Saturday, March 17, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves #276 - Week Ending 03/17/2018

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!
Some very curious titles this week. First three are borrowed from my neighborhood library, the next five were approved via NetGalley, and 1 surprise from Edelweiss. I love surprises, don't you?
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - The Knowing by Sharon Cameron (YA, SyFy)

Tuesday - Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - The Carnelian Crow by Colleen Gleason (YA, Mystery)

Thursday - The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco (YA, Fantasy)

 Friday - Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D VIA Library, NetGalley, Edelweiss*

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday #Review - Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: Falling Kingdoms (#6)
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

The Falling Kingdoms series by New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes comes to a thrilling conclusion.

As two lethal elemental gods set out to destroy Mytica, sworn enemies must become allies in the final fight to save the kingdoms.

Jonas continues to willfully defy his destiny, but the consequences of plotting his own course are drastic. As the fight for Mytica rages on, he must decide just how much more he’s willing to sacrifice.

Lucia knows there’s something special about her daughter and she’ll do anything to protect her, even if that means facing Kyan alone.

Amara is called back home to Kraeshia. Grandma Cortas has her own plans for Mytica’s future. She promises Amara power, revenge, and dominance if she agrees to be part of her scheme.

Magnus and Cleo’s love will be put to the ultimate test. Dark magic is causing widespread destruction throughout the kingdom. Enemies across the sea are advancing. And unrest is stirring throughout the land. Is their love strong enough to withstand the outside forces tearing them apart?

Immortal Reign is the sixth and final installment in Morgan Rhodes Falling Kingdoms series. Immortal Reign includes Easter eggs and teasers to The Cursed Heir, the last book in the Spirits and Thieves trilogy. But, enough of that for now. This is a series that takes place in the fantastical land of Mytica where there were once three separate countries; Limeros, Paelisa, & Auranos. Mytica has a new ruler and her name is Amara Cortas from the land known as Kraeshia. If you haven't read the previous installments, please do so. There has been so much that has happened that if you missed the previous stories, you won't understand the characters, & you will also miss out on the fantastic worldbuilding, worthy main and secondary characters, and brilliant villains of which there has been more than a few. 

The story picks up right where Crystal Storm left off. The Kindred have claimed the bodies of Cleo, Nic, Olivia, and Taran while Magnus is in a very dark place not of his own choosing this time. Where Olivia and Nic were completely under the influence of the Kindred that ‘possessed’ them, Cleo and Taran were not, and still had command of their bodies. Let's talk about each of the individual characters that Morgan uses to tell her final story in what has been an exciting and twisted series filled with magic, death, betrayal, romance, immortal elementals, and curious couplings. Our main characters are: Prince Magnus, Princess Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and the before mentioned Amara. As the story opens, readers also get an introduction to yet another character who you will hopefully know who she is since she's kind of a big deal. 

In Paelsia, Jonas Agallon & Lucia Damora are traveling together after she survived what she wasn't supposed to survive. Lucia has gained something pretty powerful, a baby, that may be even more powerful than she is. Lucia & Jonas try to make their way back to Lucia's family not knowing what has happened to Magnus or the others. They have no idea that all four Kindred Gods have been released from their prisons. This is an interesting partnership which pretty much stays the course with a few bumps along the way. Lucia, who wasn't exactly one of my favorite characters after she ran off and got herself into deep kimchee, now has a huge decision and a course of action that will take her towards her supposed fate and prophecy. She still isn't my favorite character because she continues to make awful choices right to the very ending of the series. Meanwhile, Jonas was given a gift, and has grown tremendously over the course of this series. He's still not the rebel that he once was, and he has issues that linger every now and then.

Cleiona (Cleo) Bellos has a huge issue to deal with. She is now sharing her body with an elemental that will push and pull her the entire way. Yet, she is also strong and refuses to give in to anyone's threats, or intimidation, including Kyan, the Kindred Fire Elemental. If she loses herself, she wants to go out in her own way just like she has tried to grind a path from being without a family, married to a man she despised, only to find someone who really cares for her in return. When it comes to the ending of this story, I was absolutely floored, and no I will not spoil it for you. 

"Whatever happens - you and me are together forever. All right?"  

Once we get finally get through Jonah, Lucia, Amara, and Cleo's first appearances in the story, we find Magnus Damora is a precarious situation. Magnus hasn't always been my favorite character, but man does he really have an interesting storyline. He has been involved in some of the worst decisions of any character, outside of Jonas and Lucia. But, his one concern is actually the most heart warming. He really, honestly cares about Cleo, and she has found that he isn't who she thought he was. If you think your family has issues, you can't hold a match to Magnus and Lucia's. 

The least likable character in this book is Amara. To me, her solo storyline wasn't even remotely entertaining until later in the book when she returns home to face her impending rise to becoming Empress of Kraeshia. Then, to top things off, the author decides to reveal yet another curious coupling for which I won't spoil, but if you have read the series to this point, you can probably guess who the character is. 

So, in conclusion, yes I will recommend this series to readers who are looking for a series with great world building, fantastic characters, including secondary characters like Nic, Nerissa, Ashur, and Felix. It also has the most interesting villains you will find anywhere. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

ARC #Review - The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: The Bone Witch # 2
Format: ARC, 528 pages
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

In this dark, engrossing sequel to The Bone Witch, Tea has mastered resurrection—now it’s time for revenge 

Tea, a bone witch who can resurrect the dead, is done with her self-imposed exile. She now possesses all seven bezoars she needs to revive the powerful daeva. With the help of these terrible monsters, she can finally enact her revenge against the royals who wronged her and took the life of her one true love.

Alliances and allegiances are shifting, and danger lurks in and out of the kingdom. But Tea's heart is set on vengeance, even if it turns her against her now-estranged brother, who supports her enemies. War is brewing, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

The Heart Forger is the second installment in author Rin Chupeco's The Bone Witch series. Rin Chupeco returns to the atmospheric and enchanting fantasy world she created that follows in the footsteps of the series starter, The Bone Witch. This captivating fantasy series features Persian and Asian influences, while focusing on witches, curses, and resurrection. The author once again explores protagonist Tea Pahlavi's past and present by alternating each chapter. While this can be confusing, there is the fact that Tea's future is told by a Bard, and not Tea herself.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family and other Asha as well. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch who is feared and ostracized in the kingdom because she may be the strongest Bone Witch to come along. Bone Witches are powerful. They have access to elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human realm. Tea's past slowly proceeds forward from where we left her in the first installment. 

We are nearly to the point where readers will finally discover why Tea was exiled from her friends, and her family, and has declared war on those responsible. We are also at the point where War is looming on the horizon, and there is a good chance it will spread out of control unless Tea can find the last of her enemies and pay them back for what they did to her. In the meantime, our fearless Bard has traveled a long way to discover Tea of the Embers and tell her remarkable story.

What he has found so far, is a powerful young woman on the brink of doing something either extraordinary brave, or remarkably stupid. She will either survive to have her revenge on her betrayers and the Faceless, or go down in flames in the most public way possible. Bard is in the forefront of everything that happens in the present to Asha, and her few allies who have struck around. He witnesses great betrayal, strange beasts, Asha who are attempting to stop Tea in her tracks, and a love affair between Tea and a Death seeker who was brought back from the dead. TMI?

One of the more curious aspects of this series is the use of Heartglass which can be forged by Heartforgers using the memories from a select variety of people, including Tea. In this case, Prince Khalid, the older son of the King, has the heartforging capability which is definitely needed in this story. In fact, I dare say that he is as important to this story as Tea, or Fox, or anyone else for that matter. Once again, the ending of the book damn near killed me. We get through a bunch of trials and tribulations while learning about Tea's banishment and then we are hit upside the head with a two ton heavy brick because now we have to wait an entire year to find out what the author has up her sleeve for Tea, Khalad, Fox, and Kalen.

Would I recommend this story & series? Yes, I would. First of all, I adore the Bard. He isn't the bravest person in this world, but his presence and his ability to tell Tea without learning too far in calling her a villain, or a hero, is remarkable. I adore the romance between Tea and another character I won't spoil. The odd mixture of past and present actually works for me and that in itself added another plus to my rating. I am still rooting for Tea to get her happy ending even with all that has happened. Has to be said, this story blew the first installment away. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday #Review - The Carnelian Crow by Colleen Gleason #YALIT #Mystery

Series: Stoker & Holmes # 4
Format: Hardcover, 282 pages
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery

Ever since the debacle of the Chess Queen Enigma, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker have laid low, trying to settle back into their quiet lives as young ladies of London. But the Holmesian deductive abilities won't remain dormant for long, and when Mina receives a strange package from a winged, midnight visitor, she is catapulted into a new, dangerous adventure: the search for The Carnelian Crow.

Meanwhile, Evaline has received some very disturbing news--news that will change her life forever. Along with that unpleasant knowledge is the strange disappearance of her nemesis, the disreputable pickpocket Pix.

When it becomes clear the arch-villainess the Ankh has made her next move, it will take all of Mina's Holmesian ingenuity and Evaline's courage and determination to stop the criminal from executing her boldest and most dangerous plan yet!

The Carnelian Crow is the fourth installment in author Colleen Gleason's Stoker and Holmes series. This series features Mina Holmes, niece of Sherlock Holmes, and Evalina Stoker, great-granddaughter of Victoria Gardella (who you can read about in the Gardella Vampire Hunters series). Ever since the fiasco of The Chess Queen Enigma, Mina has been itching for a fight. She has spent the past 8 weeks in limbo without having her mentor, Irene Adler, give her and her supposed partner Evalina any cases to attempt to solve for Queen and country. 

If you are a regular reader of this series, you know that there was a brilliant move by Mina's adversary known as the Ankh that led to a checkmate movement that led to the current state of Mina and Evie's discontent. Mina has some idea of who her nemesis is, but it is all about putting the puzzle pieces together and trying to redeem herself against someone who is 10 paces ahead her in brilliance and machinations. To top things off, Mina gets a visit from a strange crow which leads her to investigation The Carnelian Crow. Which also leads to a curious partnership with Inspector Ambrose Grayling of Scotland Yard.

Meanwhile, Evalina has been skulking around the underground hunting for vampires who have suddenly gotten a whole lot braver in returning to London after Victoria sent them all fleeing years ago. It has also been 2 months since she has seen the rogue Pix. Pix gave her a vampire hunting crossbow the last time he saw her. On the other side of things, Evalina is thrown for a loop after her sister-in-law Florence tells her that they are broke and that she needs to find someone well off in order to marry. The choices become move to Ireland, or put Florence and Bram's future on a girls shoulders who had nothing whatsoever to do with their misfortunes.

What's curious about this story is the relationships. Mina with Inspector Grayling who gets fully involved in the story itself, and Evalina with Pix, while also being courted by a man who has more money that Bill Gates circa 1889. I have to say that I didn't miss Dylan Eckert, the time traveler from 2016, all that much. In fact, I loved the snark, and slow burn romance that develops between Mina and Grayling. Were to make my choice, it would definitely be Grayling for Mina. 

As for Evie, I absolutely feel bad for her. I absolutely hate the 19th century where women were expected to give up their freedoms and get married where they have zero control over their lives, their money, or their fates. For Evie, that's a hard pill to swallow since she is a trained Venator just like Victoria was. I truly do want to see how Gleason resolves this particular issue. I truly do want to see how Gleason also resolves the issue between Mina, Evalina and the Ankh who is pure brilliance as a villain. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, of course. I am a little woozy in my actual rating because there was a bit too much turbulence in the partnership between Mina and Evalina. At times, Mina overwhelms the story by not taking Evalina seriously. I love the alternate Victorian feeling of the story with really interesting steampunk driven devices. Plus, the book ends on a punch to the throat cliffhanger ending which leads to the 5th and final installment in the series.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

ARC #Review - Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: Of Fire and Stars #0.5
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

A romantic and thrilling YA fantasy from Audrey Coulthurst, the author of Of Fire and Stars, about a demigoddess with the power to change the future—but when her powers go dangerously wrong, she must do whatever she can to protect her world …and stop the girl she loves from destroying it. Perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Rae Carson.
Asra is a demigoddess with a dangerous gift: the ability to dictate the future by writing in her blood. To keep her power secret, she leads a quiet life as a healer on a remote mountain, content to help the people in her care and spend time with Ina, the mortal girl she loves.
But Asra’s peaceful life is upended when bandits threaten Ina’s village and the king does nothing to help. Desperate to protect her people, Ina begs Asra for assistance finding her manifest—the animal she’ll be able to change into as her rite of passage to adulthood. Asra uses her blood magic to help Ina, but her spell goes horribly wrong and the bandits destroy the village, killing Ina’s family.
Unaware that Asra is at fault, Ina swears revenge on the king and takes a savage dragon as her manifest. To stop her, Asra must embark on a journey across the kingdom, becoming a player in lethal games of power among assassins, gods, and even the king himself. Most frightening of all, she discovers the dark secrets of her own mysterious history—and the terrible, powerful legacy she carries in her blood.

Inkmistress, by author Audrey Coulthurst, is the companion novel to the Of Fire and Stars series. Inkmistress is set in the same world as Of Fire and Stars, but a few hundred years earlier. Asra is the protagonist of Inkmistress. She is a demigod who has the ability to sense the life force in everything. She lives a life of seclusion in the mountains above Karthasha, but uses her blood to add to tinctures that help the village survive. She also has the ability to use blood magic.

Asra has the power to change the future and the past with her blood. Yet, at a cost. To be able to wield such power, it takes from her lifeforce and ages her. In this world, people come into adulthood when they are able to manifest, or bond with an animal by being blessed by the six gods that truly do control this world. Asa is also in love with a girl named Invasya (Ina) who yearns to not only manifest, but also to become an elder. When marauders threaten her village, and the King refuses to send help, Ina asks Asa to help her find a way to manifest.

After breaking her vow to never write with her blood, Asa does so because she truly believes she is being helpful and besides, she is in love and doesn't believe anyone would truly use her ability against her. What happens next is not going to be spoiled by me. What happens next is betrayal, a journey cross country that leads to an encounter with Phaldon (Hal) who is also a demigod. It also leads to Asa being hounded and chased by people who have been told about her bloodscribe ability and believe it is the key to removing the King from his throne.

Asra is a character who I can emphasize with. She genuinely cares about people, and of by the way, she is also bisexual which is somewhat of a rarity in the YA genre. Asra is somewhat naive, and a good portion of the story is her coming to understand her own value and trying to figure out who to trust and how much and making up for creating a literal monster with her blood. She makes a lot of mistakes in this regard, especially when it comes to both Ina and Hal and those who are more worldly and haven't been cooped up in a mountain while being raised by a witch not knowing who her parents really were or why she was left to be raised by someone else.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. Even though you see a 3.5 rating, it could easily be a 4 star rating. I don't like forgiving others who stab you in the back, and then betray you. This happened often enough to make me scream in agony. I realize Asra is a naive character compared to the others, but there are times you can be too trusting for your own good. Alas, my final concern was how abrupt the ending was. But, don't let my concern keep you from reading this story. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday #Review - The Knowing by Sharon Cameron #YALIT #SyFy

Series: The Forgetting # 2
Format: E-Book, 448 pages
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

Sharon Cameron returns to the rich world of The Forgetting with a companion novel as thrilling and intricately crafted as the first. 
Samara is one of the Knowing, and the Knowing do not forget. Hidden deep in the comfort and splendor of her underground city, a refuge from the menace of a coming Earth, Samara learns what she should have never known and creates a memory so terrible she cannot live with it. So she flees, to Canaan, the lost city of her ancestors, to Forget.
Beckett has flown through the stars to find a dream: Canaan, the most infamous social experiment of Earth's antiquity. Beckett finds Samara in the ruins of the lost city, and uncovers so much more than he ever bargained for -- a challenge to all he's ever believed in or sworn to. When planets collide and memories clash, can Samara and Beckett save two worlds, and remember love in a place that has forgotten it?
At once thought-provoking and utterly thrilling, this extraordinary companion novel to Sharon Cameron's #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling THE FORGETTING explores the truth and loss that lie within memory, and the bonds that hold us together

The Knowing, by author Sharon Cameron, is the companion novel to the original The Forgetting. The story actually takes place a hundred years after the original story. It features Samara Archiva and Beckett Rodriguez which means the story alternates between characters. Samara doesn't forget anything, nor does she have to write anything down to remember it like Nadia was told to do. And she isn't the only one. Safe underground in the city of New Canaan, she lives in a privileged world free from the Forgetting.

Yet she wonders if she really is free, with the memories that plague her and secrets that surround her. Samara is determined to unearth the answers, even if she must escape to the old, cursed city of Canaan to find them. Meanwhile, there is a spaceship on the way to Canaan from Earth searching for those who came before them and searching for answers. Beck is traveling with his parents, researchers tasked with finding the abandoned settlement effort. When Beck is stranded without communication, he will find more in Canaan than he was ever trained for.

What will happen when worlds and memories, beliefs -- and truths -- collide? For Samara, this is what's called her 12th year. This year she faces Judgment by the Council. Council weights accumulated sins and deems a person worthy or unworthy. The unworthy are condemned. After seeing a friend of hers fall to her death, and another poisoned, Sam flees for the place called the cursed city. This is where Sam runs into Beck and a girl named Jillian who are among those from Earth searching for the lost ship called Centauri II, and it's crew. 

This is not a rarity. Each time a ship arrives on planet, it has a tendency of disappearing. On this planet, Earth is the enemy and so is there technology. If you've read The Forgetting, then you understand why the Knowing fears it so much. Where the Knowing remember everything they've learned, The Forgetting lose themselves and their memories. If you are looking for a repeat of Nadia and Gray, it's not happening. In fact, since this story takes place 100 years after the end of their story, the only ones to still be alive would have to be the descendents of Nadia and Gray.

As for the romance angle, Beck and Sam have what's definitely called an uneasy alliance. Beck wants to know what happened to those who came before him, while Sam is searching for answers in how to stop Knowing everything that she's ever done. Each character is fine on their own. Together they bring an interesting dynamic that really looks into the idea of memories and how they make us who we are. Beck's problems are because of his own people, and a commander who has her own agenda.

One could say the same thing for Sam. Sam's own people, including a secretive group, pretty much run everything. They've been keeping an eye on Sam, and know that she's done things that could get her condemned. They are against keeping any forms of records, and have done away with keeping archives. The Knowing are encouraged to cache their memories, which is an interesting idea in itself. Instead of reliving bad memories over and over again, you can just store them away. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, although I had a minor issue with getting going. The opening sequences of this book are really slow and you really have to pay attention to certain Easter eggs the author lays at your feet to understand what is happening and why. Do you have to read the Forgetting first? Nah. This book can definitely be read as a standalone. However, I definitely recommend that you do read The Forgetting to learn about the dreaded occurrence that happens to people. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves # 275 - Week Ending 03/10/2018

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 week I am summarizing the past several weeks since I last posted a Staking the Shelves post. I have to say, I adore my local library. If I ever had to move anywhere else, I would probably cry. They always respond to my request for purchase suggestions in a timely manner one way or the other. Most of the times, they approve the request. I thank you all for your continued support and comments!

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - If I Live by Terri Blackstock (Suspense)

Tuesday - Tricks for Free by Seanan McGuire (Paranormal)

Thursday - To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (YA, Fantasy)

 Friday - The Wicked Deep by Shea Emshaw (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - The Hunger by Alma Katsu (Historical Fiction)

*REC'D VIA Library & NetGalley*