June 27, 2017

Review: Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener

Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener
Paperback, 375 pages
Publication: July 18th, 2017 by Swoon Reads

If anyone had ever asked Delaney Grace what her plans were after high school, she certainly wouldn't have answered, "getting kidnapped". Unfortunately, that's exactly what happens. As if that wasn't enough, turns out the man kidnapping her isn't a local. He's from another planet. In a twisted case of mistaken identity, Delaney is taken to a foreign world where she's forced to pretend to be an alien princess. If she can pull it off long enough for the real princess to be found, she'll get to go home, if she doesn't, she risks enslaving the entire human race. Tricking the princess's betrothed, Trystan, isn't going to be easy, but not falling for Ruckus, her accidental kidnapper, might be an even bigger feat. Especially when the three of them get caught up in a deadly game of truth or dare. Will Delaney be able to pull off the acting job of a lifetime, or will she ultimately be the cause of a massive war? One the human race most likely won't survive. 

I have mixed feelings about Amid Stars and Darkness, but at the end of the day I have to say I really enjoyed it!

The characters were quite entertaining. Delaney is snarky and tough. Her lack of self-preservation could have been the death of her a handful of times, but she just doesn’t stop, and I loved that. You tell ‘em, girl! I liked Ruckus well enough, but I have to say I found Trystan more compelling as a character.

Now, I will say there are some things I would have liked to have seen done differently. The world building leaves much to be desired, for one. I also wish there had been more depth to the story. I think this had the potential to be multi-layered and phenomenal, but at the end of the day it’s lacking that umph. Ultimately, it’s just a light fun read that happens to involve space and aliens. 

Did Amid Stars and Darkness blow me away? No. But do I recommend it? Absolutely. It was an entertaining read and though I’d hoped for a bit more, I can’t help but smile when I think about this one.

June 26, 2017

Review: Raised in Fire by K.f. Breene

Title: Raised in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #2)
Author: K.F. Breene
Published: May 16, 2017 (Kindle edition, 432 pages)
Genre: Urban Fantasy

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It is a common truth in my life that when it rains, it pours. 

The killings that once plagued New Orleans are cropping up again in Seattle. The local office is stumped. I’m called out to lend a fresh set of eyes, and my unique magical touch.

It’s only when I get there that I realize the Seattle office isn’t stumped at all.

They’re being silenced by the Mages’ Guild, a corrupt magical institution that doesn't want word to get out of what is plaguing the city. Worse, news of my magic might’ve slipped down to the underworld, hitting the ears of some extremely powerful demons.

What I thought was a routine murder investigation turns into a fight for my life. With the help of Darius, my stalker elder vampire, and my dual-mage side kicks, I somehow have to dodge the Guild in order to stop one of the most powerful demons I’ve ever encountered. If I don’t? It’ll escape back down below with proof of what I really am.

My life hangs in the balance, and this time, I can't see a way out.

As you've probably realized, I'm a pretty big K.f. Breene fan. I love her story lines, and her fierce and feisty heroines. Reagan is no exception. And with the third and final book in the trilogy coming out in just a little more than a month, I figured I had better get on writing this review. 

When Raised in Fire starts, we learn that someone has been talk talk talking, and news of Reagan's possible parentage and abilities has made its way to the underworld. We meet Agnon, who is referred to as an it, but let's be honest...he's a legit demon. And this guy brings calls an aswang. I put it in italics, because that's what you do. I had to look up what an aswang even was. Now, there are lots of variations of what an aswang is but the gist of it is: An Aswang is a shapeshifting monster in Filipino folklore. And take a gander at these creeps.

Freaky, am I right? The aswang was seriously just a small part of the story, but since I think cryptid's are AWESOME, I just had to talk about it. 

Okay, moving on. So there's some strange murdering going on in Seattle, and Reagan is sent that way to check it out. And since Darius is a little bit stalky, he makes sure to be there with her. There is a little bit of bow chicka wow wow in this part of the story. But trust me, Reagan makes him work for it. I find it a lot of fun that Darius thinks Reagan is perfect, and she's just like-Dude. Stop it. Relax. She's not buying the bs. 

There is quite a lot of action in this part of the story. Of course, Reagan is keeping secrets, because she has to. Some people find out, some people don't. Some suspicions are confirmed, some are denied. Things like that. I imagine Reagan is not going to be able to hide forever, though. Her father is bound to find out that she exists. Guess we'll have to wait until the next book to see what happens with that.

June 12, 2017

Review: Cujo by Stephen King

Title: Cujo
Author: Stephen King
Published: September, 1981
Paperback: 432 pgs

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Outside a peaceful town in central Maine, a monster is waiting. Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day Cujo chases a rabbit into a bolt-hole - a cave inhabited by sick bats. What happens to Cujo, how he becomes a horrifying vortex inexorably drawing in all the people around him makes for one of the most heart-stopping novels Stephen King has written.

FYI -- before I tell you my thoughts on the book, I want you to know that I have never seen the movie. I had zero ideas on what to expect, except that it had something to do with an evil dog.

In so many ways...this book will MESS YOU UP.

I already had a little fear when it came to dogs, but now I am downright terrified! Especially because when we first meet Cujo, he is the sweetest dog you could ever imagine. He's a gentle giant, in every sense of the word, and no one would ever suspect the horror he could unleash. And as a reader, we feel genuinely sorry for Cujo. Stephen King is simply THE master at that --  he is the Director of our emotions. He makes you fall in love with Cujo. He makes you feel sorry for Cujo. And even after all is said and done, you still can't help but wish that someone had just helped that poor dog.

In a nutshell: Cujo is accidentally infected with rabies after he chases a rabbit down a rabbit-hole filled with bats. It's not his fault at all. But then it makes you wonder -- well who's fault is it? Who can we blame it all on? And the beauty of it all is that you can take your pick. Donna Trenton, who cheats on her husband and ends up fighting for her life? Yep, some fault lies with her. Joe Camber, Cujo's owner and a wife abuser? You can definitely blame some on him. Almost every single side character can hold some of the blame and it is literally one of those unfortunate circumstances that simply could not be avoided.

Another reason this book will mess you up: the ending. I don't want to give it away. I want you to read it for yourself. But I promise you, it will torture you long after you've turned the last page. I actually closed the book angry with Stephen King for this one.

Incredibly suspenseful page-turner. Well worth a read!

5 out of 5 stars.

June 07, 2017

Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera!

Title: Ruined
Author: Amy Tintera
Published: May 3, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Hardcover: 368 pgs

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A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Talk about an action-packed, girl-power, kick-ass novel!

From the minute you read the first word, Ruined is filled with fighting, disguises, espionage, and murder. You are immediately thrown into the middle of a war that has been waging in the background for years, and it's mesmerizing.

And the best part about it -- for me at least -- it all centered around a kick-ass female warrior.

Despite the fact that she was born different from the other Ruined; despite the fact that she has no powers; despite the fact that she had to watch her own parents murdered, Emelina is one of the fiercest protagonists I have yet to discover. She is a woman on a mission and nothing will deter her from getting what she wants. She is constantly on guard and always thinks of new ways to escape a situation before it even arises. She is incredibly intelligent and that in itself is a strength no one gives her credit for.

Okay, okay...so she makes the tragic mistake of falling in love. We've all been there. And it kind of throws a wrench in her plans. But to me, it only makes her more relatable and true to life. Despite everything she's been through, she's still a young woman, and Casimir is still a handsome prince (one who's actually noble, no less!). How could she not fall in love?

I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in this series (Avenged) which came out in May 2017. Have you all read it yet? Is it just as good as the first?!

5 out of 5 stars.

June 06, 2017

Double Review: Reboot & Rebel by Amy Tintera!

Title: Reboot & Rebel (Reboot Series)
Author: Amy Tintera
Published: May 7, 2013 & May 13, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen (Harper Collins)
Hardcover: 365 pgs & 340 pgs

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Synopsis for Reboot: Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum. The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Fascinating Concept. Incredible Writing. Authentic Characters.

I went to the library intending to pick up Ruined by Amy Tintera -- which was highly recommended by another GoodChoiceReader -- when I unfortunately learned that it would be checked out for another few weeks. Instead, my trusty librarian suggested I read Reboot and Rebel. I don't feel ashamed to say that I think it was fate.

The basic concept: when you die, you stand a chance of coming back to life -- you will be rebooted, per se. And when you do, you will be stronger, faster, and heal easier. You'll also be able to deal less with those pesky emotions that humans have to deal with all the time. Sounds great, doesn't it?  Except for the fact that the remaining humans no longer trust you. Even your own family will see you as a monster and turn their backs on you.

The longer you take to reboot, the stronger you will be. And our main character, Wren, is the strongest reboot so far -- taking 178 minutes to come back to life. When we meet Wren, she is disconnected from all of her emotions. She is basically a soldier who always takes orders, never falls off course, and is the perfect person to have on hand when you need any "dirty work" taken care of. Until she meets Callum, that is.

Wren is looking for a challenge when she meets Callum (who rebooted after only 22 minutes and is more human than reboot). She decides to become his trainer and is surprised when she realizes how much of an effect he has on her. The chemistry between the two is adorable and well-written. I loved them as a couple from the minute they got together and I loved watching the changes in Wren as she re-learned her human emotions.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the great action sequences in these novels as well. There are plenty of guns, bombs, fighting, deaths, war, and revenge. It's awesome!

Have you read these books yet? What do you think?

5 out of 5 stars.