Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

By accepting the Elders' mission, seventeen year old Ileni will spend the rest of her life in the Black Mountains surrounded by assassins. Stepping into the Assassins' Caves, she knows that she may never come back out, her two predecessors didn't. After just a few steps inside the cave, Ileni finds a knife at her throat. Straining to throw up a magelight, she notices that her assassin attacker seems to be a little younger than her. He didn't realize that she was a Renegai sorceress since they had never sent a woman to be their tutor before. Ileni had been sent by the Elders because she was expendable. Her mission is to at least buy them some time to find out who killed her predecessors if she cannot. They don't hold out much hope in her abilities.

Impressed by the main cavern, Ileni is relieved that she will be shown to her rooms and will not have to meet with the powerful master of the assassins right then. He is known to all as the most dangerous man alive. Her escort informs her that of all her future students, he showed the greatest promise under the past two tutors. They throw barbs at one another along the way and finally introduce themselves to each other. The boy's name turns out to be Sorin. Once at her room, Ileni realizes that there isn't a lock but that all of her predecessors had reinforced the room with magical, protective wards. The wards hadn't been able to keep the two previous tutors alive. Ileni is also most overcome by the room, a vast improvement over hers at the Renegai training compound. Sorin is ready to take her to the training area but leaves when she asks to unpack her few things first. He will return for her after reporting her arrival to the master.  

The master has given Sorin a test, one that it seems he has passed so far. Knowing that Sorin has developed into a finely tuned assassin from the crazed, wild boy who first entered the cave, the master is still surprised at times by Sorin's actions. Wanting to discover new information about the young man, he makes Ileni Sorin's responsibility. He is to take her to the training room so that she is fully aware of what they are capable of. His final words to Sorin are to take this assignment seriously. They don't want what happened to the other tutors to happen again.

Ileni was chosen by the Elders for this assignment because like most Renegai common folk, her powers have begun to fade. The first tutor to die that year had been at the Caves for ten years, so nothing was suspect. When his replacement died two months later, Ileni didn't pay attention to the gossip since they were continuing to see why her own powers were fading. Now Ileni is going to try and discover what happened. On her first night at the Caves, she goes to where Sorin told her Cadrel died. He supposedly died by falling down the stairs. Making her way to the bottom, Ileni uses what little magic she has to cast a simple spell to see if he really died there. Seeing blood illuminate, an image of Cadrel's body with a knife in his back appears. Before she can do much else, she is discovered by a guard dog. The dog stands down when Sorin commands him to. Ileni and Sorin throw questions at one another. She is convinced that Sorin doesn't know what really happened. He asks what she will do when she finds the killers and is surprised she wouldn't kill even if she was the next target. Ileni is even more taken aback when Sorin agrees to help her.

What happened to the two tutors who died before Ileni's arrival? Why did the Elders send Ileni to the Caves? Who killed Cadrel? Why are Ileni's powers fading? What is the master's plan and how is she involved? Why is Sorin willing to help Ileni? What happens when sparks begin to fly between Ileni and Sorin?

Death Marked will conclude Ileni’s story on March 3, 2015.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (Hundred Oaks book 5)

ALERT! Even though this book is the fifth in the series, it really is the first one you can read alone. Some of the characters from Racing Savannah make appearances, but you don’t have to read any of the previous books to enjoy this one.

"Sometimes letting go is the only way to hold on."

The Country Music Marathon is in six months and non-runner Annie Winters is training to run it, for him. During the past year, Kyle had been training to run the marathon in Nashville. It was a dream of his since he had started running track in middle school. Having no experience, Annie's health teacher, Coach Woods (Jordan Woods from book one) tells her that she has a friend who helps people train to run marathons. Annie began training under Matt Brown (from book three). All of the training, working out and eating right has kept her mind occupied from thinking of her loss. Kyle had only worked himself up to running twenty miles before he was gone.

While on a training run one morning, a guy running backwards runs by Annie and slows. He checks her out and tells her that he is hoping to run a race backwards. Then he runs off. The following week, Annie sees him again encouraging and running with other people. At the end of the run, Annie limps to her car only to see that the boy has parked his jeep beside of her. Opening her hatchback, she pulls off her shoes when the guy comments on the blister on her foot. He is helping her take care of it when Matt comes over and asks what is going on. Before Annie can say anything, Matt tells the guy that he is trying to build his business and to quit hitting on his clients. The guys start a scuffle but stop when Annie gets their attention by asking what is going on. Matt introduces her to his little brother Jeremiah and says that he helps clients out with pacing during the long weekend runs. Jeremiah checks her out again with Matt standing there. Matt tells him that if he doesn't take his job seriously that he won't give him a second chance. The boys leave finish cleaning up. Annie is left realizing that Jeremiah has left her unsettled.

Kyle has been gone six months. He and Annie met on the first day of high school in gym class. Not starting off on the right foot, by the end of the week Kyle had asked her to the back to school dance. Before too long, Kyle and Annie became serious, even though they were as different as night and day. Annie and Kyle had different dreams for their futures, she wanted to go to college and he wanted to start his life as soon as high school was over. At the beginning of their senior year while on a date at a drive-in movie, Kyle proposed. He was upset when she said that she didn't want to get married right away and broke up with her. A month later, he was gone. Annie blamed her mother for wanting her to go to college so that she wouldn't end up living in a trailer like her and that was why Kyle was gone. She would have married him right out of high school. Annie also blames herself. She wants to go to college too.

Soon, Annie finds butterflies are in her stomach whenever she is around Jeremiah and begins to seek him out. Likewise, Jere cannot stay away from her. As Annie graduates from high school, she continues to be haunted over the loss of Kyle. Each new milestone, experience or even a place around town brings a memory or regret about Kyle. Annie finds that she cannot move forward without thinking she was degrading Kyle's memory.

How did Kyle die? Will Annie be able to compete and finish the marathon? Can she repair her relationship with her mother? What happens when Annie decides to go back to really living her life and quit blaming herself for Kyle's death? Will Jeremiah be the person that Annie will find love with again?

Book six, Best Day Ever, will be published in 2015.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles book 1)

Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezella is the First Daughter of the House of Morrighan. She is expected, like all First Daughters, to have the gift of sight. She does not. Her father, the King, has signed a marriage agreement with the elderly King of Dalbreck to marry his son. The two kingdoms would be joined in a political alliance to better defend against the Barbarians. Lia, as she likes to called, is unhappy at the prospects of being forced into a marriage to a prince she has never seen. Based on the age of his father, he is likely much older than herself. She just wants to be with someone who loves her. On her wedding day, Lia and her maid, Pauline, flee the kingdom as they were leaving to join the processional. The two girls are heading to Terravin, a town Lia has never been to and Pauline hasn't visited since she was a young girl. Lia knows that by running away she has disgraced her father. Even though she is the king's daughter, she knows that she will be hunted and punished for treason.

After almost two weeks, the girls arrive in the bayside town of Terravin. They go to see an "aunt" who helped look after Pauline as an infant when her father died. Knocking on the door of the inn, Berdi hugs Pauline when she realizes who she is. She is willing to help the girls, especially when she finds out who Lia really is. After a few days, she begins to put both of them to work. Since no one has come to Terravin looking for them, Lia begins to relax and dream of what her life will now be like as a normal person instead of royalty. 

The prince of Dalbreck is leaving to find Princess Arabella. He is not angry at being stood up but angrier at himself for not having thought of it first. A trained, but untried soldier, his father, the King has no idea that his son and only heir is leaving. More than capable of finding her, he has no plans to talk with her. Princess Arabella sent him a note a month before their wedding. It stated that she "would like to inspect" him before their wedding day. The prince has decided that she can do just that.

The assassin has been sent after Princess Arabella by the Komizar, the ruler of Venda. An alliance between Morrighan and Dalbreck would make all of Venda's efforts futile. Rumors have it that the Princess is sighted and while they don't believe in such magic, others do. Her flight is Venda's good fortune. If the assassin can make the princess's death look like Dalbreck did it, even better.

The assassin arrives at the inn after weeks of following dead ends in an attempt to find the princess. He struck pay dirt along the way when lips loosened after a few drinks. After questioning the stable hand about some donkeys for hire, he surmises that he has finally caught up with her. Walking towards the inn, he sees a young man his age cleaning up. Knowing if he goes in alone that he will draw more suspicion, he strikes up a conversation with the man, who turns out to be the jilted prince but neither know who the other one is. They enter the inn’s tavern together and sit in the corner at the last empty table. Berdi thinks they are soldiers and doesn't want Lia to wait on anyone but she relents when Lia doesn't feel the need to hide. Gwyneth, a barmaid, tells Lia to wait on the two men since they are close to her age. She also guesses that one is a fisherman and the other a trader. Gwyneth also tells Lia that they will both want a dark cider. She saves Pauline from being groped by a soldier and the former maid runs off. Lia heads to the table and begins to strike up a conversation. She finds put that their names are Kaden and Rafe. Gwyneth comes over and tells Lia that she is needed in the kitchen. Berdi berates her for what she said to the soldier. She needs to keep a low profile. At the end of the night, Berdi tells her that she said what needed to be said and sends her to the cottage behind the inn.

Walking up the hill, Lia is surprised to find Kaden waiting for her. He tells her that he wanted to make sure she got back safely after the incident with the soldier. She realizes that he isn't a trader and discovers that he is staying in the barn loft since the inn is full. He goes to accompany her home when Rafe appears. He has come to let Kaden know that his horse is spooked in the stable. Kaden leaves. Lia turns to go when Rafe hands Lia her hat that she dropped. He comments on her hidden dagger and she assures him at she knows how to use it. Lia realizes that she has unsettled him and goes to the cottage. Lia has confused both the assassin and the prince after seeing her in the tavern. She is not quite what they expected.

The next morning, the girls help one another with their hair. Pauline begins to gently tease Lia and the two boys from the night before. She tells Lia that neither one could keep their eyes off of her and looked hurt when Berdi banished her to the kitchen. Lia tells her that she knows their names. Pauline asks about the third man. He came in after the first two. He didn't even finish his cider when she left the floor. Lia never saw him. Pauline tells her that she needs to stop being afraid; she is no longer under her father's thumb. Give the boys a chance; she knows one of them has haunted Lia's dreams. She finally admits that one of them did visit her dreams. 

Who are Kaden and Rafe? Who was the third man to enter the inn that night? Is Kaden the Prince and Rafe the assassin or vice versa? Can Lia remain hidden from her father? What was the reason the prince went looking for the girl who left him at the altar? Can the prince keep his identity a secret? Why did Pauline flee with Lia? Will the assassin be able to kill Lia? Does she have the gift of sight? Which boy caught Lia's attention and does he reciprocate? What happens when her true identity is discovered?

Readers will be left hanging to see what happens to Lia, Kaden and Rafe in the next installment of the Remnant Chronicles, The Heart of Betrayal, coming in 2015.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

"You, darling, are The DUFF. Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend."

The book does contain language that may be offensive to some and sex occurs but is never graphically described. The overall power message of the book makes it a worthwhile read.

Bianca Piper is at a teen night club with her friends, Jessica and Casey. She is the protective best friend who drags them away from the boys who might take advantage of them after a night of dancing, flirting and attracting attention. While wishing she was anywhere but The Nest, a guy who remarkable didn't smell bad sits down beside her, a change from the usual guys she unwittingly attracts. When Bianca turns to see who it is, she is angry that the school's hottest guy and biggest player, Wesley Rush, is trying to talk to her. When she begins to question his motives, he informs her that he needs her help. It is a proven fact that guys who talk to the Duff gets on the good side of the girls with whom she is friends with. Jessica and Casey are good looking and Bianca is their Duff, the designated, ugly, fat friend. Even if Wesley looks like a Greek god, Bianca knows that his soul was empty and black. Furious, she pours her Cherry Coke over his head. Grabbing her friends, they leave the club. At home later that night, Bianca catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror and Wesley's words come rushing back. She wonders why they bother her so much. 

One night after a particular hard day at school, Bianca overhears her father begging her mother to come home during a phone call. A motivational speaker, her mother has spent more time on the road than at home since her own mother died. Making herself scarce until her father hangs up, Bianca walks in as if she has heard nothing. Asking what is wrong, her father tells her that he would really like some time alone. She calls Casey and the three of them head to The Nest. Drowning her sorrows over Cherry Coke at the bar, the bartender cuts her off when she has had too many. Worrying over her father being alone, he is a recovering alcoholic; she is frustrated when Wesley sits beside her. He is still hoping to score with one her friends. She keeps telling him to leave but he quickly senses something is wrong with her. Making her to look at him, Bianca cracks and suddenly kisses him. Shocked at first, Wesley responses and Bianca begins to feel better. Then Wesley does a stupid thing and Bianca comes to her senses. She slaps him. Storming off, Bianca is more upset with herself than with Wesley.

Doing well to avoid Wesley for over a week, one day their English teacher, Mrs. Perkins, pairs them up to write an easy together. Unhappy, Bianca makes plans for Wesley to come over to her house to work the following afternoon. Bianca has a girls' night in with Casey and Jessica instead of going to the homecoming dance. Coming home the next morning, she finds the house trashed. Her mother sent divorce papers to her father and he fell off the sobriety bandwagon. Beer bottles and pictures frames are smashed all over the living room. She hears her father snoring in his bedroom. Starting to clean up her father's mess, the phone rings. It is Wesley calling to say that he is on his way over to start working on their essay for The Scarlet Letter. Not knowing what her father will be like when he wakes up, Bianca tells him that she will come to his house instead.

Arriving at the Rush mansion, Bianca is unsettled when Wesley says that his computer is in his bedroom and that they will need to work there. Surprised by the vast space of his room, Wesley asks her what she would like to write about. He was thinking about why Hester had her affair and gives his reasons. Bianca shoots back that maybe she just needed the distraction. Her mind wanders back to the divorce papers her mother sent. Wesley says that if that was the case, it didn't end too well for her. While thinking back to another time, Wesley calls her Bianca Duffy and asks what she is thinking about. She snaps at him not to call her that. As he is asking, "are you okay, Bianca---?" She moves to kiss him. Surprised, he doesn't hesitate to kiss her back. When she pulls away, Wesley asks her not to slap him again. Wanting her mind blank, she does the unthinkable. She has sex with Wesley so that she can escape her problems for a little while. Afterwards, they get started on their paper. 

As she is leaving to go home, Bianca asks Wesley not to say a word about what happened between them. He asks if it is going to happen again. She thinks to what waits her at home. He then asks if she is alright. She rushes out of the house. Wesley follows her out to her car. He bends down to her level and looks her in the eye. He asks her what is bothering her. Wesley knows that something is wrong with Bianca. She can tell that he is being sincere. She whispers that it doesn't matter if she is or not and leaves.

The following week only goes downhill for Bianca. The one boy who broke her heart is in town for a visit, with his fiancé. Her father is in denial over the divorce papers her mother sent. And Bianca finds that the only escape is in the arms of Wesley, the boy who she cannot stand. But what happens when Bianca realizes that she isn't the only one having difficulties in life? Will Bianca be able to stay away from Wesley or is he the one good thing in her life? What will her friends think when they find out the secrets that Bianca has been keeping? Can she put her life back on track? What happens when Bianca realizes that she is falling in love with Wesley?

The DUFF will be released in theaters on February 20, 2015.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines book 5)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first four books in the series, Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, The Indigo Spell and The Fiery Heart, Stop! I don't want to ruin a great series for you. It also helps greatly if you have read all six books in the Vampire Academy series as well.

Sydney and Adrian have been torn apart. Sydney's little sister, Zoe, called their father and told him about their relationship. The Alchemists came to Palm Springs and took Sydney away for reeducation. Locked in a darkened cell for over three months, Sydney finally takes a step towards redemption in the eyes of the Alchemists in order to attempt to reach Adrian. The torture continues as Sydney attempts to find a way out of her underground prison.

Adrian is slowly slipping back into his old habits as his hope for finding Sydney dwindles by the day. As he reaches rock bottom, his mother arrives, just released from prison, to take him back to Court. His relationship with Sydney is a secret to those outside of Palm Springs and everyone thinks his latest girl is a passing fling. Heartbroken over his inability to help the girl he loves, Adrian finds himself facing new challenges.

Can Sydney and Adrian find their way back to one another or will the separation from one another be too great to surpass?

Sydney and Adrian’s story concludes with The Ruby Circle in 2015..


Monday, August 4, 2014

The Testing trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau

Book one – The Testing 

The Seven Stages War left Earth a damaged and devastated world. The first four stages were brought about by manmade warfare on the Asian side of the planet and spread. During the last three stages, Earth retaliated against man for the biochemical destruction and radiation by unleashing earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. The United Commonwealth chose the former site of Wichita, Kansas as its capital because of its non-strategic location and the fact it escaped the first four stages of the war. Its new name is Tosu City.

Malencia "Cia" Vale resides in the Five Lakes colony with her parents and four older brothers. Five Lakes is one of the smallest and farthest colonies from Tosu City. She is graduating today. At sixteen, she is by far the youngest member of her class. Cia is hoping that she will be chosen for The Testing. Only the best and brightest graduates are chosen by the Commonwealth for the program. Her eldest brother, Zeen, was disappointed when he wasn’t chosen for The Testing. Their father was and attended the university where he learned to genetically alter plants and trees to be able to survive in Earth's blighted soil. His sons work with him. Cia has also been offed a job but she is more mechanically inclined and usually kills plants. Rumors swirl at the ceremony that a special guest will make an announcement. Cia is disappointed when no one is chosen for The Testing. The rumor was just a rumor after all.

The next morning, Cia's mother persuades her to go to Kip Drysten's to ask him for a job. He repairs farm equipment. Cia is relieved when he is out on a job and won’t be home for several days. She rides to the town square and is relieved that most people there are too busy to speak to her. Cia finally begins the ride back home to help her mother prepare for her graduation party that night. On the way, she runs into one of her brothers. Magistrate Owens had sent a message to their father requesting Cia's appearance at her house in just under an hour. She has to hurry to make it.

It turns out that Cia is the last to arrive. Also sitting at Magistrate Owens's house are three of her fellow graduates; Tomas Endress, Malachi Rourke and Zandri Hicks. Cia sits next to Tomas when he smiles and motions for her to sit next to him. Owens apologizes for the short notice and introduces Michal Gallen, a Tosu City official. He was supposed to attend the graduation ceremony but was delayed. He reads from a sheet of paper explaining The Testing. He ends his speech by announcing that all four of them have been chosen. They will leave in the morning. When Zandri ask if she can decline, Michael informs her that she doesn't have a choice; it is the law. Failure for not presenting oneself for The Testing is a form of treason. Everyone in the room knows that treason is punishable by death.

Cia returns home to tell her family and finds her party is in full swing. Her father is the first to notice the official United Commonwealth bag hanging from her shoulder and he immediately announces to everyone what it means. Her brothers are the first to congratulate her but she notices that her eldest brother Zeen slipping out of the room. The party turns out to be Cia's last chance to tell her friends goodbye. While helping her mother clean up afterwards, her mother weighs in on what Cia take with her. Her father comes and asks if he can take a walk with Cia to spend a little quiet time. They head out into the garden. He tells her that should have never been chosen. Shocked and angry at first, Cia cannot believe the secrets that her father divulges. He tells her to trust no one. She is no longer sure what she should expect at The Testing.

What is the purpose of The Testing? Why was Cia and the others from Five Lakes chosen after so many years of no candidates? Are the horrors that her father remembers really true? Can Cia trust the one boy from home who wants to form an alliance? Will Cia or anyone else survive? 

Book two – Independent Study

“Failure is not an option.”

Book three – Graduation Day
“The final test is the deadliest"

 Visit Joelle Charbonneau’s website.