Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin #YALit #Fantasy @ryangraudin @lbkids

Series: Wolf by Wolf # 2
Format: Hardcover, 481 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Library 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

There would be blood. Blood for blood. Blood to pay. An entire world of it.
For the resistance in the Third Reich, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun. Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against Hitler’s army, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.
But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face to face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths and one question hangs over them all—how far can you go for the ones you love?

“There will be blood. There will be more than enough. The world is about to drown in it.”

Blood for Blood is the second and final installment in author Ryan Graudin's Wolf by Wolf series. Welcome to 1956 Germany, where Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich won World War II, and now control Europa, Asia, and North Africa.
Hitler has a yearly race called the Axis Tour, which travels from Germania, to Japan. It is dangerous. It is not for the faint of heart. And, people do tend to die rather gruesomely. In the end, the winner gets to meet the hated Hitler in Tokyo, and become yet another propaganda tool for the Third Reich. 

Blood for Blood picks up right where Wolf by Wolf left off. Jael Reider has done the impossible. She shot Hitler. Now, she is on the run hoping to escape those who are sure to follow her. At the same time, her resistance allies are putting into plan a brass balls mission to free people from the Third Reich's brutality. Unfortunately for her, someone saw her escape. That person is Luka Wolf. Luka ends up chasing after her, and witnessing her shocking shifting into someone else who is not Adele Wolf. The same Adele he thought he had feelings for. In a series of curiosities, Yael, and Luka are caught, and sent back to Germany along with Felix Wolfe. But, things are about ready to get very interesting so hang on tight to your seats!

In Wolf by Wolf, we met resistance fighter, and concentration camp survivor, Jael Reider. Jael is a survivor of a painful experimental procedure which gives her the ability to skinshift into other people. She can no longer separate her real face, from those she has taken up since escaping when she was 6. Jael used her ability to pose as Adele Wolf and entered the race in hopes of winning. Jael had the unfortunate bad luck of running into Adele's twin brother Felix, who refused to go home, and Luka Lowe, another previous Axis Tour winner who she couldn't shake off even with all her training, and years of preparation. 

For those of you who have not read the first book, Jael has 5 wolves tattooed on her arm. Each wolf is a representation of the person who she either lost, or who made her so much stronger. I mention this fact because these 5 wolves make her stand out from all others, even with the face of the person she is pretending to be. Which leads to another ball of wax, and a bunch of spoilers which I won't reveal. This is a tough story to rate, but I settled on what I did mainly because of Yael, and mainly because of the fact that human emotions and actions are not exactly scripted. 

Yael had to put her own heritage into hiding to ensure she wasn't taken back to the camps and killed. Her journey has been a painful one at times, especially when she is reunited with someone she truly thought was dead, and they return to the scene where Yael's life was twisted and sculptured into someone else. Yael's relationship with Luka is also an interesting one. She's a Jew who lost everything, and was saved by the resistance. He's been trying to prove to his father that he's worthy of his respect, and also has been used by Hitler's propaganda machine.

My ultimate issue lies with Felix. Poor, Felix. His actions can't be put into words. Even though I can't forgive him, I am not sure if anyone else would have managed to put on a brave face day in and day out while looking at those who respected you, and then....Graudin actually rotates her narratives between three characters. Jael, Luka, and Felix. This book is also separated by flashbacks to key moments in time for all three characters where things happen that eventually lead to all three characters to this moment in time. 

Readers can either love, or hate the ending. It is a choice of perspectives. But, I liked it because of the world these characters live in. (Don't get me wrong, there is nothing funny about how Hitler and his fanatics destroyed people's lives, and destroyed generations of families.) I liked it because Graudin doesn't hold back any punches. She puts each characters into hard situations and dares them to prove they are worthy of an encore. I liked it because even though you can most likely guess certain aspects of the story, it still kept me interested right to the very end.

Monday, January 30, 2017

#Monday Review - The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin #Urban Fantasy @LisaShearin @AceRocBooks

Series: SPI Files # 4
Format: E-Galley, 304 pages
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: ACE
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

The agents of Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) are paid to keep the peace. But that’s not so easy when an endless evil threatens to tear that peace to pieces...
A vampire gangster’s nephew is abducted off his yacht by a bunch of low-rent Creatures from the Black Lagoon. A slew of banks are knocked over by what looks like the cast of Night of the Living Dead. All of this may seem like the movies, but, I promise you, it’s not.
I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for SPI, and I know the culprits aren’t wearing disguises or makeup. They’re real. Deadly real. Especially their leader—an ancient shapeshifter who leaves a trail of chaos and blood in his wake. Now, he’s taken my partner, Ian—and his intentions aren’t pretty.
The worst part? This is only the beginning...
The beginning of the end of the human race.

The Ghoul Vendetta is the fourth installment in author Lisa Shearin's SPI Files. This is a series that features Makenna (Mac) Fraser as a Seer who works for the Supernatural Protection & Investigation. SPI keeps the peace between the supernatural races, while also keeping the human race from discovering that others live among them. Mac has come a long way from the first novella, to this book. She's grown not only in the way she handles things, but in other aspects of her life as well. One being her ability to see portals, which has been a handy dandy tool over the last few books.

As the curtain opens on our heroine, Mac is on a date with the devilishly handsome and dangerous goblin Rake Danescu who has focused his attention solely on Mac and making her fall for him. Things move forward rather quickly in this story. The yacht that Mac and Rake are on is attacked by creatures from the Black Lagoon and a freaking Kraken! But, to make things even more twisted, a vampire they were keeping an eye on, is kidnapped by the creatures. Why take the vampire? Who were these creatures, and who knew that they lived in the rivers surrounding NYC? 

Oh my word what an opening! A lot of the story focuses on Ian, his background, his heritage, and his adversary now calling himself Jonas. If you haven't read the previous novels, you definitely should! I'll just say that Ian and Jonas have a relationship that goes back to his days as a NYPD police officer. Ian wants his revenge, Jonas, the most dangerous villain this series has seen, has a few secrets all his own on why he focuses so much time and effort on Ian. Then there are the bank robberies, and what the thieves are actually taking. Mac and crew have to go it alone after Ian is ambushed, & taken by Jonas and his friends called the Fomorians.

Mac must put her own emotions aside in a safe place until Ian is returned. Mac has a tendency of landing in the middle of the next big crisis, but still lands on her feet thanks to those who protect her like Ian, like Yasha, like her bosses Alain & Vivienne, and now by Rake. She also has a cast of friends, and co-workers who back her up when things are at their darkest. As one of a rare breed of Seers who works for SPI, Mac's life is constantly on the line. There are those who would do anything to see Mac dead before she can ruin their diabolical plans. Mac isn't a heroine who has amazing kick ass characteristics at her beck and call. She uses her own imagination, and her own courage to survive to fight the good fight. 

There is an interesting aspect to this story that really boggled my mind. But, in a good way. Mac & Rake make for an interesting coupling. Especially since she's never quite trusted him fully. Ok, so he's chased after her. He's made some serious inquiries about Mac working for him. He's a dangerous black mage who has his own agendas. He's hated by Ian, and most of SPI, but trusted by Dragon boss Vivienne. But, this romance goes to a whole new level thanks to Rake's actions and Mac's heart finally opening to the possibilities of a relationship. It's not the only curious romance. Not when Ian has his own burgeoning romance with Kylie O'Hara that readers will be curious about. I wasn't sure where the author was going to go with the romance angle, and I'm not sure this is where the romance will actually end, but either way, I'm good.

The Ghoul Vendetta is an action packed story filled with Goblins, Dragons, Vampires, Werewolves, Water Spirits, Mermaids, (we actually meet the mermaid Queen), Kaiju, Fomorians aka Creatures from the Black Lagoon, and Tuatha Dé Danann warriors who make a brilliant and timely and brief appearance. I think the most interesting tell of this story is the ending. Where the author goes from here, should be rather interesting. Especially since this book took things to an entirely new level. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed & Bagged # 48

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Bought Borrowed and Bagged is all about the latest additions to your library – virtual or actual, with books that are  bought, borrowed, won or ARCs  you will be reading soon. Bought Borrowed and Bagged is a homage to to Barron’s Books and Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s amazing Fever series, and is hosted by Braine over at Talk Supe. 

Thanks for Shopping by!

Hello everyone! Only 4 books this week! WOOT! I'm totally down with that since my reading is going to take a back seat next week. Why? Well, let's just say that my mom has to fly down from NY to FL to be here when I go under the knife to fix a ruptured hernia. If you believe in prayers, I could definitely use a bit of help. Thanks!

Quote of the Week:
You can never visit the same place twice. Each time, it’s a different story. By the very act of coming back, you wipe out what came before.
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Tuesday - Gabriel by Nikki Kelly (YA, Paranormal)

Wednesday - Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes (YA, Fantasy)

Friday - Priceless by Shannon Mayer (Urban Fantasy)

Saturday - Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder (Fantasy)

*Received from NetGalley, Borrowed from Library*


Friday, January 27, 2017

#Saturday Review - Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder #Fantasy @HarlequinBooks

Series: Soulfinder # 3
Format: E-Galley, 384 pages
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Fantasy

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.
Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person's resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.
With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.

Dawn Study, by author Maria V. Snyder, is the third & final installment in the Soulfinder series, sixth installment in the Study series, and Ninth installment in the Chronicles of Ixia series. Confused yet? Don't be! Thanks to the authors web page, I was able to produce a handy dandy list of books you should read, and of course, it's all in order! Check it out at the end of this review! 

When last we left Yelena Zaltana, her magic had been restrained, she found out she was pregnant, and oh yes, there is a whole ton of crap that needs to be addressed like the fact there is an assassin, nicknamed the Mosquito, who has desires to kill Yelena while collecting on a rather high bounty. Oh, let's not forget that the two kingdoms of Sitia and Ixia are facing a war thanks to Owen Moon, Bruns Jewelrose & the Cartel who have produced enough theobroma to overwhelm the Ixia council and almost every other high ranking Ixian. 

Easy Peasy, right? Yeah, no. There hasn't been anything easy about Yelena's life since she was kidnapped and taken to Sitia. From being a food tester for the Commander, to falling for Valek, to learning that she has Soulfinder magic, to being liaison between Ixia & Sitia, her life has been anything but easy. Yelena is a character I have loved from the very beginning of this series because of her strength, and her ability to weave her own way. Her relationship with Valek has been by far the most interesting coupling in a fantasy setting. Both are powerful in their own way, and one can only imagine how much power their child will have in the future.

In the meanwhile, Valek has had a fleeting look at his future in the eyes of Onora who was sent to kill him & take his place as Commander's head of security. His relationship with the Commander has taken a dangerous turn of events, and he needs to try to fix it before he designs any thoughts of retiring and settling down with Yelena & their baby. Valek & Yelena's survival will depend on a whole lot of skill, and friends like Janco, Ari, Leif, Maria, Fisk, Opal, Devlin & yes even Onora who has become part of Yelena's extended family in just a short time.

Dawn Study is a story that weaves its way through the narratives of Yelena's, Valek's, Leif, & Janco's. There is a point of having too many narratives, but Snyder almost has to have these narratives so that you can see what is happening to not only the other characters, but to the world which hovers on the brink of war. I loved others characters like Zohan, Zethan, Teegan, Kade, Heli, Reema, & how strong Leif's wife Maria becomes after surviving this brutal world in tact. I know this is the finale, but I would be absolutely fine with a novel featuring Teegan or Reema, or yes, even Onora who has some pretty cool abilities of her own.

In the end, Dawn Study focuses on how strong the relationship between Yelena and Valek has become. I loved that they spend more time together than in previous installments. That was my minor issue with the previous installments that they spent too much time away. Problem solved.

Books to read in order: 
  • POISON STUDY (Chapter 1 from Valek's POV - read it HERE)
  • ASSASSIN STUDY (short story - read it HERE)
  • POWER STUDY (short story - read it HERE)
  • ICE STUDY (short story - read it HERE)
  • SHATTERED GLASS (eNovella - read an excerpt HERE)

#Friday Review - Priceless by Shannon Mayer #Urban Fantasy @TheShannonMayer

Series: Rylee Adamson # 1
Format: Kindle, 269 pages
Release Date: June 2013
Publisher: HiJinks Ink Publishing
Source: Own
Genre: Urban Fantasy

“My name is Rylee and I am a Tracker.” 
When children go missing, and the Humans have no leads, I’m the one they call. I am their last hope in bringing home the lost ones. I salvage what they cannot.
I’m on the FBI’s wanted list. 
I have a werewolf for a pet, a Witch of a best friend, and have no need for anyone else in my life. 
But when a salvage starts to spin out of control, help comes from a most unexpected direction. One that is dangerously dark, brooding, and doesn’t know a thing about the supernatural. 
One whose kisses set me on fire.

Priceless is the first installment in author Shannon Meyer's Rylee Adamson series. This story is set mostly in North Dakota, although there is a fair amount of time spent in New Mexico as well. In the series opener, Meyer's introduces readers to Rylee Adamson, a heroine who has a reputation for being stubborn as they come, but has never quit a job once she starts it. She is a person who is able to locate a child no matter how close, or far away they have been taken. Rylee has been searching for kids for 10 years. She has good reason behind her job.

Her own sister Berget went missing when she was 16, and Rylee hasn't been able to find her. Her one major kink in an otherwise unblemished record of successes. As a result of her sister disappearing, Rylee is being hounded by FBI Agent Liam O'Shea. O'Shea would cut his own wrist if he could put Rylee away for the crime that he believes she committed and walked away from. Rylee also has an interesting group of friends. She has a werewolf, Alex, who can't switch to human. Milly, a witch who uses her body, but has some huge issues that I won't spoil. And, Giselle, her mentor who is slowly losing her faculties.  

In Priceless, Rylee takes a job finding a young girl by the name of India who has been missing for 6 months. Her parents are out of patience with the authorities, and Rylee may be their last hope of finding her. India was taken from the same exact park that her own sister Berget disappeared from. Coincidence? Don't believe in. There is always a reason for everything that happens. Rylee made an oath that basically said that she wouldn't refuse any cases dealing with children. 

Rylee's journey to finding India leads her to dangerous witches, and an even more mysterious man who is perhaps a little too intrigued by Rylee. I absolutely loved this first installment. I loved Rylee's mission. I loved seeing the new world that Shannon Meyer has created with Harpies, werewolves, vampires, witches, Ogres, & unicorns. Oh yes, there are unicorns in this story. I loved Dox, who Rylee calls on while in New Mexico. Ah, but let me now forget about the Arcane Division which makes its presence felt in a big way.

What part they will play from here on out is one that I am looking forward to seeing play out. Did someone ask about the romance? We shall see. Since I am coming late to this series, and the series has since completed its run, I will need to pace myself from here on out. I'm also curious about Rylee's blood that seems to be honey to certain individuals. Guess I have a long way to go! 

I was kind of scared, to be honest, to start this series when I heard it was being compared to Anita Blake. Yes, I did read and enjoy the first 6-7 installments in that series by that author. However, after book 7, I totally gave up on it. I dare hope that this series remains true to what Shannon has laid out for new readers like me.

PS - If you have a Kindle, and have books 3 thru 10 you can loan me, please let me know! I'd love to finish reading this series since the library won't purchase it for me.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

#Thursday Review - Black Widow: Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl #Fantasy #Comics #Superheroes

Series: Black Widow # 2
Format: Hardcover, 438 pages
Release Date: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Marvel Press
Source: Library
Genre: Comics - Superheroes

The Avengers’ iconic master spy is back, and she’s seeing red.
Emotions are dangerous, which is why the graduates of Moscow’s famed spy school the Red Room are taught to keep their enemies close and their loved ones at a distance. Black Widow and Red Widow, also known as Natasha Romanov and Ava Orlova, forgot that lesson once, and they won’t forget it again.
But the Widows have inherited something else from their shared Moscow past: a relentless need for vengeance—Ivan Somodorov is dead, but his network of terror remains.
While the Widows search South America in order to extinguish a smuggling operation with ties to their old nemesis, their own Red Room not only attempts to assassinate them both but also hacks their secure S.H.I.E.L.D. network. As a result, Ava and Natasha find themselves thrust into a trying mission of international intrigue that takes them throughout the world and back to New York City, where their friends Dante and Sana become unlikely targets as well.
Once again, nothing is as it seems, no one can be trusted, and no one is safe—not unless the Widows can stop a conspiracy involving stolen nuclear warheads, mind-altering chemical weapons, and ultimately, betrayal by old friends and enemies alike. 

Red Vengeance is the second installment in author Margaret Stohl's Black Widow series. The last we saw of Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, and her new partner Ava Orlova aka Red Widow, they had both lost someone, Alexei, that they each loved. Now they seek vengeance on those responsible for his death, and if in the process they take down anyone else who had anything to do with his death, more's the pity. But, who could stand toe to toe with the mighty Black Widow and not blink? 

Ava. who has some crazy abilities that are sure to please readers and comic book fans alike, has now become the newest SHIELD candidate. But, with her partnering with the infamous Black Widow, anything is sure to happen and usually does. Natasha and Ava relocate to South America where they not only try to take a bit of Rest and Relaxation, but also understand the new link that came about from the previous mission.

Natasha is targeted by an unknown nemesis, and Ava is along for the ride since she is still a heroine in training. Stohl not only has Agent Coulson along for the ride, but Tony Stark & Maria Hill also make appearances. But, the most interesting and eye opening addition to this series is Captain Marvel. If you don't know who Captain Marvel is, or why her presence makes this story so fun to read about, do yourself a favor that research her name. She hasn't been in any previous Marvel movies yet, but no worries. Her time will be upon us sooner than you think.

Red Vengeance is a story that is pure fun, but leaves a serious burn at the end of the story. The story is alternatively told in after-action reports, and narratives from both primary characters Natasha and Ava. The after action reports are pure Marvel, pure Coulson, and gives you hints about what makes the Black Widow such a badass. We are also introduced to several other characters who play important roles. Will be interesting to see if they appear again in the third installment?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

#Wednesday Review - Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Falling Kingdoms # 5
Format: Hardcover, 379 pages
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

The ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.
In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.
Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.
The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.

Crystal Storm is the fifth installment in author Morgan Rhodes' Falling Kingdom's series. Crystal Storm picks up right where Frozen Tides left off.  Rhodes uses her four main characters to twist a story of manipulation, power, magic  & secrets, while leaving readers with an ending that crushed my soul into several thousand pieces. Magnus, Cleo, Lucia, and Jonas are once again put to the ultimate test of courage, strength & loyalty that will both bring them together to fight the newest threat to their kingdoms, while shattering all of my expectations as to where this series will finally end.

I have to start by talking about the villain of the story, one Empress Amara of Kraeshia, who has taken over the entirety of Mytica, while also desiring more power by uniting the 4 orbs containing powerful elementals. She has let nothing, not even her own family, including her brother Asher, stand in her way. She's laughed at King Gaius, while also taking his hand in marriage. Amara is destined to be a thorn in everyone's side no matter how long she survives. Amara, though, is not unlike Lucia in that when she is offered something so much more, she grabs it by the balls, and could care less what the consequences might bring.

My struggle with Magnus continues. He's broody, impatient, intolerant of others, & prone to violence. He lashes out, when he should be standing alongside those he needs, especially Cleo. But, at this point in the series, there is absolutely no turning back. Magnus shows so much promise if he would just stop drowning his frustrations in wine, and stand up and become the character we've seen from time to time. I've decided to ignore a bunch of stuff because of who his father and grandmother are, and just move forward and see if his relationship with Cleo survives. Will Magnus stand up and deliver one more time and save the one's he loves, or will he melt like the ice under intense heat?

Cleo is a deceptive character who desires one thing; her kingdom free from any outside influences. Cleo's discover that she is cursed, is a curious avenue to take at this point in the series. Not a bad thing mind you. Just didn't see that coming. Cleo's actions, and ultimate fate, are still tied to Magnus in my view. Cleo and Magnus romance has actually see-sawed so much, that I now have whiplash as a result. She, I think, truly loves him no matter how much he pisses her off, but he still stands in the way of freedom for Auranos. Did Cleo become even more interesting by the end of this story? Holy hell, yes!

Lucia is alone after what she and Kyan did in the past installments. Pretty much everyone hates her. Too bad that there are still those who need her. Lucia takes a trip to speak to Timotheus to try to find a way to contain Kyan who is still alive despite her own actions. Lucia knows that she needs to make up for a ton of mistakes after she chose to fall for a deceptive character with a major agenda. With her not so secretive pregnancy, and her supposed prophecy hanging in the balance, it will be curious to watch what happens in the next installment. 

Jonas, poor Jonas. He just can't seem to catch a break. Except that he has become a bit more intriguing with the fact that he had experiences with both Olivia, and Phaedra who seem to have left Jonas a bit more than just a rebel who has lost nearly everything in fighting against Gaius, and now Amara. I want to give Jonas a break due to his baggage. I really do. I want to see him step up in the final installment, and whether it happens or not, I'd like to see him come out on top with a future he can believe in.

Crystal Storm is the perfect title for this story. There is a major storm cloud hanging over every since one of these characters. What's coming over the horizon in the final installment in the series called Immortal Reign, should have readers encouraged that Rhodes will impress once again.   

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#Tuesday Review - Gabriel by Nikki Kelly #YALit #Paranormal @Styclar @FeiwelFriends

Series: The Styclar Saga # 2
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Library 
Genre: YA, Paranormal

The handsome Angel from Lailah gets center stage in this continuation of Wattpad sensation Nikki Kelly’s romantic and action-packed series about mortals, vampires, and angels.
Gabriel is an Angel Descendant. He's also an ally to a generation of vampires who want to break away from the demon who controls them. His faith in the power of good over evil wavers, however, when he discovers that Lailah, the woman he considers his only true love, may be both angel and demon. Is their love enough to overcome the dark forces who are ready to go to war with Gabriel, the vampire Jonah, and the angel and vampire forces? And can Gabriel compete with Jonah, who is also in love with Lailah?
Once again, Nikki Kelly looks deeply into the heart and soul of good and evil to create a romantic, action-packed reading adventure.

Gabriel is the second installment in author Nikki Kelly's The Styclar Saga. As one would imagine, it took me awhile to get back into this series since it has been a year and a half since I read Lailah. Lots of books have come and gone during that wait. I had to remind myself how the first installment, Lailah, ended, and what one of my major hurdles was in loving the first book. Had to remind myself that Lailah is a character who isn't who she seems. She is much, much more. She doesn't age like others. She doesn't permanently die like others. And, she has a tendency of losing her memories. 

As with the previous installment, the author starts off the story with a prologue that introduces a new group of characters, plus one who has her own story to tell. This new group is given a new mission thanks to this mysterious woman. They must find Lailah and save her from herself before it is too late. Meanwhile, Lailah has been "resurrected" and has inherited her immortal lineage. She is both light and dark now, which means that the author once again tests the boundaries of what makes a person good or evil, or whether a person can actually be good and evil at the same time. 

Since Lailah is both Angel & Vampire, it is something she struggles with and puts a strain on her relationship with Gabriel who doesn't even want to broach the subject of her vampire aka dark side. They are soul mates. That particular side doesn't need to be part of her if she just ignores what her body needs. Lailah is both good and evil just by being half-vampire, and half-angel. The other issue she has is remembering who Jonah is. She remembers clearly Gabriel and her past with him, but the dark, handsome, stoic vampire is just out of reach of her memories. 

Even though the books title is Gabriel, the narrative is still Lailah's to tell. I would have liked to see chapters dedicated to Gabriel's narrative, especially since he has a bunch of issues of his own, and makes a drastic call that I have now predicted how the series will end. Jonah, on the other hand, is in a world of hurt. How can the girl he loves not remember him? How can she focus solely on the light side of her being, and ignore the part that makes her dangerous and a weapon in the war between Vampires and Angels? But, Jonah isn't innocent either. He does some things that I would not agree with, but that is who he really is after all. 

Unfortunately, this story ends on a highfalutin cliff hanger which will lead directly into the final installment in the series obviously named Jonah. Since the publisher was nice enough to approve me via NetGalley, I shall be reading the sequel shortly! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

#Monday Review - The Blockade by Jean Johnson #Science Fiction @AceRocBooks

Series: First Salik War # 3
Format: E-Galley, 416 pages
Release Date: November 29th 2016
Publisher: ACE
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Science Fiction

The First Salik War is underway, and the Alliance is losing—their newest allies must find a way to win, or everyone will be slaughtered.  Though committed to helping their V’Dan cousins, the Terrans resent how their allies treat them. The V’Dan in turn feel the Terrans are too unseasoned to act independently. And the other nations fear that ending the Salik War means starting a Human Civil War.   Even as Imperial Prince Li’eth and Ambassador Jackie MacKenzie struggle to get their peoples to cooperate, they still face an ethical dilemma: How do you stop a ruthless, advanced nation from attacking again and again without slaughtering them in turn?

The Blockade is the third and final installment in author Jean Johnson's First Salik War trilogy. If you are new to the series, let me summarize where we stand. The first thing you need to know is that this series takes place 200 years before the authors Theirs Not To Reason Why series. If you've read that series, you can immediately jump into this series since it's the beginning of how things will eventually shape up in Theirs No to Reason Why

Jacaranda (Jackie) MacKenzie is one of two main characters along with Li'Eth. Jackie is a very powerful psychic who served with honesty, and integrity over her military and political career. In Terrans, Jackie was called back to military service by the United Planets because precogs saw her meeting new races of aliens. She was given bumps in rank, and took up the mantle of Ambassador of the Terran United Planets. As with Star Trek, United Planets takes seriously their role in First Contact with new aliens. Which leads to Jackie and her crew meeting the vile Salik who love to eat people alive, and a human race called the V'Dan lead by Crown Prince Li'eth Ma'an-uq'en who they rescue and take back to earth. 

In book # 2, The V'Dan, huge issues flared up between the humans and the V'Dan over the fact that humans have given up completely identity politics to identity a person. The V'Dan believe humans are children because they don't have the same markings, which set Jackie off on repairing damage that could have led to catastrophe. As the end of the book, the hated Salik attacked the V'Dan home world, and casualties
rose quickly. Jackie and her Gestalt partner Li'eth saved the day. (Gestalt means rare quantum entanglement of psychic minds.) But, that doesn't stop his sister Princess Vi'alla from being ungrateful and churlish to the point where Jackie makes a powerful decision to shut down the Embassy and have no further contact with the V'Dan or Alliance. As if that weren't bad enough, Li'Eth finds himself sent away from Jackie which is not a good thing.

The Blockade picks up right where The V'Dan left off. The story is filled with politics, and a plethora of details that perhaps could have been cut back a bit. It is a book that weaves back and forth between Jackie and Li'Eth as they both try to cobble up an alliance with, yes, the Alliance of different alien species in order to fight off the Salik. Is there action? Is there adventure? Is there romance? Yes to all three. Does the author explain how she gets from this series to the Theirs No to Reason Why? AbsolutelyI have to say that I respect the V'Dan Empress, aka Li'Eth's mother. She sees a good thing by helping the Motherworld humans, and in return, see's a solid investment in having humans colonize various planets and bringing more commerce to their world.

She also slowly understands how important the Gestalt link between Jackie and her son really is, and that if they are separated, they could both die. She is really the third most important character in this book next to Jackie & Li'Eth when all is said and done. This story is filled with secondary characters that either play important roles, or are just there to make the story more militaristic in nature. After all, you can't fight a war without generals, admirals, soldiers, sailors, and marines on the front lines. I loved how strong Jackie was throughout this entire series, and I loved her decision at the end of the book. I dare say that her choice took a whole lot of courage. 

Would I read Theirs No to Reason Why after reading this trilogy? Yes I would and the reason is simple. The Alliance plus Earth made a huge choice at the end of this book in regards to the Salik. I would like to know what happens after 200 years of a Blockade, and the characters that are expected to pick up the pieces left a very long time ago by Jackie, Li'Eth, and their allies.