Monday, September 28, 2015

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (Gold Seer trilogy book 1)

January 1849

Leah Westfall is fifteen years old and has the ability to divine gold from the Earth like others can dowse or witch for water. Since the Georgia gold rush has dried up, Leah has only found some dust in the creek beds after floods. While tracking a deer she shot, Leah finds a significant gold nugget, her first in more than a year. When she shows her father Reuben, nicknamed “Lucky” by the townsfolk because Leah’s ability is a closely guarded secret, the nugget, he wants to know where she found it. They both realize that she tracked the deer to their neighbor’s land, the McCauley’s. Even though they need it, the McCauleys’ are worse off than they are and it rightfully belongs to them. With her father ill, he hasn’t been able to take what gold dust they have hidden to the mint in Charlotte to exchange. They don’t want to draw suspicion in the town of Dahlongea. Her father tells her that he will take the nugget back to the McCauleys.

At school the next morning, Jefferson McCauley shows her a newspaper clipping from a month earlier where President Polk announced to Congress that gold had been discovered in California. Leah notices that he has the same look in his eyes that must be in hers. She thinks that life might be better if her family started over and her abilities could go unnoticed. Jefferson is ready to go but the money for the supplies to cross the country is exorbitant. He tells Leah that he only comes to school to see her and he knows that she works his family’s claim just like he works his for his drunken father. He asks her to go west with him as either his wife or they could pose as siblings. It could be their one chance but Leah shakes her head. Unlike Jefferson whose Indian mother left his father and went to the Oklahoma territory, she loves her family. Even if her father wants to go, her mother would talk him out of it because of his illness. After spending the day in a daze, pondering her future, Leah heads home and decides to talk things through with her parents.

On the ride home, Leah hears two gunshots in the distance. At home, she discovers her father shot dead on the porch. He has a small caliber bullet hole like from a Colt between his eyes. Remembering hearing two shots, she beings to look for her mother. Finding her nowhere, she uses her sense to locate her mother’s gold locket. Leah finds her shot behind the barn. She is barely alive. She whispers that they were wrong to be alone. Leah needs to trust someone. Her mother tells Leah to run just before she dies. She hears something in the woods and knows that she must go to the McCauleys’. She grabs her mother’s locket and heads to the house, grabbing the pistol. Jefferson comes back with her to make sure it is safe. Now that the rush of panic has died down, Leah realizes that her family’s stash of gold is no longer calling out to her. Inside the house, Jefferson helps her right the table and chairs and Leah confesses that their stash of gold that is missing. He is hurt that she didn’t believe she could trust him. Then Leah hands him the nugget she found on his place the night before. He pockets it. Jefferson wants her to find a safe place in town to stay but she refuses to leave her home.

Before her parents’ funeral service begins, Jefferson comes back to see her. He asks her to sell the home place and go west to the goldfields with him. He sold the nugget and bought his way onto a wagon train. Leah comes up with several excuses; the funeral, cleaning up and settling the estate. Jefferson says that he will wait for her in Independence, Missouri. As he leaves, he comments that he has been waiting his whole life for her to come around but he cannot wait forever. After the funeral in which the Reverend preaches a sermon on how “the love of gold is the root of all evil”, Mr. McCauley is the first to speak to Leah. He wants to know if she has seen Jefferson. She sees the advertisement in his hand that everyone was talking about during the funeral. It states that the Pacific Mail Steamship Company will take passengers to California for $200. in the spring. Remembering the bruises on Jefferson’s face, Leah lies to him, saying that if he left now he could possibly catch up with him in Savannah. Her father’s friend, Free Jim, informs her that her Uncle Hiram has settled the family’s debts with him. Hiram, her father’s brother and a lawyer who lives in the capital, walks forward in his fancy clothes. Leah notices that he has a shiny new Colt pistol on his hip. What really sets off the alarms in her head is the fact that she can sense traces of gold dust on him. Thinking back to how she found her father and her mother’s words, Leah suspects that Hiram killed her parents.

After everyone leaves, Leah is left alone with Hiram. He treats her as if he is the man of house, wanting her to pull off his boots and cook his meals. The situation darkens when he informs her that he is her guardian now and that her father’s will left everything to him. Hiram is moving into the house. Leah knows that he cheated his own brother. He has big plans for her, including sending her to finishing school and making a proper lady out of her. When Hiram tells Leah that her father has told him about her abilities, she realizes that he killed his own brother to get to her. Heading out to the barn seeking comfort from her horse, Leah formulates a plan to meet up with Jefferson in Independence. She knows that she will have to disguise herself as a boy and wait for the right time.

How does Leah escape Hiram and Dahlongea? What obstacles does she encounter along the way? Who does she meet up within Independence? What happens when Jefferson discovers Leah’s ability? Is Jefferson really in love with her or just after her abilities? Will Hiram be able to catch up with Leah? Did he kill his brother?

A mix of fantasy and historical fiction, Dahlongea, Georgia is the sight of the first major gold rush in the United States, Walk on Earth a Stranger, is the first book in a trilogy.

Visit Rae Carson’s website

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

“Go big or go home.”
“If you got it, flaunt it.”

Willowdean Dickson is a self-proclaimed fat girl. She describes herself as not being so fat that she has to wear elastic waisted pants because they don’t make pants with buttons in her size, like Millie Michalchuk. Willowdean looks at Millie and always thinks that things could be worse in considering her size. Nevertheless, Willowdean is the complete opposite of her skinny, blond and tall best friend, Ellen Dryver. The two bonded over their love of Dolly Parton songs the summer before first grade. Ellen’s mother was friends with Willowdean’s Aunt Lucy before she died six months earlier. Weighing almost 500 pounds, Lucy rarely left the house. She died of a massive heart attack while watching tv by herself. She was only in her mid thirties. Willowdean’s hometown, Clover City, is home to the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant, the oldest pageant in Texas. The pageant is also her mother’s greatest accomplishment. She has nicknamed her daughter, Dumplin’. As head of the planning committee and hostess, each year she wears the dress that she wore the night she won the crown. Willowdean is self conscious about her body but for the most part, she is comfortable in her own skin.

Ellen isn’t happy that she and Will don’t work together. Ellen works at Sweet 16, a clothing store where Will is too large to wear the clothes that they sell. Instead, she works at Harpy’s Burgers & Dogs with Bo Larson. Bo attends a private Catholic school and Will has had a crush on him from the moment she laid eyes on him. Just as Will has finished her sophomore year of high school, Bo begins to pay attention to her. The two end up watching a meteor shower after work one night. Will begins to notice that Bo seems to be paying closer attention to her. The next night after a busy shift, Will & Bo carry out the trash. Bo throws the bags in the dumpster, turns around and kisses Will by surprise. Turns out it’s her first kiss and she responds but isn’t sure what to do. Bo doesn’t stop her when she goes back inside.

Dashing to her car when her shift ends, Willowdean thinks she is safe when a horn honks at the stop light. Seeing nothing behind her, she turns and sees Bo in his truck beside of her. She rolls down her window and Bo asks her to follow him. Knowing that it is a bad idea, Willowdean complies. They park at the condemned elementary school  that caught fire several years ago and get out. Bo tries to explain why he kissed her. He just couldn't stop himself. Furthermore, he remarks that Will kissed him back. Commenting that it was just an okay kiss, Will asks him why he did it. Before he can answer, it begins to rain and the two climb into Bo’s truck. Bo wants her opinion on how good his kiss was. Will says that maybe the second one would be better. Bo asks if she is sure but she beats him to the punch and instigates the kiss. Bo moves his hands to Willowdean’s waist and she suddenly becomes self conscious of her body. They break apart. Bo apologizes but Will doesn’t want to be that girl who worries over her body image. She is embarrassed but isn’t quite sure why. Her world is further rocked when Bo tells her that he has too much going on in his life at the moment and shouldn't be dating. She makes an excuse about it being late and runs through the rain to her car but not before Bo tells her that he’ll see her at work. Willowdean doesn’t share any of the details about Bo with anyone, including Ellen. Knowing that Ellen would believe her, Will isn't so sure herself what happen. She promises herself not to kiss Bo Larson again. She breaks that promise the next time they work together.

Two months later, Willowdean and Bo are still kissing. She is still embarrassed about Bo touching her body and she tries not to get into any situation where that will happen. Before school begins, Willowdean and Ellen go to the mall to pick up Ellen’s paycheck. While in the back trying on clothes, Willowdean overhears Ellen’s coworkers talk about her size and how nice it is that Ellen is her friend. Angry, Willowdean storms out of the store and sits on a bench. She is startled when Bo sits down with her. Soon, Ellen comes out and sees them together, but so does Bo’s stepmother and little brother. His stepmother comments on how pretty Ellen is and Bo tries to make her see what kind of person Willowdean is. The bottom comes out of her world when Bo’s stepmother comments that both of the boys will be attending Clover City High School in the fall. At Harpy’s, Willow does her best to ignore Bo. She is fortunate that she doesn’t see him very often during the school day. That reality is shattered when Bo is transferred to her fifth period class. Unable to deal with what she sees as his betrayal, embarrassment over her and the feelings of inadequacy over her body that he causes her, Willowdean takes a new job.

Soon, everything about Willowdean’s life is turned upside down. Her mother starts to clean out Lucy’s room so that she has more space for the ever consuming pageant and Willowdean isn’t happy. She lashes out that her mother is trying to forget her sister. She feels like Ellen is pulling away from her in favor of her coworkers. She also begins to doubt her body image and feels embarrassed by Bo and another boy’s attention to her.It isn’t long before Wilowdean does the one things she never thought she would do, she enters the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant as do Millie and two other larger girls.

What happens when Willowdean enters the pageant? Can she and her mother overcome their grief over Lucy’s death and attempt a relationship with one another? What does Willowdean discover about herself and her aunt Lucy as she goes through some of her stuff? Will Willowdean forgive what she sees as Bo’s betrayal and give him a second chance? Is Ellen pulling away from Willowdean or can the two repair their friendship? Dows Willowdean find it in herself to accept her body once again? How does she and her friends do in the pageant?

Visit Julie Murphy’s website.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fire Walker by Josephine Angelini (Worldwalker trilogy book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the trilogy, Trial by Fire, Stop! I don’t want to ruin Lily’s story for you.

“Two versions of the same world. Two versions of the same girl. Love took them home. Now evil wants them back.”

After being missing for three months, Lily's mother Samantha knew exactly where to find her and Rowan on a snow covered road two towns away from Salem. Her sister Juliet is horrified to see how badly Lily is burned. Juliet seems to be the only one who doesn't know what is going on. When Samantha takes charge, it's the first time in years that Juliet had seen her mother look and act sane. Back at the Proctor house, Rowan has Juliet help him save Lily’s life. Juliet is mystified that her mother seems to know and trust Rowan. Watching him use his magic, she is impressed at the lengths at which he goes to safe her sister’s life. While she is being treated, Lily floats on the edge of reality. With her guard down, Lillian is able to reach her through mindspeak and attempts to plead her case. Everything she has done, she did for Rowan. If she can find a way to rectify the mistake of the Woven, everything will have been worth it. Lillian shares some of her memories with Lily on the promise that she doesn’t tell Rowan. Lily agrees.

When she is sufficiently healed, Lily wakes up and finds that she has been back in her world for over a week. A lot has happened while she was gone, including the FBI becoming involved in what they saw as a missing person case. Everyone, including her father and Tristan were questioned. Her mother came up with a cover story stating that she had forgotten her daughter had gone for radical subcutaneous exposure therapy for her life threatening allergies. It would also explain her appearance except Agent Simms from the FBI isn’t buying Lily’s story. Forced to go back to school, Lily finally comes face to face with Tristan. Having already met Rowan at her house when he tried to come see her, Rowan warns her that Tristan is just like the Tristan from his world. He will be drawn to her because of her magic and willstones. And he is in love with her. Lily begins to block Lillian’s attempts at mindspeak. She still believes that Lillian’s actions are evil and in no way are for Rowan’s benefit.

At school, Lily meets with Tristan before the day begins. He is furious that she has been avoiding him but wraps her in a tight hug. She promises to work for his forgiveness. Breakfast walks by and joins the conversation. The three of them, along with Breakfast’s girlfriend Una, hang out a lunch, amidst all of the stares Lily continues to receive. She has already survived the inquisition the superintendent, principal and school nurse put her through before she could go to class. Tristan asks her who Rowan is and her answer is her holistic life coach. The three of them are interested to meet him but Lily puts them off. She is unable to keep them from meeting when they show up on a Saturday morning with bagels. Rowan and Breakfast hit it off immediately, which annoys Tristan. Lily tells them that Rowan is Native American and Una is interested in his abilities. He comments that she has the same talent that both he and Tristan have. Tristan explodes, saying they are nothing alike. Rowan thought that he wanted to become a doctor. Tristan tells them that his dream died when he was thought to be involved in Lily’s disappearance. He now has a police record and Lily is devastated. Rowan begins dropping hints about the group’s abilities but Lily eventually gets him to stop. The five spend the day together.

Lily converses in mindspeak with Rowan and slips up by saying something she shouldn’t know. She is saved from further questioning when Samantha comes down the stairs. Rowan offers to make everyone dinner. Lily and Juliet each offer to take their mother for a walk to keep her away from their friends. Breakfast suggests they all go after dinner and has Samantha sit next to him. Lily is grateful to Breakfast but he tells her that he has an uncle like her mom. Rowan picks up on the fact that spirit walking runs in his family. The group goes out for a walk. Rowan mindspeaks with Lily and tells her that Tristan loves her but not to push him away. He suddenly stops and pulls Lily behind him. He tells everyone to go home. Lily sees Carrick (Lillian has sent him after Lily to bring her back to their world) and she gives Rowan what energy she has to chase him down. Everyone sees what is happening including her willstones flaring to life. Tristan wants to know where Lily has really been for the past three months.

When Rowan returns after losing Carrick, he and Lily explain to Tristan, Breakfast and Una what is really going on. Rowan knows that Carrick is there for Lily and she will need a coven in her world to help her fight. Her three friends have the ability to become her mechanics and they readily agree. Rowan already has grown willstones for them to bond with and will train everyone to the best of their abilities. The three each bond with a stone and are claimed by Lily.

Will Lillian be able to lure Lily back to her world? Why does she need Lily? What happened when she met with the shaman and began spiritwalking? Can Lily and Rowan be safe in her world? What role will Samantha play in all of this? What happened to Lillian’s Samantha? Will Agent Simms continue to hound Lily about her disappearance? What happens when Tristan finds out about his other self from Rowan’s world? Will Rowan discover Lily’s “betrayal” over mindspeaking with Lillian? Does Lily see why Lillian has done off of the “evil” things that she has done? Can the two of them make a life in Lily’s world or will they be driven apart?

The Worldwalker trilogy will conclude in the fall of 2016 with Traitor’s Pyre.

Burning Nation by Trent Reedy (Divided We Fall trilogy book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first book in the series, Divided We Fall, Stop! I don't want to ruin the story for you.

"In the Second American Civil War, Danny Wright follows three rules:


After a long standoff, the Federal Government has invaded Idaho - shutting down the state's electricity, suspending all their rights. Danny is Number 1 on the Feds' Most Wanted list, so he has no choice but to go into hiding, and no chance without the help of his friends.


Then Idaho declares its independence from the United States, rising to become a free republic. Newly energized, Danny and his crew launch a series of daring attacks designed to break the Feds' occupation and drive them out for good.


As more states secede from the US, Idaho gains allies and strenght. But a deep betrayal and stunning sacrifice show Danny that freedom is never truly free - and there comes a point at which everyone must count the costs." - front flap.

In this wrenching sequel to DIVIDED WE FALL, Danny and friends fight to defend Idaho against a Federal takeover and the ravages of a BURNING NATION.

At the end of DIVIDED WE FALL, Danny Wright's beloved Idaho had been invaded by the federal government, their electricity shut off, their rights suspended. Danny goes into hiding with his friends in order to remain free. But after the state declares itself a Republic, Idaho rises to fight in a second American Civil War, and Danny is right in the center of the action, running guerrilla missions with his fellow soldiers to break the Federal occupation. Yet what at first seems like a straightforward battle against governmental repression quickly grows more complicated, as more states secede, more people die, and Danny discovers the true nature of some of his new allies. - taken from

Danny's story will conclude in 2016 with The Last Full Measure.

Visit Trent Reedy's website.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Aidan and Clare have twelve hours left together, if they don't sleep. Both are heading off to separate colleges in the morning; him to UCLA and her to Dartmouth. Aidan thinks the two of them can weather being separated whereas Clare thinks the two of them should just go ahead and break up now. She has a plan for the night, a nostalgic trip through the town where most of the places hold some significance to her two year relationship with Aidan. When her first stop doesn't go as she planned, Clare sees it as the sign her head is looking for. Her heart, not so much, when she sees how romantic Aidan can be.

At the end of the night, will Clare break up with Aidan before heading off to college or Aidan be able to convince her to try and make a long distance relationship work?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass book 4)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first three books in the series, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight Heir of Fire, Stop! I don’t want to ruin my absolute, all-time favorite series for you.

Please visit the Recaptains blog if you need a refresher on the first three books in the series.

My favorite assassin is back in Rifthold and she isn’t leaving until the two men she holds responsible for everything in her life are dead. What she isn’t expecting are the situations Chaol, Dorian and Aedion are now in. Without giving too much away from that incredible last line in Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows picks up the action from the beginning and will take the reader on an emotional ride.

Don’t worry, book five in the Throne of Glass series is expected to be published in 2016.

Visit Sarah J. Maas’ website.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

“Revenge is worth its weight in gold.”

June 6, 1877

Kate Thompson is left with a heart full of vengeance after a group of men kill her father. Two days after her eighteenth birthday, she hears hooping and hollering while she is down by the creek. She arrives back home to find her father hanging from the mesquite tree that her mother is buried under. She sees a group of men fleeing on horseback and the house on fire. Kate is able to get one shot off and a man falls. After burying her father next to her mother, she is surprised to find the man she shot is gone. He isn’t dead but she is able to follow his blood trail into Prescott and finds him sitting in a saloon. She has disguised herself as a man so as not to draw as much notice. Kate follows him to the outhouse where she finds him checking on his wound. She is able to catch him off guard. He laughs at her when he realizes that she doesn’t know about the secrets her father kept. She wants to know how they found him and he reveals that the clerk at Goldwaters’ was very informative. He informs her that she will never catch up to the others. Kate shoots him in the skull before heading to Goldwaters’

At Goldwaters’, it doesn't take Morris the clerk long to recognize Kate. Her father was trying to play matchmaker between the two of them, much to Kate’s chagrin. She inquires if anyone has come in asking about her father. He describes the group of men she saw leaving and asks her if everything is alright. She knows there is no one in a position of authority to help her. Kate loads up on some supplies and leaves before she can shoot Morris for inadvertently revealing her father. Back at home, Kate begins shifting through the remains of their cabin. She notices that her father’s journal is missing from its place by the bed. She assumes that it was destroyed in the fire. Kate does find the remaining bits of gold dust that her father had from his prospecting days. She is dismayed to find a note that her father had left for her. It reads that if anything were to happen to him, Kate is to go see his friend Abe in Wickenberg. She spends the night in the barn before going to find Abe. He may know what secrets her father was keeping from her.

Stopping at a saloon in Walnut Grove, Kate decides to try and find out some information about Abe before arriving in the bustling mining town of Wickenberg. Coy at first, an overweight barmaid/prostitute tells her where she can find him. Kate also asks the bartender if any of her friends came through. Describing the man and stating that he was riding with a group, the bartender pulls a gun on her. He asks her to leave, saying that her kind aren’t welcome. Not really understanding, Kate asks what her kind might be. The Rose Riders, he answers. Kate backs out and mounts her horse. Even with a gun trained on her back, she is thrilled to have discovered some new information on her father’s killers. Making camp for the night, Kate thinks that the Riders might be Waylon Rose’s gang. They were notorious for robbing stagecoaches in New Mexico and came west to Arizona when the gold rush began. Kate falls asleep wondering what brought Rose out of his normal territory to look for her father.

Kate is awoken the next morning by a wild hog but soon hears voices. The men from the saloon are looking to collect the bounty on the Riders since Kate stated that she was a friend. One man goes to stand guard over their horses while the other unties one of Kate’s. He shoves it away before she is able to stop him. Kate pulls her gun on him and tells him to stop. The man says that he cannot let her go and slaughter Abe’s family. With no choice, Kate shoots the man before he can kill her. She scares off the remaining man before packing her horse to leave. Down a horse, she has to leave most of her stuff behind. Kate hopes that Abe will be the effort.

Arriving at Abe’s the next morning after riding all day and night, Kate is surprised by the size of his place and wonders if he runs a ranch now instead of working in the mines. Two boys close to her age are standing outside. After talking it over, the older one comes over and directs Kate to Wickenberg. She lets him know that she is actually looking for Abe. He tells her that her got kicked in the head by a horse two years earlier and died the same day. Kate is desperate until she sees the look of grief flash over the boy’s face and offers her condolences. The boy introduces himself as Jesse Colton, Abe’s son and asks Kate for hers. She blurts out the first thing that comes to her mind, Nate Thompson. Jesse asks what her father’s name was and gets excited to find out that it was Henry. He calls his younger brother Will over and the three of them head towards the farmhouse.Turns out that Abe had something of Henry’s that he was keeping in case his child ever showed up on their doorstep.

In the farmhouse, Nate meets the boys’ sister, Sarah. After breakfast, Jesse gives Nate the letter from her father. In it, he details for Kate how he and her mother came across a dead man with a cache of gold and a leather journal detailing where the mine could be found. Kate realizes that her father’s journal wasn’t burned, but stolen. He details how he changed his name, became friends with Abe and eventually moved to Prescott. Her father writes that not even Abe knows the whole truth. In order for her to be safe, he asks her to stay with Abe. Folding up the letter, Kate hears Sarah and Jesse arguing over Nate. She decides to leave and find her father’s killers before they can find the gold.

Jesse and Will catch up to Kate/Nate as she is leaving Wickenberg. The two boys are on their way to pick up some cattle in Tucson. The three of them traveling together will be safer than splitting up. Kate/Nate reluctantly agrees if the boys will quit constantly talking. She is heading to Phoenix and will spilt from them there. Along the way, the three of them come across a burned out carriage. The driver has been shot, the passengers burned and any money is gone. The dead driver carries the same mark that the Riders left on Kate’s father. She wants to at least burn the man’s body rather than leave it for the vultures. She is touched when Jesse helps her.

As the three travel along, Jesse tries to talk Nate out of his need for vengeance but his advice falls on deaf ears. Kate also knows that it won’t be too long before the Colton brothers figure out that Nate is a girl. After Jesse goes to sleep one night, Will fills Kate/Nate in on why Jesse is the type of person that he is. He has been responsible for the family for a long time and has experienced loss too many times. The next morning, Kate/Nate apologizes to Jesse and attempts to make amends. The three head out looking for a river to water their horses. They first notice the low water level and then Jesse sees that they are not alone. He spies two men through his binoculars and passes them off to Nate. She sees two men along the ridge above and the two of them know something isn’t right. It looks like an ambush. Kate/Nate looks through the binoculars again and notices the symbols carved on the horses’ saddles. It’s the Rose Riders and they are aiming for them.

What happens when Jesse and Will discover that Nate Thompson is actually Kate Thompson? Will she reveal the truth about why her father was killed? Will she uncover her father's secrets? Can she find the Rose Riders and exact her revenge or will Kate learn that vengeance is a road best left untraveled? And will love find it’s way into Kate’s heart?