Book Review: Contamination (Feast of Weeds #2) by Jamie Thornton

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Sequels can be hit or miss, however Jamie Thornton nailed it with her second book in the Feast of Weeds series, Contamination.

Although the story picks up roughly where the first left off when it comes to timeline, Contamination follows a brand new set of characters in their journey to survive the outbreak that is quickly turning the population into rabid zombie-like beings.

I really enjoy how Thornton ties in the past characters to the new ones, and I appreciate that the author gives some explanations as to how the virus began and the scope of the spread.

Another aspect of the novel that I like is Corinna’s backstory. The glimpses into her past make it easier to understand her decision making throughout her stuggles. As for Dylan and her “friend” Jane, well… I didn’t like them much however I don’t suspect that the reader is supposed to.

Honestly, I preferred Contamination over the first book of the series. It’s just as action packed as Germination however since Contamination is a full-length novel instead of a novella, I feel that Thornton was able to offer so much more to her readers.

All in all, Contamination is a can’t-put-down zombie thriller that will have you reading into the wee hours of the night.

NOTE: I received a free copy from the author in exchange with an honest review.

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Book Review: Where Death is a Hunter by Christopher Stookey

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Where Death is a Hunter is a fast-paced medical thriller by author Christopher Stookey and an absolute gripping read. The book kicks off right at the moment where all goes wrong and doesn’t let up until the very end. It tells the story of Hannah Fâtier, an anesthesiologist who is accused of malpractice when a patient dies under her care in the OR. The more Hannah goes over the details of the event however, the less they make sense. As the pieces of the puzzle come together it becomes increasingly obvious that someone has framed her.

Medical thrillers are a tricky genre to write without them becoming a lexicon of medical mumbo-jumbo. This could especially have been the case considering the author, Christopher Stookey, also happens to be an MD. Thankfully, he succeeds in creating a very comprehensible novel with just enough hospital terms to make it believable but not enough to loose his readers.

Where Death is a Hunter is the type of book that refuses to let you put it down and I credit Stookey’s pacing skills for that (seriously, I read it in one day). He has written a novel mostly devoid of “fluff” which is incredibly refreshing . There’s little that is capable of losing my attention faster than reading paragraph after paragraph of unnecessary text (fillers, as I call them) and it’s great to see an author that keeps it to the point.

The characters are also very solid. I like how we get to know Hannah’s background bit by bit and I especially like her own personal growth throughout the story. I won’t lie – I had a pretty good idea who had “done it” so to speak, but wasn’t sure about the “why” until it was revealed.

Where Death is a Hunter is a fantastic novel and I recommend it to fans of the thriller/mystery genre. I look forward to reading more novels by Stookey in the future.

Note: I received this novel by the author in exchange with an honest review.

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Book review: The Mine by John A. Heldt

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Time travel stories tend to be a hit or miss for me however John Heldt’s The Mine manages to fall somewhere in the middle. I liked the premise of the novel and the quality of the writing was very good. My main issue is that I feel it needed more drama. Given the situation that the main character was thrown in, I was expecting a fair amount of conflict and chaos. The transition into Joel’s new life and every situation that he subsequently faced seemed to go a little too smoothly for the protagonist. Where is the terror at the realization that he’s just been sent nearly 60 years back in time? Where is the panic?

Overall, the characters were likeable enough. The standout for me was definitely Ginny, who had just the right amount of sass and candor to really bring the character to life. Personally, I believe that Heldt’s strong suit lies in his well developed description of the era. The world the author built made it easy to imagine what life was like in the early 40s.

Did I enjoy The Mine? Sure. Was it an edge of your seat page turner? Not quite. However it did have enough substance and redeeming qualities to make up for the aspects it lacked. Bonus; the twist at the end was absolutely brilliant.

Note: I received an ecopy of The Mine from the author John A. Heldt in exchange for an honest and unbiased review of the novel.

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“Dear author, we regret to inform you…”

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Let’s not kid ourselves here; being rejected by a literary agent sucks. And being rejected by several agents sucks even more. You spend hours upon hours perfecting your query letter and emailing it to every literary agent you find online only to be met with a slew of very impersonal rejection responses weeks (or sometimes even months) later. Worse are the times that you aren’t even graced with a reply and instead find yourself in literary submission limbo – a place of both wishful thinking and utter hopelessness. As dismal as this may seem, it’s important to note that you’re not the first person to be subjected to this cold fate. Bestselling authors such as J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie and Dr. Seuss were all rejected by literary agents numerous times before making it in the industry.

Last week, I attended a business seminar and the guest speaker made mention of Howard Schultz who was rejected by banks 242 times before someone loaned him the money to start his business. 242 times – let that sink in for a moment. Today, Starbucks has a net worth of 70.9 billion. I get that this anecdote has little relation to books however it has everything to do with persevering in the face of rejection. If everyone who faced rejection threw in the towel, then my favorite nonfat pumpkin spice latte wouldn’t be available every fall, we wouldn’t have grown up knowing the joys of Green Eggs and Ham and The Boy Who Lived would have never left the cupboard under the stairs.

Basically, what it all comes down to is this: will you have the ability to continue believing in your work no matter how many doors are slammed in your face?

Here are a few lessons that may help you:

  1. Rejection is often an opportunity in disguise. It allows us to examine what we did wrong and gives us insight on how to do it better for the next time. Perhaps your query wasn’t the best pitch for your novel. Or maybe you were sending it to agents that don’t represent your genre. Whatever the reason, a next time is coming if you really believe in your work. See rejection as a challenge and a source of motivation to do better in the future.
  2. Know your worth. Don’t underestimate yourself just because someone has passed on the opportunity to represent you. Allow rejection to build your courage and raise your determination. When you know that your work is of value it’s easier to accept that you may have to crawl through the trenches in order to reach the top.
  3. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can happen?” Seriously guys, being rejected hurts but it’s not a zombie apocalypse. If an agent (or several) turns you down then absorb the blow, brush yourself off and try again. Be unrelentingly tenacious. Most importantly, have the audacity to try again and the determination to understand that rejection doesn’t mean failure.

In short, rejection is unavoidable. In writing especially. You may call it an occupational hazard, but I call it a building block.

“If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, then your goals aren’t ambitious enough.” – Chris Dixon

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Book Review: Keep from Falling by Amy Vanessa Miller

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This book is different… in the absolute BEST way possible. In a literary world filled with sparkling vampires and bleak dystopian futures, Miller’s novel Keep from Falling is refreshingly unique. The characters are relatable and you quickly find yourself loving them despite their issues (and believe me when I say that they have many). Themes of trust, sexuality and self-discovery are explored throughout the novel in a very believable way and Miller skillfully avoids stereotypes. There are no lulls in this story. The drama begins from the very first page and the twists and turns definitely keep you on your toes. Saying that I couldn’t put it down is an understatement. Miller’s biggest strength (in my opinion) is her ability to write dialogue that feels completely real.

Miller’s work is a prime example of how great books aren’t always published through traditional publishing houses anymore. You got rejected by the literary agents you queried? Doesn’t matter. If your book is good, publish it anyway.

Keep from Falling is a solid debut from self-published author Amy Vanessa Miller and I eagerly look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

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The Moving Van is Unloading…

So, here we are settling into our new blog home! I won’t lie; I hated to abandon my former site however due to reliability problems with the host’s server, here we now are.

As disgruntled I am about leaving my former blog behind, it was time for a change. In addition to the site problem (bad gateway 502, anyone?), my blog goals have (slightly) changed. Like its predecessor, this blog will still center around books though this time around it won’t only be about MY books. Yes friends, you’ve guessed it; I’ve decided to expand my blogging horizons and review books. Book bloggers gave me an amazing platform when I was in the midst of self-publishing and I believe I can return the favor. Besides, I’m always reading something. May as well blog about it.

Those who are a fan of my work, fret not. I will still alert you of upcoming novels and day-to-day writing posts.

I hope you all follow me to my new home (my blog home, not my actual home – that would be super creepy) and that you enjoy my caffeine-hinged rants along the way 🙂

Cheers,

J.D.

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