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Monday, February 20, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Wires and Nerve (Volume 1)

Release Date: January 31, 2017
Author: Marissa Meyer
Illustrator: Douglas Holgate
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 240 pages
Source: Library Book

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure -- with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

    

Review:

Protagonist: IKO! Okay, so I would have picked this graphic novel up with the premise of it being a continuation of the Lunar Chronicles alone, but the fact that Iko, a fan favorite and utterly amazing character, is the main protagonist of this story really drove home the selling point, and it does not disappoint. As we know from the main Lunar Chronicles titles, Iko is the adorkable, overly excitable, and fashion forward sidekick of Cinder, but in this story, we get to see a more serious side of her. Seeing the prejudices that Iko, and all androids for that matter, go through is heartbreaking. Iko isn't taken seriously and is treated as a second class citizen simply because she's an android, but at the same time it's not hard to see how these prejudices came into existence. Iko is one of a kind, or at least seems to be, and while we know she has true and real feelings, most people that come across her wouldn't. That still doesn't help the sting I felt whenever someone treated her like a simple machine or overlooked her as one of the "Heroes that Saved Earth." While this story doesn't go too in depth with Iko's struggles it's something that's sort of always there in the background and even bleeds into the romance of this story.

Romance: Since this graphic novel goes by so fast there isn't all that much of a romance to explore, but there are definitely some seeds planted for a romance between Iko and the ever annoying royal guard Kinney. This is a romance that evolves from a place of annoyance on both sides. Kinney believes that Iko has no real feelings due to the fact that she's an android, and because of those outspoken prejudices Iko doesn't like him that much either. Like I said there isn't all that much interaction between Iko and Kinney, but there is a very poignant scene between the two towards the end, and a promise of more interactions in the next (and final?) installment.

World Building: While this is Iko's story as she takes down the rogue lunar wolf soldiers on Earth, there are elements of this graphic novel that act as an extended epilogue of Winter. There were actually quite a few things in Winter, especially toward the end of the book, that I felt didn't get the closure they needed. This story definitely begins that closure for most, if not all, of those things. Like I've said ad nauesam, this story seems very short due to the fact that it's a graphic novel, however, we do get to see the entire crew of the Rampion on this journey, some more than others, and learn about what they've been up to since the end of the main series. There are some great moments that highlight some of these characters' struggles after the takedown of Levana, such as Kai struggling with the public believing that his feelings for Cinder are real, and Thorne's issues with his parents. These struggles aren't fleshed out all that much but it's a nice touch to each of the characters. As for the story of wolf hunting Iko, it's one that's but fun and yet still retains a serious edge to it. While some of the wolves Iko hunts down are doing so mainly on instinct there are some that are far smarter, though still make you want to punch them in the face on how dense they can be, and pose a larger threat to everyone's favorite android.

Predictability: I've been trying to figure out if I should even do a predictability segment given how short this story is, but at the same time there were definitely moments that I was able to predict and others that caught me completely off guard. I would say that in terms of twists, this doesn't have nearly as much as a traditional novel, but there were things that made me gasp and nearly led me into a tirade. There were also key moments in this story that were easy to predict, yet I never felt like they weren't intentionally done that way. Overall, while the lack of content in this story made for a story with far fewer twists than standard size novels, it does have a few surprises in store.

Ending: As is the theme with this review it seems, the story is so short, at least in terms of content and story, that I feel talking too much about the ending would do more harm than good. I will say though that I need more of this story. I'm kind of sad that Meyer has stated that it will only be a duology. Honestly, even if the main story is complete after the next installment, I could almost read these characters forever. If Meyer were to decide to expand this series and come up with new adventures for Iko as well as featuring cameo appearances from the Rampion crew I would devour every single volume.

Illustrations: So, this is my first formal graphic novel review so I figured I should talk about the art in the book, and perhaps how it impacts the story, however, I'm not sure how effective it will be since I'm not sure I can properly articulate my feelings but I'll give it a try anyway. So right off the bat, it's obvious that the illustrations in here aren't super detailed full-color illustrations, but they are very visually appealing. In fact, while I was hoping for something more detailed when this project was first revealed, as I made my way further and further into the story I really enjoyed the cartoony look to the panels. The action in the story was very well represented with fantastic panels featuring our characters kicking ass, or sometimes attempting to. The illustrations add a different level of depth to the story that you wouldn't be able to find in a traditional novel and it lends itself very well to the story that Meyer is telling. Overall, I really did like the whimsical cartoon-esque illustrations, they went very well to the story, the world, and these characters.

Rating:


I loved this book so much that it hurt when it was over and I realized I'll have to wait at least an entire year for the next installment. Iko is a fantastic main character and I can't wait to see what's in store for the conclusion of this duology. P.S. I'm so happy Meyer decided to take the route of continuing the series in a graphic novel format instead of putting out graphic novel adaptations.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Playlist for The Wish Granter (Ravenspire #2) by C.J. Redwine


Release Date: February 14, 2017
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 432 pages

An epic fantasy inspired by the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen.


The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence that he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague, who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother...and her soul.

    

Guest Post:


Music is a huge part of my writing process. I have a playlist developed for every book I’ve written, along with playlists in development for quite a few future projects as well! Listening to the same songs in the same order works like a Pavlov’s dog syndrome for my brain. It’s an instant shortcut into the world of the story. You can visit my Spotify profile to listen to the full Wish Granter playlist, or any of my other lists. https://open.spotify.com/user/1213294486

Here are a selection of songs from THE WISH GRANTER’s playlist that are particularly meaningful to the book.

  1. Distant Memories by Nox Arcana: This is the first song on the playlist, and it served to immediately ground me into the atmosphere of the story. There’s a haunting solemnity to it that conjured up the creeping fear that began to take over the kingdom of Sundraille as Alistair Teague took control.     




  1. Snuff by Slipknot: This is the song I listened to when I needed to get into Sebastian’s head. He was terribly abused by his father, and he wants nothing more than to escape the city of Kosim Thalas, live in solitude, and never become the man his father is. While the second verse doesn’t apply to his situation, the overall atmosphere of the song is perfect.



  1. This Night by Black Lab: Another song for Sebastian. This one was perfect for figuring out who he was becoming as his friendship with Ari developed, and as he decided that getting involved with the terrifying danger he’d been hoping to run from was worth it if it meant he could save her.



  1. Centuries by Fall Out Boy: This is the song that I listened to as I wrote Teague’s scenes. He’s a dangerous immortal fae, and he’s been alive for centuries, so there’s that correlation. But more importantly, he is determined to be untouchable, all-powerful, and remembered for ages as the most ruthless creature to ever draw breath.



  1. I Dare You by Shinedown: This is the song I listened to for Ari. She’s so forthright, so confident, and so unflinching when it comes to doing the right thing. And she’s the kind of girl who will rise to the occasion, no matter what it costs her.




  1. Follow You Down by Shinedown: Romance! This is the song for Ari’s and Sebastian’s sweet, slow-moving romance, and it epitomizes the fierce loyalty that is the heart of their relationship.



About the Author:





C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and Sherlock. She is the author of the Defiance trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy from Balzer + Bray. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. To learn more about C.J., visit her website at www.cjredwine.com Where you can find C.J.:




Giveaway:


1 winner will receive a signed paperback of THE SHADOW QUEEN and a signed Hardback of THE WISH GRANTER, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2)

Release Date: March 31, 2015
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 293 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Library Audio Book

In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die...

But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn't wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?

    

Review: 

Protagonist: Amy Gumm has failed in her task to kill Dorothy, instead she is flown away by monkeys while the Emerald City falls into ruin and the true ruler of Oz, Ozma, is joining her on her journey. Amy needs to remove the gifts that Dorothy's friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Lion were given by the Wizard before she can kill Dorothy. She already has the Heart of Tin, and soon hopes to reunite with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked and figure out their next move, but there's more to Oz than Amy knows and on this journey, she'll find more than what she's looking for. I really like the character of Amy and in this book, we get a deeper look into who she is than just the other girl from Kansas who has a chip on her shoulder. One of the things I was really drawn to was that she's not a heroine of pure innocence and goodness, in fact, there are a few times when her morality is called into question, but she's doing what she does for the good of Oz. She walks the road of an anti-hero and it's her imperfect morality that is relatable, she's not a perfect person who always does the right thing, she blurs lines to get what needs to get done, done.

Romance: Honestly, I'm contemplating not even having this section, but we'll see how it goes. There isn't all that much romance in this book. I mean, there are some great scenes with Nox and Amy, and you can tell that there are definite feelings there, but Amy's not about to get all goo-goo eyed and distracted from her goal of killing off Dorothy. There are also some great moments with Pete, and for a bit there I actually thought the author would introduce a love triangle, and for a second there I was actually okay if that was the path the author wanted to take with the story. However, it becomes very apparent that what's going on between Pete and Amy is strictly platonic. I was surprised at the lack of romance and was even hoping for a bit more than we got, but the author did a fantastic job showing a character who is feeling romantic feelings but is also on a mission and can't let those feelings get in her way.

World Building: There's actually quite a bit of world building to this story. Since the events at the end of the first installment, magic is coming back to Oz, and with it, the landscape is changing, it's a bit less dystopian and a bit more fantasy, but don't get me wrong it's still dark. The biggest enigma to this world is Ozma, specifically how she is both Pete and Ozma, and who Pete is, is he just another form of Ozma, or is he his own person? That' s a question that will not only be answered but explored quite a bit in this book. I really like the Ozma/Pete dynamic as it adds a bit of a wrinkle into the Oz lore, and shakes things up a bit. There's still so much left of Oz to explore, in this book we arrive, or return depending on if you read the Wizard Returns novella, to the kingdom of the wingless ones and learn more about the winged monkeys and specifically more about their queen, Lulu. We also see Amy making her way through some odd Oz locales and to one place in particular. I don't think it'd be a spoiler to say it, at least not a very big one, but there's something inside holding me back from gushing about it. Then there's the stuff we find out toward the end. I'm not going to give it away, obviously, but it makes me look at Oz in a whole new way.

Predictability: Something I noticed about this book was that even though the author does a fantastic job of weaving the foreshadowing of this book to both tease future twists and mislead the reader, one thing stood out and that was that if I hadn't read the prequel novellas, things wouldn't have made as much sense as they do when I did. Granted, while the second installment was enjoyable, it doesn't really tie into this book but the first and third installments add a level of understanding to this world that without it might have made the ending of this book confusing, or should I say more confusing. On the whole, I was surprised by a great many things, but there were a few twists in this book that I'm hoping will be further explored in either the next installment or another prequel novella.

Ending: The ending of this book is a bit weird. Ironically, I ended up mostly listening to this book so imagine my surprise when I thought that the final climax already commenced and things were ramping up into a cliffhanger, only for there to still be nearly an entire hour left in the book. That's of course where the real final climax begins, more or less. Things heat up towards the end of this book and there are some shocking revelations made and just when things can't get crazy enough, well then they just get confusing. I mean, for the most part, things made sense but the final chapter of this story really leaves you hanging and I can't fully comprehend what happens so hopefully when I get to the next book there'll be some sort of explanation to what I just read/listened to.

Rating:


For the most part, I really loved this installment. The anti-heroine was fantastic and the world building is phenomenal, but the ending was a bit on the intense and confusing side, and if I hadn't read the prequel novellas I wouldn't have had as much of an understanding of this story as I did and probably would have been even more confused.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Battlemage (Summoner #3) by Taran Matharu (WOW #25)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that everyone’s excited about!


One boy's ability to summon demons will change the fate of an empire ... The epic conclusion to the fantasy trilogy described as 'Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings meets Pokemon'.

After the thrilling cliffhanger at the end of book two, we rejoin Fletcher and his friends in the ether, where they must undertake a mortally dangerous quest, all the while avoiding capture by enemies and facing foes more terrifying than anything they have yet encountered.

But this is nothing compared to what truly lies ahead for Fletcher, as his nemesis, albino orc Khan, is on a mission to destroy Hominum and everything and everyone that Fletcher loves.

Epic battles, dramatic revelations, and breathtaking drama await in the third and final book in the New York Times bestselling Summoner series.



The Battlemage releases on May 9, 2017, from Feiwel + Friends

Since the first two books in this series involve either main or secondary antagonists that are what I call "entitled assholes" who make life extremely difficult for our protagonist, leading me to hurt with fury and helplessness, I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for this book, luckily I still have some time. However, these books are exquisite, they are addicting and full of magic and mystery.

So, what are you waiting for this Wednesday?


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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Review Tour Book Review: Long Way Home (Thunder Road #3) + Excerpt & Giveaway!

LONG WAY HOME - Tour banner

Release Date: January 31, 2017
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 448 pages
Source: eGalley from NetGalley

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

    

Review:

Protagonists: Chevy and Violet were each other's everything. They were friends since childhood, since before they could even remember, and along the way, they became something more. That is until Violet's father died and she blamed his death on the Reign of Terror, a legit motorcycle club that Chevy hopes to one day join and follow in his family's footsteps. Now they aren't sure what they are, they just know that they aren't together anymore. Violet hates the Terror, and Chevy feels like he's in one big tug of war, and doesn't know which side to choose because either way, someone he loves will get hurt. After a horrifying and scarring event that leaves Violet and Chevy both shaken and with old secrets about the Terror and their families come to light, they need to decide which road to take and what they're willing to give up to keep those they love safe. I was so excited to finally get to Violet's story, since from her debut in Nowhere but Here I found her story to be the most compelling, but what I didn't expect was that I would also be drawn in so deeply to Chevy's plot as well. Both of these characters are a bit broken, Violet's the type of person to not ask for help because she feels as though she can deal with anything that comes her way by herself, and even when she gets in over her head she struggles to appear vulnerable to anyone else. Chevy's mom has never liked or fully trusted the Terror, she was never a part of that life since Chevy was born out of a one night stand, because of that she wants more for Chevy, she wants him to experience life and live a normal life before dedicating himself to the Terror, and Chevy feels an incredible responsibility to continue his family's legacy and join with the Terror as soon as he's eighteen, and his need to please everyone in his family has left him at a stand still in his life. Both these characters are so richly presented and portrayed, every action, speech, and movement for them feels realistic and natural which lends so well to how immersive this series, and this installment especially, is.

Romance: Since I first heard that this book was going to be about Violet and Chevy I was interested in seeing how McGarry was going to handle the romance. We've never seen her tackle a romance between two people that have a long and complicated romantic history before, in fact, it wasn't until Chasing Impossible that we ever had two protagonists who we knew and had any sort of relationship before. I was pretty much already rooting for this couple before I ever began this book, the author had laid the groundwork for their relationship very well in the previous installments in this series, however, I was still anxious to see whether or not that could be translated well once we were in their heads. Granted, I should never doubt Katie McGarry because almost as soon as I began this book I knew I would be just as, if not more, invested and caught up in the romance between Chevy and Violet as any of her other romances. These two characters have so much electrifying chemistry that I never wanted their scenes with each other to end. They understand each other on a level that most others in this series just don't. They know more about each other than they do about themselves and it's so phenomenal to see them lean on each other and try and untangle the complications in their lives and in their relationship.

World Building: Gah! I love the mysteries that this series provides for our main characters but sometimes you wonder if the Riot isn't the true antagonist of this series, but the Reign of Terror themselves. So far with each book in this series there's been a mystery, involving the family of one of the main characters, Emily's parents' history, Razor's mom's death, and well I'm not going to spoil it but there's one more that involves the parent of one of these two characters, and the Terror is keeping some or all of the truth from them under some sort of code that is supposed to protect these kids, but inevitably only leads them to make decisions to find out these truths that put them in danger. The mystery for this installment is fantastic and every step we make toward finding out the truth only makes it more and more intriguing. There's also a lot of danger and darkness to this book, in fact, I would say this is one of, if not, the darkest book Katie McGarry has written so far. I really want to discuss what happens because it's such an interesting, and terrifying avenue to explore, it's something that sets the tone for this book and kicks off the main plot, and it's something that remains with our protagonists throughout the entire story. On a much lighter note, I was extremely excited when McGarry's two series come together in a marvelous way. I won't spoil how, but once I read a specific name from the Pushing the Limits series I nearly hyperventilated and when that avenue is explored later, well I just couldn't handle my emotions at that point.

Predictability: I don't know how Katie does it, but every time I go into these books I'm always expecting a happy ending, and yet when things get tense, when these characters are put in danger, specifically the narrators, I'm always scared that something will happen this time we might not get a happy ending. That ability to keep your readers guessing even when they feel they know it will end happily is a writing trait I envy. There are quite a few twists to this book, mainly because while it's easy to know these characters so well at this point, they're put into situations that, even thinking you know them so well, you aren't sure what they'll do. These aren't Mary Sue characters that will always do the right thing, these are characters that will act and react like the imperfect human beings they are. Then there are the secrets, secrets that the Riot hold, secrets that the Terror hold and secrets that strangers hold back from our characters that come to light in this book and some absolutely blew my mind. Honestly, looking back on this book I can only think of one thing specifically that I was able to predict before the revelation started.

Ending: Since this is the end of the "Rat Pack" as Olivia liked to call them, as they all have their own books and stories told, I was wondering about the future of this series. Granted, this series doesn't need to continue, but the author writes so many amazing side characters that there always seems like a new character to write about. Going into the ending of this book, it feels like the ending to this series, though. There are definitely more stories that can be told, but if this story was the last one in the "Thunder Road" series I'd be fine with that. The final climax of this book is intense and leads to an ending that feels final. Switching between Chevy and Violet's points of view during the final climax was almost like watching a movie that would have various scenes showing two sides that ended on excruciating cliffhangers. Then there's the cooldown that had so much to it. It wasn't just about whether or not our characters lived happily ever after. There were a lot of things that needed to be said at the end of the story and I loved seeing everything some together toward the end and seeing where everyone ended up.

Rating:


I have to tell you, I'm still debating in my head whether or not I loved this book or Chasing Impossible more. They're both amazing installments focusing on complex and compelling characters with issues that they have to sort through. I just hope I was able to convey to you how much this installment gripped me. I both love and curse Katie McGarry for making me feel so many emotions in this book! I can't wait to see what Katie will write next, be it a Thunder Road novel, a Pushing the Limits novel, or something completely new I'm sure I'll love it. P.S. If you value your sanity, do not read the excerpt from her new book that's in the end of this book, at least not right away. I did, and now I'm craving that book after only what I assume is part of a chapter.




Excerpt:


CHEVY

“Chevy,” Cyrus calls near the entrance, “We need to talk.”
Damned knot in the tug-of-war-rope and I’m starting to feel frayed. Mom doesn’t blink as she waits for me to say something. To tell Cyrus he can wait. To tell her what she wants to hear. But as much as I love her, I’m also drawn to the club. She’s right, I do want both.

“I’ll be back to pick you up later,” I say.

Mom throws the towel she had expertly throttled into the sink behind her, walks to the other side of the bar and the strobe light casts a red haze around her. If I didn’t know her better, I’d buy the flirty smile and the way she giggles in happiness as she leans on the bar to take a drink order. But that’s not her real smile and that’s not her real laugh. It’s part of her job, part of her act, because that’s what working her requires—performing.

With a kick to a barstool, I head for the exit. Cyrus walks out into the night and I follow. Once outside, Cyrus turns to me and his warm breath creates a cloud in the cool night. “We’ve had some trouble tonight with the Riot.”

The Riot would be a motorcycle club north of us in Louisville. They’re pissed at the Terror for myriad reasons, the main one being we’re a legit club and they deal in illegal. They’re also angry at one of our main members, Eli. They feel he stole their daughter and granddaughter from them. Eli didn’t steal a thing. Can’t call someone’s free will in walking away from crazy a crime.

Life sucks for the Riot and I’m fine with that. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah. Everyone’s safe, but we’ve had word that they’ve ridden past the boundary lines we set with them a few months back. It’s all rumor and no one on our side has confirmed it. Could be someone’s overactive imagination, but I’ll feel better knowing you’re off the road.”

I’m under eighteen, still a kid to him. Cyrus used to act this way with my two best friends, Oz and Razor, but both are eighteen and full members of the club now. The babysitting twists my gut, but then again, I’m not ready for the decision eighteen will bring. “How about Violet?”

“I’m on my way now to look for her. She’s also not answering her cell.”

Yeah. A lot of that going around. “If she took Stone to the game, she would have headed straight home. I’ll check on her on my way to Mom’s if you want.”

This gives me the excuse I need to see Violet. Because I won’t be able to sleep without knowing she’s okay. So I can thank her for what she did for me with the note. To gauge whether or not Violet is waving the white flag.

Cyrus lays a hand on my shoulder. “I’d appreciate that. I need to head back to the clubhouse to take care of some business. I’m serious about what I said though. Me and a lot of guys would love to hear about the game.”

I know they would and I’d enjoy being with them, but Mom’s already sore that I walked out on her to talk to Cyrus. “I’m beat. After I check on Violet, I’m crashing.”

Cyrus gives me a fast pat and a hug. We both mount our bikes and start our engines with a growl. My grandfather takes the lead and I follow him as long as I can before taking the path that leads away from him and toward where Violet lives.



Don’t Miss the First Two Titles in the Thunder Road Series! Grab your copies today!


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WALK THE EDGE
 



Pre-order LONG WAY HOME by Katie McGarry, and fill out THIS FORM, to receive three previously unreleased bonus scenes featuring important “firsts” in the lives of your favorite characters from the world of Katie McGarry! Complete the form to register your pre-order at https://wyng.com/campaign/820152. Offer Ends 1/31/17 at 11:59 pm EST.






Katie McGarry’s LONG WAY HOME – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
January 23rd
Aaly and The Books – Review & Excerpt
Angel Reads – Review
Books,Dreams,Life – Excerpt
Feed Your Fiction Addiction – Review & Excerpt
Girl Plus Books – Review & Excerpt
Letter Shelves Blog – Review & Excerpt
The Book Hammock – Review & Excerpt
January 24th
Book Boyfriend Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Ficwishes – Review
Lovin' Los Libros – Review
Zach's YA Reviews – Review & Excerpt
January 25th
Always YA at Heart – Review & Excerpt
Bridget's Book Bungalow – Review & Excerpt
Mythical Books – Excerpt
Swoony Boys Podcast – Review & Excerpt
January 26th
A Bookish Escape – Review & Excerpt
Book Sojourner – Review & Excerpt
Crazii Bitches Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Dark Faerie Tales – Review & Excerpt
January 27th
Bookshelf Adventures – Review & Excerpt
Little Read Riding Hood – Review & Excerpt
Nerdy Soul – Review & Excerpt
Random Book Muses – Review & Excerpt
Writing My Own Fairy Tale – Review & Excerpt
January 28th
Zili in the Sky – Review & Excerpt
Greyland Reviews – Excerpt
Chasing Faerytales – Review
January 29th
Book Angel Booktopia – Review & Excerpt
BookWorm221 – Review & Excerpt
Confessions of 2 Book Lovers – Review & Excerpt
Milky Way of Books – Review & Excerpt
January 30th
Margie's Must Reads – Review & Excerpt
Oh My Growing TBR – Review & Excerpt
Readers Live A Thousand Lives – Review & Excerpt
So Bookalicious – Review & Excerpt
January 31st
Desert Divas Book Addiction – Review & Excerpt
Little Bookworm Reviews – Review & Excerpt
With Love for Books – Review & Excerpt
The Cover Contessa – Review & Excerpt
February 1st
A Leisure Moment – Review
Book Bite Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Never Judge a Book by its Cover – Review & Excerpt
Pages to Explore – Excerpt
Red Hot + Blue Reads – review & Excerpt
Stuck In Books – Review & Excerpt
February 2nd
Actin' Up with Books – Review & Excerpt
Contagious Reads – Review & Excerpt
Go Read A Book – Review
The Book Maven – Review & Excerpt
February 3rd
A Gingerly Review – Review & Excerpt
Bookish Hollow – Review & Excerpt
G & T's Indie Café – Excerpt
Lovely Reads Publishing – Review & Excerpt
Vera is Reading – Excerpt
I Heart YA Books – Review & Excerpt



LONG WAY HOME - teaser 3 Fotolia update

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About the Author:


Katie McGarry - author picKatie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full-length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, NOWHERE BUT HERE and WALK THE EDGE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.


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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Novella Review: The Wizard Returns

Release Date: March 3, 2015
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 71 pages
Source: Library eBook

The Wizard left Oz in a hot air balloon—or did he? This digital original novella is the third installment in the prequel arc to the edgy and exciting New York Times bestseller Dorothy Must Die.

Dorothy Gale is back . . . and she's not the sweet little heroine of Oz anymore. She's power-hungry and vicious, and she leaves a trail of destruction beneath her spike-heeled, magical shoes. But she wasn't always in charge. There used to be a different ruler of Oz. Someone who also came from the Other Place, and who stole power for himself. They called him the Wizard.

The story goes that when a young Dorothy revealed the Wizard as a fraud, the man behind the curtain fled Oz in his hot air balloon. But in The Wizard Returns, he wakes in a field of poppies to find out that not only had he never left, but that he has no memory of who—or where—he is. As he undergoes a series of tests to uncover his memories, he finds that the very girl who threw him from the Emerald Palace is in control. And that Oz may be his destiny after all.

The Wizard Returns by Danielle Paige is a dark and compelling reimagining of a beloved classic and is perfect for fans of Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Beastly by Alex Flinn, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

    

Review:

Protagonist: If you thought the Wizard of Oz actually left Oz in that hot air balloon of his, you'd be wrong. Shortly after departing the Emerald City the wizard is caught in a great storm and crash lands in a remote part of the Field of Poppies. After being awoken by a boy named Pete, the wizard, now referred to as Hex, doesn't remember who he is. Pete guides him through a series of trials that, if he passes, can lead him home, or perhaps to something greater. Something I've noticed about Danielle Paige is that not only does she have fantastic skill in differentiating the various points of views for this world, but she also provides a variety of types of narrators. In the first novella, we have a "good" character slowly becomes corrupt, in the second we have a "good" character find her strength and resolve to fight back however she can, but in this installment, we have something new. The wizard was not a good man, as far as we know he did not have Oz's best interests at heart, but we don't really meet the wizard, we meet Hex, a man who's lost his memory, but who may just be as selfish and power hungry as the former wizard. I found Hex's growth over the novella very compelling. It was entertaining to see this man, formerly known as the Great and Powerful Oz, be reduced to a man who didn't even know his own name.

World Building: The world building in this story is far different than I expected. After reading the synopsis I'd assumed that we'd see more of the Emerald City and find out what the Wizard's true motives are regarding Dorothy and Glinda. However, most of this adventure the wizard doesn't even know who he is. Instead, we see him going through a few trials to prove his worth, including facing the flying monkeys that he betrayed to the Wicked Witch of the West. In fact, a great deal of this novella deals with the Wingless Ones, flying monkeys who've clipped their wings, and thus the control that humans can have on them. There's a great deal of other world building, all of which I found completely fascinating, it was interesting to see a tale so far removed from Dorothy and Glinda. As for if you could read this story before the first full-length installment? I'd say you can, there isn't any risk of spoiling anything from the main series, although there is one thing that's revealed, something that made me check to see if this came out before the second book because it felt  a bit like a spoiler, but it's just something revealed in this story.

Predictability: So, I'm not quite sure what to write here. I mean there are things that build and get to a climactic point and secrets are revealed and twists in the story happen, but honestly there wasn't a lot of foreshadowing. A lot of this novella felt like I was taken along on an adventure but I had no idea where it led or what would happen. I feel as though a lot of that had to do with the fact that Hex had amnesia and his guide Pete wouldn't tell him anything. This led to me not knowing much and then when a twist would arrive, and let me tell you there are a few really good ones, I would be more blown away than I usually am.

Ending: I feel like it would be a spoiler to talk too much about what happened at the end. In fact, I've written this out a few times to varying results, none of them particularly good. What I will say about this ending is that, even with all the character development we see Hex go through, it isn't until the very end that we have a great understanding of why it is the Wizard returns, and what it is he plans on doing.

Rating:


Is it bad that I have given all of the novellas that I've read in this series five stars so far and the only full-length story four stars? I mean, I enjoyed DMD, but I think the shorter form of these stories makes for a great highly concentrated story that is almost impossible to put down.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review: Simon Thorn and the Viper's Pit (Simon Thorn #2)

Release Date: February 7, 2017
Author: Aimée Carter
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Length: 304 pages
Source: eGalley via NetGalley

The excitement continues for the secret race of animal shape-shifters with a hero “worthy of a young Harry Potter” (Booklist Online).

Simon Thorn's life is almost unrecognizable from a few months ago. Along with a surprise twin brother and an uncle he never knew, Simon has also found his first real friends to hang out, train, and study with at the secret Animalgam Academy. The only piece missing is his mother, held captive by his evil grandfather, Orion, who's bent on taking over the five kingdoms.

To rescue his mother, Simon sets off cross-country with his friends to the reptile kingdom, battling rogue Animalgams and their own doubts and torn loyalties along the way. But if he’s going to stop Orion, Simon will need to keep him from gathering together the fragments of a terrible weapon, or the lives of everyone Simon loves will be at risk.

With action and adventure, this story is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull. 

    

Review:

Protagonist: After losing his Uncle Darryl, the man who raised him, and his mom's kidnapping, Simon doesn't quite feel at home in the L.A.I.R. Sure he has his newly discovered brother, Nolan, who he still has a touchy relationship with, and his Uncle Malcolm, the mammal kingdom's new Alpha, but he misses his mother more than anything, even though she lied to him and was rarely around. So, when evidence of where she may be held shows up he needs to act quickly. Escaping the L.A.I.R. with his friends won't be easy, but they need to travel to Arizona and straight to the heart of the Reptile Kingdom. In this installment, Simon's character development is heavily focused on belonging and family. He has two grandparents who would kill him if he got in the way of their plans, and who would definitely kill his brother, he isn't sure if Malcolm is caring for him because he wants to or because Darryl made him promise to, and he tries to keep his distance from Nolan because if Nolan ever found out that he isn't the only heir to the Beast King and that Simon inherited those abilities as well, he would never forgive Simon. I really liked Simon in this installment, even though I couldn't personally relate to him, as I sometimes feel smothered by family and feel very comfortable where I live, I could still sympathize with his plight and every choice he made because of the pain he feels and the longing he has felt very genuine. I loved his development over the course of this book and can't wait to see what new developments await in future installments.

World Building: With the first book in this series setting up not only the Animalgam world for readers and the overarching plot of the series, the hunt for the pieces of The Predator and protecting the Beast King's heir(s), there wasn't all that much time to get to see outside of the L.A.I.R. let alone outside of New York. In this installment, our heroes travel across the country to visit the reptile kingdom. Their mission is two-fold, rescue Simon's mom and obtain the reptiles' piece of The Predator. Along the way they run into other Animalgams who's lives are very different than those at the L.A.I.R. Since most of the mammals at the L.A.I.R. are predators we never really get to see what life is like for those whose animal forms don't seem to be able to defend themselves. Also, with Malcolm's title as Alpha so new, Celeste isn't down for the count. This is a woman who's made it her life's work to gain the powers of the Beast King and a simple exile isn't going to stop her plans. Ironically, Simon's other grandparent has similar aspirations and as Orion has Isabel, Simon's mother and the only one outside the kingdoms who knows where the pieces of the predator are hidden, as his captive it's only a matter of time before he puts his plan into motion and tracks down someone to force Isabel to talk. I really enjoyed getting to see a larger version of the Animalgam world. While we really have a large focus on the Reptile Kingdom, it's a fascinating look into the politics of this world. It's a very democratic system, though others seem to exert pressure on those who are supposed to have the same amount of power. I loved getting to see a little piece of their world and am ready for the next kingdom.

Predictability: Going into this book I had pretty high expectations for the story. I thought I had it all figured out. Well, not all, but I thought I had a general idea of where the story was going to go and both how the plot, as well as the character development, was headed. Soon enough, however, I realized that I may have jumped the gun a bit. As the story unfolded my ideas of what was going to happen changed and even then the author was able to throw in some killer twists. A point of pride for me is my ability to catch on to small bits of foreshadowing and figure out where the story is headed, and when I guess something huge, something that I feel the author would have though impossible to guess, I surge with pride. However, I still find myself more entertained and more delighted to see when an author pulls the rug out from under me and creates a major wrinkle in the story that alters how the series will proceed from here on out. While there wasn't anything that cataclysmic that went on in this book there are things that will be small game changers and hopefully add to an exciting third installment.

Ending: As we get to the end of the book, and honestly I would consider this book as having a substantial ending as, after a certain point, there's an air of tension that doesn't go away until after the final climax. There's a lot that revealed in this ending so I won't spend too much time talking about it and I won't spoil anything, but this story does create a turning point in the narrative. Soon enough it becomes clear where this series is going next, both in the literal sense, as in which kingdom we're visiting next, and more in the metaphoric with the main goals of our characters. The final climax winds things down and brings in some new wrinkles to the story that if they pan out like I hope and expect it will make for a very exciting next installment.

Rating:


This book is incredible. I love how the story of this world evokes the same feelings as a Rick Riordan book, and yet still has something about it that makes it incredibly unique. While there were a few things I was hoping to see in this book, it looks like that may be saved for book 3, so I'm appeased for now, but still chomping at the bit for what comes next!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review: The Wish Granter (Ravenspire #2)

Release Date: February 14, 2017
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 432 pages
Source: eGalley via Edelweiss

An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

    

Review:

Characters: The way this story starts out is interesting. At first, we get a glimpse into the mind of our main villain, Alistair Teague. We see him approach young Theo Glavan, in his most desperate of moments and we see how he gets Theo to agree to the terms that he sets, it's all very compelling. (Especially of you imagine being read in a sinister voice, not just Teague's dialogue, but the exposition as well) We see Teague as this jaded fae, untrusting of humans, believing them to all be selfish at heart. It's a prologue that draws you into this story and more specifically into a curiosity of who Teague was in the past and what happened to make him so cruel and power hungry. Then the actual story starts. We meet Ari, now officially a princess of Súndraille, yet defying nearly every convention of what a princess should be. She's not demure, she will eat what she wants when she wants, and if you get on her bad side, heaven help you. Through the story, we discover just how far she'll go to protect those she cares about and just how much strength she has to see her friends, her family, and her country safe from Teague. Then there's Sebastian. Sebastian is that type of broken character that you just want to hug and reassure that everything will be alright. He has a surprising connection to Teague's criminal empire, though despises the fae and everything he stands for. His journey is much more internal. Like I said he's a bit broken, he suffers from PTSD due to an abusive childhood and has anxiety issues that resonated very strongly with me. I love how Redwine writes such in-depth characters and even gives you a glimpse into the villain to learn about and understand them as the story goes along.

Romance: Since Ari grew up a bastard princess she was never treated as a member of the nobility, because of that she treats everyone the way they deserve to be treated, not the way others of her now higher station treat them. After searching out Sebastian, her brother's new weapons master, in hopes he can help her with her brother's Wish Granter problem, they form an unlikely friendship, mainly due to Ari's relentless pursuit of a friendship with the young weapons master. As they grow closer as friends, it's obvious there's something more there. The romance unfolds at a great even pace. The characters fit so well together, and I never felt like the author was forcing things to go too fast or running toward an end goal with them, but rather chronicling their romance as it would naturally happen. This, of course, led me to root for the couple through all their trials and tribulations, mostly external as there actually wasn't a lot of romantic drama between the two, and made me feel that it's almost serendipitous that this book comes out of Valentine's Day.

World Building: After reading The Shadow Queen, I was itching to get back into this world, and while we only have one little cameo from previously seen characters, I ended up loving this book more than the first. In this book we visit the kingdom of Súndraille and follow a story inspired by the classic fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin, I say inspired by and not based off of or a retelling of because while it does involve a wish granting fae entrapping someone into a deal that's nearly impossible to break, this wasn't a retelling. It's its own story that merely shares similar themes to the fairy tale. I wasn't bothered that this wasn't really a retelling as the story is so compelling I couldn't put it down. In this book, we learn more about the fae who reside in Llorenyae and each bit of info we get makes me more and more excited for a possible book taking place in that kingdom. It follows pretty standard fae lore, Winter and Summer Kingdoms, magical folk, etc. all of which is so enthralling. We do see a bit of another fairy tale in this one, I won't say how, but I was sort of giddy, for no real reason, when it's brought up, but it just speaks to this incredible fairy-tale inspired world the author has created.

Predictability: Since the last tale in this companion novel trilogy followed out heroes as they traversed across the kingdom of Ravenspire, I was interested to see if our new heroes would also set out of a kingdom trekking journey, however, it became obvious very early on that this story all takes place inside of the capital city of Súndraille. Because of that, the pacing of the book is a bit different, focusing more on the knowledge needed to defeat their enemy than the magical strength required to oppose them. As the story moves on things begin to pop up, bits of information that over time begin to tie together. While there were a few twists to the story that I saw coming, due to the different pacing my guards were down and most of the time that a twist was coming up, all I really had to go on was the feeling that something was brewing, but never really being able to pinpoint what. This led to a lot of great tension filled moments that left me nearly breathless as I scanned the pages (screen?) to find out what happened next and how this twist would play into the story. It was exhilarating.

Ending: Does anybody else notice that the closer you get to the end of a book, the faster you read or is that just me? As the ending of this book commenced I was glued to the words I was reading. The final climax of this book was phenomenal as things didn't quite go the way I expected and watching our heroes face their final trials against the fae crime lord left me speechless most of the time. Since this is a standalone companion novel everything wraps up rather neatly, for better or worse, and every second I got closer to the end, the more I realized I never wanted it to end. However, I am pleased with the closure this story has, and am torn because, on the one hand, I love this story, but on the other, the wait for the next adventure in this world is going to eat away at me day by day, I just know it.

Rating:


Given the glowing review I gave this book, it should come as no surprise that I gave this book five stars. I love this book even more than the first. The world building is immaculate, the characters are enchanting, and the romance is to die for!

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