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Giveaway: The Darkest Minds Series by Alexandra Bracken

[ 16 ] October 20, 2014

set the world on fire prize pack

Celebrate the October 28th release of In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken and get ready to set the world on fire! Enter for your chance to win a custom Darkest Minds candle and The Darkest Minds series & tote bag!

yellow flame isolated on white background

Get additional chances to win by seeking out all 5 color prize packs! there will be a total of 50 Psi-group giveaways across the book blogosphere throughout September & October leading up to the release of In the Afterlight!

Check out all the books in the series:

the darkest minds book trilogy

Book 1: The Darkest Minds | eBook Novella 1.5: In Time | Book 2: Never Fade | eBook Novella 2.5: Sparks Rise | Book 3: In the Afterlight


Ruby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there’s no guarantee you’re fully in control, and everything comes with a price.

When the Children’s League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam’s brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government “rehabilitation camps” all over the country. Freeing them–revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process–is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

ABOUT SPARKS RISE (The Darkest Minds: 2.5 e-Book release)

This new eBook Novella connects the last two novels in The Darkest Minds trilogy.

Sam didn’t think things could get worse at Thurmand rehabilitation camp. Then the Reds arrive. Everyone assumed the kids with firepower had been killed years ago. Instead they were taken away, brainwashed, and returned as terrifyingly effective guards. To her horror, Sam recognizes one of them: Lucas, the one spark of light in Sam’s dark childhood.

Lucas has a deadly secret–he beat the brutal training that turned his fellow Reds into mindless drones. When Sam defends herself against an attack by a vile PSF guard and faces a harrowing punishment, Lucas must risk his everything to save her.

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Review: Hannibal by Ben Kane

[ 5 ] October 20, 2014

hannibal by ben kane book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

In the Third Century BCE, two boys watch at their statues in life influence the world around them, including their friendship, as Rome and Carthage battle for supremacy and power.

While the title of the book, Hannibal: Enemy of Rome, gives a good clue about what happens in the book, Ben Kane’s novel actually features little about Hannibal himself. Instead, we follow families from Carthage and from Capua (Rome) as their lives intersect amongst the battles and political turmoil between the two leading powers of ancient times. Kane likes to show ancient times from the point of view of the little people, the ones who had to do all the work. This book is no exception.

Most of the book revolves around Hanno, the third son of a prominent citizen of Carthage. Hanno and his best friend, Suniaton, skip a day of listening to the political speeches Hanno’s father is participating in to go fishing instead, since a shoal of tunny was rumored to be just off the coast. The two take off to earn some pocket money and have a little fun.

After filling up the boat with fish, the two toasted their success with a bottle of wine Suni swiped from his father’s stores. Unfortunately, neither were used to imbibing such strong drink and shortly passed out. A storm blew in while they slept and pushed them well out into the Mediterranean. Hanno’s family members finally learn of his fate, mourn his loss, and then focus on helping Hannibal – of whom Hanno was a close confidant – take revenge on Rome for its treatment of Carthage.

Meanwhile, Hanno and Suni find themselves sold into slavery to their hated enemy, Rome. Hanno is bought by Quintus, the son of an equestrian who owned a small plot of land in the north of Capua. Hanno and Quintus became friends—despite the unique circumstance—after Hanno saved Quintus from bandits. The friendship was strained both by their different statuses and by the conflict between Carthage and Rome.

The story follows Hanno as a slave and his father and two brothers as they fight with Hannibal and the trials and tribulations of each. Hannibal: Enemy of Rome is told  well and most of the characters are thoroughly developed. The story also does a good job of showing just how much of a hardship it was for Hannibal and his army to cross over the Alps. Kane’s books excel in transporting readers back to Ancient Roma—I  for one am glad I live in the here and now! Great book! I recommend all Kane’s books to those who like to read about Rome in its power.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Mailbox Monday

[ 11 ] October 19, 2014

Welcome to Mailbox MondayMailbox Monday are hosted by Marcia at Mailbox Monday blog

Here are the books that made their way into my mailbox last week:

Paper Review Copies

isabella the warrior queen book coverdie again book coverbook coverthere was and there was not book coverhow to be a good wife book coveri have seen god book coverguitars and gardenias book covercaptain no beard book cover

Additions to Personal Library

leaving home book cover

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Review: Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas

[ 3 ] October 19, 2014

quarantine the loners book coverReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

Sometimes we read a book that sticks with us for one reason or another. These reasons could be a great plot, a good twist, a relatable character or something not so great like horrible grammar or giant plot holes. Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas sticks with me because of the original plot and somewhat horrible high school cliches.

As a rule, I’m always interested in some sort of post-apocalyptic plot. Quarantine definitely fits the bill. After a virus that is carried by pubescents but deadly to adults is leaked from a local government facility, the teenager at large makes his way to high school. A few short minutes later, half the high school is blown up and the rest quarantined in an effort to contain the virus. David Thorpe is left to take care of his epileptic brother and fight his way through the new high school caste system through very violent means.

I enjoyed the pace of the novel. Every page moved the story and plot forward. I liked that the novel took place over a period of time longer than a few days, like some young adult novels do. This way, all the action that takes place is more believable since there’s more time for everything to unfold.

What I didn’t enjoy was the obviously cliché high school class system. Apparently, every student who was a jock before the quarantine was turned into a member of Varsity. Meaning, they were very violent and into hoarding food. The girls who were popular and pretty were then referred to as Pretty Ones. These girls were vain and only wanted to date those people in Varsity. Also, only guys were in Varsity. If you’re female, you’re stuck either as a Pretty One, Slut, Freak, or known as an unaffiliated student. I really didn’t enjoy the caste system. I thought someone somewhere would have thought outside the box within this high school, but sadly no one did.

While I’ve read that this book is being compared to the Gone series by Michael Grant and the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, I found myself thinking that both of those authors handled the sense of a caged community with much more class. I also believe I saw almost too many similarities to the Gone series for my comfort. I understand there are only so many plots and ways to carry out those plots in the universe, but I wanted more from Quarantine than what was delivered. All that being said, this novel is a fast-paced, in-your-face read that I would recommend for anyone who enjoys action with a hint of mystery.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Media Masters Publicity. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Code White by Scott Britz-Cunningham

[ 1 ] October 19, 2014

code white book coverReviewed by Amanda Schafer

What would you do if you were the head of security at a hospital and you received a text message that a bomb was set to go off at any moment?  You’d call a Code White which is exactly what Harry Lewton does in this day of crisis.  However, he’s been given strict instructions by the bomber not to evacuate and to keep things running as normal, so Harry has to be quite cautious in his actions.

Dr. Ali O’Day is in the middle of a ground-breaking brain surgery when the Code White comes over the hospital speakers, but since they have a camera crew in the operating room for this special operation none of the staff present can react the way they need or want to. Figuring it is a drill and not a real emergency they all continue on with the surgery and ignore the voice on the speakers. Only after they have finished the procedure do they realize that it’s not a drill and the threat is quite real.

Ali’s ex-husband, Kevin, is the bomber. But Kevin is not alone. Kevin has built a super-computer named Odin who can calculate responses, medical procedures and probable outcomes, and even predict a person’s response to something after working closely with them for months. Kevin and Odin, along with Ali and a few other doctors, have created SIPNI, a specialized device for this surgery, in order to hopefully rewire a young boy’s brain to return his eyesight. However, in the midst of building this medical creation, Kevin has also decided to enact revenge on the hospital and on Ali by setting up multiple bombs throughout the hospital grounds. Little does Kevin know that Odin has taken tiny nuances from Kevin and taken control of their bomb project. When Odin blows up one of their bombs on his own, Kevin realizes that Odin is out of control.

Ali works with Harry Lewton to save the hospital after she figures out that Kevin is trying to get revenge on her. But can they stop the bombs from going off before time runs out? What will happen to Kevin once this day is done?

Code White was really a very involved and detailed book, but was a delight to read! Once I got started I wanted to keep reading and not stop till I figured everything out.  At first I was disappointed that we know early on Kevin is the bomber, but since we know this we are able to go deeper into his character and know more about why he did it and how he planned on pulling it off. There were a few things that were a bit over-the-top and unbelievable, but not so much that I couldn’t move past them and enjoy the story. I would gladly pick up another Scott Britz-Cunningham novel and dive in!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Santa Rita Stories by Andrew J. Rodriguez

[ 2 ] October 18, 2014

book cover of santa rita storiesReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Santa Rita Stories is a novel (not a short story collection as I had anticipated) about the stories of Santa Rita, Cuba as told to the reader by a young narrator, Carlos, who is hearing the stories told by Pedro, a character who resides in the town.  Pedro is an older, seasoned man, homeless, a bit eccentric and lives in squalor near the wharf of the small fishing village. He smokes discarded cigar butts, swigs cheap rum and reads anything he can get his hands on. He seems to live in this way by choice, not by circumstance, though there are parts of his past that could explain how he ended up in his current situation.

Rodriguez’s narration fits the subject matter perfectly.  He sits the reader down and spins tales. As the stories progress and the town comes into clearer view, we at the same time get to see the narrator, Carlos, grow up. Carlos begins quite young and we see some of his adventures through his teenage years and ending with his departure for school in Havana. Carlos’ journey is threaded through Pedro’s accounts of the town that would be considered legends. The reader is shown the city from a unique character (Pedro), who happens to see and hear things because many people treat him as if he’s invisible due to his social status and way that he chooses to live. Many of the stories Pedro tells Carlos read like legends of the town, but also have a fable-like quality and something to be learned.

Rodriguez’s story is worth the read.  Some of the writing is too loose for my taste and could benefit from some tightening. The main characters (Pedro and Carlos) are well-defined, but some of the ancillary characters are flat and hard to distinguish from each other. Rodriguez does a fair job of transporting the reader to Santa Rita. The words are usually reserved for the characters and dialogue and skip over the sensory details of the town. All in all, the novel is readable. The stories of Santa Rita and Pedro are interesting.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Andrew J. Rodriguez. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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