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Aug 4, 2015

Review: Wrayth by Philippa Ballantine

(Book of the Order #3 )
by Philippa Ballantine

A different kind of ghost Story
Paperback, 309 pages

Published by Ace

My Summary:

Still suffering from the effects of the last battle, Sorcha is separated from Merrick by two isolated plots – one meant to save a life and one meant to end another.

My review:

I think it’s safe to say at this point that I love the series enough that it would take A LOT to disappoint me. Luckily, this one kept with the vein of the others and so, I fell right back in love with the characters/world.

I was sad about Merrick and Sorcha being separated, and while Merrick’s plot line was terribly fascinating, Sorcha is still the character in these books that keeps me coming back for more. That being said, I loved the expansion of Merrick and the development of the Duchess. That tickled me.

As with the previous two books, I was just happy to be swept away by the tantalizing plot into this wonderfully unique world of magic and betrayal.

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Aug 3, 2015

My TBR Shortlist: Fantasy Novels

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.
As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

Kameron Hurley's writing is amazing, so when the opportunity to fall into another 540 pages of it comes my way, you bet I'm putting on goggles and diving right in.  The premise for this one has me on the edge of my seat too!

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

If there’s one thing you can count on with Jemsin’s writing is that it will be grand and you will drown in it if you are not careful. It’s a risk I’m willing to take! If you haven’t read her Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series yet, grab that one immediately.

Harbinger by Philippa Ballantine
The Deacons of the Order are all that stand between the wicked spirits of the Otherside and the innocent citizens of the Empire. They are sworn to protect humanity, even when they cannot protect themselves…
After the Razing of the Order, Sorcha Faris, one of the most powerful Deacons, is struggling to regain control of the runes she once wielded. The Deacons are needed more desperately than ever. The barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead is weakening, and the Emperor has abandoned his throne, seeking to destroy those he feels have betrayed him.
Though she is haunted by the terrible truth of her past, Sorcha must lead the charge against the gathering hordes of geists seeking to cross into the Empire. But to do so, she will need to manipulate powers beyond her understanding—powers that may prove to be her undoing…

This is the last book in Ballantine’s wonderful “Book of the Order” series and as long as it lives up to the legacy the first three set forth, I know I won’t be disappointed.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, soaring battle kites, conspiring goddesses, underwater boats, magical books Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, soaring battle kites, conspiring goddesses, underwater boats, magical books, as a streetfighter-cum-general who takes her place as the greatest tactitian of the age. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

This book is a BRICK. I got a great deal on it at the local bookstore and have to assume it’s a discount based on the medical bills I’ll acquire if I try to cart it around in my purse. I’ll be reading this one at home, but you can bet I’ll be cracking its spine soon.


The Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.
But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…
On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.
Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?
Suddenly Fitz's violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

This one’s been out for almost a year, and I’m sad to say I haven’t read any Robin Hobb yet. (I know, shame on me!). Anyway, this seemed like as good a place as any to start!

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.
Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

Having heard Naomi speak at PHXCC this year, I recalled that I’ve owned this book for years, but haven’t yet read it. The stories she told there made me certain that was an error.

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler
Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.
To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.
The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.

Another PHXCC author, having read one of his MG novels, I knew I needed to grab his adult fantasy series as well, unfortunately, now that I’ve got this one, it’s sitting in the big pile too.

The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan
A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise as do dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and horses. But dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden – and of war. Colossal planteaters like Brachiosaurus; terrifying meateaters like Allosaurus and the most feared of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. Giant lizards swim warm seas. Birds (some with teeth) share the sky with flying reptiles that range in size from batsized insectivores to majestic and deadly Dragons.

The Way of Shadows by Bret Weeks
For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly - and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.
But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins' world of dangerous politics and strange magics - and cultivate a flair for death.

I’m a little leery of this one. I don’t know what exactly drew me to it, and I don’t know what it is that’s kept it in the TBR pile so long. I’m hoping that once I pick it up and start reading, I’ll be sucked right in and all that fretting will be for naught.

Cold Iron by Stina Leicht
Fraternal twins Nels and Suvi move beyond their royal heritage and into military and magical dominion in this flintlock epic fantasy debut from a two-time Campbell Award finalist.
Prince Nels is the scholarly runt of the ancient Kainen royal family of Eledore, disregarded as flawed by the king and many others. Only Suvi, his fraternal twin sister, supports him. When Nels is ambushed by an Acrasian scouting party, he does the forbidden for a member of the ruling family: He picks up a fallen sword and defends himself.
Disowned and dismissed to the military, Nels establishes himself as a leader as Eledore begins to shatter under the attack of the Acrasians, who the Kainen had previously dismissed as barbarians. But Nels knows differently, and with the aid of Suvi, who has allied with pirates, he mounts a military offensive with sword, canon, and what little magic is left in the world.

I’d love to explore the society Stina has created wherein a royal family member cannot protect themselves without disownment.

Tell me what other books I need to put on the long list for after I finish these! They might already be there, but I love hearing suggestions for what to be on the lookout for next!
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Jul 13, 2015

My TBR Shortlist: YA Edition

Ash by Malinda Lo
In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Entrancing, empowering, and romantic,
Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

I love a good adaptation of a beloved fairytale – who doesn’t? So when I saw this, I knew I needed to get my hands on it… but sadly, that’s taken longer than expected. It’s one of the main reasons this is on the short list.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

 Legend by Marie Lu
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

I have the whole series and I still haven’t gotten around to this one. “I count that as a shame on me” moment. So it’s out in the proverbial pile(it’s a different bookshelf), because I want and need to read it, and that’s never going to happen if I don’t see it.

 Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

This is technically the last on my short list because it’s the most recently published and by simple dint of that fact, it’s been relegated to the end of the list. Even though I tend to shy away from the general idea of color-coded status books, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one… and it was on sale, so I snatched it up.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

Confession: I don’t actually own this one, and I probably should read things I own before putting one I don’t on the short list… but, This is one of those books that really speaks to me, and if I happen to snag it before I get to another book, I’ll definitely be setting it toward the top of my pile.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair
actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Another book I’ve owned for ages and that has gotten lost on my shelves. It’s time to read this one and decide if I want to buy the rest of the series!

Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland
Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changes when her sister is murdered—and she uses a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.
Zephyr is on the run from a punishment worse than death when an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend (a surprisingly HOT friend) changes everything. Because it seems like Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess made flesh that is prophesied to change the power balance. For hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that.
But how is she supposed to save everyone when she can’t even save herself?

Having followed Justina on Twitter for a while now, I need to read one of her books and this is where I’ve chosen to start.


Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.
But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.
Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.
It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.

I read the blurb for this book and knew I had to read it. How fantastic does that sound?


Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

I’m going to be honest, if you read that, and don’t want to read this book… I don’t even know what to do with you.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

What’s not to love about mideval assassin nuns? Okay, that might not be the actual premise, and I might be setting myself up for heartbreak with that though, but overall, it sounds fantastic


Tell me what other books I need to put on the long list for after I finish these! They might already be there, but I love hearing suggestions for what to be on the lookout for next!

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Jul 10, 2015

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

From Memorial Day through the Fourth of July... my life was a crazy weird non-writing whirlwind. Here's what happened:

May 23-25: Memorial Day nonsense
May 29-31: Phoenix ComiCon
June 5: 3 hour tattoo sitting
June 10- 22: Trip to Oregon/sister's wedding/Vegas!
June 28: 4 hour tattoo sitting
July 3-5: 4th of July Festivities.

With all of that, my writing time was chopped down to... basically nothing. I got a few words in at the bookstore bar after the June 5th sitting, but mostly, the month of June was a non-writing month.

All that means is that I'm determined to make up for it in the next three weeks of July. Note: it's weird thinking of starting July next week.

Write at 60k words for the month (which will include the following)
      Finish the current Flynn draft
      Finnish fully pre-plotting another idea.
Get back to normal blogging schedule (M-W-F)
Make a dent in my ever growing TBR pile!

I guess it's a good thing it's too hot to do anything outside right now!

Don't forget to enter to win a signed ARC of Jason M Hough's August Release: ZERO WORLD

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Jul 8, 2015

Giveaway: Zero World by Jason M Hough (CLOSED)

Along with all the other books I picked up at PHX Comicon in May, I snagged a copy of a book I've been waiting for since, well, 2014's Comicon when I got a super vague description. When the deal was announced, I scooted forward in my chair. And when the blurb went up, along with this fantastic cover, I legitimately could not wait for it to hit store shelves.

After reading it, all I can tell you without devolving into spoilers is: Zero World by Jason M. Hough is amazing.

And, because you want amazing things, you're here today because of the title of this blog post. So let's stop dilly-dallying!

Up For Grabs:

One (1) Signed ARC of Zero World by Jason M. Hough.

How To Win:

Between now and July 13th, leave a shiny new comment down below answering the following question:

Peter Caswell is a technologically enhanced superspy with an implant that lets him forget the awful things he has done. He has a strict routine surrounding his implant trigger. Same place, same conditions.... He wakes up in a dark London apartment with the perfect temperature, repeating a lyric that keeps him grounded. "Speak the word, the word is all of us."
What would your reset ritual lyrics be?

Important Caveats:

Make sure your comment went through! I know sometimes Blogger eats comments.

This IS open internationally.... just know it might take a little longer for me to get it in the mail if you're outside of the US.

Don't forget to come back and check if you won! Winner will be announced the morning of Tuesday, July 14, 2015!

You only get one entry. You're more than welcome to reply to other people's comments and answering twice won't disqualify you... but your name only goes into the drawing once.

If you want to skip the process of answering the question and just buy it yourself, you can do that here.

Also, add the book to your GoodReads TBR, and check out Jason's website, or follow him on Twitter @JasonMHough

The Winner: Congratulations Margo-Lea Hurwicz!

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