Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Giveaway: Summer Hop ~ August 1st to 7th

Summer Hop 2

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Summer Giveaway Hop from August 1st to 7th!

Hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer (badge links to site) and co-hosted by BookHounds & Forever Young (adult)

beauty to die for

We have one copy for a US or Canadian address of: Beauty to Die for ~ by Kim Alexis and Mindy Starnes Clark.

It’s a Chic-Lit Murder Mystery with a Christian theme!

The Blurb:  Juliette Taylor walked away from her career as a supermodel twenty-five years ago. Now approaching fifty – an emotionally complex milestone -- she co-owns a beauty supply company that makes skincare products for salons and spas. Her niche is pampering Christian women who usually spend more time caring for others than for themselves under the slogan: Isn’t it time someone took care of YOU for a change?

When Juliette arrives at the Palm Grotto Spa to host a spiritual retreat, she runs into an old modeling colleague, Raven, who had always been disliked in the industry for many reasons. She isn’t there for the retreat; in fact, her presence at the spa is somewhat mysterious. Not long after Raven makes a cryptic threat to Juliette, the unsympathetic back-then beauty is found dead, poisoned by something in the green clay of a chai soy wrap. The following morning, a banner for the retreat has been unceremoniously altered: It’s your turn to be nurtured, to be restored . . . to be murdered.

Suspicion is directed at Juliette who has history with Raven and certainly knows how to use beauty products. But for murder?! Now she must find the real killer before the police really take care of her.

For more information click on the book cover to the publisher’s page for the book. B&H Books, August 2012.

About the authors:  Kim Alexis was a top model in the 1980s. Today she is a television actress, host, spokesperson, and commentator. She and her husband have five children and live in Florida.

Mindy Starns Clark is the best-selling author of the Million Dollar Mysteries, Smart Chick Mysteries, and The Women of Lancaster County book series and other books. She lives with her husband and children near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Because Christian fiction is not a genre we read, you do not need to be a reader/follower to enter this giveaway.  Just enter your data in the Google form below:


Optional ways to keep up to date on giveaways and reviews:

  1. Google: via the blog’s side bar (I will follow back if I can find your blog) or
  2. Facebook: for updates in your feed - add me as a friend
  3. Your Email Box
  4. Feed Reader
  5. Twitter (I will follow back, for any of these social media sites.)
  6. Google+
  7. Pinterest

This contest and hop is now closed. Another is coming up soon.

The winner for this contest is Stacy R. from South Carolina.  Congrats Stacy!

Review: Jane Eyre ~ by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre

Review by Shellie for: Jane Eyre ~ by Charlotte Bronte (In audio; read by Susan Ericksen)

A wonderful reading of this dramatic classic romance. Set during Victorian times, upon the bleak and lovely moors of North Yorkshire, England. It has a strong, intelligent, and likeable heroine who has unusual moral character and perseverance, making the story even more compelling.

About:   A plain young girl, Jane Eyre is a left a penniless orphan in the care of her wealthy aunt, who has promised Jane’s dying uncle that she will care for the child.  Sadly this non-blood relative despises Jane, and at the age of ten Jane is shipped off to a boarding school where conditions are difficult in a different way. Yet Jane perseveres, receives an education and begins teaching at the school she once attended.

Her life and the real story begin when Jane places an ad in a newspaper and soon is accepted as a governess for the French ward of a local wealthy landowner Mr. Rochester. Mr. Rochester is a rouge of a man and is twenty years her senior. That he is charming, wealthy, direct, and not very handsome does not stop Jane from falling in love with him.  Yet this is only the beginning of this convoluted story, as Mr. Rochester has more entanglements than he wishes to reveal.

Thoughts:   I absolutely loved every moment of this wonderful classic in audio, with its unexpected drama that kept me guessing. That the reader has a lovely voice with its North Yorkshire accent made the story even more likeable and realistic(she sounded similar to my in-laws who live in the area - my husband being a Yorkshireman) .

The book is also an enduring and relevant classic. Although the language is old fashioned there are the author’s timeless insights into human nature that give us a glimpse into our modern lives too. And even though social structures have changed (like women being able to own property today), our entanglements and dramas can be surprisingly similar.

It has wonderful descriptions of the green dales that are part of the landscape even today in North Yorkshire.  With its weather swept beautiful moors and their natural bleakness, Charlotte Bronte describes them skillfully.  So if you would enjoy a vicarious trip to the English countryside, albeit 150 years ago, then this is a perfect choice for a read or listen.

I do not give many five stars, but this book is one that is very deserving. It captured me with every word and drew me in until the very last sentence. I recommend it particularly in the audio version read by Susan Ericksen which was just lovely!

Audio Edition: unabridged version read by Susan Ericksen ; Brilliance Audio; 17 hours, 21 minutes; May 25, 2005.

For more about Charlotte Bronte see her Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Brontë


These are the hills above Skipton, North Yorkshire, which is approximately 15 miles from where the Bronte’s lived and wrote their novels. These pictures were taken during the summer of 2011, from our visit last year (you can see me and also John’s shadow on the right).  Isn’t it beautiful with the heather blooming? The weather was exceptional that day and during our visit. But, as is well known, it can change within moments and become wet, inhospitable, windy and cold.

I found that there are many retellings and offshoots of this classic. Understandably so, since it’s such a wonderful book. Several of interest are The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, and The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey.  And on my review list is Dark Companion by Marta Accosta. It’s a young adult story recently published by Tor. It has a speculative thread including vampires. Now that I have read the classic I feel better equipped to read these retellings.

This book will be included in the challenge - Fill in the Gaps.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Permanence ~ by Vincent Zandri

Permanence - Zandri

Review for Permanence ~ by Vincent Zandri

A tragic page turning story that has madness, and themes of water and fire at its core.

About:  This is the second version of Vincent Zandri’s award nominated story first published in 1995.  It’s a heartbreaking thriller with a broken main character named Mary Kismet. She has a family history of mental illness, her first baby drowned accidently in the household bathtub and her husband has subsequently left her. As she struggles to keep herself together, her only solace is her weekly visit to her psychiatrist, who has overstepped his professional boundaries. But he too has his secrets, which he is unable to share. The question is: will it take Mary over the edge?

Thoughts:  The above is the first part of a heart-stopping story which although interspersed with some happier moments spirals down, becoming more convoluted until its heartbreaking ending. Told in an unusual writing style, Zandri is both down to earth and unique in his word usage. He also does a fine job of taking the perspective of a woman on the edge or sanity.

With its theme of water running through the novel, there is a drowning and a trip to Venice as key events. So be prepared to be taken on a trip to Italy and more, where you have to keep reading to find out what’s going to happen next. I enjoyed this novella, give it a 3.5 stars, and recommend it for those who enjoy tragic thrillers.

143 pages; Bear Media; (May 4, 2012) original publication by Northwest Pub (November 1995) partners in crime tour button

For more about the author and his numerous books link to his website: http://www.vincentzandri.com/

This story is part of a book tour, hosted by Partners in Crime. Link to Vincent Zandri’s tour page via the badge above.

Partners in Crime is also looking for reviewers. If interested information is provided on their website.

It will be included in The Short Story Challenge 2012.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: La Vagabonde ~ Colette

la vagabonde

Review by Shellie for: La Vagabonde ~ by Colette (audio)

A classic feminist translation from French that’s a “romantic” story told by a heartbroken performer named Renee, who must choose between freedom and love during Victorian times.

About:  Published in 1910 this is a short book that is supposedly a semi-autobiography from the interesting bohemian author – Colette. The story is told in first person by Renee Nere, the main character who has divorced her wealthy, philandering, artist husband after eight years of emotional torture.  Damaged, much wiser, yet lonely, she has managed to support herself as a dancer and actor in Paris. Although not considered an acceptable profession for her social standing, it never-the-less gives Renee a sense of independence which is hard earned during a time when a woman’s independence was not common and, indeed, shunned.

When a wealthy gentleman falls in love with Renee and promises her the moon, and the dancer attempts to decide between marriage and independence - that is when the reader gets a glimpse into why this book is considered a feminist classic.

Thoughts:  I truly enjoyed this book in audio, with its UK-English accented reader and its esoteric French phrase usage. (I speak 4 words of French and received horrible grades for it in high school, so did not understand most of it). Yet the English part of the book is descriptive and pleasant, if slightly long winded at times. At one point Renee travels the French countryside, and the letters Renee writes her would be lover are sweet indeed.

When doing research about the author, I found Colette to be an intriguing subject. Living a life that was not standard, she broke many social rules including affairs with a tabooed family member and women.  Although this book does not have LGBT elements, it’s still feminist in nature and is not your happily-ever-after romance.  But I think that is where its value lies, in a “realistic” example of a woman who goes against the social norms of the times and lives her life to the fullest.

I give this wonderful short novel (especially in its audio version) a 4-star rating and recommend it highly for those interested in anything French, Victorian classics, and feminist fiction.

Unabridged; read by Johanna Ward; translated by Charlotte Remfry Kidd; Blackstone Audio, Inc; 6 hours, 22 minutes; Sep 5, 2006.

For more information on Colette, see her English Wikipedia site. There is loads of juicy details about her well lived life there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colette

This book review will be included in the Fill in the Gaps challenge.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Giveaway: Lazy Days of Summer Hop ~ July 27th to August 1st

lazydays button

Welcome to the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop from July 27th to August 1st, hosted by Colorimety  and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

kitty steals the show

We have a copy of  KITTY STEALS THE SHOW ~ by Carrie Vaughn for one US or Canadian address, courtesy of Tor.

About:  Kitty has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. The conference brings together scientists, activists, protestors, and supernatural beings from all over the world—and Kitty, Ben, and Cormac are right in the middle of it.

Master vampires from dozens of cities have also gathered in London for a conference of their own. With the help of the Master of London, Kitty gets more of a glimpse into the Long Game—a power struggle among vampires that has been going on for centuries—than she ever has before. In her search for answers, Kitty has the help of some old allies, and meets some new ones, such as Caleb, the alpha werewolf of the British Isles. The conference has also attracted some old enemies, who’ve set their sights on her and her friends.

All the world’s a stage, and Kitty’s just stepped into the spotlight.

It’s book number 10 of the this great series. I have just finished books 1 and 2 and loved them. Kitty is a complex and likeable character and Carrie Vaughn is an exceptional writer – easy to read, intelligent and loads of fun!

You can read the first chapter of the book on the author’s website. Tor; 7/31/2012; Mass Market Paperbound.

Carrie Vaughn is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kitty Norville books, including Kitty’s Big Trouble and Kitty and the Midnight Hour. She is also the author of the stand-alone novels After the Golden Age and Discord’s Apple, and the young adult books Voice of Dragons and Steel.

Rules for this giveaway:

  • This book is available for US/Canada addresses only
  • Please be a reader/follower to enter this contest
  • Fill out the Google form COMPLETELY or your entry will not count

You Must Follow - you have two ways to follow Layers of Thought:

  1. Google: via the blog’s side bar (I will follow back if I can find your blog) or
  2. Facebook: for updates in your feed - add me as a friend

Here are some Optional Ways to keep up to date:

  1. Your Email Box
  2. Feed Reader
  3. Twitter (I will follow back, for any of these social media sites.)
  4. Google+
  5. Pinterest

This hop is now closed. Congrats to the winner - Barbara B. from Kansas!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Fallen (audio) ~ by Lauren Kate

Fallen (audio)

Review by Shellie for Fallen ~ by Lauren Kate (audio)

The first in a popular young adult/middle grade romance series about a teenage girl who is required to reside at a boarding school for troubled youths. But the students are not normal delinquents – they are fallen angels.

About:  Luce is seeing things that her parents and the other adults in charge (teachers and the police) think are not real. That she appears to be responsible for the death of a fellow classmate (he burned to death) does not help either.  It’s understandable that Luce is required to attend a school for damaged teens, a boarding school called Sword and Cross. 

Luce is depressed at her apparent bad luck, lost in the old school’s halls where she does not quite fit in with the other students. She feels conflicted about her responsibility for her classmate’s death, and is also experiencing things that are out of the normal but that she knows are real – even though no-one else believes. She misses her mom and dad and the students at the boarding school are not very nice to her. When she meets Daniel, she cannot forget him and has trouble understanding why he likes her one minute then ignores her the next. Soon she finds that Daniel is not what he appears and that they have a past which is way more complicated that she could ever imagine.

Thoughts:  This is my second go at this book. This time I listened to it in audio and enjoyed it. The reader has a pleasant young adult voice which I found easy to listen to. I abandoned the print version of the book in its arc format several years ago because it did not draw me in during the first several chapters. However, in its audio version I had no trouble completing the story.

As a person with a degree in education, I thought the book felt like a great one for middle-grade girls. It was easy to listen to, has light romance, and I would mark it as a “clean read” for early teens and pre-teens. There are some Christian and reincarnation themes which may be of interest to some, and just enough horror to keep most young readers interested.

Although I enjoyed the audio book, I personally do not feel a big desire to complete the other books in the series (there are another 5) and therefore give the book a 3 star. An enjoyable listen that I would recommend for tween girls, their parents and teachers looking for an intriguing dark romance for their female children/students.

Read by Justine Eyre; Listening Library; 10 hours, 56 minutes; December 2009.

This completed series includes a prequel and 4 sequels. For more information about the author and her books link to Lauren Kate’s website: http://laurenkatebooks.net/

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Sacrilege ~ by S. J. Parris


Review by John for:  Sacrilege (book 3) ~ by S. J. Parris (ARC edition)

A complex medieval whodunit wrapped around the legend of St. Thomas Becket - set in and around England’s Canterbury Cathedral.

About:  Giordano Bruno is an Italian ex-monk and radical philosopher. Having fallen foul of a dogmatic Catholic church, he now works for Queen Elizabeth’s principal secretary and “spymaster”, Walsingham, who is battling European plots against England’s protestant monarch. A part of Bruno’s past unexpectedly catches up with him when Sophia, who he used to love, tracks him down. She is disguised as a boy and on the run from “justice” in Canterbury, where she is accused of murdering her husband – a much older man who was also the local magistrate.

Bruno has a reputation as something of a sleuth, and she pleads with him to help her. Despite the many dangers, Bruno finds her advances difficult to resist and she persuades him to try and track down the real murderer. Needing a legitimate reason to travel to Canterbury, Walsingham is persuaded to send Bruno to Canterbury in order to help the spymaster’s local agent, who is trying to keep tabs on an underground movement that is suspected of working with the French and the Spanish to restore Catholic rule in England.

The magistrate’s gruesome murder bears some uncanny links to the death of Thomas Becket in the Cathedral hundreds of years previously. Becket is venerated by local Catholics and it seems that his name and his supposedly lost remains might be used by the plotters to help stir support for their cause. And so the layers of secrecy and subterfuge mount. Sophia cannot be seen in Canterbury for fear of her life; Bruno cannot challenge the local authorities by openly investigating the murder; the suspected Canterbury plotters are all powerful men in positions of authority who cannot be openly crossed; they may or may not possess the remains of the Saint; Walsingham’s agent must preserve his secret role; and in the middle of it all Bruno has to find answers quickly while having no-one in Canterbury that he can truly trust.

Meanwhile there are more murders that stir up the town, and as a foreigner Bruno is automatically under suspicion and finds himself in great danger.

John’s thoughts:  While being easy to read, this also has a nicely complex plot with lots of twists and turns. Bruno is a well-constructed character who is smart but with weaknesses. You know he’ll figure everything out in the end, but you can’t see how until you get to the final few pages. When all is revealed, there are plenty of surprises.

Some of the other characters are also well-developed and not too straightforward; people are not always what they seem. I also like the depiction of life in sixteenth century England. You get to experience what it was like for people living in those times – the squalor of life and difficulties for ordinary folk; but also how gritty it was even for many who were relatively well off. It never sits well with me when daily life in historical novels is airbrushed and too clean.

When I first looked at the book I wondered if it might be a bit over-religious for my taste, but it was not at all. Bruno is a disillusioned ex-monk, a key theme of the plot is Catholic-versus-Protestant strife and it’s mostly set in and around Canterbury cathedral, but these just provide a framework on which to hang a good murder mystery suspense. The religious angles didn’t get in the way at all for me.

It’s also interesting that Bruno is a real-life person from history, and an intriguing one at that. While his sleuthing and detective work are fictional, his background and many of the foundation details contained in the novel reflect his real life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

This is the third Parris novel featuring Bruno, and it seems like there are more to come. However, you don’t feel like you are missing out by not having read the first two, and there aren’t any annoying loose ends left that have to be tidied up in future volumes. So this novel is self-contained and can be read as a one-off. Overall this was a fun and interesting read. If you like medieval historic novels or whodunits in unusual settings, this is definitely for you. I’d rate it 3.5 stars.

Random House | April 10, 2012 | Pages: 432

This is book number 3 in this series. The first is called Heresy and the second Prophecy.

S. J. Parris is an English author, and is the pen name of Stephanie Merritt, a journalist for  the Observer and the Guardian. Link for an interview with the S. J. Parris about her first book in the series at Book Browse (a favorite place to find books.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Half Year Summary and Linkup ~ Books Read

summer reading

Half Year Summary and Linkup: A list of books read, and abandoned. Also included are interviews for the first half of 2012.

Yes, we’ve been busy reading and wanted to share our list of books in alphabetical order with links to reviews.

One never knows with lists, you may find a new book to read?

 Shellie ~ Read and Reviewed:

  1. A Long Long Sleep ~ by Anna Sheehan (audio)
  2. All There Is: Love Stories from Storycorps ~ by David Isay
  3. Cinder ~ by Marissa Meyer (audio)
  4. Feed ~ by M. T. Anderson (audio)
  5. Fever Series ~ by Karen Marie Moning (5 book series)(audio) (+4)
  6. Heft ~ by Liz Moore (audio)
  7. In Other Worlds ~ by Margaret Atwood (audio)
  8. In the Sea there are Crocodiles ~ by Fabio Geda. (audio)
  9. Jamrach’s Menagerie ~ by Carol Birch (audio)
  10. Kafka on the Shore ~ by Haruki Murakami (audio)
  11. Other Kingdoms ~ by Richard Matheson (audio)
  12. Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day ~ by Ben Loory
  13. Tarnished ~ by Karina Cooper
  14. The Age of Miracles ~ by Karen Thompson Walker
  15. The Book of Lost Fragrances ~ by M.J. Rose
  16. The Cove ~ by Ron Rash
  17. The First Days (As the World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy #1) ~ by Rhiannon Frater
  18. The Girl Below ~ by Bianca Zander
  19. The Island of Dr. Moreau ~ by H. G. Wells  (audio)
  20. The Last Storyteller ~ by Frank Delany
  21. The Whisperer ~ Donato Carrisi
  22. The Women of Nell Gwynne’s ~ by Kage Baker
  23. The Wicked Good Stepmother ~ by William G. Bentrim
  24. This Perfect Day ~ by Ira Levin
  25. Three Weeks in December ~ by Audrey Schulman
  26. What Dies in Summer ~ by Tom Wright
  27. White Horse ~ by Alex Adams
  28. Wood (a novella) ~ by Robert Dunbar

Subtotal: 28 + 4 = 32

Read without Reviews:

  1. Fallen ~ by Kate Lauren (audio)
  2. Jane Eyre ~ by Charlotte Bronte (audio)
  3. Kitty and the Midnight Hour (book #1) ~ by Carie Vaughn (audio)
  4. La Vagabonde ~ Collette (audio)
  5. Oryx and Crake ~ by Margaret Atwood (audio)
  6. The Alzheimer's Prevention Program ~ by Gary Small
  7. The Last Werewolf ~ by Glen Duncan (audio)
  8. The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing  ~ by Evan Marshall
  9. The Sword Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse #1) ~ by Alex Bledsoe (audio)
  10. Vegan Fire & Spice ~ by Robin Robertson


  1. A Brush of Darkness ~ by Allison Pang (130 pages)
  2. Eyes Like Leaves ~ Charles de Lint (100 pages)
  3. Fifty Shades of Grey ~ E.L. James (audio)(50 pages) 
  4. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain  ~ by Maryann Wolf (audio) (30 pages)

Total: 32 + 10 + 4 = 46 books read

John ~ Read and Reviewed:

  1. A Bridge of Years ~ by Robert Charles Wilson
  2. After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall ~ by Nancy Kress
  3. Cleopatra: A Life ~ by Stacy Schiff
  4. Lucky Bastard ~ by S. G. Browne
  5. Mindscan ~ Robert J. Sawyer
  6. Our Man in the Dark ~ by Rashad Harrison
  7. Spartacus: The Gladiator ~ by Ben Kane
  8. The Broken Universe (Universe 2) ~ by Paul Melko
  9. The Forever War ~ by Joe Haldeman
  10. The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Stories #2) ~ by Bernard Cornwell
  11. The Revisionists ~ by Thomas Mullen
  12. The Whisperer ~ by Donato Carrisi
  13. Written in the Ashes ~ by K. Hollan Van Zant

Read and Up for Review:

  1. Sacrilege ~ by S. J. Parris
  2. The Devil in Silver ~ by Victor Lavalle
  3. Watchmen ~ by Alan Moore


  1. The Tapestry Shop ~ by Joyce Elson Moore (80 pages)
  2. Come Back ~ by Sky Gilbert (30 pages)
  3. Tribulations ~ by Ken Shufeldt (50 pages)

Total: 13 + 3 + 3 = 19 books read

Guest Posts and Interviews


A Question:   Do you consider a book read if it has been abandoned?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Incoming Books: July 17th, 2012

old books with glasses

Incoming Books July 17th, 2012!

It’s our incoming books section in a slightly different format - with basic information and links instead of blurbs. If you’re looking for more information for a particular book, click on its cover and it will take you to the publisher’s page.

Even though the format is slightly different we nevertheless want to know: 

Which of these recently or soon to published books would you choose to read first?


Macmillan | Tor

dark companion


Dark Companion ~ By Marta Acosta;  Tor Teen | July 2012 | Hardcover | Young Adult Fiction |368 pages

A retelling of Jane Eyre for young adults which includes vampires!

Here’s a blog post from Marta Acosta at Tor called Haunted Mansions and Eclipses.




Energized ~ by Edward M. Lerner;  Tor Books | 7/17/2012 | Hardcover | 336 pages

No one expected the oil to last forever. How right they were….

A hard science fiction thriller!

wake of the bloody angel




Wake of the Bloody Angel ~ by Alex Bledsoe;  Tor Books| July 2012 | Trade Paperback | 352 pages

It’s book number 4 in the popular Eddie LaCrosse series.  They are action packed mysteries set in a fantastical medieval world.

I just finished book number one in the series, and thought it was a blast!


Simon and Schuster

the taker


The Taker ~ by Alma Katsu (book 1);  Gallery Books | March 2012 | 464 pages

True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price.

The first in this romantic historical fantasy.

      the reckoning



The Reckoning (book 2 of the Taker Trilogy) ~ by Alma Katsu;   Gallery Books | June 2012 |  352 pages

Lanore McIlvrae is the kind of woman who will do anything for love. Including imprisoning the man who loves her behind a wall of brick and stone.



Random House

 the devil in silver

The Devil in Silver  ~ by Victor Lavalle;  August 21, 2012| Random House | Pages: 432

New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.

John really enjoyed this literary novel and should have a review completed soon.



Non Fiction

vegan for the holidays


Vegan for the Holidays ~ Zel Allen;  160 pages | Book Publishing Company |July 1, 2012

A book with recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and New Year’s Eve celebrations that showcases recipes without meat and dairy.




Book Purchases

the chemistry of tears


The Chemistry of Tears ~ by Peter Carey; Random House |May 15, 2012 | Pages: 240

An automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, two stories of love—all are brought to incandescent life in this hauntingly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time. 


the games



The Games ~ by Ted Kosmatka; Random House | March 13, 2012 |Pages: 368

Set in an amoral future where genetically engineered monstrosities fight each other to the death in an Olympic event, The Games envisions a harrowing world that may arrive sooner than you think.

This author wrote a Nebula nominated story that I gave a 5.5 star to.


Book Winnings



Nameless ~ by Karen Hunter;  352 pages| Gallery Books| Jan 2012

In the in between are the Nameless; names are for masters and they have none. They live in the Nameless realm; between being saved and being destroyed. They are Fallen.


From Julie at  Reel Swell blog via Heather from Buried in Books! A big thank you to both.


liquid lies


A three book win from author Carolyn Jewel’s blog.  And look at these covers – very racy!


Liquid Lies ~ by Hanna Martine;  368 pages | 03 Jul 2012 | Berkley

Magic is corporate America's best-kept secret, and Gwen Carroway is the best at selling it...

The first in a series of a new paranormal romance by a debut author.

melt into you



Melt Into You ~ by Roni Loren; 368 pages | 03 Jul 2012 | Berkley

Book two of an erotic fantasy, which is not my usual genre but goodness knows it could be fun.

the darkest day





The Darkest Day ~ by Britt Bury;  Grand Central Publishing | 7/3/2012 | 300 pages

A paranormal romance set in Scotland.




Once again we ask: Which of these books would you choose to read first?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Review: The Girl Below ~ by Bianca Zander

The Girl Below

Review by Shellie for: The Girl Below ~ by Bianca Zander

A “post-adolescent coming of age” story where  the “lost” main character finds herself through a series of events, some paranormal in nature.

About:  Told in the first person and mixing the past with the present,  the narrator Suki Piper is a young English woman who has just moved home to London from an extended stay in New Zealand.  She has come back to her old neighborhood where she lived prior to her mother’s death from cancer.  The problem is that Suki can’t seem to get her life together.  It’s one bad situation after another. Worse is that she is having flashbacks or delusions, which are clouding  her ability to make decisions.

Fumbling through her muddled life, she accidently discovers the answers to the questions that are haunting her - questions that seem to be linked to a night in the past, where her mum, dad and family friends drunkenly explored a defunct air raid shelter after a party. It’s here that something which transcends time occurs.

Thoughts:  I enjoyed this layered story with the author’s descriptive writing which is often dryly humorous. There is nothing like the British sense of humor for a good snicker, so expect some giggles. I also liked that it was a vicarious trip to London, New Zealand, Greece and slightly back in time. Set during summer it creates an enjoyable read for the warmer months.  Lastly, with its light paranormal element there is an unusual twist to the story, creating it’s sweet ending.  All wonderful elements for a story.

I did have several problems. One is that I did need to do some skimming to understand the plot, due to its literary nature - the author goes in depth about the characters and their experiences rather than the plot; not a bad thing for many readers.  I also had a hard time relating to the damaged main character.  She has an outlook that life probably could not get any worse, which is not the type of character I normally identify with.  Suki was a series of car wrecks, understandably because she did have some tough events to digest.

In the end, beyond my niggles, I would say that this is a promising début from a talented author. I give it a 3.5 star rating. Recommend for Anglophiles looking for a story with a magical twist, a positive ending, and summer settings in Europe.

Bianca Zander

June 19th 2012; William Morrow Paperbacks.

Author Bio:   British-born Bianca Zander has lived in Auckland, New Zealand, for the past two decades. An established journalist, she has written for numerous publications, including The Listener, the Sunday Star-Times, and the Dominion Post. She has produced radio shows and written for film and television, including writing the dramatic short film The Handover, which screened in competition at the Chicago Film Festival. Bianca holds an M.A. in creative writing from Victoria University, Wellington. The Girl Below is her first novel.  Facebook page and a Twitter account.

tlc tour host


This book is part of a book tour. To find other reviews link to our host’s page via the badge to the left. It will take you to the designated page for The Girl Below.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Giveaway: Summer Reads Hop ~ July 6th to 11th

Summer Reads Hop

Welcome to the Summer Reads Giveaway Hop from July 6th to 11th, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (badge links to site) and co hosted by Rex Robot Reviews!

We have two sets of The Iron Elves fantasy series available for two US winners, courtesy of the publisher!  This offer is to celebrate the paperback version release date of the 3rd in the series, Ashes of a Black Frost, on September 25th.  Two winners will receive the paperback copies of the first two in the series and the hardcover version of Ashes of a Black Frost.

a darkeness forged in firethe light of shadowashes of black frost

It’s military fantasy with a Napoleonic flavor. Book covers above link to the the publisher’s site for more information on each.

Rules for this giveaway:

  • This book is available for US addresses only
  • Please be a reader/follower to enter this contest
  • Fill out the Google form COMPLETELY

You Must Follow - you have two ways to follow Layers of Thought:

  1. Google: via the blog’s side bar (I will follow back if I can find your blog) or
  2. Facebook: for updates in your feed - add me as a friend

Here are some Optional Ways to keep up to date:

  1. Your Email Box
  2. Twitter (I will follow back, if your account is not protected.)
  3. Google+
  4. Pinterest
  5. Feed Reader

Winners for this contest are Brian B. and Levina G.!

This blog hop is now closed, please stop by soon for our next giveaway!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: The Island of Dr. Moreau ~ by H. G. Wells

Island of Dr Moreau

Review by Shellie for: The Island of Dr. Moreau (in audio) ~ by H. G. Wells

A classic science fiction and horror mix that includes monsters created by the amoral Dr. Moreau.

About:  Set in the late 1800’s, an educated and professional man named Edward Prendick inadvertently becomes stranded on a South Pacific island. This tropical island houses the laboratories of Dr. Moreau - a mad scientist of sorts who is doing some unusual and cruel experiments on animals on the remote island. Although Moreau attempts to hide his studies from the stranded newcomer, Prendick eventually finds out what is becoming of the animals when he hears screaming from the laboratories. Prendick is naturally terrified that he too may become one of the doctor’s subjects.

Thoughts:  Originally published in 1896, the novel is an adventure, with some thrilling twists in a spectacular setting. It’s definitely horrific and scientific, although the science is unrealistic based upon today’s standards. It has also been adapted into a variety of movies over the past 100 years. Some look interesting, so I plan to watch a select few since a movie version could be fun and I think would translate well.

There is some interesting commentary hidden in the story, bringing up questions around human and animal social structure, issues of vivisection, definitions of pain, and some unusual monsters; which in some ways reminded me of Frankenstein. So it could be an excellent book for discussion - take a look at its Wikipedia page where there is loads of fodder for thought: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Island_of_Doctor_Moreau

Highly recommended for anyone interested in stories with darker themes. Only 200 pages or so, or just several hours of listening time, I finished it quickly. It was a great read since I love science fiction, horror, and classics and this is all three. I give it a 4 star rating.

Unabridged audio edition;  read by Jonathan Kent; Tantor Media; 4 hours, 7 minutes; Dec 12, 2006.

Bio:  Herbert George Wells lived from 1866 to 1946. He was a British author, best known for his work in science fiction. Also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, he even wrote text books and rules for war games. With Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells is considered one of the “Father of Science Fiction".

Interestingly, Wells' training was in biology, and his thinking was Darwinian in context. He was also an outspoken socialist and later became a pacifist.  For more information link about him link to his bio on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells

This book will be include in several challenges. Two are Fill in the Gaps: 100 Book Project and The Basics Challenge where I explore speculative fiction.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: The Broken Universe ~ by Paul Melko

the broken universe

A review by John for: The Broken Universe (Universe 2) ~ by Paul Melko

A highly creative and unusual science fiction thriller that spans a multitude of parallel universes and revolves around a whole host of doppelgängers.

About:  John Rayburn has come into possession of technology that allows him to travel into parallel universes – and finds that there are a multitude of them; some similar to his own and some very different. In the similar universes he often finds that there are different versions of himself and his closest friends. These doppelgängers are like identical twins; they are the same in almost every way with only subtle differences marking them apart. But just occasionally, the differences are more fundamental.

John, his friends and a group of their doppelgängers set up the first transdimensional company, exploiting minor differences between technologies, products and events in the multiple universes in order to build a business empire. But their travels and exploits in the multiverse start to garner unwanted attention from other transdimensional travellers.

At first it is the Alarians who cause the Johns and their friends the most trouble. They have been trapped in a single universe and they are desperate to get their hands on John’s multiverse travelling technology. But just as the Johns seem to be getting the upper hand with the evil Alarians, the mysterious and all-powerful Vig appear on the scene, and they appear to be hell-bent on stopping anyone from travelling between universes.

John’s thoughts:  It’s always nice to come across a plot which is totally different from anything you’ve ever read before, and The Broken Universe is just that. It’s different, highly imaginative, creative and fun. The story includes some really neat concepts about the “multiverse” which makes for a nice twisty storyline.

I really like the idea of John and his friends setting up business with their “twins” from multiple universes, and seeing how the almost identical groups interact with each other. So high marks for creativity, uniqueness and a complex plot.

Where it fell down a bit for me was with the villains in the story – they were a bit two-dimensional and not very believable. While John and his close friends were well-developed characters, their foes were like something out of a comic book. This led to some of the main events and action sequences being a bit unsatisfying somehow.

Nonetheless I enjoyed the read and loved some of the ideas that Melko developed. I’d rate this as 3 stars and recommend it to anyone who likes a classic science fiction read.

Tor Books; June 2012; Hardcover; 384 pages.

the walls of the universe

This book is the second in a series. The first book is The Walls of the Universe, which was nominated for the Sturgeon, Nebula, and Hugo Awards in 2007.

Here is a bit about the first book in the series via the publisher’s blurb:

John Rayburn thought all of his problems were the mundane ones of an Ohio farm boy in his last year in high school. Then his doppelgänger appeared, tempted him with a device that let him travel across worlds, and stole his life from him. John soon finds himself caroming through universes, and, when the device breaks, unable to return home. John settles in a new universe to unravel the machine’s secrets and fix it.

Meanwhile, his doppelgänger tries to exploit the commercial technology he’s stolen from other Earths: the Rubik’s Cube! John’s attempts to lie low in his new universe backfire when he inadvertently introduces pinball. It becomes a huge success. Both actions draw the notice of other, more dangerous travelers, who are exploiting worlds for ominous purposes.

For more about the author Paul Melko link to his website: http://www.paulmelko.com/

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...