Welcome to my train of thought. Just a warning, there might be turbulence. I'm a little eccentric, but hopefully you'll find something here that'll make the crazy worth it. Stay tuned for book reviews, ramblings on random things, and all sorts of stuff that tickles my fancy. But keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. My brain is a scary place!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Published 2015, Grand Central (November)
Stars: ★★★★★

A full review will be posted closer to release date, but I have to say...

OH. MY. GOD.  That ending was exactly what I WANTED.  I AM FLOORED.

Bring on book #16 asap, Preston/Child.  There's a reason Pendergast has been one of my top favorite series for over a decade... it's because Preston/Child know just how to play with your emotions, when to hold back, and when to let all hell break loose!

While it's not my favorite book of the series (that title still belongs to Cabinet of Curiosities, one of my favorite books of all time), it is one of my absolute favorite endings/cliffhangers of the entire series!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Getting Wilde by Jenn Stark

Getting Wilde by Jenn Stark
Published 2015, Elewyn
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really like the characters of Sara Wilde and the Magician.  I feel like this book filled in a little of the backstory that I needed it to, and it introduced some new characters that will provide some good interactions in futures stories -- Brody, Nikki, the Devil, the High Priestess, etc.

I had FUN with this book, but I had a serious problem with it -- it felt UNFINISHED.  It didn't feel like there was a complete story, but instead was comprised of mostly character development and getting everything into place for future books.  I appreciate the world-building, but I needed it to have that story -- which in this case seemed to be the missing girls, who turned out to be a plot device and the last 25% of the book was more setup, rather than a big explosive finish leading into the next book's story.

Overall, I'd read another, to see what happens with Sara Wilde and if all this setup was worth it.  I'd give it that shot because of the snarky awesome-sauce that is Sara.

Monday, August 17, 2015

One Wilde Night by Jenn Stark

One Wilde Night by Jenn Stark
Published 2015, Elewyn
Stars: ★★★★☆

This little novella was an "introduction" to the world of Sara Wilde, a Connected artifact hunter who reads Tarot cards to find magical and psychic-powered special objects.  It also introduces the idea of The Magician, a character who forms a bond with Sara and will surely play a much bigger role in book one, Getting Wilde.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the first book, which I just got from Netgalley, as this novella did a good bit of world-building without making it tedious, introduced some intriguing characters, and definitely piqued my interest with the artifact-hunting and card-reading!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Harvest by Chuck Wendig

The Harvest by Chuck Wendig
Published 2015, Skyscape
Stars: ★★★★☆

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy for an unbiased review.

What a trilogy!  Lots of twists and turns, and quite a few things going the exact opposite of the way I was anticipating -- which I love!  While it's fun to figure things out early sometimes, it can also be annoying to constantly be guessing and getting everything right.  Where's the fun in never being shocked?  Well, this series did that for me.  While there were a few things that played out just as I expected, there were others that played out in entirely the opposite way I forecasted.

I'm a little sad it's over, to be honest.  I actually cared about these characters and their fight to change their world.

Thanks Chuck.  Your books always entertain me!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Blightborn by Chuck Wendig

Blightborn by Chuck Wendig
Published 2014, Skyscape
Stars: ★★★★☆

Thanks, Netgalley, for giving me this great Chuck book in exchange for an unbiased review... though it's hard to be unbiased when Chuck is so awesome!!!

Seriously, this one kicked it up a notch... actually, way past a notch.  Our heroes and heroines got deeper into trouble, a few new characters were introduced, and some allegiances changed back and forth a few times.

This series is proving to be further and further from being what I thought it would be, based off my pre-judgments and the cover (strictly sci-fi, if you were wondering), and is turning out to be a handful of genres deftly joined into a fantastic world.

Book three is next up (okay, at the time of this, I'm a quarter of the way into book three already).  Let's see if the end of the trilogy is as explosive as the end of book two.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig
Published 2013, Skyscape
Stars: ★★★★☆

First, thanks to Netgalley for providing me with the Trilogy for review.  Not only do I get to read the whole thing and provide my unbridled opinion on it, but I get to do it for CHUCK books!!!  (Check out his Miriam Black series if you want a prime example of awesomeness.)  So thanks Netgalley. Other than these review copies, I got nothing in return for my review (well, maybe some satisfaction from reading a great book!)

Chuck's world this time is far from that of Miriam and her darkness.  It's a bright land of... corn.  Corn everywhere. As far as the eye can see... corn.  Not just any corn, but corn so GMO'd that it's barely edible and can move on its own.  Add yet another creepy level to the already creepy endless cornfield.  Yikes.

The Heartlanders live on the surface of the planet, tending the out-of-control kudzu-like corn and providing labor and supplies to the Empyrean, the rich people who live above in giant flotillas in the sky.

Enter Cael and his friends.  They're scavengers, trying to find anything they can to sell and provide for their families and their town.  But that's all about to change...

This book is drastically different in tone from Chuck's other works.  It's YA for one, but it's also a big story -- overall, the first one points the way towards what I think will be a revolution and a change in the status quo of Cael's entire world.

And I think the journey is going to be a good one, especially if it's half as fun and easy to tear through as this book one of the trilogy.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Trust No One by Paul Cleave

Trust No One by Paul Cleave
Published 2015, Atria
Stars: ★★★★☆

Netgalley provided me with a copy of this book for reading and review purposes.  My review is unbiased and based strictly upon my opinion of the quality of the work.

After much pondering since I finished yesterday, I've settled on some feelings.  For most of this book, I was entirely certain it would be a five star read.  The concept was awesome, the cover was gorgeous, the writing was convincing -- seriously convincing. Alzheimer's is a scary disease.  It eats away at who you are, slowly killing you while leaving you alive.  This book does an amazing job of providing some level of feeling that people who have this terrible sickness must go through.  Sure, it's probably not all medically accurate... but it's a thriller.  And it really works for the narrative.  It allows us to question as much as the protagonist does, while knowing bits and pieces more than he does because we remember things from his journal entries that he no longer can recall.

I guess what killed that fifth star for me was the ending.  An understandable but heartwrenching twist totally irked me.  Everything had built up just the way I was anticipating... and those last few pages just ripped my proverbial feet out from under me.  The ending made sense, and was almost necessary... but it tore my heart out. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Conquering Dark: Crown & Key #3 by Clay and Susan Griffith

The Conquering Dark: Crown & Key #3 by Clay and Susan Griffith
Published 2015, Del Ray
Stars: ★★★★☆

In exchange for an unbiased and honest review, Netgalley gave me this ARC.  Thanks, Netgalley!

Now that is what I call a roller-coaster ride!  Non-stop action, pretty much right from the beginning.  The battle versus Gaios takes center stage as two of his minions, the Baroness of mechanical mayhem and Fergus the Fire Elemental, attack a royal coronation... from there, it's a globe-hopping, city-destroying crazy romp that culminates in a final battle that proves the team works better together.  It's not all happy endings though... sadness ensues.

Overall, a lot of fun.  I very much enjoy this series!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Crossed by Eliza Crewe

Crossed by Eliza Crewe
Published 2015, Independent
Stars: ★★★★★

Wow!  This one is chock full of twists and turns!!! Every time you think you've got it nailed down how it's going to go, the story takes another sharp turn... even straight into Hell!

Meda yet again proves to be one of the best YA-esque protagonists in the genre, with her not-so-good-girl attitude, spunk, and snarky wit ruling the narration.  Jo proves for the billionth time that she's not all talk, but isn't phased by hard choices.  Chi remains the lovable, heroic, stupidly reckless and hopelessly hopeful Crusader.  Some other characters make returns in this book, which ties up a lot of loose ends.

I've heard rumors that this *could* be the last Meda book.  Say it ain't so, Eliza! SAY IT AIN'T SO!!!

Another solid entry in the Soul Eater series.  Tied up enough that it's believable as a series ender, but left enough potential threads that Crewe could return to it if she so chooses (and she'd better so choose, so help me Meda).

If I had more than five stars to give, this series would get the extras.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Published 2006, Tor
Stars: ★★★★★

Way to go Sanderson. You did it to me yet again.

Yet again I go in slow, learn the world, and hesitate to love your characters... because I know, somehow, you're going to make me invest in them and then RIP MY HEART OUT.

Really cool world, super-developed and original magic system, great characters, heart-breaking but logical and shoulda-seen-that-one-coming twists, and an overall sense of atmosphere and connection that makes me long to have even a fraction of Sanderson's talent as a writer and world-creator.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Tournament by Matthew Reilly

The Tournament by Matthew Reilly
Published 2015(US), Gallery
Stars: ★★★★☆

Matthew Reilly is really good at thrillers.  Like, super fun, crazy explosions, fast pace, unbelievable yet unputdownable thrillers.  But then I attempted to read Troll Mountain, his foray into fantasy.  No thanks.  Not so good.  So when I saw that Reilly had branched out into historical fiction and mystery, I was a little concerned... but since I love Reilly's work (other than Troll Mountain, ick!), I had to see if this would be any good.

And it was.  I loved the characters of Bess and Ascham, and there were plenty of murders and lots of intrigue to keep it entertaining.  I'll give it four stars, with the missing star because of the convoluted solution.

All in all, a strong entry by Reilly into the historical mystery genre.  Much better than I had expected, considering Troll Mountain's blah-ness.  (Did I mention I really didn't care for Troll Mountain at all???)

Thanks Netgalley for this review copy.  I've provided my honest opinion, and gotten nothing other than the ARC in return.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
Published 2013, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Stars: ★★★★☆

This was probably my favorite one since the first one.  Plenty of suspects, a different locale that set our team on edge, actual danger for some of the characters, and...

I thought I had the killer(s?) figured out, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong.

Highly entertaining one, this. :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Quick Review: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Published 2010, Delacorte Press
Stars: ★★★★☆ (3.5)

3.5 stars

Holy hell.  MORE questions, few answers, and yet, I can't look away.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Published 2011, Del Ray (US version)
Stars: ★★★★★

This one was a little slower paced than book one -- if you don't count the character/world introductions from the first one -- at least at the beginning.

Honestly, I didn't think that this one, with all the focus on jazz music, would appeal to me very much. I was wrong.  By the end of it, I loved it.  The book, not jazz.  Still not a jazz person.  I don't dislike it.  I just don't go out of my way to listen to it.

The world is growing in this book.  More characters, more good guys, more villains, more creatures, more kinds of magic.  I like that.  Growth is good.  And some events at the end, while sad (and almost a little trope-ish in the male UF world), didn't feel unnecessary to me.  In fact, I felt like what happened HAD to happen.  It's going to make Peter Grant a different, more rounded character, who has a deeper respect for what he is dealing with, the consequences, and the lives involved.  It's going to make him better.

If I didn't have, oh, a bajillion ARCs and library books and challenge books to read, I'd be picking up book three immediately.  Instead, I'll have to wait a few weeks -- but it will be in the queue as soon as possible, especially considering that little twist of the last few pages.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Crushed by Eliza Crewe

Crushed by Eliza Crewe
Published 2014, Independent
Stars: ★★★★★

Eliza Crewe better be really glad I read this so close to the release of book three, or she would have had to deal with a temper tantrum bigger than any war between Crusaders and Demons.  Just saying.

Absolutely a blast.  Lots of fun, lots of action, lots of MEDA-SNARK. :)

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths

A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
Published 2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Stars: ★★★★☆ (3.5)

3.5 stars

I'm having a hard time deciding just what to rate this between 3 and 4 stars, so I'm going to settle on 3.5 stars.

Storywise, I feel like it was a pretty week entry in the series.  There were a LOT of plot strings in this one, and while it's nice that they all didn't end up being the same culprit/storyline, they made for a tangled mess at certain points.  Also, the plot twist was interesting.  Not what I expected, but also made for a little bit of a letdown in terms of solving a whodunnit.  Thus, 3 stars of "like it" but not "love it" quality.

On the other hand, there was quite a bit of development in many of the characters, Ruth, Cathbad, Nelson, Michelle, Max, Judy, Clough, etc.  I'm a big fan of character growth and development (one primary reason I love series so much), so this tempted me to make it 4 stars.

All around, still entertaining, so a little more than liked it, a little less than loved it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
Published 2009, Roc
Stars: ★★★★★

This book was HELL YES I LOVED IT good.  Interesting premise? Check.  Badass main character? Double check, actually. Twisted plot? Check.  Unique take on vampires? Good enough for me, check.  Really cool superpowers? Check.  Female MC not afraid of sexuality but not obsessed with it either? Check.

Jane is a BAMF.  TOTAL BAMF.  Throw Beast into the mix, and you've got "one" awesome main character.

I can't wait to get my grabby hands on book two!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher

The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher
Published 2014, Quirk Books
Stars: ★★★☆☆

This Star Wars retelling in the form of a classic play was entertaining and highly clever, but much of it felt forced.  I enjoyed it, but I didn't LOVE it.  I'd consider reading more at some point in the future, but it won't be a series that I *have* to read RIGHT NOW.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
Published 2011, Del Ray (US version)
Stars: ★★★★★

"Oh, a shiny new blender!!! Let's throw some stuff in."

*digs around in the shelves*

"Let's start with a British crime procedural type mystery!"

*picks up a Ruth Galloway book by Elly Griffiths and tosses it in, then rummages around for something else*

"OH! An Anne Bishop novel about The Others... in it goes!"


"Needs a little something else... EUREKA!"

*grabs a Harry Dresden by Jim Butcher and throws it in*

"And one last little touch."

*picks up a shaker full of pop culture and other fiction references and shakes in a large portion*

"There... now it's perfect!"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Undying Legion: Crown & Key #2 by Clay and Susan Griffith

The Undying Legion: Crown & Key #2 by Clay and Susan Griffith
Published 2015, Del Ray
Stars: ★★★★☆

In exchange for an unbiased and honest review, Netgalley gave me this ARC.  Thanks, Netgalley!

It took me a while to get into this one.  Not because of the book itself, but because for a week or so I was in a serious reading slump.  I just had no motivation to read (or do much of anything else). 

I picked this one back up yesterday after the off and on, a bit here and a bit there reading for a week or two, and tore into it.

These books are just pure unadulterated fun.  I mean seriously, the Skin of Ra in this one? So creative!

I don't want to give too much away, so I'll stop before I get too wordy, but the magic, the villains, the fun steampunk, even the slightly cliched/trope characters are just loads and loads of entertainment.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cracked by Eliza Crewe

Cracked by Eliza Crewe
Published 2013, Strange Chemistry
Stars: ★★★★★

Guys, Dangerous Deception must have put me in a YA mood, because after reading it, I picked up this little gem.  It was just a rock when I picked it up, but then I Cracked it open (haha, bad pun!) and found it was a friggin' diamond inside!!

Eliza Crewe, though not free from some glaring grammar errors that some editors *should* have caught, rocked my world with this one.  It was JUST PLAIN FUN, but she also avoided SO MANY things I hate about YA -- there was no love triangle, there was no insta-love, the characters weren't all stereotypical, and they all actually followed the motives that their backstories and character types would actually have.  There was very little whining, it actually took ALL the main characters working together to save the day (no "I'm the only special butterfly snowflake, let me handle it all" moments), and the main character HAD A PERSONALITY that wasn't a cardboard cutout.

All in all, a solid first book by Eliza Crewe.  I can't wait to read book two.

...but, be warned... there's one very obviously coming moment that *is* a little predictable and is a twist that can be found in so many books, not just YA ( <spoiler>The death of Uri</spoiler> ) but I feel like that might not be the end of it, thanks to <spoiler>Meda's ability to see ghosts and him reappearing at the end</spoiler>. I was still upset though. LOL

That's enough rambling for now.  On to more books, and Crushed is coming up soon.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dangerous Deception by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Dangerous Deception by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published 2015, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Stars: ★★★★☆ (3.5)

3.5 stars

It's no secret to anyone that I really enjoyed the Beautiful Creatures series.  While it wasn't anything groundbreaking or amazing, it was lots of fun and had a great concept and world.  The Claiming, Light and Dark Casters, etc, all really entertained me.  So you could color me excited when I found out that they were writing a follow-up series with Ridley and Link in the starring roles.

Dangerous Creatures, book one, was fast-paced and highly entertaining, though quite a bit different than the first series.  Unfortunately, Dangerous Deception fell flat for me.  I was really enjoying it until I hit the end, not even realizing it was the end until I turned a few pages and fell straight into samples from each of their solo books.  It just felt unfinished... like a filler story.  It moved the story along, sure, and introduced some radical new elements to the overall arc.  I just wasn't left satisified with the plot -- it definitely couldn't have stood both on its own AND as a part of the series.  It could only work as part of the series.

Because the introduced story elements were pretty awesome, I didn't drop my score completely... and I had lots of fun in the process, so I'm going to stick with my initial feeling of a 3.5 star rating.

I'll definitely finish the series, but I'm hoping book three will seriously up the ante.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Forgotten Room by Lincoln Child

The Forgotten Room by Lincoln Child
Published 2015, Doubleday
Stars: ★★★★☆

I really like Jeremy Logan.  I'm hoping Lincoln Child decides to keep writing this character, and maybe to attempt to put out more books.  He works hard with Douglas Preston to do a Pendergast every year, and they also put out Gideon Crew books, so I know he's busy.  But I just can't help but wish Jeremy Logan would get more appearances.  I love his job, "enigmologist," and I like his personality. 

This book was a lot of fun.  I feel like I learned a little science along the way, but don't feel like it was overdone to the point where it felt like a lecture.  The pacing was great, the action built well, and the denouement, while a little obvious, was still loads of fun to "live out" through the page.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
Published 2015, William Morrow
Stars: ★★★★★

This was it.  This was the end... the end of the apocalyptic trilogy by James Rollins, one of my favorite authors, and his co-author Rebecca Cantrell.  And I must say I'm disappointed... not in the quality of the book, but in the fact that it's OVER.  James Rollins is an expert at adventure/action/techno-thrillers.  I mean it when I say that.  I preorder the hardcover of every new book of his that comes out.  I'm addicted like nobody's business.  This was really his first foray into another of my favorite genres: urban fantasy.  And now it's over...

James, you've made it hard for me to be satisified with just your Sigma Force series when I know you're capable of mixing such great urban fantasy into your work.  I guess I'll have to pick up your fantasy series written under your other pseudonym, James Clemens.

Anywho, enough of that digression.  This story picks up a little while after the second book ended, finding each of our three prophesied-trio-protags working together, well, by working alone.  Of course, their threads end up tying together again, leading them on a world-crossing adventure to stop the very dark angel of history himself, Lucifer, from rising and changing the world as we know it.  They're facing off against Legion, a demon who can possess multiple darkness-tainted creatures at once and control them and see through their eyes. 

Very explosive ending to a really fun trilogy.  The trilogy isn't without it's flaws, and it has some stereotypical issues that the genre typically faces -- like characters being on the brink of death multiple times but it all working out... but there are reasons for it.

Plus, my favorite character, the Countess, gets more development in this one. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Published 2010 and 2014, Tor Books
Stars: ★★★★★

I just can't even.  You have to read these...   Screw the fact that only two in the planned ten of the series are out.  Disregard the length, at over 1000 pages each.  I don't even care if you don't normally go for epic/high fantasy novels -- I didn't either, before Sanderson opened my eyes to the world of the Knights Radiant, the land of the Spren, the universe of shards and magical powers and good versus evil.

I read Way of Kings in April 2015, then Warbreaker in May (see review for that here), then Words of Radiance over the end of May and beginning of June.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Innocent Blood by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Innocent Blood by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
Published 2014, William Morrow
Stars: ★★★★★

This was my second read of this book, having read it new last year when it came out, and again now in preparation for finally reading the final book of the trilogy, which has been out for a few months now.  I've put it off, being too sad that it will be over to pick it up.  But it's time...

Yet again, Rollins and Cantrell do not disappoint.  Ripping some of their major players right out of history and slapping them onto their pages, they bring a life and depth of character to each of the heroes and villains of their story.

This book deals with innocence, sacrifice, and choice.  It's also an amazing testament to the power of two creative minds coming together to share a story with the world... one that demands to be read.

Pick up this series.  It's incredible.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Blood Gospel by James Rollins

The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
Published 2013, William Morrow
Stars: ★★★★★

Doesn't matter how many times I read this book (this reread makes #3), I am consistently impressed with Rollins and Cantrell's ability to tie supernatural elements seamlessly into historical events, blending and merging the two to create a fantastic story of good versus evil, betrayal and redemption, and Rollins' typical "save the world" scenario.  Couple that with some amazingly written and developed characters, and you've got yourself one hell of a fun romp!

Now, on to a reread of book two before I tackle the final installment!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ruins by Joshua Winning

Ruins by Joshua Winning
Published 2015, Peridot Press
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Ruins is the sequel to Sentinel, and is the second book in the Sentinel trilogy.  While it does suffer a little from "second-book-itis," it's a solid addition to the series.  It builds on the mythology set forth in the first one, develops the characters further, and goes on a roller coaster ride of events that lead up to a destructive finale... all to set up book three.  The end left a few things hanging, set up a few threads for the trilogy ender, and had a fun twist or two.

All in all, a solid book.  Good pacing, fun storylines, entertaining characters.  I'll definitely finish the series.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Checking In

Just leaving a little note here to check in!  Things have been crazy busy the past few weeks.  This weekend, we're having a surprise party for a friend, so expect some pictures soon, hopefully :)

I'm hoping to get to a point soon where I have some brain/willpower left each day to get some writing done on here, to get some of the stories out of my soul and out in the world!

I'm also going to try my hardest over the next few weeks to start updating some of my permanent pages, especially the links to other awesome blogs!!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Emergence: Dave vs. the Monsters by John Birmingham (DNF)

Emergence: Dave vs. the Monsters by John Birmingham
Published 2015, Del Rey
Stars: ☆☆☆☆☆ (DNF)

 I'm just not going to be able to finish this book.  I've read around 20%, and I can't find a single thing redeemable or potentially redeemable about the main character, and the gratuitous abuse of crude humor and curse words, which isn't a problem for me in general, is so beyond excessive that it's disgusting... and borderline "trying too hard."

It's a shame really, because the concept is an awesome one -- beefy guy, rough around the edges, rugged, messy life, forced into being a hero when a bunch of monsters spring up from under the sea.  Unfortunately for Dave Hooper, I won't be there for his adventure nor for his path to becoming a real hero.

I think what really turned me off was the comment in the first chapter, about the three things he tasted when he burped up the night before -- liquor, snack food, and lady parts.  But it was much more graphic in description than that.  I gave it a few more chapters, but had to DNF.  Just wasn't for me, with the MC as a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a deadbeat, a potty mouth, a druggie, a tax evader, an adulterer, and all around gross.  This author seems to be seeing how much he can get away with, and it doesn't work with this reader.
Thanks to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this galley.  Wish it had worked more for me.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Moseh's Staff by A.W. Exley

Moseh's Staff by A.W. Exley
Published 2015, Curiosity Quills
Stars: ★★★★★

Many thanks to A.W. Exley and Curiosity Quills for an early edition ARC for review.  My review is unbiased, honest, and unabashedly fan-boyish. :)

Anita has done it again, and sadly, for the last time, at least when it comes to the deliciously sexy and devilishly fun Artifact Hunter series.  This book provided some necessary closure to a few long-standing storylines, in addition to leave a few tidbits and hints for future events... which are great in case she ever decides to pick back up and write more in this awesome steampunk fantasy series.

Cara and Nate are in a pickle... a frozen pickle.  London is in a deep freeze, a cold snap the likes of which no where in the world that usually has changing seasons has ever seen.  Even the Thames is completely iced over.  People are losing their livelihoods, or worse, their lives, as the never-ending winter takes its toll.  Cara and Nate try hard to get at the root of the problem, and along the way, find old issues with their respective nemeses, the Curator and Inspector Hamish Fraser, coming to a head.  Can the two use their mystical, physical, spiritual, and loving bond, along with their family of blood relatives, more-friends-than-employees, and even a dragon to get to the bottom of their woes and save London from reaching the frozen point of no return?

Anita has set up some awesome storylines that lead to this book... Fraser's loss of his love and desire for vengeance, the Curator's obsession with Cara, Cara's family history... and she ties everything together masterfully.

This series was my first ever steampunk series, and I've come to love it.  I'm sad it's over (maybe just for now???), but look forward to reading anything else that pours out of Anita's fantastical and deliciously dirty mind.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sentinel by Joshua Winning

Sentinel by Joshua Winning
Published 2013, Peridot Press
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Thanks to the author Joshua Winning for providing a review copy of this book one after I was approved on Netgalley for book two, without realizing it was a book two!

So, we all know that YA is chock full of "something happens, teenager learns they don't know their world, find out they're special, etc" type books.  And yes, this is one of them.  It's a trope that will be hard for the book universe to ever shake, because young adults love that potential destiny feeling, that maybe one day it could happen to them.  It's a fun and easy way to tempt them to read, and as an adult reader, you can either accept it, or you can whine about it.  Me? I'll accept it.  I'm a grown man with boring job, and a relatively unexciting life, so I'm all for getting my fun and adventure where I can find it.

That being said, this book has a pretty interesting new idea.  It's no JK Rowling, but honestly, who's going to be able to reproduce that?  It is, however, a really fun concept.  There's a secret world, hidden under the thin surface of reality, in which Sentinels guard the world from dark forces... but the dark forces have been quiet for so long that the Sentinels got a little complacent, and while the darkness was quiet, it wasn't gone -- it was slowly seeping its way through the barriers between worlds, scheming, and plotting.  And now it's time for those plots to come to fruition...

I think my biggest problem with this book was the insanely slow pace.  Don't get me wrong, there's action -- and it's often -- but the plot itself doesn't move forward all that much in this book.  It suffers from "Setup Syndrome," in which the author has such a big concept to push that the framework takes a while to assemble.  But, the world-building was done well, so it wasn't a huge problem or anything that made me enjoy the story any less.  I can appreciate a slow burn as long as it's headed somewhere.  And if the end of this book says anything, it's definitely headed somewhere.  I'll definitely read book two, and if that one picks up the pace, I'll finish the trilogy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art by Gwenda Bond

Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art by Gwenda Bond
Published 2015, Capstone
Stars: ★★★★★
(Prequel short story for Lois Lane: Fallout, just released)

Just like with Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction, I just loved the author's take on Lois Lane. If these snippets are foreshadowing of the quality of her Lois Lane, then I can't wait to get my grabby hands on a copy of Lois Lane: Fallout!!!

"I might not be an art prodigy, but like I said, I do have other talents. There is no one better than me at running into trouble."

The blurbs are right -- if you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer's snark or Veronica Mars' fierce determination and wit, you'll probably love this Lois Lane.

Lois Lane: Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction by Gwenda Bond

Lois Lane: Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction by Gwenda Bond
Published 2015, Capstone
Stars: ★★★★★
 (Prequel short story for Lois Lane: Fallout, just released)

Thanks for Netgalley for providing a review copy of this exclusive short story prequel in exchange for an honest review.

This mini-novella gives a little background information and sets up the storyline for Lois Lane: Fallout by giving us a sneak peak at Gwenda Bond's take on the famous female love interest for Clark Kent/Superman, this time imagining her as a teenage Army brat with a penchant for Nancy Drewing, snark, and putting her foot in her mouth.

"Who even asked you?"
"No one... Unfortunately for you, I've always been on the nosy side."

Essentially, she's the perfect YA version of the young woman who's going to end up at the Daily Planet as a tour de force of reporting glory, and I can't wait to see how her move to Metropolis and getting a full length book will work out.  Guess I'll have to pick up a copy of Fallout and find out, eh?

(I also loved the hints at other DC characters, like Lois' General father, her sister Lucy, and a certain bumbling geek with secrets.)

The Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan

The Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan
Published 2015, Disney Hyperion
Stars: ★★★★☆

I may have an unhealthy obsession with Rick Riordan. Seriously, I love Percy Jackson, I love Heroes of Olympus, I love the Kane Chronicles, and I'm waited with bated breath for Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard to start this fall with Swords of Summer... so of course, I'm insta-buying anything with his name on it.  This is the third in a series of crossovers between the characters from the two Greek/Roman series and the Kane siblings from the Kane Chronicles. 

The first starred Percy Jackson and Carter Kane, who had to fight a giant crocodile. 

The second featured Annabeth Chase and Sadie Kane squaring off against a multi-headed monster.

The Crown of Ptolemy features all four of them coming together to fight against the magician responsible for the, err, "issues" they faced in the first two.  It includes lots of hijinks and of course, silly but hilarious dialogue.

Join the fun, if you've read up to this point.  Otherwise, jump back to the beginning and start with Percy Jackson and the Kane Chronicles. You won't regret it.  They're loads of fun. :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Published 2009, Tor Books
Stars: ★★★★☆

"Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them."
~William Shakespeare

While reading this book, this quote from Shakespeare echoed through my mind.  Some of the characters are born with greatness (like the God King, Susebron), others achieve it (like the Returned god, Lightsong or the dynamic Vivenna), and, to tie it all together with my favorite one, some have it thrust upon them.  Specifically, when talking of those who have it thrust upon them, I think of Siri.  Her wild, uninhibited unwillingness to be tamed made her the perfect person to send in place of Vivenna.  Though Vivenna didn't understand this at the time, she wasn't prepared, even with years of training, to be the person needed to change the world.  This would fall to other people -- Lightsong, who grew from lazy god to the very definition of hero; Siri, who in learning to love a God King found herself and helped makeover her world; Susebron, growing from "kept man" to a true leader...  But don't let this simple fact that Vivenna wasn't prepared to change the world lessen her impact on it.  She makes a choice that eventually leads her to dramatically update her perspective on how the world around her works, and in doing so, becomes a heroine in her own right.

Just like with Way of Kings, I feel like Brandon Sanderson is decent at plots (though maybe not at pacing, because much of the first half of this book bored me to tears) but really shines when it comes to CHARACTERS.  He makes them come alive on the page, like he as the author Breathed life into them, makes some easy to love, others easy to hate; forces us, as readers, to alter our own perspectives and maybe see our own world in a new light through the lives of these other "people" in other worlds.  He demands us to see the Colors around us through these heroes and heroines and villains and anti-heroes and morally ambiguous and everything-in-between characters.

He's restoring my appreciation for the high/epic fantasy genre, that's for sure.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key #1 by Clay and Susan Griffith

The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key #1 by Clay and Susan Griffith
Published 2015,Del Ray
Stars: ★★★★☆

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Seriously, thanks.

Like my first status update on Goodreads for this book said, I have two words to describe this book: "hell" and "yes."  This book was a complete and utter fun-tastic bookgasm of action, adventure, and magic.  Like steampunk? It's got a bit of that.  How's about urban fantasy? That's in the mix.  Love a little magic?  Prepare for lots.  Enjoy supernatural creatures, insane asylums, creepy ass experiments, alchemy, explosives and firearms, betrayals, redemptions, twists, turns, revelations, snarky male leads and kickass female ones, or a great supporting cast?  Well, welcome to the world of Crown & Key, where the pace is fast, the women are fiesty, and witty repartee abounds. It's kind of like an HP Lovecraft or a Maplecroft (by Cherie Priest) had an illicit affair with a Dresden Files or a Hollows and birthed this love child.

Not to say the book is perfect.  The characters are developed enough to carry the story, but not as much as I wanted -- they intrigued me and I wanted more.  Thankfully there are more books forthcoming.  Also, the villains certainly could have used some extra fleshing out.  Overall, a solid romp that falls firmly in the FUN column.  If you want a fast, fun, quick read that's chock full of urban fantasy and gaslight steampunk, this is your book.  Do yourself a favor and get this one, going in ready to have a little fun. :)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
Published 2015, Ace Books
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Thanks to my good friend Jessica from Rabid Reads who let me read her book swag ARC.  This review is honest and unbiased.

Charlaine, you naughty minx, you've done it again.  You've made me wish I lived in Midnight, Texas.  Regardless of the weird stuff that goes down in Midnight, I want to live there.  The people seem so nice and everyone is tightknit.  Just think it would be a fun place to live!

Unfortunately for Harris, she didn't nail it this time around.  Perhaps some of the myriad loose ends she left hanging were for book three.  If so, that's fine, but some of them felt completely ignored at the end of the book.  Left there dangling, really.  And that "dramatic" but not so dramatic scene at the end to connect with the hold-ups she'd been dropping hints about through the book didn't work for me.  Felt rushed, forced, and sloppy.

Overall, I loved the addition of some more characters from Sookie's series.  I wish that the two characters had bigger roles, especially the one who had the teeny tiny role.  You'll know which one that is when you read it.  I don't want to spoil any of it.

I really liked getting a little more background on Olivia, the Rev, Chuy, and Joe... but I wanted more growth in Lemuel, Fiji, and Bobo, and even Manfred as well.  And we got absolutely NO character development or background for Madonna and Teacher, which is disappointing too.  Harris can't keep leaving little hints that Midnight is special and everyone is there for a reason and then give us NO tidbits or teasers or information on these characters.

As a whole, I was very entertained by this book.  I pretty much always am when Charlaine is writing it.  But it wasn't her best work, considering the relatively obvious mystery solution and the sloppy addition of more storyline threads and very little character development in general.  I'll definitely still read the third one, as I like this multi-verse that she has created but it definitely won't be one of those "GOTTA HAVE IT NOW" books.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Quick Update

I've gotten some things read over the past week, but mostly rereads of stuff I love or books I haven't read yet in series that are all already out and I'm just catching up.

I don't plan on reviewing EVERYTHING I read, as there will be quite a few rereads and repetition.  I mean, honestly, who wants to read back to back reviews of a 13 book series?  All the reviews would start to sound the same!

But in other news, I had a blast in Vegas.  I've got pictures to post when I get some time, but overall: food, awesome; sights, awesome; company, awesome; travel, exhausting!

Also, the month of May will include quite a few ARCs I need to get through and reviews for those, so keep your eyes peeled for a large number of ARC reviews in May!!!  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry

The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry
Published 2015, Minotaur Books
Stars: ★★★★★

Yup, Steve Berry has done it again.  He's taken some tidbit of history or politics or religion or economics, and turned it into a full-blown adventure action thriller!

Here's the scoop:  What would happen to the US of A if it turns out the 16th Amendment, the one that allows for income tax, wasn't ratified properly and was therefore illegal?  It's this premise that throws Harold Earl "Cotton" Malone into danger yet again.  Retired Magellan Billet agent Cotton Malone can't stay out of the action, it seems, as his old boss Stephanie Nelle asks him to do some simple surveillance, as he's already close by to where the watchees need to be watched.  But of course, it doesn't stay simple.  Turns out, there's EVIDENCE that the 16th Amendment wasn't ratified correctly, stolen from the Treasury department's vaults, and it's out there in the world, ripe for the taking.  And an estranged North Korean disowned heir to the "throne" wants that evidence.  It will give him everything he needs to take down the US and China, restore his name to glory, and take the role of supreme leader of North Korea from his younger half-brother who got it after their father stripped the main antagonist of his dignity and reputation.  He wants it back, and he'll do whatever it takes.

Luckily for the world, Cotton Malone is on the job.

I love the way that Berry has of taking something that could be really uninteresting (honestly, income taxes are awful boring, and I'm an accountant!!!) and finds a way to make it into a spy action adventure thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat AND makes you want to travel the world to see all the places the characters get to go.  But mostly, I love the way he posits scenarios that are based in reality and could very well happen.  And honestly, there *are* conspiracy theorists out there who claim the 16th Amendment wasn't ever ratified correctly, and that our nation's income tax could be one of the greatest scams perpetrated in the history of the modern world.

Note: This is book TEN in a series.  I'd recommend reading these in order if you plan on reading them.  They *can* work on their own, but later books mention/spoil things from earlier ones in the series.

Friday, April 17, 2015


So, I'm planning to get a lot of reading done this weekend... probably because I'll be spending a LOT of time in airports and on planes!

My brother invited me to tag along for the weekend part of a work trip he's taking to LAS VEGAS!  I've never been, so it should be a blast!!!

Prepare yourself for pictures! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My puppers!! And kitteh!!!

Daphne Pond on the left in the brown. She's a basenji-corgi mix, 5 years old.

Albus Noble on the right in the black. He's a hound and dachshund mix, around 2 years old, and "special."

Below is my beautiful child, Kalli. I've raised her since she was two days old. She was born on Mother's Day weekend in 2003! So she is 12, and looking fantastic for her age. Her five brothers and sisters didn't make it... Powder Puff "Puffy" survived to adulthood but had to be put down a few years ago... Cancer from bad rabies shots :(. But this sweet girl is deaf, thanks to double ear infections at two weeks old, but she has been healthy as a horse ever since.

Undertow by Michael Buckley

Undertow by Michael Buckley
Published 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Stars: ★★★★☆

Kind thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this for review purposes.  It was much appreciated!

I sink down farther, completely submerging myself. It's down here where I feel the most safe, where the headaches retreat, where the roar of the water drowns out the thrum.

Lyric Walker is different.  She hasn't always known, but she knows now.  Her family lives in the Coney Island "Zone"... a place cut off from the rest of the country because of a big event... yeah, not a war... not a bomb... not a chemical spill... but an INVASION.

I open the first book in the stack on my lap.  It's called Caps for Sale. This was one of my favorites when I was small.  (me too!!!)

You see, there are other races on our planet.  And they came from the sea, covered in scales, in slime, in ooze, in shells, in claws.  Now the ones that are here are sharing the Zone with the humans who lived there already.

Suddenly, I am unleashed. I am energy...  I let loose everything I've been holding back for three long years.  

 But not all of the humans are willing to share.  Lyric, her family, and her friends are caught in the middle.  And a tidal wave of crazy is about to hit the shores and change Lyric's life, and the lives of everyone she cares about, forever.

No more hiding. No more keeping my head down. I am Lyric Walker... I am a wild thing.

YA books are usually hit or miss for me, but this one hit the mark... dead center!  It's got a really cool concept -- merpeople of all shapes and sizes, rising out of the sea and having to deal with the humans.  It's got a potty-mouthed, flawed, strong yet vulnerable main character, a great bestie, a fun "guy friend" trope, and a lot of action.  Seriously, it's a fast read - a speed boat read in a genre full of paddle boats and canoes.

My favorite part: The Snark.  I love when authors and their characters have a bad case of The Snark.  I am just a fan in general of snarkiness.  Sure, it can be annoying at times -- when it's directed at you -- but I love it anyways!

Some examples of the snarky writing style:

He's also got on running shorts that have never been used for their intended purpose. If anything, they should be called "sitting around leering at teenage girl" shorts, or "practicing being a sociopath" shorts.

The old woman's face puckers, and she sticks out her tongue to lick her lips. I swear it was green. I bet it's forked. I bet she can smell with it.

It's called a selfie. It's what people who are in love with themselves do to keep themselves busy. You can't really be an American teenager if you aren't willing to take one of these a couple dozen times a day.

I can't help it. A stream of curse words sprays all over him. I unload every frustration and bad thought I have ever had about him, multiply them by a thousand, and top them with colorful metaphors and emasculating insults. To put a period on it, I pull back and smack him right in the face.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book.  My only gripe is the stereotypical teenage love story, which is done better than many -- I mean, there are obstacles that actually make sense in this one.  It just felt a little bit too much like almost-insta-love, and the character of Fathom just isn't fleshed out enough to make him as lovable as Lyric, Bex, or Shadow. Four out of five stars.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Welcome to the New Age

Today is the dawn of a NEW AGE for me.

I'm reinventing my book blog, revamping it, and reinvigorating it.  My goal is to turn this blog into more of a place for the anythings and the everythings or, as my friend RivkaBelle likes to call them... ALL THE THINGS.

I'll write here.  I'll review books and shows and movies here.  I'll ramble about nothing here.  I'll tell you about my trips, my pets, my Lobster, etc.

To start it off, I've imported all my old blog posts off my writing blog Writer's Block (very sparse with two whole parts of a planned story written) and off my book review blog Your Rainy Day Reading List (inconsistent reviewing, lame analysis, terribly executed reviews).  These will be a springboard for the new blog, this mix of seemingly random things that make up my life and my energy and my willpower, and the chance to grow as a writer, as a reviewer, and hopefully as a person as I chronicle all sorts of things that make me run the gamut of emotions.

Bear with me as I slowly fill this blog with life.  The links at the top aren't all done yet... but they will be.  And new reviews and posts will come soon. 

So here's to the New Age.  Cheers!  Welcome aboard my train of thought as it goes barreling down the tracks to god knows where!!!

The Generous, Kind Stranger (Part I)

(Originally published on my blog Writer's Block on 5/21/2011) 

While my wife Tammy counted change from her purse for the tip, I grabbed the small meal ticket. It was torn off of one of those stereotypical little, mass-produced check pads that every waitress in every small town diner uses to take down orders and leave as the bill. I mentally double-checked the amount, wary of the big-haired country waitress' math skills. Finding everything satisfactory, I looked up just in time to stop from running into said big-haired country waitress, appropriately named Betty. She skillfully dodged, lifting her heavy tray of fried food and iced teas out of my way.

"Sugah, you better watch your step... you're liable to get grease all down that fancy coat you got on if you knock this outta my hands!"

"My apologies... guess I'd better start looking where I'm going, eh?" I replied casually. Holding up the check, I asked, "Do I pay you for this?"

"Yep... Lemme pass this food out, so them hungry kids can get eatin', and I'll be right there."

I stood at the counter, watching Betty set plates of food at a table of hungry kids. Four boys, none older than 14, and a girl that looked about 9, all too skinny for their own good, sat at a booth. A skeleton looking couple, their parents, sat at the table behind them. Their clothes were all worn, and their meals were all meager.

Betty skimmed back to the counter, dropped her tray on the kitchen window, and stepped up to the register.

"Your ticket was $14.76," Betty read off the little paper I handed her along with a twenty.

I glanced over my shoulder at the raggedy family, and then turned to find Betty looking me right in the eye.

"There a problem, mistah? Not everyone is made of money," she snipped, assuming I was judging the family, the town, her with my "hoity-toity city" attitude.

"No, ma'am, thanks for the food," I said with an apologetic tone, turning around to meet my wife at the door. Halfway, I stopped. An idea struck. I walked quickly back to Betty's counter and dropped a $100 bill down beside the register. I glanced back to the family over my shoulder, then turned and made sure to meet Betty's eyes. She nodded slightly, recognizing my gesture, and started to say something. I cut her off by raising my hand, turned, and walked to my wife.

We stepped out onto the sidewalk, the twilight and brisk evening air making for a peaceful and enjoyable time to walk back to our car. We weren't quite ready for the long drive back to the city, to our uptown condo, to home, so our pace was slow. Near the diner entrance, a man sat, obviously homeless, with a mangy, scraggly mutt curled up in a wool overcoat on the ground next to him and a cheap, torn hat sitting in front of him. Coins peppered the inside of the hat -- coins I had seen the littlest boy and the little girl drop into the hat... coins that they plainly needed themselves. Tammy smiled at the man and dropped a $5 bill into the hat. I'd have left more, but my wallet was empty, the contents now feeding the large, tired family inside.

As we walked past the diner windows, I noticed the little girl, face against the glass, watching us leave. My wife smiled and waved, which the little girl returned. The rest of the family was facing Betty, who had walked over to them, holding out the $100 bill with tears in her eyes.

We crossed the street and were halfway down the block when we heard the little bells on the diner door jingle. As the little girl ran out into the street towards us, a car shot around the corner a few blocks down, keeping full speed and not slowing as it raced in our direction.

It took my brain a moment to process what was happening in front of me... the car, the girl, the speed, the distance... If I hadn't hesitated, I probably would have had the time to get her and get out of the way. It was too late for that, but that didn't stop me. I knew I had to get that girl out of the path of that car, so I tore into the street. I made it to the girl in time to grab her and set her onto the sidewalk, out of harms way... unfortunately, I wasn't on the sidewalk. I was still in the street.

The impact of the car shattered my body, throwing me over the car, and thrusting my world into black.

The Man in the Nice Coat (Part II)

(Originally published on my blog Writer's Block on 5/30/2011)  

The man wore a nice coat. That's what I remember most. Other than what he did for me, but mostly I remember his coat.

We'd fought all day, Timothy and I. He took my doll and dug a hole in the backyard and put her right down into it and covered her right back up with all that dirt. Momma made him dig it up and give it back, but she was all dirty, and I didn't like that. So I knocked him down and tried to punch and kick and bite him, but dad jumped in and stopped it. We both got sent to our rooms.

I got us out of trouble though. I might not talk much, but I am cleverer than people think. I climbed out my window and picked some wildflowers, then snuck into the kitchen and shoved them in a vase. Then I ran back around the house and climbed back into my room just in time for momma to come in and let us off the hook. She said daddy had picked her some flowers (which he kept saying wasn't him) and that they were taking us into town for dinner to celebrate that daddy had just gotten some pay for working for the Johnsons next door months ago.

Anyways, we don't have much... never have, really, especially not since Jimmy died. He was my oldest brother. Our farm did much better when he was around. Daddy can't do quite as much as Jimmy always could.

We all climbed into the back of daddy's truck and drove into town. He pulled into the little parking lot, a few blocks down from the restaurant, and parked next to a fancier lookin' car than ours. As the rest of my family walked in, I hesitated a minute with my little brother as he reached into his pocket and dropped a penny or two into the homeless man with the scruffy dog's hat. Made me feel bad, me saving up my pennies for some small candy pieces, and him making me look all greedy. So I dropped mine in and dragged him inside.

Ms. Betty, twin sister to Ms. Bonnie, my teacher at school, sat us down at our usual two tables and asked us what we wanted. Daddy ordered all our food, while us kids sat at the table next to them. I tried to listen to what momma and daddy were talking about, but I couldn't hear because my loud brothers all started talking about silly things like bugs and snakes and about how when summer came back around they were gonna put in a rope swing over at the pond. They talk big.

That's when I saw him - the man in the nice coat. The lady with him was pretty, but he had this glow about him, kinda made him hard not to look at, and I just had to watch him walk up to the counter and pay. He said somethin' that seemed to upset Ms. Betty, but then he did something that made her eyes start to water. Takes a lot to make Ms. Betty or Ms. Bonnie upset, hard lives and all that, so I knew it must be somethin'.

I stared him down as he turned and left. I had seen a flash of green as his hand moved past his wallet, and figured that he had given Ms. Betty a big tip. But that wouldn't tell me why Ms. Betty was walking to us with teary eyes and the valuable green bill in her hands. I had to see him, one more time, so I climbed over my brothers and pushed my face against the glass. The pretty lady caught me staring, smiled at me, and waved. I sheepishly did the same, and watched them wander off down the street.

I turned and listened to Ms. Betty. Momma taught us to be thankful, and to always remember to show it. Before they could stop me, I jumped from my chair. I had to tell this man in the nice coat thanks. I didn't even hesitate, which is weird, because I don't talk much, but this was important!

I pushed through the diner door, making those little bells jingle, and tore down the street. I didn't look both ways like I had been told to always do. We lived out of town, where our street barely ever had cars and usually only had tractors. Out of nowhere, I heard the screech of tires and saw a car, zooming straight at me, too fast... I just froze right up, couldn't even move. The man in the nice coat saw what was about to happen, leaped into the road. He grabbed me and pretty much threw me into the sidewalk. I didn't see it happen, but I heard the car slam into the man. As I heard it, I remembered his nice coat, and had this overwhelming feeling of guilt for messing up his coat, like Timothy had messed up my doll's yellow sun dress.