Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi AshtonEverneath by Brodi Ashton

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

Series: Everneath #1

Source: ARCycling

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Book Stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardback: 304 pages 
Genre: Horror/Suspense
Publisher: Balzer & Bray 
Release date: September 18, 2012

Series: Stand alone

Reviewed by: Helen

Source: Purchased

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

SHHHH!

Don’t spread the word!

Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island.

You do NOT want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

TEN was a thrilling, fast-paced suspenseful horror story that I absolutely loved! One of the very best mysteries I’ve read all year.  It starts with ten teens who seem an odd bunch to be invited to a weekend-long party at a wealthy family’s island home. But since it’s the most popular girl in school that’s inviting them, they don’t dare refuse. Upon arriving at the island home, they are stranded by a severe storm, and soon find that someone seems determined to keep them there. When they start dying one by one, they have only two options: there is either someone else in the house, or one of them is the killer.

I instantly bonded with the main character Meg. The supporting characters were also strong and multi-dimensional. I was skeptical at first that the reader would be able to connect with ten characters in a single book without feeling confused. Fortunately, I was completely wrong. Though the novel is told from Meg’s point of view, the others around her also come to life very quickly.

I like to consider myself pretty hard to fool – I normally have a fairly decent idea of how I think things are going to play out in a story. Especially one like this, where each time one of them died, the suspect pool got smaller and smaller. That said, TEN completely knocked me off my chair. I had two main theories while reading. The first was what I thought would be the easy way out. It would have been a clean way to end. The second was what I hoped would be the actual ending, as it was a bit more intriguing. I was completely off on both counts. Every few pages something else would surface that would have me flip-flopping back and forth between which of these two theories I thought would play out. But by the last chapter, it turned out I was completely wrong. And I loved it.

The plotting was absolutely superb. The sort that you can only fully appreciate while looking back at all the breadcrumbs left by author once you reach the end. I really respect that fact that McNeil didn’t tie this up too neatly either. It was a messy ending, exactly what was needed to make a story like this realistic.

If you’re looking for a thrilling, masterfully plotted stand-alone novel to keep you on your toes, TEN is absolutely the perfect fit. You most definitely won’t regret it!

Read an Excerpt

 

Rush by Eve Silver

eve silver - rush

Rush by Eve Silver

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
ARC: 361 pages 
Genre: Science Fiction 
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: June 11, 2013

Series: The Game #1

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: ARC from publisher

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures.

There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

Almost half the year has gone by and I can honestly say that RUSH by Eve Silver might end up near the top of my YA reads of 2013. This is my first Eve Silver book and it also happens to be her debut YA novel. I opened this book with high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed at all. RUSH promises mystery, adventure, romance and aliens. What more can you ask of a YA science fiction novel?

I hope I didn’t lose any of you when I said aliens or science fiction because this isn’t your typical sci-fi. On the contrary, I think it offers a refreshing view of out of this world beings that have come to Earth, some in peace and others with the single goal of annihilating the planet and its inhabitants. Imagine living out your normal life and with one heroic act, you’re suddenly sucked into a parallel world where you’re fighting alien forces that are trying to destroy Earth. This is exactly what happened to Miki Jones and now she’s going about her everyday life where she can be sucked into this parallel universe to battle it out against the destructive Drau, without any warning. She’s accompanied by other teenagers like her, including a long lost friend, Luka, and the mysterious new guy at school, Jackson. Some on her team call it a game, while other are just going through the motions trying not to get killed. And if it really can be called a game, it’s definitively a deadly one, because no one is safe. Not even the seasoned warriors on the team.

Miki is a very inquisitive character. She wants to know everything about the game and why she was chosen. But most of all, she just wants to know what’s really going on. She doesn’t understand the game, except she knows she has to fight to stay alive. As the book progresses, she learns to ask the right questions and other team members become more inclined to answer her truthfully. Not only do we learn more about the deadly game, but we also learn more about the Drau and Miki’s background. I found it very easy to relate to Miki since she seems like a tangible and realistic girl. Even thought she shows courage and strength, her doubts and fears make her a realistic character since not all characters should be all fierce and powerful.

As for Jackson, I had a love/hate relationship with him in the beginning. With his constant wear of sunglasses and his cocky attitude, I didn’t like him as Miki’s love interest at first. He warned Miki herself multiple times that his intentions were not pure and that she should stay away because he isn’t a good guy. However, because of his charisma and his competency in the game, Miki starts to rely a lot on him, especially to get the answers that she needs to satisfy her inquisitive mind. At first, I much preferred Luka over Jackson but it’s almost as if the author herself gave up on Luka and fell for Jackson’s bad boy attitude. Luka became a boring character and I’ll probably end up not remembering who he is when the sequel come out. Overall, the romance in the story isn’t too overbearing, which is a nice change since it lets us readers concentrate on the story a little bit more.

There are just a few things in RUSH that I wasn’t too crazy about. First off, the fact the Miki only learns a few things at a time about anything involving the game was simply annoying. Obviously Jackson knows  everything but it’s almost as if he likes having Miki beg for answers. Miki’s best friend, Carly, was simply a bitch that got pissed at her for the slightest things. She’s just a boy crazy girl that I would feel embarrassed to call a best friend. And finally, that awful cliffhanger definitively leaves you wanting more but I feel like it’s been done before. The book could have had a better ending than this horrible and stereotypical way Eve Silver left us hanging.

I’m not necessarily a gamer but I like to play video games from time to time. The fact that the points system in the “game” is very similar to those in video games makes it easier for the characters to aim for a goal and to actually survive. The video game references (and comic book/manga references too) makes this book a good one to recommend to boyfriends, young-at-heart husbands and guy friends in general. Even if the main character is female, I’m sure many guys will end up enjoying RUSH. It’s had some mixed reviews so the book is obviously not for everyone, but I personally enjoyed it. It’s an edgy, original and striking first book to a series.

stephsig

Daring You To Read…Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

 

When I realized that nobody has done SHATTER ME as a DYTR post yet, I immediately jumped at the chance because that is simply a sin! This book is all kinds of amazing that I could not put down and Mafi is currently a favorite author of mine because of it.

I’ll admit that this would not be a book that I would have picked up if I was not a blogger. I saw many early reviews go up raving about it, so when I was in my local book store I decided to pick up a copy despite the cover. Yes, that’s right, I’m one of those people. I’m thankful I picked up the novel because the story inside is hard to explain in coherent sentences, but the cover did not do this novel justice. So I have to admit that I like the recent cover changes in this series, but I love my hardcover so much I refuse to part with it. Moral of this paragraph? Don’t judge a book by its cover because you never know what’s awaiting you inside.

I was hesitant to delve into this one because of the synopses that explains that Juliette has not touched anyone for 264 days–hinting that she has unique abilities through touch. The concept of touching people and something happening is often used in young adult literature. Off the top of my head, aside from this book, I can think of TOUCH by Jus Accardo, TOUCHED by Corrine Jackson, CURSED by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and TOUCH OF DEATH by Kelly Hashway.  But those titles are there to emphasize how many novels there are that deal with touch and, I have to say, that this one deals with it the best. This novel is indescribable and amazing–beautifully written and deliciously complex. There’s no other way to say it. Mafi took a common theme and made it all her own. She mastered a plot line that other writers have been working to master for a while.

And if that simple fact alongside the admission that this book literally left me speechless is not enough to get you to read this book than I’ll tell you what is: Adam and Warner. I know, I know, your love triangle flashers are going up and your mind is screaming, "Back up! Back up! Do not cross this line! Abort mission!" Well, I’m normally that way too, but this is a love triangle done right. While it exists the boys are two separate entities who paths do not cross in the way that make them throw insults at each other over Juliette. They throw insults at each other because they’re on two opposite sides of the war and somehow Juliette is stuck in-between them. Mafi also mastered the love triangle because she found a respectful way to go about it. While one love interests is the overall focus of book one, the novella, DESTROY ME, and book two, UNRAVEL ME, tend to focus on the other love interest that we thought was easily the wrong decision. And Mafi made us realize, wow, he’s deliciously complex and even more amazing than we ever would have imagined! To put it simply, she convinced me to switch teams which is not an easy thing to do because I’m rather stubborn. To who? Well, you have to read to find out! But truly, I would read these novels just for Warner and Adam because they’re  both beyond different yet somehow equal parts perfection. It helps that Mafi is really amazing with steamy writing too.

This romance takes place in a unique dystopian world. In the beginning of the novel, Juliette is almost insane and Mafi took advantage of this by developing a unique writing style via Juliette’s private thoughts and journals that sucked me in from page one. Her creativity and imagination as well as her amazing literary skills are present in all aspects of this novel and I couldn’t even begin to stress how much I think everyone should give this book a chance. It is so, so worth it.

If this post interested you at all in SHATTER ME you should run and go pick up a hardcover today! It is selling on Amazon (the link is below) for $7.20, meaning that a hardcover is currently cheaper than the paperback edition and the Kindle edition. Though the hardcover does not match the rest of the series cover-wise.

 
More information on SHATTER ME…
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

 
 
 
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository
 
And here is the rest of the series thus far. The covers changed right after I reviewed book one. Bummer, right?
 
 
 
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!
 
Do you think you can handle this week’s dare?
 
  

Elizabeth Norris’ Top Five Summer Movie Picks

Elizabeth Norris, author of UNRAVELING and UNBREAKABLE, is here today to share 5 more of her top summer movie picks with Team Tynga’s Reviews.

  • Iron Man 3. It’s awesome. There’s action, a lot of great humor, and a story with heart at the center.
  • The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrman, Leonardo DiCaprio, and my favorite classic novel. (F. Scott Fitzgerald!!) Need I say more?
  • Man of Steel. Finally a new superman movie that looks like it’s going to be awesome. Also Henry Cavill’s abs don’t hurt.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness. I have high hopes for this movie. The first one was so fantastic and this one has Benedict Cumberbatch in it. That means it can only get better.
  • Pacific Rim. Here’s Why.

Make sure to check out other summer movie picks from Liz at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Two Chicks on Books (June 7th). Please also stop by Reading After Midnight(June 4th), I’d So Rather Be Reading (June 10th), Bewitched Bookworms (June 11th), Midnight Book Girl (June 12th), Good Books and Good Wine (June 14th) and more to come to find out what books and TV shows Liz is recommending this summer, and to read excerpts from her novels.

—————–

More about UNRAVELING and UNBREAKABLE:

Unraveling by Elizabeth NorrisLike The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Elizabeth Norris’s Unraveling blends realistic coming-of-age issues with a gripping science fiction world.

Unraveling’s heroine, sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner, is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle’s mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.

And that was before she died…and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth’s destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Unbreakable by Elizabeth NorrisUnbreakable, the sequel to Elizabeth Norris’s Unraveling, blends science fiction, mystery, and romance into a thrilling story YA readers won’t be able to put down.

It’s been four months since Janelle Tenner stopped the earth’s destruction with the help of Ben, the boy who resurrected her after she died. Ben is gone now—disappeared through a portal to his home world.

Even though Ben broke her heart, Janelle refuses to believe it when Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay tells her Ben is suspected of running a human-trafficking ring across several universes. She vows to uncover the true culprit and rescue the people who have been sold into slavery on alternate earths—not to mention find Ben and prove his innocence.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Jenn

Eve by Anna Carey

Eve by Anna Carey

Eve by Anna Carey

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult  
Trade paperback: 318 pages  
Genre: Dystopian  
Publisher: HarperTeen  
Release date: December 1, 2011

Series: Eve, #1

Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Helen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust…and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

Eve totally fell flat for me. Although the basic premise actually had the potential to be really interesting: in a future dystopia, girls and boys are isolated and raised separately. The girls are raised in an academy where they are taught that when they reach their 18th birthday, they will move across the river and choose a trade to work in for the rest of their lives. Boys are raised in their own separate work camps. The girls are taught to believe that men are evil and the only man who is honest and trustworthy is their King.
 
But soon, Eve finds out a terrible secret about the world around her. The girls aren’t going where they’ve been told after their 18th birthdays. They are headed for a much darker fate. When Eve discovers the horrible truth, she piggybacks on another girl’s escape plan to get out while she can. The two girls continue on a strangely paced, and much-too-convenient path that leads them to Caleb, the predictable love interest who will show Eve that boys aren’t truly evil. Yawn.
 
Eve’s character was frustrating for me. I didn’t outright dislike her, but I didn’t feel any true sense of connection with her either. She was sort of wishy-washy. Eve suddenly upends her entire world view in about 3 minutes and leaves the school and all she has ever known immediately. And yet, she doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of guilt or inner turmoil about having left behind the rest of the girls she grew up with. She mentions it here and there, but overall, I needed her to be much more interested in rescuing the other girls she left behind in order for me to actually like her and not feel that she was shallow and self-serving.
 
Next comes another so-called plot twist involving Eve and the King of the land – problem is, it is completely under-developed and makes virtually no sense. It was a poor attempt to create drama, and it really just fell off the page as superficial and not at all probable. The ‘why’ and ‘how’ are never explained, and it just reads like a very obvious plot device to move the story towards the end. Unfortunately, this ill-built plot twist becomes the main driving force – it is what is supposed to drive the series and really ramp up the reader’s adrenaline and pique their interest.
 
Here’s the problem – it just didn’t work. It was kinda boring, kinda out of nowhere, didn’t really make all that much sense, and completely lacked any sort of explanation.
 
The entire book read like a first draft – that’s really the best way I can think to describe it. The skeleton of a great story was there, but the execution was way off. This book could have been great with a few more critical eyes on it and maybe a little more back story and explanation as to why the world has gotten to the why it has (and also what the future plan is?).
 
I was expecting to love this series, but unfortunately, I don’t feel very excited about continuing on with it. I will likely read the next book in the series, since I already own it, and hope that the writing and world-building have been better developed in the coming instalments. Fingers crossed!
 
 
 

helen

The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Book stats:  
Reading level: Young Adult  
Hardback: 323 pages  
Genre: Dystopian  
Publisher: HarperTeen  
Release date: April 23, 2013

Series: The Selection, #2

Source: Won

Reviewed by: Helen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository  

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

        

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

      

 
Guys, I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved this book. The Elite was so much more than I was expecting. Knowing it is the 2nd book in a trilogy, I admit, I had my doubts. I’ve never been very good friends with all the ‘Book 2’s out there. More than anything, I’ve been let down by them time and time again and left feeling as though they were placeholders for the action I really wanted to get to in Book 3.
 
Thankfully, the same is not so with The Elite! The Elite delivered everything I could have asked for and more. Right where we left her at the end of The Selection, America is still torn between Maxon and Aspen, and doubting her ability to lead the nation that has treated her so poorly. As with the first book, the first two-thirds of the book are mainly dedicated to setting up for the ending. It may seem slowly paced to some, but the characters really shined even more in The Elite, and made the time fly by. We get to see much more of the back-story behind the other girls still remaining in the palace, and learn more about their individual relationships with Maxon as well.
 
If you weren’t a fan of The Selection, I could easily see how this slow and steady type of pacing might ward you off from The Elite. Personally, I love the pacing and the way that the plot seems to unwind around you without you ever really noticing until suddenly your heart is pounding and you can’t bear to put the book down.
 
I also loved getting a bit more history on the country of Illea itself, and the people that built it. I could have done with even more information on this one – but it was enough to keep me invested and feeling like I had a good idea of how things had come about in the country’s early years. We don’t get a whole lot of information about why the country is constantly at war, or how things are developing on the outside, but I have some theories of my own. In the interest of not having spoilers, I’ll keep them to myself for now, but I absolutely cannot wait for The One to come out so I can find out if I’m right!
 
There were times while reading that I was definitely frustrated with America’s conflicting emotions. I kept wanting her to make a choice and be honest with everyone involved. But even still, something about this story and these characters keeps me up at night fan-girling. I completely switched teams about halfway through this book. And then about twenty pages later, I switched back… but then I came down firmly on Team Maxon. Woo! Now, if only the third book, The One could get here quickly!
 
 

Everbound by Brodi Ashton

everbound

Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 358 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: January 22, 2013

Series: Everneath #2

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Library

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Brodi Ashton introduced us to her exciting and original underworld called Everneath in book number one of her debut series. However, interesting enough, we never really did get the chance to see Everneath for what it really is, in the first book. Brodi Ashton teased us enough in book one that I was really glad to finally get the chance to visit this interesting world in EVERBOUND.

EVERBOUND takes off more or less right where EVERNEATH finished. Nikki, the main character, is living in the real world, and her boyfriend Jack is being kept prisoner in Everneath, in exchange for her spot in the Tunnels of Everneath. The Tunnels are probably the worse imaginable place you can think up. It’s a place where humans are kept and where Everlivings, the immortal being of the underworld, store them to feed off their emotions and energy. I admire Nikki’s dedication to get into the Tunnels in order to free Jack from his timely demise. I can’t image how it feels to have someone you love imprisoned while you feel you should be there in their place. Nikki isn’t necessarily the strongest female character that I’ve met in YA books, especially since she does have bouts of depression and does things without thinking them through first. However, her quest to save Jack is the only thing on her mind, and she even goes to the extreme of defying her father to accomplish what she started. Her sharp mind and quick thinking saves her quite a few times, which proves that you don’t need to be physically strong to come out on top. You just have to set your mind to it and find a different way to defeat the enemy.

Cole is without a doubt a very interesting character on his own. As an Everliving, I couldn’t figure out why he was trying to help Nikki with her quest, especially since he’s in love with Nikki himself. I knew in saving Jack, there was something in it for him, but I didn’t see this twist coming. Of course, this twist only reveals itself right at the end, so the book is sure to keep you on your toes until the very last page. The odd and unlikely love triangle isn’t really a triangle since Nikki doesn’t have romantic feeling for Cole. Her only feelings are for Jack and that’s something Cole has a hard time understanding, mainly since he can offer Nikki immortality while Jack can only offer a normal human life. Jealousy is obviously present but we don’t get to see how much it impacts the characters’ lives until the very end.

We all know sequels can easily fall short of our expectations but for some reason, I thought EVERBOUND was even more interesting, and even more action packed than its predecessor. From a literary stand point, I think it was a great idea to keep the Everneath a mystery by revealing only a few things in book one. Obviously, that means lots of thing are revealed only in this book, and the new twists and turns are surely to keep you reading. The cliffhanger ending isn’t really where I wanted the book to finish but again, I think it’s a great way to keep readers interested. I can’t wait to see how Nikki’s story will unfold in the next book since her life has once again been turned upside down without her realizing how involved she is with the Everneath.

 

stephsig

Born of Illusion by Terri Brown

Born Of Illusion

Born of Illusion by Terri Brown

Book Stats:
Reading level: YA
Genre: Historical fantasy
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: June 11, 2013

Series: Born of Illusion #1

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

Anna Van Housen’s life has never been easy. Cruising from town to town with her mom and the circus, always wondering if they will have enough money to eat or a roof above their heads. Not to mention the police and their anti-medium laws. When she moves to New York city with a her mother and have a nice apartment, she dare hope for a better future. But at what cost?

Terri Brown offered us a very original tale when she wrote Born of Illusion. I honestly never read something of the likes before and I enjoyed it! Anna is rumoured to be Harry Houdini’s illegitimate daughter and has a knack for magic. She performs shows with her mother and even though Marguerite is the headline, she’s nothing but an actress. Anna on the other hand, she has real abilities and strives hard to keep them secret.

The plot line revolves around Anna’s strong desire to keep her mother safe. She’s been having visions of her mom and her being in danger and it’s her top priority to keep them safe. The story progress smoothly and I liked how Anna didn’t know whom to trust and that she made mistakes judging her peers. It made her that much more human despite her supernatural abilities.

One of the aspect I liked best was the historical set up. 1920s New York with its fashion and people’s proper etiquette. I also liked the references to big events such as the first world war and the Titanic. The atmosphere felt really vivid and I loved it!

I must admit though, there is one aspect of this novel I’m unsure how I feel about. See, Anna and her mother have a very complex relationship. Anna loves her to death and would do anything for her, but her mom treats her very poorly, almost like a tool. She refuses Anna to have any kind of success and to share the spotlight. She’s very self-centered and it made me uncomfortable. From a purely literary angle though, it was a great decision by Terri Brown because it brought more depth to the characters. 

Speaking of characters, this novel falls victim to the love triangle trend. It wasn’t heavy or bothersome, but not very original either. One is sexy and brooding the other is good looking and outgoing – both want her for different reasons and I think Terri went a bit too heavy on the stereotype and it was easy from early on and see which one was the good boy and which one the bad boy. So Anna’s choice was no surprise and there wasn’t any suspense there. My favourite character was hands down was Mr. Darby her grumpy downstairs neighbour.

The end was suspenseful and satisfying if not surprising. A lot of mystery still surround Anna’s abilities but the main plot line wrapped up nicely. I haven’t decided yet if I will read the following books. I enjoyed this one and I would recommend it, but I wouldn’t say I loved it. I guess you’ll have to read it and judge for yourself!

tynsig

disclaimer

"When I’m not writing" with Jocelynn Drake + giveaway!

Jocelynn Drake Jocelynn Drake is our guest this week for our “When I’m not writing” feature. She’s got multiple titles under her belt as the author of two series: the Dark Days books and The Asylum Tales. Jocelynn is here today to celebrate her latest Asylum Tale, DEAD MAN’S DEAL, which was released last week. She’s also providing a giveaway of the first novel in the series, ANGEL’S INK, so be sure to stick around to the end of the post!

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Sadly, I feel like when I’m not writing, I should be writing. But everyone needs a break from work to let their brains rest just for a bit. During my downtime, I am a gamer. I’m not one of those hard-core gamer chicks who can school you on any game and/or system set in front of her (But it would be cool if I was.) However, I do know my way around a PlayStation controller.

Final FantasyMy first love is the Final Fantasy series by SquareEnix. I fell in love with Final Fantasy VIII on PlayStation One. Enraptured by their detailed storytelling, I have played Final Fantasy 7, Crisis Core, 8, 9 10, 10-2, 12, 13, and I’m now working on 13-2. I’ve also played their Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, which are the Disney/Final Fantasy mash-up games.

Jocelynn Drake tattooOf all the Final Fantasy games, I think Final Fantasy X is my favorite, but then who doesn’t love a tragic love story. The graphics were beautiful. The battle system was brilliant. The storytelling was epic. I guess it should be no surprise that I have a Final Fantasy X tattoo to commemorate my love.

A couple years ago, my love of video games found a new addition – the Assassin’s Creed series. While I will freely admit that I’ve skipped the first game in the series, I am hopelessly in love with the rest of the games, particularly those featuring Assassins CreedEzio Auditorre d’ Firenza. What’s not to love? Suave, passionate, dedicated, and so very handsome. The storytelling is superb (which is pretty important to me if you haven’t figured that out) and I love wandering around renaissance Italy (or even running across the rooftops).

The added bonus is that Assassin’s Creed series has an online feature that lets me play assassination missions against other gamers. (So, if you happen to be killed by a JDrake while playing Assassin’s Creed online – my bad.)

UnchartedBesides epic battles and sexy Italians, I also love building cities and civilizations, so I’ve naturally gotten addicted to SimCity. I’m also planning to start the Uncharted series soon, and not just because I share a last name with the main character (though it doesn’t hurt). What’s not to love? Explosions and treasure hunting.

Playing video games allows parts of my brain to space out for a time or to even work on a plot issue while I concentrate on things like locating all the Borgia flags and figuring out a clue 6to get me to Eldorado. Video games allow me to escape into another world while avoiding the written world for a short time, because sooner or later… that book I’m working on will be calling me back.

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Thanks for stopping by, Jocelynn! Always great to meet a fellow gamer!

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

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Here’s the scoop on DEAD MAN’S DEAL:

Dead Man's Deal by Jocelynn Drake (Asylum Tales #2)In a world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires swim free in a sea of humanity, sometimes you need an edge. Looking for a little love? Need some luck? Desperate for revenge? Gage can give you what you need. The most talented tattoo artist in town, he knows the right symbol and the right mix of ingredients and ink to achieve your heart’s desire. One tattoo is all it takes. But remember, everything has its price…

Gage learned that lesson long ago, in ways he’d rather not remember. But the cruel and powerful wizards in the dreaded Ivory Towers he escaped aren’t about to let him forget. Though Gage has managed to stay out of sight, he can’t outrun the past forever. The wizards know Gage is using forbidden magic, and they intend to punish him for his transgressions.

Too bad if innocent humans and monsters—entire cities—get in the way. They will quell a nascent magical uprising and Gage will be the sacrifice they need. First, though, they have to find him…

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Here are the earlier books in the series:

Bronx by Jocelynn Drake Trixie by Jocelynn Drake Angel's Ink by Jocelynn Drake Blood by Midnight anthology

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giveaway

Jocelynn is kindly offering up one (1) copy of ANGEL’S INK, the first book in the series, to a lucky reader!

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

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