Monday, August 31, 2015

#Review - Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Court of Fives # 1
Format: Kindle, 448 pages
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Author Ann Aguirre
Recommended By: Ann Aguirre
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Court of Fives is the first installment in the Court of Fives series by Kate Elliot. 17-year old Jessamy is the lead protagonist. She lives with her younger sister Amaya (the perfect one), her twin sister Bettany (the outspoken one), and older sister Maraya (the intelligent one) who studies to become an Archivist but is held back by having a club foot. The sisters have been raised in a household that is unique to this particular world and are never allowed out in polite society. Her father, Esladas, is a lowborn Army Captain who came to Efea to make his fame and fortune, quickly rising up through the ranks thanks to his sponsor and his determination.

Even though by law he can't marry the mother of his children, Kiya, he has remained faithful to her for 20 years. In this world, Patrons cannot marry Commoners and expect to rise further in their careers. Nor can the daughters of Esladas marry to those they want. Jessamy balances her life between that of an upper class Patron and presumed Commoner who is called MULE to her face thanks to her dark coloring and coily hair, by training to run The Fives. The Fives is a staged obstacle course that doesn't care if you are a man or a woman. The only thing that matters is fame and an opportunity to make money for your family.

Jessamy is a very competitive person not unlike her father. She wants so badly to compete in The Fives, that she saves up for a whole year, and then sneaks out behind her father's back to participate and nearly wins at her first attempt. The only problem is that the winner must unmask themselves before the entire assembled crowd which she can't do. Jessamy's decision to run The Fives and her near win, comes back to haunt her when a scheming powerful Lord Gargaron tears her family apart, and forces Jessamy into running for him, while her father is required to marry a Patron of higher statue.

Jessamy meets Kalliarkos after her almost win, and an unlikely friendship begins. Kalliarkos is a Patron prince and heir to the crown and he too loves running in The Fives, instead of serving under his uncle in the Army. They form an unlikely alliance and romance that is frowned upon and tested day in and day out. After being taken in by Lord Gargaron, Jess is determined to let nothing get in her way or reuniting and saving her mother, and sisters from Gargaron's machinations and power grab.

This story is being marketed as Little Women meets Games of Thrones. I have no problem with that comparison. I have heard people bitching about no world building or lack of characters that stand out. I disagree. Perhaps I saw things that others missed. Perhaps I didn't let side things bother me all that much knowing that Jess is so much like her father, that nothing is going to hold her back from getting what she wants. I dare say that while Jessamy is the main character of this book, the most interesting and spirited is Kiya, the mother.

I loved that she doesn't cower to anyone, including pesky Lords who tear her family apart. I love that she knew everything that Jessamy was doing and didn't ground her or make issues with it. I don't know how to take Bettany. She there, she says things that hurt, and then she disappears when everything is happening to her sister, and family. Amaya is just your typical young girl who wants it all, and isn't afraid of saying so. Loved Maraya as well. Loved that she doesn't let a little disability to hold her back from her push to become an Archivist.  I look forward to the sequel now that I've got the first installment out of the way, and loved it.

**I was gifted a copy of this book by author Ann Aguirre. Thank you so much!**

Saturday, August 29, 2015

*2 Reviews In 1* Sideswiped and The Drafter by Kim Harrison (Science Fiction, Time Travel)

Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles #0.5
Format: Kindle, 80 pages
Release Date: August 10, 2015
Publisher: Pocket Star
Source: Amazon
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel

Don’t miss this thrilling first look into the elite world of Peri Reed, government agency operative extraordinaire, and catch more of her character in The Drafter, the first book in the all-new suspense trilogy from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison, out September 1.

Every hero, even the accidental ones, have a beginning.

Silas’s radical theory that drafters are not replaying time as much as they are temporarily sliding into an alternate universe has never been well-received, but frankly, the darling of Opti’s research has enough clout not to care, until a professor with a grudge tries to put a permanent end to it. Love can’t alter time, and sometimes, even being able to rub out a single mistake isn’t enough…

Sideswiped is a 80 page novella that takes place FIVE years before The Drafter begins. Not a whole lot to say about this story. Perhaps it's best described as being an appetizer for what is to come. I dare say that Peri Reed is not the main character. She's a secondary character who appears several times over the course of the story. Dr. Silas Denier is the main character of this novella. Silas has theories about what Drafting, or Time Travel really does. He bangs heads with those who think he's a lunatic. He really doesn't have much to worry about overall, however. He's already a doctor, working on his thesis about Drafting. It is his reaction to the students, including his girlfriend and best friend, that makes up this story.

Sideswiped is story about a group of Drafters and Anchors who are supposed to pass a major test in order to graduate. The test is disastrous at best. Peri's appearance adds a bit of fun and depth to the mix after she hits Silas in the head with a drone. Readers also get to take a peak at the first two chapters of The Drafter, if you so choose. I choose. You should take notice of not only Peri and Silas, but Allen Swift as well. You will be hearing about all three characters, as well as Fran Jacquard real soon.

Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles # 1
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel

Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run.

Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote.

When Peri discovers her name on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. She joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her final task, unable to trust even herself.

The Drafter is the first installment in The Peri Reed Chronicles, and takes place FIVE years after the novella Sideswipped ends (See review above!) So, yes I do recommend reading the novella before picking up this story. The Drafter is an action packed, stress ride of a story, with plenty of mysteries, betrayals, and heartbreaks to keep you busy from beginning to end. The year is 2030, the setting of the story is mainly alternative or futuristic Detroit, with a stop over in Charlotte where things turn on a dime for our protagonist Peri Reed. 

Peri is a trained, covert government operative who is sent around the world with her partner and anchor Jack Twill to change everything from terrorists plots, to making a group of men extremely wealthy, to retrieving a list of names said to be of corrupt agents. She truly believes that she is doing good work, and isn't aware of the extent of the betrayal of those she works with, until she finds out her name is on a list of those who are considered to be corrupt. Peri has the ability to Draft back in time if and when things go badly, and they often do in this story. The problem with this ability as I see it, is that Peri has to rely almost entirely on her Anchor to keep her sane and be there when she drafts.

Her memories would float away into the Aether otherwise, or end up with two timelines instead of one if her anchor isn't around. The biggest nightmare for any Drafter is not knowing what really happened to them or that they've been used for years. When Peri loses 3 years of her life thanks to her Anchor, she tries to put the pieces of her life back together, while also trying to determine who the good guys really are, and how she got into this situation in the first place. She reconnects with Silas Denier, who tries to help her understand what has happened to her. 

The reason why I ask you to read said novella first, is that one of the POV's is from Dr. Silas Denier who once worked for the same organization that Peri works for now, Opti. He and Peri briefly met in the Novella and apparently continued to work together along with Allen Swift, and Fran Jacquard. Silas helped an organization called the Alliance attempt to bring Opti down from the inside before leaving, and is being drawn back to bring Peri back to where she really belongs. Silas is not only an important cog that turns the wheel of this story, but its his inventions are what allow others to use Peri for their machinations.

I dare say that Peri is a wonderful character, a kickass heroine, but we've lost some crossover information between Sideswipped and The Drifter. Sideswipped showed a brilliant Drafter who became an government agency operative extraordinaire. But, what we don't have inside information to, is Peri joining a group known as Opti, or why she started working for them in the first place. There is no explanation. I don't ask for much. I just ask for a bit of world building and pieces of the puzzle that actually fit together! I dare call this story alternative fantasy or science fiction because in order for any of the things to truly happen in this book, the US would already need to be focusing on this technology.

**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Friday, August 28, 2015

#Stacking The Shelves / #The Weekly Wrap-Up / Holy, Harper Titles Batman!

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!

I have absolutely no excuses or regrets for this book haul. None. Whatsoever. 
I saw these titles. I downloaded them from NetGalley and Edelweiss.
Thankfully, a majority of them are 2016 releases!
Hope you find something you like!
The Week in Reviews:

Monday - Hide and Seek by Jane Casey (YA, Mystery)
Tuesday - About A Girl by Sarah McCarry (YA, Contemporary, Mythology)
Wednesday - Armada by Ernest Cline (YA, Science Fiction)
Thursday - In Cold Blood by Mark Dawson (Thriller)
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (Historical, Western)
Saturday - Sideswiped & The Drafter by Kim Harrison (Science Fiction)

Scheduled for Next Week:

Sunday - Steampunk Sunday @ Talk Supe Blog
Monday - Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (YA, Fantasy)
Tuesday - Blood Moon Rising by Mark Dawson (Thriller)
Wednesday - The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer (YA, Fantasy, Historical)
Thursday - Blood and Roses by Mark Dawson (Thriller)
Friday - The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin (Urban Fantasy)
Saturday - Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine (

Received via Edelweiss (12) or NetGalley (6)









#Review - This Case Is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova (Paranormal, Mystery

Series: Linnet Ellery # 1
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Release Date: July 2, 2013 (Reissue)
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Library
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery

In Phillipa Bornikova's debut novel This Case is Gonna Kill Me, law, finance, the military, and politics are under the sway of long-lived vampires, werewolves, and the elven Alfar. Humans make the best of rule by "the Spooks," and contend among themselves to affiliate with the powers-that-be, in order to avoid becoming their prey. Very loyal humans are rewarded with power over other women and men. Very lucky MEN, not women are selected to join the vampires, werewolves, and elves-or, on occasion, to live at the Seelie Court.

Linnet Ellery is the offspring of an affluent Connecticut family dating back to Colonial times. Fresh out of Yale law school, she's beginning her career in a powerful New York "white fang" law firm. She has high hopes of eventually making partner.

But strange things keep happening to her. In a workplace where some humans will eventually achieve immense power and centuries of extra lifespan, office politics can be vicious beyond belief. After some initial missteps, she finds herself sidelined and assigned to unpromising cases. Then, for no reason she can see, she becomes the target of repeated, apparently random violent attacks, escaping injury each time through increasingly improbable circumstances. However, there's apparently more to Linnet Ellery than a little old-money human privilege. More than even she knows. And as she comes to understand this, she's going to shake up the system like you wouldn't believe..

This Case Is Gonna Kill Me is the first installment in the Linnet Ellery series. Linnet is a 25-year recent graduate of Yale Law School, who has been given a chance to show that she's worth all the hype that came with her. Linnet spent years being fostered by a vampire (Meredith Bainbridge) after her parents decided to pass her along. Personally, I don't agree with the tag line The Firm meets Anita Blake. While the story does, in fact, center around a powerful NYC law firm called Ishamael, McGillary, and Gold, Linnet isn't a slut who sleeps with every single male and female in sight due to some lust driven condition that she can't rid herself of. Sarcastic much? 

She's also not a super powerful heroine who can raise the dead, or kill vampires with a single breath, nor does she work as a Marshal hunting down rogue vampires and other supernatural. She's a human fostered by a vampire and knows the nuisances of the Power structure which includes vampires, werewolves and the Alfar (Think Fairy). Strange things don't start happening to Linnet until her mentor is murdered and instead of being fired, she is given her mentors case load. This leads Linnet into some interesting situations where she has to rely on two different male characters to save her life. There are instances where you have to ask yourself if Linnet is just lucky, or is something ensuring her safety.  

Yes, there are several sex scenes in the story, but nothing that would be considered a love triangle. Always good in my estimation. One was truly a breaking point for Linnet. I loved when she and other women of the Law Firm stood up for themselves against the vile sexist pig of a vampire who uses, sleeps with, and then tosses away every single woman in the firm. Always thought women were the most intolerable species on earth with their little games, snark, rumors, backstabbing, and innuendos that make other women cower in embarrassment. Then we complain that we should be treated with respect, dignity, and not treated like foot stools by men on the way up. You can gain respect from others if you treat others like you want to be treated, and stop falling for PEER shenanigans.

I liked the connection between Linnet and Private Investigator/Alfar John O'Shea. Even liked it when Linnet's nemesis vampire Doug McCallister becomes a friend, and helps her when things look the darkest for Linnet's unbelievable streak of surviving attack after attack by vicious werewolves out to stop her from winning her case. Would have liked to have more of a view of Elfland, but I'm sure the author will get to that sooner, rather than later. I will be continuing this series with Box Office Poison. There's a whole lot of stuff that is just waiting for Linnet, including getting her partner back from Elfland.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#Review - In Cold Blood by Mark Dawson (Adult, Thriller)

Series: Beatrix Rose # 1
Format: E-Book, 204 pages
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Thriller

Beatrix Rose was the most dangerous assassin in an off-the-books government kill squad until her former boss betrayed her, her husband was gunned down, and her daughter kidnapped.

A decade later, Beatrix emerges from the Hong Kong underworld with payback on her mind. It’s a blood feud she didn’t start but she is going to finish.

There are six names on her Kill List. With one already crossed off, Beatrix sets out to find her second target, a mercenary being held hostage by Somali terrorists. Can she infiltrate the most dangerous failed state on the planet and scrub him off the List, too?

Packed with explosive action and page-turning suspense, In Cold Blood is the first novel in Mark Dawson’s bestselling Beatrix Rose series.

In Cold Blood is the first installment in the Beatrix Rose trilogy. Mark Dawson is a new to me author, and therefore it pains me to say that I did not read the John Milton series story Ghost where Beatrix made an appearance and eliminated one of the names off her list. I do think that Dawson has taken Kill Bill, and made it his own version with yet another hard core assassin. So, let's call this Kill Bill, Volume 3. After all, the main character in Kill Bill was named Beatrix Kiddo aka the Bride and she also lost her lover and daughter to assassins. Not unlike Kill Bill, Beatrix is on a mission to rid the world of SIX particular individuals who betrayed her and left her with no hope of ever seeing her daughter again.

There are now 4 names, plus the man, Control, who sent the assassins after Beatrix. But, Beatrix also has another worry to think about. Can she finish her revenge plot before her cancer wins? Can she protect her daughter and train her to fight against those who might show up one day looking for her? I think that there is a whole lot of background information that is missing from this story. Perhaps Dawson could have linked the actual book where Milton and Rose worked together to rid the world of one of the names on Beatrix's list. I think that perhaps we could have used a summary of who John Milton is, who Control is, and why they went after Beatrix and her family, and why Beatrix spent years in China. I think that the book could have been a whole lot longer, with perhaps more action.

Readers should be warned that Dawson uses Oxford English to write this story. Often times I found myself shaking my head wondering what the hell he was referring to. I even tweeted different variations of American English words just to be snarky. I dare say that those in England will understand, but Americans will be scratching their heads unless they have a dictionary.

The trilogy continues with Blood Moon Rising - Review to come!

**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#Review - Armada by Ernest Cline #Young Adult #Science Fiction

Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Source: Publisher via Blogging for Books
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
ISBN 9780804137256

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure. 
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe. 
And then he sees the flying saucer. 
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.  
No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it. 
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar? 
At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Armada, by Ernest Cline, is the authors homage to all of the science fiction movies and video games that I grew up on. If you've ever watched the movie The Last Starfigther (1984), Ender's Game, or played the video game Space Invaders, which I have, then you will love this story. 18 year old Zackary Lightman loves to daydream. He loves watching science fiction movies with his best friends Cruz and Diehl, and even his mother! Even better, he is one of the top 10 pilots world wide in a game called Armada, where Zack and his friends fight against alien invaders via drones.

Little does he know that the Armada game is actually testing grounds for pilots who have the skill set necessary to actually fight against real alien invaders. *Note* This is the Last Starfighter equivalent*  This comes to light after Zack sees what appears to be a REAL alien ship doing maneuvers in his hometown. But that can't be possible since Glaive fighters are only in his favorite first-person space combat flight sim MMO Armada! Shortly thereafter, Zack is spirited away by his friend and boss Ray, and sworn in as a Lieutenant in the Earth Defense Alliance along with others from around the globe. 

According to the EDA, the aliens are in fact, real, and Zack and others are on the front lines of a battle that goes back decades. Zack is not unlike the character (Doug Masters) from Iron Eagle. He loves to play his music loudly when he is behind the controls. He is cocky, ballsy, has an attitude, and makes some pretty dumb ass mistakes which he ends up getting away with. But, he is also one of the best drone planets on the planet which gives him a bit of rope to hang himself.

So, let me say that I have not read Ready Player One, therefore there will be no comparisons made by me between the two books. Perhaps one day I will read RPO, but until then, onward and upward! Except for the ending that left me wanting to scream, some really cheesy male bonding time over stupid jokes, and wondering why Cline would end a story in that matter, the book was rather fun to read. I loved Zack's mother Pamela who is a gamer. I didn't like what they did with Zack's father. To me, and others I know, it just didn't make any sense whatsoever to twist this story in that way, and then just drop the hammer like, oh hell, no biggie!

I supposed I should talk about the itsy bitsy teeny romantic possibility that can perhaps be expanded on had the author not jumped from a major battle, into sending Zack and others to the moon, to a wild finish after Zack discovers something is absolutely not right with what is happening to him, and the others. I really LOVED Alexis (Lex) Larkin. She's a fantastic character, and the author doesn't hold her back when it comes to being an geek extraordinaire. 

Can't trust that Armada is a standalone. Sorry, I just can't. I've been burned too many times to trust that Cline won't come back and introduce the real faces of the aliens Zack meets in the book. Now that the world's eyes have been opened to new alien races, why stop here? Why not let Zack and maybe Alex go exploring as Earth Ambassadors?   

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#Review - About a Girl by Sarah McCarry (Contemporary, Mythology)

Series: Metamorphoses # 3
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Contemporary

Eighteen-year-old Tally is absolutely sure of everything: her genius, the love of her adoptive family, the loyalty of her best friend, Shane, and her future career as a Nobel prize-winning astronomer. There's no room in her tidy world for heartbreak or uncertainty—or the charismatic, troubled mother who abandoned her soon after she was born. But when a sudden discovery upends her fiercely ordered world, Tally sets out on an unexpected quest to seek out the reclusive musician who may hold the key to her past—and instead finds Maddy, an enigmatic and beautiful girl who will unlock the door to her future. The deeper she falls in love with Maddy, the more Tally begins to realize that the universe is bigger—and more complicated—than she ever imagined. Can Tally face the truth about her family—and find her way home in time to save herself from its consequences?

About a Girl is the third installment in the Metamorphoses trilogy by author Sarah McCarry. The book features 18 year old Atalanta. Tally is a bright student who wants to be an astronomer. Her ultimate goal is to study the relevance of dark energy on the solar system. When Tally was a baby, she was left on the doorstep of a couple she calls Aunt Beast, and Uncle Raoul. She's never known her mother or her father, but is given an opportunity to find out, when she travels 3,000 miles to a place that makes her lose herself. You are totally right in calling this story "Tally's Quest."

I guess I should have started with the first book in this trilogy called All Our Pretty Songs before diving into About a Girl. Apparently this entire trilogy has been based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which makes a whole lot of sense after the book goes from being a realistic contemporary love story, into a bit of a mythological Hodge podge by gosh ending. The first book featured an unknown narrator, Tally's mother Aurora, and Jack, a singer who caught both the narrator and Aurora's attention. Jack once again returns in this story, but not in any way that will make you uncomfortable.

About a Girl was completely over my head at times thanks to the protagonist truly believing that she was smarter than anyone in the room, including her best friend Shane who is a musician. She came across as arrogant, pretentious, and just not willing to give an inch to others. The romance between Tally and Maddy was intense and enjoyable. One could get lost in just that facet of the story itself without all the background nose of trying to find Tally's father, traveling 3,000 miles away only to discover things that make Tally rethink almost everything she's known about her mother and father. But, Tally's friendship and perhaps more with Shane, should have been addressed a bit more.

There is major diversity in this novel. Tally's best friend is a trans-boy (girl transitioned to boy), her "uncle" is gay and married to a Sudanese/French/American Henri. Uncle Raoul has family that still lives on the Navajo reservation. I didn't care for the nickname of Tally's Aunt. Perhaps it was a show of adoration, but calling someone Beast just doesn't seem funny to me. I truly do believe that "Beast" was the narrator of the first book, but will have to eventually go back and see if I am correct or not.

**I received this book for free from (Publisher) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Other Books in Series: