Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday #Review - A Conspiracy in Belgravia by @sherrythomas ‏ #Historical #Mystery @BerkleyPub

Series: Lady Sherlock # 2
Format: E-Galley, 336 pages
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Mystery & Detective / Historical

The game is afoot as Charlotte Holmes returns in USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas’s Victorian-set Lady Sherlock series.
Being shunned by society gives Charlotte Holmes the freedom to put her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. As “Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective,” aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for the new client who arrives at her Upper Baker Street office.
Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s benefactor, wants Sherlock Holmes to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half-brother.
Her investigative prowess will be challenged as never before: Can she find her brother in time—or will he end up as an unidentified corpse somewhere in the belly of London?
Story Locale: Victorian England
Series Overview: Charlotte Holmes investigates crimes in Victorian-era London with the help of a female benefactor and a handsome gentleman, in this exciting new series from a USA Today bestselling author.

A Conspiracy in Belgravia is the second installment in author Sherry Thomas' Lady Sherlock series. This is a series that features a "ruined" Lady Sherlock. It is a story that appeals to both historical mystery and romance readers. If you have read any of Sherry Thomas's previous novels, you know that she is a highly creative and imaginative writer. Her characters are as creative and imaginative as the writer herself. Thomas is one of the better historical writers of this generation, which means you get a story that weaves plots, characters, and romances into an entertaining story.

A Conspiracy of Belgravia picks up right where A Study in Scarlet Women left off. Charlotte Holmes, along with Lord Ingram and Inspector Treadles of Scotland Yard, solved the Sackville murder case. In doing so, Charlotte now has a reputation as one who is able to get to the bread and butter of the mystery. Doesn't mean that she is a likable character to all the people she's met. Just means that her brain sees things in a different sort of light. So, it is a curious twist of fate that brings Lord Ingram's wife to Sherlock Holmes to solve the case of a missing lover who seems to have disappeared. 

Charlotte's partner in the Sherlock Holmes endeavor is Mrs Watson. Watson is concerned about accepting the lady as a client given Charlotte's close relationship with Lord Ingram. A relationship that could be severely affected by what they discover. Penelope Redmayne joins Charlotte and Watson in this endeavor because Lady Ingram knows who Charlotte is, and if she discovers Charlotte is really Sherlock, the jib would be up. Lady Ingram claims that she fell in love with a man named Myron Finch, who, we learn, just happens to be Charlotte's illegitimate half brother. Charlotte agrees to help.

While Charlotte is working on Lady Ingram's case, she is once again approached by Lord Bancroft Ashburton, Ingram's older brother. Bancroft is determined to give Charlotte so twisted of a case to try to solve, that he gives her little room to say no to his proposal of marriage. If you've read the first installment, you know that Bancroft has had his eye on Charlotte for sometime, but she has never desired the status of a married woman. After her fall from grace, marriage to Bancroft could be exactly what brings her a new lease on life from the snobs of the so called polite English society. 

Aside from the fact that Bancroft refuses to be told no, he does recognize the skill that Charlotte has at hand. He gives her pieces of a strange puzzle to solve which leads Charlotte to using the very real Vigenère cipher. After days of trying, Charlotte and Lord Ingram are lead to an address in North West of London where a body is discovered. Could the murdered man be Lady's Ingram's Mr. Finch? Or, could the man have somehow gotten caught up in Moriarty's machinations and therefore was murdered before he could reveal what he was dong in Hounslow?

Charlotte, who is no longer acceptable to polite society after the events of the first novel, chose to not only become Sherlock Holmes, but to solve the most innocent of cases while trying to keep a low public profile. Her relationship with Mrs. John Watson has grown from the point where Watson was pushed into helping Charlotte after she was dumped out on the streets by her parents after her very public fall from grace. Charlotte is a helluva a character. 

She is a person who knows that she could take care of Olivia and her disabled sister Bernadette if she made a real name for herself, and was able to take care of them monetarily without being threatened by her father to immediately return home. Should mention that Charlotte is a character who loves to eat? She even checks out the number of acceptable chins she is allowed to have before grabbing for another serving. 

After working with Charlotte, one could now call out Inspector Treadles for being more than a little misogynistic when it comes to female detectives, and their place in society. More on him later. What we know from traveling along with Charlotte on her first real adventure, is that there is a criminal mastermind named Moriarty who apparently has his fingers into a whole cross section of English society. Moriarty hasn't been revealed yet, but I am hopeful any sequel will take care of that issue.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday #Review - Even the Darkest Stars by @heathermfawcett ‏ #YALit #Fantasy @BalzerandBray

Series: Even the Darkest Stars # 1
Format: E-Book, 432 pages
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Epic Fantasy
Ages 13 And Up, Grades 8 And Up 

A sweeping and action-packed debut fantasy—the first in a duology—about a teen girl who is hired as a mountain-climbing guide for a mysterious and eccentric explorer and is faced with climbing the most dangerous peak in her world
Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.
But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb, or beating her to the summit.
The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

Even the Darkest Stars is the first installment in debut author Heather Fawcett's Even the Darkest Stars duology, with the sequel scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2018. 17-year old Kamzin is the protagonist. She lives on Mount Azmiri, and is the youngest daughter of the village elder. Her sister Lusha is all about astrology and studying the stars to see what the future holds. Kamzin is also apprentice to the village's Shaman, but she is a much better at being a climber, a mapper, and explorer than she is with magic. 

Kamzin is ecstatic when River Shara, the Royal Explorer, shows up in her village looking for a guide to lead him to Mount Raksha. River claims Emperor Lozong needs a powerful talisman that the witches left in their sky city on the top of Raksha, the world's tallest mountain. Nobody has ever climbed that mountain, but Kazmin and her sister Lusha are the only ones left alive who know how to get their. That's because of their mother Insia who lost her life climbing.
River's lure is that if the witches get their power back, they could destroy everything. Including the village Kazmin calls home.

This is a series that is set in a fictional kingdom reminiscent of Nepal. Even the Darkest Stars is inspired by both Eastern mythology and the early climbers of Mount Everest. What makes this story so fascinating, is the mountain setting. It is a place filled with dangerous cliffs, sheer rock faces, ice and snow, and Mount Raksha isn't know for being easy on climbers. It laughs in the face of climbers and spits them out leaving nothing but bones & ghosts when its through with them. But, before they even get to Raksha, Kamzin, River, & Tem, Kamzin's best friend who joins the expedition, have to deal with the elements, and enough peril to keep you on the seat of your pants.

There is a lot of dark power at play throughout this novel. There are shamans, witches, familiars (Kamzin strangely enough has one, and so does her sister), and one unforgettable character that I won't spoil. From fiangou-bird-human-like creatures to shapeshifting witches, dragons, ghosts, wolf-like jinns, and familiars (including an adorably mangy fox!), Even the Darkest Stars is full of fantastical and unique creatures. The story is a suspenseful fantasy with a strong voice anchored by Kamzin: a funny, smart, self-deprecating, yet totally confident heroine readers will love.

The last chapters of this book were quiet possibly the best ones of the entire story. This is a story that has a whole lot of conversation, a whole lot of traveling, a whole lot of twists, and some interesting questions regarding Kamzin and how she came to having a familiar. One could say, and has been said that there is a twisted romantic triangle involved in this story between Kamzin, her best friend Tem, and River. I say let the story play itself out before worrying about a love triangle. With the combination of gorgeous setting, thrilling action, dangerous magic, and a lively and accessible voice reminiscent of The Crown’s Game, Even the Darkest Stars has everything YA fantasy fans are looking for.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tuesday #Review - Black Bird of the Gallows by @megkassel ‏ #YALit #Paranormal @EntangledTeen

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 300 pages
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal 

A dark psychological romance perfect for fans of Holly Black or Maggie Stiefvater, whose yet to be published sequel won the Golden Heart ® for Best Young Adult Romance.
A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full. Harbingers settle in places where tragedy is about to strike, then feed on the energy of the dying. Then, they leave. Off to the next doomed place. No one wants a family of harbingers of death as neighbors, but that’s exactly what seventeen-year-old Angie Dovage gets when Reece Fernandez moves in next door.
Angie knows the mysterious boy is more than he appears, but can’t imagine that his presence heralds a massive tragedy that will soon devastate the region. She has more to worry about than Reece’s inevitable departure, because where harbingers of death go, the Beekeepers follow. Their sting turns sane people crazy, kind people into killers. Where Beekeepers go, people die. Quite horribly, in fact. Their love of chaos makes a disaster that much harder to survive, and they are stinging at will, causing a sudden epidemic of violence in her quiet mining town.
Angie wants to protect everyone she cares about, but stopping the Beekeepers involves a choice that will claim her life or Reece’s soul. She’s about to learn the price of both.

Black Bird of the Gallows is the debut novel by author Meg Kassel. Protagonist Angelina "Angie" Dovage is a survivor who carries heavy baggage, and no matter what she does, she can't remove the stigma from what happened to her while she was with her mother. Some have even resorted to calling her "Tabloid Freakshow." This comes from living in a world where nothing happens without someone shoving a camera in your face and demanding you answer their questions before running off to Twitter, Facebook, and complaining that you are untouchable or other names. 

I was drawn in right from the start after Angie meets her new neighbor Reece Fernandez. Reece and his family moves into the house next door to her and her father. The same house where something horrible took place. Angie notices that there are a whole lot of crows around her neighborhood since Reece arrived. Crows that don't seem to bother Reece at all. Pretty much the first thing Reece tells Angie is, Stay Away from the Bees. What that means, is anyone's guess. Crows also seem to be keeping an eye out for Angie and leaving her presents. But, why? 

I'll say that a very interesting twist happens right in the beginning, and that's because of a character named Rafette and the fact that he takes a keen interest in Angie after meeting her only one time. I won't go into spoiler territory, but I will say that his arrival makes the story even more dark, and even more twisted that without him. Angie becomes a bit obsessive over Reece, and perhaps a bit stalkerish as well. What she learns would make anyone else run to the hills, and ever come back. But, we're not talking about me. I read where someone has compared the beginning to Twilight. ::head desk::

Thankfully for Angie, she has two best friends in Dino and Lacey who are also into the music scene, and a father who never gave up finding Angie when she was gone. Angie is a DJ at a local mall where wears the persona of a girl named Sparo. Sparo is the polar opposite of Angie, and nobody knows who she really is. I would characterize this as someone doing their best to put a new face forward, while leaving her past, and the school bullies to their own vices. I liked Lacey a bit more than I did Dino. Lacy is the kind of person who believes in Omens & Signs, and the signs are that something horrible is about to take place in Cadence. 

This is a story that is complex, but also predictable. Not only do you have crows, but you also have harbingers of death, a creature called the Beekeeper, and an unseen ancient beings who we really don't really meet but feel their presence. Reece and Angie form a connection that isn't insta-lust. It's a connection born from the things that have happened to them both in the past. The publishers catalog classifies the story as a Young Adult, Paranormal with an intriguing romance. That's a pretty good description. According to Kassel's author page, there are two more books to come. A novella called Cleaner of Bones later this year which will feature Reece, and Keeper of the Bees which is supposed to be a full length novel coming sometime in 2018.

Debut author Meg Kassel is a New Jersey native who graduated from Parson's School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before embracing her true passion. She lives in Maine with her family. A fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been inspired by the fantastic and creepy. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading and hanging out with her family. She is a two-time finalist and the 2016 winner of the RWA Golden Heart© contest in YA.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday #Review - The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter #Mystery #Thriller @SlaughterKarin @WmMorrowBooks ‏

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Mystery & Detective

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville's notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.
Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case that unleashes the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried forever…

“Sometimes, your world turns upside down, and you need somebody to show you how to walk on your hands before you can find your feet again.”

Karin Slaughter's The Good Daughter is the story about two different sisters, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn, who survived the unthinkable. 28 years ago, Charlie (13) and Samantha (15) barely survived a horrific night that left their mother dead by two men with a grudge against their father, defense lawyer Rusty Quinn. The date, 03/16/1989, will forever live in infamy for the girls and their father who lost his soul mate. If you've read Last Breath, the prequel to this story, then you've already been introduced to Charlotte. Charlie's life is so much more twisted than when we left her 13 years ago.

But, let's put Charlie aside for a moment. Let's instead talk about her older sister Samantha Quinn. Sam gets half of the storyline in this book which is a good thing. For the first time in 28 years, Sam returns to Pikeville, Georgia to assist her father Rusty with a case that has already received national attention. A case where a young woman is accused of a school shooting that left several people dead. A case that is so twisted, and so bizarre, that you have to read to the last chapter to find out what really happened and why. A case Rusty agrees to handle because he can't truly trust the insufferable asshole they have for a District Attorney to have the girls best interest at heart.

Sam's life is one that would have anyone standing up and clapping for how she ended up battling for her life after the event of 03/16/1989. From nearly dying at the hands of two men, to learning everything all over again, to becoming one of the best lawyers in her field despite all her challenges. Sam's life is 180 degrees opposite of Charlie's. She's brilliant, she's intelligent, she's made a name for herself that has led her to the brink of partnership, and she is now calling NYC home. But, after Sam is called home by Charlie's estranged husband Ben, Sam has to address her past, and her relationship with her father, and her sister. A sister whose life has really sunk to new levels. 

Charlie isn't the same character we were previously introduced to. Her life is slowly unspooling out of control which leads her to making bad choices. She's estranged from Ben who is still an Assistant DA. She's still a defense lawyer, but events that happened 28 years ago are really starting to creep into her life. Especially when she becomes part of a story that ends up bringing back memories of the night her life almost ended. But, before we crucify Charlie at the stake for her mistakes, let's allow the author to enlighten us about what really caused Charlie's consternation. Let's allow Charlie to be a broken human being whose family drama isn't something any of us can really understand unless we've walked a mile in her shoes.

What's interesting about this story, is that the author uses the past as a pretty decent filler to explain what really happened to both sisters on the night of March 16, 1989. In fact, we are given the 411 right out of the gate which doesn't give readers much time to take a breath. Charlie's story is probably the darkest of the two sisters because so much has happened to her because of that night and what happened personally to her. I can only describe what Charlie and Sam went through as absolutely horrific. There is so much evil in this world, and especially in this country right now, that we need to stop ignoring it, and bring it into the light. There are scenes that may be a bit too upsetting to those who are triggered by rape, or abuse. Slaughter is an author who doesn't hold back. She's capable of killing of main characters, just as she is capable of writing the darkest, more disturbing scenes imaginable. That, my friends, is what makes Karin Slaughter one of the top mystery and detective writers today. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves #252 - Week Ending 08/26/2017

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!
Don't you just LOVE those weeks when publishers drop a bundle of surprises in your mail box! HELLS YEAH I DO!
Hope you find something you are interested in!
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Call of Fire by Beth Cato (Steampunk, Fantasy)

Tuesday - Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff (Mystery, Thriller)

Wednesday - The Angel Knights & Chosen Knights (Duo) by Mary Ting

Thursday - In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody (YA, Contemporary)

Friday - Venturess by Betsy Cornwell (YA, Steampunk)

*Received from Edelweiss & NetGalley*


Friday, August 25, 2017

Saturday #Review - Head Above Water by Hailey Edwards (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Gemini # 2
Format: Kindle, 258 pages
Release Date: April 30, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital
Source: Amazon
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Camille Ellis has tracked many killers during her career, but this time it's personal. Cut off from conclave resources, she won't let a small thing like a suspension keep her from accepting Cord Graeson's offer of help.
Pretending to be mated to him is one way to secure allies, but the best that can be said of the Chandler Pack is they haven't killed or eaten her. Yet. Between the alpha's displeasure and the pack's distrust of fae, she's working overtime to keep her head above water.
Just when the fur starts to fly, a tip cracks her case--and her life--wide open.

Head Above Water is the second installment in author Hailey Edwards Gemini trilogy. Picking up right where Dead in the Water left off, protagonist Camille "Cam' Ellis is facing a forced leave of absence from the Earthen Conclave after what happened in the previous story. Her friend Harlow Bevans is missing having been taken right from under Cam's nose as she was chasing after one of the more dangerous villains she's had to face. Charybdis is still out there and Cam knows that it's just a matter of time before he comes for her. 

The story moves to the home of the Chandler Warg Park where Cord Graeson has returned home after discovering the person responsible for killing his sister. The trip to the Pack introduces readers to new characters, some returning characters like Dell Preston and Cord's six, who showed up in the previous installment. Plus, we get new storylines, and we also see how dysfunctional the the Chandler pack really is. 

With her Aunt Dot, and cousin Isaac along for the ride, Cam has to pretend that she's mated to Cord, which causes all sorts of issues and challenges. Cord's pack isn't exactly open minded or welcoming when it comes to a Fae being mated to one of their own. Even if she is able to show that she's more than capable of standing on her own without Cord's help. What's worse, Cord is facing conflicts as the packs Beta which have caused rifts within the pack. Rifts that lead to Cam being challenged to the right to stand by Cord's side. 

In this story, we have an entire new cast of characters, and even more twisted challenges that have nothing to do with finding Harlow or Charybdis. The mystery is less of a factor in this story. It's more about Cam becoming more. More aware of her abilities. More of what being Gemini means and how lost she was without her sister, and parents. She's now more open to allowing people into her life. She's also determined that she will never leave Harlow behind. Without the conclave's help, and only Thierry Thackeray's as an ally, Cam has to find a way to track down Charybdis who has a particular interest in Cam. 

Edwards isn't afraid to use characters from her Black Dog series. I already mentioned Thierry, but we are introduced, or reintroduced to Mai Hayashi. Mai has access to a certain mental health institute where Cam might find answers about Harlow and Charybdis. She is also a badass who really added spice to the already deep story. There really is a lot going on in this book, and the ending just blasts you in the face and says, come see what happens in the sequel! 

Friday #Review - Venturess by Betsy Cornwell #YALit #Fantasy #Steampunk

Series: Mechanica # 2
Format: E-Galley, 320 pages
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Clarion/Hachette Book Group
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Fairy Tales & Folklore

The young inventor Nicolette Lampton is living her own fairy-tale happy ending. She's free of her horrible stepfamily, running a successful business, and is uninterested in marrying the handsome prince, Fin. Instead, she, Fin, and their friend Caro venture to the lush land of Faerie, where they seek to put an end to the bloody war their kingdom is waging. Mechanical armies and dark magic await them as they uncover devastating secrets about the past and fight for a real, lasting happily-ever-after for two troubled countries—and for themselves.Smart and unconventional, this novel will appeal to readers of romance and adventure alike.

"Happily ever after is just the beginning."

Venturess, by author Betsy Cornwell, is the surprising second installment in the authors Mechanica series. At the end of Mechanica, readers were told that the story was an open-ended standalone with hopes that the ending would satisfy those who actually got through the book without giving up on the story. The author said that she did have future plans for the characters and their world. 2 years later, Venturess is released. The story takes place in the same world, with the same characters, but with a whole different story idea, and even more action, adventure and surprises. 

Nicolette Lampton's happy ever ending came in the most curious manner. She didn't choose to run off and marry the prince and live happily ever after. Instead, she became a rather successful inventor who is finally free of her horrible step mother and sisters. Even though she lost Lampton Manor to intolerant bigots, she has done well by owning her own shop called Lampton's which sells ball gowns, slippers, & steampunk clockworks. What hasn't changed is that people still call her Miss Mechanica. After someone tries to assassinate Fin, Nic claims the title of heiress apparent. 

Even though she didn't accept Fin, the Prince of Esting's hand in marriage before, she continued to have a pretty interesting relationship with both him, and palace servant Caroline (Caro) Hart. Look folks, I am not going to sugar coat this relationship. Nic loves both Caro, and Fin equally. She wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, I dare say that it is highly possible that a threesome takes place off page since they are more often than not found sleeping together. She also finds a curious pull towards the Captain of the airship taking them to Fairie. I dare say I was hoping for more of that connection.

Nic also receives a message from her long-lost housekeeper Mr. Candery, now a revolutionary, begging her to bring the prince to Faerie for a diplomatic meeting that could lead to an end of hostilities between Faerie and Esting once and for all. Nicolette fears a trap, but decides that the chance to end the bloody war waged by their kingdom is worth the risk. Together with Fin and Caro, she ventures across the monster-filled ocean to the lush continent she’s always dreamed of visiting. There she not only gets an unwelcome surprise, but ends up right in the forefront of the war between Fairie and Esting. 

I appreciated the move to Faerie. It not only gave the series a breath of fresh air, and introduced new characters, it was also apparent the author intended to ramp up the action, and adventure as well. Venturess is not the same retelling that Mechanica was. It is absolutely recommended you read Mechanica which is a retelling of Cinderella to understand Cornwell's world and her characters and who Nic really is and what she's gone through.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thursday #Review - In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody #YALit #Contemporary

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA / Contemporary / Social Themes

A fresh and funny novel about how one different choice could change everything.
Three years ago, Kennedy Rhodes secretly made the most important decision of her life. She declined her acceptance to the prestigious Windsor Academy to attend the local public school with her longtime crush, who had finally asked her out. It seems it was the right choice—she and Austin are still together, and Kennedy is now the editor in chief of the school's award-winning newspaper. But then Kennedy's world is shattered one evening when she walks in on Austin kissing her best friend, and she wonders if maybe her life would have been better if she'd made the other choice. As fate would have it, she's about to find out . . .
Kennedy falls and hits her head and mysteriously awakes as a student at the Windsor Academy. And not just any student: Kennedy is at the top of her class, she's popular, she has the coolest best friend around, and she's practically a shoo-in for Columbia University. But as she navigates her new world, she starts to wonder whether this alternate version of herself really is as happy as everyone seems to believe. Is it possible this Kennedy is harboring secrets and regrets of her own? A fresh and funny story about how one different choice could change everything, Jessica Brody's In Some Other Life will keep readers guessing, and find them cheering for Kennedy until the final page.

In Some Other Life, by author Jessica Brody, is a standalone young adult contemporary story that focuses on 18-year old Kennedy Rhodes. On the outside it would appear that Kennedy has everything a person can ask for. She's the Editor-in-Chief of her HS newspaper which has won national awards for three straight years and is up for their fourth. She has a boyfriend of 3 1/2 years in Austin, and a best friend in Delaney Patel who is also on the newspaper. Her parents are doing exactly what they love to do, but there is something missing from Kennedy's life.

Three years ago, Kennedy made the decision not to attend Windsor Academy even though she was accepted. Windsor is an elite private school that is way beyond anything Southwest HS has going for it. She is obsessed with certain students web pages, and imagines of what life would have been like had she chosen Windsor over Southwest. Then the unthinkable happens. No, I dare say that I don't believe that it is the unthinkable. It happens throughout life, and throughout your formidable years, so why shouldn't it happen to the girl who seemingly has it all?  

I'm talking, of course, about cheating. When your so called boyfriend and your so called best friend, who apparently have the same tastes, have been cheating on you for months and you were too busy to see what was happening. So, when she discovers the cheating, Kennedy finds herself at Windsor begging for them to allow her to attend for the final months of her senior year. After she hits her head and wakes up in the alternate version of her life where she chose to attend the private school, she finds that it’s not as perfect of a world as she once thought.

Her mother is miserable. Her father is miserable. Her brother is such a dynamic and wonderful character who doesn't change in either reality. Plus, it appears as though this realities Kennedy is at the top of the food chain, and she is friends with those she stalked on line. How in the world did this happen and why? My message about this story is that sometimes life isn't always greener on the other side. You can hope and wish and pray for better things but we don't always get what we want. Sometimes we get exactly what we need at the time we are given the opportunities Kennedy was given.

This is definitely a story about what if's. What if Kennedy had made the choice to go to Windsor instead of choosing Austin? Would her life have been any different? One could say that Kennedy is an overachiever in many aspects. Just try to get past her interactions with the company that puts her newspaper together if you don't believe me. Kennedy is a character who is the total opposite of what I did and accomplished in HS & College. I didn't exactly dream about attending another school, or participate in the school newspaper, or apply for Columbia so I could be a journalist. (For the record, I attended Ithaca College School of Communications after 4 years of the Navy.) 

Not really an original concept, but it is an intriguing idea of parallel universes. However, I guess I will remain against those who willingly cheat on another person be it with their spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or best friend. It is inconceivable to me that our heroine would be willing to forgive so easily. Life is too short to just allow yourself to be abused and then laugh it off because life seems to blame you for not catching on to what was happening.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday's Duo #Reviews - The Angel Knights & The Chosen Knights by Mary Ting #YALit #Paranormal

Series: The Angel Knights (Prequel)
Format: Kindle, 112 pages
Release Date: March 4, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC 
Source: Amazon
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Michael and Claudia’s decision to move back to Crossroads was to keep their children safe, but they can’t escape who they are. Their children, Zachary and Lucia, were destined to be demon hunters—Venators. From the age they were able to hold a sword, they were trained to become the best and to ensure they would become leaders one day.

All is peaceful throughout the land until the Fallen and demons’ presences were felt in the between and on Earth. As the Venators investigate these locations, they will quickly learn how dangerous their lives are. Hearts will be broken. Teammates will lose their lives. And they will face obstacles which will test their faith.

As danger grows, the fear of fallen angels and demons regrouping has the Divine Elders on pins and needles. Now, Zachary and Lucia, along with Uncle Davin, must prepare themselves—mentally and physically—to live on Earth to investigate where the focal point of evil resides before it’s too late.

The Angel Knights is the prequel to author Mary Ting's The Angel Knights series. For those who have read the author's Crossroads series, this story begins 17 years after the ending of that series. While Claudia Emerson and Michael are not the main characters in this story, they are still rather important because of their current status as part of the Divine Elders. It is the Divine Elders who oversee humanity and assign missions to protect the world from demons.

This time around, we meet the couples twins Lucia and Zachary who are now training to become Angel Knights under "Uncle" Devin who was also in the Crossroads series with Claudia and Michael. While Devin is Both Lucia and Zachary are curious sorts because of who their father is. They have inherited his Archangel bloodline, as well as becoming Demon Hunters called Venators. 

The story is told via Lucia's narrative. It is a quick paced story that leads into the first installment called The Chosen Knights. The bottom line is this. There is a disturbance that has opened between worlds and demons are flooding in looking to begin another war. It is up to the Venators to try to figure out what is happening, and stop it before it's too late. There is one state in particular, Hawaii, where it seems this disturbance needs to be investigated more closely. And, this my friends, is where we lead into The Chosen Angels.

Series: The Angel Knights # 1
Format: Kindle, 379 pages
Release Date: March 19, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal

When teens go missing in Hawaii, a group of demon-hunters—half human and half angel—disguised as high school students, must leave Crossroads, the place where they reside. In a race against time, they uncover the mystery connecting the missing teens, which dates back to the era of the Knights Templar. However, when they discover one of the Templars passed down a book containing all the secrets and codes to finding a particular treasure, they soon realize this forbidden treasure needs to be found before Cyrus, the lord of the possessor demons, acquires it—a treasure which been safeguarded and hidden from him.
There is only one problem: the pages containing the clues leading to the treasure is missing. When the first page is found, Cyrus threatens to kill more descendants of the Knights Templar if it is not given to him by Friday the thirteenth. In the midst of threats and discovery, the demon-hunting angels find they are not alone when supernatural beings begin to reveal themselves. Can they put their differences aside and work together to solve the Knights Templars’ cipher? As they astral travel to the past, they witness a lot more than they have bargained for. And some things are better left unseen.

The Chosen Knights is the first installment in author Mary Ting's The Angel Knights series. As you have read in my review of The Angel Knights above, this series features the nephilim twins of Claudia Emerson and Michael who you may have read about in the author's Crossroads series. Things have changed. Lucia, Zachary, and Devin have moved to Hawaii to uncover why there seems to be such an imbalance of supernatural activity in the state, and why teens have disappeared without a trace. 

That means going to school, and learning how to be human. 
As we have learned, Lucia struggles mightily with her control and her human side at times which makes her reckless. A reckless and out of control Lucia is not one who will last very long. After all, she's half angel, and half human, and she has the blood of an Archangel flowing through her veins. Lucia has the strength, speed, and superhuman strength we can expect from someone with an Archangel father. What also makes both Lucia and Zachary different from other Venators, is that they both have Archangel wings which are much more impressive than normal wings.

Lucia's actions need to be addressed and broken apart because they come with consequences. From her meeting of new characters like Eli who makes her feel things she's not supposed to, and Jason, who is human, but comes from a long line of Knight's Templar descendants, Lucia finds herself drawn to both characters. Zac does a much better job of putting away his human side than Lucia does. If there was one character I had to say made this story, it would be Uncle Devin. He is fiercely protective of the twins, has a sarcastic attitude that left me laughing, and he takes his job absolutely seriously when it comes to stopping the Fallen and Demons from taking over the world.

This is a different sort of story because it involves traveling to the past to find something the villainous Cyrus wants badly. So badly, in fact, that he has started taking children who haven't chosen a side yet, and taken others from Lucia and Zach's school who have supernatural blood. This is a story that has demons, angels, vampire like beings, Knights Templars, and a whole lot of twisted fun. I do hope that Lucia finds a way to grow up a bit. I realize she's knew to all the human world, but she's already proven she will jump first and ask questions later.