#BadMoonRising Broken World (Perfect World #3) by Shari Sakurai #thriller #LGBTQ

Today’s author is here with her newest release, the third in her Perfect World series. She’s also written a vampire series (I’ve read one of the books and it’s fabulous) if that’s your beverage of choice (I’m not implying blood). She’s no stranger to shadow people, but just wishes they’d give her more notice before showing up. Welcome Shari Sakurai!

Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

I would say it is the death of Rey Rivera, which was featured on Unsolved Mysteries. The police said it was suicide, but I honestly don’t know how they came to that conclusion as there were so many strange things about that case and to me all of them pointed to murder! I really hope that one day the truth comes out to give his poor family the closure they need.

Do you believe in any ‘mythical’ monsters like chupacabras or shadow people?

Definitely! I have seen shadow people before. None of my encounters have been frightening but they always make me jump as they appear when I am least expecting them too!

If you could have a spooky Halloween pet (black cat, owl, bat, rat, wolf, etc.), which would you choose?

I have a black (and white) cat so I kind of already do have a spooky pet! I’ve had a black rat before too!

Have you ever traveled as research for any of your books? 

When I went to Japan in 2015 part of this was research for Demon’s Life. I went to a castle in Kyoto and learned a lot for reference when writing. I am also using this knowledge for my current WIP Demon’s Past too.

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing? 

Tash doesn’t really get in the way, but she loves to be close to me when I am writing. She will often sleep on top of my laptop case, so it is permanently covered in cat hair!

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on Demon’s Past, which is the next installment in my Demon’s Blood universe. Demon’s Past is set in the 1800s and explores how Taku and Thane met as well as Thane’s path to becoming a vampire.

Eric Rawlins has made the people of England a promise. That he will stand for them against Ivan Williams and the L.S.A, but with politics and agendas threatening to dictate his every move, Eric struggles to find allies that he can trust.

When a daring mission to rescue Adam’s staff goes awry, Eric finds that he is starting to question himself in ways that shake him to the very core. Whilst grappling with his inner turmoil, Eric can also see that Adam is struggling against his own demons.

As the pressure begins to build, Eric takes the fight to Williams. However, Adam’s dangerous obsession with revenge threatens to not only put the entire operation in jeopardy, but his relationship with Eric too.

Purchase Link

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B37SMYZQ

Author Bio and Social Media

Shari Sakurai is a British author of paranormal, horror, science fiction and fantasy novels that almost always feature a LGBTQ protagonist and/or antagonist. She has always loved to write and it is her escape from the sometimes stressful modern life!

Aside from writing, Shari enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to (loud!) music, going to rock concerts and learning more about other societies and cultures. Japanese culture is of particular interest to her and she often incorporates Japanese themes and influences into her work.

Shari loves a challenge and has taken part and won the National Novel Writing Month challenge thirteen times!

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShariSakurai

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/sharisakurai

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shari_sakurai/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7756989.Shari_Sakurai

Website: http://www.sharisakurai.com

Silver Under Nightfall by Rin Chupeco and Daphne by Josh Malerman #bookreview #horror #asianmyth #vampires #LGBTQ

I know I’ve been featuring more reviews than usual lately (and you’re probably getting a little tired of them), but I’ve been trying to get the September releases posted before Bad Moon Rising takes over the month of October. The fun starts tomorrow with the preview of BMR authors!

Full of court intrigue, queer romance, and terrifying monsters—this gothic epic fantasy will appeal to fans of Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree and the adult animated series Castlevania.

Remy Pendergast is many things: the only son of the Duke of Valenbonne (though his father might wish otherwise), an elite bounty hunter of rogue vampires, and an outcast among his fellow Reapers. His mother was the subject of gossip even before she eloped with a vampire, giving rise to the rumors that Remy is half-vampire himself. Though the kingdom of Aluria barely tolerates him, Remy’s father has been shaping him into a weapon to fight for the kingdom at any cost.

When a terrifying new breed of vampire is sighted outside of the city, Remy prepares to investigate alone. But then he encounters the shockingly warmhearted vampire heiress Xiaodan Song and her infuriatingly arrogant fiancé, vampire lord Zidan Malekh, who may hold the key to defeating the creatures—though he knows associating with them won’t do his reputation any favors. When he’s offered a spot alongside them to find the truth about the mutating virus Rot that’s plaguing the kingdom, Remy faces a choice.

It’s one he’s certain he’ll regret.

But as the three face dangerous hardships during their journey, Remy develops fond and complicated feelings for the couple. He begins to question what he holds true about vampires, as well as the story behind his own family legacy. As the Rot continues to spread across the kingdom, Remy must decide where his loyalties lie: with his father and the kingdom he’s been trained all his life to defend or the vampires who might just be the death of him. 

I’m a fan of Chupeco’s YA books and jumped at the chance to read their first foray into the adult genre. I nearly did a happy dance when I learned the story involves vampires.

Remy’s life hasn’t been an easy one. He’s a vampire hunter but is shunned by other hunters because of rumors his mother ran away with a vampire – and Remy might be half vampire. His father, a human and former hunter, is ambitious, power-hungry, and constantly demeans Remy. He also pimps Remy out to the wives of men who hold strategic positions in society in order to gain information. Trust me, no Father of the Year trophies will ever grace this guy’s mantle. As a result of all this, Remy doesn’t think highly of himself and believes he’s not worthy of kindness from anyone. He’s definitely an easy character to root for.

When a new breed of vampire shows up, Remy finds himself teamed up with an engaged vampire couple, both of them high up in their respective courts. Having read several vampire books, I liked this different take on a mutant strain of vamps. I also enjoyed seeing a human and vampires working alongside each other, encountering plenty of obstacles along the way, in order to discover who’s behind the Rot. What Remy lacks in self-esteem he more than makes up for as a hunter and can hold his own in a fight. And there are plenty of bloody ones in this story. It’s also full of gothic atmosphere, and the polyamorous relationship that develops between the three of them is pretty amusing at times because of differing personalities. Seeing Remy begin to realize he’s worthy of love and kindness also comes with some heartfelt moments.

At over five hundred pages, this is a chunk of a novel that moves at a brisk pace. It’s not listed as a series on Goodreads, but the ending makes me believe a sequel will be coming – and I’ll absolutely be reading it. HIghly recommend to fans of supernatural mystery.

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

It’s the last summer for Kit Lamb: The last summer before college. The last summer with her high school basketball team, and with Dana, her best friend. The last summer before her life begins.

But the night before the big game, one of the players tells a ghost story about Daphne, a girl who went to their school many years ago and died under mysterious circumstances. Some say she was murdered, others that she died by her own hand. And some say that Daphne is a murderer herself. They also say that Daphne is still out there, obsessed with revenge, and will appear to kill again anytime someone thinks about her.

After Kit hears the story, her teammates vanish, one by one, and Kit begins to suspect that the stories about Daphne are real . . . and to fear that her own mind is conjuring the killer. Now it’s a race against time as Kit searches for the truth behind the legend and learns to face her own fears—before the summer of her life becomes the last summer of her life.

Mixing a nostalgic coming-of-age story and an instantly iconic female villain with an innovative new vision of classic horror, Daphne is an unforgettable thriller as only Josh Malerman could imagine it.

When you’re told not to think about a certain thing, see how well you do. It’s not easy. At all. In this novel, if you think about Daphne, she comes for you. And you won’t survive the visit.

Daphne is kind of an urban legend in this town. Seven feet tall, the owner of a muscle car, and rumored to be a murderer, she was an outcast in high school, but has been dead for many years. Or has she? When one of the basketball players tells a ghost story about Daphne to the team, the body count begins a couple days later. With her friends dying one by one in horrific ways, Kit is sure it’s only a matter of time before Daphne pays her a visit. Can she be stopped?

If you’re a fan of both basketball and horror, you’ll be thrilled with this book. Basketball isn’t one of my interests, so I skimmed over a good bit of those parts. But when Daphne is on the page? I couldn’t look away. Those scenes are creepy, bloodcurdling, and exactly what I’d hoped. For me, this had the feel of an 80s slasher movie, and it was something I really liked. As a KISS fan, I also appreciated them being mentioned, but chuckled over Kit not knowing who they were.

Daphne is a chilling blend of horror and psychological thriller that may keep you awake at night. Just try not to think about her. Good luck.

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

The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas #bookreview #YA #fantasy #LGBTQ

Welcome to The Sunbearer Trials, where teen semidioses compete in a series of challenges with the highest of stakes, in this electric new Mexican-inspired fantasy from Aiden Thomas, the New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys.

“Only the most powerful and honorable semidioses get chosen. I’m just a Jade. I’m not a real hero.”

As each new decade begins, the Sun’s power must be replenished so that Sol can keep traveling along the sky and keep the evil Obsidian gods at bay. Ten semidioses between the ages of thirteen and eighteen are selected by Sol himself as the most worthy to compete in The Sunbearer Trials. The winner carries light and life to all the temples of Reino del Sol, but the loser has the greatest honor of all―they will be sacrificed to Sol, their body used to fuel the Sun Stones that will protect the people of Reino del Sol for the next ten years.

Teo, a 17-year-old Jade semidiós and the trans son of Quetzal, goddess of birds, has never worried about the Trials…or rather, he’s only worried for others. His best friend Niya―daughter of Tierra, the god of earth―is one of the strongest heroes of their generation and is much too likely to be chosen this year. He also can’t help but worry (reluctantly, and under protest) for Aurelio, a powerful Gold semidiós and Teo’s friend-turned-rival who is a shoo-in for the Trials. Teo wouldn’t mind taking Aurelio down a notch or two, but a one-in-ten chance of death is a bit too close for Teo’s taste.

But then, for the first time in over a century, Sol chooses a semidiós who isn’t a Gold. In fact, he chooses two: Xio, the 13-year-old child of Mala Suerte, god of bad luck, and…Teo. Now they must compete in five mysterious trials, against opponents who are both more powerful and better trained, for fame, glory, and their own survival. 

I’ve been wanting to read this author for quite a while. I’ve had one of his books, Cemetery Boys, in my TBR for quite a while, but just haven’t gotten to it yet. When I was approved for an ARC (audiobook version) of The Sunbearer Trials, I knew it was time to get acquainted with his work.

Similar to The Hunger Games, competitors are chosen and must complete several trials. But in this case, only the competitor with the least amount of points should die. Teo isn’t worried for himself. He’s a Jade, and for more than a century Sol has only chosen Golds to compete. He’s more concerned for his best friend Niya, a strong competitor. Golds have trained for the trials their whole lives, so when the names of two Jades are announced, everyone is shocked. Teo is an underdog and not expected to do well against the Golds, but he has no choice but to compete. I liked that he’s a go with the flow kind of guy, but also possesses a rebellious streak that tends to get him in some trouble.

The competitions are exciting, dangerous, and highly creative. Participants face both physical and mental challenges. After each was completed, I was as anxious to hear the ratings as the characters. I loved the relationships between them whether they were friends, siblings, or parent-child. All are so well-portrayed and heartwarming. As expected, some competitors form alliances, but by the end most of them support each other in some way. And that twist at the end! Not many books surprise me, but I didn’t see that one coming. It’s brilliant.

André Santana is a wonderful narrator, and I’d highly recommend the audiobook version if you enjoy them. With the competitors having various powers and the competition, Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games are perfect comp titles for this book. I’d advise fans of those series to jump on The Sunbearer Trials.

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

Bone Weaver by Aden Polydoros #bookreview #fantasy #supernatural #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

A haunting fantasy following Toma, adopted daughter of the benevolent undead, making her way across a civil war-torn continent to save her younger sister as she discovers she might possess magical powers herself.

The Kosa empire roils in tension, on the verge of being torn apart by a proletarian revolution between magic-endowed elites and the superstitious lower class, but seventeen-year-old Toma lives blissfully disconnected from the conflict in the empire with her adoptive family of benevolent undead.

When she meets Vanya, a charming commoner branded as a witch by his own neighbors, and the dethroned Tsar Mikhail himself, the unlikely trio bonds over trying to restore Mikhail’s magic and protect the empire from the revolutionary leader, Koschei, whose forces have stolen the castle. Vanya has his magic, and Mikhail has his title, but if Toma can’t dig deep and find her power in time, all of their lives will be at Koschei’s mercy. 

I think I’ve read all of this author’s books, and I can always count on incredible world-building. His previous novel, The City Beautiful, is set in Chicago during the World’s Fair and features a Jewish main character possessed by a dybbuk. The setting of Bone Weaver is very similar to Imperial Russia, and its monsters come from Slavic folklore.

Toma remembers little from her early life, other than her mother’s death after telling her to run. She does know they were running from someone, and it was extremely important that she not lose her mother’s rushnyk (an embroidered tapestry), which seems to have some magical properties. Fortunately, Toma was taken in by a family of upyri (undead, but they’re nice). When her six-year-old upyri sister (her age when she died) is captured by soldiers, Toma travels across a war-ravaged continent to find her. Along the way she teams up with Vanya, who possesses magical powers, and Mikhail, the dethroned tsar whose magic was stolen. It’s an adjustment for Toma as her home is very secluded, and she hasn’t lived among humans for many years.

Vanya is a prankster at times, but he’s also outraged at how commoners are treated. Those who possess magic are branded as witches and killed since magic should only belong to the elite. While trying to regain his throne, Mikhail has the rare opportunity to experience the reality of what’s going on in his country and vows to change things. With very different personalities, Mikhail and Vanya tend to clash at times, and I especially enjoyed their banter.

Soldiers aren’t their only threat. These three encounter dangerous creatures at nearly every turn and have to fight for their lives more than once. Learning about Slavic folklore was both enthralling and horrifying. Once a person is killed in this world, there’s a chance they may return as upyri. To prevent that, they’re dismembered, their body parts scattered, and their mouths filled with dirt and moss. Not all upyri are like Toma’s family – some are prone to feasting on flesh.

This story deals with difficult topics of war and religious and cultural persecution. But it also features strong found family vibes, friendships, and discovering where you belong. This is a quote from the book that struck a chord with me. “And wherever you go from here, always remember – all that you love will return to you.”

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

Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix by Anna-Marie McLemore #bookreview #retelling #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

New York City, 1922. Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Minnesota, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future—and his life as a man—and benefit his family.

Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom—and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latina heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.

Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all for the benefit of impressing a girl from Jay’s past—Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.

As Nick is pulled deeper into the glittery culture of decadence, he spends more time with Jay, aiming to help his new friend reconnect with his lost love. But Nick’s feelings grow more complicated when he finds himself falling hard for Jay’s openness, idealism, and unfounded faith in the American Dream. 

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite classic novels, so I was thrilled to came across this LGBTQ retelling.

I listened to the audiobook ARC, and the narrator did a wonderful job with these characters. Prepare for the writing to transport you to the glitz and glamor of the Roaring 20s in a setting of extravagant parties and mansions in East Egg. The author states that she always felt like Nick was in love with Jay, and I also got the same vibes when I read the original Gatsby many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed her queer and more diverse version of this classic. I also appreciated the content warnings and context notes she gives before the story begins.

Some of these characters are struggling with 20s perceptions of race, sexuality, and status. Nick, a trans Latinx boy, continually has to prove himself in the business world where he’s judged by the color of his skin. When he arrives in New York he discovers that Daisy, his Latinx cousin, has changed her last name and now passes for white. I was never a fan of Daisy in the original version and found her shallow and frustrating. She has her moments in this retelling, but I was in her corner by the end.

The story sticks to much of the original structure – until around the last twenty percent. And I have to say I greatly prefer this ending, but no spoilers here. If you’re a fan of retellings and are looking for a new spin on a classic, you can’t go wrong with Self-Made Boys. It’s a beautiful story.

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

This Is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves #bookreview #YA #LGBTQ

Enrique “Quique” Luna has one goal this summer—get over his crush on Saleem Kanazi by pursuing his other romantic prospects. Never mind that he’s only out to his best friend, Fabiola. Never mind that he has absolutely zero game. And definitely forget the fact that good and kind and, not to mention, beautiful Saleem is leaving L.A. for the summer to meet a girl his parents are trying to set him up with.

Luckily, Quique’s prospects are each intriguing in their own ways. There’s stoner-jock Tyler Montana, who might be just as interested in Fabiola as he is in Quique; straight-laced senior class president, Ziggy Jackson; and Manny Zuniga, who keeps looking at Quique like he’s carne asada fresh off the grill. With all these choices, Quique is sure to forget about Saleem in no time.

But as the summer heats up and his deep-seated fears and anxieties boil over, Quique soon realizes that getting over one guy by getting under a bunch of others may not have been the best laid plan and living his truth can come at a high cost.

Quique has a plan for the summer before his senior year – to get over his long-time crush on close friend Saleem by checking out some other guys. And he has a few very different prospects to accomplish his goal. It might not be the best plan, but Quique is a flawed character who may not make the best decisions sometimes. Some of these prospects aren’t worth his time, but he learns some valuable life lessons the hard way during his journey.

I adored Quique from the first page. He’s dealing with a lot in his life – he’s only out to best friend Fabiola, worried about how his parents will react to his bisexuality, and he’s head over heels for Saleem, who’s spending time with extended family this summer. Family who are interested in an arranged marriage for him. Quique also struggles with several mental health issues, and I loved that he recognized the signs and wasn’t afraid to ask for help. His parents and Fabiola are a strong support system.

He also has a safe, wonderful resource in Mr. Chastman, his teacher. An extremely awkward and unexpected scene between them could have gone wrong in so many ways, but is brilliantly handled. I wish all high school students had someone like this in their corner.

This is a beautifully written story filled with poignant, humorous, and bittersweet moments that shines a light on some very important topics. It’s an incredible debut, and a novel I highly recommend.

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

Heat Wave (The Extraordinaries #3) by TJ Klune #bookreview #urbanfantasy #superheroes #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are back in action bringing justice, protection, and disaster energy to the people of Nova City.

An unexpected hero returns to Nova City and crash lands into Nick’s home, upturning his life, his family, and his understanding of what it means to be a hero in the explosive finale of the thrilling and hilarious Extraordinaries trilogy by New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune.

After listening to the first two books in this series (the narrator is perfect for these characters), I jumped with joy when I received an ARC of the final book in the trilogy. The cliffhanger book two ended on? It was a whopper.

It’s always hard to review sequels without giving away spoilers, especially the final book in a series, so this may be brief. If I could join a fictional family/found family this one would absolutely make the short list. Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz have each other’s backs no matter what, and their bond is incredibly strong. Yes, their parents may be kind of embarrassing at times (Dad Squad!) and a little intrusive (dental dams), but they’d do anything for their kids and offer unconditional love and support. It’s unusual to come across a YA book where the parents play fairly large roles, but this group are integral to the plot and bring so much to the story. Aaron and Nick have one of the best father/son relationships I’ve come across in this genre. Everyone deserves parents and friends like these.

I have to give a big shoutout to supercool character Burrito Jerry! He might not be a superhero, but he does some pretty heroic things to help these characters.

Like the previous books in this series, Heat Wave is filled with wicked action scenes, a little romance, plenty of humor, and tense, nail-biting moments. The ending is bittersweet but absolutely perfect, and I’m so glad the author gave a glimpse into the future of these characters. Superheroes and villains, found family, awkward teenage moments, first love, ride or die friendships, fanfics, and laugh out loud dialogue – this series is filled with all of this and more. It’s my fifth Klune book, and he’s easily made my list of favorite authors.

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

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi #bookreview #fantasy #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But when Sylah and Anoor meet, a fire burns between them that could consume the kingdom—and their hearts.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. And when she joins forces with Sylah and Anoor, together these grains of sand will become a storm.

As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.

There’s a reason this novel was named One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 by Book Riot. What an incredible debut!

Such exceptional, detailed world-building. This world is a caste system based on the color of your blood. At the top of the food chain are Embers with their red blood, Dusters are blue-blooded, and Ghostings (whose hands and tongue are removed due to centuries old transgressions by their ancestors) translucent blood. The empire is govered by four wardens of strength, truth, knowledge, and duty. The Aktibar (a several months long competition) is held every ten years to choose a disciple who will become the next warden in these categories. Only Embers may be wardens, of course, and everyone must bow to them.

The three main characters are vastly different from each other. After watching her family be murdered, Sylah is now a drug addict (joba seeds) and a thief who fights in the ring for money. She’s abrasive, selfish, and difficult to like. Anoor is the daughter of a warden who deserves an award for the worst mother of the century. She belittles Anoor at every turn, which has left her with little self-esteem. Hassa may be my favorite character. As a Ghosting, she’s unseen by upper classes – but the girl is full of surprises. Don’t underestimate her.

As much as I didn’t initially care for Sylah, she and Anoor have magnificent character arcs (especially Anoor), and they grew on me by the end of the book. It’s pretty clear from the description this story includes an enemies to lovers trope, and it’s a humorous one at times that gave me some laughs. There’s a lot going on – rebellion, political intrigue, betrayal, loads of secrets, discrimination, and brutality. Then there’s the Aktibar competition with some deadly, harrowing trials included. At over 600 pages, this isn’t a light read. Maybe some content could have been cut, but honestly, not much.

The Final Strife is categorized as YA, but is easily a crossover. It’s one of my favorite reads this year, and I’ll absolutely continue with this series. A must read for fantasy fans.

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

A Cruel and Fated Light (The Hollow Star Saga #2) by Ashley Shuttleworth #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

Half-fae Arlo becomes entangled in the courtly intrigue at the Seelie Summer palace as danger for ironborns mounts in this gripping sequel to A Dark and Hollow Star that’s The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones.

After thwarting the man behind the gruesome ironborn murders—and breaking several fae laws to do so—all Arlo wants is a quiet summer. As the deity of luck’s Hollow Star, capable of bringing about endless possibilities, this shouldn’t be too much to ask, right?

But someone is still trying to summon the mythical Seven Deadly Sins. All signs point to immortal meddling, and if this is the gods’ attempt at returning to the Mortal Realm, it’s Arlo they’re going to use to do it.

When Queen Riadne offers to host Arlo at the Seelie Summer palace, she jumps at the chance. She’ll get to see more of Vehan and Aurelian and perhaps even work out her complicated feelings for the gorgeous ex-Fury, Nausicaä. But no one trusts the infamous Queen of Light, even as Arlo wonders if she’s just been greatly misunderstood.

With the Summer Solstice quickly approaching, everyone expects Riadne to finally challenge the High King for his crown. And as Arlo struggles to get control of her powers and take charge of her destiny, she’ll soon be faced with a choice that won’t only change the fate of the Mortal Realm forever but could condemn it to a cruelty the likes of which the Courts have never known.

The first book in this series was one of my favorite reads last year – it’s not often you come across an urban fantasy set in Canada – and I couldn’t wait to catch up with these characters again.

Where do I even begin? So much going on. So many secrets revealed. When Queen Riadne tosses out an invite to host Arlo at the Seelie Summer palace, you just know it’s not out of the goodness of her black heart. Riadne never does anything without it benefiting her, and being iron born and all but ignored by her extended family, Arlo is thrilled at the opportunity to finally be accepted for who she is. High Prince Celadon, her cousin and best friend, insists on accompanying her both for protection and to find out what scheming Riadne is up to. Let the games begin.

These characters stole my heart in the first book, but Nausicaa (such lovable snark) and Celadon (smarter than most in the room) continue to be my favorites. Such a diverse cast is cause for celebration with this series, as is the intricately mapped plot. This book weighs in at a hefty 640 pages, but with political machinations, alchemy, immortals, questionable motivations, a challenge for the crown, dark secrets, and sweet romances, the pages flew by for me.

The ending gutted me and leaves fates hanging in the balance, along with a body count – no spoilers here. It looks like there are two more books coming in this series, and I’ve already added both on my Goodreads list. Highly recommend for urban fantasy fans!

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

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin #bookreview #YA #LGBTQ #horror

Protect the girls

Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways.

Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger.

A horror story set at a summer camp? Tell me that doesn’t make you think of classic 80s movies in the same genre. I’m always up for a twisty scary tale.

Arlee is spending the summer at a college prep camp in hopes it will help her achieve her academic goals, a place her mother also attended several years prior. Unsure of herself, slightly paranoid, and dealing with troubling issues, Arlee is thrilled to find herself making new friends and fitting in. Until she discovers college prep classes are just a small part of what really goes on at Camp Rockaway.

From the minute Arlee arrives at camp it’s an ominous vibe, and you know the world inside the camp sits off kilter. She receives sinister warnings and overhears hurtful comments about herself and her mother, but tries to ignore them. After she joins a secret society as a legacy in the hopes of having lifelong “sisters”, what unfolds is dark, dangerous, and …..just plain bizarre. Several scenes are disturbing, so this novel isn’t for the faint of heart. I was repulsed and shocked at times – but also couldn’t look away.

The story moves as a brisk pace, but I’d hoped for more closure at the end. If you enjoy horror/thriller books that venture into the land of weirdness, I’d recommend checking out Primal Animals.

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