Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands book 1)

“They say she’ll always be more gunpowder than girl. The desert has other plans.”

In the desert nation of Miraji, Amani Al’Hiza is a poor, orphaned girl but a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim. She overhears her aunt and uncle talking about finding a husband for her. It has been almost a year since Amani’s mother's execution. Her aunt comments that he needs to find husbands for his own daughters’ first. He snaps back that he can always take her as one of his own wives. Amani knows that she needs to find a way out of Dustwalk. She heads towards her one chance at freedom.

Posing as a boy, Amani uses fifty stolen fouzas to pay the entrance fee to join a shooting contest. She never removes her shema, but her light eyes do stand out in a place where everyone else has dark ones. Amani thinks that hre cover is blown when she sees that Fazim is also in the contest. Fazim is always hanging around her cousin Shira, trying to get his hands under her clothing. Out of twenty-seven entrants, Amani, aka the Blue Eyed Bandit, is in the final three with a boy they call the Foreigner and Dahmad, the house champion. Turns out Dahmad lost before to the Foreigner. Before the final round, the Foreigner plots with Amani. Neither give up their true name and in fact, give each other the same false one. They watch Dahmad continue to drown his sorrows in liquor. A shout comes from outside about the Rebel Prince and the bouncer goes outside. Soon, he drags in a young boy. The final shoot will now be a bottle off the head of the boy, but the Foreigner volunteers himself instead. Amani misses and vice versa when the two switch places. Thinking that they have earned some of the winnings, the man in charge backs out of their deal and says that it wouldn’t be fair if Dahmad didn’t shoot. The crowd begins to chat. Knowing that they were misled by the pit boss, Dahmad raises his gun to the Foreigner. Amani knows that Dahmad might actually shoot him for revenge. She bumps into Dalmad as he fires. The shot misses the Foreigner. The crowd becomes enraged and begins to riot. The two are barely able to escape the fiery venue with their lives. Trying to keep her identity a secret and knowing her aunt and uncle wouldn't look too kindly upon a foreigner, she tells him that she needs to go to a bar about her horse and runs.

The next morning, Amani goes to work at her uncle’s shop. Along the way, she sees her friend, Tamid, outside of the prayer house with a crowd. A cripple, Tamid, uses a crutch. Amani asks what everyone is staring at. At first, she only sees the blackened weapons factory but then notices the Sultan’s army marching towards town. Tamid says that the are here because the pistol pit in Deadshot burned down the night before and a riot occurred along with talk of the Rebel Prince. Tamid realizes that Amani was at the pistol pit and chastises her for it. The two part and Amani opens her uncle’s shop.

During the quiet of the day, Amani begins to formulate a new plan to get out of Dustwalk, least she stay there and either be dead or wed. Late that afternoon, she hears the hoofbeats of the soldiers’ horses pass in front of the store. Suddenly, she sees a shadow dive into the shop, out of sight of the soldiers. Amani reaches for Aunt Farrah’s rifle but the man doesn’t come for her. He is hiding from the soldiers. After they pass, she comments to the hiding man. He turns around and Amani realizes that he is the Foreigner from the pistol pit. He doesn’t seem to recognize her and Amani is a bit disappointed. Knowing that the soldiers are coming back, Amani offers him a place to hide behind her counter. Three soldiers enter and begin looking around the store. One is a young looking commander who states that they are looking for a foreign man. Amani doesn’t give the Foreigner away but does have a problem keeping her smart mouth to herself. The commander tells Amani that the man is wanted for treason and she promises that she will tell someone if she happens to see him. The soldiers leave.  

Amani gets a better look at the Foreigner and notices that he has been shot. He asks why she is helping him when Commander Naguib Al’Oman said that he was dangerous. She removes the bullet and sutures his wound. Amani asks him how he committed treason against the sultan when he clearly isn't from Miraji. He was actually born in Izman, the town Amani is desperate to reach where her aunt supposedly lives. His mother is from Xicha, where he has lived most of his life. Amani asks what it is like and he explains. She questions what he is actually doing there and he counters with why she lied for him. Amani asks if the commander is actually the sultan’s son and she says that everyone knows the story of how the Rebel Prince took Naguib’s place at the Sultim trials. Finishing up the stitches, he turns around and Amani notices his physique. He is quite handsome. He asks for her name and she counters that she doesn’t know his. He replies Jin. Jin says that he isn’t lying and that he would be dead without her help. Amani tells him hers and offers to get him a new shirt. He states that he needs to be leaving before the army comes back. Amani asks to go with him but he refuses. She has no idea where he is going. She is begging him when the bells start ringing. He remarks that it is a bit early for prayer bells but Amani knows that they aren’t a call to prayer.  A hunt is occurring and she runs for the door, leaving Jin behind.

Outside, Amani runs into Tamid. He tells her that a Buraqi, a magical desert horse, has been spotted. Tamid tells Amani to leave but she grabs some iron and runs after it. A Buraqi will take mortal form if enough iron and a female are present. Whichever female causes the Buraqi to gain mortal form, will “own it” or her husband or guardian will and can sell it for a lot of money. Trapped in a circle, women are scrambling to claim the horse. Amani knocks her cousin Shira down and is able to claim the horse. Uncle Asid takes the Buraqi as Amani is shoved away. A hand grabs her from behind and drags her away. It is Fazim.

He asks Amani to marry him. Fazim knows that she is the Blue-eyed Bandit from the pistol pit. He was planning on marrying Shira. She was his best bet to get rich and leave town until Amani caught the Buraqi. She would rather be shot first. Fazim says that is what will happen once the army finds out that she has been with the wanted foreigner. Shira catches them as Fazim threatens Amani with degrading her first if she refuses to marry him. He pulls away and she is able to run. Amani makes a mad dash home to get some things she needs in order to leave. Amani is able to grab a shirt for Jin before Aunt Farrah can catch her She is disappointed to find that Jin isn’t waiting for her at the shop. Leaving, Tamid finds her. He quickly realizes that she is planning to flee with the Buraqi and is hurt that she didn’t tell him. Tamid tells he that he was planning on asking her uncle for her hand in marriage in order to keep her safe. Their marriage would keep her away from Fazim, the army and her family .Before she can respond, Fazim appears in the crowd. Tamid tells her to run and she does. Aunt Farrah finds her next and wants to know where she is going. Amani says that she is going far away and if she does, Farrah will never have to worry with her ever again. Farrah lets her go just as Commander Naguib grabs her. Fazim has turned her in. Naguib looks at her eyes and Amani knows that her looks have betrayed her. The commander threatens to shoot her but Fazim says that her cripple should be used against her. That will get her to talk. Naguib interrogates Amani but he doesn’t like her answers. He shoots Tamid in his bad leg anyway. Continuing with his questioning, Amani feels a gun pressed against her cheek as the world around her explodes with light and noise.

Waking up, Amani sees that Tamid is lying face down. His mother is leaning over him. She sees that the weapons factory is on fire. Everyone is screaming and praying as Commander Naguib orders his men around, forgetting about Amani. She hears the scream of the Buraqi and sees Jin riding on its back. They are racing down the street. With seconds to decide, Amani grabs Jin’s hand when he offers it, knowing it is her last chance at escape.

Why does Amani have blue eyes when everyone else’s are brown? Is Tamid dead or alive? What becomes of her Uncle Asid and Aunt Farrah after she leaves? Who is Jin? Why is he wanted for treason? Where does he end up taking Amani? Will she stick with him or betray him to get to where she wants to go?

Readers will be eagerly waiting on book two.

Visit Alwyn Hamilton’s website.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (The Dark Artifices book 1) (Shadowhunters book 10)

SPOILER POTENTIAL! This is the start of a new series in the Shadowhunter world but most of the characters in this book have appeared in the Mortal Instruments series. Both of the main characters in this book were introduced in City of Heavenly Fire. Events that transpired in the Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy also play a part since they occur before this book.

“It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?”

Ms. Clare takes the reader back into the Shadowhunter world, but this time to Los Angeles. Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn are life long friends and parabatai. Emma is on track to become a great Shadowhunter, like Jace Herondale. Her parents’ unsolved murders and need for revenge are what has drove her the past five years. Over anything else, she will protect the Blackthorns as if they were her family, which after living the past five years with them at the LA Institute, they are. Julian became a man before he could finish being a child, tasked with the care of his four younger siblings. The older Blackthorn half-siblings are part fey and have been outcast from the Shadowhunter world after the Dark War and Cold Peace. He also lives with the nightmare of killing his own father in order to protect his brothers and sisters. Julian is truly alone, even with Emma by his side, as he keeps his own secrets. The two were virtually inseparable before a Blackthorn summer trip to a relative in England. Once back at the Institute, Julian has withdrawn from Emma and even stated that he wished that he didn’t have a parabatai. She is left wondering what has gone wrong with their relationship.

When a new series of murders hit LA that mirror her own parents’, the fey come to the institute to ask for help and bring Mark Blackthorn as a bargaining chip. With time passing differently in fey, Mark is no longer the older brother. With the introduction of a new cast of characters and the return of some old favorites, fans of the book series will be left hoping that everything will work out in the end but will have a bumpy road to get their.

The story will continue with the next book in the Dark Artifices series with Lord of Shadows.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

"The Rules:

Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.

Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you're just getting in my way or bothering me.

Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter. 

Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react—shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened—both with Scott, and her dad—the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, debut author Eric Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not." - taken from

Awesome book! Absolutely adored Parker's story.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

first & then by Emma Mills

"Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights
 in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself."  -

Wild Crush by Simone Elkeles (Wild Cards book 2)

“When the only girl you want is the one you can’t have …”

SPOILER ALERT! Just an FYI, the main characters from the first book, do appear in this story. Spoilers for how Wild Cards ends.

“Bad boy Vic Salazar breaks all the rules except one: Don't make a move on your best friend's girl. It’s a Guy Code that Vic lives by. It doesn't matter that he's had a crush on her for years. Monika Fox is off limits.

Monika has a secret of her own and when a tragedy throws her and Vic together, the only boy she trusts is the one she shouldn’t confide in. Vic.

As Vic struggles to keep his distance, and Monika struggles with her secrets, will their wild connection violate every rule both vowed never to break—about relationships, about friendship, about love?” -

Visit Simone Elkeles’ website.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

“She is myth. She is history. She is gone.”

Slate is a Navigator who time travels aboard the Temptation. Originally from modern day New York, he is on a quest to return to Honolulu, 1868. His sixteen-year-old daughter, Nix, travels with him but he has yet to teach her how to Navigate. He is depressed over his continued failure to return to Lin, Nix’s mother, and save her life. He originally navigated to Hawaii on an old map by Augustus Mitchell, 1866. There, Slate met Lin at an opium den where she worked. Lin was able to break Slate’s addiction to the drug but since her death, he has relapsed. Lin died from an infection that would be easily cured with modern day antibiotics on the day Nix was born. Slate had Navigated to a map of Hong Kong, 1850 in order to earn the money to marry Lin. He had no idea that she was pregnant. Slate traveled back to Honolulu on a map he had for 1869. Upon arrival, Slate found Nix instead and learned that Lin had died. Now, he is on a mission to locate a map of Honolulu, 1868 in order to go back and save Lin. If he is successful, no one knows if Nix will continue to exist. The only thing that is known for sure is that every time they Navigate, the past is changed.

Nix has dreams of her own. Having never really belonged to a particular time or place, she has stolen a map from Slate and hidden it. She is preparing to set off on her own once she learns how to Navigate. Her destination? A map of Carthage during Roman rule in 165 A.D. She knows that if she strikes out on her own that she will never see her father’s crew, including Kashmir, again. Nix is tired of Slate’s moods and constantly worrying about her future. Slate’s current plan is to Navigate the Temptation to New York 2016 and purchase a map of Hawaii, dated 1868 from Christie’s auction. With money in hand from the sale of a gold pocket watch that Kashmir lifted during their last map Navigation, Slate is successful in his bid to purchase the map. The map is delivered later that day to the Temptation. In his cabin, Slate shows it to Nix and her worries are compounded after looking at it. It looks authentic. Nix’s heart is touched when her father says that he cannot wait for her to finally meet her mother. In the moment, Slate tells her that Navigating isn’t just about the maps but also believing that it will work. Slate knows that it is also fate that Lin will be there waiting on him. Nix now knows that her father is delusional.     

The Temptation sets out the following morning. Slate is Navigating and Nix soon realizes that the map is actually working. Once the ship arrives at the new map, Nix is surprised to find that she is still around. Slate is ecstatic until he looks at the landscape about a half mile at shore and his disappointment is evident. He shakes off Nix’s attempts to talk to him and leaves. Nix scans the landscape herself and notices that the flags are flying at half staff at Iolani Palace. The Palace wasn’t been built in 1868. Thinking back, Nix didn’t immediately realize that the palace shouldn’t have been on the map. She was too focused on the date. Kashmir, a member of her father’s crew, asks her if the map or the captain is the one broken. Nix isn’t sure but she hopes that the mapmaker, A. Sutfin, might be able to answer that question.

Will Slate be able to Navigate back to Honolulu 1868 and save the love of his life? Would Nix cease to exist if he is able? How does Navigation work? Does anyone suspect Nix’s plans of heading out on her own? Why didn’t A. Sutfin’s map work? Can Nix locate Sutfin? What happens when Nix goes to Honolulu learns more about her mother? Who will she meet?

Visit Heidi Heilig’s website.