Saturday, March 31, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves #277 - Happy Easter!

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

Thanks for Stopping by!
This post comprises of the past 2 weeks.
Hope you find something you like!
Have a great weekend & Happy Easter!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Future Lost by Elizabeth Briggs (YA, SyFy)

Tuesday - Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (YA, Historical, Horror)

Thursday - Silver Stars by Michael Grant (YA, Historical)

*REC'D VIA Library, NetGalley, Edelweiss*

Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday #Review - Blood of a Thousand Stars by Rhoda Belleza #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies # 2
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Epic Fantasy


With a revolution brewing, Rhee is faced with a choice: make a deal with her enemy, Nero, or denounce him and risk losing her crown.


Framed assassin Alyosha has one goal in mind: kill Nero. But to get his revenge, Aly may have to travel back to the very place he thought he’d left forever—home.


Kara knows that a single piece of technology located on the uninhabitable planet Wraeta may be the key to remembering—and erasing—the princess she once was.


Villainous media star Nero is out for blood, and he’ll go to any means necessary to control the galaxy. 

Vicious politics and high-stakes action culminate in an epic showdown that will determine the fate of the universe.

Blood of a Thousand Skies is conclusion to the Empress of a Thousand Skies duology. Story picks up right where the first installment left off. The story features four distinctive characters: Kara, Aly, Rhiannon, and Nero. As the story opens, Princess Josselyn Ta'an, who was thought to be dead, is actually alive and living under the name Kara. Since the sister she doesn't remember announced that Josselyn was in fact alive, she's been on the run and hiding from those searching for her with Alyosha Myraz (Aly) former Uniforce soldier who was accused of trying to kill Princess Rhiannon.

She has no desire to become Empress. She wants to remove any memories of her former self. Fact is, Kara's memories are all but non-existent before the age of 12 thanks to her "mother" Lydia. She has no memories of her younger sister, or what happened to her parents. Not like Rhee does. But, after Kara triggers a wooden cylinder with a secret inside, it sends her on a wild journey across the universe searching for something called the overwriter. Kara has to make the choice of finding the overwriter and permanently removing her Josselyn memories and letting Rhee take all the responsibilities, or actually stepping up and taking her true role of Empress. 

Meanwhile, Rhee is caught between an executioner and his guillotine. Nero has her right where she doesn't want to be. She has stepped up and accepted her role as Empress even though she now knows that her older sister is alive. Alongside her temporarily is Dahlen who is pretty much her own ally but is also off on another adventure for most of the story. She can't trust Nero. She can't trust her own Tasinn Royal Guard to keep her safe, and her mantra of Honor, Bravery, and Loyalty hasn't stopped the ant-Rhee sentiment that rapidly spreads. 

I'm just going to say this. I have huge issues with the way the author treated Rhee in the end. Was she the perfect character? No, but at least she was trying to do the right thing for her people who were being used like pawn pieces on a much larger game board. She put up with so much crap for the past 6 years since her parents died, that she should have been given a little bit more respect by those like Kara. Kara walks on water and tried to walk away from her responsibilities while Rhee was shoved to the side for whatever reason. Plus, Rhee has nothing but heartache and bloodshed that follows her wherever she goes. 

Nero is a blood genius and a megalomaniac. He is so far ahead of anyone in this book, that it makes Rhee and Kara look like children playing an adult game of life or death. Nero twists the rules when it suits him. He is the puppet master making Rhee dance to his tune. He outwits & outmaneuvers everyone in the rush to find the overwriter which will give him ultimate powers over everyone. He is also a compulsive liar and a sociopath. After learning that Josselyn is alive, he brilliantly isolates Rhee as well as any of her allies. The question is, who will be the one to step up and defeat Nero?    

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday #Review - Silver Stars by Michael Grant #YALit #Historical

Series: Front Lines # 2
Format: Hardcover, 576 pages
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Historical / Fiction

She’s fighting to survive.

The summer of 1943, World War II. The Germans have been bloodied, but Germany is very far from beaten. The North African campaign was only the beginning of the long journey for Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the millions of other Allies.

Now the American army is moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily. Frangie, Rainy, and Rio now know firsthand what each of them is willing to do to save herself—and the consequences. With their heavy memories of combat, they will find this operation to be even tougher.

Frangie, Rainy, and Rio also know what is at stake. The women are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers—they are soldiers. But the millions of brave females fighting for their country have become a symbol in the fight for equality. In this war, endless blood has been spilled and millions of lives have been lost, but there could be so much more to gain.

The women won’t conquer Italy alone. But they will brave terrible conditions in an endless siege; they will fight to find themselves on the front lines of World War II; and they will come face-to-face with the brutality of war until they win or die.

Silver Stars, by author Michael Grant, is the second installment in the Front Lines trilogy. Grant’s brilliant reimagining of World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines is unlike anything in the teen market. Following a recent Pentagon decision to open all jobs in combat units to female service members, (which I fully support FYI) top officers in the army and the marine corps testified that they believe all woman over the age of 18 should be eligible for military service the same as men.

This is a series that features three remarkable young women of different backgrounds, religion, and skin color: Rio Richlin, Rainy Schulterman & Frangie Marr. There is a fourth narrative of a yet to be named character. I believe I have finally guessed who it is. No spoilers! This story picks up in North Africa (1943) where Rio Richlin and her squad has survived the brutal confrontation with Erwin Rommel and his hardened Germany panzer division. But, before I continue, let me actually do a service to the three main characters who are amazing:

*Rio Richlin is a white girl from Gedwell Falls, California. After an incident where her older sister Rachel died while serving in the Navy, she choose to enlist with her best friend Jenou Castain in the US Army. She was underage at the time. Since then, she has been thru boot camp, dealt with the misogyny of her fellow male soldiers, faced life and death situations time and time again, found maybe a bit of romance in the process, and is a character who doesn't seek out glory. It just happens to be her destiny. As for this story, Rio and her squad will travel from North Africa up thru Italy. A journey that will come with surprising twists, and deadly costs to those she has been with since boot camp.

*Frangie Marr is a black girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She, like Rio, choose to enlist in the Army rather than await being selected. After going thru her own basic training trials, Frangie became a Medic. A profession that is near and dear to my heart. Frangie not only faces racism from her own side, but from the enemy as well. She is written as a girl who has a backbone, and doesn't run away from a dying patient she is trying to treat. Frangie is just a beautiful character who gets no slack from anyone but stands tall in the face of racism and a brutal war.

*Rainy Schulterman is a Jewish girl from NYC who has her own reason for enlisting in the Military. She wants to KILL Adolf Hitler, the person who will end up killing 6 million Jews, and others over the course of World War II. Rainy gets the most breaks, but still faces challenges from her male superiors. Rainy is given a life or death mission that goes against every fiber in her being. A mission that will fundamentally change who Rainy is as a person.

Like Rio, and Frangie before her, Rainy goes through hell and back. In the end, the three characters become something that every little girl should grow up to be. Amazing young women with skills, desire, determination, and the focus of doing what's right when the world is at war. This series may not appeal to everyone, but as a veteran, as a medic, as a female, it appeals to me. Grant makes no bones about not treating his characters with kid gloves. This is war, my dears. War is fucking brutal and so is the imaginary.

Grant doesn't whitewash this story for political correctness. He isn't afraid to shine the light on racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism just to be politically correct. Why whitewash history or claim it never happen so that people's feelings won't be hurt? Why intentionally alter history or remove things from it that might hurt someone's feelings? History is made of bad things that happened to good people. Why not tell people that there were actual squads of just black soldiers who were not allowed to integrate into white dominated squads until 1948. Frangie can tell you all about her experiences.

I believe this series should be read by everyone, especially young women, because it is very close to being factual in nature. During WWII, 400,000 women served in various capacities from pilots, to nurses. 200 of them died. 4 earned Silver Stars (nurses). The Silver Star Medal is awarded primarily to members of the United States Armed Forces for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States. Thus, the name of this book. This is an epic story of war, action, adventure, romance, and friendship. Grant weaves three incredibly gripping stories together in each novel, and now that each girl has transformed into a soldier and have become heroes even if they don't feel that way.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ARC #Review - Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted #YALit #Historical #Horror

Series: Standalone? 
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural

Fans of Downton Abbey or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will love this campy mash-up of historical and paranormal genres by bestselling author Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

For as long as the pastoral village of Porthampton has existed, everyone has known his or her place. There’s upstairs, downstairs, and then there are the villagers who tend the farms. But when a farmer is killed in a brutal and most unusual fashion, and then more deaths rapidly follow, it soon becomes apparent that all three groups will have to do the unthinkable: work together, side by side, if they want to survive the menace. Even the three teenage daughters of Lord Martin Clarke, who previously thought the greatest threat to their way of life was in the form of an entail, must do the unthinkable and work with the farmers to take down the zombie horde. Lady Kate, paired with the handsome stable boy Will Harvey, discovers that if they don’t work together, their ancestral home of Porthampton Abbey just might turn into Zombie Abbey.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Zombie Abbey is a mash-up of Downton Abbey, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, and The Walking DeadParanormal & historical mash-ups seem to be on the rise with people wanting to escape for a few hours and enjoy the curiosity of English society. Set in 1920 England, the story is pure escapism mixed with a bit of horror. The story is told via three sisters who are the daughters of the Earl of Post Hampton: Lady Katherine (17), the entitled eldest who is being groomed to marry. She arrogant, Spoiled. She loves hunting, but she treats everyone like step stools, including her sisters. 

Lady Grace (16) is lost in the middle and wishing she were braver. She is the complete opposite of Kate in almost every way. One could say that Grace is the pleasant surprise of the story for her actions later on in the book. But, don't ignore the youngest Lady Lizzy (15) who is endlessly sunny, & easy to underestimate and belittle because the youngest are supposed to be seen, and not heard from. Lizzy is a whole lot better of a person and a character than Kate by a wide margin.

There are others, of course. Those like Will Harvey, Daniel Murray, Raymond Allen, and Fanny Rogers, who represents the Downton cast in this novel & the most enjoyable character in this entire story. It is a time of healing from World War I. It is a time where women weren't able yet to own any land or property or have a say in their own lives. For the sake of this story, the author introduces you to the practice of Entails: Entails ensure that only mail heirs can inherit a property, or the eldest must marry a suitor. 

With her father throwing a party and asking his eldest to meet with several suitors at a time, anything can and will happen. This story, in my humble opinion, suffers from the dreaded too many irons in the pot syndrome. If the author had just focused on maybe the sisters, it wouldn't have been so overwhelming. Plus, the ending leaves so many unanswered questions. Like, will there be a sequel? Who will survive the zombie apocalypse? Will anyone live to have their HEA, or will the author go on a bloody tear? For those reasons, my rating is a firm 3 stars.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday #Review - Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Brooklyn Brujas # 2
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland. 

Labyrinth Lost, by author Zoraida Cordova, is the first installment in the Brooklyn Brujas series. Alex Mortiz is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family. She is also carrying a dangerous secret she hasn't told anyone about. Her powers aren't asleep, as she's led her family to believe, they are very much alive and waiting to come alive as they do in a riotous scene in the beginning of the book. The problem is that Alex has hated magic every since her father disappeared taking her mother's happiness along with him.

While most Latino girls celebrate their Quinceañera, Alex prepares for her her Death Day which falls on her 17th birthday. It is the most important day in a bruja's life. Death Days are about being blessed by the old ones and family that has gone before her. It may also be her only opportunity to rid herself of magic. But, the curse she performs during the ceremony to rid herself of magic backfires, and her family vanishes. 

Alex is forced to work with a shady character named Nova who may have some serious ambitions and plans of his own. To get her family back they must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland. A place with aviana bird people, a river of souls, Saber tooth tigers mixed with snake demon, half bird, half human Aviana's, fairies, a villain named the Devourer, and the Tree of Life which is tied to Alex's family. 

Alex has map lines on her palms indicating that she is an Encantrix, just like her descendent Juanita. One could say it is the highest blessing of the Deos. Encantrix can command the elements, heal the sick, and speak to the dead. Some reviewers have compared this story to a mashup between Pan's Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland. Really comes close to being the truth. 

Bottom line: Labyrinth Lost is a story about a young witch who has no desire to be like her gorgeous older sister Lula who has the ability to heal, or Rosie who is a seer, or her mother for that matter who has brought more babies into the world than any obstetrician. She just wants to be a normal girl with normal teenaged issues with her best friend Rishi. Alex is an interesting character in that the author gives her so many things she's good at. Volleyball, Indoor Track, Weightlifting, Pole Vaulting, etc. 

Nova is a brujo who claims to be able to help Alex with her problems. He’s basically that ridiculously charming male lead character who you just know that he is going to break someone's heart. I am a cynical person when comes to the mysterious bad boy who makes curious and often times irritating decisions that destroy others hopes. Then, he comes around and it's like, Oh, everything is fancy dancy again! I'm not a forgiving person, and I loathe betrayals. Hopefully Nova won't be around in the next installment. 

Rishi is a Hindu/Guyanese girl, and Alex’s only real non-magical friend. She’s quirky and an honest to god good person who just happens to have feelings for Alex outside of a straight up friendship. Yes, there is a slight love triangle dynamic here, but I don't believe that he weighed heavily on Alex's journey to self-awareness and what her abilities really can do.

Plus, she's get an awesome aunt Rosaria who should definitely get more storyline in coming installments. Book wrapped up in a manner that didn't need to go any further, but the author did anyway. The Epilogue really threw the story for a major loop. Next book doesn't feature Alex, so it will be interesting to see if the QUESTION is answered or not.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

ARC #Review - Future Lost by Elizabeth Briggs #YALit #Science #Fiction

Series: Future Shock # 3
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

It’s been a year since Elena Martinez and her boyfriend Adam first got involved with Aether Corporation, and they’re trying to move on with their lives. But when Adam goes missing, Elena realizes that he’s done the unthinkable: he went to Aether for help developing his cure for cancer. Adam betrayed her trust and has traveled into the future, but he didn’t come back when he was supposed to. Desperate to find him, Elena decides to risk future shock, and time travels one more time. This future is nothing like they’ve seen before. Someone has weaponized Adam’s cure and created a dangerous pandemic, leading to the destruction of civilization. If Elena can’t find Adam and stop this, everyone is at risk. And someone will do anything to keep her from succeeding.

Future Lost, by author Elizabeth Briggs, is the third and final installment in the author's Future Shock trilogy. Elena Martinez thought she was done with time traveling, Aether Corp., and Project Chronos. She thought she and Adam could finally settle down and live an ordinary life. Well, not so ordinary when Adam is supposed to be the one whose Genicote will eventually cure cancer if it doesn't kill people who don't have the dreaded disease first.  

Genicote has become Adam's obsession to the point where it has become an addiction which leads to him doing really stupid things and hoping Elena won't figure out what really happened. Elena always knows when something is wrong. She's been to the future 4 times. She has seen 4 different paths her life might take. She has lost friends (Trent & Zoe) and she has made new friends with Zahra, Paige, and Ken who were Team Echo. Does she always make the right choices? No, but what's the fun of having a character who is perfect all the time?

When Adam goes missing, Elena realizes that he’s done the unthinkable: he went to Aether, Vincent Sharp, for help developing his cure for cancer. The same Vincent who promised that Elena's slate was clean and they wouldn't be used by Aether again. Adam, however, persuades Vincent to send him to the future so he can figure out how to make his genicote safe. Adam betrayed her trust and has traveled into the future. 

But, after not returning when he was supposed to, Elena decides to risk future shock, and time travels one more time into the future. This future is nothing like they’ve seen before. The future has literally become a dystopian nightmare with infected people acting like zombies. Here there are infected cities, & militias, & quarantine zones. Here Elena learns from future Paige that Adams's so called cure has been turned into a nightmare called the Black Friday Virus.

I won't mention those who were responsible for the virus release or what happens to certain characters in this dystopian future. You can find out for yourselves by reading the book. As the global pandemic spread, some people have found that they are immune to the virus. But, if Elena can’t find Adam and stop this pandemic from happening, everyone is at risk. For readers, this means a whole helluva lot of time traveling from various points in the future and the present. Literally, ever other part is either from the present, or the future.

This means that Elena has to once again put her life on the line because Adam does things that you want to kick him in the balls for and leave him on the side of the road. But, for the first time, Elena realizes she's not a superwoman who can do everything all at once. She needs her friends. She also needs to be able to trust Adam won't continue to betray her and go out and cause even more problems. I'm going to explain my rating briefly. It's all about the ending. An ending that left me barely able to write a review, let alone express my opinion over how the author ends this series. Let's just say that beware reader for surprising and shocking twists!

Friday, March 23, 2018

ARC #Review - In Her Skin by Kim Savage #YALit #Thrillers

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense

Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine. 

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.

Kim Savage's In Her Skin follows in the footsteps of After the Woods and Beautiful Broken Girls. Protagonist Jolene Chastain is about to take on the biggest con job of her life. Jo learned everything she knows about being a con from her own mother. But, after her mother was murdered by the Last One, as she calls him, she high tails it out of Florida and lands in Boston. Homeless, living on the streets with her prostitute boyfriend Wolf, Jo decides to take on the identity of a girl named Vivienne Weir who disappeared when she was 9 years old. 

Everyone is a mark in Jo's world. From the Police Social Worker, to the Boston Detective who was part of the original investigation into Vivienne's disappearance, to Henry and Clarissa Lovecraft who are given custody to the girl who now calls herself Vivienne. But, there is one person the con may not work on. That person is 16-year old Temple Lovecraft who knew Vivienne when they were children and may know what really happened to Vivi. Jo attempts to live by several important rules. "Stay in character, even when no one is looking & never forget what you claim."

But, given the opportunity to finally have a family, a home of her own, and perhaps a future that doesn't lead to her dying at an early age on the streets, Jo plays the part of Vivienne as though she was born to it. The problem is that the Lovecraft's, especially Temple, are way more than they put forward to the public. Temple has a very dark side that I won't spoil. But, needless to say, you must pay attention to the nuisances and hints that the author leaves behind for you, the reader. 

As a reader, you start to ask important questions: What really happened to Vivienne Weir while her parents were next door? Does the Lovecraft family have anything to do with her disappearance? Did Jo walk into a situation that will end up getting her disappeared? Or, will Temple discover the truth behind Jo and turn the con upside down?This is also an odd way to tell the story. It appears as though Jo is telling the story to Temple, and not the actual reader. Bizarre and twisted I have to admit. This is a story that is a bit on the unsettling side, with enough foreshadowing to keep you reading until the twisted ending that still has me muttering to myself.   

"A Death blow is a Life blow to Some
Who till they died, did not alive become
Who had they lived, had died but when
They died, Vitality begun." Emily Dickinson

Friday #Review- Glitter and Gold: A Canary Club Anthology by Sherry D. Ficklin

Series: Canary Club Prequel
Format: Kindle, 178 pages
Release Date: March 23, 2017
Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing
Source: Amazon Freebie
Genre: Fiction / Romance / Historical 

Set during the flamboyant anything-goes era of 1920's America, these three tales are filled with intriguing characters and rich imagery from the time period—with flappers, jazz music, gangsters, and lavish wealth. Escape to a different decade today with the compelling stories of the Canary Club Anthology.

Glitter and Gold, by author Sherry Ficklin, is the prequel to the author's Canary Club series. This is an anthology with three separate stories. This series is set during the 1920's Prohibition where alcohol was supposedly banned from 1920 thru 1933 thanks to the Volstead Act, aka the 18th Amendment. Let's also not forget that it is set in NYC where things really were wild during the early 19th century.

Novelette 1- Gilded Cage - Overage rating 3.5

Masie Schultz, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious bootlegger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis. Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father's empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved, Vincent Coll, has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family's dangerous secrets, Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future—and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making. ++ Pay attention to the secondary characters in this story like JD, who is Masie's brother, and June West, who is JD's girl. Both will appear again in this anthology. Masie will also appear in the full length story called "The Canary Club."

Novelette 2- All That Glitters - Overall rating 3.5

A dame with brains, moxie, and killer curves, June West isn't your average flapper. She's managed to endear herself to the son of one of the most powerful gangsters in New York, JD Schultz, earning herself a spot in the limelight that she's always longed for. With the infamous playboy at her side, June has become accustomed to living the high life. Lavish parties, expensive clothes, sparkling jewels—nothing is beyond her reach. But when her carefully woven web of lies finally catches up with her, she must make an impossible choice… come clean about her past and risk losing everything, or find a way to bury her demons—once and for all. **Pretty good story, especially since June is a Jersey girl who hid her real ancestry from everyone. 

Novelette 3 - Nothing Gold 3.0

Dickey Lewis has been down on his luck since the day he was born. Flat broke and sick of being looked down on, he meets young socialite named Lillian Rose at a wild party. The connection is like a strike of lightning. From a wealthy New York family, this debutante is everything he's been told he can never have—and the only thing he wants. Determined to win her, he knows the only way to get her parents approval is with cold hard cash. So when a shot at the biggest score of his life comes around, he just can't refuse…**This is the most heartbreaking story of the three. Dickie is put through so much. Here is also where we meet the male protagonist of the Canary Club along with Maisie Schultz. 

**Currently FREE for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo**

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday #Review - Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Numair Chronicles, The (#1)
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Random House BYR
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy

Discover the origin story of one of the realm’s most powerful mages in the first book in the Numair Chronicles.

Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness—and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day—soon—he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.
Story Locale: Carthak, medieval fantasy country near Tortall

Tempests and Slaughter is the first installment in author Tamora Pierce's The Numair ChroniclesIn the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never before
told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Readers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies. This story takes place between 435 & 439 HE. 

Most, if not all of the story, takes place in the Carthaki Empire, The Imperial University of Carthak which is the home to the School for Mages. As the story opens, 10 year old Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness and for attracting trouble. After making a stunning feat with water, Arram finds that he is suddenly being pushed forward ahead of his much older classmates.

At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Prince Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions and a hatred for people from a certain ethnicity. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie. In the meanwhile, he gets to experience a one on one instruction with Masters which is unheard of. 

The story takes Arram on a magical journey where he will be pushed to become the best he can be while also exploring his own feelings about romance, slavery, and politics. He begins as a nobody, but by the end, he has already advanced to the most important level a mage can reach. As Arram becomes more comfortable in his abilities, he has the opportunity to help heal gladiators of their injuries and to assist the poor when there’s a major outbreak of the plague. I must say that the final third of this story is bloody brilliant, especially when Arram is spending time at a Gladiator contest.

I haven't yet read the Immortal series, but I hope to. I had no idea going into this book who Arram Draper or Numair Salmalin was. He may have slipped my mind in reality. I guess that is a good thing since I can see his origination story and then go from here once this series is finished; if I live that long. From the onset, Arram is one of the youngest characters who attends the School of Mages. But, Arram isn't Harry Potter. While he is talented enough to apparently become a big deal, he doesn't have a magical past with an evil overlord who left an indelible scar on his head for all to see.

Would I recommend this book? When it comes to a point that I don't recommend a Tamora Pierce novel, it will be time to quit reading. 

Chapter 1
August 30–September 1, 435
The Imperial Coliseum, Thak City, The Carthaki Empire
Arram Draper hung on the rail of the great arena, hoisting himself until his belly was bent over the polished stone. It was the only way he could get between the two bulky men who blocked his view. He knew it was risky, but he couldn’t waste his first chance to see the gladiators when they marched into the huge stadium. His father and grandfather were back at their seats, arguing about new business ventures. They weren’t paying attention, waving him off when he asked to visit the privies and never realizing he’d squirmed his way down to the rail instead.
Apart from them, he was alone. There were no friends from school for company. They all said he was too young. He was eleven—well, ten, in truth, but he told them he was eleven. Even that didn’t earn him friends among his older schoolfellows. Still, he wasn’t a baby! If he didn’t see the games with his family today, he might never get the chance, and he’d learned only last night he might not see Papa again for two years, even three. Carthak was a costly voyage for Yusaf Draper, and his new venture would take him away for a long time. But in the morning, Arram would be able to tell the older students that he had watched the games right from the arena wall!
Already he’d heard the trumpets and drums announcing the arrival of the emperor and his heirs. He couldn’t see their faces, but surely all the sparkling gold, silver, and gems meant the wearers were part of the imperial family. He could see the Grand Crier, who stood on a platform halfway between him and the royals. More important, he could plainly hear the man’s booming voice as he announced the emperor’s many titles and those of his heirs.
“Lookit!” The bruiser on Arram’s left bumped him as he pointed north, to the emperor’s dais. Arram wobbled and might have pitched headfirst onto the sands twenty feet below if the man on his other side hadn’t caught him by the belt and hauled him inside the rail. Without appearing to notice Arram’s near fall, the man on the left went on to say, “There’s the widow, and her son! She never comes to games!”
“Who’s the widow?” Arram asked. “Who’s the son?”
The big men grinned at each other over his head. “For all you’re a brown boy, you don’t know your imperials,” said the one who had bumped him. “The widow is Princess Mahira, that was married to Prince Apodan.”
“He was killed fightin’ rebels two year back,” the other man said. “An’ the boy is Prince Ozorne.”
Now Arram remembered. Ozorne was a year or two ahead of him in the Lower Academy.
From the podium, the crier bellowed that the emperor would bless the games. Everyone thundered to their feet and then hushed. His voice amplified, most likely by a mage, the emperor prayed to the gods for an excellent round of games. When he finished, everyone sat.
For a very long moment the arena was still. Then the boy felt a slow, regular thudding rise through the stone and up his legs. His body shuddered against the railing. Nearby, in the wall that took up a third of the southern end of the arena, huge barred gates swung inward.
Here came drummers and trumpeters, clad only in gold-trimmed scarlet loincloths. Their oiled bodies gleamed as brightly as the polished metal of their instruments. The brawny men represented every race of the empire in the colors of their skin and hair and the tattoos on their faces and bodies. One thing they had in common: iron slave rings around their throats.
Arram rubbed his own throat uneasily. His original home, Tyra, was not a slave country. Three years in Carthak had not made him comfortable with the practice, not when there were no slaves at his school. He saw them only when he was outside, and the sight of them made him edgy.
The leader of the musicians raised his staff. The trumpeters let loose a blare that made Arram jump, almost tipping him over the rail. The men caught him again.
“You’re best off at your seat,” the friendly one advised. “Ain’t your mamma callin’ yeh?”
“I’m eleven,” Arram lied. “I don’t need a mother—I’m a student at the School for Mages!”
The men’s laughter was drowned out by a thunder of drumrolls. Arram gave the sands what he called his special, magical squint. Now he saw waves of spells all over the arena floor. They sent ripples through the air, carrying the arena’s noise even to the people in the seats high above.
“Why do they allow spells on the arena sand?” he shouted at the friendlier of the two men. As far as he knew, magic was forbidden here. Perhaps they allowed only their own magic, just as they allowed the emperor’s magic.
“What spells?” the man bellowed. He reached over Arram’s head and tapped his friend as the musicians marched past. “The lad thinks there’s magic on the sands!”
The other roughneck looked down his flattened nose at Arram. A couple of scars on his face told the boy he may have come by that nose in fighting. “What’re you, upstart?” he growled. “Some kind of mage?”
“Of course I am!” Arram retorted. “Didn’t you hear me say I’m in the School for Mages?”
“He’s simple,” the friendlier man said. “Leave ’im be. Who’re you bettin’ on?”
The other man seized Arram by the collar and lifted him into the air. “If you’re a mage, spell me, then,” he growled. “Turn me into somethin’, before I break yer skinny neck for botherin’ us.”
“Don’t be stupid!” Arram cried. His mind, as always, had fixed on the question of magic. “Only a great mage can turn a person into something else! Even—”
His foe choked off Arram’s next comment—that he might never be a great mage—by turning his fist to cut off the boy’s voice entirely. “Stupid, am I?” he shouted, his eyes bulging. “You moneyed little piece of tripe—”
Arram might have corrected him concerning the state of his pocketbook, but he couldn’t breathe and had finally remembered a teacher’s advice: “You don’t make friends when you tell someone you think he is stupid.” He was seeing light bursts against a darkening world. He called up the first bit of magic he’d ever created, after a walk on a silk carpet brought flame to his fingers. He drew that magic from the sands and seized the fist on his collar.
The tough yelped and released Arram instantly. “You! What did you do to me?”
Arram couldn’t answer. He hit the rail and went over backward, arms flailing.