Tuesday, February 28, 2017

#Review - Ones and Zeroes by Dan Wells #YALit #Science Fiction @TheDanWells @BalzerandBray

Series: MIrador # 2
Format: E-Galley, 416 pages
Release Date: February 14th 2017 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
Genre: YA, Science Fiction

From Dan Wells, author of the New York Times bestselling Partials Sequence, comes Ones and Zeroes, the second book in the sci-fi noir series set in 2050 Los Angeles that began with the acclaimed novel Bluescreen.

Overworld. It’s more than just the world’s most popular e-sport—for thousands of VR teams around the globe, Overworld is life. It means fame and fortune, or maybe it’s a ticket out of obscurity or poverty. If you have a connection to the internet and four friends you trust with your life, anything is possible.

Marisa Carneseca is on the hunt for a mysterious hacker named Grendel when she receives word that her amateur Overworld team has been invited to Forward Motion, one of the most exclusive tournaments of the year. For Marisa, this could mean everything—a chance to finally go pro and to help her family, stuck in an LA neighborhood on the wrong side of the growing divide between the rich and the poor. But Forward Motion turns out to be more than it seems—rife with corruption, infighting, and danger—and Marisa runs headlong into Alain Bensoussan, a beautiful, dangerous underground freedom fighter who reveals to her the darker side of the forces behind the tournament. It soon becomes clear that, in this game, winning might be the only way to get out alive.

Dan Wells returns to the dark, perilous world of 2050 Los Angeles with another pulse-pounding story of betrayal, mystery, and suspense set in a stunning tech-noir landscape.

Ones and Zeroes is the second installment in author Dan Wells Mirador trilogy. It is a series that is set in 2050 Los Angeles. It is a world where 17-year old Marisa Carneseca lives in a neighborhood called Mirador with her parents, and siblings. Marisa, like the rest of this world, has a djinni super-computer implanted in her brain. They have access to unlimited technology and information. She is also a member of a group of (5) girls called Cherry Dogs who play a virtual reality game called Overworld. 

Along with Marisa, there's Sahara Cowan, & Anja Litz who all live in LA. 15-year old Wong Fang hails from China, while 22 year old Jaya is from India. Marisa is on a mission. She wants to find out what happened to her years ago that cost her an arm that is now completely mechanical. Her father refuses to talk about it which just pushes Marisa into learning the truth without any help. There's one person who may have the information she needs, but that person is as elusive as an honest politician in Washington, D.C. Grendel claims he has the information that she needs. Grendel is a hacker from the darkest corners of the net who Marisa bumped into in the last installment. 

The only problem is that the information is kept at a secure location. Then fate seems to toss Marisa a bone. Her friend Anja gets the Cherry Dogs into an exclusive event called Forward Motion. Forward Motion is a charity event that lures the best players in the world to one place. This year, that place is Los Angeles. Which means for the first time, all five Cherry Dogs will be in the same place together. But, there's a catch. Marisa and her teammates will have to risk life and limb not only to access dark secrets within a powerful organization, but somehow manage to survive, advance, and win the tournament to get the information they need.

There are more than a few distractions to keep Marisa and her friends occupied. It is a world of have and have nots. The Carneseca's run restaurant called San Juanito, but the business is slowly creeping towards having to close down due to corporate greed, & customers having to give up everything just to survive. Then there is the terminator like freak show called Mr. Park who is nearly unstoppable. He is like Arnold's character in that he keeps coming back. Add to the mix the dynamic Alain Bensoussan who makes Marisa's heart pump with desire, and the fact that he has his own unique reasons for going after the dirty rotten stinking corporations, and you have an action packed adventure sure to please.

Monday, February 27, 2017

#Review - Midnight Curse (Disrupted Magic #1) by @MelissaFOlson (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Disrupted Magic # 1
Format: E-Galley, 294 pages
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: 47North
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Scarlett Bernard is used to cleaning up messes. As a human who cancels out any magic around her, Scarlett’s job is to keep the supernatural world hidden—at any cost.
On the eve of the Vampire Trials, a two-day tribunal that allows the otherworldly community to air their grievances, Scarlett receives a blood-soaked message from Molly, her estranged former roommate. Molly, a vampire, had been living with twelve human college students…and in one terrible night, she slaughtered them all.
Scarlett believes Molly’s been set up, but no one else in the Old World agrees with her. And the true perpetrator is determined to make sure Molly goes on trial for the massacre—the penalty for which is death.With less than two days to prove her friend’s innocence, Scarlett calls on former LAPD detective Jesse Cruz to help her dig into Molly’s past. But no one—Molly included—wants Scarlett and Jesse to bring the terrible truth to light.

Midnight Curse is the first installment in author Melissa F. Olson's Disrupted Magic series. However, it is also book # 4 in the Scarlett Bernard series, and book # 10 in what's being called the Old World Chronicles. Other books in this series features Allison "Lex" Luther's Boundary Magic trilogy. I mentioned Lex, because she makes a brief but all important stop during this story. More later. Recently, thanks to Amazon, I purchased the first (3) books in Scarlett's series and will attempt to go back to the beginning and see how it all began.

Olson, who has quickly become a favorite author of mine, does a fantastic job of summarizing previous important parts of the Scarlett's series. Like the fact that she is a part time janitor, part time protector of the Old World. Like the fact that part of her job is to ensure the Old Word doesn't bleed into the human world. Like the fact that she answers to Vampire Cardinal Dashiell and has made great strides in the past 3 years to become relevant. Like the fact that she has the ugliest dog in the world who she calls Shadow. Shadow was spelled by some really evil witches, and loves to hunt down & kill werewolves.

As a Null, she negates supernatural powers and abilities within the area around her. In her 3 years as part of the Old World, she has managed to become partner and has been accepted by more than those who hate her. This is an important return to Scarlett's series. Scarlett will find herself tested in ways that she hasn't been in  along time. She will find her relationship with her werewolf boyfriend Eli tested. She will have to push herself to the limits in order to save another one of her former's. Her former roommate & vampire Molly who has been accused of killing a dozen of her human roommates.

This is a bad time for Molly's situation to rise up. It is the Vampire Trial's which hasn't been seen in LA in 6 years. It is a 2 night event where the Old World gets together to air out grievances against other Old World members. Besides Dashiell, the others that make up the council are Kirsten, leader of the witches, and Will, Alpha of the Werewolves. This story also marks the return of Scarlett's former partner & former LA Detective Jesse Cruz who had his eyes opened wide in Dead Spots.  Jesse is the right person, at the right time for Scarlett to understand that what she does is important, and she's really good at it.

I've only briefly met Jesse Cruz, and that was when Lex came to LA in search for the person who was responsible for killing her sister. Something that Scarlett knows all too well about what really happened. In fact, Scarlett's relationship with Lex isn't one of hugs and feelings. It is one of bitter resentment and understanding that Scarlett didn't really have a choice in what she did. I am happy on one issue. That the bitterness between the two characters has been pushed aside for the sake of finding out who is out to destroy Molly. I look forward to seeing more of Lex either in this series, or in her own series. Make it so Ms Olson! 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 52

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!

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken (YA, SyFy)

Tuesday - The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan (YA, Fantasy)

Thursday - Jonah by Nikki Kelly (YA, Paranormal)

Friday - Gilded Cage by Vic James (YA, Dystopian)

*Received from Edelweiss & NetGalley*


Friday, February 24, 2017

#Saturday Review - The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig #YALit, #Science Fiction @heidiheilig @GreenwillowBook

Series: The Girl from Everywhere # 2
Format: E-Galley, 464 pages
Release Date: February 28th 2017 
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: YA, Science Fiction

The breathtaking sequel to the acclaimed The Girl from Everywhere. Nix has escaped her past, but when the person she loves most is at risk, even the daughter of a time traveler may not be able to outrun her fate—no matter where she goes. Fans of Rae Carson, Alexandra Bracken, and Outlander will fall hard for Heidi Heilig’s sweeping fantasy.
Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father? 
Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices. Heidi Heilig weaves fantasy, history, and romance together to tackle questions of free will, fate, and what it means to love another person. But at the center of this adventure are the extraordinary, multifaceted, and multicultural characters that leap off the page, and an intricate, recognizable world that has no bounds. The sequel—and conclusion—to the indie darling The Girl from Everywhere will be devoured by fans of Rachel Hartman and Maggie Stiefvater. Includes black-and-white maps.

"I have lived on the tip of insanity, Wanting to know reasons, Knocking on a door. It opens. I've been knocking from the inside!'

The Ship Beyond Time is the second and final installment in author Heidi Heilig's The Girl From Everywhere duology. Readers who read the first book, will once again find themselves right back where the previous installment ended. It is December 1884, protagonist Nix Song, and the crew of the Temptation is leaving Hawaii in a hurry thanks to the events of the previous novel. Alongside Nix are her father Slade who has vowed to give up his addicted, Kashmir (Kash) her best friend & romantic interest, Rotgut, Bee, & Billie the dog. One thing has changed, and this change is a huge one.

Nix has chosen to take the helm of the ship thanks to the status of Slade. This change comes with lots of peril, lots of feelings, and a period that sees Nix grow into both Captain and Navigator of the Temptation. This book is about possibilities. It is filled with action, and adventure, and traveling through time and mythology using maps. It is a story about Nix's ability to guide an entire ship through the Margins and arrive at different locations, like present time NYC. Pay close attention while in the Margins though. You never know what might reach up and grab you.

Also aboard the Temptation is Blake Hart who made a difficult choice in the previous book, and now has no real place to go. He also makes a hard choice in this book, but I can't, nor won't speak on it at all. I won't say that Blake is a challenge to Nix's love for Kash. I will say that Blake is a character who sees things differently because he hasn't been on the the adventures the rest of the crew has. He is also a decent cartographer which comes in handy. 

When Nix is approached by the mysterious Donald Crowhurst, she becomes intrigued about the possibilities of changing history and certain events and yet another adventure to a mythological place that shouldn't exist. With her father's fate pretty much written in stone, it will be up to Nix to see if she can save her own fate and her own love before something goes wrong. Nix takes the crew to a place called Ker-Ys. It is here that the crew is reunited with a former mate of theirs named Gwenole. I liked Gwen. She's brash, she bold, she's a Captain of her own ship, and someone who Nix isn't afraid of. 

There is a curiosity in this book as well. A curiosity I quite liked. We get a few chapters from the perspective of Kash, and I am grateful for that. I like having a different view of what is happening to Nix and the crew through his eyes. Nix has been warned that she will lose the one she loves, and to say that her fate isn't challenged, would be silly. Slade suffered through the same loss with Nix's own mother Lin who she never got a chance to meet. This story once again blends real world with things only found in books. I am quite devastated to learn that this is the final book in the series. Especially after the ending. I did hope that I was seeing things and that Heilig will write another adventure. There is infinite possibilities of where she could go with another story. 

A side note; I received this from the publisher via Edelweiss. There is a huge part of this story missing from the ARC. The story would have been more interesting and fun had the publisher actually offered early reviewers copy of the maps that are supposed to be included, or, for that matter, if we could go to the author's web page and find them there.  I would request that the author offer said maps on her web page as well. 

#Friday Review - Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James #YALit #Science Fiction

Series: Dark Gifts #1
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Genre: YA, Dystopian

The world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. 
A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price? 
A boy dreams of revolution.
Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. 
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.
He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

"Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved." 

Gilded Cage is the first installment in author Victoria "Vic" James' Dark Gifts trilogy. Welcome to the world of the Equals. Equals are those who were born with Skills that makes them superior to normal humans. Skills are an ability, origin, unknown, manifesting in a very small fraction of the population & passed down thru bloodlines. Some skills are universal like restoration, healing, alteration, persuasion, perception, and infliction. Whatever the Skill a person has, they dominate life in England and elsewhere. They even have their own parliament called the House of Light.

Then there is everyone else. Those who are required to serve (10) years of their lives as a slave in a location mostly chosen by the Labor Allocation Bureau. You can’t be a full citizen until your slave-days are completed. You can’t travel, or find a decent job, or even own your own home until your days are over. Slaves live in places like Millmoor. It is there where readers learn the real differences between those who have, and those who have not. 

Gilded Cage revolves around several key players; Luke Hadley, his sister Abigail, Silyen Jarden, Bouda Matravers & Gavar Jardine. Outside of England, each country has its own separate rules when it comes too Skilled & Unskilled. I can say that according to this world, the United States is divided into two separate countries as it was during the Civil War. The Union States of America, which considers Skilled to be enemies of the State and bars them from entering, and Confederate States where Skilled live as they do in England. France is place where people rose up against the skilled and slaughtered them.

It is here where 16-year old Luke Hadley finds his own voice, his own friends, and ends up being one my favorite character. Luke meets a young girl named Renie, Doc Jackson, Hilda, Tilda, Asif, Oswald, and Jessica who do things that agitate those in charge of Millmoor.  where one of our key players is sent after his own family is sent to slave for an aristocrat family named Jardine.

I have focused most of my time with Luke & Silyen because they are the most interesting. Silyen, for instance, is absolutely the most curious, and fascinating character in the entire book. He is powerful, scary, and may hold the answer to a whole lot of twists, and political shenanigans that take place over the course of this story. Silyen is not one to be messed with either. The fact his own brother is afraid he’s up to something that may lead to unknown changes, should say a lot. 

After he is labeled as a surplus, 16-year old Luke Hadley is taken away from his family and brought to Millmoor. As an unqualified male, he is forced to work in hot, dangerous places where the likelihood of your survival is bleak. It is here where he finds his own voice, his own friends, and ends up being one my favorite character. Luke meets a young girl named Renie, Doc Jackson, Hilda, Tilda, Asif, Oswald, and Jessica who do things like grant wishes that agitate those in charge of Millmoor. Millmoor fundamentally changes Luke. As I said, Luke is my favorite because he gets the rawest of the deals from start to finish. 

I have a whole lot of uneasy feelings for Abigail Hadley, the oldest daughter and the one with the supposed bright future who puts her medical school education on hold so that she and her family can serve their days together. It is Abigail who encourages her whole family to apply to serve under at Kyneston, the home of the Jardine’s. Yet, it is not really up to her where anyone ends up, which leads to Luke going to Millmoor. Abigail becomes enamored with Jenner Jardine who has no Skills of his own. A rarity in Equal families. Abigail's choices definitely deserve scrutiny whether she meant well, or not. Her final choice has solidified my desire to see what happens next to her, Luke, and Silyen. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

#Thursday Review - Jonah (The Styclar Saga #3) by Nikki Kelly #YALit #Paranormal @Styclar @FeiwelFriends

Series: The Styclar Sage # 3
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Jonah is the Vampire who saved Lailah from the appetites of an even darker evil: the Vampire Purebloods.
But to save Jonah, Lailah had to strike a deal with the universe―her existence for his. Now lost to the third dimension, Jonah must find her, before it’s too late. Back on Earth, forces from all the worlds prepare for the last battle…

Where Heaven meets Hell, Lailah must make a final stand, and an impossible choice―Gabriel, or Jonah?
An emotional roller coaster full of twists and turns, once again readers should expect the unexpected with the stunning conclusion to the Styclar Saga.

Jonah is the third and final installment in author Nikki Kelly's The Styclar Saga. Readers will find themselves right back to where Gabriel left off. Lailah made a deal with the universe to reverse time in exchange for saving Jonah's life. Now, it is time to find a way to destroy the third dimension and Styclar Pena. The Third Dimension is where Purebloods come from, better known in this world as Fallen Angels. It is a world that exists in a state of cold, dark matter where scavengers collect dark energy released in death by humans with dark souls.

But, nothing is as easy as one thinks. Not when Jonah isn't ready to allow Lailah to sacrifice herself for him. Not when Lailah and Jonah return to Earth to discover that (3) years have passed, and the world is facing the its end thanks in part to her own actions. Lailah has accepted both parts of her lineage, vampire & angel, which gives her a perfect balance of light and dark. It also makes her supremely powerful enough to defeat any challengers she faces. Now, Lailah must become someone she never wanted to be, the world's Savior.

She must work with the Sealgaire, including Phelan who is now their leader. Phelan and Lailah's relationship has never been what one would call cordial. He doesn't believe that vampires could be anything but evil. He doesn't believe that vampires were once human either. Lailah also rekindles her relationship, of a sort, with Darwin who is a theoretical scientist looking into dark matter. While there, Lailah has a vision of the future and the end. Let's leave that there because it definitely has substance to what happens at the end of this story.

One of the final worlds that we are offered, is that of Styclar Pena. It is a world where one might call it heaven if one were inclined. Readers were given a view of this place in the opening chapter. From the Garden of Eden, to the creation of the separate dimensions, how Zherneboh came to be, and how truly awful Orifiel really is. This is a world that Orifiel rules over. It is also the world that must be brought down by Lailah in order to bring about the desire outcome. 

As I said in my previous review of Gabriel, the hints were already there about what choice Lailah would make and why. I was okay with her choice and not because of any hatred of Gabriel. I liked Gabriel well enough, except where he had issues with Lailah's dark side. I found myself re-reading the final chapter several times in order to decipher what the hell just happened, and why. After I calmed myself down a bit, I have to say that Kelly makes a heart breaking, but right choice in how she wraps up this series. I do believe that to do it any way else, would have taken away from the choices that were made over the course of this series. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

#Wednesday Review - Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Reign of Shadows # 2
Format: E-Galley, 304 pages
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Luna and Fowler have escaped the kingdom of Relhok, but they haven’t escaped the darkness. When a battle against the dark dwellers mortally injures Fowler, Luna is faced with a choice: put their fate in the hands of mysterious strangers or risk losing Fowler forever.
Desperate to keep the one bright part of her life alive, Luna accepts the help of soldiers from a nearby kingdom. Lagonia’s castle offers reprieve from the dangerous outside world—until the king discovers both Fowler's and Luna’s true ties to Relhok and their influence over the throne.
Now pawns in each kingdom’s political game, Luna and Fowler are more determined than ever to escape and build the life they’ve been dreaming of. But their own pasts have a tight hold on their hearts and their destinies. Luna must embrace the darkness and fire within her before she loses not only Fowler, but the power she was destined to inherit. 

Rise of Fire is the final installment in author Sophie Jordan's Reign of Shadows duology. Rise of Fire picks up right where Reign of Shadows left off. This duology alternates between two characters. 17-year old Luna, the true heir to the crown of Relhok, and 17-year old Fowler, estranged son of Cullan the former chancellor who killed Luna's parents, the King and Queen of Relhok, and named himself King. Luna is by far the most interesting character, and I am not ashamed to say so. She survived the night of a thousand knives thanks to being spirited away by Sivo and Perla. 

She was raised in a tower in the middle of the most dangerous part of the forest where things really do go bump in the night. One of things she learned how to do, was hunt with a bow and arrow. She's no slouch folks. What makes her even more impressive to me is that she's been blind for her entire life. She is able to get around thanks to her highly attuned senses that allows her to pass for a sighted person. Now, imagine all this and growing up in a world where their is near constant darkness. And, in that darkness lives creatures called Dwellers who own the night, and feasts on human. 

With Cullan killing innocent young girls who may look like Luna, she knows that she has to end his reign quickly. If the King gets hold of Luna, it is game over. Everyone go home. If that means braving the dwellers, and disappointing Fowler who is more than protective of her, so be it. Rise of Fire actually moves to a new territory after Luna and a severely
injured Fowler being taken to Lagonia, whose King Tebald knew Luna's mother. This is where things get twisted. While Tebald allows Fowler to seek medical attention, it is Luna who finds herself at the attention of not only the King.

Tebald is understandably curious about her being the spitting image of her mother Avelot who he once chased after and lost. There is also the bigoted Bishop who despises her for reasons that I forgot, but don't rightly matter in the end. Then there is the fact that Fowler is betrothed to Princess Maris, and has been since her birth. Even though we, the readers, know that Maris and Fowler will never ever work out, needless to say it tosses Luna into a different place. A place where she could just open up her mouth and say one word to someone about this is not okay, none of it, and perhaps she could have avoided the entanglement with Prince Chasan, and the ick factor of the King himself pushing to marry Luna.

Unfortunately, Fowler himself does spend a lot of time being hurt, and then getting the treatment he needs to survive. He also has to tread carefully knowing that his father has been told that he is alive, and that isn't something he thought he would ever have to deal with again. Fowler has had to deal with a whole lot since encountering Luna. He's tried numerous time to tell her to run and in the end, someone ended up hurt. As the previous story ended, it was Fowler who was taken away by Dwellers, and lay near death after being infected with toxin. Yes, I will say that Luna does a brave thing by going after him, and what have you. But, Luna's faults almost equal her overall likability factor. 

I will say this. I am absolutely happy with the way this book ended, especially with regards at how Cullan is finally dealt with. Regardless of the intrigue, the politics, and the angst, the book ends in a way that proves Luna isn't a Mary Sue character and can handle herself. I will close by saying that the first book was by far the most dangerous and the darkest. I loved the creepy Dwellers, and enjoyed Luna's interaction
with them in this book. I kind of missed Sivo and Perla because they were all the family that Luna has in this world. But, I was happy that they were given once last scene to close the book and series.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#Tuesday Review - The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Imposter Queen # 2
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Ansa has always been a fighter.
As a child, she fought the invaders who murdered her parents and snatched her as a raid prize. She fought for her place next to Thyra, the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain. She fought for her status as a warrior in her tribe: blood and victory are her way of life. But the day the Krigere cross the great lake and threaten the witch queen of the Kupari, everything changes.
Cursed by the queen with fire and ice, Ansa is forced to fight against an invisible enemy—the dark magic that has embedded itself deep in her bones. The more she tries to hide it, the more dangerous it becomes. And with the Krigere numbers decimated and the tribe under threat from the traitorous brother of the dead Chieftain, Ansa is torn between her loyalty to the Krigere, her love for Thyra, and her own survival instincts.
With her world in chaos and each side wanting to claim her for their own, only one thing is certain: unless Ansa can control the terrible magic inside her, everything she’s fought for will be destroyed. 

The Cursed Queen is the second installment in author Sarah Fine's The Imposter Queen series. The book is being called a companion novel to the first installment in the series, and that's because it takes place at the same time as The Imposter Queen. This book is about 17-year Ansa, a girl who was taken from her murdered family by the Krigere's. She is a red-haired warrior who has a red flame mark on her right calf. If you paid attention while reading The Imposter Queen, you know that this is very significant.
Ansa, who lives by the motto Blood and Victory, has had to prove herself since being taken to the Krigere's. She fought hard, and has earned the right to be on the invasion force headed to Kupari. But, what Ansa and the rest of her fellow warriors don't know, is that they are no match for the witch queen of Kupari. Valtia has the dual abilities of fire and ice. She can destroy an entire invading forced without anyone else around. After the tribe is decimated, Ansa, who is loyal to the new Chieftain Thyra, has little or no choice but to pack up and move it to Vasterlit where one of their former tribesman is now in charge of the castle.

After the loss of her tribe, Ansa learns that she may have been cursed by the witch queen. She can now wield fire and ice, and if she isn't careful, she will be put down for the Krigere's have no use for witches. Ansa's emotions control her abilities. Her feelings for Thyra are tested over and over again while Thyra herself is being challenged by Chieftain Nisse's tribe mates. Ansa is fierce, and you could see that from the first chapter when she tried to fight back when only a little girl. 

Let's get a few things straight. First, Ansa is not Elli, the previous protagonist from The Imposter Queen. Ansa is who Elli was supposed to be. Second, Ansa is very powerful, and has the ability to kill without hesitation, or reservation if someone hurts someone she loves. Ansa is also obsessed with Thyra to the point where I wanted to slap her head. Girl, get over yourself, there are much more important things going on in this world that can kill you easily if you keep ignoring them while falling all over yourself with Thyra. 

I was asked if any of the previous cast of characters showed up in this book. I would have said no, until I realized that yes, Sig does show up in this book, as well as a priest who loves to drink the blood of magic users which we saw in the first book. Sig is a very dangerous fire wielder who attempts to teach Ansa about her abilities. Sig, I dare hope, returns for the third installment along with Halina, a Vasterutrian who becomes part of Ansa plan to save her tribe, and take down Nisse. I had no real issues with Thyra. I think she genuinely cared for Ansa even when she was ignoring her. By ignoring her, I think she was trying to take the spotlight away. Thyra also isn't as bloodthirsty as Ansa, but she is a helluva fighter which shows after she is challenged over and over again.

I do realize that this book is leading into the third and presumed final book called The True Queen. I would guess that all of the previous cast members would be making an appearance as well. I do hope that Ansa and Elli will find a way to work things out so that both survive against what is to come next.

Monday, February 20, 2017

#Monday Review - Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken #YALit, #Science Fiction @alexbracken @DisneyHyperion

Series: Passenger # 2
Format: Hardcover, 532 pages
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Library
Genre: YA, Science Fiction

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk. 

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives. 

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

"From the shadows they come, to give you a fright.From the shadows they come, to steal you this night."

Wayfarer is the finale in Alexandra Bracken's Passenger duology. Wayfarer alternatives between Henrietta "Etta" Spencer and Nicholas Carter. Etta is a modern day violin virtuoso. She's traveled the world while preparing for her debut as a concert soloist which ended with her world being upturned, and being dragged into a entirely new one. Nicholas is an 18th century privateer, the son of Augustus Ironwood, and a slave woman. He was purchased and freed by Captain Hall whom he treats as a son. Nicholas is weighed down that he may have killed his brother Julian 

While the Passenger duology focuses mainly on Etta, and Nicholas, Sophia Ironwood, Cyrus Ironwood (the ultimate bad guy who controls both time lines and other families with an iron grip), and Rose Linden nee Spencer (Etta's mother who has done some bad things that have brought Etta into a dangerous world) are just as important as understanding the world that Bracken has created. In fact, the opening chapter of this story has a peek into the life of Rose Linden (Spencer) who lost her parents, and started down a dangerous rode after a mysterious stranger visited her. 

After the stunning conclusion to Passenger, Etta and Nicholas find themselves in two entirely different eras. After Rose's chapter, I had the feeling that something dangerous was lurking just off stage, and, Wow, was I right. Passenger 
alternatives chapters & adventures by Etta and Nicholas so you know exactly who the key players are and what era they find themselves in. We also get a cast of new characters like Henry Hemlock, Tsar Nicholas I, and Belladonna, the witch of Prague who puts a huge amount of pressure on Nicholas to do her bidding.  To catch readers up, Etta was snatched up by time, shaken & tossed through a series of passages. 

Etta's starts in this book when she wakes up in 1905 Texas hurt badly and orphaned by the timeline. The timeline has been altered & her future is quite possibly gone forever. She's also not happy about losing the astrolabe which she was sent to retrieve in order to save her mother. Etta's journey leads her to various eras which are too numerous to mention, except for 1906 San Francisco where she finds out the boy who saved her in Texas is the very much alive Julian Ironwood. For much of the story, Etta & Julian are attached by the hip. Even though they don't share a common goal, Julian is necessary to Etta's success because he knows the whereabouts of passages in various eras. He knows about bounce backs, and where the Ironwoods store their stash of goods that become useful to be successful in retrieving the astrolabe. 

Meanwhile, Nicholas has managed to ally himself with Sophia who he found very much alive at the end of the previous novel. Sophia is sporting her own wounds thanks to her encounter with the Thorns. She also lost the astrolabe to them as well which doesn't make for a kind or mellow Sophia. Nicholas is hoping that Rose Linden will have news about the fate of Etta, and where the original timeline may be. Instead, he and Sophia find themselves being saved by an even more interesting character named Li Min. Whenever someone says to me we need more diversity in books, I shake my head. You have to read books like Wayfarer for just that reason. Nicholas is black, Li Min is Chinese, and one of the more intriguing characters in this book. Li Min also has her own agenda which you can read about on your own. 

Wayfarer is an action-packed finale that I couldn't stop reading until I found out how the author would wrap up the story. Etta learned a whole lot about Passages, and Travelers, and Guardians, and even the Astrolabe, an artifact from the original travelers which can open passages and close others. She discovered a world where families are fighting against each other to save and protect the timelines, while one wants to bring back someone he lost. Etta discovered the dark truth about her mother, suffered an important loss in her life which still resonates, found the man who is her father, and yes, found love in the boy who changed her life. 

I close with this quote for Li Min.

"We come together with others to make our way and survive it's trails. But we are, all of us, also Wayfarers on a greater journey, this one without end, each of us searching for answers to the unspoken question of our hearts."