Monday, April 30, 2018

ARC Review: Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Dragon Rider
Author: Cornelia Funke
Series: Dragon Rider (Book 1)
Publication: Chicken House; Reprint edition (April 1, 2011)

Description: With a lonely boy named Ben on board, the brave young dragon Firedrake sets out on a magical journey to find the mythical place where silver dragons can live in peace forever. Flying over moonlit lands and sparkling seas, they encounter fantastic creatures, summon up surprising courage -- and cross the path of a ruthless villain with an ancient grudge who's determined to end their quest. Only a secret destiny can save the dragons in this enchanting adventure about the true meaning of home.

My Thoughts: When humans threaten to invade their isolated valley in Scotland, young dragon Firedrake listens to the oldest dragons story about the Rim of Heaven, a magical place where dragons can be safe. Firedrake, along with his cranky brownie Sorrel, are determined to find it and find a a place of safety for the dragons to live.

Rosa Rat suggests that they check with her cousin Gilbert who is a famous mapmaker in the warehouse district of a human city. When Firedrake and Sorrel arrive in the city, they hide in a warehouse where Ben, a young homeless human boy, has been living. He helps them find Gilbert and joins them on their journey.

The quest to find a location that may or may not be legendary would be difficult on it own. But the adventurers also have to deal with Nettlebrand who is an evil, golden-armored monster who wants to hunt down and kill all the silver dragons like Firedrake. Nettlebrand has created magical ravens to be his spies and he also has a homunculus named Twigleg who has been his armor polisher for hundreds of years.

Nettlebrand sends Twigleg to spy on the adventurers but he very quickly joins them because they treat him with kindness and respect. However, Nettlebrake has a new armor polisher in Gravelbeard, a dwarf, to be his new spy.

As the adventurers travel to the Rim of Heaven somewhere in the Himalayas, they encounter friends like archaeologist Barnabas Greenbloom, his daughter Guinevere, and wife Vita who help them on their journey. They also encounter more dangers including a basilisk and sandmen and a roc that captures Ben.

This was a great middle grade adventure. I liked how so many of the characters were searching for a place to call home. I also liked the friendships that were developed between all the various characters.

Favorite Quote:
"He's helped us, Sorrel. He's a friend. So I don't mind whether he's a human being, a brownie, or a rat. What's more," he added, looking at Ben, who was standing there hardly daring to breathe, "what's more, he doesn't have a home now any more than we do. Isn't that true?" He looked inquiringly at the boy.

"I never did have a home," muttered Ben, looking at Sorrel.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Scholastic Books. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

ARC Review: The Lies They Tell by Gillian French

The Lies They Tell
Author: Gillian French
Publication: HarperTeen (May 1, 2018)

Description: With shades of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, this dark and twisted mystery by the highly acclaimed author of Grit will be the page-turner of the year.

Everyone in Tenney’s Harbor knows about the Garrison tragedy. How an unexplained fire ravaged their house, killing four of the five family members. But what people don’t know is who did it. All fingers point at Pearl Haskins’ father, who was the caretaker of the property, but Pearl just doesn’t believe it. Leave it to a town of rich people to blame “the help.”

With her disgraced father now trying to find work in between booze benders, Pearl’s future doesn’t hold much more than waiting tables at the local country club, where the wealthy come to flaunt their money and spread their gossip. This year, Tristan, the last surviving Garrison, and his group of affluent and arrogant friends have made a point of sitting in Pearl’s section. Though she’s repulsed by most of them, Tristan’s quiet sadness and somber demeanor have her rethinking her judgments.

Befriending the boys could mean getting closer to the truth, clearing her father’s name, and giving Tristan the closure he seems to be searching for. But it could also trap Pearl in a sinister web of secrets, lies, and betrayals that would leave no life unchanged…if it doesn’t take hers first.

My Thoughts: This twisty mystery takes place in a town in Maine where the townies and tourists are sharply divided groups. Everyone knows about the Garrison tragedy where the father, mother, sister and younger brother of Tristan Garrison on Christmas Eve. The house was set on fire to conceal the fact that they were all shot to death. Tristan is the only survivor because he was away skiing with friends. Pearl's father was the night watchman and lost his job and most of his other rich customers as a result of the tragedy.

When summer comes again and with it Tristan and his rich friends, Pearl who works as a waitress at the country club decides to see if she can find out what led to the tragedy. She wants to clear her father's name. Catching the attention of one of Tristan's devoted followers, she insinuates herself into the group of rich kids and discovers all sorts of secrets about their lives.

She even becomes fascinated with Tristan who is having difficulty rebuilding his life though he hasn't lost his grip on his social set. Her investigation is also jeopardizing her relationship with her best friend Reese. Although their relationship is already changing as Pearl realizes that she wants him as a boyfriend at the same time that he is building a relationship with another girl.

I liked the family dynamics in this story as Pearl tries to cope with a father who is turning more and more to alcohol and a mother who left the family but still wants a relationship with Pearl. The mystery was intriguing too.

Favorite Quote:
By the time Tristan reached them, many of the partyers had faded back, found other places to be, other people to turn to. His separateness was a physical force; even Pearl had to fight down the need to make room. He stood looking at the fire, his hands in the pockets of his shorts. In the charged silence, Aki hunched forward. "S'up, man. Want a beer?"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ARC Review: The Outcast by Taran Matharu

The Outcast
Author: Taran Matharu
Series: The Summoner Trilogy (Book 4)
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (May 1, 2018)

Description: The thrilling prequel to the New York Times–bestselling Summoner series!

When stable boy Arcturus accidentally summons a demon and becomes Hominum's first common summoner, he becomes the key to a secret that the powerful overlords would do anything to keep hidden.

Whisked away to Vocans Academy so he can be kept watch over, Arcturus finds himself surrounded by enemies. But he has little time to settle in before his life is turned upside down once again, for Hominum Empire is in turmoil.

Rebellious intent simmers among the masses, and it will not be long before it boils over. Arcturus must choose a side . . . or watch an Empire crumble.

My Thoughts: A stable boy named Arcturus, trying to run away from his unkind masters at an inn, steals a horse and accidentally summons a demon. The demon is a canid that he names Sacharissa. He soon finds himself at Vocun which is a school where young upper class summoners are trained. Until Arcturus, it was believed that summoners had to be the first born of another upper class summoner. Knowing that he is a commoner puts that belief in question.

Once he arrives at Vocun, he is not warmly greeted. Many of his fellow students, especially including the lord's son who was supposed to get Sacharissa, hate him and want him to fail. The provost of the school wants him to fail but the king sets him on a quest to find out if there are other commoner summoners around.

The Hominum Empire is in a mess. The commoners are on the edge of revolt because the current king is too concerned with building a posh castle to care about them. High taxes cause resentment. The army whose main task is to battle the orcs who are harrying the country's borders is making do with old, outdated arms and armor. The revolutionaries think it would be a wonderful idea to capture the upper class students at the school to use as hostages against their parents' behavior in the revolt.

Arcturus and his some of his fellow students manage to get away from the revolutionaries who are trying to capture them but a wild chase begins which leads them into Orc country. The kids do join up with some soldiers who are still loyal to the king but they are vastly outnumbered by orcs and revolutionaries.

This story was filled with adventure and danger even though Arcturus ended so many chapters unconscious that I worried he'd suffer from brain damage. I liked Arcturus's new relationship with his demon Sacharissa. I liked his growing friendship with some of the upper class kids on the run with him. I thought the world building was interesting and the demons interesting paranormal creatures.

I enjoyed most of this book. I hated the last two chapters of this story. It almost felt like someone told the author to wrap it up and it doesn't have to make sense. I felt like everything Arcturus and his new friends went through was just a waste of time except for the body count.

Favorite Quote:
"The Wendigo will dispose of the body," Rook snarled.

"You're going to make it look like I tried to capture a Wendigo, alone, and it killed me?" Arcturus said with horror.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

ARC Review: White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

White Rabbit
Author: Caleb Roehrig
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (April 24, 2018)

Description: Caleb Roehrig, author of Last Seen Leaving, delivers another spellbinding YA murder mystery in White Rabbit.

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian―the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to "talk." Things couldn’t get worse, right?

Then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. He and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox. Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth, but April has something he needs. Her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to clear his sister’s name . . . or die trying.

My Thoughts: Rufus Holt is having a bad 4th of July. His former boyfriend Sebastian, whom he still loves, shows up at a party where he is and says he wants to "talk" and his half-sister April calls and begs him for his help saying only that she's at Fox's cottage. Lacking a car and the location of Fox's cottage, he accepts Sebastian's offer of a ride but doesn't let him have his "talk." When they arrive at Fox's cottage, they find Fox's stabbed to death in the kitchen and April passed out covered in blood and holding a bloody knife next to him.

The house shows signs of a party with alcohol, cocaine, and a new designer drug White Rabbit scattered around the place. Because Rufus has anger management issues and has been in trouble with the cops, he doesn't call the police but decides to sober up his sister and get her story first. She claims that she wasn't doing drugs and doesn't know what happened to her boyfriend Fox. She offers Rufus $2000 to find a way to clear her name.

Rufus needs the money. His mom owes a debt of $8000 or they'll lose their house. Rufus and his mom have been a team fighting against Rufus's biological father Peter Covington II who happens to be a wealthy and well-connected lawyer who had an affair with his mother until she learned he was married. Since then there have been lots of lawsuits and bitterness between them. Hayden Covington, who was a toddler when Peter had the affair, has grown up hating Rufus and bullying him only to always be protected by his father's money and influence. April, born when Peter and his wife Isabel attempted a reconciliation, is the only Covington Rufus can stand but he isn't sure that he can trust her.

Rufus and Sebastian begin investigating the events of the fateful 4th of July night and uncover lots of reasons why any of the people at Fox's party could have wanted him dead. The first suspect is Arlo who was Fox's partner in his drug dealing but then he's found dead too. Rufus and Sebastian have to interview Sebastian's ex Lia who is currently dating Arlo and who is lying to them about something. Rufus's jealousy makes him want to consider her a suspect. Or, the video that is circulating showing Fox having sex with one of his friend's girlfriend could also make a great motive for murder. All the while Rufus and Sebastian are investigating we also get flashbacks to their relationship and Rufus's heartbreak when Sebastian broke up with him and we learn Sebastian's issues.

This story was fast-paced and the clues kept unfolding in such a way that I couldn't put the book down. I read it in one sitting finally finishing early in the morning hours. I had to know what really happened at that beach party and if Rufus and Sebastian had a chance at a new relationship. Both the mystery and relationship made compelling reading. I recommend this one both to mystery lovers and to those interested in LGBT relationships.

Favorite Quote:
As it is, unable to account for the real reason Sebastian and I want to leave almost the second we're done eating, I let my best friend's prurient imagination supply the missing details. As we head for the exit, Lucy calls out, teasingly, "Good night, boys! Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"

Before the door closes behind us, we also hear Brent's sarcastic reply. "What kind of advice is that? The only two things you won't do are 'eat cilantro' and 'watch anything starring Gwyneth Paltrow.'"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ARC Review: The Reckless Rescue by Adrienne Kress

The Reckless Rescue
Author: Adrienne Kress
Series: The Explorers (Book 2)
Publication: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (April 24, 2018)

Description: The second book in the Explorers series has more mystery, more bravery, more danger than ever before! The perfect read for fans of The Name of This Book Is a Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society!

Reader! We have left things unresolved! What began as your average story of a boy stumbling upon a secret international explorers society has turned into an adventure of epic proportions.

The average boy--Sebastian has been kidnapped by a trio of troublesome thugs who want the secret map he's memorized. Luckily, his new friend Evie has promised to rescue him, and double-luckily Evie has the famous explorer and former Filipendulous Five member Catherine Lind at her side!

There's still the whole matter of Evie's grandfather (and the leader of the Filipendulous Five) somewhere out there in grave danger, but pursuing Sebastian will lead Evie and Catherine to another member of the Five, who might be able to help.

There will be new people to meet, new places to see, and some dancing along the way. And one amazingly reckless rescue.

My Thoughts: THE RECKLESS RESCUE is the second book in the Explorers series. It begins with Sebastian in the hands of his kidnappers while Evie is trying to convince the Explorers Society to mount a rescue. She and Catherine Lind are authorized to rescue Sebastian while trying to locate Evie's grandfather.

Sebastian has been kidnapped because he has a photographic memory and has memorized the key to a map that Sebastian burned to keep it out of the enemy's hands. The Filipendulous Five made an amazing discovery that the enemies want to find and exploit. Evie's grandfather was the leader of the Five. He sent letters to other four which give clues to his location. But he really, really liked riddles and so the clues are obscure.

Evie and Catherine have Catherine's letter but have to track down Benedict Barnes - another of the Five - who is currently exploring the Vertiginous Volcano off the coast of Australia to get his clue. However, the location of the volcano is secret and Evie and Catherine have to reunite a couple of Great White Sharks before they can convince a guide to take them there.

Meanwhile, Sebastian escapes from his kidnappers in Seoul and falls in with a K-Pop band named the Lost Boys to get away from them. He wants to contact his parents but the band's manager doesn't believe that he is not a runaway boy and thwarts him. The manager wants Sebastian to stay with the band so that he can take care of him. Sebastian and the band come up with a plan but it requires him to learn to play the drums and perform at one of the Lost Boys' concerts. He gets away from the Lost Boys but is recaptured by his kidnappers.

Evie and Sebastian reunite at the Vertiginous Volcano where they have a hair-raising adventure crawling through the volcano to get away from the kidnappers. When the story ends they have two pieces of the clues needed to find Evie's grandfather and two of the Filipendulous Five to help them track down more members.

This story had a cliffhanger beginning and a cliffhanger ending and lots of adventure in between. I loved the footnotes and the general writing style and can't wait for more adventures.

Favorite Quote:
"Evie, please, stay calm," said Catherine, jumping into the conversation.

Evie scowled at that. Had there ever been a person in the history of time who had been told to stay calm, or to calm down, or any kind of calming where the result had been anything other than the person getting more frustrated?
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

ARC Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess
Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: Ash Princess (Book 1)
Publication: Delacorte Press (April 24, 2018)

Description: For fans of Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen and Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes, Ash Princess is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

My Thoughts: ASH PRINCESS begins a new epic fantasy series. It tells the story of a young girl who watched her mother the Queen murdered in front of her eyes and who has spent the previous ten years as a captive in her own palace. She has been beaten whenever the rebels did anything that displeased the Kaiser. She has been befriended by the daughter of the man who killed her mother but she lives in total fear. She has also been waiting to be rescued.

When she is forced to execute the last Guardian - her own father, she decides to stop waiting to be rescued and the take charge of her own future. Of course this isn't easy. She has no power and is under constant supervision of three guards. Her first change is necessarily internal. Her attitude has changed though her outward behavior hasn't.

When a childhood friend who spent years mining the jewels that the conquerors want and which Theo's people used to magnify their magical powers escapes and comes to the palace, Theo finally has some actual support for her rebellion. Still, the rebels are a small group facing overwhelming odds. A plot is formed that involves turning Crown Prince Soren against his father to destabilize the government. So Theo begins to romance him and halfway falls in love with Soren who has suffered his own abuses at his father's hands. Theo is torn between the ideals she learned as a child and the crueler lessons she has learned in ten years as the prisoner of an evil man unable to trust anyone around her.

This was an engaging story but most of the action was internal which won't catch the attention of those who want battles and sword fights. Readers who want a character who needs to survive and who has internal strength will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
"It's not your loyalty I'm worried about," he says after a moment. "It's your mind. The Kalovaxians have had you for ten years, Theo. That isn't something that's easy to leave behind."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Hero at the Fall
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands (Book 3)
Publication: Viking Books for Young Readers (March 6, 2018)

Description: The breathless finale to the New York Times bestselling Rebel of the Sands series will have you on the edge of your seat until the dust from the final battle clears!

When gunslinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

My Thoughts: The Rebellion has hit a low point when this story begins. Amani and just a few remaining revolutionaries are trapped in the Sultan's city surrounded by a ring of fire fueled by an invention Leyla made and powered by the death of a djinn. They need to find a way out of the city and rescue Prince Ahmed, Shazad, and other revolutionaries imprisoned by the sultan in the same prison that holds the Destroyer of Worlds.

But rescuing the imprisoned revolutionaries is only one step to overthrowing the sultan and stopping the conquest of the desert country of Miraji by greedy neighbors who want to wipe out magic. Amani being a demdji herself must battle herself and all sorts of enemies to reach her goal. I love the way she has to make decisions that she doesn't feel at all confident to make. When she frees a djinn on her journey, he promises to help her get what she wants in return for his freedom. But Amani isn't sure what she wants and knows that the djinn is just looking for a loophole to get his revenge on humanity.

I liked the writing style in this book. I liked that there were chapters that turned their adventures into heroic stories that would long be told in Miraji. I liked the way the stories rewrote the characters to make their battle cleaner and sanitized while at the same time seeing how the battles really went. I cried. I laughed. I help my breath in fear for the characters and breathed many sighs of relief when things worked out. This was an excellent ending to a wonderful fantasy trilogy.

Favorite Quote:
Jin's compass pointed south, toward Eremot if Leyla was to be believed. But even I wasn't reckless enough to think we could pull off a rescue with only eight of us -- seven now, I reminded myself. A Blue-Eyed Bandit and an imposter Blue-Eyed Bandit, a Foreign Prince, a reluctant one-time friend, shape-shifting twins, and an enemy princess. Not exactly an army.

We needed help.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cover Reveal: Del Toto Moon by Darby Karchut

I am pleased to show everyone the cover for Darby Karchut's next book Del Toro Moon. It is a middle grade mashup of fantasy and Westerns. I can't wait to read it.

Here’s the jacket copy:
Bad enough Matt Del Toro is the greenest greenhorn in the family’s centuries-old business: riding down and destroying wolf-like creatures, known as skinners. He must also learn how to match his father’s skills at monster hunting. Odds of doing that? Yeah, about a million to one. Because Matt’s father is the legendary Javier Del Toro—hunter, scholar, and a true caballero: a gentleman of the horse.

Now, with the skinners multiplying, both in numbers and ferocity, Matt is desperate to keep his father and hot-tempered older brother from killing each other, prevent his new friend, Perry—a horse-crazy girl who recently moved to their small town of Huerfano, Colorado—from discovering the true nature of his odder-than-oddball family, and save a group of paleontologists from getting skinner-ed.

Luckily, Matt has twelve hundred pounds of backup in his best friend—El Cid, an Andalusian war stallion with the ability of human speech, more fighting savvy than a medieval knight, and a heart as big and steadfast as the Rocky Mountains.

Serious horse power.

Those skinners don’t stand a chance.

Friday, April 6, 2018

ARC Review: The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Summer of Broken Things
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publication: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 10, 2018)

Description: From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes a haunting novel about friendship and what it really means to be a family in the face of lies and betrayal.

Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.

But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.

Margaret Peterson Haddix weaves together two completely separate lives in this engaging novel that explores what it really means to be a family—and what to do when it’s all falling apart.

My Thoughts: THE SUMMER OF BROKEN THINGS tells the story of a summer that really changes both of the main characters.

Avery Armisted is fourteen, rich, pretty, athletic and just a little bit spoiled. When her parents tell her that she is going with her father to Spain for the summer instead of to soccer camp with her friends, she is angry and disappointed. She is even more angry when her father tells her that they are bringing along Kayla Butts who is two years older and who was a friend when both girls were younger.

Kayla lives with her grandparents and her mother in a small town. She's not rich, not attractive, and is bullied at school by kids who call her Butt-girl. Her mother works in a nursing home and Kayla often tags along. Her best friends are the residents of the home. She is excited to be going to Spain and hopes that she and Avery can be friends again.

Once in Spain, the girls struggle to get along. Avery is so angry and Kayla finally stops trying to appease her. Avery gets even more angry and hurt when she learns that her parents are planning a divorce. Also, she learns a secret about her family that also involves Kayla which rocks the world for both girls.

They need to find a way to pull together and decide if they can be anything to each other. I liked the way Kayla developed self-confidence and self-assurance through the course of this story. I was a little less enthused about Avery who was more volatile in her emotional journey. Of course, Kayla has a much stronger family situation than Avery and more maturity.

This was an engaging story with intriguing characters.

Favorite Quote:
Avery also isn't baby-giraffe gawky and awkward anymore. She's dancer graceful, or maybe teen-model graceful. She moves like she knows people are watching her, like she thinks they should watch her. (I move mostly like I'm darting from shadow to shadow, hoping nobody notices me.)
I got this one from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air (Book 1)
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (January 2, 2018)

Description: By #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, the first book in a stunning new series about a mortal girl who finds herself caught in a web of royal faerie intrigue.


Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him--and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

My Thoughts: THE CRUEL PRINCE is an intriguing fantasy that starts a series. The main character is Jude Duarte. She watched a fairy named Madoc kill her parents in order to gain control of her older sisters Viviene who happens to be his daughter. Rather than leaving them on Earth, takes Jude and her twin sister Taryn back to faerie with him too.

Ten years have passed and Jude and Taryn have found different ways to cope with the dangers of being human in faerie. Taryn is looking to marry and become a consort. Jude wants power of her own and to control her own life. She has decided that the only way to survive is to out-evil the fae around her. Madoc is a red cap and one of the high king's generals. He has taught Jude strategy and tactics and to use a sword. She has very mixed feelings about him. She hates him for killing her parents but she has known him to take a father's care of her for ten years.

Through the years she and Taryn have become the victims of a set of the younger fae including Prince Cardan who is the youngest son of the king. He becomes her biggest rival but his cohorts especially Valerian and Locke are the more overtly dangerous. Valerian has tried to kill her a number of times and Locke seems to be trying to seduce her for some reason. Their constant harassment hones her terror and her determination to make a place for herself in faerie.

The high king has decided to abdicate his throne which makes the political maneuvering even more dangerous for Jude. She is recruited by Prince Dain, who is the heir apparent, to be his spy. He puts her under a geas to keep her from talking about him and his plots but which also makes her immune to enchantment by other fairies. As she conducts missions for him, she finds some clues that puzzle her and make her wonder if she really knows what is going on.

This tale is twisty and Jude's life is in so much danger. Her life in faerie has twisted her into something that she isn't sure she likes but she doesn't see another path. I liked the secrets that were gradually revealed. The story was intriguing and kept me reading late into the night. I can't wait to find out what comes next for Jude.

Favorite Quote:
"Nice things don't happen in storybooks," Taryn says. "Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

ARC Review: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst

The Stone Girl's Story
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publication: Clarion Books (April 3, 2018)

Description: Exploring the power of stories and storytelling, Sarah Beth Durst presents the mesmerizing adventure of a girl made of living stone who braves unforeseen dangers and magical consequences on a crucial quest to save her family. 

Mayka and her stone family were brought to life by the stories etched into their bodies. Now time is eroding these vital marks, and Mayka must find a stonemason to recarve them. But the search is more complex than she had imagined, and Mayka uncovers a scheme endangering all stone creatures. Only someone who casts stories into stone can help—but whom can Mayka trust? Where is the stonemason who will save them?

Action and insight combine in this magical coming-of-age novel as the young heroine realizes the savior she’s been searching for is herself.

My Thoughts: THE STONE GIRL'S STORY is a wonderful middle grade fantasy. Mayka is a girl who was carved of stone by Father who also carved many other creatures: birds Jacklo and Risa, rabbits Dersy and Harlisona, the owl Nianna, Etho the lizard, Turtle, Badger, the cat Kalgray, and the fish. But Father died many years previously and the marks he carved into their stone are fading. When they have faded enough, all the carvings stop. Recently Mayka's friend Turtle has stopped and she is grieving his loss.

She decides that the only thing for her to do is to venture down the mountain from their home to the valley below to find a new stonemason to recarve the marks needed to keep her friend and herself alive. She was planning to go alone but Risa and Jacklo decide to follow her and join her on the adventure. And what an adventure it is.

On their journey, they meet many people. Some are dangerous and want to return them to their "Keeper" in the hopes of a reward. Others are kind like the young girl Ilery who is also visiting the city of Skye and Garit who is an apprentice stonemason. They also meet a carved small dragon named Si-Si who has been forgotten by her owners and who was made as a decoration but wants to rewrite her story to make herself useful and heroic.

Most troubling of all those Mayka meets on her journey is Garit's Master Siorn who has discovered something new - a way to add a mark of obedience to all his stone carvings. Siorn is hoping that his discovery will raise the status of stonemasons who have been distrusted since the Stone Wars but Mayka is appalled that someone else would take control of stone creature's stories. She needs to find a way to rescue Jacklo was was captured by Siorn and had a mark of obedience carved on him. But that isn't enough. She needs to find a way to stop Siorn from convincing others to use the mark.

This was a wonderful coming of age story as Mayka learns about her own strengths and learns that she is rewriting her story as she changes because of her adventures. It was a wonderful story of friendship and the lengths people go to for their friends. I loved the idea that everyone is the author of their own story. I highly recommend this book for is lyrical language and engaging heroine.

Favorite Quote:
This was it, the noun she hadn't recognized, beside the mark for stonemason. It was Master Siorn's name. The mark she hadn't recognized was his name, combined with the inverted sign for "lead." which could be read as "obey."

Obey Master Siorn.

He'd made that a part of all the creature's stories. Obey me, he's written on their bodies. She was certain she was reading it correctly, and equally certain they had to leave. Right now.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from the author. You can buy your copy here.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

State of the Stack #70 (April 1, 2018)

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 or near the first of the month. Link with Avalalinha's Books (description below) to check out other people's progress. She has just recently started a meme about review books.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet I list them in publication order and sort them by month. I can quickly see how many books I have for each date. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books. Check my spreadsheet to find out where I got each book.

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

May
Flowers and Foul Play by Amanda Flower (May 8)
The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (May 15)
The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst (May 15)
The Game Can't Love You Back by Karole Cozzo (May 15)
Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett (May 15)
Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson (May 22)

June
Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton (June 5)
City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts (June 5)
Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez (June 5)
How We Roll by Natasha Friend (June 5)
The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen (June 5)
The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates (June 5)
The Body in the Ballroom by R. J. Koreto (June 12)
Last Girl Gone by J. G. Hetherton (June 12)
Death and a Pot of Chowder by Cornelia Kidd (June 12)
Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King (June 12)
Girl with a Gun by Kari Bovee (June 19)
The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings by Sarah Prineas (June 26)
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows (June 26)
Now You See Her by Lisa Leighton & Laura Stropki (June 26)

July
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James (July 3)
Somebody's Daughter by David Bell (July 10)
Shelved Under Murder by Victoria Gilbert (July 10)
When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn (July 17)
Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen (July 17)
Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie (July 17)
Between Frost and Fury by Chani Lynn Feener (July 24)
Contagion by Erin Bowman (July 24)
The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman (July 31)
The Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca Phillips (July 31)
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning (July 31)

August
These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch (August 7)
Nine by Zach Hines (August 7)
The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian Conroy (August 7)
To Catch a Witch by Heather Blake (August 7)
#murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil (August 7)
The Truth Lies Here by Lindsey Klingele (August 21)

September and October
Read and Gone by Allison Brook (September 11)
In Cold Chocolate by Dorothy St. James (September 11)
Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima (September 11)
Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (October 9)
 
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. A Glimmer of Hope by Steve McHugh (March 27)
  2. The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst (April 3) 
  3. Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance (April 4) 
  4. The Shadow of Death by Jane Willan (April 5) 
  5. Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston (March 22)
  6. Lord of the Pies by Nell Hampton (April 7)
  7. Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope (April 12)
  8. Save Me (Corrupted Hearts) by Tiffany Snow (April 17)
  9. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian (April 13)
  10. The Explorers: The Reckless Rescue by Adrienne Kress (April 18) 
  11. The Viridian Convict by Sam York (April 10) 
  12. A Town Called Vengeance by Kevin Wolf (April 16) 
  13. Shattered Mirror by Iris Johansen (April 19)
  14. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig (April 20) 
  15. What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka (April 21) 
  16. The Outcast by Taran Matharu (April 25) 
  17. Beyond the Pale by Clare O'Donohue (April 25) 
  18. Pairing a Deception by Nadine Nettmann (April 26)
  19. The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick (April 30) 
  20. The Lies They Tell by Gillian French (April 27) 
  21. Better Off Read by Nora Page (April 28) 
  22. No Cure for the Dead by Christine Trent (May 2) 
  23. Cake and Punishment by Maymee Bell (May 3)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Hooked on a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase (March 1) 
  2. The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller (March 2) 
  3. Lake Silence by Anne Bishop (March 6)
  4. Searcher of the Dead by Nancy Herriman (March 7)
  5. The Final Six by Alexandra Monir (March 7)
  6. Lethal in Old Lace by Duffy Brown (March 8) 
  7. Under the Shadows by Gwen Florio (March 10) 
  8. Bones Don't Lie by Melinda Leigh (March 13)
  9. Deja Moo by Kirsten Weiss (March 14)
  10. Losing Leah by Tiffany King (March 14)
  11. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (March 17)
  12. Deadly Secret by Tara Thomas (March 20)
  13. Lost Crow Conspiracy by Rosalyn Eves (March 21) 
  14. Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston (March 22)
  15. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (March 23) 
  16. Falling Star by Terri Osborn (March 24) 
  17. Ice Wolves (Elementals) by Amie Kaufman (March 26) 
  18. The School for Psychics by K. C. Archer (March 28) 
  19. The Window by Amelia Brunskill (March 28) 
  20. They Lost Their Heads! by Carlyn Beccia (March 30) 
  21. A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks (March 31)
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 Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst (April 3)
  2. A Glimmer of Hope by Steve McHugh (April 1)
  3. The Lies They Tell by Gillian French (May 1) 
  4. Girl with a Gun by Kari Bovee (June 19) 
  5. The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates (June 5)
  6. Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston (March 27)
  7. The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian Conroy (August 7)
  8. Save Me (Corrupted Hearts) by Tiffany Snow (April 17)
  9. Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie (July 17)
  10. Shelved Under Murder by Victoria Gilbert (July 10)
  11. In Cold Chocolate by Dorothy St. James (Sept. 11)
  12. Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (Oct. 9)
  13. To Catch a Witch by Heather Blake (August 7)
  14. #MurderTrending by Gretchen McNeil (August 7)
  15. A Town Called Vengeance by Kevin Wolf (May 1)
  16. Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King (June 12)
  17. Burning Bridge by Margaret Mizushima (Sept. 11)
Next Month's Plan

So, I reduced the size of my review stack slightly this month. I read 23 and only added 17. I have 19 from NetGalley, 16 from Edelweiss and 7 from Macmillan currently on my stack. Five of the books on my NetGalley stack have been on my Kindle more than three months which isn't too surprising since I read books in order of publication date rather than in order of the date I received them.

I have been working away at my May releases but still have 7 to go. Then there are 14 June releases and 11 July releases currently on my stack.

I am well ahead reading, writing reviews, and scheduling posts. My April calendar is already complete and I have begun reading books that will be posted in May.

*********

I am also linking up with the State of the ARC meme. Here is the explanation and rules.

State of the ARC is a monthly meme at Avalinah’s Books meant to motivate you to finish up all your long overdue ARCs (Advanced or Early Reader Copies). You can track your reading progress and link up with your own post. Most commonly it comes out on the 30th of every month.

Rules of State of the ARC:

  • Mention that you’re linking up with State of the ARC @ AvalinahsBooks, which is a fun way to share our ARC progress, challenges, wins, woes and mishaps.
  • Include the link to this post, or the current State of the ARC post. You can use my State of the ARC image too.
  • Don’t forget to visit all the other people in the link-up and comment.
  • And most importantly – have fun!