Friday, December 15, 2017

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy #2
363 p.
Publisher: Del Rey
Published: 12/5/17
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
Amazon Affiliate Link:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege. 
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.
My thoughts:

I was surprised by the first book, The Bear and the Nightingale (my review linked) and eagerly awaited this book. I have to admit that, at first I was thinking this book might suffer from second book syndrome as Vasya kept making bad choices. She is learning something totally new so that is expected, but sometimes frustrating for the reader. Still, as things moved on and I became more curious. Once she became reunited with 2 of her older siblings I was totally invested.

This story is a retelling of Russian myth (actually several), we do get a tale that feels familiar in the embodiment of death who falls for a mortal the consequences. It is also a tale of a strong girl who learned what she didn't want out of life in the first book and what she was willing to do to avoid the consequences of her decision. While we are still dealing with the echoes of that important choice she now finds she must decide on what she wants and if she is willing to fight for it. In other words she doesn't just need to know what she is moving away from but what she needs to move toward. She finds her voice and her strength from within and every bit is needed to not just survive a cunning villain but also those that felt betrayed by her choices who also, in turn, betrayed and loved her.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. If you haven't tried this series, I think you should! I really enjoy all the characters especially Vasya, Morozkzo (who will break your heart), and Slovey (her horse! I love that horse!). I also would start with the first book. While this trilogy hasn't ended, this one did not end on a cliffy, but questions linger and you are pulled into wanting the next book now. You could wait for the last book to appear, but seriously, I would just start enjoying it now.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy: Colorado #1
Spin-off from: Mythos Academy Series
279 p.
Publisher: Indie
Published: 11/5/17
Source: From Author for review
Amazon Affiliate link
New school year, same old problems . . .

At Mythos Academy, everyone knows exactly who I am: Rory Forseti, Spartan girl and the daughter of Reapers.

Even though I fought alongside my cousin Gwen Frost to save the mythological world from Loki and his evil Reapers of Chaos, I’m still the most hated girl at the academy because of all the horrible things my parents did. I had hoped that this school year would be different, but the other kids just won’t let me forget about my parents.

But something strange is going on at the Colorado Academy. First, I run into a Viking guy who dislikes me more than most. Then I notice some odd artifacts in the Library of Antiquities. And worst of all, I start hearing rumors about a new group of Reapers who can summon mythological monsters.

I might be the most hated girl at Mythos Academy, but I’m also the only one who can save it . . .
My thoughts:

This is the first book in the spin-off series of the Mythos Academy books with Gwen Frost as the heroine. In this book, Rory Forseti, Gwen's cousin who we briefly met, is the heroine in this series set in Colorado. Since I'm a fan of Jennifer Estep's writing and also a fan of anything set in CO I knew this was a total win for me. I was correct. I enjoyed my time at the CO Mythos Academy. For those that have not read the main series, I do suggest it, but I think you could read this book first. I still think that you would feel as if you are missing something and you would be right. I really loved that first series and I do think you will as well.

If you are familiar with this world you will be easily transported there in this book. It does have the same feel as the other series and the same kind of adventure. We get a more seasoned warrior in this book but she also is inexperienced in life having just felt betrayal from people she would never expect. Recovering from that, bearing the bullying at school and tempted with a choice on almost every level we find ourselves engaged with Rory and rooting for her from the beginning. We are also introduced to a new talking sword. As much as I did like Babs, she hasn't quite stolen the spotlight from Vic just yet. However, the griffins have totally stolen my heart.

Btw, can I have a griffin? Would go great with the Fenrir wolf I want as well (you'll get those references if you read the books in this world!).

I give this story 4 stars. It is a great reintroduction and expansion to the world I knew and enjoyed. There is no real romance in this book, but there is a lot of potential! So those who like a slow romance may find themselves enjoying this series. I recommend it to those that love a fun fantasy world.

For a limited time, the first 3 Mythos Academy series books (the series that started it all) and a prequel novella is on sale. The series is listed at $2.99 as of this writing. I'm not sure how long it will last. 
Affiliate link:
...and just like that it goes back up. Keep your eye on this link above if it goes on sale before the year is out. It should change if it does!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Series: Rolling in the Deep #1
439 p.
Published: 11/14/17
Publisher: Orbit
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. 
Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost. 
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. 
But the secrets of the deep come with a price.
My thoughts:

I love mermaid tales. Not all admittedly have appealed to me but this one really peaked my interest. It is horror so no singing red haired girl longing for legs (although that original Grimm tale could also be horror).  It also spoke a lot to the horror of what humans have done to the ecosystem. Now this isn't a book on questioning who is the villain in this tale, as the mermaids were presented as nothing but killers... but there is an opening and this theme may come into play in later books. There is also a working knowledge of science and even the holes in biological science that has yet to be filled. This lent the book a realistic feel and you could believe that these monsters could exist.

While this is a horror tale, those who like romance will get a taste of it, but only a taste. We tend to be more engaged in why they came aboard and how they change as things start happening. The horror of what the sirens (mermaids) wrought take center stage and any more romance would have muddied the waters... so to speak. There is an opening for further romance and I think it may happen more as the series progresses.

We also journey in this tale through book excerpts from the experts on the voyage as well as diary quotes and other mediums so the tale gets broken up a bit but it enhances the peril these voyagers found themselves. This also made the tale feel unique as well.

I give this book 4 stars. If you are looking for a good horror tale, I do highly recommend this book. While the book falters a bit in the end for me, it still feels complete with open threads to be explored as we learn more about the sirens of the deep. I also really appreciated how the science was used successfully in this book.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Blog Tour with Review and Giveaway: Ever the Brave by Erin Summerill

About the Book:

Title: EVER THE BRAVE (Clash of Kingdoms #2)
Author: Erin Summerill
Pub. Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 464
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD, Goodreads

Ever the Divided. Ever the Feared. Ever the Brave. 
After saving King Aodren with her newfound Channeler powers, Britta only wants to live a peaceful life in her childhood home. Unfortunately, saving the King has created a tether between them she cannot sever, no matter how much she'd like to, and now he's insisting on making her a noble lady. And there are those who want to use Britta’s power for evil designs. If Britta cannot find a way to harness her new magical ability, her life—as well as her country—may be lost. 
The stakes are higher than ever in the sequel to Ever the Hunted, as Britta struggles to protect her kingdom and her heart.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed the first book, but I have to say I think I enjoyed this one a bit more. Gone were the niggles I had about Britta and her indecisiveness. While she is still exploring who she is and what she wants, she is more assured in the former and is still willing to figure out the later. This made the book go smoother for me and I became curious as to what conclusion this duology will lead. There is a hint of a love triangle that may make those who absolutely hate them hesitate, but to those I say wait. Read the whole book, you will be satisfied. There is reason for the triangle, but you will like the conclusion that Britta makes in the end.

I also enjoyed the insight into King Aodren's and Cohen's POV and this also expands the adventure even further. Britta's POV was more insightful than the previous book and it shows how much she has grown. My niggle in this book is that with the expansion of Aodren and Cohen's POV it felt as if Britta's role and badassery was diminished which became my niggle in this one. Toward the end I see that there was a reason for it, but I still would have liked Britta in a more forceful role in the beginning.

I give this book 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book and it satisfies in so many ways. The questions of the first book were answered, the adventure was captivating, the two suiters were well placed and the conclusion to that will satisfy most (I don't think there ever will be an all). The ending, which I am often most critical, was well done and feels complete.

Also check out my review for the the first book, Ever the Hunted, HERE.

Author: Erin Summerill
Pub. Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force. 

About Erin:

Erin Summerill was born in England. After spending years bouncing between Air Force bases in Hawaii, England, and California, her family settled in Utah, where Erin graduated with a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. She had aspirations to write the next great American novel, but writing proved tougher than she first thought. So she grabbed a Nikon and became a professional photographer while crafting manuscript after manuscript. The scenic detour of shooting weddings across the United States, as well as internationally, provided world-building inspiration. It gave her the vision to draft her debut YA fantasy, EVER THE HUNTED. Now when she isn’t writing, or shooting a wedding, she’s chasing her four kids, two dogs, one cat, and five chickens. This could be why she downs massive amounts of Coke Zero and Hot tamales.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details
3 winners will receive a finished copy of EVER THE BRAVE, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
11/27/2017- Bibliobibuli YA- Interview
*11/28/2017- Books and Things- Review
11/29/2017- Novel Novice- Guest Post
11/30/2017- YA and Wine- Review
12/1/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

Week Two:
12/4/2017- Emily Reads Everything- Review
12/5/2017- BookHounds YA- Guest Post
12/6/2017- Dani Reviews Things- Review
12/7/2017- Never Too Many To Read- Interview
12/8/2017- Book Briefs- Review

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dual review: Ramses the Damned #1, #2 by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice

Series: Ramses the Damned #1
by Anne Rice
436 p.
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: 5/6/89 (first publishing)
Source: Own

Ramses the Great has reawakened in opulent Edwardian London. Having drunk the elixir of life, he is now Ramses the Damned, doomed forever to wander the earth, desperate to quell hungers that can never be satisfied. He becomes the close companion of a voluptuous heiress, Julie Stratford, but his cursed past again propels him toward disaster. He is tormented by searing memories of his last reawakening, at the behest of Cleopatra, his beloved queen of Egypt. And his intense longing for her, undiminished over the centuries, will force him to commit an act that will place everyone around him in the gravest danger.

My thoughts:

I decided to reread the book I read a million years ago (or so it seems) since I knew I wouldn't remember much. I actually read this series before I read any of the vampire series. Although I did have problems with Ramses in the beginning, he did win me over in the end. I felt that although Ramses grew throughout the years,  his "affliction" of immortality sometimes made him prone to selfishness and gluttony. While these were problems and he was infuriatingly dense when it came to true love, he did finally learn after one HUGE blunder after another. Now you might think that this would make me not like the book, but the journey in his fascination in the new age as well as the secondary characters within really pulled me along in the book for a second time. It also made you hunger for the next book with a open ending. So happy that finally happened.

I give this one 4 stars. It was a fun reread and helped me remember how I saw it the first time and how things changed for me this time around. While I would have given it 5 stars before, I would say that the main reasons I removed a star is that I would have liked more emphasis on him as a counsellor he was to Pharaohs in the past rather than the bumbling researcher he was in the first book. Still, I really liked who he became in the end.

Series: Ramses the Damned #2
by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice
416 p.
Publisher: Anchor
Published: 11/21/17
Source: From publisher and NetGalley for review

Ramses the Great, former pharaoh of Egypt, is reawakened by the elixir of life in Edwardian England. Now immortal with his bride-to-be, he is swept up in a fierce and deadly battle of wills and psyches against the once-great Queen Cleopatra. Ramses has reawakened Cleopatra with the same perilous elixir whose unworldly force brings the dead back to life. But as these ancient rulers defy one another in their quest to understand the powers of the strange elixir, they are haunted by a mysterious presence even older and more powerful than they, a figure drawn forth from the mists of history who possesses spectacular magical potions and tonics eight millennia old. This is a figure who ruled over an ancient kingdom stretching from the once-fertile earth of the Sahara to the far corners of the world, a queen with a supreme knowledge of the deepest origins of the elixir of life. She may be the only one who can make known to Ramses and Cleopatra the key to their immortality—and the secrets of the miraculous, unknowable, endless expanse of the universe.

My thoughts:

Finally! Finally got to find out what happened after the ending of the last book. I was afraid there would be great leaps in the time and we would have to catch up again to what is happening like it often happens when large amounts of time go between books in a series. Plus this one was supposed to continue, then not and now it has! You can be relieved to know that this book starts right after the first book ended and so flows easily after my reread.

The biggest difference I felt was the "feel" of the book. While it still felt like the same author wrote it, it also felt more mature and a much fuller experience. It could be because the author has changed in how she writes or because her son has now come aboard and co-wrote it with her. Whatever the cause, it did flow a bit better for me than the first.

The adventure was still very interesting and I really liked that the history of the elixir was finally told as well as more about the other day-walker immortals that also roamed the earth. We got glimpses of tales of day-walker immortals in the vampire books but no information. While there are still some lingering questions, it does feel like a much better explanation and a much fuller history in the book.

I also enjoyed that questions were unanswered for the immortals themselves with Cleopatra and how she was resurrected and what or who she is now. The uncertainty of her future opens up the series to more books but even if the series ended with this one, it would be enough answers we could let it end in a more satisfying way than the first book.

I give this book 4 stars and I think this is a better book than the first. I would still suggest reading them in order as a large number of characters are established in the first book.