Currently Reading: 11/18/19

Cover- Novice Dragoneer

Novice Dragoneer by E.E. Knight

Girl goes to dragoneer school so she can ride a dragon. PERFECT. I’m really excited to start reading this lovely book and hope it lives up to all the good review I’ve seen on Goodreads!

 

 

 

Cover- The Wolf's Call

The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan

I was so backed up on reading earlier this year that I just never got around to reading this before it’s release date. I’ve had an excess of Audible credits and decided it was high time I checked this one out. I did forget that the narrator NEVER changes his voice and always sounds the same – is it a male or female character speaking? You’ll never know…

Highfire by Eoin Colfer – Review

Cover- Highfire

Published: January 28, 2020

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series comes a hilarious and high-octane adult novel about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who lives an isolated life in the bayous of Louisiana—and the raucous adventures that ensue when he crosses paths with a fifteen-year-old troublemaker on the run from a crooked sheriff.

In the days of yore, he flew the skies and scorched angry mobs—now he hides from swamp tour boats and rises only with the greatest reluctance from his Laz-Z-Boy recliner. Laying low in the bayou, this once-magnificent fire breather has been reduced to lighting Marlboros with nose sparks, swilling Absolut in a Flashdance T-shirt, and binging Netflix in a fishing shack. For centuries, he struck fear in hearts far and wide as Wyvern, Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie—now he goes by Vern. However…he has survived, unlike the rest. He is the last of his kind, the last dragon. Still, no amount of vodka can drown the loneliness in his molten core. Vern’s glory days are long gone. Or are they?

A canny Cajun swamp rat, young Everett “Squib” Moreau does what he can to survive, trying not to break the heart of his saintly single mother. He’s finally decided to work for a shady smuggler—but on his first night, he witnesses his boss murdered by a crooked constable.

Regence Hooke is not just a dirty cop, he’s a despicable human being—who happens to want Squib’s momma in the worst way. When Hooke goes after his hidden witness with a grenade launcher, Squib finds himself airlifted from certain death by…a dragon?

The swamp can make strange bedfellows, and rather than be fried alive so the dragon can keep his secret, Squib strikes a deal with the scaly apex predator. He can act as his go-between (aka familiar)—fetch his vodka, keep him company, etc.—in exchange for protection from Hooke. Soon the three of them are careening headlong toward a combustible confrontation. There’s about to be a fiery reckoning, in which either dragons finally go extinct—or Vern’s glory days are back.

A triumphant return to the genre-bending fantasy that Eoin Colfer is so well known for, Highfire is an effortlessly clever and relentlessly funny tour-de-force of comedy and action.


I loved this SO much! I snagged an eARC and I couldn’t resist reading the first few pages… which turned into the first 50 pages and then the whole book. It was immediately interesting and stands out from the fantasy crowd. Lord Highfire, formerly of the Highfire Eyrie is now just Vern, chubby, perennially drunk dragon who lives deep in the Louisiana bayou. He’s hiding out from the modern world, avoiding cameras, satellites, and conspiracy theorists just living his life until this kid called Squib shows up on his doorstep deeply in trouble with a bad dude.

The characters in this book are just fantastic. I mean, if you aren’t immediately intrigued by the idea of a talking dragon in the modern world who watches lots of bad tv, then we probably can’t be friends. It’s great! Squib Moreau is also quite a hoot, being a delinquent swamp kid who just can’t stay out of trouble despite how it hurts his momma. And then there’s this real piece of work named Regence Hooke, a corrupt cop who has his sights set on scoring with Squib’s momma and possible getting Squib out of the picture altogether. This is just wild and honestly I would adore seeing a wild adaptation of this somewhere where the bloody bits aren’t tamed.

You got the gist of the story reading the previous two paragraphs, but if you want a bit more detail keep on reading. Squib works odd jobs around town and whilst on the bayou, he sees Regence Hooke murder a man and overhears his plans to take over the drug highway. Regence finds out someone was listening, goes after this unknown person, and encounters something strange (Vern the dragon saving Squib). Squib and Vern work out a deal through so Squib doesn’t squeal about seeing a real live dragon and Vern has someone to bring him vodka and cereal in the middle of nowhere. Things escalate with Regence, violence ensues, and does much dark hilarity. This book was absolutely something else – it was hilarious, disturbingly reminiscent of the Swamp People tv show, and just awesome.

I would definitely recommend this to fans of unique urban fantasy, dragons, and the now-adult fans of the Artemis Fowl series. Eoin Colfer has transitioned from YA to adult fantasy with much aplomb, though that’s a pretty fancy word for a book such irreverent humor. Just read it, it’s in a league of its own and has no comparison that I can make.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Uncharted Sky by Curtis Craddock

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- The Last Uncharted Sky

It’s pretty early to be featuring The Last Uncharted Sky since it won’t be out until August of 2020, but you know what? I love this series and I was so excited to see it had a cover and synopsis already that I couldn’t wait to share it! The cover is beautiful, yet so unlike the previous that I didn’t recognize it until I saw the authors name. Musketeers, magic, and treasure all make for an exciting read!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – Review

Cover- Ninth House

Published: October 8, 2019

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Series: Alex Stern #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 458 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.


Darlington is the angstier, adult version of Richard Campbell Gansey III but without the bee allergy and Alex Stern is like Blue Sargent but with slightly more magic and possibly a death wish. FIGHT ME. Darlington is also the most interesting part of the book for the first 75% but then Alex gets way cool and the STAKES ARE RAISED, NOW WHERE IS THE SEQUEL. 

That could be the entire review, but I feel like that would be cheating you guys, you know? Like, how fair is that? So vague, yet so intriguing.

First of all, I’d like to say the audiobook is quite stellar and worthwhile, especially since there’s a cool little interview with Leigh Bardugo where she reveals an interesting fact that is related to the story. This is a book where the narration really brings it to life and perhaps make what would have been a good-ish book into a pretty cool book that I’ll definitely be reading the sequel to.

I think I summed up the characters pretty well in the first paragraph, but I’ll give some background on them now. Alex Stern can see grays, which are spirits of the deceased, aka ghosts. This gift brought her to the attention of Important People at Yale University, who offered her admission and a full scholarship if she would just join their secret society. This is all in spite of the fact that she was the lone survivor of a multiple homicide, is/was a drug addict, and most royally screwed up her life. What a second chance! Once at Yale she meets Daniel Arlington (Darlington) who is to be her mentor in the secret society, called Lethe House. Darlington (and now Alex) are meant to be the police for the eight other secret societies on Yale’s campus that produce the wealthy, the talented, and the ambitious people of the world. They each have their own unique brand of magic, some/most of which is disturbing. Like, borrowing people from mental wards to read the stock market trends in their viscera. *WHAT* *WHY* Lethe House is present at all events involving the other societies to ensure rules are followed, no more hobos are killed, and nothing goes wrong. Theoretically.

In theory, this book should be everything that could be interesting in a book. Magic in the modern world, secret societies, a collegiate setting, etc. It was interesting, but it did take awhile for me to really get into it and even then it took me awhile longer to find Alex Stern to be anything other than sort of bland. Darlington saved this book – his POV was interesting from the start and his absence was even more attention grabbing. He’s so totally not in Spain, but where is he? The mystery portion of this book (ie, who killed the girl and were the societies involved?) did keep me reading longer than I would have if the book solely relied on me liking Alex Stern. I did like her by the end and I will absolutely be picking up the sequel on release day. 

Overall, Ninth House was a win for me, with reservations. I felt the ending was a bit rushed and unexpected. Yes, it was a mystery/horror book but you know, clues are a thing and being able to smack your forehead and go “WHY DIDN’T I SEE THAT SOONER”  is how these things should go. It shouldn’t be me going “GOLLY, THAT WAS OUT OF THE BLUE, WHAT THE HECK”. Between this, and the blandness of the characters towards the beginning, this is only getting four stars from me. 

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco – Review

Cover- Capturing the Devil

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #4

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Pages: 453 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.0/5.0

Synopsis:

In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?


Okay, so this book made me UNREASONABLY angry. I actually had to pause the audiobook and vent about it to my husband, who was caught entirely unawares by this outburst. He was stunned and had no idea what to say. This review will have spoilers ahead because I can’t talk about what frustrated me so much without spoiling all the things.

This is the final installment in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and I did begin this with some trepidation as the second book was a flop for me. Audrey Rose spent the entire book whinging about EVERYTHING and she was SO SET UPON BY HER ANGUISH. It irritated me endlessly. The gave the third book a chance and was pleasantly surprised by the turnaround in her character – finally she was starting to act like the intelligent, capable young woman we are told she is. And the fourth book unfortunately mirrors the second and WHINGING Audrey Rose returns with a vengeance. She stops being the clever girl she’s supposed to be and turns back into an emotional wreck. It’s not entirely without reason, but nonetheless instead of seeing that a solution could be found she sees only the problem. Girl, use that razor blade and slice the old goon that stands in the way of your Thomas! Thomas is equally bad in this book and turns into a moping sop and suddenly loses all his intelligence as well. Two mopey idiots.

Oh yeah, this is also supposed to be a murdery, crime-solving type book but that part is almost an afterthought and if you’ve done any research on H.H. Holmes, aka the White City Devil, you’ll know who the culprit is as soon as his alias is used for the first time. The book focuses almost entirely on the Wadsworth-Cresswell wedding and their relationship. You feel sort of sappy happy leading up to the wedding and then when the cheap, unnecessary drama of AN UNKNOWN PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT shows up the book revolves around Audrey and Thomas crying into one another’s arms and eating cake. Their collective intellect takes far too long to rebound and focus on solving the problem and in the end they don’t even solve it! I was SO MAD. It was such a cheap plot device – I don’t usually get this opinionated about what an author should have done, but having them get married and then go off to Chicago as a honeymoon destination would have worked so much more smoothly and elegantly. They could have been on their own, solving a murder unchaperoned (EGAD!) and living their best lives, but NOOOOO. We had to throw in some money-grubbing broad and Thomas’s estranged turd of a father for cheap soap-opera drama.

I’m just gonna stop that here. This book was a tremendous disappointment and the entire series is quite average overall, so if it still sounds like your thing go for it! I’m a bit mad at myself that I wasted my own time, but I’m also glad to know how things ended. I didn’t hate the ending, I just think it could have been so much more – this could have been a magnificent triumph, however it was almost like the characters settled and were trying overly hard to be modern for the era. It’s just whatever.

Waiting on Wednesday: Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover - Ashes of the Sun

Epic sibling rivalry, a world on the brink of civil war, and magic! Someone should really hire me to do dramatic and brief book summaries. Ashes of the Sun is the start of a brand spankin’ new trilogy by the one and only Django Wexler. If his previous books are anything to go by this will be a fantastic action packed book and I’m so excited. This will be released July 2020, so you’ve got plenty of time to whittle down those TBRs and make room for this awesome looking book!

The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett – Review

Cover- The Throne of the Five Winds

Published: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Hostage of Empire #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 704 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Two queens, two concubines, six princes. Innumerable hidden agendas. Yala, lady-in-waiting to the princess of a vanquished kingdom, must navigate their captors’ treacherous imperial court.

The Emperor’s palace — full of ambitious royals, sly gossip, and unforeseen perils — is perhaps the most dangerous place in Zhaon. A hostage for her conquered people’s good behavior, the lady Komor Yala has only her wits and her hidden maiden’s blade to protect herself — and her childhood friend Princess Mahara, sacrificed in marriage to the enemy to secure a tenuous peace.

But the Emperor is aging, and the Khir princess and her lady-in-waiting soon find themselves pawns in the six princes’ deadly schemes for the throne — and a single spark could ignite fresh rebellion in Khir.

And then, the Emperor falls ill, and a far bloodier game begins…

The Throne of the Five Winds is the first installment of the Hostage of Empire series, an intricate and ruthless East Asia-inspired epic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of George R. R. Martin, Ken Liu, Kate Elliott, and K. Arsenault Rivera.


Could this book have been any better? Probably not! The Throne of the Five Winds truly just struck all the right chords for me and ended up being this lovely, enticing, and somewhat saddening beginning to what I think will be a tremendous fantasy series. This book could fittingly have been titled “A Game of Thrones” as well – almost the entire book focuses on the political machinations of the six princes, two queens, two concubines, and countless others that surround the throne of Zhaon. It was far more fascinating than I would have initially anticipated – I expected dense and possibly a dragging pace but that wasn’t the case.

Lady Komor Yala (called Yala, as her family name is listed first) was chosen to accompany her childhood friend, Princess Mahara, to Zhaon when she was to be married to the eldest prince to secure peace. Yala is intelligent and deadly, having been raised in the traditional Khir fashion whereas Mahara was raised to be a silent figurehead meant to bear children. I loved both Yala and Mahara for their bravery, friendship, and Yala’s dedication to her role as protector and lady. The other women of power in the palace (aside from the second concubine) were dreadful – scheming, cruel things out for their own gain. The princes and princesses were a mixed bag, with some being wonderful and others just as conniving as their mothers and twice as cruel. It was unavoidable that some of the princes found Yala appealing, as she was alluring if not traditionally beautiful, and that was honestly one of my favorite parts of the story. 

Ah yes, the story – it’s one of politics on a grand scale. With the Khir beaten and peace secured, the Zhaon have returned focus to their inner political battles though it may not be as peaceful as they thought. Mahara’s illegitimate brother has become heir and he doesn’t hold the same views on peace that perhaps his father does and he begins his own scheming. The Zhaon prince are either warriors or snakes (and sometimes both) and are trying to outmaneuver one another and it only escalates when it becomes apparent the Emperor is dying. The throne will soon be vacant and one of them will have the opportunity to fill it. There are numerous assassination attempts on multiple characters and there’s enough violence to sate the bloodthirsty reader. No full scale battles perhaps, but the action is certainly there. Though I love a good battle, the truly fascinating parts featured Yala and Mahara (good, since they’re the main characters). Yala is the quiet strength behind her princess and fills so many roles – secret guardian, spy, the fall guy (or girl in this case), companion, and so much more. She’s demure and intelligent and it’s made even better because she could also knife you with her hidden blade faster than you could imagine. 

I can’t fit all my feels for this book into words. It was just SO, SO GOOD and I was taken by surprise at how much I loved it! It saddens me that I have to wait for the next book which will hopefully be released in 2020 because this book ended on such a sad note with so many loose strings. I’m unsure where this will go next and what Yala’s next moves will be and I just want to know if she will be a magnificent and avenging angel. GEEZ.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – Review

Cover- The Haunting of Hill House

Published: October 3, 2013 (orig. Oct 16, 1959)

Publisher: Penguin Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror

Pages: 235 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.0/5.0

Synopsis:

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.


UGH. I was really looking forward to reading this during the Halloween season – classic ghosty, spooky tale, you know – and I was just so disappointed! It was promising at first, introducing us to the situation, the characters, and even the house but I quickly realized that it was going to be mediocre at best. 

The characters were fine if a little dull. We have Eleanor, Theodora, Luke, and Dr. Montague who are all at Hill House to record any supernatural phenomena they encounter for Dr. Montague’s research. Eleanor is the most interesting of the lot simply because we get to learn the most about her past and motives for accepting the invite to Hill House. The others are flat, one dimensional characters with Theodora being the most interesting of them. She and Eleanor both are kind of dramatic.

I went into this thinking the synopsis sounded ominous, but I was left so underwhelmed. Perhaps the shorter length of the book left me wanting for substance or maybe it really was just as boring as I thought it was.  It took me THREE DAYS to read this even though it’s only just over 200 pages because it wasn’t enjoyable or even scary! The characters spend most of their time at Hill House dilly-dallying and talking about how they weren’t properly afraid of the haunty bits after they had occurred. The scariest part of the book was Mrs. Dudley the housekeeper.

I should’ve just watched the show, which is apparently much scarier and much different than the book.