Friday, September 29, 2017

Book Review: Only Wrong Once

Title Only Wrong Once
Author Jenifer Ruff
Release Date September 30, 2017

A sinister experiment outside Aleppo.

Two deaths: one in LA, one in Boston, each with the same horrific symptoms.

A powerful ISIS leader chooses an American-born microbiologist from the University of Damascus and manipulates him into doing the unthinkable: weaponize a deadly virus and recruit American citizens to disperse the disease.

In Charlotte, a lonely banker desperate for a more meaningful life receives increasingly urgent requests of Come Visit from his cousin in Syria. After losing his job and traveling overseas, will he become a willing participant in the inevitable terrorist plot?

In Los Angeles, FBI counterterrorism agent Quinn Traynor and his team receive a call from CDC agent, Madeline Hamilton. She’s discovered the first victim of a lethal, unfamiliar virus. Their joint investigation uncovers evidence of the imminent bio-terror attack and their only hope is to identify the terrorists carrying the disease. With just two days remaining before it’s too late, the FBI and the CDC race to prevent a pandemic. The ensuing nightmare will hit closer to home than they ever anticipated and one of them will pay an unimaginable price for protecting the country.

From secret jihadist bunkers in Syria to the city streets of Los Angeles, Boston, and Charlotte, Only Wrong Once is a chilling, internationally relevant suspense novel that will leave you reeling from the too-real prospect of a global terrorism nightmare.

Upon reading the blurb for Only Wrong Once, I was reminded of a book that I read last year called Phage. While the story is different in many ways, there's the common thread of bio-terrorism.

Only Wrong Once feels relevant in today's society. Jenifer Ruff expertly weaves a tale of religious men corrupted by hate with the personal tales of  the story's characters.

It took a few chapters for the story to find its momentum, in my opinion, but when it did it certainly took off. The desire to know what happens next kept me glued to this book. From beginning to end, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Just like Phage, I definitely recommend Only Wrong Once if you're looking for a realistic thriller.


* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday Quotables (#5)

Thursday Quotables is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week. Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, you’re invited to join in! This weekly feature is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Dark Matter
Blake Crouch
“No one tells you it’s all about to change, to be taken away. There’s no proximity alert, no indication that you’re standing on the precipice. And maybe that’s what makes tragedy so tragic. Not just what happens, but how it happens: a sucker punch that comes at you out of nowhere, when you’re least expecting it. No time to flinch or brace.”
What were your favorite lines this week? Share your Thursday Quotables in the comments below and I'll be sure to stop by!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: Swan Song

Title Swan Song
Author Charlotte Wilson
Release Date September 12, 2017


When iconic ballerina Beatrice Duvall died, a nation mourned – and a legacy was born. Sixteen years later, her daughter Ava comes to London to take part in a high-profile tribute to Beatrice, and to learn about the mother she never knew.

There’s just one snag: the tribute is a ballet, Swan Lake. Which is infinitely painful for Ava, because she can’t dance. Won’t dance. Not since she quit the Royal Ballet School last year and walked away from everything that defined her.

But this is London, colourful and crazy, and with actor Seb at her side, there’s so much to discover. Like Theatreland razzmatazz and rooftop picnics and flamingo parties. And a whole load of truths Ava never knew about her mother – and herself.

When the time comes to take the stage, will Ava step out of the shadow cast by her mother’s pedestal? And who will be waiting for her there, in the bright lights?

A coming-of-age novel about family and first love, in the city of hopes and dreams.

Swan Song was a lovely novel. I definitely recommend it if you're a fan of coming-of-age books.

Both the story and the characters were great. I really appreciated that the main focus of the book was on Ava and her grieving the mother she never got the chance to know. The romance, though, was sweet and adorable. I'd love more of Ava's story if it ever came about.

Reading Swan Song reminded me of how much I enjoy Charlotte's writing and that I should really pick up and finisher her Ceruleans series.


* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (#30)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title The 57 Bus
Author Dashka Slater
Release Date October 17, 2017

One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.

If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.

* What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share your links in the comments below and I'll be sure to drop by! *

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Book Review: The Border

Title The Border
Author Steve Schafer
Release Date September 5, 2017

One moment changed their lives forever.

A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them.

Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...

What drives someone to flee their country? What drives someone to leave everything they've ever known? What drives someone to risk their lives to get to a country that may ultimately turn its back on them? Unlike anything else I've ever read, The Border gives us a fictional look at what drove four teens to make the decision to cross.

In the author's note at the end, he says "This political discourse often loses sight of the individuals at the heart of the issue. [...] They leave desperate situations to find an opportunity for a better life. And they risk everything along the way." That couldn't be more true for our main characters in the novel. I think Schafer does a fantastic job at providing a candid look at a heavy situation that most never to get to see.

The best way that I can think of to describe The Border is heartbreaking, but with hope of better. It's an emotional read that feels pretty on point in terms of realism. I highly recommend it.


* This book was received from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: Behind the Song

Title Behind the Song
Author Various; K. M. Walton, editor
Release Date September 1, 2017
Publisher Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492638810

Music takes a moment and makes it a memory. It’s a universal language that can capture love, heartbreak, loss, soul-searching, and wings spreading—all in the span of a few notes. In Behind the Song, fourteen acclaimed young adult authors and musicians share short stories and personal essays inspired by the songs, the albums, and the musicians who move them.

So turn up the volume and cue up the playlist. This is an anthology you’ll want to experience on repeat.

I got the chance to ask a couple of the authors a question for this spotlight! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my question.

Which song (or artist) inspires you to write? Which song perfectly fits one of your books?

Beth Kephart
I wrote by Berlin Wall novel (Going Over) with David Bowie’s “Heroes” banging in my ear; of course I would. He lived where my character lived; he wrote that song for Berlin. I wrote my monster storm story (This Is the Story of You) with Bruce Springsteen’s “Jack of All Trades” near, because I was writing about a storm-ravaged community in need of his kind of care. Right now, with the world so fragile, so hard, I listen to Sia’s “Never Give Up,” because her voice breaks like our hearts breaks and we will not, I swear it, give up.

Tiffany Schmidt
My next novel, Bookish Boyfriends, tells the story of a modern fifteen-year-old who wishes for a romance as swoony as those she’s read in classic novels. Well, her wish comes true and Merri gets firsthand experience with boys that are like both Romeo and Darcy. Well, any novel with Romeo and Juliet influences needs the Dire Straits song with that same title on their playlist. My playlist had multiple versions, but this one by Matt Nathanson is a particular favorite. It nails the wistful, angsty, emotionality of Romeo.

K. M. Walton
In BEHIND THE SONG each contributor chose one of their favorite songs and used it as inspiration to write a short story or personal essay. This idea of mine, born in my car jamming to Radiohead, has turned out better than I ever dreamed. My list of contributors blows my mind. What an honor and a thrill it was to work with that level of talent.

My short story contribution was inspired by Marcy Playground’s “All the Lights Went Out”, a song that refuses to not be amazing. The slow start, the raucous strum of electric guitar that builds to one of the most satisfying crescendos of all time. It’s a timeless jam. After reading the lyrics a few times, ideas swirled in my head. Ultimately, I decided to write the story of friends, Scarlett and Billy. One has always had secret feelings for the other. I titled it Doomed? which is a nod to a line from the song. I’ve been told the ending packs an emotional punch. You’ll have to read it to see why!

Buy Links

Author Bios & Links

If Beth Kephart could be a song, she would be a song. Not an instrument, not a singer, but the song itself. Instead she is a writer of books, some might say too many books. Memoirs and young-adult novels and middle-grade novels and corporate fables and a book about teaching memoir writing, even an autobiography of a river. She’s still trying to get the writing thing right. Meanwhile, she’s having a lot of fun teaching what she finally does know at the University of Pennsylvania and at Juncture Workshops:
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family book 1). She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles.
Website | Twitter | Facebook

K.M. Walton is the author of Cracked, Empty, and Ultimatum. She’s editing and contributing to her music-focused YA anthology, Behind the Song. K.M. co-authored Teaching Numeracy: 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking for mathematics teachers K - 8. She graduated from West Chester University with a degree in elementary education and spent most her teaching career in middle school teaching language arts. Mean people baffle her – she’s so passionate about acceptance that she gives school presentations—middle school through university level—titled: "The Power of Human Kindness.” K.M. lives in PA with Team Walton, which includes her husband, two sons, and cat. Visit her at
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Open to US & Canada Residents Only

Do you enjoy reading while listening to music or is silence more your style? Do you have a favorite playlist for when you read? Tell me about it in the comments down below!