Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Memes: Year One by Nora Roberts

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
Dumfries, Scotland

When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he'd killed himself. And billions of others.
Friday 56:
Resolved, Laura stepped back. "I'll pack, for both of us. We won't need much."

"Warm clothes," he told her. "And wear something you can move in, run in, if necessary. We'll pack up food -- but keep that light for now, too. Flashlights, extra batteries, water, a couple of blankets. We can get more supplies once we're on the road."
This week I am reading Year One by Nora Roberts. Here is the description from Amazon:
It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed―and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magick rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river―or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

ARC Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Publication: Dutton; Reprint edition (January 23, 2018)

Description: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancĂ©, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

My Thoughts: This twisty thriller had me glued to the pages as I tried to find out what happened at Pine Cottage when Quincy and her friends went for a party weekend and only Quincy survived to come home. Quincy doesn't remember. The whole horror of the trip is lost in a dark hole in her memory.

Quincy has tried to rebuild her life. She is a cooking blogger, has a lawyer boyfriend, and a cool apartment in New York City paid for the by the settlements she got from a number of lawsuits regarding the crime. But Quincy is also lonely and living an wine and Xanax. The only one she can trust is Coop - the police officer she ran into when she was running from the horror at the cottage.

Quincy is only the most recent of what the press call the Final Girls. Lisa survived a massacre at her sorority house and Sam survived horror at the motel where she worked the night shift. They are joined together by their situations but the women have never met.

When Lisa dies, apparently a suicide, Quincy is forced to think back to the time she is trying to put behind her. When it is learned that Lisa was murdered, things get even more tense. Then Sam shows up at Quincy's door in New York. Quincy feels sorry for her and feels that she might be the only one who can really understand what Quincy went through.

But Sam is hiding things, keeping secrets. She really wants Quincy to remember what happened at Pine Cottage and to show the rage she must be feeling. Sam goads her into doing things that she would normally not even think of.

Twists and turns abound in this fast-paced thriller. Characters aren't who they seem. The memories that finally resurface add even more confusion as Quincy tries to figure out what really happened on the night that changed her whole life.

This was a totally gripping story that made me suspect that all the characters were lying. I really enjoyed trying to dig out the truth about Quincy and the other Final Girls.

Favorite Quote:
Final Girls is film-geek speak for the last woman standing at the end of a horror movie. At least, that's what I've been told. Even before Pine Cottage, I never liked to watch scary movies because of the fake blood, the rubber knives, the characters who made decisions so stupid I guiltily thought they deserved to die.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ARC Review: Cast in Deception by Michelle Sagara

Cast in Deception
Author: Michelle Sagara
Series: The Chronicles of Elantra
Publication: MIRA (January 23, 2018)

Description: WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?

Private Kaylin Neya thought her home couldn’t possibly get more crowded. But when one of her housemates, Annarion, decides to undertake the Barrani Test of Name, his friends refuse to let him face his task alone—and Kaylin’s sentient home, Helen, is the only structure capable of shielding the rest of Elantra from the magnitude of their power.

Annarion and Mandoran almost caused the destruction of the High Halls once already. Add nine of their closest friends, and the danger is astronomically higher—especially since these guests are at the heart of a political firestorm. Imprisoned almost a millennium ago, their recent freedom threatens the rulership of several prominent Barrani families, and the machinations of those Lords make it almost impossible to tell friend from foe.

As political tensions ramp up, the shadows beneath the High Halls are seeking a freedom that has never been possible before. Kaylin must find a way to keep those shadows from escaping, or that freedom will destroy her city, the empire and everything she holds dear.

My Thoughts: This episode of the Chronicles on Elantra focuses on the Barrani. It especially focuses on the cohort of young people who were sent, millennia ago, to take part in a ceremony that would give them great power or kill them. They didn't die but they didn't return either. Kaylin's friend Teela was the only one who made it home at the time of the ceremony. Two others made it back to Elantra more recently and have taken refuge in Kaylin's home because their time away changed them greatly.

Now, one of the two is determined to take the Barrani Test of Names and the rest of his cohort are determined to come to Elantra to take it with him. If this happens, it will greatly disrupt the political landscape of the Barrani since at least three of them are the rightful heirs to their family holding. Getting them home isn't going to be an easy task nor are they the people who left.

Kaylin is the last person that anyone would choose for a political task but she is dropped in the middle because she has invited them to be her house guests too. Since she already shares her home with a dragon - Lord Bellusdeo - and dragons and Barrani were ancient enemies, the political consequences are real.

While the complications of this plot would be enough to keep Kaylin busy, it is not the only concern. It is learned that someone in the High Court of the Barrani is dealing with Shadow which is the ancient enemy of all the races of Elantra.

This story takes place in a complex world. There are a variety of different races of beings with the humans like Kaylin being one of the least. The Empire is controlled by dragons with the Emperor considering the whole Empire as his hoard. Bellusdeo is an orphan dragon out of time who is of great interest to the Emperor because she happens to be the only female dragon. The Barrani are immortal and live in a caste system defined by politics. There are Leontines and other races too. The elements - earth, air, fire and water - have a sort of sentience and are kept in control by the Keeper. The world contains ancient sentient buildings like Kaylin's house Helen.  Kaylin herself is the Chosen who has a number of marks all over her body that are words of power. She also has an acute sensitivity to magic.

Around the complex political plot are woven discussions of friendship and family, loneliness and loss, love and treachery. Each of the races has their own definitions of these and Kaylin, whose own basis for decision making is the law, struggles to understand the beings she considers her friends.

This was an excellent story that demands a sequel. I can hardly wait to read it.

Favorite Quote:
"Love is a weakness. But...it is a weakness, in the end, that I value. Life without it is safer, yese. For us, it is safer." Silence again, weighted, heavy. This time Terrano didn't try to break it. "But I am not certain that survival without love or affection means that much to me, anymore."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
There are a thousand shades of brown.

My scooter skimmed about the surface so fast the ground blurred, kicking up a wake of dust that hazed from the color of dried blood to beige, depending on the angle of the light. Ahead, rust-colored hills made chocolate-colored shadows. The plains before the hills were tan, but in a few hours they'd be vivid, blush-colored, beautiful. Right now, the sun was low, a spike of light rising from the rocky horizon in the early morning. The sky above was pale cinnamon.
 
Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
He seemed to expect me to respond to all that. Maybe I should have told him I wanted to be left alone after all. "I didn't think much about Earth at all until a couple of weeks ago. I have no idea what it's like."

"But aren't you excited?"

Was everyone at Galileo Academy going to be like this? "Going to Earth wasn't my idea."
This week I am reading Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn from my TBR pile. Here is the description from Amazon:
Well-known for her bestselling series Kitty Norville, Carrie Vaughn moves to science fiction with Martians Abroad, a novel with great crossover appeal. Polly Newton has one single-minded dream, to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, the Director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly's plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth.

Homesick and cut off from her plans for her future, Polly cannot seem to fit into life on Earth. Strange, unexplained, dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up. Charles may be right―there's more going on than would appear, and the stakes are high. With the help of Charles, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.

    Monday, January 15, 2018

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 15, 2018)

    It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

    It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

    I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

    Other Than Reading...

    This was an interesting weather week. It warmed up midweek and rained. Then it snowed but only 3 inches which fell on top of a sheet of ice. Now, on Saturday morning, we are back in the deep freeze. My brother informed me that it was -17 degrees Fahrenheit when he got up and -16 when he went to work at 9 AM. I don't feel any need to leave the house to experience it myself. The forecast is for a high of 1 degree but with the wind it will feel substantially colder. Tomorrow they are predicting 8 degrees and snow showers. Our next warm up, when they are predicting 15 degrees, won't be until Wednesday.

    I should be gathering information for my taxes but am still waiting for my W2 from the school district and statements from my investments. I'm also not eager to sort through years of paper looking for home improvements that were made on the Locust Street house so that I can lower the taxes on the money I received from the sale. I know the papers exist because my brother never throws anything away but he isn't particularly organized and most papers are still in boxes we moved from Locust Street and never unpacked. I know I have until April but I want to get my taxes done so they aren't hanging over my head like an anvil.

    Meanwhile, I am spending a lot of time reading and have made a pretty large dent in the pile of books that are releasing in February. This week looks like it will be YA heavy since last week I concentrated on adult books.

    Read Last Week
    • No One Can Know by Lucy Kerr - 2nd Stillwater General Mystery. My review will be posted on Feb. 12.
    • Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre - YA Epic Science Fiction and my favorite book of the week. My review will be posted on Feb. 11.
    • Something to Howl About by Christine Warren - prequel novella to her new Alphaville urban fantasy series. My review has been posted on Amazon, GoodReads, and LibraryThing.
    Currently
    Murder in Bloomsbury by D. M. Quincy is the second in the Atlas Catesby historical mystery series.

    Next Week
    • A Call to Arms by David Weber, Timothy Zahn and Tom Pope has been on TBR mountain since Oct. 6, 2015. I pulled it off and put it on the calendar because I just got the 3rd book in the series for review. 
    • Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt has been on TBR mountain since Sept. 26, 2017.
    • Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare (Feb. 20) - YA review book from Macmillan
    • Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda (Feb. 20) - YA review book from Macmillan
    • Fire and Bone by Rachel A. Marks (Feb. 20) - YA review book from NetGalley
    • The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg (Feb. 20) - YA review book from Edelweiss
    Reviews Posted

    On Inside of a Dog:
    On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
    Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

    Free:

    Bought:

    Review:
    What was your week like?

    Saturday, January 13, 2018

    ARC Review: A Merciful Secret by Kendra Elliot

    A Merciful Secret
    Author: Kendra Elliot
    Series: Mercy Kilpatrick (Book 3)
    Publication: Montlake Romance (January 16, 2018)

    Description: A pair of ritual murders could expose Mercy Kilpatrick to something terrifying: her own past…

    Raised off the grid by survivalists, Mercy Kilpatrick believed in no greater safeguard than the backwoods of Oregon. Unforgiven by her father for abandoning the fold for the FBI, Mercy still holds to her past convictions. They’re in her blood. They’re her secrets—as guarded as her private survival retreat hidden away in the foothills.

    In a cabin near her hideaway, Mercy encounters a young girl whose grandmother is dying from multiple knife wounds. Hundreds of miles away, a body is discovered slashed to death in a similar way. The victims—a city judge and an old woman living in the woods—couldn’t be more different. With the help of police chief Truman Daly, Mercy must find the killer before the body count rises. Mercy knows that the past has an edge on her. So does her family. How can she keep her secrets now…when they’re the only things that can save her?

    My Thoughts: Mercy Kilpatrick is on her way back from checking on her wilderness cabin when she almost runs down a girl. Morrigan is desperately searching for someone to help her grandmother. When Mercy gets to their isolated home, she find the grandmother dying after a brutal knife attack. Being out of cellphone range she takes Morrigan and drives to somewhere she can get reception before going back and waiting for the police. Morrigan's mother Salome is away from home and can't be contacted.

    Meanwhile, boyfriend and Chief of Police Truman Daly is getting worried about Mercy because she wasn't planning to be gone all night. He goes off to try to track her down and discovers her at the crime scene where she's being interviewed by the police.

    When Mercy learns that Oliva Sabin's death is very similar to the death of Judge Malcolm Lake which happened nearly the same time in Portland, the FBI takes over jurisdiction for the investigation of both deaths. Mercy can't be directly involved but her good friend Ava is put in charge. Both she and Truman are interested in the investigation but neither are legally involved. That doesn't stop either of them from doing what they can to investigate.

    Since Olivia and her daughter Salome are both considered to be witches by many in the community of Eagle's Nest, it is thought that there might be some connection there. But that doesn't explain the judge. Although the judge did live in Bend for a while years ago and a connection is found between him and Olivia which could explain why she has been hiding in the woods for many years.

    This story was a fast-paced mystery with flashbacks to a time when Salome was a teenager and knew both Truman and Judge Lake's son Christian. It also has some sections from Salome's point of view. I am especially fond of Mercy who has a unique background. She was raised by preppers and, although she has left the group, she is still doing her own prepping in case the world as we know it falls apart. Her supplies and her isolated cabin give her a feeling of security. She is also finding a new sense of security with her niece and with Truman that is causing her to open herself up more than she has in years.

    This was a great story with plenty of action and excitement as well as being the story of two people who are committing themselves to each other.

    Favorite Quote:
    The instant love she'd felt for Kaylie had emboldened her to take that plunge with Truman. Her heart had easily expanded to make room for her niece and then expanded again as she repaired fences with her formerly estranged family. Being deliberately cut off from her family had left her with an empty heart for years, but since she'd returned to Eagle's Nest, she suddenly had a small crowd to care for.

    It hadn't weakened her foundation. She was stronger.
    I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

    Friday, January 12, 2018

    Friday Memes: A Merciful Secret by Kendra Elliot

    Happy Friday everybody!
    Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

    Beginning:
    Mercy thought it was a deer.

    But it was a girl who burst out of the brush along the dark road and into the headlight beams of her SUV. She stomped on the brakes and jerked the steering wheel to the right. Spinning sideways, her vehicle shuddered as her tires bounced along the snow-packed ruts of the road's shoulder. It rocked to a stop and she clung to the wheel, gulping for breath.
    Friday 56:
    "Let's sit down," Christian suggested and pulled out a bar stool at the island for Mercy.

    She sat and pulled out a small notebook. Gabriel slowly took a seat, giving her his attention.

    My, won't this be fun.
    This week I am reading A Merciful Secret by Kendra Elliot. I got this eARC from NetGalley. It is the third in the Mercy Kilpatrick series. Here is the description from Amazon:
    A pair of ritual murders could expose Mercy Kilpatrick to something terrifying: her own past…

    Raised off the grid by survivalists, Mercy Kilpatrick believed in no greater safeguard than the backwoods of Oregon. Unforgiven by her father for abandoning the fold for the FBI, Mercy still holds to her past convictions. They’re in her blood. They’re her secrets—as guarded as her private survival retreat hidden away in the foothills.

    In a cabin near her hideaway, Mercy encounters a young girl whose grandmother is dying from multiple knife wounds. Hundreds of miles away, a body is discovered slashed to death in a similar way. The victims—a city judge and an old woman living in the woods—couldn’t be more different. With the help of police chief Truman Daly, Mercy must find the killer before the body count rises. Mercy knows that the past has an edge on her. So does her family. How can she keep her secrets now…when they’re the only things that can save her?