Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Stealing Snow
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Stealing Snow Book #1
ISBN:   1681190761
ISBN13: 9781681190761
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Review Copy Source: NetGalley
Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything...including Snow's return to the world she once knew.

This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.

I was able to finish STEALING SNOW, but only because I skipped a lot of it by skimming paragraphs to get to the end.

I can't think of anything in STEALING SNOW that would make me recommend it to someone. I was so completely bored and for some reason, instead of putting it down and marking it DNF (did not finish) I forced myself to keep reading in hopes that it would get better. Unfortunately it never did.

Where was the world building? I was thrown into a world that I didn't know anything about and at the end, I still felt like I knew nothing. I had a hard time picturing where the characters were and when I could picture where they were I felt like something else was introduced before I could get comfortable in knowing the last place. There was a LOT of jumping around going on and I was always left feeling like things were unfinished. Snow jumps from group to group and never really finishes anything with any of them.

The love triangle—or should I say square? — was just another part of STEALING SNOW that I couldn't stand. Snow is in love with Bale, a fellow insane asylum patient, but then he's kidnapped and on her mission to find and save him there is Kai. But wait, it gets better! Here enters the thief. There is a lot of kissing other boys while her 'love' is sitting in a dungeon somewhere or maybe dead. I wasn't feeling any of her feelings at any time in STEALING SNOW. 

I am really surprised I didn't put STEALING SNOW down and was able to make it to the end. I absolutely hate that I was insanely bored with everything about it because I hate writing bad reviews. There was just way too much going on with zero development to fall back on in every part of this book.

I gave it 1/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week in Review: 9/18-9/24



Books Received for Review

Of Flame and Light by Cecy Robson
Venom and Vanilla by Shannon Mayer
The Continent by Keira Drake

Books I've Read

Quanta Reset by Lola Dodge
Beast of All by J.C. McKenzie
Witch's Pyre by Josephine Angelini

Reviews Posted

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

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* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday- Promo + Giveaway for Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer

* Thursday- Promo + Giveaway for I’m Not Afraid of Wolves by Erin Hayes

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* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN:  0062385437
ISBN13: 9780062385437
Genre: Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Edelweiss
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.



Although there were quite a bit of slow points in THREE DARK CROWNS, I enjoyed the overall story line and the characters circumstances were interesting enough to keep me wanting to find out what would become of them.

While I didn't find the characters super interesting on their own, the situations and their stories kept me wanting to read THREE DARK CROWNS. Each sister has different powers/talents/lives, but they all share one thing, their all queens fighting for the crown and they will have to kill two of their sisters to get it. There is a lot of learning about the characters and the different magic they have and the communities they belong to in THREE DARK CROWNS. The problem is, I still don't think we learn enough about the world that they live in and why it's the way it is. Of course each 'group' wants power, but I felt like we never got the whole story and I was left with a lot of questions.

As I stated above, there are a lot of slow points in THREE DARK CROWNS. Maybe now that we know—sorta—the sisters and their different lives, maybe book two will have a faster pace with less down time. I do have an idea of how this series will end, just because it's clear the current way of doing things doesn't seem to be working for this generation of triplets. I will be interested in seeing if my prediction is correct.

I didn't see the twist at the end coming, but it sure does make a few things make more sense and I am actually really interested in reading book two JUST to find out what the fall out from that bomb will be. I think you are either going to love THREE DARK CROWNS or be disappointing with it, I don't think a lot of people will be stuck in the middle like me. If you have the chance to borrow THREE DARK CROWNS from a friend or the library, give it a shot!

I gave it 3/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Promo + Giveaway: I’m Not Afraid of Wolves by Erin Hayes



I’m Not Afraid of Wolves 

Erin Hayes
(The Cotton Candy Quintet #4)
Publication date: September 22nd 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Christine would do anything to get away from it all.
After escaping an abusive marriage and heading up a group of brand new performers, she’s tired and in need of a vacation. So when her sister Sara wants her to go camping out in the mountains of Georgia with the girls, she packs her bags for some rest and relaxation. Not even meeting a gorgeous park ranger like Colton Donnelly is going to distract her.
Except Sara didn’t tell her the real reason for the trip: she’s running away from a terrible secret. One that puts all of their lives in danger.
Now the vacation that Christine so desperately needed is ruined, but that’s the least of her worries. She has to use her wits and skills to save them all. Because she soon finds out that werewolves are very real. And they’ll stop at nothing to get their claws into her sister.
EXCERPT:
When the sliding door locked, I turned my gaze onto Sara and watched her, waiting for her to bring up her story. I wanted her to be the one who talked first, if only because I didn’t want to prod her too much if she was traumatized by whatever this was.
But if she was going to try to weasel her way out of talking to me, she had another thing coming.
“Wow,” she murmured softly. “Look at that full moon.”
I picked up a note of fear in her voice. “Yeah,” I said cautiously. “It’s beautiful.”
“I used to think so.” Sara turned around and looked back at me. Her eyes were wide with fright and the rigidity told me something else was going on with her.
Finally, my patience snapped.
“Sara, what’s wrong?”
“You won’t believe me,” she repeated, using the same phrase she used when we were putting food away.
I crossed my arms. “I think you’ll be surprised.”
Sara’s jaw worked. “I think I’m going to need more wine for this.”
I held up my glass. “Just drink mine.” Don’t think I’m letting you back in the kitchen that easily. She’d run away and hide and hoped I’d forget about it. She wanted to talk about it, but she was too afraid to.
She took my glass and downed the rest of it in one chug. I raised my eyebrows in surprise.
“Okay,” she said, as if warming herself up for our talk. “Okay.”
“It will be all right,” I told her.
“No, it won’t.” Tears started filling her eyes. “Christine, do you believe in werewolves?”
Beautiful young bride walking on the field of flowers


Author Bio:
Sci-fi junkie, video game nerd, and wannabe manga artist Erin Hayes writes a lot of things. Sometimes she writes books.

She works as an advertising copywriter by day, and she's a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author by night. She has lived in New Zealand, Hawaii, Texas, Alabama, and now San Francisco with her husband, cat, and a growing collection of geek paraphernalia.

You can reach her at erinhayesbooks@gmail.com and she’ll be happy to chat. Especially if you want to debate Star Wars.



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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Magic Binds
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Ace
Kate Daniels Book #9
ISBN:   0425270696
ISBN13: 9780425270691
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Publisher
Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…
I have massive love for Kate Daniels and her squad of friends and family. Every single book in this series has drawn me in and spit me out at the end with a massive craving for the next book. MAGIC BINDS was no different.

Kate and Curran are finally heading down the isle, but like anything else in their lives, they have to get through a lot of shit to get there. The emotions...oh the emotions... the 'feels' in MAGIC BINDS are pretty big and you are going to feel it all at every turn. Kate doesn't hold her punches —or her tongue for that matter—in any situation, big or small and as usual, there are a lot of situations to be had.

We find out a lot of information in MAGIC BINDS. Not only do we get to know more about Roland and his past, but we find out some big things about the mystery that is Christopher. On top of that, there is a lot of happenings going on with the Pack as well as the People. And Julie, when did she grow up? She really has changed a lot since she was introduced and I could seriously see her with her own spin-off series at some point down the road and she is going to be totally badass—she kinda already is. Months after reading MAGIC BINDS and I'm still kinda reeling about all that happened in book nine.

I have been WAITING for the ending that MAGIC BINDS offered, but I was still shocked when it actually came and it left me wanting the next book more than ever before. Gordon and Ilona are fantastic storytellers and they will always have a place of honor on my book shelf. Can't wait until book ten!

I gave it 5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Promo + Giveaway: Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer


Pocket Full of Tinder
Noon Onyx #4
Noon Onyx is back! In this long-awaited fourth installment, Jill Archer returns readers to the dangerous world of Halja, where demons, angels, and humans coexist in an uneasy state of d├ętente.

Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons, and survived having her heart broken by both love and an arrow, but now she’ll face her greatest challenge yet…

Far to the north lies an outpost famous for its unrest – Rockthorn Gorge. The town’s patron has specifically requested Noon’s help. Her assignment? Help the neophyte demon lord build his fiefdom and keep what’s his. The problem? Lord Aristos – Noon’s new employer – is her erstwhile lover, Ari Carmine, the aforementioned heart breaker. And the number one thing he wants is her.

When Rockthorn Gorge’s viaduct is destroyed by Displodo, an enigmatic bomber, killing a dozen settlers and wounding scores more, Noon sets off early to aid in the search and rescue. Ari is listed among the missing and the suspects are legion. But Noon’s search is just the beginning. Her journey forces Noon to confront not only those she loves, but also enemies hell-bent on destroying them.
Excerpt:


The claw-and-ball had been chewed clean off. It lay on a patch of sunny parquet floor, just to the right of an antique, aubergine wool rug now covered with the splintered remnants of an eleventh century pedestal table and one very large, ghastly looking, somewhat repentant barghest.
Nova’s head rested on her front paws as her gaze shifted warily from me to Miss Bister, Megiddo’s dormater, or house mother.
“Megiddo’s lobby is not a kennel, Miss Onyx. That”—she motioned dismissively toward Nova—“beast can no longer be housed here.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but Miss Bister continued speaking, her tone rising only infinitesimally, her back as stiff as Luck’s lance must have been, and her expression just as hard. She pointed toward the previously priceless, three-footed piece of furniture that was now a worthless, two-footed pile of kindling.
“No amount of money – or magic – can fix that, Nouiomo. It’s beyond repair. I warned you. I made an exception to my ‘no pets’ rule because you never cause trouble. You never forget your key; you promptly pick up your deliveries; you change your own light bulbs; you double bag your trash. You leave nothing behind in the bathroom; you don’t monopolize the washing machines; you are exceedingly polite to the lift operator; you don’t sing in the shower.”
I suppressed a sigh. After a year and a half of painstaking efforts, harrowing experiences, and endless hours of education, my worth had just been measured by the fact that I could change a light bulb. I’d mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons (one regrettably, the others much less so), freed myriad immortals from an accursed, tortured bondage, and survived having my heart nearly destroyed by both love and an arrow, yet none of that meant bupkis next to the fact that I double bagged my trash. And yet…
I couldn’t really argue with Miss Bister either. Everything she’d said was true. And who was I to tell her what she should deem important? I respected that she valued domestic order and antiques. I did too, if not nearly as much as I valued the thing that now threatened our continued access to such. I glared at Nova, who swept one paw over her eyes as if she could hide from me and the evidence of what she’d done.
Barghests are giant hellhounds. They’re bigger than bears, fiercer than rabid raccoons, and uglier than naked mole rats. Their teeth are the size of railroad spikes, their claws as sharp as a sickle, their breath as foul as sewage gas. But they are also affectionate, brave, and loyal. What barghests lack in magic, they make up for in devotion. And even though I was plenty mad at Nova for chewing up Miss Bister’s table, I also knew it wasn’t Nova’s fault.
It was mine – for thinking the lobby of a demon law school dormitory would be a good place to keep her.
“Miss Bister, please,” I said. “I’m truly sorry. I know I can’t replace that exact table. But if you would just allow me to—”
“No,” Miss Bister said simply. “Either the beast goes… Or you do.”
I stared at the small, frail, magicless woman in front of me, trying desperately to think of some way to fix this problem. Wasn’t there something I could do, or say, or offer her that would make amends and convince her not to kick us out?
But all I could think of was how useless some of the things our society valued most were. As Miss Bister had pointed out, neither magic nor money would help. If I was going to repair the table, I’d need to find another way. Which would take time. And that meant I’d need to find somewhere else for us to sleep tonight. Because if the beast was going… I was too.
“Yes, Miss Bister,” I said. “I understand.”
She narrowed her eyes, slightly suspicious of my now gracious defeat since I’d just spent the last half-hour trying to persuade her to accept various forms of reparation. But then she nodded, handed me a couple of paper bin bags, and left.
I slid one bag inside the other and stooped down to pick up the slobbery remains of Nova’s mangled chew toy. When I finished, she came over to me and nudged my arm with her head. She let out a woofy whine.
Was she sorry? She darn well better be!
I gave her a scratch behind the ears.
“Now that you’ve sharpened your teeth on my former dormater’s furniture, are you ready to eat some real food for breakfast?”

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Jill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, White Heart of Justice, and Pocket Full of Tinder. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.

Find Jill and her books
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