Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi AshtonEverneath by Brodi Ashton

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 370 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 24, 2012

Series: Everneath #1

Source: ARCycling

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

Everneath is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.

I finally understand what all the hype around this series is! This is perhaps one of the most well done mythological debuts that I have come across in a while. I found it to be a really unique take on the Persephone and Hades myth and the world-building and interpretation surrounding this myth was amazing. The fact that we didn’t have a Hades character and instead had Cole, an Everliving that wanted to take over the throne, paved the way for a widely loved and known myth to become a brand new concept.

The characterization in this one was solid. Nikki was trying to recover her emotions for a majority of the book, so she was unattached to everything but oddly worrisome over where some of her past relationships stand. It was very well done. Cole was fascinating as well because of his dark side that rarely gave way to a glimpse of true feeling even though he doesn’t have a heart. I think that he made the myth all the more real because he was stubborn and focused on the prize: getting Nikki to follow him back to the Everneath at any cost. But I really loved Jack. He never gave up on Nikki despite her disappearance and his love for her is everlasting. He is noble, the way a hero should be. He is the small ray of hope in the bleak world that Cole is trying to create. Yet, somehow, because the novel is mostly spent with Nikki trying to recover her feelings during her six month Return, romance wasn’t a huge part of the plot until the very end. Unfortunately, I see a potential love triangle in the works for book two.

In regards to characterization, I have to say I was disappointed in the roles that Nikki’s father and younger brother played. You would think that after getting a family member back after a mysterious disappearance would have them overjoyed. They accepted her lies about rehab so easily. It seemed that her father was more obsessed with his campaign as Mayor than he was for his daughter’s feelings, and that bugged me because it struck me as odd. As for her little brother, he was there when it helped out and that was it. No more, no less. After losing their respective mother/wife due to a drunk driving accident, you’d think they’d cherish the return of a seemingly run-away-to-rehab recovered drug addict daughter (even though that was all a lie). Instead, the extent of the love is helping out in campaigns and surprise drug tests.

Ashton’s writing is beautiful and her mythological tale was captivating. I loved how she inserted a series of flashback chapters throughout the story to better explain the events and emotions leading up to Nikki’s disappearance during the century long Feed. However, I think that her transition out of the Feed into her Return could have been smoother. Nikki began the book when she woke up in this awesome creepy scene with Shades surrounding her and then she decided to go home, so she finds herself on the floor of a small store and then suddenly begins to remember everything she needs to know about being on the Surface again. Too easy, you know? Aside from that, the pacing was perfect and I’m hoping that Ashton’s attention to detail will give us more mythological answers in book two, like how Everlivings came along and what caused Cole to become one. I want to know more about his backstory since I now have Nikki’s. I’m hoping that book two will take a reverse approach that focuses on him the way book one did Nikki.

All in all, a great read for those looking for a unique mythological interpretation that is not heavy on the romance. This series is one that I’ll definitely be following, especially after that ending! Ashton easily leaves us begging for more because she unfortunately leaves us with several big questions.

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Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

Arrow of the Mist by Christina MercerArrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

Book stats:
Reading level: Young adult
E-book: 270 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Self published
Release date: March 13, 2013

Series: n/a

Source: Review copy from Xpresso Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the veil of a forbidden land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia’s beloved father. Lia and three others embark on a quest to the forbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure. But after her elder kinsman is attacked and poisoned, she and her cousin, Wynn, are forced to finish the quest on their own.

Lia relies on her powerful herbal wisdom and the memorized pages of her late grandmother’s Grimoire for guidance through a land of soul-hungry shades, trickster creatures, and uncovered truths about the origin of Brume and her family’s unexpected ties to it. The deeper they trek into the land, the stronger Lia’s untapped gift as a tree mage unfolds. When she discovers the enchanted root’s maker, it forces her to question everything about who she is and what is her destiny. Ultimately, she must make a terrible choice: keep fighting to save her father and the people of the lands or join with the power behind the deadly roots to help nature start anew.

First of all, I’d like to apologies to Christina and Giselle of Xpresso Book Tours. This was supposed to go up on July 2 with Christina’s “When I’m Not Writing” post but I ended up celebrating Canada Day with a bad case of food poisoning so I didn’t have a chance to finish writing my review. I’m posting it now in the spirit of better-late-than-never since it’s a story I quite enjoyed and think that you might too.

Overall, I thought ARROW OF THE MIST was a solid young adult fantasy novel. I really liked the protagonist Lia. She kind of reminded me of Merida from Brave with her red hair and unladylike pursuits. And I adored Merida so this is a compliment in my eyes. =) I also liked how Lia has embraced the traditions of her family — the old ways — even when they’re not exactly popular with the locals or with the royal family. I think it shows her guts and strength of conviction, both of which are tested throughout ARROW OF THE MIST.

Fantasy fans will see many familiar tropes but this doesn’t detract from the story. You have your different races, like dwarves and fairies, and some archetypal characters like the sage grandfatherly figure and your Samwise Gamgee-type stalwart traveling companion but everything is well executed so ARROW OF THE MIST doesn’t feel like a retread of established ground. Each of the characters has enough personality to help them stand out, though I was most partial to Lia and her grandmother, who is dead but still has a strong presence in the novel thanks to her grimoire. I wasn’t terribly keen on all the rhyming going on in the grimoire — I found it to be a fairly repetitive device — but I did enjoy watching Lia puzzle out the riddles. Some of the answers seemed a big obvious but Lia acquits herself nicely throughout the story.

I think this book will appeal to fans of Maria V. Snyder’s Glass and Healer trilogies, and also Sarah J. Maas’ work, since ARROW OF THE MIST features a strong female protagonist in a coming-of-age story. It’s an enjoyable YA fantasy and I look forward to seeing what Mercer produces next.

P. S. How gorgeous is this cover? It’s one of the most eye-catching covers I’ve seen — traditional or indie pubbed — and I think the artist deserves major kudos. =)

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

Jenn

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Daring You to Read… Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

This week I am daring you to read an amazing fantasy novel, Falling kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (a.k.a Michelle Rowen). As you might know, I’m a huge fan of High Fantasy, especially young adult ones, and I was extremely pleased with this novel. I’m dare compare it to the likes of Kristen Cashore and Maria V Snyder, so if you are fan of these two, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on a copy!

Why I loved it so much? First, the lore was extremely original and fascinating. Morgan did an amazing job of creating a believable and rich backstory. Further more, the world-building was simply effortless and the descriptions were rich and fluid, never slowing down the story arc. And finally, the fantastic characters. Morgan chose a wide range of teenagers from different social classes and territories and the alternative point of view allowed us to really live the experience from each of their perspective.

The plotline isn’t exactly action packed, but the tension, treasons and promises of revenge will keep you on the edge of your seat. At times my heart was pounding, at other moments I was shedding tears, really miss Rhodes kept me emotionally involved the entire novel and it’s something I really appreciate.

The conclusion was simply a killer and I am extremely glad I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy of Rebel Spring, which I plan to read very soon. It’s a December release, so you still have plenty of time to get your hands on Falling Kingdoms before then.

If you love high fantasy, I urge you to pick up this amazing novel!

 

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword…
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

Read my review

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Sequel:

Rebel Spring (Falling Kingd...

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 ^^

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Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Star Cursed by Jessica SpotswoodStar Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 384 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: June 18, 2013

Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2

Source: From Author for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

Jessica Spotswood is back and she does not disappoint! It is official, she is forever my favorite author of a witchy series. Nobody can compare. Wow, is my mind still reeling.

I think that this book may have been even better than the first one and that is because this book really made me think. Spotswood was able to take the usual subjugation of women from the time period that this novel takes place in and spin in to fit her plot perfectly. What is there to fear about women that makes it scary to have them work outside the home, have the ability to pursue an education, and the knowledge of how to read? Are we so powerful that the Brotherhood fears the power that an intelligent woman can possess, thus they feel as if they must take it away to lessen a woman’s power and sway in society? What is it that causes the Brotherhood to deem us wicked and hate our ways? It just got me thinking, and Spotswood was able to make such dark and demented themes work throughout her novel in ways that kept you guessing. Never once did I feel as if anything was being shoved down my throat. Instead, I wanted to rebel alongside Cate and fight back. You know you have a good story when it can invoke such strong emotions within you, especially when a story containing anti-women sentiments is written so beautifully.

And, as always, Spotswood’s characterization is strong. I began to love Cate and Tess even more during their journey to figuring out right from wrong in the time leading up to a war, just as my burning distaste for Maura slowly evolved into a strengthening hatred. And while I can’t say I’m a fan of this particular character, it’s amazing to have an author create a character who truly does make you hate, who inspires passionate emotions within you because they’re written so well. Whether you want to or not, you’ve forged some kind of connection with a character if they invoke anything in you, and this is a huge accomplishment, especially among the more villainous of characters. It makes me love Spotswood’s writing even more. It does help that I really began to love the friends that Cate made in the Sisterhood, just as I hated the friends and allies Maura made. And it’s made all the better by Finn who somehow managed to become even more amazing in this book. With that being said, I have one protest: there was not enough Finn! His scenes were some amazing, I wish they were plentiful instead of gifted and scattered apart.

The pacing of this book was a little spotty, though. Though this was admittedly rare, I did find myself reading slowly at times because there were a few preparation scenes between the bigger scenes that began to drag a bit. While I understand the importance of such scenes, they did not hold the intensity that the rest of the book held and I wish the entire novel had pacing on the same level. I mean, gosh! Those last ten pages had my heart beating out of my chest, and I let out a little scream during those last two pages that startled both my father and my feline reading companion, Cosmo. It was so easy for me to get into so much of this book, so why did the filler chapters drag so much? That is the one thing I would have liked fixed abouted this story.

I recommend this series to anyone willing to check it out. Certainly my favorite witchy series out there. Jessica Spotswood has already been informed that I will give my left leg for book three. I need it that badly!

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Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey JayOf Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 387 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: July 23, 2013

Series: n/a

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

I think that writing a coherent review currently is impossible. It’s been a really long time since a book made my heart speed up, my breathing shallow because I was so engrossed. It’s been a really long time since I thought that a writer’s writing style is really beautiful and went out of my way to tell others that. It’s just been a while since a book managed to truly blow me away and make me love it so much. OF BEAST AND BEAUTY, the first book I’ve ever read by Stacey Jay, managed to do all that and more. I can already tell that this book will stick with me for a while.

The intricacies of this new world was fascinating. They easily engross you and hold you captive throughout the duration of the book–making it an incredibly quick and enjoyable read. It’s set in a dying world where domed cities must make royal sacrifices every thirty years in order to ensure the continual thriving of their people. Isra, the blind future Queen of Yuan, is set to be the next sacrifice to allow her people to continue to live. The domes are necessary to cut the citizens off from the evils of the outside world and the disfigured race that lives in the desert. The Monstrous are beastly people with poisonous claws and they must be feared, but when they break into Yuan and one of them murders the King, everything spirals out of control. They leave a single Monstrous prisoner behind named Gem in order to ensure peace between the two races, but he is unwelcome by all except Isra who is strangely fascinated by her new prisoner and eventual friend. A lot of the amazing world-building was displayed through personal anecdotes and the telling of old legends from both races, and I found this to be a welcome, unique touch that kept my interest without having to info-dump. This also allowed the mystery of Yuan to be unraveled in a really unique way that left me flipping pages as fast as I could.

I think the strongest point of this story was the characterization. Both Gem and Isra live in two completely different yet equally dying worlds, and they both will do anything required to save those they love. But, in the end, they both have the biggest hearts of gold. They can plan to do terrible things but never follow through with it. They’re both just so good, and I truly truly loved that. Isra never allowed her blindness to hinder her. In fact, it just made her stronger. And Gem was proud of who he was, even if the Smooth-Skinned people that Isra ruled believed he was disgusting. His form was beautiful and his people were beautiful. In his eyes, everything somehow was beautiful. I liked the hidden messages that such a thought process shared. And I also loved the side characters, especially Needle, Isra’s loyal maid, best friend, and dress-maker despite being born mute. Bo was a unique side character as well, often warring with himself about what is right since he tended to simply feel for so many people. He had a good heart, he just didn’t know how to manage everything. This book is told in the altering perspectives of Gem and Isra, with a few chapters in Bo’s perspective thrown in. I normally would think his perspective was completely unnecessary, but he added a lot of back-plot to the story and summed up all questionable plot lines. Although, I have to admit, while I enjoyed his voice I did not love it nearly as much as I loved Gem and Isra’s.

And, while this book has so much more to it, it’s still a BEAUTY AND THE BEAST re-telling at its heart, meaning that the romance is important. And, damn, can I say that I love love and this love story. It was slow-going and passionate all at once–the way a love story should be. And the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST interpretation was great. It added all the more meaning to the words “beastly” and “beautiful” and made me smile endlessly while reading the epilogue–an epilogue so sweet and perfect that I never wanted it to end. While I couldn’t have asked for a better story, I was saddened to turn to the last blank page because I grew so attached to Isra and Gem. Even now, I don’t want to leave them behind just yet.

I don’t know what else to say about this one aside from the fact that it blew me away entirely. I can’t think of a single piece of criticism because I did love it so much. I recommend this book to anyone willing to read it. Those who love fantasy re-tellings, those who love an amazing romance, those who love something different and unique or a book littered with fascinating political intrigue and dark unknowns lurking beneath the surface. This is a book that could be universally loved and I truly hope anyone who picks it up will love it as much as I did. To put it simply, this book is a must read of 2013, no questions asked.

Lili disclaimer_thumb[2]

Obsession by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Obsession by Jennifer L. ArmentroutObsession by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Book stats:
Reading Level: Adult
eBook: 284 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Release Date: May 31, 2013

Series: Arum #1

Source: Bought

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon

He’s arrogant, domineering, and… To. Die. For.

Hunter is a ruthless killer. And the Department of Defense has him firmly in their grasp, which usually doesn’t chafe too badly because he gets to kill bad guys. Most of the time he enjoys his job. That is, until he’s saddled with something he’s never had to do before: protect a human from his mortal enemy.

Serena Cross didn’t believe her best friend when she claimed to have seen the son of a powerful senator turn into something… unnatural. Who would? But then she witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of what can only be an alien, thrusting her into a world that will kill to protect their secret.

Hunter stirs Serena’s temper and her lust despite their differences. Soon he’s doing the unthinkable—breaking the rules he’s lived by, going against the government to keep Serena safe. But are the aliens and the government the biggest threats to Serena’s life… or is it Hunter?

It’s no secret that I love Jennifer L. Armentrout, so I was beyond excited to immerse myself into the same world as her beloved Lux series, except from an adult standpoint. Couple that with the fact that our hero in this one is an Arum instead of a Luxen and my curiosity was most definitely piqued. I pre-ordered the book from the iBookstore and started reading immediately that weekend. This book takes place in the same world as the Lux series and takes place between Lux books two and three, OPAL and ORIGIN. There are some crossover characters from her beloved young adult series, but this is most definitely an adult book.

I think that the most fascinating aspect of this entire story to me is the fact that an Arum is our anti-hero. For the first time we were able to see the universe from an Arum’s perspective as opposed to the perspective of a Luxen. The lore immediately drew me in and the complicated web that Armentrout weaved kept my interest from page one. She added a lot of unknown facts to the original lore of the Arum and Luxen and I can honestly say that I love both races equally despite the fact that her series obviously tend to favor a certain species over the other. Whereas I originally thought the Luxen were aliens trying to save their diminishing race it now almost seems like their leeches trying to suck the life out of the universe. The different viewpoints in regards to this war were not only done well, but convincingly. It allows the story to start off quickly and to never slow down. I could not get through it fast enough and I’m shocked that I got through it so fast.

I also have to say the characterization was dead-on. Hunter is very much your kick-ass guy. He’ll kill you, he’ll threaten you, he’ll take what he wants and leave without hesitation. He’s brutally honest, he knows he’s attractive, and he hates way more than he loves. He’s full of sarcasm, arrogance, and confidence. But somehow he’s an Arum with a heart. Granted, it’s buried deep, but it is sure as hell there. To put it simply he’s a sexy alpha-male. Serena is strong and feisty despite her small stature. She’ll get in Hunter’s face, stand up for what she believes in, and fight until the very end. I respected her characterization a lot for that and their differences made way for an awesome romance with a lot of truly entertaining bantering.

But the romance is also something I question. When I finished the book and took a breath to think, I realized this book really only spanned a few days, possibly two weeks unless I got the counting wrong. Point is this book most definitely lasted for less than a month. So while this was not a case of in-your-face insta-love, it did exist. I was a bit put off by the fact that Hunter just took what he wanted and Serena went right along with it. He knocks her out consecutively (even if it was by accident) and when he’s not knocking her out they’re doing something sexual every night. There was not a non-sexy night in this. And while I get that that appeals to some people I can’t say I was a fan of the execution. By the end of the novel I really believed in their romantic bond, but I desperately wanted more emotions behind it. While the emotion was given to me via the alternating perspective chapters and Hunter’s possessiveness and journey to realizing loving someone isn’t a weakness, I just wish the relationship progression was smoother. I like depth, not sex sex sex. If Hunter wanted it, it happened. It ended up bugging me that the concept of willpower was unheard of in this novel. Serena’s habit of rolling over to Hunter’s every sexual whim went against her characterization of being strong and independent and made her slightly hypocritical–that’s the real problem that I had. Then again, that’s just how the entire situation came off to me and hypocrisy is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Upon writing this review I also realized that this book is now to be a series. JLA herself originally told me that OBSESSION was meant to be a stand-alone and I think it was perfect that way, but I’m curious to see how Hunter and Serena’s relationship progresses now that he realizes that he has a heart and is capable of loving and being loved despite the fact that he’s an alien, and a not very kind one at that. This may just be a stand-alone that can make one amazing series!

As always, Jennifer L. Armentrout is addicting and her characters are easy to love. I don’t think that she can ever truly disappoint. This book is great for fans who read her Lux series that also read adult work. If you know anything at all about JLA, you know what she’s capable of delivering.

Read an Excerpt

<img style="background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; padding-top: 0px" title="lilisig" border="0" alt="Lili" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-K1wL7-qkvhw/UYQxqQ_oQAI/AAAAAAAAG3M/EnaK6x1ILL8/s1600/lilisig.png"

Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Spirit by Brigid KemmererSpirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 301 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release Date: May 28, 2013

Series: Elemental #3

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

Brigid Kemmerer is back with the third book in her amazing Elementals series and she does not disappoint! I have to say that I was slightly worried going into this one because Hunter isn’t a Merrick brother, but the Merrick’s still played a large part in this one and Kemmerer took advantage of that and decided to steer this story in an entirely new direction.

And by that, I mean that this story was heartbreaking at times. Hunter’s misunderstood and trouble seems to follow him. He can never pick a side because he does love the family make-up of the Merricks, but being a Guide is in his blood. His family situation is falling apart, his life is out of control, and the girl he may have feelings for is a player. Let’s just say that it’s really easy to realize why he is perhaps the most complicated character in this series. While Gabriel is deliciously complex, Hunter is complicated in an intriguing way. His confusion and inability to trust people easily are explained in this one and I can honestly say that I don’t mind his issues anymore because they are so believable when put into situations such as he is.

But I have to say that the best part of this novel was the progression of certain characters…two in particular. Obviously, Hunter. Hunter’s storyline was taken on a really unconventional route that I never would have expected, so I applaud Kemmerer for taking a literary risk that ended up paying off. I can’t explain anything without ruining the plot line for you, but Calla’s back and she’s more aggravating and vile than ever and Hunter also has terrible luck with the ladies.

The biggest surprise in this novel was Michael Merrick. I really, truly love him now. He was inadvertently Hunter’s guiding light in times of need–showing up whenever necessary the way a true big brother and guardian should. And I started to love him for it. It’s making me extremely excited for Michael’s book, book five in this series, when book four has yet to be released! While I understand Hunter and pity him greatly, my love for him does not compare to my love of the Merrick brothers because I think that their struggles to survive and characterizations are absolutely delicious. They are among my favorite characters ever, and Michael has joined his three younger brothers because of this novel. I’d say Hunter is the perfect sidekick to the amazingness that is the Merrick brothers, but you can’t tell Hunter that or there’ll be an all out brawl. So despite the great characterization leap in him, he’s still somewhat the same!

In the end, the new direction that Kemmerer took in this one was well done. Both Chris and Gabriel’s book had a similar overall story arc though the process to getting to the end differed greatly. And if you read Kemmerer’s recent novella, BREATHLESS, Nick’s story is going to differ completely, but Hunter’s story was the perfect way to set this new plot progression of dropping bomb after bomb into motion. While I can’t say I loved it as much as Chris or Gabriel’s story, I greatly enjoyed this one and will definitely always be a loyal Kemmerer fan. I recommend this one to absolutely anyone who is willing to pick this series up, though the first two books must be picked up first.

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The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle HodkinThe Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 544 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 23, 2013

Series: The Evolution of Mara Dyer #2

Source: Personal Shelf

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

<p align=”justify”In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Can I just begin by saying that this series has the most hypnotizing of covers? If I didn’t love the series as much as I clearly do, I’d probably still buy the books just to display these gorgeously dark and intriguing covers on my shelves. But that’s beside the point. I was very excited to get back into this world. I missed the creepiness, the hallucinations and the paranoia that is Mara’s life. I don’t think I’ve come across an author who can tackle the concept of insanity just as well as Michelle Hodkin, and I absolutely love her for continuously rocking my world with this psychological thriller/horror series. I absolutely never know what is about to happen next.

Long ago, the prequel to this lovely book, THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER, was actually the first ever review I posted for Tynga’s Reviews. It earned a supremely perfect rating because its darkness, its grittiness, its uniqueness that left me wanting more was all incredibly amazing. So, clearly, I had high hopes for this one. While I am happy to report that Hodkin does not suffer from sequel syndrome, I must admit that I don’t think this sequel topped the prequel. While Hodkin can still take me for a roller coaster ride with her amazing and unseen plot lines, she had me flipping the pages at a rapid fire speed for book one and, at times, I found myself closing this book to go for a walk. I’m not even kidding, it actually rained on me on my way home. I had a mini heart attack thinking I suddenly inherited Mara’s consistently terrible luck.

I think that this novel was somewhat slow for me in comparison to book one simply because Mara is now in an asylum. Well, not really, she’s actually in an outpatient program on the brink of being thrown into an asylum. Granted, creepy things continued to happen that made my skin crawl, but this was a repetitive plot line to me. She’d make some progress than take a step back. She’d make more progress than an event in her life forced her to take a step back. There was this constant distrust of her because she once hallucinated. And seeing her internal monologue was draining because of how emotionally drained she was. She was fighting to be heard and nobody believed her. There was lie after lie only for her to disagree in her head. And while I am wholeheartedly on Mara’s side, the repetitive aspect of this novel bored me occasionally.

But this novel was truly very well written. I can honestly say that the repetitiveness of Mara’s problems bugged me in ways that it did not bug most people–probably because a huge pet peeve of mine inherited from my father is indecision and that pet peeve is still existent when it comes to bookish characters. Every other aspect of the novel blew me away. Again, I never saw any of the plot twists coming and, trust me, they were plentiful and incredibly unexpected. And the characterization was strong. There was a particularly touching scene where Daniel accompanied Mara to family therapy that tugged at my heartstrings because I’ve loved how his character has developed in this novel. He’s an amazing older brother. And, of course, there’s Noah–arguably one of the sexiest and thoughtful leading men in young adult literature these days. We were able to glimpse a little more of Noah’s thought processes and learn more about his past, which revealed a darker side to him. His theories about his own abilities and Mara’s were a huge focus of the plot this time around because, rather unexpectedly, they realized that they just might not be alone.

All in all, I say that Hodkin is an author that I can never get sick of and I still highly suggest this series to anyone willing to read a gritty romance dealing with insanity. It’ll make your skin crawl in the most amazing way, and that’s saying something because I absolutely hate your average horror novel and refuse to even pick them up. It’s also not heavy on the fantasy though the entirety of Mara’s insanity developing from her believed ability to control things with her mind is a fantasy novel about superhuman abilities. My only qualms was Mara’s indecisiveness and the unrealistic aspects of Noah having so much money. Sure, he can bribe anyone, but some of his dates with Mara had me rolling my eyes because it’s just so unbelievable. With that being said, I’d say read this book just for Noah’s delicious complexity alone. The final novel in this series, THE RETRIBUTION OF MARA DYER, is the last novel in this trilogy releasing in the Fall and I am anticipating it greatly.

Read an Excerpt

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Touched by Corrine Jackson

Touched by Corrine JacksonTouched by Corrine Jackson

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 343 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release date: November 27, 2012

Series: Sense Thieves #1

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Remy O’Malley heals people with touch—but every injury she cures becomes her own. Living in a household with an abusive stepfather, she has healed untold numbers of broken bones, burns,and bruises. And then one night her stepfather goes too far.

Being sent to live with her estranged father offers a clean start and she is eager to take it. Enter Asher Blackwell. Once a Protector of Healers, Asher sacrificed his senses to become immortal. Only by killing a Healer can a Protector recover their human senses. Falling in love is against the rules between these two enemies. Because Remy has the power to make Protectors human again, and when they find out, they’ll be coming for her—if Asher doesn’t kill her first.

This is Book One in the Touched trilogy.

I admit, I was hesitant to start this book. The whole “magical powers enacted by touching people” idea has been done before many times in YA lit. I can think of at least two stories I’ve read already with similar concepts and another one that I know about just off the top of my head. But Jackson manages to tell such a unique intriguing story with one of the strongest heroines I’ve come across in a while. I can’t say I loved this one, but I greatly enjoyed it.

To begin, this book is not for everyone. There are many sequences of physical abuse that are pretty detailed. If violence makes you uncomfortable, this certainly isn’t the book for you. Remy’s stepfather, Dean, is an alcoholic. He feeds off of not only Remy’s pain, but her mother’s as well. And instead of allowing him to ruin her life, she allowed him to make her stronger. She wouldn’t break under him, despite the fact that he would break her bones because he was so maniacal. She became emotionally fortified and determined to survive–easily one of the toughest characters (both physically and emotionally) that I have found in a long time. I really enjoyed this aspect of Remy’s characterization because she wasn’t looking for sympathy and pity the way many abused characters do. While the abuse was a huge part of her life that caused her to create a huge shell around herself, when forced to face new situations she slowly opened herself to the possibility of a normal life with friends, family, and most of all, love. It’s safe to say I really, really like her.

But I have to say that the most interesting concept of this novel was her “super-power” and the lore that came hand-in-hand with her enemy. Remy has the ability to heal others by touching them. She simply has to picture their wound and the energy from her body will enter theirs to end their pain, but by doing so she will make their maladies her own. If she goes too far she can experience severe hypothermia and extreme pain that makes it seem as if she herself will die. I really loved the selflessness she exhibited at all times when helping others. And what I found even more interested was the concept of Protectors. They’re pretty much like superhuman ninjas because they’re fast, they’re immortal, they’re drop-dead gorgeous–but they can’t feel anything. The price of immortality? The loss of your senses. Whereas Healers like Remy feel too much, Protectors like Asher and his family feel too little.

While I must admit that Asher was a very great love interest because of his genuine concern, love, and care for Remy, I think that their story was very cliche in the beginning. It’s very new girl moves to town and is immediately fascinated by the town bad boy that is known for using girls so everyone she quickly befriends warns her off him immensely and she ignores everything they say. While I really liked the two of them, I was hoping such a unique story could avoid the cliche aspects of the plot line.

Full of one of the best cast of characters I’ve come across in a while, Jackson tells a story of selflessness and self-discovery with a really great and unique paranormal twist. If you’re looking for a unique romance with a perfect dash of paranormal abilities, this is a book that you will enjoy.

Read an Excerpt

Lili

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The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Rose Throne

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

Book Stats:
Age Range: 12 and up
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release date: May 14, 2013

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Richly-imagined fantasy romance from the author of Princess and the Hound, a tale of two princesses–one with magic, one with none–who dare seek love in a world where real choice can never be theirs. For fans of Megan Whalen Turner, Catherine Fisher, and Cassandra Clare. 

Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power–or the magic–to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

The Weyr Kingdoms were split in two when the King’s wife died. In his mourning, he felt such anger that he decided to keep his taweyr (fighting/death magic) and cast away Neweyr (life magic). Centuries later, the consequences are still very much present and only man can wield taweyr and woman neweyr. The unlucky ones born with the wrong magic, the Ekhono, are hunted down in the Kingdom of Rurik and forced to flee to Weirland. The princess of each kingdom thrives for something different and will do their very best to change their world, despite what little power they have.

The Rose Throne caught my interest while browsing netgalley because I’m such a fan of fantasy and I must confess, I’m still unsure if I liked this novel or not. There are elements I liked, others I disliked and even after thinking about it for a day after I finished reading, the juror is still out on that final decision. I guess I’m neutral?

One of the things I liked most about Mette Ivie Harrison’s book is the rich Lore she blessed us with. I loved the original magic she created and how it was handled by the characters. It created interesting tension between the characters and I appreciated that each Kingdoms had their own point of view on the matter. Further more, the fact that the Princess of Weirland (Issa) came to Rurik made things much more interesting as their culture clashed.

On the other hand, I had issued with the plot and pace. We follow both Princesses and their betrothed along their journey, for nearly a year and to my dismay, there wasn’t much action. They are executions, but it’s a common event in the Kingdom of Rurik and didn’t bring much heart-pounding energy. My main bother though, is the fact that there isn’t a clear goal during the whole journey. Yes, there is a desire to fulfill a prophecy, but every characters is so busy fulfilling their duties that it takes the passion out of it all. I wasn’t bored through the novel, don’t get me wrong, but I never felt an urgency nor a finish line to look forward to, so it was a disappointment to me. 

Thankfully, the individual character’s redeemed the previous issue in some ways. I liked that each of them had very unique personalities and each of them reacted in their own way when faced with the King in particular. Princess Issa is sweet and innocent and I loved her for it. She finds herself surrounded by wolves and is none the less determined to marry the young Prince Edik to save her own Kingdom. Her strong sense of duty could be dull but she was very endearing. Princess Ailsbet comes out as very austere because she keeps everyone out, but she loves her bother very much and I liked that she was willing to help Issa. Their unlikely relationship pleased me!

The young Edik was frustrating because he wanted so much to please his father that he was waking a fool of himself, on more than one occasion I felt this urge to shake some sense into him, but in the end, I simply pitied the poor kid. Lord Kellin, Ailsbet’s betrothed, turned out to be one of my favourite characters. I honestly couldn’t pin point the reason why, but I felt a connection to him. He is mysterious and play the part on the King’s most trusted man, all the while doing what’s best for his country, whether that King agrees or not (not that He would know).

The one thing I didn’t like, character wise, is the relationship between Issa and Kellin. They can’t stand each other as they meet, ignore each other, and at some point, without anything happening, they are madly in love. It was some unbelievable that I was completely baffled. I thought I might have missed a chapter or something.

I’m also on the fence regarding the conclusion of The Rose Throne, mostly because a lot happens at once, which felt very anti-climatic compared to the rest of the novel and because  miss Harrison made some very cleaving decisions. Not every character will live to tell the tale, and I was surprised at the way some characters dealt with the events. I can’t say much more without spoiling the conclusion to you, but in the end, I don’t know if I will read the second book in the series.

I liked the lore and the characters, and if you enjoy Mette Ivie Harrison’s writing style I’m sure you love enjoy this novel. Too bad it didn’t quite work for me in the end.

tynsig

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