Active Memory by Dan Wells

Title: Active Memory (Mirador #3)
Author: Dan Wells
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

From Dan Wells, author of the New York Times bestselling Partials Sequence and the John Cleaver series, comes the third and final book in the dark, pulse-pounding, sci-fi neo-noir series that began with the acclaimed novel Bluescreen.

For all the mysteries teen hacker Marisa Carneseca has solved, there has been one that has always eluded her: the truth behind the car accident in which she lost her arm and a mob boss’ wife, Zenaida de Maldonado, lost her life. Even in a world where technology exists to connect everyone’s mind to one another, it would seem that some secrets can still remain hidden.

Those secrets rise violently to the surface, however, when Zenaida de Maldonado’s freshly severed hand shows up at the scene of a gangland shooting. If Zenaida is—or was—still alive, it means there’s even more about Marisa’s past that she doesn’t know. And when she and her friends start digging, they uncover a conspiracy that runs from the slums of Los Angeles to the very top of the world’s most powerful genetic engineering firm. If Mari wants the truth, she’s going to have to go through genetically enhanced agents, irritatingly attractive mob scions, and some bad relationships to get it.

Dan Wells’s widely acclaimed series continues with his most shocking, pulse-pounding, and visionary story yet.

Each of the books in the Mirador series have their own standalone story. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the Bluescreen but Ones and Zeroes was about taking down a major corporation. Now in Active Memory we are hearing more about chop shops. I really like this about the books because there is still the main story arc of, why Marisa’s hand is the way it is and the secrets surrounding the car crash. As well as the Cherry Dogs and their rise in the Overworld and tournaments. It keeps the books fresh. In a way you could jump into the series later and still enjoy it.

So besides the whole, where do body parts come from. We finally get insight on Marisa’s hand and it’s not what expected. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting though which is kind of the great thing about it. As the web finally untangles I felt satisfied with the outcome. I really liked the story.

I love the Cherry Dogs. The bonds that the girls have and that we explored since the first book is fantastic. It’s a crew of gamer girls who also hack and save the world (sort of) on the side. What could be better than that. I love the way that each girl has her own personality and specialities that help them in the Overworld but also in real life. I love how close knit they are and how they support each other. I did however miss the presence of Fang and Jaya in Active Memory. They are always there because the girls are always connected to one another but I loved how involved everyone was in Ones and Zeroes. I really do love these girls.

Active Memory has a lot of action. More action than gaming this time, which is fine. My favorite part of the stories is the girls working together so it doesn’t really bother me how. It was fast paced read and I didn’t feel any lag time. Always great. I would love to see this as a movie or tv series. You could have some pretty good special effects. Now I’m thinking tv series for sure, now I want it as a tv series…..

Marisa dabbles in romance but it’s never been an important part of the books and it’s very almost bond like. Ha ha. Which is great for a female lead. I love how she’s like hmm I might be interested but I’m too busy doing five hundred other things to worry about it.

So this is the third book. Is it the final book? I’m not sure, it doesn’t have to be. The ending, while wrapping up most things still leaves room for more in the series. Again especially because this series has its own standalone storyline for each book. I really love the way these books are written and I would love to see more of The Cherry Dogs. Maybe venture out of Mirador and off to where the other girls live.

New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells is best known for his horror series I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, of which the first book is now an award-winning movie through IFC Midnight. His other novels include THE HOLLOW CITY, a supernatural thriller about schizophrenia, EXTREME MAKEOVER, in which a beauty company destroys the world, and two young adult science fiction series: the post-apocalypse PARTIALS and the cyberpunk MIRADOR. He has written for television, on the upcoming science fiction series EXTINCT, and wrote and produced the horror comedy stage play A NIGHT OF BLACKER DARKNESS. He cohosts the Hugo-winning podcast for aspiring writers called Writing Excuses, which has expanded to include its own writing conference. He also writes short fiction and game fiction, and edited the anthology ALTERED PERCEPTIONS to help raise funds for and awareness of mental illness. Dan lives in northern Utah with his wife, 6 children, and more than 400 boardgames.

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The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari

Title: The Sweetest Kind of Fate
(Windy City Magic #2)
Author: Crystal Cestari
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

GREAT. I’ve somehow found myself tangled up with a siren, a mermaid, and a hom-icidal wicked witch who once tried to strangle me to death. Way to go, Amber!

Amber Sand, legendary matchmaker, couldn’t be more surprised when her arch nemesis, Ivy, comes asking for her help. Ivy’s sister, Iris, is getting married, and Ivy wants to prove her sister is making a huge mistake. But as Amber looks into Iris's eyes, there doesn’t seem to be a problem—Iris has clearly found her match.

It seems happily ever after is in the cards, but when Iris seeks out a dangerous, life-altering spell, it’s up to Amber and Ivy to set aside their rivalry and save the day.

While Iris is willing to put everything on the line for love, Amber continues to wrestle with her own romantic future. Her boyfriend, Charlie, is still destined for another, and no matter how hard she clings to him, fear over their inevitable breakup shakes her belief system to the core.

Because the Fates are never wrong—right?

The Sweetest Kind of Fate picks up where we left off. Amber is much more comfortable with her inabilities as a witch and her ability as a matchmaker. Although she continues to struggle with in her relationship with Charlie and seeing his “True” match.

I like Amber. She is your typical teenager, working towards her dream of getting into Culinary school. Which she really does work hard at it, having three jobs that keep her busy but help her for experience toward her goal. I still like her close relationship with her mom. Maybe they don’t always see eye to eye. Mainly the amount her mom reveals about her past to her. Even though she might not be talking about it, they are able to have a conversation where her mom says, hey this is something I don’t want to talk or tell you about.

Lots more teen angst. As Amber struggles with her friendship with her boyfriends match. She finds herself pulling away. Unable to deal with the constant visions that feel like they are being thrown in her face. I don’t think you can really blame her on how hard that can be. It also strains her friendship with bff Amani. I felt like everything happening though was a natural course. You could see where everyone was coming from in the situation. Yes maybe there is some overreacting but it wasn’t out of the realm of normal human emotions. It was all very natural.

I like this books other plot. Which is dealing with the supernatural transformation of a siren to a mermaid. There is of course drama involved in because of who is making the transformation. Also the resurgence of nemesis Victoria. So there is a bit of mystery involving that, especially tying into her mother’s past.

I love Amani. I would love to see a book featuring her POV. I think it would be really interesting.

The Sweetest Kind of Fate is a great mix of witchcraft, cuteness and drama. I really enjoyed this installment.

With rainbows in my hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world.

My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Fol-low Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.

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• Prize: 1 finished copy of THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE by Crystal Cestari
• Starts: 2/12
• Ends: 2/23
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Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

Title: Sightwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Published: February 13th 2018 by Tor Teen

Set a year before Truthwitch, Sightwitch follows Ryber Fortiza, the last Sightwitch Sister as she treks deep underground to rescue her missing best friend. While there, she encounters a young Nubrevnan named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he wound up inside the mountain. As the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, and as they brave one close call after another, a tentative friendship forms between them—one that might one day grow into something more.

Sightwitch is told through Ryber’s journal entries and her sketches, as well as through supplementary materials (such as other journals, pieces of songs, clippings from history books, flashbacks, etc.). Though meant as a companion novella, this story serves as a set up to Bloodwitch as well as an expansion of the world

Sightwitch was freaking amazing and it’s not like I didn’t expect it to be, because I did. I actually procrastinated reading because I knew I wouldn’t want it to be over.  It’s a shorter book but it had me wrapped around it's little finger. I loved every character and learning about this bit of the Witchlands.

This story is set prior to Truthwitch and gives us such a great insight into the Sightwitch sisters history as well as all of the Witchlands history. I enjoyed all the Sightwitch sisters and learning about them through different journal entries. Of course I also loved The Rook too.

I’m obsessed with Ryber. I love her, maybe even more than I love Iseult and Vivia. I want to reread the first books in her POV. She is just an awesome character. I can’t gush enough about her! She makes me laugh that she is such a rule follower and she is also smart, clever and witty. Her interactions with Tanzi and Kullen make me want to say can you be my friend too? Love love her.

Kullen! When he first meets Ryber their interactions are perfect!

I also really liked reading the entries for Eridysi. Sightwitch adds so much to the rest of the series. So many things!! I loved getting this little bit of history from a thousand years ago. It was so interesting!!

The World Building is solid and it happens in such a small space when you think about it. The Covenant and the Mountain are our backdrop. These places were so flushed out though and they came vibrantly to life in my mind through the illustrations and descriptions. It made me love the style that this book is written in even more. I love the Witchlands. I always feel like I’m in a video game and I love feeling that way. Although the skull spider thing just kept making me think of Skulltulas that are in Zelda, I’m pretty sure that’s not what they look like but I couldn’t get it out of my head. I'm always a fan to see what creature is going to come out of the woodwork, or ice in this case. The Shadow Wyrms are freaky!!

I could gosh about this book all day. I really loved it and what it adds to the series. It makes it that harder to wait for Bloodwitch but it also made me want to reread Truthwitch and Windwitch to catch all the things I probably didn’t the first time. Especially armed with this new information.

I’ve come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, I got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (I’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before I settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

I’m the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the New York Times bestselling Witchlands books, Truthwitch and Windwitch, and if I’m not writing, then I’m busy slaying darkspawn or earning bruises at the dojo.

I live in the Midwestern US with my French husband, two spoiled dogs, and two grouchy cats. Learn more about me and my cookie-addiction on the blognewslettertwitter, instagram, or pinterest.

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

Title: Shadowsong (Wintersong #2)
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

As a note. The Author’s note actually gives a trigger warning for Self-harm, Addiction, Reckless behaviors and Suicidal ideation.

I’m not even sure what I was expecting going into Shadowsong from Wintersong. I had loved Wintersong and I was actually okay with the ending. Sometimes I don’t mind seemingly loose ends. I feel Shadowsong really does a great job of wrapping up the ending in a way that makes sense.

The plot had a slow start for me. I was frustrated with both Liesel and Josef. Josef was being such a jerk and Liesel, well it felt like she was a shadow of the kick butt girl I remembered from the first book. She is so clearly wrapped up in her struggle to leave behind the Underground and the Goblin King that she is completely unaware of things happening around her. There is a point where things change and the book picks up in all the ways it needs. Once the Countess and Count enter the picture things get more interesting.

This book is more about Lisel and Josef and their relationship then it is about Lisel and the Goblin King. Although he is not completely absent either. Again I was frustrated with Josef for being a jerk but it was interesting to see Lisel see herself from Josef’s eyes. Despite my frustrations with her, she actually experiences quit a bit of growth. To see the things she has done and how that has affected others. Kathe and Francois felt a bit under used as characters but they also still have a presence.

There is more insight into what Der Erlkonig’s own really means. We also get to delve more into the history of the Goblin King and the first bride. I found those aspects really contributed to the understanding of the world as a whole. I was excited to learn more. I loved the way the pieces slowly fit together and eventually will reveal what makes the Goblin King, the Goblin King.

The writing is lyrical and haunting. Almost like you are lost in the pages of a song. You can still feel how much music is a part of everything. Since it’s such a special part of Lisel, Josef and the Goblin King. I’m glad that it didn’t fade from the first book.

I enjoyed the book. I really like how things were wrapped up in the end.

S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the NYT bestselling author of Wintersong.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

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• Prize: 1 copy of Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (US Only)
• Starts: 2/4
• Ends: 2/16
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American Panda by Gloria Chao

Title: American Panda
by Gloria Chao
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 6th 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

I loved American Panda. It’s such a great insight into Taiwanese-American culture. I really loved getting to know and understand Mei’s family, as well as experiencing her finding that balance between tradition and the things she wants for her own life.

I loved Mei. She is bright and funny and just someone I wish I was friends with. I felt bad that she feels like she had to hide her aversion to germs. Which is another reason she struggles with the career path her parents have chosen for her. She has a love of dance and the arts and also math. She might be frustrated with her family but she truly loves them.

The book deals a lot with what it is like to move to another country with different values then what you are raised. As well as with different eras and moving forward with the times. My grandparents were immigrants from Lithuania and there was certain things I found I could relate to. It’s easy to judge someone else’s family without understanding where they are coming from. My grandma came to America at 16 with no parents and pretty much no belongings. She was lucky to have family here already but her outlook on the world was just different. She often put me down, thinking that it would make me work harder. She also thought my oldest brother was the only one that mattered. Strange ideology yes but it made me understand Mei better. I loved learning about Mei’s family and their traditions. Yes Mei’s mom wants her to be a doctor and marry well but you really get to see why. Why does her mother want these things for her, how does the culture and traditions influence that. I just felt like there is so much depth to the storytelling in that respect.

Mei’s relationship with her mother is a big focus. We get to see how it changes and evolves in the book as Mei is trying to find her voice. She doesn’t want to hurt her parents, especially her mom and you see her struggle with this. She does appreciate what they have done for her, but also sees a different perspective of what they are expecting from spending time Xing.

The voicemails and the information about why certain chapter numbers are missing add to the story.

The MIT setting is so much fun. Especially since Gloria Chao is a graduate of the school herself. It made it feel like you were getting a secret inside view. I loved all the different lingo that MIT students have for things and all the different things they do. It made me miss college a little.

Mei and Darren’s relationship is the cutest thing ever. They are adorably awkward! I enjoyed reading about their relationship. It made me smile. I think family is more the focus of the book than romance is but there are definitely those little cute parts slipped in. This is really her first experience being independent, even if she frequently sees her mom.

American Panda is such a great story! I really loved everything about it.

Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. AMERICAN PANDA is her debut novel, coming out February 6, 2018 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

Gloria currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out.

Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at and find her on Twit-ter @gloriacchao.

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• Prize: 1 finished copy of AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao
• Starts: 1/31
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