Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

Title: Carols and Chaos
Author: Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: October 9th 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

A lady's maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.

1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady's maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He's performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate's holiday guests.

Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue. Full of sweetness, charm, and holiday shenanigans, Carols and Chaos is perfect for fans of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey.

Nothing to get you in the Yuletide spirit like a little love and mystery. Carols and Chaos is a fun YA Historical Fiction that falls in line with its predecessors for delivering that good feeling.

So for the me the plot got off on a little bit of slow start. I think we were more focused on the introduction of characters and time for Matt and Kate to become a little more acquainted. Once the mystery started to really shine through the pace picked up and I felt more into the story.

I loved that once we really get into the thick of the mystery, the story was both still suspenseful but fun. There are definitely moments where you think oh no but also has comedy weaved in throughout.

I loved Kate and Matt. They had such a natural chemistry right from the start and their exchanges were both witty and sweet. I also love how Kate is the type of character who knows who she is and just exudes awesomeness out of her pores. I really liked her. Matt is the kind of guy you want to hang out with, like ya that guy, he’s good people.

I love that it’s a historical fiction at Yuletide time. I used to work at a historical village and I loved dressing up and working in the Mansion at Christmas. We would make these awesome orange/clove ball ornaments that made my fingers bleed (pushing whole cloves into oranges is not easy) and the place would be decorated up with the greens. So it reminded me of that and it’s such a great warm feeling.

So this story is a spin-off of Suitors and Sabotage but you do not need to read that to read this. If you are looking for your comfort book for the Holiday this is definitely one I can recommend.

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.

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This Mortal Coil & This Cruel Design by Emily Suavada

Title: This Cruel Design
Author: Emily Suvada
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Genre: Young Adult -- Science Fiction

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

Review For This Mortal Coil

Wow, so This Mortal Coil is packed full of Coding, DNA, hacking, suspense, apocalyptic world, twist and turns. I both couldn’t put it down and had to take a break sometimes. It was a great story and loved how easy it was to understand the Science parts of it.

So in the world of This Mortal Coil everyone is fitted with a panel in their arm that pretty much acts like how you would picture futurist VR worlds to work. You can do everything from texting/calling to changing what you look like and downloading an app to heal yourself. Despite all of this, Mother Nature still finds it’s way in and people have retreated to underground bunkers do to a breakout of a plague called Hydra.

There is lots of talk about DNA, coding and hacking systems. I never once found any of it confusing. It was actually really interesting and written in a way that I felt was easy to understand. You might not grasp every concept perfectly but you get the jist of it enough to understand what is happening. I really loved learning about the characters and what makes them all tick. In a DNA respect and through the panels in their arms.

So the plot is very fast paced and a curvy road to get to the end. There were plot twist throughout, so much so that I don’t want to talk about anything. I’m afraid I would give something away. What we do know and that is important is that Catarina plays an important role in finding the Vaccine for Hydra.

Again I loved the characters. I thought they were all super interesting, from their background to their motivations for their actions. I can’t wait to see where they go in the future. Catarina most of all, is very cool. Really, she’s brilliant and savvy yet even though she lives for code, still keeps her compassion. She is not a robot or a slave to technology.

Review for This Cruel Design wow. This Cruel Design is an amazing sequel to This Mortal Coil but I almost wish I had written my review while reading. So much happens!!!!! So much!!!! Again Emily Suavada takes on a journey that is fast paced and interesting.

Crap...okay. There is no good way to talk about the book without giving away too much so I’m not going to delve into the plot too much. We pick up right where This Mortal Coil leaves off and Cat is trying to reconcile all that she has learned with all that she knows. Yet she knows there are still so many more mysteries about herself and Lachlan that she has to uncover. As well as, understanding where Jun Bei fits into everything. When it looks like the virus might not be as dead as they thought. The characters are once again on a course to save humanity as they know it.

So we do meet some new characters that bring some perspective on the past lives of the experimental children. As well as fill in some missing pieces for Cat. Again I really like how these stories explore different ideologies about merging tech into our lives. From one spectrum to the other. How far are you willing to be modified? I liked nothing was forced on you as being wrong but let you see why people chose the different ways to live. It was super interesting.

Again I love how Suavada makes what could be confusing topics, coding and DNA, and makes them easy to understand. I never felt like I was lost or confused. I could follow the thought pattern to what each person was trying to accomplish.

I love the writing and I love the story. I don’t know how I’m supposed to wait for the next book. Not after everything that has happened. I felt a little thunderstruck at the end, but in a good way. Like, wait, what?? I’m so excited to continue on.

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

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Prize: 2 copies of This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada (USA only)
Starts: 10/22/18
Ends: 10/31/18

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West by Edith Pattou

Title: West
(East #2)
Author: Edith Pattou
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

In the sequel to the beloved high fantasy East, Rose sets off on a perilous journey to find her true love when he goes missing in a thrilling tale of danger, magic, adventure, and revenge.

When Rose first met Charles, he was trapped in the form of a white bear. To rescue him, Rose traveled to the land that lay east of the sun and west of the moon to defeat the evil Troll Queen. Now Rose has found her happily-ever-after with Charles—until a sudden storm destroys his ship and he is presumed dead. But Rose doesn’t believe the shipwreck was an act of nature, nor does she believe Charles is truly dead. Something much more sinister is at work. With mysterious and unstoppable forces threatening the lives of the people she loves, Rose must once again set off on a perilous journey. And this time, the fate of the entire world is at stake.

So I read East and West together so I feel like I’m still stuck in the world. Ha ha. I did really enjoy the stories and I loved the way they are written. Both books are fast paced and interesting, with something always happening.

So when I started reading West, I didn’t read the description so I wasn’t even sure if it was going to be a continuation of Rose and Charles story or maybe Neddy would be more in the front row. As soon as I started to read about Charles getting on the ship, I thought, oh no Charles not again. Poor poor Charles.

So in East I had loved the lure/superstitions about the birth direction and I wished Arne could make me my own Wind Rose. In West I really loved the Wind magic. I thought it was so creative the way that it is made a part of the story. It’s the kind of magic that seems natural and makes sense. I really enjoyed it being a part of the story.

Just like East, the story is told in alternating perspectives and the way that Edith Pattou is able to keep the story moving by doing this is impressive. You are never confused and annoyed by the writing style, I think it really keeps the story going and makes it more interest. Plus Pattou’s writing just has that lyrical Fairy-Tale quality to it that makes you feel kind of dreamy while reading. I really liked the plot as well and the way there are different elements that you recognize from other stories.

I love the characters! I had a fondness for the Fairy-tale Snow White and Rose Red when I was a kid. I’m not even sure why, to be honest. So I found myself instantly being drawn to the White Bear and Rose. Rose is just so fearless, clever and kind. She’s that person that you want to be friends with. Charles is just, oh poor Charles, he’s just a good guy so you find yourself rooting for him. I enjoyed Estelle but I wasn’t as connected to her as much as Neddy and Seb. Everyone in the story has their own special personality that makes you love them.

If you like Fairy Tales this story is perfect for you. It’s not a retelling, it’s definitely it’s own thing but the way it’s written is just very magical. I had my eye on East for a very long time and I’m glad I finally read them.

Edith Pattou is the author of several fantasy novels, including East, an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. She is a graduate of the Francis W. Parker School, Scripps College (B.A., English), Claremont Graduate School (M.A., English) and UCLA (M.L.I.S.). She is married to Charles Emery, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University. They have one child, a daughter.

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Prize: 1 finished copy of WEST by Edith Pattou
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Starts: 10/16
Ends: 10/31

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Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Title: Shadow of the Fox
Author: Julie Kagawa
Expected publication: October 2nd 2018 by Harlequin Teen

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

Shadow of the Fox is an amazing adventure story. I loved everything about it, I already want to read it again.

I loved every character. There was something unique about each of them but our main characters Yumeko and Tatsumi are truly fascinating.

Yumeko is half Kitsune and for some reason I love Kitsune. I think it’s just from different manga/anime I have read and watched. I like foxes more than I like dogs. So I’m not that fond of Inu. I don’t know, but it really brings this cool aspect to her character. Especially compared to Tatsumi. People who know what Yumeko is, view her differently because of her Kitsune Yokai side. They don’t always give her a chance. She grew up in a temple with monks, so she is naive but I’m not sure necessarily innocent. She knows there are bad things in the world but just hasn’t really experienced them. It’s interesting those like Tatsumi who can’t see who she is, think of her as being a sweet innocent girl. If he knew what she was, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. When really she is still the same sweet innocent girl too.

Tatsumi is such a complicated character!!! I mean is he bad or good. Really it depends on your definition. He does his job and he’s been taught/beaten into having no emotions because it won’t just jeopardize himself to do an unbiased job. It could also spell death for the world if the demon takes over.

I love a story that involves travel and characters collecting a party along the way. I love how different personalities can both clash and compliment others. Bringing out the best and worst of characters. Even though Kage Tatsumi and Yumeko are the heart of the story. I loved Okami, who reminds me so much of Mugen from Samurai Champloo, it made me happy. Although he is quite his own character. He brings some much needed comic relief to some very serious and sometimes a little gory run ins. Daisuke is just delightful in his own way. I also hope Reika continues to have a presence.

The other thing I really really love about this story being more on the quest side is the smaller stories built inside. Like maybe a village has a mystery to be solved or maybe some creatures need to be freed. Tatsumi and Yumeko find themselves helping people along the way, intentionally or not. Plus all of the Japanese Mythology that is weaved into the story in so many ways. I loved reading it.

That ending……..ahhhhhh I can’t wait for the next book. I wasn’t ready to stop journeying with the characters yet! I can’t wait until we can continue on and more things come to be revealed. So if you enjoy a story with an Anime/Manga vibe, filled with awesome mythology and adventure. This is the story for you.