Category Archives: Series

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.
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.



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.


Unholy Blue Cover Reveal


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.

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

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.)