Afterlife by Marcus Sakey #bookreview #thriller #fantasy

Soon to be a major motion picture from Imagine Entertainment and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds…and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion—a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people—until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love…with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect—and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

From the author of the million-copy bestselling Brilliance Trilogy comes a mind-bending thriller that explores our most haunting and fundamental question: What if death is just the beginning? – Goodreads.com

After finishing this book, I had to sit with it for a few days.  I’m a fan of Sakey’s Brilliance Trilogy – but Afterlife is a cut above and unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Whatever ideas you’ve entertained about the afterlife – I promise, you’ve never thought of it in this way.  Highly creative and thoroughly engaging, Afterlife is a phenomenal blend of thriller, fantasy, and love story set in a dark, dangerous world.

I really liked Will and Claire and their likability is crucial to this story.  Both possess characteristics you hope to see in law enforcement – unwavering honor, incredible bravery, and keen intelligence, although Claire is usually a couple of steps ahead of Will.  What they’re willing to sacrifice for mankind and each other is completely selfless.

Although I felt the strength of their bond later in the story, the initial connection between them wasn’t quite believable for me.  Maybe I’m just not an almost ‘love at first sight’ kind of person.

Afterlife is an epic battle between good and evil with an original, wondrous story that will stay with you long after finishing the last page.  I just hope they don’t screw up the movie.  This book is scheduled for release July 18th, 2017.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC.

 

 

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell #fantasy #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past. – Goodreads.com

First – this is a gorgeous cover and, combined with the description, immediately intrigued me.  Second – at over 500 pages, it’s a chunk, and I hesitated to request it because of time limitations.  Third – the time commitment was completely worth it, as this is one of the better books I’ve read this year.

The author has created a unique world, unlike any other I’ve read involving magic, and from the first page, I was captivated.  Esta is clever, impulsive, and a skilled thief and the friction between her and cunning magician Harte is born from the moment they see each other.  The supporting characters are all well-drawn and untrustworthy and through Esta and Harte’s eyes, the reader gradually learns who is reliable.

With grand heists, sleight of hand, time travel, and wicked, unexpected twists, this didn’t seem as hefty of a book once I got into it.  I was somewhat disappointed at the end when realizing this isn’t a standalone, but honestly don’t mind spending more time with these characters.  The Last Magician is scheduled for publication July 18th, 2017.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the digital ARC.

Echo of the Cliffs (Juniper Sawfeather #3) by D.G. Driver #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #YA @DGDriverAuthor

Three warriors asked the sun to grant them wishes of immortality to protect their people forever. One was turned into a merman, another was turned into a tree, and final warrior was turned into a stone.

Juniper Sawfeather has learned there is truth to this American Indian legend. She knows how it connects the mermaids she saved from an oil spill and the ancient spirit that trapped her in the branches of an Old Growth tree. Now she wants to find out if the final part of this legend is true: that some kind of magical stone exists. A lone mermaid finds her and shares a vision of a cliff along the ocean shore. This must be the place, and June knows she needs to find it.

Tragedy happens when her parents take Carter and her on a mission to the San Juan Strait to collect evidence of construction run-off pollution, and they are attacked by a killer whale. June is convinced that the killer whale was led by mermaids, and she is desperate to find out why they attacked and where they are hiding. Once again, Juniper is on a heroic mission, the most frightening adventure yet. A thrilling ending to this award-winning trilogy! – Goodreads.com

I don’t think I could be Juniper Sawfeather’s mother.  Juniper continually finds herself in life-threatening, precarious situations – and yet she has these wondrous, magical experiences that go along with them.  Not sure if my heart could take the life-threatening aspects.  This book is no different – I gasped more than once at unexpected events while reading.

With its environmental focus, the inclusion of American-Indian mythology, and a young protagonist who knows her own mind and doesn’t bow to the whims of high school drama, the Juniper Sawfeather collection defined itself as an intelligent YA series from page one of the first book, Cry of the Sea.

The lovable supporting characters are still here – Carter, the supportive boyfriend and Haley, the encouraging best friend, as well as those you love to hate – narcissistic Regina.  Juniper’s parents are still somewhat controlling, but in comparison to the first book, I liked seeing the turbulent relationship between Juniper and her parents mature to the point that they’ve begun to trust her decisions and consider her opinions.  By the end of this book, Juniper forms a logical plan to carve a path for her future, leaving the door cracked for a possible return to this character at a later time – I’m hoping!

I’m sad to see this series wrap up, but very pleased with the way the author ended it in that she stayed true to her characters and the story line.  I’d highly recommend this refreshing, smart YA fantasy series.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author.

The Possible by Tara Altebrando #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview

What if…no one knows the truth about you?

It’s been thirteen years since Kaylee’s infamous birth mother, Crystal, received a life sentence for killing Kaylee’s little brother in a fit of rage. Once the center of a cult-following for her apparent telekinetic powers, nowadays nobody’s heard of Crystal. Until now, when a reporter shows up at Kaylee’s house and turns her life upside down, offering Kaylee the chance to be part of a high-profile podcast investigating claims that Crystal truly did have supernatural mind powers. But these questions lead to disturbing answers as Kaylee is forced to examine her own increasingly strange life, and make sense of certain dark and troubling coincidences…

Unusual and gripping, The Possible will twist the reader round and round as it hurtles towards a sensational climax. For lovers of We Were Liars, Patrick Ness and Derren Brown. – Goodreads.com

This author’s previous book, The Leaving, was so compelling I immediately requested The Possible when I saw it on NetGalley.  The cover is beautiful and the mention of telekinesis really caught my attention.  Is Crystal’s claim of telekinesis a hoax?  Does Kaylee have telekinetic powers?  A few twists caused me to change my mind several times throughout the book.  And I love the idea of a granny pod.

Although Kaylee’s best friends are likable, level-headed teens, I didn’t care much for her character at all – which isn’t a deal breaker for me – but I wondered why her friends stuck around.  She undergoes a change by the end of the book, but for the better part of the story, I found myself searching for some characteristic to warrant the loyalty of her friends.  The gradual building of the climax kept me hooked, but the events really require a heavy suspension of disbelief.

The Possible didn’t grab me like The Leaving, but I’d recommend this book to readers fascinated by unexplained events and the questionable effects and reliability of media coverage.  This book is scheduled for publication June 6th, 2017.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

 

The Playground by C.S. Boyack #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #paranormal @virgilante

The hottest toys of the Christmas Season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except, the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for more mature readers, due to violence and mature themes. – Goodreads.com

In the guest room where my sons slept when we visited my in-laws, my mother-in-law displayed a doll collection.  I think the boys slept in that room exactly one night before moving to the finished basement – they said the dolls stared at them and were creepy.  If my MIL’s dolls had been like those in The Playground, I’m convinced it would have pushed my sons over the edge and I’d be knee deep in therapy bills right now.  So that should tell you something about how chilling this story is.

Each of the three vastly different character arcs are riveting, but of the three, Clovis is my favorite – he’s a hardened, professional killer, but anyone with a soft spot for animals and kids can’t be all bad in my book.  That being said, I admired Gina for having her whole life disrupted, accepting her new ‘job’ so gracefully, and embracing her bizarre duties.

The Playground is dark, gruesome, and thrilling and a must read for horror/paranormal thriller fans.  The ending made me wonder if this is the beginning of a series for some of these characters – something I’d be very interested in reading.

 

House of Furies (House of Furies #1) by Madeleine Roux #bookreview #horror

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house’s mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved.

Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?

Featuring stunning interior illustrations from artist Iris Compiet, plus photo-collages that bring Coldthistle House to chilling life, House of Furies invites readers to a world where the line between monsters and men is ghostly thin. – Goodreads.

This cover really grabbed my attention first, and although I haven’t read any other books by this author, her name caught my attention second because of her Asylum series, and I immediately requested this novel.

House of Furies is very well-written, with incredible imagery.  From Mr. Morningside’s office, to Coldthistle House, to the fate of some of its inhabitants – the descriptions were eerie and vivid.

Louisa’s character was admirable in the way that she stood up to Mr. Morningside and demonstrated strong loyalty to her friends, yet I also appreciated her flaws, which made her character more interesting and complex.  Despite Mr. Morningside’s alleged identity, I enjoyed his character and found myself agreeing with some of his actions.

As with most gothic horror, this book is more of a slow burn, but a very enjoyable, creepy read.  Although classified as YA horror, this would also appeal to adults.  House of Furies is scheduled for publication May 30th, 2017.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the digital ARC.

Eclipse Lake by Mae Clair #IndieAuthor #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #mystery

Small towns hold the darkest secrets.

Fifteen years after leaving his criminal past and estranged brother behind, widower Dane Carlisle returns to his hometown on the banks of sleepy Eclipse Lake. Now, a successful businessman, he has kept his troubled past a secret from most everyone, including his seventeen-year-old son.

But memories in small towns are bitter and long.

Ellie Sullivan, a nature photographer for a national magazine, has a habit of ping-ponging across the map. Her latest assignment leads her to Eclipse Lake where she becomes caught up in the enmity between Dane, his brother Jonah, and a vengeful town sheriff. When freshly-discovered skeletal remains are linked to an unsolved murder and Dane’s past, Ellie is left questioning her growing attraction for a man who harbors long-buried secrets. – Goodreads.com

If I knew nothing about this book, I’d want to read it based on the cover alone – isn’t it the perfect picture of tranquility?  But don’t be misled because, as it also says on the cover, ‘Small towns hold the darkest secrets.’  And that is so true of the town of Eclipse Lake.

Mae Clair captures the atmosphere of small towns so well – the gossip, reputations that are never forgotten, nosy neighbors, etc.  But she also creates characters that lure you into that small town, asking you to stay awhile and learn their hidden secrets and scandals.  And that’s why I found it so difficult to put this book down.

Most people who read this will be charmed by the romance between Dane and Ellie – and I was, but the relationship that wormed its way into my heart was between Dane and his son, Jesse.  I loved how they were so protective of each other and the way Jesse’s respect for his father grew even more (eventually) upon learning about his past.  As an animal lover, Koya also stole my heart.

When the mystery is revealed – I sure didn’t see that one coming.  Thought I had it figured out all along – wrong!

Well-paced, both captivating and unlikable characters, clashing family dynamics – Eclipse Lake offers mystery and suspense as well as a good redemption story.