Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: Shadow Study (Soulfinders #1) by Maria V. Snyder


Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Mira
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Website

New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.
Once, only her own life hung in the balance.
Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands and protect her relationship with Valek.
Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job - and his life - are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret - or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is - while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.
Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous,



I read (and liked) the Study books, but I never went any further with The Chronicles of Ixia and read the Glass stuff.
Maybe I should have.
Or maybe I should have at least re-read the original books with Yelena and Valek, because I was sort of lost during Shadow Study.
Having said that, I'm still feeling pretty generous about those 3 stars.
This story was just choppy and strangely written. I didn't mind the POV switches, but I did mind that only Yelena's POV was told in first person. It was incredibly jarring.
And maybe it was like this in the other books, and I just don't remember, but half the time everyone seemed to be all Days of Yore, and then (abruptly) they would switch into Surfer Dudes.
Valek's flashback sequences wore on my nerves, as well.
First, because the transitioning sequences were so damn cheesy that it felt like Snyder would have been better off doing something like this: {insert wavy lines here}
And second, because it didn't make Valek more sympathetic to me, it made me want to crack him in the head. Also, he seemed like an old fart that didn't deserve Yelena.

Get excited, there's a BIG HUGE LIFE CHANGING SECRET TWIST at the end!
Don't worry, you'll see it coming from a mile away.

I thought I would really like this one, but either my tastes have changed dramatically or this is a sub-par addition to the series. I hope it's the former, and I'd love to hear the opinions of die-hard fans of these books.
If you are a big fan of Snyder and her Chronicles of Ixia, you may really enjoy this one.
I wouldn't recommend anyone else jump into this series here, though.




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Release Day #Giveaway (US) - Vision in Silver (The Others #3) by Anne Bishop


Series: A Novel of the Others (Book 3)
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Roc 
Release date: March 3, 2015

The New York Times bestselling author of The Black Jewels Trilogy transports readers to a world of magic and political unrest—where the only chance at peace requires a deadly price…

The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…






New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop is the winner of the RT Book Reviews 2013 Career Achievement Award in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. She is also the winner of the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award for the Black Jewels Trilogy. Her most recent novel is Vision in Silver, the third book in Anne’s urban fantasy series set in a re-imagined Earth. When she’s not communing with the Others, Anne enjoys gardening, reading, and music. Since you're reading this, there's no point in telling you to visit her website at www.annebishop.com.










The lovely people at Penguin Books recently mailed me a copy of the third installment in Anne Bishop's Other series and now I'm passing it along to one lucky winner. Every blogger I closely follow has raved about these books. Rabid Reads, The Book Nympho, Hot Listens, Talk Supe, & Between Dreams and Reality have all given Vision in Silver a full 5 stars. If you haven't started this series, you might want to see what all of the fuss is about =) Just fill in the Rafflecopter for a chance to win.







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Monday, March 2, 2015

[Coffee Shop Talks] Final Installments I Still Haven't Read






These three novels have been collecting dust on my shelf for some time now. I think Blood Winter released back in 2012. I love all three of these series, so I'm not quite sure why I didn't finish them. I think what happens is that I'm not in a rush to read them because I know there isn't another installment to look forward to once I'm done. So then I set them aside, intending to come back to them later, and then review books get in the way and I find new series to follow and then I just forget. 

Are there any final installments that you still haven't read?







      

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.








FIND TAYLOR ONLINE:


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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