Tuesday, April 30, 2013

City of Bones Official Trailer

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)

 

OMG! I was thrilled when I first learn the Mortal Instruments would be made into a movie so many months ago and even though I dislike the actor they choose to play Jace I'm extremely excited about the movie. The official trailer is not out and it’s giving me goose bumps! It looks amazing! Here, see for yourself!

So what do you think?

The movie releases in August so there is still time for you to read the book first!

tynsig

"When I'm not writing" with Kelly Meding

Kelly Meding The talented Kelly Meding is joining us this week for "When I'm not writing"! She's the author of the urban fantasy Dreg City series and the superhero series MetaWars. She's here today to promote the upcoming third MetaWars novel, TEMPEST, which builds on the two previous novels in the series, TRANCE and CHANGELING. Please join me in warmly welcoming Kelly to the blog!

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I'm half tempted to complete the sentence with "…I feel like I should be writing." Because that's very, very true. I suppose it's part of trying to balance writing with working a full-time job. I tend to feel guilty when I'm doing something else besides writing. But since that would make for a very short, very boring blog post, I do actually have a few hobbies that I occasionally find time to indulge in.

One of those hobbies is making jewelry. I've been dabbling in this for years. I grew up in a very crafty family. My aunt sews, scrapbooks, and crotchets. My mother can sew and knit. My grandmother was also a knitter. I'm pretty good with a sewing machine (I even made a corset once!), but I never picked up on knitting. My crafty habits skew away from fabric and thread. Over the years I've played around with ceramics painting, candle making, and glass painting.

The one hobby that's stuck around since high school, though, is jewelry. Jewelry is my thing, and it's one of the ways I express myself. I have two jewelry boxes worth of funky earrings, wild necklaces, rings shaped animals, and all kinds of bracelets. Most of these are store-bought, but my own pieces are sprinkled in here and there.

The majority of what I make is pairs of earrings. I still own the first pair I ever crafted:

Kelly Meding Earrings 1

I made these when I was in junior high. I found the gems in a tourist trap store in the Smokey Mountains during a family vacation. All I did was attach them to French hooks. They're twenty years old now, those earrings, and I still love them.

This is my work area:

Kelly Meding work space

All of those plastic containers? Yeah, you can guess what's in them. Lots and lots of beads, gems, findings, and other random things I've decided will one day make fun jewelry.

Did you know packs of wine charms are great for earrings?

Kelly Meding earrings 2

And bits of pins and broken jewelry can be repurposed into a necklace?

Kelly Meding necklace

I don't get to sit down and make things as often as I'd like to nowadays, but I still collect items to use in the future. I pick them up at yard sales, flea markets, and in the bargain bins at Michael's. One day they'll become something beautiful.

Thank you for listening to me ramble! And a big thanks to Tynga for inviting me to be a part of this!

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Thanks for stopping by, Kelly!

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

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Here's the scoop on TEMPEST:

Tempest by Kelly Meding (MetaWars #3)The public doesn’t trust them. The government wants to control them. Being a superhero has never been this hard, especially for Tempest.
Two months after the discovery of the powerful, non-Meta Recombinants, the former Rangers—Meta-powered humans dedicated to preserving the peace—have made no progress in uncovering the newcomers’ origins, or convincing the public to trust them. Newly powered Metas are popping up and causing trouble, while the former Banes—Metas who harm humans and create chaos—show no inclination that they even want to leave the island prison of Manhattan. With a presidential election looming, the hot political debate is all about Meta rights—and whether they deserve to have any.

Still haunted by the murder of so many in the Meta War fifteen years earlier, Ethan “Tempest” Swift accepts an assignment in Manhattan, working with a team that’s interviewing Banes to determine which are still threats and which have reformed. But Ethan has a personal reason for going to the island as well. Armed with questions for the Bane who just might be his father, Ethan’s quest for answers is interrupted by an unexpected assault on the island. Forced to side with old enemies to uncover who's responsible for the devastating attack, Ethan begins to question more than just his past—he questions his place in defending a world that sees him as its enemy.

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon

Here are the earlier books in the series. Click on the cover of TRANCE for my thoughts:

Trance by Kelly Meding (MetaWars #1) Changeling by Kelly Meding (MetaWars #2)

And here's Kelly's other series. Click on THREE DAYS TO DEAD to see Tynga's thoughts.

Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding (Dreg City #1) As Lie the Dead by Kelly Meding (Dreg City #2) Another Kind of Dead by Kelly Meding (Dreg City #3) Wrong Side of Dead by Kelly Meding (Dreg City #4)

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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, April 29, 2013

Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster + giveaway!

Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 448 pages
Genre: Steampunk romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release date: May 7, 2013

Series: London Steampunk #2

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

In the mist-shrouded streets of London’s dreaded Whitechapel district, werewolves, vampires and a clockwork army are one step away from battle…

Lena Todd is the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a rebel against London's vicious elite—not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can't twist around her little finger.

Will Carver, is more than man, he's a verwolfen and he wants nothing to do with the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds Lena in possession of a coded letter, he realizes she's in a world of trouble. To protect her, he'll have to seduce the truth from her before it's too late.

Readers who enjoyed Bec McMaster's debut can raise their expectations because HEART OF IRON is even better than its predecessor. I really liked McMaster's debut but I found myself completely absorbed by the rollercoaster of emotion and action that is HEART OF IRON. (For an introduction to the series, I'd suggest checking out my post on KISS OF STEEL.)

The main characters in HEART OF IRON were introduced in KISS OF STEEL. Lena is Honoria's sister and Will is Blade's lieutenant. I was quite fond of these characters in the first London Steampunk novel so I was thrilled to see them front and centre in this novel. (Fans of KISS OF STEEL's Honoria and Blade will enjoy a glimpse into their lives post-HEA since they are featured in HEART OF IRON (but not in a gratuitous way).) Lena and Will had something of an instant attraction when they met but Lena has since left Whitechapel and Will has moved out on his own as well, leaving Blade and Honoria to themselves. He still works for Blade but their bond isn't as easy as it used to be. They're both strong-willed, opinionated characters devoted to their friends and family, and it was great fun watching them come together romantically.

Will has a really unique position in the series. He's the only verwulfen in London, since the blue bloods (vampire-type aristocrats) kill verwulfen on site. (He's safe in Whitechapel since it's Blade's domain but he's in danger every time he leaves.) He's given a brief reprieve, though, because the blue bloods need him to help them negotiate a treaty with the verwulfen populations from other parts of Europe. At the same time, Lena has been living in high society, working as a spy and courier for the humanist movement, a group that is rebelling against blue blood rule. Of course, it wouldn't be any fun if their two missions didn't bump into each other and boy do they collide! The plotting and pace in HEART OF IRON is truly outstanding and I needed to find out how this tangled plot would be resolved.

The introduction of other verwulfen really opens up the world of the London Steampunk series. Where KISS OF STEEL explored blue bloods and vampires, KISS OF IRON shows us more about verwulfen and their place in society. We also get to learn how verwulfen come to be and how their societies work, which I found quite interesting. The foregrounding of the humanist movement also added to the depth and breadth of McMaster's worldbuilding, and really fleshed out the setting.

Once again, though, I did have some issues with the use of dialect. Dialogue that's written in dialect is not my favourite thing, though I understand that McMaster uses it to highlight class differences. As I said when discussing KISS OF STEEL, it may not bother other people but it's something I'm hyperaware of in books, movies, TV, you name it. =)

HEART OF IRON is an engrossing, thrilling sequel to KISS OF STEEL. If you liked KISS OF STEEL, you'll love HEART OF IRON because it has all of the elements that made KISS OF STEEL a strong debut, with even more worldbuilding, intrigue, and steam.

Read an excerpt

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giveaway

The lovely folks at Sourcebooks Casablanca are kindly offering one (1) copy of KISS OF STEEL (the first book in the series) to a lucky reader!

US/Canada only

To enter the giveaway, listen to the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jenn

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Another Design by Tynga

Hello guys!

I completed another design and I thought you’d like to take a look!

It’s a brand new blog, so feel free to welcome her in the community :)

Eva

tynsig

Wolf at the Door by Christine Warren

christine warren, wolf at the door, paranormal romance, werewolves, foxwomen, desire needs no invitation, out of the kennel or the coffin

Wolf at the Door by Christine Warren

Book Stats:

Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 336 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Release date: March 2, 2006

Series: The Others #9

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Library

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Sullivan Quinn didn't travel 3,000 miles from his native Ireland and his wolf pack just to chase rabidly after the most delectable quarry he's ever seen. Quinn is in America on a mission--to warn his Other brethren of a shadowy group willing to use murder and mayhem to bring them down. But one whiff of this Foxwoman's delicious honeysuckle fragrance and he knows that she is more than a colleague or a conquest…she is his mate.

Anthropologist Cassidy Poe is a world-renowned authority on social interaction, but the overpowering desire she feels around Quinn defies every ounce of her expertise. Working by his side to uncover The Others' enemies poses risks she never expected--to her own safety, to those she loves, and to her heart, as every encounter with Quinn proves more blissfully erotic than the last…

Now, with no one to trust but each other, Quinn and Cassidy face a foe that's edging closer every day, threatening to destroy the life they've always known, and the passion they've just discovered…

Sometimes, I like nothing more than an easy read that will probably have a good ending, especially when it comes with paranormal romance. WOLF AT THE DOOR caught my eye because the romantic story seemed like fun and because the paranormal story sounded intriguing. It lived up to my expectation and I thought it was an enjoyable and satisfying read.

I also picked up the book because the blurb at the back of the book said “Christine Warren’s spellbinding new series takes you into the enthralling world of the others…”, so I assumed it was the first book of a series. I was wrong. After reading a few chapters, I kept getting the impression some of the characters had had a story written about them already, and I confirmed this later by checking online. It’s actually the ninth book of the series. I felt a bit mislead by the back of the book since I usually like to read series in order, whenever possible. I think it has something to do with a marketing thing, this being the first book the publisher actually came out with, but still, the truth would have been nice right from the start.

Despite that little blunder, the book can absolutely be read as a stand alone. The story holds on it’s own and I really liked being introduced to the Others, which refers to any types of paranormal beings including vampires, weres, witches and demons. The main story focuses on the probable exposure of Others to the general human population. Others have always tried to live in hiding because of witch trials and other mass murdering events of the past. But now, since the human servant of a vampire has been kidnapped by fanatics trying to expose them as bad guys, some Others feel like it’s time to reveal themselves to human  in order to avoid as much bloodshed and prejudice as possible. Werewolf Quinn totally believes in the Unveiling and can’t wait to be able to live in an accepting society. However, anthropologist and Foxwoman Cassidy Poe believes revealing themselves to humans will be the Salem Witch Trials all over again.

Obviously their disagreement creates a lot of initial tensions but since Cassidy and Quinn are so attracted to each other, they try to work together to find out more about the kidnappers and their crazy fanatical sect. The scenes with Cassidy and Quinn are really fun to read because of their intense chemistry and their quirky lines. These scenes are definitively the highlight of the book, especially the scene where they first meet and they end up naked a few seconds later. I really liked how their relationship blossomed, and even if it felt a little quick, it didn’t seem forced despite their “animal instincts”.

Despite my initial confusion with the book, I think this series is definitively worth investigating. If the other books are anything like this one and have memorable characters like Quinn and Cassidy, I’m definitively in. There’s nothing like a good paranormal romance, and for a older release, this book was a good surprise.

stephsig

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lily-Ann’s birthday party!

I just came back from my daughter’s lunch party and I thought you’d like to see some pictures :) She’s fast asleep right now after ‘partying hard’ lol

Birthday girl!

homemade strawberry cupcakes *miam*

Blowing her first candle ^^

Eating delicious cupcake for the first time!

A sweet hug lol

*yes I had whipped cream in my hair…*

Lily-Ann and her 2 cousins :)

We had a great time! She’s such a big girl now :)

tynsig

Stacking the Shelves [53]

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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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Bought:

Fury’s Kiss by Karen Chance [Amazon | Book Depository]
Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan [Amazon | Book Depository]
Shifter’s Wolf by Patricia Briggs [Amazon | Book Depository]

For Review:

Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer [Amazon | Book Depository]
Breath by Jackie Morse Kessler [Amazon | Book Depository]
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers [Amazon | Book Depository]
The Trouble With Fate by Leigh Evans [Amazon | Book Depository]
Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo [Amazon | Book Depository]

Also, please take note that I am looking for a new reviewer on the blog, you can read all about it here. Thank you!

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

tynsig

Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson (Jessica McClain #2)Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 325 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Release date: April 23, 2013

Series: Jessica McClain #2

Source: eARC via NetGalley

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

It hasn't been the best week for Jessica McClain.

Her newly found mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge, and Jessica is positive she can save him.

But being the only female werewolf in town comes with its own set of rules and powers... if only she understood them.

Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means.

The second novel in the Jessica McClain series is a full on action adventure featuring one angry Goddess and plenty of monsters, demons, and a few newly risen beasties...

Jessica McClain's second full-length adventure comes on the heels of the events of FULL BLOODED. If you may recall, Jessica had a hard time of things in FULL BLOODED: discovering she was the only female full-blooded werewolf, learning she has superpowers, and meeting her mate, all in the span of a few days. And at the end of it all, Jess found herself with a death curse from the moon goddess Selene, who also managed to take Jessica's mate Roarke prisoner. It's enough to put anyone in a bad mood but Jess doesn't really have a chance to recover before she's on a quest to track down Selene and rescue Roarke.

Where FULL BLOODED has a wide scope, with Jessica coming into her own as a werewolf, discovering Roarke is her mate, and fighting against the mythology about a female werewolf being the end of everything, HOT BLOODED is focussed on a single mission: getting Roarke back from Selene. And it's a mission that deserve our full attention because it's a huge task. After all, Jessica is a newbie werewolf, still trying to figure out what her special abilities mean, and she's going up against an extremely powerful goddess. And this is after making a bold move, standing up to her father in front of their pack and the vampires, and then leaving to find Roarke with only two unpredictable vampire siblings and two packmates for support. It kind of reminded me of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol because of the small team, limited resources, and high-octane action. If you enjoy a slick action movie, you're sure to love HOT BLOODED.

There is also some fantastic world building in HOT BLOODED. Amanda Carlson expands on the rich mythology she established in FULL BLOODED, adding exciting new baddies, evil goats, and creatures from less explored (but existing) mythologies, like the Mahrac. There was surprise after surprise in HOT BLOODED, as Jessica and her company encounter all sorts of unusual traps, monsters, and barriers. And it was a lot of fun for me as a reader because everything was completely unpredictable and I love it when an author can pull the rug out from under my feet. I went into HOT BLOODED with expectations of a great story and Carlson more than exceeded my hopes.

Amanda Carlson and Jessica McClain roared onto the urban fantasy scene last year and it looks like 2013 will be another outstanding year for them if HOT BLOODED is any indication. I am so very excited to see what will happen in COLD BLOODED, coming this fall.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Friday, April 26, 2013

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, #1) Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Book Stats:
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Sci-Fi/dystopian/paranormal
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Release date: June 4, 2013

Series: Age of X #1

Source: Edelweiss

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

Dr. March used to be the best Servitor the RUNA (Republic of United North America) had, until he filled and turned in an highly controversial rapport of his latest investigation. He was thanked (to be polite) and shipped off to exile, wherever he wanted to, as long as it’s far away. After 4 years away from glorious Vancouver, Justin is thrilled to come back to investigate a series of weird murders, RUNA needing his particular field of expertise. Mae got herself in trouble after fighting at a funeral, surprisingly (..not) super soldiers’ fights are frond upon, and this lack of control nearly got her suspended. Instead, she finds herself bodyguard to good looking but annoying Dr. March. Nothing to improve her mood…

I’m a huge Richelle Mead fan, and I was anxiously waiting this new adult series. I loved her Succubus series and its highly likeable characters and truly miss this series. I’m afraid to say though, that even though I liked Age of X #1, I still prefer Georgina.

Let’s get the negative aspect out of the way before I tell you why I liked Gameboard of the Gods, shall we? My biggest issue was the lack of a glossary. I read an eARC from Edelweiss, and I hope.. no pray, that there is a lexicon included in the print version. See, Mead created a very Sci-fi oriented world with very unique terminology and 30% into the book, I was STILL confused with it all. At that point, she posted a glossary on her blog, which made my reading experience much more enjoyable. It was that much more complicated to follow at first because there is a proper and a slang version of the terminology, for example:

Patriarchy, Patrician, Patricians - Those who clung to their ethnic heritage and were exempted from genetic mandates after the Decline because of financial contributions to the early government. Patricians identify with a particular culture (Irish, Egyptian, etc.) and select for features associated with that culture. Many patricians still live off of that early wealth and have established aristocratic mini-societies on special regions allocated to them, called land grants. "Caste" and "castal" are slang terms for patricians used by the rest of the country.

(source)

It's not that easy to understand with an actual definition, imagine how confused I was without one.

The second aspect I wasn’t crazy about is actually a character. Richelle Mead wrote her story from three different point of views: Mae’s (a supernatural soldier), Justin (an investigator of religious groups) and Tessa (a teen from the Provinces), all in third person narration. I think I would’ve prefer if it was narrated in first person, seeing as she bothered to have multiple POV, but my concern is Tessa. I thought she was simply useless to the story. The novel would’ve been much better without her, and unless Richelle has got big plan’s for her in future books, I don’t even know why she existed. I guess Mead wanted her to give us an outsider’s perceptive of the RUNAs world, but it fell flat. Sure she provided an important clue to the investigation near the end of the book, but that proof could’ve been brought directly to Mae and it would’ve been just fine.

Now that it’s off my chest… the good parts! After I overcame the lexicon, I truly enjoyed the very original world Richelle Mead created. The world survived what they call The Decline. Humanity faced a terrible virus called Mephistopheles and half the population died. After much research they discovered that mixed genetic background provided resistance to the virus, and its hereditary disease, Cain. The RUNA was then created, controlling birthing to increase diversity and crashing any religious beliefs at same time. It’s a very engrossing setup and I liked how Mead highlighted the different living conditions between RUNA, Land Grants (where people who bought the right to stick to their ethnicity) and the Provinces (uncontrolled lands).

The technology also provided a very strong sci-fi aspect to this mix of dystopian/paranormal set-up. Everyone has identity chips, egos (super advanced smart-phones) and they have driverless cars, etc. Some of the technology is also more invasive. Mae, the lead female, is a Praetorian, a super soldier with an implant that increases their body’s response, improving their natural abilities.

Mae and Justin really sealed the deal for me. I truly loved them both for different reasons. Justin is this super good looking guy who had a different woman in bed every night and is very self-centered. Despite it all, he is very likeable and I loved how he cared for Mae while trying to stay away. Mae was also amazing. She has a hard past and is wary of relationships in general. She is strong and fierce and has a fun side underneath her stern facade. A couple of secondary characters also spoke to me, particularly Dag and Val, I hope we see more of them in the next novels.

I was really engrossed in the plot once I understood the world. Multiple aspects interspersed throughout the whole novel and I enjoyed its complexity. There’s the investigation of a series a murder, and both religious and paranormal aspects seems involved, there’s the complicated relationship between Mae and Justin and their respective private issue. All in all, a lot of food for thought and an original lore to tie it all.

The conclusion proved satisfying even though I’m still craving some answers. I find myself particularly curious of Dominic and I hope we get to know more about his past in the next novel!

If you pick up Gameboard of the Gods, and I encourage you to, do yourself a favor and read Richelle’s glossary (if its not in the book) before you read the novel. It’ll save you a lot of trouble and won’t shadow your reading experience. Contrary to the summary’s suggestion, I didn’t get any Vampire Academy vibes from this novel, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Read an excerpt

tynsig

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Daring You To Read… Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

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This week, I’m daring you to read a pretty special book. You might have read Jenn rave about STORMDANCER in her review or she might have caught your attention with her post titled Why Whedonites Will Love Stormdancer (P.s. I totally agree with everything she says in this post). However, while Jenn’s words made me anticipate reading the book more and more, it’s not what first caught my attention. I fell in love with the book when I first saw the cover. And then, when I read the synopsis, I knew I was hooked.

By combining steampunk with fantasy, and mixing in Japanese culture, Jay Kristoff is without a doubt a genius. It might sound like an odd mix but it definitively works. The story is awesome, the characters are authentic but above all, the imagery transports you into an original world that will amaze you and surprise you.

I have to commend Kristoff’s beautiful writing because he makes it seem effortless. As a reader, I’m hooked and will buy anything he writes, and if I were an aspiring writer, I would definitively envy his talent. But what’s more, even if a book was well written and had the most original story possible, I think anything with these awesome action scenes would make the story worth reading.

With Jenn’s posts, clearly I’m not the only one here that thinks STORMDANCER is a worthy Daring You To Read choice. I leave you with one final word that has probably been used to describe this book (too) many times: EPIC!

The scoop on STORMDANCER:

Jay Kristoff Stormdancer

The first in an epic new fantasy series, introducing an unforgettable new heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan.

A DYING LAND 
The Shima Imperium  verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST 
The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A HIDDEN GIFT 
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Jenn's thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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 ^^

stephsig

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott WesterfeldUglies by Scott Westerfeld

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
Reprint Paperback: 406 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopia
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: February 8, 2005

Series: Uglies #1

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The Uglies series has more than 3 million books in print, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and spent more than fifty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Now all four books feature fresh new covers and will reach an even wider audience.

Tally’s adventures begin in Uglies, where she learns the truth about what life as a Pretty really means. She rebels against the surgery that will make her a Pretty, but ultimately succumbs. In Pretties, Tally has forgotten all about her Ugly life, and when she’s reminded, she has a hard time listening. And what little’s left of the old Tally is further compromised in Specials, because Tally has been transformed into a fierce fighting machine. But when she’s offered a chance to forever improve civilization, will she be able to overcome her brainwashing? The answer is evident years later in Extras, after the Pretty regime has ended. Boundless human creativity, new technologies, and old dangers have been unleashed upon the world. But fame and popularity can be just as dangerous as extreme beauty…..

This review is going to be short and sweet for many reasons. The first is that this book is one of the books that got me reading and I decided to re-read it instantly and loved it even more, so I wholeheartedly believe that I’ll be unable to write a truly cohesive review without just gushing about it. Secondly, this book is indescribable. And thirdly, it has so many amazing plot twists that I really want to ruin absolutely nothing for you, as a reader.

The story starts when Tally travels to see her once best friend, Peris. The problem is Peris is a pretty now and Tally still has 3 months before her Pretty transformation that takes place when she is of age. Peris was extremely annoyed with Tally visiting him without waiting three months because as a Pretty, he’s sort of become superficial both inside and out. Their sense of true friendship is gone with the removal of all his imperfections, even the little scar on his hand that marked them as bloodmates. This is the first of many instances in the story where Tally realizes being Pretty isn’t all it cracks up to be. It changes you as a person, not just the physical you. But this is a world where the government believes that making everyone look similar via the Pretty process will get rid of fighting and many other things—so Tally suddenly begins challenging the beliefs that she held so dear for so many years.

When her sixteenth birthday arrives with her transformation day, Tally learns she must spy on a runaway in order to follow through with this operation. Problem? The Special Circumstances Team is creepy and pure evil and Shay was once Tally’s friend who truly does not want to become a Pretty. To put it simply, I love Tally as a character. She struggles emotionally and with discovering what is right and what is wrong. She is swayed by society, than swayed by her own opinions. She’s realistic and that is why she’ll always be among my favorite characters. This series never gets old to me because of her and the many transformations she makes throughout these novels.

I also like how this book thinks. It obviously delivers several messages about society and judgment of others and such messages really make you think. In truth, Tally lives in a world obsessed with good looks and becoming Pretty. Isn’t that somewhat scarily similar to our society today? Hers is just taken to an entirely new extreme. Food for thought.

Lili

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"When I'm not writing" by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer This week, we are delighted to have the talented Marissa Meyer joining us for "When I'm not writing". She's the author of the young adult sci-fi-spin-on-fairy-tales Lunar Chronicles quartet, which kicked off with the amazing CINDER and its sequel SCARLET. Stéph has reviewed both books and she really enjoyed both books. She says that the "merging of a fairy tale within a science fiction realm is original and refreshing". Needless to say, we're quite excited to have Marissa joining us today!

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I like food.

I mean, I really like food, with an obsession I suspect borders on unhealthy. (Luckily, I like both healthy and unhealthy foods, so I can attempt to bring some balance into said food obsession.)

I like the how some flavors combine to be greater than the sum of their parts, and I like that anticipation when you enter a very fine restaurant or a fancy chocolatier, and I like the unexpected craving when you pass a street-food vendor and encounter the smell of simmering onions and roasted meat wafting toward you. I like how a great meal is a delight to all the senses—taste, of course, but also sight and smell, and even touch, such as how an element of crunch might meld with a silken creaminess to form one perfect sensation in the mouth.

I even love reading about food. As a writer and reader, food descriptions have long been one of my guilty pleasures. I think it’s the adjectives. Buttery, tangy, crisp, succulent, smooth, aromatic, doughy, melted creamy gooiness…

The subject of the sentence is unnecessary. My mouth is already watering.

For the past five or six years, this love of all things delicious has begun to translate into a love of cooking. It isn’t a great passion—for me, that honor seems to be strictly reserved for writing—but it is a fairly regular delight. I suspect it started when I moved in with my boyfriend-now-husband, who’s a contractor and built his house with a big, gorgeous kitchen. A dream come true! Suddenly having acres of counter space and an honest-to-goodness pantry, I started to experiment with cooking in a way I never had before.

I’ve since found that I enjoy every step of the process. From tearing out recipes from magazines or hunting them down on Pinterest (seriously, what did we do before Pinterest?), to planning the meals and going grocery shopping, to the actual chopping, seasoning, and execution of the meal. Well, except when it comes to chopping onions. Ugh, how I loathe chopping onions.

I also love experimenting with new ingredients. Rarely a week goes by that I don’t add something to the shopping cart that I’ve never purchased before, and over the years I’ve experimented with everything from caviar to squash blossoms to carrot greens, which it turns out taste kind of like parsley. (This week, the experimental ingredient is pearled barley, which will make its way into a barley-mushroom-dill salad tomorrow afternoon. We’ll see!)

So when I’m not writing or reading (my top two activities of choice), I’m probably eating. Or thinking about eating. Or cooking and then eating and then thinking about what I’ll eat next, or some combination thereof. It might be a bit obsessive, but at least it’s an obsession that comes with a bit of nourishment and its own brand of creativity.

Now if only I could get half so excited about my next trip to the gym…

Jenn's note: Check out this video from Marissa's CINDER tour:

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Thanks so much for stopping by, Marissa!

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

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Here's the scoop on SCARLET:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #2)Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Stéphanie's thoughts

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Here's the scoop on CINDER, where it all began:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #1)Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Stéphanie's thoughts

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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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, April 22, 2013

Announcement + Recruiting

This announcement is a bitter sweet one. Lili will be starting an awesome scholarly journey in August and I’ll let her tell you all about it when she’s ready, which is amazing for her, but it also means she won’t be able to commit to Team Tynga’s Reviews anymore *insert sad panda face here*. Lili has been an amazing contribution to the blog, and will still post regularly in the coming weeks, and I’m hoping she’ll stop by for a visit every now and then afterward :)

She will be dearly missed and it’s with a broken heart that I am opening recruitment once again, to try and find a replacement.

recruting

If you choose to review for Team Tynga’s Reviews, I won’t be sending you any books (shipping from Canada is ridiculously expensive but if you live in the Montreal area, you could borrow from my shelves), you’ll have to review your own books but, I have a lot of review request I am turning down right now, so if any of those books interest you, I could have them sent directly to you, and you can obviously keep those books. You could also request books from NetGalley/Edelweiss and ARCs from publishing houses will be a viable option in the future (we’ll have to discuss that).

I want it to be clear though, that reviewing for Team Tynga’s Reviews does not guaranty you a plethora of free books, it shouldn’t be your prime motivation.

The new reviewer must commit to:

  • Post an original review every Wednesday (may vary for tours etc..)
  • Post a Daring You to Read post once every 4 weeks
  • Be involved in the blog’s general functioning and reply to comments
  • Reply to ours email in a timely manner

My criteria:

  • Books reviewed must be of the Paranormal Genre (some dystopian and steampunk accepted). I’d like someone who reads YA since Steph & Jenn mostly reads adult, but it’s not mandatory.

  • You must be 18 + (or have parental permission)

  • You don’t already have a blog of your own (negotiable)

  • You must write fairly articulate reviews, and I’d like to see some you’ve previously written (amazon, goodreads and the likes)

  • If you have a goodreads account, I’d like to see it to make sure we have similar taste.

  • I’m not against negative reviews but I’m against bashing and disrespect. I reserve a veto vote on anything we publish.

  • No plagiary tolerated.

  • Must be able to use Windows Live Writer or know enough HTML to publish their posts according to the actual template.

What’s in it for you?

  • A platform to express your thoughts on books

  • Being part of a fairly successful blog (this includes your own About Me section, custom sig, wishlist etc…)

  • Interaction with your favourite authors when planning events

  • Possibility to sign up for tours

  • A couple of free books along the line

I might have forgotten something, so feel free to contact me with any questions you might have =)

TyngaUF(a)gmail.com

Also, feel free to contact Jenn or Stephanie if you have any questions for them =)

jennblogs (at) gmail (dot) com / StephLrxOD (at) gmail (dot) com

If you are interested, please FILL THE FORM

tynsig

Sharp blog tour: Interview with Alex Hughes + giveaway!

Sharp blog tour banner

I'm really jazzed about today's guest: the one and only Alex Hughes. She's the creator of the fabulous Mindspace Investigations, a new series that I really enjoy. I recently re-read CLEAN, Hughes' debut novel, and was struck anew by how much I loved it. Hughes has put together a really interesting techno-phobic near-future society that I love to read about but would probably hate to live in. I've also had a chance to sink my teeth into SHARP and I've put this author on my auto-buy list as a result!

I hope you'll enjoy the interview I got to do with Alex Hughes, and make sure to check out her books the next time you're at your local bookstore or library!

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Welcome back to Tynga's Reviews, Alex! To start, can you tell our readers a bit about your Mindspace Investigations series?
Thank you! I’m excited to be back on the blog.

The Mindspace Investigations series is about a telepathic detective (and recovering addict) who helps the police in future Atlanta solve a series of crimes.

Can you tell us a bit about Mindspace and the different levels and types of telepathy?
Clean by Alex Hughes (Mindspace Investigations #1)Sure. Mindspace is the space in which human minds act and interact. It’s constrained by a lot of the same physics that controls the rest of our universe, including the Inverse Square Law and the occasional quantum effect, and it interacts with electromagnetic fields. Human minds and emotions leave traces in Mindspace even after they’ve gone, so reading the space correctly can tell you a lot about, say, a crime committed there a few days ago.

In this world, there are many forms of Abilities including telekinesis, teleportation, pyrokinesis, and telepathy. Telepathy is by far the most common Ability, and the strongest of the telepaths can both read Mindspace (and human minds in it) and interact with it, though some people can do only one or the other. Telepaths are also subdivided into strength (how strong the waves they can make in Mindspace are) and control (how fine a structure they can read without disturbing). All telepaths have at least a few people whom they cannot read well; the waves of their minds don’t mesh, something called “having poor valence.”

Why did you choose Atlanta as your main setting for the series?
Atlanta is home to me; I’ve lived in one section or another of the metro area since I was eight, and Decatur (where the story was set) was where I was living when I came up with the original concept. There was something really cool about the mix of old and new in the area when I lived there, and I loved picturing that mix in the future.

One of the things I found most interesting about your debut novel CLEAN was that you don't tell the reader the main character's first name until the very last paragraph of the book. Can you talk a bit about that decision?
For me, I was using a literary device deliberately to try to make a point. In a very real way, Adam’s identity is up in the air until he makes the decision at the end of the book. When he decides who he wants to be, he gets a name. Before that, the lack of name reflects his emotional state. To make that device work, however, was a great deal more work than I expected! It needs to be “transparent,” something the reader doesn’t notice until the very end when the key turns and he gets an identity. Making that happen without being too circuitous was very challenging.

A lot of authors who use first person narrators tend to write characters of the same gender. As a woman, did writing a first person story from a male character's point of view result in any challenges or discoveries?
Payoff by Alex Hughes (Mindspace Investigations #1.5)In the beginning, it did, and I had to lean on other people, particularly male writers and beta readers, to keep me within the boundaries of a male protagonist. But after awhile, I got more comfortable with Adam and his way of seeing the world. It helps that he’s not a super macho man; Adam is an intelligent human being who happens to be male, not one to whom male is their primary identity. As long as I’m careful around the edges and add in the occasional male thought pattern or observation, I have a lot of freedom.

What has been interesting to me as a writer is the comments people have made about gender once they know I’m a female writing the piece. When someone read the first scene of Clean under the author name Alexandra, they pinged me on Adam noticing Esperanza’s clothes. People claimed that men didn’t notice clothes. But when they read the same scene under the author name Alex Hughes, no one noticed or cared. My writer’s group has also claimed some pretty crazy things for men as I’ve gone through writing subsequent projects--they claim loudly that real men don’t care about Christmas if they’re single, and that all men act a certain way while dating, or think a certain thing about a woman who’s large breasted. I’ve met very manly men who love Christmas even single, and men who have a variety of responses to women in various contexts. Gender is a continuum more than a binary system, I think, and there are as many different kinds of men as there are women.

There's a bit of sexual tension between Adam and Cherabino but they haven't gone beyond being work partners. Can you give us a teaser about what's to come for their relationship?
Would you really want me to? :)

You mentioned yummy food a few times in your "When I'm not writing" post. =) What are some of your favourite dishes?
This answer changes depending on when you ask me. Today I’ll say Thai food, particularly a coconut chicken basil soup that I get at a tiny little family-owned Thai restaurant near me. That soup is amazing! I love curry as well, pretty much in any form you bring it to me, but I’ve been experimenting with a Thai green curry at home and it’s turned out very well. With the coconut milk base, I can take a lot of hot peppers, and I do. A LOT.

Lately I’m also obsessed with spinach. It’s terrifically good for you, plus it adds a warm earthy flavor to a lot of amazing food. Spinach pesto, for example, is very good. And I love to make a red-wine and tomato sauce with turkey hot sausage and sundried tomatoes that gets incredible when you add a little carrots and a lot of spinach. Plus salad with baby spinach leaves, walnuts, goat cheese, squash, and raspberry vinegrette is incredible.

What are you currently reading?
Sharp by Alex Hughes (Mindspace Investigations #2)I’m working my way through the Liaden universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller - amazing classic scifi that’s finally available in electronic form. I’ve also got Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and a one-act play book sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read. I’ve been so inspired by the dialogue and characterization of great classic plays over the years, and it’s been awhile since I’ve read them, so I’m excited to dive back in.

What would our readers be surprised to find out about you?
I’m big into knitting these days--I’m about to finish up my first sweater project! Plus I knit socks a lot; it’s a fun project, and you can wear them later for warm toes.

Finally, can you give tell us what to expect in SHARP, the latest Mindspace Investigations?
Sharp picks up about six weeks after Clean. Cherabino is avoiding Adam due to what happened in the last book, and he is struggling to recover from an injury which is affecting everything--and which he has not told the police about. He shows up at a crime scene, and the victim is one of his old students from the Guild. Plus parts for illegal Tech are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Paulsen says with recent budget cuts unless he pulls out a miracle, he’s likely to lose his job. It’s a rough week.

Thanks very much for visiting Tynga's Reviews again, Alex, and best of luck with the rest of your blog tour!
Thank you for having me!

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For more Alex, check out her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also see the rest of Alex's blog tour by clicking on the tour button below.

Sharp blog tour button

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And here's the scoop on SHARP, available now!

Sharp by Alex Hughes (Mindspace Investigations #2)HISTORY HAS A WAY OF REPEATING ITSELF, EVEN FOR TELEPATHS.…

As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident.

And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.

Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherbino’s longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all…

Jenn's thoughts (with excerpt)

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

To see what I thought of what came before, click on the cover:

Clean by Alex Hughes (Mindspace Investigations #1) Payoff by Alex Hughes (Mindspace Investigations #1.5)

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giveaway

One (1) lucky reader will win a copy of CLEAN

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jenn