Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Straight From Your Nightmares: Red Right Hand by Levi Black

Red Right Hand
Author: Levi Black
Series: No info
Released: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Length: 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Charlie Tristan Moore isn't a hero. She's a survivor. On a night when her demons from the past are triggered, she arrives home to something even more harrowing-an attack by three monstrous skinhounds, creatures straight out of nightmares. She fights but is outmatched. Just as hope seems lost, in sweeps The Man In Black, a rescuer even more monstrous and unlikely, dressed in a long, dark coat that seems to have a life of its own and with a black-bladed sword held in his terrible, red right hand. 
Her rescue comes at a cost. She must become his new Acolyte and embrace a dark magick she never knew she had inside her. To ensure she gives it her all, he takes her friend and possible love, Daniel, in thrall as a hostage to her obedience. The Man in Black, a Lovecraftian chaos god, claims to be battling his brethren gods, other horrors who are staging an incipient apocalypse. But is he truly the lesser of all evils or merely killing off the competition? Either way, will Charlie be strong enough to save herself, Daniel, and possibly the entire world?

Like so many other horror fans, I grew up reading Lovecraft’s tales, especially The Call of Cthulhu. First published in a pulp magazine in 1926, the story signified a new direction in horror fiction that later developed into a whole new subgenre, nowadays known as Lovecraftian horror. It is the type of horror that completely disregards the value of ordinary human life and paints humans as insignificant and small compared to the extraordinary and unfathomable universe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Heroines We Adore: Review of Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers

Behind the Throne (The Indranan War #1)
Author: K.B. Wagers
Series: Indranan War, #1
Released: August 2nd 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 405 pages
Source: Publisher for review

Meet Hail: Captain. Gunrunner. Fugitive.
Quick, sarcastic, and lethal, Hailimi Bristol doesn't suffer fools gladly. She has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire. That is, until two Trackers drag her back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir.
But trading her ship for a palace has more dangers than Hail could have anticipated. Caught in a web of plots and assassination attempts, Hail can't do the one thing she did twenty years ago: run away. She'll have to figure out who murdered her sisters if she wants to survive.
A gun smuggler inherits the throne in this Star Wars-style science fiction adventure from debut author K. B. Wagers. Full of action-packed space opera exploits and courtly conspiracy - not to mention an all-out galactic war - Behind the Throne will please fans of James S. A Corey, Becky Chambers and Lois McMaster Bujold, or anyone who wonders what would happen if a rogue like Han Solo were handed the keys to an empire . . .

Behind the Throne, K. B. Wagers’ sci-fi debut, fell into my hands after much praise from some of my most trusted peers. To describe my experience with it as love at first chapter would not be an exaggeration at all. Discovering books like it and pushing them at unsuspecting readers is why I took up blogging in the first place. It gives me great pleasure to share my delight over this title with all of you.

Monday, August 22, 2016

LGBT Monday: Don't Twunk With My Heart

Don't Twunk With My Heart (Loving You, #2)
Author: Renae Kaye
Series: Loving You, #2
Released: August 26th 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner

Length: 200 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon
         Dreamspinner Press

Kee Smith isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows who he used to be—the ignored gay son who chose a blue-collar job just because no one expected it, the submissive bottom who enjoyed large, masculine jocks who put him in his place, the sleek, fashionable twink who partied all night. But after his ex-boyfriend hit Kee and called him names, Kee retired from the social scene.
Back after a year’s hiatus, Kee still doesn’t know where he fits. His friends say he’s a twunk—a twink who put on muscle and turned into a hunk—but Kee is searching for somewhere to belong. Instead of going back to his usual type, Kee hooks up with twink Tate Stevens—a fashion-industry professional who works the image hard. It proves to be the best decision he’s ever made, and not just because he’s starting to regain his sexual confidence.
With Tate, Kee can open up about his fears and confusion without ridicule. Tate has his own fears about putting on weight and getting old. It will take work to make a relationship of opposites succeed, but they begin to realize the compromises will be worth it if they can be together. 

By now, Renae Kaye is a well known name in the gay romance genre. She writes light-hearted romances low on angst that leave her readers smiling and begging for more. To this day, her biggest success seems to be her debut, Loving Jay, a book that won readers over with fantastic characters, gentle and believable romance and just a spoonful of Aussie culture.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Release Day Review: The Sight

The Sight (Devil's Isle, #2)
Author: Chloe Neill
Series: Devil's Isle, #2
Released: August 16th 2016
Publisher: NAL
Length: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

The paranormal war that engulfed New Orleans seven years ago is over. But the battle for the city is just beginning . . .
Claire Connolly is a Sensitive, infected with magic when the Veil that divides humanity from the world beyond fell. Magic can easily consume and destroy a Sensitive, and if Claire’s secret is discovered she’ll be locked into the walled district of Devil’s Isle along with every other Paranormal left in the city.
Bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered Claire’s secret, but refused to turn her in. Together they saved New Orleans from the resurgence of magic that nearly destroyed it. But now a dangerous cult is on the rise, and it will take both Claire and Liam—and magical allies within Devil’s Isle’s towering walls—to defeat the occult threat before magic corrupts them both...

Chloe Neill is one of the best urban fantasy authors out there. She writes her books with a very sure hand and we as readers never once doubt her ability to use every scene to its maximum potential. Armed with experience and a whole lot of love for her characters, she writes one successful story after another. When you go to a bookstore for your urban fantasy fix, Neill is as safe a bet as they come.

Monday, August 15, 2016

LGBT Monday: Pawsitively in Love

Pawsitively in Love
Author:M.J. O'Shea
Narrator: Marc Schindler
Series: Standalone
Released: July 13th 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 6 hrs and 13 mins
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Audible

What Austin Lloyd lacks in academics, he makes up for in his love of the animals who frequent his pet salon. He’s not lucky in romance, though, and his family would like him to settle down with a good man. Austin—and his golden retriever, Maggie—couldn’t agree more.
Evan Partridge isn’t good at letting people in. His messy family life and the past that’s shaped him aren’t worth bringing up. But his pug, Dexter, sure likes the pet salon owner.
Austin and Evan get off to a rough start, but being friends soon turns into something more. Unfortunately, Evan’s secretive behavior nearly does the relationship in, and the budding love affair almost crashes and burns when Evan’s troubled sister shows up on his doorstep.
Not speaking to each other is killing them both, but Evan doesn't know how to keep Austin and help his sister at the same time. He just knows he has to try. Winning back Austin’s trust back, however, is going to take a whole lot of work. 

Pawsitively in Love is a cute new romance novel by M.J. O’Shea, author of Rock Bay, one of my favorite gay romance series. Although the title would lead you to the conclusion that it’s very light and entirely angst free, the book actually has several darker moments and a lot of issues for our two heroes to deal with.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Review: Vicarious

Vicarious (Vicarious, #1)
Author: Paula Stokes
Series: Vicarious, #1
Relased: August 16th 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 334 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together, the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States. 
Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you, for a price.
When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the neural recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.

There really aren’t that many YA books that embrace the harsh realities of the world we live in. Even when writing a sci-fi thriller, Paula Stokes is courageous enough to do so. She doesn’t embellish, she refuses to sugarcoat, and she throws the ugliest bits right in our faces. While I wouldn’t debate its appropriateness for younger teens (I still struggle with determining the lines for my kiddo), I applaud Stokes for taking us where so few YA authors have gone before.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: Rebellion

Rebellion (The Elysium Chronicles, #3)
Author: J.A. Souders
Series: Elysium Chronicles, #3
Released: July 12th 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 334 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

In this conclusion to J. A. Souders’s thrilling, twist-filled Elysium Chronicles series, Evie Winters and Gavin Hunter return to the isolated, dangerous underwater city that they fought so hard to escape.
Back in Elysium at last, Evie has finally found her true self hidden under layers and layers of false memories implanted by the woman she knew as Mother. Thanks to the intervention of her father, she knows the horrible truth about Mother and her insidious plans for her city. With the help of the love of her life, Gavin, and her best friend, Asher St. James, she’s determined to free her people from the cruel dictatorship of Mother’s laws. But how do you free people who don’t know they need rescuing?
Working with the growing Underground rebellion, Evie tries to remove Mother from her position by force—with disastrous results. As the body count rises, Evie must find a way to save Elysium before Mother destroys them all.

Almost three years have passed since the release of Revelations, the previous book in J. A. Souders’ Elysium chronicles trilogy, but loyal fans haven’t forgotten Evie, Gavin or Asher. Renegade gave us a chance to explore a gorgeous underwater view with a very dark side, and Revelations really developed our three main characters and set them on a dangerous path.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review: Curious Minds

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)
Author: Janet Evanovich

Series: Knight & Moon, #1
Released: August 16th 2016
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, teams up with Emmy-winning writer Phoef Sutton for a brand-new series of thrillers featuring the invincible and incompatible pairing of Knight and Moon.
Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.
What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it. 

Janet Evanovich is my go-to author for a funny, relaxing reading experience. I’ve been known to laugh like a lunatic while reading one of her books, sometimes loudly, and sometimes even in public (which I suppose explains my lack of social life). Her books are often plotted and executed like episodes of Looney Tunes, some more than others. Curious Minds follows the nonsensical path when it comes to character interactions, and sometimes even the plot. It’s precisely what one might expect from Evanovich, which unfortunately makes it a story we’ve all read before.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Audiobook review: What We Find

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing, #1)
Author: Robyn Carr

Series: Sullivan's Crossing, #1
Released: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Recorded Books
Length:10 hrs and 6 mins
Source: Bought
Buy: Audible

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a lawsuit - and experiencing levels of anxiety she's never faced before. She knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan's Crossing.
Named for Maggie's great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide Trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie's eccentric father, Sully. When she shows up unannounced, he welcomes her with open arms, and she relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life. But shortly after she arrives, Maggie's world is rocked once again, and she must take on more responsibility than she'd planned.
Though she's relieved a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, is willing to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man's eagerness to help - until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. Though Cal and Maggie both struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon...if only they can learn to find peace and healing - and perhaps love - with each other.

Robyn Carr is famous for her two series, Virgin River and Thunder Point. With Thunder Point nearing its end, I was so very excited to see that she’s starting a new series, with yet another small town community at its center. It was clear from the start that Sullivan’s Crossing has a whole lot of potential, with so many interesting characters already prepared to take the spotlight.

Monday, August 8, 2016

LGBT Monday: Adulting 101

Adulting 101
Author: Lisa Henry
Series: Standalone
Released: August 15th 2016
Publisher: Riptide
Length: 231 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Nick Stahlnecker is eighteen and not ready to grow up yet. He has a summer job, a case of existential panic, and a hopeless crush on the unattainable Jai Hazenbrook. Except how do you know that your coworker’s unattainable unless you ask to blow him in the porta-potty?
That’s probably not what Dad meant when he said Nick should act more like an adult.
Twenty-five-year-old Jai is back in his hometown of Franklin, Ohio, just long enough to earn the money to get the hell out again. His long-term goal of seeing more of the world is worth the short-term pain of living in his mother’s basement, but only barely.
Meeting Nick doesn’t fit in with Jai’s plans at all, but, as Jai soon learns, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to have the adventure of a lifetime.
This is not a summer romance. This is a summer friendship-with-benefits. It’s got pizza with disgusting toppings, Netflix and chill, and accidental exhibitionism. That’s all. There are no feelings here. None. Shut up.

When accomplished authors dare to step out of their comfort zone and try something completely different, the results can vary. Sometimes we get a book that isn’t quite up to standard and they quickly jump back to doing what they know. But sometimes we get such wonderful results, books that push boundaries for both authors and readers.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: The Last Days of Jack Sparks

The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Author: Jason Arnopp
Series: Standalone
Released: July 28th 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.
In 2014, Jack Sparks - the controversial pop culture journalist - died in mysterious circumstances. 
To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.
It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy. 
Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.
Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed - until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack's final hours.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is an original, genre-bending, terrifying new novel by Jason Arnopp, a book that defies descriptions and explanations. It follows a very unlikeable journalist and writer as he tries to prove that there’s no such thing as ghost, or any other supernatural entity. Jack sees it as his mission to debunk any claims of supernatural encounters and he’s often very rude as he goes about it.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Review: The Steep and Thorny Way

The Steep & Thorny Way
Author: Cat Winters
Series: Standalone
Released: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Length: 335 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Scene: Oregon, 1923.
Dramatis personae:
Hanalee Denney, daughter of a white woman and an African American man
Hank Denney, her father—a ghost
Greta Koning, Hanalee’s mother
Clyde Koning, doctor who treated Hank Denney the night he died, now Hanalee’s stepfather
Joe Adder, teenage boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank Denney
Members of the Ku Klux Klan
Townspeople of Elston, Oregon
Question: Was Hank Denney’s death an accident…or was it murder most foul?

Cat Winters’ books are always such things of beauty, and The Steep and Thorny Way is no exception. The quality of her prose and the depth of her research can only be compared to Ruta Sepetys, at least as far as historical YA goes.

Inspired heavily by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way is a strong enough book to stand entirely on its own and avoid any predictability. While she does use Hamlet’s themes in what could be considered a retelling (the death of protagonist’s father, potential murderer married to mother, plans of revenge), Winters doesn’t rely too heavily on them and constantly adds her own little twists.