The Rock Company

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I don’t tend to watch a lot of reality television, with the exception of a few talent shows like The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, and America’s Got Talent. The latest of these, World of Dance is in its second season and features judges Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo, and Derek Hough. They have dancers from all over the world compete, and some of their backstories and performances have been incredible. One group who danced last night however was particularly outstanding. The Rock Company is a youth dance company from The Rock Center for Dance in Las Vegas. The group ranges in age from 10-16. Living in Las Vegas, they were personally affected by the mass shooting last October that killed 58 people and injured 851 as they innocently were enjoying a music festival. These young people choreographed a dance routine to John Lennon’s Imagine as a tribute. In the words of one of the members:

The world needs more love. Our message is about having hope and being kind to one another.

So, instead of going with my planned post regarding Mr. Trump’s appalling treatment of our allies at the NATO summit in Brussels. I’d like to share this breathtaking and inspirational performance. I hope you’re as blown away as I was.

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Whimsical Wednesday

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People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?

~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables ~

Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4), by Rachel Caine ~ 5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now

448 Pages

Synopsis: The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouth with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

3C53AB21-13E1-4184-8837-858E8D628698Smoke and Iron is the latest in a thrilling YA series that just keeps getting better and better with each installment! I know I’ve said this repeatedly, but in my humble opinion, the prolific Rachel Caine is a brilliant author, whether she’s writing for teens or adults. I’ve read everything she’s written over the years and have never been disappointed.

This picks up immediately where Ash and Quill left off. Our group of heroes are split up and each is facing more danger than ever before. As usual the story is told from multiple POVs which not only gives the reader a wonderful sense of the characters, but also adds to the fabulous world building. 

In terms of action and pacing, I think this might be my favorite book in the series. It adds further complexity to both the characters and the story yet is tightly written. There’s plenty of blood, gore and heartbreak though, so be warned!

Smoke and Iron has left me feverishly anticipating the conclusion to The Great Library series. Sadly it will most likely be a year before fans see the as yet untitled book. On the plus side this gives readers who haven’t started the series ample time to catch up. Even if you don’t normally read YA, if you like fantasy, science fiction, thrilling adventure, and you’re a bibliophile, I guarantee you’ll LOVE these books!

The Date, by Louise Jensen ~ 4.5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: June 21st, 2018

315 Pages

Synopsis: Something bad has happened to Alison Taylor. 

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to step into her new future. 

By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognizable. She wakes, and she knows something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognize the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her…

The Date is the third book I’ve read by Louise Jensen hasn’t disappointed me once. While you definitely have to suspend disbelief right from the beginning, as long as you’re willing to do that, this proves to be another exciting psychological thriller.

I was unfamiliar with the medical condition of Prosopagnosia (face blindness) before picking up this book, but it was an interesting twist on amnesia. I can’t even imagine not being able to recognize people faces, even those of your friends and family, or your own. It made Ali, who’s the victim of an assault even more sympathetic. She tends to run headlong into danger, but I liked her refusal to stay a victim.

As for the mystery of her assailant, I honestly had no idea until the big reveal toward the end. This, despite the tantalizing passages where you hear directly from the villain. There’s a well-rounded cast of secondary characters and all of them have moments of suspicious behavior, so I was kept guessing throughout the novel.

The action begins on the very first page and the pace never slows down which had me eating this up in one day. There are enough twists and turns to make the most talented armchair detective’s head spin. There were a few times I thought I had figured things out, only to be proven wrong. And although the ending completely caught me by surprise, it also made sense.

The Date is an exciting tale that will captivate fans of mysteries and psychological thrillers. Louise Jensen has fast become one of my favorite authors in these genres! 

 

 

Civil War II — Cancelled

Just in case you missed numero uno conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ dire warning of a second Civil War which was supposed to begin yesterday, Twitter users have once again stepped up to the plate. Thank you Jill for sharing these hysterical tweets!🤣

Filosofa's Word

As I reported earlier in the week, the U.S. was bracing for the onset of CWII (Civil War II) yesterday as the nation celebrated the Independence Day holiday.  Well, folks, you can come out now, for it didn’t happen and we seem safe, at least for the moment.  America’s numero uno conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, had pronounced on his InfoWars program earlier this week that he had been informed by reliable sources that the democrats had a huge plan to start the second Civil War on the symbolic Fourth of July, overthrowing Trump and taking over the government.  Today, Alex Jones must be busily washing all the egg off his face, eh?egg on faceSome got some humour from the whole thing, at least.  Here are a few tweets …

The war isn’t going as planned. Our supply trucks are limited. I’m out of wine and sunscreen. The enemy burned all the…

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Happy 4th of July!

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If you live in the U.S. and you’re like me, you may be viewing tomorrow with some mixed feelings. We have a president who is showing more tendencies toward dictatorship by the hour. Civil rights are under attack, as is the press—both figuratively and literally after last week’s shooting at the Capital Gazette. And we seem to have lost sight of the fact that our country was founded by immigrants. Here’s the Trump Administration’s latest salvo at desperate parents attempting to apply for asylum.

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To be honest, there are some days that I don’t even recognize this country anymore. But I haven’t given up hope. Not yet anyway. So tomorrow I’ll celebrate the birth of our nation like I do every year, but at the same time I’ll be praying for its future. I hope all of you have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

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The Astounding Antagonists, by Rafael Chandler ~ 4.0 Stars

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Thanks to Shannon at Reads & Reels Blog Tours for providing an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now

390 Pages

Synopsis: Dr. Agon, a megalomaniacal inventor with an arsenal of lethal gadgets. Motley, a wisecracking jewel thief with nothing left to lose. Chillpill, a cryogenic drug lord who just wants a normal life. Baelphegor, a demonic psychopath with an ugly score to settle.

They’re the most dangerous supervillains on Earth, and they’re about to pull off the perfect crime. There’s just one catch: if they succeed, they might accidentally save the world.

From the skyscrapers of Apex City to the gates of Hell itself, the Antagonists are pursued by violent superheroes and billionaire vigilantes. But as loyalties are tested and old hatred are rekindled, the line between friend and foe begin to blur…

I absolutely loved Rafael Chandler’s slice and dice horror novel, Mask Beneath Her Face (2017), so when I saw that Shannon from Read & Reels was offering The Astounding Antagonists for review during the month of June, I immediately requested an ebook. 

This book was written in 2014 and is as exciting as the premise promises. It’s a nice twist where the superheroes have become villains, while the er, villains aren’t exactly perfect either, but wind up being more relatable and likable. I wish the mainly Caucasian superheroes were a little more well-rounded instead of all being selfish, self-involved, corrupt, petty, homicidal jerks, but the diversity of the Antagonists mostly made up for their lack of character development. Just about every minority and gender is represented with this group of reluctant protagonists. The dialogue between the characters is sharp and witty and I found myself laughing more than once. If I had to pick a favorite character, it would be Motley the witty, snarky jewel thief. For me, she was the heart and soul of the book. I absolutely loved her and found myself looking forward to her scenes.

The plot itself is clever and fun and provides enough twists that makes it stand apart from other books in this genre. It also covers many real world issues such as government corruption, illegal immigration, misogyny, abuse of women, pollution, internet spying, religious fanaticism, and other societal woes we’re discussing now on a daily basis. While I had absolutely no problem with the political side of this, I can see where more conservative readers might. 

The Astounding Antagonists is an enjoyable read, yet also has quite a bit of thought-provoking substance to it. It’s action-packed and brutal at times, yet imminently fun and I breezed through it in two days. If you enjoy this genre, I highly recommend it.

About the author:

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By day, I write screenplays for video games. I wrote the stories and dialogue for Dark District, Final Eden, Gangstar Rio: City of Saints, MAG, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, and SOCOM 4. Thus far, I’ve worked as a scriptwriter and/or story designer for Gameloft, Kabam, Sony, and Ubisoft.

By night, I’m a novelist. I wrote The Astounding Antagonists, Dracula: The Modern Prometheus (written with Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker), Hexcommunicated, and Mask Beneath Her Face. I’m hard at work on my fifth novel.

In my spare time, I design tabletop role-playing games and sourcebooks, including Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium, Lusus Naturae, Night of the Slashers, No Salvation For Witches, Obscene Serpent Religion, Pandemonio, Spite: The Second Book of Pandemonio, The Starship From Hell, Teratic Tome, ViewScream, and World of the Lost.

I’ve also written nonfiction including Fundamentals of Game Development (written with Heather Chandler), The Game Writing Handbook (which was a finalist for the 2007 Game Developer Front Line Awards), and various articles for Gamasutra.com and Writers Digest.

I’m a gamer, a gorehound, a kaijuphile, and a metalhead.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Website: http://www.rafaelchandler.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B001JRYYUA/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/797404.Rafael_Chandler

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The Life And Death Parade, by Eliza Wass ~ 1.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now

256 Pages

Synopsis: One year ago, Kitty’s boyfriend Nikki Bramley visited a psychic who told him he had no future. Now, he’s dead. With the Bramley family grieving in separate corners of their house, Kitty sets out to find the psychic who read Nikki his fate. Instead she finds Roan, an enigmatic boy posing as a medium who belongs to the Life and Death Parade—a group of supposed charlatans that explore, and exploit, the thin veil between this world and the next. A group  whose members include the psychic…and Kitty’s late mother. Desperate to learn more about the group and their connection to Nikki, Kitty convinces Roan to return to the Bramley house with her and secures a position for him within the household. Roan quickly ingratiates himself with the Bramleys, and soon enough it seems like everyone is ready to move on. Kitty, however, increasingly suspects Roan knows more about Nikki than he’s letting on. And when they finally locate the Life and Death Parade, and the psychic who made that fateful prophecy to Nikki, Kitty uncovers a secret about Roan that changes everything. From rising star Eliza Wass comes a sophisticated, mesmerizing meditation on the depths of grief and the magic of faith. After all, it only works if you believe it.

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As you can tell by my rating, The Life and Death Parade just wasn’t for me. I enjoyed the author’s previous book The Cresswell Plot and I was so excited about this when I first read the premise, but instead, it took me almost two weeks to push myself through it and at 256 pages, that’s not good.

The characters are all very one-dimensional and try as I might I was unsuccessful in connecting with any of them. Kitty and Nikki’s romance didn’t come across as believable and her love/hate relationship with Roan was annoying. While I liked the setting, the plot was sort of all over the place, leaving me confused much of the time. Adding to my confusion was that the dialogue just melded together, so half the time I didn’t even know which character was speaking. There were a couple of twists near the end that piqued my interest, but by then it was too little too late.

What I found so frustrating is that I think the concept of The Life and Death Parade had loads of potential. As is often the case with a book I wind up disillusioned with, I can’t help but wonder where the editor was. Although this was a disappointment for me, there are several glowing reviews on Goodreads, so as always, I encourage you to check them out if the premise intrigues you.