2 for 1 Tuesday: Book Reviews & Giveaway

I received both of the following copies courtesy of the publisher. The following reviews are my own, honest & unbiased opinion.

I also have an extra paperback copy of each book that I am giving away to one lucky reader 😉 This is open internationally, as I will be shipping them. Link to Rafflecopter after reviews.

thewarriorwithinThe Book

The Warrior Within
By Angus McIntyre
Publisher: Tor.com
ISBN13: 9780765397102
Pages: 175
Science Fiction


Angus McIntyre makes his debut with The Warrior Within, a mind-bending science fiction adventure about a man with many people living in his head.

Karsman has a dozen different people living in his head, each the master of a different set of skills and hoping to gain mastery of Karsman’s body. He survives on a backwater planet dominated by the Muljaddy, a mostly ambivalent religious autocracy, where devotion and prayer can be traded in for subsistence wages and enough food to survive. Surrounded by artifacts of a long-dead civilization, the population survives off its salvage, with Karsman eking out an uneventful life as the unofficial mayor of his small town.

But that life is soon interrupted, when a group of commandos arrive, coming from the wastelands as only off-worlders could. They’ve come to kill a woman, or so they say. At first, the commandos merely threaten as they search. Unable to find what they’re looking for, they begin to ratchet up their measures, separating the men from the women, instigating violent encounters, and eventually staging a coup against the Muljaddy and his Temple.

Faced with the task of protecting his quiet town and a woman he might love from the commandos who could want to kill her, Karsman must balance between maintaining his personality and harnessing the personas whose skills he desperately needs.

My Thoughts

I think we have established that I am a huge fan of Tor.com. When it comes to short stories and novellas, they bring one of the biggest “A” you can find on the market. If you crave sci-fi and fantasy, you will find it. The Warrior Within is no exception.

Set in a futuristic world scattered with remnants of past civilizations, we meet Karsman. He is a man of many talents. Talents which can each be attributed to the multiple personas living within him. He presides over his current town as the “Mayor” or so many of the locals have dubbed him. Overseen by the Muljaddy (dominant extraterrestrial beings), life is a rather quiet and uneventful affair that can easily be sustained through prayer and worship.  This all changes when a group of soldiers arrive, claiming to be in search of a woman they must assassinate. When their searches prove fruitless, they begin to take more extreme measures, forcing Karsman to enlist the help of his personas and their skills while maintaining a firm grip on himself.

This is the rare example of a successful story accomplished in limited time that manages to leave you wanting more in the best of ways. Characters development is a process of revelation and gratification. There is a lot of mystery shrouding Karsman and his personas, but the eventual explanation helps to complete him, adding a new layer of depth that is hard not to appreciate.

The setting is incredibly robust with a well-constructed world. References and traces of the past civilizations are cleverly placed throughout, accompanied by a narration that is fluid and knowledgeable. All resulting in what feels and reads like the beginning of a potentially beautiful space opera. My biggest complaint would be that I just wanted more time with Karsman and his homeland to explore and learn. And well, that is not a bad complaint to have!

tea cupEnjoyed over a nice cup of cinnamon, chai tea.

Purchase links: Amazon.com Book Depository

The Only Harmless Great Thing RD3_quote4_pms2_pinkThe Book

The Only Harmless Great Thing
By Brooke Bolander
Publisher: Tor.com
ISBN13: 9781250169488
Pages: 96
Alternate History/Science Fiction


In the early years of the 20th century, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around the same time, an Indian elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island.

These are the facts.

Now, these two tragedies are intertwined in a dark alternate history of rage, radioactivity, and injustice crying out to be righted. Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey that crosses eras, chronicling histories of cruelty both grand and petty in search of meaning and justice.

My Thoughts

The Only Great Harmless Thing is a fantastic dose of alternative history that manages to accomplish many great things despite its brevity. Set in the early 20th century, we are introduced to two specific issues; female factory employees who are being slowly poisoned to death by radiation and an elephant who is sentenced to a public death by electrocution.

Bolander elegantly weaves both tales together, providing the reader with a with an alternate view of a shameful past. The effects are powerful! This is a hefty dose of capitalism gone very bad and one incredible bond that is established as a result, that will have lasting ramifications.

While I admit that it took me a hot minute to adjust to the alternating narration (between elephant and girl), it was cleverly utilized to solidify the emotion and anger contained within our protagonists. An observance of mankind at his worst presented in the most clever and rewarding manners imaginable. Simply stunning!

tea cup Devoured over a cup of iced, green tea.

Purchase links: Amazon.com Book Depository


Enter Giveaway

Giveaway is open internationally to anyone 18 or older (or with parental consent). Winner will be contacted via email or dm and must be willing to provide a shipping address. *The publisher is not responsible for this giveaway. Please contact Books, Vertigo and Tea with any questions.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

51827bkreviewtemp1 (3)
Alias Grace
By Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Anchor Books
ISBN: 9780385490443
Pages: 486
Genre: Historical Fiction



In Alias Grace, bestselling author Margaret Atwood has written her most captivating, disturbing, and ultimately satisfying work since The Handmaid’s Tale. She takes us back in time and into the life of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the nineteenth century.

Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?


While significantly different from my usual reading selections, Alias Grace is a standing reminder that regardless of the past hurdles I have encountered with some of Atwood’s work, I can and do still hold a deep admiration and respect for it.

Set in the 19th century, Alias Grace follows the events unfolding after the conviction of young Grace Marks for her involvement in the heinous murder of her employer and his head housekeeper alongside stable boy James McDermott. Dr. Simon Jordan interviews Grace daily in an effort to restore memories of the fateful day she claims to have no recollection of. There are those who believe in her guilt and those who wish to see her pardoned. But whether Grace is truly innocent or indeed a manipulative and cunning murderess remains a mystery.

Image Source

While Alias Grace is a work of fiction, it has been based around the real life case of Grace Marks, an Irish-Canadian housemaid who was charged in the murder of Thomas Kinnear (her employer) and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery in 1843. The trial and conviction caused a large amount of controversy as there were many who believed she was an unwilling accomplice to the murders and that James McDermott was solely responsible. She was pardoned 30 years after being sentenced and relocated to New York. The case is still shrouded in mystery.

It is hard to discuss what Margaret Atwood delivers in Alias Grace to full extent without leaving enough revelation for potential readers. This is a slower paced, character study that immerses the reader into the 19th century and explores the relationship between men and women. It touches on themes of women’s social standing and treatment as well as exploring the practices and changes occurring within the field of mental health.

Grace is a complex and perplexing character with a natural intelligence and intuition that often leaves you questioning her capabilities and motives.  I found myself absorbed in her story and often less concerned with her guilt and more so with what actually happened. Dr. Jordan is equally fascinating with his youthful passion for the evolving mental health practice and asylums and sometimes questionable actions. The point of view weaves between the two with snippets of news-clippings and letters, providing a cleverly alternating perspective that manages a suspicious and uncertain narrative. All of this feeds the beautiful mystery that is Grace Marks elegantly.

“…I was shut up inside that doll of myself and my true voice could not get out.” 


While the leisurely pace and sometimes disjointed narration can require an adjustment period, the end result is an unexpectedly inviting and puzzling experience that challenges the reader to confront those heavier topics and message concealed within. It is a story told in a manner that only Atwood can. Brilliantly patient, yet equally rich and rewarding.

tea cupPairs well with an Irish Breakfast blend served with milk.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Excerpt: Snow City by G. A. Kathryns


Excerpt & Spotlight (1).pngToday I am pleased to share an excerpt from the magical realism book by G.A. Kathryns, Snow City.

About Snow City

G. A. Kathryns is an award-winning author of novels and short stories. Her latest release SNOW CITY is a novel of hope and magical realism.

SNOW CITY is a dreamlike journey into the life of a woman who has given up on a dystopian reality and fabricated her idea of a perfect dream world. And then one day she wakes up in that fantasy world…

Snow City Front Cover (1)bkreviewtemp1 (3)

Snow City
By G.A. Kathryns
Publisher: Sycamore Sky Books
Genre: Magical Realism



Her name is Echo Japonica, and she lives in Snow City. But she was not always Echo, and she did not always live in Snow City. Somewhere else, she was someone else, and it was to Snow City that she fled in order to escape a place and a self that had at last become intolerable.

For Snow City is a dream — Echo’s dream — of a better place, an idealized place, a place of both anonymity and fulfillment. It is, for Echo, a haven of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.

But Snow City remains, nonetheless, a dream, and dreams, being such fragile things, can so easily shade into nightmare…

Purchase: Amazon.com  Amazon UK


Excerpt from Chapter 3

“Good evening,” I say. I do not have to see her. I know she is there. “My name is Echo Japonica.”

“H-hello…” comes the uncertain reply. “Have you been following me?”

“I have not. But I knew where you would be.”


“I saw you here on a previous occasion.” I do my best to keep my voice noncommittal. “You were standing in the rain in the daylight, and now you are standing in the rain in the night. It is not right that you be out alone in the dark and the wet. So I wonder…”

I risk a glance at her. Yes: in the rain and at night. But not a drop of water on her.

“…I wonder whether I might once again be so bold as to offer you the sharing of an umbrella.”

Her voice drifts out of the dim alley like a distant hand groping through miles of mist. “Why?”

“Because you are a child.”

The hot denial comes quickly. “I’m not a child!”

I nod, sighing. I should have expected it. “And I, for my part, find it difficult upon occasion to believe that I am an adult. But,
leaving aside the question of our respective ages: share an umbrella with me, I pray, and I will see you home directly.”

“I…I don’t…”

I sense — no, I know — what she is a about to say, and it frightens me. Has Snow City fallen so far? Frayed so terribly? Raveled so completely?

“…I…don’t have a home.”

Homeless, then? Horror follows horror. This should not — cannot — be happening here.

“I mean,” the girl goes on, her words spilling forth in fits and starts, “I’ve got a home, and I’ve got a family. But they don’t…they
don’t want me. They turned me out. They told me…they told me to go away and never come back.”

I stare at her. Well-spoken, polite…vulnerable, perhaps, but with an edge of determination, she seems so unlikely a candidate for abandonment that for the better part of a minute I can find no words with which to reply.

“What about friends?” I manage at last.

“They run away…now.”

Which explains the scene I witnessed the other day: the students’ uneasy expressions, the agonized guilt of the older sister.
I cannot let this happen. Unbidden, I step into the alley and, uninvited, shield the girl with my umbrella…which appears to be
entirely superfluous: there is not a speck of water on her save for the tears trickling down her cheeks.

Has nobody spoken to her like this before, asked these questions, offered the slightest shred of help, of comfort?

What is happening?

“Child,” I say, “regardless of your family, regardless of your friends” — We are face to face, almost touching. I have never allowed anyone else in Snow City such intimate proximity. I never dreamed that I would ever permit such a thing. — “you surely cannot be living on the street.”

Anger flares…accompanied by a kind of vague shame. “Stop calling me a child. My name is Charity. I’m sixteen years old and I’m not a child!” And then: “And in any case, I’m…

She looks away quickly.

“…I’m not living anywhere now. At least…not…not really living.”

I stare at her.

“There was an accident,” she says, the water falling all around and she dry in spite of it. “In January. A car. I was killed.” She
lifts those green eyes to me, and I see in them what I, concerned until now only with surface appearances and bare facts, did not see before: a window into unknown depths, into abysses of knowledge that lie beyond all dreams, all nightmares, all imaginings.

“I…” I stare, stupid and bewildered.

“Don’t you see?” she demands. “I’m dead. I’m a ghost.”

The tears take her then, and she begins to sob uncontrollably.

Author Bio

G.A. Kathryns grew up on the West Coast and later on moved to the drier and higher realms of the high plains. She currently makes her home in the Denver metro area where she shares the company of a spouse and two small dogs.

Along with SNOW CITY, she has written a Southern Gothic themed title, THE BORDERS OF LIFE (soon to be reissued in a revised, corrected, and updated version), several pedagogical works devoted to playing the harp, a number of short stories, and a collection of dark fiction.

Follow G.A. Kathryns: Website  Facebook

I would like to thank the author and Book Publicity Services for this opportunity and excerpt!

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram