Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Genre:  YA Historical Fiction
His Fair Assassin Series, Book 2

Description (taken from Robin LaFevers' website):
Vengeance is divine.

Sybella’s duty as Death’s assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy.

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Honestly, I couldn't tell you what happened in the first book of this series other than it was from Ismae's point of view.  And that didn't prevent me from enjoying this story.  While the Breton politics continue, we get a new story from Sybella's point of view.  And we find that she comes from a very dark past, a past that could consume her.

After finding sanctuary at a convent devoted to Mortain: the saint of death, Sybella finds herself back at home.  D'Albret's estate which he took from the duchess of Brittany, Anne.  And he's trying to capture her (the duchess) to force a marriage between the two of them.  Did I mention he's been married six times already?  As D'Albret's daughter, Sybella has witnessed the horrors that occur in his household.  It's either follow D'Albret or die.  When D'Albret's men capture a man known as the Beast, Sybella is requested to free him and bring him home.  Sybella soon finds herself making a choice: taking vengeance on her father and killing him or helping Beast, a soldier who fights for Brittany's freedom.

This book is one of the reasons I love historical fiction.  Some historical fiction pieces, like this one, could be considered fantasy because of the superstitions and gods of past (whereas nowadays we have science).  It's so fun to read the political backdrops and learn something slightly true about history.  But back to the characters, Sybella had a very dark life.  I found myself rooting for her from the very beginning.  And I loved Beast; I was gunning for that romance instantly.  I mean who wouldn't want an assassin, whose past tortures her, to fall in love with one of the most renowned soldiers in the area?

I recommend this book for historical fiction lovers.  If you enjoyed Grave Mercy, this one doesn't disappoint.  Just be aware that I don't agree with the young adult rating; the themes are dark and involve a more mature audience.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it spotlights upcoming books that we as readers are anxiously awaiting...
Minders by Michele Jaffe
Genre:  YA Science Fiction
Michelle Jaffe's website
Expected publication date:  January 30, 2014
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Q: If the boy you love commits a crime, would you turn him in?

Sadie Ames is a type-A teenager from the wealthy suburbs. She's been accepted to the prestigious Mind Corps Fellowship program, where she'll spend six weeks as an observer inside the head of Ford, a troubled boy with a passion for the crumbling architecture of the inner city. There's just one problem: Sadie's fallen in love with him.

Q: What if the crime is murder?

Ford Winters is haunted by the murder of his older brother, James. As Sadie falls deeper into his world, dazzled by the shimmering pinpricks of color that form images in his mind, she begins to think she knows him. Then Ford does something unthinkable.

Q: What if you saw it happen from inside his mind?

Back in her own body, Sadie is faced with the ultimate dilemma. With Ford's life in her hands, she must decide what is right and what is wrong. And how well she can really ever know someone, even someone she loves.

I know this book comes out tomorrow, but it just sounds trippy.  Getting in someone's mind?  No thank you.  But I'll certainly read about it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Altered by Gennifer Albin

Genre:  YA Dystopian Science Fiction
Crewel World, Book 2

Note:  My review mentions stuff from the first book.  And some really cool-world building aspects that I just have to gush about to let you know about the awesomeness.  Read at your own risk.

Description (taken from Gennifer Albin's site):
Life. Possibility. Choice.

All taken from Adelice by the Guild—until she took them back.

But amid the splendid ruins of Earth, Adelice discovers how dangerous freedom can be. Hunted by soulless Remnants sent by Cormac Patton and the Guild, Adelice finds a world that’s far from deserted. Although allies are easy to find on Earth, knowing who to trust isn’t. Because everyone has secrets, especially those Adelice loves most. Secrets they would kill to protect. Secrets that will redefine each of them. Torn between two brothers and two worlds, Adelice must choose what to fight for.

In this thrilling sequel to Crewel, Adelice is about to learn how tangled up her past and future really are. Her parents ran to protect her, but nothing can save her from her destiny, and once she uncovers the truth, it will change everything.

This book picks up right where the first one left off, with Adelice ripping through Arras to get to Earth.  And of course, she's got the brothers, Jost and Erik, in tow.  But Earth has its own set of rules, people, and time.  And Adelice must fight to remember that she left her sister behind in Arras and needs to get her back.

While on Earth, Adelice meets new characters including Dante, Kincaid, and the Scientist.  Some of them have ulterior motives, but they all seem to want to help her in separating Arras from Earth and saving her sister.  Kincaid seems to be the man running the show on Earth, but we begin to see he's a little more creepy than he lets on.  And then we find out time on Earth runs a lot slower than time on Earth.  So, a lifetime spent in Arras is only about 6 or 7 years on Earth.  So what timeframe do you think they're in?  Just a whole lot of world-building explanations and plot continuations.

Did I enjoy this book?  Absolutely!!!  So many plot twists that kept me bouncing.  And everyone knows I love explanations, right?  Even though I don't fully understand creweling, altering and all that, I'm totally in love with this world.  And the explanations, they're awesome.  I mean, who's heard of a dystopian set before our time (say what)?  I think the only thing I rolled my eyes at was the love triangle (but it didn't really bother me).  And my only nagging query is tying to understand altering and what someone gains by doing it (because so many people want to alter Adelice).

This is truly a fun series to get into.  And now I must wait for the third book.  Oh how I hate waiting...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Spin by Catherine McKenzie

Genre:  Adult Contemporary

Description (taken from Catherine McKenzie's website):
1. Go to rehab
2. Befriend/spy on “It Girl”
3. Write killer exposé
4. Land dream job
Piece of cake!

Katie Sandford has just gotten an interview at her favourite music magazine, The Line. It’s the chance of a lifetime. So what does she do? Goes out to celebrate — and shows up still drunk at the interview. No surprise, she doesn’t get the job, but the folks at The Line think she might be perfect for another assignment for their sister gossip rag. All Katie has to do is follow It Girl Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop (and complete the 30-day program without getting kicked out), they’ll reconsider her for the job at The Line.

Katie takes the job. But things get complicated when real friendships develop, a cute celebrity handler named Henry gets involved, and Katie begins to realize she may be in rehab for a reason. Katie has to make a decision — is publishing the article worth everything she has to lose?

This quirky chick-lit contemporary is proof that even as adults, we still have no idea what we're doing with ourselves in the future and the now.  We still have imperfections to work on and aren't as clean-cut as some people seem to think.  And there's more swear words, haha...

Katie is living the life, well she thought it would be much more glamorous than it really is.  She's a struggling writer who left home after graduating high school and moved to the city.  While trying to land the dream job, she acts like a 25-year0old with her friends and tends to drink a little too much.  While failing to land the dream job, a gossip magazine sees potential in her.  They'll throw her in rehab, the same one that famous Amber Sheppard is in.  After spying on her and writing the expose of the year, they'll offer her her dream job.  Only problem is, Katie finds rehab brings the truth out of people.  And when you're laid bare in front of others, it's easy to pick up feelings for the people you're trying to write about.

This book was cute.  We see Katie's problems manifest, watch her deny these problems, and try to work through them.  There's a lot of humor, many moments to relate to Katie, and a touch of romance.  I really enjoyed the incorporation of music and movies into this novel.  I think the best thing I could relate it too is Bridget Jones' Diary but without the obnoxious weigh-ins at every chapter.

It's a quick read for someone looking for a happy-go-lucky one that does deal with real issues like friendship, love, and addiction.  Plus, it can be a nice breather from young adult novels if you're like me (I tend to read a lot of young adult).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

Stacking the Shelves consists of books we received in the last week, hosted by Tynga's reviews.

Happy Saturday!  I went to a Badgers hockey game last night and enjoyed it.  We beat the Buckeyes, and then I found out that a buckeye is actually a chicken (reliable wiki sources).  Don't feel bad Ohio State, I was making fun of University of Wisconsin's fight song and alma mater song as well...  It's better to live life laughing, right?  And now I'm holed up at home with plans to read all weekend and not step outside for one moment.  I'm still crossing my fingers that Spring will suddenly be here tomorrow.  (Don't kill my weather hope.)

For Review:

  • White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L Armentrout

From the Library:

  • Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I thought my book pile from the library was running low.  And then I realized there's still a vampire series for me to try out. Score!
  • Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I'm still chugging along the Stephanie Plum train.  I must admit, number nine was probably one of the better ones for me compared to the recent ones I've read.  My goal is to get caught up one day...
  • Tandem by Anna Jarzam

manda'rae's Past Week

Friday, January 24, 2014

Death of the Body by Rick Chiantaretto

Genre:  New Adult Fantasy
Crossing Death Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Rick Chiantaretto's website):
I grew up in a world of magic. By the time I was ten I understood nature, talked to the trees, and listened to the wind. When the kingdom of men conquered my town, I was murdered by one of my own—the betrayer of my kind.

But I didn’t stay dead.

I woke to find myself in a strange new world called Los Angeles. The only keys to the life I remembered were my father’s ring, my unique abilities, and the onslaught of demons that seemed hell-bent on finding me. Now I must find out who I really am, protect my friends, get the girl, and find my way back to my beloved hometown of Orenda.

Jumping from a fantasy world into our world.  What a culture shock!  This book combines pieces of magic along with the need to understand and survive.

Edmund lives in Orenda as a mage.  He lives in a community where the use of magic is normal.  But something devastating occurs, and the community is destroyed by energumen: dark shadow beings that basically consume energy.  While trying to figure out what happened and salvage his world, he is murdered by his own.  And somehow, that throws him into a Catholic orphanage within our world.  While he begins to show our world bits of magic from his old world, he finds he's still being chased by something.  With the help of his friends, he works to uncover his past and figure out how it ties into our world.

This book is fast-paced and easily pulls you in.  The fantasy and questions just keep you going.  However, there is a lot of mention of religion in this book; I mean Edmund ended up in a Catholic orphanage.  While it doesn't seem to heavily push you towards a certain religion, this book slowly explains the fantasy aspects using our religious stories, if that makes sense.  My only issue with this book was my need to understand how Orenda worked.  And the explanation at the end felt way too rushed (whatever, he was being chased by energumen, of course it was rushed).  I guess I want to know more about this world and how the magic functions.

A good fantasy series to pick up.  Plus, it's from a boy's point of view, and I didn't find this obnoxious in the slightest (boy protagonists tend to annoy me usually).

Thanks goes to Rick Chiantaretto for providing me a review copy.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Genre:  YA Contemporary
Expected publication date:  March 4, 2014

Description (taken from Lauren Oliver's website):
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

It all starts with a game: a game that tests your fears and causes some to panic.  The payoff is great and the winner becomes a legend in the town.  But the risks are high.  Would you play the game?  I had to pick up this novel after reading the Delirium series.  And while I absolutely loved (for the most part) the Delirium series, I'm not so sure I loved this one.

This book is from two point of views:  Heather and Dodge.  Heather lives with her sister, alcoholic mother, and the mother's sometimes-boyfriend.  After graduating high school, Heather has the same dream as every other teen in Carp: get out of town.  After dealing with a terrible breakup, Heather decides to enter the game called Panic.  There's a whole pot of money that will go out to the winner, and this may be her chance to get herself and Lily out of Carp.

Dodge, the city's newcomer that no one cares to know enough about.  After dealing with his sister's accident in a previous game of Panic, Dodge only has one goal: to win Panic.  But in the process of the game, he interacts with Nan, Heather's best friend.  Alliances begin to form, and Dodge begins to question his original motivations for the game.  In this deadly game, people will be tested, hearts will break, and others will panic.

I honestly don't know what to think about this book.  Some might say it's a thriller contemporary, but I found no thrill in the story at all.  Instead, I got to hear people's stories, where they were coming from, what motivated them.  But looking strictly at the plotline, I found that uber predictable.  The only surprising things in this story were how far people were willing to go to finish their endgame.  Kind of like the real world.  But I'm not sure I truly understood the point of this story.  Maybe, at the end of the day, we're still living a life and need to make the most of it.  Who knows?

Coming from Delirium, I wasn't expecting a pure contemporary read with this.  I guess after reading this, it proves I am not a major fan of contemporary, and I do not have a new favorite author to pin up.  But don't let me get you down, this book might fit you better than it fit me.  I'd recommend checking out other reviews by people with your own tastes in books.

Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours for providing me a copy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it spotlights upcoming books that we as readers are anxiously awaiting...
Timestorm by Julie Cross
Genre:  New Adult Urban Fantasy
Tempest Series, Book 3
Julie Cross' website
Expected publication date:  January 28, 2014
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Description (taken from Goodreads):
The battle between the Tempest division and Eyewall comes to a shocking conclusion in this final installment of the Tempest trilogy, where the need for survival stretches the boundaries of history, both past and future, and the world Jackson once knew is a place forever marked by the detrimental effects of time travel.

As Jackson recovers from his brush with death, he’s surrounded not only by the people he loves most—his dad, Courtney, and Holly—he’s also amongst a few of the original time travelers. As he learns more about their life and how this world began, it becomes apparent that they need to put a stop to Thomas and Doctor Ludwig’s experimenting at Eyewall Headquarters. What starts out as an escape plan becomes a war between time and humanity, between freewill and peace. It’s the battle Jackson was born to fight and he’s not about to back down. Not for anything. Not for anyone.

So I must admit that I wasn't too thrilled with the second book in this series.  However, I'm always game for the epic conclusion books.  I hope this series ends with a bang, quite literally...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

After Dead by Charlaine Harris

Genre:  Coda
Sookie Stackhouse Series, Book 13.5

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Dead Ever After marked the end of the Sookie Stackhouse novels—a series that garnered millions of fans and spawned the hit HBO television show True Blood. It also stoked a hunger that will never die…a hunger to know what happened next.

With characters arranged alphabetically—from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli—bestselling author Charlaine Harris takes fans into the future of their favorite residents of Bon Temps and environs. You’ll learn how Michele and Jason’s marriage fared, what happened to Sookie’s cousin Hunter, and whether Tara and JB’s twins grew up to be solid citizens.

This coda provides the answers to your lingering questions—including details of Sookie’s own happily-ever-after…

The book will feature extensive interior art by acclaimed Sookie artist Lisa Desimini, including a Sookieverse Alphabet, color endpapers, and several full-page black and white interior illustrations.

For all those who don't know what a coda is, let me give you the definition:  a concluding part of a literary work, esp a summary at the end of a novel of further developments in the lives of the characters.  So in essence, this book is like a two sentence summation of everyone's happily (or not so happily) ever after in Sookie's world.  All of the major and minor characters you could care to ask about, and then some you don't really remember.

This isn't really a book!  I mean I kind of had a clue when I saw how small the book was.  But honestly, this should have been included at the end of the last book instead of in its own mini book.  Yes, there were some humor spots that made me laugh.  It was nice to see the happy endings for some of the well-known and loved characters.  But...  It seems like this was only made to make money.  I mean, I finished this book in fifteen minutes.  It's not a book...

For those who are so curious and they need to know, go read it.  But it's not going to really satisfy you.  Sorry.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

Stacking the Shelves consists of books we received in the last week, hosted by Tynga's reviews.

Hi everybody.  So I've been incredibly awesome with my reading so far this year, but I've haven't been doing awesome with my blogging.  I realized I have a couple of books that I've already finished reading without doing a haul announcement.  So...  Let me brag about the books I've gotten in the past couple of weeks...

For Review:

  • Panic by Lauren Oliver
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I'm almost done with this one.  And it's not really what I was expecting.  But I'm hoping there's some epic ending, surprise-everything-makes-sense sort of thing soon.  Otherwise, I don't know if I'll like the book.  Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours.

From the Library:

  • Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • Yes, all of my books from the library are series continuations.  And so far, they don't disappoint.  If you enjoyed Grave Mercy, you'll enjoy this one.  Although this one has a much darker feel to it.  But I love the historical fantasy wrapped around some historical time point.  I feel like I'm learning a little bit of Brittany/France's past (even if it is just a little).
  • Altered by Gennifer Albin
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • Dare I say I enjoyed this book more than the first?  The books were different from each other, and I loved them for their different roles they played.  The first introduced you to a new fantasy while the second one explained the fantasy's world.  And woah, you get blown away.  As a fan of explanations that make sense and aren't cheesy, I enjoyed this book immensely.
  • The Trap by Andrew Fukuda
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • This is the only book I haven't read yet in my post.  You know how there are some series that you're really looking forward to the last book in the series because the author can't string you along anymore?  Well, I'm really looking forward to the end of this book.  And if I get strung along again, I might burn this book and just pay the library replacement fees.


  • Swag Goodies from Faye at a Daydreamer's Thoughts
      • When I received a package in the mail, my first thought was, "Who is this and how does he/she know me?"  Yeah, I wasn't expecting anything from England, and my curiosity peaked.  And then I opened it and saw swag and lots of it.  And there was a note from Faye congratulating me on winning a giveaway.  And then everything clicked.  It's awesome receiving goodies from outside the country.  Thanks Faye!

manda-rae's Past Two Weeks

Waiting on Wednesdays:
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