Friday, May 27, 2016

Review: Seven Black Diamonds

Seven Black Diamonds (Untitled, #1)Author: Melissa Marr
Series: Untitled, #1
Released: March 1st 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.
From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.
Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.
Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.
Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.
Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. 

After a fairly long absence, Seven Black Diamonds signifies Marr’s return to the fae world, albeit in a somewhat different setting. Her debut series Wicked Lovely was about the fae and it was extremely successful. I can only assume it’s where she still feels most comfortable. Those who’ve read both Wicked Lovely and Diamonds claim that there are many parallels, which I can neither confirm nor deny. I can only say it wouldn’t bother me if both were successful, but Seven Black Diamonds is a far cry from Made For You, a paranormal thriller and the only one of Marr’s books I’ve truly enjoyed.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: The Obsession

The ObsessionAuthor: Nora Roberts
Series: Standalone
Released: April 14th 2016
Publisher: Piatkus
Length: 452 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Book Depository

She changed her name. She changed her life. But someone won't let her go. The brand-new novel of love, drama and hope from legendary Nora Roberts.
Naomi Carson is a survivor. As a child, her family was torn apart by a shocking crime. It could have destroyed her, but Naomi has grown up strong, with a passion for photography that has taken her all around the world.
Now, at last, she has decided to put down roots. The beautiful old house on Point Bluff needs work, but Naomi has new friends in town who are willing to help, including Xander Keaton - gorgeous, infuriating and determined to win her heart.
But as Naomi plans for the future, her past is catching up with her. Someone in town knows her terrifying secret - and won't let her forget it. As her new home is rocked by violence, Naomi must discover her persecutor's identity, before it's too late.

"A gripping thriller of love, hope and betrayal by Nora Roberts, the world’s greatest storyteller." That sentence is a direct quote from the back cover of Roberts’ new bestseller, The Obsession. After reading it more or less in one sitting (all 450 pages of sheer awesomeness), I feel that it pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Nora’s latest release. Nora Roberts IS the world’s greatest storyteller, proven by the fact that over the last 20 years or so, an average of 13 NR books were sold every minute. Every minute! And some of them are my very own treasures.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: The Mystery of Hollow Places

The Mystery of Hollow PlacesAuthor: Rebecca Podos
Series: Standalone
Released: January 26th 2016
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Length: 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”

Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
The opening chapter of The Mystery of Hollow Places promises a story filled with paranormal mysteries and excitement. It’s one of the best prologues I’ve read in a while and it easily made me want to read the rest in one sitting. I adore atmospheric, creepy mysteries, and I was hoping this would be one. The rest of the book, however, continued in a very different tone.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Places No One Knows

Places No One KnowsAuthor: Brenna Yovanoff
Series: Standalone
Released: May 18th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Length: 384 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart, here is a dreamy love story set in the dark halls of contemporary high school, from New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.
Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.
Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.
But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

Brenna Yovanoff is the author of my heart and soul. She earned that place with The Space Between (which remains one of my all-time favorites), confirmed it with The Replacement, and pretty much cemented it with Paper Valentine and Fiendish. With her magical writing, she makes me discover parts of myself or relive emotions long forgotten, which is something very few authors can do these days.

Monday, May 23, 2016

LGBT Monday: Safe in His Heart

Safe in His Heart (Safe, #2)Author: Renae Kaye
Series: Safe, #2
Released: May 2nd 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 270 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Dreamspinner Press

Andrew and Paul learned about God and Jesus in different churches and realize their views of spirituality are worlds apart.
Andrew was raised Catholic and was told his homosexuality was a sin. For his entire life, he hid the truth. He married and had children to present a façade to the world—that of a straight man. It’s not until he has an affair with Paul, who shows him a different side of Jesus, that Andrew realizes he can be gay and still believe in God. Paul’s Jesus is one of acceptance and love, and in Paul’s church, being gay is not a problem.
For Paul and Andrew, falling in love is the easy part of their journey. They must make it through the fires of cheating, being discovered, Andrew’s wife leaving, the necessities of childcare and family life, the demands of their jobs, and working on their commitment to each other. Only then can they be safe in each other’s heart. 

Those of you who are familiar with Renae Kaye’s work probably know her as this bright little Aussie ray of sunshine. Her books are always clever, always honest, always heartfelt, but they rarely follow any usual romance tropes and angst is a word that’s simply missing from her vocabulary. I honestly love everything about Renae and her books have become comfort rereads I pick up when I want to smile, laugh outright and generally feel good about myself and about the world.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Review: Marked in Flesh

Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)Author: Anne Bishop
Series: The Others, #4
Released: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Roc
Length: 399 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community...
Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.
But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

As impossible as it may sound, with each new installment, Anne Bishop’s Others series becomes increasingly darker, more violent, and yes, much, much better. I still maintain that it’s not really urban fantasy, but that’s just my OCD talking. Who cares about the genre when the books are this good?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: The Raven King

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Racen Cycle, #4
Released: April 26th 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Length: 439 pages
Buy: Amazon

Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.
For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey…and is certain she is destined to kill him.
Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

The best thing about Maggie Stiefvater is that she's Maggie Stiefvater. She can't seem to help herself, and she doesn't really try. All those quirks, the clever writing and the wickedly sharp sense of humor make her one of the very best YA novelists in the world. And that's an understatement for sure.

The best thing about The Raven Cycle is that it doesn't pretend do be anything else. Mostly because it's everything to begin with. It doesn't fit any one genre, it doesn't echo any other story, it just exist in it's own little magical piece of the universe. It proves quite decisively that there's still at least one original idea in this postmodern world, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: Fire Touched

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, #9
Released: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Orbit UK
Length: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Mercy Thompson is back, and she'll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it's the children who suffer ...Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae. Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans and the fae, Mercy, Adam and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Mercy Thompson is one of the characters that defined urban fantasy, along with Harry Dresden, Kate Daniels and a few others. It’s a very exclusive company she’s in, but her position is well deserved. Even the most determined critics of the genre would be hard pressed to find a flaw within this series, and what’s more, Briggs just keeps polishing the details to make her books even better and more exciting.

Monday, April 11, 2016

LGBT Monday: The Queen and the Homo Jock King

The Queen & the Homo Jock King (At First Sight, #2)Author: T.J. Klune
Series: At First Sight, #2
Released: February 29th 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 350 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Dreamspinner Press

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Sanford Stewart sure doesn't. In fact, he pretty much believes in the exact opposite, thanks to the Homo Jock King. It seems Darren Mayne lives for nothing more than to create chaos in Sandy’s perfectly ordered life, just for the hell of it. Sandy despises him, and nothing will ever change his mind.
Or so he tells himself.
It's not until the owner of Jack It—the club where Sandy performs as drag queen Helena Handbasket—comes to him with a desperate proposition that Sandy realizes he might have to put his feelings about Darren aside. Because Jack It will close unless someone can convince Andrew Taylor, the mayor of Tucson, to keep it open.
Someone like Darren, the mayor’s illegitimate son.
The foolproof plan is this: seduce Darren and push him to convince his father to renew Jack It’s contract with the city.
Simple, right?

What on Earth did I just read? I swear my head is still spinning…

The Queen and the Homo Jock King was one of those sequels that I’ve waited a very long time to read, and that I finally picked up with no small amount of trepidation. You see, the first book, Tell Me It’s Real, is one of the funniest, most endearing books I’ve ever read, and writing something that could at least come close was likely very difficult. However, it would appear that TJ Klune was more than up to the task. The Queen is hilariously funny, and as usual, TJ had me laughing myself into stitches mere minutes after I started reading. Seriously, I almost died laughing. He named a drag queen character Sofonda Cox, for heaven’s sake. And that was one tiny detail of many.

However, if you pay attention, The Queen and the Homo Jock King is a pretty serious book underneath – admittedly far, far, far underneath. But TJ manages to slip in loss and grief, deep insecurities and even increase awareness about drag queens. He does it all in his typical way, with much humor and by refusing to pull back punches. Avoidance of issues isn’t in his repertoire. He pushes them right in your face and makes you deal with them… with style.

In terms of plot, QATHJK leaves a lot to be desired, only you don’t desire it in the least. When you think about it with a cool head, you realize that it’s just a flimsy excuse to push our protagonists together, a romance cliché if there ever was one, but while you’re reading, you simply don’t care. Besides, TJ made even the cliché his own and he hid several small surprises within.

If I have to point out one objection to this book, I’d say it’s a tiny bit too long. You just can’t laugh that much at once so it must be read in smaller doses, which isn’t something I normally do. Every concession is worth it, however. This book is a treasure, just like Tell Me It’s Real before it. Read it and enjoy.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Tell Me Three Things

Tell Me Three ThingsAuthor: Julie Buxbaum
Series: Standalone
Released: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.
In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends. 

Grief is a very strange thing. It makes people behave differently, uncharacteristically and unpredictably. Grief often causes us to act out and neglect those we care for the most. In order to write about it, truly write about it, one must understand it completely and intimately, otherwise it’s just an empty plot device that leads absolutely nowhere. Julie Buxbaum fully understands the subtleties of grief, the isolation and odd behaviors that come with it, and because of her thorough understanding, Tell Me Three Things stands out among others of its kind. It is, in fact, quite extraordinary.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Audiobook Review: Calamity

Calamity (Reckoners, #3)Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Reckoners, #3
Released: February 16th 2016
Publisher: Audible Studios
Length: 11 hrs and 51 mins
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Audible

When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David's fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.
David knew Prof's secret and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners' leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He's disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there's no turning back....
But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics - Megan proved it. They're not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.

Calamity! I can’t believe it’s over! I’ve waited so long to read this… When this trilogy started, I’d been mostly unfamiliar with Mr. Sanderson’s work, but his easy style and humor won me over in a heartbeat. This trilogy has been a favorite of mine since the very beginning, and while the ending didn’t quite provide the entertainment I was hoping for, it was nevertheless a satisfying finale that gave me answers and more or less the type conclusion I was hoping for.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Review: Brotherhood in Death

Brotherhood in Death (In Death, #42)Author: J.D. Robb
Series: In Death, #42
Released: February 4th 2016
Publisher: Piatkus
Length: 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Sometimes brotherhood can be another word for conspiracy...
Dennis Mira just had two unpleasant surprises. First he learned that his cousin Edward was secretly meeting with a real estate agent about their late grandfather’s magnificent West Village brownstone, despite the promise they both made to keep it in the family. Then, when he went to the house to confront Edward about it, he got a blunt object to the back of the head.
Luckily Dennis is married to Charlotte Mira, the NYPSD’s top profiler and a good friend of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. When the two arrive on the scene, he explains that the last thing he saw was Edward in a chair, bruised and bloody. When he came to, his cousin was gone. With the mess cleaned up and the security disks removed, there’s nothing left behind but a few traces for forensics to analyze. 
As a former lawyer, judge, and senator, Edward Mira mingled with the elite and crossed paths with criminals, making enemies on a regular basis. Like so many politicians, he also made some very close friends behind closed—and locked—doors. But a badge and a billionaire husband can get you into places others can’t go, and Eve intends to shine some light on the dirty deals and dark motives behind the disappearance of a powerful man, the family discord over a multimillion-dollar piece of real estate . . . and a new case that no one saw coming. 

First of all, thank you, Nora Roberts, for being consistently amazing. Getting the latest J. D. Robb book is practically a holiday in my house. No more than six months pass between her books, and yet somehow they always seem like an eternity.