Saturday, July 9, 2016

City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett

23909755This review was written by: B
Received: Blogging for Books
Publication Date of Book: January 2016 
Pages: 484 (2016 Paperback Edition)
Stars: 5/5

Official Summary:
A century ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of supernatural sentinels who killed and enslaved millions.

Now the city's god is dead.  The city itself lies in ruins.  And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh -- foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled prime minister -- has been exiled there to count down the days until she can retire and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a terrifying discovery.  For while the city's god is most certainly dead, something is awakening in Voortyashtan.  And someone is determined to make the world tremble at the city's awful power again.

My Thoughts:
Five years after the ending of City of Stairs, General Mulagesh is laying low and slowly biding her time until she can retire.  She wants nothing more to do with the brutal bloodshed and death she's dealt with since her youth.  In fact, being positioned at a desk job or living in the middle of nowhere is just fine with her.  However, no amount of planning on her part could ever stop the cunning Prime Minister Shara from wanting talented Mulagesh back on the battlefield, though, only this time as an undercover operative.  And so begins Turyin's spiraling descent into further mysteries of the Divine and a heck of a way to wait out the end of her career.  

When I first heard that there would be a follow-up novel to City of Stairs, I was beyond ecstatic.  However, after I found out that Shara would take a backseat role, I began to have my doubts.  She was an undoubtedly brilliant character to follow, and I was crushed that I would not be seeing a great deal more of her sharp-witted, perceptive character.  Mulagesh was an interesting enough side character in City of Stairs, but I didn't think of her as someone I wanted to pursue for four hundred and fifty plus pages.  Robert Jackson Bennett proved me wrong, though, and demonstrated just how capable and versatile of an author he truly is!  While Mulagesh is no spring chicken, that doesn't mean that she can't be a complete badass.  I like to think that her age allowed for the story to have more depth to it because of her accountability, past experiences, and knowledge in warfare.  Mulagesh also refused to let her crippled arm be a nuisance to her, pushing herself to continue to do everything she had before it was taken from her at the Battle of Bulikov.  Her resourcefulness and brilliant perspective threw me for a loop and made me retract all of the qualms that I had beforehand. I also began to appreciate how RJB could bring even more diversity and possibilities to the story using Mulagesh instead of Shara, evolving the sequel into something phenomenal and deeper on the most basic human level.

What truly impressed me was how far the author delved into what it means to be a soldier.  Yes, it is wonderful to be victorious, and yes, who would not want to win the war?  However, RJB covered how winning may come at a greater price than what one might have originally bargained for.  With Mulagesh, he was able to tell a realistic tale that delved into what I believe to be the full spectrum of a true warrior, touching base on such subjects as post-traumatic stress disorder and loss.  On a more positive note, we were able to see further, absolutely flawless world building and some returning characters.  (When Sigrud came on scene, I may have squealed!)

The Divine Cities series contains a world that'll attract you like a moth to a flame (or like a bibliophile to a Barnes & Noble!).There is never a dull moment.  Either you're falling deeper into the back stories or you're holding on to the action with all you've got.  Robert Jackson Bennett weaves twisting mysteries and fantastical stories together in the most intriguing of ways, creating a perfect blend that any fantasy reader will suddenly want to devour!  I know that I can count on this man to hold back none of his brilliance, but instead wow me time and time again.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Boy Who Knew Everything (Book #2) by Victoria Forester

This review was written by: C
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: October 2015
Pages: 416
Stars: 3.5/5

Official Summary:

Here is the long-awaited companion to The Girl Who Could Fly.

There is a prophecy.

It speaks of a girl who can fly and a boy who knows everything. The prophecy says that they have the power to bring about great change...

The boy is Conrad Harrington III. The girl is Piper McCloud. They need their talents now, more than ever, if they are to save the world—and themselves.

My Thoughts:

I have waited so long for this book to come out! I fell in love with The Girl Who Could Fly when it was first published way back in 2008. It is by far one of my absolute favorite Middle Grade novels. Piper was such an enchanting character, and Forester knew exactly how to create a fantastical tale that utterly drew you in. 

I was actually starting to lose hope that a second book would even be written. The Girl Who Could Fly had such a cliffhanger of an ending, and there was no second book in sight. All-in-all, I can't believe it took seven years for the second book to finally become a reality! I know that there are a lot of mixed opinions about the story. Some say that it was absolutely terrible compared to the first, but there are quite a few people who thought it was still as magical as its predecessor. I do have quite a bit to say, but I want to give you guys a bit more of an overview of what the story is about, mostly due to the fact that the official GoodReads summary really doesn't tell you much.

The Boy Who Knew Everything picks up where The Girl Who Could Fly left off. All of the kids are where they belong, and Conrad is living with Piper and her family. As time goes on, Piper attempts to gain Conrad's support in gathering all of the children in order to use their powers for good. Conrad doesn't really want anything to do with such an idea, and he's devastated and put into a permanent funk when  his parents pronounce him dead. 

Eventually a terrifying event helps Conrad regain his senses, and he agrees to become the great leader that Piper and the kids desperately need. He orchestrates their heroic activities and makes sure that the world is none the wiser that they exist. However, nothing can ever be simple, and the children may be in grave danger.

With the disappearance of Conrad's little sister, Piper and Conrad embark on a journey to save his family. Their adventures will lead them to a secret world where people with special powers exist in peace and harmony...or at least that's how this supposedly miraculous place appears on the surface. And little do they know that absolutely no one will be safe once Conrad's family's secrets are brought to light.


With a better description of the story out of the way, let's get to my thoughts on the book. We all know that The Girl Who Could Fly ended on a cliffhanger with the invisible man, also known as J., explaining to Piper that all of the kid's from I.N.S.A.N.E. aren't safe and that they all belong somewhere with people that are special like them. However, you don't really know where or what this place is. As a result, I am happy to announce that you won't be disappointed to find out that you get to learn a lot more about J., his family, and the hidden place that he mentioned in the first book. However, there's still quite a bit of mystery surrounding him, and I do have to add that I find it strange that Piper utterly trusts him. Maybe it's the fact that he's a grown adult who often watches on her and the rest of the kids while he's invisible. I feel as if he gives off a creepy stalker vibe; however, his intentions are pure.

Dr. Hellion is also still in the picture, but she really isn't much use due to the fact that she's mentally insane and locked away. I really wasn't planning to see any redemption plot weaved in for her, but Forester did include a little subplot of this.

I was most excited to read about Piper again. Her southern charm and simple upbringing were a joy to read about in the first book. As Stephenie Meyer said, The Girl Who Could Fly really is a mix of X-men and Little House on the Prairie. However, it did take awhile for me to get back into the swing of her writing. It may be that I'm older and don't really read any Middle Grade novels anymore, but her writing didn't seem to possess the exact same pizzazz and style that I remember in The Girl Who Could Fly. However, I didn't let this prevent me from finishing the story, and about a forth of the way into the book, I got into the swing of things.

I do feel that the first book was the best, but stories have to evolve with each new installment. As a result, I  think that this is where some readers felt disappointed. (At least, by looking at some of the reviews for this book, this is probably what some readers got hung up on.) The first book was so exciting because you got to experience all of the joy, exhilaration, and danger that Piper felt while discovering her powers for the first time. Piper is a character like no other, and it was thrilling to share in her experiences.

The first book then progressed by introducing an organization that takes people like Piper and tries to destroy their uniqueness. That plot followed a classic formula with a unique twist to it that readers love, and it was also the book in which the reader discovered Piper's world for the first time. Everything felt so fresh and new, and I have to say that it's probably difficult to construct a story that's capable of bringing forth the exact same feelings that the reader experienced with the first installment.

With the second book, Forester had to build on everything that the readers fell in love with prior and weave a new scenario and villain that would capture her original audience. She also had to tie up loose ends that existed in the first book. I know that she was trying to progress the story in a way that she hoped readers would find interesting and thrilling. However, the new direction wasn't what I was hoping for. The story felt a little vague at times and some aspects were a little out there and rushed. I was also a little disappointed that Piper wasn't the main character. Forester chose to center the second book around Conrad. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Conrad in the first book, but I love Piper even more. She's a character that I fell in love with as a kid, and I was hoping that she would be the main protagonist in the continuation.

I am glad that Forester continued the story, because then I would never have known what would have happened to Piper and the rest of the cast. Forester also probably wanted to change things up, and she was able to create a new plot by focusing on Conrad rather than Piper. It does make sense that she would switch to another character if the plot is supposed to revolve around a prophecy that involves both Piper and Conrad. Although, I did find it a little strange that there wasn't a direct prophecy written. All you are told is that there is one and it involves two people that fit Piper and Conrad's description. Maybe it's my love of Percy Jackson that created the need to have a solid, fleshed-out prophecy that I can follow and anticipate what will be happening next.

I also want to mention the covers. I don't really like the revamp that was done on the series:


23310823     23310670

Maybe it's just that the original cover looks more realistic (which I think is better), but I don't really like the covers with the cartoonish depictions of the characters that the publisher decided to go with.

In the end, I feel that The Boy Who Knew Everything did still have some of the magic that the first book possessed. There was also quite a bit of suspense built up for the ending, and I hope that this book will definitely open the door for a third installment! However, I hope that it comes out in less than 8 years!

If you enjoyed this book you may also like:

9917879     107664     7718013

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

This review was written by: B
Received: Viking (imprint of Penguin Random House)
Publication Date of Book: 6/28/16
Pages: 368
Stars: 4.5/5 

Official Summary:

"A Kavalier & Clay for the Comic-Con Age, this is a bighearted, inventive, exuberant debut." - Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints

Valerie Torrey took her son Alex and fled Los Angeles six years ago -- leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her costar husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart.  Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.

As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars, from a hapless twenty something illustrator to a lesbian comics writer to a group of cosplay women who provide a chorus of knowing commentary.  For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined.

A literary-meets-genre pleasure from an exciting new writer, A Hundred Thousand Worlds is a tribute to the fierce and complicated love between a mother and son -- and to the way the stories we create come to shape us.

My Thoughts:
A Hundred Thousand Worlds was not a book that I was prepared for.  All that I knew when I first heard of it and saw its gorgeous cover was that I needed to get my desperate hands on it ASAP!  I'm a huge fan of the comic book medium and all that its creation entails.  Plus, going to a con has been on my bucket list for ages.  So, reading a book that included comic book writers and artists, cosplayers, convention goers, cons themselves, panels, fandoms, and all the nerdy feels, centered around a story of familial love and sacrifice, was paradise for my little beating heart!

Looking back on it, I'm extremely surprised that I haven't really come across a novel revolving around people going to and from conventions before.  As a result, I didn't initially have too many expectations or standards heading into this book.  With no idea what to hope for except a story that would keep my mind interested and my imagination engaged, all that I could ask for was what every other reader would ask for.  You can imagine my surprise, then, when Proehl threw me for a loop with his enthralling, sincere debut that captivated my every waking moment with its exclusive quirkiness, deep rooted themes, and more than beautiful story telling.  A Hundred Thousand Worlds literally took my breath away.  It was such a gracefully sculpted story that I was left speechless by the end (and slightly close to tears).  It's true that A Hundred Thousand Worlds is full of crazy ideas and even crazier characters, but at the core of it all, there is a touching story about the bonds that hold us all together, some by a thread and others by glue.  Yes, there are brave superheroes, popular actors, eccentric writers, and awkward artists, but at the same time, this is a story where at the core of it all is heart, and there is so much more to this book than can possibly be explained with words.  It needs to be experienced firsthand or you'll be missing out on something huge.  If you're into comics, consider yourself a "geek", and/or are an extreme fangirl or fanboy, you need to pick this book up and take in all of its epic glory!  And, even if you don't fit any of these descriptions whatsoever, this book should be read regardless, because it holds something special and rich inside of it that's equally incommunicable and untouchable except by Proehl.

For some, this may seem like an intimidating book.  I know that when I first saw A Hundred Thousand Worlds in person it appeared daunting (but that could just be because I read a lot of YA . . . and I mean A LOT of YA).  It may also take awhile to get into the story.  I was about on page 70 before I became totally engrossed.  On top of that, there are quite a few story lines continually being introduced throughout the book, so keeping names straight took a little bit of getting used to.  However, I loved how so many characters crossed paths with one another in unexpected ways, overflowing into the later chapters, the entirety of their hopes and dreams and despairs spilling into different people's lives.  To be honest, I first pictured A Hundred Thousand Worlds as a wacky comedy, but what I got was a debut with weight and honesty.  Sure, I was more than a little surprised that my initial prediction was wrong, but I got something better, thought-provoking even.  I was left with a permanent impression that I will never forget.  Proehl made a huge impact on me, and I'm ecstatic to see what he comes up with next.  He's one of those authors whose every word I will gladly hang on to when it comes to his future works.

The bond between a mother and son is inexpressible; of course, any bond between a parent and child is.  However, Proehl managed to pull off an undefinable phenomenon as if it was nothing harder than a flick of the wrist, creating an impressive, stunning intensity that is inconceivable or unreachable in most other novels.  I fell deeply in love with Proehl's story.  The heartbreak and the strife, the triumphs and the failures, A Hundred Thousand Worlds battled it all.  It's hard to sometimes picture, but we live in a world within worlds, which Proehl understood and covered in depth.  Each and every single one of us has countless facets to ourselves that fit into different places and in different phases of our lives.  Alex struggled with trying to figure out his own life and story, so he decided to create a fictional one in an attempt to unravel his own.  Alex's innocence allowed the author to relay a message to his readers in the simplest yet most profound way possible.  Sometimes the connection between reality and fantasy is closer than we think, and we just have to look hard enough to see the connections.  It may even be that the stories we hear along the way or create on our own are bigger than ourselves.

There are many other aspects to this novel that I loved, as well.  For example, there were all of the side characters that were able to enrich the story and allow the author to dig deeper into the comic book world.  The diversity of this aspect made me a happy camper, especially because one of these characters was a lesbian.  I also had no idea how cut-throat the comic industry could actually be.  Proehl obviously knows a great deal about this area and used this to his advantage while crafting his debut.  He made an excellent point that there are not a great deal of females in the world of comic book making.  Of  course, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to look back at all of my old reads after finishing A Hundred Thousand Worlds, only to discover how true this actually was!  So many comic writers and artists are males.  Proehl also brought up the point of how heroines are continuously oversexed with their costumes so that their serializations will attract more readers, which is absolutely true.  Unfortunately, this is the reality of today, but hopefully the future will prove helpful in changing this fact!  Another point that I want to make is that dispersed throughout the novel were little origin stories based on random heroes who we never hear about again.  I know that for some, they may disrupt the flow of the story, but I gravitated towards them.  They were fantastical and addicting.  I can only imagine how amazing the origin stories would be if they were further fleshed out!

A Hundred Thousand Worlds is an unexpected gem, which I can never truly define, no matter how many words I try to use.  Stories are a huge part of our lives, and how we allow them to shape us and how we allow ourselves to shape them is all up to us!

Cover Reveal: Life Sentence (Paranormal Detectives Book Three) by Lily Luchesi

Life Sentence (Paranormal Detectives Book Three)
By Lily Luchesi
Genre: Paranormal, horror, mystery
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
She can fight evil, but can she fight the darkness in her own blood?
After the disastrous events with Miranda have subsided, Danny and Angelica have to adjust to a new kind of life at the Paranormal Investigative Division.
Fiona is still on the loose, and she has all of Hell on her side. Danny begins to enhance his psychic abilities with the help of a soul just like his. Angelica is caught between a rock and a very dark place.
Can their love survive these new trials, or will the past tear them apart?

Read Stake-Out and Miranda's Rights by clicking HERE.

Watch the official trailer featuring the song "Together" by Matt Lande.

Help Spread the Word on the Release by clicking HERE .
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