Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: Rites of Passage

Rites of PassageAuthor: Joy N. Hensley
Published: September 9th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Lenght: 416 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.
Sometimes, though not nearly often enough, a book grabs my attention from start to finish and refuses to let go. Rites of Passage is one of those books that make you experience and react strongly to everything that happens, but also forces you to realize some harsh truths about yourself, truths you could have kept hidden and unacknowledged otherwise.

In other words, it made me face the fact that I’m a wuss.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Guest Post: Naomi Clark, Author of Undertow

Hello, nocturnal librarians! 

I'm honored to welcome Naomi Clark, author of the fabulous new urban fantasy, Undertow. By now, you all know that urban fantasy is my favorite genre, so I'm always thrilled to support authors like Naomi. 


Title: Undertow
Series: Ethan Banning, #1
Published: August 25th 2014
Publisher: Ragnarok
Buy: Amazon

Private Investigator Ethan Banning is a desperate man.
He’s desperate to rid himself of the demon possessing him. He’s desperate to stop the nightmares and the evil urges that fill him. He’s so desperate, he’s agreed to quit smoking and drinking in exchange for help.
Professor Benedict Walters thinks he can exorcise Ethan with clean living and ancient history, but he won’t do it for free. Ethan’s got to track down Heather, a missing colleague of Walters in the quaint and creepy seaside town of Beacon’s Point. It should be simple...but Heather may not want to be found.
Even if Ethan can crack the case, he’s still got to deal with a trainee necromancer, his own fading self-control, and an ancient entity that terrifies Ethan’s own demonic denizen.
Crack the case? Hells, P.I. Ethan Banning may not even survive it.

When I first started writing stories set in Ethan Banning’s world, I was fairly sure they would never see the light of day. That meant I felt free to throw in all kinds of crazy elements that made me happy, rather than trying to write to match what was on the market at the time. That’s why you’ve got a private detective, his pet dog, and his own personal demon in the first place. Ethan’s world, and particularly Undertow, is full of themes and motifs that fascinate and enchant me, as well as things to just give Ethan a hard time.

One of the pivotal themes in Undertow is the ocean, its power over mankind and the danger it poses. Ethan’s journey to the rundown town of Beacon’s Point brings him right to the edge of the ocean, and questioning whether humanity has any business there. For Ethan, the sea is full of horrors and mysteries, and since he has plenty of both in his life already, he’s happy to stay as far from the sea as possible.

But me, I love the ocean! Even knowing it’s full of riptides and creatures that could swallow me whole, I still love the ocean. And part of that love definitely stems from the sense of mystery the sea has. There’s so much we don’t know about the animals and plant life down there. So much mythology and folklore connected to it, from mermaids to giant squid to sunken cities. Pirates, sea dragons, the Bloop…There’s so much to love! And of course there’s that primal connection we humans all have to the sea; it’s where we came from, after all. Is it any wonder it still exerts such a hold on our imaginations?

But still, there is that dark side to the ocean (which lends itself so well to Undertow!). You only have to hear the first few bars of the Jaws theme tune to feel shivery. Down in the abyss there are alien fish that look like they’ve sprung straight from HR Giger’s nightmares. The unwary drown. Even the strongest of ships can sink at the whim of the waves. And yet we go back there, again and again, take our holidays there, swim around like it’s as safe as a swimming pool, and play with dolphins like we belong there just as much as we do on the land.

Why? Are we crazy? I like to think it’s that primal connection again, pulling us back to where we started, even though it’s not our world anymore. So the ocean creates these contradictions in us, fascinating us, thrilling us, inspiring us, but ultimately, it’s not for us. That’s the feeling Ethan has and that’s the feeling I tried to create in Undertow. Because whilst I love nothing better than a day at the seaside, Undertow isn’t supposed to be a happy story and it’s the dark side of the ocean I wanted to invoke. 

I had a lot of fun researching old religions and rituals that centred on the ocean, and a lot more fun putting Ethan through the wringer as he comes face-to-face with the terrors beneath the water. More than that – it was fun to work those mythological aspects into the real world, and I hope I’ve done it in a way that shows both my love of the sea and Ethan’s fear of it.

Naomi Clark lives in Cambridge and is a mild-mannered office worker by day, but a slightly crazed writer by night. She has a perfectly healthy obsession with giant sea creatures and a preference for vodka-based cocktails. When she's not writing, Naomi is probably either reading or watching '80s cartoon shows—sometimes she manages to do all three at once.

As always, thank you for stopping by and thanks to Naomi for sharing her thoughts with us. Like Ethan, I'm more than a little affraid of the sea and the ocean. I guess it's fear of the unknown, and it's perfectly understandable, but not at all pleasant. I can't wait to join Ethan on this adventure.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Mill River Redemption Blog Tour Review

Hi everyone!
I'm extremely proud to be part of The Mill River Redemption blog tour, organized by the publisher.

Author: Darcie Chan
Series: Mill River
Published: August 26th 2014
Publisher: Sphere
Lenght: 388 pages
Source: Publisher for  review

Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie's aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up - until a shocking tragedy tears them apart.
Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother's will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie's safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them . . .

The only thing I needed to know about Mill River Redemption before deciding to read it was that it’s perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy. Trust me, that’s pretty much all you need to know as well, but here, I’ll share a few more details about this marvelous read just to be safe. What can I say, I’m generous like that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: The Hot Zone

The Hot Zone (Rainshadow, #3; Harmony, #11)Author: Jayne Castle
Series: Rainshadow, #3
             Harmony, #11
Published: August 26th 2014
Publisher: Piatkus
Lenght: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
The world of Harmony has its wonders, one of them being Rainshadow Island. Just beneath its surface, a maze of catacombs hides a dangerous secret...…
Halloween—with its tricks and treats—is a dust bunny’s dream come true. Just ask Lyle, Sedona Snow’s faithful sidekick. But for Sedona, it’s a nightmare. Though her new job managing a small hotel and tavern on Rainshadow is helping her move on from her tragic past, a bizarre disaster down in the catacombs has brought a pack of rowdy ghost hunters to her inn.
And now, Sedona’s ex has arrived on the island, claiming he wants to get back together, just as a newcomer appears to have a strong interest in her. Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss in town. He has his own agenda when it comes to Sedona, but even the best-laid plans are no match for the passion that springs up on Rainshadow….

I went into this book blindly, with no prior knowledge of this author, series, or the world she created. It’s not something I normally do, especially not this late in a series, but the synopsis was too alluring to pass up and I fervently hoped it could function as a standalone. As it turns out it can, or at least the main storyline can since it focuses on two previously unknown point of view characters.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Short and Exciting: A Curse Awakened Blog Tour

A Curse Awakened (Weird Girls #0.4)Author: Cecy Robson
Series: Weird Girls, #0.4
Published: August 18th 2014
Publisher: Loveswept
Lenght: 94 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Discover Cecy Robson’s sensational Weird Girls series—or return to where the magic first began—with this eBook original prequel novella about four sisters coming to grips with their unique supernatural powers.
Celia Wird shouldn’t possess the ability to transform into a tigress. Her three sisters should never be able to burst into flames, heal wounds, or transform common objects into deadly weapons. And yet they do.
Before they were born, the Wird Sisters were cursed by a spell that was intended to destroy them, not endow them with extraordinary powers. The sisters’ magic is untamed and explosive at best, and time is running out for them to take command.
Vampires have targeted Celia’s sweet, tragically human ex-boyfriend Danny. The sisters rush to his aid, but in order to take down the vamps, first they must face their dark past and break a spell that’s screwing up their powers. Except this curse wasn’t meant to be broken . . . and the witch who cast it isn’t done toying with them yet.
A Curse Awakened is another prequel novella in Cecy Robson's Weird Girls series (one was released before the first novel). It takes place right before the girls gained their full powers, which I thought was very interesting. The curse that was placed on them by a distant relative remained more on less a mystery until now, and it was great to learn more about it. The curse, it seems, actually backfired, but while the girls didn’t die like they should have, they didn’t reach their full potential either. So when Celia’s first boyfriend Danny (fans of the series undoubtedly know and love the shy geek) comes to her for help because the vampires kidnapped his father, the girls have to find a way to deal with the curse and become stronger before they run to his rescue.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nocturnal Quotes: The Oversight Edition

Hello, lovelies!

It's time for our second ever Nocturnal Quote, courtesy of Le Non Design. For this week, I've chosen a quote from a historical urban fantasy novel I loved, The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher. I reviewed The Oversight just yesterday - if you missed it, you can find my review HERE.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: The Oversight

Title: The Oversight
Series: Oversight Trilogy, #1
Published: May 6th 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Publisher for review
Lenght: 448 pages
Buy: Amazon
The Book Depository

Only five still guard the border between the worlds. And when they fall, so do we all... The Oversight is a gothic fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
"The end always comes faster than you think."
Once there were hundreds of members of the Oversight, the brave souls who guard the borders between the mundane and the magic. Now there are only five. And their numbers are dwindling further still.
When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight's London headquarters, she might answer their hopes for a new recruit, or she could be the instrument of their downfall.
In his first novel for adults, Charlie Fletcher (The Stoneheart Trilogy) spins a tale of witch-hunters, supra-naturalists, mirror-walkers and magicians. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all.

The Oversight is Charlie Fletcher’s first foray into adult fiction, but the control he has over his complex narrative is astonishing. Told from multiple perspectives, The Oversight is a complicated web of episodes that combine perfectly into a breathtaking and well-executed story. Admittedly, due to its complexity, the beginning might be a bit slower for some, but once the pieces start coming together, The Oversight becomes practically unputdownable.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Shifting Shadows

Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy ThompsonAuthor: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson
Published: September 2nd 2014
Publisher: Ace Hardcover
Lenght: 464 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger…
A collection of all-new and previously published short stories featuring Mercy Thompson, “one of the best heroines in the urban fantasy genre today” (Fiction Vixen Book Reviews), and the characters she calls friends…
Includes the new stories…
“Roses in Winter”
…and reader favorites
“Fairy Gifts”
“Alpha and Omega”
“Seeing Eye”
“The Star of David”
“In Red, with Pearls”

Shifting Shadows is a collection of short stories and novellas from the world of Mercy Thompson. Most of these stories (like Alpha & Omega, the Charles & Anna prequel) were previously published, but the four new ones (Silver, Roses in Winter, Redemption and Hollow) are motivation enough for running to your nearest bookstore on Semptember 2nd.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Short and (Bitter)Sweet: Chantress Alchemy & The Beautiful Ashes

Chantress Alchemy (Chantress, #2)Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Series: Chantress, #2
Published: May 6th 2014
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Lenght: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Lucy races against time and magic in this sequel to the “richly and thoughtfully written” (Publishers Weekly) Chantress.
Lucy is the last Chantress, the only remaining girl who can sing magic into the world. Since she defeated the evil Lord Scargrave, England has changed—and not for the better. With crops failing and the people rebelling, Lucy is called urgently back to King Henry’s court. His Inner Council is convinced that making gold through alchemy will save England. But a critical element to the alchemical process has been stolen. Lucy is tasked with finding it with her magic… or else. And until she succeeds, the castle is on lockdown.
Court too has changed. Scargrave's brutal Chantress-hunter has become King Henry's closest advisor. Lucy’s beloved Nat has fallen out of favor and is shunned by his colleagues; their romance means trouble for both of them. Worst of all, something goes wrong with Lucy’s magic. The palace is a labyrinth, and there’s a monster at its heart — a monster who may have the power to defeat Lucy once and for all. 
Amy Butler Greenfield returns to the beguiling world of Chantress for a suspenseful tale of courtly intrigue, music, and magic in Chantress Alchemy.

Chantress Alchemy, the sequel to Amy Butler Greenfield’s YA historical fantasy debut, is one of my hotly anticipated releases in 2014. Everything I loved about Chantress - the gorgeous setting, fabulous characters and Butler Greenfield’s elegant writing – is present in this sequel as well. Not only is Chantress Alchemy as good as its predecessor, I dare say it’s a much better book in some regards.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Silver Shadows

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines, #5
Published: July 29th 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Hardcover, 380 pgs
Buy: Amazon

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .
Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

What on God’s green earth is going on with Richelle Mead? She keeps throwing these beautiful, dark works at us and expecting us to just roll with the punches! Take is easy on us, Richelle. We readers are such sensitive creatures.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: Don't Call Me Baby

Don't Call Me BabyAuthor: Gwendolyn Heasley
Series: Standalone
Published: April 22nd 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.
Imogene's mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene's crush saw her "before and after" orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.
When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online...until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she's been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.
Don't Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life.

The first thing you need to know about Don’t Call Me Baby is that it’s not Young Adult at all, it’s actually much closer to a Middle Grade read, and if you approach it as such, you’re going to be a very happy camper. If, however, you’re looking for a YA read with everything that entails (including kissing, yes), you’re going to have to look elsewhere. I was forewarned and fully prepared for a younger protagonist, which is probably (at least in part) why I ended up enjoying this book immensely.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Of Metal and Wishes

Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes, #1)Author: Sarah Fine
Series: Of Metal and Wishes, #1
Published: August 5th 2014
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry 
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.
Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.
As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.
There is a ghost in the slaughterhouse. I kid you not. After our time in Suicide City with Lela Santos, this is where Sarah Fine chose to send us. A slaughterhouse. With a ghost inside. Can someone please give me a hug?