Friday, July 20, 2018

Forest of Ruin (Age of Legends, #3) by Kelley Armstrong

Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In a world at war, who can you trust?

The empire rests on the edge of a knife, and sisters Ashyn and Moria are the handle and the blade. Desperate to outmaneuver the evil Alvar Kitsune, whose hold on the people grows stronger every day, Emperor Tatsu begs Moria to put aside past grievances and ally with Gavril—at least long enough to make an attempt on Alvar’s life. Meanwhile, reunited with her long-lost grandfather, Ashyn discovers that she is the key to a ritual that could reawaken an ancient dragon and turn the tide of the coming battle in their favor.

But with lies and betrayal lurking around every corner, Ashyn and Moria will have to decide once and for all where their allegiances are. And it may not be where their hearts would lead them…

“Threatened you with what? Forcing you to father children? I’m hardly an expert in the matter, but my rudimentary knowledge of the process suggests that would be difficult.”
Kelley Armstrong might be really good at dismembering fictional bodies, but she's even better at destroying hearts. I cannot remember the last time a book made me cry, but Forest of Ruin had me sobbing so hard I had to pause the audiobook. My heart was already feeling anxious and unsteady, so it couldn't take the expertly thrown dagger that the author had crafted.

If you've been following my blog the last few days, you know I've been flying through this series. I think I listened to all three audiobooks in less than a week, which is insane. I don't think I've slept as much as I should...  I looked for any and every excuse to dive back into the imaginative world Armstrong had created. It was so vivid and realistic!

“As they neared the spot from which the noise had come, Moria saw a hand lying on the pathway. It appeared to be attached to a body, which was a relief. Again, these days, one could not guarantee such a thing.”

I like that there wasn't a love triangle, even though there was an opportunity for one. Two people of the opposite sex can love each other deeply, but only want friendship out of the relationship. It is possible to enjoy someone's company without wanting to share their bed.

My one teeny tiny issue with this series was how often Ashyn compared herself to her sister. They were two different people, and I wish she hadn't struggled so much with her identity. Even at the end she saw her sister one way and "resigned" herself to another fate. She said both were important in their own way, but she still made it seem like one was somehow better... I wish she had felt happier in her own skin and with her own abilities and contributions. She did a lot to save the empire and move the story forward.

Despite a few unanswered questions, I absolutely loved this series! It's definitely going to be one I add to my shelves. If you enjoy audiobooks, the narrator was fantastic! She really brought the characters to life in my head and gave them their own personalities and mannerisms. I feel like that sounds weird, because it's just someone reading words, but she really captured the essence of the book and the people within it.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mini Reviews [10]

Empire of Night (Age of Legends, #2)
by Kelley Armstrong
Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Synopsis (via Goodreads): SISTERS MORIA AND ASHYN ARE THE KEEPER AND SEEKER OF EDGEWOOD.

OR AT LEAST, THEY WERE.


Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, they are all but prisoners in court, forced to watch and wait while the Emperor decides whether to help the children of Edgewood, who remain hostages of the treacherous Alvar Kitsune.

But when the emperor finally sends the girls on a mission to rescue the children - accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of men - the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. With lies and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on every bit of influence and power they possess to unite their people and avert an all-out war.

In this second book in her epic and captivating Age of Legends trilogy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong blends romance, danger, and magic to send readers on a heart-racing journey through an unforgettable world.

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I know I reviewed the first book on Monday, but I am zinging through this series! I'm already halfway finished with the third and final book, Forest of Ruin. It's crazy intense and wonderfully fantastical. I am in love with the characters and the world Kelley Armstrong has created. I feel like I'm on the long and arduous journey with them, and I'm increasingly worried about their safety. They no longer know who they can trust, and they keep finding bodies that are broken, shredded, or unrecognizable. Beasts from stories and lore are appearing with more frequency, so I'm pretty confident the dismemberments and disappearances will continue.

Although dark and dangerous, Armstrong has written a story that has completely captivated my mind. She has given the characters a rich history and an authenticity that makes me feel as if I've known them my entire life. I cannot wait to see how everything ends!


A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss,
E.G. Keller (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): HBO's Emmy-winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents a picture book about a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny.

Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence - the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon's life is about to change forever...

With its message of tolerance and advocacy, this charming children's book explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy. Sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, this book is dedicated to every bunny who has ever felt different.


100% of Last Week Tonight's proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.

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I'm not sure if this started off as a joke to irritate the Vice President, but the story is solid and meaningful. Two boy bunnies fall in love after a day of hopping, so they decide to get married and hop together forever! It was sweet and showed that having a support system can make a huge difference. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo also shows what happens when a group of people stand together and demand change.


Amazing Spider-Man: Wakanda Forever #1
by Nnedi Okorafor, 
Alberto Alburquerque (Illustrator), 
Terry Dodson (Illustrator) 
Synopsis (via Goodreads): PART ONE OF A THREE-PART STORY THAT SEES THE DORA MILAJE TEAM UP WITH THE MARVEL U! The blockbuster Black Panther film has everyone talking about Wakanda’s best warriors, the fierce Dora Milaje! Now witness the Dora outside of Wakanda – and in Spider-Man’s world! When the Dora catch wind of a Wakandan threat causing trouble in New York, they’ll leap into action – with or without their king. Don’t miss Okoye, Ayo and Aneka on a globe-trotting mission to protect the realm at any cost. WAKANDA FOREVER starts here!
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There were some literal laugh out loud moments in this one, and I enjoyed seeing Spider-Man's humor paired with the seriousness of the Dora Milaje. They actually complemented each other quite well! 

I'm not sure how the characters in this comic compared to their movie counterparts, because I still have not seen the Black Panther movie. I've tried to watch it with my husband a few times, but something always comes up. I hope we're able to get through the entire movie soon! I've only heard great things about it, and the first 25% was awesome.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My Weekly Pull [29]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, leave a link in the comments. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Magic Order #2 by Mark Millar, Olivier Coipel
Hunt for Wolverine Claws of a Killer #3 (of 4) by Mariko Tamaki, Butch Guice, Greg Land
Infinity Countdown #5 (of 5) by Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder, Nick Bradshaw
Runaways #11 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka
X-Men Red #6 by Tom Taylor, Mahmud A. Asrar, Travis Charest

Jacob's comics for the week! (I might read them eventually...)

Optimus Prime #21 by John Barber, Sara Pitre-Durocher, Kei Zama
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #24 by Ryan Ferrier, Pablo Tunica, Freddie Williams II
Analog #4 by Gerry Duggan, David O'Sullivan
Kick-Ass #6 by Mark Millar, John Romita Jr.
Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #307 by Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones
Spider-Man Deadpool #36 by Robbie Thompson, Chris Bachalo

I'm really curious about what Mark Millar will do with Magic Order. I think it has the potential to be really interesting (despite the naked shapeshifter), and like that it seems to focus on a family and their roles within the group. I have a feeling it's going to be sad based on some of the information given in the last issue, but also fascinating because of the monsters they fight on behalf of the world.

I have no idea how they plan to end Hunt for Wolverine, but there are multiple groups of people looking for him. Not all of those groups are searching to be helpful, and I want to know if their different stories will eventually crossover into one ending.

Are you reading any good comics this week? Let me know!

*This My Weekly Pull was briefly posted yesterday before I realized I didn't need to do it a day early! I was supposed to be participating in a blog tour, but I had my dates mixed up. Everything worked out in the end, because now this one is posted on the correct day, and I was able to post about the release of Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre. If you're interested in the book, there's also a giveaway... just go to the post before this one. If you commented on this before I took it down, my apologies! Your comments are still there, but they're likely not going to show the same date as the post.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Like Never and Always Release Day Blitz + Giveaway

I'm really excited to be participating in the Release Day Blitz for Like Never and Always hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

About the Book:
Title: LIKE NEVER AND ALWAYS
Author: Ann Aguirre
Pub. Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD

On a hot summer night, a screech of brakes and shattering glass changes two lives forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital, confused when they call her Morgan. She assumes it’s a case of mistaken identity, yet when the bandages come off, it’s not her face in the mirror anymore. It’s her best friend Morgan’s.

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life, yet Liv must navigate endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety—and a romance that feels like a betrayal. Torn between the boy she loved as Liv and the boy she’s grown to love as Morgan, Liv still has to survive Morgan’s last request.


Excerpt

“Just let this be the second secret you keep for me,” I say then. “Thanks for not telling Nathan, by the way.”

Clay leans his arm along the door frame, tilting his head slightly out the open window as if he needs the air. “You couldn’t pay me to talk to that jackass lately.”

“You two fighting?”

“No. He’s just . . . Nathan.” He hesitates. “I wasn’t going to tell you this . . .”

“What?” Anything that could divert me from my precarious situation, even momentarily, seems like a welcome distraction.

“He brought a girl home last night.” From his tone he expects this to destroy me.

And sure, there’s a twinge because before, I thought Nathan and I had a soul-deep connection. Fact is, he’s a little immature, a lot selfish, and I just never noticed. They say love is blind, but I’d say that infatuation is blind, and love is tolerant. When you really love someone, it’s not that you can’t see the flaws; you’re just willing to forgive them.

Belatedly I realize he’s expecting a reply. “I’m not surprised. Nathan is used to getting what he wants just like you’re using to giving things up. Oh, I was going to ask him to drop this off, but since you’re here . . .” I fish in my backpack for his hoodie.

Yes, I’ve been carrying it for like four days. First I hesitated to wash it, but I didn’t want to be a sad girl who’s still smelling her ex’s clothes a month later. Then I didn’t return it because that felt like final acceptance, —superstitious, I know. Over is over, and random articles of clothing don’t change anything.

“You didn’t need to bother with that. I’ve had it forever.”

“All the more reason for you to have it back,” I say.

“Do you need to be this cool about everything?” he bursts out. “I know you have to be scared and hurt—”

“Yeah, I am, all those things. And yes, I have to be this way, or I can’t function. Why are you even here anyway?” The pain and frustration cracks my voice, and I really wish I was anywhere else.

“Because I’m worried about you.”

“Then stop. I accepted your decision, now respect mine. It’ll be easier if I don’t have to see you.”

His jaw clenches, showing the force he’s exerting to bite back whatever he wants to say.

Finally he just takes his hoodie but he pauses with his hand on the door. “You know you can call me, right? Even if we’re not together, I’d never let anyone hurt you. One call and I’m there.”

My heart feels like it’ll crack in two, but I’m resolute; I have to be. “I already deleted your number.”


About Ann: 


Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will win a Kindle Oasis, US Only.
5 winners will win a finished copy of LIKE NEVER AND ALWAYS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends, #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

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Sea of Shadows worked really well as an audiobook. I'm starting to think that fantasy books with elaborate new worlds will always be a better fit when I'm listening to them. Understandably, there is a lot of world-building and thorough explanations of the things we're unfamiliar with, and I think listening ultimately gives me a better experience. I know for some people these books can feel long and wordy, but I actually prefer it. I had similar feelings about Mercedes Lackey's Hunter series. The worlds are completely new and there's so much to learn...  I love it!

I'm also a fan of books about twins. I don't know if it's because I have twins myself, or if I just find their relationships interesting. Moria and Ashyn are two very different people that look exactly the same. I loved their friendship and the bonds they shared with each other and their beasts. Daigo (a wildcat) and Tova (a Hound of the Immortals) were two of my favorite characters, and they never spoke. However, they could communicate with their eyes, sounds, and movements, and I thought they were valuable companions and assets to the story. 

I enjoy Kelley Armstrong's writing, and have read a few of her other books, but this one was the most violent by far. There are a lot of detailed descriptions of fighting and dismemberment, and not all of them were expected. I was taken by surprise quite a few times when someone was attacked for seemingly no reason, or an unexpected monster made an appearance. Armstrong kept me on my toes, but even those violent interactions were tempered by lengthy descriptions. It drew out the battles, fights, escapes, and everything else. I was okay with all of this, but it does cause the pacing to be a little slow at times.

The story really picks up at the end, and I've already started listening to the second book, Empire of Night. I love that there is already a different setting, and that no one really seems to stay in one place for too long. There's also a constant rotation of characters, and I enjoy how well Armstrong writes all of them. There is always someone new to figure out. What are their motives? Whose side will the be on? I think this has the potential to be one of my favorite fantasy series!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Let's Play 15 Questions!


I've seen a few other people doing this one, and I just couldn't resist! I think Tanya from Girl Plus Books was the most recent one I've seen. *This took a lot longer to finish than I originally thought it would! 😅

1. BEST BOOK YOU'VE READ SO FAR IN 2018


There's no way I can choose just one book! It's really not a fair question, so I will randomly select one of my favorite reads from this year... The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. It was perfection in every way.

Other books I've really enjoyed: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, Autoboyography by Christina Lauren, Maybe Someone Like You by Stacy Wise, Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter, White Hot and Wildfire by Ilona Andrews (to name a few).

2. BEST SEQUEL YOU'VE READ SO FAR IN 2018


The Lunar Chronicles has been one of the best series I've ever read! I knew I liked Marissa Meyer after reading Heartless, but this series is something else. While I really enjoyed Scarlet, I think Cress is my favorite book so far! I only have Winter and Fairest (which is supposed to be about Queen Levana) left to read.

3. A NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN'T READ YET BUT WANT TO


The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. I won a copy of this book earlier this year, but I haven't gotten to it yet. It's terrible, because this is a book that I really want to read. I've only heard wonderful things about it.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Expected publication: July 17, 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.


She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.
Mommy sounded like a robot who was about to overheat. It almost made Hannah laugh, imagining her frozen in place as wisps of smoke trailed from her ears. She'd start to melt from the inside and collapse onto her knees, eyes wide and dazed, as brain matter dripped from her nose.
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

I think this might be one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. It doesn't help that as a mother I kept trying to put myself in Suzette's shoes--shoes no parent should ever have to be in. I don't know how she maintained her sanity for so long. It was clear from the beginning that she was alone in a battle against a very vengeful seven-year-old.

Suzette's husband and Hanna's father, Alex, was both loving and supportive. He tried to treat the women in his life equally, but he was unaware of what went on while he was at work. Hanna made sure she was nothing but sweet and amenable while he was around, but that was only to discredit anything her mother might say. Alex should have trusted his wife more, and maybe things wouldn't have gotten so out of hand. I know it's hard to believe the worst about your child, but when her mother and various teachers all say Hanna behaves a certain way, it shouldn't be too hard to find the problem. However, Alex is endlessly in favor of his child. A child that has chosen not to speak for seven years just to (partially) torment people.

I had a lot of issues with Hanna's character. I understand most of them are intentional, but there were other small things that stood out. For example, Hanna is seven, but she thinks like a much older child. I tried to imagine my own child (he's four) saying those things, but it's not something I could even picture in my head. There was something wrong with Hanna on a fundamental level, and she needed help that her parents couldn't provide. Meanwhile, the relationship between mother and daughter became strained and even dangerous.

Honestly, I have no idea what I would do in Suzette's situation. On the one hand, I would want to be the best mother to my child. I would always look for redeeming qualities, or ways that maybe I could change to be a better influence. It would take me awhile to ask for help and admit that there was something wrong, but I don't think I would ever let it get dangerous. I also know my husband wouldn't brush off my concerns and accuse me overreacting. He trusts me enough to know that I wouldn't joke about something as series as our child's mental stability.

In the end, all of this could have been resolved a lot faster if Suzette had been able to prove that Hanna was one way with her, and another with her father. So my questions is... why didn't she just put a camera in her house that Hanna was unaware of? Then she'd have proof that Hanna was behaving like a psychopath, and it wouldn't be her word against her daughter's. Suzette may have been out of her element regarding her child's issues, but she was still the adult, and I feel like there were a lot of ways she could have kept things from escalating the way they did.