Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Crown of Embers by Rae CarsonCrown of Embers by Rae Carson

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
eBook: 416 pages
Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: September 18, 2013

Series: Fire and Thorns #2

Source: Borrowed from Friend

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

I have a confession. While, I was greatly looking forward to reading this book I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. My problems with book one stemmed from the fact that our main character, Elisa, relied heavily on God for her power despite the fact that she discovered the power to lead within herself. I didn’t like the religious reliance even though it wasn’t shoved down my throat. While book two pulls back on it, it’s still there. But it wholly disappears in the second half of the book to give way to a story that had me freaking out and proclaiming my love in the middle of a Starbucks.

There was a lot of political maneuvering in the beginning and that is, perhaps, what made it so slow for me. The second half of the book began with that epic adventure that we expected Carson to deliver after reading book one and that’s what made this book nearly unputdownable. It just took a while to get to that point. We picked up shortly after book two where Elisa’s own political allies are turning against her and her people are rioting. There have been several attempts on her life and just as many people want her dead as those who want her to live. Characters from the past blast back into her life and her most trustworthy friends seem to be doing nothing but hurting her. And worst of all, she is being forced to search for a proper suitor and husband to ally her war-riddled country with someone else. It’s all rather great, and it holds your attention, but it just can’t keep you glued to the page until over two hundred pages into the book. That’s what makes the beginning feel so long and the amazingness that is the epic adventure pass by all too quickly.

But what I really loved about this book were two story arcs in particular: Elisa’s journey to being a proper queen and Hector. Elisa acknowledges that she’s been a weak ruler and she truly wants to be better. Hints of a powerful woman shine through at certain parts of the book and you can’t help but think, “I’d want this girl to be my queen if I was forced to subject to one.” It’s a huge emotional and psychological step up from book two.

And Hector. Oh, how I love you so. You and your newly lacking mustache are absolutely amazing and I love you. A lot. With all of my heart. Seriously. These two had a romance that began in book one with cute side-long glances and such. Now, their interactions are all the more frustrating because they remain cute. Yet these two are entirely devoted to each other and supremely passionate. I love every minute of this romance--the way one should progress.

This high fantasy is epic. It really is. It left me reeling and highly anticipating book three, though I don’t want to say goodbye to this series or this amazing world or even these amazingly well written characters just yet. Full of many surprises I couldn’t even hint at because of major spoilers, this book is one that you should definitely read. This series is worth continuing because the surprises are limitless and this book promises you the most epic epic of all time to take place in book three. Simply put, Rae Carson is a genius.

Lili

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson


I have a confession. While, I was greatly looking forward to reading this book I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. My problems with book one stemmed from the fact that our main character, Elisa, relied heavily on God for her power despite the fact that she discovered the power to lead within herself. I didn’t like the religious reliance even though it wasn’t shoved down my throat. While book two pulls back on it, it’s still there. But it wholly disappears in the second half of the book to give way to a story that had me freaking out and proclaiming my love in the middle of a Starbucks.


There was a lot of political maneuvering in the beginning and that is, perhaps, what made it so slow for me. The second half of the book began with that epic adventure that we expected Carson to deliver after reading book one and that’s what made this book nearly unputdownable. It just took a while to get to that point. We picked up shortly after book two where Elisa’s own political allies are turning against her and her people are rioting. There have been several attempts on her life and just as many people want her dead as those who want her to live. Characters from the past blast back into her life and her most trustworthy friends seem to be doing nothing but hurting her. And worst of all, she is being forced to search for a proper suitor and husband to ally her war-riddled country with someone else. It’s all rather great, and it holds your attention, but it just can’t keep you glued to the page until over two hundred pages into the book. That’s what makes the beginning feel so long and the amazingness that is the epic adventure pass by all too quickly.


But what I really loved about this book were two story arcs in particular: Elisa’s journey to being a proper queen and Hector. Elisa acknowledges that she’s been a weak ruler and she truly wants to be better. Hints of a powerful woman shine through at certain parts of the book and you can’t help but think, “I’d want this girl to be my queen if I was forced to subject to one.” It’s a huge emotional and psychological step up from book two.


And Hector. Oh, how I love you so. You and your newly lacking mustache are absolutely amazing and I love you. A lot. With all of my heart. Seriously. These two had a romance that began in book one with cute side-long glances and such. Now, their interactions are all the more frustrating because they remain cute. Yet these two are entirely devoted to each other and supremely passionate. I love every minute of this romance--the way one should progress.


This high fantasy is epic. It really is. It left me reeling and highly anticipating book three, though I don’t want to say goodbye to this series or this amazing world or even these amazingly well written characters just yet. Full of many surprises I couldn’t even hint at because of major spoilers, this book is one that you should definitely read. This series is worth continuing because the surprises are limitless and this book promises you the most epic epic of all time to take place in book three. Simply put, Rae Carson is a genius.


Lili

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"When I'm not writing" with Philippa Ballantine

Philippa Ballantine I'm so excited about today's guest because I think her work is absolutely brilliant. Philippa Ballantine writes two series that I thoroughly enjoy. She's here to celebrate the release of the final Book of the Order, HARBINGER, which comes out today. This series is really great fantasy and I strongly recommend it (though I am one book behind right now). She also co-authors the fantastic Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk series with Tee Morris, a lovely series with great work building and excellent characters. I hope you'll enjoy getting to know the talented Ms. Ballantine a bit better!

WINW_logo

In Harbinger, indeed in all the Books of the Order, the Rossin is the most feared geistlord in the Empire. His usual form is a giant spotted cat, similar to a lion, with a mane, but even taller than our great cats. His presence is impossible to ignore, and more than that he can also transform into a winged variation and a sea form…all still with the huge cat body. Above all, he is very, very dangerous, and looks on humanity as merely meat. At first everyone thinks he is only a wild beast, but as the books progress he does seem to have a plan of his own.

I have not seen my version of the Rossin (who claims to be a pedigree Siberian) take any other forms but this could be because he spends so very much of his time lounging around the house. Still look at the expression in that face…I am sure there is a deadly killer in there somewhere.

Rossin 1

Who am I kidding; the greatest danger from him may be getting excessively covered in fur…or is does he have some other strange plan? I have my suspicions.

I know the mini Rossin is always watching me, especially when I work. Sometimes it is a little unnerving to turn around and have those gold eyes fixed on me like I am made of shrimp.

Rossin 2

Then he claims to be helping me with my work, but I have my doubts, as all too often I find him ‘helping’ with the editing like this. I hope he isn’t commenting on the quality of my writing. As they say ‘everyone’s a critic, but the Rossin is the worst of all’.

Rossin 3

He’s also developed a habit of trying to crawl into my lap all the time. That wouldn’t be a problem, except I am usually trying to write on…my laptop. I feel a definite conspiracy coming on.

Or maybe it is more like revenge for my favorite season…cat hat season…commonly referred to as Halloween. The mini Rossin for all his savagery has one real issue, he freezes in shock. Yes, you put a hat on him and he stands stock still. This makes for excellent photo opportunities, which only encourages me to keep clicking.

Rossin 4

I know I am taking my life in my hands, but he is a handsome devil. I am sure he is looking forward to cat hat season this year again. I will just have to sleep with one eye open.

Because you never know where the Rossin is…or when he may strike. That’s the danger of inviting the wild in to live with you, but it is a danger I embrace.

Rossin 5

Rossin 6

---------------------------------

Thanks for such a great post, Philippa! I love the second last picture. He's too cute! =)

For more information about Philippa and her books, check out her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

You can also check out the other stops on the tour (scroll down to the bottom of the page):

Harbinger tour banner

---------------------------------

Here's the scoop on HARBINGER:

Harbinger by Philippa Ballantine (Book of the Order #4)The Deacons of the Order are all that stand between the wicked spirits of the Otherside and the innocent citizens of the Empire. They are sworn to protect humanity, even when they cannot protect themselves…

After the Razing of the Order, Sorcha Faris, one of the most powerful Deacons, is struggling to regain control of the runes she once wielded. The Deacons are needed more desperately than ever. The barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead is weakening, and the Emperor has abandoned his throne, seeking to destroy those he feels have betrayed him.

Though she is haunted by the terrible truth of her past, Sorcha must lead the charge against the gathering hordes of geists seeking to cross into the Empire. But to do so, she will need to manipulate powers beyond her understanding—powers that may prove to be her undoing…

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Here are the earlier books in the series with their gorgeous covers. You can check out my thoughts on Geist by clicking on it.

Geist by Philippa Ballantine (Book of the Order #1) Spectyr by Philippa Ballantine (Book of the Order #2) Wraith by Philippa Ballantine (Book of the Order #3)

---------------------------------

Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favorite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!

Authors, would you like to visit and share with us? Please email me at jennblogs (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!

Jenn

"When I'm not writing" with Philippa Ballantine

Philippa BallantineI'm so excited about today's guest because I think her work is absolutely brilliant. Philippa Ballantine writes two series that I thoroughly enjoy. She's here to celebrate the release of the final Book of the Order, HARBINGER, which comes out today. This series is really great fantasy and I strongly recommend it (though I am one book behind right now). She also co-authors the fantastic Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk series with Tee Morris, a lovely series with great work building and excellent characters. I hope you'll enjoy getting to know the talented Ms. Ballantine a bit better!


When I'm not writing

In Harbinger, indeed in all the Books of the Order, the Rossin is the most feared geistlord in the Empire. His usual form is a giant spotted cat, similar to a lion, with a mane, but even taller than our great cats. His presence is impossible to ignore, and more than that he can also transform into a winged variation and a sea form…all still with the huge cat body. Above all, he is very, very dangerous, and looks on humanity as merely meat. At first everyone thinks he is only a wild beast, but as the books progress he does seem to have a plan of his own.


I have not seen my version of the Rossin (who claims to be a pedigree Siberian) take any other forms but this could be because he spends so very much of his time lounging around the house. Still look at the expression in that face…I am sure there is a deadly killer in there somewhere.


Rossin1-262x350


Who am I kidding; the greatest danger from him may be getting excessively covered in fur…or is does he have some other strange plan? I have my suspicions.


I know the mini Rossin is always watching me, especially when I work. Sometimes it is a little unnerving to turn around and have those gold eyes fixed on me like I am made of shrimp.


Rossin2-275x228


Then he claims to be helping me with my work, but I have my doubts, as all too often I find him ‘helping’ with the editing like this. I hope he isn’t commenting on the quality of my writing. As they say ‘everyone’s a critic, but the Rossin is the worst of all’.


Rossin3-275x205


He’s also developed a habit of trying to crawl into my lap all the time. That wouldn’t be a problem, except I am usually trying to write on…my laptop. I feel a definite conspiracy coming on.


Or maybe it is more like revenge for my favorite season…cat hat season…commonly referred to as Halloween. The mini Rossin for all his savagery has one real issue, he freezes in shock. Yes, you put a hat on him and he stands stock still. This makes for excellent photo opportunities, which only encourages me to keep clicking.


Rossin4-261x350


I know I am taking my life in my hands, but he is a handsome devil. I am sure he is looking forward to cat hat season this year again. I will just have to sleep with one eye open.


Because you never know where the Rossin is…or when he may strike. That’s the danger of inviting the wild in to live with you, but it is a danger I embrace.


Rossin5-275x225


Rossin6-261x350


---------------------------------


Thanks for such a great post, Philippa! I love the second last picture. He's too cute! =)


For more information about Philippa and her books, check out her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


You can also check out the other stops on the tour (scroll down to the bottom of the page):


Harbinger-Banner-450-x-169-275x103


---------------------------------


Here's the scoop on HARBINGER:




Harbinger-216x350The Deacons of the Order are all that stand between the wicked spirits of the Otherside and the innocent citizens of the Empire. They are sworn to protect humanity, even when they cannot protect themselves…


After the Razing of the Order, Sorcha Faris, one of the most powerful Deacons, is struggling to regain control of the runes she once wielded. The Deacons are needed more desperately than ever. The barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead is weakening, and the Emperor has abandoned his throne, seeking to destroy those he feels have betrayed him.


Though she is haunted by the terrible truth of her past, Sorcha must lead the charge against the gathering hordes of geists seeking to cross into the Empire. But to do so, she will need to manipulate powers beyond her understanding—powers that may prove to be her undoing…


Read an excerpt


Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository



Here are the earlier books in the series with their gorgeous covers. You can check out my thoughts on GEIST by clicking on it.


Geist by Philippa Ballantine (Book of the Order #1)Spectyr by Philippa Ballantine (Book of the Order #2)Wrayth by Philippa Ballantine (Book of the Order #3)


---------------------------------


Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favorite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!


Authors, would you like to visit and share with us? Please email me at jennblogs (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!


Jenn

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans

The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans (Mystwalker #1)The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 368 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's
Release date: December 24, 2012

Series: Mystwalker #1

Source: Review copy from publisher

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

My name is Hedi Peacock and I have a secret. I’m not human, and I have the pointy Fae ears and Were inner-bitch to prove it. As fairy tales go, my childhood was damn near perfect, all fur and magic until a werewolf killed my father and the Fae executed my mother. I’ve never forgiven either side. Especially Robson Trowbridge. He was a part-time werewolf, a full-time bastard, and the first and only boy I ever loved. That is, until he became the prime suspect in my father’s death…

Today I’m a half-breed barista working at a fancy coffee house, living with my loopy Aunt Lou and a temperamental amulet named Merry, and wondering where in the world I’m going in life. A pretty normal existence, considering. But when a pack of Weres decides to kidnap my aunt and force me to steal another amulet, the only one who can help me is the last person I ever thought I’d turn to: Robson Trowbridge. And he’s as annoyingly beautiful as I remember. That’s the trouble with fate: Sometimes it barks. Other times it bites. And the rest of the time it just breaks your heart.

Again…

I have seriously mixed feelings about THE TROUBLE WITH FATE. There are things I really admire about Evans' debut and there are things that really bugged me. I don't often have such strong love/hate feelings about books so I'm a little confused about how to react to this book. But any book that sparks strong feelings -- even polarizing ones -- is definitely worth talking about!

Let's start with the good. There is some great worldbuilding in THE TROUBLE WITH FATE. Hedi is half-Were, half-Fae and it makes for some interesting inner turmoil. Hedi pretty much denies her Were heritage and she's not a very strong Fae, except when it comes to mystwalking. She's good at that, though untrained, but it's a dangerous power and she has no one to teach her since her family is pretty much all gone. I really like stories that have the main character(s) discovering things about themselves and Hedi's journey with respect to her powers was quite interesting.

I also appreciated how real the stakes were in THE TROUBLE WITH FATE. Evans doesn't shy away from serious (and sometimes gruesome) consequences and that's another thing I appreciate. Serious stakes suck me in and there are points in THE TROUBLE WITH FATE were folks were in serious peril and taking major damage.

Evans also injects some really humorous moments in the story, which was great. Comedy is always welcome in my world, particularly when there are so many serious scenes in the novel. And Evans strikes a nice balance between action, drama, and comedy, which takes a lot of talent. In fact, her writing style really worked for me and I did really enjoy THE TROUBLE WITH FATE as a whole.

And now for the not so good: There were points in the book where I really, really didn't like Hedi. She kept harping on how she's not the ideal size because she's plump and how she is much in the looks department and I found it really depressing. She hates how she looks, rather than embracing her different body type. I appreciate Evans featuring a character who isn't a statuesque, gorgeous creature but I'd much prefer it if Hedi wasn't always down on herself. There are curvy women in literature who embrace their shape, the most famous example probably being Anita Blake, and I much prefer Laurell K. Hamilton's approach to a curvy heroine, which is to say it's okay. Anita is admittedly not plump but she does have a refreshingly sensible approach to her body. There's enough stuff about bad body image in the media and I don't want a main character who's constantly putting herself down because she's not some sort of glorified ideal.

THE TROUBLE WITH FATE is very much the beginning of Hedi's tale and I'm looking forward to THE THING ABOUT WERES, despite my issues with aspects of Hedi's personality. The writing and overall story of THE TROUBLE WITH FATE is more than enough to have me curious about the next installment in the Mystwalker series, particularly since THE TROUBLE WITH FATE ends with something of a cliffhanger. (Main storylines are resolved but larger ones emerge, much like in a Secret McQueen novel.) I have a review copy of THE TROUBLE WITH WERES downloaded and ready to roll so you can be sure I'm going to dive back in Hedi's world. I can't wait to see what Evans has come up with next.

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

Jenn

disclaimer_thumb[2]

The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans

I have seriously mixed feelings about THE TROUBLE WITH FATE. There are things I really admire about Evans' debut and there are things that really bugged me. I don't often have such strong love/hate feelings about books so I'm a little confused about how to react to this book. But any book that sparks strong feelings -- even polarizing ones -- is definitely worth talking about!


Let's start with the good. There is some great worldbuilding in THE TROUBLE WITH FATE. Hedi is half-Were, half-Fae and it makes for some interesting inner turmoil. Hedi pretty much denies her Were heritage and she's not a very strong Fae, except when it comes to mystwalking. She's good at that, though untrained, but it's a dangerous power and she has no one to teach her since her family is pretty much all gone. I really like stories that have the main character(s) discovering things about themselves and Hedi's journey with respect to her powers was quite interesting.


I also appreciated how real the stakes were in THE TROUBLE WITH FATE. Evans doesn't shy away from serious (and sometimes gruesome) consequences and that's another thing I appreciate. Serious stakes suck me in and there are points in THE TROUBLE WITH FATE were folks were in serious peril and taking major damage.


Evans also injects some really humorous moments in the story, which was great. Comedy is always welcome in my world, particularly when there are so many serious scenes in the novel. And Evans strikes a nice balance between action, drama, and comedy, which takes a lot of talent. In fact, her writing style really worked for me and I did really enjoy THE TROUBLE WITH FATE as a whole.


And now for the not so good: There were points in the book where I really, really didn't like Hedi. She kept harping on how she's not the ideal size because she's plump and how she is much in the looks department and I found it really depressing. She hates how she looks, rather than embracing her different body type. I appreciate Evans featuring a character who isn't a statuesque, gorgeous creature but I'd much prefer it if Hedi wasn't always down on herself. There are curvy women in literature who embrace their shape, the most famous example probably being Anita Blake, and I much prefer Laurell K. Hamilton's approach to a curvy heroine, which is to say it's okay. Anita is admittedly not plump but she does have a refreshingly sensible approach to her body. There's enough stuff about bad body image in the media and I don't want a main character who's constantly putting herself down because she's not some sort of glorified ideal.


THE TROUBLE WITH FATE is very much the beginning of Hedi's tale and I'm looking forward to THE THING ABOUT WERES, despite my issues with aspects of Hedi's personality. The writing and overall story of THE TROUBLE WITH FATE is more than enough to have me curious about the next installment in the Mystwalker series, particularly since THE TROUBLE WITH FATE ends with something of a cliffhanger. (Main storylines are resolved but larger ones emerge, much like in a Secret McQueen novel.) I have a review copy of THE TROUBLE WITH WERES downloaded and ready to roll so you can be sure I'm going to dive back in Hedi's world. I can't wait to see what Evans has come up with next.


Read an excerpt (scroll down)


Jenn

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Charm & Strange by Stephanie KuehnCharm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 224 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Psychological
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: June 11, 2013

Series: n/a

Source: Gifted

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

I picked up this book expecting an intense werewolf novel. And while it was intense, it is perhaps the most unique werewolf novel I have ever read. At its heart, this story is a psychological mystery that had me begging for more. The story is honest, it’s powerful and harsh and true. It deals with insanity and problems and the concept of werewolves on top of everything in a mere 220 pages. It makes you want to bawl your eyes out when you turn the last page and the beautiful writing style really resonates with you. But it leaves you with a lot of questions and ninety percent of the time you have absolutely no clue what is going on. Sheer curiosity is what kept me going--that and the beautiful writing style--but if you don’t have a keen sense of curiosity and a desire to read perhaps one of the most unique books I have ever come across, this can easily be a DNF for some.

This book is told between alternating past and present perspectives of the same boy, but it is blatantly obvious that he is living two completely lives. Andrew Winston Winters is both Drew and Win. Put the two together and you have one seriously messed up kid whose story is captivating and his blatant desire to allow his inner wolf and darkness to escape is astounding. Drew is a young boy who is overwhelmed with anger and dark, inappropriate thoughts when he spends the summer with his older brother and cousins with his grandparents. Win is a lonely teenager at a boarding school who is hiding dark, horrifying secrets that shaped who he is today because of his unsettling childhood. He’s intriguing, complex, and disturbing--all of which combine to create this deliciously dark character whose mind is so interesting to be inside.

Never have I tackled a book who handled insanity in such a way. From the very beginning it’s clear that he’s disturbed and insane. He’s struggling blatantly in so many different ways. But you have to sit throughout the book and piece through his past and present, his odd memories and even stranger dark urges in order to figure out what is going on. Is this the way he was born? Does he have a real issue? Is the werewolf inside him waiting for his proper moon to come out turning him into a ruthless being? Is his life full of hallucinations or dark truths that nobody else is willing to acknowledge and conquer?

The entire point of this story is to discover who Andrew Winston Winters is. Boy, werewolf, psychopath, struggling and lonely teenager. So many different sides to dissect. And all the confusion and insanity found in the beginning of the book comes together in the very end to tell us who he really is, and it is shocking. It is earth-shattering, breathtaking, the tears are a-flowin’ unexpected and powerful. Andrew Winston Winters is one complex being and the eventual discovery in the last few chapters makes the confusion of the beginning so, so worth it. All questions are sufficiently answered and, boy, do you want to feel for this kid.

This book is one to look out for if you can handle a psychological mystery that can pull your heartstrings in all different directions. I was perhaps slightly put off at moments because I wasn’t expecting how dark this book could get. I had to put it down at times to ease my beating heart and take a few deep breaths because of the pain I felt for these characters. But, wow, is this a brave and unique debut. It will stand apart from so many other novels. And though it’s just short of perfect in my eyes, it was damn amazing either way.

The ending, guys. The ending of this book is what makes it unforgettable.

Lili

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

I picked up this book expecting an intense werewolf novel. And while it was intense, it is perhaps the most unique werewolf novel I have ever read. At its heart, this story is a psychological mystery that had me begging for more. The story is honest, it’s powerful and harsh and true. It deals with insanity and problems and the concept of werewolves on top of everything in a mere 220 pages. It makes you want to bawl your eyes out when you turn the last page and the beautiful writing style really resonates with you. But it leaves you with a lot of questions and ninety percent of the time you have absolutely no clue what is going on. Sheer curiosity is what kept me going--that and the beautiful writing style--but if you don’t have a keen sense of curiosity and a desire to read perhaps one of the most unique books I have ever come across, this can easily be a DNF for some.


This book is told between alternating past and present perspectives of the same boy, but it is blatantly obvious that he is living two completely lives. Andrew Winston Winters is both Drew and Win. Put the two together and you have one seriously messed up kid whose story is captivating and his blatant desire to allow his inner wolf and darkness to escape is astounding. Drew is a young boy who is overwhelmed with anger and dark, inappropriate thoughts when he spends the summer with his older brother and cousins with his grandparents. Win is a lonely teenager at a boarding school who is hiding dark, horrifying secrets that shaped who he is today because of his unsettling childhood. He’s intriguing, complex, and disturbing--all of which combine to create this deliciously dark character whose mind is so interesting to be inside.


Never have I tackled a book who handled insanity in such a way. From the very beginning it’s clear that he’s disturbed and insane. He’s struggling blatantly in so many different ways. But you have to sit throughout the book and piece through his past and present, his odd memories and even stranger dark urges in order to figure out what is going on. Is this the way he was born? Does he have a real issue? Is the werewolf inside him waiting for his proper moon to come out turning him into a ruthless being? Is his life full of hallucinations or dark truths that nobody else is willing to acknowledge and conquer?


The entire point of this story is to discover who Andrew Winston Winters is. Boy, werewolf, psychopath, struggling and lonely teenager. So many different sides to dissect. And all the confusion and insanity found in the beginning of the book comes together in the very end to tell us who he really is, and it is shocking. It is earth-shattering, breathtaking, the tears are a-flowin’ unexpected and powerful. Andrew Winston Winters is one complex being and the eventual discovery in the last few chapters makes the confusion of the beginning so, so worth it. All questions are sufficiently answered and, boy, do you want to feel for this kid.


This book is one to look out for if you can handle a psychological mystery that can pull your heartstrings in all different directions. I was perhaps slightly put off at moments because I wasn’t expecting how dark this book could get. I had to put it down at times to ease my beating heart and take a few deep breaths because of the pain I felt for these characters. But, wow, is this a brave and unique debut. It will stand apart from so many other novels. And though it’s just short of perfect in my eyes, it was damn amazing either way.


The ending, guys. The ending of this book is what makes it unforgettable.


Lili

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves {66}

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!

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

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I have quite a few books to show you, but unfortunately life got in the way this week and I couldn’t record my vlog. I’ve had an incident at work that’s been stressing me out (but every should be fine!) and I’ve been busy packing because as you read this, I’m on my way to camp with my family. It’s a 3 hours ride, and Lily-Ann has motion sickness, so I hope she’ll be fine *knocks on wood*.

On a side note, I will be moving the blog to wordpress most likely by the end of August, and I want to give you a heads up. It shouldn’t change anything for you, unless you follow us via blogger feed, but the day(s) of the actual transfer the blog might be wonky, but I’ll notice you at the time :)

Now here’s the linky so you can share what you added to your shelves, I promise I’ll show you my goodies next week!

tynsig

Stacking the Shelves {66}

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!

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

------------------

I have quite a few books to show you, but unfortunately life got in the way this week and I couldn’t record my vlog. I’ve had an incident at work that’s been stressing me out (but every should be fine!) and I’ve been busy packing because as you read this, I’m on my way to camp with my family. It’s a 3 hours ride, and Lily-Ann has motion sickness, so I hope she’ll be fine *knocks on wood*.

On a side note, I will be moving the blog to wordpress most likely by the end of August, and I want to give you a heads up. It shouldn’t change anything for you, unless you follow us via blogger feed, but the day(s) of the actual transfer the blog might be wonky, but I’ll notice you at the time :)

Now here’s the linky so you can share what you added to your shelves, I promise I’ll show you my goodies next week!

tynsig

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole

Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark, #9)

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release date: February 16, 2010

Series: Immortals After Dark #9

Reviewed by: Tynga

Source: Personal Shelf

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Kresley Cole enraptures again with this seductive tale of a fierce werewolf prince who will stop at nothing to protect the lovely archer he covets from afar.

A Dangerous Beauty
Lucia the Huntress: as mysterious as she is exquisite, she harbors secrets that threaten to destroy her—and those she loves.

An Uncontrolled Need
Garreth MacRieve, Prince of the Lykae: the brutal Highland warrior who burns to finally claim this maddeningly sensual creature as his own.

That lead to a pleasure so wicked...
From the shadows, Garreth has long watched over Lucia. Now, the only way to keep the proud huntress safe from harm is to convince her to accept him as her guardian. To do this, Garreth will ruthlessly exploit Lucia's greatest weakness—her wanton desire for him.

Garreth has been waiting for his mate for centuries, hoping she would prove to be a challenge, and Lord was he served! Never would he have thought that his mate would come in the form of a Valkyrie sworn to chastity. How is a wolf suppose to claim his mate without having sex? More determined than ever, MacLain will chase her across the world for months before he actually gets a chance. But is Lucia willing to sacrifice all that she is for him? Highly doubtful!

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole is the ninth book in the series and it’s always a pleasure to come back to these characters that have grown on me overtime. This particular novel’s storyline actual starts before the events of the first book (where Lachlain meets Emmaline) and I enjoyed reliving these moments from a new perceptive. It’s also quite funny because while I was reading Garreth’s story, my mom was reading Lachlain’s story, so we were both reading the same time period in the series from different perspectives. This story takes place over the course of over a year, thus many books in the series, and I always appreciate the intricate way miss Cole weaves her stories together.

I particularly liked this instalment because even though it’s never a done deal for Cole’s characters to be together, this couple faced the biggest challenges thus far. Garreth will suffers indescribable pain in hopes to claim his mate, promise the moon to Lucia (in a no-sex way), even submit himself to witch magic (which he despise), all with the tiniest hope that she will accept him. He suffers for over a year for her and I can’t help but bow to his strength and determination. Don’t get me wrong, Lucia isn’t torturing him for pleasure, but she is on a mission to stop the apocalypse and giving in to earthly pleasure could mean the end of the world. She remained strong in a quest to save the world and face her own nightmare and her pride wouldn’t allow her to seek help. I never particularly cared for her in previous books, and I came to like and respect her in this novel. 

The plot proved to be engaging and fast-paced, as usual, and I liked that Kresley Cole took us to mystical parts of the Amazon. The original scenery helped bring an exotic feeling to the novel, it’s like I could almost feel the heat. The whole set-up exudes a strong India Jones and Lara Croft feel as our hero set on a quest to recover a magical weapon. The conclusion was also highly surprising and I never foresaw the story enfolding the way it did.

On a side note, I must mention my undying love for Nyx. She is packed with awesomeness and really, as amazing as Kresley’s books are, it wouldn’t be the same without her craziness. I say this every review of this series, but I can’t wait for her to have her own story, or even her own POV in one of the coming books, so we can finally get a glimpse of what’s going on in that head of hers!

Immortals After Dark is by far one of my favorite paranormal romance series and I must urge you to give this series a try. It’s thrilling, engaging, smoking-hot and has an healthy dose of humour. It is bound to please you!

Read an Excerpt

tynsig

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole


Garreth has been waiting for his mate for centuries, hoping she would prove to be a challenge, and Lord was he served! Never would he have thought that his mate would come in the form of a Valkyrie sworn to chastity. How is a wolf suppose to claim his mate without having sex? More determined than ever, MacLain will chase her across the world for months before he actually gets a chance. But is Lucia willing to sacrifice all that she is for him? Highly doubtful!


Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole is the ninth book in the series and it’s always a pleasure to come back to these characters that have grown on me overtime. This particular novel’s storyline actual starts before the events of the first book (where Lachlain meets Emmaline) and I enjoyed reliving these moments from a new perceptive. It’s also quite funny because while I was reading Garreth’s story, my mom was reading Lachlain’s story, so we were both reading the same time period in the series from different perspectives. This story takes place over the course of over a year, thus many books in the series, and I always appreciate the intricate way miss Cole weaves her stories together.


I particularly liked this instalment because even though it’s never a done deal for Cole’s characters to be together, this couple faced the biggest challenges thus far. Garreth will suffers indescribable pain in hopes to claim his mate, promise the moon to Lucia (in a no-sex way), even submit himself to witch magic (which he despise), all with the tiniest hope that she will accept him. He suffers for over a year for her and I can’t help but bow to his strength and determination. Don’t get me wrong, Lucia isn’t torturing him for pleasure, but she is on a mission to stop the apocalypse and giving in to earthly pleasure could mean the end of the world. She remained strong in a quest to save the world and face her own nightmare and her pride wouldn’t allow her to seek help. I never particularly cared for her in previous books, and I came to like and respect her in this novel.


The plot proved to be engaging and fast-paced, as usual, and I liked that Kresley Cole took us to mystical parts of the Amazon. The original scenery helped bring an exotic feeling to the novel, it’s like I could almost feel the heat. The whole set-up exudes a strong India Jones and Lara Croft feel as our hero set on a quest to recover a magical weapon. The conclusion was also highly surprising and I never foresaw the story enfolding the way it did.


On a side note, I must mention my undying love for Nyx. She is packed with awesomeness and really, as amazing as Kresley’s books are, it wouldn’t be the same without her craziness. I say this every review of this series, but I can’t wait for her to have her own story, or even her own POV in one of the coming books, so we can finally get a glimpse of what’s going on in that head of hers!


Immortals After Dark is by far one of my favorite paranormal romance series and I must urge you to give this series a try. It’s thrilling, engaging, smoking-hot and has an healthy dose of humour. It is bound to please you!

Read an Excerpt


tynsig

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 316 pages
Genre: Paranormal/Horror
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release date: August 31, 2011

Series: Anna #1

Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Helen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay. Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill.

What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. Yet she spares Cas's life.
If you’re not a fan of horror and vivid imagery, you’re going to want to stay away from Anna Dressed in Blood. I had incredibly high hopes for this book, but unfortunately, the mechanics of it just left me disappointed for a few reasons.

More than anything, I’d say the one main element that Anna Dressed in Blood was missing was enough backstory. There’s a few key plot points that as readers we just have to accept. First, is that Cas is the only one around who can hunt ghosts. He doesn’t know why, and neither do we, we just have to go along with it. The second, is that Anna doesn’t want to kill Cas when he comes into her house. This one seems like the absolute most important for both characters to explore – but neither does. It’s just laid out there – and the rest of the story and their interactions all stem from this fact. It bugged me to no end that the reader gets basically no answers or explanations.

I’m just going to up and say this – I hated the romance. Sorry! It was incredibly strange, and there was no actual relationship building that we were able to see. It all seemed to happen in Cassio’s head, where we weren’t given much access to at all. Overnight, she was his Anna and his girl and he was infatuated, and the reader really didn’t get a chance to catch up with him on this.

I felt that the pacing was a bit off. There’s two basic story points in Anna Dressed in Blood – and the first takes up about 80% of the book. Which would normally be fine, except that in this case, I actually found the storyline in the remaining 20% had much more potential. It should have had more of a focal point, and lots more exploring, as I feel it’s actually the part of the story that won me over far more than the first.

The character of Anna herself was very interesting. I found I really enjoyed the tension as she tried to remember what happened to her that made her the way she is. However, the secondary characters were bland, and mostly just props to be later killed off as needed. I wanted to love Anna Dressed in Blood, I really did. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get there.


 

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

If you’re not a fan of horror and vivid imagery, you’re going to want to stay away from Anna Dressed in Blood. I had incredibly high hopes for this book, but unfortunately, the mechanics of it just left me disappointed for a few reasons.


More than anything, I’d say the one main element that Anna Dressed in Blood was missing was enough backstory. There’s a few key plot points that as readers we just have to accept. First, is that Cas is the only one around who can hunt ghosts. He doesn’t know why, and neither do we, we just have to go along with it. The second, is that Anna doesn’t want to kill Cas when he comes into her house. This one seems like the absolute most important for both characters to explore – but neither does. It’s just laid out there – and the rest of the story and their interactions all stem from this fact. It bugged me to no end that the reader gets basically no answers or explanations.


I’m just going to up and say this – I hated the romance. Sorry! It was incredibly strange, and there was no actual relationship building that we were able to see. It all seemed to happen in Cassio’s head, where we weren’t given much access to at all. Overnight, she was his Anna and his girl and he was infatuated, and the reader really didn’t get a chance to catch up with him on this.


I felt that the pacing was a bit off. There’s two basic story points in Anna Dressed in Blood – and the first takes up about 80% of the book. Which would normally be fine, except that in this case, I actually found the storyline in the remaining 20% had much more potential. It should have had more of a focal point, and lots more exploring, as I feel it’s actually the part of the story that won me over far more than the first.


The character of Anna herself was very interesting. I found I really enjoyed the tension as she tried to remember what happened to her that made her the way she is. However, the secondary characters were bland, and mostly just props to be later killed off as needed. I wanted to love Anna Dressed in Blood, I really did. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get there.


 

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pretty When She Destroys by Rhiannon Frater Blog Tour + Giveaway

PWSDTourBanner

Today, we are lucky enough to have Rhiannon Frater as a guest again, to promote her upcoming vampire novel, PRETTY WHEN SHE DESTROYS. This is the third book of her PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES series and I’ve been waiting impatiently for it. It’s being released on August 27, 2013 so make sure to mark you calendars! For the time being, check out Rhiannon’s amazing guest post down below, as well as the giveaways for your chance to win amazing prizes!

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Being Hybrid Author

By Rhiannon Frater

It’s amazing how much self-publishing has altered the publishing world in just a few years. I remember when I originally wrote As The World Dies in 2005 as an online serial the idea of self-publishing was a very foreign concept. I didn’t even think about the fact that by posting my story online I was in essence self-publishing. Honestly, I didn’t even think of my online serial as anything other than a distraction, a bit of fun. I had my eye on being published by one of the big six publishers.

Of course, I did end up self-publishing As The World Dies as a trilogy (it was too massive to be one book) in 2008. With my husband’s help and encouragement, I took my writing career firmly in hand and took a risk. I had a story, a fanbase, and the new media tools to try something radical. Brisk sales, awards, a movie option and a three book deal with genre giant Tor were the end result.

Many people assumed that once I signed on the dotted line with Tor, I would no longer self-publish. I had educated myself on the ends and out of the publishing world and realized that if I wanted to write full-time, I was going to need to continue to self-publish. Even though Tor’s deal with a huge life changer finically and it enabled me to leave my day job, I was going to have to find a way to garner additional income to keep writing full-time. The Tor advance would only reach so far and royalty checks come in sporadically.

Therefore, I became a Hybrid Author.

There are two common labels for writers:

Indie Author – Someone who publishes ALL their work themselves.

Legacy or Traditional Author – Someone who is published by a publishing house.

Since I do both of these types of publishing, I’m a Hybrid Author.

And we are a growing breed.

As the big publishers scour the Indie Author ranks for the next big thing, more and more writers are going to be bridging the two worlds. It is inevitable. It’s only wise to take advantage of the best of both worlds.

So why don’t I choose one over the other? At this time I feel both forms of publishing benefit me greatly. I thought I’d share how the two differ in my experience. (Note: other Hybrid Authors may have a different one)

  • Submissions
    • Traditional: My editor decides which book idea fits Tor and is most likely to sell. She has the inside scoop on the publishing world, so I benefit from this insight.
    • Indie: If I want to write a book, I can. Of course, I could pour my heart and soul into a book that doesn’t sell one single copy. Yet, I still have the opportunity to publish my work and test new waters.
  • Editing
    • Traditional: My editor at Tor is awesome. She has definitely helped me become a better writer and storyteller. She took a book that I wrote for fun online and worked with me until it was worthy of the bookshelves. She encouraged me to be fearless in my revision. I learned so much from her. She always tells me that I have to be happy with the editing changes, but if she disagrees she’ll let me know.
    • Indie: My Indie editor is awesome. Seriously. She kicks me in the teeth when I need it and points out issues in the story. I love it when a review points out her excellent editing skills.
  • Cover
    • Traditional: Though Tor has been kind enough to allow me to give feedback, in the end, the marketing department makes the final decision. I have been able to have things changed on the covers of the As The World Dies trilogy because my editor agreed with the suggestions.
    • Indie: Whatever I want to go on the cover, goes on the cover. It’s as easy as that. But at the same time, I am confined by my budgetary constraints.
  • Distribution
    • Traditional: Because I’m with a big publisher, my books are in most bookstores. That being said, Tor only has the English rights for North America, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. I have no control over when Tor will publish the books in ebook or paperback in those countries. I have had a lot of complaints because As The World Dies is not available in Kindle in the UK and AUS markets, but I don’t have any control over that.
    • Indie: I can distribute my books in English wherever I choose utilizing the self-publishers. Until I was with Tor, my self-published titles were not in most bookstores, though they are popping up more and more. Thanks to Createspace’s expanded distribution, bookstores can buy my indie titles and stock the shelves. Yet, I know that being published by Tor made it more likely.
  • Marketing
    • Traditional: Tor sent out advance review copies of The First Days, which put me on the radar of a lot of review blogs. Yet, I’m one of their smaller authors, so I don’t get the big money budgets with print ads, etc. I also don’t have book tours paid for by the publisher, or go to conventions on the publisher dime. (People always think this is the case).
    • Indie: I can pay for ads if I can afford them. The name recognition that Tor helped me establish with book bloggers has made it a lot more likely that bigger reviewers will sign on to blog tours. I can attend any event I chose as long as I can afford it and I can book my own book tour.
  • Advances & Royalties
    • Traditional: Tor gave me an advance for As The World Dies and Dead Spots. When the sales of those books pay back their advance, I will then receive royalties. Advances are usually cut up into chunks, so you don’t get it all at one time. Usually you get those portions at contract signing, the final revision, and publication. That’s how it works for me at Tor. Sales reports let me know how the books are doing, but it’s not very up to date information. I have yet to get a royalty check, but I anticipated I wouldn’t for a few years.
    • Indie: Of course, I don’t get an advance. After usually a 60 to 90 day initial delay, I get monthly payments from nearly all my self-publishing companies. At the end of each month, I get paid for sales in a previous month. All of this adds up to be more than my paycheck from my old full-time job at this time, but I am by no means rich. If sales fall one month, it means austerity measures sometime down the line. So far I’ve been able to stay a full-time writer since 2011, but should my indie sales fall significantly, I won’t be able to continue. The money I get from traditional publishing comes in spread out chunks with no assurances of it arriving when I need it.

As you can see, the two forms of publishing actually work hand in hand. I know my self-published titles encourage sales of my Tor books and vice versa. At this time I really enjoy being a Hybrid Author and plan to continue to be one.

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Thank you Rhiannon for the amazing guest post and your insight on the publishing world. As always, it’s been a pleasure having you here on the blog.

More about PRETTY WHEN SHE DESTROYS:

prettywhenshedestroys

Amaliya Vezorak always believed she was destined to live a failed life in obscurity until she was brutally murdered by an ancient vampire named The Summoner and reborn as a powerful vampire necromancer. Now it is up to her to save the world…

 

 

 

 

 

Other books in the Pretty When She Dies Series:

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giveaway

Giveaway #1

Rhiannon is offering a tour wide grand prize giveaway of all 3 books of the series plus the vampire jewelry in the picture below. Open to US/Canada only.

To enter the giveaway, obey the rafflecopter.

PWSD3 Prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2

Rhiannon is also offering all 3 books of the series in ebook format to one reader of Tynga’s Reviews. Open internationally.

To enter the giveaway, obey the rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the author

RhiannonRhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency. You may contact her by sending an email to rhiannonfrater@gmail.com.

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