If you’re anything like me, and enjoy both reading AND writing, then you MUST check out her website SusanDennard.com. She has so many fantabulous tips and tricks when it comes to honing one’s writing craft, that I literally spent HOURS perusing her site. Check it out.
What’s also wonderful is that her advice comes from experience. She is a PHENOMENAL writer! Friday, I DEVOURED her YA historical paranormal book, Something Strange & Deadly.
Eleanor Fitt of the Philadelphia Flitts has a problem. When her father lost his company, descended into madness, and died, he left the family in a dire financial situation. Elijah, Eleanor’s dearly loved brother, is supposed to return home from abroad to save the family from social ruin as a result of their debts.
Only, when Eleanor arrives at the train station to retrieve her brother, she isn’t met with her childhood best friend, but rather a hostage note in the hands of a walking Dead. Terrified, but resolved not to burden her already overwhelmed mother with this latest development, Miss Fitt undertakes a mission to discover who has her brother and to get him back.
She beseeches a small band called the Spirit Hunters for aid. This group was working to protect the famous International Centennial Exhibition from the growing number of Dead plaguing the city. The Spirit Hunters consist of a dapper Créole named Joseph, a Chinese girl who dresses like a boy, Jie, and this week’s Man Crush Monday, Daniel Sheridan.
At first, they dismiss Eleanor because there are more pressing matters at hand. But soon, they realize that the rapid influx of Dead, the rise of a necromancer, the beheading of young men from prominent families, and the disappearance of Eleanor’s brother are inexplicably linked. Eleanor joins them in their efforts to save the city and to save her brother.
Back to our Man Crush Monday! Daniel Sheridan and our leading lady did not get off on the best foot. She sorta destroyed one of his precious experiments. You see, Daniel is a talented and clever inventor. He has developed several spiffy devices the Spirit Hunters use to eliminate supernatural threats. Sparks fly at their first meeting, but not the romantic kind. Daniel felt Eleanor was an uppity and entitled society princess, and Eleanor thought he was a rude rascal.
Over time, though, they prove each other wrong. Daniel realizes that Eleanor is fiercely brave and loyal, which earns her the nickname Empress. Eleanor sees that Daniel is thoughtful and bright, despite his criminal past. Together, they make a stronger team than they would apart.
My favorite scene between the two was their almost kiss after the dynamite heist, but before the nitroglycerin explosion. So. Freaking. Hot!!!!
If you are a fan of sassy heroines, and snarky heroes, then you don’t want to miss Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly!
*Images are from my trust iPhone. Book link is to Amazon.*
**I do not get paid by authors or publishers for my reviews. They are 100% my personal, honest opinion! I DO, however, receive a small commission when a book purchase is made using the provided link. This does not impact the authenticity of my review in any way.**
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was AWESOME! If you follow me on Goodreads or on this blog, you know I’m not liberal with my 5 star reviews, but this book absolutely deserved it. Nick Baron and his team from a secret government branch are trying to track down a bomber, probably from a terrorist organization. At the same time, a chess game shows up on his phone from a mysterious opponent whose chess moves perfectly match the bomber’s moves in real life.
I didn’t realize when I started the book that it was a sequel, but thankfully, it works fine as a stand-alone. I was immediately sucked into this book! It is very fast-paced and the action doesn’t stop. The descriptions of locations (various countries) and the military techniques and technology were extremely detailed. I loved the angle with the chess game happening at the same time. The book also had aspects of history and mystery in it.
You get enough background/personal information about Nick Baron to root for him, his family, and his team. He is a main character worthy of admiration. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes action, adventure, mystery, suspense, and/or thrillers!
I’m so excited to share an author interview with James R. Hannibal, author of Shadow Catcher, Wraith, and Shadow Maker. He’s also co-author of Pirates: The Midnight Passage.
1. Can you tell us about your military background?
I graduated from the US Air Force Academy with a bachelors in Middle Eastern Studies and went on to fly the A-10 Warthog and the B-2 Spirit (the stealth bomber). After my active service, I joined the Texas Air National Guard as a Predator remotely piloted vehicle (drone) pilot. Over the course of my career I have jumped out of planes, been shot at, been locked up with surface-to-air missiles, worked as a ground-based tactical air controller, worked in counter-terrorism and counterespionage, and helped capture a number of high value targets. Currently I hold a non-flying position as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserves. I provide inspection and oversight to flying elements of the Civil Air Patrol that work in Search And Rescue and counterdrug ops.
2. How much of the book is based on your own military experience?
I often draw from my military experience when writing. Obviously, the drone attack that acts as an inciting incident for the antagonist is drawn from my experiences both as a drone pilot and as a tactical air controller. I had the opportunity during my military career to act in Nick’s position and in the drone pilot’s position, so that offered me a great chance to create some realistic action. I have also worked in either training or combat with most of the U.S. Special Forces groups and some foreign Special Forces groups, which lends some authenticity to the fictional Tier One group that is the Triple Seven Chase. Shadow Maker was checked and approved by a drone program security office that makes sure I don’t inadvertently release classified information. The previous two books were also checked by a stealth program security office.
3. What kind of research did you complete for this book? It’s very detailed as far as the different locations, military technology, etc.
I take research very seriously. I would be mortified if a reader were ever to point out that something I wrote looked like a cut-and-paste from Wikipedia (which—along with the fact that Wikipedia is sometimes wrong where military tech is concerned—is why I avoid Wikipedia like the plague). I went straight to manufacturers like Heckler & Koch to get the details on tech like the MP7A1 personal defensive weapon. As a military individual, I know where to look for advance (but not classified) info on tech like the non-lethal nanosecond electric pulse grenades and the MOID. Locations are a tough one. Who has the money to travel to all these places? Fortunately, my civilian job as a wide body airline pilot afforded me a great deal of time in London, where a large section of the book takes place. For the rest—Budapest, Istanbul, Ankara—I depended on good old-fashioned book research, online research, and the fantastic tool that is Google Earth. Whenever I am writing about a location, I also fill the peripheries of my computer screen with images of that place.
4. How did you make the transition from military man to author?
I have always been a writer. Long before I was a military man I used to write short stories and chronicle family trips in limerick poetry. Being an author is as much a part of who I am as my military service. I think that they compliment one another. Tactical problems often require creative solutions, and certainly my military experience adds depth to the well that I can draw from while writing.
5. What’s the most important thing for readers to know about you?
Even though I write for a big secular publisher, I am a Christian first. My books are not about my faith, but my faith will always inform my writing. You will find action and romance, but you will not find profanity or graphic sex scenes. I hope that—even though it is not theological in nature—my writing brings glory to God by offering clean, fun, and thought-provoking stories to the world.
6. What is your favorite book or author? Why?
CS Lewis is my favorite author, hands down. His ability to create a new world for young readers is unparalleled, as is his ability to make practical theology accessible to everyone. Clive Cussler is a close second. Everyone needs a good adventure now and again.
7. Do you prefer to read physical books or e-readers?
I like the texture and smell of real pages, especially the smell. The pages of a book smell like a summer afternoon alone in a tree house. They smell like winter’s day curled up inside with a hot chocolate and someone you love. I own multiple e-readers because I’m supposed to be this high-tech guy who came out of the top-secret world of the stealth bomber, but I rarely use them. I still find myself going to bookstores and walking out with bags full of real, wonderful-smelling books.
8. Where do you get the inspiration for your books?
I get inspiration for my books everywhere. I get a book idea almost every day. I have already come to terms with the fact that I will not live long enough to write them all, and the fact that my agent—and practicality—will likely re-prioritize the ideas for me. However, if you want a hundred book ideas in one building, go see the museum at Ellis Island. As the gateway to America, it was the collection point for thousands—or perhaps millions—of stories, as broadly diverse as the American melting pot.
9. How many books can we expect in the “Shadow” series?
I will write as many Triple Seven Chase books as Berkley Books will allow. However, I depend on readers to spread the word about Nick Baron and his crew. If word doesn’t spread, Berkley Books will want me to search for other topics and characters that WILL make word spread. In the meantime, if readers want more from Nick Baron’s world, they dig into loads of back story and other extras on the free Stealth Ops app for iOS and Android.
10. Lastly, what do you do in your free time?
I have two boys (8 and 11) and I love hanging out with them. We like to do manly stuff like lift weights, build fires the way a medieval wanderer might, or practice traditional archery in the back yard. We have a boys’ book club (with a few of the 11-year-old’s peers and in which we just finished Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain), and we practice our creativity and learn Christian discipleship using a 1980′s table-top adventure simulation called DragonRaid.
Don’t you just love that he has a boys’ book club with his son??? I love that he’s inspiring a love of reading in the younger generation. Thank you so much for the interview, James, and a chance to read your awesome book. I will be picking up Shadow Catcher ASAP!
***The buy links above are from Amazon. I do not get paid by authors or publishers for my reviews. They are 100% my personal, honest opinion. I DO, however, receive a small commission when a book purchase is made by clicking on the provided link. This does not impact the authenticity of my reviews in any way.***
Clearly, from the title of the book blog, chick lit is my favorite genre. This doesn’t mean I don’t love a good suspense or mystery novel. This doesn’t mean I won’t read a drama or legal thriller. BUT I’m ALWAYS in the mood for chick lit. It’s light, fun, and easy reading. It’s often in first-person format so I feel like I’m reading a good friend’s diary. I have definitely read some FABULOUS chick lit in the past, so without further ado, here are my fab five favorite chick lit books!
Remember Me? by, Sophie Kinsella: Oh man, this is my FAVORITE Soophie Kinsella book. It made me laugh SO HARD. Lexi Smart wakes up in a hospital bed after an accident to find that she doesn’t remember the last three years of her life. Somehow, she’s gone from a single working girl to a successful career woman married to a multi-millionaire. As she struggles to find out just what happened the past three years that completely changed her life and personality, secrets are revealed that show Lexi her fabulous new life may not be all it seems. My favorite part in this book is when Lexi’s husband gives her a manual to help her remember her new life. Some of the sections in it are just laugh-out-loud funny. When you add the crazy premise of the book to the hilarious situations, you get one amazing chick lit novel.
The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne: I reviewed the entire series here. This first book is definitely the best in the series. In this book, Melissa begins the Little Lady Agency to help out clueless men with tasks their girlfriends would normally help them with- she helps them shop for gifts, re-do their looks, acts as dates for them for events, etc. all under the disguise of “Honey.” Melissa wears a wig when she is “Honey” and feels that the “Honey” persona helps her be more take-charge and separate her personal and business life. However, the lines between the two get blurred when she begins to help out handsome Jonathan. I absolutely LOVE the character, Melissa. She’s innocently naive, sweet, and has good intentions. Her crazy family adds humor to the story and Jonathan is swoon-worthy.
Zoey and the Moment of Zen by Cat Lavoie: Chickadees, this book is less than $4 on Amazon currently, so if you’re a chick lit lover, you need to get it for your e-reader. I stayed up later than planned to finish reading it and read it all in just a few days. There were so many twists and turns. Zoey is obsessed with her ex-boyfriend to the point of stalking him. Her friends and family decide to send her to a wellness resort so she can find herself and get over him. While there, she meets a new guy and ends up… marrying him at the resort! I loved the main character and loved how obsessed she was at first- it was so relatable and it made her so human (and I just find reading about emotional issues like that fascinating!). Her inner voice also made me laugh often. I loved this book so much and was so impressed! A very fun chick lit with deeper themes.
The Baby Trap by Sibel Hodge: I already wrote about Karl from “The Baby Trap” for a Man Crush Monday post here. However, this book definitely belongs on this list as well. Karl and his wife Gina are trying to get pregnant and this is the story of their difficulties making it happen. Gina becomes baby-crazy and starts trying all sorts of crazy “alternative” therapies to have a baby, while researching how to get pregnant day and night. Although the book is about a serious topic, it is often laugh-out-loud hilarious. Sibel brings the right mix of humor to a serious topic. You LOVE her characters, empathize with their struggles, and really want them to succeed on their quest.
Early Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts: This novella is less than $3 on Amazon currently! Get on these deals, Chickadees! This is another book that has deeper themes, but still fits into the chick lit genre. I was honored to be one of the early proofreaders of this book. This book is about Jess, who is in the hospital after giving birth to a premature baby. While in the hospital, she learns a lot about herself, as a person, a lover, and now, a mother. I think this was my favorite Jennifer Gilby Roberts’ book. It was unpredictable and sweet. I felt like it was written the way a harried, first-time mother would write it. I really heard “her voice.” It was her true thoughts and feelings- more like a diary than “prettied up” for a book. The main character was sweet, honest, and had a good heart. I would definitely recommend this book!
Next week, I will be featuring my fab five favorite Christian chick lit novels!! So, check back!
***The photos and links above are from Amazon.com. I do not get paid by authors or publishers for my reviews- they are 100% my personal, honest opinion! I do, however, receive a small commission when you purchase a book through Amazon by clicking one of the links above. This does not impact the authenticity of my reviews in any way.***
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, is a classic story of the March family. Father is off to war for most of the book and Mother is a sweet, good-natured advice-giver. Their daughters are Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth. Kind, beautiful Meg is the first to fall in love, get married, and leave the nest. It chronicles her first years of marriage, the birth of her twins, and her learning to become a mother. Jo is a free-spirited tomboy, who wants to be a famous author and support herself. She is fiercely independent and often acts without thinking. Amy is beautiful, proper, and tactful. She is loved by many and desires to give herself and her family a good reputation. Beth is so very sweet, but often sickly. She is almost saint-like.
I love reading about these girls growing up in the nineteenth-century New England. Their experiences and struggles are still relevant to girls today- girls who are transitioning from childhood to adulthood, girls who are discovering who they are meant to be, girls who are reconciling the dreams of childhood with the realities of growing up. The March sisters are each so unique and lovable and you root for them and their family. This book is a must-read for anyone who claims to be a fan of classic literature!
***The photo and link above is from Amazon.com. I do not get paid by authors or publishers for my reviews- they are 100% my personal, honest opinion! I do, however, receive a small commission when you purchase a book through Amazon by clicking one of the links above. This does not impact the authenticity of my reviews in any way.***
You guys. Do you remember that time I met the crazy and brilliant Maggie Stiefvater?
Well, the third book in The Raven Cycle series is coming out NEXT MONTH! I’m so freaking excited! You SERIOUSLY don’t want to miss this one!
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on October 21, 2014
YA Fantasy – 416 Pages
The third installment in the mesmerizing series from the irrepressible, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.
There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.
*Image of cover and description obtained from Goodreads. Link is to Amazon.*
**I do not get paid by authors or publishers for my reviews or suggestions. I DO, however, receive a small commission when a book purchase is made using the provided link. This does not impact the authenticity of my reviews in any way.**