09.23.15

All Hallows Read 2015

Posted in Event at 10:30 am by Amber

Guess what time of year it is? It’s time for All Hallows Read! And I’m going to celebrate it in style. This year I belong to a book club where we do bookish things on a monthly basis. Each month has a different hostess and the book choices are varied. I won’t post the picture of the books I picked until after the next book club meeting.

All Hallows Read Bat

The poster above was created by Introverted Wife who has made some great posters for this holiday of book giving. Are you celebrating All Hallows Read this year?

09.22.15

Bite Size Book Reviews

Posted in Review at 8:53 am by Amber

Bite Size Book Review

New this year is the Bite Size Book Review. Much smaller than my normal review it answers the three basic questions: Why did I read it? What did I think of it? Who should read it?

I’m hoping it will help me knock out a bunch of reviews between now and the end of the year. The feedback I get is more immediate from people in my neighborhood and book club but hopefully you will find something that appeals to you. Look for the first Bite Size Book Review later this week.

09.21.15

Mailbox Monday – September 21st

Posted in Event at 8:33 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia for originating Mailbox Monday. In this weekly meme you share books which came into your home during the week. I reserved some books at the library this week and heard of some through BookBub.

Here are the books I picked up this week:

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson –

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect that something powerful and ancient will awaken in her and that strange whispers will urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, suddenly there’s a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring, Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly epic coming-of-age.

What Stays in Vegas by Beth Labonte –

Bored administrative assistant, Tessa Golden, is trapped in a life of lousy weather, irritating bosses, and mind-numbing secretarial work. Her dreams of being an artist have rapidly deteriorated into building things out of paperclips while on hold with tech support. To make matters even worse, the love of her life has gone off and married another woman.

So when Tessa is suddenly transferred to the Las Vegas branch of her company – playing wingwoman to her freshly divorced boss, juggling a client-from-hell, and catching the eye of one very eligible coworker – will her life finally be shaken up enough to straighten itself out?

What arrived in your mailbox this week?

09.20.15

Bloggiesta Finish Line

Posted in Event at 9:45 pm by Amber

 

The Bloggiesta Finish Line!

The Bloggiesta Finish Line!

It’s Sunday night and I’m about ready to cross the Bloggiesta Finish Line. Below is the list of goals I created and the progress I made:

  1. Schedule post about my All Hallows Reads plan. Done! Look for that later this week.
  2. Schedule three mini-bite reviews. Done! I wrote them, scheduled them, and even started on a fourth one.
  3. Blogroll Overhaul mini-challenge. Done! I started off with 10 links on my blogroll. Said goodbye to dead link for Coyote Con, removed an author I no longer really follow and added links for Beth Cato, one of my writing friends, and several writer-friendly sites: NaNoLJers, NaNoWriMo and World Weaver Press. I ended up with a total of 12 sites. Additionally I updated my Biography page which hadn’t been updated since 2009.
  4. Update three of my blog templates. While reviewing my templates, it seems I only have two templates. One is for book reviews and the other is for Mailbox Monday. I didn’t update either one.

I had limited time this weekend but managed to participate in two chats and get some things done on my blog. Overall I’m pretty pleased with the time and effort I put into it. I even had a badge created for a new feature on the blog. I hope you’ll like it!

09.18.15

R.I.P. X Challenge

Posted in Event at 11:25 pm by Amber

RIPX Image Courtesy of Abigail Larson

Over the years I’ve seen calls for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge and I finally decided to participate. The logo by Abigail Larson is pretty awesome, isn’t it?

This challenge or event runs from September 1st through October 31st so it’s a short commitment and I plan on a setting a small goal since I’m starting late. It’s not limited to books. You can read short stories or watch movies that fit the theme. This year it’s hosted by The Estella Society and the gist of it is this:

Without further ado, pick your poison, won’t you? September 1st is here, and we’re ready to begin!

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

That is what embodies the stories, written and visual, that we celebrate with the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event.

As time has wound on, we’ve discovered that simple rules are best:

1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others.

The books I’m contemplating reading include:

  • On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Apothecary by Maile Malloy
  • The Scarab Heart by Michael Gallagher
  • The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns

As I mentioned, I’m going to go for a small goal. Peril the Second: Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P. categories.

Peril The Second

Bloggiesta Fall 2015 Starting Line

Posted in Event at 9:10 pm by Amber

Starting Line for Bloggiesta

What exactly is Bloggiesta? It’s been around several years and while the timing has changed, the mini-challenges and events have evolved, the focus of Bloggiest hasn’t changed a bit. It’s about giving your blog some love and attention in ways you may not do often. In the past I’ve setup SEO Keywords on old posts, organized/scheduled posts, generated post ideas, learned how to revitalize old content, prepped for author interviews, updated my WP plugins, typed reviews, and so on.

Each Bloggiesta has mini challenges to inform and give you a chance to put this new knowledge to use. I’ve had a hankering to work on the blog as of late and the timing of Bloggiesta couldn’t be any better.

Here are my goals:

  1. Schedule post about my All Hallows Reads plan.
  2. Schedule three mini-bite reviews.
  3. Blogroll Overhaul mini-challenge.
  4. Update three of my blog templates.

Have you heard of Bloggiesta? Are you participating in it this time around?

07.08.15

A Flock of Shiny Stories!

Posted in Event at 12:06 am by Amber

Do you know what happened today? My friend’s latest anthology, CORVIDAE, was released.

Corvidae book cover

Associated with life and death, disease and luck, corvids have long captured mankind’s attention, showing up in mythology as the companions or manifestations of deities, and starring in stories from Aesop to Poe and beyond.

 

In Corvidae birds are born of blood and pain, trickster ravens live up to their names, magpies take human form, blue jays battle evil forces, and choughs become prisoners of war. These stories will take you to the Great War, research facilities, frozen mountaintops, steam-powered worlds, remote forest homes, and deep into fairy tales. One thing is for certain, after reading this anthology, you’ll never look the same way at the corvid outside your window.

 

Featuring works by Jane Yolen, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, M.L.D. Curelas, Tim Deal, Megan Engelhardt, Megan Fennell, Adria Laycraft, Kat Otis, Michael S. Pack, Sara Puls, Michael M. Rader, Mark Rapacz, Angela Slatter, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Leslie Van Zwol

As a fan of birds and Rhonda, I’m looking forward to reading this collection. Blue jays are not an uncommon sight in my neighborhood, though sightings of Rhonda Parrish are rare. In fact, she has yet to come this far South in her travels.

Corvidae is the second book in the Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries Series. I have to share some of the praise this anthology has received. You’ll notice it’s quite the mixture of professions.

“Smart and dark like the corvids themselves, this excellent collection of stories and poems will bring you a murder of chills, a tiding of intrigue, a band of the fantastic, and—most of all—an unkindness of sleepy mornings after you’ve stayed up too late reading it!”

— Karen Dudley, author of Kraken Bake

 

“Magic and corvids collide in this certain to intrigue anthology.”

— Joshua Klein, hacker and inventor of the crow vending machine

 

“A creepy, crazy kaleidoscope of corvids, Corvidae is what happens when you bring together ingenious writers and sagacious subjects. It’s nothing short of a thrill ride when this anthology takes flight.”

— Susan G. Friedman, Ph. D., Utah State University; behaviorworks.org.

 

“As sparkling and varied as a corvid’s hoard of treasures, Corvidae is by turns playful and somber, menacing and mischievous. From fairy tale to steampunk adventure, from field of war to scene of crime, these magical birds will take you to places beyond your wildest imaginings.”

—  Jennifer Crow, poet and corvid-by-marriage

 

Corvidae evokes the majesty and mischief of corvid mythologies worldwide—and beyond our world—in a collection that is fresh and thoroughly enjoyable.”

— Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger

To learn more about Corvidae visit the official World Weaver Press site.

07.04.15

Mid-Year Check-In

Posted in Status Report at 10:17 pm by Amber

I honestly can’t remember the last time I did a mid-year check-in to report on the books I’ve read and it feels like this would be as good a time as any to start these again. After all, it’s mid-year, right?

I still love to keep track of my books in LibraryThing but I’ve also joined Goodreads. This year I signed up for a 52-book reading challenge. According to the Goodreads statistics I’ve achieved 31% of my goal and I’m 10 books behind where I should be. My reading habits have changed. I used to read almost every day and now I can only grab 10 or 15 minutes a few times a week during lunch. It’s a luxury when I can read for a few hours in the evening or on the weekend.

Below is the list of books read so far in 2015 in no particular order:

  1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  2. Wisconsin Vamp by Scott Burtness
  3. Lock In by John Scalzi
  4. The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
  5. Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel
  6. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
  7. Hellfire & Damnation III by Connie Corcoran Wilson
  8. Assertiveness for Earth Angels: How to be Loving Instead of “Too Nice” by Doreen Virtue
  9. Gwendolen: A Novel by Diana Souhami
  10. White Heat 25 by Marco Pierre White
  11. The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
  12. Balm: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
  13. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  14. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer
  15. Deep Fried and Pickled by Paisley Ray
  16. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Are you participating in any reading challenges or looking to beat the number of books you read last year? I read 62 books in 2011 and haven’t been able to get close since then. The 52 is a stretch for me but I’m certain I can do it. I have a longish commute to work and started listening to audio books to make the trip seem not so long.

03.19.15

Hellfire & Damnation III by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Posted in Review at 8:50 am by Amber

Title: Hellfire & Damnation III
Author: Connie Corcoran Wilson
Publisher: Quad Cities’ Press
Source: The author in exchange for an honest review

Hellfire & Damnation III

As evidenced by the title, this book is the third short story collection in the Hellfire and Damnation series by Connie Corcoran Wilson. The unifying theme for the series is Dante’s nine circles of hell. It’s been a while since I had a chance to read a short story collection and this was a nice change of pace.

The not so good: A few of the stories have abrupt endings as though the author was trying to stay within a word goal. At least one seemed to have excessive repetitiveness which kept jarring me out of the story.

The good: The stories have an element of reality or truth as the starting point. This will give the reader a slight chill of recognition. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of gore and this was perfect to read during my lunch hour. These stories aren’t overly long but aren’t too short either. The characters are varied in ages, backgrounds and circumstances. Some short story collections suffer from similar stories and each has enough differences to set them apart. I’m willing to read more by this author.

Thank you to the author and Virtual Author Book Tours for arranging this stop on the book tour. Tomorrow’s tour stop is at Lisa’s Writopia which will include her own thoughts on this short story collection.

 

About The Author

Award winning author, Connie (Corcoran) Wilson (MS + 30) graduated from the University of Iowa and Western Illinois University, with additional study at Northern Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. She taught writing at six Iowa/Illinois colleges and has written for five newspapers and seven blogs, including Yahoo, which named her its 2008 Content Producer of the Year. She is a member of ITW (International Thriller Writers), where she is a writer for their online newsletter, and a member of IWPA (Illinois Women’s Press Association, Chicago chapter), which awarded her its Silver Feather Award in 2012 and 2014, MWA (Midwest Writers Association), AWP (American Writing Program) and MWC (Midwest Writing Center), which named her its Writer of the Year in 2010. She has won numerous E-Lit awards, a NABE Pinnacle award, an ALMA (American Literary Merit Award), Lucky Cinda competition and two IWPA Silver Feather Awards (2012, 2014). Connie’s third book in “The Color of Evil” series, ‘Khaki=Killer’ was just named a Page-turner of the Year 2014 by “Shelf Unbound” and Writer’s Digest magazine in its December/January 2014-2015 issue!

 

Excerpt from Hellfire & Damnation III

Posted in Event at 8:45 am by Amber

VABT Logo

Connie Corcoran Wilson and Virtual Author Book Tours kindly arranged for me to share an excerpt as part of the book tour for Hellfire & Damnation III. I hope you enjoy it!

Circle Six: Heresy

 

The Final Victim

 

Lee had been drinking since late afternoon. It didn’t so much stop the

pain of the voices in his head, as clarify what the voices were saying.

 

     I’ll do the Reverend’s bidding, to a point, thought Lee. Reverend Jones

says Dave Downing has to die. If God or the devil wants poor old Dave dead,

He must give me some sort of sign. I ain’t no cold-blooded killer!

 

Lee took another swig of Old Milwaukee. He would have preferred

Jack Daniels, but he didn’t have the money.

 

Lee looked out the window of the shabby white house that stood be-

low the hill. High up on the hill was where the rich people lived. The poor

people lived down here. Lee was staring at the wet grass of his small yard.

It had rained less than an hour ago. He thought the drops of water on the

grass resembled the tears of some gigantic creature.

 

Lee popped the top of his sixth beer and glanced outside again.

 

Suddenly, birds. Thousands and thousands of birds. Black birds.

European starlings. They were everywhere! On his lawn. On the lawn of

the neighbor to his left, Ed Grant. On Rose Till’s lawn, his neighbor to the

right. He watched Rosie Till’s golden collie, Honey, barking furiously as

she chased the birds as far as her chain would allow.

 

“Melanie! Come quick! There’s birds everywhere! They’re peckin’ away

at our yard and Ed’s and Rosie’s.”

 

Melanie Elliot rushed down the stairs. She could hear the urgency in

her husband’s drunken voice. She stared in astonishment at the spectacle

taking place outside on their lawn.

 

“The weird thing is that the birds stop right there,” she said, pointing

to the perimeter of their neighbors’ lawns. Melanie was right. The birds

were covering nearly every inch of Lee’s lawn and Ed’s lawn and Rose’s lawn.

But the ubiquitous birds, clucking and pecking and sucking eagerly at the

earth’s bosom, stopped at the sidewalks of the two neighboring houses.

Only three lawns were infested by the omnipresent birds.

 

There were no birds across the street. There were no birds on any other

lawns beyond those three, which they could see by glancing up and down

Third Street. Only here, in their lawn and those of their two closest neighbors,

were there hundreds—thousands, even—of noisy, hungry, pecking black

birds, greedily digging with their beaks. But what were they digging for?

 

Melanie asked the question, “What do you think they’re eating? What

are they looking for, Lee?” She asked, “Are they migrating? Is there some

special food in just these three lawns that they’ve targeted? It’s so weird that

they aren’t across the street or, really, anywhere but on these three lawns.”

She shook her head in confusion.

 

Lee took a deep breath. He had just realized something that gave him

a start. He was going to have to admit to the Reverend that he had been

given a sign. The Reverend Jeremiah Jones had predicted to Lee just yes-

terday that he would be given a sign—a sign that he must follow Reverend

Jeremiah Jones’ instructions.

 

Jeremiah said to Lee, “The heavens might open up. You might hear a

loud voice telling you to do what I tell you. To do what is necessary. It has to

be the way I tell you. You’ll have to follow my directions. To the letter.” The

Reverend spoke slowly, in a stern tone of voice.

 

Lee thought, This must be the sign the Reverend was talking about.

What else could it be?

 

What Lee and Melanie Elliot were seeing defied logic. There was no

reasonable explanation for the sudden appearance of hordes of angry black

birds, mimicking Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds.

 

The small black creatures were everywhere: on the gables of the houses.

On the roofs of Lee’s house and his neighbors’ homes. On their lawns. In

the trees. Greedily pecking at the still-wet grass, searching for some mys-

terious food item. Some magic worm, perhaps? The entire experience left

both Lee and Melody chattering about the occurrence with their next-door

neighbors for hours afterwards. No one knew of any logical explanation.

 

But Lee thought he might know what it all meant. And he didn’t like

what it meant for his future.

 

To be continued on March 25th at What You Talking Bout Willis?

 

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