Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ARC Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Exquisite Captive
Author: Heather Demetrios
Series: The Dark Caravans Cycle
Publication: Balzer + Bray (October 7, 2014)

Description: For fans of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy comes the first book in the Dark Caravan Cycle, a modern fantasy-adventure trilogy about a gorgeous, fierce eighteen-year-old jinni who is pitted against two magnetic adversaries, both of whom want her—and need her—to make their wishes come true.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. 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 release Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother. 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.

My Thoughts: What a breathtaking start to a new series! Nalia is a jinni on Earth who was sold to Malek who uses her to help him gain wealth and power. She is bound to him and can't kill him because his first wish was to be given immortality unless he chooses to die. She is the only remaining member of her ruling caste. She watched as he sisters-in-arms were all murdered in a coup engineered by the Ifrit. She was badly wounded and then smuggled to Earth and sold. The only thing that is keeping her from taking her own life is the hope that she will be able to return to Arjinna someday and rescue her younger brother who is in a Ifrit work camp.

Things weren't good on Arjinni even before the Ifrit coup. The society was divided into castes with the lower two castes bound to their betters. There was a budding revolution as members of those lower castes were having their bonds broken. Some were fleeing to Earth but many were trying to overthrow Nalia's caste who reacted by taking brutal measures against the revolutionaries. Nalia wasn't well suited to be a member of her caste. Sure, she had all four kinds of magic, but she wasn't interested in torturing or repressing anyone.

Now, three years after Nalia has come to Earth, the revolution isn't going well. The Ifrit make Nalia's caste seem soft and progressive. Raif is the leader of revolutionaries. At only 18, he took over when his father was killed. He needs Nalia to find a secret relic that her caste and hidden and only a member of her caste can find. He was never expecting for fall in love with her.

Nalia has to fend off the advances of her master Malek who is convinced that he has fallen in love with her while convincing him that she is in love with him in order to get the bottle that is the symbol of her captivity. Raif can break her bond with Malek if she can get the bottle. She is willing to trade the relic - a ring - for her freedom and for a chance to rescue her brother.

To complicate things even further, the Empress of the Ifrit has sent her right hand man to find and kill Nalia. He is leaving a string of missing and devoured jinn as he searches for Nalia. Nalia needs to have the bond with Malek broken so that she can access all her powers if she is to have any chance against the Empress' hit man.

The story is filled with great characters, an interesting world in Arjinna, and romance too. The writing is very descriptive without slowing down the plot. Nalia's conflict as she starts to have feeling for both Malek and Raif are very realistically portrayed. I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Favorite Quote:
Malek tilted his head to the side, watching her.

"What?" she asked, flushing.

His finger brushed her cheek. "Nothing," he said. "It's just nice to see you happy."

She wasn't happy. That would require wrists without shackles and dozens of jinn to come back from the grave. Happiness was Bashil in her arms and Arjinnan soil under her bare feet, not a date with her master.
I got this ARC from from both Edelweiss and Amazon Vine. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Night Sky by Melanie Brockmann and Suzanne Brockmann

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
I acknowledged the cop with only a slight not, not daring to look away from the woman even for a moment. I could see from my peripheral vision that he was completely still, in a heap between Calvin's wheelchair and the crazy lady. I inanely wondered how long people typically remained unconscious after being kicked in the chin with a designer shoe.
This week my teaser comes from Night Sky by Melanie Brockmann and Suzanne Brockmann. When I heard about this book, I was interested because I enjoy Suzanne Brockmann's adult romantic suspense titles.  I was glad to see an eARC available from NetGalley. Here is the description of this Oct. 7 release:
SHE'S THE ULTIMATE WEAPON IN FIGHTING DESTINY.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann and her daughter Melanie Brockmann have written a pulse-pounding novel of paranormal suspense set in a near future both fantastic and frightening. "Original and exciting, NIGHT SKY propels readers into a dangerous future. Loved it." —Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Made For You and the Wicked Lovely series

Skylar Reid is shaken when Sasha, the little girl she babysits, is kidnapped. Scared that the weird dreams she's been having about Sasha are real-and even more afraid that Sasha is already dead. When a mysterious girl with extreme butt-kicking abilities roars into town on a motorcycle and, well, stalks Skylar things get even weirder. Supergirl Dana tells Sky that she also has abilities – that a hormone in their blood makes them stronger, faster, smarter. A hormone that the makers of a new drug called Destiny will murder to get their hands on.

Dana and Milo, her dangerously hot yet oh-so-forbidden partner in crime, want Sky to join them in their mission – to mold Sky into the ultimate weapon. She can sense there's something about her abilities they're not telling her. But the only way to save Sasha and stop other girls from being taken is to embrace the weird...and fight Destiny.

Monday, September 29, 2014

State of the Stack (Sept. 29, 2014)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  


I also do this post because sometimes (frequently) review books sit on my stack for a while before I read and review them. I try to read and review books within two weeks of publication date. Sometimes I can't, though, if too many books are releasing on the same date or if the book arrives too near its publication date and my calendar is already full. 

I am very grateful to the authors and publishers who support my reading habit. 

My Review Pile


November
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Nov. 4)
True Fire by Gary Meehan (Nov, 4)
Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood (Nov. 4)
The Gift of Darkness by Valentina Giambanca (Nov. 4)
Caught Dead by Andrew Lanh (Nov. 4)
Deeper Than the Grave by Tina Whittle (Nov. 4)
The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate (Nov. 4)
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (Nov. 4)
The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield (Nov. 11; Amazon now says Jan. 27 for the release day)
My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni (Nov. 13)
Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger (Nov. 18)
On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen (Nov. 25)

December
Suspicion by Alexandra Monir (Dec. 9)
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (Dec. 9)
For Real by Alison Cherry (Dec. 9)
Love & Other Theories by Alexis Bass (Dec. 31)

January
The Unicorn Hunter by Che Golden (Jan. 6)
Twisted Fate by Norah Olson (Jan. 20)
Polaris by Mindee Arnett (Jan. 20)
The Prey by Tom Isbell (Jan. 20)
Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Talkoff (Jan. 27)
The Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne K. Salerni (Jan. 27)

February
Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall (Feb. 17)
Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor (Feb. 17)

No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss (Feb. 24)
The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald (Feb. 24)

March
How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews (March 3)
The Memory Key by Liana Liu (March 3)
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (March 10)
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (March 24)
Solitaire by Alice Oseman (March 30)
The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (March 30)

April and Later
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (April 7)
Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley (July 7)

I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
  1. Clariel by Garth Nix (Oct. 13)
  2. Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis (Oct. 15)
  3. Atlantia by Ally Condie (Oct. 22)
  4. Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch (Oct. 16)
  5. Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst (Oct. 20)
  6. Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Oct. 18)
  7. Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by Bob Pflugfelder (Sept. 22)
  8. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Oct. 23)
  9. The Gift of Darkness by V. M. Giambanco (Oct. 25)
  10. Get Happy by Mary Amato (Oct. 25)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted
  1. Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer (Sept. 3)
  2. Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley (Sept. 4)
  3. Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane (Sept. 6)
  4. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Sept. 8)
  5. The Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 10)
  6. The Vault of the Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien (Sept. 11)
  7. No Limits by Lori Foster (Sept. 11)
  8. Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (Sept. 13)
  9. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (Sept. 15)
  10. Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Sept. 17)
  11. Blackbird by Anna Carey (Sept. 18)
  12. Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs (Sept. 18)
  13. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (Sept. 20)
  14. Silent Murders by Mary Miley (Sept. 20)
  15. Firebug by Lish McBride (Sept. 24)
  16. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (Sept. 25)
  17. Harbor Island by Carla Neggers (Sept. 25)
  18. Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin (Sept. 27)
  19. The Man from Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller (Sept. 27)
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses.
  1. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (March 15, 2015)
  2. How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews (March 3, 2015)
  3. Solitaire by Alice Oseman (March 30, 2015)
  4. The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (March 30, 2015)
  5. Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff (Jan. 27, 2015)
  6. Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (April 7, 2015)
  7. Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall (Feb. 17, 2015)
  8. The Memory Key by Liana Liu (March 3, 2015)
  9. Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor (Feb. 17, 2015)
  10. Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass (Dec. 31, 2014)
  11. No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss (Feb. 24, 2015)
  12. The Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne K. Salerni (Jan. 27, 2015)
  13. Twisted Fate by Norah Olson (Jan. 20, 2015)
  14. The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald (Feb. 24, 2015)
  15. Polaris by Mindee Arnett (Jan. 20, 2015)
  16. The Prey by Tom Isbell (Jan. 20, 2015)
  17. Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (March 24, 2015)
  18. Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley (July 7, 2015)
  19. My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni (Nov. 13)
  20. Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by Bob Pflugfelder (Oct. 7)
  21. Midnight Betrayal by Melinda Leigh (Sept. 2)
  22. Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (Nov. 4)
Next Month's Plan

I am still ahead on reading and scheduling reviews. I am just starting to read my November releases. It looks like December is a bit slower. However, once the Macmillan books start arriving, January, February and March look packed full of great sounding books.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (Sept. 28, 2014)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

I got two books this week.
I have been eager to read Afterworlds by Scott Westfeld since I heard about it. I ordered it a while ago but it just arrived this week.

I also got The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg when it was a Kindle Daily Deal this week.

What did you add to your stack?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

ARC Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Tabula Rasa
Author: Kristen Lippert-Martin
Publication: EgmontUSA (September 23, 2014)

Description: The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.

Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?

The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she'll need the help of the teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that's blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why . . .

My Thoughts: This was a fast-paced science fiction story that was also a thriller. The story begins with our heroine being strapped into a chair for another medical procedure that is supposed to be cutting memories from her brain. Next thing she knows someone has slipped her some pills and hidden clothing under her bed so that she can try to escape when the facility is overrun by mercenaries—mercenaries who want her dead.

She is in an unknown, isolated location and there is a blizzard outside. While trying to escape from what she thought was a hospital, she runs into a teenage hacker named Thomas who has come to the location to steal the medical research that has been done on Sarah and the other patients.

The two are on the run and Sarah's memories are starting to come back in bits and pieces. She recognizes the woman who is coordinating the raid on the facility but has no idea why the woman wants her dead. She and Thomas go through all sorts of horrible situations while trying to stay away from the mercenary teams. They have to deal with others who have had the same procedure as Sarah but with much less successful outcomes.

Sarah needs to get one more pill from somewhere in the facility or she will end up just as damaged as the other patients. The woman who wants her dead and her hired mercenaries aren't going to make it easy.

Favorite Quote:
But last chances, first chances, only chances—they're all the same. A chance is a chance.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Memes: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


This week I am spotlighting Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin. I got this eARC at Edelweiss. The book was released on Sept. 23. Here is the description:
The Bourne Identity meet Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.

Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?

The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she'll need the help of the teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that's blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why . . .
Beginning:
She points to the chair. "Sit."
Friday 56:
"You know how to use that?"

"I might. Give me a second."

This is an effect of the tabula rasa treatment. Sometimes we don't know what we can do until we do it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

ARC Review: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Salt & Storm
Author: Kendall Kulper
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Sept. 23, 2014)

Description: A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder—and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane—a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

My Thoughts: SALT & STORM combined a history of the whaling industry and those who followed it with magic to make a compelling fantasy novel. The main character of this story is Avery Roe who is supposed to be the next Roe witch on this small island near Nantucket. For many generations the Roe witches have provided spells and charms to protect the many whalers and other sailors from the island.

Avery was raised by her grandmother until she was twelve. Her mother had left her there to protect her. Her mother hates magic and hates the idea of being the Roe witch. She comes for Avery when she is twelve determined to give her a better life free from the heartaches that come with being the Roe witch. To say Avery is displeased is to completely understate her reaction. She is doing everything to make her mother know how unhappy she is with the life her mother has planned for her.

Avery keeps trying to escape from her mother to go back to her grandmother but, despite her hatred of magic, Avery's mother has cast a spell on Avery to prevent her from going to her grandmother and has cursed anyone who would try to help her. Her friend Tommy is hurt badly when he tries to help, loses his job, and has to ship out on a whaling ship.

While Avery doesn't have the family magic of her grandmother despite trying to wake it any way she can, she does have the ability to interpret dreams. When a young whaler from the Pacific Islands named Tane comes to her to interpret his dreams so that he can get revenge for the death of his family, he proposes to trade a way to break her mother's curse. While the two are working together, they fall in love.

This was a fascinating story abut magic, love, and fate.

Favorite Quote:
Days after my twelfth birthday, she dragged me kicking and crying from the cottage on the rocks to the big town at the northern end of the island and in no uncertain terms absolutely forbade me to become the witch.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.