Friday, October 28, 2011

A Texan's Promise, by Shelley Gray

Clayton came to the ranch when Vanessa was just a young girl.  He has watched her blossom and grow, helped her through the death of her father, and now vows to protect her from the abuse of her stepfather.  Clayton and Vanessa flee the ranch after a brutal attack by her stepfather, and head for safer territory.  On the journey, it becomes clear that in order to protest her reputation as well as her as a person, Clayton must marry Vanessa.  Can a marriage seemingly based on obligation turn out to be a marriage based on love?

I am kind of a sucker for a damsel in distress story.  They pull at my heartstrings every single time.  And it does not take long to know what Vanessa is in distress.  And Clayton, well, he is the perfect knight in shining armor.  And I love that about this story.  Clayton's character is just such a good man.  Sure, he has seen his share of horrors and evils, but he himself is just so good.  He reminds me of my husband that way. I really love that Vanessa is flawed.  She withholds truth, she is headstrong.  I think it is more believable when characters are not perfect.  I felt like the characters were so genuine, and the story was so engaging.  I often forgot the time period the story was set in, because the themes were so universal.

This is marketed as Christian fiction, and while faith does play a big part of the storyline, it is not done in an overly evangelical way.  You deal with some pretty heavy topics, abuse, suicide, adultery, alcoholism, so it is nice to have a little bit of faith sprinkled in to pull you through some of the darker issues.  All in all, I thought this was a good book, even suitable for young adults to read.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mean Streets, by Gord Rollo and Gene O'Neill

Life on the streets may not seem normal to you or I, but to those who must live this way, it is the new reality, and the new normality.  So when something, well, abnormal occurs in the gritty, sometimes seedy, ultra urban streets of the city, you know it really is unusual.  This book contains short stories of amazing, frightening, beautiful, and horrific tales of life in the shadows, life on the streets.

Modern urban fables.  That is how I saw these stories.  Several of the stories focus on a kind of transformation of the self, in the most literal sense.  And who among us has not undergone, or at least wished to, some type of major change.  So even though these stories are fantastical in nature, we as readers are still able to relate to them.  And I found the writing to be almost haunting.  The characters are vivid, we see their stories unfolding not on the page but in our hearts and minds.  We want to know these stories as intimately as possible.

Of the stories in the book, Moving Pictures is my favorite.  It details a thug who tries to hustle an Asian tattooist, who, in exchange, gives him the most beautiful and dangerous tattoo.  I love this story because its plot offers the thug a chance to transform, to be redeemed as a human.  He has a choice, you see, as we all do.  He chooses the tragic.  But he still had a choice.  I find this to be a bewitching tale.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book.  Sometimes, short stories can be tedious, but not this book.  Perfect pacing, timing, and character development in these tales, to the point that they were almost hypnotic.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, by Seth Grahame-Smith and Cliff Richards

Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters are weapons of mass destruction when it comes to taking out the undead.  The zombie scourge has taken over the lovely English countryside, and these girls will simply not stand for it.  Their father encourages them to fight the good fight, while their mother only wishes them to marry and become proper ladies.  When Eliza encounters Darcy, a formidible oponent in more ways than one, she is certain that she will not lose her head, which is less than can be said for the zombies she encounters.

I have long been an proponent of the monster mash up genre, particularly when it is done very very well.  The paperback version of this story is what started my love affair with this genre.  So, it is no surprise that I still really love the story, even in a different form.  I still find it incredibly clever, and innovative.

The part I disliked was that graphic portion of the book  I found it disappointing.  The Bennet sisters were hard to distinguish from each other in the illustrations, which made the reading a little clunky.  I think this would have most definitely benefitted from being in color as opposed to black and white.  I think a lot of the story, and it's impact, is lost in the nondescript drawings as they are.

This is a mixed bag for me.  I love the story, I just prefer it in novel form.  I created much better pictures in my own mind.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Plague Year, by

It is late summer of 2001 when Tom starts to hear about this new drug called crystal meth.  He lives in a small mining town in Pennsylvania, where meth and mining are the main things to do.  When September 11 hits, people in town have a hard time coping with the state of the world, and more and more turn to drugs as a way to cope.  The town becomes frightening as meth zombies are sighted more and more often, and crime reaches a new high.  What happens over this course of this year will change Tom's life forever.

I was so incredibly moved by this book.  First of all, it was written in a way that is real, and honest, and young readers will easily relate.  When meth gained popularity in the late 90's and early into the 2000's, these are the exact kinds of places that were hit, so I think the book is brilliantly set.  These are the stories that rarely get told, and I am happy this one was.  I am especially happy it is told from a young adult's frame of reference.

I thought that Tom's character was well developed, as well as most of the supporting characters.  However, I did have an issue with the development and realism of the drug counseling group Tom attends.  First off, the leader of the group is a Master's level therapist, yet she has never heard of pica, and then just levels a guess at what type of disorder it may be.  This would NEVER happen; any Masters program has an abnormal psych class, and every abnormal psych class covers this disorder.  And no therapist worth their merit would simply level a guess about a disorder they knew nothing about.  But I digress.  Some of the minor supporting characters seemed a little flat, but in some ways, that served a purpose.  We were never supposed to get close to them, since this was Tom's story.

All in all, I think this was a good young adult book, appropriate for high school readers.  It serves as a cautionary tale of how drugs can affect and entire town, and sadly is based in too much reality.

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wolf's Edge, by W.D. Gagliani

Nick Lupo is back, fighting crime as well as his inner demons.  His latest cases involve people being killed, but not just random people, each person or setting has something to do with the wolf, as if these murders are intended to send a message to Nick.  He finds himself spiraling into a world involving Nazis, mad scientists, and a seemingly invincible subspecies of werewolves.  What truths will be revealed as Nick tries to unravel the mysteries?

Nick Lupo never disappoints.  As with his past books, Gagliani gives us a book that is, well, raw to say the least.  In your face murders, overt sexuality, and the horrors on Nazi era Europe are delivered with a no holds barred fierceness.  Nothing is sugar coated here, and for that I am truly thankful.  Gagliani would never deliver wimpy monsters that sparkle or do an angsty emo pout.  His monsters are a wonderful blend of the supernatural and the real evil we see in the world.  And the grounding in reality is what makes his characters and stories seem so relatable.

I am excited that we learn a little more about Nick's family history.  While we already knew from earlier books in the Nick Lupo series how the werewolf curse came to rest on him, we now learn that this is not the first time his family has been under the lupine spell.  I liked that the past and present played out in turns throughout the book.  To me, it gave the story even that much more depth.  And as always, Gagliani's writing sent shivers down my spine.  A perfect read for a dark, dreary night.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

No One to Hear You Scream, by Julia Madeline

Brett thinks he has landed his dream home when he buys a foreclosed house.  He moves his wife, daughter Justine, and new grandchild into the home, hoping for a better life for them all. Each of them is damaged in some ways, and the house comes with its own set of baggage in the form of its homicidal past owner.  When the owner strikes up a relationship with Justine, her fragility makes for the perfect way for him to manipulate Brett into giving the house back.

Edge of my seat.  That is where this book had me.  There is a lot going on in this book.  You have the relationships between Brett, his wife Pamela, and Justine; Pamela dealing with the loss of her daughter as well as a huge secret; Brett dealing with a failing business; Justine having mental health issues; and Rory, the original homeowner, and his plethora of issues.  It is a lot to take in, but that is also what makes the story so captivating.

I thought both plot and characters were developed well, with nice even pacing.  My favorite character, the one I love to hate, is actually Rory.  He has a lot of depth and dimension, but you stop just short of empathy when you read about him.  He helps the story maintain its high level of reader engagement.

Have you ever had a moment where a loud noise sounds, and then, for a split second, the silence that follows is deafening, leaving your ears ringing?  That is what the end of this book was like for me.  I loved the themes at work here, the flawed nature of the characters, the emphasis on keeping secrets.  This one is well worth the read.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Also Known as Rowan Pohi, by Ralph Fletcher

The summer before they begin 10th grade, Bobby and his friends decide to see if they can create a fictional teenager, Rowan Pohi, and have him accepted into the prestigious private school in town.  They are all shocked when Rowan gets in, and Bobby secretly decides to take the experiment to the next level.  Bobby assumes Rowan's identity, and actually attend the private school, even securing a full scholarship.  But quickly, the ruse fails, and Bobby must decide who he wants to be, and what path he wants to take in life.

I have to say, I found this to be a really original story, and pretty well thought out.  While it was a bit far fetched that such a prestigious school would accept a student that close to the start of school, without an interview or official transcripts, they author does do a decent job of trying up most of those loose ends.  I liked that this story revolved around mostly male characters, something we see far too little in young adult books.  This helps the book appeal to young male readers, without being a stereotypical male book.  There is story here with real depth, and the framing helps male readers get in touch with real emotions.

There is some heavy stuff at play in the book, including alcoholism and abuse, so keep that in mind when allowing young adults to read the story, but it is handled in a way that makes the topics age appropriate.  All in all, I thought this was a good, realistic young adult book.

I received a review copy as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Guest Post: The Dark Side; Werewolves 4EVR; and the Draw of Halloween, by W.D. Gagliani

Since it is nearly Halloween, I decided to give all my readers a little treat: a guest post from one of my writer friends!  Enjoy!

The Dark Side; Werewolves 4EVR; and the Draw of Halloween

By W.D. Gagliani

I've always been drawn to dark thoughts.

Don't ask me why, I don't know the answer. It's just always been a tendency I have to wonder "what if?" but then also to look to the darker side of the spectrum. Strolling inside a bank, I might think, "How would a gang (maybe my gang) rob this place?" while picking out and counting the cameras in the corners. I see a car pull up to a convenience store after midnight and immediately think the worst. I hear about some terrible tragedy and my raised-on-thrillers brain goes into overdrive to concoct some sort of criminal or highly-placed conspiracy to explain what happened, because… well, because it's more interesting to look upon the darker side of life.

In what we call "real" life, events are random. In fiction, random is seldom convincing. Coincidence is frowned upon. Multiple coincidences are the kiss of death to a novel's credibility. "Oh, right!" we whine, exasperated by the writer's gall in trying to put one over on us. (This happens just as much in movies and TV shows as books, by the way.)

"There are no small coincidences and big coincidences!" snarled the pretentious writer Rava on a notable Seinfeld episode. "There are only coincidences!” Sure, I’m quoting that line here only because I love the episode. No matter, my point that too many coincidences – whether big or small or medium or slight – will spoil a novel or story, even though "real" life sometimes stacks the deck and deals out a whole series of them anyway, is still valid. Now, on the other hand, coincidence may be frowned upon, but random can be made to work – especially in horror. There aren't too many things more terrifying than a random occurrence that kills you or hurts you or your loved ones. You know, the escaped convict finds your front door unlocked… the bridge collapses while you are driving over it… your neighbor’s name is Dahmer and he's been sizing you up…

My dark thoughts often revolve around random occurrences. Maybe it's the plotting mechanism in my brain, trying to line up what it needs for that next story. One interesting approach is to connect a series of random occurrences until they become some sort of dangerously lunatic conspiracy… practitioners write intriguing thrillers, or rant and rave on their television pundit shows. Either way, it's fiction. At its best, it's dark fiction.

What’s the attraction of the dark side? Why do some of us prefer to walk or bask in shadows? My assumption is that it’s a hard-wired preference. Sort of similar to why David Lynch can’t make a light movie. Some of us are just wired to prefer exploring darkness…

Which leads me to that werewolf preference I’ve always had. As a kid, raised on many influences, I could have gone in any direction. My early interest in SF was eventually supplanted by horror, and as I eagerly watched the classic Universal monster movies on television in the early 70s, I realized one thing. The other monsters scared me for what they could do to me – I was generically frightened of Dracula, the mummy, the creature (as any kid would be). But later I realized the werewolf was different – he scared me for what I might do if I were the monster. He scared me for the loss of control he suffered when he wolfed out. He was the only one I empathized with, because I could imagine being him rather than merely being threatened by him. It was a double whammy – I realized that I could be just as scared of being the monster as facing it. I think the lesson took, because many (if not most) of my story protagonists have dark sides, secrets, and are often arguably as evil as their opponents… though their reasons may seem more logical to them. When the time came to write my first novel, it was a foregone conclusion that I would write about a tortured werewolf who's trying to do the right thing, but finds himself consistently stymied. Dominic "Nick" Lupo's lycanthropy could almost be a superpower, except his lack of control makes him extra dangerous. In Wolf's Trap, I enjoyed playing with duality in almost every character, starting with Lupo (the wolf) himself. The werewolf metaphor just works for me, in so many ways, that I've stuck with it. I guess the lesson is, if you're lucky enough to find a valuable vein, mine it for all it's worth.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Why wouldn't it be, given its dark aspects? But I rarely participate (except for handing out candy). I grew up in Europe until I turned eight, so I was behind by the time I figured out the trick or treating thing. I've always been shy, so dressing up in costume – rather than conferring anonymity – had me concerned about becoming the center of attention. Plus I've always been an observer, so from early on I preferred standing on the sidelines and observing others as they shed their inhibitions. A harmless bit of voyeurism, but well-suited to a writer in training. So Halloween continues to make me tingle, but not in traditional ways. I enjoy the chilly, gray weather. The smell of smoke in the dark, cloudy night. The tingle of mysterious goings-on behind closed doors. The sense that secret events and beings inhabit your peripheral vision, sliding between worlds. I prefer to observe, and leave the participation to hardier souls. I play Keith Emerson's soundtrack for Dario Argento's Inferno dozens of time – the plaintive, haunting piano part of the theme fits the chill and blowing leaves like nothing else. I prefer to keep an eye on the darkness, and my thoughts return to the dark in the month that contains Halloween. Then I find the universe agrees that it's good I prefer dark thoughts of werewolves on Halloween.

I've always been drawn to dark thoughts.

I don't know why, but it's perfect.


W.D. Gagliani is the author of Bram Stoker Award-nominated Wolf’s Trap, as well as Wolf’s Gambit, Wolf’s Bluff, Wolf’s Edge (just released by Samhain), as well as Savage Nights, Shadowplays, and Mysteries & Mayhem (with David Benton), and dozens of short stories, book reviews, articles, and interviews. His article on writing werewolf epics appears in the October 2011 issue of The Writer magazine. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), the International Thriller Writers (ITW), and the Authors Guild.
Twitter: @WDGagliani

Friday, October 21, 2011

Taste of Tenderloin, by Gene O'Neill

The streets in the Tenderloin are mean, to say the least.  And there are some interesting characters who inhabit that particular part of the city.  But each of these people has a story, and many times, there is something bringing these people together.  And sometimes, they play parts, large and small, in each other's stories.  What stories would you learn, if you only took the time to listen to the folks in the Tenderloin?

Not being terribly familiar with any cities in California, I had to look up the Tenderloin area of San Francisco to learn a bit more about it.  It does not sound like the greatest place to live, yet this book shows the dark beauty contained within the streets of the Loin.  I really loved meeting some of the people from those streets, albeit fictitious people, but it really reminded me that each city, each place in this world, has it's cast of unusual character, and they each have their own story to tell.  What we may see is the surface only; a cripple, a whore, a drug addict.  What we don't see is the heart of a hero, the passion of a musician, the hope of a dreamer.  I loved that this book made me see beyond the surface.

The stories in this book are gritty, to say the least.  Some say the Tenderloin got its name because it is the underbelly of the city.  And the reader does in fact see that in these stories.  O'Neill does not sugar coat what happens on these streets; instead, he makes the truth beautiful, in its own way.  And I personally love that one character ties all the stories together, to really make the book seem like the narrative of the neighborhood.  I would love to learn more of their stories.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seaview Terrace, by Kate Rigby

There are a lot of different people living in the apartments at Seaview Terrace, and they form interesting relationships among themselves.  Some are leaving their partners, some are mourning the loss, some are opening up a new chapter in their lives, and some are looking back on their lives with a bit of regret.  But all of them have their own stories to tell.

I am a sucker for books that tell good stories about people's lives, which I think this book does brilliantly well.  We meet many many characters, and hear stories from many different points of view.  However, the characters are so distinct and well developed, we have no trouble following the path of the storyline.  The only exception to this that I found was the same sex couple that gave all the tenants nicknames; those confused me a bit, probably because I was rushing to read the book to find out what would happen next.

I really enjoyed the stories of the people in this book.  It was like a little soap opera or mini  series playing out.  It reminded me of the tv show Knots Landing; similar instances of high drama and human interest.  Never getting overly deep into one storyline, the book instead masterfully weaves them all together.  All in all, a nice fun read.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Modelland, by Tyra Banks

In a world based solely on fashion and beauty as metrics of personal worth, Tookie de la Creme is the lowest of the low, a total Forgetta Girl.  Her sister, Myrracle, on the other hand, is sheer perfection.  As The Day of Discovery nears, when potential models fight for their shot at being discovered, Tookie plans to escape her town of Metopia.  But on The Day of Discovery, she is chosen, instead of her sister, by a Scout to go to Modelland, and enter training to become an Intoxibella.  Has some mistake been made?

Since I am a huge fan of America's Next Top Model (dirty little secret right there), I am fully aware of the ridiculous things that Tyra Banks does and says, so I was prepared, somewhat, for this book.  Basically, imagine that Tyra took every shred of model and fashion related information in her head, including every single episode of Top Model, put it in a blender, made a smoothie, drank it, and then vomited it onto blank paper.  That is pretty much what you are getting with this book.  The story is terribly slow to develop, with the action not even picking up into almost 200 pages in.  At that point, the story actually did get better.  But those first 200 pages or so are painful, and had me unsure I would finish the book.

The book is marketed as fantasy, but really, it is not that different from reality, or at least the reality in which Tyra lives.  The world literally revolves around fashion and modeling in this story.  Men are merely accessories, and women only have value if they are beautiful enough to sell products.  Way to ruin 50 years of progress toward sexual equality.

I kind of enjoyed Tookie's character, and at the very heart of it the story has a good message, but it gets buried under silly things like SMIZES and Intoxibellas.  The places and people are named unclever things based on things or people in the real world.  A place named Canne del Labra, a person named Evangalinda, a model named Bev Jo?  Come on.  I think this book is really Tyra's fantasy of her own journey into the modelling world.

Apparently, this book is the first of a trilogy, and that makes me sad.  Sad that bad books written by a celebrity will continue to get published, while brilliant books by unknown authors get ignored by publishers.

Honestly, I am surprised I read the whole thing.

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Harvest of Grace, by Cindy Woodsmall

Sylvia has experienced a deep betrayal that makes it hard to remain at home with her family, or within her small Amish community.  She decides to seek work as a farm hand to help assist a family in another Amish community that is having financial difficulties.  When her employer's son returns to the family farm, Sylvia finds his motives at odds with her own, and plenty of reasons to dislike him.  Instead, she finds herself drawn to him, and they develop a bond to which neither cares to admit.  Will Sylvia ever heal from her past hurts enough to let him in?

My frequent concern with Amish fiction is eventually, there will cease to be any new, orignial, engaging storylines.  So, I always approach Amish fiction with caution.  However, I really enjoyed this book a lot.  Unlike many of the Amish books I have read, this book focused less on the interation between the Amish and English, and more on relationships within and between different Amish communities.  We also see, in Sylvia's character, the fact that while Amish women have typical roles to play, some certainly do branch out into more traditionally male oriented tasks.

To me, this book highlights the similarities between Amish people and their English counterparts.  We are dealing with marital infidelity, substance abuse, and strained parental relationships, not to mention the overwhelming theme of forgiveness.  Because of these univeral themes and topics, I found the book really relatable, and because of that, I found myself getting pulled into the story.

This book is part of a series, and I have not read the first two books in the series.  A short recap was given at the beginning, but you do not seem to necessarily need to read them to fully appreciate this book.  All in all, a nice, enjoyable story.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dearly, Departed, by Lia Habel

Welcome to life in New Victoria.  It is 2195, and the world is not at all what people imagined.  People have settled into new places, adopted neo-Victorian ideals, and are at war with the subversive Punks.  And if that was not bad enough, it turns out the government and military have been covering up the fact that zombies exist.  Nora is on school holiday when she confronts this reality face to undead face, and now is trying to figure out how some of the zombies can be good guys, and some can be bad guys.  And more importantly, can she possibly find herself falling for a zombie?

Futuristic dystopian teenage steampunk zombies in love.  Really?  You say it out loud and it sounds ridiculous.  And yet, I completely loved this book.  Who would have thought?  This is my first foray into anything remotely steampunk, and I am intrigued to say the least.  I love the world that Habel has created in this book, a poetic blend of the future and the past, in terms of ideals and philosophies.  One of my favorite scenes in the book talks about a computer than runs on steam energy.  It seems to me that the book may have started out almost satirical, and somehow took on a life of its own as a legitimate, engaging piece of fiction.

Let's talk about the vivid language and imagery in the book.  I saw this book play in my head like a movie.  I thought it was really clever, and I loved that I was completely transported to this neo-Victorian era.  And character development?  Wow, off the charts.  I can only imagine how hard it is to make zombies sexy, what with all the putrescence and brain chomping.  Yet that is exactly what Habel does.  She breathes new life into the idea of zombies, puts a creative spin on the monster creating a hierarchy of zombiism, and somehow makes the undead antihero of the book really sexy and romantic.  Hard to imagine, and one of the numerous reasons you need to read the book for yourself.

In the realm of monsters, I always fancied myself a vamp fan, with my fandom of weres being secondary, my fandom of zombies tertiary, and my fandom of mummies nonexistent.  But this book could movie zombies up to tie for my number one favorite monster, particularly if its sequel is equally fantastic.     

So, yeah, futuristic dystopian teenage steampunk zombies in love.  It totally worked.

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Was a Seventh Grade Monster Hunter, by A.G. Kent

Hannah is not your typical seventh grader.  She was born into a family with a legacy- a family of monster hunters descended from the great Bram Stoker himself.  Her grandfather has left her with instructions and tools to help fight evil forces and protect her family, but does Hannah really have what it takes?  Surely if Hannah can deal with boys, she can deal with monsters, right?

I absolutely loved this book.  I have been a fan of horror and thriller books since I was a kid, but back then there was a real lack of these types of books that were age appropriate.  By the time Goosebumps hit the scene, I was out of that demographic, and reading adult horror.  So it makes me really happy that a good, quality, horror/thriller series is being published for older middle grades and young adult readers!

Kent does a brilliant job of resurrecting the movie monsters of old, and breathing new life into them.  I can imagine after reading this book, a lot of kids will want to watch the old Universal classic horror films, which makes me ridiculously happy.  I loved the character development and back story of Hannah's family, and am excited to see what secrets the rest of the series will share about Bram Stoker's progeny.

The story is really original, and I love that what we typically think of as monsters are actually, in this book, the good guys.  The writing weaves together thrills and humor in a way that is sure to keep readers engaged.  This book would make a great Halloween treat for your little ghost or goblin, and even perhaps an adult who is still a kid at heart (like me).

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Come the Shadows, by Wendy L. Young

Campbell Creek seems to be a quaint Southern town.  But appearances are not always accurate.  Will, local police officer, is determined to solve the mystery of a dead body found in an abandoned building, even though the case is officially closed.  Meanwhile, his wife, Laura, is determined to stop local development that finds many townspeople selling their property.  Are these two incidents related?  And more importantly, is anything as it seems?

When I first started this book, I had a bit of difficulty getting into the story.  However, once you peel back a few of the layers on this seemingly sleepy town, the story gets much more interesting.  I really liked the characters in the book, and watching the relationships, both long standing and newly developed, grow and strengthen, or in some cases wither and die.  While the book does contain a lot of different characters, there is no chance a reader will confuse any of them, because they are so well developed.

In terms of the plot, I thought the story was well developed, and there certainly were plenty of dramatic twists.  This does not feel like the typical mystery, there is a lot more going on than just a whodunnit.

All in all, this was a good book, one mystery and thriller fans will probably enjoy.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.