Nocturne by Heather McKenzie

“The only way I can protect the ones I love…is to disappear.”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 363 pages.
Read from March 13, 2018 to March 19, 2018.

I was thrilled when Heather reached out to me again to review an ARC edition of her latest novel in the Nightmusic Trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in her series, Serenade, and am thankful I have had the privilege of continuing to read and review the series.

Nocturne picks up right where it left off in Serenade so I would recommend starting with Serenade if you are interested in the series or you will not have a clue what is going on in Nocturne. If you have read Serenade then you are in for a treat as all of the best characters make a come back in this novel as well as few stellar new ones.

Kaya feels free. Finally. Well, as free as you can feel being away from an oppressive and murderous father who wants you dead to ensure he gets full control of his billion-dollar pharmaceutical company. But she has Luke and that is all she needs. Despite her good fortune with the help of her friends in her initial escape she is still being hunted and is constantly be on the run. She soon learns that she is being hunted by more than just her father which has brought a few unwanted people back into her life. This knowledge came with a violent scene in which Kaya tragically learns that if she truly wants to protect the ones she loves she must leave them. Kaya heart-wrenchingly lies to those close to her and then sets off on her own, something she has never been allowed to do before. She is picked up by a cowboy named Ben who invites her to work on his ranch for room and board. Kaya is gutted with the loss of Luke and tries her best to maintain herself but will she be able to stay hidden? Is this what her life is now going to be like? No longer a sheltered princess living in a castle, Kaya grows and learns about her own capabilities and is finally free to make her own decisions. Luke and the ones who love her are not so easily deterred from protecting her, and as the story climaxes, Kaya will be thankful for their persistence.

Nocturne definitely keeps the same intense pace as its predecessor! This is the kind of action that needs to be in more YA novels with female leads. The novel is exciting, action-packed and suspenseful. The story is constantly moving and changing, creating nail-biting anticipation as Kaya and her friends literally fight their way away from those wanting to harm her. The story does not shy away from gun violence, blood, gore or from the characters getting a little frisky! The characters emotional reactions are visceral and the scenes invoke fantastic imagery. It is also nice to see a plot set in Saskatchewan, Canada. While it isn’t the most glamorous place, it is nice to see real rural Canadian settings in a YA book and I think that will speak to a lot of local readers.

Fun Fact:
Heather McKenzie decided to write a book because her own daughter wanted to read a story that did not have vampires, werewolves etc. but rather something set in real life.

As with a lot of YA novels, I struggled with the romance aspects of the plot and this book is sappier than Serenade. The massive love triangle was not as appealing to me as the extreme in which the characters cared and lusted for each other seemed like a stretch, but then again, I am not a teenager. I have not forgotten the fierceness I felt with my first love or how all-encompassing it felt so I think that the romance in this story would be very engaging for most teens. The other new characters in the story, like Thomas and Marlene, are fierce, smart and funny and are fantastic additions to the story.

There is one character and aspect of this story that I question and that is how the new character, Ben, was handled. Without spoiling the story, Ben makes some reprehensible choices under the guise that he was drunk and didn’t mean it. Just because someone is drunk does mean that they are not in control or not responsible for their actions. Ben also had a track record of the behaviour. However, Ben is a complicated and dynamic character, which is not always seen in YA, and he really added some depth to the story. I don’t think you’re supposed to like Ben or even feel sorry for him and thankfully the other supporting characters reactions and fortitude make up for his failings. Some of the novel’s focus is on Kaya’s desire and her desirability, which, of course, every teen girl wants to feel! So as a teen reader these plot nuances are a way to build on that and for the reader to play into a fantasy of desirability, which is completely understandable. So perhaps I think I just need to turn my adult-brain off and just enjoy the story for what it is, and it is one that I actually really enjoyed.

In fact, I demolished it over the last few days and bemoaned when I had to put it down. I feel really lucky to be one of the first to get my hands on this book. If you are a teen, a lover of YA fiction, action and romance then you are going to love this book. It is a great follow-up to Serenade and I can’t wait to see what the final book has in store for Kaya. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait too long for the final addition in this series!

Us by Curtis Wiklund

With a focus on the little things, this cute book will bring the romantic out in anyone.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 114 pages.
Read on November 11, 2017.

One of the best things about Goodreads and Netgalley is coming across books that you would not have found otherwise, like this book. After spotting it on Goodreads I was happy to see that it was available on Netgalley and gladly devoured it.

The creation of this book is thanks to the internet as the author posted some of his sketches online and found that they went viral. The book is brief, with a little over 100 pages and while some images follow a consistent style, others contain different mediums and complexities. The author began the project after being inspired by his wife’s own art project and committed to drawing or doodling one image a day with the main topic being about his everyday life with his wife. ae5f3c3d8556e89b4a7a6735b3f077a8From the trivial every day to the intimate moments that only couples can share, the author allows the reader a glimpse into his marriage. With a focus on the little things, this cute book will bring the romantic out in anyone.

This book is best read in one sitting and would make a great gift for a wedding shower or anniversary.  The book and story are uncomplicated, as it just follows everyday life with no hailing climax or conflict, but it is meant to induce smiles rather than reflection.

This beauty will be available just in time for the holidays, December 5, 2017, and would make a great stocking stuffer and keepsake for that special person in your life. Pre-order your copy today!

The Spirit Runner by Richard Ferguson

When it comes to reviewing books I can sometimes be a tough nut to crack. My average book rating on Goodreads is currently 3.37 out 5 so I do not give out praise easily.  However, when I do, it is well earned. 

4/5 stars.
ebook, ARC, 255 pages.
Read from October 31, 2017 to November 2, 2017.

I love being able to support Indie authors and so when the author of this novel reached out to me to get some feedback on this currently unpublished novel I happily obliged. When it comes to reviewing books I can sometimes be a tough nut to crack. My average book rating on Goodreads is currently 3.37 out 5 so I do not give out praise easily.  However, when I do, it is well earned.

When we’re young, our parents are our heroes. Ron Campbell was no different, except that his father was an Olympic marathon runner. Ron desperately yearns to be an exceptional runner like his father and as his talent grows he is looking to head in that direction. Until a horrifying accident robs Ron not only of his parents but also his ability to run as the wreck has left his legs mangled and crippled. giphyThe doctors have told Ron that they do not expect that he will ever run again, let alone walk properly.  Thankfully Ron’s grandfather does not approve of the doctor’s negative attitude and he is sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle along with the support of an Aussie physical therapist aimed at getting Ron running again. However, Ron’s situation is far from ideal. He may be with family but he quickly learns that his Aunt and Uncle have little interest in his recovery and are more concerned with getting the plot of land that has recently been bequeathed to him from his grandfather. Coupled with the physical abuse from his Uncle, Ron is not off to a sympathetic start but with the continuous love of his friends,  grandfather, and even a friendly bull named Curly, Ron’s spirit is determined and unwavering. Ron aims for miracles in his quest to run again and to ensure that his Aunt and Uncle do not get what they want.

Being pleasantly surprised by this book is a bit of an understatement. I did not want to put this book down. When it comes to reviewing Indie writing you are never sure what the quality of the story or the writing is going to be like and I can honestly say the story is highly engaging, that the writing is solid and the editing is damn near perfect.  There is never a lull or dull moment in this story as the plot takes you on a continuous roller coaster ride. The story is the epitome of a feel-good novel, even if the outcome of the book is somewhat predictable, it does not take away from the enjoyability of the novel. Ron is an admirable little boy with realistic qualities and the other characters add such colour to the already enticing plot. Curly, the bull, is also one the best tidbits of the whole story as well.

This is the sort of novel I would consider purchasing for my running friends or for anyone that can appreciate a feel-good novel with likeable characters.

Now available for purchase! Get yours here: