Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles book 2)

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the series, The Kiss of Deception, Stop! I don’t want to ruin one of my favorite series for you. You have been warned!

Please visit the Recaptains blog if you need a refresher on the first book in the series.

Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia, aka Lia, the First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, has jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Kaden, the assassin sent by Venda, and his men have recaptured her. He will present her as the princess and tell the Komizar about her "gift". Kaden doesn't know that Lia had discovered that she really does possess the gift. She had to watch helplessly as Vendan soldiers slaughtered a small band of Morrigan forces that included her brother, Walther. As their group prepares to enter Venda, Rafe appears. He convinces Kaden to take him to see the Komizar as an emissary of the Prince of Dalbreck. Lia realizes that Rafe is Crown Prince Jaxon Tyrus Rafferty of Dalbreck, the man she was suppose to marry.

The processional heads towards Sanctum Hall, the place where the governors of Vendan meet with the Komizar. Kaden has warned Lia to be quiet; he will talk for her. Wagons full of weapons and other loot accompany them. Lia soon loses sight of Kaden. Inside the hall, several of the governors begin to look through the weapons. It's not long before she sees Walther's sword and baldric. She knows that she needs to keep quiet and bide her time, even though it nearly kills her to see it manhandled.. She notices a pair of eyes against the wall staring at Kaden, but they soon turn towards her. He begins to step towards them and Lia knows the man is the Komizar. He is nothing like Lia would have expected. Unlike his brash and brutal governors, the Komizar is clean, thin and simply dressed. He couldn't be much older than Walther was. The Komizar could pass for Kaden's older brother rather than his ruler. He doesn't look particularly pleased to see that Kaden didn't follow his orders. Kaden states that she has the "gift", but the Komizar seems skeptical. He speaks to Lia but she doesn't respond. Kaden tells her that she can but she knows that she would be better off to bide her time. Unable to get a reaction from her, the Komizar begins looking through the looted weapons. He quickly finds Walther's baldric and begins inspecting it. He states that it is too finely made to belong to anyone other than a crown prince. He looks over and Lia cannot control her reaction. The Komizar has found a way to get to her. He orders her placed in the dungeon. As soon as she is thrown in the dark cell, she realizes that she is not alone.

The Komizar questions Kaden about why he disobeyed his orders to kill Lia. Kaden tries to pay off the gifted angle but the Komizar knows that Kaden has fallen for her. He must leave to  on some business and asks his brother to accompany him. Kaden declines. The Komizar knows that he just got back and could use a couple days of rest. There will be work to be done one he returns. He doesn't mention Lia but Kaden knows that the Komizar demands loyalty to their country above all else.

It turns out that the guards have placed her in the same cell as Rafe. They are glad to see one another and Lia helps bandage some of his wounds. He apologizes for deceiving her but she isn’t ready to forgive him. In fact, she slaps him across the cheek. Lia wants to know if he was just interested in her because she is a princess. At first, he was furious with her but he fell for the spunky, outspoken girl she is. If she was just a barmaid, he would still be kissing her back at the tavern. Instead, he had followed her to keep her safe. Rafe knows that the two of them need to get their stories straight before they are questioned. He tells her that he has help on the way in the form of four men. Lia knows how many Vendean forces there are and asks him if he doesn’t mean four thousand. no and not four hundred either. Rafe has four very capable men coming in the next few days. Lia is skeptical that the two of them will be able to escape. Suddenly, Lia is dragged off.

Lia is taken for a bath before her meeting with the Komizar. She is dressed in a rough spun dress that is too big. She has to belt it with a rope. Upon entering the Komizar’s chamber, she sees that Kaden and Rafe are both there as well. The Komizar questions Rafe about why he went looking for the princess. He brings in one of his trusted men who had been In Dalbreck the year before to verify Rafe's claim or face death. Lia is nervous that his true identity will be discovered. When the man, Griz, comes in, the Komizar asks if he recognizes Rafe. He glances at Lia before claiming that he saw Rafe as the prince's right hand man. Lia wonders who Griz lied for; her or Rafe. The Komizar dismisses Griz and asks Rafe what the message is. The King of Dalbreck is dying and the Prince is looking to make a more advantageous alliance with Venda rather than Morrighan. The Komizar isn't fully trusting but waiting just a few weeks for the prince's messenger won't hurt. He dismisses everyone. Kaden and Lia are left behind. To his dismay, Kaden is told to leave the Komizar and Lia alone. He reluctantly leaves. The Komizar wants to know why Lia didn't react to the news of Dalbreck's betrayal. Her father considers her a traitor and her brother is dead. She had nothing left to lose. That is where she is wrong, says the Komizar.

Are Rafe and Lia rescued? Who is the Komizar to Kaden? Does the Komizar or Kaden discover who Rafe truly is? Will Lia’s father, the King of Morrighan, do anything about her plight or does he still consider her a traitor? What are the Komizar's plans for Lia? Who is Griz? Will Lia's heart remain with Rafe or will Kaden be able to break through? What secrets does Kaden keep? Can Lia survive her latest trial? What else can she lose?

The Remnant Chronicles will be concluded with book three, The Beauty of Darkness, in 2016.

Visit Mary E. Pearson’s website.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally (Hundred Oakes book 6)

SERIES ALERT! This is the sixth installment in the Hundred Oaks series. Some characters from previous books do appear but they in no way spoil the story.

Maya Henry needs to complete her job shadowing assignment before she can graduate from Hundred Oaks High School. Her principal, Dr. Salter, has arranged for her to shadow his nephew. A budding musician, her principal’s nephew turns out to be hot country music star, Jesse Scott. When her principal takes Maya backstage at one of Jesse’s concerts, the two don’t initially hit it off. Maya doesn’t fawn all over Jesse because he is a star. In fact, she stands up for herself and leaves. Jesse chases after her and apologizes. She returns with him. The two decide with Dr. Salter to get together the following Friday. Maya and Dr. Slater have front row center seats for the concert. He tells Maya that he thinks the two of them will be good for each other; Jesse doesn’t have many friends his age. As the concert winds down, Jesse makes a startling announcement. At the end of the year, he will be leaving the music industry.

The following week, the bottom drops out of Maya’s world. Maya loves music but feels better performing as a part of a group rather than as a solo act. She dropped out of her school’s show choir to start a band, The Fringe. Wanting to branch out music wise and get away from their heavy metal playlist, Maya finds that her band mates decide to kick her out of the band she started. Even worse, Nate, her sometimes boyfriend on the side, decides he wants to date their synthesizer player. The two of them hooked up in secret so as not to affect the band. Heartbroken, she holds it in even as she wonders how she can make her dreams of a career in music a reality.

The day of her job shadowing experience, Dr. Salter drives Maya over to Jesse’s house. Jesse opens the door wearing only his boxers. Dr. Salter chastises his nephew. The two have a schedule for the day and Jesse’s manager will be their chaperone. He will be at the house in a few minutes so Dr. Salter leaves the two of them alone for the brief time. Jesse sees Maya noticing his guitars on the wall. Their conversation turns towards Maya’s music and if she plays. He hands her a guitar and asks her to sing. Maya doesn’t like to be singled out because her voice cracks when she sings alone. Jesse encourages her and Maya sings, even though her voice does crack. Jesse gives her praise. He offers to cook her breakfast since his manager still isn’t there. As they talk, Jesse decides that they should ditch their planned schedule and see in the real world of music, not take a tour of the Grand Ole Opry. They leave and Jesse takes Maya to his recording studio. She is awed by the facility and is nervous when Jesse has his private voice coach meet with them. Jesse has asked Holly to come and work with Maya. He believes she has talent but just hasn’t had the opportunity to be properly trained. Jesse’s manager finally catches up with them along with a couple of publicists. Jesse wants to blow them off and be left alone. They go off to lunch and the afternoon soon turns into Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Jesse and Maya both learn that the other one isn’t what they seem to be based on first impressions.

What does Maya learn from her job shadowing experience? Why is Jesse Scott leaving the music business? Will Maya’s band take her back or will she find the courage to strike out on her own? What occurs when Dr. Salter discovers that the two of them didn’t follow the schedule he outlined for them? Can Maya find a way to make her dream of a music career come true? Will knowing Jesse open some doors for her? What happens when sparks fly between Maya and Jesse? Will Dr. Salter and the Henry family approve?

Maya is Sam Henry’s little sister. Fans of the Hundred Oaks series will be thrilled to see glimpses into the lives of both Sam Henry and Jordan Woods from the first book in the series, Catching Jordan.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Heir Chronicles by Cinda Williams Chima

The Warrior Heir - book one

Trinity, Ohio

Jack Swift has taken medication every morning of his life since he was an infant after he had life saving heart surgery. The day of soccer tryouts, he forgets to take it even after his mother, Becka, reminded him when his friend Will Childers picks him up for school. Not able to go home and take it nor does his mother answer her phone to bring it to him, he does without. The new girl at school, Ellen Stephenson, asks him if he wants to study after school but he unfortunately declines because of tryouts. He knows she won't ask again so the next move will have to come from him. At tryouts, his ex-girlfriend, Leesha, drapes herself all over him. Ellen as well as Leesha's new boyfriend, Garrett Lobeck, are watching. Ellen leaves and Lobeck takes out his aggression on Jack on the field. Jack steels himself for another cheap shot when the unexplainable happens. He raises his arms and a strange tingle takes over. Lobeck is thrown back into the goal and is momentarily dazed. He calls foul but Jack swears that he didn't touch him. Will backs him up and Coach Slansky calls it for the day.

On the way home, Jack notices a strange man with a long coat behind him. Jack shows Will the man and Will calls out to Nick Snowboard. When he steps out, Jack recognizes him as Nick but something about him is off. Everyone he sees on his way tells him to hurry home and take his medicine. Jack sometimes hates living in a small town. It seems everyone knows everyone else's business. Once there, he sees his mother crying at the kitchen table. She was worried by his message and had the neighbors out looking for him. Jack mentions Nick but she says that she hadn't talked to him. His mother tells him that his aunt Linda is coming for a visit and hands him his medicine. Jack takes it and has a strange feeling of loss. Back at the school, two strange men dressed in long coats enter Coach Slansky's office. He doesn't know them. They ask about a boy but he tells them he had around thirty boys for tryouts. The coach becomes suspicious but soon fear sets in. The older of the two ask if there was a release of power, maybe a fight. No fights, just some competitive plays and says that if he knew more information, he could help them better. The two take the coach's list of players and ask him to circle his top five. They will start there. The man touches him from his shoulder to his head and whispers something that he might have remembered hearing in Catholic school. The coach wakes up sometime later, not recalling what has happened.

After dinner, Jack crosses the driveway and heads up to the garage apartment where Nick lives. Linda found Nick as Jack’s caretaker for Becka. They share dessert and Nick starts in on Jack about taking his medicine. Nick then asks about tryouts. Jack tells him about Garrett flying through the air and how he never touched him. Nick asks how Garrett is and whether or not he might make a big deal of the situation. Nick hands him a metal charm that he claims to protect against evil. Just something to humor an old man. He also wants to know who saw what happened. Jack then comments on how his medicine makes him feel. He felt great during the day but now he feels a bit suffocated. Nick wants to know if he has discussed how he feels with his mother. She doesn't listen and thinks that Dr. Longbranch "is some kind of wizard." Nick chokes and spits out his tea. Nick suggests that maybe he needs to talk with his Aunt Linda about cutting back on his medicine. Jack tells Nick that she will be arriving tomorrow.

The next morning, Jack finds his mother and aunt in the kitchen talking. They stop when he walks in. His mother lets him know her good news. They will be spending the summer in England and she will be teaching at Oxford. Linda has come to do some genealogical research at a neighboring courthouse. Jack can invite his friends, Will and Harmon Fitch, to go with them. He finally agrees and she is ready leave right then. His mother reminds the two of school and Linda says they will head down afterwards. At school, Garrett and two of his friends confront Jack and Will. Jack cannot help but notice the man standing with Mr. Penworthy, the principal. He keeps looking at Jack. Garrett threatens Jack and somehow Jack stands up to him. The principal sees the exchange and Garrett's action. The two men come over and Garrett is assigned detention. Mr. Penworthy introduces the man as Mr. Hastings, the new assistant principal. He will be in charge of discipline. Mr Hastings states that he will also be developing programs for the "more gifted students." Penworthy is thrown and Jack gets some strong vibes of danger. Hastings asks the boys if any of them are on the soccer team. He plans on helping to coach the team as well. The bell rings and the boys head off to homeroom. Will and Fitch both get permission to go with Jack and Linda.

At home, Linda gives him a package from Mercedes. Inside is a grey vest. Jack doesn't want to wear it but Linda insists. He can wear it under a sweatshirt. He does. Linda drives at a high rate of speed to the courthouse. It's Friday night but Linda insists that the courthouse will be open. Walking down an alleyway, she checks to see if anyone is watching before descending down a staircase. The door at the bottom is open. Linda has the boys look for the death record of Jack's great, great grandmother. They find it and see that Susannah Downey died at a young age of an accident. Linda is disappointed that her grave site isn't mentioned. They start looking to see if she was buried on their farm when Jack hears a noise. Linda turns off the lights and tells them to run. She will meet them at the cafe in thirty minutes. As they attempt to leave, they see a strange man. Something fires and hits Jack in the back, knocking him down. Fitch and Will pick him up and they hide in some shrubs by the building. Fitch wants to know where the guy got his light saber and Jack looks at him questioningly. They tell him a light hit him in the back and that he should be hurt. Fitch sees that there is a hole in his sweatshirt and it falls apart when Jack takes it off. Remarkably, Jack is uninjured and the vest underneath is intact.

The boys go to the Bluebird Cafe to wait and see if Linda will show up. She does but is clearly rattled. She apologizes for bringing Will and Fitch along. Linda is looking for a family "heirloom" and the man will follow her to find it. She wants to take the boys back to the hotel and keep them out of danger. She will need Jack's help to recover the item. They need to lose the guy, it won't be good if he sees them together. Fitch and Will offer to help. If Linda is alone, the man will follow her. Jack doesn't like it. She tells him that he will be in danger too if he is seen with her. Jack wants to know how important it is that she wins. "Winning is everything" Linda says. Jack wonders how much this dangerous quest has to do with him. The group hatches their plan.

Why does Jack have to take his medicine daily? What really happened between he and Garrett during tryouts? Who were the men who visited Coach Slansky and who are they looking for? Why was everyone in town telling Jack to go home and take his medicine? Who is Mr. Hastings and why is he at the high school? Why is Linda looking for Susanah Downey's grave? Who is the man who found them at the courthouse? How did Jack survive the attack? What secrets are being kept from Jack?

The Warrior Heir - book two

Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley doesn't really know what he is. Orphaned, he doesn't have anyone to help him with his powers. His foster mother knew, but she mostly kept him in the dark. After her death three years ago, he found out he had a sizable trust fund and a legal guardian. Seph's guardian won't tell him anything about his birth family. When he meets Alicia at a club, Seph thinks he has finally found someone who can help him. Unfortunately, she slips him something. Seph is unable to control his powers and tragedy strikes. In order for the charges to be dropped, Seph must leave Toronto. His lawyer has found a boarding school on Maine for him to attend. He just wants to find Alicia and get some answers.

The Havens is located in the middle of nowhere in Maine. When he meets the headmaster, Gregory Leicester, he thinks he has finally found a kindred spirit. As time goes on, Seph realizes that he just might be in over his head when it comes to his lack of knowledge, especially when Dr. Leicester makes demands that Seph won’t meet.

Even though new characters are introduced, the story comes full circle and heads back to some familiar faces back in Trinity.

The Dragon Heir - book three

Without giving too much away, the story comes with a familiar character and the introduction of a new one.

Dead To Me - short story bridging the first three books to the last two in this series. It can be found at http://www.cindachima.com/Enchanter_Heir/Dead%20To%20Me.pdf

The Enchanter Heir - book four

They called it the Thorn Hill Massacre—the brutal attack on a once-thriving Weir community. Though Jonah Kinlock lived through it, he did not emerge unscathed: like the other survivors, Jonah possesses unique magical gifts that set him apart from members of the mainline guilds. At seventeen, Jonah has become the deadliest assassin in Nightshade, a global network that hunts the undead. He is being groomed to succeed Gabriel Mandrake, the sorcerer, philanthropist, and ruthless music promoter who established the Thorn Hill Foundation, the public face of Nightshade. More and more, Jonah’s at odds with Gabriel’s tactics and choice of targets. Desperate to help his dying brother Kenzie, Jonah opens doors that Gabriel prefers to keep closed.

Emma Claire Greenwood grew up worlds away, raised by a grandfather who taught her music rather than magic. An unschooled wild child, she runs the streets until the night she finds her grandfather dying, gripping a note warning Emma that she might be in danger. The clue he leaves behind leads Emma into Jonah’s life—and a shared legacy of secrets and lingering questions.

Was Thorn Hill really a peaceful commune? Or was it, as the Wizard Guild claims, a hotbed of underguild terrorists? The Wizards’ suspicions grow when members of the mainline guilds start turning up dead. They blame Madison Moss and the Interguild Council, threatening the fragile peace brokered at Trinity.

Racing against time, Jonah and Emma work to uncover the truth about Thorn Hill, amid growing suspicion that whoever planned the Thorn Hill Massacre might strike again. - taken from Goodreads.com

A couple of years have passed since the events in The Dragon Heir. New characters are introduced but old favorites appear and the story is continued.

The Sorcerer Heir - book five

The delicate peace between Wizards and the underguilds (Warriors, Seers, Enchanters, and Sorcerers) still holds by the thinnest of threads, but powerful forces inside and outside the guilds threaten to sever it completely.

Old friends and foes return as new threats arise in this stunning and revelatory conclusion to the beloved and bestselling Heir Chronicles series. - taken from Goodreads.com

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

Modern Day Toronto

The Speckled Muse Bookshop is located in one of the oldest buildings in Toronto. A historical three story building, it was bought by Crystal and Becca Hatcher's great grandfather for his wife. A wealthy man at the time, it allowed his book loving wife to open a bookstore. Having lost his fortune, the bookshop was the only thing left. The first floor housed the bookshop while the top two floors comprised the Hatcher family home. The two girls live there with their mother. Becca is a bookaholic while Crystal cannot wait to graduate from high school and become a photographer. Coming home late from taking pictures while skipping school, Becca is mad at Crys for causing her to miss her book club meeting. The girls argue but decide to finish up in the shop before their mother comes home. Becca goes to shelve some new inventory while Crystal sorts the mail. She sees a parcel addressed to her mother from her aunt Jackie. Crystal rips into the package even though it is for her mother. Inside is a very old and heavy book bound in leather. There is no title on the spine. A piece of paper falls out. It tells Jules that she "finally found it. Grandma would be proud. Keep it safe, and I'll be in touch as soon as I can." Crys opens the book and it looks like one of a kind, like the monks use to work on. She doesn't recognize the language. She walks back to the children's section where Becca is working. Becca wants to know what she has. They look over the book and Crys wonders how much it is worth. Becca is studying the book when Crystal notices a funny look on her face. She asks her what is wrong and Becca comments that the book is doing something. It feels like it is pulling her in. Crystal freaks out and tries to take the book from her hands. Becca cannot let go of it. The pages begin to glow and Crystal grabs the book but is shocked. Becca is terrified and Crystal tries to help her. Becca is engulfed by the bright light. She finally drops the book but Crystal cannot get a response from her sister. She stares, breathes and blinks but her mind and soul are gone. Crystal is left alone with the book responsible.

Crystal calls 911 and leaves a frantic message for her mother. She meets her girls at the hospital. She stopped by the bookshop and chastises Crystal for opening her package. She tells her that everything will be alright and sends her home. Unable to sleep that night, she picks up the phone when it rings. Crystal overhears her mother and her sister Jackie talking. Neither knows what has happened to Becca or how to bring her back. Her mother mentions talking to the girls' father. When he left the family two years earlier, Crystal was crushed. Their mother never told them why he left. Jackie tells her to give up hope. Daniel was drawn in by the secret society and is no longer any use to them. Jackie knows that the book is the key. Markus King, who stolen everything from them, would do anything to get his hands on it. She promises to help Becca without involving Daniel. The call ends and Crystal is left with even more questions than before. Getting up, she scrolls through her cell phone until she finds her father's name. Even though he hasn't called her in two years, she sends a text to him asking if he is still in Toronto and can he meet with her. Crystal is shocked when minutes later he tells her that he is still in town and will meet her.

Northern Mytica - Year 15 of the Goddess Valoria's Reign

Maddox Corso and his guardian Livius have a pretty good racket going on. Maddox has an impeccable reputation as a spirit vanquisher. Livius owes a small fortune to the moneylenders from his days as a gambler with bad luck. While on their latest con, Maddox sees a beautiful girl in strange dress that he thinks is the daughter of their latest con, Lord Gillis. She is wearing blue, tight fitting trousers when only Mytican men wear a baggy style. He tells her that the spirit is gone and she looks at him questionably. Livius wants to know who he is speaking to. Turns out that neither man can see her. Lord Gillis tells them that he doesn't have a daughter, only sons. Maddox notices that the girl looks terribly confused. He is stupefied when Gillis walks right through her. She tells him that he is the only one who can see her. She begs him to help her. Maddox's hand passes through her. He doesn't feel anything, unlike the chill when he encounters a spirit. Unable to escape from her, the girl tells Maddox that her name is Becca Hatcher. She doesn't know what has happened to her or how she got there, but he is going to help her get back home.

Becca follows Maddox around a festival. When a commotion breaks out, Maddox goes to see what is going on. A young girl has been accused as a witch. The Goddess Valoria has outlawed elemental magic out of fear that her own powers would be overthrown. Becca is horrified and tells Maddox that if he doesn't do something to help her, she will haunt him. He has no doubt that she wouldn't do it. Unable to control his magic, Maddox is just as surprised as the crowd when the guard holding the young girl begins choking. The girl is just standing there when Maddox tells her to run. She does and Maddox turns to find a guard behind him. The guard wants to know what has just happened. Maddox attempts to play dumb when he is knocked unconscious. He wakes up looking for Becca but finds himself behind bars. Livius, as well as his moneylender, Cena, are there. Livius is arguing with the guards but Cena is looking for the reward being offered for the boy who can talk with spirits. The guard assures Cena that Maddox won't immediately be executed. The goddess wants to speak to him first.

What is the book that aunt Jackie sent to her sister? Why had they been looking for it? Where is it from? How did Becca's spirit get to ancient Mytica? Can Maddox help her get back? Will she be able to rescue Maddox? What happens when he is brought before the Goddess Valoria? Why did Daniel Hatcher leave his family? What secret society did he join? Why does Markus King want the book?

The story will be continued in 2016 with book two in this companion trilogy to the Fallen Kingdoms series.