Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: The Heir and The Crown (The Selection Series #4-5)

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

The Heir, by Keira Cass, is the fourth novel in The Selection series. The Heir is from a new perspective, Maxon's and America's daughter, Princess Eadlyn. Many known characters and new ones appear in the story. Eighteen-year-old Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible. But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests. Eadlyn doesn't expect to find true love. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her--and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series has captured the hearts of readers from its very first page. Now the end of the journey is here. Prepare to be swept off your feet by The Crown—the eagerly awaited, wonderfully romantic fifth and final book in the Selection series.

The Crown, by Keira Cass, is the fifth novel in The Selection series. A sequel to The Heir, it is the final full-sized novel in The Selection Series and the end of Eadlyn's Selection. Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising a person. Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected. Follow Illéa’s royal family into a whole new Selection—and find out what happens after happily ever after.

I looked forward to learning what happened in these next installments of the Selection series. The last two books follow the journey of Princess Eadlyn Schreave. The book begins with Eadlyn explaining that she was born seven minutes before her twin brother, Ahren. Previously, it would be his right to be the heir to the throne of Illéa, but their parents King Maxon Schreave and Queen America Schreave changed the law and made it possible for Eadlyn to be the first female ruler of the country, something that often overwhelms her, but also makes her feel powerful. Maxon and America have two more sons: Kaden (14) and Osten (10). Yeah, I know what you're thinking -- the novel not only promotes women empowerment and women in leadership roles but also tries to hype up the possibility of the first female U.S. president--which, to this day, is still a dream rather than reality. Her father has eliminated the castes, but although people were initially relieved, many citizens begin to riot all over the country due to post-caste discrimination. To distract the attention of the public until they can figure out a way to fix the situation, her parents suggest that Eadlyn should go through her own Selection. In this way, public support will focus less on the social inequities since everyone will focus on the budding fairy-tale romance on their televisions and radios.

Overall, I felt somewhat disappointed with the story of Eadlyn. She came across as a pompous, irritable know-it-all. As a result, her world outlook is narrowed within the confines of the castle with a general understanding of the people in her kingdom. She knows that she has to appear confident in front of the camera, but she has no clue how the people live or struggle outside the halls. What was so refreshing about the America character was that she was outspoken and realistic to the prince. She wanted positive change for the people. While the novel implicitly highlighted reforms under King Maxon, the couple realize how much harder it is to change the hearts of conformists and enact policy reforms. I also thought the finale was rushed because everything was crammed into the fifth novel. Sadly, the couple--America and Maxon--that fans adored in the first three novels appeared stiff and exhausted--even though they were in their early 40s! While the twist was innovative (I wasn't spoil the ending), I wasn't rooting for Eadlyn the same way I felt optimistic for America. This series was in general very good but the last two books could have been hit-or-miss novellas given the lukewarm reaction from fans.
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)

The thrilling final installment of Chloe Neill’s New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series sees a sinister sorcery advancing across Chicago, and it may usher in the fall of Cadogan House

Blade Boundis the thirteenth and final installment in the Chicagoland Vampires series featuring Caroline Merit and Ethan Sullivan. Since the night of her brutal attack and unwilling transformation to vampire in the first novel, Merit has stood as Sentinel and protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House. In her former human life, she was a graduate student working on her PhD in English literature and languag at the University of Chicago. Having accepted her new role as a vampire, she set aside the academic life and transitioned into her guardian role. She has saved the Windy City from the forces of darkness time ’s and again with her liege and lover, Ethan Sullivan, by her side. They have proven to be inseparable time and time again. At long last, there is a happily ever after.

But that romantic atmosphere was abruptly interrupted. When Cadogan House is infiltrated and Merit is attacked by a vampire seemingly under the sway of dark magic, Merit and Ethan realize the danger is closer than they could have ever imagined. As sorcery from the past spreads throughout the city of Chicago, Merit must go to war against supernatural powers beyond her comprehension. It is her last chance to save everything—and everyone—she loves. It becomes an apocalyptic nightmare with a stunning finale that will excite fans and even the vampire couple.

I am so elated that I picked up these series years ago. As a native Midwesterner, I love to read paranormal romantic novels that take place in my home region. What's even better--Chicago is where I went to college. Chloe Neill is a fantastic under-rated writer who took her fans and audiences through a riveting and adventurous journey of vampires, angels, shapeshifters, and wizardry. If you have not checked out this series, I highly recommend it for the older young adult crowd (over the age of 21). I will miss this couple tremendously. Merit becomes such a captivating protagonist and her lover, Ethan, becomes a even better leader of his people. But I look forward to future spin-off novels and novellas that feature Team Merit and Ethan.

Stay tune for more information about the next series in the Chicagoland Vampires universe, Heirs of Chicagoland. I won't reveal any spoilers, but if you are anxious for information, it will be similar to the surprising ending in the season finale of Grimm (2011-2017).
When the House is infiltrated and Merit is attacked by a vampire seemingly under the sway of dark magic, Merit and Ethan realize the danger is closer than they could have ever imagined. As a malign sorcery spreads throughout the city, Merit must go to war against supernatural powers beyond her comprehension. It’s her last chance to save everything—and everyone—she loves. Click here to read the rest of this post...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Archangel's Legion and Archangel's Shadow (Guild Hunter #6-7)

Yet even as they fight desperately to save the city, an even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New York…and on Raphael. Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the world will never again be the same…

Archangel's Legion, by Nalini Singh, is the sixth novel in the Guild Hunter series. It is the brink of an arch-angelic war. Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force. Vampires are also dying of an unknown disease. Guild hunter-turned-immortal Elena Deveraux and the archangel Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy archangels. As they fight desperately to save the city, an ancient dark force is also stirring with its attention directly on Raphael.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Archangel's Shadow, by Nalini Singh, is the seventh novel in the Guild Hunter series. Archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena Deveraux, are dealing with arch-angelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot—correction should not—be walking the streets.

Meanwhile, the plot centers on two Guild hunters who work strikingly compatible as partners to defeat the evil that lurks the night. Ash is a gifted human tracker cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy 200-year-old Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s dark family secret that threatens to destroy them both.

Singh drops a bomb in Archangel's Legion when an ancient evil awakens that even stuns our hero Raphael. I will not spoil the news but it is news worth finding out. Singh does an excellent job building the world of archangels that makes their politics both intriguing and amazing to read. Additionally, I absolutely adored this couple, Ash and Janvier! I was initially reluctant to read Archangel's Shadows because I had never heard of their names in Singh's previous novels. Much to my surprise, they worked well together seamlessly as a team and as lovers. Javier knows how to cherish Ash in ways she has never imagined, which is a positive attribute in a soulmate. I hope to encounter them more in future novels and short stories (novellas) because they are now one of my favorite couples in the Guild Hunter universe. I recommend the Guild Hunter series to the older young adult crowd (over age 21) because the brutal dystopian aspects can be bit nerving for younger readers.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Guild Hunter series, Archangel's Enigma.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: Black Knight (Witch World #2)

Jessica Ralle thought the worst was over. The mindblowing revelations. The terrifying danger. The heartbreaking loss. Turns out, discovering Witch World was just the beginning.

Black Knight, by Christopher Pike, is the second novel in the Witch World series. New witch Jessica Ralle thought the worst was over. The mind-blowing revelations. The terrifying danger. The heartbreaking loss. But it tTurns out, discovering Witch World was just the beginning. Before Jessie can get the hang of the parallel-world–hopping double life introduced in Witch World (2012), she’s tossed into a paranormal version of The Hunger Games.

In the real world, Jessie prepares to start her freshman year at UCLA. In the witch world, she deals with witch politics following her defeat of Syn. The mysterious Alchemist leads Jessie to believe Syn might not be as dead as presumed. Meanwhile, Jessie has dreams of a handsome, young jewel thief named Marc and his heists. She has no idea why she is connected to Marc. Suddenly, she’s abducted in the real world and taken to the Field, an ancient testing ground on which six selected witches lead teams in a sole-survivor-wins contest—and Marc’s on her team. While her real-world days are spent battling opponents and making alliances to keep her team alive, during the reprieves offered by her witch-world days, she trains for the Field and seeks answers about it. In a race against time, Jessie must figure out the importance of the Field and how to stay alive to the finale.

Legendary thriller writer Christopher Pike takes on The Hunger Games in this exhilaration adventure of mystery, suspense and paranormal. Many questions are left unanswered in Black Knight to lure readers toward the inevitable third book that the ending sets up. When Pike announces the release of the third book, I will write a review on my thoughts of this dual-universe concept. Jessie’s so unlikable (especially in her treatment of her boyfriend since Red Queen) and foolish (she constantly holds back from finishing off opponents who are trying to kill her, enabling them to regroup and try again) that readers will be baffled that so many characters instantly love her. I am still curious on the role of Marc and his importance in the series. Those overlooking its heroine will enjoy the plot’s new spin on the familiar tropes. Click here to read the rest of this post...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10)

the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone...

Silence Broken is the tenth novel in the Mercy Thompson series. Attacked and abducted in her home territory, coyote shapeshifter Mercy Thompson finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. Mercy manages to escape in coyote form—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe. Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which with little time to waste. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague (Czechoslovakia), old ghosts rise. Mercy has no time to waste! With tensions brewing, she needs to be at her best mentally and physically to survive this nightmare.

This novel is beyond epic proportions. Briggs has exceeded her own previous novels! Mercy Thompson is kidnapped and taken across the ocean where she meets a powerful vampire master. This situation tests not only her husband Adam's endurance but also her own survival skills in a strange land. What I loved about this novel is that Mercy is at her most vulnerable away from her comrades in the Tri-Cities area. Yet she courageously escapes the clutches of the vampires to seek shelter with allies. Her strong will to live and survive against the odds is what makes her such a great protagonist and heroine. Old world meets new world. Mercy and friends make new friends in Europe while they uncover more dark secrets that could threaten the supernatural world. More importantly, Adam and Mercy's deep love for each other is strengthened in this ordeal. I enjoyed this addition to the series. Stay tuned for the next Mercy Thompson novel. Click here to read the rest of this post...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Review: Ruby Red ~ Sapphire Blue ~ Emerald Green (Books #1-3)

This is a review of German author Kerstin Gier's young adult science fiction novel series, The Ruby Red Trilogy.

Ruby Red is the first novel in the Ruby Red Trilogy. Gwyneth Shepherd has always admired her beautiful, sophisticated cousin Charlotte, who has been preparing her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth who inherited the time-traveling ability. At one moment, Gwen, sitting in class, finds herself spinning to a different era! Gwen must now uncover the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her time-traveling ability. Suddenly, Gwen is introduced to a secret society where she must brush up on her history and work with a partner named Gideon―the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Sapphire Blue is the second novel in the Ruby Red Trilogy. Gwen's life has turned upside down ever since she discovered that she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. Of course there is Gideon, the Diamond, whom she has not figured out completely. He praises and criticizes her ways. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood, she's been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean. Fortunately, she has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius the gargoyle demon offers advice in a humorous manner.

Emerald Green is the third and final novel in the Ruby Red Trilogy. Gwen realizes that she has a destiny to fulfill but she has no clue what it is. Additionally, the secret of her birth start to unravel at the most stunning She has only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve. But she has a bad feeling on what she will discover. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. The secret of her birth also begin to unravel in this stunning finale. Confused about her feelings for Gideon and the dangers that lie ahead in her journey to the past, Gwen must learn the truth about her fate before she is lost forever in time.

This was a remarkable and adventurous series! After hearing rave views about these novels, I made the decision to check out these books from the local library. It is not often that authors can write a good time-traveling tale that combines romance, mystery, and suspense. The last time I've read a time-traveling book was the Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (another series I highly recommend and a review is available on this blog). Gier exceeded my expectations. While the chemistry between Gideon and Gwen seemed a bit rush, it felt more natural in the second half of Emerald Green. I hope that Gier decides to publish short stories (translated in English of course) on the two lovebirds' adventures after the Circle of Twelve. Click here to read the rest of this post...