Thursday, April 27, 2017

#Thursday Review - The Wishing Heart by J.C. Welker #YALit #Fantasy @jcwelker @EntangledTeen

Series: Unknown
Format: E-Book, 370 pages
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

With a book in her bag and a switchblade in her pocket, Rebel's been thieving her way through life while hoping for a cure to fix her ailing heart.
But when the bejeweled vase she just tried to hawk turns out to be a jinni's vessel, Rebel gets lost to her world and dragged within another. Now every magical being in the city wants the vase for himself.

Thrust into a game of cat and mouse in a world she never knew existed, Rebel must use her uncanny skills to find a way to free Anjeline the Wishmaker.
But wishes have consequences. And contracts. Anjeline's freedom could unravel a love like Rebel has never known, or it could come at the cost of Rebel's heart...

The Wishing Heart, by author J.C. Welker, is a story told in alternating narratives by 17-year old Rebel, known as the Fingersmith, and Anjeline, known as the Wishmaker. Rebel was abandoned when she was just a baby at the Gramone's Institute for Displaced Youth. The only thing her mother left her was a book, which she takes with her everywhere she goes, and a pendant. 

Rebel is a character who has never met a lock that she couldn't pick. Some say she has the hands of a magician. But, unfortunately, her heart is another issue entirely. Rebel’s heart has gotten to the point where she needs one big heist in order to pay for surgery to fix it. When she breaks into an apartment, and steals a vase, Rebel finds herself discovering a world that she never knew existed or imagined after trying to sell it. 

Oh sure, Rebel, who is a bibliophile after my own heart, has wished every night for magical things, like the ability to fly, but nothing could prepare her for a world filled with lycanthropes, mermaids, sirens & mermen, Sun and Moon courts (Fae), or a Jinni who has been bound to a vassal by a diabolical Magician with an ax to grind. And, to top it off, Anjeline discovers that Rebel may be the one person who can free her. The one person with a selfless heart. 

But, all things come with a cost, and it will be a matter of making impossible choices. Can two unlikely friends find a way to fix Rebel's heart, free Anjeline from her prison, and find a happy ever after? I adore both of these characters. Rebel is a character with real issues, and problems that may end up killing her. But, she never lays down and feels sorry for herself. Anjeline has been forced to make wishes for the most ignorant people ever to live and stand back and watch the consequences of making these wishes. After meeting Rebel, Anjeline finds something she hasn't had in a long while. Hope.  

The Wishing Heart is an action packed story from start to finish. It features two genuinely fun characters who are both in bad situations, but by working together, they not only find a way to face their own demons, issues, and those trying to stop them, but an adorable romance blossoms as well. Something that Rebel definitely needs after growing up in a place where she never really got the chance to have the things she wanted without resorting to thieving with her cohort Jaxon, aka the Fox. The Wishing Heart reads as a standalone, and I can't find any other information if there will be a sequel or not. But, let me tell you the end of this story makes it abundantly clear that there is yet another adventure for Rebel, Anjeline, Jaxon, and a curious character named Piran, who is a Sun Court Fairie.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#Wednesday Review - Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton #YALit #Fantasy @AlwynFJH ‏@VikingBooks ‏

Series: Rebel of the Sands # 2
Format: Hardcover, 521 pages
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she's fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne. 
When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan's palace—she's determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan's secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she's a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she's been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

Traitor to the Throne is the second installment in author Alwyn Hamilton's Rebel of the Sand series. The story picks up (6) months after Rebel of the Sands ended. If you've read Rebel of the Sands recently, you will have no issues with jumping right back into the world that Hamilton has created. Protagonist Amani Al-Hiza has gone all in by joining the Rebellion led by Prince Ahmed. Amani's newly discovered powers are more than helpful when going up against all sorts of challenges. But, things are much, much different than in Rebel of the Sands. 

Amani's journey is one that sees her go on a rescue mission with fellow Demdji, to being betrayed, captured, and sold to the Sultan where she finds herself under his control and without any of her abilities. The old adage about never burning down your bridges because one day you might need to use that bridge to escape comes into play. This is a story that isn't filled with shootouts like Rebel of the Sands. This is a book that Amani has to choose whether she is a rebel, or a traitor, or something else entirely. 

While Amani may be under the Sultan's protection, she still has to live in a harem filled with backstabbing women, one she knows very well. But, being in the palace also has it's advantages. She can uncover certain secrets of the Sultan's that may be helpful to the Rebellion. That is if she can find a way to contact them without being caught. She has to decide who she can trust, and who she should stab, stab, stab. Lastly, she has to find a way to escape before having her real identity of the Blue-Eyed Bandit exposed. 

This is a story where you question whether or not the rebellion or the Sultan are the real villains. The Sultan has his uses, that is not in question. He also has some interesting plans for his Kingdom which means that Amani gets a first hand look at deciding whether Prince Ahmed is correct, or the Sultan. One of the most interesting aspects of Amani's story is that she, as a Demdji, can't tell a lie, which comes in handy to the Sultan. But, Amani is also a pawn in a much larger game. 

I am not all in on the romance between Amani and Jin, and probably won't be until he becomes less of an asshat. Jin isn't really around for most of this story having walked away after an event that found Amani being hurt badly. Yet, it is Jin who expects Amani will fall all over herself to forgive him for leaving, or not being there for her when she was hurt, or later when she is betrayed, and taken to the Sultan's palace. Once again, the story ends on a really heart aching cliffhanger. One in which we see a whole lot of character growth by Amani, and an acceptance that she needs to step up her game if those she loves are to survive what happens next.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Corruption by @JessShirvington #YALit #Dystopia @HarperCollins

Series: Disruption # 2
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Library
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia

The thrilling finale to bestselling author Jessica Shirvington's Disruption series.
How do you live with yourself when you've deceived the one you love? 
How do you move on when the person you've been fighting to save betrays you? 
Two years ago, Maggie Stevens began the hunt. Four weeks ago, Maggie's world fell apart, when she finally found what she'd been looking for. And when Quentin, who had blindly trusted her, unraveled her web of lies. 
Now, Maggie lives in the dark. But she's not about to stay there. Not when she still has to bring M-Corp down. Not when there is still a chance she could win him back. 
In the exhilarating conclusion to Disruption, Maggie must do whatever it takes to show the world the truth. And the price for her quest? Everything. 
But for who?

Corruption is the second and final installment in Jessica Shirvington's Disruption duology. Corruption finds protagonist Maggie Stevens in a dark place. Literally and figuratively. It has been (4) weeks since her world came unglued and the truth about her father came out. (4) weeks since Maggie's search for answers ended in betrayal, capture, and being imprisoned underground. 

Maggie's world was shattered two years ago after her father was taken away and labeled a Reg. A Reg is a person who fails to have (3) matches in a month. They are considered to be dangerous and are taken away to education farms, or worse, underground prisons where they will never be seen again. For two years, Maggie did everything she could possibly do to find her father. 

She broke into underground places where Regs were being kept. She blackmailed powerful people into doing her bidding, including her partner in crime, Gus who was last seen leaving Maggie behind after some truths came out. She also used Quentin Mercer, the son of the M-Corp's founder Gareth Mercer, who ended up being more than she thought. Maggie's determination to find her father put her into several categories: Calculated, Manipulative, Selfish, and a Blackmailer.

Maggie's world is one in which everyone is expected to be chipped. The chip scientifically manages everyone's pheromones that leads to supposed perfect, or near perfect matches. In the previous installment, Maggie manipulated Quentin into helping her, but it came with some really interesting surprises which I won't spoil. She also found herself being betrayed by those she manipulated and blackmailed into helping her. It was one of those moments where the villain calmly stated, checkmate.

After being suddenly released from her cell without any explanations, Maggie realizes that the game is not over yet. Gareth isn't done trying to ruin her life, and will do everything in his power to keep her away from Quentin. As Maggie tries to pick up the pieces of her life, she has to ensure that neither she, nor her mother, nor her brother aren't caught up in certain powerful people's aspirations or face becoming a Reg herself. Maggie pushes herself to the limits in this story by declaring war on M-Corp, and the one person who has done all he can to destroy her life. 

But, it won't be easy. Quentin isn't happy about being used. He doesn't forgive her for using him, or lying to him even though they are more than compatible. But, he obviously knows that they are fated to be together. While Maggie's spiraling out of control with her desire for revenge, Quentin and Gus may be the only two people who are able to talk her off that long drop to the very bottom of her existence. With Quentin, and Gus alongside, Maggie knows that the stakes are much higher than before. But, the payoff might lead to saving many, many people who have been affected by M-Corp and their technology. 

This is the sort of story that if you give up on it early, you miss the most important parts and the most action packed parts of the story, as well as the most emotional scene in the entire series. It is worthwhile to read these books back to back to ensure that you keep events of the first book fresh in your mind. Definitely recommended.

Monday, April 24, 2017

#Monday Review - The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine #YALit #Fantasy @cjredwine @BalzerandBray

Series: Ravenspire # 2
Format: Ebook, 432 pages
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss 
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.
Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague, who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.
So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.
But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul. 

"He'll grant you the deepest desire of your heart, but in ten years he'll return for your soul." 

The Wish Granter is the second installment in author C.J. Redwine's Ravenspire series, and an interesting twist on a German fairy tale called RumpelstiltskinThe Wish Granter's key characters are Princess Arianna, Sebastian Vaughn, and Alistair Teague, aka the villain aka The Wish Granter. Arianna and Vaughn are thrown together to face off against a man who grants your hearts desire, and then comes back to collect your soul in (10) years. There is no getting out of the bargain you make with Teague. If you try, he will find a way to may you pay.

Arianna and her brother Prince Thaddeus are the bastard twins of the King of Súndraille. After the Queen gives birth to a son, they find themselves being hunted by the Queen's hunters who wants them dead. After their mother is killed, Thaddeus one desire is to make sure that Arianna is safe no matter what. So, in doing what's, he makes a wish and a deal with Teague. (3) weeks later, the Royal family is suddenly dead, and Thaddeus is King of Súndraille, while Arianna, who describes herself  as curvaceous, which terms means she has some meat on her bones, becomes a Princess who is expected to act way beyond what she was born into.

But, in making his wish, Thaddeus is manipulated to the point where he is a King with no real standing. Nobody really trusts Thad. They question whether or not he had anything to do with the Royal families demise. Nobody except for his own sister who finds out about the wish, and Teague, and makes her plans to help Thaddeus break is agreement without losing his soul in the process. Teague now has an in towards all of the (7) Kingdoms that make up this world. Teague is also a Fae who has been living off the high horse for 200 years. He knows everything there is about tricking people into doing what he wants them to do.

I really liked Arianna. I liked that she considers herself a bit on the chunky side. I loved that she is eager to bake, and have fun, as well as find a way to defeat Teague which leads to some interesting twists and surprises. I love that she isn't just thrust into the spotlight, and becomes everyone's darling Princess. I love her connection to her best friend Cleo, and Mama Eleni. Ari is really good at baking, and numbers, and no so good at handling weapons, which makes Sebastian all that more important in the general scheme of things.

Sebastian is a character who knows a thing or two about living in squalor, having a father who is brutal, a mother who is addicted, and losing a brother thanks to Teague's business dealings. He becomes the King's weapon's master where he meets Arianna. Sebastian is a man of little words, but enough experience to understand Arianna's goals. Sebastian is curious about Arianna's request to make certain weapons. He becomes caught up in her desire to help find a way to defeat Teague and break his hold over her brother, and the kingdom of  Súndraille which has seen a dramatic uptick in violence.

The Wish Granter is told in the third person narrative rotating between Ari, Sebastian, and of course, Teague who really is a twisted sort of villain. You can call this a retelling, if you like. Or, you can say that the author made her own tale of a man who grants wishes, and takes souls without any reservation or hesitation. Even though it's not like the original story, Redwine still manages to write about fascinating characters, and twisted villains who face off against those who are more than up to the task of winning. I am all in regarding the romance. It is rather sweet, and yes I know that I normally don't use that word. The romance doesn't hinder the story. It enhances it, and makes it more intriguing to know that two characters can find a way to find chemistry when things are not exactly copacetic. 

While The Wish Granter may be the second installment in Ravenspire series, it is actually a standalone within the series itself. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed & Bagged # 60

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!

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 Shopping by! 
Thanks go out to Entangled Teen, Pocket Star, Berkley, DAW, & Ace!
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Tuesday - Blacklist by Alyson Noel (YA, Mystery)

Thursday - Brimstone by Cherie Priest (Historical Fiction)

Blog Tour Friday - Snared by Jennifer Estep (UF) 

Saturday - Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (YA, Fantasy)

*Received from NetGalley, Library, Publisher, Edelweiss*

((Finished Copies from Publisher))


Friday, April 21, 2017

#Saturday Review - Red Sister by Mark Lawrence #Epic Fantasy @Mark__Lawrence ‏ @AceRocBooks

Series: Book of the Ancestor # 1
Format: Kindle, 432 pages
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Ace Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Epic 

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.
But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.
Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

Red Sister is the first installment in author Mark Lawrence's Book of the Ancestor series. Lawrence is also the author of the Broken Empire Trilogy, which I have not read. Red Sister follows a girl known as Nona Grey. When readers first meet Nona, she is only (8) years old, but in reality, she comes across as a young woman twice her age. Lawrence takes readers on a journey that sees Nona taken away from her mother, and sold. Later, she is spirited away to a place called Sweet Mercy Convent after she is nearly hanged.  

By the time Nona is saved from being hanged, and brought to Sweet Mercy, she had already faced more challenges than most students will face in a lifetime. Sweet Mercy is filled with girls from a whole array of backgrounds. Some rich. Some dirt poor. Everyone has their quirks and their issues. This is a story that features girls in a school. What happens when you have girls in a school? There are bullies. There is jealously. There is infighting, and hair pulling, and jokes played on the newbies, and it is a place where you better pay attention because you never know when your teacher might try to poison you. 

Sweet Mercy is a place where the girls are separated into (4) classes: Red (9-12), Grey (13-14), Mystic (15-16), & Holy (17-19). Along with the (4) separate classes, there are also (4) paths for novices to take. Bride of the Ancestor, Martial Sister, Sister of Discretion, and Mystic Sister. Four is a key component of this series. The story is set in a world called Abeth. It is a fictitious world where the people of Abeth descend from (4) different tribes; Gerant, Hunska, Marjal, & Quantal. Also, there are (4) key characters that stand out among a large cast of characters. Besides Nona, there is also Arabella, Zole, & Clera. Please don't overlook Hessa. She really is an amazing character who is not only disabled, but one of the few friends that Nona has.

A large part of this story is centered around the actual teachings, while there are flashbacks interspersed here and there which tells how Nona's past is something that should be not be ignored. There is also something very important about Nona that makes her intriguing to those at Sweet Mercy and beyond. Because of her blood, she has much more of a future than most of the girls she meets along the way. I am just going to jump feet first and say this; The beginning and the ending are the most action packed and dramatic than most of the story. While there is a bit of a let down in the middle, I rather understand what the author is trying to translate to us as readers, rather than just take things as they come. 

Upon finishing this story, I compared the book to Grace Mercy but with the girl from Logan as the lead character. 

#Blog Tour/Review/Giveaway - Snared by Jennifer Estep (UF) @Jennifer_Estep @Pocket_Books

Series: Elemental Assassin # 16
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Pocket Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

The sixteenth book in the New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series that RT Book Reviews calls, “An extraordinary series…[containing] one of the most intriguing heroines in the genre.”
If you don’t know Gin “the Spider” Blanco, you don’t know dangerous female heroines.
Irony 101—The Spider herself snared in someone else’s web…
Another week, another few clues trickling in about the Circle, the mysterious group that supposedly runs the city’s underworld. Gathering intel on my hidden enemies is a painstaking process, but a more immediate mystery has popped up on my radar: a missing girl.
My search for the girl begins on the mean streets of Ashland, but with all the killers and crooks in this city, I’m not holding out much hope that she’s still alive. A series of clues leads me down an increasingly dark, dangerous path, and I realize that the missing girl is really just the first thread in this web of evil. As an assassin, I’m used to facing down the worst of the worst, but nothing prepares me for this new, terrifying enemy—one who strikes from the shadows and is determined to make me the next victim.

Snared is the Sixteenth installment in author Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series. Snared continues Gin Blanco's quest to uncover the identities of the Circle, the secretive and mysterious group that has their sticky fingers in almost everything that matters in Ashland. Ultimately, Gin hopes to find about her own mother, Eira Snow. Meanwhile, Gin gets a case handed to her that she really can't say no to. So, when she is approached by a minor underworld boss she owes a favor to, the Spider is on the job. The job leads her to a surprising revelation. Has the Spider finally met her match?

"I felt like I was Snared in someone else's spiderweb, and everything I did only made the sticky threads twist and tangle tighter and tighter around me."  

Snared is something of a thriller & a mystery wrapped into one. Gin becomes more of a detective, than an assassin in searching for not only the missing girl, but apparently a killer who is as cunning as them come. She looks to her Scooby Gang (Finn, Owen, Bria, Sophia, & Silvio et al) for assistance, and must put it all together quickly before the missing girl becomes just another casualty in Ashland's growing body count. Gin still has to deal with her job as Queen of the Underworld. She still has to deal with Vampires, Dwarves, and Giants who, I am starting to think, are being cloned by the dozens for them to appear everywhere to battle Gin to the death.

One of the curiosities that Estep has done recently, is flashbacks to Gin's past when she finds herself searching for answers. Flashbacks that are filled with keys to certain events that Gin somehow managed to bury deep in her psyche. A past that might hold quite a few answers about the Circle, as well as what part her mother played in the organization. I am fascinated by Hugh Tucker and Gin's relationship. It intrigues me that Tucker may hold the answers that Gin needs, but how far is Gin willing to go in order to get them? Will she sacrifice everything she's worked for to this point, for easy answers? But, there is one thing that they do have in common. Eira Snow.  

Bottom line for me is that this series continues to impress. You don't get this far in a series without having a fantastic writer, and a publisher willing to continue to have faith that readers are still willing to be there until the end. Snared is a great story, something that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has gotten to this point in the series. I adore Gin. I adore the fact that her romance with Owen hasn't be derailed by other things, and I love the fact that Gin is willing to put her life on the line even for those outside of her inner circle of friends and family. The ending of this story really does set the stage for Gin v the Circle for all the marbles. Let's pray we get a Royal Rumble of action, suspense, and ok, I'll say it, plenty of bodies hitting the ground.   

More frustration surged through me, mixed with even more disappointment, both of which burned through my veins like bitter acid. A couple of weeks ago, I’d found several safety-deposit boxes full of information on the Circle that my mentor, Fletcher Lane, had compiled. For some reason that I didn’t understand, Fletcher had only photos of the group’s members, but it had been simple enough for me to get their names, especially since many of them were such wealthy, prominent Ashland citizens.

I’d scouted several of the Circle members, and Damian Rivera had been the easiest target with the least amount of security. So I’d broken in here tonight in hopes of learning more about the group, especially the identity of the mystery man who headed the organization, the bastard who’d ordered my mother’s murder. But maybe there was a reason that Rivera’s security was so lax. Maybe he wasn’t as important or as involved with the Circle as I’d thought.

Still frustrated, I turned to the fireplace that took up most of the wall across from the bar. I’d already searched that area for loose stones and secret compartments and had come up empty. But any little bit of information could be important, so I pulled out my phone and snapped shots of all the framed photos propped up on the mantel, hoping that one of them might hold some small clue.

Not only did Damian Rivera love the finer things in life, but he also loved himself, since most of the photos were softly lit glamour shots showing off his wavy black hair, bronze skin, brown eyes, and startlingly white teeth. Rivera was in his prime in his early thirties, and he was an exceptionally handsome man—and a thoroughly disgusting individual, even by Ashland’s admittedly low, low standards.

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About Jennifer Estep:
Jennifer Estep is a New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. Snared, book #16, will be released on April 25.

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series. She is also the author of the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit or follow Jennifer on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

#Thursday Review - Brimstone by Cherie Priest #Fantasy #Historical @cmpriest @AceRocBooks

Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 304 pages
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Ace Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy

A new dark historical fantasy from the supremely gifted * Cherie Priest, author of Maplecroft and Boneshaker. 
In the trenches of Europe during the Great War, Tomas Cordero operated a weapon more devastating than any gun: a flame projector that doused the enemy in liquid fire. Having left the battlefield a shattered man, he comes home to find yet more tragedy for in his absence, his wife has died of the flu. Haunted by memories of the woman he loved and the atrocities he perpetrated, Tomas dreams of fire and finds himself setting match to flame when awake.... 
Alice Dartle is a talented clairvoyant living among others who share her gifts in the community of Cassadaga, Florida. She too dreams of fire, knowing her nightmares are connected to the shell-shocked war veteran and widower. And she believes she can bring peace to him and his wife s spirit. 
But the inferno that threatens to consume Tomas and Alice was set ablaze centuries ago by someone whose hatred transcended death itself.... *Christopher Golden, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author" 

Brimstone is a standalone novel set in the 1920's Florida. It is told in alternating POV's with Alice Dartle and Tomas Cordero as primary protagonists. 22-year old Alice is a clairvoyant from a long line of witches who has chosen to move away from her home, and travel to a place in Florida called Cassadaga. Tomas is a veteran of World War I and a tailor of some renown. He worked as a flame projector operator in the war, but is haunted by thoughts of his deceased wife who died of influenza, and untimely fires that target those closest to him.

Cassadaga is a place where people travel from all over the country to visit. Cassadaga is where a Spiritualist Camp is located, and hopefully, where Alice can be free to use her gift. It is a place where the weather is warm, and sunny almost all the time. It is a place that Alice is drawn to thanks to the small town atmosphere, but also has her own quirky characteristics. The girl loves to drink. She loves to party. She loves to be with people who enjoy the same. If you haven't figured it out yet, this story also takes place during the Prohibition which is funny seeing as the booze is a plenty. 

Tomas suffers from what psychiatrists today would call PTSD. He is a tortured soul, suffering from the things he saw in war. In the early 20th century, soldiers returning from war didn't get the treatment the do today. They are referred to as shell shocked, and looked sideways at because you never know when they might snap. Tomas struggles with his wife's death, the constant fires that continue to pop up inexplicably, the fires which causes him to take his new companion 
Felipe, the chihuahua to find Alice and Cassadaga in search of answers for better or worse.  

One of the main things that connects both characters, is fire. She dreamed of an American soldier surrounded by fire, being haunted by it, He has way too many encounters with fire to be considered anything but directed at him. It's also concerning to say that his deceased wife, who died while he was away at war, plays a huge part in the story's events as well. This is a story that moves forward quickly. As Tomas puts the pieces together of a bizarre puzzle, Alice is finding her own way through learning more about her abilities that brings Tomas to Cassadaga to find answers.

For the record, Cassadaga is actually a real place. It is a small unincorporated community located in Volusia Count, Florida, in between Orlando and Daytona Beach. Also, Tomas's home town of Ybor City, Florida is currently a neighborhood in Tampa, Florida founded by immigrants from Cuba, Spain, and Italy.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#Wednesday Review - The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard #Fantasy @AceRocBooks

Series: Dominion of the Fallen # 2
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Ace Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction

The multi-award-winning author of The House of Shattered Wings continues her Dominion of the Fallen saga as Paris endures the aftermath of a devastating arcane war....
As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by Fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.
House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Philippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.
In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear....
As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

The House of Binding Thorns is the second installment in author Aliette de Bodard's Dominion of the Fallen series. In a Paris that never was, a city of magicians, alchemists and Fallen angels struggles to recover from a devastating magical war that left the city in shambles. The House of Hawthorn, led by a Fallen Angel named Asmodeus, is where this story begins. But, it also includes the Dragon Kingdom, which is an under the Seine River, that gets plenty of storyline as well. 

In the first installment, The House of Shattered Wings, the author did all of the world building, so if you haven't yet read that book, I recommend that you do in order to understand how we got to this point in the series. In the previous installment, the author introduced readers to Madeline, an alchemist with an addiction to angel essence. We were also introduced Philippe, who is neither a man, nor a Fallen, yet possibly just as powerful as one. Both characters return to fight yet another battle that will encompass them both before things are finished. 

Other Major characters include: Houseless Annamite Françoise (who wields rather peculiar and powerful Fallen magic), and dragon prince Thuan (with a talent for getting into major trouble). 

Madeleine, who staggered away from House Silverspires at the end of the last installment, is back to where she originally began. House Hawthorn. Broken of her angel addiction, forcibly, Madeleine is once again bound to the House of Hawthorn and Asmodeus who she has a fearful relationship with. Madeleine ends up being sent to the Dragon Kingdom under the Seine River by Asmodeus. When
she arrives in the Viet Kingdom, things are not so impressive or clear. Madeleine is a character who may not like Asmodeus and the way he deals with things, but she seems to be the only one willing to do the right thing when things are most bleak.  

Elsewhere, Philippe is finding his way in the city that was broken by a war that hit Paris 60 years ago. He has access to magic, but refuses to be used by any House ever again. Especially after losing Isabelle. He uses what magic he has to help the homeless that have been caught in a never ending struggle for survival. Philippe's entire storyline revolves around finding a way to bring her back. In the end, it brings him to Houseless Annamite Françoise and her lover, a Fallen named Berith, who may hold the key to bring Isabelle back to life.

Asmodeus is a powerful force that lurks behind every one of these characters in one way or the other. It is he who finds himself under attack by outside forces looking to take advantage of every crack of perceived weakness. It is he who ends up sending a delegation to the Viet Kingdom of Dragons for not only a peace accord, but a replacement for his consort who fell in the last installment. But, the rong have major issues, including a major plague of angel essence that has caused factions to fight against each other for supremacy.

Asmodeus is a villain, yet he is an impressive one. He is a character who you will love to root against time and time again. He is a schemer, a Fallen who has made more than his fair share of mistakes, and caused untold pain and suffering to many, many who stood in his way. Even though one might cheer for his destruction, you can't help but feel just a bit for him, and hope that he comes out on top. One might think that Asmodeus is as uncaring as they come, but under his dark exterior, lies someone who needs a bit of love and understanding.