Saturday, May 31, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

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

Happy Saturday!   This morning, I will be running a 5k and probably dying afterwards.  Once that's over, I'll be relaxing with my books...

For Review:

For Review (e-edition):

Phantom's Dance by Lesa Howard
Being a fan of The Phantom, I couldn't resist this one.  I can't say I've ever read any Phantom of the Opera retellings.  So I'm excited to read this one and see what it's all about.  Thanks goes to Xpresso Book Tours and Lesa Howard!

Purchased (e-edition):

The Exile by Eric Buffington
An interesting fantasy freebie...  I love reading fantasies involving people with magical abilities.  Now if only I had a magical ability.

manda-rae's Past Week

Free Book:

Cover Reveal:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cover Reveal: Dance with the Devil by JM Gregoire

Dance with the Devil by JM Gregoire
Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy
Demon Legacy, Book 3
JM Gregoire's website
Expected publication date:  Spring or Summer 2015

Description (taken from Cover Reveal):
Demon hunting sucks. Dez and Vegas decide to take the summer off to relax and be a normal couple for once. They quickly fall back into their old routine, mostly evenings spent together at Onyx. The nightclub for the supernatural denizens of New York City now hosts live bands and DJ’s nightly, and Dez is elated to find the club at capacity seven days a week.

Everything seemed perfect…until it wasn’t.

Without warning, their cozy life together gets tipped on its axis. Dez isn’t acting like herself, and Vegas believes something mystical is to blame.

Will Vegas get to the bottom of things before it’s too late, or will he lose her forever?

I've only read the first book in the series, but I've found it to be a fun adult paranormal piece.  Her second one comes out in a couple of weeks (see below).  This series is right up my alley.  You guys should consider this if you're looking for a fun urban fantasy story.

About the Author
J.M. Gregoire was born and raised in New Hampshire, USA, and despite her abhorrence for any season that dares to drop to a temperature below seventy degrees, she still currently resides there with her two children and her two cats. Always a passionate reader, her love of urban fantasy books eventually morphed into a love of writing them. She is currently working on the urban fantasy / paranormal romance Demon Legacy series, and has a new urban fantasy / thriller series coming out soon.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer

Genre:  YA Steampunk
Inventor's Secret Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Andrea Cremer's website):
In this world, sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth, they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery. Perfect for fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners, Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel, ScottWesterfeld’s Leviathan and Phillip Reeve’s Mortal Instruments.

What do you think our world would look like if America had not won its independence from the British?  Better yet, what do you think our past would look like?  Now add a bit of steampunk flavor, and we enter this book's setting. (Sidenote:  Our is definitely referencing American; I realize not everyone is American, but I still wanted to include everyone with our.)

Charlotte is the daughter of revolutionaries and stays hidden in the wilderness with a bunch of other kids.  But when given the opportunity to aide in the fight against the British empire, Charlotte ends up in New York: a city in the sky. Set in the eighteen hundreds, there are many new steam inventions as well as the old and expected.  But some of these inventions could threaten the plan to overthrow the oppressive government.  And Charlotte just happens to be in the middle of it with a couple of cute brothers (of course).

Honestly, I finished this book almost a week ago, and I feel blasé about it.  Seeing the steampunk world and our British past warped into a controlling war machine was interesting.  But as far as what the inventor's secret was?  To me, it was never a secret because I thought it a little too obvious.  Yes, the story was good and it did pick up.  But then things settled down for the ending.  So I guess this was a good beginner book to a series.

Sadly, due to my nonchalant attitude, I'm not certain I'll pick up the next book in this series.  However, I do think this a cute series that young ones looking for a good steampunk read would find fun.  And it has some good world-building.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Free Book: The Exile by Eric Buffington

I just found out about this freebie.  Check it out if you're looking for something fantasy-esque.  Thanks Eric for letting me know about this!

The Exile by Eric Buffington
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Stones of Power series, Book 1

Description (taken from Eric Buffington's website):
In a world where each person is born with a magic ability, the island of Denall is on the verge of an attack from a power hungry sorcerer, Mordyar, as he scours the world in search of the Stones of Power. While the stones are gathering and their power begins to be revealed, four boys leave their village on a rite of passage into adulthood and are swept into an adventure that will make men and heroes of them, if they can survive.

To obtain your free copy from Smashwords, click here.  Then click buy, enter sw69s under the coupon code, and click apply coupon.  When you checkout, the book will be free.  This code is good for the month of June.  So don't delay in getting your copy.

And if this is a series you're ready to continue with, the second one is being offered at a 33% discount.  That's about $3.34 if you live in the US.  Click here and use uk44j as the coupon code.

Happy reading everybody!

The Invasion by Eric Buffington
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Stones of Power series, Book 2
Expected publication date:  June 10, 2014

Description (taken from Eric Buffington's website):
While Kaz and P join forces to overthrow Omer, the holders of the Strength and Magic Stones unite to hunt down Mordyar's minions and discover his plans. With each new discovery they are thrown farther into danger until they find themselves in hopeless peril. Will Prophecy overcome Mordyar's forces as they invade a broken kingdom, or has Fate already turned on the stone holders? The time for hidden silence ends, as the time of strength and magic begins.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

Genre:  YA Thriller Detective

Description (taken from Elle Cosimano's website):
Bones meets Fringe in a big, dark, scary, brilliantly-plotted urban thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end.

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother’s job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone’s skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn’t trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn’t figure it all out soon—she’ll be next.

Nearly comes from a trailer park background where her mom works as an exotic dancer.  All she's got going for her is her smarts, and there's a competitive scholarship that everyone's trying to get their hands on, however it would be Nearly's ticket out of town.  But when cryptic messages start popping up, she notices them and realizes they all revolve around her.  Someone's after her and they want people to notice.  While spending her whole life in the shadows of the crowd, she finds an uncomfortable spotlight following her relentlessly around.  Will she be able to solve the clues before her life becomes at risk?

This book is a clever who-dunnit novel.  I really enjoyed it.  It sets a really good mystery pace while wrapping in a bit of romance.  As we see Nearly in the beginning as an uncomfortable girl, we watch her in the end full of confidence knowing she has the smarts to figure it all out.  The only question I'm left with is why on earth did the author through in a bit of paranormal into the story?  Nearly's ability to feel people's emotions didn't really contribute too much to the story.  It felt a little distracting to me considering this novel has full roots on the thriller/mystery aspect.  So while the whole mystery's going on, I'm left questioning Nearly's ability and why she has it (why yes, I do get stuck on paranormal plot points).

A mystery novel that held my attention all the way until the end.  I didn't even have the killer figured out until he was revealed (that alone should say this is a good one).  Pick it up when you're ready for a young adult who-dunnit mystery.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bald New World by Peter Tieryas

Genre:  Adult Dystopia
Expected publication date:  May 30, 2014

Description (taken from Peter Tieryas' website):
What if you woke up one morning and everyone in the world lost their hair?

In Bald New World, that very event happens and overnight, religion, politics, and fashion undergo dramatic shifts. Nick Guan and his friend Larry Chao are a pair of eccentric filmmakers who choose to explore the existential angst of their balding world through cinema. Larry is heir to one of the most lucrative wig companies in the world. Nick is a man who’s trying to make sense of the tatters of his American dream. Taking place throughout China and America, the pair set off on a series of misadventures involving North Korean spies, veterans of an African War, and digital cricket fighters. Their journey leads them to discover some of the darkest secrets behind wig-making and hair in a hairless world.

In this life, we take a lot of things for granted.  Take for instance our hair.  There are different colors, different styles, and it ultimately helps define our physical identity.  What if suddenly everyone woke up with no hair?  Does it level the playing field or ensue chaos?  Well, it definitely made things more chaotic in Nick's world.

Nick works with his friend, Larry, at the wig factory and as a filmmaker.  Wig factories tend to be the only business profiting after the random hair loss day.  On a random night, Nick participates as Larry's wingman in picking up girls and finds himself in a sticky web that he can't get away from.  After a murder occurs, Nick goes on the run from the bad guys.  Only thing is there's multiple variations of bad guys.  From crazy, religious fanatics to rat gamblers to hell-bent-on-revenge foes, Nick's world gets tossed and turned upside down.  But ultimately what he realizes in this crazy world of his is you still get to choose what you do with your life.  You can still be who you want to be regardless of the fluff in your world.

After reading about this world, I hope it never merges with ours.  It kind of plays with the current problems in our world, only it makes them bigger.  But it's in a sense that you could kind of see our world taking a turn for the worse and becoming this new world.  Peter Tieryas does an excellent job of tying current social media into this new world.  He even mentions one of his previous works and the employer from Hell.  Sidenote - I got to see the moral to his previous story from the main character's point of view in this story (it was awesome).  I can't say he (the author) has an excellent imagination because everything he writes about has some truth starting out in our world.  It's kind of like he wears a different shade of glasses and can see how things could potentially play out if things got a little crazier (I guess that does means he has an excellent imagination).  But back to this book:  I really enjoyed seeing how the world still didn't control the characters as much as they thought it did.  That in the end, Nick still chose the higher ground and was a good person.  We can either choose to let our bad experiences ruin us, or we can step away and still choose to live something worth living.

This book is definitely not my normal genre.  But I'm sensing a theme with Peter Tieryas' novels: the crazier the better.  Even though the themes aren't obvious at all and you'll scratch your head wondering what it was all about, you'll still be remembering the story years later.  He's an author to remember (as strange as his works are)...

Thanks goes to Peter Tieryas for providing me a review copy.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

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

This weekend, my plan is to relax.  There will be a little bit of cooking, some reading and a lot of doing nothing.  I'm so ready for this...

From the Library:

  • The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • The last book in an awesomely awesome vampire series.  Go me!  Although I do have to say the cover is kind of plain and meh.
  • Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  • Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • A WWII book where Adolf Hitler isn't seen as the wicked man the world knows him to be.  Instead he's seen as family.  I'm really curious to see how this one turns out.

For Review (e-edition):

Plague of Angels by John Patrick Kennedy
I saw the cover and was all: yes!  And then I read the description and thought this is one that's either going to be really good or it's going to rub me the wrong way.  Either way I'm diving in!  Thanks goes to John Patrick Kennedy for providing me a copy.

Aurora Sky Series by Nikki Jefford
Another vampire series that I've heard good things for.  I've been meaning to check out these books.  So when I found out about the tour for the third book, I jumped up to read the series.  Thanks goes to Nikki Jefford and Xpresso Book Tours.

manda-rae's Past Two Weeks


Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

Genre:  Adult Mythology
Age of X Series, Book 2
Expected publication date:  May 29, 2014

Description (taken from Richelle Mead's website):
Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.

This book dives right into the lives of Justin, Mae, and Tessa.  And Justin's god has barely been revealed from the last book, but Justin still managed to escape his clutches.  But other gods are coming into the fold and they'll entangle Mae and Tessa into their little game of taking over the world.

Lucian, a senator in the RUNA, wants to become consul.  But he wants to gain the people's favor by actually doing something instead of just giving speeches.  And he decides going into Arcadia, RUNA's neighboring hostile country, where he can set up trade negotiations and hopefully turn an enemy into a wary friend.  And somehow, Justin and Mae get dragged into this trip.  But entering Arcadia is like entering a third-world country (in this futuristic world) where women are barely treated better than animals.  But Mae has an ulterior motive for going: she needs to find her niece.  And of course the gods just tend to complicate everything.

I'm still unsure of how to think of this series.  The books are good in that they involve a lot of strategy, but the story building is definitely at a slower pace.  It's like watching two elderly men play a game of chess.  You analyze the potential moves they can make, the strategies they're going with, and then watch them make their move.  That's kind of how it is with the gods getting introduced in this book.  We definitely see more than we saw in the first one, and it's all leading up to something big.  But then the main plot of the book ends meaning the book ends right when it's getting good.  I kind of just want the whole story now.  Tell me what's going on!

This series definitely isn't fast-paced for me, but it deals with a lot of strategy and trying to determine what the characters and/or gods are going to do next.  I'm enjoying it and will plan on reading the next one as soon as I can.

Thanks goes to Dutton Books for providing me a review copy.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins

Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
The Sweet Trilogy, Book 3

Note:  This is the third book in a series.  If you haven't read the first two, reader beware.

Description (taken from Wendy Higgins' website):
It’s time.

Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the earth of the demons and their oppressive ways.

The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous—especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting. When the Duke of Lust sends Anna’s great love, Kaidan Rowe, to work against her, Anna must decide how much she’s prepared to risk.

In the most sensual and fast-paced installment yet, Sweet Reckoning brings all the beloved Neph together one last time to fight for their freedom.

Seeing this series end is so bittersweet.  I absolutely loved the first two books, and I loved the last one.  Seeing Anna and her nephilim stand together against the demonic dukes was awesome.

Anna is still trying to get as many Nephilim on her side to face the dukes.  She has faith that good will prevail over this perilous situation.  And she's got to get her friends believing this as well.  But the Dukes aren't trusting Anna when she says she's working and tainting humans for the good of evil (a bit oxymoronic, right?).  So they send other Nephilim to make sure she's behaving evilly.  But things just happen to work against someone...

This book ties everything up nicely.  It leaves no stones unturned.  And in the end, you're left with this happy-go-lucky-good-will-prevail-evil feeling that's super nice.  The only downside I have is it was super-duper predictable, but that's not a bad thing in the end.  And I think I tend to lose steam once the romance has budded and everything starts working well (I guess I like conflict).  Overall, this series was sweet!

If you are looking for a clean series to read, this is one I can recommend.  While there are adult-themed subjects throughout the book, I honestly don't think anyone can truly complain about these books.  They're really sweet to read and keep you begging for more.

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