Monday, November 28, 2016

LGBT Monday: Outside the Lines


Outside the Lines (Boundaries, #3)Author: A.R. Barley
Series: Boundaries, #3
Released: October 31st 2016
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 172 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Mitch Dalton can't stop fantasizing about his sexy and confident drag queen neighbor. He wants to make a move, but he's had a lot less experience with men and isn't sure Chi-Chi would be interested in a guy who's never gone all the way—let alone a widower and struggling single father. And when Mitch's child care falls through, he needs Chi-Chi's help more than he needs a boyfriend.
Chi-Chi Ramirez has his own struggles: getting his degree one class at a time, working too many jobs and performing at a nightclub to make his Broadway dreams come true. Mitch's offer of a nanny position is too good to pass up, even if seeing Mitch every day and not being able to touch him is torture. But when even a simple handshake feels like pure sex, soon touching is all either of them can think about.
A one-night stand, a quick fling—that's all Chi-Chi can give if he's going to leave town for New York City. But once they finally get a taste of each other, what if Mitch wants more?

Outside the Lines is a fairly straightforward M/M romance with plenty of the usual tropes and an unusual amount of charm. It is a fairly short, afternoon read that will satisfy your craving for warm romance that includes a whole family and their everyday trials. I myself can never resist such books, especially when one of the MCs has adorable, realistically written kids.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Choose Your Own Adventure With Romeo and/or Juliet (review)


Romeo and/or Juliet: A choosable-path adventureAuthor: Ryan North
Series: Standalone
Released: November 10th 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet got really buff instead of moping around the castle all day? What if they teamed up to take over Verona with robot suits?
In this New York Times bestselling version of Romeo and Juliet, you get to choose where the story goes. Packed with exciting choices, fun puzzles, secret surprises, terrible puns and more than a billion possible storylines, Romeo and/or Juliet offers a new experience every time you read it. And, as an added bonus, all the different endings feature beautiful and quirky illustrations by some of the best artists working today, including New York Times bestsellers Kate Beaton, Noelle Stevenson, Randall Munroe, and Jon Klassen.
Whatever your adventure, you're guaranteed to find lots of romance, epic fight scenes and plenty of questionable decision-making by highly emotional teens.

New York Times bestselling Romeo and/or Juliet is a choose your own adventure type of deal, a ridiculously entertaining take (or takes, since there are plenty of them) on a classic that’s pretty ridiculous in and of itself. A classic it may be, but the word timeless doesn’t apply to this particular work, and the older I get, the more annoyed I am by Romeo and Juliet both.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jump Stations and Wormholes in Gemina by A. Kaufman and J. Kristoff


Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Authors: Amie Kaufman
                Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files, #2
Released: October 20th 2016
Publisher: Knopf BfYR
Length: 608 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.
Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.
Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless. 

Gemina, the sequel to last year’s hugely successful Illuminae, follows in the footsteps of its predecessor well enough to satisfy even the most demanding reader. Just like Illuminae, Gemina combines texts, images, various fonts and different storytelling strategies. They all come together to form a narrative unlike any other, a constant source of surprise and awe, not to mention entertainment.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Time travel and romance in The Last Beginning by Lauren James


The Last Beginning (The Next Together, #2)Author: Lauren James
Series: The Next Together
Released: October 6th 2016
Publisher: Walker Books
Length: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

The epic conclusion to Lauren James' debut The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel.
Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove's investigation? 
For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.

For me, The Next Together by Lauren James was one of those gorgeous, magical reading experiences that you just don’t see coming. As a debut, it was a dream come true, a story of one romance in four different places and four different timescapes, often centuries apart. The Last Beginning follows in its predecessor’s amazing footsteps, perhaps with a tiny bit less romance and magic, but with so much heart that it doesn’t really matter by the end.


Monday, November 21, 2016

LGBT Monday: When the Dust Settles


When the Dust Settles (Timing, #3)Author: Mary Calmes
Series: Timing, #3
Released: November 16 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 107 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon
        Dreamspinner Press

Glenn Holloway’s predictable life ended the day he confessed his homosexuality to his family. As if that wasn’t enough, he then poured salt in the wound by walking away from the ranch he’d grown up on, to open the restaurant he’d always dreamed of. Without support from his father and brother, and too proud to accept assistance from anyone else, he had to start from scratch. Over time things worked out: Glenn successfully built a strong business, created a new home, and forged a life he could be proud of.
Despite his success, his estrangement from the Holloways is still a sore spot he can’t quite heal, and a called-in favor becomes Glenn’s worst nightmare. Caught in a promise, Glenn returns to his roots to deal with Rand Holloway and comes face-to-face with Mac Gentry, a man far too appealing for Glenn’s own good. It could all lead to disaster—disaster for his tenuous reconnection with his family and for the desire he didn’t know he held in his heart.

By now, even the little birdies know that I’m addicted to all things Mary Calmes. Her special brand of romance – intense and uncompromising – pulls me in every single time. I must admit, in the interest of full disclosure, that I’ve already read this beauty twice, despite giving it mere 3.5 stars. With Mary, it’s not about objective opinions or reason, there’s a magnetic pull between her characters that’s just so very contagious.

Monday, November 14, 2016

LGBT Monday: Beyond Magenta (Transgender Teens Speak Out)


Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak OutAuthor: Susan Kuklin
Released: August 6th 2016
Publisher: Walker UK
Length: 182 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Book Depository
         Amazon

A groundbreaking work of LGBT literature takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens.
Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender
, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves. 

Beyond Magenta is the very first non-fiction book reviewed here in the five years of The Nocturnal Library’s existence, and I couldn’t have picked a better one for the honor. It consists of six stories about six transgender, genderqueer or gender nonconforming teens, accompanied by gorgeous, honest photographs and several comments by the author. The stories are told in first person by the teens themselves, interspersed here and there by the author’s brief comments and observations.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

You Got Some Romance In My Fantasy by Rob J. Hayes


Hello, favorite people! I've missed you all like crazy while I was off conquering the world, but that's a story for some other day. Right now, I am thrilled to welcome Rob J. Hayes, author of the wonderful The Ties That Bind series. Rob is here to talk about the second book in his It Takes a Thief series and my favorite type of romance: the stable, lasting kind, built on friendship and understanding.


You Got Some Romance In My Fantasy by Rob J. Hayes


It's recently come to my attention that my fantasy/steampunk heist caper, It Takes a Thief to Catch a Sunrise, has been placed in the Romance genre by Amazon. I'm not entirely sure how it got there, but after thinking about it a bit I started to wonder if it did actually belong there.

The book follows a thieving couple, Jacques Revou and Isabel de Rosier, as they charlatan their way into high society to steal priceless treasures from the aristocracy. It's a little like Bonnie and Clyde meets Ocean's Eleven. But the reason it might actually belong in the Romance genre is that Jacques and Isabel are very much in love and I've really tried to make that fact stand out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sorcerers and Monsters in A Shadow Bright and Burning


A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1)Author: Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom on Fire, #1
Released: September 20 2016
Publisher: Random House
Length: 407 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. 
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.
Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.
But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?
Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces Henrietta Howel, a powerful, unforgettable heroine, and an entertaining world filled with magic, monsters, and mayhem. 

A Shadow Bright and Burning, Jessica Cluess’ debut novel, lures us in with a gorgeous cover, but easily keeps our attention with stupendous worldbuilding and an abundance of witty charm. A trip to Victorian London, enriched by sorcery, ancient monsters and a grumpy hobgoblin, is precisely what I would recommend to all lovers of historical fantasy.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dear Charlie Blog Tour Review


Dear Charlie
Author: N. D. Gomes
Series: Standalone
Released: October 20th 2016
Publisher: Mira INK
Length: 222 pages
Source: Publisher for review

Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.
At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed.
Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong. 

School shootings have been the plague of our world for far too long, but unlike diseases and natural disasters, they always leave us with someone to blame. We’ve all grieved with the families of those who were lost, but few of us stop to think about the parents and siblings of shooters. Dear Charlie offers a new perspective, a painful look into the devastation and shame of one such family, faced with the condemnation and the hate while also struggling with grief.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Magnificent Follow Up: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin


The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Series: Broken Earth, #2
Released: August 16th 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 448 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS... FOR THE LAST TIME.
The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.
It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.
The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.

From the critically acclaimed author of The Fifth Season comes a follow up novel that will thrill every old fan and attract many new ones into this fabulous world of seismic catastrophes and magic. N.K. Jemisin put her considerable experience to good use and created a sequel worthy of all the awards that now shine on the cover of its predecessor. The Obelisk Gate is a symphony, a literary achievement that will endure the test of time.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mind Games of a Sociopath in: Black Flowers, White Lies by Y. Ventresca


Black Flowers, White LiesAuthor: Yvonne Ventresca
Series: Unknown
Released: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Length: 272 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.
When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.
Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

With its intriguing title and gorgeous cover, Black Flowers, White Lies immediately draws our attention and promises to be a great paranormal story, a frightening psychological thriller and a thorough exploration of loss and grief, all rolled into one. It is a pretty tall order for a relatively small book, so feeling mildly disappointed in the end doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Black Flowers, White Lies could have been a much better work, but it fell a bit short in execution and characterization.

Monday, October 3, 2016

LGBT Monday (YA): As I Descended


As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Series: Standalone
Released: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Mira INK
Length: 384 pages
Source: Publisher for review

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

For someone who doesn’t enjoy retellings at all, it’s odd that I keep finding Shakespeare-inspired books that thrill me and make me rethink my position. After Cat Winters’ The Steep and Thorny Way, As I Descended shows us that classics are classics for a reason and that things like ambition and jealousy are inherently human, and therefore always interesting and relevant.