Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Release Day Review: Bite

Author: K.S. Merbeth
Series: Standalone
Released: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 416 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Kid is trying to survive in a world gone mad. 
Hungry, thirsty and alone in a desert wasteland, she's picked up on the side of the road by Wolf, Dolly, Tank and Pretty Boy - outlaws with big reputations and even bigger guns.
But as they journey across the wild together, Kid learns that her newfound crew may not be the heroes she was hoping for. And in a world that's lost its humanity, everyone has a bit of monster within them...

Bite, K. S. Merbeth’s entertaining debut, shines like the bright star it is as we follow a ragtag group of misfits with no sense of self-preservation and an unholy love of violence. Fans of post-apocalyptic movies like Mad Max will find plenty to love in this bloody debut. If you are bothered by severed body parts, you should perhaps skip this one, but if you are one of those readers who like to see their characters swimming in blood, this is an excellent choice for you.

Monday, July 25, 2016

LGBT Monday: The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson

The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson (Get Out, #1)
Author: Sean Kennedy
Series: Get Out, #1
Released: April 7th 2016
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Length: 192 pages
Source: Bought
Buy: Amazon

There is no Plan B.
After being outed in an especially brutal way and briefly running away from home, Micah Johnson has sworn to get his life back on the straight and narrow. Well, not so much straight, but you know what he means.
Unfortunately the path to redemption is not an easy one. With fights at school and on the football field and an all-round snarky attitude as his number one defense mechanism, will Micah survive the school year and the training camps to achieve his dream of making the national draft and becoming a professional AFL player?
His mentor, Declan Tyler, believes in him, but Micah wishes he had the same confidence in himself. Only time will tell if the ongoing reformation of Micah Johnson will be successful.

The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson is a touching YA debut by Sean Kennedy, an Australian author with three adult romance novels behind him. Sean’s Tigers and Devils series is extremely successful, with many loyal fans waiting breathlessly for the next installment. A YA spin off was unexpected but most welcome, and, I can now say, very successful.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Illusion Town

Illusion Town
Author: Jayne Castle
Series: Ghost Hunters, #13
Released: July 26th
Publisher: Piatkus
Length: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository 

With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique—and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.
Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband. All either can remember is that they were on the run…
With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse. The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity—as well as other parts of her mind and body. And even her dust bunny likes him.
But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light—and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…

Jayne Castle (also writing as Jayne Ann Krentz) is the queen of paranormal romance lite. Her Harmony books are wonderfully addictive, and the first one I read (not the first in this series since they can function as standalones) turned me into an instant fan. I always struggle a bit to find my footing in her books since I have to catch up on the worldbuilding I’ve missed along the way, but Castle makes it easy and her books just pull me in with no effort at all.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: The Beauty of the End

The Beauty of the End
Author: Debbie Howells
Series: Standalone
Released: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Kensington
Length: 320 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

From the acclaimed author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover's past. 
"I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . ."
So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose--and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together. 
While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April's name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges. 
Or so everyone believes. . .
Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.

For me, the summer always brings a craving for mysteries and thrillers. There’s something about these hot days that demands only the most exciting stories. Having missed The Bones of You, Debbie Howells’ praised psychological thriller, I decided to start with her newest release and work my way backwards if I happen to enjoy it. Although she’s often compared to Gillian Flynn and other famous mystery writers, Howells’ prose lacks the strength of books like Gone Girl. Despite its promising premise, The Beauty of the End is a colorless, uninspiring book that fails to grab attention or bring forth any real emotions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review: Imprudence

Imprudence (The Custard Protocol, #2)
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Custard Protocol, #2
Released: July 19th 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 354 pages
Source: Publisher for review

London is in chaos.
Rue and the crew of The Spotted Custard returned from India with revelations that shook the foundations of the scientific community. There is mass political upheaval, the vampires are tetchy, and something is seriously wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most inappropriate military types.
Rue has got personal problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they all really are… is frightened.
When the Custard is ordered to Egypt, transporting some highly unusual passengers, Rue’s problems go from personal to impossible. Can she get Percy to stop sulking? Will she find the true cause of Primrose’s lovesickness? And what is Quesnel hiding in the boiler room?

Unforgettable adventures, an excellent fashion sense and ridiculous endearments helped Carriger’s books become the huge success they are today. Although she never strays away from her well established world, she always finds some way to keep it fresh and endlessly entertaining. Imprudence is perhaps the richest, most enjoyable example of her work after her debut, a book strong enough to pull in new fans, as well as satisfy the old ones.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Release Day Review: A World Without You

A World Without You
Author: Beth Revis
Series: Standalone
Released: July 19th 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 384 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his concerned parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have "superpowers."
At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofia, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age. 
But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she's not actually dead. He believes that she's stuck somewhere in time — that he somehow left her in the past, and now it's his job to save her. 

A World Without You is one of those books that invades your every thought, controls your every breath and breaks your heart, only to rebuild it as the better, stronger version of itself. In this genre-bending gem of a book, Revis explores mental illness, loss and guilt that lead to never before seen depths of self-delusion and fear. For a more careful reader, reading it can be an eye-opening experience, as each new page peels away one more bit of prejudice of which we were completely unaware.

Monday, July 18, 2016

LGBT Monday: Model Citizen

Model Citizen
Author: Lissa Kasey
Series: Model Citizen, #1
Released: June 22nd 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner 
Length: 220 pages
Source: Bought
Buy: Amazon
         Dreamspinner Press

Oliver “Ollie” Petroskovic’s life as an international supermodel was heading in the right direction. He worked part-time for his brother at his detective agency—Petroskovic Haven Investigations—and had just bought his dream house. But all that changed when he found his brother dead, a victim of PTSD-induced suicide. 
Almost a year later, Ollie is trying to keep his brother’s business afloat, but can’t get his PI license. Then his brother’s best friend, Kade Alme, shows up, fresh from the battlefield after a close brush with death. Kade is looking for a new life, in more ways than one, and with PI license in hand, he’s exactly what Ollie needs to keep PHI running. 
When one of Ollie's childhood friends gets in trouble, Ollie feels he has to help. Kade insists on investigating if only to keep Ollie safe. Neither realizes the danger they’re in as someone tries to tear them apart before they can find solid ground together.

Model Citizen by Lissa Kasey has it all. It’s an exciting mystery, a wonderful romance and a book that pushes the limits of its genre. Kasey created a unique protagonist with enough complexities and nuances to make him truly unforgettable.

For Ollie Petroskovic, the loss of his older brother Nathan, his only living family member, is devastating. He abandons his modeling career to take over Nathan’s PI business, without a license or any real experience in the field. While Ollie struggles with the feeling of abandonment caused by his brother’s suicide, good friends join forces to keep his head above water. His brother’s old army friend, Kade, comes to live with him and help with the business, but Ollie can’t trust that Kade won’t abandon him just like Nathan did.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Rebellion by J. A. Souders Guest Post & Giveaway

Hello, everyone!

Who among us isn't a huge fan of J. A. Souders's Elysium Chronicles? I can't even begin to tell you how much I love these books. When I first read Renegade several years ago, I fell completely in love with the Evie's enchanting underwater world. Now that the trilogy is approaching its exciting finale, I am thrilled to welcome J. A. Souders to The Nocturnal Library. 

She's here to talk about my favorite part of Elysium - the challenges and the possibilities of building a world underwater. 

I hope you enjoy her post. Make sure to enter the giveaway for the entire trilogy below.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: The Killing Jar

The Killing Jar
Series: Standalone
Released: January 12th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan
Length: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret. 
She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance. 
On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

The Killing Jar, Jennifer Bosworth’s sophomore novel, is a big step up from her debut, Struck. I vaguely remember Struck as a bland, uneventful, unmemorable book, but The Killing Jar has a bit more flavor to it. It’s not the novel it could have been with some careful planning, but it’s still a good choice for those who prefer their paranormal YA to be a bit on the creepy side.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: The Waking Fire

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria, #1)
Author: Anthony Ryan
Series: Draconis Memoria, #1
Released: July 7th 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 592 pages
Source: Publisher for review

The Waking Fire is set in a vibrant new world where the blood of drakes—creatures similar to dragons—is valued beyond reckoning, and can be distilled into elixirs that grant fearsome powers to those who are “blood-blessed.” The novel follows an unregistered blood-blessed as he searches for an elusive variety of drake so potent, its capture would mean unrivalled riches; the second in command of a blood-burning ironclad ship; and a young woman in a lifelong contract to a trading syndicate, whose espionage mission places her on the front lines of a newly declared war. As empires clash and arcane mysteries reveal themselves, these characters are tested again and again and soon discover that the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.
The Draconis Memoria is a remarkable new epic fantasy series with steampunk flavor, full of the phenomenal worldbuilding and non-stop action that have gained Anthony Ryan a global fan base. 

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan is the type of fantasy that will satisfy even the most demanding reader. Ryan envisioned a very dark world, an odd combination of futuristic and steampunk elements with bits of swashbuckling adventure thrown into the mix that actually works extremely well. In some aspects, it seems to be ahead of our times, what with government and democracy being long forgotten, but paradoxically, things like the social structure call back times long past. There are illiterate servants, steampunk gadgets, and yet women seem completely emancipated and considered equal in every way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: Garden of Dreams and Desires

Garden of Dreams and Desires (Crescent City, #3)
Author: Kristen Painter
Series: Crescent City, #3
Released: April 5th 2015
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 368 pages
Source: Bought
Buy: Amazon

Tourists are disappearing at an alarming rate. While Augustine and his lieutenants attempt to find them, Harlow and the evil spirit possessing her remain Augustine's true focus. Freeing her from the spirit's grasp is all he can think about, especially with no real solution on the horizon.
Then he discovers the tourists are disappearing because the witches are stealing souls to cast a dangerous chaos spell. Before he can stop them, Harlow becomes their victim. Now he must race the clock to set her free and end the witches' machinations before the chaos spell strips every fae in New Orleans of their power and bring fae rule to an end.

It is so hard to say goodbye to favorites, worlds and characters we’ve grown to love and admire. Garden of Dreams and Desires is a worthy conclusion to a beloved trilogy, despite being far from perfect. Painter continues in her usual style, with multiple perspectives and several plotlines, but she pushes it a bit farther in this book, unintentionally alienating us from our two heroes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: The Killer in Me

The Killer in Me
Author: Margot Harrison
Series: Standalone
Released: July 12th 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Length: 368 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.
Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.
But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

With the rising popularity of YA mysteries/thrillers and the never-ending demands for a creepy and suspenseful read, The Killer in Me was pretty much guaranteed to succeed before it was even finished. The few early reviews that could be found had nothing but praise for Harrison’s debut, emphasizing mind-boggling twists and a very creepy atmosphere. A reliable publisher and a truly fantastic cover only added to the conviction that we hold a future bestseller in our hands, a book destined to be loved by many, regardless of their age.

The truth, for this reader, is vastly different. There is no doubt whatsoever that Margot Harrison had a fantastic idea, but unfortunately, the execution was lacking. Starting with the characters and ending with confusingly written scenes, The Killer in Me hides far too many disappointments and offers too few concrete answers.