Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday #Review - The Last Descendant by Megan Haskell #Fantasy @MeganPHaskell ‏

Series: Sanyare Chronicles # 1
Format: Kindle, 312 pages
Release Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Trabuco Ridge Press
Source: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy

A woman torn between honor and survival…
Raised in a realm where humans are no better than slaves, Rie Lhethannien has struggled for decades to earn a meager post in the High Court messenger service. Even training as an elite fighter isn’t enough to earn the respect she craves. Scorned by the high elves who rely on her loyalty, Rie’s closest allies are the fierce carnivorous pixies who travel by her side.
When she’s attacked on a routine delivery by assassins from the enemy Shadow Realm, Rie’s martial prowess keeps her alive…and frames her as a traitor. Facing execution at the hand of an unmerciful king, Rie must forsake her oaths and flee into enemy lands to prove her innocence. With surprising help from a bastard prince and an ambitious blood sidhe, Rie searches for the truth behind the attack. The secrets she uncovers may threaten more than her honor or even her life…for war is looming in the nine faerie realms.
Sanyare: The Last Descendant is the first book in the Sanyare Chronicles, a fast-paced dark fantasy adventure. If you like kick-butt heroines and action-packed fantasy filled with mythological creatures, then you’ll love the first novel in Megan Haskell’s debut series. Start your journey across the nine faerie realms today!

The Last Descendant is the first installment in author Megan Haskell's Sanyare Chronicles series. Protagonist Nuriel (Rie Ree-ay) Lhethannien is a changeling and High Court Messenger who lives in the Elf World known as Upper Realm. She has violet eyes, is fast with a blade, and also experiences premonitions. One of these premonitions saves her life. While delivering a message to Lord Goramen in the human realm, Rie is attacked by (2) Blood Sidhe (vampire) assassins from the Shadow Realm. 

With a bit of help from her mischievously dangerous pixies Hiinto & Niinka, Rie fights off her attackers. (As a side note, if you want to learn more about Rie and the pixies, Pixie Tamer is a good place to start). The question now becomes why? Why was Rie targeted in the first place, and who wants her dead? Or, was it a message to Lord Greg? The unfortunate part is that Rie is now technically in violation of the King's law forbidding any contact with the Shadow Realm. If she reports the incident, she's in trouble, if she doesn't report the incident, she's in trouble. Rock. Hard Place. 

Greg is what's known as a Sanyare, or arbitrator of the realms. He has free reign to travel where ever he pleases.
Greg asks Rie to travel to the Shadow Realm in his place and investigate for him what is happening there and why she was targeted in the first place. If she ends up caught, she will be considered to be an oath breaker and killed immediately. The interesting part? Rie learns that there is more to her than meets the eyes, especially after meeting Prince Daenor, a Fire Elf from the Shadow Guard, and the King's son. 

Rie is a very curious character. She's spent decades in the Upper Realm under the guidance of High Elf Warden Curuthannor, and his mate Lhewen who taught her how to survive. Rie's time in the Shadow Realm proves that Rie is anything but a nobody with no talents. She has to face Dark Elves, a Twisted King and his family, Red Caps, Goblins, and a whole lot more. Along with her trusty Pixies Niinka, Hiinko, Possn, Gikl & Trik, and a new addition named Plink, a female imp, Rie's adventures are highly entertaining, and fast paced and I can't wait to read the sequel!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday #Review - Hope and Red (Empire of Storms # 1) by Jon Skovon #Fantasy

Series: Empire of Storms # 1
Format: Paperback, 544 pages
Release Date: June 30, 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Action & Adventure

In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose. A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance. 
A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist. When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible. 

Hope and Red is the first installment in author Jon Skovron's Empire of Storms trilogy. Hope and Red tells the story of two characters who couldn't be more different. In the Southern Isles, an 8 year old girl lives with her family in a village called Bleak Hope. In a moment, her entire village is massacred by the Emperor's biomancers searching for the next bio weapon to use against its enemies. As the only survivor, the 8 year old girl, now known as Hope, is dropped off at a monastery of warrior monks where Grand Teacher Hurlo spends the next 8 years teaching the girl the art of being a Vinchen warrior. 

Even though it is against the rules, Hurlo sees something in Hope. Hope eagerly consumes knowledge like a sailor who has been at sea way too long. The one thing that is always on Hope's mind, is the desire for revenge against the biomancer who took her family from her. After 8 years of training, and a sword called Song of Sorrows given to her by her master, Hope makes her way to a ship called The Lady's Gambit. Captain Carmichael takes the young Hope aboard where she makes her presence felt quickly as the ships protector. Even though Hope and Red are on a separate paths, she later joins with Red, Sadie, Nettles, & Filler in an effort to save their home from Imperial Soldiers and biomancers.

Elsewhere, Red lives by the skin of his chin, and the sharpness of his wit every since his parents died. His mother was a brilliant artist, while his father was a prostitute. Red lives between worlds. He is book smart, but he revels in being with the men and women who live in squalor. Taken against his will to serve aboard ship, Red finds himself as Sadie the Goats protege. Red becomes an expert thief, brilliant con artist, and has very unusual red eyes which is where his name comes from. Red's home is Paradise Circle, and things are dark, dreary, and people are disappearing by the dozens. This is a place where a bartender takes the ears of anyone who slights her, and keeps them in a jar. But, it is also home for Red, and Nettles, and Filler, and even Jilly, aka Little Bee.

There is a third character who plays an important role in this story. The characters name is Brigga Lin. Lin is on a desperate search for a new weapon, but becomes something else entirely. A female biomancer. Like the Vinchen, The Book of Secrets forbids female biomancer's. Brigga later joins with Red and Hope in her desire for revenge against the Council of Biomancer's who dissed her very existence. This is a world where the biomancers have everyone in their back pockets, including the Emperor. They truly believe that the dreaded Aukbontar will be invading soon, and in order to stop them in their tracks, they need to build weapons by experimenting on people. 

One can mix up cult classics like Oliver Twist, Pirates of the Caribbean, Gangs of New York, and Kill Bill to come up with Hope and Red. Hope and Red really does hit everything that I love in Epic Fantasy novels. There is action throughout the book, moments of quiet solitude where the characters really have to piece together plans to survive a bloody battle, a hint of romance that doesn't take away from the darkness, and vulgarity of certain languages that I may not like, but considering the setting, I am willing to ignore it. The only down side is the heart breaking cliffhanger ending that had me eagerly requesting book # 2 from my library.

The Empire of Storms
Hope and Red
Bane and Shadow
Blood and Tempest

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday #Review - Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Flame in the Mist # 1
Format: Hardcover, 392 pages
Release Date: May 16th 2017 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons 
Source: Library
Recommended By: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.
So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.
The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

“Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain. And you can do anything...” 

Flame in the Mist is the first installment in author Renee Ahdeh's Flame in the Mist series. The story begins with 17-year old Mariko Hattori, the main protagonist of this story, being sent away to Inako where she is to meet her betrothed Prince Raiden. Along the way, her norimono is attacked by a mysterious group who Mariko believes belongs to the dreaded Black Clan. As the only survivor, Mariko has to make a choice; return home to her family where they will most likely send her on to Inako, or disguise herself as a boy and track down the Black Clan who she believes is responsible for attacking her group.

Mariko chooses the second option, and away on a fantastical adventure we go. It has been said by many people that this story reminded them of 47 Ronin meets Mulan. I can get behind that comparison. I loved the strength that Mariko shows throughout this book. She is a very curious person who loves to learn. Even though, at times, she is rather foolhardy, far too prone to ask questions that can get her in trouble, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, she does manage to catch the readers fantasy as a character who doesn't lay down and let others dictate terms to her. 

“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead. Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.” 

One of the other things I loved about Mariko, is that she is an inventor who is in a world all her own. As the daughter of a noted Samurai, and the sister of Kenshin, known as the dragon, she has tries to carve out a niche all her own. She knows that she is a political pawn to be used by her father, but at the same time, once she does contact the Black Clan, she comes into her own by upping her game even more. She has an golden opportunity to not only find out who ordered her death, but discover a world that would be open to her had she been born a boy.

This story isn't just about Mariko though. Kenshin plays a part as he tries track down his twin sister, and discover whether she is dead or alive and who was behind the attack on her convoy. Kenshin is the absolute opposite of Mariko. He is hard, and cold, and dangerous. We also find ourselves deep in political intrigue in what is feudal Japan and the Empire of the Wa. We meet the very twisted royal family where nothing is at it seems, and the key players who all have an apparent agenda just waiting to be sprung. Then, there is the curious connection between Mariko and Okami and his ability to shape shift. This is a story that is filled with action, adventures, surprises, betrayals, bloodsucking trees, samurai, sorcerers, and a bit of romance.  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 69

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! 

As I celebrate my 6th year of blogging, yes, it really has been that long!
 I want to thank you. I thank you for your support. I thank you for your comments. I thank you for sticking with me for the most amazing 6 years that I've had in a very long time. Yes, there were times I thought about giving up. Haven't we all? But, reading and blogging is my life. Especially since I am unable to work. I look forward to reading your comments, stopping by your blogs, and best of all, connecting with a bunch of awesome authors who have made me feel that I'm not wasting my time. 

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Julia Defiant by Catherine Egan (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - The Child by Fiona Barton (Mystery)

Friday - Now I Rise by Kiersten White (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - Infinity by Jus Accardo (YA, SyFy)

Posted @ Talk Supe Blog

*Received from NetGalley/Edelweiss*

Library or Amazon


Friday, June 23, 2017

Saturday #Review - Infinity by Jus Accardo #YALit #Science Fiction

Series: The Infinity Division # 1
Format: Kindle, 320 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Science Fiction

Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away… That’s taking it a step too far.
Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.
Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Kori's, infinite Cade's…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.
Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge…

"There are three things Kori knows for sure about her life:
One: Her army general dad is insanely overprotective.
Two: The guy he sent to watch her, Cade, is way too good-looking.
Three: Everything she knew was a lie.

Now there are three things Kori never knew about her life:
One: There’s a device that allows her to jump dimensions.
Two: Cade’s got a lethal secret.
Three: Someone wants her dead.

Infinity is the first installment in author Jus Accardo's The Infinity Division series. 17-year old Kori Anderson is something of a rebel. She really doesn't get along with others. But, as an artist, she loves to defile public property with her artwork. She's been caught doing hard core tagging. Kori, as you have surmised, has a penchant for getting herself into trouble. Call it acting out if you will after losing her mother a few years before. 

Add that to some very interesting inner dialogue, and you have the strange tale of Kori Anderson. To top things off, Kori is the daughter of an Army General who is currently stationed at Fort Hannity Army Base in Welb, New York. (My mind immediately went to Fort Drum which is about 30 miles from the Canadian border). Kori's father travels a lot for work, but he has been keeping a very interesting secret. A secret that comes at Kori quickly and without warning in the form of Dylan, who somehow knows her name and decides to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse that has consequences for everyone involved. 

A game that has its routes in another place altogether. Noah Emeal and Cade Granger are two characters that are sent by her father to keep her out of trouble, and keep her safe. They really don't know what they have to deal with until they get the whole Kori affect. Now that someone apparently wants Kori dead, secrets about a group known as The Infinity Division and her father's real job come tumbling out. The whole idea that there is someone who wants to kill me part of this story unless he gets what he wants, more than pulled its own weight against what the Infinity Division is supposed to be about; parallel earth's. 

The Infinity Division has the ability to jump from place to place. As you would imagine, there is a bit of romance in this story. That romance sits on the shoulders of Kori and Cade. In one way, this romance made me a bit uncomfortable for reasons that have nothing to do with abuse, but the fact that they are from two different worlds, and are apparently in love in almost every single parallel Earth's. Have you ever read Claudia Gray's Firebird series? If so, you will most likely enjoy this series as well.

Friday #Review - Now I Rise by Kiersten White #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Conqueror's Saga # 2
Format: E-Galley, 496 pages
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Now I Rise is the second installment in author Kiersten White's The Conqueror's Saga. The story is once again set to the backdrop of the era of the Ottoman Empire circa 1453 under Sultan Mehmed II aka Mehmed The Conqueror. One of my main complaints about And I Darken was the religious aspects of the story and the characters who were forced into converting against their will. Thankfully, White doesn't get bogged down with the religion this time around, but instead focuses on the character development of Lada and Radu. The story alternates chapters between Radu and Lada who has left on her own conquest. 

“He had imagined Constantinople, had wanted it for Mehmed. It had been simple and straightforward. But now he knew the true cost of things, the murky horrors of the distance between wanting something and getting it.”

Now that Lada has left him behind, Radu has Mehmed all to himself and because of it, he actually shows amazing character growth. Radu loves unconditionally, which puts him in some very awkward positions. His desire and love for Mehmed really does break the emotional bank. His marriage to Nazira is a sham, but she's still his rock. Even more so after he is later sent to Constantinople to spy on the city and she travels alongside him. Radu has had to deal with Mehmed obsession with Constantinople for years. He hasn't exactly muted that obsession, but helped it along by attempting to be part of building the Sultan's navyHe gets a first hand look at the city, and really, I think a better understanding of the people.

Radu's time in Constantinople really pulls not only on his faith, but what's right and what's wrong. There are times when Radu struggles, and this is why I really loved his development. Radu meets with several interesting characters in this book, most especially Constantine XI who's death would mark the end of the Byzantine Empire. The other happens to be a woman named Urbana of Transylvania who claims she can build a canyon the likes of which has never been seen before. Radu most interesting relationship is with Cyprian. Cyprian becomes his stalwart and friend not knowing that Radu is betraying him and the cities residents. 

“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge. Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

I am pretty sure you know by know that this series is a reimaging of Vlad the Impaler in a gender swap way that makes Vlad, Lada. Lada and her troops are having a hard time getting to Lada's ultimate goal of retaking her home and becoming Prince of WallachiaShe's betrayed, ignored, laughed at, and look down upon. She may only have a little under three dozen Janissary soldiers left, but they are pretty loyal, especially Nicolae, and Bogdan. Lada may have to make a deal with the deal himself to get what she desperately wants, and she is nothing like Radu who has skills in areas she doesn't. Lada is a character who believes in carrying a big stick, and going full throttle. 

Lada's desire of reclaiming Wallachia comes at the same time that Mehmed has stepped up his plans of conquering Constantinople. Lada, I think, has come to an interesting place in her life. Unlike Mehmed, Lada's sex gets in the way of her own conquest. She has to deal with ruling families who want to keep what they have, and take away what Lada has worked hard to gather. I adored this story because it is so intense, so dark, brutal, and historically close to the actual facts of what happened during this time period. I do hope that White goes full throttle in the next book. There is plenty to come if she intends to follow in Vlad the Impaler's path. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday #Review - The Rift Uprising by Amy S Foster (#YALIT, Science Fiction)

Series: The Rift Uprising Trilogy # 1
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA / Science Fiction

The first book in the fast-paced action-adventure, The Rift Uprising trilogy—an enthralling mix of speculative fiction and military thriller—in which a young soldier comes to question the monsters she’s trained to fight against . . . and the monsters she fights for
Seventeen-year-old Ryn Whittaker is a Citadel: an elite, enhanced soldier specially chosen to guard a Rift, a mysterious and dangerous portal to alternate Earths scientists cannot control or close. Trained from the age of fourteen, Ryn can run faster, jump farther, and fight better than a Navy SEAL—which is good when you’re not sure if a laser-wielding Neanderthal or an axe-wielding Viking is trying to make it through the Rift and into her world.
But the teenager’s military conditioning and education have not prepared her for the boy who crosses through—a confused young man, seemingly lost and alone. Because while there’s an immediate physical attraction, it’s his intelligence and curiosity that throws Ryn off balance. The stranger asks disturbing questions about the Rift that Ryn herself has never considered—questions that lead her to wonder if everything about her life and what she’s been told these past six years has been a lie. Are the Rifts as dangerous as her leaders say? Should her people really try to close them . . . or learn how to travel through them?

The Rift Uprising is the first installment in author Amy S. Foster's The Rift Uprising Trilogy. Set in a not too distant future, the story features 17-year old Ryn Whittaker. Ryn is the leader of Beta Team, a group of super-soldiers who have been trained since an early age to protect the world from invaders who show up through Rifts. Rifts are portals to an infinite number of other Earths. Rifts that manage to cobbler all sorts of strange and wondrous beings and animals that drop them on Ryn's world.

Ryn and her teammates are based out of Washington State (Bonneville Military Camp). At Fourteen, Ryn and her teammates chips, implanted in their heads, were activated. For 3 years Ryn has stood guard watching for what comes out of the Rift. You never know what may come out of the Rift. One day it might be the hated Karekins, the next it might be Vikings, the day after that it might be curious beings that could be Edward Cullen and his family. Or, if you are really lucky, you may see a unicorn or dinosaur come through.

Ryn and her fellow teammates Boone, Violet, and Henry have amazing abilities. They heal quicker, they have increased stamina, they can run longer and faster, they have eidetic memory, they learn languages quickly, and they share a huge secret that nobody outside of the ARC can understand. Their families actually believe they are attending a higher accelerated education. But, there is a downfall. They can pretty much never have sex for fear of hurting, or killing their partners thanks to a maddening psychosis known as Bloodlust.

Ryn has never once broken protocol for any reason. But, after a boy named Ezra is dropped through the rift, things change. Ezra's arrival triggers something in Ryn that leads her to start questioning everything about the Allied Rift Coalition (ARC), Rifts, Roones, (a highly evolved humanoid species that created certain technologies), the Village where Immigrants are sent and are never allowed to leave, and how she and the other Citadels are not allowed to touch anyone for fear of being swallowed up whole by the bloodlust. 

One could say that there is an instance of instalove between Ryn and Ezra. Yes, I've said how much I hate instalove. An author recently told me to think of instalove situations as though you are the adolescent whose hormones are just getting charged up. There you see a boy, or girl for that matter, who just gets your heart beating faster than the engine of a race car. Not like that has every happened to me. Nope. What? Don't believe me? :::evil grin:: The preoccupation of having sex in this book took away from my overall enjoyment of the story. 

This story is filled with references to movies and TV shows like Ender's Game, Twilight, Transformers, and Buffy the Vampire slayer. Ryn does get away with a whole lot of shenanigans in this book that others probably would have been court-martialed or worse. As this is the first book in the trilogy, there is a whole lot of name dropping, and background static. Some is necessary to understand what Ryn and her fellow Citadel members have been put through. The rest is just the line that crosses what makes this more of an adult themed book, than a young adult one.