Saturday, June 18, 2016

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 21

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! 

Going Radio Silent Next Week. Yes, it is my FIFTH blogoversary!
WOOT! Yet, I haven't seen my family in THREE years so there you go!

Have a great weekend!


This Weeks Reviews: 

Wednesday - Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan (YA, Fantasy)

  Thursday - Break Me Like a Promise by Tiffany Schmidt (YA, Contemporary)

Friday - Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley (YA, Steampunk)

 Saturday - Reliquary by Sarah Fine (Adult, Fantasy)

Scheduled for Next Week: 

June 21, 2016 - Happy Birthday Gizmo's Reviews!

HAVE A Great Week!

*Received from Publisher, & NetGalley!*

*Finished Copies*

Friday, June 17, 2016

#Saturday Review - Reliquary by Sarah Fine (Adult, Fantasy, Magic)

Series: Reliquary # 1
Format: E-Galley, 280 pages
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: 47North
Source: Publisher
Genre: Adult, Fantasy

Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancĂ©, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.

Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancĂ©’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

Sarah Fine, the author of such books as Sanctum, Scan, Of Metal and Wishes, Marked, and The Impostor Queen, returns with yet another series with the release of Reliquary. Reliquary features Matty Carver as a lab tech and veterinary assistant, who wakes up the day after her engagement party to find her fiance missing and most likely kidnapped. In searching for Benjamin Ward, Matty learns that Ben has been keeping more than his fair share of secrets from her. 

He is not only deep into debt, but is also hooked on magic that causes an addiction not unlike alcohol or cocaine. The fact that her own Grandfather knew that Ben is keeping secrets from her, and attempted to use magic on him, should have been the wake up call that knocked some sense into Mattie's head. But, more about that later. Mattie, known as the Queen of biting off more than she can chew, finds herself entering a world of magic. 

A world that is more dangerous than Mattie can imagine. A world that considers her to be a Reliquary, and a very powerful one at that. A Reliquary by definition is a container for holy objects. In Mattie's case, she is able to contain magics like Sensilo (sensing), Ekstazo (pleasure), Knedas (manipulation) and Strikon (pain).
As Mattie attempts to find out what happened to Ben, and who may have taken him, she encounters the one man who Ben hated more than anyone else; his older brother Asa Ward.

Mattie and Asa end up on a cross country journey from Sheboygan to Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, Las Vegas, and on to Bangkok, Thailand trying to stay one step ahead of Mob Like bosses who collect all sorts of magical relics. Can Mattie stay focused on getting Ben back, or will she fall for the dangerous and sexy Asa who pushes all of her buttons? 

I really hate to discuss the negatives I found, but seriously, I need to get them off my chest. First, let's talk about Ben. Ben, I absolutely, and totally loathe you. I hate you for putting Mattie through her ordeal. I hate that you thought putting your magic addiction ahead of yours and Mattie's future was a good thing. I hate that you actually used manipulation magic on her! I believe you should be down on your hands and knees begging her for her forgiveness every single day of your rotten existence.

Asa, oh Asa how I am confused by you. I loved that you are the dangerous type. I loved how you pushed Mattie, but kept her safe at the same time. I loved how utterly and absolutely heartbreaking your past was. A past that made you disappear into the magical world where you feel at home. I loved how much you and Mattie together made total and absolute sense to me. I am sorry that Mattie's head is set in one direction. I dare hope that you make a spectacular return in Splinter, the sequel to Reliquary

Mattie. Dear Mattie. I adore that you remained true to Ben regardless of all the crap he kept from you, and the ordeal you went through to get him back home. I don't mind that loyalty actually. In fact, I think it's a bit naive, but charming for a person to have. I have to say the scenes between you and Asa were sizzling hot, and dare I say, I prefer Asa to useless Ben? I would love if you can find out more about your abilities from your Grandfather. Do so before you no longer have him around. 

Alas, like others, I choose not to like the ending of this story. I choose to not like the choices that Mattie makes. I choose to hope that Mattie rediscovers a whole new life choice before it's too late.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

#Friday Review - Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley (Young Adult, Steampunk, Fantasy)

Series: Alternative Detective # 1
Format: E-Galley, 336 pages
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher
Recommended By: 
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Steampunk

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, Ang for short, repairs the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm, the ethnically-diverse industrial capital of a land resembling Victorian South Africa. The city was built on the trade of luxorite, a priceless glowing mineral. When the Beacon, a historical icon made of luxorite, is stolen, it makes the headlines. But no one cares about the murder of Ang's new apprentice, Berrit—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician, who offers Ang a job investigating Berrit's death. On top of this, Ang struggles with the responsibility of caring for her sister's newborn child.
As political secrets unfold and racial tensions surrounding the Beacon's theft rise, Ang navigates the constricting traditions of her people, the murderous intentions of her former boss, and the conflicting impulses of a fledgling romance. With no one to help her except a savvy newspaper girl and a kindhearted herder from the savannah, Ang must resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city is plunged into chaos

Steeplejack is the first installment in new to me author A.J. Hartley's Alternative Detective trilogy. 17-year old Anglet "Ang" Sutonga lives in a place called Bar-Selehm. One could say that the setting of the story is an alternative version of South Africa, especially with the most diverse cast that I can truly remember reading about. Ang is one of only a few individuals, and the only female, who works the high places of Bar-Selehm. Her work includes cleaning and repairing everything from chimney's to spirals to towers. 

After discovering her new apprentice Berrit murdered, and the Beacon that shines brightly over the city missing, Ang is pulled into a situation that can have dire consequences for people of all colors. Ang is what's known as a Lani. In other words, she's not white, nor black. The Lani came to the country as laborers, and now they do various jobs like being a steeplejack. Ang takes the burden on her shoulders to discover what really happened to Berrit, and ends up working for the only person who seems to really care; Josiah Willinghouse. 

Ang and Josiah make a deal. Ang will do what she does best; investigate who killed Berrit, and who had the means necessary to steal the Beacon which is made of a rare and valuable material called luxorite. That means Ang gets to dig into places only she would have access to, which puts a target on her back. Ang is such an interesting and fierce character. Ang is a character that you can relate to, except for maybe her family. Ang has her own moral compass, and I can honestly respect a whole lot of her choices.

She struggles to survive each day knowing that she can fall to her death at any time. She belongs to a gang lead by a man who is just vulgar, and pays peanuts to his gang. Her own family, two older sisters, are dysfunctional and horrible towards Ang. I do have one minor issue and that concerns a baby that Ang becomes responsible for. I shall not spoil the rest, nor will I say who it actually belonged to. Was just trying to figure out the point of that particular storyline. After all, Ang puts her life on the line time and time again.

Steeplejack is a story that is deep into racial and political tensions but not overtly to make the reader feel uncomfortable. One wrong move on Ang's part, or not discovering who the actual villains are, will push the country into a war that it cannot win. Hartley does an amazing job of keeping a strong pace, while also making readers confused about who would be responsible for intentionally tearing the country apart. His cast of characters is so diverse, that I challenge would be readers to jump in feet first and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

#Thursday Review - Break Me Like a Promise by Tiffany Schmidt (Young Adult, Contemporary)

Series: Once Upon a Crime Family # 2
Format: E-Galley, 416 pages
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

No one is unbreakable.

All Magnolia Vickers has ever wanted was to follow father’s path as head of the Family Business. But new legislation is poised to destroy the Family’s operations in the black-market organ trade and Maggie’s recent behavior has wrecked the business-savvy reputation she’s worked her whole life to build.

She’s given an ultimatum: shape up or step aside.

Then Maggie messes up: she downloads a virus onto her father’s computer, and must sneak it off-estate for repair. When Alex, a tech whiz, uncovers the type of information on the machine, he offers Maggie a choice: her Family can give him a kidney, or he’ll irreparably scramble the data. Maggie agrees, but has no intention of keeping her promise or ever seeing him again. That night Alex shows up at her Family estate with copies of confidential Family files and a shocking revelation—the kidney is for him.

The Vickers aren’t willing to let Alex out of their sight, so he moves onto their estate and Maggie is assigned to be his keeper. A task she resents and he enjoys making as challenging as possible. But procuring black market organs is becoming increasingly difficult, and as Alex’s health declines, she’s surprised to find herself falling for him.

Like it or not, Maggie must accept that if she wants to save Alex’s life and carve out a place in the new legalized organ business, she’s going to have to fight for both.

Tiffany Schmidt's Break Me Like a Promise is the sequel to Hold Me Like a Breath and the second installment in her Once Upon A Crime Family series. This time around the story revolves around 19-year old Magnolia Grace Vickers, the daughter and heir apparent to her families black market organ business. In this world, there are only THREE main families who control the black market organ business; Vickers (Maggie), Landlow (Penny), and Zhu (Ming). 

For those who haven't read the first novel in the series, the story actually takes place FIVE months after Maggie lost the love of her life, Carter Landlow in a brutal massacre that has left the families in shambles. Schmidt does a fairly decent job of summarizing previous events including bring back Penny and Char back for this installment. Maggie is in a very dark place as the story opens. She can't move forward, and she chooses to hide her pain away instead of talking about it. 

Maggie and Carter were lovers, best friends, roommates, and each other's secret crush for years. So many years, in fact, that nobody took Maggie seriously when she claimed she had a boyfriend who she rushed off to see every chance she got. Now that Carter is gone, and her best friend Penelope Landlow is living with a relative in DC, it is up to Maggie to find a way to recover and recover quickly as the fate and future of her families business rides on an Organ Bill slowly making its way through Congress. 

Maggie is given an ultimatum by her father Holt Vickers. Either Maggie can pick herself off the ground, and by all means take off that dirty and disgusting smelling sweatshirt and take a shower! Or, she will get left behind in the shuffle that is sure to be forthcoming. Maggie's determination ends up putting her in a situation where she has to reach out to the most unlikely source for assistance. Assistance that comes with blackmail terms. With the Organ Bill making its way through Congress, Maggie must make her mind up on what side of the issue she will fall.

Organ donation, legal or illegal, is a serious topic folks and one that needs to be handled carefully. Hundreds of people die each year after being rejected by the FDA for everything from disabilities to making honest mistakes. Too often those who are on the waiting list die before the necessary organ is found. Bottom line. There are too many people waiting for organs that just don't exist. 

If you believe in the organ donor system, YOU SHOULD sign up. Get tested today. The life you may save by doing so is an incredible feeling. While I agree that organ swapping should be illegal, I can understand why people look for an alternate route to surviving. I would never, ever blame someone for trying to live longer than what they've been told. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: The Witches Child # 1
Format: E-Galley, 384 pages
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Fans of Marie Lu, Leigh Bardugo, and Kristin Cashore will be captivated by this stunning first book in a must-have new fantasy trilogy about a spy who can vanish at will and who discovers that monsters, mystery, and magic are also lurking—just out of sight.
Julia has the unusual ability to be…unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses.
It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy.
And Julia has learned—crime pays.
She’s being paid very well indeed to infiltrate the grand house of Mrs. Och and report back on the odd characters who live there and the suspicious dealings that take place behind locked doors.
But what Julia discovers shakes her to the core. She certainly never imagined that the traitor in the house would turn out to be…her.
Murder, thievery, witchcraft, betrayal—Catherine Egan builds a dangerous world where her fierce and flawed heroine finds that even a girl who can vanish can’t walk away from her own worst deeds.

Julia Vanishes is the first book in author Catherine Egan's Witch's Child trilogy. 16-year old Julia is an orphan who has found a home among a group of criminals (Esme, Gregor, Csilla, and her own brother Benedek) after her mother was drowned in the Cleansing for being a witch. Julia and friends live in a fictitious country known as Frayne, where hunting down and drowning those suspected of practicing witchcraft is normal as breathing. After all, if you can't burn a witch, why not drown them? 

Julia has a bit of an unusual ability that others don't have. She has the ability to be unseen by nearly everyone around her. By stepping into another place, eyes of those she is spying on pass over her. This makes for a rather awesome skill to have while she is spying on a home owned by a Mrs. Och and those like Professor Baranyi, and Frederick. Julia aka Ella, finds herself deeply involved in the happenings of the home as a housemaid. When things get even more weird and strange, the mission becomes one of utmost importance. 

She knows that there is something highly unusual about those who live in the house, especially Mr. Darius who lives in the basement of the house where a steel door keeps everyone out. Julia's attempt at sniffing out the facts from fiction ends up putting her and her friends in places that not even she could ever guess. Something dangerous is afoot. Something even older is looking for a vessel that may have a whole lot of magic and power withing. And, something even more powerful may become Julia's ally against the former. 

Julia Vanishes, told in the first person narrativeis an intriguing start to this series. The story features adventure, intrigue, betrayal, and a new form of magic where witches may be powerful and strong, but not unless they put pen to paper. One could say that Egan twists several genre's in order to make this story plausible and entertaining. Those elements are Steampunk, Fantasy, Adventure, and Magic. 

The story features a cast of characters who are powerful, yet need their own puppets to get things they want. I must offer my support for Dek, Julia's older brother. I loved this guy! Seriously how cool were his inventions? How cool was it that he left let his disabilities slow him down? There more than a fair share of villains, and there are those like Julia who may be a spy, and a thief, but in the end, finds her own strengths and determination to cut through the facts and the lies to discover an entirely new truth. 

Julia Vanishes is a story that is slow to develop, but will absolutely grab you by the shoulders and demand that you finish the story to find out what happens next! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

#Tuesday Review - The Invisible Library by @GenevieveCogman (Science Fiction / Time Travel) @AceRocBooks

Series: The Invisible Library # 1
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: ROC
Source: Publisher
Genre: Science Fiction

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author.
Irene is an undercover Librarian—a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London.
Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. 

The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…
Story Locale: England

Series Overview: Undercover Librarian Irene and her assistant Kai travel through time and dimensions, fighting supernatural creatures of chaos, to track down the most important books in all of the worlds in this fun and adventurous fantasy series.

The Invisible Library is the first installment in author Genevieve Cogman's new series. Gogman's main character is a woman named Irene, no last name. Irene is a junior grade Librarian/Spy who has been traveling to alternative worlds in order to collect unique works of fiction. In doing so, she tethers those worlds to the secretive library she works for. A place that is out of time and space from actual reality. The Invisible Library is a mixture of steampunk, adventure, mystery, and a whole lots of twists and turns.

"No strategy ever survived contact with the enemy."

Upon completion of yet rather interesting mission where she was forced to survive against gargoyles, hellhounds, and magical teens trying to prevent her escape, Irene is not only given a rather serious new case, but an apprentice who is cocky and a mystery. Irene and Kai find themselves in an alternative London that is very much straight out of Victorian times. They must retrieve a rare Grimm brothers book and bring it back to the library while also facing off against Vampires, Fae, Werewolves, and the Library's own past secrets.

Upon arriving in this new universe where magic and paranormal are normal, Irene and Kai discover that this mission will be anything but easy. They have to deal with the fact that the book is missing, and there are other factions that are eager to get their hands on the book. Irene also has to deal with her new apprentice who is obviously more than he appears. I think the most interesting aspect of this story is the chaos theory that the author has created. Fae are creatures of chaos and magic, while Dragons, yes, Dragons, are supposed to interfere if a world tips too far in the wrong direction.

Irene is an interesting character who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. She's grown up in and around the Library thanks to her parents who she rarely sees. She has faith in its mission, but tends to be a bit on the daring side. She has made mistakes, and she has her fair share of haters including Bradamant, a fellow Librarian who is older and more experienced. Although I am not 100 percent sure why their is hatred between the two, one can hope that they will eventually parlay their way into a partnership, maybe even a friendship.  

I also loved the so called Librarian magic that allows Irene to access magic and open doors back to the Library or make inanimate objects alive. I liked Peregrine Vale as well. He is an outsider that becomes an ally, that becomes a friend, that becomes someone who finds himself deep in a world that blows all his theories to hell and back. There are a whole lot of curious questions about the Invisible library that I hope will be addressed in future installments. After what happens to Irene and Kai, you have to ask yourselves if they can truly be trusted.

As this is the first installment in a new series, there's more than enough from for character growth, and a discovery of what makes Kai tick. The next installment is called The Masked City. It has already been released in the UK, and will apparently hit the US September 6, 2016. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

#Monday Review - The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Young Adult, Mystery) @bloomsburykids

Series: The Fixer # 2
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Tess Kendrick, teen fixer extraordinaire, returns in a pulse-pounding thriller about a deadly conspiracy at the heart of Washington.
For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate's campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.
Meanwhile, Tess's guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can--and cannot--be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she's about to discover first-hand that power always comes with a price.
Perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Ally Carter, the second book in this thrilling series will leave readers breathless.

The Long Game is the second installment in Jennifer Lynn Barnes'
The Fixer series. The series features 16-year old Tess Kendrick-Keyes as the daughter of one of the best Fixers in the political arena; Ivy Kendrick. Tess's whole life took a major turn in a strange direction when she was uprooted from the only home she's ever known, flown to Washington, DC, and enrolled at the elite Hardwicke School where the kids who go there are all related to some of the most powerful people in the entire world. That includes Tess and her new found connection to Kingmaker William Keyes.

Tess's world is anything but boring or safe these days. She found herself helping the Vice President's daughter out of a serious jam, got caught up in a major conspiracy involving the murder of a Supreme Court Justice, and found herself with an interesting group of friends including best friend Vivvie Bharani, Asher Rhodes, and Henry Marquette who love to go on "Hedgehog Hunts." I am going to add Emilia Rhodes to the list of friends even though they have had, and still do have some silly issues to resolve. I am also adding her because Tess owes her a favor, and that favor comes due. 

The Long Game picks up shortly after The Fixer. I'll say this about the story, be prepared for anything and everything to happen as Barnes really raises the stakes to the point where you are gasping for air by the time this story is over. Tess, in a way, is a mini-Ivy, but she is also a Veronica Mars doppelganger. She's been called upon to help her fellow students out of situations where nothing subtle will do. Then, a brutal reality slaps her and her friends in the face with the murder of a fellow student. Once again, Tess finds herself in the middle of something so dangerous that it will take a modern miracle to come out unscathed.

The Fixer has been compared to Scandal by many a reader, including yours truly. Tess's sister Ivy is this world's Olivia Pope. She is called on to fix things when situations get ugly. She knows where the bodies are buried. She knows who has the power and who is just a charming pain in the backside. She's friends with the President and First Lady and has a back up plan should something go wrong. But, Ivy also shuttered Tess behind a veil of secrecy that caused a major rift between them. A rift that hopefully will be healed after the events of this book.

Now let's get to some of the head shaking issues I have with this series that hopefully have been resolved. Ivy and Tess's relationship is a bit on the bitter side, and for good reasons. Secrets are never good between those who are supposed to care about each other. I must ask you to go back to The Fixer and discover what I am talking about. There is also Tess's relationship with Henry. A relationship that I no longer support and am glad that a wall now stands in the way of any reconciliation. 

I do look forward to the third installment in this series to uncover who is really behind the mysteries and conspiracies that have been at the center of Tess's life since she arrived in D.C. If you are looking for a nice relaxing non-violent or happy-happy read, this book may not be suitable for your sensitive feelings. Things are ugly, they are violent, there are serious betrayals, and violence touches the lives of almost every single character we've come to love or hate in some cases.  This book may even be better in than The Fixer , and that's saying a whole lot.