Taking one giant leap outside my reading comfort zone, I just finished The Martian (£3.66 Audiobook £3.99) by Andy Wier.
Unlucky Mark Watney: His crew left him for dead on Mars when forced to leave during a dust storm.
Lucky Mark Watney: He wasn’t dead.
Unlucky Mark Watney: He has no way to communicate with Earth and too few supplies to survive until the next crew arrives.
Lucky Mark Watney: He’s a resourceful guy.
Unlucky Mark Watney: Mars is an unforgiving planet.
Lucky Mark Watney: His dogged determination is up to the job of overcoming the adversity.
Entertaining and surprisingly light-hearted, Weir has made a sci-fi novel everyone can enjoy. At times the techy explanations were boring, but I pretended it was 7th-grade science class and tuned it out until it was over.
One negative was occasional strong curse words. Apparently being stranded on Mars is frustrating and these words happen.
I recommend The Martian for teen and adults, especially if you want to step outside your usual reading material.
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: he thinks and feels in nearly human ways. He has educated himself by watching extensive television, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo realizes that racing is a metaphor: that by applying the techniques a driver would apply on the race track, one can successfully navigate the ordeals and travails one encounters in life.
Enzo relates the story of his human family, sharing their tragedies and triumphs. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations as a dog, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family.
Buy this unique novel today for £1.49 today.
Click here to purchase The Art of Racing in the Rain
My review of this book:
It has to be a dog. No offense to cat lovers, but if a pet is going to tell Denny Swift’s story, only a dog could do it. The Art of Racing in the Rain (£1.49) by Garth Stein is a novel told in the dog’s voice.
Enzo starts the story with “Gestures are all I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature.” Throughout the book I visualized his expressions and actions as he tells us about the interloper Eve, Baby Zoe, watching television, the Evil Twins and the ride of his life in the Aston Martin DB5.
Enzo became my personal friend with all the latest on the Swift family. He told their story, not as a gossip, but with his own unique insight. He loved them for who they were, not for what they should have been.
At the beginning Enzo explains that he is old and ready to go on. Much of the story was predictable. I knew what was going to happen to Eve and the situation with Annika was telegraphed from the get-go. But that didn’t diminish the book for me as I wanted to know how Enzo would tell it.
Mr. Stien’s style drew me into the story, almost making me feel as a member of the extended family. I knew enough to form attachments and to dislike the evil people. It was well-paced but there were parts I didn’t understand, such as the zebra incident. Enzo’s explanation late in the story was helpful, but it was still odd.
If you have a dog who is considered a member of the family, this book may scare you if you give much thought to the story your dog could write. My husband and I are pet-free and feel safe – unless the walls start talking.
Smokey, the very loud purring cat, tells her story with charm, wit and patriotism. When she learns the BBC will interview her, she says, “I was purring for England.” She may belong to England but she purrs her way to the hearts of the world.After being returned to an animal shelter a heart breaking number of times, Smokey finds her purrfect family. And loudly purrs her way to a Guinness World Record while promoting spaying and neutering to save lives. Smokey’s book begins with introductions by the RSPCA, Larry “The Downing Street Cat”, and the Guinness World Record Editor — who shares the history of Guinness World Records’ creation. I don’t want to include spoilers so I’ll just say Guiness World Records began, as great stories often do, in a pub.
I recommend Smokey to anyone who loves the story of a heroine triumphing over adversity by a special attribute.
Smokey The Very Loud Purring Cat is available for the Kindle for £3.42.
Mary Matthews is the author of Emeralds, Diamonds, and Amethysts (£1.30), a roaring Twenties crime novel.
I just read this book and am delighted to tell you it is being offered for £1.99 on the Kindle.
If you believe in fairy tales, or just enjoy the magic of romance, you’ll love Melanie Dickerson’s newest book The Merchant’s Daughter.
This Christian fiction is loosely based on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. Like her first novel, The Healer’s Apprentice (£1.99) inspired by Sleeping Beauty, this story is set in medieval Europe, this time in England.
Anabel is the daughter of a merchant, but after his death her family does not fulfill its obligation to work in the lord’s fields. She is forced to become an indentured servant for three years at the home of Lord Ranulf le Wyse. Rumors swirl about the irritable Lord le Wyse, who lost an eye and the use of his hand when he was mauled by a wolf. Anabel longs to join a nunnery, so she can read the Bible and escape marriage to Bailiff Tom, which her brother is trying to force upon her.
When Lord le Wyse protects her against the bailiff’s advances, a fragile friendship grows between them and Anabel believes he may not be the beast the servant girls whisper that he is.
This is an enchanting story with engaging characters, although at times I was frustrated with Anabel’s indecision. This is actually Christian fiction for young adults, so it reads quickly and the romance is tender, yet I thoroughly enjoyed it. A very interesting part of the story explored the challenges for people who didn’t have access to the Bible and priests who did not preach the word.
The Merchant’s Daughter is SuperCheap at just £1.99 on Kindle.
Today is Remembrance Day, a day to remember the men and women who have served in the military around the world. The two ladies who run this website are proud of their father, an American veteran. Please allow us to tell you about him.
Dad began his military service in February 1942. He was assigned to the Army Air Corps based in Kunming, China, as a mechanic on B-24 aircrafts. The China-Burma-India Theatre fought the Japanese who were attacking China. The only way to deliver supplies to the troops fighting in China and north of the Himalayan Mountains was to fly over the Hump, a perilous journey on any day. The planes that carried the supplies were the B-24 airplanes my dad serviced. He returned to the United States in October 1945.
Last week my father and 62 other WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans participated in an Honor Flight – a non-profit organization whose mission is to take every able veteran to Washington, DC, to see the national monuments which honor their service. Just a few weeks shy of his 92nd birthday, my father took his first commercial flight ever, spent a whirlwind day with comrades and volunteers touring the capital city, and returned to a 200-member motorcycle escort and a thousand well-wishers. The top picture is Dad at 22; the lower picture nearly 70 years later.
Only my father could get me to read military fiction. As Remembrance Day was approaching, I began searching the Kindle Store for a book about where my dad had served. Last Known Position is just the book. Written by William L. Heath, the book was published in 1949. Mr. Heath received the Distinguished Flying Cross for service in the CBI Theatre and flying the Hump.
The book is short. The story is powerful. Four young men, the flight crew of a B-24, must deliver fuel to troops stationed north of the Hump. Each of them could be someone you
know – a nephew, a neighbor, the young man working in a store you frequent, your son. They have been thrown into a war and, even though they don’t understand all the implications of the world struggle, they know their responsibilities and perform them well. Each has a method of escaping the present to cope with the stress of war.
The story requires detail of the plane and the flying process. This is all woven into the story and doesn’t read like a technical manual. The story is suspenseful and I whispered a prayer for these young men, hopeful all would end well yet fearful that it wouldn’t.
Dad read the book on his Kindle. He said it is factual and that he knew the places in the book. I strongly recommend this book this Remembrance Day. You will meet four young men who fought to preserve freedom in the world and you will remember that freedom isn’t free. God bless every man and women who has served to protect the world.
Book description: The planes these men flew were called tankers – B-24’s with the guns and turrets removed and four large containers of gas in the bomb bays instead of bombs. They flew these planes with a minimum crew of pilot, copilot, radio operator, and engineer; and they went out on their missions unescorted and defenseless, crossing the dangerous mountain terrain day and night in all forms of weather, most of it bad.
It was not as bad a war as some men fought, but there were times when it was bad enough. And since the real adversary was the weather through which these men flew, their most gallant campaigns aloft were reduced to lonely, private struggles for survival. The book is available today for £2.14.
A weekend of travelling gave me the opportunity to finish The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer. A classic British whodunit set in the 1930s or so, the arrogant Sir Arthur Billington-Smith and his weak, timid wife Fay host a weekend house party, attended by an eclectic group including Fay’s sister Dinah; a social-climbing couple; Sir Billington-Smith’s dim-witted son and his self-centered starlet fiancé; and a guest with the last name of Guest who just happens to be in love with Fay.
Everyone has a motive to murder Sir Arthur. Ms. Heyer sets the stage such that any one of the houseguests could have been the guilty party. An inspector from Scotland Yard comes to investigate the murder by working through the clues, most notably the unfinished clue found on Sir Arthur’s desk, written in his own hand.
While entertaining, this isn’t a nail-biter, suspenseful mystery. According to Wikipedia, Ms. Heyer’s husband often provided basic outlines for the plots of her thrillers. She developed the story from there and this one proved that nothing uncovers the deepest buried secrets like a murder. The English aristocracy is not exempt from familial dysfunction, either.
I read the book over several weeks. The many characters were identified by their first names in some places and their formal name in others and I struggled to remember who was who. With so many characters, Ms. Heyer did not develop any of them deeply. To be honest, I didn’t like most of the crowd – which worked out nicely as I wouldn’t have minded if any of them had been the murderer. The book is selling today for £5.49.
Click here to purchase The Unfinished Clue
Easton Hearts: The Complete Series by Anna Murray is the bundle of her three historical suspenseful romances – Unbroken Hearts, Untamed Hearts and Undaunted Hearts. The author identifies the series as telling the unique tale of how Cal and Roy Easton built a family amidst the hardships of post-Civil War Montana.
Unbroken Hearts introduces the Easton brothers, two men ranching in the lawless west. Roy rescues orphaned Sarah and her younger sister Emily from an unsavory situation and takes the two home. While caring for the disabled mother of the Easton brothers, a romance blooms between Sarah and Cal, all the while they fight off violent men intending to take the ranch from the Eastons. I was a bit put-off by the violence at the beginning of the book. The action soon finds its footing and continues through to the happily-ever-after.
Untamed Hearts is Roy’s story, now an outcast and rootless in the Montana Territory. He meets Margaret, an Eastern woman who needs his help finding her brother. She’s not entirely honest with Roy and he must save the day more than once. The mystery is a unique twist that I was not expecting in a Western romance. The tension between Roy and Margaret is the best developed of the series.
Undaunted Hearts is a shorter novel of a grown-up Emily and Luke, a man searching for his brother in the wild west. The story seemed a bit rushed, but still included suspenseful action. Two distant (and a bit odd) relatives are introduced late in the book. Perhaps they will have their own stories in upcoming releases.
The action keeps you reading, the formatting is excellent, and the plots are more than the usual Western romance fare. I purchased the books individually as they were released. You can purchase all three books in one e-book file today for only £4.17 – that’s like getting one free over the individual price.
Easton Hearts: The Complete Series
Tim Roux is the author of ten novels, including the crime / gangster novel The Dance of the Pheasodile (£0.86) that introduced the word ‘Pheasodile’ to the English language, and the fantasy thriller Missio (£0.86). He is also the Managing Editor of Night Publishing and a regular subscriber to the online international writers’ magazine, SpeakWithoutInterruption.
Ragnar the Murderer: (£0.86) Lily Byrne is the name the wonderfully smart writer Catherine Chisnall uses for her fun Romances, and I think she got it absolutely spot on with ‘Ragnar’ – the first of a series. It is beautifully written, wry, exciting and a little bit spicy. Can’t wait for the next one!
Book description: It is a time of uneasy truce, of two races living side-by-side, inter-marrying even, but forever on the look out for treachery among their neighbors. They meet, they bathe together and they consort. Life is short, fun is likely to be brief, and opportunity has to be seized wherever it can be found without unleashing long-held rivalries and carnage. Then the youthful Dane, Ragnar, falls in love with Aelfwyn the Angle who is already promised by duty to one of her own village. Ragnar and Aelfwyn’s passionate love affair is a secret which will never be hidden for long, but theirs is not the only secret around.
The Bringer: (£0.86) Despite all appearances, this is really high voltage Romance with tons of love and other emotions poured in, and some very surprising (but credible) twists. If you want to wallow in something warm and satisfying, this is for you. Written by Samantha Towle.
BiteMarks: (£0.86) This is a cop murder mystery thriller with lots of bite in all senses. Really electric stuff. It actually has nothing to do with the supernatural and everything to do with a roller-coaster ride of a great read, with a sequel to come. Written by Drew Cross.
New Beginnings: (£0.86) Another classic Romance of the girl who falls madly in love with a man who is firstly unobtainable because he is very happily married, and then unobtainable because he is grieving. How do you chat up a man under such sensitive circumstances without appearing exploitative and predatory? Johanna Nield handles this tale with great sensitivity herself and a speedy, charming style.
Maureen A. Miller is an author of romantic suspense and a big fan as well. Check out her latest book Jungle Of Deceit available for £2.13.
GONE is the perfect title for this riveting romantic suspense novel. Gone is FBI Special Agent Clare Marshall’s youth when her crazed mother rips Clare and her siblings apart with an act of unimaginable violence. Gone is Clare’s baby sister who is whisked away that very day. Many years later, as Clare’s mother is about to be executed by lethal injection, Clare finds a lead on the location of her sister. Clare travels to South Carolina to meet the young woman she has not seen in nearly twenty years, but when Clare gets there she finds out that her sister is gone. Although the reason for Beth’s disappearance seems explicable at first, the suspense starts Clare on a wild ride.
Along with her on that ride is FBI Special Agent, Jake Sutton, a flame from the past. He provides the proper dose of romance that I look for in a romantic suspense. And as Clare closes in on her sister, she too will be gone at the same hands of evil that have claimed Beth. You can purchase GONE for £2.14 today.
Tempo Rubato: Stolen Time: (£0.86) Written by Brendan Carroll, some might categorize this novel’s genre as time-travel, or quite simply, fantasy. Tempo Rubato was written with such conviction that I cannot classify it as either. This novel reads as a tale of suspense that is contemporary and could absolutely be feasible.
Elisse Manheim, armed with her gifted aptitude and an extensive knowledge of Wolgang Amadeus Mozart embarks on a thrilling adventure as she leads her own investigation into the murder of one of her ex-students. With an intellect and education on Mozart to equal her own, Elisse has met her match in William Masters, a composer sequestered away in the cryptic Left Field facility that is now her new employer. William Masters knowledge on the legendary composer far surpasses that of Elisse to the point that she suspects he could actually be Mozart.
Nothing is what it appears to be at Left Field, and Elisse is wise to trust no one. Yet the temptation of William Masters is far too great to resist. As was this book!
Sleight Malice: (£0.86) Vicki Tyley is a dominant author in the mystery genre. I hate to resort to the cliché, “I couldn’t put it down”, but honestly the term applied when it came to this book. Desley James, the protagonist, was very real to me. When we first meet her, she is not a woman with superhuman emotional strength, which is what helped me to relate to her. But she was stubborn, and persistent in her quest to determine the fate of her best friend when the police are too slow with their investigation.
Vicki Tyley introduces us to a host of suspects and takes us across Australia on several leads that Desley deftly digs up. And as Desley gets closer to determining the fate of her friend, the danger escalates.
The Australian setting was something I enjoyed tremendously. We read for escape, and yet inevitably, no matter what the book, we walk away having learned something. I was delighted to learn that what I call a windbreaker here in America is referred to as a windcheater in Australia. That made me smile. Ms. Tyley makes me smile with her mysteries as well.
The First Victim: (£2.80) This book made me nervous, literally. That is a good thing considering it was designed to. Emily Wright is forced to face her traumatic past when she returns to her home town of Lakeside Acres. Fifteen years ago she escaped from the hands of a sadistic killer. In Lakeside Acres, the Baby Doll Strangler is still waiting for the one that got away.
When I say this book made me nervous, I felt that I was literally in the van with Emily when she is captured. Her fear became my fear. The last quarter of this novel was written with such eloquent suspense that I had to have the light on and the blanket clutched in my hand.
One would not expect an element of romance in a novel such as this, and yet, Bailey, the Lakeside Acres deputy provided the right touch to let us know that Emily’s life was not so grim. There was a future for her as long as she could survive the ride in the van. The First Victim was written by JB Lynn.
Michelle Scott has had stories appear in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, All Possible Worlds and Realms. Her fantasy novel, The Dragons of Hazlett was nominated for a 2009 EPPIE Award. Michelle’s YA novels include the vampire romance, Blood Sisters (£0.86), and the fantasy Uncommon Magic (£0.86). Her latest fantasy novel, An Anthem For The Battle Lands , (£10.00 paperback) was just released from Mundania Press, LLC. Michelle lives in southeast Michigan with her husband and three children.
Satan Loves You: (£0.86) The irreverent humor, outlandish story, and hilarious characters make this light-hearted romp through hell the perfect summertime read. The story revolves around Satan, a benighted evil deity whose work to process damned souls is thwarted by workers’ strikes, lack of funds, and lack of respect from his fellow supernatural beings. And with the Ultimate Death Match between heaven and hell rapidly approaching, Satan worries that he’ll lose the competition and be out of a job. But when a nun with an uncanny knack for accidentally killing people winds up on Satan’s doorstep, he finally finds a way to teach heaven a lesson once and for all. Hendrix’s humor has that Monty Pythonesque absurdity which made me laugh throughout the story. Unexpected left turns are one of the hallmarks of good comedy, and Hendrix’s book takes plenty of them.
The Wrath of Kings and Princes: (£2.14) Although the book is second in a series of novels, it is a stand-alone story. Brondt Kammfer tells the story of Childe Cern, the rebellious older son of an aging monarch. Cern’s father is attempting to persuade his son to take on the responsibilities of ruling the kingdom, but Cern, who is more interested in swords and women, refuses. And when Cern meets a mysterious young woman from a faraway village, he seals his fate by turning his back on his family. This may sound like a simple plot, but it is only one thread in this complex book. Kammfer expertly weaves together several different subplots making this book a fascinating, yet never confusing, read. Revenge, spurned love, dark magic, murder, and betrayal fill the pages of this novel. The book so successfully sucked me in that, by the end, I could not put it down.
Water for Elephants: (£4.99) by Sara Gruen was one of those books that I promised myself I would hate since everyone else seemed to love it. But once I started reading, I knew that resistance was futile. Jacob Jankowski drops out of veterinary school and hires on to help with the exotic animals in a ramshackle traveling circus. But as Jacob, who is young, idealistic, and innocent, becomes more and more enmeshed in the dramas playing out in the circus, he realizes that humans are more violent and cruel than the wild animals in his care could ever be.
The setting alone, a depression-era travelling circus, was very gripping, but the characters won my heart. And not just the human ones. There’s plenty of personality in the menagerie as well. Although some parts of the book are difficult to read due to the animal cruelty involved, overall, the story plays out nicely.
The Lonely Polygamist: (£4.78 paperback) by Brady Udall. Here, Golden Richards, a man with four wives and twenty-eight children is so desperately lonely that he seek attention elsewhere. Although Richards loves his family and knows that they are pining for his affection, he is trapped in his chaotic life and feels that he has nothing left of himself to give. The story is heartbreaking, but the delivery is humorous. In the tradition of such writers as John Irving and Richard Russo, Udall creates a book that is as funny as it is tragic. This isn’t so much a story about fundamentalists and religion as it is about the human condition. The book comments on how it is possible to be surrounded by people yet remain utterly alone. So even while snickering over the absurd situations that Golden and his wives find themselves in, I was nodding my head in understanding. The Lonely Polygamist is a book that is surprisingly easy to relate to.