Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: The Wish Granter, by C. J. Redwine

The Wish Granter by C. J. Redwine book cover and review
I'm going to be honest. Books about magic and fairies are not, in general, my thing.  But I was very entertained by The Wish Granter. This is the second book in the Ravenspire series.  The first was The Shadow Queen, which I also enjoyed. These are really separate fairy tale stories. I can't remember any of the characters overlapping, but it's been a while so I might be wrong.  You definitely don't need to read The Shadow Queen first, although, why not?

At the beginning of the book, we see Thad making a wish that will cost him dearly.  In order to save the life of his sister, Ari, he vows to become the King of SĂșndraille and to not meddle in the nefarious affairs of the wish granter, Alistair Teague.

So while Thad is a puppet king and Teague terrorizes and oppresses the townspeople, Ari is trying to figure out how to get Thad out of this horrible contract.  She has ten years because, after that, Thad's soul belongs to Teague.

Many new people are being hired to work for the king, and Sebastian is the new weapons master. He comes from a poor background, and his dad has terrorized Sebastian since he was a small boy.  His father works for Teague.  His mother is a drug addict because of Teague.  Sebastian is hoping to make enough money to build himself a cabin away from everyone.  Ari elicits his help to make her some weapons made of iron and to teach her how to use them.  Iron is supposedly one of the things that can kill the fae.

Sebastian and Ari begin to become friends and then much more.  They are together in the fight to figure out how to stop Teague.  It isn't easy.  Teague is strong and has eyes and ears everywhere. No one is safe. But Ari is one of the toughest female characters I've read in a while.  And she isn't going to stop until she succeeds.  It makes for an interesting matchup.

While there are fairytale elements, The Wish Granter is exciting and feels very serious.  This is not for the faint of heart and includes quite a bit of brutality and murders. The closer I got to the end, the more worried I got that this book wasn't going to end well. I never believed Ari was going to be able to overpower Teague. My worries were unfounded, and I ended up loving the way The Wish Granter ended.

The only niggle I had with The Wish Granter is the way the romance unfolds. It's obvious from the minute we meet Sebastian that he will provide the romantic element.  The reader doesn't need to be hit over the head with it.  I laughed when Ari referred over and over to Sebastian's "very intriguing shoulders."  What does that mean? Those strange observations were unnecessary. We get it.

The tension mounts perfectly, and as I got closer and closer to the end, I wanted to read faster and faster!  There is no better recommendation than that. Can't wait to give The Wish Granter to my teens.  It's a lot of fun.

Published by Balzer + Bray, February 14, 2017
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
432 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Stacking the Shelves: Edelweiss Jackpot!


If you haven't checked out Edelweiss this week, there are gobs of YA titles available.  I held back, but there were many I would have liked to get!  Here's what I DID get (for the past two weeks):

For Review:
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray book cover
Defy the Stars, by Claudia Gray from NetGalley

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson book cover
City of Saints & Thieves, by Natalie C. Anderson from NetGalley

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi book cover
A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi from NetGalley
sequel to The Star-Touched Queen, which I need to read first!

Dreamfall by Amy Plum book cover
Dreamfall by Amy Plum from Edelweiss

Blight, by Alexandra Duncan book cover
Blight, by Alexandra Duncan from Edelweiss

Avenged by Amy Tintera book cover
Avenged, by Amy Tintera from Edelweiss
sequel to Ruined

I got some great books, while also keeping my pile under control. Well, by "under control" I mean my proverbial stack of books is enormous but only getting a little bit bigger...

Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Leave me a link!





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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: The Cruelty, by Scott Bergstrom

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom book cover and review
The Cruelty is appropriately titled because this book is cruel!

Gwendolyn is a normal New York teen who has traveled extensively as her father gets posted to different places around the world for his job with the state department.  When he disappears, she finds out he has lied to her all these years because he is really a CIA agent.  And the CIA has quit looking for him, thinking he has disappeared on his own.

Gwendolyn refuses to believe this and takes it upon herself to find out what happened to her dad.  As she travels across the globe, she gets mixed up with some seedy people -- some are helpful and others not so much.

As she gets closer and closer to the truth about her dad, she gets herself into more and more danger. And she becomes a ruthless killer who will do anything to save her father.  This is the part I had some problems with.  I just don't think a "normal" 17-year-old can make such an about-face in a few short weeks.  Even with her supposed training.  Her entire personality and attitude totally and completely changes.

But....this book is exciting!  She encounters more and more danger as she goes.  She gets lucky a few times and makes some bad decisions. But mostly she is just relentless in her pursuit of her goal.  She's creative, resourceful, and very tough.  If you shy away from violence, you should know that Gwendolyn doesn't, and The Cruelty isn't your book.  It is very graphic.

And don't expect a complete "happy ever after" ending -- yes, Gwendolyn is in a safe place, but she's not the same person and never will be.  Which brings me to a possible sequel -- I'm ready!

Teens who are fans of high-octane action will surely love The Cruelty. And it's been optioned for a movie so it may become even more popular.

Published by Feiwel & Friends, February 7, 2017
eARC obtained from NetGalley
384 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Review: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles @MrJeffGiles

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles book cover and review
The Edge of Everything is a good mix of adventure, survival, and a bit of the supernatural.

Zoe's life has been tough lately.  Her father was recently killed in a caving accident.  A blizzard is coming, and when her mom leaves her with her very energetic little brother, she lets him go outside with their two dogs.  He gets lost in the blizzard, and Zoe must go find him.  She's near death herself when she finds him and carries him to a neighbor's house that has been empty since their deaths.  But they aren't alone, and when she is attacked by a brutal stranger, a mysterious man saves her and attempts to kill the attacker.

The mysterious man is a bounty hunter from the Lowlands.  He's been sent to kill the man who attacked Zoe, and since Zoe asked him to let the man go, there's going to be "hell" to pay.  You see, the Lowlands is a place where evil people are taken when they die to become bounty hunters and bring other deserving souls to the Lowlands.  But "X," as Zoe names the mysterious man, is different than most souls in the Lowlands. And that's pretty much all I'm going to tell you.

Let's just get this issue out of the way:  The instalove is brutal.  I mean they fall for each other so fast it is mind boggling.  Now, let's move on.  Since X didn't fulfill his assignment, he must go back to the Lowlands, and he's sure to be punished.  He promises Zoe that he will someday come back to her...if he can.

In the meantime, Zoe is determined to make the authorities find her father's body deep inside a very dangerous cave, or else she's going to do it herself.

There is much more to the story and several more interesting characters.  The Edge of Everything really kept me entertained.  The danger mounts (several different times) and there are some big surprises.  I also had an issue with how reckless Zoe is when exploring the cave--she takes risks that I don't think were realistic, but I guess they were necessary to the story.

The big issues are unresolved at the end, but there is some closure for certain elements of the story. The Edge of Everything is an interesting mix of genres that I haven't seen much before, and I'm excited to read the sequel. I think my teens will enjoy it too.

Published by Bloomsbury, January 31, 2017
eARC obtained from NetGalley
368 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, January 30, 2017

Audio Book Review: Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley @noahhawley

Before the Fall book cover and review
Noah Hawley is an amazing writer.  Before the Fall, when you really sum it up, doesn't have a huge, intricate plot, but Hawley's writing just pulls you in and puts you there.  Has anyone read any of his other books? I need to read something else by him.

Before the Fall begins with a private plane crashing into the sea.  Scott, our main character, and a little 4-year-old boy survive, only because Scott swims with him (with an injured shoulder) for miles and miles.  It's truly a miracle.

The rest of Before the Fall introduces us to the other people on the plane who perished, as well as a news reporter and an NTSB investigator as we slowly piece together exactly what happened.  Was it an accident? Murder? The families on the plane are extremely wealthy, and one person is about to be indicted.  The media (one reporter in particular) go after anyone connected, and soon are targeting Scott, a struggling artist, as someone who might be responsible.

Each person is meticulously described,  And, while I sometimes feel overly descriptive texts to be annoyingly slow, I just found myself grabbed by the descriptions of characters and settings. You get these people. You understand them.  And I felt so sorry for Scott.  He really is a nice, honest person. And he becomes a target of the media.

As a side note, I love the cover.  I think it's perfect for this book.  And the audio version, narrated by Robert Petkoff, is excellent.

I was worried that I wasn't going to be happy with the ending.  After all the curiosity I had, I wanted to KNOW.  Well, I now know.  It's not that it mattered what happened, I wanted to know what happened and, more importantly, I wanted to know that Scott was going to be okay. I can enthusiastically recommend Before the Fall to adults, as well as teens who would appreciate this atmospheric story.

Published by Grand Central, 2016 (audio by Hachette)
Audiobook obtained from the library
400 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Stacking the Shelves - Two Weeks in a Row!

I'm trying to keep up and do this weekly like I used to.  So here are my additions for this week:

For Review:
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles book cover
The Edge of Everything, by Jeff Giles from NetGalley
I'm reading this now, and enjoying it!

The Leavers, by Lisa Ko book cover
The Leavers, by Lisa Ko from NetGalley
My tastes lately have been more towards adult titles, and this one just grabbed me for some reason.  A timely topic....

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova book cover
The Shadow Land, by Elizabeth Kostova from NetGalley
Another adult title.  I enjoyed The Historian and The Swan Thieves so I thought I'd give this a try.

Nemesis, by Brendan Reichs book cover
Nemesis, by Brenda Reichs from Edelweiss
Every review and blurb mentions the cliffhanger, so I need to prepare myself...

Those are my choices for this week.  How about you? What did you acquire? Leave me a link!  And don't forget to stop by Team Tynga's Reviews, who are our hosts. Thanks for stopping by.





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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Always by Sarah Jio

Always by Sarah Jio book cover and review
I have read most of Jio's novels, and after reading Always, I'm not going to change that.

Kailey and Ryan are about to be married.  Ryan's family is rich, and he's the perfect guy. Kailey couldn't be happier.  Then she encounters a homeless man and after looking into his eyes, realizes he is Cade, the man she was hopelessly in love with until he suddenly disappeared without a trace a few years ago.

You can see where this is going, right?  So I don't have to say too much more about the plot.

Now, this is a far-fetched premise.  To think that someone popular, wealthy, and successful would disappear on the streets of Seattle without anyone ever finding him is a stretch.  I mean, people don't become homeless overnight.  It just doesn't add up.  Oh well, just get past that.

Because these characters are lovable.  All of them.  You know that either Cade or Ryan is going to get hurt because Kailey truly loves both of them. She is so caring, and Ryan is so understanding, and what happened to Cade is just so unfair.  It's all very "good."

Another beef is that we don't really ever learn what happened to Cade.  Not entirely.  Especially the part about him leaving the hospital.  That's all I'll say.  I just wish all the loose ends were tied up.  It would have made it more believable if there was more of an explanation.

But Jio's stories are full of warmth and romance and these characters stole my heart.  If you are in the mood for a bit of a sappy love story, try Always. Her books are appropriate for teens who are romance fans, and I'll  be sure to tell them about this one. Jio's books always hit the spot with me, and I look forward to the next one.

Published by Ballentine, February 7, 2017
eARC obtained from NetGalley
288 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Review: Cruel Mercy by David Mark @davidmarkwriter

Cruel Mercy by David Mark, book cover and review
Detective Sargeant McAvoy risks his life again in another twisted mystery called Cruel Mercy.

McAvoy is headed to New York to work with Detective Alto who is investigating the disappearance and murder of some Irish men.  McAvoy's brother-in-law is one of the men who is missing, and two traveler families are about to feud if McAvoy can't find Valentine (the brother-in-law) and convince everyone that he's not the murderer.

As is always the case when McAvoy is involved, there's much more to this story.  And being a visitor instead of an official police officer isn't slowing him down very much.  He's determined to get to the bottom of it, and the bottom is very, very far down.

The Irish men, a boxer and his trainer, came to New York to have a chance at a professional boxing career.  The case involves the Russian and Italian mobs, a priest who has been convinced to help them, and some other really shady characters.

It wouldn't be a McAvoy novel if  Roisin (his wife) and Pharaoh (his boss) weren't a part of it.  And while I enjoyed their contributions, they were only via phone, and I didn't get enough.

That's a small complaint, really, since Cruel Mercy takes the usual twists and turns and has the usual macabre element and a significant amount of gore. I become enthralled in these tales trying to figure out where we are headed (and never being successful), and although Cruel Mercy is not my favorite McAvoy, if you enjoyed any of Mark's other novels, this one is definitely worth it.

And if you are interested in those other books, here are some links:  The Dark Winter, Original Skin, Taking Pity, and Sorrow Bound.

Published by Blue Rider Press, February 7, 2017
eARC obtained from Edelweiss and First to Read
368 pages

Rating: 4/5





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