Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Horde by Ann Aguirre

Thursday, October 31, 2013 with 3 comments
Title: Horde
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland, book #3
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Source: ARC from publisher via Christina Reads YA
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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The epic conclusion to the USA Today bestselling trilogy.

The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

Well, that was a satisfying conclusion to a trilogy I've loved from the very beginning.  It came full-circle, wrapped up loose ends, answered questions that have plagued the reader for the duration of the series...yes, very satisfying indeed.

I'm going to keep this short for fear that anything I say will spoil things along the way.  Also, I hate series finales.  I usually put off reading the final book in a series until I just can't stand it anymore because I don't want to say goodbye to the world and the characters I've come to love.  But with the Razorland trilogy, I knew the author wouldn't do me wrong.  I just had a gut feeling...because of the path Deuce, Fade, Stalker, and Tegan have already taken and because of previous interviews the author has done, I knew she loved these characters as much as I did, and she wanted to give them the ending they deserved.

And though I'm not happy about some of the turns their story took, namely I am really happy with the end result.  Especially when it comes to how the conflict with the Muties/Freaks is resolved and the explanation for their existence.  I think I read an interview with the author after Outpost stating that these creatures were never zombies, though I think that's what most readers -- including myself -- had inferred from the beginning, but after reading Foundation, I knew the truth was much worse.  I'm so glad to finally understand this world and those who inhabit it.

I really loved the emphasis placed on human nature and how it affects the world around us, too.  Whether it was Deuce recruiting for her army or the actions of a small child years ago, human nature played a vital role in deciding the future of this civilization, and at times, it looked like a lack of true human compassion could see things ending badly for all involved.

Deuce's journey was a harrowing tale, and a truly emotional one at that.  This series started out about "zombies" and doing whatever was necessary to survive.  But it's become so much more over the course of the books.  It's about a young girl finding her way in a new and strange world, finding love and friendship and family along the way.  It's about the terrors of war and human nature.  And above all it's about fighting for what you believe in, no matter the cost.  I'm not usually a fan of epilogues, but I can appreciate the one at the end of Deuce's story, especially since it turns out that one of her comrades in arms was responsible for relating her tale.

I love this story and everything it symbolizes, and I can't wait to see what else Ann Aguirre has in store for her readers. By the by, she also wrote a short story featured in 'Til the World Ends, also about a post-apocalyptic world but featuring a different set of characters, though no less heroic.  I haven't read the Sirantha Jax books yet, but they are on the shortlist.  I am positive I will enjoy anything this author writes.

Foundation (Razorland, #0.5)Enclave (Razorland, #1)Endurance (Razorland, #1.5)Outpost (Razorland, #2)Horde (Razorland, #3)

About the author:

Ann Aguirre is a 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.

Find Ann:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, even above Christmas.  Maybe I overdid it back before I had a kiddo, 'cause now I have a hard time getting into the spirit.  ;0)  Now, it's a holiday for the kids, which I guess only seems right.

Katie's BIG into Lalaloopsy these days, so she's going trick or treating as Pillow Featherbed:

Don't you see the resemblance?  :)

I'll have my review of Horde -- the final book in Ann Aguirre's RAZORLAND series -- up later today, and then we'll be concentrating on the candy:  getting it, handing it out, counting it, checking to make sure there are no razor blades, etc. You know, the really important stuff.  =)  And then we'll be watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  :D

So, be safe out there guys.  Don't visit the old lady on the corner...I hear she gives out apples and popcorn balls.  ;0) And have fun!  Can't wait to see all the pictures of your (or your kids') costumes on Twitter later! Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Title: Endless Knight
Author: Kresley Cole
Narrator:  Emma Galvin
Series: The Arcana Chronicles, book #2
Length:  10 hrs 55 mins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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In this seductive follow-up to Poison Princess, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole takes us deeper into the dark world of the Arcana Chronicles.

Shocking Secrets

Evie has fully come into her powers as the Tarot Empress, and Jack was there to see it all. She now knows that the teens who've been reincarnated as the Tarot are in the throes of an epic battle. It's kill or be killed, and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

Unexpected Allies

With threats lurking around every corner, Evie is forced to trust her newfound alliance. Together they must fight not only other Arcana, but also Bagmen zombies, post-apocalyptic storms, and cannibals.

Gut-Wrenching Treachery

When Evie meets Death, things get even more complicated. Though falling for Jack, she's drawn to the dangerous Endless Knight as well. Somehow the Empress and Death share a history, one that Evie can't remember—but Death can't forget.

I didn't have very high expectations for Endless Knight after being pretty disappointed with Poison Princess.  So why, then, did I pay good money for the audio of this book?  Good question.  I think I just really needed to prove to myself that this series was not at all for me.  Also, I wanted to see how the author continued with the tarot card aspect.

Alas, what I got was a lot of Evie lamenting about the sad state of her love life.  I did not like Jackson Deveaux's character in the first book, and I liked him even less in this installment.  He now knows the truth of what Evie and his other traveling companions are, and he's understandably freaked out.  He rather quickly comes to terms with Evie as the Empress, though, and starts up with propositioning her again.  And this time, he's successful.  As I alluded to in my review of the previous book, this girl apparently thinks very little of her virginity.  And her indiscretions may cost her...and those she cares about.

Because no one in this story is trustworthy, and because Evie is na├»ve and trusts everyone, Evie ends up being abducted by the enigmatic Death.  She can't deny her physical attraction to him, though she wants nothing more than to escape and return to Jack.  But there's a history between Death and Evie, and when it finally came out, I can't say I was all that surprised.  Besides the tarot aspect, the only other thing that sounded even remotely captivating about this book was the promise of Death as a character.  (I am a sucker for Death personified.)  But even that wasn't enough to hold my attention, though he is an intriguing character, but that's probably just because he's such a freaking mystery.

And although I did like Death's character, I still couldn't get on board with the direction the romance was taking in this book.  Sure, I dislike ole Jack and everything he stands for and I'd like nothing more than to push Evie into Death's arms -- whether to be killed or not is an entirely different conversation -- but regardless, Jack is still in the back of Evie's mind. Despite certain betrayal, she still wants to give ole Jack the benefit of the doubt, give him a chance to explain himself. And she doesn't want to continue whatever this is with Death until she's talked to Jack.  But that thing she let Death do...I think the Cajun would still frown upon that.

I finally think I have a better understanding of this world, the Arcana, and the characters themselves this time around.  I think in the last book, I was trying too hard to make the focus on the post-apocalyptic setting, and though that's important to the story at times, it's not the main focus.  It's actually just the precursor to the game the Arcana are playing now, just as it has been for centuries.  I still find the game itself and the roles of the Arcana fascinating, but I grow tired of the key players and would like to see the focus shift to the rest of the Arcana.

I think the thing I dislike most about this series is Evie herself.  The author has chosen to write the most obnoxious, self-centered, and ill-informed character, and I think her innocence is supposed to overshadow those terrible qualities, but in the end, all it does is make them more pronounced.  I'm not a fan of the narrator for this series, either, but maybe that's because she makes Evie sound even more immature than I'd probably read her character myself.  Emma Galvin does great accents for the Cajun and for Death, but that can't make up for the rest of the book.  I think this series kind of ruined this narrator for me, unfortunately.

The one thing I'll give the author is that she can write a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more.  This should have been a DNF for me, but having paid hard-earned money for it, I couldn't give up.  And then I was presented with a cliffhanger to rival the one at the end of the first book.  And yes, crazy as it sounds, I want to know what happens.  Not enough to buy the next book myself, mind you, but I can't help my curiosity.

About the author:

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immortals After Dark paranormal series and the young adult Arcana Chronicles. Her books have been translated into many foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists in the U.S. and abroad.

Before becoming a writer, Cole was a world-ranked athlete, coach, and graduate student. She has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings. Two of her favorite places to visit include the rain forests of Central America and the Far North Queensland area of Australia (where, by the way, she would not recommend swimming outside of the stinger nets–at night).

Cole lives in Florida with her family and “far too many animals.” She spends any free time traveling and enjoys all things related to boats and water.

Find Kresley:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

Title: Between the Spark and the Burn
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Series: Between, book #2
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: August 14, 2014

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The conclusion to Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea, this gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier is a must-read for fans of Beautiful Creatures and Anna Dressed in Blood.

Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he'd done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet's life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River's other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn't long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . . .

I loved Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea when I read it a few months ago.  Such an atmospheric tale!  I'm actually quite pleased that this series will be wrapped up in two books, though I can't wait to see what else the author has in store for us.  Ack...and Neely!  What's that guy been hiding?!?

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between, #1)Between the Spark and the Burn

Title: Meridian
Author: Josin L. McQuein
Series: Arclight, book #2
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: April 22, 2014

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Marina thought that she had solved all of the Arclight’s mysteries. She had found her own history—that she was one of the Fade, that she never should have been human. She knows that the Fade who surround the Arclight don’t want to be the humans' enemies at all. She knows that the leader of those inside the Arc, Honoria Whit, never told the whole truth. But there is so much more that Marina is just discovering. There are more survivors out there. Only Marina—and her friends, all of whom have connections to the Fade they'd never known about—can lead her people to them. But there are also darker dangers, things that even the Fade fear. And Marina slowly realizes she may never have been “cured,” after all. The sequel to Arclight, Meridian is an intense, action-packed page-turner about the lines we draw between right and wrong, light and dark . . . and the way nothing is ever that black and white.

Arclight was another debut this year that I absolutely loved, and then I devoured McQuein's subsequent thriller, Premeditated.  I've said it before, but this author has definitely earned a spot on my auto-buy author list.  I liked the ending of Arclight but I was definitely hoping for more from this world, so I was ecstatic to hear that a sequel was in the works.

Arclight (Arclight, #1)Meridian (Arclight, #2) and Premeditated

Now that you know what I'm dying to read, what are you waiting on this week?  Feel free to share it in the comments or leave a link so I can stop by!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Reads

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 with 13 comments

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.  Apparently, they are overly fond of list-making and love to share their bookish lists with the rest of us book nerds.  =)  I'm game.

This week's list features the Top Ten Scariest Looking Book Covers or if you haven't done Top Ten Best Books To Read For Halloween when we've done that each year, you can jump on that.

I'm just going to list some of my favorite scary reads...series first, then some stand-alones.  All are assured to leave you wondering but many will keep you up at night.  Mwahahaha!   =)

My five favorite scary series, in no particular order:

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Outpost (Razorland, #2)Horde (Razorland, #3)
the Razorland series by Ann Aguirre
features zombies in a post-apocalyptic setting

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)
the Anna duology by Kendare Blake
features ghosts and the underworld in a contemporary setting

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2)
the Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa
features vampires in a post-apocalyptic setting

Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands, #1)Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands, #2)
the Guards of the Shadowlands series by Sarah Fine
features the underworld and soul-stealing monsters

Ashes (Ashes Trilogy, #1)Shadows (Ashes Trilogy, #2)Monsters (Ashes Trilogy, #3)
the Ashes Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick
features "zombies" in a post-apocalyptic setting

And my top five scary or make-you-freak-out stand-alone reads (or series where only one book is currently is the case with BtDatDBS):

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between, #1)The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThis is Not a TestMonstrous BeautyThe Book of Blood and Shadow
featuring a would-be devil, vampires, zombies, killer mermaids & a dangerous secret society

Some of these actually work for the scary-looking covers, too.  :)  So...what are your favorite scary reads, or which covers scared the bejeezus out of you the first time you saw them?  What constitutes a really good scary book to you?

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