Saturday, July 23, 2016

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 25

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!
Yes, I did post 8 reviews this week to two blogs! 
Yes, I am blessed to have such a great friend in Braine from Talk Supe!
Yes, I am two weeks ahead and am hoping to stay that way!
Yes, I am fulfilling my promise to myself to read whatever I feel like it and not get up in the mad rush to read all the books that publishers have sent me over the past 7 months!
But, at the same time, I am doing a massive NetGalley clean-up which means going back to 2015 and finishing off any that I've read good things about.

Have a great weekend! 

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn (Science Fiction)

Tuesday - Red Queen by Christina Henry (Horror, Retelling)

Wednesday - The Copper Promise by Jen Williams (Epic Fantasy)

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (YA, Post Apocalyptic) - Talk Supe Blog

Thursday - Twisted by Hannah Jayne (YA, Mystery)

Friday - The Last Star by Rick Yancey (YA, Science Fiction)

Saturday - Sacrifices by Jamie Schultz (Urban Fantasy)

Scheduled for Next Week: 

Monday Blog Tour - Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter (Urban Fantasy)

Tuesday - The Blood City by Megan Morgan (Urban Fantasy)

Wednesday - Red Right Hand by Levi Black (Urban Fantasy, Horror)

Thursday - Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson (Urban Fantasy)

Friday - Death of an Assassin by Ian Hiatt (Urban Fantasy)

Saturday - The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (YA, Mystery)

*Received from Edelweiss, & NetGalley*

*Thanks Harper Teen, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Katherine Tegan Books, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Penguin Group Viking! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

#Saturday Review - Sacrifices by Jamie Schultz (Urban Fantasy) @JamieDSchultz @AceRocBooks

Series: Arcane Underworld # 3
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: ROC
Source: Publisher 
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Things get a little demonic in the latest Arcane Underwold novel from the author of Splintered.  Thanks to their recent involvement with a magus crimelord and his demonic partner in mayhem, occult thieves Anna Ruiz and Karyn Ames are both stuck sharing head space with a demon. But while Karyn’s possession has had the unexpected benefit of focusing her visions of the future, Anna’s demon is spurring on her darkest urges, and it’s only a matter of time before she acts on them—and hurts someone in the process.   To save their skins, the two need to find a mysterious relic. But with their search taking them into some of the darkest places in the arcane underworld, Anna and Karyn will have to ally themselves with a group no self-respecting thief would be caught dead with—the Federal Bureau of Investigation...

Sacrifices is the third and apparent final installment in author Jamie Schultz's Arcane Underground series. Anna Ruiz and Karyn Ames have been friends for the 10 years. They have a reputation at being very good at stealing dubious occult items from their rightful owners. Two months ago, things changed when they met notorious crime boss & millionaire Enoch Sobell. Since that meeting, he has given them more and more dangerous jobs in order to help Karyn out with her hallucinations. 

Sobell forced Anna to take on Genevieve Lyle, a talented practitioner in the occult arts and a sort of spy among the group who was last seen leaving with Sobell & Belial. The fourth member of the group is former soldier DeShawn "Nails" Owens. After Anna took over the leadership of the group in Splintered, it led to her and Karyn being betrayed and possessed by separate demons. As Sacrifices opens, Karyn's demon is actually helping her, while Anna's is making her more and more angry, feeling destructive, and wanting to kill someone.  

This leads Anna, Karyn, and Nails to search for a relic that Karyn's prophecy has foretold that can save them from their demons. Sobell is also after it since it can save him from hell. This leads to an unlikely agreement with the FBI's non-standard Investigations Branch & Special Agent Elliot. This also leads to Anna returning to the neighborhood where she grew up. A neighborhood ripe with strife between several gangs. A neighborhood with a strange priest that seems to possess some unusual beliefs. 

I am happy that Karyn is back after barely being there in Splintered. As the leader of the group for so long, I am happy to see her able to deal with her precognitive abilities without getting stuck in an alternate reality. I dare say that Anna continues to be the heart and soul of this group. She is the key member of the group and she is the one who kicks some serious ass in this book. I am also glad that she and Genevieve are back together after what I felt was Genevieve's betrayal in the previous book. Don't feel sorry for Nail as the only dude in the group. He is more than what he's worth in gold and what he brings to the table.

On that note, I am saddened to learn that this is the final installment in this series. I do wish that more people had found this series to their liking. This is a rather dark urban fantasy series, but one that I happen to like because I'm not one to shy away from bloodshed and violence. The occult aspect of this series is also different in that when a 
practitioner uses one of the relics, he or she loses a bit of themselves in the process. The more they use, the more they come committed to joining the denizens of hell for eternity. If you want an example of this, think Willow from Buffy fame. The more she used dark magic, the more obsessed with it she became.

FYI - The covers feature the 3 main characters. Karyn, Nails, and Anna. 

#Friday Review - The Last Star by Rick Yancey (Young Adult, Science Fiction)

Series: The 5TH Wave, # 3
Format: Hardcover, 338 pages
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (BYR)
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us. They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.
But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves. 
In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves . . . or saving what makes us human.

The Last Star is the third and final installment in Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave Trilogy. It has been Six weeks since the end of The Infinite Sea. This is yet another installment where Yancey uses a variety of characters to tell his story. This can either keep a reader entertained, or off balance since you must adjust to each characters persona and the way they are dealing with the events at hand. You also MUST read the previous two installments in order to see where Yancey has chosen to go with this final installment.

We, as readers, now know who the Others are. We know that they've come to Earth to rid the planet of human beings who they believe are destroying mother Earth. They have used several different waves in order to get closer to their goal. The power has been forever cut off thanks to an EMP charge. The second wave, Tsunami, destroyed coastal cities across the planet. The third wave killed billions with a plague, then came the fourth wave where sleeper agents known as Silencer's awakened quickly killing any human they could find. 

The Fifth Wave is supposed to be the worst since the Others are using kids taken away from their families and trained as soldiers like Cassie's 6-year old brother Sam. If you really want to get a good look at what war does to children, please focus on Sam's story. He's no longer a baby who needs his teddy bear. He's a soldier who can build bombs. Unless Cassie and her rag tag team of misfits are able to find a way to stop them, then say good-bye to the human race. 

Ringer has perhaps gone through the most drastic change of any character, while Cass is the character that gets the most questions about her decisions, including her scenes with Evan. Ringer was forced by Vosch to undergo the 12th system which has left her barely human. Enhanced with alien technology, Vosch gives her one mission: bring back Evan Walker who he believes has gone off the reservation in consorting with humans. 

"She was the mayfly, here for a day, then gone. She was the last star, burning bright in a sea of limitless black."

Meanwhile, Cass and her rag tag crew have been holed up in Grace's former safe house. They have plenty to eat, but they haven't yet worked out how they are going to survive the days ahead. Especially after learning they have only FOUR days remaining until the mother ship unloads its cargo on the cities around the world. When Ringer gives Cassie a way to get into Vosch's secretive base, she jumps at it knowing that this is the only chance to end the Other's plans.

I won't even pretend that this was the best book of the trilogy. Even though there were pages and pages of violence and non-stop action including some really dark situations, it wasn't at all like The 5th Wave. I am disappointed with the author's choice regarding Cass, and at this point, I am betting you all know exactly what I am referring to. I will say that like me, I am betting a whole lot of people will also question Cass, and the series ending. I am betting you are feeling a bit of heartbreak and perhaps, maybe, that Yancey's choice will eventually make a whole lot of sense once enough time has passed. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

#Thursday Review - Twisted by Hannah Jayne (Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller) @Hannah_Jayne1 @SourcebooksFire

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 304 pages
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller

When her father is accused of being a serial killer, Bex becomes the ultimate bait in this game of cat and mouse.
Bex is ready to start a new life in foster care. There, she won't be known as a serial killer's daughter. Though her father was never tried for the murders attributed to "The Wife Collector," he disappeared after questioning. And Bex struggles with the guilt that she provided the circumstantial evidence that convicted him in the public's perception—and drove him to abandon her.
But when a body turns up in her new hometown, all signs point to the Wife Collector. Bex's old life isn't ready to let her go. The police want to use Bex to lure in her father. But is she baiting a serial killer or endangering an innocent man?

Twisted, by author Hannah Jayne, follows the story of 17-year old Bex Andrews. Ten years ago, 7-year old Beth Anne Reimer pointed out her own father as being the serial killer known as the wife collector. Now, ten years later, Bex finds herself with new foster parents Denise and Michael Pierson, living in a new place called Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, and hoping for a new start where nobody knows about her father, or her connection to him.

Doesn't take long for the strangeness to begin. First, there are the missed phone calls. Then she receives a postcard with the message "Daddy's home". Bex first foray with possible new friends, ends in shock when the body of a local high student is found with the same MO as her father's victims. To top it off, Bex receives a present from an unknown person, and a Detective who worked the original wife collector case, shows up on Bex's doorstep asking for help in luring her father out into the open.  

Twisted is an intense and creepy book at times. The things that Bex has to deal with are just mind blowing. As the daughter of the "wife collector," Bex hasn't exactly had the most appealing life for anyone. She was called the Devil's daughter, found herself being pulled out of school by her grandmother who later died, was briefly put into a temporary care situation before being placed with the Pierson's after having her name changedShe's never really had any friends, or experienced the things a teenager is supposed to like boyfriends, best friends, going out to movies, etc. 

So yes, I liked Bex. I felt for Bex. I wanted to smack Bex at certain times, but if you were in her shoes, I dare say that I would be smacking you for making the same choices. I will also say that I adore the Piersons. Ok, so maybe they were a little over the top in their desire to keep Bex, and make sure she is happy. But, isn't that what real parents are supposed to do? Parents are supposed to be there for their kids, and support and love them, and above all, to ensure they are safe at all times.

Twisted is a page turner which means you don't need to worry about staying up all night to see if Jayne has thrown you for a loop, or pulled a fast one on you. There is a bit of romance in this book, but it isn't smothering. One of the strange things about this book is that Bex actually makes friends with cheerleaders. In other books, this would have raised all sorts of silly comments from the heroine about how flighty cheerleaders are. I do believe the ending was rather abrupt, but I don't think there was anything else the author needed to discuss. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#Wednesday Review - The Copper Promise by Jen Williams (Epic Fantasy) @sennydreadful @angryrobotbooks

Series: The Copper Cat, # 1
Format: E-Galley, 448 pages
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Angry Robot
Source: Publisher
Genre: Epic Fantasy

There are some tall stories about the caverns beneath the Citadel - about magic and mages and monsters and gods. Wydrin of Crosshaven has heard them all, but she's spent long enough trawling caverns and taverns with her companion Sir Sebastian to learn that there's no money to be made in chasing rumors.

But then a crippled nobleman with a dead man's name offers them a job: exploring the Citadel's darkest depths. It sounds like just another quest with gold and adventure ...if they're lucky, they might even have a tale of their own to tell once it's over.

These reckless adventurers will soon learn that sometimes there is truth in rumor. Sometimes a story can save your life.

The Copper Promise is the first installment in author Jen Williams Epic Fantasy trilogy called The Copper Cat. The first installment is actually a collection of FOUR previously published novellas which have been put together to become The Copper Promise. Those novellas are Ghosts of The Citadel, Children of the Fog, Prince of Wounds, and Upon the Ashen Blade. Williams world is called Ede. It is a place where mages and gods once fought for supremacy and the Gods were the apparent losers. But, to be fair, Mages haven't had the luxury of enjoying their brief moment in the spotlight either. 

The story focuses on three main characters; Lord Aaron Frith, Wydrin of Crosshaven, and Sebastian Carverson. In the prologue of this story, Aaron finds himself being brutally tortured by invaders who killed his father, and his brothers. This leads to him being rather impulsive, abrupt, angry, and desiring power and revenge against those who couldn't break him. Aaron hires sell-swords Wydrin and Sebastian to lead him deep below the Citadel where there is supposedly massive unclaimed treasures to be had. But, but doesn't tell them the real reason why he needs to be there. What they find instead is betrayal, an awakening of a major god (a Dragon called Y'Ruen), and her daughters who are as blood thirsty as they come. In a way, one could say that Aaron's ego got the best of him and unleashed hell on earth which can only be stopped by three unlikely allies.

Wydrin is a sell-sword (mercenary) known as The Copper Cat of Crosshaven. Copper because she's a redhead who carries two daggers she calls Frostling and Ashes, and isn't afraid to insight violence or cheat to get ahead. Wydrin also has an interesting family. Her mother and brother are both pirates, which goes a very long way in explaining her choice of careers. I absolutely adore Wydrin. I love her snark, her attitude, and her partnership with Sebastian. Sebastian is a disgraced former Ynnsmouth Knight who fell in love with a fellow Knight and was kicked out. Despite everything he has been put through, and his relationship with Wydrin, he still tries to stay true to his God Isu, and his Knight training. He is more serious than Wydrin

The Copper Promise is a story that is as intense as it is dark. Y'Ruen is a nasty piece of work for a dragon. She's not cuddly. She doesn't like anyone riding her, and she isn't worried about annihilating entire villages with fire while eating a few morsels (humans) on her way to destroying the world. Her daughters are actually a delight, if you can imagine that for one second. They are still dangerous, and can kill at the drop of a hat, but they also have a connection to Sebastian which makes them want more. There are more than a few of the daughters who actually come up with names, instead of numbers.

I must say that I am happy that this book found an editor to point out where narratives and characters have changed. I couldn't imagine getting through this book had there not been notes in places telling you what happened in past books, and where the breaks should be. Cuts down on a whole lot of confusion. This is one of those books that is filled with things I truly love. Mages, Pirates, Dragons, Knights, treasure, and griffins that take two of our characters on a roundabout chase throughout several locations! 

Next installment: The Iron Ghost - Release date in US - Currently unknown

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

#Tuesday 07/19 Review - Red Queen by Christina Henry (Horror, Retellings)

Series: The Chronicles of Alice, # 2
Format: E-Galley, 304 pages
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: ACE
Source: Publisher
Genre: Horror, Retellings

The author of Alice takes readers back down the rabbit hole to a dark, twisted, and fascinating world based on the works of Lewis Carroll...  The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. A place where Alice could finally rest, no longer the plaything of the Rabbit, the pawn of Cheshire, or the prey of the Jabberwocky. But the verdant fields are nothing but ash—and hope is nowhere to be found.   Still, Alice and Hatcher are on a mission to find his daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King.   The pieces are set and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But, to win, she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful—the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen...

Red Queen, by author Christina Henry, is the second installment in The Chronicle's of Alice series. The story picks up shortly after Alice and Hatcher left the City behind. The pair has set out to search for Hatcher's long lost daughter Jenny who was supposedly taken to the East. Red Queen is not Alice in any way shape or form. There is less violence, more of Alice looking into who she has become since escaping the Hospital where her parents left her to rot. She's a magician who has never been taught her trade because being a magician is a death sentence. She has to figure out what she is capable of while also dealing with the fact that sometimes good deeds end up badly. 

Alice has to go solo for a large chunk of the story after the White Queen lures Hatcher away. She ends up standing in for a village's children, facing a Black King who resides in the forest while luring women to their deaths, befriending a kindly Giant named Pen, and ends up learning more about her self, and her inner strengths, than we ever saw in Alice. While I loved the first book, I believe we get a better idea of Alice and who she has become since meeting Hatcher and Cheshire. One could ask themselves about the title of the book and whether or not it really pertains to this story. In fact, Henry and Publisher could have named the book White Queen and it would have made perfect sense to me. 

While there is a particular kick, as it were that involves the Red Queen, and her powers to thwart the evil White Queen, this story is about Alice's growth as an adult, as a magician, and one who is not scared to get her hands dirty or bloody in order to save children, and defeat villains. She's accepted that Hatcher and she are two of a kind. I loved that while Cheshire is a bit part in this book, he still hovers over the series. He is always in Alice's mind whenever she has to make a choice. He is in the beginning of the book telling Alice's story. And, he is at the end of the story when Alice must figure out which way her path leads to next.

I am hesitant to talk about whether or not this is the final installment. I have seen others claim this is only a Duology and that is fine. The ending leaves a path to another journey, but it also leads to a happy ending sort of fairy tale that one has to expect from fairy tale retellings. Will Alice and Hatcher have one more adventure before they settle down for good? One can only hope.

Monday, July 18, 2016

#Monday 07/18 Review - Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn (Science Fiction, Fantasy)

Series: Heroine Complex, # 1
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: DAW
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.
Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.
But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

Heroine Complex is the first installment by author Sarah Kuhn Heroine Complex trilogy. Meet 26-year old Evie Tanka, assistant to San Francisco's favorite super-heroine and daughter Aveda Jupiter. Evie is Aveda's personal assistant, personal groomer, shopper, babysitter, and confidant to her childhood best friend who is more of a diva than any Kardashian. But, Evie is more than just an do all assistant. She's also responsible for her younger sister Bea who is 16 going on 36. 

Evie has a secret all of her own that only a few people know about. Kuhn's alternative reality San Francisco is a place where Eight years ago, a large portal opened from the Otherworld and gave random humans like Aveda Jupiter & Magnificent Mercedes superpowers. Aveda saw it as a sign that she needs to be a hero. But, Evie, also one of those random humans who was given a brilliant ability, has tried to hide her powers away. Evie's plans of hiding behind Aveda, and going through life unnoticed gets waylaid when Aveda is hurt is a demon invasion (demons turning into pastries). Aveda suggest that Evie take her place, temporarily, while her injury heals.

Becoming Aveda should be Easy Peasy, right? After all, who knows Aveda better than Evie? Plus, she has a group of friends like Lucy Valdez to help her train, Nate Jones who is a demon expert, and Scott, her one time ex, who has the ability to heal. Evie has no choice but to use her abilities hen Aveda statues come to life and start causing problems. From then on out, Aveda aka Evie's reputation soars sky high. People love the fact that their idol now has the ability to create balls of fire. Evie would do anything NOT to have this power. 

So, let's get to the rest of it. There is plenty of snark to go around. There is an obnoxious blogger who follows Aveda/Evie around like a shark seeing blood in the water. She has a tendency of NOT liking Evie, at all, and comes up with the most annoying name ever to describe her. There is humorous banter between Evie and Nate, and a bit of romance as well. There is a dangerous villain, and plenty of demons to go around. But, there is perhaps a bit too much cattiness between so called friends. But, in the end, I actually liked the way that Kuhn wraps things up. I like this cast. It's pretty diverse with a Chinese and Half-Japanese main characters. 

I do not believe that this book was intended for those in the Young Adult range. I understand that there might be some misconception due to the comic book look of the cover, but trust me folks, this is much more of a adult subject manner, than young adult.