Hello and Welcome!

Red House Books is going through a bit of a update!

I've always had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted this space to be but I've been detoured from my path by...lots and lost of other people's opinions and ways of doing things...

I'm committed to this little chunk of the interweb but I've also branched out into other places so! Now it's time to think of Red House Books as more of a hub of all things me! And Me is a hell of a lot of book love!

Stay tuned!

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Review: Empress of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Book #1 of the Empress of A Thousand Skies series
Genre: YA sci-fi, fantasy
Publication: February 2017 by Razorbill
Acquisition: received an ARC as a gift

Synopsis:
Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta'an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne - and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding - even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee's name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.
(from Goodreads)
3 / 5 Stars

This one was all over the place for me. I loved it, it annoyed me, I loved it again, I wasn't feeling the need to finish it and then I ate up the ending quicker then anything.

What I liked:
The setting -- space! I love YA space stories! Give them all to me!
Ok - and the characters...most of the time.
And the story itself was good...not great but pretty good. The chase was nice - very fast moving with lots of pieces in play. The world was complex and pretty flushed out and the rules were pretty straightforward -- meaning, nothing seemed like a curve ball (which can sometimes happen with books set in space cause anything goes! But it really shouldn't…)
Anyway! I did like the story. Very much.

What I didn't like:
Those rules. Those rules of the world that everyone fit into without straying far into the implausible and crazy. I didn't like them. The system of government was hard to figure out and the...let's call it the movement of people? The transportation logistics were a little off. I had a hard time keeping straight where everyone came from, where they were going and how they got there.
Oh! And the characters - not many of them and they don't fit together really until BAM! Connections!! OOOO! Except, it was predictable. Very predictable. With so few potential players on the board, and loads of foreshadowing, when someone new just pops up? It's pretty easy to figure out who they are.
And then the ending - nope - it didn't work for me at all.

Final thoughts:
I really wanted to love this one and I was disappointed. But! I don't think everyone would be. I would still recommend Empress of A Thousand Skies to YA sci-fi fans and I will be reading book 2 because although I didn't really like how forced the character's connections were, I still have a need to see how everything plays out for them in the end.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Book #1 of the Royal Bastards series
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication: May 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
Acquisition: I received an egalley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis:
Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .
(from Goodreads)
4 / 5 Stars

This was a weird read for me. I really felt connected to the characters but the story itself was a little too neat and clean.

What I liked:
The adventure for sure. Lots of running and hiding and thinking quick and putting aside assumptions and unearthing all the secrets and lies.
Also, the character interactions were great. Everyone felt like a solid piece of the story and even when actions were surprising (there are a few twists!) they fell in line with how I viewed everyone so nothing really seemed far fetched or out of the blue.
The romance -- some call it insta love which omg I hate so much but even though it happened quickly...I still really fell for it all.

What I didn't like:
That neatest I mentioned. Don’t get me wrong - the story isn't simple or boring but the way things ended seemed to tidy. A little too many loose ends were tied up and I've heard this is part 1 of a trilogy? I can see where there would be room to explore more of the story but I'm also worried it wouldn't fit well with what we already know? But on the other hand, there is a lot these characters can still do. See what I mean about it being a bit weird for me? Pretty hard to put this one in a nice little box!

Final thoughts:
I really connected with the characters, I loved the setting and the overall story - love the fantasy elements - and even though I would be happy with Royal Bastards being a standalone, I'm still lusting after book 2 so I would say this is a solid start to a hopefully fabulous series.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Birthday Blitz: The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

"First book published on Inkshares' Geek & Sundry imprint"?!?!?
YES PLEASE! Geek & Sundry for life!!!


ABOUT THE PUNCH ESCROW
It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure, Arrival... Delight!

Joel Byram is an average twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial-intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave music and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. He’s pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting. Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.

ABOUT TAL M. KLEIN
Tal M. Klein was born in Israel, grew up in New York, and currently lives in Detroit with his wife and two daughters. When his daughter Iris was five years old, she wrote a book called I’m a Bunch of Dinosaurs that went on to become one of the most successful children’s book projects on Kickstarter —something that Tal explained to Iris by telling her, “your book made lots of kids happy.” Iris then asked Tal, "Daddy, why don’t you write book that makes lots of grownups happy?" Tal mulled this over for a few years, and eventually wrote his first book, The Punch Escrow. It won the Inkshares Geek & Sundry Hard Science Fiction Publishing contest, and will be the first book published on Inkshares’ Geek & Sundry imprint.


See what other's are saying about The Punch Escrow:

"Klein transports us to a beautifully rendered near-future world. This is refreshingly original and immersive hard sci-fi. You'll turn the last page and yearn for Joel Byram's next chapter."
—Ben Brock Johnson, host of Codebreaker podcast and NPR Marketplace Tech

"An alt-futuristic hard-science thriller with twists and turns you'll never see coming. I couldn't put it down."
—Felicia Day, author of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

"A compelling, approachable human narrative wrapped around a classic hard sci-fi nugget, The Punch Escrow dives into deep philosophical territory—the ethical limits of technology, and what it means to be human. Cinematically paced yet filled with smart asides, Klein's Punch pulls off the slick trick of giving readers plenty to think about in a suspenseful, entertaining package."
—Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica

“If I lived in the world of The Punch Escrow, I’d teleport around the world shoving copies of Tal M. Klein’s thrilling, hilarious and whip-smart debut into everyone’s hands. Save me the trip—and buy this novel now.”
—Duane Swierczynski, author of Revolver and the bestselling Level 26 series

“A fast-paced near-future sci-fi adventure peppered with exotic technology and cultural references ranging from Karma Chameleonto the Ship of Theseus, The Punch Escrow will have you rooting for its plucky, sarcastic hero as he bounces between religious fanatics, secret agents, corporate hacks and megalomaniacs in a quest to get his life back. If you've ever wanted to get Scotty drunk and ask him some tough questions about how those transporters work exactly, The Punch Escrow is the book for you.”
—Robert Kroese, author of The Big Sheep and its sequel, The Last Iota

“This book angered me to my core, because it’s based on an idea that should have occurred to me. The fact that Tal executed it so well, and made such a page-turner out of it, just adds insult to injury.”
—Scott Meyer, author of the Magic 2.0 series

"A headlong ride through a future where ‘huge international corporate conspiracy’ is a box you check on a form and teleportation takes you anywhere—it just blows you to bits first."
—Quentin Hardy, Head of Editorial, Google Cloud (formerly Deputy Tech Editor for The New York Times)

"Some writers take us to the future so we can question the effects that technology can have on humanity on a global and personal scale along with the impact upon the social fabric. Others do it to take us on a wild ride made all the more fantastic by pushing the boundaries of what we can expect from the world of tomorrow. Tal Klein masterfully balances both and sets it all to the beat of an 80s soundtrack. An excellent piece of contemporary science fiction."
—J-F. Dubeau, author of A God in the Shed and The Life Engineered

So excited!!



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling
Publication: March 14th 2017 by HarperTeen
Acquisition: I purchased a hardcover

Synopsis:
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
(from Goodreads)
5 / 5 Stars

So much love!
I love fantasy, I love fairy tale retellings and I love Spooner's writing. So! I had some pretty high expectations of Hunted. Happy to report - it did not disappoint!

What I liked:
The way the Beauty and the Beast story was enhanced. Every character had detailed and sometimes complicated backgrounds and everything played a part.
Also, the pure fantasy elements and the explanations on why the Beast was what he was and how it happened and how it could possibly be changed - it all fit together so well and really worked with the existing story (*cough* Disney *cough* *cough*) that most people know.
But! There was so much more to the story. I really can't go on enough about how wonderful all the details were. The backstory of the beast and Yeva's journey - it was fascinating. A fairy tale brought to life in an explosion of pure awesomeness.

What I didn't like:
Honestly, this was a solid 5 star read for me. I'd just be making up dislikes ;)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner Book Tour Stop + GIVEAWAY


Hey guys!
Today for my stop on the Blue Moon Narthex blog tour, I'm sharing some of author N.J. Donner's thoughts as well as an awesome giveaway!

ABOUT BLUE MOON NARTHEX:
The balance of good and evil has been left in the hands of a thirteen year old...

Since the beginning of time, Karmanic matter worked silently and unassisted keeping good and evil in balance, until growing greed in the world meant Karma couldn’t keep up. As World War I rages, the secret Karmanic Sovereign Legion works behind the scenes to help Karma.

A suspicious train accident and an odd stone-shaped object that belonged to his father thrust Cole McCarthy and two schoolmates into the middle of this battle to keep dark forces in check.

With only the powerful stone, a letter, and grandfatherly Norm to guide them, the trio must unravel clues and tap into unknown strengths to discover who Cole’s father really was and keep themselves and those they love safe.

Includes chapter 1 of book 2 in the Karmanic Sovereign Legion series!

Amazon | B&N


ABOUT N.J. DONNER:

N.J. Donner is the author of the new Karmanic Sovereign Legion books. N.J. loves to explore. The world fascinates him and he wants to figure out why and how things work, including Karma.

College adventures took N.J. far from his small Nebraska hometown to the southern hemisphere and the inner city. This was the beginning of his wanderlust and today he loves to travel with his wife, Amanda, and their three children.

N.J. became the first person to graduate with a minor in international affairs from Nebraska Wesleyan University and spent the years right out of college building a successful steel company.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram


N.J. Donner's thoughts on...

~Books that influenced him~
The book I still remember from when I was young is Hatchet by Gary Paulson. It painted a picture in my head and I still have that vision to this day. The book made me want to write. I started, but never got very far. Who would have thought that twenty years later I would start again and actually finish? Even though my world is drastically different than the Canadian wilderness Paulson described, I still wanted to create a place that people could imprint on their minds.

~Author journey~
I wish I would have reached out for help sooner into the process. I have had the great fortune of meeting and working with my writing coach, Cindy Conger. If you are serious about finishing a novel, help is a must. You need someone to keep you on track, push you when you are down, and give you the criticism you need when you need it. Nobody writes a good book alone. The Blue Moon Narthex may have been released much sooner if I had looked for the assistance I needed earlier.

~The a-ha moment~
I never had a clear view of how The Blue Moon Narthex was going to come together. I had a rough idea. Writing is a time for my mind to wander, so the entire story was a surprise even to me as I was writing. About half way through my rough draft, my wife read it and said, “You need to finish this.” That is when I knew The Blue Moon Narthex was going to get finished.

~Advice he would give to his younger self~
Don’t be so self-conscious and worried of what others think. I’ve always been a space cadet, or perpetual dreamer. I had— and still have— crazy ideas bouncing around inside my head. I would tell my younger self to use those and don’t hold back.

~NH Setting~
I can’t say specifically, (spoiler), but it has to do with where in my mind Coreseum is located. (FYI, it’s not in New Hampshire.) Pictures of Durham station and how close the McCarthy family lived, were major factors as well.


Giveaway: Blue Moon Narthex Swag Box (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway