exist? Nope.  I know they do.  And frankly if you live in the country, you probably want a shotgun (rabid animals, predators).  But they're a small slice of the diverse people who live and work outside the urban and suburban US.

Are there serious problems in the rural US?  Yes, there are.  But they aren't the whole story and, in addition, many people don't understand what those problems actually are.

So, if I don't call it rural fantasy, what do I call it?  Well, I call it fantasy first.  Wide Open has ghosts.  It has several kinds of magic.  And I call it contemporary.  It is set today.  In our world.  For me, Wide Open is contemporary fantasy set in western South Dakota.

You can call it rural fantasy.  I don't.  Though maybe I should.

In Wide Open, Hallie Michaels comes back to western South Dakota after being gone for four years in the army:

Big Dog’s Auto sat on the western edge of Prairie City, a cornfield directly behind and prairie stretching to the west. The near bay held a red pickup on a lift; the far bay, two motorcycles, a car engine on blocks, multicolored fenders, and the hood from a vintage Thunderbird stacked against the wall. Cars were parked three deep along the side of the shop, two with the hoods raised and one jacked up and the right rear tire removed.

Brett came out of the office to the left of the garage bays while Hallie was rummaging in her duffel, digging out a jacket. The temperature had dropped another five degrees during the twenty-minute drive into Prairie City. The deputy—what had Lorie called him— Davies, was sitting in his car out on the road, like he didn’t have anything else to do, which he probably didn’t, because nothing ever happened in Taylor County. Other than Dell hitting a tree—and where was he then?

“It’s going to be at least two hours,” Brett said. “He’s got to run over to Templeton for a tire.”

“Jesus.” Hallie rubbed her hand across her eye.

“Sorry,” Brett said. She tilted her hat up and stepped back on the heel of her boot. Hallie remembered that Brett liked things to work and to keep on working. Sometimes she convinced herself to ignore things that didn’t fit with what she wanted, like that her car was old and parts wore out. “Lorie’s getting a ride with Jake when he gets off work,” Brett continued, “but that’ll be, like, an hour. Maybe your dad can—”

“I can give you a ride.”

Hallie turned and looked at the deputy, who had approached as she and Brett were talking.

You can follow Deborah Coates on Twitter or Goodreads.


Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

>>Thursday, March 22, 2012

Welcome back to another installment of Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Breaking the Spine.

The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze
Publication Date: May 1st, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown

From Goodreads:
Happily ever after is a thing of the past.
A series of natural disasters has decimated the earth. Cut off from the rest of the world, England is a dark place. The sun rarely shines, food is scarce, and groups of criminals roam the woods, searching for prey. The people are growing restless.
When a ruthless revolutionary sets out to overthrow the crown, he makes the royal family his first target. Blood is shed in Buckingham Palace, and only sixteen-year-old Princess Eliza manages to escape.
Determined to kill the man who destroyed her family, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. She has nothing left to live for but revenge, until she meets someone who helps her remember how to hope--and to love--once more. Now she must risk everything to ensure that she not become... The Last Princess.



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