Thursday, August 3, 2017

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare


Synopsis:
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them...
Review by Patrick:

 Okay, so Rachel has been BEGGING me to read this series. She also insisted that I start with this series (the prequel) instead of the publishing order. I can't speak about whether I agree with the order yet (because I haven't read the entire series), but I can say that I should have read this book a long time ago, when she first asked me to.


Suspense, thriller, historical, London-centric, supernatural, love-trinagle-ish, automatons, vampires, magic, nephillium, poetry, betrayal, a plot twist, demons, ... it has just about everything you need for a good story. There wasn't a car chase scene (it was set in 1878), but there was a horse that was rode hard for about twenty minutes straight; does that count? Seriously, this book had all the makings of a good story. If you like stories with any of the above elements, this book will down your soul obsessed dark alley.


Cassandra Clare did an amazing job putting you in the time period. There was magic, so some artificial light was available to the characters, but all the dresses, the character's attitudes, the descriptions of the environment, everything felt real. It was as if she studied Austen, Dickens, and Doyle thoroughly so that the whole bit was as realistic as possible. I felt as if she had maps of London from back then, and was able to draw inspiration from that.


This book really has a good tempo. Every chapter led you to the next, and you kept wondering what was going to happen. If you can stay awake for the whole thing, you could read this in one sitting. It also left you with enough questions to make you want to read the next book, but with enough resolution of the story to feel good about it.


All in all, this book was a good one. Thanks, Rachel, for making me read another good book/series. This book gets a solid four stars.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: Dark and Deadly Things by Kelly Martin

     https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33407531-dark-and-deadly-things

Synopsis:
It is a strange feeling in life to watch your ghost hunter of a father live on TV while eating popcorn next to your dead mother.

That’s not entirely true. It is a strange feeling to be sure and my mother is most assuredly dead. But she isn’t next to me. She’s across the room, standing between the old mahogany grandfather clock that needs to be dusted and the old cabinet television that belonged to my grandma in the eighties. It doesn’t work anymore, the television that is. Now the cabinet is used as a stand for the newer TV version, one that you don’t have to get up and change the channels on.

~*~*~
I watched them die. I watched them all die, and I could say nothing as my father was accused of the crime. Only he didn't do it. The black shadow did... only no one will ever believe me.

And then there is Abel Hale. His entire family died at the hand of the black shadow, and he thinks I can help him get revenge.

If I could do that, I'd already gotten it. As it is, I go with Abel because it is the easiest thing to do.

Nothing is ever easy.

Seeing ghosts is a curse, but Abel's curse is something I never expected, something I fear.... something I can never trust.

Only he's all I have.

And I'm the only thing standing between him and the truth.
Review: Rating- 5
I hate horror. I hate scary things. I hate being scared. I hate all things that go bump in the night or that flicker out of the side of your eye. I’m queen of being paranoid. I can’t enter a room without turning a light on first. I can’t go upstairs unless someone is with me. I think you get the picture.
Somehow, I don’t think any therapist worth his or her salt will believe me anyway.
I LOVE Dark and Deadly Things. It is scary and I did have to call my husband home from work just so I could finish reading it. However, it’s more than just scary, it’s brilliant, and written so well. This is Kelly Martin’s best book yet. Fans of the supernatural are going to devour this one.
The world won’t ever come into focus if I keep my eyes covered.
The story is of a girl, Elise, who can see ghosts. Her dad is a ghost hunter on TV and she used to be part of his team, but no longer helps him on his show. One night she watches her dad’s live televised showing of him hunting ghosts in a families haunted house and something goes terribly wrong, leaving a family torn apart. One of the son’s in that family, Abel, tracks Elise down and requests her help.
A soul is a soul, whether living or dead.
I’m purposely leaving this review vague, because the book needs to be read in itself, not in someone else’s review. It’s amazing, realistic, scary, and it’s hilarious. In the midst of all the crazy that goes on, Kelly Martin knows how to lighten the mood, to bring you back from that dark place.
Derek the Dick promptly doubles over, his hands grab what I assume is a very small package, and I’m sure he could sing soprano in The Phantom of the Opera right about now. Strange how my knee just suddenly rose up and hit him in the junk like that.
Pick up Dark and Deadly Things, grab your blankey, keep the lights on, and get ready for a wild crazy terrifying ride that you don’t want to miss out on.
Things happen, and we have to somehow find the strength to get through it and live our lives.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Heartless by Kelly Martin

Synopsis:
Who is really the monster?
For 13 years, Gracen Sullivan dreamed about a red-eyed demon named Hart Blackwell who tortured her every night. Her mother freaked when she found out about her daughter's "hallucinations" and forced Gracen to go to the doctor, who prescribed some very powerful medication, which kept Hart out of her head for five years.

A week ago, Hart came back and brought a friend.
But something has changed, and Gracen is seeing Hart when she's awake too. And the other "friends" in her dreams? They have been found dead.
The police want to talk to her.
Her boyfriend has become distant.
Her dreams are becoming more and more intense.
Hell wants her.
Heaven has to stop her.
When push comes to shove, can Gracen fight the evil eating away inside her or will she be forced to embrace it and destroy the world.
Review by Patrick:

So I read/listened to this book and finished it exactly one year after Rachel did. Rachel purchased a copy of her audio book through Audible for me months ago and I just finished listening to it, and I'm looking forward for the next audio books. Kelly, I'm sorry this one took me so long to complete. I was busy, you know, like getting my CPA busy. But the wait is over, and my review is here.


Supernatural, Mystery, Heaven and Hell, Angels and Demons (and worse), Civil War, Family Drama, Lies and Betrayal, Suspense, Spells, Epic-Save-the-World-from-the-Bad-Guys theme, a little bit of love and conflicted emotions... This book has some of all of that. If you like just about anything in books, then pick this series up. You'll find something in there that you will like.


One of the things I found slightly irritating was the excessive soliloquies, where the character was thinking in their head (or sometimes having a conversation mentally, but... well that's okay). I mean, a normal person can't possibly have five or more separate thoughts after every line of dialogue in a conversation. I think this was more of a writing style of Kelly's than anything else, and it has its advantages. You really get the feel for what the characters 'feel' when exposed to new information. And in a sense we do have these emotional reactions during conversations, they just happen in the blink of an eye, and are not well thought out sentences in our head. That instant reaction to emotion is difficult to convey in a book without words, so it is very helpful in that regard. I think I was just not used to the writing style that she uses, and found it a slight distraction from the scenes in the book.


Julie Hinton was the narrator for the audio book. I've seen enough of Kelly's Facebook videos that I kind of know her voice. The first time I heard Julie Hinton start out in the first chapter of this book, I immediately thought, "Wow! She's reading it like Kelly would." She has that Southern drawl, which is perfectly fitting for the Southern characters. But she keeps her voices for characters different, distinct, and consistent. There is little higher praise than that for a book narrator.


The epilogue presents an obvious question: "How can Gracen be...?" Spoilers. Which, of course, is easily solved by reading the next book in the series. And one that I think I will, as soon as the audio book comes out. I'm looking forward to it. For now, this one gets 4 stars from me. Also, read Rachel's review as well. She has a slightly different take on the book (and recommends it higher than I do).

Keep reading, and may your dreams be Hartless.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

Synopsis:
Do you have a grip on your business, or does your business have a grip on you?

All entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations—personnel conflict, profit woes, and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or, once made, fail to be properly implemented. But there is a solution. It’s not complicated or theoretical. Based on years of real-world implementation in more than 100 companies, the Entrepreneurial Operating System® is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned.

In Traction, you’ll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, more growth, and more enjoyment. Successful companies are applying Traction every day to run profitable, frustration-free businesses—and you can too.

For an illustrative, real-world lesson on how to apply Traction to your business, check out its companion book, Get A Grip.
Review by Patrick:

Occasionally I don't just read fantasy and fiction. Every once in a while I get out a leadership book and see what someone else has said on the topic. This particular book came as a recommendation from my boss, and I have to say, it was a good recommendation.


This book was one that broke down "how to get where you want to go." It started with your big ideas, your dreams, and systematically got narrower and narrower until you got your head out of the clouds and you feet on the ground (where you had traction). It had great ideas for what to accomplish and when. My favorite idea were the rocks.


In addition to just breaking the ideas down, the author gives tools, big ones for each main idea, and supplementary tools to help enhance each main tool.


I also get the sense that Wickman actually has done this before. He gives his own business story, and countless stories of his clients who he helps through this process. These examples illustrate each point and help identify how to pull an idea together, what an exceptionally dedicated management team can accomplish, or show what happens when the team disregards the component.


Also, be realistic. You won't change your organization over night. As Wickman states, some over-zealous clients might get all components implemented in as little as six months, but some take up to three years. It takes time to change any one person's behavior, but changing how an organization thinks, reacts, and behaves takes time.


Great book. I can't wait to start implementing these ideas in my own organization. There are tips in here that seem so intuitive, but no one is doing them. I'm giving this book a high rating, because I think it really will help a lot of businesses and leaders.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

Synopsis:
Narnia... where dwarfs are loyal and tough and strong—or are they... where you must say goodbye... and where the adventure begins again.

The Unicorn says that humans are brought to Narnia when Narnia is stirred and upset. And Narnia is in trouble now: A false Aslan roams the land. Narnia's only hope is that Eustace and Jill, old friends to Narnia, will be able to find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land. Their task is a difficult one because, as the Centaur says, "The stars never lie, but Men and Beasts do." Who is the real Aslan and who is the imposter?

In the conclusion of the saga that began with The Magician's Nephew, a false Aslan is roaming Narnia, commanding everyone to work for the cruel Calormenes. Can Eustace and Jill find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land? The last battle is the greatest of all and the final struggle between good and evil.
Review by Patrick:

I didn't wait around to read this one. I wanted to get through it to say I finally read the series. So I did. I picked this one up every chance I got and read through it.


You know the old saying, all good things must come to an end. Well, that's true here as well, except it doesn't. And I'm not going to say more than that because... spoilers.


The story in this one was pretty good. It starts out in Narnia, instead of in the human's perspective. So that was a little odd, although similar to The Horse and His Boy. Eustace and Jill are once again the main human characters, but one of the things I love about this book is that it brings everyone back in and at least mentions them. All the humans, even Diggory and Polly. All the Narnians, even my favorite, Reepicheep. And of course, new characters to this story. We even get to meet the Calamenian god, Tash.


This book was wonderful. It described beautiful things in a way I've never imagined. I enjoyed the magic and mystery of it, and the eventual conclusion of Narnia itself. I think there was a wonderful and perfect transition from the beginning story of the book to the end, because once you got there, it was obvious that that would be how you got there... in complete bliss. And even though you had arrived, and were a little sad that you had left, you knew that everything was going to be okay in the end. Better than okay... perfect.


I'm really not sure what to think about this book. It was good, and it was certainly a conclusion. I don't know if it was the conclusion I wanted, but it was wonderful. If you've read the previous six, you must finish reading the series with this one. I'm going to give it 4 stars.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis

Synopsis:
Narnia...where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans (and, if carefully cooked, on Marsh-wiggles, too), where a prince is put under an evil spell...and where the adventure begins.

Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once is unlocked. It leads to the open moor...or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face to face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rilian is to be saved.
Review by Patrick:

Off the bat, this was another of those books that took me forever to finish. I don't just mean from when I reviewed The Voyage of the Dawn Treader until now. I mean that every time I've tried to read this series, I get stuck and put it down during this book. And I don't exactly understand why, either. This book had plenty of action and story to carry it. But even this time, I had put this book down, and didn't finish. I looked at it, and thought to myself, "I'm going to finish that book," and then I did within a few days. Maybe there is some magic in it that doesn't want you to finish it, but if you have the willpower, you can overcome it?


Eustace Scrubb makes another appearance in this book. He and a girl from his school are brought in by Aslan to solve another problem in Narnia. This time, Aslan sends them on a quest, with quite specific instructions. Of course, things never go as they should, people forget things, mistakes were made, and the optimist, Puddleglum (a marsh-wiggle), always shone a bright ray of hope (while expressing his belief that the worst was yet to come).


Interesting story, and good read. I liked it. I don't know why it took me so long to finish, and I'm looking forward to the next and last book of the series. 3 stars from me.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Release Blitz: Love in the 80s: Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Kelly Martin

Party like it's 1989!

Today is the release day for the VERY LAST book in the Love in the 80s series: ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY (Who has the song earwormed in their brain now? You're welcome.)


“What sort of name is Johnny Slade?” My dorm mate, Amy, is laying with her face buried in her pillow, crying so much I’m fairly sure the mascara stains will never wash out. Glad it’s hers and not mine. Last time this happened, I was pillowless for a week. Not my favorite time of life.

“Then again, I guess he didn’t have much say in what his name was.” It is as compassionate as I can get. I’m trying to study. Trying being the operative word. I love Amy. I do. We’ve been dorm mates since freshman year, and we’ve had our share of ups and downs. She can be a little needy, and I’m not the coddling type.

As much as I love living with her, sometimes I’d like to be alone. This is one of those times. I have a massive chem test tomorrow that I’d like not to fail. I know I shouldn’t be mad at Amy, though. It isn’t her fault the dude she dated Saturday night dined her, wooed her, sexed her, and left her.
For the past three days, she’s been stuck by the phone, waiting for it to ring, praying it is Johnny Slade, a man I’ve never met, but I’m fairly sure—according to Amy’s description—has horns.

I wish I could help her. I take that back, I wish she’d help herself by moving on with her life. Seeing as that’s not happening anytime soon, I consider spilling the beans about my little...side business.
It’s for girls just like Amy: girls who have been used,
“Then again, I guess he didn’t have much say in what his name was.” It is as compassionate as I can get. I’m trying to study. Trying being the operative word. I love Amy. I do. We’ve been dorm mates since freshman year, and we’ve had our share of ups and downs. She can be a little needy, and I’m not the coddling type.

As much as I love living with her, sometimes I’d like to be alone. This is one of those times. I have a massive chem test tomorrow that I’d like not to fail. I know I shouldn’t be mad at Amy, though. It isn’t her fault the dude she dated Saturday night dined her, wooed her, sexed her, and left her.
For the past three days, she’s been stuck by the phone, waiting for it to ring, praying it is Johnny Slade, a man I’ve never met, but I’m fairly sure—according to Amy’s description—has horns.

I wish I could help her. I take that back, I wish she’d help herself by moving on with her life. Seeing as that’s not happening anytime soon, I consider spilling the beans about my little...side business.
It’s for girls just like Amy: girls who have been used, abused, mistreated, or downright screwed over by the men in their life.

Some people might argue that I’m taking advantage of these poor souls in their state of weakness. I say, if they want to pay me, who am I to be their moral compass? I have bills to pay, and the revenge industry pays a hell of a lot more than stripping. And, dare I say it, more fun.

Amy sits up, rivers of black cake on her red cheeks that would make Frank N Furter green with envy. She sniffs a few times and takes a deep breath, “Do you think he lost my number, Nancy?”
Oh my God.

If I had a dollar for every client who called Once Bitten asking the same thing... I wouldn’t need to go to college. I could retire on a beach with a drink and a cabana boy making my every dream come true.

I start to say this to Amy, but I can’t. She’s my friend and I don’t want to hurt her. Yes, I want her to move on; getting lectured from me isn’t the way to go. “I don’t know, Amy. Maybe?”

“You really think so?” Hope. I don’t like hope. Hope kills more than guns, in my opinion.

I smile and pray it doesn’t come off plastic. “It’s possible.”

Amy sits up on her knees straighter, a huge grin reaches from ear to ear.

I wait for it...

I think Bon Jovi sang it best with “Shot Through the Heart.”
I don’t want to hurt her. Yes, I want her to move on; getting lectured from me isn’t the way to go. “I don’t know, Amy. Maybe?”

“You really think so?” Hope. I don’t like hope. Hope kills more than guns, in my opinion.

I smile and pray it doesn’t come off plastic. “It’s possible.”

Amy sits up on her knees straighter, a huge grin reaches from ear to ear.

I wait for it...

I think Bon Jovi sang it best with “Shot Through the Heart.”

It’s like a jolt of understanding hits her right in the guts all at once. Her smile contorts into a Ronald McDonald grimace and, with a sob I’m sure they hear two floors above us, Amy falls face first into her pillow.

I shouldn’t say what is running through my mind. It is tacky and impolite. Truthfully, it does no good now. The deed, as they say, is done. Can’t put the horse back in the barn—as my Grandma Molly said with a warning glare every time she decided to have the “sex” talk with me.

Amy beats me to it. “How could I be so stupid to lose my virginity to him?”

More sobs.

I throw her a tissue box ‘cause I’m nice like that.

“I don’t know, Amy. How could you be so stupid to lose your virginity to him?” Tactful? No. But damn, it is a question I’ve wanted answered since she strolled in here Sunday night with her hair teased and distressed more than normal, her tights ripped, and her shirt pulled way, way off the shoulder even for her. I don’t think he was easy on her.

Amy shakes her head in the pillow. “Dnwo loo lear bet wiered a feing a foudee-foudee...”

Muffled pillow talk isn’t my major. “Sorry, didn’t catch that.”

She lifts her head and glares at me with through squinty, tear filled eyes. “Don’t you ever get tired of being a goody-goody, Nancy? We’re seniors in college. Don’t you ever want to throw the virginity card out the window and have some fun once in a while?”

“I don’t know, Amy. How could you be so stupid to lose your virginity to him?” Tactful? No. But damn, it is a question I’ve wanted answered since she strolled in here Sunday night with her hair teased and distressed more than normal, her tights ripped, and her shirt pulled way, way off the shoulder even for her. I don’t think he was easy on her.

Amy shakes her head in the pillow. “Dnwo loo lear bet wiered a feing a foudee-foudee...”

Muffled pillow talk isn’t my major. “Sorry, didn’t catch that.”

She lifts her head and glares at me with through squinty, tear filled eyes. “Don’t you ever get tired of being a goody-goody, Nancy? We’re seniors in college. Don’t you ever want to throw the virginity card out the window and have some fun once in a while?”

I don’t mean to laugh. I can’t stop myself. I’m a horrible person. “Yeah, ‘cause you look like you’ve been having fun the last three days.”

Honestly, if that’s what it feels like to get close to someone, to let them get close to me, then no. I’d rather stay where I am in life and do what I do to make ends meet, thank you very much. I get close. I take pictures. I turn to blackmail. I get paid for it. What is wrong with that?

“That’s not what I mean.”

“I go out.” I sigh, this chemistry test won’t study itself.

“You go to the library and study. That isn’t going out.”

If she only knew. Most of those “study” trips were dates with the exes of clients. Revenge is different for everyone. I aim to please.

Amy dries up her tears mighty quickly and looks at me like she pities me. Oh for the love of...
“I feel sorry for you. I really do.”

Funny how coherent she sounds now. “That a fact?”

“It is. You have no life. No prospects of a boyfriend, and yeah, maybe Johnny Slade did break my heart, but at least I put my heart out there. What have you done?”

Gotten paid to serve up revenge. “Nothing as worthwhile as you.” I grab my book and my bag. There is no way I’m getting any studying done here tonight.

“Where are you going?”

“Out.”

“Fine,” she huffs.

“Fine.” I head for the door when our phone rings.

She looks at me.

I look at her.

I know what she’s thinking. She’s wishing for Johnny Slade.

I know what I’m thinking... I hope it isn’t a client. So far I’ve been lucky. She’s never answered a call for me, but I know the time is coming. I need to be honest with her, but now isn’t that time.

She reaches for the phone. I throw my stuff down and dive for it.

It fumbles out of her hands and into mine. “Hello?” I say before she can grab it from my hand.

“Is it Johnny?” she whispers.

I motion for her to be quiet.

“Once Bitten?” the female voice on the other end of the line says.

Amy’s big, black stained eyes plead with me to tell me who it is. I’m pleading with her to let it go. 
“Hi, Dad. It’s good to hear your voice.” I say, causing Amy to run from the room in an outburst of epic proportions.

“Excuse me?” The young woman on the other side of the line doesn’t seem to catch on very quickly.

“Never mind. Please talk quickly. How did you get this number?”

“Friend of a friend.”

Just like they all do. “What can I help you with?”

“My name is Dana Knox.”

I nearly drop the phone. I know her! Holy cow! Dana Knox has been all over People Magazine and Teen Beat for the last six months or so for dating Senator Harris’ son: Beautiful Socialite Tames Wild Political Heir Romeo.  “Chad Harris needs to pay.”


Available on



ABOUT KELLY MARTIN:

Kelly Martin loves paranormal books, villainous characters, and the dark... but she can't sleep without a nightlight. She has been married for over ten years and has three rowdy, angelic daughters. When Kelly's not writing, she loves taking picture of abandoned houses, watching horror gamers on YouTube-- even though she's a huge wimp-- and drinking decaf white chocolate mochas. She's a total fangirl, loves the 80s and 90s, and has a sad addiction to Netflix.


If you ever have a question or comment, feel free to email her at kelly@kellymartinbooks.com ♥ You can follow her writing adventure at http://www.kellymartinbooks.com/