Monday, July 30, 2018

ARC Review: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Sea Witch
Author: Sarah Henning
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (July 31, 2018)

Description: Wicked meets The Little Mermaid in the captivating origin story of the sea's most iconic villainess, perfect for fans of Heartless and Dorothy Must Die.

Ever since her best friend Anna died, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. Hiding her talents, mourning her loss, drowning in her guilt.

Then a girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears on the shore, and the two girls catch the eyes of two charming princes. Suddenly Evie feels like she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But magic isn’t kind, and her new friend harbors secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad—or on two legs—without Evie’s help. And when Evie reaches deep into the power of her magic to save her friend’s humanity—and her prince’s heart—she discovers, too late, what she’s bargained away.

My Thoughts: SEA WITCH is an entertaining historical fantasy. It is set somewhere in Sweden or Denmark and it tells the story of friends and loss and revenge.

Evie is a fisherman's daughter who has grown up with the Crown Prince Nik. When they were children, Evie, Nik, and their friend Anna were inseparable. But when the girls were eleven Anna drowns as the result of a dare. Nik and Evie go through a time of grieving but are still best friends.

Witchcraft is forbidden in their land of Havnstad and Evie has a secret. She comes from a long line of witches and she is one too. Once when Evie was hurt saving Nik from a dangerous accident, her mother did a spell that exchanged her life for her daughter's. Since then Evie has been determined to learn magic to help others. She tried a spell to save Anna when she was drowning but she failed and the spell had unexpected consequences too. Ever since, sea life which was once abundant has grown scarce which threatens everyone's livelihood. Evie has developed another secret spell for the fishing boats to make the harvests successful.

One day a sudden storm comes up which washes Nik overboard. He is rescued by a strange girl who shows a mermaid's tail. A few days later the girl comes to shore with regular human legs. She says her name is Annemette. She is also the very image of Anna who drowned four years earlier. She convinces Evie to help her remain human. The catch is that Nik will have to declare his love for her in only four days if she wants to keep her humanity. Luckily, it is the annual harvest festival and there are plenty of opportunities for them to find romance.

However, Annemette has a plan that she hasn't told Evie about and that plan will bring nothing but disaster.

I enjoyed this story. I liked the rich descriptive language. I liked the fairy tale feel. I liked the relationship between Nik and Evie. I even liked the unexpected ending.

Favorite Quote:
Annemette's face goes dreamy again. "True love's kiss is all I need."

I almost laugh. Now it's unrealistic and ridiculous. So much so, I'm completely incredulous. "A kiss, really? Your life for a kiss? That's it? That's some magic."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 27, 2018

ARC Review: The Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca Phillips

The Girl You Thought I Was
Author: Rebecca Phillips
Publication: HarperTeen (July 31, 2018)

Description: No one looking at Morgan Kemper would think she had a secret—at least not one that she’s deeply ashamed of.

To everyone she meets, she comes across as sweet, pretty, and put together. But Morgan knows that looks can be deceiving. For over a year, she’s shoplifted countless pieces of clothing and makeup. Each time, she tells herself it will be the last, and each time, it never is.

But when she’s caught and sentenced to thirty hours of community service, the image Morgan has carefully constructed starts to crumble. She’s determined to complete her punishment without her friends discovering the truth about her sticky fingers, but that’s easier said than done...especially once she meets Eli, the charming, handsome nephew of the owner of the charity shop where Morgan is volunteering.

Soon Morgan is faced with an impossible decision: continue to conceal the truth or admit that she’s lied to everyone in her life, including the boy she’s falling for.

My Thoughts: Morgan Kemper has a secret. Outwardly, she is smart, pretty, and has a solid group of friends. But inside, Morgan is a mess. She is so angry that her mother had an affair and left the family to go off with the new man. Since her mother left, Morgan has developed a new hobby. She shoplifts. She started small with lip gloss from the drugstore but, with knowledge gained online, now she is stealing clothes from mall stores. She feels guilty but she can't seem to stop.

Then she is caught stealing $186 sunglasses from Nordstroms. Her father is called and, since they believe she is a first-time offender, she's given the option of completing an online course and doing 30 hours of community service. Her dad finds her an opportunity to volunteer at a thrift store run by one of his former co-workers.

At the thrift store, Morgan meets Eli. She tells him that she's volunteering because it will look good on her college applications. The two become friends and even begin a romance. All the while, Morgan is keeping this big secret from him. He tells her all about the accident that ended his promising hockey career and about his current interest in horticulture but she shares just the smallest bits of her life.

At home, her father and sister are encouraging her to give her mother a chance, to listen to what she has to say. Morgan is still so angry with her that she isn't willing to give her a chance. Things deteriorate even more when her friends find out about her shoplifting which changes their relationship. Then Eli finds out and that relationship blows up too.

This was an intriguing story about a girl who makes bad decision after bad decision. It was almost painful to read. It does have a hopeful ending though as she begins to rebuild her relationships with her mother, friends and Eli.

Favorite Quote:
That amount of anger needs some kind of outlet, and since drinking and overeating never appealed to me, shoplifting was the most viable choice at the time.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

ARC Review: The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman

The Impossibility of Us
Author: Katy Upperman
Publication: Swoon Reads (July 31, 2018)

Description: The last thing Elise wants is to start over in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move to a sleepy coastal village to be closer to Elise’s sister-in-law and niece.

When Elise meets Mati during a beachside walk, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town, too. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact―Mati is Afghan.

Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, The Impossibility of Us asks―how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?

My Thoughts: Three years after losing her brother Nick while serving in Afghanistan, seventeen-year-old Elise moves from San Francisco to a small, sleepy coastal California town to be nearer to her sister-in-law and three-year-old niece. Her mother, who has spent the last three years suffering from writer's block, is not writing again. Elise is lonely. Her only saving grace is her new goldendoodle puppy Bambi and her photography.

One morning, while walking Bambi on the beach, she rescues a young man who has ventured too far into the dangerous water. The two meet again another day and begin a tentative friendship. One serious roadblock to their friendship is that Mati is Afghan. Elise's mother blames all Afghans and all Muslims both for the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and for the death of her son in Afghanistan. Another major roadblock is the Mati is only in the United States until mid-August because his father is undergoing cancer treatment.

Elise's mother hates the very idea of Mati and refuses to meet him. She keeps encouraging Elise to fix her sites on Ryan who is the grandson of their next door neighbor. He's also visiting for the summer before heading off to Texas A & M. Her mother is willing to overlook the fact the Ryan is gay. Elise and Ryan do become friends but she falls in love with Mati despite their many cultural differences.

I loved the way Mati and Elise's romance developed despite the huge obstacles in their way. I hated both Elise's mother and her sister-in-law for their prejudice and racism. I also had no sympathy for her mother's self-indulgent and excessive grief. She got so buried in her grief for Nick that she emotionally abandoned her fourteen-year-old daughter to indulge it. Her every utterance in the book was an I-statement completely overlooking that Elise was also grieving the loss of her brother.

The writing was beautiful and lyrical. Elise's portions of the story were first person narrations. Mati's sections were written in verse. I liked the occasional quotes from 13th Century Sunni Muslim poet Rumi too.

Favorite Quote:
I'm not sure if my prejudice was ingrained in me by my mother. who's feared Muslims since the Twin Towers fell -- doubly after my brother was killed -- or if I've chosen narrow-mindedness because it's easier than acknowledging how utterly complex this world is, but I'm certain of this: Nick would disapprove of complacent ignorance.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, July 23, 2018

ARC Review: The Griffin's Feather by Cornelia Funke

The Griffin's Feather
Author: Cornelia Funke
Series: Dragon Rider (Book 2)
Publication: Chicken House (July 31, 2018)

Description: It's now been two years since Ben and Firedrake defeated Nettlebrand and rescued the silver dragons. Both boy and dragon have finally found homes, but they must live hundreds of miles apart and can only see each other every once in a while.

During one such visit, news reaches Ben, the Greenblooms, and their friends that the last Pegasus in the world has been discovered. The legendary horse has three unhatched eggs with him, but the only way they'll ever hatch -- and continue the survival of this incredible magical species -- is to place them under a griffin's feather. But griffins are the most dangerous creatures in the world, and their mortal enemies are dragons...

Ben has vowed not to tell Firedrake about his quest, to protect him. But as he and the Greenbloom team set off for a remote island where the terrible griffins are rumored to live, he may just need the help of his best friend and dragon...

My Thoughts: Two years have passed since Ben's adventures with Firedrake and both have found homes. Unfortunately, they haven't found the same home. Ben is living with the Greenblooms in their secret conservation site in Norway and Firedrake is living with the other dragons at the Rim of Heaven in Nepal. They miss each other and don't get to see each other as often as they would like.

Ben loves living with his adoptive family and taking care of the many fantastic beasts who take shelter at the refuge. When one of the few remaining Pegasi loses his mate and is left with three unhatched eggs, they are offered a place in the refuge. But without a mother, the three young Pegasi will not be able to hatch. The only solution which is found after researching many ancient texts about fantastic beasts, is to create something like the mother's saliva from a golden feather of a griffin.

Not only are griffins rare, but they are also the most difficult of all fantastical creatures. They hate dragons and pegasi and most other creatures. The only way to save the babies is to find the almost mythical griffins and then convince them to give up one of their special feathers.

Ben, Barnabas Greenbloom, Twigleg, Lola Greytail and Hothbrodd - grumpy Norwegian troll with a gift for talking to trees - are off to find the griffins. They are careful not to let Firedrake know about their plans because they know he would want to help, but the venture will be especially dangerous for him. Besides, he is an expectant father himself as his mate is sitting on their eggs in Nepal.

The travelers have a deadline. They have only a week to get the griffin feather or it will be too late for the pegasi eggs. They have many adventures and meet some new companions to help them on their journey. All of the characters face challenges to both their ingenuity and their courage.

Besides being a great adventure, this book is filled with positive and uplifting messages about love, friendship, and courage. Each chapter begins with a quote. Those quoted span a wide variety of people from Einstein to Maya Angelou to Kate DiCamillo.

Fans of Ben and Firedrake's first adventure won't want to miss this engaging and uplifting adventure.

Favorite Quote:
He was coming to admire more and more Shrii's courage in standing up to Kraa. And not only his courage. It was so much easier simply to do what everyone else did without questions, instead of looking for new and better ways to act. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Scholastic. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 20, 2018

ARC Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

Contagion
Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Contagion (Book 1)
Publication: HarperTeen (July 24, 2018)

Description: Perfect for fans of Madeleine Roux, Jonathan Maberry, and horror films like 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, this pulse-pounding, hair-raising, utterly terrifying novel is the first in a duology from the critically acclaimed author of the Taken trilogy.

After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

My Thoughts: CONTAGION is a fast-paced, frightening science fiction story. Foster kid, high school student Thea Sadik has won a coveted internship working for Hevetz Corporation assisting Doctor Lisbeth Tarlow. They are at an isolated, cold weather base when a distress call comes in. The Captain - Dylan Lowe - assembles a skeleton crew of rather unprepared people to go for search and rescue. Among that crew are Thea, Dr. Tarlow, computer tech Toby, mechanic Sullivan, and pilot Nova.

There are already conflicts among the crew before they find out that they are on their way to Achlys - a planet like Mercury that might have a resource Hevetz wants to extract. Dr. Tarlow knows the planet because she was the sole survivor or an earlier disaster on that planet. She was a child at the time. Sullivan is concerned about Dylan's competency. Toby is an agitator who likes arguments and who favors their trio of planets leaving the Union. Nova and Sullivan are cousins. He got her her job after she washed out of the military academy because of a vision problem that has since been corrected. Dylan is single-minded about trying for a rescue since her father is at that base.

When they arrive, they find some corpses, blood trails, and a note written in blood telling them not to trust the kid. When Thea is separated from the searchers, she is rescued by Coen Lashley who is the only survivor of those they came to rescue and the kid they were warned against.

They soon discover that the victims they came to rescue weren't nearly as dead as they had believed. The rescue crew is soon being pursued by the zombie-like victims who are determined to add their rescuers to their number. There were chases all around the research ship as our heroes try to elude the new creatures as they try to get off the planet to safety. Along the way, more and more of the rescuers are lost. Secrets are also uncovered regarding the source of the contagion and what is trying to be accomplished.

The only negative that I have about the story is that there is a cliffhanger ending leaving me aching for the next book to find out what happens next. "I have a plan" is a horrible ending because I want to know what the plan is NOW.

Favorite Quote:
Something seemed to crack in Thea's chest.

The doctor hadn't denied it. She'd known all along what they might find on Achlys, the risks the planet posed. She knew and she'd done nothing, even had the nerve to tell Thea everything would be fine. She'd warned the team about harsh land and rough storms, but not what mattered most.

She'd damned them all.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ARC Review: Between Frost and Fury by Chani Lynn Feener

Between Frost and Fury
Author: Chani Lynn Feener
Series: The Xenith Trilogy (Book 2)
Publication: Swoon Reads (July 24, 2018)

Description: Delaney might have done her job a little TOO well...and now her life has once again been turned upside down by aliens, this time by a deadly (and devastatingly handsome) alien prince in this explosive second installment of Chani Lynn Feener's The Xenith Trilogy.

Delaney has been kidnapped by aliens. Again. After only a month back on Earth with her hot new alien boyfriend Ruckus, the deadly and devastatingly handsome prince Trystan has dragged her right back to his planet.

While some girls may dream of winning a prince’s heart, Delaney just wishes this one would leave her alone. Instead, she finds herself at the center of both a tense political battle between two alien kingdoms and Trystan’s romantic attentions, both of which are absolutely ruining the life she’s built on Earth. Not to mention the fact that she’s about to be crowned queen of a planet she’s barely even visited. Just another day in the life of an ordinary human girl.

Readers won’t want to miss Between Frost and Fury, the compelling, fast-paced sequel to Chani Lynn Feener’s Amid Stars and Darkness.

My Thoughts: Delaney has been kidnapped from Earth again. This time she finds herself captured by Trystan who is the heir to one kingdom. Delaney, through some actions that she didn't quite understand, is the heir to the other kingdom. If the two of them get married, they will prevent a war.

The main problem with this is that Delaney is in love with another guy. Ruckus was the one who kidnapped her in the first book but they fell in love anyway. Also, she's from Earth and doesn't want to be involved in Xenith's problems. She just wants to be rescued by her boyfriend and go home.

With her boyfriend imprisoned by Trystan, Delaney is forced to go through the betrothal protocol for her new planet. She thinks she has made a deal with Trystan that will allow her to do enough to satisfy his father but ultimately be allowed to return home. Only Trystan's father - the Rex - has his own plans and Delaney's happiness doesn't matter to him at all.

I really started to like Trystan in this story and so did Delaney though she felt like she was betraying Ruckas by doing so. It was interesting to learn more about him after seeing him mainly as the villain in the first story.

This is book two of a trilogy. The ending is unresolved in many ways. I'm curious to know if she is going to choose between the two boys and which one she'll choose.

Favorite Quote:
"Because!" She shoved off the wall so quickly that some of the liquid from the mug sloshed over the rim and onto her hand. She only partially registered the heat. "I'm trying to cope here! You can't just take someone from another planet, tell them you're going to force them to marry you, and call it a day! I'm freaking out!"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Book Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Stars Above
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (February 2, 2016)

Description: The enchantment continues. . . .

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories - and secrets - that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With six stories - two of which have never before been published - and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer's novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this anthology. Most of the stories were about the characters in The Lunar Chronicles when they were young. We have stories about Cinder, Scarlett, Wolf, Thorne and Winter. We also have a wonderful culminating story about Wolf and Scarlett's wedding.

I enjoyed getting glimpses of my favorite characters when they were young. The writing was engaging and the characters well-drawn. It was nice to revisit the world of the Lunar Chronicles again after being away for a few years.

The Little Android was the only story whose character was new to me. I enjoyed this story about an android who falls in love, has her heart broken, and who delights in seeing the stars.

My copy ends with a preview of Heartless which I have sitting on my Kindle.

Favorite Quote:
It was beautiful. Mech6.0 loved this moment--anticipated it every time they completed a new project and prepared to send it off into the sky. That short glimpse of the galaxy was not like anything else in her world, a world that was normally filled with mechanics and tools and the dark, shadowy spaces inside a quiet, lonely spaceship.

The galaxy, she had come to understand, was vast and bright and endless.
I bought this one March 15, 2016. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

ARC Review: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia Unleashed
Author: Scott Reintgen
Series: The Nyxia Triad (Book 2)
Publication: Crown Books for Young Readers (July 17, 2018)

Description: Emmett Atwater thought Babel's game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn't take long for him to learn that Babel's competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis spaceship survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces-Babel and the Adamites-with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it's too late?

My Thoughts: This is the second book of a trilogy. The combined remaining crews of Genesis 11 and 12 have landed on the new planet as treasured guests of the residents of the planet. Their goal is to mine the incredibly valuable nyxia and ship it off to Babel for use on Earth. That is why this group of poor kids was recruited. They can take care of their families on Earth and earn huge amounts of money too. The only problem is that Babel has been lying to them the whole time they were going through their training and they aren't at all sure if they can trust the Imago who live on the planet.

This story is mostly told by Emmett as they mine, travel through the dangerous planet, meet the locals and learn many things that Babel never told them. They are invited to Sevenset which is the largest settlement on the planet where they learn things about the Imago that Babel doesn't know. They also learn things about the culture and the rebels when Emmett is kidnapped by on of the outlaw Imago.

I liked the action. I liked the twisty plotting. I liked the relationships between the kids who are parts of Genesis 11 and 12. I especially liked the partnership between Emmett and Morning. Because this is the middle book of a trilogy, the ending is a cliffhanger. I can't wait for the third book to find out how all the issues resolve.

Favorite Quote:
I memorize details of every face. There's a certain joy in forgetting who brought us here and why. Babel would take jazzy's poise under pressure, Katsu's booming laugh, Azima's endless energy. For the right price, they'd burn away the little things that make us who we are and sell us to the highest bidder.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

ARC Review: When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn

When Life Gives You Demons
Author: Jennifer Honeybourn
Publication: Swoon Reads (July 17, 2018)

Description: Some people have school spirit.

Shelby Black has real ones.

Shelby Black has spent the past six months training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy―a Catholic priest―has put her through exorcist boot camp hell, hoping to develop her talent, but ohmygod, he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity to herself. The last thing she wants is for her crush, Spencer, to find out what she does in her off time.

But Shelby knows how to keep a secret―even a big one. Like the fact that her mom left under mysterious circumstances and it’s all her fault. Shelby is hellbent on finding her mom, no matter what it costs her―even if what it ends up costing her is her soul AND a relationship with Spencer.

My Thoughts: Shelby Black is trying to combine training to be an exorcist with her senior year of high school. She has been training with her great-uncle Father Roy since her mother left abruptly to attend a special training for exorcists in Rome. Shelby feels really guilty because she and her mother had quite a fight before her mother left.

Training is really cutting into her schoolwork too but she really enjoys her Wednesday afternoon tutoring sessions with Spencer Callaghan who is a new student in their school. Shelby is developing quite a crush on him.

Some secrets are revealed and Shelby and Spencer find themselves hunting a very special demon. I liked Shelby and her relationship with Father Roy. I also liked the growing relationship between Shelby and Spencer. The demon hunting added interest to this story too.

Favorite Quote:
I wrinkle my nose. "Ugh. I hate geometry." I let my guidance counselor talk me into taking it after he quizzed me about my college plans and I mentioned I was interested in architecture. Unfortunately, architecture turned out to be only a passing interest, and now I'm stuck with this impossibly hard course.

"You may have mentioned that several hundred times," Spencer says.

"That's because I can't stress it enough."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Review: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee

A Spy in the House
Author: Y. S. Lee
Series: The Agency
Publication: Candlewick Press; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)

Description: Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners -- and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust -- or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets -- including those of her own past.

My Thoughts: Young Mary Quinn was saved from the gallows and brought to a school where she was taught many things to help her improve her life. Once educated, she was given a chance to belong to the Agency which was organized as a private investigations firm staffed only by women.

Mary's first case puts her in the Thorold household as companion to Angelica Thorold who is the bored daughter of an invalid mother and a businessman father. Mr. Thorold is suspected of smuggling antiquities from the Far East along with his other more legal shipments.

Mary finds that she has entered a house of secrets. While investigating Mr. Thorold's office she encounters James Easton who is also investigating. James and his brother George run an engineering firm. George has decided that he's fallen in love with Angelica and wants to marry her. James wants to make sure the Thorold's business interests won't cause problems.

Mary and James decide to work together since their interests coincide but neither quite trusts the other and James is a typical chauvinist of his age and time. Their investigations take them to warehouses and to a home for aging Chinese sailors among other places. Mary learns something of the past she has been denying.

The story was filled with action and was an interesting historical mystery. I liked the way Mary has to deal with the conventions of the time. I also liked that Mary was smart, daring and resourceful.  I liked the realistic romance that was beginning between James and Mary and how it was resolved.

Favorite Quote:
"Oh, I'll marry eventually," he said calmly. "But when I do, it'll be for the right reasons."

"Which are?"

He waved his had vaguely. "Money. Business contacts. Political connections."

"And in return, your wife would get...?"

His expression suggested that it was an odd question. "A husband, of course."
I bought this one Sept. 16, 2012. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 6, 2018

ARC Review: Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie

Hullmetal Girls
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Publication: Delacorte Press (July 17, 2018)

Description: Fans of Pierce Brown and the Illuminae series will love this epic space adventure that New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis says "you will devour in one sitting."

Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor's salary isn't enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she's from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha's and Key's paths collide, and the two must learn to work together--a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintian unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

My Thoughts: This science fiction story takes place in a fleet of humans looking for a new home planet. They have been searching for 301 years. During this time the fleet has divided itself into seven castes of varying prosperity. The book is told alternately by Aisha and Key.

Aisha is from the seventh tier which is the lowest caste. She has been working as a janitor to support her younger sister and brother since her parents' deaths. Now her young brother has caught the plague which can be treated but costs a lot of money. In order to provide treatment for him, Aisha decides to become a Scela for the higher paycheck. The Scela are the peacekeepers in the fleet and are remade with mechanical parts. It is a desperate option but Aisha doesn't have any other. She's doing it for her family. She leaves her sister with her mother's sister Yasmin. Yasmin is supposed to keep her out of the dyeworks where many in her tier work and die.

Key is from the first tier where the rulers and rich people live. She wakes to find that she is now Scela and has no idea why she made that choice. She has large gaps in her memory about her life and her past.

The two girls and two other new Scela become a squad and go through basic training to learn to use their new bodies. They have ups and downs as they learn to integrate the machine intelligence that is now part of them. On Aisha's first leave, she and Key are allowed to go back to her home ship to check up on her family. There Aisha finds out the her sister is working in the dyeworks, her brother has been sent to the plague ship for treatment, and her aunt is part of the underground Fractionists who are rebelling against the leaders of the fleet and who believe that they would have a better chance of finding a new planet if they fleet split up. Aisha, very reluctantly, gets involved with the Fractionists because she is being coerced by her aunt in return for better treatment for her sister.

Meanwhile, both girls are seeing things that lead them to believe that the leaders are so eager to hold onto power that they are passing up planets that could be settled. Key also begin to learn some of the things that were blocked from her memory which I had already figured out.

This was an engaging and exciting science fiction story. The characters were well drawn and the world building was intriguing.

Favorite Quote:
"Calm down," he soothes. Like the words calm down have ever had their intended effect on anybody.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Book Review: Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

Glimmerglass
Author: Jenna Black
Series: A Faeriewalker Novel
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin (May 19, 2010)

Description: It's all she's ever wanted to be, but it couldn't be further from her grasp…

Dana Hathaway doesn't know it yet, but she's in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she's had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she'll never have a chance with… until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn't sure where she'll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again…

My Thoughts: Tired of being the grown up in her relationship with her alcoholic mother, sixteen-year-old Dana decides it is time to spend some time with her powerful fae father in Avalon, the only human/fae city on Earth. That has to be better, right? Well, not so much.

Dana finds herself mixed up in fae politics that she doesn't understand and that no one will explain to her when she reaches Avalon. She kidnapped by her Aunt Grace, rescued by teens Ethan and Kimber, and learns that she is a very rare faeriewalker who can travel between both worlds bringing magic to Earth and technology to Faerie. Everyone has a use for her and she doesn't know who she can trust.

I liked Dana. She was forced by her family situation to be too old for her age. At the same time, because she had moved around so frequently with her alcoholic mother, she was younger than her age too. She didn't have any experience making friends and certainly knew nothing about having a boyfriend. Ethan seems more than willing to add to her boyfriend knowledge but she doesn't know if she can trust him.

This was a fast-paced story with a bit of romance. I liked the whole concept of a city where humans and fae interact. I liked that she was getting to know her father. I liked that he was honest with her even when she didn't want to hear what he had to say.

This is the first book in a trilogy. I'm eager to read the rest.

Favorite Quote:
"Aren't there, like, gun laws or something?"

She laughed. "We radicals like to think of laws as more of  'guidelines.' Besides, I'd rather risk someone going all technical on me about carrying a concealed weapon than be unarmed when attacked by Spriggans."
I bought this one May 8, 2011. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, July 2, 2018

ARC Review: Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library (Book 4)
Publication: Berkley (July 3, 2018)

Description: To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and BonePaper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making...if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

My Thoughts: This book is not the place to begin this five book series but readers already invested in the characters won't want to miss it. Jess, masquerading as his twin brother Brendan, Morgan and Scholar Wolfe are back in Alexandria. Jess is trying to scam the Archivist. Morgan is back in the sealed tower of the Obscurists and Wolfe is back in the dungeons where he was tortured. Jess and Morgan have a plan and secrets which they didn't share with Wolfe.

The rest of the group - Khalila, Dario, Glain, Thomas and Captain Santi - are on a ship under control of Anit, Red Ibrahim's daughter. They learn that they have been betrayed and Red Ibrahim has decided to sell them to the Archivist. They aren't in favor of that plan and need to stage their own revolution to gain control of the ship.

This book is told from a number of viewpoints. Khalila is the voice of the group trying to get to Alexandria. Jess's sections deal with his plans to overthrow the Archivist and rescue his friends. Wolfe talks about his trials in the dungeon and his plans with the other prisoners to escape. Morgan is building support among the Obscurists and trying to outwit Gregory who is the Obscurist Magnus while trying to get the support of Wolfe's father who has become a very powerful hermit within the tower.

Each group is trying to build support to overthrow the Archivist who will go to any length to hold on to his power. Our heroes all want to return to a better version of the Great Library before it was corrupted into putting a stranglehold on knowledge.

I love the world building in this series with automata and a Great Library that used to control the world gradually losing its grip on power. The idea that things like the printing press have been invented over and over again and suppressed each time by the Library is intriguing. This world now has countries rebelling against the library. The printing press being used by smugglers and book burners to get their messages out.

The book was filled with action and excitement and with characters needing to make decisions that with test them to their limits. I can't wait to read the next volume to find out how everything works out and see if the Great Library can find its new role in the world.

Favorite Quote:
The Archivist went as still as the Horus statue looming in the corner. Those eyes caught the light from the windows and turned an eerily hollow shade. Got him, Jess thought. The one thing that every Archivist for nearly a thousand years feared was change, and it was upon this one whether he liked it or not. With a working press to print copies of books, people would no longer be beholden to the alchemically mirrored copies from the Great Library. They could own books, not merely borrow them. The could write books without the oversight of Scholars and the censorship of the Library. The Library had started as a preserver of knowledge, a beacon of light, but through the centuries and millennia, it had become a center of power.

Power rotted from within.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

State of the Stack #73 (July 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.

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. Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews (June 25)
  2. The Banker's Wife by Cristina Alger (June 27)
  3. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager (June 28)
  4. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James (June 29)
  5. Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine (July 2) 
  6. Somebody's Daughter by David Bell (July 4) 
  7. Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie (July 6) 
  8. Shelved Under Murder by Victoria Gilbert (July 7) 
  9. When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn (July 11)
  10. The Disappearing by Lori Roy (July 12) 
  11. Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen (July 13) 
  12. Paradox by Catherine Coulter (July 19) 
  13. Contagion by Erin Bowman (July 20) 
  14. Between Frost and Fury by Chani Lynn Feener (July 18)
  15. Murder, She Reported by Peg Cochran (July 21)
  16. The Griffin's Feather by Cornelia Funke (July 23)
  17. The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman (July 25)
  18. A Double Life by Flynn Berry (July 25)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez (June 1) 
  2. Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King (June 2) 
  3. The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen (June 6)
  4. The Body in the Ballroom by R. J. Koreto (June 6) 
  5. Last Girl Gone by J. G. Hetherton (June 7)
  6. Death and a Pot of Chowder by Cornelia Kidd (June 9)
  7. Ocean Light by Nalini Singh (June 11)
  8. A Merciful Silence by Kendra Elliot (June 14) 
  9. Girl With a Gun by Kari Bovee (June 16)
  10. The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings by Sarah Prineas (June 20)
  11. Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley (June 30)
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 Prodigy by John Feinstein (August 28)
  2. Set the Night on Fire by Laura Trentham (July 31)
  3. Paradox by Catherine Coulter (July 31)
  4. Six Cats a Slayin' by Miranda James (Oct. 23)
  5. A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle (Nov. 6)
  6. A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany (Nov. 13)
  7. The Hangman's Secret by Laura Joh Rowland (Jan. 8, 2019)
  8. The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens (Oct. 16)
  9. The Storm Runner by J. C. Cervantes (Sept. 18)
  10. A Murder By Any Name by Suzanne M. Wolfe (Oct. 9)
  11. Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older (Sept. 11)
  12. The Guilty Dead by P. J. Tracy (Sept. 11)
  13. Second Chance at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer (August 28)
  14. Grenade by Alan Gratz (Oct. 9)
  15. Del Toro Moon by Darby Karchut (Oct. 2)
  16. Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas by Katie Ruggle (Oct. 2)
  17. D-Day: The World War II Invasion That Changed History by Deborah Hopkinson (Aug. 28)
  18. The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century by Neal Bascomb (Sept. 25)
  19. Unpunished Crime: Massacre at the Colfax and the Quest for Justice by Lawrence Goldstone (Aug. 28)
  20. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (Jan. 15, 2019)
  21. Her Majesty's American by Steve White (Sept. 4)
  22. The Splintered Light by Ginger Johnson (Sept. 4)
My Review Pile

July
Deep Cover by Scarlett Cole (July 31 - NetGalley)
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning (July 31 - Edelweiss)
The Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca Phillips (July 31 - Edelweiss)
Set the Night on Fire by Laura Trentham (July 31 - NetGalley)

August
The Point by John Dixon (August 7 - NetGalley)
#murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil (August 7 - NetGalley)
To Catch a Witch by Heather Blake (August 7 - NetGalley)
The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian Conroy (August 7 - NetGalley)
Nine by Zach Hines (August 7 - Edelweiss)
These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch (August 7 - Edelweiss)
Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill (August 14 - NetGalley)
The Truth Lies Here by Lindsey Klingele (August 21 - Edelweiss)
Unpunished Murder by Lawrence Goldstone (August 28 - Scholastic)
D-Day: The World War II Invasion That Changed History by Deborah Hopkinson (August 28 - Scholastic)
Second Chance at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer (August 28 - NetGalley)
The Prodigy by John Feinstein (August 28 - NetGalley)
Through the Fire by Katie Ruggle (August 28 - NetGalley)
Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes (August 28 - Edelweiss)

September
The Splintered Light by Ginger Johnson (September 4 - Bloomsbury)
Her Majesty's American by Steve White (September 4 - Edelweiss)
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan (September 4 - Edelweiss)
Ten After Closing by Jessica Bayliss (September 4 - Edelweiss)
The Guilty Dead by P. J. Tracy (September 11 - NetGalley)
Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older (September 11 - Scholastic)
Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima (September 11 - NetGalley)
In Cold Chocolate by Dorothy St. James (September 11 - NetGalley)
Read and Gone by Allison Brook (September 11 - NetGalley)
The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes (September 18 - NetGalley)
The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo (September 18 - Edelweiss)
The Grand Escape by Neal Bascomb (September 25 - Scholastic)

October 
Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas by Katie Ruggle (October 2 - NetGalley)
Del Toro Moon by Darby Karchut (October 2 - Author)
Damsel by Elana K. Arnold (October 2 - Edelweiss)
Broken Things by Lauren Oliver (October 2 - Edelweiss)
Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand (October 2 - Edelweiss)
Grenade by Alan Gratz (October 9 - Scholastic)
A Murder by Any Name by Suzanne M. Wolfe (October 9 - NetGalley)
A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn (October 9 - NetGalley)
The Hour of Death by Jane Willan (October 9 - NetGalley)
Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (October 9 - NetGalley)
The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens (October 16 - NetGalley)
A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess (October 16 - NetGalley)
Six Cats a Slayin' by Miranda James (October 23 - NetGalley)

November
A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle (November 6 - NetGalley)
Umbertouched by Livia Blackburne (November 6 - NetGalley)
Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (November 6 - NetGalley)
A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany (November 13 - NetGalley)
The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston (November 13 - NetGalley)
This Splintered Silence by Kayla Olson (November 13 - Edelweiss)

December
Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst (December 4 - NetGalley)
The Disasters by M. K. England (December 18 - Edelweiss)

January
The Hangman's Secret by Laura Joh Rowland (January 8 - NetGalley)
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (January 15 - NetGalley)

Next Month's Plan

This was a month when I felt like I was just treading water. I read 18 review books but I added 22. I usually try to be a month ahead with my reviews but I had so many July releases that I am falling behind. I should be able to catch up in August. I have 14 August releases which is a lot less than the 23 July releases that I had on my stack.

While I am no longer getting print ARCs from Macmillan, Scholastic and Bloomsbury seem to have found my mailing address. All of those arrivals are surprises. I'm uncertain how I got on a list to receive Middle Grade nonfiction though. I almost never read nonfiction for any age level.

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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!