Tag Archives: published: 2017-01

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

As Red As Blood

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

Series: Lumikki Andersson, Book 1
Published by: Crown Books for Young Readers on January 17, 2017 (US release)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Lumikki Andersson is what many might describe as a loner. She purposely stays out of other people’s business and problems. To do otherwise will just lead to trouble that she knows she doesn’t need. But when she ends up in the middle of a life-or-death situation that three careless classmates stumbled into, she finds she has no choice but to see it through to the end. And the danger runs deeper than any of them can even imagine…

The overall story arc here is interesting. Action starts right away and pulls the reader into the world of these characters. And it’s a plot that I know I found I wanted to see to the end from the first few pages. But there are a few things that just didn’t quite settle for me. First, Lumikki is just a high school student but she acts like a highly-trained super agent at times, which I found difficult to accept. Second, the resolution seems a bit too tidy and abrupt for such a complicated story. But it is an entertaining and interesting read. It’s still a page turner even with those reservations. So I’d suggest giving it a read if you like suspense.

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

Chase the Ace by Clare London

Chase the Ace

Chase the Ace by Clare London

Series: London Lads, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on January 4, 2017 (2nd edition)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Newly single, Daniel Cross needs something to occupy his time. After joining social media, he decides it might be worth looking up the group of friends he spent a summer with at a local sports club in his youth. He’s curious to see what has come of each of them. And although he makes a quick first connection, he realizes upon the first meet up that he’s made a bit of a mistake and reached out to the wrong Carson brother. Nick Carson doesn’t seem bothered, though, and actually expresses some interest in Dan’s quest–even offering to travel with him as he tracks down each of the other boys. As they find each of the others and see where their lives have taken them, both Dan and Nick find themselves reflecting on their own choices and compelled to confess some secrets of their own.

When a book takes you on a journey, and you can see yourself traveling right along with the characters, it’s easy to find yourself lost in its pages. And that’s certainly my experience with this book. There’s quite the cast of characters (these boys have each grown up to become something very different), but the focus remains on Dan throughout. What is he learning from meeting each of his old friends? Why are these meetings so important to him? What is he really searching for? And will he know it if and when he finally finds it? A well-written tale of traveling through your past in search of a defining moment that contributed to who you are.

A Coal Miner’s Son by T.A. Chase

A Coal Miner's Son

A Coal Miner’s Son by T.A. Chase

Published by: Dreamspinner on January 4, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

James Callahan is the heir to a large mining operation who can’t seem to live up to his father’s expectations. For one, James has always been friendly and associated with the miners, and Nicholas Callahan doesn’t understand why his son wouldn’t want to spend his time with people of his same social standing. But to James, he’s never been any better than those who work the mines, and he’s not about to let his position or his wealth become a divider. He’s been best friends with Owain for years. And Owain’s older brother, Cai, always has a way of turning James’s head–even if Cai avoids James at all costs.

Cai Rees doesn’t deny the fact that James is cute. He is. But they come from two different worlds. James is rich and the Callahans all think they are better than the miners, don’t they? How could they ever have anything in common. And would Cai really want to put up with James’s high-class family all the time? No, Cai is right to stay away. But when Cai finds he needs James’s help with some family drama, he quickly realizes it may be much harder to stay away than he’d first imagined it would be.

I have a soft spot for stories of people who have secretly harbored feelings for each other for years and finally see the chance to act on them. And when you’ve been carrying around feelings for a long time, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to express or process them. Sometimes it can be even harder to act when you’ve been holding yourself back for so long. And for Cai and James, years of family dynamics and assumptions layered on top of everything make for some additional challenges…and opportunities.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Series: Untitled Series, Book 1
Published by: Del Rey Books on January 10, 2017
Rating: 5 stars (★★★★★)

Vasilisa (Vasya) lives with her family in the Russian wilderness, where the winters are hard and long but they work together to make it through. And one of the hallmarks of those winter nights is the gathering of the children around the oven to hear tell of fairy tales and legends from their history. They are stories that are being quickly left behind with the spread of Christianity throughout their lands. But Vasya knows there’s some truth to them. She can see the household spirits–the subject of several of the nightly stories. Vasya also knows that as people stop paying mind to these spirits, they become weak and lose their hold over the families land and the ability to keep them protected from more malevolent beings. And there is a danger lurking just beyond the trees waiting for the right opportunity to leap out from the shadows.

I struggle with where to begin with this story because I want to avoid spoilers as much as I can. I even feel like my synopsis above might be too much if it wasn’t for the fact that most of this information can be gleaned from the publisher’s blurb. But I will say this is an excellent fantasy title, referencing mythology of Russia with a strong emphasis on family dynamics. The characters are well written, especially Vasya who faces a number of challenges and moments of growth throughout the book. And the narration easily brings this world to life on the page.

This is the first book in what the author plans to be a trilogy–I certainly look forward to the next installment.

Man & Monster by Michael Jensen

Man & Monster

Man & Monster by Michael Jensen

Series: The Savage Land, Book 2
Published by: Buddha Kitty Books on January 4, 2017 (re-release)
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Cole Seavey knew it might not be the best idea to venture west on his own. But he needed to get away from his life back east and he figured he might see if he could catch up with his brother out on the frontier. But a run-in with a cougar as he tried to save a young child in the middle of the woods left him in the path of a much more dangerous and mysterious creature. And it also left him on the run without any of his supplies. He’s saved by a Delaware Indian name Pakim and he quickly finds himself pulled into the politics and drama of the local community. But the creature he encountered in the woods isn’t going away, and more people are going missing or reporting sightings of something strange in the forest. When it finally makes a move that could bring them all down, Cole and Pakim realize they might be parted–just when they’ve started to connect on a deeper level. Is this just Cole’s luck? Or is there a chance they will both make it out alive?

This is a very well-written historical m/m romance, which is a genre I absolutely think we need more of in the world. We know that there were certainly LGBT people during these eras in history, but because they had to keep their lives hidden most of their stories are lost to us. I love the idea of thinking about what life may have been like and filling in those gaps with good stories just like this one.

This is the second book in a series, but there is no need to have read the first book to dive into this one–it can live as a stand-alone novel. I’ve not read the first book, and I had no problems understanding what was going on or following the story.

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

Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Off Base

Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Series: Out of Uniform, Book 1
Published by: Carina Press on January 9, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Having just completed his SEAL training, Zack Nelson is looking for some space of his own. Which is why he jumps at his senior chief’s offer to live in one of his rental properties in exchange for completing the renovations. Not only will he save money, but this will get him away from the team in the evening and give him some peace and quiet. But when a friend of a friend gets a job in San Diego and needs a place to stay, Zack reluctantly agrees to let him move in. Pike Reynolds is a nice enough guy, but Zack has a few problems with him. For one, Pike is very open about being gay. Two, Zack may have tried to kiss Pike one night when he was drunk. And three, Zack hasn’t really been able to stop thinking about Pike ever since. But Zack isn’t gay; he can’t be. His SEAL team and his family would never have it. And now that they will be sharing a living space, seeing each other every day–will Zack be able to keep his desire in check? And if he can’t, is he ready to deal with everything that would come along with that?

This is the start of a new series that flows right out of Albert’s #gaymers series, all of which I’ve previously read and reviewed. You don’t need to have read #gaymers to understand what’s happening here. (Though I would highly recommend it because it’s great! And if you have read it, you’ll recognize Ryan and Josiah from Connection Error.)

This is another one of those books that I think reminds us that everyone has their own narrative when it comes to their upbringing, their identity, and the way they present themselves to the world. Although we have an arsenal of labels that we love to assign to others, identity is personal and it is up to the individual to truly own that part of themselves. And it can be easy to assume everyone is coming from the same place we are, and that’s something that is so rarely true. When it comes to love and relationships, one shouldn’t sacrifice who they are for the other person, but it’s important to listen, to be understanding, and to be open to where the other person is coming from. If we place unreasonable expectations on each other (or on ourselves) then we’re more likely to find unhappiness and resentment rather than the love and bliss that we seek.

Pike and Zack live through this firsthand. But thankfully, they both know there’s a chance that they’ll each come around before too long. Or at least they can hope…

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