Tag Archive | St. Martin’s Press

REVIEW: Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

RoamHer Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #1

Read: May 21-June 21, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Pages: 407

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER

Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.

BEGINS WITH AN ESCAPE FROM HER PAST

Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same…


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads. I am in no obligation to review this book, let alone give it a good review.

  

Word to the wise: Don’t read two thrillers concurrently in which a teenage girl is the sole survivor of a massacre.

This was a book I won through Goodreads. (Yay!) I don’t read a lot of straight up romance, but this is a romantic thriller. And though from the very beginning I was hesitant, I wound up absolutely loving this book. I need to get my hands on the prequel and the next one in the series!

Evelyn Talbot is an interesting character. Having survived being tortured and left for dead by her psychotic high school boyfriend—after he killed all her best friends—she’s spent her life dedicated to unraveling the minds of psychopaths as a psychiatrist. Now running Hanover House, a prison in the wilderness of Alaska meant to house the most dangerous psychopaths in America, Evelyn must face her past.

In this book, one of Evelyn’s dearest friends at Hanover House is murdered, her dismembered head the only thing found. Evelyn is sure it’s Jasper, her psychotic ex-boyfriend, toying with her before finishing what he failed to do when she was sixteen. From there, the clues keep piling up.

This was a very fun, dark, and twisty ride. There were so many red herrings it was hard to know who the killer really was. And just when you think it’s going to end — BAM!! Another twist!!

The romance was really good too. Evelyn is emotionally scarred because of Jasper and has never been with a man since. The sexy and fierce state trooper, Amarok (a nickname, which means wolf), is determined to break through her shields though. She doesn’t think she’s worth the hassle, but he begs to differ. The chemistry between them is awesome. I can’t wait to see what happens next for them.

I also really loved all the quotes from real psychopaths which preceded each chapter. Those plus the story itself had me looking at every person I know with a “could they be a psychopath?” filter on.

I absolutely recommend this to readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers. This was a real treat and won’t be my last Brenda Novak novel.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

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QUOTES

 

Looking down at their entwined hands, he moved his thumb over her palm in a seductive circle. “You realize you’re giving me conflicting signals.”

 

Maybe he was as attractive as sin, but they were worlds apart in every other way.

 

Psychopaths dismissed murder as easily as most people dismissed neglecting to send a thank-you card.

 

“I haven’t seen you with anyone since I’ve been here. So. . . Who is your type?” She held her breath after she asked. She’d opened herself up, knew he had to understand she wanted to be his type ….

“Apparently I like uptight psychiatrists.”

 

“I can’t—I can’t be restrained.”

“I’m not restraining you. This is called comfort. There’s a difference.”

 

“I don’t want to fall in love with you.”

“Because of my age, Evelyn? Really?”

“No, because love is the biggest risk of all.”
 

REVIEW: Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Read: February 2 – 19, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Genre: Humor

Pages: 288

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Complete with painfully wry observations and delightfully caustic wit, this novel is a gritty exploration of what it’s like to feel incomplete in the world. All five fingers up for this bitterly satisfying tale.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Aaron is not a man on a hero’s journey. In the question of fight or flight, he’ll choose flight every time. So when a car accident leaves him suddenly asymmetrical, his left arm amputated, looking on the bright side just isn’t something he’s equipped to do.

Forced to return to his boyhood home to recuperate, Aaron is confronted with an aging father (a former Olympic biathlete turned hoarder), a mother whose chosen to live in a yurt with a fireman twelve years her junior, and a well-meaning sister whose insufferable husband proves love isn’t just blind, but also painfully stupid.

As Aaron tries to make the world around him disappear in a haze of Vicodin and medical marijuana, the only true joy in his life comes from daily ninety-second radio spots of fun science facts: the speed of falling raindrops, batteries made out of starfish, and sexual responses triggered by ringtones – all told in the lush, disembodied voice of commentator Sunny Lee, with whom he falls helplessly, ridiculously, in love. Aaron’s obsession with Sunny only hastens his downward spiral, like pouring accelerant on a fire. Pressured to do something – anything – to move his life forward, he takes the only job he can get. As a “fish counter” at the nearby dam, he concludes that an act of violent sacrifice to liberate the river might be his best, final option.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Some of the books I win from Goodreads get relegated to the DNF pile so quickly they don’t even get reviews. This is not one of those books.

Amp’d by Ken Pisani is a real treat. Take one 40 year old man, recently sans-one arm, force him to move home to live with his dad (who may have a mild hoarding problem) and his pet alligator (who lives in the bathtub) and you’ve got a recipe for hilarity.

I’ll admit, the beginning of this book felt a little too literary for me, but I chuckled a few times so I kept with it. Soon enough I’d completely fallen in love with this story. I had no clue where the plot was going until the very end, but I was eager to read more about what was going to happen to Aaron next. Everything was so over the top and cartoonish it was hard not to love it. There’s a lot of drug humor, and I’m so not a drug humor kind of person, but these characters are just so charming. Besides, it was just medical Marijuana.

Honestly, this is the kind of book I have a hard time reviewing. A lot of things happen. Most of it was funny. Maybe not fall over crying with tears funny, but consistently garnering chuckles funny. I mean, Aaron befriends a little boy with cancer, who he refers to as Cancer Boy in the narrative. He gets a job counting fish. Yes. Counting fish. I refuse to expand upon this, you need to read the book to find out more. He has a friggen alligator living in his house!

That’s not to say the book doesn’t have any heart. There is quite a bit of emotion at the end. I didn’t cry, but the story literally came full circle and left me with a solid sense of closure that I feared I wouldn’t get from a book like this.

I’m glad I read this book. And I know this review is pretty abysmal, but I highly encourage those who enjoy humorous tales to read this as well. Amp’d is a hidden gem.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

If this were a book you’d know that the guy you meet on page 1, shattered and mutilated and staring into the abyss, would by the end of the story transcend his terrible circumstances to become a better man. But this isn’t a book, this is just me talking… and I’m not the guy who beats the odds and overcomes adversity; I’m the guy who wakes up in the hospital to find out his arm has been amputated and says, Fuck me.

 

“There’s an alligator in your bathtub.”
“I thought you knew.”
“If I did, I’d forgotten.”

 

“This is why I worry about you, honey. When things are bad, you pour accelerant on them.”

 

That’s how Dad finds us on his return, both picking our noses in his kitchen, his bottle of Fleischmann’s a guilty accomplice.
“Right,” he finally says. “There never was anything to do in this town.”

 

“What are you doing now?”
“Learning Chinese.”
“See? I just learned a sentence: Kway-UR yin-UH chee. Happy baby eat. Or it could be Eat happy baby. Yes, that’s better! The next time I see a happy Chinese baby, I can tell his parents to eat him.”

 

Her glare wilts, no match for my status as object of pity, an awesome power I should probably use for good, not evil, but know I’m going to milk like dairy farmer.

 

“If there was a future in bullshit, Aaron,” she says, “you’d be unstoppable.”

 

“I don’t remember what you wanted to be when you grew up—”
“Pretty sure it was a guy with two arms.”

 

As any hockey player could tell you, it’s harder to score after repeated blows to the head, rendering future offspring unlikely.

REVIEW: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Read: December 1 – 6, 2016

Format: ARC ebook

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Thomas Dunne / St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Genre: YA/NA Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

First – look at this cover. Is this not a stunningly beautiful cover? Wow. I want to frame it and hang it on the wall. I love this cover so much. This cover is the reason I wanted to read this book, well, that and the fact that it’s also about the Goblin King.

Now let’s talk for a moment about the 1986 movie Labyrinth staring the fabulous David Bowie and a young Jennifer Connelly. This book is not at all like the movie, aside from the connection with the Goblin King, the taken sibling, the midnight balls, the oubliette, and those weird hand things. You remember that scene, right? “Up or down?” Anyway, that sounds like a lot in common, but it’s really not. It’s the ideas, but the way they’re weaved in the book is very different from the film.

So, back to the book. First, I believe this is billed as a YA. There is a LOT of sex in a book for teens! I would actually classify this more as a new adult novel, or a YA/NA crossover at best. I would not let my kids read this book until they were 17 at the earliest, and even then if they were mature enough to handle it. As an avid adult YA reader, it was fine for me.

This story takes place in 18th century Bavaria and follows Elisabeth aka Liesl, the 19 year old daughter of an inn keeper. She is the oldest, but unlike her younger sister Kath, she is not beautiful, but plain. She is as talented as her little brother Joseph, if not more, but she is a girl, and therefor her talents have largely gone ignored.

S. Jae-Jones has proven that she has a voice to be heard with this book. The prose is hauntingly beautiful. I felt like I was taking this journey with Liesl/Elisabeth. I felt what she felt, I saw/heard what she did. I fell into this world of music and folklore and got lost. This book made me feel like I knew something about playing the violin, when in actuality I have nothing more than a couple of months piano lessons under my belt.

Despite the beautiful prose, this book dragged for me. At times there were pages and pages of nothing happening. Repetition of Liesl/Elisabeth’s feelings and thoughts. This book is actually broken into sections and within Part I I wondered if anything would actually happen. And then it did. And it was fabulous. Part II was strange. Part III is where things got really weird and Liesl/Elisabeth began to act very out of character. I get that she’s changing on this journey, but it was odd. I didn’t like her much here. By the end, I mostly liked her again. Ultimately, this is the story of Elisabeth finding herself, and I think she succeeds.

I did love how vivid the characters were, even the Goblin King who is so shrouded in mystery, became real. I loved how protective Liesl/Elisabeth was of her siblings, especially her close relationship with Joseph.

I didn’t care much for how Liesl/Elisabeth and the Goblin King treated each other. It was obvious they each had strong feelings for the other, but neither expressed those feelings in a healthy way. It was very uncomfortable.

The end of this book is bittersweet. This is a very dark romance. There is no chance of a truly happy ending, no matter the outcome. I won’t tell you what happens, but I feel like the author ended this with the best possible outcome. And with a sequel due out in 2018, I wonder where that will lead us. And I wonder if it will be as many pages!

So, would I recommend this book? Eh…. It depends. This book is very long-winded, but the prose is utterly beautiful. If you like quick paced books, skip this one. If you don’t mind a book to take its sweet time getting from point A to point B, then you may enjoy this one.

Walking away from this book I really am conflicted. I’m still thinking about it two weeks later, which is something all authors want for their book! And if not for

the extremely slow pacing at times, I think I would have rated this book much higher. I’m curious to see what my friends think of this book, if any of them read it.
 


 
Wintersong releases February 7, 2017
Preorder Wintersong here

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

Will you mary me, Elisabeth? The little boy asked, and the little girl did not yet understand his question was not part of a game.

 

Time—like memory—was just another one of the Goblin King’s playthings, a toy he could bend and stretch at will.

 

Dangerous? Little Liesl had asked. Dangerous how?

Dangerous as a winter wind, which freezes the marrow from within, and not like a blade, which slashes the throat from without.

 

This was the Goblin King. The abductor of maidens, the punisher of misdeeds, the Lord of Mischief and the Underground. But was he also not the friend of my childhood, the confidante of my youth?

 

“Your sister,” he said, nodding toward Kathe in the crowd, “would prefer pretty enchantments to the stark ugliness of reality, I think.”

 

There was a grace to every line of his body; elegance was not only in his air, but in the way he moved. Even when he was unsure.

“I—I—“ He was flustered. I relished this bit of power over him, this ability to unsettle him as much as he unsettled me.

 

The surrounding forest was unfamiliar, lit with the otherworldly glow of starlight. The trees grew into twisted shapes, sculpted by centuries of wind—or a goblin-led hand. They grew as though striving to dance and roam free, only to be rooted fast and trapped by the earth beneath them.

 

“That sort of passion she inspires in me is all flash and no heat. I need an ember, Elisabeth, not a firecracker.”

 

He tastes like a winter wind, but the heat of our mouths warms him up, and then everything is languid, humid, hot, like still summer night.

 

I want to lie with the Devil and would do so again and again, just to feel like this.

 

“Go to bed, Elisabeth,” he said. “You’re drunk.”

 

I knew who I was not: my sister. Without my sister to define me, I was unsteady, unstable. I had lost the crutch that propped me up.