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.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

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.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

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.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|
“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.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|
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. 


US/CA ONLY



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly

Title: Seriously Shifted
Author: Tina Connolly
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Series: Seriously Wicked # 2

Hardcover, 240 Pages
Publication: November 1, 2016 by Tor Teen

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

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


Teenage witch Cam isn’t crazy about the idea of learning magic. She’d rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother’s wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them.

Esmerelda is the mean girl of the witches. Valda likes to drop anvils on people’s heads. And Malkin—well, Malkin is just plain terrifying. Their idea of fun is a little game—they each pick a student from Cam’s high school and compete to see who can make their teen the most miserable. But Cam suspects one of the witches may have an ulterior motive…which means someone at school could be in worse danger yet.

Now Cam’s learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don’t get him first, that is.

Can’t a good witch ever catch a break?

I had the pleasure of reading Connolly’s YA series, Seriously Wicked, last year and enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun and cute read. It reminded me a lot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch…a show I loved as a kid. Seriously Shifted, the second book in the series was just as fun as the first book! In the last book our protagonist Cam stopped The Witched Witch from wrecking havoc on her school and taking over the world. And in this sequel we found Cam taking on three evil witches determined to turn her school into a play ground. Each witch targeted a specific classmate, where misery was the goal and a mental breakdown meant winning. With the help of Jenah, Cam’s mother A.K.A. The Witched Witch and new friends Henny and Leo; Cam is on a mission to outsmart and out-witch the Do-Badder-Club Witches.

Cam is learning to embrace her witchy side and is finally willing to learn the ins and outs of witchcraft. Not only does Cam not want to be like her mother, she is determined to be a good and ethical witch; which was a little harder than it seemed when she’s surrounded by evil witches hell-bent on creating mayhem and tricking Cam into using non-ethical ingredients like Pixie Bone or Goat’s Blood. All the while, Cam is still trying to balance school, friends, and romance with the endless chores and lessons Sarmine kepy stacking on Cam.

I adored Cam and her friends. I loved that Cam wanted to use her magic to help and protect others. At sixteen, teenagers are usually more self absorbed and can only think of themselves. But not Cam; she went out of her way to help everyone…even people she barely knew. As for Cams friends, they were very supportive of Cam and had her back no matter the situation. They were just an all around great and unique group of people.

I definitely enjoyed Seriously Shifted. It was another fun and cute addition to the series and I am looking forward to reading more of Cam’s adventures in spells and high school. If you’re looking for a light, fun or quick read, I highly recommend picking up this series, beginning with Seriously Wicked.



Friday, November 18, 2016

I'm Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Title: I'm Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Series: N/A - Standalone

Hardcover, 352 Pages
Publication: October 18, 2016  by Balzer + Bray

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

Purchase|Amazon|B&N|
Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?
I first heard about this book back in February. McNeil was a guest author at a book signing I was attending. And at this signing the authors all talked about their current/upcoming projects and it was there that McNeil talked about her upcoming book, I’m Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl. McNeil is known for her Mystery/Horror novels and stated that this book is unlike anything she ever wrote before. I was intrigued, so when I was pitched this book to review I immediately and happily agreed!

This book was quite a surprise. I enjoyed it more than I expected considering I’m not a fan of the term/trope ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ but there were definitely some up and downs that came with the territory. I liked the concept of the book, it may not be anything new…we’ve seen it done one way or another but McNeil put her own spin on it and made it her own. The writing was smooth and it flowed perfectly which kept me engaged the entire time. For a contemporary book, there sure was a lot of action which is always a must for me.

The initial stage of Bea’s formula experiment was fun and entertaining to watch. It kind of reminded me of Mean Girls, When Cady infiltrated Regina’s group. It was cool seeing her formula working immediately; skyrocketing her and her friends from nobodies to the most popular kids in school. But her experiment began to spiral out of control and she started to see the cause and effects of her actions. I’ll admit the Manic Pixie Dream Girl had me smiling and giggling at the beginning but after awhile it got a bit tiring and cringe worthy. Bea crossed a line that she shouldn’t have and lost track of why she did the experiment in the first place. However, everything didn’t completely go downhill. Bea eventually realized what she was doing, fixed her mistakes and the story ended on a good note.

All in all, I’m Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl was a fun read. It wasn’t perfect by any means but it’s definitely worth a read and I really liked McNeil’s writing style. If you’re looking for a light, fun, and easy read, then give this book a try!


Friday, November 11, 2016

[BLOG TOUR] I’M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL BY GRETCHEN MCNEIL: AUTHOR PROFILE + CONTEST

Welcome to my stop on I'M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL Blog Tour. For today's stop, I have a fun author profile for you and one lucky reader will get a chance to win their very own copy of I'm not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl! Check out the post below.




Meet Gretchen!

Gretchen McNeil's latest novel, I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, is a romantic contemporary comedy. She is also known for her suspense and horror novels. 

We wanted to share 10 fun facts about Gretchen and her books with you!

- She tries to cook every night.
- She is a former coloratura soprano.
- She lends her voice to the character Mary on G4's Code Monkeys.
- She sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Bezerk.
- Her favorite movie is Clue.
- Her least favorite movie is Titanic.
- Her favorite author is Agatha Christie.
- Her favorite color is red.
- She got married in a bookstore.
- Her novels have been sold in Chinese, Spanish, and Turkish.




ABOUT THE BOOK

Published October 18, 2016  by Balzer + Bray
Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Purchase|Amazon|B&N|


Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?




GIVEAWAY

A big thanks to Saichek Publicity, I have one (1) copy of I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl to give away!

To enter please answer the following question by sharing it in the comments and/or on social media (with these hashtags)


Who is your favorite “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” character from a movie or book — why?


#GretchenMcNeil 
#ImNotYourManicPixieDreamGirl



a Rafflecopter giveaway





ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, a writer, and a clown. She is also the author of Get Even as well as Ten, which was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and an ALA Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth and was nominated for Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012 by Romantic Times. Gretchen blogs with the Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels.