SS: Interview with Stacey Jay + Giveaway!

 
I am so happy to share an amazing interview with the even more amazing Stacey Jay in regards to her upcoming fantasy re-telling, OF BEAST AND BEAUTY!
 
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1. What inspired you to take on a "Beauty and the Beast" re-telling and how do you think your story compares to such a famous tale?

"Beauty and the Beast" was always my favorite fairy tale. I loved that Beauty saw past the undesirable exterior of the Beast to the good heart within, and adored the literal take on the transformative power of love. What I didn’t like, however, was that Beauty was the only one who was required to look beneath the surface. I also didn’t care for how easily Beauty (in most versions of the fairy tale) accepted her fate. I thought a girl taken captive and isolated from everything she’d ever known should have a considerable amount of rage to work through before she could begin loving the creature who imprisoned her.

In OF BEAST AND BEAUTY I’ve flipped the script–having the princess, Isra, take the Beast captive instead of vice versa–and both my hero and heroine are required to look past the undesirable exterior of "the other" in order to love the person inside. Gem, my hero, has to deal with his anger at being held captive before he can begin to care for Isra, and both Isra and Gem are forced to reexamine the meaning of beauty and its place in their world.

2. How were you able to come up with the unique setting of Yuan, a domed city that makes human sacrifices for the sake of all? It’s almost like the Aztecs!

I did a lot of thinking about first world attitudes about beauty before creating the city of Yuan. It has always troubled me the way beautiful young girls are raised up to be goddesses in our culture, only to be just as eagerly torn down and vilified when they begin to age, gain weight, act out in a way unbefitting an object of adoration, or otherwise move beyond our society’s narrow definition of what makes an ideal, young beauty. We may not actually sacrifice these girls, but many are irrevocably damaged by their time as "princesses" of modern pop culture. It’s unhealthy not only for these girls, but for our culture as a whole. I tried to reflect that in the city of Yuan. (Yuan has some dirty secrets I can’t reveal without being spoiler-y.)

3. How will OF BEAST AND BEAUTY compare to your greatly loved JULIET IMMORTAL series?

OF BEAST AND BEAUTY is a love story, and one of my favorites that I’ve written, but it’s also about more than the love between a boy and a girl. It’s about loving the world and the people in it, and the decisions you make to show that love. For that reason, it was a book that, while I was writing, resonated on many levels for me. I hope it does the same for my readers!

4. I am a huge re-telling nut, which is one of the many reasons that I’m excited to read OF BEAST AND BEAUTY alongside many. If you had to write a re-telling for any other tale dear to your heart, what would it be and why?

If so many people hadn’t already done so, it would be fun to play with the Snow White myth. There are so many wrongs to right in that story, and I’d love to think of some crazy/fun way to reimagine the dwarves.

5. Did any obstacles present themselves while having so many narrators? I understand this story is told from Isra’s, Gem’s, and Bo’s perspectives.

The characters in this story were very real to me and had their own "voices" that spoke out when I sat down to write so having several narrators wasn’t difficult. It was actually nice. It allowed me to build suspense in ways you can’t always manage when experiencing a story through only one character’s point of view.

6. If your characters were to celebrate the summer solstice, how would they celebrate?

They would dance around a bonfire all night and greet the morning with an enormous picnic. And there would be cookies. Lots of cookies.

7. Have you ever celebrated the summer solstice?

I haven’t! I have celebrated winter solstice, but never its counterpart. I’m hoping to make it to a celebration this year.

 
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Thank you so much for stopping by, Stacey! ❤ I’d certainly read a Snow White re-telling authored by you!
 
More about OF BEAST AND BEAUTY:
 
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

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

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

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

 
 
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Stacey has been kind enough to offer up an OF BEAST AND BEAUTY prize pack containing a pin, a limited edition necklace, and a few other surprise goodies. The giveaway is US only.

Ends July 5th, 2013


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Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can’t think of anything she’d rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor, and yoga instructor.

In her very limited spare time, Stacey enjoys cooking elaborate dinners and eating them very slowly, dressing up in costumes with her sons, and drinking wine with her husband. She loves to hear from readers and personally answers every single email she receives.
(source)

 
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Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

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

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

Series: n/a

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lili disclaimer_thumb[2]

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

The Calling Kelley Armstrong

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

Book Stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins US / Random House Canada
Release date: April 10, 2012

Series: Darkest Rising #2

Source: Random House Canada

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

On the heels of the wildly popular The Gathering comes the second in the "Darkness Rising" YA trilogy from NYT bestselling author Kelley Armstrong.

Maya Delaney’s paw-print birthmark is the mark of what she truly is–a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly everyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they’re kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home.

Maya’s life was turned upside-down in The Gathering and things aren’t getting better in The Calling. Maya and her friends were shipped off their island to escape a forest fire, but the pilot isn’t heading to main land as he should. When the teens realizes the mayor was drugged they freak out and cause an helicopter crash. Something is wrong – really wrong- and so the teens flee the site and try to reach their parents, pursued by who knows who…

Finally some answers! The Gathering was all about questions, and The Calling finally brings some answers to the table. In the mist of a very traumatic event, the teens realizes someone is hunting them and they start to put one and one together. Daniel has always been able to rally people to his opinions, but what if there is more behind it? Sam gets weird vibes from some people, what is it about? And what of Corey’s migraines? Well, The Calling will give you the answers to almost all of those questions.

My favourite aspect of this second instalment was the fact that the teens took matters in their own ends. They are isolated in the forest, it’s freezing cold and they have to get back to civilization to get help.  Easier said than done and Maya’s and Daniel’s leadership was the only thing keeping them together. Maya is having a very hard time mentally though. Rafe fell off the helicopter minutes before it crashed, so she has to deal with this loss on top of everything. I was really proud of her for holding on and Daniel was simply amazing supporting her along the way.

Happening over the course of 3-4 short days (which seemed like a small eternity for our heroes), the plot really flew by. It was all about survival and finding answers in the process so the pace was fast and furious. I was really engrossed in the story and the different ambushes our young protagonists faced seemed very plausible in the midst of everything happening.

Kelley Armstrong included some reference to the events happening in the first trilogy (Darkest Powers) which makes me think we might re-visit some of those characters in the third and final book. It was nice to have a link to this first series and maybe Chloe and friends can help Maya and hers shed light on their remaining interrogations.

By the end of the novel I was totally breathless and I’m really anxious for The Rising. The teens aren’t out of trouble yet – far from it- and I must know what happens next. Some of them were captured, will we see them again? And what’s up with Nicole? I need to know!

The Darkest Rising trilogy is a great fit for younger teens, but adults will enjoy it too. Fans of the Darkest Powers trilogy will love this spin-off and if you haven’t read the first series, worry not, there’s no need to read it first. I strongly suggest you give Kelley Armstrong’s young adult books a try!

Read an Excerpt

tynsig

Daring You To Read… A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

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I’ve recently become obsessed with A GAME OF THRONES by George R.R. Martin from the series A Song of Ice and Fire. Not only is the book amazing, but I think the HBO TV series is even more noteworthy. Since the third season will premiere on TV soon (March 31st), I thought it would be a great time to dare you to read this great fantasy book.

The storyline might be a little bit everywhere because of the amount of characters, but that’s to be expected with epic fantasy books. The characters are amazing and I think the combination of all of them really makes this book what it is.

If you’re new to epic fantasy novels this is something you cannot pass over. It might be frustratingly long but it’s definitively worth it. While it is a fantasy series, the paranormal aspects aren’t too present. While there are a few paranormal/magical elements, they don’t overpower the story and I think that’s what makes it so great. The series really is about the characters and I’m glad the TV show found so many great actors to portray them.

Please note that the story is quite dark and mature at times. While I believe anyone who can read a 800+ pages book (or more depending on the edition) is mature enough for this story, please be careful while watching the TV series around children. I mean, it is HBO… Their reputation speaks for itself…

Have your read A Game of Thrones? Have you seen the TV show? If so, let me know what you think!

martin - agof 1Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.martin - agof 2

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Read an excerpt

Here is the trailer for Season 1:

The rest of the series:

martin - 2 clash of kings martin - 3 a storm of swords martin - 4 a feast of crows martin - 5 a dance with dragons

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 ^^

stephsig

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

A Conspiracy of Alchemists (The Chronicle of Light and Shadow, #1)A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

Book stats:
Reading Level: YA appropriate
Genre: Steampunk
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: March 5, 2013

Series:The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #1

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—the intrepid heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

In a Golden Age where spark reactors power the airways, and creatures of Light and Shadow walk openly among us, a deadly game of Alchemists and Warlocks has begun.

When an unusual cargo drags airship-pilot Elle Chance into the affairs of the mysterious Mr. Marsh, she must confront her destiny and do everything in her power to stop the Alchemists from unleashing a magical apocalypse.

Eleanor has never quite fit in Society. She refuses to be a lady and insist on piloting an airship, to her aunt’s dismay. Her passion for flying isn’t the only thing setting her apart though. She has an hidden destiny, and it’ll be revealed in due time by mysterious – and handsome- Lord Greychester. A routine flight from Paris to England will change her life, for better or worst, and she will have to be strong if she wants to survive what’s to come.

I truly liked A Conspiracy of Alchemists, but I would lie if I said I was hooked from the beginning. In fact, I almost stopped reading altogether. See, I love books set in the early 1900s and enjoy steampunk elements, but those very elements were so monopolizing that it impaired my enjoyment of the other elements. The machines were minutely described, as well as their functioning, especially at the beginning of the novel, and while it probably appeals to fan of the genre, it was just too much for me. Thankfully, as the story progressed, the plot and characters were foregrounded, though the spark technology was still present. I really started to enjoy myself at about 25% of the book, and I’m glad I did because I was ready to give up and it would’ve been my loss!

Liesel Schwarz created a very unique open world for her readers. Paranormal creatures the likes of werewolves, fairies, alchemists, vampires and warlocks are out of the closest and the plot is centered around the last three, fighting for control over what little magic there is left in the world. All those paranormal creatures are said to be of Shadow and as Light (science) gains power, Shadow looses ground. As interesting as the concept is, it took me a lot of time to figure it out and I wish Liesel laid down the rules earlier in the novel. Even though both Vampires/Alchemist and Warlock are all Shadow, the former are mostly bad guys and the later the good guys. I particularly like the symbol system warlock used to find one another. It was a great idea!

Lord Greychester a.k.a Mr. Marsh was my favourite character hands down. He is fabulous, but more precisely he is a man of honour even though he has to deceive Elle for what he thinks is the greater good. He also has this graceful way of speech, with an easy smile and a great sense of humour. There is a great magnetism around him and if I were a fictional character, I know I’d be all over him lol Elle was an highly likeable character. I appreciated her guts and her determination. Being a little less pig-headed would make things so much easier for her but I liked that she was genuine. We were also blessed with a great range of secondary characters and while I liked some, there are some I trusted only as far as I could throw ‘em, which made for a great mix. Elle will be deceived by more than one man, and I have to confess I didn’t see the betrayals coming. 

With a slow build-up, the plot didn’t hook me from the beginning, but by the middle of the book I could barely peel my eyes off my kindle. The end is worthy of  a big Hollywood production, I could totally picture the huge explosions with flames and smoke. The epilogue totally stunned me and I’m really curious about all the behind the scene stuff miss Schwarz hid from us.

I don’t think I’ll buy a copy for keep, but I truly enjoyed this novel and strongly suggest it to Steampunk fans. I’m convinced A Conspiracy of Alchemists will rock your world! Schwarz obviously did a lot of research while writing her book and I think it paid off.

Read an excerpt

tynsig

Timekeeper Blog Tour: Alexandra Monir on Central Park + giveaway!

I’m pleased to welcome Alexandra Monir to Tynga’s Reviews today! She’s visiting us as part of the blog tour celebrating the release of TIMEKEEPER, the second book in her Timeless YA time travel romance series.

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“I’m in Central Park, she realized as she passed the rippling lake and took in the verdant greenery on either side. But how did I get here? Where are all the people?

A drop of water hit her fleece pants, and Michele looked down to see that she was in her sleepwear, with soft slippers in place of shoes. What in the world?

A drizzle had begun to fall, and she quickened her pace until she found herself standing in front of an old merry-go-round. The creaky carousel moved in slow motion while droplets of rain hit the colorful carved horses.” –TIMEKEEPER, pg 46

Central Park by Ed Yourdon
Photo of Central Park, present-day. Photo credit: Ed Yourdon

Central Park plays a significant role in both books, from Michele and Philip’s epic turn-of-the-century date in Timeless to this far creepier scene from Timekeeper. I consider Central Park to be the crown jewel of New York, so it was important to me to feature it in not just the first book, but the second as well! I also liked having such a contrast between the two Central Park scenes.

I spent a lot of time researching the park and its history for both books, including taking Big Onion’s super-informative and entertaining historical walking tour. Fun fact: I filmed an author interview video for Timeless in the section of the park where Michele and Philip spend their date in 1910!

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Thanks for visiting us, Alexandra, and giving us some insight into one of the settings in your novels!

Want more Alexandra? You can find her online on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Here’s the scoop on TIMELESS:

Timeless by Alexandra MonirWhen tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

More about TIMEKEEPER:

Timekeeper by Alexandra MonirThis sequel to Timeless combines breathtaking romance with a tale of complex magic in a story that will have every reader believing in the transcendent power of love.

When Philip Walker appears as a new student in Michele Windsor’s high school class, she is floored. He is the love she thought she lost forever when they said goodbye during her time travels last century. Overjoyed that they can resume the relationship they had a lifetime ago, Michele eagerly approaches him and discovers the unthinkable: he doesn’t remember her. In fact, he doesn’t seem to remember anything about the Philip Walker of 1910.

Michele then finds her father’s journals, which tell stories of his time-traveling past. As she digs deeper, she learns about his entanglement with a mysterious and powerful organization called the Time Society and his dealings with a vengeful Windsor ancestor. Michele soon finds herself at the center of a rift over 120 years in the making, one whose resolution will have life-or-death consequences.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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giveaway

We have one (1) set of TIMELESS and TIMEKEEPER for a lucky reader!

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Timeless by Alexandra MonirAt the age of 25, author and recording artist Alexandra Monir released her debut young adult novel, Timeless. The book caught on quickly, with Amazon.com naming it one of the “Best Books of the Month” and Barnes & Noble featuring the title in their “Top Teen Picks”. The book went on to hit the Barnes & Noble Teen Bestsellers chart, and has been featured in a variety of media, from popular teen websites to The Huffington Post. Alexandra wrote a companion short story eBook, Secrets of the Time Society, to set up the sequel, Timekeeper. The sequel publishes on January 8, 2013.

Alexandra also integrated original music into the novels’ pages, writing two songs for Timeless, which she recorded with producer Michael Bearden (musical director of Michael Jackson’s last concert, This Is It). The songs were released on iTunes as a supplement to the book. A new song for Timekeeper will be released on January 8, 2013, produced by Heather Holley and Rob Hoffman.

Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where she is writing her next young adult novel for Random House.

Jenn

Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir

Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Book stats:
Reading level: YA
Hardcover: 288 pages
Genre: Time travel romance
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release date: January 8, 2013

Series: Timeless #2

Source: Review copy from AuthorsOnTheWeb

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

This sequel to Timeless combines breathtaking romance with a tale of complex magic in a story that will have every reader believing in the transcendent power of love.

When Philip Walker appears as a new student in Michele Windsor’s high school class, she is floored. He is the love she thought she lost forever when they said goodbye during her time travels last century. Overjoyed that they can resume the relationship they had a lifetime ago, Michele eagerly approaches him and discovers the unthinkable: he doesn’t remember her. In fact, he doesn’t seem to remember anything about the Philip Walker of 1910.

Michele then finds her father’s journals, which tell stories of his time-traveling past. As she digs deeper, she learns about his entanglement with a mysterious and powerful organization called the Time Society and his dealings with a vengeful Windsor ancestor. Michele soon finds herself at the center of a rift over 120 years in the making, one whose resolution will have life-or-death consequences.

At the end of TIMELESS, Michele sees Philip at her school in the present, an unexpected surprise. But this Philip isn’t her Philip: he looks and sounds like him but he doesn’t remember his relationship with Michele or anything about his previous life. It’s a really neat twist and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Michele deal with this situation. Modern day Philip is an enigma while past Philip was an open book by the end of TIMELESS; this adds a nice romantic conflict to the story.

My favourite part of the story, however, was learning more about the Time Society and about Michele’s father, Irving Henry. The book is no longer just told from Michele’s point of view — it also contains chapters written in Irving’s voice — and I really enjoyed them. I was a little nervous the first time I saw one of these chapters since books with multiple points of view sometimes lose their punch but Alexandra Monir has done a wonderful job of giving Michele and Irving distinct and appropriate voices. I found myself looking forward to the next Irving chapter since I learned so much about the Time Society and what it means to be a Timekeeper. There’s even a handbook, so we ge to see the rules that govern this hidden society. We also get some neat reveals about Michele’s abilities, which are quite special since she’s time-crossed.

On the whole, I really liked TIMEKEEPER but there was one aspect of the book that I wasn’t fond of: Rebecca. She’s one of Michele’s ancestors and she’s also capable of time travel. Unfortunately, she wants to kill Michele for a variety of reasons, which I won’t get into here to avoid spoiling the book for you. Rebecca is consumed by jealousy and hatred and she adds some menace to the story but I didn’t find that plot line very engaging.

TIMEKEEPER ups the stakes from TIMELESS, adding a twist to Michele and Philip’s romance, revelations about how time travel works, and, unfortunately, a character I really didn’t enjoy. While I would have preferred a Rebecca-free book, the introduction of this character does help us learn more about Michele’s family and her father’s relationship with the past and present Windsors. I’m not sure if there’s another book in the works but I do like how TIMEKEEPER wraps up. Michele has some amazing powers and I do hope that there’s another book in the works, so that we can see more of this wonderful Timekeeper world.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Timeless by Alexandra Monir Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Book stats:
Reading level: Young adult
Trade paperback: 304 pages
Genre: Time travel romance
Publisher: Ember
Release date: March 13, 2012

Series: Timeless #1

Source: Gift

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

I’ve recently discovered I’m a total sucker for time travel romance. THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE really resonated with me and I was hoping to have a similar experience with TIMELESS by Alexandra Monir. And while TIMELESS didn’t rip my guts out the way THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE did, I really enjoyed it and am happy that I have an ARC of the sequel waiting on my shelf because I love Alexandra Monir’s writing and the worlds she’s created for this series.

TIMELESS starts off with a huge tragedy that forces Michele to move away from her lifelong home in California to live with grandparents she’s never met. It’s a beginning designed to get you on Michele’s side from the get go and it’s pretty effective, though I did have some moments in the novel where I found Michele to be a bit juvenile. Not unreasonably so, given her circumstances, but her youth definitely shone through in certain moments. To be fair, of all of the contributors on the blog, I am the least likely to read YA, which may be why I didn’t click 100% with TIMELESS’ protagonist. That being said, Michele won me over as the novel progressed and I was completely engrossed in her story. By the time I hit the last third of the novel, I was desperate to see if she and Philip (the guy she meets in 1910) would be able to be together.

Alexandra Monir has a beautiful writing style. I love her voice. She describes all of the settings so vividly that you get a clear picture of both Michele’s modern life and what she sees when she travels back in time. I felt like the past was pictured in a very evocative manner and it really had a sense of place. You’re completely immersed in the past and those scenes were definitely my favourites. The author’s done a great job of capturing the romance of the past and also some of the practical differences.

Michele’s romance with Philip is also quite lovely. He has turn-of-the-century values s there aren’t many physical expressions of feelings. Instead, it’s all words and emotion, a nice, more old-fashioned change of pace from a lot of stories set in modern times. You can see the connection that Philip and Michele have, even after a few meetings.

I really liked the way that Alexandra Monir handles the time travel aspects of TIMELESS. The mechanics aren’t completely explained because Michele doesn’t completely understand what’s happening to her, but she makes some interesting discoveries and does contemplate the ramifications of her actions, which was refreshing. She’s not a genius but she tries very hard to understand what is happening to her and how it might impact the lives of those around her. I appreciate how much Michele thought about her impact on the past and can’t wait to see what happens next since TIMELESS ends in a really neat way.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Daring You To Read… Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

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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 ^^

When in comes to YA, BLOOD AN CHOCOLATE is high on my recommendation list. That’s why it’s the book I chose for this week’s Daring You To Read. The fact that I read this book at least five times in high school, proves how much I adore this book. Even if I haven’t read it in a while, I remember being obsessed with the characters, and with each and every scene. It’s shorter than most books so it’s a quick an easy read, but it’s still has some depth and great character interactions.

BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE is probably one of the first werewolves book that I read. And today, it’s probably the reason why I love werewolves so much. There isn’t too much lore and history about this pack of werewolves. What makes the book so interesting is the interactions within the pack and the duplicity of some of the characters. Since the old leader is dead, the pack is looking for a new one even if it means accepting new blood from outside the pack. Vivian, the sixteen year old main character of the novel, isn’t really preoccupied with the leadership (or lack of) since she isn’t in a rush to replace the old leader, her father. Since moving to a new town, she has decided to live a normal life, with as little contact with the pack as possible. And when it comes to her love life, she will have to decided if she truly wants a human as a lover, or if she’s better off with one of her kind.

The book isn’t just about werewolves. It’s also a book about a girl trying to find her place in the world, after losing her place. It’s about starting over even if it means letting go of the past. And it’s about finding what’s more attractive—blood or chocolate.

One last thing. Don’t see the movie. It’s really not worth it since the screenwriters changed the story completely. I rarely discourage people to watch movies based on books, but this is one of those rare times where I will. Instead, enjoy the book!

klause - blood and chocolateVivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?

Read an excerpt (Click on cover to read)

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

So what will you do this week? Will you take the dare?

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Trapped by Kevin Hearne

Trapped by Kevin Hearne Trapped by Kevin Hearne

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 320 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: November 27, 2012

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #5

Source: eARC from Random House

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.

Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.

Okay, before I start talking about the book, which can be summarized as AMAZEBALLS or SIX KINDS OF AWESOME, I need to send a little love to the talented Gene Mollica, the photo-illustrator who has brilliantly and gorgeously captured Atticus on the covers for the series — and now Granuaile as well. (He’s also done work for authors like Patricia Briggs, C. E. Murphy, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Molly Harper, J. N. Duncan, and L. A. Banks, to name a few, and you can see these, and more, over on his website.) Covers like these are why I’m so reluctant to switch over to only e-books (plus the whole licensing vs. owning thing). I love seeing this books on my shelves!! The cover for TRAPPED is by far the elaborate in the series and I’m just so thrilled to see Granuaile portrayed — and much as I’ve pictured her in my mind.

Now that I’ve gotten my artist fangirl squeeing out of the way, brace yourself for some author-related squee. No cover, no matter how gorgeous, is enough to keep me hooked on a series unless the words thrill me, and Kevin Hearne really knows how to deliver the thrill. TRAPPED is one of those books that you’ll start, get sucked into, and then wonder where the past three hours of your life went when you finally finish off the epilogue. The author writes engrossing stories filled with ever escalating action, humour, and world building and it takes a stronger person than I am to put one of his books down before the end. And TRAPPED is even more of a mind trap (ha ha!) than the previous Iron Druid Chronicles — Del Rey really ought to put a warning sticker on the cover!

So why was this book so great? It’s a bold step in the right direction for the series. One of the big risks? A twelve-year time jump. Time jumps are dangerous in any series (regardless of medium) and some are better executed than others. I was a little nervous when I first heard that Kevin Hearne was doing this but it ended up giving the series a nice kick that made the book exceptionally exciting. Granuaile has completed her training and she just needs to be bound to the earth to become a full-fledged Druid, which really opens up her role in the series. She’s obviously not as experienced as Atticus but she’s now better equipped to hold her own against the legion of folks who are trying to track them down. And she does it with flair. As much as I would have liked to see her throughout her training, the Granuaile we get in TRAPPED rocks my socks. And, for the shippers out there, we do get to see Granuaile and Atticus tackle their attraction and feelings for one another (but I’m not going to tell you what happens because that’s no fun).

There are other familiar faces who appear in TRAPPED, since most of Atticus’ acquaintances, allies, and enemies are long-lived, if not immortal. I’m not going to spoil it for you by saying who but we do see a lot of key characters from previous chapters of the series, some of whom appear in the most unexpected of ways. I love that Kevin Hearne keeps bringing surprises to the table while dealing with the ramifications of all of Atticus’ previous actions, which is really the heart of TRAPPED.

Fans of the one and only Mr. Hearne are sure to be thrilled with TRAPPED as it contains all of the wit, action, and pizzazz of previous novels, and more. Oberon continues to be one of the best animal sidekicks in the genre and you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting to see how Atticus will extricate himself from the situation that’s built up around him. If you haven’t preordered your copy, you best run to the bookstore or click on the links above so that you can see all this for yourself.

And if you want to chat TRAPPED, you can find me on Twitter or leave a comment below!

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

Jenn