Showing posts with label NetGalley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NetGalley. Show all posts

Sunday, June 3, 2018

ARC Review: Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

33918887Title: Bruja Born
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #2
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Young Adult: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Fire; June 5, 1018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead...

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister's newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula's bruja healing powers can't fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula's world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn't the only one who's been brought back...
Labyrinth Lost was one of my favorite reads from last year, and I was more than ready to return to the world of the Brooklyn Brujas. As such, I had high hopes that I would love Bruja Born just as much Labyrinth Lost. I did have one minor issue with it (more on that later). That being said, it was still such a fabulous story full of magic, family, and mayhem.

Lula Mortiz appeared in the last book, but wasn’t on-page much due to the circumstance surrounding the story of Labyrinth Lost. I remember her sister, Alex more, because she was the main character. So, I was excited to see that Lula was getting her own story. What I initially remembered about Lula was that she was a healer who seemed sure of her place in the world as well as confident in her magical capabilities. Bruja Born had a different Lula, and if you’ve read Labyrinth Lost you’ll understand what I mean. At the start of the story, she comes off as bit selfish and self-absorbed. She was readily willing to ignore the pain of others because she felt like they owed her. There was a point where her selfishness and refusal to accept what happened—as well as attempting to ignore what was really going on—kind of irritated me after a while. However, I also got that that pattern of behavior had a place in the story. Lula was supposed to be different and hurt in so many ways. So her willingness to cling to the one thing she perceived as being the most good and stable aspect in her life was believable.

Bruja Born was story about magic, family, and choices. Choices are tricky. Some are right, others are wrong, some are mistakes and you don’t even realize it until later. And the story of Bruja Born illustrates how a split second decision, a moment of desperation, can have unforeseen and lasting consequences. It was also kind of a coming of age type story. Lula had to grow up and understand her mistakes and be held accountable for her actions, as well as learning to let go of the past—no matter how painful—in order to move forward. So, despite my irritation at some of the things that happened, as far as the story overall, Bruja Born was amazing.

It was also nice getting to see some familiar faces from Labyrinth Lost like Rishi, Nova, and others. I also liked the new characters who were introduced, and I have my fingers crossed that they’ll make another appearance in the next book.
I’ll read the next book in the series since the story seems like it’s going to focus on Rose. I’m looking forward to that...


Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for this review.

About the author...

Zoraida Córdova is the author of urban fantasies The Vicious Deep trilogy and the Brooklyn Brujas series. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. Zoraida’s most recent release, Labyrinth Lost, won an International Latino Book award, was named a Best Book of 2016 by Paste Magazine and has been optioned by Paramount Studios. Zoraida is also the author of the upcoming Hollow Crown, to be published by Disney Hyperion in 2019.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ARC Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

30238163Title: Ace of Shades
Series: The Shadow Game #1
Author: Amanda Foody
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Harlequin Teen; April 10, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets...and secrets hide in every shadow...

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted. Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city. And she’ll need to play...
Going into Ace of Shades, I was very excited. I’ve read Amanda Foody’s debut book, Daughter of the Burning City, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. I had high hopes that Ace of Shades would be the same way. I had some mixed feelings about it and didn’t like it as much as Daughter of the Burning City. Still, it was a good story.

The story starts quickly with Enne arriving in New Reynes. The reason is immediately stated, and the story and the main players are introduced and developed from there. New Reynes was definitely the City of Sin. Once again, I think Foody did a good job developing the darker themes of the story such as corruption, crime, and gambling. However, so much of the city was dark, dangerous, and rife with corruption with little to nothing else to break up those themes. It certainly lived up to its name. But, I would have liked to see a little more of the outside world beyond it. It was mentioned, but mainly through flashbacks and exposition from Enne’s limited point of view. But I never got a sense for what those places were actually like. The bulk of the action and mystery was centered in New Reynes and the search for Enne’s missing mother. Luckily, I didn't mind because there was a lot going on with the plot.

So who was good and who was bad? Who could be good or bad in a city nicknamed the City of Sin? There was no easy way to tell when many of the characters were morally ambiguous. That being said, the characters were a highlight for me, or more specifically, I liked the dynamics between them. Levi Glaisyer was far from an infallible character. He made a lot of mistakes and kept a lot of secrets. His past was catching up with him. And I could say the same thing about many of the characters from Ace of Shades, including Enne. At times, Enne was a little naïve, but it fit with the context of her upbringing and subsequent arrival in a new place.

Like I said above, Ace of Shades wasn’t a bad story. I liked it a lot actually. However, the beginning didn’t really draw me in the way Daughter of the Burning City did. It took several chapters before I was able to really get into the story. By far my favorite parts of the book took place in the latter half of the story when the true nature of the city and the game were revealed. There were hints of broader political and social unrest brewing beneath the surface of New Reynes, but they were hints. Of course, the implications point toward where the story could go after the end of Ace of Shades. And I’m interested in seeing where those implications eventually lead and what the consequences will be for Enne, Levi, and the other characters.

So, Ace of Shades was a good story. It was a promising beginning to a new series, and I know I’ll probably read the sequel. I also recommend it for those who enjoyed Foody’s last book, Daughter of the Burning City.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Harlequin Teen via Netgalley for this review.

About the author...

Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books. DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY is her first novel. Her second, ACE OF SHADES, will follow in April 2018...

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ARC Review: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

36686547Title: The Tea Master and the Detective
Author: Aliette de Bodard
Series: The Universe of Xuya
Source/Format: Subterranean Press via Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Subterranean Press; March 31, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appearance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow's Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow's Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow's Child with her.

As they dig deep into the victim's past, The Shadow's Child realizes that the investigation points to Long Chau's own murky past--and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars...
I’m always on the lookout for a good gender-swapped version of Sherlock Holmes, and Aliette de Bodard has achieved that and more with The Tea Master and the Detective. Despite its short length—it’s a novella—De Bodard crafted a compelling book with a fantastic story set in the Xuya Universe with characters that were as mysterious as they were smart. It also had a unique take on space travel that felt fresh and innovative.

I adored this book. It was the perfect combination of science fiction and mystery, with a Sherlock Holmes and Watson-esque relationship between the two main characters, The Shadow’s Child (a mindship) and Long Chau. That’s one thing I love about De Bodard’s writing—she always manages to create such vivid characters. The Shadow’s Child was by far one of my favorite aspects about the book. It was a mindship discharged from the military after a traumatic injury. The character could have gone either way, good or bad. However, the backstory, personality, and how De Bodard portrayed the lingering fears linked to the aforementioned trauma, made for a well-rounded character. The same could be said about Long Chau; although, I much preferred when the two were interacting/investigating.

The Scattered Pearls Belt was an interesting place with excellent world building. There were a number of little details about the society that made it an interesting setting for a mystery to take place. I particularly enjoyed the author’s take on space travel. Specifically, I liked the idea of using something as ordinary and everyday as tea to nullify the effects of traveling into “deep spaces.” And the process behind making these teas—the trial and errors while brewing—were quite fascinating to read about.

So, The Tea Master and the Detective was pretty awesome. I loved everything about it, and I recommend it for readers who have read works by De Bodard before or are looking for a good place to start.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Subterranean Press via Netgalley for this review.
Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris, where she has a day job as a System Engineer. She studied Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, but moonlights as a writer of speculative fiction. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy of Aztec noir fantasies, as well as numerous short stories, which garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her space opera books include The Tea Master and the Detective, a murder mystery set on a space station in a Vietnamese Galactic empire, inspired by the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Recent works include the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (Roc/Gollancz, 2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist), and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns (Ace/Gollancz). She lives in Paris with her family, in a flat with more computers than warm bodies, and a set of Lovecraftian tentacled plants intent on taking over the place...

(Photo credit: Lou Abercrombie)

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

ARC Review: Don't Live For Your Obituary by John Scalzi

36471758Title: Don't Live For Your Obituary: Advice, Commentary and Personal Observations on Writing, 2008-2017
Author: John Scalzi
Series: n/a
Source/Format: Subterranean Press via Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Nonfiction; Writing
Publisher/Publication Date: Subterranean Press; December 31, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...


Between 2008 and 2017, author John Scalzi wrote fifteen books, became a New York Times bestselling author, and won numerous awards, including the Hugo, the Locus and the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. He also had book deals crater, lost more awards than he won, worried about his mortgage and health insurance, flubbed a few deadlines, tried to be a decent parent and husband, and got into some arguments on the Internet, because, after all, that’s what the Internet is for. Scalzi wrote about it all—the highs and lows in the life of a working writer—and gave his readers, and other writers, a glimpse of the day-to-day business of navigating a writing life in today’s world. Sometimes these essays offered advice. Sometimes they commented on the practical business of publishing and selling books. Sometimes they focused on the writing issues, arguments and personalities of the day. And sometimes, Scalzi reflected on his own writing life and career, and what both meant in the larger scheme of things. Don’t Live for Your Obituary is a curated selection of that decade of advice, commentary and observations on the writing life, from one of the best-known science fiction authors working today. But more than that, it’s a portrait of an era—ten years of drama, controversy and change in writing, speculative fiction and the world in general—from someone who was there when it happened… and who had opinions about it all...
Considering that this book was written by John Scalzi, I’m honestly not surprised that I liked it. I’ve been following Scalzi since I read his book, Old Man’s War, in 2015. I was late to the series, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it. So, I was excited when I first learned that he would be releasing a book on writing, mostly comprised of posts that have appeared on his blog between 2008 and 2017.

I liked Don’t Live For Your Obituary partly because I don’t have to go back through all of Scalzi’s blog posts to find the ones included in the book, and he has a lot of insightful commentary on his experience as a published author and on publishing in general. This book covered a myriad of topics. There was one topic I particularly liked and that was the focus on the business side of publishing—including taxes, money, and day jobs—which is something I often look for in writing books but never usually get.

Don’t Live For Your Obituary is a good book to read if you’re thinking about getting involved in anything publishing related, or are just looking for something interesting to read. It doesn’t sugarcoat or feed into lofty expectations, and often focuses on the reality of publishing. So, if you’re a fan of Scalzi then I recommend this book. And, if you’ve read the vast majority of the blog posts on his blog, Whatever, then, I still recommend Don’t Live For Your Obituary.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided  Subterranean Press via Netgalley for this review.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

ARC Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

34050917Title: The Girl in the Tower
Series: The Winternight Trilogy #2
Author: Katherine Arden
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Historical
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; December 5, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege...


Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop...

I've been looking forward to The Girl in the Tower since January, and luckily the wait wasn't too long. I was primarily excited for it because of how much I enjoyed reading the first book in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale. That book had a semi-open ending, and I wanted to know where Arden would take the story since there were so many possibilities. And indeed, The Girl in the Tower picks up shortly after the end of The Bear and the Nightingale. Vasya made her choice, and she intended to stick to it.

By no means was I disappointed by The Girl in the Tower, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous book. I still liked the story, but the first couple of chapters didn’t immediately draw me in the same way The Bear and the Nightingale was able to do. However, once the point of view shifted to Vasya, the story took on a familiar fairytale-like tone, which I was an absolute fan of. It quickly became apparent that this was the dark, icy, and magical sequel I was hoping for.

One of the things I like about Arden’s writing is how atmospheric it is. I particularly enjoyed the historical aspects of the book because of how detailed and real the characters and setting seemed to fit with the time period. She perfectly captured the landscape, weather, and dangers of the setting and society. The folklore is something to be noted too. There are a lot of old tales incorporated into Vasya’s story, which tied in with the magic. It was one of the things I enjoyed so much about The Bear and the Nightingale, and I was glad to see that it carried over into the second book.

That brings me to the characters. While Vasya’s story was the focus, I liked that the secondary characters had personality. They were present in the story, not just there as background noise. Then, there was Vasya. I liked her strength and determination. She learned a lot through her mistakes, and that made her character arch all the more interesting. Morozko—I don’t have much to say about the frost demon, because that would be a spoiler. What I will say is that he's one of my favorite characters in this series, and I appreciated the scenes he was in but wish he would have been more present in the story.

So, while the ending was a little abrupt, The Girl in the Tower was still a solid addition to the series. And if you enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale, then this is a must read. Now begins the wait for book three.
Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Del Rey) via Netgalley for this review.
About the author...

Born in Texas, Katherine attended Middlebury College, where she studied French and Russian literature. She has lived abroad in France and in Moscow, and is fluent in both French and Russian. She has also lived in Hawaii, where she spent time guiding horse trips while writing The Bear and the Nightingale. She currently lives in Vermont...

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ARC Review: Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman

Sky Jumpers (Sky Jumpers, #1)Title:  Sky Jumpers (Sky Jumpers #1)
Author:  Peggy Eddleman
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House Children's, September 24, 2014
Format/Source:  E-ARC, Publisher/NetGalley
Age Range:  8-12
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Summary  From Goodreads

What happens when you can’t do the one thing that matters most?
12-year-old Hope lives in White Rock, a town struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. The bombs destroyed almost everything that came before, so the skill that matters most in White Rock—sometimes it feels like the only thing that matters—is the ability to invent so that the world can regain some of what it’s lost. Read More
My Thoughts
Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman is a post-apocalyptic debut novel that’s full of awesomeness, action, and adventure and is sure to captivate readers. 
Since I was unfamiliar with this author’s work, I was unsure of what to expect from Sky Jumpers. The synopsis piqued my interest. The first thing that caught my attention was the 12 year old female protagonist, trying to find her place in a post-apocalyptic society in which inventing is the most important skill; yet, it’s the very thing that Hope is bad at.
Sky Jumpers is a new family favorite. After I read the first few pages, I was so excited about the storyline that I had to share it with my middle grade (MG) reader. My MG reader enjoyed the book and indicated that, “The book had perfect pacing and kept me interested.” From my point of view, Sky Jumpers is a must read. It will keep you on the edge of your seat as Hope and her friends race against time and set out on a dangerous journey in an effort to save the townspeople. We are definitely looking forward to the second book in the series.

I received an E-ARC of Sky Jumpers from the Publisher/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, Thank you.
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