Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday #Review - Everlife by Gena Showalter #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Everlife # 3
Format: E-Book, 496 pages
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

In Book 3 of the New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter's Everlife novels, war is heating up even as numbers-obsessed Tenley "Ten" Lockwood gives her all to stop the conflict and rebuild the bridge between the two realms of the afterworld. Action, betrayal and forbidden romance abound in this exciting conclusion to the trilogy.

Ten Lockwood lost the last battle, but the war between Troika and Myriad, the two realms of the Everlife, is far from over. Ten's secret bond with rival realm Laborer Killian Flynn may give her the strength to prevail...or may be the key to all of their undoing, as rulers make their final plays and trust becomes an afterthought. Ten has been given the crucial choice of which soul to bring back from Second-death to fight for Troika, but will she choose the person she wants most beside her, or the one the realm needs to triumph once and for all?

Nothing is certain--not Killian's love for her, not her own faith in herself...not even whether she can trust her realm-mates to have her back when the darkness of Myriad rises to come for them all. Don't miss the exhilarating and breathtaking conclusion as Ten evolves from cynic, to leader, to a true visionary able to inspire the world and help everyone build a new way of life forevermore.

"When a storm comes, the lie will crumble and fall, and only the truth will remain."

Everlife is the third installment in author Gena Showalter's Everlife trilogy. As the story opens, things haven't exactly gone well for Tenley (Ten) Lockwood. Upon her Firstlife ending, Ten chose Troika over Myriad which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. But, this wasn't the after life she was hoping for. This after life features the realms of Myriad and Troika at war and nobody is willing to give an inch. Not even when a major virus could bring down Troika and give Myriad control over both realms. 

"Firstlife was a dress rehearsal. Now the curtain is up. and we're performing in front of a live studio audience. Every word, action and decision comes with a consequence. There is no second chances to right our wrongs. No do-overs." 

Ten, who is one of Troka's Conduits (responsible for lighting Troika), is tasked with selecting which of Troika's fallen is to leave the Rest, the place where Troikans go upon their Second death. All indications are that Ten will choose one of the fallen Generals Troika needs so badly to help stabilize their realm, and keep Myriad from winning. Even though Troika is outnumbered and outgunned, they have Ten and her desire for peace among the realms. That is why Ten's choice isn't, nor should be shocking to anyone who has read this series from the beginning.

Now, Ten, along with her boyfriend Killian Flynn, who just happens to be known as the butcher from Myriad, must unite as one, and attempt to bring the two realms together before the deadly Penumbra virus is released and fundamentally
changes the Afterlife forever. Ten and Killian's plan doesn't go exactly as planned after they unite and he loses his memory of what they planned on doing and their bond. What's worse, if something happens to one, it happens to the other as well. Killian is Tenley's weakness and their enemies know it very well.

This series stuck to the idea that Tenley is light, while Killian is dark. But, binding the two together, will bring dark to Ten's emotions, and light to Killian's thinking. If you can unite the two together with love, you can defeat any sort of darkness that stands in the way. The most curious aspect of this story is that part of it takes place in Troika, part of it takes place in Myriad, and the most twisted part takes place in Many Ends. I also loved the addition of the guardians, which means Ten ends up with Biscuit as her guardian. Biscuit and his fellow guardians are just plain awesome!

One of the stables of Tenley's life has always been those who she calls friends. People like Archer, Clay, Reed, Raanan, Clementine, Sloan along with her brother Jeremy who she can telepathically speak to even though he is a baby. Ten is a strong character who has some upsetting moments at times, but overall, she stands and delivers and rises to the creme of the top when the chips are down, and a heroine is needed to do what is right for both realms. This is a story of love, loyalty, trust, and attempting to save as many people as you can since not everyone will be happy with peace between the realms. Killian and Ten endure a whole lot and are tested to the limits of their abilities. They will face pain and suffering, betrayal and happy reunions, and a bond that bends but doesn't break. 

"I'm a Troikan Conduit. He's a Myriadian Laborer. We are lifeblood-born enemies, and yet he is the love of my Everlife."

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thursday #Review - Witch Creek by Laura Bickle #Urban #Fantasy

Series: Wildlands # 4
Format: E-Book, 384 pages
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Urban Fantasy

The next enthralling chapter, following Nine of Stars, in Laura Bickle’s critically acclaimed Wildlands series
In the backcountry of Yellowstone, evil moves below the surface...
As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has battled supernatural horrors and experienced astonishing wonders. But there’s no magic on earth that can defeat her recent cancer diagnosis, or help find her missing husband, Gabriel. Still, she would bet all her remaining days that the answer to his disappearance lies in the dark subterranean world beneath the Rutherford Ranch on the outskirts of Temperance, Wyoming.
Gabe is being held prisoner by the sheriff and heir to the ranch, Owen Rutherford. Owen is determined to harness the power of the Tree of Life—and he needs Gabe to reveal its magic. Secretly, the sheriff has also made a pact to free a creature of the underground, a flesh-devouring mermaid. Muirenn has vowed to exact vengeance on Gabe, who helped imprison her, but first...she’s hungry. Once freed, she will swim into Yellowstone—to feed.
With her coyote sidekick Sig, Petra must descend into the underworld to rescue Gabe before it’s too late...for both of them.

Witch Creek is the fourth installment in author Laura Bickle's Wildlands series. This book takes place 9 months after Petra Dee arrived in Temperance, Wyoming looking for clues to her father's disappearance. Her "main" job is actually that of a geologist, but she's been interrupted by the strangeness and the people who call Temperance home. A home that was pretty much created by Lascaris by using alchemy.

Petra's entire body is a map to the troubles she has faced since arriving in Temperance, and it is only the beginning of what is to come. Petra, as you hopefully know from reading the previous 3 installments, has been through a whole lot in the 9 months that she has been living in Temperance. One could say that her current health crisis is the biggest obstacle of her life, and one that nobody would wish on anyone, let alone someone they don't like. 

But, Petra isn't going to allow her illness to dictate how she lives her life, even if that life is to be shortened. She needs to put one foot in front of the other and kicks herself in gear in order to discover the mystery behind Gabe's disappearance. 
Gabe, the former Hanged man who is no longer immortal, spends a whole lot of time with Sheriff Owen Rutherford, and hardly any time with Petra. 

This story not only digs into Gabe's past life and how he ended up in Temperance, but we also get more of an introduction to Lev, a bartender who has been, at best, a tertiary character who is now a major player. I will say that Lev's storyline really intrigued me because of who he is. It's fair to say that you will have to read the book for further explanations. Lev's story, the good and the sad, will intermingle with Petra's for a moment in time, but after that, who is to say whether or not they will remain allies or not.  

But, the most intriguing character is the character the author calls the Mermaid. Since revealing the actual identity of the Mermaid leads to all sorts of spoilers, we will walk right over this. The most interesting part of the story itself, is that each of the main characters faces their own mortality. Petra with her illness. Gabe by being kidnapped and not allowed freedom from Owen while also staring at death from the mermaid who he has a history with. Whether or not they all survive is entirely based on other characters, and factors that leaves the story hanging off a cliff wondering what is going to happen next.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wednesday #Review - Outpost by W. Michael Gear #SyFy @dawbooks ‏

Series: Donovan # 1
Format: E-Book, 432 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: DAW
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Science Fiction

The first book in a thrilling new sci-fi action adventure, set on Donovan, a treacherous alien planet where corporate threats and dangerous creatures imperil the lives of the planet’s inhabitants.

Donovan is a world of remarkable wealth that comes at a high price.
When Supervisor Kalico Aguila’s ship arrives, she discovers a failing colony, its government overthrown, the few remaining colonists gone wild. Donovan could make her career—or kill her.
Planetside, Talina Perez is one of three rulers of the Port Authority colony—the only law in the one remaining town. With the Corporate ship demanding answers about the things she’s done, Perez could lose everything, including her life.
For Dan Wirth, Donovan is a last chance. A psychopath with a death sentence looming over his head, he will make a desperate play for power. No matter who he has to corrupt, murder, or destroy.
Captain Max Taggart is the Corporation’s enforcer. But is it too late to seize control of Donovan?
Then a ghost ship, the Freelander, appears in orbit. Missing for two years, she arrives with a crew dead of old age, and reeks of a bizarre death-cult ritual that deters any ship from attempting a return journey. But maybe it’s worth the risk, for a brutal killer is stalking all of them as Donovan plays its own complex and deadly game.

Outpost, by author W. Michael Gear, is the first installment in the author's Donovan trilogy. Welcome to Donovan, where humans landed 30 years ago. It is a planet where you can make your riches if you are lucky. It is also a planet filled with life that can ruin a person's life quickly and permanently. A good description for this book would be, Deadwood meets Avatar in a gritty, action packed adventure with colonists on the fringes of survival on a dangerous frontier planet where both fauna and creatures can kill without any warning. This story consists of several main characters:

Talina Perez is a security officer on Donovan (Port Authority) who is something of a living legend. She is also one of the Triumvirate who have the final say on Donovan. If you were looking for one main character who really stands out not only for her badassery, but because she understands the environment in which she is living, and hasn't lost her perspective that one wrong move could be her last, then look no further than Talina. There is also something very creepy happening to Talina which I won't spoil. I'm eager to see how this storyline plays itself out.

Trish Monagan, a first generation Donovanian, as well as Talina's ward after her parents died. Trish was actually born on Donovan which makes her a rarity among those living on Donovan and who agreed to a contract. Trish doesn't get all that much set away for her to shine, but the time she does has proves that she is no pushover. Trish takes charge at one point while Talina is off being stranded in the bush. 

Captain Max Taggart is a Corporate Security expert with a military background who arrives on Donovan via the Turalon and finds himself questioning his very reason for being on the planet after nearly killing Talina and the Triumvirate. Taggart's world changes abruptly after he and Talina crash land and are forced to survive against all sorts of difficult odds. Odds that the weakest couldn't survive through. Taggart's choices lead to some curious avenues and some puzzling outcomes.

Dan Wirth is a real hard case who arrives on Donovan via the Turalon and immediately disrupts the status quo. If one were looking for a villain outside of the Quetzal, he would be it. Dan pretty much finds something that he is really good at and takes advantage of those who have suddenly found a glutton of wealth sitting in their pockets. With a man like Dan around, one needs to watch their backs and their front. 

Kalico Aquila is a Corporate bigwig who arrives on Donovan via the Turalon and immediately realizes that things on Donovan have gone to hell. The previous leader is dead. The Triumvirate rules the planet with different ideologies. Nobody cares about contracts they once signed, and to top things off, there are 7 Corporate ships with 3500 people onboard that have gone missing on the way to Donovan. Kalico chooses a different path from the others. A path that puts her directly in the way of Dan Wirth. Should be interesting to see what happens next. 

If you are curious about the cover, the scene actually does take place in the story. It is really, really creepy to say the least. It also leaves so many questions as to what happened that led the ship astray for 100 years or more. Will those who are still alive on Donovan ever return home, or will they be forever part of the Donovan landscape?

An exhausted Talina Perez watched the sunrise on Donovan. They still called it sunrise, even if the “sun” was officially named Capella and lay some thirty light- ears from Earth. This particular morning began as a brilliant spear of light behind the craggy black silhouette of the Blood Mountains. Donovan rotated in the same direction as Earth, so sunrise was still in the east.

Aching with fatigue and possessed of a pervading sense of futility, Talina would have preferred to be back at Port Authority. She would have awakened this morning, rested and energized from a full night’s sleep. Instead she stank of sweat, her feet and legs spotted with dried mud, her overalls filthy and smudged. Her skin stung from thorn punctures that she hadn’t been able to avoid in the darkness.

As the first light spilled through the distant gap, she desperately wanted to believe the morning myth, to lower her guard and yawn. Maybe let her mind wander.

Except that she’d seen too many sunrises play across the rictus on a freshly dead man’s face.
Donovan did that, destroyed illusion with brutal regularity.

As the dawn brightened, its light softened the angles and contours of the canyon—sifted shadow and form from the darkness.

She crouched on a precarious trail, body tense, the heavy rifle tightly gripped in her slim and tanned fingers. Her dark eyes shifted constantly, desperately searching the shadows. The charge was almost depleted in her thermal scope. Overhead, two of the drones scoured the canyon sides, the hiss of their fans barely audible.

Capella’s first rays caressed her face, warming her high cheeks and straight nose as they gave a golden cast to her bronzed skin. They illumi­nated her ancestral features of Spanish hidalgo mixed with classic Maya. Descended from sun gods and conquistadors, their spirit flashed in her sable eyes as she stalked the wild and rocky trails of another world.

Talina Perez hunted a killer.

She pursed her full lips and brushed back a strand of black hair where it had come loose from her long braid. Hair that adopted a bluish raven tint in the full morning light.

Warm air drifted down the canyon, carrying the odor of dry dirt and the cloying scent of musk bushes. The silence seemed to intensify as Capella’s light accented the parched surface of cracked and tum­bled stone with pale lavender; high above, it bathed the shredded cir­rus clouds in purple and orange streaks where they stretched across the northern sky.

Invertebrates whizzed and chirred in the tangles of brush beneath the sandstone outcrops. To her right the canyon dropped away to a stone-and-sand-choked streambed some twenty meters below.

She swallowed nervously and snugged the rifle butt into her shoul­der. Her gaze searched the cap rock above for any irregularity. Then she turned her attention to the narrowing gap where the trail climbed the canyon wall and emptied out onto the flat tableland above. Dotted with aquajade trees and ferngrass, the plain extended to the distant Wind Mountains where they rose some twenty kilometers beyond.

“Where the hell are you?” she whispered.

She tried to still her pounding heart in order to hear even the faintest sound. Changing her focus, she gave careful scrutiny to the ground, looking for scuffed soil, a displaced rock, a broken thorn, or a bruised leaf on one of the plants.

Because of a dead battery in a motion sensor, the quetzal had come undetected in the night, crossed the defensive ditch, unhooked the gate latch, and slipped into town. That was the thing about quetzals, they were intelligent. Learned from their mistakes. This one obviously had previous experience with humans and knew the defenses. After the creature made its kill, it had known how to escape, charging head­long for the uplands. That was another thing about quetzals: for short distances they could run faster than an aircar.

The planet hosted an endless variety of different and deadly beasts. Bems, though solitary and slow, relied on extraordinary camouflage and deadly claws to capture prey. The creature they called the night­mare inhabited the tropical jungle stretches just south of Port Au­thority. Also a master of camouflage, it mimicked the surrounding vegetation and invoked a special kind of horror: it first impaled and then devoured victims from the inside out. Fortunately nightmares almost exclusively lurked in mundo trees down south. Smaller threats like the slugs, spikes, and semisentient stinging, poisonous, and pred­atory plants filled out most of the rest of the known dangerous flora and fauna.

“Talina? You on the trail?”
 Allenovich’s voice came through her ear­piece.

She shifted her rifle, eyes still on the thornbushes as they rotated their branches to expose night-weary leaves to the rising sun. “I’m maybe three hundred meters from the head of the canyon.”

Still got tracks?”

Talina filled her lungs, hating the way her heart was hammering at her breastbone. “No. They vanished about fifty meters back.”

Shit.” A pause. “You watch your ass.”

“Yeah,” she whispered and wished for a drink of water.

“Trish here. I’m on the rim just across the canyon from you, Tal. Iji says the drones are reporting that nothing broke out onto the flat up ahead. It’ll take a while to recall them. I’m scanning the canyon with the IR. With the morning sun, that slope you’re on is a patchwork of heat signatures. You sure it’s there?”

“Yep.” She swallowed hard, the rifle up, her pulse racing. “I can al­most…”

A trickle of dirt broke loose to cascade from above.

Talina dropped to one knee, the rifle lifted for a snap shot as she stared through the optic.



The buzzing of the invertebrates changed; the chime shifted as if a whole section of them had gone quiet. Odd, that.

A pebble clicked and bounced down through the rocks and into the scrubby thorn brush above.
Quetzal? Or just the morning sun expanding the eroded soil?

Damn, I hate this!

Her muscles remained bunched like knotted wire. Something about the invertebrates…

“Trish?” she barely whispered. “See anything above me?”

Why the hell couldn’t humans have eyes in the backs of their heads?

The morning air had grown heavy, oppressive.

“Can’t make out anything definitive, Tal. Be damned careful. We don’t want to bury you, too.”

“Affirmative on that.”

The quetzal had prowled the town, tracks indicating where it had avoided adults—aware of their weapons—and skirted the lighted areas. Sticking to the shadows and back ways, it had made its way to the personal quarters, stopping only long enough to peer into the domes and try the doors.

At Allison Chomko’s it had found safe prey, had watched her leave her house on an errand. Then the creature had raised the unlocked latch before entering to make its kill. It had escaped, gone before any­one knew.

A running quetzal made an incredible sight with its flared collar membranes spread for thermal regulation. Its mouth gaped wide to expose serrated jaws, which acted as a sort of ram-air intake. Pushed into three separate lungs, oxygen supercharged the blood. As air was channeled through the body core, it picked up heat and was exhaled, or vented, above the powerful legs and along the tail. All six meters of the animal would turn blaze-white for better radiation. A quetzal running in panic across flat terrain could hit one hundred and sixty kph for short periods of time.

But it came at an incredible cost in energy; and here, in the canyon, it had gone to ground. By now it would have digested the infant girl it had taken from Allison Chomko’s cradle. Before it could run again, it had to eat, to replace those depleted resources.

Talina could sense the quetzal’s hunger, sense the creature’s three shining black eyes as they studied her. As if the gaze were somehow radiant.

The invertebrates began another chime—like a mutual wave of sound that passed from critter to critter. Talina was barely aware as it rolled slowly up from the canyon’s mouth.

The fine hair on the nape of her neck rose.

How can a creature that big turn invisible?

But that was the way of so many of Donovan’s creatures: masters of camouflage, all of them.

Arguments raged in Inga’s tavern. Were quetzals—in their way—as smart as humans? They hunted with uncanny ability, manipulated locks, doors, and tools—but made none of their own.
Here, in the canyon, the predator’s cunning permeated the very air. A metaphysical odor borne on the currents of the soul.

One small slip, Talina. That’s all it takes. Stay crisp—or you’ll die here.

Talina took another step, senses at high pitch. People had stepped on quetzals before, oblivious to their presence until that shift of slip­pery flesh beneath a misplaced foot. For their part, the creatures had learned that a human could be efficiently eliminated by a strike to the head, chest, or neck. All it took was a pistonlike blow from one of their clawed, three-toed feet.

Nerve sweat trickled down Talina’s cheek. Capella was a full hand-width above the horizon now, its heat beginning to radiate on the canyon wall. The chirring of the invertebrates swelled, covering any sound—as if the “bugs” were cheering the quetzal on.

Let it go! Just back away!

But she couldn’t. This one was too cunning a killer. It would be back. Smarter. Faster. More deadly.

The air pulsed with chime, beating a rhythm that was echoed by the land. Thorncactus reached out with a tentative branch, its spines scratching along her boot’s protective leather.

Talina flinched, wheeled, rifle up as she stared at the trail behind her. Empty.

If the thing would just move, the drones would detect it, give her that moment of warning. But for the drones they’d never have tracked the beast this far.

Another swelling of sound rolled up the canyon as the inverte­brates song-shared. The chime passed her, heading for the head of the canyon.

Yes! There! A break in the wall of sound—a dead spot of uncharac­teristic silence just off to the left—slightly above the trail and not more than ten paces away.

She fixed on it, lowered her cheek to the stock and squinted through the optic. The soil began to flow. A plant seemed to thin, as if reality had turned sideways. A shadow formed in dislodged dirt. Three black eyes emerged from behind mottled, soil-toned lids.

The moment their gazes fixed, they might have shared souls, touched each other’s deadly essences.

Talina shot as the quetzal leaped. Explosive-tipped bullets ripped into the rock and brush that surrounded the three eyes that seemed to rise before her.

She reeled back. Lost her footing and hit hard on the uneven stones. Somehow she kept her hold on the rifle, brought it up.

The quetzal’s camouflaged colors darkened as the creature landed, bunched, and launched itself.
Talina had a momentary image of its wide mouth, the wickedly serrated teeth. Then it blocked the sky as it hurtled toward her.

She was screaming as she held the trigger back. The rifle thundered as she kicked sideways, flung herself downhill off the trail. The quetzal slammed hard feet into the spot where she’d been, one claw cutting her sleeve.

The world spun as Talina tumbled down the slope, tore through the vegetation, bounced off rocks. She slammed onto a weather-rotten outcrop; sandstone crumbled under her weight. The side of her head hit a rock. Lightning and pain blasted through her skull. Her body bounced, landed on loose scree, slid, and broke through a young aquajade tree.

Suddenly she was weightless, falling. The creek bottom stopped her cold, the impact smacked both breath and sense out of her.

Stunned, vision blurred, she came to. Shocked nerves jangled in her limbs. Synapses overloaded and screamed. She tried to move—and gasped. Pain, like fire, burned through her body.

What the hell? Where am I? What the fuck happened?


Yes, I know this feeling.

The distant bang of a rifle bored past the ringing in her ears.

Who’s shooting?

Panic caused her to reach out, slap a torn and bleeding hand on a large rock. She was in a canyon bottom.

An image burst into her stumbling brain: quetzal. Baby killer.

“Hunting me,” she whispered as she reached up to wipe at her eyes—and couldn’t, given the long thorns sticking out of her hand.

Dirt and rocks came cascading from somewhere above. A bullet exploded on stone, followed by the crack of a rifle.


Talina whimpered as she pulled herself upright and struggled to see through her swimming eyes. Branches snapped above. Pretty clumsy work on the quetzal’s part.

Clumsy? Why?

Another bullet popped as it exploded above the cut bank no more than three meters above her.

Talina tried to stand. The numb burning in her leg changed to a white-hot and searing pain that speared through her fumbling brain. She managed to focus on her oddly twisted leg. Broken!

The quetzal slipped sideways above her as another of Trish’s bullets exploded in the dirt where the creature had been but an instant be­fore. Then it dropped over the edge, feet thudding into the streambed a couple of meters from Talina’s boots.

The quetzal gleamed, skin shining, reflecting streaks of black and yellow with the legs mottling into blackened umber on those deadly three-toed feet. Behind the creature’s elongated head, the neck expanded; the flaring collar burst into crimson glory.

Talina’s hand—heedless of the thorns—slapped for her holstered pistol. To her horror, the holster was empty, the pistol lost during the tumble down the slope.

The quetzal fixed her with its three black and gleaming eyes. The beast wobbled as if hurt. Took a step, then another.

The quetzal uttered an eerie moan as it raised itself sluggishly. Less than a meter separated her from the three vitreous eyes. The creature blasted out a trilling whistle mixed with a hiss of rage. Crystal drops of moisture caught the light in diamond sparkles where they beaded on the razor-ranks of teeth.

“So, you’re taking as many with you as you can,” Talina told it, dazzled by the glow behind those angry eyes. And in that instant, she could sense the alien intelligence behind that stare.

“Not that I blame you.”

The quetzal replied with a clicking down in its iridescent throat, as if in agreement.

Why the hell hadn’t Trish taken the final shot? What was keep­ing…Of course, this far down into the narrow-walled canyon, Trish didn’t have a shot. Couldn’t see the target.

“Sorry, pal.” Talina granted the beast a weary smile. Blood was run­ning down the side of her head.

The beast kept wobbling on its feet, mortally wounded. Gaze still fixed on hers, it tilted its head, as though in an effort to understand. It gestured with one of the wickedly clawed forefeet, as if demanding something of her. She could almost feel the bottled emotion as the beast whipped its tongue out between the elongated jaws.

She screamed as it made one final leap.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Tuesday #Review - Fire and Bone by Rachel A. Marks #YALit #Paranormal

Series: Otherborn # 1
Format: Paperback, 414 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Skyscape/Amazon
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal
In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.
Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.
Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.
As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out whom to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing is for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.

Fire and Bone is the first installment in author Rachel Marks Otherborn series. 18-year old Sage has spent an enormous amount of time on the streets of Los Angeles scrambling to keep herself fed and safe while running away from foster homes. Sage loves books with legends, & Gods, & cursed Kings, & castles. After being invited to a party where there is supposed to be plenty of food, Sage wakes to the reality that she has stepped into another world that has apparently been there the entire time. 

A world where she is a half human demigoddess and the second daughter of the Goddess Brighid. Oh, and her origin powers are ready to burst lose now that she is 18. She must train alongside a hunter named Faelan for her emergence, where she will pick one of the five houses each based off one of the elements: fire (Brighid), water (Lyr), earth (Cernunnos), air (Arwen), and spirit (Morrigan). Sage is a character who goes from being completely and totally out of her element, to growing leaps and bounds as she discovers more about herself, the world that is forever linked to, and what she is meant to do.

This isn't just Sage's story. The author actually alternatives between Sage, and Faelan, while also tossing in the Dark Prince of the House of Morrigan,Kieran, who makes Sage's life more than interesting. Reader also should know that the author taunts you with the backstory of Sage's sister, Queen Lily. It is fair to say that I didn't much connect with Lily at all. While the author does her best to make you understand why you should care about Lily, it is Sage who is growing into someone you can stand alongside.

Faelan is a curious sort of character. He's dark, dangerous, mysterious, and alluring. He is the hunter who is chosen to protect and train Sage for her Emergence. He is supposed to stand by her side while enemies try to kill or lure her to their way of thinking with expensive gifts. Faelan and Sage's story is a twisted one because of her bravado, sass, and lacking of education when it comes to the mythology for which she was born into, but abandoned to live as a human. One could say that there is a twisted sort of love triangle. Sage is pulled in the direction of both Faelan and Kieran who has more secrets to shake a stick at. Is Kieran an ally, a nemesis, a possible lover, or just a hurdle for Sage's happy ending?

Monday #Review - The Book of Secrets by Melissa McShane #Fantasy

Series: The Last Oracle # 1
Format: E-Book, 192 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Fantasy

Helena Davies just wants a job that will get her out of her parents’ basement. Abernathy’s Bookstore is disorganized, out of the way, and smells funny, but it pays well and promises to be interesting. She has no idea how interesting. By the end of the first day, Helena has a dead boss in the basement, an unexpected promotion, and the news that she is now a part of an endless war against creatures from another reality.
As Abernathy’s newest custodian, Helena is responsible for its secrets, including the most important one: Abernathy’s isn’t just a bookstore. It’s the world’s only living oracle, producing prophecies to help fight the war against alien invaders bent on draining this world of its magic. Helena’s job is to find books to answer questions put to the oracle by the Wardens, fighters in the Long War. It seems simple enough, but Helena’s new job is anything but.
Without training, without any knowledge of the magical world, and facing the hostility of those who’d wanted someone else to be Abernathy’s custodian, Helena must navigate the treacherous waters of her new world and find a place for herself within it. But there’s still a murderer on the loose, someone who intended to control Abernathy’s by killing its custodian—and Helena might be next on his list.

The Book of Secrets is the first installment in author Melissa McShane's The Last Oracle series. This is a brand new series from the author. I first became aware of the authors work through her series called The Extraordinaries which I am looking forward to continuing. McShane's new world is a curious one. It is a world in which our protagonist, Helena Davies, walks in for an interview at Abernathy's, and gets hired by the mysterious Nathaniel Briggs on the spot. Abernathy's does business via phone calls, order forms, catalog trade, and in person. 

After Nathaniel is found dead, a curious thing happens. Helena inherits the bookstore as custodian. Of course, this leads to all sorts of questions. Why did Nathaniel hire someone with no experience, and no knowledge of what Abernathy's really is? Will Helena be able to do the job she's supposed to be paid fairly well for, or will she have to abdicate to someone else? It's obvious that Nathaniel had no reason to believe that he would die any time soon, but the questions still continue right until the very end at why Helena was chosen over someone who has had previous training.

There are also questions regarding the war which has been ongoing for 700 years. There are creatures who come from somewhere outside our reality. Nightmareland creatures want the magic that humans are born with, but only a few have access to. As a custodian like Lucia Pontafelli who becomes a support mechanism in all of Helena's questions and circumstances she finds herself in, she can also see through glamour and what the monsters actually look like. Wardens like Malcolm Campbell, who is predicted to become Helena's romance buddy, fight and die every day in order to protect this world from the monsters that invade our world.

Abernathy is also a weapon in that it gives out answers at how to fight the long war. It is expected to treat each side (Nicollien & Ambrosite) as equals regardless of personal feelings. Abernathy's runs on what's called indeterminacy. Abernathy is never organized by author, title, or subject. By never being organization, no one actually knows what is in here, therefore anything can be in here. While Helena is learning all about her new function in life, there's those pesky police detectives who truly believe that Helena is involved in some way even though they have zero evidence of actually accusing her of doing evil. Thankfully, Helena does have a bit of relief in her best friend Viv.  

There are times the synopsis is perhaps a bit too revealing at what happens in this book. This is one of those cases. So, let me highlight the more interesting aspects. First, Helena isn't a member of the cast of the Librarian, but she is being compared to Flynn. Second, Abernathy's isn't a Library, it's a living oracle, and the greatest of its kind since the disappearance of the Lady at Delphi. People come into Abernathy's with questions, and it is up to the custodian to find the answers given by the oracle. Sometimes those answers are not what the person wants to hear. 

Abernathy's is a place that takes both money and magic in payment for augery's. Custodians of Neutralities can't use magic or ask questions on their own behalf. However, many custodians like Helena have abilities bestowed on them by the virtue of their position as custodian. This is not a standalone, although you might think it was after everything is said and done. I would love to have the author dig deeper when it comes to Silas Abernathy. I think there is a fountain of information just waiting to be revealed.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves # 274 - Week Ending 02/17/2018

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 Stopping by!

Short and sweet this week!
One unexpected book from Wednesday Books,
3 unexpected approvals via NetGalley!
Thank you, Curiosity Quills Press, St. Martin's Press, Flatiron Books!

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Shadow Hunt by Melissa F. Olson (Urban Fantasy)

Tuesday - The Defiant by Lesley Livingston (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - Iron Gold by Pierce Brown (Science Fiction)

Thursday - The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D VIA Publisher, NetGalley*