Category Archives: Staff Recommends

Nightfall REVIEW

By Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

Available in Print & eBook.

‘Nightfall’ immediately reminded me of ‘The Forgetting’. Set in a remote fantasy world, the residents of Bliss spend 14 years enjoying day. After 14 years, the sun sets and the island experiences 14 years of night. And you don’t want to stick around for that.

As the sun starts to set, the residents of Bliss start to make their way to shores to depart for the desert land where they will stay until Night is over. But for Marin, Line and Kana, things don’t go according to plan. When Line goes missing, Marin and Kana go in search of him but they return to the shore too late. In their attempts to figure out how to leave the island, they discover that they are not alone.

The story follows their mad dash to escape the island and reveals the past that the adults have kept hidden. It’s told in alternating viewpoints from the three teens which would be fine except the narrative will switch multiple times in one chapter which at first threw me for a loop. Overall, the story is fast paced and full of action and surprises. When I finished the story, I wanted to know about the mysteries of the island and of the desert land that the people of Bliss travel to but I was content with what the authors provided in the story line.

For fantasy  and action fans, this is a quick and interesting read for a lovely rainy day.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

Rebel of the Sands REVIEW

Rebel of the Sands
By Alywn Hamilton

Available in Print & eBook.

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Western, fantasy and a little dystopia make up a fantastic start to a new series. This book reeled me in with a bang from the start. It jumps right into the action and doesn’t slow down at all. This story has a lot of elements of things I generally like; such as folklore and mythology, action and disasters, strong relationships and interesting characters.

Amani, the lead character, is someone you can really root for. I liked her from the start and I’m excited to see where her path leads in the series. She’s a young girl that wants to make more for herself then just being someone’s wife in her dead end town. She takes her destiny into her own hands and launches her escape with the help of a mysterious bandit named Jin.

Besides great lead characters like Amani and Jin, the supporting group is fascinating as well. The character backstories are interesting and lead you wanting more. The action of the storyline like I mentioned is fast and keeps you moving steadily along. As the story starts to unfold, you learn more about the overall world of the series and the turmoil that has begun. Amani and Jin are heading right into the thick of it when the first book ends. I’m looking forward to seeing where their adventure leads them in the second book which will be out in early 2017.

If you love a fast paced action story or a well built fantasy realm, then give this series a whirl!

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

Every Hidden Thing REVIEW

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Available in Print.

There was a time not so long ago when dinosaurs were new. Not to the planet, but to the knowledge of humans. The fossilized bones of dinosaurs had to be discovered and dug up to reveal the extinct creatures. The bones had to be assembled and the creature classified and named. Some of the men doing such work were formally educated like Professor Cartland. Some were self-taught like Michael Bolt. Cartland and Bolt are rivals and hate each other so much that they often stoop to petty sabotage.

This story is about the children of those two men – Rachel Cartland and Samuel Bolt. Both were raised without their mothers by fathers who surrounded them with science and the new discipline of paleontology. Rachel and Sam want to search for bones like their fathers. Sam might not have the money to go to school, but could be like his father. Rachel…well, women do not go to university and become dinosaur hunters. It’s not proper.

Sam and Rachel meet for the first time on the night Sam’s father is presenting his latest find and Rachel’s father is there to embarrass him. Sam feels a connection to Rachel (even as they are both pulling their fathers apart during the fight that breaks out). Rachel has never had boys show interest in her (and is considered plain by most standards), so she hesitates in the face of Sam’s interest.

Maybe they would never see each other again…until their super competitive fathers end up pursuing the same dinosaur that could be the most extraordinary find of all. The search takes them all out west (Rachel had to beg to go since a young lady does not travel in the wilds of the west with a bunch of young male students). The heated battle between the two parties is not even the worst of it. They face the hot dry conditions and the ever looming presence of Sioux who view the Badlands as sacred ground.

Through it all, Sam and Rachel find each other. If they survive this expedition, can they be together when their fathers hate each other so much?

With Malice REVIEW

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Available in Print & eBook.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital, unable to remember the past six weeks, including the accident that killed her best friend, if it was, in fact, an accident.

I love stories where the narrator doesn’t know or remember what’s happened. This book runs parallel with other stories like The Girl on the Train and one I reviewed earlier this year, The Leaving by Tara Altebrando.

I had this book somewhere in the TBR pile that continues to grow and grow at my house. I bumped it up to the top of my pile when my friend devoured the book while we were on a weekend trip together. At first, after she finished it, she said, ‘Yeah, it’s really good, you’ll like it.’ But a few weeks later, she texted me and said, ‘I’ve read 5 other books since that one and I can’t stop thinking about With Malice.’ That’s a sign of a good book in my opinion.

The story revolves around Jill, a high school senior, who wakes up with no memory of the last 6 weeks of her life. She comes to find out that a lot has happened in those 6 weeks, including a terrible accident that left her with a lot of injuries and killer her best friend Simone. As she recovers, she tries to piece together the fuzzy memories that slowly come back to her while also dealing with the aftermath of the accident.

This story is told with just the right pacing and reveals. It kept me engaged and wondering what memory Jill would gain back next. I spent a lot of time wondering what really happened to Simone, who was to blame for the accident and what was the truth. I loved it!

If you like mysteries, whodunits or just a story with some great intrigue, pick this book up soon.

Three Day Summer REVIEW

Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

Available in Print.

For three days in 1969, the Woodstock music festival made the small town of Bethel, New York, the center of the rock world. Thousands of people gathered in the name of peace to hear some of the biggest names in music. Two of those people are Michael and Cora, and this is how they met and spent those three days.

Michael drove from Massachusetts with his friend Evan, his girlfriend Amanda, and Amanda’s two friends. He’s not sure what to do with his life. Go to college? Join the military? He’s also not sure about his girlfriend Amanda. Sometimes it seems like she doesn’t even like him, so why is she with him at all?

Cora lives in Bethel on a farm. Her dad has nothing but disdain for the people coming to the festival. He is a veteran with great pride in his oldest son’s current service in Vietnam. He’s not as happy with Cora and her war protesting twin brother. Cora wants to be a nurse…no, she really wants to be a doctor, a lofty goal for a woman from a small town in those times. She works as a candy striper in the medical tent at the festival.

Michael takes some acid with bad results, so his friends take him to the medical tent where he is attended to by Cora. Michael doesn’t remember much about their first encounter, but soon realizes Cora is nothing like Amanda. Separated from his friends, Michael asks Cora to hang with him.

The festival allows to Michael and Cora to escape their worries for a bit: Cora’s strict father and her brother in Vietnam; Michael’s future and his issues with Amanda. Michael gets lost in the music and takes Cora with him. They run into famous people and share in the generosity of their fellow festival goers. Neither, of course, knows the mythical quality that Woodstock will one day represent to generations. But we do, so we can go along with them to feel just a little bit of what it could have been like for those three days of peace, love and music.