Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Confront the Real World | Playing Dead by Bronson Palmer #Giveaway


Playing Dead
Bronson Palmer
Publication date: November 7th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
In the halls of Andrew Jackson High School, Jenaiya is a nobody. Less than a nobody. She’s practically invisible. An awkward, shy freshman, she very rarely gets any attention at all, unless she’s being harassed by the school’s multitude of bullies. In short, she’s not anyone’s idea of a hero.
But in ‘Age of Z,’ a post-apocalyptic multiplayer zombie game, she’s a gun-wielding, fast-talking GOD. She’s one of the top ten players in the online dystopia, and she doesn’t suffer fools lightly. It’s just the way she plays, and she likes it that way. She can become the person she wishes herself to be in the real world.
However, when the game gets overrun by trolls and n00bs who threaten to destroy the game by turning it into yet another online shooter, Jenaiya cannot sit still and let that happen. The very existence of the game is on the line, as people leave in droves, and she gathers a rag-tag group of players to fight back against this new kind of ‘brainless’ horde. They have wildly different personalities but one goal: rid the game of the real monsters.
Jenaiya will have to outsmart her enemies, outplay the bullies, and return ‘Age of Z’ to its former glory. Otherwise, it’s game over, and she’ll have to confront the real world that awaits her on the other side of the computer screen.
Meet Jenaiya. She’s a survivor.
By Bronson Palmer
Meet Jenaiya. She’s the tough, flawed, sometimes misguided protagonist of ‘Playing Dead.’ A meek freshman at a particularly rough high school, Jenaiya spends most of the book trying to negotiate all the different areas of her life, from her online identity to her relationship with her family and her sexual identity. She’s not a simple character, and this is not an easy story to tell. It would be easy to make her an empty vessel for the events inside ‘Age of Z,’ but it was my goal to provide the audience with a believable, real character to identify with so each victory and defeat felt that much more credible.
When the novel begins, Jenaiya leads a fairly ordinary but unenviable life in Nashville. She hates school, because the school she attends is a haven for miscreants of all types. It seems as though everyone around her is a villain of some kind, and she is a constant target of their attacks. Her only refuge happens to be her favorite video game, ‘Age of Z,’ where she’s able to unleash her adolescent rage on an unsuspecting public. It provides insight into how Jenaiya feels the world really should run. She values fairness and fair play, loyalty, and integrity.
However, in the real world, beyond the confines of a digital asylum, rather than doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, she also gets caught up in the idea that “the ends justify the means,” which lands her in a whole heap of trouble. When it comes to bullies, especially teenage ones, it’s oh so tempting to fight fire with fire, but that usually ends up making things worse, as it does in ‘Playing Dead.’ Jenaiya wants to level the playing field for everyone, from the jocks to the dreamers and the jokers to the drama queens, but that’s not entirely how the world works, so the fuse she lights early in the novel eventually explodes right in her face.
Her digital world is rocked when her favorite game — really, the only game she plays — is trounced by new players who treat ‘Age of Z’ like your everyday, run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter first-person shooter. To Jenaiya, ‘AoZ’ is so much more than that. It’s a post-apocalyptic game, sure, but the world is built around relationships. See, in ‘Age of Z,’ players wander a vast wasteland in search of supplies. They can be found in buildings, abandoned cars, but the best place, by far, to hit the item jackpot is another player.
Only, players are tough to kill, and it’s much easier to work cooperatively with that person or negotiate peacefully to trade supplies. Think ‘FallOut’ without all the headshots. The game is loosely based on the experiential ‘sandbox’ games which have become popular over the past few years. Games like ‘Minecraft,’ ‘H1Z1,’ and ‘DayZ’ inform the gameplay, so if you’ve played those titles, you understand that the strategy lies not in quick-twitch mouse-and-keyboard murder sessions but in how you interact with the world and the other players.
What Jenaiya understands inherently, the new players do not, and it frustrates her. Being an African-American loner, Jenaiya feels yet another thing she loves get co-opted by society at-large, and rather than allow it to happen, she decides to fight back. She’s willing to befriend all of the different warring factions within ‘Age of Z’ to make that happen, if she has to. But she refuses — absolutely refuses — to give up on this game until she’s dead and gone.
That’s where the portmanteau character MICHONNEN_KNIFE comes in. I make a few sly references to ‘Fight Club’ throughout the book, and though the tone of ‘Playing Dead’ is nowhere near a Palahniuk novel, MICHONNEN_KNIFE is the Tyler Durden to Jenaiya’s normal Jack character. Where Jenaiya is meek and accommodating, MICHONNEN_KNIFE is uncompromising, and Jenaiya basks in every opportunity to live in that digital construction’s skin.
As a bonus, I decided to get a faux-D&D player card designed to show the audience just what MICHONNEN_KNIFE (+1 if you can guess both references embedded in the name) has to offer Jenaiya. Hope you enjoy perusing it, and if you’ve dug this blog post, you can get lots more obscure references throughout the whole of ‘Playing Dead.’


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Monday, December 11, 2017

Tuscan Mac & Cheese | #WeeklyMenu Week #227


Happy Monday! There are only two more weeks until Christmas and I have to say that I only need to buy one more present and then I am done. Usually, I'm a last minute shopper, but because I had to do a lot of my shopping on line, I needed to start early. I'm just glad its all done.

There was not a lot of writing this week. It really makes me sad, but I will be ok. Maybe this coming week, I will pick up the pen again and put words on paper... Or maybe not.

Here is this weeks menu!

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday
- Pizza Night!

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday
Tuna Sandwiches


Friday, December 8, 2017

Bring Peace to a Divided Nation | The Rogue Queen by Emily R. King


Title: The Rogue Queen
By: Emily R. King
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 302
Release Date: February 13th, 2018
Publisher: Skyscape

Summary from Goodreads: Despite the odds, Kalinda has survived it all: Marriage to a tyrant. Tournaments to the death. The forbidden power to rule fire. The icy touch of a demon.

That same demon now disguises itself as Rajah Tarek, Kalinda’s late husband and a man who has never stopped haunting her. Upon taking control of the palace and the army, the demon brands Kalinda and her companions as traitors to the empire. They flee across the sea, seeking haven in the Southern Isles.

In Lestari, Kalinda’s powers are not condemned, as they are in her land. Now free to use them to protect those she loves, Kalinda soon realizes that the demon has tainted her with a cold poison, rendering her fire uncontrollable. But the lack of control may be just what she needs to send the demon back to the darkest depths of the Void.

To take back the empire, Kalinda will ally with those she distrusts—and risk losing those most loyal to her—to defeat the demon and bring peace to a divided nation.




Review: A fantastic end to a wonderful journey. I was super excited to receive a review copy of this book. There was so much action and adventure. Please playing both sides, or having a hard time picking sides. It was an epic battle to the end. I wished there was more of the world building. All the wonders of Kalinda's world almost fell away with the action. I've always been on for description, but I know this is the third book in the series and some world building has already been done. 


Gratz to Emily R. King for giving us a crazy ride inside a fantastic mystical world.


Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.


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