Sunday, January 13, 2019

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Title: Scythe
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Author: Neal Shusterman 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline? 

"The Thunderhead did not speak to unsavories."
What a huge cliffhanger!! 

I usually hate cliffhangers but I think Thunderhead ends in a great one.

So what happens in this installment?

Rowan is now Scythe Lucifer. He's targeting Scythes who have forgotten their way. The Scythes who enjoyed the killing are all in his naughty list. 

Citra as junior Scythe Anastasia is trying to change the Scythom from within with the support of Scythe Curie and the help of Scythe Faraday. This puts her in grave danger. Not everyone agrees with her way of thinking.

There's a fight for power between the old order and the new one. All thanks to Scythe Goddard and his followers. 

Shusteman introduces an important character, Greyson Tolliver who will play a huge part in the Thunderhead

My favorite part was learning more about the Thunderhead. Instead of the Scythes journals, we get so much more input about It, what he's thinking and who he wants to help.
“Death must exist for life to have meaning.” 

I love the world building and the insight we get from the main characters. 

I'm not sure how much the Tonists will play a part in the next one but I think it's going to be a major one.

I wonder how much time passes between the end of the Thunderhead and The Toll. I hope we don't have to wait too long for it. I'm dying for answers.

Cliffhanger: YEP!!

4/5 Fangs

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Title: Scythe
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Author: Neal Shusterman 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Two teens are forced to murder—maybe each other—in the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

“My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There’s no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.”

The Scythe came highly recommended to me. My husband read it and loved it. He told me "This one is right up your alley." I can't disagree. It had all the right components to become a favorite fantasy.

In this new world, many years away from us, people don't die. There is no sickness and the Cloud has become an entity that manages the world without taking absolute control. It's called the Thunderhead. Since people don't die, many try to do it just for fun. Deadish is the new extreme sport. If you don't like the aging process, you can reverse time and "turn a corner" and become a younger self. 

Permanent death is only achieved by being "gleaned". The person performing a gleaning is specially chosen and trained. He or she becomes a Scythe. Scythes are feared and revered. The only ones who don't like them are the Tonist.  The Tonists live in monasteries and the Thunderhead leaves them alone although cameras are still everywhere.

The main characters are Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova. Both teenagers, who after having an interaction with Scythe Faraday they are offered to become apprentices into the Scythom. Neither wants to do it but their families are all for it in order to receive immunity for one year. 

The world of the Scythom is full of intrigue, politics, and danger. We meet many important characters like Scythe Curie (the Grand Dame of Death), Scythe Goddard, Scythe Xenocrates and many more. 

The Scythe is an amazing fantasy. It has an impressive world-building with very interesting characters and compelling dialogue. There was a couple of great twists (one, I saw coming, one, I had not thought about) and a fantastic ending.

“Death makes the world kin.” 

Cliffhanger: Yes

4/5 Fangs

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Divine Justice by David Baldacci

Title: Divine Justice 
Series: Camel Club #4
Author: David Baldacci
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Oliver Stone is the most wanted man in America; no, not the maverick filmmaker Oliver Stone but the covert agent whose real name is John Carr. Men in the highest circles of power want him dead, and they want him dead quickly, because he knows too many of their deepest secrets. The members of the secretive Camel Club, on the other hand, not only want him alive; they are willing to risk their own lives to save their leader and friend. All of which sets up David Baldacci's thriller of relentless intensity, a perfect follow-up to his acclaimed Stone Cold. 

John Carr is back and he's on the run!

If you have been following this series, you know what happened at the end of the last book, Stone Cold. This will trigger a reaction from Oliver Stone which will make him become the most sought after man in the USA. 

Oliver says goodbye to the Camel Club and to D.C. He ends up in the little town of Divine, WV which is nothing but that. Here, he'll realize that something is wrong with the town and some people are into shady businesses. Oliver can't walk away. He stays in Divine to help the people he has come to care for. 

While Oliver is in Divine, the rest of the Camel Club won't let him deal with the government on his own. They decide to help Oliver even if he doesn't want their help. On the other hand, some people in the government want to keep Oliver quiet about everything he knows. Ending his life is the best way to do so. 

Divine Justice is a great addition to the series. I was with Oliver on this one. He did what he thought was right and despite being on the run, he couldn't walk away from the trouble in Divine. 

My favorite part of Divine Justice was to see characters from the other books making an appearance like Harry Finn and  Alex Ford and meeting new ones like Joe Knox. Of course, there are some dangerous men like Macklin Hayes who were easy to hate.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: Winter Solstice 
Series: Winter #4
Author: Elin Hilderbrand 

Raise one last glass with the Quinn Family at the Winter Street Inn. 

It's been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that's about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they've experienced in years. And Bart's safe return isn't the family's only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she's finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn't be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love--and some of the things we endure--about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best.

What a bittersweet moment to end this book! 

Over the past month (I know, I was not suffering through years like so many) I have come to enjoy learning about everything Elin Hilderbrand wanted to tell me about these characters. I have come to adore this not-so-perfect family with their quirks and all. 

Bart coming back home from Afghanistan and finally listening to his point of view was something I enjoyed tremendously. He was a man who was suffering and who deserved some happiness. 

I was ecstatic to see "Fast Eddie" showing up in this book. I liked him a lot in The Rumor despite getting himself into so much trouble and ending up in jail. Now, as a free man, he was trying to support his family and he was desperate to sell a property in order to keep his family afloat. 

As Winter Solstice progresses, we check in with Patrick, Jennifer, Kevin, Isabelle, Ava, Margaret, Mitzi, and of course Kelley.

I won't lie and say that Winter Solstice didn't break my heart. As I approached the ending, I knew where this was going and more than a few tears were shed. 

I'm going to miss these characters and my only hope is just like Fast Eddie, Elin Hilderbrand decides to bring them back into her future books. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Friday, November 30, 2018

Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: Winter Storms
Series: Winter #3
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release date: October 4, 2016

Gather under the mistletoe for one last round of caroling with the Quinn family in this heartwarming conclusion to Elin Hilderbrand's bestselling Winter Street Trilogy. 

Some of the stormy weather of the past few seasons seems to have finally lifted for the Quinns. After a year apart, and an ill-fated affair with the Winter Street Inn's old Santa Claus, Mitzi has returned to rule the roost; Patrick is about to be released from prison; Kevin has a successful new business and is finally ready to tie the knot with Isabelle; and best of all, there's hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan. 

That doesn't mean there aren't a few dark clouds on the horizon. Kelley has recently survived a health scare; Jennifer can't quite shake her addiction to the drugs she used as a crutch while Patrick was in jail; and Ava still can't decide between the two lovers that she's been juggling with limited success. However, if there's one holiday that brings the Quinn family together to give thanks for the good times, it's Christmas. And this year promises to be a celebration unlike any other as the Quinns prepare to host Kevin and Isabelle's wedding at the inn. But as the special day approaches, a historic once-in-a-century blizzard bears down on Nantucket, threatening to keep the Quinns away from the place--and the people--they love most. Before the snow clears, the Quinns will have to survive enough upheavals to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog, in this touching novel that proves that when the holidays roll around, you can always go home again. 

The Quinns are back!!

This time the book begins way before Christmas. 

Jennifer is steel dealing with her pill addiction. 
Ava is dating both Nathaniel and Scott (hard to have a favorite. Neither is worth it). 
Kevin is getting prepared for his wedding to Isabelle (The plan is to get married during the Christmas Holiday). 
Margaret might be walking down the aisle herself. 
Kelley has a health issue (I was not prepared for this one. Plenty of tears were shed). 
Mitzi is back with Kelley. 
Patrick is getting out of prison after doing his time for inside trading. 
Lastly, Bart might be alive and coming home for good.

So many sad and wonderful things are happing to the Quinns and I didn't want to miss any of it.  There's plenty of drama to go around for this family. There were so many lingering questions from the prior two books and it was nice to get some closure (Although, one more book is out there).

I'm thankful for these books and for Mrs. Hilderbrand sharing these characters with us.  I love the Winter series. Their drama, their hope, their happiness only made the season even more wonderful for me. 

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: Winter Stroll 
Series: Winter #2
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company 
Release date: October 13, 2015

"Happy Holidays 2015! It has been a rough year for the Quinns, but I would like to start by saying thank you for all of the well wishes and positive missives sent our way." 

Another Christmas on Nantucket finds Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn reflecting on the past year as he writes a holiday letter to friends and family. Though the year has had its share of misfortune and worry, the Quinns have much to celebrate. Kelley, now single, at least is on better terms with his first wife Margaret, who is using her celebrity to lure customers to the inn in record numbers. Their son Kevin has a beautiful new baby, Genevieve, with the Inn's French housekeeper, Isabelle; and their daughter, Ava, is finally dating a nice guy--her devoted colleague, Scott. 

Now the Quinns are looking forward to celebrating Genevieve's baptism, welcoming Isabelle to the family, and enjoying the cheer of Nantucket's traditional Christmas Stroll. But just when a peaceful family gathering seems within reach, Kelley's estranged second wife, Mitzi, shows up on the island after souring on her relationship with the inn's former Santa Claus. Soon Kelley isn't the only Quinn entertaining a surprise guest from Christmases past as lovers old and new gather beneath the mistletoe. With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it's going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns--and the inn--through the holidays intact. 

It has been a year in the life of the Quinn family. Another December in Nantucket is here.

So what's new with the characters?

Kelley's missing Mitzi. He has not divorced her and when she calls to beg to attend the baptism of Kevin's new daughter, Genevieve, he can't say no to her. It seems things between Mitzi and George, the yearly Santa Claus, are not going well. George might even start dating someone else!

Margaret is still dating the pediatric surgeon, Drake. She's very happy with him. She's also quite involved with the Inn and with her children lives too. 

Kevin and Isabelle are preparing for the baptism when Kevin's ex-wife Nora makes her presence known. She's back to create trouble for the Quinn's family.

Ava is dating Scott and she couldn't be happier. Then, Scott invites another teacher to the Winter Stroll and when she gets hurt, Scott feels responsible and takes care of her, leaving Ava behind. This leaves room for Nathaniel to make a pass at her. Nathaniel is back on the island with the sole purpose of recovering Ava as his girlfriend.

Bart is still missing in Afghanistan but all his family is thinking of him.

Jennifer, Patrick's wife has become addicted to pain meds and Ativan. She's trying to figure out a way to get more pills for herself. She thinks she will stop using when Patrick is out of prison.

A lot has happened in the last year and many more things happened in this novel. All exciting and interesting to me since now I'm invested with these broken characters. The audio was fantastic and I would love to do a Winter Stroll myself during December in Nantucket.

One of the things I love the most is how they were thinking about Bart and how the light in his room was always on. 

I'm surprised I have come around to liking Mitzi. I was so happy with the way she felt at the end of The Winter Inn but after finishing Winter Stroll, I understand her better and I'm rooting for Kelley and her to fix things between them.

Ava's love life is a mess. I'm leaning towards Scott but who knows. 

Kevin had a moronic moment but thanks to George, not everything was lost to him. 

Cliffhanger: Yes

4/5 Fangs

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: Winter Street 
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Series: Winter #1
Publisher: October 14th 2014 by Little, Brown and Company
Release date: October 14, 2014

In bestseller Elin Hilderbrand's first Christmas novel, a family gathers on Nantucket for a holiday filled with surprises.

Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

Winter Street sets the bait for the Winter series. I enjoyed the audio and as soon as I was done with it, I  was purchasing the next book, Winter Stroll. I'm so happy all the books are out so I don't have to wait anytime in between discovering what will be the future of these characters.

Winter Street centers around The Quinn family. Kelley Quinn is the father. He owns a B&B with his current wife Mitzi. He's worried about the financial future of the Winter Street Inn but this concern takes second stage when he finds his wife in a room with George, the Santa Claus who performs during the yearly Christmas party at the Inn. Before she leaves, Mitzi confesses that her affair with George has been ongoing for twelve years every single Christmas holiday. 

Margaret Quinn is Kelley's ex-wife but she's also the most famous women on TV. She's part of America as she delivers the daily news. She's currently seeing a pediatric surgeon and is spending Christmas with him in Hawaii instead of Nantucket until she learns something that pulls her back to her ex-husband's home.

Patrick is the eldest son and Kelley and Margaret's favorite too. He's a broker and supposedly a great businessman except he let his greed take hold of him and now he's being investigated for inside trading. Patrick is married to Jennifer and they have three children.

Ava is the only daughter. She's a music teacher whose love life is a mess. She's in love with Nathaniel but he's not as serious with their relationship as Ava wishes it to be. She wants more from him. Ava does have Scott in her life. She knows he's in love with her but she doesn't think about him that way but maybe she should.

Kevin is living at the Inn. He's ex-wife Nora did a number on him. He lost trust in women but secretly he has been dating Isabelle, a French woman who works at the Inn too. He's going to be a father and he better get with the program before he loses his chance at happiness.

Last but not least is Bart. The youngest son of Kelley and the only kid by Mitzi. He was a loose cannon until he joined the Marines and now he has been deployed to Afghanistan. No one knows where he is at but they all hope he's safe.

Winter Street is full of drama. There are so many things happening all at once to this family that it should be impossible to believe it. Yet, I found myself being entertained by their angst, sorrow,  persistence, and happiness. 

I liked all the family members especially Margaret. She changed her plans to help her kids and ex-husband.

Winter Street ends up in a cliffhanger. I'm happy I didn't have to suffer through it for too long.

Cliffhanger: Yes

4/5 Fangs