Cover Reveal for Into the Fire!

Hello, friends!  I am so excited because I get to share my new book baby's cover with you!  YAAAAAAAAAY!  Are you ready?  *Drumroll...*

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Coming Sept. 5, 2017

An expedition to an exotic foreign city. An assassin in hiding, waiting to strike. World changing discoveries.

And, per my usual Broken Gears style, there's a little extra goodie on the back cover of the physical book:

Did I mention I'm excited?  Now I want to share the book with you too!  How about a little teaser?

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Eeeeeeeee! ðŸ˜†  This, my awesome friends, is why I haven't had a blog post in a little while.  I've been so busy trying to get preorders and all the admin stuff that comes with releasing a book done.  If you've never done it, let me just tell you: it's a lot.  For instance, there are about five different places I have to enter my new book's information, and that's just for Amazon!  Sorry there's not much else to report at the moment.  But, hey!  If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., you can keep up with me on a daily basis.  Thanks for reading!

Book Review - Lifesong

Such an appropriate backdrop for this book. :) Sorry for the bad lighting.  A storm was starting to roll in when I took this.

Such an appropriate backdrop for this book. :) Sorry for the bad lighting.  A storm was starting to roll in when I took this.

Currently drinking: Jasmine green tea with a slice of homemade Victoria sponge cake, made with fresh strawberries the hubs and I picked the other day.

Currently drinking: Jasmine green tea with a slice of homemade Victoria sponge cake, made with fresh strawberries the hubs and I picked the other day.

Currently burning: Loki from Bubble and Geek, as it smells like pine and woods, and I want an outdoorsy scent whilst I write this.

Currently burning: Loki from Bubble and Geek, as it smells like pine and woods, and I want an outdoorsy scent whilst I write this.

Star Rating: 4/5
Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy, Short Reads
Buy the book: Amazon

Synopsis (from Amazon): She came from a different place, a world living in harmony with the lifesong that flows through everything, connecting all to the great song of the universe.  Suddenly, she's trapped on our world, a place hell bent on self-destruction, a place that destroys without thought, poisons its own water supply and pollutes the very air that it breathes. Horrified to discover we have no lifesong, the question burns – what kind of a world is this, that can treat itself so?  Hauntingly beautiful, this story will make you think and feel about our planet and our choices, and wonder if, ultimately, the love of one woman is enough to save an entire world?

There's something I love about a book I can knock out quickly.  Lifesong by Julia Blake* is definitely that.  I read it in about an hour, right on the heels of A Shining in the Shadows.  And I don't consider myself a particularly speedy reader.  That's why, if you compare one of the pictures I took for my last review to one I took for Lifesong, it looks like I hadn't moved...because I really hadn't.

*Julia is such a sweet person.  She's one of my Booksta-friends, and I highly recommend that you follow her - @juliablakeauthor - on Instagram for lovely, bookish content.

All that being said, this is not what I consider a "light" read.  Lifesong is beautiful and masterfully crafted story that addresses the issues of grief and environmentalism in it's short span - no small task by any stretch of the imagination.  There's a line early on in the book during the funeral of the main character's grandfather: "She was alone."  She's not actually, as we see later in the book because she has friends and customers, but grief makes you feel alone.  It's terrible and insidious, and Julia Blake captured that so poignantly in a single line.

The theme of environmentalism is also handled very well, as the story is told from the perspective of the main character, an alien female from another planet, the inhabitants of which are all in tune with the life song of every plant and creature there.  There's also a focus on violence, hunger, and the other heartbreaking issues of our planet.  Like I said, not a light read, but the message is vitally important.

Again, the world-crafting is astonishing for such a short story.  It opens with the mention of "twin moons" rising, which immediately sets us elsewhere, and Julia Blake uses the unique perspective of the main character as a newcomer to our planet to set the stage.

My only complaints with the book are these: 1) I thought the main character came off as a little sanctimonious at times, though I know that comes from a position of not understanding the perspective of a people so different from her own.  2) In somewhat the same vein, there's a bit where it's mentioned that in regards to human beings and earth, "Where children are bred indiscriminately..." because on their planet, children are only born to couples who truly want them**.  This bothered me because that's not the fault of human beings; that's just how nature works on this planet, and it came off as a bit unfairly judgemental to me.

**Although, despite my complaints, this would be amazing if this were the case on earth.  The debates about birth control wouldn't even be an issue.  Problem solved!  How do we make that happen?

To sum up, I think everyone should read this book.  It's not like it's going to cost you a lot of time with a piece this short after all.  The message is so important, and it's beautifully written.  Plus, it's only a couple of bucks on Amazon.  What do you have to lose?

Thanks for reading.

Book Review - A Shining in the Shadows

Not a bad little setup, if I do say so myself. :D I love my little reading nook.

Not a bad little setup, if I do say so myself. :D I love my little reading nook.

Currently drinking...what?  It's a book about vampires.  This is the obvious choice. ;)

Currently drinking...what?  It's a book about vampires.  This is the obvious choice. ;)

Star Rating: 5/5
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Buy the book: Amazon

***SPOILER ALERT FOR BOOK 1, The Making of Gabriel Davenport***  It's pretty much impossible to do a review for the second book in a series without some spoilers for the first one.  If you don't want book 1 spoiled for you before you read it, follow these instructions: Go buy a copy of The Making of Gabriel Davenport if you haven't already.  Read it immediately.  All better. :)  I also recommend you repeat steps 1 and 2 with A Shining in the Shadows.  No spoilers below for that one, though. ;)  Okay, everyone ready now?  Great.  Let's go!

Synopsis (summarized from Amazon): Gabriel Davenport has been remade from darkness. Now, he must adapt to survive.  In a small seaside town, Gabriel's maker unwittingly takes his wards into the throes of a deadly new game. There are rumblings on The Bloodvyne, the mental web of linked vampire consciousness. Whispers about a cleansing, about the ruling council hunting vampires with impure blood.  Gaze long into the darkness, and you'll find old vampire foes out for revenge, new ones with their own agenda, and a witch who holds the key.

Allow me to begin by saying this book is the kind I wish I could forget so that I can experience the joy of reading it for the first time over and over again.  I enjoy Beverly Lee's* writing so much!  I know I'm probably starting to sound like a super fangirl, but it's just so enjoyable!

*Side note: she is one of the sweetest people on Instagram.  If you're not following her on there - @theconstantvoice - you really should start.

Let's talk about feelings.  So many feels.  Firstly, I feel so sad for Gabriel.  He never really got to know his mother and now he's never going to get to be an adult.  And he's stuck in an situation without the best support at first.  Survival is the number one priority, and that doesn't leave much time for grieving.  Oh, honey!  That's one thing this book does so well.  It communicates emotion so well.  It's almost tangible.  One of my new favorite characters is a guy called D'Grey.  All I will tell you is that he gives you a visceral reaction; his personality rolls off of him in waves as you read about him.  Writing magic.  That's what that is right there.

Along those same lines, we do get a really interesting mix of voices in this book.  Some of it is told from the omniscient POV of the third person narrator.  Some of it, though, is from the first person POV of Gabriel.  That was really interesting to me because Gabriel's voice is way different from the omniscient narrator's.  I loved it.  It shook up the story a little bit, gave it some different dimension.

The characters, too, all had their own personalities and voices.  And abilities, which I thought created a really well rounded world.  They all felt very distinct.  I am loving Olivia more and more as I get to know her.  The pacing was fantastic, always pulling you along without going too fast that you felt like you've missed something.  There's also a pig named Bacon, which, to me personally, will never not be funny.

I didn't read through this book as quickly as some others - I'm like a puppy dog with squirrels, except in this case the squirrels are books I want to read - but a really good sign was that I kept on coming back to it as one of my primary interests**.

**It's basketball playoff season at the moment, which means basketball games are on in my house every night.  I usually complain more about this, but I've been devouring so many books lately, it hasn't bothered me nearly as much.  Thus, A Shining in the Shadows was finished in bed one night while the hubs complained at the TV in the next room about all the dumb decisions Joe McBasketball-Pants was making as his team played the Terebithian Sportballers.

Some people have said they can't read this book at night because it's too scary.  Maybe they just need a fabulously fuzzy blanket like mine?

Some people have said they can't read this book at night because it's too scary.  Maybe they just need a fabulously fuzzy blanket like mine?

One more thing that I enjoyed about the book: the relationships.  They're very sweet and everything I hope for with people in my life.  I just want to hug them all!  Of course, I'm not talking about the evil, I'm-going-to-really-enjoy-killing-you ones, though those are great too.  I love to love these bad guys.  Not that I'd agree to get a drink with them or anything.  No, thank you.  No telling what dark hole I'd end up in...

And now the part where I talk about stuff I didn't like...erm.  Hang on.  Let me check my notes.  Well, this is awkward.  I got nothing.  I know!  That sounds totally biased and not objective at all, but I legitimately have no complaints.  You can tell Beverly Lee takes a lot of care to polish her books.  For instance, I see a lot of technical errors in indie books - punctuation, spelling, typos, etc. - but I didn't see any of that here.  I'm tempted to inquire with her as to her process because that's the kind of quality I aspire to in my own writing.  Let me know what you think by hitting me up on social media - @danafraedrich .  I'll be posting this review all over.

Thanks for reading!