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.**


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

*Book Review* Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Series: Graceling Realm # 1
Publisher: Harcourt
Released: October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover, 471 pages
Source: Library
Genre: YA, Fantasy

*Book Blurb*

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away.

Graceling is the first installment in the Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristin Cashore. As I am a high fantasy fan, this story was right up my alley. I like the fact that there were 7 kingdoms, with 7 different rulers. I like the fact that Cashore created a world where people with "Grace" are born with abilities such as mind reading, survival, awareness, and navigation to name just a few. Perhaps a bit of the X-men comparison here. I liked the fact that the author doesn't rush the story.

She takes time and travels to different lands over the course of months, instead of days. Perhaps this might be one of the not so bright spots of the book, since it does take a whole lot of pages where there is little or no action. She also creates a fairly impressive cast of secondary characters, instead of a cast hundreds. I like that while the main heroine finds herself in an unusual friendship with another Graceling named Po, Cashore didn't make it a love at first sight situation that currently infects the YA genre.

Graceling's heroine is 18-year old Lady Katsa. She is niece to King Randa of Middlun, and has been his goon squad, as it were, since she was a small child. Katsa, like others born with "Grace," has one green eye, and one blue. Her grace is fighting, but if you look deeper into what she's capable of, you will understand that there is far more than meets they eye. I really liked her relationships with Oll, Giddon, Bann, Helda, and Prince Raffin. I like that she's fierce, determined, and has set up a Council to help innocents while still carrying out Randa's orders.

I supposed it is now time to talk about the romance angle between Katsa and Prince Greening or Prince Po of the Leinids. Po is graced with combat skills and has one silver and one golden eye. But, like Katsa, there is more to his abilities than just that. Po and Katsa's relationship slowly grows over time. It grows from friendship, to a few mild sex scenes, to perhaps bed buddies who aren't tied down by a silly thing called marriage, or a ring, or out of expectation. Yeah, anyway..... I do like Po. I liked that he brought emotions out of Katsa and makes her think of other avenues. I like that he doesn't come across as arrogant or overbearing. It some way, I also feel for him at the moment because he wants more of their relationship than she's wiling to give.

Complaint time> Like other reviewers I respect, I think the feminism message that apparently needed to be shoved down our throats was overdone and unnecessary. I will say that I am apparently not in the minority on my thoughts on this issue. Apparently, Cashore wants a strong, independent minded heroine who is too busy saving the world to marry, fall in love, or have children. She has Katsa so stuck on her intentions, her council, and her choices, that even when she does find someone who genuinely cares for her, and adores her, she chooses her own pathway without him.

I look around at today's women serving in our military and scream at how feminism is sending the wrong message to our younger generation. Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. It is not saying that women who marry, or have children are weak kneed and must rely on men to support them. Women serving in the military are just as strong and capable as men. They fight. They fly jets. They have families. They have husbands and children and still serve with distinction and honor.

So, kindly explain to me what the point of having Katsa fall in love, and then walk away to do her own thing? I am not advocating marriage and children folks. Sometimes being single is the only real path, especially for me apparently. I am saying that just because someone chooses to wear dresses over pants, or has a family, or doesn't, or lives alone doesn't make mean that they don't fight just as hard for women's rights as others do.

I think that perhaps I will skip over the next installment, Red, and go right to Bitterblue who makes her first appearance in Graceling. I like Bitterblue, a whole lot. She's spunky, and loved her connection to Katsa who she travels through a bunch of trials and tribulations. I like how she goes from being a child running away from her evil father, to a stronger, more capable queen that learns how to take care of herself. I do hope that we get more of Katsa, Po, and her Council, and they just don't walk away without knowing what happened from the end of this book, to the beginning of Bitterblue.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

*Top Ten Tuesday* Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and we all share our thoughts on that topic! I decided it was finally time to jump on board with this wicked fun meme!

Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books

Some of these are obvious repeats for me. I care not. I adore my heroines, and I shall not let them go quietly into that good night until I am on my death bed.

1. Gin Blanco from the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep
Assassin, Stone & Ice Elemental. Faced several hard ass villains and defeated them.
Also, she has an awesome cast of characters she calls family.

2. Mercy Thompson by Patrica Briggs
Coyote Shifter, mechanic, married to an Alpha. Just another day for Mercy.

3. Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrews
Still one of my favorites. Curious to see how far this series goes.

4. Lt. Eve Dallas, In Death series by J.D. Robb
In charge of a futuristic homicide police department in NY. Eve gets the job done. Nuff said.

5. Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas
What can be said that hasn't already been said? 

6. Yelena from the Study series by Maria V Snyder

7. Elena Michaels from Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
Only female werewolf, alpha of her pack, destroyer of vicious rogues.

8. Katherine "Kitty" Katt by Gini Koch
Can use a pen to defeat a monstrous alien. Has went from mild mannered marketing assistant to Ambassador. Never lost her ability to kick ass and take names.

9. Hermoine Granger - Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Seriously? Why do I need to say why she's on my list?

10. Katniss (Hunger Games); Zoe (Firefly); Xena, Warrior Princess
Faith (Buffy the Vampire Slayer); Bo (Lost Girl); Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Yes, I am totally being lazy on # 10. I love all these women equally.

Monday, February 23, 2015

*Book Review* Soulbound by Kristen Callihan

Series* Darkest London # 6
Published by Forever
Released: February 24, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-book, 432 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance

*Book Blurb*

Once two souls are joined...

When Adam's soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled—and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone...

Their hearts will beat together forever...

No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn't stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted—by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam's kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken..

Soulbound is now the sixth installment in the Darkest London series, and the series is still fresh and full of wonderful characters, surprises, action, adventure, romance, and a hint of steampunk. This time out, our pairing is the mysterious Adam, or the King of the GIM (Ghost in the Machine), and American Eliza May who also happens to be the granddaughter of Queen Mab. It's in your best interest to read books in this series as they are released. If you don't, then you will miss some important information that Callihan is trying to impart on you.

For instance, in Evernight, Eliza was freed from Adam by St. John (Sin) Evernight and Will Thorn. As Soulbound picks up, Callihan does a brief but important flashback as to how Eliza and Adam met. Soulbound also has appearances from Daisy Ranulf and Mary Chase, who are Ghosts in the Machines with golden clockwork hearts, and once saved Eliza's mortal life. Evernight also saw the first appearance of Mab. The same Mab who cursed Adam into 700 years of misery for refusing her. The same Mab who has Sin by the short hairs. But, let's remain focused.

Soulbound is about Eliza and Adam and the fact that they are soul mates but when they first met, he was a total and complete arsehole towards her. She despised him so much, that she ended up returning to Mab's court where debauchery is name of the game. It is about Eliza finding Adam imprisoned and tortured in Mab's basement for not falling in love with her, and for keeping Eliza on a chain. It hints on Eliza's past in American and why she ran away. It also hints that there is more to Eliza than just being the Granddaughter of Mab, or chased after by a very disturbed uncle named Mellan.

Adam is the most secretive character in this entire series. Readers have known that he created the GIN, but until now, we had no idea how he was cursed and why it has lasted for 700 years. I think one can respect Adam after learning of his background, and how Mab and another player determined his fate. I also think Adam's complete demeanor goes through a complete overall thanks to Eliza owning a piece of his heart. While Adam and Eliza's storyline has been wrapped up in such a way that gave me pause but respect for the authors choice in endings, we now wait to see what happens to the next featured characters. Have you met Father, the creator of the SOS? If not, get reading! You WILL be seeing this character again, soon.

I would dare say that Soulbound can not be read as a standalone. If you attempt to do so, then you won't have any clue as to who Miranda Ellis & Lord Benjamin Archer (Firelight), Daisy Ellis & Ian Ranulf (Moonglow), Poppy Ellis & Winston Lane (Winterblaze), Mary Chase & Jack Talent (Shadowdance), or Holly Evernight & Will Thorne (Evernight) are. You also won't catch an important revelation about how Archer was cursed in Firelight before he met Miranda.

Callihan has a tendency of not allowing her characters to ride off into the sunset and be forgotten. Each of the above named characters has an appearance in Soulbound. The two most affected by the events of this book are Daisy and Mary. It might be a bit part, but it shows that the Ellis and Evernight families are truly connected, and wouldn't leave anyone to stand alone against the darkness that hides in the shadows of London.

Callihan surely knows how to write sex scenes. In fact, you can pretty much count on the fact that at least one entire chapter (Chapter 26) will be bold, sexy, and steamy. You can also count on Callihan to give you clues and hints as to the next pairing of characters she intends to write about. These characters always make an appearance in the book before, and have their own little story arc to follow.

Should I say who they are? Would you be mad at me if I came out and say who they are? Or, shall we wait until the next books title and synopsis comes out? I shall give you a hint. He has already been mentioned in this review, and has been in the background to certain sisters.

**I received this book for free from (Forever) 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.**

Other Darkest London Books:


Sunday, February 22, 2015

*Book Review* Unseen by Amber Lynn Natusch

Series: Unborn # 2
Published by 47North
Released: February 17, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-Book, 288 pages

*Book Blurb*

Welcome to the Kingdom of Hades, where even its prodigal princess sleeps lightly.   After fighting Soul Stealers in Detroit, Khara hoped to return home to find answers in her father's realm. But the land of the dead offers little information, and far too much tragedy. Now cut off from her brothers, and left only with her dark and unreliable companion Oz, Khara must navigate the centuries-old webs of deceit and betrayal, all while eluding the Underworld's most depraved inhabitant. But she soon finds an unexpected ally in her adopted sister Persephone. Together, they endeavor to right a terrible wrong. And as Khara soon discovers, there's more riding on her success than she ever thought possible.

Unseen, the second novel in the Unborn series, picks up right where Unborn left off. Khara somehow managed to survive her time in Detroit with her Petronus Ceteri brothers Sean, Casey, Drew, Pierson, Kierson, as well as the fallen angel Ozereus aka Oz. But, now she wants to return home to the Underground and her adopted father Hades to uncover answers about her mother, and her abilities. While in Detroit, she faced off against the Stealers, and managed to learn that she is something that shouldn't be possible; An Adult Unborn.

Readers of Unborn know that Khara is a special case, which means that she has more enemies than allies. Her father is Ares, and the only female sibling still alive. We know that her mother is apparently an Angel. We know that makes her a warrior angel and a vessel of the dead. What we don't know is what she did to Oz when he fell to the Stealers, and turned him into a Dark One? Is her mother still alive? Does Ares know that Khara is alive? We also know that Khara's presence and word of her abilities is spreading quickly, and it is only a matter of time before someone tries to use her or kill her.

When Khara returns to her home, she finds things are in disarray. The covenant that bound Khara to Demeter and Hades has been broken. In simple terms, Persephone and Khara no longer flip flop spending 6 months in the Underworld and 6 months on Earth with Demeter. What isn't known is, who broke the covenant and why was Khara spirited away by a Dark One to Detroit? I will say that Khara does have some pretty special abilities that are finally coming to light. I do hope that they continue to grow, and that Khara finds a way to rid herself of Oz's control before it's too late. I am not going to go any further into the the storyline. Sometimes I think I might give away a bit too much. Not today.

Can I just say that I loathe Oz with all my being? Can I also mention that his attitude is just too much to deal with? I love Casey, Drew, Kierson and even Aery, a kickass nymph who is added to the series. Oz is arrogant, crude, rude, and knows no boundaries. He was involved with the Stealers and betrayed the brothers only to toss Khara off the roof of their home and unleash her wings. He's entirely too pushy and possessive of Khara believing that he, and no one else, holds her fate in his hands. I don't see the attraction. It is like asking Khara to once again give herself up to another control freak in Deimos who is pretty bad on his own terms.

Unseen has a bit less action than Unborn, but does leave readers with a pretty interesting cliffhanger. We do get a look at Natush's idea of the Underworld and it is apparent that she has done a bit of research into Greek Mythology. Along with Persephone and Hades, we also get Hecate, Hermes, and Zeus. I liked when Khara visited her fallen brothers in the Elysian Fields. I liked that we do get a bit of betrayal, heart break, and questionable motives by a handful of characters who are just too power hungry to stop them.

Unseen's bottom line is that Khara needs to know exactly what she is, and nobody is telling her anything helpful. Unfortunately, that question remains a puzzle, as well as the whereabouts of her mother, and what will come next for Khara, Hades, Oz, and her brothers.

**I received this book for free from (47North) 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.**

Other Books in Series: