TBR – The Year of Uh by Jud Widing

For the first time in their lives, nineteen year-old Nur De Dernberg and her younger sister Deirdre are leaving Seychelles, Africa. They’ve come to Boston for a year, but not to party with the college kids – they’re here to learn English. Nur, trapped by her inability to speak the language and her sister’s inability to speak in anything other than clipped wisecracks, finds herself in a strange country with nobody to talk to; she is dreadfully, existentially alone.

Until, that is, she goes to language class and meets Hyun-Woo. Despite sharing no common language, Nur feels something distinctly spark-like between them. Thus commences an awkward courtship…maybe? Is it a courtship? Does he feel for her the way she feels for him? Does he know how she feels? Then again, does she? Nur is beset by questions that would be easy to ask, if only she had the words. Those words are coming slowly, though, while her feelings for Hyun-Woo are thundering along at a more breakneck pace.

This sounds uhhhh-mazing.

View on Goodreads.

TBR – This Modern Love by Ray Hecht

American love isn’t what it used to be.

Roommates Jack and Ben are complete opposites when it comes to romance. For Jack, a mere waiter, it’s easy to use to the latest to app meet a new girl every weekend. But Ben, even though he’s a programmer, can’t seem to figure out how to maneuver online dating.

On the other side of town, sisters Andrea and Carla have their own issues. Andrea is a bit of a wreck, stumbling from one dramatic episode to the next. Carla is more concerned with blogging than dating, though she does get lonely at times. In an age of narcissism and alienation, it’s just so hard to meet someone.

Over the course of one day, these thoroughly modern men and women keep passing each other by. From yoga class to the club – all in a haze of drugs, sex, and selfies – opportunities for true love come and go, and no one notices because they were too busy staring at their phones.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Well, it has some good Amazon reviews.

Buy it on Amazon.

TBR: Subversive by A. Deen

In a not so distant future, an unprepared humanity barely managed to repel the Locusts when they invaded Earth. But the long war left its mark on mankind and the Establishment was founded to ensure it would never come so close to destruction from an alien force again. Now, decades later, the world is run by this single governing entity. Loyalty is rewarded. Disloyalty is met with corrective action.

As an inquisitor for the past twenty years, Gemson used torture and interrogation to root out subversives. He’d worked hard to earn his cold, hard reputation. Now he finds himself on the subject’s side of the interrogation table. Loyalty? Some bonds transcend the laws of state.

Insurrection is a five-part novelette series. Each installment is told from the perspective of a single character, each interconnected with the others and humanity’s ultimate fate.

Ohhhh Aliens.

Buy on Amazon.


BOOK REVIEW: The Trickster’s Lover by Samantha MacLeod

Surviving Graduate School ~ Falling in Love ~ Preventing Ragnarök

Graduate student Caroline Capello has always been more comfortable with books than people. She’s just moved to the University of Chicago to become the world’s foremost authority on Norse mythology, making her the only member of her family to leave San Diego, and the family business.

But she’s wondering if she’s just made the biggest mistake of her life.

When Loki, the enigmatic and irresistibly sexy Norse trickster god, appears in her studio apartment, Caroline is forced to question everything she’s learned.

Do the gods exist? Are the legends about Ragnarök, the apocalyptic battle that destroys the gods and ends the Nine Realms, actually true?

Or is she losing her mind?

I chose this book because I am really really really into mythology. And MacLeod really seems to know her stuff. And it’s funny that in the book the Italian MC, Carol, makes a point of expressing the irony of not being into Roman myth.

This book, however, is more heavy on the romance and light on the mythology. I was hoping it would be more myth with romance sprinkled in. Not the case.

I probably wasn’t the reader for this book. But if you like the romance genre and are interested in Norse myth, this one is for you. I think it was also a bit too lengthy for what it wanted to do and suffered from insta love (Loki basically sexually assults her to tell her he likes her but she’s OK with it?). But again, I am not the reader for this book and the length and automatic attraction seems like it would fit in the genre anyway.

I also loved that all the “Norse” words had their proper accent marks in the book. Great stuff.

An good choice for any librarians looking to grow their indie books, romance, or sf collections.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

TBR – Curse of Stars

Sabi Perez is the last Diamond Crier, only she doesn’t know it. Not until a crazed ruler from another world comes to collect her priceless tears and won’t take no for an answer.

Living in New York, Sabi’s seen some nasty things, but the lengths to which her captor will go to keep his crown are things found only in the darkest nightmares. Afraid and

alone, Sabi finds solace in her cellmate, Anya, and Cabal, a fellow Crier who also has powers, a rare combination that buys his favor from the ruler, only it’s a favor he doesn’t want.

In a fit of rage, power erupts out of Sabi, the same power Cabal has, and a spark of hope

You cry diamonds and don’t know it? You’ve never been sad before? I gotta know more.

Book Review: The Size of the World by Ivana Skye

There are seven Seas, and Theia will cross them all. There is the Darkness beyond the Seventh Sea, and Theia will reach it.
But, in the Second Land, there is also Tellus. And soon Tellus is not only offering her skills as a guide to Theia, but following her out of her city … and kissing her.
Now this journey belongs to both of them. And soon they may belong to each other.

I was pitched this book as a novella, so when it came to me looking like a thick novel-length book I was a bit surprised. But then when you look inside you see that the pages are more flash fiction. And they read like poetry. Prose poetry, perhaps.

There is a lack of detail that makes you continually curious. It leaves you wanting more and lets your imagination fill in the purposeful blanks. I’m still not entirely sure what I just read, though it feels like an allegory–something with deeper meaning. I can’t really tell you how to interpret something like this, because I’m not an authority on anything it covers. My best guess is that it is an expansion on “I would cross the seven seas for you” but instead of “for” it’s “with”? Maybe it’s commentary on something else. Or nothing at all (in which case I would be bothered).

It starts with a girl who wants to cross the seven seas. And she meets another girl along the way and they fall in love. And some people think she is the Messiah. And the concept of “names” is very prevalent: the girl Theia falls in love with (Tellus) has the most names. Like Gandalf in LOTR, she has more than one, yet names have an oral magic to them. Some names she only tells to certain people. That concept was very interesting.

Ivana Skye is a linguist, which is pretty cool and it made the whole book make sense. The things she does with language and the lack thereof–the restraint of telling–is very beautiful.

The formatting and layout in the book is very pretty as well–there are alien-like gears decorating the pages like on the cover. Speaking of alien-like, I couldn’t tell if this was really fantasy or science fiction. It seemed like we were on another planets. Maybe the gears were affecting me. But it was interesting how you could interpret the story both ways–the seas could be the space and stars between planets; the ships they use as space ships. I don’t know if I’m taking too many liberties here, but that’s just where my mind went sometimes. Like Disney’s Treasure Planet.

There is a heavy dose of romance in the book, so if you don’t like that (which I normally don’t) this book isn’t for you. Yet it always comes off as more poetic than cheesy. Sex scenes are not explicit, just implied.

A very easy, quick read. Recommended for teens and up. Also recommended to librarians to build their LGBTQIA and Indie collections.

View on Goodreads.

Buy on Amazon.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Panda turds: Collected droppings to 12/10/16

TBR: The Gospel of the Rauschmonstrum

The story of how Jesus was tricked into thinking he was the son of God by a shape-shifting monster known as the Rauschmonstrum.
It is a tale about love, cruelty, misunderstanding, agonizing despair, walking on water, healing the sick, and one unusual case of a person being impersonated after their death.

Sounds plausible.  Sounds irreverent. Sounds worth reading.

The story reminds me of all those Bible specials on the Discovery Channel or History Channel or whatever Wasting Time Channel where they try to blame biblical events on Aliens.

I’m calling it “Jesus fanfiction.”

Really is on my TBR pile.

It’s a novella at 163 pages.

Buy it on Amazon.


TBR – Satan’s Grip by Paul Sherman

Inspired by the black magic novels of Dennis Wheatley. Esther’s eighth birthday. The day that her mother, Charlotte, had been fearing. As a teenager, Charlotte had gotten involved in a satanic cult and had made a promise to Satan that he could have her firstborn child. At the time, she really didn’t believe any of this was true. It was just a silly thing she did to fit in. But now… Can Charlotte save Esther from Satan’s grip? Or is she destined to fulfill that long-ago promise?

This is another book I agreed to read but haven’t yet. The cover looks fantastic.

Buy on Amazon.

TBR – Iron Manimal by Harry Seitz

Scotty has had a hard life, and it’s about to get harder. Leon, the ringmaster of the circus he works for, has agreed to transport hazzardous materials in order to make ends meet. A catastrophic accident ruptures containment and exposes the performers and animals to a transformative agent that repairs and enhances them based on their personalities, immediate surroundings, and the extent of their injuries. Gifted with extraordinary powers, they must find a new way to cope with the world and each other. At what point does a person who can read and shape minds begin to question the extent to which he is actually being led and controlled by the thoughts of others? And if power comes through physical and emotional trauma, what happens when a newly powerful person or entity still thinks and feels like a victim? Alcoholism, the death of American rail, and animal rights are also explored.

I actually accepted this book for review, but I just haven’t gotten around to read it because it’s in Kindle format and I never read on my Kindle these days. But animal rights? Count me in!

Buy on Amazon.

UPDATE: I spelled the title wrong in the first draft of this post. I said “Mammal” instead of “Manimal.” I’m a terrible womanimal.