Friday, February 27, 2015

Quick Review & #Giveaway: The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber


Release date: February 10, 2015
Published by: Tor Books
Source: Provided by publisher
Author links: Site | FB | Twitter



London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire's chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes.  
Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the hidden laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped—and has a sample of Eterna.
Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. Haunted by the ghost of her beloved, she is determined that the Eterna Compound—and the immortality it will convey—will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain.



                  




The Eterna Files debut is a promising start to a new series. What drew me in was the Gothic vibe, paranormal elements, and historical setting in the Victorian era. What kept me reading was the well-crafted characters, the interesting relationships, and the engaging dialogue.

I enjoyed the storyline that centered around the search for immortality and the two countries racing for control of the Eterna Compound. My complaint with this is that the pacing was surprisingly slow. Little progress is made with the overall story, the action is nearly nonexistent, and my patience was rewarded with a dozen questions and no answers. At the end of 320 pages, I realized that the story was really just beginning.

While I very much enjoyed The Eterna Files characters, there were so many introduced that I became a bit overwhelmed at first. There are a handful in London, a group in New York City, and the points of view shift between them. It felt like there were too many characters that needed attention and development and this may have been another reason for the slow pacing of the story.

There is no denying that Heiber is a talented writer. Despite my complaints, I quickly became invested in the story and devoured it in less than 2 days. By the time I was finished, I wanted more. I have to know what happens next and I'll absolutely be reading the sequel once it releases.








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Thursday, February 26, 2015

[Cover Reveal] ~ Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid






MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Atria Books/Washington Square Press Paperback | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776880 | July 7, 2015 | $16.00

eBook: Atria Books/Washington Square Press | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776897 | July 7, 2015 | $11.99



At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college, but on the heels of a disastrous breakup, she has finally returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. To celebrate her first night back, her best friend, Gabby, takes Hannah out to a bar—where she meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.  It’s just past midnight when Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. Ethan quickly offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.  Hannah hesitates.  What happens if she leaves with Gabby?
What happens if she leaves with Ethan?  In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into surprisingly different stories with far-reaching consequences for Hannah and the people around her, raising questions like: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?  Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.








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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Purchased
Author Links: Website | Goodreads



Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:
(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces
(2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations
(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.


Fanfuckingtastic! 
I could totally slap myself for not reading this sooner.


The premise of this story is that Andy Dahl and a group of his friends, who all work aboard the starship Intrepid, start to notice a troubling pattern happening on the Away Missions.
And they aren't the only ones who've noticed...

Does everyone know what a Redshirt is?
On the off-chance you aren't a Star Trek fan, and maybe haven't been exposed to the term before, let me explain where it came from.
On every mission, Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones, etc. would get beamed to some uncharted planet to discover...something. But, of course, our main characters never beamed anywhere by themselves. 
Not really.
They always took Ensign So-n-So (wearing his red shirt) with them. And, inevitably, Ensign Redshirt ended up as cannon fodder.

Death by exploding rock!

So, after watching the show for any length of time, you knew what was going to eventually happen to anyone who happened to be wearing the wrong color in an uncharted area of space.

Death by zappy-beam!

Which is hilarious when you're watching re-runs and playing a drinking game!
But maybe it wouldn't quite so funny if the Redshirts were real characters?
Although, I laughed my ass off at Andy and his friends the entire time I was reading this, so that blows that theory right out of the water.


 I wasn't all that surprised that I thought this was funny, but I was really surprised that I was totally invested int he plot. And there is a plot! A really good one!
And the ENDING! 
I did not see that twist coming, Mr. Scalzi. Well done, sir!
Alright, so what happens is...hahahahahahahaha. No. I'm not telling you anything.
Go get this book if you wanna find out what makes this story so special.













Monday, February 23, 2015

Review & #Giveaway - Stone in the Sky (Tin Star #2) by Cecil Castellucci


Release date: February 24, 2015
Published by: Roaring Brook Press
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Author links: Blog | Twitter | Facebook



His name, even the color, filled me with a furious fire of pure hatred.

Years ago, Tula Bane was beaten and left for dead on a remote space station far from Earth, her home planet. She started with nothing and had no one, but over time, she found a home, a family, and even love. When it's discovered that the abandoned planet beneath the station is abundant with a rare and valuable resource, aliens from across the galaxy race over to strike it rich. With them comes trouble, like the man who nearly killed Tula years ago—the man she has dreamed of destroying ever since.

In this sequel to Tin Star, Cecil Castellucci takes readers on an extraordinary adventure through space in a thrilling and thoughtful exploration of what it means to love, to hate, and to be human.


            



I'm admittedly not an avid YA reader. Occasionally, there are some young adult novels that grab my attention and I know I have to read them. This is how I felt about Castellucci's Tin Star series. It's unique YA science fiction with a smart, independent female lead and an antagonist you can truly hate. 

During Stone in the Sky, I enjoyed Tula's travels through space as she meets a variety of alien creatures and does her best to avoid trouble. Just like in Tin Star, Tula proves to be resilient and resourceful and picks herself right back up whenever she's knocked down. 

I also enjoyed the many changes that were made throughout the story with Quint, Brother Blue, Tula's relationships, and the characters she is reunited with.

I did find that this sequel had a rocky beginning and I initially had a hard time getting into the story. Also, there were some things that I didn't feel were fully explained and some that I found difficult to believe. But despite these flaws, I still really enjoyed the story and I'm thankful that I discovered this series.

Stone in the Sky was an entertaining read with great characters and an interesting storyline. I loved Tula and was pleased with how her journey ended. This is a sci-fi YA series that I would recommend reading. 





ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, First Day on Earth, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star and Odd Duck. Her picture book, Grandma’s Gloves, won the California Book Award Gold Medal. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, YARN, Tor.com, and various anthologies including, Teeth, After and Interfictions 2. She is the YA editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus and a two time Macdowell Fellow. She lives in Los Angeles.






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[Coffee Shop Talks] Books With Outstanding World-building




Whenever the topic of world-building comes up, one author always comes to mind. I tried to look through the books I've read so far this year and what I read in 2014 to come up with something more recent so I'm not always giving the same old tired answer. But in 5 years I haven't found a world that I've enjoyed more than the one Wilson created in the Tairen Soul series. It's a complex, fascinating world that is beautiful, magical, and dangerous. Tairen beasts soar through the skies shooting flames and armies of Fey warriors battle their mage adversaries with deadly weapons and powerful magic. From the kingdom of immortal elf Seers, to the magical paradise of the Fading Lands, and the dark forests of Eld, I enjoyed every moment of the world Wilson created. She's an amazing author and this is an amazing series.

Which books have you read with outstanding world-building?




      


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Review & #Giveaway - Dead Spots by Rhiannon Frater



Release date: February 24, 2015
Published by: Tor 
Source: Provided by publisher
Author links: rhiannonfrater.com | Twitter | FB


The stillbirth of Mackenzie's son destroyed her marriage. Grieving, Mac reluctantly heads for her childhood home to seek refuge with her mother, who constantly reminds her of life's dangers.
Driving across Texas, Mac swerves to avoid hitting a deer...and winds up in a dead spot, a frightening place that lies between the worlds of the living and the dead. If they can control their imaginations, people can literally bring their dreams to life—but most are besieged by fears and nightmares which pursue them relentlessly.  
Mackenzie's mother and husband haunt her, driving her to the brink of madness. Then she hears a child call for help and her maternal instincts kick into overdrive. Grant, Mac's ally in the dead spots, insists Johnny is a phantom, but the boy seems so real, so alive....
As the true horrors of the dead spots are slowly revealed, Mackenzie realizes that time is running out. But exits from the dead spots are nearly impossible to find, and defended by things almost beyond imagination.


            




Wow! Dead Spots was intense, disturbing, and refreshingly original. Frater's imagination is wonderfully twisted and it's clear that this author was made for writing horror stories. 

From the very beginning, Dead Spots has a dark and somber tone. We're introduced to Mac, a character who is struggling through the grief and pain of losing her child and the added heartache of losing her husband through a divorce. While dealing with these devastating changes in her life, she stumbles upon a world of nightmares.

When Mac unknowingly enters a dead spot, she steps into a world between the living and the dead. It's a terror-filled landscape where she encounters shadows and wraiths, monsters and killer clowns, and apparitions that attempt to break her already fragile mind. She's in a place where appearances are almost always deceiving and she has no idea of who she can trust to help her find her way home.

I really enjoyed Mac's character and the way that she slowly gains her strength and confidence throughout the story. Even though she needs a lot of help navigating through the dead spots and fighting off the nightmarish creatures, she never gave me that damsel-in-distress feeling that often irritates me. Despite her weakened state, she wants to fight and survive. Giving up her chances of going home is never an option.

Dead Spots is an eerie, gory, nail-biting horror story that I would suggest to any fans of dark fantasy. This is my first time reading a novel by Frater and it certainly won't be my last.








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Friday, February 20, 2015

[Cover Reveal] ~ Manwhore +1 (Manwhore #2) by Katy Evans




MANWHORE +1
The unexpected love story that began in MANWHORE 
continues heating up the pages in MANWHORE + 1
Release date: July 7, 2015


Billionaire playboy? Check.
Ruthless businessman? Check.
Absolutely sinful? Check.
Malcolm Saint was an assignment. A story. A beautiful, difficult man I was supposed to uncover for a racy exposé.


I intended to reveal him, his secrets, his lifestyle—not let him reveal me. But my head was overtaken by my heart and suddenly nothing could stop me from falling. I fell for him, and I fell hard.



Malcolm Saint is absolute Sin, and I've become a hopeless Sinner.


Now that the assignment is over, Saint wants something from me--something unexpected--and I want this wicked playboy's heart. But how can I prove to the man who trusts no one that I’m worthy of becoming his plus one?



Manwhore + 1 Pre-order Links (Releases 7/7)






Manwhore (bk 1) Pre-order links (Releases 3/24)