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Monday, October 31, 2016

Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid with an #ARC giveaway!

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 416
Genre: Science Fiction

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. 
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

I have not read S.J. Kincaid's previous series (even thought I own the first two books), but having The Diabloic be my first encounter with Kincaid's writing... Guys, I'm blown away. I have not been this engrossed in a novel since I read The Dregs. Holy nuggets. Fans of Illuminae and Gemina, this book is right up your alley.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?
Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

I will not lie, the second half of the book really did pick up the pace and grab my attention. Last Seen Leaving opens with one of the most captivating and alluring first paragraph that I have seen in quite some time. It starts out strong, sinks into a little puddle of slow and bothersome, and picks right back up again like an express train right to your station.

Disclaimer: his novel does touch upon the sensitive subject of rape. That being said, it also gives us a fleshed out teenager on the verge of understanding his sexuality all the while coming to terms with the fact that his girlfriend has been decreed missing. What a crazy time to be alive. Roehrig has a fascinating command of dialogue, witty narrative, and really allows his cast of characters to come alive in their voices. On the other side, there are some characters whose abrasive nature are the only trait they possess, whom aren't given enough screen time to be fleshed out, or secrets that are never truly revealed in the end. And while it does bug me, I understand the need to get the biggest secret disclosed. I only wish to have a little more light shone on certain moments, like January's need to string together a slew of lies about Flynn. But being someone who, like Flynn, gets strung up on the vital and obscure information that no one else would know meanwhile having to just rely on your gut instinct, I can face the fact that not all secrets can be revealed.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I really enjoyed the mystery behind it all. Even though, by the end of it, all of my inner understanding of the legal process thanks to television had me screaming at the stupid decisions Flynn ends up making despite the means to further the plot. Why must stupid, unlawful actions further plot? I digress.  Throughout, I was actually using my hand to cover the bottom parts of the page just so my eyes didn't wander and spoil the secrets for me. I am very bad at spoiling myself.

This seems to be my month of mystery novels

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 464
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
*An advanced readers copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

Music and monsters and everything in-between. Weclome to Verity, where men and monsters are one in the same.

I have always been a devout fan of Victoria Schwab, having gone to her book tour for A Gathering of Shadows, to enjoying the craft she obviously excels at. And This Savage Song does not fall short. Whether it be her adult or young adult compositions, characters are fleshed out, world-of-story is expansive and rich and horrifyingly beautiful. Verity is a ghost town after dark, riddled with monsters. A city divided, a truce on the verge of collapse, and political unrest scorching the two leaders. Under Callum Harker's control, you pay for safety from his legion of Corsai and Malcai monsters (your Jack the Ripperesque ones). Under Henry Flynn, they fight to keep the monsters at bay, and his Sunai (the musical monsters who steal your soul) are the ace in the hole, to say the least.

When someone tries to kill Kate Harker, big, bad Callum Harker's monstrosity of a daughter, and blame it on the Sunai monsters under Flynn's control to break peace, Kate and August (our little monster undercover) race against time and darkness and all odds. Their partnership is odd, chaotic, and sweet. You root for them, you glue yourselves to the pages for backstory. And there is no romantic subplot tumbling around, it is strictly survival and political warfare. The other Sunai, Leo and Ilsa, are thunderstorms and shooting stars respectively. And the turmoil that all these characters endure as they fight for their lives through the night and against the monsters of Verity is gritty. I had been absorbed, unwilling to put down this book. And the ending, Victoria Schwab can never just leave things simple, she has a way of taking the needle and just plucking the strands of your favorite sweater and teasing out the threads. I ache for Our Dark Duet, and the chaos that will come to Kate and August and all the rest. I wait for new characters and what twists and turns go bump in the night by the hand of Victoria Schwab's pen.

 I really need book two to fill the void, it's unreal

Monday, September 26, 2016

Blog Tour Review + Favorite Quotes: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #1
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 336
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Romance
He’s the infamous killer no man has ever been able to find.
Now it’s a girl’s turn.
Groomed to be the perfect highborn Victorian young lady, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has a decidedly different plan for herself. After the loss of her beloved mother, she is determined to understand the nature of death and its workings. Trading in her embroidery needle for an autopsy scalpel, Audrey secretly apprentices in forensics. She soon gets drawn into the investigation of serial killer Jack the Ripper, but to her horror, the search for clues brings her far closer to her sheltered world than she ever thought possible.
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review

Filled with mystery and a thrill of emotions and detail, Stalking Jack the Ripper really fills the void while you're waiting for the next season of Sherlock to come out in 2017. With a cast of characters whom, when it comes down to it, are actually, genuinely crafted with a touch of realism to the point of caring what happens to them. I was actually giggling whenever Thomas opened his trap. The man, though expresses his deductions in long-winded, Sherlock-esque paragraphs, does have a dapper and extremely witty tongue. I reveled in the banter between him and Audrey Rose, and many of my favorite quotes actually spawn from Thomas.

The only downside, I was able to figure out who Jack the Ripper was from the very beginning. I seem to be finding a science to figuring out these plot twists, but that did not stop my enjoyment of the mystery in the midst of Victorian London. This novel actually brought back memories of when I took a Victorian London class back in college, so kudos! It was fun reading about the East End and the Barnum and Bailey circus, as well as Maniscalco's author's note on the authenticity and fictitious nature of her novel. Over all, I applaude Stalking Jack the Ripper on the gruesome, the thrill, and the witty banter. Where Audrey Rose rises to the chance to break the gender norms of Victorian society, the wonder in the mystery for Sherlock Holmes fans, and a bit of history amidst the fantasy world that Maniscalco has carefully crafted.

 Exceptionally slayed, like Jack's victims...whoops

Favorite Quotes

"Not to mention, the subject matter was hardly appropriate for the dinner table. Discussing missing ovaries then asking him to pass the salt would be revolting for anyone, let alone a girl of my station."

"'What makes you sure I even need a partner? I'm quite capable of doing things on my own.'
'Perhaps it's not you who would benefit from our partnership.'"

"Saucy Jack"

"'Those who deserve respect are given it freely. If one must demand such a thing, he'll never truly command it. I am your daughter, not your horse, sir.'"

"'I see you've thrown yourself another pity party [. . .] you've yet to send out invitations, Wadsworth. Rather rude, don't you think?'"

"'No, Wadsworth,' Thomas said blandly, 'sending a kidney through the mail is quite ordinary. I do it at least three times a week to remain fashionable. You ought to try it. Really impress the girls at tea.'"

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 384
Genre: Science Fiction, Steampunk, Dystopia
Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?
Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

 Why would you write a book summary that makes a book sound like a romance? This drove me nuts the entire book because while Spare and Found Parts was interesting (at times, I'll get back to that) it's more of a coming of age story and learning to be independent of what defines you.  Nell is a girl with a clockwork heart whose father practically saved humanity. She constantly struggles to relate to people and, as a result, is a rather isolated individual who is more than a little haughty.  Nell's exploration of herself is the focus point of the plot, but there is this kind of hazy romantic tone that hangs over the whole story that just leaves an unsatisfying feeling  when the story ends.  This also really isn't a summer read, it can be pretty dark at parts and because the novel plays on gender roles and romance it's more for reading in bed or curled up in a chair than at the beach, so it is good this book is coming out in October. Perfect Fall feeder.

 The characters vary in quality because you don't know enough about them until the very end of the story. I didn't end up liking Nell until the end because I didn't realize how much she changes through the course of the novel.  At points my eyes ended up skimming over huge chucks of paragraphs because I simply did not care what Nell was thinking. Yeah, fun fact: a solid 60% of the novel is Nell thinking to herself and descriptions of the setting and it's about as much fun to read as it sounds.

Nell also has a small circle of friends, but some of them are just sort of there for plot devices. Nell's best friend, Ruby, is the archetypical best friend so she's not exactly interesting but harmless. The "romantic lead" is kind of interesting if you don't guess his big twist, but again he's pretty harmless.

Okay, so why didn't I give this book five targets? The narrative is a little jarring and I get what Griffin wanted to do, but certain themes did not completely transfer off the page and it felt awkward.  Finally, this book is good for all ages and if you like steampunk, Spare and Found Parts is a dream, although the world really isn't explored enough for my taste. It's more of a tone than a setting.  There is exactly one non-binary character in this story, not a huge deal but worth mentioning. Great book for the budding feminist in your life or anyone who needs a palate cleanser from predicable romances.

This book almost moved my cold human heart