Monday, December 31, 2012

Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

Book stats:
Reading level: Young adult
Trade paperback: 384 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: December 24, 2012

Series: Mythos Academy #4

Source: Review copy from Kensington via NetGalley

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

For a moment, a face flashed before my eyes—the most hideous face I'd ever seen. No matter how hard I tried to forget what had happened, I saw him everywhere I went. It was Loki—the evil god that I'd helped set free against my will.

I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we'd gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I'd have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn't see that one coming. I've been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan's dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I'm guilty. If I'm going to get out of this mess alive, I'll have to do it myself. . .

Warning: This post, like the book description, contains spoilers about previous entries in the series (but not CRIMSON FROST).

As you know from previous books in the series, or from reading the cover copy above, big things happened in DARK FROST, the biggest being the Loki got free with some unwilling assistance from Gwen, who was tricked by Loki's champion. Now, Gwen's facing the consequences of her actions, with the Protectorate putting her on trial. The added twist? They arrested her on her first date with Logan and Logan's dad is the leader of the Protectorate. How's that for an awkward meet-the-parents?

Most of the book deals with Gwen's trial and the ostracization she experiences after Logan's dad denounces her as a Reaper in front of the entire school. This is by far the darkest chapter in the series so far, as Gwen faces possible execution if she's found guilty. Thankfully, she still has allies, including the usual suspects (Daphne, Carson, Oliver, Logan, Metis, Nickamedes, Morgan, and her grandmother) but it's a small number in the face of all of the hatred Gwen faces since she has to continue going to school while on trial. It's so bad, in fact, that she's assigned a guard by the Protectorate. Compounding this issue is the fact that Gwen suspects someone on the Protectorate -- or someone close to a Protectorate member -- is actually a Reaper, manipulating things so that Gwen is found guilty. It's a classic mystery on some levels, which I loved, but Jennifer Estep also explores the emotional repurcussions in a very satisfying way.

The romance also goes up a notch in CRIMSON FROST, though not for long. It's so fun to see Gwen and Logan go on their first date, even though it gets interrupted. And while the trial does put a damper on their romance, sparks fly for some other characters in the book. Plus, Gwen and Logan's relationship does continue to develop as we learn more about Logan's family. It's really nice to see what makes Logan tick and we get more insights into his background and childhood than ever before. Logan fans will definitely want to read CRIMSON FROST to learn more of his story.

The introduction of the Protectorate was also really neat because we get to see more of how the world works. The first three books were very focused on Mythos Academy and its internal workings (with some insights into other schools), and now we get to see how other aspects of the universe function. I knew there had to be some sort of governing body and so I was excited to see how the Protectorate worked and how existing characters would interact with members of this body. Their judicial system is far from democratic but it's really neat. The mechanisms used for truth-telling are very original and I can't want to see what everyone thinks. (No spoilers, since the book is brand new, but you can hit me up on Twitter to chat!

Jennifer Estep has truly outdone herself with CRIMSON FROST. The Mythos Academy books are one of the few YA series that I love and this is the strongest entry yet. It's an thrilling novel that really opens up the world that Gwen and her friends live in. I'm going to go crazy counting the days until MIDNIGHT FROST!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Revelations by Daniel Diehl

diehl - Revelations

Revelations by Daniel Diehl

Book stats:
Reading level: New Adult
Mass Market paperback: 339 pages
Genre: Modern Day Fantasy/Adventure 
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Release date: December 9, 2012

Series: The Merlin Chronicles #1

Source: From the author

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Purchase: Amazon

Merlin the magician only exists in myth and legend--at least that is what archaeology student Jason Carpenter thought until he discovered the mysterious orb that housed history's greatest wizard for 1,600 years.

Forced into an uneasy alliance, Jason and Merlin are sucked into a web of deceit, intrigue and murder sending them on a chaotic race to outwit, and out run, Merlin's ancient nemesis, the evil sorceress Morgana La Fay: a gang of drug smugglers and a 500-year-old Chinese necromancer. It is a race against time to complete their quest before an army of dragons are unleashed on a vulnerable and unsuspecting 21st century world.

In The Merlin Chronicles: Revelations, Daniel Diehl has created an adventurous blend of Arthurian legend, biblical prophecy, classic wizard fantasy and contemporary urban fantasy to create a world exactly like ours -- except that Merlin and the age of magic return full-blast to battle ancient evils and save civilization.

This book first caught my attention because it promised to tell the story of the reappearance of Merlin, the famous magician we’ve probably all heard of. Most of us know Merlin from the legend of King Arthur and his knights, but I think Daniel Diehl was able to reinvent Merlin’s myth and write a story about one of the most known fictional characters. I think he succeeded in creating his own adventurous tale about Merlin, set in our modern world, while still keeping true to some of the original myth.

Although Merlin plays a major part in the novel, Jason Carpenter is actually the hero of the story. After finding a small and mysterious sphere at an archeological dig, Jason became a key player in fighting evil dragons and sorcerers. Little did he know that the sphere he found contained Merlin, whom had been in hiding for almost two centuries. As a character, I found Jason very hard to relate to. He seems almost too perfect, as if he has the answer too all the problems that arise. We barely know anything about him except that he’s from small town America and that he’s an archeology student. I think a little more history on all the characters would have been welcomed so that the readers could better understand them. Beverley, Jason girlfriend, also seems random, as if she’s just there to fill a spot because a romantic element felt necessary.

Despite my problems with the characters, I think Daniel Diehl is on to something with his Merlin Chronicles. I fumbled with the pace a little but once I read the initial scenes, the action started and the story got interesting. Some elements were hard to grasp and some elements were hard to believe, but I guess that’s why the book is classified as fantasy. The flow of some scenes were a little problematic because it felt like the author didn’t want to leave anything out. As a historian, the author probably felt compelled to describe every little detail in every scene but it felt like some of these details could have been omitted. Since this is his first dab into fiction, I think Daniel Diehl can be forgiven for this small fact.

The main character, Jason, obviously feels obligated to help Merlin in his quest to fight the main antagonist, Morgana la Fay, but I think this obligation eventually becomes a desire to help a friend. In the few scenes that concentrate on Morgana, we truly see how awful she is and we truly feel the evil coming off of her. With Morgana, I think the author succeeded in creating a wonderful, yet evil character. Dragons are also part of this story and while I’m usually a big fan of dragons, these dragons are really not my favorites for obvious reasons. Controlled by Morgana, these dragons are more or less weapons used in a fight between good and evil.

This is my first modern day fantasy so this type of book is completely new to me. I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of the genre yet but REVELATIONS seems like a good start to a series. The book will make you visit various cities an regions of the UK, and will even take you on a chilling adventure through a wintery Mongolia. Diehl has caught enough of my attention to put book two on my to-be-read list.

Read an excerpt

0stephsig

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Stacking the Shelves [36]

STSmall_thumb[2]

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Guidelines:

  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use my official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!

  • You can set your post any way you want, simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog, sky is the limit!

  • I am posting Stacking The Shelves on Saturdays, but feel free to post yours any day that fits you.

  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on Saturday and add your link so others can visit you!

  • Visit other participants link to find out what they added to their shelves!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!

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Welcome to the last Stacking the Shelves of 2012! I'd like to take a quick moment to thank everyone for participating, on behalf of all of the Tynga's Reviews family. I'd also like to wish you all happy holidays! I hope you're all enjoying some time with family and friends. I am. :) I'm at my parents' place and my brother is home from Australia so this has been a wonderful holiday so far. I've been extremely lucky on the book front since my post at the start of the month, so I have a lot to share. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of anything because I'm travelling, and I tend to buy ebooks (marked with asterisks), so I hope you'll forgive me!

For Review:

The Trouble With Fate by Leigh Evans Immortally Yours by Angie Fox The Lost by Vicki Pettersson The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse by Nina Post Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep
Pros and Cons by Jenna Black*
Awaken the Curse by Alexa Egan*
Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep*
The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans*
Immortally Yours by Angie Fox
Betrayed by Shadows by Nancy Gideon*
The Impetuous Amazon by Sandy James*
Claws Bared by Sheryl Nantus*
The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse by Nina Post*
The Lost by Vicki Pettersson*

Gifted:

Firelight by Kristen Callihan Deep Dark Secret by Sierra Dean Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
Firelight by Kristen Callihan (Thanks, Tynga!)
The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters by Sierra Dean*
A Bloody Good Secret by Sierra Dean*
Secret Santa by Sierra Dean*
Deep Dark Secret by Sierra Dean*
Grave Secret by Sierra Dean*
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Won (from the lovely Jackie over at Literary Escapism):

I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus by S. G. Browne
I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus by S. G. Browne

Bought:

Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong Ghost Story by Jim Butcher The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead Lure of the Wicked by Karina Cooper
Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews
Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong*
Forbidden by Kelley Armstrong
Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
Lure of the Wicked by Karina Cooper*
Blood of Innocence by Tami Dane*
Circle of Nine by Josephine Pennicott*
Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead*

I got all of my Secret McQueen books with a gift card. I'm really excited about these because I just finished reading SOMETHING SECRET THIS WAY COMES. (You'll see what I thought of it when my first Daring You To Read... post of 2013 goes up in a few weeks.)

So, what did YOU add to your shelves this week?




Jenn

Friday, December 28, 2012

Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Changeling (Order of Darkness, #1)Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Book Stats:
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Genre: turned out to be historical fiction
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: May 29, 2012

Series: Order of Darkness #1

Source: Personal Shelf

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.

In a world where thinking for oneself is frowned upon, Luca finds himself in deep trouble for doing just that. Given a second chance by the leader of a secret order, he finds himself on the road with two companions to investigate all forms of Evil. Sent to inquire in a nunnery where the nuns are going crazy, he will meet with the mysterious Abbess, and their lives will never be the same.

I picked up Changeling for three main reasons. First, I fell for its gorgeous cover, second I heard great feedback from bloggers I follow and third, I know Philippa Gregory is acclaimed for her historical romance. I have to confess, I did not enjoy this novel. I was under the impression this novel would have a paranormal twist to it and I was completely misled by the summary. “The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers (part of the summary)” – that just isn’t true, it should say “The four young people encounter what seems to be werewolves and witches but were proven wrong as they take a moment to investigate”. So yeah – no paranormal element what-so-ever. A big disappointment for me.

Another reason why I disliked this novel… The romance, or should I say lack there-of? “Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe” another quote from the summary… And truthfully, I didn’t see any growing love. The interaction between the two can barely be called flirting, even by historical standards. So by the end of the book I was thinking, no paranormal, no romance, why did I read this book again? Oh yeah, the summary was a big pile of lie =/

Now if you like purely historical novel, you might find yourself enjoying Changeling. It’s very true to my perception of the 1400s and the attitude and character speech seems adequate. The influence of the church in the storyline is some-what interesting and the plot line was good even though it had a weird pace. I liked that Luca doubted the information he got, and took time to process it and offer a fair judgement.

The one stellar point for me in this novel was Freize, Luca’s servant. He was funny, quick-minded, smart and romantic. If it wasn’t for this character, I don’t think I would’ve finished the novel.

I must say I was baffled by the end, because it’s not really an end. The four characters live a first subplot at the nunnery, hit the road and face another subplot in a village, hit the road again and it just finishes that way. No cliff-hanger and suspense of any kind that would push the reader the purchase the next novel, I thought it was weird.

All that being said, Changeling wasn’t a book for me and I’m really sad the summary was so misleading. If you like historical novel with a shadow (a very small one at that) of paranormal then you might find yourself enjoying this book. I’m afraid I won’t pick up the sequel.

Read an excerpt

tynsig

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Daring You To Read…. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

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Daring You To Read is a weekly feature here on Tynga’s Reviews where we dare you to read some of our favorite older releases (at least 6 months old). All the books/series we choose to feature are titles we adored and think you should give them a shot! We think it’s a super awesome way to discover that special book who might have slipped off your radar!

You’ve already read the book? Let’s us know what you thought!
You are accepting the dare? We’d love to know!
Have a dare of your own? Leave a comment ^^

This week I am daring you to read Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers because the release of the second book, Dark Triumph, is coming soon (well in April… but I’m so anxious!) and I can’t stop thinking about it. Now would be a great time to get your hands on it so you’ll be ready for the second instalment!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers was definitely one of my favourite reads on 2012 and I find it hard to convey my love for it in just a few sentences so I have to invite you, beg really.., to go on and read my review.

If you are in a hurry though, I would say that this high fantasy world was like nothing I’ve read before and its originality will sweep you off your feet. Ismae is the daughter of Death himself roams Brittany (Great Britain) punishing the guilty. Her Faith will be tested in more than one way and her heart will also be challenged by the mysterious Duval. If you like castles, conspiracies and secret love, you will be hooked onto LaFevers’ every word, I promise you!

About Grave Mercy:

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Upcoming book:

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)

So, will you take the dare?

tynsig

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed

Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 368 pages
Genre: Gothic Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release date: October 1, 2012

Series: The Amber House Trilogy #1

Source: Borrowed form a Friend

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

"I was sixteen the first time my grandmother died . . ."

Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that's been in her family for three centuries. She's never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she's never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for lost diamonds in its walls.

But all of that is about to change. After her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds--and the house comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the house's past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. She grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when the visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the house's secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.

I’m normally very careful with reading books by more than one author. I feel like most of the time you can tell that two different people are telling you a story because everyone has their own unique and defined writing style. But I found AMBER HOUSE to be both fascinating and intriguing and never once did the writing style trip me up. It was constant throughout the novel and easily immersed me into a world full of history.

The concept of the book is great. Sarah sees the huge house that runs in the family called Amber House and the millions of dollars worth of historical antiques inside its wall for the very first time after her Grandmother’s funeral. But while there, she began experiencing what she learned her Grandmother referred to as echoes. The females in her family all have a certain gift where if they touch certain objects, they’re transported into the past to relive memories that took place in this very house. From bouts of insanity and illegal slave trading, the house is full of dark mysteries and hidden secrets.

As a humanities girl, I really enjoyed learning about history through the book, but the problem is that sometimes the explanations evolving around historical backgrounds got a bit too longwinded. Paragraphs upon paragraphs is a little too much history and not enough story for me. I often found myself skimming the long explanations to get back to the main plot of exploration and learning about ones past. I think the book would have been slightly better if there was more focus on character development than unnecessarily long historical explanations. I also think that the book could have done without its love triangle. Though barely existent, it didn’t much add to the story at all, though it wasn’t bothersome to me either. It was just there when it didn’t need to be.

All in all, I enjoyed this one, but I know it’s not for everyone. It’s for those who really, truly love history, but don’t go into it expecting a historical fiction. You can learn about America’s past, especially the era evolving around slavery, but the emphasis on history isn’t for everyone. This is recommended to those who really enjoy history in school (like me) and prefer reading about slight mysteries over romance.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope you guys are all having a wonderful time :) Have fun and be safe!

Merry Christmas from Tynga’s Reviews family!

Jenn0stephsigtynsig

Monday, December 24, 2012

Leashing the Tempest by Jenn Bennett

Leashing the Tempest by Jenn Bennett Leashing the Tempest by Jenn Bennett

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
e-book: 60 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Pocket Star
Release date: December 17, 2012

Series: Arcadia Bell #2.5

Source: Review copy from author

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Dating a demon, defeating evil, running a tiki bar: Arcadia Bell is a great occult mage in many respects. But then there’s the challenge of her boyfriend’s precocious teenage son…

Arcadia “Cady” Bell may have saved the Hellfire Club’s children from a local bogeyman, but she and her Earthbound demon boyfriend, Lon Butler, now face a more disturbing problem: his teenage son’s new demonic abilities. Jupe Butler can persuade you to do anything—or so he thinks.

To test the limits of his newfound power, Cady invites the co-owner of Tambuku Tiki Lounge to be the teen’s guinea pig during an afternoon boat cruise. But when an angry storm whips the Pacific into a frenzy and Jupe puts them all in serious danger, will Cady’s magick trump a teenager’s excess confidence?

Jenn Bennett leapt onto my radar in 2012 with KINDLING THE MOON, the first book in the Cady Bell series and also her debut novel. It's a wonderful series, filled with awesome world building, ribald humour, not-so-ribald-but-equally-entertaining humour, strong relationships, and one very dashing moustache, which is nicely referenced in this mini-novella.

When I first heard about the premise of LEASHING THE TEMPEST, my brain immediately starting singing The Lonely Island's "I'm On A Boat". And then I started picturing Jupe and Cady singing it...It's a slippery tangential slope so I'm going to get back to the matter at hand: the awesomeness that is Jenn Bennett and the world and characters she's created! And then I saw this after writing my post and realized that I wasn't the only one. :D

But back to the matter at hand. LEASHING THE TEMPEST has everything I love in a Cady Bell story in a very nice 60-page package. It's the perfect read to tide you over until May, when BINDING THE SHADOWS is released. And even though LEASHING THE TEMPEST is only 60 pages long, it's a very satisfying story. I sometimes have length complaints with novellas because they feel unfinished but LEASHING A TEMPEST is like a cake pop: small but extremely delicious. And it's suitable for existing fans and new readers because Jenn Bennett does an excellent job of explaining the world Cady and co. live in, and because the characters come alive and you can see their bonds quite clearly.

The story itself is a lot of fun, too. Cady, Lon, Jupe, and Kar Yee are going on a private boat ride so that Lon can take pictures and Jupe can test his demonic knack on Kar Yee is a safe environment. Of course, these guys can't go anywhere without something unfortunate happening so they quickly find themselves threatened by an unnatural storm, thanks to some bad decisions made by certain characters who will remain unnamed to keep things interesting for those of you who haven't tried this novella yet. There are some shocking moments and I loved the way the story ended.

For me, the best part of the novella was getting more Kar Yee time. She's one of my favourite characters in the series and her interactions with Jupe, who is completely infatuated, are absolutely hysterical. I would totally read a spin-off story featuring the two of them on some sort of madcap adventure. It would be like Batman and Robin, if Batman had a sense of humour and a sense of entitlement, and if Robin upped his slavish devotion just a touch.

If you're looking for a last-minute present that's a definite winner (and quite affordable for you at only $0.99 US), gift your loved one (or passing acquaintance) a copy of LEASHING THE TEMPEST. It has moustaches and romance and yachts, oh my!

P.S. I love how the cover of LEASHING THE TEMPEST echoes the colours in the first Cady novel.

P.P.S. In case you didn't get my earlier reference, here is the very NWFW version of The Lonely Island's "I'm On A Boat":

Jenn

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

 

beth fantaskey - jessica's guide to dating on the dark sideJessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Hardcover: 354 pages
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: February 1, 2009

Series: Jessica #1

Source: Gifted

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository 

The undead can really screw up your senior year ...

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

JESSICA GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE is a nice young adult take on vampires. It’s actually quite refreshing because the novel is not overly sexual as some vampires novels tend to be. It’s therefore suitable for younger teenagers, as well as the young adults, and the not so young adults among us. It’s a novel about a young woman’s coming of age in a normal American setting and then her life is completely transformed when she learns that she’s from a long line of vampire royalty, from Romania. An actual vampire princess!

Beth Fantaskey’s writing is very easy to read  and the flow of her story is very well paced. The only thing I didn’t like about the writing is, even though the story is written in the first person, the narrator Jessica still places her thoughts in italics. Personally, I don’t think that’s necessary since every word narrated is from her point of view anyways.

The Jessica character is very believable since she represent many high school girl with her incertitude concerning romantic relationships and feelings. Her fondness for math and science makes her a good role model and I really enjoyed how Jessica rationalized the existence of vampires with mathematical theorems. Her reaction, when she learns she’s a vampire-to-be, is realistic and true to her character. Despite her denial, she’s a very curious person and she tries to learn as much as she can before coming to any conclusion about vampires, like any true scientist would do. Lucius, Jessica’s fiancé from early childhood, is a little less believable. I think the author tried just a little too hard to forge him into a perfect European boy and personally, I find the result wasn’t satisfactory. He does have some qualities that shines through however. For example, he demonstrated throughout the book how he can be very good for Jessica’s self-esteem and overall, makes her feel worthy and proud of her vampire lineage. I think I might be a little to harsh when it comes to judging his character, but it’s probably because I enjoyed reading about Jessica so much more.

Despite its normal length, there’s quite a lot that happens in this book. A marriage proposal, a horse jumping competition, formals, and an assassination attempt are among the many things that unfold.You won’t get bored with this story, that’s for sure. Obviously the first book from a series, the author left the story unfinished. I wish I could have learnt more about the series’ vampire lore and more about the vampire characters living in Romania. I’m just glad I can read the second book right away since it’s already out, and everyone can read a online novella which is set between book one and book two and which contains an obvious spoiler. Even if it won’t make my top books of the year, I really did enjoy Jessica’s story. This high school drama might not be for everyone, but if you do enjoy a light YA vampire novel, give Jessica a try!

Read an excerpt

0stephsig

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stacking The Shelves [35]

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Guidelines:

  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use my official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!

  • You can set your post any way you want, simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog, sky is the limit!

  • I am posting Stacking The Shelves on Saturdays, but feel free to post yours any day that fits you.

  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on Saturday and add your link so others can visit you!

  • Visit other participants link to find out what they added to their shelves!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!

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Hey, everyone! I had an awesome time doing this week's STS post because I was able to do it with my best bloggy friend, Nicole! The video of us making fools of ourselves is so long (only 16 minutes!) that it couldn't upload to youtube and blogger can't support it as a file from my desktop, so unfortunately I just have pictures since I don't have enough time to get it to youtube. :( Bummer, right?

This week I was able to get my last few Hanukkah books, so it was pretty awesome and full of contemporaries. I hope everyone has an amazing Christmas!

Gifted from my Parents for Hanukkah:

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Secret Santa

Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer (Thank you, Ashley!)

Trade

Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman (Thank you, Leanne!)

For Review

Timeless by Alexandra Monir
Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir

Bought

Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi (e-novella, yay!)

What did YOU add to your shelves this week?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Falling Kingdoms Tour–Interview with Morgan Rhodes

If you’ve read my review, you know I LOVED Falling Kingdoms, so I’m super happy to welcome Morgan Rhodes for an interview on the blog today!

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Falling Kingdoms was one of my favorite read this year, how hard was it for you to write high fantasy, as opposed to your previous novels?

Thank you so much! I wouldn’t really say it was “hard” as much as it was a challenge. I have written contemporary paranormal and urban fantasies before this, so I was well-versed in “fantasy.” Taking this fantasy and putting it into a completely imaginary world, plus giving it a medieval flavor, was something that took a lot of forethought, research, and worldbuilding before I even wrote a single word of the plot, but I was definitely up for this challenge!

The lore you created was particularly enticing, how did you come up with the Goddesses idea?

The goddesses (two rival goddesses that represent two elements each – one fire and air, the other water and earth) who existed a thousand years before the events in Falling Kingdoms were an essential part of the worldbuilding – the religion! I wanted to show that one kingdom, Limeros, still wFalling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)orshipped regularly (in fact, it’s kind of forced on them by their king), while the rival kingdom, Auranos, has strayed from religion, mostly due to their easy lives and affluence. This is contrasted with the middle kingdom, Paelsia, which doesn’t worship any deity. The lore of the goddesses in book one is mostly background, but I promise it will play a large part in future books, especially when it comes to the mythology of the immortal Watchers.

I particularly loved how your narration allowed to view each character from multiple perspectives, was it the main reason why you chose third person narration?

Originally, I considered writing the book entirely from Princess Cleo’s POV, but ultimately decided that the world of Falling Kingdoms was a very large canvas to paint on and limiting things to one character’s viewpoint would prevent me from showing readers what is going on in other parts of the story. It became a multiple viewpoint story out of necessity – and I’m glad I went in this direction! I think this definitely sets FK apart from other YA fantasy novels…and in a good way, I hope!

Did you have a favorite character when writing the book?

All of the characters have their merits, but my two favorites to write in Falling Kingdoms (and again in the sequel) are Princess Cleo – since she has a good heart and a brave soul that she’s only beginning to discover…her character arc is more of a roller coaster! Also, Prince Magnus – who is so dark and conflicted and sarcastic, and he likes to ignore my outline and do his own thing. I never know what to expect from him!

Can you tell us a bit about the next novel, Rebel Spring? I’m so anxious to read it!

Well…. it’s book #2 of the Falling Kingdoms series and will be out Fall 2013. What? You want more? LOL! Thing get off to a wild start in Rebel Spring, so even telling you what happens in chapter one would be a mega spoiler. I’ll just say that it picks up the story about three weeks after Falling Kingdoms ends. In Rebel Spring I also introduce a couple new characters who will directly impact the characters readers have already met in ways both good and bad. Also, there will be some unexpected twists which I hope will delight readers – but they also might also be a little bit mad at me. ;)

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Thank you so much Morgan for taking the time to answer my questions! I can’t wait to get my hands on Rebel Spring!

tynsig

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Book stats:
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Genre: Fantasy
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: December 11, 2012

Series: Falling Kingdoms #1

Source: Penguin Canada

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

Kingdoms once united are now split by their faith and the state of their land. Auranos is envied for its riches. Limeros is on a decline oppressed by its blood-craving King and its freezing land.Paelsia is worst for the case for its crop-less frozen territories and its citizens dying from hunger. In the middle of it all, are a handful of teenagers, from all three territories, restless in this near-war atmosphere.

What an awesome novel by Morgan Rhodes a.k.a. Michelle Rowen. I was first attracted by the amazing cover, because I'm a sucker for YA high fantasy, but I was hooked from the prologue! Morgan did a brilliant job bringing to the table magic, mystery and powerful writing. Right from the start, I found myself hanging onto Rhodes’ every single word. She skilfully introduced a handful of stunning characters and the way she alternated her third person narration between each character not only allowed us to discover their perspective, but also to see them via the eyes of each teenager. I say it was the work of a genius. I really came to care for each character and was surprised to sometimes be influenced by the narrators point of view.

If I had to pick a favourite character I’d have a really hard time because they were all likeable in their own way. Princess Cleo from Auranos is determined and good-hearted even though she is perceived as a spoiled bitch (his words, not mine) by Jonas. The latter is a peasant from Paelsia, blinded by grief but with good intentions (saving his folks). I really pitied Magnus, the Prince of Limeros, for the way everyone treats him, but I loved the way he protects Lucia, his sister. Lucia is full of surprises and I can’t wait to know more.

The plot progressed at a steady pace, and even though we don’t really know where Morgan is taking us, you can’t help but stay on the edge of your seat, dying from the suspense. I will say, the novel isn’t heavy action, but the slow boiling war in the making is enough to maintain a high anxiety and excitement level.

About two third into the novel the story took a dramatic turn and I got teary-eyed on more than one occasion. The tragic ending was a promise of adventure and the teenagers will need to show strong character if they want to survive what's to come. I am extremely anxious for the sequel, Rebel Spring, and I have no idea how I am going to wait so long!

Original and compelling, this engaging fantasy series will sure please fans of Maria V Snyder and Kristin Cashore!

Read an Excerpt

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Daring You To Read...White Tiger by Kylie Chan

Daring you to read

Daring You To Read is a weekly feature here on Tynga’s Reviews where we dare you to read some of our favorite older releases (at least 6 months old). All the books/series we choose to feature are titles we adored and think you should give them a shot! We think it’s a super awesome way to discover that special book who might have slipped off your radar!

You’ve already read the book? Let’s us know what you thought!
You are accepting the dare? We’d love to know!
Have a dare of your own? Leave a comment ^^

This week, I'm daring you to read a book I just discovered: WHITE TIGER by Kylie Chan. I've seen her books in the store before but it took me a while to pick her first book up. Now that I have, I'm so excited that there are six more instalments available right now!

Set primarily in Hong Kong, WHITE TIGER is steeped in Chinese mythology and martial arts. It's the first book in the Dark Heavens trilogy, a series of books that follows Emma Donahoe, an Aussie working in Hong Kong as a nanny for John Chen, a very rich businessman. Her days are filled taking care of John's daughter Simone but it doesn't take long for Emma to realize there's more to John, Simone, and their household than at first glance. There may also be more to Emma than any of them realized (including Emma herself) and we get to accompany Emma as she learns all about the hidden world of Chinese shen (gods/spirits) and begins to practice wudang.

I would consider this book to be urban fantasy but it's not as fast-paced as what you typically see in the genre these days. Instead, things are slowly revealed, letting the reader learn about this world in a very digestible manner. As much as I love an edge-of-your-seat-thrill-ride, I really appreciated the more moderate pace of WHITE TIGER since there's a lot of mythology that I wasn't familiar with. The author delivers it in very manageable bits, and always just enough that you have to know more! Even now, having finished the book, I feel like there is so much more to learn about this incredible world.

If that's not enough, Emma is also an atypical UF heroine. She's an Aussie in Hong Kong, working as a teacher and tutor, who eventually becomes a full-time nanny, not the usual career path we see in the genre. She's also slightly overweight, has average looks, and doesn't have any powers, just a keen mind and a good heart. Watching her fall in love with Simone and her father was lovely. Watching her figure out what exactly goes on in John's life was awesome because Emma's just so on the ball. She may be a newbie in the world of magic and demons but she's quick to understand the implications, and brave enough to stand by John and Simone when it would be much easier to run.

And then there's John. He is a very cool character. Because WHITE TIGER is told through Emma's eyes, we get to know John as she does and he is excellent. He's got so much depth and tragedy. I loved it but I don't want to say too much so that you can have the same sense of discovery I did!

WHITE TIGER is full of wonderful characters, amazing world building, and the promise of even greater things to come. I really do hope I've convinced you to give WHITE TIGER a try. I've put the rest of the trilogy on my Christmas wish list so here's hoping they're under the tree later this month. If not, you'll find me at the bookstore in the "C" section on Boxing Day!

Want more? I bet you do! Here's the cover copy for WHITE TIGER:

White Tiger by Kylie ChanACTION, INTRIGUE, DEMONS AND DRAGONS

Kylie Chan creates a fast and furious story balanced between the celestial and the mortal, the powerful and the innocent ...

Emma Donahue has just started her new job as nanny to Simone, the daughter of John Chen, a very rich Hong Kong businessman. She understands that Simone may be a target for kidnappers but she does not expect to be drawn into a world of martial arts, magic and extreme danger, where both gods and demons can exist in the mortal domain.

When John and his American bodyguard, Leo, teach Emma their particular style of martial arts, they begin to realise that Emma herself is more than she seems ...

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

And here's the rest of the trilogy:

Red Phoenix by Kylie ChanBlue Dragon by Kylie Chan

If that's not enough, there's also a subsequent trilogy, Journey to Wudang:

Earth to Hell by Kylie ChanHell to Heaven by Kylie ChanHeaven to Wudang by Kylie Chan

And a prequel novella featuring Gold:

Small Shen by Kylie Chan

What do you think? Have you read this series? Are you willing to accept my dare?

Jenn