Thursday, April 19, 2018

ARC #Review - Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol #YALit #Dystopian

Series: Secondborn # 2
Format: E-Arc, 316 pages
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Publisher: 47North
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Dystopian

Rebel warrior Roselle St. Sismode returns in the second book of the epic Secondborn series by USA Today bestselling author Amy A. Bartol.
In the Fates Republic…

Firstborns reign supreme.
Secondborns kneel in servitude.
Thirdborns face death.
And Census shadows them all.

Secondborn Roselle St. Sismode was pressed into military service to battle the rebel uprising threatening the society that enslaves her. Now, powerful factions conspire to subvert the lines of succession, positioning Roselle to replace her mother as leader of the Republic’s armed forces. But the woman who bore her would sooner see Roselle dead than let her usurp her firstborn brother’s command.

The deadly war of intrigue between her new masters and her ruthless family is but one conflict challenging Roselle. A soldier for the rebellion has drawn her into a rogue army’s plot to overthrow the Republic and shatter its brutal caste system. Targeted by assassins and torn between allies, Roselle will have her loyalty, love, and honor tested in the greatest battle of—and for—her life.

Traitor Born is the second installment in author Amy A. Bartol's Secondborn series. The story picks up where Secondborn left off. Protagonist Roselle St. Sismode has found herself in a situation that most likely would make others skittish and run for the hills. She's become a pawn in a political game that has seen Rose become the person of the moment. The Gates of Dawn wants her to break the dreaded Fate system which includes Virtue, Swords, Stars, Atoms, Suns, Diamonds, Moon, Seas, & Stones. The Rose Garden Society wants her to become the Sword ruler replacing her mother who has tried to kill her, as did her own brother who she still supports.

But, nobody has asked Rose what she wants for the her life if she survives all the challenges that are heading straight for her. This is a world that is dominated by Firstborns while Secondborn's are given over to the government to use as they see fit. And, if you are a Thirdborn, you are deemed unnecessary, and are hunted down by a group known as Census. Rose has already faced the Census and Agent Crow. Rose has a strange group of allies including Clarity Bowie, Clifton Salloway, Reykin Winterstorm, and Dune Kodaline. Despite the protection afforded to her by both Rose Garden and Gates of Dawn, danger always seems to find its way to Roselle's doorstep.

Her mother, Othala St. Sismode, is on the warpath and will stop at nothing to remove the threat she sees in Roselle to  her machinations. Census Crow wants Roselle badly. She has found a way to escape him time and time again, but how many times can one person escape from bad situations before her good luck runs out? I'll have to admit that I've become a fan of Roselle's, especially after this book. Rose is not unlike me who gets panic attacks. She's a badass fighter, who gets some pretty cool weapons and outfits, and then gets thrown into the frying pan by the author. Roselle has been a puppet her entire life. As her families Secondborn, everyone has their own agenda for her and their own motivations for treating her certain ways. Roselle doesn't hate her brother. She probably should since he has checked out and hasn't exactly stood up to defend her. Her mother is ruthless, cunning, dangerous, and manipulative. Roselle would be better off just cutting the cord and admitting that were it not for others and her own cunning, she would be dead.

I liked her connection with Reykin which slow develops over the course of the story and then leaves room for more if the author choose to do so. I am saddened to say that there's a brutal cliffhanger ending to this book. But, I am happy to say that the author throws a really wicked cool scene where all hell breaks loose. No spoilers. The author is diabolical. Seriously. I literally gasped at what the author puts Roselle and allies through. And, if that weren't enough, she leaves a preview of the third installment that will linger with you until Rebel Born is released in 2019. Traitor Born is an action packed story filled with twists, and surprises, and emotionally charged scenes. If you haven't read the first book yet, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ARC #Review - Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist #YALit #Dystopian #Western

Series: Standalone
Format: E-ARC, 496 pages
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Westerns

True Grit meets 28 Days Later in a tense, heart-pounding alternate history of the Old West. To protect her family, a young woman must brave the desert and a terrifying infected population in this gripping adventure that is for fans of Westworld and The Walking Dead.

Ten years ago, a horrifying disease began spreading across the West Texas desert. Infected people—shakes—attacked the living and created havoc and destruction. No one has ever survived the infection. Daisy Wilcox, known as Willie, has been protecting her siblings within the relatively safe walls of Glory, Texas. When Willie’s good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most dangerous shake-hunters in town, she finds herself on the hook for his debt. With two hunters, including the gruff and handsome Ben, to accompany her, she sets out across the desert in search of her father. But the desert is not kind to travelers, and not everyone will pass through alive.

Devils Unto Dust, by author Emma Berquist, is a Young Adult, Dystopian, Western standalone novel. Devils Unto Dust takes place in an alternative history reality right after the Civil War ended. Ten years ago, a disease spread across the West Texas desert and those infected – known as the Shakes – attacked the living and wreaked havoc. Parts of Texas have been cut off from the rest of the country thanks to a silver sickness. In fact, the rest of the country has pretty much left Texas to its own devices.

Protagonist Willy "Don't call me Daisy" Wilcox and her family lives in Glory, Texas behind walls that keep the residents safe from the Shakes. Willie is an amazing character. She has three siblings (Micah, Catherine & Calum) that she has taken responsibility for since her mother was infected, and her dad mailed in his responsibility for his own children's welfare. But, Willie has dreams of her own. She doesn't want to be locked up behind walls for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, life throws her a fast ball right down her strike zone.

After her father hightails it out of Glory with a whole lot of money, Willie finds herself allied with a pair of brothers who are also hunters; Curtis and Ben Garrett. Given a deadline to bring her father back or pay the cost and most likely lose everything they have left, Willie, Curtis, Ben, along with Micah, her brother, and Sam, son of the local doctor, travel across a dangerous landscape hoping to catch her father and bring him back. The author really digs deep to provide a realistic story against a harsh environment. There is also a hint of a romance, but nothing that overshadows Willie's own personal struggles.

Dust Unto Dust is a story about survival, family, and the struggle to survive against all odds. There are tense, short chapters that end on cliffhangers which propels readers from one action-packed scene to the next. Willie’s distinctive, introspective voice deepens the emotional stakes with every turn of the page. The author manages to excel at creating a realistic world (Texas) that captures the heat and dust of the Texas desert. High concept and character-driven, Emma Berquist’s debut will satisfy fans of The Magnificent Seven, Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger, and HBO’s Westworld

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday #Review - Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Lady Pirates # 1
Format: E-ARC, 239 pages
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Jennifer Ellision
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board.  That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.  Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans...  To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.  Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.  She just isn’t sure that she won’t.

Over Raging Tides is the first installment in author Jennifer Ellision's Lady Pirates series. Onboard the Lady Luck, Grace Porter is both Quartermaster and First Mate under Captain Ilene. Onboard the Lady Luck, there are no loyalties to Kings, or Queens. It is also a ship that is filled with women pirates. The twist? "No man shall board this ship." However, after stumbling upon a wrecked warship & searching for treasure, Grace makes the choice to save survivors Leo and his younger brother John from the horrible monsters known as Mordgris.

The reason? Leo claims to know the location of a magical map that is said to be omniscient. The Map of Omna is said to be able to find the precise location of every treasure, every legend, and people who have been lost. Leo believes it is a bargaining chip to keep him and his brother alive. Grace believes it is a way to find the home of the Mordgris. The same Mordgris who were responsible for taking Grace's mother away from her. Mordgris have been haunting and stalking her wearing her mother's face for years.

After spending nearly her entire life onboard, the Lady Luck, Grace may have to do some things she never thought she would do in order to discover whether or not her mother is dead or alive. She may have to break a lot of rules, betray her fellow shipmates, and break hearts to get the revenge she is hunting. She may also have to ignore warnings to stay away from the island where Mordgris call home if she wishes to live another day. 

If you haven't already figured out that the author is a huge Pirates of the Caribbean fan, well she pretty much admits it in the credits. This is not a standalone series. You have a clear cliffhanger ending that will lead into the next installment. I shall definitely recommend this story to everyone. Grace is a great lead character, and there are plenty of twists and surprises that await the reader. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday #Review - True North by L.E. Sterling #YALIT #Dystopian

Series: True Born Trilogy # 2
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian

It’s not you…it’s your DNA.

Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot.

But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

True North, by author L.E. Sterling, is the second installment in the authors True Born trilogy. The story picks up four months after the ending of True Born which introduced readers to a dystopian world where a major plague tore through the world creating three separate but unequal factions: Splicers, Lasters, and True Born. Splicers are those who are able to have DNA treatments to lengthen their lives; Lasters are those who have been infected with the plague, and whose days are numbered; True Born's are those who are not affected by the plague thanks to some evolutionary advantage.

The protagonist of the series is 18-year old Lucinda (Lucy) Fox who, last we saw her, had her world upturned and has no clue what her reveal was supposed to show her. Everyone in this world is supposed to know what they are before the age of 18. Lucy's reveal was destroyed by a radical sect of Lasters.  Lucy was born identical and conjoined with her sister Margot Fox. Margot has been missing for the past 4 months along with her parents and a Russian oligarch who wanted both sisters. Lucy and Margot have an interesting connection as well. They can both feel what the other feels.

We once again return to the fictional city of Dominion, but we won't be there the entire series. This time, the author takes Lucy for a little ride. With her world in ashes and her twin sister Margot carried off to Russia, Lucy has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of her True Born friends. But Nolan Storm, mysterious leader of the True Born's, has his own agenda: by leveraging Lucy’s connections, he intends to infiltrate the powerful Upper Circle. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands.

With the help of a new but mysterious friend, Alastair, and one spitting mad True Born bodyguard, Jared Price, who is his own world of complications; Lucy sets off for Russia, with its whispered rumors of Plague Cure and an introduction to a group known as the GILT who may have the money to remake the the world to before the plague. When Lucy and her friends arrive on the new shore, the trio discovers not all is as it appears. Things are truly bleak and it appears as though Lucy is being hunted. As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not who you are. It’s what's in your DNA.

This book is NOT a standalone. You must have some sense of where the story has been so that you can know where the author takes her characters from here. You can also expect a kind of cliffhanger ending to the story. There is lots, and lots of unanswered questions. Questions that I am hoping that the author reveals in the third and final installment called True Storm. I need to know about the attraction between Lucy and Jared. Is it animalistic, or is it really true love? Also, Alastair is a character who is very, very intriguing, but we are left with more questions than answers as to why he helps Lucy and seems to be an ally of hers. There is obviously an end game with Nolan Storm. I have some ideas, but let's see what the author has to say about it.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves # 279 (Week Ending 04/14/2018)

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!

Now that I've decided to stay where I am for one more year, rather than moving back to New York, or some where else, I've been trying to get back to reading again. I tell you folks, life comes at you fast. Just when you think you have everything figured out, something or someone comes around and throws all sorts of things at you. If you let it get to you, you will fall into depression, anger, resentment, and it make you want to give up. I will say this, however, I will never forget the way this particular company treated me, and those who have been here for more than 10 years. It's absolutely ridiculous!

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

 Book Tour/Giveaway Monday - Dreamer by L.E. Delano (YA, SyFy) 

Tuesday - Winter Glass by Lexa Hillyer (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - Purple Hearts by Michael Grant (YA, Historical)

Thursday - Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence (Epic, Fantasy)

 Friday - True Born by L.E. Sterling (YA, Dystopian)

*REC'D VIA NetGalley, Edelweiss, Library*

Friday, April 13, 2018

ARC #Review - Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 448 pages
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Historical

Vikings meets Frostblood in this romantic, historical fantasy stand-alone from debut young adult author Jessica Leake.

The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.

The people of Mide have always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn but the entire world.

Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle, the two might have a chance to save their world.

With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.

Beyond a Darkened Shore is the standalone debut young adult novel by author Jessica Leake. Beyond a Darkened Shore draws inspiration from both Celtic and Norse mythology, and explores a world we don’t often see in fantasy. The Kingdom of Mide, land of Éirinn’s is where this story takes place. If you want to go ahead and compare the world to Ireland circa 1035 AD, go for it. I sure did. Princess Ciara Leannan is the Kingdom of Mide's heir and the story's protagonist. 

She's a warrior princess who walks the walk, and has some twisted ability to get inside the head of her enemies and control them. Abilities which have made her the black sheep of not only her family, but the village in which they live in as well. They call her evil and a changeling. Ciara and her people, the Celts, have been under constant attack from the Northmen aka Norsemen. With her father the King away, Ciara is responsible for protecting the Kingdom. Strangely enough, Ciara is pulled into a dream where she is told that she must trust and rely on her enemy to defeat the dangerous things that are heading to destroy

Urged not to kill the leader of a roving band of northmen by a mysterious voice and the arrival of a black crow, Ciara instead captures him. "There will come a day, when your own blood will join forces with your enemy." Leif Olafson is a northmen aka norsemen who is supposed to find an ally, preferably a badass warrior, who can help him defeat his people's enemies the Jotan. He is also one of the few people Ciara cannot control with her abilities. Leif also carries a secret with him. A secret that gives him the ability to defeat his enemies, but with a cost. 

After losing to Ciara, the two form an uneasy alliance. An alliance that will see Ciara learn about her own skills, abilities, and her connection to a dark goddess of death which has made her an outcast among her people. An alliance that will see Ciara trust Leif way more than her own people. Ok, look, I can't hold this back any longer. Have you ever watched the movie Return of the King? Do you remember a particular scene in which Aragorn, Legolas, & Gimli searches for an undead army that is so powerful that it is unstoppable? Let's just say Leake must be a huge fan. I absolutely loved the scene in this story. It also gives readers an idea how powerful Ciara really is, and who she gets her powers from.

If you like a story with a forbidden slow burn romance, you have it. If you like a story with wonderfully creative twists mixing Celtic and Norse mythology together, you have it. If you don't like waiting for the next installment to come out, you have it. This is a standalone. If you love having Celtic and Norse Gods and Goddess featured throughout the book, you definitely get your fill. I am a huge fan of mixed mythologies so I will be more lenient with my ratings that perhaps others. I loved Ciara and Morrigan, then you toss in Jotnar, Odin, Valkyries, and Valhalla, and you have me in your clutches.

Jessica’s next title, which will be another stand-alone fantasy inspired by mythology, is on Harper Collins Winter ’19 list.

Friday #Review - True Born by L.E. Sterling #YALit #Dystopian

Series: True Born # 1
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian

Splicer. Laster. True Born. 

In Dominion City, once you reach eighteen they're supposed to tell you.

Plague has taken half the population, and the remaining Lasters wait without hope for their genes to self-destruct. Only the elite Upper Circle can afford potentially life-prolonging Splicer treatments. For seventeen-year old identical twins Lucy and Margot Fox, though, the tests never end - yet no one seems to be ready to reveal what they are. 

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the Plague-resistant True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion's street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it's in the blood.

True Born is the first installment in author L.E. Sterling's True Born Trilogy. The protagonist of the series is soon to be 18-year old Lucinda (Lucy) Fox. Lucy was born identical and conjoined with her sister Margot Fox. Lucy and Margot are part of what the author is calling the Upper Circle. Margot is wild but charming while Lucy is reserved but bold. The story takes place in a fictional city called Dominion where the plague has twisted humanity forever.

There are three separate groups of people living in this world. Splicers, Lasters, and True Born. Splicers are those who are able to have DNA treatments to lengthen their lives; Lasters are those who have been infected with the plague, and whose days are numbered; True Borns are those who are not affected by the plague thanks to some evolutionary advantage. The main idea that is thrown around in this story is that humanity must Evolve or Die. It's written all over Dominion. 

In this world, you are supposed to know before your 18th birthday when you have your reveal party if you are one of the three. In Lucy & Margot's case, however, things are not that clear. Not that clear at all. In fact, I dare say, without spoilers, that are very much in the dark about what they are, and what makes them so different from the rest of Dominion. The sisters have a very solid connection, even though Margot is clearly the more free in her ways and attitude. 

When something happens to one sister, the other can feel it. I would have liked to have alternating chapters with Margot's POV since things happen to her that we don't undercover. Margot also seems to understand that things are happening, while Lucy walks around angling for someone to sit her down and explain things to her. The arrival of security expert & True Born Nolan Storm shakes things up a bit. Storm and his entourage help Lucy and Margot navigate the mess that has become their life as the world is slowly burning around them.

Nolan Storm is an intriguing character. I'm curious to see how he's going to help the girls, or whether helping the girls is actually helping himself to bigger things. When Margot goes missing, Lucy fears the worst. She also meets the mysterious Jared Price, a True Born mercenary who has panther DNA and has a tendency to want to protect Lucy even though they are clearly oil and water. Jared's relationship with Lucy is bitter sweet, antagonistic, and twisted. But, I don't see one surviving without the other. 

If that weren't enough, there are a group of religious zealots who are aware of Lucy and Margot and would do anything to get their hands on either of them. If you are looking for the worst parents of the year, just take a look at Lucy and Margot's parents who are super awful. The girls are nothing but pawns to be played in order to keep the power they already have. Since I've read the first two installments, and have the third in que to read soon, I shall say that this story leaves a whole lot of unanswered questions. While there isn't necessarily a cliffhanger ending to this story, it pretty much guarantees that you must read the next two to find out what makes Lucy and Margot so special, and why everyone from Tom, Dick, and Harry have plans for them.