Thursday, March 30, 2017

ARC Review: Gauntlet by Holly Jennings

Gauntlet
Author: Holly Jennings
Series: Arena (Book 2)
Publication: Ace (April 4, 2017)

Description: Plug back into the dangerous world of virtual gaming, in the next thrilling novel from the author of Arena.

Kali Ling has faced down death hundreds of times for the entertainment of millions. She knows fear—and she knows what’s truly terrifying...


There’s a new game in town. A brutal, winner-takes-all, international video game tournament showcasing the world’s most elite players, promising fame, prestige, and unbelievable fortune. But there’s a catch. The game uses new VR pods guaranteed to push digital warriors to their physical and psychological brink—adapting every time a gamer makes a move.

As the first female captain and youngest team owner in VGL history, Kali is used to defying the odds. But as the all-star tournament heats up, her determination begins to waver and the pressures of media, sponsors, and the game itself begin to put cracks in her hard-set convictions—and strain on her relationship with the one person who matters most.

If Kali and her teammates are to survive, they’ll have to find a way to be stronger than ever before. But battling the system may prove too difficult for even the most hardened of fighters...

My Thoughts: In this second book in the Arena series, Kali Ling has become the youngest team owner and taken the rest of her team with her. Now she has to deal with sponsors, images, and managing her friends. There is a new tournament forming with a brand-new technology and only 32 teams are being invited to play.

Kali and her team are chosen to take part. But, even before the first match, Rooke falls off the wagon and has a failing drug test which she has to report which opens Rooke up to public scrutiny. It seems like each day the members of the team become the victim of rumor. The paparrizi are on them much more than the other teams.

After losing their first match, they need to come back through the loser's bracket. The new technology is quite an advancement. It seems to learn each time the team does something which makes the game progressively harder to win. In fact, the technology seems to be deliberately playing on the fears of Kali's team.

I am not a gamer but I really enjoyed getting into the minds of gamers and learning what keeps them playing. I thought the virtual world was fascinating and the stresses placed on these competitive gamers seemed realistic to me.

I liked the way Kali lost track for a while about why she loves gaming as she was buried under the business of running a team. I also liked the way she chose to deal with the problem once she recognized it.

Fans of video games will be a great audience for this fast-paced adventure.

Favorite Quote:
I realized something right then. Virtual or not, life is only as real as you make it.
I got this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WoW: No Easy Target by Iris Johansen

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!

Iris Johansen
April 25

From Amazon: Margaret Douglas has worked hard to put her painful past behind her. Raised off the grid in an abusive home, her only escape was the nearby forest where she sought refuge whenever she could. There, in the peaceful woods, she discovered a strange gift: the ability to understand animals and to communicate with them. And so those creatures became her only friends, her only joy during a desolate childhood. Now Margaret wants nothing more than to live a quiet life, close to the animals and under the radar. But her abilities have not gone unnoticed and there are those who would use them for their own purposes. Determined not to be a pawn in anyone’s game, every time someone gets too close, Margaret uproots her life and outruns them.

When John Lassiter breaks into Margaret’s apartment, she vanishes again, but Lassiter has good reason to be persistent. As a CIA operative, he owes his life to his men , one of whom is being held captive by an unrelenting enemy―an enemy who has set his sights on Margaret. Which means that Lassiter must control her to use her as bait.

With danger in hot pursuit, Margaret finds herself matching wits with a man who refuses to stop or be stopped. Turning from the hunted to the hunter, Margaret must use everything she has ever learned to not only survive, but to defeat a great evil. And to prove once and for all that she’s no easy target.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Gauntlet by Holly Jennings

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • 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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
"Why are you inviting us?"

"Well, your team, while young, does have a fierce reputation in the gaming world. Especially you, Ms. Ling."

Little did he know, Kai "the warrior" Ling was currently hiding under her duvet.
This week I am reading Gauntlet by Holly Jennings. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
Plug back into the dangerous world of virtual gaming, in the next thrilling novel from the author of Arena.

Kali Ling has faced down death hundreds of times for the entertainment of millions. She knows fear—and she knows what’s truly terrifying...


There’s a new game in town. A brutal, winner-takes-all, international video game tournament showcasing the world’s most elite players, promising fame, prestige, and unbelievable fortune. But there’s a catch. The game uses new VR pods guaranteed to push digital warriors to their physical and psychological brink—adapting every time a gamer makes a move.

As the first female captain and youngest team owner in VGL history, Kali is used to defying the odds. But as the all-star tournament heats up, her determination begins to waver and the pressures of media, sponsors, and the game itself begin to put cracks in her hard-set convictions—and strain on her relationship with the one person who matters most.

If Kali and her teammates are to survive, they’ll have to find a way to be stronger than ever before. But battling the system may prove too difficult for even the most hardened of fighters...

Monday, March 27, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 27, 2017)

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.

Other Than Reading... 

This was a quiet week with cooler than normal temperatures which kept me inside.

I had a woman call and want to take a look at my house even though it won't go on the market officially until late in May. She liked it and thought it would work well for her and her two kids. She called the next day because her banker wanted information about the taxes. Seems like she could be a serious buyer for my house. My fingers are crossed that she can get everything in order to buy the house.

I also met with the painter who is going to paint the place from top to bottom. His bid came late in the week. Our original plan was to have it painted April 24-28 but I called and postponed until May 22-26. It will give me more time to get things in boxes and less time to scuff up the paint during my sale and moving. I'm hoping to sell enough surplus stuff to make some room for him to move around.

Last Friday a friend came over after school and we tackled my office. My office supplies closet is now empty with most things going into the rummage sale pile. Next Friday we are going to start packing books. Hopefully we'll get the ones in my family room and office boxed up. The main problem in that books in boxes take up much more room than books on shelves. But the bookshelves need to be empty and detached from the walls before the painter can do his job because they have no backs and are going with me anyway. We're going to save the wall of books in the Master Bedroom until after the rummage sale and the painting because those bookshelves are remaining, have backs, and can be painted around. Another large basket of clothes were discovered when we went through a couple more closets and were taken to the Salvation Army on Saturday.

Meanwhile at work, this coming week is the last week of the third quarter and will be filled with report cards for my 300+ students. I'm down to less than 50 work days remaining until retirement.

Read Last Week
Alice and the Assassin by R. J. Koreto was a historical mystery starring Alice Roosevelt and her bodyguard. I enjoyed the setting, characters and mystery. My review will be posted on April 8

Currently
Change Agent by Daniel Suarez is a near-future hard science fiction story of a man who has his DNA changed to that of a most-wanted criminal and who is fighting to get his identity back.

Next Week
More from my review stack:
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi begins a new series by one of my favorite science fiction authors.
  • The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower was a Kindle Daily Deal that caught my attention.
  • Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich was also a Kindle Daily Deal. However, the last one I read was Eighteen and I need to catch up before I read this one.
  • A Panicked Premonition by Victoria Laurie was added to my review stack after I was invited to download it at NetGalley. It will be released July 4.
To see what Young Adult books I have been reading and plan to read, check out Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Book Review: Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks

Dragon Spawn
Author: Eileen Wilks
Series: A Novel of the Lupi (Book 13)
Publication: Berkley (December 6, 2016)

Description: The New York Times bestselling author of Mind Magic returns as FBI agent Lily Yu gets some very bad news…

Lily learns she was right. Tom Weng—a powerful sorcerer allied with the Old One who keeps trying to take over the world—is still alive. But that's not the worst. Weng is a dragon spawn, the product of a botched hatching given a human form in an attempt to keep him from going mad. A failed attempt.

Meanwhile, Lily’s husband Rule is facing a Challenge to the death. Then there’s the possible reappearance of another sorcerer. But none of that matters when their enemy strikes out of nowhere in the worst way possible. Lily must face a nightmare and return to a place she never wanted to see again. The place where she died…

My Thoughts: Lily and Rule are back on the West Coast and hoping their last encounter with the Great Bitch foiled her plans for a while. Rule has to deal with a Challenge (to the death) for his rule of the Leidolf clan. But the challenge is interrupted when Sam summons them to tell them that their enemy Tom Weng was not killed as they thought.

Sam also shares some information about dragons that is a closely held secret. Baby dragons have to be given the first syllable of their names through mind magic when they are born or they will be forever unable to use mind magic. The last time this happened the dragons grew up to be sociopaths but dragons are really reluctant to kill their children and decided to give them human forms. Tom Weng is one of those dragon spawn.

Since Tom Weng has allied himself with the Great Bitch in her plans to take over the Earth, the dragons have decided to act. Before they can do anything, the Great Bitch through her puppets on Earth shoots a missile at Sam's cave, bombs the FBI building in DC, and detonates a nuclear device which kills a Chinese dragon.

Amid the resulting chaos, Rule's ten-year-old son Toby, Cynna and Cullen's nine-month-old daughter Ryder and three other lupi children are kidnapped by Tom Weng and taken to Dis, the demon world. Rule, Lily, and various allies need to mount a rescue mission to Dis to recover the children.

This book was action-packed and filled with tension and battles. It also ends on a major cliffhanger which makes me want to read the next book in this series RIGHT NOW!

Favorite Quote:
"To some extent she'll be dealing directly with chaos energy. You don't know what that means. I barely do," he admitted, "but if you think of her task as hopping on one foot across a thin wire strung all the way across the Grand Canyon while juggling a dozen primed grenades ... in a thunderstorm ... while someone randomly yanks on your other foot, you'll have some idea."

A moment's silence. Rule spoke. "You're not reassuring me."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Memes: Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks

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:
The sunlight glittered on ocean waves, the air sparkled with sorceri, and the baby he held was asleep.
Friday 56:
She couldn't fail to sense Sam's mind when he was this close, but she could -- with effort -- refrain from "staring" at him. Was it her mindsense that found the dark splendor of Sam's mind so riveting? Or her mind?
This week I'm reading Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks. This is the 13th book in her World of the Lupi urban fantasy series. I've been following along since the beginning. Here's the description from Amazon:
The New York Times bestselling author of Mind Magic returns as FBI agent Lily Yu gets some very bad news…

Lily learns she was right. Tom Weng—a powerful sorcerer allied with the Old One who keeps trying to take over the world—is still alive. But that's not the worst. Weng is a dragon spawn, the product of a botched hatching given a human form in an attempt to keep him from going mad. A failed attempt.

Meanwhile, Lily’s husband Rule is facing a Challenge to the death. Then there’s the possible reappearance of another sorcerer. But none of that matters when their enemy strikes out of nowhere in the worst way possible. Lily must face a nightmare and return to a place she never wanted to see again. The place where she died…

Thursday, March 23, 2017

ARC Review: Break Me by Tiffany Snow

Break Me
Author: Tiffany Snow
Series: Corrupted Hearts (Book 2)
Publication: Montlake Romance (March 14, 2017)

Description: Just a few weeks ago, computer prodigy China Mack’s typical night in involved Endor Star Wars pajamas and a sensible bedtime. Now she’s dating gorgeous tech guru Jackson Cooper—one of Forbes’s Top Ten Eligible Billionaires—much to the Twitterverse’s delight.

Turns out, going from socially inept hermit to poster girl for geek chic has its challenges. China’s relationship gets even more complicated because her role heading the top-secret Vigilance program—where she’s partnered with Superman clone Clark Slattery—makes her a target. And when ruthless businessman Simon Lu plans to co-opt Vigilance software to blackmail government and military employees, he’ll need China’s cooperation—willing or otherwise.

But not every enemy is so easily identified. Some hide in plain sight, in very high places, and mistaking foe for friend could be the last mistake China ever makes…

My Thoughts: China Mack returns in her second adventure and this time she has to keep the beyond-top-secret computer program that she is running out of the hands of the Chinese. She also has to learn how to deal with being in a relationship with billionaire computer company owner Jackson Cooper. This is all new territory for China who prizes her routine above all.

A genius IQ, OCD, and a position high on the Asperger's spectrum aren't exactly the right skills for dealing with a romance. The romance is even more complicated when her boyfriend is under the scrutiny of the Department of Justice for the dealings of his company. China has to take extreme measures to get the DoJ off his back and looking in the right direction.

I like China for her vulnerability. I like that she inspires loyalty in her employees. I like that the is a nerd in the best sense of the word. I like her relationships with her boyfriend Jackson and her partner and friend Clark.

This thriller got quite intense and had me on the edge of my chair. Fans of techno-thrillers with characters who are easy to relate to and like will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
I never thought I'd be one of those girls who felt at home in a man's arms, but we fit so well together. It made me feel . . . not alone . . . which was a big deal. I'd felt alone and been alone for a lot of my life. Loneliness was just part of my daily existence. To not be lonely . . . was incredibly pleasing. And addicting.
I got this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.