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 Visitors by Catherine Burns

I highly anticipate that this book will become the topic of much conversation and popularity once it is published. 

4/5 stars.
ebook, 225 pages
Read from August 28, 2017 to September 1, 2017

It is books like this that make me love Netgalley more than I already do. If you need a creepy read that will make sure you never look at your next door neighbours the same way ever again, then look no further. I highly anticipate that this book will become the topic of much conversation and popularity once it is published (September 26, 2017).

Marion is a meek, simple-minded spinster in her mid-fifties who has never had to work a day in her life thanks to the money left from her family’s company. She is very content to live out her days watching television, day dreaming, snuggling teddy bears and avoiding confrontation at all costs, especially from her overbearing brother, John. John has always been smarter than Marion and was always favoured by her parents. John could do no wrong, even when he started to show dark and unnerving behaviour, while Marion was constantly reminded of her simpleness and inability to accomplish anything.

The two of them have lived together for some time, as neither of them is married, but John likes to have ‘visitors’ come over occasionally. Marion never knows where these visitors go as they never leave the cellar once they arrive.  She continuously turns a blind eye to the sounds and movements she hears coming from these ‘visitors’ while trying to comply with John’s demands and rules. She is soon forced to deal with the ‘visitors’ when John suffers from a heart attack and needs to be in the hospital for an extensive amount of time. Marion, momentarily free from her overlord brother, starts to discover what she is truly capable of.

You are not sure whether you should love or hate Marion, You initially feel sympathy for her with her atrocious upbringing and with the way that John treats her, but that nearly turns to revulsion with her inability to be anything but passive and eventually selfish and unfeeling. The reader, like Marion, doesn’t have a full understanding of her character at the beginning of the book and as the story slowly heats up, things begin to unravel in some pretty sickening twists and turns.

While not a necessarily a full fledged mystery or thriller, this novel and the author’s writing style, has an ability to appeal to anyone who doesn’t mind getting inside the heads of borderline psychopaths. While the story does not start off with a bang, Marion and John are too intriguing to walk away from ensuring that the reader is hooked and not ready to put the book down until it is finished.

This book has been one of my more enjoyable reads of 2017 and a good reminder to go out on a limb for books sometimes as surprises can be awesome. If you loved
Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train then this book will be a must read for you.