Saturday, January 30, 2016

#Saturday Review - Blood In Her Veins by Faith Hunter (Collection of 19 Stories & Novellas) Urban Fantasy

Series: Jane Yellowrock
Format: Paperback, 560 pages
Release Date: February 02, 2016
Publisher: ROC
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

New York Times bestselling author Faith Hunter presents a comprehensive collection of stories starring everyone’s favorite “smart, sexy, and ruthless”* shapeshifting skinwalker...
In this must-have collection of stories, experience nineteen thrilling adventures from the world of vampire-hunter Jane Yellowrock, including many fan favorites and two all-new novellas. Read about the first time Jane put the pedal to the metal in “The Early Years,” and the last thing a werewolf will ever see as Jane delivers justice in “Beneath a Bloody Moon.” Get a searing look into the pasts of some of the series’ best-loved characters: Beast in “WeSa and the Lumber King,” Rick LaFleur in “Cat Tats,” and Molly Everhart Trueblood in “Haints.” 
In the brand-new “Cat Fight,” the witches and vampires of Bayou, Oiseau, are at war over a magical talisman—and Jane must figure out how to keep the mysterious artifact out of the covetous hands of the Master of New Orleans. And in the never-before-published “Bound No More,” Jane welcomes a visit from Molly and her daughter, Angie, who is about to prove she’s the most powerful witch in Everhart history....
From the Big Easy to the bad bayou, from the open road to a vampire’s lair—with Jane Yellowrock, it’s always a given: have stakes, will travel.

Blood In Her Veins is an amazing collection of 19 new and not so new stories from Faith Hunter which takes place in the Jane Yellowrock universe. I dare say that this book took me longer to read than usual because I was a bit occupied with life's crap. For a book filled with short, and not so short stories, this is a must read for anyone who has enjoyed reading Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series. It is totally worth the time it takes to sift through all 19 stories.

I absolutely loved seeing Jane through the eyes of certain secondary characters that have been there from the very beginning with Jane and Beast. I love the fact that Hunter and her publisher put this book together for her readers. I adore authors who give back to readers. There are SEVEN stories that take place before Skinwalker, and each should be read in order so that you can follow along with Jane's growth as a character, and her decision to add Eli and Alex Younger to her family core.

I will be doing a brief summary of each of the 19 stories. I will tell you who is the narrator, and when the story actually takes place. I have absolutely ZERO intention of spoiling anything for my loyal readers. So, enjoy!

*Note* The first SEVEN stories take place before Skinwalker, Jane Yellowrock # 1. 

1. "Wesa and the Lumber King" - The shortest story of the entire anthology. It features Beast, and takes place in a period called the Hunger Times. Does exactly what it is intended to do. Whet your pallet, and now you can move on to the next story.

2. "The Early Years" - Short story featuring Jane. We've never really gone back to when Jane was at the children's home she spent 6 years at. Readers know that Jane was found in the woods when she was Twelve. This story shows Jane at Eighteen leaving the home for the final time.

3. "Snafu" - Jane has passed her Private Investigators class, has her concealed carry gun license, and now is time to intern with a real life PI to get the experience she needs to go out on her own.  

4. "Cat Tats" - Rick LaFleur aka Ricky Bo, makes his first appearance. It's a basic story showing how Ricky got his cat tattoos when he was captive of a Vampire named Isleen and a witch named Loraine. 

5. "Kits" - Jane meets her soon to be best friend Molly Everhart Trueblood as they hunt for rogue vampires. This is the first time we meet Molly's sisters and understand how badass Jane really is when she goes after the vampires and tries to save those they took.

6. "Haint(s)" - Molly is the primary character, and Jane is the secondary character as they team up with Detective Paul Braxton to rid a home of a powerful haunting. Molly's husband Big Evan also plays a major role in this story. 

7. "Signatures of the Dead" - Back to Molly being primary character, and Jane being secondary character. This story has been told before, but it also is the final story that takes place in North Carolina since Jane will soon be traveling to New Orleans. This is one of the best stories in the book.

8. "First Sight" - Readers first introduction to Bruiser, and what he thought of Jane when they first met. It's rather short, but does what it needs to do. Technically, the story takes place during Skinwalker, and before Blood Cross and Mercy Blade Jane# 2 and #3.

9. "Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry" - Another story from Ricky "I'm a freaking MORON" LaFleur as he faces his first full moon. Sorry folks, but I just can't stand Rick. I truly hope that Faith doesn't twist the series so that Jane returns to his side. 

10. "Dance Master" - Bruisers POV after he calls Jane to investigate a problem with an unknown vampires. Perhaps a peek at things to come in future stories. Story takes place right before Jane # 4, Raven Cursed

11. "Golden Delicious" - Back to Rick's POV. Basic story about his time at the PsyLED learning to be a team with werewolf Brute, and grindylow Pea and finding out that there is more to meet the eye test at the school. Readers also get a very interesting peek at Soul, who up to now, we had no clue what she was, or how powerful she can be.

12. "Cajun With Fangs" - Jane finds herself in a small town called Bayou Oiseau after Bitsa breaks down. For those taking notes, the story actually takes place after Raven Cursed and before Death's Rival Jane # 5. Jane faces an interesting dilemma in a town where witches and vampires are on the cusp of war and have been left behind by Leo, the Master of New Orleans. This story is another take on Romeo (vampire) and Juliet (witch) falling in love, having an unexpected baby, and facing the consequences thanks to Jane's intervention. Oh, and don't drool all over yourselves when Faith talks about the yummy Cajun food. Oh, my GOD!

13. "The Devil's Left Boot" - Everhart twin sisters Elizabeth, who barely survived in Blood Trade, and Bodacia being asked by their one time nemesis to locate her mother. Jane is a secondary character in this story. I've read this story before, but it still gives readers a look into how others see and feel about Jane. You should read this story because as secondary characters, Liz and Cia finally understand how much Jane went through in Blood Trade Jane # 6.   

14. "Beneath a Bloody Moon" - Jane and the Younger Brothers, Alex and Eli, travel to Houma, Louisiana where werewolves are causing a whole lot of trouble. Story takes place after "The Devil's Left Boot" and before Black Arts Jane # 7. If you skip over this story, then you will end up skipping over the next one as well since they are pretty much joined at the hip.

15. "Black Water" - Jane travels back to Chauvin, Louisiana after receiving a call from tertiary characters that showed up in story number 14. This time around it is to deal with human filth who call her out for her actions in killing a certain female werewolf in the story above. Sarge, who appeared in story 14, and PP return along with a new character named Christabel. Christabel is still an unknown to me expect that she is very, very powerful. Would love to see Jane revisit this character again soon.

16. "Off the Grid" Story takes place before Broken Soul, Jane # 8. Leo sends Jane to Tennessee to help rescue a vampire who has been taken by a vile cult leader. This is where she meets a new character named Nell Nicholson Ingram who has been living off the grid since escaping above named vile Cult. Nell will be featured in a new series called Soulwood coming August 2016. This is just a taste of what is to come. Don't get excited because you don't know what Nell is. I think that is the entire point of this story. 

17. "Not All as It Seems" Featuring Molly and her daughter Angelina, aka Angie Baby, Jane's goddaughter who is probably more scarier than her mother. Molly gets a visit from Clan Shaddock looking for a teapot that has sentimental value for Lincoln Shaddock. 

18. "Cat Fight" - Featuring Jane, this story takes place right before Dark Heir, Jane # 9. Jane and the Younger Brothers, along with Edmund Hartley return to Bayou Oiseau where trouble is once again brewing between the witches, and vampires who call the small town home. This IS the longest of all the stories in this entire collection. After reading THIS story, I have a whole lot of questions about Edmund and what he is really up to. Maybe we'll learn more in Shadow Rights, Jane # 10

19. "Bound No More" This is the final story in the collection. Molly and Angie Baby travel to New Orleans to visit Jane and attend a vampire/witch parlay that is being watched by everyone. Do I dare say that I have scary thoughts about Angie and her future after reading this story? Holy Cats, Yes! The story is about a powerful arcenciel, being of light, who homes in on Molly. There is so much to be said about this book, but you must read the book to find out!

If you've made it this far in my review/summary, bless your little hearts and thank you from the bottom of mine!  

Friday, January 29, 2016

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 1

Bought Borrowed and Bagged is all about the latest additions to your library – virtual or actual, with books that are  bought, borrowed, won or ARCs  you will be reading soon. Bought Borrowed and Bagged is a homage to to Barron’s Books and Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s amazing Fever series, and is hosted by Braine over at Talk Supe. 

Thanks for stopping by!

I totally behaved myself this week, even when Harper dropped a TON of new titles on Friday! I'm considering shying away from Romance novels for the time being since they haven't been all that appealing to me. This week had a fair amount of 4 star reviews as the result and I'm always happy when people stop by or comment on them. This week I am also participating in Talk Supe Blog's Bought, Borrowed, and Bagged since we've had some issues with STS links recently. So, I hope you find some titles you like, and have a great week of reading!


The Week in Reviews:

Monday - Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace (YA, Horror)

Tuesday - Front Lines by Michael Grant (YA, Historical Fiction)

Wednesday - Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (YA, Fantasy)

Thursday - The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin (Urban Fantasy)

Friday - Night Study by Maria V. Snyder (Fantasy)

Saturday - Blood In Her Veins by Faith Hunter (Urban Fantasy)

Scheduled for Next Week: 

Monday - Almost Midnight by CC Hunter (YA Short Stories)

Tuesday - Grave Visions by Kalayna Price (Urban Fantasy)

Wednesday - Fifteen by Jen Estes (YA, Time Travel)

Thursday - Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell (YA, Fantasy)

Friday - Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - Find Her by Lisa Gardner (Mystery, Thriller)

*Received from NetGalley & Edelweiss*





#Friday Review - Night Study by Maria V. Snyder (Fantasy)

Series: Soulfinder # 2
Format: E-ARC, 448 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Mira
Source: Publisher 
Genre: Fantasy>Magic

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana's life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia is safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he's quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he's been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander's mysterious plans, they realize it's far more sinister than they could have ever imagined.

Night Study is the second installment in the Soulfinders series, the fifth installment in the Study series, and the Eighth installment in The Chronicles of Ixia series. After the stunning ending to Shadow Study, Yelena and Valek have more on their plate now, than ever before. Yelena is understandably confused about her lack of magic and her condition which comes with all sorts of hints, clues, and explanations. 

Yelena has been the target of several high level assassination attempts largely because of her Soulfinding abilities and being the Liaison between Ixia and Sitia. She, Valek, and their allies still has to face Owen's machinations, his allies, and the fact that he is still on the loose and may be up to something so stunning, that it may affect the kingdoms of both Ixia and Sitia. Night Study is a story that revolves around several key players including Yelena, Valek, Leif, and Janco.

I really do enjoy the scenes between Yelena and Valek even when they spend time away from each other due to circumstances and inevitability. If they can survive what happens next, they may have a bright future ahead of them. They, as a couple, really have come a long way since she was a food taster for the commander. Valek is a much more interesting character these days even though he has major issues with the Commander, and has to look over his shoulder constantly to ensure nobody stabs him in the back.

I loved how Snyder gives readers a glimpse of Valek as something more than just the Commanders assassin, or King Killer as most of Ixia knows him for. I liked that he has a reunion that is long time in coming with his parents. I loved that he has a much more softer approach to his people and doesn't immediately want to kill someone who makes a mistake. 

I like how Valek and Yelena are not alone in the struggle against Owen. Janco, Ari, Leif, and even Mara have parts to play in what happens next. I liked how dangerous this story felt, and each character has a life or death moment that leaves readers turning the page quickly to find out what happens next. While Janco and Leif's parts in this story are brief, they are not unnecessary to the enjoyment to the book.

Night Study is filled with shocking twists, turns, surprises, and curious revelations about both Yelena, and Valek. Night Study is the bridge to the final installment called Dawn Study which releases in 2017. Which means there are a whole lot of suspense filled scenes, dastardly movements by the villains, and it has our heroes back on their feet, instead of attacking. Yet, Snyder still makes room for scenes that will melt the hearts of even the hardest people to please. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

#Thursday Review - The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin (Urban Fantasy)

Series: SPI Files # 3
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Ace/Penguin
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Men in Black meets Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum in the new urban fantasy novel starring seer Makenna Fraser and her fellow agents at Supernatural Protection & Investigation.

The agents of Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) know that fighting evil is a full-time job, especially when a new designer drug—with mind-blowing side effects—hits the streets...
It’s called Brimstone. And after the first few hits, you’ll see every supernatural beast sharing the sidewalk, train, or office with you. After that, you’ll start seeing the really scary stuff. 
I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for the SPI. And the collateral damage caused by Brimstone is something I’d like to unsee: dead drug dealers missing their hearts—and souls. Because your local pusher doesn’t stand a chance against the new cartel muscling its way into New York. And since the drug can only be produced with magic and molten brimstone fresh from Hell, that means a rift to the underworld is open somewhere in the city.
And when—not if—the cartel loses control of it, well...
It’s going to be Hell on earth.

The Brimstone Deception is the third installment in Lisa Shearin's SPI Files series. The series features Makenna Foster who is one of only 5 seers world wide. She has been apart of an organization called Supernatural Protection and Investigations (SPI) for about a year now. The story actually picks up shortly after the finish of The Dragon Conspiracy. Mac and her SPI partner/bodyguard Ian Byrne don't get much time off to celebrate defeating yet another dangerous villain when all hell breaks out with the introduction of a drug called Brimstone into the NYC market.

Brimstone allows humans and supernaturals to see through glamours and read mines. For humans, it actually erases their memories. The drug is mostly beneficial to Elves and Goblins who continue to spy on each other. To make things even more interesting, and none too coincidentally, incidents happen at a certain black mage's properties. The same black mage, Rake Danescu, who has been hounding Mac since she first became an agent and showed up at his sex club in a previous installment.

Shearin even makes things more interesting for Mac by giving her a new ability that is handy dandy and comes into play more than a few times. Despite my earlier angst about Mac, I am finding myself comfortable with who she has become. She not a kickass character like Gin Blanco, of Jane Yellowrock, but she's not a Mary Sue who cowers behind her partner. She has become part of a family, and those like Vivienne Sagadracco and Alain Moreau, have begun to trust in her instincts rather than question them. 

As the third installment in the SPI files ends, there is a curious storyline that I can't help wondering where it will go next. I've never quite opened up to Rake Danescu, and yet having him as an important cog to what happens in this story, has made me warm up towards him a bit more. I am curious about the relationship between Mac and Rake. He obviously has some feelings for her, but you have to ask yourself why. I feel as though Shearin has clear intentions towards making them a couple against all odds, and those who hate him, like Ian for example. I dare say that Rake is not the hero type, yet he continues to surprise me time and time again.

Next Installment: TBA 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (YA, Fantasy)

Series: The Witchlands # 1
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Truthwitch is the first installment in Susan Dennard's The Witchlands series. Dennard features two main characters who are female (Safiya fon Hasstrel & Iseult det Midenzi), and two male characters (Prince Merik Nihar and Bloodwitch Aeduan) who are important cogs to what happens to the girls in this story. As the story begins, The Witchlands is under the cloud of a 20 year peace treaty that saw larger countries gobbling up smaller ones but brought peace to the Witchlands. A treaty that can be destroyed with one wrong move or an aggression against another country.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, or one who has the ability to separate truth from lies. She is a rarity in that she is the last of her kind and the first to be born in over a century which makes her valuable as a political tool. Sofi was born as part of the nobility, but ended up as an orphan. She's spent more time with her Threadsister, Iseult det Midenzi who is her best friend and sister to the end, than the rich snobs of the nobility who would bleed their constituents dry if they could. 

Safiya as a Domna of Cartorra, is far from the perfect candidate. Right out of the gate she puts Iseult's life and hers in jeopardy by falling into a trap, and from there on out, they end up having to avoid a certain Bloodwitch who is hot on their tales, a King who wants her as his betrothed, and an Empress who would go to war to capture the only living Truthwitch. Thankfully, Safi is trained in combat, and sword play, and isn't afraid of using her skills to save herself and Iseult. 

Iseult is a Nomatsi Threadwitch and the underdog in this series. She can see the binding threads of all those around her and can sense how people are feeling. She also sticks out like a sore thumb because of her hair and skin color. Yes, my dear readers, this would be considered racism at it's finest, and I am glad that Dennard didn't shy away from adding it into this story. I adore Iseult because she is less the special snow flake than Sofi, and is a true badass. She follows Sofi not because she has to, but because that is what friends/sisters/best friends do for each other. I found her connecting to the Bloodwitch rather interesting, and wonder if that is the direction that Dennard intends on going towards. 

Prince Merik is out to prove himself to his father and sister who is the heir to the crown of Nubrevina. He desires a contract with anyone who has what Merik's country desperately needs; Food and allies. Merik is a Windwitch, Captain of the Ship that helps Safi and Iseult escape capture, and the supposed admiral of the fleet. I like that Merik isn't like his sister or father. He honestly wants whats best for his country and his people. He desires peace, but isn't afraid to stand up to those who try to destroy his people. This relationship with Safi is something to be talked about. I loved their dance. There is a whole lot of angst, but that is because Safi is a bit strong willed, and strong tempered. 

Aeduan, the Bloodwitch, isn't necessarily the bad guy in this story, but he is almost relentless in his mission to find Safi, and bring her back to his master. He is a Carawen mercenary who is as mysterious as he is complicated. I have a whole lot of thoughts about his apparent relationship with Iseult, but will see what happens in the sequel. There is more to Aeduan than meets the eye as was apparent in his confrontations with the girls, and another Carawen witch named Evrane.

Truthwitch is a fairly quick paced story that has plenty of intrigue, action, romance, suspense, and mysteries. I did struggle a bit with the world building and would desire more explanation from Dennard about the world, the various wells based on elements like Air, Water, Earth, Aether, and Fire. I do appreciate that we get a plethora of various witches like Airwitch, Poisonwitch, Wordwitch, Ironwitch, and Aetherwitches. I am eager to find out more about the so called Cahr Awen that Evrane was so awed over. The ending left me numb, but eager to read the next installment to see what happens next to the girls. 

Next Installment: Windwitch (The Witchlands # 2)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#Tuesday Review - Front Lines by Michael Grant (Historical Fiction, Young Adult)

Series: Soldier Girl # 1
Format: E-ARC, 576 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name VerityNew York Times bestselling author Michael Grant unleashes an epic, genre-bending, and transformative new series that re-imagines World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines.

World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.

These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known

Front Lines is the first novel in the Soldier Girl series by author Michael Grant. Front Lines is set in an alternative world where women 18 years or older, are given the opportunity to serve alongside men in a war for the first time after a Supreme Court decision opens the door for them. Front Lines focuses on three main characters: Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman. There is a third narrative, but that person has remained a mystery. All we do know is that she is a member of the 119th Division, and saw her own combat action.

*Rio Richlin is a white girl from Gedwell Falls, California. After an incident with her older sister Rachel, she chooses to enlist with her best friend Jenou in the US Army. She gets sent to basic in Georgia where she faces the ugly truth about sexism in our countries military. Thankfully, Rio stands tall in this story, and kicks some major ass while facing difficult odds. She's got a key eye for shooting, which puts her into an elite classification. I adore Rio. I love how strong she becomes over time. I loved how she is written as someone who is strong, yet has enough courage to admit when she is scared to death. Rio does have some romantic interludes in the story. We'll have to wait and see how they play out.

*Frangie Marr is a black girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She, like Rio, chooses to enlist in the Army rather than await being selected. After going thru her own basic training trials, Frangie gets the opportunity to train as a Medic. A profession that is near and dear to my heart. Frangie not only faces racism from her own side, but from the enemy as well. She is written as a girl who has a backbone, and doesn't run away from a dying patient she is trying to treat. Frangie is just a beautiful character who gets no slack from anyone but a certain Sergeant, but stands tall in the face of racism and a brutal war. 

*Rainy Schulterman is a Jewish girl from NYC who has her own reason for enlisting in the Military. She wants to KILL Adolf Hitler, the person who will end up killing 6 million Jews, and others over the course of World War II. Rainy gets the most breaks, but still faces challenges from her male superiors. She's not the best soldier, but she understands intelligence gathering like nobodies business. Rainy is also a character who can fluently speak several key languages which makes her a valuable asset to Army Intelligence.

I have said that Front Lines is one of the best books I've read this year, and yes I know it's still January. However, this book does what others are afraid to do. It takes a whole lot of chances, and uses language that would be considered offensive to anyone who is afraid to see the truth about our countries history and origins. I love that Grant doesn't whitewash this story for political correctness. He isn't afraid to shine the light on racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism just to be politically correct. Why whitewash history or claim it never happen so that people's feelings won't be hurt? If we continue to re-write history, we are just eager for history to repeat itself.

I am all for the Courts and Military opening up the Selective Service and draft to everyone, including young women 18 and over. Why shouldn't women be allowed to serve if they so choose and can pass muster? What right do we have to tell them they're not good enough, or that they are weaker than men? Truth be known, I served for four years in the US Navy, and had it not been for stupid laws, I would have stood shoulder to shoulder with my male colleagues in areas like Beirut. As it was, those four years were probably the best ones of my life.

**History lesson* Approximately 400,000 American women served in World War II. More than 400 lost their lives helping save the world from Germany and Japan. They drove trucks, they flew planes, they entered areas that were previously held for men only. More than 60,000 women served stateside and overseas during World War II as nurses. 67 of them were POW's of the Japanese. More than 150,000 women served in the Women's Army Corps. Thousands served with distinction in black only support groups.

In closing, I will say this, if you've read Code Name Verity and loved it as much as I did, you will need to read this book as well.  I am definitely eager to read the sequel.

Monday, January 25, 2016

#Monday Review - Shallow Grave by Kali Wallace (Young Adult, Horror)

Series: Standalone? Series? Unknown
Format: E-ARC, 368 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher/Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Horror

For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.

"The first time I killed a man, it was an accident."

After a year of being dead, Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave not knowing where she is, or who put her there. But, she is sure that the person who finds her is not a good person. On instinct, Breezy reaches out and kills the man with a touch. Breezy starts to question; Who killed me and dumped my body here? And, why do I suddenly find myself with the ability to tell if someone has killed before or not? 

As Breezy makes her way across country searching for answers and with revenge on her mind, she meets some interesting characters like Zeke and his brother Jake who are ghouls, and Rain who is a nightmare. She also meets some humans who truly believe that Breezy is a monster that needs to be put down, or cured by Mother. But, the one thing that is most curious, is Breezy's ability to be drawn to killers like a moth to a flame. Does Breezy now become an unpaid assassin of those who have killed?

Shallow Grave is a strange, dark journey from beginning to end. Especially the ending where you have no clue whether or not there will be a sequel or not. Breezy's own awareness of what actually happened to her is skewed to the point where you have to ask yourself if she really has no clue what happened to her, or has her mind buried it so deep that it will take a long journey and meeting a powerful and dangerous creature named Mother for the truth to come out?

Shallow Grave is a heartbreaking novel as well. Breezy left behind a family she loves, including two sisters she'll never see again. Readers will have to question whether or not we are society that sees a pretty girl walking home alone, and evil in the form of men, chooses to rid the world of someone who had a bright future ahead of her. 

For me, I am curious as to how this story ended. I am curious as if this is a standalone, or will the author come back and give us more of Breezy's journey. I wanted more depth into the world Wallace has created, especially about Rain and her nightmare abilities. I am okay with the lack of romance in this book. Although, I could totally see Wallace making Breezy and Zeke more than friends.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

#Saturday Review - Untamed by A.G. Howard (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Splintered # 3.5
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Release Date: December 15,2015
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

A post-Ensnared collection of three stories—available in both print and e-versions.

Alyssa Gardner went down the rabbit hole and took control of her destiny. She survived the battle for Wonderland and the battle for her heart. In this collection of three novellas, join Alyssa and her family as they look back at their memories of Wonderland. 

In Six Impossible Things, Alyssa recalls the most precious moments of her life after Ensnared, and the role magic plays in preserving the happiness of those she loves. Alyssa’s mother reminisces about her own time in Wonderland and rescuing the man who would become her husband in The Boy in the Web. And Morpheus delves into Jeb’s memories of the events of Splintered in The Moth in the Mirror, available in print for the first time.

This collection expands upon Ensnared's epilogue, and includes some deleted scenes to provide a “director’s cut” glimpse into the past and futures of our favorite Splintered characters.

Untamed is a companion novel to the Splintered Trilogy which ended with the release of Ensnared. Untamed features a collection of three stories that feature Alyssa and her family. The stories look into the future after Alyssa left Wonderland, and what happened next to Alyssa, Morpheus, and Jeb who continues to get so much hate mail, that it really saddens me. 

The Boy in the Web is from the perspective of Alyssa's mother Alison Gardner. This story tells Alison's story from the time she first met Morpheus and was tricked into trying to become Queen, to falling in love with her own knight in shining armor (Thomas Gardner who spent 10 years as Sister Two's prisoner), to becoming mortal for the first time since she was 16 years old. I liked this story because we really didn't get a full scope of what really happened between Alison, Wonderland, and Morpheus. Although the story is relatively short at 73 pages, it fills in story gaps and that is perfectly acceptable. Especially the adorable romance between Alison and Thomas.

The second story is called The Moth in the Mirror. This story has a good name actually. Morpheus's machinations. We get a look at Morpheus looking into Jebediah's life and trying to ruin any chance he has with Alyssa. Perhaps this story can enlighten readers as to why you should cut Jeb a break. Morpheus played Jeb like a violin time and time again to get him to go away so that he, Morpheus, could have Alyssa all to himself. I respect Jeb after reading this. I respect him because he gave up everything, including his muse, in order to protect, and be with Alyssa. I've always felt funny about how the trilogy was left off with Alyssa having (2) people in her heart, and being "allowed" to have a normal human life with Jeb, before having an immortal one with Morpheus.

Six Impossible Things is the longest of the three stories and the most emotional as well. It begins decades into the future with Alyssa as an old woman knowing that her life as a human is coming to an end. Alyssa has had a full life with children and grandchildren of her own, and a life with Jeb with no regrets. The story slides back in time to important periods of Alyssa's life with Jeb, and the memories they made together. Author really got me with the chapter called Memory 3; Stardust. Definitely one of the more emotional chapters in this entire series. I warn you, have tissues nearby. Don't discount Stones, or Seashells for their importance to Alyssa and her human life. The book ends with Alyssa's new immortal life with Morpheus and being the Red Queen once again and a nice surprise for readers who stood by these characters from the first book, forward.

Overall, I respect that author Howard wrote this companion novel for her fans. I respect that we get more than just a simplistic Epilogue at the end of Ensnared. Although I still have anger issues towards Morpheus at times, you can't just ignore him, or his love for Alyssa, or how much he got her ready to become the Red Queen. 

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