Saturday, March 25, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 56

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Bought Borrowed and Bagged is all about the latest additions to your library – virtual or actual, with books that are  bought, borrowed, won or ARCs  you will be reading soon. Bought Borrowed and Bagged is a homage to to Barron’s Books and Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s amazing Fever series, and is hosted by Braine over at Talk Supe. 

Thanks for Shopping by! 
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Tuesday - Redux by A.I. Davroe (YA, SyFy)

Wednesday - Seven Black Diamonds - Melissa Marr (YA, Fantasy) 

Saturday - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (YA, Fantasy)

*Received from Library, Edelweiss, Publishers*


#Saturday Review - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab #Ya Lit #Fantasy @veschwab @torbooks

Series: Shades of Magic # 3
Format: Hardcover, 624 pages
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay. 

A Conjuring of Light is the third and final installment in author V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading this series yet, STOP, and get yourselves a copy of these books. You will thank me later. You will love Schwab's creative world building. You will love Delilah "Lila" Bard, and Kell Maresh and even how much Rhy Maresh finally grows as a character, and not just a playboy who flirts with anyone with two legs. Schwab has brought readers to this point in time by leaving Lila and Kell in situations where they are forced to deal with an ancient force that may be more than they can handle together, let alone with help from allies such as Alucard Emery, and Rhy.

A Conjuring of Light picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off. Lila, our thief, pirate, and newly discovered magician has to figure out a way not only to decipher her new magical abilities, as well as saving Kell who she has grown close to. Meanwhile, Kell has been betrayed but you can definitely blame his betrayal on some bad choices he made in the previous novel. Prince Rhy, on the other hand, is stuck in the middle. Forever bound to his "brother" Kell, Rhy experiences everything that Kell does. Then there is Alucard Emery who has won the biggest competition, only to find out that an even bigger problem is creating devastating chaos.

Lila is my favorite character and here is my reasoning. First, she backs up her talk, and walks the walk even though she can be highly disturbed at times. One could say that she is in fact, blood thirsty. I have no issue with that. One could say that she is driven by that blood thirst to put herself in harm's way more than once. As long as nobody else gets hurt while she is trying to walk the trail of badassery, I don't care. I do think that she shows Kell a different avenue to walk. Kell is a character who scowls at everyone, mops around like someone stole his BMW, and tries to be everyone's savior when he should be worrying about his survival and his future. Still, not an overall downer for me. Characters need time to grow up, and Lila and Kell do that in this novel.

This book is a BEAST at 624 pages. Could it have been smaller? Of course, there is always room to take things out that have no correlation to the issues that are happening in the story. But, did it affect my overall rating. Pshaw! Nope! Have you ever encountered a villainous character you hated in previous books, but ended up respecting him in the end? That is my dilemma Holland. Holland has been a bee in my bonnet since I first met him. Holland has been Kell's adversary, and a very powerful character in his own right who has had to walk the darkside, and then somehow manage to help Lila and Kell against an even bigger villain. So, yes, Holland earned a bit of respect when all is said and done.

Writing a review for this book has put me in a blender, and shook me up to my foundation. I loved the way this book ends. I love it so much it actually had me crying tears of happiness & joy. It was the perfect way to escort our characters to their next travels. I loved that Lila and Kell finally stopped hopping around and just admitted that yes, they have deep feelings for each other, and those feelings need to be discovered, and even broadened. I am not going to speak about Rhy or Alucard's romance, and not because I am a bigot who hates gay characters. But, because I am Team Lila & Kell. Personally, I'm on the boat where you should love who your heart tells you to love.

Friday, March 24, 2017

#Friday Review - The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle Van Andale #YALit #Fantasy #Horror

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror

A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.
Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.
These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.
Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Author Peternelle Van Andale's The Beast is an Animal is an novel that I choose to request & read because of the synopsis and the cover. It ended up being one of the strangest stories that I've read this year. The story features a girl named Alys who lives in the village of Gwentil. Alys, like the other children of her village, has been told scary nursery rhymes about a so called beast. "The Beast is an Animal; It has a pointy chin. It eats you while you sleep at night. It leaves nothing but your skin behind."

Whey Alys was (7), two mirror image sisters, both born with a star shaped birthmark, entered the village of Gwentil and leave all the adults dead. Alys, who saw the two girls named Angelica and Benedicta, seems to have some sort of connection to them. A connection that will gradually grow clearer as the story reaches its apex. The rest of the children have no clue that soul eaters have just visited their village. Thanks to a traveler named Pawl, the surviving children are taken to a nearby village of Defaid. Defaid isn't a place that things happen that have me questioning what era this book is set to. 

These are puritans who call each other brother and sister. Alys new "mother" is someone who is actually interesting because she was not only a mid-wife, but also has a few dark secrets she's kept locked away. These are also the folks that Alys has to worry about after discovering that she herself has some unusual abilities which leads her to the Beast, and an interesting and twisted dilemma. After being caught spying on a young couple, Alys is accused of witchery. Thanks to her friends, she escapes to find her own way to deal with the sisters, and the beast. I should also mention that the only other characters that are even remotely interesting are Pawl, Beti, & Cian. 

Here is where I pause to explain my reasoning for the rating. I really wish there had been a bit of world building instead of just jumping in feet first. Is this supposedly a country called Byd? Are the villages part of Byd, or are they different territories? What time frame is this story supposedly set? From the folks in Defaid, and the way the author writes about witches, and how they are burned, or drowned, or stoned to death, I would gather this takes place sometime during the 15th century? Or, is this a dystopian type deal where a major event forced humanity back to the dark ages? Also, what was the deal with the spelling of Forest with two F's? (fforest) Was this a Welsh thing? This is a fairly dark story with both a heroine and a so called villain who are neither evil, nor truly good. There is a bit of romance, and the author isn't afraid to insert a bit of diversity into her story either.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

#Thursday Review - Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (Urban Fantasy)

Series: InCryptid # 1
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: DAW
Source: Amazon
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city

Discount Armageddon is the first installment in author Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series. This first novel features Verity Price, a cryptozoologist who has been trying to make it as a professional dancer. This is why Verity is in Manhattan. But, a girl also has to pay the bills which is why she also works as a waitress at Dave's Fish & Strips. Verity's family has a history that goes way back to the Covenant of St. George. Verity's family tries to keep safe those Cryptid's who are basically harmless. 

But, if they step out of line, she doesn't hesitate to put them down. In this world, there are 900 races of Cryptid's, of which some 80 are capable of passing as humans. Verity and family are cryptozoologists who study and research monsters. Verity has tried to keep a decent relationship with those monsters, but sometimes she gets caught up in things that are way over her head. Which leads Verity to meeting her families nemesis in the form of Dominic De Luca who just happens to snare Verity in one of his traps while hunting Cryptid's. Dominic's Covenant doesn't believe in coddling the monsters. They want to flush them out, and exterminate all of them off the face of the earth.

Good thing that Verity has trained all her life for this moment to come. Good thing  that Verity has some help in the form of her "cousin" Sarah Zellaby who is one of the more dangerous Cryptid's in existence. Dominic reminds me of a person who has been totally and absolutely brainwashed not unlike those who are swept away by religious cults. Dominic's whole world gets shredded to pieces after meeting Verity who, along with her family, was presumed to be dead. After Dominic and Verity put their issues behind them, and agree to work together, there is plenty of sizzle and we see a different side to Dominic than the ruthless killer. 

This is a world that has Aeslin Mice, (speaking mice who celebrate various monumental moments in the Price/Healy family). We can also add a dragon, dragon princess, waheela's, bogeymen, bear shifters, gorgons, ghouls and plenty of other monsters who call Manhattan home. One of the conflicts is with Verity herself. Will she be able to be a professional dancer she's worked hard to become, or will she have to hang up her ballet slippers, and stick to being a cryptozoologist. I have already read book # 2, and will most likely skip over books #3 & #4 to get back to Verity, and then Magic for Nothing which is Antimony Price's book. After reading this first novel, I am all in to get caught up as soon as possible. I love this world. I love Verity, Sarah, and her parents who are tertiary characters at best, but are just a phone call away if trouble gets too close.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#Wednesday Review - Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr #YALit #Fantasy @HarperCollins

Series: Seven Black Diamonds # 1
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.
From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.
Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.
Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.
Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.
Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. 

Seven Black Diamonds is the first installment in author Melissa Marr's Seven Black Diamonds series. Marr does what she does best. She returns to the world of the Fae, while creating a world where Fae and Humans have been at war with each other ever since a fateful happenstance pushed Endellion, the Queen of Blood and Rage, into declaring war against humanity. One could, in fact, say that this story is cross dystopian, and part paranormal.   

The story features several narratives including Lilywhite Abernathy, daughter of mobster Nicolas Abernathy. It also features Roan, one of the Queen's sleeper agents, and Eilidh (Ay-leigh), the Queen's heir to both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. I have to say, I actually liked Eilidh's narrative. She is the heir, but scorned by Seelie and Unseelie alike because of her features. She has a secret that if revealed too soon, could have serious implications on the Queen's plans. She also has a brother in Rhys who is protective of her, and she has a fiance Torquill who would die for her. 

One could, in confidence, call Seven Black Diamonds meet the characters since that is exactly what is laid out for us. Oh yes, we eventually learn about what drove the war between humans and Fae, but it is more important to learn about the Seven Diamonds while trying to decide whether or not they are worthy of our attention. After all, not all of the characters are impressive, and in some way, they are background fodder for political machinations. We're told that because of Lily's dual heritage, she can be arrested at any time if her fae heritage is exposed to the public. Being Fae is tantamount to being killed on sight.

We're told that she's been trained to become her father's successor, and keeps a fairly good sized amount of weapons on her body which she is skilled at using. We can also firmly say that her own father doesn't explain some really important things to her, before sending her off to a boarding school where she will soon meet the other members of "her" team. We can also say that Lily falls immediately into an insta-romance when she meets Creed Morrison, a singer who is also one of the Queen's Seven Diamonds, aka Sleeper agents who are fighting a secretive war against Humanity. 

Lily lives by what the author has called the Abernathy rules. Don't be upset if you miss any of Lily's rules. She has a tendency of repeating them as she wades through a new reality that fundamentally changes her entire existence, let alone what she is expected to do next. She also ends up making several new ones along the way after encountering other Fae. One of the interesting question is about the Queen's sleepers. Who are they really? Are they half-lings, or changelings, or something else entirely? One can easily call the Seven terrorists, and not be hit upside the head with a large dictionary. That is what they do, after all. They spread fear and terror.

I'm not going to talk all that much about the rest of the so called Diamonds. Especially since the synopsis pretty much gives all that information away. But, I will mention that they as Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy who will later become Lily's flatmate at school. I am happy about one facet about this story. That facet being that Lily doesn't allow herself to be drawn into a triangle. Her feelings for Creed are genuine. She doesn't care about betrothals, or what she is expected to do. She has some courage and strength and some backbone and that comes in handy when meeting and dealing with her new reality. 

Apparently, I have been reading way, way too many books. The big revelation was so apparent, that I almost laughed instead of being impressed. So, no, I am not digging at the author. I am saying that I read way, way too many books that have had similar paths to revelation and conclusions. I like the unknown. I like not knowing what is going to happen to a character or whether or not the character will accept their supposed fate or not. I would honestly love if a character just said, hey, no thank you! But, that would totally ruin an entire series, right? 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Redux by A.L. Davroe (YA, Science Fiction) @aldavroe @EntangledTeen

Series: Tricksters # 2
Format: E-Galley, 428 pages
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopian

The domed city of Evanescence is in ruins. With nowhere to go, prodigy hacker Ellani “Ella” Drexel and a small band of survivors flee to the Undertunnel below their city.
To escape the wasteland she unknowingly created.
But sanctuary is hard to find. With malfunctioning androids and angry rebels at their backs, the group hopes to press on for the neighboring city of Cadence. But Ella’s chosen path is challenging…life-threatening, even. Worse, the boy she loves is acting distant, and not at all like the person she first met in Nexis.
But then Ella learns a secret…and it changes everything. Ella knows she needs to turn back and make a stand to reclaim her home. She’s determined to bring a new—and better—life to all who’ve suffered. Or die trying

Redux is the second installment in author A.L. Davroe's Trickster's series. Redux picks up immediately where Nexis left off. To summarize, Tricksters is a series that is set in a far off future where Global Nuclear War has torn the world apart. The survivors built themselves Dome Cities like Evanescence. In doing so, they separated into two classes: Aristocrats who enjoy all the benefits of Modification and Alterations, & the Disfavored who were born outside of the domed cities and have held resentment against the Aristo's. 

Protagonist Ellani (Ella) Drexel is what one would call a Natural. She hasn't had any modifications, or alterations and that is mostly due to her mother's request that she remain who she is and not jump into the deep end of the pool at the first chance she gets to alter her appearances so much so that she can't recognize herself in the mirror. Ellani has been portrayed as a highly intelligent programmer and designer. Her programming part is what has brought us to this point in the series. But, as the author made a point of saying, Ella is stupid smart. 

If was Ella's actions in planting a computer virus into the city's artificial intelligence that made it rebel, and begin a killing spree that forced Ella, Quentin, Gus and others into seeking shelter from not only rebels, but also those who were built to protect the city from outsiders. Ella's actions have had far reaching implications for everyone involved, and Ella's own parent's may hold the answer to what really happened, and why.  

While Nexus took place mostly in Virtual Reality, this story expands to include Disfavored rebels like Mac, Cairen, Aaron & Delaney, as well as Stormy who I believe we will see even more of if there is a sequel to this story. But, it is Violet who I truly loved. She is a character who is an encyclopedia of information, and is the oldest human being alive. She actually has been there, and done that over the course of her long life. She was the perfect character to add to the story that made Ella feel both alive, and curious about all the knowledge that Violet has to teach the rest of humanity. 

Redux gets down to the nitty gritty and answers some pretty important questions as to why Ella was used in such a way that brought so much pain and suffering to a whole lot of people. It also answers a question that has been chafing at my skin since Nexus was released. Who did Ella actually fall for in Nexus? I really like Ella. She is human who makes mistakes. She breaks down emotionally, and then picks herself back up and carries on. Ella could have left the stage at any time, especially after being held prisoner, losing her father, and then losing her legs.

Instead, she's become a leader. She puts a face on the troubles that lie ahead by facing them without shrinking away in disgrace. She doesn't agree with anything that's happened, including her unwitting part in destroying Evanescence, but she know that she has to become the bearer of a whole lot of responsibilities if Aristocrats and Disfavored after going to survive an even more diabolical challenge. She has also clearly found the person she is supposed to be. I dare hope that the author and publisher are working on a sequel to this book. I would love to read about what happens next.

Monday, March 20, 2017

#Monday Review - Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost (Paranormal Fantasy)

Series: Night Prince # 4
Format: Paperback, 340 pages
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Avon
Source: Library
Genre: Paranormal Romance

In the explosive finale to New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Night Prince series, Vlad is in danger of losing his bride to an enemy whose powers might prove greater than the Prince of Vampire’s…. 
In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.
For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.
A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

Into the Fire is the fourth and final installment in author Jeaniene Frost's Night Prince series. If you've gotten to this point in the series, then you know how we got here. You know about Mircea, Vlad's nephew, stepson, and mortal enemy who spelled Leila blood to blood, and flesh to flesh all to get back at Vlad. You know about Leila's psychic abilities, her abilities with lightning, her friendship with Marty, and how she became a vampire thanks to Vlad's enemies. But, what you didn't know about Leila, apparently facilitated the need for a fourth book in this series. 

Frost adds new elements to her series in the form of powerful Demons, and vampire necromancers who hold Leila and Mircea's life in the balance. What they want won't become clear until Leila, Vlad, Ian, and Mencheres find a way to locate Mircea and break the spell he holds over Leila. This is one of those books that for me, could have gone one way or the other. But, here's the ticker, I wasn't aware that Into the Fire would be the lead-in book to Ian's series which the author is apparently working on. 

Why did I say that, you ask? Well, Frost introduces readers to Ian's would be partner in crime in this book. No, I will not say whom it is. If you've already read the book, then you obviously know who I am talking about. I am curious that Leila has followed in the footsteps of not only Cat, but also her best friend Denise, who I am sure you know all about. All of them have had circumstances that have irreversibly
changed them into something else. They've all somehow managed to become even more by way of special new abilities. Readers will learn a pretty interesting secret about Leila's family ties, how she is able to handle her powers, as well as yet another character who changes certain dynamics.. 

I can honestly call myself bored with the explicit sex scenes. Been there, done that, walked 10 miles in the snow in sneakers, and lived to tell about it. The explicit sex scenes between Cat and Bones will always be the standard barrier for which to compare all of Frost's future & past works. I am glad that Mencheres was involved in this series, but would have loved to see Kira. I am glad that I was correct in what Frost would do with Gretchen Dalton. Pfft, if you don't know what I'm talking about, read the book. But, I never thought I would actually care one iota for Mircea. There are things I can forgive, and then there are things that we have to just expect, and move forward. 

In the end, this book is a bridge that closes one series and leads the path to another. Will I read Ian's book? I am not really sure. I do like the would be female protagonist who was introduced. I am glad that she is just as badass as Cat, and may even have the ability to match her in several distinct areas.