Wednesday, March 4, 2015

*Book Review* House Immortal by Devon Monk

Series: House Immortal # 1
Publisher: Penguin Group
Released: September 2, 2014
Source: Amazon purchase
Format: Ebook, 368 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy

One hundred years ago, eleven powerful ruling Houses consolidated all of the world’s resources and authority into their own grasping hands. Only one power wasn’t placed under the command of a single House: the control over the immortal galvanized....  

Matilda Case isn’t like most folk. In fact, she’s unique in the world, the crowning achievement of her father’s experiments, a girl pieced together from bits. Or so she believes, until Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, stitched with life thread just like her and insisting that enemies are coming to kill them all.  

Tilly is one of thirteen incredible creations known as the galvanized, stitched together beings immortal and unfathomably strong. For a century, each House has fought for control over the galvanized. Now the Houses are also tangled in a deadly struggle for dominion over death—and Tilly and her kind hold the key to unlocking eternity.

House Immortal is the first installment in a brand new series by Devon Monk. The story is mostly told in the first person narrative by Matilda "Tilly" Case, but also contains several chapters from the villains perspective. What a way to start out a series. Monk has created a semi-Doctor Moreau feel to the story with his mixture of stitched animals. Animals like Lizard (part Iguana, Crocodile, and Kimono Dragon). You have the leapers who are Tree Octopuses that eat apples. There's Pony (horse, zebra, bison, unicorn combination). Then there are the cockatrice which is a cobbling together of a chicken, lizard and bat.

Mix in together a bit of Dr. Frankenstein's world, and you get the 12 Galvanized men and women who are immortal, are basically indestructible, have been cobbled together with other body parts, and have been around since the early 20th century thanks to an experiment gone wrong. Monks world is always interesting to check out, as are her characters. This is a world that is about a century into the future. One could perhaps call this science fiction/dystopian, and not be wrong. It is a world that is run by 12 houses who rule the universe. There are no more countries. The houses govern all aspects from water, agriculture, medical, entertainment, and technology.

But, it is Matilda (Tilly) Case that is the most impressive. She, like the Galvanized, has a body that has been stitched together. She, however, was raised human, and saved by her brother Quinton. Quinton kept her a secret from the Houses that would do anything to use her, control her, while controlling Quinton's technology which can make them Immortal. Tilly is a wonderful character. She in basically self-sufficient while watching over her grandmother on her families farm. She even hired a 2 headed man named Neds to help her out. As an independent member of the powerless House Brown, she brings together resources where ever she can find them.

With the arrival of Abraham Seventh to her doorstep, Tilly's world turns upside down. No longer can feel safe in the world. Especially when Abraham claims that he's there to protect her from the other houses, and offers House Gray's strength and resources to help keep her safe. I think Tilly's character is definitely interesting. She puts her trust in someone she barely knows, but isn't afraid to kick ass and take names. She leaves her farm and ventures into a world where the Galvanized, like her, have no rights, and houses demand loyalty and servitude from them.

But, she never forgets about protecting what is hers; Quinton and her Grandmother Lara Case. I did worry, for a minute, that Tilly was a bit naive, but that works. How can you truly not expect a heroine who hasn't ventured outside of her farm for years, to not act a bit pensive, nervous, or worried about what will happen to her family & friends? There are also plenty of family secrets to keep readers entertained, including brief passages by someone named LUC. <--No secret as to who this is.

House Immortal is a story filled with nuisances. You must have patience as Monk explains the houses, what they control, and what color the people who work for them wear. You must have patience when Monk introduces you to the 12 Galvanized Immortals who don't have any rights or freedoms of their own. But, you can always count on Monk to provide readers their share of conspiracies, betrayals, secrets and revelations throughout the story. In fact, it is the ending that has me most looking forward to reading Infinity Bell next.

There is a bit, I say a bit, of romance, but not enough to take away from the storyline, or the intense feeling that something horrific will happen at any moment. I do enjoy reading books that explore new things, and Monk has definitely done that with House Immortal. I shall also say that the villain of this story is particularly nasty, and I wouldn't send my worst enemy into his house for anything in this world, or the next.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

*Book Review* Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: Harper Collins
Released: March 10, 2015
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
Format: E-Book, 368 pages
Genre: YA, Psychological Thriller

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.  Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late. In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

Lauren Oliver's Vanishing Girls tells the story of two sisters; 17-year old Nicole (Nick) and 16-year old Dara Warren who were once more than best friends, but drifted apart. Nicole is the reserved one, who almost never gets in trouble, while Dara is the life of the party and gets all the boys she wants. It all comes apart after they are involved in a serious car accident leaving Dara with serious injuries and Nick trying to put the pieces of her life back together.

Told in alternating narratives, going from the past to the present, Vanishing Girls is a psychological thriller that you really MUST pay attention to if you have any clue as to what is actually going on. I will say, honestly, that Oliver gives you plenty of clues via secondary characters, that I figured out the twist pretty quickly. For me, the last 20 percent of this story really was the best part. Oliver tries to hold her cards close to her chest, but you really must know that there is something off about the story's narratives.

So, here we are with totally opposite sisters. Nick is the one who always seems to be cleaning up Dara's messes, solving others problems, while ignoring her own including how she actually feels about her "former" best friend John Parker who was "stolen" by Dara. She's also got a reputation that she refuses to debunk. Here is Dara, the cute, popular, and adorable one who gets involved in things that my own sister used to; alcohol, drugs, boys, and acts more like the older sister. Because of her carelessness, she ends up doing things that perhaps she should have avoided.

Vanishing Girls is a good story for those of us who have sisters. While sisters grow up doing almost everything together, life eventually changes our paths and we drifted apart. It's funny, as I was reading this book, I was thinking about my younger sister who I adored, and still love to this day. While I was the one playing sports, trying to get good grades so I could get into college, she was off with her band of troublemakers because she thought I was overshadowing her.

She blamed me for her problems when I went off to the service leaving her to deal with school, and my parents who were working all the time. I have to say that I don't blame my sister for being a bit jaded, or angry. I'm 3 years older. I've gone to college, served in the Navy, traveled all over the world, and moved away while I still had the opportunity. I had my own issues, but never have moved past my displeasure at how we grew apart so quickly. Yet, I don't think that there isn't anything she wouldn't do for me now if I asked her, and I would do the same if she allowed me to.

I do believe that this is a dysfunctional story. I loathe the idea of parents being divorced due to the fathers infidelity, and perhaps the mothers own lack of emotions, or a death in the family that happens off screen. I can't say that I liked either parent when all is said and done. I think Aunt Jackie is an interesting character who seemed to care more about Nick's struggles. But, I would have loved to learn more about her, and how she intends to help Nick get over everything that happens.

Overall, Vanishing Girls was a satisfactory read for me, and loose ends are tied up instead of leaving room for the mind to wonder what happens next.

**I received this book for free from (Harper Collins) via (Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Monday, March 2, 2015

*Book Review* Armageddon Rules by J.C. Nelson

Series: Grimm Agency # 2
Publisher: Penguin/Ace
Released: February 24, 2015
Source: Penguin
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy

*Book Blurb*

Marissa Locks, newly appointed partner of the Grimm Agency, has a reputation for making a mess of magical matters—although causing Armageddon is a new low, even for her…

Marissa is due for a little happily ever after. After all, she did kill the evil Fairy Godmother, end a war, and snag a sweet promotion within the Fairy Godfather's magical-problem-solving Agency. But between maintaining a relationship with someone whose amorous advances can cause third-degree burns, dealing with a killer-poodle infestation, and helping her best friend, Princess Ari, learn to wield spells more powerful than curing a hangover, she’s not getting as much peace and quiet as she hoped.

When an enemy from her past appears to exact a terrible revenge, Marissa’s life goes from hectic to hell on earth. With Grimm inexplicably gone and Ari trapped by a sleeping spell, Marissa decides to fight fire with hellfire—and accidentally begins a countdown to the apocalypse.

With the end of days extremely nigh, Marissa will have to master royal politics, demonic law, and biblical plagues in a hurry—because even the end of the world can’t keep the Agency from opening for business.

Armageddon Rules is the second installment in the Grimm Agency series by J.C. Nelson. Rules picks up 2 years after the end of Free Agency, and once again is told in the first person narrative by Marissa Lock. The same Lock who was once sold to Fairy Godfather Grimm to pay off her family's debts and has spent the past 8 years working for him. This includes hunting down serial killers, putting an end to the evil Poodle infestations, and going up against spoiled princes and princesses in a land where fairy tale characters really do exist.

There are lots of things to talk about in this installment, so I'll get to it. Marissa has earned a bit of a reprieve after killing the evil Fairy Godmother Odette and surviving. But, time marches along and doesn't stop for anyone. She really doesn't have time to dwell on past events when assassins appear at your doorstep nearly every day, and an evil Queen sends Rip Van Winkle to kill you. Marissa's life has been changed since she was first introduced to readers in Free Agency. She met half dragon Liam Stone and fell in love with him and now wants a family. She has a best friend and partner in Arianna (Ari) Thromson who is also a princess/witch she once hated.

In Armageddon Rules, Nelson adds even more suspense, and action. Nelson includes a new character named Beth who doesn't realize that she's a pied piper; continues Marissa's war of attrition with Queen Isabel Mihail who really wants to see her and Ari dead; forces Marissa into facing off against a powerful demon named Malodin who wants to bring about the Apocalypse, which means appearances from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death), and gives readers their first glimpse into the Court of Queens and what could happen next.

I do think that Armageddon Rules is a bit better than Free Agent was. Marissa has received a promotion to partner, and it becomes her job to run the Grimm Agency when Grimm disappears. Her relationship with Liam hasn't exactly stalled, but he is sent on an important mission to protect vampires, and is missing for most of the story. Once again, Marissa's relationship with Grimm takes center stage, and I wouldn't necessarily say that's a good thing. Grimm has been keeping important facts and secrets from her, including the truth about the Queen of Thorns, Isolde. On one level, that bothers me, but on another, I guess you could say that Grimm is trying to give her an actual life without putting the entire world on her shoulders to hold up.

I do believe that Marissa shows a bit of growth as a character in her chess match with Malodin. The results definitely show that when she uses all her resources, anything is possible. This also includes finding a way to save her best friend from a magically induced coma, to putting her hostilities towards wolves away. I continue to say that Marissa's relationship with Ari is probably the strongest storyline of this series. As stated before, Marissa didn't have any real friends until she meet Ari. She also feels a bit remorseful for things that happen to Ari because of her rational but not necessarily good ideas. Then again, Grimm also holds a bouquet of blame for Ari's situation.

Penguin/Ace is releasing the third installment in the Grimm Agency called Wish Bound in September. I definitely am eager to see what happens next as I have fully become engaged with this series after reading these books back to back. The little teaser at the end of the book tells much in what direction Nelson is heading for next. I also want to understand more about Marissa's mother who continues to be mentioned, but not revealed.

**I received this book for free from (Penguin/Ace) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Sunday, March 1, 2015

*Book Review* Free Agent by J.C. Nelson

Series: Grimm Agency # 1
Publisher: Penguin/ACE
Released: July 29, 2014
Source: Library
Format: Paperback, 281 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…

Free Agent is the first installment in the Grimm Agency series by J.C. Nelson. Nelson is a male author who tells his story through the eyes of 24-year old Marissa Lock. Marissa is a character who you can't help but feel a bit of concern for. Sold to Fairy Godfather Grimm on her 16th birthday, she then went to work for him on her 18th birthday. For 6 years, she has had to do pretty much whatever he tells her to do, and can't get out of her contract/servitude until her parents debts are paid off. What's a girl to do?

If you are Marissa, you face off against evil Queens, princes with agendas, goblins, Fae, Trolls, witches, wolves, dancing princesses, and a Fairy Godmother who wants to start a war against said Fae. You come face to face a princess (Ari) you truly hate, but she ends up being your only real friend after you realize she's not a snotty brat after all. You also find yourself falling in love with your mistaken prince (Liam Stone), and learn that he's half dragon. You also clean up massacres, work with the IRS, and hunt down serial killers.

So, when you pick up this book, you should start by asking yourself questions. How would you feel if your own parents sold you to pay off their magical debts and then had your memories erased by your boss? How would you feel if you had to work for a Fairy Godfather (Grimm) until your debt was paid off which is nearly impossible to do since you are most likely to face death before freedom? You work with co-workers who think you were hired for your looks, and not your talents. And, then there is the fact that this is a reality where fairy tales and mythology mix with characters straight out of the Grimm Brothers tales, and not all of them are well behaved.

I can allow a whole lot shenanigans from Marissa in this first book. It is the first time we've met her as a so called heroine, and she has a bit of a rough start. She's sarcastic as they come, she loves getting into trouble, and her birthdays always lead to major incidents, and there are those who truly hate her. I realized while I was reading this book, that there were hints as to Marissa's heritage, and I truly wonder if Nelson will explore this avenue further, or cut us off at the knees before revealing even more secrets. I truly hope that Nelson finds a way to allow us to understand who Marissa's parents really are and what their relationship was with Grimm.

I liked the relationship/friendship that grows between Ari and Marissa after a rocky start. Even though it is slow going at first because of Marissa's own actions, they both have a whole lot to offer, especially for Ari and her magical abilities. They both have family issues as well which makes them understand the other. I liked Evangeline who is apparently a djinn with some kickass fighting abilities. I liked that she came face to face with her nemesis Fenris wolf. While Marissa and Liam face individual challenges, the story leaves their relationship in an interesting place. I do believe that there is just the right about of romance and it doesn't overwhelm the plot and action.

I do have the next book, Armageddon Rules, and will be reading that next.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

*Book Review* Incite by Erica Crouch

Series: Ignite # 2
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Released: February 17, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-book, 380 pages
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy

Earth is in ruins, and the war of Heaven and Hell has spilled over into the mortal world. In the frozen wasteland of the apocalypse, Azael and his band of cohorts search for Pen and Michael with orders to kill. Little does he know that his sister has incited a rebel army of her own.   Angels and demons alike stand side by side, ready and willing to fight for a future they didn’t realize they could have. Change doesn't come easy, though. Pen is wary of joining New Genesis's revolution, but when Azael shows his hand and Pen learns all that he holds over them, she chooses to fight back, no matter the risk. She only has to survive, one hour at a time.

Incite is the sequel to Ignite. This time out, Crouch alternates narratives between Pen (Penemuel) and her brother Azael. I do believe that there's no longer any doubt that Az is a sick, twisted, psychopath who blames Pen for everything, but still intends on winning her back to his side. On the other hand, Pen has fallen, and she can't get up! OK, that's being a bit facetious. The reality is that she isn't the same character we first met in Ignite. Perhaps, in the end, that's a good thing because she's seeing things differently for the first time since she fell from Heaven for Az.

The world is now in the middle of the apocalypse. Hell's war on Heaven has turned the Earth into a winter wonderland filled with Ice and Snow. Humans are hunted down, tortured, and killed like animals. Angels who escaped the assault on Heaven, now find themselves in the Purgatory known as Earth. We also know that there is no safety anywhere for Pen and Michael who are continually running and hiding from Demons and Angels who have put out a bounty for their heads.

Even though I am a bit let down by Incite, it's not enough for me to dismiss reading the final installment called Infinite. Incite turned into more of a love fest between Michael and Pen than an all out war against those chasing them. I think that the most entertaining parts of this book were Az's. He's become King of Hell, has Lilith, and Gus as his advisers, but he's far from accepting of Pen's choices. While Az is absolutely obsessed with killing Michael, he really doesn't want Pen to die for her betrayal.

Crouch does introduce new characters in Incite, including Zepar (Jack the Ripper), Kalaziel (Kala) the Angel of Balance & Guardian Angel, and Anabiel (Ana) the Angel invoked to cure stupidity. Crouch also introduces the rebellion known as "New Genesis." This is a group of Demons and Angels who came together after Pen and Michael refused to believe that the world was black and white, and second chances were possible if you ignore Heaven and Hell's doctrines.

Infinite should should be rather interesting if Crouch can actually bring New Genesis together against Az, Lucifer, Lilith, and their minions. You know that you can't trust Lilith. If you do, then you will find yourself with a knife in your back while she wears a crown of flowers that drips blood. If Az survives to the end, I shall be shocked. If the final book doesn't throw everything, including the kitchen sink into it, I will also be shocked.

**I received this book for free from (Patchwork Press) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Friday, February 27, 2015

*Stacking the Shelves* Featuring Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

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!

*~*Stacking the Shelves for the week of February 22-28, 2015*~*

Good-Bye February! Hello, March!

~Clicking on the cover will take you to

Received via NetGalley 
Kensington Teen

Penguin (DAW)

Penguin (ROC)

Entangled: Teen

Received via @ARCycling

Received via Pocket Books

Received via Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan)

Library Books

The Past Week's Reviews:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

*Book Review* Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Series: Study # 4, Soulfinders # 1
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Released: February 24, 2015
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Format: E-Book, 416 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Magic

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job - and his life - are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret - or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is - while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous.
Shadow Study is technically the first book in the Soulfinders trilogy, but the fourth book in the Study series. Welcome back to Snyder's world where magic rules the land of Sitia, while being scorned by the leaders of Ixia. Where former poison tester Yelena Zaltana is now Liaison to both countries trying to maintain the peace and balance. Yelena, the only known Soulfinder, is also considered to be a very powerful magician. So powerful in fact, that she has dozens of enemies who wouldn't mind if she were no longer in the picture.

Which is really right where the story begins. After Yelena is attacked by an unknown assassin and shortly thereafter loses her magic, it becomes a mad dash to find out what would cause this to happen, and who is to blame. The story follows Yelena as she runs around searching for the root cause of her magic loss, while once again putting herself into harms way with some silly decisions. I will say that the mystery behind who is involved is pretty obvious once you follow the clues that Snyder lays out for you. The why hopefully will be explained in the sequel.

In my humble opinion, Shadow Study is more Valek's story than Yelena's. Why do I say this? Because author Snyder pretty much admitted that she wanted to explore Valek's past, and does so while he deals with other issues on his plate. Valek has always been a mystery, which is why Snyder choose to write flashbacks to show how he become an assassin and the so called King Killer before ending up as Commander Ambrose's second in command. Valek is obviously in love with Yelena, but would he really retire from his position, and spend the rest of his life with her?

If you are expecting plenty of Yelena and Valek moments, I am sorry to say that won't happen. They spend almost the entire story separated dealing with conspiracies, betrayals, secrets, and other people's agendas. They have a brief reunion in the beginning of the book and at the end, but that is it. Perhaps that is not such a bad thing once you realize that both characters are strong even without the other around. It's actually a good thing that Snyder gives Valek so much story arc. There are some really interesting times coming for both characters.

Shadow Study exists because readers didn't much care for the ending of Fire Study. They nagged and harassed Snyder so much that she decided to write THREE more books in the series. Perhaps it is also the publishers choice to made this a new trilogy vs just one more book or novella. I guess you could say that Snyder really does go above and beyond the call of duty for her readers, and didn't ignore their pleas. I dare say that Snyder's move is a rarity in today's publishing world where series abruptly end for no reason, or they continue lingering on with no end in sight.

Shadow Study has a cast of characters which should be familiar to those who read the Study and Glass Trilogies. The characters are Yelena, Valek, Ari, Leif, Mara, Janco, while also adding in Opal Cowan and her husband Devlen and kids. Snyder alternatives narratives not only between Yelena and Valek, but Janco as well. Janco is still the sarcastic humorous character we've known she he took Yelena under his wing. There are a few new characters like the Female assassin Onora, while returning some nasty villains who make Yelena's life a bit more interesting.

No-one should label this trilogy as being Young Adult. It's just not true. Harlequin TEEN does not publish this series; the adult division called Mira does. The characters do not fall into the presumed age range of YA. Yelena is almost 30 years old now, while Valek is nearly 40. How is that in any way shape or form Young Adult. Perhaps when Poison Study came out 8 years ago, that was true.

Shadow Study, like other books in her Glass and Study series, ends on an annoying and unexplainable cliffhanger that wasn't really necessary. I believe that it was definitely done more as a shock value than anything else. If you intend on continuing reading this trilogy, you will be waiting until 2016 for Night Study to be released.

**I received this book for free from (Harlequin Mira) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**



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