Category Archives: Series

Sunrise

Finished Sunrise by Mike Mullin.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors’ constant companions.

When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.

This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.”

I absolutely loved this book and this series.  This book covers several years after the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupted, and things are not getting any better.

People are getting increasingly desperate to survive and people are beginning to band together more and more.  Sometimes that’s a good thing but generally not so much.

One of the most interesting things about end-of-the-world type books is that it tends to turn society on its head a little bit.  You know how now, money is so important and we judge people based on their job and office size?  In this world, money is absolutely worthless and the important jobs are the same ones that are mocked a little bit now.  Mechanical skills are the most important things ever, and many people don’t have them.

Also, since a lot of the things we take for granted aren’t around anymore, simple things become absolutely daunting.   (As an added bonus, even if you can find a car that works and enough space to drive it, any leftover gas has long since gone stale.)

I absolutely cannot wait to see what Mike Mullin does next.  Highly recommended.

 

Rose and the Lost Princess

Finished Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The second spellbinding adventure with Rose… Turning the worn pages of her spell book, Rose can’t believe how much her life has changed. Once a poor orphan, and now an apprentice to the King’s chief magician! But when the country’s beloved Princess vanishes, everything changes. As rumours of dark magic fly through the city, the King asks Rose for help. She must find the missing Princess – before all is lost.

I absolutely love this charming series.

Rose is a fantastic heroine.  She’s clever and brave and so much more capable than she thinks she is.

This book is perfect for middlegrade readers.  It approaches creepiness but doesn’t get too scary (although to be fair, I’ve been told my scary meter is broken).

I love how plausible this book seems.  Obviously there’s no such thing as magic, but reading this, it seems so possible.  I also appreciate how quickly everyone turns on the magicians once there’s a chance that the princess was harmed, or could be harmed.  I think it’s very much human nature to find and attack a scapegoat.  (This aspect of the book would lend itself to discussions with children.)

Highly recommended.

The Stag Lord cover reveal

Stag Lord full jacket

This is the front and back of The Stag Lord (out in late October) by Darby Karchut, writing as Darby Kaye.  Darby’s been one of my favorite authors for years now and I’m so excited for everyone to get to read this book.  I believe it’s her best yet, and that’s not just because I’m the publicist for it (!!!!!!).

Jacket copy:

“On the run across America from a vengeful shape-shifter, Bannerman ‘Bann’ Boru has only one thing on his mind: keeping himself and his young son, Cor, alive.

At any cost.

Until he meets Shay Doyle, healer and member of a secret group of immortal Celtic warriors, the Tuatha De Danaan, living in modern-day Colorado. When Cor is injured, Bannerman is forced to accept her help. He quickly realizes the golden-haired healer is shield maiden tough and can hold her own on the field of battle with the big boys. And Shay soon discovers that there is more to Bann than meets the eye.

Now, with the shape-shifter Cernunnos teaming up with the local pack of Fir Bolgs (Bronze Age creatures with a nasty taste for children), Bannerman, Shay, her wolf-dog Max and the rest of the Doyle clan must figure out how to battle one insane god.”

This book is highly, highly recommended.  And again, how stunning is that cover?  (Designed by Errick Nunnally.)

A Whisper in Time Blog Hop

I’m happy to provide an excerpt from A Whisper in Time by Elizabeth Langston, out April 8.  This is published by Spencer Hill (this is not a book I worked on—unfortunately, because I can’t wait to read this and its predecessor, Whisper Falls).

Susanna relaxed against me on the couch. “Did you enjoy last night with your friends?”

I didn’t want to talk about that right now. Not when we were together and in sync. But she’d asked and it would be a bigger deal to refuse than to answer the minimum. “The football game wasn’t very exciting, but we won by a lot, which makes it fun. Afterward, I went out with my friends to get ice cream.”

“What are their names?”

“Jesse, Benita, and Gabrielle.”

“Have you known them long?”

“I’ve known Jesse since our freshman year. Benita is Jesse’s girlfriend. I only met her a few days ago. And this is
Gabrielle’s first semester at Neuse Academy.”

“Is Gabrielle special?”

I stiffened. “What kind of question is that?”

“Your voice was different for her than the other two.” She shifted until our gazes met.

“For one thing, Jesse and Benita are a couple. For another, Gabrielle is a celebrity.”

“What is a celebrity?”

“A famous person. She’s a movie star.”

“On the TV?”

I smiled. It was a technology we’d introduced early to Susanna. “Gabrielle’s films go to movie theaters first.”

“Is she talented?”

“Gabrielle is, but a movie star doesn’t have to be talented to be a celebrity.”

“That sounds like politicians. They can be evil or honorable, but we know about them just the same.”

“Exactly.”

Her head dropped back to my shoulder. I could feel the tension bunching up inside her.

“Mark, why is this topic difficult for us to discuss?”

I swallowed a curse word. If I ignored her question, would it go away?

Nah, probably not. I had to admit the truth, because she’d be able to tell if I didn’t. “I had a lot of fun, and you weren’t there.”

“Do you think I begrudge your evening away?”

“Of course not. It’s just…” I didn’t want to say anymore. Why did she keep asking? “I was out last night with two
gorgeous girls, and neither of them was you.”

She looked up at me, wide-eyed. “Should I be jealous?”

“No.” The whole thing made me feel guilty, and I didn’t know why.

“Do you love me?”

The question gnawed at my gut. Why had she asked that? To reassure herself or to remind me? “Forever.”

“We would share a peculiar sort of love if it could not survive conversations with other young ladies.” Her lips
pressed to my cheek, close to my ear. “Do as you want with your friends,” she whispered, “as long as you return to me.”

“Susanna. How can you be so perfect?” I sought her mouth with mine and kissed her thoroughly, proper boundaries be damned.

Finding It

Finished Finding It by Cora Carmack. I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“ometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong…

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She’s having the time of her life . . . or that’s what she keeps telling herself.

It’s a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you’re afraid you won’t like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey’s loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey’s mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.”

Like the other two books in this series (Losing It and Faking It), this book is incredibly fun.

It took me a little bit of time to like Kelsey (she’s kind of damaged and while horrible things have happened to her, it’s also kind of hard to love someone whose primary instinct is to either completely avoid everything by drinking or avoid everything by running away).  And also, most of us don’t have the means to hide from our lives in Europe on someone else’s money.

Ultimately, I think fans of Cora Carmack will end up loving this sweet story.  It fell a little flat for me, but I still had a great time reading it.  (To be honest, I loved it while reading it and then later, I was like, “…Wait.  WHAT?!”)

She has a new series out in a couple months and I’m definitely excited to read that.  Even though I didn’t love this one, I’m still a huge fan of hers.

The Lonesome Young

Finished The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.

WHAT HAPPENS when the teenage heirs of two bitterly FEUDING FAMILIES can’t stay away from each other?

The Rhodales and the Whitfields have been sworn enemies for close on a hundred years, with a whole slew of adulterous affairs, financial backstabbing, and blackmailing that’s escalated the rivalry to its current state of tense ceasefire.

IT’S TIME TO LIGHT THE FUSE . . .

And now a meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County is set to reignite the feud more viciously than ever before. Especially when the toxic fire that results throws together two unlikely spectators—proper good girl Victoria Whitfield, exiled from boarding school after her father’s real estate business melts down in disgrace, and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale, too late as always to thwart his older brothers’ dangerous drug deals.

Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

. . . ON A POWDER KEG FULL OF PENT-UP DESIRE, risk-taking daredevilry, and the desperate actions that erupt when a generation of teens inherits nothing but hate.”

I only had one problem with this story, but it’s a fairly big one: I didn’t buy the insta-love between Victoria and Mickey.  The two fall for each other almost immediately and the intensity of their feelings didn’t make sense (to me) given (a) the short amount of time they knew each other and (b) the intense hatred that their families have for each other.

Beyond that, this is a sweet, fun, intense story.  I know that the above paragraph may make it seem like I hated this book, and that’s not at all true.

It’s been touted as Romeo and Juliet meets Justified and even though the R&J part didn’t ring true, the Justified part did.

I’m excited that this is part of a series and I’m definitely planning to read the second book.  I like the world and the characters, and I hope that in the sequel, I will believe in the relationship between Victoria and Mickey.

Ashen Winter

Finished Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.”

As the synopsis says, it’s been over half a year since life changed.  You may think that things would be a little bit better…you would be wrong.

People are getting more desperate and aren’t really settling into “the new normal.”  Granted, some are working together to farm and surviving that way.  Others are banding together to steal what they need to survive.  And still others have become cannibals.

Alex decides to leave the relative safety of his aunt and uncle’s farm to try and find his parents.  Darla goes with him, and things don’t go so well for her.  Once they’re separated, Alex has to find his parents AND Darla and, of course, they’re in two different directions.

I don’t think I talked about Darla very much in yesterday’s review, but I absolutely love her.  She’s smart and resilient and very feisty.  And I was sad that most of this novel is Alex fighting his way back to her.

This is becoming one of my favorite series and I’m very excited to start the third book.

These books are thick (this one is the longest in the series, at 567 pages) but they don’t take very long to read at all.  Part of it is the fact that the font is pretty big but most of it is the chapters are short and they tend to end on cliffhangers.  Good luck doing anything but reading these books once you start one.

Highly recommended.

Ashfall

Finished Ashfall by Mike Mullin.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.”

In a blurb for Ashfall, Michael Grant says something along the lines of how the scariest apocalypse is the one that could actually happen, and I completely agree with that.  This takes place as the supervolcano erupts (as the synopsis says) and this book is simply terrifying in parts.

It’s not just the fact that things get so scary so fast (ash is EVERYWHERE; the temperature changes almost immediately—things get very cold even in August—and the electricity, water and phone service are just gone) but you also quickly see the best and worst of humanity.  (Typically the worst, but there are some amazing people in here, too).

It’s always interesting to think how well I’d fare in these end-of-the-world scenarios.  I’m pretty sure not well.  I do like to think, though, that I’d be one of the nice ones.

I absolutely adored this book, even as it creeped me out.  I liked Alex and his determination to find his family.  (One thing, though—he always talks about how sullen he used to be, but he seemed like a decent person at the beginning.  I didn’t see that much character growth.  But that might be because things get real almost immediately after the book starts, so maybe I’m on board right as he becomes a grownup.)

This book is so incredibly plausible that I’m pretty sure it’ll make you uneasy, too.  Highly recommended.

Half Bad

Finished Half Bad by Sally Green.  I received a copy from the publisher through their First to Read program.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A stunning, magical debut. An international sensation.

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.”

I would advise you to only start this book if you have a large block of time.  Once you start, you won’t want to stop and you will hate everything and everyone that tries to take you away from it.  (I’m not kidding.)

Half Bad raises questions of nature vs. nurture and whether it’s possible that being “half black witch” is enough to negate the fact that you’re also obviously then half white witch.  (In the eyes of the society that Nathan lives in, no, it’s not enough.  Fortunately, his gran and and most of his siblings are wonderful so he’s not a complete outcast…but he’s not exactly welcomed by the world at large, either.)

I loved Nathan and the fact that he was determined to cling to his own moral compass even though everyone around him (except for his gran, brother and one of his two sisters) wanted to use him for their own devices.

My only complaint is that now I have to wait a year to learn what happens next.  I can’t wait for the next installment. Highly recommended.

Timestorm

Finished Timestorm by Julie Cross.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“The battle between the Tempest division and Eyewall comes to a shocking conclusion in this final installment of the Tempest trilogy, where the need for survival stretches the boundaries of history, both past and future, and the world Jackson once knew is a place forever marked by the detrimental effects of time travel.

As Jackson recovers from his brush with death, he’s surrounded not only by the people he loves most—his dad, Courtney, and Holly—he’s also amongst a few of the original time travelers. As he learns more about their life and how this world began, it becomes apparent that they need to put a stop to Thomas and Doctor Ludwig’s experimenting at Eyewall Headquarters. What starts out as an escape plan becomes a war between time and humanity, between freewill and peace. It’s the battle Jackson was born to fight and he’s not about to back down. Not for anything. Not for anyone.”

This is the third and final book in the Timestorm trilogy.  I feel like in general, it must be so hard to do the last book in a trilogy (or series) because expectations are so high and there are a lot of things to be wrapped up.  That’s especially true in this series, and I know there were a lot of things that I wanted to see happen.

We learned a lot more about time travel in this book, as well as about the initial people who had the gene.   That doesn’t detract from any of the action, however.  (And I love Julie Cross for that; it would’ve been easy for it to seem like information dumps, but they were just as riveting as the action sequences.)

As you’d expect, some characters died.  I don’t like when that happens (it always seems to be at least one character that I love) but I do respect it.  It shows that the author puts the story above reader feelings and in stories with dangerous situations, it’s unrealistic to expect that only secondary characters die.

I will miss these books and characters, but I can’t wait to see what Julie Cross does next.  Highly recommended.