Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

“For fans of The Princess Bride comes the comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey.
Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger—and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England.
Like that could go wrong.” - taken from Goodreads.com
“Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?” - taken from the front flap
Who was Lady Jane Grey? According to Wikipedia.com,  “Lady Jane Grey (1536/1537 – 12 February 1554), also known as Lady Jane Dudley[3] or the Nine-Day Queen,[4] was an English noblewoman and de facto monarch of England and Ireland from 10 July until 19 July 1553.
The great-granddaughter of Henry VII through his younger daughter Mary, Jane was a first cousin once removed of Edward VI. In May 1553, she was married to Lord Guildford Dudley, a younger son of Edward's chief minister, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. When the 15-year-old king lay dying in June 1553, he nominated Jane as successor to the Crown in his will, thus subverting the claims of his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth under the Third Succession Act. Jane was imprisoned in the Tower of London when the Privy Council decided to change sides and proclaim Mary as queen on 19 July 1553. Jane was convicted of high treason in November 1553, which carried a sentence of death, although her life was initially spared. Wyatt's rebellion of January and February 1554 against Queen Mary I's plans to marry Philip of Spain led to the execution of both Jane and her husband.
Lady Jane Grey had an excellent humanist education and a reputation as one of the most learned young women of her day.[5] A committed Protestant, she was posthumously regarded as not only a political victim but also a martyr.”
In what can be best described as a historical fantasy, our trio of authors have changed history and given a comedic twist to it. The Tudor period of British history is one of my favorites. The story of Lady Jane Grey is quite tragic but the authors have taken great pains to rewrite history. Instead of England being divided between the Protestants and the Catholics due to Henry VIII’s split from the church to divorce his first wife, the English are divided between the Eðians (people who are able to shift into various animal forms) and the Verities (those who cannot). The first half of the book is pretty accurate to history but part two is a big deviation from what we know. To me, this book didn’t disappoint. I loved all of the puns, twists of history, and side references by the authors. A definite read for history or fantasy fans.
Visit the My Lady Jane website.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker (The Witch Hunter book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the series, The Witch Hunter, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

"I think, in time, you'll either be my greatest mistake or my greatest victory."

“Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He's readying for a war against those who would resist his rule--namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.

Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth's strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she'll go to save those she loves.” - Goodreads.com

Over two months has passed since Lord Blackwell’s masque where all heck broke loose. Blackwell stole the throne of Anglia from his nephew, King Malcolm and Elizabeth Grey killed her closest friend, Caleb, broke the tablet that freed Nicholas from his curse, and relinquished her stigma to John Raleigh so that he would live. Elizabeth is now healed enough to answer her summons to appear before the council to see if she can remain in Harrow. When several of Blackwell’s men are able to break the magical wards around Harrow, Elizabeth realizes that until Blackwell is dead, she will never be free.

A great conclusion to this duology that pits Elizabeth Grey against everyone, including herself. Can Blackwell be stopped? What happens to the kingdom of Anglia? Will Elizabeth Grey find peace for all of her past deeds and move forward? Why is she so special that Blackwell will not let her go?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

“What happens when the girl who’s lost everything meets the boy who has it all?”

“Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.” - taken from Goodreads.com

What could have turned out to be a sad book based on all that has happened in Maguire's life, it’s not. As she is leaving a session at her therapist's office, a cute boy waiting takes notice of her and speaks. Not really wanting to get involved with him, she doesn’t play at hard to get, she is. It’s not until Maguire decides to try out for her new school’s tennis team at the suggestion of Dr. Leeds that she learns who the boy is. Jordy Wheeler is a tennis prodigy and making the team brings the two of them together. Soon, Maguire not only finds herself drawn into Jordy’s world, but also the girls on her team. Starting to make new friends and working on a bucket list of fears to overcome before heading to Ireland on a plane, Maguire learns from Jordy that maybe she isn’t a walking curse.

This is a book of overcoming one’s fears, making new friendships, a first time relationship, and opening up to your family to see that life can overcome tragedy. A definite read!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

“What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?”

“Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?” - Goodreads.com

Jessie Morris’s life has been turned upside down since her mother’s death from ovarian cancer and her father’s surprise remarriage. Marrying a film executive that he met through an online bereavement group, she finds her life upturned when she and her father move to Los Angeles to live with his new wife and her son. Not fitting in at her new school, Jessie receives an email from Somebody/Nobody or S/N for short. The anonymous writer offers to help Jessie navigate the halls of Wood Valley. Jessie accepts the help and it’s not long before the two move from emails to instant messaging.

As Jessie tries to fit into her new life, things aren’t going well at home. Soon she begins to rely on S/N even as she finds herself attraction to Ethan, her English partner. Jessie begins to try and uncover the true identity of S/N even while it seems someone is interested in her. I had my suspicions about the true identity of S/N about ⅔ of the way through. And that ending! More than one boy shows up for the big reveal to keep the reader on their toes until the very end.

What happens when Jessie discovers the identity of S/N? Is it who she hopes it to be? Does she act on her feelings for Ethan? Can she repair her relationship with her father and her new family? Will Jessie ever feel like she fits into her new life in Los Angeles?

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Some secrets go too deep for words.”

“For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.”

I love JLA even though not all of her books are appropriate for high schoolers but thankful this one is. Readers will fall in love with Mallory and root for her to overcome her troubled past in the foster care system. Her biggest shock of her first day of high school is that she is reunited with her former foster “brother” Rider, who was her protector during the dark days they lived with Mr. Henry and Miss Becky. Readers cannot help but keep turning the pages to see how Mallory ended up with her adoptive parents, what happened the night he and Rider were separated and how she begins to blossom in her life.

Visit Jennifer L. Armentrout’s website.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Countdown by Kimberly Derting (The Taking book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, The Taking and The Replaced , Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

“How do you stop something you can’t control?”

“She may no longer be human…but she’s their only hope.

In the concluding book in the otherworldly Taking trilogy, Kyra struggles to understand who she is as she races to save the world from complete destruction.

Every morning since she was abducted and then returned to Earth, Kyra Agnew has felt a searing pain in her gut. It’s as unavoidable as the dawn and comes like clockwork. Too busy running from a shady government agency and rescuing Tyler, the boy she loves, Kyra hasn’t had enough energy to focus on what the strange, stabbing sensation could mean. Then Kyra is captured by an unexpected enemy who knows exactly what the pain is: a signal that time is running out. The aliens are coming, and Kyra fears they will destroy everyone in their path.
As much as she hates to admit it, technically, Kyra is an alien too — they replaced all of her human DNA with their own. But in doing so, the aliens gave her supernatural gifts, like incredible healing, enhanced eyesight, and telekinetic powers. Now Kyra has to wonder... are her new abilities actually a curse? Is she, as her captors believe, meant to play some key role in helping the alien invasion? Is it programmed into her, something inescapable? Or can she fight that destiny?
No matter what the truth is, Kyra is sure of one thing. She just got Tyler back and she is not going to stand by and let anyone hurt him or her friends. Whatever it takes, Kyra will do everything in her power to save the world... even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice. - from the front flap.
Three days have passed since Kyra found Tyler in the Utah desert. He was drawing strange symbols and chanting in an unknown language. Then he said, “The Returned Must Die.” She hasn't found the courage yet to ask him what he meant. Kyra and Tyler aren't Returned, half alien and half human. The two of them are Replaced; full-on alien DNA with only their faces and memories to remind them of their human past. Unfortunately, Tyler has a gap in his memories of the time he and Kyra fell in love. He sees the two of them as only friends. Now, along with Kyra’s father, they are on the run since the Blackwater Ranch was attacked by Agent Truman and his Daylight Division. Truman has his sights set on Kyra.

Kyra feels guilty that she didn't know her blood was toxic to Tyler and the only way to save his life was to allow the aliens to abduct him from Devil's Hole. She has been unable to confess to him about her role in his abduction. Kyra also awakes each day in searing pain and hears a number inside of her head; like a countdown. But when the three of them are suddenly on the run, the unthinkable happens, Kyra is abducted once again. Held in a strange place by people from her past, she realizes that she can trust no one.

Why is Kyra hearing numbers each morning? Is it really a countdown and to what event? Can Tyler forgive her for her choices regarding his life? Will his memories of the two of them together resurface? What happens when Agent Truman finally catches up with Kyra?

Fans of The Taking trilogy will speed through this final book to find out how Kyra’s story ends.

Visit Kimberly Derting’s website

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Don’t get me started on The Bruiser.  He was voted “Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty” by the entire school. He’s the kid no one knows, no one talks to, and everyone hears disturbing rumors about.  So why is my sister, Brontë dating him?  One of these days she’s going to take in the wrong stray dog, and it’s not going to end well.
My brother has no right to talk about Brewster that way – no right to threaten him.  There’s a reason why Brewster can’t have friends – why he can’t care about too many people.  Because when he cares about you, things start to happen.  Impossible things that can’t be explained.  I know, because they’re happening to me.
Stealer of screams and thief of anguish,  I am a criminal, but you can’t see it, blinded by your own relief as my body becomes a battlefield in a war that can’t be won.  Will I be the bullet that ends your pain, or will you end mine? Taken from http://www.storyman.com/books/bruiser/
This book had been on my TBR (to be read) pile since it came out. I finally got around to listening to it when it was the daily deal over on Audible. First of all, this book is not what I expected and I should have known better since it wasn’t my first Shusterman read. Brewster Rawlings is wrongly perceived by everyone at school. He is a loner and when you find out why, your heart will break. The Sternberger family is going through a major crisis of their own. When Brewster, Tennyson and Bronte begin to cross paths, things begin to get infinitely worse before anyone can start to see improvement. Brewster isn’t what either Sternberger twin expected.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Last Star by Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

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

“The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.” - Goodreads.com

Four days is all that remains before the end of humanity and Earth as Cassie and company know it. In a race against time, the Others and each other to stop the destruction, everyone finds out what exactly the 5th Wave entails and just how far humanity has been duped. A bit confusing at times as who as survived for another day, the ending isn’t all wrapped up in a neat bow.

Soldier by Julie Kagawa (Talon Saga book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, Talon and Rogue, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

“A fighter dedicated to saving humankind from dragons in strictest secrecy.

That was what Garret Xavier Sebastian thought he was part of as a soldier of the Order of St. George. What he learned from a fiery dragon hatchling twisted all he believed in and set him on a collision course with certain death-but not without a chance to put things right.

Betrayed and on the run again, Ember and rogue dragon Riley discover an unthinkable truth about Talon and St. George. They'll need Garret's skills and insider knowledge of the Order to negotiate an impossible deal-and if they fail, there will be no way to stop all-out war.” - Goodreads.com

This being the third of five planned books, more bombshells and surprises are revealed than any storylines being wrapped up. Garret reunites with Ember and Riley to fight the bad guys and the old saying, “three’s a crowd” applies to this situation. Torn between a human and a dragon, Ember needs to figure out a few things about being a dragon and herself before she can make any decisions on her love life. Her twin Dante, slowly realizes that Talon will stop at nothing to achieve it’s goals. Told from four points of view; Ember, Riley, Garret and Dante, readers will once again immerse themselves in the Talon world and learn further insights into Garret’s background.  

Why did Talon train Ember as a Viper and choose their best to be her mentor? Who are EMber and Dante’s parents? Will Dante realize the reasons Ember fled Talon for himself? What happens when Garret realizes how deep the betrayal of everything he knew about himself and the Order goes?

With two huge cliffhangers dropped at the end, readers will be left waiting on book four, Legion, out on May 4, 2017.