Thursday, March 23, 2017

#Thursday Review - Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (Urban Fantasy)

Series: InCryptid # 1
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: DAW
Source: Amazon
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city

Discount Armageddon is the first installment in author Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series. This first novel features Verity Price, a cryptozoologist who has been trying to make it as a professional dancer. This is why Verity is in Manhattan. But, a girl also has to pay the bills which is why she also works as a waitress at Dave's Fish & Strips. Verity's family has a history that goes way back to the Covenant of St. George. Verity's family tries to keep safe those Cryptid's who are basically harmless. 

But, if they step out of line, she doesn't hesitate to put them down. In this world, there are 900 races of Cryptid's, of which some 80 are capable of passing as humans. Verity and family are cryptozoologists who study and research monsters. Verity has tried to keep a decent relationship with those monsters, but sometimes she gets caught up in things that are way over her head. Which leads Verity to meeting her families nemesis in the form of Dominic De Luca who just happens to snare Verity in one of his traps while hunting Cryptid's. Dominic's Covenant doesn't believe in coddling the monsters. They want to flush them out, and exterminate all of them off the face of the earth.

Good thing that Verity has trained all her life for this moment to come. Good thing  that Verity has some help in the form of her "cousin" Sarah Zellaby who is one of the more dangerous Cryptid's in existence. Dominic reminds me of a person who has been totally and absolutely brainwashed not unlike those who are swept away by religious cults. Dominic's whole world gets shredded to pieces after meeting Verity who, along with her family, was presumed to be dead. After Dominic and Verity put their issues behind them, and agree to work together, there is plenty of sizzle and we see a different side to Dominic than the ruthless killer. 

This is a world that has Aeslin Mice, (speaking mice who celebrate various monumental moments in the Price/Healy family). We can also add a dragon, dragon princess, waheela's, bogeymen, bear shifters, gorgons, ghouls and plenty of other monsters who call Manhattan home. One of the conflicts is with Verity herself. Will she be able to be a professional dancer she's worked hard to become, or will she have to hang up her ballet slippers, and stick to being a cryptozoologist. I have already read book # 2, and will most likely skip over books #3 & #4 to get back to Verity, and then Magic for Nothing which is Antimony Price's book. After reading this first novel, I am all in to get caught up as soon as possible. I love this world. I love Verity, Sarah, and her parents who are tertiary characters at best, but are just a phone call away if trouble gets too close.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#Wednesday Review - Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr #YALit #Fantasy @HarperCollins

Series: Seven Black Diamonds # 1
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.
From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.
Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.
Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.
Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.
Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. 

Seven Black Diamonds is the first installment in author Melissa Marr's Seven Black Diamonds series. Marr does what she does best. She returns to the world of the Fae, while creating a world where Fae and Humans have been at war with each other ever since a fateful happenstance pushed Endellion, the Queen of Blood and Rage, into declaring war against humanity. One could, in fact, say that this story is cross dystopian, and part paranormal.   

The story features several narratives including Lilywhite Abernathy, daughter of mobster Nicolas Abernathy. It also features Roan, one of the Queen's sleeper agents, and Eilidh (Ay-leigh), the Queen's heir to both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. I have to say, I actually liked Eilidh's narrative. She is the heir, but scorned by Seelie and Unseelie alike because of her features. She has a secret that if revealed too soon, could have serious implications on the Queen's plans. She also has a brother in Rhys who is protective of her, and she has a fiance Torquill who would die for her. 

One could, in confidence, call Seven Black Diamonds meet the characters since that is exactly what is laid out for us. Oh yes, we eventually learn about what drove the war between humans and Fae, but it is more important to learn about the Seven Diamonds while trying to decide whether or not they are worthy of our attention. After all, not all of the characters are impressive, and in some way, they are background fodder for political machinations. We're told that because of Lily's dual heritage, she can be arrested at any time if her fae heritage is exposed to the public. Being Fae is tantamount to being killed on sight.

We're told that she's been trained to become her father's successor, and keeps a fairly good sized amount of weapons on her body which she is skilled at using. We can also firmly say that her own father doesn't explain some really important things to her, before sending her off to a boarding school where she will soon meet the other members of "her" team. We can also say that Lily falls immediately into an insta-romance when she meets Creed Morrison, a singer who is also one of the Queen's Seven Diamonds, aka Sleeper agents who are fighting a secretive war against Humanity. 

Lily lives by what the author has called the Abernathy rules. Don't be upset if you miss any of Lily's rules. She has a tendency of repeating them as she wades through a new reality that fundamentally changes her entire existence, let alone what she is expected to do next. She also ends up making several new ones along the way after encountering other Fae. One of the interesting question is about the Queen's sleepers. Who are they really? Are they half-lings, or changelings, or something else entirely? One can easily call the Seven terrorists, and not be hit upside the head with a large dictionary. That is what they do, after all. They spread fear and terror.

I'm not going to talk all that much about the rest of the so called Diamonds. Especially since the synopsis pretty much gives all that information away. But, I will mention that they as Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy who will later become Lily's flatmate at school. I am happy about one facet about this story. That facet being that Lily doesn't allow herself to be drawn into a triangle. Her feelings for Creed are genuine. She doesn't care about betrothals, or what she is expected to do. She has some courage and strength and some backbone and that comes in handy when meeting and dealing with her new reality. 

Apparently, I have been reading way, way too many books. The big revelation was so apparent, that I almost laughed instead of being impressed. So, no, I am not digging at the author. I am saying that I read way, way too many books that have had similar paths to revelation and conclusions. I like the unknown. I like not knowing what is going to happen to a character or whether or not the character will accept their supposed fate or not. I would honestly love if a character just said, hey, no thank you! But, that would totally ruin an entire series, right? 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Redux by A.L. Davroe (YA, Science Fiction) @aldavroe @EntangledTeen

Series: Tricksters # 2
Format: E-Galley, 428 pages
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopian

The domed city of Evanescence is in ruins. With nowhere to go, prodigy hacker Ellani “Ella” Drexel and a small band of survivors flee to the Undertunnel below their city.
To escape the wasteland she unknowingly created.
But sanctuary is hard to find. With malfunctioning androids and angry rebels at their backs, the group hopes to press on for the neighboring city of Cadence. But Ella’s chosen path is challenging…life-threatening, even. Worse, the boy she loves is acting distant, and not at all like the person she first met in Nexis.
But then Ella learns a secret…and it changes everything. Ella knows she needs to turn back and make a stand to reclaim her home. She’s determined to bring a new—and better—life to all who’ve suffered. Or die trying

Redux is the second installment in author A.L. Davroe's Trickster's series. Redux picks up immediately where Nexis left off. To summarize, Tricksters is a series that is set in a far off future where Global Nuclear War has torn the world apart. The survivors built themselves Dome Cities like Evanescence. In doing so, they separated into two classes: Aristocrats who enjoy all the benefits of Modification and Alterations, & the Disfavored who were born outside of the domed cities and have held resentment against the Aristo's. 

Protagonist Ellani (Ella) Drexel is what one would call a Natural. She hasn't had any modifications, or alterations and that is mostly due to her mother's request that she remain who she is and not jump into the deep end of the pool at the first chance she gets to alter her appearances so much so that she can't recognize herself in the mirror. Ellani has been portrayed as a highly intelligent programmer and designer. Her programming part is what has brought us to this point in the series. But, as the author made a point of saying, Ella is stupid smart. 

If was Ella's actions in planting a computer virus into the city's artificial intelligence that made it rebel, and begin a killing spree that forced Ella, Quentin, Gus and others into seeking shelter from not only rebels, but also those who were built to protect the city from outsiders. Ella's actions have had far reaching implications for everyone involved, and Ella's own parent's may hold the answer to what really happened, and why.  

While Nexus took place mostly in Virtual Reality, this story expands to include Disfavored rebels like Mac, Cairen, Aaron & Delaney, as well as Stormy who I believe we will see even more of if there is a sequel to this story. But, it is Violet who I truly loved. She is a character who is an encyclopedia of information, and is the oldest human being alive. She actually has been there, and done that over the course of her long life. She was the perfect character to add to the story that made Ella feel both alive, and curious about all the knowledge that Violet has to teach the rest of humanity. 

Redux gets down to the nitty gritty and answers some pretty important questions as to why Ella was used in such a way that brought so much pain and suffering to a whole lot of people. It also answers a question that has been chafing at my skin since Nexus was released. Who did Ella actually fall for in Nexus? I really like Ella. She is human who makes mistakes. She breaks down emotionally, and then picks herself back up and carries on. Ella could have left the stage at any time, especially after being held prisoner, losing her father, and then losing her legs.

Instead, she's become a leader. She puts a face on the troubles that lie ahead by facing them without shrinking away in disgrace. She doesn't agree with anything that's happened, including her unwitting part in destroying Evanescence, but she know that she has to become the bearer of a whole lot of responsibilities if Aristocrats and Disfavored after going to survive an even more diabolical challenge. She has also clearly found the person she is supposed to be. I dare hope that the author and publisher are working on a sequel to this book. I would love to read about what happens next.

Monday, March 20, 2017

#Monday Review - Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost (Paranormal Fantasy)

Series: Night Prince # 4
Format: Paperback, 340 pages
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Avon
Source: Library
Genre: Paranormal Romance

In the explosive finale to New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Night Prince series, Vlad is in danger of losing his bride to an enemy whose powers might prove greater than the Prince of Vampire’s…. 
In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.
For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.
A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

Into the Fire is the fourth and final installment in author Jeaniene Frost's Night Prince series. If you've gotten to this point in the series, then you know how we got here. You know about Mircea, Vlad's nephew, stepson, and mortal enemy who spelled Leila blood to blood, and flesh to flesh all to get back at Vlad. You know about Leila's psychic abilities, her abilities with lightning, her friendship with Marty, and how she became a vampire thanks to Vlad's enemies. But, what you didn't know about Leila, apparently facilitated the need for a fourth book in this series. 

Frost adds new elements to her series in the form of powerful Demons, and vampire necromancers who hold Leila and Mircea's life in the balance. What they want won't become clear until Leila, Vlad, Ian, and Mencheres find a way to locate Mircea and break the spell he holds over Leila. This is one of those books that for me, could have gone one way or the other. But, here's the ticker, I wasn't aware that Into the Fire would be the lead-in book to Ian's series which the author is apparently working on. 

Why did I say that, you ask? Well, Frost introduces readers to Ian's would be partner in crime in this book. No, I will not say whom it is. If you've already read the book, then you obviously know who I am talking about. I am curious that Leila has followed in the footsteps of not only Cat, but also her best friend Denise, who I am sure you know all about. All of them have had circumstances that have irreversibly
changed them into something else. They've all somehow managed to become even more by way of special new abilities. Readers will learn a pretty interesting secret about Leila's family ties, how she is able to handle her powers, as well as yet another character who changes certain dynamics.. 

I can honestly call myself bored with the explicit sex scenes. Been there, done that, walked 10 miles in the snow in sneakers, and lived to tell about it. The explicit sex scenes between Cat and Bones will always be the standard barrier for which to compare all of Frost's future & past works. I am glad that Mencheres was involved in this series, but would have loved to see Kira. I am glad that I was correct in what Frost would do with Gretchen Dalton. Pfft, if you don't know what I'm talking about, read the book. But, I never thought I would actually care one iota for Mircea. There are things I can forgive, and then there are things that we have to just expect, and move forward. 

In the end, this book is a bridge that closes one series and leads the path to another. Will I read Ian's book? I am not really sure. I do like the would be female protagonist who was introduced. I am glad that she is just as badass as Cat, and may even have the ability to match her in several distinct areas. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 55

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!

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! 
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Wednesday - The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins (YA, Fantasy)

Thursday - Freya by Matthew Laurence (YA, Fantasy)

Friday - Disruptor by Arwen Elys Dayton (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday -The King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard (YA, Fantasy)

*Received from Library, Edelweiss, NetGalley*


Friday, March 17, 2017

#Saturday Review - The King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Red Queen # 3
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

When the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

The King's Cage is the third installment in author Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen series. The King's Cage picks up right where Glass Sword left off. Mare Barrow has been branded and collared by Maven Calore. She is a pretty prop that he intends to use to prove that he is a worthy replacement for his father. Mare is kept silenced and suppressed for a large part of this book. While in the cage of Maven's choosing, Mare is forced into being a puppet to Maven's whim's. She dressed up prettily, and forced into doing things that are supposed to make The Scarlet Guard look like terrorists instead of revolutionaries.

If you are curious as to what the point of having so much of Maven be revealed, well I will say that it was apparent that we are supposed to have feelings for the young King who was guided by his ruthless mother, and given not a whole lot of choices in the matter. One could say that Maven got his darkness from his mother, and that is all I am going to say on that topic. As it is, there are a whole lot of political movements and shenanigans that take place in this book. There is some large parts of the story where Mare finds herself a prop everywhere Mare and his entourage goes, including to the war front where Mare's only family has suffered greatly.

I am, I believe, one of the few people who has not compared this series to The Grisha trilogy or its evil mastermind The Darkling who was obsessed with the series heroine Alina. Maven's back story, while sad, is also not an excuse for his behavior, especially in the way he keeps Mare around for his amusement. It is not an excuse to embrace the darkness because of who your mother was, or what her powers did to you. Maven is a power obsessed villain who has no redeeming values, or that's the way I think of him. To force a failed and undesirable relationship between Maven and Mare over one forgotten moment in time that was brought to a screeching end by betrayal, is nothing that appeals to me as a reader. 

For me, The King's Cage is a let down, for the most part. I say for the most part because the battles for Corvium against Maven's silvers and Mare's The Scarlet Guard and New Bloods was perhaps the best part of the series. Mare, as a character, hasn't shown any willingness to actually grow. She may have a badass ability, but her mistakes are costly and deadly. At times, she suffers from what I like to call the the Mushroom syndrome. A syndrome where you're fed a bunch bullshit and kept in the dark which makes you easy pickings for villains. Mare isn't a Mary Sue character, however. She uses everything in her arsenal when it comes to using Maven's feelings for him to force a choice. She wants him to feel something, and if that means making him feel, well then she's done her job, now it is time to bring the whole thing down in a spectacular finish.

Everyone in this series has kept secrets from Mare. Everyone knows more about what is going on than Mare. Hell, even Cameron Cole knew more about what was happening than Mare did, which is why I was comfortable with a part of this story being told thru her narrative. Cameron Cole never backs down to anyone. She hates Cal with a passion. She wants to get her brother back even if it means she does so alone. She isn't one of The Scarlet Guard, but she fights with them because others, like Mare, have given up everything in order for others to survive. Evangeline Samos is the other character who most appeals to me in this story. Evangeline has been a character who is obviously powerful, obviously goal orientated, and obviously just as much of a pawn in a game of political machinations as Mare herself. But, Evangeline doesn't sit back and let things come to her. She works out strategy, protects those she loves, and ends up just as screwed as Mare.  

I do appreciate that the author & publisher attached a map of what is Norta, Piedmont, Lakeland, Tiraxes, and Montfort. Whenever the author mentions a certain character traveling to a certain city, I know that they mean Northeast US States, or Southeastern States, or even Western US States. I do know that much of this series takes place in what is known today's New York, with places like Syracuse and Buffalo having been changed to different names. I am not ready to get on any side of the romance choices. Mare has choices, yes, but as far as I can see, her choice lies in only one direction. A boy who she knows better than anyone else. A boy who has been pushed to the side, and given almost no storyline whatsoever. Whether or not the author choose that path, which would be amazing, is up to her. 

#Friday Review - Disruptor by Arwen Elys Dayton (Young Adult, Science Fiction) @arwenelysdayton @DelacortePress

Series: Seeker # 3
Format: Hardcover, 352 PAGES 
Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

One house will rise.
Quin has spent her life as her father’s pawn. She was trained to kill and manipulated to guarantee her family’s power. And now that she’s broken free of that life, she’s found herself trapped again, hostage to a plot that has been centuries in the making.
It’s taken generations for the pieces to come together, and finally all is in place. Shinobu’s mind has been corrupted, the Young Dread has aligned with John, and Watchers are being awakened and gathered. Now there is nothing that can stop the force of time.
But Quin will no longer be a pawn. Quin is a Seeker. She stands for light in a shadowy world. She will face the vengeance of the past and its enemies and save herself and the ones she loves, or she will die trying.

Disruptor is the third and final installment in author Arwen Elys Dayton's Seeker trilogy. If you've read the previous installments Seeker and Traveler, do go on. If not, I'll do my best not to spoil anything in my review. If I happen to put something in my review that is spoiler-y, please let me know.

For this story, the author weaves her story through the narratives of Quin Kincaid, John Hart, Shinobu MacBain, and a fourth person who gets plenty of storyline, Nott, one of the Middle Dreads watchers. Disruptor picks up right where Traveler left off. As a summary. Quin was left in a place called There. A place in-between reality. It was a betrayal of epic proportions since she trusted the person who did it. Meanwhile, Shinobu has fall fallen out of control because of the focal he wears, and finds an even dangerous person to pull his strings. 

For John, things have come a very long way. He's not the person readers met in the first book who nearly killed Quin, and was so obsessed with her, that he went to diabolical lengths to make life a living hell for her and Shinobu. That was until he met Maud, aka the Young Dread who has taken him under her wing. I have to say that I've actually come to like John, and especially Maud, for what they do over the course of this story. Maud may not fully understand John, but she knows that there is a bigger picture that still hasn't been revealed that needs to be exposed.

As Disruptor picks up, we are introduced to a new character, Dex. Dex is the one who finds Quin There and takes her on an interesting path. Dex is the one who spins quite a tale that has lasting impressions on the reader as well as Quin. Dex even also calls Quin the name of a girl he once knew. As for Quin, she has some puzzles to solve before she can find a way to help Shinobu, or even forgive John for his past aggression's against her. Those puzzles mean that readers get some pretty important insights to the beginnings of the Seekers, and those who came first. She gets more background on who developed the Seeker weapons, how the Dreads came to being as well.  

Because of Dex, and his history lessons and tours of various places Quin never knew existed, they spend a great portion of this story separated from the others. Quin previously discovered some really bad things about the Middle Dread, as well as her own father. Quin, as a seeker, has been trying hard to put the pieces together, and now with Dex, she may finally have what she needs. Quin is a fascinating character. She's a Seeker and a healer who can see the lines of electrical flow. She can manipulate the flow as well which helps save people like Dex.

I am going to say this to my followers, and authors, and everyone else. If you want to get an example of how to wrap up a series, please follow the direction that author Arwen Elys Dayton gives you. She creates a fantastic background, vivid characters, and a world that is pretty damn scary unless you understand what is happening. The questions are answered and the story wraps up with one amazing piece of action and adventure where everyone, villains, heroes, and everyone else is involved gets an opportunity at a happy ending if they choose the right path. The Epilogue is perfect. I can't tell you how awesome I felt after reading the final chapter of this book. I want to encourage others to pick up this series and hope they get the same enjoyment out of the series that I did.