Sunday, October 26, 2014

Crane by Stacey Rourke

Crane (The Legends Saga, #1)
Stacey Rourke
Pub: May 26, 2014

Crane (The Legends Saga, #1)The Horseman is unending,
his presence shan’t lessen.
If you break the curse,
you become the legend.


Washington Irving and Rip Van Winkle had no choice but to cover up the deadly truth behind Ichabod Crane’s disappearance. Centuries later, a Crane returns to Sleepy Hollow awakening macabre secrets once believed to be buried deep.

What if the monster that spawned the legend lived within you?

Now, Ireland Crane, reeling from a break-up and seeking a fresh start, must rely on the newly awakened Rip Van Winkle to discover the key to channeling the darkness swirling within her. Bodies are piling high and Ireland is the only one that can save Sleepy Hollow by embracing her own damning curse.

But is anyone truly safe when the Horseman rides?

Ichabod Crane's descendent has returned to Sleepy Hollow, and the moment she does, residents suddenly become victimized by beheadings. And the residents aren't shy about showing their distrust of Ireland and her familial connection to their small town. But when a mystery dude from the past shows up and her dreams start becoming a little prophetic, Ireland Crane is forced to believe that maybe, just maybe, those murdered were selected on her behalf. 
 
I thought I was really going to like this, as I love the Sleepy Hollow storyline in general, but I guess I felt this particular version was lacking as I read through it. I will say it's got a pretty cool cover, which is what drew it to me to begin with. Crane takes readers back and forth between Ireland's present to the past with what happened on Ichabod's end, and I dare say I actually preferred Ichabod and company to the modern day story. So much I would've liked to have had the first book dedicated to the past and a second following up with Ireland, just so their stories flowed more smoothly. I wasn't a huge fan of how someone from the past awakened in the future as the Horseman became active again, because it was too similar to what's been done with the popular TV show. But I will admit I enjoyed Rip's character immensely. He definitely stole the show from the alternating main characters.

Though it was an interesting story, I felt several things were left unanswered. Like why did a Crane have to return to Sleepy Hollow in order for the character responsible for the Horseman to suddenly make itself known (I'm using it to hide the gender). Did Ireland's presence set off a chain reaction? Did it need a Crane around, or did he or she just want to inflict more pain on that family, for messing with it in the past? I didn't think Ireland being there had anything to do with the magic that caused that spell, so I'm just left to wonder why this particular spirit didn't try the spell whenever it wanted, long before a Crane ever returned, because this second time around, the Horseman didn't seem controlled by this individual. Or was it? It wasn't clear as I read through. Also, I found the romance a bit underwhelming, both between Ichabod and Katrina and Ireland and Noah. Ichabod and Katrina seemed a little silly, but given the historical time, their behavior and attraction was probably pretty close to what happened back then, so I found myself forgiving that they seemed ready to have each other soon after meeting. But that's no excuse for Ireland and Noah, who hardly interacted at all before he confessed his willingness to love her despite the evil lying within her. I don't know...just this day in age, it screams insta-love and was just put there to make the two time periods mirror each other.  And Noah is so nonchalant about suddenly sharing a bed even though the Horseman could rise as she slept, no matter how much she claimed she had a hold on it. I sure the hell wouldn't be able to sleep so easy! Or in the same house! And I'm not even sure of what to make of the fiancĂ© Ireland left behind. Forget me asking why she was ever involved with such a snooty douche to begin with, but what relevance did all that drama have to the storyline, other than giving the Horseman someone to play with? All this so-called romance was just plain frustrating.

If you're into Sleepy Hollow or other suspenseful horror stories, might be good to go with Crane. Lots of people have four and five-starred this, so don't let my ho-hum-ness deter you from checking this out. It certainly had some moments here and there that were pretty entertaining.

This is more like a 2.5 for me.

 
Novel provided by Anchor Group Publishing for honest review.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

UNBREAKABLE and UNMARKED by Kami Garcia (ARCs)

Unbreakable (The Legion #1)
Kami Garcia
Pub.: October 1, 2014

Unbreakable (The Legion, #1) I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Life was normal and easy-going before Kennedy came home to find her mother dead. She thought it was natural causes until she awoke to find her possessed cat sucking the life out of her. And the only reason she survived? Because two brothers were close by keeping an eye on her, and when she screamed, they came running in to help. They claimed to be part of a legion of modern day ghostbusters, a group which the next successors are chosen by the five current members. When all five were killed by the minions of a demon named Andras, the brothers and two others were activated. And so was Kennedy, if she could believe their wild tale. Though not entirely convinced, having a poltergeist blow up your home is pretty good motivation to give their crazy story a chance.

Enter Alara and Priest, the other two members of Legion. Going through their predecessors journals, they learn of a weapon called the shift that could take Andras down, but it's been separated into several pieces and left in the possession of vengeance spirits. Following the clues left at each site, the members one by one kill a vengeance spirit using their specialty skill and earn their fifth of the Andras seal on their forearm. But once Kennedy fulfills her part, its not the seal she earns for killing the ghost and completing the weapon, but something none of them could see coming.

If you're looking for paranormal story that reads a lot like the hit show Supernatural, you'll probably be happy enough with this novel. There is the workings of a love triangle between Kennedy and the twins, but still pretty light on actual romance in this first installment. Unbreakable was a really fast read that'll keep your attention from beginning to end, so check it out if ghostbustin' tops your genre list. 


ARC provided by Little, Bfor honest review.


Unmarked (The Legion #2)
Kami Garcia
Pub: October 1, 2014

Unmarked (The Legion, #2)He is here... and he could be anyone.

Kennedy Waters lives in a world where vengeance spirits kill, ghosts keep secrets, and a demon walks among us–a demon she accidentally set free.

Now Kennedy and the other Legion members–Alara, Priest, Lukas, and Jared–have to hunt him down. As they learn more about the history of the Legion and the Illuminati, Kennedy realizes that the greatest mystery of all does not belong to any secret order, but to her own family. With the clock ticking and the life of someone she loves hanging in the balance, Kennedy has to ask the question she fears most: what is it about her past that has left her Unmarked?

Kennedy Waters would love nothing more than to hide away and pretend she wasn't directly responsible for releasing a horrible demon from his entrapment, but unfortunately, no one will let her - including the other members of Legion and Andras himself, who continually kills girls who resemble Kennedy. The Legion is at least willing to share in the mistake, but Kennedy is stubborn to let go. All they can do moving forward is to figure out why she hasn't gotten her mark, so the Legion seeks out clues to Kennedy's family past. 

Turns out her family lines clash - she's both Legion and Illuminati, and though she wants nothing more than to be Legion with her newfound friends, it's impossible to taint their line with Illuminati blood, so what's an Illuminati girl falling in love with a Legion boy to do? And to make things even more difficult, Andras has taken possession of someone who's become dear to her heart.

Unmarked was another quick read by Kami Garcia, but lacked a little in the action department compared to Unbreakable. It was good to get a better idea of where this series is going, but I didn't feel this installment was written in a way that resolved anything other than learning why Kennedy didn't get her mark, which happened long before the story ended. I don't know...this novel and it's direction was just weird for me. 


ARC provided by Little, Brown for honest review.

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (ARC)

Stitching Snow
R.C. Lewis
Pub.: October 14, 2014 TOMORROW!

Stitching SnowPrincess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.
 

Stitching Snow was a fresh take on the popular fairy tale that had a cool Star Wars kind of vibe to it. Essie (Princess Snow) has been in hiding the past eight years in a remote part of Thanda, a mining planet where only those in need of work ever travel. She's learned to survive by tinkering and stitching her own set of robots which are used to help keep the miners from going too deep into dangerous territory, and for extra money, Snow takes part in fighting matches with the men transitioning through.
 
Essie was good with this life. It was predictable, and in a way, safe. At least until a ship crashed nearby. With no mechanics nearby, it's up to Essie to stitch up Dane's ship to get him back in the sky. But he's not who he seems, which Essie figures out all too late, and she's forced to return to a dangerous world where everyone has a hidden agenda and the royals are only all too happy to pick up where they left off - needing Princess Snow dead.

Unique and engaging, Stitching Snow will keep you glued to the pages as Essie tries desperately to survive this messed up universe of greed and power, all while struggling with these romantic notions suddenly sprouting for the most unlikely suitor. And best part of all, it's a standalone so no pesky waiting period to see how it all unfolds.


ARC provided by Disney-Hyperion for honest review.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey (ARC)

Whisper the Dead (The Lovegrove Legacy #2)
Alyxandra Harvey
Exp. Pub.: October 9, 2014 Tomorrow!!!

Whisper the Dead (The Lovegrove Legacy, #2)Gretchen is struggling with her newfound gift as a Whisperer; the constant buzzing in her ears from detecting spells is more frustrating than fun, especially when she is spending time with one of the Order of Iron Nail's Keepers, the icy but strikingly handsome Tobias Lawless. But while Gretchen tries to hide the truth and resolve her feelings for him, London fades from beautiful and bustling to deathly silent ...Something evil is once again menacing Mayfair, and Gretchen and her cousins must use their powers to prevent a horrible sacrifice.

The Lovegrove cousins are back after bottling the Greymalkin sisters into magical containments. Whisper the Dead focuses more on Gretchen this time as she tries to learn her craft - whispers tell her what type of spells are being cast and if anything can be used to make a particular spell stronger. She tries to focus her power into discovering why the wards in the city are going haywire and why elements once contained in certain areas are expanding their turf. But having constant supervision by the Keepers isn't helping her become more attuned to anything other than her rising agitation for her personal new shadow, Tobias Lawless.
 
Hmm... Where to begin. I liked this story, I did. But something felt off about it. I had no problem putting it aside to read other books, which is rare for me when I actually like the story enough. I love Gretchen and Emma especially, and I have the feeling Penelope will get her turn to shine in the third installment. And I love their beaus. Cormac is perfectly sweet for Emma and Tobias is just the kick in the skirt Gretchen needs, and vice versa. Quite honestly, the relationships are what keep me intrigued enough to continue the story, because there are so many things thrown at me I just find confusing. Especially all the magical charms and spell ingredients. Every time I turn around some obscure object is used to ward off something else. Pretty soon I'm sure an chocolate-coated acorn will be used to scare away a squirrel. How the hell do they keep it all straight, because it lacks consistency. Still, the main plot circling the Lovegrove cousins and the Greymalkin sisters is interesting enough to see where this is going to go.

ARC provided by Bloomsbury Childrens for honest review.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Before He Was Gone (Starstruck #2)
Becky Wicks
Pub.: August 25, 2014

Before He Was Gone (Starstruck, #2)Sometimes, you have to get lost to find yourself...

When her rock star boyfriend breaks things off out of the blue, Alyssa applies to hit reality TV show Deserted and to her shock she gets through. Abandoned on a remote island with a bunch of strangers and none of the luxuries she’s become accustomed to, it’s not long before an undeniable attraction to the mysterious Joshua starts complicating things even further.

Joshua's different to everyone she's ever known - a traveler, a man with no plan, a world away from the celebrity life she's left behind. As a series of challenges test their wits and weaknesses, things start heating up in paradise, but in a game designed to break people down, it soon becomes clear that Joshua is hiding a painful secret - one he won’t risk anyone finding out.

Struggling to know where she belongs, Alyssa will have to choose - a life she once loved that wants her back, or a brand new reality that heartbreakingly may just have its limits.