Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire (Urban Fantasy)

Series: InCryptid # 2
Format: Paperback, 338 pages
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: DAW
Source: Library
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cryptid, noun:
1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.2. That thing that's getting ready to eat your head.3. See also: "monster."
The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity--and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn't quite work out that way...
But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city's readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there's no way Verity can take that lying down.
Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity's apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ--assuming there's anyone left standing when all is said and done. It's a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit...and carnage.

Midnight Blue-Light Special is the second installment in author Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series. This story picks up several months after the events of Discount Armageddon. Protagonist Verity Price is back on the scene in Manhattan, protecting the Cryptid community, dancing at Freakshow (formerly Dave's Fish and Strips), while also keeping an eye out on her newest discovery, a male dragon named William. In case you were curious, the characters on the cover of the book are Verity and her cousin Sarah Zellaby. This is a book of choices, and decisions for Verity. 

Verity has been training her whole life to become either a full time cryptozoologist, or a full time dancer. Which is the reason she was allowed to come to NYC in the first place. To see if she can cut it in the world of dancing. She has tried to succeed in both, but the stakes are much, much higher in this story. Especially after finding out from paramour Dominic De Luca that the Covenant is sending representatives to Manhattan to check on his work and decide whether or not they will start a purge of the local Cryptid community which Verity has come very fond of since arriving in NYC. (One of the Covenant members is rather curious if I do say so myself.) 

This is where we finally get a chance to meet the Price family's boogeymen, aka The Covenant of St. George, who believe that the Price-Healy's are traitors to the cause. This is also the story where Dominic has to make a stand as well. Is he loyal to the Covenant after everything that he's seen with Verity, or will he change his stripes and help Verity save the Cryptid's from mass genocide at the hands of the Covenant? What makes this book different from the previous novel is the romance growth between Verity and Dominic. 

This book is quite different from the first installment. Why you ask? Because the author puts Verity into a situation where Sarah has to make the choices. It is Sarah who gets more than her fair share of story time as Verity is fighting for her life against the Covenant. We also get introduced to two members of Verity's extended family with the arrival of Uncle Mike, and Grandmother Angela Baker. One thing that remains the same regardless of what series you are reading, is that McGuire loves mixing humor, with action, and suspense. Oh, in case I forget to mention, yes, the Aeslin Mice are back. Yes, they are cuter than ever, and yes, they must be in my possession asap!

I have, for reasons that I have discussed previously, chosen to skip over the next two books in the series. I chose to jump back into the series with Verity's next book called Chaos Choreography before finally getting a chance to read Antimony's book called Magic for Nothing. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

#Monday Review - 100 Hours by Rachel Vincent (#YA, #Contemporary, #Thriller)

Series: 100 Hours # 1
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA, Thriller, Contemporary

In this sexy, pulse-pounding new duology by New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent, a decadent spring break beach getaway becomes a terrifying survival story when six Miami teens are kidnapped.
Maddie is beyond done with her cousin Genesis’s entitled and shallow entourage. Genesis is so over Miami’s predictable social scene with its velvet ropes, petty power plays, and backstabbing boyfriends. 
While Maddie craves family time for spring break, Genesis seeks novelty—like a last-minute getaway to an untouched beach in Colombia. And when Genesis wants something, it happens. 
But paradise has its price. Dragged from their tents under the cover of dark, Genesis, Maddie, and their friends are kidnapped and held for ransom deep inside the jungle—with no diva left behind. It all feels so random to everyone except Genesis. She knows they were targeted for a reason. And that reason is her.
Now, as the hours count down, only one thing’s for certain: If the Miami hostages can’t thwart their captors’ plan, no one will make it out alive.
Tapping into our darkest fears while exploring issues of injustice, loss, and the courage to fight for what matters most, this thrilling read is perfect for fans of Nova Ren Suma, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

100 Hours is the first installment in author Rachel Vincent's 100 Hours trilogy. This is definitely something new from Vincent who is known for series such as Soul Screamers, Shifters, Menagerie, & Wild Cats100 Hours is Vincent's debut into the contemporary arenaThe story is about a group of Miami teenagers (Maddie, Genesis, Neda, Holden, Ryan, & Penelope) who travel to Columbia for Spring Break and end up being kidnapped by a group of terrorists. Vincent's story alternatives between cousins Maddie and Genesis who is heir to a shipping empire.

One could say that Genesis is a Mafia Princessa, while Maddie is the poor relation who, along with her brother Ryan, end up being dragged to hell and back thanks to an unwarranted and unnecessary diversion from one locale to another. One could, if they choose to, compare this book to Jersey Shore, but set in Columbia where you have to be a complete moron to believe that if you are rich, that people won't try to kidnap you, or use you for ransom. Have you people not heard of (FARC), or (ELN), or the Medellin Cartel? Sorry, got off topic for a moment. 

Genesis has been warned off of visiting Columbia for any reason by her father. So, instead of taking her friends to the Bahamas where they are supposed to go, she ignores all the warnings, and just waddles into a situation that will leave everyone's lives forever changed. Thanks for that Genesis! So, here we are traveling down a road where the friends jump feet first into underage drinking, cheating on each other, drugs, sex with whomever is next in line, and then, because things couldn't get any worse, they wander off to places where nobody has visited just because they can.

100 Hours is told not only in alternating narratives, but also in a countdown mode that starts from 100 hours to the final head to desk numerous times cliffhanger ending. While I actually prefer Maddie over Genesis, neither character could be considered stalwarts of society. They each have so many issues that at times, it wears the reader, me, down. It doesn't help that Genesis is arrogance personified, while Maddie carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. One could say that 15-year old Luke Hazelwood, geek, gamer, and puppy dog where Maddie is concerned, saves the story from being drowned in too much over compensation.

In a weird way, I am almost eager to read the next book in the series. Why, you ask? Because the final 1/3 of this book really explores the characters to a greater length and you get a better sense of what the author is trying to put forward. Yes, there are some shenanigans. You can't expect not to when you have a group of spoiled teenagers as your case. Yes, there are some interesting twists. Especially when it comes to Genesis. But, what makes me want to learn more, is what happens to the characters at the end of this book that needs further explanation. So, see you when book # comes out! 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 56

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: 

Tuesday - Redux by A.I. Davroe (YA, SyFy)

Wednesday - Seven Black Diamonds - Melissa Marr (YA, Fantasy) 

Saturday - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (YA, Fantasy)

*Received from Library, Edelweiss, Publishers*


#Saturday Review - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab #Ya Lit #Fantasy @veschwab @torbooks

Series: Shades of Magic # 3
Format: Hardcover, 624 pages
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay. 

A Conjuring of Light is the third and final installment in author V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading this series yet, STOP, and get yourselves a copy of these books. You will thank me later. You will love Schwab's creative world building. You will love Delilah "Lila" Bard, and Kell Maresh and even how much Rhy Maresh finally grows as a character, and not just a playboy who flirts with anyone with two legs. Schwab has brought readers to this point in time by leaving Lila and Kell in situations where they are forced to deal with an ancient force that may be more than they can handle together, let alone with help from allies such as Alucard Emery, and Rhy.

A Conjuring of Light picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off. Lila, our thief, pirate, and newly discovered magician has to figure out a way not only to decipher her new magical abilities, as well as saving Kell who she has grown close to. Meanwhile, Kell has been betrayed but you can definitely blame his betrayal on some bad choices he made in the previous novel. Prince Rhy, on the other hand, is stuck in the middle. Forever bound to his "brother" Kell, Rhy experiences everything that Kell does. Then there is Alucard Emery who has won the biggest competition, only to find out that an even bigger problem is creating devastating chaos.

Lila is my favorite character and here is my reasoning. First, she backs up her talk, and walks the walk even though she can be highly disturbed at times. One could say that she is in fact, blood thirsty. I have no issue with that. One could say that she is driven by that blood thirst to put herself in harm's way more than once. As long as nobody else gets hurt while she is trying to walk the trail of badassery, I don't care. I do think that she shows Kell a different avenue to walk. Kell is a character who scowls at everyone, mops around like someone stole his BMW, and tries to be everyone's savior when he should be worrying about his survival and his future. Still, not an overall downer for me. Characters need time to grow up, and Lila and Kell do that in this novel.

This book is a BEAST at 624 pages. Could it have been smaller? Of course, there is always room to take things out that have no correlation to the issues that are happening in the story. But, did it affect my overall rating. Pshaw! Nope! Have you ever encountered a villainous character you hated in previous books, but ended up respecting him in the end? That is my dilemma Holland. Holland has been a bee in my bonnet since I first met him. Holland has been Kell's adversary, and a very powerful character in his own right who has had to walk the darkside, and then somehow manage to help Lila and Kell against an even bigger villain. So, yes, Holland earned a bit of respect when all is said and done.

Writing a review for this book has put me in a blender, and shook me up to my foundation. I loved the way this book ends. I love it so much it actually had me crying tears of happiness & joy. It was the perfect way to escort our characters to their next travels. I loved that Lila and Kell finally stopped hopping around and just admitted that yes, they have deep feelings for each other, and those feelings need to be discovered, and even broadened. I am not going to speak about Rhy or Alucard's romance, and not because I am a bigot who hates gay characters. But, because I am Team Lila & Kell. Personally, I'm on the boat where you should love who your heart tells you to love.

Friday, March 24, 2017

#Friday Review - The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle Van Andale #YALit #Fantasy #Horror

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror

A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.
Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.
These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.
Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Author Peternelle Van Andale's The Beast is an Animal is an novel that I choose to request & read because of the synopsis and the cover. It ended up being one of the strangest stories that I've read this year. The story features a girl named Alys who lives in the village of Gwentil. Alys, like the other children of her village, has been told scary nursery rhymes about a so called beast. "The Beast is an Animal; It has a pointy chin. It eats you while you sleep at night. It leaves nothing but your skin behind."

Whey Alys was (7), two mirror image sisters, both born with a star shaped birthmark, entered the village of Gwentil and leave all the adults dead. Alys, who saw the two girls named Angelica and Benedicta, seems to have some sort of connection to them. A connection that will gradually grow clearer as the story reaches its apex. The rest of the children have no clue that soul eaters have just visited their village. Thanks to a traveler named Pawl, the surviving children are taken to a nearby village of Defaid. Defaid isn't a place that things happen that have me questioning what era this book is set to. 

These are puritans who call each other brother and sister. Alys new "mother" is someone who is actually interesting because she was not only a mid-wife, but also has a few dark secrets she's kept locked away. These are also the folks that Alys has to worry about after discovering that she herself has some unusual abilities which leads her to the Beast, and an interesting and twisted dilemma. After being caught spying on a young couple, Alys is accused of witchery. Thanks to her friends, she escapes to find her own way to deal with the sisters, and the beast. I should also mention that the only other characters that are even remotely interesting are Pawl, Beti, & Cian. 

Here is where I pause to explain my reasoning for the rating. I really wish there had been a bit of world building instead of just jumping in feet first. Is this supposedly a country called Byd? Are the villages part of Byd, or are they different territories? What time frame is this story supposedly set? From the folks in Defaid, and the way the author writes about witches, and how they are burned, or drowned, or stoned to death, I would gather this takes place sometime during the 15th century? Or, is this a dystopian type deal where a major event forced humanity back to the dark ages? Also, what was the deal with the spelling of Forest with two F's? (fforest) Was this a Welsh thing? This is a fairly dark story with both a heroine and a so called villain who are neither evil, nor truly good. There is a bit of romance, and the author isn't afraid to insert a bit of diversity into her story either.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

#Thursday Review - Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (Urban Fantasy)

Series: InCryptid # 1
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: DAW
Source: Amazon
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city

Discount Armageddon is the first installment in author Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series. This first novel features Verity Price, a cryptozoologist who has been trying to make it as a professional dancer. This is why Verity is in Manhattan. But, a girl also has to pay the bills which is why she also works as a waitress at Dave's Fish & Strips. Verity's family has a history that goes way back to the Covenant of St. George. Verity's family tries to keep safe those Cryptid's who are basically harmless. 

But, if they step out of line, she doesn't hesitate to put them down. In this world, there are 900 races of Cryptid's, of which some 80 are capable of passing as humans. Verity and family are cryptozoologists who study and research monsters. Verity has tried to keep a decent relationship with those monsters, but sometimes she gets caught up in things that are way over her head. Which leads Verity to meeting her families nemesis in the form of Dominic De Luca who just happens to snare Verity in one of his traps while hunting Cryptid's. Dominic's Covenant doesn't believe in coddling the monsters. They want to flush them out, and exterminate all of them off the face of the earth.

Good thing that Verity has trained all her life for this moment to come. Good thing  that Verity has some help in the form of her "cousin" Sarah Zellaby who is one of the more dangerous Cryptid's in existence. Dominic reminds me of a person who has been totally and absolutely brainwashed not unlike those who are swept away by religious cults. Dominic's whole world gets shredded to pieces after meeting Verity who, along with her family, was presumed to be dead. After Dominic and Verity put their issues behind them, and agree to work together, there is plenty of sizzle and we see a different side to Dominic than the ruthless killer. 

This is a world that has Aeslin Mice, (speaking mice who celebrate various monumental moments in the Price/Healy family). We can also add a dragon, dragon princess, waheela's, bogeymen, bear shifters, gorgons, ghouls and plenty of other monsters who call Manhattan home. One of the conflicts is with Verity herself. Will she be able to be a professional dancer she's worked hard to become, or will she have to hang up her ballet slippers, and stick to being a cryptozoologist. I have already read book # 2, and will most likely skip over books #3 & #4 to get back to Verity, and then Magic for Nothing which is Antimony Price's book. After reading this first novel, I am all in to get caught up as soon as possible. I love this world. I love Verity, Sarah, and her parents who are tertiary characters at best, but are just a phone call away if trouble gets too close.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#Wednesday Review - Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr #YALit #Fantasy @HarperCollins

Series: Seven Black Diamonds # 1
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.
From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.
Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.
Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.
Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.
Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. 

Seven Black Diamonds is the first installment in author Melissa Marr's Seven Black Diamonds series. Marr does what she does best. She returns to the world of the Fae, while creating a world where Fae and Humans have been at war with each other ever since a fateful happenstance pushed Endellion, the Queen of Blood and Rage, into declaring war against humanity. One could, in fact, say that this story is cross dystopian, and part paranormal.   

The story features several narratives including Lilywhite Abernathy, daughter of mobster Nicolas Abernathy. It also features Roan, one of the Queen's sleeper agents, and Eilidh (Ay-leigh), the Queen's heir to both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. I have to say, I actually liked Eilidh's narrative. She is the heir, but scorned by Seelie and Unseelie alike because of her features. She has a secret that if revealed too soon, could have serious implications on the Queen's plans. She also has a brother in Rhys who is protective of her, and she has a fiance Torquill who would die for her. 

One could, in confidence, call Seven Black Diamonds meet the characters since that is exactly what is laid out for us. Oh yes, we eventually learn about what drove the war between humans and Fae, but it is more important to learn about the Seven Diamonds while trying to decide whether or not they are worthy of our attention. After all, not all of the characters are impressive, and in some way, they are background fodder for political machinations. We're told that because of Lily's dual heritage, she can be arrested at any time if her fae heritage is exposed to the public. Being Fae is tantamount to being killed on sight.

We're told that she's been trained to become her father's successor, and keeps a fairly good sized amount of weapons on her body which she is skilled at using. We can also firmly say that her own father doesn't explain some really important things to her, before sending her off to a boarding school where she will soon meet the other members of "her" team. We can also say that Lily falls immediately into an insta-romance when she meets Creed Morrison, a singer who is also one of the Queen's Seven Diamonds, aka Sleeper agents who are fighting a secretive war against Humanity. 

Lily lives by what the author has called the Abernathy rules. Don't be upset if you miss any of Lily's rules. She has a tendency of repeating them as she wades through a new reality that fundamentally changes her entire existence, let alone what she is expected to do next. She also ends up making several new ones along the way after encountering other Fae. One of the interesting question is about the Queen's sleepers. Who are they really? Are they half-lings, or changelings, or something else entirely? One can easily call the Seven terrorists, and not be hit upside the head with a large dictionary. That is what they do, after all. They spread fear and terror.

I'm not going to talk all that much about the rest of the so called Diamonds. Especially since the synopsis pretty much gives all that information away. But, I will mention that they as Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy who will later become Lily's flatmate at school. I am happy about one facet about this story. That facet being that Lily doesn't allow herself to be drawn into a triangle. Her feelings for Creed are genuine. She doesn't care about betrothals, or what she is expected to do. She has some courage and strength and some backbone and that comes in handy when meeting and dealing with her new reality. 

Apparently, I have been reading way, way too many books. The big revelation was so apparent, that I almost laughed instead of being impressed. So, no, I am not digging at the author. I am saying that I read way, way too many books that have had similar paths to revelation and conclusions. I like the unknown. I like not knowing what is going to happen to a character or whether or not the character will accept their supposed fate or not. I would honestly love if a character just said, hey, no thank you! But, that would totally ruin an entire series, right?