Tuesday, March 3, 2015

DEATH MARKED by Leah Cypress Tour Stop + Giveaway!


Welcome to my tour stop for Death Marked by Leah Cypress, the riveting conclusion to the Death Sworn duology. This tour was organized by Rock Star Book Tours, and you can view the other stops by checking out the tour schedule at the end of this post!

Now, onto the book! 

Title:  DEATH MARKED 
Author: Leah Cypess
Pub. Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 400
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.

At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.

Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.

This book was very emotional, and I almost had a soundtrack playing in my head while I read the novel. The song that I think sums up the book entirely is "How Strong Do You Think I Am" by Alexz Johnson because Ileni keeps having trial after trial from people she's supposed to be able to trust and love. If you haven't heard the song, check it out!

About the author:
I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).
After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at  Brooklyn College. I then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I sold my first novel to Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins).
I live in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with my husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and our three children.
Follow me on Facebook or Twitter!
Now onto the giveaway!
Giveaway Details:
1 Grand Prize pack signed copies of all 4 of Leah’s books (Mistwood, Nightspell, Death Sworn, and Death Marked), plus signed SWAG! US Only.
Rafflecopter Code:

Week One:
2/23/2015- A Backwards StoryOriginal Content
2/24/2015- Crossroad ReviewsReview
2/25/2015- Fiction FareOriginal Content
2/26/2015- Reading with ABCOriginal Content
2/27/2015- Si, se puede - Review

Week Two:
3/2/2015- FiktshunReview
3/3/2015- Fall Into BooksOriginal Content
3/4/2015- jrsbookreviewsReview
3/5/2015- Two Chicks on BooksOriginal Content
3/6/2015- Mundie MomsReview



Saturday, February 28, 2015

DEAD HEAT by Patricia Briggs

Rating: C-
Release Date: 3/3/15 
Synopsis:
The Alpha and Omega novels transport readers into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now, a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business…

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way...

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.
 


My thoughts on the book:
This novel was probably my least favorite book in the series. Normally I love the Alpha and Omega series, almost more than I do the Mercy Thompson series, but this book just really fell flat for me. The pacing was off, the plot was a bit dull (Briggs has done enough with evil fae, I'm ready for something new), and I just didn't feel a sense of urgency. It took me much longer to read this installment than it should have, as a result, and Anna and Charles didn't really stay true to character, which also bothered me. I'll continue this series, but I'll do so hesitantly. 

Anna had baby fever in this installment, which made me lose all respect for her. Way to ruin a great character by making her conform to societal norms, Briggs. Charles was just dull, and the secondary characters didn't really stand out to me. None of them mattered. I didn't care who lived and who died as long as Anna would quit acting like a loser. 

The plot itself read more like a kidnapping and murder mystery than a supernatural novel, and that bored me, oddly enough. I like the paranormal shows and books better than most murder mystery shows, but I usually like murder mysteries, too. This one just didn't grab me. I didn't care who was guilty. I just wanted it all to end. The pacing was really slow, and too much day to day crap was shown, in my opinion. I just got really annoyed by everything in this book. Even Briggs' writing wasn't up to par. 

Overall, I'd say if you already started this series, then go ahead and give this one a try, too. Other people seem to like it a lot more than I do, so I must be in the minority. 

Pre-order Dead Heat

Monday, February 16, 2015

VISION IN SILVER by Anne Bishop

Rating: B+
Release Date: 3/3/15
Synopsis:
The Others freed the  cassandra sangue  to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…
 


My thoughts on the book:
The Others series by Anne Bishop is one of my absolute favorite series due to the fact that it's so different from other fantasy/urban fantasy/dystopian (not even sure of the genre it's so unique) works out there. I mean it's an alternate universe, so I'd say that makes it fantasy, but it's set it a contemporary-style city, which makes it urban fantasy. Then there's the element of humans being under the rule of the Others, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there are idiots trying to mess with the Others constantly because they're different. That could be dystopian, depending on who you're talking to. I don't feel that humans are really oppressed, though. I think that they're just governed differently. Anyway, I digress. I'm not a fan of pigeonholing any form of art, so it doesn't really matter what genre this series is in. It stands out; it speaks for itself; it's amazing. The character development is organic, the writing is wonderful, the pacing is spot-on, the world-building is beautifully done, and the plot is engrossing. Each novel takes the reader further into the world that Bishop has created, and this installment is no exception. My only complaint about this book is that it seems to jump around a bit more than the former two novels. I know there are more characters who matter now, but it was hard to distinguish where one part was ending and another part was beginning. This could be simply because I had an ARC, and the published copy will draw these lines better (I'll see when I buy my copy on March 3), but the jumping around detracted from my enjoyment of this novel. 

The main character in this novel is Meg, and she is someone who is easy to relate to even though she's so different from most people. She has this child-like innocence about her due to the fact that she'd been locked away her entire life. It's really a lot of fun to experience the world through her eyes, though she does often times get overwhelmed. She has a pure heart and just wants to help everyone, though. And Meg is super strong. She can deal with things that most people would find challenging. She may not understand everything that's going on around her all the time, but she will do what she thinks is right, regardless of the sacrifice to herself. I really admire that about her. Simon is the leading male, and I've loved him from the start. He's unique. He's not some tortured hero. No, he knows exactly who he is. He's the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and he puts the residents first. There are no angsty or complicated feelings when it comes to Simon, well not until Meg enters the picture. Still, he admits (if only to himself) amazingly simple feelings. He just wants to be around her all the time and keep her safe. It's refreshing not to have a leading male with 10 tons of emotional baggage. The other characters, who get their share of page time, too, due to Bishop's use of Austen's free indirect discourse style of writing, are also intriguing. They are all evolving before the reader's eyes, and it's a lot of fun to see how they change and grow with each new challenge. 

Bishop has a unique style of writing, and the dialogue with her characters is often quite simplistic. However, there are undertones in this story that go beyond the simple voices of the cast. The main question these books raise is, who are the real monsters here? Are humans really humane at all? The Others seem to have better morals and care more about each other (and even humanity, at times) than the humans. The Others would never hurt a child or someone who is weaker than they are, and the humans use the weak people as tools to get their way constantly. I really like that this novel shows that different doesn't always mean scary or mean or wrong. Also, the world-building is fantastic. I can easily picture the world in which Meg lives. I picture it as being less settled than our world and the cities are smaller, but it's still familiar enough that it could be mistaken for our Earth instead of Namid. My one issue with this book is that the story didn't flow as seamlessly as the other installments did. It jumped around a bit, which got to be distracting. I hope that Bishop covers a bit less in her next installment. The ending tied things up nicely, and kind of closed out the problems of the first three books while setting up the next two books in this series. I really liked that. There wasn't a cliffhanger, but I can't wait for book #4 to come out, nonetheless.

I'd recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good fantasy book. The shifters and vampires and other characters are quite different from anything I've ever read, and they'll definitely grab your attention. Bishop is an excellent author, and if you haven't read anything by her yet, you're definitely missing out. 

Pre-order Vision in Silver!

Monday, February 9, 2015

DEATH MARKED by Leah Cypress

Rating: B-
Release Date: 3/3/15
Synopsis:
A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.

At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.

Leah Cypress spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.


My thoughts on the book:
I absolutely adored Death Sworn, and I was eagerly anticipating its sequel. However, Death Marked fell a bit flat for me in a few areas. The story itself was a good one, and Cypress' writing was top-notch, but Ileni was a wishy-washy character and hard to get behind. There was a lot of repetition and some things that didn't fit, but this book still kept me interested. If you read the first installment, then the sequel is definitely worth a read. Don't expect to be blown away, though. 

Ileni came across as incredibly weak in this novel. I didn't like how she kept going back and forth and whining about wanting to go back to simpler times. I got it the first 50 times she said it. She wished she could live in a fantasy land where things were simple. Well, that's not real life. Deal with it. On top of that, Ileni's loyalty was lacking. She couldn't commit herself to a cause, and she betrayed everyone. That made it hard to respect her. She was also incredibly selfish. I mean compared to some of the other characters, she wasn't that bad, but Ileni was not a heroine that I wanted to root for. Sorin wasn't in this novel much, but he disappointed me during his few cameos. However, he stayed true to his character and to what he was, and I at least admired that. I really didn't like Arxis, and I hated his name. I absolutely adored Evin. He was the best character in the novel, in my opinion. He had a lot of depth and was an all-around good character. Sure he had his faults, but he wasn't half as messed up as the rest of the cast. 

The plot itself had a lot of potential, and the ideals expressed through it were solid. Again, I didn't like the inconsistency of Ileni, though I guess it was pretty accurate for her age and life-experience level. Cypress gets points for realistic characters, even if they did get on my nerves at times. The writing was good, and the world-building was fantastic. The pacing was a bit slow in places, but overall, the story flowed nicely. I really liked the ending. It wasn't a cliched happy ending. It was a real ending. It worked out how life actually does, and I appreciated that. I also loved the idea of small changes vs. big change. The ending really made this book for me. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to people who read the first novel. If you haven't read the first book in the series yet, I'd say only read these if you're a huge fantasy fan or if you want some serious philosophy to go with your fantasy lit. Sometimes the characters were annoying, but the ideals behind the story, and the writing itself, were very good. 

Pre-order Death Marked

Sunday, February 8, 2015

HEIR OF THE DOG by Hailey Edwards

Rating: A-
Synopsis:
Faerie teeters on the brink of war and the mortal realm swells with fae refugees desperate to escape the bloodshed. As a half-blooded fae, Marshal Thierry Thackeray has a stake in the outcome of both realms and isn’t afraid to knock a few heads together if it keeps the peace.

When her father goes missing, the only hope of negotiating a truce between the light and dark fae vanishes with him. Eager to avoid another Thousand Years War, the Faerie High Court reaches out to the one person they believe can track him down—the daughter who shares his curse.


My thoughts on the book:
Let me start off this review by saying that this synopsis is incredibly misleading and doesn't really do the novel justice. This book is much more exciting than the synopsis makes it sound. There are so many twists and turns, it's hard to keep up, and the characters are well-developed, realistic, and extremely complex. The pacing is fast, and I can almost guarantee that you'll finish this book in one sitting. Once you're done with the novel, you'll be left staring at the last page wondering what hit you and when you can get your next fix. 

I really love Thierry as a main character. She's strong, yet vulnerable. She admits her pain, but she doesn't let her hurt and anger control her. She looks out for the people in her life, even if they've wronged her. Her reluctance to accept her fae heritage is her only drawback, in my opinion, but after what happened to her as a child, who can blame her? I'm not a huge Shaw fan, as far as love interests go. I really loved him in the first novel/novella, but now that I know what he did, I don't like him for Thierry anymore. Hopefully she's strong enough to let him go. I'm good with them being friends, but I just really think that romance authors have bad habits of letting scorned women return to their betrayers for the sake of "everlasting love" or whatever. I hope that Edwards is brave enough not to do that in these books. The new man in Thierry's life is much more interesting, and while he's dishonest, too, I feel like he has better reasons. Also, his faults are much less than Shaw's, in my opinion. The wrongs he did were already put in motion before he even knew Thierry. I hope she gives him a chance. Personal feelings about the characters aside, every character *feels* like a real person, and that's hard to come by in books. 

Edwards has this way of writing that makes you feel like the narrator (Thierry - 1st person POV) is talking to you and that you're old friends. Because of that, I'm much more invested in Thierry's outcome than I am some character who doesn't feel as familiar to me. Also, Edwards can create amazing fantasy worlds that the reader becomes completely engrossed in. I felt like I was in Faerie, for the most part, and I really enjoyed that. My one complaint is that some things didn't quite fit or make sense. some of the behaviors or faeries just are not completely, 100% clear. That could be due to the fact that I was reading late at night, or a couple of small parts of the world could need a bit more fleshing out. I'm not sure which, to be honest.  I do love the mixing of all of the different Celtic mythologies, though. The plot itself is a rollercoaster ride, and I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book. There is enough mystery, action, and adventure to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged. The ending ties things up nicely and paves the way for the next book in the series. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy reads. Edwards is a strong voice in the Adult Paranormal Romance genre. I've absolutely loved every single book I've read by her, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. 

Order Heir of the Dog!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

THE RETRIBUTION OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

Rating: A
Synopsis:
Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.


My thoughts on the book:
This novel met and exceeded my expectations. It was a fantastic conclusion to a riveting story. The characters in this book were so wonderfully flawed, and the plot kept me hooked. It was a long novel, but I never was bored. The pacing was perfect, and there was just enough mystery/intrigue to keep me guessing. The ending surprised me a bit because it wasn't what you'd expect from a novel. Nothing about this book, or trilogy, was predictable, and I really enjoyed that. 

I really liked how the characters of this book weren't heroes or villains. I think that's more realistic than someone who's completely good or bad. Each character was complex and had his or her own story to tell. Sometimes it was hard to root for Mara because she was such a dark character, but at the same time, there was something so human about her that you could still relate to her, even when she was doing horrific things. Mara's ability really makes you question what you'd do if you had it. Noah was also extremely complex and dark and twisted. I really loved the two of them together. Daniel was another favorite, and he didn't turn out how I thought he would at all. 

Mara and Noah's relationship was complicated and destructive and messy. I absolutely loved it. It wasn't pretty, and that was refreshing. Their love wasn't this wonderful thing, it would destroy them in the end. I felt like that was one of the most realistic portrayals of love I'd ever read. Also, Hodkin's writing was beautiful. The plot was tragic and amazing, and the ending wasn't happy, but it was conclusive. I felt like all the loose ends were tied up, and while things weren't completely finalized, it was clear that happily ever after wasn't in the cards. I liked that because life doesn't have a happily ever after, either. However, the ending wasn't completely depressing, and it left me with a bit of hope. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book and series for people who want to read something that will make them think and question themselves. This book was a wonderful conclusion to a unique and captivating story. 

Order The Retribution of Mara Dyer