Daring You To Read… The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

0daringyou_thumb[2]

This week, I’m daring you to read a book I’ve recently discovered myself. THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET by Kady Cross is without a doubt an interesting book that can’t be overlooked. As the first book of the Steampunk Chronicles, it starts off with quite a bang. Even thought this is the first full book of the series, a prequel called THE STRANGE CASE OF FINLEY JANE is also available and should probably be read first.

I’m not sure what I liked the most about the series but one thing’s for sure, both the characters and the steampunk setting are impressive. Finley Jane is such a great protagonist. Despite her mysterious abilities, she’s not overly confident. On the contrary, she’s simply trying to fit into a society that expects young women to be pretty, dull and submissive. However, when she gets the strange urges to use her abilities (superstrength and speed among them), she does the complete opposite of what society might expect—like punch a sleazy lord in the face. Since puberty, she’s been dealing with her ever increasing abilities and until the beginning of THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET, she thought she was the only one with strange abilities. So when she meets a gang a misfits that have their own special talents, the real adventures begins.

London 1897 is the setting of the book but it’s unlike the London we know today or back then. Automatons are everywhere, clockwork gadgets are being created daily and most importantly, the steampunk fashion is not to be missed.

If you’re a fan of the genre, this book will surely please. The only thing is, I feel guilty for recommending this series even if I haven’t read past book 1. However, since I enjoyed both the prequel and the first book so much, I’m sure the rest of the series is as entertaining as these two.

Here’s a bit more about THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET:

kady cross 1In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no "normal" Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of "them." The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help–and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on—even if it seems no one believes her.

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The series in order, so far:

kady cross 0,5 kady cross 1 The Girl in the Clockwork Collar kady cross 2.5 kady cross 3

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 ^^

What do you think? Have you read this series?

Dare You To Blog Tour

 Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Book stats:

Reading Level: Young Adult
eARC: 462 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 28, 2013

Series: Pushing The Limits #2

Source: Netgalley for blog tour

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….

"I dare you…"

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

Holy cow. Ho-ly Cow. That’s all I have to say. Katie McGarry’s debut novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS, is among my favorite books ever. When I found out she was coming out with a sequel, I freaked out but resigned myself to the fact that it probably wouldn’t be able to live up to the amazing romantic relationship and journey that surrounded Noah and Echo. Boy, was I wrong. This novel was so amazing that I can’t find anything to truly criticize. McGarry is just that good.

The characterization in this novel is so deliciously complex and compelling. It makes the story. Particularly in Ryan’s case. The book starts off with him and his best friends in Taco Bell. They’re pretty much in a dare battle to see who can walk away with the most phone numbers that night. Upon this realization, I thought that I’d be dealing with a jerk with this story. A guy who lives off dares? Really? But what I quickly learned was that Ryan thrives off the adrenaline dares give him because he loves to win. He loves to win because in life, he sort of loses. When I say that, I mean that he has a lot of hidden demons haunting him at home and the true perfection that was once his life was lost when his elder brother, Mark, dropped a bomb on the family. He takes dares and allows his competitiveness shine through challenges on the baseball field and off of it in order to keep some sort of control over his life. And in this sense we’re presented with a really unique main character that is not common in young adult literature these days. This seemingly perfect boy is more complex than he seems. He loves to write to free his mind and has a way with words, though this is a hidden talent in comparison to his major pitching skills. He’s compassionate, he cares, he would never willingly hurt a woman and always stands up for the underdog. He loves with his entire self and causes passion to go through the roof. And he fights for what he wants, and in this case, that’s Beth. He’s not a player, he’s not a cheater, he has no flaws in that sense besides the demons that haunt him. And because of this, not only is he swoon-worthy, but he’s real.

Beth also grew greatly in this novel. It’s no secret that she wasn’t the easiest character to like in PUSHING THE LIMITS, but as we learned why she is the way she is, I quickly began to love her. She’s a broken soul that throws up ugly and confrontational fronts to hide the fact that she’s really broken into a million little pieces that have left her unable to truly trust or love anybody in her life. These two deliciously complicated characters take us on a whirlwind roller coaster that is most unexpected, but greatly welcome. DARE YOU TO serves as the perfect example to highly McGarry’s literary genius and her ability to deliver realistic characters that you can relate to, love, and grow alongside. My one qualm is that the back-plot with Isaiah was so important that I almost feel as if the end of his part of the story wasn’t neatly tied up. However, I’m sure this is in large part due to the fact that book three, CRASH INTO YOU, will be his story. And I’m craving it because McGarry’s writing just keeps getting better and better. 

In the end, I know only one word to describe this book and that word is "beautiful." The writing, the characterization, the messages, the romance, and the journey to self-worth and self-discovery on both ends are beautiful. Everything about it is beautiful. I suppose when you read a truly amazing love story, that’s the outlook it gives you, but I always feel as if I come away from reading one of McGarry’s stories refreshed with a slightly new outlook on the possibility of love and everything that comes with it. I truly recommend reading this series to anyone who wants to be wowed and moved, but you have to start with book one in order to understand a lot of the little things that add up in book two. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

  _________________________

giveaway_thumb[2]_thumb[2]

Here is your chance to win an (1) amazing and unique DARE YOU TO Grand Prize Package full of goodies, including an iPod nano, iTunes Gift Card, Baseball Jersey, Leather Bracelet and a copy of PUSHING THE LIMITS and DARE YOU TO. A secondary prize is copy of either PUSHING THE LIMITS or DARE YOU TO.

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, April 29th – Bewitched Bookworms 
Tuesday, April 30th – Harlequin Blog 
Wednesday, May 1sh – The Irish Banana
Thursday, May 2nd – Review – Tyngas Reviews 
Friday, May 3rd –Evie Bookish 
Monday, May 6th – YA – Bibliophile
Tuesday, May 7th – Review – Real of Fiction 
Wednesday, May 8th – Book Swarm
Thursday, May 9th – Review – Book Nook 
Friday, May 10th – Alice Marvels 
Monday, May 13th –Xpresso Reads
Tuesday, May 14th – Review – Chapter by Chapter 
Wednesday, May 15th – Book and A Latte
 Thursday, May 16th – Review – Blog Girl 
Friday, May 17th – Supernatural Snark

About Katie McGarry

Katie was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of the full-length Young Adult novels PUSHING THE LIMITS and DARE YOU TO, and the e-novella CROSSING THE LINE. Her debut novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS, is a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and an RT Book Reviews 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel.

Writing has given Katie an excuse to pursue her passions. Research for her books has provided her with the amazing opportunity to train with baseball players, ride along in a drag car at ninety-six miles per hour and experience boxing and mixed martial arts. The most memorable moments for Katie are when she speaks to groups of teenagers about her research, writing and the truth that no dream is out of reach. Katie would love to hear from her readers.

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2) julie Kagawa review

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian/Paranormal
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: April 30, 2013

Series: Blood of Eden #2

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

Leaving Eden, a safe haven where humans aren’t ruled by vampires, and Zeke behind, to rescue her Sire wasn’t a difficult decision to make for Allison. It was a painful one though. After everything she went through along side her human friend, Allie has very strong feelings for him but vampires and humans aren’t meant to be together. He is safe now, and Kanin is being tortured by a psychopath. There’s no way she could ignore his call.

Extremely exciting, The Eternity Cure is a sequel that did not disappoint. When I finished the first book, I truly had no idea where Julie Kagawa would take us next, and which characters we’d meet again, and I have to say I am very pleased with her decisions. Allie and Kanin are at the center of the plot line, no surprise there, but *slight spoiler* I did not expect Zeke and Jackal to be present. The latter also held a really big role and he is the biggest surprise of all!

Allie is hanging on to her humanity by the skin of her teeth, fighting her demon every step of her quest, and meeting an old friend along her journey puts her determination to the test. I really loved seeing firsthand how she fights for control and strives to beat the monster down. She almost steps onto the dark side multiple times and I’m seriously wondering how long she’s gonna hold on. Jackal isn’t helping of course, taunting her on every occasion and surprisingly I truly liked him in this book. I hear you all saying ‘say what??’ yes, yes my friends, wait and see for yourself! He embraces his demon side and is proud of it, but his sense of humour and questionable commitment somehow spoke to me. Zeke is sweet as always but acquired a more rugged quality and I loved it. He really broke my heart near the end – twice – and I can’t wait to see the repercussions of his last actions. I was extremely glad we got to know more about Kanin, at last, because he left a strong impression on me in The Immortal Rules and I’m happy to say he lived up to my expectations.

I felt engaged throughout the whole story and the plot line is partly responsible for it. Allie’s journey, to find her sire, save him and then safe the consequences, and Sarren, was very exciting and action-packed. Kagawa threw more than one curved-ball our way, and each one surprised me. You think you know a character and his or her faith, and bam, you’re wrong. I loved that I was kept on the edge of my seat from the first to the very last page. The emotional rollercoaster was sometimes hard to bare and I will blame Julie Kagawa for a new white hair or two.

I thought I would die from suspense after I read the last chapter, obviously I survived, but barely… lol Such cliff-hangers should simply be illegal and I hope I have to chance to get an early copy of Blood of Eden #3 because I don’t know how I will wait this long.

The Blood of Eden series is a very unique one because it blends dystopian and paranormal genre perfectly. Set in a world where humans created zombie-like monstrosity, while trying to find a cure to a virus that almost wiped them off the face of the earth, and Vampires are ruling and treating humans like cattle, the fight for survival is a daily agenda. Julie Kagawa set the bar really high with the first book and the second book was up to par and so i am obligated to insist you give this series a chance!

Read an excerpt

tynsig

The Nymph King by Gena Showalter

showalter - the nymph king

The Nymph King by Gena Showalter

Book Stats:

Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 373 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Release date: February 1, 2007

Series: Atlantis #3

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Personal shelf

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Enter a world of dark seduction and powerful magic . . . enter Atlantis . . .

Females young and old, beautiful and plain crave Valerian’s touch. None can resist his blatant sensuality and potent allure . . . until he steals Shaye Holling from a Florida beach and holds her prisoner in his underwater kingdom.

The cynical Shaye wants nothing to do with the mighty warlord, but she’s inexplicably drawn to him. For underneath the warrior’s arrogant beauty lies a complex and powerful man. A man whose caress is like fire . . .

Now Valerian must fight for the privilege of claiming her as his own. Because there’s one thing Shaye doesn’t know . . .

That when a nymph discovers his true mate, she’s his for life.

What makes me reread a book? Usually it’s when I know I enjoyed a certain story and I found the characters entertaining and engaging. Usually, it’s books with a bit of humor thrown into the story. But most important of all, it’s usually books that are easy to read and well written. THE NYMPH KING touches more or less all these criteria and that’s why I tend to reread this one quite often enough.

While I enjoy it every time I read it, it’s not a book I would recommend to everyone. It is published by Harlequin so obviously you’re guaranteed a book that’s heavy on the romance. What I find most attractive about this book is that the setting is Atlantis. I’ve always been interested about anything Atlantis (or mythology for that matter) so I might be a bit biased so if that doesn’t interest you, the author’s imagination while creating this world just might. Or you might simply be pulled in because of the characters’ awesome chemistry.

Shaye and Valerian have this love/hate relationship that goes on throughout the book and I find it very entertaining, if not humorous. When Shaye is kidnapped at the beginning of the book, I love how she’s not seduced right away by Valerian, who carries her off to Atlantis without her permission. She’s very vocal about the fact that she’s not happy and she doesn’t understand how the other women who were kidnapped are happy with their situation and swoon over their kidnappers. As a self proclaimed independent woman, Shaye doesn’t like to rely on anyone but herself, let alone a man. She has decided from an early age that she doesn’t need a man to make her life feel complete and that creating emotional links will only lead to heartbreak. As Valerian tries to seduce her, you can see how her no touch façade fades little by little. As a nymph, Valerian needs sex to stay physically strong so when Shaye continues to reject him physically, he begins to weaken, which isn’t good when the dragons attack his castle. Eventually, Shaye’s refusal gets a little repetitive and maybe a little annoying but the annoyance doesn’t last very long.

This being the third book of the series, you should probably read the other two first, but if you don’t, it’s certainly not a problem. The story holds on it’s own. Thinking back, I think I enjoyed this book better when I first read it, but it will always have a special place in my bookshelves. In fact, almost all of Gena Showalter’s books can be found on my shelves or on my Kindle. She certainly knows how to write great characters and the ones in this book are part of one of my favorite pair. The banter between them is funny and entertaining, and their love/hate relationship never gets old. Be seduced by the gorgeous Atlantis nymphs in THE NYMPH KING. Their hotness is definitively not something you’ll regret.

stephsig

Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

Outside In by Maria V. SnyderOutside In by Maria V. Snyder

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 328 pages
Genre: Sci-fi/Dystopia
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: March 1, 2011

Series: Insiders #2

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Me?

A leader?

Okay, I did prove that there’s more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion—between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we’re free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again—while still touching base with Riley, of course. He’s the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there’s outside and then there is Outside.

And something from Outside wants In.

It’s hard for me to put my thoughts regarding this one into words. I enjoy its prequel so much, so I was very anxious to get my hands on it. But I have to admit that I don’t think it lived up to its amazing sequel. However, I still found this one enjoyable. It’s hard to describe. The best way that I can explain how I feel about this book is that book one is worthy of a very solid four stars, but this book can only garner three stars.

When it came to plot progression, this novel was by far the superior of the two. What I love about Snyder is that she is very much able to deliver realistic action sequences and suspenseful mysteries. The plot, like book one and every other novel I have read by Snyder, easily held my interest and my attention. I didn’t ever want to put it down and easily flew through it in a single sitting. The entire plot of this book centers around sabotage happening on the Inside and there’s a frenzy to uncover who is setting everything off before something terrible happens. The addition of newfound Outsiders wanting In added great suspense to the last third of the novel. It was pretty cool that this novel contained explosions and new types of weaponry as well, mostly from the hands of Logan, the amazing Tech-No that I love dearly.

Plot-wise though, the book was also slightly frustrating. More than once Trella eavesdropped or noticed people doing suspicious things. And every time (I can recount at least three times off of the top of my head) it was one of those instances where she recognized the individual’s voice, or body movement, or physical stature, but couldn’t pinpoint their identity though it was on the tip of her tongue. Then when the reveal of the person’s identity came, she would somehow slap herself mentally and pull out the classical, “I knew it!” Not literally, but that’s how she was consistently described emotionally when the revelations hit. These moments were clearly there to further the plot progression of the book because the entire scheme would have been spoiled if she recognized any of these people, but after the second instance of a near recognition happened I began to get slightly frustrated because Trella’s previous genius went completely out the window in this one for most of the novel.

When it came to characterization, I didn’t think there was anything new that could be described as marvelous. The new characters were interesting enough and older characters continued to grow, but no serious break-through’s occurred. Trella, in all honesty, seemed very immature in this one, though she did continue to have her moments of live-saving genius.

And don’t even get me started on Riley. One of the aspects of this novel that I believe pales in comparison to book one is the romance. It was cute and slow in book one, but this one it was too fast and rocky. In the blink of an eye, a sweet relationship turned into a physical one. And that’s it, it was purely physical. If they weren’t doing something physical, they were arguing. And whenever they fight or take a break, they reconcile after saying something along the lines of “if you do what I say, my body is completely yours” or something of the sort. I understand how it’s a way to instill trust. They trust each other so much that they’ll do whatever the other one wants, but it all relates back to the physical. I missed the emotion of it all. The declarations of love almost seemed forced.

All in all, this book was still enjoyable, but it can’t be compared to the first. While some plot reveals ended the story well, I felt as if the overall ending was lacking in the sense that I just wasn’t happy. Book one wowed me so much more than its companion novel in this series. The emotional connection that I had with Trella in book one despite her anti-hero ways were completely nonexistent in this one.

With that being said, I do encourage any sci-fi lovers to check out book one. This series will especially be enjoyable for those who like space novels that aren’t huge on aliens. I encourage you to create your own opinions regarding this series and I urge you to continue on to book two if you loved book one as much as I did. While this book isn’t as great, it delivers an enticing story that’s easy to read and ties up some very interesting plot points.

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="jensig" border="0" alt="Lili" src="https://tyngatest.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/lilisig1.png"

Pooka in My Pantry blog tour: Tell Me How You Feel by R. L. Naquin + giveaway!

Pooka in My Pantry blog tour

This week, we have R. L. Naquin joining us for her blog tour in support of her latest release, POOKA IN MY PANTRY. POOKA IN MY PANTRY is the second book in her Monster Haven series from Carina Press, which feature an empath named Zoey Donovan, who’s just trying to figure out her powers and still manage the wedding planning business she runs with her best friend.

Please join me in welcoming R. L. to Tynga’s Reviews!

————————-

Tell Me How You Feel
by R. L. Naquin

Every urban fantasy heroine has to have a thing. You know, a unique skill or quality. Something she’s better at than anyone else. She might not even know about it herself. That special something might be as simple as a sharp intelligence that helps her think her way out of trouble. Maybe she shifts into cat form, moves objects with her mind, or has fairy blood.

It could be an inherited, wicked-sharp sword she calls Senor Shinyton Prickleblade.

If there’s nothing at all special about her, start to finish, why would we read her story? I can ask my neighbor how her day at work was and save myself the time. I’m sure her story will be every bit as exciting.

In my Monster Haven series, Zoey Donovan is an empath. She feels the emotions of the people (and creatures) around her.

In a sword fight, that’s pretty lame.

While empathy is a pretty crappy offensive skill (second only to the ability to eat Cheetos without getting your fingers dirty), Zoey learns to read a situation in order to handle it better. If you know somebody is yelling at you because they’re afraid of something and not because they’re angry, you can diffuse the situation rather than escalate it.

This poses a huge difficulty from a writing standpoint.

Since grade school, we’ve all heard the mantra “show, don’t tell.” Also, one of the words on the no-no list that authors are given is the word “felt.” (Yes, we have a no-no list which includes words like “just,” “like,” all adverbs ending in “ly,” and any references to “secret gardens” or “throbbing manhoods.”) It’s considered lazy writing to have the main character constantly say she felt sad or angry or nauseated. This is partly because the word “felt” would be overused, but also because it’s telling, not showing. If someone is sad, show it in body language. If they’re angry, make them throw something. We can’t simply write “I felt angry.” Yawn.

But feeling is my heroine’s thing. I could get special dispensation from the Department of Creative License Registration, right? Wrong. I had to get around it.

Monster in My Closet by R. L. NaquinIn order to show you what Zoey feels from other people’s emotions, I subject Zoey to all sorts of physical sensations. Anger might come across as a prickly heat against her face. Fear can ooze across the floor and suck at her ankles. Sadness settles heavy across her shoulders and weighs her down.

Sure. I could have Zoey tell you that somebody is terrified. But that would be lazy. I’m not going to tell you, and neither is she. We’d rather show you.

And then she’s going to somehow take that information and save the world with it. Or at least keep her friends alive.

Not an easy task when the Leprechaun Mafia, The Board of Hidden Affairs, an angry Grim Reaper, three sharks, and a herd of goats are all after her.

So far, nobody’s bothered to ask Zoey how she feels.

For a free short story set in the Monster Haven world (with a bonus peek at the first chapter of Pooka in My Pantry), visit here: Ill-Conceived Magic

————————-

Thanks so much for visiting us, R. L., and enjoy the rest of the blog tour!

Want more R. L.? You can find her online at her website or follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter.

You can also see the rest of her tour by clicking on the tour button below.

Pooka in My Pantry blog tour

————————-

More about POOKA IN MY PANTRY:

Pooka in My Pantry by R. L. NaquinA Monster Haven Story, book two

Zoey Donovan–empath, wedding planner, go-to girl for monsters with personal problems–has been marked twice for pickup by Death. On both occasions, Riley the smoking-hot reaper has refused to follow through. For his breach of protocol, Riley is now on probation. For her refusal to die on schedule, Zoey’s right to live is challenged. She will have to undergo a life-or-death trial, but she won’t know when or where it will happen…

Staying alive might not be so difficult if the Leprechaun Mafia hadn’t strolled into town. Now every business owner with the slightest connection to the supernatural community is being threatened with the most appalling bad luck if they don’t pay up. Mirrors are smashed, bodies are dropping, and Zoey’s still got clients waiting for fabric samples.

With a little luck, she might be able to save everyone and still have time for a second attempt at a decent first date with her favorite reaper.

Find out how it began in Monster in My Closet, available now!

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon

And here’s the scoop on MONSTER IN MY CLOSET, the first book in the Monster Haven series:

Monster in My Closet by R. L. NaquinI stopped believing in monsters long ago. But I knew I wasn’t imagining things when I found one in my kitchen baking muffins. I’d seen him before: lurking in my closet, scaring the crap out of my five-year-old self. Turns out that was a misunderstanding, and now Maurice needs a place to stay. How could I say no?

After all, I’ve always been a magnet for the emotionally needy, and not just in my work as a wedding planner. Being able to sense the feelings of others can be a major pain. Don’t get me wrong, I like helping people–and non-people. But this ability has turned me into a gourmet feast for an incubus, a demon that feeds off emotional energy. Now, brides are dropping dead all over town, and my home has become a safe house for the supernatural. I must learn to focus my powers and defeat the demon before he snacks on another innocent woman and comes looking for the main course…

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon

———————————

giveaway

There is a tour-wide giveaway for R. L.’s tour:
One (1) person will get a set of Monster Haven ebooks (MONSTER IN MY CLOSET and POOKA IN MY PANTRY)
R. L. is also giving away five (5) e-book copies (winner’s choice of either MONSTER IN MY CLOSET and POOKA IN MY PANTRY)

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jenn

Pooka in My Pantry by R. L. Naquin

Pooka in My Pantry by R. L. Naquin Pooka in My Pantry by R. L. Naquin

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
E-book: 236 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Carina Press
Release date: March 25, 2013

Series: Monster Haven #2

Source: Review copy from publisher

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

A Monster Haven Story, book two

Zoey Donovan–empath, wedding planner, go-to girl for monsters with personal problems–has been marked twice for pickup by Death. On both occasions, Riley the smoking-hot reaper has refused to follow through. For his breach of protocol, Riley is now on probation. For her refusal to die on schedule, Zoey’s right to live is challenged. She will have to undergo a life-or-death trial, but she won’t know when or where it will happen…

Staying alive might not be so difficult if the Leprechaun Mafia hadn’t strolled into town. Now every business owner with the slightest connection to the supernatural community is being threatened with the most appalling bad luck if they don’t pay up. Mirrors are smashed, bodies are dropping, and Zoey’s still got clients waiting for fabric samples.

With a little luck, she might be able to save everyone and still have time for a second attempt at a decent first date with her favorite reaper.

Find out how it began in Monster in My Closet, available now!

As the cover copy says, POOKA IN MY PANTRY is the second book in R. L. Naquin’s Monster Haven series. Last time around, Zoey took on a single opponent but now she finds herself deluged with problems. First, there’s the fact that she should have died a couple times but her love interest, Riley the reaper, didn’t follow through. As a result, she has a limited amount of time to either die or become an Aegis, a human with special gifts that helps the Hidden (the supernatural population that hides from most humans). She’s basically cursed with terrible luck, leading to embarrassing stains, lots of accidents, and generally misfortune. Zoey also has to combat the Leprechaun Mafia, which was one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a long time. They’re not all tiny gingers and I quite enjoyed the surprising amount of menace and damage they brought to POOKA IN MY PANTRY. And then there’s the titular pooka, whose name is Silas and who is basically travelling bad luck. Basically, Zoey is not having a good couple of weeks. These three different problems eventually all converge because what kind of story would it be if they didn’t? It makes POOKA IN MY PANTRY more action-packed than its predecessor and I quite enjoyed all of the excitement.

There’s also a whole lot of worldbuilding in POOKA IN MY PANTRY because we get to see so much more of this Hidden world. It turns out there’s a Board of Hidden Affairs, an organization that takes care of the Hidden. It’s basically a Hidden government, with different departments like the Human/Hidden Relations Division, a Social Assistance department, and more. Every single Hidden is under their purview, and they’re trying to figure out if that includes Zoey or not. If she is an Aegis, she’s their responsibility, whether she wants to be or not. (Hint: she doesn’t want.) It’s really neat to see the mythology of the series expand so much, especially since it gives us some insight into why Zoey’s mother isn’t around and why no one can really remember her leaving. I thought that R. L. Naquin would draw out the mystery surrounding Zoey’s mom for a bit longer so it was exceptionally gratifying to learn a bit earlier than expected.

On a personal level, Zoey makes a lot of progress. She explores her sort-of relationship with Riley, even amidst all of the chaos, and she reveals more about her new life to those around her. It’s nice to see her taking chances on people, despite everything that’s going on around her. Naquin gives Zoey opportunities to grow as a person and to learn what she’s capable of. She “levels up” on several fronts and it’s cool to see.

I hope I’ve shown you just why I liked POOKA IN MY PANTRY so much. It’s a great book and a strong sequel to MONSTER IN MY CLOSET. Zoey’s not your traditional urban fantasy heroine (as I mentioned in my post on MONSTER IN MY CLOSET but she’s a great main character all the same. If you’re looking for a series that’s a bit different from the standard genre fare, look no further than R. L. Naquin’s Monster Haven stories. Zoey’s a refreshing voice in the urban fantasy sea and I look forward to spending more time with her.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Monster in My Closet by R. L. Naquin

Monster in My Closet by R. L. Naquin Monster in My Closet by R. L. Naquin

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
E-book: 209 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Carina Press
Release date: July 30, 2012

Series: Monster Haven #1

Source: Review copy from Carina Press

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

I stopped believing in monsters long ago. But I knew I wasn’t imagining things when I found one in my kitchen baking muffins. I’d seen him before: lurking in my closet, scaring the crap out of my five-year-old self. Turns out that was a misunderstanding, and now Maurice needs a place to stay. How could I say no?

After all, I’ve always been a magnet for the emotionally needy, and not just in my work as a wedding planner. Being able to sense the feelings of others can be a major pain. Don’t get me wrong, I like helping people–and non-people. But this ability has turned me into a gourmet feast for an incubus, a demon that feeds off emotional energy. Now, brides are dropping dead all over town, and my home has become a safe house for the supernatural. I must learn to focus my powers and defeat the demon before he snacks on another innocent woman and comes looking for the main course…

MONSTER IN MY CLOSET is a different kind of urban fantasy story. The heroine, Zoey Donovan, does not kick butt in the traditional UF sense. She doesn’t have any martial skills, superpowers, or major supernatural abilities. Instead, Zoey is a quirky, empathic wedding planner who didn’t know she was an empath until the early pages of MONSTER IN MY CLOSET. I usually prefer a butt-kicking heroine like Kate Daniels or Gin Blanco but Zoey really won me over with her offbeat sense of style, guts, and smarts. She may not have a lot of muscle but she makes up for the lack with the other aspects of her personality.

That being said, I hesitated to pick up MONSTER IN MY CLOSET at first because of the unusual title and cover. I hemmed and hawed for a while but, having read the book, I think the cover and description perfectly captures the spirit and plot of the novel. They let the reader know that the Monster Haven series is not your average urban fantasy, which is completely true. So if you’re waffling about whether or not to give MONSTER IN MY CLOSET a shot because of these reasons I urge you to read the excerpt linked below and see if you like Zoey and R. L. Naquin’s voices. I’m a big fan now that I’ve tried the series out.

Another aspect of MONSTER IN MY CLOSET that I quite liked is its originality. R. L. Naquin has populated her series with some atypical supernatural beings. Can you think of another book that features a closet monster? Or a pygmy dragon or skunk-ape? I can’t. 🙂 And that monster? His name is Maurice and he’s a thoroughly charming closet monster who ends up becoming Zoey’s housekeeper and guide through the supernatural. In fact, MONSTER IN MY CLOSET has a fantastic cast of supporting characters. I was really taken with Andrew and Sarah, two of Zoey’s human friends and the Big Bad was suitably menacing, if not truly scary. He was definitely unsavoury, particularly towards the end, and you’ll be rooting for Zoey and friends to get rid of this particular demon.

MONSTER IN MY CLOSET is the first in a six book series, according to the author’s website, which makes me happy since I really enjoyed my first foray into Zoey’s world. I’m quite excited to see what she has in store for us in POOKA IN MY PANTRY, the next book about Zoey and her madcap life.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Enchanted No More by Robin D. Owens

Enchanted No More by Robin D. Owens Enchanted No More by Robin D. Owens

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 425 pages
Genre: (Urban) fantasy
Publisher: Luna
Release date: December 21, 2010

Series: Mystic Circle #1

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

As one of the last surviving Mistweavers, half-blood Jenni knows what it’s like to be caught between two worlds: the faery and the human. But the time has come to choose. The Lightfolk require her unique talent for balancing the elements to fend off a dangerous enemy—and rescue her missing brother.

Only for Rothly will Jenni deal with those who destroyed her life. Only for him will she agree to work with her ex-lover, Aric, and revisit the darkest corners of her soul. For a reckoning is at hand, and she alone has the power to hold back the forces of dark….

I went on a bit of a e-shopping spree a little while ago and I bought the first two books in Robin D. Owens’ Mystic Circle. I’ve heard great things about her other series and I was going to get one of those but ENCHANTED NO MORE really caught my eye. And not just because Jenni and I share a first name. 😉 I love the fact that this book is sort of urban fantasy, sort of more high fantasy — parts of the story take place in Denver but a lot of it happens in a fantasy world populated by Lightfolk (elves, dwarves, brownies, djinn, dryads, merfolk, etc., ruled by the Eight) and Darkfolk (rather less pleasant). It’s a creatively rich world, filled with some fantastical characters, and I really enjoyed immersing myself in it. Owens has done a great job of building two separate but connected worlds: a strong urban fantasy world in Denver and a more classic fantasy setting for the rest of the novel.

Part of this worldbuilding involves the creation of neat backstories for her characters. Jenni, also known as Jindesfarne Mistweaver, has a great one. She’s part elf, part djinn, and part human, making her a half-breed. Half-breeds have historically been regarded as second class citizens in the Lightfolk ranks and so Jenni doesn’t have the warmest feelings toward full Lightfolk. Jenni is unusual among half-breeds because she has a rare ability to balance the four elements — a gift that ran in her family. I say “ran” because nearly all of her family was killed in service to the Eight and her only surviving brother, Rothly, was physically and magically crippled. As a result of these events, she turned her back on the Lightfolk and settled in the human world, living on Mystic Circle, earning her keep as a game developer. She’s lived in relative peace until the Eight send a representative to recruit her to balance the elements again. When she turns them down, they send another emissary: her ex-lover, Aric, who share her feelings of guilt over her family’s deaths since they were together when the Mistweavers were ambushed.

Aric also has a complicated past, but it isn’t as original as Jenni’s. He is, however, a treeman, and part elf to boot, which means he can travel through trees and also has some elven abilities. He also has some daddy issues. He’s changed a lot since he and Jenni were together, and I enjoyed watching them get reacquainted, working through old hard feelings and discovering nicer ones.

Needless to say, ENCHANTED NO MORE is full of emotional entanglement but there’s also a very real sense of danger, since the Eight want Jenni to balance the elements when a magical bubble arrives. I know it sounds a bit weird but it makes sense within the world that Owens has created. These bubbles are rare and tend to occur in a series of three. The first one occurred two years before ENCHANTED NO MORE, in the Darkfolk territory, resulting in the birth of shadleeches, these really gross and murderous creatures that eat magic. The next two bubbles are supposed to occur in Lightfolk territory and the Eight want Jenni there to help them maximize the bubbles’ magical potential, so that they can harass it for the benefit of the Lightfolk. The Darkfolk are trying to foil this plan, though, and target Jenni as the last Mistweaver. It’s a really engaging plot. I was completely invested in Jenni’s quest and there were some nice-for-the-reader surprises along the way.

ENCHANTED NO MORE features top-notch writing, logical and creative worldbuilding, sympathetic characters, and surprises. What more could you ask for in a novel? My expectations are quite high for ENCHANTED AGAIN because this book was so satisfying.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

The Goddess Inheritance by Aimée Carter

carter - goddess inheritance

The Goddess Inheritance by Aimée Carter

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: February 26, 2013

Series: The Goddess Test #3

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: NetGalley

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Love or life.

Henry or their child.

The end of her family or the end of the world.

Kate must choose.

During nine months of captivity, Kate Winters has survived a jealous goddess, a vengeful Titan and a pregnancy she never asked for. Now the Queen of the Gods wants her unborn child, and Kate can’t stop her—until Cronus offers a deal.

In exchange for her loyalty and devotion, the King of the Titans will spare humanity and let Kate keep her child. Yet even if Kate agrees, he’ll destroy Henry, her mother and the rest of the council. And if she refuses, Cronus will tear the world apart until every last god and mortal is dead.

With the fate of everyone she loves resting on her shoulders, Kate must do the impossible: find a way to defeat the most powerful being in existence, even if it costs her everything.

Even if it costs her eternity.

Even thought I’m not in love with this series, I can truly say that I’m satisfied with this last book of The Goddess Test series. As a true fan of Greek mythology I think, overall, I was a little bit disappointed with the writing of the trilogy. However, I have to admit that Aimée Carter knows how to tell a good story. She got me hooked with the goddess test the main character Kate had to go through to become a replacement for the goddess Persephone in book one, but after that, it felt like the rest of the series coasted on neutral.

We saw the main character, Kate, mature throughout the series, just like we saw Aimée’s writing mature from book to book. Personally, I wonder if this series would have been better if it hadn’t been the author’s debut. I think she shows a lot of promise and hopefully her future characters and scenes will be more realistic. There are multiple scenes where characters spit out these long(ish) monologues and heart felt speeches but rarely do we come across these types of conversations in real life. When I read a book, I want to be able to relate to the characters and I want them to be as realistic as possible, but when the characters say odd things that would make me laugh in real life, I think it shows a lack of authenticity. Maybe that makes me a little cynical, but that’s how I feel when I read a scene with sappy monologues.

But enough about the actual writing. THE GODDESS INHERITANCE will definitively surprise you! Characters actually die (gasp!), and not all of them are bad guys (double gasp!!!). I won’t spoil the story for you but I think it’s fitting that the deaths aren’t limited to the “bad guys.” The fighting scenes between Kate and her enemies were a little hard to follow and lacked a little action and excitement but the end result was exactly as I anticipated. There was a bit a of a lull in the middle of the book that had me anticipated some more interesting bits, so once the climax was near, I couldn’t put the book down.

My favorite part of the book was the relationship between Kate and her new husband, Henry, God of the Underworld. You wouldn’t expect the God of the Underworld to be able to love anyone, but I’m envious of the relationship between him and Kate. Despite his difficulty in showing emotion, in THE GODDESS INHERITANCE, we finally get to see the Henry we’ve been expecting right from the start. And I think it helped a lot to see Henry and Kate bond over their newborn baby, despite all the issue they had during Kate’s pregnancy and after she gave birth.

Overall, I think the series has been entertaining enough to follow, but it won’t be at top of my recommendation lists. Fans of Greek Mythology will without a doubt be attracted to the books and will most probably enjoy the modern day view of the Gods, but they must be warned that the trilogy isn’t an actual myth retelling. It’s more of an expansion or an elaboration of the original myths. I’m probably one of the few that hasn’t completely fallen in love with this series, so if any of you out there have read The Goddess Test series, let me know what you think. Did you love it? Enjoy it? Or was it just “ok” for you too?

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

stephsig