Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday #Review - Now I Rise by Kiersten White #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Conqueror's Saga # 2
Format: E-Galley, 496 pages
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Now I Rise is the second installment in author Kiersten White's The Conqueror's Saga. The story is once again set to the backdrop of the era of the Ottoman Empire circa 1453 under Sultan Mehmed II aka Mehmed The Conqueror. One of my main complaints about And I Darken was the religious aspects of the story and the characters who were forced into converting against their will. Thankfully, White doesn't get bogged down with the religion this time around, but instead focuses on the character development of Lada and Radu. The story alternates chapters between Radu and Lada who has left on her own conquest. 

“He had imagined Constantinople, had wanted it for Mehmed. It had been simple and straightforward. But now he knew the true cost of things, the murky horrors of the distance between wanting something and getting it.”

Now that Lada has left him behind, Radu has Mehmed all to himself and because of it, he actually shows amazing character growth. Radu loves unconditionally, which puts him in some very awkward positions. His desire and love for Mehmed really does break the emotional bank. His marriage to Nazira is a sham, but she's still his rock. Even more so after he is later sent to Constantinople to spy on the city and she travels alongside him. Radu has had to deal with Mehmed obsession with Constantinople for years. He hasn't exactly muted that obsession, but helped it along by attempting to be part of building the Sultan's navyHe gets a first hand look at the city, and really, I think a better understanding of the people.

Radu's time in Constantinople really pulls not only on his faith, but what's right and what's wrong. There are times when Radu struggles, and this is why I really loved his development. Radu meets with several interesting characters in this book, most especially Constantine XI who's death would mark the end of the Byzantine Empire. The other happens to be a woman named Urbana of Transylvania who claims she can build a canyon the likes of which has never been seen before. Radu most interesting relationship is with Cyprian. Cyprian becomes his stalwart and friend not knowing that Radu is betraying him and the cities residents. 

“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge. Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

I am pretty sure you know by know that this series is a reimaging of Vlad the Impaler in a gender swap way that makes Vlad, Lada. Lada and her troops are having a hard time getting to Lada's ultimate goal of retaking her home and becoming Prince of WallachiaShe's betrayed, ignored, laughed at, and look down upon. She may only have a little under three dozen Janissary soldiers left, but they are pretty loyal, especially Nicolae, and Bogdan. Lada may have to make a deal with the deal himself to get what she desperately wants, and she is nothing like Radu who has skills in areas she doesn't. Lada is a character who believes in carrying a big stick, and going full throttle. 

Lada's desire of reclaiming Wallachia comes at the same time that Mehmed has stepped up his plans of conquering Constantinople. Lada, I think, has come to an interesting place in her life. Unlike Mehmed, Lada's sex gets in the way of her own conquest. She has to deal with ruling families who want to keep what they have, and take away what Lada has worked hard to gather. I adored this story because it is so intense, so dark, brutal, and historically close to the actual facts of what happened during this time period. I do hope that White goes full throttle in the next book. There is plenty to come if she intends to follow in Vlad the Impaler's path. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday #Review - The Rift Uprising by Amy S Foster (#YALIT, Science Fiction)

Series: The Rift Uprising Trilogy # 1
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA / Science Fiction

The first book in the fast-paced action-adventure, The Rift Uprising trilogy—an enthralling mix of speculative fiction and military thriller—in which a young soldier comes to question the monsters she’s trained to fight against . . . and the monsters she fights for
Seventeen-year-old Ryn Whittaker is a Citadel: an elite, enhanced soldier specially chosen to guard a Rift, a mysterious and dangerous portal to alternate Earths scientists cannot control or close. Trained from the age of fourteen, Ryn can run faster, jump farther, and fight better than a Navy SEAL—which is good when you’re not sure if a laser-wielding Neanderthal or an axe-wielding Viking is trying to make it through the Rift and into her world.
But the teenager’s military conditioning and education have not prepared her for the boy who crosses through—a confused young man, seemingly lost and alone. Because while there’s an immediate physical attraction, it’s his intelligence and curiosity that throws Ryn off balance. The stranger asks disturbing questions about the Rift that Ryn herself has never considered—questions that lead her to wonder if everything about her life and what she’s been told these past six years has been a lie. Are the Rifts as dangerous as her leaders say? Should her people really try to close them . . . or learn how to travel through them?

The Rift Uprising is the first installment in author Amy S. Foster's The Rift Uprising Trilogy. Set in a not too distant future, the story features 17-year old Ryn Whittaker. Ryn is the leader of Beta Team, a group of super-soldiers who have been trained since an early age to protect the world from invaders who show up through Rifts. Rifts are portals to an infinite number of other Earths. Rifts that manage to cobbler all sorts of strange and wondrous beings and animals that drop them on Ryn's world.

Ryn and her teammates are based out of Washington State (Bonneville Military Camp). At Fourteen, Ryn and her teammates chips, implanted in their heads, were activated. For 3 years Ryn has stood guard watching for what comes out of the Rift. You never know what may come out of the Rift. One day it might be the hated Karekins, the next it might be Vikings, the day after that it might be curious beings that could be Edward Cullen and his family. Or, if you are really lucky, you may see a unicorn or dinosaur come through.

Ryn and her fellow teammates Boone, Violet, and Henry have amazing abilities. They heal quicker, they have increased stamina, they can run longer and faster, they have eidetic memory, they learn languages quickly, and they share a huge secret that nobody outside of the ARC can understand. Their families actually believe they are attending a higher accelerated education. But, there is a downfall. They can pretty much never have sex for fear of hurting, or killing their partners thanks to a maddening psychosis known as Bloodlust.

Ryn has never once broken protocol for any reason. But, after a boy named Ezra is dropped through the rift, things change. Ezra's arrival triggers something in Ryn that leads her to start questioning everything about the Allied Rift Coalition (ARC), Rifts, Roones, (a highly evolved humanoid species that created certain technologies), the Village where Immigrants are sent and are never allowed to leave, and how she and the other Citadels are not allowed to touch anyone for fear of being swallowed up whole by the bloodlust. 

One could say that there is an instance of instalove between Ryn and Ezra. Yes, I've said how much I hate instalove. An author recently told me to think of instalove situations as though you are the adolescent whose hormones are just getting charged up. There you see a boy, or girl for that matter, who just gets your heart beating faster than the engine of a race car. Not like that has every happened to me. Nope. What? Don't believe me? :::evil grin:: The preoccupation of having sex in this book took away from my overall enjoyment of the story. 

This story is filled with references to movies and TV shows like Ender's Game, Twilight, Transformers, and Buffy the Vampire slayer. Ryn does get away with a whole lot of shenanigans in this book that others probably would have been court-martialed or worse. As this is the first book in the trilogy, there is a whole lot of name dropping, and background static. Some is necessary to understand what Ryn and her fellow Citadel members have been put through. The rest is just the line that crosses what makes this more of an adult themed book, than a young adult one.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday #Review - The Child by Fiona Barton #Thrillers #Psychological #Fiction

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 384 pages
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Genre: Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological

The author of the stunning New York Times bestseller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense. 
As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby? 
As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss. 
But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn house by house into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women and torn between what she can and cannot tell

Author Fiona Barton's The Child is her follow up to 2016's The Widow. Reporter Kate Waters, who readers met in The Widow, returns in a story that is set against the back drop of the mysterious discovery of a skeleton that is unearthed in a part of London that is going through gentrification. Named the "Building Site Baby" by nearly everyone, Kate pushes her employer, Daily Post, to allow her to investigate the story. Who was the baby? How did the baby die? Who was the mother? Who would bury a baby? For the record, this story takes place between March 20, 2012 and May 2012, with a brief closing chapter dated June 1, 2013. 

The chapters in this story are short and revolve around (4) different perspectives: Kate, Angela Irving, Emma Simmonds, and Jude Massingham. Kate takes on an apprentice this time around. His name is Joe, and his mother is a hot shot in the business. The two actually work very well together. In fact, Joe is absolutely useful, and not just a prop
the author uses to tell the story. Kate has been involved in some very sensational stories over the years which has carried her career while others have flamed out. 

This time around, she has to weave together stories and backgrounds from (3) very different women in order to solve who the Building Site Baby was. The first character who Kate meets is Angela Irving. 28 years ago, Angela's newborn baby disappeared without a trace. Even thought she now has two other children, she keeps celebrating her missing daughters birthday. Angela has never once given up hope of seeing her again. The discovery of a baby in London causes Angela to believe that her Alice has finally been found. Angela is character who I respected a whole lot. Accused of her own babies disappearance, she never once gave up hope of finding Alice. 

The next character Kate meets is Emma Simmonds nee 
Massingham. Emma is a character who has a heavy cloud hanging over her head. She has been hiding a secret for a very long time. Nobody knows. Not her husband, not her best friend, not even her mother. After hearing about a baby being discovered in the neighborhood where she once lived, she goes into a panic. She starts counting the days until she must make a choice that could change everything. Emma is tough to handle at times because of her depression, her anxiety issues, and her past that is slowly revealed.

Readers know she has a secret. We know that the secret must be something really important for her to suddenly feel as though the world is closing in on her. What, though, is her secret? I actually felt for Emma after learning about her past. It is a shock that this sort if thing is kept in the dark, and not brought out into the light. Which brings us to Jude. Kate's encounter with Jude is barely tolerable. Jude is the wild card in this story. I will say this without fear of spoiling what happened in the story....I hated Jude.

I hated that she blamed Emma for all of her troubles with certain men, and ignored Emma when her mood and temperament seemed to change overnight. I hated Jude told her own daughter to get out of the house because she was in love with a man, and her own child was a pain in the ass. I have no respect for parents kick their kids out into the streets. When all is said and done, Jude's actions were irredeemable and reprehensible. The secrets that were exposed are really painful to read about, but necessary in understanding why certain choices were made. 

This story is not fast paced by any means. It slowly burns chapter by chapter, character by character, & step by step as Kate works with others in trying to get to the bottom of who the baby really is, and why it was dumped where it was found. The question will always be asked in these sorts of stories: Will Kate's actions bring answers to the families involved, or cause further heart break, pain, and suffering? After all, not all reporters are as understanding as Kate was in putting the pieces together and working with the police to solve the mystery. I will say this in closing. The ending was bloody brilliant. I loved how this story is wrapped up, and the characters who are involved in doing so.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday #Review - The Dragon's Playlist by Laura Bickle (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Standalone
Format: Kindle, 219 pages
Release Date: June 01, 2017
Publisher: Pronoun
Source: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy > Dragons

From the author of THE HALLOWED ONES and NINE OF STARS comes a new novel blending the magical and the real…
“This is war,” the dragon said. And she believed him.
Di fled rural West Virginia to study music and pursue a bright future as a violinist. But when a mining accident nearly kills her father, she is summoned back home to support her family. Old ghosts and an old flame emerge from the past. When Di gets a job as a bookkeeper at the same mine where her father worked, she is drawn into a conflict pitting neighbor against neighbor as the mine plans an expansion to an untouched mountain.
If the mining company’s operation goes forward, there will be more at stake than livelihoods or the pollution of the land: Di has discovered a dragon lives deep within Sawtooth Mountain, and he is not happy with this encroachment upon his lair. When catastrophe strikes, Di must choose between her family’s best interests and protecting the dragon – the last surviving bit of magic in Di’s shrinking world.
In every fight, sides are chosen. And there can be no yearning for what has been left behind. 

Author Laura Bickle, best known for her Hallowed Ones, and Dark Alchemy series, returns with The Dragon's Playlist. The story is a contemporary themed novel with a rather unusual dragon who just wants to be left alone. Diamond (Di) Hoffman was away at college when her father was caught in a mine disaster. Her father, like a majority of those in her home town in West Virginia, relies heavily on the coal industry for steady jobs. 

While her father is recovering from his injuries, Di finds that she may have to stay around her hometown a bit longer than she thought. This means putting her own career as a violin soloist on the back burner. Music is very much a part of Di's life. She learned it from her grandfather and she had high hopes that her musical career would take her places she's never been or seen before. There is a release whenever Di plays her music. A release that she can't get anywhere else.

Di's music calls a Dragon named Afakos who is fascinated by her music. Afakos has made his home in the mountain and just wants to be left alone with his treasure trove of shiny things. Di starts her own investigation after taking a job with the company that her father worked for. This also means reconnecting with Jason Carroll, her ex-boyfriend whom she walked away from. The same Jason who rushed & saved her father's life.

There was something unusual about the accident. Something strange happened. Even though her father doesn't remember everything that happened, he does remember that much. It is at this point where Di finds herself conflicted. Does she save the Dragon she just met, or does she save the workers like Jason who have followed in their families footsteps in working for the mine because there was nothing else available?

Bickle does a good job in a rather short story of weighing both sides of the argument for and against coal. After Di connects with a political action protester named Will, she starts to question the reason for top leveling of mountains in order to get to the coal easier. Does this affect the drinking water in the area? Will they really reclaim the land once they are done with it, or will they move on to the next mountain, and the next one after that? Where will Afakos go if his home is destroyed? 

The Dragon's Playlist will have readers debating on the issue of coal mines, and whether or not we really need them. I won't publicly state my opinion for fear that I will once again be attacked that by those who love to scream and shout instead of having calm and peaceful discussions. There is room to move closer on both sides of the issues. It probably won't happen in my lifetime.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday #Review - Julia Defiant by @ByCatherineEgan #YALit #Fantasy @AAKnopf

Series: Witch's Child # 2
Format: E-Galley, 464 pages
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf Books
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Julia and a mismatched band of revolutionaries, scholars, and thieves have crossed the world searching for a witch. But for all the miles traveled, they are no closer to finding Ko Dan. No closer to undoing the terrible spell he cast that bound an ancient magic to the life of a small child. Casimir wants that magic will happily kill Theo to extract it and every moment they hunt for Ko Dan, Casimir s assassins are hunting them. 
Julia can deal with danger. The thing that truly scares her lies within. Her strange ability to vanish to a place just out of sight has grown: she can now disappear so completely that it s like stepping into another world. It s a fiery, hellish world, filled with creatures who seem to recognize her and count her as one of their own. 
So . . . is Julia a girl with a monster lurking inside her? Or a monster wearing the disguise of a girl?
If she can use her monstrous power to save Theo, does it matter?

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

In this story, Julia and her gang of misfits, which now includes Professor Baranyi, Mrs. Och, Frederick, Bianka, Wyn, and Theo, travel to Yongguo where the search for a man known as Ko Dan continues. Ko Dan worked a terrible spell that ended up putting part of the Book of Disruption into Theo. The book is the first written magic, and the origin of magic in the world. Something that Casimir would burn the world to the ground in order to have. 

Julia has an unusual ability. She can step into another place and disappear. This makes her the perfect spy since nobody can see her. The twist becomes where did she get this ability? Can Julia save Theo who is being hunted across the world, or will Casimir and his pet assassin Pia win when all is said and done? Also, one has to be curious and weary of who Julia really trusts in this book. There are so many twists, surprises, and down right what the hell just happen moments that keep the book flowing smoothly from page to page.

Tianshi, the capital of Yongguo, reminds me a bit of Peking in the early 19th century. There is the Heavenly City, the Imperial Gardens, and a secretive library hidden deep in the mountains. The country is run by the Empress Dowager, and Si Tan, who shows too much interest in Julia, and what she is able to do. I am curious as to Pia's intentions as well. While she came across as the ultimate villain in the previous installment, I don't think we've dug deeper into what her plans really are, and why she is drawn to helping Julia. Could she be the one ally that Julia needs to survive? 

In the end, Julia Defiant exceeded my expectations. It was much more entertaining and devious than the first book. I do look forward to book # 3 which is currently untitled while also releasing in 2018. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 68

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 - Rook by J.C. Andrijeski (SyFy)

Thursday - The Hunt by Megan Shepard (YA, SyFy)

Friday - Legion by Julie Kagawa (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - Seeker by Veronica Rossi (YA, Fantasy)

Posted @ Talk Supe Blog

Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt (Historical, Western)

*Received from NetGalley/Edelweiss*

*Received from Publisher (Finished Copies)*

Library or Amazon


Friday, June 16, 2017

Saturday #Review - Seeker (Riders #2) by Veronica Rossi #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Riders # 2
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Veronica Rossi's new fantasy adventure in the Rider series -- Seeker .

When Daryn claimed she was seeing “visions” during her sophomore year of high school, no one believed the truth. She wasn’t losing her mind, she was gaining the Sight—the ability to see the future. If she just paid attention to the visions, they’d provide her with clues and show her how she could help people. Really help them. Daryn embraced her role as a Seeker. The work she did was important. She saved lives.
Until Sebastian.
Sebastian was her first—and worst—mistake.Since the moment she inadvertently sealed him in a dark dimension with Samrael—the last surviving demon in the Kindred—guilt has plagued her. Daryn knows Sebastian is alive and waiting for help. It’s up to her to rescue him. But now that she needs the Sight more than ever to guide her, the visions have stopped.
Daryn must rely on her instincts, her intelligence, and on blind faith to lead the riders who are counting on her in search of Sebastian. As they delve into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems and where Samrael is steadily amassing power, Daryn faces the ultimate test. Will she have to become evil to destroy evil? The very fate of humankind rests in the answer.

Seeker is the second installment in Veronica Rossi's Riders duology. In the first installment in the duology Riders, we met 18-year old Gideon Blake. Gideon had just lost his father, joined the US Army to become a Ranger, died in a bizarre accident, and ended up becoming one of the incarnations of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War. The other Horsemen are Conquest (Jode), Famine (Sebastian) and Death (Marcus). We also met the girl who brought them all together in order to fight against demons known as the Kindred, Seeker Daryn Martin.

Things didn't exactly go as planned in the previous novel. The affects are still being felt some (8) months later. From the missing Sebastian, to Gideon losing his hand, to Daryn choosing to go her own way. In Seeker, Daryn takes a larger role, and one of the alternative POV's that Rossi uses to tell her story along with Gideon. Daryn lost the ability to see the future, but not her desire to bring back Sebastian from the demon realm. Daryn has been consumed by her guilt since Sebastian was pulled into another reality thanks to a demon known as Samrael. Daryn is the key to opening a portal and bringing Sebastian back. In order to bring Sebastian back, Daryn finds that she will need all the help she can get, and that is where Gideon, Jode and Marcus, now working for Natalie Cordero, come in.

Gideon is another character who has a wide variety of flexibility as a character. He's arrogant, he's a leader, he's fierce, he wears his heart on his sleeve, but he is protective of not only his fellow Horsemen, but Daryn as well whether she wants it that way or not. Gideon, not Natalie, is the real leader of this group. Gideon is more willing to take chances, and go the extra mile if it means getting Sebastian back, and paying a certain demon back for his transgressions against not only is team, but Daryn as well.

What makes this such an interesting story is Daryn, as well as the curious creation of the Shadow Realm where everything you see is subjective to your own experiences and memories. Memories that really make you stand up and pay attention to what is happening. Daryn is fierce, but isn't impervious to making silly makes. She and Gideon have a connection whether or not they will finally admit it or not. That connection may be the one thing that keeps Daryn from being bogged down with self-pity, and self-loathing for standing by and watching Sebastian dragged into the Demon Realm. 

One of the more fascinating aspects of this story is the Four Horsemen, their horses, and the weapons that they can draw. Each of them have horses that are as different, as the riders themselves. Gideon (Riot), Marcus (Ruin), Jode (Lucent) and Sebastian (Shadow). The other thing that binds the group together is the fact that in order to take up the reigns of one of the Horsemen, they all had to die in one fashion or the other. I really believe this makes for a stronger bond that keeps the group from tearing itself apart. The ending leaves zero doubt that this is the final installment in the duology. Even though there are avenues for other characters, Daryn and Gideon's story & romance have come full circle. While the ending is also pretty apparent, and there is a fair amount of teenaged angst involved, I still enjoyed this duology.

Friday #Review - Legion (Talon #4) by Julie Kagawa #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Talon # 4
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: May 4, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

The legions are about to be unleashed, and no human, rogue dragon or former dragon slayer can stand against the coming horde.

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all—dragons do not suffer human emotions—let alone the love of a human, and a former dragonslayer at that. With ex-soldier of St. George Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she’s capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against St. George and her own twin brother Dante—the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known. Talon is poised to conquer the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who will not yield.

Legion is the fourth installment in Julie Kagawa's Talon series. Legion literally picks up where Soldier left off. When I say literally, I mean that if you remember how Soldier ended, then you know how this story begins. Things look extremely bleak for one of our heroes. He's defeated the sanctimonious Patriarch of St. George in a showdown, but suffered a horrifying injury in the process. Ember and her allies tried hard to break the alliance that was revealed between Talon and St. George's. 

An alliance that has seen St. George targeting mostly Rogue dragons like Riley's group at the behest of Talon. Talon sees the current climate as the perfect opportunity to pound its chests, destroy all its enemies in one fell swoop, & rule the world unchallenged by anyone. Things really come to light in this story. From Riley having to not only save someone he's really not a fan of, but also trying to save his remaining Rogues from Talon. 

Then there is Dante who continues to annoy, and bemuse me. Dante is still a scheming, ass kisser who believes that Ember is making a fatal mistake by staying with Riley, who is a Rogue Dragon, and Garrett, who is a former member of the St. George. Dante believes in his actions. He believes in Talon. He believes he is the heir apparent to the Elder Wyrm and has a future he believes will happen regardless of what happens to Ember. One can only hope that Dante sees the light of day before he ends up as a casualty in the Talon v everyone else war.

In the meantime, Ember takes a huge step out of Riley and Garrett's shadow, and becomes her own dragon. Ember must finally make a choice that will satisfy the two halves of her soul. Dragon and Human. Whether or not this choice actually sticks, will remain to be seen. She also has to take a huge step forward and become the leader that I've been hoping for. It's time to take chances. Time to make unheard of alliances. And, finally, making Talon know that she's not a pushover, and will fight them until her dying breath, if necessary. That includes her brother who she still loves, but knows he can't be reasoned with.

I will say that I am not a fan of any sort of love triangle. Authors like Kagawa, however, have a tendency of adding them to her storylines either to torture the readers, or because she, herself, hasn't made the final choice her characters. You know what Kagawa does really well? Action scenes. The scenes in this book were bloody amazing and dark. Those are the kind of things I love to see in novels that feature Dragons, Rogues, and the things that Talon has created to fight their wars for them. 

I loved Jade, the Chinese Eastern Dragon. She has made a strong presence in this story since her arrival thankfully for Ember and her allies. Legion doesn't exactly end on a cliffhanger ending per se, but it is apparent that whatever happens from this point in the series, will bleed over into the final novel called Inferno. Everything now hinges on Ember's choices and whether or not she can find a way to survive Talon's machinations. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday #Review - The Hunt (The Cage #2) by Megan Shepherd #YALit #Science Fiction

Series: The Cage # 2
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

The Hunt is the second installment in author Megan Shepherd's The Cage Trilogy. The story picks up with Cora Mason in a cage after she and the others failed in their attempt to get off the station. Cora has been learned that humans were taken from Earth for their own good. The Kindred actually believe they are humanities saviors. They've been told that Earth no longer exists, and that humans like Cora are the key to saving her race, or raising them to the same level as (4) other races.  

But, Humans are treated as though they are animals by the Kindred overseers who run the space station. Cora is moved into a menagerie called The Hunt. The Hunt is a safari type place where animals are hunted daily and then healed so they can be hunted another day. Cora is told that she has to sing, while also working with Cassian to bring out her full telepathic abilities. Cassian hopes that Cora will be able to participate and win in something called The Gauntlet. Cora also faces a major test when she is targeted to be hunted like one of the Menagerie's animals. 

Meanwhile, Lucky is also moved to the Menagerie where he becomes an animal wrangler. Lucky has since moved on with his affections for Cora. He knows that her heart in elsewhere, and tries to make something out of the situation he finds himself in. In another part of the station, a very pregnant Nok and Rolf find themselves living in a doll house where they are watched constantly by a overlord who has some major plans for the baby.

Where is Leon you ask? Well, Leon, the only one who did manage to escape, has managed to hook up with a Mosca named Bonebreak who claims that any enemy of the Kindred, is a friend of his. He's also a black market dealer, so, there is room to say he and Leon are perfect partners. I dare say that Mali, who ends up being a safari driver in The Hunt, is the character mostly left out of the equation. There is only one person that matters to her, and that person is in a place she has no access to. She be the only character who really doesn't have a major role in the development of this story. Perhaps when all is said and done, Leon and Mali will end up connecting like Cora and Cassian.

The Hunt is once again told in the perspectives of Cora, Lucky, Leon, Mali, & Rolf. It should come as no surprise that Cora is the primary character in this story. Her abilities outweigh most of the other characters, but I would be remiss in saying that you should not ignore Lucky, Leon, or Rolf who is a pure genius. They may not be primary characters, but they are important nonetheless. Leon is the character who impressed me the most. He takes on a larger role than before, and has the access & freedom to things the others don't have. Thanks to Leon, things actually get done while Cora and the others face their own brands of hell.