Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday #Review - The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso #YALIT #FANTASY

Series: Swords and Fire # 2
Format: Paperback, 560 pages
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy / Epic

Across the border, the Witch Lords of Vaskandar are preparing for war. But before an invasion can begin, they must call a rare gathering of all seventeen lords to decide a course of action. Lady Amalia Cornaro knows that this Conclave might be her only chance to stifle the growing flames of war, and she is ready to make any sacrifice if it means saving Raverra from destruction.

Amalia and Zaira must go behind enemy lines, using every ounce of wit and cunning they have, to sway Vaskandar from war. Or else it will all come down to swords and fire.

The Defiant Heir, by author Melissa Caruso, is the second installment in the Swords and Fire series. This is a series that is set in a world not unlike Renaissance Venice. Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer, but apparently fate had other ideas. Heiress and scholar of magical theory and a part-time inventor, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations. Two months ago, nobody really knew who Amalia was. She was happy being a bookworm, and being overlooked by everyone.

Then came her eye opening actions in The Tethered Mage which opened the eyes of a whole lot of important people. Now, everyone is paying attention including her mother, La Contessa Lissandra Cornaro, the Council of Nine & Nico da Morante, dage of Raverra, who now considers Amalia to be a player in a game of a much grander scale. With war with neighboring Vaskandar growing increasingly possible after 30 years of peace, high value falcons like vivomancers and artificiers are disappearing at an alarming rate. 

To make matters worse, Amalia and Zaira's names are found on an assassins list along with other high value targets of opportunity. Amalia finds herself given even more responsibilities by the dage. She has to assure her Grandmother, the Queen of Callamore, that the Serene Empire will stand with them no matter what happens. She travels to Vaskandar where she has been invited by Kathe, the Crow Lord, to attend a Conclave where all 17 Witch Lords will determine if there will be war or peace. She has to face adversaries that are beyond dangerous, including The Lady of the Thorns, and Skinwitch Prince Ruven. 

The curious thing about Amalia is the fact that she is not only heir to La Contessa, but is also considered to be a Princess from Callamorne where her father was born and died. In fact, Amalia has the blood of three royal lines, including one in particular in Vaskandar, which makes her indispensable to the efforts to prevent a war. The most curious characters in this story are Crow Lord Kathe who seems intent on courting Amalia as well as other scheming along the way, and the Lady of Eagles, Amalia's great-great grandmother. 

Lady Eagles can be a formidable foe or an unbreakable ally depending on how well Amalia is able to sway enough votes to continue the ongoing peace. I dare say that Amalia's life will never be the same after what she's had to deal with over the course of the past several novels. What is the price for power? Does power give one happiness, or does it come with the harsh reality of making hard choices? When Amalia has to make a life or death choice that will likely take the lives of thousands, she does so knowing that there will be severe fallout & consequences from her decision. And yet, this is what makes her human and a character who I can appreciate. 

I am not really happy by the addition of Kathe to the love triangle, but perhaps it will resolve itself out when all is said and done. Perhaps it is just for political reasons that haven't been fully revealed as yet, perhaps it is a way for Amalia to prove that she has the power and scheming to be on the Council of Nine. I know Amalia has deep feelings for Marcello, but honor prevents her from grasping the brass ring and running with it. I think it is fair to say that Zaira has also come a very long way from the street urchin we met in The Tethered Mage. We see a different relationship between her and Amalia, and between her and Terika, another Falcon. I do hope that we haven't seen the last of cousin Bree who has had to hide who she was until she could no longer keep it a secret. 

Recommended? Absofreakinlutely! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

ARC #Review - LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff #YALit #SyFy

Series: Lifelike # 1
Format: E-Galley, 416 pages
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

From the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Illuminae Files comes the first book in a new series that’s part Romeo and Juliet, part Terminator, and all adrenaline.

On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Seventeen-year-old Eve isn’t looking for trouble—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she spent months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, she’s on the local gangster’s wanted list, and the only thing keeping her grandpa alive is the money she just lost to the bookies. Worst of all, she’s discovered she can somehow destroy machines with the power of her mind, and a bunch of puritanical fanatics are building a coffin her size because of it. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. The problem is, Eve has had a worse day—one that lingers in her nightmares and the cybernetic implant where her memories used to be. Her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel—called a “Lifelike” because they resemble humans—will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic sidekick Cricket in tow, Eve will trek across deserts of glass, battle unkillable bots, and infiltrate towering megacities to save the ones she loves…and learn the truth about the bloody secrets of her past.

"More human than human."

LIFEL1K3, by author Jay Kristoff, is the first installment in the authors Lifelike trilogy. LIFEL1K3 is set in a post-apocalyptic USA. 2 years ago, there was an uprising by a robotic segment of the populace called Lifelike created by a company known as Gnosis Labs. Our main protagonist is 17-year old Eve Carpenter who builds robotic gladiators so she can earn credits to help her sick Grandpa, who is her last remaining family member. As the story opens, she has a streak of winning 8 straight in what's called the Wardome against various robots of various makes and models.

Unfortunately, things go downhill pretty quickly when her gladiator, Miss Combobulations, is destroyed and almost winds up being killed herself; except that she manages to stop the looming robot with the power of her mind and a raging scream. With various factions, including the Brotherhood, the Preacher, and corporations like Daedalus after her, Eve, her bestie Lemon Fresh, Cricket, her robot voice of reasoning, Kaiser, a cyborg dog who is a fierce and protective of Eve, and Ezekiel, a Lifelike who she found in a scrap heap & who may have a history with Eve, end up on a Max Max like action packed adventure back to the place where Eve's story began. 

Eve is an interesting character. She has only one eye. She wears a fauxhawk haircut, and is bloody brilliant when it comes to robotics. Along the way, Eve discovers that her memories may not be all that clear. Not everything is what she has thought it to be. There are pieces of the puzzle missing. It is a journey of discovery, of heartbreak, of family and of making her own choices regardless of how those choices might affect others. Lemon is a wonderful character as well. Quite possibly the best lines in the entire book come from her, including parts when they meet a kraken. I definitely look forward to her next phase in this series. 

"This is a story that features Giant Mechanical War Machines. Sexah Androids. Mutant Powers. Doomed Romance. Warring Corporations. Cybernetic Bounty Hunters. Sassy Robot Sidekicks. Rebellions. Chases. Escapes. Betrayals. Lies Upon Lies. Splosions." The author claims the book was pitched as Romeo and Juliet meets Bladerunner, while Fury Road plays a guitar solo in the background. Yep, pretty much a whole lot of badassery! 

This book will mess with your mind with various flashbacks of Eve's past. This book will mess with your mind when you come to the ending and the author smacks you upside head with a hammer to prove that he is one twisted bloke. This book is amazing, action packed, stunning, and one that includes a wonderfully written friendship between Eve and Lemon Fresh. "Stronger together, together forever." This is a book that is filled with twists, and surprises, and has been called an origin story, but not in the way you are thinking. 

But, wait until you reach the ending. After reading the summary on a certain site, I now understand what the author's intention was and what readers can expect for the next two installments. Up until the ending, I was curious as to what would happen next. I felt as though I've been hit by a runaway train named Jay Kristoff, and things will only get more intense, more twisted, and more complex thanks to Jay's top notched world building and character development. 

"Your body is not your own.Your mind is not your own.Your life is not your own."

Almost everybody called her Eve.
At first glance, you might’ve missed her. She wouldn’t have minded much. Hunched on the shoulder of a metal giant, she was just a silhouette amid the hiss and hum and halos of glittering sparks. She was tall, a little gangly, boots too big and cargos too tight. Sun-bleached blond hair was undercut into an impressive fauxhawk. Her sharp cheekbones were smudged with grease, illuminated by the cutting torch in her hands. She was seventeen years old, but she looked older still. Just like everything around her.
A black metal sphere sat in the socket where her right eye should’ve been. Six silicon chips were plugged behind her right ear, and a long oval of artificial flesh ran from her temple to the base of her skull. The implant obviously wasn’t made for her—the skin tone was a little too pale to match her complexion.
It was just about the right shape for a nasty exit wound.
“Testing, testing .?.?. y’all hear me out there?”
The girl almost everyone called Eve clamped a screwdriver between her teeth, glanced at the monitors across from her work pit. A high-def image showed the arena above her head, three hundred meters wide, littered with scorched barricades and the rusting hulks of previous competitors. The EmCee stood in the spotlight, wearing a sequined jacket and a matching bowler hat. There was no need for a mic. Her voice fed directly to the PA via implants in her teeth.
“Juves and juvettes!” she cried. “Scenekillers and wageslaves, welcome .?.?. to WarDome!”
The crowd roared. Thousands of them clinging like limpets to the Dome’s bars, humming, thrumming, feet all a-drumming. Most were the worse for stims or a bellyful of home brew, drunker still at the thought of the carnage to come. Their vibrations sank into Eve’s bones, and she couldn’t help but smile. Tasting her fear and swallowing it whole.
“Showtime,” she whispered.
“In the blue zone,” cried the EmCee, “the condemned! A fritzer, fresh from the border of the Glass, with the murder of seventy-two accredited citizens on its head. Brought here tonight for a taste of oldskool justice! All y’all give this fug a warm and fuzzy Dregs welcome. Some volume, if you please .?.?. for GL-417!”
Blue floodlights arced at the Dome’s north end, and the floor panels rolled away. A hulking lump of robotic menace rose into view amid a hail of spit and jeers. Eve’s insides turned slippery cold at the sight on her monitor. Her cutting torch wavered in her hands.
Hard to swallow your fear with no spit, isn’t it?
The robot in the blue zone loomed ten meters high. Bulky as a battleship, it looked like a high-speed collision between an earthmover and some armored knight from the history virtch. It was a heavy-combat model, Goliath-class, and the thought of a bot that lethal throwing down under the Dome lights sent punters lunging for their pockets and bookies scrambling for their tabs.
This was going to be a fight.?.?.?.
“This is going to be a massacre,” said a tinny voice in Eve’s left ear.
Ignoring the warning, she finished her welding, her dark goggles held up to what she thought of as her good eye. Talking true, the glossy black optical implant that replaced her right peeper saw better than her real one—it had flare compensation, a telescopic zoom, low-light and thermal imaging. But it always gave her headaches. Whirred when she blinked. Itched when her nightmares woke her crying.
“How’s that, Cricket?” she shouted.
“Targeting only shows a 13.7 percent improvement.”
Cricket peered out at her from the pilot’s chair with his mismatched eyes. The little robot’s face couldn’t show expressions, but he wiggled the metal slivers that passed for his eyebrows to show his agitation. He was a homunculus of spare parts, forty centimeters tall, the color of rust. There was no symmetry to him at all. His optics were too big for his head, and his head was too big for his body. The heat sinks on his back and across his scalp looked like the spines of an animal from old history virtch. Porcupines, they used to call ’em.
“Well, it’s showtime, so it’ll have to do,” Eve replied. “That Goliath is big as a house, so it’s not like it’s gonna be tricky to hit.”
“This might sound stupid, but you could always back out of this, Evie.”
“Okay, now why would you think that’d sound stupid, Crick?”
“You know better than this.” Cricket scrambled down to the floor. “Shouldn’t even be throwing down in the Dome. Grandpa would blow a head gasket if he found out.”
“Who do you think taught me how to build bots in the first place?”
“You’re punching too far above your weight on this one. Acting a damn jackass.”
“Grandpa’s gonna wipe you if he hears you swear like that.”
Cricket placed one hand on his chest with mock solemnity. “I am as my maker intended.”
Eve laughed and scaled across to the cockpit. The fit was snug; her machina stood only six meters high, and there was barely enough room for her beside the viewscreens and control sleeves. Most of the machina competing in Dome bouts were salvaged infantry models, but Eve’s baby was Locust-class, built for lightning-quick assaults on fortified positions during the CorpState Wars. Humanoid in shape, what it lacked in bulk, it made up for in speed, and it was customized for bot wrecking—serrated claws on its left hand, a jet-boosted pickax on its right. Its armor was painted in a violent camo of black and luminous pink. Eve dropped into the pilot’s chair and shouted down to Cricket.
“Does my butt look big in this?”
“Do you want the truth?” the little bot replied.
“Do you want me to disable your voice box again?”
“Seriously, Evie, you shouldn’t go up there.”
“It’s an opening spot, Crick. We need the scratch. Badly.”
“Ever wonder why you got offered first swing against a bot that big?”
“Ever wonder why I keep calling you paranoid?”
Cricket placed his hand back on his chest. “I am as my maker—”
“Right, right.” Eve smiled lopsided, running through the start-up sequence. “Jump on the monitors, will you? I’ll need your eyes when we throw down.”
Eve was always amazed at how well the little robot sighed, given he didn’t have any lungs to exhale with.
“Never fear, Crick.” She slapped her machina’s hide. “No way a bot this beautiful is getting bricked by some fritzer. Not while I’m flying it.”
The voice piped up through the speaker in Eve’s ear. “Right. Have some faith, you little fug.”
“Aw, thanks, Lem.” Eve smiled.
“No problem. I can have all your stuff when you die, right?”

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

ARC #Review - The Outcast by Taran Matharu #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Summoner Trilogy (#4)
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

The fourth book in the New York Times–bestselling Summoner YA series is the prequel story of Arcturus and how he rose from boy summoner to head of Vocans Academy.

When stable boy Arcturus accidentally summons a demon and becomes Hominum's first common summoner, he becomes the key to a secret that the powerful overlords would do anything to keep hidden.

Whisked away to Vocans Academy so he can be kept watch over, Arcturus finds himself surrounded by enemies. But he has little time to settle in before his life is turned upside down once again, for Hominum Empire is in turmoil.

Rebellious intent simmers among the masses, and it will not be long before it boils over. Arcturus must choose a side . . . or watch an Empire crumble.

The Outcast, by author Taran Matharu, is the fourth installment in The Summoner series. Unlike the first three installments in the series, The Outcast takes a step back in time where readers will meet 15-year old Arcturus, a key player in the first trilogy. Like the first three books, this story once again takes place in a land called the Hominum Empire where first born nobles are sent to Vocan's Academy to learn the art of summoning demons. 

One could say that Vocan's is a military school since those who graduate, go on to hopefully become battlemages which are used in the war against the Orcs. Arcturus is an orphan & stable boy who finds himself summoning a demon. A commoner being able to summon a demon is unheard of since the gift is normally passed on through blood. Arcturus demon is called Sacharisa, or Sacha for short. I adore the relationship between Arcturus and Sacha. Honestly, it's the best part of the entire story. 

Since Arcturus apparently has an ability that is a top priority to King Alfric, he is rushed off to Vocans Academy where part, but not all of the story takes place. If you have read the first three books, you will love seeing younger versions of the adults who were Fletchers parents, teachers, battlemages, as well as Celestial Corps. As a commoner, Arcturus doesn't find a whole lot of friends except for Lieutenant Elizabeth Cavendish. In fact, there are those who are downright hostile towards him. 

But, when you throw kids into extraordinary circumstances, like a rebellion and facing life or death situations, alliances can be formed by even the coldest of them all. Even though I already knew the fates of many of the characters who we meet in this book, it is still worthwhile to take a step back in time and see how things were when they were kids, and just getting started, including King Harold and Uhtred Thorsager, a dwarf blacksmith who played key roles in the final installment of the first trilogy.

I also loved Sacha and her relationship with another character, Elaine who is the youngest girl in the school. Elaine doesn't get a whole lot of credit, but she does her best to help out when things are looking grim. For the record, I am not unhappy at how the ending resolved itself. I think it is a perfect set up for the first three books in this series. I do believe that you can read this book first, and then jump into the trilogy since there's no real issue with missing things that have already happened. This is an entirely different cast of characters who the author focuses on while leaving the future Fletcher and crew to make their own way.

Monday, May 28, 2018

ARC #Review - Talon of Scorpio (Shadowstorm #3) by G.T. Almasi #SyFy

Series: Shadowstorm # 3
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Hydra
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Science Fiction

Superagent Alix Nico returns in a new Shadowstorm thriller from the author of Blades of Winter, which was hailed as “a hell-bent-for-leather mash-up of spy novel and science fiction” by Jason Bourne novelist Eric Van Lustbader.
Alix Nico, code-named Scarlet, is a one-woman demolition derby. As a top American Level, she’s a cybernetically and biologically enhanced operative fighting a Cold War among the forces of freedom, a Soviet Union that never fell, a China hungry for power, and a Germany that emerged from World War II more powerful than ever.
There’s a mole within ExOps, the covert agency responsible for the security of the United States, who has been working to decapitate the organization’s leadership. And when treason strikes, Scarlet and her partner, Darwin, find themselves matched against a rogue Level known as Talon, a merciless killing machine whose augmentations place her in a league of her own. But behind Talon lurks the real enemy, a traitor whose thirst for control threatens to upset the fragile balance of mutually assured destruction that has kept the four Great Powers from breaking into open warfare—until now.

Talon of Scorpio is the third installment in author G.T. Almasi's Shadowstorm series. The year is 1981. It is a world where in 1943, Germany came out of World War II as the victor. Now, an entire continent is under German control and calling itself Greater Germany. GG extends from England to the Middle East to Africa. Meanwhile, the US controls the Pacific and Japan, while the Nationalist Republic of China is allied with the USSR aka Russia. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels. 

These Levels are called Infiltrator, Protector, Interceptor, Vindicator, Malefactor & Liberator. The protagonist of the series is Alixandra Nico code named Scarlet. She is a level-10 Interceptor who works for an organization called Extreme Operations Division (ExOps for short). She has Modes and Enhances that able her to take on jobs that lead to plenty of ass-kicking, pain and destruction, and some off cut humorous situations with her partner Patrick aka Darwin. Scarlet's mission in this book is to capture Jakob Fredericks who is a traitor and creator of clones and bring him back to the US.

One of his creations, Talon, is just as badass and dangerous as Scarlet is. In fact, the first chapter in this book is packed with plenty of explosive action that leads Scarlet and Patrick across Greater Germany hunting Jakob and continuing their mission of keeping Greater Germany from allying with the USSR and China. Armed with her trusty Lion Ballistics LB-505 (Li’l Bertha), Scarlet is able to rise to the occasion time and time again. There are a bunch of new characters in this book, as well as others who have been introduced before. The author literally uses place that are historically important such as Dachau, Munich,   

Alix began her covert ops training when she was only 12, and has never really been allowed to have any semblance of a normal childhood. She was also a world class gymnast. The psychological aspects of the past have really caught up to Alix in major ways. As a person who suffers from PTSD, I am glad that Almasi doesn't cover up Alix's issues including panic attacks, hallucinations, nightmares, and hysterical blindness. Also, for those who haven't read the first two installments, it was a very trying 8 years with not knowing what happened to her father. Now that he's back, things are slowly coming around to what is claimed to be normal in this world. 

The author writes in a brash style of comic book superheroes to create a kick-ass alternate history that reimagines the Cold War as a clash of spies with biological, chemical, and technological enhancements. Though its roots lie in speculative fiction and alternate history, the novel reads like a mainstream spy thriller, full of thrills and action, giving it a true crossover appeal. The heroine’s brash, bold voice instantly draws the reader into the world, and the non-stop action keeps you flipping pages compulsively. The thoroughly researched and well-thought-out world behind the book not only gives it a stunning verisimilitude, but also offers infinite storytelling possibilities within the wider universe.

The author has gathered together a who's who of real life characters straight out of history. John F. Kennedy who was assassinated as President, but in this book, he is Ambassador to Ireland thanks to some Bill Clinton like shenanigans. Robert (Bobby) Kennedy who was a NY Senator until he was assassinated, is the new Director of ExOps. The author actually does really well with getting Bobby's inflection down pat. You will also find George H.W. Bush, who served his country in World War II, in the CIA and as President, as well as William Webster, former FBI and CIA director. Then you have Anne Frank who is named Garbo in this series.  

I do have one tiny caveat. The first book, Blades of Winter, released in 2012. The second book, Hammer of Angels, was released in 2014. It has been 4 years between the second book and this one. I leave you with this; there is a definite cliffhanger ending that absolutely changes the course of where the author must go from her. My only hope is that he doesn't wait another 2-4 years to write a fourth book.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves #285 (Memorial Day Weekend)

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 smaller haul than usual this week. Had a WHOLE bunch of denials from publishers on Edelweiss which is absolutely drives me crazy sauce since I've been reviewing for 7 years or more and read over 300 plus books every year. I know some of you are having the same issues. Would love to know your thoughts on what is happening.

Have a safe memorial day weekend folks in the US! 

This Weeks Reviews: 

 Monday - Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe (YA, Fantasy)

Tuesday - The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D Via NetGalley

Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday #Review - A Glimmer of Hope by Steve McHugh #Urban Fantasy

Series: The Avalon Chronicles # 1
Format: Kindle, 351 pages
Release Date: April 1, 2018
Publisher: 47North
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Fantasy / Urban

From Steve McHugh, the bestselling author of The Hellequin Chronicles, comes a new urban fantasy series packed with mystery, action, and, above all, magic.

Layla Cassidy has always wanted a normal life, and the chance to put her father’s brutal legacy behind her. And in her final year of university she’s finally found it. Or so she thinks.

But when Layla accidentally activates an ancient scroll, she is bestowed with an incredible, inhuman power. She plunges into a dangerous new world, full of mythical creatures and menace—all while a group of fanatics will stop at nothing to turn her abilities to their cause.

To protect those she loves most, Layla must take control of her new powers…before they destroy her. All is not yet lost—there is a light shining, but Layla must survive long enough to see it.

A Glimmer of Hope is the first installment in author Steve McHugh's The Avalon Chronicles. Layla Cassidy is the protagonist of this series. She's a student of metallurgy, she absolutely blames her father for ruining her life spectacularly (even after he trained her in all forms of personal protection), and she has some curious friends, especially Chloe Ranje. She's also has a voice in her head telling her to commit acts of violence. Thankfully, she has never once listened to the voice. 

Not after her mother was killed in a bizarre car accident, and now after her father was arrested and imprisoned when she was 14 for killing over 300 people in the States. Layla's life that she has tried so hard to hide away from the public eye is about ready to be upturned thanks to forces who want her to help in finding her father. It all starts innocently enough. At work, she finds a group of powerful beings who slay her co-workers and take her hostage after she tries to run away. 

According to the villain, Elias Wells, Layla is one of only 3 people in the entire world who know the location of her father's secret prison. Wells as a villain is the real deal folks. He's dark, well written, well rounded, evil incarnate, & has an agenda that leaves him not giving two figs who he offends or who he has to kill to be successful in his goal of finding Layla's father. While attempting to escape, she accidentally becomes a vessel for spirits, which includes having inhuman powers.

In order to survive, Layla must accept all four spirits, and learn how to keep her emotions under control while continually being a target of Wells, and his master Nergal who wants to take down the organization known as Avalon, and replace it with like minded folks who are willing to take over the world. While Layla is learning about her new abilities, and her new state of being, as it were, she also has to face the facts that she never can go back to being normal again. She is now part of something much larger than herself.

Before you ask, yes, I really liked Layla. In fact, I really loved her character growth over the course of the story including her interactions with the 4 spirits, especially Rosa, that she accidentally ends up with. She, unlike most of the other characters in this book, had no clue that there are more beings in this world that she could ever believe. Until she becomes an Umbra and is now one of them thanks to the spirits she no carries with her. She must ally herself with those like Thomas Carpenter, Olivia Green, Diana, Chloe, Remy, her best friend Harry Gao, and Kasey. 

Some readers have indicated to me that this book is a spin-off of the authors Hellequin Chronicles. I couldn't tell you since I've never read anything by this author until now. I can say that there are characters who do appear in both series. This includes Nate Garrett, a sorcerer who formerly worked for a group called Avalon, but is now apparently doing things independently from the group, Tommy, Diana, Remy, and Dr. Grayson. This is a story filled with a whole range of legendary & mythological characters as well as magic, spirits and demons. I can't wait to meet the mysterious Nergal. Could he be the mysterious My Liege from the 7th installment of the Hellequin Chronicles? Good thing the publisher has already sent me the sequel to this book! 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

ARC #Review - Bright Burns the Night by Sara B. Larson #YALi #Fantasy

Series: Dark Breaks the Dawn # 2
Format: E-Galley, 320 pages
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Ten years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn and cut her conduit stone from her. Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended and the Draíolon of Éadrolan lose more power every day. But once a year, Lorcan transforms her back to her Draíolon form and offers a truce. 

And every year Evelayn refuses -- for he requires her to Bind herself to him for life. But now, with an Ancient power bearing down upon them, everything may change. Evelayn will learn that the truths she once believed have shattered, and that she may need her enemies even more than her allies. Lorcan and Evelayn become partners in a desperate quest to return the balance of power to Lachalonia. How far will this partnership go? Can friendship -- perhaps even love -- bloom where hatred has taken root?Sara B. Larson delivers a thrillingly romantic and hauntingly satisfying end to this extraordinary duology. 

Bright Burns the Night is the second and final installment in author Sara B. Larson's Dark Breaks the Dawn duology. The Dark Breaks the Dawn duology is a reimagining of Swan Lake. Ten years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn of the Light Kingdom of Éadrolan and cut her conduit stone from her. He also used his powers to transform her into a swan. Get it? Swan Lake? Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form where nobody can find her. Can't spoil things that have already been spoiled by the synopsis, right?

Once a year Lorcan transforms Evelayn back to her Draíolon form and offers a truce; all she has to do is bind herself to him for life. Every year Evelayn refuses only to be returned to swan form and hidden away from those who are lost without her. After all, why should she bind herself to the man who she offered peace to and got only heartbreak and betrayal? But now something has apparently changed. This time, Evelayn finds herself free for the first time in a decade. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended on Draíolon and the Éadrolan lose more power every day. 

To make things every more twisted, an Ancient power, who readers met in the first installment, is bearing down upon them, and everything may change. Evelayn will learn truths she once believed in to be facts have been shattered, and that she may need her enemies even more than her allies. Except for Ceren and Quinlan who have never lost hope in finding Evelayn and freeing her. Lorcan and Evelayn become partners in a desperate quest to return the balance of power to Lachalonia. How far will this partnership go? 

So, let me get to my rating argument. If you've read the first installment, and hopefully you have, or will before jumping into this book, there was a whole lot of action, and suspense, and betrayal, and twists in the final chapter of the previous story. So bad were the betrayals, that the author seems to have forgotten what she wrote and decided to toss it all out the window and make believe that nothing of what happened between Evelayn and another character was anything that meant anything because she was going to turn an enemy into a possible love connection.

See, I can be mysterious. In this book, the author makes the villain, (and yes he still is the villain for anyone who cares to debate me), supposedly a hero and the only person that Evelayn can rely on to protect her people, and bring the peace that she and her parents had tried before they died. You will also notice that this book takes place over the course of a 3-4 day period. It is not necessarily rushed, but there is a whole lot of action and adventure and revelations in that short time frame.

I am not a fan of the romance in this book and that too affected by overall rating. I just don't see tearing a former coupling a part and then fermenting mistrust and anger in order to proceed in a entirely different direction. Ok, that was probably too much to tell. The current coupling is absurd and laughable and so damn predictable that I couldn't help roll my eyes. My last comment. When last we saw Evelayn, she was 18 years old. After ten years, she would be 28, right? So, why did the author make her characters should as though they were still in their teens?