Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Exile by CT Adams

Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy
The Fae Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Brianna Hai runs an occult shop that sells useless trinkets to tourists—and real magic supplies to witches and warlocks. The magical painting that hangs in Brianna's apartment is the last portal between the fae and human worlds.

A shocking magical assault on her home reveals to Brianna that her father, High King Liu of the Fae, is under attack. With the help of her gargoyle, Pug, her friend David, and Angelo, a police detective who doesn't believe in magic, Brianna recovers what was stolen from her and becomes an unwilling potential heir to the throne.

Brianna is your typical occult shop owner.  You know the kind that is half-witch-half-fae.  She left the fae world to join her mother in the human world.  And while she collects and sells magical artifacts, her father watches from the only known portal between the two worlds.  Needless to say, it only takes a small catalyst to bring her back to the fae world.

After receiving a gift from her father, King Liu, Brianna has to find something to send in return.  With the help of her coworker and friend, David, she's able to find the perfect piece of art.  When they struggle to get it home, David's brother, Nick, just happens to be in the neighborhood to offer them a ride back to the shop.  Seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce the magic and the fae.  In an attempt to save what's hers, she along with her two companions end up in the fae world.  But it's kind of hard to not make an attempt at war when the other side is willing to kill her.  And of course it draws the attention of her father.  Brianna is now back as princess of the fae.

I loved this book from start to finish.  While I had a hard time with the intro and sticking with the characters as the narrator changed, I was captivated by all of the action.  There were so many side stories keeping up with the main plotline that I felt like I was in an actual person's world.  The only issue I had is I felt like everything tied up too nicely with the ending.  It set everything up perfectly and didn't offer too many twists.  But the story itself is still worth it.

This is a definite for urban fantasy fans.  It has just a dash of romance in it (almost non-existent); it's more focused on Brianna's past and her path forward.  It's good!

Thanks goes to Tor for providing me a review copy.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Shades of London Series, Book 3

Note:  This is the third book in a series.  I will try really, really hard not to ruin the second book for you, but I definitely recommend you read the first two books before reading anything below...

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

This book picks up right where book number two left off:  in a hospital.  Thorpe is now leading the ghost troupe and taking Rory into a form of witness protection.  As Boo, Callum, and Rory regroup to try to find Charlotte, they slowly begin to piece together what was lost and make sense of the notes they do have.  But when Thorpe asks Rory to remain at the safehouse while everyone else does something to help, she's just not going to listen.

As Rory goes looking for a ghost of her own to retrieve some much needed answers, she finds herself in a cemetery with a little more than she bargained for.  But fortunately for her, she's got a stalker ready to save the day.  Funny how a stalker can save the day, right?  Anywho, as knowledge begins to form coherently, they are closer to locating Charlotte and Jane.  And Jane is the one with a nefarious plan that just might ruin everything in addition to saving the day in the end.  Is it something Rory's willing to risk?

After being so very disappointed with the second one (because I felt like it absolutely did not compare to the first - note: Jack-the-Ripper/historical-London fan right here), I was surprised to see this one kept me reading from the very beginning.  We delve right into the secret ghost societies of London, and there's enough plot-changing intrigue to keep you guessing.  And as one plot wraps up, another one slowly weaves it's way in for the next one (subtle hint that there is a next one).  I think I'm finally adjusting to the psychotic plot-weaving and plot-adjusting that this series tends to do.

I had to take a moment to read my review of the second one because I wanted to better understand why I disliked the second book.  And I think I'm a control freak who has to understand the direction a book is taking before I invest myself in it.  I'm wondering if I would have enjoyed the second one more if I had read it after the third one.  Probably...

I'm still holding onto the opinion that this is a good ghost series for readers.  And the first one is definitely a good one.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

manda-rae's Haul

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

Another weekend for reading!  Pretty much my plans...  I haven't done a book haul in while.

For Review from Around the World ARC Tours:

  • Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I forgot to take a picture of this one before I sent it to the next reader.  Oh well.  I did read the book and post my review already.  It was alright I guess.
  • Velvet by Temple West

From the Library:

  • The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
    • Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads
      • Another one I've read and enjoyed.  I think the only thing I was bummed about was finding out this is not a trilogy.  The series continues after this book.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey
    • Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads
      • I read the first trilogy from this world in 2010.  While I am amazed with the fantasy and politics/scheming, the size of the books are so daunting.  But I think I'm ready for another excellent fantasy!

manda-rae's Past Four Weeks


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Becoming Jinn Series, Book 1
Expected publication date:  April 21, 2015

Description (taken from Lori Goldstein's website):
Azra Nadira’s Jinn ancestry means magic has always been inside her. But the rules don’t allow her to begin drawing upon it until the day she turns sixteen. The day she receives the silver bangle that releases her powers and transforms her into a genie.

It doesn’t have to be tight like a handcuff to achieve the same effect.

Her destiny is now controlled by the powerful Afrit who rule over the Jinn world, and she must keep her true identity a secret from all but the fellow Jinn who make up her Zar sisterhood.

Though she grew up with these five Jinn “sisters,” they’ve always wanted the one thing Azra never has: to become a Jinn. This fact separates Azra from them now more than ever. When she reconnects with Henry, the human boy across the street she used to play with as a child, she finds in him the best friend her Zar sisters are supposed to be.

The more she uses her powers, the less she feels like a Jinn. Maybe that’s because her focus begins to shift to Nate, the lifeguard with the underwear model exterior and sweet, shy interior.

Her attachments to Henry and Nate and the human world begin to further strain her ties to her Zar and the Jinn. With her attention divided, she skirts the rules, and her genie mistakes begin to mount, along with the consequences.

As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.

Azra wakes up on her sixteenth birthday as a new person.  Over night, she has transformed into a genie which basically means nice hair and a nice body in addition to the magic.  But she's also given a silver bangle that serves as a reminder that she works for the Afrit and will live according to their whims.  As the day goes forward, all of her Zar sisters, her fellow teenage Jinn that she grew up with, come to celebrate her day.  And all Azra can think about is escaping her fate and being normal.

When Henry notices Azra on her birthday, he gives her a key to his backyard in case she ever needs a safe place to hide from her life.  As Azra grows into this new life of magic and wishes, she relies on Henry to keep her sane and human.  But as love interest Nate comes along, everything just gets more complicated.  Especially when Azra gets her first official assignment.  Sometimes, there isn't a way to separate the Jinn life from the human life.

This was a really good beginning to a series.  The story sets up well, and you get a feel for all of the characters.  However, I felt like it dragged through the beginning.  And when things finally get revealed, like the life of a Jinn, it felt rushed.  And when personal issues happen between characters, not all of them got resolved at the end of the book.  I kind of felt like I didn't get the full story.  And I wanted more once I was into it.

For those looking for a good story involving a genie, you might find this one appealing.  It's definitely got the paranormal factor added into a contemporary world.

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

Friday, March 20, 2015

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Genre:  Adult Detective
Stephanie Plum Series, Book 12

Description (taken from Janet Evanovich's website):
While chasing down the usual cast of miscreants and weirdos Stephanie discovers that a crazed woman is stalking her.

The woman dresses in black, carries a 9mm GLOCK, has a bad attitude and a mysterious connection to dark and dangerous Carlos Manoso… street name, Ranger.

The action turns deadly serious, and Stephanie goes from hunting skips to hunting a murderer.

Ranger needs Stephanie for more reasons than he can say. And now, the two are working together to find a killer, rescue a missing child, and stop a lunatic from raising the body count. When Stephanie Plum and Ranger get too close for comfort, Vice Cop Joe Morelli (her on-again, off-again boyfriend) steps in.

Will the ticking clock stop at the stroke of twelve, or will a stranger in the wind find a way to stop Stephanie Plum… forever. Filled with Janet Evanovich’s trademark action, non-stop adventure, and sharp humor.

Welcome back to the world of Stephanie Plum.  She's got the job every body wants: a bounty hunter.  Or maybe it's the job only the crazy take?  But she's also got Trenton's two hottest guys falling for her.  Will she ever decide which one to take?

Stephanie is helping Vinnie's Bonds business by locating FTAs and getting them rebonded.  But when the lunatic FTA brings a shooting war, Stephanie backs off and finds herself being stalked.  Stalked by a random lady that she can't quite figure out the connection.  But once she does, her mind begins to make unlikely connections with what's going on.  As she works with Ranger to figure it all out, she finds Morelli not being keen to taking the back seat.

Another book in the Stephanie Plum series.  I find I'm able to enjoy them a lot more if I'm not reading one right after the other.  Because sure, the stories are different.  But they tend to end the same: the bad guys are taken care of and Stephanie Plum has Morelli on the right side and Ranger on the left.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guest Post: The Exile by CT Adams

The Exile by CT Adams
The Fae Series, Book 1
Genre:  Adult Paranormal Fantasy

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Brianna Hai runs an occult shop that sells useless trinkets to tourists—and real magic supplies to witches and warlocks. The magical painting that hangs in Brianna's apartment is the last portal between the fae and human worlds.

A shocking magical assault on her home reveals to Brianna that her father, High King Liu of the Fae, is under attack. With the help of her gargoyle, Pug, her friend David, and Angelo, a police detective who doesn't believe in magic, Brianna recovers what was stolen from her and becomes an unwilling potential heir to the throne.

A suspenseful urban fantasy with a hint of romance, The Exile is the first solo novel by C. T. Adams, who is half of USA Today bestselling author Cat Adams. Like the Cat Adams Blood Singer novels, The Exile is set in a world where magic is real and contains Adams's trademark blend of suspense, action, humor, and strongly emotional writing.

Q:  How did you come up with the idea to write this book?

A:  Honestly, I don’t know. It’s odd. Sometimes you have a single thing that triggers a character, a story, or a series. I can absolutely tell you the story of how I ‘found’ Celia Graves and the whole Blood Singer series. It was a specific event. I saw a picture and BAM. There the world was, fully formed, along with the main characters in it.

But every once in a while an idea just sort of seeps into my consciousness, and when I recognize it, it’s as if it was always there, just waiting to be written. I’ve read lots of fantasy and lots of urban fantasy. In my mind the distinction has always been a little blurry. I loved Barbara Hambly’s Darwath series, and it was one of the very first I found that combined people from our reality with a fantasy world (well, that and the C.S. Lewis children’s books). I’ve loved many books that embraced the Fae, and the mythology of the Sidhe. But I always wanted them to be just a little . . . more . . . me.

Eventually the time was ripe, the idea was there, the characters, world ready. And I wrote THE EXILE, the first book in this series. And I’m very excited because I know where I want the next two books to go—and I hope the readers will be willing to follow me there.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Remembrance by Michelle Madow

Genre:  YA Contemporary Romance with a splash of reincarnation
Transcend Time Saga, Book 1

Description (taken from Michelle Madow's website):
Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from 1815, England ... but she doesn't realize it until she meets her soul mate from the past and he triggers her memories to gradually return.

When Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie's high school, she feels a connection to him, like she knows him. But he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching Drew is more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can't she get him out of her mind?

Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, but fighting fate isn't easy, and she's determined to unravel the mysteries of the past.

The beginning of the school year has come about, and Lizzie has the perfect life: she's smart and she's got the boy.  But when Drew walks into her life, Lizzie realizes her life isn't so complete anymore.  In fact, she finds herself drawn to the 1800s, but she doesn't know why.

Lizzie realizes a couple of things after that first day at school.  One - her boyfriend, Jeremy, has become a little bit more cocky ever since becoming co-captain of the soccer team.  Two - the new boy has a bit of familiar mystery, but she can't figure out why he has a hot/cold attitude with her.  Three - her best friend, Chelsea, has a crush on the new boy and she's going to ask him out.  And four?  Well, there's this slight nagging feeling that Lizzie's been through all of this before.  In fact, she knows Drew from somewhere...

This is one of those books where I really wish I could say I liked it, but I didn't really care for it.  Yes - this is a contemporary romance that transcends time.  Yes - you will see a story from the past interweave into the present with specific triggers.  But - they're still in high school.  And the cynic in me kind of rolls her eyes when you talk about forever romances in high school.  So, I had a hard time with this story and the romance that presents itself.  And I really wish there was more to the story instead of just the romance.  I think I would have enjoyed this story more if I had read it in high school.

This is a book that I wanted to enjoy but just got caught up in my own reservations.  I can tell you that I want to read the next one, Vengeance, because it looks like a good one...  This story is definitely for the die-hard true romance fans (in a young adult setting).

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The End of Violet and Abby by Scott Silver

Genre:  YA Paranormal Contemporary

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Violet and Abby pledged to stay best friends forever, a vow put to the ultimate test when Violet dies in a tragic accident—and comes back. Now boys are turning up dead, attacked by a creature both alien, and terrifyingly familiar and Abby is beginning to suspect that her best friend may have returned...different. Funny and heartbreaking, ‘The End of Violet and Abby' combines the sharp observations of Mean Girls with the sarcastic wit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to tell the story of two young women struggling to save their friendship—and each other—from an ancient evil that threatens everything they love.

Life is hardest when you're in high school without a friend.  Fortunately for best friends, Abby and Violet, they have each other's backs.  But even when you're on the rise of the high school social ladder, one misstep can throw you right down to the bottom.  And when Abby begins to drift away from Violet, she finds out what a best friend is worth to her.

Abby is your typical go-getter, nerdy girl who happens to be best friends with the hot girl who could care less about her future.  They have the high school life made: Abby drives them to school, Violet keeps Abby up on the social scale, and Abby attempts to help Violet pass her classes.  But when Violet drags Abby to a late night party, Abby begins to question what she'll do for the future she wants.  And when something paranormal happens, both girls realize they don't want to live without the other, but a perfect life is not in their cards if they can't let each other go.

This book is Mean Girls with a paranormal filter.  You've got the perfect high school background with the cute boys, the mean cliques, and the best friends forever main characters.  But what is this book really about?  Honestly, it's about finding you're own voice and accepting that it might be different than your best friend's voice.  But this book does a good job of staying humorous and holding your interest.  And that ending?  I loved it.  Even though I had nothing paranormal in my life occur, I felt like I could relate 100% to Abby.  And maybe that's why I thought this was a good read.

This is almost a contemporary high school piece with some paranormal flavorings to hold your interest.  It pulls a real issue that a lot of girls experience into a fun environment.  Mature YA fans should pick it up.

Thanks goes to Scott Silver for providing me a review copy.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Genre:  NA Paranormal Romance
Bloodlines Series, Book 6

Note:  This is the final book in a series.  If you haven't read any of them, I suggest you not read anything below this line.  They might spoil plots from earlier books.

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

This story picks up a couple of weeks after the last one ends.  Adrian and Sydney are currently enjoying their hard earned freedom by being cooped up at Moroi court.  Only problem is they're being shunned by the Moroi for doing such a taboo thing (hint: read the fifth book).  A vampire fall in love with a human?  Inconceivable...

With no news of Jill's whereabouts, Sydney receives a visitor from a witch:  Ms. Terwilliger.  She believes she holds a message meant for Sydney, and only Sydney can view said message.  Once viewed, Sydney finds herself determined to locate Jill regardless of the consequences that could come with leaving court.  Only Adrian refuses to let her go alone.  So off on a journey they go to find Jill.  But in between that crisis, they find themselves helping another friend in need.

This story ties everything up nicely.  And before I get the masses disagreeing with me, I have to say the author left the perfect amount of open-ended material that wasn't especially relevant to Sydney and Adrian's story.  But honestly?  Can I go back to Rose and Dimitri's story now?  As much as I love Adrian, I still feel like this second series rates a number two in the Richelle Mead vampire world for me.  But it's still definitely good.

If you haven't picked up Richelle Mead's books yet, just be glad I'm not in the same room as you.  I'd throw my books at you (it'd probably be a shoe - less damage to books this way).

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