Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review & Blog Tour ~ A BOY CALLED BAT by Elana K. Arnold {Giveaway}

A Boy Called Bat
by Elana K. Arnold
Age Range: 6 - 10 years
Grade Level: 1 - 5
Series: A Boy Called Bat
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (March 14, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062445820

ISBN-13: 978-0062445827

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

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A Boy Called Bat is a delightful chapter book for children ranging in age from 6-10 that is about a young boy named Bixby Alexander Tam (Bat for short) who is on the autism spectrum.  He is super smart, loves animals, and is very kind, but his mind works differently than other kids and people around him.  From loud noises to ‘every other weekend’, Bat is challenged daily, but thankfully he has his family and other people to help him.

One day, his mother (a veterinarian) brings home a newborn baby skunk that she helped saved after the mother skunk got hit by a car.  She only plans to take care of it until she can get the baby to a rescue organization and she is counting on Bat to help her.  Bat is over the moon excited about this baby skunk and wants to love it, and pet it, and name it Thor. Although Bat’s mother has told him that they will not be able to keep the skunk, Bat is a determined little boy and tries to enlist the help of Dr. Jerry Dragoo who runs the Dragoo Institute for the Betterment of Skunks and Skunk Reputations. (And yes, this is a real place.  You can visit the website at www.dragoo.org to find out all about skunks!) Anywho…. Bat is certain that if he gets Dr. Dragoo’s letter of endorsement, his mother will surely let him keep baby Thor.  Will his plan work?  Well, you will just have to pick up this adorable book and find out!

A Boy Called Bat is an excellent story for children as well as adults that will keep the reader engaged throughout – not only to find out if Bat gets to keep the skunk, but also witnessing him tip-toe out of his comfort zone to make new friends. There are super cute illustrations throughout and the writing is simplistic enough for any young child to read.  I’m glad that I got to spend some time with Bat, and I assure you that you will as well.

4 stars
Sometimes Bat wished that Janie went to his school, because it would be kind of neat to see her in the hallways and at lunchtime, but most of the time he was glad that his school was something he didn’t have to share with her. Janie attended the Robert E. Willett Elementary School, but this was her last year. Next fall she would be going to junior high school.
         Bat went to a private school. It had smaller classes than the public school, and his parents thought it was a “better fit for him,” which was fine with Bat. Mr. Grayson was a good teacher who never yelled and who usually let Bat wear his earmuffs if things got too loud. Also, his school—the Saw Whet School—was named after a type of owl.
         The main hallway of the Saw Whet School was a busy place until 8:35 a.m., when class officially started. Until then, it was full of parents walking the younger kids (those in kindergarten and first grade) to their classrooms and older kids walking themselves, all while the principal, Mrs. Martinez, stood outside of the administration office, smiling and being friendly.
         “Bat!” called Mrs. Martinez, waving and smiling.
         Bat didn’t feel like talking to Mrs. Martinez, so he pretended he didn’t see her and slid to the far side of the hallway as he passed. That way she couldn’t reach out and rumple his hair.
         Bat hated it when people rumpled his hair, and Mrs. Martinez loved to rumple hair. She had never yet rumpled his hair, and Bat wanted to keep it that way.

Photo Credit Melissa Hockenberger
ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse--a gorgeous mare named Rainbow--and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Tour & Giveaway ~ The Woodman Series by G.H. Bright

The Roads of Hell
The Woodman, Book 1
By G.H. Bright

Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian, SciFi
POST APOCALYPTIC, yet so much more!

"Modified Ebola has decimated the globe, handfuls of survivors eke out an existence whilst others are intent on building from the ashes a world of unimaginable pain and horror. The Woodman fights to keep the world from tipping completely over the edge whilst battling his own demons. "

Imagine a world where nothing is easy. No electricity, electronic communications fuel or running water. Imagine that world came so fast there was nothing you could do about it. No preparation, no stockpiling of goods. One day you flick a switch and a fire comes on, the next day you need to learn to make fire to get warm and keep animals away.  No law, no order, survival of the fittest is the name of the game. From seven billion human beings to a few million spread out across the globe almost overnight.

Ebola has attacked the human race, virtually wiping it from the face of the planet. For those who survived, the struggle is just beginning and for some the nightmare is just starting.  A madman, now free of prison hospital builds an army and marches on Coast Town with the intent of taking for his own ends. Coast Town is a haven on the south coast of England, a refuse for the few survivors to gather and start again. Three years on from the dark day when Ebola first struck, the people face another challenge, this one perhaps all the more frightening because it might not kill you, just enslave.
Duke Woods, The Woodman, stands in the way of the madman. Duke has the power to stop him and a score to settle, too. With the help of another man, a new friend, they take the battle to the madman known as The Black Pope.

Will Duke survive?

Can The Black Pope be beaten?

Will the Ebola virus, known to all as The Death, return?

As Duke's past comes back to haunt him so the battle for life takes off, with not only his life in the balance but that of Coast Town,too.


The Fires of Hell

The Woodman Book 2
This second instalment starts six weeks after Book one, the Roads of Hell, finished.

The reluctant hero in the making, Duke Woods, The Woodman, has contracted Ebola, otherwise known simply as “The Death”.

The Black Pope is still alive and kicking, unknown to most, and The Woodman has a new friend.

Michelle, a six-year-old girl remains at his side watching and waiting whilst The Death ravages his body. Hannah, the love of his life is not allowed near them in case she and the child she carries become infected and the communities, at the news of his contagion, go into lock-down.

Hannah is nearly six months pregnant, Sue is seven months into her pregnancy, and several other women are carrying babies too.
As Duke recovers, he finds the Army is still in place and helping everyone it can, and the Elders are still unable to achieve even the simplest of things. Coast Town looks to be thriving again with the new influx of people but as always, trouble is just around the corner and new horror surfaces.

Just when things looks good for the survivor’s, just as they begin to grasp skills forgotten, new evils and hard times rush to compound issues and make life a far greater struggle than it already was. The Death wiped out 90% of Mankind; illness and disease took even more.

Those that lived through it, instead of banding together, seem unable to change their ways and people find they still have to fight Mankind’s greatest enemy, Mankind itself.

The Gates of Hell

The Woodman Book 3
This instalment begins six hours after Duke Woods, AKA The Woodman, has decided he must leave Coast Town.
If he leaves, they stand a chance of negotiation with the small army coming their way and he gets to go home to his family. If he stays, the army will want his head. He has to try and flee, regardless of how it looks to others.

The 'reluctant hero in the making', fights his way out with bow and arrow, and arrives home only to find his family in mortal danger. Then, in a twist of fate; Duke is taken prisoner and escorted to Dover Castle. There he has, under threat of death, to fight for his freedom and his sanity as the true horrors of a madman come to light. Seth Windsor is insane and out for blood, a truly bad concoction, and he will only be happy when Duke is forced to fight for his life.
Sue goes to other lands to start a new and joyful life whilst Coast Town burns; only to find the sweet talking man was really a serpent in disguise.

Duke fights evil time and again, fashioning himself unwittingly into a hero regardless of his wish to not be.

Years of peace follow, communities come together, trade together and grow, and a network of towns and villages live in harmony with the people of the woods. Harmony that is, until evil rears its ugly head once more in the form of feral kids linked to Seth Windsor. The Death is still out there, perhaps it always will be, and evil men still rampage across the lands too. The peace is shattered by these feral kids and a new terror from the north. Will peace ever really come to The Woodman?

Hell on Earth

The Woodman Book 4
Duke and Coast Town face a new challenge as the horror from the north, having taken the Oxford Crew, move southward looking for The Woodman. Duke attempts to build an army and defend. Kufuo is still missing, on an adventure of his own trying to trace his roots and all the time ships from the new world head toward them for confrontation. Senator Horst is not all he seems to be and speaks with a serpents tongue. Marine Cobb goes AWOL and tells Duke what he already suspected, that Horst let the Ebola virus loose in the first place. Fighting for his life and the lives of those he loves, Duke must defeat the terror from the north and deal with Senator Horst whilst keeping his people together.

This fourth and final instalment gives the answers to who the people were that died at the start of book one, explains who unleashed the virus, modified it and why. Duke comes close to death, Sue at last finds happiness and Duke, Gould and Troy find out who lives on the forbidden isle.

This is the last in the on-going series, however, the saga continues with books 5 and six.

All Hell Broke Loose

The Woodman Book 5
Modified Ebola was created to wipe out the masses and cut down the numbers of humans on planet Earth. Three differing strains - due to natural mutation and the meddling of the mega-rich - has created a bleak world for those lucky enough to survive. This is book five in the saga and, whereas you might not have read books one - four, you can pick it up by jumping right in here. Life is peaceful once more, the newcomers are getting used to this way of life in southern England and Duke Woods is a dad again. Evil, however comes from across the Channel and threatens the very existence he has fought so hard to build. If the virus wasn't bad enough this new terror rips the heart out of not just Coast Town but The Woodman too as this battle becomes personal and painful.
Goodreads * Amazon

 Hell Hath No Fury
The Woodman Book 6
Three differing factions head for Duke’s Lands. All have different agendas, one wants to live in peace and be friends whilst another is happy to die for the cause just so long as The Woodman dies too, and the third faction – an eight hundred strong army – wishes for nothing more than total domination. Attacked on different fronts, abandoned by The West and with his lands diminishing rapidly, Duke Woods has the fight of his life on his hands. It is a fight that will cost dearly, many people will die in battle and the return of The Death will take its share too. Stretched to the limits of manpower and with the weather against them, the Marines and Fighting Men stand side by side with The Woodman and family in a fight to the death to save Coast Town. This is a win or lose-it- all battle to the death. Contains graphic violence and sexual content, not for the squeamish.
I live on the South coast of England, Sussex to be exact, but I was born in Hampshire.

When not writing I Instruct motor vehicle studies, including computer diagnosis & diagnostics on modern systems. I love the beach, being social, walking the beach/woods and family life (not in that order) and real ale.

The Woodman saga - book one written in 2000 - is set in a world where modified Ebola has decimated human life as we know it. Duke Woods fights to bring peace and stability to life again but also has to fight his demons to do so.

A cross between Mad Max meets Game of Thrones, meets Contagion meets Robin Hood, this is the story of a modern day hero trying to do the best for everyone and putting himself in the line of fire to do it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Audio Book Review ~ The Old Man by Thomas Perry, Narrated by Peter Berkrot

The Old Man
by Thomas Perry
Print Published January 3rd 2017 by Mysterious Press
Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:01-03-17

Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Edgar Award-winning author Thomas Perry writes thrillers that move “almost faster than a speeding bullet” (Wall Street Journal). The Old Man is his latest whip-smart standalone novel.

To all appearances, Dan Chase is a harmless retiree in Vermont with two big mutts and a grown daughter he keeps in touch with by phone. But most sixty-year-old widowers don’t have multiple driver’s licenses, savings stockpiled in banks across the country, and a bugout kit with two Beretta Nanos stashed in the spare bedroom closet. Most have not spent decades on the run.

Thirty-five years ago, as a young hotshot in army intelligence, Chase was sent to Libya to covertly assist a rebel army. When the plan turned sour, Chase reacted according to his own ideas of right and wrong, triggering consequences he could never have anticipated. And someone still wants him dead because of them. Just as he had begun to think himself finally safe, Chase must reawaken his survival instincts to contend with the history he has spent his adult life trying to escape. Armed mercenaries, spectacularly crashed cars, a precarious love interest, and an unforgettable chase scene through the snow—this is lethal plotting from one of the best in crime fiction.

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Dan Chase is always on guard…always on the run – needing to hide out from the government that betrayed him so many years ago.  Armed with multiple aliases and the paperwork to back them up, Dan is always ready to move at a moment’s notice.   It’s been awhile since he has had to move on, but one fateful night, his safe house has been discovered and his life threatened, so with his two trusty, adorable dogs, Dan Chase must run yet again.  This my dear reader is just the beginning of an action-packed thriller that will have you turning each page in a feverish attempt to find out what will happen to this man and to see if he will be able to spend the rest of his life enjoying the retirement he so desperately deserves or end in a horrible death.

The Old Man was my first experience witnessing the amazing talent of Thomas Perry, and I can’t believe I have waited so long in discovering this author.  The Old Man is a non-stop thriller that had me in its grips the entire time.  Perry’s writing technique drew me into the story with its descriptive writing and well-developed characters and the action ensured that I wouldn’t put this book down even for a second.  This fast paced thriller took me on an amazingly crazy ride with its suspenseful, engaging plot that was filled with so many twists and turns, it had me mesmerized throughout. 

The narration….
The Old Man is narrated by Peter Berkrot and I thought he did an excellent job narrating this book.  At first, I didn’t think I was going enjoy this performance because of the voice of the main character, but as I continued with the story, it was apparent that this was the perfect choice for this novel.  With his gruff and gravelly voice, I could totally picture the ‘old man’ perfectly in my mind. The other characters ‘voices’ were satisfactory, but the female voices lacked just a bit – but I suppose it is somewhat difficult for a male to sound like a female.  Despite that, I think Mr. Berkrot did a fantastic job with this story.  The production quality was top-notch and the pacing was just right.  Overall, I was quite pleased with this performance and thought it added a lot to the story.

In conclusion……
I thoroughly enjoyed The Old Man and although I really would have liked to know what happened to some of the secondary characters, the ending was satisfactory and ended on a happy note.  The action was exciting and intense which kept me on my toes throughout. I wanted the story to go on, and was extremely sad when I got to the last page – wanting, no NEEDING more.  With this first introduction of Perry’s writing, I will definitely be purchasing all of his previous novels….I just have to find a way to pay for them all!  But I MUST have them!  Fans of fast-paced, high-stakes action thrillers will LOVE The Old Man and this is one book that I would highly recommend!

Story – 4.75
Performance – 4.5
Overall -  4.62

A special thanks to Mysterious Press for providing me with an advance copy of this book.  The audio book was purchased by me.

Thomas Perry was born in Tonawanda, New York in 1947. He received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester in 1974. He has worked as a park maintenance man, factory laborer, commercial fisherman, university administrator and teacher, and a writer and producer of prime time network television shows. He lives in Southern California with his wife and two daughters.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Blog Tour & Giveaway ~ Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

Off the Ice
(Juniper Falls #1)
by Julie Cross
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen

The NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Whatever Life Throws at You kicks off a brand-new series perfect for fans of Miranda Kennealy and Abbi Glines.

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

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Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press).
She’s also the author of the Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing cred, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Click HERE to follow the Tour

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Release Week Blitz & Giveaway ~ Black Sheep (Dark Desires #2) by Zara Cox

Author: Zara Cox
Series: Dark Desires, #2
On Sale: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Forever
eBook: $4.99 USD

In a family of cold-hearted black sheep, I, Axel Rutherford, am the blackest.

My father has hated me since the day I was born. The feeling was mutual. In the shady underworld that was my legacy, Cleo McCarthy became my light. She was beautiful, passionate, and my whole world. So naturally my father had to destroy us. First he sent me away. Next he claimed Cleo as his own. But now I've returned, and nothing will stop me from taking back everything that is rightfully mine.

He was the love of my life—when my life was still my own.

We were young enough to believe we would last forever, Axel and I. But neither of us realized how cruel life—
and our families—could be. Now I'm trapped in a gilded cage: desired by Axel, who must never know the full truth, and controlled by his father, who would sooner see me dead than free. And I wouldn't even care, except that it's no longer only my life at stake.


Gunpowder & Lead

For far longer than I care to remember, I’ve held the power of life and death in my hands. Between one breath and the next, the responsibility was thrust on me. A permanent state I had no hope of escaping. Not if I wish to keep the one remaining parent I have, my mother, on life-supporting machines rather than six feet under with my dead father. Machines that stay on or could be turned off in an instant, depending on which move I make in this deadly game of chess that is my life.
At twenty-six, I should be putting my actively pursued, proudly earned interior design degree to good use. Instead it’s a front for my real vocation as Finnan Rutherford’s companion. A career I didn’t choose but find I’m now irreversibly immersed in.
I had to learn the game fast or risk losing my life through apathy. It’s a good thing I’m a fast learner. I discovered that I’m an even better student with a loaded gun against my temple.
I’ve stood over too many graves and seen the risks Finnan takes with others’ lives not to have learned my lesson. So now I comply. I obey. I smile through the ravaging pain and the blood-red rage in my heart.
And I plot.
Revenge is the only thing that sustains me. It keeps me breathing, helps me place one foot in front of the other, and steers my compass true.
On the worst days, I wonder if everything I’m fighting for is even worth it. Those dark days I yearn to give in. But I can’t. Not yet. Not if I want my mother’s death and countless others’ on my hands. Having finally accepted the responsibility of my birthright, I’ve also accepted responsibility for those in my care. I do this for the dozens who don’t know that me staying on my knees is the only way they get to breathe.
Checking out would be the cowardly. Although I haven’t ruled it out completely as a last resort. For now, like the six prom dresses I tormented myself over choosing from what feels like a million years ago, I’m keeping my options open. The grim, otherworldly humor behind the sentiment almost makes me smile.
The oil-smooth door swings open behind me, wiping away every last trace of phantom humor. In the den where countless lives have hung in the balance, I fight the shiver that trembles up from my ankles.
In the half hour since my return from New York, he’s kept me waiting in this room that reeks of violence and corruption. A deliberate act meant to establish my weakness and his power.
“You failed me again, my angel.” The accusation is softly voiced in a deadly rasp.
I force my spine not to stiffen and take a breath. My gaze rests on the view of the immaculately kept Connecticut mansion grounds and encroaching dawn for an extra moment before I turn around.
Finnan Rutherford, the man everyone thinks is my adopted father but is as far from a father figure as the moon from the stars, regards me from his impressive six-foot plus height. Despite the early hour, he’s fully dressed in a tailored white shirt and navy three-piece suit, his Oxford pinstriped tie neatly knotted. Not a hair out of place. Like his four sons, he’s built of strong Irish stock with a square jaw, thick shoulders and smoky gray eyes always set with narrow-eyed focus. For the longest time, I was terrified of that stare, couldn’t imagine that he didn’t see into my soul and read the intentions in my heart. But I’ve learned to contain that emotion when in his presence, much like I contain all of my emotions these days.
I stride forward, slowly, and pause against his desk, my own gaze direct. “I warned you this plan would fail. You didn’t listen. Don’t blame me now that my predictions are coming true.”
One dark eyebrow lifts. “Are you saying you weren’t the right person to handle this? That I was I wrong to think I could trust you to get it done?”
I swallow the kernel of terror that threatens to break free. I know better than to answer in the affirmative. “I’m saying I would’ve done things differently. Sending me to him almost every night for two weeks reeks of desperation,” I say with a shrug, even though my heart is hammering. Finnan doesn’t like his faults pointed out. But I’m done dancing around the issue. Or subjecting myself to another long night involved in a staring contest with Axel Rutherford.


WICKED S.O.B, #2.5 (August 8, 2017)
ARROGANT BASTARD, #3 (September 12, 2017)

Zara Cox has been writing for almost twenty-five years but it wasn't until nine years ago that she decided to share her love of writing sexy, gritty stories with anyone outside her close family (the over 18s anyway!).