Monthly Archives: April 2015

Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane

18588535Title: Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows, Book 10)
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Published: re-released on April 20, 2015
Pages: 255
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Cambridge professors Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith have quite a reputation for sleuthing.  And their relationship makes them a rather formidable pair.  When an invitation to stay with a friend of the Stewart family uncovers two suspicious apparent suicides, the two simply can’t help trying to solve the case.  But there are aspects of this one that hit a personal nerve and uncovering the truth may be a bit more challenging than they expect.

A rather enjoyable read.  It’s one part Sherlock Holmes, one part Poirot, and one part romance.  The mystery is really what drives the plot, but the setting and characters really bring it to life.  I definitely foresee myself reading more of these two in the future.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for IreneTitle: A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, Book 1)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Published: February 24, 2015
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tor Books
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

In a world of parallel universes, there is one constant: London. Though every world is very different, they all have a city named London in the same place and it serves as the loose thread that holds them all together. And the thread is loose because there are only a few who can travel between them. Kell is one such Traveler, and has become the ambassador (and an adoptee) of the royalty of Red London to carry correspondence back and forth with Grey London and White London. But on his visits, Kell engages in a hobby of smuggling artifacts back and forth, despite the objections and warnings of his adopted brother. But neither of them know the true extent of the trouble Kell might wade into without even thinking…

I have to start by saying I LOVED THIS. A high fantasy filled with magic, intrigue, royalty, and betrayal? Sign me up over and over again. But more than that, Schwab has created a world that is well-developed and has that ring of truth that is so important when writing speculative fiction of any kind. The complexity of the characters and the relationship dynamics are just as important to the story as the world serving as the backdrop, and there are no disappointments there, either.

I highly, highly recommend this to anyone who has even the slightest interest in fantasy. I think it’s a fair bet you will not be disappointed.

Snowcroft Safehouse by Christi Snow

24528173Title: Snowcroft Safehouse (Snowcroft, Book 2)
Author: Christi Snow
Published: April 24, 2015
Pages: 235
Publisher: Christi Snow
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Declan ‘Dex’ Jasper was the lead singer if the immensely popular Black Rainbows until a year ago when tragedy struck. An explosion during one of their concerts left the entire band dead with a member of an organized crime family to blame. But what the world doesn’t know is that Dex survived and has been hidden away in witness protection. That hasn’t been the best of journeys for him, either, leaving him now transferred to the protection of an FBI agent who has secured him a cover story as a middle school band teacher in a small New Mexico town. Dex isn’t thrilled about the prospect, but he’ll do what it takes to be able to testify at the upcoming trial to get justice for the friends he lost. Keeping a low profile might be much harder than he expected once he realizes how invested the town is in the band program and when he meets Jack, the proprietor of the town’s bar and grill. Jack is everything Dex never knew he wanted in a man. But will getting involved with Jack risk Dex being found out? Could hit put Jack and his daughter Kelsey in danger?

I loved the first book in this series. It was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was certainly very excited to go back to Snowcroft once again. I will say this book did not disappoint in that regard. It’s got a different feel to it than the first book, but I think that’s largely due to the focus of the story (there’s no real mystery to solve here). I was glad to see Law back–and I would have like to see more of him, but I understand there’s a third book coming for him–as well as the Snowcroft locals that popped up in the first book. Getting to know Jack better, was also a welcome bonus, too.

This doesn’t need to be read after the first book; the stories aren’t strictly connected. It can be helpful to have some of the backstory of the town and others, but it’s not necessary.

I am definitely looking forward to book three…

Four: The Transfer by Veronica Roth

18080920Title: Four: The Transfer (Divergent, Book 0.1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: September 3, 2013
Pages: 55
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Go back to where it all begin. Before Tris transferred to Dauntless from Abnegation, there was Tobias Eaton. This short tells the story of his test, the circumstances of his choice, and his start in his new faction.

Having read this after finishing the main series, I found it to be quite poignant (as I did with all of the Four-related prequel stories). Even though they’re short, there’s a great deal of backstory and character motivation that comes out here. And since I left Allegiant feeling like it’s as much about Tobias as it is Tris, it was nice to go back and connect where he is at the end with where he was in the beginning. Definitely recommended for fans of the series, especially those who may have struggled with the way it ended.

Nobody’s Hero by J. Leigh Bailey

24637092Title: Nobody’s Hero
Author: J. Leigh Bailey
Published: April 27, 2015
Pages: 209
Publisher: Carina Press
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Brad has left his family and what many would see as a privileged life behind. Now, he’s arrived in his college town at the beginning of the summer with no place to stay and the hope of a job. But the night before his interview he helps out a guy in trouble in the parking lot of the diner where he was sleeping in his truck. Danny is interested–and Brad is, too, to be honest–but Brad can’t go down that road. He did once before and it ended badly for everyone. He’s in town for school, and that’s it. He’s not looking for complications. But complications are exactly what he finds when he gets the job and it comes with a place to stay above the boss’s garage–and Danny is the boss’s son…

Wonderful. I really enjoyed this and I found myself rooting for both Brad and Danny at every single turn. These two are such so adorable and they’ve both been through so much that one just can’t help hoping they get what they need. Brad’s family is infuriating–to say the very least–and is such a stark contrast to Danny’s. Well-written and engaging, I found myself easily engrossed in this story set in a town not far from where I grew up. And it all just rings so true.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant_DemiJacket_WetProofTest.inddTitle: Allegiant (Divergent, Book 3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: October 22, 2013
Pages: 526
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

After learning the truth about their city, Four and Tris need to go beyond its walls to see what is beyond. They are Divergent and are the point of the experiment, after all. So with the help of a few others, they will defy the city’s new leadership and make contact with the outside world. But is what they find the truth? After everything they’ve been through, they’re almost conditioned now to question authority and what they’re told. And that’s something that could save their lives…or just as easily get them killed.

I enjoyed this so much more than the second installment. The action picks back up here and there is the unique factor of switching the narration between the viewpoints of Tris and Four. As a reader, I felt like it was great to get more insight into Four’s thought process and by following them both, the reader knows more about what is going on than in the previous books. This was also very interesting to me because as I reached the end of the book, I felt like the overall story is just as much (or perhaps even more so) about Four as it is Tris, and understanding him better made the ending so much easier to accept. I know many people don’t like the way this ended, but I honestly can’t see it ending any other way. (And here’s hoping the films stay true to the books in this regard and don’t try to change it to mollify the masses…)

Promises by Marie Sexton

7493186Title: Promises (Coda Books, Book 1)
Author: Marie Sexton
Published: January 7, 2010
Pages: 228
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Very few times can I say I’ve read a book that just pulled me into its world as quickly as this one did. Jared and Matt just have this quality that makes me not only want to know what happens to them, but also feel totally invested in their story. As someone who spent most of his life in a small town, I could definitely relate to Jared’s reservations about the homophobia and the way people in his community gossip – his fears and worries come across as very realistic. The relationship in this book is developed masterfully, and I certainly look forward to continuing this series and spending more time in Coda.

Yogi and the Bear by Nix Knox

25271637Title: Yogi and the Bear
Author: Nix Knox
Published: April 21, 2015
Pages: 315
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ryan Powell is trying something new. Still trying to get over pain from a construction injury, he’s trying yoga at the behest of his doctor. He feels strange and out of place, but when the lights go out while he’s in the bathroom before his class, something even more unexpected happens–a brief sexual encounter with anonymous man in the dark. But the discovery that the man is also his yoga teacher, Nik, makes him decide that yoga is something he should give a real chance. Of course, he wants to give Nik more than a chance, too. But Nik is distant and guarded. He’s taken a self-imposed vow of chastity and has a past that he seems unwilling to share. If anything is going to happen, they will have to learn how to open up, trust, and rely on each other–something that just might prove too difficult for both of them.

The concept and the story here is great. I liked the way the two of them were sort of thrown together by unexpected circumstance and it became a spark that took the relationship forward. And I generally like the chemistry between the two of them. The sexual scenes were rather awkward, in my opinion, and there’s a whole split persona (but very clearly stated repeatedly not split personality) thing with Nik (as Julian) that was not only odd but also very uncomfortable. It left me a little unsettled, which I think did slightly impact my enjoyment of the story.

That said, I did like this overall. And if one can look past the awkwardness in the bedroom aspects of the characters’ relationship, it’s a good read.

Aftermath by Alexis Hall

18739317Title: Aftermath (Glitterland, Book 1.5)
Author: Alexis Hall
Published: October 28, 2013
Pages: 28
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

If you’ve read Glitterland, I’m sure you probably wanted more.  What happens next?  Do Ash and Darian truly reconcile?  Do they find a way to make their relationship work?  Well, wonder no longer.  This free short serves as an excellent follow-up to the novel and provides the resolution many readers (myself included) really wanted to see.  And it definitely hits the spot.  I won’t say more in order to avoid spoilers, but I will say it’s a must for anyone who read the story that comes before…

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

23209965Title: The Girl in the Road
Author: Monica Byrne
Published: May 20, 2014
Pages: 352
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

In the world of the future, two seemingly unconnected women embark on similar journeys. Meena, having been attacked and knowing someone is after her, heads west from India to Ethiopia, the country of her birth. Mariama runs away from home after a traumatic event and joins a shipping caravan headed across the Sarah to Ethiopia. Despite the parallels in their destination and circumstances, their travels aren’t happening at the same time. But there is more of a connection between these two women and their processes of self-discovery than two women who don’t know each other could ever realize.

Wow. That’s my honest initial reaction. This was great throughout; I finished it in less than two days and had a difficult time putting it down every time I needed to do so. There is just something so compelling about the voice of both of these characters (voices that are also incredibly distinct) that can pull a reader in and make you a part of this world. The very organic reveal of the connections between Meena and Mariama was also very well-written and refreshing. Even though I had some inklings of their connection a bit earlier, it didn’t all play out exactly as I expected, which I appreciate (I’m not one for too much predictability in a story). Very highly recommended, even for those who may not typically be fans of science fiction. The story here is in the foreground and the characters are definitely the focus.

Content Warning: There is a brief scene of sexual content that many may find objectionable. It’s not graphic and I personally think it speaks to the character involved in a way that its inclusion is not at all gratuitous.