Monday, December 5, 2016

#Monday Review - Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks #Paranormal #Romance @eileenmwilks @BerkleyRomance

Series: World of the Lupi # 13
Format: E-Galley, 336 pages
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

The New York Times bestselling author of Mind Magic returns as FBI agent Lily Yu gets some very bad news…

Lily learns she was right. Tom Weng—a powerful sorcerer allied with the Old One who keeps trying to take over the world—is still alive. But that's not the worst. Weng is a dragon spawn, the product of a botched hatching given a human form in an attempt to keep him from going mad. A failed attempt.

Meanwhile, Lily’s husband Rule is facing a Challenge to the death. Then there’s the possible reappearance of another sorcerer. But none of that matters when their enemy strikes out of nowhere in the worst way possible. Lily must face a nightmare and return to a place she never wanted to see again. The place where she died.

Dragon Spawn, by author Eileen Wilks, is the 13th installment in the World of the Lupi series. This is a story where the hits start from the very beginning, and don't end until the cliffhanger ending, which I believe is the first of its kind in this series. Right from the start, Lily Yu, Unit 12 Special Agency, Chosen, & mate to Rule Tanner, has her job cut out for her. From a surprising visit from someone Cullen has been searching for, to the not so shocking fact that her mortal enemy Tom Weng, who works for the Great Bitch, is alive and well after surviving their previous encounter.

On the other side of things, Rule is facing a life or death challenge to his role as Rho of the Leidolf Clan. Funny how that comes about on top of the world crashing down around the Lupi's heads. But, never say that Wilks writes a boring story! Then there is Sam. Sam, the black dragon who has so much information at his disposal, that he always seems to drag it out until something horrifying is going to happen. And, horrifying is the way the Great Bitch and her allies go after the FBI, and the children of the Lupi, including Rule's own son, and Cynna's newborn Ryder.

One could say that this story is the opening salvo in the war we readers have been patiently waiting for since Lily met Helen who tried to kill her. The Great Bitch's actions cause Lily, Rule, Cullen, Benedict, Cynna, and Gan, who arrives to help, off to the land of Dis where Lily once faced her own mortality. One of the things that is most interesting is the dragon's history and how the Dragon Spawn like Tom came to be made. You have to hand it to Wilks, even after 13 novels in this series, she has a way to make her stories fresh, and her action palpable and lively. There is no such thing as down time in this story. Our heroes are pushed to their limits, and even tough there are major issues, Lily and Rule's love is still going strong. The one thing that is good about a cliffhanger ending, is that we know that Wilks has yet another installment up her sleeves. Can't wait!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #40 *Post Thanksgiving Haul*

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!

Welcome back! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving break! I found myself taking an extra three days off myself. This is the first year that I actually took time off for myself, which felt absolutely fantastic! Thus, this haul is for the past 2 weeks. Thanks to all of you who continue to stop by and leave comments!

Have a Great Weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Heartless by Marissa Meyer (YA, Fantasy)

Tuesday -  The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer (Thriller)

Wednesday - Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake (YA, Fantasy)

Thursday - Relic by Renee Collins (YA, Fantasy)

Friday - Faerie Blood by Emma L. Ford (Urban Fantasy)

Saturday - Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige (YA, Fantasy)

*Received from NetGalley, Publishers*

Alien Nation by Gini Koch
Nine of Stars by Laura Bickle
A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong
Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman



#Saturday Review - Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige #YALit #Fantasy #Retelling

Series: Stealing Snow # 1
Format: Kindle, 375 pages
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling

First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.

Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

Stealing Snow, by author Danielle Paige, is the first installment in the authors Stealing Snow series. Stealing Snow is apparently based on Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen. It is said to be source material for Disney's Frozen. Paige's version features 17-year old Snow Yardley who has spent a majority of her life interned at Whittaker Psychiatric Institute. Snow has web-like tattoos, and white streaks in her hair. Scars apparently came after trying to walk through a mirror. Mirror, Mirror on the wall.....

She's a pretty decent sketcher which keeps her from totally being like other residents of Whittaker. In order to keep things interesting, she even names her 7 pills after the Seven Dwarves. Each pill is equal to a separate emotion. After her boyfriend Bale, who she kissed and thought she broke, is taken away, she is visited by a new intern named Jagger. Jagger hints that Snow's pills are hiding who she really is. He also suggests that Snow find a way to escape and travel beyond the tree to a land called Algid. 

Snow finds herself in Algid where apparently things are not as they might appear. First, there are a whole lot of people frozen. Second, she is the long long princess. Third, there are prophecies involving her future and that of the King of the land who just happens to be her real father. Things take an interesting twist with the introduction of Nepenthe, the River witch, along with Kai and Gerda. If you are one of the lucky ones who has actually read the Snow Queen, you will be familiar with Gerda's name. She is also a very unique character in her ability to shape shift. 

Snow faces a dysfunctional family that wants to kill her. She needs to find a missing mirror that was broken into pieces by witches and may be the key to defeating her father, the King. She has to find a way to help Bale, or leave him behind. Especially since Bale has been caught up in his own hell. And, she has to deal with the fact that she has been lied to her entire life, and not that life needs to move in a direction that she will need to follow if she hopes to stay alive, and away from the real threat from her father and his followers. 

Have to say that I am perfectly fine with reading retellings. I am perfectly fine with authors taking a bit of artistic twists and making them their own. I have not read Paige's Dorothy Must Die series. I will, most likely, in the future. I can say that I would have liked more world building. I would have like less of the romance, and more of Snow learning about her abilities and not just running off to a bunch of thieves called Robber Girls. The story itself is complex because you really need to understand what the story is based on. You could make comparisons to Snow White, but I haven't seen any indication of dwarves, except the pills that is. If you think this story will be easy, peasy for Snow, you totally need to read the last part of the story. Cliffhanger anyone?

Friday, December 2, 2016

#Friday Review - Faerie Blood by Emma L. Adams #Urban Fantasy

Series: The Changeling Chronicles #1
Format: Kindle, 382 pages
Release Date: April 21, 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Amazon
Genre: Urban Fantasy

I’m Ivy Lane, and if I never see another faerie again, it’ll be too soon. Twenty years after the faeries came and destroyed the world as we knew it, I use my specialist skills to keep rogue faeries in line and ensure humans and their magically gifted neighbors can coexist (relatively) peacefully. Nobody knows those skills came from the darkest corner of Faerie itself. When a human child disappears, replaced with a faerie changeling, I have to choose between taking the safe road or exposing my own history with the faeries to the seductively dangerous head of the Mage Lords. He’s the exact kind of distraction I don’t need, but it’s work with him or lose my chance to save the victims. It’ll take all my skills to catch the kidnappers and stop Faerie’s dark denizens overrunning the city — but if the faerie lords find out about the magic I stole last time I went into their realm, running won’t save me this time…

Faerie Blood, by author Emma L. Adams, is the first installment in The Changeling Chronicles. The story takes place 20 years after Faeries crossed over into the human realm to stop a human on human war, and caused great chaos in their wake. In lieu of stopping the war, the Faeries left behind those with magical abilities, closed the way into Faerie for those left behind, and helped themselves to innocent children in the areas they destroyed. 

One of those who was taken is now 26-year old Ivy Lane. 10 years ago, Ivy crawled her way out of Faerie after spending 3 years being tortured, abused, and de-humanized, to an entirely different world. One in which her parents are long gone. Having not found anyone to really help her, Ivy works as a sell-sword, and she really, truly hates anything to do with the Fae. Ivy has a roommate, who just happens to be a witch. Isabel doesn't know anything about Ivy's background, or how much time she spent there, or what she did in order to escape. 

What Isabel does, however, is help Ivy with spells that gives her a leg up on other mercenaries. Ivy has a attitude, and sharp tongue that she can back up. She has tried come to understand the abilities that she was given, or shall I say, fought her way out of Faerie for? Abilities that allow her to get close to her enemies and kill them before they can kill her first. Ivy's week is going to be a wild one. From the discovery of missing children, to Vance, the brooding leader of the mages who is curious about Ivy and what she is able to do.

Faerie Blood is a book that really has a whole lot of action, suspense, mystery, and curious creatures from necromancers, mages, witches, half-faeries, and Hell Hounds. There are plot-sub plots, and characters who walk the line from being a villain to an ally. Ivy, Isabel, and Vance must put aside any issues, and work together to save the missing children from the mysterious Fae Lord who took them. Will Ivy be able to do her job with Vance looking at her closely? Will Ivy be able to rescue the children before the Fae open up the gates once more and create even more chaos!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

#Thursday Review - Relic by Renee Collins #YALIT, #Fantasy, #Western @EntangledTeen

Series: Unknown
Format: Kindle, 400 pages
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Western

After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive the best she can in the Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie's world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics' powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.

Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a particular skill at harnessing the relics' powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intentions aren't always clear, Álvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it's too late. 

Renee Collins' Relic is a story that is set in 1867 Colorado. It is a world where Cowboys, Indians, Spanish settlers, rock devils, rattlers, vampire scorpions and ghost coyotes roam the plains. On top of all that, Collins' world has powerful relics leftover from the time of vampires, werewolves, sirens, dragons, unicorns, and others before they were wiped out. The relics give the user ridiculous abilities from being invisible, to creating fire, to bending the will of a person to gain advantage over that person. 

Relic features 16-year old Maggie Hall who experiences one of the more tragic losses you can experience. After her parents, and younger brother are killed by a quickly moving fire that destroys their home in Haydenville, Maggie and her younger sister Ella find themselves in Burning Mesa. Maggie believes she has a calling, and that calling is centered around the relics. If she does have a calling, it will take the right person, in the right place, and the right environment for that to come to realization. Maggie seeks out employment at a local relic refinery, but finds herself temporarily side tracked.

Maggie finds work at The Desert Rose where she befriends Adelaide Price and the real bastard Percy Connelly who is her boss and antagonist. It is also the place where she will later meet her cowboy Landon Black who shatters every single one of her expectations. It is also the place where she starts to investigate the rash of fires that have destroyed several towns. But, it is Alvar Castilla, the richest man in town, who gives Maggie the break she needs to see if relics are really her calling. Alvar is obsessed with relics. He also knows that Maggie is something special having seen it with his own eyes. He believes she is someone he can train to become his apprentice while avoiding the label of courtesan.

Maggie's friendship with Yahnuiyo is one of the bright spots of this book. As an Apache, Yahn's people experience the real life discrimination and blame that comes from being a non-white, or non-Spanish lords in this land. Yahn's people are against mining for the sleeping bones of the Silent Ones. Therefore, they are to blame for everything that happens no matter whether or not it is true or a situation where they are the villains without any proof to substantiate the claims.

Maggie is more than a decent enough character. Everything she does is for her sister Ella. When she has to put her sisters situation first before her own, you know that her heart is in the right place. More often than not, characters leave their younger siblings behind to be raised by others, or ignored entirely because they take away from their free time. Nope, not Maggie. Maggie is also not involved in any true love triangle, although her friendship and connection with Yahn needs further exploration. Maggie is also smart, driven, and not afraid to get her hands dirty.  

My complaint with this story is the rushed ending, and the glaring cliffhanger ending which has no resolution. Since this book was released in 2013, and the author has released or will release other books, I dare ask, are you going to write a sequel to this story Ms Collins? Or, has the publisher disavowed any further book in this series? One can definitely call this an alternative history western fantasy novel because of its roots in the past with those supernatural beings who apparently no longer reside on this plane. 

Regardless of my issue, Relic is still and entertaining and worthwhile read.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake #YALit #Fantasy @brendadrake @EntangledTeen

Series: Library Jumpers # 1
Format: Kindle, 400 pages
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher Invitation
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world's most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik's world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Thief of Lies is the first installment in author Brenda Drake's Library Jumpers series. 16-year old Gianna Kearns and her friends Nick & Afton are visiting the Boston
Athenaeum Library when Gia notices a guy who apparently vanishes into thin air. Curious, Gia picks up the book the boy was reading, Libraries of the World. After uttering the words "Apire la porta" Gia, Nick, and Afton find themselves transported to The Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Gia and her friends encounter a demonic hound that is stopped thanks to the efforts of Arik, the boy who disappeared, and his fellow Sentinels Lei, Demos, Kale, & Jaran. Sentinels are magical knights who protect libraries. Arik states that humans can't jump, so why was Gia able to use the key word to travel through a wormhole from Boston to Paris? What does the crescent brand mean? Is Gia a witch, a warlock, or something different? What Gia fails to tell anyone, is that she once experience her own magic but was told to keep silent about it.

Gia is an interesting character in that she's into fencing, can speak fluent Italian, loves being around books, and is able to take care of herself without relying on others. She's also the daughter of two Sentinels which is unheard of. She is forced to deal with a whole lot of information in a quick manner. She finds herself taken away from the only family she knows, and transported to a realm where she will be taught how to be a Sentinel. Gia is also at the center of a pretty intriguing prophecy that drives the villains actions. 

The whole idea behind magical globes intrigues me, and I dare say Gia's ability to use them is too cool for school. 
Unfortunately the dreaded love triangle makes its ugly self known later in the story with the arrival of Bastian, who is a wizard and someone who puts Gia into a difficult situation in choosing between Arik, and Bastian. I do believe this story is truly unique in its world building, and the various characters that are introduced. I liked the introduction of laniars like Faith who are supposed to protect Gia, along with the various factions around the globe. One can hope that this continues in the sequel.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#Tuesday Review - The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer #Mystery #Thriller

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 512 ages
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Library
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life, but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

Eight years after the release of The Host, author Stephenie Meyer returns with The Chemist. The story follows a brilliant woman named Dr. Juliana Fortis. Fortis worked for a secret government agency doing enhanced interrogations until they decided she was a liability and tried to kill her. For three years, Juliana, aka Alex, has lived under the motto just in case. She lived a life of constant vigilance, and there is no such thing as being over prepared. She has bolt holes stocked with supplies all over the place, and she may have become a bit bloodthirsty in trying to stay alive. 

After being contacted by her former handler, Alex chooses to take one last job hoping that she can stop running, and stop worrying whether or not the next time she is caught unaware, would be her last. Her target is Daniel Nebecker Beach. Daniel is a teacher, volleyball coach, history buff, and divorcee who the government claims is leading a secret life. A secret life that could lead to the deaths of millions of innocents if he isn't stopped. Alex is the best in her field. So good, in fact, that the government has its own nickname for her. (PS - She is named The Chemist, and Oleander in this book.)

But, what happens when an innocent man's life is put in her hands? What happens when Alex learns that nothing is at it seems, and it may be just another attempt to remove her permanently from exposing secrets? Even though Alex is the best at retrieving information from various subjects she's encountered over the years, what happens when Alex meets someone so ridiculously kind, that there is no way he can be a terrorist? Alex, Daniel, and his brother Kevin will have to wade through conspiracies, government hit men, and their own trust in each other in order to survive.

Have to admit I liked this story much, much more than I did the Host. I liked the lead character who goes by so many different names, but Alex is the one she uses the most. I liked her because she was the real deal, not some scrub who is propped up to be something she's not. Kind of lost me for awhile when there was a huge lull in action, and instead a focus on her romantic endeavor. Remove about 100 pages, and this book would have been a solid read. Really loved the dogs (Einstein, Lola) and Valentine that were introduced. Will say that Alex is a bit on the cold side, but after everything she's been through, I dare anyone to believe they could be all sunshine and lollipops.