Thursday, February 27, 2014

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy
Chicagoland Vampires Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Chloe Neill's website):
They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was mine. I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced their existence to the world-and then a rogue vampire attacked me. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker… and this one decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

Turns out my savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four hundred year old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude-and servitude. Right…

But my burgeoning powers (all of a sudden, I’m surprisingly handy with some serious weaponry), an inconvenient sunlight allergy, and Ethan’s attitude are the least of my concerns. Someone’s still out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war-and there will be blood…

The beginning of another vampire series for me.  One involving a strong female protagonist and a couple of eye-candy-worthy guys.  I think I'm set for a fun ride.

Merit has just been returned to her home by a vampire who's stuck explaining to her the ropes of her new vampire life.  Along with her roommate, Mallory, they decide to rebel against the whole vampire rules and behaviors.  Even though Merit is a brand new vampire, she doesn't have to blindly follow the rules of old in a vampire society.  As she works her way through understanding her new reality and finding her place in this feudal world, she meets a few characters that help her through it.  Plus, she's suddenly good with a sword and willing to protect what's hers.

If I were to judge this book solely on the plot, the main plot, I'd say it was kind of bland.  But there are so many side plots that pop up.  Merit has a stubborn and snarky personality that helps her quickly determine friend from foe.  And the various side characters that crop up make this a fun world to read about.

The first book is usually the hardest in a series for me to get into.  So, yes I do plan on reading the next one because I see a lot of potential in this new world.  I'll let you know my thoughts on the series next time...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tandem by Anna Jarzab

Genre:  YA Science Fiction Romance
Many-Worlds Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Anna Jarzab's website):
Everything repeats.
You. Your best friend. Every person you know.
Many worlds. Many lives–infinite possibilities.
Welcome to the multiverse.

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real–until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she’ll be trapped in another girl’s life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love–one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she’s someone she’s not.

Imagine there being a lot of you's or look-alikes living very different lives in different universes.  Now imagine one of those you's being a princess in another universe.  And while she's disappeared and the military works on finding her, they kidnap you to take her place for a bit.  That's pretty much what happens in a nutshell to Sasha.

Sasha is the daughter of physicists.  So, she's grown up with bedtime stories involving physics and alternate realities.  Little does she know they're more than just bedtime stories.  A simple night at prom with Grant turns into a week with Thomas.  And while Thomas is doing right by his country by using Sasha as a Princess-Julianna-double, he doesn't realize whose opinion's going to matter more by the end of the week: the General's or Sasha's.  As Sasha tries to navigate Julianna's life, she gets tossed and turned in so many directions that she doesn't know who to trust.

This was a good book with an original plot.  Really, my only complaint was the length of the novel.  I felt like it flowed well, I was captivated by the story; it was just long.  I liked following Sasha's double life and meeting Callum.  But there wasn't an absolutely love, cannot-put-down feeling while reading this one.  However I did scratch my brow at a couple of spots and think 'huh, that's weird' or 'cool.'

Do I plan on reading the second one?  Why yes, yes I do.  While the characters didn't form complete bonds with me, the multiple worlds aspect did.  And I do want to know what happens with these worlds.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Trap by Andrew Fukuda

Genre:  YA Dystopian Vampire
The Hunt, Book 3
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Note:  Read the earlier books in this series before reading my review.  It spoils earlier plots, and you can spoil the plot of the third one if you follow the clues spread throughout the first and second really carefully...

Description (taken from Andrew Fukuda's website):
After barely escaping the Mission alive, Gene and Sissy face an impossible task: staying alive long enough to stop an entire world bent on their destruction. Bound on a train heading into the unknown with the surviving Mission girls, Gene, Sissy, David, and Epap must stick together and use everything they have to protect each other and their only hope: the cure that will turn the blood-thirsty creatures around them into humans again. Now that they know how to reverse the virus, Gene and Sissy have one final chance to save those they love and create a better life for themselves. But as they struggle to get there, Gene's mission sets him on a crash course with Ashley June, his first love . . . and his deadliest enemy.

This is going to be one of those books that is highly difficult to review without spoiling anything.  While nothing had been spoiled for me per-say, all it took was a couple of people talking about how mind-blowing this book was and me picking up on some clues that helped me figure it out before starting this.  And while I have to say this one was clever, I was kind of bored with it...

From the end of the second, we know that Gene and Sissy are in a dire situation.  They escaped the horde of vampires at the Mission only to be stuck on a train heading to the ruler's Palace.  This book kind of takes an impossible situation and makes it even more impossible (kind of like zombie books).  Anyways, once in the Palace, the ruler offers them a choice: kill Ashley June and walk away from all of this or die.  Ashley June has made a mess of things while trying to reach her end goal: turn Gene and live happily ever after with him.  Not the typical love triangle, is it?

I don't know what it was with this book, but I had the hardest time getting into it.  It took me a couple of days to get past a hundred pages, but then I pretty much finished it from there.  It could be the utterly hopeless plotlines or the fact that I had this book figured out right from the start and was disappointed to not be surprised with the ending.  I don't know.  I was annoyed I guess.  If you want to hear my big rant, here goes (spoiler alert, read at own risk):  all of the side characters die, they die, nothing, finished, dead, gah.  Okay, rant done.

This series is an interesting series to pick up.  The author is very clever in his writing and twisting the story from beginning to end.  And I think I probably would have been more amazed with the last book if I hadn't figured it out beforehand.  But now I just feel like I have a nasty aftertaste and need to start reading something else stat.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Infinite by Jodi Meadows

Genre:  YA Fantasy
Newsoul Series, Book 3

Note:  Reading information below might spoil earlier books in the series.  Personally, I think it just makes this series sweeter.

Description (taken from Jodi Meadows' website):
The Year of Souls begins with an earthquake—an alarming rumble from deep within the earth—and it’s only the first of greater dangers to come. The Range caldera is preparing to erupt. Ana knows that as Soul Night approaches, everything near Heart will be at risk.

Ana’s exile is frightening, but it may also be fortuitous, especially if she can convince her friends to flee Heart and Range with her. They’ll go north, seeking answers and allies to stop Janan’s ascension. And with any luck, the newsouls will be safe from harm’s reach.

The oldsouls might have forgotten the choice they made to give themselves limitless lifetimes, but Ana knows the true cost of reincarnation. What she doesn’t know is whether she’ll have the chance to finish this one sweet life with Sam, especially if she returns to Heart to stop Janan once and for all.

After figuring out the mystery behind reincarnation, Ana has been exiled from Heart.  As supporters of Janan fight to help restore him, Ana must work to make the truth known to everyone.  She only has a few she can trust.  But with Sam having full confidence in her, maybe she'll be able to figure out what to do next.  And of course, she's still got her flute to make music magic with.

Ana has a plan to prevent Janan from ascending on Soul Night, well sort of a plan.  She's still working through translating the temple books because there has to be answers on how to stop Janan in there.  But while traveling away from Heart, Ana gets to experience legendary creatures like centaurs, rocs, dragons, etc.  And with her naive curiosity, she sees creatures in a new light: not something to be completely frightened of, instead something to be respected.  As the sylph promise to defend her, Ana works on getting others to help fight Janan.  But she doesn't realize that the biggest thing she will fight is people's ignorance of the truth.

This whole series has been really cute.  I love the devotion Sam has for Ana: how he will always choose her over anything.  And their music!  Recognizing how much music is integrated into this story is like seeing a beautiful symphony interlaced between chapters.  The music never stops. Then we also get to see the people of Heart struggle with the decisions made in the past that allowed them to reincarnate.  It truly brought up real-life questions that we have to face everyday.  then add the fantasy factor and throw in some dragons and other mythical characters.  And when I realized the ending was coming too fast, I was worried that things wouldn't end properly.  But it does.  And it's so beautiful.

This series is definitely one of those happy-go-lucky series that makes you think and feel love.  While I personally found the covers creepy, I thought the series as a whole was absolutely gorgeous.  I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good fantasy.

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cover Reveal: Dead Girl Walking by Ruth Silver

Look at this beauty below!  Isn't it a gorgeous cover?  I'm certainly interested in knowing more about this grim reaper life.

Dead Girl Walking by Ruth Silver
Genre:  YA Paranormal Fantasy
Expected publication:  Summer 2014

Description (taken from reveal email):
In 1346, Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.

Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.

About the Author: Ruth Silver
Ruth Silver attended Northern Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelor's in Communication in the spring of 2005. While in college, she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading, photography, traveling and most of all writing. She loves dystopian and fantasy young adult stories. Her debut novel published by Lazy Day Publishing and Patchwork Press, ABERRANT, was released April 2013. The second novel in the series, MOIRAI, continues the saga. ISAURA, is the final installment in the ABERRANT trilogy. Ruth has been actively writing since she was a teenager. Her current writing projects include a YA science-fiction fantasy series, ORENDA, and a YA paranormal series, DEAD GIRL WALKING. Both novels are due for release in 2014. She currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois.

"The scroll chose you. For whatever reason, she's your reap."

"Well, that sucks." Leila chewed her bottom lip. "If I don't do it?"

Edon hesitated before he said, "Her soul will rot inside her body. Do you have any idea what that’s like? She'll be a living corpse, a shell of a person. She won't feel anything including love. We as reapers, the undead, feel more than she ever will alive."

Leila swallowed the lump in her throat. "How do you know that?"

"Because I've seen what it does to a person," Edon said. "That little girl deserves better."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Genre:  YA Fairy Tale Mythology
Cruel Beauty Universe, Book 1

Description (taken from Rosamund Hodge's website):
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom—all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.

Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her. As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. But even if she can bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him?

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Nyx despises the people around her because they all have what she doesn't: a future full of life.  She has been promised to the Gentle Lord, the ruler of demons, by her father who struck a foolish deal with him.  As she is trained in the arts of seduction and the Hermetic teachings to destroy the demon ruler, she discovers that all she wants is a normal life and a future.  But because she can have neither, she grows up despising everyone she should love.  And with this warped view of her people, she somehow is able to relate to the Gentle Lord.

After Nyx's mock wedding to the Gentle Lord (she married a rock in his place), she is transported to the castle.  While her father never shows her any love or appreciation, she finds she is able to relax a little in the castle, until Ignifex, the Gentle Lord, shows up.  Somehow he is nothing she ever expected.  Eccentric, honest, and playful are not the attributes to be associated with someone so evil.  There is another prisoner in the household, a shadow named Shade who Nyx is able to befriend.  He obeys Ignifex, but we all know he has ulterior motives.  As Nyx has someone else pulling her strings, she finds out so does Ignifex, and it gives her a chance to bond with him.  But will this bond be big enough to forget that the fate of her people rest on her destroying the very man she is falling in love with?

I guess I am always doomed to not enjoy fairy tale retellings.  This book started out super slow for me as it explained the background of the world.  They're people who worship the Greek gods, so we get a lot of mythology in here mixed with the Beauty and the Beast retelling.  But I don't feel like they did a good job of explaining the magic: the Hermetic teachings or all the quirky things that tend to happen in this world.  It's kind of like someone trying to spoon-feed you the process of destroying the evil one, but it doesn't taste good and it makes no sense.  And once she did break the curse, what happens next happens quickly and messily.  And I was super annoyed with Nyx's character, I don't like characters who try to make you feel bad for them because something bad happened to them (I'd rather see characters who thrive even through the badness).

Being one of my most highly anticipated books of the year, this one definitely fell short.  I hope there are other readers out there who like it and don't have the same opinions as myself.

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

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Genre:  YA Historical Fantasy
The Dragon King Chronicles, Book 1

Description (taken from Ellen Oh's website):
The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

This book starts out with a map of the Seven Kingdoms, and I love maps.  I kind of referred to it every time a new city was mentioned.  There's a king, the king's guard, prophecies, demons, and traitors.  Something at every turn.

Kira, better known as the demon slayer, is a girl with unusual looks and an unusual gift.  She has yellow eyes, and she can sense when a body is possessed by a demon.  After saving her cousin, the prince, at an early age, she became his personal bodyguard.  But being part of the army isn't a place for a girl, and the majority of the people despise her for it (and her yellow eyes).  When kingdoms begin to be attacked and invaded by demons, a prophecy creeps up about the dragon king saving the kingdoms.  And the monks think the prince is that prophesied king, so Kira must do everything she can to protect him and get him ready to fight the demons in a war of epic proportions.

I wasn't a big fan of this book.  It felt too childish to me for me to fully enjoy it.  There's mentions of killing someone, blood, beheading, and then we're back to Kira having the personality of a twelve year old (but she's seventeen in the book).  I guess the character interactions and conversations just wasn't mature enough for me.  And because of this, I could never really get into the book.  I thought the storyline was great; I just couldn't love it.

I want to say this book reminded me of City of a Thousand Dolls, yet another book I couldn't get into.  I would hand this book to a tween/younger teen with no hesitation.  And if you're a fan of historical fantasy with a setting in Asia, you might want to consider this one.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

Stacking the Shelves consists of books we received in the last week, hosted by Tynga's reviews.
It's Saturday, and I think it's supposed to snow today.  So the only reason I will be leaving this house is to go see Vampire Academy.  And then I'll be back reading in a warm home.

For Review:

  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I had been eagerly anticipating this one since Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale.  But now that I'm reading it, I'm not so sure what to think.  Maybe I'm destined to never enjoy fairy tale retellings.  Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours.
  • Infinite by Jodi Meadows
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • The finale to a series I've been enjoying.  Everyone says the covers are so beautiful, but I personally find this one quite creepy looking.  But it's not going to keep away from reading the book.  Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours.

From the Library:

  • Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I've been waiting to read this beauty.  I love witch-y stories set in the past.  And this one's in the Tudor past!  That's one of my favorite time periods to read about (don't ask me why).
  • Pawn by Aimee Carter

For Review (e-edition):

The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts
This book takes a stop in the past where insanity was poorly understood.  And we get to follow a couple of people affected by mental illnesses.  It kind of gives me the creeps, but I definitely want to know more.  Thanks gors to Rachel Roberts.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

To the Nines by Janet Evanovich

Genre:  Adult Detective
Stephanie Plum Series, Book 9

Description (taken from Janet Evanovich's website):
Stephanie Plum’s got rent to pay, people shooting at her, and psychos wanting her dead every day of the week (much to the dismay of her mother, her family, the men in her life, the guy who slices meat at the deli… oh, the list goes on). An ordinary person would cave under the pressure.
But hey, she’s from Jersey.

Stephanie Plum may not the best bounty hunter in beautiful downtown Trenton, but she’s pretty darn good at turning bad situations her way… and she always gets her man. In TO THE NINES her cousin Vinnie (who’s also her boss) has posted bail on Samuel Singh, an illegal immigrant. When the elusive Mr. Singh goes missing, Stephanie is on the case. But what she uncovers is far more sinister than anyone imagines and leads to a group of killers who give new meaning to the word “hunter…”

I really enjoy the slapstick humor in this series.  And some of the most bizarre happenings occur when Stephanie Plum's involved.

While trying to find an AWOL, Stephanie finds herself chasing ghosts.  And somehow, those ghosts leave her flowers on her doorstep with death-threatening letters.  And she's off to Vegas with Connie and Lula in tow to find that AWOL.  If the last sentence hasn't made you face-palm, then you need to go read this series.

I know it's a short review, but honestly, if you're not on the Stephanie Plum bandwagon, you may never get on it quite frankly.  I was worried with how many books are in this series if they would begin to lose steam.  But I believe this one kept the story going, the humor going, and the real-life situations going.  My only pet peeve is will there ever be a decision made between Morelli and Ranger?  But maybe that's what keeps this series rolling...

Go read the first couple of books in this series, then get back to me.  I'm slowly working my way through...

Wednesday, February 5, 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...
Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
Genre:  YA Paranormal Thriller
Mind Games Series, Book 1
Kiersten White's website
Expected publication date:  February 18, 2014
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Annie and Fia are ready to fight back.

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.

I have a love-hate relationship with Fia.  And honestly, I was surprised with how the first one turned out.  So much so that I want to read the next one...
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