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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 417
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

       buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
T he capital has fallen.
          The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
          Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
          Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
          Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
I was in the car on my way to a family party while reading the ending of Ruin and Rising and I had to wipe away some tears . . . I also blamed them on the air conditioning blowing in my face just to keep my family off my back. But I am pleased as to how the Grisha series ended, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Well, I would have . . . because I am head over heels for Nikolai, so that slightly sways my opinion of the ending, but I digress.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (57): Exquisite Captive

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Forced to obey her master. Compelled to help her enemy. Determined to free herself. 
          Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle. 
          Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it? 
          Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.
Genies are totally my thing nowadays! And this one sounds positively awesome! You can even read an excerpt of the novel RIGHT HERE, but be warned, you will be craving for more, and October is so far awayyyy!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Series: Stoker & Holmes #1
Publication Date: September 17, 2014
Publisher: Chronicle Books
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 356
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Steampunk
    buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.
          Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.
If there is one thing that I will ever admit to anyone in my life ever, it's this: I love Sherlock Holmes. If there was a second thing that I would admit promptly after that statement, its that I also am a huge fan of the steampunk genre. Now, when you put the two things that I love into one mystery-induced story then I am wont to explode. So having heard about Colleen Gleason's Stoker & Holmes series where the sister of Bram Stoker and the niece of Sherlock Holmes team up to solve the mystery behind the deaths of high society debutantes of steampunk London, how could I not pick up this novel? It has everything I could want and more--did I mention there is some time-travel as well? And Gleason suctions it together with a mystery surrounding Egyptian mythology. Though the story sounds extremely compacted with everything under the sun, it is an engaging and fun read.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (28)

Welcome to the Stacking the Shelves, a feature by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews, post for this week. All weekly updates that have happened around the blog will take place below as well as the books that I have received this week for review. Please don't forget to leave a comment on this post and link me to your Stacking the Shelves so I can see what you've gotten this week and comment back. Thank you!

Recent Events & Past Reviews:

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For Review:

Thank you to Simon Pulse, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, and Aladdin for everything this week

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Blast & $50 Giveaway: Son of War, Daughter of Chaos by Janette Rallison

Son of War, Daughter of Chaos by Janette Rallison
Publication Date: July 2, 2014
Aislynn is accustomed to watching for the enemy. Her parents instructed her from the time she was young to look for the signs: people with greater than normal strength, eyes that can glow green, and have the ability to jump long distances. Over the years, Aislynn has come to view her parents’ fears as quirks—things that get in the way of having a normal high school life. When Aislynn’s mother dies under suspicious conditions, her father doubles his restrictions. But all his precautions can’t stop the boy with glowing green eyes from finding Aislynn. She realizes too late she’s been drafted into an ancient Egyptian war, whether she’s prepared or not.   

Son of War Daughter of Chaos Blog Tour
Janette Rallison
Author Janette Rallison:
Janette Rallison is old. Don’t ask how old, because it isn’t polite. Let’s just say she’s older than she’d like to be and leave it at that. Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as “an eccentric cat lady.” She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family’s fearless little Westie dog can drive them off. Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn’t have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can’t actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let’s just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom. (Well, I never said he answers back.)

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  Blast Giveaway 
 $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash 
 Ends 8/17/14 
 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. 
You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. 
The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Beware The Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Beware The Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Publication Date: October 21st 2014
Publisher:  HarperTeen
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 336
Genre: Supernatural, Romance

    buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
I t's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.  Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.  This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance. 
*An advanced readers copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

 I’m saying this upfront because it’s important, eating disorder trigger warning.
Who the hell decided to name this lovely book by Natalie Parker Beware The Wild? That title does not do this book justice and makes the whole thing sound like some Hatchet knockoff for preteen boys who want to pretend for a hot second that they could survive in the wild.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (56): A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Series: Firebird #1

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.
Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.
A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

Look at how beautiful this cover is! But not to give into the cliche of not judging a book by it's cover, I think this is a great idea. And alternative universe travel?!  Cannot wait for this book to come out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
Publication Date: September 16th 2014 
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 423
Genre: Science Fiction
       buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.
           The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

           What happens after we fall asleep, and is the secret really worth finding out?

            Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien started out like a fairly normal teen novel: there was a love triangle, a talented female lead with a perfect younger sibling and a conspiracy.  Seems normal, right? Well, I was wrong because Vault of Dreams takes a hard left at the exit label What Just Happened and never looked back.  The book holds a lot of promise, but much like the plot, the answers at the end are confusing and not particularly worth looking at.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 432
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
    buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
D arkness never dies.
          Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
          The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
I was on the fence after reading book one, Shadow and Bone, on to continue this series or not. I'd taken Siege and Storm out of the library and read it on car rides, during work breaks, and before I went to bed. I was hooked. Siege and Storm blew the first book out of the water for me. The writing was gorgeous and captivating as ever, and Alina's 180-degree character development from the deflating attitude during the first book to the power hungry, general-in-training Alina was much more enticing to read about.

First and foremost, I will say that Nikolai was top-notch, my favorite character in this whole entire book and if I do not see a hide nor hair of him in the final installment I am going to be thoroughly depressed. While Alina was struggling with her powers and her connection with the Darkling, seeing him lurking in every corner, and fighting the fissure in her relationship with Mal which she brought down all by herself, Nikolai with his banter, strategic knowledge, and his rampant personalities was a sweet treat to Alina's story-line spiraling out of control. It takes a lot these days to have me swooning over a character, and Nikolai had me smirking, laughing, and sighing-deeply as I fell harder for his character. His strategical mind and snarky dialogue made him a hole-in-one character in my book, even though he's a supporting role. I just want all the good things for his character. Just him.

Alina's choice not to put her trust in Mal, the boy she loves and her best friend since childhood through think and thin, really drove me up a wall. The more she was driving herself away from Mal and complained about it, wishing that things were back to normal, or placing some of the blame of the rift on Mal, the more I was seeing the Alina from book one returning. And I did not want to read about the Alina from Shadow and Bone. I wanted to read the Alina, the Sun Summoner who is sought on finding the final amplifier, the Saint who is going to bring down the Darkling, the Grisha who is going to control an entire army, the girl who is fighting the darkness within her when she's supposed to be the light of ravka, and be a potentially powerful queen one day. She shone in most of the story, but when the romantic subplot started to take root, I was exhausted with Alina. And when the romance started to derail, I pitied Alina rather than encouraged her to fight and take Mal back.

And how can I even review this book without mentioning the Darkling. Though his character doesn't get as much page time as he had in Shadow and Bone, he still manages to make his appearances known. But when he does speak, shivered both enticing and chilling are sent through me. Bardugo managed to make the Darkling one of the most complex characters I've seen--I don't know whether to adore him or hate his guts. I did wish that there were more scenes with Alina's group vs. the Darkling, but that's just because I'm a sucker for action scenes. And I still can't get over how sunbeams dazzlingly shooting out of Alina's hands could be both pretty and dangerous. Bardugo is able to make it happen, so I guess I'll go with the flow. But I still can't get the picture of sunshine coming out of Alina's ass from my mind. No, it's not in the book. The phrase and her character just clung together like glue since reading the first novel, and it's stuck with me ever since. Sorry to all readers who now have that image stuck in their minds now, too. ごめん!

Final Summation: A much more thrilling installment to this trilogy. I was captivated, losing track of time and couldn't even comprehend how many pages I read in one sitting. Siege and Storm was beautifully told, the stakes are higher, some questions still aren't answered, but the additional characters are exciting and wonderfully developed that I don't mind waiting for the third book to knock my socks off with possibly crazy secrets revealed and I really want to see this firebird. Book three, here I come!

Five targets slayed by the Sun Summoner! You've outdone yourself!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #1
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 320
Genre: Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
       buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water. 
Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.
Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.
But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.
*An Advanced readers copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

I worshiped my running faucet and the water bottles chilling in my fridge after having read Mindy McGinnis's debut novel Not a Drop to Drink which left my mouth bone dry during the course of reading, I kid you not.

Water is scarce in this apocalyptic world, but I drank up this novel in a couple days despite the lack of water that this novel holds. Three-dimensional characters that you become so involved with that it hurts to let them go when its their time. Suspense is top notch, nothing got my blood pumping more than reading this novel, turning the pages was do or die, and I was afraid that my heart would stop beating. I couldn't bear to lose these characters, sometimes I just couldn't watch. In a good way, though. And Lynn's characterization, watching her grow from a completely stoic little girl fighting to survive alongside her mother into a human being with emotions, having to cope with love and loss, and learning to survive not by herself, but with other people in her life, which can be the hardest part of all considering the dangers outsiders pose in Lynn's apocolyptic world.

World-building was what made Not a Drop to Drink. Set in the outskirts of the southern United States, Lynn and her mother do all they can to keep their pond protected from the thirsty by-passers, animals, and even from cholera possibly infecting the pond that could kill them with a single sip. The world is bleak, Lynn is tooth and nails as her mother taught her to be, quick with a bullet and no regrets. Survival means her and mother and the pond. Though the pacing is a gradual pace, the characters, their interaction, and the fight for survival make riveting impacts that allowed the gradually slow pacing to slide. Even the characters: Stebbs, the man in the woods with his bum leg; Eli, the love interest trying to keep his family together; Lucy, the little girl who is able to melt Lynn's heart--they all have a unique voice and the ability to grow on you, especially Stebbs. He has to be my favorite character. The dialogue was just miraculous, I could hear each character's voice through the pages. So fluid and realistic, I applaud McGinnis on a fantastic feat.

Final Summation: A harrowing world and the story of a girl's coming-of-age as she fights to survive, Not a Drop to Drink  blew me out of the water, knocked my socks off, and left me heartbroken over and over again. A fantastic debut, and a dystopian unlike I have ever read. I cannot wait to read the second installment to this series. I am absolutely captivated with the world that McGinnis has created, despite the dark elements it holds, I've engrossed myself in the lives of these characters--Lynn, Stebbs, Eli, Lucy--and I want to know more about their survival and the conflicts that arise. Book two don't fail me now!

5 targets slayed, completely massacred them sons-of-bitches!