Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Firewalker by Josephine Angelini

Title: Firewalker
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: Worldwalker, Book 2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: 1 September 2015

Worlds divide, magic slays, and love lies in the second book of Josephine Angelini’s The Worldwalker Trilogy.

"You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified."

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Picking up right where Trial By Fire left off, Firewalker is another sexy, fast-paced, heartbreaking thrill ride from internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini!

I raved about the first book in this series, Trial by Fire. It absolutely blew me away and I have been extremely excited for the last year for this book, the second in the series. I'm not sure if this affected my feelings about this book, or if I would have felt the same regardless, but it didn't - quite - live up to my expectations.

**Warning** There will be spoilers and references to events in the first book. It can't be helped. Honestly, it's going to be hard enough to talk about this book without spoiling everything in it. If you haven't yet read Trial by Fire, please check out my review for it.

Because the last book ended with Lily and Rowan world-jumping back to our world at the end of Trial by Fire, I knew I could expect that we would be spending at least some time in our world and I wasn't really looking forward to it. I enjoy being in Lillian's world. It's fascinating and I have been absolutely dying to know why Lillian ended up as tyrannical as she did. This meant that the first quarter of the book was ... well, boring for me. I wasn't into it, and I was could easily put the book down. Added to that, it was obvious what was going to need to happen - the fact that it was being danced around and not being done just frustrated me. Lily never was one to back away from what she knew was right, and I totally understood the break that was needed, the respite from the insanity that they'd come from, but I knew there was still too much to resolve. Lily and Rowan knew it, too.

After that, though, things really started to pick up. I loved that we got some answers - that blew my mind - about questions I'd had, but at the same time Josephine Angelini introduced new questions that I'm so incredibly interested in. I love that Lily doesn't just accept things at face value, she challenges and questions nearly everything, even when it frustrates those that surround her.

Speaking of the people surrounding her, well, things are starting to really build. I love that there aren't any clear answers. That maybe there's not a single person that's right in this, and that Lily has to find her own way, her own answers, and trust herself more than anyone. I love that. It's so nice to see that - even if someone she loves dearly doesn't agree - Lily doesn't shy away from doing what she believes, in her heart, to be right. I love that she still struggles against becoming like Lillian, and realizing that it's so possible because she is Lillian. I love her relationships with the people around her, and her struggles in the power imbalance between the majority of them and her.

What I didn't love so much were a few of the people surrounding her. One, I thought, was forgiven a bit too quickly. Another completely pissed me off. I'm 99% certain that something is going to be revealed to be not quite what we were shown there, but I'm still furious. The treatment, the reaction, the inability to trust....Grrr. I literally put my Kindle down and swore at my book.

That being said, the ending? Oh.My.God. My mouth was hanging open and I'm - once again - dying for the next book in this series. I'd begun to suspect, along with Lily, that things weren't quite the way they'd been portrayed and accepted, but that ending left me salivating for more. I have to see how this resolves itself.

There were some heart-wrenching moments in this book. I had to set the book down multiple times to give myself time to collect myself. There haven't been a lot of books that have been able to affect me so deeply, and I love that this one can.

Grade: B+

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Review: Archangel's Enigma by Nalini Singh

Title: Archangel’s Enigma
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunters, Book 8
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 1 September 2015

Naasir is the most feral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required – those more common to predatory animals than to man.

Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets, is fascinated by his nature—at once playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it’s too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows...and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. But first they must survive an enemy vicious enough to shatter the greatest taboo of the angelic race and plunge the world into a screaming nightmare...

**Disclaimer: I am a HUGE Nalini Singh fangirl. I’ve loved her books since I first discovered Slave to Sensation back in . This means that I tend to love her books, but it also means that I measure each of her books against her other books, so the competition is stiff.

**Spoiler warning: There will be spoilers from the previous 7 books (and various novellas) in this review. If you haven’t read the previous books, please go see my review for Angels’ Pawn and Angels’ Blood

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Title: Dead Heat
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega, Book 4 / Mercy Thompson World, Book 11
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 3 March 2015

The Alpha and Omega novels transport readers into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now, a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business…

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way...

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross-fire.

The last several months have been life-changing for me. First, I got engaged. Then I moved across country (Wisconsin to Washington state). Then I was looking for a new job, while assisting the transition remotely for my old job. Then I was buying a house...And still I freaked out and wondered how the heck I had managed to forget that I had this book to read on my Kindle. When I was going through my 'must-have' releases to be happening I suddenly realized that I hadn't ever started this book! I was horrified, and immediately set about correcting that.

I'm really glad that I did. This book was quietly satisfying. I say quietly and I hope that people don't take that to mean a bad thing. This wasn't as action-packed as some of the books, the mystery wasn't as urgent to me - for whatever reason - but I loved how the story moved the world in a new direction, how we got to meet up with some new (and varied) characters, and how we got a lot more from Anna and Charles.

I admit it, I'm pretty tired of the +child aspect to a lot of books lately, I started in Urban Fantasy because I was pretty bored with the 'must have a child' thing in Romance. So it's not my favorite addition to the storyline. That being said, it makes sense here. Anna was changed without even knowing that she'd never be able to have kids. So much was taken away from her, it's understandable that she's going to fight to regain as much as possible. What I really liked about this (almost) side-plot was that Anna never forced Charles hand, she tried to figure out the root of the problem, offer logical solutions and let him figure out where he wanted to be on the subject. They're a team, and it's never in doubt that they are together for it all.

What I loved most here was the cast of characters, both those we know and love already and those that are new to us - even if not to Charles. Seeing true friends of Charles was a treat, and I liked them immensely. There were a couple of new characters in particular that I loved meeting, and I hope we get to see more of them in the future.

I already mentioned that the mystery aspect of the book wasn't that enticing to me and part of that is because I figured out who the "bad-guy" was as soon as we met them. It was a little out of character for Anna - and especially not Charles - to suspect this person when the clues kept lining up pointing to a particular place. Accusing would have been too far, but the way they studiously avoided even thinking that this person could be the culprit left me feeling bland about the whole process. I was really interested in the fae's powers and the consequences of their actions - both for the fae, the werewolves and even the humans. Patricia Briggs definitely knows how to continuously up the stakes in this ever-changing world, I'll never deny that.

Like I said, it was quietly satisfying. We got a lot of time with Charles and his friends - of which we know he doesn't have many, a lot of time with Charles and Anna, and a lot of time learning more about other packs of werewolves. I also particularly enjoyed some of the investigation that was detailed and the things that our investigators found out.

Dead Heat isn't as exciting or flashy as some of the other books in the Mercy Thompson World, but it's definitely satisfying and creates intriguing new directions for our favorite supernatural beings to go in. I'll tell you though, after all the stuff with the fae I'm really curious as to what's going on with the vampires - especially Stefan. Here's hoping we get to see him again in the next Mercy book.

Grade: B

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Shifts
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels, Book 8
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 4 August 2015

SPOILERS WARNING: If you haven't read this series (GO START NOW), do not start with this review. This is the 8th book in the series, and therefore there are MANY spoilers for major plotlines that are better experienced as the author wanted them. Seriously, even the blurb of this book spoils things learned in previous books. Start at the beginning. You may find the first book a little rough (it's a common complaint), though I loved it from the very first chapter, but I promise you: it becomes amazingly awesome. I very highly doubt that you'll regret starting on this journey.

Here's my review for book 1 in the series, Magic Bites.

For this review, head below the break.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Great Library, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk
Release Date: 7 July 2015

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time...

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn...

First, when I requested this book there wasn't series information about it anywhere (at least not that I found), so I thought (silly, I know) that it was a stand-alone book. That thought probably had some effect on my final feelings and thoughts about this story.

This cover is gorgeous, beautiful, and works with the story. I'd love to see it in person and see if it has the texture that the image implies. Once seeing it and finding out that the story revolved around the Library at Alexandria surviving...I couldn't *not* request it.

And I'm glad I did. It gets off to a bit of a slow start, with a lot of things that confused me. There's names for people that do things that aren't really explained (you do start to get the feel for them as you get further in the story), and you're kind of tossed right in. Normally I like that. Here...well, it didn't work as well for me. The beginning felt slow. It was setting up the world and story, I know, but a lot of it simply doesn't make sense to me.

For example, in one of the earliest scenes in the book we find out that books are contraband. Owning a printed (hand-copied) book is illegal. So, of course, there's a flourishing black-market trade for them. Jess is the son of one of these black-market book experts, and because of that he's a 'runner.' Which basically means that he transports the books from his family's interests to the purchasers'. The problem I had with this is that he was RUNNING everywhere to do this. Not only that, but they run in a pack - like wild animals. Huh? Doesn't anyone understand that running draws attention to yourself? And running with a large group of other kids draws even MORE attention? Pretty damn good way to get the Garda after you, don'tcha think? Illogical actions didn't make me have a lot of faith in the author to make things more logical.

Fortunately, for me, she did manage to pull it around and I started to have faith in the storytelling and the characters' actions. The story is fascinating. A library - those that are supposed to allow knowledge to be at the worlds' fingertips - is actually oppressing ideas, progress and knowledge. I still have a little trouble with the premise, but it all comes down to power. Who has it, who wants to keep it, and what they're willing to do to meet those ends. The fact of the matter is that the Library is willing to do anything to keep their power. And that's exactly what the postulants - including Jess - start to learn as they're competing for positions inside the Library itself.

I definitely enjoyed this book. The story moved at a good pace, there was a lot of variety of places and things happening. There's definitely diversity in characters and world. There's a small romance (one that moved a bit too quickly for me even if it wasn't the main focus of the story). There's friendships that I hope stand the test of what's to come. And we're settled right on the cusp of change.

What I didn't love so much was the simplicity of things. Simplicity is maybe the wrong word, but instead of shocking with well placed hints and drawing out the revelations, they were almost shoved in my face immediately. I had no chance to speculate and be surprised by anything because it was all revealed almost as soon as it was a thought. And while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it did disappoint me a bit.

I did mention that I wasn't aware this was part of a series, so when I got to nearly 90% of the book and realized there was no way it was going to be able to wrap up satisfactorily...well I was irritated. I don't mind "cliff-hangers", or multi-part series. I enjoy them, and read quite a few of them (KMM, I'm still looking at you for ruining years of my life waiting on the next books in the Fever series). But this one just kind of stops. It's not a cliff-hanger. It's not a 'OMG! What's going to happen next?!' moment. It's just ... done. And while I *do* want to know what happens in the next book, I'm not anxious and on the edge of my seat for it.

That being said, I *am* going to be putting the next book on my list. I do hope there are some surprises in store for me (and all of the characters), and that - I can't believe I'm saying this: I get to see the Library fall.

Grade: B-

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cover Reveal: Cam Girl by Leah Raeder

I fell in love with Leah Raeder when I read her first book Unteachable. It made me think, made me love, made me uncomfortable. It made me feel.

Ever since I've been closely following her releases, looking forward to each and every one.

Now. Even though it's not coming out until November 3rd, 2015, is Cam Girl. The newest story by this wonderful author. And I'm pleased to be a part of the cover reveal here!

Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art, and her best friend and soulmate, Ellis Carraway. Elle and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets a smooth-talking lothario who offers to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night taking off her clothes on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s all just kinky fun till a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they open up to each other intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. She agrees, because she’s starting to fall for him. And when he asks to meet, she says yes. Because she’s dying to know the real man behind the keyboard.

Even if one of his conditions is to bring Ellis. The girl who wants nothing to do with her anymore.

Now Vada must confront the past she’s been running from. A past full of devastating secrets—those of others, and those she’s been keeping from herself...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Title: Daughter of Deep Silence
Author: Carrie Ryan
Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Young-Adult Suspense
Release Date: 26 May 2015

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

For a good portion of this book I was on the edge of my seat, absolutely enthralled with Frances' journey and revenge. I was with her one-hundred percent. The people that wronged her deserved to be brought to justice. She had a plan, and she was going to stick to it.

If it had continued in this vein, maybe just for a while longer, I would have given this book a perfect grade. The plan was well thought out, well planned, and beautifully poetic. The suspense - even after I began to get annoyed (which I'll get into later) - was superbly done. I was turning pages, unable to get enough, unable to stop. I had to know how it was going to play out and if Frances was going to get her revenge.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Frances' plans to break down. I couldn't stand that she was allowing herself to have these feelings for a boy (Grey) that she thought was - at best - complicit by neglect in the death of everyone she loved and held dear. I could understand everything else that she felt and thought, but not this. If some boy, someone was complicit in such a tragic affair as Frances believed Grey to be, there'd be no forgiveness, at least not as quickly as Frances starts making excuses and reasons for him.

Granted, Grey does seem to be nearly as tortured about their whole history as Frances, but the fact of the matter is that his family survived the tragedy and then LIED about it. While Frances lost her parents, her friend, her life on that ship. Nearly isn't close enough for me. And for this boy Frances changes all of her plans, nearly dying, nearly getting others hurt or killed, nearly losing all justice for those responsible.

And in the end that brought down my enjoyment of the book quite a bit. The cliff-hanger/make-up-your-own-resolution ending didn't help much, but it was really the "romance" that was at the heart of my discontent. I agree that it needed to be there. Frances needed to find some reason - beyond her revenge - to actually live, but the way this one unfolded didn't work as well for me.

Grade: B-

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Title: Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Time: 124 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 12 June 2015 (USA)

Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitors' interest, which backfires horribly.

It's not often that I'm inspired to write a review for a movie. Honestly, I can say that in 10 years of blogging I've never written a movie review (unless you want to count this very short, very early post about Clue). But something about Jurassic World makes me think maybe I should. I've tried summing up my feelings on this movie, but haven't been able to adequately put them together. Maybe this format will allow me to.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Review: Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs, Rik Hoskin, Tom Garcia

Title: Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly
Author: Patricia Briggs, Rik Hoskin
Artist(s): Tom Garcia
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Release Date: 10 June 2015

Mercy is a shapeshifting coyote and honorary member of the Tri-Cities werewolf pack. When the pack stumbles upon the buried bones of numerous dead children, she shapeshifts into a mystery of the legendary fae - a mystery that draws Mercy's stepdaughter Jesse into the fray! The supernatural romance series Mercy Thompson continues in this all-new, original story by New York Times bestselling author, Patricia Briggs, exclusively created for the comic book medium! Collects the six-issue Mercy Thompson comic book series from 2014-2015, a story set in official continuity.

The Mercedes Thompson series is one of my favorite urban-fantasy book series, period. So, of course as soon as I saw this graphic novel on NetGalley - I requested it! I love graphic novels, and when combining with a kick-ass heroine and world I couldn't refuse.

Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my hopes. While the story was good, and a perfect length for this format, there was no mystery. It was easy to figure out from the beginning who the threat was. The art, while pretty good, didn't 'Wow' me, and left me feeling like some of the panels were rushed and not fully fleshed out.

The story takes place between Frost Burned and Night Broken, and just after Dead Heat. So spoilers through Dead Heat and Frost Burned are possibly.

There were a couple of things that I really loved in this graphic-novel, and a couple that made me think. I was stoked to see that the fae were strategically loosing fae to remind the humans that they were feared for a reason. It opens up whole avenues of stories, and I can't wait to see them. I also really loved that we got to see more of Jesse in this story. What I didn't love was the auto-suspicion that was portrayed here of the wolves, who've never done anything remotely suspicious and always been open and helpful of the police and community. That still frustrates me a lot. Though I suppose it's fairly accurate for how we (humanity) deals with something that's perceived to be 'other.'

Random other thoughts:
*I did NOT picture Zee that way. Whoa.
*Am I the only one that didn't know (or forgot) that Jesse was in high school?? I, for some reason, keep picturing her as much younger.
*Mercy's internal monologuing doesn't come through in the graphic format as well as it does the novel format.
*More fae, please.

None of the characters looked how I pictured them, but that's probably to be expected. Overall, I thought this was a fine addition to the Mercy Universe, but nothing really blew me away either.

Grade: C

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

Title: Shards of Hope
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling, Book 14
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 2 June 2015

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action” of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races...

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken...like Zaira.

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