The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee #bookreview #YA #LGBT

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

I’ve had this book in my TBR for a while, and when I had to be in the car for an extended period, I took advantage of the audio book.  And I wonder why I waited so long to get to this fabulous novel.

Christian Coulson is an outstanding narrator and a perfect voice for Monty.  Monty himself is a mess – narcissistic, oblivious, and generally a danger to himself and others with his actions, but he does it in such a charming way, you can’t help but go along with him.  And Percy – such a sweet, gentle soul who deserves some sort of award for sticking by Monty for so long.  Their Grand Tour is one dangerous situation after another, mostly due to Monty’s poor decisions, but an exciting, nerve-wracking adventure for the reader.  He has so many quotable lines, I could fill a notebook with them.

This is an easy five stars for me, and I only regret it took me this long to read the novel.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction with a heavy dose of humor and adventure, and brash, self-destructive MCs with a good heart, here it is.  It’s a wildly entertaining ride.

 

Hood Academy by Shelley Wilson #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Will she follow the pack…or destroy them?

A dead mother. A violent father. A missing brother.

When Mia’s father is murdered, it’s her estranged uncle that comes to the rescue, but what he offers her in return for his help could be worse than the life she is leaving behind.

Taken to Hood Academy, a unique school deep in the forest, she discovers friendships, love, and the courage to stand on her own.

Mia takes the oath that seals her future as a werewolf hunter, but not everyone wants Mia to succeed.

Screams in the night. Secret rooms. Hidden letters. Mia becomes an important piece in a game she doesn’t want to play.

Loyalty, friendships, and family bonds are tested as Mia discovers her true identity, but will the truth set her free, or will it destroy her? 

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book featuring werewolves (Twilight maybe?), so I was excited to get into this novel.  And the cover designer did a magnificent job at capturing readers’ attention.

This novel starts out with a heart-pounding sequence when Mia witnesses a werewolf killing her father.  From there, the plot takes off at a fast pace and rarely slows down.  Mia is a strong protagonist, occasionally leaping into action before thinking things through, and she’s suffered the loss of her mother, abuse from her father, and feels abandoned by her brother.  Without giving away spoilers, the author did a fantastic job at introducing conflict to the story, and Mia’s loyalties are pulled in several directions.

The transformation of human to werewolf is described in detail with vivid imagery, including both the immense pain involved and the feeling of power and animal instincts upon completion.  Being a science nerd, Sebastian’s research fascinated me, and this is an angle I haven’t seen explored in other werewolf books.  I also enjoyed the loyal friendship between Mia and Elizabeth and, lacking a female presence in her life since the death of her mother, her relationship with her teacher, Miss Ross.

Something I missed was more interaction between Mia and a character from her past who turns up again.  In the beginning of part two of the book, part one was summarized, giving the impression of two separate books being combined.  As I read an ARC, this is something that may change in the final version.

If you’re a fan of fast-paced urban fantasy with likeable characters and strong friendships, add Hood Academy to your TBR.  It also boasts some pretty cool werewolves!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

All the Love You Write by D.G. Driver #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #YA #RBRT

A story about young love, first love, true love, timeless love, and the power of love letters.

Mark and Bethany are two mismatched high school seniors in a new relationship.

It’s doomed to fail.

Mark has adored Bethany since middle school, and she’s finally giving him a chance. Only, he’s clumsy at romance and knows he’ll lose her because of it. Bethany thinks Mark is sweet. Only, she’s afraid to commit her whole heart to him because he’s going into the army and she’s headed off to college.

Fifty years earlier, a boy and a girl from the same high school shared an amazing but tragic love story. They have now returned as ghosts and are interfering in Mark and Bethany’s relationship.

Who are they? Why do they care what happens to Mark and Bethany?

I’ve read nearly every book D.G. Driver has written, and they’ve never disappointed me.  All the Love You Write is no different.

When I learned this story was the continuation of the author’s 2015 novella, Passing Notes, I couldn’t wait to read it.  As with the novella, this is a sweet, heartwarming tale, and I challenge anyone to read it and not have their heartstrings tugged.  The author does an excellent job at portraying the awkwardness of first relationships, especially in the case of Mark.  As the mother of sons, I saw several parallels and chuckled many times over his actions.

One of the characters frustrated me for a good portion of the book.  I wanted to tell this person they were doing it all wrong, but one of the ghosts took care of that for me.  I’m a fan of anything supernatural, so that aspect and the connection to Mark were some of my favorite things about the story.

The fact that Bethany excels academically and is on a college track, while Mark has struggled in school and chooses to serve his country in the army is a source of conflict between the couple.  It’s also an apt depiction of how college isn’t the path for everyone, while pointing out the many educational and career advancement opportunities within the military.

It’s clear the author did her research into the time period of the Vietnam War – not only historic events that took place, but also how relationships and opportunities for women were vastly different from today.

If you’re a fan of love stories – or even better, supernatural love stories, All the Love You Write is an inspiring tale with some some heartfelt messages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Chills and Creeps: Eight Scary Stories by Nick Clausen #bookreview #shortstories #RBRT

In this collection, you’ll meet …

Peter, who meets an upholsterer who really likes his skin. Mary, who gets a pet fish thatwill only eat human flesh. Daniel, who plays a game that becomes real in his dreams. Eagle, who has a disease that make birds attack him wherever he goes. Joseph, who plays tennis with a ghost. Nadia, who gets trapped in a house slowly filling up with water. Calvin, whose sister visits a hypnotist and becomes someone else. And Noah, who learns to control lights with his mind.

Eight stories spanning horror, dark fantasy and science fiction, all set in everyday life while exploring the dark, the evil and the supernatural. 

I haven’t read many short story collections, but for me, a horror/supernatural compilation is irresistable.

At the end of each tale, the author shares what sparked the idea – a nice personal touch.  I find story origins interesting.  All are eerie and enjoyable, but I have my favorites.

When I Snap My Fingers – The concept of reincarnation has always fascinated me, and the way it’s incorporated will give you chills down your spine.  And have you avoiding hypnotists.

Ghost Tennis – You might be lured into thinking this is a friendly ghost story – don’t be fooled.  The ending is wickedly perfect.

Drip-Drip-Drip – As someone who is slightly claustrophobic, I was uncomfortable reading this one.

Not all the stories worked for me.  Some had less plausible plots and character actions which I felt needed another tweak with a content edit.  Even though it’s fiction, it still needs to be believable.  Other reviewers have mentioned this book is suitable for children, but because of some language sprinkled throughout, I wouldn’t recommend it for readers under the age of thirteen.

Dark, evil, and supernatural tales may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for horror fans, this is creepy collection that can be read in a couple of hours.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Rosie’s Book Review Team.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.

I’m a big fan of both comp titles – A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was one of my favorite reads this year.  And when the description mentioned Vlad the Impaler and a cursed ring – I didn’t care about the rest of the blurb.  I needed to read this book.

What a thrilling adventure!  Theo and Huck find themselves in one predicament after another while searching for her father across the Eastern European countryside.  They struggle to survive – and with people chasing them, wolves, the elements, and magic, it’s not an easy task.  That, combined with Theo solving ciphers and puzzles and the teasing dialogue gives this the feel of an Indiana Jones movie.

Theo is headstrong, intelligent, and determined not to remain on the sidelines while her father goes treasure-hunting.  Huck is a good match for her, being equally stubborn and adventurous.  His way of misquoting common sayings makes him even more adorable and appealing.

Folklore, hidden family secrets, romance, adventure, mystery, castles, cursed artifacts – this book is a wild romp.  It’s a little lighter on fantasy than I expected; instead, it ventures into historical fiction, and the setting descriptions are vivid and rich.  I’m not sure if the author plans a series, but if she does, I’ll be adding the next book to my list.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Murder Complex (The Murder Complex #1) by Lindsay Cummings #bookreview #YA #dystopian

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

I’ve had this in my TBR for far too long, and after finishing it, I’m sorry I didn’t get to it sooner.

When another author friend recommended this book, I looked it up and loved the premise.  Having La Femme Nikita as a comp title was just icing on the cake.  Trained assassins, a government who tracks population numbers, a fierce female protagonist, and family secrets – what’s not to like?  Be warned – this is a dark storyline with violence and some graphic deaths, so it may not be to everyone’s taste; however, if you enjoy thrilling plot twists and outstanding action sequences, this could be for you.  I felt like the romance happened at the speed of lightning (literally love at first sight for one of the characters), but it didn’t really overshadow the plot.

Several reviewers have commented on the violence, but I felt it was comparable to The Hunger Games.  I’ve already downloaded the next book, and I guarantee it won’t take me so long to read this one.

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones #bookreview #YA #fantasy#TuesdayBookBlog

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it about Ellis that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves. 

Besides the dazzling cover, this intriguing description caught my attention.  I’ve read numerous stories about risen corpses, but they were usually zombies.  Bone houses are a unique take, and I had to know more about them.

Characterization is strong in this novel.  From the main characters, supporting characters, and down to the loyal, territory-defending goat, I enjoyed all of them.  Ryn is a take-charge, driven main character and as a gravedigger possesses a strong sense of compassion and respect for the dead.  After losing her parents, providing for her brother and sister is her priority.  Ellis has a mysterious past, and it’s refreshing to see a male character who knows his strengths and limits and isn’t afraid to let a female take the lead.  Their relationship develops naturally with occasional sarcastic banter that gave me some laughs.

It’s difficult to put a new spin on zombies, but this author manages to do it.  Bone houses aren’t the typical risen dead – no spoilers – and they provide some nail-biting moments.

This isn’t really a fast-paced novel, and some parts are predictable, but the story pulls you in and makes it difficult to put down the book.

Because it features risen corpses, don’t think The Bone Houses is a horror novel – it’s far from it.  The overriding themes are the importance of family and learning to move on after a loss.  It’s an unusual story I’d recommend to fans of supernatural tales.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.