Saturday, March 31, 2012

News - Book Releases for Week 14 (Apr 1st-Apr 7th)


Friday, March 30, 2012

Early Review - The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1) by Jennifer A Nielsen (5/5 stars)

Reading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: April 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-0545284134
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Ascendence Trilogy series
Source: From Publisher for Review
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the first book in the Ascendance Trilogy. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. From the very first page this was a wonderful book. The main character is funny, snarky, and sneaky. This is a great middle grade fantasy that people of all ages will love; its full of lots of intrigue and twists and turns.

Sage is just trying to survive at the orphanage he lives at when he literally runs into Connor. Connor wants Sage for a mysterious purpose. Ends up that the young prince of the realm disappeared years ago and Connor wants a young man to pretend to be that prince. Now Sage will be duking it out against two others boys in an intense two week training course to see who will do the best and win the place of false prince.

Sage pretty much makes this book. He is incredibly resourceful, disrespectful, snarky, funny, and sincere all at once. For a young thief he has quite the attitude and you can't help but root for him the whole time. He is always out to help those who need help, but also likes to help himself.

Sage's tone is light-hearted and sarcastic for most of the novel; I laughed out loud a number of times and found myself grinning widely most of the rest of the time. That's not to say it's all laughs; Sage is involved in some heavy court intrigue and has to make some tough decisions.

The characters surrounding Sage are all very well done. Connor is a character that's hard to figure out in the he here to help the kingdom or is he a traitor? It's an interesting mystery for the reader to unravel. All of the characters have strong personalities and a lot of depth to their characters.

Having the boys pitted against each other creates an interesting dynamic; this suspense of who will be the False Prince really drives the story forward and makes it hard to stop reading. While this premise seems fairly straight forward, as the story continues things get more and more complicated. There are some truly wonderful twists in the plot that will have the reader absolutely astounded. The resolution was kind of predictable but the skill with which everything came together was impressive and the irony involved highly entertaining.

The writing is very natural sounding and easy to read, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The story ties up nicely in this book, so no horrible cliffhangers. Things are also set up well for continuation of the series in future books.

Overall I absolutely loved this book right from the first page. Sage is funny, resourceful, and completely full of it...he is absolutely entertaining to read about. All of the characters are well done. The book is hard to put down because the competition between the boys really draws the reader in. I loved how this simple premise gets more and more complex; this is a very intelligent and well done story full of mystery and intrigue. In some ways it reminded me a bit of Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, it also reminds a bit of John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series. I highly recommend this book to fans of middle grade fantasy; in fact I think it would be a highly entertaining read for readers of all ages. I can't wait to see what happens in the 2nd book!

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- Debut Author Reading Challenge

Review - Black Howl (Madeline Black, Book 3) by Christina Henry (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 288 pages
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: February 28, 2012
ISBN: 978-1937007331
Stand Alone or Series: 3rd book in the Madeline Black series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the third book in the Madeline Black series by Henry. The fourth book will be titled, Black Lament, and is scheduled to release in October 2012. This book was a great addition to the series. It is a story of be careful what you wish for and it was interesting to see Maddy's careless behavior finally catch up to her.

Maddy is an Agent of Death, the granddaughter of Lucifer, and learning to control her dark angelic powers. Her boss is getting upset because unscheduled ghosts are turning up in the streets acting strangely. He wants Maddy to figure out what is going on. Maddy is also contacted by the local werewolves' second-in-commander; their pack leader has gone missing along with all of the werewolf children and Maddy needs to figure out where they all went before it is too late. Additionally Maddy is still trying to outrun her demonic father and mend the relationship between her and Gabriel, her thrall.

Henry does enough recapping to jog your memory, but I wouldn't recommend starting on this book without reading the previous two. I enjoy Maddy's snarky attitude and reckless behavior; although I have often wondered when Maddy's enemies would finally catch up to her. Well in this book they finally do. It is kind of fun to watch Maddy get angry and loose it because when she does she does it in a mass destruction type of way. I also love how she throws down against huge immortal baddies without even batting an eyelash; in some scenes it is kind of hilarious.

My hands down favorite character is still Beezle; you have to love this lovable and humorous gargoyle...I mean I seriously want my own pet gargoyle now! Nathaniel is back, not my favorite guy but you learn more about what makes him tick in this story. Lucifer is also in this story quite a bit more; it was great to learn more about his personality and character and after this book he doesn't feel so much evil to me as complex.

Gabriel is in the story as well; him and Maddy finally get a little romance in their lives. The story is fast-paced, full of some great action, and the plot (which seems straight-forward to begin with) gets bigger and bigger and blossoms into a complex plot of epic proportions...yet it is still easy to follow yet full of surprises.

The ending of the book was full of some huge revelations and surprises; it left me dying to know what will happen in the next book.

Overall this is a fast-paced, action packed read that is part of a solid and enjoyable urban fantasy series. Maddy is sarcastic and snarky and gets beat up a lot (reminds me of Harry Dresden from that aspect) but she is also determined to hold her own. Maddy's reckless behavior catches up to her in this novel. All the wonderful characters from the previous books are here. The plot starts out simple but ends up complex and is full of wonderful surprises at the end. I definitely recommend this novel to fans of urban fantasy; the angelic bent to this series is different than your typical vamp/were series and makes for a different and fun read.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review - Havoc (Deviants, Book 2) by Jeff Sampson (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 24, 2012
ISBN: 978-0061992780
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Deviants series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the second book in the Deviants series by Sampson. This was originally planned as a trilogy but I wasn't able to find info on when the third book will release. It is a well written and engaging book that puts an interesting twist on YA werewolf stories.

Emily is hoping life will return to normal, or at least what passes for normal when you have nighttime superpowers and can turn into a werewolf. That's when the strange Shadowmen start appearing and harassing her. Emily and crew need to figure out the mystery behind their condition and what these Shadowmen are. As she tries to unravel this mystery she finds that her and her pack aren't the only ones with strange powers at school.

This was a solid addition to the Deviants series. I love the idea behind this series. Basically these kids were genetically engineered or altered somehow resulting in them having three personalities: their normal day personality, their crazy superhero nighttime personality, and their werewolf form. Watching Emily try to merge these personalities is fascinating and interesting.

There is a bit of a love triangle here with Emily and the two other pack members; basically Emily is drawn to one boy and the other boy is drawn to Emily. That being said, this really isn't a romance and there isn't a ton of focus on that aspect of the story.

The book is well written and easy to read, it is hard to put down because the mystery behind Emily's powers is so compelling. I love the creativity that goes into the story and how even Emily's attraction to her "mate" has a scientific explanation. I absolute love the blending of science with supernatural.

Emily is an intriguing character, as are all of the characters. It is really interesting to see how the three main characters deal with their nighttime personas and with the stress of trying to supress all of this strangeness and fit in at school. Definitly a different take on the teenage werewolf type story.

The book ends well with the major plot points answered, but some huge new questions are opened up to be dealt with in the next book. This book does get a little creepy/thriller like at points because of all the Shadowmen that are lurking around; it never gets too scary but things do get a bit tense at points.

Overall I really enjoyed this story and found the mystery extremely compelling. I find the way Sampson blends science with the supernatural very intriguing. I also really enjoy watching Emily and crew deal with their split personalities and try to merge these personalities into a cohesive whole. I definitely recommend this series to YA paranormal fans out there; especially if you want to read a different type of YA werewolf book.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 3/28

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is The Prophet (The Graveyard Queen, Book 3) by Amanda Stevens .  
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Mira 
Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Mira
ISBN-13: 978-0778313397

Synopsis from
"My name is Amelia Gray.

I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I’ve broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I’ve vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.

Now I’m faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart."

Review - Reign Fall (Demon Princess, Book 3) by Michelle Rowen (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Size: 282 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release Date: January 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-1468064001
Stand Alone or Series: 3rd book in the Demon Princess series
Source: Bought for Kindle
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the third book in the Demon Princess series; the 4th book, Reign Storm, is supposed to be out later this year and is the final book in this series. I really enjoy this series; the books are easy to read and lots of fun. I love watching Nikki as she tries to balance her life as a student and as a demon princess.

Nikki is trying to recover from the events of the last book and her trip to Hell. Michael, Nikki's shadow boyfriend, is having some strange after-effects from absorbing the other shadow, Jarvis, who threatened Nikki's life in book 2. Nikki loves Michael but something is wrong with him and he seems to be a danger not only to himself but also Nikki. Can Rhys lend a helping hand and help Nikki figure out the mystery behind the Shadow's problems?

These books are a lot of fun and have wonderful characters. I will admit that this book was more drama than the previous books and not nearly as much action. I am more of an action person, but I do love these characters so I was okay with reading the drama too. Watching Nikki try and deal with her demon-slaying best friend was a hoot and there are some interesting things that happen in this book on that front.

Rhys is actually in the story a lot more than Michael and it was fun to watch him and Nikki interact. We get to see a side of Rhys that we haven't seen in previous book and watch as he matures into a more responsible Fairy King.

Michael's character is much darker in this book; he is dealing with some heavy repercussions from the events in book 2. His need for secrecy is driving Nikki and him apart. He does spend some time training Nikki to use her demon powers and it was fun to watch Nikki explore her power and get better at controlling it.

We also get to meet part of Nikki's dad's castle and that was pretty cool. Yes, I did say meet the person...kind of.

The story ends on a pretty big cliffhanger and I am dying to know what will happen to Michael and the Shadowlands.

Overall a solid addition to the series. I really enjoy this series; I loved the characters and find that it is just a wonderfully easy and fun read. I am so happy that Rowen decided to complete it. I absolutely cannot wait to see how things turn out in the final book, Reign Storm. These aren't heavy books or incredilby creative books; but they are really well written, lots of fun, and full of great characters. If you love YA paranormal reads I highly recommend this series.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Early Review - The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats (5/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Release Date: April 17, 2012
ISBN: 978-0547688374
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: From Amazon Vine for Review
Rating: 5/5 stars

I got an advanced reading copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. When I started this book the main character just annoyed me, but as I continued reading it I got totally sucked into the story and couldn't put the book down. It ended up being an absolutely wonderful historical fantasy read.

This book is told from two viewpoints designated by two different fonts of type. The first viewpoint is Cecily; a privaleged English girl who is being forced to move to Wales because of her father's debts. Cecily thinks she is entitled to good living and is despertately unhappy that she has to give up good English living to be the lady of a manor in a backwater Wales town. The second viewpoint is Gwen; Gwen was the lady of the house until Wales was overrun by the English. Now Gwen is a servant in Cecily's house. Gwen is struggling just to survive and dealing with Cecily is not her idea of fun. Both girls are struggling to survive in different environments and the politics that surround them are tumultuous and out of their control.

When I started reading this book Cecily really really annoyed me. She is such a brat. As the book goes on you learn that there is more to Cecily than meets the eye. Cecily is not blind to the persecution of the Welsh people around her, yet she still feels entitled to her good life. Cecily ends up becoming a very real character who is torn between believing her father and English propaganda and learning from what she sees happening to the people around her.

Gwen is also a very complex character and I had more compassion for her right off the bat. If anything drives Gwen it is anger; anger at her position, at how her people are treated, and at Cecily. Again as the story continues we see that Gwen is also very complex; she understands Cecily's viewpoint and wonders how she would act in Cecily's position.

Watching these two girls, at first polar opposites, interact was fascinating. The thing that compels the story forward the most though is the impending sense of doom throughout. There are so many things going on here that are just wrong, as a reader you know things are going to implode at some point. This made it so I just couldn't put this book down. I knew something horrible was going to happen eventually, but I didn't know what it was or what our characters would have to endure by the end.

This book is written to describe an event in English/Welsh history and it is fairly accurate. As such I would recommend for older YA readers. There is an attempted rape scene in here, occasional bouts of torture and gore, and Gwen is forced to endure a lot of physical sexual harassment to survive. None of it is inappropriate and it all stays true to the story, but just a warning.

Coats has a wonderful afterward that addresses the actual history behind this book. While this story is a fictional account it is meant to replicate actual historical events. The story wraps up like real life wraps up; life goes on and the characters do the best they can.

Overall I ended up being blown away by this book. When I started it I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but as I kept reading I was absolutely enthralled by the story...I seriously lost so much sleep staying up late to finish this book. The characters are so realistic and so complex. I think that what makes the story so engaging is the realness to it. The other thing that made it engaging is the sense of impending doom that hangs over the story; you just know all the bad things happening are going to culminate to something horrible. Highly recommended for fans of historical fantasy/fiction. In fact I would recommend everyone read this; it is an excellent fictional account of a tumultuous time in history and very well written.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- Debut Author Reading Challenge