Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Uncharted by Erin Cashman

Title: Uncharted
Author: Erin Cashman
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 416 Pages
Publication: September 4, 2018 by Page Street Kids

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

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Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality—because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. When she accompanies her father to the funeral of some family friends who drowned, she’s surprised to find her grief reflected in the face of Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. Griffin is nothing like the carefree boy she once knew. Now he’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for his parents’ deaths.

One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s dad goes missing in the woods, and she suspects Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He refuses to answer her questions, particularly those related to the mysterious “expedition” his parents took to Ireland, where they went missing for seven months.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose—and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways.
At it’s heart Uncharted is mystery with a touch of myths and fantasy. More mystery than fantasy in my opinion with a secret society and a mysterious mythical island of Hy-Brasil that holds the key to the Fountain of Youth that people are dying to protect or kill to find. I was immediately sold on the idea. I always found the legend of Hy-Brasil fascinating, the island west of Ireland that can only be once every seven years…tales of magic, mythical beast, advanced technology and even faerie inhabitants.

I liked the concept of the novel but I thought it could have been executed better. While Annabeth’s dad, Griffin and the others’ lives were in danger, I still didn’t feel like the stakes were high enough. Everyone lives’ was hinged on keeping the location of Hy-Brasil a secret…but Annabeth was able to figure a lot out in a short period of time. Readers are also told of how technologically advance the Brasilites are and how The Council rules everything with an iron thumb but that is all we know of it. I wanted to learn more. I was more interested in the island than the experiment the Magellans were working on or the mystery surrounding their deaths and how it related to Annabeth’s dad disappearance. The story also focused on Annabeth and Griffin’s relationship. They were childhood friends and are once again reunited 4-5 years later and all of the sudden they’re in-love? I get that they’re kids but it didn’t feel realistic. I also wasn’t a fan of Annabeth and Griffin’ s hot and cold behavior. It was a bit too angsty for me.

Uncharted was a decent read but not without flaws. I was hoping for so much more; more action and Irish legends. I thought the story needed a lot more work, the writing was slightly clunky at times suffering from moments of lulls between scenes and not fully fleshed out characters. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Annabeth or Griffin, I found them frustrating and vexing most of time. I was really hoping to love it but it fell short of being a great read. I’d recommend checking out an excerpt/sample before reading or purchasing to see if this is something you’d like. 




Sunday, September 09, 2018

Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire

Title: Night and Silence
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye # 12

Hardcover, 368 Pages
Publication: September 4, 2018 by DAW

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


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Things are not okay.

In the aftermath of Amandine's latest betrayal, October "Toby" Daye's fragile self-made family is on the verge of coming apart at the seams. Jazz can't sleep, Sylvester doesn't want to see her, and worst of all, Tybalt has withdrawn from her entirely, retreating into the Court of Cats as he tries to recover from his abduction. Toby is floundering, unable to help the people she loves most heal. She needs a distraction. She needs a quest.

What she doesn't need is the abduction of her estranged human daughter, Gillian. What she doesn't need is to be accused of kidnapping her own child by her ex-boyfriend and his new wife, who seems to be harboring secrets of her own. There's no question of whether she'll take the case. The only question is whether she's emotionally prepared to survive it.

Signs of Faerie's involvement are everywhere, and it's going to take all Toby's nerve and all her allies to get her through this web of old secrets, older hatreds, and new deceits. If she can't find Gillian before time runs out, her own child will pay the price. One question remains:

Who in Faerie remembered Gillian existed? And what do they stand to gain? No matter how this ends, Toby's life will never be the same.

I went into Night and Silence with a lot of trepidation. The last few books in the series fell short of what was expected when it came to McGuire’s writing and world-building. And as I said in my last review of The Brightest Fell, I tired of the missing children story line; lo and behold the latest plot in the 12th novel of the October Daye series centered around October’s daughter Gillian being kidnapped, again.

With that said, I found Night and Silence enjoyable for the most part, although it is still riddled with copious recaps. McGuire reveals another member of October’s family that I am sure no one will see coming, especially as said person was hidden in plain sight. Readers will also learn more about the history of Faerie and how everything became fractured and divided. I was also glad to see Tybalt back with the group, even though he’s far from recovery.

Overall, Night and Silence is a solid addition to the series. I have a feeling the next book will either take us to the wedding in the Westlands, a wedding I’m sure everyone is waiting for or to The Court of Dreaming Cats. Be sure to check out the novella at the end after you finish Night and Silence, it’s from Gillian’s point-of-view and explains what happened during and after her kidnapping. 



Friday, September 07, 2018

Spotlight: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven + A Romance Starter Kit Giveaway

In anticipation of the release of PHOENIX UNBOUND by Grace Draven out September 25th, Penguin Random House is hosting an amazing giveaway featuring some of of their most popular Fantasy Romances! The giveaway comprises of "first book" of the most beloved authors in the Fantasy genre such as: Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, Nalini Singh, Chloe Neill...and of course today's featured author Grace Draven! To learn more about Phoneix Unbound, check out the synopsis below.








Hits shelves on September 25, 2018

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A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.




 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Grace Draven is a Louisiana native living in Texas with her husband, kids, and a big, doofus dog. She is the winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice for Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and a USA Today Bestselling author. 

CONNECT WITH GRACE|WEBSITE|FACEBOOK|TWITTER|BLOG

Sunday, September 02, 2018

The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Brightest Fell
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye # 11

Hardcover, 368 Pages
Publication: September 5, 2017 by DAW

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


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For once, everything in October “Toby” Daye’s life seems to be going right. There have been no murders or declarations of war for her to deal with, and apart from the looming specter of her Fetch planning her bachelorette party, she’s had no real problems for days. Maybe things are getting better.

Maybe not.

Because suddenly Toby’s mother, Amandine the Liar, appears on her doorstep and demands that Toby find her missing sister, August. But August has been missing for over a hundred years and there are no leads to follow. And Toby really doesn’t owe her mother any favors.

Then Amandine starts taking hostages, and refusal ceases to be an option.
The synopsis of the 11th book in the October Daye series doesn’t leave a lot to be desired. Amandine, October’s mother shows up to her house to force her to look for her sister August who has been missing for over a century and to make sure she complies she takes Tybalt and Jazz as collateral. October ends up teaming up with her nemesis and stepfather Simon; and thus begins the search.

The theme of missing children seems to be always prevalent in the October Daye series and I wonder if McGuire has run out of ideas? It’s either missing children, drug, politics or war. I would really like to see something different for a change. 


This is the first time we actually see Amandine and she’s a despicable character as I imagined. I hated her and how she treated October. She constantly contradicted herself treating like October isn’t her daughter yet expects October to respect and treat her like a mother. Nope. And she comes into October's house making unreasonable demands and takes her people! And then there’s Simon. We met Simon in one of the previous book but didn’t really get to know him. We finally learn more about Simon and why he did the things he did. He was a pleasant surprise. I feel like I initially misjudged him and actually enjoyed Simon and October’s interaction. However, the ending was not pleasant for Simon. And finally, readers will meet August, October’s sister. I didn’t recall she had a sister. Nor did I like her. She’s a typical spoiled and entitled pure-blood and I could care less about her and thought she was better staying lost.

In my opinion the plot was weak and did nothing to move the series forward. But I did enjoyed everything but the beginning (Amandine taking hostages) and the end (Bratty August making demands to find Simon and the outcome with Jazz and Tybalt). I’m not sure where McGuire is taking this series in this new arc, but so far it’s not so good. The series is about to go onto it’s 12th novel and it clearly shows. The overall story-line is getting a bit stale and the books are overflowing with recapping. Again, we are too far into the series to be recapping every single detail for every character. If McGuire took out the recapping the book would be significantly shorter. I hope she fixes this issue.




Thursday, August 30, 2018

Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire

Title: Once Broken Faith
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye # 10

Mass Market Paperback, 420 Pages
Publication: September 6, 2016 by Daw

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


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Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.
Having read the last book, A Red-Rose Chain fairly recently and not enjoying it as much as I hoped I was worried that I was going to encounter the same issues in Once Broken Faith. Thankfully I did not! Once Broken Faith was a much better improvement since the last two books and got me excited again; and reminded me why I loved this series in the first place. In the last book, Walter discovered the cure for Elf-Shot while in The Kingdom of Silences and now in Once Broken Faith all the Kings and Queens as well as the High King and Queen of the Westland are congregating in Queen Arden’s knowe to discuss whether Elf-Shot should be distributed. But of course a conclave of notabilities is the perfect place to wreck havoc and a King is murdered. And Toby, Hero of the Realm is once again tasked with finding the killer.

We all know the World of Faerie is vast, with many locations yet to be discovered. McGuire however expanded much more in Once Broken Faith as Knowes and their Kings and Queens make a first time appearance and others from little demesnes; there were approximately five or six new kingdoms introduced. There were certainly a lot of new characters and it got overwhelming in the beginning but by the middle of the book I was able to discerned who was who and from which Kingdom they hailed. Old familiar characters also had plenty of page time such as The Luidaeg, Tybalt, Quentin and Walter (who I’m starting to really adore!). While I loved seeing new and old characters I was especially happy to learn more about King Aethlin and Queen Maida, Quentin’s parents. Who would’ve thought that Maida used to be just like Toby? And for people with the most powers, they were nothing like their pureblood peers which was refreshing. Aethlin and Maida were understanding, kind and as down-to-earth as it gets when it comes to aristocracy. I hope we’ll get to see their home soon, perhaps during the wedding!

I’ve been with this series since the beginning and things you can always expect with each installment is danger, blood (a lot of it) and Toby an inch from death or actually dying. Each book is a compact whodunit mystery which is expected because let’s not forget she was a private investigator before she became a hero of the realms. I really enjoyed Once Broken Faith it made me laugh and cry throughout the entire book and I felt invested and engrossed in the plot unlike previous book. It was everything you’d get from reading this series overall and despite the last book…the book/series in generally have been getting better and better over time.

However I have two issues in regards to the series (which I stated in the last review). The first is the redundancy of recapping the same things over and over. Whether it was Toby stating information or McGuire summarizing…the same thing kept getting rehashed three or four times. For example whenever Sylvester made an appearance, Toby would whine how she wasn’t ready to forgive Sylvester for lying to her about Simon and how hurt she was. Yes, we get it and didn’t needed to be reminded when it was mentioned a couple pages before. It was pretty annoying. My second issue was literally around the 75% mark of the book Toby was dying or about to die. Something life-threatening would occur and Toby would lose consciousness only to wake up in the next chapter after being saved. This HAPPENED EXACTLY in the previous book. In A Red-Rose Chain, Toby gets Elf-Shot, scene said she blacks out/looses consciousness only to be saved by Walter. In Once Broken Faith, Toby gets pulled out of the tower window, falls and looses consciousness only to be saved by Jin. I am sure if I went back to all the previous book and checked around the 75% mark I would find the same modus operandi. I mean com’on, this is getting ridiculously old, predictable and tiresome. McGuire should change things up a bit instead of following the same exact format over and over.

With that said, I would give the book overall 4 stars because I still enjoyed it and the ending 2 stars because of the unoriginal almost-deaths and too convenient ending...for once I'd actually prefer a cliffhanger ending than this. 




Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Triumphs
Author: Ilona Andrews 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels # 10

Hardcover, 352 Pages
Publication: August 28, 2018 by Ace

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


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Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She's made friends and enemies. She's found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate's doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.
I remember quite clearly when I first discovered the Kate Daniels series, it was the summer of 2009. I barely discovered Urban Fantasy then. But Ilona Andrews awoken and cemented my love for the genre and I’ve been a faithful reader of theirs and the genre ever since. I’ll be honest, like most of Andrews’ fans, ever since Andrews announced two years ago that the Kate Daniel’s series was coming to an end at book ten I was extremely sad. I wasn’t ready then nor was I ready now. But of course Andrews know what’s best and if it only takes ten books to tell Kate’s story then readers are just going to have to have faith that it will end as they hope and of course, Kate deserves a happy ending.

Magic Triumphs was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. This book gave me all the feels! I was grinning and laughing out loud so much. The tender moments made me immensely happy and had me crying…you always hear the term of your heart feeling so full; that’s exactly how I felt for the majority of the book. Andrews delivered on all front from the usual high quality world building, the beautiful personal scenes between characters, witty banter, incredible action scenes, to interesting mythology and a whole lot of heart. I loved every moment of Magic Triumphs.

Everything Kate has done is leading up to this point as she faces her father and an opponent she has never encountered before. Familiar characters we’ve met over the course of the series and new allies are all coming together for the final showdown to save Atlanta. Kate has always been a kick-ass characters, there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for the people she loves. But readers will see another side to Kate; and motherhood has never looked so good…or cool! While this book was already pretty damn near perfect, the introduction of Kate’s son Conlan was one of the biggest highlight of the book for me. The kid stole every scene he was in! I don’t want to go into too much details about anything but a lot of questions readers have will get answered and while this is the end of the series for Kate and Curran; it’s not the end to the characters/world as Andrews left the an open ending for a lot of possibilities and spin-offs.

Magic Triumphs was the perfect ending to a perfect series. It’s been a hell of a ride and I am so grateful to the authors for bringing Kate and Co into my life and letting me join them on their crazy awesome journey (even if it's fictional). I’ve said this before and it bears repeating, but this series is a must read for all Urban Fantasy/Fantasy fan. The Kate Daniels series is the epitome, best of the best of what Urban Fantasy has to offer. If you haven’t by chance read this series yet, please remedy that quickly by starting at the beginning with Magic Bites. If you’ve been a long time reader of the series make sure you read Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant #1), Hugh’s book before you start Magic Triumphs it’s imperative if you want the entire story/background (Huge plays a big role in the battle). This has been such a bittersweet ending to a beloved series but it also is a new beginning for other characters to share their own story. I’m so ready and can’t wait to see what new adventures awaits us with Andrews at the helm. 




Monday, August 27, 2018

Irontown Blues by John Varley

Title: Irontown Blues
Author: John Varley
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Eight Worlds # 4

Paperback, 304 Pages
Publication: August 28, 2018 by Ace

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


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A new noir science fiction novel from a master of science fiction set in the Eight Worlds series about a detective on the hunt for biohackers who have created a dangerous new disease.

Christopher Bach was a policeman in one of the largest Lunar cities when the A.I. Lunar Central Computer had a breakdown, known as the Big Glitch, but it turned out to be a larger war than anyone expected. When order was restored, Chris's life could never be the same. Now he functions as a private detective assisted by his genetically altered dog Sherlock as he does his best to emulate the tough guys in the noir books and movies that he loves.

When he takes the case of a woman involuntarily afflicted with an engineered virus, he is on the hunt to track the bio hackers down to the infamous district of Irontown.
I wasn’t aware that Irontown Blues was part of a series that started back in the 70’s and 90’s. However, it can be read as a standalone as there is a new character narrating. The book follows P.I Bach and his trusty companion Sherlock, a genetically altered bloodhound as they investigate a potential disease outbreak leading to the notorious zone of Irontown, a place filled with criminals and the unsavory sorts.

I thought the synopsis sounded interesting: a private detective, dangerous diseases and a corrupted city all sounded right up my alley. But unfortunately it fell short of my expectations. Let me start with what I liked. Irontown Blues had this old style noir sci-fi we don’t see in most sci-fi today, which I appreciated. The overall writing was also well done. But that’s pretty much it. I thought the plot was weak and a bit silly. The gist is Bach is chasing a person that is manufacturing type of diseases (found on old earth). Just the overall topic was a little too weird for me, and I normally can handle weird. The first half of the book went into detail how some folks on Lunar were obsessed with certain disgusting smells like; sweat socks, rotting food and vaginal yeast infection. Yeah, no. And how some people would purposely get diseases like psoriasis (because you can’t let alone get sick nowadays)...it was just topics I didn’t want to read about.

Another issues I had was the narration. The book is not only narrated by Bach but there were some chapters where Bach’s bloodhound, Sherlock was narrating. I didn’t like or care for Sherlock’s chapters. Sherlock’s chapters were boring and the writing stilted, which I get because it’s from a canine’s perspective. There was a reason why Varley incorporated Sherlock’s POV. But like I said I didn’t like reading his chapters. Anyone seen the Pixar's UP? Well Sherlock’s chapters reminded of me of the dog Doug in that movie. Some people may find it funny and entertaining or annoying. I’m with the later. I also felt that Sherlock’s chapters were filled with nothing but info-dumping, a big turnoff in any book.

I honestly would have not picked up Irontown Blues if I knew it was part of a series. I’m not the type to start a series mid-book either. While this book wasn’t for me I’m sure longtime Varley/Eight Worlds fans will be excited to learn that he written another novel in the Eight Worlds series and more likely find enjoyment in reading Irontown Blues after so many years between the last novel.