Sunday, October 15, 2017

Gizmo #Review - Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco #YALit #Horror

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper # 2 
Format: Hardcover, 448 pags
Release Date: September 17, 2017
Publisher: jimmy patterson
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult \ Horror

In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco's haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?
Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.
But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

Hunting Prince Dracula, by author Kerri Maniscalco, is the followup to Stalking Jack the Ripper. The story takes place between December 1-26, 1888. 17-year old Audrey Rose Wadsworth is back. This time she and Thomas Cresswell are traveling via the Orient Express to Romania where they hope to study in the prestigious Academy of Forensic Medicine and Science. Before they even arrive though, there are headlines screaming about the possibility that Vlad Dracula may very well be alive and on the hunt after a body is found staked through the heart.

Apparently, the centuries dead legend has once again gained the imagination to the point where people truly believe it is possible that Dracula is an immortal. With the Ripper case fresh in her mind, and her imagination playing very cruel games with her, Audrey must find a way to put it all behind her if she is to be chosen as one of only two candidates to be entered into the next session of the school. This is a story that is as foreboding, as it is eerie. From a stunning murder on the Orient Express, to bodies piling up in and around the school, to the dangers that linger behind every corner, and possibly every student, Audrey and Thomas have their work cut out for them if they are to survive.

Historical Fiction is all about creating your own world, while also intermingling factual figures into your story. While this story is once set in the Victoria Era, Maniscalco knocks the walls down by allowing some things to happen between Audrey and Thomas that would probably have been frowned upon. She also uses the Orient Express as means of travel for Audrey Rose and Thomas. She uses the train for romantic means for Audrey and Thomas who grow even closer than before. Something that takes a whole lot for me to admit since I found Thomas a bit of a cad and a bloody bastard at times in both novels.

There's a bit of cooling at one point during the story after Thomas did something quite foolish. One could say that he bit off more than he could chew, and got smacked. But, Audrey gets a bit of clarity from her own cousins letter arrives and they end up in a good place when all is said and done. 
Bran Castle was never been a school for forensics, yet the historical and creepy aspects of the school gave the story a Gothic feel to it. Maniscalco's brilliant use of hallways, passageways, and tricky labyrinths that lead to life or death situations for Audrey and Thomas just prove that Maniscalco is not a one hit wonder.

The author also uses a secret society called The Order of the Dragon which really did exist at one point in history. The author twists the Order's membership by adding two female characters, Ileana and Daciana, something that really wouldn't have been possible in this era. Plus, Ileana and Daciana have a love for the other that is not restrained, but passionate and real. I do like the modern effort that allows Audrey to become a strong model for young women in today's society. She says I am strong, I am willing, and I am going to kick down the door on the male dominated world of forensic science, and make it my own.

I am extremely interested in what will play out in the next installment as Audrey and Thomas and Audrey's Uncle travel to America. Will the situation test their romance, or will it survive any circumstances thrown at them? We shall see.     

Saturday, October 14, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves #259 - Week Ending 10/14/2017

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 Shopping by!
This week is an eclectic collection of books received from publishers, authors, NetGalley, and Edelweiss. As I close in on 300 books read for the year, I am actually opening myself up for more review requests. Something I haven't done in a long while. Hopefully they will be as entertaining as they were sold to me!
Have a fantastic weekend! 

This Weeks Reviews: 

Wednesday - Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (YA, Fantasy)

Thursday - Ally by Anna Banks (YA, Fantasy)

Friday - Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (Epic Fantasy)

Saturday - Warcross by Marie Lu (YA, SyFy)


Also received “Night of the Victorian Dead” by Amber Michelle Cook in exchange for an honest review but still waiting for the new cover to be sent to me.

Saturday #Review - Warcross by Marie Lu #YALit #SyFy @Marie_Lu ‏@PutnamBooks

Series: Warcross # 1
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.
For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.
Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem…and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.
In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Warcross, by author Marie Lu, is the first installment in the authors Warcross duology. Like Ready Player One and The Matrix, Warcross takes readers into a strikingly realistic version of what the future may hold, where the lines are blurred, and the effects of online gaming seep from the virtual into reality. Though Emika's learned everything she could about the brilliant and mysterious Hideo Tanaka, she never imaged she'd meet him, let alone become one of his confidants.

18-year old Emika Chen is a down on her luck college drop out who is several months behind on her bills, including her rent. She's also got a criminal record, but not for doing something bad. On top of losing her beloved father, she has struggled with life and finding a decent paying job. As a way of paying her bills, Emika is also a bounty hunter going after those who illegally gamble on Warcross. So illegal, that there are those who put up good money to apprehend those who are in arrears and owe a substantial debt. Emika isn't the best bounty hunter there is.

Nope. She's already lost several as the story begins, and loses another one to shear bad luck. But, then the crazy begins. Emika accidentally hacks her way into Warcross using her outdated Neurolink, and finds herself in the game itself where everyone in the world sees her. Thinking that she is going to be arrested as an adult this time, Emika instead is spirited away to Tokyo by Hideo and given a job hunting down a hacker who has been disrupting the game. Warcross is a game that is played by those of all walks of life and all skill sets. 

Emika doesn't realize that her life is about to get even more twisted and dangerous by being one of the wild card players in this years game and by digging into hard truths that may end up getting her targeted by the person hacking into Warcross. Emika soon learns Hideo is hiding frightening secrets, secrets that may be her undoing. From the wild draft party, to meeting her new team the Phoenix Riders, to attempting to uncover who is hacking to Warcross and why, Emika has her hands full and then some when she realizes that things aren't exactly what she has been told. 

Even though Emika is brilliant and talent, there might be someone else out there even better than she is. From the incredibly descriptive futuristic setting of Tokyo, to the Warcross game itself, to the diversity of the characters, to the game where everything is as bloodthirsty as you might think, Warcross impresses my alt-geek persona. The mystery behind who the culprit was, and what this person actually wants, was well thought out and delivered in a way that left me curious as to if I was correct in my guesstimate as to who the actual villain really was. 

The mysterious Hideo becomes more than Emika's employer after the two grow closer. One could say that this is a very smart person in Emika who has finally met the person who put her on the road to becoming an even better hacker that is hard to resist. The ending of the story itself is just mind blowing and sets up an irresistible urge to read the next installment as soon as I can get my hands on the book. 

Chapter 1

It’s too damn cold of a day to be out on a hunt.

I shiver, tug my scarf up higher over my mouth, and wipe a few snowflakes from my lashes. Then I slam my boot down on my electric skateboard. The board is old and used, like everything else I own, its blue paint almost entirely scraped off to reveal cheap silver plastic underneath—but it’s not dead yet, and when I push my heel down harder, it finally responds, jerking me forward as I squeeze between two rows of cars. My bright, rainbow-dyed hair whips across my face.

“Hey!” a driver yells as I maneuver past his car. I glance over my shoulder to see him waving a fist at me through his open window. “You almost clipped me!”

I just turn back around and ignore him. Usually, I’m a nicer person than this—or, at least, I would have shouted an apology back. But this morning, I’d woken up to a yellow paper taped to the door of my apartment, its words printed in the largest font you can imagine.


Translation: I’m almost three months behind on my rent. So, unless I can get my hands on $3,450, I’ll be homeless and in the streets by the end of the week.

That’d put a damper on anyone’s day.

My cheeks sting from the wind. The sky beyond the cut of skyscrapers is gray, turning grayer, and in a few hours this flurry of snow will become a steady fall. Cars jam the streets, a nonstop trail of brake lights and honking from here all the way to Times Square. The occasional scream of a traffic controller’s whistle cuts above the chaos. The air is thick with the smell of exhaust, and steam billows from an open vent nearby. People swarm up and down the sidewalks. Students coming home from school are easy to spot, their backpacks and fat headphones dotting the crowds.

Technically, I should be one of them. This should have been my first year of college. But I started skipping classes after Dad died and dropped out entirely several years ago. (Okay, fine—technically, I was expelled. But I swear I would’ve quit anyway. More on that later.)

I look down at my phone again, my mind returning to the hunt. Two days ago, I had gotten the following text message:

New York Police Department ALERT!
Arrest warrant out for Martin Hamer.
Payment $5,000.

The police are so busy these days with the increasing crime in the streets that they don’t have time to hunt for petty criminals on their own—petty criminals like Martin Hamer, who’s wanted for gambling on Warcross, stealing money, and allegedly selling drugs to fund his bets. So, about once a week, the cops send out a message like this, a promise to pay anyone who can catch the criminal in question.

That’s where I come in. I’m a bounty hunter, one of many in Manhattan, and I’m fighting to capture Martin Hamer before another hunter can.

Anyone who’s ever fallen on hard times will understand the nearly constant stream of numbers that run through my mind. A month’s rent in the worst apartment in New York: $1,150. A month’s food: $180. Electricity and internet: $150. Boxes of macaroni, ramen, and Spam left in my pantry: 4. And so on. On top of that, I owe $3,450 in unpaid rent, and $6,000 in credit card debt.

The number of dollars left in my bank account: $13.

Not the normal things a girl my age worries about. I should be freaking out over exams. Turning in papers. Waking up on time.

But I haven’t exactly had a normal adolescence.

Five thousand dollars is easily the largest bounty in months. For me, it might as well be all the money in the world. So, for the last two days, I’ve done nothing but track this guy. I’ve lost four bounties in a row this month. If I lose this one, too, I’m going to be in real trouble.

Tourists always clogging up the streets, I think as a detour forces me down a path right into Times Square, where I get stuck behind a cluster of auto-taxis jammed at a pedestrian walkway. I lean back on my board, pull myself to a halt, and start inching backward. As I go, I glance down at my phone again.

A couple of months ago, I’d succeeded in hacking into the main directory of Warcross players in New York and synced it all up to my phone’s maps. It’s not hard, not if you remember that everyone in the world is connected in some way to everyone else. It’s just time-consuming. You worm your way into one account, then branch out to their friends, then their friends, and eventually, you’re able to track the location of any player in New York City. Now I’ve finally managed to place my target’s physical location, but my phone’s a cracked, beat-up old thing, with an antique battery that’s on its last legs. It keeps trying to sleep in order to save energy, and the screen is so dark I can barely see anything.

“Wake up,” I mutter, squinting at the pixels.

Finally, the poor phone lets out a pitiful buzz, and the red location marker updates on my map.

I make my way out of the taxi jam and push my heel down on my board. It protests for a moment, but then it speeds me forward, a dot in a sea of moving humanity.

Once I reach Times Square, screens tower above me, surrounding me in a world of neon and sound. Every spring, the official Warcross Championships kick off with a huge ceremony, and two teams of top-ranking players compete in an all-stars opening round of Warcross. This year’s opening ceremony happens tonight in Tokyo—so all the screens are Warcross-related today, showing a frenzied rotation of famous players, commercials, and footage of highlights from last year. Frankie Dena’s latest, craziest music video plays on the side of one building. She’s dressed like her Warcross avatar—in a limited edition suit and webbed glitter cape—and dancing with a bunch of businessmen in bright pink suits. Underneath the screen, a group of excited tourists stop to pose for photos with some guy dressed in fake Warcross gear.

Another screen features five of the superstar players competing in tonight’s opening ceremony. Asher Wing. Kento Park. Jena MacNeil. Max Martin. Penn Wachowski. I crane my neck to admire them. Each one is dressed from head to toe in the hottest fashion of the season. They smile down at me, their mouths big enough to swallow the city, and as I look on, they all hold up cans of soda, declaring Coca-Cola their drink of choice during game season. A marquee of text scrolls below them:

Top Warcross Players Arrive in Tokyo, Poised for World Domination

Then I’m through the intersection and cut onto a smaller road. My target’s little red dot on my phone shifts again. It looks like he’s turned onto Thirty-Eighth Street.

I squeeze my way through another few blocks of traffic before I finally arrive, pulling over along the curb beside a newsstand. The red location dot now hovers over the building in front of me, right above a café’s door. I tug my scarf down and let out a sigh of relief. My breath fogs in the icy air. “Caught you,” I whisper, allowing myself a smile as I think of the five-thousand-dollar bounty. I hop off my electric skateboard, pull out its straps, and swing it over my shoulder so that it bumps against my backpack. It’s still warm from use, the heat of it seeping through my hoodie, and I arch my back to savor it.

As I pass the newsstand, I glimpse the magazine covers. I have a habit of checking them out, searching for coverage of my favorite person. There’s always something. Sure enough, one of the magazines features him prominently: a tall young man lounging in an office, dressed in dark trousers and a crisp collar shirt, sleeves casually rolled up to his elbows, his face obscured by shadows. Below him is the logo for Henka Games, Warcross’s parent studio. I stop to read the headline.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday #Review - Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff #Fantasy @misterkristoff @StMartinsPress

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle # 2 
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Library
Genre: Epic Fantasy

A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

Godsgrave, by author Jay Kristoff, is the second installment in the authors The Nevernight Chronicles. Godsgrave picks up 8 months after the slaughter by the Luminatii on the Quiet Mountain and the Red Church. Since then, protagonist Mia Corvere has become one of the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder. There are some, however, who continue to believe that she didn't really earn her title, even though she freaking saved a bunch of people's lives. Were it not for Mia, a whole lot of others would be dust in the wind.

“If Vengeance has a mother, her name is Patience.”   

Nonetheless, Mia still doesn't exactly have a clear path at finally getting her revenge on those who killed her father, shoved her mother and brother in a hole, and tried to drown her. That would be Consul Scaeva, and Cardinal Duomo if you missed the first book, or synopsis. Thankfully, Mia is a badass who has two daemons in Mister Kindly and Eclipse helping eating away her fears, and giving much needed humor to a very dark story. Let's really talk about this story without giving away any spoilers. Godsgrave has moved away from being a Hogwarts School for Assassins, and in return, moves into a gladiator arena where anything can happen and does.

That means that Kristoff's world has grown immensely bigger as well. Mia's desire for revenge sets her on a path that takes her all over the Republic of Itreya, including one stop at her families former home called Crow's Nest. It is the gladiator story itself that sits at the foundation of Mia's plan for taking out the last two people responsible for her families demise. If you thought that Kristoff was going to go easy on you after the first book, you thought wrong cupcakes. This is one of the more bloodier books I have read this year, and I have no idea why that appeals to me on such a strange level. 

This story actually alternates between two very curious timelines I believe to be several months apart. The present storyline is Mia's attempt at surviving as a slave and being sold to a collegium where gladiatti, (gladiators), fight for their freedoms. The past timeline is where things get tricky, especially when Mia encounters several curious paths to her path to revenge, including being allied with the one person she should be killing on sight. I can honestly say that the author really punches the readers in the mouth with both the ridiculous bloodshed and revelations about who Mia should be focusing on, as well as the heart pulsing final chapters that really left me saying HOLY SHIT! 

If you are curious about the artwork on the books cover, I can say that it indicates a particular scene in the book which was not only action packed, but set the cornerstone for what will lead into the third installment. This is one of those books where the author definitely proves he is not just a one trick pony, that there is plenty more in his repertoire. At the same time, he gives you a push off the cliff, while tossing a parachute after you in hopes that you catch it in time to save yourself from excruciating pain. While the story definitely kicks the middle book syndrome in the coyones, it did leave me curious as to not only Mia's future, and that of several others, but whether or not we will finally get an understanding about what it means to be a Darklin, and who the strange she meets in this book is.

"Fear not, little mortal. The song is not yet sung. This is but the calm before the crescendo."     

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday #Review - Ally (Nemesis #2) by Anna Banks #YALit #SyFy

Series: Nemesis # 2
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult \ Science Fiction 

The thrilling sequel to Nemesis from Anna Banks, the New York Times-bestselling author of the Syrena Legacy
Princess Sepora of Serubel and King Tarik of Theoria have formed an uneasy truce between their kingdoms since the deadly plague began to rip through Theoria. Since their feelings for each other are entangled in politics and power, they must use their own trusted resources to find common ground.
But when traitors with powerful allies arise from unexpected places, Tarik and Sepora face challenges that will change both of their kingdoms forever. Will they learn whom to trust―including each other―in time to save their kingdoms, their relationship and even their lives?

Ally, by author Anna Banks, is the second part of the Nemesis duology. One final time we dive back into the lives of Princess Sepora of Serubel and King Tarik of Theoria. Banks alternatives each chapter between the two characters, which pretty much means they get equal storylines. As the story picks up, Sepora has chosen not to Forge any more spectorium, but there are those who are eager for her to continue. Like her own father. Like Tarik. Both believe that with the pending war on the horizon, spectorium is necessary to win. But, that is only the tip of the iceberg.

At the same time, Sepora and Tarik are soon to be married, and marrying means a royal engagement procession through all of the neighbors both rich, middle class, and poor. But, obstacles stand in their way. Obstacles which include Sepora's parents being around and under foot and constantly grating on the nerves of everyone. If you really want to uncover the key player in this story, please focus your attention on Queen Hanlyn. 

One especially heinous truth is discovered during a key moment in one of the opening chapters. This discovery is like a wet blanket over the rest of the story which is really a shame. I do declare that Sepora's refusal to forge is at the very top of the reason why there are so many issues with this story. This one issue alone drives wedges between the couple because she can't find a way to tell the truth about what is really happening, or if she really feels the same way about Tarik. What's worse, is that they are both to blame, and not just one person. 

Yet, it is when Sepora herself is kidnapped that the turmoil really begins in earnest and you can say you either loved what the author does at this point, or get angry and toss your book across the room. This is when Prince Sethos shines like a bright light. Let's also add Princess Tulle to that equation as well. As the final chapters are revealed, and war is on the horizon, readers will really get an idea how absolutely perfect the two are for each other, and how they probably should have been given equal star power for not only what they accomplish, but what they bring to the story itself.

In the end, probably not the best finale I've read this year, but the final chapters are entertaining nonetheless. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday #Review - Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Blood Rose Rebellion # 1
Format: Hardcover 
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult \ Fantasy \ Historical

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.
Her life might well be over.
In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.
As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Series Overview: Sixteen-year-old Anna, never capable in magic, finds she holds the key to reshape the nature of magic and the ways of society—but it will be a dangerous journey.

Blood Rose Rebellion, by debut author Rosalyn Eves, is the first installment in the author's Blood Rose Rebellion trilogy. 
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden, (soon to be Seventeen), never capable of magic, finds that she may hold the key to reshaping the future of magic and the ways of society deals with those who have access to magic. But, it will be a dangerous journey. One that begins after she somehow manages to destroy her older sister Catherine's coming out party in front of a collection of Luminate's who govern all magic. 

Anna is part of a Luminate family in England. Unfortunately for Anna, when the time came for her to gain her magical abilities during her confirmation, something terrible happened. Anna is considered to be Barren, which means she has no access to magic. But, Anna seems to have the strange ability to disrupt magic. Something that puts her in a perilous position of being used by anyone with an agenda. After her sisters coming out party is ruined by Anna, her family sends her away to Hungary with her grandmother to become a more suitable lady for marriage. 

While in Hungary, Anna's life as she knows it flips upside down and sideways. She ends up being in the middle of those who want to use her magical disruption abilities to shatter the Binding that was put in place by none other than Charlemagne. As Anna gets involved with many different parties, including her own cousin Noemi, and a Romani by the name of Gabor, she also has a target on her back for those who don't want her to move against the Binding. There are those in Hungary who are not at all happy with the Circle or the Luminate, and are willing to rise up if only someone had a way to make things equal.

The series uses elements of European mythology and folklore, tying into popular fairy tale and folk tale retellings. Starting in 1847 London, the story quickly moves to Hungry where there is a rebellion at foot to make access to magic available to everyone. I do love historical fiction novels. I love that Eves finds a way to intermingle actual historical figures and places like Buda & Pest (Budapest) and the struggles that Hungary had at gaining independence from Austria. I do like that there are different sects of magical users like Coremancers, Elementalists, and Animanti. 

The romance aspect of this story is a bit confusing. The relationship between Anna and Gábor starts out cold and prickly because Anna is Luminate and Gábor is Romani (gypsy). Their forbidden love and romance ends up being almost redundant when all is said and done because of how the book ends. Nope, not going to spoil the ending. There is so much more than what I am able to say in this review. Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would.  

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuesday #Review - Bitter Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff #Mystery

Series: The Huntress/FBI Thrillers # 4
Format: Paperback, 452 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Source: Publisher Signed Copy
Genre: Mystery / Detective

FBI agent Matthew Roarke has been on leave, and in seclusion, since the capture of mass killer Cara Lindstrom—the victim turned avenger who preys on predators. Torn between devotion to the law and a powerful attraction to Cara and her lethal brand of justice, Roarke has retreated from both to search his soul. But Cara’s escape from custody and a police detective’s cryptic challenge soon draw him out of exile—into the California desert and deep into Cara’s past—to probe an unsolved murder that could be the key to her long and deadly career.
Following young Cara’s trail, Roarke uncovers a horrifying attack on a schoolgirl, the shocking suicide of another, and a human monster stalking Cara’s old high school. Separated by sixteen years, crossing paths in the present and past, Roarke and fourteen-year-old Cara must race to find and stop the sadistic sexual predator before more young women are brutalized.

Bitter Moon, by author Alexandra Sokoloff, is the 4th installment in The Huntress/FBI Thrillers series. This story actually takes a bit of a turn from the previous installments. This time Sokoloff alternates her story between both Cara Lindstrom and Matthew Roarke nearly equally. But, there is a twist. You see, Cara's story takes place 16 years ago, while Roarke's is in the present. So, in fairness to Cara, and the fact that readers like me were really intrigued at how it all happened, let's start with her journey first.

Cara's story takes place when she was 14-years old. At 12-years of age, Cara was sentenced to the California Young Authority for 2 years after she stopped a rapist and his cohort from taking advantage of her. After 2 years in CYA, Cara learned a few things that have helped her to survive. If you have read the previous 3 installments, you know that Cara has had an unbelievably awful life. From being the only survivor of a serial killer, to being shoved in one group home to another, to being tossed back into the system after her only blood relatives couldn't deal with her, to being exposed to abuse and violence. 

Bitter Moon explores Cara's life as she hopes to return normal. This includes her temporarily changing her name. But, Cara can't hide who she is, and is almost immediately able to sense that IT has followed her to her new school. IT has also followed her to her new home which sets her on a course we have come to know as the Vigilante who goes after the very worst in society. IT also may be responsible for the dual attacks on two girls from her school. Cara knows that IT has followed her, but now Cara must face IT in hopes that she can finally escape IT's grasp, and save other innocent girls from the same fate. 

Meanwhile, Roarke is swimming against the tide after what happened in Cold Moon. He is left searching for a reason to continue his job. Watching Cara, and three other women disappear without knowing where they went, has gotten under his skin. Roarke had become rather obsessed with Cara in the run up to this story, but has been trying to put her out of his mind for his own sanity. After a strange call from a LEO in Palm Desert, Roarke's new investigation leads him to explore Cara's life, a possible serial rapist that has been around since Cara was a kid, and what led her to the path that she is currently on. 

One of the curious aspects of this series is whether or not Cara has some supernatural ability to see the evil in those she meets. From my perspective, she has had a pretty decent record to this point, and even now, Roarke and others, are pretty sure this isn't something to ignore. I have to give props to the fact that the author once again brings highlights to what I think is a huge crime that is taking place right under our noses. I am speaking, of course, of rape cases and the fact that there are literally thousands of rape kits sitting in storage waiting to be tested because local LEO's claim they don't have the money to test them all.

This is unacceptable. As a rape survivor, I was lucky enough to have had an honest pair of LEO's take my case, and ensure my attackers received the justice they deserved. Of course, it helps that I actually fought back, hard. Unfortunately, not everyone can say that. We, as a society, can really and truly rid ourselves of rapists if we could spend same money we do for other less important things like a bridge to nowhere, and a whole slew of other less important things. Image all the cold cases that could be closed?

I have to thank the publisher for sending me signed copies of the first 4 books. I have also heard that this series is in active development for a possible TV show, and that the author has written book # 5 in the series which releases later this month. Apparently, the producers don't want the author to end the series, and there is still so much more to explore with Cara before pulling the plug. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday #Review - The Silent Corner (Jane Hawk #1) by Dean Koontz #Mystery #Thriller

Series: Jane Hawk # 1
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Publisher: Bantam
Source: Library
Genre: Psychological / Thriller

The #1 bestselling author returns to his blockbuster thriller roots with a dazzling new series, a pure adrenaline rush, introducing a remarkable heroine certain to become an icon of suspense, both hunted and hunter in a twisting quest for answers and justice.
“I very much need to be dead.”
These are the chilling words left behind by a man who had everything to live for——but took his own life. In the aftermath, his widow, Jane Hawk, does what all her grief, fear, and fury demands: find the truth, no matter what.
People of talent and accomplishment, people admired and happy and sound of mind, have been committing suicide in surprising numbers. When Jane seeks to learn why, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America. Her powerful enemies are protecting a secret so important——so terrifying——that they will exterminate anyone in their way. But all their power and viciousness may not be enough to stop a woman as clever as they are cold-blooded, as relentless as they are ruthless——and who is driven by a righteous rage they can never comprehend. Because it is born of love.
Story Locale: Southern California.

The Silent Corner, by author Dean Koontz, is the first installment in the authors Jane Hawk series. FBI Special Agent Jane Hawk is the mother of a young son Travis, and the grieving widow of a decorated Marine Nick Hawk. Jane uncovers a monstrous conspiracy behind the death of her husband—and scores of others—and becomes the #1 fugitive in the country as she goes off the grid to forge a trail to all those responsible…no matter what it takes.

"Those who are truly off the grid and cannot be tracked by any technology, yet are able to move about freely and use the Internet, are said to be in “the silent corner.”

For the past several months, Jane has been on a mission. She's placed herself on extended leave from the FBI's BAU unit, she's sold her home, she's stayed off the grid, she's interviewed several dozen loved ones who have had similar
losses, and traveled across country after her child was threatened by a mysterious caller. She has no intention of letting who ever is behind her husbands death get away with it, or threaten her own child. Her mission is to discover why her otherwise healthy and non-depressed husband, with everything to live for, committed suicide.

The note he left behind is as strange and bizarre and coincides with an uptick in suicides across the country. Jane has concluded that there are some very talented individuals who are systemically checking out. The suicides are all as bizarre as her own husbands. Some have even left curious notes behind which all lead to questions about their mindset at the time of death. But, by inquiring into something that is deep, dark, and twisted, Jane has put a target on her back. A target that has sharks churning in the waters looking for Jane's blood. 

I have to say that Jane is one smart, tough cookie, who doesn't flinch when things need to be done. She doesn't shy away from approaching the deepest, darkest truths that certain individuals are trying hard to cover up. She isn't afraid of getting her hands dirty investigating every single lead she can get her hands on. While reading this book, I came to the conclusion that author is a huge fan the of The Manchurian Candidate. In fact, one of the subjects in this book is called rayshaws. 

Rayshaws are reprogrammed humans who have no clue that they are being controlled. Not unlike the Manchurian Candidate, there are characters who are caught up in a dangerous web, yet, they have no idea they are being controlled which leads to Jane having to rely on strangers who have skills all their own. There is plenty of action, and intrigue, and the most amazing part is that there isn't any unnecessary romance in this story since Jane isn't looking for another lover when hers was abruptly taken away from her.

Koontz is a writer who isn't afraid of exploring science that people say would never ever happen any time in our lifetimes. Yet, the technology, including weaponized drones, is in use today. There is so much that we don't know when it comes to our own governments intrusion into our lives. Yes, there are those that stand up to them and say enough is enough, but what other technology hasn't been uncovered as of yet. In this case, Jane is one voice in a jungle of hostile animals who want to tear her down and make an example of her. Let's hope the sequel is as exciting as the last part of this book was.