Daring You To Read…Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Daring you to read

I’ve enjoyed Seanan McGuire’s writing since I first discovered ROSEMARY AND RUE, the first book in her October Daye series. I was immediately drawn into this amazing world populated by some really cool characters and filled with some truly brilliant mythology. Toby is a fae half-breed who’s lived a hard life. She’s spent time on the street who became a knight-errant from the Duchy of Shadowed Hills. She was turned into a fish but finally got back to her changeling self, only to find that life had gone on without her. She ends up in a self-imposed exile in San Fransisco, stocking shelves in a grocery store, until she’s called back to the fae world by the murder of Countess Evening Winterrose, one of the people she knew before her transformation.

Here’s the scoop on the October Daye world, in the author’s own words (from her website):

Faerie has always been with us. The fairy tales, ballads, and folklore of the mortal world are only shadows of the true, sometimes terrible reality of the fae. They survive in secrecy, keeping their Courts in the places where the light doesn’t fall, existing in parallel to the world we know. They aren’t human. They don’t want to be. But sometimes they take human lovers, and sometimes, those unions are fertile ones. Changelings aren’t stolen children; they’re the mortal halfbreeds born where the fae and human worlds collide, never able to fully belong to either, outsiders from birth.

October Daye knows too well how cruel Faerie can be to its changeling children. Born in San Francisco and carried to the Summerlands by her pureblood mother when she was just a child, she was raised in a world that never seemed capable of understanding her. She ran away the moment the opportunity presented itself, only to find that the human world wasn’t any better.

Things have been going downhill from there.

She describes it way better than I could have so I figured it was far better to borrow her words. 🙂

Other reasons I adore this book and series? Strong characterization, fantastic world building, genius plots, and brilliant writing. There are all these bits of humour amidst the danger and stress, which I always enjoy. And all of the Toby books are named from lines in Shakespeare plays, which is really cool (and honestly something I didn’t realize until I read it on her website because I’m not that fancy). I swear, if I ever get to meet the lovely Ms. McGuire, I’m going to fangirl squee in a most unbecoming way because I adore her work. The Toby Daye series is by far my favourite but I think you could try anything by her and love it.

Want more? I bet you do! Here’s the cover copy for ROSEMARY AND RUE:

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuireOctober “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas…

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer.

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

And here’s the rest of the series. Some of the covers are hotlinked to my posts. 🙂 Note that CHIMES OF MIDNIGHT won’t be available until September.

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

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!

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

Jenn

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Demon’s Curse by Alexa Egan

Demon's Curse by Alexa Egan Demon’s Curse by Alexa Egan

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 400 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release date: December 26, 2012

Series: The Imnada Brotherhood #1

Source: Review copy via Edelweiss

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

A rising star on the Covent Garden stage, Bianca Parrino believes she has everything she wants. Independence. Wealth. And a life finally free of her violent, abusive husband. But when her close friend, Adam, is murdered and Bianca is suspected in his death, she is unwittingly drawn into the search for his killer and soon must question everything she believes—about her friend, about herself, and about a world she never knew existed.

A member of the mysterious race of shape-shifting Imnada and part of an elite military unit, Captain Mac Flannery gathered intelligence during the Napoleonic wars. As a result of a savage massacre, Mac and the men he served with are cursed. Now one of them has been found murdered, and Mac suspects the existence of the Imnada has been discovered at last. His only link to unearthing the truth is the beautiful actress who turns up unexpectedly at Adam’s funeral.

Before long, Mac has more to contend with than Bianca’s overt mistrust, his ill-fated attraction to the haughty and beautiful actress, and his ongoing search for an end to the curse. Because Adam’s killer is back, and Mac is next on his list.

I love a good Regency romance every once in a while and so I couldn’t wait to give Alexa Egan’s series a try. On the whole, I enjoyed it, though it did have some flaws.

To start with the good stuff, though, I have to say how much I loved the setting and world building. Alexa Egan has created a very cool world and the mythology is nicely explored without overloading the reader. In this world, there are the Imnada, a race of shapechangers decended from aliens, and there are the Others, who are fey (at least as far as I can tell). The Imnada and Others are engaged in an ancient blood feud which have forced the Imnada to live in secret. Mac Flannery and three fellow Imnada and soldiers in the British military are cursed by a dying Other, and are forced to shift every evening, as soon as night falls. As a result, they’ve been exiled from their people because they’re considered tainted. It’s a pretty crappy lifestyle and they’ve all dealt with it in the own ways. They come back together after one of their number, Adam, is murdered, and learn that Adam has found a cure for the curse. Mystery, danger, and romance ensue, in ways that really kept me interested.

There’s also a really interesting subplot that revolves around the politics between the Imnada and Others. The Imnada have been in hiding for generations but there are some Imnada who want to reveal themselves and make a truce with the Others. It’s a divisive topic and I really got into this plot line. I hope there’s more of it in future novels in the series.

In terms of characters, things are less well done. I thought Bianca was an excellent heroine. She’s smart, a bit battered by life but still plucky. I instantly empathized with her and really enjoyed how her story was revealed. I also liked Mac, though not as much as Bianca. He’s a damaged guy with a ton of baggage, mostly having to do with being exiled. He deals with some of his problems over the course of the novel but some of this resolution felt a bit forced to me. Some of the supporting characters were also quite memorable but others were a bit murky. For example, I had some difficulty separating Mac fellow exiles from one another for a large part of the novel because they felt underdeveloped, though this was generally resolved towards the end as they accrued more page time. There are also some reveals about certain characters (who shall remain unnamed to avoid spoilers) that were big surprises, which I usually love. Except in this case, I felt like I’d missed out on a really good chunk of story, to the point where I started wondering if there was another novel before this one involving these characters. I also found the main baddy to be a bit flat. We’re told her motivation, we’re shown her bad deeds, but I didn’t find her to be a compelling foe.

Despite my issues with some of the characters, I did enjoy DEMON’S CURSE and plan to try AWAKEN THE CURSE, an e-prequel that’s available now. If you’re looking for a Regency romance with a brave heroine and an interesting supernatural landscape, you should keep DEMON’S CURSE in mind.

P.S. If you’d like more info about the series, you should check out this awesome interview with Alexa Egon on Literary Escapism!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Embers in a Dark Frost by Kelly Keaton: Review + tour-wide giveaway!

Embers in a Dark Frost by Kelly Keaton Embers in a Dark Frost by Kelly Keaton

Book stats:
Reading level: New adult
eBook: 825 KB
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: November 15, 2012

Series: Fire & Frost #1

Source: Review copy from Good Choice Reading blog tour

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

The Fire Breathers have come. The Underworld calls. A choice must be made…

With her feared half blood and flame-colored hair, DEIRA D’ANU is a constant reminder of human betrayal and the war that claimed the light from Innis Fail. Now, darkness and frost creep across the land, strengthening the Lord of the Underworld. War is imminent—an allegiance with the Fire Breathers is vital. When their champion, Balen, sees Deira, he believes she is the key to finding the light and stopping the dark frost.

But the Underworld calls to Deira, tempting her to turn her back on a world that never cared and betray the champion willing to sacrifice everything to keep her safe and save his world from darkness.

I have big love for this author when she writes the brilliant Charlie Madigan books as Kelly Gay so I was excited to give her alter ego a try, especially since EMBERS IN A DARK FROST sounded like fantasy magic when I read the blurb. I was a little wary when I found out that it was a New Adult novel because I’ve never tried anything in this new-ish genre and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but I generally enjoyed EMBERS IN A DARK FROST, though there are some flaws.

My favourite parts of the book are probably the characters. I thought Deira was a great protagonist. She’s been an outcast her whole life thanks to the red hair that marks her as having human blood (really not a good thing in this world) and she finally gets a purpose in this book. It’s great to see her grow and see the spark of who she is really build as she comes to accept her destiny and explore her abilities. This being the start of a trilogy, she doesn’t complete her journey but Deira’s definitely an interesting person that you’ll be rooting for. Plus, her powers are really cool and I look forward to seeing more of them in subsequent stories. (The New Adult categorization comes from the fact that she’s on a journey of self-discovery but she’s not a teenager anymore.) Balen, the champion and leader of the Fire Breathers, is also an interesting character, though he’s more mysterious since he doesn’t narrate. His relationship with the Crow was really neat (and I’m not going to say more than that to avoid spoilers) and the attraction between Balen and Deira is nicely established. Deira and Balen’s antagonist is also well developed and I found myself feeling sympathetic towards him, though not so sympathetic I agreed with his approach to his situation. I love it when authors create characters who aren’t black and white; the good guys and the bad guys both live in the grey in this book, which I found very satisfying.

I also really liked the setting, though I did find some of the world building unclear. I was instantly immersed in the world but it took me a little while to realize that it was a variation on Celtic mythology and to figure out exactly who Deira’s people are. There were hints here and there but I paused a few times wondering who Deira’s people are. They were obviously not human but it wasn’t laid out well enough for me to understand the origins of the mythology until near the end of the book. I understand not wanting to bog the reader down with a pile of description at the start but I would have appreciated a bit more clarity, especially since I know the author is a fantastic writer. Perhaps this is a side effect of self-publishing?

Although EMBERS IN A DARK FROST is not a perfect novel, I did quite enjoy reading it. It’s an engaging beginning for the author’s Fire & Frost world and a satisfying foray into a more high fantasy world. I look forward to the next chapter in Deira’s story, due out in 2013, and hope you’ll give EMBERS IN A DARK FROST a try.

Read an excerpt

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There’s an international tour-wide giveaway of one (1) $20 gift card!

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

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Jenn

Tab Bennett and the Inbetween by Jes Young

Tab Bennett and the Inbetween by Jes Young Tab Bennett and the Inbetween by Jes Young

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
E-book: 222 KB
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: August 7, 2012

Series: Princess of Twilight & Dawn #1

Source: Review copy via NetGalley

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

Yesterday Tab Bennett was a bank teller. Today she’s at the center of a centuries old war between Light and Dark. Tomorrow – well let’s just say she’ll be lucky if she lives to see it.

Engaged to her childhood sweetheart, employed at the local bank, and finally living on her own for the first time at twenty-four years-old, Tab Bennett has no interest in a fairy tale life. She’s perfectly happy with the normal one she already has. But when her sister is murdered on a moon-dark night, revealing a world of power and magic she never dreamed existed, a fairy tale is exactly what her life becomes. Figures it would have to be the Grimm kind.

Just like that, the life she had planned is over. Instead of cashing checks and handing out lollipops, Tab is unraveling clandestine assassination plots and learning to wield the magic that is her birthright. And as if fulfilling her destiny isn’t hard enough, she’ll also have to choose between Robbin, a man who’s turned out to be a lot more complicated than the proverbial boy next door, and Alexander, the handsome prince whose smile leaves her weak-kneed and weak-willed.

Now, while Tab struggles to hold on to the human world she’s always known and understand her place in the magical one she’s just discovered, dangerous forces are gathering close to home. If she wants to live to see happily ever after, she’ll have to figure out who she can trust, who wants her dead, and why. The answers will change everything she believes about herself, the people she loves, and the place she calls home.

I first heard about this book a little while ago on another blog (I can’t remember which so I can’t pass credit where credit is due — sorry!) and so I was quite happy when I saw TAB BENNETT AND THE INBETWEEN up on NetGalley.

TAB BENNETT AND THE INBETWEEN is an enjoyable read. It has a great cold opening, where Tab experiences her sister River’s death. (This isn’t a spoiler — it’s the first line of the book.) I was immediately drawn into Tab’s life and world, which is what I hope for when I pick up a book. And it seems like this is characteristic of Jes Young’s writing since I found myself engrossed in the plot, eager to find out what would happen next, especially since I’m a sucker for stories that involve the main character learning that s/he has a fated destiny that s/he never knew about. Some of the best stories involve this particular trope and I really don’t get tired of it. IN TAB BENNETT AND THE INBETWEEN, you get to see Tab go through all of the denial, confusion, and acceptance as some of her past is revealed to be lies. At times, I felt like she took to her fated destiny a bit too quickly but I generally found her reactions and responses authentic.

I also liked a lot of the world building that the author has used. In short, there’s an uneasy peace between the Inbetween and the Underneath. Tab’s mother was the queen of the Inbetween. While Tab was growing up in our world, the Inbetween has been weakening since it and its people gain strength from their leader. Meanwhile, the Underneath has been getting stronger since their king has been around. As a result, Tab needs to learn to master her gifts (which are different for everyone so no one knows what they are) and get accustomed to the fact that she’s a royal and will be sitting on the Inbetween throne just as soon as she gets her fae-legs underneath her, if you will. The mythology isn’t exceptionally original but it is well done, and there’s definitely something to be said for a well executed if familiar concept. This isn’t the only part of the story that feels predictable but I didn’t mind since the story moves along at a nice pace and there are some lovely moments between some of the characters.

The one part where the book felt forced was with the romance. Tab’s been in love with Robbin, her fiance, for ages but he breaks it off when he’s forced to reveal that he’s one of her guards and that their romance was contrived at the start. He does have feelings for her now but he’s forced to step aside so that Alexander can step in since there’s an enchantment that basically makes Tab and Alexander extremely horny for each other. I can get behind all of this but I didn’t really like how quickly Tab stopped fighting the enchantment and how much she waffled between the men. It seemed like the enchantment was a convenient way to add some steamy scenes and to create a love triangle without the love part (at least at the start), since Tab and Alexander had never met. Tab’s narration suggests that she’s experiencing a lot of conflict but I didn’t buy into this aspect of the story as much as others.

That being said, I did enjoy reading TAB BENNETT AND THE INBETWEEN and I’m looking forward to TAB BENNETT AND THE UNDERNEATH. I hope that the author has some surprises in store for her readers as we get to see a whole new side of the magical world that Tab’s a part of.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

A Trace of Moonlight blog tour: Guest post by Allison Pang + giveaway!

A Trace of Moonlight blog tour button

I’m over the moon (buh duh duh) about today’s guest because it’s Allison Pang, author of the Abby Sinclair trilogy. Her books are absolutely wonderful and I’m so excited that we’re taking part in her blog tour celebrating the release of the third and final book in the trilogy, A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT, which comes out tomorrow.

One of the things I like best about Allison’s books is how she manages to straddle the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The Abby Sinclair trilogy has many of the elements associated with both genres and I wanted to see what she had to say on the differences between the two.

Without further ado, here’s Allison’s take on the subject!

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UF vs PNR

One of the questions I see being asked a lot is what the main differences are between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Sometimes I think this is really more of a marketing issue – where a book is shelved can definitely influence a reader’s expectations. But these days it seems like the lines between the genres are blurring together.

While both genres certainly share a lot of the same elements – otherworldly powers or preternatural creatures, strong-willed heroines and tortured heroes – it can be hard to classify them correctly. The bottom line, though, is going to be the romance. Although UF stories *can* have romance, they don’t have to, whereas in a PNR, the romance *is* the story.

A Trace of Moonlight trading cards by DarchalaSo how do you tell if you’re reading a PNR or a UF with romantic elements? Often the key clue is the HEA (Happily Ever After). Romances are usually required to have one (and I’ve often seen reviewers lamenting the fact that the book they were reading *didn’t* have one – again – it can be hard if books aren’t labeled properly. ) But HEA or no, the main thing is the plot. If the plot centers around a couple and their quest to get together, it’s a romance. If you can take those romantic elements out of a story and the plot can still stand by itself, it’s a UF. Also, note that PNR books in a series will often focus on a different couple in each story – UF books will sometimes have a romantic arc that spans several books.

There are still plenty of books that seem to straddle this line (I’ve seen some reviewers and bloggers talking about labeling some books as UF-Romance to try to make sense of it) – my own included. That’s because when I originally wrote A Brush of Darkness, it was a PNR. Had an HEA and a *lot* more sex. >_< But after I sold it, the publisher asked if I could turn it into a UF – that meant toning down the love scenes and changing the focus of the plot. The secondary characters were beefed up, and the mystery elements fleshed out a bit more. And yes, there was no longer an HEA. I’m not sure how successful it was – I think that maybe there’s still too much romance for the average UF reader…and not enough for the average PNR reader, but overall I’m pretty happy with the mix.

So, what do you prefer to read? Clearly delineated genres, or books that seem to have multiple elements?

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Thanks for visiting us, Allison, and writing such a great post!

Want more Allison? You can find her online at her website or on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter. Allison also has a graphic novel project site with Irma ‘Aimo’ Ahmed called Sad Sausage Dogs that features a great story called Fox & Willow.

Click on the banner to see the other stops on Allison’s tour:

A Trace of Moonlight blog tour button

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More about A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT:

A Trace of Moonlight by Allison PangDrinking from the waters of lethe and offering herself up as Faerie’s sacrificial Tithe …these just might be the least of Abby Sinclair’s problems..

Abby’s pact with a demon—whether or not she remembers making it—is binding, so she’d better count herself lucky that (in the words of a daemon who knows better) there’s nearly always a loophole. But her friends’ reckless attempts to free her, well intentioned though they may be, set off a disastrous chain of events. In no time at all, Abby turns her incubus lover mortal and gets herself killed, cursed, and married to an elven prince whose mother wants her dead. She might have even been able to recover from all that had she not lost the Key to the CrossRoads to her mortal enemy, who promptly uses his restored power to wreak havoc on the OtherWorld and put its very existence in jeopardy…

Only one person can make things right again, but to find her, Abby must place her trust in allies of mixed loyalties, and conquer her nightmares once and for all.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an (NSFW) excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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giveaway

There is a tour-wide giveaway of 10 copies of A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT!

To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Open internationally

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Jenn

A Trace of Moonlight by Allison Pang

A Trace of Moonlight by Allison Pang A Trace of Moonlight by Allison Pang

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 400 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Pocket
Release date: October 30, 2012

Series: Abby Sinclair #3

Source: Review copy from Bewitching Blog Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Drinking from the waters of lethe and offering herself up as Faerie’s sacrificial Tithe …these just might be the least of Abby Sinclair’s problems..

Abby’s pact with a demon—whether or not she remembers making it—is binding, so she’d better count herself lucky that (in the words of a daemon who knows better) there’s nearly always a loophole. But her friends’ reckless attempts to free her, well intentioned though they may be, set off a disastrous chain of events. In no time at all, Abby turns her incubus lover mortal and gets herself killed, cursed, and married to an elven prince whose mother wants her dead. She might have even been able to recover from all that had she not lost the Key to the CrossRoads to her mortal enemy, who promptly uses his restored power to wreak havoc on the OtherWorld and put its very existence in jeopardy…

Only one person can make things right again, but to find her, Abby must place her trust in allies of mixed loyalties, and conquer her nightmares once and for all.

Reading A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT was bittersweet for me. I really enjoyed the two previous Abby Sinclair novels and so I was eager to see what Allison Pang was going to do with/to Abby and her band of friends and lovers. The author has created incredibly real and complex relationships in this trilogy and I’ve been on the edge of my proverbial seat waiting to find out how Abby would get herself out of the pickle she put herself in at the end of A SLIVER OF SHADOW (that whole Tithe thing in the cover copy) and if she’d settle down with Talivar or Ion. The good news? Most of the big questions are answered. The not-quite-as-good-but-definitely-not-bad news? I wasn’t as hooked as I’ve been in previous instalments.

A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT has everything I’ve come to expect from an Abby Sinclair novel: an unpredictable plot, fantastically fleshed-out characters, magnificent snark, and steamy romance. (In fact, the book opens with some very steamy romance, making the excerpt below NSFW.) The cover copy actually gives away a lot of the plot points, though it doesn’t hurt the reading of the story since there’s so much going on in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT. Thankfully, part of this “so much” is also a satisfying amount of resolution for a couple of the big arcs of the series: will Abby choose Ion or Talivar, and will she ever fully control her abilities as a Dreamer?

To address the first big question: I was thrilled with how Allison Pang dealt with this. I loved the way both Ion and Taliver are portrayed in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT because they both get to shine and you can really understand why Abby has feelings for both guys. I’ve always been a sucker for Talivar and his tragic story (which we learn more about!!) but Ion makes some incredible gestures in this book and I felt for him in a way that I never had previously. Relationships are such a key feature of this trilogy and the author really knows how to put the reader and the characters through the ringer, not just with Abby and her men but with other folks as well. Melanie and Nobu’s relationship exemplifies the word complicated and the Charlie-Robert-Moira-Benjamin situation is enough to break your heart, never mind Abby’s unusual relationship with her father (and her father’s with the Queen).

For the second question: I also really liked how Abby grows as a Dreamer in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT. She’s been a little afraid of her gifts for a while now but she really steps up her game this time around. It’s always fun watching a favourite character come into his or her own and I feel like Abby grows immensely in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT.

Despite this, I wasn’t as invested this time around. I usually enjoy a well-written finale, which A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT definitely is, but I felt a little disconnected from the story and I’m not sure why. Allison Pang’s writing remains outstanding and I truly did enjoy reading this book but it’s probably my least favourite of the three Abby novels. At first I thought it might be because this book is darker than the rest and Phin is not his usual snarky self throughout but I generally enjoy dark (urban) fantasy so I don’t think that this is the case. I think it might be information overload — there’s a lot of story and a ton of Big Events in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT!

While I didn’t love A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT as much as the two previous Abby novels, this book is still an excellent finale for the trilogy. I may not be shouting at the skies but I really did enjoy reading A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT and fully recommend the series to you. This novel offers closure on many of the main questions in the trilogy and leaves open the possibility of exploring the world further since there’s definitely not a nice, neat bow for all of the characters. I follow Allison Pang on her blog and Twitter (some might say “stalk”, but I’m sticking with “follow”) and it looks like she’s open to the idea of coming back to this world and telling another character’s story, so I’ve got my fingers crossed. I believe she mentioned Melanie, who I’ve always been interested in, so here’s hoping that passing comment comes true!

Read an (NSFW) excerpt

Jenn

Giveaway: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

giveaway

Thanks to Harlequin I have a super giveaway for you guys, to celebrate the release of The Lost Prince! It’s the first book in Julie Kagawa’s spin-off series, and bloggers are already raving about it!

About the book:

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1)

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Giveaway details:

Two (2) winners will each receive a copy of The Lost Prince!

Open to Canada & US

Giveaway ends November 5th, 2012.

To Enter, fill the rafflecopter form below!

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"When I’m not writing…" with Sandy Williams + giveaway!

Sandy Williams

I am beyond excited about this week’s guest — Sandy Williams — because her debut novel, THE SHADOW READER, blew my mind at the start of this year. I am so very excited about the sequel, THE SHATTERED DARK, which will be on shelves at the end of this month. I can’t wait to see what Sandy has in store for McKenzie!

Want to know what Sandy does when she’s not writing brilliant books? Keep reading to find out and to enter the giveaway!

WINW_logo

What do I do when I’m not writing? The answer to that question is easy, but rather mundane. When I’m not writing, I’m taking care of my twin boys. They were born in July of 2011, just three and a half months before The Shadow Reader hit the shelves. And just three and a half months before the sequel, The Shattered Dark, was due in to my editor. To say that those months were crazy/hectic is a supreme understatement. Fortunately, I was so sleep deprived I don’t remember most of it!

Love those boys to death, but they take up so much time. I’m either feeding them, changing diapers, or praying that they both stay down for at least an hour nap so I can get some words written!

So, I’m going to change the question up a little bit. Let’s make it: What did I used to do when I wasn’t writing?

Dominion Card Game

EUROGAMES!

My husband and I have always enjoyed playing what we call Eurogames. They’re not the typical Monopoly, Life, Trivial Pursuit games most families play. They usually revolve around different methods of collecting victory points, and there are often several different strategies to win.

We used to play games two or three times a month. We even went to the annual Board Game Geek Convention in Dallas one year – and any time we have a few free hours (and a babysitter!) we try to get together for some gaming with our friends. Some of my favorite games include Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, Agricola, and Puerto Rico. If you haven’t played a Eurogame before, I’d recommend starting with Settlers of Catan – it’s the gateway drug to geeky board games.

UFC

Watching. Not participating. 🙂

I’m not sure when I first became interested in mixed martial arts, but I love watching the fights. It’s not that I love violence or anything, but the skill these fighters have… It’s amazing. And I’ve found it’s great for book research. Knowing the damage a fist, an elbow, a kick can do and seeing all the different ways a fighter can hold, choke, and submit his opponent helps make the sparring in my books more realistic (I hope!). One of the things I love most about the UFC, though, is the hugging. Yes, the fighters hug at the end of a match. Well, the good I like do. I’m always amazed when a beaten up loser, covered in blood and bruises, gives a respectful hug to the guy who just kicked his butt. I love the respect these fighters have for each other!

Soccer

Disclaimer: I play soccer about as well as my character, McKenzie, wields a sword. Yep, that means I pretty much suck at it, but it’s so much fun. I’ve been lucky enough to play on a few co-ed teams that didn’t mind my poor skills, and ever since the first time I played, I’ve loved it, watching and participating. It’s great exercise! I can’t wait until my boys are old enough to play. I hear there’s a group nearby that starts at 18 months.

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What a great post, Sandy! Thanks for visiting us and sharing your non-writing life!

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

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Here’s the scoop on THE SHATTERED DARK (coming October 30):

Sandy Williams The Shattered DarkMcKenzie Lewis has a gift. It allows her access to a world few have seen, and even fewer can comprehend. It’s her secret. And it exists in the shadows…

McKenzie was a normal college student, save for one little twist: she’s a shadow reader, someone who can both see the fae and track their movements between our world and the Realm. It’s a gift for which she has been called insane, one for which she has risked family and friends—and one that has now plunged her into a brutal civil war between the fae.

With the reign of the king and his vicious general at an end, McKenzie hoped to live a more normal life while exploring her new relationship with Aren, the rebel fae who has captured her heart. But when her best friend, Paige, disappears McKenzie knows her wish is, for now, just a dream. McKenzie is the only one who can rescue her friend, but if she’s not careful, her decisions could cost the lives of everyone she’s tried so hard to save.

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

You should also check out THE SHADOW READER, the first book in the series:

Sandy Williams The Shadow ReaderSome humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But somem shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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giveaway

Sandy is generously offering one (1) lucky reader his or her choice of THE SHADOW READER or THE SHATTERED DARK!

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

Open internationally

Ends Monday, October 22, 2012

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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

Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

Grave Dance Kalayna Price Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Roc
Release date: July 5, 2011

Series: Alex Craft #2

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft.

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.

The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed GRAVE DANCE. I’d forgotten how much I liked GRAVE WITCH until I re-read it a while ago (and then dared you to read it) and I think GRAVE DANCE was even better than its predecessor!

GRAVE DANCE begins with Alex still dealing with the aftermath of GRAVE WITCH. We learn that Falin, her love interest, took off shortly after everything in the first novel, and Alex hasn’t seen him since. Alex is also trying to figure out how to deal with the fact that Death loves her, something that leaves her at a complete loss. Thankfully, there’s at least one positive outcome from the events of GRAVE WITCH: Alex has plenty of business, thanks to her time in the spotlight. Her latest case is a creepy one: a bunch of found feet, courtesy of the Nekros Police Department. Her initial work on this case is what spurs the rest of the action in GRAVE DANCE — and let me tell you, there is plenty of action!

Alex’s investigation of the mysterious feet leads her into an even deeper tangle with the fae, despite her desire to avoid them. It’s a lot of fun — at least for the reader — since we get to see more of the fae world. Kalayna Price didn’t explore it too heavily in GRAVE WITCH but the fae and their ways definitely figure more heavily in GRAVE DANCE. The new developments force Alex to test the limits of her powers and deal with her recently discovered heritage. There are some wonderful scenes with folks from Faerie but I don’t wnat to talk about it too much to avoid spoiling things for you all.

In fact, it’s hard to talk about GRAVE DANCE without mentioning stuff from the end of GRAVE WTICH so I’ll sign off by saying that Kalayna Price has done a marvellous job of crafting a roller coaster that introduces her readers to new parts of Alex’s world and includes incredible magic and some delicious moments with her men.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Endure by Carrie Jones

Endure (Need, #4)Endure by Carrie Jones

Book Stats:
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Genre: Paranormal
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release date: May 8, 2012

Series: Need #4

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

It’s all-out war (and no-holds-barred romance) in the climactic conclusion to Carrie Jones’s bestselling series.

Zara is at the center of an impending apocalypse. True, she’s successfully rescued Nick from Valhalla, but it simply isn’t enough. Evil pixies are ravaging Bedford, and they need much more than one great warrior; they need an army. Zara isn’t sure what her role is anymore. She’s not just fighting for her friends; she’s also a pixie queen. And to align her team of pixies with the humans she loves will be one of her greatest battles yet. Especially since she can’t even reconcile her growing feelings for her pixie king . . .

Zara and her merry band of acolytes already accomplished a lot to rid their town of evil pixies, but when the End of the world is at stake, the expectations are higher. If the sheer pressure of the task wasn’t enough, you could add to Zara’s burden, the fact that she has to deal with the consequences of becoming a pixie. She might have sacrificed a lot to save Nick, but he doesn’t seem all that grateful and it adds to our hero’s stress. The End is near, can a group of teenagers avert the Apocalypse?

Endure is the last book in the Need series and I’m still not sure I liked it. I think I’ll have to go with the “It’s not you, it’s me” cliché because this book was really up to par with the previous ones in the series, but I found myself kind of disconnected for a good two-third of the novel. I guess it’s a good thing it was the last novel, because I’m not sure I’d have picked the next installment. I think I might have out-grown the series, if that makes any sense? Well let’s get onto details!

First, I had some issue with the novel’s pace. The first two-third of the book were really slow and close to eventful. Everything revolved around two elements: figuring what’s the next step in the Zara vs Pixie war and the love triangle between Zara-Astley-Nick. The former element was really stagnant and it bothered me. The kids want to create some sort of army, yet they don’t really know what’s really going on and why they are training aforementioned low-budget army. The latter was a necessary evil in the Entice’s events’ aftermath and Nick, that ungrateful *fill in the blank*, really rubbed me the wrong way. His attitude simply disgusted me, and I guess it’s somehow a good thing because it was the only emotion I felt for the first half of the novel. I used to love this fur ball, but Astley really stole the show in my heart.

Now that I’m done complaining, here’s the good part. At around 60% of the book, the plot starts making sense. Zara undercover some information after being attacked and the teens finally have some kind of plan *halleluiah*. Zara, Nick, Issie, Astley and Amelia head to Iceland hoping to find the gate to Hel (the Norse version) and some answers. That’s the moment things picked up for me and the pace kicks up. A chain of unexpected events will unfold and I really liked that I was surprised by a couple of plot twists, which I won’t mention for your sake =)

The conclusion was great, for both the novel and the entire series. Carrie Jones created a really great heart-pounding final battle, with a couple of very interesting surprises. She also blessed us with closure, something I find often misses at the conclusion of a series.

Also, I’d like to take a second to mention how gorgeous this cover is. By far my favorite in the series!

All in all, this book was true to the previous books in the series, and I’m sure fans will appreciate it. Endure didn’t quite work for me, but it’s probably my own fault hehe. Has it ever happened to you before to realize a series isn’t for you anymore, even though it’s still good?

tynsig