Book Review: Reaping Havoc, by AJ Rose

Reaping Havoc, by AJ Rose
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Genre: Paranormal; M/M Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5

Buy Link: Amazon / ARe

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No one asked Mitch Seeker if he wanted to be a grim reaper. He didn’t sign up for the rumors, the lack of friends, or the erratic schedule. He doesn’t want to go through life watching people die. Especially not a man he loves. Mitch’s solution is simple—don’t fall in love. He’ll never have to explain why he doesn’t age or why he’s around death so often. Most of all, he will never be a widower.

But when his head is turned by world-class skier Nate Koehn, Mitch believes he may have the answer. If the soul attached to Nate is any indication, Mitch has found himself another reaper, in which case, his undeniable feelings don’t have to be suppressed. However, the spectral tag-a-long is only the beginning of Nate’s burdens. After a catastrophic loss, Nate is no stranger to grief and the hole it leaves behind.

The question they both must answer is loud and clear: is the pain of losing love worse than the pain of never having loved at all?

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Dream Author Teams!

top-ten-tuesday-textAs always, this weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Batman has his Robin, and the Avengers work better together than apart. Since authors are basically superheroes in my mind, it makes sense for them to team up for a book (or two), right? I mean, you have Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett combining literary forces to write Good Omens, and John Green and David Levithan co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson. In fact, a quick glance at my bookshelf shows a handful of co-written novels, including Illuminae (which I just reviewed yesterday).

Since co-writing novels seems to be “the thing” to do these days, here are five teams of authors that I’d love to see team up!

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1. Maggie Stiefvater and John Green

stiefvater green

Obviously they have a healthy rivalry on the race track, but Stiefvater and Green also have the young adult world wrapped around their little fingers. Apart, the authors of The Raven Cycle quartet and The Fault in Our Stars (respectively) are wildly popular. Together? Well, I’m pretty sure there would be a shortage of tissues world-wide, to say the very least!

I want a book with Stiefvater’s magical realism and Green’s crushing realism. I want a book with emotions that will feel like a punch in the chest, characters that are witty and sarcastic, and a thread of fantasy twisting down the center. If their powers combined, the YA genre wouldn’t know what hit it!

2. Anne Rice and Stephen King

king rice

Yes, it’s obvious. But they’re two of the biggest names in horror. And I’m not talking the new horror, that’s sole purpose is to freak you out with sudden revelations and gruesome images. Rice and King are masters at the slow-build horror, the creeping chill that runs its icy fingers up your spine late at night.

King has plenty of experience dabbling in the paranormal horror genre, so I’d love to see a book from the two of them with mythical creatures. Like, Supernatural if it were actually scary!

3. Garrett Leigh and Heidi Cullinan

leigh cullinan

In the M/M romance genre, there are no authors that I trust more than Leigh and Cullinan when it comes to writing beautiful, realistic characters. Leigh’s Misfits is at the top of my recommendations list, and Cullinan’s Love Lessons series is RITA nominated and achingly perfect.

If these authors paired up to write a novel, I hope it would be as poignant and heart-breaking as everything else they’ve written, with characters who leap off the pages and romances that are as close to perfect as any I’ve ever read.

4. Anna Zabo and A.J. Rose

zabo rose

Two of the most amazing BDSM authors in the M/M genre, Zabo and Rose are both on my to-re-read list. Zabo wrote Takeover and Just Business (one of my favorite books of the year so far!), about the power dynamics in the boardroom and the bedroom. Rose wrote the Power Exchange trilogy, about a cop investigating a series of BDSM-related murders who finds himself attracted to the lifestyle.

If these two authors paired up, I would be camping out to buy their books. They both write excellent, realistic BDSM romances. The power exchanges are gorgeous, the characters are interesting, and the books themselves are a blast to read over and over!

5. Neil Gaiman and Anyone


Is this cheating? Meh, I don’t care! Neil Gaiman is a phenomenal and incredibly versatile author. He writes short stories that make you laugh, children’s books that inspire, and novels that have you gasping for breath. While most of his previous collaborations are with artists (particularly Dave McKean, who is brilliant!), he’s teamed up with a few authors in the past.

Gaiman has a really unique voice, and I think that could be combined with several authors with amazing results. Imagine him writing a historical magic novel with Susanna Clarke or Zen Cho, or an urban fantasy with Maggie Stiefvater? I’d even love to see a collaboration between him and his wife, Amanda Palmer. YES PLEASE!

Who are your dream team authors?

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Friday Five: Book Cover Art that I Absolutely Love

Even though I travel overseas frequently and rely on e-readers to keep up with my “to read” list, there’s something profound about holding a physical book in my hands. Part of it is the smell of the paper and ink, the feel of the pages as I turn them. But part of it is the physical appearance.

I’ll come right out and say it: I judge books by their covers.

Book covers are works of art. Some aren’t particularly good works of art, but some of them are masterpieces. A stunning cover is what catches your eye in the store and makes you pick up a book that you otherwise would have passed over.

Here are five of my favorite (non-traditional) romance novel book covers, with a twist: all of the covers share the same color scheme.

The-Night-Circus-CVR Summary: There is a traveling circus which appears without warning in towns around the world. And if the wonders inside seem magical, it’s because they are; the circus is actually a battle-ground for magicians Celia and Marco.

This is one of my all-time favorite romances, mostly because it’s so much more than a love story. It’s about magic and dreams and believing in yourself. It’s about refusing to give in to other people’s expectations and doing what you want. It’s about friendship and family and the bonds that define us as human beings. But yes, it’s also about love.

The cover art on all of the editions perfectly fits the whimsical and magical feel of the circus. I love the sharp contrast of the red (a distinctive trademark of frequent visitors to the circus) and the cutouts of the couple on the cover. (Cover Artist: Helen Musselwhite or Pei Loi Koay, I couldn’t find for sure)

stiefvater-ravenboysSummary: Blue Sargent is a normal girl in a family of psychics. She’s been told since she was a little girl that if she kisses her true love, he will die. So when she has a vision of a soon-to-be-dead boy named Gansey, she knows his death will be her fault.

The Raven Cycle quartet (book four is due in 2016) is probably one of the most amazing YA series that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s smart, witty, and incredibly original. The characters are teenagers who deal with normal teenager things– school, crushes, family– but also issues like fate, destiny, and magic.

The cover art here is something I would hang on my wall in a heartbeat. Stunning, dark, and with very cool details hidden within. (Cover Artist: Adam S. Doyle)

Summary: If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you might not know about the Hunger Games. A dystopia where every year one male and one female ‘tribute’ from each District is sent to the Capital to fight to the death.

I do consider this series to be ‘romance’, even though I know some would disagree; I love gritty novels where the romance is fought for every step of the way, and hard-won in the end.

These gorgeous covers are part of the Australian luxury editions, with metallic-edged pages and a raised cover. Even though I already owned all three books in the trilogy, I had to buy these beauties when I found them overseas! (Cover Artist: Unknown)

murakami-windupbird Summary: A man named Toru Okada is searching the Tokyo suburbs for his wife’s runaway cat, but soon finds himself searching for his missing wife as well. He goes to a sub-Tokyo world, and there meets a series of characters on his quest.

When this novel was first published almost twenty years ago, the New York Times called it, “a big, ambitious book” which deals with, among other things, “the transitory nature of romantic love”. Murakami’s novels have always read as love stories to me, even though they in no way resemble a traditional romance.

I love the simplicity of this cover and the other Murakami covers by this artist, released by Vintage and used, it seems, primarily on the Amazon Kindle editions. Very much “modern art”, and very cleverly designed too! (Cover Artist: Noma Bar)

Consentdarkercoverjpg_zps397820fdSummary: Gavin DeGrassi is a detective who gets handed a unique murder case. The victim was part of the BDSM lifestyle, and it looks like a serial killer is targeting Doms within the community. Enter Ben Haverson, a psychologist and Dom who works with Gavin as a consultant, and then becomes something more to Gavin as he begins to explore the lifestyle for himself.

Gavin and Ben are a gorgeous couple, and the process of Gavin coming to terms with his sexuality and the fascination he has with the BDSM lifestyle is written so perfectly.

This cover is from the third book in the trilogy, but all three covers follow the same theme. I love the stark contrast of a single character suspended in the middle of the image.

(Cover Artist: Theo Fenraven)

Review: The Long Fall of Night, by A. J. Rose (Rating: 4.5/5)

The Long Fall of Night, by A.J. Rosewordpress blog stats
Publisher: The Grim Writer Press (June 16, 2015)
Page Count: 473 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance

Cover Artist: Elizabeth Mackey

Cover Artist: Elizabeth Mackey

Short & Sweet: Welcome to the long fall of night… A sudden blackout hits New York City, leaving Ash Caine and his lab partner Elliot Davenport in darkness. But Ash knows that this is no ordinary power outage; twelve hours earlier he’d received a coded message from his Uncle Marvin, warning him to “be ready”. Now Ash has two goals: get to his sister’s house in upstate New York, and get her and her son to Seattle, where Uncle Marvin lives. But Elliot isn’t about to let Ash leave him behind, especially if what Ash says is true.

My Thoughts: This was one of my most anticipated books of June, and I’m always thrilled when a book I’m looking forward to is as good as I’d hoped! After reading A.J. Rose’s Power Exchange trilogy, I had an expectation of what this book would hold: amazing characters, beautiful writing and well-researched plot, and a hot, sexy romance. Lemme tell you something… A.J. delivered on all fronts!

The Eastern two-thirds are without power, leaving more than two hundred million people in the dark. Ash was raised to survive in any circumstance, but even this is beyond his comprehension. Still, with his family and friends to take care of, he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to make it to safety. And even though he insists that Elliot is just a friend (and occasional hook-up), Ash doesn’t want to leave him behind.

In Denver, a city that’s half-dark and half-powered, the Army team Shockwave are dealing with their own issues. They have orders to evacuate the part of the city without power, but the situation is takings its toll on the normally tight teammates. Sergeant “Ness” Midler and her team are trying to stay sane, but best friends Chris and Donnie are trying to ignore their attraction to each other in the midst of everything else.

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Friday Five: Upcoming June Releases

Ahhh, it’s finally warming up in the Northern Hemisphere after a long and messy winter! It was snowing in Colorado just a month ago, and the piles of snow in Boston still haven’t melted… insane, right? Thank goodness summer is finally here!

(Okay, where I live it’s always summer, but that’s beside the point.)

Summer is the best time of year for Romance books in my experience, and there’s nothing more perfect than the combination of a good book, a warm breeze, and blue water lapping at your feet.

So far, June has been a great month for new releases, with amazing novels from Rhys Ford, Lauren Gallagher, and Alexis Hall, to name a few. And the rest of the month has me bouncing with excitement.

Here are five books that I can’t wait to read in the second half of June:

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

The Deep of the Sound, by Amy Lane (Riptide Publishing, June 15)

Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great-uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.

Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.

Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.

Cover Artist: Unknown

Cover Artist: Unknown

Just Business, by Anna Zabo (Random House/InterMix, June 16)

Justin White may not look like an up and coming corporate superstar, but his new boss knows he has the smarts, grit, and determination to succeed. Now he just has to convince his company’s CFO, Eli Ovadia. Unfortunately, Justin can’t seem to keep his cool around the domineering Eli—and soon he finds himself taking their heat from the boardroom into the bedroom….

Still haunted by a tragic accident that left him with a wounded leg and broken heart, Eli has a need to be in control. But his desire for Justin makes him want to lose that control—and push them both far beyond their limits. But will his need to dominate Justin drive him away—or will Eli find a way to be the man he needs for both of them?

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

The Girl Next Door, by Amy Jo Cousins (Samhain Publishing, June 16)

Charles “Cash” Carmichael traded his high-rise condo and family-firm career for a job coaching soccer for Chicago’s inner-city kids. He’s adjusting to living on minimum wage when his young cousin, newly out and running away from home, shows up on his less-than-luxurious doorstep.

Angsty teens definitely aren’t Cash’s thing. He needs local backup, and there’s only one name he can think of: Stephany Tyler. Back in the day, the bisexual Steph was the perfect friend with benefits until she fell in love with a woman.

To his relief, his former friend steps up to the plate. Soon, though, Cash finds himself feeling the familiar need to keep her in his bed, and in his life. But Steph, burned by the ex-girlfriend and by the absentee dad she’s been trying to connect with, won’t risk her heart again.

Good thing Cash believes in leaving it all on the field. If he can just convince Steph to get in the game, there’s a chance they can both win.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

The Tide of War, by Lori A. Witt (Riptide Publishing, June 22)

Lieutenant Commander Kyle West is one of Earth Fleet’s greatest fighter pilots. Every day, he leads his squadron into battle over Earth’s cities in a seemingly endless war against a vicious alien race, defending his home and his loved ones.

Millions of miles away, the Fleet’s Elite Squadron attacks from another angle, engaging the enemy on its home turf. Casualties are high, and the Squadron needs more of the Fleet’s very best. But joining the Elite is a death sentence—a surety Kyle isn’t willing to face. Until a devastating attack wipes out the family he refused to leave.

Commander Andrei Dezhnyov, an Elite Squadron gunner, isn’t sure what to make of the cocky new American pilot. Kyle is equally uncertain about the snarly Russian, but as they warm up to each other, their tentative alliance becomes a deep bond—one that endangers them both when a daring and disobedient rescue reveals secrets that call into question everything they’ve ever believed about their enemy. Secrets that their superiors would kill to protect.

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

The Peach and the Poppy, by Caesar J.M. Kauftheil (Less Than Three Press, June 24)

After an unpleasant breakup with her girlfriend, Poppy goes on a solo trip to Paris. Her first morning out she encounters a beautiful stranger, but it proves to be the only good part of the day. Though she tries to appreciate the beautiful city she’s come to escape in for a time, Poppy can’t help but feel something is lacking.

When her best friend suggests what she needs is a fling to clear away her ex for good, Poppy approaches the beautiful woman from before to be her tour guide for the duration of her vacation, but as the trip draws all too quickly to an end, Poppy realizes that in seeking a cure for heartache, she may instead have just made the problem worse…

Cover Artist: Unknown

Cover Artist: Unknown

Bonus: The Long Fall of Night, by A. J. Rose (June 2015 est.)

When NYU student Asher Caine’s uncle calls to warn him something big is coming, he has no idea it will be so devastating. Not even years of training can prepare him for what he’s about to face. The only plan he has is to get his sister and nephew across country to safety, whatever it takes.

Elliot Davenport isn’t about to let his Chemistry lab partner leave him behind, though he’s never done a spontaneous thing in his life. Ash is mysterious, aloof, and so damned sexy, Elliot can’t get the guy out of his head. But his crush takes a backseat as the gravity of the situation becomes clear: the eastern two-thirds of the United States has gone dark.