Attention Authors or anyone wanting a review: I am currently NOT taking on any more reviews at this time. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I'm overwhelmed at the moment.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

{Book Review} Zomburbia by Adam J. Gallardo

by Adam J. Gallardo
Publisher: K-Teen
Released: August 26th 2014
Genre: Fiction- YA: Horror, Zombies, Post-Apocolyptic
How I got it: Netgalley

My name is Courtney Hart, and I'm here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I'd actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains.

I've noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that's even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing. .

Review: Courtney is semi-normal for a teenage anyway. She goes to school, works at a local burger joint, has a very weird relationship with her friends. Yet she also sells Vitamin Z, a drug made from zombie brains and lives in a world where zombies are the norm. I thought this book had a lot of layers, for a zombie novel. It's post zombie apocalypse, cities are off limits due to high numbers of zombies and people have moved out to the suburbs. For the most part things are fairly normal, kids go to school (although the school looks more like a prison), people hold down jobs (fenced in and with security guard to keep the zombies at bay), kids still get into trouble and do things they shouldn't.
Courtney is not a good role-model in any sense of the word. For one she sells drugs, granted she does this for college money but still it's drugs made from zombie brains. She does a lot of stupid things and just continues to dig herself into a deeper and deeper hole. As a character she likeable enough, but I couldn't feel sympathy for her on somethings. Her poor me act got under my skin, especially when she got herself into the situations in the first place. Under all the outward angst and general teen crap, there was a strong young woman and as the plot progressed we did get to see more and more of her.
I felt that the author was trying to deliver a message with this book, and whether or not he was I don't know but what I took away is no matter how far down you fall you can always get back up. Courtney lost a lot in this book and sadly that's what it took for her to get her life together. It also showed that her poor decisions effected not only her but everyone around her.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

{Book Review} MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1) by Hillary Monahan

MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1)
by Hillary Monahan
Release:September 2nd 2014
Genre:Fiction- YA: Horror
How I got it: Netgalley

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?

Review: First off, don't read this book alone, in the dark or before bed. It will scare the be-jeebies out of you. Being in a room with mirrors might also be a bad idea.
I'm pretty sure everyone has heard of Bloody Mary, even if you don't know the origins you've heard of the game. When stick your friend in that bathroom with a candle and say Bloody Mary three times, then scare the crap out of them. At least that was the version I heard. When I was like seven I had a friend who swore up hill and down he did it and saw her in the mirror. Being extremely gullible I avoided mirrors for a awhile after that and just for the record I have never actually tried playing Bloody Mary. After reading this I never want to, and yes I know it's fiction.
Four average teenage girls decide to summon Mary the right way, yes apparently we've all been doing it wrong. I actually liked how Ms Monahan added elements that are pretty common in dealing with ghosts to the process. Her descriptions of Mary were disturbingly well done and I was able to picture Mary easily. I actually listened to this via my Kindle at work and (if this makes any sense) saw it in my head. I guess what I mean is it was so well done I was able to picture what was happening in my head, like a movie, I was so into the book.
Shauna and her friends were well fleshed out as characters. I liked them and was able to feel for them as the book progressed, I found myself invested in what happened and even felt a little betrayed at one point.
There's a bit of a mystery to the book as well, as the girls try to figure out who Mary really was and why she's so evil. Now because I am a very curious person I decided to do my own research and see how much of the book was actual urban myth and Ms Monahan's own imagination. It's about 50/50, due to the overwhelming amount of info on the internet and the long history of the Bloody Mary myth I have to say that Ms Monahan did her homework on this. From what I found it looks like she pulled the most popular and horrifying aspect of the legend and put them in the story. Mixing those facts with a hefty dose of her own spin and this was an excellent book.
I'm really interested in seeing how the series progresses and will be keeping an eye out for book 2.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Survivalistas: Book 2- Lyric is out now!

For those who don't know or are new The Survivalistas is my zombie apocalyptic YA series. The Survivalistas: Book 2- Lyric has been out for about a week now available on Smashwords. I had some free time last weekend so I uploaded it. I waited to post about it because I wanted to share a teaser with you. The Survivalistas: Book 2.5- Mica is a short introducing Mica who is Piper's little sister. Piper is of course the main character of Book 3. I thought this would be a fun quick read to get you ready for Book 3, which I'm hoping to start posting as a serial over on Surviving Being Me soon. For now click on the covers below to get your copies of 2 and 2.5.

Don't forget to share the love and let your zombie loving friends know. If you are new to the series a link to Book 1 can be found in my sidebar. Books 1 and 2 in the series can be found on GoodReads, if you are so inclined leave me a review. I love hearing from other readers.

Monday, August 11, 2014

{Book Review} Remains of Innocence (Joanna Brady #16) by J.A. Jance

Remains of Innocence (Joanna Brady #16)
by J.A. Jance
Publisher: William Morrow
Released: July 22nd 2014
Genre: Fiction- Adult: Mystery, Suspense
How I got it: Received an ARC from the author via Partners in Crime book tours.

Sheriff Joanna Brady must solve two perplexing cases that may be tied together in New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance’s thrilling tale of suspense that brings to life Arizona’s Cochise County and the desert Southwest in all its beauty and mystery.

An old woman, a hoarder, is dying of emphysema in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In cleaning out her house, her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines that crowd every corner.

Tracing the money’s origins will take Liza on a journey that will end in Cochise County, where Sheriff Joanna Brady is embroiled in a personal mystery of her own. A man she considers a family friend is found dead at the bottom of a hole in a limestone cavern near Bisbee. And now there is the mystery of Liza and the money. Are the two disparate cases connected? It’s up to Joanna to find out.

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It's number 16 in the series, but the first I have read so it can be read as a stand alone.
The book starts out with Liza who is a victim multiple times over. From an abusive mother, to murder she is innocence yet forced to run. I really felt bad for this poor women, she frees herself from her mother, builds a life then her mother dies tossing poor Liza into a whirl wind and cross country trek to find her estranged brother, who is already dead.
On the other side of the US Sheriff Joanna Brady has her hands full, with two homicides. One an elderly mentally changed man, named Junior, is found with a bunch of tortured animals at the bottom of a glory hole. This is a man Joanna considered a family friend and sweet person. The other murder is Guy, Liza's brother and the towns ME. I was impressed with how Joanna used her limited resourced and man power to solve both murders not just focusing on the media grabbing one, Guy's. I did manage to figure out Junior's killers fairly quickly, but I'm just good like that. <grin> While Guy's murder was pretty straight forward his case did have some interesting twists that surprised the heck out of me.
The plot moved along at a good pace, making this a fast read for me and keeping me entertained. The characters were engaging and likable, if a little heart wrenching at times. Over all a good read.


Friday, August 8, 2014

{Book Review} The Sleeping Dead by Richard Farren Barber

The Sleeping Dead
by Richard Farren Barber
Publisher: DarkFuse
Released: August 12th 2014
Genre: Fiction- Adult: Horror
How I got it: NetGalley

Don't listen...

When Jackson Smith attends an interview to escape his dead-end job, he witnesses a man jumping to his death through an office window. But this suicide is only the first of many he encounters. All around him, men and women begin taking their own lives. These seemingly random events make little sense to Jackson until he hears voices urging him to join the others.

Don't look...

As Jackson fights the desire to self-destruct, he flees through a mad city where the river and streets pile high with bodies of the sleeping dead, those who have simply surrendered to the strange voices.

Don't hope...

Jackson's only chance is to find an escape to this madness before giving in to the strange voices in his head.

Review: Jackson heads out for a job interview and runs into a bit of trouble. After seeing jumpers and all sorts of other suicides, he realizes something isn't right.
While intense, I wasn't all that impressed with this book. The plot kind of limped along, rather disjointed and I felt lost. There is no cause for the sleeping dead, or why people are committing suicide.  I wasn't that interested in Jackson, and I didn't know how to feel about him.
The writing was well done, and I think it had a good idea but the follow through was lacking.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

{Book Review} Murder Strikes a Pose (A Downward Dog Mystery #1) by Tracy Weber

Murder Strikes a Pose (A Downward Dog Mystery #1)
by Tracy Weber
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Released: January 8th 2014
Genre: Fiction- Adult: Amateur sleuth, mystery
How I got it: Received a copy from the author via Partners in Crime Tours

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson tries to live up to yoga's Zen-like expectations, but it's not easy while struggling to keep her small business afloat or dodging her best friend's matchmaking efforts.

When George, a homeless alcoholic, and his loud, horse-sized German shepherd, Bella, start hawking newspapers outside her studio, Kate attempts to convince them to leave. Instead, the three strike up an unlikely friendship.

Then Kate finds George's dead body. The police dismiss it as a drug-related street crime, but Kate knows he was no drug dealer. Now she must solve George's murder and find someone willing to adopt his intimidating companion before Bella is sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer on her trail, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

Review: The first thing that caught my attention was the cover, it's actually cute unlike many mystery novels. This really works for the book, as it's a fun read. I'm not usually one for amateur sleuth books, but I just couldn't help myself with this one.
Kate makes friends with a homeless man named George who sells papers outside her yoga studio and his intimidating yet sweet German shepherd Bella. When Kate finds George dead behind her studio, she feels guilty and wants to find whoever did this to the down on his luck guy. Kate takes in Bella, vowing to find her a good home.
I really liked Kate, she was spunky and witty, even though she tried really hard to act tough she was a real softy. While I've never actually met a yogi, even though I love yoga, I wouldn't think Kate has the whole zen thing down yet. The plot balances Kate' s life, her search to find Bella a good home and figuring out who killed George. I felt the murder mystery kind of took a backseat, to Kate's life and her search, but little clues kept being dropped the more she tried to help Bella. I had an inkling of who the murderer was, early in the book but figured it out for sure just a few chapters before Kate. I enjoyed reading Kate's exploits and her interactions with other characters. I found how her relationship with Bella grew to be heartwarming and fun.
Granted I did find myself fustrated with her investigation skills, but I also found myself smiling and cheering her on.
If you're looking for something a bit out of the ordinary with a little romance, lots of mystery and a sweet if ornery German shepherd then definitely check this one out. I know I'll be watching for book 2 in this series.

{Giveaway} Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber

Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: January 8, 2014

Number of Pages: 288

ISBN: 978-0738739687

Purchase Links:

When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.

One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

Read an excerpt:
I laid my body on the cool wood floor, covered up with a blanket, and prepared to die.

Metaphorically, that is.

Corpse Pose’s ten-minute rest always soothed my stressed-out nerves, and for once I didn’t feel guilty about the indulgence. My to-do list was blank, Serenity Yoga’s phone was silent, and I had a whole blissful hour between clients to do my favorite activity: practice yoga.

Even my eclectic Greenwood neighborhood seemed uncharacteristically quiet, lulled by Seattle’s rare afternoon sun. The residents of the apartments above the yoga studio were off at their day jobs; the alcohol-addicted patrons of the block’s two dive bars slept off their Jim Beam breakfasts; the soccer moms shopping at next door’s upscale PhinneyWood Market purchased the day’s supplies in unusual silence.

I wiggled my toes under a Mexican blanket, covered my eyes with a blue satin eye pillow, and inhaled deeply. The ooey-gooey smell of Mocha Mia’s chocolate caramel cake wafted from across the street and filled my nostrils with sweet toffee-scented bliss—my all-time favorite aromatherapy.

Paradise. Simply paradise.

I released my weight into the earth and silently coached myself, exactly as I would one of my students. OK, Kate. Feel your body relax. Notice the random fluctuations of your mind and—

A vicious snarl ripped through the silence, startling me out of my catnap. I sat straight up, eye pillow falling to the floor with an undignified thump.

What the heck?

When had a dog fighting ring moved into the neighborhood?

A dog fight was the only plausible explanation for the commotion outside. Bursts of deep, frantic barking were followed by high-pitched yelping, all punctuated by the peace-shattering sounds of angry yelling. The phrases I could make out confirmed my suspicions. This had to be a dog fight, albeit one-sided.

“Control your dog!”

“Get that vicious beast out of here!”

And even a simple, “What the hell?”

I closed the door between the yoga room and the studio’s lobby, hoping to block out the intrusive sounds. Snarls, shouts, and an occasional ear-piercing shriek continued to reverberate right through the wall.

Undaunted, I imagined that the sounds were merely clouds floating across my mental horizon. Most of those clouds were dark and ominous, like the deep thunderclouds preceding a hailstorm. But every so often I heard a soft voice, more like the fluffy clouds of childhood summers. I couldn’t quite make out his words, but I could tell that the speaker was a man. From his tone, I assumed he was trying to calm beasts both human and animal.

It wasn’t working.

Neither, for that matter, was my attempted meditation.

I’d obviously have to shift tactics.

I tried drowning out the clamor with low, soft chanting. Then I increased the volume. But even as I belted out Om Santi, my favorite mantra for peace, I felt my jaw start to tighten. My fingernails bit deeply into my palms. My shoulders crept up to my ears.

An entirely different mantra began pounding through my head: Don’t get me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

A series of yelps and the words “I’m calling the cops!” zapped me like a cattle prod. I leapt from my mat and stormed across the floor, determined to put a stop to that infernal racket. I hurled open the door and came face-to-face, or rather face-to-snout, with the source of the commotion. Not more than five feet away from the studio’s entrance stood a paunchy, dark-haired man and the biggest, skinniest, meanest-looking German shepherd I had ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. I like dogs. I love them, in fact. It’s their human counterparts I could sometimes do without. But this frothing breast was no Rin Tin Tin. A long line of drool oozed from its mouth. Its sharp white teeth glinted in the sunlight, and its black wiry topcoat still stood on end from the prior scuffle. The dog was obviously rabid.
I didn’t recognize the man standing next to the frightening creature, but I did recognize his activity. He worked as a vendor for Dollars for Change, a well-regarded local newspaper that published articles about homelessness and poverty while employing those same homeless individuals as salespeople. Ordinarily I would have welcomed one of their vendors outside my business. If nothing else, supporting the paper demonstrated yoga’s principles of kindness and compassion.
But this was not an ordinary circumstance. I absolutely could not allow that disgusting dog to raise a ruckus outside my studio. The prenatal class would have a fit. Suffice it to say that pregnancy hormones didn’t always leave expecting moms in the best of moods. My moms-to-be liked their yoga practice. They needed their yoga practice. And they needed to be serene while doing it. If a noisy dog fight disturbed their peaceful experience, I’d be the one getting barked at.

Thinking less than yogic thoughts, I marched up to the pair, determined to put a stop to the chaos.

“What in the world’s going on out here?”

The human half of the dastardly duo held a leash in one hand, newspapers in the other. He smiled at me and said, “Sorry about all the noise. I’m George, and this here’s Bella. What’s your name?”

“Kate Davidson, but—”

“Well, nice to meet you, Kate. I’d shake your hand, but mine are full, so Bella will have to do it instead.”

The vicious beast walked up and calmly sniffed my hand. I prayed she wasn’t about to ingest my fingers.

“Bella, say hello!”

Upon hearing her owner’s command, the giant hairy monster-dog immediately went into a perfect sit and sweetly offered me her paw. Maybe she wasn’t rabid after all. Just huge and ill-mannered.

“Don’t mind Bella,” he continued. “She’s very friendly to people. She just doesn’t like other dogs much. She’d be fine if people kept their unruly mutts to themselves, but they think if their rude dog wants to play, Bella has to as well.” He shook his head in disgust. “I don’t understand some people!”

I tried to interrupt, to tell him that his dog was the problem, but he didn’t give me the chance.

“Bella and I are new to this neighborhood, and we’re supposed to sell papers near the market. I tried setting up by the north entrance, but there’s a pet store at that end. Pete’s Pets, I think it’s called? The owner was a nice enough guy and all, but selling there was a disaster with all those dogs going in and out. Bella wasn’t happy at all.” He shrugged. “So I guess we’re going to have to hang out here instead.”

I bit the inside of my lip and considered my options. Up close, George wasn’t exactly the paragon of health I wanted standing outside my business. His friendly smile exposed yellowed teeth in need of significant dental care, and if the sharp, ammonia-like smell was any indication, neither he nor Bella had taken a bath in quite some time. At three-thirty in the afternoon, I could smell whiskey on his breath, and I suspected this most recent drink hadn’t been his first of the day. It would also likely be far from his last. I only knew one thing for certain: if George didn’t frighten my students away, his loud, intimidating, fur-covered companion would.

I needed them to leave, but honestly, I didn’t want to say it out loud. After all, I taught yoga for a living. People expected me to be calm and collected at all times. I wasn’t allowed to be mean, or even irritated, for that matter. I hesitated as I tried to come up with the perfect words to make him want to move, if not out of the neighborhood, then at least across the street.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), one of my favorite students picked that very moment to walk up with her five-month-old Lab pup, Coalie. “Hey, Kate!” she said. “I hoped I’d run into you! Do you still have space in your Core Strength class tonight?”
Coalie was as rude and friendly as Labs everywhere. She couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She ran up to Bella, wiggling her entire body with glee, and covered Bella’s muzzle in sloppy wet puppy kisses.

Bella wasted no time. Faster than a 747 and stronger than a freight train, Bella pinned Coalie to the ground between her front legs, snarling and air-snapping on either side of Coalie’s neck. I heard the sound of canine teeth chomping together and imagined soft puppy bones shattering between them.
My student screamed. Coalie yelped. George grabbed Bella’s collar while I reached in between razor-sharp teeth to pull Coalie from the jaws of death. The three of us wrestled the two dogs apart, but not before my student almost died of heart failure.

“What’s wrong with you?” she yelled. “Keep that vicious monster away from my baby!”

George quickly apologized, but said, “No damage done. Bella was just teaching that pup some manners.” He pointed at Coalie. “See, it’s all good!”

Coalie, oblivious with joy, seemed unscathed and ready to dive in again. Tail wagging and butt wiggling, she pulled with all her might, trying desperately to get back to Bella.

Bella had other plans. She sat next to George, glaring directly at that pup with a patented Clint Eastwood stare. Go ahead, she seemed to say. Make my day. My soon-to-be-former student ran off as quickly as her legs would move, dragging the still-happy puppy behind her.

“See you in class tonight!” I yelled to her rapidly retreating back. I doubted I’d be seeing her any time soon.

Yoga reputation be damned. I had to get rid of this guy.

I put my hands on my hips and stood nice and tall, taking full advantage of my five-foot-three-inch frame. “Look. I can’t let you stay here with the dog. She’s obviously frightening people. You have to leave.” I paused a moment for emphasis, then added, “Now.”

George stood a little taller, too. “Look yourself, lady. The last time I checked, I’m standing on city property. I have every right to be here. You don’t own this sidewalk, and you can’t stop me from making a living on it.” He glared at me, sharp eyes unblinking. “We Dollars for Change vendors are licensed, and no matter how much you don’t like us, the city says we can be here.”

“There’s no ‘us’ I don’t like,” I replied, frustrated. “It’s your dog. And you may have every right to be here, but the dog is another story. What do you think Animal Control will do if I report a vicious dog attacking people outside my store?”

George stepped back, pulling Bella closer. Seattle had the toughest dangerous dog laws in the nation. We both knew what would happen if I made that call. “You wouldn’t do that!” he said. “Bella’s never hurt anyone.”

I planted my feet stubbornly. “Try me.”

George gave me a wounded look and gathered his papers, shoulders slumped in depressed resignation. “OK, we’ll go. But I thought you yoga people were supposed to be kind.” He shuffled away, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. Bella followed close by his side.

“Crap,” I muttered, watching their slow departure. “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.”
He was right. Like all good yoga teachers, I had extensively studied yoga philosophy and tried to live by it. The teachings were clear: A yogi should respond to suffering with active compassion. And George was clearly suffering, whether he realized that fact or not.

Threatening to call the cops on George’s dog may have been active, but it wasn’t all that compassionate, to him or to Bella. I felt like a cad. My solution probably wasn’t what the teachings had in mind, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice.
“Hang on there a minute!” I yelled as I ran to catch up with him. Out of breath, I said, “You’re right. I overreacted, and I’m sorry. How many papers do you have left to sell today?”

George stopped walking. When he turned to look back at me, his eyes sparkled with an unexpected hint of wry humor. “About thirty.”

The calculations weren’t difficult. I wasn’t completely broke—yet—but thirty dollars wasn’t a drop in the bucket. On the other hand, my Monday evening classes were popular, and I had to get this guy away from the front door. Mentally crossing my fingers that the toilet wouldn’t break again, I said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” I hurried back to the studio and grabbed thirty dollars from the cash box.

“If I buy all of your papers, will you be done for the day?”

“Yes ma’am, and that would be very kind of you.” He gave me a broad, yellow-toothed smile. “Bella and I appreciate it very much.”
He took the money, left the papers, and wandered off, whistling. Bella happily trotted behind him.

“Well, that wasn’t so difficult,” I said, patting myself on the back. “I should follow the teachings more often!” I went back inside and finished my considerably shortened practice. I chose to ignore the quiet voice in my head telling me I’d just made a huge mistake.

Author Bio:
My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries.
I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.

My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I'm not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Dog Writers Association of America.

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