Tag Archives: published: 2015-06

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

23363928Title: The Library at Mount Char
Author: Scott Hawkins
Published: June 16, 2015
Pages: 388
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

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

I usually try to start off a review with a brief summary of the plot (main themes/storylines and such) before going into my thoughts about the book. But this is one where I don’t know where to start because any attempt to summarize this book would no doubt fall way short of doing it anything close to justice. And while it’s not a disjointed story by any means, there are just so many themes and takeaways here that I could probably write an entire treatise on the depth that exists within this book. That said, I will make an (admittedly feeble) attempt to present the gist of the story so you will know if it might be for you (though I will say that if you like fantasy–especially urban fantasy–anything dark, or character-driven stories with an interesting array of side characters, this is probably a must read).

Carolyn is a librarian. But she’s not the kind of librarian you think of when you hear that word. No, she is one of twelve students of a man she knows as Father, a very powerful man who adopted her and her now siblings when she was a child. Father has a vast library and each of his twelve students is responsible for reading, understanding, and mastering a specific catalog from within the library. But these books, like their owner, are not ordinary, and the power that they contain is beyond what a normal American could ever imagine. And Father will settle for nothing but the highest level of effort, success, and obedience from his students–even if he must use brute force to get it.

But now Father has gone missing and the librarians have reassembled to try to find out where he’s gone and if he’s okay. The dynamics between Carolyn and her siblings aren’t what an outsider would necessarily describe as functional, but they do all have a vested interest in finding the man who raised them and getting back into the library to continue their studies. But to do so, they will need to enlist the help of some outsiders–Americans–and their involvement quickly reveals there is much more going on here than meets the eye…

This book definitely seems a little strange at first, but that’s because it is different. And until you get a sense of Carolyn and the initial backstory, it’s easy to wonder what exactly is going on. But don’t worry, you’ll wonder that through most of the book, but in different ways with each chapter. As it all starts to come together, if you’re like me, you will be in awe at the foreshadowing and the various other hints that have been dropped along the way.

Hawkins does an excellent job of keeping the story moving forward and occasionally inserting what he labels as ‘Interludes’ which take readers back in time before the story to provide just enough of Carolyn’s past to better understand what is going on in the present. And the character dynamics and interactions do not disappoint at all.

I definitely give this a very high recommendation. It’s up there among the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I’m glad I picked it up.

Claimed by the Order by J. Johanis

25707176Title: Claimed by the Order (S-Gods, Book 1)
Author: J. Johanis
Published: June 1, 2015
Pages: 241
Publisher: J. Johanis
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

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

In the land of the ancient gods, young gods and goddesses attend a college at the Temple of Power to learn more about their roles and their powers. Marduk is one such young god, who finds himself interested in another god–one of his classmates–on his first day of classes. This interest leads him down a dark path, however, as he finds himself lured into and claimed by a secret order of gods at the college who keep their newest member as a sex slave. Marduk knows the way out is to lure a new god to take his place, but he can’t bring himself to do it. And when he finds himself falling for a new god to the school, Anu-Akad, the order gives him an ultimatum: deliver Akad to them or they will take him anyway and Marduk will remain their pet for eternity…

A wonderful convergence of several mythologies in one book. There’s a rich world here that the author has created and the unique intersections are rather interesting. And the struggle that Marduk faces is portrayed quite vividly making it easy to understand how he was feeling as he tried to sort through his situation.

I will say that the content here is somewhat extreme and intense. More than one scene of non-con occurs and other forms of ongoing and repeated abuse. Normally, I’d honestly shy away from a book that’s so heavy on that type of content, but the way it’s handled and the overall story is so well done, that it didn’t seem gratuitous to me. I do want to make the content warning quite clear, though.

Strange Bedfellows by Cardeno C.

25734007Title: Strange Bedfellows
Author: Cardeno C.
Published: June 26, 2015
Pages: 226
Publisher: The Romance Authors
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

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

Bradford “Ford” Hollingsworth III is in the early stages of a bright career. He’s a junior U.S. congressman whose senator (and former presidential candidate) father has created quite a legacy for him to follow in the Republican party. But he’s keeping a secret that might just derail those plans: he’s gay, something that’s likely not going to go over well with the conservative base. But when a random one-night stand turns into a desire for something more, he’s not sure just how long he can keep his secret hidden. And to complicate matters even more, the object of his affection is Trevor Moga, son of the current President–a Democrat, and someone who has done his best to stay out of politics. Can Ford find a way to have his career and Trevor? Or will he give that all up if it means happiness with someone he loves? And how will his family react when they learn the truth–both truths?

What a fun and interesting read! There are some definitely steamy moments, but the focus here is on the story and these two endearing and wonderful characters. One of things that I’ve found with Cardeno’s novels is that I’m never disappointed with the characters, and this book is no exception. They are dynamic individuals, they are flawed in just the right ways, and there’s never really a question of how their actions and motivations line up. And in this book, even the side characters pulled me in, as there’s quite a cast here with Trevor’s parents and Ford’s larger family.

I’m not usually one for books with a political background–not that I’m particularly averse, it’s just not where I go when I’m looking for a good read. But after reading this, I’m thinking maybe I need to give more of them a chance. This is great and I definitely recommend it.

Lessons for Idle Tongues by Charlie Cochrane

25098264Title: Lessons for Idle Tongues (Cambridge Fellows, Book 11)
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Published: June 29, 2015
Pages: 241
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Jonty and Orlando are academics who have taken up sleuthing in their spare time and have enjoyed success and fame as a result. But most people don’t know they are partners in more than just investigating, something they must keep secret because of the time. What starts out as a case of finding a missing wooden cat quickly turns into a homicide investigation when a guest at dinner alerts them to the mysterious death of a young woman. While the initial consensus is that she wasn’t murdered, they learn of several questionable deaths in the area and rumors about a local recluse that cause them to give this more than just a second look. What they find is a puzzle even they’re not entirely sure they can solve.

While this is part of a series, it can certainly be read as a standalone. It’s only the second of these I’ve personally read, and I had no trouble following the events of the book at all. This is a complex and confounding historical mystery with just a dash of m/m romance to give it some interesting twists. Orlando and Jonty are a great crime solving team, and i enjoy Jonty’s parents just as much–they provide some excellent comic relief in what is generally a lighthearted book (despite the criminal/potentially murderous elements). This is definitely worth a look for anyone that has an interest in any of the subgenres represented here.

All the Arts of Hurting by Amelia Faulkner

25599262Title: All the Arts of Hurting
Author: Amelia Faulkner
Published: June 26, 2015
Pages: 95
Publisher: Lovelight Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

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

Lord Duncan Aldham lives somewhat of a charmed life. His mother is concerned that he might be conscripted into the war and is thus aiming to marry him off to a less than desirable woman, but he’s not having it. His head does turn, however, when he meets William Fossett, the new stable hand, and he quickly falls for his new employee. But while Duncan may have some leeway to avoid conscription due to his social standing, William is not nearly as fortunate. And while William is a self-described pacifist, that may not be enough to keep him safe from the war and home long enough to see if a relationship with Duncan might be in the cards.

This was an enjoyable read for me. The characters are fun, and there are definitely some amusing moments. There’s also obviously some very serious moments that demonstrate depth of the characters and even some unexpected twists as well. Duncan and William are an interesting pair, coming from different worlds, but having far more in common than they first expected.

The only thing that kind of stuck with me was that I feel they fell–especially Duncan–way, way too quickly. It didn’t really detract from the overall story, but it was a curiosity that was there for most of my reading.

One Hot Summer Month by Donald Webb

25493933Title: One Hot Summer Month
Author: Donald Webb
Published: June 15, 2015
Pages: 240
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

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

Damien lives to cruise. Many people would probably have words for him that some might consider unsavory. Persuaded to write about his live for a month, he documents his many exploits and eventually begins to wonder if this really is the life that he wants for himself.

Well, most of this book is just sexual encounter after sexual encounter. That’s just who Damien is, but there isn’t much substance beyond that. I have to admit it was a bit off-putting, especially since some of it really just seemed gratuitous. As it continues on, there’s meant to be a change in Damien, which was slightly refreshing, but I just wasn’t sure if it came across as very authentic, considering the way Damien carried himself through the rest of the book.

It’s an interesting read, and if you know what you’re getting when you go in, it’s not bad.

The Demon Door by Kim Alexander

25392871Title: The Demon Door (Powers of the Air, Book 1)
Author: Kim Alexander
Published: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Booktrope
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

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

Eriis, world of the demons, and Mistra, world of the humans, used to be connected by a door. But when that door was blasted shut by the humans, leaving desolation in Eriis, there are those who would give anything to get the door open again. When the Prince of Eriis, Rhuun, is found to be the potential key, he escapes to Mistra, finally getting a chance to see the humans he’s always been curious about, a curiosity further heightened by the romance novel that was left behind in Eriis when the humans left. But the world of Mistra is like nothing Rhuun imagined and he has no idea if he’ll ever get back to Eriis again.

This is an extremely slow moving story. Which, as it is posited as the start of an epic series, that may not necessarily be a bad thing. But the problem is it gets to the end and doesn’t feel like enough of the story has been told. There is just so much lead up that when the book ends–even though there is a sequel in store–it feels like a bit of a letdown.

That said, there is some amazing world building here and the character development is something for which I give a great deal of credit. Despite the pacing and lack of action, it kept me to the end.

Rite of Summer by Tess Bowery

23766005Title: Rite of Summer (Treading the Boards, Book 1)
Author: Tess Bowery
Published: June 2, 2015
Pages: 286
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

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

Stephen Ashbrook, violinist, is at the top of his craft. And he’s also the muse of his lover, composer Evander Cade. When the two of them are invited to a house party and lengthy stay at the home of their patron, it seems like their future is set. Also at this party is artist Joshua Beaufort, a man who has harbored a crush on Stephen for some time. And when he spies Stephen and Evander in the throes of passion (and Stephen catches him watching), the three enter into a less than conventional arrangement. But Joshua really only wants Stephen, and Stephen soon learns that all Evander wants is his own success and to control Stephen in helping him make that happen. It becomes clear that the three of them can’t work together, but which two will end up together in the end?

First off, this is more than steamy. There are several secret rendezvous in different combinations. They relationship and character dynamics are complex and the background characters add just as much to the story as those that are at the forefront of the action. Joshua and Stephen are more endearing than I expected at the beginning of the story.

The one thing that detracted just a bit for me was that sometimes the characters are referred to by their first names and sometimes they’re referred to by their last names. Eventually I realized this stems from whose point of view is being reflected at the time, but initially I thought there were additional characters and was confused until I sorted it all out.

I am interested in reading more from this author–since this is a series, I figure I’ll have the opportunity to do just that with the next book.

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

18190208Title: The Witch Hunter
Author: Virginia Boecker
Published: June 2, 2015
Pages: 368
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

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

Elizabeth has devoted much of her life so far to becoming one of the best witch hunters in the kingdom. She has worked hard and has earned a stellar reputation that has even drawn notice of the king. But in a surprising twist she stands accused of witchcraft and all of that work seems in vain. The accusations are the first clue that things are not at all as they seem in the kingdom, and Elizabeth soon learns the conspiracy runs far deeper than she could have imagined. She is but a single small target in a larger plot that makes an ally of the enemy and turns friend to foe. Elizabeth learns she will have to rely on those she previously worked against if she’s going to save the kingdom, even if she might not be able to save herself.

Virginia Boecker has created a unique and engaging fantasy world that made for a fun and interesting read. Elizabeth’s journey from hero to purported villain and her quest to save her kingdom, her friends, and her name feels like it could be the start of an epic story. The characters, the plot twists, and the magic of this world all combine to create something that is certainly worth reading.

The ending feels a bit more unresolved than I would have liked, but since this is clearly the beginning of a series, that’s likely forgiven in that more resolution will hopefully be given in the next book. I recommend checking this out if you’re looking for a new YA fantasy world in which to immerse yourself.