Category Archives: Series

Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold

Finished Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn. I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Amazon):

“After the humiliating events on the 4th of July, Gemma’s trying to grapple with the fact that Hallie knew her true identity all summer, and that she was the one who stole Teddy from her.

Gemma vows revenge, but things immediately get more complicated than she planned. Her dad forces her to get a job, and the only one she can find involves scooping ice cream all day. Ford, Gemma’s longtime crush, has arrived in the Hamptons, and is cuter than ever. Josh is refusing to speak to her after finding out she lied to him. And to top it all off, Teddy is back in the picture, and closer to home than Gemma would like.

Gemma and Hallie find themselves locked in an escalating revenge cycle involving everything from strawberry syrup to stolen identities. But just when Gemma thinks she has the upper hand, the biggest bombshell of all is dropped. And it’s one that threatens to change her life forever.”

I am so in love with this series, I can’t even tell you.  This is the second book in a trilogy and I am both desperate to know what comes next and very sad at the thought that there’s only one more.

At the end of the first book, we received a bit of game-changing information, and that completely changed the way this book went. I love books that can completely change everything but in retrospect, you’re like, “OF COURSE!”  That happens a few times in this one, too.

The best part is the fact that in the first book, I was completely rooting for Gemma and Josh.  In this book, we meet Ford.  (And, like Gemma, I am now much more interested in Ford than I was in Josh.)

This is the kind of book that is just perfect for vacation reading or on days when you wish you were on vacation.

Highly recommended.

Blessed Are Those Who Weep

Finished Blessed Are Those Who Weep by Kristi Belcamino.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni stumbles onto a horrific crime scene with only one survivor—a baby girl found crawling between the dead bodies of her family members. Reeling from the slaughter, Gabriella clings to the infant. When Social Services pries the little girl from her arms, the enormity of the tragedy hits home. Diving deep into a case that brings her buried past to the forefront, Gabriella is determined to hunt down the killer who left this helpless baby an orphan.

But one by one the clues all lead to a dead end, and Gabriella’s obsession with finding justice pulls her into a dark, tortuous spiral that is set to destroy everything she loves …”

A lot of my friends are into mysteries, and all of a sudden, it seemed like everyone was talking about this book.  When that happens, I tend to pay attention.

This is the third book in a series, but it functions really well as a standalone.  (I do want to go back and read the first two books, though; the first one especially tends to ricochet all through the events of this one—it didn’t make me enjoy this any less, but it made me very curious to read it.)

I tend to really like books with journalists and this was no exception.  I’m not sure how long Gabriella would really last in the news business (she became part of the story in this book, and that tends to not work out so well in terms of keeping your job) but it was also obvious that she really loved her job and was good at it.

The mystery in this is incredibly well done and I can guarantee you that you won’t want to stop reading until you know exactly what’s going on.

Recommended.

Ruth’s Journey

Finished Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, here is the first-ever prequel to one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.

“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.

What follows is the sweeping tale of Ruth’s life as shaped by her strong-willed mistress and other larger-than-life personalities she encounters in the South: Jehu Glen, a free black man with whom Ruth falls madly in love; the shabbily genteel family that first hires Ruth as Mammy; Solange’s daughter Ellen and the rough Irishman, Gerald O’Hara, whom Ellen chooses to marry; the Butler family of Charleston and their shocking connection to Mammy Ruth; and finally Scarlett O’Hara—the irrepressible Southern belle Mammy raises from birth. As we witness the difficult coming of age felt by three generations of women, gifted storyteller Donald McCaig reveals a portrait of Mammy that is both nuanced and poignant, at once a proud woman and a captive, and a strict disciplinarian who has never experienced freedom herself. But despite the cruelties of a world that has decreed her a slave, Mammy endures, a rock in the river of time. She loves with a ferocity that would astonish those around her if they knew it. And she holds tight even to those who have been lost in the ravages of her days.

Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s unforgettable classic, Gone with the Wind.”

I was very excited for this book.  Even as the reviews came in and they were not kind, I continued to want to read it.

I should’ve listened.  Now, because I am not a huge fan of getting people NOT to read, here is why the book didn’t work for me.  If these don’t sound like a huge deal to you, carry on.

1)  Ruth/Mammy is obviously the focus of this book.  I knew that going in, but I thought that it would have more to do with Scarlett than it did.  In fact, it’s mostly about Solange; we don’t even meet Scarlett until the book is about 75% over.

2)  She’s psychic.  REALLY.  I don’t think this was necessary and it really detracted from my enjoyment.

3)  Mammy’s dialect is godawful.  Obviously she didn’t get schooling, but I don’t think her English would’ve been as horrible as it was here.  (“We am going to the fields aryday.”)

This book was a disappointment on every level, and I was fully expecting to love it.  (I even liked Scarlett and Rhett Butler’s People.)

I will say that once we got to the Scarlett and Gone With the Wind part (sort of—the book ends around the time Scarlett’s first husband died, and most of the part with Scarlett was Scarlett as a kid, which was actually really good), the book picked up.  But by then, it was pretty much over.

A Magic Dark and Bright

A MAGIC DARK AND BRIGHT
About the book: 
She meant to help a ghost…not unleash a curse.

Amelia Dupree hasn’t seen the Woman in White since the night her brother died.

The ghost seems to have disappeared from the woods surrounding Asylum, Pennsylvania—that is, until Charlie Blue moves into the creepy old MacAllister House next door. Amelia can’t help liking him, even though she spent her childhood thinking his grandmother was a witch. And she definitely can’t ignore the connection between his arrival and the Woman in White’s return.

Then Amelia learns that the Woman in White is a prisoner, trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead. Devastated by the idea that her brother could be suffering a similar fate, Amelia decides to do whatever it takes to help the Woman in White find peace–and Charlie agrees to help her.

But when Amelia’s classmates start to drown in the Susquehanna River, one right after another, rumors swirl as people begin to connect the timing of Charlie’s arrival with the unexplained deaths. As Charlie and Amelia uncover the dark history of Asylum, they realize they may have unleashed an unspeakable evil. One they have to stop before everything they love is destroyed.

Red Queen

Finished Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?”

First a warning: this book is going to absolutely dominate all your time until you finish it.  And once you do finish it, you will be desperate for the sequel.

I loved this book immediately.  The world and its class system (the Silvers are upperclass; the Reds are…well, I guess we can say somewhere around the level of serfs.  There’s no real middleground because even the lowliest Silver is worlds above the Reds and there are no Red subclasses) was fascinating to me.

And of course I love Mare.  I hate that so much of what happens is not within her control (as a Red, her entire life is basically her being a pawn for other people) but how she is determined to do what she can to make her family’s life better.

I can’t discuss too much more about the book because of spoilers, but suffice it to say that if you haven’t read this book yet, you need to.

Highly recommended.

An Ember in the Ashes

Finished An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.”

Because I got this through Penguin’s First to Read program, I had to read it through this very specific app, BlueFire.  I mention that because the day I was reading this book, my iPad kept crashing every 10 pages (at best; 5-6 pages at worst) so I read most of this almost 450-page book on my phone.  And I didn’t even mind, because the alternative—waiting over a month until the book was released—wasn’t even an option.  That should tell you how amazing this book is, right? I would rather read 450 pages on a phone screen than wait and read a normal size book.

Because you guys, this book really is fantastic.  I don’t read all that much fantasy anymore, but holy crap, this world that Sabaa Tahir made.

I have heard complaints that Laia’s sections were boring, but I didn’t find that to be true at all.  Yes, Elias’ sections are more action-packed (he goes through the trials, after all) but that doesn’t mean that hers were boring.  She was risking her life spying for the rebels, and was at the world’s scariest place, in close proximity to the world’s scariest person.  (Seriously, read this book and tell me the Commandant doesn’t give you chills.)

I have heard that this may be a standalone, but given the ending, I refuse to believe that’s true.  There has to be a sequel, right? Please say yes.

Highly recommended.

Tangled Magick

Tangled Magick is the second book in Jennifer Carson‘s Hapenny Magick series and will be released on April 21.  You can also add it to your Goodreads and follow her on Twitter.
Tangled-Magick-smallcover
Jacket copy:

“It’s been two years since Maewyn discovered her magick and saved the Wedge from a troll invasion. Now the hapenny villagers are embarking on an age-old tradition that was given up after the first troll invasion: A Great Expedition. This is a chance for the younger hapennies to discover the world outside of the Wedge.  But the world outside of the Wedge can be a scary place, and the hapennies soon find themselves knee deep in troll trouble.”

 

Don’t Stay Up Late

Finished Don’t Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

R.L. Stine’s hugely successful young adult horror series Fear Street is back after almost 2 decades. Fear Street is a worldwide phenomenon and helped to kick off the young adult craze which is still going strong today. In the second new book in this series, Don’t Stay Up Late, Stine explores the unbridled terror of a damaged young lady sent on a doomed babysitting job.

Ever since a car accident killed her father and put Lisa and her mother into the hospital, Lisa can’t think straight. She’s plagued by nightmares and hallucinations that force her to relive the accident over and over again in vivid detail. When Lisa finds out that a neighbor is looking for a babysitter for her young son, she takes the job immediately, eager to keep busy and shake these disturbing images from her head.

But what promised to be an easy gig turns terrifying when Lisa begins to question exactly who — or what — she is babysitting.”

As I said when the first Fear Street book came out, this absolutely makes my day.  I loved these books when I was younger, and I’m pretty sure that no one writes books that are more fun than R.L. Stine’s.

I absolutely love this book.  It’s kind of goofy in parts, and I’m not entirely sure that it’s going to scare anyone over the age of 10 or so, but I love it.  It’s incredibly fun and I read it in probably three hours, in one manic gulp.  Nostalgia is generally good for at least three stars for me, and this book has it to spare.

I’m not entirely sure why people continue to live (or babysit) on Fear Street.  It seems to be incredibly dangerous for your health (and, in this case, sanity).  But I guess their misery is a small price to pay for the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of these books over the years.  I cannot wait for the third book and I will read it the absolute second I can.

Recommended.

 

Leaving Amarillo

Finished Leaving Amarillo by Caisey Quinn.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Dixie Lark hasn’t had it easy. She lost her parents in an accident when she was young and grew up in a ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo with her ailing grandparents and overprotective older brother. Thanks to her grandfather, Dixie learned to play a mean fiddle, inspired by the sounds of the greats—Johnny and June, Waylon, and Hank. Her grandfather’s fiddle changed Dixie’s life forever, giving her an outlet for the turmoil of her broken heart and inspiring a daring dream.

Ten years later, Dixie and her brother, Dallas, are creating the music they love and chasing fame with their hot band, Leaving Amarillo. But Dixie isn’t enjoying the ride. All she can think about is Gavin, the band’s tattooed, tortured drummer who she’s loved since they were kids. She knows he feels the connection between them, but he refuses see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.

Convinced that one night with Gavin will get him out of her system, Dixie devises a plan. She doesn’t know that her brother has forbidden Gavin from making a move on her-a promise he swore he’d always keep . . . a promise that once broken will unexpectedly change the future for Dixie, Gavin and the band.”

Oh, this book.  It was pitched as a “New Age Nashville” and I was like, “SOLD!”

Dixie is a fantastic heroine.  I love her and her combination of sass and vulnerability, the way that she can ricochet from one to the other almost within the same moment.  And, like pretty much every woman I know, I have my own story of what we will call The Long-Standing Crush.  (In this case, of course, it’s Gavin.)

And oh, Gavin.  He’s hot and wounded and strong and broken.  He so clearly loves Dixie, but he knows that sometimes acting on romantic feelings is the fastest way to ruin relationships (his friendship with Dallas, but also potentially his friendship with Dixie).

Although it’s not a spoiler to say that of COURSE they hook up.  Of course they do.  (And oh WOW were those a hot few scenes.)

This left me desperate for the sequel, which is out this summer.

Recommended.

Unholy Blue Cover Reveal

Cover for UNHOLY BLUE

It’s the sequel to The Stag Lord and is written by Darby Kaye (a pen name for Darby Karchut).  Unholy Blue is adult urban fantasy.
Unholy Blue will be out in December from Spence City, an imprint of Spencer Hill Press.  Click here to add it to your Goodreads.
Jacket copy:

Strong and Rare and Irish.

That’s how Shay Doyle likes her whiskey. And men. As Healer to a clan of immortal Celtic warriors living in modern-day Colorado, she has been gifted with such a man: Bannerman “Bann” Boru. The only problem is keeping the stubborn warrior alive. For Fate seems to have it in for Bann, and his son, Cor, descendants of the kings of Ireland, and recipient of an ancient grudge from the mad god, Cernunnos.

But, with a bit o’ luck, Shay, Bann, and the rest of the Doyle clan—along with the aid of a legendary huntsman known as the Black Hand—might just suss out how to kill a shapeshifter that refuses to stay dead, prevent clan warfare, and make a choice that could change their lives.

If they don’t lose them first.

Praise for THE STAG LORD:

“A passionate story with a strong romance…Darby Kaye’s Tuatha Dé Danann shouldn’t be missed.” — M.D. Waters, author of Archetype and Prototype

“A refreshing glimpse into the world of Celtic mythology and tradition…and give us heroes we want to root for—and reasons to keep turning the pages.”

Walter H. Hunt, author of the Dark Wing Universe and Elements of Mind

“Delightful tale filled with action, mystery, and romance.” — Rabid Reads

“…highly recommend for fans of urban fantasy who are looking for brilliant characters to fall head-over-heels for.” — A Belle’s Tales.