Tuesday, May 26, 2015

*Book Review* The Devil You Know by Trish Doller (YA Thriller)

Published by: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-book, 256 pages
Genre: Young Adult / Thriller

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions. 

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.



18-year old Arcadia "Cadie" Wells lives in the small town of High Springs, Florida, not far from Gainesville. Cadie hopes to one day go on her own adventure once she has enough money saved up. She's mapped out every place she wants to go, and things she wants to see. What's keeping Cadie held back, is that ever since her mother died 3 years ago, she's had to work in her father's struggling grocery store, while taking care of her 4 year old brother Danny, and generally doing all the work that needs to be done around the house while her father is missing in action.

After making a snap decision, Cadie joins her former friends and soccer teammates for a night of partying and skinny dipping at the lake. Cadie later agrees to go on a road trip with two strangers, cousins Noah and Matt who she just met and felt connected to. Cadie is a girl you can connect with in the beginning. You understand that she's yearning for something new and different and a change from the mundane of work, work, and more work, while her father is out doing heaven knows what. 

During the trip, Cadie realizes that something isn't quite as right as they appear. Someone isn't who they say they are, and in trusting the cousins with her safety, she's put her future in their hands as well. But, Cadie continues to follow along as if nothing is wrong, while making some really stupid and head shaking mistakes. I do realize that making stupid choices is what being a human being is all about. We live and learn with the choices we make every single day of our lives. For Cadie, her choices are nearly costly because of her desire for adventure and excitement and perhaps a bit of romance as well. 

The Devil You Know is the first novel I have read by Trish Doller. Doller's story is fast paced, and wraps up fairly quickly. You can feel the undercurrent that something creepy and disturbing is happening right under the surface of the story. You can pretty much guess who the bad guy is, even though each has made some pretty dumb mistakes. I'm always intrigued by stories that take place in Florida, but this one takes a bit of letting your imagination flow free for it to make sense. Getting from High Springs to the Everglades isn't as easy or fast as it is made by Doller. But, then again, this is fantasy, so let your imagination run free.   

**I received this book for free from (Bloomsbury USA Children's) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**



Monday, May 25, 2015

*Book Review* Sweet by Emmy Laybourne (YA Contemporary, Thriller)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Thriller

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyinglywrong!

The luxurious celebrity cruise launching the trendy new diet sweetener Solu should be the vacation of a lifetime. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She's already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli—the hottest guy ever!—and she's too sick to even try the sweetener. And that's before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. His publicists have even set up a 'romance' with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when the hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it's Laurel that he's determined to save.



Sweet is told in alternating narratives by Laurel Willard and Tom Forelli. 17-year old Laurel is ready to go on the cruise of a lifetime thanks to her best friend Vivika Hallerton. The cruise is an all expenses paid cruise featuring some wannabe rock-stars, reality TV failures, TV also rans, plus those desperately wanting to lose a bit of weight. Laurel is a bit on the awkward side. She's also a slightly chubby classic guitar enthusiast who may be a bit different from the rest of the passengers. Perhaps it's due to her alternative lifestyle choices in wearing boots with almost everything, and accepting that there's nothing wrong with being a bit curvy. Amen, sister!

The only reason she's even ON this cruise, is to support Vivi's ongoing struggle to lose weight. When she gets sea sick and embarrasses herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli, her dream crush, her cruise becomes something of a bad dream which she can't wake up from. Laurel is even too sick to try the new sweetener Solu which is said to be able to drop 5 percent body weight quickly and safely. Eventually, Laurel starts to feel better and takes advantage of some amazing sights. But, she also notices that the passengers, including Vivi, have all started acting really weird. The same passengers who have been eating Solu like it was the last slice of pizza. Laurel finds help and support from the least likely source; Tom Forelli.

Tom is the former Hollywood sweet heart known as Baby Tom-Tom. He is trying to make a comeback by hosting and interviewing those using Solu. Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. But, what happens when the cruise gets underway is far from anyone's imagination. Tom finds himself ignoring sexy Brazilian reality star named Sabbi Ribiero who his publicists has set him up with, for Laurel, the girl he's determined to save after everything goes to hell, and people start acting like zombies. I have to say that, in the end, I really liked Tom. I liked how he ignored what was right, for what was unexpected in falling for and helping Laurel.

Sweet is written by the same author, Emmy Laybourne, who brought the Monument 14 trilogy to life. Sweet is a twisted mix of comedy, tragedy, and mystery, while exposing the extraordinary lengths that human beings will go through in order to lose a bit of weight. Sweet (Solu) has been compared to Pen-Phen, a drug first introduced in the 1970's because it temporarily reduced weight. This, my friends, is why I refuse to use dietary supplements to lose weight.

Sweet is a book that should be read by everyone, especially those in the media who think that being a bit chubby is wrong. Sweet is a fairly quick paced story, with a nice romance which perhaps moved a bit quick, but then again, the story is only 288 pages. It does have some gruesome scenes which probably should have been highlighted by the author and publisher since it's Young Adult themed. Then again, I've seen worse things on TV. Right The Walking Dead?

**I received this book for free from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**



Saturday, May 23, 2015

*Steampunk Saturday* The Shadow Revolution by Clay & Susan Griffith (Steampunk)

Series: Crown & Key # 1
Publisher: Del Rey
Releases: June 2, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-Book, 320 pages
Genre: Science Fiction/Steampunk

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.
 
As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.
 




Clay & Susan Griffith, best known for their Vampire Empire series, returns with a new trilogy called Crown & Key. Set in Victorian London, The Shadow Revolution is set in entirely different world from Vampire Empire. Vampires don't rule here, and humans aren't being subjugated into obscurity. But, werewolves are thick as thieves and hiding in the shadows waiting to strike. The series lead characters are Simon Archer, Kate Anstruther, and Malcolm MacFarlane.

Simon is a talented scribe, a magician whose spells are written on his body in the form of tattoos. They give him super strength, but also come with a price. He is also somewhat of a rake who spends more time chasing women, than fighting the darkness. That is until he, and his friend/mentor Nick Barter witness the murder of one of Simon's former flings by a werewolf. Simon immediately wants to jump in and kill the werewolf responsible, while Nick wants to take a less riskier approach. 

Malcolm MacFarlane is a deadly Scottish monster hunter who enjoys his work. Perhaps a bit too much at times, but nobody can say that he doesn't get the job done. Kate Anstruther is an alchemist, and a scholar of the occult. Kate is as comfort at social settings, as she is at kicking ass and taking names. Other characters directly involved in the fight against evil are Inventor Penny Carter, and 13-year old werewolf Charlotte who on more than one occasion, risks her own life to help Kate and crew.

After Kate's sister Imogen is targeted by a dark magician, a werewolf, a nefarious doctor, and a demigod, Simon, and Kate come together to save her. Rather quickly, Simon and Kate realize that they can't do it alone, and that's perfect for Scottish monster hunger Malcolm who has been tracking and killing werewolves around London. London has become a very dangerous place to be after dark. Humans are being turned into Homunculus (part human, part monstrosity) and a very powerful werewolf/Valkyrie by the name of Gretta Aldfather, is gathering all the werewolves together in one place. Danger lurks in one of the more horrific places imaginable; Bedlam Hospital.  

I prefer to call this series Science Fiction/Steampunk since Simon's abilities come from using Aether, and Penny creates a steam driven motorcar that she uses in one of the best chase scenes in the book. You don't see this kind of backdrop in Urban Fantasy novels. I will say that I am not surprised at how well the world building came along, or how intriguing and diverse the characters are. Not surprising since the authors created a dystopian/steampunk world where vampires ruled half the planet.

Parts two and three of the Crown & Key trilogy, The Undying Legion (June 30) and The Conquering Dark (July 28), are releasing back to back over the months of June and July. Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey, I already have the next two books and will be eagerly anticipating what happens next to Simon, Kate, and Malcolm. All things considered, there are a few questions I need answered, especially concerning Nick, and where he stands.

**I received this book for free from (Del Rey) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Other Books in Series:
    



Friday, May 22, 2015

~*Weekly Wrap-Up/Stacking My Shelves*~ Memorial Day Weekend 2015

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!

WELCOME BACK!

Nice slow week of books! Got plenty of reading done, and I'm actually AHEAD with my reviews! I'm going to try a new feature this week called Steampunk Saturday. This week I'll be reviewing The Shadow Revolution by Susan & Clay Griffith. Hope you get a chance to read it!

Have a safe Memorial Day Weekend for those in the US!

~Shelley~
The Week in Reviews:

Saturday - Alien Separation - Gini Koch (Science Fiction)
Wednesday - Dragons Are People, Too - Sarah Nichols (YA Fantasy)
Thursday - The Fearless - Emma Pass (YA Dystopian)
Lion Heart - A.C. Gaughen (YA Historical/Retelling) <-Talk Supe Blog

Coming Next Week:

Saturday - The Shadow Revolution by Clay & Susan Griffith (Steampunk)
Sweet by Emmy Laybourne (YA Contemporary)
Hidden Huntress by Danielle L Larson (YA Fantasy)
The Devil You Know by Trish Doller (YA Thriller)
The Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato (Steampunk)

Received via NetGalley or Edelweiss






*Book Review* The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker (YA Fantasy)

Series: The Witch Hunter # 1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-book, 368 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.



The Witch Hunter is set in 16th century England (1558) where Magic has been banned, and those caught using it are burned at the stake. 16 year old Elizabeth Grey is one of the best witch hunters in all of Anglia. She's been trained, along with her best friend Caleb, to hate witches and wizards because they were responsible for unleashing a Plague that killed her parents, leaving her alone at the tender age of Nine.

But, after she is caught with magical herbs, she is quickly accused of treason and witchcraft and told she will burn at the stake by the person who trained her, Lord Blackwell. The only thing that stops this from happening is the appearance of the most wanted Warlock in all of Anglia; Nicholas Perevil. Elizabeth is suddenly surrounded by the criminal element that she is supposed to bring to justice. Yet, not all witches, or wizards are evil, and Elizabeth finds herself helping Nicholas and his group of Reformers find a away to remove a curse placed on Nicholas before his time runs out.

Elizabeth has a difficult journey ahead of her. Who does she belong with now that a whole bunch of secrets have been revealed, and she's been betrayed and abandoned? Reviewers have been scratching their head over her actions. But, let's really break down why I don't believe Elizabeth is all that bad, and that people should give her an opportunity to prove it. Think about following your best friend into being a witch hunter because he is the only family you have left alive, and what he does, you do, no matter how dangerous or crazy.

Older brother, younger sister. Happens all the time. Think about the older fatherly figure who tells you that Magic is bad and that Witches, Wizards, and Necromancers are pure evil and need to be done away with. Then, let's take into consideration that Elizabeth is the only female to pass the rugged trials that Blackwell puts them through in order to become the best witch hunter she can be. So, yes, Elizabeth is pretty damn badass, and nearly indestructible. Sure, she makes mistakes, especially when it comes to Caleb.

Who doesn't make mistakes when they're 16? So, why wouldn't Elizabeth believe everything that she's been told? The fact that the most powerful wizard around, her enemy, saved her life, and not her best friend who left her to die, goes along way of shaking Elizabeth's thought process. Wizards and Witches saving a witch hunters life? Blasphemy! So, yes, Elizabeth is forced to rethink years of ingrained training and pick a side to fight alongside.

She even finds herself becoming friends with a small group of Nicholas's people, especially John, the healer, witch Fifer, wizard George, pirate Peter, and revenant Schuyler. They take her in, and slowly but surely they become her family, and they work with her to find a way to break Nicolas's curse, and THEY don't abandon her when shit hits the fan.   

Per the author's response on Goodreads, "The Witch Hunter is the first of two planned books in this duology. The sequel will come out June 2016, and there are also a few novellas in the works. The first to be released August 2015 (told from John's POV) and the second the author is working on now, a dual POV between Schuyler and Fifer."

**I received this book for free from (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

*Book Review* The Fearless by Emma Pass (YA Dystopian)

Series:  Unknown
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Released: April 14, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-Book, 368 pages
Genre: Young Adult

This fast-paced futuristic thriller tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cass and her fight to protect her younger brother from an unimaginably terrifying enemy.

The Deadliest Enemy feels no fear.

When the Fearless invaded, they injected everyone in their path with the same serum that stripped them of humanity.

Life became a waking nightmare.

Cass has the invasion seared in her memory. Seven years later, she and her brother, Jori, are living on Hope Island in a community of survivors. No one can enter, and no one can leave.

It's the only way to stay safe.

But when Hope Island's security is breeched and Jori is taken by the Fearless, Cass will risk everything to get him back.




Sometime in a not too far away future, scientists were paid by governments from around the world to came up with a drug to combat the effects of PTSD which affects a large group of returning soldiers. It worked really well. Perhaps too well since the soldiers taking the serum lost their ability to fear, or feel any sort of emotions. Soon, however, things went to hell in a hand basket after the bad guys got hold of the serum, and started tweaking it.

By tweaking the serum, they created a whole new breed of living called the Fearless, who tore through country after country without anyone being able to stop them. The Fearless are strong, quick, and can see in the dark. The last country to fall to the Fearless, was England where the story takes place.  

17-year old Cassandra *Cass* Hollencourt is one of a group of people who escaped the Fearless onslaught, but lost her father and later her mother. Now, Cass and her 7 year old brother Jori live on Hope Island which was created for just this situation. Cass and the rest of the survivors, including her best friend Solomon, live by rules such as not allowing anyone to leave the island, and not allowing anyone to come to the island except barterers who bring much needed supplies to Hope. 

But when a mysterious boy arrives (Myo), and the Fearless break in and kidnap her brother Jori, Cass tosses all the rules aside and puts her trust into a boy she barely knows. Cass & Myo must search for Jori before the Fearless injects him with a new serum that will forever alter and change him into a Fearless. But, Myo has his own secrets, and struggles. He too is searching for someone important and won't stop until he finds her. The question is whether or not HIS secret will cause Cass to lose faith in him, or whether she can put aside his lies and trust him to do what's right.

As a main character, Cass is a likable heroine who makes plenty of mistakes but never gives up on her desire to find Jori. By the end of the story, Cass is a very different person from the one at the beginning of the book. Then again, when you are constantly running and hiding and fighting for your life and finding out even more secrets about who created the serum and how it got out, it tends to change the way you look at people, or trust those who claim they are only trying to help, or even the boy who holds his own secrets that may rip their friendship apart. 

The Fearless is a Post-Apocalyptic novel since the story starts in the real world, and then falls apart. The Fearless is told not only from Cass's POV, but from Myo and Sol's as well. This in turn allows Pass to switch to another characters POV at an important time in the story, whereas if she remained just with Cass, readers would have no understanding about what Myo and Sol were thinking. Readers really DO need to understand why Sol and Myo are important not only to the story, but to Cass as well. 

You know there are just some things that irk me like nobody's business, and I need to vent just a bit. Feel free to skip over this part. I won't take it personally. 

1. Not knowing if this is a standalone, a duology, or part of a series. If you're going to add this book to Goodreads, or Amazon or any place else, how about double checking with the author, or publisher to ensure that you get all the facts straight first, including the ISBN? How utterly annoying is it that you can't find anything on possible sequels for The Fearless on Goodreads, Amazon, or the authors web page? Are we supposed to PRESUME that that's the end of the series, or are we are supposed to make up our own ending to the story? 

2. Male characters who treat women like property. Cass's best friend Sol is a bit over-possessive of Cass. When she doesn't return his affection, he slowly but surely turns surly. Let's consider that Cass lost nearly her entire family, while Sol still has his father. Men who have anger issues don't appeal to me at all. I don't care if you are friends with someone. It doesn't give you the right to punch a hole in the wall, or to threaten the girl who has known you for years. Sol, needless to say, was not my favorite character of this story. 

3. PLEASE. STOP. COMPARING. BOOKS. to The Hunger Games, Matched, Divergent, and The Fifth Wave!! It has absolutely no bearing on this book. Did The Hunger Games have zombie like human beings? Nope. The Fifth Wave was about Aliens. Are their aliens in The Fearless? Nope. So, reviewers, and publishers alike, just because you say something compares to another book, doesn't make it reality.

The Fearless was my first travels into Emma Pass's world building and story telling. I can actually see this particular situation happening with all the wars that we have been experiencing for the past 14 years. I also don't trust any government to do what's in the best interest of its citizens. Too many politicians and scientists answer to Big Money, and not the little person.

In the end, while the story was entertaining, and had plenty of action, I can't help but wonder why we're not being told if there is a sequel to the story or not. You can not expect readers not to have issues with the not knowing. Also, the beginning really hooked me, and then let me go for awhile. Then, the ending once again picked up and left a major hole wondering what's going to happen next. Let's hope Pass and the author have plans for a sequel. 

**I received this book for free from (Delacorte Books for Young Readers) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

*Book Review* Dragons Are People, Too by Sarah Nichols (YA Fantasy)

Series: Dragons are People, Two # 1
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Released: April 28, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-Book, 255 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Never judge a dragon by her human cover...

Sixteen-year-old Kitty Lung has everyone convinced she’s a normal teen—not a secret government operative, not the one charged with protecting the president’s son, and certainly not a were-dragon. The only one she trusts with the truth is her best friend—and secret crush—the ├╝ber-hot Bulisani Mathe.

Then a junior operative breaks Rule Number One by changing into his dragon form in public—on Kitty’s watch—and suddenly, the world knows. About dragons. About the Draconic Intelligence Command (DIC) Kitty works for. About Kitty herself.

Now the government is hunting down and incarcerating dragons to stop a public panic, and a new shape-shifting enemy has kidnapped the president’s son. Kitty and Bulisani are the last free dragons, wanted by both their allies and their enemies. If they can’t rescue the president’s son and liberate their fellow dragons before getting caught themselves, dragons might never live free again.



Dragons Are People, Too centers around 16-year old Katherine "Kitty" Lung who works for a secretive government agency called Draconic Intelligence Command (DIC). Think covert spies if you will but with weredragons. Kitty is a Chinese dragon with a purple stripe in her hair who can not only manipulate the earth’s magnetic fields in order to fly, but she can also make herself invisible. She is the daughter of two covert spies, one of which is her boss. She can speak 4 different languages, and has been training since she was 4 years old. While not on missions, Kitty also works for the Secret Service in protecting Jacob, the President's son while he is at school. 

DIC's main rule is to never let anyone know what you are. Thus, the idea of being covert. But, when Kitty's trainee partner Wallace panics and is caught on camera shifting from human to dragon, it sets in motion a path from which Kitty and her partner and love interest Bulisani "Sani" Mathe, an African dragon from Uganda, are forced to hide from the very same people they have supported most of their lives. The CIA rounds up her family and friends as being dangerous to the public welfare, but misses Kitty and Sani after Jacob is kidnapped by a rogue kitsune and unknown persons. 

Kitty is a character that made me scratch my head many times over. Here is a girl who is supposedly a badass operative, but she acts more like a 6 year old. At times, she made me forget that she's supposedly a heroine, and not a sniveling, bratty little kid who wasn't given enough breast milk when she was in her diapers. Kitty is one of the most self-absorbed characters I've read about. She spends a majority of her time lusting after her best friend Sani, while stumbling and bumbling her way into finding a way to save Jacob and her family. I won't say that Kitty is entirely over the top. At times her abilities and training do actually come in handy. Plus, the romance between Sani and Kitty isn't love at first sight, nor is there any triangle involved. 

Apparently, this isn't just a standalone novel. According to the author's response on Goodreads, there will be at least one more book in the unnamed series. Good. I totally hate when authors leave a story hanging like that. There are a whole bunch of unanswered questions, while only (1) storyline was apparently wrapped up. That leaves a whole lot of room for Nicolas to explore in any sequel. Let's hope the sequel is a bit longer! People complain about the lack of diversity in Young Adult novels. Perhaps if they choose to look a bit closer, they will find books like this right under their eyes.

**I received this book for free from (Entangled Teen) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


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