A Million Suns by Beth Revis

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 386 pages 
Genre: Science-Fiction
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: January 10, 2012

Series: Across the Universe #2

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Library

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this series, but I was intrigued enough to check out this sequel. As far as sequels go, it’s pretty decent. I think I even prefer A MILLION SUNS, over book one. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE left too many unanswered questions for me and was just a little bit too confusing for my taste. A MILLION SUNS provided many answers, just enough to satisfy me, while still leaving us with a manageable cliffhanger to keep the interest at the end.

We learn more and more about each character as the series progresses and while A MILLION SUNS sheds more light on the two main characters (no pun intended), it makes me like one of them more and dislike the other. Amy is someone that I can easily identify with. The only Earth born on the spaceship Godspeed, she’s been woken up from suspended animation earlier than expected and I can definitively understand her need to get off the ship. Obviously, she will stop at nothing to find out why the space mission isn’t on schedule, not only because she wants the ship to land on the “new” Earth, but also because landing would mean being able to wake up her parents from their own suspended animation. Like me, Amy is a runner and there’s nothing better than fresh air and a large open space to run and forget about everything else besides your feet pounding the pavement. The ship’s walls feel so claustrophobic that I completely understand her need to get off.

Elder, however, is a different story. Literally born to lead Godspeed, it seems like it’s one of the only things that he isn’t capable of doing. I understand that he’s only 16 years old and that he still has a lot to learn about leading a community, but almost every decision he makes leads to more problems and uncertainty. Even if I completely agree with the decisions he makes, it’s because he’s unable to stand behind them that people see him as a weak leader. Sure, almost everyone on the ship is out to get him anyways, and many try to sabotage the work he’s doing, but his inactions cost him more than his actions. His poor decision making leads the ship into a chaotic state, where mutiny and rebellion rules the community.

And if rebellion isn’t enough to cause problems, there’s a murderer roaming around, killing people and making it look like Elder is responsible for their deaths. The idea of a science-fiction/murder mystery mash-up is a great concept and I’ve read a few other book with this combination, and it works really well. I really admire the author’s courage to try the mash-up in Young Adult because it’s not something we see that often. I’m a huge fan of these mash-ups, and while I’m not a big fan of this particular series, it is getting better as the series develops.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate this series. Actually, after reading book 2, I will definitively read the last book of the trilogy because I’m intrigued enough about what will happen to Amy, Elder and the people on the ship. Will they finally make it to their new planet? Will Amy see her parents again? Will Elder finally take charge and be seen as a true leader? The ever present mysteries surrounding Godspeed will keep you interested, and the main characters will have you sitting on the edge of your seat as they follow the clues in this sci-fi/murder mystery.

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Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7)Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Ace Hardcover
Release date: March 5, 2013

Series: Mercy Thompson #7

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book depository

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Mercy has always had a way to get herself into trouble, but this time around it’s her husband and mate Adam who’s in trouble, and she gets to play hero. Don’t get me wrong, playing hero isn’t easy either and Mercy gets her fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, but who would’ve thought little Coyote would be the key to save both the werewolf pack and the local vampire seethe?

The Mercy Thompson series is one of my favourites urban fantasy out there, and this instalment didn’t disappoint. My only complaint would be that it was over way too fast. I don’t know if it’s Patricia Briggs’ writing style or if the word count on her novels isn’t that high but it always feels likes it’s too short. Especially since we have to wait quite a while between releases. I’m telling you, I can’t get enough of Mercy and her friends!

This time around the plot revolves around the whole pack being kidnapped by pseudo government agents and Mercy’s quest to find and free them. She has to call on old friends to accomplish her mission and I enjoyed seeing them again. The novel is, per usual, filled with heart-pounding action and keeping-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense. I blindly followed our hero every step of the way, and didn’t quite grasp the intensity of the betrayal until the final unveiling. 

Mercy’s world is really rich and entertaining  and with each book I feel like coming back home. I just love it! The lore is entertaining with werewolves, fey, witches, vampires and a single coyote involved. Each race has it knack and Mercy always does her best to walk the line and profit from each strength and trying not to make too many enemies. The ambiguity is maddening hehe.

I really like this series and I strongly suggest you give it a shot, starting with Moon Called. Frost Burned being the 7th books in the series, I can feel it coming to an end and I’m already saddened by the prospect of not visiting Mercy’s world anymore, but I’m really impatient for the next book called Night Broken.

Read Excerpt

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Daring You to Read… Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Read my review

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Sequel:

Rebel Spring (Falling Kingd...

Daring You To Read is a weekly feature here on Tynga’s Reviews where we dare you to read some of our favorite older releases (at least 6 months old). All the books/series we choose to feature are titles we adored and think you should give them a shot! We think it’s a super awesome way to discover that special book who might have slipped off your radar!

You’ve already read the book? Let’s us know what you thought!
You are accepting the dare? We’d love to know!
Have a dare of your own? Leave a comment ^^

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Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Star Cursed by Jessica SpotswoodStar Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

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

Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2

Source: From Author for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SS: Interview with Nalini Singh + Giveaway

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To close the event, I’m super happy to receive best-selling author extraordinaire, Nalini Singh! It’s always such a pleasure to have her on the blog and we had to invite to celebrate the recent release of Heart of Obsidian. Please welcome her warmly!

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1- Long-time reader and huge fan of the series are on pins and needles for HEART OF OBSIDIAN. How does it feel to have a book this hotly anticipated? What’s your favorite scene from the book?

I’m delighted readers continue to enjoy the series! I truly love the world and its characters, and it’s wonderful to know that readers feel the same.
As for my favorite scene…oooh, that’s hard to choose, but one of my favorites is a flashback scene. I can’t say exactly what it’s about without giving too much away, but it makes me smile every single time I read it. 

2- From the entire series, which character was your favorite to write and why?

I absolutely can’t choose – I love all my characters and find it so hard to compare them to each other. Some have appeared more in the series than others, but they all have a powerful role to play, not only in their own books but in the overall story arc.

3- If you could borrow another author’s character and throw them into the Psy/Changeling world, who would you pick and why?

For me, the mark of a good book is that the characters fit absolutely into that world. As such, to tear them out and put them into another world simply wouldn’t work – and I would never do that to characters about whom I love to read.

4- Will you ever write a book that pairs two Psy together now that Silence is fracturing for more and more people?

A Psy-Psy story or stories, has always been part of my plan for the series.

5-  Once fans have devoured HEART OF OBSIDIAN, will we have more questions or more answers? 

You’ll have a lot of answers, and one big question resulting from the final events that take place in the story.

6- Will Vasic get his own story soon? You’ve said before it wasn’t his time. Is his time soon? He’s so interesting!!

Wait and see 😉 (He’s in HEART OF OBSIDIAN quite a lot.)

7- Does the summer solstice means anything to as race as stoic as the Psy? What about the Changeling?

Not to the Psy, and the changelings are always in sync with nature, so the rhythm of the world is part of their very blood.

8- Do you have a personal tidbit to share in relation with midsummer?

While you’re having midsummer, we’re having midwinter over in the Southern Hemisphere! People have been known to celebrate Midwinter Christmas. 🙂

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Thank you very much Nalini for taking the time to visit and answering our burning questions!

More about Hearts of Obsidian:

Heart of Obsidian  (Psy-Changeling, #12)

Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh’s explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world…

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.

 

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Previous books in the series:

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Cha... Visions of Heat (Psy-Change...Caressed By Ice (Psy-Change...Mine to Possess (Psy-Change...Hostage to Pleasure (Psy-Ch...Branded by Fire (Psy-Change...

Blaze of Memory (Psy-Change...Bonds of Justice (Psy-Chang...Play of Passion (Psy-Change...Kiss of Snow (Psy-Changeling, #10)Wild Invitation (Psy-Change...Tangle of Need (Psy-Changel...

 giveaway

Nalini is generously offering a signed hardcover edition of Kiss of Snow to one lucky winner!

open internationally

Fill the form to enter!

Ends July 5th, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Nalini SinghI was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated frequently).

So far, I’ve worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer’s mill.”

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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SS: Short story by Cecy Robson + giveaway!

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I’m thrilled to welcome Cecy back to the blog for Supernatural Solstice! I really enjoy her Weird Sisters series so far and I think she’s a great new voice in urban fantasy. Cecy’s put together a great short story for this event and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it!

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A Weird Soltice

We abandoned the thick vegetation of the forest and stepped into the clearing. I withdrew my tigress’s eyes from one blink to the next and took in the glen with my human stare. The full moon lit bright enough to illuminate our surroundings with a soft white glow. I didn’t need my inner beast’s strength, nor did I need to call her forth completely . . . at least, for now.

Emme slipped off my back as the warm evening breeze flung my long waves in all directions. She stumbled but didn’t fall, a rare feat for our youngest sister. “Thanks for carrying me, Celia.” She pushed her hair out of her face, glancing around nervously. Although she was twenty-two, her soft voice and mannerisms made her seem younger. But that didn’t mean my timid sister couldn’t protect herself.

Shayna clicked off her industrial sized flashlight and pointed to where Tahoe spread across the horizon. “Whoa. Check out the view. This would be a great place to picnic . . . during day . . . and if there weren’t demon children lurking about, waiting to eat us.” Her head jerked as something rustled in the dark forest behind us. “Celia . . .”

“Mouse,” I answered quietly when my sensitive ears picked up the scamper of tiny paws and my nosed fixed on the scent of vermin. I turned back to Taran. “But that doesn’t mean something else won’t show up. Explain to me again why we’re doing this?”

Taran huffed and rolled her eyes. “We need to learn to harness Tahoe’s magic.”

I crossed my arms. “Do we?”

A Cursed Embrace by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #2) Another huff, another eye roll, this time accompanied by an annoyed pucker of her lips. “Look. We have a magical resource right here at our fingertips. Pardon the shit out of me for wanting to do more than set things on fire!”

“But you’re so good at blowing things up.” Shayna punched her affectionately in the arm. “And zapping people. Let’s not forget the zapping, dude. Zzzzzz!”

I scrambled between them when Taran glared. “That wasn’t an invitation to zing her,” I said sternly. “Let’s just do what we came for and get back home.”

Taran threw her arms in the air. “Fine.” That’s when she started to strip. I don’t mean she unbuttoned her blouse because the night was unusually warm. I mean she ditched her sheer black tunic, red tube top, and unsnapped her bra.

Emme watched Taran’s boob choker land at her side in horror. “Taran. What are you doing?”

“Emme, this is the summer solstice. Next to Halloween, it’s the biggest time of year for supernatural shit and magic.” We all stared back at her. “It’s about nature.” More blank stares. “And becoming one with nature.” At this point, I thought she was going to slap us. “Son of a bitch. Just get naked!” She kicked off her shoes and stripped down to everything but her mani-pedi.

Shayna sighed in defeat when Taran sat on the ground and proceeded to pull off her T-shirt. Emme buried her face in her palms. “This is so embarrassing.”

I shook my head, not knowing how Taran always managed to drag us into her crap. Shayna shrugged. “The sooner we do this, the faster we get home.” She flashed me a grin. “Koda is staying the night. Is Aric?”

My body warmed at the thought Aric’s muscular form draped over mine, and I tossed my tank top on the ground. “Yeah. He and the pack are patrolling the area for more demons.” I cleared my throat and pulled my cell phone out of my denim shorts to check the time. “He should be done in another hour, provided they don’t run into anything they have to mutilate.”

Shayna laughed and tugged her jeans down. “Come on, little dude,” she said when she caught Emme’s hesitation. “No one’s around.”

Or there wasn’t until Emme was down to her socks. “Son of bitch, Emme,” Taran muttered. “Hurry up. Something’s poking me in the ass.”

The forest debris was pretty damn sharp, but this hadn’t been Emme’s idea. I narrowed my green eyes. “Quit complaining, and start.”

Taran mumbled a few swears in Spanish then reached into her backpack. She placed a plastic container in front of her and filled it with water she poured from a canteen. She didn’t have to tell me it was water from the lake. Tahoe’s magic stirred from within the clear container and stroked gently against my skin like a caress.

Shayna watched the water swirl in the moonlight, obviously expecting something extraordinary. “Okay. Now what?”

Taran straightened, growing serious. “You see that rock?” She motioned to a gray stone near Shayna’s knee. “I’m going to levitate it.” She placed her fingertips in the water and focused on the rock like it had called her a bitch. For fifty freaking seconds she stared, her face reddening. Finally, little by little, the rock began to tilt and slide along the dirt.

The Weird Girls by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #0.5) Shayna’s lids peeled back. “Awesome! You’re like, totally doing it!”

No. Actually it was Emme, using her telekinetic force. I knew it. Hell, I sensed it. And so did Taran. She flicked the water from her fingertips. “Cut it out, Emme.”

Emme crinkled her nose and tossed one of her remaining socks over her shoulder. “I was just trying to help.”

“I don’t need help,” Taran insisted. “If those witch bitches can do this, damn it, I can, too! And no one’s going to stop . . .”

Her irises blanched from blue to clear as a sense of cold squirmed its way down my back like a cluster of slugs.

I leapt to my feet, my claws lengthening from my nail beds and a deep growl building low in my throat. Twigs snapped in the forest. A heavy foot, then another, thumped against the moist forest floor. “Food,” something hissed.

“Food?” Emme croaked in a tone that clearly begged me to tell her no.

Six-plus feet of demon child eased his way through the dense sections of pine. Gray scales swathed his gargantuan potato shaped body and short, stout legs. Glowing red eyes blinked from the peak of his head while a fanged mouth ran the entire length of his body. His wings flapped eagerly at finding its dinner. AKA us.

“Holy shit!” Taran scrambled to stand, followed by Emme who still wore one pink sock. Shayna had already taken a stance beside me. The batteries from her flashlight fell from the chamber as she manipulated the metal into one bad-ass and hopefully demon-decapitating sword with her power.

The point glinted in the moonlight as she lengthened it past her head. She stepped forward, but I held an arm out. “Me first.”

I rushed forward in a blur of speed. I was fast. Unfortunately, so was Mr. Potato Head with fangs. My foot smashed into his knee. I would’ve reveled in the satisfying crunch of his bone snapping if he hadn’t punched me in the head with his ham hock fist. My entire body whirled before landing hard. I roared from the impact and tried to crawl away.

In the far distance, a wolf answered my agonized cry with a howl.

Aric had heard me. He was on his way. Too bad the demon child could give a rat’s ass. He lifted his gorilla arms and brought them down toward me. I rolled out of the way, giving Shayna ample room to swing her sword. One of the demon child’s arms landed next to me. I used it to nail him between the eyes as Taran unleashed a barrage of lightning bolts. I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled charred demon bits. And if you haven’t, you never want to. Imagine decomposing skunk flesh mixed with burning rubber . . . only not as refreshing.

Taran’s lightning seared his into flesh. Shayna lifted her sword only for an arm―that’s right, arm―to extend out of the demon’s mouth and clasp her wrist. I’d fought the creepiest preternaturals over the past few months. But I’ll admit, that gave me pause. She screamed, unable to wrench herself free and dropped her sword. I continued to beat him with his own damn arm while my other leg kicked against his underbelly. He backhanded me with his other arm, sending me sailing above Emme. I rolled to my feet in time watch him snatch Taran.

Taran’s ability to surround herself with fire was the only thing that saved her. He flung her like a giant, screaming, and flaming Latina. Emme managed to catch her with her force. She was still easing her down when I charged, abandoning my human side and changing into my golden tigress.

I severed the demon’s arm with my fangs, freeing Shayna and allowing her to dive for her sword. My claws sliced while she hacked and stabbed. But Emme was done watching. She lifted the demon with the strength of her mind and slammed him repeatedly against the earth. The first slam only pissed him off. The second made what remained of his arm-tongue flail loosely. I thought we had him until his knife-like fangs launched like spears in all directions. I changed back.

Sealed with a Curse by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #1)Fire,” I called to Taran. “Lots and lots of fire!” I raced around, dodging, and circling him, trying to keep his aim on me while Emme and Shayna dove for cover behind a cluster of small boulders. Taran’s inferno built and scorched the air around us. With a shriek and a whole lot of attitude, she launched a mini fireball right into the demon’s center.

Which he then swallowed like a marshmallow.

The rest of us inched toward him slowly, knowing the fight wasn’t over and stunned by the demon’s smirk.

The smirk didn’t last. And neither did the demon. He exploded. Not in anger, but rather like a piñata filled with bowels and a few extra kidneys. Taran’s fire had that effect.

A flailing stomach knocked Emme on her back and out of her remaining sock while what could only be described as Evil’s urine sprayed Taran and Shayna.

Through the spew of swamp-like nastiness, I was the only one who remained standing. Good thing the wolves decided to show up then or they might have missed this wondrous, if not nauseating sight. The earth quaked as the noble lupines shot through the forest with their fearless alpha in the lead.

Aric ground to a halt in front of me, growling as he took in the row of intestines draped over my head like spaghetti and the gray slime pooling at my feet.

I stared up at the sky and groaned. Good. Lord. How many times can your boyfriend find you naked and covered with entrails?

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Thank you so much for this awesome story, Cecy! It’s great to have you back on the blog!

Cecy is currently on a virtual tour to support the release of A CURSED EMBRACE. Visit her website to see the other stops on her tour!

More about A CURSED EMBRACE:

A Cursed Embrace by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #2)Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twentysomething girls—with one tiny exception: They are the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that made them, well, a little weird.…

After Celia Wird and her sisters help master vampire Misha save his family, their powers are exposed to the supernatural community of the Lake Tahoe region. But fame comes at a price, and being “weird” isn’t always welcome.

To make matters worse, Celia desires the love of Alpha werewolf Aric, but his pack is bent on destroying their relationship to preserve his pureblood status. And once weres start turning up dead—with evidence pointing to the vampires—she must face the prospect of losing Aric forever. But the chaos only masks a new threat. An evil known as the Tribe has risen—and their sights are set on Celia and her sisters.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Click on the cover to see my thoughts on the rest of the series:

The Weird Girls by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #0.5) Sealed with a Curse by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #1)

giveaway

Cecy is graciously offering one (1) signed copy of A CURSED EMBRACE to a lucky reader!

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Cecy Robson

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is an author with Penguin’s SIGNET ECLIPSE. She attributes her passion for story-telling back to the rough New Jersey neighborhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, she began writing her Urban Fantasy Romance Series, Weird Girls, in May 2009. THE WEIRD GIRLS: A Novella and SEALED WITH A CURSE are now available. A CURSED EMBRACE, releases July 2, 2013 followed by A CURSED MOON: An eSpecial Novella December 2013, and CURSED BY DESTINY, January 2014.

Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Jenn

A Cursed Embrace by Cecy Robson

A Cursed Embrace by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #2)A Cursed Embrace by Cecy Robson

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 368 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Signet
Release date: July 2, 2013

Series: Weird Girls #2

Source: eARC from publisher

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twentysomething girls—with one tiny exception: They are the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that made them, well, a little weird.…

After Celia Wird and her sisters help master vampire Misha save his family, their powers are exposed to the supernatural community of the Lake Tahoe region. But fame comes at a price, and being “weird” isn’t always welcome.

To make matters worse, Celia desires the love of Alpha werewolf Aric, but his pack is bent on destroying their relationship to preserve his pureblood status. And once weres start turning up dead—with evidence pointing to the vampires—she must face the prospect of losing Aric forever. But the chaos only masks a new threat. An evil known as the Tribe has risen—and their sights are set on Celia and her sisters.

Cecy Robson won me over with her debut, SEALED WITH A CURSE, and so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read A CURSED EMBRACE early. This novel really put the Wird sisters through the wringer and is full of action, romance, and danger. The girls never seem to have much luck with staying out of trouble but they definitely come off as major trouble magnets this time around as they face off against demons, vampires, and prejudice.

As always, my favourite part of the book is the relationships between the sisters. They’re all such great characters and I love their interactions with each other and with other people. Celia, Taran, Emme, and Shayna have such wonderful dynamics and they’re just a lot of fun, even when facing grave peril. Of course, the romantic relationships are nothing to sneeze at either. Each of the sisters was paired off with a werewolf at the end of SEALED WITH A CURSE, though some are more successul than others. Emme and Shayna have pretty straightforward dealings with their wolves, especially when compared to Taran and Gemini. Celia has settled into a relationship with Aric but it also has hiccups since he’s werewolf royalty and is expected to mate with another pureblood, not a cursed human. Plus, Celia is relatively inexperienced so she has a lot of new relationship jitters, which are complicated by the fact that she’s also being pursued by Misha, a sexy and powerful vampire that she shares a magical connection with. But fear not, love triangle haters, Celia has chosen Aric, though Misha is still interested, so it’s not one of those love triangles for the sake of love triangles.

If you read urban fantasy for the action and adventure, you’ll find ample helpings of both in A CURSED EMBRACE. Robson does a great job of writing well-paced and exciting fight sequences and you never know what might pop up next to threaten the girls and Tahoe. There are some nice twists in the plot of A CURSED EMBRACE and I think you’ll really enjoy it. There are moments of mortal peril and the end result is a truly gripping story.

There’s also a lot of humour in A CURSED EMBRACE, which is something I really appreciate. I love it when authors inject a bit of levity into their stories, even if it’s only a few great one-liners. It makes for a welcome change of pace and really keeps the emotions rolling. Books that are 100% heavy aren’t always my thing, though I do love a good, dark story, so it’s great to have some lighter moments in a novel filled with danger and death.

I devoured A CURSED EMBRACE in a single reading and suspect you will, too. Factor that into your reading plans since you won’t want to stop once you open Robson’s latest work!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

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Sealed with a Curse by Cecy Robson

Sealed with a Curse by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #1)Sealed with a Curse by Cecy Robson

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 368 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Release date: December 31, 2012

Series: Weird Girls #1

Source: Won on My world…in books and pages

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they’re products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird…

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region—until one of them blows up a vampire in self-defense. Everyone knows vampires aren’t aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust-fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague?

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha’s family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy—or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it’s coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough.

I was super excited when I won this book over on My world…in books and pages. We hosted Cecy Robson for our “When I’m not writing” feature back in December and I was about to purchase my own copy of SEALED WITH A CURSE when I got lucky on Melissa’s blog. (It’s a great blog, by the way, and you should definitely check it out, especially if you’re a Nook user since Melissa posts lots of Nook deals.) I’ve actually read it a couple times since then but it was never when I had time to post a review. But it’s such a fun book that I had to share it with you!

SEALED WITH A CURSE is Robson’s debut and she proves herself to be a great new voice in urban fantasy. Her main characters — the Wird sisters — are fantastic and she’s created an amazing world for them to live in. SEALED WITH A CURSE is told from Celia’s perspective. She’s the eldest of the four and can change into a tigress (or any other animal she happens to brush up against if she’s not prepared) — but she’s not a shapeshifter. Her other sisters also have some interesting powers: Taran is a magic user who wield it as fire and lightning — but she’s not a witch. Shayna can turn pieces of wood into deadly sharp weapons and can manipulate alloys. Emme, the youngest, is telekinetic and can heal herself and others. They’re a great group of girls and I love how they each have their own distinctive personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. We get the most insight into Celia since she’s the narrator but Robson does a great job of giving each sister their moments to shine.

Like all great characters, they have a bit of a tragic past. Their parents were murdered and it was horrible but we don’t know much more than that. I’m really curious to find out what went on All they have is each other and they’ve made a nice life for themselves in Tahoe. It all falls apart, though, when vampires suffering from extreme bloodlust pop up, ruining the relatively anonymous existence the Wird sisters have been leading. Now, they’re thrown head-first into the supernatural waters without a full understanding of how the different types of supernaturals interact and behave. Mostly, Celia and her sisters are dealing with vampires and werewolves, though, so there’s not too much for readers to be surprised about on this front. The vampires are generally attractive, manipulative, and powerful and the werewolves aren’t too different, though they are sworn to defend the earth from supernatural threats, which is a neat twist on the typical mythology. I really enjoyed Robson’s treatment of bloodlust and how it manifests and affects vampires. I thought this was a really strong and well-executed storyline.

There’s a lot of romance in this novel so this may not be the novel for you if you’re looking for something that’s all mystery and fights (i.e. non-sexy action) then SEALED WITH A CURSE is probably not the book for you. Celia is reluctantly involved in a love triangle with Aric, the Leader of the werewolves, and Misha, a Master vampire whom Celia first meets when he accuses her of murdering one of his family. Celia seems to be a lot more interested in Aric but there’s something about her that has really captured Misha’s interest. Celia’s not used to getting this much male attention so there’s a lot of blushing but she’s no shrinking violet. The other Wird girls, however, are much more comfortable engaging with men on a romantic level and Shayna, Taran, and Emme all end up involved with some werewolves they meet at a club. It’s a bit convenient that the sisters go out to a club and meet a bunch of guys who all close friends and extremely powerful werewolves but it serves the story and I’m willing to go with it for now. It felt a bit too convenient for me but I like all of the characters and am curious to see if they’ll be able to sustain the relationships that have been established in SEALED WITH A CURSE.

All in all, SEALED WITH A CURSE is an excellent debut for Robson and it’s got me quite excited for A CURSED EMBRACE. There’s also an e-prequel novella if you can’t wait for the second book to come out.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

SS: Interview with Elizabeth Richards + Giveaway

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Elizabeth is having her own Summer Solstice celebration this summer (along with fellow Penguin authors) so it only made sense for her to stop by our event! I’m really happy to have her on the blog and keep reading to learn more about Phoenix!

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1. The dystopian genre has sky-rocketed over the last few years, why do you think so?

In the wake of the Twilight phenomenon and the world going into an economic tailspin, I believe readers were looking for grittier stories, featuring kick-ass protagonists who could survive even in the toughest of times. Then The Hunger Games came along, and it just captured the imaginations of so many people around the world. It was such a fresh and exciting story, and Katniss Everdeen was a cool, independent character, and someone girls could really admire. I personally believe the success of that series kick-started the dystopian trend, as publishers were keen to capitalize on that success, so added more dystopian titles to their lists, thankfully for me! I should send Suzanne Collins a cupcake basket or something!

2. Did you have a specific inspiration when you created your unique world? Many people have commented how it has a Romeo and Juliet vibe in connection to the star-crossed lovers plot line. Was this done on purpose?

Yes, Ash and Natalie’s romance was definitely inspired by Romeo and Juliet. I loved the idea of two teenagers from warring families falling in love and embarking on a forbidden romance. Natalie even has a balcony, like Juliet! But I wanted to put my own twist on things, so put it into a dystopian setting and populated the world with supernatural creatures. I’ve even had a reviewer refer to it as a ‘bloody, gory, sexy, hellish Romeo and Juliet…with vampires’, which I think captures the vibe perfectly!

3. The Darklings are very unique creatures, how did you come up with them?

I’ve always been fascinated by vampires, so I took them as a starting point then added my own touches. Like vampires, Darklings drink blood, have fangs, and are allergic to UV light, but that’s where the similarities end. The Darklings are not immortal creatures and they’re not sired; they’re born as Darklings, as they’re a unique species in their own right (in fact, there are three sub-species of Darklings—the Eloka, Nordin, and Shu’Zin), which have evolved side-by-side with humans. They have rippling hair that senses blood, toxic venom called Haze that humans are addicted to, two hearts, and some Darklings even have wings.

4. PHOENIX, the second book in the series has just been released. What has been the response to it thus far?

The response has been great! I’ve gotten lots of emails and tweets from readers telling me how much they enjoyed the book, which has been wonderful to hear. The action really ramps up in PHOENIX, and there are plenty of twists and turns, which people seem to be really enjoying, especially the ending! So I’m delighted that it’s getting such a good response.

5. Do you have a teaser from book 3 to share with us?

The book is in early edits, so I’m afraid I can’t reveal anything yet, but I can promise there’s going to be lots of heart-pounding action and romance!

6. Is there such a thing as a celebration for the summer solstice in your novels? What would it be like if there was one?

Yes, the Dacians celebrate the summer solstice, and in true Dacian fashion mark the occasion with a festival up in the Rainbow Forest. Everyone has to wear yellow, in honor of the sun, and they dance, sing and share food from dawn until the sun sets. 

7. Have you ever celebrated the summer solstice?

Surprisingly, despite the fact I’m UK based and live just a few hours away from Stonehenge, I’ve never been! However, I’m celebrating the solstice this year with three other Penguin authors—Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked), Fiona Paul (Venom), and Lili Peloquin (The Innocents)—as we all have sequels out this summer and Jessica’s book Star Cursed is out the week of the summer solstice. So we’re running our own Summer Solstice Sequels tour and hosting a twitter chat on 20 June at 6.30pm EST, #SSSequels. Hope to see you there, as Penguin Teen are giving away loads of prizes!

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Thank you so much Elizabeth for including us in your schedule!

More about Phoenix:

Phoenix (Black City, #2)

Weeks after his crucifixion and rebirth as Phoenix, Ash Fisher believes his troubles are far behind him. He and Natalie are engaged and life seems good. But his happiness is short-lived when he receives a threatening visit from Purian Rose, who gives Ash an ultimatum: vote in favor of Rose’s Law permanently relegating Darklings to the wrong side of the wall or Natalie will be killed.

The decision seems obvious to Ash; he must save Natalie. But when Ash learns about The Tenth, a new and deadly concentration camp where the Darklings would be sent, the choice doesn’t seem so simple. Unable to ignore his conscience, Ash votes against Rose’s Law, signing Natalie’s death warrant and putting a troubled nation back into the throes of bloody battle.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Previous book in the series:

Black City (Black City, #1)

giveaway

Elizabeth is offering a hardcover copy of Phoenix to one lucky winner!

open Internationally.

Ends July 5th, 2013.

Fill the form to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Elizabeth Richards

Elizabeth Richards is an award-winning journalist, who spent her early career reviewing videogames before making the bold (or crazy) move into travel writing, despite suffering from terrible travel sickness.

In her spare time, she ran a successful lifestyle website aimed at teenage girls, where she got to interview many of her favourite bands, go to gigs and basically blag loads of free swag all in the name of ‘research’.

Elizabeth lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with her husband. Black City is her debut novel. (source)

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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The Keep by Veronica Wolff

veronica wolff - the keepThe Keep by Veronica Wolff

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Trade paperback: 336 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: June 4, 2013

Series: The Watchers #4

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: From the publisher

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

JUST BECAUSE YOU WORK FOR THE DEAD DOESN’T MEAN YOU WANT TO JOIN THEM.

Drew has just started her second year on the Isle of Night, and the weather isn’t the only thing changing drastically. She has ascended to the rank of Initiate. She’s also found an intimate love in the handsome vampire, Carden. But most of all, she no longer dreams of escape. She dreams of vengeance.

Her friend, Emma, was brutally wounded by the savage vampire Alcántara, and may have been taken to the dreaded castle, from which none of the living return. But there are so many different stories from so many people with so many of their own deceits and machinations, Drew can’t be sure of anything—except that she must find a way into the castle to discover the truth and take down Alcántara once and for all.

But Drew isn’t the only one out for revenge. Someone very dangerous on the island is also out for blood…

Hers…

I was really excited about reading THE KEEP. So much that I started reading it the day I received it in the mail. While it might not be my favorite book of the series, it does set up the future books quite nicely. Like the previous three books, it was edgy, smart and full of historical lore.

The main character, Drew, was someone I was able to identify with in the previous books. While she still comes off as intelligent and unyielding like in the other books, I think her recklessness in THE KEEP makes it a little more difficult to understand her actions. Time after time, she puts herself in dangerous situations, unable to save herself when things get dicey. One of her main goals in this novel is to avenge her best friend Emma’s death, but she finds that very difficult to do, especially when no one is on her side. Not even Yas, who was once her friend, will help her. On the contrary—he’s actually trying to kill Drew since he believes she’s the one responsible for Emma’s death. I know right? A lot of drama and revenge going on, but you have to  admit, it makes a great storyline.

Ultimately, Drew tries to find a way into the Keep, which houses all the vampires and the vampire trainees. She believes the answer to Emma’s death lies within the wall of the keep but what she finds inside is even more frightening than what she ever imagined. The whole story basically revolves around Drew trying to get into the keep, and that’s why the title of the novel is very fitting. However, since Drew is more or less friendless and since she’s very focused on avenging’s Emma’s death, interactions with other characters are limited and the novel revolves mainly around Drew and her thoughts.

My new favorite character of the series, after reading THE KEEP, has to be Carden. He’s such a sweet talker and such a mature figure that you can’t help but fall for him and admire him. After binding herself to him in book three by accident, Drew literally can’t live without him. He’s absent more than half the novel but he more than makes up for it with his strong presence in the scenes he’s in. He doesn’t act like the ancient vampire that he is, but he’s certainly as cryptic as any male from the keep.

Overall, this newest installment was a pretty good one. What Drew finds in the keep will definitively surprise you because it certainly surprised me. The cliffhanger at the end promises more to the series and with the new information Drew has gained from her visit to the keep, it would be disappointing if the series didn’t continue. I can’t wait to see what else Veronica Wolff will come up with for this series because it’s certainly one to watch out for!

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