Tag Archives: published: 2014-08

Second Chances by Nate Tanner

Second Chances

Second Chances by Nate Tanner

Published by: Nate Tanner on August 13, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Neil is in a tough spot. He’s nearly broke and all on his own. Which is why he accepts a job tutoring Maddy Warbeck, the daughter of a wealthy family and who is perhaps the most spoiled person Nate has ever met. But he’s determined to see things through no matter how many tricks Maddy tries to play on him or how much she tries to reject his help. And then there’s Maddy’s older brother, Dane. Though Neil is put off by Dane at first, after receiving Dane’s help with securing Maddy’s cooperation, Neil begins to see that he’s nothing like his sister. And as they spend more time together, they find they share a mutual attraction that quickly burns bright.

But Dane’s father wants only what he perceives as a perfect family. And Dane being with Neil does not fit into that picture. So when he cuts Dane off, Neil is there for him. But being there for Dane means bringing him into a whole new life–one that is almost the exact opposite of the luxury in which he grew up. And while Neil knows Dane is not a shallow guy, he finds that their circumstances put a strain on their fledgling relationship and he’s hard pressed to try and fix things. Can they find a way to make things work? Or are their worlds just so totally different that they will never be able to find the common ground necessary to carry on a relationship?

This is an easy and entertaining read. The back-and-forth between Maddy and Neil in the beginning is a combination of frustrating (she is kind of a brat) and entertaining (Neil can definitely hold his own). And although I wondered how the relationship would be framed after reading the blurb, I can say that I was pleased to see it start and grow somewhat organically, never feeling forced. There are a few points in the book where I thought things moved a bit quickly, but overall I finished feeling like this was an interesting story and well worth the time to give it a read.

Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden

Murder on the Mountain

Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on August 22, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Jesse Morales expected his time volunteering for a week on the summer of Mt. Washington to be somewhat uneventful. But when he discovers a corpse out in the wilderness in the middle of the night, the aspiring mystery novelist finds himself right in the center of a real-life murder mystery. And when he meets one of the investigating police officers, Kyle Dubois, he wonders if there might be even more in store for him before he goes back home.

When Kyle heads out to the crime scene, he’s not entirely sure what to expect. And he certainly doesn’t expect to find himself drawn to the young man who found the body. But despite his annoying penchant for wanting to get involved in the investigation, Kyle cannot deny that Jesse is attractive. So much that he thinks he may need to do something about it–something he’ll have to explain to his partner, as Jesse would be Kyle’s first relationship since his wife died.

Despite Kyle’s better judgment, he decided to give Jesse a chance. And despite what should probably be Jesse’s better judgment, he inserts himself among the suspects, hoping he might be able to find out who committed the murder to solve the mystery and help Kyle–even if it means putting himself in grave danger.

This is probably one of the lighter murder mysteries that I’ve read in a while. It doesn’t have that dark feeling overshadowing it from the beginning like so many books of the genre tend to have as a feature. That’s not to say there aren’t some dark themes; they do crop up pretty strongly as one approaches the end of the book. But there’s space here for Kyle and Jesse to develop a relationship without it seeming completely morbid. And I have to say that I didn’t see some of the twists coming, which is something I appreciate in a good mystery novel.

Lock In by John Scalzi

Lock In

Book Info

Title: Lock In (Lock In, Book 1)
Author: John Scalzi
Published: August 26, 2014
Pages: 336
Publisher: Tor Books
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

Review

In the not too distant future, a new virus hits humanity. For most, the symptoms are nothing more than the inconvenience of the flu. But for approximately one percent of the population, the virus has devastating effects. It results in what is dubbed “Lock In”. Those with the condition are fully aware of their surroundings but are unable to move or respond in any way to what’s going on around them. Solutions are found, ranging from robotic vessels that those with “Haden’s syndrome” can control and maneuver to “Integrators” who can actually allow someone who is locked in to borrow their body and control them for a period of time. While the latter may help people feel like they get a more life-like experience, it creates a situation where it may be difficult to tell who is the actor in any situation–the Haden or the Integrator. When FBI agents Chris Shane and Leslie Vann are assigned a case with an Integrator for a suspect, they’re faced with just this question. But when more connections to others in the Haden movement are discovered, they quickly learn there is far more to their case than they ever could have imagined.

This is the first John Scalzi novel I’ve read, and I am certainly quite pleased with what I’ve found. The amount of effort and creativity that he’s put into constructing this future shows in the characters, their surroundings, and the story itself. While this is science fiction, there was no moment where I really found myself saying “this could never happen.” And when your goal is to present would could be a future on Earth, that’s a very important quality. The mystery here is filled with twists and turns, and sometimes just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you will learn you were wrong.

Definitely looking forward to the sequel for this one…

 

2 A.M at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Cat's Pajamas

Book Info

Title: 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas
Author: Marie-Helene Bertino
Published: August 5, 2014
Pages: 288
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Madeleine Altimari is a precocious young girl who aspires to be a jazz singer, inspired by her late mother who was also a performer. The death of her mother is still fresh, and her father is still coming to terms with it himself. Sarina Greene is Madeleine’s teacher, fresh off a divorce and preparing to attend a dinner with her old high school circle of friends (including her former crush and prom date). And the owner of The Cat’s Pajamas, Lorca, recently broke up with his girlfriend, is struggling to keep a connection with his son, and has just learned he may be forced to close down his club forever. The lives of these three people (and a large cast of supporting characters) intertwine in some very unexpected ways during the span of 24 hours on the day before Christmas Eve. Madeleine searches for the place where her voice can be heard. Sarina is wrestling with whether to reignite an old flame. And Lorca wants stability and opportunity for his son. Will any of them be able to find what they are looking for?

This story is broken down into timestamped snippets that jump around from character to character. It’s an interesting method of storytelling, but I did find it to be confusing at times to know what was going on (there are flashbacks thrown in that aren’t clearly indicated, as well). The side characters definitely add to the story, but the few scenes that solely focus on them with no connection back to one of the main characters also left me a bit puzzled at times. Overall, I did find this book to be engaging and entertaining, but part of me was left scratching my head at the end to really understand the point of it all. Perhaps that’s what happens with a day-in-the-life/slice-of-life novel. I ended up giving this three stars because of quality of the overall story balanced with the less-than-stellar execution.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Men of the Manor by Rob Rosen (editor)

20763770Title: Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads
Editor: Rob Rosen
Published: August 18, 2014
Pages: 232
Publisher: Cleis Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

It may be a faux pas for the upper class to fraternize with the help, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. And when it happens, it’s worth taking note. The Men of the Manoranthology gives readers thirteen short stories that explore these relationships, the power dynamics, and social norms involved. And what goes on behind closed doors, well, sometimes that’s just not proper at all.

This was a quick and enjoyable read. Because the stories are so short, I’m not going to review each one individually…it would be difficult to do that without spoiling most of them. But despite their brevity, the stories are engaging and unique. And the heat factor is definitely there, too. Worth picking up and taking the journey if you’re looking for something fun to get you through an afternoon.

Tour: Book Review & Giveaway: Deceived by L.A. Starkey

DeceivedTourBanner

Title: Deceived (Soul Keeper, Book 1)
Author: L.A. Starkey
Published: August 28, 2014
Pages: 505
Publisher: L.A. Starkey
Websites: Goodreads / Amazon

Synopsis:
They say a soul is the immaterial essence, the animating principle, the actuating cause of an individual life.

But what if you had to share yours with the one person you hated the most?

The soul mate principle states that for every one soul there is another that will recognize its match, hence creating the perfect union.

But what if you had two soul mates, which would you choose?

What if your choices had eternal ramification?

Deceived, the debut novel in the Soul Keeper Series, is a modern day love story about the implications of having more than one soul mate, and having to choose between the two of them. The decisions of the gods has left the next generation, their heirs, torn between fate and reality, and the balance of the future hangs in anticipation of what’s to come.

DeceivedRating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

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

What a wonderful start to what I expect will be one of those epic young adult trilogies everyone inevitably winds up raving about. And in this case, I certainly think that is deserved. Even though I have a bit of a predisposition to paranormal young adult stories that involve mythology (see: my clamoring to read everything by Rick Riordan), I think this is one that would be enjoyable even for those who are not major fans of the genre.

The characters here are endearing and engaging. There are complicated dynamics here that are evident even before everyone’s true nature and role are revealed. And the reveal is well-done, leaving the reader with just as many questions as answers. The story builds to an end that is unexpected and will leave readers wanting more.

I will definitely be picking up the second book. I need to know what happens next.

TOUR-WIDE GIVEAWAY

As a part of this tour, you can enter and win signed copies of Deceived AND Destroyed (book two of this series)!  To enter, see this Rafflecopter giveaway.

BLOG-SPECIFIC GIVEAWAY

If you’re interested in reading Deceived, you can enter to win an ebook copy by commenting to this post and including your email address.  One winner will be selected randomly.  (Open internationally; deadline is February 2, 2015)

Title: The Warlord & the Bard
Author: Eric Alan Westfall
Publication Date: August 28, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
What do you get when you cross the paths of a warlord prince and a bard in front of a vague prophecy and then toss in a meddling goddess and a bit of sex? Something wonderful if The Warlord and the Bard is any indication. Something wonderful, indeed.

The reader is thrown immediately into this rich world that Eric Alan Westfall has created. And because of this it can all be a bit difficult to follow at first, but I found that once can easily catch up as the story goes along. It is a masterful literary device in this case, though, because it helps the reader to feel some of what Jerril and DarkFire are feeling themselves as their worlds collide and fill them with uncertainty.

There is some mention of past sexual assault, so I feel the need to warn for that. But otherwise, this is a great story and is wonderfully written. I’m definitely left wanting to know what happens next.

(eBook copy provided by the author via the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s ‘Don’t Buy My Love’ program in exchange for an honest review.)