Spectacle

Spectacle by Rachel Vincent is the second book in the Menagerie series. We pick up right after book one–Metzger’s Menagerie has been taken over by the cryptids it once held captive and they are putting on quite a convincing show in the hopes of escaping persecution and injustice. But the jig is soon up and Delilah and her fellow cryptids are once again sold into slavery and this time the slavery is more than just cages.

The Savage Spectacle is home to the rich and the depraved, where even the most perverse fantasies are brought to life. Delilah, her friends and her protector, Gallagher, are separated, each expected… forced to perform. For technologically sophisticated collars round the neck of every captive and these collars can turn even their own bodies against them.

What can Delilah and her Fury do when caught in a new cage and surrounded by injustice around every corner? Will Gallagher keep his promise to protect Delilah at all costs? And what price would Delilah be willing to pay for freedom?

I enjoyed this one much more than the first one. The Savage Spectacle was just that, savage and brutal and brought another layer of the injustice the series is obviously portraying that the characters are fighting against.

I like the fight in this book. Our cryptids don’t give up and even though they may despair at times, the fight never leaves them. They got a taste of freedom and refuse to let it go. This is a book about survival and surviving the worst life has to throw at you.

God I just love Gallagher. I feel like he’s meant to be this emotionless, honor bound warrior but this book shows that there is definitely more to him than meets the eye. I’d stick it out for the third book just to see what shadows… and heart come out of his closet. He’s also brutal and devoted and I sort of love that. I can’t help it, dark and twisty is my fictional type.

With it’s many ups, there also comes a few downs. This book doesn’t shy away from the awful. The cryptids are sold into a house of horrors where literally every savage wish is granted. We don’t see any of the gory details but brutality, degradation, sexual abuse and slavery and both physical and mental torture is behind the curtain. The cryptids are violated in every way possible and just because we don’t see the details doesn’t mean that it isn’t awful. I said it before and I’ll say it again, thank god this one is adult fic because I’d have a real problem with the content if it were YA.

We also lose some characters that we became familiar with in Menagerie. Yes, our favorites are still there but we don’t really learn anything more about them in this book than we did in book one. The only characters who evolve and whose relationship evolves is Delilah’s and Gallagher’s.

Finally, this book felt very similar to it’s predecessor, except it takes place on a campus instead of in a traveling circus. The only things that really make it different, plot-wise, is the expanding relationship between Gallagher and Delilah, the more overt brutality and the fact that the ending isn’t all peaches and cream.

I originally gave this one 4 stars but on further reflection I’m leaning more toward 3.5. The audio for this one might have help contribute to pulling me in as much as it did but when I really sat down to think about it later, I could see some of the flaws.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Ultraxenopia: Cover Reveal

Ultraxenopia by M.A. Phipps h7S LOGOas been picked up by Seven Sisters publishing and is being re-published and re-branded with a seriously awesome new cover!

Here’s a sneak peak at the new cover and the goodies to come!

Ultraxenopia Wrap

Blurb:
Don’t stand out. Blend in. Remain invisible. Those are the rules I lived by—the rules I thought would keep me alive.

I was wrong.

Wynter Reeves is a law-abiding citizen of the State, a willing conformist whose daily life is haunted by terrorism and oppression. With the constant threat of death hanging over her like a shadow, she forces herself to live by a strict set of rules, all in the hope of ensuring she is never noticed. However, on her twenty-first birthday, as she prepares to take the placement exam that will determine her future within society, she begins to show symptoms of a rare and debilitating illness—ultimately attracting the attention of the State. Taken into the custody of the feared research facility known as the DSD, her worst nightmare becomes reality.

Ripped away from the life she knew, Wynter is forced to become the test subject of the mysterious Dr. Richter. Through him, she learns the true and terrifying nature of her condition: a disease called Ultraxenopia.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33806043-ultraxenopia

MA Phipps

Author Bio: 

M. A. PHIPPS is an American author who resides near the ocean in picturesque Cornwall with her husband, daughter, and their Jack Russell, Milo. A lover of the written word, it has always been her dream to become a published author, and it is her hope to expand into multiple genres of fiction. When she isn’t writing, you can find her counting down the days until the new season of Game of Thrones.

Author Links:

Official Webpage: http://www.maphipps.com
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BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/m-a-phipps

Excerpt:

“Her blood type,” she whispers in a hushed voice to the man. “It’s . . . changing.”

I may not know much about science, or anything medical having to do with the human body, but I know enough to be certain that what she’s saying isn’t possible. Not without unnatural intervention at least.

I gape at the man, but he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t even seem to react to this news. His eyes follow the code for a while, and his fingers rub his chin as if deep in thought.

When the process is complete, the sphere stops spinning and sinks back to the desktop, landing with a soft thud against the glass surface. Within seconds of touching down, the metal exterior shifts until it’s once again nothing more than a silver bowl filled with blood.

The man straightens up, and everyone in the room watches him in silence, waiting for him to speak.

Including me.

“Fascinating,” he murmurs.

Without warning, he looks over at me, and my heart rate increases when his lips curl into a smile. For some reason, his expression is unnerving.

Moving toward me, his footsteps echo off the floor—the sound growing louder as the distance between us shrinks. His gaze never leaves mine.

Stopping just in front of me, he flashes a kind smile. “Hello, Wynter. My name is Dr. Richter. I’ll be taking care of you.”

Taking care of me?

“Why am I here?” I breathe. My voice is shaky, and the dryness in my throat is apparent in each raspy word. “What are you going to do to me?”

“Shh, hush now,” he whispers. “All of your questions will be answered in time.”

He smiles once again, only breaking eye contact with me to glance down at his hand. I follow his gaze, the fear re-emerging when I see him pull a syringe from the depths of his coat pocket. His eyes flash back to mine, and I know he can sense my fear as well as the piercing screams lodged in my throat.

“But for now,” he croons as he injects the syringe into one of the tubes in my right arm, “you must sleep.”

He takes a step away from me, that disconcerting expression still plastered across his face. I try to say something, but I’m unable to get out a single word before I feel the effects of the liquid as it enters my system. It rushes through me like a cold chill.

I want to fight against it, but it’s hopeless.

As the drowsiness returns to pull me under yet again, the doctor’s smile is all I can see.

 

That’s all for now!

-M-

Windwitch

Windwitch by Susan Dennard is the second book in The Witchlands series. This one picks up only a few days after book one. All of our main characters are separated and facing trials of their own.

Merrick’s ship exploded, causing his country to believe him dead; now Merrick is burned beyond recognition, hellbent on getting revenge. Vivan is trying to save her country from starvation while guarding the border and trying to claim her rightful crown.

Iseult is running from the cleaved and her nightmares while trying to track down her thread-sister and figure out what she really is. Aeduan failed to track down the person who stole his coins and when he takes on a new mission, he is surprised to find that the threads that bind work in mysterious ways.

When we left Safi, she had agreed to work for the Empress of Marstok to save the people she loves. Now she is separated from her thread-sister and at the mercy of assassins.

Who will find who? Who will survive? And how will the Witchlands survive the tumultuous political climate to come?

This book had an interesting narrative style. We basically get two and a half duel perspective narratives. Merrick and is his sister Vivan; Iseult and Aeduan; and Safi thrown in between. In each section, you are given just enough to pull you in, so you want to know what happens and then, poof, you are thrown into another narrative. This works and it doesn’t. It works because you are sucked in and want to know more and it doesn’t because with so many narratives it doesn’t feel like very much happens.

I was a bit more understand of this when I realized The Witchlands is an expected 5 book series. So Windwitch is really supposed to be a way to set the stage for what’s to come. Right now there are hints of the overarching theme/conflict/battle to come but we are still not exactly sure what that will be and what part our characters will play in it.

I said in my review of Truthwitch that the world building was a little lacking but that it didn’t really bother me because the book was so character driven. That opinion still holds for this one, except that I am really missing some of the driving details… the overarching conflict to come.

I’m giving this one 3.5 stars because I really enjoy the dynamic between Iseult and Aeduan. Their storylines are so complex and their characters are just a little dark and twisty and I like it.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Uprooted

Hi Guys,

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is one of my newer favorite fantasy standalone novels. I’ve read it once and listened to it on audio. This week, I was between audiobooks and didn’t want to start another when I have several on hold at the library, so of course I went back to a favorite.

Uprooted is a fantasy novel with witches, wizards, courts and villages, spells and magic and evil corruption. Agnieszka knows she will never be taken because everyone knows the Dragon only takes the most special girls and Angieszka is a smudged, wild, plain girl while Kasia is talented in every way.

Once every ten years the Dragon, a powerful sorcerer and lord of the Valley, leaves his high tower to choose a seventeen year old village girl to serve in his castle. In return, the Dragon protects his people from the Woods. The Woods surrounding the valley are corrupt and all sorts of terrible and strange creatures live within. Every year the Wood takes more and more of the valley and all anyone can do is hold back the storm–the Wood cannot be beaten.

Angieszka fears for her friend Kasia as the choosing approaches, but she should fear for herself. For something powerful lies within Angieszka, which might just make her the most special of them all.

What will Angieszka do when she is chosen? Will she allow fear to manage her or will she find the strength within to fight the coming storm?

The narration of Uprooted is so interesting. The narrator has a Russian accent, but you get the feeling that the book is written out of time and place. The first time I listened to this book, I started out being a little skeptical of the accent but now I can’t imagine the audiobook without it.

There is just so much depth to this book and things are tied together so well, that you don’t even notice until the end or on a second read through. So much happens in this 430+ page book and yet it doesn’t feel too long and there really weren’t any parts that bored me.

The magic in this book is unique; the spells, the way it is used, is done in a way I haven’t seen before. I also love how Angieszka’s powers go against what is known and believed. Her powers seem to stem from the Wood and she doesn’t go against her nature even to meet with the approval of her teacher and the King’s court. I also love how she embraces the dishevelment and no one can make her be anything other than herself.

This book is just special. It is unique. A story that I’ve never heard of before and one that was very hard for me to put down, even when it was over. On a third read, this one still gets 5 stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Red Sister

Little lag in my posting. Got caught up with a few projects. Preparing for Summer Reading is really getting in the way of my reading. Anyway…

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is the first book in a new adult fantasy series that seriously kicks butt. At eight years old Nona Grey is saved from hanging by the Abbess of the Convent of Sweet Mercy. Now young Nona, sold as child labor and accused murderer, is to become a novice at a convent even as her past chases after her.

But this is no ordinary convent. The Sisters of Sweet Mercy are trained in blade and fist, in the way of the path and yes, even as holy sisters. Nona has her sights set on becoming a Red Sister, the fiercest of warriors for:

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

But more than Nona’s training is at stake. An ancient prophecy has brought it’s own troubles down on the convent and war is brewing even as the sun dies and ice engulfs all but a slim corridor of land.

First, let me start off by saying that this book is so much more than just warrior nuns. I keep fumbling when explaining it to colleagues because hearing that a book is about a school for kick ass nuns… doesn’t necessarily say “read me.” But don’t let the sisters fool you, this is a fantasy world with a lot going on; it is character driven and a lot is happening behind the scenes.

The set up of the narration in this book, with a few peeks into the present, reminds me a little of Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. And just like Rothfuss, I wonder when the story-lines are going to meet and then what. Sometimes I really like knowing what is going to happen, the journey is the real sweet zone, but depending on how it is handled, it can be off-putting. We’ll have to wait for the next book to see how this one is going to go.

Holy cow did this book bring the tension. Talk about some intense action scenes! I mean, this book did have some flaws but the dramatic intensity of the writing in these scenes makes up for it. Lawrence really has a knack for filling his action scenes with suspense and drama. Really well done.

Finally, this book is all about the strong female character. It’s a book full of individual women/girls who are confident, strong both mentally and physically, and so much more. I also feel some LGBT relationships coming, on top of the few that are mentioned, which is great. By the end of the book Nona is finally getting a little more interesting… there is just something about a destructive, violent, yet ultimately good character that tugs at me.

On a gut reaction I gave this one four stars and I am going to stick with it. A good fantasy but if you don’t like serious cliffhangers, maybe wait until the next book is out.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Spindle Fire

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer is a YA re-imagining of sleeping beauty and is the first book in a new series. Half sisters Aurora and Isabelle are best friends and total opposites. Aurora is beautiful, sweet, heir to the Deluce throne and unable to speak or feel; Isabelle is the kings illegitimate daughter, head strong and without sight. They are closer than anyone and would do anything for each other.

One day a terrible curse separates the sisters and leaves Deluce at the mercy of an evil fairy with unimaginable powers. Aurora falls into a deep sleep and awakens in a magical world with a terrible mystery and a boy she feels a deep connection to. Isabelle is in a race against time to save her sister by finding her true love and true loves kiss, but Isabelle is unexpectedly drawn to Aurora’s arranged husband and the path they travel is dangerous.

Now Isabelle and Aurora must find their way back to each other and save their kingdom. Can they battle a sleeping curse and solve a mystery decades in the making? Can the bonds of sisterhood survive this separation and the changes bound to occur?

OK, so this book had a really interesting premise. I was really into this idea of half-sisters paralleling twin fairy sisters and having to sort out their story in order to save their own. There was magic and mystery and it was totally up my ally. But I just wasn’t wowed by the tale. I didn’t have to read it. It was interesting and unique but it was missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.

One thing I did really like about Spindle Fire was the fairy tithes. This isn’t anything new with fairy stories but the way the tithes worked was really intriguing. I like how each of the fairies had their own specialized tithes and how it played into their characters. I also think these fairy tithes are going to play into the series moving forward and if so, I like the way it’s heading.

Holy abrupt ending batman! Seriously, here I am listening along and all of a sudden I hear Fiona Hardingham say that this has been a audio production by… Wahhh! That’s one way to get someone to read the sequel, even if they weren’t really into it.

Overall, this one gets three stars from me. I think the sequel might have more potential but this was was just OK for me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas is the third book in the ACOTAR series. This one picks up a few weeks after the disaster in Hybern where the Court of Dreams was injured, Feyre’s sisters turned into high fae and the high lady of the night court left her mate to spy on their enemies.

Now Feyre is back in the Spring Court, painting flowers and pretending to be a perfect all-but damaged lady of spring. When really, she is playing a dangerous game, gathering information on Tamlin and the kings invasion of Prythian. Feyre must walk a fine line all while war inches closer and closer to the people she loves.

Will Feyre be able to sabotage Hybern and it’s allies? Will she get out of Spring alive? Will the Court of Dreams survive the coming onslaught?

Hmmm what to say about this one? I loved ACOMAF so much, I read it three times and listened to the audio book once. But I do not see myself re-reading ACOWAR. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find myself as invested in it as I was the second book. In fact, I found myself feeling about ACOWAR the same way I felt about ACOTAR–not bad but not spectacular.

It’s funny, Maas has these fantastic gems within her series. Books that just cannot compare and I absolutely fall in love with her characters but I don’t always feel like the books are consistent. I’m still going to fangirl over ACOTAR regardless because I love the Court of Dreams so much!

If, in this series, we were only invested in Feyre and Rhys then this would have been a wonderful conclusion to their story. For those two, it was quite a satisfying end. But we aren’t just invested in Feyre and Rhys. We want to know what happens between Cassian and Nesta, Lucian and Elain, Mor, Azriel, Amren, even Tamlin and the other high lords. But we don’t and that’s what was really missing in this one. Even if we got a few chapters with a glimpse of whats to come for those characters, I would have been happy.

Normally, I don’t like when a series switches from one PoV to multi-PoV but in this case, I think it would have added a little something. I hope the future books do this because I really want to see some insight into other characters.

Overall, ACOWAR satisfied my thirst for more Feyre and Rhys but it will be hard to wait to get the missing pieces from the rest of our favorite characters tales. This one gets three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-