Blurred by Tara Fuller

Blurred (Kissed by Death, #2) Blurred by Tara Fuller

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: Entangled
Release date: July 2, 2013

Series: Kissed by Death #2

Source: Review copy from publisher

Reviewed by: Helen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Cash is haunted by things. Hungry, hollow things.

They only leave him alone when Anaya, Heaven’s beautiful reaper, is around. Cash has always been good with girls, but Anaya isn’t like the others. She’s dead. And with his deteriorating health, Cash might soon be as well. Anaya never breaks the rules, but the night of the fire she recognized part of Cash’s soul—and doomed him to something worse than death.

Cash’s soul now resides in an expired body, making him a shadow walker—a rare, coveted being that can walk between worlds. A being creatures of the underworld would do anything to get their hands on. The lines between life and death are blurring, and Anaya and Cash find themselves falling helplessly over the edge. Trapped in a world where the living don’t belong, can Cash make it out alive?

The first book in this series, Inbetween, was the very first book that I was given for review. So obviously, when I had the opportunity to review Blurred, I was beyond excited! Blurred expands upon the storyline of Cash and Anaya, both of whom were side characters from Inbetween. I enjoyed Cash’s character so much in the first book, and getting a chance to know him better in Blurred was such a great experience. We also get to see a few glimpses into what’s happening with Finn and Emma as well.

In Blurred, Cash is in an expired body. He’s dying from the inside out. And there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Anaya is the reaper that is responsible for keeping him here on earth past when his soul was ready to move on. She’s been given orders to keep his soul in his body and ultimately deliver him to Balthezar when he gives the order. Even though she’s not sure her boss’s reasons for wanting Cash to himself are on the up and up, she’ll do anything to be reunited in heaven with her love, Tarik.

Everyone knows that there’s something different about Cash’s soul. He shouldn’t still be alive in an expired body, but his soul is hanging on. He’s suddenly able to force souls into corporality and to cross the boundaries between Heaven, Hell, and the Inbetween. And both sides are interested in using that to their advantage. But when an unknown stranger starts recruiting Cash as well, he has to decide who is truly telling the truth, and who has been lying to him the whole time. But his time is running out. His body will expire, and soon. And the shadow demons that have been hunting him are just waiting to devour his soul.

The characters in Blurred were vivid and the plotting definitely kept me turning pages as quickly as I could. This series does suffer from a twinge of insta-love. I had the same issues when reading about Finn and Emma in Inbetween, and was hoping that the relationship in Blurred would develop more organically, but unfortunately it was more of the same. Though I fell in love with the characters, there really isn’t much relationship building that we’re able to participate in. With all that said, I felt that the story line and the mystery surrounding the characters was more than enough to compensate for that.

Read an excerpt

 

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Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi AshtonEverneath by Brodi Ashton

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

Series: Everneath #1

Source: ARCycling

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force by Susannah SandlinStorm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
e-book: 342 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: June 18, 2013

Series: n/a

Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know i enjoy Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson’s work. Needless to say, when I heard she was writing a new paranormal romance that’s a loose offshoot of her Penton Legacy vampire novels, I was quite excited, especially since it was being released as a Kindle serial. But then I couldn’t get it because I lived in Canada so I had to wait until the full novel was written to get my hands on STORM FORCE. But I’m happy to report that STORM FORCE is a nice paranormal romance with a lot of suspense added in. It actually reads like a paranormal suspense novel that just happens to have supernatural characters in it, which is just my cup of tea.

One of the neatest things about STORM FORCE is that the lead couple have an unusual power dynamic. Mori is more than human and is consequently more physically powerful than Kell. It’s a pairing that’s less commonly seen in the genre and it was kind of refreshing to watch this alpha Ranger man deal with the fact that his romantic interest is being sparked by someone who could throw him out a window if she was in the mood. Thankfully, he knows that her strength doesn’t make him weak because I hate those characters who can only see others’ strengths as detractions. I adore strong women — in fiction and in real life — and I can’t stand it when people react badly to capable women.

Rant aside, I also like how much this novel stands alone. You don’t have to be familiar with the Penton Legacy books to read STORM FORCE so if the blurb appeals, you should pick it up. STORM FORCE reads very well as a stand-alone novel and you’ll quickly be sucked into the mystery of who set the bomb and why they’re framing Mori for it. The answer is unexpected — and revealed early enough in the novel that you’ll get to see the ramifications, which is great. Knowing the who and they why really up the stakes and it makes STORM FORCE a roller coaster of a novel.

There are also some nice humorous moments in STORM FORCE. One of my favourite characters is Robin, an eagle shifter with a lot of attitude. I really liked her boldness and also the fact that she was an eagle shifter since we don’t see a ton of avian shifters in the literature. I do hope she gets her own novel at some point because I’d love to spend more time with her.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful paranormal romance, look no further than STORM FORCE. Sandlin has created a great story with a compelling cast and you’ll be hooked from the first page!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

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Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

Arrow of the Mist by Christina MercerArrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

Book stats:
Reading level: Young adult
E-book: 270 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Self published
Release date: March 13, 2013

Series: n/a

Source: Review copy from Xpresso Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the veil of a forbidden land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia’s beloved father. Lia and three others embark on a quest to the forbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure. But after her elder kinsman is attacked and poisoned, she and her cousin, Wynn, are forced to finish the quest on their own.

Lia relies on her powerful herbal wisdom and the memorized pages of her late grandmother’s Grimoire for guidance through a land of soul-hungry shades, trickster creatures, and uncovered truths about the origin of Brume and her family’s unexpected ties to it. The deeper they trek into the land, the stronger Lia’s untapped gift as a tree mage unfolds. When she discovers the enchanted root’s maker, it forces her to question everything about who she is and what is her destiny. Ultimately, she must make a terrible choice: keep fighting to save her father and the people of the lands or join with the power behind the deadly roots to help nature start anew.

First of all, I’d like to apologies to Christina and Giselle of Xpresso Book Tours. This was supposed to go up on July 2 with Christina’s “When I’m Not Writing” post but I ended up celebrating Canada Day with a bad case of food poisoning so I didn’t have a chance to finish writing my review. I’m posting it now in the spirit of better-late-than-never since it’s a story I quite enjoyed and think that you might too.

Overall, I thought ARROW OF THE MIST was a solid young adult fantasy novel. I really liked the protagonist Lia. She kind of reminded me of Merida from Brave with her red hair and unladylike pursuits. And I adored Merida so this is a compliment in my eyes. =) I also liked how Lia has embraced the traditions of her family — the old ways — even when they’re not exactly popular with the locals or with the royal family. I think it shows her guts and strength of conviction, both of which are tested throughout ARROW OF THE MIST.

Fantasy fans will see many familiar tropes but this doesn’t detract from the story. You have your different races, like dwarves and fairies, and some archetypal characters like the sage grandfatherly figure and your Samwise Gamgee-type stalwart traveling companion but everything is well executed so ARROW OF THE MIST doesn’t feel like a retread of established ground. Each of the characters has enough personality to help them stand out, though I was most partial to Lia and her grandmother, who is dead but still has a strong presence in the novel thanks to her grimoire. I wasn’t terribly keen on all the rhyming going on in the grimoire — I found it to be a fairly repetitive device — but I did enjoy watching Lia puzzle out the riddles. Some of the answers seemed a big obvious but Lia acquits herself nicely throughout the story.

I think this book will appeal to fans of Maria V. Snyder’s Glass and Healer trilogies, and also Sarah J. Maas’ work, since ARROW OF THE MIST features a strong female protagonist in a coming-of-age story. It’s an enjoyable YA fantasy and I look forward to seeing what Mercer produces next.

P. S. How gorgeous is this cover? It’s one of the most eye-catching covers I’ve seen — traditional or indie pubbed — and I think the artist deserves major kudos. =)

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

Jenn

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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.

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Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

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

Series: Stand alone

Reviewed by: Helen

Source: Purchased

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

SHHHH!

Don’t spread the word!

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

You do NOT want to miss it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read an Excerpt

 

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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Dead Living by Glenn Bullion

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Dead Living by Glenn Bullion

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Genre: Zombies/Horror
Publisher: Permuted Press
Release date: January 12, 2013

Series: none

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Tour organizer

Purchase: Amazon

It didn’t take long for the world to die. And it didn’t take long, either, for the dead to rise.

Born on the day everything ended, a world filled with the walking dead is the only one that Aaron knows. Kept in seclusion, his family teaches him the basics. How to read and write. How to survive.

Then Aaron makes a shocking discovery. The undead, who desire nothing but flesh, ignore him. It’s as if he’s invisible to them.

The survivors of the old suburb of Lexington call a high school their home. They live day to day, without any of the luxuries mankind used to enjoy. Samantha is a product of the new world. Alone, cold, looking out only for herself. She and the other residents of Lexington feel their hope dwindling. They need change. They need someone who can face the corpses. They need someone who can live in a city of the dead.

They need Aaron.

I’ve been hooked on anything zombie lately. Simultaneously, I’ve been reading this zombie book, watching  a TV series on DVD about zombies (The Walking Dead) and playing a zombie video game (The Last of Us). All three are excellent and DEAD LIVING is no exception. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it, especially since it’s such a short book. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough character development or enough action, but since the author’s storytelling is right to the point, none of that was compromised.

While most of the story is held 23 years after the zombie apocalypse, I really like the fact the author still wrote about what happened before that, without being dragged through flashbacks. The book opens with the events that unfold the first day of the zombie apocalypse, which is also the day the main character, Aaron, is born. Then, were transported about 14 years into the future where Aaron loses his family and is left to fend for himself. And finally, the read story progresses as we follow 23 year old Aaron, who finally begins to trust humans again.

Ever since learning he has a special link with the dead, Aaron hasn’t been around humans all that much. Since the zombies don’t seem to want to eat him, he’s not afraid to live is a city inundated by them. Truthfully, it was humans that killed his family, and he feels like the real monsters might not be the zombies, but quite possibly the humans. Human survival can be a great and powerful thing, but for some people, surviving means letting go of morals and human decency. So when Aaron meets Sam (Sam to Aaron, Samantha to everyone else), he’s reluctant to follow her to her home base, but eventually decides to check out Lexington High School. Slowly, Aaron begins to trust other humans again and he quickly becomes an important member of the Lexington community. Everyone starts to look up to him, and Sam develops strong feeling for her new friend, despite her own reluctance to trust other people.

DEAD LIVING isn’t just a book about the walking dead, but a book on human survival. It’s realistic enough in the description of how people live, and the indecency of some human beings adds more conflict to the story. The book reveals a lot about the horrors of the human race like rape, slavery and human sacrifice. It almost makes you wonder who the real monsters are: the thinking, breathing humans or the mindless living dead.

For me, this was an excellent quick read, and exactly what I was in the mood for. Glenn Bullion succeeded in writing a memorable and readable book. He didn’t reinvent the zombie wheel but his original add-ons make this book stand out. His unique main character Aaron and Sam make you want to keep reading, and personally, a book is a success especially if you have characters that make you come back for more. While the secondary characters aren’t quite as developed as some, the fact that Glenn Bullion has Aaron and Sam seems to be enough. Bullion expertly captures the horror (and goodness) of the human spirit without being too gruesome in LIVING DEAD. It leaves you satisfied as a stand-alone book, yet truthfully I wouldn’t mind reading more about Aaron.

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Deep Dark Secret by Sierra Dean

Deep Dark Secret by Sierra Dean Deep Dark Secret by Sierra Dean

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
ebook: 272 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Samhain
Release date: February 5, 2012

Series: Secret McQueen #3

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The only good Secret is a buried Secret

Secret McQueen has hunted vampires, werewolves, and every conceivable supernatural menace-to-society. Seen it all? Not even close. When the queen of the were-ocelots comes to her for help finding a missing girl, the half-vampire/half-werewolf soon realizes how much she has to learn about the things that go bump in the night.

The case of the missing cat is one thing. Pile it up with her new duties as a Tribunal Leader, her tenuous position as mate to the king of the Eastern werewolves, and a slew of new (and unwelcome) supernatural abilities, and Secret is once again in familiar territory. Way over her head. But for this multitasking half-breed, it’s business as unusual.

What knocks her for a loop, though, isn’t her lover’s intoxicating kiss. It’s the missing memories rushing at her from out of nowhere, signaling a rapidly approaching fork in her destiny. Her choice will affect not only her life, but her love.

Warning: Contains a werewolf king with wandering hands, a creepy English professor with nefarious plans, and one hell of an unexpected gala evening at Columbia.

DEEP DARK SECRET is Secret McQueen’s third novel-length adventure and Sierra Dean has upped the stakes on both the romantic and political front. The previous two novels have focussed primarily on vampire business and added some werewolf romance but DEEP DARK SECRET turns that formula on its head, with the politics being werewolf in nature. Lucas’ territory is being encroached upon by Secret’s family and it forces Lucas and Secret’s relationship issues to the foreground of the novel. I’ve always found Lucas to be a bit high-handed and autocratic and I was none too pleased with his behaviour in DEEP DARK SECRET since he takes this behaviour to new levels. Thankfully, Secret doesn’t take to this very well, which leads to some awkward but important conversations. She does, however, go along with some of the situations he creates for the good of the pack, which shows how much she’s learned about her status in the pack and how her actions affect not only her own future but those of her packmates. It’s great to see her becoming more aware of the bigger picture, but it would be nice if Lucas wasn’t always forcing decisions on her. I hope that the next book, GRAVE SECRET, shows us a more considerate side of our determined werewolf king but I doubt it.

On the plus side, some of Secret’s other relationships (romantic and otherwise) are not so fraught, which is good considering she has to find Genevieve’s missing niece Lucy. The mission takes some interesting twists and turns and the series mythology expands to include previously undiscussed supernatural elements. The Big Bad is a type of monster common in urban fantasy and paranormal romance but Dean does a nice job of making it her own (and extremely icky). The climactic battle is really exciting and it has some nice surprising elements that I think everyone will enjoy.

We actually get to learn a lot about Secret’s past because an ex-boyfriend features rather prominently in DEEP DARK SECRET. Secret’s interactions with him give us a lot of insight into her character, and also highlight how much she’s grown since we first met her. There was one reveal in particular that will likely have serious ramifications for the series, but it comes towards the end of the novel so I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll just have to read DEEP DARK SECRET for yourself if you’re curious! 🙂

Though I didn’t like DEEP DARK SECRET as much as the previous installments in the Secret McQueen series, it’s still a fun, fast urban fantasy ride that delivers the level of action, humour, and sexiness I’ve come to expect from Sierra Dean. The characters continue to grow, Secret continues to kick butt and snark her way through all of her challenges, and her life gets ever more complicated. I can’t begin to guess what might befall Secret next but I can’t wait to read it!

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Jenn