Category Archives: Series

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.

 

The Burnt Bones Cover Reveal

The Burnt Bones final cover

The Burnt Bones will be released next March from Spencer Hill Press.  Click here to add it to your Goodreads.
Jacket copy:

Just when Finn MacCullen thought fate couldn’t kick him any harder after the events of the Festival of the Hunt, it does. Now, he must overcome a series of nearly impossible trials to prove his worth as an apprentice, or lose his place at his master Gideon’s side.

But Finn and Gideon and their friends are determined to boot fate right back. They’re going to do whatever it takes to succeed, including teaming up with a sorceress and a certain teen angel.

However, Finn’s life has as many twists as a Celtic knot, and master and apprentice find themselves in their ancestral homeland of Ireland with only their wits—and a fair bit of the Black Hand’s charm—to protect them from the vengeful Celtic goddess known as the Scáthach.

In this heart-stopping finale of the award-winning series, it’s going to take every scrap of Finn’s Irish luck and pluck to save himself, and his master, from death. Or worse.

Bio:
Darby Karchut B&W author photo

Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter. She’s been known to run in blizzards and bike in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy writing urban fantasy for tweens, teens, and adults. Visit her at www.darbykarchut.com

Bet Your Life

Finished Bet Your Life by Jane Casey.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Jess Tennant has now been living in a tiny town on the English seaside for three months, and is just beginning to relax and think of it as home after the traumatic events of last summer. But in the small hours of Halloween night, a teenage boy is left for dead by the side of the road. Seb Dawson has a serious head injury and may not survive. Jess might not have liked Seb much, but surely he didn’t deserve this. The police don’t seem to be taking the attack very seriously, but Jess can’t just let it go, and she takes matters into her own hands.

As she investigates, Jess discovers that Seb was involved in some very dangerous games. A secret predator around girls, he would do whatever it took to abuse them, from lying and blackmail to spiking drinks. Could a group of vengeful victims be behind his attack? Or is there someone else with a grudge against Seb, who will stop at nothing to silence him? Jane Casey returns with another edge-of-your-seat mystery in Bet Your Life.”

Like its predecessor (How to Fall), this book is incredibly fun.

Jess has been dragged into another mystery (this one a little more plausible) and while she remembers what happened to her last time (I guess nearly dying will do that), she also can’t resist helping.  (Seb’s little sister wants to know what happened to him and doesn’t buy the police investigation’s result.)

I’m not entirely sure that there can be a third one, but I’ve enjoyed these two books a great deal.

I also want to check out Jane Casey’s adult series.  I like her writing style a great deal.

How to Fall

Finished How to Fall by Jane Casey.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Jess Tennant has never met any of her relatives, until her mom suddenly drags her out of London to spend the summer in the tiny English town where her family’s from. Her mom’s decision is surprising, but even more surprising is the town’s reaction to Jess. Everywhere she goes, people look at her like they’ve seen a ghost. In a way, they have—she looks just like her cousin Freya, who died shortly before Jess came to town.

Jess immediately feels a strange connection to Freya, whom she never got to meet alive. But the more Jess learns about the secrets Freya was keeping while she was alive, the more suspicious Freya’s death starts to look. One thing is for sure: this will be anything but the safe, boring summer in the country Jess was expecting.

Beloved author Jane Casey breaks new ground with How to Fall, a thrilling and insightfully written mystery.”

Jess isn’t necessarily happy to be in a strange town, away from her dad and friends—although she’s kind of excited to meet her mom’s family.  (They’ve been estranged for years, for kind of murky reasons…and now there’s another interesting facet because Jess looks just like her cousin Freya…who died under suspicious circumstances.  As in it may have been an accident.  Or suicide.  Or murder.)

And Jess decides her summer project is going to be to learn exactly what happened to Freya.  And not surprisingly, everyone is against this idea.

I had heard mixed reviews about this but I really enjoyed it.

The idea of identical cousins is not a new one, but this is definitely an interesting take on the trope.

I had mixed feelings about Jess.  I liked her for the most part, but she didn’t really think about things or plan them well.  This is probably not too surprising, given that she’s a teenage girl, but if you’re going to investigate something that may have been  a murder, you need to be careful and make good plans.  (Because if it was a murder and the killer has gotten away with it up to this point, they are going to not be pleased that you are bringing it up again.)

This was a fun book that kept my interest and I’m excited to get to read the sequel (although I’m a little suspicious that she stumbles into another mystery in this really small town.  But we’ll see).

We Can Work It Out

Finished We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg.

Summary (from Goodreads):

When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.

But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.

Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.

Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create.”

This is another sweet, fun read by Elizabeth Eulberg.  I haven’t read all of her other books, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ones I have read.

I love the idea that this book centers around the fact that you can hurt people by mistake, by trying to do the best thing.  A lot of times, you don’t realize the impact that your actions can have on other people until it’s too late.  In Penny’s case, she’s trying so hard to maintain her individuality and sense of self while being in a relationship that she forgets to act like she’s actually IN a relationship.

I hope there’s another book about Penny Lane.  (Or maybe one about her sisters? I could go for a Rita story.)

The Lonely Hearts Club Band

Finished The Lonely Hearts Club Band by Elizabeth Eulberg.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Love is all you need… or is it? Penny’s about to find out in this wonderful debut.

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It’s a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there’s this certain boy she can’t help but like. . . .”

This book is completely adorable.  I love the concept behind it, and I love the fact that Penny is a huge, HUGE fan of the Beatles.  (It really could’ve gone either way, given the fact that her parents loved them so much that her actual name is Penny Lane Bloom, and her parents insist on her being referred to as Penny Lane; her two older sisters are Lucy and Rita.  So it’s pretty fortunate that she loves the Beatles, because otherwise her life would be pretty wretched.)

And I love the fact that this book focuses so much on how important friendship is.  I know a lot of people who ditch their friends when they start dating, so it was good to see friends who put each other first.

I also enjoyed the fact that not all boys are portrayed as being evil (accidentally or on purpose) or in some way horrible.  (Many high school boys are, of course, but not everyone.)  There are a couple boys in here who are pretty fantastic (and a couple girls who are hideous).

If you’re looking for a fun, sweet, fast read that will make you smile, this is the book for you.

Hush Hush

Finished Hush Hush by Laura Lippman.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The award-winning New York Times bestselling author of After I’m Gone, The Most Dangerous Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know brings back private detective Tess Monaghan, introduced in the classic Baltimore Blues, in an absorbing mystery that plunges the new parent into a disturbing case involving murder and a manipulative mother.

On a searing August day, Melisandre Harris Dawes committed the unthinkable: she left her two-month-old daughter locked in a car while she sat nearby on the shores of the Patapsco River. Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, although there was much skepticism about her mental state. Freed, she left the country, her husband and her two surviving children, determined to start over.

But now Melisandre has returned Baltimore to meet with her estranged teenage daughters and wants to film the reunion for a documentary. The problem is, she relinquished custody and her ex, now remarried, isn’t sure he approves.

Now that’s she’s a mother herself–short on time, patience–Tess Monaghan wants nothing to do with a woman crazy enough to have killed her own child. But her mentor and close friend Tyner Gray, Melisandre’s lawyer, has asked Tess and her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez, to assess Melisandre’s security needs.

As a former reporter and private investigator, Tess tries to understand why other people break the rules and the law. Yet the imperious Melisandre is something far different from anyone she’s encountered. A decade ago, a judge ruled that Melisandre was beyond rational thought. But was she? Tess tries to ignore the discomfort she feels around the confident, manipulative Melisandre. But that gets tricky after Melisandre becomes a prime suspect in a murder.

Yet as her suspicions deepen, Tess realizes that just as she’s been scrutinizing Melisandre, a judgmental stalker has been watching her every move as well. . . . ”

I’ve loved Laura Lippman’s novels for years, and while I absolutely adore her standalones, I have a major soft spot for her Tess Monaghan novels.  But Tess has been largely absent for years (completely out of most of the books, although she’s had a few cameos).  Now, though, she’s finally back.

It would have been easy to expect her to be gone for good.  Now she and Crow have a young daughter, Carla Scout.  So how can Tess do her PI work with a three-year-old around?  Oh, ye of little faith.

The woman at the center of this novel is Melisandre Dawes, who was found not guilty (by reason of insanity) of killing her baby daughter years ago.  She left the child to die in a hot car (on purpose) and fled the city (and state and country) as soon as she could.  But now she’s back and she wants to have a relationship with her two older girls, who are now in their teens.  There’s a lot more going on, of course, but that would be spoiling things.

Tess Monaghan is one of my favorite characters, someone who is clearly the literary descendent of my beloved VI Warshawski.  Like Vic, Tess fights for the underdog and is much braver than anyone could reasonably expect to be.  And like Vic, the city she lives in plays a major part in the book.  But while VI lives in Chicago, Tess lives in Baltimore.  (And in this book, I was happy to see that I knew where every place mentioned was.  Love this city!)

If you’ve already read Laura Lippman’s books, I don’t need to sell you on them.  If you haven’t, this is an excellent one to start with.

Highly recommended.

Split Second

Finished Split Second by Kasie West.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything.”

I really loved Pivot Point, so I have no idea why I waited so long to read this.  (I’m sorry, me!)

This book is so different from Kasie West’s standalone contemps, but I absolutely love both.  This is more of a paranormal novel, although it reads like contemp if that makes sense.

Because I read this so long after I read Pivot Point, I had forgotten a lot of the things that happened in that book.  (I mention that because this book still made perfect sense to me.  So it does function as a standalone, although I think you’d enjoy it more if you read the first one.  Maybe you’ll be smarter than I was and read them back to back, now that you can.)

Even if you think you don’t like paranormals, read this anyway.  It’s amazing.

Recommended.

The Year of the Book

Finished The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated. When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time, or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot—constant companionship and insight into her changing world. Books, however, can’t tell Anna how to find a true friend. She’ll have to discover that on her own. In the tradition of classics like Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books and Eleanor Estes’ One Hundred Dresses, this novel subtly explores what it takes to make friends and what it means to be one.

It’s not a huge surprise that I love books about books, and this is a really sweet one.

Anna has a hard time fitting in, probably because she prefers to spend her time with books than with actual people.  The books she loves help her to make sense of the world, and they always manage to make her feel better about her life.

Except the problem with books is that they can’t really be her friends.  And they can’t help her figure out how to actually talk to people.  Or to understand why her mom insists that she (a) accompany her to work on the weekends and (b) go to Chinese school.

I hope someone comes up with a reading challenge based on the books that Anna reads.  (I’ve read some, but not all and they sound really good.)

I was also excited to learn that this is the first book in a series.  I can’t get to the other books yet, but I definitely want to revisit Anna and her family soon.

Recommended.