Monday, April 30, 2018

ARC #Review - Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Standalone 
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

In this stunning debut, a young Viking warrior must challenge everything she's been taught in order to survive and protect those she loves.
A lush and vivid debut that is part Wonderwoman part Vikings and all action and heart.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, god-decreed rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: train to fight and fight to survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Eelyn loses her focus and is captured. Now, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan settling in the valley, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who tried to kill her the day she was captured. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and find a way to forgive her brother while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Sky in the Deep is the debut novel by author Adrienne Young. The story is steep in old Scandinavian & Viking tropes. There is plenty of violence, clan warfare, and one girl's curiosity that leads her to discovering that someone she thought was long dead, is actually alive and living with the hated Iri clan. 17-year old Eelyn is a member of the Aska Clan. She fights with a sword and an ax alongside her best friend Myra. Her clan has been fighting against the hated Riki Clan every 5 years for as long as she can remember. The clans honor two separate deities; Sigr and Thora. 

Aska worships Sigr, who represents the water and the sea, while the Riki worships Thora, who represents mountains and fire. 5 years ago, Eelyn lost her brother Iri and has struggled to pick up the pieces and become one of the best warriors of her clan. As the story opens, we witness the fighting between the two clans. A fight that sees Eelyn abandon her clan and run after what appears to be a ghost of her brother. It ends with Eelyn being kidnapped by the Riki and taken to their village where she becomes a slave to her captor, Fiske. Facing a winter alone without any support, Eelyn has to find her inner courage in order to survive and attempt to escape back to her father and clan.

And this is where the story loses me. Not fully since there is an entire new battle to come against an even more dangerous enemy called Herja. But, let's be realistic. Eelyn's time among the Riki is painful to read. They hate her, she hates them, she hates her brother for being a traitor, she hates Fiske for nearly killing her & taking her away from her father and best friend. Eventually Eelyn suffers from the Stockholm Syndrome where she comes to realize the Riki aren't so bad after all (even though they still hate her) and starts to fall for Fiske. She discovers that her brother is actually really happy and not only bound to Fiske and his family, but in love with a Riki healer. Sounds like a soap opera, right?

It was hard for me not to sift through the pages quickly trying to get to the point where the action was. I wanted to like Eelyn as a heroine I can like, but she and the author make is so hard at times. There's more conversational scenes than action. Then, out of the blue, the hated enemy decides to attack the Riki and Aska clans simultaneously. So, now it comes down to Eelyn and Fiske not only uniting the clans, but putting full trust in each other not to stab the other in the back. 

The most curious character in this book just happens to be a child named Halvard who befriends Eelyn and perhaps chisels the ice off her heart. Perhaps there is a message in the book about intolerance, hate, and prejudices even though the clans are in fact, similar. My one disappointment was the relationship between Eelyn and Myra. Myra isn't one to let things go quickly. She isn't one who changes her mind about hating someone just because an even darker enemy is at her doorstep. Shame.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves #281 (Week Ending 04/28/2018)

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!
A little bit of everything this week!
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

 Blog Tour Monday - Dark Queen by Faith Hunter (Urban Fantasy)

Tuesday - Hero at the Fall by Alywan Hamilton (YA, Fantasy)

Thursday - Nightblade's Vengeance by Ryan Kirk (Historical, Fiction)

 Friday - Obsidio by Kaufman/Kristoff (YA, SyFy)

Saturday - Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D VIA NetGalley & Amazon

Friday, April 27, 2018

ARC #Review - Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Ash Princess (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess—a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
Story Locale: fictional Kingdom of Astrea

"I will not anger the Kaiser and he will keep me alive." Theodosia 

Ash Princess is the first installment in debut author Laura Sebastian's Ash Princess trilogy. 16-year old Theodosia Eirene Housara is the main protagonist for this series. When she was 6-years old, her country was invaded and conquered quickly by Kalovaxians. The Kalovaxians executed the Queen, who just happened to be Theo's mother, took away Theo's name and title, & renamed her Thora or the Ash Princess. 

Thora is a clear reminder for her people that the Kaiser defeated them quickly, and he can do anything he chooses to continue to enslave them. Thora refuses to make any waves. She takes lashings every time one of her people, Astreans', rebels or fights back against the tyrannical rule of the Kaiser. She believes that if she angers the Kaiser, he will no longer have any use for her and kill her. Theo's body shows the signs of torture she has faced for the past 10 years. 

How anyone is able to continue to live through such mental and emotional abuse is one of the reasons I choose to keep my review where it is. Theo must wear an Ash crown every time there is an important event she is forced to attend. Even though she is the rightful Queen of Astrea, Thora has pretty much given up hope that anyone will save her. That is until she is forced to kill one of the last people in the world she thought would be able to save her from her imprisonment, and the boy from her past who she had lost all hope of ever seeing again.

Theo's only friend is Crescentia. But, Cress's father isn't innocent of what happened to Theo or her Kingdom. While their relationship is the only thing that really gives Theo hopes of continuing to breathe, it's not something one should hang their hat on. Ash Princess has the most obviously love triangle you can find in any book. There is Theo's childhood friend and first love Blaise, and then there's Søren, the boy who will one day be Kaiser. There is no such thing as the perfect romance. It is what comes when the final page of the series is turned and the protagonist chooses who she wants to spend her HEA with. 

This is a curious land. It is a land where Spiritgems used to be sacred things, before Astrea was conquered by the Kalovaxians who thought they could use them for power and magic. The gems came from the caves that ran beneath the four major temples— one for each of the four major gods and goddesses of fire, air, water, and earth. Before the siege, the devout would spend years in the cave of the god or goddess they swore allegiance to. Now, the Kalovaxians use the Spiritgems as fashion accessories and to show their status in this society while Theo's people slave away in deep caves.

We've all read this sort of story before (Red Queen, An Ember in the Ashes), and we'll read it again because the Young Adult Fantasy genre is red hot right now according to most publishers you talk to. It is a story about a girl who loved her Kingdom, her mother, her status, and her reason for living until it was abruptly taken away from her. Girl chooses to fight back for her Kingdom using the resources at hand. A prince who would be Kaiser, a former best friend who is still alive, and Astrean Guardians who know she is the true Queen of the land.

Oh yes, let's add this to ensure I cover all the bases: 

Trigger/Content Warnings for racism, enslaving humans, abuse, torture, graphic beating, humiliation, captivation, gore, murder, death, loss of a loved one, bullying, talk of rape in the past, talk of animal murder in the past, sexual assault (unwanted touching), and rebellion/war themes. 

Series Overview: Spring 2018: Ash Princess (Bk 1); Spring 2019: Lady Smoke (Bk 2); Spring 2020: Ember Queen (Bk 3)

I turn to see Crescentia barreling toward me down the gilded palace hallway, pink silk skirts lifted as she runs and a broad grin spread across her lovely face.
Her two maids struggle to keep up with her, their emaciated frames drowning in homespun dresses.
Don’t look at their faces, don’t look, I tell myself. Nothing good ever comes of looking, of seeing their dull eyes and hungry mouths. Nothing good ever comes of seeing how much they look like me, with their tawny skin and dark hair. It only makes the voice in my head grow louder. And when the voice grows loud enough to push past my lips, the Kaiser grows angry.
I will not anger the Kaiser and he will keep me alive. This is the rule I’ve learned to follow.
I focus on my friend. Cress makes everything easier. She wears her happiness like the sun’s rays, radiating it to warm those around her. She knows I need it more than most, so she doesn’t hesitate to fall into step next to me and link our arms tightly. 
She is free with her affection in a way only a few blessed people can be; she has never loved someone and lost them. Her effortless, childlike beauty will stay with her until she is an old woman, all dainty features and wide crystalline eyes that have seen no horrors. Pale blond hair hangs in a long braid pulled over her shoulder, studded with dozens of Spiritgems that wink in the sunlight pouring through the stained-glass windows.
I can’t look at the gems either, but I feel them all the same: a gentle pull beneath my skin, drawing me toward them, offering me their power if I’ll only take it. But I won’t. I can’t. Spiritgems used to be sacred things, before Astrea was conquered by the Kalovaxians.
The gems came from the caves that ran beneath the four major temples— one for each of the four major gods and goddesses of fire, air, water, and earth. The caves were the center of their powers, so drenched in magic that the gems inside them took on magic of their own. Before the siege, the devout would spend years in the cave of the god or goddess they swore allegiance to. There, they would worship their deity, and if they were worthy, they would be blessed, imbued with their god’s or goddess’s power. They then used their gifts to serve Astrea and its people as Guardians.
Back then there weren’t many who weren’t chosen by the gods— a handful a year, maybe. Those few went mad and died shortly after. It was a risk only the truly devout took. Being a Guardian was a calling— an honor— yet everyone understood what was at stake. That was a lifetime ago. Before. 
After the siege, the Kaiser had the temples destroyed and sent tens of thousands of enslaved Astreans to the caves to mine the gems. Living so close to the power of the gods is no longer a choice people make, but one that is made for them. There is no calling or allegiance sworn, and because of that, most people who are sent to the mines quickly lose their minds and, shortly after, their lives.
And all that so the wealthy can pay a fortune to cover themselves in gems without even uttering the names of the gods. It’s sacrilege to us, but not to the Kalovaxians. They don’t believe. And without the blessing of the gods—without the time spent deep in the earth—they can possess only a shadow of a true Guardian’s power, no matter how many gems they wear, which is plenty for most of them. The Water Gems in Cress’s braid could give a trained Guardian the power to craft an illusion strong enough to create a new face entirely, but for Cress they only lend her skin a glow, her lips and cheeks a pretty flush, her golden hair a shine.
Beauty Gems, the Kalovaxians call them now.
“My father sent me a book of poems from Lyre,” she tells me. Her voice grows tense, as it always does when she speaks of her father, the Theyn, with me. “We should take it up to the pavilion and translate it. Enjoy the sun while we still have it.”
“But you don’t speak Lyrian,” I say, frowning. Cress has a knack for languages and literature, two things her father has never had the patience for. As the Kaiser’s best warrior and the head of his army, the Theyn understands battle and weaponry, strategy and bloodshed, not books and poetry, but he tries for her sake. Cress’s mother died when Cress was only a baby, so the Theyn is all she has left by way of family.
“I’ve picked up a few phrases here and there,” she says, waving a hand dismissively. “But my father had the poet translate some so I can puzzle out the rest. You know how my father enjoys his puzzles.” 
She glances sideways at me to see my reaction, but I’m careful not to give one.
I’m careful not to imagine Cress’s father pressing his dagger to a poor scrawny poet’s neck as he hunches over his work, or the way he held it to my mother’s so long ago. I don’t think of the fear in her eyes. Her hand in mine. Her voice, strong and clear even then. 
No, I don’t think of that. I’ll go mad if I do. 
“Well, we’ll solve them quickly, between the two of us,” I tell her with a smile, hoping she believes it. 
Not for the first time, I wonder what would happen if I didn’t suppress a shudder when she mentioned her father. If I didn’t smile and pretend he wasn’t the same man who killed my mother. I like to believe Cress and I have been friends long enough that she would understand, but that kind of trust is a luxury I don’t have. 

Friday #Review - Obsidio by Amie Kaufman Jay Kristoff #YA #Science Fiction

Series: The Illuminae Files (#3)
Format: Hardcover, 624 pages
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? 

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Series Overview: Each book focuses on two new teens (a male/female) experiencing a different aspect of the same invasion.

"Live a life worth dying for."

Obsidio is the third and final installment in co-authors Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff's The Illuminae Files. Obsidio introduces two new characters—Asha Grant and Rhys Lindstrom—while bringing back characters from the previous books, Kady Grant, Ezra Mason, Hanna Donnelly, Niklas Malikov, Ella Malikova, and of course, AIDAN.  I will begin by summarizing where we are in this series. Obsidio begins on the planet of Kerenza IV where the series began with a major invasion by BeiTech. A planet that once had 18,000 people living there. Not anymore. 

The planet is being occupied by BeiTech's who has decimated the population of Kerenza IV. Those who are still alive, are only alive because they are worthy of being alive. Here is where things get interesting. No spoilers deal? So, Asha Grant is Kady Grant's cousin who isn't supposed to be alive. But she is. She's a member of the planet's underground resistance who is trying to prevent BeiTech from gather enough Hermium to leave the planet and killing anyone left alive from getting word about the atrocities committed on the planet. (If you have read this series, you know that there is something happening in the background that ties into this very subject.) Asha and her resistance have done their best to take retaliatory action against those who have destroyed their planet, their friends and loves ones.

Rhys is on the wrong side of this war. He is part of the BeiTech's Mobile Jump Platform Magellan who ends up on the planet fixing things that need to be fixed. To make things even more twisted, Rhys just happens to know who Asha is. Again, no spoilers. Just the way of things that must be discussed. The relationship between Asha and Rhys is anything but sociable. In fact, it's cold as ice. If Asha could kill someone just by looking at them, Rhys would clearly be a short lived character. Rhys has to make a choice. He has to choose what side he is on. He has to choose to trust someone who in all likelihood hates his guts. He has to make a stand when the war comes knocking on his door knowing that if he goes against those he is serving with, it is likely they will all be dead soon. 

On the other side of the galaxy, the crew and civilians onboard Hypathia, including Kady & Ezra, are exhausted, beaten down, grieving, and full of rage. To make matters worse, they are about ready to get a whole lot more uncomfortable with the arrival of the Betty Boop with Hannah, Nik and Ella onboard, as well as the Mao, with the Heimdall survivors aboard, which will become their new home seeing as there are way too many people for the Hyathia to hold. Kady, who has received a promotion from the ship's Captain, remains my favorite character through the three books in this series. She's brilliant, has saved thousands of people with her actions, and her curious relationship with AIDAN, keeps things interesting as well as twisted. Her relationship with Ezra is in a good place, but they know that they are not fully out of the frying pan just left. They know that it's only a matter of time before their enemy catches up with them.

Not to be left behind, Hannah is also a heroine in her own right after saving a whole lot of people from the Heimdall jump station. Hannah is also grieving having lost her own father, but that doesn't mean that she will forget everything she's been trained to do. Hannah is a fighter. She has inner strength and durability to do things others wouldn't or haven't thought about doing. One could also say the same for Asha when you get to the point of how she ended up surviving for this long. Unlike Kady and Ezra, Hannah still holds back with it comes to Nik. Not to say that their relationship is like Asha and Rhys, but it isn't one with a whole lot of romantic interludes.

I love my little spider girl Ella. She's got an attitude that she can easily back up with snark, sarcasm, humor, and being the best hacker among the survivors. Plus, I adored her relationship with Kady's father, Isaac Grant the only parent to have survived this long.
I'm not sure how to express my feelings about Aidan and what happens in this book. If I were to say anything without spoiling the book for you, I would say that he isn't without a huge amount of twisted idealism that leads to the most disturbing scenes in the book. I will say that he has one positive; he is fiercely protective of Kady, and perhaps he may even love her in his own way. Every story needs a monster. And the monster is most definitely Aidan. 

The authors once again tell their story via Instant Messages, Briefing Notes, Officer Memorandums, Intercepted Personal Messages, Surveillance Footage, and the banter between Kady and AIDAN (Artificial Intelligence Defense Analysis Network). Marie Lu is back to do new journal illustrations, adding additional star power to a stand out novel. This is a series that walks the same path as 2001: A Space Odyssey, and other science fiction masterpieces. Probably why it has been so eagerly picked up by Brad Pitt's production company.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

ARC #Review - Nightblade's Vengeance by Ryan Kirk #Fantasy #Historical

Series: Blades of the Fallen # 1
Format: E-Book, 336 pages
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Publisher: 47North
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Historical

In a thrilling fantasy series from the author of the Nightblade novels, revenge becomes a quest for a young female warrior.

In a feudal land, a Kingdom is at risk. With no heir to the fragile throne, its future rests with the powerful members of the dying king’s Council, including Minori, a nightblade warrior, and Kiyoshi, a dayblade healer. The two men are bound by the sword but divided by two opposing principles: rule the land, or serve it. In their challenge for supremacy, a spark has been lit.

Her name is Asa. Her creed is revenge.

A fierce nightblade warrior, she’s spent a decade in pursuit of the enigmatic general who killed her father in a violent revolt—then mysteriously vanished from all records. Now, her desire for reckoning has led her to the village of Two Falls—and straight into the heart of an impending civil war. Minori and Kiyoshi are vying for her loyalty. And Asa must choose sides.

As fresh betrayals unfold and a new uprising looms, Asa knows that chasing a ghost is no longer just a personal quest for retribution. It’s going to alter the fate of the entire Kingdom.

Nightblade's Vengeance is the first installment in author Ryan Kirk's Blades of the Fallen series. Ryan Kirk is also the author of the Nightblade trilogy which I have not read nor do I think it matters if you do or you don't. Set in a world that I am pretty sure is Japan during the Feudal Era, powerful Nightblades (who I am calling Samurai), and Lords (who I am calling Daimyo) play a dangerous game to see who will reign supreme and lead the Kingdom. The story is actually told through the eyes of three very distinct characters, but what happens in the beginning of the book, will stay with readers throughout.

If you ignore the beginning, you will miss the reason for the current state of the Kingdom and the Nightblades. Asa is a Nightblade who is on a mission of vengeance. She has lost her entire family, and now hunts the man who is responsible for killing her father 20 years ago in a place called Two Falls. As a Nightblade, Asa feels what others can't see. We won't call it the force folks. The author calls it Sense. Nightblades tend to be able to sense events at a distance, or they can predict an opponent's next movement, or they can walk into a village without being seen. Blades are almost mystic in their status. Nightblades are supposed to keep the peace, but history has a tendency of repeating itself over and over again because humans never learn from their mistakes and the Kingdom is on the cusp of war. 

As for Asa, one could tell her when searching for vengeance, she should dig two graves, but I don't think that would have mattered one bit. Asa is so driven for revenge, that she gets careless at times, and really isn't all that hot when it comes to fighting against much quicker and skilled fighters. Thanks to a directive by the Council of Blades, Asa has unlimited access to records, and has been given the approval to kill the man who was responsible for betraying her father 20 years ago. When Asa finally meets the man who killed her father, will she have the strength to finish the job? And if she does, what's next for her?

But, this isn't only Asa's story as much as I would have preferred it to be. There are two other characters that matter just as much. Minori is a Nightblade who knows that the Blades are being targeted by the Lords. His mission is to regain the power that has been taken from the Nightblades even if that means working with the devil himself. Through some interesting twists and manuevors, Minori finds himself vying to deceive and control those who may become the next King of the Kingdom. Minori is thought to be a brilliant strategist and specialist, but even he finds that he may be in over his head.

The last character to mention is Kiyoshi. Kiyoshi is a Dayblade, which means that he can heal, but he is a whole lot more to him. He wants to ensure that the Nightblades continue to serve the Kingdom, and not go their own way like they tried to do 20 years ago. He happens to be the only person capable of keeping King Masaki alive which also makes him a target of opportunity for the Lords scrambling to take over.

But, there is so much more than meets the eye test. I especially liked his colleague Daisuke who is probably the most interesting Nightblade outside of another Nightblade named Koji. (I won't speak on Koji in this book since he is more of less a tertiary character. You'll see lots more of him in the sequel.) I was happily entrenched in this book because I love the Feudal history of Japan, as well as the Samurai. 

There are so many correlations between this book and that era, that you can close your eyes and imagine that you are right there in the muck and the blood and the battles and the power plays. I liked the fact that the Nightblades are no longer considered to be immortal. I know that part of the blame for this lies in politics, and part lies in blackmail, murder, and vindictive Nightblades who take and take till there's nothing left. I dare say that I am hoping for more of Asa and Daisuke. I think there is a whole lot that he can teach her, including patience, and choosing where her path will lead her. While there is a fair amount of mystery and intrigue, I would have like to have the author use Asa's beauty as a crutch. Plus, she is the only Nightblade that a lead character position.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ARC #Review - Ghost Slayer by Majanka Verstraete #Paranormal #Romance

Series: Ghost Slayer # 1
Format: E-Book, 257 pages 
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Source: NetGalley
Genre: New Adult / Paranormal / Romance

Twenty-one-year-old Kaelyn has spent half her life hunting ghosts and killing them. But she's not like the other ghost hunters who have to rely on spells and curses to banish ghosts back to where they came from, hoping that they don't come back. When Kaelyn kills a ghost, they stay dead.

But in Mortimer Hall, a behemoth of a house, Kaelyn is about to face the most powerful Twenty-one-year-old Kaelyn has spent half her life hunting ghosts and killing them. But she's not like the other ghost hunters who have to rely on spells and curses to banish ghosts back to where they came from, hoping that they don't come back. When Kaelyn kills a ghost, they stay dead.

But in Mortimer Hall, a behemoth of a house, Kaelyn is about to face the most powerful and life-threatening ghost she ever met, and what she doesn't know is that the ghost has been waiting just for her...  

Ghost Slayer is the first installment in author Majanka Verstraete's Ghost Slayer series. The story really starts out wonderfully. Kaelyn is on a job trying to get rid of a 19th century ghost who has killed several people. Why should I care, you ask? Because when Kaelyn gets a job, she does what she is paid to do; remove ghosts permanently. The other curiosity is her relationship with her mother. No, I am not going to spoil it for you.

I will say that they've moved plenty of times over the course of the past 10 years. They travel from town to town removing maleficent ghosts. But, Kaelyn also has plenty of issues outside of her attending college for parapsychology and other courses. The first issue is one Alex Miller who she was once smitten with and returns to her life asking for assistance with an exorcism. The second issue is that she is about to take a field trip to one of the most haunted houses in existence; Mortimer Hall. Mortimer Hall has a long history of accidents, deaths, and mayhem. 

As a ghost slayer, Kaelyn is sensitive to ghosts. But, that won't prevent her from stopping what's coming her way. It won't stop Alex from re-entering her life with a shocking secret that really explains Kaelyn's history before this story even opened. There is no complicated world building. There are, however, a rather large cast of characters. From Kaelyn's professor who carries a rather large secret, to her best friend who has no clue what she is, to Kaelyn's fellow students who could wind up as cannon fodder if she doesn't do her job.

So, the book starts out quickly, fades to mediocrity, and then rushes towards the ending in a breakneck pace. Oh, and the ending leaves no doubt that this isn't a standalone, and that if you are full invested in this story, you should also be prepared to carry on to the sequel. The story is a bit on the creepy and dark side, that I will admit. However, I could have done without the whole romance angle that just seemed to come out of the blue and added nothing to the story itself. I loved the gothic setting of Mortimer Hall. Add to it the plethora of ghosts, and one disturbingly powerful ghost who seems to not only know Kaelyn, but is 5 steps ahead of her.

Will I read the sequel? Sure why not? After all, there is a huge storyline that is still be be wrapped up and I'd like to see what happens next after Kaelyn's trip to Mortimer Hall opened her eyes to her own past. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday #Review - Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Rebel of the Sands (#3)
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The breathless finale to the New York Times bestselling Rebel of the Sands series will have you on the edge of your seat until the dust from the final battle clears!

When gunslinging Amani Al’Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she’d join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn’t have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn’t exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

Hero at the Fall is the third and final installment in author Alwyn Hamilton's Rebel of the Sands Trilogy. This story begins right where Traitor of the Throne left off. After a twisted turn of events at the end of the previous story, Amani Al’Hiza aka the Blue-Eyed Bandit, is one of the few remaining rebels not in captivity. She has become the de facto leader of the rebellion, but she would rather have someone else in charge, like her friend Shazad or Ahmed, so she can do what she does best.

Word has spread that the Rebel Prince has fallen, and hope is quickly fleeting with the invading Gallan army approaching quickly. But, Amani knows the truth and so does the remaining rebellion. He's been captured and sent to place where it is virtually impossible to get into, let alone escape. To make things worse, she, along with Jin, Prince of Miraji, Hala, Izz, & Maz are unable to leave the city of Izman due to a protected dome. Amani and her group make some interesting choices in this first part of the story. Choices that lead to a curious alliance which I won't spoil.

They need to find a way to get to Eremont and rescue their fellow rebels. They need to find a way to stand against the Gallan who are are close to taking over their country and their way of life. They need to find an army to march to the gates of Miraji and take back their kingdom from a Sultan who has gone too far into the deep end of the pool. They need to find a way how to release the Djinni being kept as hostages for Leyla's experiments. And, they need Ahmed and Shazad, the daughter of a General who are keys to winning against the Sultan.

Amani's journey from the beginning has been a twisted one. From a small dead-end village, to becoming the Blue-Eyed Bandit able to hit any target without missing, to learning that she is more than human. She is able to control the sands, and she has fallen in love with a boy who is supposed to be high above her station. She has also found friendship among a group of Rebels who were looking for a new way of living and having control over their own lives. Amani can be selfish, and self-less. She can be fearless and brave and able to find the strength to keep going when others would have given up.

Finale books for me have been hit or miss for a long time now. In this books case, I think the ending was perhaps a bit rushed. Then there was an interesting Epilogue of sorts which gives light to the lives of those we have come to love or hate since the beginning. I have to agree with others. I love the relationship between Amani and Shazad. There is a particular scene that shows home much respect and admiration the two have for each other. Then, of course, there is the romance between Amani and Jin. Not a fan for awhile, ended up being quietly content with it by the time we get to the end. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Blog Tour / #Review / Giveaway - Dark Queen by Faith Hunter (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Jane Yellowrock # 12
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: ACE/Penguin
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Jane Yellowrock used to hunt vampires, but now she must fight--and win--beside them.

As Enforcer to the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, Jane Yellowrock stakes her reputation and her life on keeping her territory safe. But Leo has been issued a blood challenge by the emperor of the European vampires, who seeks to usurp all of his power and possessions. If Leo loses the match to the death, the city will be forfeit, and the people of New Orleans will suffer the consequences. Jane can't let that happen.

Preparing for the duel requires all of Jane's focus, but with so much supernatural power in play, nothing goes according to plan. She has to rely on herself and the very few people she knows she can trust to stand and fight. Only two things are guaranteed: nothing is sacred, and no one is safe.

Dark Queen is the 12th installment in author Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series. Series overview for those who haven't :::shocked face:: read the series yet. Warning number one: don't think you can jump into this story without having read the previous books in the series. Doesn't work, and there is so much that has happened that you will be utterly confused and disappointed. Second, this is an urban fantasy series featuring shapeshifting skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, who both works for vampires and hunts them in the city of New Orleans.

Along with Beast, her constant companion, Jane has made a name for herself as someone not to take lightly. She stands as Enforcer for Leo Pellisier, the Master Vampire of the City of New Orleans, and something else which hasn't been explained. For an extended storyline now, the author has laid the groundwork for what is to come. She has given every opportunity for fans of this series to be ready for anything and everything that can happen. 

This is the book that Jane and her allies, vampires, witches, werewolves, and humans, must stand and fight against the European Vampires who have desired to take control of Leo's territories as well as the entire United States. The so called Sangre Duello will be the highlight of the entire story, but don't ignore the arrival of a shocking new character who arrives and upturns Jane's life. This wouldn't be a Jane Yellowrock story without plenty of action, and mystery. 

Yes, we do get more than our fair share of Beast as well as as past that Jane is only now coming to remember. Yes, we do get more than our fair share of Jane and Bruiser. I am holding my breath trying not to let in spoilers to this review. So far I think I've done okay. Especially since this is part of the books blog tour. Let me say this; be prepared for anything to happen. Be prepared for the return of characters who are new, and old. 

There are characters who are loved, and not so much. By the way, I love the relationship between Molly and Jane. I am happy their issues have been resolved, and yes, Molly is nobody you should mess with. I also love how much respect and love Jane has for her partners/brothers Eli and Alex Younger even the prickly Edmund Hartley has found himself a home with Jane. When I finished this book, I immediately went on Goodreads and posted this. "If someone spoils the ending of this book for anyone, they'll be hell to pay."

Seriously folks. If you've read this book, don't go posting any spoilers. What happens at the end of this book, and to Jane herself and others should be a surprise and let's leave it at that. I'd love to ask the author questions about why she did what she did, but I trust her in that she knows what she's doing. This book is an end of a very long story arc that has seen Jane face her own past, her relationships with best friend Molly, Leo, Edmund, Gee, while forming a wonderful relationship with Bruiser that is much, must more appealing than Jane's previous loser. She has so much more ahead of her that I will be looking forward to the 13th installment.

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BIO – New York Times and USA Today bestselling fantasy author Faith Hunter was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. Altogether she has 40+ books in print under the names Gary Hunter, Gwen Hunter, and Faith Hunter. As Faith, she writes two contemporary Urban Fantasy series: the Jane Yellowrock series, featuring a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires, and the Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. Her Rogue Mage novels are a dark, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. The role playing game based on the series, is ROGUE MAGE, RPG.


Win one of two complete sets of Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock novels! Contest runs April 23rd until May 11th. Rafflecopter code is below:

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