Saturday, February 17, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves # 274 - Week Ending 02/17/2018

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Thanks for Stopping by!

Short and sweet this week!
One unexpected book from Wednesday Books,
3 unexpected approvals via NetGalley!
Thank you, Curiosity Quills Press, St. Martin's Press, Flatiron Books!

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Shadow Hunt by Melissa F. Olson (Urban Fantasy)

Tuesday - The Defiant by Lesley Livingston (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - Iron Gold by Pierce Brown (Science Fiction)

Thursday - The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D VIA Publisher, NetGalley*

Friday, February 16, 2018

Book #Review - Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine, Ann Aguirre #YALit #SyFy

Series: Honors # 1
Format: E-Book, 480 pages
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

The first book in a daring new sci-fi series from New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre! In Earth’s distant future, a savvy young criminal is recruited to join the Honors space program, which sends humans into the far reaches of the galaxy aboard sentient spaceships called the Leviathan, only to discover that dangerous secrets are hidden amongst the stars.
Zara Cole has been in and out of New Detroit’s rehab facilities for treatment of her antisocial disorder. There’s no adjusting Zara’s attitude, though. A painful past has made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in the Zone instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.
Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead, Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned to along with fellow Honor Beatriz, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time, along with a devotion she’s never experienced before. Yet nothing—not her Honors training or her street smarts—could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Honor Among Thieves is the first installment in co-authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre's Honors series. Set in a distant future (2142) where 100 years before, Aliens called Leviathans arrived in time to save the crew of the International Space Station from certain death. Since arriving, Leviathans have solved lots of problems for humankind. It gave humanity cleaner water, food, & great leaps in medical advancements. In return, the Leviathans require 100 volunteers a year to ride along with a cultural and scientific exchange. 

Zara Cole is the main protagonist for this story. Zara lives in New Detroit, the Lower 8, where she is basically a thief who steals in order to survive. While her own mother and sister have made a new life for themselves on Mars, Zara has absolutely no desire to live in any paradise. After stealing from the wrong man with a long reach, and trying to hide out in a last chance facility, Zara is shockingly chosen to be one of the 100 volunteers for this years crop. She is also the youngest ever chosen which in itself is remarkably curious to the point where you begin to search for Easter Eggs that will explain why Zara was really chosen.

Meanwhile, there is another character who is just as important to the story and just as likable. Nadim is one of the Leviathans who is looking forward to completing its mission so that it can go on its own Journey like others before it. But, Nadim has met his match with Zara. Zara has the ability to connect with her alien ship Nadim on an emotional level. The more comfortable they are with each other, the more certain boundaries that are supposed to exist between them begin to fall away. 

The more dangerous the mission becomes, the more Nadim, Zara, and Beatrix, an Honor from Brazil, becomes glued together in a united front against unlikely distractions. Some will call this the romance angle of the story. Ick! Sorry, not going to jump on that stage. As the team grows closer, they are even more determined to complete a successful mission so that they are not replaced.  

Strong and unreservedly rebellious, Zara is a complex heroine that readers will love to root for as she fights for her one chance at safety. Yes, these books take place mostly in outer space. And yes, some of the main characters are aliens. But the world building and writing are very accessible, with a story fast paced and supported by well-drawn relationships, which will appeal to mainstream readers as well as genre-based fans. Fast-paced prose, sparkling characters, and unique details that bring the imagined futuristic world to life make for a gripping adventure that will appeal to both avid sci-fi fans and readers new to the genre. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book #Review - The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Ravenspire # 2
Format: E-Book, 416 pages
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

A dark epic fantasy inspired by The Prince and the Pauper and the fairy tale The False Prince about a determined prince who must fight in a gladiator-style competition to unseat the impostor who’s taken his place. The third book in the New York Times bestselling Ravenspire series by C. J. Redwine.
Javan Najafai, the crown prince of Akram, has spent the last ten years at school, far away from his kingdom. He’s been eagerly awaiting his return home to his ailing father, but his journey there goes dangerously wrong. A mysterious impostor has taken his place—and no one will believe Javan is the true prince.
After barely escaping the impostor’s hitmen, Javan is thrown in the most dangerous prison in his kingdom—Maqbara. The only way to gain an audience with the king and reveal the truth is to fight his way out in the prison’s twice-yearly tournament, which pits inmates against a coterie of the deadliest creatures in the world.
The one person who can help him is Sajda, a strong and secretive girl who has been enslaved by Maqbara’s warden since she was a child. Working with Sajda might be the only way Javan can escape alive—but she’s hiding something.
Together, Javan and Sajda will have to outwit the dangerous warden, outfight hundreds of deadly creatures, and outlast the murderous prisoners intent on killing Javan before he can win—in order to fight for their freedom, and take down the impostor once and for all.

The Traitor Prince, by author C.J. Redwine, is the third installment in the Ravenspire series. If you have read the previous two installments, The Shadow Queen and The Wish Granter, you know that the author has used a different set of characters while also recreating certain folktales. Apparently, The Traitor Prince is based on the novel called The False Prince and The Prince and the Pauper. The Traitor Prince doesn't have just one, or two narratives, it actually has three plus plenty of villains for your reading pleasure. 

Prince Javan has dedicated his training and achievements to his mother who passed away. Unfortunately for Javan, there are others who would like to see him removed from the picture entirely. After avoiding an assassination attempt, a dragon shifter, and running into a boy who is attempting to pass as him, Javan ends up in Maqbara prison where he will have to fight not only for his freedom, but to keep breathing. Maqbara prison is the place where the Warden pushes the inmates into fighting in a gladiator like environment against all sorts of bizarre monsters. In order to survive, Javan must find a way to secure allies, and avoid being cannon fodder for those who to replace the king with someone else.

Sadja is, I dare say, the most interesting character in this entire book. I liked Javan. I did. I understood his struggles and his determination and was heart broken at one point in the story after he tries so hard to return home. However, Sadja is a curious sort. She is a dark elf who works for the Warden in Maqbara prison. She is responsible for feeding the monsters who are brought to the prison where inmates are bet on by the aristocrats. While Javan is genuinely a nice guy, Sadja isn't afraid of anyone. She's badass and can really stand up for herself without anyone else helping her.

I shall briefly summarize the main villain of the story, Rahim. Born to a mother who lives in a desert, a father who refused to acknowledge him until it suited his pleasure. Rahim isn't a nice guy no matter how much you may want to feel a bit of emotion for. There is a whole lot to think about when it comes to the parental aspects of Rahim's mother and father. Once could gather that Rahim didn't much care for his mother or that he has had to scrap for everything. But, see, there are other characters like Sadja who have no desire to remove a king or kill a prince and take his place. 

I have noticed that the author tends to introduce characters for her next book. I, unfortunately, must have missed it because I couldn't tell you who will be featured in the apparent fourth book in this series. This is a book that is action filled whenever Javan is the narrator. Loved the gladiator like environment, plus the appearance of Hansel and Gretel just to make things even more twisted. I've never read the original The Prince and the Pauper, so I can't do a detailed comparison of how similar the plot is to The Traitor Prince. 

I can say, however, that Redwine likes to twist her own story without sticking to a clear connection between the two stories. This story reads as a standalone even though Javan and others mention other characters from distant lands like Ravenspire. The romance is pretty muted. Javan and Sadja have a whole lot of other things to worry about than smashing lips and acting like teenagers at the prom. I'm not a huge fan of characters who use religion as a crutch. I won't judge that the author chooses to do so with Javan. To each their own. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book #Review - Iron Gold by Pierce Brown #Science Fiction

Series: Red Rising Saga # 4
Format: Hardcover, 624 pages
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Publisher: Del Rey, Random House
Source: Library
Recommended By: 
Genre: Science Fiction / Action & Adventure

Honor and betrayal fuel a caste-shattering revolution in the action-packed new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Red Rising trilogy—the epic next chapter in Pierce Brown’s “haunting space opera.” —Entertainment Weekly

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph.

Story Locale: Space; future

Series Overview: RED RISING: Darrow, a lowly Red, leads a revolution to upend a color-coded Society ruled by the nefarious Gold overlords. He infiltrates their secret schools and warring families, rending Society asunder from within using the very tools of Gold oppression and hegemony. Fighting against an overwhelming enemy with the help of newfound friends and loved-ones Darrow’s efforts are finally rewarded with open revolution, as the Rising emerges from the shadows to break the chains and live for more.

Iron Gold, by author Pierce Brown, is the fourth installment in the Red Rising Saga. However, this is apparently the first installment in an entirely new arc. Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown. Iron Gold picks up TEN years after the ending of Morning Star.

"Death begets death begets death" is one way of describing what happens in this book. From the onset, we are reintroduced to Darrow, who is once again doing what he does best. Trying to bring down the planet Mercury which is under one of Darrow's main adversaries. But, times haven't exactly been easy for him. It is the tenth year of war and Darrow no longer believes that peace can be achieved. Not even when is own wife is the leader of the Republic. 

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society which separated people by colors like Gold, Red, etc. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever: A young Red girl named Lyria flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined. An ex-soldier named Ephraim broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life. And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

This is a book that is filled with darkness, betrayal, war and violence, and an entirely new set of characters who have waited their time before confronting the man, Darrow, who destroyed most of their lives. One could say that Darrow is his own worst enemy more times than not. This causes him undue heart aches with his wife, his son, and his former allies who now see him as someone who needs to be retired one way or the other.

Two of the three new characters really didn't nudge me in one direction of the other. Lyria and Ephraim both get caught up in things that see their lives fundamentally changed. Iron Gold is definitely a book large in scope, page count, and a more complicated plot and character development. I am hesitant in saying that Brown didn't really need to continue this series. If he had just left Darrow alone to his own devices, we wouldn't have the sort of ending that Brown leaves readers to stew on.

One could say that Darrow is still the main protagonist, but splitting up the airtime among Lyria, Lysander, and Ephraim gave the book a much broader scope. Having Ephraim, a former Grey resistance fighter, and Lyria, in particular, was great because it gave us a glimpse back into the lower reaches of the society. Author Brown also addresses those left over by Darrow's war. Those who have faced consequences from just being a certain color. There are those like Lyria who truly do stand for those who were lost in the cracks of Darrow's war. Whether or not we will see any resolution towards that aspect remains cloudy at best.

I shall repeat what others have said. While you probably can get away with reading this as a standalone, I would not recommend it. As I've said before, it doesn't make sense to jump into a series at this point without knowing what happened from the beginning and who the characters that Darrow calls friends and allies. There is way too much history and in order to understand Darrow and others, you need to know why they matter to you, the reader. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book #Review - The Defiant by Lesley Livingston #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Valiant # 2
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The darling of the Roman Empire is in for the fight of her life in this lush sequel to the acclaimed historical fantasy The Valiant.

Be brave, gladiatrix…And be wary. Once you win Caesar’s love, you’ll earn his enemies’ hate.

Fallon was warned.

Now she is about to pay the price for winning the love of the Roman people as Caesar’s victorious gladiatrix.

In this highly anticipated sequel to THE VALIANT, Fallon and her warrior sisters find themselves thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart - and her love for Roman soldier Cai - but the very heart of the ancient Roman Empire.

When dark treachery and vicious power struggles threaten her hard-won freedom, the only thing that might help the girl known as Victrix save herself and her sisters is a tribe of long-forgotten mythic Amazon warriors.

The only trouble is, they might just kill her themselves first.

The Defiant is the second but not last installment in author Lesley Livingston's The Valiant series. They call Fallon "Victrix" now. Victory. But winning the highest honor ever bestowed upon a gladiatrix in Rome has earned Fallon more deadly enemies outside the arena than she ever faced within it. And it is those dearest to Fallon who will pay the price for her success. Now, Fallon and her warrior sisters of Ludus Achilles Academy are thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon's heart - and her love for Roman soldier Cai - but the very heart of the Roman Empire.

Let me summarize. It has been a year since Fallon arrived in the heart of the Roman Republic, first a slave, and later as a gladiatrix for Julius Caesar the woman who she thought was long dead. She fought and received a ceremonial sword of freedom which she gave to someone else. Probably not the smartest move Fallon has done up to this point. Especially since Julius Caesar hasn't freed Fallon and her gladiatrix sisters who fight for Ludus Achilles. Then the unthinkable happens.

While a rival female gladiatrix academy is visiting, Pontius Aquilla aka the Collector, makes his move on Sorcha, Rome's Lady Achillea. This moves brings back some of Fallon's most hated enemies who would do anything to see her dead. This sends Fallon, Caius Antonius Varro, Quintus, his second in command, and Fallon's sister gladiatrix on a mission to save their academy, those left behind in their rush to escape, as well as Fallon's sister Sorcha. 

One can definitely say that this story spends a whole lot of time as fugitives. Fallon herself is supposed to be the leader of a supposed rebellion against Rome. Rome has a short memory when it comes to rebellions. In fact, Fallon is being compared to Spartacus. Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator who, along with the Gauls Crixus, Gannicus, Castus, and Oenomaus, was one of the escaped slave leaders in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. 

What makes this a pretty decent read, is the new characters that are introduced. Even though they are secondary, or even tertiary characters for the most part, I believe that we haven't seen the last of them. I also respect the way that Fallon has become the default leader of Ludus Achilles Academy while Sorcha claims to never again want to fight. Fallon's guts and determination override any hesitancy one might have at poking fun at Sorcha. I also appreciated that the sisters stand shoulder to shoulder when all is said an done, but not alone. Nope. They have Cai, and Charon who you met in the first book. I have to also say that I adored Quint and his fondness for the hard core Elka. In today's world, Quint would probably be called dozens of names for chasing hard after someone like Elka. 

For those who are curious about my second by not last comment above. The author has a third book planned for this series releasing in 2019. The title has been listed on Goodreads as The Triumphant

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday #Review - Shadow Hunt by Melissa F. Olson #Urban #Fantasy

Series: Disrupted Magic # 3
Format: E-Book, 316 pages
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: 47North
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

For years now, Scarlett Bernard has counted on two things: her ability to nullify magic, and Shadow, the bargest who guards Scarlett with her life. But after a sudden revelation turns Scarlett’s world upside down, she panics and leaves town without warning, leaving Shadow with her partner, Jesse. In the chaos that follows, the bargest is stolen—and Jesse nearly dies from a brutal psychic assault.
It seems that an old enemy has returned for revenge…and the attack on Shadow was only the beginning. As Scarlett races home to find the bargest and rescue her friends, she is dragged deeper into a terrifying legend that has somehow found its way to present-day Los Angeles.
Now she will have to recruit every possible ally for a battle that will test her null ability to the limit. Scarlett has been in over her head before, but now she risks losing everything…and she’s never had more to lose.

Shadow Hunt is the third installment in author Melissa F. Olson's Disrupted Magic trilogy. If you've read Blood Gamble, the second installment in this new trilogy, you know that our protagonist, Scarlett Bernard, got stunning news at the end of that story that has put her in a very difficult and dangerous position. Especially if anyone with a grudge against her finds out. But, what's even more disconcerting, is that a former enemy has returned with a major vendetta against the city, Scarlett, Shadow, and the Old World which consists of Vampires, Witches, and Werewolves.

This enemy last appeared 3 years ago in the original Scarlett Bernard trilogy and was sent packing. If you haven't yet read the original Scarlett Bernard trilogy or the first two books in this trilogy, might I suggest you find a way to do so? As a null, Scarlett Bernard possesses a rare ability to counteract the supernatural by instantly neutralizing spells and magical forces. For years Scarlett has used her gift to scrub crime scenes of any magical traces, helping the powerful paranormal communities of Los Angeles stay hidden from human eyes.

Thanks to the fact that Shadow can't leave LA county, Scarlett and Molly decide to travel to Boulder, Colorado without telling anyone they are leaving. Well, except for  her sometimes partner former LAPD officer Jesse Cruz who ends up getting more than he bargained. While Scarlett is seeking answers from the worlds oldest vampire, Maven, about the rarity of her situation, Jesse is about to get fully immersed in one of the most dangerous times he's had since meeting
Scarlett and learning about the Old World. Jesse has more than earned my respect since this new trilogy was released.

Because of the rarity of Scarlett's situation, she chooses to call in a favor from Alison "Lex" Luther. I love the fact that Olson does a crossover between Lex's series and Scarlett's. These two may not be the best of friends, but Lex is definitely someone you want to have on your side. I do, however, wish that Lex had been able to make an appearance in the fight against the enemy. She is as dangerous as any character with her being a boundary witch. I also loved reconnecting with Lex's niece Charlie who is also a null and gets her first meeting with Scarlett. 

Shadow Hunt is the end of an arc, but not the end of Scarlett's story. Olson claims that she has plans to write more Alison Luther books, and hopefully another trilogy in the future. I will say that this is yet another fast paced story with plenty of action, suspense, and a moment I think all of us who have read both series have been waiting for. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves #273 - Week Ending 02/10/2018

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Thanks for Stopping by!

Short and sweet this week!
One book from the library, 2 books via NetGalley

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Look for Me by Lisa Gardner (Thriller, Suspense)

Tuesday - Assassin of Truths by Brenda Drake (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (YA, Fantasy)

Thursday - A Choice of Crowns by Barb Hendee (Fantasy)

 Friday - The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D VIA Library, NetGalley*