Monday, September 26, 2016

The Sinner by Amanda Stevens

Series: Graveyard Queen #5
384 p.
Publisher: Mira
Published: 9/27/16
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
I am a living ghost, a wanderer in search of my purpose and place…

I'm a cemetery restorer by trade, but my calling has evolved from that of ghost seer to death walker to detective of lost souls. I solve the riddles of the dead so the dead will leave me alone.

I've come to Seven Gates Cemetery nursing a broken heart, but peace is hard to come by…for the ghosts here and for me. When the body of a young woman is discovered in a caged grave, I know that I've been summoned for a reason. Only I can unmask her killer. I want to trust the detective assigned to the case for he is a ghost seer like me. But how can I put my faith in anyone when supernatural forces are manipulating my every thought? When reality is ever-changing? And when the one person I thought I could trust above all others has turned into a diabolical stranger?
My thoughts:

I had heard about a last book being written and I was afraid that this one would be the last in the series (...especially with that ending! NO cliffie, but open). I didn't have to worry. There will be a #6 which will be featured in an upcoming wishlist post. :) *whew* and *squee* :D

This one was so creepy that I had trouble getting to sleep the first night I started the book. I set it aside for a bit because I needed sleep, but after I was refreshed I totally went through this book quite easily. Yea, you might want to keep a nightlight on or snuggle with your own ghost detecting Angus before reading this book. Oh and speaking of Angus... he's back! I love that dog. Unfortunately I don't have one of those and my huge pup would rather me protect him from those things that go bump in the night. LOL

I didn't like where things were left off in the last book romantically and I wasn't hopeful for most of the book. By the end with all the twists and turns, I'm now hopeful again that things will turn out the way we want. I need my HEA! You don't quite get that here, but you aren't left devastated either.

The mystery is twisty and quite dark and spooky. Perfect for a graveyard book. This one had me second guessing ALL the secondary characters (except Angus, of course) and I have to say I'm still not totally convinced that all are on her side even now. It feels like personal agendas are also being played while she is forced to solve some of the scariest mysteries. This atmosphere sets us up brilliantly and gives us the perfect feel for the book and I dare say the next as well.

Oh and that ending! I knew there had to be another since there are a couple of things still needing to be solved and I cannot wait to get my hands on that book! Oh and what a great ending. So perfectly sets us up but doesn't let us down. I want to say more because I do think I squeed a bit at the end (um... I know that sounds bad, but it wasn't... LOL). I highly recommend this book to horror fans (I'm a wimp and loved it, just sayin'), UF fans, and those that love a good paranormal mystery. This is one to read in order. If you haven't started this series now, do it! We'll wait... *taps fingers*

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Series: #1
448 p.
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: Sept. 27, 16
Source: Edelweiss and Publisher for review
When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched. 
The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die. 
Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan. 
Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara. 
Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . .
My thoughts:

 I loved this author's other retellings and seeing the creepy cover I jumped at reading this book. While I did like the dark world she built here and it did engage me, it just fell a bit flat for me. I don't think this will be how everyone will experience this book but, in my case, it happened this way for me. I think that it was because it was a retelling of such an iconic and famous play and I have a feeling I would see it differently if it wasn't a retelling. This usually doesn't bother me and I've read other retellings of Romeo and Juliet and it didn't bother me, but for some reason I think it got in my way here. Perhaps it is because the world is SO different and I would have enjoyed it if it was labeled more as an original story.

This is also a very dark story. VERY dark. In fact there was no HEAs in this book. Now it is possible it may end in an HEA (I believe this is supposed to be a duology) but this book does not give you that happy feeling at the end. In fact the foreboding is for more darkness and pain emotionally and physically.

While this book may not have totally captured me in full, I still have enjoyed it enough and it has made me so curious as to what will happen next. How will they resolve things? How are all the players in this twisted dark play going to come together? Will there be no HEA or a final resolution in the end? While I realize this sounds like it ends in a huge cliffie, it does not, but it does not feel complete. I must know where this story will take me.

I give this book 3 stars. While I didn't love everything about this book the darkness really did capture my attention and curiosity. I really need to know if things will come to the light or wither in darkness.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On My Wishlist: Yesternight by Cat Winters

384 p.
Publisher: William Marrow
Published: Oct. 4, 16
A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation. 
In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child. 
Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth. 
Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.
I've only read one book by this author, but I really want to read more. This sounds so good!
What is on your wishlist this week?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Series: Three Dark Crowns #1
416 p.
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: Sept. 20, 16
Source: Edelweiss and Publisher for review
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. 
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown. 
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
My thoughts:

Having really enjoyed Anna Dressed in Blood I couldn't wait to get to this book. It did hold some of the darkness that I enjoyed in Anna, but I'm afraid it didn't hold my attention in the same manner. I think it had to do with the worldbuilding in this book. While the world builds slowly we are sort of thrown into the world without footing. We don't quite know what is going on and it was disconcerting and I needed more. It is also disturbing in terms of those of us who hate to see animals harmed. While nothing was so bad it made me put it down, I became a bit distracted in wanting to know if the animals are safe. I know others who feel the same way so it may worry them as it did me, but again, it wasn't too bad in that regard either and it is still readable.

The world finally started to develop about midway through the book. Most of my attention was hoping two of the queens would develop powers. There is a twist in this plot and unfortunately I guessed it quite early. I also am guessing at another twist to be revealed and won't be surprised to find out it is true. However, even though it was easy to guess, it did not take away from the story as a whole.

My continued frustration was one that wasn't resolved by the end. There were characters I needed to know more about but never got that information. This just added to my frustration about the worldbuilding. I will say that by the end the world was a bit better established and the book much more interesting. It is enough to pull me through to the next book.

I give this book 3 stars. Even though it was a shaky beginning for me, I did find some interest in the end. I do feel that parts will start to sort itself out more as the series goes along and I do hope more of the holes are filled in the next book. I do want to read the next book to find out what happens. I also have a feeling this will be a book you will love or hate. I found myself in the middle of that pack.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Audiobook Review: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #6
Narrator: Reneé Raudman
15 hrs. 6 min.
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: July 30, 13
Source: Library
Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost. 
Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta. 
Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…
My thoughts:

THANK YOU LIBRARY! They got this one in on CD and I immediately started listening to it. I guess bugging them forever pays off. LOL I swear I'm addicted to this series. This was no exception and Reneé Raudman's narration is spot on as ever. I swear as long as she is narrating I will want to listen to this series. She made 15 hrs fly by in no time at all!

I love that in this one it is all about pack and who belongs in it. Not everyone is shifter nor are they the same kind of shifter to belong to Kate and Curran's pack. I think that is why I love this series so much. There is diversity even though there is a lean toward the same even in this world. This one gave me all the feels and I even wanted to smack Curran for his part in hurting Kate. Oh Kate did hurt, but luckily it was mostly physical... although the emotional ones were pretty hard to take. I did forgive Curran (appropriate groveling on his part LOL) but there was one emotional scene that just about killed me. It was a NOOooooOOOOO! moment and I'm still upset about it. It is an appropriate and intentioned upset... but I want to go back and change that one thing. No, I'm not telling and you will have to experience that part for yourself. 

The only niggle I would have in this story was Hugh D’Ambray. I did like having his character in this one and how he is the closest mirror to Kate's skill. However, not everything here worked for me. I wasn't sure how to take a couple of things and I hesitate to state them because it would be spoilery in nature. However, I will say they are minor niggles and do not detract from the story as a whole for me. 

I give this audiobook 4 1/2 stars. Again, it is masterfully narrated and I highly recommend this series (read it in order!) to anyone who enjoys UF. In fact, this series should be a must read for those that enjoy UF. :D

Alternative PB cover which I think is so much better. :D