Saturday, April 21, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves # 280 (Week Ending 04/21/2018)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Thanks for Stopping by!
This is a fairly heavy haul this week. Mostly from NetGalley.
Got an invitation recently to join the Coastal Magic Convention in 2019 as featured Blogger. I live right up the coast from Daytona Beach, so, this would be an amazing chance to see fellow bloggers and authors who I've followed for 9 years. Thank you for all your comments last week. It really helped make my weekend.
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

 Monday - True North by L.E. Sterling (YA, Dystopian)

Wednesday - Devils Upon Dust by Emma Berquist (YA, Dystopian)

Thursday - Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol (YA, Dystopian)

 Friday - Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Antstey (YA, Historical) 

Saturday - Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D VIA NetGalley, & Edelweiss*

Friday, April 20, 2018

ARC #Review - Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Shadow Game Series (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…  And she’ll need to play.

Ace of Spades, by author Amanda Foody, is the first installment in the authors The Shadow Game series. Foody is also the author of Daughter of the Burning City. One could call this story a mash-up of House of the Rising Sun meets Six of Crows. Foody takes readers to the infamous City of Sin (New Reynes) with the story of Erienne "Enne" Salta, a 17-year old lady-to-be orphan who must brave rowdy casinos, magic, street gangs, Ponzi schemes gone wrong, and a mire of dangerous politics as she searches for her missing foster mother, Lourdes Alfero, using Lourdes rules of survival and a trusty hand book. 

"Avaric, pride and lust; these are all modest desires. What the City of Sin truly craves is destruction" - The City of Sin, a Guidebook: Where to Go and Where No To.

Foody explores the classic themes of seeking the truth and finding where you belong, all set against a rich and evocative fantasy backdrop. Foody alternates her story through two very different characters; Enne Salta, who I mentioned before. Enne, from Bellamy, is armed only with a letter her foster mother left her after going missing 4 weeks ago telling her to find Levi Glaisyer, and 17-year old Levi Glaisyer, a gang leader, a card dealer & card shark, a lover of both men and women apparently, and someone who is just one scheme away from owning the streets and having everything he's ever wanted.

In New Reynes, Enne can't trust anyone. Not Levi, who leads her into the devil's own den where she finds herself bound to a crime leader and forced to work while searching for her foster mother. Not Vianca Augustine, head of the Augustine Crime family who has a fetish for all things Mizer, and certainly not Sedric Torren, the man who may have a connection to a group that has risen out of the Shadows and may possibly be the most dangerous person Enne will face in New Reynes. Enne must also explore her blood talent that derives from her parents. Parents she never knew.

This is a story that features some interesting ideas. Mizers, who apparently were overthrown 25 years ago, monarchists, Talents o Mysteries, and Talents of Aptitude, volts, which one uses as a payment method, and orbs. All kidding aside, this story is twisted, strange, bizarre, and really shouldn't be compared with Six of Crows. Levi surely has nothing on Kez Brekker, and neither does his so called crew. One could say that Levi's crew, minus Jac, is pretty much non-existent and not even in play for most of the story. The only other characters that really matter in the long run outside of Enne and Levi, are Lola Sanguick, and Zula Slyk. I enjoyed Enne's character development. From the green and innocent girl who arrives in New Reynes, to the girl who has a whole lot of encouraging growth in a positive direction.

"She’d faced the witch. She’d poisoned the wolf. She’d strolled into the land of death with her head held high and left it a lord. She was an impossible player in a fixed game, the only person not playing to win."

ARC #Review - Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey #YALit #Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Book, 336 pages
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult  / Romance / Historical

Two young people must hide their true feelings for each other while figuring out who means them harm in this YA Regency romance from the author of Love, Lies and Spies and Duels & Deception.

Shy aspiring artist Imogene feels conflicted about marrying the young man her father has chosen for her, but she is willing to at least give him a chance for her family's sake. That is, until she meets Ben, a charming architect's apprentice . . . and her suitor's younger brother.

Unbeknownst to Imogene, Ben feels the same way about her, but he can never let his true feelings be known without betraying his brother. So he resigns himself to merely a friendship with her, enlisting her to teach him how to draw.

But hiding their true feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of unfortunate "accidents," it becomes apparent that someone means Ben serious harm. And as their affection for each other grows, so does the danger . . .

Author Cindy Ansley's Suitors and Sabotage is a story that is set in the early 19th Century England. The story revolves around four main characters: Imogene Chively, Emily Beeswanger, Ernest Steeple, and Benjamin Steeple. Imogene is a character who is an aspiring artist who just had a successful season in London. Imogene is expected to accept Ernest's offer of marriage whenever the young man proposes, as he is her only suitor.

In this reality, only a firstborn with a sizable income is suitable for Imogene. At least according to her father. She is also on the shy side unlike her best friend Emily. The problem is that Benjamin Steeple arrives before Ernest, and catches Imogene's imagination. Ben is the more daring, the more interesting, the more forward, and the one who peaks her interest with his wit and humor. He also seems to be a trouble magnet. For some reason or the other, someone appears to want to make Ben's life a living hell. 

While Ernest is the eldest and is expected to retain the families reputation, it is Benjamin who is an apprentice to a renowned Architect. The problem is that he can't draw to save his life. Imogene's forte is architectural details and teaching others how to draw. Learning of Ben's ineptitude towards drawing, Imogene offers to help Ben learn to draw. Now comes the twist. Imogene and Emily are best friends and sisters of the heart.

But, Emily apparently fancies Ben, which creates an internal conflict in Imogene. This is the case of best friends not telling each other how they feel. While Imogene's undeniable feelings for Ben continue to grow, you do feel a sense of isolation as Imogene essentially loses her only confidante. There is always a tricky element when you have two men and one woman involved in a story. Love triangle? Not necessarily. There really wasn't any romantic interest on Imogene's part towards Ernest. More as a friend to friend relationship. 

It's a twisted sort of story where the author takes the readers to various houses that seem to be a summer tradition. There is Fotheringham, Shackleford Park, Chotsdown & Dowersham all apparently in Kent, England. It also has a curious mystery that is played out against the backdrop of everything else that is happening to Imogene, Emily, Ben, and Ernest. A mystery that was rather sad when you really think about it. This book is filled with obvious tension between the characters. I am kind of sad at how the story resolves itself. Not sad that the ending didn't make sense. Sad that the author left things kind of unbalanced in regards to her characters. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

ARC #Review - Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol #YALit #Dystopian

Series: Secondborn # 2
Format: E-Arc, 316 pages
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Publisher: 47North
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Dystopian

Rebel warrior Roselle St. Sismode returns in the second book of the epic Secondborn series by USA Today bestselling author Amy A. Bartol.
In the Fates Republic…

Firstborns reign supreme.
Secondborns kneel in servitude.
Thirdborns face death.
And Census shadows them all.

Secondborn Roselle St. Sismode was pressed into military service to battle the rebel uprising threatening the society that enslaves her. Now, powerful factions conspire to subvert the lines of succession, positioning Roselle to replace her mother as leader of the Republic’s armed forces. But the woman who bore her would sooner see Roselle dead than let her usurp her firstborn brother’s command.

The deadly war of intrigue between her new masters and her ruthless family is but one conflict challenging Roselle. A soldier for the rebellion has drawn her into a rogue army’s plot to overthrow the Republic and shatter its brutal caste system. Targeted by assassins and torn between allies, Roselle will have her loyalty, love, and honor tested in the greatest battle of—and for—her life.

Traitor Born is the second installment in author Amy A. Bartol's Secondborn series. The story picks up where Secondborn left off. Protagonist Roselle St. Sismode has found herself in a situation that most likely would make others skittish and run for the hills. She's become a pawn in a political game that has seen Rose become the person of the moment. The Gates of Dawn wants her to break the dreaded Fate system which includes Virtue, Swords, Stars, Atoms, Suns, Diamonds, Moon, Seas, & Stones. The Rose Garden Society wants her to become the Sword ruler replacing her mother who has tried to kill her, as did her own brother who she still supports.

But, nobody has asked Rose what she wants for the her life if she survives all the challenges that are heading straight for her. This is a world that is dominated by Firstborns while Secondborn's are given over to the government to use as they see fit. And, if you are a Thirdborn, you are deemed unnecessary, and are hunted down by a group known as Census. Rose has already faced the Census and Agent Crow. Rose has a strange group of allies including Clarity Bowie, Clifton Salloway, Reykin Winterstorm, and Dune Kodaline. Despite the protection afforded to her by both Rose Garden and Gates of Dawn, danger always seems to find its way to Roselle's doorstep.

Her mother, Othala St. Sismode, is on the warpath and will stop at nothing to remove the threat she sees in Roselle to  her machinations. Census Crow wants Roselle badly. She has found a way to escape him time and time again, but how many times can one person escape from bad situations before her good luck runs out? I'll have to admit that I've become a fan of Roselle's, especially after this book. Rose is not unlike me who gets panic attacks. She's a badass fighter, who gets some pretty cool weapons and outfits, and then gets thrown into the frying pan by the author. Roselle has been a puppet her entire life. As her families Secondborn, everyone has their own agenda for her and their own motivations for treating her certain ways. Roselle doesn't hate her brother. She probably should since he has checked out and hasn't exactly stood up to defend her. Her mother is ruthless, cunning, dangerous, and manipulative. Roselle would be better off just cutting the cord and admitting that were it not for others and her own cunning, she would be dead.

I liked her connection with Reykin which slow develops over the course of the story and then leaves room for more if the author choose to do so. I am saddened to say that there's a brutal cliffhanger ending to this book. But, I am happy to say that the author throws a really wicked cool scene where all hell breaks loose. No spoilers. The author is diabolical. Seriously. I literally gasped at what the author puts Roselle and allies through. And, if that weren't enough, she leaves a preview of the third installment that will linger with you until Rebel Born is released in 2019. Traitor Born is an action packed story filled with twists, and surprises, and emotionally charged scenes. If you haven't read the first book yet, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ARC #Review - Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist #YALit #Dystopian #Western

Series: Standalone
Format: E-ARC, 496 pages
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Westerns

True Grit meets 28 Days Later in a tense, heart-pounding alternate history of the Old West. To protect her family, a young woman must brave the desert and a terrifying infected population in this gripping adventure that is for fans of Westworld and The Walking Dead.

Ten years ago, a horrifying disease began spreading across the West Texas desert. Infected people—shakes—attacked the living and created havoc and destruction. No one has ever survived the infection. Daisy Wilcox, known as Willie, has been protecting her siblings within the relatively safe walls of Glory, Texas. When Willie’s good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most dangerous shake-hunters in town, she finds herself on the hook for his debt. With two hunters, including the gruff and handsome Ben, to accompany her, she sets out across the desert in search of her father. But the desert is not kind to travelers, and not everyone will pass through alive.

Devils Unto Dust, by author Emma Berquist, is a Young Adult, Dystopian, Western standalone novel. Devils Unto Dust takes place in an alternative history reality right after the Civil War ended. Ten years ago, a disease spread across the West Texas desert and those infected – known as the Shakes – attacked the living and wreaked havoc. Parts of Texas have been cut off from the rest of the country thanks to a silver sickness. In fact, the rest of the country has pretty much left Texas to its own devices.

Protagonist Willy "Don't call me Daisy" Wilcox and her family lives in Glory, Texas behind walls that keep the residents safe from the Shakes. Willie is an amazing character. She has three siblings (Micah, Catherine & Calum) that she has taken responsibility for since her mother was infected, and her dad mailed in his responsibility for his own children's welfare. But, Willie has dreams of her own. She doesn't want to be locked up behind walls for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, life throws her a fast ball right down her strike zone.

After her father hightails it out of Glory with a whole lot of money, Willie finds herself allied with a pair of brothers who are also hunters; Curtis and Ben Garrett. Given a deadline to bring her father back or pay the cost and most likely lose everything they have left, Willie, Curtis, Ben, along with Micah, her brother, and Sam, son of the local doctor, travel across a dangerous landscape hoping to catch her father and bring him back. The author really digs deep to provide a realistic story against a harsh environment. There is also a hint of a romance, but nothing that overshadows Willie's own personal struggles.

Dust Unto Dust is a story about survival, family, and the struggle to survive against all odds. There are tense, short chapters that end on cliffhangers which propels readers from one action-packed scene to the next. Willie’s distinctive, introspective voice deepens the emotional stakes with every turn of the page. The author manages to excel at creating a realistic world (Texas) that captures the heat and dust of the Texas desert. High concept and character-driven, Emma Berquist’s debut will satisfy fans of The Magnificent Seven, Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger, and HBO’s Westworld

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday #Review - Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Lady Pirates # 1
Format: E-ARC, 239 pages
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Jennifer Ellision
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board.  That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.  Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans...  To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.  Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.  She just isn’t sure that she won’t.

Over Raging Tides is the first installment in author Jennifer Ellision's Lady Pirates series. Onboard the Lady Luck, Grace Porter is both Quartermaster and First Mate under Captain Ilene. Onboard the Lady Luck, there are no loyalties to Kings, or Queens. It is also a ship that is filled with women pirates. The twist? "No man shall board this ship." However, after stumbling upon a wrecked warship & searching for treasure, Grace makes the choice to save survivors Leo and his younger brother John from the horrible monsters known as Mordgris.

The reason? Leo claims to know the location of a magical map that is said to be omniscient. The Map of Omna is said to be able to find the precise location of every treasure, every legend, and people who have been lost. Leo believes it is a bargaining chip to keep him and his brother alive. Grace believes it is a way to find the home of the Mordgris. The same Mordgris who were responsible for taking Grace's mother away from her. Mordgris have been haunting and stalking her wearing her mother's face for years.

After spending nearly her entire life onboard, the Lady Luck, Grace may have to do some things she never thought she would do in order to discover whether or not her mother is dead or alive. She may have to break a lot of rules, betray her fellow shipmates, and break hearts to get the revenge she is hunting. She may also have to ignore warnings to stay away from the island where Mordgris call home if she wishes to live another day. 

If you haven't already figured out that the author is a huge Pirates of the Caribbean fan, well she pretty much admits it in the credits. This is not a standalone series. You have a clear cliffhanger ending that will lead into the next installment. I shall definitely recommend this story to everyone. Grace is a great lead character, and there are plenty of twists and surprises that await the reader. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday #Review - True North by L.E. Sterling #YALIT #Dystopian

Series: True Born Trilogy # 2
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian

It’s not you…it’s your DNA.

Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot.

But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

True North, by author L.E. Sterling, is the second installment in the authors True Born trilogy. The story picks up four months after the ending of True Born which introduced readers to a dystopian world where a major plague tore through the world creating three separate but unequal factions: Splicers, Lasters, and True Born. Splicers are those who are able to have DNA treatments to lengthen their lives; Lasters are those who have been infected with the plague, and whose days are numbered; True Born's are those who are not affected by the plague thanks to some evolutionary advantage.

The protagonist of the series is 18-year old Lucinda (Lucy) Fox who, last we saw her, had her world upturned and has no clue what her reveal was supposed to show her. Everyone in this world is supposed to know what they are before the age of 18. Lucy's reveal was destroyed by a radical sect of Lasters.  Lucy was born identical and conjoined with her sister Margot Fox. Margot has been missing for the past 4 months along with her parents and a Russian oligarch who wanted both sisters. Lucy and Margot have an interesting connection as well. They can both feel what the other feels.

We once again return to the fictional city of Dominion, but we won't be there the entire series. This time, the author takes Lucy for a little ride. With her world in ashes and her twin sister Margot carried off to Russia, Lucy has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of her True Born friends. But Nolan Storm, mysterious leader of the True Born's, has his own agenda: by leveraging Lucy’s connections, he intends to infiltrate the powerful Upper Circle. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands.

With the help of a new but mysterious friend, Alastair, and one spitting mad True Born bodyguard, Jared Price, who is his own world of complications; Lucy sets off for Russia, with its whispered rumors of Plague Cure and an introduction to a group known as the GILT who may have the money to remake the the world to before the plague. When Lucy and her friends arrive on the new shore, the trio discovers not all is as it appears. Things are truly bleak and it appears as though Lucy is being hunted. As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not who you are. It’s what's in your DNA.

This book is NOT a standalone. You must have some sense of where the story has been so that you can know where the author takes her characters from here. You can also expect a kind of cliffhanger ending to the story. There is lots, and lots of unanswered questions. Questions that I am hoping that the author reveals in the third and final installment called True Storm. I need to know about the attraction between Lucy and Jared. Is it animalistic, or is it really true love? Also, Alastair is a character who is very, very intriguing, but we are left with more questions than answers as to why he helps Lucy and seems to be an ally of hers. There is obviously an end game with Nolan Storm. I have some ideas, but let's see what the author has to say about it.