July 27, 2014

Book review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

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Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

July 23, 2014

The Sixth Sense ruined another book for me

Contains spoilers for The Sixth Sense! If you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now!

I doubt it was the first story to employ the device, but The Sixth Sense is the first movie I recall watching where we're led to believe that a major character is alive when he is in fact dead. It's gotta rank up there with the biggest reveals in movie history alongside Citizen Kane, The Empire Strikes Back, and Psycho. The idea that a character may be dead is now something I look for all the time in suspense/horror movies, and it's led me to correctly guess what's going on in at least two movies (I won't name which ones so that I don't spoil them).

Lately, the same thing has been happening with books I read. Just in the past two months, I've read two stories where at least one of the important characters is dead. In one case, I wasn't looking for a twist, so it caught me by surprise. In the second case, the book description reveals that there's going to be a twist (a bad idea IMHO because that's a hard promise to keep), so I tried to figure it out as I read the story. Sure enough, not even halfway through it, I started picking up the signs that certain characters might not be alive. I noticed how other characters didn't interact with them, how they were described, how people reacted at the mention of their names, etc. So when the supposed big reveal came at the end, I had already guessed what was going on, and the book was ruined for me. (There were also other aspects of the novel that annoyed me, so I was waiting for the twist ending to save it).

Am I going to stop wondering if so-and-so is dead when I watch a movie or read a book? Probably not. It is kinda fun to try to figure these things out. However, now that The Sixth Sense planted the idea in my head, I can't shake it.

July 19, 2014

Book review: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

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Finally, after four hit novels, Carrie Fisher comes clean (well, sort of ) with the crazy truth that is her life in her first-ever memoir. In Wishful Drinking, adapted from her one-woman stage show, Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of "Hollywood in-breeding," come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars, and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen.

Intimate, hilarious, and sobering, Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?). It's an incredible tale: the child of Hollywood royalty -- Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher -- homewrecked by Elizabeth Taylor, marrying (then divorcing, then dating) Paul Simon, having her likeness merchandized on everything from Princess Leia shampoo to PEZ dispensers, learning the father of her daughter forgot to tell her he was gay, and ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

July 12, 2014

The Mirror Stage and an interview with J.J. Stone

Fans of thrillers and suspense novels, I'm pleased to announce the release of The Mirror Stage, the debut novel of author J.J. Stone (no relation, but what a cool name!) and the first book in The Imago Trilogy! J.J. has also graciously agreed to participate in an interview that you can find below.

Ada Brandt wants everyone to think she’s normal. A writing professor at a local Seattle college, she personifies the saying “those who can’t, teach” after a few failed attempts at becoming an author led her to the classroom. She owns a chic little house, drives a sporty car, and comes home to her dog after a long day at work. You’d never know she’s the daughter of one of Seattle’s most infamous serial killers — a fact Ada has labored her whole life to bury.

Then the FBI’s BAU team arrives to investigate a recent murder spree and Ada is strong-armed by the BAU’s bull-headed lead agent James Deacon into helping with the investigation. As Ada and the BAU dive deeper into the case, two things become glaringly apparent: this is not a typical murder case, and catching their suspect is only the beginning of an investigation that will alter the lives of everyone involved.

You can buy The Mirror Stage at:

July 9, 2014

New Harry Potter "story" at Pottermore

There are a handful of fictional worlds that I would call myself fanatical about at some point in my life, and Harry Potter was one such world for me a few years ago. That's why I immediately visited Pottermore (which I'm a member of, naturally) when I found out that J.K. Rowling published a new Harry Potter "story" on the site. The reason why "story" is in quotes is that it's really a gossip column by Rita Skeeter covering the Quidditch World Cup finals. However, it's an interesting view into the lives of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and some of their other friends as adults. Being a gossip column, the story can't be relied on as 100% true, but it was entertaining nevertheless to compare Rowling's words with how I envisioned Dumbledore's Army as grown ups. At the end of the story, Rita promotes her new book, Dumbledore's Army: The Dark Side of the Demob, which will be released on July 31. Might we get more Harry Potter goodness from J.K. Rowling on that date?


July 5, 2014

Book review: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

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Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone.That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

July 1, 2014

Smashwords July Summer/Winter Sale

During the month of July, Smashwords is holding a July Summer/Winter Sale. Lots of books will be 25% off, 50% off, or more. All of my novels are part of this promotional event at half off! That's right, you can get all of my novels at Smashwords for just $1.50 this month! Remember to use the coupon code SSW50 when you check out.

Stop on by and check them out. Also, take a look at some of the other great books on sale before the month is over!