The 6th Extinction by James Rollins

6th extinctionPublished by William Morrow, August 2014 ***

This was not my favorite Sigma Force novel and I hate to admit it, but it was a bit too science-y for me. There was plenty of DNA tampering, genetic-speak, and biology lessons that were somewhat over my head. I’m sure the veterinarian Rollins enjoyed writing the biological aspects of the story, and he definitely used this novel as a playground to invent new and terrifying species. From a lost ecological system beneath Antarctica to a mad scientist’s monstrous creations, Rollins inventions were somewhat unbelievable. Yes, I can understand how modern science can alter genetic sequences, synthesize viruses, and tinker with life on a microscopic scale. But this attempt at science fiction was really a stretch for the imagination. The most interesting aspect was the hidden jungle world in a remote area of South America where new and previously extinct species thrive. But the overall story didn’t captivate me as much as other Sigma Force books have.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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Prisoner of the Queen by E. Knight + Giveaway

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I am so proud to present a great book that I previewed and my WORDS have made an appearance in the final print copy!  Thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, I was BLURBED.  What an honor.  And you, dear reader, have a chance to win a copy of this Tudor novel.  To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below.  Contest ends midnight, Sunday September 21.

prisoner of the queenPublished by Knight Publishing, July 2014 ****

The circumstance of Katherine Grey’s existence is heartbreaking. Witnessing the demise of her sister, 9-day queen Jane, and the downfall of her family, Katherine struggles to find her place in court. Unfortunately her royal blood makes her both a value and a rival. Unable to marry her true love because of her lineage, Katherine is a tragic figure at the mercy of a vengeful monarch. Knight deftly conveys the joy and anguish of a doomed love story resulting from the misfortune of being born a Tudor. Katherine is portrayed with passion and the intrigues of the Tudor court are skillfully depicted.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

prisoner hf

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3rd Blogiversary!

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Today marks the third anniversary of my little blog and I am proud to say I’m still going strong!  I wanted to share a bit of a treatise on things I have come to realize since the inception of JulzReads…

A blog is a constantly evolving thing and I have become perfectly comfortable with my own little corner of the interweb over the past three years.  Mainly, I’ve learned to keep it simple.  I don’t need my own domain name, a custom design, or ads.  I don’t feel I have to be super active commenting on other blogs; I’ve made my friends and am pretty happy with the handful I like to follow on my reader.  Along that line, I don’t need to get involved in all of the blog-related activities out there.  Yes, I love me a good readathon and I enjoy tours, but cross-blog participation can be overwhelming.  There are only so many hours in the day and I will not over-extend myself trying to be a highly visible participant/commenter/tweeter/self-promoter.

One thing I value above everything else is being myself.  It’s not important to be profound or even prolific.  I give my readers my opinion about every book I read.  Slumps happen to everyone and don’t require an apology.  I enjoy sharing tidbits from my personal life to a certain degree and am content with my online persona.  Because that’s exactly who I am!  I love my blog, the opportunities it has afforded me, and the friends I have gained.  But really, I keep it up for entirely selfish reasons:  I love to read and write and I love that JulzReads is an outlet for my passion.

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The Royals by Leslie Carroll

royalsPublished by Sterling, 2011 ****

For anyone who enjoys the history of the British Monarchy, this beautifully illustrated book is a great resource. What makes it especially fun is its offering of salacious details of monarchs including affairs and betrayals. I especially appreciated the medieval and Tudor eras. The eighteenth century seemed a bit boring. Though they were certainly scandalous years, I found it tedious trying to keep up with various mistresses and illegitimate children. After Queen Victoria, the media became much more prevalent and the monarchy’s secrets were harder to keep from the public (case in point, Edward VIII aka Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson). The book was also full of interesting royal tidbits. For instance, did you know Elizabeth II and her sister were conceived by artificial insemination? My favorite aspect of this reading experience were the reproductions of documents from different eras such as a letter from Anne Boleyn, Mary Stuart’s execution warrant, and programs and invitations to various royal functions and weddings. Overall, this is a lovely book that any Anglophile would adore.

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Bookish Links

Did you know Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is coming to TV?!  I need to be on the alert for its premier on BBC America!

As many of you know, I am never without a notebook to jot thoughts in, but I have a very strict preference.  Huffington post agrees with me that spiral journals are the best.

I was reading this NY Times interview with Ken Follett and I loved his response to the question, “Is there a certain type of book you try to steer clear of as a reader?  As a writer?”

I just can’t read whimsical fantasy.  I’ve never got through a Tolkien.  If there are no rules, and anything can happen, then where’s the suspense?  I hate elves.

My sentiments exactly, Mr. Follett.

I decided that in my next house, my guest bathroom will have a Harry Potter theme.  Perhaps Gryffindor colored towels, a Mirror of Erised over the sink, and this toilet seat:

ministry of magic

Or if I have a crawl space, one of these.

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The Book of You by Claire Kendal

book of youPublished by Harper, May 2014 *****

This novel is terrifying and its creepiness makes for an addictive reading experience. What makes this book successful is the narrative device that alternates between third person and Clarissa’s first person journal entries. As a stalking victim, she has been advised to record encounters with Rafe, the man who is relentlessly harassing her. This allows the reader to experience Clarissa’s terror first-hand and Rafe is the epitome of obsessive weirdo. As his threats and behavior become more troubling, Clarissa does everything she can to avoid confrontation and to accumulate evidence against him. Clarissa’s experience is disturbing and all-consuming, and I was overwhelmed with anxiety and anticipation the further I got into her story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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The Forgers by Bradford Morrow

the forgersPublished by Mysterious Press, November 2014 *****

What makes this book so intriguing is the narrator and main character, whose name is only mentioned once. Will is a convicted forger of signatures and manuscripts and successfully passed off remarkable inscriptions in rare antique books as authentic. Though he is incredibly proud of his craft, when he is finally caught (exposed, technically), he swears off forgery forever to satisfy the love of his life, Meghan. When Meghan’s brother Adam, who is also involved in the rare book trade, is horrifically murdered, someone is determined that Will has a guilty conscience (about something). When extortion is threatened Will does whatever he can to ensure that his idyllic life with Meghan is not threatened.

The writing here is so elegant, and the atmosphere is great. I love Will’s voice, his sharp perception, and his adoration of Meghan. He has a checkered past and he is definitely flawed, but he accepts that. He demonstrates both honesty and duplicity with his readers and the characters he interacts with. Such a dubious yet intelligent narrator makes for a fun and engaging novel, especially for lovers of books like myself.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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