Friday, December 23, 2016

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Genre:  YA Fantasy
Six of Crows Series, Book 2
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Note:  This is the second book in a series.  Fair warning...

Description (taken from Leigh Bardugo's website):
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Back in the Grisha world, one of my favorite fantasy worlds.  The heist that Kaz and his crew pulled off in the last story went terribly wrong.  And this story picks up immediately after that happens.  It follows the six people who are determined to get payback and money for their troubles.  Only thing is the whole world is watching this little city because everyone wants a piece of the drug: jurda parem.  Will Kaz and his crew be able to protect themselves and their city or will they sell out?

This book has a lot of action and so many angles that you're dying for more.  My only regret is not reading it closer to the first book and that whole other series.  I feel like there were a lot of things I couldn't remember and was kind of missing the insider knowledge.  Anywho, you pretty much fall in love with the characters.  But you want to know the reason why this isn't a five-pointer for me?  I was not a fan of the ending.  It ticked me off.  Like really ticked me off when I realized it was the last one in the series.  But I can't give it away (those who have read the book could probably understand my anger).

If you're a fan of fantasy, start with the first Grisha series and then pick this one up.  If you couldn't get into the first series, then just dive into this one.  While there is romance in this story, it's not the main plotline like the other series.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Genre:  YA Historical Fiction
Stalking Jack the Ripper Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Kerri Maniscalco's website):
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Audrey Rose lives in a historical England where she is growing up to be a society girl.  She is doing everything that a wealthy and privileged English girl should do.  Well, except for helping her uncle dissect cadavers.  And helping him with solving deaths and crimes.  So it's no surprise that when Jack the Ripper begins to appear, she becomes intrigued...

So I can't really go into too much detail to this story.  Because most of us are very familiar with the unsolved mystery of Jack the Ripper.  And this fictional story tells it from Audrey's point of view.  And as much as I had it pegged from the very beginning, I was still disappointed with the ending.  And one of the things that angered me greatly was how many times Audrey was told she shouldn't be doing something because of her female status.  I just got tired of it a little.

This was a decent detective story to follow from start to finish.  And it does give a nice twist at the end.  I'd suggest checking it out if it peaks your interests still.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A World Without You by Beth Revis

Genre:  YA Contemporary

Description (taken from Beth Revis' website):
Can Bo live in a world without Sofia?

Bo cannot imagine a world without his girlfriend Sofia. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to. Even though he accidentally got her stuck in the past, he’s attending an elite school for kids with powers that should help him gain better control of his time traveling abilities and save her. Although the appearance of some nosy government officials at the secret school may cause some problems…

Phoebe can all too easily imagine a world without her brother Bo. Without him, her mother wouldn’t retreat into herself with worry. Her father wouldn’t lock himself away and pretend like Bo doesn’t have a problem. And she would have a chance to be a normal girl, not the sister to a boy whose paranoid delusions make him think that he has super powers and can travel through time.

As Phoebe learns to speak her heart in a family that uses silence to ignore its problems, Bo must face the fact that if his super powers aren’t real, neither are his chances to save Sofia.

Bo goes to a school for gifted kids.  They all have super powers, and he's accidentally left Sofia hundreds of years in the past.  But the story starts with her funeral, and Bo can't figure out why everyone's acting as if she's truly gone.  Do they not have enough faith in his powers to go back in time and save her?  Because he's going to save her.

Phoebe is Bo's younger sister who has had to live in his shadow.  Where he gets the attention and the treatment for his needs, she's expected to be the perfect child.  She's getting the grades, setting herself up for college, and living her parents' dreams.  However just once, she wants to be able to let go and live a life of uncertainty like Bo can.  She doesn't want the responsibility of being the perfect child living in silence anymore.

This book was very slow going for me, and I had a very hard time being in Bo's mind.  It was hard and mind-boggling.  I don't know how Beth Revis was able to write his character.  It isn't hard for me to say I related to the sister.  I was one of those 'perfect' kids trying to live the 'perfect' life.  And no matter what kinds of issues you might be dealing with, you're always going to feel overshadowed by your siblings.  I was the same way with my brother and then later on with my much younger siblings.  But this story dealt more with mental issues and how everyone affected tried to deal.  And it does point out things broken.  And your heart slowly begins to melt as Bo tries to piece together what happened to Sofia.  It's just a sad one for me that was hard for me to deal with.

These contemporary books are the reason I dislike contemporary but at the same time have to read one every once in a good while just because they're good.  And they face those unpleasant issues that we have a tendency to bury as fast as possible.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Genre:  Adult Fantasy
The Nevernight Chronicles, Book 1

Description (taken from Jay Kristoff's website):
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

I can't do one of my normal reviews for this book.  I've sat on writing this review for a couple of weeks now because I don't know how to start it.  So maybe I start with this book took me quite a while to get into and finish however it was by far, my favorite book I've read this year.

It is set in a fantasy world with its own religion, its own gods, and its own mysticism.  And the narrator will give you fun-filled facts throughout the story whenever he references something in this world.  And Mia?  She's your standard heroine who had a brutal childhood but is seeking revenge.  Everything she does is to better position herself to kill the people who killed her father.  But she has a heart.  And in order to be an assassin, you must deaden the heart.

I loved this fantasy!  And even though the plot was right in front of me, my mind was too busy enjoying the little tidbits and details along the way that I totally missed it.  I need the next book in this series now.  Just now.

Fan of fantasy?  Read this one!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Genre:  YA Dystopian
The Maze Runner Series, Book 1

Description (taken from James Dashner's website):
If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

In the world Thomas enters, no one remembers the past and there's walls that protect them from monsters.  But when the walls are open, he finds an endless maze surrounds them.  If only he could remember his life before he entered the Glade because he somehow thinks he knows the answer.  He's going to find his way out of the Maze.

I'm not going to do a typical book review here because I need to be honest.  I saw the movie before reading the book.  And while my husband stated the book was very different from the book, I kind of disagree.  Sure, there's a major plot line that's missing in the movie, but the movie is about visual effects while the book is more about being inside the mind.  It's explainable.  But I don't really feel like I got anything different from the book.  And Thomas' character kind of bothered me.

I'm a little ho-hum about this one.  But I'm planning to pick up the second one soon.  And hopefully I'll read the third before the third movie comes out.  Then it might be an untainted review...

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Genre:  YA Historical Paranormal
Lady Helen Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Alison Goodman's website):
London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her curtsy to Queen Charlotte and step into polite Regency Society and the marriage mart. Little does Helen know, that step will take her from the glittering ballroom of Almacks and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of demonic creatures, missing housemaids and deadly power.

Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of dubious reputation and infuriating manners. He believes Helen is destined to protect humanity from an unearthly truth, but all he can offer is danger, savagery and the possibility of madness. Not the kind of destiny suitable for a young lady in her first London Season.

Against a backdrop of whispered secrets in St. James’s Palace, soirees with Lord Byron and morning calls from Beau Brummell, The Dark Days Club is a delightfully dangerous adventure of self- discovery and the dark choices of new found adulthood.

Lady Helen is barely debuting as a young and proper adult in old London society.  She is going to do her duty of securing a good match in a man and stay away from the gossip of her mother's betrayal.  However when powerful people point to her mother's past and a man takes an interest in her abilities, she finds nothing is as easy as being right and wrong or good and evil.  And life becomes a little more complicated.

When Helen is introduced to the Dark Days Club, she must decide on whether or not she wants to join.  Will she put herself and her potential betrothed in harm's way to keep the world safe from demons?  Or will she turn her back from it all and be the proper young lady that her society demands? And why is Lord Carlston so vexing?  So many choices at the start of her season...

It took a very long time for me to get settled into this story.  And I find I was quite bored with Lady Helen and the strict life she lives.  I will admit that once the paranormal was finally introduced, I became a little intrigued.  But how the demons worked and the Dark Days Club combatted it was just way too confusing for me.  And nothing of importance was explained!  I wasn't happy with the setting, and I wasn't really invested in the paranormal.  I felt like this big book should have given me more.

There are going to be those who enjoy this book.  And then there's me who's onto another book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison

Genre:  YA Detective

Description (taken from Margot Harrison's website):
Hasn’t he lived long enough? Why not? I could take him like a thief in the night.

This is how the Thief thinks. He serves death, the vacuum, the unknown. He’s always waiting. Always there.

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

Nina has been plagued with the life of someone else in her dreams.  A boy she learned to get used to until he began to do the unthinkable.  He became the Thief and killed people.  All Nina has to do is close her eyes and sleep in order to see the unthinkable happen.  And she's determined to get the victims justice.

Nina travels with her friend, Warren, across the country in search of this killer.  She's going to out him once and for all.  But when she gets to New Mexico and comes face-to-face with him, suddenly she's not so sure anymore.  Could this ordinary family-man really be that vicious killer at night?  Before she outs him, she's determined to test him to figure out if he really is the reason for her night terrors.  But what is finally revealed in this story is so much more than just a serial killer.

Starting out with this story, I was super creeped out.  It didn't help that I read this at night.  However, once the story developed and the paranormal aspects came out (with the serial killer-ness), I was so engrossed.  And the closer I got to the end, the more worried I became.  I mean how do you create a perfect ending for this story?  I'm not sure you can.

Honestly, this one's a thriller.  I think you should give it a try.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Genre: YA Fantasy Fairy Tale

Description (taken from Jessica Khoury's website):
When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

Aladdin, the thief, has entered a city of diamonds in search of something.  He doesn't know it until he sees it, but it calls to him.  And Zahra, the jinni in the lamp, can hear his arrival.  When he finds the lamp, he knows he has found something important.  He doesn't realize what it is until he rubs the lamp.

Zahra has been tied to her lamp for thousands of years.  But when she's offered the chance for freedom, all she must do is trick Aladdin into helping her.  And Aladdin does exactly that all in the name of revenge.  But the closer Zahra gets to getting what she wants, the further Aladdin is from what he wants.  In the end, can Aladdin's wish be enough for happiness?  And will Zahra's power be enough to satisfy the thief and herself?

This is a beautiful fairy tale retelling.  And the romance starts very small until it releases at the right moment.  So it's not as annoying to read.  And the past that Zahra kept running away from?  I was so curious to know what happened until I finally knew.  But it still goes full circle to explain everything beautifully.

This is such a sweet standalone novel.  If you're a fan of Aladdin or fantasy novels, give this a try.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Genre:  New Adult Historical Romance
His Fair Assassin Series, Book 3

Note:  This is the third in the series, and while each book is from someone else's point of view, I'm warning you now that the plot builds from the previous books.  Although I do think this is a series that you could read out of order and still follow easily.

Description (taken from Robin LaFevers' website):
Because Love is stronger than Death…

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

But across Brittany, the tides of war are drawing ever nearer, with France pressuring the beleaguered duchess from all sides. Annith’s search for answers threatens to rip open an intricate web of lies and deceit that sit at the heart of the convent she serves. Yet to expose them threatens the very fabric of her existence and risks an unforeseen chance at love, one that she can no longer deny. Annith must carefully pick a path and, gods willing, effect a miracle that will see her country—and her heart—to safety.

It's been quite a while since I've touched this series.  But I've been wanting to dive back into this story.  We are at the end of the 1400s where Brittany is struggling against an invasion by the French.  And Annith is a follower of Mortain, the god of death.  But she's never left the convent until one day she takes matters into her own hands.  She's lost faith in the Abbess of the convent, but she refuses to lose faith in Mortain.

As Annith works her way across France to confront the Abbess, she runs into quite a few characters.  We've got the minions of death who chase bad souls as well as lost souls in order to bring them to the Underworld.  We've also got another group of girls who follow another god.  And as Annith works her way to the Abbess, she finds the Duchess in quite a political battle that is threatening to become an all out war.  Needless to say, a lot happens...

Although I find these stories a little long-worded and slow in the beginning, I quickly fall into them and am engrossed by the story.  While I did find some bits and pieces quite predictable, I enjoyed learning the history of Brittany.  A lot of historical characters are thrown around.  I just wish I got to see more intertwined into the main story.  But at least there's going to be more books to this series coming.

I like this series.  It's like a breath of fresh air compared to what I normally read.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pure by Jennifer L Armentrout

Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Covenant Series, Book 2

Note:  This is the second book in a series.  You've been warned.

Description (taken from Jennifer L Armentrout's website):
Some rules are made to be broken, but breaking the ultimate rule can change everything.

Alex lives–and loves–recklessly, until a single decision leads to a heartbreaking revelation.

As a mysterious threat closes in and she confronts a Council that wants to see her in servitude, Alex faces a choice between love that is fated… and love that is forbidden.

Alex is back in school after killing daimons who were trying to turn her.  And with the scars and constant attention from Seth, the Appolyon, there's going to be rumors spreading.  But as Daimon halfs start to appear, no where is safe and it's hard to trust people.  And Alex must face the Council to tell them what she knows.

The closer Alex gets to Aiden, the more danger they put themselves in.  And it takes a brutal wake-up call from Seth to point out everything they are risking for each other.  Seth, who is so full of himself, yet he wants to see Alex succeed and ascend into the next Appolyon (did I mention this also benefits him?).  And as the mythology pieces are slowly explained during the Daimon and Council crises, we get a little more hooked to this series.

While the first book had a lot of action that pulled you straight into the story, I felt like the second gave a little more information on how this world works.  My biggest complaint with the first one was I didn't understand the whole mythology concept.  But this one began to explain and leak a little bit out.  I just hope the next book gives even more.  Because I definitely want to keep reading this series and am waiting to be wowed.

I think this series is fun.  I'm enjoying it, but I can't say I'm head over heels in love yet.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Half Wild by Sally Green

Genre:  YA Paranormal Fantasy
Half Bad Trilogy, Book 2

Note:  This is the second book in a series.  You have been warned.

Description (taken from Sally Green's website):
"You will have a powerful Gift, but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad."

In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he’s on the run–but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.

This story picks up right where the last one left:  with Nathan on the run from White Hunters.  He was separated from Gabriel in the last book and now he's waiting to meet up with him.  While he did have his Giving ceremony, so many other things have gone wrong.  And it's going to take a lot to make them right again.

This story is more about Nathan exploring his gifts and meeting his father, Marcus.  It's also about a rebel group of Black and White Witches uniting against the Council.  But it's going to take a lot of powerful witches to overcome the Council and Hunters.  And with Nathan trying to figure out how to control his Gift, a lot of things can go wrong.

I love the grit that comes with the main character.  This book is very different from what I'm used to reading.  It's from the point of view of a teenage boy who isn't that sociable.  Yet he's still very much in love with a girl and willing to do anything to be with her.  But he's also got a power that comes from a history of witches who have done terrible things.  So he doesn't want history to dictate his future.  I enjoyed reading this.  And I'm looking forward to the next one.

I think this is a fun and easy read.  You're either going to love Nathan or you're not.  But at least give the series a try.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Genre:  YA Historical Fiction

Description (taken from Jennifer Donnelly's website):
It is 1906 and Mattie Gokey is trying to learn how to stand up like a man -- even though she’s a sixteen-year-old girl. At her summer job at a resort on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack mountains, she will earn enough money to make something of her life.

That money could be a dowry to wed the handsome but dull Royal Loomis. It could save her father’s brokeback farm. Or it might buy her a train ticket to New York City and college and a life that she can barely allow herself to imagine.

But Mattie’s worries and plans are cast into a cold light when the drowned body of Grace Brown turns up – a young woman who gave Mattie a packet of love letters, letters that convince Mattie that the drowning was no accident.

Inspired by the sensational Chester Gillette murder case of 1906, which was also the basis for Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and the film A Place in the Sun, this story evokes novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, and other classics that hark back to times of lost innocence.

Mattie lives in a small town in New York where eery girl's dream is to get married and help their husband on the farm while having a family of their own.  But Mattie has a way with words and is one of the first to get a high school diploma in her town.  Her teacher helps her dream of college and a degree.  Her best friend wants her to go to New York City with him for school.  But is this dream within reach?  With her father's farm needing more help and a boy catching her eye, will she be able to leave it all?

Mattie is currently working at a resort where a lot of rich folk stop for a vacation.  One of the guests gives her a pile of letters to destroy before disappearing one day.  When they do find her, Mattie begins to read the letters and relate them to her own life.  At the crossroads of youth and adulthood, Mattie must decide who she wants to be.  And just maybe, Grace Brown's words will leave an impression and help Mattie choose the life she wants.

This was such a good coming-of-age novel set in the early 1900s.  And hearing Mattie's story reminded me so much of my own life, and the choices I made as a young adult.  Since I might be a little biased for having also moved away for college and career, I was definitely rooting for one path over the other.  And while the small subtleties and plot lines were easy to see, it was still endearing to see the main character eventually catch on and see things in a different light.

This was definitely a refreshingly different read for me.  While it has a slower pace than other novels, it still caught my attention pretty early.  I had to know what Mattie decided to do with her future.

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