Tuesday, June 30, 2015

[Early Review] Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: The Great Library #1

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publication: July 7, 2015 by NAL

Source: I received a review copy form the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Pre-Order|Amazon|B&N|

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…
Have you ever wondered what it’s like if the Library of Alexandria was still around and was a great power today? Imagine a library with so much control, that they determined what information and knowledge was for public consumption. And the unthinkable, that it was illegal to own physical, original printed books. Well, that is exactly what Ink and Bone is…in a nutshell.

The year is 2031 and it is illegal to own books. Instead, the public is all given ‘blanks’ a book with exactly that, blank pages that are filled with texts using alchemy. With the outlawing of original book possession, it has become an expensive commodity thus the upsurge of the black market for it; which brings us to our main character, Jess Brightwell a 16-year-old runner A.K.A book smuggler. Jess has been running books since he was 10, and now at the age of 16 his father think his usefulness to the family has come to an end and the only way he can still be beneficial to the family is if he gets a job…inside the Great Library of Alexandria. After taking a test, Jess wins a spot to be among the 30 candidates to fill 1 of 6 library positions. In order to snag an once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity, Jess and the other contenders are given a series of test and missions till the numbers dwindles down. It is during his teaching and training that Jess finds himself conflicted between his family and his love of books and that the Library of Alexandria isn’t as altruistic and magnanimous as it seems.

This is my first Caine book, and all I can really say is WOW. The book design, the title, the setting, the story, the characters...are all just perfect. When I first read the synopsis, I knew I had to read this book. But I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. The idea is very unique and nothing like anything I’ve ever read before and it just blew me away at how utterly amazing it was! There were so many things to love about the world building; from the concept of blanks and alchemy, a codex in which all citizen are ‘encouraged’ to write in daily to document their every waking moment so that they’re immortalized when they past and their codex are housed within the library, a resistance group dubbed burners because they make it their mission to burn originals…I can go on and on. Then there’s the location, how cool is it that it’s set in Egypt of all places?! And in a Library! This is a book lover’s dream come true…this book! Caine did an excellent job at describing the hot and humid landscape of Egypt and the lush details of what the Library of Alexandria might have look like with its many rooms and hidden chambers. I was enchanted with it all.

On top of all that awesomeness we have going on, there are the characters. Jess is a great main protagonist; I was instantly drawn to Jess when readers first meet 10-year-old Jess running through the streets of London smuggling the most important book in the world. Jess is pragmatic, clever, honest and a leader sort of veiled as an underdog. That last bit might sounds weird or confusing but that’s the best I can describe Jess. What I mean is, anyone can see early on that Jess comes from the poorer side of London. The test needed to get to the Library of Alexandria is usually only possible for the upper-class rich folks but then again Jess’s father own the territory on book smuggling….so it definitely didn’t come cheap in securing him a test spot. And comparing Jess to his fellow postulates he was seriously lacking in the hierarchy and education department. While he was being groomed in the family business, other kids were getting prepared for a position in the library. But like I said, Jess may be lacking in status but he’s a natural born leader, which will become more evident as he progresses through the library-life challenges. As Jess learns the way of the library, the truth about the library, and the misconception about Burners; he begins to question everything he thought he knew…and readers will see his character develop greatly by the end of the book. Then there’s the supporting cast. Jess is surrounded by very strong and fully fleshed out characters that made lasting impressions from: Khalila, an intelligent poised girl that has a making of a Scholar, Glain whom I’d call G.I. Jane, Dario the obnoxious roommate, Thomas the gentle giant, Morgan the mysterious, and my most favorite character of all, Proctor Wolfe whom is always dour and oh, so misunderstood. I don’t want to say too much about Wolfe but he was constantly surprising me throughout the book and the ending revelation…was like whoa, that's his family!

I’ve mentioned this before; those that follow the blog know how picky I am when it comes to the YA genre. I don’t read many YA for that reason, and if you noticed, only 25% of the books I review are YA. I’m very selective when I choose to read/review a Young Adult book. So, it is with great pleasure to say that my expectations of Ink and Bone were beyond exceeded. Ink and Bone is by far the best Young Adult novel I’ve read all year and the most imaginative YA I’ve read in a very, very long time. I wasn’t a fan of Caine before, but after Ink and Bone…I absolutely am now and will be checking her back-list! I highly recommend this book to everyone…all you book lovers out there; you need to pre-order this book A.S.A.P! I ‘m already dying for the next book…and this book isn’t even out yet! Read it, you won’t regret it!



Friday, June 26, 2015

The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen by R.T. Lowe

Title: Freshmen
Author: R.T. Lowe
Genre: New-Adult, Fantasy
Series: The Felix Chronicles #1

Trade Paperback, 500 pages
Publication: May 20, 2015 by Createspace

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

Buy|Amazon|

Reeling from a terrible accident that claimed the lives of his parents, Felix arrives at Portland College hoping only to survive the experience. In time, however, his reality star roommate shows him there is more to higher education than just classes, shared bathrooms and bad dorm food, and Felix gradually dares to believe he can put his past behind him. But a fateful storm looms on the horizon: In the nearby woods, two hikers become the latest victims in a series of gruesome murders; a disfigured giant embarks on a vicious cross-country rampage, killing teenagers who fail his 'test'; and an ancient society of assassins tasked with eradicating the wielders of a mysterious source of power awakens after a long silence. Only one man--the school's groundskeeper--knows that the seemingly unrelated events are connected, and that an eighteen-year-old boy stands in the center of the storm.
It was a little daunting starting The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen because the book (physical copy) clocks out to be almost 500 pages and the font looked smaller than normal or the spacing in my opinon slightly off; whichever the reason it kind of made me drag my feet while reading the book. It also didn’t help that the prologue, which is normally short, was 15 pages long. The prologue, which takes place around 300 A.D. and many of the later scenes in the book felt completely out of place and at times left me confuse; wondering how they can possibly be relevant to our main character Felix. However, Lowe had a plan and purpose for everything he wrote. As the story progressed, the prologue and those key scenes finally made sense tying into the bigger picture revolving around the mystery plot and how it’s connected to Felix. I’m so glad I didn’t stop reading because the story definitely picked up and got more interesting!

You’d think the whole secret societies and prophecies theme would be played out, but Lowe breathed new life into it, making it feel completely fun and original! I loved that the setting was Portland College, because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Oregon or on a college campus for that matter (okay, maybe one but it’s still in the few category). There’s was also a lot going on in this book, and while it may seem like overload…once you read it, it’ll all make perfect sense! So, There’s 'monsters' attacking/eating people in a forest right outside Portland College, a serial killer going cross country killing teenagers, and an ancient group of assassins with a hit list. And our main character Felix is at the center of it all…except he doesn’t know it.

I really liked Felix and his group of eclectic friends. As supporting characters goes, I thought they were fully fleshed out with their distinctive personalities and they played their role well. For example there’s Allison the best friend, Caitlin the serious and oblivious one, Harper the hot chick, and Lucas the TV celebrity. My favorite character is probably Allison, not only is she a good friend that is always there but who knew that she was also a total kick-ass! I was really surprised by the final scenes because Allison did some serious damage to the bad guys! Harper is probably my least favorite character. She just rubbed me the wrong way and came across a bit too desperate and bitter. In addition to the well developed characters, the campus and its surrounding is a wonder in itself. I loved how Lowe described Portland College with its secret tunnels and rooms, which was cool and creepy, then there’s Ashfield Forest with its long list of missing people and creatures lurking in the shadows and finally a ravaged town beyond PC known as No Man’s Land; where no one sane would be caught dead at.

Overall, I enjoyed The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen  and I can’t wait to see what the author has planned for Felix and the gang. I highly recommend The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen to people ages 17 and up (due to some graphic scenes) and anyone looking for a fresh unique read. If you’re into secret societies, prophecies, assassins, and magic then this book is for you! This is a debut not to be missed!



Friday, June 19, 2015

[Blog Tour] Review: Shards by F.J.R. Titchenell & Matt Carter + Giveaway





Title: Shards
Author: F.J.R. Titchenell & Matt Carter 
Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Series: Prospero Chronicles #2

Paperback, 368 pages
Publication: June 16, 2015 by Jolly Fish Press

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review, and blog tour.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

When autumn descends on Prospero, California, Ben Pastor hopes that the normality of the new school year may offer a reprieve from the town’s recent paranormal horrors. Mina Todd, however, knows all too well that there are no reprieves and no normality in this town, especially after she starts having crippling, unexplained hallucinations of the dead. But even she can’t prepare for what the coming year holds.

On top of a brewing civil war that threatens all of humanity, inside the walls of Prospero High, Ben, Mina and their expanding network face a sinister campaign that aims to destroy their friendship, a newly human Haley Perkin struggling to readjust to life, and an assassin of untold power who is picking off human rebels. Ben and Mina’s one hope may rest with a mysterious figure hiding in the woods outside of town; a living legend who may know how to stop this dangerous new breed of supernatural foe. That is, assuming the figure doesn’t first kill everyone himself. 

We’re back to Prospero, California with Shards, the second book in the Prospero Chronicles following Splinter Hunter Mina and her best friend Ben as they try to navigate high school and protect the town from Splinters who are body snatching the residents. Since the events in Splinters, we find Mina and Ben in a precarious agreement with the Splinter Counsel. The agreement states that as long as they keep quiet about Splinters and stay within Prospero’s limits; the counsel won’t go after them and their friends and families. But the Splinter Counsel is the least of their worries, as they discover a more superior race of Splinters called ‘Slivers’ or ‘Shards’ who are out to start a war by attacking humans and splinters alike.

Like the first book, the chapters alternate POVs between Ben and Mina, enabling readers to immerse themselves into what the characters think and feel. I had so much fun reading Shards and in my opinion it was even better than the first. With the world building and characters’ foundation already set reading this book was a breeze. I love that there’s no more secrets between Mina’s group of friends and the splinters. There are no more fake pleasantries or cordialness, and that’s where the fun begins…when Mina and her friends stop being scared and fight back. The new characters Greg and Julia were a hoot and who knew Haley had so much in her! She definitely surprised me the most. Readers will get to meet Mina's new allies and foes and ‘The Old Man’, a mysterious guy who started training her since she was 8-years-old. Lots of interesting things happen in Shards…now that Mina actually convinced people that there’s a threat to the town and she’s not trying to take on the problem alone.

Overall, Shards is a great squeal to Splinters which was full of actions and humorous dialogue. Which is always a win in my book. I can’t wait to see what happens next. It seems like all the events since the first book is leading up to a big explosive finale and I have a feeling it will happen in the next book! I highly recommend Shards! I know the covers don’t have that big wow factor…but don’t let that stop you from checking this series out, it’s worth reading!



TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY
From June 3rd to July 3rd
a Rafflecopter giveaway



ABOUT THE AUTHORS

 J.R TITCHENELL and MATT CARTER met and fell in love in a musical theatre class at Pasadena City College and have been inseparable ever since. Though they have both dreamed of being writers from a very young age, they both truly hit their stride after they met, bouncing ideas off of one another, forcing each other to strive to be better writers, and mingling Matt's lifelong love of monsters with Fiona's equally disturbing inability to let go of high school. They were married in 2011  in a ceremony that involved kilts, Star Wars music, and a cake topped by figurines of them fighting a zombified wedding party.
Titchenell and Carter live in San Gabriel, California.

Connect with the authors!
  F.J.R. Titchenell   Facebook | Twitter  |  Website
Matt Carter  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Website

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Title: The Golden Lily 
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Series: Bloodlines #2

Paperback, 418 pages
Publication: January 8, 2013 by Razorbill

Source: Personal Library

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. Alchemists protect vampire secrets - and human lives.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age-old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and her sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi - the fiercest vampires, the ones who don't die.

But it's her fear of being just that - special, magical, powerful - that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Braydon, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else - someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney's loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.
Should she trust the Alchemists - or her heart?

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she's been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California - tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

I’m starting to really dig Adrian and Sydney as leads and possible couple. I’ve read many books where the secondary characters go off and become leads of their own novel but Adrian and Sydney are the only characters that I’ve seen that made it worked…they’re actually more interesting and likeable enough to carry a novel all on their own. In the first book, Bloodlines, we finds out hiding out in Palm Spring isn’t as boring or uneventful as everyone believed it to be. The Alchemists thought hiding Princess Jill in a desert oasis would ensure her safety but instead there were sightings of strigois and vampire hunters. Readers encountered strigois in the Bloodlines, and now in The Golden Lily, we delve deeper into the world of vampire hunters.

In my review of Bloodlines, I wrote that Rose is my all-time favorite YA heroine and no one can compare to her. While that is still true, the more I read about Sydney the more I like her. Rose is one of the most kick-ass heroines in the YA genre but Sydney can totally kick-ass in her own ways through hard work and smarts. And, in my opinion Sydney is way more relatable than Rose. Then there’s Adrian, the Moroi everyone loves. Underneath Adrian’s devil-may-care attitude is someone who’s sweet, caring, and intelligent...and surprisingly cares about what people think of him (to an extent). I really love Adrian, ever since he turned up in Frostbite…and now that I see another side to him…it’s like Dimitri who? LOL.

All in all, The Golden Lily is a solid addition to the Bloodline series. I love that I get to see more of Sydney, Adrian, Jill and Eddie who all played secondary or tertiary characters in the Vampire Academy series and meeting new characters like Trey and Angeline. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series, and can’t wait to see what Mead has in store for Sydney and Co.



Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Alice in No-Man's-Land by James Knapp

Title: Alice in No-Man's-Land 
Author: James Knapp
Genre: Dystopain, New Adult
Series: N/A

E-book, 375 Pages
Publication: May 13, 2015 by Curtis Brown Unlimited 

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

Buy|Amazon|

Alice Walshe has led a very charmed life, until now.

Twenty years after a pandemic crippled the country things are finally back on track and her father, a major player at real estate giant Cerulean Holdings, has made billions renewing the pockets of urban decay that were left behind. As his protégé she has accompanied him to one such area named Ypsilanti Bloc, a particularly valuable site due to its proximity to a major thriving city. When their airship is attacked by Ypsilanti's biggest militia, however, Alice and her brother Cody only barely escape and end up as the sole survivors of the crash.

Alice emerges from the drop ship to find herself trapped in the very Bloc that her father was meant to re-purpose - a ruined city that militias, gangs, and even cannibals now call home. She is discovered by a pair of teens who have tracked the wreck hoping to scavenge anything useful, and with few options open to her she employs their help to find her brother and get home. Things grow more complicated, however, when she realizes that the attack may not have been random, and that Cerulean’s renewal project may not be as benign as she had been brought up to believe.
Alice in No-Man’s-Land is a New Adult-Dystopian novel set in the future as humanity rebuilds from a devastating virus. There are two types of people that inhabit the world, the haves and have-nots, and Alice is in the former group. Alice is being groomed to take over her father’s business, a job that specializes in reclamation and renewal. While on an airship going into the Ypsilanti Bloc, a ravaged slum area with her family; their airship gets shot down by Ypsilanti militants leaving Alice stranded and her brother, Cody missing. With the help of two savvy street rats, Alice is able to navigate the desolate strange land in search of her little brother, only to discover the government been lying and keeping secrets on what’s been is going in the Bloc.

This book is darker, grittier and more violent than any other dystopian I’ve read but it suits the world and characters that Knapp has created. I thought the world building was well-done; I could visualize Alice and Cody’s pod being ejected from the crashing airship, The Las Costras gang with their bald heads and tattooed bodies, and the Yagas (cannibal) chained up in the basement. The only thing that I wish was better explained is Cerulean and what Yuric Walshe did, since I’m still not 100% sure what Yuric’s job entailed. As for the characters, they were fully developed and everyone had a distinctive personality. At the beginning of the story, Alice was a naive and sheltered girl barely into adulthood. She’s from the upper-class and was provided for all her life, so when she crashed into Ypsilanti she was in for a serious rude awakening. I loved seeing Alice’s growth over the short period. She went from a clueless 'princess' to someone who isn’t afraid to fight back or fight for others who couldn’t fend for themselves. When people met Alice, they dismissed her right away because she’s a girl and because she’s one of the privileged (Glass) but despite her looks and where she came from, she showed that she can roll with the big guys and throw a few punches, no problem. I also really like Basilio and Maya, the two teenagers Alice met the first night. They may be street rats-occasional drug dealers (not by choice) but they were smart and resourceful, making the most of it from their surroundings.

At the beginning of each chapter, there is a quote/commentary from either radio shows, newscasters, government officials, or family/friends so that readers can experience different point-of-views, and see things on both sides since the book is narrated in first-person by Alice who is for the most of the book within Ypsilanti Bloc. I thought the quotes/commentaries added a nice touch in building up the world, at the same time giving readers information in an engaging manner that isn’t info-dumping. Overall, I really enjoyed Alice in No-Man’s-Land and hope there’s a sequel in the works. If you enjoy dark and gritty dystopians with a bit of science fiction then you should check Alice in No-Man’s Land out. Alice in No-Man's-Land is the best New Adult-Dystopain I've read all year. I highly recommend it!



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[Cover Reveal] Madison's Song by Christine Amsden


Madison's Song is a stand-alone companion to the Cassie Scot series!

Cover art by Tamian Wood
Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black…

Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison’s nightmares are not.

Despite her fears, when Madison’s brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.

Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton’s home only to discover that he’s vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she’s not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott’s are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.

Ebook Release: July 15, 2015
Tentative Paperback Release: September 15, 2015

By Christine Amsden
New Adult/Urban Fantasy Author of the Cassie Scot Series


Cassie Scot Series Order
Cassie Scot (Cassie Scot #1)
Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2)
Mind Games (Cassie Scot #3)
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)






Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Early Review] Nightborn by Lou Anders

Title: Nightborn
Author: Lou Anders
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Series: Thrones & Bones #2

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publication: July 14, 2015 by Crown BFYR

Source: I received a review copy (arc) from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Pre-Order|Amazon|B&N|

Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. "Not" a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.

Meet Desstra. She's in training to join the Underhand--the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.

Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?

Nightborn is the second installment in the Thrones & Bones series following Karn Korlundsson, a Norrøngard farmer and lover of board games, especially Thrones and Bones. Readers last left off with Karn and Thianna destroying the Horn of Osius, a magical horn crafted in Thica enabling the user to control all reptilian creatures such as snakes, wyverns and dragons. After the crazy adventure, Karn returned home to help with the family farm, while Thianna traveled east to see the world beyond Ymiria. But it turns out the horn they destroyed wasn’t the only one made, as there are two more out in the world hidden. Just as Karn is getting the hang of bartering he is summoned by Orm to help Thianna, who has gone missing during her quest to find the remaining Horns of Osius. In this latest sequel, there are new foes, unlikely alliances, and more action as readers’ tag-along with Karn on his newest adventure.

In the first book Anders introduced us to Frost Giants, Norrøngardians and the Undead Draugs. In Nightborn, Anders expands on his world building as we travel east towards new territories inhabited by elves, dwarves, gnomes, nomads, and other fantastical creatures that will surely delight and disgust you (ew, rodent people!). The dark elves played a big part in Nightborn, similar to how the frost giants were in the first book. And they happened to be the best part of the story! I was immediately hooked from the first page as Anders drops readers right into the fray as the dark elves are taking their final exam, using their cumulative knowledge and training in stealth, sabotage, combat, and strategy to win a coveted position in the Underhand, a elite organization only opened to the best of the best.

One of the first thing that intrigued me to this series was how the author incorporated a board game into the story. Karn used his knowledge of the game Thrones and Bones to strategize and outfox all his enemies in Frostborn. And once again readers are in for another treat, since Nightborn involves another game called Charioteers, from the lost Gordion Empire and a riddle which if solved, discloses the location of the Horn of Osius. Of the two, I really liked the riddle. It was fun seeing Karn solve each verse taking him a step closer and closer to the horn.

All in all, Nightborn is an excellent addition to the series. I enjoyed it way more than I expected and in my opinion it was just as good, if not better than the first book. Make sure you check out the extra goodies at the end; there’s a instruction for Charioteers, a handy glossary, excerpts for a riddle, song, History of Katernia, empires timelines and maps. I highly recommend Nightborn to everyone and can't wait to read the next book!