Steampunk Sundays: Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn

Series: The Dharian Affairs Trilogy 1

Format: Mobi
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Amazon
Recommended By: Kara of Nocturnal Book Reviews
Genre: YA Steampunk

Skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue… and, of course, kissing.

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance that takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

Before I proceed, know that THIRD DAUGHTER is currently FREE at Amazon so be sure to grab a copy before the sale ends!
That said, I’d like to formally thank Kara over at Nocturnal Book Reviews for reviewing this a while back. I saw the ARC at NetGalley but ignored it because the cover art did not appeal to me. Oh well, another lesson on not judging a book by its cover literally because THIRD DAUGHTER was a unique and amazing read! The blurb is spot-on in summing up this novel and for the purpose of comparisons (to convince you to read this) the world is as rich as Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas although on a micro level. The story is concentrated on Dharia, the Steampunk version of India, and its relationship with the neighboring states/regions. The plot is politically driven with a side of romance, lots of intrigue, treason, and double-crossing. 
5 Reasons why you should read THIRD DAUGHTER

  1. It’s Bollypunk y’all! Like Bollywood minus the song and dance numbers and definitely badass. The world-building is simply amazing! Susan Kaye Quinn maintained the exotic and traditional feel of India and mixed it with Steampunk elements. 
  2. She kept the sci-fi simple but plausible and the Steampunk elements wondrous. My favorite is the clockwork pen and her aethroceiver which acts like Morse code device.
  3. I love the politics and how it drove the novel and the series as a whole. Arranged marriages for the sake of alliances and peace, each region having an ace up their sleeve maintaining the balance in the region whilst making peace very precarious.
  4. The spy games enhanced the mystery and suspense of the conflict. Is Prince Ash of Jungali sincere or not? Is he trying to double cross Aniri and the Dharians or is he trustworthy? Who is the real villain here? You’ll have your suspicions but you won’t confirm it til the end. 
  5. I’ll expound more on the romance because though it’s not a plot driver, it had lots to do with Aniri’s character development and her relationship with Ash. There’s a love triangle but it’s not a deterrent, as Ash and Anari’s are a political match I think it’s not unnatural that one of them, in this case, Anari, is in a relationship. There’s some mild tension and it was eventually resolved but as THIRD DAUGHTER isn’t a romantically driven novel, the love triangle wasn’t all that important nor did it have a bearing on the novel as a whole.
Look out for…

  1. The slow burning romance. This personally didn’t bother me but as a lot of you love romance in your books, there’s not much of that going on here.
  2. Prince Ash is dreamy!
  3. Anari’s relationship with her boyfriend wasn’t resolved and this is important as said boyfriend did something bad to Anari.

Okay the last two items aren’t really deterrents so take it however you like it… THIRD DAUGHTER was such a pleasant surprise and truly unique. SKQuinn has carved a niche for herself in the Steampunk genre with this series and if you love fantasy and Steampunk then you must read this.

Neyra’s Shot of YA: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha 1

Format: Print Hardcover
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Source: Purchased
Genre: YA Fantasy

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo had been sitting on my shelf for over a year now, and I’ve chastised myself enough for not having started it any sooner.
Alina Starkova is headed into the Shadow Fold–a place of total darkness and countless dangers with flesh eating creatures—with her best friend, Mal. But when the First Army is attacked just seconds into the Fold, and Mal’s life is in danger, Alina unknowingly unleashes a power she didn’t know had been lying dormant within her. Alina gets whisked away into the world of the Grisha, an elite of magical beings with extraordinary power, in order to train so that one day she could save her war laden country.
I’m not going to lie; I started SHADOW AND BONE feeling very confused. It took me a second to understand all the different provinces of Ravka and its hidden dangers. But I was allured by the story of the boy and the girl living in the orphanage. I wanted to know more about them and what eventually would become of them. How they transcended from children to young adults in a world that seemed so dark and oppressing; and how one girl fought with every fiber of her being, the very essence of who she was in order to stay with the boy who made her feel as though she weren’t alone.
SHADOW AND BONE is a very fascinating tale of strength and courage; and when you add magic, it’s breathtaking. There’s not much I can say without filling the page with spoilers, but SHADOW AND BONE is a book you will want to pick up. The characters are built up well enough and shrouded in mystery; it doesn’t surprise me to know there will be more from each secondary character in the next installment. I loved that there are villains whom you will despise for their treachery, but before then you will have loved them. Because in a world of magic, all is not as it seems ;)
I spent all night reading SHADOW AND BONE until the very end; it took me approximately five hours after the first page. I was grumpy and dead the following day, but I regret nothing. Magic is by far one of my favorite fantasy traits and I loved seeing how LBardugo took this concept and blended it with the elements. I don’t believe any book is without its flaws, but there were none big enough for me to complain about; and if you’ve read any of my reviews lately, that’s saying something. I have a way with finding something to complain about. Every time.
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Neyra is a book blogger on hiatus and a friend of Talk Supe. 
She usually writes snarky but funny reviews which can be entertaining to read. 

Melissa Loved It: This is Sarah by Ally Malinenko

Series: Standalone

Format: PDF
Release Date: January 1st 2014
Publisher: BookFish Books
Source: Author
Genre: YA Contemporary

When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he transforms from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that changes everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so how can he bring her back?

As Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister, Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape of life without her sister. While her parents fall apart, Claire remains determined to keep going even if it kills her.

THIS IS SARAH serves as a meditation on loss, love and what it means to say goodbye.

This is one story that knows exactly how to pack an emotional wallop!  THIS IS SARAH is  full of well written and well developed characters. Sarah is at the heart of the book, even though by the time the story starts she is already gone. You learn about her as a sister, a girlfriend, and a friend, through the people who knew her. You piece together her personality bit by bit, and I thought that was so very clever.
Colin, her boyfriend, is in pieces after she goes missing. His life is collapsing around him and all he wants to do is keep hoping. He is such a sympathetic character. You just want to reach into the book and give him a hug. He feels so responsible for what happened, even though he doesn’t even know WHAT actually happened to his girlfriend. No one does, that’s the kicker. He grieves so hard and feels guilty for grieving. He wants to hold out hope that she’s still out there, but he’s so angry because what if she is? His heart doesn’t want to allow those thoughts to go through his mind. He holds onto that angry and sadness, because he feels like there’s nothing left for him until answers are found.
Claire, Sarah’s little sister, is left behind. She isn’t lost, but she feels like a shadow. Her parent’s focus hard on finding her sister, and they almost seem to forget she’s still there. It’s understandable that they are both wrapped up in their own pain, but it made me so mad and sad for her. My heart simply ached for Claire! She is hurting too, but no one seems to recognize that. She not only loses her sister, but her family seems to crumble as time goes on.  
This book hinges on great character development, and it does not falter one bit. Chapters alternate between Colin and Claire, and the transitions are super smooth. As I mentioned earlier, getting to know Sarah depended on piecing together parts of her life from the people around her. The way this was written, in alternating POVs, was so GOOD. This style can be confusing sometimes, but Ally Malinenko has a firm grasp on this technique. Her writing shines and her characters speak volumes.
THIS IS SARAH, will leave a lasting impression with you. Prepare your tear ducts, because this one will hit you right in the feels.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22360316-this-is-sarah
MELISSA
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Needs Work: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by NIkki McCormack

Series: Stand-alone (?)

Format: PDF
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA – Steampunk

Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT by Nikki McCormack sure sounds good on paper. A thief, a cat with a mechanized leg, a murder, and conspiracies all set in Victorian London. What’s not to like?! Eh, a few actually. 
For me the lure of Steampunk novels is it’s unique and fantastical world building, It’s like the Industrial Revolution on steroids where the world is getting modernized exponentially on one hand, and on the other there’s an expectation for society to stay as is, keeping tradition and heeding to rules of conduct and class. Quite the contrast which turns the characters into mavericks. 
Unfortunately THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT has close to none in terms of world building. Aside from mentions here and there of automated carriages, horses, etc. and the cat’s leg, I didn’t really feel I was in Steampunk Victorian London. The details of this world is left for us to construct and imagine which didn’t bode well with me. 
The dialogue also didn’t feel authentic. Street urchins like Maeko has a way of speaking and some people might take it for granted but I am particular when it comes of word usage and “book accents” on my historical reads. Aside from the world, how people converse is another device authors use to take us back to a certain time period. No cockney accent here. 
Now it’s not all that bad. I like the premise of THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT, it’s the kind of craziness that I enjoy reading. I love the chase, the process of solving the murder mystery, getting away from the bad guys, and redeeming some of the characters. Unfortunately the execution of the story fell short. Maeko could’ve been an interesting heroine to follow but she and the rest of the characters need depth, dimension, and layers to flesh them out. 

Suped Up! Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass 3
Format: eGalley
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA | Fantasy

BLURB

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

FAVORITE QUOTES

I think [Celaena] like to suffer. You collect scars because you want proof that you are paying for whatever sins you’ve committed – Rowan

She would not let that light go out.
She would fill the world with it, with her light–her gift. She would light up the darkness, so brightly that all who were lost or wounded our broken would find their way to it, a beacon for those who still dwelled in that abyss. It would not take a monster to destroy a monster-but light, light to drive out the darkness.

Lots of people have and will review HEIR OF FIRE which is fine by me, gives me the perfect excuse to do a lazy girl review…
There are wyverns and badass witches and this is from the Baba Yellowlegs thread. I don’t know yet if these nefarious witches led by this lady called, Manon, will be Celaena’s allies or nemesis but they sure are a curious and scary bunch. Their storyline sure was interesting even if they pose a threat.
Photo credit

I love Aedion, Celaena’s long lost cousin. He is like the combination of Legolas and Eomir with his fae looks, keen sense, ruthlessness in the battlefield, and loyalty to Celaena/Aelin’s memory. 
Dorian is coming to his own. I’m glad that his infatuation with Celaena is finally put to rest however it seems like tragedy isn’t far behind…
Photo credit
… and well you know how this ended. 
Oh Chaol, why do you have to be such a hero?! 
As for Celaena, this girl is barely unrecognizable and she went full on Carrie here, I loved it!

Photo credit

She has grown tremendously in HEIR OF FIRE. I could write up a review just about her character alone but I thought I’d “sing” it instead. This is a lazy girl’s review after all…

*fast forward to 3:53, to me that’s how it felt like when Celaena
faced off with Queen Bitch Maeve*

So boys and gals, the mad gushing and wild fangirling is valid, HEIR OF FIRE, the latest Throne of Glass novel by Sarah J. Maas is EPIC! It’ll make you feel a wide range of emotions from the wholesome, to the romantic, down to the bloody and manic. I surely took my time reading this baby, savored each and every chapter for days because I don’t want it to end. I have to make myself slow down otherwise this will be a quick read not because of its length but because its packed. HEIR OF FIRE killed it! This book is a game changer in more ways than one starting with the genre. IMO, HEIR OF FIRE transitioned the series from YA to full on epic fantasy. So if you’re a fan please do us and yourselves a favor, get the book today and start reading. If you haven’t started this one yet then you’re missing out on something really good. Every installment is jaw dropping. SJMaas is a true fan of fantasy, she knows what we readers love and she delivered.

DNF: Zomburbia by Adam J. Gallardo

Series: Stand-alone (?)

Format: eGalley
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: K-Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA-Fantasy

“Welcome To Zomburbia.”

My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains.

I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing…

Just a disclaimer, I DISLIKE tagging and writing DNF posts for obvious reasons but there are instances where I feel compelled to explain why I’m rating the book as such. And this is how I feel regarding Adam J. Gallardo’s ZOMBURBIA
First of all, ZOMBURBIA is my first ever zombie book. After watching The Walking Dead and enjoying the blood, gore, and decay of these undead, I felt like I’m finally ready to read books about them. Alas things didn’t pan out that way here. I stopped at 40% and continued to skim until the end for the sake of closure. 
It’s not all bad though, I love the idea behind ZOMBURBIA. The zombie apocalypse happened a long time ago, it was bad but people managed to survive, adapt, and rebuild. There are still walkers loitering around and the world is still not a safe place but the uninfected, like Courtney Hart, placed systems to keep them out and the remaining healthy populace safe. I imagined things to be similar to Warm Bodies minus the humor and likable characters. Another interesting twist is the healthy people found a new drug in zombie brains and Courtney is a dealer, selling this disgusting drug on the d/l so she can save enough money to move out, live in a different city, and go to college to pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor and finding a cure for the disease.
What didn’t work for me is Courtney Hart herself. As the story is told in her POV and she’s basically driving the story, it was difficult to be objective and focus on the plot per se. Here’s why Courtney and I didn’t get along: SHE ANNOYED THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF ME. At first I was loving Courtney’s sarcasm, snark is my favorite characteristic in a heroine and Courtney has an abundance of that. But as the story kept moving along, she quickly crossed the line from cute to bratty, condescending, and ungrateful. Even her friends are complaining about her attitude and how she takes them for granted and makes them feel like they’re beneath her. 
One thing you should know about Courtney is she’s not one of the popular kids, she’s one of the “outcasts” and takes pride in being one. Until she caught the eye of one of the jocks, Brandon Ikaros, then things turned for the worst for her friends. Slowly but surely, Courtney was sucked in to the clique she allegedly despises, blowing off her friends so she can hang with Brandon, lying to them about things, etc. What grated on my nerves even more is after committing offenses that betrayed their friendship, and Coutney’s clearly in the wrong, she refused to apologize which annoyed me even more. I mean I’ve met a LOT of snarky heroines but their redeeming quality lie in that they are kindhearted and are wise enough to know what matters and what doesn’t. Courtney didn’t demonstrate any redeeming qualities in the first half of the book, the redemption happened after she lost her friends because of her selfishness. 
Of course I’m just one reader so DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT! I’m sure your experience will be different from mine and you’ll probably end up loving ZOMBURBIA. So please, read it and let me know what you think.  

A Shot of YA: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Series: Stand-alone

Format: eGalley
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Contemporary

First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

I am loving how YA contemporary is ramping up its game tackling socially relevant issues and not just limiting to the ebbs and tides of romance. High School in particular is/was a significant phase for a lot of people and I think you can all agree with me that it’s more than prom, dating or school. Well Chelsea Pitcher may not have written what it’s exactly like for teens but she did raise a lot of thinking points in her debut novel, THE S-WORD. Let me ramble a bit.
  • Bullying, suicide, homophobia, labels, these are the predominant issues tackled here. Lizzie Hart’s story might be fictional but I’m sure a lot of people, young and old, can relate to her pain and suffering when she was labeled a slut after she allegedly cheated with her BFF’s boyfriend on prom night. 
  • THE S-WORD vaguely reminds me of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why because of it’s suicide theme and Lizzie herself. 
  • I was caught up in Angelina’s investigation on who started the (Suicide) Slut campaign. I was itching to know who the heartless perp is. When the guilty party’s identity was revealed, I was shocked, angry and didn’t buy the reason. I think CPitcher is aiming for poetic justice but I didn’t get that vibe. 
  • THE S-WORD is so tragic and heartbreaking! I was so mad when all the pieces are finally laid out. I think this is one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read. Lizzie’s secret is filled with love and longing and to me she died in vain.
  • So many secrets! Made me admire Lizzie for her ability to carry all of those for a long time without breaking from its weight. 
  • Angie’s valiant attempt for justice infuriated me. “Better late than never” doesn’t apply here, she could’ve done so much, fought with Lizzie, pulled her hair, ANYTHING that would open dialogue while she was still alive instead of ignoring her completely. 
  • The secondary characters are great.
Lizzie Hart had my heart. I loved how THE S-WORD was told and its message, suicide among teens due to bullying is a serious issue. Nobody has the right to antagonize someone to the point where their lives are ruined and they can’t look at themselves in the mirror. On the same note, we should also value our voices more and the power it has not just on others but on ourselves too. THE S-WORD is an amazing read, it’s a gateway to a lot of pertinent discussions and something a lot of people can benefit from.

Suped Up! Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls 3.5

Format: eGalley
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: MYA-Paranormal

BLURB:

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?

FAVORITE QUOTE:

I don’t really like team sports unless I’ve invented both the team and the sport. – Cole

Cole St. Clair, returning rock star, and Isabel Culpeper, emotional assassin, became my eyes and ears. As I wrote the hot-cold relationship of two people who took turns being the sinner and the sin… I hope that those who don’t need the truth in it will see only the werewolf,  and I hope that those who do need the truth will see only the human.
- Maggie Stiefvater, Foreword, Sinner


I can get addicted to this kind of hot-cold relationship. It’s angsty but not slash-my-wrist-with-a-butter-knife kind of angst, it’s more like I-love-you-and-it-scares-me. Fans of the series, I know you’re with me in saying that WE WANT MORE OF COLE & ISABEL! Maggie Stiefvater, please let them have their spin-off… pretty please with lots of cherry and whip cream on top! 

Anyway, SINNER might be tagged as The Wolves of Mercy Falls 3.5 but it’s a full-length novel, picking up a couple of years after Forever. The tone is quite different from the original trilogy, it’s grown-up, not as ridden with drama and conflict, and paved with tears. I love that MStiefvater didn’t dwell on everything that’s wrong in Cole and Isabel’s respective personal lives, it wasn’t glossed over either, rather it felt like closure as these two have been working out the kinks from the start. 

As for the paranormal aspect, it’s barely there. For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Wolves of Mercy Falls, towards the end of the trilogy the characters were able to find a “cure”, if you can call it that, to control their wolves. Cole isn’t immune to his wolf’s calling and there were moments wherein he surrendered to it but it felt more metaphorical, poetic even, than a detailed or important scene. I thought it would bother me that SINNER‘s supernatural aspect is watered down but it made a lot of sense based on where the trilogy left us and SINNER‘s premise called for it to be like that. 
Now the blurb may say that this can be read as stand-alone, and I guess you can because this is the next chapter in Cole and Isabel’s lives. However I still encourage you to read the first three books so you can get acquainted with their history, the hows, whys, and whats that led them to SINNER. I’ve been a fan of these two and rooted for them from the beginning because of their intense attraction to each other and their undeniable chemistry. They compliment each other pretty well and it’s a no brainer that they should be together. They’re both strong individuals who pulled a lot of strength from their problems be it with their family, substance abuse, or personal malfunction, and watching them work through it and gain maturity from all of their shiznit was quite the experience. 
I love everything about SINNER! I’m so thankful that Cole and Isabel’s muse pushed and inspired MStiefvater to write this installment. This little trip back to the wolf world she created all those years ago sure is both a treat and a gift to us fans. Not only that, MStiefvater is a phenomenal writer, I’ve always been a fan of her word plays and ability to draw out emotions from her readers at the slightest provocation. SINNER is not as flowery as The Raven Cycle but it’s just as pretty albeit more peppy and contemporary thanks to Cole St. Clair’s sense of humor and Isabel’s signature teen snark. 
So whether or not you’ve read The Wolves of Mercy Falls and/or The Raven Boys, or you only read contemporary new adult/young adult, I assure you that you will LOVE SINNER, it’s simply transcendent.

Steampunk Sundays: The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross

Series: Steampunk Chronicles 4

Format: eGalley
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Recommended By: Novels on the Run
Genre: YA | Steampunk

In 1897 London, a final showdown is about to begin.

London’s underworld is no place for a young woman, even one who is strong, smart and part-automaton like Mila. But when master criminal Jack Dandy inadvertently breaks her heart, she takes off, determined to find an independent life, one entirely her own. Her search takes her to the spangled shadows of the West End’s most dazzling circus.

Meanwhile, taken captive in the Aether, Griffin King is trapped in an inescapable prison, and at the mercy of his archenemy, The Machinist. If he breaks under the hellish torment, The Machinist will claim his powers and control of the Aether itself, and no one in either world will be safe-especially not Finley Jayne and her misfit band of friends.

Finley plunges headlong into the Aether the only way she knows how, by temporarily dying. But she cannot parry The Machinist’s maneuvers for long. To defeat him for good, Griffin will have to confront his greatest fear and finally come face-to-face with the destructive power he wields.

THE GIRL WITH THE WINDUP HEART, the 4th book in Kady Cross’ YA fantasy series, Steampunk Chronicles, is my favorite installment ever! There are two stories in one book, a story arc closed (maybe), an awesome budding love story, and filled with action and fantastical things! 
So I mentioned that THE GIRL WITH THE WINDUP HEART is a two-in-one kind of thing therefore I’ll focus on that and not bore you with the details that other bloggers have already mentioned. I’m sure other readers have already prodded and dissected this book to it’s basest particle so I’ll even be more subjective and a little vague for those of you who are unfamiliar with Steampunk Chronicles.
Griffin & The Machinist: These arch nemesis finally battled it out and it. Was. Pure. Suspense! These two have been dancing around each other since book 1 and the showdown finally happened! I have to admit, I was doubtful for a while there because The Machinist is one clever SOB and Griffin doesn’t play dirty, the former brought the war to Griffin and took him to the Aether (like the spirit world, loose comparison) where he grew even more powerful. True, Griffin can manipulate the energies in this plane but so can The Machinist. Good news is Griffin’s got a great team on his side and Finley likes to color outside the lines so they found a way to save him. Gosh, if I were the type who bites my nails, mine would be stumps by now. I was doubtful that Griffin and/or Finley would survive, KCross was relentless and kept things hanging on the edge. It was torture but I loved every minute of it!
The Crime Lord & The Automaton: I love Jack Dandy and Mila the snarky robot (oops, is that politically correct?) together! I was wishing THE GIRL WITH THE WINDUP HEART is Adult Steampunk instead of YA just so KCross can be liberal with Jack and Mila’s budding romance. Simply put, the tension and delicious romantic push and pull we read in historicals, Jack and Mila have except for the blistering smex. Mila may be an automaton but she’s wonderfully made, snarky, sexy, smart, and a quick study. She keeps Jack on his feet and undoubtedly his equal in so many things. Jack may invoke the fear of God in a lot of people but he’s putty in Mila’s hand. Who doesn’t love a powerful and notorious man in love? These two are the unlikeliest couple but they work and so far, the most entertaining pair in the series. Forget Griffin and Finley, let’s shift to Jack and Mila instead! Now it’s important to mention that part of Jack’s backstory has been revealed which made my jaw drop. I can’t say I was surprised since it’s been speculated and to avoid spoilers, I’ll sum it up in one word: SCANDALOUS! 
Obviously THE GIRL WITH THE WINDUP HEART is a great series installment. I can’t wait for the next one because I’m curious who the next super villain is and which character s/he will battle with. I hope it’s not Griffin or Finley, let them rest for a bit, that way the other characters can shine and maybe Sam and Emily can redeem themselves, they were kinda boring in book 3, and allow the supporting cast to step up to the plate and shine on their own. Better yet, why not give us more of Jack and Mila? These two are firecrackers and I sure wouldn’t mind more of the automaton and the dashing crime lord.

A Shot of YA: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Series: Splintered 2

Format: eGalley
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Amulet
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Fantasy

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

UNHINGED. I still don’t know exactly how I feel about Splintered 2. I know it’s as fantastical as the first one and I still like Alyssa as a heroine. I love the ongoing battle between her and Queen Red, her mom is still kinda quirky and her relationship with Jeb just got a bit complicated. A lot of you have either read the book and/or countless reviews so I won’t focus on being objective, instead I’ll tell you more about my experience with UNHINGED and other subjective points. 
It’s expected that a character as notorious as Queen Red will be hard to vanquish, what I didn’t expect is for her to bring the war to Alyssa and I love that little surprise. However I’m a little disappointed that I figured out Queen Red’s disguise right away, I wish Howard made it harder for us to figure that part out to make it more mysterious and the big reveal jaw dropping. I enjoyed Alyssa’s conundrum, as the reigning Queen Red, she has to choose between ruling her part of Wonderland or staying in our realm living as a normal teenager. That problem is semi-resolved at this point although with Howard, who knows what she’ll pull from her mad hat next. 
Next is Morpheus and this love triangle he’s insisting on Alyssa. Alyssa already made a choice and she picked Jeb, I don’t understand why this issue is still being pressed at this point. It almost feels like a forced drama just to create some romantic conflict between the characters. Also, Morpheus is one cunning and manipulative moth! I didn’t like him in Splintered and I still don’t like him in UNHINGED. As for Jeb, I feel bad for the dude with his memory is always getting messed up somehow. I won’t be surprised if Howard gives him a mental condition down the road to justify Alyssa and Morpheus being together.  
The big surprise for me is what Alyssa’s mom, Alison, revealed about her Dad. I sort of love/hate Alison for what she did but I guess it’s one of those situations where one’s choice is picking the lesser of two evils. Alyssa’s dad has been through so much at this point so in a way it’s a blessing that Alison did what she did.
Loved this installment and the intrigue it left us with. Of course UNHINGED and Splintered is one of those series that leaves its readers wanting more. Obviously I’m looking forward to Ensnared, it’s going to be mayhem and this is one family affair I won’t want to miss.