Thursday, June 30, 2016

ARC Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity (Book 1)
Publication: Greenwillow Books (July 5, 2016)

Description: There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

My Thoughts: This is a story about monsters. It is a dark urban fantasy which takes place in a city divided in two and beset by monsters. One side is ruled by a crime lord who sells protection from the monsters. Kate Harker is his daughter. Her father has kept her away at a series of boarding schools but she wants to come home and make her father proud of her. The other side is ruled by Henry Flynn who has established a large crew to protect his part of the city. August Flynn is one of his adopted children and one of the monsters.

I this city monsters come in three kinds - corsai, malchai, and sunai. Corsai hunt in packs in indiscriminately. Malchi are sly blood drinkers. Sunai are the rarest and use song to steal souls. August is a sunai whose instrument is the violin. He doesn't want to be a monster but consoles himself with the fact that he can only rip the souls from sinners.

Kate and August meet at the most recent boarding school Kate is attending. August is in disguise to meet Kate. He also wants to preserve the very fragile truce between both sides of the city. Kate and August get to know each other and, as they do, Kate starts to question who the monster really is. When they go on the run after an unsuccessful assassination attempt at school, the two need to depend on each other and keep each other safe since both sides are hunting for them.

I liked the world building in this story. I liked the idea that monsters were created because of all the violent acts. I liked that August was determined not to give in to his monster side. I liked Kate despite the fact that she felt she needed to be hard and cruel in order to be accepted by her father.

I am eager to find out what happens next for Kate and August and look forward to the next book about them. Fans of urban fantasy will be the perfect audience for this engaging story.

Favorite Quote:
August stood very still as the man's energy rolled through him. It didn't feel electric, didn't leave him high with power. If anything, it simply made him feel ... real. the anger and the sickness and the strain were gone, washed away, and August simply felt ... whole.

Is this what it was like to be human?

And then he looked down at the man's corpse, and a quiet sadness crept through him like a chill. Suddenly normal felt so far away.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ARC Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library (Book 2)
Publication: NAL (July 5, 2016)

Description: In Ink and BoneNew York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history... 

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn't safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control...

My Thoughts: This is the second book in the series that began with PAPER AND INK. In this one the young students at the Library of Alexandria have been separated. Glain and Jess are in the guards, Morgan has been outed as an obscurist and imprisoned in the Iron Tower for life, Dario and Khalili are beginning their careers as scholars. And Thomas is presumed dead.

The main thrust of this story is finding Thomas and rescuing him from his imprisonment by the Library. Along the way they discover more of the evil that the Library does. What is most fascinating to me about this series is the way that the library, which was designed to preserve knowledge, has become a very powerful agency that stifles and controls knowledge. Both Thomas and the young people's mentor Wolfe were in major trouble with the Library because each independently invented movable type.

I enjoy the steampunk aspects of this world with creatures that combine mechanics with magic. I also enjoy the science fiction aspects with the transporter similar to the ones in Star Trek but powered by magic.

The only thing that I didn't enjoy about this story, which was filled with action, adventure, and all sorts of moral decisions, was that it is the middle book in a trilogy and I am left waiting for answers until the third book is released.

Favorite Quote:
The terrible truth was the the Library still was all those things. It was a force for good; it did protect what would otherwise have been lost in wars and chaos and disasters. It did encourage scholarship and knowledge across the world, across religious and national lines. It did set knowledge and learning in a place of honor above all other considerations. It was just how it went about it that turned his stomach and made it all wrong.
I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. 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:
Three concentric circles—like a bull's-eye—ghosted over the top of the map. It was the risk grid, designed to show the increase in monsters and the need for vigilance as one traveled in toward the center of the city.
This week I am spotlighting This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

Monday, June 27, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 27, 2016)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme begun by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

My second full week of vacation was lovely. The weather was great - warm enough to have the windows open and but not so warm as to need the air conditioning. They are predicting possibly severe weather yet today but we only have gray skies so far.

I spent some of this week working on my blogging calendars and plans. I chose the books I'll be reading for August and prepared the posts as far as I could without having yet read the books. (I have three books to read before my July calendar is filled and scheduled.) All my Teaser Tuesday and Friday Memes are finished and scheduled. I've also made neat stacks of the print books I'll be reading and made sure that the books were on my Kindle if I didn't have the print copy.

I didn't manage to get all the books I brought home on the calendar but comfort myself with the fact that I should have read most of September's books before my vacation ends. I need to get far ahead because the beginning of the school year is not a time to have to stress over reading and reviewing books. 

Read Last Week
The Ministry of SUITs by Paul Gamble was a silly middle grade adventure that should appeal to kids who like that kind of humor. I particularly enjoyed the footnotes. My review will be posted on July 21 for this July 26 release.


Seizure by Kathy Reichs is the second book in the Virals series. It had been sitting on my TBR mountain since Oct. 18, 2011. I really enjoyed it. C'mon! Who doesn't want to read about a treasure hunt for a pirate's buried booty. And, as you can see by looking at my New This Week, added the rest of the series. I will try not to wait six years to read them. My review for Seizure will be posted on July 23.

Leviatian by Scott Westerfeld also spent some time on TBR mountain. I bought it on Oct. 26, 2010. I really enjoyed it and am glad that Behemoth and Goliath also made the trip home with me this summer. I liked the characters, the alternate history, and all the steampunk devices (although I'm not sure that the Darwinist's beasties are as much steampunk as they are science fiction.) My review will be posted on July 27.

Currently
I am reading The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray from my review stack. This gothic novel will be released on August 2 and came to me from Macmillan.

Next Week
I dug into TBR mountain for all of the books I plan to read this week.

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong arrived on October 13, 2015 making it a relative newcomer to the stack.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas is also a newcomer. I got the print book last May and the Kindle book this June.
I also decided to read Forever by Maggie Stiefvater which has been on the stack since 2011 and The Raven Boys also by Stiefvater which has been on the stack since 2012. I have the print versions of each of these, the Kindle versions of each of these, and the SYNC audiobook of The Raven Boys.

Reviews Posted
All the reviews I posted last week were from books on my TBR mountain.
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
  • Code by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
  • Terminal by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
I also downloaded both of the SYNC audiobooks for this week:
You can check Inside of a Dog (my other blog) to see what adult books I read, reviewed, and plan to read. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Book Review: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

Soldier
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Talon Saga (Book 3)
Publication: Harlequin Teen (April 26, 2016)

Description: When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She's lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side.

As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragon-slayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon's new order rises.

My Thoughts: This third book in the Talon saga has a number of twists and turns and a number of startling revelations. Ember is torn between her feelings for Riley and her feelings for Garret. She learns something from a Chinese dragon that makes her feeling more clear and more confused at the same time.

The rogues, led by Riley, are being hounded on two fronts. Both Talon and the Order of St. George have targeted them. What makes it even worse is that there is a secret conspiracy that may spell doom for our beleaguered rogues.

One of my favorite parts of the story was the visit to Talon's archives under an unassuming public library in Chicago. Getting a chance to meet one of the elder Wyrms was awesome.

Dante is getting deeper and deeper into the evil that it Talon as me makes choices that strip away any pretense of his making moral choices. There are startling revelations in his story arc too.

This was a strong entry into a great series. I can't wait for LEGION to be published. I need to know what is ahead for our heroes.

Favorite Quote:
To meet a Wyrm...that was like running into a celebrity. An extremely dangerous, powerful celebrity who could swallow you whole with scarcely a thought. Actually, it was more like meeting a fickle, unpredictable demigod and hoping you could sneak away without getting changed into a pile of ashes.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Memes: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

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.

Beginning:
The world was on fire.
Friday 56:
A muffled pop rang out, the distant retort echoing behind us, and Griffin jerked in his seat, his eyes going wide. I jumped and stared in shock as a thin stream of blood ran down his face from the hole in his forehead.
This week I am spotlighting Soldier by Julie Kagawa. This is the third book of 4 in her Talon Saga. Here is the description from Amazon:
When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She's lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side.

As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragon-slayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon's new order rises.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Review: The Conjurer's Riddle by Andrea Cremer

The Conjurer's Riddle
Author: Andrea Cremer
Series: Inventor's Secret (Book 2)
Publication: Philomel Books (November 3, 2015)

Description: The Revolution is beginning–and Charlotte may be on the wrong side.

In this sequel to The Inventor's Secret, Charlotte and her companions escape the British Empire, but they haven't left danger behind. In fact, if they go against the revolutionaries, they face even greater peril.

Charlotte leads her group of exiles west, plunging into a wild world of shady merchants and surly rivermen on the way to New Orleans. But as Charlotte learns more about the revolution she has championed, she wonders if she's on the right side after all. Charlotte and her friends get to know the mystical New Orleans bayou and deep into the shadowy tunnels below the city–the den of criminals, assassins and pirates–Charlotte must decide if the revolution's goals justify their means, or if some things, like the lives of her friends, are too sacred to sacrifice.

This alternate-history adventure series asks the questions: What would have happened if America had lost the Revolutionary War? And what would people be willing to do to finally taste freedom?

My Thoughts: This is the second book in a trilogy and sees Charlotte, with her friends, fleeing the destruction of their hideout and heading across the country to New Orleans to join with the Resistance. Along with her other friends is Grave who is an unusual character who was made from the body of a mad inventor's dead son. Grave now has powers and skills that make him very valuable to whatever side in the revolution manages to take control of him. He has also excited various religious orders who seem to feel that he is an abomination to be destroyed.

Charlotte is determined to protect her friend Grave and not let anyone - no matter what side they are on - use him as if he were not human. Charlotte and her group are aided by Linnet and Lord Ott who also have their own agendas. She also reunites with Meg who was her brother's girlfriend and who has been hiding major fighting skills.

New Orleans is a fascinating city where all the inhabitants and visitors are required to wear masks. It is also guarded by a massive and very steampunk sea wall. But, best of all, there are pirates. I can't wait for the third book to read more of Charlotte's adventures as she protects Grave and likely has to deal with her two suitors again.

Favorite Quote:
The fire heating Charlotte's limbs no longer brought pleasure. It seared every inch of her flesh. She screamed in agony. Linnet seized Charlotte, holding her tight as Charlotte cried out and jerked violently in Linnet's arms.

The flames coalesced into a thick, molten tar that covered Charlotte's skin and poured down her throat, drowning her.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Review: The Sorcerer and the Crown by Zen Cho

The Sorcerer and the Crown
Author: Zen Cho
Series: A Sorcerer Royal Novel (Book 1)
Publication: Ace (September 1, 2015)

Description: In this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite...

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

My Thoughts: This entertaining fantasy introduces an England where Napoleon would be fighting with magic had the English and French sorcerers not made a treaty. Things are not going well for English sorcery. Magic a drying up. The Sorcerer Royal died and passed the staff on to his adopted son who happens to be a freed slave and black. The rest of the magic community, composed primarily of members of the upper class, are determined to remove the staff from Zachariah's hands and place it into the hands of someone more worthy.

Zachariah takes a break from all the politics on London to make a speech at a girls' school and not only meets an unlikely young magician named Prunella but sees the length the headmistress will go to keep women from doing magic. Prunella decides to run away to London to make a better life for herself since she has been treated like an unpaid drudge since the death of her father. But she discovers that her father has left her a very powerful and very unexpected legacy.

Besides Zachariah and Prunella's adventures, we also have a visit to Fairyland, a visit from a very angry witch, and a sneaky magician who has wrested a familiar out of Fairyland. The story is filled with adventure and has very interesting characters. I liked the magical world that was created.

Fans of fantasy will enjoy this one.
Favorite Quote:
"Mr. Damerell may say what he likes, but I see no reason why we should restrain criticism of this absurd spectacle, child or no child," he snapped.

"I am sure you do not, Midsomer," said Damerell gently. "I have always admired your refusal, in the pursuit of your convictions, ever to be constrained by considerations of humanity—much less of ordinary good manners."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Conjurer's Riddle by Andrea Cremer

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. 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:
Without breaking his stride, Grave turned, spotted the cat, and jumped. He hurtled through the air, his body crashing into the cat's. Cat and boy slammed to the ground a fury of limbs, teeth, and claws.
This week my teaser comes from The Conjurer's Riddle by Andrea Cremer. This is the second book in her alternate history series. Here is the description from Amazon:
The Revolution is beginning–and Charlotte may be on the wrong side.

In this sequel to The Inventor's Secret, Charlotte and her companions escape the British Empire, but they haven't left danger behind. In fact, if they go against the revolutionaries, they face even greater peril.

Charlotte leads her group of exiles west, plunging into a wild world of shady merchants and surly rivermen on the way to New Orleans. But as Charlotte learns more about the revolution she has championed, she wonders if she's on the right side after all. Charlotte and her friends get to know the mystical New Orleans bayou and deep into the shadowy tunnels below the city–the den of criminals, assassins and pirates–Charlotte must decide if the revolution's goals justify their means, or if some things, like the lives of her friends, are too sacred to sacrifice.

This alternate-history adventure series asks the questions: What would have happened if America had lost the Revolutionary War? And what would people be willing to do to finally taste freedom?

Monday, June 20, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 20, 2016)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme begun by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

I am finally at my summer home! After medical tests on Monday, I didn't feel well enough to come home until Wednesday. I'm all unpacked and settled for a summer of reading and relaxing. I've been out to eat twice since I got home - once alone and once with my brother. I still have leftovers from the second outing.

Today is Grandma's Marathon day in Duluth. It is my intention to go nowhere near it. I don't want to deal with the traffic or the tourists today. I am, however, considering interrupting my reading with a little baking today.

I am trying something new and actually writing this post on Sunday afternoon. It has been my custom to write this post after work on Fridays and to just update the links on Saturday morning. This week I made it to Saturday morning. Maybe next week I'll get all the way to Sunday.

Read Last Week
I read Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. This is the fourth book of at least five. It is filled with twisty plots, growing relationships, and great characters. My review will be posted on July 9.

Flying by Carrie Jones is a review book that will be released on July 19. It is a contemporary paranormal starring a cheerleader who ends up battling aliens. My review will be posted on July 13.
Trapped by S. A. Bodeen is also a review book. This is the third in a middle grade science fiction/adventure series. It was exciting but really short and ended with a cliffhanger. My review will be posted on July 20 for this July 26 release.

I read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell from my TBR mountain. It has been forever since I read FANGIRL so I came to this book like a new reader. After spending about a quarter of the book feeling like it was just a Harry Potter rip-off, I became engaged with these characters and their problems. All in all I enjoyed it. My review will be posted on July 16.

Currently
I am currently reading The Ministry of SUITs by Paul Gamble and am finding it really silly so far. This his middle grade humor and middle grade adventure complete with footnotes. It will be released on July 26.

Next Week
I'm starting the new week planning to read two from TBR mountain and one from my review stack.
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - I've had this autographed book and the rest of the series on my stack since October 2010.
  • Seizure by Kathy Reichs - This second book in the Virals series has been on my stack since October 2011.
  • The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray - I got this review book in print from Macmillan. It will be released on August 2.
Reviews Posted
  • All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - Book 3 in The Naturals series
  • The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele - review book released June 7
  • The Secret Fire by Whitaker Ringwald - review book third in Secret Box series releasing June 21
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
While browsing around Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore killing time until the author signing began, I stumbled onto a copy of A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin. I have been seeing this around on the blogs I follow and was curious about it.

The Kindle Daily Deal on Saturday included Sarafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty. This is another that I became curious about when I saw it on so many blogs.
I added both SYNC audiobook titles to my collection this week. The links go to the SYNC download pages for each book.
I also received an autographed ARC of Finn's Choice from the author Darby Karchut. I have been following Finn's adventures since the beginning and find this ending book bittersweet. It will be released on September 20.

You can check Inside of a Dog (my other blog) to see what adult books I read, reviewed, and plan to read. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

ARC Review: The Secret Fire by Whitaker Ringwald

The Secret Fire
Author: Whitaker Ringwald
Series: The Secret Box (Book 3)
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (June 21, 2016)

Description: The third and final book in the critically acclaimed Secret Box trilogy, a series pitch-perfect for fans of humorous mystery capers like Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and the Mysterious Benedict Society.

Who knew that insisting on opening a strange birthday present would lead to being kidnapped by an evil Greek god determined to conquer the world? Jax Malone certainly didn’t. But now she’s trapped in the back of a limo bound for Epimetheus’s secret lair. He wants to control the three ancient urns that used to belong to Pandora’s daughter. Magical urns that can suck hope, faith, and love out of the world.

Now Jax, Ethan, and Tyler’s only chance to fight Epimetheus’s formidable power might be to find a secret weapon—and to realize that their family ties are stronger than any magic.

My Thoughts: The Secret Box trilogy concludes with this exciting adventure. Jax, Ethan, and Tyler are cousins who all have very different personalities and strengths. Jax loves reading travel guides and tends to act before thinking. Ethan is the one who assesses every risk and can give you endless facts to prove his opinion. Tyler is the oldest who is drafted to go along on this adventure because he can drive and has a car. He is also very into video games and is designing one with some friends.

In this episode, they are trying to defeat Ricardo - also known and Epimetheus - who wants to gather the urns of Faith, Hope, and Love to use them to control all of mankind. He has the urn of faith which he is using to create minions and disciples. When he kidnaps Jax to force Ethan and Tyler to bring him the other urns, the two boys have to go to Olympus to get them. Tyler is thrilled to be able to get first hand information about cyclops because his game is based on them; Ethan is more worried about having his allergies act up.

I really think that Ethan was my favorite character from the whole series. He was such a worrywart and so risk-averse. He was the voice of reason who was often drowned out by the more boisterous personalities of his cousin and his brother. But when push came to shove Ethan was very heroic.

Fans of fantasy the include Greek gods will enjoy this entertaining series. This is also a great adventure story with a great variety of personalities in the main characters.

Favorite Quote:
"Follow that car!" I hollered.

I couldn't believe those words had come from my mouth. That's one of those phrases you always hear in action films. If I were to star in a film, it would most likely be a documentary about how to check books out of the library, or a comedy about a shy kid who gets nosebleeds. I'm definitely not action-hero material. I can't even run a mile without starting to wheeze, thanks to my pollen allergy.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Memes: The Secret Fire by Whitaker Ringwald

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.

Beginning:
I've always wanted to ride in a limousine.
Friday 56:
"Uh..." How could I get rid of him? I needed that computer. I thought about it for a moment. "Ricardo said it's my turn to sit here. For the one purpose."
This week I am spotlighting The Secret Fire by Whitaker Ringwald. This is the third and final book in this middle grade series. I got the eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
The third and final book in the critically acclaimed Secret Box trilogy, a series pitch-perfect for fans of humorous mystery capers like Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and the Mysterious Benedict Society.

Who knew that insisting on opening a strange birthday present would lead to being kidnapped by an evil Greek god determined to conquer the world? Jax Malone certainly didn’t. But now she’s trapped in the back of a limo bound for Epimetheus’s secret lair. He wants to control the three ancient urns that used to belong to Pandora’s daughter. Magical urns that can suck hope, faith, and love out of the world.

Now Jax, Ethan, and Tyler’s only chance to fight Epimetheus’s formidable power might be to find a secret weapon—and to realize that their family ties are stronger than any magic.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

ARC Review: The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele

The Marked Girl
Author: Lindsey Klingele
Publication: HarperTeen (June 7, 2016)

Description: Worlds collide in Lindsey Klingele’s debut young adult novel, The Marked Girl, an exciting fantasy tale turned upside down. Elissa Sussman, author of Stray, calls The Marked Girl “a magical debut with a big heart.”

When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day LA via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task.

The Marked Girl has humor, heart, and harrowing adventures, perfect for fantasy lovers and reluctant fantasy readers alike.

My Thoughts: Liv is busy with her friends making a movie in downtown LA when three strangers in nightclothes and with a sword suddenly appear during an earthquake. Cedric, Merek and Kat escaped through a portal from their home on Caelum when the castle was invaded by wraths. Cedric is Crown Prince and Kat is his betrothed.

In the confusion of the earthquake, Liv's prop sword is switched for Cedric's sword. A couple of months pass before Liv decides to donate the sword to a museum. She has an appointment with a curator who keeps her waiting. While she is exploring the museum, she catches sight of Cedric and follows him into the depths of the museum. When he shows her the way out, they are attacked by wraths.

Since Liv's foster mother had a medical problem, she is without a foster home and the refugees from Caelum need a better place to live too. They find themselves in an abandoned house while they try to piece together the whole story. Cedric needs to find some scrolls to open a new portal back home. Their research leads them to a university professor who just happens to be a member of the group of knights who are determined to keep the portal closed so that neither wraths nor guardians can come to Earth.

Now the kids, who now include Liv's best friend Shannon, are on the run from both the knights and the wraths. This was an exciting adventure story that is clearly the first book in a trilogy. It has danger. It has romance. It has a search for family and home. I enjoyed it very much.

Favorite Quote:
"I truly am sorry," he said.

"It was a long time ago," Liv said, breathing in deep. The lump in her throat was almost gone now. "Besides, I just lost my family. You lost your whole world."

Cedric looked down at their hands, pressed together in the darkness. "Seems like the same thing to me."
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Review: All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

All In
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals (Book 3)
Publication: Disney-Hyperion (November 3, 2015)

Description: Three casinos. Three bodies. Three days.

After a string of brutal murders in Las Vegas, Cassie Hobbes and the Naturals are called in to investigate. But even with the team's unique profiling talents, these murders seem baffling: unlike many serial killers, this one uses different methods every time. All of the victims were killed in public, yet the killer does not show up on any security feed. And each victim has a string of numbers tattooed on their wrist. Hidden in the numbers is a code-and the closer the Naturals come to unraveling the mystery, the more perilous the case becomes.

My Thoughts: This third adventure of the Naturals sees them in Las Vegas trying to track down a serial killer. This venue is particularly stressful for Sloane because she is from Las Vegas. Her father, who hasn't acknowledged her, owns the casino where one of the murders took place. Cassie is also under particular stress in this one because a body has been found and it likely is the mother who disappeared leaving a blood drenched room when Cassie was twelve.

I really like a the characters in this series. They are all damaged in some way by their pasts but the damage has made their gifts stronger. They are also all loners and very mature for their ages. It must be like herding cats for their guardian Judd.

This episode is filled with tension and is emotionally hard on the kids too. They need to find out who the killer is fast since one of them might be intended to be the next victim. A secret is discovered and a link to Cassie's mom has been discovered.

I can't wait for the next book in this series.

Favorite Quote:
Judd deposited us safely in the hallway. "I"ll go get Michael," he told Dean. "You stay her and watch the girls."

That got a substantial eyebrow raise from Lia. "I do hope my dowry is large enough to attract a virile man," she told me wistfully. "I'm so very helpless on my own."

Dean was wise enough not to reply.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. 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:
"Come o-on," Liv said in a singsong voice. Then, less quietly, "You promised, remember? You said if I went out with you last night, you'd drive me to my appointment in the morning." Liv pulled the comforter off her best friend, causing her to curl up like a worm exposed to sunlight. "And it is now officially morning."
This week I am spotlighting The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
Worlds collide in Lindsey Klingele’s debut young adult novel, The Marked Girl, an exciting fantasy tale turned upside down. Elissa Sussman, author of Stray, calls The Marked Girl “a magical debut with a big heart.”

When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day LA via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task.

The Marked Girl has humor, heart, and harrowing adventures, perfect for fantasy lovers and reluctant fantasy readers alike.