Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)Title:Ancillary Justice
Author: Ann Leckie
Publisher/Publication Date: Orbit, October 1, 2013
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy
Source/Format: Purchased, Paperback

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance...

My Thoughts:

Lately I've been open to more types of books. However, I still hesitate a little when I’m trying to decide if I do or don’t want to purchase books by author’s I’m unfamiliar with. Despite my initial hesitation, I decided to give Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie a try because the concept seemed interesting—and I was curious to know what exactly happened to the Justice of Toren—that hint in the synopsis basically got my attention. So I've done it, I've read Ancillary Justice, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.

I have no regrets about purchasing it.

Ancillary Justice follows Breq in her quest to seek revenge.
As a character Breq was spectacular, and I could understand the motivation behind her actions. During the very first pages I knew something significant had happened prior to the beginning of the story. And Breq seemed to be surrounded by a history that influenced her current actions. Parts of the book were dedicated to the incident some years prior, which was told through alternating chapters. I liked Leckie’s overall decision to show the history rather than having the characters explain it. I enjoyed getting to see what exactly happened from the perspective of the characters that were witnesses to the entire thing, and were directly affected by it.

Another aspect that drew me to Ancillary Justice was the concept, which was well thought-out and executed nicely. The world in Ancillary Justice could almost be real. I enjoyed the political aspect that played a heavy influence on the story, and the detail put into developing the Radch Empire. The entire system involving the ships like the Justice of Toren with its numerous ancillaries was another part that I liked about this book, and the ending left me wanting to know the next chapter in Breq’s life. Needless to say, I got those answers to my initial questions, and it was something I partially suspected, but the actual details of the event surprised me. Ancillary Justice wasn’t the typical science fiction novel, overall I loved this book—and I look forward to reading more novels by Ann Leckie.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1)Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books, February 24, 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Source/Format: Won, UK Paperback Edition

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now. Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'. But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped...

My Thoughts:

Going into this book I was already familiar with V.E. Schwab’s work. I’ve read Vicious and two of her young adult novels. So it should come as no surprise that I absolutely loved A Darker Shade of Magic. It was a fantasy novel that I enjoyed.

From the very first pages the overall concept is presented well. I loved the multiple depictions of London across varying worlds that had minor similarities yet were vastly different from one another. Each world was given a respective color, and I have to say that they fit with the descriptions of each place. The setting was vivid and I could imagine what the places looked like, and it tied in nicely with the world building, which was done beautifully. The parallel worlds seemed to be places of their own, but it all worked together and served as an interesting backdrop to the plot.

The story follows Kell, a traveler from Red London, as he gets mixed up with magic he shouldn’t have. I liked Kell’s character, and I could understand his conflicting emotions concerning his situation. Some of his actions weren’t smart, in fact they were downright reckless, but it was all part of the story and I liked seeing how things played out. Kell’s path crosses with Delilah Bard and I have to say that I truly enjoyed Delilah’s character. Her interactions with Kell were priceless and I liked how the two managed to work together despite…differences.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the magic. I liked how it was thoroughly explained, the system set up in a way that it seemed to be a part of the world, rather than conflicting with it. The way it was written made it seem natural. The plot was equally nice and overall I just enjoyed the story. I believe that this is the first in a trilogy, so I look forward to seeing what happens next with Delilah, Kell, and the various London settings in A Darker Shade of Magic.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway: When It's Right (Montana Men, #2) by Jennifer Ryan

Title: When It's Right (Montana Men, #2)
Author: Jennifer Ryan
Publisher/Publication Date: Avon Books; March 31, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format/Source: E-ARC/E-Book, Publisher/Edelweiss & Purchased

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When It’s Right (Montana Men #2) synopsis

Gillian ‘s turbulent life has never been easy, but nothing prepared her for the moment of violence that sends her and her little brother running from San Francisco to her grandfather’s ranch in Montana. A man she’s never met. She learned long ago not to trust anyone, but she’ll do anything to keep her brother safe and give him the happy childhood she never had. When she meets Blake Bowden, a strong, silent, gorgeous cowboy who teaches her about the ranch and rescued horses-animals who have been through hell and back, just as she has-Gillian begins to feel at ease for the first time in memory. In fact, she even starts to feel happy. But in her world happiness has always been fleeting, and she’s not sure she can believe in it or the man who has quickly found his way into her heart. 

Blake has everything he’s ever wanted: a partnership on a ranch that allows him to spend his day in the saddle training racehorses. His life is good, steady, uncomplicated…until the most beautiful, haunted looking woman arrives at Three Peaks Ranch. If he wants to keep his ideal life, his partner’s granddaughter is entirely off limits, but Gillian awakens a protective instinct in Blake that he can’t ignore…and ignites a passion he shouldn’t feel. But as Gillian heals and finds her way back into the world, Blake knows that he’s found the one thing that he never knew he was missing. And when danger comes close, he will do anything he must to keep Gillian safe…even if it means risking his life’s dream.

WHEN IT’S RIGHT, Ch1 Excerpt 

Chapter One

San Francisco, California

“Help me!”

Home late from her shift washing dishes at the Jade Palace, Gillian pounded up the two flights of stairs as fast as her legs allowed. She hit the landing and turned right, racing down the hallway past her apartment’s open door to Mrs. Wicks's unit at the end of the hall. She’d heard the screams from outside. Not the first time she’d answered that call, but so help her God, if her father touched one hair on Justin’s head, she’d kill him.

“I’m calling the police,” the babysitter, Mrs. Wicks, threatened loud enough for her voice to carry down the hall.

“Damnit, woman, he’s my blood,” her father bellowed.

Gillian rushed into the apartment, spotted Justin holding his arm, tears shimmering in his eyes, but otherwise appearing unharmed. She looked her father up and down assessing the situation in a glance and the odds on talking him down from whatever ludicrous idea had taken root in his shadowed mind. Dressed in the same clothes he’d left in four days ago, his hair an oily mass hanging lank to his shoulders, he reeked of whiskey, cigarette and pot smoke, and acrid body odor. The wild look in his bloodshot eyes told her he hadn’t slept in a good long while. Riding a meth high, he’d probably binged for days. Soon, he’d lose all sense of reality and need more of the drug that wouldn’t give him the high he needed, since he’d overloaded his system. He’d crash, his body shutting down and putting him into a deep sleep for a day, or two, or three before he woke up miserable, needing more of what put him in this psychotic state in the first place.

Frustrated and angry, but resigned to this same worn-out routine, she shored up her resolve to get through this night, like she’d done too many times in the past, trapped raising a child with little money and even fewer choices. None of them good.

Her father paced, his movements jerky. He scratched at his arm, his legs, the back of his neck with his grime filled nails. He slapped at his thigh, then bit at the tips of his fingers. A hint to how far he’d fallen down the rabbit hole. Not good.

“Dad, come on. Let’s go home. I’ll make you something to eat,” she coaxed, keeping her voice calm.

A powder keg of roiling rage, you never knew what would set him off.

Justin cowered in the corner of the couch, his eyes wide and watchful. He didn’t move, afraid of drawing her father’s attention. Even at six, he knew the rules of this twisted game.

Mrs. Wicks moved into the kitchen, leaving Jessie to handle getting her father out of there and back to their place. She’d done it before. Usually, he’d come looking for her. She’d been held up at work, and he’d found little Justin alone. She never left Justin with him if she could help it, especially over the last year when her father spent more time strung-out and paranoid on meth than comfortably numb with booze and pot, like he’d been every day of her life.

The last two weeks had been hell. Her patience had worn thin days ago. If she could hold on, get him out of Mrs. Wicks’s apartment and into theirs, she could take Justin and crash somewhere else for a few days until her father came down and leveled off.

Then, joy, they could start this whole thing over again.

I wish Justin and I were anywhere else.

Inside, the pressure built. How good it would feel to open her mouth and unleash a string of curses, insults, and blame for what her father put her and Justin through day in and day out. She hated him for spending his life drowning in a bottle and doing drugs, his life going up in smoke. Her life went up with it. Justin’s too. She wanted it to end. One way or another, just end.

Her father swatted at some imaginary bird, or butterfly, or dragon for all she knew. Only he saw the tormenting hallucinations. If he was this far gone, he was even more volatile and dangerous than usual.

“Dad, come on. I’ll make you a burger and get you a beer.”

“We have to go.” His words came out rushed. He swatted at the air again, this time spinning around to the right before he stopped and turned the other way again, tracking his imaginary flying devils, waving his arms over his head to swat them away.

She shook her head, frustrated and tired of dealing with him. This. Everything. She wanted to run away, but where would she go? It was all she could do now to keep a roof over Justin’s head and food in his belly with the diminishing help her father supplied. Out on the streets, or in a shelter, they’d be vulnerable to even more horrors. What kind of life would that be for Justin? Better than this one? Maybe. Maybe not. Still, she needed to find a way to give Justin better than she’d had growing up with a volatile drunk, who could barely keep a bartending job and supplemented his income selling drugs to support his own habits.

“We have to go. We have to go. We have to go,” her father chanted, getting agitated, hitting the side of his head with one hand and scratching at the imaginary bugs crawling under his skin on his leg with the other.

Fed up, she stepped toward him to grab his arm and lead him back to their place. He jumped out of her reach and laughed. The sound held no humor, but a touch of hysteria in the odd shriek. Her father pointed at her, shaking his head side to side. “No. No. No. No. No.” Again, his ominous giggle sent a chill up her spine.

Her father grabbed Justin’s arm and yanked him off the couch. She stood her ground in front of him. No way he left here with Justin.

“Let him go. He needs to finish his homework.” She made up the excuse, hoping he’d release Justin, and she could get him out of there.

“He’s mine. He’ll keep them away. He’s got the light that turns them away.”

Paranoid, delusional asshole.

She sighed, knowing just where this was going and not liking it one bit. Soon, her father would spiral into a psychotic delusion no one could talk him out of.

Please, just pass out already.

Not that lucky, she tensed and waited to see what came next. Her father pulled Justin in front of him, held him by both arms and turned him this way and that, a shield against an enemy only he could see.

“Ow!” Justin cried out when her father’s fingers dug into his thin arms.

“Keep them back.” Her father tugged on Justin again. Hurt and scared, Justin planted his feet and pulled away, trying to get free. Her father held tighter, spun him around to face him, and when her father hurt Justin and he fell to the floor, tears spilling from his eyes, Jessie's couldn't take the ache in her heart and her anger exploded.

“Keep them back.” Her father shook Justin again.

Jessie lost it. “I warned you, if you ever touched him...” She lunged for her father, striking him in the arm, breaking his hold on Justin. She shoved her father two steps back and Justin ran for Mrs. Wicks in the kitchen, who rattled off the building address to the police on the phone. Not the first time someone called the cops on her father, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. No way they got here in time to stop him. Whatever happened next, she’d sure as hell make sure he never got anywhere near Justin again.

Her father came after her in a drug-hazed rage that gave him strength and sent him into a mindless attack. All other thoughts disappeared behind the fury filling his mind. Her father only knew how to hurt. She’d been through this too many times to count and braced for the impact when his fist came at her straight into her eye. Pain exploded in her head. She shoved him in the chest, but he came back with a slap to her jaw that stung something fierce. She kicked him in the shin and shoved him again. He fell back two steps, his hand coming up from behind his back. Momentarily stunned, she didn’t move, but stared down the gun's black barrel in disbelief that he’d actually pulled a weapon on her. She didn’t know where he’d gotten it, only that this added a whole other level to what had seemed like just another rotten night in her life.

Her father held the gun steady, even when he swatted the imaginary devils pestering him. His eyes narrowed on her and in that moment she joined him in the madness she saw swirling in his gaze.

You or me?

One of them wasn't leaving that room alive.

Justin needs me.


She rushed him, grabbed the gun, spun her back into his chest, the gun in both their hands pointed to the window. He tried to wrench it free, punching her in the ribs with his free hand. She jerked on the gun again and again and scratched his hand to get him to release it until he finally let go and the gun thumped onto the floor and skittered across the scarred hardwood. He shoved her from behind. She stumbled forward, scooped the gun off the floor, and turned to face him.

Never turn your back on a psycho.

He leaned forward and charged her like a wounded beast, murder in his eyes and a guttural yell that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

She swung the gun up and fired. Once. Twice.

Mrs. Wicks screamed.

Blood bloomed on his chest. Still he kept coming. His hands fisted in her T-shirt. He lifted her off her feet and shoved her backward into the window. Her back and head hit the glass with a crack a split second before it shattered. Glass tore and bit into her skin, but she didn’t feel the pain past the one thought in her head. It’s done.

Justin screamed, “Gillian, no!”

I'm sorry.

She flew through the window.

Her father’s dark form stood in the opening, highlighted by the lights behind him. He literally dropped to the floor out of her sight.

Be safe, Justin. Be happy.

Her body slammed into the roof of a car with a sickening thud. Everything went black.


Jennifer Ryan is back again with another story that is sure to draw you in with the intense dramatic scenes in the beginning. When It’s Right addresses familial issues associated with substance abuse and Gillian’s struggles as she learned to trust those around her. Ryan presented both characters that were likeable and those that you love to hate. I loved the fact that Gillian was resilient and continued to press on while having Justin’s best interest as her top priority. And as was true with At Wolf Ranch, I liked the fact that the romantic elements were nicely woven into the story.

Rating 3/5 The book was enjoyable and I would consider 
recommending it to others.

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher/Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. I also purchased a copy.


“I’m not going to kiss you.”

Bud would kill him. Yes, think about that. A slow and painful death, not her full, soft lips. Damnit.

“Oh, you are going to kiss me.” She walked right up to him and stood on tiptoe with her body pressed to his. His hands remained at his sides, wrapped around the edge of the desk. She ran her hands up his arms to his shoulders. “Kiss me, Blake. I want you to.”

The devil inside him leaped. He cupped her face in his hands and stared down into her beautiful hazel eyes. Be gentle. Give her that much. “I’ve wanted to do this since the moment I saw you.” His lips touched hers, soft, tender. Just that one light meeting of lips and mingling of breath and she wanted more. More than she’d ever wanted for herself. For the first time in her life, she wanted to love this man and be loved by him. She had a thousand dreams run through her mind, and all of them were filled with Blake.

About the Author

Jennifer Ryan is the New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted Series and The McBrides Series. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances featuring strong men and equally resilient women. Her stories are filled with love, family, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find.

Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often revealed in the state of her home and in how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.    

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