Tag Archives: published: 2015-05

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain

Knight of Ocean Avenue

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain

Series: Love in Laguna, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on May 1, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Billy Ballew doesn’t have the best of luck with relationships. He has no problem attracting women, but things always seem to end before they get too serious. Which is where he finds himself once again: dumped. And he’s not excited to tell his mother who thinks he should be married and settled down at twenty-five. Preparations for Billy’s sister’s wedding provide the perfect opportunity for his family to try to “help” him. They set him up with stylist whose job is to improve his image. That should help him land and keep a lady, right? Except when Billy meets Shaz, he’s thrown for  a loop. There’s something about this guy that Billy just can’t shake. Billy likes him. And not just as a fascinating person who is good at what he does. Billy realizes he might like Shaz for something more. And he needs to figure out if that’s what he really wants before his chance is lost forever.

Too often I find that “gay for you” or first gay relationship stories take a very simplistic view. The guy goes from 100% straight to totally okay with being gay in the snap of his fingers. And that always strikes me as a bit unrealistic. Coming out to yourself is a major component of the coming out process. And coming to a realization that you may not be who you thought you were your whole life is a big deal. And I appreciate that this story treats it that way. It doesn’t dwell on it as the focal point of the story for pages and pages, but it provides a more realistic portrayal than I’m used to seeing.

It’s not difficult to like this characters, either. They’re all pretty great. And the subplots and scheming going on in the background with the side characters just makes it even more fun to read.

Hard as Stone by Rory Ni Coileain

25611094Title: Hard as Stone (SoulShares, Book 1)
Author: Rory Ni Coileain
Published: May 2015 (Originally Published October 2012)
Pages: 185
Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

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

After committing the ultimate crime in the eyes of the Fae, Tiernan Guaire has been exiled to the world of the humans, cut off from the Realm and his people. But in the process, his soul was split in two, leaving him destined to roam until he finds and connects with the human possessing the other half–even if it means eternity. Enter Kevin Almstead, a bright but not very ambitious attorney, who has always felt like something was missing from his life. Little does he know that by walking to Purgatory, a gay nightclub, he just mind find what he’s been looking for in more ways than one with Tiernan. But connecting with Tiernan won’t be easy. And can the connection they have stand up to the magickal force that’s set out to possess Tiernan and find its way back into the human world?

A rather fun and enjoyable read, this combines several elements that I absolutely love in a book. It’s an urban fantasy that’s just rife with conflict (both internal and external), and the characters are rather dynamic. There is a lot going on here in terms of subplots, but the author has constructed things in such a way that they don’t become tangled unnecessarily and are still able to resolve in a way that makes logical sense.

Tiernan and Kevin do fall a bit fast, but when you end up in a SoulShare, I guess that’s what happens. I didn’t feel the sense of foreboding at the end of the book that I would have expected, but I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the next book in the series to see where things go from here!

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

23012481Title: The Gracekeepers
Author: Kirsty Logan
Published: May 19, 2015
Pages: 320
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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

In a world overrun by water, there are two types of people: the landlockers who live on the land and the damplings who live their lives at sea. Callanish, a landlocker at birth, has become a Gracekeeper, living at sea and overseeing the watery burials of the dead. North, a dampling all her life, is a performer in a traveling circus, Excalibur. Neither feels truly understood by others and both feel a loneliness and yearning to find something more until unfortunate circumstances cause their paths to cross.

Talk about an enchanting and somewhat dark tale! The characters and their development are definitely incredible here. I found myself simply engrossed into the world that Logan created, anxiously looking forward to what would happen as I turned each page. Even though the description may bring to mind images of that ill-fated Kevin Costner film from a number of years ago, I can assure you this is nothing like that. This is a well-written story of the journey two women take to find themselves and relative happiness in a world that is not conducive to either. (Granted, there is that trend of merfolk in science fiction/fantasy writing that has been so prevalent over the past year coming up here, but it’s very much in the background to the whole story, so it can be forgiven.) For a debut novel, this is an absolutely excellent start, and I personally look forward to more from this author going forward.

Lonely Shore by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen

25129173Title: Lonely Shore (Chaos Station, Book 2)
Author: Jenn Burke & Kelley Jensen
Published: May 25, 2015
Pages: 187
Publisher: Carina Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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

While Felix and Zander are both happy to have been reunited, their circumstances are nothing but challenging. Zander’s headaches are becoming more frequent and intense, which means he’s blacking out and losing control far more often than he would like. It’s clear he’s deteriorating and there appears to be no hope. But when they learn their might be an option, though an experimental one, Zander decides he needs to give it a try. He might die, but that’s where he’s quickly headed anyway. Add the fact that the Agrius Cartel has caught up with the crew and seems intent on revenge, and it’s a very trying time for everyone on the crew of the Chaos.

This picks up nicely from where the first book left off. The tension felt by every crew member is so intense, I could almost feel it coming off the page. The events here are very trying for everyone and the writing adds a real human (well, I guess I should say “being” since some of them are aliens) touch. I found myself connecting with the characters even more than I did in the first book and definitely look forward to the next installment in the series. If you haven’t started these yet, you are totally missing out on something great!

Whispers in the Dark by Chase J. Jackson

23422495Title: Whispers in the Dark
Author: Chase J. Jackson
Published: May 26, 2015
Pages: 114
Publisher: Boutique of Quality Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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

Adrian Ramirez has just finished college and returned to his hometown with his girlfriend. He’s been hired as a teacher at the prestigious Finley Academy and can’t wait to make the most of this opportunity. But when his girlfriend is hearing things in their house, he’s experiencing strange and vivid dreams, and there seems to me more to two of his students than meets the eye, there’s a question about whether things are going to be as great for him as he anticipated. Past mistakes can haunt us; this is something Adrian might have to learn firsthand.

For fans of young adult paranormal, this is a find. It’s an interesting story, a quick and easy read, and suspenseful enough to keep a reader glued to the pages. One thing I appreciated is that there wasn’t much in the way of extraneous material. This book focuses on the story it’s meant to tell. And it’s just on the unsettling side of eerie.

A Counselor Among Wolves by Liv Olteano

25311292Title: A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders, Book 2)
Author: Liv Olteano
Published: May 8, 2015
Pages: 230
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Five leaders have been murdered and the circumstances surrounding their deaths are most peculiar. Herman Weiss, PBI director, is responsible for trying to solve the case, with essentially no real leads. On top of that, he’s feeling rages, something that could put him in grave danger himself. He seeks help from Timothy Sands, a half-fey, half-elf PBI counselor, whose emotional-grid balancing abilities can keep the rages in check. But in order to make that work, the two have to pretend to be a couple. That’s easy enough for Weiss, but a bit more challenging for Tim who has had a crush on the straight PBI director for some time. Can Tim help Weiss avoid his rages long enough to solve the case? Can they figure out what’s causing the rages and make them stop? And when Tim’s father, the Fey King, shows up and threatens the Council unless they hand Tim over to him, will Weiss be able to return the favor and save Tim?

I really, really enjoyed this story. There are so many complex layers to the plot, but it’s easy to read and follow throughout. The characters are interesting and dynamic, and the writing is incredibly descriptive and engaging. This is the first book I’ve read by Liv Olteano, but I definitely want to seek out more by this author. The combination of the paranormal, fantasy, and romantic elements was done so well that I’m glad I picked this one up and gave it a chance.

While this is the second book in a series, one doesn’t need to read the first book to understand what’s going on here. I haven’t read the first book and I had no problems at all. Reading the first one is probably helpful, though, and I definitely plan to go back and read it when I get a chance.

Beyond Suspicion by Catherine A. Winn

23574663Title: Beyond Suspicion
Author: Catherine A. Winn
Published: May 5, 2015
Pages: 234
Publisher: The Poisoned Pencil
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Disclaimer: I received and advance review copy from the publisher as part of a giveaway.

Shelby’s mother’s remarriage and life with her new stepdad and their son hasn’t been easy. Shelby feels like she’s asked to take on more than she should have to and that her presence is often taken for granted. After being told she can’t go to a friend’s party that has been planned for weeks because she needs to stay home and take care of her brother, Josh, Shelby is quite angry. After initially lashing out at her parents, she decides to take her brother for a walk and cool down. But what she doesn’t expect is that her brother won’t make it home–he is taken in the park while she is momentarily distracted. The circumstances surrounding Josh’s disappearance are definitely suspicious. Shelby has a theory that Josh was kidnapped based on a suspicious vehicle she remembered seeing, but the police have their own theory–Shelby was fed up with babysitting and made her brother disappear. The stress of her brother’s disappearance, the fact that she’s been accused, and a sudden isolation from her friends almost proves too much for Shelby until she meets Matt, a young man who comes to her rescue and then offers to help her find her brother. But can Shelby trust Matt? Then again, can anyone really ever trust another person? And can Shelby track down who took her brother before anything bad happens to him?

Mystery. Suspense. And a few unexpected twists. That’s what one can expect here. There are some intriguing family dynamics that didn’t endear me to Shelby’s mother in the slightest, but did make it easier to connect to and root for Shelby, so I guess that all works out in the end. I had figured out the answer before it was revealed, which sometimes bugs me when I’m reading a mystery, but I think case I thought it was okay. There was enough story after the reveal to make it not seem like I’d worked out the whole of the plot. Shelby’s heroics at the end seem a bit farfetched, especially considering her clumsiness and naïveté at the beginning of the book. That said, one can suspend disbelief enough, especially considering the intended young adult audience, and do so rather easily.