Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Gabriel by Nikki Kelly #YALit #Paranormal @Styclar @FeiwelFriends

Series: The Styclar Saga # 2
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Library 
Genre: YA, Paranormal

The handsome Angel from Lailah gets center stage in this continuation of Wattpad sensation Nikki Kelly’s romantic and action-packed series about mortals, vampires, and angels.
Gabriel is an Angel Descendant. He's also an ally to a generation of vampires who want to break away from the demon who controls them. His faith in the power of good over evil wavers, however, when he discovers that Lailah, the woman he considers his only true love, may be both angel and demon. Is their love enough to overcome the dark forces who are ready to go to war with Gabriel, the vampire Jonah, and the angel and vampire forces? And can Gabriel compete with Jonah, who is also in love with Lailah?
Once again, Nikki Kelly looks deeply into the heart and soul of good and evil to create a romantic, action-packed reading adventure.

Gabriel is the second installment in author Nikki Kelly's The Styclar Saga. As one would imagine, it took me awhile to get back into this series since it has been a year and a half since I read Lailah. Lots of books have come and gone during that wait. I had to remind myself how the first installment, Lailah, ended, and what one of my major hurdles was in loving the first book. Had to remind myself that Lailah is a character who isn't who she seems. She is much, much more. She doesn't age like others. She doesn't permanently die like others. And, she has a tendency of losing her memories. 

As with the previous installment, the author starts off the story with a prologue that introduces a new group of characters, plus one who has her own story to tell. This new group is given a new mission thanks to this mysterious woman. They must find Lailah and save her from herself before it is too late. Meanwhile, Lailah has been "resurrected" and has inherited her immortal lineage. She is both light and dark now, which means that the author once again tests the boundaries of what makes a person good or evil, or whether a person can actually be good and evil at the same time. 

Since Lailah is both Angel & Vampire, it is something she struggles with and puts a strain on her relationship with Gabriel who doesn't even want to broach the subject of her vampire aka dark side. They are soul mates. That particular side doesn't need to be part of her if she just ignores what her body needs. Lailah is both good and evil just by being half-vampire, and half-angel. The other issue she has is remembering who Jonah is. She remembers clearly Gabriel and her past with him, but the dark, handsome, stoic vampire is just out of reach of her memories. 

Even though the books title is Gabriel, the narrative is still Lailah's to tell. I would have liked to see chapters dedicated to Gabriel's narrative, especially since he has a bunch of issues of his own, and makes a drastic call that I have now predicted how the series will end. Jonah, on the other hand, is in a world of hurt. How can the girl he loves not remember him? How can she focus solely on the light side of her being, and ignore the part that makes her dangerous and a weapon in the war between Vampires and Angels? But, Jonah isn't innocent either. He does some things that I would not agree with, but that is who he really is after all. 

Unfortunately, this story ends on a highfalutin cliff hanger which will lead directly into the final installment in the series obviously named Jonah. Since the publisher was nice enough to approve me via NetGalley, I shall be reading the sequel shortly! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

#Monday Review - The Blockade by Jean Johnson #Science Fiction @AceRocBooks

Series: First Salik War # 3
Format: E-Galley, 416 pages
Release Date: November 29th 2016
Publisher: ACE
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Science Fiction

The First Salik War is underway, and the Alliance is losing—their newest allies must find a way to win, or everyone will be slaughtered.  Though committed to helping their V’Dan cousins, the Terrans resent how their allies treat them. The V’Dan in turn feel the Terrans are too unseasoned to act independently. And the other nations fear that ending the Salik War means starting a Human Civil War.   Even as Imperial Prince Li’eth and Ambassador Jackie MacKenzie struggle to get their peoples to cooperate, they still face an ethical dilemma: How do you stop a ruthless, advanced nation from attacking again and again without slaughtering them in turn?

The Blockade is the third and final installment in author Jean Johnson's First Salik War trilogy. If you are new to the series, let me summarize where we stand. The first thing you need to know is that this series takes place 200 years before the authors Theirs Not To Reason Why series. If you've read that series, you can immediately jump into this series since it's the beginning of how things will eventually shape up in Theirs No to Reason Why

Jacaranda (Jackie) MacKenzie is one of two main characters along with Li'Eth. Jackie is a very powerful psychic who served with honesty, and integrity over her military and political career. In Terrans, Jackie was called back to military service by the United Planets because precogs saw her meeting new races of aliens. She was given bumps in rank, and took up the mantle of Ambassador of the Terran United Planets. As with Star Trek, United Planets takes seriously their role in First Contact with new aliens. Which leads to Jackie and her crew meeting the vile Salik who love to eat people alive, and a human race called the V'Dan lead by Crown Prince Li'eth Ma'an-uq'en who they rescue and take back to earth. 

In book # 2, The V'Dan, huge issues flared up between the humans and the V'Dan over the fact that humans have given up completely identity politics to identity a person. The V'Dan believe humans are children because they don't have the same markings, which set Jackie off on repairing damage that could have led to catastrophe. As the end of the book, the hated Salik attacked the V'Dan home world, and casualties
rose quickly. Jackie and her Gestalt partner Li'eth saved the day. (Gestalt means rare quantum entanglement of psychic minds.) But, that doesn't stop his sister Princess Vi'alla from being ungrateful and churlish to the point where Jackie makes a powerful decision to shut down the Embassy and have no further contact with the V'Dan or Alliance. As if that weren't bad enough, Li'Eth finds himself sent away from Jackie which is not a good thing.

The Blockade picks up right where The V'Dan left off. The story is filled with politics, and a plethora of details that perhaps could have been cut back a bit. It is a book that weaves back and forth between Jackie and Li'Eth as they both try to cobble up an alliance with, yes, the Alliance of different alien species in order to fight off the Salik. Is there action? Is there adventure? Is there romance? Yes to all three. Does the author explain how she gets from this series to the Theirs No to Reason Why? AbsolutelyI have to say that I respect the V'Dan Empress, aka Li'Eth's mother. She sees a good thing by helping the Motherworld humans, and in return, see's a solid investment in having humans colonize various planets and bringing more commerce to their world.

She also slowly understands how important the Gestalt link between Jackie and her son really is, and that if they are separated, they could both die. She is really the third most important character in this book next to Jackie & Li'Eth when all is said and done. This story is filled with secondary characters that either play important roles, or are just there to make the story more militaristic in nature. After all, you can't fight a war without generals, admirals, soldiers, sailors, and marines on the front lines. I loved how strong Jackie was throughout this entire series, and I loved her decision at the end of the book. I dare say that her choice took a whole lot of courage. 

Would I read Theirs No to Reason Why after reading this trilogy? Yes I would and the reason is simple. The Alliance plus Earth made a huge choice at the end of this book in regards to the Salik. I would like to know what happens after 200 years of a Blockade, and the characters that are expected to pick up the pieces left a very long time ago by Jackie, Li'Eth, and their allies.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed & Bagged # 47

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!

Quote of the Week:
"You know what they say. Every dog has a few fleas." 

A fairly interesting week for reading, and life itself. I'm actually 2 weeks ahead on reading, but very behind on reviewing. Hope you find something you like!

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Steele City Blues by Karen Greco (UF, Romance)

Tuesday - Sixteen by Jen Estes (YA, SyFy)

Wednesday - Oracle by Kelly Meding (SyFy)

Friday - Magonia by Maria Dahvana (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes (Cozy Mystery)

*Received from Library, Publishers, NetGalley*


Friday, January 20, 2017

#Saturday Review - A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes #Cozy #Mystery @tonyakappes11 @HarperCollins

Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries # 5
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: December 27th 2016
Publisher: Witness
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Cozy, Mystery

Emma Lee Raines sees dead people
Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear, and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl—trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.
There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost—solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over.
But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates on her own, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.

A Ghostly Reunion is the Fifth installment in author Tonya Kappes' Ghostly Southern Mysteries. Protagonist Emma Lee Raines is an Betweener. She sees, talks to, and hears dead people who have been murdered. Outside of her job at Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, which she now runs solo after her sister Charlotte left for greener pastures, it is her job to solve the mystery of what happened to them so that they can move on to the next phase of existence. 

But, that doesn't compare to having her 10th High School Reunion in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky which she has organized. Especially when her nemesis Jade Lee Peel comes to town and upsets the balance by getting herself killed in Grandmother Zula Fae Raines' Inn. Jade is the bad girl who did all she could do to make Emma Lee's life miserable. From all outwards appearances, nothing has changed. Jade is either very insecure about her popularity, or she is really that awful. There might be those who think that Jade needs a bit of comeuppance. 

But, who would have thought that it would be Emma Lee who has to work with Jade to find out who cancelled her contract? As Emma Lee and Jade work together, as Emma Lee goes through a very long list of possible suspects, including almost all of her friends, she realizes that things aren't necessarily always as they appear. Especially when it comes to Jade and her obviously high maintenance lifestyle. But, who would hold such a grudge against Jade to want to "fire" her?

I started this series not that long ago, and find myself intrigued by where it is going from here. Especially with the way the author blindsides us at the end of the book. I, unfortunately, have missed out on books 2, & 3, but have just purchased A Ghostly Murder a short time ago, and have A Ghostly Mortality in Que to read. I never quite understood the relationship between Emma Lee and her sister Charlotte, and in this book, the relationship kind of over-shadows Emma Lee's investigation. I dare say that I do have to go back to the previous installments so I can get caught up before finishing book # 6. 

Ever since a plastic Santa hit Emma Lee in the head, folks in Sleepy Hollow have called her condition Funeral Trauma which gives Emma plenty of opportunity to act any way she wants.  Let's get to the other reasons I love this series. I love Emma Lee's hometown. It is everything I enjoy about southern small towns. I love Emma's quirky grandmother who is the one of the towns gossip queens. I love her relationship with Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, especially since he knows that she can see things and hear things that he can't. He has never judged her. I love Emma's friends who are wonderfully lovable and fun to follow along with.

#Friday Review - Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley #YA #Fantasy @MARIADAHVANA @HarperCollins

Series: Magonia # 1
Format: Hardcover, 309 pages
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins  
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: YA, Science Fiction

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Magonia is the first installment in author Maria Dahvana Headley's Magonia series. 16-year old Aza Ray Boyce has a rare disease called Azaray Syndrome. Yep, it's actually named after her since it's so rare. Since an early age, Aza has lived under the cloud that she will die one day, and maybe that day will be tomorrow. Her best friend, 16-year old Jason Kerwin, is the only person who hasn't turned his back on her. In fact, Jason is allowed to accompany her to various places where she knows she has to wear masks.

He also knows every possible drill and emergency procedure should Ava go into distress & code. Things become rather strange, when Ava sees something in the sky. Was it a hallucination, or did she really see ships in the sky? One could say that this might be an instance of seeing UFO's. Then the voices begin. Then Jason tells her about a place called Magonia where strange beings actually live on ships in the sky. Seeking shelter in her own bedroom, Ava sees a whole flock of different birds, and they seem to be interested in her.

Stay with me, because that isn't even the weirdest part. The weirdest part is when a bird flies into her mouth, and ends up in her chest which causes Ava to seize. The bird also seems to be talking to her. What? You heard me. This chain of events ends with Ava dying, & waking up on a ship with strange creatures looking at her. What's amazing is that Ava is no longer having issues with breathing, nor is she on death's waiting list. There are other changes as well. 

The sky is a place where there are a whole lot of new things for Ava to discover, including the fact that she has a mother, also Captain of the ship she wakes up on, and that she was taken 16 years ago & dropped off with downers. Ava experiences a new world where flying whales, & pirates, & storm sharks are real, & dangerous. Where humans, aka downers, are the enemy because of their destruction of planet earth's resources. Where a prophecy may indicate that Ava will save Magonia from dying. It is a place where she has to learn to live an entirely different lifestyle. She also has an ethologidion, Dai, who is supposed to help her sing, and who also gives her power. 

While Ava is waking up to a whole new reality, Jason has been suffering. But, after coming face to face with his own brand of craziness, he goes on a path of collecting everything he can about Magonia, and those who live in the sky. Dare I say that I like Jason even if he was a bit on the strange side? Even if he wore an alligator suite to a funeral? Ok, yes. But, he's also the one person in Ava's life that doesn't try to take something for her, or put her into a situation that can have consequences for everyone.

I adore originality. I adore new mythology and diverse characters who aren't human. I really, really do. I would rather read something original, than have someone say this book is based on someone else's idea. I love the basis for this story, and the world building, and the characters, and how Ava struggles with understanding how different she really is from her best friend Jason. This story may be a bit on the strange side, but who cares? Strange is awesome! Again, I say, I love Jason. I love what he does over the course of this book to find Ava again like he promised her. 

I have already received a copy of the sequel to this series called Aerie, and will be reading that book shortly. Thanks to HarperCollins for granting me early access. I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#Thursday Review - Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter #YALit, #Mystery @OfficiallyAlly @Scholastic

Series: Embassy Row # 3
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed . . . or so everyone thought.
Now Grace Blakely knows the truth:
There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution — which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.
There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.
If she wins, she will inherit a throne.
And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.

Take the Key and Lock Her Up is the third and final installment in author Ally Carter's Embassy Row trilogy. 200 years ago, there was a coup and Adrian King Alexander's family was murdered. But, in the chaos, another baby, Amelia, was smuggled out of the castle, and protected by The Society. The Society is a group of women who have seen regimes come and and dictators fall over their one thousand years of existence.

They hid the baby among their own members, while keeping one of the longest held secrets from being exposed which would have put Amelia's line in jeopardy. Amelia grew up, and her timeline survived. But, then Caroline Blakely picked at a wound that should have been left alone. It upset the apple cart that could bring down the Adrian monarchy, and send shock waves across Europe. Something the Society has tried to avoid at all costs to avoid. 

16-year old Grace Blakely picked up where her mother left off, and has discovered things that have put her life in jeopardy. But, curiosity and getting to the truth is in her blood. Because of her actions, Grace, her brother Jamie, and her friend Alexei, who is also wanted for murder, went on the lam. All because Grace & Jamie are descendants of Amelia. Grace later goes on a solo mission to find answers to what her mother discovered, and a meeting with one of her mother's friends who may have the answers Grace needs to live. This also puts Grace in the most dangerous place possible where trusting anyone will get you killed. Adrian Castle.

This novel is pure craziness. Grace has a martyr complex that actually drove me batty at times. She believed that because some of her actions may have had dire consequences, she needs to do something even more dangerous things. She still doesn't consider herself "healed" after her ordeal 3 years ago. Grace does eventually call on her friends Alexei, Rose, Noah, Megan & Dominic for assistance. Especially Rose and Megan who are more clued in to what is happening around Adria. With a 200 year old mystery hanging over her head, and the royal family of Adrian, most notably Princess Ann seeking to control her future, Grace's actions may be considered a bit overly heroic. But, in the end, her ultimate choice is one I can definitely understand and stand behind.   

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#Reviewed by Gizmo - Oracle by Kelly Meding #Science Fiction @KellyMeding

Series: The Project Files # 1
Format: Kindle, 297 pages
Release Date: July 18, 2016
Publisher: Smedge Press
Source: Amazon
Genre: Science Fiction

Dr. Dean Frey is a man of science. His lifelong desire to create a better future for mankind has led him to the prestigious, and highly mysterious, Wilderness Institute of Scientific Research & Technology, as the head of their Robotics Engineering department. Building on the research and designs of others before him, Dean’s own genius culminates in the successful creation of Anthony—the first fully-automated, free-thinking android prototype. And now Wilderness wants to sell Anthony to the military.

Unwilling to allow his achievement to become weaponized, Dean reaches out to a former Wilderness employee with the resources to help him steal Anthony and relocate them both to safety. He’s put into contact with the very secretive Nick and Olivia, who ask for one simple thing in return: trust us, no matter what you see or hear. Blind trust isn’t in Dean’s cautious nature, but he has no other choice.

For telekinetic Olivia, rescuing a fellow Psion from a life of imprisonment and experimentation is one of her favorite things. Being paid is nice, but she’ll do the job for free, if it means giving Wilderness the finger. When Olivia’s reclusive mentor solicits her and her telepathic partner Nick’s help in smuggling a very special Project out of Wilderness, they jump at the chance to infiltrate their former home and do some internal damage to the institute that created them.
With their combined knowledge of the facility, breaking Anthony out of Wilderness should have been easy—but Olivia learned a long time ago to never underestimate her enemies, or the lengths they’ll go to retrieve what’s theirs. And this time, the price for stealing the Project may be more than she’s willing to pay.

Oracle is the first installment in author Kelly Meding's The Project Files duology. The duology features an on-the-run scientist, a telepath/telekinetic duo who fights the good fight against a major power corporation, an android prototype, 
and enough action, adventure and humorous banter to entertain any and all readers. 

Olivia Gellar and Nick Patterson each have axes to grind against the Wilderness Institute of Research & Technology. Years ago, they were brutally taken away from their families and brought to Wilderness as projects. After a bit of help escaping, they've become specialists in retrieving Lost Projects. Olivia is able to manipulate metal and magnetic fields, Nic can sense psychic presences, and manipulate thoughts. Olivia is able to use kinetic energy, while Nick uses telepathy.

They are perfect partners because they have mutual experiences, similar losses, and pure hatred for Wilderness. Nick & Olivia's goals are to find others like them, and help them understand that their powers are a gift, not a curse. Their second goal is to permanently stop Wilderness from breeding a whole new generation of kids that they can use for nefarious intentions. Olivia and Nick have avoided being recaptured by Wilderness, Dr. Ian Wallace, and Gary Mitchell, one of their former classmate, for 18 years. 

18 years of a truce that has held as long as each side stays in their own corners, and one side leaves the only person to be allowed to walk away from Wilderness alone. That truce is about to be broken. Dr. Dean Frey works for Wilderness as Head of their Robotics Engineering Department. Dean does not like the direction his project, named Anthony, is heading. (Anthony is a self-aware, fully functioning intelligent robotic humanoid.) But, when you work for Wilderness, you must give your full loyalty and trust to Wilderness no matter what. There is no leaving, or escaping. There is only death for those who try to leave. 

And yet, Frey remarkably does just that. His goal is to find the one man who was allowed to walk away from Wilderness, and ask him for help in retrieving Anthony. That man is Benjamin Younger, the mentor of Nick & Olivia. When Frey shows up on his doorstep, Ben knows that he can't just sit back and ignore what his former employer has been up to. He must make a choice. That choice is to send Frey to meet with Olivia and Nick, and find a way to retrieve the project known as Anthony and keep it from being used as a weapon.

I loved the Dreg City series, and was sad to see it end, but I really liked Oracle. Oracle is a fun story filled with characters you can connect to, action, adventure, and no vampires, werewolves, fae, or any shifters of any kind. It is Nick & Olivia who own this series, but it is characters like Anthony and Jessica who give it a bit more depth. Anthony is such an interesting character, while Jessica is still a wild card who we haven't uncovered her actual worth yet. I also liked Matthias who is an unknown to Wilderness, but a fantastic character who has an ability that will blow you away. Frey is a character who I hope grows into his role as the only human without abilities in this Scooby Doo group. 

I do know that the second part of this duology, Lazarus, is available on Amazon. Perhaps I shall have to pick it up and see how Meding wraps up her mini-series. There is a whole lot more to look forward to I think.