Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian Staveley
Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by Brandi

Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian StaveleySkullsworn by Brian Staveley
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
Published by Tor Books on April 25, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, print ARC
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Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess attempting to join the ranks of the God of Death.

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."

Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love...and ending it on the edge of her sword.

"A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor's Blades

“Music is inextricable from its own unmaking. Each note is predicated on the death of those before. Try to hold them all, and you have madness, cacophony, noise.”

I’ve made no bones about how much I love Brian Staveley’s writing, and when I saw he was bringing one of my favorite characters back for her own story I was overjoyed! The bad news is that this took a bit for me to feel pulled in, but full disclaimer – I have been in the most epic of epic reading slumps. Literally the worst slump since I learned how to read. I’m pretty sure that’s what my disconnect was all about but the start was a little heavy, a little purple-y, but that could just be me right now.

This story is about Pyrre, who became one of my ultimate faves in his Unhewn Throne series, and it was super awesome getting inside her head and learning some of her past. This story is set before the Unhewn series and is about Pyrre becoming a Priestess for her god (the god of death). She decides to go back to her homeland to carry out her Trial with Ela and Kossal as her Witnesses. Ela is enchanting and I would happily devour a stand alone or more of just her (please, Brian!!), and Kossal was the perfect compliment to both women. Pyrre, of course, knows that she must give to the god someone for whom she loves but she can’t quite decide what love is and how to get to that point. Ela and Kossal can only do so much to help her understand what love is, and there were some serious philosophical conversations within Pyrre’s own head on this matter. Her story is a tense waiting game to see if she’ll succeed or meet her god.

“The goddess makes us in endlessly different ways. Our Struggles are no more the same than our face.”

Pyrre is fascinating to crawl inside of: her childhood was shocking, her training relentless, her mind a warren of endless entertainment. I loved going between deep philosophical debates on love and worship to seeing her biting humor and adventurous spirit. Seeing her find the one person she might be able to love and going through that journey with her was tough. The synopsis tells us what she has to do so as I’m falling for Ruc I’m all upset that his death is coming and I would go back and forth between glaring at Staveley and feeling sad for Ruc and mad at Pyrre. Even in my horrific slump Brian Staveley knew just how to draw me in.

“All that they have is the old stories, stories of snakes in throats and violets in eyes – those stories are their only weapon, and stories are only weapons if you repeat them.”

“As long as they remained unspoken, they could be denied, disowned, but saying a thing gives it strength.”

This book is a true stand alone but I can’t recommend the Unhewn series enough, Pyrre is a supporting character there so you really can read this without them, but it’s the same world which always makes the reading that much more interesting I think. This book has all that I love in stories: action, adventure, love, sex, humor, myths, legends, and fun. It is an easy read being pretty short for a fantasy which is a great way to break into the genre if you’re not already a fan – or don’t like reading super long books. Brian Staveley is a must-read author.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2016 by Aimee

I received this book for free from Penguin, Speak in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Once Upon a Kiss by Robin PalmerOnce Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Published by Speak on January 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, print ARC
Source: Penguin, Speak
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So much has happened since 1986, and Zoe Brenner is about to find out just how much.
From the author of the book that inspired the Disney original movie Geek Charming!

It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?

A Review Told in Reaction Images: Once Upon a Kiss
(aka Sometimes I Write Short, Harsh Reviews)

#1: The Plot

Once Upon a Kiss is filled with nothing but filler, filler, filler. And plot holes. Lots and lots of plot holes. (Basically NOTHING that happens is ever explained.)

#2: The Heroine

Zoe is a judgemental “special snowflake” character with absolutely no redeeming qualities. The sad part is, she THINKS she’s totally nice and open-minded, when in fact she’s the quickest one to stereotype and judge. The girl-on-girl hate was just… ugh.

#3: The Writing

This book was so full of pop culture references that it was going to explode. Dude, I get it. Some part of the book’s set in the 80’s–I got that from the 231287 you reminded me so. And by that, I mean the heroine takes every opportunity to TELL us it’s the 80’s.

#4: The Characterization

EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. IN. THIS. BOOK. IS. BASED. ON. A. STEREOTYPE. They’re basically just cardboard cutouts with no depth to them whatsoever.

#5: The Romance

This is the only saving grace of the entire novel for me. Again, it was your typical high school romance, but you guys know how much I love best-friends-to-lovers stories.

Overall, way too shallow and full of teenage drama for my tastes. With annoying language and one-dimensional characters, Once Upon a Kiss was just not the read for me.

One Star

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2016 by Chantal

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on March 29th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
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War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Are you really a boy, like Xash says? the god asked Arin. You’ve been mine for twenty years. I raised you.
The Valorian signed the scrap of paper.
Cared for you.
The message was rolled, sealed, and pushed into a tiny leather tube.
Watched over you when you thought you were alone.
The captain tied the tube to hawk’s leg. The bird was too large to be a kestrel. It didn’t have a kestrel’s markings. It cocked its head, turning its glass-bead eyes on Arin.
No, not a boy. A man made in my image…one who knows he can’t afford to be seen as weak.
The hawk launched into the sky.
You’re mine, Arin. You know what you must do.
Arin cut the Valorian’s throat.

I’m speechless.

This book was the perfect ending to one of my all-time favourite series. I can’t believe it’s over. But it was a beautiful ride, Marie Rutkoski, a truly beautiful ride.

Let’s do some reminiscing. When I first picked up The Winner’s Curse my expectations were pretty low. Books with girls in dresses on the cover? Focused primarily on romance? Not really my thing. However, as soon as I started the novel two things became very clear.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Air Awakens by Elise Kova
Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 by Aimee

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Air Awakens by Elise KovaAir Awakens (Air Awakens, #1) by Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens #2
Published by Silver Wing Press on August 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 377
Format: ARC, print ARC
Source: the author
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A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond...
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

This book and I got off on the wrong foot, really. It was probably the COMPLETELY inconsistent pacing that threw me off. I mean, sometimes things happen way too fast, (like the romance, ugh. More on that later) while others take foreverrrr (like, unfortunately, the rest of the plot).

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One StarOne StarOne Star

An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 by Aimee

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy RibayAn Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
Published by Merit Press on October 16th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Gay, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: ARC, digital ARC
Source: the author
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As their senior year approaches, four diverse friends joined by their weekly Dungeons & Dragons game struggle to figure out real life. Archie's trying to cope with the lingering effects of his parents' divorce, Mari's considering an opportunity to contact her biological mother, Dante's working up the courage to come out to his friends, and Sam's clinging to a failing relationship. The four eventually embark on a cross-country road trip in an attempt to solve--or to avoid--their problems.

Told in the narrative style of Akira Kurosawa's RASHOMAN, AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES is at turns geeky, funny, and lyrical as it tells a story about that time in life when friends need each other to become more than just people that hang out.

You know those books that are obviously flawed, but you still end up enjoying immensely? An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes is one of those books. It wasn’t a perfect book by any means, but it’s the kind of book that’ll bring a smile to your face on a rainy (or sunny) day.

One of the main things that’ll make you smile, of course, is the quirky cast of characters. Archie, Mari, Dante and Sam are all huge gaming geeks, with different and totally distinct personalities. They’re totally diverse physically and in terms of background as well–bonus points!

If there’s one thing they have in common, though, it’s that they’re all realistically portrayed. Each character has their own problems, insecurities, and little things that make them happy. They all have their lives outside of their little gaming circle, lives that they’re not always happy and confident with. But they try really hard to cope.

The best part about them is that they all grew throughout the course of the book. To be honest, at first I wanted to hit most of the characters upside the head at the beginning–Archie and Sam especially were huge assholes–but as we got to know them, I understood them better. They understood themselves better, too.

The characters’ relationship grew along with them, too. At first, it’s pretty obvious that the characters aren’t really close, but after they had their little road trip together, they grew into a pretty tight group of four quirky kids. (Although the romance grew in the opposite direction for me. I liked it more when it was just starting out.)

I did have a few gripes about the book, though. For one, the writing was just a tad too simple for me. Sentence structures hardly had any variation, and it made me feel disconnected from the story at some points. While I knew I understood a lot of what the characters felt, I didn’t feel them myself, you know?

The story was pretty typical, with a bit more charm and less of the “I’ve seen that before” feeling. But the lack of that feeling comes with a price–a few scenes seemed to come out of nowhere and were a bit random. At times, they bordered on unrealistic.

Overall, I’d still recommend An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes for anyone looking for a quick road-trip read about geeks and their geeky relationships.

giveaway

ONE lucky winner will receive a HARDCOVER copy of An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes! This giveaway is open internationally. For full terms and conditions, check out the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2015 by Aimee

Blood and Salt by Kim LiggettBlood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Series: Blood and Salt #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Horror, Mystery & Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC, digital ARC
Source: Penguin, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

*Warning: Prepare yourselves for swearing.

There are books that I want to cherish, but end up wanting to throw against a brick wall–Blood and Salt is one of those books. Despite this, I’m actually not sure if I want to recommend it to everyone, or tell you to let it burn in the pits of your TBRs.

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One StarOne StarHalf a Star

Made for Us by Samantha Chase
Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2015 by Aimee

I received this book for free from Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Made for Us by Samantha ChaseMade for Us (The Shaughnessy Brothers, #1) by Samantha Chase
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 4th 2015
Genres: Adult, Fiction, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC, print ARC
Source: Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
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The Shaughnessy brothers—Aiden in particular—have spent the years since their mother’s untimely death taking care of each other and trying to make their father proud. And Aiden has managed pretty well so far. But his father is starting to worry he’s neglected himself. At the age of thirty-four, he is successful and handsome, and he still has no grandchildren!

Aiden’s met plenty of attractive women over the years, but who has the time? It isn’t until he meets Zoe, a designer on one of his jobs, that he starts realizing he wants something more...

Adult contemporary isn’t a genre I normally dive into, but the promise of a hardworking hero and a fierce heroine definitely appealed to me. Made for Us gave me that… but only in the first ten pages. Ultimately, this book ended up turning into an overly dramatic book full of angst.

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One StarHalf a Star

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti
Posted on Sunday, September 27th, 2015 by Chantal

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah BiancottiZeroes Published by Simon Pulse on September 29th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Friendship
Pages: 560
Format: ARC, digital ARC
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Ethan, aka “Scam,” has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn’t just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn’t consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts – like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him – his former group of friends, the self-named “zeros” who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam’s latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action.

It’s always a great experience when you go into a book with no expectations and it turns out you really enjoy it. That’s what happened to me with Zeroes . I hadn’t read a single review beforehand, hadn’t read anything by Scott Westerfeld (though I think I will remedy that now) and have never even heard of the other two authors.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Sweet Obsession by J. Daniels
Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 by Angela

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Sweet Obsession by J. Daniels
Series: Sweet Addiction #3
Published on September 22nd 2015

Genres: Romance, Erotica
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From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, J. Daniels.

Author’s note: Sweet Obsession can be read as a standalone novel.

Everyone knows Brooke Wicks loves to have a good time. She’s not interested in getting serious, settling down, or limiting herself to one man. So when she meets the sexy, irresistible Mason King, she sees another opportunity to let loose and go wild. But the gorgeous Aussie isn’t interested in just a quick fling with Brooke, and if she wants to get into his bed, she’s going to have to do it on his terms.

Loving fast and hard has always been Mason’s philosophy. He doesn’t want a meaningless connection, he wants it all, and he wants it with Brooke. When she makes her one desire known—to hit it and quit it—Mason wages a plan to ensure Brooke keeps coming back for more. Or so he hopes.

Getting her attention was the easy part. Keeping it might be damn near impossible.

Sweet Obsession is where the Sweet Addiction series meets the Alabama Summer series.

 

Giveaway

Sweet Addiction was my very first taste of erotica. The combination of baking and sex, sugar and spice made it the perfect introduction to the genre, and I jokingly blame J. Daniels for corrupting my sweet, innocent mind. I quickly gobbled up the second book, Sweet Possession, and I was sad to say goodbye to the quirky cast of characters I’d grown so fond of. So when I found out that man crazy Brooke was getting her very own book, I was beyond excited. J. Daniels crossing over characters from her Alabama Summer series? It was just icing on the cake.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty
Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2015 by Aimee

I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lock & Mori by Heather W. PettyLock & Mori (Lock & Mori, #1) by Heather W. Petty
Series: Lock & Mori #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 15th 2015
Genres: Mystery & Thriller, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: ARC, digital ARC
Source: Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students, one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James "Mori" Moriarty, meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.

Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more.

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London's Regent's Park. The police have no leads.

FACT: Miss James "Mori"Moriarty and Sherlock "Lock" Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock's one rule--they must share every clue with each other--Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can't trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

This book review is part of The Book Geek’s Genre Spotlight. It’s where we explore and choose one of the myriad genres. We’ll showcase it by having each Book Geek read and review at least one, but possibly a few books belonging to that month’s chosen genre. 

As we fall into September, our spotlight is on Mystery & Thrillers!

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One StarOne Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a nerdy, book-loving Politics graduate from the North of England.

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