Friday, August 22, 2014

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Title: Mortal Danger
Author: Ann Aguirre
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Series: Immortal Game #1

Hardcover, 372 pages

Publication: August 5, 2014 by Feiwel & Friends  

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher/author in exchange for a honest review. 

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Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.
Who doesn’t like a good revenge story? While I was initially drawn in by the beautiful simplistic cover and interesting summary…Mortal Dangers’s main plot line turned out to be wholly different than what was stated in the synopsis. However, the misrepresentation of the plot turned out to be a deliciously dark surprise into the sinister world in which our main heroine Edith a.k.a. Edie has found herself in the middle of. 

As the summary stated Edie makes a deal with the devil (so to speak), where he grants her three wishes in exchange for three favors to be used for whichever he pleases at a later date. Unsurprisingly Edie’s first wish is to be beautiful. At the start of the story readers learn of Edie’s years of torment and bullying by The Beautiful People (popular kids, Teflon Crew)…bullying and tormenting for being smart and ugly…Every. Single. Day. And the only way to react revenge upon The Beautiful People is to infiltrate the group from within, which is why she asked for beauty. Many reviewers were put off by Edie’s sudden change/transformation and how once Edie was beatified everything was better for her and she got everything she wanted. I can see that. It’s true. Edie skyrocketed to being the hottest girl in school, flirtatious to the point to getting what she wanted, exuded a confidence that put her tormenters to shame, and gained a hot boyfriend all in the same day…believable? Definitely not but Edie didn’t change personality wise.

Edie might have changed her looks (she wished for an ‘ideal version’ of herself, it’s not as if she looks like a totally different person mind you) but underneath she’s still the same person, in my opinion.  Every time she spoke or did something she was terrified inside. Edie hasn’t forgotten that these are the same people that made her life a living hell but instead of staying silence she stands up for herself. Everything Edie does is a front. From the outside appearance she may seem like a superficial B- but she’s really still the same broken/scared girl. Obviously if Edie showed any vulnerability, the Teflon Crew will swarm her like a shark at the sight of a drop of blood. For the most part I like Edie. Again, in my opinion she stayed true to who she was except now she had beauty and brains. I loved that she still did well in school maintaining her A+ status and that she enjoyed reading and watching horrible Science Fiction movies like Sharknado.

While the summary promised sweet revenge, there wasn’t much of it…at least not intentionally by Edie’s hands. Edie was hell-bent on bringing down the Teflon Crew but in the process of it she got to know her tormentors. What she finds is that behind the beauty and popularity they’re just your average high school students and that she could even relate to a couple of them. One by one the Telfon Crew begins to drop like flies and you’d think Edie would be happy that she’s getting what she always wanted but instead she starts to feel guilty. While I don’t want to spoil the main plot for anyone, there’s a bigger picture in the scheme of things regarding Edie. When Edie made the deal she thought it couldn’t be as bad since she was planning to end her life anyways but really the future and the lives of her family and friends depended on her making the deal. A future that the immortals Gods and Nightmares you dream about will do everything it takes to ensure it happens…and Edie is the key. Edie is The Queen in the ‘game’ of chess that she didn’t know she was playing till it was too late.

The paranormal/magic aspect of the book wasn’t as fleshed out as I liked. The author used a lot of urban legend/myths in regards to the scary monsters that lurked in the shadows, many of which were unknown to me. The only one I knew was Bloody Mary (horrible, I know lol). While I found the overall world building structure lacking and vague the author made up for it in hitting all the points in creeping me out! From the description of Mary in the Mirror, the bag man and two blood splattered children outside her window to Brittany and her deteriorating face was enough to give me goosebumps and the shivers. While I don’t often get scared, I wouldn’t recommend reading this a night like I did. Creeeeppppy. 

Overall I really enjoyed Mortal Danger and I’m looking forward to seeing where Aguirre takes this trilogy. I highly recommend this series to other YA lovers and those who are already familiar with Aguirre work. I’ve read both of Aguirre’s adult series, and I can say this YA series is just as good. There are quite a lot of reviewers on opposite camps regarding this book; they either loved it or hated it. I suggest readers that are interested in trying this book to download the first 5 chapters (FREE) to see if they like it. Although, the plot doesn’t truly get interesting till the halfway point. Mortal Danger isn’t about a girl going from an ugly duckling to a swan overnight and getting what she wants…it’s so much more than that. Mortal Danger not only touches on the enigma of beauty in this day and age but also subject of suicide. Aguirre did an excellent job incorporating this important topic in her story, I thought it was well done and written. (Be sure to check out the Author's Note at the end of the book, in which she talks about how this book hits close to home.)


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mystery Box Giveaway


It's that time again to give away some books! The mystery box of books contains used books (great condition, like-new) and ARCs.The books are a mixture of Adult and Young Adult books...but probably more YA.

*As previous winners can vouch, it is a big box! :)*




US only (sorry!), please fill out the Rafflecopter below!
Giveaway ends 8/28/14 11:59 PST


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Free Agent by J.C. Nelson

Title: Free Agent
Author: J.C. Nelson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Grimm Agency #1

Mass Market Paperback, 294 pages
Publication: July 29, 2014 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

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When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending.


Free Agent jumped on my radar months ago. I haven’t read any Urban Fantasies that tackled classic fairy-tales and was curious how it would be. The beginning of the book was kind of hard getting into; it was so different from the usual types of Urban Fantasies I read. It had a lot going on and if I had to describe this book in one word it’d be wacky. However, being wacky was a good thing! After a few chapters, I found myself immersed in Marissa’s world where the only currency that matters is glitter (Yes, you read that right) and High Kingdom/Low Kingdom is superimposed over our world, and only those with magic can enter…or in Marissa’s case a special bracelet from her boss Grimm, The Fairy Godfather. Marissa is Grimm’s agent; she works the odd jobs from disposing an imp to being the ‘wrong girl’ (to know what I mean, you got to read the book!) hoping to pay off her parent’s debt.

It took a few chapters for me to get invested into the story and in our main heroine and narrator, Marissa.  I’ll admit I wasn’t so keen with the world building, everything I read seemed so comical from the glitter currency, Marissa dressing up in a red cape and using pigs to barter with the wolves, to matching a prince and princess for a HEA ending. But I was so wrong. Nelson actually made everything work, and no sooner I found myself unable to put down the book. Even when I did put it down, my mind kept going back to the book desperate to find out what will happen next. I ended up enjoying Free Agent more than I expected. The world that Nelson created is so unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read; with all the fairy-tales you can think of incorporated but with Nelson adding his own personal spin on it.

I really like the main character Marissa. She’s been barter by her parents at the age of 16 in exchange to help save her little sister Hope’s life and you’d think anyone being an indenture servant/agent would have a crummy attitude or outlook on life but Marissa takes everything in great strides. Marissa is only human, relying on magical gadgets and potions to get the job done but what she lacks in magic/power she makes up for in personality and heart. Another character that stood out from the crowd was Princess Arianna (Ari) who happens to be one of the agency’s clients in search of a Prince. Most of the Prince and Princess are described as ridiculously good-looking and of course stuck-up but Ari is the complete opposite. Ari is seen as an underdog and second string princess at the start of the book but progressed greatly into her own person who was strong and independent by the end of the book. 

Free Agent is an exciting action packed debut that will have you up till the early morning and laughing out loud till your inside hurts. I love everything about this new series. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something creative, fresh and unique. Free Agent is a boat load of fun with plenty of snarky dialogue to boot. I’m already looking forward to the sequel, Armageddon Rules which comes out next February.  I’m already counting down the days…a little under 7 more months to go! LOL.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Premonitions by Jamie Schultz

Title: Premonitions
Author: Jamie Schultz
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Premonitions #1 

Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Publication: July1, 2014 by Roc

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review. 

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TWO MILLION DOLLARS...

It’s the kind of score Karyn Ames has always dreamed of—enough to set her crew up pretty well and, more important, enough to keep her safely stocked on a very rare, very expensive black market drug. Without it, Karyn hallucinates slices of the future until they totally overwhelm her, leaving her unable to distinguish the present from the mess of certainties and possibilities yet to come.

The client behind the heist is Enoch Sobell, a notorious crime lord with a reputation for being ruthless and exacting—and a purported practitioner of dark magic. Sobell is almost certainly condemned to Hell for a magically extended lifetime full of shady dealings. Once you’re in business with him, there’s no backing out.

Karyn and her associates are used to the supernatural and the occult, but their target is more than just the usual family heirloom or cursed necklace. It’s a piece of something larger. Something sinister.

Karyn’s crew, and even Sobell himself, are about to find out just how powerful it is… and how powerful it may yet become.


Premonitions was a pleasant surprise, part Thriller-part Urban Fantasy but way darker and grislier than I expected. I loved it all. 

The book opens on a suspenseful note as Karyn and her crew does a B&E to retrieve an artifact of supposed power for a client. Karyn and her team are notorious in retrieving/stealing. There aren’t any locks or security they can’t bypass as Karyn is some sort of oracle, Johnny dabbles in the dark arts, and Nail and Anna are the brain and brawns of the operation. Premonitions is narrated by various POVs from Karyn’s crew to crime lord Mr. Sobell to zealous cult members.The multiple third person POVs was a little confusing at first because the narrative would some time jump mid paragraph and it was hard to differeciate who was speaking but after a few chapters I got used to it. 

I really like the cast of characters. They’re not your typical UF heroines, heroes, or villain. Everyone is motivated by different reasons for being in the type of business that they’re in. I like that they’re flawed characters, aren’t apologetic (much) for their actions and basically as real as it gets. There’s also no specific bad guys or good guys in this book, which is refreshing…well there are some characters that I’d say are more shady than the other but again everyone isn’t perfect and the world they  inhabit isn’t any better.  Another great thing about this UF is that there aren’t any werewolves, vampires, fairies, or shifters lurking about. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all but it’s nice to change it up once in awhile. The book has some demons being summoned and regular folks practicing black magic. What’s Interesting about practicing black magic is that if the person is using too much, it not only eats away at one’s soul but eventually a person becomes vulnerable to possession by a demon. 


The overall characters development wasn’t as strong as I’d like since readers are getting multiple characters POV and the magic system isn’t fully explained (at least I don’t think so); but I hope with a sequel the author will divulge more into the characters and world-building. Other than that the pacing was great, a lot of actions and suspense. Again, I’d remind the readers that the author is very detailed when it comes to describing the gory bits…definitely not for those who are squeamish. Lastly, if anyone was looking for some sort of romance in this book, look elsewhere. Premonitions is all about the main plot, and introducing us to the world and characters. There is a romantic connection between Anna and another of Sobell’s contractor but its plays a very very small role in the book. 

Premonitions is a great start to a new Urban Fantasy by Schultz. I highly recommend this to UF and Horror fans. If you’re looking for a new and refreshing Urban Fantasy, definitely check out this debut! I’m already looking forward to the next book! 

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Title: Midnight Thief
Author: Livia Blackburne
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Midnight Thief #1 

Hardcover, 368 pages

Publication: July 8, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.


When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

 
First off, look at that cover.  How gorgeous is that cover right?! I immediately fell in love with it when I first saw it…its simple yet eye-catching. And the synopsis was just as intriguing and promised a heck of an adventure. 


Midnight Thief is the first book in a planned series about a 16-year-old street smart girl who robs the rich to support her adopted family and herself. The book is centered on three characters; Kyra the stealthy thief, Tristam a promising knight of Forge and James the calculating and ruthless leader of a band of assassin. Kyra is a pro at what she does. She’s able to climb and navigate at heights no regular person would dare to attempt and it makes her a worthy ally in James’s eyes, leader of the Assassin Guild.  James makes Kyra an offer she can’t refuse, where she wouldn’t have to take dead-end jobs for a couple of coins as she not only supports herself but two other street kids. Then we have Tristam, a knight on a mission of his own to find the woman who killed his partner. The three lives’ gets intertwine when a group of demon cats raid Forge, and the line between foes and friends blur…people aren’t who they appear to be and Kyra is in for a rude awakening. 

The book is narrated in third person point-of-view alternating between Kyra and Tristam. I really like Kyra, she’s intelligent, strong but isn’t afraid to show a vulnerable side, and overall a survivor (lived on the streets since she was 8/9 years-old). Kyra is down to earth/real, never pretending to be anything but herself…and I love that about her. For example, James gave Kyra an assassination mission that will make or break her position in the Guild. Kyra wasn’t happy with the assignment and in the end refused to go through with it because she felt like the Guild was turning her into someone who she doesn’t want to be and she didn’t want to lose sight of who she is…even if it means endangering people she loves. 

Tristam and James are also great supporting male characters who both play an important role in the story and the reason behind some of the actions and choices Kyra makes. As you can already figure out from the synopsis/ and my second paragraph; Tristam helps Kyra make the right choices while James pushes Kyra into making bad choices. 

I was captivated from the first sentence. Midnight Thief was exactly what was promised in the synopsis and so much more. I love the characters and the overall plot as it kept me on the edge of my seat and flipping the pages till the very end. The pacing was pretty constant throughout, there was never a dull moment or any scenes that I felt were unnecessary or filler. The book was beautifully well written and loaded with twist and turns that I never saw coming. The big reveal midway through was just that…a shocker, I definitely didn’t see that coming a mile away! But it was a good shocker which added another layer to the world-building. 

Midnight Thief was a great introduction to Mrs. Blackburne’s work and what I’m sure will be the next big fantasy series. I truly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to more of Blackburne's work. I can’t wait for the sequel! I highly recommend this to all Young Adult, Fantasy fans…and maybe even the paranormal lovers…this book had a little bit of everything; mystery, action, a little romance, suspense, magic and political intrigue.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

Title: The Thousand Names
Author: Django Wexler
Genre: Military Fantasy
Series: The Shadow Campaigns #1

Hardcover, 528 pages
Publication: July 2, 2013 by Roc

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.  

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|


Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.

The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.


The Thousand Names by Django Wexler is the first in a military-fantasy series. This was my first introduction to military fantasy as well as to Wexler’s work (as I know he also has a middle grade fantasy series, which I plan on checking out). To be honest, I’m more of a fantasy gal and The Thousand Names was more military than fantasy. The fantasy aspect didn’t truly take root till the last third of the book. However, I found myself enamored by the amazing world and characters Wexler has created and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the novel regardless of the subtle fantasy elements.
 
The Thousand Names takes place during the Napoleonic period, full of military protocols and lingos and spectacular detailed battle scenes. Wexler did an amazing job of creating a believable setting in which the Vordanai Colonials make a trek across the Khandarai desert to fight religious zealous rebels. I love the battles scenes, especially when we see the Vordanais out-smart the rebels since the odds weren’t  in their favor with the rebels outnumbering the Colonials 10 to 1. The military aspects of the novel was pretty straight forward but there is still a lot to see of the magic system as it makes a steady appearance here and there and a big part in the final battle of the book. The book makes up mostly of regular soldiers, but there are a few gifted with naath, a special ability. Readers’ gets a preview in the prologue of a sorcerer working his magic but it isn’t till the final battle that we see what some people with naath are really cable of…and believe me it is awesome. 

Beside all the military goodness, the best part of the book is definitely the characters. The book is told in dual POV between Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Ranker Winter Ihernglass with the occasional POV of (a few times) Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich. Marcus is one who always follows the rules and sees things plainly as black or white. I really like his character, an all around good/decent man who just wants to do right by his battalion. Although his beliefs gets upturn with the arrival of his new Colonel Janus, who is a peculiar man, who does things as he sees fit…but is still fair. I enjoyed both of the main narritative but I found myself looking forward to reading more of Winter’s. Winter is also another good soldier­­ who is a quick thinker, light on her (She, yes a SHE disguised as a man to be enlisted) feet and is always the first person to save the day when a crisis ensues. Winter is full of surprises and I love watching her character grow (not only in terms of job title) over the course of the book. There are many other great male and female characters that were all equally intriguing. This is by far the best group of complex, realistic characters I’ve read in a long time, and I loved reading about each and every one of them. Wexler spent a great deal creating every individual character and it shows. Every character is unique and fully realize, down to the secondary and tertiary characters. 

The Thousand Names was an excellent start to what I’m sure will be a great series. I highly recommend this book to those who love characters driven novel, fully realized world and stunning battles/actions. I can’t wait to read the next book. Give this book a chance, it might surprise you and open a door to another subgenre you’d never thought of trying…I know it did that for me. I definitely will be checking out more of the Flintlock fantasy genre.