Thursday, May 23, 2019

#Review - Fireborn (Born Prophecy #1) by Katie MacAlister #Fantasy

Series: Born Prophecy # 1
Format: E-Galley, 298 pages
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Publisher: Rebel Base Books
Source: Publisher

Genre: Epic Fantasy

What if a war was taking place under your nose? Two ancient races locked in a battle for survival. Which side would you take?

Allegria appears to all to be nothing more than a simple priestess devoted to worship of the sun goddess. Hallow is a masterless apprentice. Deo was meant to save the world and bring the Fireborn and Starborn together peace.

But then invaders beseiged the land of the Starborn, breaking the prophecy. Now Allegria has fled the priesthood, and wields the power of the sun. Hallow accepts the mantle of leadership he so long avoided. And Deo is tormented and tortured by the power of the invaders, using chaos itself to create an army that will drive the interlopers from the land, and bring about the peace of the Fourth Age.

The three unlikely heroes must learn to trust where there is suspicion, to believe where there is only doubt, and to fight when all hope is lost. 

Firstborn, by author Katie MacAlister, is the first installment in the author's Born Prophecy series. As the synopsis indicates, this story alternatives narratives between three key players. Deo, a young lord who has a prophecy that will either save the world, or destroy it; Allegria, a young woman with the power of the sun who was taken in to become a Priestess but wants to prove herself instead as a fighter against the invaders known as Harborym; and Harrow, a boy with a curious past who lost his people to the Harborym.

This story is an entertaining one with plenty of twists, and humorous moments, and yes, even some romance. But, the failure for me was the author not indicating when the timeline for each character jumps. One moment we are witnessing the first contact between Deo and Allegria, then Deo and Hallow, then the story jumps to when they are older. I would have preferred to know at what point that changed instead of attempting to decide for myself. I know, picky stuff.

From Deo as a teenager whose mother lives in a conquered land, to Deo as an adult who was exiled to an island where he learned how to use the power of chaos to create an army to fight back against the invaders. Deo the son of a starborn Queen whose birth also heralded the arrival of the Harborym, and Lord Israel who could have done much more in his efforts to keep his son's mother safe, but is still playing catch up years later. Deo was supposed to bring about the Fourth Age of peace. 

Allegria is a light weaver, an anointed priestess, and one who uses the sun to fight against the darkness. Allegria who risks everything to fight alongside Deo and become one of his Bane. Allegria who can fight as well as any man, and usually comes out on top. Allegra who falls for Harrow through a bit of give and take back and forth that is both humorous and leads to some sexy times. Allegra who shines the brightest among the three main characters.

Harrow is a boy who lost everything to the invaders. He later loses his master who was teaching him how to deal with his powers as an arcanist. Harrow spends a lot of time with Lord Israel after saving his life from his son, and later when he unites the Council of Four Armies to finally take a stand against the Harborym. In all fairness, the romance kind of comes out of nowhere. I was a bit surprised that the author didn't find a way for Deo and Allegria to find a way to be together but she choose differently.

This story is a wild adventure that leaves a crushing cliffhanger ending behind to be picked up by the next installment. There is so many questions as to what happens next, especially to Deo and Allegria.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

#Review - Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: The Harbinger Series (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Contemporary

Jennifer L. Armentrout, the #1 New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author of the Dark Elements novels and the Lux series, returns with book 1 of The Harbinger trilogy, a contemporary fantasy set in the world of her New York Times bestselling Dark Elements series. 

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shapeshifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.
When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…


Storm and Fury is the first installment in author Jennifer L. Armentrout's The Harbinger series. In this universe, gargoyle shapeshifters are sworn to guard humanity from the evils of the underworld. One guardian is about to meet a girl with an explosive secret. Should she fall into the wrong hands, her unique powers could unleash an all-out supernatural war. FYI, this is actually a spin-off from the authors Dark Elements series. So, if you have read that series, well done! 

If you're like me who hasn't, I am pretty sure you will be OK without having done so. The story takes place 7 months after the ending of Every Last Breath. In Storm and Fury, readers will meet 18-year old Trinity Marrow, as well as Zayne, who is a returning character from the Dark Elements series. In this world, Wardens don't mix with Humans, but they do stand against demons who try to use human as fodder. For most of the Wardens in the compound where Trinity lives, most consider her to be human and nothing special.  

A few of them like Thierry and Matthew, know of her hidden secret as well as who her father is. A secret that if discovered, could lead to an apocalyptic war where nobody wins. Trinity has been training and protected by Gargoyles for as long as she remembers. Trinity also has the ability to see spirits, ghosts, and other forms of beings who have died and either not crossed over, or crossed over and decided they had unfinished business to take care of. Trinity is bound to her Warden Gargoyle, Misha who is like a brother to her. 

She has spent the past year mourning the loss of her mother. She blames herself for not being strong enough to prevent it from happening. Trinity is more than capable of recognizing when danger is near, so that mistake weighs heavily on her conscious. She might be a bit reckless, but she could also be considered fearless. What makes Trinity so different from other characters in this series, is the fact suffers from a real life debilitation to her eyes called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) that will eventually lead to complete blindness. 

But, that doesn't stop Trinity. I liked Trinity even with her dire situation with her real life affection to her eye sight. She is smart, physically strong, and not all sparkles and sunshine. She isn't perfect, and nobody should believe that any of these characters would be. Not with her past. Not with her hidden parentage. Not with Upper Level Demons wanting to get their hands on her. 

The author held a pretty decent mystery as to who Trinity's real father is until the very end of the story. Nope, no spoilers from me! I liked Peanut as well. Always nice to have a snarky ghost around to keep things moving. I warmed up to Zayne by the time the book ended so that's a good sign that I will probably read the second book once it is released. Fans of the previous series will be happy to see Layla as well as Stony, the demon who she fell in love with. There is still something left unsaid between Layla and Zayne, and I dare hope that it is finally over. If you read the previous series, I am sure you will have your own opinions about Layla and what she did to Zayne. 

**As someone who has suffers from severe cataracts in both eyes for 3 years now, I can relate to often not being able to see things, or having the sun be too damn bright that I have to wear very dark glasses. (If you are reading this, hopefully I am having cataract surgery on my left eye, followed several weeks later with surgery on my right. I dare hope that things work out!)** The author has admitted that she too suffers from RP, and that she is preparing for happens next.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

#Review - Breakout by A.M. Rose #YALIT #Dystopian

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 318 pages
Release Date: June 3, 2019
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Six days.

That’s the amount of time until Lezah’s execution.

She’ll die never knowing what got her locked up in this godforsaken prison in the first place. Her only chance of survival is to escape. Except the monitoring bracelet that digs into her wrist, the roaming AI, and the implant in her neck make freedom close to impossible.

Her best chance is to team up with the four other inmates who are determined to break out, even if one of them is beyond (gorgeous) annoying—oh, and in for murder. But he has a secret of his own. One that could break Lezah if she finds out, but could also set him free.

Figuring out how to work with him and the rest of this mismatched group of criminals is the only way Lezah will survive to see the outside world again.

But nothing in this prison is as it seems. And no one.

A.M. Rose's Breakout is part cyberpunk dystopia, part frantic prison break romp, and part science fiction. This is a story that features Lezah, or #22 of #49 in a maximum prison where she only has 6 days left before she becomes just another number in a much deeper conspiracy. Set in a tech-controlled prison where artificial intelligent roaming servants seem to be in control, it is a place they send people to die when they've done something horribly wrong. There are so many questions when you first pick up this book.

What exactly did Lezah do to end up here? What happened to a month's worth of memories that seem to have been erased? And, what happened to her family (mom, dad, and brother) while she's been in here? Lezah has been here for 3 months. Her roommate Clara (#61), the daughter of the man who built this prison, is days away from her day of meeting her sentence. But, things quickly move faster after Lezah steals a pin from a CMA that allows her to remove her bracelet as well as Clara who urges Lezah to join her in an escape attempt.

After picking up a girl who was supposed to be dead, Ruthie, the three end up connecting with a boy who Lezah once knew (Seph Jackson), her nemesis in numerous tech competitions which they have fought hard against each other, and his roommate Trip who decides to join them in escaping. Lezah and her gang navigate the relentless obstacles of the prison in an effort to escape where she uncovers more dark secrets than she could have ever imagined. After escaping, Lezah's group encounters a girl named Vaughn who is very familiar to her. Why?

If you want to compare this to the Maze Runner, so be it. There are secrets on top of secrets, but even after some questions are answered, there are plenty more that are left unopened which is why I settled for my rating. This is another one of those stories where something happens, entire swaths of the population end up dying, and corporations end up controlling all the resources and dictating what you can and can't do with your lives. They also apparently control all of the technology in this world. The story takes place in and around San Francisco which is apparently under water. 

So, in closing. Did I like the story? Yes, I did. I would have liked to have more questions answered however. I want to know where Lezah's family is and whether or not they are still alive after all the time she spent in Ironport Detention Center.  It is a cleverly written story with just a hint of romance that doesn't overwhelm the action that takes place throughout the book.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

#Review - The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters #YALIT #Paranormal #Occult

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Abrams
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural

Everyone knows Edgar Allan Poe—now it’s time to meet the Muse who inspired him.

Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!”

"Silence your muses!" lest they lead you into temptation and keep you from pursuing an honest, hardworking, upright life.

Cat Winters' The Raven's Tale is a re-imaging of Edgar Allan Poe's early life. The Raven's Tale is dripping in mood and the macabre. The year is 1826, Edgar Poe is struggling with his foster father who took him in after his own mother died. As he is sitting in a church under which 72 people were buried after a horrible fire in 1811, he sees a girl dressed in soot and black feathers. She tells Edgar that she's no longer satisfied with mere crumbs of his attention. She tells Edgar that "I Want More Words." Thus is the first meeting between Edgar and his muse that he names Lenore.

But, Edgar has other issues to deal with as well. He is a week away from going to the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, but his "father" is threatening to withhold all financial responsibility unless he puts away his muse, and forgets about writing his dark poems that have caused a bit of consternation in his home of Richmond. It also precludes him from asking the girl he loves to marry him openly. As Eddie arrives at university, where he hopes to achieve greatness through his poetry, his financial situation becomes dire and he's forced into debt and out of control gambling in a futile attempt to pay for his fees. 

It is fair to say that Poe sank heavily into his obsessions with his art, and if we didn't know that his friends and family are all able to see his muses as well, we might think he'd tumbled into madness. This story contains dual POV's from Edgar and Lenore. Muses are supposed to be a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist. In this world, muses are real, physical beings, and they're considered corrupt and dangerous by polite society. In Lenore's case, she has a mind, a desire, and a goal of becoming much, much more.  

The author did a remarkable job in researching who Edgar Allan Poe really was, especially in the early days of his life when he is struggling to get noticed. Also, I give props to the author for also including a bit of her own Poe-esque poetry in several of the chapters, while also mingling in real Poe works throughout the book. I think it's fair to say that most of us have read one of Poe's books, or his poetry, but really understand who he was as a young adult was truly a wild ride. Melding both Edgar and Lenore's tales together made things a bit more twisted, and yes, dark as well.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

#Review - The Beholder by Anna Bright #YALIT #Fantasy #Romance

Series: The Beholder # 1
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy / Romance

A lush, sweepingly romantic YA debut perfect for fans of The Selection or Caraval
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Lush landscapes, dazzling romance, and captivating intrigue mark the first leg of this stunning alternate historical duology with richly drawn characters and unexpected twists at every port.

The Beholder, by author Anna Bright, is the authors debut novel. The Beholder borrows threads from classic fairy tales like “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Snow White” to weave a brand-new story bursting with evil stepmothers, scheming courtiers, and handsome princes. Add in some Norse mythology, a supposed retelling of Odyssey, and a bunch of political intrigue and you got a twisted and entertaining story. The Beholder is about a girl named Selah, the only daughter of the leader of Potomac who will one day become its leader.

Selah’s duty as the future leader of Potomac is to secure a marriage that will benefit her country. After she is publicly rejected by her close childhood friend, Selah is ordered by her stepmother and the council to cross the Atlantic to meet with various suitors and find one that will help her country. If she doesn't find someone, she won't be allowed back. If she finds the wrong one, she won't be able to return home. If she finds the right one, there is no guarantee that the one she finally chooses, will solve all her issues with her stepmother, the council, and the failing health of her father.

The folio of suitors Selah must choose from contains a favorite for every reader. From the secretive British Prince to the heroic Asgardian warrior, the romantic possibilities are endless—and the magnetism between Selah and the ship’s young and dashing Captain Lang adds an undercurrent of forbidden attraction throughout. Historical twists and gorgeous scenery make this alternate-history world worth living in. 

Selah’s quest for suitors takes her to sumptuously imagined versions of England and Norway, with the darkly mysterious German territory of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne next on the horizon. Readers will be both torn between love interests and dying to see the next stop on Selah’s grand tour. Selah tends to fall in love quickly then ends up having a broken heart when things turn on a dime and she is forced to travel to her next destinations. 

She also has a crew that keeps secrets from her even though the Beholder is technically her ship and they are supposed to be protecting her. Selah's character development was my favorite. At first, she seemed like such a "good-girl," but as the story progressed, she grew to be mature and understanding. She puts herself through so much for her family and friends, and because of that cliffhanger, I can tell she's about to endure much more.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#Review - Alien Minds by Christina Bauer #YALIT #Dystopian

Series: Dimension Drift # 1
Format: Paperback,330 pages
Release Date: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Monster House Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre:Young Adult / Dystopian

DIVERGENT meets OCEAN'S EIGHT in this urban fantasy heist!

On my seventeenth birthday, I wake up in the hospital to find I just survived a sketchy-but-terrible accident. My perfect-looking parents say I live an ideal life inside the Boston dome. And although my swoon-worthy guard, Thorne, looks totally familiar, he says we don’t have a history.

What a bunch of crap.

I don’t remember anything—not even my real name—but I can still tell when someone’s lying. From what I figure out, my dystopian overlords wiped my memory, leaving only my super science skills behind. Now, instead of expecting me to scream for revenge, the government demands that I build new tech that will launch an apocalypse against anyone who isn’t perfect.

So I nod. Say yes. And scheme to blow the whole thing up.

My memory may be gone, but my sass remains intact. I round up a team of teenage scientists to take down the nasty-ass government without getting ourselves killed. Only trouble is, I must accomplish all this while avoiding my growing attraction to Thorne, who may or may not be an alien. Something tells me that protecting my heart from my hottie guard might be the most dangerous adventure of all… 

Alien Minds is the first installment in author Christina Bauer's Dimension Drift series. Let me set the scene for this series. First, this is not the first book in the series. There are two prequels called Scythe and Umbra. Scythe is the story of Meimi Archer one of the most intelligent young scientists in this world who created something that led to being discovered by the wrong people. Umbra follows the second main character, Thorne, who is from Umbra an Omniverse where his father is Emperor. Thorne meets Meimi after making good on one of his father's promises. I suggest that you read Scythe first so that you know who the characters in this new trilogy are, and what happened to bring us to this point. 

The author picks up this new trilogy after the events of Scythe. Meimi wakes up in the hospital to find she supposedly survived a sketchy accident. People who claim to be her sponsor parents stand by my bedside calling her Wisteria Roberts. Then comes the creepy Doctor Godwin who tells Wisteria that she is to attend the prestigious ECHO Academy if she is successful in building a project that he has created that will lead to mass genocide of undesirables if he is successful. 

Meimi puts together a team which includes twin sisters Chloe and Zoe, as well as some of her underground contacts who, well, I'll not spoil that for you. As I said, I would recommend that you read Scythe so that you understand what really happened to Meimi and why she is where she is as the story opens. As Meimi gets closer to her goals of preventing mass genocide from happening, she begins to understand that there is more to her guard Thorne than meets the eyes. Things that will lead to an even more curious action packed ending to the story.

Thorne has been assigned to be Meimi's personal guard by Godwin. Thorne knows who Meimi is, what she is capable of doing, and the fact that she is his transcendent, makes things really hard for him to stand by watching Meimi not understand why she is so important to him and others. As I did not read Umbra, I had not yet met Thorne's brothers Slade and Justice who are secondary characters in this book. It is hard to discuss Thorne, his brothers, and their father, without giving away some spoilers. So, if you can get pass this review, read the book.

Now, why in the hell did I rate it as only 3 stars you ask? Simple. The editing in this book is atrocious. I have not read a book with this many errors in it for a very long time. I had been warned by other reviewers that it appeared that the author rushed this for publication without first sending it to an editor to ensure the mistakes were caught. At times, it  appeared to have been written by a 5th grader with impressive dialogue skills. If you end up with the paperback copy of this book, please let me know if you have similar issues with glaring errors throughout the book.

Question: Will I continue with this series? Debatable. There is a rather curious and shocking ending to this book where things are revealed and things happen that lead to even more twists. However, if I end up with a copy of said sequel and it is filled with glaring errors, I will happily DNF the book and move on to something else.

Dimension Drift Prequels
1. Scythe
2. Umbra

Dimension Drift Novels
1. Alien Minds
2. ECHO Academy
3. Drift Warrior

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

#Review - Middlegame by Seanan McGuire #Fantasy

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Publisher
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in this standalone fantasy

Master fantasist Seanan McGuire introduces readers to an America run in the shadows by the Alchemical Congress, a powerful society focused on transmuting reality itself.

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realize it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Author Seanan McGuire's Middlegame is a twisted story that follows several key characters including James Reed, Leigh Barrow, Dodger Cheswich, and Rodger Middleton. The story begins in 1886 where a children's author uses fiction to encode her principals on alchemy with an end goal of ultimate, godly power. Her creation, James Reed, has tried to breed children in pairs using the concepts of Chaos and Disorder - Language and Math - into each subject.

By splitting the Doctrine of Ethos into a pair of human bodies, one of whom is endowed with an extraordinary deftness for math, and the other an extraordinary dexterity for language, Reed has exceeded his creator Asphodel. His children are attuned to natural elements like Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Dodger and Rodger have no idea how special they are until they are able to speak to each other cross country. Dodger and Rodger believe that they are able to communicate long distances because of quantum entanglement. 

There is a part of me that was saddened that the book was way too long for what could have been decided in 300 pages or so. It was also puzzling that every time the twins got closer, one of them would do something dumb, and walk away thus pushing the timeline ahead several years into the future. There is a particular story line that I had to go back and re-read several times in order to understand. That is the Impossible City which Reed designs his entire plans on being able to be the first one to reach its destination.

Rodger and Dodger struggle with many different issues in this book. The twins are simultaneously drawn together and repelled from each other. They have issues that tear them apart, but they always seem to find a way back together again even if it takes up to 7 years at one point. The curious part of the story was using dozens of bodies in order to create one single one as to what happens to one of the main characters in this book. It is fair to say that none of the characters in this book were born, they were instead made by those like Reed, and Leigh Barrow who is just plain evil incarnate. Rodger and Dodger become a sort of rallying point since they are the only twins who have survived being separated by long distances. 

Finally, it is fair to say that because of who the author is of this book, I had more patience than I would if I didn't know who the author was, or what she was capable of in terms of resolving opened storylines.