Thursday, May 24, 2018

ARC #Review - Bright Burns the Night by Sara B. Larson #YALi #Fantasy

Series: Dark Breaks the Dawn # 2
Format: E-Galley, 320 pages
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Ten years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn and cut her conduit stone from her. Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended and the Draíolon of Éadrolan lose more power every day. But once a year, Lorcan transforms her back to her Draíolon form and offers a truce. 

And every year Evelayn refuses -- for he requires her to Bind herself to him for life. But now, with an Ancient power bearing down upon them, everything may change. Evelayn will learn that the truths she once believed have shattered, and that she may need her enemies even more than her allies. Lorcan and Evelayn become partners in a desperate quest to return the balance of power to Lachalonia. How far will this partnership go? Can friendship -- perhaps even love -- bloom where hatred has taken root?Sara B. Larson delivers a thrillingly romantic and hauntingly satisfying end to this extraordinary duology. 




Bright Burns the Night is the second and final installment in author Sara B. Larson's Dark Breaks the Dawn duology. The Dark Breaks the Dawn duology is a reimagining of Swan Lake. Ten years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn of the Light Kingdom of Éadrolan and cut her conduit stone from her. He also used his powers to transform her into a swan. Get it? Swan Lake? Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form where nobody can find her. Can't spoil things that have already been spoiled by the synopsis, right?

Once a year Lorcan transforms Evelayn back to her Draíolon form and offers a truce; all she has to do is bind herself to him for life. Every year Evelayn refuses only to be returned to swan form and hidden away from those who are lost without her. After all, why should she bind herself to the man who she offered peace to and got only heartbreak and betrayal? But now something has apparently changed. This time, Evelayn finds herself free for the first time in a decade. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended on Draíolon and the Éadrolan lose more power every day. 

To make things every more twisted, an Ancient power, who readers met in the first installment, is bearing down upon them, and everything may change. Evelayn will learn truths she once believed in to be facts have been shattered, and that she may need her enemies even more than her allies. Except for Ceren and Quinlan who have never lost hope in finding Evelayn and freeing her. Lorcan and Evelayn become partners in a desperate quest to return the balance of power to Lachalonia. How far will this partnership go? 

So, let me get to my rating argument. If you've read the first installment, and hopefully you have, or will before jumping into this book, there was a whole lot of action, and suspense, and betrayal, and twists in the final chapter of the previous story. So bad were the betrayals, that the author seems to have forgotten what she wrote and decided to toss it all out the window and make believe that nothing of what happened between Evelayn and another character was anything that meant anything because she was going to turn an enemy into a possible love connection.

See, I can be mysterious. In this book, the author makes the villain, (and yes he still is the villain for anyone who cares to debate me), supposedly a hero and the only person that Evelayn can rely on to protect her people, and bring the peace that she and her parents had tried before they died. You will also notice that this book takes place over the course of a 3-4 day period. It is not necessarily rushed, but there is a whole lot of action and adventure and revelations in that short time frame.

I am not a fan of the romance in this book and that too affected by overall rating. I just don't see tearing a former coupling a part and then fermenting mistrust and anger in order to proceed in a entirely different direction. Ok, that was probably too much to tell. The current coupling is absurd and laughable and so damn predictable that I couldn't help roll my eyes. My last comment. When last we saw Evelayn, she was 18 years old. After ten years, she would be 28, right? So, why did the author make her characters should as though they were still in their teens? 





Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ARC #Review - The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware #Thrillers

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 384 pages
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Thrillers / Psychological

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.





Ruth Ware's The Death of Mrs. Westaway is the author's four novel after In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying GameThis is a story of a dysfunctional family, sibling conflicts and rivalry, intrigue, legacies and buried secrets from the past. 21-year old Hariet aka Hal Westaway is in a bleak financial situation. She is receiving threatening messages, and visits from intimidating strong men because she borrowed money to pay her rent, or to keep the electric on. As a job, Hal uses tarot cards to tell futures of those who believe she is a psychic like her mother.

Hal is apparently really good at reading people, and understanding what they want from her readings. She is also very good at weaving a story out of images. But, it doesn't keep the electric on, or food in her refrigerator. Then things really get interesting. Hal receives a curious letter from a lawyer named Mr. Treswick informing her of a possible substantial bequeath thanks to the passing of a woman named Hester Mary Westaway who is supposed to be Hal's grandmother. 

Hal has been told to be skeptical and be doubly skeptical when its something you want to believe. Curious and in desperate financial need and believing she can play the role of a lifetime, she travels to Penzance where meets with the woman's family who she never knew existed. What's even more shocking is the reading of the will. Nope, I shall not spoil that part. I will say that a substantial part of this story takes place at Trepassen House which is just creepy.

Especially the magpies who seem drawn to the place, or the attic bedroom that has some twisted features which, again, I won't spoil, or bars on the window found in an attic bedroom. Hal tries to understand her role in what appears to be a major mistake while also digging into the families past, including her own mothers past. Hal faces hostility from all quarters, especially the elderly, menacing and strange Mrs Warren. Mrs Warren is the housekeeper & it appears that she not only has secrets of her own, but may know all the families darkest secrets. I can say this. 

The author actually alternates between 1994 and the present. The past is all about revealing Easter Eggs that will lead you to hopefully figure out what is actually happening in the present. The Westaway's are so discombobulated and distrusting of Hal, that it will be a remarkable turn of things were Hal to live to tell the story to any children she may have in the future. Hal is a flawed character, who you can forgive her deceptions, given the precarious nature of her finances. 





Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday #Review - The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Carve the Mark # 2
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

In the second book of the Carve the Mark duology, globally bestselling Divergent author Veronica Roth reveals how Cyra and Akos fulfill their fates. The Fates Divide is a richly imagined tale of hope and resilience told in four stunning perspectives.

Fate brought them together. Now it will divide them.

The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth are ruled by their fates, spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates, once determined, are inescapable.

Akos is in love with Cyra, in spite of his fate: He will die in service to Cyra’s family. And when Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek—a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead—reclaims the Shotet throne, Akos believes his end is closer than ever.

As Lazmet ignites a barbaric war, Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost. For Cyra, that could mean taking the life of the man who may—or may not—be her father. For Akos, it could mean giving his own. In a stunning twist, the two will discover how fate defines their lives in ways most unexpected.




The Fates Divide is the second and final installment in author Veronica Roth's Carve the Mark duology. In addition to Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth's point of views, the author has added in two new alternating perspectives: Eijeh Kereseth and Cisi Kereseth. Each have their own unique powers—and their own agendas and are probably the two least likeable characters in this entire series. Both Cyra and Cisi's are in the first person, while Akos is in the third person. 

As the story opens, Cyra, Akos, Cisi, Eijeh, Isae Benesit, and oracle Sifa Kereseth have escaped onboard a Shotet exile ship and are heading for an exile colony on Ogra. But, before they arrive, someone will die, and two of the characters, Cisi and Isae are jettisoned to find their own way to the Assembly ship. Then the news arrives, the former tyrant leader of the Shotet, Lazmet Noavek, presumed dead for 10 seasons, is very much alive and ready for war against the Assembly and the Thuvhe. 

I always get to this point, and wonder what I shall write in order to avoid spoilers. Even though the book has been out since April, there are still those who have not read the story, or even the series for that matter. I did a bit of head scratching when the author did a major twist between Cyra and Akos. I was actually okay with the twist because it actually made the story even more interesting. While Akos and Cyra were doing their thing in saving the universe and getting over their angst and feelings for each other, I did not like Cisi one tiny bit. 

She is a manipulative witch, and if she was a man, the relationship between her and Isae would be called abusive. My other minor complaint, well, not so minor, is why the author chose to write in first person for Cyra, & Cisi, while writing Akos in the third person. Overall, I think The Fates Divide is actually a set up from Carve the Mark. When you compare the so called villain to Isae, you have to really ask yourselves who did the most damage and who caused the most problems when all is said and done. 

Where the first book was mainly captured in one place, The Fates Divide spans across different planets and the Assembly ship where Cisi and Isae end up. Oh yes, as I read my notes to remind myself why my rating is what it is. Let's briefly talk about Eijeh. Here is a character who is given 3 chapters at the most. Here is a character who has been through so much since he was first taken along with Akos. Here's a character who has a whole lot of potential, but is only used sparingly. What was the point I asked myself? ::looks at the author::





Monday, May 21, 2018

ARC #Review - Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Conspiracy of Magic # 1
Format: E-Galley, 372 pages
Release Date: May 30, 2018
Publisher: Another World Press
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Urban Fantasy

In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die... or kill.

Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages' Exam.

Disadvantaged by her parents' low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.

Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.

Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?

The first in a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magiccombines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix. 






Ruthless Magic is the first installment in author Megan Crewe's Conspiracy of Magic series. The story is actually told in two separate narratives; 16-year old Finn Lockwood, son of the man, Jonathan Lockwood, who helped bring Mage's into the light of day. The second narrative is by 16-year old Rocio Lopez who is a much, much better magician than Finn but doesn't have the same options open to her. While Finn is from a long lineage of mages, Rocio's parents have been Dampered, or, had their magic contained so it's at the barest minimum. 

Let me say that I recommend readers pick up Magic Unmasked before you read this story. Magic Unmasked actually takes place 40 years before this story, however, there are several key players in the story, including Jonathan Lockwood, and Raymond Lockwood, who appear in both installments. Magic Unmasked focuses on Jonathan and another character who I won't spoil since there's no point. It was because of Jonathan's action in Unmasked, that have led to the world these characters live in now.

This is a world where old magic, mixes with new magic, mixes with those like Rocio who are extremely talented but are often left out of the elite schools where magic is taught at a higher level. In this world, when you turn 16, you are either chosen for the College of North America Confederation of Mages, or you are Dampered. There is, however, another choice and that is to opt into a brutal contest called the Mage's Exam where only the top survivors are chosen for the College, or other opportunities.

Both Finn, who doesn't believe his family takes him seriously, and Rocio, who spent years at a much less prestigious school in Manhattan, opt into the Mage's Exam along with 54 other candidates from all over the country. Since Finn's best friend Prisha Mathurs is an important secondary character, I will mention that she chooses the Mage's Exam as well. Prisha is what the author calls new money. To become a Champion, Finn, Rocio, & Prisha will have to survive 5 days of testing. 5 days of the most brutal, the most diabolical, the most nerve shattering testing you've read about since, well, The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.

As a reviewer, we are supposed to tell you who our favorite characters are and why, right? Well, I have to say that I give Rocio the edge since she is utterly impressive, powerful, and really good at magic. Without her magic, she would be just another person on the streets with no future and no expectations. Rocio is also searching for answers to what happened to her brother Javi who disappeared 3 years ago, and has been presumed dead. 

Finn is second since he is someone who is trying to prove himself and not be taken for granted because of his name. He isn't at the top of any mage list. He's not even in the middle. He's probably at the bottom which gives certain family members pause to question what they are going to do with him. What makes Finn a really good hero, is that he wants to actually use his magic for good, not unlike his own father in Magic Unmasked. Finn doesn't like that the Confederation has so much power to decide a person's fate, especially when there are those like Rocio and Prisha who are just as talented as those from old money magic families.

I am definitely eager to read the sequel whenever it is planned for release. There are a whole lot of avenues the author has left for herself to explore from both Finn and Rocio's perspectives after the final bell is tallied, and those who survived are named Chaptions, or end up Dampened.





Saturday, May 19, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves #284 (Week Ending 05/19/2018)


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!

Thanks for Stopping by!
A smaller haul this week. Good thing too since my Kindle decided to stop working. Thankfully, Amazon had a Mother's Day special which I took advantage of. I must admit. I am an addict. I have way too may books on my Kindle. Not kidding! I have 140 pages of books! Grrrr
Have a great weekend!
Shelley

This Weeks Reviews: 

 Monday - Inferno by Julie Kagawa (YA, Fantasy)

Tuesday - Personal Demons by Rachel Collett (YA, Paranormal)

Wednesday - Stormcaster by Cinda Williams Chima (YA, Fantasy)

Thursday - Legendary by Stephanie Garber (YA, Fantasy)

 Friday - Infamous by Alyson Noel (YA, Mystery)

Saturday - War and Wind by Alex Lidell (YA, Fantasy)


*REC'D VIA Publisher & NetGalley & Library







Friday, May 18, 2018

Weekend #Review - War and Wind by Alex Lidell #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Tides # 2
Format: E-Book, 356 pages
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Publisher: Danger Bearing Press
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

A cowardly captain. An incompetent crew. A mission she can't fail. 

Nile and her small band of loyal midshipmen saved the ship, and Captain Rima might just kill them for it . . . one young officer at a time. No one and nothing on the Aurora is safe anymore, least of all Nile's explosive secrets or her connection with Domenic, which vibrates between them like a cutlass speared into the deck. 

When the shifting tide of war suddenly turns Aurora's backwater outpost into a vital battleground, Nile faces an impossible choice between duty and freedom. In a cascade of violence, gunpowder, and lies, Nile will soon discover who has her back and who wants to stab a dagger in it. To save the ones she loves, Nile may have to sacrifice everything.




War & Wind, by author Alex Lidell, is the second installment in the authors Tides series. This installment picks up where Air & Ash left off. As a summary, Princess Nile Greysik has found herself onboard the Lyron League Ship Aurora under Captain Rima and first officer Domenick Dana. Barred by her own Kingdom of Ashing from serving on any naval vessel thanks to her own brothers nonsense and a political marriage to a Prince from Felielle she had no desire of participating in, Nile slipped into the night and joined the crew of the Aurora.

Niles, aka Ash, has tried to remain as an unknown sailor, but that really didn't last long with Captain Rima's actions and the fact that she is Gifted, a trait that is considered abhorrent in most of the six Kingdoms of the Lyron League. Due to her own actions in the previous installment, there is a deep, and troubling feeling among the crew, especially the midshipmen who listened to Niles in a pivotal moment in the previous story. This leads to betrayal, destroyed friendships, dishonor, and cowardice by a ship's captain, which leads Nile to doing something absolutely brilliant. 

I'm repeating myself from my review of Air & Ash, but so be it. Even though Niles tends to make some silly mistakes, she is absolutely fantastic. You can push her, but she doesn't easily break. Yes, she is human, and therefore emotions do play a part in her actions. However, she's intelligent & she's had more seafaring time than nearly everyone onboard the Aurora, and yet, time and time again she faces challenges because of a Captain who is a coward, arrogant, spiteful, hateful, and deviously corrupt. 

We absolutely learn that Niles is a born to lead. When trouble raises its ugly head, and the Captain runs away like a dog with his tail between his legs, Nile's takes the bull by the horn and does what others are too afraid of doing. She commandeers a ship along with Catsper and his Marines. Are there consequences for her actions? Oh, yes. Niles relationship with Domenic Dana continues to be one of ups and downs and everything in between. In all honesty, I would have preferred that Niles found a way to connect with Marine Lieutenant Catspar who has found ways to be around whenever Nile's is in trouble.

In this book, we are introduced a new character; Captain Ral Quinn of the People's Republic of Tirik ship Hope. Quinn isn't someone who suddenly shows up and then disappears in a blaze of agony, or glory, or whatever else you would like to come up with. The other knock to the head is when Nile's secret of who she really is comes out and trouble arrives on her doorstep in the form of Rima. Rima is an opportunistic slime ball. There I said it and I'm glad. As I said before, Nile can make some really silly mistakes, but more often than not, she makes level headed decisions that proves that she was born with the heart and the mind of a much wiser and older leader.

There is yet another character who appears in this book, Prince Tamiath of Felielle who is supposed to be Nile's intended. And yet, the author twists his story to the point where I almost reduced my rating by a half. Not a fan of the twist at all, but that's on me, not the writer. I'm just saying it's an easy cop out and unnecessary. I did, however, like Aaron who is also from Felielle. Aaron adds a bit of humor which is desperately needed. There is a bit more of a political aspect to this story since Nile's is the first person to be allowed in the territory of a country that has remained neutral while the rest of these countries have been at war for years. As with Air and Ash, the ending of this book definitely bridges to the third installment called Sea and Sand which I have also just finished. 





Friday #Review - Infamous by Alyson Noel #YALit #Contemporary

Series: Beautiful Idols # 3
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages 
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Mysteries

There’s no shortage of suspense, glitz, or scandal in the gripping conclusion to #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s Beautiful Idols trilogy.

Layla Harrison never imagined she’d see the inside of a jail cell, but sometimes fate can be as nasty as a commenter on her celebrity gossip blog. Luckily, she wasn’t alone—fellow promoters Aster Amirpour and Tommy Phillips were also detained when Hollywood It Girl Madison Brooks’s dead body turned up at an Unrivaled nightclub.
But it wasn’t Madison at all. The real Madison Brooks is alive and hiding out after escaping a kidnapping attempt that almost took her life. Once the police discover they’ve made a mistake, Layla, Tommy, and Aster are set free—only to discover that they’re all being played.

However, none of their dirty little secrets compares to the one Madison has been keeping her entire life, and her past is dangerously close to being revealed. Which means Madison must come out from behind the shadows to ensure that she doesn’t lose everything she’s worked for, regardless of who might get caught in the crossfire.



Infamous, by author Alyson Noel, is the third and final installment in the authors Beautiful Idols trilogy. Club promoters Layla, Aster, and Tommy never imagined that entering the Unrivaled competition would land them in the middle of a celebrity murder investigation, but sometimes fate can be as nasty as the anonymous comments on a Hollywood gossip blog. But Madison Brooks isn’t dead. Layla, Aster, and Tommy have been set up, and as Madison’s dirty little secrets creep closer to the light, they discover Madison will do anything to keep her past hidden—no matter who gets caught in the crossfire. Once more we find that the author has decided to tell her story through the narratives of Aster Amirpour, Layla Harrison, Tommy Phillips, Madison Brooks, Mateo Luna, and Trena Moretti. Infamous picks up right where Blacklist left off. 

As the story opens, we find that Madison has been rescued by long time supporter, and protector Paul Banks. She's wounded, sore, malnourished, weak from her captivity by an unknown person or persons who apparently have a vendetta planned out to perfection against her, and holding a deeply seething anger against those who were responsible. Madison knows that Hollywood is a fickle town and while someone is destroying her reputation by digging up her past, she knows that one can have both devastating defeats, and soaring personal triumphs.

Layla's life has been turned upside down. She has been arrested, her blog, Beautiful Idols, has taken a huge hit and she is receiving death threats for her presumed participation in what is happening to Madison. Layla once again is in a precarious situation. Someone continues to send her strange text message, as well as packages wherever she may be. Whomever is responsible for what's happening to Madison, has apparently decided that Layla will be the person to totally tear apart Madison's life apart for the entire world to read about and expose her for her secretive background.

Aster spends most of the story with Ryan which in my opinion is a good thing. Ryan keeps her head straight and in the right direction when all she wants to do is be angry towards the persons who set her up for Madison's alleged murder and disappearance. With a court date soon approaching, and her future all but destroyed, Aster, who is also being blackmailed by the anonymous source, has to pull together every ounce of support she can find in order to remain free.

Tommy is the last person to see Madison alive, a fact that he can't live down no matter how hard he tries. Even though he has a deal of a lifetime with a record company, he has no idea what his future holds. Will he be sent to prison again, and spend the rest of his life behind bars? Or, will Madison be found and Tommy's name cleared? Tommy isn't from California. He moved here to find fortune and discover who his father was. That being discovered, it now becomes a question as to whether or not his father is behind what is happening to his friends, and himself. 

Mateo is the odd man out in this story. He's Layla's ex, who has been taunted, teased, and propped up by Heather Rollins which has lead to some much need capital to help his very sick younger sister Valentina. Mateo is just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and pretty much remains a non-factor throughout the story. But, I do believe that Mateo has a whole lot more moral high ground and standing than our last character. 

Trena Moretti's stardom has rocketed to the top quickly thanks to her never relentless search for answers about Madison's past, and why she disappeared and who was actually responsible. To me, Trena is a morally ambiguous sellout just like all journalists on cable TV today who chase after the gold unicorn, while leaving facts behind. He even goes so far as to use Aster's younger brother Javen. 

I really want to talk about Ira for a moment. While all of this with Madison, Aster, Layla, and Tommy is happening, Ira's business is blooming. He's raking in so much money now, that truth be told, you have to ask yourselves if Ira was working with whomever planned and set up this revenge plot against Madison. Would Ira really do that to his own son? Absolutely. Would Ira cast away the girl he thinks of his daughter? Again, absolutely. But, can Ira really be that cold and disturbed to put four innocent people thru literal hell? Read the book and find out!