Monday, September 18, 2017

PAPER AND FIRE by Rachel Caine/ODD & TRUE by Cat Winters/LITTLE MONSTERS by Kara Thomas



Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2)

Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…
What I thought:
First, since this is the second book in The Great Library series, here's my review of INK & BONE: My Review of INK AND BONE
Suffice it to say I loved PAPER AND FIRE, but really, love isn't a strong enough word. 
PAPER AND FIRE builds on all the things I loved in INK AND BONE and then takes it to the next level. This story, y'all! These characters! 
Jess is the MC, and I could follow him for days and days, because he's so complex and I love his voice, but there's an ensemble cast, and they're all so fleshed out and alive on the page. (Ahem. Dear Author, Please don't kill anyone.)
There is so much attention to detail here, and the world-building is spectacular, but it's perfectly balanced so the story never lags. The action keeps coming and the pacing feels effortless. I couldn't put it down. 
Rachel Caine is a master at storytelling and I can't get enough of this series. So, yes, I highly recommend it. Read this! Read this! Read this! 
Rating: ****** (5 stars and I need more stars)
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Odd & True

The story switches POV back and forth between the two sisters, Odette and Trudchen, and, not only did that work to keep me on the edge of my seat, but it also kept the story barreling forward. The pace was super quick and the story was compelling. 
I really enjoyed this and definitely recommend it. 
Rating: ***** (4 1/2 stars)
*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Little Monsters

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.
 
What I thought: 
Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. I loved how flawed she is. The story is  well told and I was flying along, flipping pages, desperate to find out what happened next. 
It's hard to delve too deep here without giving anything away, and NO SPOILERS. The only thing that detracted from the story, for me, what that the ending felt rushed. Not that the end wasn't compelling, because it was, but I thought that maybe it could've been laid out in a way that felt more immediate. 
Overall, a really great read and I can't wait to read what Kara Thomas writes next.
Rating: ***** (4.5 stars)
*I received an ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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RATING SCALE: 
 5* = OMFG loved it. Will read it again. Touch my book and I will cut you. 
 4* = Really good. Highly recommend. Miiiight reread. Maybe. Don't touch my book. 
 3* = Good. I liked it. Go ahead and touch it. 
 2* = Not for me, finished but struggled. Didn't connect. Here, have a book.
 1* = DNF. Couldn't do it.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

GODSGRAVE by Jay Kristoff

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Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2)

A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
What I thought: 
Holy shit! This book! THIS BOOK! 

Okay, first things first. If you haven't read NEVERNIGHT, here's my review: MY REVIEW OF NEVERNIGHT

Go ahead, read it. Then read the book. I'll wait... Well, maybe I won't wait. I'm sure you'll catch up. 

So what did I think about GODSGRAVE?

Jay Kristoff is... IDK. I can't judge him personally but his writing is brilliant. Mia is the most kick-ass character to ever bleed on the sand and WTF just happened? I was worried that GODSGRAVE would be a pale imitation of NEVERNIGHT and I could not have been more wrong. Sass and sarcasm. Check. Sex. Check. Blood and guts and gore. #stabstabstab. 

There is violence and then there is violence and Mr. Kristoff has elevated hacking off limbs and severing heads to fucking poetry. It's like a brutal ballet and I couldn't stop watching the blood splash across the page. The story is all twisty and turny (yes, that's a word now) and... and... and... I need the next book. 

What the fuck just happened! Jay Kristoff is a monster. He's my favorite monster. 

*screams incoherently for hours* *stares at mailbox waiting for my special editions to arrive* *makes room on bookshelf next to 3 versions of NEVERNIGHT*

Rating: ****** (6 bloody stars)
*I received an ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and I honestly loved it! Huge thanks to St. Martin's Press! Getting this ARC made me so happy.



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

NYXIA by Scott Reintgen



Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)

Emmett Atwater isn't just leaving Detroit; he's leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden--a planet that Babel has kept hidden--where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel's ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won't forever compromise what it means to be human.
 

What I thought:

This book started out slow for me. A dozen plus names in the span of a few chapters and not much happening and I almost DNFed it. Then the action started and carried me along. There is a lot to like here. I'm all in for contests and rivalry, and that the game changes along the way certainly upped the tension. I loved the diversity. I wish I connected more with the MC. Sometimes he felt a little flat, but overall a really good story and I will definitely pick up the next book in the series to see what happens next. 
Rating: **** (4 stars)
*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read Nyxia? Had you heard of it before? What are you reading? What are you dying to get your hands on next? I love comments and you can always find me on twitter @chellypike!

What I'm reading next

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman/ The Border by Steve Schafer/Legs by Kelly Siskind:



Starfish

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.
 
What I thought:
Wow. Just, wow. This book is everything. Is. Not has. Is. This book IS everything. This is the book I needed, well, let's just say twenty years ago, because that's a nice round number. Kiko Himura. Sigh. I want to hug her. 

The writing is gorgeous. The imagery is insanely good. No matter where you're from, what you look like, how you're raised, I think most teenagers suffer the same range of insecurities--to vary degrees, of course. I think a lot of people suffer from the feeling that they're on the outside looking in, and I loved how well this book portrays that emotion. 

I finished reading this around midnight and had to stop myself from barging into my daughter's room and waking her up so she could start reading RIGHT NOW. 

All the feels. READ this book! 
  
Rating: ***** (five sparkly starfish)
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The Border

One moment changed their lives forever.

A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them.

Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...
What I thought:
This isn't a title I would've picked up on my own. That said, there were parts of it that I really enjoyed and parts that I found just meh. The pacing is strong and the story moved forward at a good rate, which is probably what kept me reading until the end. 

Lots of action. Even where the story slows, things are still happening and the tension is there. I think the biggest thing that held me back on this one was that I never really felt a connection. I kept turning pages to find out what happened next, but not because I cared specifically for the fate of any particular character, but in that train-wreck sort of way where you just stare at the carnage. There was an emotional distance here and, while the characters were well-drawn, for me, they remained mostly flat. 

The story is well-written and fast-paced and, even though it's fiction, I think it helps paint a face on current immigration issues and what some have to sacrifice in order to survive. Overall a good read.  
Rating: **** (3.5 stars)
*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Legs (One Wild Wish, #1)


Running into your one-night stand is a special kind of awkward. Competing against him in a wine tasting contest is delicious torment…On Rachel’s twenty-seventh birthday, she wishes to finally find a rewarding job. What she doesn’t wish is to drink a boatload of wine, sleep with a tattooed bad boy, and drunk email her boss in one glorious, career-ending move. But the fiasco pushes her to pursue a career inspired by her late father’s love of wine: sommelier. 

Unfortunately, she’s competing against her infuriating one-night stand, a man as intoxicating as a Pinot Noir.

Two years ago, Jimmy was set to inherit his family winery. Then it got ripped from his grasp. To close that dark chapter of his life, he plans to win a local sommelier contest and use the press to expose his family’s tainted wines. 

Jimmy loves studying the streaks of alcohol that cling to a wineglass, known as the wine’s “legs,” but other shapely legs are stealing his focus. Tantalizing legs. Legs that had wrapped around his waist for one wild night. Jimmy, sadly, has a weakness for legs. 

He also hates to lose.

What I thought:
Yes. Just yes. Yes to Rachel. Yes to Jimmy. And the two of them together... wow! Hot! I didn't really need a plot. I mean, yes, there is one, and it's great, but I'd have been content with 250 pages of them banging away. The chemistry here is off-the-charts. So, just yes.  
Rating: ***** (4 1/2 stars)

*I received an eARC of this title from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading. If you liked my reviews, please leave me a comment or find me on twitter @chellypike.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Re-read of Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey



Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Universe #1)

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good... and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt. 

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission... and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair... and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear. 

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.

What I thought:
So, I read this last year, but never formally reviewed it because it's been out in the world a loooooong time and I was way late to the party. But, this book is on my keeper-shelf for a reason. 
This book destroyed me the first time I read it. It's an emotional boulder falling off a cliff, and, I, like an idiot, keep walking beneath it. Because, really, the second time, I know what happens. I'm prepared. Right? 
*Snorts* How could I have been so naive? But, much like Phedre, (the main character), I'm drawn to the pain of it, and I will read this book again and again. 
Never has a story consumed me like this one. Never. I have never been so devastated over a character. I've never sobbed so freaking hard over fictional happenings. OMG, every love and every loss is magnified because their Phedre's first, and then their mine. 
So, yeah, I've never seen so clearly through the lens of a character before, but it's not just one of them. There is quite a cast here and there's not a single one without depth. I mean, seriously, when you prop this book open, there should be holographic people walking across the damn pages. 
Epic. 
Sweeping plot. 
Intrigue. 
Love. 
Loss. 
Betrayal.
Loyalty.
Passion.
This book is everything. I'll say it's probably not for the squeamish, I think. I'm hard to shock, really, so it felt perfectly natural to follow a prostitute across a continent or two. I suppose that might be a moral hurdle for some. But the prose here is gorgeous and Phedre's trips though the occasional boudoir are tastefully done.
I love this book.   

Rating: ****** (6 stars)



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN by Emily R. King/THE RED by Tiffany Reisz/KILLING JUNE by May Bridges



The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1)

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.
 

What I thought:
For me, the best thing about this book was the cover. I had high hopes. I wanted to love it. Reviews compared it to THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh and I was all grabby hands. The first page was promising... 

And then it swirled down the toilet from there. 
Gaping plot holes. For example, something very important that happens is supposed to be an act of revenge, but it happens before the MC does the thing that pisses the guy off. Wut? 
The writing was flat. The voice was monotonous, plodding along like a tired horse. And then it was a camel without any explanation. (Sorry. Notsorry.) Lazy metaphors and a sprinkling a blood and gore are not enough for me. There was no tension. None. There was insta-love. No sparks. No chemistry. Kalinda had so much potential, but then she describes the first man she sees (from a distance) and suddenly she's waxing poetic about boy-parts and manly man-ness. Nope. 
The surprises weren't surprising. I made it all the way to the end, but this one was not for me. Other people really love it, so judge for yourself. 

Rating: ** (1 1/2 stars)

*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Red


Hot. Hot. Hot. Like erotic romance? Like fantasy? Then this book is for you. 
SEDUCED BY PAIN
At night I’m June, dominating with the whip, even as I crave the hot, searing blow of the cane, myself. I loathe this side of who I am, but I can’t deny it or escape it. And as my clients cry out for me, begging for mercy, I can't help but want June dead.

By day, I’m Alex Ryan, the good, successful Southern woman everyone thinks I am. I’ve compartmentalized my life to make it bearable, and to get what I want most: revenge. I can have a future with June dead, as soon as I confront the man that terrorized my past.

SAVED BY SIN
Cade Brannon is the local gun for hire, part of the seedy underworld of Dallas, but he may also be my savior. I want his help and he wants me. But Cade refuses to play by my rules and is forcing his way into every one of those compartments that I want to lock away. Now the parts of my life I’ve fought so hard to keep separate are bleeding together and it’s tearing me apart.

I just want to go back to being Alex Ryan. But at what cost am I willing to kill June?
 


What I thought:

Dark and sexy. Did I mention dark? I love the darker side of romance. June/Alex dominated the pages, (wink wink) but it's not just BDSM for the fun of it. There's an emotional current here that takes the story to a deeper level. I can't wait for the next book in this series. Like your romance dark? Then this one's for you!

Rating: **** (4 stars)

*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



-Chelly


Monday, June 12, 2017

TOWARD A SECRET SKY by Heather Maclean & MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller





Toward a Secret Sky

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.
 
What I thought:
I loved the setting. Scotland. Pretty much all I need to say about that, because, Scotland. Sigh. I found the main character, Maren, interesting. She's portrayed as intelligent and she's got this thing for solving puzzles. The story's well-written and the plot kept me turning pages, but I couldn't get on-board with the romance. Insta-love. Sure he's dreamy and whatnot, but the oh-my-God-so-many-feels drama was too over the top for me. Hopefully, the next installment will have less swooning and more action. 
Rating: *** (3 stars)
*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1)

So why not 5 stars? 
he ending seemed way too easy and, because of that, kind of, sort of, implausible. 
So, I was a little disappointed, but it wasn't enough to destroy all the great stuff that came before that point.
I recommend this book for those who like their stories on the darker side. Instead of comparing it to Maas and Bardugo, I'd say for fans of NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff and AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White
What are you reading? Any books out there that I will totally need but don't know exist? I love recommendations and comments. :D 
If you like my reviews, please subscribe via email (I will never use your email for anything else ever. Pinky promise.) or Bloglovin. And you can find me on twitter: @ChellyPike

Happy reading,

Chelly