Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Book Reviews: Attractive Nuisance and Under a Graveyard Sky

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Book Reviews Week Nine!

Also the final week of this round of reviews.

Romance book of the week: Attractive Nuisance: A Courtroom Mystery Romance by Jennifer Griffiths. I’ve known Jennifer for a long time, but haven’t read any of her newer romances, so I thought I would!

Science Fiction book of the week: Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo. This one is post apocalyptic, which I haven’t been focusing on, but a friend recommended it, so I thought I would try it.

Attractive Nuisance: A Courtroom Mystery Romance

The book I read in week 1 was a cozy mystery. I like those. I didn’t love the courtroom + romance aspect of this book. It felt like too much for this particular story.

I see now that I should have picked another book in this series, because this one has the worst reviews, and the book kind of deserves it.

Before I say what I didn’t like about it, I do have to admit that this book is a clean romance with some good dialogue and it did make me chuckle a few times.

Now the other end of the stick. Camilla, our main girl, is a seasoned attorney…and gets completely tongue tied and messes up a closing statement because a good-looking man walks into the courtroom. Ugh. The guy is annoying in a stalker sort of way, (maybe he was supposed to be charming?) and waits until the last few chapters of the book to show Camilla who he is. She annoyed me. He needed to be smacked. I did not enjoy anything about their relationship…mostly because there wasn’t one.

If that wasn’t enough, Camilla’s entire “hang up” is that she’s too old to start a family, which he wants. The entire book I thought she was in her late 30s. I mean, how many seasoned attorneys are…get this…27?

27? If this book hadn’t been on my Kindle I probably would have thrown it across the room. The guy does the math for her, and suddenly she sees the light? “I won’t die before the kids are 20!” Nope and nope.

There were also some serious plot holes.

Two and a Half Stars.

Rival attorneys Zane and Camilla fight for the same job—and attraction to each other in this enemies to lovers romance.

Prosecutor Camilla Sweeten desperately needs the promotion to Chief Deputy to pay bills. She’s meticulously prepared for every case, and she’s been picking up all the pieces where the last chief deputy blanked out. She deserves this, and she’s working like crazy to prove it.

Except, she’s plagued by a dream she had where she was kissing a hot attorney in the basement of the courthouse. And in the middle of closing arguments in an important trial—she sees someone in the courtroom whose face matches the guy’s from her dream.

Camilla’s brain gets on Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and flies far, far away.

If that’s not enough to lose her the job, her boss has just hired a hot, hotshot attorney from another county—the son of his college frat buddy. Marvelous. Camilla’s chances at the promotion are shot.

Attorney Zane Holyoak is a swaggering prosecutor who’s earned the nickname The Jury Whisperer. Against logic, he has followed his gut back to Yucca County, after swearing never to return. If he can get the promotion to Chief Deputy, Zane can finally prove to his dad he’s not a disappointment.

However, one majorly attractive obstacle stands in Zane’s way: the uber-capable Camilla.

When they’re assigned to tag-team prosecute an impossible case, these opposites-attract rivals must follow their heads and their hearts to uncover the truth.

Can they put aside their differences and also find love?

Under a Graveyard Sky

If a friend of mine hadn’t recommended this book, I never would have listened to it. The cover is somewhat awful, in my opinion, and doesn’t tell much about the story. The blurb doesn’t catch my attention either, but when someone says they’ve listened to a book multiple times, that gets my attention.

I listen to books while I walk in the mornings, and this book had me stretching for thirty minutes instead of ten after said walk.

The style is a bit strange. It’s almost like a movie—jumping from one thing and person to another, but I was rarely confused, and honestly the pacing kept me interested.

I admit, as a reader you have to suspend some disbelief when the 13 year old is too stupid for words. More than once. However, I went into this for an entertaining zombie apocalypse story, and I got it.

The story shifts tones when the Smith family decides instead of finding an island to live on, they want to rescue the survivors on the ocean around them. I loved this decision, and will likely read the next book. Which doesn’t happen very often.

Four Stars

(I’d give it five, but the two daughters are a bit unbelievable…but I still liked them!)

Zombies are real. And we made them. Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? The Smith family is, with the help of a few marines.

When an airborne “zombie” plague is released, bringing civilization to a grinding halt, the Smith family, Steven, Stacey, Sophia and Faith, take to the Atlantic to avoid the chaos. The plan is to find a safe haven from the anarchy of infected humanity. What they discover, instead, is a sea composed of the tears of survivors and a passion for bringing hope.

For it is up to the Smiths and a small band of Marines to somehow create the refuge that survivors seek in a world of darkness and terror. Now with every continent a holocaust and every ship an abattoir, life is lived under a graveyard sky.

That concludes Book Reviews Week 9!
I can’t believe I read or listened to 18 books in the last two months!

Book Reviews will now go to every-other week, unless I get really excited about something.

Thanks for playing!


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19-Jun-2020

How to lose Pandemic in Less than Ten Minutes: Based on True Events

 “Who’s first?”

“Me.”

“We need to get to Asia.”

“Why?”

“Look at all of those disease cubes! If there’s an outbreak we’re screwed.”

“It’s literally the first card in the deck. There’s not going to be an epidemic. And even if we do get one, it will only be bad if we draw Hong Kong.”

“Then I guess I’ll go cure Washington.”

“I’ll move to Asia on my turn and take care of it.”

“One. Two. Cure and cure. Give me Two cards…Oh look, an epidemic.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Very first card.”

“Who shuffled?”

“Me.”

“Stop laughing.”

“But it’s kind of funny.”

“Give me a city card…Hong Kong, really?”

“We’re screwed.”

“Wait, wait, it’s not that bad. Look, it’s only…oh man.”

“Then this city has an outbreak, and this city has an outbreak. Hand me some more cubes.”

“This is your fault.”

“What? I shuffled, I swear.”

“That’s the problem.”

“That’s three outbreaks.”

“Four.”

“Oh yeah, four.”

“Pretty sure that’s not supposed to be possible in this game.”

“Well, it is called pandemic.”

“You know we lose if that outbreak token gets to the end of the line.”

“Uh, well, then no more outbreaks.”

“Better get to Asia.”

“On my way.”

“I can transport you there on my next turn.”

“Great. That should take care of it.”

“Good. Good. Keep it under control in Europe.”

“I thought we were worried about Asia.”

“Holy crap, epidemic card.”

“Is that even possible?”

“If it’s literally the top card of this pile. Again. Stop laughing.”

“Kyoto.”

“For real?”

“Then this city has an outbreak, and this city has an outbreak. and this city has a…and we’re dead.”

“I didn’t even get a second turn.”

“Neither did I.”

“Let’s forget this ever happened and start over.”

“Yeah, good idea.”

Stay tuned for a new format for Flash Fiction Friday in July. You’re going to love it!


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Book Reviews: A Marriage of Anything But Convenience and War INC

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Book Reviews Week Eight!

Romance book of the week: A Marriage of Anything But Convenience by Victorine E. Lieske. I’m trying to put more of a romantic comedy spin on some of my own romance books, and since this one was actually clean, I thought I would check it out.

Science Fiction book of the week: War INC by Toby Neighbors. Once again I was looking for a fun story with mechs in it, which is what this one promised.

A Marriage of Anything But Convenience

I didn’t love the premise of this book. It felt thinner than most romance books, and the girl is so annoying for the first half of the book that I almost stopped reading. However, the end was well thought out and redeemed it a bit.

Our hero Derek, is just about as nice and love-struck as they come. If not for him, Nara’s insistence for being annoying and whiny would have made me hate her through the first half of the book.

I also expected more humor. I did find it in the romantic comedy section, after all. I only chuckled out loud a few times, but others might like it more.

This is a mid-line book for me. Not stellar, but not terrible. A fun read, if you’re looking for an easy escape.

Three and a half stars.

It was a simple marriage of convenience. Just two years. What could possibly go wrong?

All Nara wanted was to become a fashion designer. That, and an IV full of Diet Coke to feed her favorite addiction. She never thought her father would force her into a marriage of convenience. And who did he choose for her wedded bliss? None other than Derek Marshall, Mr. Stuffy himself.

Derek’s been in love with Nara since they were kids, but he’s always become so tongue-tied around her. He wasn’t like the guys she dated, smooth and confident. No, he was too awkward and nervous. So, when Nara’s father decided it was best if they marry, he readily agreed.

Maybe being forced together for two years would make her see him differently.

War INC

I’ve never read anything by this author before, but he has a lot of fans who love his books.

I wanted to like this book, but the character voices were flat and bland. The entire first section reads more like a bullet point of things that happened to someone else rather than the character on the page, and the rest of the writing is only marginally better.

The whole book felt rushed—skipping over most of the character building moments to go into exposition on some facet of the story that while interesting, didn’t carry it for me.

This book felt more like a prequel and set up than it did an actual novel. The background plot of the company is somewhat interesting, and the battle mechs are almost interesting. I guessed the big surprise at the end, which isn’t a problem if it’s well told, which it wasn’t.

Considering the flat characters and shallow writing, I didn’t love it. It’s readable, but not if you’re looking for actual story. The author claims that this series is suitable for all ages, and he’s right about that. It lacks the swearing, gory violence, and sex of a lot of other sci-fi series. So there’s that.

Three stars.

When Alex sees a Defender Class battle mech shot down just meters from where he’s hiding, he knows he has to do something.

   Getting into a mechanized battle suit isn’t easy, and controlling the powerful war machine shouldn’t be possible without Ahzco’s secret Implanted Neural Control (INC) chip, but Alex is about to do something no one on a hundred worlds has ever done.  And his life is never going to be the same.

   In the future, mega corporations control entire star systems and are even more powerful than the government.  Competition isn’t just big business — it’s war!

   Join Alex Evans as he gets fast-tracked into Ahzco’s Corporate Defense Force and the world of mechanized warfare.  There are secrets that people will kill to keep, and dangers that can’t be avoided.  The company opens the entire galaxy to a young man from a colony planet, but Alex must determine if he can trust that Ahzco has his best interests in mind.  Or if he’s just another pawn in their corporate games.

That concludes Book Reviews Week 8

Tune in next Wednesday for my last week of reviews!

After that I’ll go to every other week. Probably.


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12-Jun-2020

The War on Rodents: Jerry’s Downfall

Brad stopped in his tracks. His claws sunk into the dirt, and his nose twitched. Moist earth. A hint of fresh air. Worms. Bugs. And…metal.

“Jerry, don’t go out the hole.”

“Yeah, I smell it.” Jerry huffed and backed up, which meant his tail ended up in Brad’s nose, which caused Brad to back up. “Let’s go out the other way.”

“What if they’ve found both holes?” Brad couldn’t keep the tremor from his voice.

“What are we? Cats? We can did another hole you know.”

“Right.” Of course Brad knew that, but the last trap the humans had set had been right by his exit, and in an evening stupor, he’d almost walked right into it. He shuddered, thinking of the snap of the metal, the crunch of his bones, then the end of his life.

When they reached a wide spot in the tunnel, Brad stopped and let Jerry turn around.

“Come on,” Jerry said. “We’re going to miss the grubs if we don’t hurry.”

“There are plenty of grubs,” Brad said automatically.

A soft snort escaped Jerry’s nose, echoing through the tunnel. “That’s mom talking. You need to learn to think for yourself.”

Jerry thought that because he’d been born before Brad that he was smarter. Brad didn’t think this was true, but had yet to find a way to prove it.

“I can think for myself,” Brad said as they turned. The tunnel sloped upward. “I can even do math, and the math says there are plenty of grubs for everyone.”

“Not the good ones,” Jerry said. “Newly hatched. Juicy. Tender.”

Brad’s mouth began to water.

“If we don’t get out there soon, we’ll be left with the big ones.”

“Which are bigger,” Brad said. They turned again, and a hint of fresh air got past Jerry’s wreaking butt.

“Size doesn’t equal taste,” Jerry said in what he probably thought was a wise voice. Instead it made him sound like their uncle. But Brad had made the mistake of making that comparison once before.

“If you say so,” Brad said.

“I do.” Jerry stopped, and Brad almost ran over his tail. “Dang it.”

Brad sniffed again. Sure enough, the tang of metal filled the air.

“We’re going to miss the good grubs,” Jerry wailed.

This is why Brad thought he might be smarter. Sure, Brad was afraid of the human traps, but he didn’t cry when he didn’t get the best food. “Better dig a new hole,” he said.

“There’s no time.” Jerry’s voice sounded manic. “I’m going to sneak past it.”

“Sneak past it?” Brad squeaked.

“Sure. Dumb humans didn’t do a very good job of hiding it, which means I can get past it.”

“Jerry, I don’t think that’s a very good idea.”

“Of course you don’t. You’re dumb as a rock.”

“Pretty sure a rock wouldn’t try to squeeze past a trap built to snap it in two.”

“Because rocks are dumb.” Jerry moved forward. “Let me get out, then I’ll dig it wider for you.”

Brad didn’t want to tell Jerry that he’d never, ever, try to get past one of those traps. He eyed the tunnel wall as Jerry’s tail slithered out of sight.

“I’m not getting cracked by that thing. I’ll dig my own way out.” Brad snorted and started to claw at the dirt. If he got lucky, he’d be to the surface before Jerry was.

Brad was good at digging, and it didn’t take him long before his claws breached the surface. Warm air rushed in, and Brad took a deep breath. A small stream of sunlight hit his eye, and he snapped it shut.

At the same moment, a zing sounded, followed abruptly by a crack.

Then a whimper.

Brad froze. His little heart sped up, and his paws twitched to run. “Jerry?” he asked.

Another whimper. Then a gasp. Then nothing.

“Jerry?”

***

I’ve run out of dice rolls, and have a few weeks until I start my next little theme for Flash Fiction Friday, so until July, you’re going to get random stuff.

Enjoy!


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