Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday #Review - Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Flame in the Mist # 1
Format: Hardcover, 392 pages
Release Date: May 16th 2017 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons 
Source: Library
Recommended By: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.
So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.
The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.



“Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain. And you can do anything...” 

Flame in the Mist is the first installment in author Renee Ahdeh's Flame in the Mist series. The story begins with 17-year old Mariko Hattori, the main protagonist of this story, being sent away to Inako where she is to meet her betrothed Prince Raiden. Along the way, her norimono is attacked by a mysterious group who Mariko believes belongs to the dreaded Black Clan. As the only survivor, Mariko has to make a choice; return home to her family where they will most likely send her on to Inako, or disguise herself as a boy and track down the Black Clan who she believes is responsible for attacking her group.

Mariko chooses the second option, and away on a fantastical adventure we go. It has been said by many people that this story reminded them of 47 Ronin meets Mulan. I can get behind that comparison. I loved the strength that Mariko shows throughout this book. She is a very curious person who loves to learn. Even though, at times, she is rather foolhardy, far too prone to ask questions that can get her in trouble, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, she does manage to catch the readers fantasy as a character who doesn't lay down and let others dictate terms to her. 

“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead. Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.” 

One of the other things I loved about Mariko, is that she is an inventor who is in a world all her own. As the daughter of a noted Samurai, and the sister of Kenshin, known as the dragon, she has tries to carve out a niche all her own. She knows that she is a political pawn to be used by her father, but at the same time, once she does contact the Black Clan, she comes into her own by upping her game even more. She has an golden opportunity to not only find out who ordered her death, but discover a world that would be open to her had she been born a boy.

This story isn't just about Mariko though. Kenshin plays a part as he tries track down his twin sister, and discover whether she is dead or alive and who was behind the attack on her convoy. Kenshin is the absolute opposite of Mariko. He is hard, and cold, and dangerous. We also find ourselves deep in political intrigue in what is feudal Japan and the Empire of the Wa. We meet the very twisted royal family where nothing is at it seems, and the key players who all have an apparent agenda just waiting to be sprung. Then, there is the curious connection between Mariko and Okami and his ability to shape shift. This is a story that is filled with action, adventures, surprises, betrayals, bloodsucking trees, samurai, sorcerers, and a bit of romance.  




Saturday, June 24, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 69


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! 

As I celebrate my 6th year of blogging, yes, it really has been that long!
 I want to thank you. I thank you for your support. I thank you for your comments. I thank you for sticking with me for the most amazing 6 years that I've had in a very long time. Yes, there were times I thought about giving up. Haven't we all? But, reading and blogging is my life. Especially since I am unable to work. I look forward to reading your comments, stopping by your blogs, and best of all, connecting with a bunch of awesome authors who have made me feel that I'm not wasting my time. 

Have a great weekend!
Shelley

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Julia Defiant by Catherine Egan (YA, Fantasy)


Wednesday - The Child by Fiona Barton (Mystery)


Friday - Now I Rise by Kiersten White (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - Infinity by Jus Accardo (YA, SyFy)

Posted @ Talk Supe Blog



*Received from NetGalley/Edelweiss*




Library or Amazon






>

Friday, June 23, 2017

Saturday #Review - Infinity by Jus Accardo #YALit #Science Fiction

Series: The Infinity Division # 1
Format: Kindle, 320 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Science Fiction

Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away… That’s taking it a step too far.
Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.
Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Kori's, infinite Cade's…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.
Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge…


"There are three things Kori knows for sure about her life:
One: Her army general dad is insanely overprotective.
Two: The guy he sent to watch her, Cade, is way too good-looking.
Three: Everything she knew was a lie.

Now there are three things Kori never knew about her life:
One: There’s a device that allows her to jump dimensions.
Two: Cade’s got a lethal secret.
Three: Someone wants her dead.



Infinity is the first installment in author Jus Accardo's The Infinity Division series. 17-year old Kori Anderson is something of a rebel. She really doesn't get along with others. But, as an artist, she loves to defile public property with her artwork. She's been caught doing hard core tagging. Kori, as you have surmised, has a penchant for getting herself into trouble. Call it acting out if you will after losing her mother a few years before. 

Add that to some very interesting inner dialogue, and you have the strange tale of Kori Anderson. To top things off, Kori is the daughter of an Army General who is currently stationed at Fort Hannity Army Base in Welb, New York. (My mind immediately went to Fort Drum which is about 30 miles from the Canadian border). Kori's father travels a lot for work, but he has been keeping a very interesting secret. A secret that comes at Kori quickly and without warning in the form of Dylan, who somehow knows her name and decides to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse that has consequences for everyone involved. 

A game that has its routes in another place altogether. Noah Emeal and Cade Granger are two characters that are sent by her father to keep her out of trouble, and keep her safe. They really don't know what they have to deal with until they get the whole Kori affect. Now that someone apparently wants Kori dead, secrets about a group known as The Infinity Division and her father's real job come tumbling out. The whole idea that there is someone who wants to kill me part of this story unless he gets what he wants, more than pulled its own weight against what the Infinity Division is supposed to be about; parallel earth's. 

The Infinity Division has the ability to jump from place to place. As you would imagine, there is a bit of romance in this story. That romance sits on the shoulders of Kori and Cade. In one way, this romance made me a bit uncomfortable for reasons that have nothing to do with abuse, but the fact that they are from two different worlds, and are apparently in love in almost every single parallel Earth's. Have you ever read Claudia Gray's Firebird series? If so, you will most likely enjoy this series as well.




Friday #Review - Now I Rise by Kiersten White #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Conqueror's Saga # 2
Format: E-Galley, 496 pages
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.


Now I Rise is the second installment in author Kiersten White's The Conqueror's Saga. The story is once again set to the backdrop of the era of the Ottoman Empire circa 1453 under Sultan Mehmed II aka Mehmed The Conqueror. One of my main complaints about And I Darken was the religious aspects of the story and the characters who were forced into converting against their will. Thankfully, White doesn't get bogged down with the religion this time around, but instead focuses on the character development of Lada and Radu. The story alternates chapters between Radu and Lada who has left on her own conquest. 

“He had imagined Constantinople, had wanted it for Mehmed. It had been simple and straightforward. But now he knew the true cost of things, the murky horrors of the distance between wanting something and getting it.”

Now that Lada has left him behind, Radu has Mehmed all to himself and because of it, he actually shows amazing character growth. Radu loves unconditionally, which puts him in some very awkward positions. His desire and love for Mehmed really does break the emotional bank. His marriage to Nazira is a sham, but she's still his rock. Even more so after he is later sent to Constantinople to spy on the city and she travels alongside him. Radu has had to deal with Mehmed obsession with Constantinople for years. He hasn't exactly muted that obsession, but helped it along by attempting to be part of building the Sultan's navyHe gets a first hand look at the city, and really, I think a better understanding of the people.

Radu's time in Constantinople really pulls not only on his faith, but what's right and what's wrong. There are times when Radu struggles, and this is why I really loved his development. Radu meets with several interesting characters in this book, most especially Constantine XI who's death would mark the end of the Byzantine Empire. The other happens to be a woman named Urbana of Transylvania who claims she can build a canyon the likes of which has never been seen before. Radu most interesting relationship is with Cyprian. Cyprian becomes his stalwart and friend not knowing that Radu is betraying him and the cities residents. 

“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge. Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

I am pretty sure you know by know that this series is a reimaging of Vlad the Impaler in a gender swap way that makes Vlad, Lada. Lada and her troops are having a hard time getting to Lada's ultimate goal of retaking her home and becoming Prince of WallachiaShe's betrayed, ignored, laughed at, and look down upon. She may only have a little under three dozen Janissary soldiers left, but they are pretty loyal, especially Nicolae, and Bogdan. Lada may have to make a deal with the deal himself to get what she desperately wants, and she is nothing like Radu who has skills in areas she doesn't. Lada is a character who believes in carrying a big stick, and going full throttle. 

Lada's desire of reclaiming Wallachia comes at the same time that Mehmed has stepped up his plans of conquering Constantinople. Lada, I think, has come to an interesting place in her life. Unlike Mehmed, Lada's sex gets in the way of her own conquest. She has to deal with ruling families who want to keep what they have, and take away what Lada has worked hard to gather. I adored this story because it is so intense, so dark, brutal, and historically close to the actual facts of what happened during this time period. I do hope that White goes full throttle in the next book. There is plenty to come if she intends to follow in Vlad the Impaler's path. 





Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday #Review - The Rift Uprising by Amy S Foster (#YALIT, Science Fiction)

Series: The Rift Uprising Trilogy # 1
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA / Science Fiction

The first book in the fast-paced action-adventure, The Rift Uprising trilogy—an enthralling mix of speculative fiction and military thriller—in which a young soldier comes to question the monsters she’s trained to fight against . . . and the monsters she fights for
Seventeen-year-old Ryn Whittaker is a Citadel: an elite, enhanced soldier specially chosen to guard a Rift, a mysterious and dangerous portal to alternate Earths scientists cannot control or close. Trained from the age of fourteen, Ryn can run faster, jump farther, and fight better than a Navy SEAL—which is good when you’re not sure if a laser-wielding Neanderthal or an axe-wielding Viking is trying to make it through the Rift and into her world.
But the teenager’s military conditioning and education have not prepared her for the boy who crosses through—a confused young man, seemingly lost and alone. Because while there’s an immediate physical attraction, it’s his intelligence and curiosity that throws Ryn off balance. The stranger asks disturbing questions about the Rift that Ryn herself has never considered—questions that lead her to wonder if everything about her life and what she’s been told these past six years has been a lie. Are the Rifts as dangerous as her leaders say? Should her people really try to close them . . . or learn how to travel through them?



The Rift Uprising is the first installment in author Amy S. Foster's The Rift Uprising Trilogy. Set in a not too distant future, the story features 17-year old Ryn Whittaker. Ryn is the leader of Beta Team, a group of super-soldiers who have been trained since an early age to protect the world from invaders who show up through Rifts. Rifts are portals to an infinite number of other Earths. Rifts that manage to cobbler all sorts of strange and wondrous beings and animals that drop them on Ryn's world.

Ryn and her teammates are based out of Washington State (Bonneville Military Camp). At Fourteen, Ryn and her teammates chips, implanted in their heads, were activated. For 3 years Ryn has stood guard watching for what comes out of the Rift. You never know what may come out of the Rift. One day it might be the hated Karekins, the next it might be Vikings, the day after that it might be curious beings that could be Edward Cullen and his family. Or, if you are really lucky, you may see a unicorn or dinosaur come through.

Ryn and her fellow teammates Boone, Violet, and Henry have amazing abilities. They heal quicker, they have increased stamina, they can run longer and faster, they have eidetic memory, they learn languages quickly, and they share a huge secret that nobody outside of the ARC can understand. Their families actually believe they are attending a higher accelerated education. But, there is a downfall. They can pretty much never have sex for fear of hurting, or killing their partners thanks to a maddening psychosis known as Bloodlust.

Ryn has never once broken protocol for any reason. But, after a boy named Ezra is dropped through the rift, things change. Ezra's arrival triggers something in Ryn that leads her to start questioning everything about the Allied Rift Coalition (ARC), Rifts, Roones, (a highly evolved humanoid species that created certain technologies), the Village where Immigrants are sent and are never allowed to leave, and how she and the other Citadels are not allowed to touch anyone for fear of being swallowed up whole by the bloodlust. 

One could say that there is an instance of instalove between Ryn and Ezra. Yes, I've said how much I hate instalove. An author recently told me to think of instalove situations as though you are the adolescent whose hormones are just getting charged up. There you see a boy, or girl for that matter, who just gets your heart beating faster than the engine of a race car. Not like that has every happened to me. Nope. What? Don't believe me? :::evil grin:: The preoccupation of having sex in this book took away from my overall enjoyment of the story. 

This story is filled with references to movies and TV shows like Ender's Game, Twilight, Transformers, and Buffy the Vampire slayer. Ryn does get away with a whole lot of shenanigans in this book that others probably would have been court-martialed or worse. As this is the first book in the trilogy, there is a whole lot of name dropping, and background static. Some is necessary to understand what Ryn and her fellow Citadel members have been put through. The rest is just the line that crosses what makes this more of an adult themed book, than a young adult one.





Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday #Review - The Child by Fiona Barton #Thrillers #Psychological #Fiction

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 384 pages
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Genre: Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological

The author of the stunning New York Times bestseller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense. 
As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby? 
As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss. 
But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn house by house into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women and torn between what she can and cannot tell



Author Fiona Barton's The Child is her follow up to 2016's The Widow. Reporter Kate Waters, who readers met in The Widow, returns in a story that is set against the back drop of the mysterious discovery of a skeleton that is unearthed in a part of London that is going through gentrification. Named the "Building Site Baby" by nearly everyone, Kate pushes her employer, Daily Post, to allow her to investigate the story. Who was the baby? How did the baby die? Who was the mother? Who would bury a baby? For the record, this story takes place between March 20, 2012 and May 2012, with a brief closing chapter dated June 1, 2013. 

The chapters in this story are short and revolve around (4) different perspectives: Kate, Angela Irving, Emma Simmonds, and Jude Massingham. Kate takes on an apprentice this time around. His name is Joe, and his mother is a hot shot in the business. The two actually work very well together. In fact, Joe is absolutely useful, and not just a prop
the author uses to tell the story. Kate has been involved in some very sensational stories over the years which has carried her career while others have flamed out. 

This time around, she has to weave together stories and backgrounds from (3) very different women in order to solve who the Building Site Baby was. The first character who Kate meets is Angela Irving. 28 years ago, Angela's newborn baby disappeared without a trace. Even thought she now has two other children, she keeps celebrating her missing daughters birthday. Angela has never once given up hope of seeing her again. The discovery of a baby in London causes Angela to believe that her Alice has finally been found. Angela is character who I respected a whole lot. Accused of her own babies disappearance, she never once gave up hope of finding Alice. 

The next character Kate meets is Emma Simmonds nee 
Massingham. Emma is a character who has a heavy cloud hanging over her head. She has been hiding a secret for a very long time. Nobody knows. Not her husband, not her best friend, not even her mother. After hearing about a baby being discovered in the neighborhood where she once lived, she goes into a panic. She starts counting the days until she must make a choice that could change everything. Emma is tough to handle at times because of her depression, her anxiety issues, and her past that is slowly revealed.

Readers know she has a secret. We know that the secret must be something really important for her to suddenly feel as though the world is closing in on her. What, though, is her secret? I actually felt for Emma after learning about her past. It is a shock that this sort if thing is kept in the dark, and not brought out into the light. Which brings us to Jude. Kate's encounter with Jude is barely tolerable. Jude is the wild card in this story. I will say this without fear of spoiling what happened in the story....I hated Jude.

I hated that she blamed Emma for all of her troubles with certain men, and ignored Emma when her mood and temperament seemed to change overnight. I hated Jude told her own daughter to get out of the house because she was in love with a man, and her own child was a pain in the ass. I have no respect for parents kick their kids out into the streets. When all is said and done, Jude's actions were irredeemable and reprehensible. The secrets that were exposed are really painful to read about, but necessary in understanding why certain choices were made. 

This story is not fast paced by any means. It slowly burns chapter by chapter, character by character, & step by step as Kate works with others in trying to get to the bottom of who the baby really is, and why it was dumped where it was found. The question will always be asked in these sorts of stories: Will Kate's actions bring answers to the families involved, or cause further heart break, pain, and suffering? After all, not all reporters are as understanding as Kate was in putting the pieces together and working with the police to solve the mystery. I will say this in closing. The ending was bloody brilliant. I loved how this story is wrapped up, and the characters who are involved in doing so.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday #Review - The Dragon's Playlist by Laura Bickle (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Standalone
Format: Kindle, 219 pages
Release Date: June 01, 2017
Publisher: Pronoun
Source: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy > Dragons

From the author of THE HALLOWED ONES and NINE OF STARS comes a new novel blending the magical and the real…
“This is war,” the dragon said. And she believed him.
Di fled rural West Virginia to study music and pursue a bright future as a violinist. But when a mining accident nearly kills her father, she is summoned back home to support her family. Old ghosts and an old flame emerge from the past. When Di gets a job as a bookkeeper at the same mine where her father worked, she is drawn into a conflict pitting neighbor against neighbor as the mine plans an expansion to an untouched mountain.
If the mining company’s operation goes forward, there will be more at stake than livelihoods or the pollution of the land: Di has discovered a dragon lives deep within Sawtooth Mountain, and he is not happy with this encroachment upon his lair. When catastrophe strikes, Di must choose between her family’s best interests and protecting the dragon – the last surviving bit of magic in Di’s shrinking world.
In every fight, sides are chosen. And there can be no yearning for what has been left behind. 



Author Laura Bickle, best known for her Hallowed Ones, and Dark Alchemy series, returns with The Dragon's Playlist. The story is a contemporary themed novel with a rather unusual dragon who just wants to be left alone. Diamond (Di) Hoffman was away at college when her father was caught in a mine disaster. Her father, like a majority of those in her home town in West Virginia, relies heavily on the coal industry for steady jobs. 

While her father is recovering from his injuries, Di finds that she may have to stay around her hometown a bit longer than she thought. This means putting her own career as a violin soloist on the back burner. Music is very much a part of Di's life. She learned it from her grandfather and she had high hopes that her musical career would take her places she's never been or seen before. There is a release whenever Di plays her music. A release that she can't get anywhere else.

Di's music calls a Dragon named Afakos who is fascinated by her music. Afakos has made his home in the mountain and just wants to be left alone with his treasure trove of shiny things. Di starts her own investigation after taking a job with the company that her father worked for. This also means reconnecting with Jason Carroll, her ex-boyfriend whom she walked away from. The same Jason who rushed & saved her father's life.

There was something unusual about the accident. Something strange happened. Even though her father doesn't remember everything that happened, he does remember that much. It is at this point where Di finds herself conflicted. Does she save the Dragon she just met, or does she save the workers like Jason who have followed in their families footsteps in working for the mine because there was nothing else available?

Bickle does a good job in a rather short story of weighing both sides of the argument for and against coal. After Di connects with a political action protester named Will, she starts to question the reason for top leveling of mountains in order to get to the coal easier. Does this affect the drinking water in the area? Will they really reclaim the land once they are done with it, or will they move on to the next mountain, and the next one after that? Where will Afakos go if his home is destroyed? 

The Dragon's Playlist will have readers debating on the issue of coal mines, and whether or not we really need them. I won't publicly state my opinion for fear that I will once again be attacked that by those who love to scream and shout instead of having calm and peaceful discussions. There is room to move closer on both sides of the issues. It probably won't happen in my lifetime.