Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Gerber

Book Description:

Published: May 7, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Review –

“Picking up just after the end of Legendary (2018), Garber continues to build the world of Caraval with a final installment, this time focusing equally on both Dragna sisters’ perspectives.

After they released their long-missing mother from the Deck of Destiny, Scarlett and Donatella hoped to rebuild their relationship and gain a new sense of family. However, Legend also released the rest of the Fates, and, much to their dismay, the Fallen Star—essentially the ur-Fate—is only gaining in power. As the Fates begin to throw Valenda into chaos and disarray, the sisters must decide whom him to trust, whom to love, and how to set themselves free. Scar’s and Tella’s passionate will-they-or-won’t-they relationships with love interests are still (at times, inexplicably) compelling, taking up a good half of the plot and balancing out the large-scale power games with more domestic ones. Much like the previous two, this third book in the series is overwritten, with overly convenient worldbuilding that struggles nearly as much as the overwrought prose and convoluted plot. While those who aren’t Garber’s fans are unlikely to pick up this volume, new (or forgetful) readers will find the text repetitious enough to be able to follow along.” Kirkus Review

I was disappointed with this final book of the Caraval series. I loved the other two, but for me, this one fell flat. It’s true that the sisters had their hands full with fighting the Fates, keeping their romances alive and surviving to love another day, so I don’t know why I felt like there should have been more.

The thing I COULDN’T get enough of was the vivid imagery and the lush fantasy with which the author filled all three books in the series. Her descriptions are colorful and majestic.

 

 

 

 

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Book Description:

Published: September 26, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Review –

Beautiful and bewitching, An Enchantment of Ravens ,weaves together a story like no other. Combining loveable characters, beautiful descriptions and an ever-changing plot. The author’s book and the world she created entranced me from the first account of Isobel’s art. This world was wonderfully constructed, including tiny bits, like Isobel’s once-goat-now-human sisters, that made this world so much more complete and immersive. Every action or choice made complete sense based on this world that was developed, so I was able to understand and sympathize with everything Isobel was going through.

Beyond Isobel, Rook was the kind of love interest you can’t help but fall in love with, and by the end of his initial introduction scene, I knew he was going to be wonderful. Isobel’s intelligent and courageous attitude combined with Rook’s protective and kind yet vain personality brought dialogue that made me laugh out loud and heart-wrenching moments that brought tears to my eyes. Even supporting characters like Isobel’s loyal customer Gadfly, or her scoundrel sisters, May and March, added a crazy  unique sense of life to the novel.

Beyond my love for the characters, I was consistently impressed by how well developed this world was. Most fantasy novels, similar to this one, are built into a series, and take several books before the world and conflict is fully understood. This novel did an amazing job of creating an in-depth and captivating plot, without seeming rushed. Similarly, each court — Autumn, Winter, Summer and Spring — were introduced in various parts in the novel, and each description was mesmerizing in its own way.

To sum up, An Enchantment of Ravens, is a fascinating  novel, with entrancing characters and a fast-paced plot. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

Five stars and  I  love  the  cover.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book Description:

Published: November 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Review –

Heartless is a prequel to Lewis Carroll’s 1863 classic Alice in Wonderland, being the history of one of the most recognizable characters in fiction; The Queen of Hearts. Set in the kingdom of Hearts, a world of talking animals, animate furniture and occasional bouts of unpredictable magic, the story follows Lady Catherine Pinkerton, the seventeen year old daughter of the Marquess of Rockturtle Cove.

Cath begins the book as sweet, naïve and rather overly sheltered, not to mention very much under her parent’s’ thumb (one reason for my lady’s initial exasperation), however seeing her change, grow and evolve through circumstances is truly a pleasure. Meyer seems to have a gift for character depiction since this is a book where even the minor players turn out to be more than they appear, and as for Catherine rarely have I seen an author write character development in such a pure sense, i.e. taking a character from one place at the start of the book, and showing how they journey to a very different place at the end of it.

I liked how the King of Hearts, despite being cast almost immediately in the role of an unwanted potential husband is neither sadistic nor lecherous. He is simply good natured, foolish, ineffective and not overly endowed in the brain department. While this makes him of course completely out of the question as a match for Catherine, it also makes her position a more unique one than a lot of characters facing forced marriages in modern fiction, since it’s one thing to wish to avoid a vile suitor at all costs, quite another to have to reject an innocent but dim-witted one.

The  character I did feel slightly short-changed by was Jest, the court joker and very obvious love interest. Dashing, clever, accomplished at everything from magic tricks to music and of course hopelessly smitten with Catherine (he even has golden eyes). While Meyer does undoubtedly reveal enough hidden truths about Jest to make him play an interesting part in the plot, I did feel that he was a bit too idealised. 

The final conclusion is a very apt end to the story, employing prophecy, destiny and character revelations. If you know the story of the Queen of Hearts then you know that this story will not end well, BUT you keeping hoping …

Despite its at times slow pace and its rather too obvious Joker I did very much enjoy Heartless. Take a large serving of Lewis Carroll, add a table-spoon of Jane Austin, season with a bit of Gaiman like twisted fairy tales and a likable, if rather sheltered protagonist and you have something sweet, fluffy and delicious on the outside, but with a dark, and troubled centre within.

Loved it!

 

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave. He wakes without a scratch. The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic. Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody. But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

Review

This book will appeal to some, including fans of Lost or Stephen King’s novels, but it’s certainly not for everyone (including me).  It’s  incredibly dark and violent, with graphic scenes involving cannibalism and murder, among other things. Coming in somewhere between a horror story and a supernatural thriller, Afterlife, is a dark, gory, and twisted novel that, while trying to deliver a more profound message, ends up falling short of its goal.

I can not believe the movie rights were snapped up and Ron Howard is involved, BUT I still will not be buying a ticket!

Two stars.

Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book Description:

Published: October 18, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Review –

This time I had to listen to the audio version but found it NOT to be the distraction that I thought it would be. 

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

There is a small moment in Gemina – involving a lost flower corsage, no less – that is a masterpiece of storytelling that is both a beautiful moment between two people about to fall in love as well as a brilliant foreshadow that eventually turns into an essential piece of a mind-blowing twist. In other words: this novel? It’s fantastic!

The follow-up to last year’s excellent Illuminae, Gemina has a similar formula to its predecessor: a high concept, an epistolary narrative, a book that requires the reader to engage with the pages in different ways, a Moment of Despair, incredible twists. And it all works again because these novels have that thing that will take the formula to the extra level: fantastic characters.

Featuring characters from different sides of the tracks and with super high stakes, it follows new characters to the series (whilst bringing back everybody who survived Illuminae) who are on board the jumpstation Heimdall (where the aforementioned survivors are about to arrive to) as it is invaded by the next stage of the (evil) BeiTech assault AND alien predators that want to eat everybody. If that wasn’t enough, it is well possible that the wormholes at the centre of the station – the very thing that keeps the space-time continuum together – is malfunctioning. HOW FUN. No, seriously, it is so much fun.

Hanna is a socialite, the station captain’s spoiled daughter. Nik is a member of an infamous crime family– which includes his cousin Ella. But no one is who they seem to be to start with: Hanna is a kick-ass, cool-as-f*ck fighter and strategist. Nik is the criminal with the heart-of-gold. Oh, these two are lovely and a great counterpoint to one another. When the station is invaded (and the body count starts to rise), they are thrown together along with Ella to become reluctant heroes, the only ones standing between life and doom. And so it goes – put together by documents, blueprints, chat and video transcripts and more, the story follows the trio, with every subsequent event turning things up by a notch.

Can’t wait to read the last (?) in the series, Obsidio.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book Description:

Published: October 20, 2015

Format: Hardback

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Review –

I started the audio version of this book, but quickly gave up because it seemed to drag. I had a hard cover given to me a year ago so I began reading and I read it in one day. Now on to the review –

What do you do when your planet is attacked and everyone you know and love is being killed for your planets illegal refinery? What do you do when the only person you have left in the universe is your ex that is on a whole other ship and the only way to stay in contact is by illegal ship to ship communication? What do you do when the ones who are suppose to keep you safe are the ones who lie to you and cause thousands of deaths? What are you suppose to do when the ship that saves you tries to kill you?

You can A) devise a plan to hack into the system and see what is really going on, B) admit to your ex that you still love them and need them, C) respond to your so called commanders with sassy remarks that could get you court martialed , or D) do you freak stuff up.

The answer to these questions is E) all of the above.

This book is so crazily written that I stepped in not knowing what to expect. But as I jumped upon the ship to a world of endless action, I fell in love with it. I have never read such a book formatted as this one. (see photos below)

The humor utilized by the characters is probably one of my favorite things about this whole fantastic mess. It underlines how different people deal with stressful and intimidating situations. Characters like Ezra Mason use humor as a defense mechanism to deal with such situations.

In the end, we learn that Kady is the Illuminae group and she has prepared these files for the director of BeiTech, who just happens to be Ezra’s psycho mother. She demands to know where Ezra is but Kady keeps that secret. Kady will continue to let the universe know what BeiTech has done.

Usually I’m not a big fan of this type of Sci-fi Book (YA Sci-fi) but I must admit once into this book I thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so, that I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here (The Others #3) by Christine Warren

Book Description:

Published: November 2, 2010

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Danice Carter wakes up naked and confused. She can’t figure out how she got into bed with a man she’s never met, because there is no way she would forget meeting McIntyre Callahan. The man is everything she’s ever fantasized about, a mind-bendingly mouth-watering hunk…who is just as puzzled about what’s going on as she is. When they discover the explanation involves a fugitive from Faerie, some very tricky magic and a theoretical hotel room, things start to get a little weird. Good thing the attraction between Danice and Mac makes all the sense in the world.

Review –

As some of you know, book covers call to me so when I saw the cover for this book on OverDrive I  borrowed it straight away. I didn’t read the blurb or synopsis. That was my mistake. It is a PARANORMAL ROMANCE. I used to read some books in this category but I hadn’t for a very long time.

Attorney Danice Carter gets an unexpected assignment from the head of her high-powered New York law firm: find his granddaughter Rosemary and convince her to file a paternity suit. Danice was already dreading the assignment, but things take a strange turn when she meets half-fae PI Mac Callahan, who is also hunting for Rosemary.

Mac’s client is an unnamed party in Faerie, but what do they want with a human female? To find out, Mac must enter Faerie, something he hasn’t done since he was an infant. When a determined Danice refuses to be left behind, Mac is concerned, for he suspects their trip may bring them into contact with the dangerous Unseelie Court.

Neither trusts the other nor appreciates the attraction they feel towards each other, but the sexual chemistry between them can’t be denied, BUT they hadn’t really connected beyond the physical attraction.  Although the description of the sex was good, the whole attraction between Mac and Danice was a bit too INSTALOVE.

I haven’t read the previous books in the series so I really didn’t know what to expect. Suffice it to say paranormal romance is still not my favorite.

 

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Book Description:

Published: September 27, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Review –

I truly find it hard to relate everything I feel about this book. The conclusion to this epic duology delivered in EVERY way possible. Crooked Kingdom enthralled and delighted, even while some of the content reduced me to tears. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper, and Wylan will forever be marked as one of my most beloved fictional crew.

 Crooked Kingdom is filled with character bonding, as well as interaction and development within the numerous friendships within the main group.

Even while the crew work seamlessly together, they remain distinct and unique individuals, driven forward by their own goals and personal backstory. The amount of character development in this book is phenomenal. By halfway through the book, I was fully invested in every single story – even for characters we previously did not see much of like Wylan.

Besides the characters bonding more as a unit and also as romantics pairs there is an arresting storyline, filled with cunning tricks and plot twists. Leigh Bardugo absolutely shines during her fight scenes, with the action becoming almost cinematic. The constantly turning wheels of Kaz Brekker’s mind is also equally formidable. We all love a story about an underdog, and watching Kaz scheme his way numerous setbacks had me on the edge of my seat, but the payoff is always so immensely satisfying.

Not all couples end up together-there is a death of a major player- I won’t say who but it was worthy of several Kleenex and I still can’t believe he’s gone.

I wish the author had Kaz pronounce his real feelings for Inej, instead he just holds her hand, without gloves. This may not sound like much to those who have not read Six of Crows, but it’s a major deal for Kaz Brekker!

The catch phrase of this series is NO MOUNERS, NO FUNERALS and we learn more about it in this book. This is what the author has to say about the quote:

“No mourners, no funerals. Another way of saying good luck. But it was something more. A dark wink to the fact that there would be no expensive burials for people like them, no marble markers to remember their names, no wreaths of myrtle and rose.”

Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom

Fantastic book, fantastic series!!!

 

 

 

The Call (The Call #1)by Peadar O’Guilin

Book Description:

Published: August 30, 2016

Format: Free Digital Book/OverDrive

Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.

Could you survive the Call?

Review –

I have long been a fan of Karen Marie Moning and her Fever series, which deals with MacKayla (Mac) Lane and her battle against the world of the Fae, so when I ran across this book I knew I had to read it.

I’ve seen it described on YouTube as a horror novel and the video went on and on about how graphic and gruesome it was, but in reality it’s no worse than what young adults see on video games or read in some graphic novels. I found the violence and description of the Grey Land and the monstrous Faeries and their dress (made of human skin) added to the trepidation and edginess of the book.

Vanessa (Nessa) Doherty is a 14-year-old girl who attends Boyle Survival College, one of many in Ireland that serve only to teach its youth how to survive the Call of the Sídhe.

This intense, riveting tale is set in an Ireland that the Sídhe, Irish faeries, have cut off from the rest of the world, plotting to retake their former home through a grim war of attrition that involves kidnapping human teenagers. During the “Call,” teens disappear “for a little over three minutes, but in [the faeries’] world, the Grey Land, an entire day has passed, panic and pain in every second of it.” When the stolen teens reappear, they are usually dead and/or horribly mutated by magic. All Irish children attend special centers where they’re taught martial arts, the Sídhe language, and total ruthlessness. Nessa, already relegated to crutches due to polio (Ireland’s isolation means no imported vaccines—or anything else), seems unlikely to survive her Call, but has dedicated everything to doing so. The author follows several teens, including Nessa, over into the Grey Land, delivering blisteringly fast-paced and graphic descriptions of the tortures the children endure. This is a bleak, gripping story, one where only the most muted of happy endings is possible. 

There is a semi cliffhanger and the sequel, The Invasion, comes out in March of 2108. I can’t wait.

Five stars!!!!!

 

Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

Book Description:

Published: April 4, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

Review –

Almost a decade has passed since the end of Sleeping Giants, yet the Earth Defence Council and all its scientists are no closer to understanding Themis and the technology that powers her. Of course, there have been advancements due to her discovery, and the tours she does over the globe continue to inspire. However, despite Themis being under the control of the EDC, some nations are still keen to use her for themselves. This is soon put to rest with the arrival in London of another robot, one similar to Themis, but not identical, though it is clear that it was built by the same beings. Now all of Earth waits to see what happens, and just what the future has in store.

Waking Gods follows the format from Sleeping Giants and tells its story through interviews, news snippets, recordings, diary entries, and other similar styles. It’s a narrative style that works really well for the series, giving first-hand information without bogging itself down with needless info-dumping. However, because of the varied characters that Neuvel tells the story through, we do learn plenty about Themis, as well as the new arrivals – it’s not just the one extra robot, but thirteen of them…

So much happens in this book and I could go on and on, but you have to read the book for yourself. The author is amazing at character development. Vincent and Kara are a great team that play well off each other, and also add little bits here and there to the answers that are swimming around. Rose is another that contributes in this way, but she’s also a very conflicted individual given her history – not only the one to discover then hand initially, but also that she died and was brought back, though without her memories of Themis. However, it’s the Interrogator that is by far my favourite – there’s just something about him that works so well at not only moving the story forward, but adding entertainment in some dark situations. 

A lot of times a sequel doesn’t live up to the majesty of its predecessor, but Waking Gods, does that and more. 

The third installment, Only Human, comes out in February 2018 and I will be sitting on pins and needle waiting to find out what happens after the jaw-dropping cliffhanger ending of this book.

Five stars!!!!!