Saturday, January 21, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed & Bagged # 47


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!

Quote of the Week:
"You know what they say. Every dog has a few fleas." 

A fairly interesting week for reading, and life itself. I'm actually 2 weeks ahead on reading, but very behind on reviewing. Hope you find something you like!

Have a great weekend!
Shelley

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Steele City Blues by Karen Greco (UF, Romance)

Tuesday - Sixteen by Jen Estes (YA, SyFy)

Wednesday - Oracle by Kelly Meding (SyFy)


Friday - Magonia by Maria Dahvana (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes (Cozy Mystery)

*Received from Library, Publishers, NetGalley*









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Friday, January 20, 2017

#Saturday Review - A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes #Cozy #Mystery @tonyakappes11 @HarperCollins

Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries # 5
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: December 27th 2016
Publisher: Witness
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Cozy, Mystery


Emma Lee Raines sees dead people
Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear, and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl—trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.
There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost—solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over.
But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates on her own, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.



A Ghostly Reunion is the Fifth installment in author Tonya Kappes' Ghostly Southern Mysteries. Protagonist Emma Lee Raines is an Betweener. She sees, talks to, and hears dead people who have been murdered. Outside of her job at Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, which she now runs solo after her sister Charlotte left for greener pastures, it is her job to solve the mystery of what happened to them so that they can move on to the next phase of existence. 

But, that doesn't compare to having her 10th High School Reunion in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky which she has organized. Especially when her nemesis Jade Lee Peel comes to town and upsets the balance by getting herself killed in Grandmother Zula Fae Raines' Inn. Jade is the bad girl who did all she could do to make Emma Lee's life miserable. From all outwards appearances, nothing has changed. Jade is either very insecure about her popularity, or she is really that awful. There might be those who think that Jade needs a bit of comeuppance. 

But, who would have thought that it would be Emma Lee who has to work with Jade to find out who cancelled her contract? As Emma Lee and Jade work together, as Emma Lee goes through a very long list of possible suspects, including almost all of her friends, she realizes that things aren't necessarily always as they appear. Especially when it comes to Jade and her obviously high maintenance lifestyle. But, who would hold such a grudge against Jade to want to "fire" her?

I started this series not that long ago, and find myself intrigued by where it is going from here. Especially with the way the author blindsides us at the end of the book. I, unfortunately, have missed out on books 2, & 3, but have just purchased A Ghostly Murder a short time ago, and have A Ghostly Mortality in Que to read. I never quite understood the relationship between Emma Lee and her sister Charlotte, and in this book, the relationship kind of over-shadows Emma Lee's investigation. I dare say that I do have to go back to the previous installments so I can get caught up before finishing book # 6. 

Ever since a plastic Santa hit Emma Lee in the head, folks in Sleepy Hollow have called her condition Funeral Trauma which gives Emma plenty of opportunity to act any way she wants.  Let's get to the other reasons I love this series. I love Emma Lee's hometown. It is everything I enjoy about southern small towns. I love Emma's quirky grandmother who is the one of the towns gossip queens. I love her relationship with Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, especially since he knows that she can see things and hear things that he can't. He has never judged her. I love Emma's friends who are wonderfully lovable and fun to follow along with.





#Friday Review - Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley #YA #Fantasy @MARIADAHVANA @HarperCollins

Series: Magonia # 1
Format: Hardcover, 309 pages
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins  
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: YA, Science Fiction


Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?




Magonia is the first installment in author Maria Dahvana Headley's Magonia series. 16-year old Aza Ray Boyce has a rare disease called Azaray Syndrome. Yep, it's actually named after her since it's so rare. Since an early age, Aza has lived under the cloud that she will die one day, and maybe that day will be tomorrow. Her best friend, 16-year old Jason Kerwin, is the only person who hasn't turned his back on her. In fact, Jason is allowed to accompany her to various places where she knows she has to wear masks.

He also knows every possible drill and emergency procedure should Ava go into distress & code. Things become rather strange, when Ava sees something in the sky. Was it a hallucination, or did she really see ships in the sky? One could say that this might be an instance of seeing UFO's. Then the voices begin. Then Jason tells her about a place called Magonia where strange beings actually live on ships in the sky. Seeking shelter in her own bedroom, Ava sees a whole flock of different birds, and they seem to be interested in her.

Stay with me, because that isn't even the weirdest part. The weirdest part is when a bird flies into her mouth, and ends up in her chest which causes Ava to seize. The bird also seems to be talking to her. What? You heard me. This chain of events ends with Ava dying, & waking up on a ship with strange creatures looking at her. What's amazing is that Ava is no longer having issues with breathing, nor is she on death's waiting list. There are other changes as well. 

The sky is a place where there are a whole lot of new things for Ava to discover, including the fact that she has a mother, also Captain of the ship she wakes up on, and that she was taken 16 years ago & dropped off with downers. Ava experiences a new world where flying whales, & pirates, & storm sharks are real, & dangerous. Where humans, aka downers, are the enemy because of their destruction of planet earth's resources. Where a prophecy may indicate that Ava will save Magonia from dying. It is a place where she has to learn to live an entirely different lifestyle. She also has an ethologidion, Dai, who is supposed to help her sing, and who also gives her power. 

While Ava is waking up to a whole new reality, Jason has been suffering. But, after coming face to face with his own brand of craziness, he goes on a path of collecting everything he can about Magonia, and those who live in the sky. Dare I say that I like Jason even if he was a bit on the strange side? Even if he wore an alligator suite to a funeral? Ok, yes. But, he's also the one person in Ava's life that doesn't try to take something for her, or put her into a situation that can have consequences for everyone.

I adore originality. I adore new mythology and diverse characters who aren't human. I really, really do. I would rather read something original, than have someone say this book is based on someone else's idea. I love the basis for this story, and the world building, and the characters, and how Ava struggles with understanding how different she really is from her best friend Jason. This story may be a bit on the strange side, but who cares? Strange is awesome! Again, I say, I love Jason. I love what he does over the course of this book to find Ava again like he promised her. 

I have already received a copy of the sequel to this series called Aerie, and will be reading that book shortly. Thanks to HarperCollins for granting me early access. I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.





Thursday, January 19, 2017

#Thursday Review - Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter #YALit, #Mystery @OfficiallyAlly @Scholastic

Series: Embassy Row # 3
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery


THE PRINCESS IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE PRINCESS.
Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed . . . or so everyone thought.
Now Grace Blakely knows the truth:
There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution — which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.
There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.
If she wins, she will inherit a throne.
And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.



Take the Key and Lock Her Up is the third and final installment in author Ally Carter's Embassy Row trilogy. 200 years ago, there was a coup and Adrian King Alexander's family was murdered. But, in the chaos, another baby, Amelia, was smuggled out of the castle, and protected by The Society. The Society is a group of women who have seen regimes come and and dictators fall over their one thousand years of existence.

They hid the baby among their own members, while keeping one of the longest held secrets from being exposed which would have put Amelia's line in jeopardy. Amelia grew up, and her timeline survived. But, then Caroline Blakely picked at a wound that should have been left alone. It upset the apple cart that could bring down the Adrian monarchy, and send shock waves across Europe. Something the Society has tried to avoid at all costs to avoid. 

16-year old Grace Blakely picked up where her mother left off, and has discovered things that have put her life in jeopardy. But, curiosity and getting to the truth is in her blood. Because of her actions, Grace, her brother Jamie, and her friend Alexei, who is also wanted for murder, went on the lam. All because Grace & Jamie are descendants of Amelia. Grace later goes on a solo mission to find answers to what her mother discovered, and a meeting with one of her mother's friends who may have the answers Grace needs to live. This also puts Grace in the most dangerous place possible where trusting anyone will get you killed. Adrian Castle.

This novel is pure craziness. Grace has a martyr complex that actually drove me batty at times. She believed that because some of her actions may have had dire consequences, she needs to do something even more dangerous things. She still doesn't consider herself "healed" after her ordeal 3 years ago. Grace does eventually call on her friends Alexei, Rose, Noah, Megan & Dominic for assistance. Especially Rose and Megan who are more clued in to what is happening around Adria. With a 200 year old mystery hanging over her head, and the royal family of Adrian, most notably Princess Ann seeking to control her future, Grace's actions may be considered a bit overly heroic. But, in the end, her ultimate choice is one I can definitely understand and stand behind.   




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#Reviewed by Gizmo - Oracle by Kelly Meding #Science Fiction @KellyMeding

Series: The Project Files # 1
Format: Kindle, 297 pages
Release Date: July 18, 2016
Publisher: Smedge Press
Source: Amazon
Genre: Science Fiction


Dr. Dean Frey is a man of science. His lifelong desire to create a better future for mankind has led him to the prestigious, and highly mysterious, Wilderness Institute of Scientific Research & Technology, as the head of their Robotics Engineering department. Building on the research and designs of others before him, Dean’s own genius culminates in the successful creation of Anthony—the first fully-automated, free-thinking android prototype. And now Wilderness wants to sell Anthony to the military.

Unwilling to allow his achievement to become weaponized, Dean reaches out to a former Wilderness employee with the resources to help him steal Anthony and relocate them both to safety. He’s put into contact with the very secretive Nick and Olivia, who ask for one simple thing in return: trust us, no matter what you see or hear. Blind trust isn’t in Dean’s cautious nature, but he has no other choice.

For telekinetic Olivia, rescuing a fellow Psion from a life of imprisonment and experimentation is one of her favorite things. Being paid is nice, but she’ll do the job for free, if it means giving Wilderness the finger. When Olivia’s reclusive mentor solicits her and her telepathic partner Nick’s help in smuggling a very special Project out of Wilderness, they jump at the chance to infiltrate their former home and do some internal damage to the institute that created them.
With their combined knowledge of the facility, breaking Anthony out of Wilderness should have been easy—but Olivia learned a long time ago to never underestimate her enemies, or the lengths they’ll go to retrieve what’s theirs. And this time, the price for stealing the Project may be more than she’s willing to pay.




Oracle is the first installment in author Kelly Meding's The Project Files duology. The duology features an on-the-run scientist, a telepath/telekinetic duo who fights the good fight against a major power corporation, an android prototype, 
and enough action, adventure and humorous banter to entertain any and all readers. 

Olivia Gellar and Nick Patterson each have axes to grind against the Wilderness Institute of Research & Technology. Years ago, they were brutally taken away from their families and brought to Wilderness as projects. After a bit of help escaping, they've become specialists in retrieving Lost Projects. Olivia is able to manipulate metal and magnetic fields, Nic can sense psychic presences, and manipulate thoughts. Olivia is able to use kinetic energy, while Nick uses telepathy.

They are perfect partners because they have mutual experiences, similar losses, and pure hatred for Wilderness. Nick & Olivia's goals are to find others like them, and help them understand that their powers are a gift, not a curse. Their second goal is to permanently stop Wilderness from breeding a whole new generation of kids that they can use for nefarious intentions. Olivia and Nick have avoided being recaptured by Wilderness, Dr. Ian Wallace, and Gary Mitchell, one of their former classmate, for 18 years. 

18 years of a truce that has held as long as each side stays in their own corners, and one side leaves the only person to be allowed to walk away from Wilderness alone. That truce is about to be broken. Dr. Dean Frey works for Wilderness as Head of their Robotics Engineering Department. Dean does not like the direction his project, named Anthony, is heading. (Anthony is a self-aware, fully functioning intelligent robotic humanoid.) But, when you work for Wilderness, you must give your full loyalty and trust to Wilderness no matter what. There is no leaving, or escaping. There is only death for those who try to leave. 

And yet, Frey remarkably does just that. His goal is to find the one man who was allowed to walk away from Wilderness, and ask him for help in retrieving Anthony. That man is Benjamin Younger, the mentor of Nick & Olivia. When Frey shows up on his doorstep, Ben knows that he can't just sit back and ignore what his former employer has been up to. He must make a choice. That choice is to send Frey to meet with Olivia and Nick, and find a way to retrieve the project known as Anthony and keep it from being used as a weapon.

I loved the Dreg City series, and was sad to see it end, but I really liked Oracle. Oracle is a fun story filled with characters you can connect to, action, adventure, and no vampires, werewolves, fae, or any shifters of any kind. It is Nick & Olivia who own this series, but it is characters like Anthony and Jessica who give it a bit more depth. Anthony is such an interesting character, while Jessica is still a wild card who we haven't uncovered her actual worth yet. I also liked Matthias who is an unknown to Wilderness, but a fantastic character who has an ability that will blow you away. Frey is a character who I hope grows into his role as the only human without abilities in this Scooby Doo group. 

I do know that the second part of this duology, Lazarus, is available on Amazon. Perhaps I shall have to pick it up and see how Meding wraps up her mini-series. There is a whole lot more to look forward to I think.





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Sixteen by Jen Estes #YALit #Science Fiction @jenestesdotcom @CuriosityQuills

Series: The Dreamwalker Diaries # 2
Format: Kindle 
Release Date: January 17th 2017
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Six months ago, Ashling Campbell’s life was good. Okay, so the sleep deprivation sucked, but that’s what happens when you’re murdered by bloodthirsty demons on a nightly basis via freaky supernatural nightmares. That’s why she stepped up to her calling as a dreamwalker. But if she’d known that saving her town meant giving up everyone she loved, she’d have let that call go straight to voicemail.

She wants another chance. Just one. And the key to that chance lies with finding the mysterious stranger who disappeared shortly after her life went to hell. Her new mission is to dreamwalk again, or die trying.
The Jumlin wants another chance too. Just one. And the key to that chance lies with finding the weird sophomore who showed up just before he could summon hell on earth. His new mission is to stop the line of dreamwalkers, by killing just one – a girl that seems all too eager to die.
If Ash’s plan is to succeed, she’ll have to outsmart the immortal demon, piece together her thorny family tree, deal with a friend’s untimely return, and pass her driver’s test – all before she turns… SIXTEEN.



Sixteen is the second installment in author Jen Estes' The Dreamwalker Diaries. 16-year old Ashling (Ash) Campbell is a sophomore at Billings HS in Montana. She once believed that if you died in your dreams, you died in real life. In Fifteen, Ash discovered that she is someone who is extremely rare. She is a dreamwalker. She can travel to the future, & arrive in an older version of herself. She even learns about a bleak future where she joins a rebellion and fights against evil.  

Thanks to her extraordinary efforts 6 months ago, Walker Smith, aka the Bad Guy, aka Jumlin Demon Spawn who was responsible for Ash's horrific loss, was stopped in his tracks. He plans for Billings was stopped, and his one piece that could have made Smith win, was taken off the board, and sent away. Ash is still suffering from that loss, and the betrayal of her best friend Tate Witko who left her behind to run away with her foster sister Nadette.

Ash has tried a number of different avenues to time travel back to the day of the incident, but her attempts have landed her in hot water with the law, and with her surrogate Aunt Levaughn. Ash realizes that something drastic needs to be done since the next celestial event that will allow her to Dreamwalk, won't happen for another 15 years. Her search for Dr. Robert Dietz, who she met in Fifteen, ends up with some very interesting revelations, and an emotional visit to the past, and a plan to ensure that Smith never gets the chance to hurt anyone Ash knows again.

There are several parts of this story that stood out for me. The first was the prologue which took readers back in time to the very first Dreamwalker. I liked this because it puts Ash's and her fellow Dreamwalker's purpose into perspective, and also adds a diverse addition to the series. The second is that Ash has a bit of a romance angle going on in this book, and it is not who you would have thought. In fact, her love interest isn't afraid of getting his hands dirty in order to help Ash with her counter punch to Walker Smith. 

The character I most feel for is Skylar Smith. She's Ash's friend, and one that has done whatever she can to make Ash feel like she's necessary in the face of antagonism from Skylar's rich friends. But, there are spoiler issues that I can't nor won't discuss with regards to Skylar. One can hope that she lands on her feet, and gets the payback she deserves. I also love Aunt Levaughn for simplistic reasons. Here is a woman who is now mayor, who is guardian to Ash, who has to watch as Ash unravels, and then she finds herself being part of Ash's new demon hunters. 

I do hope that the author and publisher releases the third installment within the next year. We have waited two long years for this novel to be released, and even though it doesn't
disappoint, one can not know where they will be in a year, or even if they will still be alive by then.






Monday, January 16, 2017

#Blog Tour/Review - Steele City Blues by Karen Greco #Urban Fantasy #Romance @karenThegreco @RoxanneRhoads

Series: Hell's Belle
Format: Kindle
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Source: Bewitching Book Tours
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance


Blood Ops leader Dr. O is chained in the bowels of Steele City, the state’s maximum security prison, and the clock is ticking for Nina and Frankie to bust him out.

Now that supernatural creatures are out of the closet, Providence is descending into an apocalyptic wasteland. With the abrupt shut down Blood Ops, Nina and Frankie are forced to rely on questionable allies to battle Leila, a powerful witch/vampire hybrid hell bent on creating an indestructible supernatural army. She also happens to be Nina’s mom. 

Alliances are tested and relationships fractured as Nina and her band of supernatural crime fighting misfits are pushed to the breaking point. 

Steele City Blues, the third book in the Hell’s Belle urban fantasy series, is high-octane, action-packed, cinematic story by Karen Greco that fans of The Hollows and the Cassandra Palmer series will love. Join the adventure!






Steele City Blues is the third installment in author Karen Greco's Hell's Belle series. It is a series set in an alternative Providence, Rhode Island. It is important to read these novels in order, or you will be lost. Steele City Blues is a continuation of the Tainted Blood story. The series features half-witch, half-vampire Nina Martinez. Nina works for an organization called Blood Ops. Blood Ops is an elite team who quietly hunts down rogue supernaturals and puts them down.

But, after the stunning conclusion to Tainted Blood
and the shocking appearance of Nina's supposedly dead mother Leila, Blood Ops is in disarray. Nina, her 700 year old vampire partner Frankie Montefeltro & her best friend Darcy (Banshee), have found themselves hiding while trying to make plans to rescue Dr. O.  Dr. Lochlan O'Malley (Druid) is the Head of Blood Ops, but is currently sitting in a jail cell in a place called Steele City after Leila exposed humans to the fact that supernaturals live among them. 

Yet another member of the team, who I still have reservations about, is FBI Agent Max Deveroux. Max, Nina's ex, made a deal with a demon and became something that was once wiped out of existence; Berserker. The reason I am up in the air about Max, is that I believe with all my heart that Frankie is more suitable for a variety of reasons when it comes to romance. Yes, it was fine when Nina and Max were sex buddies for awhile, but Max has some issues to deal with. Max is also a dreary sort of sod who mopes around with little if anything to add these days. Makes me want to club him in the head with a dead fish.

One of the more important storylines of this series is Nina's dual identity and her heritage. Her witch abilities have recently manifested, and they are out of control which makes for some humorous situations. As a witch, she is far behind where she should be. That's not due to her Aunt Babette (Babe) who tried to get Nina up to speed after Hell's Belle where her witch powers came to light. Nina is just a better vampire than she is a witch. She's faster, she heals quicker, she has more agility, and a taste for blood read meat.

The sudden arrival of Nina's powerful grandfather who was stuck in Mexico for almost 30 years, makes things even more twisted to the point where you really have to ask yourself what his real reason for being in Providence is, and why now after all this time? His actions towards Nina can be thought of as both antagonistic, and helpful, but he also is brisk, dangerous, and his relationship with demon mayor Ami Bertrand is curious to the point where you know there are other secrets waiting to be uncovered. 

Whether or not this is the final installment in the series, I have to say that I am not disappointed in having read this series. Nina has made leaps and bounds as a character. I loved her relationship with Casper the Ghost, who was once a witch. Nina and Casper are quite the pairing, and the antics between the two gives a bit more depth & fun to the story. I loved that the romance is sussed out to the point where I can sit back and actually smile, and not groan for having the author make the wrong choice. The bad thing about this book, was the bureaucratic horse hockey, and the arrival of a new character who tosses a hand grenade into Nina & Frankie's plans. Personally, I would have preferred this character to suddenly find themselves at the mercy of Leila. But, alas, I can't get too blood thirsty.


Previous Installments

 



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Karen Greco is originally from Rhode Island and loves hot wieners from New York System, but can't stand coffee milk. She studied playwriting in college (and won an award or two). After not writing plays for a long time, a life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she decapitates characters with impunity. Steele City Blues is the third book in the Hell’s Belle series, after Hell’s Belle (the first) and Tainted Blood (number two). She writes contemporary romance for a small press under the pen-name Jillian Sterling, and has a day job in entertainment publicity.









 
Tour giveaway
10 copies of the book in Kindle or Epub format.