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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Review)


I've been wanting to read this book for such a long time which is one of the reasons I chose it as my first book to read in 2019. And it was the perfect book to start my new reading year!

Book Details:

Book Title: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) by Marissa Meyer
Category: YA Fiction,  400 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; First Edition edition (2012)
Release date: January 3, 2012
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl...

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

With high-stakes action and a smart, resourceful heroine, Cinder is a Cinderella retelling that is at once classic and strikingly original.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I've been wanting to read this book for such a long time which is one of the reasons I chose it as my first book to read in 2019. Although my expectations were high because there was so much hype around this book, I was eager to read it simply because I needed a good escapism fun novel. And it was perfect to escape into this very original Cinderella retelling.

I enjoyed every page. The heroine was smart, feisty, generous, but not your typical damsel in distress. I liked that she was different, doing work typically associated to men, and more concerned with others than herself. The message that outer beauty cannot rival inner beauty comes across clearly and is a message that cannot be stressed enough to our young girls today. There was actually very little description of Cinder to the point where I could not picture her, which was not the case for Prince Kai. Perhaps this was done intentionally by the author? So that the reader could envision her as they chose? And she gradually became more and more beautiful as the story progressed?

I also loved that the book is set in a futuristic Beijing, rather than the typical alternative America. I am enjoying diverse reads and was pleased with this aspect of the novel. The world-building is well done and impressive, with the whole human / cyborg interaction.

What I was not expecting was that cliffhanger ending! So needless to say, I'm now hooked on the Lunar Chronicles and MUST read the next book, and probably the next after that and so on.  They are in this order: 

The Lunar Chronicles:
Cinder
Scarlet
Cress
Winter
Stars Above
Fairest

If you're one of the few who still hasn't read this book and you like YA fiction, this series is worth getting into. Even if you're not into fairy tale retellings, this story is so original, you may enjoy it for that reason alone. So my first book of the year is on my Best Reads List for 2019. That's a good start to my reading year!

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Marissa Meyer was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, home of Almond Roca and Stadium High School, which was made famous when Heath Ledger danced down the stadium steps in 10 Things I Hate About You. Marissa didn't actually go to Stadium High School, but she did attend Pacific Lutheran University, where she earned her bachelor's degree in Creative Writing. She still lives in Tacoma, now with her husband. Cinder is her YA debut.

Connect with Marissa on her Website



Monday, January 14, 2019

Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro (Review and Giveaway!)


Finders Keepers in unlike anything I've read before, even within the sci-fi comedy genre. Check out my review and enter to win a copy.

Book Details:

Book Title: Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro
Category: Adult Fiction, 310 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Release date: October 17, 2018
Tour dates: Jan 7 to 25, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (A few f-bombs, and mild sex scenes + some casual drinking/pot smoking)

Book Description:

In the spirit of The Good Place, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, author Russ Colchamiro has gone back to the future to deliver his wildest, funniest novel yet--the updated Sci-Fi/Fantasy tale Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition.

When a jar containing the Universe's DNA falls from Eternity, bumbling backpackers Jason and Theo find their loyalties--and sanity!--put to the test. Unaware that a motley crew from another realm is chasing them across the globe to retrieve that radioactive vessel, these intrepid new friends are forced to contend with passion, responsibility, and their own mortality--and the fate of the Solar System, which hangs in the balance.

Traversing Europe, New Zealand, and the backbone of Eternity, Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition ultimately asks one simple question: Is the life you're living the life you actually want . . . or does the Universe have more to offer than you can possibly imagine?

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

As the subtitle states in the front page of the book, this is indeed "a tale of cosmic lunacy". Finders Keepers was a wild ride with parts that I enjoyed and others that left me scratching my head. But as with any highly imaginative sci-fi comedy, I let myself enjoy the weird, wacky tale.

Theo, a New Zealand dude (see, I'm even starting to talk like them) finds a jar that when touched makes him experience some out-of-this-world visions. He sets out on a quest to find out more about the origin of the psychedelic jar and meets Jason, also on a quest, but one of self-discovery. Unbeknown to them, they are being trailed by cast-offs banished from the realm of Eternity who are also after the jar.

Because this story was so unpredictable, it kept me wondering what was going to happen next. It's well-written by an author who can simultaneously describe something very well and with humorous overtones. I enjoyed trekking with Theo and Jason as they forged a friendship and travelled around the world. I'm always drawn to stories where I can see other parts of the world, even if it was limited to hostels and bars. I didn't like some of the characters from Eternity though.

Because there were many characters in this tale, it would have been helpful to have a list of them at the beginning of the book so I could keep them straight. The story also moves through different timelines, going back and forth through different times in history and realms. This was fine, although it confused me at times. And there were some subplots that, if eliminated, would not have been missed.

Overall, Finders Keepers in unlike anything I've read before, even within the sci-fi comedy genre. It was fun, yet at times cringey, adventurous with a strong beginning but lagging toward the middle. It picked up two-thirds in and had a feel-good ending.

To read reviews, please visit Russ Colchamiro's page on iRead Book Tours.

To read a guest post from the author on writing a sci-fi comedy series, please visit The WHAMO Effect: Writing a Sci-fi Comedy Series


Buy the Book:






Watch the trailer:




Meet the Author:


Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space opera, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself.

Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, and Brave New Girls. Russ is repped by The Zack Company.

Connect with Russ: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Jan 30, 2018


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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? Jan 14 Edition


Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

It's been a good week. Working, reading, exercising, spending time with my mother-in-law who has Alzheimer's and connecting with my family. :-)


Mailbox Monday Edition



Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.


Free Kindle books: 



Bought:

This topic fascinates me




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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.


What I reviewed and/or featured last week:

Accessible Fine Dining - The Art of Creating Exciting Food in Your Everyday Kitchen by Noam Kostucki, with Chef Quentin Villers (Book Spotlight, Author Interview and Giveaway!)


Marine (Halley's Casino Book 2) by Mark JG Fahey (Review and Giveaway!)
This follow-up to the first book was good!


The WHAMO Effect: Writing a Sci-fi Comedy Series (Guest Post by Russ Colchamiro)


 Currently Reading:

Easy to read. I think everyone should read this book



Stop by and enter my giveaways!

Also posted on the right sidebar.



Hope you all have a great reading week.




Thursday, January 10, 2019

Books Read in 2019

This is a list of books I've read in 2019. The ones reviewed will be linked.

*Starred titles are considered best reads.

Laura Fabiani's Reviews

Children's Book Reviews:


Middle-Grade Book Reviews




YA Book Reviews:
  1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer*

Adult Book Reviews - Fiction
  1. Marine by Mark JG Fahey
  2. Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro
  3. A Rumored Fortune

Adult Book Reviews - Nonfiction

Accessible Fine Dining - The Art of Creating Exciting Food in Your Everyday Kitchen by Noam Kostucki, with Chef Quentin Villers (Book Spotlight, Author Interview and Giveaway!)


I love cookbooks. Mainly because I love trying out new recipes, cooking foods in a variety of ways or learning how to prepare a food I have never tasted. I was thrilled when I had a chance to chat with Noam Kostucki, a very likable, enthusiastic and creative person who turned himself into a renowned chef. His new book Accessible Fine Dining is a creative cookbook without recipes but meant to inspire new and seasoned cooks to experiment creatively with food. Noam's honest account and anecdotes of his experience makes this cookbook partly a memoir/artistic read. Scroll down to read my interview with him. He is also generously offering copies of his book and a free dining experience in the giveaway!
Book Details:
Book Title: Accessible Fine Dining - The Art of Creating Exciting Food in Your Everyday Kitchen by Noam Kostucki, with Chef Quentin Villers
Category: Adult Non-fiction , 128 pages
Genre: Creative Cookbook / Fine Dining
Publisher: Amazon
Release date: Dec 10, 2018
Tour dates: Jan 7 to 31, 2019
Content Rating: G
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Book Description:

Six months after opening my first restaurant, one of my dishes was selected as "25 dishes to travel around the world", featuring me next to culinary legend Heston Blumenthal.

Exciting and healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Over the years, I have seen some of the most exciting dishes come from the simplest kitchens and the most modest ingredients. The purpose of this book is to focus our attention away from the distractions of fancy kitchen equipment and luxury produce and instead focus our attention towards ingenuity in the kitchen and culinary innovation.

For some strange reason, cooking is taught in books as a series of mechanical steps to follow and repeat with precision. I see cooking as a creative art like painting or playing music: it is the freedom of expression that is most interesting to me. When we create from an artistic perspective, we give birth to something new and potentially magical.

The purpose of this book is not to teach you specific recipes, because the ingredients you will find in your local organic food market will likely not be the same as the ones we see here. Nor is the purpose to show you how to imitate us. The purpose of this book is to guide you into thinking about your dishes in a way that elevates them to a fine dining level, from ingredients which are easily accessible to you. Naturally, you will find a few recipes, but most importantly you will find a new way to look at food.

We will share how we think about food shopping, searching for unusual ingredients, the combinations of flavors, techniques, textures, nutritional value, and of course, plating. The purpose of this book is to guide you to become a more exciting, creative and adventurous version of yourself in the kitchen. What separates a craft from an art form is the story behind it; cooking is a craft, while fine dining is an art form.

If you want to create fine dining dishes, start to focus your attention on the different stories a dish can tell. Some stories can be told through your cooking, and others are told through words. Taking the time to present your dishes before people eat is crucial to creating anticipation for the food they will eat.
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Buy the Book:





Watch the book trailer:





Interview with Naom Kostucki

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads! Can you tell us why you decided to write this book?

NK: I am a believer that it is a gift to share what we learn with others. My background is in corporate training and business coaching because I love teaching. When I started my fine dining restaurant, it was just a temporary project and it grew far beyond my expectations. I learned a lot more in the last two years than I had imagined and cooking for me has become more fun than ever before. Clients in our restaurant always ask us questions about how we started the restaurant, how we cook dishes and how we come up with new ideas. Our guests regularly tell us what we’ve created ought to have an episode of Chef’s Table or Vice, which has inspired me to want to share our stories and what we’ve learned. I’ve published a few books before so I figured a book would be a nice first step to sharing with the world what I’ve learned in two years of jumping from a regular home cook to fine dining chef.

LCR: I am always fascinated by where a person has come from to get where he/she is today. What’s your personal background?

NK: I was born in Belgium from a Polish Jewish family. I changed school five times in twelve years. At first because I was a good student but didn’t have a good social life, and then because I was a bad student with a good social life. I studied civil engineering in the UK and dropped out of university to start a training and coaching company. For the past 15 years, my main work has been corporate training, consulting, coaching and helping charities raise money. For sports, my favorite has always been judo and for arts, drawing and painting. I’ve also enjoyed acting and different sports like rock climbing, volleyball, and badminton.

I’ve traveled over 40 countries and love exploring the world. I love discovering new things about others and about myself. I’m always looking for something new. Right now, I love living in the jungle in Costa Rica. It feels like the problems we face here are very real. We deal with the elements, nature and animals. It’s a lot of fun. Also very stressful at times! Living here can definitely be a test of one’s patience, resourcefulness and spirituality.

I met Nadia in New York four years ago and she moved to Costa Rica a year ago. We now live and work together. It’s amazing. She brings a lot of happiness to my life and makes the dining experience better than it used to be. I won’t hide that it can be a tough at times to be together 24/7, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and brings us very close together. Seeing what we’re creating together everyday is an amazing feeling. Going for walks to watch the sunset or eating together a dinner cooked with love are part of the many magical moments we get to have here. I’m excited about seeing how we grow with our relationship and the business.

LCR: What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned about cooking in the past two years?

NK: The first one has to be that less is easier to make beautiful. The less of each element you have on a plate, the easier it is to plate it with elegance, refinement and balance. Making small plates means you can make a lot of different plates. Have lots of small elements means that even if your plate is fairly full, you can create lightness and harmony. Not being afraid of empty space goes with this: use the full plate as your canvas. The empty parts of the plate are used to contrast what’s on the plate.

The second less is to plan for the future. Making things in larger quantities than needed and stored for later is the best way to improve the depth of your cooking. When you make a tomato sauce, triple the quantity and the two extra portions, you can divide them into 4 bags that can be stored in the fridge or freezer. This ready made complex sauce can become part of a future dish / sauce, which will help it more depth of flavor. You can do this for a lot of leftovers and unused parts of ingredients. You can use the leafs from a cauliflower to make a pesto, or blend the stems of broccoli to make a creamy sauce. Both can be stored in the fridge or freezer for a long time without losing flavor. Seeds from papaya, squashes, and pumpkin can be roasted and stored for later use. The best think you can practice in my opinion is to create complex parts that you can store and use when you’re cooking your meals.

The third lesson is that the environment you create is at least as important as the food you serve. If the atmosphere is bad, people won’t be able to enjoy and appreciate your food. The environment has to be an extension of you. Everything has to work together, from the aesthetics of the place to the way you interact with guests, plate dishes, introduce dishes, and conceptualize your menu. The stories you share help guests focus their attention on what is most important and remember what matters. Listening to your guests is also important to learn from who they are, what they like and dislike. By creating an open and trusting atmosphere, people are more likely to be honest with you, and that helps you grow.

LCR: I love these three lessons! Now, what about three biggest mistakes to avoid? 

NK: The first one has to be that everything takes longer than you think. It’s unbelievable of things that seem like they’ll be done in 5 minutes end up taking 15. Hours can go by and it seems like nothing has moved forward. I’ve learned that I can never be prepared enough. I have learned to start as early as possible and get myself organized to do what takes the longest first. I get everything ready as early as possible. If I do finish before the guests arrive, then I rest and often take a nap. You want to get as much as possible ready before guests arrive so that you literally just have to heat things up, flash fry and plate. If it can be done before guests arrive, do it before they arrive. It’ll mean you have more time to chat with people and relax with them.

The second biggest mistake is getting the quantities wrong. Too much makes people feel bad for not finishing, too little makes people feel unsatisfied. There is both a science and an art to quantities. I know people who measure and calculate the amount of everything to make sure a dinner is the right amount based on a normal person’s daily needs. My approach is less scientific. I learned from experience. As I don’t have waiters, I collect all the plates so I know exactly who eats what and what’s left over. I also talk to clients and at first they always used to say they’re too full and can’t finish the last two - three plates. I learned to make my dishes smaller and eventually got a sense of the right amount based on what I cook. I don’t have a scientific recipe to give you except that the more plates you serve, the smaller each dish needs to be. When I have friends over, what I will often do is serve a small plate of each thing, beautifully designed and if they want more, I’ve got refills ready for them to help themselves to. That way you also get to see how much each person eats. The more you do this, the better will be your judgement of how much to serve.

The third biggest mistake is thinking that every dinner has to be your best dinner. I was so happy when I heard a Michelin star chef who won the best US restaurant of the year say “Will we serve our best dishes ever tonight? Probably not. But tonight, we will serve dishes that push ourselves and that challenges us and people who come here. And they may not all be the best dishes we’ve served but we will create something new and exciting. That’s why people come back.”. When I heard this, it confirmed the feeling I had inside: especially when you serve people multiple dishes, they don’t all have to be the best dish they’ve ever had, as long as they are coherent with your story and push you outside of your comfort zone. By allowing yourself to make mistakes, you’ll allow yourself to learn and grow. That’s what I love about not having a set menu: we get to play with our mistakes and often they end up creating some of our best dishes.

LCR: Who else has cooked with you at HiR Fine Dining?

NK: The first guest chef was Quentin Villers, a Belgian chef who received a Michelin star for the restaurant he was running with his brother in Belgium. He moved to Costa Rica a year after me and we randomly met at the embassy. A year later when I decided to start HiR Fine Dining, Quentin became my mentor and cooked as a guest chef at HiR Fine Dining. It’s been the most amazing experience being his sous chef and seeing how he creates dishes from nothing. He has definitely influenced a lot my cooking and the dishes I cook today.

The second guest chef was Magdalena de la Torre, a vegan chef from Argentina. She tried to convince me to do vegan fine dining and I wasn’t buying it. She insisted and offered to come to my place and cook for me. When I tasted her food, I was blown away. I couldn’t believe it was vegan because of how flavorful it was. Her plating was terrible and it was nothing like fine dining, but I knew that together we could create something magical. We did a few vegan dinners and they were all amazing successes. We had over 50% of non vegetarians and they all said they forgot it was vegan because of how flavorful it was. They didn’t feel it was missing a protein because every dish was complete.

The third guest chef was Rob Nessel, a vegan home cook from Canada. After Magdalena left the country, I was asked to do another vegan dinner and I was still not too confident about my skill so I invited Rob, a friend who sold out of vegan pierogies every Saturday at the local market. Combining his many years of cooking only vegan food for his family with my fine dining, we created another vegan dinner that was an awesome success. These two people convinced me that vegan fine dining can totally compete with seafood or meat fine dining.

The fourth chef to join me at HiR Fine Dining was Penny Melville-Brown, a blind baker from the UK. She reached out to me through a past client of mine and told me that she was applying for a grant to travel around the world and cook with chefs to show blind people can do anything. I loved the idea and invited her to join me at HiR Fine Dining. About six month later, she showed up and I gave her the challenge to cook a 7 course seafood menu with local ingredients she had never used before. Together, in 24h we create a 7 course dinner that we served over two nights. It was an incredible experience. Penny is a force of nature. Her work is extraordinary.

The fifth person to join me at HiR Fine Dining had basically no cooking experience. Nadia loves food and worked in luxury retail before joining me in Costa Rica. She had never really cooked before and learned everything from scratch. She quickly picked amazing skills and her ideas have helped improved the dishes we serve. She is a perfectionist and having her help means we can create more complex dishes on a consistent basis. Working together over a year has been a wonderful experience.

LCR: Thank you so much, Noam for sharing your life and work with us!

Meet the Authors:


Noam Kostucki

MY NAME IS NOAM KOSTUCKI AND I CREATE SPACES FOR MAGIC TO HAPPEN.

I was an awkward child, so I changed school 5 times. I spent most of my life trying to please others, and be the kind of person I believed everyone else wanted me to be. I wasn't happy and I struggled to get what I want. Everything changed when I started changing.

I spent the last 12 years creating the life I dream of. I've had the privilege to be homeless twice, and to speak at Harvard about entrepreneurship. I have grown to be myself more fearlessly than ever before. I am now surrounded by people I love, and who love me.

I traveled over 40 countries, and I've helped over 25,000 people create magic. For example Patryk Wezowski who raised $500,000 in 8 weeks and Esther Perel who gave the 30th most viewed TED talk. Some less public successes include a blind eyed student who experienced his blind eye for the first time and a journalist who left an abusive relationship.

As a university drop out, I was surprised when my first book (personal branding) became required reading at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, as well as receiving the UK Business Speaker of the Year runner up award, and a honorary degree in Business from Hofstra University. As an artist, I was honored to exhibit my photography at the European Union's Innovation Conference.

My most recent venture is HiR Fine Dining, a jungle culinary adventure. I create a discovery menu of 7 plates per person for groups of up to 12 people. HiR Fine Dining became #1 fine dining on TripAdvisor in Tamarindo within the first month. Within 6 months one of my plates was selected out of 40,000 restaurants by OpenTable as one of "25 dishes to travel around the world for". I was invited to speak at Chateau 1525, Costa Rica's most reputable cooking school and our guest chefs include a blind chef who traveled all the way the United Kingdom.

Quentin Villers


Quentin has been cooking in restaurant since the age of 18. He helped his brother build a restaurant for which they received a Michelin Star. Quentin moved to Costa Rica to consult for hotels and restaurants. He managed 3 of the 4 restaurants at Hotel Nayara in La Fortuna, for which he lead a team of over 20 people to be selected to enter Relais & Chateaux, a prestigious network of unique luxury hotels with exquisite cuisine. Quentin is a regular guest chef at HiR Fine Dining and consults for a number of fine dining restaurants in Costa Rica.

Connect with the Authors: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Feb 7, 2019




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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Marine (Halley's Casino Book 2) by Mark JG Fahey (Review and Giveaway!)


Another fun adventure from author Mark JG Fahey! This one left me wanting to read the next book which promises more quirky and humorous adventures.

Book Details:

Book Title: Marine (Halley's Casino Book 2) by Mark JG Fahey
Category: Adult Fiction, 378 pages
Genre: Science Fiction / Humor
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: Oct 20, 2016
Tour dates: Jan 2 to 31, 2019
Content Rating: PG (No f-words, mild violence, readable for all ages 12 and up)

Book Description:

Nebula Yorker (“Neb” to his friends) finds himself on the water planet of Marine in a race to recover a long-lost Triopelian Star Chart he previously never knew existed.

Along the way, Neb encounters new friends and a villainous brother and sister team bent on doing whatever they must to get their hands on the star chart first – including mayhem and murder.

One cocky android, one imbibed professor, one universal(ly) renowned scientist and one ice breathing sassy Water Dragon make Neb wonder whether the past 3 years travelling with Halley’s Casino was just a peaceful lull?

Who will find the star chart first? What are the implications if Neb doesn’t? And what does a Water Moon have to do with all of this?

John Lennon seems to know….

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Marine is the second book in the Halley's Casino trilogy. Last year, I read the first book Halley's Casino which was a fun adventure, a good mix of sci-fi, time-travel and comedy. Marine continues Nebula (Neb) Yorker's adventures three years later. Although there wasn't the element of time travel in this book it was still a quirky fun book to read.

Neb uncovers a plot of two villains who are trying to find the Star Chart. This leads Neb and his friends, both new and old, to the water planet Marine where citizens live in a bubble under the waters and where the legend of a water dragon stops most people from adventuring into the deep mountainous crevices of its waters. Neb must find that star chart before the duo villains do. I enjoyed the adventure because it was so unpredictable and imaginative. I never knew what was going to happen next!

The author has a quirky sense of humor, a wild imagination and an easy way of making the reader picture the world of Marine so clearly that I thought it would make a great movie. With its original plot, setting and adventure, Marine was a good sequel to Halley's Casino.

The only thing missing (besides the time travel element) was some backstory. Although I read the first book, it would have been good to include some history so that the references to past events would have been better understood. I kept racking my brain to remember certain events and how the reference connected to it. Overall, to enjoy Marine to its fullest, one would have to read Halley's Casino first.

This book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. I now look forward to the last book in this trilogy because that ending sure promised more awesome space and Earth adventures for Nebula Yorker and his friends!

To read more reviews, please visit Mark JG Fahey's page on iRead Book Tours.


Buy Marine:






Meet the Author:


Mark JG Fahey is not an alien, contrary to what you may have heard, though he swears he has been to space. Mark has dabbled in various undertakings throughout his illustrious career, from on-air hosting/reporter/stand-up comic to messenger for the Prime Minister of Canada. Mark also holds a degree in Restaurant Services. His family and friends can attest to his excellent cooking skills. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Mark was raised and still resides in Aylmer, Quebec, Canada. Halley's Casino is the first book in the Halley's Casino trilogy.

Halley's Casino: 3rd place winner in a worldwide competition with World's Best Story 2017 . Finalist and 3rd place winner with the Independent Author Network October 2018 and is also a finalist for the inaugural Canadian Book Club Awards 2018.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Feb 7, 2019


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Monday, January 7, 2019

The WHAMO Effect: Writing a Sci-fi Comedy Series (Guest Post by Russ Colchamiro)



Today, I'm kicking off the tour for Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro, the first book in a fun trilogy for those of you who like sci-fi comedy. Russ talks about how he came up with the idea for the book's story and the journey of this trilogy. 


The WHAMO Effect: Writing a Scifi Comedy Series

By Author Russ Colchamiro

My debut novel, Finders Keepers, is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips my buddy and I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA.

It’s in the spirit of The Good Place, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

When I launched Finders Keepers in 2010, it was written as a stand-alone story. I did keep it open-ended, thinking I’d revisit these characters someday…maybe… but to my eyes, it was one and done.

Talk about not having a plan! LOL

Yet about 18 months later I was writing my alternate-Universe sci-fi adventure Crossline… and WHAMO! I had that classic A-ha! moment. I suddenly had the blueprint for a Finders Keepers sequel. That novel became Genius de Milo, this time taking our backpacking heroes from the first book across America and Mexico, while caught in a battle for the Earth’s soul.

With the narrative picking up three years after Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo was going fairly well and then... another WHAMO! Like a rush, I could suddenly see the outcome of every character, completing each individual arc, in addition to the overarching story that ties the entire series together.

Talk about empowering! Whoa!

With the scope laid out, I was able to go back to the beginning of Genius de Milo (book 2) and write with more authority and confidence, delivering a novel that was exhilarating and satisfying unto itself but also planting the groundwork for Astropalooza (book 3).

In that series finale, our backpacking heroes have accidentally set in motion two energy waves barreling towards each other across the Universe. If they collide, those tsunami-level energy waves will initiate the next Big Bang, eradicating the Cosmos as we know it. 

I have to say, I was thrilled with the sequels. Yet it was bittersweet, coming to the end of a long journey.

And then a funny thing happened.

About a year ago I had that A-Ha! moment once more. I admitted to myself that while I was damn proud of the original Finders Keepers, I saw passages that needed to be cut, sections that could easily be combined, and a few character traits I wanted to approach with a bit more nuance.

I also wanted Finders Keepers to more closely match the tone, pacing, length, and style of Genius de Milo and Astropalooza, as Finders Keepers was a bit rough and raunchy in places, failing to serve the overall narrative — and some of the characters — as well as I had intended.

The new and updated version — Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition — is tighter, cleaner (think ‘PG-13’ instead of ‘R’), and nearly 15,000 words shorter than the original, without sacrificing any story or character development.

A recent Amazon review put it this way: To draw an analogy between the two editions, Hitchcock once said about his two versions of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: “Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional.” Same can be said for Colchamiro’s redux of FINDERS KEEPERS.

My first backpacking trip that inspired Finders Keepers took place in 1994. It is now January 2019. Which means I’ve been at these tales of cosmic lunacy in one form or another for nearly 25 years — almost half my life.

If you had asked me way back, when I was lugging around my rucksack, with all my gear, zig-zagging across Europe in the days when the Internet didn’t even exist, if I’d still be telling stories about it now, in a trilogy of books, I would have blown an aneurysm from laughing so hard.

Yet here I am.

And so is my trilogy: Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza.


I hope you have as much fun reading them as I had writing them. They changed my life forever. Maybe, even if it’s just with a smile, they’ll change yours too.


Meet the Author:


Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space opera, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself.

Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, and Brave New Girls. Russ is repped by The Zack Company.

Connect with Russ: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram


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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? Jan 7 Edition


Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

Well it's back to work and the regular routine this week, which I'm looking forward to. I have a very busy week ahead of me. I'm looking to make some changes in my work and blogging but will have to ease into it. Change is never easy, but there are times when I know I itch for it because it's time to make the change and the need is there too. My reading week was great and I hope yours is too this week!


Mailbox Monday Edition



Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.


For Review:



Free Kindle books: 

I was intrigued by the title 



Bought:

I saw this one on some blog and have been wanting to read it




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.


What I reviewed and/or featured last week:


First Book Of The Year 2019! Guess what book I chose to read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2018 It was hard choosing just ten...





 Currently Reading:

Just starting this one



Stop by and enter my giveaways!

Also posted on the right sidebar.



Hope you all have a great reading week.




Friday, January 4, 2019

How to Keep Yourself Entertained as a Bookworm (Guest Post)

Today I'm featuring a guest post that I can relate to both as a reader and as a writer. I've done all four of the suggestions in this article, except that I am no longer in a book club (which I miss) and thinking of restarting it. What about you? Personally, I love watching movies or theatre shows of books I've read.





Guest Post by Delicia Warren

Reading is one of those things that people all over the world love to do. For some, it helps to bring a sense of solitude which is needed in this busy world. Aside from this, reading has numerous benefits which include helping to improve literacy, expanding your vocabulary and helping you reduce stress. For this reason, it’s a good hobby to have and something you should engage in as regularly as possible. However, there are other ways that you can entertain yourself outside of your love for books. On that note, here simple ideas for keeping yourself entertained as a bookworm. 

Creative Writing
If you happen to love reading books, then you may have what it takes to be a good writer. Seeing as reading is one of the fundamentals of writing, perhaps think about creative writing during your free time. There are different types of things that you can engage in such as short stories or poetry. In order to get into creative writing, start by generating creative ideas. Here are a few ideas for doing so.
  1. Listen to conversations - Sometimes, all you need to get your creative juices flowing is to listen to what’s going on around you. Go out for a walk or sit in a cafĂ© and listen to the conversations around you. Take in the scenery and let your mind wander and write down what you think or feel.
  2. Daydream - You’d be surprised at what daydreaming can do to help you come up with creative ideas and beat writer's block. Try meditating before writing to give your mind a clear pathway to wander. 
  3. Find a photograph - Another idea to consider to help inspire creative writing would be choosing a photograph and writing about it. This may especially be helpful if there are people in the picture you can turn into characters. 
  4. Pick an emotion - To write a good story, you need to be able to use emotions. Choose any emotion and create a story about it. You can continue changing emotions from there.
Watch a show
Another way that you could entertain yourself as a bookworm is to go and watch a theater show. You may like this as this kind of entertainment is usually relatively creative and some even happen to be based on books. If, for instance, you’ve read the book White Christmas by Jody Rosen, then perhaps you seeing the theater show with the same title may be entertaining for you as you can compare notes. By looking on ticketsales.com you should be able to find at least one show you’ll like.

Spend Time in Nature
For those who love books and have a raging imagination, spending time in nature may also be entertaining. It’s an opportunity to find peace within yourself and also soak in the beautiful views around you which is good as research shows people are happier when in nature. Some specific things that you could do in nature include engage in nature photography, have a picnic, or plan a fun camping trip.

Join a Book Club
To acknowledge your love for books, the last suggestion for entertaining yourself would be to simply join a book club. By doing this, you can share your love for books with other people and also discuss your thoughts on each book you read. Alternatively, you could start your own book club by deciding the type of book club you’d like, who you want to invite and where you’ll meet. Also, figure out what books you’ll be reading and how everyone will access them.


Delicia Warren is a freelance writer, passionate about the environment, organic farming and food production. An advocate for a holistic approach to the world’s problems, she has a particular interest in the small changes individuals can make to their lifestyle to minimize their environmental footprint.




Thursday, January 3, 2019

Halley's Casino Series (Book Spotlight, Guest Post and Giveaway!)


Yesterday, iRead Book Tours kicked off the tour for MARINE, the second book in the Halley's Casino series. Last year I read Halley's Casino, which is a fun adventure that is a good mix of sci-fi, time-travel and comedy. MARINE continues the story, and I will share my review with you on the 8th. Today, I have a guest post from the author and we also have a giveaway. Check them out.

How I Got the Idea and Created the Worlds of Halley's Casino
Guest Post by Mark JG Fahey

Where does thought and inspiration lead one to create a world within worlds and characters that inhabit that idea? Hmm?

Halley's Comet has always fascinated me and one day this thought entered my mind all on its own. What if Halley's Comet wasn't really a comet at all but an intergalactic casino cloaked as a comet? OK. Now what? LOL

The lead character Nebula Yorker was a character that had been kicking around in my head for well over 20 years in different settings, and I was finally able to find a permanent home for Neb with Halley's Casino. From there I weaved in my love for science fiction. Star Trek, Rock n Roll and history, especially ancient Roman history, all fell into place. It turned out to be a very original concept like no other. 

Of course, there will always be and there are many classic sci-fi outlines, but never ever has there been the idea that Halley's Comet is not what it appears to be, an intergalactic casino rushing through time and space carrying along with it a story, fresh, new and perhaps thought-provoking sprinkled with satirical humour and wit. Even John Lennon is amused (spoilers) :-)

I invite everyone to hop aboard this far out rock n roll time travel adventure. Who knows where it might go!

About the Author:

Mark JG Fahey is not an alien, contrary to what you may have heard, though he swears he has been to space. Mark has dabbled in various undertakings throughout his illustrious career, from on-air hosting/reporter/stand-up comic to messenger for the Prime Minister of Canada. Mark also holds a degree in Restaurant Services. His family and friends can attest to his excellent cooking skills. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Mark was raised and still resides in Aylmer, Quebec, Canada. Halley's Casino is the first book in the Halley's Casino trilogy.

​Halley's Casino: 3rd place winner in a worldwide competition with World's Best Story 2017 . Finalist and 3rd place winner with the Independent Author Network October 2018 and is also a finalist for the inaugural Canadian Book Club Awards 2018.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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