Cephalopod Coffeehouse March 2017–REVENGE OF THE EVIL LIBRARIAN

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month, my favorite read was REVENGE OF THE EVIL LIBRARIAN by Michelle Knudsen. This contemporary YA romance has a whole lotta paranormal, and picks up half a year after EVIL LIBRARIAN left off. I think it’s best of you read these books in order.

About the book:
The stage is set for a fiendishly dramatic summer at theater camp for Cynthia and her boyfriend, Ryan. With no demons at all. Right?

Last fall, Cynthia Rothschild saved her best friend, as well as the entire student body, from the demon librarian, Mr. Gabriel, all while executing the most awesome set design for the school musical, Sweeney Todd. But now that all that demon stuff is behind her, Cyn is looking forward to the best summer ever at theater camp with her former-crush-and-now-boyfriend, Ryan Halsey. Once she gets to camp, though, Cyn realizes this summer might not be all she’s been hoping for. First, Ryan’s best camp friend is a girl (which Ryan had never mentioned to Cyn), and she just happens to be ridiculously pretty. Plus, it seems the demon stuff is not entirely over as Cyn had hoped. At least any new demons that show up to ruin her summer can’t possibly be as evil as Mr. Gabriel. It’s not like he could somehow come back to life to seek his terrible revenge or something. Best-selling author Michelle Knudsen brings back all the hilarity and horror (not to mention hot guys) in this sizzling sequel to Evil Librarian.

My Review:
Cynthia Rothschild is off to have a fantastic summer of theatre camp, designing sets that will (hopefully) earn her a “Tony”. Her sweet, sexy and swoony boyfriend, Ryan, has been attending this camp for years. Years! And he’s sure Cyn will love it. Except, well, he neglects to mention his camp bestie, Jules, is a beautiful, talented female lead. And, Jules isn’t best pleased to meet Cyn–especially as she and Ryan have been texting/emailning over the past seven months and Ryan didn’t think to mention Cyn, or having a girlfriend, at all.

Yeah, so, teen romance drama is on the program, naturally, but this all becomes complicated when Cyn spots a demon in residence, in fact, he’s Peter, camper-writer of the musical Cyn’s been slated to stage. Peter admits to being a demon–but a good one!–who’d never kill anyone and gains his energy from the everyday drama of human relationships. He’s getting a feast off the Cyn-Ryan-Jules thing. Also, Cyn’s demon-repelling powers are in high demand with the demoness who assisted Cyn by destroying Mr. Gabriel, the evil librarian of the first book. As much as Cyn wants to deny the possibility, the book is titled “Revenge of the Evil Librarian.” Expect Mr. Gabriel to come back. What he lacks in style and substance, he makes up for in sheer malevolence. Even Annie’s at risk again, until Cyn can come clean about all her secrets and get her friends on board for a demon-take-down.

Ryan and Cyn struggle with trust issues, Peter’s eager to step-in as Cyn’s leading man, and demons, demons, lots of scary demons. The tension isn’t quite so high as the first book in this series, but there’s a lot more of the demon world, and the stage has already been set for murder and mayhem. Ahem. I really liked how Cyn owned her foibles and gave her focus to the most important issues: saving the humans, first. The rest of the emotional problems–hurting Ryan, losing friends, keeping her sights off the sexy flirting demon playwright–had an appropriately lowered focus, so it didn’t seem cartoonish. The pace is tense, the battles are gruesome and the enemies are many and horrific. I couldn’t stop turning the pages by the end.

Interested? You can find REVENGE OF THE EVIL LIBRARIAN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and your local library. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About Author Michelle Knudsen:
I’m the author of 45 books for young readers for all ages. Titles include the New York Times best-selling picture book Library Lion (illustrated by Kevin Hawkes), the middle-grade fantasy novels The Dragon of Trelian and The Princess of Trelian, and the YA novel Evil Librarian, which won the 2015 Sid Fleischman Award for Humor(!).

I also work as a freelance editor and private writing coach. Please visit my website to learn more if you’re interested – I especially love working with new writers! I’m also now teaching in Lesley University’s MFA program in writing for young people.

Catch up with Michelle on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in my friends. Be sure to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers to see if their “best book” picks strike your fancy, too.

The Hunt Begins–VESPERS-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic paranormal M/M romance from Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt. VESPERS features a gay vampire monk charged with killing demons and the new blood source that heats his desire.

vespersAbout the book:
Thaddeus Dupont has had over eighty years to forget…
The vampire spends his nights chanting the Liturgy of the Hours and ruthlessly disciplines those unnatural urges he’s vowed never again to indulge. He is at the command of the White Monks, who summon him at will to destroy demons. In return, the monks provide for his sustenance and promise the return of his immortal soul.

Sarasija Mishra’s most compelling job qualification might be his type O blood…
The 22-year-old college grad just moved across the country to work for some recluse he can’t even find on the internet. Sounds sketchy, but the salary is awesome and he can’t afford to be picky. On arrival he discovers a few details his contract neglected to mention, like the alligator-infested swamp, the demon attacks, and the nature of his employer’s “special diet”. A smart guy would leave, but after one look into Dupont’s mesmerizing eyes, Sarasija can’t seem to walk away. Too bad his boss expected “Sara” to be a girl.

Falling in love is hard at any age…
The vampire can’t fight his hungers forever, especially since Sara’s brought him light, laughter and a very masculine heat. After yielding to temptation, Thaddeus must make a choice. Killing demons may save his soul, but keeping the faith will cost him his heart.

My Review:
Sarasija Mishra has no idea what he’s gotten himself into when he blindly accepts a job offer that moves him from Washington to New Orleans. He’s never met the man he’ll be an assistant to, but the pay is substantial and the contract is for a single year. He wants to help pay some of his mother’s bills now that his father recently passed–and he feels a bit inadequate compared with his elder siblings who all went to professional schools, while he screwed around and got a “go nowhere” degree.

Sara’s not so pleased when it turns out his employer lives in a rundown bayou house in the midst of the swamp. And his employer, Mr. Thaddeus Dupont doesn’t want him there. All Sara can think is it’s because Mr. Dupont doesn’t want a gay man living with him, but he soon realizes that Mr. Dupont is a man unlike any he’s met before.

I mean, really, has anyone ever heard of a gay vampire monk?

This book seems like it would be lighthearted, or at least kooky-spooky, but it’s really an awesome paranormal thriller/romance. Thad has devoted his last 85 years to being an agent of death for demons the Catholic church can’t eradicate. He works within a shadowy organization, the White Monks, who kill demons, and he’s their back-up plan when it gets ugly. Thad does this, and maintains his celibacy, in order to redeem his soul. A devout Catholic, Thad wants the chance at an Afterlife, but being so close to Sara is an excruciating temptation. Sara is meant to be his food source. Thad can survive on small droughts of blood, but he only wants female vessels because they don’t arouse him. Plus, Thad’s compulsion powers don’t seem to work very well on Sara. Sara’s invading Thad’s mind, too, which is deeply unsettling.

Thad hasn’t seen so much demon activity…ever, and the called ones are particularly interested in Thad. Why? Who’s calling them, and how does this guy know so much about Thad’s ancient history? The demons strike close to Thad’s core, kidnapping his daytime agent, Nohea, and attacking Sara. Meanwhile, the ghost of Thad’s only lover, Leo, has come a-calling and the message is not good: the person controlling the demon activity wants Thad to turn him into a vampire.

The interplay between Sara and Thad is really a yummy build up of emotional and sexual tension. Sara isn’t best-pleased to learn he signed up to be a year-long feast for Thad, yet he’s paradoxically miffed when Thad won’t drink from him. Is it because he’s a dude? Is it the gay thing? Because Sara finds Thad to be very attractive, and his esteem grows by leaps and bound when he sees Thad in action, fighting and destroying the demons. Soon, he feels honored, not obliged, to offer himself for Thad’s use–and that doesn’t just mean as a blood snack. Thad’s inner reserve is great, but he cannot resist beautiful, sultry Sara for too long. He also can’t help feeling guilty afterward.

I loved the intertwining of religion here, because Sara is a nominal Hindu. He didn’t really practice the religion, but he knows some of the ancient tales, and begins a little bit of practice as a center for his own concept of soul–following Thad’s example. It was cool how this came to be important at the climax, and I really enjoyed the inter-racial and interfaith aspects of the book.

It’s a little different take on the vampire mythos, but a nice change for the paranormal fan. There’s more action than romance, but the tension is great, the plot quickly-paced and the hope that Thad and Sara can make something beautiful come from their odd-couple connection is also high. There are also elements of humor that are totally fun. Sara’s a dead-pan kinda guy, and Thad hasn’t had so much leavity in his life in a long, long time. I really loved how determined Thad was to keep human fatalities to a minimum, and how reverent he felt about Sara. He’s a good man who got caught in a bad way. What was also sweet was the position the White Monks took to the advent of Sara, and Thad breaking his celibacy vow. The story ends, but the series has just begun. Very excited to follow along!

Interested? You can find VESPERS on Goodreads and Amazon. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Authors:

Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.

You can find Irene on her website and twitter.

About Liv Rancourt…

I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire…or sometimes demon. I write funny. I don’t write angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog is the cutest thing evah(!), and we’re up to three ferrets.

I can be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at my website & blog Liv Rancourt, on Facebook, or on Twitter. Come find me. We’ll have fun!

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Space Farm? HELL FOR THE COMPANY–Review and Giveaway

HFTC-BannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for wacky and wild jaunt through space. HELL FOR THE COMPANY is a fun futuristic M/M supernatural romance I had the chance to review on audiobook. Author Angel Martinez weaves a fantastic yarn about demon space merchants who inadvertently rescue a defecting angel. Also, floating cows. Yep. It’s a bizarre trip.

HftCAudioAbout the book:

Shax, the Demon Prince of Thieves, has reconciled himself to exile. He has a grand time careening around the galaxy as a high-end, intergalactic purloiner of pretties. Everything’s going just fine, thank you very much. All right, fine, the anti-gravity cows are a bit problematic and some of his buyers are bad for his health, but he manages until he comes across an injured angel in a psychedelic alien jungle.

He only rescues the wing boy for his golden feathers, but what Shax doesn’t know about angels could fill an intergalactic encyclopedia.

My Review:
First off, this is an audio book of roughly 2 hours in length. I enjoyed every second of it. The narrator, Vance Bastian, is engaging and makes the story really pop. His voice is well-suited to the major characters. While the narrator’s voice sounds “young” I think he did a great job conveying Shax’s bravado, shy flower Nes, and a sassy falsetto for “Ivana” the ship’s drag queen audio file. Bastian seemed to have a good range of voice timbres, allowing the gruff voice of Varin to sound completely separate from the others, and good pacing. On the whole, I enjoyed the audio book very much.

Shax is a prince from Hell, Varin is his compatriot demon, and both of them are hurtling through space on a small freighter, attempting to turn a tidy profit while keeping well clear of Earth. Shax is a playful being, eager to charm and sure to find the “pretties” he’d like to swipe, because he’s a thief demon, I guess. Varin is a more impatient sort of demon, mechanically-inclined and not thrilled with Shax’s antics.

While en route to deliver a cargo of floating cows, they detour to an uninhabited planet and recover an escape pod. Inside they find an angel, completely unconscious, and injured. Shax is captivated not only by the angel’s golden feathers, but also by the beautiful man before him. Problem is, Angels and Demons have been fighting each other for eons. Shax begs Varin to let him keep the pretty angel, and while they travel they get to know one another. Nes, as Shax dubs their passenger, is a lower eschelon angel, who cannot believe that Shax and Varin aren’t plotting to kill him.

This is a super fun story. Really. It’s so completely wacky, I had to stifle my laughter when listening on my earbuds so strangers didn’t give me the side eye. Shax is a great MC, and he’s so captivated by Nes. Nes is delightfully innocent, and naive, constantly surprised and unsettled by Shax’s propositions and veracity. I really dug the idea of space demons and angels. Expect double-crossing humans, a sassy computer, and a cargo hold filled with sexual tension, but no actual sexytimes.

Interested? You can find HELL FOR THE COMPANY on Goodreads, iTunes,
Amazon, and Audible.

Download a sample of the audiobook here!

How about some insights from Verin…

The author catches Verin Hammer, demon ship’s pilot and all around grouch, in a rare good mood over coffee and cinnamon rolls for a (brief) interview:

A: So Ver…you and Shax have known each other a long time…

Verin: I thought you were asking questions. That’s not a fucking question.

A: I’m getting to it. Hold your garters. When did you first meet?

Verin: Bunch of centuries ago.

A: *exasperated sigh* Can you tell us how you first met?

Verin: You’re not real good at this, are you? Yeah, guess I can. Hadn’t hit my full growth yet. Some older demon punks decided I looked like easy pickings, so they jumped me. Shaxy came riding by – literally on his high horse, damn demon prince. He had some big night mares back then. Anyway, Shax may be bad but he doesn’t like shit that’s not fair, right? So he orders the punks off. Let his horse kick a couple in the bargain. Arrogant little son of a—

A: And you were instant friends?

Verin: Absofuckinglutely not. He was just a kid, too, and his mommy wouldn’t let him have minions. So he figured he’d tell her I was a friend. But, yeah, he wanted a minion. I told him to piss off.

A: But you stayed with him anyway?

Verin: *shrugs* Didn’t have anything better to do. Living with him in a palace was better than scraping by in the slums of Hell.

A: So eventually…

Verin: Look, I know what you’re getting at. Yeah, Shaxy’s my friend. Dunno when it happened exactly, but it did. He’s a bonehead and a high-handed little prick, but he keeps life interesting. He decides what stupid shit we’re gonna get into next and I keep him from getting his skinny ass killed. And no, we never fucked. Cause everyone always asks that. He’s not anywhere near what I go for.

A: Oh, um, good. Now if we could just touch on some of the—

Verin: Nope. I’m done. That’s all the stupid questions I have time for this year. This century. Hell, maybe ever. *Verin stomps off in a cloud of steam*

(Verin can be found in every Brimstone book, and is voiced perfectly by Vance Bastian in the Hell For The Company audio edition.)

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon GC.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Meet the author:
While Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres, she writes both kinds of gay romance – Science Fiction and Fantasy. (That’s a Blues Brothers’ joke FYI!!) Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

Catch up to Angel on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and her website.

Meet the narrator:
Vance Bastian loves being a professional storyteller. He writes urban fantasy about sandmen and reapers. He has grown his acting and voice background into a career performing voice-over work and narration for both radio and audiobooks. He is also a founding host of the WROTE podcast – bringing you interviews and news of authors who write, perform, and tell LGBTQ stories. When nobody’s looking, Vance is a complete sci-fi and fantasy geek.

For more on Vance, please visit his website.
pride

Flying With BROKEN WINGS

Broken WingsBrielle Matthews has learned seeing the handiwork of God’s creation can be a bit overwhelming.

BROKEN WINGS, the second in the Angel Eyes trilogy by Shannon Dittemore, returns Brielle to the role of heroine. (See my review of ANGEL EYES here)

Picking up six months after ANGEL EYES, Brielle, Kaylee and Jake have just graduated high school. Stratus is celebrating the opening of a new community center, spearheaded by Kaylee and funded by Olivia Hart’s foundation.

Brielle knows something isn’t right about Olivia–Canaan’s halo burns hot whenever she comes near, but Brielle’s even more unsettled by her father’s behavior. Seems Olivia brings out the alcoholic in her dad.

Coupled with her Celestial vision–Brielle observes Angels and Demons within the human realm–she is being haunted by dreams of her mother’s demise. Learning that her mother’s coffin was buried empty is a shock of the first order. Could she still be alive?

And why are Angels circling her home?

Meanwhile, Brielle is affected by the tar-like fear rolling off everyone she meets. It is only in worship and prayer that she sees the fear disintegrate. So why is Jake–the most devout person Brielle knows–sweating fear?

Jake’s love for Brielle shines through his steadfast gaze, yet she is stunned by his fear.  They are meant for each other–God himself gave Jake an engagement ring for her–so, what is he hiding?

In the Celestial realm, Damien has met with Lucifer and revealed his knowledge of Jake and Brielle’s gifts. He is able to garner Lucifer’s interest and secure instructions to collect them in two week’s time. Damien uses Olivia to not only capture Jake and Brielle, but also Canaan’s halo.

See, Lucifer is planning a battle, and Stratus has become Ground Zero.

Despite the bond between Jake and Brielle, doubt remains. Jake’s risky mission to discover his parentage separates them at the absolute WORST time. And, when he doesn’t return, Brielle’s fledgling faith is put to the test.

Again, Shannon Dittemore has spun a beautifully crafted story of love, faith, doubt and keeping our demons at bay. For those who enjoy paranormal fiction, BROKEN WINGS is a fantastic tale. Contemporary themes and realistic emotional content keep this story grounded firmly in the Terrestrial, with eyes to the skies and hope for a safe resolution.

The final story in this trilogy, DARK HALO, will be released next week–so readers won’t have long to wait for the conclusion. (Review for DARK HALO coming soon!)

BROKEN WINGS can be purchased (paperback or eBook) in all the right places…

 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg

A View Through ANGEL EYES

Angel Eyes (Angel Eyes, #1)Where do humans exist within the universe?

Somewhere between angels and demons, squarely within the Terrestrial according to Shannon Dittemore‘s YA paranormal ANGEL EYES.

Brielle has returned to her hometown of Stratus a shell of the graceful ballerina who left two years prior on a prestigious arts school scholarship. Instead of being the star on stage, Brielle is set to become the star-witness against Marco, the young man accused of killing her best friend Ali.

Barely able to contain her grief, Brielle has no desire to dance and struggles to attend school. Even when the new boy, Jake Shield, takes a serious interest in her.

Unknown to Brielle, forces are working both for and against her. Canaan Shield, Jake’s guardian, is an angel whose new mission is to keep Brielle safe, while the demon Damian discovers Jake and Brielle possess gifts rare among humankind.

Currently in disgrace, Damian quickly realizes Jake and Brielle would be valuable assets to Lucifer, if only he can corrupt their purpose. His role in a child-slavery business draws Brielle into danger, the same danger that killed Ali, and her new gift allows her to be the heroine of more than just her own life.

ANGEL EYES’s beautifully written prose unravels more than a forgiveness tale; it is an epic battle between goodness and evil which challenges the reader to take a new vision of the world surrounding us.

I very much enjoyed the fresh perspective. The mostly-linear plot facilitates both understanding and anticipation, especially considering the multiple points-of-view.

ANGEL EYES is the first in a trilogy. It is available for Kindle and Nook.