Thursday, December 31, 2015

#Thursday Review - The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Call of the Forgotten # 2
Format: Kindle, 342 pages
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as normal as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for; his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again. 

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, normal simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

The Iron Traitor is the second installment in The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten trilogy. The Iron Traitor begins about a week after Ethan Chase went back to Nevernever for the first time since he was taken there when he was 4 years old. Ethan and MacKenzie St. James discovered more than a few secrets last time out. They discovered that Ethan's sister Meghan is now the Queen of the Iron Fey and that Ash is her Prince Consort. It was revealed that Meghan and Ash have a son, Keirran, who is the same age as Ethan is.

Early on in this installment after suffering from yet more badgering by his classmates who hold him responsible for running off with Kenzie to NYC, Ethan learns from Meghan that Keirran has gone missing. He gets a visit from the Thin Man, and Annwyl who is slowly fading into memory. Thus begins yet another journey into the place he hates the most. He must find Keirran before he does something stupid. Joining him on his journey are, once again, Kenzie who refuses to let a stupid ailment keep her down and has more courage in her little finger than most people do in their entire bodies.

Ethan has more than proven himself to me even though he still blames Meghan for disappearing and not telling him he had a nephew or that she wasn't coming back. He knows that Keirran is up to something that will lead to bad vibes for everyone. He also knows that Kenzie is still battling leukemia and he really does try to do the right thing by her even though she is probably more feistier and determined that lots of readers give her credit for. He knows that Keirran is family, and thus he has the inevitable strength to put away his anger, and try to help him.

I struggled with my liking of Keirran only because he continues to listen to all the wrong people, when he should have been listening to those like Ethan and his parents in not trusting people who have an agenda. Keirran isn't unnecessary dense. I say he's perhaps foolhardy in expecting that he will only find good things on his search for Annwyl's salvation. I didn't like all the secrecy behind the prophecy. I dare say that if Ethan had learned about his part in the prophecy sooner, it might have changed the way he went about things.

Got to give Kagawa credit. She never once wavers in putting her characters into situations where they have to give everything they have of themselves in order to survive. Ethan, Kenzie, Keirran, Razor, will be joined by Puck, The Thin Man, and even Grimalkin on a journey that is supposed to give Annwyl hope to return to her home. Sometimes, or should I say more often than not, she leaves readers with a heart breaking cliffhanger ending that makes readers scream in agony and anger. Yes, I can truly say I am one of those readers. I just knew that Kagawa was going to leave us with heart ache. Just look at her track record!  

Can I just say that I love Razor?

"Bad kitty!" Razor buzzed again from Keirran's shoulder. His huge ears flapped as he bounced up and down. "Evil, bad kitty! Shave off fur! Throw kitty off mountain! Burn, burn!”

Next up is the final installment in the Iron Fey series The Iron Warrior. Please stay tuned for my review! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#Wednesday Review - Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin (Historical, Steampunk)

Series: The Gunpowder Chronicles # 2
Format: Kindle, 211 pages
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Intermix
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction, Steampunk

As a physician, Jin Soling can see that the Emperor is cracking, relying on Opium to drown his troubles. The Ch’ing Empire is failing, and war with the British is imminent, but the man to whom Soling was once engaged has a bold idea to save it.

A leader within the Ministry of Engineering, Chang-wei suggests an alliance with Japan, whose scientists claim to have technical advancements that could turn the tide of the war. But Japan has kept itself in isolation for the last two hundred years, cutting all diplomatic ties with the Ch'ing Empire. Chang-wei must enter the island nation in disguise to seek an alliance—an alliance forbidden by the Japanese shogunate.

Seeking to escape the politics of the imperial court, Soling arranges her own passage on the airship to Japan. But once they land, Chang-wei and Soling become targets of the shogunate's armored assassins. Caught between two empires, in a land distrustful of foreigners, the deadly war machines are the least of their worries..

Clockwork Samurai is the second installment in the Gunpowder Chronicles by author Jennie Lin. Set in the Qing Dynasty of China (1852), the story picks up a little over a year after the end of Gunpowder Alchemy. 19-year old Jin Soling has moved with her family to the Forbidden City in Peking where she is a physician for the Emperor’s concubines. Jin once again finds herself at the center of attention. Unwanted attention by the Emperor who has fallen to the addiction of opium that has swept his country like a plague, and the concubines who wonder why she isn't one of them. 

Thanks to Inspector Aguda, Jin travels with Chen Chang-Wei to the feudal lands of Japan, the samurai, the shogunate (徳川幕府 ?) and Edu that will rule the land until 1867. Soling and her former intended embark on a mission that finds them deep in mystery, suspense, action, adventure, and helped by potential allies who just might have the answers that Chen is looking for to defeat Britain. 

Jin's own father had a connection to someone in Japan when he was alive. He was actually trying to make an alliance in order to fight the west with their own weapons. There is more of a romance feel to the story this time around. I think that Jin finally understands that even though Chen is loyal to the Emperor and he is still considered a race traitor, he hasn't turned his back on her, or what they could have had were it not for the murder of her father. He still works hard to create weapons that can be used to save their country.

Jin is such an breath of fresh air as a character. She has no intention of relying on anyone for assistance. She continues to try to find a way to cure the Opium rage that is sweeping the country and nearly took her own mother. She also has a few allies that were former colleagues of her father keeping an eye out for her. Jin honestly thought she could make a difference by working with the Emperor to find a cure. She's believes in the healing power of acupuncture, and is even tempered even when things are at their most desperate.

One of the things I most like about this series is the realism of the setting. Oh sure, Lin takes some of her own advances when it comes to inserting her characters into the series and certain events that may or may not have actually happened. Japan was portrayed exactly as it was during the early to late 19th century. They weren't exactly thrilled to have foreigners on their soil, and cities like Nagasaki was where most of the trade took place. The shogunate ruled with an iron fist, and it would take a foreign country to open their gates to the world.

Historically speaking, this story once again takes place between first Opium War (1839–42) which was fought between China and Britain, and the second Opium War (1856–60). It also takes place a year before American's (Meiguoren) arrived in Japan which lead to the end of Japan's isolationism with the rest of the world. I do wonder about the third book, and where Jin will go from here. It is obvious she has her back to the wall of 1856 when the next war will begin with the west. How she gets there, and what role Jin will play will be interesting to discover.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#Tuesday Review - Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin (Historical, Steampunk)

Series: The Gunpowder Chronicles # 1
Format: Kindle, 287 pages
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Intermix
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction, Steampunk

In 1842, the gunpowder might of China’s Qing Dynasty fell to Britain’s steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers—and killed China’s best chance of fighting back…

Since her father’s execution eight years ago, Jin Soling kept her family from falling into poverty. But her meager savings are running out, leaving her with no choice but to sell the last of her father’s possessions—her last memento of him.

Only, while attempting to find a buyer, Soling is caught and brought before the Crown Prince. Unlike his father, the Emperor, the Prince knows that the only chance of expelling the English invaders is to once again unite China’s cleverest minds to create fantastic weapons. He also realizes that Soling is the one person who could convince her father’s former allies—many who have turned rebel—to once again work for the Empire. He promises to restore her family name if she’ll help him in his cause.

But after the betrayal of her family all those years ago, Soling is unsure if she can trust anyone in the Forbidden City—even if her heart is longing to believe in the engineer with a hidden past who was once meant to be her husband…

Gunpowder Alchemy is the first installment in The Gunpowder Chronicles by author Jeannie Lin. This series is a mixture of steampunk and historical elements that took place after China's first Opium Wars with the west. In 1842, China’s Qing Dynasty quickly fell to Britain’s steam engines and was forced into agreements that allowed the English to have complete access to major ports. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers—and killed China’s best chance of fighting back. The Chief Engineer just happened to be Jin Soling's brilliant father, Jin Zhi-fu who saw China's defeat before it happened. 

Moving ahead to the year 1850, Jin Soling is now head of her household and trying to keep them afloat by selling off their remaining possessions. She has an 8 year old brother Tian to take care of as well as an Opium addled mother who has given up on life. She has been trained to be a physician's assistant which gives her some money, and some really important training for what is to come. Jin doesn't have much of a choice. Her family has been exiled, their name stricken from the records, and nobody is going to trust her family after what happened to her father. 

Hoping to sell her father's one last possession, a puzzle box, Jin finds herself brought before the Crown Prince who is hoping to find a way to expel the English invaders from his country. This leads Jin on exiting journey that connects her with some of her fathers former colleagues like Yang Hanzhu who has turned his back on his country, and Chen Cheng-Wei who was once Jin's betrothed before it all fell to pieces. Even though the author clearly took some liberties to make this her story, I definitely was impressed with the story and characters she's created.

I am a sucker for all things steampunk with a mixture of historical elements in them. I'm pleasantly surprised by my liking of the main protagonist Soling Jin. She's a fantastic character who hasn't exactly had a rosie life since her father fell on his own sword, and her mother dove deep into the abyss known as Opium addiction. I love that she's a physician assistant. This should show other women that you can be whatever you want to be if you work hard and put the effort into making yourself indispensable.

I love that this is set during the Opium Wars of China that happened from 1839-1860. There were actually two wars. 1839-1842. Then 1856-1860. This was a turbulent time in China with countries like the United Kingdom, France, and later the US trying to get a foothold into the formerly secretive and isolationist country. I think Lin does a fairly good job intermingle truth with fiction. 

I'm not all in on the romance angle between Soling and Chen Chang-Wei, but at least it doesn't totally interfere with the action, and adventure. I have hopes that Soling's brother Tian will play even more of a role in the next installment. Such a brilliant boy who has a bright future ahead of him. I do hope that Soling's mother can clear the fog of Opium and finally be the woman who was once as brilliant as her husband.

I'm not yet all in on the romance angle between Soling and Chen Chang-Wei, but at least it doesn't totally interfere with the action, and adventure. I have hopes that Soling's brother Tian will play even more of a role in the next installment. Such a brilliant boy who has a bright future ahead of him. I do hope that Soling's mother can clear the fog of Opium and finally be the woman who was once as brilliant as her husband.

Wednesday, I will be posting my review for the second book in this series called Clockwork Samurai. I do hope you stop by and check it out!

Monday, December 28, 2015

#Monday Review - Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Falling Kingdoms # 4
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne in the shocking fourth book of the Falling Kingdoms series, from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes.

CLEO: Reeling after a bloody showdown in Limeros ending with Amara’s abduction of the water crystal, and a vacancy in the Mytican throne, Princess Cleo must cast aside her feelings and look toward her kingdom with the eyes of a Queen. 

MAGNUS: With the kingdom in chaos, Princess Lucia still missing and quite possibly in danger, and a shocking realization about Cleo, the steely prince is once again torn between love and duty, leaving him wondering whether he’s strong enough to rule his people.

LUCIA: The young sorceress has had her vengeance after the cruel death of her first and only love. Heartbroken and unable to trust anyone, she allies with the awoken Fire god, who also seeks revenge. 

JONAS: After escaping death by the skin of his teeth, the defeated rebel—along with a mysterious stranger–leader reunites with Princess Cleo, only to find himself a mere pawn in a dangerous hunt for the elusive Kindred. 

KING GAIUS: Abandoned by Melenia and betrayed by his own children, Gaius flees Mytica and sails to Kraeshia, where he attempts to ally with the famously brutal emperor across the Silver Sea. 

Frozen Tides is the fourth installment in the Falling Kingdoms series by author Morgan Rhodes. A series that features a handful of main characters who all live in the kingdom known as Mytica, but come from all sorts of backgrounds. This is a series that is filled with political maneuvers, backstabbing, plotting, horrible losses and regret, and a whole lot of bloodshed. Kind of sounds like Game of Thrones, doesn't it.

This series has basically centered around four characters. But, in Frozen Tides, Morgan actually adds three more POV's in this installment as well as traveling for the first time outside of the boundaries of Mytica. She adds Amara Cortas, and Felix (who betrayed and stabbed Jonas). Let's get right to it;  

16-year old Princess Cleo is the daughter of the former King of Auranos who was overthrown and killed. She's been struggling to gain back her kingdom, and has been married to the Prince of Blood which is kind of like watching a daytime soap opera play out at times. She hasn't exactly proven herself to me that she can be the leader that her country needs. She's too intent on revenge, she gave away an important tool in defeating evil, and she continues to plot to gain access to all the Elemental Orbs. She's too much talk, makes too many mistakes, and not enough action when it comes to making the right choices, and finding the right allies and sticking with them. Before you ask, no I don't hate Cleo. I just think it is time for her to prove herself like Lucia has done.

Prince Magnus is the son of the King of Blood and his heir. I dare say that Magnus did not bore me this time out. He's become an entirely different character who is willing to stand toe to toe with his father over the Orbs, and the Elementals. He's reeling from his adopted sisters actions in the previous novel, and just wants their relationship to return to normal. Magnus is a character who has driven me insane at times with his whoring and drinking. But, let's just say that the ending to THIS book gives me hope that his character has finally found a backbone and will be the one to do what is necessary.

Princess Lucia is Magnus's adopted, or rather the girl who was kidnapped from her mother and raised by the Damora's all because she's the prophesied sorceress. She's been betrayed by almost everyone who claims they love her. She finds herself with Kyn, the Fire Elemental who wants to tear down the Sanctuary and unleash his vengeance on everyone. Lucia also finds herself with a bit of interesting news. News that should be especially interesting from this point until the final book in the series. Lucia has done more in these four books than anyone other than Jonas. I look forward to seeing what Morgan has in store for her next.

Jonas Agallon is the rebel leader who has watched his country overrun by the King of Blood. He has watched his rebellion fail time and time again. But, he's also found that he actually has feelings for someone who is not Cleo. HALLELUJAH! Jonas is the black sheep of this story. He wants revenge. He makes interesting choices and alliances. He travels to another Kingdom and meets yet another guardian who is supposed to protect him. As with Cleo who Jonas has had a connection to, Jonas needs a break and a bit of good news.

Now come the interesting characters who Morgan gives a fairly decent amount of story time to. King Gaius Damora has two kids that have, in essence, betrayed him and his plans for Mytica. He travels to the land of Kraeshia where he meets with the brutal dictator who controls half of the known world. Since he is the main villain of the series, he has pretty much stayed true to his characterization. I like consistency and not villains who all of a sudden have a change of heart.

Readers met Amara Cortas in the previous installment along with her brother. She scrambled the entire series by stealing the aquamarine orb which represents water, and fleeing back to her home. Amara is a devious little minx. She's from a land that believes women are nothing more than ovens for breeding children. She's maniacal, devious, and smarter than her brothers and father give her credit for. Amara has changed the entire series with her brazen acts, and it will be interesting to see how Cleo, Magnus, and Jonas respond.

To be brutally honest with my review, I have struggled at times with this series but I did enjoy the startling revelations and twists that Morgan writes. I know now that there are two more books in the series bringing the total to six. Not unlike the Throne of Glass series in that regards. My heart aches after reading this book. There's yet another brutal death, and a stunning cliffhanger ending. I hate that this series only comes out once a year. I need the next book sooner rather than later. That's just the way I operate.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#Wednesday Review - Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger (Young Adult, Steampunk, Fantasy)

Series: Finishing School # 4
Format: Hardcover, 326 pages
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books 
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk

If one must flirt…flirt with danger.

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster—in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? Find out in this highly anticipated and thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!

Manners & Mutiny is the final installment in Gail Carriger's Finishing School series. One last mission for Sophronia Temminnick and her friends Soap, Dimity, Agatha, Vieve, Pillover, and of course, Bumbersnoot, the mechanical dog. As the holiday seasons come crashing through the front door like a drunken uncle you haven't seen for years, Sophronia has some decisions to make. She made a deal with the Dewan in order to save someone she has fallen for, but with polite society already looking at her too closely for some of her less than brilliant mistakes, she'll have to becareful about who knows. 

She has to find a way to finally put the final nail in the coffin of the Picklemen and the Flywaymen who have been a thorn in her side for some time now and are still set on bringing England to her knees. One thing is definitely certain. The Picklemen are planning something so epic and dramatic, that it will take a miracle to stop them. She will also to save her school, and impress the teachers like Lady Linette before she can graduate. 


1. I loved that Sophronia and her sister Petunia get some quality time together. I loved this idea because Sophronia is the black sheep of the family, and nobody knows what she's really been doing at the finishing school. It was nice to see Petunia alongside Sophronia's friends, and also included in an important meeting.

2. I loved that Carriger turns a blind eye and allows Sophronia and Soap to continue moving forward in their relationship even though she can be obstinate at times. So many authors would have probably restrained themselves from intermixing couples, but a heart loves who the heart loves regardless of race, religion, or sexuality.

3. I loved that Sophronia uses her head this time around. She knows that all eyes are on her. She knows that one more mistake and she can kiss her career away. She also knows that the Dewan is watching her closely to see if she's the right person for what he has in mind. So, what does she do? Uses every single thing she knows, including a crossbow which she excels at, to help with the villains

4. This series to me has been a bit on the quirky side, a bit on the annoying side, but a whole lot of awesome friendships and relationships that have stayed strong throughout this entire series. I love that almost everyone, minus Sideag, got a final story arc. I missed Sideag, but she's still around in another series. I was pleasantly surprised that Agatha had the most interesting secret she's been keeping from her friends.

5. I dare say that I rolled my eyes every. single. time. Carriger has the characters talking about walking dresses, day dresses, spring dresses, and winter dresses. Sorry folks, but I just don't care what kind of dress is appropriate and what is not. Perhaps this is because I grew up in a family that struggled for the first 18 years of my life before finally getting our shit together. We didn't have the luxury of choosing a new outfit for ever single party, or occasion.

6. This series has been considered the prequel to the Parasol Protectorate. What has become apparent to me is that secondary characters like Lord Akeldama and Countess Nadasday will continue in any series that Carriger writes. Don't believe me? Just check it out for yourself.

7. I loved that the mysterious Mademoiselle Geraldine and Sophronia work alongside each other with the out of his mind vampire Professor Braithwope. I even liked that Sophronia and her nemesis Monique de Pelouse were able to put away their differences and work together when the danger was most exciting.

Probably the only way Carriger could have ended her series and not have a full blown reader revolt. If you are itching for more of her insanity, no worries, she is still writing the Prudence series and book # 2 should be out in 2016.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#Tuesday Review - Against a Brightening Sky by Jamie Lee Moyer (Historical Fiction)

Series: Delia Martin # 3
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Library
Genre: Historical Fiction

A ghost princess and a woman with nothing but a name to her fortune might change the course of history.

By 1919 the Great War has ended, peace talks are under way in Paris, and the world has been forever changed. Delia Martin, apprentice practitioner of magical arts, and her husband, Police Captain Gabriel Ryan, face the greatest challenge of their lives when fragments from the war descend on San Francisco.

As Delia prepares to meet friends at a St. Patrick's Day parade, the strange ghost of a European princess appears in her mirror. Her pleasant outing becomes a nightmare as the ghost reappears moments after a riot starts, warning her as a rooftop gunman begins shooting into the crowd. Delia rushes to get her friends to safety, and Gabe struggles to stop the killing—and to save himself.

Delia and Gabe realize all the chaos and bloodshed had one purpose—to flush Alina from hiding, a young woman with no memory of anything but her name.

As Delia works to discover how the princess ghost's secrets connect to this mysterious young woman, and Gabe tracks a ruthless killer around his city, they find all the answers hinge on two questions: Who is Alina...and why can't she remember?

Against a Brightening Sky is the thrilling conclusion to Moyer's glittering historical fantasy series

Against a Brightening Sky is the third and final installment in the Delia Martin series by author Jamie Lee Moyer. The story opens in the Spring of 1919 with World War I, and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in the rear view mirror. Delia, her husband Police Captain Gabriel Ryan, and their friends Lieutenant Jack and Sadie Fitzgerald are out to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade. What should have been a lovely spring day, turns into anything but after Delia is warned by a ghost that something bad is about to happen. 

Soon marchers begin to riot, gunmen open fire into the crowd, and explosions leave even more innocent people dead. What becomes clear is that the gunmen were trying to lure out a woman by the name of Alina from hiding. But, what makes Alina so special that these people would go through great lengths to get to her? Why would a woman with no memories be targeted? As Delia and Gabe investigate the killings, and the timing of the arrival of a ghost that looks like a princess of some renown, it becomes apparent that real evil has come to San Francisco, and nobody is safe. Not even a 2 year old boy who is sensitive to ghosts.

For most of Delia's life, her most loyal companions have been ghosts. Yes, she has been gifted, some say cursed, with the ability to see across the other side, and to see through disguises. Over the past 4 years (or 3 books), Delia faced a number of challenges and somehow come out on top. She's still being trained by her mentor and friend Isador Bobet, but she is now more courageous and much more determined to help ghosts transverse to the next plane. In fact, she's helped several thousand do just that since this series began and she learned about her abilities.  I do love the fact that Moyer alternates between Delia and Gabe. I like this fact because it gives both characters a chance to shine in their own ways.

Gabe has also come a long way since he married Delia. He is more accepting that she can see and help ghosts. He is more secure in asking for Delia and Dora's help in solving crimes of the bizarre nature. He's also a genuinely good guy as proven when a black cop from Chicago, Lieutenant Jordan Lynch, arrives to collect his own badge that was used in the San Francisco riots. I do like the fact that Moyer doesn't skim over the plight of black officers in this era. Then again, realism is something that makes this series so appealing to me. 

I would like to point out that Moyer has made this series something of a trip down memory lane for those who lived in the early 20th Century San Francisco. Moyer spins a tail that is ripe with historical individuals, and if you don't catch on to who the characters to whom she is referring to in this story, you hopefully will by the time the ending comes around. This story mixes a very dangerous necromancer, an even older Guardian who tries to guide Delia, and a realistic look at the Russian revolution that forced out the last Czar and his family, and forced thousands of Russians into fleeing for their lives.

I'm going to close my review by saying that I highly recommend that you research the Bolshevik Revolution which brought communism to the new Soviet Union. Why you ask? Because a large part of this story revolves around that historic event and the flood of Russian refugees that came to America. I recommend that you read about the last Tsar, Nicholas II and his family. I know that some of you have read stories about the possibility that Grand Duchess Anastasia actually survived the brutal murders of her family. But, like all things in history, you have to becareful of the sources and what the person has to gain in twisting their own stories.   

Monday, December 21, 2015

#Monday Review - Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Unknown
Format: Hardcover, 401 pages
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Marvel Press
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Enter the world of the Avengers' iconic master spy 

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world's most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow's infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn't really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava's dreams. . . .

Black Widow:Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

Margaret Stohl's Black Widow: Forever Red is the story of one of Marvel's most storied assassins, Black Widow. Natalia Romanova was trained in the art of death, combat, espionage, and deception in Moscow's infamous academy called the Red Room. Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room. Forever Red tells the story about a case that started 8 years ago when she and Phil Coulson rescued a young girl named Ava Orlova from Ivan's clutches. It then moves forward to current events with Natasha part of the Avengers Initiative.

Although the title says Black Widow, Stohl actually alternates her story between Ava, Alex Manor, and Natasha. We've all heard stories about those who have lead a hard knock life. Well, Ava's life hasn't exactly easy since she was experimented on, and later rescued by Natasha and put under S.H.I.E.L.D's protection. Left alone, Ava collects an assortment of neat little gadgets that helps her escape. All that Ava has ever wanted is to be able to fit in like everyone else. 

She doesn't want to remember Ivan, or what was done to her. She wants to fence, and hang out with her best friend Oksana. But, she finds that she can create her dreams on paper. Dreams that focus on one person; Alex Manor. She also has issues with Natasha for breaking her promise of always being there for her like a sister. In the end, it will take the two of them working together to bring down the master of cunning and deviousness after children from across Europe go missing.

Alex is a mystery wrapped up in anger and curiosity. Like Ava, he loves to fence, but unlike Ava, he can tell when someone is going to attack him. His intuition allows him to see every single move ahead of time. He gets in trouble a whole lot, and that ends up costing him at times. Alex also is somewhat of a junk food junky. Perhaps that has something to do with his past which is revealed later in the story. I liked Alex and Ava together. I liked that Alex had a heroine worship for Tony Stark, and Captain America etc. I like that Alex isn't just pushed aside to sit back and watch as things go down.

Stohl really does a good job of getting to the core of who the Black Widow is and that's a good thing because The Black Widow is an icon who has been around since 1964. I dare say that I am perfectly fine and impatient to see another installment written by Stohl. I love Ava, and Alexei. I loved their connection. I loved that both of them had issues that they needed to face. Sometimes having someone alongside for the ride helps. Forever Red is an action packed, suspenseful, entertaining, brilliant, fun, humorous, and emotional all packed into 400 pages. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

#Saturday Review - Seized by Elizabeth Heiter (Mystery, Thriller)

Series: The Profiler # 3
Format: E-Galley, 384 pages
Release Date: December 29, 2015
Publisher: Mira
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Danger is all around her…

What should have been a routine investigation for FBI profiler Evelyn Baine turns ominous when she's kidnapped by a dangerous cult of survivalists. As her worst nightmares become a reality, she begins to question what she's seeing. Because the longer she's inside their compound, the more she realizes this group is not what it seems to be.

The next terrorist threat is right beside her…

As the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team closes in, Evelyn suspects she's stumbled onto an emerging terrorist threat—and a cult leader who has a score to settle with the FBI. If Hostage Rescue breaches the compound, Evelyn's dead for sure. If they don't, the cult may unleash a surprise attack that could leave the whole country shattered.

Seized is the third installment in author Elizabeth Heiter's The Profiler series. Picking up shortly after Vanished left off, FBI Special Agent & criminal profiler Evelyn Baine is in a funk. Ever since she found the (Nursery Rhyme) killer who took and killed her best friend (Cassie Byers) 18 years ago, she's been picking up fairly mundane cases thanks to disobeying her bosses orders. One of those mundane cases sends Evelyn to visit a convicted bomber in a Montana Prison who believes there's a copycat bomber. This mundane case, turns into so much more after a fellow FBI Special Agent Jen Martinez asks her to come and visit a compound that she believes is up to no good. 

Upon arriving at the Butler Compound, Evelyn and Jen, who has had an intuition that something is off kilter, are taken hostage, and so begins a struggle for survival, a test of strength and the courage to move forward when your brain is telling you that your job is no longer worth the trouble. The story intermingles with several other characters as well as Evelyn's which gives the reader an idea about what is happening inside and outside the walls of the compound while Evelyn is a prisoner of a group of Anti-Federalist who may or may not be up to something really big. 

Even though Evelyn is clearly a prolific and top notched profiler, her own mind is her worst enemy at times. She knows she did what she thought was best by disobeying Dan Moore's orders to solve Cassie's murder. Perhaps she has got to the point where she worked so damn hard to get to where she is, that one has to face an internal struggle about what to do next. Does she give up the past 8 years as an FBI agent and walk away? Or, does she continue to do her job the best way she knows how? 

I liked that there are others who are standing right besides her giving her faith to carry on in the job she's good at. Perhaps the author could have tied up that loose end a bit sooner in the story, until waiting for the Epilogue. In the previous installment, Evelyn started a secretive romance with Hostage Rescue Team Member/Special Agent Kyle McKenzie. She even went on vacation with him. But, as the story unravels, that relationship is on thin ice because of Evelyn's internal struggles and something that puts Kyle's career on ice. Therefore, there is no hint of romance anywhere in this book.

I do think it is perfectly acceptable to read this book without knowing how the previous installments wrapped up. If you really want to get a clue about the previous two books, read the synopsis. One of the things I like about Heiter as an author is that she is very good at researching how the FBI goes about doing things. She understands that the anti-federalist movement isn't something that just popped up because of who our President is. It's is too bad that the media and every day Joe-Schmo couldn't understand that as well. I won't sit here and get all philosophical on you. I'm just saying that history has been rewritten so many different times that we forget about the Battle of Lexington, or Ruby Ridge, or Waco, or the Oklahoma City bombings. We need to understand and not erase history so we can be better as human beings.

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

#Stacking the Shelves / Weekly Recap* Last Book Haul For 2015! An Amazing Ending!

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!

Thanks for Stopping by!
An amazing week of books! Harper dropped a ton of awesome titles on Edelweiss. I decided to go easy and picked (10) of them to read, and a few others on NetGalley that I was expecting. I am thinking that this is going to be my final STS post for 2015. With Christmas next week, and New Years the following week, I don't want to go crazy with reviews and posts since a lot of people won't be around.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Years! 


The Week in Reviews:

Monday - Unchanged by Jessica Brody (YA, Dystopian)

Tuesday - Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen (Young Adult)

Wednesday - Soundless by Richelle Mead (Young Adult)

Thursday- Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood (YA, SyFy)

Friday - Vendetta by Gail Z Martin (Urban Fantasy)

Saturday - Seized by Elizabeth Heiter (Mystery, Thriller)

Scheduled for Next Week: 

Monday - Black Widow Forever by Margaret Stohl (YA, Fantasy)

Tuesday - Against A Brightening Sky by Jamie Lee Moyer (Historical)

Wednesday - Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger (YA, Steampunk)

Thursday- Christmas Eve - CLOSED

Friday - MERRY CHRISTMAS/Happy Holidays! CLOSED

Saturday - CLOSED

*Received via NetGalley or Edelweiss*







*Received via Publishers*