Monday, July 31, 2017

#Review - Omega by Jus Accardo #YALit #Science Fiction @entangledpub

Series: The Infinity Division # 2
Format: Kindle, 320 pages
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

The second book in the Infinity time travel series is full of action, romance, and an intricately designed roller coaster plot.
One mistake can change everything. Ashlyn Calvert finds that out the hard way when a bad decision leads to the death of her best friend, Noah Anderson.
Only Noah isn’t really gone. Thanks to his parents’ company, the Infinity Division, there is a version of him skipping from one dimension to another, set on revenge for the death of his sister, Kori. When a chance encounter brings him face-to-face with Ash, he’s determined to resist the magnetic pull he’s felt for her time and time again. Because falling for Ash puts his mission in danger.
But there’s more going on in Ash’s alternate universe than either of them knows: a mysterious project called Omega. A conspiracy spanning multiple Earths and revolving around none other than Ash. Its creators would do anything to keep Omega secret… Anything.

Omega, by author Jus Accardo, is the second installment in the author's The Infinity Division series. When last we saw our time traveling duo of Noah Anderson, and Cade Granger, they had been joined by Kori Anderson who's father is in charge of the Infinity Division. After coming face to face with the villainous Dylan Granger, who has made it his mission to kill every version of Kori in every world, Kori has no choice but to join Noah and Cade where ever Dylan leads them. They eventually land in a world where criminals are removed and transported to another dimension.

In Omega, Noah and Ashlyn Calvert become the main narrators of this story, while Cade and Kori take a back seat, but not altogether missing. They still have important parts to play when it comes to capturing and stopping Dylan. In this book, we explore the idea of what a constant really is. Simply explained, a constant is an unrelated person who shows up in multiple realities. For Noah, Ash is his Constant, just as Kori is apparently Cade's. For Noah, he tends to be a gigolo. Where ever he finds that world's Ash, he has fun, and then moves on to the next version of Earth where he also scouts out whether or not there is an Ash living in it. 

But, this Noah hasn't met anyone like this Earth's Ash. Ash lives in a bizarro world where you are shoved into three categories: Top Tier, Middle Tier, and Bottom Tier. There are also three levels which can lead you to success, or being swallowed up by two houses which caterer to two different ideologies. Ash is considered to be a Bottom Tier who was taken in by this world's version of Noah and his brother Corey's parents Cora & Karl Anderson. Ash's world gets turned upside down after she is accused of killing Noah, and later is blacklisted. Ash & Noah have an intense sexual that just can't be denied. 

In the end, this story pretty much bridges the first books plot line with the third installment in the series. It spends more than enough time building the relationship between Ash and Noah and then diving further into Ash's life. I say that because most of this story isn't about chasing people around, aka Dylan, or facing the lunatic known as Cora. There's plenty of humorous stories involved within this story. Like the names of the various Earth's they've explored, including Monkey world, and Vegan World, and Wolf World, and the exploits at each stop. There are two other characters introduced as well, but I am unsure if that means they will be the primary focus of the next book, or part of the larger group effort to chase down and finally stop Dylan. We shall see, won't we?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Gizmo's #Stacking the Shelves Week Ending 07/29/2017

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

Thanks for Shopping by! 
Hope you find something you are interested in!
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Vanguard by Ann Aguirre (YA, Dystopian)

Wednesday - From the Ashes by Eliza Nolan (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (YA, Fantasy)

*Received from NetGalley/Edelweiss*

*Received from Publishers & Xpresso Book Tours*

Friday, July 28, 2017

#Review - Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Monsters of Verity # 2
Format: Hardcover, 510 pages
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Dark Fantasy


KATE HARKER isn't afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she's good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.



Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims' inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

Our Dark Duet, by author Victoria Schwab, is the sequel and final installment in the Monsters of Verity duology. The story picks up six months after the end of This Savage Song. The story once again alternatives between Kate Harker and August Flynn. While Kate left Verity behind for Prosperity, August has stepped into his brothers shoes as the leader of the Flynn Task Force. While Kate deals with her own inner monster, and wonders if she can ever be a normal again, August has accepted that it is okay to let the monster out if it means saving people.

“There were two kinds of monsters, the kind that hunted the streets and the kind that lived in your head. She could fight the first, but the second was more dangerous. It was always, always, always a step ahead.”

For the most part Prosperity is free from the monsters that roam free in Verity. But, there is underlying tension that is ready to break out. Kate has been here six months. Six months of hunting monsters, but nothing will ever make up for the one moment when her soul was tainted forever. No matter how many monsters Kate kills, she can't forget what happened at the place she once called home and the boy that she left behind. What's even more curious, Kate has allowed a very small group of kids (Bea, Liam, Teo, and Riley who has given her a place to stay) to get close to her. 

Kate plays a curious game where she imagines there are other Kate's in alt-world where she still has a family, and that monsters don't exist. But, after an encounter with a monster she's never met before, and nearly loses her soul in the process, Kate finds that her time in Prosperity is over. The only option for her now is to hunt the monster back to where it all went sideways. But, Verity has been cut off from the rest of the world, and the Verity that she left 6 months before, isn't the Verity that she returns to. Verity is now under siege by a very alive Sloan who has stepped into her father's shoes.  

“I don’t know who I am, and who I’m not, I don’t know who I’m supposed to be, and I miss who I was; I miss it every day, Kate, but there’s no place for that August anymore. No place for the version of me who wanted to go to school, and have a life, and feel human, because this world doesn’t need that August. It needs someone else.”

As Kate arrives in Verity, she attempts to find August and warn him of the monster that has found a new home in Verity. But, Kate never imagined the changes she would find. August has accepted the darkness of his being. He pretty much needs to in order to save his people from Sloan and even more so from Alice, the monster created in Kate's image. The Verity side of the story is a twisted one. August and his human soldiers face a daily onslaught while trying to hold on to the Southern side of Verity. August, along with another Sunai named Soro, try to keep Verity from falling to Sloan. But, with Kate's arrival and warning, things really tick up in a frantic manner.

While Kate and August are the main characters of this series, don't over look the fact that Schwab gives Sloan a bigger piece of the puzzle this time out. Sloan wants all of Verity. He controls all of the Northern side of Verity but they have bigger plans. He and Alice, who was created in Kate's image, have unleashed monsters on the streets. They've taken humans as food, and stored them in buildings where they can easily have access to them. Sloan very much wants to take down August. If he can break August, he can find a way to break through to the Compound where he will control everything.  

I have all sorts of feels after finishing this book. Sadness. Anger. Disappointment. Depression. I know it is the author's prerogative to choose how he or she treats their characters, but holy shite. Why? This is one of the reasons that I lowered my rating from 4 stars to 3 1/2. Perhaps it was a message that the author needed to send. Or, maybe she knew that her characters were lucky enough to make it this far considering all they've done and been through. Or, maybe she's sitting back laughing at the horror that she left in her wake. Either way, I am not a fan of how this story ends. 

Friday #Review - Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor #YALit #Science Fiction

Series: Into the Dim # 2
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: HMH for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Time Travel

  • For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends . . . and a (maybe) boyfriend. She’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-traveling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plan to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the glitterati of The Gilded Age in 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew will discover that high society can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

  • In this sequel to the dazzling time-travel romance Into the Dim, sacrifice takes on a whole new meaning as Hope and Bran struggle to determine where—or when—they truly belong.

Sparks of Light is the second installment in author Janet B. Taylor's Into the Dim series. Protagonist Hope Walton, who now calls Scotland home, has done the unexpected. She traveled back to the 12th century and returned home with her mother (Sara Carlyle) and baby sister (Ellie) in tow. She also discovered that she is part of a long line of time travelers known as Viators. To make things more interesting, she's in a relationship with Brandon Cameron, a boy she has known since they were small children. 

She's also found a family with Moira, John, Phoebe, and Collum MacPherson, as well as Aunt Lucinda who genuinely care about her. But, not everything is settled. Not with Celia Alvarez still searching for the Nonius Stone. Celia aka "Mistress of Bloody Darkness" really wants control over the Dim and her Timeslippers are more than a thorn for Hope's Viators who want to save the future. After being gone for two months, Bran returns with shocking news that will send Hope, Phoebe, Collum, Mac, Bran, and Doug back to the year 1895 where they hope to prevent Nikola Tesla from making a huge mistake. 

Hope is a character who we have only skimmed the surface of who she really is and where she really came from. A fact that the author drives home with flashbacks to the era of John Dee & Edward Kelley. I didn't actually mind the flashbacks, and no I didn't think they took away from the flow of the story itself. We, as readers, need to know why happened and why Hope feels that has a whole lot more to learn about her beginnings in order to move forward into the future. This is a hard book for me to review since Hope really ends up in some troubling situations. 

Troubling because it was all too realistic that things like rich men dumping their no longer wanted wives into an asylum for their own good while they moved on to a newer model with less miles under the tires. Hope and Doug both experience so much turbulence, that I was really holding my breath at different points when she is faced with so many extreme emotional situations. There is an intense scene in this book that really hits home at how people with different skin color were treated by certain people in this society. Unfortunately, it's historically accurate. 

If you write over it, or ignore that it actually did happen, then you are rewriting history and not learning from our descendants mistakes. In the end, this book had a much darker feel to it thanks to Hope's experience at Greenwood Institute. It's always hard to compare books, and in this case, different historical settings bring out different situations. One could say that the challenges in the first installment were much more intense than this book. However, I do like that the author integrates her story with actual historical figures of the time like Tesla, Edison, John Aster, and William Vanderbilt. There are more than a few loose ends that haven't been tied up. One of those loose ends is bugging me because it left a gaping hole in the storyline. Hopefully it will be resolved by any future sequel.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday #Review - Empowered: Agent by Dale Ivan Smith #Science Fiction #Fantasy

Series: Empowered # 1
Format: Kindle, 360 pages
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Source: Amazon
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

The world says those with superpowers are either heroes or villains. But what if you’re both?
Mathilda Brandt isn’t the angry, out-of-control teenager she was before she got out of jail. She’s hungry for a chance at a normal life, but when a gang threatens her sisters, she has no choice but to use her illegal superpower to protect them.
A secretive government agency gives her a choice: go back to prison for life, or infiltrate a notorious super-villain group in order to stop a psychotic Empowered. To save her city, her family, and herself, Mat must become the last thing she ever wanted to be again: a criminal.

Empowered: Agent is the first book in Dale Ivan Smith’s The Empowered urban fantasy series. This series actually begins 5 years from when this story picks up. There is a novella called Renegade that features a 16-year old Mathilda (Mat) Brandt. 16-year old Mat lives in a world where you must make a choice if you have powers. You can either join the Hero Council, or go Rogue. There are no third choices. If you are caught and are not registered with Hero Council, you may very well end up in prison for the rest of your life. Mat, after being captured, was sent away to a special corrections facility for those with powers.

As Empowered: Agent picks up, it is 5 years later. Now 21-year old Mathilda has been paroled from a special corrections and now has to find a job in order to support her family. In Renegade, readers got a chance to understand Mat's true powers. Powers she was just beginning to understand. In this story, Mat is now called a Botanical Catalyst because of her ability to control plants. Mat finds herself on the cusp of choosing which way her life is going to go after she is caught using her magic. She can remain clueless as to what is happening around her and end up back in prison, or she can take an undercover job with the Hero Council hunting down The Scourge, the most dangerous Rogues in the world.

With two sisters on the edge of getting themselves into deep trouble, and her grandmother slowly dying from a rare disease, Mat finds herself choosing between working undercover for Support in order to infiltrate a group known as the Scourge, or quickly returning to prison where she will no longer have access to her powers. What really sets this story straight with me is Mat's powers really grow by leaps and bounds from Renegade. Also, her situation with her family is no joke. There isn't anything that is pure black, or pure white. It is a mixed up world where Mat has to make the best choices without screwing up. 

One could call this an alt-reality story since the author makes pains to twist history especially when it comes to Tricky Dick Nixon and the Cuba missile crisis. If you like heroes and villains, you’ll love this fast-paced, suspenseful read featuring a strong female hero. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday #Review - From the Ashes by Eliza Nolan #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Phoenix # 2
Format: Kindle, 316 pages
Release Date: June 26, 2017
Publisher: E.N. Publishing
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

In this exciting sequel to Phoenix Awakens, Nolan whisks her readers off to Istanbul where the Legend of the Phoenix is the centerpiece in a centuries old battle for power.
It’s been three months since Julia Long discovered she’s a magical being called The Phoenix, and she still hasn’t mastered her ancestral powers. But when a mysterious visitor provides evidence that Julia’s birth mother has been kidnapped in Istanbul, Julia must try to save her.
Meeting her mother's family for the first time is wonderful, but discovering there are other kids her age with magic is better, even if one of them is infuriatingly dark and handsome.
But not everyone is happy letting kids be kids. Some seek to use these gifted youth as pawns in a game of power and intrigue. And just by the nature of who she is, Julia's now the most powerful piece on the board. But if she doesn’t play her part perfectly, she could lose everything, including her mother.

From the Ashes is the second installment in author Eliza Nolan's The Phoenix series. 18-year old protagonist Julia Long recently discovered that she is the fabled Phoenix. The Phoenix, in this world, is a sort of magical creature that lived a few hundred years ago. Unfortunately, Julia's knowledge of the full extent of her powers, and the book that explains what she needs to know, is currently locked up in a Charleston Police Station where it sits after the events of the previous installment.

Julia's issue, to begin with, is that her powers have gone silent since she healed five boys, including her current boyfriend Graham, who became her Beshi. Beshi, for the uninitiated, are those who gave themselves up in order for the Phoenix to rise. The second issue is the arrival of a strange woman with a packet of money, a passport, a one way ticket to Istanbul, as well as a letter supposedly written by her mother. Curious, especially since we previously learned that her mother apparently knew all along who Julia was and left a necklace to protect her from enemies that await her. 

Julia and Graham travel to Istanbul where an unexpected reunion with a family she knew nothing about happens. The struggle to find her mother, who she hasn't known her entire life, begins in earnest, but with plenty of twists and a bit of betrayal as well. To add insult to injury, the family is aghast at how little Julia understands about her role as the Phoenix. A role that can, as we find out, be taken away from her if she fails to understand what her destiny really is and does all she can to protect herself from enemies just waiting to surprise her.

Julia's hope is to return home to Charleston to retrieve the book that apparently holds all the answers, and unlock the key to her powersEspecially after discovering the so called Army of the Phoenix and the strange boy she finds a curious connection to Kele. Her connection to Kele will test her relationship with Graham to the limits on both ends of the spectrum. Will Julia survive her next test, or will the evil that is waiting for her finally bring down the Phoenix? Book # 3 has is being called The Fire Within. No further information is available at this time, but I will definitely be reading to see what happens next. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tuesday #Review - Blood Gamble by Melissa F. Olson (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Disrupted Magic # 2
Format: Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: 47North
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

If there is one city that Scarlett Bernard hates, it’s Las Vegas. But when the cardinal vampire of Los Angeles convinces her to go investigate a new vampire-themed stage show, Scarlett quickly finds herself shoulder-deep in sequins, slot machines, and Old World intrigue.
The show’s creators are vampire celebrities Arthur and Lucy Holmwood, who once inspired characters from the original Dracula. Now, however, they have no qualms about announcing their true status to the human world, endangering the secrecy of the Old World and Scarlett’s mission to keep it hidden.
But before she can begin untangling the Holmwoods’ motives, Scarlett also discovers that their new production has attracted more than just fans: Las Vegas’s many vampires are suddenly disappearing, and rumors are flying that actual vampire hunters may have followed Arthur and Lucy to town.
Now, without her allies, her bargest, or her frequent partner Jesse Cruz, Scarlett must navigate a new underworld of secrets and murders in a city where nothing is ever as it seems. And the stakes have never been higher.

Blood Gamble is the second installment in author Melissa F. Olson's Disrupted Magic series. However, it is also book # 5 in the Scarlett Bernard series, and book # 11 in what's being called the Old World Chronicles. Scarlett Bernard is a null who negates all the magic withing a certain radius. She has the ability to extend, and withdrawal that radius which makes her rather unique. Scarlett works for Dashiell, the Cardinal of Los Angeles, cleaning up supernatural problems and keeping the Old World from being discovered by humans. 

Dashiell's latest job for Scarlett is something she would have avoided at all costs. But, after being blackmailed in the most cunning way possible, Scarlett finds herself in Las Vegas. Scarlett doesn't have any fond memories of Vegas. In fact, it has been 8 years since she was last there, and if she has her way, it will be a cold day in hell before she returns again. But, with a new vampire themed show called Demeter opening, and the owners being legendary vampires Arthur and Lucy Holmwood straight out of Dracula, Scarlett finds herself investigating the strange disappearances of several dozen vampires. 

As it is Scarlett's job to keep the Old World from being exposed to humans, Scarlett must get to the bottom of what is happening quickly, while also not letting humans know what is happening. One of the more cunning aspects of this story is the revelation of the villains and why they are doing what they are doing. The fact that Scarlett has no allies since her bargest Shadow can't leave LA County, and Jessie Cruz is picking up her slack, makes this story that more focused on Scarlett and her actions in using what she has at hand to discover the truth and return home alive.

This is a book that I had to read to the very end, and then the author's notes to understand what she is trying to do & why she is taking the chance she did with the shocking ending she leaves readers with. (yes, I realize that is vague) Author states that she has seen this particular issue coming since Dead Spots. One could say that Olson jumps the shark with this story, which I realize she hates, but nonetheless it is in the same ballpark as killing off a main character for unnecessary reasons.

My issue is that her OWN character made a statement that she totally blew apart at the seams for whatever reasons in the end. As I state all this, this story was still entertaining. I loved that Scarlett cares about her brother and his new family and has done one of the coolest things she can do in order to provide financial support for them. I do care for Scarlett regardless of who she stupidly falls in love with. I do care how she fares even though she lives a dangerous existence. I do care that she gets knocked down and manages to stagger back to her feet somehow. The sixth installment, called Shadow Hunt, should be a very interesting story indeed.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday #Review - Vanguard by Ann Aguirre #YALit #Science Fiction

Series: Razorland # 4
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic

The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship's doctor, she can't wait. It's past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth.
Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn't allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew.

Vanguard is being called the companion fourth installment in author Ann Aguirre's Razorland series. Vanguard picks up approximately ten months after the end of the War of the River between humans and the Horde. This story focuses on four characters; Tegan, Millie Faraday, Szarok (the Vanguard of the Uroch), and James Morrow, aka the storyteller. Three of the four characters have settled into peaceful lives. Tegen, who still suffers from what happened to her over the course of the previous 3 installments, lives in Rosemere where she is Dr. Wilson's apprentice. 

Tegan became Dr. Wilson's apprentice after the War of the River. But, with his dying words that she should find Catalina, Tegen, along with Szarok, and Millie travel to Evergreen where they reunite with James, Deuce, and Fade and later join a crew where Tegen becomes ships doctor. Tegen promised Szarok that she would help find him a new home. Little did she know that they would find an everlasting connection. Millie is the girl known for her kindness. The girl made of sunlight and flowers. A kindness that ended up saving humanity from the Horde. 

Millie wants to be known for something else instead of the girl who saved humanity. She gladly joins Tegen on her adventure, only to discover that she has the ability to be, and become anything she wants to be. James returned home to Evergreen where we find him writing a book and waiting for the imminent return of Tegan who he still has feelings for. James joins Tegen, Szarok, and Millie on their curious journey to different ports of calls. But, James finds himself being moved by the girl, Millie, who has heard about James, Deuce, Fade, and Company D's adventures. 

Szarok, meanwhile, searches for a new home for his Uroch. He understands that humans will not willingly open their arms to the Uroch and let them settle near them. His people are not patient, and it's only a matter of time before he has to leave Tegen and their adventure behind to return home. I loved that we get to actually meet the remaining Uroch clan who have given him the distinction of being Vanguard. I loved that he really isn't just a monster who found humanity, and later a connection to a woman who carries a heavy burden but has so much to offer the person who lets her be herself. 

Without spoiling a thing, I will say that this is pretty much just a feel good story with lots of romance, a bit of action and adventure, and a way to say goodbye to Tegan, Millie Faraday, Szarok, James Morrow, and of course, Deuce and Fade. I really don't see any reason why there would be a 5th book in this series. Plus, do we really want to drag Deuce and Fade into another adventure? Although this installment can stand alone, I would definitely recommend reading the previous three installments as they do explain how we got to this point. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 73

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! 
Hope you find something you are interested in!
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead (YA, Fantasy)

Tuesday - No Good Deed by Kara Connolly (Fantasy)

Thursday - Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (Mystery)

Friday - Wildfire by Ilona Andrews (Paranormal)

(Urban Fantasy)

*Received from NetGalley/Edelweiss*


*Received from Publishers*