Sunday, July 29, 2018

Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre

Title: Like Never and Always
Author: Ann Aguirre
Genre: Thriller YA
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 336 Pages
Publication: July 17, 2018 by Tor Teen

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


On a hot summer night, a screech of brakes and shattering glass changes two lives forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital, confused when they call her Morgan. She assumes it’s a case of mistaken identity, yet when the bandages come off, it’s not her face in the mirror anymore. It’s her best friend Morgan’s.

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life, yet Liv must navigate endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety—and a romance that feels like a betrayal. Torn between the boy she loved as Liv and the boy she’s grown to love as Morgan, Liv still has to survive Morgan’s last request.
I’ve read a lot of Aguirre’s work from her Sci-Fi series, Paranormal Young Adult series to her series written with her husband; so I’m quite familiar with her writing style. And in my opinion Like Never and Always is one of her best work. Like Never and Always is a contemporary Young Adult Thriller with a dash of Science Fiction and Paranormal. There are two plots interwoven in the story; the first is Liv, a sixteen-year-old girl wakes up in the body of her best friend Morgan and from there navigates life as Morgan incorporating some of her own personalities and the second is finishing up Morgan’s task in finding out what really happened to her mom. Did she commit suicide or was she murdered?

Aguirre’s latest Young Adult novel touches on a lot of serious topics such as tragedy and grief, lies and betrayal, social status, death, and rape/pedophilia. I really liked how Aguirre layered the mystery in both regards to how Liv ended up in Morgan’s body and they mystery surrounding Morgan Mom’s death. And how she presented these topics into the story tastefully without it feeling forced. I thought Liv and Morgan’s characters were well developed and fleshed out. Even though readers only had a secondary impression of Morgan, by Liv living as Morgan and discovering her secrets; everything made complete sense from her relationship to her friends, acquaintances and to her own father. I don’t know what I would do if I woke up in someone’s else body. Terrified would be an understatement. However I thought Liv handled it as best as she could or thought she could (for the most part). By Liv occupying Morgan’s body she ended up meshing the best qualities of both of them to basically create a new person.

My only issue was the love triangle and how easily Liv was able to move into Morgan’s life. A little too easily and happily I may add (when it came to Clay). I didn’t like how in the beginning Liv was all about Nathan, his feeling, missing him and how she planned to tell him the truth and then a few chapters later she’s all about Clay and makes the final decision that she’s choosing Clay over Nathan. Whom are brothers by the way. I thought it was messy and heartless. She dated Nathan for 8-9 months and he’s was a complete wreck over causing her death yet she ends up falling madly in love with his brother after a a couple of weeks, a month? Not cool. However, by the end of the book I did eventually see Liv differently. Once she made her decision she never went back on it or wavier-ed; meaning despite Clay learning the truth, if he decided he didn’t want to be with her then she would be by herself. No going back to Nathan, no Clay. So there was that. It took a long time and a lot of eye-rolling but Aguirre somehow made everything work and gave the characters a HEA.

With that being said, I still enjoyed the book. It was the perfect combination of a thriller mystery and sci-fi/paranormal. There were a lot of twist and turns and I loved that I didn’t know where the story was going and by the time the ending came, I was completely shocked! I hope we get more books like this from Aguirre because it was unputdownable! I highly recommend it, it’s definitively something new, fresh and has a unique spin on body-swapping/mistaken identity. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Title: Wildfire
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Hidden Legacy # 3

Mass Market Paperback, 391 Pages
Publication: July 25, 2017 by Avon Books

Source: Personal Library 


Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.
I am so glad that I stuck with The Hidden Legacy series because Wildfire was freaking amazing. The cat is out of the bag now, everyone knows about Nevada’s truth-seeking ability and who she’s related to;  Victoria Tremaine, a powerful prime everyone fears. There are other houses with the same/or similar truth ability but no one was as strong as Victoria… until now. Now everyone wants a piece of Nevada, seeing her as a viable power match, a pawn or both. Wildfire explores more Baylor familial, scheming and corrupted politics, powerful magical display and trademark humor you always find in an Andrews novel.

I love this world that the Andrews created, even at only three books (so far), I feel like I know the world and characters just as well as the Kate Daniel series. I’ve becoming attached and invested in everyone’s lives and loved seeing them progress with each installment. The plot thickens as we see more powerful primes jumping into play, a lot of the elites are following this mysterious Caesar. The amount of people involved and the revelation of some of the key players were surprising. Andrews mentioned that they left trail of clues for readers on the identity of Caesar, but I haven’t the slightest clue who he/she is! I think I’m going to need to reread the series to see if I can figure it out.

One of the things I absolutely loved in Wildfire was the relationship of the Baylor clan. The Clan includes super independent, opinionated, take-no-shit-from-anyone women; from their grandma to the youngest Baylor sister, Cousin Leon is both brilliant, funny and sometimes scary and the people that help run Nevada’s surveillance team are just as awesome…Especially Bug! That Coffee scene with Rynda was hilarious. I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it again, I love character driven and think it’s essential in a novel. And Andrews know exactly how to create realistic characters that you instantly connect with and will have you following a series till the end.

I’m not a big fan of romance in general, but this is Ilona Andrews and if their name is on it, I’m going to read it. This is probably the second romance series I’ve ever finished, so y’all know it’s good! If you’re looking for a good paranormal romance series with high-stakes, lots of action, fleshed out world building and complex characters then this is a series you don’t want to miss! I was overjoyed when I heard that Andrews are continuing with the series and the next couple of novels will be featuring Catalina Baylor. Sad that there won’t be anymore Nevada and Rogan books but another good news is that the authors are publishing a novella this fall featuring Nevada and Rogan’s wedding! 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Death Doesn't Bargain by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Title: Death Doesn't Bargain Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Deadman's Cross # 2

Hardback, 384 Pages
Publication: May 8, 2018 by Tor Books

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


The Deadmen are back...
But so are the demons who have broken free of their eternal prison and are bent on mankind's destruction. The worst of the lot is Vine, determined to claim their lives for taking hers. She will see the world burn...and has the perfect lure to destroy them all. One of their own.

Kalder Dupree has never known a day of mercy. Born to the cruelest of mer-races, he sacrificed himself for his crew and is in Vine's hands. He expects no mercy or rescue.

Yet Cameron Jack is determined to set Kalder free. As a Hellchaser, it's her calling, and she cannot allow even a not-so-innocent to be tortured for an act of kindness that spared her damnation.

To defeat evil, it sometimes takes an even worse evil, and Cameron is willing to do whatever she must to make this right. If Vine thought she had her hands full before, she hasn't seen anything nearly as powerful as Cameron's resolve.
Death Doesn’t Bargain continues the saga of Devyl and his crew of deadmen. After the events of Deadmen Walking, Kalder Dupree was captured by Vine, Devyl evil ex-wife. The crew was about to jailbreak Kalder from Vine’s grasp when they discover Kalder back with them and among the living. But their reunion is cut short when a mythical sea beast puts everyone in danger and the only way Kalder could save everyone was to send them through a portal to his home, the undersea kingdom of Wyneria.

A new book in the series meant new lead couple, featuring Kalder and Cameron. Both of whom I adored in the first book. What I really liked about the Deadman’s Cross series is while there’s a different lead couple, the over storyline, arc of the story is connected between all books in the series. This isn’t the norm, or at least from what I’ve seen in the Paranormal Romance genre. I only read two other series that follow the same format, which I also enjoyed and they usually keeps me along for the ride. I’m not a big fan of standalone novels.

In the first book readers were taken aboard Devyl/Mara’s ship and were on the high seas, so it was only fitting that we went under the sea this time… to Kalder’s home. I loved the change of location and focusing on Kalder’s family, the merfolks. Mermaids are so underrated in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy genre so it was refreshing to see them taking center stage. I also like how Kenyon incorporated different mythology into the series, albeit at times a bit random like Kalder’s true lineage. And while I haven’t read Kenyon’s other series, I know of them and their characters’ name due to their popularity; and many of the characters make an appearance towards the end of the book.

Overall Death Doesn’t Bargain was a good sequel. I thought it started strong but by the time we got toward the end everything fizzled a bit. The ending ended with another kidnapping, this time two crew-members, so it will be interesting to see how the deadmen plan to rescue them and defeat Vine for good! 

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Ghost Roads # 2

Tradepaperback, 352 Pages
Publication: July 17, 2018 by Daw Books

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


For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.

Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out?

There’s only one way to know for sure.
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown continues the story of Rose Marshall, a sixteen-year-old girl who died in the 1950’s and now spends the rest of eternity as a hitchhiking ghost. But just because you’re dead doesn’t mean death gets any easier. Bobby Cross, the immortal man that ran Rose off the road to her death is still looking for her, the one that go away because with Rose’s soul can power his car for a year or more. Rose has Persephone’s protection sigil on her which makes her untouchable to Bobby. However, after an elaborate trap, Bobby brings Rose back from the dead making her fair game and all Rose wants to do is to die, again.

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is a solid sequel to Sparrow Hill Road. Sparrow Hill Road was initial written as an online serial and the writing felt disjointed and pieces of a story. McGuire had more time on the sequel and it clearly shows. The story/plot felt more grounded and the writing flowed better; readers can clearly see the beginning, middle and end. If the first book had you interested in the ghost roads and it’s inhabitants then this book will more than satisfy your curiosity. McGuire delves deeper into the different roads, routewitches, a whole variety of ghost types and a little mythology and folklore for good measures; such as the significance of Halloween and the Greek Mythology of Persephone and Orpheus.

McGuire is a talent writer and I’ve enjoyed most of her work. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is no exception. I thought this was a good book, well written and researched as with all of her books. I just wished there was more action and a sense of urgency. Yes, this is basically a cat and mouse chase with Bobby and Rose but the plot dragged in a lot of places. Nor did I feel as connected or invested in the characters as I do with other series (I.e. October Daye). But as I said it still a good book and with the story still unresolved, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Bobby Cross and Rose Marshall again real soon. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

Title: Empire of Silence
Author: Christopher Ruocchio 
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Sun Eater # 1

Hardcover, 612 Pages
Publication: July 3, 2018 by Daw Books

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


Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

It was not his war.

The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives--even the Emperor himself--against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.

Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.
I’m not an enthusiastic reader of Science Fiction, although I watch plenty of Sci-Fi movies and televisions. But that’s because there hasn’t been a Science Fiction novel that captured my attention…that is until I read Empire of Silence. Empire of Silence was more than just a Science Fiction novel, it’s a novel about a man’s journey and struggle to find out who he is and who he wants to be, about life, war, political, family and friends. It multifaceted, complex and beautifully written. Many reviewers stated that this is an epic Science Fiction Space Opera, a genre I’m not too familiar with but what I can definitely say is this book is impressive and well written and executed. This is a whopper of a book and one would think a book this size would be intimidating with over 600 pages but by the time you start and finish Empire of Silence; you’d wish there was another 600 pages!

Empire of Silence is written in a style I’ve never encountered before. It’s written like an autobiography narrated by a future Hadrian and Hadrian in the present. It was different, unique and I loved it. Readers are taken on a space adventure as we see young Hadrian, a noble on Delos, Hadrian on the run and living in poverty on a foreign planet light years away, as a fighter in the coliseum, a prisoner in a gilded cage to Hadrian on the cusp of greatness or destruction…or both. But it wasn't always fun and games. Ruocchio also painted a cruel, unforgiving and dreary world. Where nothing is as it seems and there are monsters, because where would a story be without monsters? Except they don’t come in the form of some alien species nine feet tall or with talons and razor sharp teeth. But are made flesh and bone like us dear readers.

The characters and world-building were both well-crafted, developed and rich. The way that Ruocchio described things down to the most minute details showed the great care he had for his characters, with the world being a secondary character itself. I can imagine myself on Delos with the red and black imperial colors in the flag billowing in the wind to the hot days and nights in the slum of Emesh. Hadrian was a great flawed characters and I loved seeing his transformation over the course of the book. After reading the first page I knew I was going to enjoy this book and narrative. Hadrian did terrible things, or to be more accurate it’s the things that he didn’t do that made him terrible but yet I couldn’t help but want to learn more about him. He is by no means your typical lead, he never said he was a hero. He was just Hadrian, Had to his friends.

I absolutely loved Empire of Silence. I loved reading every minute of it, every page. With normal books, 600 pages would've been too much but for Empire of Silence it wasn't enough; and we were left with a cliffhanger! If you haven’t already read Empire of Silence then you need to go grab yourself a copy A.S.A.P. This is a 2018 debut you do not want to miss! I am already counting down the days until we get the sequel. Ruocchio is an emerging talented writer you’re going to want to watch out for and I can’t wait to see what he publishes next. 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Title: River Marked
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson # 

Mass Market Paperback, 291 Pages
Publication: January 31, 2012 by Ace

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


Coyote shifter Mercy Thompson knows that life with her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will never be boring, but even their wedding doesn't go as planned. Nevertheless, a ten-day honeymoon camping on the banks of the Columbia River, alone, just the two of them, should make up for it. But the trip - and the pimped-out trailer they're using - is courtesy of the fae. And nothing from the fae comes without strings attached...

Being a different breed of shapeshifter - a walker - Mercy can see ghosts, but the spirit of her long-gone father has never visited her. Until now. An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River - and innocent people are dying. As other walkers make their presence know to Mercy, she must reconnect with her heritage to exorcise the world of the legend known as the river devil...

Mercy has come a long way since the beginning from a regular mechanic to a revered member of the supernatural community. If anything happens, you can count on Mercy to save the day. In the opening of River Marked, Mercy and Adam finally get hitched and like all newly wed couples are about to jet off on their honeymoon. Except the honeymoon doesn’t go as planned with Mercy getting pulled in to investigate a murder and find herself attacked and marked by a river demon hellbent on killing her.

I very much enjoyed River Marked and loved that Briggs explored and incorporated Native American lore into the storyline. I haven’t encounter many novels with Native American Lore/Mythology, so it was a nice and welcomed change. With that said, I however, didn’t think the river demon was all that scary…Mercy has faced scarier, life threatening opponents before in my opinion. In addition to learning more about shapeshifters, we finally learn more about Mercy’s background and who her parents are…Especially her father.

All in all River Marked was a solid read, but not the best in the series. But I am still excited to see how the dynamics will change, now that Mercy is officially part of the pack now. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I highly recommend it. The Mercy Thompson series is one of Urban Fantasy’s staple series. 

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

Title: Heroine Complex
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Heroine Complex # 1

Trade Paperback, 378 pages
Publication: July 5, 2016 by Daw

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

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.
I’m always looking for a good superhero novel, something on par with all the movies saturating the market these days. Heroine Complex’s synopsis sounded promising with two female leads, a quirky plot and a whole bunch of humor. I’m always down for a humorous Urban Fantasy, if done right. Heroine Complex had some good moments, but it was out weighed by the under developed world building and characters. I like some things but for the most part it fell short and didn’t meet my expectation.

What Heroine Complex did well was showcase women friendship between Evie and Aveda. There were up and downs, bumps but what friendship doesn’t have that? At least when Aveda wasn’t treating Evie like a personal servant. Readers did get to see how their friendship began in grade school to where they are now. Aveda protected Evie from elementary bullies when they were young and now Evie protects Aveda from the harsh realities of being a superhero and the fame that goes along with it. My only issue with this is that Evie felt indebted to Aveda now. She spends basically her entire life catering to Aveda’s life because of her kindness as kids. I think it was a bit too much and thought Aveda definitely abused the friendship and took it for granted. I thought it could’ve been executed better.

The world building was pretty simple and straightforward, after a specific event (which I don’t think was explained) certain people obtained powers. That’s it. I wished Kuhn developed the world more.  get that it’s Urban Fantasy but I’ve read plenty of Urban Fantasy that were more complex than this; Nor did Kuhn delved into the characters’ powers and they were all very basic power…fire, levitation…nothing new or spectacular.

At first I thought Evie was kind of funny but as the story went on, her “quirky” traits and personality just got tiresome and ridiculous. If I remember correctly, she’s in her mid 20’s but she acted like a pubescent teen. It also didn’t help that she played guardianship to her teenage younger sister, which she did a poor job of doing. One of these said trait is that her diet only consisted of lucky charms…that’s just really unhealthy and not remotely funny or cute. She also whines a lot. Just her character overall wasn’t very likeable. If Evie was a real person, I don’t think I’d want to be friends with her. Then there’s Aveda, the ever shallow superhero. All Aveda cared about was herself and treated everyone around her like shit…which made her also unlikeable. Then we had the side characters; Scott, Nate, Bea and Lucy. And as you can guess, they too were unlikeable. Scott was just there in the background. I didn’t think he lend anything to the story. Nate was Evie’s love interest that came out of the blue with a personality of a cardboard box. Nuff said. There’s a secret that Nate is hiding but said secret was random as heck and silly in my opinion. Bea is Evie’s sister.I didn’t like her either…she was reckless and annoying like her older sister. And Lucy was there I guess as comic relief but like Scott, she blended into the background as well. Never have I read a book where I dislike all of the character. I didn’t like a single person! But then again there’s a first for everything.

Heroine Complex was a big disappointment. I managed to finished the book, although how I got through it…I don’t even know. As I mentioned before, the world building and characters were under developed, the plot had no substance but add in writing/dialogue that’s trying too hard to be funny made for a really underwhelming novel.The only good thing that Heroine Complex had going for it is the amazing artwork. It was what first caught my eyes. It’s beautiful and certainly grabs your attention. I haven’t found a decent superhero novel yet but I am determined to find one! Bottom Line, skip this one…not worth the time or money.