Review: Nobody’s Angel

cover95546-medium.png“From the driver’s seat of his cab, Eddie negotiates a city splintered by race and class and rapidly losing its economic underpinnings. Nobody’s Angel has the wry humor and engaging characters typical of the best of the hard-boiled genre, but Clark’s portrait of Chicago in the 1990s, with its vanishing factories and jobs, its lethal public housing projects, its teenage hookers climbing into vans on North Avenue, is what gives it legs. Sure there are a couple murderers on the loose, but the larger violence is coming from systemic forces wreaking havoc in a place that, maybe, used to be better.” –Chicago Reader

Not to long ago I had the opportunity to read Backdoor to L.A. by Jack Clark, and even though it was the second book in a series I’m still glad I jumped in. It was a lot of fun to see what came first in Eddie’s Chicago saga. I’m actually not sure which of the two stories I enjoyed more as they were both really engaging, fueled by the great character that Clark has in Eddie.

I’m definitely planning to pick up a copy of both books in this series for our system, if nothing else so that I can see these awesome covers in person. I think a lot of our patrons are going to find something a little different and a lot of fun to read in this series.

Review: Lost Reaper

cover94439-medium.pngThe first dead body I ever saw was my own.

For twenty-five-year-old Tyler Morgan, being murdered was easy. Easy in comparison with working for the Grim Reaper.

Jonathon Grimm may have brought her back from the dead in exchange for working as a reaper for her hometown, Easton, but she has to find his lost reaper before she can enjoy her second chance at life. Only … the lost reaper isn’t actually lost. He has a new body and a new life and no intention of turning himself in, even if it means giving Tyler her life back.

Tyler begins the grisly task of reaping the souls of Easton’s dead while searching for the reaper. He could be anyone – the intriguing detective, Sam Lockwood; the handsome, wealthy Chris Bradbury; or the serial killer stalking the women of Easton. Women who bear an uncanny resemblance to Tyler.

But what is the ancient secret, hidden from mankind, that has motivated Grimm to chose Tyler for the morbid task?

As the killer closes in and Grimm’s deadline draws closer, Tyler discovers she is fighting a much bigger threat than the Grim Reaper and time is running out for everyone.

When it comes to Lost Reaper I was hooked from the first line of the blurb. Not the book, but the blurb. There was just such a cool tone that touched every inch of this story and it kept me hooked throughout. I’m not sure if I’ve read any Grim Reaper stories before, but Shelly Russell Nolan has me on the hunt for some more. If you have any recommendations, let me know!

Tyler’s death was easy compared to her new life reaping the souls of the people in her town. There were a lot of levels to the plot here and while I was never quite sure where the story was guessing, all of the pieces came together nicely. Tyler was also a strong, dynamic character. Her personal life crumbled pretty quickly but she was able to bounce back. Seeing the mystery unfold from her perspective made for an interesting guessing game of figuring out who the murderer really was.

Review: Liar, Liar

cover91325-medium.pngInvestigative reporter Cleo Morgan believes a successful tabloid needs is the ability to lie. Now that she’s one herself, she’s getting a lot of practice. She’s lying to everyone in her hometown, pretending she still works for a reputable paper. She’s lying to Alec Ramirez, the tabloid’s star reporter. He doesn’t know the high-profile-murder suspect in the story they’re covering is her mother. Or that Cleo is conspiring with her old boyfriend to steal that story out from under him to buy her way back into her old life. Perhaps worst of all, she’s lying to herself that she can leave Alec behind once she’s made everything right.

Cleo’s story was such a fun read.

Life as a tabloid writer balances on some very gray areas, something that former journalist Cleo learns to deal with, accepting lying as part of the game. But as you’d suspect her new career quickly leads to trouble. This series is full of great writing, dynamic characters, and more chemistry than I would have expected from this type of story. I really loved it! Quint’s adventures with Cleo are well crafted, page-turning adventures!

Review: Backdoor to L.A.

backdoor.pngWhen the daughter he lost in a divorce settlement shows up on his doorstep, Chicago cabbie Eddie Miles thinks it’s an answer to his prayers. Instead it’s the beginning of his worst nightmare. This is a follow up to “Nobody’s Angel,” which the Washington Post called “A gem,” and “just about perfect.”

First up, while I read insane amounts and can take a chance on unknown entities, I’d really love to see more of a blurb for Backdoor to L.A. Our readers are generally looking for books they’ve already heard of in some place or another, and while I’m always encouraging them to take a chance on a new author, I’d be much more likely to persuade them to read this book (which I did really enjoy) if they could see more of what it was about and what to expect upfront.

All in all though, I’m glad I decided to give my first Jack Clark book a go. I hadn’t read (or heard of) Nobody’s Angel but didn’t have any trouble feeling like I knew Eddie Miles well enough to jump into his story. There are some great noir elements weaved in here as well as intricate details about both the characters and Chicago that bring the story to life. I’ll be curious to go back and read the first book in this series.

Review: Shiri

shiri.pngShiri blocks her ears to her mother’s screams and sees the arrows strike her father’s chest. With their murderers bearing down on her she turns to obey his final command. “RUN!”

Amenhotep, Prince of Egypt, burns her village, enslaves her people, and destroys all she loves. Only Shiri escapes. With tears in her eyes and vengeance in her heart, she races to warn the Shepherd King. If she doesn’t reach him in time, all Palestine will burn.

It’s a race that takes her from the fields of Armageddon, to the sands of Ancient Egypt and the very heart of Pharaoh’s court. It’s a struggle that brings the deaths of kings and the birth of a god. It’s a quest that sees her fall in love.

When the Pharoh’s army arrives, everything changes and young Shiri is forced to run, leaving behind everything she knows before being swept up into the tide of history. This historical romance has a lot to offer right from the get go, the ancient setting coming alive through both the places and the people who live there.

This story has a lot to offer, but where it’s true value lies is in the depth of its characters. Shiri herself is dynamic and easy to love, but the people around her ensure that the stakes are never low and you’ll always struggle to put this book down. I mean, what’s one more chapter, really?

Review: Dogwood Sprocket

dogwood.pngSaint Louis, 2287

Talented toy-maker, Grace York, is focused on her career, but she daydreams about a slower-paced era, filled with ballet and fancy dresses.

When bearded inventor, Hugh Hawthorne, sticks his head through a point-to-point portal and into her life, Grace York is sucked into Hugh’s 1887 alternate reality with no hope of return.

Struggling to settle into her new steam-powered world, Grace discovers Hugh is keeping a secret that will aid in her return to 2287.

Will Hugh convince Grace that two time travelers can build a future… together?

Ahhhh, time travel. There is no time of year when time travel books aren’t awesome! I picked up Dogwood Sprocket because of well, A) time travel, and B) the epic colouring of the cover, but stayed because of a really dynamic and fun story.

Hugh already leads an interesting life when we first meet him which is right as Grace’s life gets turned upside down. She’s brought from her future-time into the past and into Hugh’s world which is incredibly different from anything she’s ever known. The two of them have great chemistry and waste no time before embarking on a high-paced adventure together.

There were a few spots in the story where the pacing slowed a little, but I was still hooked by the world building and never once considered not finishing this story.

Review: The Labyrinth Wall

wall.pngRead Amazon Best-Seller, Reader’s Favorite 5 Star rated, Dante Rossetti Award 2014 Finalist novel, The Labyrinth Wall, the first book in the Obsidian Series. Imagine a story set in an epic fantasy world like The Hobbit with a dark dystopian feel (and it is written to be a quick read like The Hunger Games). This adventurous tale will transport you into a magical but deadly world with new races, creatures, heroes and villains that you won’t soon forget. Even Sean Astin (from Lord of the Rings, Goonies, Rudy, and 50 First Dates) got a copy of The Labyrinth Wall and tweeted about it.

What a great mix of fantasy and adventure! The Labyrinth Wall was a wonderful, puzzle-filled story from beginning to end and one I would absolutely recommend to all kinds of readers.

There’s some great world building at the core of this story, which we get to see gradually through Ariana’s eyes in a way that makes everything easy to both understand and immerse yourself in. She also meets quite a few other dynamic characters along the way that really bring the story to life.

Highly recommended!

Review: Crime Rave

cover81305-medium.pngWomen, survivors, warriors­—a hardcore ensemble survive the worst act of terrorism to occur on American soil when 35,000 ravers are murdered in cold blood. The survivors work with LAPD detectives Atticus Red Feather and Synthia Günn to piece together this monstrous act. The science experiments of an elite lab team want out, and the smog goddess Kaleanathi wants more souls to devour. What will happen if the survivors fail? The world is full of monsters, but the worst are yet to come. In the follow-up to American Monsters, Sezín Koehler has surfed a genre shift in Crime Rave from postmodern feminist horror to a crime and urban fantasy crossover, with an all-monsters-in approach to satiate even the most hardened horror fan. Picking up where American Monsters left off—but written with first readers in mind—Koehler weaves us into an alternate universe where goddesses reign, trauma manifests superpowers, and Marilyn Monroe lives, in this unique tale of destruction, survival, and redemption for some.

The world is full of monsters, but the worst are yet to come.

Crime Rave is a fantastically epic horror/fantasy mashup that fans of dark and twisty things everywhere are going to want to pick up. There are so many different elements here, and they all come together in ways that most of us have never imagined, usually with explosive consequences.

When thousands of ravers are killed off at once, and the aftermath is anything but predictable, two detectives need to make sense of the people and puzzle pieces left behind. But the survivors themselves are anything but ordinary and the plot of this story only continues to build as things go on. There are all sorts of people in this world, called parahumans, and both their origins and abilities make them quite unlike other superhuman type casts you’ll see in most urban fantasies.

I really don’t want to give too much away since there is a mystery at the heart of this story, but needless to say the world building alone will get you hooked into Crime Rave, and the characters and central mystery will keep you frantically turning pages.

Review: Infinite Time

infinite.pngSave the girl.

Save the day.

Save yourself.
The mission sounds easy enough, but it is anything but easy for Parker Jenkins. Yesterday, ordinary, poverty-stricken Parker was an ordinary high school kid, getting bullied relentlessly and trying to get by. Today, he’s a time traveler with gifted powers expected to carry out the extraordinary. Teaming up with another time traveler, Scarlet, they must save an innocent girl on the run before the villains kill them all. If they don’t, their present-day selves will die. But can the ordinary perform the extraordinary?

Awesome cover… check! Time travel… check! Okay, that’s all the check marks I needed. I saw this book on NetGalley and was immediately interested. And by the time I finished off the story, I absolutely wasn’t disappointed. The story combined so many different awesome elements. There was o much going on here, and it came together really nicely, with a novel that I could never quite guess what was going to happen next. While the opening tagline for this book felt a little “Save the cheerleader, save the world,” the actual story ended up being so much more, and so very awesome!

Parker starts off as fairly cookie-cutter YA charactersbut quickly developed into dynamic, enjoyable character.The world building was really what hooked me here though as the rules of this universe was pretty well thought out. Loved it!

Review: Get a Move On, Neuron!

image5826.gifWhat is the brain, and how does it work?

In famed neurologist Philip R. Kennedy’s book Get a Move On, Neuron!, children are encouraged to be curious, ask questions, and find out how exactly the brain works in a simple, fun, and exciting way. With fun examples and colorful illustrations, kids are taken on a journey as they learn all about neurons.

Intended for children ages 8-12 years old.

Called the “father of the cyborg”, Philip R. Kennedy is a world-renowned neurologist and has been featured in Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Discover magazine, Wired, NPR’s All Things Considered, ABC, Dateline NBC, PBS, and many other news, radio, and television programs.

Get a Move On, Neuron! was a fantastic book aimed at young readers, focusing on learning all about how the brain works, using language and images that make sense for kids (and honestly, helped explain things to me, a not exactly scientific adult). I did find the cover a little cheesy and am not sure it did justice to the contents of the story, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from picking this up.

In a time when parents are realizing more and more just how important it is for their children to be well educated, books like these are exactly what so many of us are looking for. I’ll be sure to recommend this!