Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Title: Frostblood
Author: Elly Blake
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Frostblood Saga # 1

Hardcover, 376 pages
Publication: January 10, 2017 by Little Brown BFYR

Source: I won an ARC through a giveaway.

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Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king's tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

I’ve read a few great novels so far this year and among them is Frostblood, the first book in a brand new Young Adult series. I first saw this book in the NOVL newsletter as a giveaway and thought it sounded interesting. Lo and behold, I was one of the lucky subscribers that received this book for review. I suspected Frostblood was going to be good, at least better than most of the YA I’ve read in the past but I didn’t expect to be swept away and so engrossed by the story and characters as much as I did. It was so much more than I expected and kept me reading till the early morning…where I totally looked and felt like a zombie the next day. But it was worth it. I finished it in one and half days! That’s how awesome this book was. It’s very rare nowadays for me to read a book quickly, almost straight through; where I can’t tear myself away from the book until I know what happens next. I think the last book that made me feel that way was Daughter of Smoke and Bones back in 2011! Plus I’m extremely picky when it comes to YA novels. It’s getting harder and harder for a book, fantasy at that, to stand out in a sea of fantasy novels/debuts but Blake’s book definitely caught my attention and it looks to be a start to a fabulous series.

Ruby, our main heroine was one feisty and stubborn chick, which makes sense since she’s a Fireblood; a person that wields and controls fire. Except Ruby never really understood or learned how to control her powers. Ever since Ruby was young, she was taught to hide her gift and never to use it because of how dangerous it was. But after the death of her mother and the destruction of her village; Ruby found herself in the company of two Frostbloods, who controlled water/ice and were willing to teach Ruby to master her powers. Under the condition that she’d help them kill The Frost King. Ruby may have a strong snarky attitude but she was just as caring and passionate when it came to people that mattered. I loved seeing Ruby’s growth throughout the book, because she certainly wasn’t the same girl that was captured by the King’s men.

Another main character is Arcus, the mysterious and secretive Frostblood that broke Ruby out of prison. As you all probably figured out by reading the synopsis, Arcus eventually becomes Ruby’s love interest. Man, oh man…the chemistry and tension between these two were off the chart! I loved the slow burning romance, it gave me goosebumps! My favorite scenes were without-a-doubt of Arcus and Ruby training together. However, the way Ruby acted towards the end is what kept this book from being 5 stars. While she may have been corrupted by Minax, I didn’t like how easily she dismissed her feelings for Arcus or how she can kiss one person one minute and jump to another guy the next. It was very off-putting in my opinion. But thankfully she ended up with the right person in the end!

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a great and engaging YA novel. Although Frostblood may have the usual tropes and was a little predictable at time (Arcus’s identity), I still found myself enjoying it immensely. Blake created a fantastic world and characters, enabling me to immerse myself into the story and escape reality for awhile. All the best books do. I highly recommend Frostblood for those that haven't read it yet, it was the perfect blend of romance and action. Fireblood, the second book in the trilogy comes out this year, how cool is that? We don’t have to wait a year! I am so stoked about it and can’t wait to jump back into the world of Frostbloods and Firebloods!



Monday, February 06, 2017

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Portal Fantasy
Series: Wayward Children # 1

Hardcover, 173 pages
Publication: April 5, 2016 by Tor.com

Source: Purchased

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No Solicitations.No Visitors.No Guests.

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.
 

I never knew there was a specific name for books where the characters traveled to a different world/dimension/realm, which has been dubbed Portal Fantasy. However, it’s not anything new. We’ve seen it in movies and literature alike from Alice in Wonderland, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to Harry Potter and Coraline. There’s an abundance of them. But what sets McGuire's novella apart from the previous novels mention is McGuire deals with the aftermath of the characters’ adventures and travels. Asking the question, what happens next? Readers get an inside look at these characters who were whisked away as children and returned as young adults adjusting to coming home/to reality; trying to normalize their lives when they never felt normalcy except in the worlds they escaped to as kids.

I don’t read novellas often but Seanan McGuire is one of my favorite authors (If you haven’t checked out her October Daye series yet, you’re seriously missing out!). And anything she writes is a must read for me. I get that novellas are short and you can only do so much in x-amount of pages; you have to have fleshed out characters, some sort of world building/concept and a plot. Despite the rave reviews for Every Heart a Doorway, this novella fell short on all three accounts. The characters weren’t fully developed and except for Jack and Jill; Nancy, our main protagonist and all of the other characters felt one dimensional. The world building was a unique idea but with the book being so short, McGuire could only set the foundation for it and didn’t really explore it further. And lastly, the plot was pretty generic and straightforward. A whodunit mystery. Someone is going around murdering the students and Nancy and her new friends are trying to figure out who the killer is. That’s basically the gist of it.

This book had its interesting moments but overall it didn’t meet my expectations. Although I didn’t enjoy Every Heart a Doorway as much as I wanted, the next book in this novella series (?) is centered around Jack and Jill and their time before they came to West’s Home for Wayward Children. Now that is something I’d read, plus they were the only characters I found intriguing. If you were planning on checking this novella out, I’d suggest borrowing it some way, some how. In my opinion it’s not worth purchasing.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

City of Light by Keri Arthur

Title: City of Light
Author: Keri Arthur
Genre: Sci-Fi Dystopian
Series: An Outcast Novel #1

Mass Market Paperback, 304 Pages

Publication: January 5, 2016 by Signet

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


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When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between this world and the next, they allowed entry to the Others—demons, wraiths, and death spirits who turned the shadows into their hunting grounds. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay....

As a déchet—a breed of humanoid super-soldiers almost eradicated by the war—Tiger has spent her life in hiding. But when she risks her life to save a little girl on the outskirts of Central City, she discovers that the child is one of many abducted in broad daylight by a wraith-like being—an impossibility with dangerous implications for everyone on earth.

Because if the light is no longer enough to protect them, nowhere is safe...
 
This book was amazing and my first book by Keri Arthur. I don’t know why I waited so long. At least now I know why she has such a huge fan base, her world-building and writing is definitely top notch. I remembered being super intrigued when I first heard about Arthur’s new series and I got it when it was released but for some reason I never got around to reading it. So much regrets! City of Light is a Science Fiction Dystopian that takes the overly used supes of vampires, shifters and ghosts and spins it into something completely new and unique…nothing like I’ve ever read before and I loved all of it.

City of Light follows Tiger, a déchet, a human created super soldier with human, vampire and shifter DNA. There are two main types of déchets; assassins and lures and Tiger is the later. A Lures’ main function was to seduce, spy, and gather information from enemies. But since the war over a hundred years ago between humans and shifters destroyed most of humanity, shifters and déchets alike; Tiger believed she was the last of her kind and has kept under the radar, hiding out in an old military bunker with hundreds of ghost déchets. It’s been a quiet and lonely hundred years until one night she came across a child being hunted by vampires. Unable to turn a blind eye, Tiger rescues the girl and her incapacitated guardian and is thrust back into civilization whether she wants to or not.

I haven’t came across many sci-fi novels that incorporated vampires, shifters and ghosts …by themselves let alone all three! As for hybrid characters…you got your usual fares of Vampire/Human, Shifter/Human but never a Humanoid/Vampire/Shifter. I was skeptical at first about it all, it’s never been done before as far as I knew but Arthur pulled it off flawlessly and made it worked ; creating a world and characters that kept me engrossed and more importantly invested in the story. The world building took a little getting used to as there were so many groups involved but it was never difficult to understand. I loved that it was complex but not overwhelming with useless details.

Tiger was an awesome heroine. Despite what history said of déchets, Tiger wasn’t a mindless and unfeeling abomination. She was quite the opposite. Tiger was strong, ruthless (when she needed to be), caring and had a moral compass when others around her had none. She had more feeling (humanness) than the humans that created her and the shifters that despised her kind. I also appreciated the lack of romance in City of Light as it kept Tiger focused on the problem at hand and she wasn’t falling head over heels over a guy (which from what I heard usually happens in Arthur’s novels). However, this didn’t mean there wasn’t anything else going on. There were a few sex scenes and sexual tension going on with Tiger and another character but luckily it didn’t detract from the novel itself…since there were reasons for those graphic scenes.

I loved City of Light and am still beating myself up about reading it so late. Thankfully the sequel, Winter Halo is out so I won’t be making the same mistake twice! City of Light left readers on a big cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see what happens next with Tiger and the children! This may be my first book by Arthur but it certainly will not be my last. I highly recommend Urban Fantasy and Sci-fi readers to check this new series out, you don’t want to miss it!



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

Title: Martians Abroad
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Series: N/A, Standalone

Hardcover, 288 Pages
Publication: January 17, 2017 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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Polly Newton has one single-minded dream, to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, the director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly's plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth—the one planet Polly has no desire to visit. Ever.

Homesick and cut off from her desired future, Polly cannot seem to fit into the constraints of life on Earth, unlike Charles, who deftly maneuvers around people and sees through their behavior to their true motives. Strange, unexplained, dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up. Charles may be right—there's more going on than would appear, and the stakes are high. With the help of Charles, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.
 


Carrie Vaughn is well known for her ever popular Urban Fantasy Kitty Norville Series, but Vaughn branches off into something different with Martians Aboard, a new standalone Sci-Fi novel for Young Adult (but can be enjoyed by everyone of course). If I am correct, I think this is Vaughn’s first foray into Young Adult, and she did it marvelously. Martians Aboard kind of reminded me of CW’s Star Crossed, minus the whole romance aspect and being a whole lot better. But what we had was a group of teens from across the solar system being sent to earth’s Galileo Academy to promote interplanetary relationships between humans and offworlders...and as you can imagine...high school is no joke. And if a student is able to succeed and pass at Galileo Academy, then they’ll be ready for anything. For the real world. Readers follow twins Polly and Charles, the only martians at school as they try to navigate the unknown territories of earth and high school.

I absolutely loved Polly. Teenagers, or characters in most Young Adult novels come off annoying and angsty, you know, typical teens. However, Polly and her brother, lived somewhat a sheltered life, I mean, living on Mars had a lot of restriction and there’s only so much one can do on a dry, dusty terrain. Polly is definitely not your typical teenager and I think her obliviousness to earth’s social norms made her all the more endearing. There was a lot of “accidents” occurring coincidentally since Polly and the other colonies kids arrived at Galileo Academy (one of the most prestigious school in all of the colonies). Unlike most of Polly’s classmates who only looked out for themselves; Polly always found herself in the middle of those “accidents”, jumping in front of danger to rescue a fellow classmate, because it was the right thing to do. I loved her impulsiveness, bravery, selflessness and dedication to her friends and family. Polly’s group of friends were all just as great and super supportive. My favorites scenes was when everyone worked together, the Earth kids and offworlder kids. And despite their differences of living in different part of the solar system; at the end of the day they’re all the same, a bunch of kids dealing with the same problems, up and downs of high school.

All in all Martians Abroad was a very enjoyable read and everything wrapped up nicely (however, a little too quickly). Too bad this is a standalone. I wish there was more. I wouldn’t mind reading more about Polly, the enigmatic Charles and their buddies. Martians Abroad is a coming of age story and is a character driven novel, so there isn’t a lot of action. But trust me, watching Polly develop relationships with her fellow Galileo classmates was just as interesting and had me finishing the book all in one sitting! I was glued to the pages. I highly recommend everyone checking out this fun, light and charming Sci-Fi YA. It will not disappoint!



Friday, January 13, 2017

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Title: Between Two Thorns
Author: Emma Newman
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Split Worlds # 1

Trade Paperback, 334 Pages
Publication: August 2, 2016 by Division Publishing

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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Beautiful and nuanced as it is dangerous, the manners of Regency and Victorian England blend into a scintillating fusion of urban fantasy and court intrigue.

Between Mundanus, the world of humans, and Exilium, the world of the Fae, lies the Nether, a mirror-world where the social structure of 19th-century England is preserved by Fae-touched families who remain loyal to their ageless masters. Born into this world is Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver, who escapes it all to live a normal life in Mundanus, free from her parents and the strictures of Fae-touched society. But now she s being dragged back to face an arranged marriage, along with all the high society trappings it entails.

Crossing paths with Cathy is Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds treaty with a dislocated soul who polices the boundaries between the worlds, keeping innocents safe from the Fae. After a spree of kidnappings and the murder of his fellow Arbiters, Max is forced to enlist Cathy s help in unravelling a high-profile disappearance within the Nether. Getting involved in the machinations of the Fae, however, may prove fatal to all involved.

Between Two Thorns is the first book in The Split Worlds Series by Emma Newman. This series actually came out a couple of years ago under a different publication but was recently republished with a new company and covers. There were two things that initially piqued my interest when I first heard about this series: faeries and magic. You can never go wrong with either. And I'm happt to report that this book did not disappoint! The Split Worlds consisted of 21st Century Mundanis (our world), The Nether world where the fae-touched resides (those with faerie blood somewhere in their family line) and Exilium, where the fae lords and ladies live. This book was very meticulous and multifaceted with a large cast of characters. With so much information, it felt overwhelming at times but Newman is a talented writer and she tied everything together perfectly. The beginning is slow, but once you get to the halfway point and end...it's so worth it!

As I stated before there is a large cast of characters and readers are following multiple characters and thread all simultaneously. First we have Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver. Catherine comes from one of the great families (high society) in the Nether but she hated her life there and has been hiding out and attending college in Mundanis. Then we have Max, an arbiter, like a policeman guarding the separation between the worlds as he investigates a missing person case. And finally we have William, Catherine’s betroth and Sam a mundane who has secrets locked inside his mind; characters whose roles are more secondary but just as important. While I thought Newman did a great job in the character development department, overall I have mix emotions regarding the characters. I thought they were interesting and they kept me engaged but I never felt a real connection to anyone. I hope with the world building and foundation set, Newman will focus more on the characters because for the most part, the characters felt like they were constantly running or moving…readers had very little chance to learn of their background/history. But this little issue doesn't mean I enjoyed the book any less...quite the opposite.

This 384 page book packed a whole lot! If you’re looking for a fresh and fun fantasy and unique take on faeries then I suggest checking out Between Two Thorns. Readers are left with a huge cliffhanger that will have them clamoring for the next book. Between Two Thorns looks to be the start of a promising series and I can’t wait to read the sequel and see what Newman has in store for Catherine, Max and the gang. Like I said Magic and Faeries, you can never go wrong with either.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

Title: The Last Harvest
Author: Kim Liggett
Genre: Horror, Young Adult
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 352 Pages
Publication: January 10, 2017 by Tor Teen

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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“I plead the blood.”

Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad's throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely Cattle Ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest.

Now, on the first anniversary of the Midland, Oklahoma slaughter, the whole town's looking at Clay like he might be next to go over the edge. Clay wants to forget the past, but the sons and daughters of the Preservation Society—a group of prominent farmers his dad accused of devil worship—won't leave him alone. Including Ali, his longtime crush, who suddenly wants to reignite their romance after a year of silence, and hated rival Tyler Neely, who’s behaving like they’re old friends.

Even as Clay tries to reassure himself, creepy glances turn to sinister stares and strange coincidences build to gruesome rituals—but when he can never prove that any of it happened, Clay worries he might be following his dad down the path to insanity...or that something far more terrifying lies in wait around the corner.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a good horror story, and The Last Harvest fit the bill perfectly. The Last Harvest takes place in a small town in Oklahoma involving teens, a secret society, nightmares and visions, and a prophecy…which happens to be everything I like in a story! Liggett hooked me in within the first chapter, building on the creep factor as we flashback briefly to the night Clay’s dad died. The Last Harvest paid homage to old school horror, classic horror where we get a sense of something ominous coming, it’s a steady and gradual build, like the perfect slow burn before the big reveal. Liggett nailed everything about this book, from the plot, the setting, to the realistic and relatable characters.

If you’re the squeamish type, then this book might not be for you. Liggett spectacularly details all the horrible and gory things that happened to the people around Clay and it’s pretty graphic at time. Liggett also did an amazing job crafting and incorporating the religious aspects to the story. Although, at first I thought that it sounded too preachy but as the story progressed, I realized that she wasn’t being preachy at all; that this is exactly what the story needed and in my opinion all the better for it.

There was a lot to like about Clay. Before his father’s death he had it all, the girl, popularity, a football star, basically the town’s favorite. But the year after his dad died, it was as if everything was stripped from him. He and his family became outcasts, the black sheeps of the town. I admired Clay for stepping up and putting everything aside to support his family; even going as far as saving all his money to put his youngest sister through a private school. The other 6th generation of the Preservation Society were all very well fleshed out and developed. Although, readers will only come to know a little more than what’s on the surface when it comes to Clay, Ali and Tyler. I still thought Liggett made every one uniquely their own and most importantly still memorable enough in terms of secondary/tertiary characters.

The Last Harvest exceeded all my expectations. It is the best horror story I’ve read in a long time and the best, most shocking twisted endings I’ve read in years! Liggett throws readers in for a loop, with twist after twist and just when you thought you knew everything…she proves you wrong. Oh so wrong. I never would have guessed that ending if you gave me a bunch of chances. It completely surprised me, and to me, those are the best story, the best kind of endings. I know I used the word ‘best’ about 5 times in a paragraph…but it’s just that kind of book! I highly recommend checking out The Last Harvest, you won’t be disappointed!




Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Dead Seeker by Barb & J.C. Hendee + Giveaway

Title: The Dead Seeker
Author: Barb & J.C Hendee
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Dead Seeker #1

Hardcover, 336 pages
Publication: January 3, 2016 by Ace books

Source: I received a review copy from my publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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In the dark reaches of the eastern continent, Tris Vishal travels from village to village, using his power to put unsettled spirits to rest. He works alone, having learned that letting people close only leads to more death. Still, he finds himself accepting the help of the Mondyalitko woman who saves his life a woman whose gifts are as much a burden as his own.

Mari Kaleja thirsted for vengeance since the night her family was taken from her. She has searched far and wide for the one she thinks responsible, known only as The Dead s Man. But before she can kill him, she has to be sure. Mari hopes traveling with Tris will confirm her suspicions. But as they embark on a hunt where the living are just as dangerous as the dead, she learns the risks of keeping your enemy close...Because it s no longer clear who is predator and who is prey.

Barb and J.C Hendee have an extensive backlog of books, but I’ve never had the pleasure of reading their books till now. And I must say it didn’t disappoint. The world building is pretty much straightforward and simple; there wasn’t a magical system or hierarchy that needed explanation. The only thing that was complex was the characters; Mari and Tris, which is exactly how I like my characters to be.

Tris is known as The Dead’s Man, banishing spirits wherever he is called to. He goes from town to town working his gift (or curse) for a fee and moves on. He has lived a life of solitude, people and animal alike fear him. That is until he meets Mari, a woman that saved his life from a couple of bandits. Mari specializes in a wide array of languages and he’d figure she’d be helpful when it came to translating.

Mari has been hunting The Dead’s Man for years, the one that murdered her entire family. And she’s finally found him, and gotten enough of his trust to travel with him but before she enacts her revenge she has to be 100% sure he did it. However, the more they travel together she begins to have doubts and starts seeing him as a person and not prey.

Whether Mari likes it or not, she and Tris worked well together. Tris is this antisocial guy and barely knows how to interact with others while Mari is this headstrong woman who’s always ready to get into the muck of things. I really liked Mari and Tris, the dynamics between the two is great. I thought it was funny that she's there to 'kill' him yet she's always saving him over and over.

The Dead Seekers is a great start to a new series and I can’t wait to see where the authors take it. If you’re looking for a light fantasy read, then this book is for you! I highly recommend it. 












Thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin Randomhouse, I have one (1) copy of THE DEAD SEEKERS to giveaway! To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below. 


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